RPG@QUT Matt's D&D

DM log-- Fallcrest 6

Once again into the log we go! It has been good to see the other log and wiki page updates, and see players make connections among the little bits of clues I leave lying about. Now we have another mystery on our hands, one with no connection to the mysteries of Fallcrest… or is there? After all, it was that eminent Fallcrestian Stoica which set in motion the current task.

More than ever before, this log will be bare bones to establish proper names and wiki pages, award Plot Points and XP, and make sure certain things are clear. But it won’t put in most details about this trail of clues—because I’d have to either write everything, which is exhausting, or write only the significant clues, which would give away too much!

The party finished up the consuming of brandy, cakes, and in the case of DTIS, fine tobacco at the faded mansion of the Helmfields with The Baron and his children Tom, Charlotte, and Buck. They gathered from The Baron more information about the history of the mine, the death of Emmeline, and the condemnation of Mikey, a young man from the Macduff estate. At least, they heard The Baron’s side of it. They got from The Baron a key to the double-locked mine and set off. The eldest son, Tom, followed for a while and gave some more information. Bastian stayed back to get more chummy with The Baron, while Amos decided to scout the surrounding area to see if the goblin threat was well and truly clear. He confirmed it was, with only a few minor skirmishes with lone or paired goblins who were obviously on the move, trying to establish a new clan structure. {Darcy and Aerro were not at the session.}

The mine’s iron door was set in the side of a steep, rocky hill, and a grille underneath allowed a stream to flow out of it, a stream which continued through the little valley the two families shared and which eventually ran to the Nentir River. The party of three—Theren, Zepher, and DTIS—used the key on one lock and Theren expertly picked the other one {using my new three-tries house rule for lockpicking}.

Behind the door was a long, straight, horizontal passage, with the stream cutting down it, hewn wide enough for two to pass one another, but no wider. The party gathered some clues that might have bearing on the incident with Emmeline and Mikey. To the left was another iron door, which DTIS tried to pound down. The resulting booms stirred activity up the dark passage, snarling and movement, so Theren quickly picked the lock and they all slipped inside, closing the door behind.

They entered a large hewn chamber with its ceiling supported by thick beams. Thin, curving, finger-like passages wormed out through the walls in several directions, just wide enough for a person to squeeze through. Two work tables were there, worn from extensive use. The party heard muttering and Zepher called out a warning. Then the party were attacked. Their foes were two humans with wild, overgrown hair and ragged clothes, covered with rock dust. Their fingers were ragged and bloody, pulsing with strange dark energy. Their faces had identical rectangular blast marks across both eyes, the skin within this sharp rectangle charred black and ruined, and their eyes a pure, glowing white. They did not seem to be able to see as a normal creature would but knew where their enemies were, and set to blasting them. They gestured with their hands to pull apart rifts in space, opening to an inky, terrifying blackness, from which gushed tongues of flame that struck the party heavily. They also could claw with hideous strength, hitting their target with fiery and necrotic damage. One of them screamed, “Darling Emmeline” as he struck. Unpredictable and implacable, they attacked until DTIS and Zepher lay dying. Theren, hidden, was readying for a desperate attack {Give 2 Plot Points to Theren for this heroism} when the two muttered, “Work’s done? Back to work. Work’s done? Back to work.” They crawled into the thin tunnels, soon to be heard digging. Theren crept in the dark to revive his two companions. DTIS was not very stealthy as he tried to move out of the chamber, which summoned one of the miners back, to strike him down again. Zepher, who had kept playing possum, helped Theren re-revive DTIS, and the three of them snuck out, with DTIS on the Tenser’s disc.

Thankfully the other side of the door was not occupied by any snarling beasts, and the party escaped the mine into a brilliant sunset.

As they recovered, they got a message. They recognised this was done by a ritual called Sending, which can put a message of 25 words or less into the head of a known person quite far away. The message was this: Brightest blessings to you from Pelor. I am Most Senior Engelholven. I bring radiant news of your fallen companions. Running out of words. 4000 gold.

As the ritual permits, they returned with a reply: Thank you most senior Engelholven. Please revise sums. Ercullum is a priest of Pelor. We will be in contact later. Doing gods’ work.

Having taken a deep breath, the three adventurers now consider their next move…

{Each in the party get 100 XP for productive general skill challenging and exploring over this whole session. No XP for the retreat from combat, though!}

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Volatile Ventures
Theren's Log

OOC: A fraction of my catching up I have left to do. These are Theren’s musings. They are not all true on the grounds that if he were to tell the truth it may not incriminate him.

At present I must relate to you the tales of what has befallen the party since our arrival at the city of Fallcrest. I must apologise for my delayed update – observant readers will probably note the time lapse – however I have been most surprised and amazed by where my journey has taken me, and the things the city has to offer! Most assuredly it has been a vicious, focused attack on my patience, my reasoning, and (most of all) my wallet. Fallcrest is certainly nothing like the country, but a vast alien landscape that at times makes me wish for the peace and quiet of the wilderness. Hells, even open battle would be safer and more relaxing than a stay in the Drake Tail’s Inn. The security on our rooms would have been difficult to breach … if I was blind and had no limbs. To anyone possessing at least one limb it was feeble – even laughable. In any case, no one had prepared me for the city.

I had thought the city would not be so different from the village on market day, but it is like a thick forest, where instead of trees there are people. There are vast walls like huge man-made cliffs, much larger than any building I have ever seen and they seem to be made as much to keep people in as to keep people out. I have barely been in here a full day, but already I am sick of my horizons being the thick stone of Fallcrest’s walls. I cannot imagine growing up in such a small world with so many other people. The walls must make the city dwellers feel secure. They can’t even see the outside world – I can only imagine them stepping outside the walls to a vast emptiness and finding themselves too fearful to go on.

Before we even entered the city we encountered extreme poverty. I was surprised to recognise the local dialect – more of a language really – it was the cant Lev used back in Harkenwold Village when he was planning out one of his secret schemes. We picked it up from a couple of Halfling guys who must have come from these parts. We never did find out their history, but in some cases (as Lev says) you don’t want to know. Lev’s always been a buff for secret languages and codes and stuff, so he made all of us learn it. Baron Stockmer wasn’t pleased when he found out, but it’s not as though he could stop us from speaking however we liked. In any case, it was a load of halflings. They seemed to be shunned – shut out of the city for no good reason & left to fend for themselves. They had none of the benefits of a city life, but all of the drawbacks & it seemed as though no one in the city could care less.

DTIS lost no time in finding himself the first woman who would take him into her bed for an acceptably modest fee. I think his pick up line went something along the lines of “not unless you put some makeup on”. At that point we probably should have become suspicious that he wasn’t slapped into an alternate dimension, but everyone was probably too horrified trying to simultaneously figure out how the whole scenario was supposed to play out & trying to immediately erase the thoughts provoked by the latter line of investigation. I tried unsuccessfully to talk DTIS out of the whole cock-up, but he was determined to have his way. While we waited, Bastion and Zephyr delighted the crowd with antics and a song, and I quickly realised that I would have to find a way to hide Jorn before anyone recognised him as the guy from the poster. Using the crowd as a distraction, I shoved Jorn onto his tenser’s disk, under that rug we got a while back, and sat on top, like a sultan on a flying carpet. Well when my attention came back to the rest of the party, Amoss was beating up halfing children, unable to deal with their boisterous city ways, while Zephyr and Bastion had drawn more of a crowd than they could cope with – only then realising that we were supposed to be keeping low profiles. Into the waist high crowd burst DTIS, flying from the lady’s house half clothed and shouting obscenities – clearly not satisfied with the service (and she seemed similarly dissatisfied if I might be so bold as to add).

Soon after that Bastion disappeared. For a short while I panicked, fearing the worst – then I found out that my imagination is so unbelievably limited when it comes to what the worst situation could have been. You see, I was worried that Bastion had simply been captured by someone, but in fact he had been dressing himself in the horrid clothes of the Halfling whore, and coating his face in about an inch of white pancake makeup. I think I have seen sideshow clowns with less makeup on. This did not, however, stop DTIS from sweeping the bastion-etta from her feet and attempting to find her bedding price with his usual amount of tact. I think I vomited into my mouth a little. Luckily before DTIS could lose all composure, a fine carriage rode through the narrow dusty streets, knocking people hither and thither, and practically screeching to a halt beside our group. After a brief babble of nonsensical Eladrin gibberish they stole Bastionetta. I suppose we had to let him return to his people sooner or later, but I had to say it was a bit of a shock. Still, no time like the time when he starts cross-dressing as a halfling whore, I say.

Just as we thought we’d managed to ditch the crowd, our team was approached by a Halfling who seemed very insistent upon learning whether the lands to the South were goblin free. When we said that they were indeed free of organised goblin activity he pressed harder to know how we could be sure – he even seemed to have heard of Fenstrom… The entire group was instantly reluctant to admit to our great deeds, fearing that it might draw too much attention while we are trying to lay low. In the end though, he was so desperate to know that we told him of our exploits. Almost immediately we became the best friend of everyone in that place. Soon enough we found them helping us sneak into the city in order to bypass the guards. Although the toll is not reputed to be that great, we couldn’t risk being noticed. DTIS, moved by the squalor the halflings were living in, proposed to donate money to teaching literacy to the children there (no doubt to be injected into the Halfling economy via very specialised small businesses). Before he could finalise any great schemes, however, we had to leave. The halfings started lobbing flaming canisters at the wall that encircles the city. We could tell just from watching that the guards and the halflings often fought each other. While the others were distracted I helped Jorn with distributing his wealth – apparently he has no use for small, easily hidden precious gems where he is going, and I felt honour-bound to help him. Hopefully someone worthy will find the gems.

We were forced to wade up river. I was still on tenser’s disk, and Jorn was most regrettably forced to travel entirely under water. I don’t think he minded – at least I took his non-movement as a sign of acquiescence (or maybe aqua-escence). In any case we soon found ourselves in some sort of sewer cross underground city. Jorn said something about blah blah cities built on cities blah but I can’t say I listened much to it. It doesn’t do to humour him after all. Soon we realised that we were being followed. We were confronted by some weird little people covered in black feathers with giant bird-like beaks. They were called kenku. DTIS was quaking in his boots at the mere sight of these jolly little fellows, but all they seemed to want was a gold coin. We let Amos play at diplomacy – unsurprisingly Amoss’ brand of diplomacy involves a lot more hallucinogenic mushrooms & stoned chickens than most people, but ultimately he managed to get us through for the one gold… it’s a step up from attack first & ask questions later, meaning we are making baby steps towards progress! Maybe one day we can stop him chewing furniture & burying our shoes as well.

We dropped Jorn off outside the gates to the Undercity. That idiot guard (I think he was also called Jorn? I didn’t want to ask him though in case he thought I was being racist – I mean I know not every dwarf is called Jorn!) wouldn’t listen to us when we vouched for Jorn’s innocence – he kept saying he had chowder in his ears or something. You’d think you would clean your ears out if they were so clogged with shrimp that you couldn’t hold a proper conversation but clearly those Pelor loving dwarfs are weirdos and freaks as well as possessing the usual dwarven thick-headed stubbornness – I mean I am starting to regret thinking Jorn odd, because compared to the other dwarfs I have met is probably the sanest, most reasonable of the lot. No wonder elves hate dwarves. We left as quickly as we could without looking too selfish. I did feel a little guilty because the guard had made it quite clear that Jorn would not be allowed to immediately re-join with his flock/herd/school (whatever a large group of wild dwarfs is called). It was a little sad really – kind of like when a mother animal turns their young out of the burrow because they smell funny or got deformed during birth or something. So anyway, promising to clear Jorn’s name (although I am starting to wonder how big a job that will be if every dwarf is called Jorn), and to find some sort of ear-cleaner for the guard, we set off on our merry way once more.

Leaving the sewers we quickly found our way into the city. We wasted very little time – in a relative sense –finding the Blue Moon Inn, which had been advised to us. When we got there though we discovered that not only did rooms come with a chocolate mint on the pillows, trouser press, & tea and coffee making facilities, they also seemed to be fitted with standard issue whores & the assumption that if you were not there for a ‘good time’ then you at least had the money for an okay-if-you-put-all-the-lights-out time. Amoss immediately began to spend his money on drink. I honestly think that someone needs to spend more time training him. He had spent more than a few silvers by the time we dragged him out of there. I didn’t want to spend too much on a room, and I thought to myself that a room without a lady in it might be cheaper for a group of adventurers just looking for a place to nap. I had to leave though, as the crowd made me feel conspicuous, and I had no wish to deal with Amoss. Outside I joined Zephyr, who was forced to sit in a back alley while all this was going on, as he was carrying Zumtle’s head & Ercullen’s head, and it was starting to smell powerful. I was about to strike up conversation when, with a loud crashing noise, DTIS was hurled out of the Blue Moon Inn by a couple of drunk town guards. Later on he swore to me that all he’d done was ask if there were any hotels about the place, but I doubt that would have been cause enough to hurl him out of the inn – not when he’s so much more offensive in so many other ways.

I waited in the shadows while they argued about fees and tolls, wondering if I should step in, or let the authorities teach DTIS a lesson in manners and discretion. Before I could even think of what I might do to stop the guards from beating my new companion & tossing him into the river, Zepher dashed forwards and threw twenty gold at the feet of the guards. Well they were happy with that – who wouldn’t be? Why I’ve saved whole villages for less than 20 gold. It was probably at that time that we should have taken all his valuables from him, alas insight is always clearest when it is hind-sight. Anyway we did a bit more brief poking around and finally found a cheaper inn. It was called the Drake’s Tail Inn. I think it must have been a special inn for adventurers because there were so many burly men in there & they all seemed keen to join up with one another to form two man parties – for adventuring no doubt. For some reason though I still felt as though I should be watching my back. We were also told that it would be more money if we all wanted to take a room together, so to keep the inn keeper at ease we bought two rooms amongst the five of us. All the goings on around us were a little furtive, but I have a healthy respect for the secrets of others so I didn’t ask any of the other burly adventurers what they were doing there, or what hidden dungeons they were set to explore.

The next day we moved on to a rather shadier inn called the Lucky Gnome or something. Zepher said he had someone to meet with. The tone of the place was somewhat hostile, but I quickly charmed the patrons with a skilful display of my fearsome cast-iron stomach. I neglected to tell anyone before now, but back home at the Snake’s Head I was nicknamed the One Mug Knockout. I think it was because I could knock out a mug of beer with one almighty quaff. I don’t really remember how or when I got the name. Zepher didn’t do too badly either, and between the two of us I think we earned the respect of the patrons. Soon enough he went off to meet his man. I don’t want to know what the rendezvous was about, and I suspect more gold than was strictly necessary changed hands, because Zephyr seems no more able to hold onto his money as he is able to hold onto a breeze. Sometimes I think I must be the only one who grew up knowing the true worth of coin, and every time I see Zephyr throwing it away I can’t help but flinch as though I’d taken a physical blow.

In any case, Zephyr told us of a way to get to high town without paying the toll. High town was apparently where we wanted to go. It hosts the shops and markets, and as such we needed to go there to trade. We could sneak up on a giant wooden lift, but it would take great cunning & luck, or so Zephyr had been told. Only myself and DTIS were brave enough to try this method, so we bade the others give us what valuables they would, that we might sneak them into high town without getting taxed. The first half of the plan went off without a hitch – Amoss stripped naked and caused a diversion, pulling his usual wolf antics. I think being nude helped because no one really wanted to get a good grip on him, and so he easily evaded capture long enough for DTIS and me to sneak into an upset apple crate. The journey up was uneventful enough. I wish DTIS had chosen another crate, rather than deciding to squash in with me. It was most disconcerting. At the end of the journey, when we could hear the crates starting to get unloaded, we chose our timing as carefully as possible. Dtis was the first out because he was the last in, and well… let’s not get into the dynamics of how small the crate was okay? He got out just fine under my expert advice, but he must have done something stupid because by the time I got out, there was a guard looking in my direction. Well the chase was on! Naturally there was no way they could catch me, being only dullard guards. I fled as quickly as my feet would take me & escaped by climbing onto the roof of a restaurant. Almost no sooner had I met back up with DTIS (by accident I assure you dear reader) we also found none other than Bastionetta, looking a little worse for wear. He… She…. Uh it was absolutely raving, determined to tell us about his night. It was a little like a carriage wreck – I didn’t want to know, but somehow I couldn’t turn my attention away. Turns out he had a bit of a run in – the eladrin in the carriage tried to get him into the highest most prestigious part of town in order to act as entertainment (of what sort I don’t wish to know) thinking him a crude mockery of some ‘Lady Jade’. Unfortunately in a ruse to pass him off as a drunk friend, they got him unspeakably smashed and then when he had no pass to get through, he was tipped into the wayside while they went on to Talltree Manor.

We quickly moved on to the temple of Pelor, wasting no time in seeking out someone who might assist us with our resurrection issues. The place was amazing. It may not have been flashy, and the incense may have been a little cloying, but I could feel the sincerity and the dedication wafting through the place like no mere perfume could. I am certain that this sect of Pelor has overcome great hardships, and I truly respect their unwavering devotion. Surely these must be true servants of the god. We were led to an antechamber, where we conversed with the wise Senior Durgen. Unfortunately their reviving priest wasn’t in. I offered that we could search for The Most Senior Engelholven, as there has been a spree of murders involving the clerics of Pelor, but Senior Durgen assured me that my expert assistance was unnecessary. In due course we left, having set the heads of Zumtle & Ercullen in a receptacle to keep them safe for when the Most Senior Engelholven could attend to them.

As I am writing this, I am waiting in the Temple of Erathis. It is a sumptuous place, but I feel it takes more pride in its riches than its power of devotion. The cleric there was mostly unhelpful, telling us to do her a favour before she would tell us about Bastion’s friend & his legacy, so now we have to carry a big box around and all. Bastion has run off to find his little eladrin friends at Talltree manor, promising he will be back. I am only going to wait an hour or two before I leave this temple & find someone who can help me with training Polly – not that I need help of course.

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DM log-- Fallcrest 5

Here is the bare-bones log for the last session. As always, players can add to the wiki and make connections that will reveal more than what appears on the surface!

The party awoke at their respective inns on 3 Ready’reat. {See timeline.}

The party, now united in Hightown, went to the Septarch’s Tower to collect Amos’ reward. There they met Silva, a simpleton halfling gardener, and Borm, a fussy employee. Zepher knew quite a bit about the tower {with a natural 20 on History} so he knew the following:

  • Nimozeran was the head of the tower, top of a hierarchy of wizards whose long-held job was to protect the city.
  • The tower did indeed have a strong role in the Bloodspear War holding off the horde and protecting Hightown in particular.
  • Nimozeran has been credited by the people with being the one who cured a strange plague which swept the town about 12 years ago. It popped up repeatedly for more than a year, while Nimozeran tried ineffectual cures.
  • The plague was contagious and involved a high, sweaty fever, then coma. Victims oozed a secretion from their skin which, when touched, spread the disease to another.
  • Nimozeran went away on a research trip and returned, and the plague suddenly cleared up. Nimozeran said he had nothing to do with it, but he had been seen in disguise administering a new cure to the people of Lowtown. He was seen casting a freezing spell on victims then taking them away. The victims woke up unfrozen, and cured.
  • Lately Nimozeran has been fanning a populist movement against the wealth and decadence of inner Hightown and the eladrin there. He is regarded as the best chance to overthrow this decadence, perhaps even deposing the irresponsible Lord Warden. He vows to crack down on law and order and flush the decadence from the city to restore economic balance again.

Furthermore, the entry room to the tower had an impressive display about Nimozeran, showing him in a blood-red somewhat military uniform. His portrait was surrounded by artifacts that Theren was clever enough to realise were similar in style to the cup they found in the tower puzzle, hailing from the northern mountains {Give (or maybe I already gave?) 1 Plot Point to Theren for this connection}. There was a small globe called an angel, which also was reputed to be from the north, and had something to do with discipline under pain. High up, the perceptive ones saw a Red Mirror, which was oddly tilted downward.

Amos got The Lucky, a fine scimitar (+2 Luckblade). First an eladrin named Jaydon and then Trabek came down to congratulate him. Zepher immediately turned Trabek into a toad, out of revenge for past transgressions. This resulted in a fierce, short battle. The rest of the party did not themselves attack Trabek and his guards, and Trabek soon left Zepher dying on the floor of the tower. The dark dwarf seemed to treat it as a kind of sport, and took as his prize a number of Zepher’s possessions. (Zepher cunningly {and using lots of Plot Points} stole back the +2 dagger taken from him.) Trabek, with a steely gaze, asked Amos to shake his hand to show that they were still friends. Amos refused and Trabek cast them all out—except Theren.

Trabek took Theren aside and had with him a muttered conversation which, strangely, the others in the party could hear quite well, as if the voice were coming into their own ears. In this conversation Theren agreed that his morality was more flexible than the goody-goody party he was with. Trabek revealed that he was helping to spread the word about Immil’s murder to give him more “leverage” to convince the admittedly cunning but irritatingly absent Jorn to deliver the skull. Theren bluffed successfully that Jorn did in fact have this skull that Trabek wanted. Trabek wanted to know where Jorn was, and Theren revealed that Jorn was in The Basement. Trabek offered Theren to come back soon and bring his fellow (gullible) party members with him, to show the calling card and get admission to a gathering of powerful men. This gathering was set to happen any day now, as it involved some visitors who were supposed to have arrived already. Check back every couple of days, Trabek invited. Theren said sure.

{Give 3 Plot Points to Zepher for his bold RP-justified move attacking Trabek. Give 3 PP to Amos for his fateful and RP-justified decision not to shake Trabek’s hand. Give 2 PP to Theren for sticking to his persona in conversation with Trabek. Note: I am still figuring out exactly how to award Plot Points. See their page for my latest formulation.}

The party got an extra 2 nights and a safe (3g per night for guests) at the Silver Unicorn Inn to keep all their stuff. They left Lev in charge of watching the room at the Blue Moon (sadly without any companionship, but with the hit book 49 Shades of Grey, which is Dwarven erotica dreamed into being by Theren’s Plot Points.)

The party set off south to the Moon Hills. They noted that the halfling refugees outside the gate had largely moved on, and during their travel south they saw some of them cleaning up their little farms and homesteads. Many of them recognised and cheered on the heroes. However, at one farm, there were freshly killed halflings, apparently done by straggler goblins. The defeated halflings were unarmed and unarmoured.

Soon they arrived at the site of the Moon Hills feud. There they met the first family, the Helmsfields, and heard about the other family, the Macduffs.

{Each in the party get 200 XP for productive general skill challenging and exploring over this whole session}

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DM log-- Fallcrest 4

Here is the bare-bones log for the last session. As always, players can add to the wiki and make connections that will reveal more than what appears on the surface!

Bastian was led to Talltree House by the guard. On the way he saw how incredibly rich inner Hightown was. The house itself was one of great wealth and power. Bastian was led by a halfling butler, dressed as a panda, through many rooms full of wealth, waste, and intoxicated guests, most of whom were passed out and the others of whom were involved in various decadent activities. He was led to a dining room in which they met Lady Talltree, who was fabulously drunk. She invited Bastian up to her bedroom for a performance. But once there, Bastian was beset by guards and a very not-drunk Lade Talltree, who put a knife to his throat and demanded to know who sent him as an assassin. Bastian’s bluffing did no good and his makeup was forcefully removed. Lady Talltree recognised him as one of the party wanted for the murder of Immil, and soon (with some help by Bastian) convinced herself that Bastian did all this not to assassinate her but to get her attention, prove his worth, and accept hire as her personal assassin to infiltrate Jade House and kill Lady Jade. To this end he was given security passes for himself and his “party of assassins”. These allow them to pass without tax on any goods that have a security use, such as weapons and equipment. {Give 2 Plot Points to Bastian for this accomplishment.}

When brandishing these passes, eladrin examiners who work with the guards peer at them through a special gem to gauge their authenticity. DTIS examined this gem and realised he had special insight {having gotten 20 on the Perception check} that would allow him to make such a gem for his own use. This would be done with a standard Create Magic Item ritual and is a L9 item, though this insight allows DTIS to make it now.

The party members in Lowtown, visited by one of the members who came as an emissary from their Hightown position, decided to pay for better accommodation to protect their stuff, which they needed to leave behind as they went back to Hightown. They rented a room for a week at the Blue Moon Alehouse, at considerable expense. Not sure when they would return, they appointed Lev as a guard in the room, and to keep Lev out of trouble, bought for him some female companionship for 15 gold. Lev was happy with this arrangement. They told him they may not be back for a few days.

They went up the grand stairs to Hightown, and paid the 30% tax on the few things they brought up. Zepher used his disguise and did not seem to be recognised, though it remains risky to do, especially as they go past town guards. The party sees “wanted” posters here and there, and can occasionally hear people talking about the murder of Immil and the reward for capture of the criminals.

They checked in at the House of the Sun but were told that Most Senior Engelholven was back, but not feeling well, and that they needed to wait a bit longer to learn of the prices involved for reviving the dead.

They went to the Nentir Temple and talked with its leader, Stoica. Bastian managed to bluff her about being an entertainer for Talltree {quite a hard feat; 1 plot point awarded to Bastian for daring} and avoided having to reveal his real identity. She still, however, discouraged him from fanning the flames of the destructive rivalries that such houses in Fallcrest have for each other.

When Bastian asked about Mikal’s artifact, Stoica offered some piercing questions about the purpose to which Bastian would put the artifact. Partially satisfied by the answers, she set Bastian a task of civilisation which would prove that he has the right intentions. She told him of a mine in the Moon Hills which used to be very productive, a fine case of the wilds being tamed and used for the ends of civilisation. But a feud has broken out between the families that own and run the mine, and the mine has falled into disuse. She challenged Bastian to go there and use his powers of reason and persuasion to mend the rift, get the families to again work together, and have them open this chest. She gave him a large chest which has keyholes at either end and the initials H and M interlocked in a crest on top. She said the families would know what to do with it once the feud was mended. {This quest will be called the Moon Hills feud.}

In a wing of Nentir Temple dedicated to worship of Ioun, Zepher deposited in their library notes he had taken about the arcane energy collector made by Michelevi in Daggerburg Keep. This was noted by a scholar there who appreciated the addition, and who may give some extra help when this library is used for any arcane research. {Give 1 Plot Point to Zepher for this nice bit of extra colour.}

Theren {spending Plot Points} found an exotic animal trainer who worked with Theren to train the lizard Polly not to run away, and gain the capacity to learn a few simple tricks befitting a sadly low-intelligence animal. {Each trick takes a day of work to teach, similar to learning a ritual, and an extra dose of food; three tricks max}. Theren came away with a couple weeks of food, and knows how to gather more with a Nature check, though more can be bought at this same shop.

Amos started training Concorde to be a warhorse, which will cost 650 gold. This training is done by a halfling in Lowtown, and will take a week. {Give 1 Plot Point to Amos for this dedication to the steed.}

They all paid and stayed overnight at the Silver Unicorn Inn except Amos, who stayed with the (very happy) Lev at the Blue Moon.

{Each in the party get 200 XP for productive general skill challenging and exploring}

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DM log-- Fallcrest 3

A quick log to prep for the upcoming session. As always, this mostly lays out the bare bones and establishes the right page links; it’s up to you all to remember and record any details!

Zepher remembered {by spending plot points} that his father’s troupe had a spy named Vilkis, a shady human with a gift for infiltrating the underbelly of society to mine its secrets. After some asking around, Zepher, Amos, and Theren found Vilkis in the Lucky Gnome Taphouse, near the docks in Fallcrest. Entering this establishment took some daring as it was dominated by dwarves who did not take kindly to outsiders waltzing into their local. However, after some even more daring drinking by the troupe, the dwarves accepted them (or at least found them a source of amusement) and contact was made with Vilkis at a back table. He told them a bit about how to get into Hightown without paying the ridiculous toll.

After Zepher asked Vilkis about who he thought might have stolen his stuff, Theren revealed that it was in fact himself who had stolen it. {Though I have all the notes about the theft, I’ll leave it to Theren to tell the tale if he chooses!} In short, it was done while sleeping in the first room of Daggerburg Keep under the flag of “protecting our wealth in case Zepher goes berserk or gives up in front of a gelatinous cube again”. The stuff was returned.

{2 Plot Points to Zepher for discovering this crucial information. 1 Plot Points each to Amos and Theren for dealing with the tavern crowd entertainingly.}

Zepher got a disguise kit! He also intimidated a River Rat, a thuggish looking human young male who tried to roll him. Zepher paid the Rat 10gp to be his bodyguard and spread the word that he is not to be hassled anymore.

Following the advice of Vilkis, DTIS and Theren snuck onto the portage lift. Sneaking in was a success. Sneaking back out again, not so much. Theren was spotted and had to flee. However, with some fleet feet through a café and a clambering up a wall, he evaded the pursuing dockworker. {1 Plot Point to DTIS and Theren.}

While walking the trade road through Hightown, Theren and DTIS bumped into a dazed-looking Bastian, who told him his tale: The carriage he had been picked up in was inhabited by two rich Eladrin only known as L and T, and a beautiful human woman whose face was covered by a silver mask with no eyeholes that made her voice ring like a gong. She was always turning her head and reaching out as if looking at and touching things. She talked quietly and constantly but made no sense, and the others paid no attention to her. L and T mistook Bastian for an entertainer hired to come to a party at Talltree House, which was inside the wall in Hightown. Bastian happened to look like Lady Jade, the matriarch of Jade House, and this was a viscious mockery of the unfashionable lady. The fun was interrupted by an inspection. The Eladrin gentlemen said, “Great silver sluts! We’re going to be inspected. What a bother. Get out your damned Interior Pass, ‘Lady Jade’.” But having no such pass, the backup plan was enacted: to make Bastian pass out from drink. This happened, but did not have its desired outcome.

Bastian awoke on the grass on the wrong side of the inner wall of Hightown, behind a bush, very hung over. On his chest was pinned a note written in very ornate letters in nearly illegible silver ink on excellent paper. It read: “Good ‘Lady Jade’, it is so regrettable you did not have your blasted Interior Pass. I tried to pass you off to the guard as my personal guest who had too much to drink and would vomit everywhere if disturbed. But this ruse sadly did not gain traction with the droopy-eared philistine. It’s a pity these guards are necessary but you are doing your own part in the war effort, so keep up the good work ‘Lady Jade’. Once you get a new pass, do come to Talltree before the party winds down. You will be a smashing hit. With fondest regards, L and T.”

Theren and DTIS helped their friend by pointing out that his lipstick was smeared, so they did a bit of shopping.

Then, to the main business, which was for these three to bring to the Pelor temple in Hightown the increasingly smelly heads of Zumtleheath and Ercullum. They soon found the House of the Sun and in it met an officious priest named Senior Durgen. After some exchange of coin (though not nearly as much as they would have paid had they not the foresight to have bought an appropriate “receptacle” in which to remit the heads) they left the heads at the temple, disappointed to learn that the priest who could raise the dead, The Most Senior Engelholven, was unexpectedly not on the premises. A note will be sent to them about the required costs for raising these two from the dead. {1 Plot Point for Bastian, DTIS, and Theren for this achievement.}

Meanwhile, Zepher and Amos were cooling their heels in the Blue Moon Alehouse in the hopes that Bastian would show up there, and because Zepher was not so sure his new disguise was ready to try out in a Pelor temple. There they talked with the innkeeper Par about his previously intimated arrival of Lilliana. To secure a spot at the front of the queue to spend private time with the elf, presumably for heroic and not carnal purposes, they gave Par a deposit of gold. {1 Plot Point to Zepher and Amos for this creative solution.}

Bastian sought out the temple to Erathis which may hold a clue as to the location of Mikal’s artifact. Unfortunately the Nentir Temple was entirely inside the inner wall of Hightown, and the guards did not fall for Bastian’s simpering story of having lost his Interior Pass. But Bastian assured them that Lady Talltree was expecting him/her, and with a small bribe, one went off to convey this message to Talltree House.

And that is where we leave the story for now!

{For all this, each party member gets 100 XP for general skill challenging.}

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DM log-- Fallcrest 2

The party continues in Fallcrest, tying up loose ends and getting into new intrigues. As before, these logs will not record most of what happened; the players will do that with logs, and more particularly by editing wiki pages.

As they approached the city, Bastian {whose player Aerro was not present} had an unexpected encounter. Up the small muddy road they were traveling came a very rich, highly decorated, one might say ostentatious carriage drawn by two snowy white horses, their manes tied with gold wire and jewels. Atop it sat a few serious-looking guards. The windows of the carriage were drawn shut, and projected onto the silk shades from inside came flickers of bright, silvery light and flashing silhouettes of the people within. As the vehicle approached, it scattered people and animals out of the way, and it squashed more than a few chickens and hovel walls. The carriage stopped when it came to our heroes, the shade flew up, and the glass window swung open. Out poked a head of an eladrin gentleman, wearing a fine suit of deep blue silk fabric, lined with silver thread. He had exquisitely coiffed hair and a powdered face and eye liner—though not nearly as extravagant as Bastian, on whom the rich eladrin focused. “Ho there— what a fabulous costume! Ohh—I get it! That’s brilliant—look at this!” he called back to his companions in the carriage. Out of the next window appeared an eladrin woman, herself looking like the genuine article of the grand dame that Bastian was made up to be, with a gigantic piled wig. (See Fallcrest eladrin elite woman for details about this type of denizen.) Her clothes, unlike Bastian’s, were extremely fine, with pearls and gemstones sewn into a silver silk.

She looked at Bastian and broke out in peals of well-accented laughter, saying “Oh gods—what a delicious sight you are! You are the very image of Lady Jade. Those clothes—where on earth did you get them? A cunning cut to Lady Jade’s unfashionable soul. You simply must come with us; Lady Talltree will make you her favourite performer!” The carriage door flew open. DTIS tried to intervene but was too slow. Everyone was transfixed as Bastian, knowing an opportunity when he saw it, and charmed by this couple, accepted their outstretched hands and stepped in. The door slammed shut and off the carriage went, scattering more peasants, and soon whisked through the southern gate of Fallcrest.

The party, one bard lighter, moved closer to the city and were approached by Jemam and Senem, halflings who had fled from the south, typical of the many refugees they had seen. Jemam’s dark face was crusted all over on one side with scabs from a terrible claw mark, and Senem, extremely elderly and blind, had tears in her eyes as she told them of her plight. (By coincidence they used an argot of Common that Theren knew very well {rolling 20 on History}.) They wanted to know if the goblin menace in the south was indeed lessened, as they had heard in rumor over the last few days. Senem in particular wanted to go home to bury her two sons, killed by goblins and left to rot in the fields as she fled with her neighbor Jemam for the safety of the north. The heroes were reluctant to give the refugees the all clear—though they confirmed they had killed a wizard who was organising the goblins, they could not be sure that all were gone. They said that if they were ready to fight a few odd goblins here and there, it should be safer then before. “We can fight!” called out the gathered crowd of halflings, raising sticks, rakes, and crude staffs. The party resolved to give these poor denizens some proper weaponry before the refugees left, likely the next morning, to take back their homelands. As a token of solidarity, Amos gave Jemam his scimitar. Jemam accepted it with awe and many thanks. This make them all great heroes among these poor people who extended them every hospitality: food, bed, drink, anything they wanted. Amos entrusted them with Concorde who was immediately fed handfuls of oats and led off into the slums. Theren and Jorn used the premise of needing a piss to hide a 100gp gem in a slum alleyway where an urchin would find it— part of a scheme by Jorn to anonymously give away his wealth to purify himself before going to The Basement. Meanwhile Zepher was provided a basic disguise by his new halfling friends: a false beard and cloudy monacle. {+1 to Bluff checks to evade detection as the wanted wizard from the poster in The Accusation. The party stated their intention to get into Fallcrest via the Fallcrest sewers and the halflings supported them with a distraction for the Fallcrest southern guards as the heroes slipped into the river. The distraction involved the tossing of incendiary cocktails and hurling of rocks, which engaged them in a shower of arrows from the guards. These halflings looked well practiced at this kind of ferment, and only a couple of them were hit by the arrows, which they bravely pulled out of their shoulders to throw more rocks. Amos was tempted to help them, but the other halflings said distraction is for you, all will be fine, into the river you go. So they did.

They clutched the stone embankment and worked their way up the strong current until they got to the mouth of Moonwash Stream. They then slipped up these calmer waters. Jorn continued his gem giveaway, flinging two more gems into the back of shops. They gained entry to the sewers.

The sewers were the original streets and buildings of Fallcrest, which had been built on top of hundreds of years ago to protect Lowtown from the flooding of the Nentir River. So it was creepy going among the dark and crumbling buildings, avoiding swarms of rats and pits of ordure. Dungeoneering kept them safe. As they went they encountered the Featherdagger Gang, a clan of kenku who apparently claim the sewers as their turf. Clearly outmatched, the gang contented itself with a 1gp toll to let the adventurers pass… this time. The only harm done was to Amos’ chicken, who he fed some more mushroom to make it seem more menacing, and who was suffering the aftereffects for the next day.

The party found The Basement in the basement of a ruined Pelor temple. There they were stopped by a dour guard also named Jorn, a common name {this cost a plot point}, who said that Jorn could not be taken in as he was a wanted dwarf thanks to The Accusation. However, he will allow Jorn to live in the guardhouse until his friends can clear his name, perhaps by going to Cavendor Town to investigate and find the real murderer. This would also clear the names of Zepher and Bastian, which would allow them to move about civilisation without ridiculous costumery….

At some point during the conversation Zepher spilled the beans that they had been carrying around the severed head of Zumtleheath, which was getting harder and harder to conceal due to the terrible smell. DTIS was horrified but calmed down when convinced that it was being kept for resurrection. Perhaps having a clear target for his halfling affection will be good for DTIS and the whole party.

The party decided not to keep moving through the fetid sewer and instead climbed the buildings of old Fallcrest to reach the street level of current Fallcrest. They went through the streets, Zepher worried that he would be recognised, and ended up at the Blue Moon Alehouse, which was hopping with activity this night. {All in the party get 2 plot points for reaching the inn, and each get 200 XP for this and the previous Fallcrest play session.}

There they (or at least Amos) had some fine ale served by Par, a fat human innkeeper. Supposedly the brains behind the ale operation was Kemara, but she called from the back room that she was too busy to meet the newcomers. The party asked to stay the night but Par revealed, with much innuendo, that the rooms in the inn were not exactly intended for sleeping, nudge nudge. He required the princely sum of 50gp per room, per week, one week minimum. He detected the obvious interest from DTIS about the goings on in the upper rooms and shared covetly with the mechanical man the happy news that they were expecting, this very night, the arrival of a party from the famed north who brought very entertaining and accomodating ladies of great beauty. He was especially proud to share that a new member of their troupe, named Lilliana, was especially highly anticipated. On inquiry it was revealed that Lilliana was a recent addition to the group, an elven woman of extraordinary beauty and grace. The innkeeper was worried that the troupe had not yet arrived—he had been given a message to expect them that afternoon, and now it was quite late. Something must have delayed them.

There was an altercation with the town guards as DTIS asked them, interrupting their drinking, where there was a more economical place to stay the night. The guards pointed out that they had been working the south gate all day and never saw DTIS or his companions pass through, and therefore they must have evaded the 1gp “toll”. DTIS gave them lip, not appreciating the insult to Erathis given by such bribery. Soon he was frogmarched out by the three guards, shoved up against a wall, and reminded of the toll, which had increased to 5gp. After futher protest the toll increased to 10gp, and was further enforced by a sword to the throat. The confontation was defused by Zepher, who had been hiding miserably outside, and who threw 20gp at the guards to make them go away to spend their new fortune.

A bit of poking about revealed that there were a few far shabbier but cheaper inns nearby, so the party landed in one. Theren had negotiated a fee of 5gp for 2 rooms for 2 nights in advance. These were not nice rooms, with terrible beds and worse security, but they crowded in for a good sleep.

In the morning everyone checked their belongings against theft. All came up well except Zepher, who was missing nearly all his gold, his residuum, and the bits of gold chain from the minotaur necklace. His first thought was of Lev, who he interrogated, but who had a believable protest that he would never steal from those who saved his life, and besides, why steal from Zepher on his bed in a windowless room, and not from Amos who was sleeping drunk on the floor by the doorway? On more reflection {with an Int roll}, Zepher realised his his coin purse had been quite light the night before when he threw the coins at the guards, and he had not actually checked over his possessions for quite a while. He was pretty sure that as of the night before their sleep in Daggerburg Keep, after they were routed the first time by the gelatinous cube, he had checked over his things and nothing was missing. But he could not be entirely sure, and may be off by a day in either direction. Zepher was very upset to have lost several hundred gold worth of valuables.

Such was their first night in Fallcrest. On the positive side, fewer monsters intent on chewing their bones. On the negative, a day and night of cackling eladrin, rambunctious halflings, sewage, rats, thieves, rebuffs, paranoia, corruption, unsavory professions, bedbugs, and robbery. Which is more perilous? The adventurers will find out as they dig ever deeper into the myriad discoveries that await them in this city struggling to survive among the dark wilderness.

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DM log-- Fallcrest 1

Fenstrom vanquished, the party now can tie up many loose ends. As a welcome break from epic doings, they plan to go to Fallcrest and enjoy some time poking around a bit. As such, these logs will not record most of what happened; the players can do that with logs, and more particularly by editing wiki pages. Fallcrest contains a vast network of people, places, and things, so keeping up with the wiki will certainly allow the players to extract the most from the place. Many things are already waiting to be discovered. Others remain secret but will appear with a little digging. Still other things I will make up as I go! :)

The main point of the logs is to establish the proper wiki pages. But if I have not made a page, feel free to make one. (Just be sure to look for an existing page before you do. From the Home tab you will find a link to the list of all pages.) To make a new page, throw square brackets around it, as you do when referring to an existing page. The link will appear in your text when you save the page. Click it to start your new page. When you name your page, keep in mind that capitalisation counts, and I favour using lowercase whenever possible, so it’s easier to throw linked words into a sentence. For example, the page tower treasures instead of tower treasures. Of course, proper names still should be capitalised, such as the Bizarre Bazaar, being the name of a shop.

Keep in mind I very much welcome new things being made up by the players, especially if it adds to your backstory or the way you relate to the world. Or do it about anything. Just try not to make anything blatantly advantageous, unless you want to spend Plot Points for it. See things such as Bizarre Bazaar and Rökholm for examples.

The party reflected on the battle with Fenstrom and felt more confident than ever. {XP earned was 1389 / 5 = 277 each for Fenstrom and the monsters, 200 each for completing the major quest to defeat Fenstrom, 150 each for closing the portal, 80 each for rescuing Lev (which I forgot to award earlier). Grand total 707 XP each!}

Zepher was devastated by the revelations about his father and mother, and numbly followed the party for a while. {Callum was away.} The Stek-and-Kat combo had been called by Kord when they had returned Lev to the surface, and they have not heard anything since. {Kat and Phillip are still welcome to drop in, though!} Jorn was woozy from Vilma’s tea and followed in a docile manner. {Scott was playing DTIS and escorting Jorn.}

The party went back the way they came. The untied the guards from the antechamber, though they were still unconscious.

In the lab of Michelevi they scrounged up some more items, including an alchemy text and materials for DTIS {who added alchemy as a feat}. Strangely, now the items on the hex floor showed signs of having been there for a few hours with expected effects: the crucible of molten lead was a warm hard lump, the snow and ice were a puddle, and the balloon was deflating already.

The party realised that they could not take the whole body of Ercullum with them, as they would still need Wizard’s Escape to get out of the Keep easily. Theren happily hacked off the head. The body, plus the body of Michelevi, they put into a large pile of wooden furnishings which they constructed to get close enough to the ceiling to climb out of the lab. With some oil and a torch, the bier went up in flames.

The party slipped up to the cave fissure and then out through the same passage they used to rescue Lev. Soon they were in the fresh air again, and it was decidedly less gloomy than before as they looked at the ruins of the Keep. Soon they found Concorde and set off east, with hobbling Lev riding the horse. The party camped near the road to Cavendor Town.

They woke up the morning of 28 Patchwall—see timeline. They set off north and crossed the White River by ferry—while dealing with perilous swooping bird attacks. They joined the King’s Road and set off toward Fallcrest , with an advance group scouting ahead to warn those subject to The Accusation if anyone approached. This precaution did some in handy a few times as they encountered wary traders, their wagons bearing a few bodyguards, looking at the party with great curiosity for walking with such confidence in a dangerous land. They camped near the road at the end of the Moon Hills.

They awoke on the cold morning of 1 Ready’reat—see timeline. Winter was fast approaching but they were still reasonably comfortable. Bastian realised this was the first place his doomed party camped on their way to the Twisting Halls, and he did recall that Mikal woke early that day and took a hike into the hills. That must have been where he hid Mikal’s artifact. However, the shrine to Erathis could be anywhere in the mazelike hills. Bastian realised he had to take the note literally to “deduce” where Mikal went by talking to those at the temple to Erathis in Fallcrest.

As for Fallcrest, they knew their best way to get in undetected was from the south. So they headed west through the Moon Hills until they reached the Nentir River, then followed its bank north along a trail. They came upon more and more little farms tucked into the hills, mostly populated by halflings. Quite a few farms were burned out by goblin raids and some were still smouldering.

As they approached Fallcrest, the farmlands gave way to slums. Sparse at first, the shacks and hovels formed a favela of extremely poor halflings with the occasional human. Some may have been farmers who lost their land; others seemed to be one of a long line of generations living here, making do by any means possible. A number of them looked like dockworkers, who might go to Fallcrest to use their small frames and quick hands to make the most of every nook and cranny on every ship coming up the river and packing its cargo into Fallcrest’s portage elevator.

Here the party was soon mobbed by poor kids looking for handouts, whose numbers muliplied once the handouts began. It got a bit dicey until Amos knocked back some punks. Meanwhile, DTIS made an offhand remark about “bring on the wenches” which quickly landed him a proposition by a halfling whore. While gamely accepting this quest, DTIS caught a thief about to loot his bag, which sadly interrupted the fun. Later, Bastian snuck into the woman’s hovel while she was proudly showing off the gold coin she earned so easily. He painted his face with thick white makeup he had found in Michelevi’s junk, stole a headscarf and applied a few dabs of lipstick and rouge. He emerged looking quite a bit like an eladrin grand dame. DTIS, still surging with amorous ardor, fell temporarily in mad lust with this new companion, sealing the likelihood that this disguise would allow Bastian to enter Fallcrest unrecognised. Jorn, meanwhile, was hidden under the Twisting Halls rug, floating on his Tenser’s Disc, with Theren riding on top of the whole thing like a sultan on top of a flying carpet.

Getting to Fallcrest is a minor quest in itself, so 50 XP each.

Now they approach the southern wall of Fallcrest at night. {See an updated Fallcrest page, which is a jumping-off point for links to other places within.} Jorn and Zepher, who might be recognised as wanted, will follow DTIS into the sewers, which the mechanical man knew how to navigate thanks to his junior assassin training. They hope to get to The Basement. Bastian, still disguised as a lady, Amos, Concorde, and Theren will go through the gate. They all plan to meet at the Blue Moon Alehouse. So a new phase begins, with fewer monsters to slay, but who knows what evil lurks in the heart of man?

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Unmitigated Umbrage
Theren's Log

[TITLE]:
The most fantastic battle wherein Fenstrom is defeated by his own foul magics, Ercullen’s body shows up again, and Jorn comes back to life through the aid of Vilma’s magic tea.

Finally the end to this epic adventure is upon us – the thrilling climax of the story of the evil Fenstrom and his dastardly plans. I tell you now, dear readers, the future of Nentir Vale is bright with such as The New Adventuring Company & their Brilliant Leader Theren keeping the peace, for we are the finest band of adventurers that ever there was. Allow us now, however, to slip back into the narrative as The New Adventuring Company faces off against their nemesis – Fenstrom (AKA Stormy).

Dropping down through the hot coals did not prove as excruciating as most people would make it out to be. I remember sermons about those who worship Orcus being laid out on hot coals by Pelor and the like, but having nestled amongst hot coals now myself, I can safely say it is not as bad as I had imagined. Below the coals was a grate, and attached to the grate was a rope that offered a way down from the ceiling to the floor – a 30 foot drop. DTIS and Amoss were the first ones out, dangling precariously in the open air above Fenstrom’s base of operations. This did not go unnoticed by Fenstrom, who immediately attacked them with small talk. The idle chatter had them immobilised for some time, but finally the battle began when the wizard ran out of ammunition. Fenstrom hitched up his skirts and fled for cover before I could appear, no doubt fearful that one of my well-aimed bolts would crash into him like a bolt of lightning from above, striking him dead.

It is too bad he did not set up some sort of trap for us there, as there was a great deal of difficulty getting down – mostly caused by a wight who had laced his crossbow bolts with a paralytic agent that slowed anyone who was hit. Below us was a pool of the same blood as had been in the room above. It ran from the puddle along narrow grooves, neatly framing a glowing arcanic-looking circle of power. Beyond the circle was an erect archway to the Shadowfell, through which giant tentales of darkness protruded. Black mist billowed out of the portal and lay thick on the ground. At the opposite end of the room to the portal was a giant statue of Orcus, while adorning the remaining two ends of the room were platforms, surrounded by empty moats that threatened a near fatal fall to anyone unwary enough to tumble into them.

Waiting for the others to get out of the way, I hoped to spring the grate open to see if I could disrupt any of the arcane rituals going on in the room, however, the others were slow, and I was a sitting duck for the undead archers. Quickly they made the most of my preoccupation with the grate. At the same time, the others were tumbling like apples from a tree. I think every one of them fell, landing prone in the blood pool. Zephyr was attacked by Fenstrom with a beam of dark magic that sent him tumbling a good 20 feet to the floor, where he lay, close to death. It was only through my shouted encouragement that he managed to haul his lazy arse out of the way afterwards. Honestly I think he would have just lain there feeling sorry for himself if I hadn’t helped him out.

In any case, after opening the grate, and swinging down to the safety of the ground, I loosed a bolt at a skeleton, hitting and killing it, before hitting Fenstrom with another. The skeletons were not staying dead. Nearly as fast as we could kill them the wight was calling them back to life, and as the grizzly army of skeletons advanced, Fenstrom revealed that on an altar before him was the body of Ercullen. Fenstrom raised a dagger and plunged it into Ercullen. We all held our breath as the corpse was flung high into the air by some sort of mechanism, but when it smacked gracelessly into the ground, we realised that the gentle repose Zephyr had cast had saved the cleric from being revived in such a perverted necromantic ritual. So the fight wore on.

While Bastion, Zephyr, and DTIS fought, they worked on slowly closing the portal. DTIS teleported to Fenstrom to attack him, while Fenstrom’s fire was concentrated on Zephyr. Bastion and Zephyr seemed besieged by a dire mental onslaught, and though they fought it, they were forced a few stumbling steps towards the portal. Bastion escaped the grasp of the portal, only to fall down one of the moats. Fenstrom, after his failed attempt at raising Ercullen, slithered back to the arcane circle, where his cloak seemed to glow and shimmer, as though it had been fortified. He called and in answering cry came the roar of a flesh golem, which climed up from the opposite side of the room. Meanwhile, Amoss was waging his own private war with the wight, trying to keep it too distracted to raise the undead that we were slaying. Its jaw unhinged and it let out a blood curdling howl that raised the hairs on my neck even from such a distance away. The force of the scream hit Amoss hard, and sent him stumbling backwards, putting as much space between himself and the beast as he could. As Amoss gathered himself once more, he released the chicken, which flew wildly but innefectually at the wight, allowing Amoss to get in close for a few hits.

By the portal, Zephyr was being dragged in – even I had heard the siren call of the Shadowfell, but I had resisted it, I can only imagine how great a temptation it must have been for Zephyr. He struggled desperately to free himself, shouting out a phrase meant to close the portal. The tentacles responded, lashing out at him and striking the battered wizard stone dead. Scarily, his body was dragged still closer to the portal, even in death. I feared for him but there was nothing I could do from across the room. Bastio was trapped down a hole, Zephyr had been slain, Amoss was locked in combat with the wight, and yet the skeletons seemed to be raised as quickly as we could strike them down. I was still peppered with arrows, with a flesh golem baying for my blood, and DTIS was immobilised, and the newest target of Fenstrom’s wrath. Finally, as it seemed we might fall, DTIS put the final touches on the spell to close the portal and the tentacles froze up, looking like a statue created out of volcanic glass.

I thought perhaps things were looking up, until I heard a shout from across the room. Diverting my attention for a moment I saw none other than Lev, Vilma, and one of the guards we spared when we first came to Daggerburg. With them was Jorn’s corpse. I cursed Lev, who had been fitted with a wooden leg. How could he betray us so? Saying that she would revive Jorn for Fenstrom as a peace offering, Vilma had the dwarf strapped to the altar. Amoss dashed for all he was worth to save Jorn but he was unable to stop the deed. We were helpless but to watch as Vilma gleefully sank the necromancer’s dagger into Jorn’s chest. The cleric was instantly animated, with a cold black fury in his eyes he was flung into the air (I never realised necromantic rituals required the undead to be so limber and acrobatic). I was struck in particular by the hollow dark eyes that Jorn had be endowed with. Unable to snatch my gaze away I was struck by the flying dwarf, and knocked to the ground. For a moment I was blinded as the darkness passed from Jorn to myself.

Soon the blindness passed, and I could see again – in fact I could see better than before. With my new-found vision, I was just in time to see Jorn move back towards his master, Fenstrom. I could not bear to hit at him as he passed, but DTIS had no such qualms. Jorn approached Fenstrom, and then – out of the blue he attacked with a lance of faith! It was a set up. Vilma explained (at length) to the shocked Fenstrom that she had interfered with the necromantic ritual by pumping Jorn full of her special tea. It must be those antioxidants, I hear they are good for you. Vilma did not appreciate Fenstrom encroaching on her territory killing off goblins for his necromancy, or so it seems. Immediately Fenstrom and his lackeys turned on Jorn, nearly managing to kill him again. Luckily Bastion was on-hand and out of the hole, ready to lay some reluctant healing on the dwarf and to bring Zephyr back to us. Bastion has come a long way since we first met him. His fear doesn’t grip him as tightly any more, for which I am glad. Perhaps one day he will be fully healed.

In any case, we all drew on our inner reserves and fought on, winning back lost ground. Zephyr used a scorching burst to finish off the flesh golem, and his cloud of daggers to kill the skeletons that were so besieging us, as once they were cut up enough they could not be raised by the wight. I helped Amoss in killing the wight, as did Zephyr, and soon it fell. Seeing that he was being beaten back, Fenstrom retreated to the portal, and smashed it open a crack. The drakness from before oozed out and smothered him, holding his wounds closed even as Amoss gutted him from shoulder to hip. He fought on with borrowed vigour, goading Zephyr to join him, and offering the wizard the possibility of reuniting with his long dead father. Zephyr declined, and seeing that he was foiled, Fenstrom broke into a rant. It was long and well rehearsed, but in the end he revealed that he had a hand in the murder of Zephyr’s father. Before he had time to gloat over-long, however, his body was crushed and sucked into the portal. He was dead by his own schemes and machinations.

After the fight we retrieved what was left of the wight – a magical cloak. It went to Bastion, who had no special items to mark him out as a member of the party – not even a fabulous feather, or an animal companion! We found another dashing set of leather armour which Amoss quickly took for himself and Zephyr was much pleased to find a book with a great many rituals for him to learn. Although Vilma left, Lev stuck around. He seems to be shame-faced and readily compliant with the wishes of the party. I gave him his journal back, and made peace with him regarding the theft of my compass. Soon we will recover Ercullen’s body and travel to Fallcrest to revive him, and Zumtleheath. I look forward to seeing the big city, and starting out on the trail of a new adventure!

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DM log-- Daggerburg Keep 11

Jorn’s corpse flew through the air, straight at the paralysed Theren. Jorn’s eyes shimmered between glowing light and inky darkness, mesmerising the young rogue. Head to head they crashed together and Jorn lay on top of Theren. A stream of darkness poured from Jorn’s eyes into Theren’s. Now Jorn’s eyes were glowing, and Theren was blind, his eyes completely black. In a few moments, though, this cleared and Theren could see again. The pillars had all gone dark at the spending of the ritual to raise Jorn from the dead, leaving the room in only dim light, but Theren could see quite well. {In fact this character had chosen the feat Low Light vision at level 4, but the DM and Rachael conspired to reveal this new ability in a more dramatic way… though Rachael no doubt did not expect this particular drama!}

Jorn, unlike Ercullum, was very much animate after the ritual completed by Vilma, and stood up. He staggered to Fenstrom’s side. He turned to the party with those glowing eyes and started to sing a song of praise to his god. The party despaired: surely this god was now Orcus and their doom was complete. But all, especially Fenstrom, gaped in surprise as the holy name PELOR passed Jorn’s lips, and a blast of Pelor’s holy power rang in everyone’s ears, dealing Fenstrom a strong blow and rattling his defences. {At this point control was given to Scott, since Jorn was in fact raised from the dead as alive, not as undead, and was fit to fight Fenstrom.}

This turned the tide considerably. Somehow, Vilma and Lev were on the side of the heroes, and started attacking from behind the altar. Vilma used her pestering spells effectively, and Lev did his best, though none of his arrows found their mark. Vilma crowed at Fenstrom, “Take that, you crusty old bastard! Nobody messes with my tribe and gets away with it. You house-builders are always trying to use us. But turning fierce warriors into disgusting undead mindless troops to help you civvies build yet another repulsive, hopeless kingdom? That goes too far. Fortunately, your death magic is no match for my twenty-herb tea.” At this, Jorn burped loudly, and the room filled with the scent of a whole shelf-full of pungent herbs.

Fenstrom fumed: “Gah! This is why I stopped using live goblins. You get so ANGRY that you do stupid things!” He sounded a bit desperate. “This is not a problem. I’ll take you all on. Come here and fight, Vilma!” But Vilma replied, “No thank you, Fenny I will stay over here. Have fun with your new friends.”

Things went badly for Fenstrom from there. Soon all his skeletons were dispatched, his wight was banished, and his hulking zombie cut up into its constituent parts, to lie still and dead once more. In a desperate move, Fenstrom retreated to the crusty black surface of the closed portal, slashed his wrist with a sharp spur of his shard-tipped staff, and thrust both against the portal. From a crack snaked out the tip of a black tentacle, which wrapped around him, binding his wounds and protecting his vitals. But it was not enough to save him from the assault and soon he was entirely spent. The tentacle slithered out further, binding up his arms and neck, and started to pull him in. Then Fenstrom changed tacks and began to beg for his life.

“I have failed to open the portal. Orcus wants me drawn into the Shadowfell where I will be torn to pieces. But Zepher! You can still save me, save yourself from an ordinary life, and most of all, save your father.” Zepher stood aghast and speechless. His father had been killed a few years ago by a goblin raid on his caravan. Young Zepher had been whisked away to safety just as he saw his father slain. Fenstrom continued, “Your father, Zepher, his spirit dwells in the Shadowfell and yes, I even have enough of his body there to bring him back. Your father wants to return, Zepher, he tells me so. But he does not trust me. We have had… a rocky past, your daddy and me. So he does not return when I call for him. But he will trust you, dear boy, he will know it’s the right choice to come back. Zepher, come with me to the Shadowfell. We’ll bring your father back to the material world. You can see him again, learn from him. He was a great wizard, and together, imagine what the three of us can accomplish.” The tentacle squirmed and Fenstrom began to slide into the hole a bit more quickly. “Quickly, Zepher, you must decide this instant. Grab my hand and your fate as a great wizard will be sealed!”

Zepher was wrought with doubt and desire to see his father again. In a great act of will, Zepher refused this offer, this desperate trick. Fenstrom’s last chance plucked from his grasp, the tentacle started to slowly tighten and drag Fenstrom into the crack in the portal. Being much smaller than a body, this entailed a folding of flesh and popping of bone, making the following verbal assault all the more furious, gruesome, and hateful. “May you rot in the hayfields, you country clods! Have your ordinary, cheese-making, chicken-herding life. At least I tried for something better. Your dear father, Zepher, was so beloved and popular and powerful. He could have ruled Nentir Vale if he had as much ambition as I have in my little pinkie. But no, he wanted to travel around with elves— like your mother Shia— and delight the crowds and do good things. Feh. I came with him at first, but nobody paid attention to me. My tricks did not dazzle. My good deeds were misunderstood. People said I was… unpleasant. Those sheep-shearing, buttermilk-drinking, quilt-sewing simpletons never could understand me! My plans! My desires to bring order and productivity to this sleepy dumb Vale! So I left your precious father’s retinue and tapped into the Vale’s real power: goblin power. It took years to work my way in, years of toil and slaughter and sacrifice. Then, when I had amassed enough power, I used it. My best clan of hobgoblins sought out your daddy’s little travelling troupe of good-doing, Pelor-worshipping, elf-and-human-mixing merrymakers. They put an end to all the fun and games. If only they had killed you as well, you bothersome, sneaky child. With your daddy out of the way, I could clear out this Keep and build a stronghold here. More years of blood and sweat and madness went into this place.” The tentacles gripped harder, sliding around his neck, and started to pull more strongly. Fenstrom choked out the words: “Now it’s over. But I can say I tried! That I dared for more! That I faced down you happy simpletons, burned down your village, and held my head up high as I—” then the tentacle pulled off his head. Both head and body were pulled into the portal with a grating, slurping noise, leaving nothing behind.

Fenstrom was dead and gone. Now, time to loot the place. Behind the door through which Lev and the others came was a small room, apparently where Fenstrom lived. Another door led up a long set of stairs to a part of the Keep they had not explored. Only Lev remained, by the way: once Fenstrom was destroyed, Vilma and the goblin guard had taken off after quickly looting the place.

Treasure:

  • Cloak worn by wight: an Elven Cloak +2 (level 7).
  • Chest which has been broken open (by goblins) with most of its contents taken. 528 gold remains.
  • Hidden under a paving stone: Armor of the Charging Wind (Level 5 Uncommon)
  • Books on every magical subject, including necromancy
  • 2 ritual scrolls which teleport back to the portal, on the material side. (They would not work to bring you from the Shadowfell back here, though, as that is intraplanar travel).

They found a ritual book containing the following rituals:

  • Undead Servitor
  • Wizard’s Escape
  • Silent Image
  • Hallucinatory Item
    • These last two had scribbled in the margins notes that Fenstrom apparently made as he tried to work up a magic show to entertain villagers and their children. The later notes got more and more erratic and bizarre, with the “entertainment” taking on a more macabre, cruel, and terrifying nature. It could not have been a successful magic show.
  • Transfer Enchantment
  • Undead Ward
  • A ritual similar to Dark Gift of the Undying, but which cannot be used without a chaos shard and a pact with Orcus.

Fenstrom had notes about a teleportation circle he was researching with reference to the Lost Library. He had figured out about half the runes in this circle. With research, perhaps the other runes can be deduced and this can become a viable destination for portal travel.

In the room was also another basin to restore the Wizard’s Escape effect. The rest of the room had nothing of value. It had apparently been lived in for many years. The temple next to it had served as Fenstrom’s necromantic workroom.

They found Fenstrom’s journal. {Follow the link for its contents.}

Under Fenstrom’s pillow was a locket, in which was a curl of hair that Zepher somehow was certain had belonged to his mother, Shia.

The party studied the runes around the closed Shadowfell portal to use it as a teleport destination—it is effectively a permanent teleportation circle. They realised that with an advanced ritual, they could travel to the Shadowfell side of this circle instead of the material side. Theren sensed this would be a way to find out where the Dark Leaf (which is now part of his armor) came from, and this might be the boost the armor needs to come into full power. {Use the Dark Leaf page for the jumping-off point of this adventure hook.} Theren sensed that while the hole through which Fenstrom had been pulled was not yet healed over, he and others could slip into the Shadowfell right now—but decided against this, choosing the route that allowed more preparation.

Now the party has many choices. With the big bad Fenstrom finally dispatched, the world beckons. There are literally a dozen or more choices for what to do next, by following each of the many hooks they have come across in their adventures so far—places to go, topics to investigate, items to track down, mysteries to solve, people to talk to. The consensus has gathered around going to Fallcrest, since many of these hooks reside there. At first it will be some light housekeeping, item-fetching, selling of booty, and raising of the dead from what will hopefully be sufficient resulting funds. Then more momentous tasks beckon.

This group of adventurers is truly extraordinary. They are growing in power and skill far faster than average. Already, after only several days of questing, they have the mettle of adventurers who have spent decades on their craft. Something about them is destined for greatness, to become paragons of their people in a way that only one in many tens of thousands of people across many decades of history ever can. They have the power to shape this vale, then this land, then this very plane of existence, if they survive. What will they do with these gifts?

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DM log-- Daggerburg Keep 10

It all came down to this, literally. The only way out of the temple was down. The body of the Orcus priest grew cold as the party looked into the pit to guess whether the hot rocks down there would fry them before they slipped through the cracks and into Fenstrom’s redoubt. Being adventurers, the guessing phase lasted only a moment before they decided there was only one way to find out. So down they went.

Luckily, the layer of rocks was only a couple of meters thick, and in the lower layer, the heat became just tolerable. The party, squeezed into odd shapes thanks to the Wizard’s Escape effect, peered down the cracks to a large room. The smoking blood was still dripping down around them and spattered on a stone floor perhaps 30 feet below, making a pool of dark, burnt red ichor. The room was bright, but not much could be seen until the stoutest (or rashest) of the group, DTIS and Amos, popped out of the bottom crack and held onto the bars of a thick metal grille that was holding the rocks up in the chimney. Soon all but Theren popped down to similarly hang and take in the sight of the room below.

The pool of blood below them fed two streams of the stuff which curled around a large, glowing runic circle, stained the base of the large glowing pillars which matched the same pillars they had seen in the Orcus temple, and oozed, rippling with increased speed, into the mouth of a large archway set into the wall. The archway breathed out clouds of the black mist with which they were so familiar, and it seemed to be quite hot, as it rose quickly to the ceiling, making a thick layer there until it got sucked up into the chimney. But everyone’s eyes were drawn to the arch, for just within it was a perfectly round hole in the wall. This was no ordinary hole. It was utterly black, and had a rippling, oily skin over it. This skin pulsed and stretched as if something was behind it, trying to push its way in. Whatever it was, it had huge, long claws, the knuckles of which made a clear impression on the pulsing surface. This sight sent chills down their spines with a feeling of deep dread and horror. The arcane and religious of the party recognised this as a portal to the Shadowfell, and it was on the verge of bursting open. When it did, it would let the horrifying denizens of that dark world into this material plane. This was why the Keep on the Shadowfell was built centuries ago: to protect this sealed-up portal from ever being reopened. Reopened by whom? Well, Orcus worshippers of course. A gigantic statue of Orcus towered at a point across the room from the portal, pointing at it. The party realised this muscular, bull-headed demon’s face had been drawn on the floor of the temple, its mouth the pit into which the blood had been flowing. Now that blood fed into the portal, to call Orcus’ minions forth.

Quickly the party looked around the room, the floor of which was strewn with bones and decaying goblinoid body parts.On either side were yawning pits, in each of which was a platform, surrounded by the empty moat. On each platform was an altar. And at one of the altars was a standing figure. His back was to them, his body hidden by long black robes. The bald, wrinkly, pale head bobbed as it chanted. His arms were stretched out over a body lying prone on the altar. The body was in black chainmail. The party recognised the face. It was Ercullum.

Not willing to hang there forever, the group started to work its way, hand over hand, toward a knotted rope tied to the middle of the grille. The rope was slick with dark, clotted blood, but would serve as a way down. Just as they moved, a gurgling hiss echoed throughout the room, from where they could not tell. At the hiss, the figure at the altar turned around.

“Well, well, well, it’s about time you got here, country clods.” The figure coughed. It was Fenstrom. But he was much changed from the elderly, white-haired and bearded wizard they last saw. He was bald, beardless, gaunt, and hollow-eyed. In his hand he tightly clutched a bone staff, similar to the one that Malareth had used, but on its top was a jagged chunk of dark metal. The party gasped; it was the chaos shard taken from Malareth’s workshop in the Twisting Halls. Fenstrom’s bare arm was exposed under the robes, and infected-looking black lines ran from the hand clutching the staff and up his arm. On the same side of his body, the same lines crawled up the side of his neck and across his face, turning to spiderwebs of dark purple at his temple.

Fenstrom: “Oh, don’t look so horrified. I know I look a bit… peaked. It’s the demands of leadership. Once I become king of this land, you smooth-faced baby-fat cream-skinned simpletons will be quite out of fashion. I have a little something called gravitas.” He coughed. “Now all I need to do is knock off you lot, raise the better ones of you from the dead like I’m about to do to your cleric friend here, crack open this portal, and then I lead the march on ”/campaign/rpg-qut-matt-dd/wikis/nentir-vale" class=“wiki-page-link”>Nentir Vale. And the first stage of my glorious ascent will be decimating your beloved, dumb, cow-stinking, mud-farming, slack-jawed little squatters throughout Harkenwold. Oh, sorry, I mean OF Harkenwold. You dopes are too unschooled to realise that seven different villages there all call themselves Harkenwold. Ha! Ha!" He coughed again, more violently.

Fenstrom: “While you’ve been bumbling about the Keep, I’ve had quite a while to prepare my defense, as you’ll see. Though I admit I am a bit surprised my worshippers up above did not send you back to lick your wounds for another day. Last time I use Upper City vampires, they are obviously more bark than bite.” He wheezed as the party tried to reply to this tirade; his breath was getting short. “Enough chatter—you lot could not hold up your end of a conversation with a horse.” He raised his staff, which whirled with ribbons of black mist. “Conquer them!”

With this the battle was joined. Skeletons rose from the piles of bones on the floor, drawing bows. As the party climbed down the rope, they were quite vulnerable, and took damage from the arrows. Zepher struck back with a scorching burst, taking down one skeleton… who rose right back up again. This was accompanied by another gurgling hiss nearby, which they traced to a figure squatting on the outstretched arm of th Orcus statue. This was identified as a wight, an undead creature animated by pure hate and anger. It apparently could revive the skeletons as they fell, though as the party later discovered, not quite as quickly as the party could dispatch them. {It could revive a fallen minion as an immediate reaction, but per the rules, only one such action can be taken per round.} With a combination of climbing, jumping, and falling, the party all ended up on the floor, except Theren, who for a while longer dangled and shot his crossbow. Fenstrom hunkered behind the altar and blasted them with black rays of necrotic power. Amos pursued the wight, easily climbing the statue and flushing him out. But between the wight’s ability to immobilise and Amos’ usual luck, it survived to scamper to the other pit, cross it, and kick the little bridge away. The rest of the party took on the skeletons, trying to kill them faster than the wight could revive them.

Meanwhile Bastian had fey stepped to challenge Fenstrom and laid on him a resounding song that rattled him. But Fenstrom reacted by stabbing the prone Ercullum with a jeweled dagger, and then Fenstrom clutched an amulet which teleported him to the magic circle in front of the portal. A moment later the altar on which Ercullum lay quickly swung up at an angle, catapaulting its cargo toward the middle of the room. This was designed to throw the newly raised undead Ercullum to the perfect position from which to wreak unholy havoc on the party. Ercullum sailed through the air, landed on his feet… for only a moment, as the corpse’s momentum made it fall flat on its face. Because Ercullum was not raised from the dead as Fenstrom planned. Because Zepher, at the very beginning of this adventure, had the foresight to cast Gentle Repose on Ercullum’s corpse. Fenstrom screamed in anger: “WHAT? How could the ritual not work? I’ve raised dozens of the dead without a hitch. There’s nothing special about that dumb cleric. Unless…” His eyes narrowed and he glared at Zepher. “You! Gentle Repose? Really Zepher? I am so disappointed in you. That’s… churchy work, bleah!”

From his magic circle Fenstrom taunted Bastian, who had to lay across the pit a thin, wobbly bridge on which to cross back. From this bridge Bastian fell into the pit {with a failed Acrobatics check}, sending him 30 feet down to a stone floor wet with gory water. The climb back up was slow until DTIS tossed down a rope.

Being in the circle helped Fenstrom quite a bit, giving him and his fellow undead better defenses. One only can guess how much worse the battle would have gone with Ercullum in the mix. Fenstrom used his skeletons as a shield as he blasted with his dark rays, and occasionally raised his bone staff and waved it at the other pit, saying, “This would be a lot easier if I had that cleric helping me… thanks a lot, Zepher.”

The effect of this waving was apparent a few moments later as a terrible smell of death rose from the pit and from out of it appeared a gray, decaying, huge hand—or rather, a beheaded, rotting goblin with its arms twisted to point forward like two crude fingers. Emerging from the pit was a huge zombie, obviously made on the same pattern as Malareth‘s. It was a combination of several goblins to form a large humanoid shape. Fenstrom crowed, "Just look at that stitching. I’m so much better than that dope Malareth."

The portal itself was a serious threat. Whoever was closest to it heard a whispering in his head, a voice calling his name. Zepher succumbed to this call once, and walked dreamlike toward the gaping oblivion. Once close enough, the claws stretched out and attacked, keeping enemies away from Fenstrom and pumping him with life. But during the battle, various members of the party remembered arcane and religious rituals to disrupt the portal’s magic and weaken Orcus’ influence. {This was a skill challenge, done with free and minor actions.} Though Fenstrom tried to undo the damage, the portal soon was nearly shut down. Desperate, Fenstrom shot blow after blow at Zepher in a screaming vengeful fury. Zepher, distracted by the attacks, tried to use his religious knowledge to close off the portal once and for all, but mixed up the ritual. In triumph the portal blasted Zepher with dark energy, which felled the wizard. As he lay dying, the claws latched onto Zepher’s body and slowly started to pull him into the darkness. But just before it succeeded, the last religious utterance was cast, and the portal was closed. It wavered and crusted over like a rapidly drying scab. Fenstom screamed with rage, his great work foiled, but he was determined to fight on, now with the help of the gigantic zombie.

Just as things were getting bad, they rapidly turned worse. From behind the altar at which Fenstrom began, a hidden door flew open. Through it walked a gobin—in fact, it was one of the guards who had escaped from the battle in the first room of the Keep. Over his shoulder was a body. A long beard poked out from one end. From the other end poked out two stilts. It was Jorn. The goblin said: “Wait! Fenstrom! Master!”

Fenstrom: “Goblins? Feh, I am done with you ditch-diggers. I have found a more reliable source of power.” He raised the rod with the shard and coughed.

Goblin: “It because of your power that we bring offering, O mighty Fenstrom. We goblins know we been beat by you. We just zombie fodder now. We propose truce. This the cleric from country clod party. Fresh.” He spanked Jorn’s body. “You raise him, he fight his friends.”

Fenstrom: “Bah, what use is that to me? They undoubtedly have cast that irritating ritual on the dwarf’s corpse as well. It cannot be raised.”

Goblin: “But my lord, their companion say no ritual done.”

The goblin gestured over his shoulder at the companion. And in walked Lev. He was looking well, cured of the fever, though instead of a leg he had a gnarled, polished oak branch. There was something familiar about that branch…

Lev: “Thaaaat’s right. Hi Fenstrom. Love your work. Hi guys. Sorry about this, but… well you left me tied up in the forest, kinda DYING, and this really nice goblin found me and cured me. I owe my life and well, I never liked you guys anyway.”

Fenstrom: “Who cured you, that stupid guard? He couldn’t cure a case of the hiccups.”

Lev: “No, I mean this gobin.”

Lev gestured over his shoulder at a new figure coming through the door. And in walked Vilma. The wizened goblin hexer crooned: “Hellllooooo, my pretty little do-gooders. Are you having fun with Fenny? Thanks for the nice fresh body. And so easy to carry. It’s true, Fenny, there is no gentle repose on the body. I checked it myself.”

Fenstrom: “Vilma? I would not have expected you to… acknowledge my superiority. But it’s not like I have a choice; the ritual needs to be tapped soon or else it will be lost. Put the dwarf on the table, then stab him with the dagger.”

At this revelation, Zepher became apoplectic with rage. He insisted that he had in fact performed the ritual on Jorn. But others in the party recalled the facts as they happened in that horrible ghoulish crypt: Zepher wanted to start the ritual right then and there, but others pointed out that the Wizard’s Escape was going to wear out soon, and with Lev’s terrible condition, they needed to get up and out of there before more ghouls came. So out of the Keep the party had rushed. In the confusion, Jorn was never given the ritual to spare him from being raised as undead.

Amos bravely ran and jumped the gap to where the trio were preparing Jorn for the raising ritual. Amos grabbed the body and tried to drag it off the altar, but lost a wrestling contest with the guard. Strangely, during this struggle, Lev hissed in Amos’ ear: “Dude, don’t blow this.” Vilma said the same, but in what might have been a mocking tone, imitating Lev. The party quickly tried to assess what the hell was going on, but in the flurry of battle, time was short. Amos was certain Lev was being deceitful and only was trying to stop Amos from ruining an evil plot. Others thought that Lev seemed genuinely frustrated that Amos did not believe him, and that Lev was sincerely trying to convince Amos of something.

In any case, Amos was unable to keep Vilma away from the dead Jorn, and she stabbed the corpse with the same dagger Fenstrom had used. And again the altar sprung upward, catapaulting Jorn’s body toward the magic circle. But unlike Erullum, this time, as Jorn sailed through the air, his eyes opened. They were glowing with light.

The odds look insurmountable for the party now. Despite doing everything as well as they could, cruel twists of fate have conspired against them: the gentle repose never cast in the chaos of the ghoul crypt. The home court advantage enjoyed by Fenstrom. The appearance of Jorn’s body. The return of Vilma and the betrayal by Lev—or is it a betrayal? What did he mean as he hissed at Amos? But what else could it be but the cruellest betrayal? In a moment the party will fight not only the necromancer Fenstrom and his skeleton minions, but also a giant zombie and an undead cleric. This sounds like a fatal combination. This feud which began in a paddock in Harkenwold will end here, far from home and deep underground. Will the victor be the spiteful wizard with an inexplicable hatred for Harkenwold’s simple country ways? Or the plucky party which defeated Fenstom’s Cloaked Wonder that day when Fenstrom came for conquest?

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