Thursday, January 22, 2009

One Soul… Comin’ Right Up!

As former Defenders of Kelvin/New Kelvin, Circle of Holundai rebel group, and the Adventurers’ Guild of Threshold continues to make acquaintances and share resources, the town council of Threshold continues to have less and less control of the small settlement. Fortunately, Trizoon and Nobanion are vigilant to maintain order, even though the town council appears to be losing its power to the ever-growing Adventurers’ Guild. Threshold has become a veritable treasure trove of culture, adventuring classes, and might with the arrival of such dubious personalities: The Arch Mage Mikhailus, former leader of the Night Masks Assassin's Guild. Cromwell Blackwood, the Voice of Helm. Rathgillion, the seasoned Blood Mage. The renowned Gnomish Bard Roywyn. Also with Lazbin and Zedrick Neeley.

A meeting of the former Defenders of Kelvin/New Kelvin, Circle of Holundai rebel group, and the Adventurers’ Guild of Threshold is called to order. Two tasks lay in front of them before a direct assault on Mystenaculis’ stronghold in Westgate can be put into action. The soul of Forkbeard must be freed from its captivity in the gem that holds it. A mission to Westgate to find the sage, Mintassin Planeswalker, will further that end. Secondly, Reddansyr must hold against the Black Legion Forces that are set to launch a crushing, imminent, attack that threatens to crush the small city and have it serve as a staging ground against the last bastion of freedom this side if the Dragonreach: Threshold. The Black Legion’s reserve forces have suffered tremendous losses lately with the destruction of their ground forces commander Vendul, the giant Mountain Troll Champion. Also recently slain was the ice devil, Achriard, Mystenaculis’ liaison to Vendul. With the death of Vendul and Achriard, Mystenaculis has sent his new General of the Black Legion, Llewmorc the Damned to supervise the razing of Reddansyr, the destruction of the Leviathan that hinders his troops, the crushing of the defending forces that wait there, and prepare for the drive north to Threshold. Gull the Grimm’s spies have noted that Llewmorc the Damned is a hugely muscled, and agile half-elf wizard reported tutored in the black arts by Mystenaculis himself and bred for war by the now deceased Balethemos the Black. Llewmorc recently arrived at the Black Legion camp across the river from Reddansyr riding the mature adult black Dragon Blastimithican. Bastimithican, once belonging to Balethemos the Black’s son Grelzibus, has sworn vengeance against those that killed his master and drove him from the tower fortress in the Giants’ Run Mountains.
From the information gathered by Gull’s spies, the attack will come at any moment. Reddansyr is sorely outmatched without further aid.

The meeting adjourns with a small elite group planning to infiltrate Westgate to locate Mintassin, and the other, larger force heading south to defend Reddansyr. Mikhailis remains behind to help the Westgate infiltration group prepare for their journey along with Gull the Grimm and Zedrick Neeley.

Gull the Grimm’s Westgate spies (those that returned alive) report that Mintassin the Planeswalker has been rounded up as an enemy of the state by Mystenaculis’ Black Guard and is being held in the dungeons of the Ministry of Truth. The sage Mintassin has the unique ability communicate with all other planes of existence simultaneously and pull beings from one to another. Apparently a magical experiment in planar travel splintered his being into pieces of himself across the planes, each communicating with the other. What the Black Guard and Mystenaculis wants him for, one can only guess. As of two days prior, he was reportedly still alive…

The half-elven Sorceress Pardonei Cometstrike states that she knows a secret back way into the Ministry of Truth, as she had infiltrated it several months earlier with a small group of adventurers seeking to free the Naturalist Wa’Oolum. Bravely, Pardonei volunteers to lead the rescue party. The Elven Druid Gallipolas offers his hand in this party as does the Blood Mage, Lazbin. Deciding muscle is needed for this party in addition to spells, Rog, the Half-Orc barbarian offers to fill that role. Lastly, the party decides then need stealth as well as someone who can pick locks as well as disarm traps. They reluctantly agree on the assistance of Lord Topaz who offers his aid, amazingly at no cost. Gallipolas summons his dog, Fig, to join them and the party is complete.

Using a pair of Helm of Teleportation, the party transports to the old cemetery outside the Ministry of Truth in Westgate. They arrive early in the morning and instantly cast invisibility spells on the party. Pardonei’s voice leads them to the mausoleum of Lord Griterium Ah-N. The party enters the mausoleum and Pardonei shows them the sliding secret door at the back of the mausoleum. Lord Topaz enters the secret door and scouts ahead. He reports a massive stone stairway leading into the bowels of the earth.

Lord Topaz leads the party down several hundred feet of stone stairways that end in a stone wall. His scouting prowess indicated to the party that this stairway is seldom, if ever, used. They slide back the wall at the end of the stone stairway, which shifts easily, opening into a weapons and armor cache. A large anvil and forge dominate the center of the room, which is lined with various banded mail armor along the walls. The two doors to the room are blocked by six featureless clay Golems. Lord Topaz indicates that they are not active as he moves through the room. The party quickly files into the room and instruct Lord Topaz to pick the locks to the doors that bar their way. Revealing a set of adamantine lock picks, the stealthy mercenary quickly picks locks to both doors. Lazbin, again, laments at not studying harder in Rogue school.

After scouting the hallway beyond the door along the same wall as the secret door, Lord Topaz reports that the hallway goes on for over seventy feet. He reports the sounds, of what seems to be singing or chanting, as he progressed down the hallway. Gallipolas instructs him to scout the hallway beyond the other door as well. After ten minutes the mercenary returns to report a Dragonreach Alliance Trooper sentry guarding a door at the end of the second hallway. He also reports an alarm glyph on the floor just a few feet away from the sentry. Pardonei indicates that this hallway led to the torture room and prison cells that she freed Wa’Ooolum from after a doing battle with a Night Mask mage and the then Night Masks Leader, Plague Cougarsclaw.

Resonating throughout all the hallways is what Lord Topaz described as singing or chanting that seemed to get louder as the party descended the hallway.

As the party descends the hallway, Gallipolas changes his form to resemble another Dragonreach Alliance Trooper. His plan is to either charm his quarry for information or incapacitate him. The disguised Gallipolas approaches the Dragonreach Alliance Trooper and his ruse works, the trooper tells him to get back to his post as the Black Guard are in their morning prayers to Mystenaculis and will know if something is amiss. Casting a hold person spell, Pardonei incapacitates the trooper. She and Gallipolas toss the hapless trooper into one of their Bags of Holding. The party as a whole approaches the door and they hear screams of agony and torture coming from behind the door. Gallipolas and Lazbin decide that the hallway to the left of the door must be explored and any other sentries must be incapacitated.

All around them, the party can hear the chanting of what the sentry described as the Black Guard at prayer. Lazbin’s studies of the Infernal language allows him to translate the chants as prayers to Mystenaculis as some form of deity.

As the party rounds a corner in the hallway, they spy another lone Dragonreach Alliance Trooper guarding an ornate, black, wooden door. Like the previous Trooper, this one is clad in standard green scale armor and armed with a short bow as well as dual short swords at his sides. Another Hold Person spell from Pardonei and this trooper is also held in place. Rog chortles as he approaches this trooper with a rope and gag.

As Rog begins to bind the held trooper, he spies another, thirty feet down the hall, guarding a door. Spying the less than inconspicuous Half-Orc barbarian, this trooper draws his swords and sounds the alarm. Gallipolas sends Fig to contend with this new threat and the dog races across the hallway towards the armed Trooper. Rog tosses the helpless Trooper into his Bag of Holding and proceeds to bash down the ornate, black, wooden door in front of him.

As the door crashes in, clerical chants reach a crescendo in Infernal as the party takes in what is beyond this door. The room is a clerical temple and barracks to the Black Guardsman. There are six guardsman recently interrupted from prayer. Each is cloaked in black robes and hoods, their faces hidden. Gallipolas and Lazbin clearly recognize the symbol of Mystenaculis adorned on a black chain around each guardsman’s neck. The stench of awful, hellish, evil is thick and emanates like fog from this room.

Unfortunately, the guardsmen are not alone as three eight foot tall Bearded Devils wielding their wicked glaives stand between the party and the Black Guardsmen. Will Rog EVER be free of these taunting Devils?

The battle is joined by Rog, who roars and charges his evil arch enemies and is hit repeatedly by the magical wounding of the Bearded Devils’ glaives. A Silence spell from one of the Black Guardsman robs Lazbin of his spell casting so the Blood Mage draws his trusty mace. A volley of Magic Missile from Pardonei slams into one of the Bearded Devils causing it to yelp in pain. Gallipolas turns his Druidic magic on the casting Black Guardsman. His spell manages to blind and injure three of the guardsman while the other three blast the seasoned Druid with rays of black magic from their unholy symbols.

Behind the party a rear attack by another Trooper is foiled by Lord Topaz. He whisks four thrown daggers into the throat of the approaching Trooper. Gurgling, the trooper drops to the floor. He does not get up.

In the meantime, Fig continues to assault the trooper as his master ordered him to. The faithful dog rips through the armor of his opponent as the trooper continues to try to keep Fig at bay with his short swords. Rog slams his fists again and again into one of the Bearded Devils matching him blow for blow. Lazbin is skewered by one of the Devils and his wound begins to fester. Gallipolas begins casting a Wall of Fire spell as Lord Topaz takes to the front lines next to Rog, his infamous skull-capped dagger and curved dagger in his hands. Gallipolas’ Wall of Fire ignites the Black Guardsman but seemingly has no effect on the Bearded Devils.

The door behind the trooper that Fig is fighting opens to reveal another Dragonreach Alliance Trooper armed with a short bow who promptly puts three arrows into Lazbin. Pardonei turns and lets loose a Lightning Bolt spell into both the trooper on Fig and the new Trooper bearing the short bow. The smell of seared flesh and leather wafts throughout the hallway, however, both troopers still have some fight left in them.

Lord Topaz’s slashing daggers and zeal for slaughter begin to make short work of the Bearded Devil line as he immediately drops two of them. Gallipolas’ Wall of Fire spell further wounds the six Black Guardsman, driving three of them to the front line to face Rog and Lord Topaz. The three blinded Black Guardsman move away from the Wall of Fire and take refuge behind the remaining Bearded Devil. The Black Guardsman now draw black light maces from their belts and wade into combat with Lord Topaz and Rog.

Out in the hallway, Lazbin is set upon from the shadows a hideous undead creature in a black cloak and fine black leather armor. The creature, wearing the symbol of the Night Masks around his neck, slashes at the Blood Mage with a dagger and reaches a cold, undead claw for him. The unearthly cold from beyond the grave is draining, but the Blood Mage’s reflexes serve him well as he evades the creature’s life draining clutches. Gallipolas, seeing his friend in peril, lights up this new menace with a Flame Strike spell. The creature is engulfed in flame, but survives the Druid’s spell attack.

In the temple, Lord Topaz’s daggers rip through the Masterwork chain mail of the Black Guardsman as he cuts the throat of one and plunges his second dagger into the eye of another. Rog grabs the third guardsman on the front line and grapples him against the wall in an Earth’s Embrace. The sickly sound the guardsman’s ribs and bones breaking and his screams fill the room brings a sly smile to Lord Topaz as he continues his assault on the last Bearded Devil.

Out in the hall, Pardonei unleashes yet another Lightning Bolt spell at the two troopers, blowing a hole in one and tossing the other across the room. Both are slain.

Gallipolas summons another Flame Strike spell against the undead Night Mask assailant. This spell completely immolates the creature, leaving nothing but it’s daggers, black leather armor, and an enchanted rust colored bag.

Rog continues to crush the very life out of the Black Guardsman he is grappling, and finally manages to crush his opponent’s spine with a sickening crack. The Half-Orc howls in victory, however his wounds are continuing to fester.

As Lord Topaz managed to dispatch the last of the Bearded Devil shock troops, the three blind Black Guardsmen manage to magically Gate in three more Bearded Devils to protect them. Rog and Lord Topaz set upon these three with renewed relish. Rog and Lord Topaz take both blows from the wicked wounding Glaives of the devils but rays of black magic from the unholy symbols of the Black Guardsman.

The mercenary and barbarian make short work of the devils and the wounded Black Guardsman. The dreaded skull-capped dagger of Lord Topaz left one of the Devils and one of the Guardsman seemingly paralyzed. The mercenary indicated that they are not dead, but are suffering terribly. They cannot talk or divulge any information. Lazbin witnessed this strange magic on one of the Pit Fiends that was stabbed at the Gates of Hell by Lord Topaz.

The party regroups and all wounded are bound and healed by Gallipolas. Rog and Lazbin fester no more.

Pardonei leads the party to the door down the hall guarded by the Dragonreach Alliance Trooper she so capably blew a hole through with her Lightning Bolt spell. The door leads to the torture chamber and prison cells of the Ministry of Truth. The stench of death, urine, and rotting corpses hangs heavily in the air here.

Three cells appear to be occupied by those other than the dead. A voice cries out for Lazbin and Gallipolas from one of the cells. It is Councilwoman Morgan Camm. She is barely recognizable by the druid and Blood Mage as she has been beaten, starved, and tortured. She pleads for freedom and she is released.

The occupant of the second cell answers to the name of Mintassin, A very wizened old man. He has been tortured and starved as well. The Planeswalker is released contingent on his promise to retrieve the soul of Forkbeard from the soul gem that it is imprisoned in. The Planeswalker happily agrees for his freedom.

The occupant of the last cell holds up a sickly, cold, gray hand and pleads for the party to stay away from him. He averts his face from the party but calls Gallipolas and Lazbin by name. The two ask the prisoner his name. He prisoner lifts his head up to face the party. It is Sir Vesten Roh-Jar… Although his countenance suggests one who recently has been turned into the Undead, he very much resembles the undead creature Gallipolas destroyed in the outer hallway. Sir Vesten pleads for the party not to leave him in his current state. He states that he was the one responsible for Cormyr not joining the Dragonreach Alliance as he has been smuggling information out of Westgate to his cousin Zelothian Roh-Jar in Cormyr. He states his cousin is a Purple Dragon Knight of Cormyr and will be leading an advance force across the Dragonreach as the vanguard of the Cormyrian Army. He was recently discovered by the deductive magic of the Black Guard, tortured, and thrown in prison. His transformation into undead happened only recently, but he retained some of his human personality and was kept imprisoned until his undead hatred of the living began to take effect.

Gallipolas and Lazbin assure the ill-fated Sir Vesten Roh-Jar that his cousin has indeed reached them and has led the advance forces of the Cormyrian Army to destroy the Black Legion and free Westgate from Mystenaculis. At this point, Sir Vesten pleads to be sent to the halls of his father’s in death. Lazbin sadly ends the life of the noble Sir Vesten Roh-Jar.

As the party dispatches the brave freedom fighter, a cloud of fire and brimstone fills the far end of the room. From the cloud emerge six more fully armed Black Guardsman and Councilman Dimloch armed with a brightly glowing staff.

Mintassin screams for the party to flee as the enchanted nature of this building will not accommodate teleportation out. Lord Topaz leaps into action, hurling four daggers at the ensorcelled councilman. All four daggers bounce harmlessly off of an invisible barrier in front of the councilman.

The party runs swiftly for the door and Lord Topaz states that he will cover their retreat with his short bow. The party’s escape through the door leading to the outer hall is a close call, as they narrowly avoid a Delayed Blast Fireball hurled at them by Councilman Dimloch. Lord Topaz fires off four arrows from his short bow as the party retreats down the hallway towards the armory. They narrowly dodge an earth-shattering Lightning Bolt spell.

In the armory, the inner door is spiked, trapped, and locked by Lord Topaz to block those that pursue them. The rescue party makes an expeditious retreat back up the staircase to the cemetery where they then teleport back to Threshold.

Back in Threshold, the party rejoins Mikhailus who aids them in healing and identifying newly found magic items. The party heals everyone and aids Mintassin in preparations to reunite Forkbeard’s soul with his body. After several hours Mintassin is successful in doing just that. The Dwarven ranger is disoriented but Mintassin explains he will regain his memory and be his former self in time.

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