Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Vanished Mayor of Redcliff

Characters: Marlet, Nobanion, Vexander, Zamtul
NPCs: Burthune the Trapper, Mayor Andalor, Vera, Marnor
Synopsis: Two seasoned trappers cross over the mountain trails from the small neighboring hamlet of Redcliff on the other side of the mountain from Threshold. During winter, heavy snows typical blocked travel between these communities, but the trappers had their own ins and outs and arrive at Threshold. Familiar with Nobanion and the accolades of his friends, they seek help for their beleaguered town.

Without hesitation Nobanion calls together his companions for help. Zamtul, Marlet and Vexander, eager for adventure, all agree to visit Redcliff. Within a day’s ride through secret mountain trails they find the hamlet. Silhouetted against the backdrop of an immense red rock mountain is the tiny hamlet known as Redcliff. From a distance, it looks positively sleepy in the morning light. As they draw closer, though, it is evident that all was not well. People stand in clumps in the street, talking and glancing about. The word “mayor” is audible now and then in the conversations.

Eventually the party goes to see what was afoot at the town’s only watering hole, the Redcliff Tavern. Once inside they have a chance meeting with one of the town’s regulars, Burthune the Trapper. The dwarf has been trapping the lands for many winters and knows much. Although ornery and brash, the black bearded dwarf is able to obtain the best rabbit pelts in the area. He is covered from head to toe in rabbit pelts, and known for his oversized hats and gloves.

He is curious enough to accept Marlet’s playful challenge to a few games. They play dice and Burthune losses. To escape his debt Marlet asks the dwarf to fill the halls with a boisterous song. Burthune obliges, singing an old dwarven drinking song. Having the language barrier as a buffer the trapper is free to embellish, leaving only his bawdy gestures for the predominantly human crowd to interpret. Marlet can understand dwarven so she giggles and claps along.

The Mayor Andalor’s disappearance was the topic of discussion everywhere in town. A short time with Burthune and other townsfolk reveals that Andalor had been acting strangely of late, and that during the previous night two young men saw him sneaking out of town in the dead of night, heading for the red rock mountaintop where an old temple stood. Andalor’s son and daughter, both merchants in town, were anxious about their father. Andalor is an ex-adventurer, somewhat advanced in years, very much beloved, and has always been known for his good humor and camaraderie. For the past few days he’d been acting strangely by ordering the townsfolk around. Burthune divulged that his daughter Vera runs the bakery on the corner and his son Marnor owns the inn.

The two had sent for Nobanion to help discover what strange force overcame their father. After meeting with Vera, she asks the group to enter the temple and make their way past the shadows that dwell there to confront the evil. She asks them to rescue Andalor and determine what really happened, and clear the mayor’s name in town.

When the party meets with Marnor, he claims that his father was either ill or being controlled somehow. Marnor believes that Andalor went up the mountainside to the abandoned temple of Heironeous. Both Vera and Marnor believe it to be haunted and cursed as strange lights have been seen around the abandoned temple recently, and herdsmen and hunters have been scared away by mysterious figures. Believing in Nobanion and his friends, Vera and Marnor ask the party to go up to the temple and look for their father. They can afford no more than 500 gold between them, but they are certain that some treasures worth finding still remain in the temple. The party agrees to help the good town and Vera pays for their lodging at the Redcliff Tavern.

In the morning the group gathers for the expedition. After an hour’s hike up the steep outer slope of the red rock, they come to the abandoned temple. It is clear that the place has not been used for its original purpose in a very long time—weeds and shrubs grow up the sides of the building and lichen mottle the stone walls. The windows have been secured with solid metal barriers that show signs of siege. The temple’s main doors are cracked and warped from the elements, but they stand slightly ajar, allowing easy access into the gloom beyond.

Several broken barricades and wooden posts are on the floor in the entryway as the group navigates across a small lobby. The double oaken doors open into a room with stone floor. Aging and cracked ceramic symbols of Heironeous hang on the walls. Weapons, shields, and assorted debris, as well as several bleeding corpses in battered armor lie about. It looks as if they had died very recently defending this chamber, but upon further inspection the party uncovers that the bodies are mere illusions. Apparently the lingering evil of the place has a sick sense of humor.

With Marlet and Nobanion leading the way, and Vexander and Zamtul right behind, they creep to the next set of double doors on the far end of the room. Within moments after discovering and disarming a deadly glyph of warding that emitted a sonic attack, Marlet raises her lock picks in victory as the doors open behind her. Once Vexander’s light spell spills into the huge room beyond, they realize this must have been the main area of worship for visitors of the temple. A few pews still stand upright, but most have been overturned or destroyed. Several armor-clad corpses, peppered with arrows, are sprawled out around the room.

Behind an altar at the back of the room stands a towering statue dedicated to Heironeous. The statue’s surface is cracked and pitted as though it has been the target of weapon attacks. As they move into the room five haunting shadows jump from the statue and attempt to surround the party. Nobanion and Zamtul stave them off from the cleric, but Vexander fails in his attempts to turn the stubborn and resistant undead. Marlet releases Amado, a bronze griffon from the magical figurine she carries, and the beast helps dispatch the rest of the shadows with a flurry of claws.

With hands raised overhead, Vexander triumphantly dispels the statue’s twisted magic moments before more of shadows crawl from the statue. Victory is short lived however as an arrow streaks inches by Vexander’s head. Unbeknownst to the party, when they had entered the temple, a janni, a type of genie-kind, noticed them immediately. With invisibility and fly spells in place the janni stalked the party, remaining dozens of feet behind them at all times. Even with his prey moving at full speed, he was able to keep hidden from the keen-eared members of the party.

Following his surprise shot the janni’s invisibility spell fails, but he follows with another arrow from his longbow again. After an exchange of bow fire, the janni tries to draw his scimitar with a spell on his lips. Having chugged a fly potion seconds before, Zamtul charges the janni and establishes a midair grapple. The two struggle but the janni’s fate worsens as Marlet orders Amado to join the grapple who turns the tide. Although scrappy and elusive the janni is quickly overwhelmed, but it forces Zamtul and the griffon both to maintain the pin. The janni proclaims that he is forced to fight to the death by his master despite the overwhelming odds.

The janni’s unrelenting attack prevents Zamtul and the griffon from rallying to their friends who are now under attack by some other evil. From the adjoining room Voorix, a yak folk cleric sorcerer and master of the janni, finally enters the fray. Since the janni had informed him the instant that the party arrived, the yak folk has had plenty of time to prepare. Grabbing his magical long sword, Voorix has ingested his potions of flying and invisibility. The spell caster has already weaved magic of protection from good, divine favor, and bull strength on himself and hides high above the floor of his new sanctum. He refuses to let the party members foil his scouting mission as a precursor to an invasion of Redcliff by his tribe.

As Nobanion enters the room Voorix attacks with a hold person spell, which renders the barbarian useless for several moments. Before Nobanion can will himself free of the spell’s grip the yak folk flies above him menacingly. Although Voorix’s invisibility is negated he happily rains magical acid arrows into the barbarian’s chest. But Nobanion’s fine chain suit absorbs most of the assault. The wounds only fuel the barbarian’s anger which sets him free. Nobanion tries to take a shot with his readied longbow at Voorix but his bow fire is spoiled by a dark magic field. The barbarian throws his bow to the ground and flies into a frenzied rage that suddenly steels the breath from the yak folk.

With his glowing staff aloft, Vexander bravely charges to the rescue. Once at Nobanion’s side Vexander casts a spell which makes the barbarian the size of an ogre, easily putting the yak folk within his reach. It takes only moments for the barbarian’s frenzy to play itself out, leaving a dismembered and decapitated evil yak folk in its wake. Back in the other room Marlet, Amado and Zamtul strip the janni of his weapons and briefly interrogate him. The janni divulges much of Voorix’s invasion plans but refuses to give his name as he claims it could be used to enslave him once again. After dubbing him ‘Bob’ they order the janni back to his home plane never to return under pain of death.

United once more, the party explores Voorix’s sanctum. The room is furnished with several tables and chairs, all of which are intact, and a large bed, chest, and table covered with maps and books are in the far corner. On the bed lays a disorientated and confused man who they discover to be Andalor. Once they revive him with some healing, he is very grateful to the party for rescuing him and listens to the plot they have uncovered. He asks them to help him clean out the temple and dispel the illusions so that the structure may be rededicated to Heironeous and used as a fortress to shelter the townsfolk from any further attacks. Andalor feels that he personally failed to defend it years ago and wants very much to redeem himself in the eyes of his deity. He also agrees to establish a working alliance between his town and that of the party’s beloved home, Threshold. Perhaps time will prove it to be a fruitful alliance.

Encounters: illusions of grisly murders, glyph of warding, five shadows, a janni, the yak-folk cleric sorcerer Voorix
Achievements: traveled to Redcliff, learns of the mystery surrounding the disappear of the mayor, investigates an abandoned temple of Heironious, defeats the temple intruders, annihilates the new temple master squatter, learns of plans for invasion of Redcliff, rescues the mayor and establishes an alliance with Threshold.

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