Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Exiled Drow of Szith Rijun

Characters: Dusk Revin, Gallipolas & Fig, Lazbin, Narn Daergal, Rathgillian, Trizoon & Nilmith

NPCs: Tieraka Rijun

Synopsis: With his weapon draw, Dusk approaches the weeping female drow. Curled against the hewn stone wall, she continues crying with her shoulders heaving. The rouse is obvious to Dusk, and he is alert and ready when the weeping turns to rage. But the drow’s countenance is distorted with some sort of arachnid taint. The Defenders rush in to engage but only half enter the chamber before it is sealed off with webbing. The female drow bait works as three massive spiders join the battle. Facing a wall of spider webs Gallipolas and Rathgillian are contemplating the obstruction when a voice creeps up from behind.

Dusk is immediately bound by a spider’s web. Risking the pain he self-immolates, burning both himself and the webs in the process. Trizoon stands strong as Fig continues the attack. Nilmith supports them as Lazbin emerges from the invisible to strike the spiders. From the other side of the spiders’ webs, Gallipolas accosts a gnome who offers support. Finding the voice to be an ally of Dusk’s, Rathgillian burns through the webs and strikes the spiders. With the party reunited the spiders are crushed.

Once the webs settle, Dusk recognizes the whisper gnome as Narn, another member of the Divine Hammer but sometimes an absent ally. The group quickly assesses the new cavern and discovers yet another illusionary wall. To prove his value, Narn offers to explore the next cavern and spots a humanoid hiding within. The gnome confronts the obscured enemy, discovering it to be a drow armed with rapier and shield. But the drow isn’t alone as Narn is skewered from behind by a second drow warrior. Again the Defenders are ready and race to draw arms against the evil drow.

The battle draws an unseen ally of the drow as spells erupt from the far end of the cave, beyond the darkness. Lazbin’s spells are loosed against the drow, but the magical nature of the dark elf defeats the wizard’s attempts. Narn shows his value, lethally striking the drow. Overwhelmed with shear force the drow fall to blades of the Defenders and holy spells of Dusk. Gallipolas displays his newly developed powers by morphing into an elemental of the earth and gliding through the impenetrable stone as if it was water. At the end of the chamber he finds the two remaining drow, a spell caster and a priestess floating near the ceiling.

After destroying the two guards, the group pursues Gallipolas and surrounds the drow. Their might is obvious as the spell caster is subdued and pinned. With the battle lost, the floating priestess hails the half-drow Dusk seeking to parlay. Dusk is determined, knowing full well of the treachery of the drow. He disarms the female and quickly ties her up with help from Narn. Gallipolas twists the spell caster into complete submission. Dusk draws down against the priestess and begins the questioning. She is Tieraka Rijun of House Rijun, and she is the last survivor of Szith Rijun, the drow settlement below the Dordrien Crypts. Just over a tenday prior, the city was attacked by drow. Tieraka describes how her goddess Lolth has not answered prayers for more than two months. Yet another god has somehow been disrupted.

Without the prayers of her god, the priestess and her allies were overrun in less than three hours. Other drow even turned against the ruling house and joined the coup. The only element of the traitors she is aware of is that some are faithful to Kiaransalee, the drow goddess of death and revenge. She and her loyal servants were the only survivors she knows of. They escaped to this private sanctuary, reserved specifically for an instance of invasion. Only her inner circle is aware of this series of chambers. She begins to bargain but her mouth is stuffed; Dusk has heard enough. In seclusion the group discusses their options.

With the disruption of the plans of nature, they are almost sure that the disruption has extended into the Abyss. And now a new faction of drow has overrun the drow settlement Szith Rijun. Dusk speculates that it is these draw that are raiding Cedarspoke and dealing with the frost giants and the drow of Lolth were inactive against the surface world for over a century. The favored soul of Kelemvor is repulsed by this new faction of drow, but the first step is obvious: eliminate the spell caster. Gallipolas assures Trizoon that given the opportunity the drow spell caster would destroy everyone in this room, including his allies. The bard shakes his head and wonders of the complete absence of humanity. With the others’ attention elsewhere Narn sets about the murder of the spell caster, strangling the drow and ending his life after several agonizing minutes.

But the task is pressing; Trizoon uses his song and flute to fascinate the drow priestess. It takes only minutes to when her over and charm her. Previously a vicious enemy, Tieraka Rijun is now a staunch ally of the Defenders of the Dragon Coast. She outlines the layout of the city, identifying the central chasm that services the multiple layers of Szith Rijun. She also identifies the defense positions of the previous administration, which most likely have not changed as the traitorous drow are still present. The drow warriors are sure to be on high alert, but with her help the Defenders can raid the city and destroy the drow faction of Kiaransalee. After quickly scouting the forward drow guards the group decides to rest within the protective extradimensional space of Lazbin’s making. Once they have prepared, Szith Rijun will fall once more under the Defenders and the Divine Hammer.

Encounters: four araneas, two drow nobleguards, drow spellguard, drow priestess of Lolth

Achievements: captured the exiled drow priestess, learned of the drow civil war, charmed the drow as an ally and learned of the layout of the drow settlement Szith Rijun and its defenses.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Into the Dordrien Crypts

Characters: Dusk Revin, Gallipolas & Fig, Lazbin, Rathgillian, Trizoon & Nilmith

NPCs: Council of the Divine, the Divine Hammer, Calimir Hightower, Brickle Tabbot, Delle Merritobo, Kooruk Coldrock

Synopsis: The Defenders haul their captured enemy into Cedarspoke. The blind giant is heckled as he is brought to the stockades for interrogation. Dusk administers the talks directly, bluffing the giant into believing he is a co-conspirator working with the giant kind. Spilling his guts, the frost giant identifies his cult’s leader, Spirit Speaker Loktouk. They are a splinter group of a larger clan that was assimilated by an elf wizard that promised glory for their service in Ice Razor Palace. Loktouk’s control was usurped and the giant fled with a handful of followers to an isolated shrine in the mountains. The Spirit Speaker was charged with protecting something great and would not let the elf take it.

In order for the giants to survive they have been trading with the drow of Szith Rijun, a settlement below the Dordrien Crypts near the banks of the Cedar River. The giants traded dead bodies in return for fresh meat and food from the Underdark, as well as a fortune in gems. Dusk convinces the giant to lay low and wait for his signal for freedom, a signal that will never come. The half-drow reports his findings to the council and the Defenders, where they discover that the attack of the frost giants had two fronts. The second attack was just as furious and damaging, occurring on the opposite side of the river. Those giants also fled to the hills at the sounding of the horn.

Arguments erupt from the gathered council members as the interim Secretary General Calimir Hightower, High Priest of Torm, attempts to corral consensus. Shouts come from multiple directions, including the human cleric Brickle Tabbot, the dwarf cleric Delle Merritobo, and Kooruk Coldrock dwarf ambassador to Ironfang Deep. Some voice their opinion of asking the Defenders to return to Skarwall Keep to see if any other members of the Divine Hammer have survived. Yet others demand vengeance upon the frost giants by raiding their stronghold. As the snow continues to fall, the location becomes more obscured and might become undetectable. But the prevailing worry is the involvement of the drow, believed to be the assassins of Zalaznos Crinios. With the lead provided by the blinded giant, the Defenders choose to investigate the drow beneath the Dordrien Crypts.

Calimir Hightower accepts their decision. The Divine Hammer will remain at Cedarspoke to help protect the city. The Defenders will receive every expendable resource that the Council has to offer for their investigation. But the Council stills as the interim Secretary General extends an offer to the Defenders. For their repeated actions in helping Cedarspoke, Calimir offers the coveted seat of the Council of the Divine to one of the Defenders. Without hesitation, the group nominates Gallipolas, who retaliates by saying the ways of the Council will not deter his motives once the Gulthmere Forest is settled and restored. With everyone in agreement, the group departs the council chambers to prepare for the expedition.

The following day the group departs with Dusk joining them. The half-drow may become beyond valuable should the trek continue into the Underdark. Travel is slow; the snow drifts coming off the barren mountain steppes merge with the light falling snow. The effect limits their vision, but the Defenders follow the river’s edge for the better part of the day. Without the sun, it is difficult to determine when they arrive at the crypts. Two individual mausoleums stand in the shadow of a small mountain. A carved out niche cradles a large pair of stone doors leading into the mountain itself. They have arrived at the Dordrien Crypts.

Of the two freestanding buildings the group detects wicked evil emanating from only one of them. Battering down the door they find two decrepit vampires preparing to assault, but the true evil remains invisible and begins to attack the invaders. Lighting and fire blast throughout the room and the evil is destroyed. The entrance to the crypt is locked, but easily accessed through Lazbin’s magicks. Just on the interior is a grizzly sight; five decaying bodies permeate the still air of the hallway. A drow squad lies still, stripped of their armaments and clothing; their wounds indicate they were cut down from behind.

Gallipolas summons a mouth from the stone and begins to question it. The experiences of the hallway are cryptic, but it relays that other drow cut down these drow of the Spider. These other drow have passed back and forth in the crypts carrying the bodies of dead humanoids to the lower levels of the crypts. As the Defenders move further into the depths, Gallipolas summons mouths from other stone doors, who warn of violating their interiors. Adhering to the calls of the stone mouths, the party continues into the lower levels, leaving the crafted section and entering the hewn stone that provides carved holes for the deceased.

One chamber houses a statue of Jergal, guardian of tombs. But the sentry remains still as they pass. Trizoon spots the first deception, identifying an illusionary wall. Behind it massive spiders stir, awaiting their prey. A wall of fire springs into the layer, sending the creatures scurrying. Rushing into the fray, Lazbin is the first to detect the otherworldly nature of the beasts. They are not spiders but bebilths, extraplanar demons. With the creatures split, the Defenders concentrate their attacks and destroy them one at a time. As the battle vanishes, Trizoon’s quick surveillance reveals another false wall. But behind it a single female drow lies slumped against the wall of the adjacent chamber, weeping uncontrollably.

Encounters: two vampire spawn, vampire master Chahir, two bebiliths

Achievements: learned of the dealings between the drow and the frost giants, secured a seat on the Council of Divine of Cedarspoke, and discovered the abandoned Dordrien Crypts.

The Dire Call of Cedarspoke

Characters: Dusk Revin, Gallipolas & Fig, Lazbin, Rathgillian, Trizoon & Nilmith
NPCs: Julbin Cometstrike, Guild of the Naturalists, Council of the Divine, the Divine Hammer
Synopsis: Serving as an emissary from the Council of the Divine of Cedarspoke, Dusk Revin arrives in Threshold seeking out those that rescued his soul from Skarwall Keep. The half-drow seeks the Defenders to help protect the natural city from frost giant raiders, who have been testing city defenses ever since the departure of the Army of Nature’s Wrath. Dusk meets the group for the first time, and is surprised by their acceptance of his race. Trizoon’s embrace is quickly followed by introductions to the Defenders of the Dragon Coast, especially Lazbin WitchHunter, the human blood mage that secured Dusk’s soul from a hag’s jar in the evil keep of the undead.

Dusk quietly informs the adventurers of the most recent developments. The Army of Nature’s Wrath has left the city to wage war upon evil fey in the plane of the House of Nature. A cataclysmic collision has somehow resulted in the planes of the House of Nature violently merged with Fury’s Heart and Arvandor. The resulting Feywild has left the homes of the gods in chaotic array, and the Army of Nature’s Wrath was summoned to help bring order.

The vacancy of the city’s protectors left Cedarspoke almost defenseless. Hedging their bets, the council relied too heavily upon the most crippling winter on record as adequate defense to halt any assaults upon the city. Almost as if summoned the perimeter was tested by frost giant raiders. The surviving members of the Divine Hammer fended off the marauders, but fears amassed that the giants would return, and in greater numbers. Dusk brings a summons to the Defenders; Cedarspoke needs their help in the worst ways.

Desiring necessary supplies before the trek, the group heads to Julbin Cometstrike’s hut. Lazbin, Rathgillian, and Gallipolas immediately detect the presence of a mighty white dragon, the same one they faced outside of the Roadside Coaching Inn after the battle with the Wizards of Tendale. But the dragon is dramatically altered in a completely unnatural way; its eyes glowing fiercely red specifically target the group. The magical creature no longer projects majesty, only fear and hatred towards those that destroyed it. Its iron plating is still damaged and massive sections of scales are absent, revealing the rotting flesh beneath. It has been conjured from the dead.

The battle is fierce but quick. And the results are much as they were when the dragon attacked them originally. The massive husk of the abomination falls to the ground after the killing blow leaving the Defenders with too many questions. Both Lazbin and Dusk inspect the dragon and find that certain markings on its head indicate a religious ceremony was used to raise it in the form of a revenant, a form of undead that seeks vengeance upon those that killed it. The ritual identifications are obvious to Dusk; an evil cleric of Kiaransalee, the drow goddess of both vengeance and the undead. Only one wielding the Claw of the Revenancer could create and control it.

Julbin supplies the group with numerous magical amenities, but fears the worst with the news Dusk brings. He summons the members of the newly restored Guild of the Naturalists to the guild hall to bring everyone to up to date. The idea that the three planes collapsed upon each other distressed Mintassan the Planeswalker to no ends. Dusk also portrays Cedarspoke in the direst of consequences. All resources have been redirected to life saving measures to keep the citizens warm and fed. Trade has been put on ice because of the winter storms. The half-drow reminds them of the pressing need to return to Cedarspoke, and the group moves through the mirror portal to their destination, leaving the distraught Beast Tamers with only terrible thoughts of what is happening.

Emerging outside of the once glorious Cedarspoke, the group witnesses the beating the city has taken under the harsh weather. The battery of winter has left the city withered, emaciated. The saturation of snow and ice has reduced the ivy walls to brown vines left to strangle each other in a failed attempt at life. The trees of the forest lie barren, stripped of their might. Branches are moored to the snowy ground, weighed down by anchoring ice columns. Even Gallipolas is caught off guard. But the harsh realization of a dying city is shunted aside; even from this distance the group can see they are minutes too late. Frost giants loom over the city already having breeched its walls. Trees and structures are being leveled as booming laughter echoes across the snowy vale. Then true horror presents itself. Lifeless bodies of Cedarspoke residents are being thrown outside the city walls.

The first body is followed quickly by two more. The race to the city is painstakingly slow. Particularly Dusk is horrified at the disrespect for the dead. His deity Kelemvor would be most upset. Then one of the bodies flails through the sky, this one still alive. Moving swiftly to action the Defenders quaff potions of flight and speed towards the raiders. Their presence is immediately detected by several other frost giants outside of the city. Massive boulders are hurled at them from hidden niches. Gallipolas and Fig break off their approach to deal with the exterior giants.

On the inside of Cedarspoke, other warriors join the fray just as the Defenders engage the frost giants. Dusk greets his sometimes companions, immediately recognizing his fellow members of the Divine Hammer. The frost giants stop their attack to deal with the weak humanoids, but not before the sound of a horn blast echoes through the air. Outside Gallipolas has targeted the frost giant leader, a shaman sprinting from the city’s gate to the ice covered forest.

Their methods are brutal but very effective as the Divine Hammer divides the three giants on the interior of the city and begin to decimate the intruders. Matching the vigor of their counterparts, the Defenders batter their targets with an eye to Gallipolas still outside the city. Once free and clear as the last of the giants falls they move to the exterior of the city to aid the druid. As Lazbin moves to join the battle he does not spy the bodies of the dead citizens that the giants had hurled to their deaths. Tracks lead to the frozen surface of the Cedar River. The mage moves to a better vantage point and detects the reason for the missing bodies. Under the guise of invisibility magic a cluster of humanoids shifts position onto the river’s ice. Without hesitation the blood mage looses an attack upon the group but cannot engage the thieves.

Dusk also detects the disturbance and sends a summoned elemental to lay waste to any desecrators. But the immediate need is with the remaining giants. Gallipolas and Fig are more than relieved to receive assistance, as the leader has escaped into the frozen forest. With only two remaining the hammer drops on one giant, ending his torment. The remaining frost giant is captured after being rendered blind.

On the edge of the Cedar River, the huge fire element tracks the assailants only to be checked by a creature formed of only ice. Standing motionless the construct awaits the inevitable battle. Blows are exchanged as vast amounts of steam pour into the icy air. In this battle size matters and the ice guardian is destroyed.

Encounters: revenant frost-forged white dragon Salricasa, three frost giant maulers, frost giant spirit seeker, and two frost giant tundra scouts, ice golem.
Achievements: learned of the revenant ritual performed by followers of Kiaransalee, reported the events of the Feywild to the Guild of Naturalists, traveled to Cedarspoke and defeated the frost giant raiding party, and discovered the theft of dead bodies from the assault.