Blood of the Dead Gods

... One Month Later

One month after our adventurers stopped the corruption of the garden of graves they met up in Hammerfast as promised. However, Finch is nowhere to be seen, Alek is wicked hungover, Nas seems angry, Jonah looks worn down and Cale is blue. Not blue as in sad, but as in the color… he looks blue. Also, he has a tramp stamp on his forehead. Regardless, the adventurers (sans Finch) meet up in their favorite Hammerfast watering hole, the Smoking Cauldron, to discuss what is next. The friendly bartender informs them that a Priest in the Lore Ward is looking for able bodied men. Nas, Johan and Cale meet up with Petral who tells them of the Library of Bailard, also know as the Library of High Forest, that had been abandoned for hundreds of years and hires them to recover a mysterious scroll. After checking in with Alek, who is still recovering, they leave a note for Finch and head in the direction of the library. After a few days they arrive at the location of the library, only to be immediately beset upon by Vrocks. These winged, beaked, bearlike creatures seem to be living in the ruins of the library. Fighting their way through the Vrocks, Nas, Johan and Cale find the entrance to the underground library. After resting for a short while, the adventurers proceed to explore the first level of the library. While the main hall is filthy with Vrock guano and small bones, the Adventurers find the untouched remains of the study hall. Among the moldy and rotten remains of books and scrolls they find a letter from the last protector of the library (Forgot his name) who discusses his concerns with the increasingly odd behavior of one of the scholars of the library (forgot his name as well, I am sure it is important). They also find a bookcase which has protected the scrolls within, which they quickly “reclaim,” as well as a mysterious locked box which holds a crystal globe that looks to contain a red misty substance which forms into the shape of a face. Unsure of what to do with the crystal they put it in their chest of holding for safe keeping. Upon further exploration they find a gated door which leads to stairs winding downward to the second level (where the scroll requested by Petral can be found)… At this point Nas, Johan and Cale decide to rest and wait for Finch and Alek to join them.

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Tipping over Tombstones in the Garden of Graves

The party awakens from their rest to find that Johan is unable to be woken and Finch seems to be trapped in a jail in his own mind. Alek, Cale, and Nas continue on.

Traveling though the smaller corridor that was unlocked by the sundial puzzle, the party is promptly attacked by a manitcore and several small scarecrows. Two portcullises raise from the ground blocking their escape and the trio is forced to fight them. Nas strikes hard and fast hitting critical points on the manticore’s body inflicting pain from afar while Cale gets up close and personal swinging his sword against the manitcore as well as taking on several scarecrows at once. Even Alek, forced to take a position on the frontlines, blasts several enemies out with bright radiant blasts.

With the battle over and the portcullises lowered the trio is able to continue through a small rocky corridor and open a simple wooden door. Once through, the corridor opens to a incredibly large garden filled with ivy and coffins. As Cale touches one, the small group is attacked by a large furbog and an eladrin zombie.

The zombie doesn’t seem to connect with any of his hits while the furbog rarely misses, striking with his large club and grabbing Nas and Cale over and over again. Alek takes a monent to offer some relief for the rest of the group and the battle continues until the Furbog draws the fight towards the ivy covered walls. As the party follows, they are met with a giant Ivy heart what swings twin vines at the combatants slowing them down and dazing them.

As the group continues to battle on all fronts, a break in the battle comes with the fall of the large furbog! The three rejoice but quickly remember the two remaining enemies. They begin to focus their fire on the zombie who is taken out quickly and then switch their focus to the remaining ivy heart. Cale and Nas beat and batter the heart while Alek uses his own blood to revitalize the two fighters.

It’s a long and grueling fight but the three emerge victorious and take a quick rest. All of his magics spent, Alek pleads with his friends to take a longer rest and they ultimately agree. They find a quiet corner, consecrate the ground and rest.

Finding only a door left to explore, the group realizes that it is the same door from the tapestry they found earlier. Cale tries to use the key on the door and the group is schocked with lightning emenating from the door. Retreating back out of the doors range, the group thinks about how to open the door.

Putting their heads together, they realize that the key must be used with the lock in the tapestires and not the actual door. Doing so quiets the door and opens it for he group to proceed through.

In a small room, the group finds a machine where all the arcane energy was being pumped into. It looks to further pump the energy to another, undisclosed, location. Further inspecting the machine, they find the scepter used to summon monsters they faught earlier as well as a large glowing crystal. Wanting to avoid another trap, Cale reaches into his pocket and pulls out Horretio! He hurls him through the air and as he descends, knocks the crystal out of it’s holder. The machine’s hum diminishes.

Taking everything of worth from the machine and rooms, the trio collects their still sleeping companions and creates a portal back to Cale’s monestary. Master Wu is relieved the ordeal is over and offers to help Cale master his corruption. Cale eagerly accepts the offer.

With this momentary break in their journeys, the party decided to part ways and meet up again in one month’s time in Hammerfast. While the group has grown close over the last few months adventuring together, they all agree that some adventures must be weathered alone so that they may grow individually as well.

They bid Cale farewell at the monestary and depart in different directions from each other.

(Level to 11 – come up with back story about what happened in this 1 month gap and how you got your paragon)

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What dreams may come

Most of the party wakes to find themselves in a narrow stone corridor. Cale and Johan are no where to be found. By investigating the immediate area Alek and Finch figure out they are in a dream-like pocket dimension.

Upon walking down the corridor, several bright lights suddenly swirl around and converge together taking the form of a Women and wolf. Sensing they mean no harm, the figure introduces herself as Lia and after they all share what they know about their situation (which isn’t much), they decide to travel together.

Reaching a room with a large section of the floor covered in ice, the group is attacked by a large caster type creature made of ice and two of his smaller companions. The ice covered floor adds an extra layer to combat as the combatants find they cannot stop sliding once they decide to cross it. Ultimately the party is victorious and the venture forward through a door.

In the next room, a figure is seen chanting to a stone statue. Her escape is blocked and she attacks the party. A large red skull is painted on the floor and runes around the drawing suggest a trap has been laid. Lia commanded her wolf across the rune and as it ran over the trap – tendrils of blood reach up to slash and hold the wolf. The wolf falls soon after leaving the group at a tactical disadvantage.

New foes are summoned and the fight grows more intense. After a long and grueling battle, the group manages to focus fire on the mysterious figure and kill her which leads to the other foes vanishing.

They take a break and prepare for whatever comes next.

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Clever title here.

Our party ventures further into the structure traversing a narrow corridor and hearing the sounds of people gambling in the distance. Upon further investigation, they determine the sounds are magical in nature. They then come across a room set up like a small underground casino.
As the party approaches one of the tables, they are compelled the game to play it’s game. Cale wins the first hand of Blackjack and the party remembers a stanza from the poem they found telling them to play to win.

Alek is reminded of times past when he sat in a room just like their current one. The call to the games wasn’t new to him, in fact, it was like the whisper of an old lover calling out to him. As Alek fell back into his addiction (and losing almost every hand – just like old times), the rest of the seemed to be doing much better. Cale seemed to hit a hot streak but relied on his book imp Horatio (who seemed to be a natural gambler himself) for advice and slight of hand tricks. Nas also relied on her skills in theivery to throw a fast one (or two) on the possessed tables. As they beat the magical tables in blackjack, High-Low, 5 card stud, and even the basic rock, paper, scissors; the tables closed up shop as quickly as they came to life. Of course the players weren’t above cheating a little to tip the odds in their favor.

The last table of 5 card draw challenged the group to “winner take all” hands resulting in most of the party being knocked out as they lost. When at last they prevailed, a jester appeared and offered Nas 5000 gp or to open the wooded door in the room. Nas, unwilling to make a decision, let the others choose for her and the party chooses to open the door revealing a plain stone wall behind the door. Humiliated, the party continued exploring.

In the next room, the party is surprised by a sudden black impenetrable blackness. After an instant it fades and there is suddenly two of each of them! As they begin the attack the party notices that Not-Finch although dressed like him, looks nothing like him physically. Focusing their fire on him, they take him down with ease.

Taking some time to break the illusions, they see the tree-like creatures for what they really are and continue their assault.

When they fall, they pull a lever found in the room that opens a door in the tapestry room. Finishing their sweep of the room and connecting tunnels, they find two secret trap doors and lock them with magic nails for future exploration.

Taking a short break, the party cautiously enter the door in the tapestry room…

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When we last left our heroes...
Just trying to catch this up...

(Yeah so the details I have are sketchy at best – if everyone fills in the blanks that’d be great!)

After defeating the Iron Cross and helping to end the conflict in Hammerfast(right?) the party sets off to help Cale’s mentor restore his connection to ancient magics needed to help Cale keep his corruption under control.

After making their way to the compound, the party is attacked by those who had desecrated the magic. Using a portal to enter the Feywild, the party investigates the area only to find a mysterious and ominous poem.

The party soon find themselves staring at a group of a strange statue of three women. After failing to see the merit of the newly found poem, the party then looks critically at the poem to make their way past them by putting a coin in the old woman’s open palm.

Moving forward, the party is faced with giant obelisk with a giant eye at it’s top and a camp setup beneath it. As it’s eye opened the party found that it dazed them. The camp setup then attacked them mercilessly as Cale teleported up to close the eye. Failing, Finch climbs up and finally manages to close the eye while the rest of the party finishes off the animated camping tools.

Moving past the obelisk, the party finds themselves exploring strange buildings that look to be made out of stones used to mark grave sites. the buildings are oddly shaped an as the party explores them, they notice a room filled with many tapestries. behind one tapestry is a blazing brazier shining light one 2 sets of the numbers 1-12, one set in Brass and the other in Iron. Using the poem for more guidance, they realize that one of the tapestries foreshadows what will happen should they fail to decipher the puzzle.

Exploring another building across a rope bridge, the party finds a sundial that is 5 hours fast and find a young female elf calling out to them. In elven, she asks Nas to release you as Alek notices that all is not what it seems. The elf then lashes out at the party and is revealed to be Lumia, a shape shifter made entirely of scarabs. Lumia and her swarms mercilessly attack the party dazing them before they can react.

When the party catches their breath, Alek takes a moment to cast some spells to protect the party and heal their wounds while the rest of the party strikes back at Lumia ultimately emerging victorious.

With Lumia dispatched, the party then enters an adjacent room and finds a pool of water with a key lying in it’s bottom. Suspecting that the pool was under a spell – Cale touches the water only for a large water snake to appear and teleport Cale to a not to distant river separating him from the group. Alek takes his time to prepare a lower water ritual to dry out the pool as Cale made his way back to the party. Cale reaches into the pool once again this time reaching the key and being teleported once again.

The party then reconvenes at the puzzling numbers and casts a shadow on the iron 5 representing 5:00pm. The back corner clicks and slides away revealing a staircase down. Alek consecrates the ground in the room allowing the party to rest, ableit uneasy, before they venturing forward.

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La RĂ©sistance

The party stops in Fallcrest to resupply before continuing on toward Kiris Dahn to see Triana and Kiris Alkirk. They leave Dreus’ head with her sister and collect their reward. Triana tells them of unrest in the Harkenwold, which has been taken over by the Iron Circle, a formerly disciplined band of mercenaries now terrorizing the countryside after a coup in their leadership.

The Iron Circle has apparently been bought out by (southern warlord) and is being used as an army to conquer the Harkenwold and eventually the entire Nentir Vale. Refugees are pouring into Fallcrest, and the road back to Hammerfast is no longer safe. The party decides to investigate. Triana tells them to find (old lady) near (town) in the Harkenwold, who can connect them with the resistance movement.

They travel south and come upon a barren battlefield. Merchant caravans burn by the roadside, one of which bears the symbol of Cale’s old monastery. He finds genasi blood nearby and rushes off after the trail.

The party comes to a homestead surrounded by mercenaries and trained wolves. An old woman taunts the bandits from inside. Before the party can decide what to do, Cale rushes in and attacks the soldiers. He is grievously wounded, but Alek pulls him back from the brink again and again. The bandits are no match for the seasoned adventurers, and soon all but one lies dead. They question him, then leave him to (old lady) to finish off. She tells them to meet (resistance leader) in (town), the leader of the resistance. She also knows of a druid south of town that may have more information.

(Resistance leader) runs an inn in town, and the party stops to refresh themselves. Cale finds two of his companions from the monastery who inform him that they’ve been sent to look for him, to tell him that their master has found a way to reverse corrupt manifestations.

The druid’s grove is untouched by the surrounding violence. She tells them that a group of settlers would be willing to join the resistance, but they are beset by aggressive bullywugs in a cave nearby. The party investigates, and are attacked by stirges and the giant, toad-like humanoids. They finish off the guards at the gate and are poised to head deeper into the cave.

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Rockstopper

As the party approaches the pit, the earth trembles beneath their feet, and a great stone hand rises from the chasm, grasping at the walls and hauling an immense form of living boulders out of the darkness. The creature’s eye burns with liquid fire, it’s hand end in a jagged stump, and a ghostly rib encases its smoldering geode in its chest. Stonefang is free.

The titan charges the party hammering Johan and Cale into the ground with its great fists. Realizing they cannot hope to beat the giant in its present form, the party splits up, racing desperately to the magic circles that hold the power to bind the titan once again. With each fragment of the beast’s body they relinquish, Stonefang lets out a wail of anguish, and his power diminishes. But even in his bound form, he is a terrifying opponent.

He swings his great arms in wide arcs, throwing the heroes to the ground, crushing their frail bodies in his powerful grip. But they surround him, hacking chunks of rock and earth from the huge frame. As he weakens, piles of scree and rubble gather around his feet. The final blow activates the power of the binding ritual, and Stonefang is dragged back into the pit, sealed in by the power of Moradin.

The Shadowed Chain approach, thanking the party for their help. But the earth shakes yet again, and the dwarves look grim. They circle the altar of Torog and implore the Master of Jailers to help them contain the titan. The broken form of The King Who Crawls appears before them and demands a sacrifice. As the party looks on in horror, the dwarves slit the throat of their leader and throw it onto the altar, but it isn’t enough to sate Torog’s bloodlust. He takes the others a swell, and comes after the party, who try to escape out the pass.

The tunnel begins to cave in and Alek is caught under debris. Cale stops to help him and they are ambushed by ettercaps and giant spiders. Exhausted from their battle with Stonefang, the party must nonetheless fight their way out. At last, they reach the exit, but Torog compels them to remain behind. The power of Melora and Sehanine frees them from his grasp, but Duggan is lost in the darkness. The Shadowed Chain is no more.

They party returns to Timbervale and relates the tale to Thane Harvak and Ragrim, who give them their promised reward. They decide to journey to see Triana and Kiris Alkirk to inform them of the death of Dreus before heading back to Hammerfast at last.

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Bloodwings

The Shadowed Chain cultists explain that the dwarves of Stonefang Pass sealed an earth titan named Stonefang deep within the mountain thousands of years ago. When the seals began to fade, a small group of them turned to the worship of Torog, god of jailers and torturers, to maintain the bonds. They have been chanting non-stop for several weeks now to keep the titan in check, but he is still able to cause tremors and quakes that shake the entire mountain. Only when his four body parts are returned to the Pit Room can he be sealed away again.

The party is already in possession of the hand, and they convince the dwarves to give them the rib, though one of their number, Duggan, insists on accompanying them to recover the other artifacts. Nas remains behind to guard the chanting dwarves.

The orcs are holed up in a citadel on the other side of the pass. The party comes to a broken stone bridge guarded by archers on towers, orc savages, and a huge orc riding a wild boar. The archers skewer Cale, nearly killing him before he can move. Alek pauses for a glorious moment, and the heroes feel more resilient. The path across the bridge is tricky, but they navigate it, hacking apart the savages.

Finch uses the titan’s hand again, sending the boar crashing into the river, though the orc nimbly dismounts. The archers pelt them with arrows while the party ignores them and focuses on the giant orc. Johan pushes him into a gap in the bridge, where he clings desperately for a few seconds before Cale finishes him off. Then they set their sights on the archers, clambering over scaffolding to reach their perches. But the boar climbs out of the river and rushes Finch, who dared to toy with his emotions.

Finch scrambles up the catwalk out of reach, and the boar turns to Alek, charges, and leaps over the rickety wooden beams, narrowly missing the cleric. From their vantage points, they fling spell and steel at the boar until Alek cooks it through with searing light. The archers quickly fall, too.

Within the citadel, they hear the sounds of dwarves being tortured by orcs. Duggan bursts through the door to rescue them, but the orcs are ready. The party bottles them up in a narrow hallway, ganging up on each orc before they can bring their full force to bear. When all the orcs are dead, they free the dwarven prisoners, one of whom is Thane Harvak, Rangrim’s father and leader of Stonefang Pass. He and Duggan argue, revealing that a civil war with the Shadowed Chain gave the orcs the opportunity to invade, though they agree to put their differences aside for now. A chest nearby houses the earth titan’s heart.

A dragon-masked orc and two wolf shamans await them on the floor above, though the party gets the jump on them. They quickly wound the dragon-faced leader, and he sprouts wings of blood before breathing noxious poison over all of them. One of the shaman pulls a lever which open a skylight in the ceiling, and the winged monster flies away, letting the heroes focus on the two shaman. Wolf spirits attack them from all sides, and boar spirits explode when they kill them.

The dragon-orc returns, hovering just out of reach and blasting them all with his poisoned breath. Finally, the shaman are killed, and when the monster lands to confront them, they chop off his wings and sever his head. He has the eye on him. With all four artifacts in their possession, they prepare to return to the Pit Room to bind Stonefang once and for all.

Loot
Skald’s armor +2
River of Life gloves
Vanguard weapon +2
200g

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Pit Stop

With the party finally together again, they proceed deeper into the pass. Wedgd into a side door, they find the body of Flinka’s sister, as well as the spirit of the dwarf child Dori, who thanks them and fades away.

Nas overhears several orcs arguing over spoils, allowing her and Finch to surprise them, cutting them down before they can raise an alarm. The party cautiously descends a stone staircase lined with friezes, each depicting a dwarven battle with what Cale determines is an earth titan. In each vignette, a piece of the titan is cut away: an eye, a rib, its heart, and a giant stone hand, exactly like the one they already have in their possession.

The stairway ends in a large, high-ceilinged cavern ringed with orcish archers. They face the center of the cavern, which houses a large pit, four glowing magic circles, and a large, brutish ogre being reprimanded by a cloaked figure in a troll mask.

The party surprises them, hacking apart two of the archers before they can respond. Cale and Johan charge the cloaked figure, finding that each of the magic circles provides a different benefit, though it grants the same powers to their enemies.

The masked shaman orders the ogre to attack and begins hurling spells, but he is quickly laid low. Other archers appear from the shadows and skewer the party with volley after volley.

Finch pulls the earth titan’s hand from his cloak and binds the ogre to his will. He commands it to drop its weapons and leap into the deep pit, which it does, with relish. A loud thud let’s them know it’s not bottomless. As they circle the pit to approach the archers, the masked figure suddenly stands up, his wounds healing before their eyes. Cale runs him through with his sword and rips off the mask.

The earth shakes, throwing everyone to the floor, and for a while the battle continues on hands and knees. The shaman rises yet again, declaiming, “The magic is not in the mask, but in the wearer!” and is put down yet again before Alek crawls over to him, lights a torch, and stabs it into the shaman’s eye. He lights like a pyre, burning away to ash in seconds.

Meanwhile, the archers take up advantageous positions, and the ogre climbs out of the pit. Finch uses the strength of the hand to push the ogre back into the pit, but is knocked in after him by an archer. Several tense seconds pass as they trade blows in the dark. Then the shaman’s voice rings out again. “You fool! Stop hitting me and get us out of this pit!”

The ogre complies, and the rest of the party sees Finch on his shoulder, but his arms are mottled green, like a troll’s. A few seconds later and he seems normal again, hopping off the ogre’s back and telling everyone to finish off the brute. The ogre goes down, and the archer’s finally succumb to steel and fire.

Alek is very suspicious of what happened in the pit, questioning Finch but receiving no answers. Before it escalates to a fight, they hear dwarven chanting and orcish battle cries.

They rush down a hall to find a cadre of Shadowed Chain cultists engaged in a protective ritual as a horde of orcs lays siege to their position. The party routs the orcs, though Alek takes a few potshots at Finch, and all is calm for now.

Loot
bunch of gold and platinum
Bracers of Archery

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Between an Orc and a Hard Place

The peculiar room the group was resting in continued to work it’s magics yet again as Finch was impossible to awaken whenthe rest of the party set out to continue their quest. Cale, although awake and coherent seemed distant to the rest of the group.

They traveled the corridors and came across a stone slab blocking the tunnel the party had been looking for. Examining the slab, the group observes an arm hanging to the side, blood dripping into a pool below. Nas identifies it as Orcish.

Alek, notices a large chain mechanism connected to the large stone slab however the chain is much to high for the party to utilize at the moment. The party also notices a door that leads to a gate house.

Continuing on, the group comes to a small hallway which is lined with pressure plates activating four crossbow turrets placed throughout the corridor. Johan and Cale easily cross along the wall finding suitable hand and foot holds to avoid touching the floor. On the other side, the two find another small hall with a pressure sensitive plate and three mechanical snakes just past it. Nas, much more agile then then the rest of the party, uses an array of acrobatic flips, cartwheels, and handsprings to cross the hall narrowly avoiding each bolt as they pass by her. Alek trying to emulate Johan and Cale, attempts to find his own hand holds to cross the area but slips and finds himself in the cross hairs of all four crossbows. Avoiding the plate, the three heroes attack the snakes without mercy while Alek runs across the rest of the hall taking pot shots from the crossbows.

The mechanical snakes are formidable foes but ultimately fall under the combined might of Johan primal might, Cale’s sword and magic and Nas’s deadly twin strikes. As the last snake whirls around signifying the end of it’s mechanical life, a door at the end of the hall opens and two more mechanical automatons activate each with a hammer and claw at the ready.

Upon entering the room, Cale notices a large chasm in the middle of the room and large piles of dirt and debris along side it. Presumably, the constructs had been busy digging prior to the party’s arrival. The back of the crossbows can be seen to the west as well along with a large shut door on the opposite wall. A large switch is also seen in between the enemies.

The party charges in and attacks ferociously at the constructs. Johan savagely attacks four times and practically severs the hammer from one of them. It tries to attack back but it’s newly defective hammer makes attacking much less effective. Cale charges forth, critically striking the construct with booming blades while Nas attacks from afar with her spider wasp sting. Alek contributes with his sacred flame attacks. The constructs go down without much effort.

Searching around, the crossbows are reprogrammed to attack at orcs as a precaution and Alek opens the large door. Inside, he finds a large looming construct made in the likeness of a dwarf. Fearing another fight the group prepares for the worst, only to find that the construct does not move. Examining it, Cale is able to decipher some runes at it’s base and tells the rest of the party that the large dwarven construct can be controlled with a ritual and that it’s use was to help the short dwarves to open the large stone slab.

Alek concentrates and completes the ritual. With the golem under his control, he wills it to open the gate. The sound of the large stone slab opens in the distance followed by the sounds of a large group of orcs. Alek wills the golem to drop the gate. A slamming sound is heard and only one orc’s cry is heard as it is caught by the crushing stone slab.

A large contingency of orc savages, followed by three orc reavers and led by a orc captain begin to make their way through the gate house. As these enemies advance, our party hold their positions hoping their newly reprogrammed crossbows will serve them well.

The orc captain holds it’s reavers and sends it’s group of savages across the hallway where the party’s trap has been laid. Crossbow bolt fire indiscriminately at the orcs and many fall dead under the assault. Now knowing what they are up against, the captain and reavers charge ahead and take minimal damage from the trap.

On the other side, a reaver activates the previously avoided pressure plate in the small hall and a portcullis falls damaging the reaver and blocking the enemies’ advance. The party uses this advantage and moves into position to attack the enemies biding their time until the portcullis falls.

The orcs attack the blockage without mercy and as the pathway is cleared, many of them fall to Cale’s attacks. Johan and Cale move to flank the captain and take it down with deadly attacks moving on to now startled reavers. Nas and Alek focus fire on the remaining reavers and savages until the party emerges victorious.

Using the golem again to reopen the gate, the party pauses to collect Finch and themselves before heading further into the tunnel.

Loot
300 gp

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