Kord's Deliverance

Session 29

The following morning the party departed quickly, re-establishing their methodical search for the path of their enemies. It was not hard; evidence of troll activity was abundant “Hundreds,” stated Slyron, needlessly. Indeed, the numerous tracks seemed to confirm the boast the troll raiders had made at the gates of Gardmore Abbey.

Near mid-morning, Slyron caught the sound of weeping up ahead. He spied three women in the middle of a grove, sobbing over the prone, still figure of another woman. He reported back to the others.

“How many weeping women?” Morgan asked.

“Three.”

“Hags,” said Asha.

“Witches,” added Gheshkan.

“A coven,” corrected Gwydion.

They could have been wrong. They weren’t.

As the party cautiously made their way towards the grove, the women spotted them. “Please!” they begged. “Help our fallen companion!.”

“Sure,” replied Slyron. “How about first, you tell us why you are out here?”

“We are travelers, simple farmfolk trying to get home when we were beset by beasts!”

“So, which is it?” Morgan snapped. “Travellers, or farmfolk?”

The women looked at each other briefly. That was enough for Morgan.

“Bullshit,” he said, and yanked out his axe. The others followed suit and quickly moved in.

The three women looked non-plussed for a moment. Then, their features melted, bubbled, and elongated into the grotesque, warty visages of hags.

“By Kord!” Gheshkan said, recoiling. “You’re ugly, even to me!”

“We’ll fix that.” Slyron said, whipping his dagger into the face of the first hag.

Indeed, neither the hags nor their large serpentine companions were much of a match for the determined group. All but one were cut down. The final hag had been incapacitated by Asha, but not killed.

Morgan slapped it. The hag stirred, groggy. Another slap brought forth a groan. The bloodied hag feebly spat out a thick phlegm of fluid. Morgan grabbed the hag by the sides of her deformed skull and lifted her into the air.

“Where is Skalmad?” he asked.

The hag coughed out a laugh. “Ye want Skalmad? Ye are heading the right direction.”

“Thanks.” With a quick twist, Morgan broke the hag’s neck.

Gheshkan’s mouth dropped open in shock. Slyron was less fazed. “What took you so long?” he asked Morgan as the dwarf brushed past.

“Look at this,” called out Gwydion. He gently rolled over the prone figure around which the hags had gathered. It was Thelva. She was dead.

“Trolls,” said Morgan. “I can tell by the claw marks. See?” The dwarf hauled up his breastplate, exposing his recently acquired scars. “Damn fungus-heads ruined me perfect abs!”

They buried Thelva under a hasty cairn. “We can continue the rites back in town.” Asha said. The party pressed on throughout the day. The marshes became less and less hospitable as they moved deeper into its centre. Towards the end of the day, they came across a large pond, bordered by wetlands and trees. A thick, musky smell permeated the air, the organic richness of the Downs. An odd sight by the pond, however. Floating out over the water were strange globes of light. The globes moved with a sense of purpose; indeed, they appeared to notice the party, and begin an approach.

With their resources depleted, Kord’s Deliverance decided to rest for the evening before investigating the lights. The knife cut a hole in the world, and the party disappeared. Upon speculation, Gwydion announced with typical surety that the lights were, in fact, creatures. “Will o’ the wisps,” he stated, then went on to list their characteristics and tendancies.

“You should write your own book, you know.” Slyron said to the eladrin once he’d finished his lengthy monologue.

“Really? I mean, pff, really. I have several already in the planning stages.

“That’s good. I’ve got the perfect title too.

“Oh?”

“Adna Zeeum.”

“Ah. That, of course, means…” Gwydion began, then tailed off. “…um, actually, I have no idea. What does that mean?”

Slyron looked bemused for a moment, then his face cleared.

“My apologizes. I pronounced it wrong. It’s ‘ad nauseum’”.

“Ah! Yes, that’s much better. I—wait a minute…”

Slyron turned away, a tight grin on his lips. Before the spluttering wizard could retort, Asha took him by the arm.

“These will o’ the wisps. You said they are sentient?”

“By all the—eh? Oh. Yes,” Gwydion glowered once more in the direction of the elf, but Slyron had moved on. Gwydion focused back on Asha. “Yes, they are. But I would not recommend attempting to converse with them. They want lifeforce, our lifeforce.”

“Really,” mused Asha. She turned to Gheshkan. “I’ll need your help tomorrow.”

“Absolutely. What for?” Ghesh asked.

“To trade with these Will o’ the Wisps.”

“Trade? What are you trading?”

“Me? Nothing.” Asha gave Ghesh a dazzling smile, then lay gracefully down, settling for sleep.

“Oh. Alright…then…”

However, the will o’ the wisps were not willing to trade. Or even barely talk. They were waiting near where the party had cut a hole with their exodus knife, as though they’d been there all night. Asha’s attempts to speak with them were rebuffed.

“_We want lifeforce_…” was all they said before exploding into brilliant novas. Each flare dazzled a party member, then dragged it into the marshy shoreline. The motives of the ethereal creatures became clear when strange, crustaceous looking creatures burst forth from the swampy muck to attack. Symbiosis, Gwydion would have lectured—but there was little time. A desperate battle followed, with the heroes fighting off the disorienting radiant attacks as the lobster-like aberrations tried to pull them into the water and feed. They managed to neutralize the chuuls first, then turned their attentions to the globes of light. Not easy to damage, and very, very hard to follow, but the wisps obviously had never encountered Kord’s Deliverance before (which makes sense, of course, because if they had, they’d already be dead).

Nevertheless, the group had expended an inordinate amount of their resources. They decided to press on carefully, and any encounter that looked too dangerous, they’d simply cut a hole with the exodus knife and rest. Hopefully they’d get the choice…

Late in the day, a flash of metal caught Slyron’s eye. He dropped to his knees, peering ahead carefully. The glint came from a copse of trees; in fact, he spotted several glints, almost strand like, reflecting from in between several of the trees. Also, in the middle of the copse, he could see a thick overgrown bush. Something large was concealed within it; the bush swayed with unusual movement, too erratic to be the wind.

As it was already late, the party chose to rest.

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Session 28

Camroth lay before them, trussed up and unconscious. His capture had been relatively easy. But their next step was not so clear.

A conference was held with Lord Marquelhay. The accusation against Silvoth hung in the air, a fat, awkward albatross whose landing was going to be ugly regardless of whether on a pillow or hard rock. After much debate, the party chose a pillow; no action was to be taken against Silvoth. They also chose, however, not to inform Silvoth of the charge laid forward by the treacherous Camroth. Best to keep their options open. Despite this, Morgan was adamant that Silvoth be considered innocent until proven guilty.

The heroes left the fate of Camroth up to their newly restored mayor. In return for their actions, Lord Marquelhay awarded the estate of disgraced noble to Kord’s Deliverance, including four large farms in addition to the sprawling mansion overlooking the future site of the cathedral to Kord. A more propitious spot could not have been chosen for a base of operations. Sly almost thanked Camroth for his treachery.

Sly spent the full day searching the mansion and its environs; he uncovered some money, as well as several worthwhile works of art. Gwydion, meanwhile, reconstructed the papers that Camroth attempted to burn, then retreated to the tower to decipher them. His findings were ominous; it appeared that the cult of Zehir had been in Fallcrest for decades, underground. A powerful servant of the reptile god had recently been brought to the town and had revived and strengthened the cult.

More contentious debate continued as to the question of the shards, and whether their existence should be revealed. Morgan, in keeping with his ‘No Secrecy’ mandate, urged the party to tell the townspeople. Others were less keen, Gheshkan and Asha in particular. Gwydion’s insistent demand to make a detailed study of all the shards was barely past his lips before being met by a resounding “NO” from the Sly, Morgan, and Gheshkan.

Lord Marquelhay finally stepped into the debate, suggesting that revealing the existence of the shards would not be as beneficial as Morgan believed. However, he did agree that the town deserved to know of the dangers they faced. Lord Marquelhay also announced a celebratory Market Day, to be held in honour of the heroes. Morgan and Gheshkan began crafting the speech the paladin would deliver to their fellow citizens.

The spirit of the town had clearly been restored, as evidenced by the joyous celebration the following day. The party was not idle, however. During Gheshkan’s rousing speech, Sly kept a reconnaissance on the crowd, watching for those whose reactions seemed suspicious. Asha also engaged Silvoth in conversation, trying to subtly discern any adverse clues as to his loyalties.

A day later, the party was off again. Captain Tarowyn was still missing, and the party returned to Melissa on another fact finding mission. Melissa had no information about Tarowyn himself, claiming that her ‘knowledge’ of Marquelhay’s location was an educated guess. The trip was not a total loss, though; Melissa taught Gwydion a potent new ritual to allow the party to commune with extraplanar sages.

The party returned to Fallcrest to allow Gwydion time to master the ritual. “I am ready,” the eladrin announced later that day. He had spent several hours preparing the room. Morgan, Asha, and Gheshkan gathered around Gwydion to assist with the incantation. Gheshkan wrinkled his snout with annoyance, and nudged Asha. “Why is it,” he whispered, “ that every ritual requires the use of really stinky incense?” Asha shushed him as Gwydion stepped forward.

Breathing in the incense deeply, the eladrin intoned.

“Where is the nearest temple of the Zehir where Tarowyn might be kept?”

“Gardbury Downs…”

The voice responded immediately, and was gone before the party had even time to process the words. Gwydion blinked.

“Well. That was…prompt.”

Gardbury Downs. The party began readying to leave immediately. The downs was where Gardmore Abbey was located. If a Zehir temple was in the area, their allies, including Nereth, could be in serious danger. An urgent march to the abbey ensued.

The news was worse than they could imagine. Nereth met them at the gates, and immediately pulled his son aside, where they spoke in private for several minutes. Morgan and Gwydion exchanged a trouble look. Nereth was renowned for his directness; such secrecy was highly unusual for him.

When Ghesh returned, a long look on his face, the sense of dread deepened within the party. It turned to horror after Ghesh quietly relayed to them what his father had described. Several of the Gardmore Abbey protectors had struck out into the Downs to deal with an increasingly troublesome group of trolls. They were gone for a few days. The day before, a sack was thrown over the walls into the Abbey compound. Inside were the heads of those who had ventured forth. Their friends from Fastormel, the dwarf and the mute giant Arak were among those murdered, ghesh reported. Then, sadly, the paladin turned to Sly.

“I’m so sorry, slyron. Your parents were with them…I…they went as guides and now…” He couldn’t finish. Slyron stood mute, his face drained of color. He then turned and walked off without a word. The party stood, stunned and silent.

“Rest up.” Morgan said to the others after several long moments. “Reckon we’re leavin’ at first light.”

Come dawn, the party moved swiftly and with purpose. Carefully tracking the areas, noting where trolls were best to make lairs, Kord’s Deliverance pushed their way deep into the moors. Before the noon sun had reached it zenith, success. Grunting, broken giant dialect could be heard up ahead. Slyron immediately drew his daggers and headed towards the noise. The party followed, barely keeping up.

The four trolls tore into the flesh of the cow with abandon, grunting and laughing as they fought over the best pieces. Nearby, a blue skinned Oni, an ogre mage, regarded them disdainfully. He carefully cut a slice from a choice leg with an ornate knife, and sighed. He preferred his meat cooked, generally.

He got his wish.

The explosion of fire that erupted within the midst of the beasts was impressive, and painful. The party did not hesitate, throwing themselves into the fray while their opponents reeled from the magical blasts. The heroes landed several dire blows. Sly darted amongst the disoriented trolls, fury lending his cuts a deep deadliness.

However, their rage carried them only so far. The resilient trolls healed quickly, while the party exhausted valuable resources too quickly. soon, the party was divided and on the verge of being overwhelmed.

“Skalmad will feast on your bones!” crowed the Oni as he and another troll surrounded a bleeding Asha. He timed his swing perfectly, catching the Deva as she tried to avoid the claws of the flanking troll. The Oni laughed as his blade cut a vicious wound across the Deva’s side. His laugh turned to a sudden scream. As his blade bit into the deva, an identical cut opened on his side with a blaze of radiant light. Asha’s eyes glowed.

“My blade will feast upon yours,” she replied fiercely.

But their foes had the advantage. Gheshkan once again fell, the claws of the massive beasts rending him. By luck and desperation, the party managed to regroup. Supported by Gwydion’s elemental fire, they focused their attacks while their opponents were separated. Finally, the party managed to take down a couple of the warty giants, and the tide turned.

“We were hasty,” Asha announced, as the head of the bizarre Oni, an ogre mage, was being cut from its body. She, along with all the others, displayed deep wounds from the furious battle. She turned to Sly. “I know you seek vengeance for your parents murders. Trust me, I understand. But reckless abandon will only aid our foes.”

Sly leveled a cold stare at Asha. He said nothing, only turned and stalked off, eyes searching for tracks.

Morgan walked up. “Let him go, Asha. We’ll rest here.” Indeed, Gheshkan had already dropped to the ground, exhausted. Gwydion nudged the paladin with his foot. “In here,” and the eladrin indicated the dimensional hole he had just cut with their remarkable knife. Gheshkan groaned, then pulled himself up and disappeared through the door. Asha followed. Morgan stared after Slyron, then looked to Gwydion. The wizard nodded.

“You go. I’ll stay for him.”

Morgan stepped in. As the shadows deepened on the Downs, the only sound now to be heard was the wizard’s muffled cough as he stood guard, patiently awaiting the grieving elf.

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Session 27, Part Two

The party made their way back to Gardmore, where the return of the missing mayor brought much cheer to the abbey. The heroes were treated to a truly magnificent banquet; a simple, emotional speech by Lady Marquelhay, thanking the party for the rescue of her beloved husband, solidified both the reputation, and the resolve, of Kord’s Deliverance.

The travails of the past few months had clearly transformed the party. Gheshkan sported yet another scar, his body now a tapestry of near death encounters. However, not a single one had reduced an ounce of his bravery; as he sat beside his father, who carried not a few scars himself, Gheshkan nearly overflowed with confidence.

On the other hand, Gwydion sat through the banquet in a back corner, acknowledging very few attempts to engage or entertain him. Racking coughs plagued him, and he spat the blue phlegm into a bowl on the table. In a short while, he got his wish; solitude.

Slyron couldn’t have found solitude even if he wanted it, which he most definitely did not. Three young maidens, two human and one gorgeous half elven waif, tormented him all evening. Tormented, because he could not decide in which order he should bed them. He plucked another bottle of dandelion wine from a passing servant; let the eladrin scowl in the corner, he thought. I’m making up for lost time.

Of the four original companions, perhaps the most transformed was Morgan. A new gravitas surrounded the dwarf; he was no less gruff, but his surliness was far less irrational. A focus had settled into the dwarf, and a serious, considerate mien now played across his face where was once headstrong stubbornness. Perhaps the new holy symbol that hung around his neck had something to do with it.

“No more secrecy.”

Morgan declaration came the next morning, as the group gathered to discuss the new shard they had discovered deep in the temple of Zehir. It had not served them so far, he argued, and Lord Marquelhay, at the very least, deserved to know of the true dangers facing Fallcrest. A long discussion followed, in which the party debated their next steps in battling the Zehir. A return to Fallcrest was decided in favour over searching for the missing captain of the guard. They had no clues as to where Tarowyn might be, and yet, they were certain that the Zehir could be found in their hometown. Their targets; first Silvoth, and after him Camroth.

Ironically, despite Morgan’s opening declaration at the meeting, the next tactics the party chose to adopt were rife with subterfuge. Sly, supported by Asha, had successfully argued in favour of the element of surprise. Use what advantages we have now, he urged. We have knowledge they do not. Let the traitors show their hand! Asha added, We know that we are innocent, so why would we act otherwise? The traitors also know that we are innocent, but do not know that we can prove it.

They decided on a two prong ‘attack’. Kord’s Deliverance would enter Fallcrest first, and when confronted, as they knew they would be, they would demand to meet with the interim mayor, Silvoth, for an explanation. Asha, disguised as a handmaiden to Lady Marquelhay, would accompany the Lord and his retinue, following the party a half an hour behind. The dwarven Sending Stones they discovered in the temple would serve to keep each group informed of what transpired.

The meeting with Silvoth was indeed forced. The guards at the entrance to Fallcrest had no interest in fighting the party, and the demand to see their superiors was gladly fulfilled. Surprisingly, Silvoth met the party alone, without protection. He listened to their story, and told them what he could of what had happened in Fallcrest since their departure. After a private discussion, the party chose to take Silvoth into their confidence. His sincerity seemed genuine, and he could aid the party in uncovering the traitors.

Gwydion contacted Asha, and the two groups convened at Silvoth’s inn just outside Fallcrest. A further plan developed. Lord Marquelhay would sent a message ahead to Camroth, requesting his presence. Slyron would make reconnaissance, and watch his reaction. It worked. Camroth panicked, retreated into his quarters in the barracks to gather up a ream of papers, and then galloped off towards his estate. Slyron alerted the others, and gave chase. Asha caught up to Slyron, and together they pursued Camroth to the gates of his compound. Using speed, stealth, and illusion, the two managed to make their past the guards inside and defeat Camroth as he tried to burn away the evidence of his Zehir connections.

The final surprise, however, came with Camroth’s defiant revelation of who had really orchestrated the coup. Silvoth. The strands of the web multiplied…

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Session 27, Part One

Following the archer downwards, the group emerged into a cavern dominated by an underground lake. They were attacked by two lizardmen with swords, while across the lake a mage tossed thundering spells, and the archer harried them with more arrows. the fight was made more challenging as party members got shoved into the piranha filled water. They regrouped and routed their enemies, save for one: the archer had fled, yet again.

Reaching the bottom of the stairs, the party became trapped in a room filling with water. they escaped unscathed, but cut off from any return. A long passage lead to a staircase that wound many steps, upwards this time. It lead to the top of a column in the centre of the ziggurat, thirty feet high. at the bottom of the column, a floor of snakes. And, patiently waiting for them, a trio of villians: a naga, a yuan-ti armored warrior, and that damn archer. And, as they emerged in battle formation, strategy in place, one more surprise combatant: an invisible assassin. in mere seconds their strategy went up in smoke.

A furious battle ensued, and for many moments, Kord’s Deliverance found themselves in dire straits. With resources and health rapidly diminishing, the outcome looked bleak. Kord, however, would not abandon his heroes, not yet, at any rate. they regrouped, managed to overcome the wicked poisonous effects of magic and missile, and cut down their foes. Lord Marquelhay was found, bound and unconscious. they revived him, rested, and de-activated all the temple traps using the master controls. They retraced their steps out of the temple, and headed for Gardmore.

For a longer version, click here

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Session 26

An early morning of spring sun greeted the party, but few felt any joy.

The group had been largely silent on their travels to the northeast, each downcast in their private thoughts; the bright, shining dawn did little to change their mood. Melissa had informed them the night before that they were now in Zehir territory, and their destination lay not too far ahead. Morgan Ironhews offered a gruff thanks, and, knowing Melissa placed little value in gold, said they’d return the favour ‘with future considerations.’ Melissa smiled slyly. “Future considerations are potentially…considerable…” She turned and disappeared into the woods.

“Let’s git goin’” Morgan growled.

Slyron had already faded from view up ahead. Gwydion floated along on his Tenser’s Disk, a dark cloud upon his face, occasionally coughing up a bluish phlegm. Gheshkan thrashed along with a furious determination, as though each branch he snapped from his path eased a personal affront. Morgan followed, his usual scowl distant, his bluster silent. Asha glided along, her serene countenance marred with nervousness. Her tentative attempts to speak with Gwydion had been waved away irritably, while every time she looked to Morgan, she found him already staring at her, a wide eyed look that he quickly snapped away. Unsettled, she too lapsed into a silent march.

The forest began to clear, albeit unnaturally. They came upon hundreds of stumps, medium sized, as the forest had been selectively culled. Ghesh nearly ran into Sly. The elf pointed to the ground silently. The others looked down, and saw tracks, heavy boots, and many of them. They were not alone.

Morgan nodded to Sly, who quickly slid ahead into the underbrush. He was gone several minutes, then reappeared suddenly among them. “Just up ahead. Come, they shouldn’t be able to see us…hopefully,” he added, eying Ghesh in his wall of armor. The massive dragonborn shrugged, noisily and uncaring.

The ziggarut towered three levels high, each massive step rising 15 feet. The party, however, had to look down onto it; the strange structure had been dug out of the earth, as evidenced by the enormous pile of dirt upon which they now crouched. The structure was clearly ancient. Thousand of carvings, all serpents in bas-relief, covered the walls; even from here, though, the party could see the carvings were worn down, pitted and scarred. A ramp lead down into the pit. A clearing surrounded the snake-adorned ziggurat, and numerous humanoids wandered around, fulfilling menial tasks or simply standing and watching. Guards.

Morgan went to speak, but Gwydion cut him off. “Leave them to me,” he snapped, eyes narrow.

The assault was swift, and decisive. Making their way initially down the ramp hidden against the wall, they leapt into action as Gwydion unleashed a torrent of fire upon the guards. Sly jumped clear over the gap from the ramp to the first level of the ziggurat, firing off his daggers. Ghesh also jumped, in his own way, down to the clearing. He landing neatly on his chest in a massive crash. He staggering to his feet, gasping. “Didn’t…need…to breathe…anyway…”

Morgan and Asha followed up, the deva firing astounding bolts of radiant light from her eyes, the dwarf thundering his charge into a large warrior, timed perfectly to follow another explosion of magical frost from Gwydion.

Their opponents stood little chance. Ghesh pounded them from one side, Morgan and Asha from another, Sly from above, and Gwydion from afar. Even after the bulky leader shoved Asha off the edge of the ramp and charged upon the eladrin wizard, his time was running out. Morgan cut him down, hard.

One almost got away, however. The remaining cultist sprinted desperately for the temple entrance. Sly threw his dagger aiming for the spine of this not-so-lucky emeny. A small rock tripped up the cultist and as he caught himself, he accidentally dodged Sly’s dagger. A second, more precise dagger was thrown with a little more conviction. But as the cultist saw the first dagger whiz by him, it startled him and he flinched, accidentally again, out of the way of the second dagger. Sly, astonished and a little amuzed, ponders to himself, “Maybe it’s not his time.” At that moment, a blast of light ripped past Sly, tagging the cultist just as he was about to disappear around the corner. He tumbled down dead, his back smoking. Sly looked back over his shoulder. Asha stood nearby, a small smile on her lips. Sly, a little embarrassed, muttered “Oh, I guess it is.”

Buoyed by their initial success, the party pressed forward into the depths of the temple. A mummy and more cultists all fell under their weapons. A meditation hall and unholy pool were quickly searched. The party was slowed somewhat by a peculiar set of winding passageways, their ceilings and walls full of holes. “Watch for damn snakes,” Morgan warned, nodding at the apertures.

Ghesh, who had turned and moved up ahead into a long, straight, wide hall, suddenly shouted. “That’s no damn snake!!” A gigantic boulder came rumbling swiftly down towards him. Nowhere to run—no time anyway—Ghesh lowered his shoulder with a furious bellow to Kord. The boulder slammed into the dragonborn, flattening him and rolling right over top. Sly was luckier—well, smaller—and squeezed himself down into the corner of the floor and the wall as the boulder spun past. Asha jumped back into the narrow, hole filled passage with Morgan and Gwydion, and the boulder slammed into the end of the hall with a resounding crash.

Ghesh staggered to his feet. “Wow,” he groaned. “That really did not work.”

A hissing sound filled the small passageway where Asha, Morgan, and Gwydion had retreated. “Ah. NOW come the snakes,” Gwydion noted dryly. However, instead of serpents, a sweet, translucent gas issued forth from the numerous openings and enveloped the three.

Confusion. I have to get away. No Gwydion! This way! You—you are zehir! Feel the bite of my sword! Asha, stop, it’s me, Morgan! No, I won’t move. Get off me, dwarf. Oh for—not you too, damn Eladrin! Gimme that stick. What the—

Sly caught Asha as she stumbled from the gas filled hall. He couldn’t help but notice that her eyes were a dazzling emerald hue, and her skin, so soft, was—“Quick, Sly, get a rope!” “Right!” Sly snapped back into action.

With much travail, Sly, Asha, and Ghesh (stuck on the other side of the rock) managed to finally pull the other two from the hall. Morgan has managed to escaped, but then tied the rope to himself and plunged back in after the disoriented eladrin. The gas, which caused potent hallucinations and confusion, affected Gwydion the most, although Morgan himself was not immune, even when trying to hold his breath. Fortunately, in the end, no-one was hurt.

“Whaddaya mean, ‘no one was hurt’!?” Ghesh yelled irritably. Holding up an unrecognizable lump of steel, he snarled. “Look at my shield!”

The next room contained a floor of green, translucent, swirling snakes, tongues flicking menacingly. A few flagstones were bare. At the far end stood a twisted altar. A sharp incantation from Gwydion and a central section of glowing snakes twisted together, and with a discordant hiss, disappeared.

Ghesh stared at the snakes skeptically. “They’re not real, ya know.” He stepped onto a glowing flagstone. Immediately, he began yelping, and he staggered off. The others stared at him. “Uh, yes. Don’t step on them. Especially you, ” Ghesh added, pointing at Gwydion in an attempt to appear authoritative. Gwydion, sitting atop his floating Tensor’s Disk, raised his eyebrow. “Nevermind,” muttered the dragonborn paladin.

However, as they began to make their way from bare spot to bare spot, danger struck. A yuan-ti slithered into the room, taking cover behind the altar, and began shooting arrows at the group. Arrows tipped in poison, as it turned out. The party returned fire as each tried to make the leap to safe ground; the target, however, was not where it seemed to be. Light shimmered and shifted around the yuan-ti, concealing its true location. Only Sly, nimbly leaped to the altar, was not dangerously exposed.

Arrows continued to fly. But as Asha leapt close to the altar, the serpent archer had seen enough. He retreated from the two strikers through the doorway behind the altar.

The heroes did not hesitate, and dashed into the room. Brazier burned in the corners closest to them, revealing a large hall, its walls covered with the same serpent carvings as they’d found else where, with one significant difference: these carvings were human sized.

As Ghesh charged through the doorway at the archer, three statues tore themselves free of the wall and turned towards the paladin. The paladin had a full head of steam, and did not hesitate, turning and charging the nearest statue.

As the others entered, a final surprise. Three walls slid out quickly from each of the two side walls, and the furthest back wall. The heroes tumbled out of the way; one statue was not so lucky. Kord’s Deliverance avoided being crushed—but were now cut off from each other.

A few seconds later, the walls retreated, leaving again the open hall. “By Kord! ‘Member where they came from,” shouted Morgan. “And stay outta their way!”

Asha and Ghesh battled one statue while dodging arrows from the archer. Morgan, Sly, and Gwydion faced the other two. Asha was not having much luck; the stony lizard was faster than it appeared. Her luck worsened moments later as the three walls shot out again—but this time from different locations. Asha narrowly dodge one wall, but was left in complete darkness, trapped. She could hear the lizard statue slithering towards her, and then felt it’s stony claw rip across her left thigh. Breathing deeply, she summoned her Astral Splendor. Light exploded from around her, brightly illuminating the trapped area, and her opponent. She slammed her sword off his scaled hide, and drove it back.

The walls retreated once more, then returned again. Only Morgan was unable to avoid a wall this time. Luckily his armor absorbed most of the punishment. The heroes quickly finished off the statues, and Sly tumbled to the far doorway. The archer was gone. “It ran down some stairs,” he called out. The grinding of gears started up again and the heroes tensed. Sly quickly kicked a lever beside the doorway, and the grinding abruptly halted. No walls appeared. The others breathed sighs of relief.

Morgan strode up to the doorway, joined by Ghesh. Asha limped up with Gwydion, supporting herself against the floating disk. Sly was trying to tie a bandage around Asha’s bleeding, but shapely, thigh; he seemed distracted, however, and kept fumbling the knot.

Ghesh suddenly snorted, laughing.

“What?” the dwarf asked.

“Now your shield looks like mine.” Morgan looked at his arm; indeed his shield was bent askew. “Damn walls,” he grunted.

Morgan stared down the spiral staircase; no sound could be heard. He glanced back at everyone.

“Five minutes. Then we press on.”

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Session 25

The party managed to find its way out of the Underdark, thanks to Gwydion’s increasing mastery of the arcane arts. HIs spell dissolved (literally) the magic seal on a rock wall, allowing them to escape. Of course, it resealed itself behind them.

Making they way out into the forest, they began the long walk back to Fallcrest, once they gained their bearings. Unfortunately, it was a short lived gain; they got lost. Sly and Gwydion heartily disagreed on which direction was correct, with the Mage Hand collecting the final honour.

Back on the road, the party stopped in at Harkenwold and paid a not-so-welcome visit to their not-so- willing host and mayor, Elias. They stayed long enough to deplete his supply of ale, deliver their standard mixed message of hope with a not-so-veiled threat of punishment for disobedience, and entertained the locals with magic and displays of strength.

The following day, at the crossroads, the first of three surprises.

First, Quarion, Gwydion’s older brother, found them. The two had not seen each other for years, and were cordial, if reserved. He was recently of Fallcrest, where he sought out Gwydion to see how his studies were progressing. Quarion was clearly a warrior, and very self assured, almost arrogantly. Morgan helpfully pointed this out to the Eladrin, who, equally as helpful, ignored him. He was happy to hear the party was planning to return to Fallcrest, and asked to accompany them. The two brothers walked together and talked, freely but awkwardly.

Second, Asha appeared. Sly, of course, spotted the slender, attractive woman several hundreds yards away. “I’ll handle this,” he said to the others with a smirk. As smooth as his opening line was, however, the woman ignored him, staring instead with visible excitement at Gheshkan. “You! You are dragonborn!” She turned to Morgan. “And a dwarf. Eladrin, and elf. But I don’t see…nevertheless, it must be. You must, you must be Kord’s Deliverance!” Asha, as it turned out, was an avenger for Kord. She was also a Deva, an extremely rare, almost angelic race. Despite her affinity for Kord, however, her peculiar behavior unsettled the party; two different voices seemed to emerge from the petite figure, almost in conflict with each other.

Asha begged admittance to the party, and also delivered dire news: Kord’s Deliverance was wanted in Fallcrest on charges of kidnapping. Lord Marquelhay, his wife, Captain Tarowyn, and Nerath had all gone missing; also, a large group of refugees, led by some adventurers, had left Fallcrest, and headed towards Gardmore Abbey.

Third, Thurmina, senior guardswoman of Fallcrest, and three of her lieutenants discovered them, and immediately, if reluctantly, called for their surrender. The party was understandably less than accommodating, and responded with harsh words. Quarion, however, who had already disputed Asha’s news from Fallcrest, went one step further, and attacked Thurmina, urging Ghesh to do the same. “She has called your father a traitor, Ghesh!”

Conflicting loyalties escalated the chaos. Morgan and Asha challenged Quarion while Gwydion tried to placate his brother and friends. Ghesh was all too happy to teach Thurmina a lesson, while Sly simply tried to neutralize each immediate threat as it came near. It became devastatingly clear, however, that Quarion was not there to help his brother at all; after he had slain Thurmina, he quickly turned his ire against the party with a vicious glee. “The betrayal of a brother is the worst betrayal of all,” he said with a smile. Gwydion, shocked, snarled at his treacherous kin; “Don’t worry brother, I’ll speak very highly of you—at your funeral!”

Sadly, Quarion was the deadlier of the two. Stalking Gwydion over anyone else, he unleashed his dark magic to kill Gwydion, although he himself did not survive the encounter. Afterwards, Quarion’s actions became clear; the party found the tell-tale signs of Zehir cultist markings upon Quarion’s body.

The party, stunned, hurried north towards Fallcrest, retreating into the woods when they approached the town. Spending a day to raise Gwydion, they found their attempts to do the same with Thurmina rebuffed. The party was in a somber mood; Gwydion, normally far more verbose than the party desired, was withdrawn and quiet. The toll of his passing and return had left him with a virulent cough.

The party headed for Gardmore. Happily, they discovered the refugees were lead there by Nerath, Ghesh’s father. A gruff, but heartfelt reunion between the dragonborn kin. Lady Marquelhay was also found, and to the party’s surprise it was revealed that she had arcane powers; she used them to affect her escape from Fallcrest.

News was exchanged. Re-energized, the party worked out a strategy to infiltrate Fallcrest, and question Silvoth and Camroth. However, at the entrance to the caves under the city, they encountered the cryptic witch Melissa. Much to Asha’s surprise, Melissa recognized her—not as Asha, but as Galad, Asha’s previous incarnation and hero of Fallcrest, whose memories were tormenting the Deva.

Melissa told the party she believed she knew where Marquelhay was being kept. She guided them away from Fallcrest, to the northwest. The party covered an incredible amount of distance in a short time; their speed was clearly magically enhanced. Melissa would give no explanation, however. She showed them a long abandoned owlbear cave; the party camped for the evening.

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Session 24

Capitalizing on the time Bok had bought for them, the party decided to head back to Menzoberenzan. En route they encountered King Thrombolg. He seemed impressed, or perhaps just entertained, by the party and decided to help them. With no apparent effort, the king’s bodyguard killed Sulra and gave the party the fee they were promised for their attack on the duergar. He also gave them a magical map that he claimed would lead them out of the Underdark.

The map lead the party through a series of dangerous passages culminating in a sealed chamber warded by a powerful and malicious artifact. Protected by his friends, Gwydion managed to engage and overcome the artifact – destroying it and opening the doors.

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Session 23

After getting attacked by shadow hounds, the party decided to fall back and regroup before continuing their assault. After resting they encountered a small group of duergar slavers whom they managed to defeat. One of the slaves proved resourceful and brave and agreed to join the party for their assault on the duergar fortress.

After a series of difficult battles, Kord’s Deliverance managed to defeat the duergar Forgemaster and obtain another of the powerful shards. In doing so, however, they also destroyed the fortress and were nearly crushed as it collapsed. Though they managed to escape from the collapsing fortress, they ran directly into a group of at least a dozen duergar returning to see their home being destroyed.

In an act of epic self-sacrifice, Bokamaki slammed shut the fortress’ portcullis and held off the duergar – allowing the rest of party to escape.

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Session 22

After even more debate and a heated conflict between Bok and Morgan, the party accepted a contract from House Obaskyr to attack a duergar outpost the drow consider to be violating their territory.

Kord’s Deliverance encountered a small duergar patrol and got a taste of how difficult their task might be.

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Session 21

After defeating a hideous mutated beast, the party was approached by Sulra Obaskyr (the drow noble they rescued under the bluffs). He invited the party to visit his city – an offer they accepted after considerable debate.

While in Menzoberenzan the party acquired some interesting magical items and, perhaps even more valuable, a ritual for turning stone into glass.

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