Legends and Lore

Winterhaven & Beyond (Episode 35)

Having finally purified the Temple of Gardmore Abbey the companions now found themselves on the trek to Winterhaven, where Sir Oakley invited them in order to collect their reward. It was over these several days of travel that the group noticed numerous plumes of smoke over the northern horizon. More than one in the group feared the worst, the large fires of an approaching army?! It had been many months since the group had any sort of contact with the Queen’s Army, and if the groups suspicions proved true, it showed that the armies progress was now becoming a threat to much of the known world.

Winterhaven finally appeared on the horizon the next day. It was smaller than most expected, but seemed well protected with a large curtain wall skirting around it’s perimeter. The village was made up of approximately two-hundred people, many of which worked the lands outside the protective walls. It was at a small temple inside those same walls that Sir Oakley led the group of travelers. This was where the Paladin of Bahamut lived in a small and modest room. Once inside he pulled out a chest from under his bed, and revealed numerous bags supposedly filled with coin. Carefully the paladin then pulled out five sacks, each containing four-hundered golden coins. But Fin refused to accept the reward, deciding that Sir Oakley’s agreement to join his newly founded Order of the Platinum Crest was payment enough. Sir Oakley was Fin’s first recruit for the new organization.

During the groups stay in Winterhaven fear began to mount as the smoke over the horizon continued to edge ever closer. It was under these ominous signs that the companions urged Lord Dunmore of Winterhaven to evacuate the city and head westward. After much deliberation the Lord of Winterhaven finally agreed to evacuate.

Eight days later the village of refugees, led by the trusted companions, arrived at Edgewood Hollow. Edgewood Hollow was a small coastal town built on the fishing and lumber industry. Thankfully the refugees were allowed to camp on the outer limits of the town, and safely inside the city walls. The refugees would soon head south along the coast, but planned to spend several days resting before heading out. Unfortunately the heroes would not be joining them as they had pressing business farther south, and now hoped to procure travel upon a sailing ship if at all possible. Thankfully with no smoke forming on the northern horizon, the companions received word that a ship was due at the docks the next day. It seemed to be a small stroke of luck, as the ship apparently dropped off supplies only a handful of times throughout the year.

Later that day the group also learned of an unidentified individual looking for a group of travelers fitting the companions descriptions. This mysterious individual had apparently talked to one of the townsfolk in a dark corner of the local tavern, but strangely remained hooded for the duration of the conversation. He reportedly had a husky voice, and a broad nose, but little else was known of the strange individual. Hearing this news Robyn immediately became alarmed, fearing that the assassin from Hommlet was now attempting to track him.

The next day the so called merchant ship arrived on schedule. Later that day after unloading its supplies on the docks the group finally had the opportunity to meet with the ships master, Captain Burgoyne. Right from the start it quickly became apparent that the captain was a no nonsense type of guy, as he engaged in little small talk, and instead cut right to the chase. Initially Captain Burgoyne seemed disinterested in taking on a group of passengers, requesting an obscene carrying fee of 1500 gold pieces up front. But when the companions accepted, as well as offering to carry out any duties that might need covering during the trip, the shocked captain quickly warmed to the idea with a smile of satisfaction. Fin then settled the specifics of the agreement with the ship’s master, before agreeing to meet back at the docks at first light the next morning.

At first light the next morning the group boarded the large sailing ship, but it quickly became clear that they were boarding more than a mere merchant vessel. Captain Burgoyne appeared nicely dressed, but others amongst the crew seemed more of the seedy type with dark leathery skin, and sheathed sabers at their side. Many were undoubtedly the product of many tough years on the high seas. Then as the ship set sail the companions quickly observed that the captain and his crew were all business, as no introductions were made, and everyone quickly went about their job with little notice of the crews new additions.

Over the first six days the ocean voyage took its toll on many of the companions, and more than a few found themselves afflicted with sea sickness. Thankfully however, each individual eventually found their sea legs. On the sixth day sails were spotted over the horizon to the west, but nothing more came of the situation. It wasn’t until the ninth night that something went amiss. It all began under the moonlit night as the vessel passed through a cluster of islands along the bend of the southern coast. It was under this eerily quiet night that strange lizard-like creatures climbed over the ships rails and assaulted those on night watch. The creatures had large fanned out spines along their backs, and carried long tridents for weapons. But it was their unusual leader that caught many of the crews attention. The amphibious creature appeared the same in many respects as the others, except that he had four arms and stood nearly twelve feet tall! As the battle was engaged the strange sea creatures held the advantage early on, and quickly disposed of two of the ships crewman, before much of the crew were able to respond. From there, the battle changed momentum numerous times with victory hanging in the balance. Then the swordmage, Altain, and the dwarf, Mongo, were both struck unconscious, and things seemed bleak at best. But thankfully the paladin Fin LaVie once again proved his worth when his prayers to Bahamut once again healed the companions grevious wounds. Finally, after a lengthy drawn out battle, the group gained the upper hand and disposed of the sahuagin raiders.

Two crew members were reported dead, and many knew the death toll could have been much worse. The ships crew referred to the amphibious creatures as sahuagin, or more commonly known as sea devils. Apparently the vile creatures were infamous for their heartless raids on vessels of the high seas, and ocean side communities throughout the world. The crew also explained that this ships survival was noteworthy, as few ever live to tell the tale of such an attack. A fact that was not lost on Captain Burgoyne, as he openly thanked the companion for their large part in the ships survival. It seemed the heroes had earned their keep, and over the next several days many amongst the crew began to warm towards the one time strangers.

The next morning the ship began to change course, navigating eastward around the southern tip of the continent. They were now entering the South Sea, and if the weather held, would enter the mysteriously dark waters of the Midnight Sea within five days. It was from these legendary waters that the heroes hoped to discover the sunken city of Vor Rukoth, and the ancient “Lost Scrolls” hidden within…

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Gardmore Village (Episode 34)

After resting the companions prepared to make their way down from Dragon’s Roost, in hopes of recovering the Brazier of Silver Fire. Sir Oakley believed that the item was most likely located in the ruined garrison near the base of the hill. In order to avoid detection inside Gardmore Village it was also suggested that the group skirt the outside of village’s curtain wall.

Once the heroes reached the ruined garrison they climbed the curtain wall in order to reach the buildings front entrance. At the top of the wall, one couldn’t help but notice the numerous bonfires that burned throughout the village streets, each large fire undoubtedly warming countless orc warriors that now inhabited the once abandoned village.

The ruined garrison lay shrouded in gloom. Thankfully no orcs were in the general vacinity, but neither were any of the numerous black ravens that normally nested in the area. It seemed to each to be some sort of strange omen, which soon became more ominous as the air near the garrison began to somehow grow heavy. There two massive wooden doors engraved with twin reliefs of rampant dragons stood closed. Each dragon bore two swords, one held aloft and one pointing downward. Above the door, an inscription read “Ever vigilant the dragon.” A vague black silhouette of an armored figure then suddenly materialized outside the door, accompanied by an otherworldly cold. Then the shadowy figure spoke, “Only the bearer of the lonely sword passes this way unharmed, Vandomar must open the seal.” Unaware of what these mysterious words meant the group attempted to gain passage by revealing several of the groups swords, but none seemed to work. Soon the shadowy figure faded from sight, and the companions were left to their own devices.

Finally the group decided to press forward, and attempted to open the doors. Suddenly an unnoticed glyph of warding exploded injuring many in the group with some strange sort of evil energy. Then upon entering the buildings interior the group found itself face to face with some sort of ape-like demon! Then three more dark silhouettes of armored warriors suddenly formed from the surrounding darkness. The group had once again found themselves fighting for survival, but once again thankfully prevailed.

Further inside the garrison the group discovered a large chest with two slots on each side. These appeared to be the exact size of a sword blade, so the group returned to the buildings entrance where three swords had been discovered in the hands of three knightly statues. But the fourth sword was missing from the fourth statues hands. The three swords were inserted into the slots of the chest, and with each insertion a faint click could be heard. Robyn was needed to pick the mechanism of the fourth slot however, and soon the final faint click followed. The group then opened the chest, only to find themselves blinded suddenly by a brilliant light emanating from inside the mysterious chest! A radiant burst of energy quickly followed injuring several of the companions before the radiant light slowly began to fade away. Inside the Brazier of Silver Fire was discovered, and underneath it six pearls, a priest’s silk vestment, and a silver pendand adorned with the holy symbol of Bahamut. The holy symbol seemingly blessed with Bahamut’s long lost presence!

Then Sir Oakley informed the group of their need to quickly return to the top of Dragon’s Roost to begin the purification ritual. He also informed the group that they would need to protect him from the evil spirits that would surely rise in an attempt to stop him.

Returning to the top of the temple grounds, Sir Oakley explained that he would need to perform the purification ritual amongst all four of the buildings at the top of Dragon’s Roost. He then began by raising his arms high in the air while beginning to intone the first words of the ritual. The air began to stir at the edge of the heroes senses, and as the air grew still wisps of shadow began to leach from the surrounding walls. This scene soon played out over the four remaining buildings as well, and with each new location the group fought off the spirits of shadow while offering words of encouragement to the entranced elderly paladin. Then with the final words of prayer, and a sudden attempt to posses Sir Oakley by the evil spirits, the paladin of Bahamut opened his eyes. The forces of good had pushed the darkness from the abbey, and heavy air that once occupied the room suddenly seemed easier to breath. Then without a word Sir Oakley walked towards a nearby pool, and pointed beneath the water. There lying on the bottom of the water was a torc inscribed with the symbol of Bahamut! Sir Oakley merely smiled, and then uttered the words, “a gift from Bahamut.” The elderly Paladin seemed closer to the goodly god than ever before, and his appreciation for Fin’s guidance and support seemed evident, as he walked by his trusted companion and patted him on the shoulder. There could be little doubt that one god had returned to the world of Sarsis, but many wondered what others might soon follow, or perhaps another was already here?…

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The Vaults (Episode 33)

After another restful sleep the companions once again prepared to leave the safe confines of their hidden chamber. It was only a short trek before they once again stood before the secret door and the mysterious sarcophagus that lay beyond in the secret burial chamber. Carefully the party entered the dark and dusty tomb. Shelves of dead could be seen along the walls of the chamber in the flickering torchlight. But it was the large sarcophagus at the chambers end that interested the party. The seal had obviously been broken, and the lid was moved slightly to the right leaving a slight crack along the edge. Then Sir Oakley suddenly recognized the tomb as that of Zarel, daughter of the founder of the abbey, Gardin the Hammer. It was then that Sir Oakley admitted that he too was a distant relative to this family bloodline. Further inspection of the tomb revealed reptilian scales that had apparently fallen from their owner. After some thought the group finally unwrapped the mystery of the tomb. It belonged to the female vampire the group had fought several days earlier. In that ensuing battle the female later turned into a half-vampire, half-snake, before finally falling in battle. This female vampire apparently worshipped Zehir making her a traitor to the abbey later in life, and in death. The fact that this individual was a descendant to Sir Oakley, as well as Gardin the Hammer, was a shock to all, including Sir Oakley.

It was now time to depart the catacombs of the abbey, the “Chalice of the Dragon” finally in their possession. Sir Oakley then led the group across the plateau to another building nearby called the “Hall of Glory”. The small building had partially collapsed. Rubble and other debris choked the inside. Faded frescoes decorated one wall, and a mass of webs cloaked what remained of the roof. There the group fought their way around several swarms of spiders, and two man-sized spiders that proved to have an incredible ability to jump long distances. From there the group moved toward the back of the building where they discovered a set of old wooden double doors. Once again Fin ignited his torch before the group began its decent. Below, a spacious chamber with a high vaulted ceiling was discovered. A wide hall to the left led to a gigantic pair of double doors plated with brass, and a narrower hallway on the wall opposite the stairs ended in a smaller set of doors. The walls were decorated with carvings of minotaur warriors and mystics set into arched niches flanked by decorative columns. The carvings were worn and some were broken beyond recognition, showing signs of great age, vandalism, or perhaps both. It was at that moment that the group suddenly realized that Rolen had gone missing, but after a short search the group proved unable to locate him. Nobody had seen him since they had descended down into the vaults, and nobody could be sure of exactly what had become of the half-elf.

The groups interest soon turned to the gigantic brass-plated double doors. Slowly the group pushed the huge doors open, revealing an enormous chamber glittering with flakes of gold leaf that still clung to reliefs of minotaurs and statues of human knights, all offering homage to a huge statue of a noble-looking dragon. The marble floor was adorned with elaborate designs that formed a path toward the dragon statue, accentuated by parallel lines of faceted stone columns. Each column was topped by a crystal section that gleamed brightly. A heap of treasure piled in one corner – where it formed the bed for a living dragon, its scales red as blood, and smoke trailing from its nostrils while it slept. Roughly a dozen kobolds also milled about the room. Four clad in armor that echoed their dragon patron. One, in robes, stood reverently beside the sleeping dragon. While the rest polished the treasure, or worked with picks in a rough-hewn tunnel at the far side of the hall.

Quickly the group stormed the premises, hoping to catch the unsuspecting enemy flat footed. But as they entered the robed figure standing near the dragon began releasing balls of fire from his staff, and then began attempting to wake the beast! Each companion knew that every few seconds would soon prove precious, for when the dragon awoke things would quickly change for the worse. Thankfully many of dog-like kobolds fell quickly however, and soon their numbers had dwindled allowing the group to focus upon the large dragon. But their was little time to react as the beast released its first blast of fiery breath upon several of the companions. Then a few short seconds later a second fiery blast! Many in the group were now badly burned.

Meanwhile, down the rough-hewn tunnel in the far corner of the chamber, a half-orc suddenly appeared. He wore shackles and chained upon his wrists and ankles, but that seemed to matter little, as he skillfully jumped and spun through the air knocking several kobolds unconscious.

As the group took notice of the prisoner, thoughts initially went to the half-orcs safety. But those worries were quickly put to rest when the group noted his apparent ability to handle himself on the field of battle. Attention then refocused to the pile of treasure, where the dragon now held the paladin, Fin, in its mouth! Then the beast once again began to inhale, before suddenly releasing another blast of its fiery breath. The paladins body now hung lifelessly from the jaws of the beast. But the dwarf, Mongo, refused to give up hope, and began yelling words of hope in the paladins general direction – all the while fighting to remain clear of the dragons deadly sharp claws. Amazingly Fin suddenly began to move, he was still alive! Motivated by this sudden moment of hope, the group began to move around their powerful enemy, and their attacks began to take their toll. The the dragon suddenly took flight, before landing in a more strategic location. Then another large inhalation could be heard before the red dragon suddenly released another blast of fire. Sir Oakley, Altain, and the half-orc were suddenly engulfed in the deadly flames! Then as quickly as the fire came, it diminished, but what remained stole the hearts of even the most battle hardened warriors. All three individuals lay motionless, their bodies blackened by the intense heat of the fire. Things had taken a turn for the worse, and more than one combatant was more than likely beginning to contemplate an escape route just in case. But the remaining companions continued to battle, refusing to leave their fallen companions for dead. Fin too was near deaths door, as he continued to struggle to free himself from the dragon’s deadly jaws. Then just as it was beginning to appear as though all hope might soon be lost, a dagger suddenly appeared from behind a nearby column, spinning through the air end over end. With a mighty roar, the red dragon began to waver, as the dagger dug deeply into the creatures neck, apparently finding a weak spot between the mighty creature’s scales. Then the creature suddenly collapsed! Fin, last seen flailing about in the dragon’s powerful jaws, had suddenly disappeared from sight. Underneath the large beast, the remaining companions found Fin bruised, battered, and bloodied, yet still moving. The paladin had somehow managed to survive not only the fall, but also avoided becoming impaled upon one of the dragon’s teeth as well.

As the battlefield fell silent, Robyn stepped out from behind a nearby pillar, dagger in hand and a grin of satisfaction etched upon his face. The rogue rarely faced an enemy face to face, yet seemed to show a knack for finishing off an enemy on more than one occasion. After tending to the fallen, the group began to make their way towards the heaps of gold coins that filled the chambers southwest corner. Mixed amongst these coins could be seen hilts of numerous weapons, a plain helm, and leather armor that appeared to be made of gold coins!? But it was the “Silver Chalice of the Dragon” that caught Sir Oakley’s attention. It was the second item the group needed to perform the purification ritual, leaving only the “Brazier of Silver Fire” to be discovered. The group could only hope that their quest was nearing its end.

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Crimson Crystals (Episode 32)

Refreshed, the group headed out from the safe confines of the hidden chamber. Exiting the southeastern doors, the group found a small ten-foot entryway with a dusty curtain composed of dozens of chromatic dragonscales blocking the groups view of the corridor heading east. Beyond the curtain lay a chamber containing four more sarcophagi. Emanciated undead creatures stalked among them, their flesh pulled tightly over their bones. The group moved through the heavy curtain hoping to get a jump on the undead ghasts, but as it turned out these gaunt undead would be the least of the groups problems. Once engaged with the ghasts the group soon spotted several creatures of shadow rising from the four sarcophagi! Two of them resembled dark whirlwinds with flashes of purple lightning coursing through them, while the other two appeared as cloaked shadowy figures. The companions immediately recognized both to be some sort of wraiths, shadowy undead with a hatred for all forms of life. Thankfully the group was able to quickly dispose of the ghasts, but the insubstantial wraiths proved much more difficult as many of the groups attacks seemed to pass through the incorporal enemies with minimal affect. Finally the group prevailed however, even though the shadowy figures often proved difficult to engage due to their ability to suddenly phase from sight, only to reappear in another location of the room. Then upon defeating the angry spirits, a release of necrotic energy was released upon the group.

It was during this first encounter of the day that the group witnessed an unexpected event. Late in the battle Rolen and Altain had fallen unconscious, and the group appeared on the brink of defeat, when Sir Oakley stepped forward to assist the nearest companion, Rolen. But as he looked over the unconscious half-elf he suddenly felt an urge to pray. The paladin then recalled the prayer Fin had taught him several days earlier, and began to recite the prayer in reverence to Bahamut. Astoundingly Rolen’s wounds began to mend before the companion’s eyes! Sir Oakley was only the second man in hundreds of years to show an ability to heal, and surprise was evident in the paladin’s eyes. But as this miracle took place, the expression soon turned to shock as Sir Oakley suddenly recoiled. After the battle the paladin was asked why he had reacted in this strange manner, but the man said little. Instead nodding towards Rolen for further explanation. Rolen then slowly lowered the hood of his cloak to reveal a horrific sight. Nearly half his body was covered with crystal-like growths with veins of liquid silver flecked with gold specks! A look of fear and regret covered the poor half-elf’s face. Whatever was infecting, or cursing Rolen was unlike anything the group had ever heard of or seen.

During a short rest the group inspected the burial chamber carefully, discovering small amounts of mortar and dust scattered around each of the four sarcophagi, a sign that each seal had obviously been broken. But the group was still uncomfortable with opening these sacred resting places of knight’s from a bygone era. Cautiously, the group then headed through yet another curtain of dragonscales, located in the chambers southwest corner. A thick coating of moss could be seen covering four more sarcophagi in this chamber. A mass of thick, fibrous roots hung down from a ceiling rife with wide cracks. The far wall seemed to be covered with an elaborate mosaic, but it was hard to determine the subject through the slick green growth that covered it. Short passageways on either side of the mosaic lead to another chamber set with shadowed alcoves. A dim light could be seen softly glowing from its depths. It was this chamber that would soon prove discomforting to many, as Rot Scarab swarms spilled forth from an open sarcophagus, as well as one of the water puddles that dotted the chamber floor nearby. Shambling mummies also roamed this moss covered chamber, and upon spotting the group’s torch light, began shuffling towards the intruders. But as the group filed through the entrance the rogue, Robyn, acted with caution. His concern seemed to be the dim light emanating from the rear alcoves of the chamber, and his reservations about the situation soon proved worthy as the group was suddenly engulfed in a fireball! The culprit was soon discovered to be hiding in a cluster of roots hovering above the floor at the far end of the chamber. There, a floating skull engulfed in a greenish-flame was discovered. The groups cautious entrance had prevented a total disaster, and soon all three enemies lay motionless on the damp cold floor.

As the group inspected the ruined chamber a sense of necrotic energy could be felt emanating from an open sarcophagus, a reminder of the evil that now seemed to permeate the entire premisis. The mosaic covering the rectangular pillar on the eastern end of the chamber was then cleaned of moss. Fin began studying it for any clues that might be had, but it seemed only to tell the story of the abbey’s history. Then a surprising discovery was made in the alcoves at the back of the damp chamber. A secret door blended seamlessly with the stone wall surrounding it, a small fingerhold providing the only clue of the hidden chamber beyond. A large sarcophagus was discovered within the hidden chamber, but the group made the quick decision to not investigate since the group was in need of a good nights rest.

But before returning to the groups resting place in the secret chamber discovered the previous day, the group decided to return to the chamber in which they had previously fought the shadowy wraiths. Passing beyond the dragonscale curtains the group began to inspect the unsealed sarcophagi within the chamber. It was then that the group discovered that all four sarcophagi were missing the bodies once entombed there! Where they had gone none could be sure, but the northeast sarcophagus did contain one item of interest – the Bowl of Io’s Blood. It was an item that the paladin Sir Oakley immediately recognized. He had no idea of why it was located there, but had little doubt that it had been moved there only recently. The group then returned to their hidden chamber for what they hoped would prove to be another restless night. They now possessed one of the three religious relics needed to remove the evil now permeating Gardmore Abbey.

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The Catacombs II (Episode 31)

When it was time to move onward the companions decided to take the far northeastern door. Beyond, an enormous chamber was discovered, a mansion for the dead knights of the abbey. From where they stood the group could see at least a half a dozen stone sarcophagi arrayed around the shadow-draped chamber, and others most likely sitting in the darkness deeper within. A strange reddish glow tinged the shadows, apparently emanating from something near the wall to their right, and in it several dark figures could be seen moving stealthily toward the group. Five quiet humanoid creatures could be counted, and the sound of rattling chainmail could be heard emanating from the rear of the hall. Something heavy was dragging across the floor nearby but seemed just out of sight. The companions quickly moved into the great hall, moving to defensible positions around the nearest sarcophagi. It wasn’t long before the group recognized what appeared to be some sort of zombies closing fast, but perhaps too fast? Shortly after that initial impression some began to recognize their mistake when long canine fangs became apparent as each of the five figures lunged towards their prey. Vampires! But this first wave soon proved to be more of a scare than a threat, as each fell where they stood when struck.

As this initial attack took place, an unexpected creature appeared from behind a distant pillar. A six-legged reptilian creature unlike anything the group had ever seen. But what really stood out was the creatures intense gaze, eyes glowing an almost florescent green. It was these eyes that proved most dangerous as one quickly became ill from just the creature’s simple stare! And if this gaze was not dangerous enough, its razor sharp teeth appeared capable of severing a man’s arm with one simple bite!

Soon after the six-legged reptilian lizard appeared two more figure were noted standing at the northern end of the massive tomb. One wore a black cape and seemed very pale, and the other a bald man wearing chainmail armor under dark purple robes, and a mace in his right hand. The pale man was believed to be a vampire, but his strange reptilian tongue flicked in and out of the man’s mouth at random intervals leaving each companion wondering about his true nature. The strange man also seemed to have the ability to charm an individual, allowing him to draw his victim closer while clouding their thoughts. It wasn’t until the battle neared its end that the man’s secrets finally revealed themselves – suddenly transforming into a large humanoid snake with a tough hide and increased quickness.

Meanwhile, the man wearing the purple robes rushed into melee as the battle continued to be waged. He seemed crazed, and his bloodlust was more than evident as he howled madly during battle. This mad howl was ear piercing, and often left one with an immense skull splitting headache, and the inability to move! The battle proved to be more difficult than first expected, but once again the companions banded together.

The snaketongue vampire was a worthy adversary, but the crazed man cloaked in purple robes proved to be the better of the two. It was on this individual that the group discovered a spiral holy symbol around the man’s neck. It was the ancient symbol of Tharizdun, or the elder elemental eye. Others once knew him as the chained god, and his followers were known to be a crazed cult. But the paladin, Fin, also knew that this god had supposedly vanished long ago with many of the others. Perhaps the man was a lone zealot, or perhaps he was a member of a larger group? It was the first such individual the group had met, and none could know for certain whether or not there would be others?

Following the battle in the massive chamber the group decided to rest while checking out the premises. Upon the Tharizdun worshipper three more cards were discovered: the jester, talons, and flames. Along the eastern wall an alter was discovered bathed in a red glow, and near the alter a bag of gold coins on the chamber floor. Upon closer inspection of the alter a viscous liquid was found pooling around the feet of a platinum dragon icon. It was pale red in color, with streaks of silver, and flecks of gold mixed within. Rolen moved up to inspect the substance closer, and then touched it with his dagger. It was then that the unexpected occurred, as the strange substance began moving up the dagger and began to flow over Rolen’s flesh! Then it began to seep into his pores as though it was being absorbed!! Rolen began flailing about in an attempt to free himself of the substance, but to no avail. Panic began to permeate throughout the group, as others tried to assist their new companion. Finally Fin managed to calm Rolen enough to successfully scrape the substance from his flesh, and then quickly flicked his dagger in order to remove the substance from his weapon. The strange silvery-red substance seemed able to spread quickly, and each member shivered with dread at the mere thought of what the substance might be capable of, especially if left to entirely envelope an individual. Rolen, having nearly been a victim of the red liquid, decided to take a sample of the substance using a small flask. The maneuver required a quick and steady hand, but the transfer was a success. Many wondered why mess around with the dangerous liquid, but Rolen seemed to think that the substance might prove useful in the future.

It was also during further inspection of the great chamber that the northwestern corner was found to contain a statue of Bahamut in the form of a human knight wearing plate armor. It was there that Fin LaVie noted that he could sense his god’s power. Another item of interest stood near this statue, in the far northwester corner of the chamber, a sarcophagus. Sir Oakley was the first to note that the name etched in the stone was in fact the resting place of the founder of the abbey, Gardin the Hammer.

It was after this short rest that the group decided to return to the recently discovered secret chamber. With the unusual mosaic of Bahamut as a dracolich watching over them, the companions settled in for a good nights rest.

The next morning the group awoke unusually refreshed. The two paladins of Bahamut, Fin LaVie and Sir Oakley, felt that the group had been blessed that night by a higher power. It seemed a good omen for the upcoming day… (each player starts this day with 5 temporary hit points!)

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The Catacombs (Episode 30)

The next morning the group descended the dark staircase. From somewhere ahead the barely audible sound of chanting could be heard, apparently a liturgy to Bahamut. The group continued carefully down the stairs where they discovered a large chamber. Four sarcophagi, one open, stood in the outer portion of the irregularly shaped room. Beyond, a few armored humans knelt in worship before an ornate alter decorated with twin rearing dragon heads. A soft light emanated from the alter, bathing the worshipers in a halo of gold. Unsure of exactly what was going on, or who these individuals might be, the group proceeded with caution. The group decided to engage the mysterious knights in conversation, but their responses were a bit stiff as the lead knight seemed very informal, an oddity to both Fin and Sir Oakley. It was under this pretense of caution that the group suddenly found themselves under attack. The heroes were unsure of exactly why the attack had occurred but had little time to ponder the question. Soon however the questions were answered as the knights were discovered to actually be hovering slightly above the stone floor! Then a few short seconds later their long hair lashed out, draining several of the companions of their living essence, before the knights turned incorporeal! These were obviously not knights, but in fact a ghostly entity known as a pale reaver. Shocked by the sudden turn of events the group was forced to rely on their finely tuned instincts to react. At times several heroes seemed on the verge of collapse, most notably the dwarf, Mongo. While others seemed under their enemies ghostly possession at times, yet once again the companions eventually prevailed.

After a thorough search of the premises it was finally decided that the group should press onward, despite Robyn Graives’ objections that they had failed to check any of the unopened sarcophagi inside the chamber.

The group decided to exit the chamber through the northern doors next to the strange twin-dragon headed alter. In the next chamber two ornately carved sarcophagi occupied one side of the room. Past them, a font jutting from the opposite wall could be seen bubbling with clean, clear water. Then a clattering of bones suddenly filled the chamber, skeletons attacked! The chamber was quite dark, and only the faint silhouettes of the enemies fleshless form could be seen at the onset of the conflict. Then the battleground was suddenly ignited with light as a ball of flame struck from the groups right flank, suddenly exploding from an unnoticed enemy, a blazing skeleton wreathed in flames! Then more clattering of bones, as two more skeletons moved into the area from other unseen positions within the chamber. But these skeletons were unlike any known to exist, as both wielded four scimitars, one for each of it’s four arms! Thankfully the companions acted quickly however, and created a defensive perimeter at the chamber’s doors which prevented the enemy from surrounding the group. The battle that ensued proved less bloody than the one before, but still left the group with extensive injuries that required immediate care.

It was during the short rest following this battle that the group discovered a secret door leading to a hidden chamber. A striking mosaic, its colors still stark despite the passage of years, covered the wall of the square chamber. The mosaic depicted Bahamut as a dracolich, but there was little evidence of exactly why. Each of the other three walls held a door like the one the group had entered, most likely hidden from the other side. Three sets of gleaming plate mail lay sprawled on the floor, each containing a set of bleached bones. Swords lay beside the skeletons, still sheathed and attached to their half-rotted leather belts. It was in the midst of a small pile of bones that must have been a hand, that the group spotted a glint of yellow. It was three topaz gems, and by the looks of them ones of significant value. Further investigation led the group to the conclusion that the three knights had most likely starved, but why? Were they hiding? From what? Once again there seemed to be only more questions, and few answers.

After a short rest the group decided to press onward, delving deeper into the catacombs…

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The Sacred Vessels (Episode 29)

During the group short stay they continued to mill about the keep, and it was during this time that another unexpected discovery was made. A card was found tucked into one of the cushions of the throne. The card was that of a knight in plate armor, but all the group knew is that it apparently belonged to a set. They knew this due to the fact that they had discovered two other cards on the orc chieftain’s body. These two cards contained a skull on one, and a gem on the other. Three cards that most likely belonged to a larger set, but why were they spread about in such random locations? Then the knight, Sir Oakley, asked to see the cards. A curious look fell upon the older man’s face as he studied each, before handing them back.

Time continued to pass when Sir Oakley began to tell the group of a secret stairway that could lead the group to the top of the hill, and telling the companions that it was well hidden but would most likely provide the group a safe route to the temple above. Finally after a short deliberation the group followed the white haired knight outside the village walls to the western cliffs. There, hidden amongst the tangled brush but very well hidden, was indeed a stairway carved into the sides of the steep embankment.

At the top of the hill stood several buildings which made up the temple’s complex, but Sir Oakley had his sights set on one in particular. The once-grand temple which stood at the pinnacle of the abbey’s hill, and was now reduced to crumbling ruins. Though the roof was half collapsed and the building was blackened with soot and decay, some hint of its ancient grandeur still shone through the abbey’s great temple. Mighty columns rose into the shadows beneath the crumbling roof, lifting the eye toward the heavens. Smaller pillars of graceful shape and elegant decoration hinted at the temple’s lost beauty. Altars to several ancient gods surrounded a towering statue of Bahamut, depicted as a human knight in armor. But as the group took in the sights of the massive temple a croaking voice suddenly called out from overhead, “all faithful of Bahamut, come and pay him worship!” A flutter of feathers then drew the groups eyes toward two wretched shapes, like hideous women with wings and talons, draped in bloodied holy vestments. Many in the group quickly recognized that the creatures known as harpies were obviously insane, and their mockery of Bahamut surely did not sit well with either Fin or Sir Oakley, both Paladin’s of Bahamut. The harpies immediately began to sing drawing several companions into the temple before three angels suddenly appeared, and then suddenly attacked. The battle was on, and many in the group began to wonder what strange magic, or curse, was at work here? Why were angels attacking them? Who were these harpies and why did they seem to worship Bahamut yet attack a group containing obvious worshippers of the same god? There was only one obvious answer, they must all be insane! It was the only explanation the group could come up with, and there was little time for any further discussions on the subject. The battle was hotly contested by both sides, but the companions soon proved the better.

Badly injured, the group decided that it would be best to make camp in hopes of recovering from the draining encounter. A thorough search of the premises revealed a series of alters in niches on the side walls, and an alter at the north end of the temple that was dedicated to Bahamut. It was this latter alter, the alter to Bahamut, that Fin began to approach when he suddenly felt a sudden rush of divine energy course over him. It was a rush like none he had ever experienced before, and it filled him with a renewed hope for the future.

Further inspection of the premises revealed nests in the far northeast corridor of rooms, where the harpies had apparently embedded thousands of gold pieces into the walls of several rooms. This created a shimmering affect when light was introduced into the darkness, making the walls appear as if they were made of gold. To the southeast of that very same corridor a stairwell was discovered descending into the darkness below… each had an eerie feeling it most likely lead to the temple’s catacombs. But with the heroes current condition the group decided that further investigation would have to wait, it was time to settle in for the night. Meanwhile in the main chamber another card was discovered hidden in a secret compartment on Bahamut’s alter, it was the card of “Fates”.

Before the group set in for a good nights rest Sir Oakley hoped to perform his ritual of purification inside the temple, even though the religious vessels he need were nowhere to be found. The vessels had apparently gone missing over the many long years. The knight explained that he needed the sacred vessels to perform the ritual, but now hoped that perhaps they might not be needed. Soon however he discovered otherwise as the ritual failed. Then Fin and Sir Oakley went to a quiet chamber nearby where the knight explained the ritual to Fin, in the hopes that “The Chosen One” might fare better with the ritual. In return Fin explained his divine ability to heal in order to quench the knight’s curiosity. Then the two returned to the temple’s large chamber to have Fin perform the purification ritual, but once again the ritual failed.

That night the group was startled awake by Sir Oakley’s loud voice, but upon waking the group discovered that the knight was in some sort of strange trance. It appeared to be some sort of dream-like state in which Sir Oakley seemed unaware of his surroundings. Then the knight began blinking rapidly as he suddenly came to, and then realized that the others were looking strangely at him. After collecting himself Sir Oakley began to tell the companions of the visions he had experienced, and how he now believed that he knew the locations of the three sacred vessels! Why, or how, he could not be certain, but there was little doubt in Sir Oakley’s mind that Bahamut had more than a little to do with the sudden revelations. The Brazier of Silver Fire was apparently in the ruined village garrison, the Chalice of the Dragon was amongst a hoard in the vaults, and the Bowl of Io’s Blood was to be located in the temple’s catacombs. Unsure of what to make of the sudden visions, the group decided to continue their rest. They agreed that the next morning they would delve into the catacombs below, where they hoped to discover whether or not the knight’s visions held any merit…

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Answered Prayers (Episode 28)

It was during the group’s departure from Gardmore Village that Mongo and Robyn learned the name of the half-elf that now accompanied them. His name was Rolen, but they had little time to learn more about the half-elf as it was imperative that they get a safe distance away from the orc encampments. A short time later the three began to set up camp, taking care to make their unconscious companions, Altain and Fin, as comfortable as possible. Then the unknown stranger, a white bearded man in ancient plate armor, was tended to as the three individuals looked upon the mysterious knight with more than just a little curiosity. Who was he? Where did he come from? Not to mention his impeccable timing! Nothing was known of the knight, except that he had saved many of their lives while nearly giving his own.

Thankfully the night passed uneventfully, affording the group an opportunity to recover from the near-deadly previous evening. Early the next morning the group prepared to head out before the break of dawn, in the hopes of sneaking past the protective wall of Gardmore Village. The three companions most grievously injured had regained consciousness, and many had questions reguarding exactly what had taken place the previous day. It was during this exchange that the group thanked Sir Oakley for his heroic rescue of the party during their most dire moment. Sir Oakley returned the show of gratitude in kind, realizing he too would have paid the ultimate price without assistance. It was then that Sir Oakley began to share his story, which included a dream of the abbey grounds and being beckoned there for some unknown reason. Then upon arriving, hearing the ring of steel as a battle was waged somewhere nearby. Before happening upon the dire situation inside the keeps entrance, and realizing the group’s near hopeless situation. But even more shocking to the knight was when he was suddenly enveloped in a blue-white light, which seemed to somehow revive the unconscious dwarf, Mongo! Sir Oakley couldn’t explain any of it, and could only offer an explanation of a higher calling. It was then that Fin began to explain his story, and that true healing of the gods was in fact truth. Sir Oakley was obviously stunned by this unexpected revelation, as well as Fin’s proclamation that he was the “Chosen One”.

Sir Oakley could hardly believe what he had learned over the last few minutes of conversation. Suddenly the events surrounding these unexpected companions seemed much greater than themselves. Something much larger than any of them was obviously manifesting throughout the world, and would surely carry repercussions far and wide. It was then that Sir Oakley made the decision to confide in the others, and asked if they might be able to help him cleanse the abbey of the evil inside the temple at the top of the hill? He needed the group to escort him to Dragon’s Roost at the highest point of the abbey. There he planned to perform a ritual of purification but needed the groups protection to complete the ritual. Thankfully the group agreed to help.

A short while later the group once again fought their way through the gatehouse, before once again making their way to Gardmore Keep. Blood still stained the stone floor of the keep, but the bodies of dead were now stacked outside the large double doors. Inside orc bowmen occupied the balcony overlooking the large feast hall. The group quickly disposed of the orc archers before making their way to the doors at the top of the balcony. It was the area that the group had last seen the orc shaman the previous day, and many felt certain that their enemy stood somewhere beyond those very doors.

Alcoves lined the walls of the dark hall, each one holding crossed weapons and a shield like those in the galleries outside. More rubble choked the floor, and a gaping hole opened to the lower level of the keep. A great throne stood at the far end, a majestic piece of furniture that now bared savage ornamentations of bone, fur, and horn. A fierce-looking male orc reclined upon the throne, his yellow eyes fixed on the companions. A female orc beside him smiled cruelly, hefting a stone maul as four other orc warriors advanced. Then the male orc upon the throne spoke sternly, “don’t kill them yet, I want to hear them plead for their pathetic lives!” But that only incited the companions, as they quickly charged headlong into battle.

As the battle waged it wasn’t long before the orc shaman made his presence known, as he suddenly appeared from behind the throne. But this battle soon proved to be unlike the previous day, as the companions made quick work of the orc chieftain and his followers. Following the battle the group found strange fist-sized stones upon the female orc, and another upon the orc chieftain. Each stone bore dwarven runes that translated into the common tongue as “Speak”, the companions recognized them as enchanted sending stones. Further search of the premises also revealed a locked chest behind the throne, which a key was found for on the orc chieftain. Inside a silver-plated longsword was found buried amongst a pile of gold coins, and at the bottom of the chest lay three tiny jade statuettes and a gold necklace. Sir Oakley showed little interest in the find, but was offered the silver-plated sword in appreciation anyway. He kindly accepted the offer, but also seemed anxious to push onward, apparently hoping to make his way to the temple atop Dragon’s Roost.

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Gardmore Abbey (Episode 27)

Robyn entered the great hall in an attempt to negotiate passage from the orc shaman standing upon the far balcony. But his words came off as a desperate plea of greed, and soon many of his companions realized the need to close the chamber doors or else risk being flanked by the ettin guard. Slowly they moved inside the chamber before the dwarf, Mongo, quickly moved to drop the bar locking the massive wooden doors.

It was then, with anger in his eyes, that the orc shaman gave the order to attack. The two orc guards at the far end of the chamber quickly mounted their dire wolves and charged the companions, while the other two orcs near the doorway flanked the group as quickly as possible. The companions soon realized they were pinned down with little room to maneuver, but fought valiantly in the early going in an attempt to improve their position. It was during these early exchanges that Robyn’s dagger began to softly vibrate before cutting a large gash in one of the nearby orcs. Robyn was stunned at how easily the weapon sliced through the orc, and he instantly knew the enchanted blade was growing in power. Meanwhile, the orc shaman above began to chant loudly, releasing a whirlwind upon the battlefield. The high winds blew some back, while others fell prone before their enemy, and things seemed to continually grow worse by the second. Then the groups worst fears were realized when the large ettin outside the chamber doors began to bash his large club against the barred wooden barrier. A few short seconds later the doors shattered, sending spinters of wood flying in all directions, and the giant ettin began violently swinging its large clubs at the unwelcomed intruders.

Finally two companions broke from the pile. Robyn made his way under the massive table at the rooms center looking for cover, while Fin pressed the attack on one of the orc guards pushing him back underneath the balcony. The shaman acted quickly and released an arc of lightening that leapt from the orc’s outstretched hand to the paladin below, and then to the rogue hiding beneath the nearby table. Seeing this, Altain knew someone had to get at the shaman and as quickly as was possible. The eladrin moved swiftly before suddenly vanishing from sight, only to reappear a few short seconds later right next to the unsuspecting shaman! Altain struck the shaman with several significant blows before the shaman suddenly took to the air. Flying to the main floor below the orc leader too aim at the rogue, Robyn, taking cover beneath the table. One again lightening shot from the shaman’s fingers, but this time the rogue narrowly escaped the electical strike. Altain moved down the spiral stairs in an attempt to once again close on the shaman, only to witness the orc flying back to the balcony above once again before disappearing through a pair of doors at the top of the balcony. No one dared give chase.

Down below, on the main level of the great hall, a fierce battle continued to be waged. Then an unexpected ally arrived from the exterior courtyard. It was a half-elf warlock, and he now took aim at the at the companions enemies through the wood splintered doorway. But even this assistance seemed of little significance, as the heroes injuries continued to mount. Finally Fin fell from his grievous wounds. Shortly after Altain and Mongo fell from their wounds as well. With three companions now unconscious the half-elf began toretreat from the melee. Robyn, recognizing the hopeless situation, also bolted through the door into the dark courtyard beyond.

All hope seemed lost when a older man with white hair and a beard suddenly appeared from the darkness. Quickly he stepped into the entryway and began to fight off Fin and Altain’s attackers. Then he leaned over to check on Mongo’s lifeless body when a sudden flare of radiant blue light enveloped the dwarf, and he fallen heroe’s eyes suddenly opened! Fearful of being knocked unconscious once again, the dwarf struggled internally whether to get up or feign still dying. Slowly he moved to check upon the fallen paladin, Fin, and did his best to stabilize his fallen comrade. Mongo then noted the knight standing above him, and the blood now pooling at his feet. The dwarf needed to act fast, before any little hope that was left was lost. But he was too late, as the ettin struck the knight with a massive blow from his large club. The knight’s knees buckled, and the unknown hero collapsed. Anger filled Mongo, and he charged the ettin as quickly as his short legs would allow. With little thought, the dwarf embedded his axe deeply into one of the two-headed giant’s skulls, felling the strange creature.

Two dead dire wolves, four orcs, and one two-headed giant now lay near the great halls entrance. Mongo stood alone inside the keep, realizing his good fortune to be standing amongst the carnage. There was little time to ponder however, as the dwarf moved to stabilize the unknown knight, as well as his eladrin companion Altain. Then as he continued to comb over the battlefield he noted the footfall from the courtyard outside of the keep. It was Robyn, and another unknown individual, a half-elf. Their was little time to exchange pleasantries however, so the group decided to carry their unconscious companions from the keep as quickly as possible, and then made their way from the ruins of Gardmore Abbey and the nearby village walls. There they tended to their wound, and wrestled with the near disaster that had just taken place.

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A Mysterious Journey (Episode 26)

After meeting with the sage in Hommlet the companions began to once again make their way westward. Tordariche Nem had told the group of a small town to the west of the Feywood Forest called Winterhaven. It was there that the group hoped to discover whether passage upon a ship could be obtained there, or anywhere nearby in a coastal town? Tordariche had made it clear that the group was to be on the lookout for a mountain range to the southwest, and to skirt to the northwest in order to locate this place called Winterhaven. It was ten days into this lengthy trek, while skirting these very mountains, that the group spotted the ruins of a small village behind an ancient curtain wall. Above the wall and village ruins a caved-in temple could be seen standing upon a nearby hilltop. To the west and south the curtain wall ended abruptly, as the steep hillside created a natural barrier of protection. In the shadow of this wall the ruins of Gardmore Village could be seen standing like lines of broken teeth. Among the sagging roofs and toppled wrecks of houses, throngs of savage orcs made camp in filthy tents clustered around small, smoking fires.

The companions knew they needed to keep a low profile, or risk being set upon by what appeared to be hundreds of orcs. The gatehouse was then chosen as the groups point of entry. If all went well the group hoped to enter the gatehouse, defeat what they hoped to be a limited number of orc guards, and then make their way along the shadows of the interior curtain wall until they reached the tangled expanse of forest that covered the southern end of the village. Luckily their plan played out as they had hoped, as four orc guards met the group inside a raised portcullis. But there was one large surprise, as a ten-foot tall ogre also guarded the interior gatehouse! This opponent was only the beginning of the unexpect twists however, as Robyn and Mongo suddenly found themselves seperated from the melee when the raised portcullis came crashing down behind Fin and Altain. Robyn and Mongo then found themselves assaulted by a barrage of arrows that came from the top of gatehouse towers. The battle turned out to be more challenging than originally expected, but eventually the group disposed of the occupants before raising any outside suspicions.

Once the group was reunited inside the gatehouse the group made its way along the shadows of the curtain wall. It was then that they spotted a deserted courtyard nearby. The large open space seemed the perfect place to pitch a tent, yet no orcs were present, but why? After a short discussion they decided to investigate. It wasn’t long before they noticed a pile of crates and barrels near a set of ten-foot tall double doors that lead to a large keep. But as they approached they spotted an enormous two-headed giant with its back against the doors to the ruined keep. The eyelids of one of its heads were half-closed, and it was picking its teeth with the grisly bone of a recent kill. Thoughts of once again ducking into the shadows ran through the heroes minds before they suddenly realized they had been spotted. The two-heading giant yawned, then asked for a password. Shocked by the sudden question the group paused as the ettin rose to its feet.

Then the head on the right spoke, “Just give ‘em the reminder Spike, so we can get back to our nappin’.”
“Fine Bruse,” Spike grunted, then recited the following riddle: “A box of white bones, never empty nor full, though it ever leaks treasure inside. It holds safe all you’ve got, unless you’re a sot, when its locks with wine may be plied,” Bruse said.
“Smash it in like an egg, but what do you know?” said Spike, “They’ll not find the treasure you hide.”
Fin and Altain exchanged worried glances, before Fin finally gave his answer – “a skull.” With that the ettin suddenly stepped aside, allowing the companions safe passage through the large, wooden, double doors and into the keep.

Inside lay what appeared to be a great feasting hall. Arched and columned galleries overlooked the entire area, the emblazoned shields of its mighty defenders lining the walls. Some were now missing, and others pierced by raven-fletched arrows, and yet others defaced by gobs of filth or scrawled graffiti. At the far end of this reeking chamber, two curving stairways rose to either side of a landing where the galleries met. An ornate door could be seen leading off from the landing. But all this was secondary to what stood before the stairway, two orcs armored in the piecemeal remnants of Gardmore’s former defenders, a crude mockery of the paladin’s solemnity. Beside them stood two dire wolves – steeds no doubt for the savage knights of the orc chieftain. Two more orc warriors stood at the ready only twenty-feet from where the companions now stood. An orc sporting thick dreadlocks beaded with humanoid finger bones could be seen leaning over the balustrade at the far end of the hall. He raised a totem capped with a human skull, and began barking orders…

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