Tears of Destruction

Entering the Zone of Corruption

Once the underwater maze had been navigated you hurriedly moved on, aware of the constantly damaging effects of the tears aura that you were experiencing. In the new room you discovered only one discernible feature, a door with a single stone button to press to open it.

You open the door which falls into a slot beneath the doorway. The door is solid stone, one foot think and the opening mechanism suggests that once opened there is no easy way of raising the door and closing it again.

With the door opened you immediately became aware that the necrotic energy level had risen and that you were now entering the Zone of Corruption, where Riley had concluded that the energy levels would be higher and that you would be much more likely to encounter undead and corrupted creatures.

You moved forward into the next room and were confronted with two more doors, one to your left and one to your left. You opened the right one with a noisy slam as the door dropped permanently downwards. You moved into the tunnel beyond, opened a second door and found a new room.

The room contained several pillars crackling with electrical energy and some ghouls and tomb motes within. With the backup of the guards you managed to dispatch them without too much trouble.

Moving into the room beyond you descend some steps and discovered a flooded room three foot deep in water. Blackjack entered the room and crossed it to the door on the opposite side. Once there he was suddenly attacked by an undead Aboleth.

A more substantial combat followed with Ragnar striking a telling blow that turned the tide (77 damage in a single blow at level 4!!!!).

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All Hell breaks loose

One moment you were standing on the raft, watching through gaps in the mist as the scenery slowly floated by.  The next moment the world seemed to lurch and it felt like you’d been smacked around the head by something, but without an actual impact point.

Everyone simultaneously staggered, all in slightly different directions, causing the raft to rock dangerously and some of the guards fell into the swamp water.

You regained your balance, took a moment to help the guards find their feet and get back on the raft then took a look around you and found that the world has changed…you had changed….something indescribable had changed.

Suddenly new thoughts and ideas began to occur to you.  You realised new ways of dealing with problems and challenges.  A dozen old memories flashed through your minds and you found it ludicrous that you acted in the way you did at the time….

Jack, you remembered the time there was a merchant who needed his horse re-shoeing and he overpaid you….why didn’t it occur to you that you could have not said anything and instead simply kept the money?

Mr Jingle, all the Scrumpy you’d been selling for Granny Smith over the years, you had hundreds of opportunities to skim some money off the sales and keep it for yourself, why didn’t you consider doing that at the time?

You all have similar thoughts over many old memories. You are pretty confident that you probably would still have acted the same as you did, but you’re left wondering why didn’t it even occur to you to be dishonest at the time….to exploit the weak…to hurt others….to put your own needs first.

All these new thoughts and ideas…..they felt like a part of you….they felt natural….not exactly nice but natural.  It was like you’d been seeing in black and white and suddenly things are now in colour.

One of the guards turned to another guard and said “You know, I think I’ve always hated you.  It’s nothing personal, it’s just the way you look.”  He then slamed a dagger into the other guards throat, leaped from the raft and swams for the shore.  He got about twenty metres before something drags him under the water never to be seen again.

Moments later the Prince spoke using the magical ring.

“Something just happened to us.  We’re not sure what it was but I’m guessing you guys felt it too.  It doesn’t change anything, we still have a mission to complete.  If anything, it makes our mission more important.  I’ve lost three men, one went crazy and attacked the others.  We had to kill him before he killed us.  We’re shaken but still here.”

Everyone nodded in grim agreement and determination. The guards steered the raft closer to your designated entrance to the temple. When you closed to within fifty feet the mist parted and revealed a number of undead wandering around it.

You took them on and defeated them convincingly. Zombie Halfling stone throwers and Humanoid Skinwalker Skeletons both fell under your precise blows. Two more guards were dealt mortal wounds but six guard and you guys all survived.

With the threat neutralised you approached the temple entrance. One guard insisted he didn’t have the nerve or stomach to continue and asked permission to stay behind and watch the rear / guard the raft. Everyone took pity on him and agreed.

Inside the temple entrance some steps descended into a small stone room and then further down into a flooded area. Jingle bravely headed into the water, being forced to be completely submerged and swim through an underwater maze of passageways.

He triggered a scything blade trap at one point and almost took a lung full of water when the wind was knocked out of him. With help from Blackjack though he just got to the surface before any damage was done.

Riley then had a turn and soon managed to navigate a way through the maze and discovered more stone steps leading up out of the water and into another small stone room at the other end. A single stone door was the only discerning feature but low moaning noises from undead could be heard not far away.

Riley was also aware that he was now closer to the tear of destruction. It’s aura was palpably stronger although he was sure that he was not yet in the zone of corruption.

Riley returned through the underwater passageway to his companions and begun to guide them through it to the other side.

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Into the Mistmarsh

Just as you are about to enter the celebration feast, a messenger arrives and presents Jack with a letter. He is asked to sign a piece of paper acknowledging receipt of the letter and then spends a few moments with a very confused look on his face whilst he reads the letter. His companions look at him quizzically but he suggests that it is something they can talk about later on….when he might have recalled more details from the previous evenings gambling adventures.

You were then escorted into a feasting hall where many well-dressed people were gathered eating and drinking. There were minstrels playing background music (lute, harp, drums and flute), servants wandering around the room offering drinks and food from trays, and an exotic dancer at one end of the room with several noble men stood watching and politely applauding occasionally.

The afternoon progresses with a pleasant atmosphere and plenty of food and drink. You talk with the King and various other nobles and royals, all of whom seem a little uncertain as to whom you are or why you are there. Most of the general folk seem oblivious to the current situation, the occasional person gives you a knowing nod of acknowledgement though or offers guarded words of thanks for your service.

Towards the end of the afternoon the King stands on a chair and makes a small speech introducing a bard. The bard then spent half an hour spinning a tale about the “brave adventurers of Tringlee”. From the various descriptions he provided of the tales heroes it soon became apparent that he was singing about yourselves and before long everyone in the room was tipping their hats and raising their glasses in your general direction.

The king then performed an official award ceremony with you all being presented with ‘ The Key to the City’ and given a scroll of paper to represent it. Much applause was given, with cheering and toasting of drinks. Almost everyone wanted to talk to you after the ceremony and you were easily the most popular people at the function.

Afternoon eventually became evening, with more food and drink being served. Jingle offered round some Jingle Juice and managed to render some nobles unconscious with just a single draft each. He then proceeded to amaze those still standing by drinking bottle after bottle of the stuff himself.

Ragnar was bored stupid by posturing-noble men talking of their manly deeds such as shooting a rabbit with a bow and personally ordering a servant to skin the creature. The ladies fluttered around Mathas, charmed by his divine countenance. Some scholars nattered with Riley, interested in his studies of the tear, and Blackjack managed to engage a number of nobles in games of chance keeping the stakes low though.

Eventually the evening drew to an end with everyone collapsing into the rooms that Meridun the butler had shown you earlier.

The next day you all woke up with a sore heard and groaning stomachs from too much excessive food and drink. While you were still getting dressed an escort arrived from the King, summoning you to the war council chambers.

You were escorted there and presented to the king. He informed you that he has met with the representatives of nine neighbouring leaders and after lengthy discussions and contributions from elders, scholars and advisor’s, a plan has been agreed upon. Has then asks them if you would be willing to serve the kingdom and help execute the plan?

Before the King could even give details of what the plan was Ragnar quickly agreed that everyone would help and only cowards would turn down the opportunity.

The King went on to explain that the plan involved travelling to the Mistmarsh, a swamp 150 miles south-east from Greyhawk. There there is a half-sunken, long-abandoned temple of Avandra within the swamp. Reports suggest that a tear appears to be located within it. The fact that the tear is sufficiently far away from anything vital (in a swamp) but sufficiently close for a swift plan to be executed makes it an ideal target.

A caravan of fifty capable people will travel to the Mistmarsh and between them attempt to safely and cleanly destroy the tear. The arch mage has developed a technique that he is confident will work.

The aim is to have a solution to the tear problem in place before the “gods return” in a months time, and before the Tieflings Shadow Demon pays them a monthly visit. More details of the plan will be provided when they arrive at the site. But you needed to leave in two hours time!

Riley asked whom would be leading the expedition and was told that the Kings son, Prince Arvan would be. Concerns were raised (rather bluntly) about if he was capable of doing so….or even finding his own arse with two hands, and also if he was likely to be a target to any bad guys lurking nearby. The King had full confidence in his son though and was accepting no arguments on the matter.

Because you agreed to undertake the mission, the King insisted that you head down to the royal armoury and choose two enchanted items to take with you on your quest.

You then got to choose any one item up to level 5 and any one item up to level 3.
You were are also given some potions each: 2 x cure light wounds, 1 x holy water, 1 x resistance to necrotic energy, 1 alchemical potion of your choice (up to level 5).

You were then asked to report to the north-west city gate and from there the caravan will leave and the mission will begin.

Upon arriving at the gate you found the caravan easy enough, it comprised of three horse-pulled covered-wagons, forty capable looking city guards (on foot), the arch mage, two other mages, and the Kings eldest son; Prince Arvan.

The Prince greeted you, informed you that he has been made aware of your service to the kingdom, is very grateful for it and would appreciate your advice as it arises.

You then set off travelling south-west along the River Road, then south-east along the high-trail, through the Cairn Hills and eventually turning south towards Blackwall Keep.

As the days pass, it begins to rain with un-summer-like regularity. There is also a growing feeling of pressure in the air, like before a thunder storm. The rain makes the road muddy and slows your progress somewhat. Those on foot press onwards but struggle find a balance between making fast travel progress and exhausting themselves before they reach their destination.

You chat with the city guards along the way and find them nice, straight-forward folk. They don’t have any details of the mission, but were told that it would undoubtedly be the most dangerous thing they’ve ever done. Many of them seem willing to take the risk but none of them appear to have done anything like this before. They give the impression that they understand it is a serious threat though, with many of them checking the condition of their armour and weapons regularly. They also practised a little swordplay before the going got too tough, and they did generally look competent.

You reach Blackwall Keep after two and a half weeks, about three days later than initially hoped but still with time in hand. Once there the Prince displayed command competence by ensuring everything is organised and that he was armed with the latest reports from the area and also recruited a couple of local path finders. He also allowed the guards three quarters of a day to rest, relax, bathe, eat and even have a final evening of drink before they being their journey into the Mistmarsh the next morning.

The journey through the Mistmarsh was painfully slow, with rafts being needed to be constructed, taken apart, carried and re-constructed three or four times as you progressed from solid ground to swamp; all the recent rain having made the journey all the more difficult.

After four days of painful travel, with leeches, sores, insect bites and Stirge attacks, you manage to strike out on a raised bank of solid land that overlooks the sunken temple from a distance of about one mile.

Through the occasional gaps in the fog you could see fleeting glimpses of the distance temple, but more obvious was the circle of decay that surrounded it and began not far from the mound that you camped upon. You also caught the occasional glimpse of movement out in the swamp, but the distance and fog made it too difficult to discern much about what’s out there.

You camped for the night and had a restless night with bad dreams, a foul taste / smell in the air and were awoken occasionally from the sounds of distant wailing and moaning.

DM note: “If a arcane ritual is used to help rest etc then allow them an extra action point on waking.” Riley did happen to use a ritual of expelling vermin, so everyone began the day on two action points to represent the better nights sleep and their eagerness to get the task begun after such a long slog to get there.

The next day the rain finally stopped and you feel slightly more optimistic. The feeling of a thunderstorm long overdue persists though.

The Prince calls you guys, and the mages to his tent for a final mission briefing. He revealed his plan of action. His map of the local area, complimented with knowledge from the local rangers revealed a number of small islands around the sunken temple. It also showed four stone entrance ways to the temple, all just above the waterline and all with now submerged tunnels leading to a central area where the tear is assumed to be located.

The Prince stated that the group is to split up into four teams. Each one comprising of ten guards and one spell caster. The prince will also accompany the group with the arch mage.

He then produced four magical rings and explained that were “Rings of Coordinated Assault” and that they allow the wearers to have brief conversations over remote distances. They will be used to exchange progress reports, knowledge and co-ordinate progress. Riley gleefully grabbed a ring and put it on his finger, thus nominating himself as the person responsible for anything going wrong.

(Rings allow a 30 second conversation with other ring bearers over a distance of 2 miles. A short rest is needed to have another conversation)

The Prince continued, explaining that rafts will be used to transport each team to one of the islands near the stone entrances to the temple. When all are in place, a co-ordinated delve will be performed. Due to the harmful effects of the tear, he expressed the aim of minimise exposure time and thus he wanted all teams to start at the same time (again, Ring coordinated)

Each team will work to find a path to the tear and once there they are to perform the ritual that the arch mage has designed, to destroy the tear without harm becoming to the surrounding area. Communication will be vital and whilst success is vital, suicide benefits no-one. Riley and Mathas both learnt the ritual of destroying the tear safely.

Riley took some careful measurements on the night before camping and the next morning and confidently concluded that the zone of decay created by the tear had not grown overnight. He was unclear though if this meant that the tear had run out of power, reached it’s maximum extent or something else.

It was however clear that the tear at the Crypt of the Crimson Shield near Tringlee had a radius of around 500 foot and the radius of this tear was more like 4,500 foot.

Once everyone was ready multiple rafts were pushed out and everyone shipped into place. You guys were targeting the entrance way nearest to the island that you camped on overnight and this had half an hour to wait in the damp. Nervous tension built as the time ticked away, adrenaline making you all jittery and dry in you their mouths, also giving you shivers up and down your backs.

Eventually the final group reports ready and all teams board their rafts and launch into the zone of decay to approach their respective temple entrances. The guards freaked out a little and some look like they might jump overboard and swim for it…in chain mail. Ragnar stood tall though and gave a rousing speech and restored some back bone to the slouching masses (Successfully Diplomacy check of total 22 ensured that no-one bolted, nice!).

Half-way to the entrance……all hell breaks loose….

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Brought into the circle of trust

So you were escorted back to the palace for another audience with the King, Advisor Sodor and the head mage. They listened to your revelations. On hearing that they found the Dwarven stone masons the King proclaimed that you have now earned their key to the city and the feast tomorrow night will be a success. On hearing about the “new” portal, the head mage called you “mistaken fools”. He stated that what you claimed is not possible. The knowledge of creating portals has been lost for thousands of years and no-one is powerful enough now even if they knew how. On hearing about the Tieflings letter to all rulers, the King declares the Tiefling to be a “cheeky scamp” and claims that he’ll put him in his place should their paths ever cross.

Towards the end the King falls silent for a few moments and then drops the jolly fool façade that he has been presenting and decides to confide in the heroes. First he asks them to swear an oath that they are not enemies of the Kingdom of Greyhawk and have not been working with the Tiefling and that everything they have revealed is the truth. He asks them to swear this oath on their life, their family name, their honour and their chosen god. Each hero chooses something dear to them and swears upon it….except Riley who swears on his dead parents lives and the gods that he doesn’t believe in or respect.

Once the oath has been sworn he led you all to another area of the castle, on the same floor but the whole corridor has guards along it. You were led into a room that has a single massive table in the middle, chairs around the outside and some food / drinks tables around the outside. On the table is a number of sheets of paper, each one was a map of a different kingdom of the Flanaess continent. The maps were all of different ages, designs, authors, scales, colours. But all laid out in a specific order to give an over-all impression of what the entire continent might look like.

On top of the maps were a lot (72) small polished black pebbles. There is also a jar of extra/spare pebbles on top of the food/drink tables. The King asked if you can guess the purpose of the map and what the stones represent. After a few moments he explained that each pebble represented a place where they have had a report of strange goings-on that they now realise is almost certainly attributed to one of the ‘ tears’ that the heroes had found and destroyed.

He said that the first word of the tears turned up twelve weeks ago. Since then more and more reports have flooded in by the day. The reports vary but always include a circle of land (of various sizes) being tainted or corrupted, sometimes the dead rising, sometimes living creatures going mad, disease and poison are common effects too.

The Tringlee tear is the first real report that they’ve had of someone getting close enough to a tear to see what they are dealing with. So that means you guys are also the first to destroy a tear and the first to encounter the Tiefling too.

He also explained that the feast tomorrow night is not truly in their honour, that was just a convenient lie for which he is grateful for their unknowing compliance. The feast is really because various other rulers and representatives of kingdoms are visiting to meet in this very room and discuss plans and exchange knowledge…..with a feast afterwards that they are all invited to. He then answered most of your questions to clarify details.

Advisor Sodor informed you that sages have been saying for years that change was coming, so they have begun precautions but were not prepared for something on this scale. The Greyhawk Sentinels were set up nearly thirty years ago as part of the precautions. They are the ones that have mainly brought in the reports of the tears found so far.

The head mage informed you that he has researched the name Barbatos Malphas and has discovered that a Tiefling going by that name did study in the Greyhawk school of magic many decades ago. He was an average student from the Iuz region, with seemingly no more potential than any of his peers. He was competent at magical theory but struggled with the casting side and after six years or mediocre progress he left of his own accord. No records say where he went to. He has also researched the stone circle you described and extended his already expansive knowledge on the subject. He confessed that they do not have a list of circle locations but believe that thousands of years ago there was an extensive network of them that was used by arch mages for quick travel between cities. There is at least one inside the city, in the grounds of the Greyhawk School of Magic. It has been inactive (assumed broken) for thousands of years though and now has a guard watching it.

The king then informs them that a war council will meet tomorrow but before it does he asks them what their advice would be given the situation. What plan would they enact and how would they go about countering the threat?

You responded with a number of general thoughts and point out a number of key factors to consider. You considered what the Tieflings next move might be and how to counter it and if anyone was even powerful enough to stop him….or his sword….or whoever is really in control. You discussed who the “She” might be that he mentioned with the Raven Queen and Lolth being considered as possibilities. Jack (?) suggested taking eight good men and sending a force to strike out at the enemy but you weren’t sure where to go. In the end it was agreed that it would be left to the War Council to decide but the King acknowledged that you had given him some good points to raise with them.

The king offered you rooms inside Greyhawk Keep to stay in if they prefer that to their inn rooms, you all accepted and agreed to present yourselves to Meirdun, one of the castle butlers shortly after midday. Ragnar, Jingle and Jack hit the town, drinking ale and touring the inns of the city, getting completely wasted before collapsing into their royal quarters in the keep in the small hours of the morning. Mathas spends some time studying in the library at the Mages Guild, before retiring at a decent hour. Riley spends all night in the library and only returns to his room when sleep is about to conquer him anyway.

At around 9am the next morning Jack is rudely awoken by the sound of the door to his room and half of the wall being smashed apart by a rampaging gravel golem. You all stumble wearily from your beds, with sore heads feeling like you’ve already been in a heavy combat and dispatch the creature without too much trouble. You then head back to your beds, complaining to the castle guards about your “sleep being disturbed”. The guards are not quite sure what to make of it.

Mathas studies the area outside Jacks room and finds trace signatures of arcane energy suggesting that the creature had been teleported in, much like the hell hounds had been by the Tiefling back at the Crypt of the Crimson Shield.

A couple of hours late, with slightly less-sore heads you all find Meridun checking in on you, offering you facilities to bath and eat, get a drink, shave, banquet worth clothes and anything else you might need. You accept your own preferences of each and are soon gathered together ready for your heroes feast.

On waking up from your “big night out on the town”, Jack discovered that even though he took 20 gold out with him and spent loads on ale and spirits, he appears to have woken up with a money pouch containing over 200 gold pieces in it. He’s not sure where this money came from…everyones memory is a little hazy for the second half of the nights activities, but he is pretty sure that some gambling was involved.

Also Ragnar and Jingle don’t appear to have spent much money either, having pretty much the same money that you went out with (a free night on the tiles). Presumably Jack was buying for everyone.

Session ends

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Meeting the annointed

Having finished watching the Unseen Servant copying the proclamations, Jingle grabbed the quill and modifies the original text so that at the end it includes something along the lines of ‘And the Tringlee crew are going to sort Barbatos out’.  The unseen servant then mindlessly includes this new text onto the remaining copies it produces.

Feeling proud of himself Jingle then heads out of the room to explore the dark passageway and what sounds like an audience beyond it.  He proceeds cautiously and manages to travel the 100 foot of winding passageway and reach the next room without being detected.

The passageway opens up on a ledge about 60 foot high in the side of a natural cavern.  The cavern is 200 foot wide and 300 foot long and dimly lit by six flaming braziers, three along either side, equally spaced.  At the right hand end of the cavern is a raised area, almost like a natural stage and upon the stage stands a vertical stone circle….like the teleportation circle you found near the Crypt of the Crimson Shield.  This one however is clearly brand new, not thousands of years old.  A path slopes away to Jingles left, curving around the cavern edge and circling to eventually meet the floor.

The cavern also contains some beings.

On the main floor area are 80 to 90 shadowy winged creatures, looking exactly like this.

Each one of them holds a rolled up sheet of paper that looks likely to be a copy of the proclamation that the unseen servant was reproducing.  They also stand facing the stage area where two more figures stand.

The Tiefling, Barbatos Malphas stands with his back to his audience.  He is busy chanting and making arcane gestures at the teleportation circle.  Between him and the shadowy hoard stands a ferocious looking Dragonborn, wearing full plate and with a great axe strapped to his back.  Jingle overhears some of his words addressed to the crowd:

“…have your copies of the terms of surrender, and you all know your assigned targets.  You should not expect compliance when you first hand the terms over.  However you will return to your targets every turn of the moon and offer the same terms again.  Return once surrender has been offered, it will happen sooner or later.  cruel laugh  Inform them that surrendering sooner will be more favourable for their citizens, but brook no negotiations, offer no concessions….”

Jingle then creeps back along the tunnel before he is discovered.  He reports back in Jingle-fashion to his colleagues and Riley and Mathas stumble and stagger along the corridor to let their more educated minds take a look at the creatures on the cavern floor.  They make it to the cavern and view the creatures…..deciding they are demonic (not undead) in nature, at which point an Imp appears next to them and shrieks “Intruders!!!!!!” at the top of it’s whiney voice.

Several things happen quickly….the Tiefling completes his ritual and the teleportation circle is activated.  He gestures to the host of shadowy demons and orders them through the portal.  They stream forward, merging into almost a single black cloud, overlapping and mingling, making as fast as the wind.

The Dragonborn turns to the Tiefling and insists on being granted permission to deal with the intruders himself.  He mentions “given the tight schedule we are on and the importance of his mission”.  The Tiefling replies with “You are one of her ”/campaign/tears-of-destruction/wikis/the-annointed" class=“wiki-page-link”> anointed, you have seen her and know the truth, so you know what is at stake and what fate will await you if you fail."  The Dragonborn replies “I will not fail master”.  The Tiefling replies “Good, this location is of strategic importance, and its location should remain a secret”

The Dragonborn then starts running towards the path leading up to the ledge that Riley and Mathas are stood on….whom naturally make a hasty retreat to their colleagues and issue a battle cry of “Incoming!!!”

The heroes take tactical positions in the room with the unseen servant and prepare for the Dragonborn.  They don’t have to wait long, although he does not come alone.  A bloody battle ensues with six Bladelings and the Dragonborn all being slain.  Ragnar removed the Dragonborns head uttering the lines: “Tell whoever you work for that they are next, Ragnar champion of Kord will have his vengeance”.

The bloody remains of the corpse is soon stripped of it’s magic armour and weapon, which Mathas and Riley quickly identify between them.

With the threat neutralised, you head down and explore the cavern.  There is nothing new to see that couldn’t be seen from the ledge.  Jingle puts the severed Dragonborn skull by on the floor by the portal though and then spends half an hour banging away…..at the portal, and eventually causes enough damage to cause it to collapse and be rendered useless.

With nothing else left to do you head back up on the lift and out of the house on Long Latch Lane.  You emerge and are greeted by about twenty very nervous guards pointing crossbows in your direction.  Your gnomish guide emerges from behind a plant pot and assures the guards that you are the good guys.

You inform him of what you’ve found and between passing-out spells he eventually gathers his wits and insists that you report all of this to the king at once.  You head to the Keep and await his presence in the same meeting room as before.  Again he joins you after a few minutes wait, accompanied by Advisor Sodor and the head mage.

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Beneath the city

In your quest to discover what had happened to the missing Dwarven Stonemasons, you had followed leads to an old house adjoining the city wall at the end of Long Latch Lane.  You had entered and defeated an undead gate keeper.

You searched the robes that the Gatekeeper Wight had been wearing and found an iron key and two ritual scrolls of Unseen Servant.  The key opened an iron door embedded in the city wall that the DM had forgotten to mention the previous week.  You unlocked it and ventured inside.

Illuminating the pitch black with your magical lantern, you discovered a 10 foot by 10 foot room hollowed out in the heart of the city wall.  In the room was only one feature, an iron platform with a lever attached to it that went in two directions.  You all boarded the platform and moved the lever from one side to the next.  Experimenting a little you discovered that the two lever positions were “up” and “down”.

When set to “down” the platform descended in perfect silence at a speed of 1/2 foot per second.  When set to “up” the platform came up in perfect silence at a speed of around 1 foot per 20 seconds.  With the shaft appearing to be about 100 foot deep, this meant that the ride to the bottom would take a couple of minutes but the ride back up would take half an hour!

You descended on the platform until it came to a stop in another 10 foot by 10 foot room.  In that room were the inner workings of the lift.  It became clear that the lift was powered by an underground water supply.  The water filled a tank and the lever controlled when it was emptied over a fly-wheel, causing the platform to go up down.  Given the half hour wait to head back up, you thought it best to explore a little first.

You took the only exit from the room, a passageway that wound around for 50 foot, descending slightly and ending at a door.  A smell of animals and rotting flesh came from the other side.  You opened the door and manoeuvred into the room to be confronted by a grey-skinned humanoid that had many spiked protruding from its flesh all over it’s body.  The spiked humanoid was feeding a severed dwarf leg to a creature in a cage.  In total there were five cages with four of them having occupants.  An imp was also seen sitting on the shoulder of the humanoid.

A messy combat followed against foul creatures not seen for thousands of years.  Demons from the abyss!  From old tomes and fire-side stories you guessed them to be Dretch’s and Abyssal Scavengers, not to mention the imp.

You eventually triumphed and silence descended allowing you a few minutes to catch your breath.  During the rest you found a couple of healing potions and some gold & silver coins in the possessions of the Bladeling.  A quick scan of the pile of Dwarven body parts in the corner also suggested that you may have found some or all of the missing Dwarven stone masons.

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Long Latch Lane

So the week before we left it with you just having had an audience with the king. You were walked out of the Greyhawk keep and were met by a Gnomish chronicler named Larkel Backslinger. He had been sent by Advisor Sodor to act as a guide and aid you in your search for the missing Stone Masons.

First of all you went to the home of the head mason. His wife, Tered Stonesong, a Dwarven woman answered the door and let you in as you asked her questions. You managed to discover that her husband Naram, also a dwarf was a skilled stone mason that had six other dwarven masons work with him as a team. They had all gone missing.

Naram had a study that contained various diagrams of stonework ideas and plans, many of them being types of fountains or stone work that combined water functions. None of the designs seemed to stand out was being odd or drawing attention to it.

Ragnar noticed that there were a number of new looking items around the house and that those items seemed better quality items than you would expect to see in the neighbourhood. Tered confirmed that he husbands recent job was paying well and that was affording them a better quality of living. She didn’t know what he was doing though as he’d been a bit secretive, she assumed it was due to excitement and pride at working on something he was going to have a grand unveiling of.

He’s not been seen now for 11 days and has never been missing for more than one before. His current job was doing shift work, mainly during the nights. Tered was very helpful and answered all questions but didn’t provide any solid leads. Mathas (I think?) asked if there was someone that Naram went for a drink with work colleagues that might know. You were told yes, to check an inn called The Graveyard. You left and headed straight there.

The gnomish scribe guided you there, all the time grumbling about getting dusty from the road, tired from the walking around and worried that he match catch-something or have to talk to unsavoury, dirty people.

You found the Graveyard Inn, located in the cellars below a grain warehouse. Heading down some steps you walking into a 40 foot by 60 foot virtually dark room. The only light source being three candles, one at each side of the room and where light shone through the floorboard from the warehouse above. The low ceiling and short stools obviously showed that the place catered for folks of shorter stature.

After buying a drink from the barman you talked to a group of other Dwarven stone masons, sat around a table in a dark corner. They immediately seemed agitated and nervous but clearly stated they knew nothing of the missing people and could not be of help. They stated it so clearly that it was obvious they did know something and were nervous at being questioned. One of the dwarves sat at the table managed to pass Ragnar a slip of paper before you left.

You emerged from the cellar into the bright day light, stumbling around with your hands in front of your eyes to shade from the sun, feeling a little like a zombie and beginning to understand why the inn was called the Graveyard. Checking the note revealed a simple sentence: There is a house at the end of Long Latch Lane.

Larkel guided you to Long Latch Lane, complaining even more about the state his robes were getting into, and how the accounts back in his office weren’t going to add themselves up and how he’s bound to have caught several diseases by now.

Once there the house in question is easily found. All the other houses along the street are clearly lived in, with open windows, signs of furnishings within, children playing in the street and even plants in some of the window troughs. The one house though at the end, on the right, built adjoining the city wall has boarded shut windows and doors, dirt and cobwebs everywhere and no sign of life.

Mathas spots several tracks of dusty white boot prints leading in and out of a side door to the house. Ragnar decides to use some barbarian diplomacy though and smashes the front door in with a mighty kick. At the sound of the exploding doorway Larkel faints in the street, where Riley accidentally helps him gain a fresh coating of dust and dirt. He comes around moments later and hides behind a plant pot across the street quivering in terror.

Ragnar and Blackjack lead the way into the house, quickly establishing that the ground floor is clear and empty. Very clear in fact, not even any sign of the dusty boot prints coming in through the side door. It’s as if the house has been thoroughly cleaned inside.

The two defenders head up the stairs and begin to look around upstairs whilst the other members of the group come in through the front door and have a second check of the ground floor.

Upstairs Blackjack and and Ragnar explore different routes from the top of the stair, one turning left, one right and both find themselves quickly approaching the room overlooking the street that they had entered from. In that room, looking out of the window is a human sized figure, covered in robes.

“You are trespassing, leave now and you shall live. This is your only warning.” the figure states in an elderly, cold voice. Ragnar goes to respond but the figure turns and chants arcane word, summoning the dead. Suddenly the shadows around the house shift and twist, more shadows emerge from cracks in the walls and all coalesce into swarms of undead rats and severed hands, biting and grasping at everyone within.

A bloody battle ensues, with both Ragnar and Blackjack being beaten down in only a few seconds. The rest of the group, are trapped on the narrow stairway, with the swarms preventing them from moving to aid their allies. Eventually they break free and Riley calls forth a wall of radiant light that turns the tide of the battle and enables Mathas to get his two fallen allies back on their feet.

The battle is surprisingly brutal but you manage to disperse the swarms and beat down the robed figure that (those trained in Religion) identify as being a Wight. Quiet falls as you take a few minutes to recover….with the rats and hands melted back to the shadows and the Wight reduced to a pile of dust within some robes, almost nothing remains to show their was a fight, save for the vicious wounds you sustained.

Session ended there…..you’re up to 3rd level and assume that you’ve short-rested after that combat.

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Arriving in Greyhawk

After defeating the Queen ant, the heroes advance into the next chamber where they are attacked by a large cube of blue slime and a couple more ant drones. They dispatch these final foes without too much trouble and open the royal vault. Gareth enters and gathers up all the items on his manifest, putting things into a magical bag.

He discovers that some of the ants acid has destroyed the bottom part of the list, so that leaves some items unaccounted for, which he turns a blind eye to and lets the heroes help themselves as a well deserved reward.

They emerge from the vault and Mathas informs the ‘ Four-wall clan’ of goblins that the ant threat has been neutralised.  They reward Mathas with a very poor quality spear that is probably a liability to anyone whom uses it in a life and death situation.

They resume their journey to Greyhawk and arrive bone-weary 28 long tiring days after leaving Tringlee. They pass freely through the city gates, with the gate guard only noticing them as Gareth engaged him in conversation to check for news.

They head into the town and stop briefly at Gareths house, a humble wooden shack in the poorer side of town. They are introduced to his wife and son and assured that there will always be shelter and a meal for them under his roof. He swears so on his Sentinels Oath.

They move on and briefly stop at the Sentinel head quarters, a plain three-storey stone building displaying the Greyhawk coat of arms either side of the door. Gareths commander is briefed but stops them only a couple of minutes into the story, takes them straight to Castle Greyhawk and sends a servant to fetch the king. He also arranges rooms, meals and a bath for them at the Horn Blowers inn when they are ready, and has their horses taken there too.

They wait for fifteen minutes andthe King appears with another man carrying a book, whom introduces himself as Advisor Sodor. The king is a jolly man that seems to find their story a very entertaining tale but doesn’t come across as completely convincing that he understands and appreciates the threat it reveals.

A middle aged man wearing robes decorated with arcane symbols joins the discussion about half way through and peers over Advisor Sodor’s notes to catch up on what he has missed. He seems initially sceptical and amused but eventually concludes that their must be truth in their tale as the detail of the story is too plausible for non-arcane folk to make up. The magical items that they bear also helps convince him.

Advisor Sodor seems to remain dismissive and non-impressed during the whole tale. Taking notes and huffing and blowing in disbelief.

The king wants to reward the heroes with “the key to the city” but Advisor Sodor quotes an ancient by-law that insists on recipients of the key needing to perform their deed within the city limits. The king counters with a suggestion that they look into the disappearance of a local stonemason, he can then reward them justly.

The king also agrees to recruit 50% more guards and increase the level of military training that city guards receive. In the mean time the arcane man agrees to look into the facts of their story and see if he can find anything about a Tiefling named Barbatos Malphas.

The king also commissions Blackjack to craft him a set of armour worthy of royalty.

They agree to meet and discuss again in two nights time at a celebratory feast in honour of our heroes. A number of visiting dignitaries will be in town by then and it will have given everyone time to research the information and decide how best to move forward.

In the mean time they are to look into the missing citizens and are to have the help of another of the kings advisors to act as a guide and aid for them in the city.

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Banes Burrowers

Session was one long combat against the Banes Burrowers.

Session begun with initiative for combat with the queen and ended when the queen plus escorts were slain. Players taking a short rest.

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To the free city of Greyhawk

After the frantic events not long passed a sombre silence descended upon the group as they took time to draw breath and reflect upon what had just befallen them. 
 
As they gathered their senses, thoughts turned as to what they should do next, with the choices narrowed to head back to the village, or search for the mysterious item they had seen escape the necrotic cloud.
 
After a few moments discussion, Riley took the lead by collapsing against the nearest boulder and proclaiming he wasn’t going anywhere until morning.  The rest of the group, too weary to argue, set up camp.
 
As they camp the discussion turned to the magic items the group had discovered, such rare trinkets had most of the group in awe as the like had not been seen before, Mathas, however took a more practical bent that was bourne from a lifetime in study.
 
He mentioned that he had a way of transferring the dwearmors from one item to another, however to do so would require resources that we currently did not have access to, however he said pointing at the symbol of daring, he could use that, but doing so would destroy it.
 
Ragner bristled at the comment, saying that the symbol should be given to Pete the Marshalls son as a reward for his bravery, and hopefully Ragner believed setting him on the path to Kord. After a heated debate the group decided it was more prudent to put their needs ahead of that of Pete. Throwing the symbol at Mathas’ feet, Ragnar stormed off saying he was off to search the ruined crypt for what they had seen, mumbling that if he did find it the group could sell that too.
 
Mathas retried the symbol and pulling out his spellbook set about preparing the rituals he needed, stating he would require a couple of hours the rest of the group set up camp and started to relax.
 
Meanwhile Ragnar made steady progress to the crypt, noticing the cloud was starting to disapate, he set about searching and soon found telltale signs of the item, a hole burned through a tree trunk, leading into a boulder. looking into this boulder, he saw a gleaming gem stone. reaching in he pulled out a half tear shaped gem around 3 inches in size, the gem looked liked it had been cracked by a blow of great force.
 
Back at the camp, the rituals reached a crescendo, and jingle grew more excited thrusting his hammer towards mathas, while making a crackling sound.  A few moments later it was enchanted with the power of lightning, also Jacks blade burst into flame.
 
Ragnar return the camp and passes the gem he found around the group, Riley taking a special interest in it begins to study it, he speaks to the group saying that given time, he believes he can unlock its secrets. Mathas agrees to aid him in whatever way he can.
 
Now that the group has the gem, the decision of what to do next is an easy one, they will head back to the village and report upon what has happened, hoping that this will give them insight into what to do next.
 
After an uninterupted and very welcome nights sleep, the group head of early for Tringlee, the journey is relatively uneventful, until the group get close to town and there they see for the first time in history a guard posted on the road into Tringlee,  taken aback by such developments, Jack approaches the guard, who is fast asleep propped up against his pitchfork.
 
A conversation ensues, with Jack questioning the man, who he knows from town about what he is doing, it turns out thats Petes stories of events combined with the dark cloud had spooked the townsfolk and mayor Bran had ordered a guard watch the road.
 
undaunted the group head into town, the festival is starting up, but feels somehow drained of cheers most of the towns folk instead of talking in cheery voices are whipering and sending furtive glances the groups way.
 
Heading int othe tavern, Mayor Brann greeted us with a mixed air of expectation and aprehension, wanting to know all the details of what had happened.  Between them the group recalled all the details, and despite Branns initial disbelief, he found it hard to deny the facts.
 
Unsure what to do he calledfor a town council meeting, gather the town elders to decide what to do, this we were told was a rare occurance. While he set this in motion, the group decided to toast their success with some fine spirits.
 
Soon the elders gathered and we once again prepared to recount the events, before we could start however Emily interrupted us, saying a rider had arrived wishing to speak to the council about recent events, Brann motioned for the stranger to enter, as he did we noticed a well travelled man wearing an emblem that we identified as the crest of greyhawk, he had a uniform and carried no weapons. He introduced himself as Gareth Brown, an agent tasked with ensuring the safety of Greyhawk and its outlying lands.  The tremor and mushroom cloud had been seen and felt in lands further afield than Tringlee and he had come to investigate.  A few questions later seemed to show he was genuine.
 
we told the story once more and this garnered pretty much the same response as previous tellings from most of the council. however one of the members ??, an Eladrin who Mathas knew well and Gareth both seemed genuinely concerned, The Eladrin had heard of the devil we encountered believing they may have spent some time studying together in Greyhawk.  It was at this point we noticed that the locals of tringlee were using any vantage point to pry upon us.
 
Ignoring the massed hordes outside, Gareth told us that what we had encountered did not seem to be unique, and that plans had been set in motion to investigate further, he requested that we travel to Greyhawk to give details to the powers there.  After a period of debate we decided to leave in the morning, giving us the remainder of the afternoon and the night to put our affairs in order.
 
As we left the Inn the villages swarmed us, hailing us as heroes, which didn’t sit well with the group Ragnar pushing through the group, paying them little heed, Riley and Mathas seeking to steer clear of the limelight, Jack however issued a rallying cry for the town to arm itself in face of the oncoming darkness.  This seemed to disperse the group as they looked for weapons.
 
The night passed differently for many members of the group, Ragner retold sagas and psalms of Kord to those willing to listen. Mathas studied his books, Jack offered advice to his apprentice, Jingle said his goodbyes to his family and stocked up Jingle juice.  however Riley perhaps had the most interesting night, often ignored by most of the towns folk he was surprised to find a visitor waiting for him as he made his way back home, it was Rose the mayors daughter, at first Riley thought she was there out of some sort of morbid curiosity, but a they talk it became clear she had become enamoured by him and his tales of braves deeds.  The small talk soon turned into a more physical attraction and Riley got very little sleep that night.
 
As the group meet early the plan was to travel to the earest northern village and acquire horses there. So with the sun rising on a fine summers day the group set off, the first part of the journey was pretty uneventful, mainly spent traversing the mountains, the pace picking up when the horses were bought.
 
Approaching the last leg of our journey we had to cross a great woods, it was then that Gareth told us of another part of his quest, he had been tasked to find some old ruins that belonged to the king and recover certain items from there.   He expalined he had visited all three, but had trouble with one of them. It turned out that a tribe of goblins had set up home there and were very suspicous of strangers, however now he had us in tow, he thought they maybe  more reasonable, this was backed up when Mathas revealed he knew a few words of goblinoid.
 
As we approached we saw the ruined manor of which Gareth spoke, onlt a few crumbling walls remained now, however it was also easy to spot the goblin camp. As the creatures saw us most of them scuttled into a cave at the rear of the camp, however one of the braver ones stepped forward and negotiated with Mathas
 
The negotioations lasted a while, it appeared that the lower vaults had become inhabited by what the goblins called ‘Banes burrowers’ and wanted our assurance that should we go down there, we would clear these out. Mathas told us these burrowers were a form of giant ant.
 
Agreeing to the task the group headed down into the vaults, the first part of this journey was not plesent, as it appeared that the goblins had been using excriment as a deterrent to the Ants, wading our way through we soon got into a natural cavern, its main feature being a large door facing us, we also notice a smaller passageway in the far corner, aided by Ranar and Jack, Jingle tried to force the door open, however it seemed age had seeled it tight. Lighting his blade, Jack braved the passage, it was a tight fit but we all managed to squeeze through this opened into a similar chamber, but with an extra exit in the south east corner.  Luckily this time Jingle opend the door with ease, while he did this, we got our first clance of the ‘Banes Burrowers’ as they came down the northern passage. 
 
As the door opened it seemed we had stumbled into the queens chambers, as she was sat in the room, surrounded by workers and a clutch of eggs, she did not seem pleased to see us…..

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