Dwarf on Back

Fourteenth Adventure (by George)

Episode 1

The party was back en route to Sapra in order to reach the Plaguewrought Lands. As they went, they noticed the phylactery in their guard would occasionally pulse with a cold, evil aura. As they traveled, their junk was overtaken by an extremely fast ship full of the living dead. Embergrace, worn thin by carrying the phylactery for too long and itching for some undead action, became excited by this turn of events. She teleported to the other ship, and began wreaking havoc on the undead crew. Meanwhile, the undead pirates catapulted their way over to the junk and reassembled into very swiftly-moving skeletons, of which the party disposed handily.

As the enemy’s ship veered away, listing to the side, the party could hear Embergrace’s assurance of her own safety with cries of “Aumanator provides!” and "I’ll meet you outside of the Plaguewrought Lands!”

The party docked at Sapra, in the country of Turmish; a land where the locals seemed gruff and impolite, but as it was a dock and a trading port, they were willing to deal with the adventurers.

An eladrin waited on the dock, bedecked in garb denoting him as a member of Bahamutian clergy. He seemed to recognize the party and hailed them immediately. The eladrin primarily addressed Eredon, but stated that he had received contact from Cardinal Dragonheart directing him to bring the party to the local Temple of Bahamut in order to speak with the Cardinal directly. The eladrin gave them directions to the temple, and went on his way.

Upon their arrival at the temple, the party was shown to a scrying pool. Two acolytes lit candles and muttered ritualistic words, and Dragonheart’s haggard, sleep-deprived figure appears. He stood in the Shadowdale Temple of Bahamut, back to the decorated front doors, now closed and barred.

Dragonheart looked relieved to see the party, and asked them what word they have. The party, having made little progress on their quest, encouraged the Cardinal to reveal what has happened since they last spoke. Cardinal Dragonheart did so – “Let me show you what has happened over the last few weeks…”

Dragonheart muttered words and waved his arms in incantation. The image in the pool faded away, then re-focused to a view of the city of Scardale. The undead threat had the city locked down. The guard was on high alert, and each member pulled double duty to ensure the safety of its citizens. Clergy members from all of the local faiths tended to their wounded. Behind the eyes of each guard lurked exhaustion; clearly, they couldn’t keep pace for long.

The view faded to Tilverton in the evening, where it was apparent that the heroes’ efforts to rebuild the town had profound effect. The city appeared heavily-fortified and the guards well-rested – but even as they patrolled the city walls, the sewer grates rose and were cast aside. A horde of small, nimble, undead figures flooded outward and began wreaking havoc on the city from the inside. The guard cleaned up the attack swiftly, but the damage wrought by the creatures was extensive.

The image in the pool swirled around and became still, and a view of a town overlooked by a large house appears. The town itself was in almost complete ruin, and the manor appeared infested with a number of undead. Dragonheart spoke again – “You now look at Shadowdale. A great evil took residence in the old Manor Hades, and routed the town. All remaining living citizens have either fled or seek sanctuary here in the temple.”

The pool revealed Dragonheart’s image again. “These are but a few of the towns, cities and settlements being assaulted. Many such places across the northern Realms suffer from a siege of undead.” He paused for a moment. “Slowly but surely, the living are being eradicated.”

“The few remaining in Shadowdale will evacuate and…” The cardinal was interrupted by a loud crash. The barred doors behind him fell inward, and a flood of ghouls tore into Bahamut’s sanctuary. The remaining guards inside the temple began fending off the assault. Meanwhile, a tall, handsome man with a pale visage and strikingly sharp figures stepped into the chapel, spotted the Cardinal, and pointed at him, issuing a silent challenge. The Cardinal, demonstrating surprising grace and agility for his age, leapt to the attack and called on Bahamut to dispel the figure; the man laughed, revealing pointed fangs. He appeared completely unaffected by the Cardinal’s banishment.

As the view in the scrying pool faded away for the last time, the Cardinal’s voice could be heard – “You must do what you can to stop the spread of the plague!”

The party was invited to take room and board at the Sapra Temple of Bahamut gratis while they figured out how to travel to Ormpetarr, the city on the edge of the Plaguewrought Lands.

In order to reach Ormpetarr, the adventurers could either travel through Turmish by road, or travel over water to the south of Sapra. As the party sought directions, they found that the locals weren’t particularly friendly – as it was, they were required to ingratiate themselves to the locals quite a bit in order to obtain any assistance from them whatsoever.

Slowlyl but surely, the residents of Sapra warmed up to the party. While going about the town meeting the wary folk of Sapra, the adventurers met a wild elf named Neera who, by happy coincidence, was attempting to return to the forest of Chondalwood, located just north of the Plaguewrought Lands. She was unable to make the trip alone, and was quite happy to lead the party to their destination in exchange for escort service along the way.

Episode 2

Neera advised the party that it would be a few days until she is ready to leave. As such, the adventurers spent some time at a local tavern, the Leaping Lizard. Inside, they noticed a wanted poster featuring the leader of a local band of ruffians, the Motley Mob. The figure featured most prominently was a female half-elf – but as no witnesses had seen her features, the poster was bereft of them.

Also in the tavern was a hooded figure wreathed in shadow; he approached the party, stated that he had been following them for some time in order to determine their motives, and decided that he wished to assist them. The adventurers and Belgarath joined forces.

The party devised a plan to lure the Mob out into the open. Lethe wandered along a path in the forest while the rest of the remainder of the party hid in the trees; most took refuge in Nicolae’s shroud, and Neil used his natural camouflage to hide amongst trees closer to Lethe herself. As the party hoped, the bandits approached Lethe and demanded a “toll” for their protection against the scum who walked the path; Lethe moved back toward the party in order to queue and attack. Neil snuck around behind one of the bandits in the trees and got a surprise attack, felling one of the foes before combat had started.

Belgarath pinned most of the mob into an illusive black hole of greed. Eredon marked a major target with holy power designed to damage the enemy and surrounding enemies. The half-elf raised her warriors from near-death, then disappeared and snuck around in order to attack the mages – but the rest of the party came quickly to their aid, and beat upon the half-elf until she surrendered. All in all, the bandits were no match for the party.

Belgarath attempted to question the half-elf, but she spat at him and merely gave haughty responses. The party turned her into the local constabulatory and claimed their reward.

Episode 3

Neera and the party made ready to depart. They traveled overland to the river inlet down which they would travel, boarded Neera’s rickety raft and went on their way.

The journey was long and arduous; members of the party were required to provide food for everyone as best they could along the way, and other members assisted in making sure that no person was too over-exposed to heat or other harsh weather conditions. The journey allowed little by way of rest; while the party could pull the raft to the side in order to take extensive rests, they were unable to fully refresh along the way.

Three days into the trip, the party came across two nereids who blocked the path by swaying the direction of the current. They wished only a sacrifice; either money, or a (male) adventurer. The party parleyed in an attempt to entice the nereids and convince them that they were friends; they were so successful that the nereids not only allowed the party passage without charge, but they also offered to follow as an escort.

Later in the day, the party along with their nereid escort came to a shoreline on which lived members of the hated kuo-toa, fishlike humanoids with a superiority complex and an unquenchable bloodthirst. Several of the lesser nereids were frightened by the presence of the kuo-toa, such that they swam about and disrupted the flow of the current, impeding the party’s progress to a standstill.

A confrontation ensued. Thinking quickly, Belgarath opened a dimensional gate from the raft to land in order to provide quicker access to the kuo-toa who were attacking from the shore. Eredon lay down holy marks to maintain the attention of the fish-men. With theirs and the combined efforts of the rest of the party, the enemy was quickly laid low.

A few more grueling days of travel on the river, and the adventurers’ raft exited the rapid flow of the river and into the wider, safer areas of a lake. Neera exclaimed cheerfully that they had made it, but as the party watched her face fell, she pointed forward and cried out, “Oh… oh no! It’s the…”

Episode 4

“…aboleths!”

Sure enough, two large, subterranean beasts with alien features and many tentacles reared their ugly heads. The adventurers quickly realized the creatures exuded a hazy, slimy aura which created enough surface tension to walk on the water, but with extreme difficulty. Eredon took advantage of this by heading out to one of the creatures straightaway and marking it with the might of Bahamut’s holy grace. The party’s other melee fighters followed suit, the casters stuck to the rear, and before long the creatures were brought low.

The party docked at a harbor nearby to their destination, Ormpetarr. They were greeted by the harbormaster, who handed the party bag after bag of gold and exclaimed “Those critters have been giving us trouble for weeks! You’ve saved us a bundle of trouble. Here’s the reward we were offering!”

Comments

Nice! I don’t remember any of the particular skill challenges from Episode 1. I think Neil may have scoped out some work that needed to be done on the dock using my stealth so that Morlak could help carry crates or something. And Lethe opened up a clinic of death on the streets.

Fourteenth Adventure (by George)
Acharidel

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