Dwarf on Back

Seventeenth Adventure (by Mark)

Episode 1

Played on January 6th, 2012

Our adventure began in Lady Tier’s hideout where the Copper Guard were stationed. They discovered that Duvan was drawing a sketch of Yellga, making the two of them indisposed. The party then heard rumors from three of Lady Tier’s scouts: a surly Dwarven ranger told them that a second tower in the shape of a hand had appeared outside of town; a werewolf scout told them that he’d heard of (and smelled) a large cave way up in the mountains that was full of undead; lastly a penguin (a were-penguin? an animagus? someone with a very good disguise?) told them that he’d just come from the center of town and heard a lot of rabble-rousing from a crowd who were looking to lynch someone.

Not wanting to make a rash decision, the party decided to ask around town for some more information. They learned that the lynch mob was closest, that they were looking for a group of people who had gone mucking about in the sacred forest south of Ornpetar, and wanted to catch them because they had committed various crimes against the Order of the Blue Flame. They also learned that the hand tower was the second closest, could be found in the forest southwest of town, and that it was rumored to house more of the servants of Vecna. Lastly, they learned that the undead cave was the farthest distance away, that it contained hundreds of undead, and that they were protecting a source of evil energy that was keeping them alive (so to speak). Eventually, Embergrace used the Hand of Fate ritual to help them decide; it directed them to the hand tower.

The party trudged through the wilderness until they eventually found the hand tower jutting out of the ground. They located a door at the base through which they could enter. They entered a room with three levers on the floor and three coffins hanging on the wall (like paintings might). Pulling the levers opened various secret doors, triggered various traps (including a flame jet at one point), and opened the various coffins (one of which was filled with a swarm of stirges). Eventually, they were able to raise some secret stairs to the center coffin, and with some canny thievery from [Heidi’s character whose name I can’t recall and there is no record of her on here], they got through the coffin and out of the room.

They then crossed through a blurry curtain that made a few party members vomit, and found themselves in a familiar room: a central platform with pillars at the forefront, numerous floating platforms surrounding it like an amphitheater, and sinister looking clouds above and below where a ceiling and floor might be. There they met the FoDI, who told them his story…

In a flashback, they saw a young Samuel as an acolyte of Aumanator living in the town of Tilverton (which appeared as the Tilverton of old that the party had seen in a much earlier adventure). A huge army of undead, driven by members of the Order of the Blue Flame were marching to the town to pillage and destroy. The town citizens were panic-stricken. Samuel informed them that there was something he could do, but it was almost as terrible as the doom that marched toward them. At the urging of some of the townsfolk, Samuel opened a necromantic tome and reanimated the now-dead citizens of Tilverton who were interred in the cemetary. The two undead armies fought, and ultimately the Tilverton army was victorious. The townsfolk were relieved that they were saved, but at the same time grief-striken to see their long-dead loved ones now revivified in such a horrific state. The head priest of Aumanator in the village sharply reprimanded Samuel for what he had done, scarring his holy symbol and banishing him from Tilverton. Samuel traveled for many miles, following a path similar to that taken by the adventurers. He came all the way down to Ornpetar, possibly looking for members of the Order of the Blue Flame, but eventually found a great fortress shaped like a head. Significantly, the head was missing one eye and matched the stonework of the two hand towers the party had found. The flashback ended with a lich woman emerging from the “mouth” of the fortress and telling Samuel that his service to the Lord of Whispers was about to begin…

The flashback was cut short as two challenges faced the adventurers: there was a dastardly puzzle they had to solve to free Samuel from his chains, and there was a squad of Githyanki mounted on a red dragon coming to attack them! After much diligent puzzle-solving on the Colorku board by half the party, they released Samuel. The other half of the party battled the dragon and the Githyanki. The greatest moment of the combat had to be when the Necromancer temporarily turned the red dragon into a toad — with the caveat that any damage done to the toad would cause it to instantly revert to a red dragon — and then the Paladin (Eradon) gingerly picked up the toad and dropped it into the clouds below, where it was destroyed.

Samuel then explained that, in order to free him completely from his punishment, and to destroy the evil source of magic powering the undead plague, they would need to go to the undead cave they had heard about and use the Scepter of Bahamut to purify Aumanator’s lament. Samuel’s fate, the party’s fate, and perhaps the fate of the whole world were all bound to this one doom.

Episode 2

Played on January 20th, 2012

The party continued onward to the foothills of the Westerly mountains. Along the way, [Heidi’s Rogue character] killed a small boy and took his all-day sucker from him. When the boy’s mother came looking for him, she too was cut down. Eventually, they arrived at a cave. No sooner had they entered when they discovered that they were surrounded by zombies! A quick battle ensued, fortunately with few / no losses. Post battle, [Heidi’s Rogue character] scouted around the room and found a treasure chest full of goodies.

They continued on down the hallway, eventually discovering that it opened into a large, cavernous room with many cave features: stalagmites, stalactites, columns, mesas, pits, ledges, climbing walls, and an underground stream. The most significant feature, however, was the floor, which was filled wall-to-wall with zombies. At the far side of the cavern, a mysterious green glow could be seen, emanating from behind a column of rock. Using their skills and spells, the party leapt from column to column, climbed the walls, swam the river (when needed), and occasionally teleported / flew from mesa to mesa. Eventually, they arrived at the green-glowing alcove.

Inside the alcove was a sinister fountain that endlessly spewed a column of green, arcane light up toward the ceiling. Embergrace tried to approach, but was halted by a wall of force. After a malevolent cackling noise was heard, three matchstick puzzles appeared. Using their combined intellects, the party members solved the puzzles and the wall of force dropped. They then activated the Scepter of Bahamut, wrestled a protesting Aumanator’s Lament into the arcane stream, and beheld as a transformation occurred: the gemstone at the center of Aumanator’s Lament shattered; a dark, wailing shadow departed from the amulet; the stream of green, arcane light turned to a bright white (tinted with platinum); the zombies in the cave disintegrated to powder; and lastly, the blackened walls & ceiling of the cavern cracked and fell to the ground, revealing crystal walls just beneath.

Back in Ormpetarr, the FoDI (Samuel) was being served tea by Yellga & Duvon. Samuel looked up and gasped. The grey streaks in his hair disappeared, his skin changed from a sallow pale color to healthy pink, and the scarred holy symbol of Aumanator which he had worn as a reminder of his misdeedss… was now whole and unscarred, good as the day it was made.

Episode 3

Played on January 27th, 2012

The party traversed back across the (now vacant) crystal cavern and made for the exit. Arriving there, they discovered that Vecna (or his minions) had left one last obstacle to try to trap them in: another wall of force that could only be unlocked by solving a puzzle. But solve it they did, and so they left the cave.

Outside, they heard the call of a strange bird. A few party members recognized that it wasn’t a bird at all, but rather a call used by Rangers to signal each other. After some searching, they discovered the Dwarven ranger they’d first met in Lady Tier’s courtroom; he was hiding behind a pile of rocks. The Dwarf produced a rough sketch of the city in it’s current state and suggested three possible points of entry: the front gates, which would doubtless be closely watched and guarded; the slums, which leaked out of a break in the city walls; and the secret tunnel which they’d used previously, but was now guarded by Order of the Blue Flame members who had gotten wise to their shenanegains!

The party opted to go through the slums. Numerous trials awaited them therein, with a few especially notable moments. [Zane’s character] nearly fell while traversing a clothesline, but bounced away from the jumping / biting hobos, and then sent a rain of clean clothing down on them which they hastily snatched up. Embergrace got held up at a fruit & vegetable cart where she attempted to win political favor from the various produce (the plantains & mangoes went in her favor, while the tubers & legumes went the other way). Lastly, several of the party members [Zane’s, Gingell’s & George’s characters] were unsuccessful at getting past an angry drunk, and ended up joining him for some boisterous drinking songs.

Eventually, they made it back to Lady Tier’s courtroom. Lady Tier urged them to confront the Order of the Blue Flame leadership at the lynching rally they were holding in the town square. Eradon wanted some assurance that they would be able to escape by some means if things went pear-shaped. Lady Tier told them they could contact members of the Ormpetarr thieve’s guild (whom they had met earlier in the slums) who could guide them to one of many entrances to the network of tunnels that ran under the city.

So, the party went to the town square. Those whose faces were on wanted posters went cloaked & cowled, while those who were unidentifiable walked right up toward the stage where Jørl Hånsberg (a balding, hawk-nosed northernman) and Tudse Llyffant (a broad-mouthed, skinny-legged fellow with a monacle) read a list of charges against the party. Party members who could walk openly began to challenge some of the list charges brought against the party. Soon, wanted party members revealed themselves and told of the goings-on that had transpired. Finally, a surprise witness, in the form of Samuel Augustus Hyde, revealed himself and produced an Order of the Blue Flame sigil taken from the uniform of one of the OBF members who had driven the undead into his fair city of Tilverton many years ago. Revealed for who they are, the citizens grabbed pitchforks, lit torches, and began to storm the stage. The party regrouped, confident that the city would see new leadership soon, as they saw Lady Tier emerge from a shadowy corner with a knowing smile.

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