Mystery of Vor Shelath

Assault on Towerhome

Entries added/updated from this session:

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Foothold (Part I)

With the arcane seal removed, you gazed into the unknown passage with trepidation, unaware of the kobold threat gathering behind you. However, the ambush was dispatched before the kobolds could act, as two new adventurers—Nalla, a towering goliath with a mean axe, and Derack, a stout cleric of Mordrin—broke through the reptiles’ ranks. Sent by an unidentified sponsor, they proved eager to join the group, and their kobold tossing abilities proved a suitable résumé.

With the party newly reinforced, Itsu offered to send you off with a ritual blessing from his god, Typhon. He produced a rune-marked candle and a strange feather, one of three which he claimed was from Typhon himself. It was the first such feather he had ever used, but Itsu was convinced the party had been guided to the kenku’s plight by Typhon’s wings, and that they were worthy of such a gift. Invoking Typhon’s power, he burned the feather within the candle’s flame, and the party felt invigorated for the trials ahead.

Pushing past the seal, the party came upon a chamber with relief-covered walls depicting a wizard fighting against demonic creatures, an army of constructs at his command. Several holes existed in the reliefs, where a figure should have been, while rubble and bones littered the floor. You surmised that figures within the reliefs would animate and attack in defense of the area, but that the last animated defender was defeated before you arrived. You made it to the door on the far side of the chamber without incident, but the keen ears of Green Boy detected the chattering of voices beyond. Not one for caution or subtlety, Tecumseh busted down the door, revealing the interior of Ahzrad’s underground sanctum.

Far beyond the doorway, a giant bronze orrery dominated a central chamber surrounded by five rooms. A strange mist hung in the air, composed of uneven clumps that seemed to drift independently of each other, no common air current carrying them. One by one you entered, leaving a piece of your sanity at the door. Despite the party’s concern, the mist seemed unaffected by your presence. The chattering voices could be heard, though muffled, coming from deep within the sanctum.

Tecumseh moved straight ahead, destined for the orrery, while Green Boy could not escape the mystery of a closed door. The door proved an entrance to a tattered library, its vast array of books torn open and strewn about the floor. One book escaped the literary massacre, resting on a magically illuminated desk. Avelis eagerly poured through it, and soon became obsessed with its contents, babbling about the wonders of a realm beyond mortal comprehension.

You thoroughly searched the remains of the library, discovering a magic piece of unused parchment, as well as odd notes scribbled on various scraps of paper. “Blood of one to release the lock. Blood of three to open the gate.” “Pitiful forms do not suit Xamnid. Cast them aside.” And finally, one written in the deep tongue, “We are consumed, reborn.”

Still, Tecumseh continued on. The orrery was surrounded by dozens of rings that spun around it, carrying strange symbols associated with the planets and stars. Upon reaching the sphere, Tecumseh blacked out, but other party members heard him say the name “Caiphon,” and saw the orrery turn into a burning purple sphere immediately after. When Tecumseh came to, he backed away from the device, to have it turn back to normal as he retreated.

You continued your exploration of the sanctum, opening a door to some kind of alchemical lab. A note located by a collection of strange potions documented Ahzrad’s attempt and partial success to stave off madness with the unusual concoctions, but revealed their severe limitation of only working on a given subject once, with repeated doses being wasted. There were other remarks on the note, but they grew more incoherent and illegible as his sanity left him.

Turning over the lab, you also discovered a conventional healing potion, some residuum, and a pair of caustic gauntlets. Argent, meanwhile, explored the crates along the outer edge of the sanctum, uncovering three bottles of wine, one of which he promptly started to drink.

Finally, an alien-looking grandfather clock stood on the edge of the lab, with flickering light emanating from it. Investigation revealed that it opened into an impossibly large room, filled with clay figures, some humanoid, and some considerably less so. A magic kiln burned to the side, and a large statue held a lantern opposite the clock’s entrance.

Avelis wasted no time investigating. He discovered a clay tablet above the large statue that read “ Young clay yields / Fired clay shatters / Within a pliant field / I preserve what matters,” along with an arcane mark that it shared with many of the more disturbing clay figures. He also identified the magic lantern the statue held, and took it without hesitation.

That awoke something within the figures, many of whom came to life to retrieve the item. Despite being isolated, Avelis managed to successfully retreat while the rest of the party rushed to his aid. You quickly learned that, while the figures were easy enough to dispatch, those with the arcane mark and a final attack on their demise, which projected a memory or vision into the slayer’s mind, such as of working in the lab outside, studying in the library, or attending a lecture on a dry arcane subject, causing you significant pain in the process.

With the clay figures dispatched, your exploration turned towards the northern rooms. A magic circle, two broken cages, and several chalk boards defined the north-western chamber. The chalk boards contained a list of names and titles, including Caiphon, as well as a magic circle with its center erased. The magic circle on the floor, which did not resemble the one on the chalk board, appeared to have been moved from elsewhere, and its outer area added later. Sorin and Derack attempted to ascertain its function, but while they found a pair of familiar symbols inside, their religious knowledge proved insufficient. Green Boy examined the cages, to see what could have possibly chewed through them, and while he found that beyond his area of expertise, the arcane runes that covered the bars were impossible for him to miss.

Back in the main chamber, the rest of you examined the orrery. You quickly realized that by manipulating a lens crystal via thought to pick a symbol, and then speaking a corresponding command word, you could get the orrery to react. You also realized that the orrery seemed to conceal another function, although its exact nature eluded you. Using Tecumseh’s experience, your bard, Berrand Thunderflute, attempted to use the “Caiphon” command word on a random symbol. This resulted in more of his sanity being stripped away, although it did cause the orrery to change, hiding all rings and symbols save for the symbol he chose and one other. The group deemed further experimentation on the device to be unwise until you got some more information from the rest of the ruins.

With two rooms left to explore, you summoned your courage and stood before the north-eastern chamber. The mad chattering was loudest behind the door, and some of you managed to catch a few coherent sentences and names. Again affirming his belief that handles are for chumps, Tecumseh broke down the door. At the far end of the room before you was a sheet of flesh populated with a myriad of mouths and eyes from which the incessant babbling emanated. Hooks pierced its flesh, and they were attached via chains to a series of weights that kept the gibbering beast taught and stretched. The resulting wounds adopted the metallic features of the implements that held it.

Avelis pondered the creature, and saw a reflection of his nightmare in the beast. He could not be sure, but he believed disposing of the gibbering mouther could be beneficial for your sanity, although not without risk. Seeing the disturbing sight, Thorin Oakenshield girded himself, and valiantly ran away. The rest of you followed his lead, and decided that the final, northern-most door would lead to the answers you sought.

Opening the door, Green Boy was greeted by the sight of a myriad of tiny specks of light floating in space above a still pool of water. Looking ahead, it was as if he gazed into the void itself. Signs indicated that the walls once sported seven mosaics. Two remained: one of a black cephalopod devouring a dim red sphere, and another of a serpent creature wrapping itself around a bright red sphere. On the ground around one crumbled mosaic’s alcove lay a high concentration of green tiles. A symbol resembling those on the bronze sphere marked the top of each alcove.

As Green Boy advanced through the strange chapel to read the symbols, he came upon an altar with a disturbing cloth, a dagger made with an unusual green-stone, a corrupted holy symbol of Pelor, and some skeletal remains. The bones belonged to a kenku, who did not appear to have put up any struggle, and had its flesh stripped from its bones by a knife.

Retrieving the dagger, Green Boy attempted to egress from the chapel with the knowledge of the symbols. However, a deep and terrible howl/groan engulfed the area as every surface of the chapel sprung to life with tentacles and eyes. Most disturbing, from the other side of the altar emerged a mass of large tentacles splayed around a giant beak.

You all rushed in to help your endangered comrade, who was nearly incapacitated by the first attack of the monstrous thing. Sorin, however, lagged behind, and soon found himself ambushed by a blue, bipedal, lizard-like creature. The giant eyes proved harmless on their own, but their power to maneuver you across the battlefield and prevent your retreat proved dangerous enough on its own. The tentacles, in addition to hitting hard, were exceptionally grabby and enjoyed tossing you and comrades further into the room, towards the giant maw. Coordinated, strong, and durable, the various entities were a formidable opponent on their own, but when Thunderflute fell, the true scope of their power became apparent, as the bard fell under the thing’s thrall.

A quick heal from Derack rescued Thunderflute, but the dwarf was the next to fall, this time grabbed and consumed by the thing’s maw. A fleshy polyp emerged from the chapel wall in immediate response. Next, Tecumseh and Green Boy were crushed into the creature’s service, and Tecumseh delivered a devastating blow to Argent, rendering him unconscious before the creature’s maw.

When Argent fell, the strange mist that perplexed you upon first entering the sanctum gained form. Four floating fleshy knots emerged from the fog and began to descend on Argent’s body. The thing grew noticeably agitated at their emergence, its limbs readying to defend its prize.

Nala, Thorin, Avelis, Sorin, and Thunderflute staged a counterattack in an effort to rescue their comrades, cleaving through the mess of tentacles. Unfortunately, it was all for naught, as Nala fell under the thing’s influence. Satisfied with its new slaves, the thing directed them towards its maw, where they were all promptly consumed. New polyps emerged from the walls after each. With Argent as its last meal, the thing receded into the chapel surfaces, back from whence it came. The polyps erupted soon after, revealing your taken comrades. Derack, Tecumseh, Green Boy, Nalla, and Argent were back, though they had been visibly altered by their experience.

What happened to you and your comrades, and what consequences will you incur? Can you still trust your brothers in arms? Can you trust yourself? What purpose does the summoning circle hold? What connection does the gibbering mouther have to you? What secrets does the bronze orrery hold? The mystery and peril grow with each step.

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Exiles of the Dragon God (Part III)

The party swung open the door to be greeted by an icy obstacle course. Four wood and iron pillars rotated in the main section of the room, driven, you presumed, by the two water wheels along the northern and southern walls. Periodically, they would release a blast of alchemically chilled air, coating every surface in their immediate vicinity with a sheen of ice. Iron bars bisected the room, with a frozen iron gate, continuously blasted by the pillars, the only way to the other side. A lone kobold, perhaps the first victim of this lethal mechanism, stood in perfect stillness before the door.

You had little opportunity to study and thwart the device before a kobold entered the room behind the iron bars. Seeing you, it warned the others that the intruders had survived their encounter with Nuhrchauk, and someone should alert someone called Vyrvyr. At that point, the warren was back on alert, and the party was harried by kobolds and drakes from all sides as they tried to pass the freezing pillars.

Bravely, or perhaps foolishly, Avelis teleported to the other side of the bars, allowing him to deal with the door without risk from the blasts of cold. Unfortunately, it also cut him off from support from the rest of the party, and left him vulnerable to a band of kobolds entering from the north. Tecumseh braved the ice and attempted to stop one of the water wheels, but the minotaur found the devices a challenge, and was soon distracted by several archers firing weakening poisons. The rest of the party held off the assault, and eventually convinced the kobolds that their continued health relied on a speedy retreat.

With the living threat gone, Avelis was able to open the door and found half of Utaalk’s missing reagents, while Green Boy and Argent circled around another path to the south in an attempt to bypass the traps. The two came upon a hatchery, where small kobolds were busily moving eggs into pipes along the eastern wall. Showing mercy, the two stayed their hands and allowed the young kobolds to depart in safety. However, some in the party were hungry for revenge/omelets. A check of the hatchery found no remaining kobold eggs, but three viable drake eggs. The party decided to hold onto them, to either sell them or hatch and train them.

With the party regrouped, the only other option was to head west, towards the chamber that Itsu told you held the alabaster egg. Green Boy scouted through one of the pipes, seeing only three kobolds that appeared to be worshipping the egg, which had been placed on a pillar above a large pile of coins and other valuables. As you prepared to burst in, hoping to catch the kobolds off guard, the staff-wielding priestess in the middle, Vyrvyr, spoke, taunting your caution and urging you to fight her for the “Seal of Iere.” And fight you did, rapidly slaying her two guards before Azael went to land the final blow on her.

Calling down his divine might, Azael went to run Vyrvyr through. But, too late he noticed that the kobold had made no effort to defend herself from his blow. As her blood ran out along Azael’s blade, Vyrvyr laughed. “Did you think the chosen of Iere would be so defenseless?” she asked, as her blood turned into rifefire before exploding around her. Azael, Tecumseh, and Thorin were sent flying away. The rimefire coalesced into a maelstrom of energy in the shape of a dragon, with Vyrvyr at its center. In a matter of seconds, Vyrvyr dispatched Tecumseh, Thorin, and Green Boy before finally succumbing to the fires of Avelis’s magic. The kobold threat was no more, leaving you alone with the object of your quest: the alabaster egg.

Azael, Paladin of Bahamut, thought it appropriate that he be the one to retrieve the egg. However, upon taking it he was overcome with a desire to venture forth, beyond the western wall of the room, which was emblazoned by a cryptic arcane lock. The rest of you also became interested in both the egg and this lock. Green Boy discerned that, while the egg could easily be mistaken for alabaster, it was in fact organic in nature. Avelis had no luck in determining anything beyond a vague sense of magic emanating from the egg. Argent, however, had a more violent reaction, as he passed out before he could even give a passing examination, with Ralse screaming and vanishing before Argent even hit the ground.

After Argent had recovered, Itsu emerged from a side room to congratulate you on your accomplishment and offer his thanks and assistance in healing your wounds. During this interaction, Itsu noticed something unusual about Green Boy’s eyes that caused the kenku to ask if Green Boy was a member of a reclusive elf tribe called the Faerlin. Itsu explained that Green Boy’s eyes had the appearance of someone who had been exposed to the black water plague, which devastated the Faerlin some forty years ago before Itsu’s clan found them and cured the illness. The kenkus also helped the Faerlin track down and slay the source of the plague: dark spirits that had infested the elves’ forest.

Itsu also provided what knowledge he could on the strange markings incorporated into the arcane lock. He explained that the symbols were part of a script used by his missing brethren, representing both letters and numbers. The reason he survived for as long as he did as a captive of the kobolds was due to Vyrvyr’s interest in those symbols, and he used his knowledge to make sure he was more valuable alive than dead.

With Itsu’s help and Azael’s translation of Vyrvyr’s research, Avelis, Sorin, and Argent were able to figure out the command word that released the lock, “Dreams Beyond,” and reveal a hidden passageway.

Your work in the sewer is not yet complete. The alabaster egg calls for you to venture forward and eliminate that which is “wrong” beyond the lock, and Revus Coldwald still hopes that you will find the source of the Flowing Barrel’s curse.

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Exiles of the dragon God (Part II)

At the death of Ralse, the party was not eager to rush into combat. Avelis used his fey abilities to teleport past a blocked pipe and further scout out the situation, gaining you precious information on the upper level of the room. But, the few extra minutes you spent in preparation was also used by the kobold guardians, and would nearly cost Argent his life.

For the sorcerer made a break for the nearest staircase, leaving the rest of the party behind and forgetting that he was dealing with kobolds, who just love to trap things. Before he knew it, the stairs were covered in recently-ignited burning oil, and he was stuck in the flames. A poisoned arrow knocked him unconscious within the inferno, and it was a race against time for Tecumseh to revive him.

When you thought the stakes could not get any more dire, the kobolds gained a wave of reinforcements in the form of several rodents of unusual size and javelin-chucking minions.

Somehow, though, despite my best efforts, you persevered, and those kobolds that were not sliced in twain fled with their meager lives.

Afterwards, the party was faced with a choice: travel down the corridor the rats emerged from, or examine a large, locked door. Unable to resist the allure of sturdy oak and well-crafted hinges (except for Thorin, who seemed to have a strong aversion to them), you went for the door. You noticed that the walls around the door had some strange markings that must have been decades old. Argent recognized them as some form of thieves’ cryptography, though he could make no sense of their meaning.

Satisfied that the markings were not magical in nature, and that they wouldn’t kill you for messing with the door, Thorin and Tecumseh pushed into the room beyond and were immediately attacked by an old, bolt-throwing homunculus. The dilapidated construct proved little challenge for the heroes, who actually showed far more concern with a collection of barrels that were strewn around the room, as well as four floor grates.

As Green Boy set to the task of lighting the barrels on fire (some filled with oil, some filled with rotting vegetable and animal matter), Tecumseh and Thorin decided to dump the remaining contents down the grates, at which point you discovered the grates were removable and led to a massive chamber underneath. Presented with something far more interesting to do, our heroes stopped messing around with random casks, tied ropes to convenient iron handles in the wall, and descended.

It was not long after the entire party descended that they learned the true purpose of the chamber: to house a massive carrion crawler the kobolds referred to as “Nuhrchauk,” the Green Ugly. And not long after that you regretted not finishing up with the barrels, as a wave of kobolds poured in to the upper room to harass your efforts against their unusual pet.

Taking stock of the situation, Thorin, the party’s lone active defender (at the time), opted to leave the HUGE aberrant beast to the squishiest members of the party by climbing back up the rope to attack some piddling humanoid reptiles. Fortunately, he was joined by Sorin, as more kobold reinforcements arrived to harry the dwarf.

Back in the lower chamber, things were looking grim, as Nuhrchauk wasted no time in taking down Avelis, and then turned on Tecumseh. The brave minotaur managed to revive the fallen wizard before succumbing to the crawler’s poisoned tentacles himself, leaving Avelis, Argent, and Green Boy to run for their lives while plinking away at the green monstrosity. Just as Nurhchauk was bearing down on Argent to give the sorcerer his second encounter with death that day, Green Boy pierced the crawler’s heart with an arrow, bringing the creature down.

The death roar of Nuhrchauk distressed the remaining kobold above, who had succeeded in bringing Thorin his first near-death experience. Unwisely, he fled to the nearest grate to witness the beast’s demise, only to be tossed down the hole by Sorin.

Beaten and exhausted, you decided that the room, though fetid, was defensible enough to rest in, provided you could convince the remaining kobolds that you had actually been defeated. You propped the corpse of Nurhchauk up in the center of the room, and retreated to one of the corners out of sight, managing to rest without incident.

The next day, you emerged from the chamber and into an access tunnel, where a crude mural had been drawn, depicting the kobolds acquiring an egg from a dragon, driving back an oncoming horde of monsters, fleeing with the egg to the city, and worshiping it. Muffled cries of pain from the north grabbed your attention, and Green Boy and Avelis moved to investigate.

The sound originated from a pipe much like the ones that the kobolds use to move through this place. However, the far end was completely barred off. On the other side of the bars was a shackled and gagged kenku being tormented by a pair of kobold guards. Green Boy dispatched the two without incident, and you freed the crow-man, who was most grateful. He introduced himself as Itsu, and told you what information he could, including drawing a crude map for you. When asked about Bathylynn’s egg, he seemed confused, and insisted that the kobolds did possess something like you described, but that it had been in their possession for a century, and that it lay just beyond the door to his cell.

However, blocked by steel bars, that might as well have been on the other side of the world. Unable to help Itsu further, Green Boy and Avelis returned to the party.

You are standing by a wooden door, the sound of groaning wood, punctuated by regular thuds comes from the other side. Itsu described this room as an old training ground for the kenku clan that used to live here, but he is unsure if the kobolds have done anything to it.

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Exiles of the Dragon God (Part I)

The party responded to a mysterious summons, requesting that you stay at the Flowing Barrel Inn overnight, an establishment that, two weeks ago, gained a reputation for being cursed. Not a single soul slept soundly that night, and you all experienced strange visions. In the morning, you questioned the owner, Revus Coldwald, about the curse. You learned that 30 years ago, a tower belonging to the sage Ahzrad stood at this very spot. The sage was renowned for his treaties on astrology and his expertly crafted homunculi, but he eventually grew insane and cursed the young daughter of one of Vor Shelath’s noble families. The tower was raided and razed, and the land left undeveloped until 10 years ago, when Revus, against the advice of the city’s residents, built his inn.

The party was deeply invested in this mystery, and you started to make plans to tear the inn down, erect some cranes, and start the month-long process of digging out the foundation to see if you could get to the tower’s underground remains, when the person who summoned you walked through the Flowing Barrel’s doorway. Her name was Bathylynn, an Eladrin priestess of Bahamut with healthy assets and not much to cover them. She said that she had been on her way to found a shrine to the Platinum Dragon at the Shattered Peak when she was ambushed by kobolds. While she managed to fight them off, the crafty reptiles stole the sacred relic Bathylynn carried: an alabaster egg. The priestess tracked the kobolds to Vor Shelath’s sewers, and promised you 200 gold if you retrieved the artifact for her.

The party, motivated by virtue and not impure thoughts, readily agreed to help. Upon hearing that you were going to brave the sewers, Revus asked that the party explore under the Flowing Barrel, to see if you could find the source of the establishment’s curse while you were down there. Surprisingly, the flat-chested male managed to enlist the aid of our heroes, and in exchange he directed you to speak with either Caineth Aldread of the Garda, or Van Nath, the nexus of Vor Shelath’s criminal underworld, to get a better handle on the location of the kobold warren and how to reach it. At the direction of Azael, the party’s tiefling paladin, you chose to go with Caineth.

The party also learned that the city’s alchemist, Otkin Utaalk, had been robbed by the kobolds of some reagents for his rimefire fireworks. He offered to pay for the return of two crates, worth a total of 200 gold.

In the sewers, the party faced a myriad of challenges, including an improbable 30-foot-wide river, magic wards, and an anti-social wererat, who Green Boy managed to gain the trust of through the wererat’s pet fire beetle, Ember. The wererat informed Green Boy that, indeed, the kobolds did nest near the ruins of the sage’s tower.

It was not long after that you found the warren, and battled swarms of blood-sucking stirges and the kobold’s outer sentries, who poured out from the surrounding pipes. Victorious, you prepare to go deeper, approaching the entrance to a large room. Unfortunately, you have just seen your scout—Argent’s demonic familiar—disappear in a flash of flame and smoke when an arrow pierced him from the north.

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Introduction

80 years ago, the Great Frostwyrm Iere, dragon tyrant of the city of Vor Shelath, met her end when members of the Brothers of the White Scale brought her mountain lair down on top of her. Since then, the city prospered. But now, the dragon’s grave has been disturbed, and creatures that once called its collapsed tunnels home find themselves chased out, forced to find new accommodations.

You are staying at the Flowing Barrel Inn, a once successful establishment in the city, renowned for its fine food, selection of ales, and warm beds. Now, it sits cursed, a place where the brave and foolish come to stay the night. A notice for work brought you and a crowd of would-be heroes to this forsaken place. By dawn, only a handful of you remain, the rest driven off by nightmares and visions.

You wait in the tavern with the other survivors, reminiscing about past adventures and commiserating over the rough night, when the door swings open. Your client has arrived.

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