Ashes of the Empire

Into Gloomwrought
Session 30 Recap

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  • The PCs begin the grim task of collecting the bodies of the fallen Vistani and gathering of wood to build a pyre. In the meantime Lu and Ulmo begin the long ritual to bring Jack back from the dead. Finally, as night falls, the dead are gathered and Jack returns to the land of the living.

  • Jack bids farewell to his people, and lights the pyre. Thinking to get away from the area, lest the fire attract attention, the party moves south along the coastline.

  • Jack tells the party that the best option for them to get to Gloomwrought quickly is to head to the House of Black Lanterns, an inn known for the ability to move from place to place – some say at the whim of its owner, Yarol.

  • Jack does not know Yarol that well, so he cannot really influence him to help, though he can make an introduction and hope it at least gets Yarol to listen to their plight. Jack knows where the inn was a week ago, and hopes that it is still there.

  • After a night and a day of travel, the heroes come upon the House of Black Lanterns, right where Jack last saw it (to Jack’s relief). The adventurers enter and order food and drink. Jack introduces the party to Yarol, the House’s owner. They state their case to him and though he seems sympathetic to their plight, all he tells them is that there is a man in Room 222 above who might be able to help them, and they help him in return.

  • The party heads upstairs to Room 222 where they meet Erik Harken, an exiled noble from Gloomwrought. With him is a Shadar-Kai woman named Elenni, a Goliath named Gorek, an elf named Felwyn, and Thrumvok, who had parted ways with the party when entering the Shadowfell.

  • Erik explains his situation – his uncle seized power for himself when his father died two years ago, and forced Erik to flee for his life and abandon his birthright. Since then he has schemed, plotted, and worked to undermine his uncle and weaken his position within the structure of Gloomwrought society.

  • Erik explains that the time is now ripe for him to infiltrate the House Harken compound, and take power back from his uncle. Unfortunately, he needs someone, preferably outsiders, to provide a distraction so the guards do not notice his team’s entry and his man on the inside can get them in. If the party agrees to be that distraction, Erik will help them locate, and get to, the library they seek.

  • The heroes agree, and part company for the night. Back downstairs, they inform Yarol that they will be helping Erik, and he hints that the House “may decide to help get them there”. He provides them rooms for the evening for free, and the party beds down for the night.

  • The next morning, the party awakens to find that the House has moved to Gloomwrought, finding a location in the Fettered Ward amongst festhalls, brothels, and other entertainment venues. The party coordinates with Erik and his crew – that night they act after midnight. Erik’s group will wait on the PCs’ distraction to go.

  • The party heads out towards the House Harken compound to reconnoiter the area and formulate a plan. On the way they purchase some potions and some greek fire from a local alchemist, thinking they may come in handy later. They also locate an abandoned storefront near the Dust Quarter, where the compound is, to use as a safehouse

  • At the compound, they find no surprises – all is as Erik described, and they get a plan together.

  • Night comes and the party begins their distraction. Neighl uses a potion to levitate over the wall and set fire to the guard shack with the greek fire. The rest of the party come through the gate and engage the guards. The alarm goes out and more guards come running. After trading blows with the guards a few times, the party retreats into the night and heads for the safehouse, confident that they gave Erik plenty of time.

  • The next morning the party heads for the House before heading to the compound to see Erik. When they get there, they order food and eat. A courier arrives with a message for them. It appears to be from Thrumvok. It warns the party not to go to the compound, that their coup failed and everyone was killed except for him and Elenni. He also notes he will try to get them the library location from Elenni if she awakens.

  • Neighl uses a Scroll of Sending to send a message back to him and tells him to send the location of the library, if he can get it, to their safehouse. Thrumvok agrees, and tells the party he is taking Elenni from the city, as the guard is likely looking for all of them.

  • The PCs head for the safehouse that evening, hoping to remain inconspicuous. They have a brief run-in with the guard, but manage to bluff their way out of it. Finally, they arrive at the safehouse and find a map of Gloomwrought left for them; on it the location of the library is marked.

  • The library seems to be located in the Shattered Isles, an area of the city that suffered some great cataclysm some time ago and is now home to desperately poor people and restless spirits.

  • Setting out for the Shattered Isles, the heroes continue to avoid notice from the guard. Once they cross into the area, Ulmo uses his skills as a warlock to keep the rabble and pickpockets at bay.

  • At one point the party runs afoul of some undead bard and his orc zombie “groupies”, but manage to handle them until they lose interest and the bard begins to chase some other “lost love”.

  • Finally, they find the library. It is a large square, windowless building standing amongst the ruins of other less-imposing buildings. The doors stand closed with only a carved symbol on them.

  • Neighl takes Tavon’s hand, cuts his palm, and places it on the symbol. His blood flows into the lines of the symbol, outlining it. Then, the doors click open. Finally, the heroes have arrived.
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Collateral Damages
Session 29 Recap

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  • Knowing that time is not on their side, the heroes make ready to journey back to the Vistani camp with “Handsome” Jack, so they can then make their way as quick as possible to the city of Gloomwrought. It is there that they believe the Taru Maaj, the grand library of Vor Rukoth, was transported nearly a thousand years ago.

  • The party bids farewell to the Vale, as Jack leads them back into the shadowdark. It isn’t long before they hear the baying of the hounds as last time. This time, however, the party’s presence is not only known, but judging by the direction of the sounds, they are being herded into an ambush.

  • At the direction of the rest of the party, Jack tried to find favorable terrain for the inevitable battle, or at least neutral terrain. After a bit longer, he does indeed find such a place, and the party makes ready for battle.
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  • Only moments later, from the dark shadows strides an androgynous half-ogre looking creature. It calls out its hatred for Jack’s trespasses and promises an appropriate punishment. From the other direction, strides an enormous ghostly hound. The party tries to reason with the creature, but it refuses to accept anything less than Jack himself.

  • Battle erupts, and two more smaller hounds join the fight. The battle is tough, but eventually the party is victorious over the creature and its minions. Three party members, however, were afflicted with the hounds curse of ill omen: Geigan, Neighl, and Lu.

  • After taking a bit to bandage their wounds, the party heads out again, following Jack as before. A few hours later, they round a tree and discover they have left the shadowdark and are a short distance from the clearing where the Vistani make camp. Unfortunately, the smell of death and the light of fires can be seen from the trees.

  • Rushing to the clearing, the party discovers that the Vistani camp was attacked. Bodies lie strewn about the place, tents shredded, and wagons aflame. In a panic, Jack begins to root around the camp, looking for survivors, but moments later the party discovers that it is not alone.

  • From the ashes of the camp stride a succubus as well as several pain devil minions. The she-devil boldly states that they are here on behalf of Lady Najala to retrieve the Varrik heirs and that the Vistani were simply collateral damage. Battle erupts a split second later.

  • The party fights valiantly and eventually overcomes the devils, but not before Jack suffers a mortal wound and dies on the battlefield, amongst the bodies of his people.

  • Once the enemies are vanquished, the adventurers search the camp for survivors and to ensure no more enemies are lying in wait. At the southern edge of camp, the party discovers that some Vistani seem to have escaped into the woods, evident by their tracks. However, there are also tracks belonging to the devils who seem to be in pursuit.

  • Leaving Jack’s body behind for now, the party follows the tracks for about an hour before noticing that the Vistani seem to be very good at evading pursuit. Since their resources are a bit spent, the party decides to return to the camp in hopes that the devils will not find their quarry.

  • Once back at the camp, the party retreats to a space just inside the tree-line of the woods in order to rest for the night. Night passes uneventfully, and Lu is able to shake off the effects of the hounds’ curse. Later, in the light of false dawn the devils come back into camp dragging a bag filled with grisly trophies; it appears they got their quarry after all.

  • The party, taking advantage of surprise, rushes from the woods and lay into the devils. The battle is easily won by the fully-rested party, and the Vistani avenged.

  • After a brief and silent meal, the party begins the task of gathering the dead in order to give them proper burial. They also begin preparations for a ritual to bring “Handsome” Jack back from the dead.
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Basement Dweller
Session 28 Recap

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  • The party is welcomed in the Vale, and given the opportunity to clean up, refresh, and eat. After, they have more conversations with Lu’s family (her uncle the regent, her cousin the captain of the guards, and her other cousin, a wizard and scholar

  • Lu began the process of bequeathing lands to the Vistani per her agreement with “Handsome” Jack.

  • Talks with Istiria Zolerii revealed that Lu was researching information about how one “Domain of Dread”, as places cursed like the Vale are known, was believed to have escaped and reversed its curse. Little was written about it in most places, that was why Lu had left before – to find somewhere where more information could be found.

  • The heroes also discussed the palace basement. They believe that there is some entity lurking in the chambers below, something Ulmo confirms. The eladrin admit to the occasional feeling of “creepiness” when it was still in use, but no one has experienced anything else while down there.

  • Vaerlan states that the stairs to the basement were collapsed many years ago, upon Lu’s orders, but he knows of another way to get in via the storage cellars. He agrees to show the party how.

  • The party makes its plans to enter the next morning, after a good night’s rest. Neighl and Luna steal away that night, to be alone.

  • On the morrow, the party prepares to sally forth into the old servant’s quarters while Luna stays behind to begin wedding preparations.

  • The party ventures into the storage cellar and enters the old servant’s quarters via a small door used by servants to access the storeroom. Upon entering, Ulmo enters a state of concentration in order to try and locate the source of the evil he has been feeling.

  • The adventurers move through rooms long-abandoned, and are interrupted by a group of shades. The battle is tough, as the foul creatures’ insubstantial nature makes them difficult to hit. However, the heroes eventually win and destroy the creatures.

  • Heading deeper into the abandoned halls, the party encounters a vampire lurking in one of the rooms. The vampire, one of the murdered servants returned to the scene, launches into a hate-fueled attack on Lu as swarms of awakened rot grubs gather from cracks in the walls and floor. The heroes fight well and the enemies are vanquished with little trouble.

  • Finally, the party comes to the chambers of the head servant. It is here that Ulmo says that the entity lurks. He explains, before the party enters, that he must force the entity to reveal itself in order for it to be vanquished. He surmises that it has no reason to make itself vulnerable here, so it must be forced to. But, he explains, that it is of the utmost importance that he maintain complete concentration on making the entity reveal itself. If he waivers, even for a moment, the entity will disappear and regain part of its strength.

  • The battle begins shortly upon entering, but as soon as the party strikes the entity they discover that because of Ulmo’s link to the creature, any harm they cause it will be caused to Ulmo in return. The pain does not break Ulmo’s concentration, thankfully, but falling unconscious would do so.

  • Suddenly, the battle has become much more difficult as the party has to be careful to hurt the entity only enough to where they can heal Ulmo and begin their assault again.

  • After a long and protracted battle, the heroes finally win out by the narrowest of margins. At the end, Ulmo lay unconscious but alive. The creature, however, was down.

  • As the entity faded away, defeated, another revealed itself. The spirit of Lu’s mother, Jhanandra, executed for her crimes long ago, appeared before the party and explained herself.

  • She told of how, long ago, she made a pact with this entity “He of Many Faces”. The knowledge and power it granted her was useful and The Vale and her people flourished because of that. Over time, though, the entity’s demands became more distasteful and Jhanandra sought a way to break her pact with it.

  • So, Jhanandra performed a powerful ritual to banish “He of Many Faces” and break the pact. It seemed to work and she went about her business for the next several years. What she did not realize, however, was that the entity was only diminished and the link was not severed.

  • When the entity was finally able to reform itself, it sought to get revenge on Jhanandra. It kept its distance, and used the link between itself and Jhanandra to corrupt and shatter her mind. It used nightmares, sleep deprivation, visions, and other things to make his former supplicant seem to be losing her mind.

  • When Jhanandra finally snapped and killed the servants in their sleep, “He of Many Faces” reveled in its victory. As Jhanandra was executed, it allowed her a single clear moment where it revealed that it was not her own doing, but rather its, that caused this; just to torture her in her final moments.

  • Unknown evil powers within the Shadowfell took notice of these events and moved into the Vale. Mists crept from the borders and engulfed the land and its people. A new Domain of Dread was created and with it, its new master: “He of Many Faces”.

  • As Jhanandra’s spirit left her body, the clarity she was given by “He of Many Faces” allowed her to sense all of this happening. Her people would be trapped in this doomed realm, tortured for an eternity by this entity she brought here. She could not abide by that. So, in an act of desperation, she used what remained of the fast-receding link to “He of Many Faces” and bound her spirit to it. If she could not defeat it, she could suppress it and at least give her trapped people a chance at a somewhat normal life without this cruel being acting as overlord.

  • The spirit of Jhanandra explained that this is how the entity came to be trapped in the basement, and why it could not reveal itself. Jhanandra’s spirit kept it from manifesting its power in the Vale, something that the party just unwittingly ruined.

  • Since the entity cannot truly die within the Vale, the spirit explained, it will only be diminished for a time, and will eventually return. Unfortunately for the Vale, it will no longer be bound by Jhanandra’s spirit when it does return – that link is now well and truly severed. Instead, when it returns, it will be able to exert its will over its domain, finally.

  • The spirit begged for Lu to find some way to break the curse and free their people.
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Homecoming
Session 27 Recap

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  • The party sails their stolen ship further west across the dark bay. Using the maps found on-board, Larissa does her best to try and locate the Vistani camp that their old captain mentioned could help them get to the Vale.

  • Finally, as the gloom of day yields to the dark of night, the ship comes within sight of the opposite shore. The dangers of the Shadowfell are not just for land, it seems, and the party is soon set upon by some twisted cross between men and crabs, scuttling their way up the hull and onto the deck. The PCs fend them off, narrowly avoiding the death of Mr. Burke. Finally, the crabmen are defeated and the their sahuagin leader flees back into the dark waters.
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  • Although their current location is not quite safe, as evidenced by the attack, the heroes decide that trying to navigate in the dark would be more dangerous, so the decision is made to drop anchor and try to rest for the night and continue to the Vistani camp in the morning. Thankfully, the night passes uneventfully with only the hint of an attack, but none forthcoming.

  • The next morning, the party continues south along the shore until they see a shoreline clearing dotted with colorful tents and wagons. People mill about the camp tending to livestock, mending tents and wagons.

  • Anchoring as close as safely possible, the party takes the rowboats ashore and are met by a few Vistani men. As the gypsies look the party over, their leader’s eyes land on Lu and go wide. The man, Domarien, calls her “My queen” and just like that the party are honored guests in the Vistani camp.

  • Domarien sees to the party’s comforts with guest tents, food, drink, and water to wash up with. He tells the party that “Handsome” Jack, their leader, is away but will return the next day.

  • The heroes mill about the camp and take in what they can of the Vistani culture. Finally, that evening, the party is notified that Jack has returned and will attend the feast in their honor. He wishes to meet with them first, however, in his tent. The party agrees and are led to Jack‘s tent.

  • The adventurers meet with the Vistani leader, Handsome Jack, and are made welcome. It becomes obvious to all that he knows Lu from before, though in what capacity is not so obvious. Jack offers to listen to the party’s tale, but only after they are properly feasted. He leads them to the large communal feast tent where a variety of foods and drink are presented with musicians playing and people dancing.

  • After the night’s revelry calms down, Jack listens to the party’s tale and what it is they need his help with.

  • Jack claims that he has indeed heard rumors of a building (perhaps a library, perhaps not) having appeared from thin air within the city of Gloomwrought far to the south many years ago. He also can assist the party in either getting them to the Vale, Gloomwrought, or both, as well as some sort of charm to help Geigan survive being away from his home plane.

  • Jack takes Lu aside and makes his price known. Whatever it is, he tells her to think about it overnight and answer him in the morning. Lu doesn’t seem willing to tell the party what it is.

  • The next day the party discovers that Lu has agreed to Jack‘s price, though she still does not divulge what it is. The heroes agree that they must head for the Vale, and preparations for the journey begin. Jack cautions the party that the way he must take them, “the dark ways” is treacherous.

  • When it is time to leave, Jack leads the adventurers into the shadowy landscape of the Shadowfell. The party follows him as he rounds a large twisted tree, and suddenly the landscape becomes even darker. What was once a land with a grey sky and grey features has become something darker and more sinister, as the shadows themselves seem to come alive and the very air hangs heavy with gloom. The party has arrived in the Shadowdark.

  • After hours of skulking through the shadowdark, following Jack and trying to remain hidden from the prying eyes hidden in the darkness, the party finally hears the baying of hounds. Jack picks up the pace, but despite that they grow louder. Finally, the party stops and prepares for battle. Large grey hounds emerge from the shadow and attack.

  • The battle is difficult, but the party wins in the end. Moving on, Jack finally turns another tree and leads the party out of the shadowdark. A road through a silent forest beckons them, ahead is a stone footbridge over a small river…entrance to the Vale.

  • The party makes their way down the road into a small village. The people seem to pay little attention to the heroes, and none recognize Lu as their queen. They seem as if they are zombies going about their daily tasks with no emotion save hopelessness.

  • After arriving at the small palace, set atop a shelf on the edge of the vale, the guard recognize Lu and admit the party to the palace. Once inside, the adventurers are introduced to the rest of Lu’s family: her uncle Vaerlan, her cousin and captain of the guard Laern and her other cousin Istiria.
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All Aboard!
Session 26 Recap

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  • The party finds their way to a small village on the shore of the bay. Dreary and run-down, yet a welcome break from the constant dank of the swamp, the heroes begin their search for a ship to take them across the bay so they can resume their search for the way to the vale, Lu’s homeland.

  • The party discovers that there are two ships docked in town. One, the Recompense is captained by a devil named Vius. He offers the adventurers safe passage across the bay in exchange for a service from one of them. Said service would need to be completed within 666 days, else they would need to serve as crew on the Recompense for a period of 666 years.

  • The party, disliking the option of a ship captained by a devil and run by the damned, go to the other docked ship, the Listless, to meet her crew.

  • The crew of the Listless, mainly shadar-kai, were led by a man named Lucius. He offered safe passage for a very reasonable fee. The party, eager to be gone from this part of the shadowfell, accept the ride and set sail the next morning.

  • Shortly after the heroes set sail aboard the Listless, a massive storm sweeps through the bay and threatens to overtake the ship in short order. The captain, Lucius, makes for a small island with a sheltered cove. There, on the face of the bare island, is a ruin that can provide minimal shelter in case the storm makes its full fury known and the ship cannot withstand it.

  • Once on the island, the party and the crew make for a small cellar area, still mainly intact under the ruined ground-level buildings. As they settle in for the night, the party hears talk from the crew. Grisly talk about murdering the party, and eating them.

  • Overhearing the crew’s evil intentions, the party takes action before they can and waylay some of the crew in order to make their way to the ship. At the ship, they cast off and strand the rest of the evil crew.

  • The party makes their way, alone, to the far shore.
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Hags' Heads
Session 25 Recap

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  • The party makes their way to the Hexus Commune, where the hags await them. Thinking to fool them, the party feigns being wounded on the far shore of the lake and lure one of the hags out to investigate. The party gets the jump on her and drop her quickly.

  • On the island the other two hags await, hiding amongst the thick unnatural mist. The ruse seemed to work once, but no further activity seemed imminent, so the adventurers make their way to the island via raft. As soon as they land, the hags attack.

  • The party begins to make headway against the hags, but the mist starts to effect their judgement, poisoning both their minds and their bodies. Finally, seeming to lose the battle, the hags summon a golem from the charnel pit in the center of the island. The battle is rough, and Neighl falls.

  • Eventually, the battle is won, victory snatched from the jaws of defeat. However, Neighl still lay dead. Ulmo decided to commune with whatever dark entity he had been in contact with previously, and managed to gain the power to cast a Raise Dead ritual

  • As Ulmo cast the lengthy ritual, Luna stood vigil over Neighl, and the rest of the group searched the hags’ huts for valuables finding, amongst other things, a map detailing a village named Fellwroth to the west along the coast – a potential place to catch a ship to the Vale of Long Night.

  • Finally, Neighl’s eyes open and he tells Luna how only the thought of her kept him from slipping away, to which she swoons and kisses him passionately.

  • The party gathers their things and heads back to the hidden shrine. There they present the severed heads of the hags to the native chief and retrieve Larissa, Mr. Burke, and Tavon.

  • From the shrine the party heads west, making for the coast and the Fellwroth village. Along the way, they come across a strange boulder carved with two faces. The stone radiated very strong divination magic and when approached animated and spoke, telling the party to ask them each one question.

  • Neighl asks what Najala’s greatest weakness is. The face then replies in rhyme:

“Deep beneath the ruin warm, the lady lacks physical form. Power great but phylactery lone, no skin, nor hair, no tooth and bone.”

  • Ulmo then asks how he can return his soul to its original holder. The face then replies in rhyme something about an ancient crime and killing something in a cellar

  • The party continues heading west for a few more hours, coming to an old rickety bridge across a stretch of water. A spectral voice calls out as if calling to unseen solders to hold the bridge and not let the enemy through. As the party begins to cross, ghostly soldiers appear and form up to block their advance.

  • The party fights their way to the middle of the bridge but quickly discover that as they fell one enemy, another appears to take its place. The burned out building on the other side seems a likely place for a focus, so the party surges across and locates the skeletal remains of a soldier dressed as the ghostly ones. As soon as one of them removes an old piece of parchment from the skeleton’s hand, the ghostly soldiers fade away – “We’ve failed”
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The Hidden Shrine (Part 3)
Session 24 Recap

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  • The party decides that they would be better off trying to trick the beholder again, rather than face it in combat, even though it is likely to be on guard since the last attempt. Neighl strides into the room with a gem in-hand claiming that it is the key to getting free of the wards.

  • The beholder is wary, after the last encounter with the party but he doesn’t attack immediately. Neighl tries to sell the deception but as soon as the beholder seems on the verge of attacking, Redezza draws steel and combat is joined.

  • The party attempts to make it through the room, rather than engage the beholder, but it manages to keep some of them in the room using its fear rays, sleep rays, and other things.

  • Ulmo, seeing that the situation is getting desperate, calls out to some dark entity that he is in contact with. He offers a magical item as a sacrifice, and in return is granted great power for a few moments to lead a powerful counter-attack against the beholder.

  • The party rallies and manages to take the beast down after some difficulty. As the darkness Ulmo casts around the creature fades, the body is gone – claimed by whatever dark force the warlock conjured.

  • The heroes continue on their way through the complex and eventually find stairs leading up another level. The heroes make their way up past traps and through secret doors and eventually come to a room with four mirrors hanging on the walls.

  • One mirror, they discover, is not white glass but instead an ochre jelly. The creature leaps to attack the party, but the adventurers make quick work of it. After the battle, they discover that the acidic creature seemed to eat its way through the stone above and, over time, found its way to the interior of the shrine.

  • Smelling fresh air coming from the ochre jelly’s path down, the heroes decide this a viable escape route and send Lu up to secure ropes and pitons for the others.

  • At the top Lu is captured by native warriors, the same ones depicted in the shrine below, and one of their priests. The party, one by one, makes their way up the tube and find themselves similarly captive.

  • The party is led to the front of the pyramid-shaped shrine where they see scores of the natives below in the darkness, armed and ready to exact vengeance. The priest speaks to the party with the help of an ogre-like creature who seems allied with the natives, and demand a sacrifice as penance for trespassing. The adventurers look below and see that they have Mr. Burke, Larissa, and Tavon held with spears at their backs.

  • Neighl proposes that their mission was honorable and that they did not mean to trespass. He suggests that trial by single combat would show that their gods accept his version of it. The priest accepts it and the ogre creature is nominated as their champion.

  • Before combat can begin Neighl offers one other possible solution: a service in exchange for forgiveness of their trespass. He offers for the the party will destroy the hags, who have been menacing the natives looking for their secrets of binding primal spirits, as reparation.

  • The chief agrees but requires assurance that the party will return. The PCs agree to leave Mr. Burke, Larissa, and Tavon behind as collateral, but the chief warns them that if they do not return in two days time they will be sacrificed to placate their angry god.

  • The party heads out in haste
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The Hidden Shrine (Part 2)
Session 23 Recap

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  • Deeper into the subterranean complex the heroes delve. They are beset by a trap that boxes them in with timber walls and attempts to crush them by pouring sand on top of them. Thanks to some quick thinking that delays the sand and a concerted effort to break out, the party saves themselves and confronts the will-o-wisp that lured them down the corridor in the first place.

  • The party then makes their way through a beetle-infested room, careful not to disturb them or their nests, and finds a stairway leading up and out of the poisonous air. Unfortunately, the way is not so easy, and a large millstone comes bounding down the stairs in an effort to crush them. They manage to (mostly) avoid the heavy thing, and finally climb up and out of the foul atmosphere.

  • As soon as they are free of the lower levels, the party runs into danger nearly right away as they come to a chamber inhabited by an ancient beholder trapped here long ago. Rather than fight, the party offers to help free it if it does not kill them. The creature agrees to the bargain and the party attempts to locate what is holding the beast here.

  • Unfortunately for the beholder, the party is not successful in finding what holds it in the room, and decides the renege on their end of the bargain and flee the room, leaving the beholder howling in impotent rage.

  • Pressing on, the party negotiates a few more traps and comes to a large chamber dedicated to cats. Unfortunately the builders of this shrine left a guardian and the heroes face off against a were-jaguar. They manage to defeat it, but not before Neighl is infected with it’s disease.

  • After the creature dies, the party makes camp for a while, taking a much-needed and much-deserved rest. Afterwards, they feel a bit more refreshed and restored, and head into a secret passage they discovered in the room earlier. It would seem that the shrine’s builders would have another laugh at the party’s expense though, as they wander into a one-way teleportation trap which lands them right back into the lower levels they left earlier.

  • Taking a slightly different route back, the heroes fight their way past some guardian zombies, and into what appears to be the final resting place of a man and woman, preserved underneath shrouds and lying in repose on stone slabs. Unfortunately for the heroes, they disturb them, and the pair rise from their slumber and demand an apology. The heroes do not seem to understand and the pair grow impatient and decide to punish the interlopers instead.

  • The two fight well, using amazing fast flurries of kicks and punches. However, the party is much too savvy in combat to be so easily defeated, and thus kill the female. Deciding that his life is also in danger, the male asks for quarter and promises to mx them a potion if they spare his life.

  • The party agrees and the monk begins to mix a potion from the decanter found between the two stone slabs. Instead of giving it to them, however, he quickly downs it and falls into a deep slumber. In a rather uncharacteristic act of kindness, the party places him atop the stone bed again and places his dead woman beside him.

  • Once past the monks, the party finds themselves at the beetle room again and it is a just a short hop over the parked millstone at the bottom of the stairs before they are again out of the poisonous air. Unfortunately, they are also at the beholder’s room once again. A beholder who is probably eager to exact some revenge.
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The Hidden Shrine (Part 1)
Session 22 Recap

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  • As the next morning dawned, the heroes awoke to find the hags awaiting them. Cautiously, they started the negotiations. The hags, being primal spirits of the Shadowfell, are interested in all things related to primal spirits. They explain that many long years ago a hidden shrine from an unknown people was found deep in the swamp to the north. The people who used to own the large shrine were able to trap primal spirits and tap them for their power.

  • The hags propose to the party that if they are able to penetrate the shrine and discover the secret to these ancient people’s ability to master the primal spirits, that they will reward the party. Specifically, they will craft a powerful amulet that allows Geigan to survive in the Shadowfell.

  • As a token of their good faith, the hags provide the party with a smaller, less powerful version of the fetish they promise to craft for Geigan, which allows him to at least operate for a few days. They also give the party a map, some potions and a ritual scroll to aid them in penetrating the shrine.

  • The heroes agree and depart the hag’s commune, following the map. After the better part of a day, they happen upon old ruins sticking out of the soft, muddy ground. The shrine was near. Pushing on, they finally catch sight of the shrine itself, a large pyramid shaped stone structure rising above the swamp.

  • After a few more minutes of moving towards their goal, the party starts to hear rustling in the bushes nearby. As they move along the noises get more and more frequent and seem to be steering them towards something. Finally, the heroes come upon a large standing stone in a small clearing surrounded by muddy, moist ground. The strange runes appear to be in some language related to Supernal, but Lu is able to make out a single name: Tamoachan.

  • No sooner does Lu say the name, does the soft ground give way in a torrent of mud, vegetation, and stone. Tumbling down, the party falls and slides several stories and ends up at the bottom of a pile of rubble and mud in some strange subterranean chamber. It would seem that the shrine found them before they found it.

  • Taking stock of their situation, the party discovers that not all of them fell into the room, and that Larissa, Mr. Burke, and Tavon managed to escape it and stay on the surface. As if being split from their charges wasn’t bad enough, they also discover that the air in this chamber is foul and poisonous – lingering for too long in these lower chambers would be very detrimental. The party sets out to find a way out or at least a place where they can reach fresh air.

  • The heroes set out to explore the lower chambers and discover that the primal spirits that these people trapped so very long ago are still very much alive in this place. They manage to avoid conflict with some of the denizens, using their negotiating skills and Lu’s knack for trying to guess the language’s meaning, but in some cases diplomacy simply is not the best course, and they have to resort to violence.

  • If the guardians of the shrine weren’t bad enough, they also have to contend with traps, some deadly, and others simply damaging. In total it works to slowly wear the party down, and leaves them wondering if they will make it out before the poison gas kills them.
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Lost in the Swamp
Session 21 Recap

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  • The party arrives in a dark swamp. The air is oppressive and heavy. Shadows lurk everywhere and things seem to hide in every dark place, watching and waiting for their opportunity to strike. There is no doubt that this shadowy realm is the Shadowfell.

  • The party turns their attention to Luna, no longer a small girl but a young eladrin lady instead. Somehow the trip to the Shadowfell, her home, has returned her to her former self. She calls Lu “My Queen” and notes that she is actually her sister. The party listens intently as she explains how Lu went away about a year ago, leaving her people and sisters behind, on some mission.

  • After Lu did not return, her sisters Lu’Nianna and Lu’Niandra made their way to the material plane to find her. It did not end well for Lu’Nianna – the little girl blone-haired girl Lu remembers as Luna before she met the party. Now, Lu’Niandra has brought her sister, her queen, home.

  • While Luna explains all this, the adventurers notice that Geigan seems ill. After a few moments, he collapses. It seems, because of his origin as a primal spirit of the material plane, being in this strange place is deadly for him.

  • Thinking that they can locate help for Geigan as well as make their way to Lu’s homeland, The Vale of Long Night, the party heads out towards where they think the shoreline will be. It isn’t long, though, before the residents of the swamp rise up to attack them.

  • After being attacked a few times and finding themselves unable to navigate in the strange swamp, the heroes run across a wary village girl who tentatively offers to lead them to her small village. The party agrees and set out with the local girl. After some time, they come to a small collection of swamp huts along the shore of a small lake or large pond.

  • After crossing the water on a small boat, the girl walks to the center of the island where another woman stands on the edge of a large trash pit. They then make their intentions clear – they have lured the adventurers here to take them captive and eat them.

  • The heroes manage to overcome the women, now revealed as swamp hags, as well as their pet otyugh. They then begin to rifle through the huts, looking for valuables and a place to rest for the night.

  • A mere hour later, the remaining hags of the commune return and note the absence of their fellow hags and the otyugh. They locate the party and call them out, looking for vengeance.

  • Lacking a good escape route and having no desire to fight the hags in a weakened state, the party convinces them that they might be useful to the hags. The hags confer, and decide that they can indeed use the party to further their goals. They allow them to rest unmolested, and agree to discuss terms in the morning.

  • The party rests in the dead hag’s hut, wondering what challenge the hags will put before them in the morning.
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