Stygian Crypts and Shining Heroes

Phaervorul Saved
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Zirithian Defeated!

After defeating Lord Carrion, the gatekeeper, the heroes entered The Black Gate.

Within they were engulfed in darkness, and wracked with pain. Garyn, the dwarf, was told to surrender his might, so that his companions might live. He chose to do so, and voluntarily failed the test of endurance, granting a boon to his companions.

The heroes then found themselves on a featureless plain, facing a robed figure, which asked them to prove that they were dead, to pass into Orcus’ realm. Each hero had to convince the figure that he could not be alive to pass.

Suddenly, the heroes found themselves facing Orcus, demon prince of the undead. All of the heroes except Klyred, were asked to pledge themselves to him, slay Zirithian, and bring him back the sword, Nightbringer. Garyn, Grant and Vier’gara agreed. Smimleton refused. Klyred was asked to beg for mercy, and also refused.

After successfully completing the three challenges, the heroes found themselves in a hallway, in Zirithian’s Ziggurat.

They soon discovered that Lareen had been taken prisoner. After much discussion within the party, Klyred healed her, and she agreed to help them destroy Zirithian.

Once the heroes engaged Zirithian, Lareen professed her “undying” love for him, which he forcefully rebuffed, telling her that he never loved her, and he was only using her to prevent mortals from entering his realm, a task which she failed miserably at.

Once Zirithin was destroyed, however, Lareen and the other undead crumbled to dust.

Zirithian’s sword Nightbringer fell to the floor with a clang, and two aspects of Orcus appeaered, one with a mighty claw, and one with a giant eye.

Nightbringer was scooped up by Garyn who immediately broke his pact with Orcus, and plunged the sword into the giant eye, fulfilling the Keeper’s bargain.

This set off a chain of events that ejected the heroes from Deadhold, and caused Garyn to immediately lose almost all of his strength. He was extremely exhausted, and on the brink of death.

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Into Deadhold

The heroes fought their way through Deadhold, attempting to navigate the city with as little notice as possible.

One evening as they slept, the heroes were ensnared in a shared dream. In the dream, Zirithian himself challenged the heroes to prove their worth to him. Each hero had to show Zirithian, through skills, or attacks, that they were worthy of facing him. During the dream, Zirithian made it clear to the heroes that regardless of the outcome, Matron Urlvrain would betray them in the end.

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Chasing The Traitor

After discovering that Jhaelant, the drow wizard, was not the mastermind behind the attack on Phaervorul, the heroes reported to Matron Urlvrain. She was somewhat surprised, given their history. She knew that Jhaelant wanted to accomplish the downfall of Phaervorul.

Matron Urlvrain suggested that the heroes look for Lareen, a priest of Lolth who had been missing from Court for some time. Perhaps Lareen would have some information about the attack on Phaervorul.

The heroes found Lareen, in her villa, surrounded by undead. She had been turned into a vampire lord, but slipped through the heroes grasp before she could be slain.

The heroes found a portal to Deadhold, a strange realm in the Shadowfell.

Passing through the portal, the heroes discovered a Bridge of Webs. Bodaks and ghouls attempted to stop their advance, but were unsuccessful. At the far southwest end of the bridge, the heroes found a large black sphere that ultimately turned out to be a portal to Deadhold itself.

Once through the sphere, the heroes were greeted by The Keeper. They were tested by The Keeper as to their resolve for continuing.

The heroes were able to convince The Keeper that they should pass, by agreeing to a bargain: The heroes must acquire the sword Nightbringer from Zirithian and plunge the weapon into the eye of Orcus. The Keeper stated the heroes would “…know the time to strike when it appears before you.”

Once The Keeper allowed them to pass, the heroes had to forge the desert wasteland.

After ten grueling hours in the desert, the heroes came upon Hordethrone, a small outpost that sits within a plateau in the midst of the Sea of Rot.

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Saving Orontor

The heroes moved on and found a building that was decorated in a style that was very uncommon here.

Crude and uneven steps carved into the side of a rocky rise lead to an impressive building of white stone. Its outer walls are decorated with bas-relief images of wheat sheaves, laden sacks, balance scales, and other symbols of commerce.

Upon entering the Saruun Embassy, the heroes had to defeat a Drow battle wight commander and several Drow battle wights, before finding Orontor, one of the Mages of Saruun, cowering in the ambassador’s quarters.

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Of Wizards and Mushrooms

The heroes set about fixing the trapdoor in the floor, after they realized that this ruined house of nobility would probably be a great place to hole up in when they needed a rest.

The next day, the heroes left the house, and began to explore the city further.

Coming upon a barricaded house, that showed almost no signs of damage, the heroes proceeded to unlock the doors and go in.

They were greeted by a stone statue depicting a regal elf seated on a throne of books and three glass tanks lining the wall, each containing a creature floating in bright, blue fluid.

Upon moving into the house, they were greeted, and attacked, by a Web Golem and a Gloomweb. After nearly deafeating them, they were greeted by Jhaelant, a Drow who seemed unconcerned with what was transpiring in the city. He berated them for waking him, and asked them to leave.

Since the adventurers were there to save the city, they decided to heed his words, and explore elsewhere.

After leaving the laboratory, the heroes moved northeast, and found a fungus farm. They were immediately attacked by cave widows, and a couple of other almost spiders, which they were able to defeat handily.

Moving through the city, the heroes discovered some ransacked shops. They were set upon by an umber hulk and a bizarre purple dragon Drow creature. Additionally, two dragonborn raiders were there, too.

During the battle, an abyssal breach appeared above the shops, and wreaked havoc, mostly with the heroes opponents.

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Entering Phaervorul

After returning Vier’gara to the realm of the living, the heroes entered Phaervorul, and began exploring the Low District.

Low District

Slave Quarters

Upon entering the town, the heroes began exploring the low district. The first building they came upon was a walled compound atop a slight rise. After seeing movement inside, and the large set of doors open, the heroes moved to investigate.

The heroes found themselves inside a courtyard, covered in bedrolls, blankets and partly devoured drow guards, flanked by two savage minotaurs and a war troll! Along the battlements were goblin archers.

The heroes had apparently interrupted a slave revolt. Not looking to remain enslaved, the building’s denizens fought savagely, to their untimely end.

During the battle, a mind flayer approached the party, and attempted to capture and feed upon one of the heroes. Fortunately, teamwork prevailed, as the heroes were victorious!

Ruined Merchant House

After putting down the slave revolt, the heroes moved to the nearest building, a fine house upon a flat-topped bluff. Upon closer inspection, it was plain to see that the front door was missing, and the surrounding frame had been destroyed.

Moving inside, our heroes discovered several undead ghouls. While attempting to destroy them, the heroes were attacked by a hook horror and a vrock.
Klyred was finally able to get into position to invoke Melora’s wrath upon the undead, and soon putting down the monsters was quick work.

While inspecting the house, the party discovered a trapdoor set into the floor in the corner of a storeroom. Once they were able to force it open, they found a drow slave named Zaelin, formerly of House Adinklyrve, who hid before the attack. The heroes were barely able to get her to calm down enough to speak! She finally related only that undead and demons were responsible for the attack, and that a fearsome drow vampire led them.

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Rumors Of An Exarch To Orcus

Tessount’s Folly

After leaving the mine, a messenger greeted Klyred, and told him that the sage Valthrun the Prescient sent them the following message:

“Honored heroes, Your deeds speak well of your good intentions and your concern for the civilized lands. I write to you to ask for your help in a most troubling matter. For the past several days, I have observed a glittering, red streak in the sky. Last night, the red streak flared like a star before disappearing from the sky. If my readings of the Analects of Tzunk are correct, this heralds the appearance of a great evil in our land. I dare not reveal what I know in this letter for fear it may fall into the wrong hands, but I beg you to make due haste to my tower in Winterhaven.”

Winterhaven

The heroes travelled to Winterhaven, and shortly after their arrival were treated to a great feast, during which Klyred reminisced about saving the town of Winterhaven by defeating Kalarel early in his career.

After eating, Valthrun told you the following:

  • Because of Valthrun’s research and after consulting with an archmage from the Therund Barony via magical means, the sage is convinced that the events in the night sky foretell the rise of a new exarch of Orcus.
  • Undead have once again been drawn to the ruins of Shadowfell Keep, an ominous sign of Orcus’s growing power. Valtrun was searching for a party of heroes to re-explore the Keep, to evaluate or defeat the threat.
  • Valthrun completed a series of divinations that revealed the location of the exarch’s arrival, a point somewhere beneath the Cairngorm Peaks. The Miser’s Pit, a shaft that extends deep into the Underdark, is perhaps the best place to begin searching for this new, evil being.

Valthrun was saddened by the fact that he could not provide the party with monetary or magical reward, but he did implore the heroes to help quell this impending attack.

Knowing an entrance to the Underdark could be found under Thunderspire Mountain, the heroes discussed with Valthrun their idea to travel directly to the Seven-Pillared Hall, in lieu of searching the Peaks for this Miser’s Pit. The sage agreed with their line of reasoning.

Thunderspire Mountain & The Seven-Pillared Hall

After weeks of travel, and then a short meeting with the Saruun Mages, the heroes learned that the Mages had recently dispatched Onotor, one of their own, to attempt to establish a trading alliance with the Drow.

The Mages warned the heroes that rumors of an undead army, strong enough to threaten the surface world, had attacked the Drow outpost of Phaervorul, where Onotor was sent, and they feared for his life. Upon hearing the name Phaervorul, Vier’gara also became worried, as her estranged family lives there.

The Mages then supplied the adventurers an iron pendant, shaped like a spider. They told Klyred that this was a diplomatic pass, a symbol that will allow them to pass safely through Drow territory, and give them a chance to parley with the Drow.

After the meeting, the heroes went to the Halfmoon Inn, to meet with Rendil and Erra Halfmoon, and to hopefully find a guide.

Vadriar the Sage offered to take the heroes into the tunnels to locate Phaervorul. Despite his curse, which leaves him in a constant state of agitation and fear, Klyred remembered that Vadriar knows the passages beneath the mountain better than anyone else.

The Underdark

After traveling for two and a half days, the heroes reached a crossroads, where a ghoul and three battle wights was attacking a Drider and her Drow snipers. The party called out to the Drow, and joined their battle against the undead. Vadriar decided to return to the Hall at this point.

After the skirmish, the drider directed the heroes down a specific passage toward Phaervorul, but mentioned that they could not guide the adventurers, as they needed to remain there and prevent any undead from leaving the area.

Eventually, the heroes came upon a bridge:

The passage opens onto a yawning chasm, easily 100 feet across and dropping away into darkness. A wide stone bridge arches across the rift to a cavern on the far side. There, red light swirls through the air to reveal a ghastly scene.

What appears to have once been an Underdark outpost is now a sprawling battlefield wreathed in smoke and a sin- ister glow. Buildings set atop numerous bluffs rising from the rough stone floor burn and smolder, and the destruction appears widespread along a huge rise in the center of the cavern. Atop that central bluff stands a temple of black stone in the shape of a spider.

The heroes were attacked by the bridge guardian, a demonweb terror who was set against intruders, to prevent them from entering the outpost. In addition, three Chwidenchas attempted to capture the heroes, and pull them under the bridge. During the battle, Vier’gara was knocked off the bridge and died.

The heroes had to retrace their steps to a safe area so that Klyred would have the time to cast the ritual that would bring Vier’gara back from the dead.

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Mine Cart Chase

The cultists attempted to escape via mine carts. The heroes pursued them relentlessly. Several cultists were thrown from their carts as the chase sped up, down and around the caverns.

After a couple of minutes, the tracks suddenly ended in a broken section, with a huge gap to the next section of track. The cultist leader was unable to stop his cart in time!

Eibon’s cart plummeted to the bottom of the 60’ chasm. Lukey attempted to stop the heroes’ first mine cart, but was unsuccessful, and jumped out. Garyn went over the edge in the cart.

Klyred stopped his cart, but decided to dive to the bottom of the chasm to help Garyn. Vier’gara was not off-put by the large distance to Eibon, who had regained his footing after his fall.

After defeating Eibon, and recovering the skull, the heroes began the long hike back to the Ossuary.

When they arrived:

As you approach the ossuary, you are surprised to hear voices from ahead. Drawing close, you see figures hard at work around the statue. Valmour and a group of miners have managed to unhook the statue from its golden chains and are in the process of toppling it.
But before you can interrupt, Valmour suddenly screams. Wreathed in the acrid smoke vented from the statue’s mouth, his skin begins to blister and boil. His bones warp as first he, then the others, are transformed into twisted ones by the power of the tomb’s dark curse.

Eight of the miners emerge from the smoke with bone spurs jutting through their misshapen flesh. One has grotesque distended jaws and clutches a staff made of its own bones. Two have transformed to creatures of ogrelike proportions, muscle writhing beneath their skin. Valmour’s misshapen body is wreathed in the glow of purple lightning as he suddenly wheels toward you. With a shriek, he and the others attack.

Valmour and his crew put up one heck of a fight, but in the end were vanquished.

The skull was returned to it’s resting place, thus ending the curse. Klyred and Garyn worked to seal the tomb again, to deter future looters.

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Descending Into The Mine

After descending into the lower loading room, the heroes were assaulted by several cursed destrechans.

The party began to discover than the mine itself was cursed!

After travelling down the tracks for a long time the party encountered a ladder left behind, dropping from the tracks 40 feet down to the cavern floor. As soon as Garyn regained his footing at the bottom, he was rushed by three wights. One of the was Skahlton Gairg himself, the former crew chief who led the rescue party! Apparently, these three were killed in some horrible fashion by undead, and then somehow raised to “greet” intruders into the depths of the mine. The heroes are certain this was Gairg, as they found his wallet on him after defeating him.

Just beyond the wights was an uncharacteristic smooth section of the mine, with an open passageway and a once-sealed entrance.

The straight-walled tunnel opens into a huge cavern whose floor is a macabre carpet of bones. What must be the skeletal remains of thousands of creatures are strewn from wall to wall, piled so thickly that there is no sign of the real f loor beneath them.

In the center of the chamber rises a jet-black pedestal. On it stands a huge golden statue of a hideous demon, hunched and stooped. Gold chains as thick as a human wrist truss the statue to the outer cavern walls by its hands and feet, while a fifth gilded chain binds the creature to the pedestal floor by the throat. The expression on its face seems broken and defeated. Thin coils of sulfuric smoke vent from its nostrils and lips.

Here the heroes were attacked by several undead, including two bone nagas. During the battle, Vier’gara was afflicted with the curse, after getting too near the acrid smoke coming from the statue. This time, however, Vier’gara was able to overcome the curse on her own.

After a mighty battle, the heroes vanquished the undead, and disovered a tomb underneath the statue.

Runes on the base of the statue read:

Woe to those who seek to call forth the Prophet before the time of reckoning, for they bring upon the world a plague of curses. None shall find peace until the Prophet sleeps.

Lukey recalled the following, from a tavern tale he heard once:

Upon his death, Oenamagros’s mage-priest servants bore his remains to a secret tomb, so that when the time of the new prophecy came, the high prophet could be called forth to speak the wisdom of the ages and open the way to the future. Using powerful rituals, his servants placed wards on his tomb that would curse any creature attempting to call forth the prophet before his time. In the end, Oenamagros would rise once again to complete his final prophecy and usher in a new age of wisdom.

Upon entering the tomb:

The glass walls of the cylinder are faintly etched with hundreds of mystical runes. Beyond the glass is a wall of tightly packed bones, the charnel floor of the chamber above descending to a depth of 50 feet here. At the base of the cylinder floats a black iron sarcophagus, suspended upright by an unseen force.

The perfectly symmetrical sarcophagus is cast to resemble three humans facing outward. Their arms are locked, bodies and heads meshed into a single being. The figure is garbed in strange robes and hundreds of metal rings. A crack along the side of the sarcophagus suggests that it can be opened. Beneath the sarcophagus, you see a small pile of ash and bones.

The bones and ash accounted for an entire skeleton, except the skull was strangely missing.

Moving on past the ossuary, the heroes came upon a couple of miners attempting to defend a small fortified wall. Before they could do anything, two boneclaw guardians and four flaming skulls attacked the two miners, and destroyed them. As combat began, the flameskulls nearly decimated the party by unleashing four simultaneous fireballs. The heroes defeated these creatures handily, though.

After moving on, the party discovered that this corridor led to a dead-end, except for a section of raised track above them. After climbing the wall, the party moved across the track. Garyn discovered that the tracks had been sabotaged, after nearly falling through a section. He was able to grab on and pull himself up.

At this point, moving back across the now-repaired tracks, the heroes decided to make camp. Six uneventful hours later, they were ready to continue searching for the miners, and the cultists.

After crossing the tracks once again, they came to a fork in the tracks. After travelling north about 50’ the party heard gutteral howling and the sounds of scraping stone up ahead.

A wall of rubble blocks the passage ahead, aging mine machinery crushed beneath it. Before the wall, misshapen creatures claw at the stones, howling as they try to tear their way through. At intervals, pulses of black light flare at holes in the rubble wall, knocking the twisted ones back. Someone is behind the rubble, and fighting for their lives.

The heroes dispatched several twisted, cursed creatures before the miners emerged from behind the wall to assist with the combat. During the battle, several of the party members were cursed.

As soon as the miners escaped from the makeshift fortress they had created for themselves, the heroes decided to investigate, and discovered more creatures. At this point, the “miners” ran past the heroes, exposing themselves as the cultists, and escaped into a couple of mining carts down the tracks!

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