The Lost Lords

Session Sixteen (A): The Wizard's Tower
The Wizard's Tower

Promenade Street

Our heroes awake on the 33rd of High Heat after having spent several hours the previous night dealing with the BugBear incursion. They conduct their usual morning preparations before setting out to the tower; N'jall leads a party consisting of Ta and Yenri, Marcellus, Darion, and Phoebe. Together they spend about an hour of the early morning to traverse through back alleys to arrive at Promenade Way.

Promenade Street is a phenomenal site especially considering its distance this far out from the center of its Empire. It is a wide  street filled with statues and monuments that stretches from the south of Norgas up to the North, it is a grand Triumphal procession route that now lies littered with the ruined and overturned carts of merchants, torn canvas, and scattered dead.

As the heroes push out across the wide street they come across a patch a dead guards denser than in other areas, an apparent last stand was attempted there by some. Only a moment later arrows begin showering down on them. N'jall is dropped immediately… Marcellus rushes over and attempts a Lay on Hands as he picks up N'jall's limp body and the entire party begins rushing to the far side as arrows continue to rain upon them; the arrows stop when they reach the far side.

The Tower

A few blocks in from Promenade Street the heroes come across the Mages Tower. It's a stone structure about 100 feet in height surrounded with a perimeter wall with an open iron gate at its entrance…. The heroes enter and proceed to the large double wide wooden doors entering into the tower… They enter.

Immediately the doors close behind them and flaming braziers light up inside revealing a large clay golem in the immediate foyer blocking the only passage into the tower… The Golem lets out an alert "Master More Intruders" before beginning its attack on the party. It clubs at Darion and Marcellus while N'jall inspects runes beneat it… Phoebe transforms into a raptor and begins frantically scratching at the runes on the floor. Marcellus and Darion's blades appear to have no real impact on the creature.

Taking a hint from Phoebe, Darion brings up his falchion and strikes at the rune on the floor, unintentionally unleashing a torrent of raw magical energy from the lay-lines beneath the tower. Light leaves the room as the forms of the heroes changes in gruesome and dramatic ways… for a moment they all feel the rending of flesh and breaking of bones as their bodies take on forms not their own… Phoebne appears as a larger more ferocious looking raptor, Darion appears as a frailer sickly version of himself, N'jall as a devil with horns and a tail with long limbs, Marcellus twists with his rib cage and bones turn inside out….

As light returns to the room Ta, Yenri, and the Golem are gone, there are three squirrels. Darion immediately butchers the squirrel standing where the Golem was. N'jall snaps at the others over their ignorance of the power of magic and how destroying the rune almost got everyone killed and how they're all lucky to be alive… Marcellus tries to round up the squirrels presumably being Ta and Yenri into his pouch, but instead they scurry to Phoebe… N'jall leaves the others and heads to a center ring in the adjoining area before being teleported up… Upon arriving he goes to the next room and immediately drops unconscious after a small flame burst. 

After waiting a few moments Darion, Marcellus, and Phoebe follow with the squirrels, they enter to witness N'jall down in a doorway across the room…. Marcellus rushes over to administer some healing which brings N'jall back as he pulls him away from the doorway. Darion then runs out into the doorway to confront the enemy in the next room, he too is met with a hurl of fire from three small flying flame minions; Darion doesn't drop like N'jall did. Marcellus goes to join Darion in the next room while N'jall begins reading over the bookshelves in the first room with Phoebe protecting the squirrels…. Darion engages the fiends but is quickly forced up onto some low rubble to avoid the pool of molten metal oen transformed into thats now on the ground and creeping towards the library room and N'jall…

As it enters teh doorway n'jall and Phoebe begin harassing it with frost energy from their wand. Meanwhile, the other two are quickly dispatched by devastating blows delivered from Darion and Marcellus. Marcellus pours water out on the molten puddle which soon returns to its true form and flies up to the ceiling, out of their reach and calls for parlay.

 

 

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Session Fifteen (A): Securing the Enclave
Discovering Marissa, Bugbear GreenJaw, Expanding Enclave

Securing the Enclave

With the recently arrived refugees from the chapel it's clear the already stretched accommodations of the inn are no longer sufficient to shelter the growing population. To address this some of the heroes set out at first light to begin clearing and preparing some of the surrounding buildings; in the immediate area are 5 additional buildings, a tenement, two houses, a illicit den, and a storehouse. First they scrounge through the storehouse with the primary purpose of finding additional food stuffs to feed the refugees… Once entrance is secured N'jall and Ta remain to spend several hours inventorying the hundreds of barrels and crates held within… Darion and Marcellus head back to the enclave to proceed to another house where they find the familiar  Dwar, Huldun conversing with one of the guards.  

Huldun has come out to present Darion with a the new Falchion, recently finished according to his custom specifications as requested in payment for returning Orcbane 2 days prior. Back in the Inn the Runepriest continues his work on Captain Hargrave, by this point screens have been erected around him as the sound of operation are heard throughout the inn.

Ta leads N'jall and Darion over to the tenement… upon opening the rear door they are greeted with what is already becoming an all-to-familiar and grizzly sight: a crowd of humans piled up against the door in an apparent massacre where they tried to escape, all cut down by missiles and claws, the stench is terrible, Ta determines the arrows are of Goblin make. Up the steps they come across a dead Warg… Ta concludes that an expert soldier is responsible for dispatching the Warg in such a clean way. The rooms are already ransacked and stripped down… From the top floor Ta can recognize smoke rising from the Foundry,  the Dwarves have apparently relit the forge and are beginning to use it as evident through the recently presented Falchion brough to Darion.

N'jall wants to check out the den next, he heads over there to find the odd stench of death mixed in with many other lingering aromas…. The Den is cooler as its half sunken into the ground with dim lighting from a few ground level windows peaking into the shoddily made structure where hung sheets act as walls more than any real structural elements… N'jall finds 6 pounds of illicit drugs.

Marissa

Darion and Marcellus clear the back two houses, they're mostly ransacked already and but safe and in need of fortification. In the second house, at the top of the steps, they find a second warg, brutilized with a slain goblin rider atop it… Underneath a busted door they find the remains of a Woman, this woman will come to be recognized as Marissa.  Darion and Marcellus begin moving the bodies out of the Apartment and houses when Darion goes into an involuntary vision; many ghostly forms start to surround him and reach out to him with wispy voices. Darion yells for them to get away…. Nearby Marcellus sees Darion swatting at the air and yelling at nothing apparently…. assuming its the heat wave getting to him Marcellus comes up and slaps him and tries to get him to snap out of it. Darion continues to lose it and it gets worse.

Hearing the commotion a distressed Phoebe comes around the corner to see Darion freaking out and pushing Marcellus away. It gets worse before Lis comes up and clears away the other forms, it's just Liz and Darion… Darion informs them that Liz is amongst them… Marcellus is now convinced he has heat stroke while Phoebe believes him but cannot sense any of it; Liz approaches Phoebe and seems to notice her.

As Liz goes to Phoebe a woman appears and begins conversing with Darion telling him the story of how she died in the house the night of the attack.

Afterwards Darion questions Marcellus about the afterlife, asking him about where souls go after the body dies and any known ways to converse with the dead. Marcellus shares with limited knowledge he has coming from his religious background.

The Bugbear

With the buildings mostly cleared the heroes settle in for the night on the 32nd of High Heat. Phoebe spends the prep time healing while the others set up watches to help secure the perimeter throughout the night. It is sometime deep into the 5th watch that Darion sees some green orbs in the distance in the square… He awakes the others, specifically Ta who is able to discern there is in fact a Bugbear ou in the square by the fountain spying on the inn. 

The heroes and some guards are roused from their sleep and a plan is launched to capture the bugbear, the fear being his escape will bring on a wave of greenskins to the ill-defended inn. Ta leads Phoebe and Horace and some of the guards on a flanking mission to stealthily surround the Bugbear while Darion and Marcellus wait inside the door with Aethor to jump once the trap is sprung.

Once in position Ta casts entangling vines around the Bugbear, tying it into place while the others start loosing bolts to get it down. Light is dim and most shots go wide as Darion and Marcellus rush the Bugbear and with some bit of hassle  the heroes are able to move in and capture the Bugbear alive. Ta throws a bag over its head and its brought down into the cellar of the inn for questioning.

N'jall, Ta, and Darion question the bugbear and through some intimidation paired with a promise of safe passage out of the city… the bugbear talks and reveals his name is GreenJaw and he works for the Stone Skull Clan operating out of the warehouse district an area filled with large vacant buildings with few surviving humans… he was dispatched out to track and report back on the humans the gnolls from the chapel reported on the day before. The Bugbear divulges the secrets of the Il-Khan of the Stone Skulls, how he fights with a large sword and large shield, travels with guards, and loves butchering humans, elves, halflings, and especially dwarves; he keeps no prisoners but trades some to the gnoll captain for his support… the Gnoll captain being stationed in ruins in the "burn out". The other Il-Khan holds the Stone Skulls back from killing everything, but the Stone Skulls were the first in and as such got first rights to kill and loot and feast. It is also revealed that the bad blood between the orc clans is usually ignored when they horde up under one Chieftain as is the case with the different clans attacking Norgas…. GreenJaw doesn't know which Il-Khan is stronger… 

With little else to share the heroes query Greenjaw about his plans after they release him… Greenjaw insists he died beneat the vines and reveals two rows of nasty teeth in an attempt to smile. He draws the heroes a very rough map on the path to the Gnolls through South Norgas, we threaten him for accuracy and in return he pulls out a dead rat from a sack and bites its head off, proceeding to chew on it while drawing. N'jall gives the Bugbear a preserved snake which he promptly eats. 

The interrogation being concluded, the heroes take the bugbear out and release him roughly where they found him by the fountain, he scampers off into the fading darkness as the first signs of light start  breaking through… the heroes go back and sleep for a few more hours to finish resting.

We wake up on the 33 oh high heat to head out to the wizards tower.

 

 

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Session Fourteen (A): The Chapel of Saint Sabinus
Highwall Hearth, Taking Stock, Foraging, The Chapel

(Combined with October 7 Session)

Around Highwall Hearth

It is still early afternoon on the 30th of High Heat when our heroes arrive back at Highwall Hearth the heroes show the Runepriest to Captain Hargrave where he immediately gets to work on saving his life. With the crisis of the moment taken care of our heroes take a moment to take stock of their situation. Amidst the talks a foul stench begins to waft about the inn; the spider leg is rotten. N'jall searches frantically for a way to preserve the spider leg, but to no avail, he eventually gives up and discards it into the sewer.

Darryn and his men are still out scouting so Ta, Marcellus, and N'jall decide to go off and do some foraging in the immediate area while a wounded Darion and Horace recover in the inn for the rest of the day. They spend the rest of the day exploring the immediate area around the inn, coming to an alchemical shop, an apartment, and a few other houses; some supplies are gained for making potions and a few other goodies are recovered before they return.  Most of the buildings are barricaded or nailed shut, Ta does some additional scouting around the backs and along catwalks to get as much information as possible, in the apartment she discovers a journal outlining the grizzly events a few days past; one group of residents fought another out of paranoia. As they come out to leave one of the buildings a sneaking orc is slain by Aethor's bow from the inn across the square, potentially saving N'jall, the orc having apparently been drawn out to ivnestigate the loud thud and smash of Marcellus failing to kick down one of the doors.

Upon their return they find Darryn having returned with the other guards. 

Everyone is brought up to speed with the latest information from Darryn's scouting mission: Two orc clans are pushing through this part of the city, one Il-Khan is held up in the Garrison with another somewhere in the Warehouse District. There is great destruction everywhere, much of the city is burned down in an area called the "burn out", there are few survivors dispersed throughout. There's another clan in the northern districts of Norgas. 

Darryn cautions against taking on the Il-Khan at the garrison, but does tell of other places in need of assistance, a temple in south Norgas has been known to take in refugees and the is an estate known as Phoenix Place near the warehouses that is also  a point of interest.  Darryn also reports that what is left of the 1st Norgas Legion is holding out in Hightown. The Heroes go on at length for some time debating their best path forward with no consensus being agreed upon…

A New Arrival and More Visions

As evening comes N'jall dedicates his time to brewing some potions at the bar while the others prepare to take shifts on watch through the night. It is at some early in the night during Marcellus' watch that a commotion is heard at the inn door… Aethor and Marcellus reluctantly welcome in a grizzly looking veteran wearing a chain holding some 5 Orc heads as trophies, he wields a greatsword and heavy crossbow, He has a large tattoo on his neck of a crest over a sheild, typical of legionnaires of the 9th… a founding legion of paramilitary fighters loyal to the Empire. Marcellus doesn't wake the others in their sleep but does welcome him to the inn with an introduction, he gives him a bottle of spirits to ease tensions which the veteran accepts; he explains that he's arrived from the south and is here to slay orcs. 

Later in the night Darion awakes for his watch, the watching proceeds without incident so Darion tries to focus his concentration to trigger a vision similar to the one he had the previous night; it takes some time but he does eventually focus enough to get it to work. Darion begins to see wisps in the darkness, forms start to emerge and he sees people moving down the streets, fleeing, he sees the the spirit of an orc with its leg stuck, he looks over at Phoebe and sees the form of Liz cuddled p next to her, then he looks over towards N'jall and makes contact with bright crimson eyes staring back at him, immediately imposing a great feeling of terror right as the vision ends.

The following morning the heroes begin to awake on the 31st of High Heat and go about their daily routines in preparation for the day's challenges, Marcellus conducts his typical morning prayers and comes across a strong urge to reach the location of his order's chapel in South Norgas to look for survivors or any information leading to the location of his comrades. 

In the Inn Darion prompts an awkward conversation with Marcellus about spirits to which Marcellus knows nothing beyond the distant myths of undead and ghosts… Phoebe asks Marcellus about the location of any potential libraries within the city that may contain knowledge that could lead her to finding another companion; Marcellus does inform her and the others of the location of known libraries within the city…. those mostly being the magisterial archives in Hightown that likely only contain municipal records and the predominately theological libraries held within the Houses of Worship in the Temple District. 

The Chapel of Saint Sabinus

With everyone being ready Marcellus asks for volunteers to accompany him to the chapel in South Norgas to which Darion, Phoebe, and N'jall agree to accompany him while the others remain behind to continue shoring up the defenses of the enclave. As they leave the Inn the sun has begun to arrive and it becomes abundantly clear the weather has shifted and a heat wave rests over Norgas.

The four companions opt to travel through the sewers towards South Norgas to aovid any unwated attention… the sewers are a safer and cooler albeit smelly path to travel. After some time they arrive in South Norgas without incident. Coming up they can see smoke rising from the vicinity of the Chapel… Marcellus leads the others to within sight… before them the Chapel is starting to catch fire with a small group of Gnolls and Orcs in front of it tossing burning debris onto the roof.

Already having caught the attention of the enemy, Marcellus charges in immediatley. Many of the Orcs go after Marcellus while the others continue passed to attack N'jall and Phoebe; an in-wait Darion springs upon the first orc, unceremoniously dispatching it before he moves onto a second. It is not long after this that a Goblin Rogue leaps at Darion's exposed back from the rooftop landing a devastating blow. The other skirmishes move and and down N'jall with some javelins while Marcellus continues to dance around with several orcs before the Chapel, both Marcellus and Darion trade blows with the orcs while the Rogue skirts around landing underhanded hit after hit before Marcellus finally squares up and lands a devastating searing smite to down the creature. Darion mops up the Orc Defenders with devastating blows while Phoebe continues to harass the remaining skirmishers with a wand before getting N'jall back up on his feet.

With the Orc Defender very much dead the 2 surviving gnolls flee outside the reach of the others.

With the area clear Marcellus douses himself with a water skin and rushes into the burning chapel.

Laying against the altar is an armored Paladin he recognizes as Ser Aytwolf, the caretaker. He brings his body out with Darion and Phoebe before sprinting back in, this time with N'jall in tow, through the barracks and into the study where he frantically scoops a full sack of papers, texts, scrolls, manuscripts from the tables into his sack… Marcellus bursts into the cellar to find some 34 refugees held up there, hiding. He orders them to flee the chapel before it burns down…. after the last refugee is fled a glint catches Marcellus' eye in the corner… Through a slightly displaced stone in the wall Marcellus unveils a hidden trove of relics of this faith… without much thought he grabs them and rushes out of the burning chapel just in the nick of time, the growing flames beginning to scorch him as he leaves the front.

First he tends to Ser Aytwolf who is not unconscious but instead fallen in defense of the chapel. Not wasting any time out of fear of the Gnolls returning with reinforcements the heroes lead the refugees back into the sewers the way they came and towards Highwall Hearth and safety.

Upon coming back to the inn Marcellus finds most of the survivors too recently traumatized to be of much use, immediate care is administered to them before he and N'jall move on to search over the manuscripts and relics saved from the chapel… The Manuscripts are all religious texts relative to the Order of Saint Sabinus that were in the process of being transcribed, Marcellus will keep them for future reading…. With N'jall's help he's able to identify the powers of Ser Aytwolf's Longsword and Holy Symbol and Steel Shield, as well as the relics from the cellar: a Golden Statue of Saint Sabinus, the Burial Shroud of Saint Sabinus… among the relics are also some Steel Coins minted with the image of Saint Sabinus.

After this N'jall explores the attic of the Inn to find a vantage point from which he does scope out a Mage Tower in the distance he feels drawn towards… He also finds some improvised thieves tools.

With that evening sets on the 31st of High Heat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Session Thirteen (A): The Foundry
The Dwarves, the Ogre, The Gnolls

The Foundry

It is the morning on the 31st of  High Heat, our heroes assemble and depart the inn through the sewers toward the Foundry. They are quickly encountered with the familiar sight of the Carrion Crawler from the previous night, again the heroes make no attempt to combat the creature, instead they let it disturbingly slide away and out of their path.

As they continue they come to a strange portion of the sewer… Marcellus, Phoebe, and Ta hear a large backdraft and what sounds almost like a distant roar of fire closing in… RUN one yells as the party sprints to the end of the tunnel… Marcellus, Darion, and Yenri make it out fine, but N'jall, Ta, and Horace are damaged by a burst of flames and are burned…. Phoebe remained safely on the far side and sprints through to join the others, Maracellus tends to the burns. 

After a short time the heroes come to an exit near the Foundry, they ascend, helping Yenri up, to find vacant streets. It is quiet and void of life save for the sound of distant fires.

Horace leads the approach up the street to the Foundry and is able to negotiate a welcome entry inside. The heroes enter through a barred gate into a small courtyard filled with a few dozen dwarves, only a few are soldiers. They have a caravan of wagons drawn by boar like beasts, the Foundry is very fortified. A golden haired dwarf steps forward and becomes visibly angry upon looking at Darion wielding Orcbane. Darion begins speaking in Dwarvish and eases the tension and shares the last words of Baelwynn's father and hands off  Orcbane to Baelwynn. Huldan is also there.

Darion and Horace explain the situation back at the inn and the need for their Artificer to save a Captain. Baelwynn makes an agreement that the Runepriest can accompany the heroes back to the inn and tend to Hargrave in exchange for their help in clearing the rest of the Foundry of the Ogre, Orcs, and Gnolls contained deeper within the structure. The party agrees and Baelwynn calls over a very aged Dwarf in more ornate garb, with white hair, wearing spectacles over his eyes holding a book in one hand… He comes over and imparts a blessing upon the heroes before they are led through a foyer up some rail tracks going up some stairs through a small room with some soldiers guarding the entrance to a much larger room with the far door being barricaded from the Dwarven side. Phoebe transforms into a raptor in anticipation of the  inevitable fight awaiting them. 

The Ogre

The heroes burst into the room and immediately encounter an ogre and a dozen orcs spread throughout. Phoebe immediately casts a spell that begins shaking the foundation stones on the far side of the room, entrapping most of the orcs, the others begin to fan out and take up positions around the ogre, Darion jumps up on a table and taunts the room, drawing most of the orcs…

Horace charges past Marcellus and starts hacking at the Ogre who returns the favor and downs Horace, Marcellus heals him to get him back on his feet. The combined efforts of mostly Yenri and Horace do eventually bring down the ogre with some help from the others, but Yenri is gravely wounded in the fight. Darion and Marcellus mop up the remaining orcs as Yenri is brought back to the safety of the Dwarves…

The room is secured but there is no sign of the Gnolls. The party scavenges the room and the adjoining office before continuing to the other side of the Foundry. Documents are found naming the property to belong to the Thorstein Mining Company Foundry among the numerous ledgers, billing statements, payroll accounts and other documents. 

The Gnolls

Ta volunteers to scout ahead of the others to locate the Gnolls and does so, neither her nor N'jall or Horace can understand the kackling and laughing of their tongue, they fail to lure the gnolls out.

Out of options the party rushes up the stairs to the Gnolls behind the lead of Darion. The Gnoll Blacksmith, the apparent leader of the other six dips its mallet in molten metal and charges Darion, the two engage briefly, after bringing down a savage hit on Darion, Hogger, the blacksmith, falls back and the other gnolls begin pushing over the trough of molten metal that will spill out towards our heroes and towards the party.

Darion instinctively rushes up to try and prevent the Gnolls from tipping it over. Fearing the worst Phoebe, still in her  Raptor form, rushes out and back to the dwarves for immediate reinforcements. Meanwhile Darion, at the tipping point with droplets of molten metal  beginning to drip over the edge of the trough onto the ground and his shoulders lets out one last massive exertion to tip it back over on the three Gnolls behind it, killing them as he drops unconscious of exhaustion, Ta looses an arrow to drop the cauldron down atop the blacksmith, killing him while Marcellus cleans up the other three as Phoebe rushes back with some of the  Dwarves…

Phoebe and the Dwarves look upon the standing heroes; it looks like there was a desperate last stand where everything went right.

With the action subsided N'jall jokingly taunts Marcellus about the Gods helping us, N'jall sulks on a table. Marcellus helps carry a limp Darion and Horace down to the Foyer and places them alongside Yenri; the Runepriest sees to the wounds and then offer a handshake to Marcellus and Ta while some of the Dwarves move in to secure the newly cleared portions of the Foundry.

The party rests in the Foundry for several hours until Darion begins to move and finally gets up, his last memories being partially covered with Molten metal and flipping the trough over on the Gnolls. Words are exchanged with the Dwarves, the samples of the black ore recovered from up in the mountains are left for inspecting and Darion exchanges the goodwill earned for a crafted Falchion the Dwarves will spend days working on before it is ready. With the party able to move again they embark from the Foundry to return back to the Highwall Hearth with the Runepriest in tow.

After a few more hours of traveling back through the sewers the heroes arrive safely back at the inn with the Runepriest.

 

 


 

 

 

 

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Session Twelve (A): Return to Norgas
Return to Norgas, The Sewers, Highwall Hearth

The Road to Norgas

Shortly after dawn on the 29th of High Heat our heroes begin assembling with Darryn's men  near the northern exit from Valion's camp; once ready the party sets off to the north toward Norgas. Darion, Marcellus, and N'jall lead the way with the newcomers Ta, Horace, and Phoebie opting to accompany them; There is also Darryn and his dozen guards, and another group tagging along on their way to the Cathedral of The Three.

The party gives the main road to Norgas a wide birth, instead travling the country to the north to avoid any orc patrols. Eventually they cross a river and choose to camp nearby on the north bank for the night. It is at this  point that Ta lets out a whistle into the wilderness that takes the other's by surprise but it is not long after that a large black wolf comes out of the brush and approaches Ta…. Ta introduces the wolf as Yenri, her companion; the party warmly accepts their new companion, Phoebe is a bit disheartened, the loss of her companion Liz being still close.

The night passes without incident and everyone awakes on the morning of the 30th and the band splits again. Some guards depart more to the north into the mountains to head to Christoph while Darryn and his men remain with the heroes to head northwest into Norgas.

The Sewers

After spending most of the day traveling the party comes to Norgas where they head off towards the sewer they exited from some week past. Ta and Yenri lead the way, the strong scent of dead human and greenskin fill the air. 

The party continues through the Sewers to try and reach Hightown to make contact with the leaders and the remainder of the garrison. After some time traveling through the sewers they  come to a dead end leading to a sealed door… the hallway is littered with the bodies of dead orc that have  been piled up over days.

Ta and Horace loose a few arrows towards the door to find they stop mid flight, suddenly, convulse and then implodes. Darion throws a rock which manages to go a bit further before likewise stopping and then slamming violently into the left wall. N'jall comes forward and inspects the area from a safe distance and concludes 'there is big magic here, roughly a dozen powerful spells'… taking the hint the party doubles back to continue with the backup plan: regrouping at the Highwall Hearth.

Along their way they are abruptly interrupted by a massive creature with dozens of legs, a disgustingly bulbous body, a mouth with pincers filled with sharp incisor teeth coming to a head with two small beady eyes… it raises itself in a  defensive posture while numerous smaller creatures scamper away to safety behind it… after the young escape the adult Carrion Crawler begins to reverse itself into the same tiny opening that is many times smaller than it… one by one its legs and bodily sections squeeze into the hole before its head finally disappears.

Shaken, but undeterred, our heroes continue their trek through the sewers towards the inn.

Highwall Hearth

The sun set on the 30th as the band draws near to the familiar exit near the inn. Ta heads up first to get a look at the surroundings, the coast appears to be clear. One by one the heroes ascend the ladder to the surface, Darion being the last after lifting Yenri up to the others.

The inn appears to be intact. 

Darryn directs his men to set up a perimeter while the heroes approach the rear of the inn and knock, announcing themselves, they are greeted by the inn-keep with his crossbow at the shoulder, he recognizes Marcellus and Darion and steps aside to allow them entry.

Inside they see the grizzly sight of Captain Hargrave, he is short an arm, an eye, and a leg, lieutenant Cass is tending to him, in the corner is Aethor with his bow, standing watch.

Introductions are made between the new heroes and the occupants of the inn. Lieutenant Cassandra explains how Hargrave led a diversionary attack with a few soldiers, losing many in the progress, he was returned gravely wounded.

The heroes tell of their adventure through the mountains and mines and the events at the Bulwark and the situation the Archduke is in there and why they've returned. Cass brings the heroes up to date on the situation in Norgas… It appears that most of the remaining survivors are barricaded up in Hightown but there is a group of Dwarves held up in the foundry just to the north of the inn. A few refugees have shown up at the Highwall Hearth since the night of the attack and there are undoubtedly more survivors and similar enclaves through the lower parts of the city, but they haven't the strength to push out and instead are held up just trying to defend the small area around the inn, which is lucky to have not been overrun already. Cass also explains how the 3-4 story Garrison to the south is now occupied by Orcs.

Darryn leaves with half of his men to set up positions in the back alleys around the inn with the other half dozen remaining in the inn to rest and reinforce the watch there.

Cass knows little of the dwarves but does believe they have an Artificer among their number would would be Hargrave's last hope of survival. The foundry is about a mile up the road.

The heroes make themselves as comfortable as they can in the inn around the hearth, it is already over capacity with the survivors held up already, there are no rooms available. 

N'jall begins to open up to the group, explaining how he was raised by another wizard, his mentor, and how he doesn't like Imperial Scholars like Argus, predetermining they are all snobbs that don't respect proper wizards or the arcane arts. N'jall explains to the others how his power comes from the Weaver. N'jall talks to Phoebe who is still heartbroken who explains how the place where Raptors come from is lost, N'jall promises to look for wizards with rumors of surviving Raptors… Phoebe can't stop blaming herself for the loss. 

The party takes watches throughout the night. At around midnight Darion is awoken by a loud crack and thud… it is just another burning building collapsing on itself. As he tries to drift back to sleep Darion is confronted with a vision: he can see out into the streets but there is no color, only wispy figures prancing back and forth almost in shutters, the figures appear mostly humanoid with some animals, he shifts away and looks around the inn to see the occupants there in their various states before making eye contact with another wispy bipedal figure inside the inn… It's the spectral figure of Liz.

The vision quickly fades and Darion questions what he has just seen, he can't determine if it's real or a hallucination. 

The next morning Darion awakes and has an awkward encounter with phoebe, unsure how to converse about the things he saw in the night. Marcellus barters with the Inn-Keep who forever after is dubbed Chief, trading his old suit of Branded Mail for 4 bottles of high quality spirits intended to be used as medicinal or bartering supplies. N'jall draws a very bad copy of the sewer map and hands it to Darryn who is not impressed.

The heroes prepare to embark on their trek to the Foundry to find the Artificer with the hope of bringing him back to the  inn to heal Captain Hargrave. It is the morning of the 31st of High Heat

 

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Session Eleven (A): Valion's Camp
Wounded Recover, The Parties Split, Liz is Buried,

All But Liz Awaken

Darion,  Marcellus, and Eclipsa leave Argus in Valion's camp and immediately head over to find their wounded comrades  in the triage area to ensure they're being taken care of. Horace, Ta, N'jall, and Valner are still unconscious, the body of Liz is covered nearby.

They say their prayers and do what little they can to comfort their comrades, but it will take some time for them to regain their strength.

On the morning of the 28th of High Heat the wounded begin to awake one by one to find themselves in the relative security of the camp, their last memories being the fight with the Il-Khan the previous day… Everyone is brought up to speed, Phoebe becomes distressed with the knowledge her companion Liz was killed in the fighting as Darion and Marcellus attempt to comfort her.

They assist Phoebe in the burial of Liz's body, taking it just outside the camp and helping her perform whatever rites she knows to depart the creatures from her culture, as foreign as that might be.

Janus, Noct, and Sovran

Upon returning to the camp they are soon confronted by one of the Archduke's soldiers, a junior officer named Janus, accompanied by a few other of Valion's men, Noct and Sovran. They bring fresh rations and water for the heroes to indulge in. While eating Janus gives a less than inspirational speech, introducing himself as a Paladin of the Order of St Alberic in service to the Archduke, Noct and Sovran also introduce themselves. Janus calls for volunteers to join him in an important mission to the south in the Freeholds, the details of which he'll announce as they leave the day after next.

Despite his lackluster speech, Ecliplsa and Argus volunteer to join him when they leave the next day. They're told to spend the rest of the day in the camp foraging for whatever supplies they may want or need.

Marcellus and Darion likewise inform the others that Valion has extended his courtesy to us and we're welcome to whatever resources we may be able to find in the camp to aid them, and that they too will be leaving the following morning to return to Norgas.

N'jall and Argus trade notes and N'jall allows Argus to "borrow" his spell book with the manticore notes from the wizard's tower, a few other departing words are exchanged as each goes about their business for the remainder of the day in the relative safety of Valion's camp in preparation for their new adventure. Marcellus and Daren begin planning their approach to Norgas. Valner begins to gravitate away from both groups, his apparent task of lighting the beacon so many days early finished.

Sun sets on the 28th of High Heat, The heroes have split into two groups.

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Session Ten: Il-Khan Treereaver
Il-Khan Treereaver, Archduke Valion Cross

Il-Khan Treereaver

With Alma and his men remaining behind to hold off any Orcs that may try to follow the heroes ascend stairs to the top of the citadel where they find Il-Khan Treereaver, alone, and apparently not expecting anyone. A brief face-off ensues before Ta sees some papers burning by a desk and rushes over to put them out…. the quick handed Treereaver looses a bolt at Ta wounding here, the fight is on.

Darion opens with a rush towards the Il Khan with Liz closely supporting, Marcellus moves in to help corner the Orc while the rest of the party jockeys for position around the courtyard. 

A terrible fight ensues.

Treereaver tumbles  and rolls out of the way time and again as Marcellus and Darion struggle to land hits.  Between rolls the Il-Khan losses bolt after bolt at the rest of the party as one by one Ta, Phoebe, and then Valner are knocked out of the fight. Darion becomes enraged at the damage to his friends and with frustration for the refusal of the Il-Khan to fight him… he begins landing devastating blow after devastating  blow while Treereaver struggles to get a hit in… After some frustration of his own Treereaver brings down a powerful hit on Darion, pushing him to the ground, and he doesn't get back up.

Marcellus takes over in a dance of death with Treereaver while Horace, Argus and N'jall struggle to deal any damage. After a powerful Searing Smite pushes him over the edge, Treereaver begins to flee out through the garden. Heading the warning of Daren to not let him escape, the party pursues. First to catch up to Treereaver is Liz who jumps off the 10 ft balcony at him, but Liz is quickly pummeled into the ground where she falls, dead. Next out is N'jall who grabs Darion's Orc Bane and likewise charges off the balcony after Treereaver, but he too is pummeled into the ground, unconscious. Then Horace follows suit and he too is downed at the feet of the steps before the feet of the Il-Khan. 

Marcellus begins to descend the steps to confront the Il-Khan in single combat but is knocked prone by a sudden shaking of the stones around him…. Argus has used a magic right with an earth shaking spell that fails to harm the Il-Khan. Marcellus struggles to stand up and scamper back up the stairs to regain his posture as a freshly revived Darion leaps from the balcony and finishes off the Il-Khan. 

Still catching his breath, Marcellus is confronted by Argus who wants to take the Il-Khan's head, Marcellus denies this and instead procedes to light the torches to alert the Imperial forces to the south that the Citadel is secure. Darion finds a stash of silver and loots the Il-Khan. 

The Archduke Valion Cross

Eclipsa emerges and helps Marcellus and Darion drag the limp bodies of the others down the steps back to Darryn's band held out at an intersection. It is not long after this that the sounds of fighting down the hall near the gate subside and a group of soldiers come up to the survivors. A captain with guilded armor emerges and confronts the party, he's visibly been fighting, sweaty with a fresh scrape across his brow…. Introductions are made and an update is supplied, the Captain insists the heroes come into the camp to meet the Archduke Valion Cross, he sends for stretchers to bring the wounded heroes into the camp.

The heroes head out of the Citadel south towards the Imperial Camp. They pass  the courtyard littered with the orcs that were only just recently defending there against the Imperials that stormed the gate. Beyond the gate the no-mans land between the Bulwark and the camp is littered with fallen dead from an apparent assault from the previous night. They pass by the makeshift palisades of the camp passing by guards and many soldiers busying about the camp and are led deep into the heart of the camp towards a more ornate looking tent where they are left by the Captain.

Soon an incredibly formidable man enters wearing ornate blue and silver armor and stands opposite Darion, Marcellus, Argus, and Eclipsa at the other end of the of his table. This is Valion Cross the Archduke of Sojourner's Rest.

Marcellus bows in courtesy and is followed by the others, introductions are made and the Archduke acknowledges the heroism of those present and thanks them for their service. Vaion is brought up to speed on the situation in Norgas and the events that transpired in the Bulwark. Marcellus and Darion express their interests in returning to Norgas to aid those still besieged residents still held up there, Valion agrees to send them and a squad back and to use the Sewer Map Marcellus presents as an aid to help them infiltrate the city undetected. Valion extends any aid they may need and dismisses all but Argus who insists on remaining for a private audience.

Darion, Marcellus, and Eclipsa head to the infirmary to check on their wounded comrades where they decide to camp out for the night.

Chapter 1 is Concluded

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Session Nine: The Citadel
Finding Liz, The Hall of Fire, Darryn's Men

Dinosaurs and Evil Armor

They enter into a room that was apparently used to intern some of the captives now in the party…. Some noises are heard and Phoebe astonishes the party by transforming into a Raptor and rushing away, deeper into the Citadel; the party follow with difficulty and still fail to keep up.

Together, they emerge into a large room littered with the dead bodies of orc and human alike around the chained corpse of another raptor. This is Elizabeth, "Liz", the companion Phoebe has been looking for… A visibly distressed Phoebe begins frantically scratching and biting at the chains to free her friend while the others search for a key to release the lock. The key is found and Liz is freed and healed. Phoebe, realizing no one can understand her transforms back into human form and explains herself to the others who, despite being surprised, still welcome Phoebe and Liz to remain with them on their mission to fight the Il-Khan and escape the Bulwark.

Continuing through the citadel the party comes across a great room littered with some corpses and blood, they choose the follow the blood to another room where a dozen men lay dead around two massive creatures clad in great Black Armor. Darion gently presses his fingers up to the armor but is immediately rebuffed by a strong burning sensation. The party fans out and investigates while Marcellus fixates on the  Black Armor and determines there are multiple evil auras emanating from them; Marcellus warns everyone to avoid the Black Armor. An inquisitive N'jall ignores the warning and attempts to touch up inside the armor but immediately recoils in shock, falls to the ground, and immediately begins convulsing and foaming at the mouth. Instinctively, Valner rushes over to N'jall to administer healing to him but he too immediately drops unconscious upon contacting N'jall. An astonished Marcellus jumps into action, covers his hands with holy water and begins some rushed prayers and rites over the two…. while this goes on for a few seconds the two of them experience terrifying lucid nightmares that fill them with new fears: N'jall experiences a terrible feeling of vast emptiness filled with an evil presence, Valner experiences being buried alive under a tumble of rock and earth while  slowly being crushed.

The two come to again and appear visibly fine and Marcellus again reminds the party to avoid the Black Armor if that wasn't abundantly clear.

Darion continues on to find a storehouse filled with siege supplies, disassembled ballista, bolts, extra carpentry, and other supplies. Being of no immediately use the party reassembles and continues through to a hallway lined with bunk rooms.

The Hall of Flames

Hearing a commotion up ahead our heroes set up an ambush and let Argus cast dancing lights to lure the orcs into the waiting ambush. This does not go well. While they are hiding they hear the heavy slow clanking of heavily armored steps approach and then stop momentarily before a terrible fireball is loosed out down the hall.

A terrible fire explodes and begins to spread.

Valner, and N'jall are now trapped in their room with the fire blocking the exit. Ta is cornered and consumed by flames while Argus manages to jump away and pat the flames on himself out. Darion, Marcellus, Pheoebe and Liz are safe in the most forward room but do not emerge to do anything as the fire continues to fill the hallway, it creeps towards the siege supplies, and begins to encroach into Valner's room. Valner pulls out his gauntlets and begins bashing through the wall to reach Marcellus and Darion, this eventually creates a hole large enough that one person at a time can fit through…. Not wanting to leave their companions behind the party begins to throw every source of water they have at the fire… this works in small patches, but the fire continues to spread. Finally Valner magically creates fresh water over the most intense portion of the blaze which allows Argus to escape to rejoin the rest of the party and allows for a visibly burned and unconscious Ta to be rescued… They rush away from the flames just in time as the flames reach the siege supplies and large explosions begin to ring out from the store room at the other end…

Our heroes hustle away from the fires and explosions into a hallway…. down one end they see a gate being defended by Orcs bracing against the apparent battering of a ram from the soldiers outside… They run in the opposite direction to run into a friendly face… a man holding a crossbow who rushes them up the steps to find Sargent Darryn and some of his men… (Darryn is the sargent rescued from the mines a few days past).

Darryn explains the predicament he and his soldiers are in and asks for the heroes to continue up to fight the Il-Khan before he escapes… They agree and lobby the band for any volunteers to join them, They're joined by a Dwarf named Horace and a halfling named Eclipsa. Daren gives what few healing supplies he still has which are quickly handed over to Valner.

Struggling with Ta…. Darion decides to take off his necklace and place it around Ta… Which provides enough strength to narrowly bring Ta back to her feet and continue the fight.

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Session Eight: The Bulwark
Scaling the Bulwark, New Heroes, The Siege

The Battle of the Bulwark

Having spent the day coming down out of the mountains and through the hills to the eastern most part of the Bulwark the four companions find an intact siege tower standing at the eastern end of the wall, allowing for a way up onto the walls. As our four heroes approach they hear the brutal sound of Orcish talk from atop the ramparts as a human body is tossed from the wall… With hopes of finding more imperials atop the wall and alive they rush up the siege tower and immediately rush into an unprepared orc party around several chained captives.

With the sun light quickly fading over the horizon the fight begins. Marcellus charges out at the nearest beserker off to the right on a siege balcony and begins a deadly duel with the ferocious orc. Darion charges down the steps to the left and engages the other beserker while N'jall and Valner look on from the relative safety of the siege tower…

An unexpected javelin is loosed from the lower platform impaling N'jall.

The Orcs now distracted the halfling among the captives immediately starts working out of the chains and helps others lossen and run out to grab downed weapons littered atop to fight back against their orc captives. Darion brings down a devastating blow upon the Beserker but is then immediately hit back with a powerful hit from the Beserker; Darion lets out an enraged yell and brings down his falchion again, this time cutting deep into the beserker's chest as it drops limp… intimidating the half dozen orcs now staring up at him. Marcellus trades blows with the other beserker as Valner and he take a devastating side swipe and pushes Valner back where he tends to N'jall's wounds from the relative safety of the siege tower.

One of the captives now freed, Alkinas, immediately rushes into the fight unarmed to tackle an orc from behind but instead takes a devastating slash across his gut. A hooded femail ranger, Ta, a mage, Argus, and the halfing scurry about to avoid the orcs as Darion starts moving from orc to orc and unceremoniously killing them, saving the captives.

About the time Darion and the others mop up on the lower platform the sounds of fighting on the siege balcony cease. Marcellus has been cut down by the berserker and begins moving towards the steps….

A wounded Darion continues towards the second berserker in his rage and makes combat with it, the captives following up. Darion trades blows with the berserker before it is finally slain…

In a brief moment of apparent safety the survivors greet their newfound friends as N'jall's limp body is brought out next to Marcellus' and the others begin to search around the immediate area…. It is not long after the fighting stops that a large orcish war cry is heard from the south side of the wall and continual volleys of arrows start hitting all over the wall and beyond from the south side…. There is a massive fight about to happen.

A random arrow kills the wounded Alkinas outright while the others scramble to  destroy the siege tower or disable it from use by the approaching orcs….  Valner tries punching the tower's door ramp but the others throw some tar onto it and light it ablaze… They then scurry around and into one of the towers taking the bodies with them. They barricade the north tower and start fanning out… after a short time they come back to find a large spider  sinking its fangs into N'jall and another one crawling on Darion… they are quickly killed and Valner checks over N'jall's wound for venom.

As they hear loud shutters against the south wall the entire company is transitioned to the north tower where they fortify for the night…. 

Kreensnik

Argus, the Halfling, and Ta continue to look around… they start to poke around the catwalk on the south side of the wall, ignoring an arrow loosed at them, missing and striking the wall behind them…. the halfling ignores the warnings and advances down the catwalk to be shot down at the other end and then decapitated by an orc…. calling it quits for the night  they retire to the north tower… Argus decides to send a message with his falcon horace to the imperial camp in the south.

Following some rest, Marcellus and Darion awake from being downed to find themselves held up inside a tower, introductions are made between the  new arrivals… Ta is a female human ranger with long blonde hair that partially covers her face, clad in leather, Argus is a male sorcerer clad in darker robes. Everyone is introduced and brought up to speed. 

Our heroes emerge from the tower to a scene of carnage from the battle that occurred last night; many orcs lay slain along the wall that were not there the previous night. The sounds of battle have mostly subsided. Following Darion the party begins to traverse the lower catwalk towards the next tower, where the halfling died the previous night… Darion is met with a bolt from the door and the party rushes forward to engage the remaining orcs in the next tower.

The fighting ensues as the party struggles to gain entry through the narrow doorway into a room where a Bugbear and several Orc Defenders are fortified, Darion and Marcellus lead while Argus supports with casting. Eventually an Orc is downed and the other runs away…. The Bugbear surrenders and our heroes begin interrogating him. N'jall leads the interrogation using a mix of tongues, only some of which is comprehendible as common to the rest of the party… with some threats and promises of safe passage out of the tower they are able to discover a few details… There's an Il-Khan named Treereaver held up in the citadel by the gardens who Kreensnik fights for, the orcs are not so much invading as they are escaping from a Sky God, a darkness that came on wings and set fire to the Greatwood, chasing the orcs south; aftter learning a few more minor details about the citadel ahead Kreensnik is released and he flees down the tower and out to the north towards the orc camp…

N'jall and Kreensnik share some incomprehensible words as he scampers away.

With the  Bugbear gone, the party quickly moves about to secure the rest of the tower. In a lower level, out on a siege balcony, the party comes across a quirky female named Phoebe, an aparent druid of some sorts who is about the Bulwark looking for her captured friend "Liz"… Introductions are made and Phoebe is accepted into the band as they continue their way around.

Anxious to get on their way and continue with the Mission a gungho Marcellus leads the way out of the tower towards the central citadel. There is a large explosion.

A visibly injured Marcellus stumbles back and yells for a retreat back inside the tower, the victim of an improvised landmine set atop the walls… The party scurries back inside the tower, wary of a follow up attack from any orcs alerted by the explosion. Valner tends to the wounds of a now visibly dazed and discouraged Marcellus while Ta leads the others to scout the catwalk along the way as an alternative to braving the rampart and risking additional traps…. The way is clear save for a small gap in the catwalk that has crumbled away, damaged by some siege engines from a previous battle. Darion carries one of the large oak tables out from the tower to cover the way across while Valner shames Marcellus into continuing onward.

Despite a few uneasy steps across the gap everyone makes it across safely and continues across into the citadel.

 

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Session Seven: Into the West
The Descent, Being Hunted, The Tower, The Ore, The Chimera - August 30, 2018

Beginning the Descent 

The party wakes up early in the morning on the 25th of High Heat to begin their descent down the mountain. 

There is only one path that leads down from the Dwarven Gate that our heroes choose to follow. Shoddily carved steps guide them down a steep path that quickly descends into narrow winding gorges. Visibility is restricted to a relatively short 30 yards or so in any direction. Thd descent takes most of the morning.

Several hours into the climb a thunderous roar from a beast out of sight comes at the party. Jumping from ravine to ravine the beat is massive and powerful… the clattering of the rubble beginning to slide down the slopes onto the path and the ferocious sound of the beast drives them forward at a frantic pace down the path and into an open area. 

The open area is unlike the previous track; its wide and fertile with grass and a few small trees. To one side of the plane on a small hill a ruined tower stands… Without thinking the four begin to sprint towards the tower to escape the beast. Valner almost trips but is helped up and remains afoot as one by one the four make it into the relative safety of the tower… looking out behind them there is no sign of the beast.

The interior of the tower appears ruined.  The first floor is strewn with fallen beams and broken furniture. The second floor is partially collapsed with the exception of a small area with some archaic symbols on the floor and some spell components that N'jall quickly claims. The third floor no longer has a roof as its been caved in… everything is the room is ruined with the exception of a remarkably well preserved book that is locked. Marcellus takes the book and together with Darion no sign of the beast can be spotted from the vantage of the top of the tower… regrouping on the ground level Darion and Marcellus decide to explore the basement… Darion almost kills Marcellus when he drops a beam accidentally… then again when they try a second time and the floor itself gives way as they both fall a short 10 feet into the basement.

The basement is a cadavers laboratory… countless glass jars are filled with the preserved remains of every sort of animal… at the far end of the cave like basement broken chains, a talon, and a broken ceiling giving way to daylight show where the beast hunting them likely was imprisoned for a time. N'jall takes a jar of snakes and empties several more jars out to save for a later time.

Coming back up to the ground level Marcellus tries to force open the lock to the book but is quickly jolted and lit aflame by the trapped lock… Valner quickly helps put out the flames, but a visibly scorched Marcellus gives the magical book to N'jall for safekeeping.

It's about midday, our heroes plot their next moves from the relative safety of the tower.

Hunted

Having spent the first half of the day traveling down a narrow path through the rocks from the Dwarven mine, the party is attacked by an unknown beast and takes shelter in a ruined tower. Inside they find a sort of cadaver's workshop apparently belonging to a wizard, including a book Marcellus catches ablaze trying to pry open… With a shook Marcellus recovering from the trapped book, Valner and Darion plot their next moves while N'jall inspects his recently acquired jars. With no signs of the beast from their obscured vantage inside the tower they decide to move out. With an option to leave to the left or right they decide to go left, assuming it heads in a more southward direction towards their destination…

A cautious Marcellus is sent first, cautiously poking his head left right and up out the tower there is no sign of the beast in the immediate area but he does sight what looks like moving tree branches off in the distance near the left path… looking again the movement is gone. the 4 companions cautiously advance in formation across the dryer ground through the clearing into the western passage. The path continues in a similar manner to the path leading into the tower opening but is more rough… some of the four see what seem like sparkles catching in the air that appear then vanish without cause.

The Black Ore

Coming to another fork in the path the party chooses to head right, leading to a dead end; at the end there appears to be a deposit of hard black ore. Upon closer look the unknown ore is hard. Without a way to mine it Valner attempts to break some off with his gauntlets but only small fragments break loose, N'jall warns of the risk of an avalanche from the disturbance, but the party pays him no attention. The canyon echos with the sound of the impacts that carry well over into other ravines; pausing no response is heard but as they leave a small rock slide quickly grows into an avalanche… Marcellus and Darion are able to brace and resist the raw force of the tumbling rocks while Valner narrowly escapes, but as the dust settles N'jall is no where to be seen…. Frantically searching through the loose rock a visibly injured, but alive, N'jall is uncovered and drug out; a triggered Valner won't forget this.

Heading back out to the fork our heroes veer right and head deeper down the ravine….  another wide opening is reached that slopes from left to right before narrowing again at a small passage bridged by a natural rock… cautiously approaching the bridge, Marcellus faintly hears what appears like a screech similar to the ones hear the previous night in the mine, but upon a second attempt nothing… Unable to see the bottom the party cautiously crosses the natural bridge and continues… Marcellus in the lead… Passing several smaller passages they continue, after some time a delirious Marcellus loses his orientation and begins to tumble forward down a steeper section of the path… N'jall rummages through Valner's pack to find something to throw at Marcellus, by the time he finds the rope and throws it Marcellus is already halfway down the slope and beyond the reach of the rope. A visibly confused Darion does nothing.

Marcellus receives some minor scrapes but stands up under the shadow of an overhang in a den of bones. Some are humanoid, some are clearly animal like an oxen. Speculating that  it could be the beast's lair Marcellus quickly recovers himself and scampers back up the fall to the other three. N'jall says he tried throw a rope while Valner tells him to drink some water to help ease the heat… At the dead end of the den our heroes double back and veer off down one of the smaller side passages they bypassed.

It's a Chimera!

Almost immediately they reach a larger opening ending at a collapsed dwarven gateway; before the gateway lays a scattered pile of partially clothed corpses between some small worn pillars. Before they can move in closer to investigate the ruins a roar and the flapping of wings disturbs the peace as the beast swoops in and lands amid the clearing.

Now clearly visible it is a Chimera, a large lion like creature with a snake in place of a tail, horns, and wings.

The Chimera takes an aggressive stance to confront our heroes; having been stalked all day by the beast and with no hope of outrunning it to safety they draw their weapons and prepare for combat.

Before they know it the chimera bellows forth a fiery blast, Darion and Marcellus are able to avoid most of the flames but Valner is lit ablaze and suffers serious damage before being able to respond… a still visibly injured N'jall is barely out of reach of the flames and quickly scurries to the edge of the cliff while Darion rushes the chimera with his falchion drawn and begins hacking at the beast, a more cautious Marcellus braces his shield for the next attack, putting himself between the beast and the others.

The chimera focuses all of its efforts on Darion, snapping at him, slashing at him, and even bitting at him with its tail. Taking some injuries Darion becomes enraged and begins attacking the beast more ferociously than before. Marcellus closes with the chimera and calls upon the power of Saint Sabinus, first healing the burns and then leasing forth a powerful searing smite, cutting through the chimera and setting its mane ablaze while Valner and N'jall continue to loose crossbow bolts into the beast.. Valner and N'jall  scurry in and out of cover while Darion and Marcellus hack at the beast… a pint of oil is thrown at the flames to intensify the blaze. 

After a devastating blow from Darion's falchion the Chimera staggers back then leaps atop an outcropping to recover itself, but before it can recover Darion draws Skylance, the bow gifted in the mines, and looses a magical arrow to finish the Chimera off… it's limp body stumbling down before their feet.

Apparently victorious, Darian, Valner and N'jall begin to dissect the Chimera while Darion and Marcellus searches the rest of the den for anything of note where a set of masterworked half plate is found on one of the dead while the other is the wizard from the ruined tower and  the creator of the chimera; on the wizard'd remains a silver key, a silk robe, and a signet ring with an inscribed name are found. N'jall immediately uses the key on the locked tome to uncover the notes on chimera research used to create the beast with the second half being a list of spells.  N'jall takes the spoils along with another salvaged chimera claw. Valner claims the breastplate and sees to the wounds of the others… examining Marcellus he notes nothing wrong with his condition despite the battle.

Marcellus gives some quick prayers to the Keeper as the others collect their loot and t he party moves to leave the den and continue their trek out of the mountains.

The Temple

The four companions double back to the clearing where the ruined tower stands and take the only other exit out of the area, the one N'jall had previously recommended… The heroes proceed for a short time before coming across a low wall  blocking the ravine with a small doorway and ruined door in the middle of the path. A cautious Darion throws a rock at the door causing the aged wood to fall off the hinges and crash to the ground with a loud thud… With no apparent trap the party precedes through the doorway.

Inside they find an open air temple with weathered columns in two rows going from left to right; straight ahead another doorway and wall like the one they just entered, exiting to the path continuing down the mountain…. to their left shuttered earth and pits separating them from some ruins and to their right a large doorway hewn out of the stone and some steps descending into darkness. They cautiously approach the doorway to the right and are met with the scent of honey… With no signs of traps the four descend down steps that wrap back around and under the temple above… before them is a roughly cut out cavern with a few unmarked pillars, natural light seeps in through the cracks in the ground above and before them is a fountain, the apparent source of the scent.

A beleaguered Darion rushes at the small pool and jumps in while a skeptical N'jall and Valner hesitate to even approach it…

 Marcellus reaches back into his religious knowledge to conclude this spring is a sacred pool that had a temple built around it; these natural springs sometimes carry magical almost mystical powers, some are greater than others…. Usually large holy sites are constructed around them; some are more well known than others and the most well known sacred pools become pilgrimage sites for devoted followers…. Marcellus also moves forward and begins to touch the water and enjoy the refreshing cleansing held within…

Darion strips down and begins floating and swimming around with little reverence for the power of the pool while a mortified Valner looks on before accepting it and approaching… 

The pool has great powers, it cleans clothing and armor without soiling the  water, it tastes fresh, and it heals wounds. Marcellu s and Valner fill flasks with the sacred water while Darion fully submerges and fully enjoys the water. A skeptical N'jall doesn't get close to the water…

After some time has passed the others manage to pull Darion out of the water and resume their trek through the Temple and down the mountainside. Marcellus feels drawn to the far side of the temple but resists the urge to explore the perilous slopes and pushes down with the others. After traveling for a few more hours the sun begins to fade into the distance as the four companions arrive at the Bulwark.

 

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