Dalelands

Dalelands, Session 06
"Guecubu"? Gesundheit!

Shiel finds some tracks on the floor leading into the tunnels which seem to have been left behind by heavier humanoids with boots while the mane 
tracks are only leading outside. The stench in the cave is horrible, rotten meat has been attached to the walls which is infested by worms. Only one of the tunnels seems to have been "decorated" like this while the others are natural stone tunnels. The tracks are very visible and easy to follow.

The group happens on a crossing, most of the tracks lead towards the east and Thana also hears some voices from there. The tracks leading to the south are visible more clearly, apparently someone has been carrying a lot of weight to the south.
Eventually the group decides to search the southern tunnels first. More and more of the cavern walls seem to be covered in meat, even though the meat seems to be fresher and not as rotten as close to the entrance. Glimmer the glowing orb seems to be increasingly frightened.

Finally they happen on a big room with a large pentagram in the middle. Mourngrym is standing at a large fountain which seems to be gushing blood into a large bowl. A miserable prisoner has been chained up in a big cage and some torture instruments are lining the walls. Mourngrym is not alone however, a zombie is shuffling towards the adventurers while a dretch, an abyssal creature, alerts him to the adventurers. A seedy looking human is guarding the cage.

As the adventurers run into the room the rogue at the cage threatens to kill his hostage which seems unlikely as he's armed with a mace. Kerrick recognizes him as one of the bandits who have tried to kidnap him. He tries to him with a crossbow bolt but misses wildly. Mourngrym orders the rogue and one of the dretches to get his victim to the sacrifical altar and grabs a bone dagger which has been lying on the altar. His previously
incurred wounds are still noticable however. One of his arms us hanging uselessly on one side and rotting flesh hanging off his side. Glimmer blasts him with a blast of light which tosses him to the floor.
The zombie shambles over to Shiel and slams him with a mighty blow, Shiel trades blows with him however. Nimue's winds toss the the rogue into the cage from which he just yanked the hostage out of. The hostage is fighting the dretch's iron grip fiercely and trips him.

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Kerrick uses Mourngrym's predicament and pounces on him impaling him with his rapier. Mourngrym's corpse twitches however and a guecubu bursts forth! The demon announces Kerrick as worthy of being its newest host because "murder comes easy to him".
The guecubu attempts to possess Kerrick but his amulet glows in a pale sickly light and the guecubu recoils in horror and stumbles back a few feet while ordering his henchmen to tear the amulet off Kerrick. The other dretch is taking a heavy beating while Shiel is grappling with the zombie. The bandit drinks from the red fountain and turns into a mane!
One of the dretch is slain and explodes in a poison cloud. The other flies into a rage and claws into Shiel and Nimue. The newly created mane severely rips into Kerrick requiring Thana's immediate medical attention! Kerrick finishes off the mane which is distracted by the darting Glimmer.

The group discusses whether to burn the unholy ritual book for a while and Nimue pockets Mourngrym's magical dagger. They decide to ask for Lhaeo's advice. The pentagram circle should never be able to be used for any unholy rituals according to Nimue. It is lacking basic arcane symbols. 

A shrill scream echoes through the cave! The heroes storm into the general direction and happen on a grisly scene. A greenish demon with spikes through his skin has slaughtered several humans. He's also accompagnied by the guecubu which has fled seeking his aid. Not bothering to deal with the adventurers, the demon withdraws through a gate into his realm, leaving the guecubu behind to deal with the group!

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Dalelands, Session 05
Mazes & Manes

At the Old Skull, Kerrick surprises the group with a new ability which he's learned: he's learned to craft an illusion from shadows which disguises him as a fellow humanoid. In this case, he's masquerading as the miller's daughter. His plan is to lure the mysterious kidnappers into making a move considering only fair maidens have been taken so far.

Soon, he's accosted by a group of four ruffians. Not liking his odds, Kerrick decides to flee. He drops a few caltrops which manage to slow the henchmen, but their boss hits him with a a poisoned bolt from a hand crossbow. He manages to shake two of his pursuers but notices that the poison starts working. Kerrick is out of options, suddenly he hears a dark voice offering him help, he just needs to voice its name three times. In despair, he calls on Pazuzu's aid to "get away from his pursuers". Suddenly a tent forms into a hole which carries him back to the back of the inn.

Here he happens on Sister Tara who just happens to have an antivenom for him. She reveals a kenku's foot amulet similar to Kerrick's. Apparently Pazuzu doesn't want his investment to go to waste. Sister Tara tells him that the "first step is always the most important".

Kerrick goes to the cemetary to rejoin his companions. None of the mercenaries know of a thieves guild with black robes, not even Targen Mallorn knows of any organized thieves or assassins.

Thana and Munroe break the seal around the house and the party prepares to move in. Icehyll doesn't seem to be prepared for more than guard duty outside on the cemetary.

The door seems stuck however, it cannot even be picked. Closer investigation yields traces of abyssal magics holding the door closed. Eventually the mercenaries break the door down. A putrid smell of decay wafts outside. Dead rats litter the floor which are infested by worms.

A book describing the times of death lies on a table. Yesterday's date includes Munroe. Today's date lists the death of Jhaele Silvermane, the owner of the Old Skull. A few old entries are less specific and just list "some woman". Shiel suspects Mourngrym may be behind the women's disappearances. Apparently the old caretaker of the cemetary died about one year ago, and the new writing seems to be Mourngrym's. Also he seems to have future plans for the town as the future dates of Shadowdale's people are listed!

One of the mercenaries remarks that the Jhaele's tavern seems to be closed which is unusual for this time of day. Only the humpbacked cook answers Shiel's call though. Thana detects some slight signs of a struggle.

Searching the cellar a bestial smell assaults the group. The cook confirms that this is certainly NOT normal. Thana notices that a wall seems to have been recently molded. Touching it reveals a hole which leads into a cavern tunnel which ends at the cellar.

Little creatures warped by evil, manes, approach quickly and are accompagnied by a headless zombie. The manes bite deeply into Nimue and Shiel before the group can even react.

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Several of the small beasts throw down Shiel trying to pin him. Finally his psionically enhanced blade manages to catch two of them while Kerrick uses Nimue's distraction to stab the mane in front of him.

Nimue's tornado spell tears apart a mane while the one on Shiel's back bites deep into his neck. Thana's holy fire incinerates one of them though and heals one of his wounds. Eventually the rest gets hacked to pieces and electrocuted.

The mane seemed to have some items squirreled away, including a magical amulet and a diamond. Shiel seems to have contracted some kind of disease from the mane bites though. 

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Dalelands, Session 04
Grim Gravediggers

Munroe Cassimar finally leaves the tavern to walk back to his temple, closely followed by Kerrick, who is trying to stay unseen while tailing him.
Kerrick spots a sparkling object on the street, which turns out to be a golden ring. This distraction makes him lose sight of Munroe, so that he has to rely on his street wisdom to assume where Munroe went.

Kerrick hurries to catch up and reaches the cemetary while the rest of the group follow some distance behind. He notices the cemetery gates being open and sees a shadowy figure digging a fresh grave for a coffin leaning against a wall.

Reunited the party enters the graveyard.
Just as Nimue starts to approach the gravedigger, a glowing orb shoots out from close to the temple. The gravedigger is distracted by the approaching Nimue and the orb scatters away.

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He claims that he's loving to "work at night". Thana offers to bless the corpse but the gravedigger who calls himself Mourngrym is having none of it. He distrusts gods because those are responsible for the sorry state the world is in. According to him Munroe Cassimar "just leaves the corpses" and he buries them. He refuses to let the group check the corpse in the coffin who's probably a refugee according to him.

Nimue trudges off to the temple to find Munroe and notices some glowing shards of the shattered orb on the floor. With Mourngrym distracted by Thana and Shiel, Kerrick sneaks off and picks the door of the temple.
Nimue and Kerrick enter the now open temple.
The glowing orb which appears to have been a lantern like device, seems to have smashed a window of the temple flying out towards the grave. Kerrick walks to the broken window and mimicks Munroe Cassimar's voice, asking for Mourngrym. Horrified the gravekeeper drops the coffin. Much to Shiel and Thana's surprise Munroe's corpse tumbles out of the coffin.

Thana verifies that Munroe is still alive, he just seems to have been hit from behind with a blunt object. Also he's wearing an unholy symbol of a raven's claw. Shiel draws his sword and asks Mourngrym for an explanation whose lantern suddenly bursts into an unholy green flame.

The glowing orb's splinters suddenly reform into a complete lantern in Nimue's hands. The doors of the sheds burst open and swarms of rats scurry out.

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Before getting attacked Shiel hears voices of the attacking rats in his mind promising him a painful fate. He blocks the initial rush however. Nimue manages to fry some of the rats with a colorful burst of arcane energy.

Thana identifies the glowing orb as a messenger creature from the Seven Heavens. Shiel charges his sword with electrical energy and deftly cleaves Sorrowgrim whose eyes glow with an unholy fire.

Kerrick charges Mourngrym from behind and pierces him deeply with his rapier. More rats come out of the shed, including a dire rat, flooding over the adventurers while Kerrick, Thana and Shiel engage the monstrous Mourngrym.

Eventually Mourngrym gets cornered after taking several deep cuts and teleports away in a flash of green light. The resistance to damage granted by Thana's Moment of Glory prevents most of the damage the remaining rats can do.

After dispatching the rats the party tries to figure out the nature of the unholy amulet around Munroe's neck,it appears to be a mummified kenku foot. Impatiently Kerrick simply rips it off, only to have the amulet attach around his own neck. Thana identifies the ornament as cursed. It will probably require a ritual to get rid of it.
Thana suggests breaking the curse to remove the amulet, Kerrick does not agree at all. "Why would I want to remove it, if it benefits me?" he calls, leading the group to bear with it for the time being.

Munroe wakes up and when asked about Mourngrym he states that he has worked in the cemetary for some time for low wages. The orb he identifies as Glimmer which watches over the cemetary for undeads. Apparently some of the corpses have revived lately. His old mentor supposedly has given Glimmer to him.

Inspecting the amulet, Munroe asks Kerrick if he has heard of Pazuzu, Kerrick denies. Munroe explains that Pazuzu is a bringer of Chaos, being either a demon prince of the Abyss or an elder kenku god depending on who you ask and that this amulet represents one of his symbols.
Thana is quite fond of Glimmer so Munroe leaves it to her to do good with.

The group decides to notify the militia and the guard captain Icehyll to guard the city from further evil coming from the gravekeeper's shed. First the entrance to the shed is sealed by Munroe and Thana with a warding circle against evil.

Icehyll and his mercenaries dismiss Nimue's and Shiel's warning, most of them are drunk anyway and they refuse to send men to guard the cemetary at night.

At the Tower of Ashaba they finally manage to get a major of the guard, who is fed up with Icehyll and proceeds to the brothel with our heroes to shout at the captain and kick his celebrating men out of the tavern and force them to accompany the party to the cemetary. He introduces himself as Targen Mallorn, son of the High Chancellor. He's heard that the resistance is planning to cause grief to the Zhentarim and he's afraid that will bring their wrath down on the city, something it cannot afford on top of its other troubles.

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Dalelands, Session 03
The Refugee Crisis

Finally, the party arrives in Shadowdale. Local militia men complain about the Cormyrean mercenaries who are building roads for their armies. Also the High Chancellor of Ashabenfurt who's fled to the town seems to be particularly unpopular. Also there's a lot of tents with refugees who's fled from Ashabenfurt which leads to problems with the local populace. The only priest in town seems to be Munroe Cassimar, a priest of the Raven Queen who is tending to the sick and injured.

Kerrick sneaks off to the Temple of the Raven Queen, but it is closed at the time. According to some villagers, Munroe seems to unnerve them, but so far he has been the only priest around. After the masses he tends to disappear, but he is supposed to go to the Old Skull, a bar, every evening. He usually disappears again around midnight.

At the bar, the party overhears that some of the refugees have gone missing recently. The town militia tells them that the refugees often go to the forest to scavenge for food and probably get ambushed by robbers. They don't have any heightened motivation for further inquiries because they're understaffed, and the people from Ashabenfurt have feuded with Shadowdale for quite a long time.

Thana and Nimue go to talk with the refugees. They happen on the humpbacked cook of the Old Skull who is doling out food to the refugees. He doesn't believe that Munroe has anything to do with the disappearances.

Kerrick sneaks outside to catch Munroe before he enters the Old Skull. He shows him the tapestry which he looted off the dead driver. Munroe seems to know something about the image and presses Kerrick to tell him the truth. He is annoyed that Kerrick tries to lie about the tapestry's origins. Kerrick tells him about dreams he has had about the tower with the ravens circling around it. Munroe admits that he has had the same dreams and describes that as a dangerous calling. Following the call will almost certainly be dangerous but may yield (spiritual?) rewards. He promises Kerrick to keep silent about the dreams and their meeting.

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While Shiel fetches Thana, the reclusive Lhaeo enters the bar. Since Shiel doesn't know him personally, he is mostly ignored sitting on a chair sipping on his beer. When told about the missing refugees, Munroe states that he has been searching for them himself but his search hasn't turned up anything. Thana suspects that he isn't quite telling the truth. Munroe is suspicious of Jambal Icehyll, the Chancellor doesn't appear to pay him, so how is he making a living?

Shiel  finally gets to know Lhaeo who tells him that things are looking grim for the resistance at the moment and that he's supposed to bring any trustworthy allies to the Old Skull tonight. He confirms the kidnappings, the perpetrators seem to target female refugees only.

Back in the bar, when quizzed about the history of Laothan, Lhaeo tells Thana that according to stories, Laothan has left something important in each valley in the dalelands. Apparently, also in Ashabenfurt and the Golden Ear, two locations the party has already been to. The Golden Ear is even supposed to be the burial ground of Laothan's remains. Thana also learns that Munroe has reconsecreated the old temple of Chauntea to the Raven Queen.

The others agree to help clear up the mystery of the missing women. According to Lhaeo, 12 women have gone missing in the last 8 months. He is also expecting more members of the resistance and mentions a name: Arithon, who is supposed to arrive in about 2 days. Lhaeo identifies the dragon cult ring. After muttering some words, the stone of the ring changes into a green color. Apparently it is now attuned to a new master, a green dragon that seems to live close by in the woods. The ring seems to allow communication with dragons in the draconic language. Is the dragon connected to the missing women? 

The party decides to visit Munroe at his temple to see what he is up to at midnight and to ask him about dragon activities. In the morning the party intends to ask the refugees about the women that have gone missing and to visit the High Chancellor. Kerrick even suggests to pay a prostitute to be bait for whoever is kidnapping or murdering women but so far the group dismisses his idea.

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Dalelands, Session 02
Dungeons & Purple Dragons

Kerrick asks Shiel about a tapestry that one of Shiel's followers supposedly gave to him (read: that he stole from her dead body…). It shows an unkindness (flock) of ravens and a tower. Shiel can offer no knowledge about the scene but other of Shiel's comrades report dreaming of the tower and the ravens.

After calming Horrick who has discovered that Nimue is 'sorta' an elf, the group squeezes down the stairs into the goblin warren.

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They hear yapping sounds of humanoids arguing and feral growls. Kerrick mimics their sounds so the group can approach without causing alarm. Going down the stairs they happen on a group of kobolds accompagnied by a horde of guard drakes. The drakes scurry towards the adventurers but Kerrick deftly evades their charge.

The kobolds however cause a few wounds with hurled rocks and daggers but Nimue's lightning bolt catches one of them in chest while Kerrick backstabs a drake.

Two of the drakes evade Shiel's desperate attempts to defend himself and tear him to the floor. Thana's prayer manages to heal his most immediate wounds while Kerrick's rapier thrusts take down a few kobolds. The kobold shaman in the back commands his allies to attack yet again while Horrick storms down the stairs and begins to brawl with one of them.

After the tide of battle turns against them, the kobold begs the group to spare him. Without a definitive answer, the shaman casts a smoke spell which erupts through the entrance chamber and flees in the confusion, leaving his last remaining henchman stuck in a tight exit tunnel. Kerrick kills the scared creature, dismaying Thana. 

The heroes finally recover Thana's stolen chest so she can finally recover her…robes and armor. She closes the exit tunnel with Nimue's help and consecrates the warren, the lost shrine and the cemetery with holy water. Then the party forcefully closes the entrance to the warren.

After introducing herself to the group, Thana asks Kerrick about his destination. He tells her that he is from the southern Dalelands and convinces her that he is purely driven by wanderlust.

Thana identifies this lost site as the Golden Ear of Corn. According to Chauntea's advice she is supposed to follow the ways of the cleric Laothan who has lived about 150 years ago. He was from the Dalelands and, after adventuring, returned to the Dalelands as a folk hero and missionary of Chauntea.

After traveling on through the forest, the adventurers happen on a small group of mercenaries led by Scott Harikon, a Purple Dragon of Cormyr. After ascertaining that they're no thieves or spies, he tells them that the group is preparing to attack the town of Ashabenfurt. They even have a newly build siege weapon.

During the conversation around the camp fire, Kerrick stays at the edges of the light and seems to be missing at some points (Checking out the camp and discovering Harikon's well-protected tent.)

Harikon identifies a ring the party found in the rubble as a signet of the Dragon Cult. He tells them that the Dragon Cult has tried to gain control of Sembia and Cormyr about 100 years ago. He asks the party to bring the ring to Lhaeo, the scribe of Elminster.

In exchange for some jewelry Harikon offers the party some passage papers so that Cormyrean patrols won't bother them.

Thana offers her help to Harikon's group, healing some wounded and sick soldiers.

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Dalelands, Session 01
Enter the Heroes

The year is 1544.

In Highmoon, Shiel prepares a small caravan with the local resistance against the growing Zhentarim incursions carrying provisions to Shadowdale. He's supposed to deliver them to Lhaeo the previous scribe of Elminster who seems to be planning "something big". The caravan includes two wagons and two packing mules. A pig farmer is manning one of them while a tradeswoman in steering the other.

With him is a fellow guard, Horrick. Shiel foolishly lets the slightly deranged Horrick talk him into using the secret "elven paths" in the direction of Sembia to avoid possible Zhentarim raiding parties. The caravan promptly gets lost in the forest and happens upon Nimue who has set up camp there and who decides to accompagny them out of the wilderness. After stirges attack one of the donkeys and one of the wagons carrying a few barrels breaks down, the group has to move on leaving some of the items behind.

Weary, the caravan finally reaches Ashabenfurt. They are eyed suspiciously by thugs and thieves as they trudge through the streets trying to find a place for the night. They see a kenku being kicked out of one of the bars. Using mimicry he sets the thugs on each other and a fight breaks on inside.

The kenku who introduces himself as Kerrick notices the group and offers to find them a safe place to rest. He also tells them about the Dons who rule Ashabenfurt with their brutal gangs.

To protect their remaining provisions, the wagon and remaining donkey are guarded throughout the night. Kerrick asks them if he can come along since he's on a trip to the north anyway. The group agrees.

They travel along a street passing a few hill graves and decide to brave the road through another forest. According to local stories there's supposed to be a ruin of a shrine to Chauntea. Kerrick has heard in town that even bandits are staying clear of that region after a string of disappearances.

As they finally reach the lost ruin which is situated close to a small cemetery they are greeted by shrill voices and feral growling as goblins ambush the party. A few of them are riding feral wargs. In the middle of combat, a warm light washes over the clearing and the stunned onlookers turn their heads to the altar. A humanoid figure with lilac skin appears. When the light fades, the adventurers recognize her as a newly-born deva, taking her first breath and her first careful steps. One of Shiel's new followers from Ashabenfurt steps forward, revealing herself to be the goddess Chauntea. The good-hearted amongst the onlookers can see and hear the goddess, overwhelmed by the experience. The others just stare at the new Deva, unable to move. Chauntea names the Deva her new cleric. "Bring back the light….", Chauntea asks of Thana, "…follow the path of Laothan…". A chest materializes at her feet – clothes, a mace and a magical holy symbol. A valuable gift.

With that, Chauntea's presence fades out. Combat resumes. As Thana recognizes the evil creatures defiling the sacred ground she quickly picks up her new weapons and lets Chauntea's blessing guide her attacks.  

Thana's holy powers fell several of the goblins who retaliate with their shortbows and wound Thana and Nimue.

The adventurers watch in horror as Horrick is killed by three goblins ganging up on him. While several goblin reinforcements arrive, Shiel manages to get rid of the goblins he's fighting with.

Nimue shows her arcane abilities and pelts a few with lightning bolts while Kerrick manages to get the drop on one of them.

A goblin shaman finally signals the other humanoids to retreat. Thana checks the fallen comrades. Surprisingly, Horrick turns out not to be quite dead, so Thana is able to save his life. Having felt Chauntea's light, Horrick converts to the faith of the goddess. The driver of the cart is dead however. Kerrick rummages through her belongings and procures a tapestry which displays a tower in a forest, circled by ravens. Also, 3 rings are found. One has the shape of a dragon. 

In the confusion, Thana's chest has disappeared. It can be traced to a secret passageway underneath the altar. Someone must have dragged it below the ruined temple.

Nimue lends her coat to Thana so that she can cover herself. The party descends into the darkness.

 

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