Dalelands

Dalelands, Session 14
Those dirty Pirates!

The party reaches Stormpenhauder, Madarn's hometown. The head of the city introduces himself as Telimas Dreamweaver, a cleric of Sehanine Moonbow. When asked why they are worshipping an elvish goddess, he answers that they need her protection in  this hostile territory. Since then the town has prospered.

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Apparently Tara has indeed visited the town before like Madarn told them, and she's left a flock of annoying kenku. Kerrick recognizes them as Peke Redcliffe's band of pirates which have sailed upstream from Sembia. He uses his power of mimicry to pose as a human barmaid.

The pirates don't seem to be allied with Tara after all. In fact they're after her since she's stolen part of their booty including a spellbook of great power. Ilthond seems to have been one of their customers and has been supposed to buy the book from them. The pirates suspect that Tara has been responsible for sabotaging their ship so they have had to go on land. She has shortly afterwards made her escape with the book. Kerrick tells them that she isn't really a kenku after all. The pirates have never seen her as anything else though. They have had some run-ins with the Dons though in which they have lost half of their crew.

Thana asks Telimas about the vivid nightmares several of the group have had since Sehanine also governs the dreams. Only Shiel agrees to tell him about his nightmare when asked. Telimas identifies the old creature as an Obyrith who once governed the upper layers of the abyss until they were betrayed by lower demons and mostly eradicated by the Tanar'ri.

Telimas tells the adventurers that a lot of the villagers have started having nightmares involving a dark tower in the forest surrounded by flying creatures. After mentioning Pazuzu Talimas tells them that he also joined the Tanar'ri in betraying their old masters. Also he's known to offer his aid to mortals for a terrible price usually involving their corruption. He's attracted by people with pure intentions. 

Telimas also examines Mourim's sword, Blooddrinker. He thinks that is possessed by a Loumara, a spectral demon kind from the 230th layer of the Abyss who are created by fraying dreams of dead gods.

When asked why he has such detailed knowledge, he tells them that he was visited by 'The Mentor', a mysterious figure from the Order of the Sword who has told him that even though most gods are dead, the power of belief still carry weight in this world. Mourim may be held close to the Melis'har lake in the old ruins. Worried about Nimue's brother the group stocks up on antitoxins and heads out to the lake…

At the edge of the lake the party finds the ruins of some elven (drow(?)) manor, but it seems to have been been destroyed long ago. The columns in front of the manor only seem to have been recently destroyed, perhaps a few months ago. They seem to have been constructed a long time later than the rest of the ruins. They are also covered with protective runes indicating worshippers of Sehanine. Now they are rubble close to the entrance gate though. Spider tracks of impressive size cover the area in front of the entrance which itself is walled off with a giant spider web.

When Nimue applies a torch to it the web burns quickly. The group hears mental cries of anguish when it burns. In the rubble Thana finds a blessed mace which carries the runes of the Mentor. Madarn confirms that the old man left in this direction. The destruction of the columns indicates a battle of epic proportions which must have taken place a long time ago.

Nimue enters the gate and is greeted with a giant web which drops down on her. Ettercaps scurry out of the inside to attack!

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Dalelands, Session 13
A Tale from Long Ago...

The pursuers aren't far behind according to the noises. Kerrick scatters a lot of caltrops on the floor and the party emerges behind a waterfall. Horrick and Nimue manage to tie a sturdy rope to a tree on the opposing riverbank. After rescuing Thana with a grappling a grappling hook the group sets off in a slightly wrong direction.

They finally reach the Spiderhaunt woods at night and decide camp before searching for Shraevyn's tower in the morning. According to Hedistrin who appears at their campsite, the tower is only a few miles away. She does sense hostility from the tower however which seems very strange to her.

Most of the adventurers fall into an uneasy sleep. In his dream, Kerrick meets Tara who tells him that hero lord (Pazuzu) claims the tower as his own. Ravens are circling around the tower. She offers him the raven claw amulet as a sign to renew his faith but Kerrick refuses. Enraged, Tara crushes the amulet making his heart feel like it's bursting. Kerrick awakes in cold sweat.

Shiel finds himself in what appears Myth Drannor during its apex of splendor. He wanders through the city marvelling at the art and other wonders which the city holds. Suddenly, foul demons appear and begin to slaughter the city people. Even paladins of Corellon aren't able to withstand the demonic assault and are devoured. Shiel is finally the only survivor and jumps into the maw of a huge creature trying to slice it but is devoured as well. He wakes screaming in his bedroll.

Hedistrin reaches into Thana's mind but cannot find anything about Myth Drannor's fall. She does the same to Shiel who feels very ill and reveals that three demon generals participated in the attack on Myth Drannor but were slain. Enraged, their armies destroyed the city. Hedistrin narrates that most of the demons have been Tanar'ri, she calls them 'younger demons'. The maw however she declares as being even older than the generals, a creature born from the chaos of the Abyss.

Nimue wakes on an altar surrounded by sahaguin, even her brother Mourim is at her side, but he rebukes her for defying the Devourer. As she is tied down she cannot really resist and is killed by his hand.

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Thana tries to calm her in her sleep but Nimue resists and summons the storms in her heart who materialize as Umberlee. This version however has a gaping hole in her chest. Umberlee remarks it was 'necessary' and tasks Nimue to find her body in the deeps. She also cautions her not to trust Mourim who she sees as lost. Black tentacles signal the power of the Devourer so Umberlee cuts the meeting short.

Apparently Umberlee has been responsible for Nimue's current condition. Traveling onwards, the group happens on an old road and a peculiar spectacle. A gnome is trying to force a giant spider into a cage on his cart. The beast resists fiercely. He introduces himself as a spider hunter, salesman of rare poisons. After Shiel helps him push the spider onto the cart, he introduces himself as Madarn, hunter of spiders. He notices Kerrick and remarks that he has just seen another kenku in his home village, probably Tara. He even hands Kerrick a vial of poison as a present.

Suddenly a larger group of spiders approaches the cart. Madarn promises the group a hefty reward if they can deliver the spider parts to him.

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The spiders consist out of several swarms, a lot of spiderlings and nasty poison spewing Feyspitters who can emit a noxious fluid at the adventurers hitting Nimue and Shiel. Mourim whisks over the battlefield and impales a Feyspitter with his bone dagger which sucks the spider dry.

Nimue indiscriminately blasts Shiel and the spider swarms and injures all of them…several times.

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Madarn notices a huge spider approaching. A dire spider bursts from the foliage and grabs Mourim who drops his devourer blade and slumps lifelessly in its grip. The giant spider carries him off.

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Dalelands, Session 12
Swords & Skeletons

Searching the remaining corridor, the party finds yet another big chamber. Judging by two highly decorated coffins it may indeed be the resting place of Shraevyn and his wife.

A huge skeleton and some smaller, but burning skeletons guard the chamber. The big skeleton which is near the entrance remains motionless when Shiel enters but instantly charges Nimue when she squeezes past him. Apparently the key the guardians bestowed on Shiel has made him appear as a non threatening target. The huge skeletal guardian grabs Nimue  and grabs her.

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Nimue twists out of the creature's grip however. The flaming skeletons pelt the group with flaming spheres which they shoot from their fingertips. Thana reinforces the groups defenses however so even being set ablaze doesn't hurt them.

Kerrick nimbly darts up to the lumbering guardian and slashes him in the side before retreating. Rondra and Shiel work on the creature which seems to be able to take a lot of punishment. The skeletal guardian pummels Shiel and throws him around like a ragdoll but a lot of his damage is mitigated by Thana's holy aura.

Several critical hits finally lay the large skeleton to its final(?) rest. The party charges to get at the flaming skeletons who have continued to assault them from afar.

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Checking out the coffins reveals that one of them is empty. It is the smaller of the two which is covered in elven symbols and paintings of a sword. This coffin can be opened but seems to be empty. Kerrick pries off some of the jewels decorating the lid.

On the other bigger coffin lies a jewel encrusted sword. Rondra tries to grab it but is shocked by a green lightning bolt which the sword emits.

Ilthond also notices a portal at the end of the hall which looks like it has melted through the wall, but not quite. He senses the vibrations of the Astral Sea behind it.

Meanwhile, Shiel with the key in hand, tries touching the blade. In a vision he sees an elven woman which calls herself Hedistrin, the wife of Shraevyn. She doesn't know if she's a ghost or projection. Apparently the sword has accepted him as its wielder for now.

Suddenly there's a commotion outside. A guardsman from outside stumbles in and warns about a larger approaching force of Zhentarim which are currently entering the grave! Luckily, Hedistrin knows a secret way out. Rondra decides to stay behind to buy the group to escape.

After making good their escape, the group decides to investige Shraevyn's Wandering Tower. Hedistrin affirms the tomb guardians' advice that both Shraevyn's key and the Sword of the Dales are needed to enter it. The sword is needed because Hedistrin can pinpoint the Tower's current location. And the key which is formed like a small pyramid is of course needed to gain access it.

Hedistrin locates the tower in the Spider Haunt woods which lie south of Shraevyn's tomb, so the group embarks on a quest to find it.

 

 

 

 

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Dalelands, Session 11
Gambling & Glibber

After the gate opens, the party happens on a crossing. A bronze statue depicting a woman stands on a pedestal. Kerrick notices that the statue must have worn some sort of amulet, but it's missing now. A book is lying on the pedestal close to the statue. It seems to be a tome bound in leather. Apparently it is some sort of diary which contains runes. In each line, exactly six symbols have been marked.

Thana remembers the Tymora coin which she has just found and presses it into the hole where the amulet has been. The statue activates and welcomes the adventurers with doll-like motions. It tells the group that the more they risk, the more they stand to gain. Kerrick tries his luck and gambles a gold coin. The runes below the statue form random patterns and coalesce into 4 identical symbols. Kerrick wins 80 coins. They don't seem to be regular gold coins though but bear the face of Tymora. He gambles the 80 coins but two stashes of different coins tumble out. 30 depicting skulls (probably made from bone), 20 from copper (depicting a demon(?)). This time, pitch black coins tumble out, probably obsidian and without any image.

After gambling some jewelry, Nimue ends up with a diadem and some coins while Thana loses an amulet she's found.

The group follows a tunnel which has fleshy walls much like the ones discovered below Shadowdale. They warn Rondra Morn about the demons they've discovered there. The group finds an room filled with rotting flesh. An Ixitxachitl (a demon resembling a manta ray with spikes) priest is guarding a blood well similar to the Shadowdale one which turned the bandit into manes.  He has two fat little grubby green demons and a few giant beetles with protuding hands as his minions.  Mourim identifies them as agents of the Devourer.

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First, he's being rushed by Kerrick and Nimue who target him with crossbow bolts and lightning storms. The beetles, called "runespiral demons", fire lightning balls into the advancing rear group while the little green demons, "gnaw demons" rush in the front trying to protect their master.

The demonic front row is holding the attackers at bay for a while the Ixitxachitl drinks from the foul liquid and makes flesh grow over the entrance, locking out Nimue and Thana.

Inside the gnaw demons tear some flesh out of the adventurers and Kerrick severely wounds the Ixitxachitl. Meanwhile the outer group blasts a hole into the wall using a mix of arcane and divine powers.

The Ixitxachitl drinks from the fountain yet again but falls into the pool sinking below the surface. His minions keep fighting however. After the melee fighters take care of the gnaw demons and only one runespiral demon remains, the pool turns to blood red and regurgitates and bloodfire ooze, a being seemingly made out of blood appears from the depth. It breathes a lightning bolt at Kerrick sending him to the floor but Thana brings him back from death's door.

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The bloodfire ooze has several nasty abilities like boiling over which burns all enemies around it and it also radiates intense heat. It manages to drag down Rondra into the pond. Luckily the last of the demons fall soon after and the mystic barrages from Ilthond and Nimue wear down the last resistance of the ooze after Rondra has tried purifying it. 

The blood well remains open however, not even the rescued Rondra knows any way to seal it.

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Dalelands, Session 10
Keys & Kruthiks

Nimue's brother tells her about the Cleansing. Also the high priest of the Devourer  has subjugated her clan. Some of the sea elves have turned into Sahaguin. The problems in her village had begun when the sea water turned to salt water. Sea elves have drowned and the rest have been forced into a deal with the Devourer's minions.

Mourim tells Nimue that the high priest hasn't simply let him go, he's supposed to bring him the key from Shraevyn's grave which is supposed to open the Tower of Dreams, Shraevyn's old mage tower. 

Glimmer is identified as a lantern archon by Rondra. Before entering the tomb Shiel suggests to Thana to keep an eye on Mourim who while not evil himself perhaps(?) is still serving an evil patron.

Glimmer lights the way, the walls depict battles with demons, here and there a few pieces of the wall are missing. Nimue tries to get Ilthond to detect mystic vibrations but he doesn't feel inclined to. Shiel spots some creature scaling on the ceiling, but it quickly moves out of the light's radius.

While the rest of the group tries to spot the creature, Rondra detects a hole on the side wall with a mechanism which probably opens a secret door. It does open a secret chamber with some bookshelves. Sadly also some skeletons pour from the room. More are coming from the front room.

While Shiel ponders whether to charge into the room with the skeletons a filament attaches to him and he is hoisted into the air! Two cave fishers entangle him and Nimue and pull them into the air.

Kerrick manages to get rid of the skeletons in the side room with several rapier slashes. The cave fishers pull up their victims even further and bite deeply into them, but Shiel finally manage to stab his captor with a charged sword thrust. Nimue breaks away from hers but tumbles down to the floor. Kerrick gracefully shoots Shiel's cave fisher after which Shiel falls down ungracefully. Meanwhile, Ilthond has been hit by two arrows from the skeletons and is bleeding profusely. 

Glimmer shoots down the remaining cave fisher and the group focuses their attention on the skeletons. Kerrick breaks through their defense line to get to the archers who manage to shoot him. Meanwhile their frontline collapses under the combined assault of the melee fighters.

The final archer skeleton eludes a few hits from the attackers and even manages to cause severe wounds on Kerrick but Thana's holy light from above finally makes it crumple to dust.

Searching the bookshelves in the side room reveals old ritual books of some forgotten non-evil god. They only seem to contain wise sayings in horrible rhymes which noone comprehends.

The ritual circle in the main room seems to consist of dried blood while holes in the ceiling might indicate the entrance which the kruthiks took into the tomb.

Kerrick finds a platinum envelope in one of the books which he pockets. In one of the other books Thana finds a metal disc with some images of Tymora. Kerrick thinks that it may open some sort of mechanism but keeps that to himself.

Rondra Morn wants to remove the pentagram on the floor. Nobody can decipher the runes though. Some evil force seems to have been at work here. The skeletons probably were some of Shraevyn's personal guard according to inscriptions over empty coffins at the side of the hall.

Rondra and Thana consecrate the circle the spirits of the old guardians of Shraevyn materialize to confront the adventurers.

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Suspicious, the ghosts ask the group for the reason why they disturbed their slumber. Showing respect for their old struggle to protect the dalelands from evil for so long, Shiel vows again to prevent the grip of evil from tightening around the helpless. After all, the adventurers have just freed their bodies from the unholy magic which has animated them.

Moved, the spirits bestows on him the key which can open the gate to the inner tomb. They tell him that the key and the Sword of the Dales are needed to open Shraevyn's tower which is supposed to float in the plane of dreams. They do not know if the tower still exists (it's been a few hundred years after their death to now) and lament the fall of Myth Drannor when he tells them of the old elven city's final fate.

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Dalelands, Session 09
Rivers & Riddles

Thana searches the riverbed with her followers for the shards of Glimmer. The river is about ten feet deep. The group spot a reflection in the water. Nimue and Darian jump into the stream to dive for Glimmer while Horrick tries to pull the two back to the shore.

Nimue has a feeling that the magics infused in the water seem to resemble the ones in storms. Traversing the forests and moving to the east seems to lead the group out of the territory of the lizardmen.

The group approaches the Giant's Craw in front of Shraevyn's tomb. An adventuring group seems to be camping in front of it. Nimue recognizes one of the adventurers as her lost brother, Mourim. Mourim is shocked to see Nimue. Ilthond, a red mage of Thay is working as an advisor. The heavily armored female knight introduces herself as Rondra Morn. Shiel . After mentioning being sent by Ariton and Lhaeo Rondra's demeanor softens. She agrees that a dark force is probably dwelling in the river, perhaps an agent of Venomina the Poisonous.

The tomb of Shraevyn is flanked by two statues. One of the elven battlemage which in which he is depicted wearing a short beard which is uncommon for an elf. The other statue has been cut off above the knees.

Shiel studies the old elven runes on the gate, but they don't seem to make any sense, the combination of them doesn't form any complete sentences. Searching for clues about the opening of the gate fails until Thana notices draconic runes hidden among the elven. Shiel discovers a few dwarvish runes in the mix, and the whole text forms a poem.

The party ends up turning the statues to face each other, the writing changes to Supernal. According to the new poem, Shiel and the red mage cross sword and staff while Kerrick uses a hand mirror to watch the gate. The runes change yet again demanding "The Oath".

Remembering the Mantled King, Shiel swears to uphold the peace of the dales. The gates suddenly disappear! Ornaments on both sides of the corridor behind the gates depict the Mantled King and some unknown elven king of Myth Drannor fighting against hordes of demons while wielding a green glowing sword.

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The group finds holes in the floor which have been left only recently. Nimue identifies the track marks as ones of several Kruthiks, insectlike metallic predators. A whole horde of them rushes the front gate which is currently held by Nimue and Shiel. Both back down the stairs before being overwhelmed while Kerrick nimbly darts up and slashes one the bigger insects before vaulting back down to safety. Some of the soldiers get overwhelmed by some jumping kruthiks but Mourim and Rondra close the gap in the defense line which covers the gate.

Nimue places a howling tornado into the cavern entrance. Suddenly a huge kruthik bursts out of grave. It seems to consume the tornado spell and its scale glow blueish green. Suddenly it leaps over the defenders and jumps on a hapless soldier of Rondra's troupe, tearing him apart. The magic it absorbed enables it to use some variance of the mirror image spell seemingly splitting into three creatures! Shiel is boxed in by the smaller creatures and cannot hurry back to protect the backline.

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Nimue and Kerrick manage to destroy two of the duplicates before the real monster impales Kerrick with its spikes and applies its mandibles to nimue. Shiel abandons the smaller kruthiks and jumps at the big kruthik in hopes of distracting it from his companions.

It spray a burst of acid over Shiel and some soldiers instantly dissolving one of Rondra's group. Shiel is burnt badly, delivers a large blow to the giant kruthik while guarding the people close to him. Kerrick manages to corner the monster from behind until a massively charged sword of Shiel finishes it off.

The soldiers seem to be quarreling with the red mage whom they blame for the several deaths. Meanwhile Kerrick pockets some items of the fallen. The group decides to rest until the dead soldiers have been buried.

Nimue catches up with her lost brother talking about how she THINKS she was sacrificed but somehow came back before the Devourer in which she believes took her.

 

 

 

 

 

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Dalelands, Session 08
Got Brain?

Kerrick knocks at Sister Tara's door while the rest of the group is away shopping for provisions. Two of the brothel girls show a trapdoor below one of the tables. Sister Tara is supposed to wait for him downstairs in the cellar.

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Below he happens on a nearly undressed Sister Tara who is floating in the air while dark vapors form a pair of black wings on her back. Once again she asks for the brain which Kerrick cannot procure without her help. The two agree on a lie including the corpse of a refugee girl who just happens to miss a brain who should be buried intact… Kerrick is supposed to bring the brain to the cellar and toss it into a cauldron which is filled with a nasty green bubbling fluid.

Thana holds a ceremony on some fields to further the growth of the grains. She even seems to have attracted a potential acolyte. Shiel visits the tower to find Lhaeo and ask him for some maps of the dales, but finds it abandoned. Jhaele at the inn hands him a large scroll case which Lhaeo has left behind for him that "might be of use to him someday".

Thana visits the abandoned temple of Tymora with the acolyte, Darian but cannot get inside while the guards patrol outside. Apparently only the Mallorn family can get her the authority to enter.

At the burial Kerrick tries to bluff his comrades regarding the backstory of the brain, but his allies seem to be remarkably distrusting. He does resist Sister Tara's mental suggestion to "use the amulet" however. Shiel suspects the magical influence of the amulet in befuddling his mind, so he asks Munroe for help in removing the cursed amulet. Kerrick admits his dealings with Tara and reveals her alliance with Pazuzu. Munroe deems Tara very dangerous and suggests notifying the guard before confronting her.

He is not able to break the curse without the help of a very holy site. Munroe also cannot come up with any non-evil rituals which would require a human brain, a point Shiel and Nimue have incessantly bickered over. The group is worried that the amulet may harm Kerrick in the meantime. Kerrick finally carries the brain to Sister Tara who makes him throw the brain into the cauldron. She climbs into the cauldron and her features seem to melt. When she reappears she has been transformed into a winged kenku. WIN_20170206_20_45_18_Pro She tells Kerrick about the glory of the kenku and the lies of the younger gods. She gestures and the cursed amulet falls to the floor. Tara leaves him with the choice to leave or stay with her. Her supernatural charm clouds his mind. All Kerrick can do is flee is confusion. He has the nagging suspicion Tara didn't even need the brain but has a lot darker plans involving him.

Darian is introduced to the group and decides to join them to be able to stay with Thana. Horrick also insists on joining and agrees to improve his fighting ability with Shiel.

Finally on its way, the group tries to cross a river. The bridge is guarded by dragonborn and lizardmen who claim to be servants of Venomina the Poisonous. Suspecting that to be the name of the green dragon, Shiel presents the dragon cult ring and claims to be in the employ of the green dragon. Thana displays the knowledge of the draconic language. While the lead dragonborn is confused, a shaman in the background refuses passage. While the lizardmen and dragonborn argue, the group attacks them from behind!

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A thunderbolt on the middle of the bridge breaks open their line of defense and the group quickly takes the middle of the bridge. Thana, Kerrick and Glimmer mow through the dragonborn. Nimue flies over to the other border and blows two archers off their feet.  The rogue retaliates with his dagger though and his guard drake also chomps into Nimue. Shiel dispatches a lizardman who has just smashed Glimmer (yet again), but fails to pull the shaman to him with his psionic powers. The dragonborn are steadily pushed back. Most of the lizardman have fallen in the meantime. The shaman is pulled out from his allies and knocked down waiting for Kerrick's coup de grace.

This is enough for the remaining kobold who runs into the forest screaming. The last remaining creature seems to be a mix between a kobold and a dragonborn. It throws down its weapons and asks for mercy. The group loots some gold and a golden hooked chain, another signet of the Dragon Cult from the corpses of the fallen.

Their prisoner tells the group of many patrols who don't frequent the sewers below the bridge though because those are haunted by a many-tentacled monstrosity. Great.

Glimmer hasn't reappeared though. The group lets the prisoner ride his guard drake over the bridge, an opportunity which he readily takes.

 

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Dalelands, Session 07
Bountiful Employment Opportunities

The guecubu hurls a table at the hapless heroes. Everyone dodges frantically out of the way apart from Thana who gets smashed to the floor. Kerrick draws first blood, but the guecubu seems to be phasing between dimensions and only partly there. It lobs a bed at shiel who blocks it with his shield and charges the demon, drawing its attention.

It unleashes a psychic fear wave on Kerrick and Shiel causing a debilitating pain to both of them. Shiel counters with his best technique which allows him to better shield allies close to him. Thana's holy powers add another layer of defense to the adventurers and soothe Kerrick's agony.

The guecubu phases into the floor and reappears behind Thana blowing a cloud of poison which engulfs everyone but Kerrick severely hurting the group. The close quarters prevent the melee fighters from getting close to the guecubu without suffering the poison's ill effects. Nimue's wind spell carries Shiel  out of the shifting poison mist which seems to have debiliating effects on the adventurers as they keep missing the guecubu.

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The guecubu wills its poison area to waft closer to the group trying to suffocate them. Shiel psionically charges his sword and charges the guecubu only to hit the air yet again. The guecubu smashes Glimmer to the floor when it tries to zip past him just as Nimue's storm knocks him onto its back.

Kerrick jumps onto the fallen demon and impales him. This doesn't stop the guecubu however so Thana asks for divine guidance before shooting a bolt of divine flame at the demon.

Shiel stabs the demon twice before Nimue's lightning bolt finishes it off. Its essence is pulled through the abyssal gate. Its master will probably not be amused.

The party finds a human brain in a jar which can probably be used for evil arcane rituals, a magical shield, a golden harp and an enchanted crossbow which goes to Kerrick.

Discussing the assassins turning into manes, the group dismisses them being henchmen of the Dons since those aren't known for consorting with the occult.

Back at the Old Skull the group notifies the villagers of Mourngrym's demise. After mentioning the abyssal portal Targen Mallorn suggests notifying his father.

Accompagnied by Targen Mallorn the party visits the Tower of Ashaba. The guards let them pass since they are in the presence of the son of the High Councilor.

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The High Councilor listens to Shiel's introductions and his story about the gate below Shadowdale. Asking Munroe's advice, it is decided that the Order of the Sword should be asked for help. It resides in Battledale.

The rest of the day is used for some much needed resting. Shiel's illness has not gotten better however. At night, Kerrick has a dream in which he hands the brain in the jar to Sister Tara. After visiting her she tells him in thinly veiled words that it would be nice if it would "disappear" before being buried by Munroe who wants to lay the human remains to rest.

The group briefs Lhaeo about the demons which they have discovered below Shadowdale. Lhaeo identifies the book as some sort of abyssal religious scripture. He suspects the involvement of Bhaal.

Ariton tells them about the predicament of the resistance and the severe lack of manpower. Rondra Morn, the leader of Daggerdale has been deposed by Guthbert Goldhammer of the Bloody Hand, a mercenary organisation allied with the Zhentarim.  In the chaos a green dragon has taken over the castle of Daggerfall. Rondra has been forced to flee and hide out in the forests. Lhaeo has told Rondra about a legendary sword of elven make, the Sword of the Dales which hails from the days of Cormanthyr, forged by the mage Shraevyn. Aencar, the Mantled King who had once nearly unified the dales has been known to wield it. Shraevyn has been known to be wise and just. The longsword has been known to free the oppressed and break the chains of the subjugated.

In the northeast of Shadowdale, the grave of Shraevyn and perhaps his wife (Lhaeo is not certain), has been found. Rondra was supposed to visit it and search for clues. But the grave has been closed and so far the resistance  has been unable to find a way to open it.

For the time being, Munroe is supposed to create a warding circle to prevent anything from getting out of the abyssal gate.

 

 

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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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