Black Heart

A brief absence

After defeating both the aberrants and the undead beneath the town of Ashenport, the party exited the caverns only to find that a much longer time than anticipated had passed. Ten years in fact. Evidently the vampire claiming to be the Serpent Lord was working with some sort of time machine that was triggered or malfunctioned after he was slid into it. The party, and presumably the vampire, had been thrown forward in time by ten years.

The party worked their way up the cliff and back to the town of Ashenport only to discover that the town had been abandoned. It is unclear when exactly the town was abandoned, but it appeared as though several years had gone by without any inhabitants in the town. Lonys and Kildrak sent a message to Branwin to tell them that they were not dead and to try to find out what was going on. As they awaited Branwin’s reply, it became apparent that the Mutation had spread quite a bit in their absence. Where before the Mutation had primarily been contained within the Roan Valley, now the entire island, and even the ocean, appeared to have been affected. The expected reply came not from Branwin, but rather from Graben instead. After receiving the message from Branwin, the party decided to head back to Gryphon’s Bluff and was relieved to find that the Apparatuses of Kwalish were still in tact and in working order.

Upon reaching Gryphon’s Bluff the party discovered that the entire region, including the city, had been taken over by aberrants serving the One Who Hears. After meeting with members of the resistance, which included Chesty, Jeska, Solara, Laren Shadowheart, and Branwin, the party was told that the primary problem facing the resistance was that a beholder had erected a tower halfway between Ravenswood and Gryphon’s Bluff and that from the tower it was able to see any massing of resistance forces. Although several attempts had been made to destroy the beholder, none had been successful. It was decided then that the party would attempt to destroy the beholder and that if successful, then a raid on Gryphon’s Bluff could be made.

The party used Obsidian Steed to fly to the tower and in the process also used Traveler’s Camouflage to conceal their approach to the tower. The party was able to bypass the foulspawn that were massed outside the tower in part with the rituals, and in part with the distraction set by other members of the resistance. The party made it inside the tower without alerting the forces outside, but they were soon alerted when Kildrak erected his wall of thorns. The party was also confronted by several of the beholders allies, including a mind flayer, in the entrance to the tower. Those enemies were defeated just as the first of the foul spawn burst through the barricaded door from the outside.

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Going Up?
Don't Split the Party

As the foulspawn hulk burst through the door, the party reacted quickly and began to focus fire upon him. However, he brought friends with him who were less than pleased about going through the wall of thorns the druid erected. All four of the foulspawn proved resourceful, and the party was largely depleted of resources, but ultimately the party would carry the day despite the bruising attacks made by the hulk and the dazing effects the other foulspawn.

As the party rested, Kildrak summoned his bear to his side and prayed to his god to grant him the ability to better aid his allies, and was rewarded with extra healing abilities, at the cost of much of his ability to control the battlefield. The party the decided to work their way up the tower. To their surprise, they learned that the ladders allowed them to actually levitate up to the next floor, and that the ladders were really just for show. The second floor revealed six separate rooms that appeared as though they were being used as nurseries. Dozens of cribs, all of the empty, were found in the rooms, but no creatures lurked about. The third floor of the tower featured a large vault with crystalline walls that housed the beholder’s treasure hoard, but when Elana and Adiah attempted to open the vault, they triggered the trap protecting it, each of them taking necrotic damage. While Adiah was attempting to disable the trap, Elana decided to explore the next floor which featured a library.

As Adiah and the rest of the party were still trying to figure out the door to the vault, Elana decided to venture up to the fifth floor, and soon learned why not to split the party. As she reached the top of the ladder, she found three rather angry demons. Though Elana reacted quickly, she did not react quick enough and one of the demons went first. Four swipes of its claws and a stab with its stinger later, and Elana was unconscious, taking continuous poison damage, and just about to walk through death’s door.

The party was able to bring Elana back from the brink of death and things started to turn around for them. One of the demons was able to pass through the floor and descend to the library where it attacked the party. Its shadowy nature made it hard to damage but it was soon destroyed. The third demon, looked the least dangerous initially, but soon proved its worth as it was able to possess both Adiah and Goeban during the fight. Once the shadowy demon was killed though the remaining demons proved to be easy prey and though the party was battered, they were ready to move on the next level, and hopefully, the beholder.

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Beholders have babies??

After resting up following the battle with the demons, the party prepared to head up the ladder. Before they got to the ladder though, Xandrikyl, the beholder that built the tower, called out a challenge while acknowledging its appreciation for the skills of the party, stating that it hadn’t enjoyed itself so much in a while and stating that the party was far better than the previous groups that had come to the tower.

As the party went up to the 6th floor, they found Xandrikyl in its throne room, along with dozens of tiny beholders that swarmed together. The beholder did not waste time trying to talk to the party and the fight was on quickly. Xandrikyl’s eye stalks sent out shot after shot and soon Lonys and Kildrak were turned to stone. Meanwhile, the baby beholders, which had eerily humanoid features about them, swarmed Elexara and began biting her constantly, while also taking bites out of anyone around them. Elana soon found herself bloodied by the beholder’s rays and Kildrak couldn’t shake his petrification. Things were looking grim as Elana was suffering from the beholder’s death ray as well as bleeding out, Kildrak’s bear had been destroyed, and Kildrak still could not shake the petrification.

Things began to turn around though when Adiah gave Kildrak another chance to shake the petrification and finally the sentinel snapped out of it. With Kildrak back in action, he unloaded his healing arsenal and soon the baby beholders were destroyed — which seemed to particularly anger Xandrikyl who fired three rays into Elana in retaliation. As the party was able to concentrate on Xandrikyl, it was soon bloodied, at which point it became even more dangerous, gaining extra attacks and taking extra actions. Still though, the party refused to yield and soon the beholder had to pull out its last trick and fly up, and through, the roof of the tower and take the fight to the tower’s top.

The fight continued on the rooftop and though the beholder was clearly on its last legs (so to speak), it still proved dangerous. Twice, it came close to pushing Elana off the top of the roof, but both times she was able to grab onto the ledge to avoid going over. Finally, Elexara was able to put the killing blow on the beholder and the party, exhausted, was able to relax. Elexara took the beholder’s eye stalks as trophies while Lonys went to the throne room to check it out. Sitting on the massive throne, Lonys felt the throne resize and reform to fit him perfectly and incredibly comfortably. At the same time, Lonys could feel the tower passing control to him and he was able to mentally disarm the trap on the vault doors as well as unlock them. All in all, the party found the tower had an alchemy lab, a library, and a permanent teleportation circle on the roof. Additionally, Lonys realized that he could magically lock the tower’s door with a simple thought, making the tower a viable base of operations for the party should they desire such a base.

With that, the party slept for several hours and contacted Solara upon waking. It was learned then that the resistance had started its attack on Gryphon’s Bluff but that the the aberrants had been tipped off. The gates were sealed from within and the resistance was struggling to get them open. Solara asked the party to do what they could to help get the gates open and the party decided to use the teleportation circle to teleport into the city, using the same warehouse that they had previously ported into when they first came to the city. Once in the city, the party decided to use the sewers to sneak toward the gate. As they were approaching the gate to the city from beneath, Lonys spotted a patrol in the sewers. With the patrol spotted, and the party still hidden from the patrol, the party prepared an ambush. Only time will tell if the ambush will pay off or not.

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Taking It To The Streets
Here there be dragons!

With the patrol spotted, the party prepared an ambush at a crossroads of sorts in the sewers. The patrol consisted of several spiders that were apparently being lead by an aberrant humanoid. Although the spiders were poisonous and fairly mobile, they proved to be fairly easy prey for the party and the patrol was quickly dispatched. After searching the body of the aberrant, as well as a few of the patrol’s prior victims, the party resumed their trek toward the gates of the city.

Reaching the section of the sewers that were nearest the city gate, the party risked a peek up through the sewer and heard the sounds of a large scale battle in the vicinity of the gates. The party quickly climbed up the ladder of the sewer and took some of the defenders by surprise. With most of the aberrant forces set on the walls or just outside the gate, the party was able to take the defenders by surprise. Goeban and Lonys both hurried into a gate house on either side of the gate and worked to raise the gate. With Elexara and Adaiah holding off the defenders outside the gatehouses, and Elana peppering the archers on the city wall, the tide was quickly turned. As the gates opened, the resistance fighters swarmed in through them. Solara located the party inside the gate and thanked them for their assistance.

Though a major hurdle had been cleared, there was still much to do. The aberrant forces were still scattered throughout Gryphon’s Bluff and it was believed that at least a few of the leaders were still holed up in the main hall of the city. Solara gave the party the choice of going after the leaders, or trying to cut off the escape of the aberrant forces at the docks. The party opted to try to cut the head off the snake and set off for city hall. Along the way, the party skirted several pitched battles as the fighting continued throughout the city. Although it appeared as though the resistance had the upper hand, the party soon encountered a more cohesive squad of the aberrant forces. A mind flayer was teamed with several aberrant soldiers and a pair of ghouls, and had just finished off a squad of resistance fighters when the party encountered them.

At first, it seemed as though the fight might again prove easy as Elana began picking off the soldiers on the roofs of the houses. However, the aberrants were soon joined by a blight dragon which fought along side them. The dragon proved fearsome, stunning the party with its roar and letting out a breath that seemed made of both decay and fire. Lonys was able to engage the dragon though and delivered several powerful blows while Elexara subjected it to her defensive magic. Adaiah was able to support the party as well as help finish off the rest of the aberrants while Goeban rushed through a building to get close enough to blast the dragon with his divine power. As the dragon tumbled to the ground, the party let out a sigh of relief, but the fight was only just beginning and the party still needed to continue on to city hall.

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An Old Friend Rescued
And a Ranger Skinned

As the party recovered from their fight with the blight dragon, they observed a dark portal opening in the sky above the city hall. Looking upon the portal, the party realized that they had to hurry in order to stop the aberrants from bringing forth whatever fell creature they were attempting to summon. The party split up as they attempted to fight through the crowds that were gathering in panic in the streets. Half the party took to the rooftops while the Elexara lead the other half through the streets with sheer force. The party arrived in the government square in time to see a group of foulspawn lead by a foulspawn seer engaged in the summoning ritual.

The party rushed into combat in an effort to disrupt the ritual before it could be completed. While most of the party took to the street in order to bring their power to bear on the foulspawn, Elana remained on the rooftops where she believed she could fire upon her enemies from safety. As a foulspawn hulk seemed poised to pummel Lonys with a massive blow, Elexara teleported the hulk and forced him to pummel the seer instead, disrupting the aberrant’s progress on the ritual. Meanwhile, as Elana peppered the foulspawn with her arrows, a foulspawn skintaker creeped up behind her and took her by surprise on the rooftop. As the skintaker struck Elana, it immediately took on her appearance as well and created a link between the two of them, enabling it to redirect some of the damage it took back to Elana. As Elana attempted to run away from the skintaker, she was felled by the creature, falling unconscious. The party rushed to Elana’s aid, but its ability to redirect damage to Elana kept the slipping in and out of consciousness before the party could finally kill it.

As the party recovered from the battle, a few members of the resistance approached them and offered up some healing, and one of them, Felandis, joined in the party’s pursuit into city hall for the aberrant leaders. When the party searched the city hall, they discovered a hidden door in the basement that had not previously been there when the party had last visited ten years prior. That door lead to a ladder that descended to a new sub-level beneath the building and opened up into a large room. Suspended by some sort of stasis field in the center of the room was Idira Leafdancer, the High Priestess of Erathis who was presumed to have been killed during the aberrant invasion. The party dove into battle but were confronted by a large force of aberrants, including two gricks. Making matters worse, the leader of this group of aberrants had a bond to Idira that caused any damage dealt to him to be shared by Idira. The battle was long and very hard fought, with both Elexara and Lonys falling unconscious at different points in the battle, but together, the party was eventually able to free Idira and kill the remaining aberrants. As the party exited the hall with Idira, they soon saw that Gryphon’s Bluff had been reclaimed, but a large portion of the aberrant forces had managed to escape to their fleet on the docks and head back out to sea.

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Moving Foreward

As the party emerged victorious from city hall after rescuing Idira, a hooded and cloaked creature was spotted atop one of the buildings across from city hall. Elexara recognized this creature as being the same one that was seen throughout the scenes in the Plane of Dreams when she was sent there by Solara. The creature appeared to nod to Elexara and then simply fade away.

The party was able to spend the next several days recuperating and discussing the strategy going foreward. It was clear that the aberant forces had been defeated in Gryphon’s Bluff but it was also clear that this was not the end of them. There is still also the matter of the Serpent Lord who may or may not have reformed at his blood cauldron by now and who still poses a threat. As the party was discussing their options, a priest of Ioun approached Goeban and indicated that although he still did not know anything about time travel himself, he had learned of a couple of possible sources of information. The first source was a sage by the name of Carlyse who was last known to reside in Sigil. The second possible source of information was the incunabulum of Glimmer. After weighing all their options, the party decided to travel to Sigil in the hopes of locating both Carlyse and Erathis’ shard of the Dyrnnentine.

Before leaving for Sigil, Lonys stopped by the temple of Erathis and informed one of the priests there that he was done taking orders for the Church and that he would no longer be their killer. Lonys threw down his axes and stormed off after renouncing the Church. Lonys also was able to acquire a new weapon, a falchion with a reddish-brown blade and announced that he will still continue his work, but that he is now working for himself.

The party then used a teleportation circle to travel to Sigil, ending up in the middle of the Market Ward. Adiah soon felt the pull from the Dyrnnentine telling him that the next shard of the artifact appeared to be located somewhere in the Lady’s Ward. Prior to searching for the artifact, the group sought out Carlyse. They were able to find some info on his whereabouts from several individuals and were directed to the Hive, a very rough and tumble district within Sigil. Carlyse was willing to part with the information that he knew about time travel, specifically that time travel required access to the very rare void crystals. He indicated that two crystals were needed for each trip and that they are expended as part of the process. He indicated that he knew of several locations for these crystals, including the town of Mistmarsh, the isle of Vandresca, the city of Glimmer, and the Court of Stars. Finally, he informed the party that if they should travel to Mistmarsh and recover a piece of Shadow Glass there, that they would not only find a void crystal, but that he would also give them one in his possession if they were to return the glass to him.

With Carlyse’s information in hand, the party next sought out the piece of the Dyrnnentine. They were lead straight to the Lady’s Ward and soon the Lady of Pain’s mansion. After being granted an audience with the ruler of Sigil, they learned that she was in possession of Erathis’ shard and that it was a vital part of her Staff. She indicated that the Staff is what enabled her to keep the greater powers, such as gods and demon princes, out of the city. She told the party that she was not willing to part with her shard at the time, but did indicate that she would give the matter some thought.

The party left the Lady’s estate with plans to return after she had been given sufficient time to consider the matter and decided to head to Mistmarsh and look for both the void crystal and the shadow glass. Following Carlyse’s directions, they found a portal to the Shadowfell and crossed through it with their port key in hand. The portal left them about a day’s travel from the city but they were able to reduce the travel time thanks to the Phantom Steed ritual. When the party arrived in Mistmarsh they learned that the undead generally only came out at night, and that they seemed to be particularly vulnerable to bright light. It had also been rumored that the lord, who is believed to be in possession of the shadow glass and the void crystal could also be weakened with bright light. Most of the townspeople were not aligned with the lord, but they were still trapped in the Shadowfell as long as the town was too. The party ultimately decided to take to the sewers in an attempt to enter the keep undetected.

Entering the basement of the keep through the sewers, the party quickly dispatched the few guards that were stationed there. They then proceeded to the main floor of the keep where the encountered much more resistance. There were several human guards, including one spell caster, but more importantly, there were two hill giants guarding the main floor. To make matters worse, the guards summoned additional help in the middle of the fight. This battle was a tough one, with Lonys falling unconscious at one point, but the party’s tactics were sound and soon the guards were defeated. The party had time to catch their breath after the battle, but what awaits upstairs is unknown.

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Assaulting the Keep

The party rested briefly before proceeding up the stairs to the second floor of the keep. Arriving on the second level of the keep they were confronted by a host of undead. The undead looked as though they were twisted abominations of former keep guards. Several of these former guards would rise back up after being struck down until they had finally been knocked down three times. Despite the resilient nature of these undead guards, they proved to be only a slight challenge to the party.

As the party was catching its breath following the battle, they were confronted with a vision of the guards they had just defeated. The guards were stationed on duty in the keep prior to being turned undead. As the party watched this vision, a blood curdling scream could be heard throughout the keep and shadows rose up from beneath the guards and seemed to envelop the humans, contorting and twisting them into the undead abominations that the party had just fought.

The party continued on, and approached the throne room of Zelkan Keep. As they entered the antechamber to the throne room the party was greeted with another vision. This time, the vision showed more of the keep guards, only this time they were stationed in the throne room. Also present at this time was the Serpent Lord, who as the scream rang out bit the neck of a female adviser, turning her into a vampire. The rest of the guards were once again corrupted by the shadows and twisted into abominations. As the party thrust open the throne room doors, a figure that appeared to be Lord Cadmus Zelkan was perched upon the throne and begged the party to leave while they still could. He was seen fleeing the throne room through a stairway behind the throne as the undead guards, including one vampire, poured into the ante chamber. This battle was a bit longer but the party still had little difficulty dealing with the undead defenders. The vampire was tough to bring down but was eventually turned to dust and the rest of the undead followed soon after.

The party paused briefly to rest then pursued Cadmus Zelkan up the stairs to the top of the tower of the keep. There, on the roof, the party was confronted with Zelkan, though he had morphed into a devil that was practically alive with fire. Elana began the battle by pumping several arrows into the devil’s hide, and though her strikes were as powerful as they were true, the devil did not seem to be overly phased by the arrows. Instead, it charged at Elana, striking her multiple times and leaving her not only vulnerable to fire, but also burning. The rest of the party rushed to her aid but soon found that this devil, some sort of a cambion was more than a match for the combined efforts of the party. Soon several members of the party were burning, unconscious, or both. Zelkan possessed the ability to toss the party around and leave them planted where they were thrown to. This caused both Goeban and Lonys to be knocked off the tower and fall twenty feet to a perch below the tower. Elexara was left to defend the others as best she could, but even her natural resistance to fire was tested. With both Elana and Adiah unconscious but surprisingly stable, Lonys and Goeban were able to rejoin the fray. Finally, the party was able to strike down the devil, seeing him revert to his human form, and looking surprisingly healthy given the beating he had just endured. The party quickly secured Cadmus, with plans to interrogate him further once they have a chance.

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A Bad Night's Sleep . . .
. . . And a Rude Awakening

After defeating Cadmus Zelkan on the roof of his keep, the party had the opportunity to question him. They learned that roughly a hundred years ago, when Cadmus and his wife Alyssa were trying to conceive, that a gypsy by the name of Rendella came to Mistmarsh and offered to aid the couple in their efforts to conceive an heir. The couple readily agreed to receive whatever aid Rendella could offer and were soon please to learn that Alyssa was with child.

Cadmus went on to tell the party though that soon after his son was born, his wife and child left for Lake Lumana. After they left, the situation in town soon became much worse. The sun dimmed and the town drifted into the Shadowfell. Cadmus, became cursed as well as the town and now Cadmus can not leave the confines of his keep. Whenever he attempts to, he is stopped by an unseen force. To make matters worse, Cadmus, like the rest of the townspeople, cannot die. Or rather, he cannot stay dead. The entire town has become cursed by whatever fell ritual was performed by Rendella.

The party rushed to the temple of Ioun in order to hole up for the night before the undead began to run through the streets. The priest at the temple indicated that the town appears to have been cursed for close to 100 years. He believes that the curse can be cured from within town, but is not certain as to how that can be accomplished. What he does know is that none have been able to leave the town since the night the Zelkan heir was born — roughly one hundred years ago. The priest did state that some of the townsfolk who had attempted to leave the town reported running into strange people in the fog who seemed to roam the fog, either searching for something or simply patrolling the townsfolk could not say. Although he suspects that the gypsy Rendella, or Caly as she was apparently referred to by one of her traveling partners, is responsible for the curse, he does not believe that she needs to be killed in order to break the curse. However, it is believed that she is in possession of the Shadow Glass that Carlyse sent the party to retrieve.

After spending the night holed up in the temple, the party awoke to the realization that they too were now curse. The party did not feel as healthy as they had previously and also noted that they did not appear to be as observant as they should be. A tiefling warlord who had recently come to town indicated that it did not seem that the curse would necessarily grow worse but the priest did indicate that some folk struggle with it more than others. Adiah then use his Hand of Fate ritual to try to determine the next, best course of action. The hand seemed confused, pointing to three different location as the next place to go in order to break the curse. These locations were the lighthouse, the clock tower, and the graveyard. The priest had previously informed the party that there seemed to be some powerful necrotic force near the center of the graveyard but that he has never been able to get close enough to it to investigate it further. Additionally he noted that several people over the years had attempted to get to the lighthouse, since the undead seemed to be particularly vulnerable to bright light, but none of the people who had gone have ever returned.

The party set out from the temple with the intention of going to the lighthouse. However, as soon as they stepped out, the landscape flashed and transformed before their eyes. They saw what appeared to be an undead raven — a major insult to the Raven Queen — perched atop the clock tower. Even more curious was the fact that the raven appeared to have three eyes, one of which was humanoid. The party changed course and headed toward the clock tower instead.

Upon reaching the tower, they opened up the doors and found the inside guarded by an assortment of undead, including a wight. Although the wight could sap the strength of those it attacked, the fight did not prove to be overly difficult and the room was soon cleared. Lonys then scouted up the winding stairs — the tower stood over 100 feet tall — and learned that the rest of the tower was empty but for a trap door leading to the roof. Peeking through the trap door, Lonys saw that like the the entryway, the roof was also infested with undead. In addition to the raven, there was also a host of zombies as well as a couple of ghosts.

The party formed a plan and rushed through the trap door. Lonys charged at the raven, his falchion cutting mighty blows into it. Elexara pulled the warlord out from the middle of the host of zombies and placed herself inside. Elana began shooting zombies as fast as she could pull arrows, and Goeban helped Elexara keep the majority of the host off of the rest of the party. The party was worried for a little bit when one of the ghosts was able to dominate Elana, but she was soon able to snap out of it. The raven had a variety of burst attacks and the ability to turn invisible, making it difficult for the party to pin it down. Soon though the party was able to destroy all of the undead, including the raven, without taking too much damage in the process.

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Heading Toward the Light

Following the defeat of the raven atop the clocktower, Adiah examined the third eye on the raven and noticed a faint aura of enchantment around it. Taking a closer look, Adiah also believed that the eye was that of a human. Adiah took the icy-blue eye and carefully placed it in a pouch for safe keeping.

The party descended the clock tower and made their way to the docks in an attempt to get to the lighthouse, hoping to light the beacon and thus weaken the undead. The party piled into a couple of row boats and with Adiah and Goeban piloting the way, headed toward the lighthouse’s island. The water was surprisingly choppy and Lonys could see scores of undead fish, some skeletal, some more zombie-like, scurrying through the water as the party passed. Other, larger, undead sea creatures also attempted to batter the boats in an apparent effort to capsize them, but Adiah and Goeban were able to make it to the island without too much difficulty.

Once at the island, the party looked up at the surprisingly tall lighthouse, standing some 300 feet high, and prepared to go inside. The air on the island was particularly cold, much colder than in the town, and the air tested the reserves of the party, except for Elexara whose natural resistance to the cold made her mostly immune to its effects. Some thought was given to trying to climb the outside of the lighthouse, but ultimately it was decided to try the front door.

Lonys carefully disarmed and unlocked the door then quietly pushed it open. Peeking in, Lonys saw that the inside of the lighthouse was much larger than the outside and that furthermore, the inside really looked nothing like a lighthouse, and rather, looked more like the inside of a lord’s keep. Grand hearths and luxurious furniture appointed a large room, and along one wall was an ornate desk. Lonys was able to carefully open the one locked drawer, disarming the crude trap before doing so, and recovered a diary that appeared to have once belonged to Lord Cadmus Zelkan. The diary had also been enchanted, seemingly to preserve it. Flipping through the diary, Adiah saw that much of it seemed to be little more than thoughts on the day to day affairs in Mistmarsh. However, toward the end of the diary, Zelkan mentioned the arrival of the gypsy and the joy of he and his wife when she became pregnant. The writings grew darker though and when the time of the birth arrived, Zelkan mentioned not being allowed to be present during the birth and of hearing the painful shrieks of his wife. He did eventually hear the cry of a baby, which was soon followed by a shriek of pure terror.

As the party investigated the main entry hall, they could hear the sound of a child’s laughter in the distance. The laughter would filter in through the walls and then disappear just as quickly. Looking around the main hall, there were two sets of staircases, one going up and one going down. Given that they were here to try to light the beacon, the party decided to go up first. As they climbed the gently winding stairs, they could again hear the sounds of a child laughing, followed by an admonishment from an adult female who appeared to be trying to get the child to behave. The admonishment was firm, but not angry. As the party reached the landing of the second level, they saw a one time luxurious room that had been converted into a battlefield. Several devils now occupied the room and had set up defensive bulwarks around the room. There was also a cloud of necrotic mist floating through the room.

The party moved quickly to get a bit closer and Elana was able to fire off a couple of her arrows at one of the devils before they had noticed the party’s presence. As the battle broke out in full force, the devils struck at the party with their chains and a shadow creature approached the back lines of the party, creating a cloud of obscuring fog. Although the devils had Lonys surrounded early, they still proved to be little match for the party and only the shadow was able to put up much of a fight — primarily due to its insubstantial nature. Elana’s arrows turned the devils into pin cushions while Adiah’s divine power scattered them and Lonys and Goeban finished them off. Elexara meanwhile, kept the shadow occupied, allowing the rest of the party to fight the devils.

Having finished off the devils, the party continued their ascent of the lighthouse. The stairs continued to wind up until they eventually reached a trap door much like the one in the clock tower. Lonys carefully opened it and peaked in, seeing a large, magical cauldron that was unattended. Lonys slipped into the top of the lighthouse and soon noticed a small panel fairly well concealed on the base of the cauldron. After disarming the trap on the panel, he slid it open and found a second eye, almost identical to the first contained within. Like the first eye, this one also had a faint aura of enchantment on it as was an icy blue in color. Elexara then used her arcane talents to light the cauldron and discover that the cauldron should remain lit until more arcane energy was spent to turn it off, or it was otherwise destroyed. Looking at the cauldron, it was also clear that the sides could be raised and then the base turned in order to focus the beacon on a particular spot.

As the cauldron was lit, the party was able to observe the reaction in town. As soon as the light began to shine, undead creatures began to rise up from the ground, mainly within the graveyard, and rush toward the island that housed the lighthouse. The party realized that they would have a significant fight on their hands just to get back to shore. They also realized that there was still a section of the lighthouse, the basement, that they had yet to explore. Not wanting to have enemies attack them from behind while they tried to cut their way through a horde of undead, the group decided to turn off the cauldron, with Adiah taking care of it.

Lonys then lead the party back downstairs and into the basement. When he approached a set of double doors he could once again hear the childish laughter that had been teasing the party throughout the lighthouse. Lonys decided to simply open the door, rather than try peeking in. With the door opened, Lonys was able to see a small child, no more than a couple years old, sitting in the center of what looked like a nursery. The child appeared to be playing and sitting next to a couple of slumped over forms. The child turned to look at Lonys, blood covering its arm, and asked “Did Nanny Caly send you?” As Lonys answered no, the child’s face turned a bright red and the room morphed into a cement room housing six arcane circles. The child disappeared and was replaced by a huge goristro and a second demon.

Lonys charged in to attack the goristro and scored a solid hit on the demon, but was then pummelled by it in response. Worse, the goristro when it stepped into one of the circles was able to close the doors to the room, leaving the rest of the party outside. Goeban empowered the attacks of the rest of the party, except Lonys, with the power of Ioun and then forced the doors back open. Elexara and Elana came into the room to engage the goristro as well, but Elana was forced to retreat back out when the demon charged at her following one of her deadly arrow strikes. It was then that the true danger of the circles revealed itself, for the second demon launched a ranged attack, stepped into a circle, and then once again closed the doors, leaving Lonys and Elexara trapped in the room with the two demons.

Fortunenately for the party, Goeban was again able to open up the doors and enter into the room and the rest of the party soon followed. At that point the fight was on in full force and both sides poured everything they had into the battle. Elexara kept the ranged attacking demon occupied, keeping it from effectively using its most powerful attacks while the rest of the party fought the goristro. Even with the five members of the party facing off against just the two demons, it was very touch and go. Three different members of the party would fall unconscious, and it was not until Goeban unleased a massive flurry of blows on the goristro and followed that up with all the healing energies that Ioun could channel into him that it finally started to look as though the party would make it. At last both demons fell to the might of the party and they could catch their breath.

It was at this time that they noticed one of the demons was in possession of a magical suit of chainmail. When Adiah examined it, he noticed that it appeared to be especially useful for devas. Slipping the chainmail on, Adiah was given a vision of a set of one hundred foot high adamantine doors, which he suspected were located either on Tytherion or Carceri. In addition to that vision, he also caught flashes of the life of another deva, Beriah Nadil, and it was then that Adiah realized he had found one of the famous Implements of Beriah Nadil. With that, the party reclimbed the stairs to the top of the lighthouse, preparing to make camp and rest up before lighting the beacon.

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The Undead Horde

The party took refuge in the top of the lighthouse and took turns keeping watch while everyone rested and recovered from their injuries. As the party rested, night began to fall and the undead once again rose from their graves and ran through town. The party was prepared though and knew that they needed to get to the cemetery; however, Goeban and Elana awoke to the realization that they were not feeling quite as powerful as they did prior to resting. They soon realized that they would not be as effective in combat as they normally would be as the curse affecting the party seemed to have grown worse for them. Adiah began by performing the Hand of Fate ritual to learn that there was nothing significant in the lighthouse that they had missed and that the safest way to get to the cemetery was through the air. Excluding flight, the Hand then told Adiah that the best place to direct the light from the lighthouse would be the cemetery in order to arrive there safely. Adiah next cast water walking on the entire party in case anything should happen as they tried to row to shore. While this was going on, Elana and Lonys fashioned makeshift oars out of some of the furniture on the main floor of the library. Finally, Adiah lit up the cauldron and pointed it at the heart of the cemetery.

As the light focused on the cemetery, a shrieking wail erupted from the center of the graveyard and was followed by a flock of hundreds of birds taking to the air and making their way toward the party. The group raced down the stairs of the lighthouse and rushed to the boats. Goeban and Adiah paddled hard as they guided the boats toward shore but the birds were soon on the party. It was obvious that the birds were making a bee line for Adiah’s boat and it was reasoned that this was because Adiah was in possession of the two eyes that the party had found. Adiah took the eyes out and tossed them to Elana, who caught them and skewered them with a flame burst arrow in one motion. She then fired the arrow off into the mists toward the edge of town. She was unable to see exactly where the arrow landed, but was relieved to see the flock of birds pursue it. She was not able to fire the arrow off though until both she and Adiah had taken a bit of a beating from the birds (or little peckers as she called them).

Goeban and Adiah got the boats to shore and the party hit the ground running as they saw the undead horde moving rapidly toward the lighthouse. The undead were coming from all over town and navigating the streets was anything but easy. Elana took to the rooftops while Lonys tried to spy an opening in the horde. Adiah directed the divine spirit of Erathis into the horde while Goeban tried to navigate the party through the streets. Elexara for the most part simply pushed the party on and bodily shoved a path through the horde. As the party dashed through the streets and then the forest that buffered the town from the cemetery though they could not avoid the undead as they seemed to be around every twist and turn in the party’s path. When the party at last reached the cemetery, they found a large gathering of undead waiting for them and blocking their path. The light from the lighthouse; however, significantly weakened the undead that confronted the party and thus did they fall with a single blow. Still though, their sheer numbers were enough to tap into the party’s resources as several of them found themselves battered by the end of the fight, but at least they could finally catch their breath.

As the party caught their breath, the wailing continued from the center of the graveyard, but the party was also greeted with the apparition of a once beautiful woman who was now missing her eyes and had thick, black ichor dripping from the empty sockets. The party pressed on further into the cemetery and soon encountered another organized band of undead. This one was smaller than the first, but each creature was notably stronger. In particular, one zombie was able to grab Lonys by the head at the start of the encounter and shove him deep into the ground, essentially burying him alive. Despite the early setback, the party proved to be far more capable than the undead that confronted them and soon the entire party was ganging up on the lone remaining zombie.

Hearing the wailing continue, the party continued on toward the center of the cemetery, arriving finally at the Zelkan family crypt, which seemed to be the source of the wailing. As the party arrived; however, the light from the lighthouse suddenly went dim, suggesting that the horde had at last reached its goal. Outside the crypt was another host of skeletons as well as two ghosts. By now, the party had become accustomed to the tactics of the undead horde and the fight was over almost before it began. The party was so successful in fact that they considered heading straight into the crypt, without resting.

Entering the crypt though, the party was soon thankful that they had taken the time for a short rest. Inside the crypt, the party found the Lady Alyssa Zelkan, or at least, what’s left of her. She has turned into a cursed monstrosity that is missing its eyes — though it did not seem to affect her ability to locate the party. Alyssa was not alone though and had a sizeable entourage to protect her, including a large shadow that opened up the fight by inflicting a powerful attack upon Lonys that also caused him to suffer continuing necrotic damage. Alyssa herself also exuded a cold and necrotic aura around herself and had a powerful area attack that could create another zone of necrotic energy. The remaining creatures proved to be much less dangerous, but their numbers were enough to force the party to use most of the tricks in their bag in order to get through the battle. Even so, when Alyssa was finally defeated, Adiah was unconscious and most of the rest of the party was battered as well.

With Alyssa’s defeat, the party opened up her casket and found her body which was remarkably well preserved but for her missing eyes. As they gazed upon the eyeless corpse, an evil cackle wafted through the air. The source could not be located, but it definitely sounded as though it came from an elderly woman.

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