Black Heart

Into the Depths . . .
. . . of the Underdark

Following the battle with Caly, the Raven Queen’s clerics teleported Damakos and Lonys Evensong to the palace in Latherna. Lonys, upon being teleported in and seeing a shadar-kai in the same room as him and the rest of his party members immediately drew his falchion, ready for a fight. The cleric though did not seem concerned and instead proceeded to update Lonys and Damakos on what had happened to the rest of the party. The cleric then told the party that they were free to explore the palace and to peruse the various vendors there and that once they had made a decision as to where they wished to be sent, the clerics would return.

The party debated their options, with the two main considerations being Vandresca where they could seek out another void crystal and Dorsten where they could look for the next shard of the Dyrnnentine. Vandresca, because of its remote location and the unreliability of teleportation magic to and from the isle received some consideration, with many arguing that this might be the best chance to get to the isle. Damakos; however, suggested that perhaps the party could at some point travel to Ranath and make use of the tiefling sailors to try to get the island. Ultimately, the lure of the Dyrnnentine, combined with the fact that nobody knew for certain where Dorsten was, convinced the party to agree to ask to be sent there.

Moments later, three clerics of the Raven Queen, all shadar-kai, arrived to begin the ritual to send the party to Dorsten. They were told though that the magic of the Queen’s brother shielded what remains of Dorsten from teleportation in or out but they would get the party as close to the city as possible. The party knew that the gods often referred to each other as brothers and sisters and thus, they reasoned that it was likely Moradin who had shielded the city. Before completing the ritual, one of the clerics approached Damakos and Lonys, spoke softly and touched them on their foreheads, removing the curse that had been placed upon them in [[Mistmarsh]. She then turned to the party and reminded those who had been saved by the Raven Queen that they would be expected to uphold their end of the bargain. They would be expected to seek out and destroy Caly and were warned that there may be other tasks down the road as well, though they were again assured that it was not expected that they hunt down the dragon immediately.

With a flash, the party found themselves in a completely dark, rocky tunnel. There was no natural light of any kind, though Lonys was not affected due to his dark vision. As Lonys began to look around, Goeban, Elexara, [[Elana, and Adiah all noticed that they felt chilled and that their skin was cold to the touch. They realized that this chill was a reminder from the Raven Queen, also known as the Goddess of Winter, that they did have a mission to carry out at some point. Aside from being a bit chilled though, the four of them felt no other adverse affects from the Queen’s reminder.

Lonys soon picked out a path that appeared to be headed toward civilization of some sort. As they walked, the party recognized that they were definitely within the Underdark, and were in a tunnel that made up the King’s Highway as evidenced by the God’s Blood visible along the path. After about an hour, the party came to an opening overlooking a cavern. Looking down, they could see a small city lit with torches, both magical and mundane. In the city was a wide mix of creatures, everything from goblins, orcs and kobolds to elves, humans and eladrin. The party cautiously made their way into the city and were soon told that they had come to Gareth’s Hollow. An elven woman informed them that they could talk to Gareth Ham Hands if they wanted more information, or they could head to the Laughing Dragon, the only inn the town had.

The party headed first to the Laughing Dragon where the clientele took a quick look at the newcomers and then returned to their drinks. A bard was performing in the tavern portion of the inn and the party asked him to tell the tale of Dorsten and what had happened since it disappeared. The bard warned them that it was a sad song they had requested but that he would honor their request — particularly since the group was now picking up his bar tab. As the bard sang his song, the party learned that during the height of the Race Wars a large battle was waged between the dwarves of Dorsten and the combined forces of the drow and giants. As the battle waged, Torog, the god of the Underdark and of prisons reached his hand up and grabbed the entirety of the city and the surrounding region, and pulled the city down into the lower reaches of the Underdark, known as the Deeps. As the city fell, it broke into several main sections. One of those sections is the cavern wherein Gareth’s Hollow now rests. A second section has been taken over to make up the drow city of Veldrinshaar. Another portion of the old city of Dorsten is now occupied by a large force of aberrant creatures and the final major section of the old city, known as the Citadel, was the region where the dwarves primarily holed up after the city fell.

The dwarves of Dorsten did not fare well following the fall of the city into the Underdark. The dwarves were still beset by the drow and giants, but more importantly, the dwarves were now spread out throughout the Underdark, for when the city fell, the different sections of the city were spread out by as much as a week’s travel. The section furthest from Gareth’s Hollow is the Citadel, and lies about two weeks away from the small settlement. Sadly, this separation of the sections has resulted in few dwarves remaining in the region as most were eventually killed off.

Death is Just the Beginning
. . . of a whole new adventure

After defeating the Lady Alyssa Zelkan in the mausoleum, the party caught their breath and examined the other caskets in the crypt. In one of the caskets, the party found the body of a woman that bore a striking resemblance to Lord Cadmus Zelkan only older, leading the party to believe that she was his mother. Around her neck was a pendant with a softly glowing black crystal. A quick examination by Adiah and Elexara told them that the crystal was actually the void crystal which they had come to Mistmarsh in search of. The party gathered the crystal up and headed back to the temple of Ioun to rest for the remainder of the night.

In the morning the party discussed their options and decided to head back to the keep and confront Lord Zelkan about the discrepancies in his diary versus the version of events he told the party. When the party entered into the keep they observed some of the same individuals they had previously fought — and killed — but these people did not seem to remember the incident. Nor, for that matter, did they in any way appear hostile. After a brief discussion, the party was taken to see Lord Zelkan. Upon meeting Zelkan, it became apparent that part of his curse is that he always remembers everything that happens, even when his cambion side comes out. Perhaps fortunately; however, the rest of his servants do not recall what happens when night falls.

Zelkan was confused when first told that his wife and son had never left the town. He swore that he could recall them leaving but when it was explained to him that they had encountered his wife in the family mausoleum, he began to come around. He was still confused as to why he couldn’t recall the death of his wife, or why the memory of her leaving was so vivid but Adiah and Goeban were able to explain to him how the curse could be affecting his memories as well or that it was even possible that the gypsy had taken the guise of his wife so as to further confuse him. When the nature of the curse was explained to Zelkan his rage began to boil over and he swore to the party that if they could put his family to rest that anything he could give them would be theirs. With that the party set out to locate the eyes that Elana had fired off into the mists, believing that if they returned the eyes to Alyssa’s corpse, she could finally be put to rest.

The search began with Adiah casting his trusty Hand of Fate ritual to point them in the general direction. Between following the directions of the Hand and picking out landmarks, the party was able to locate the arrow that Elana had fired. Unfortunately for them, the eyes were no longer attached to the arrow and several sets of foot prints lead away from the arrow in various directions. Elexara’s keen senses quickly picked out a faint aura of enchantment that followed along one of the sets of footprints. Following the footprints took the party through some heavily wooded areas and eventually lead to a clearing where several decaying humans awaited. Although their bodies were clearly decaying, the humans were not in fact, undead, merely rotting. Elana climbed into a tree on the edge of the clearing and began picking off the humans. Elexara charged in and confronted two of the humans only to discover that they both had auras around them that caused creatures to start rotting as well. Worse, one of the humans was able to make Elexara more vulnerable to necrotic energy. Most of the humans were melee combatants, but one was able to lob spells at the party. The party soon focused its attention on the spellcaster and it was killed almost instantly. Between the good positioning attained by the party and the focused fire, the fight was swiftly one, with only one of the enemies holding out for any length of time.

When it was over, the party interrogated the two enemies that they had let live to see why they were there and where the eyes were. They learned that the eyes had been taken by Caly, a person whom they insisted was an old woman. They did; however, warn the party that Caly was powerful and that she may well be more than she seemed, but that they had only ever seen her as an old woman. The party was then told that Caly was located near a swamp where she was performing a ritual to siphon power from the Raven Queen to Orcus.

Elana quickly set out to track down Caly, following the general directions given by Caly’s ally. Elana soon found what appeared to be a clearing near the edge of the swamp, but saw that the clearing was surrounded by a dense bank of fog that broke line of sight. As Elana was trying to quietly approach the clearing, Caly called out to her in an aging female voice, specifically calling Elana by name. Elana and Caly bantered briefly, with Caly taunting Elana and asking her to come into the clearing. Elana; however, was not moved by the taunts and instead waited for the rest of the party to catch up.

As the party approached the clearing they saw that it was ringed with a thick bank of fog, but also had six altars arrayed along the outside. On five of those altars were servants of the Raven Queen who appeared to be magically bound to the slabs. Dark energy could be seen flowing around the altars. When the party did not take her offer to stand down, Caly morphed into her true form, a three headed dragon and attacked. Caly opened the fight by breathing a cloud of acid over the party. Goeban then went to try to free one of the servants of the Raven Queen and Elana fired several arrows into Caly as she ran around behind the dragon. Unfortunately for Elana, it turned out that Caly could act much quicker than the party, with each head able to take control every couple of seconds. Caly focused her ire on Elana, biting her a couple of times and throwing her body into a cloud of necrotic energy, knocking Elana unconscious. Elana was killed an instant later when the altars erupted in a burst of necrotic energy. Elexara and Adiah sprung into action then and began to disrupt the ritual by cleansing the altars where the servants of the Raven Queen were bound. This greatly reduced the power of the necrotic bursts from the altars, but Caly still proved extremely dangerous.

Elana was surprised when she suddenly awoke in a relatively comfortable room with a shadar-kai looking over her. She asked the shadar-kai, who proved to be a cleric of the Raven Queen, where she was and why she was there, and the cleric replied that since Elana had been acting on behalf of the Raven Queen, the goddess had intervened and saved her from the dragon. Elana feared for her allies though and begged to be allowed to return to her companions. The cleric rushed out to consult with others and returned a few moments later to tell Elana that she could return, but it would only be for a brief period.

Elana returned to the battlefield, taunting Caly with a message from the Raven Queen. However, although Elana’s return helped, it would prove to be too little as she was only able to remain on the field of battle for a very brief time. Unfortunately for the remaining members of the party, Caly would prove to be too tough, with each of her heads emitting a different breath weapon, Goeban and Elexara were soon knocked unconscious. Adiah tried to fight on, throwing out a damaging zone around Caly, and was momentarily cheered by the sounds of a great roar and tearing noise. When Caly emerged from the clearing to chase after Adiah; however, Adiah saw that the dragon now had four heads, the newest of which ripped into Adiah, killing him. Adiah would soon awaken next to Elana and would be joined by Elexara and Goeban as they soon lost their unconscious fight.

As the party awakened, they were informed by the Raven Queen’s cleric that they were in Letherna, home of the Raven Queen and that the Raven Queen had been impressed by their fight against Caly and that she had decided to intervene. The party was told that they could be returned to their home plane, or any other destination, if they were willing to enter into service of the Raven Queen. There was some initial concern by Goeban and Adiah as to what that meant, but they were assured that the Raven Queen was not requiring them to abandon their goddesses, but rather that they would be directed to hunt down and destroy Caly once and for all. The party was again assured that it would not be necessary to do so immediately, but that they would be expected to hunt the dragon down.

With that, the party decided to take some time to discuss their options.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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