Scourge of Khorvaire

The story thus far...
The party goes deeper into the mountain.

Firehammer Hold, western Aundair, 18th of Vult, 1008 YK.

Trasker Selarn tells you he is an agent of the Wardens of the Wood, druids from the Eldeen Reaches. He encourages the party to eliminate the rampant and well-armed humanoids in the area. The Wardens are suspicious of dragon activity, which they believe relates to the fulfillment of draconic Prophecy. Wise druids of the Wardens say that an ancient dragon mask, one that humanoids could wear to control a green dragon, is somewhere in Aundair, and is the only way to stop the dragons from a resurgent rulership. He asks the party to keep an eye out for information regarding dragons.

Thirsten knows from local history that any powerful fey magic, such as that which might control a green dragon, would have been of interest to the Floshin family, an exceptionally long-lived elvish family. The current head of the family is Darfin Floshin, a known friend of Kelson Darktreader, the ranger from Wyr who first sent you all on this quest to investigate the gnolls near the Phylund Hunting Lodge.

Marek Silveraxe, a dwarf you met earlier, scoffs that the Druids are meddlesome and theatrical. The immediate threat in the area are only the duergar and their gnoll allies. Their threat to Aundair must be swiftly eliminated, and any ties with Karrnath or the Blood of Vol, a radical sect there that reveres death, must be surfaced and dealt with.

Jekk Ironfist, dwarven hero, wishes to recover the Delimbyr Bloke, a great artifact of dwarven lore. When the party rescues him, he pleads with them to go deeper into the mines below Firehammer Hold and free any of the dwarven brothers who remain from the deadly assault by the duergar.

Ma Kang, an elderly human woman who operates a band of thugs near the abandoned village of Uluvin. The party is convinced there is more to her than just an old woman, but her identity and motivation remains a mystery. Thirsten suspects that Ma is actually a dragon, and suggested this to Trasker Selarn.

The Duke and ruler of Wyr, Maldwyn, has demonstrated eccentric behavior of late. He originally sealed the gates of Wyr to all visitors, demanding that the Delimbyr Bloke be first returned to him. If not for your befriending of the halfling tavern owner Curran Corvalin, you would never have been able to visit the town of Wyr. Clearly Duke Maldwyn believes the bloke is his personal property and must be returned. Per Kelson Darktreader, the half-elf ranger you spoke with last session, the Duke continues to harass the townsfolk and particularly any visitors to Wyr.

Multiple times the party has defeated a necromancer of the Blood of Vol, who has been funding, equipping, and allying with the evil humanoids in the area, including the dastardly duergar, who now occupy the previously peaceful Firehammer Hold. When the party recovered his journal after their first encounter, they learned that he has recruited several warlords to destabilize the area, while he researches more powerful necromancy. He has set up a fortification at some secret location in Aundair.

The party has defeated several of these warlords, a goblin, a gnoll, and a duergar, all of whom exhibited demonic aspects, and turned to sulfurous ash when they were slain. One of these, a goblin shaman, foretold that there are five such creatures.

Bloodgate Keep is the ancient battle site where the gnolls and followers of Vol reportedly are gathering to launch their campaign against western Aundair.

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Jekk Ironfist has returned to the surface...
The party goes deeper into the mountain.

After a long rest, we continue deeper into the mountain, where we will attempt to stop the enemies plans, and to save any dwarves we can find from Jekk Ironfist’s party. He asks about his brother, if his remains can be carried out. His brother’s hammer, “Moonbain,” can be kept by Thork if found.

Once into the physical mines, we find a tunnel hewn more recently than the others. We dismiss it for now opting to go towards the tunnel with more traffic. Roland’s rat familiar has found one Duergar standing guard on what looks to be another mining tunnel.

No sounds of hammers or picks have been heard.

In the attempt to ambush the lone guard, the armored warriors gave out their position, bravely, and when they knew the gig was up, Thork used his performance skill to lure the villain into the closeness of the cavern they were in, in from the open space where he was standing guard.

But that all changed.

At the edge of their vision, the Elves of our party saw an evil beast. It had the body of a large spider, the upper body of a dark elf.

It was going to be a bad night for the arachnids.

The enemy advances, poison bites and javelins inbound. From the darkness emerge two spider riding Duergar. The fight continues. Two invisible Duergar attack Thork with advantage, blocking the tunnel into the open area. The enemies go down, we have triumphed.

Thork takes a single Vambrace from the Duergar that was standing guard, it has a hammer emblazoned upon it (one time use of Spiritual Weapon). Jo-Bu finds a golden lantern upon the ground across from our entry tunnel into the open cavern. (Lantern of Revealing.) 17gp

We spend a few minutes regathering our strength, and continue on.

Randle’s familiar examines two of the mine tunnels here, looks to be spider pits for nesting.

We continue into a room that has had an industrious woodworking endeavor. Sawdust fills the room, two 50" siege ladders part of the fruit of their labor. Axes and other wooden handled tool and weapons are strewn around. Sawhorses and other woodworking tools are a-strewn. There is a moving water in one side of the room, a door, and two other tunnels exit. From one of those tunnels, a Duergar boss, and a minion. They come out swinging and deal damage using their invisibility as an ambush.

A quick stun and a prone Boss maneuver, the party takes the tide. The enemies go down, we have triumphed.

Hark! The cry of villagers! A quick inspection of Randle’s familiar shows it’s not a trap. We unlock the chains keeping them pinned. They are from all over, and are the forced minors to the dark dwarves. Two of them are dwarves from the hold itself.

Potion of Healing. Potion of Climbing. Oil of Resistance.

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Empowering the Delimbyr Bloke, finding the entryway of the Duergar
Three survive the Hold.

The captures dwarves tell us that the Duergar came from a break near the mine cart tunnel, before it slopes upward, to the east in the halls.

Short Rest later, we decide to search the area that the captured dwarves believe the Duergar came from.

We find a room with a crystalline dwarf, mattock in hand. He is an avatar of Onatar, dwarven god of merchants and wealth (hates defilers and thieves.) Other dwarves are present in crystalline fashion, sitting in patronage to the avatar on the opposite walls.

Attached by a hallway, is a room of marble, a mausoleum, with a desecrated circle of evil magic on the floor of it. Randle’s found book of magic, aids him with advantage to diffuse the evil mark on the floor. We contemplate lighting our lantern of revealing as Randle diffuses the 9th level of hell bomb. Since I am able to write this, he was successful.

We find what appears to be the remains of a Purple Worm tunnel, which we believe is where the Duergar appeared from. The tunnel is gigantic, and can not be filled or blocked by us.

We stand confused.

We continue down a set of stairs into the mountain, the way is finely crafted.

We see a life size statue of a masked dwarf warrior, axe in hand, and at it’s base reads in dwarven “Friendship is more than a word, weigh it carefully,” which is exactly what the Delimbyr Bloke states on its tablet surface. The dwarven word for friend is “binatta.” I touch the door with the Bloke, and speak the word for friend. The door swings open easily.

The new room has 24 dwarves in relief against the walls. There are names of dwarves, we believe, along the floor, and have found that each name is a pressure plate that stays depressed when walked upon (of the ones we think are friends of the dwarven people here.)

BINATTA” was the the key to get past the doors in room of floor plates. The first letter of the names of the dwarves formed an anagram of the word binatta, allowing us to have a path to open the door at the end of the room.

We find a room with a statue that looks as though the Delimbyr Bloke would seem to fit, and I place it where its face would be. Its eyes light afire, and I learn its purpose. The eyes stay lit.
Dorn Gulfin “Aid us, Fire eyes” the eyes brighten, 2d4+2 astral warrior constructs appear, the spirits of dwarf warriors, (of those warriors in the combination floor plate lock room before this) and do my bidding.

We return to the upper levels, find the former prisoners taking a long rest, healing and preparing for their journeys home.

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Gnoll bodies and Raining Manticores
WE adventure in the sun again

We rest a while, stabilize the survivors in the hold, and adjust the dwarf size platemail to Thork. While this is going on we get a visit from another associate of Trasker Selarn. This ranger seems happy with our success, but concerned over the previously unknown level of activity from the undesirables. He is glad to hear that Jekk is returning with some dwarves to re-secure this hold. He also says that if we return to Wier we are to look up the Lord there and report to him, and likely receive a generous reward.

He also says he is a distant cousin of the Lord of Florshin, who is suffering from an unknown malady that befalls him whenever he gets within a mile of his home. We inform him of all of the goings on around here and prepare to carry on with our adventure. We also find that Marek Silveraxe is an odd bloke. No one seems to know who he is and there seems to be no Siveraxe clan. Hmmm.

We head to Florshin to see what is going on there. Secomber is along the way because we decide not to cross the mountain. All is going fine until we stumble across a roadblock of several Gnolls and we spy our old foe the manticore. They do not look friendly. They apparently have been waiting for us. They fire arrows, we fire back. The manticore attacks, we defend and fire arrows at it. We bleed some, they bleed more. The enemy falls, and the manticore is no longer a threat. We take what is useful off the three gnolls, mostly gold, and remove the wings, head and spikes from the manticore for future use.

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Blazing a trail to Darfin Floshin
Helping the wizard...

Traveling to Floshin, we have to leave the known roads to save time. About a day of travel out, we find the forest turns dark, with some scattered swamp waters growing more frequent as we travel. Thirsten, our Ranger, knows something is not right with the wood, and though our Wizard Randle confirms it not to be magical in nature, something is different, or dark, about this wood.

Moments after realizing this, we find ourselves in an attempted ambush! The rolls begin…

Large Lizards, Goblins astride, come at us from the forest. Arrows fly…most of the enemy go down, but Thirsten gets snared in a net and a goblin attempts to drag him away, but he breaks free. Randle was able to fell a fleeing foe from very afar, thousands of feet he recalls, and was able to retrieve a gold coin medallion upon a thick gold rope chain (non-magical btw.)

We track the lizards who successfully ran from us to a watery grotto, where a water fountain ends from above into a pool, surrounded by trees. We observe for only a moment, taking in the acrid air which stings our eyes, when bugbears emerge from nature, as if the weeds, grass and vines were hiding them, and the plants just parted to show them to us.

Jo-Bu cuts left and loads his crossbow during the villain’s monologue (caught him talking,) while Thork and Roland argued, attempting to create a distance Thork accepted a push from Roland and was now a few more feet from the main of the party. The fight begins…

Jo-Bu may recognize that their leader may be Ma Kang in disguise, but we don’t know at this point. This bugbear leader has a certain mannerism that reminds Jo-Bu of her, though this bugbear is male. No telling a this point, as now they attack us…

Vine creatures try to grasp Randle from behind, but Thork was able to pick him up on the run away from the tree and vine wall that closed and trapped us in the grotto with the enemy. Randle takes his turn immediately afterwards, felling one bugbear with a Scorching Ray, and hitting another one.

The party is quickly split, and fights on two fronts that are made around the edge of the water of the pool.

We begin to beat them back, but something greater happens… a huge green dragon emerges from the pool… and orders the minions to stay their hands.

The dragon speaks… calls the minion leader “Firebelly” when calling them to stop their attacks against us. It was a test, to confirm who we were, a trial of combat of some sorts. The dragon wants us to answer questions, even at the temptation of a magic item in trade, so we listen… and stay…

What does the blood of the Vol want here? Thork answers, says that they are building an army, of which we had already defeated in some part, a small force of Duergar that took and held a dwarven hold in which we found them preparing for war by firing the forges themselves. We stopped them, and their bodies lay at the bottom of the deeps. The dragon seemed satisfied.

What was the dragon artifact the druids, the Wardens of the Wood, were looking for, and what does it do? We tell him of the Green Dragon Mask, and this disturbs him enough to tell us, to command us, that we will find it and bring it back to him, at a cost we wouldn’t want to pay if we don’t return it to him. He threatens to wreak havoc against the area, particularly the humans who live in the area.

Who is the paladin of the Silver Flame? We answer the paladin’s name, Isteval, who we have only ever seen upon a majestic white horse, whom fought alongside Kelson Darktreader, the ranger who aided us at Firehammer Hold.

We ask the dragon’s name, and Firebelly, the bugbear answers, “we call him Grazzeltongue.”

We continue on our way after he goes under the water, with his minions, the bugbears, dive into the water as well to never be seen again by us at this time.

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The Gardens of the Floshin Manor
Hedgemazes and statues

We arrive to the gardens of the Floshin grounds.

There is a hedgemaze, the statues are of Elorfindar Floshin, the male patriarch, the other is of a beautiful human woman, unidentified, but we know Elorfindar had many trysts with human women, having many half-elven children. (With a history check of 24, she is still unknown to us, but we do find out that the Floshin’s were the custodians of portals, known as the House of Long Silences, across the lands.)

Jo-Bu feels we are not alone…

Roland finds a small plaster-like figurine, it’s a pixie. Looks wonderous, but before we can examine it further, Knolls come from everywhere! They have a wizard, his hands bound, who we believe we met earlier.

The knolls have glaives and longbows, though the latter are not at the ready.

Initiative is rolled!

The Knolls hit Thork hard, but he holds for two turns. The party defeats their foes and frees the wizard. The man is Mennon Aziz, follows the Queen Vol, he claims himself as an ally, but we are suspect as he does follow Vol. He claims he had come from Karnath, and had traveled from Karnath to here this day. Thuggar Grin betrayed him to these Knolls and had been here for over a month.

Lady Shilendra and Thuggar had held him captive, and beaten him to keep him creating portals, in which the Vol was using to transport enemy allied armies from Karnath to travel to Floshin. He believes that if he was taken further to Bloodgate, he would have surely been killed after he had finished his work there. Thuggar Grin is the necromancer that charged the Duergar to take and use Firehammer Hold. It is believed Grin is at Bloodgate Keep, to tie all the portals together to allow larger armies and all creatures vile to be able to move to Aundair instantly, instead of the trickle effect they can accomplish now.

This man, Mennon Aziz, tells us that he is the only one who can sabotage the portals and stop Shilendra and Thuggar Grin from this plan.

Wartsnak, orc chieftan who has gathered three clans together to fight for Karnath, and who defends Bloodgate Keep from assaults, will have to be defeated. Mennon can teleport us into the lower levels, where we can attack Wartsnack directly, and sabotage the portals, or else the Karnath armies will run rampant over the Aundairian countryside.

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Journey to Bloodgate Keep
To trust a Blood of Vol Wizard scorned...

On our way to Bloodgate Keep, we encounter a troop of men at arms, with three men better equipped than the others, mail and shields, the latter showing a Silver Flame…

These soldiers from Wyr, attached to a Paladin of the Silver Flame Sir Beartheo, are looking to make a bounty on Brimstone, a bugbear said to be dangerous, and a lot of others things (such as consorting with underbeings of some kind.)

The Paladin is sent on his way on Jo-Bu’s word, that being of having seen this bounty at a lake, one in which we encountered a dragon in recent past, yet that didn’t get mentioned by Jo-Bu. We leave the soldiers amicably, and we continue on until we make camp.

We make camp and it’s quiet the whole night. We don’t let Mennon Aziz, the scorned wizard, take a watch, and before we break for sleep, he shares that the ritual can be assisted by, made more quickly than the full minute he would take to teleport us below the Bloodgate Keep to ambush Wartsnack, a wizard with evocation magic, Randle speaks up, and studies the book Mennon hands him (a ritual book detailing the mass teleportation for a group.)

We plan a march that will allow us to move through the enemy lines during the dark.

The terrain is difficult, even with Thirsten’s ability to allow us travel easier, quicker through the area. The trek is hindered somewhat, but we don’t think the environment is working against us.

We approach a keep, a wall only knee high, but very large, armored creatures stand atop a 30 foot wall/bullwark, in which is illuminated by lights, and it is obvious if we go past the wall, we would be easily seen. Mennon tells us we must be closer, essentially inside the wall near the main building to begin the ritual of teleportation.

Gargoyles are spotted by the front two, Jo-Bu and Thirsten, and it is believed they are sentient, and placed where they are to observe as guards.

We take a few rounds trying to figure out our approach, and it’s not looking good on the clandestine route into range of where we need to be for the spell to be cast…

Tair’n the Rhino, the mount of Rolen, was sent as a diversion, but none of the enemy flinched. The Orogs, the super-sized orcs in plate mail, notice and the reply of one is to throw a torch out into the foreground, illuminating the party. We begin our advance by attacking by arrow the lead gargoyle.

The fight begins… the gargoyles make flyby attacks, the orogs looking to hurl… barrels of pitch!

Randle and Mennon make it the area in which the teleport ritual can be initiated, and begin the dirty work of casting…

An orog hurls a barrel towards Thirsten in the yard, it explodes in Alchemist’s Fire!!! Thirsten dodges, but the flames burn his skin regardless and just avoids remaining on fire.

The fight is hard, with the gargoyle flyby attacks typically doing 18+ on their hits.

Milo makes a grand entrance on Rolen’s rhinoceros! Destroying one of the gargoyles with his bow attacks!

Orogs, with ready barrels of Alchemist’s Fire above their heads, were targets to good to be true. Jo-Bu, aiming true, shoots a magical crossbow bolt at one of the aloft barrels, and it explodes! The target orog takes a quite a bit of damage, and stays afire. With this, the tide turns and the last gargoyle is shattered to dust. Now, the orogs are the only defenders of the area and though hurt, they still pose a great threat with their barrels of flaming pitch.

The rhino charges the wall and at the last moment, bucks Milo up the length of the wall. Milo taking advantage of being hurled, drew his weapons and made the killing blow to the orog, who’s corpse fell from the wall with the barrel exploding on top of him. The other orog puts himself out, but kills himself batting his own chest (perhaps.)

We make it to the circle, the ritual still being casts by our group of wizards. It succeeds, and the world changes around us through magic…

The battle with Wartsnack appears to be imminent…
Battle_with_Wartsnack.jpg

With the enemy looking so fierce, Thork rings his hammer, pulls forth the dwarven stone mask known as the Delimbyr Bloke, and says aloud “Aid us, Fire Eyes.”

Six Dwarven Warrior spirits appear, shields and hammers ready, and begin to attack the enemy directly around Thork. Thork directs them to another enemy, but the fight easily continues as all the enemy still stands.

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The battle with Wartsnack continues...

Its just been two full rounds, and no one has been knocked to the earth yet.

Jo-Bu goes fist to fist with Wartsnack, and dodges away afterwards. Surveying the room, Wartsnack yells out how big his c*ck is (or something to this effect) and this motivates his minions to fight harder this round (he inspires like a bard? Who knew?)

A few rounds in a fire elemental emerges from a brazer at Wartsnacks call.

The battle continues…

And with few hit points, we win thru the day. The Eye of Gruumsh cleric, the last enemy standing, decides suicide is the only thing worthy of his disgrace, and dives into a carpet lying in the middle of the floor, which erupts in violence as it begins to slam and inveterate the cleric in its fuzzy embrace.

We search the room, details later from Rolen’s notes.

We knew this was a one-way trip, and that we would have to fight from the depths back to the surface. Three tribes are above us, and with only minutes to spare we attempt to heal while gathering the items found. 10 minutes goes by…

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Our 10 minute rest is over...

Mennon Aziz has a wave of nausea, vomits, and then says something very wrong just happened. (Perhaps with the magic of the portal.)

Mennon opens a secret door, and prompts us through. We emerge in large room, a magical portal, being maintained by wizards of the Blood of the Vol, There are commoners, obviously being bled out, their blood pooling in the center of the room, and all this, being lead by a lead wizard, Theggar Grynn, who is straining mightily with the great effort of it.

Rolen charges on his rhino, but is transported across the room once the rhino crosses the blood on the floor. He regroups from his new position in the room, and still moves to attack Theggar Grynn. The blow is struck, but Theggar maintains his concentration.

Thork and Thirsten move and attack the cultist bloodletting the captives, whose blood is feeding the portal somehow.

In the next instant, a Glabrezu appears, fighting the portal with the lower half of his body, and in a booming voice condemns the Theggar Grynn “For years we have fought, no more.” and with two of his four demonic arms, he points two wands at Theggar and with fiery magic bursting forth from the wands, the wizard explodes into red mist.

The Glabrezu then turns to Randle, shows him a sword sticking from his chest, " you wizard, pull this sword from my body, and I will be free to rule this world. Do this, or die."

Randle refuses, and shows his refusal by placing his hand gently on the sword and instead of pulling it free, shoves it further into the foul creature, forever pinning it back into the plain of hell in which it came. The Glabrezu is pulled back into the portal, his scream damaging all who hear it.

Rolen and Randle are within the Nexus, disappearing, and riddles avail themselves to be solved to those who passed into it…

At the same time, three creatures of fire appear from the portal, attacking all who are near (to include a cultist.) They are not powerful and are dispatched, but more appear after very little time.

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Within the Nexus
riddles to be solved...

While some of the party is within Nexus solving riddles of time and space, those who did not pass the portal’s surface stay and fight the creatures coming from the portal.

The creatures are wearing down the party as time passes while the riddles remain unsolved…

The creatures grow in strength and size… from an Ogre, to a huge Bulette who we left alive to rampage from the depths in Bloodgate Keep.

The riddle is solved, by ordering the glyphs labeled Water Fire Air Earth, and with that, Randle becomes the master of the Nexus.

Randle has three choices:
Feywild
Nine Hells
Karnath

We hear a call from the portal, and it seems the Feywild is the lessor of evils.

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