It was the first day of Cricket, a month when the days are short and the crickets sing loudest. It had been a strenuous year for Tienarth’s Raiders.
The Previous Year
The beginning of the year had seemed routine as they continued a campaign of prying open elven cave tombs. One they left intact at the request of the elven holy woman, Rellora. Another they escaped with little time to spare as the entrance collapsed.
As the last of the winter snows melted, their attention turned to the dwarf named Dacha and the mine he forbade them to enter. They believed the rumors of a white dragon that guarded the pass to Tosasth and sought another route. Disregarding the grumpy warnings of the dwarf and many runes carved in boards closing it off, they opened the mine and descended. They found a gold mine infested with demons and a passage into the underdark.
Around this time, Rellora returned, and with her she brought then elven warriors. She offered to help them find Tosasth and the party accepted. Through the underground tunnels, they found a gargantuan tower somehow build underground in a bottomless pit. They also discovered treachery or bad luck as the entrance to the mine was collapsed. They pushed onwards and happened on the dwarven city of Kegh Buldohr, an outpost along a north-south trade route. And beyond there, they came to the village of Dinfaldir where a friend dwarf led them to a door that opened into the valley of Tosasth.
At long last, they could see the ancient elven city and its many spires. They found the city infested with undead of all types and shrewdly skirted the city proper to arrive behind the imposing cathedral. Soon, they were inside and found a glowing green portal through which they entered into a wholly alien realm. They learned about undead coming from this realm of Haderax through the same portal they used to enter. Rellora sacrificed herself to close the portal, and the rest of them escaped back to the real world where the cathedral promptly collapsed.
The main portal was closed, but wicked city of the dead remained. Tienarth considered the job unfinished until every last undead was obliterated. So, back they went to confront foes in the streets of Tosasth with some success and some terrible losses. In a battle with a black knight, Longstream the halfling lost his leg. They retreated back underground and were aided by friendly dwarves to find an exit to the surface and eventually back to their home.
Before attempting Tosasth again, they followed up on a lead about the bones of St. Jaludi, recovering them from a well in Slateholm. They felt strong and no longer feared the dragon guarding the pass, so they made straight over the mountains. Along with them came a gang of bandits they met on the road. The dragon was no mere tale and it surprised them at the summit, but a Aderian and Tienarth slew it with powerful magic. They brought the carcass back to be made into a armor.
It was a time of celebration. Few had seen a genuine dragon, much less witness one’s defeat. But luck pressed often eventually turns bad. On their next excursion into Tosasth, they recovered more treasure in the abode of Lady Galmire, but out in the streets, Aderian was struck down by a spectre. They made haste to return to seek healing.
After a Long Rest
So it was on this first day of Cricket, that Aderian was restored to strength after weeks spent in prayer with Lah. More than simple restoration, he spent some time studying with the priests and seemed to be more sturdy and steadfast. He told of a peasant revolt in recent times, one that enjoyed the support of Lah even though it was doomed to fail. Travelers were more wary these days of farmers turned bandits, though near St. Orlan the threat of witch-burning seemed to be suppressing that activity.
He arrived at the Jonamor Estate to find the armor and shield made from the white dragon hide complete. Ferris drew apart his dark cloak with a flourish to display the snow-white leather affixed to his body at strategic points with silver buckles. He then presented the shield to Aderian. The base of shield disc was multiple layers of hardened leather reinforced with a cross of bones. The face of the shield bore a crowd of outward-facing teeth, the four largest of which came together as a central point. Ferris related the expectation given by the armorsmith of particular protection against cold conferred by the armor and shield.
Ghevont greeting Aderian and explained how he spent 4,000 gp for the commission of Rellora in Slateholm. The artist expected to complete the piece before the warm days of Summer.
During the time of rest, Ferris worked with the Herbalist, learning the secrets of the invulnerability potion. This effort produced 10 vials. He also produced 3 healing potions.
In the past year, largely avoiding adventure, Azrak emptied his savings into a well of debauchery. With all wealth gone, he was ready to adventure again. So it was that the five rode for Tosasth over the snowy path mountain pass. They encountered no resistance, neither in the form of monster nor bandit.
They consulted a rough map of Tosasth prepared by Tienarth from his careful study of the texts recovered from Lady Galmire’s library. Now they knew where significant landmarks were hidden among the many nondescript structures, and they made directly for the one at the southwest edge of the city. It offered an easy path that avoided roving undead.
Later, when they made their escape, they learned it was the Morwenys Estate. Heavy stones the color of dried blood stacked up to form a wide first story supporting a smaller second story. Light glinted from windows in an observatory towering some 40 feet over the ground. At ground level, stairs led through columns to two heavy entry doors. Most windows on both the first and second stories bore drawn drapes, sometimes emitting flickering red light.
Ferris climbed up to a second story window. With his glass cutter, he easily gained entrance, secured a rope and singled for the party to ascend. Inside they found an alchemist’s lab, now ruined. Many broken vessels were strewn, but a a large glass jug on a shelf remained, containing a swirling cloud. The all agreed to leave the jug alone, remembering a adventure from days past where a jug contained an imp.
They opened the door from the room into a hallway, revealing several other doors. Ferris crept out into the hallway and immediately triggered the collapse of the floor. It tilted left, tumbling him into a room where two beautiful women reclined on couches. He quickly scrambled up the debris to regain the second floor.
Ghevont hurled holy water, assuming an evil nature in the figures. Azrak leapt down the slide, losing his footing as he clunked to the floor. He met the gaze of one of the women and was charmed. Likewise, the other looked up the hole to lock eyes with Tienarth. He also was charmed. Meanwhile, Aderian climbed down carefully. Azrak made to defend his new friend, but failed to grapple the former pirate. Ghevont hurled a bone of St. Jaludi, which produced the figure of the saint and touched the undead foe. She turned to flee. The other transformed into a giant bat and followed through doors into a room containing a fountain.
The party pursued, saw the two escape through doors on the opposite side of the room and decided to let them escape for now. The charms were broken.
In this room, a circular table surrounded a gurgling fountain throwing off drops of water and mist, making the room heavy with humidity. The statue of a skeletal mage stood against the north wall, holding out a goblet. Above the statue hung a banner that suggested Kill them with Fire! Aderian carefully examined a statue and found that removing the goblet from its hand opened a secret door.
Beyond this door was a hallway with windows into a garden surrounded by the mansion but open to the sky. Inside was a cactus the size of a man which suddenly open eyes and a mouth. When when they entered this room through a door around the corner, they could not understand the cactus man tongue, though they encouraged him to follow them. They also noted a room filled with writhing tentacles through another window in the garden.
At each window bearing open drape, they pulled the drapes apart to let in what feeble sunlight shone in perpetually-gloomy Tosasth.
They led the cactus man back to the fountain room and then proceeded carefully into a kitchen, which was observed to be unused for a long age. Through a door, they found a small entrance room that offered a door to the outside. They also found another door behind which they heard stomping and thrashing. Aderian threw open the door to face a large human skeleton tangled in twisted viscera that quivered inside the central bones. They fought this creature with mighty valor and it was soon slain.
They then opened more doors to review the grand entry hall. From behind, they gazed at an immense statue of Molock that rose up towards the second story roof. Twin staircases led up to the upper area. Circling around to the front of the statue, Molock grinned demonically under his upturned bull horns. Seated cross-legged, he cradled an oversized cauldron that sent flames up to lick at his chin.
By now, they were keenly aware of the intense heat of every room in this structure, perhaps given off from the many torches, too hot to touch, or perhaps from the fire in the cauldron. Aderian approached the flames and felt the sting of burns. Ghevont cast a spell of fire resistance upon him and he was able to peer into the cauldron to spy a skull-size gem blasting fire in every direction.
Ghevont, wearing a ring of fire resistance, scooped up the gem and made for the entrance. As the passed out the front door, they noted demonic faces carved in the dark oak doors. Upon opening the doors, they heard the following disembodied message.
Talanashta Morwenys welcomes you to your doom! Haderax devours your soul!
They rushed through the door, away from the city and directly for the bridge over the nearby river. He tossed the gem into the river, producing an explosion of steam. The vampire stone had turned to inert rock. It did not reignite when removed, and so they left it in the river for later retrieval.
And with a day’s adventure complete, they found a place to camp for the night. Ghevont made a rough sketch of the rooms they’d found.
- Treasure: the vampire stone
- Vampire Spawn 560 xp
- Morgh 2,500 xp
- Aderian 692 xp (fight, lead, in the front)
- Azrak 612 xp
- Ferris 679 xp (used dex)
- Ghevont 679 xp (smite undead)
- Tienarth 618 xp (avoid combat)