Dragon Star, Goblin Moon

Peli's Post - #118
Peli's Son

Meet Lord Paellias v’Aan Helisor. . . . a chip off the old block!

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Peli's Post - #117
The Year is Now 1023 A.G.

Excerpt from: The Journal of Lord Peli Edrik V’Aan Helisor

The Year is 1023 A.G. – The Place Is Shinaelestra

Well, you know when I left you at our last battle in Hammerfast, I traveled back up to the Lake Nen area. I had heard that my ex-girlfriend, Lisiantha might have been in the town of Nenlast. When I got there, I found she indeed had been there for a few years but had left two years before I even arrived in the Nentir Vale. I also heard she had gone back to the city of Mithrendain in the Feywild and taken up with someone disagreeable to me, to say the least. Anyway, so I left there and went back to visit my Uncle Agapanthus again in Forgehome to see how they fared after the “cleansing”. All was well there so I only stayed a couple of weeks.

Next I went back home to Shinalaestra since it had been over a year since I saw my Lord Father and Lady Mother. I was welcomed with open arms and lots of fanfare from the city. The Governor even gave me the keys to the city. I gave some speeches at the Academy of Fine Arts and Warfare and I took some classes in spellcasting. I also spent about a month helping clear out a troubling Fomorian incursion.

With promises to stay in touch, I continued on my quest to find Lisiantha and my son. So I teleported over to Mithrendain. Oh, how I wish I had made this trip here my first priority! I found out Lisiantha had been dead for two months, with Berrian and the 11-year old Paellias still in mourning. I arranged to visit them in their assigned housing. Prepared to do a verbal battle with Berrian (at the least), he greeted me warmly at the door, telling me to come in. (I lifted my right eyebrow.) In the next room, I saw a young boy studying and my heart raced. Berrian shook my hand and apologized for his actions at the Ruins of Fastormel, realizing he was wrong and stating he had been greatly affected by the area’s madness. He explained his current work with the Watchers of the Night and I was duly impressed. The whole time we were talking, I was watching Paellias out of the corner of my eye, who was also stealing curious glances at me. So when Berrian finally stepped back and summoned Paellias to come into the room and introduced me, Paellias held out his hand and said quite calmly “So you are my father, huh?” Evidently neither Lisiantha nor Paellias had shared that fact with Berrian, as he placed his hand over his heart, exclaiming “What! I had no idea!” Paellias was also using his mother’s last name, so I could understand that. It was an awkward moment, but we worked it out – adjourning to a local tavern for a meal and refreshments. Paellias quickly warmed up when he started telling me about his preliminary training as a Junior Paladin. I also watched his eyes light up when I told him of my recent adventures with The Blue Scarabs.

I stayed there with them for several months, after which I took Paellias back to Shinalaestra to meet his grandparents. Unfortunately, Lisiantha’s family had moved away from the city a few years prior. I enrolled him in school to finish his primary studies and promised to get him admitted to my alma mater for his career training. In honor of his mother’s wishes, I also convinced him to study Arcana and Religion.

Fast forward five years to 1023 A.G. – I have been appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs for the city of Shinalaestra and Paellias is doing well with his studies and training. Turning 16, he requested (and was granted) the right to change his last name to mine. That was very rewarding. Paellias has accompanied me on some adventures in Arantus, as the city appears there each night in The Howling Woods. Occasionally we visit Berrian or he visits us here, he and I having developed a satisfying friendship. Twice we traveled to Forgehome to visit Agapanthus and his companions. In a few more years, Paellias says he wants to offer his services to Dog Boy – er, Prince Galerant. I shake my head in amazement at the fact that I have a 16-year old son, who seems so much more mature than I was at that age. He will leave one day on his own adventures, but I don’t look forward to that day. So for now I will live in the moment, enjoying family life with my son and my new husband, a Wizard who works with some kind of advanced scientific computations. I think he is working on a way to keep Shinalaestra in the Feywild permanently. It’s all quite beyond my comprehension.

I glance up to my beautiful Greatbow Namaarie, mounted over the stone fireplace and sigh. It’s been too long since we worked together my friend. I light a warming fire and as I settle back into my chair with a goblet of Elvin wine, I look back on my time with The Blue Scarabs and smile, thinking it’s about time we had a reunion.

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Peli's Post - #116
Fare Thee Well, Blue Scarabs

Erathday, Aprantus 1, 1018 A.G. – Nenlast

It’s been just a little over three weeks since our final battle at Hammerfast and I just realized what day it is. I arrived here in the Nentir Vale exactly one year ago today! It seems like a lifetime ago. I’m feeling very alone as I write this letter to you, my dear friends. My heart has been aching ever since we said our last goodbye. Most of our wonderful powers are gone, but our experience, training and skills can’t be taken away. Nor our legacy, memories and friendship – they will live on. I know we shall remain friends forever and we will periodically unite to reminisce and maybe even help the good guys once in a while.

I started this journey on a strictly personal level. A young, know-it-all man-child, straight out of home and school for the first time, eager to see the mortal world and hopefully find my long-lost son. That quest still continues, but the journey has brought me so much more. It took me a while to find the right companions to adventure with though. In my naiveté, I thought the first couple of people I met would be good companions. Little did I know that Gorelick, a Tiefling Rogue was guided by Chaotic Evil. Or that Aydenor Narsilance – a half-elf Warden would behead an innocent little girl. After ditching those two, I was pleased to come across a fairly decent, yet slightly irritating Human Wizard, Uriah Orlock and his young cousin, Dame Mari Roemer, a valiant fighter who would later become a Knight. I will never forget her bravery and true selflessness. They stuck around for a while but then poof, they were gone. Eventually I was fortunate enough to meet the best companions one could ask for – those who would become The Blue Scarabs. Along the way, we met and said goodbye to other memorable characters who helped us for a time. There was Nevitash, the Kalashtar Warlock, Sir Grommel Stronghorn, the Half-Orc Knight, the mysterious Ariana, a Hamadryad Seeker and Sir Duggin Ironbottom, a Dwarf Knight. Then there were a couple who stayed with us longer which made us miss them all the more when they left. Of course I am fondly remembering the beautiful Human Swordmage/Wizard Laurence. Who can ever forget his face when he inadvertently summoned the old Red Tinker, Rugglesniff? Or his numerous quirky sayings? Wherever you are my friend, I hope you find what you are looking for. Then there was Lady Itzehl Oakensoul, the Hamadryad Cosmic Sorcerer who was as tough and brave as she was compassionate and protective. Itzehl became as a sister to me, sharing our Fey ancestry and rising up to become a Dark Seeker as her chosen Paragon Path. Stay strong Queen of Pomora Wood. Protect and nurture your forest and all its inhabitants.

Ernesto “Etupio” Markelhay – what could I possibly say about this remarkable young man? He and I met on my first day here in this land. He would go on to become our most trusted, loyal and brave squire. Later, it was a pleasure and honor to bestow Knighthood status upon him. His service as Captain of the Guard and Defender of the City of Argent was exemplary. He gave his life a couple of times for all that is good in this world. I am so proud of you and can only hope my own son proves to be your equal someday. You are not forgotten my friend. Hopefully someone soon will return you to the life you so deserve.

Then there was Uncle Crogan, Sir Grommel’s Human uncle who had an agenda of his own. A former member of The Blue Blades, he refused to let his past failures defeat him. Vowing to set things right, he paid the ultimate price, destroying the evil Lord Vhennyk’s Eldritch Engine. His soul lived on for a time, trapped in a strange circlet of gems but was set free when Gabbe “cleansed” Hammerfast. Rest In Peace, Uncle Crogan. We never even knew your last name!

What an unlikely friend and ally we had with a Giant Aberrant Blue Beholder Entity! Gabbe, who knew your kind could even exist in this world. Your thoughtful insight guided us through all our accomplishments. Without you we would still be dead. Thank you can never be enough dear one.

Finally I want to speak of my long-time companions who together became The Blue Scarabs, the best damn adventuring company in Arantus.

• Kuiperia, the red-headed Vryloka Rogue. We’ll never forget your stealthy way of surprising our enemies nor your extraordinary skills at trap detection. You saved us many times over and when we were trapped, you often was the one who got us out. You also surprised us with your scholarly debates with the Council of Sages in Hammerfast and plucking your eye out in order to utilize the Eye of Vecna. Oh girl, I’ll miss your antics!

• Morthwyl, the head-strong Dwarf Fighter who laughs at Dragons, delights in killing Primordials, Dragons and Demons and loves bashing down doors. Who can ever forget the time you and Analastra destroyed the Fey Eldritch Engine. We heard and felt that terrible explosion, saw how badly hurt Analastra was but when the smoke cleared, there you stood, your beard smoldering and badly burned, laughing your fool head off. Or the time you jumped down the pit riding the three-headed Dragon, beating its heads in with your hammer and bare hands. Then laughing even more when a 4th head appeared! That’s our Morthy!!

• Groa, the Great! A Wilden Invoker who, along with Morthwyl, came to help us in the midst of a great quest. You started out quiet and not quite sure of your abilities but later you became one of the fiercest spellcasters in the world. Oh Groa, the times we had! As much as you are a strong warrior, you are also a little klutzy. You were always falling down – most times not even during battle. Like the time all you had to do was walk across a rope bridge. Well, you trip on yourself, flip over the side of the bridge and hurtle 60 feet down into a river! Good thing I and my handy haversack were there to save you from being swept away in the swift current! What’s next in store for Groa? You are not sure, but perhaps you might want to explore other areas of the world. Or perhaps you might go with Gabby to The Plane of Dreams for a little while. Who knows what trouble you can get into!

• And finally, dear old Ungus. I shall miss you most of all old man. You and I have been together on these journeys the longest. Always calling me little brother even though I am twice as tall as you and twice as smart and twice as attractive and twice as – well you know I jest with you oh mighty one. Ungus, the Dwarf Cleric who used to be a humble farmer. You started out as a simple healer and fighter and became a Divine Oracle, helping guide us through our journeys. A simple twitch of your fingers or a few choice words and enemy bodies piled up from your mighty spells. You healed people as fast as you killed them – and smiled the whole time. Of course you had a penchant for drinking too much and dying too many times, but I guess that comes with the burden of being so awesome, huh? Dear old Ungus, what am I going to do without you to pick on? Who else is going to let me throw them in my haversack? I wish you well, returning to your homeland and the simple but good life of farming the land.

As for me, I am now in the city of Nenlast on the eastern shore of Lake Nen. I had recently heard rumors about my ex-girlfriend and my son. She had been living here and supporting herself and our son by working as an Arcanist. So I came here, following this rumor. Much to my dismay I found out she left here due to numerous deadly attacks by Dragons. Sadly that was 2 years before I arrived in the Nentir Vale. New rumors have it that she and the boy traveled back to the Feywild – to the beautiful fortress city of Mithrendain, also known as The Autumn City. There she serves the wizards of the Citadel Arcanum who protect the city from the Feydark. Lisiantha has a new boyfriend who works with the Watchers of the Night, a secret police force who are charged with protecting the city and its invisibility preventing wards. Unbeknownst to her, the new boyfriend is slowly recruiting her son to one day join the Watchers of the Night. She wants him to train with the Wizards, but he wants to train to be a Paladin. She calls him “Pelito” but his true name is Paellias. But the most distressing thing Peli hears rumors of is the identity of her new boyfriend. Some folks say his first name is Berrian. NNNNOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

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Peli's Post - #115
Dragons' Blood and a Balor's Demise

Erathday, Marantus 13, 1018 A.G. – approaching Hammerfast by air

Ungus is riding the lovely Dragon Bitterstrike but for now the rest of us are still in the howdah, atop Tantron, enjoying fine Elven wine, Stonevein Stout, delicious meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables – all served by scantily clad men and women of several races, soft music surrounding us. Within a few minutes though, Gabbe sounds a proximity alarm and we depart the howdah. Groa mounts a large albatross sent by Melora, Kuiperia mounts a big raven sent by the Raven Queen and our old buddy Rampart the Stag arrives, beckoning Morthwyl to mount him. I quickly jump down on Tantron’s powerful neck, whispering last minute instructions to him. Just as we finishing mounting, the sky flashes with a bright, beautiful pale lavender light and we all feel our gods have bestowed the highest level of powers upon us. Not only that, but they have granted us the ability to summon either one new magic item or upgrade something we already possess. Thank you gods!

As we start flying around in circles, acquainting ourselves with our mounts and preparing for battle, Ungus shudders in fear – something is very wrong he says. Suddenly Groa and I feel hot, sweaty and feverish while Ungus and Morthwyl are feeling cold with creaky bones. Kuiperia feels fine – maybe it’s that freaky red eye in her head. Anyway, Ungus says he feels a deep, dark foreboding as he shakes all over. Just then I hear a loud commotion coming from inside the howdah as Ressilmae Starlight opens the door. He yells out “something is wrong! Hurry up and get back in here!” Me being the closest, I sigh, saying “what now” but scramble back up Tantron’s neck and enter the howdah. I see Tress is having some kind of seizure, squirming and rolling around on the floor, doing unnatural back flips, etc. Ressilmae doesn’t know what to do and asks me to restrain her. Just as I start to do that, the others arrive and help me hold her down and tie her up for her own safety. The other “kid”, Ace is over in one corner banging his head against the wall, screaming “it’s all her fault! I need to remember! I was just about to remember my father’s real name, then she made me forget! It’s all her fault!” Groa wraps her branches around the young Cambion boy’s shoulders and shushes him, calming him down. Bastion, as the good Squire he is, goes over to first calm Tress, then Ace, giving them both some refreshing watermelon juice. As Groa thanks Bastion and returns to me, I see one of her smaller twigs burst into flame. She’s lets out a small shriek and quickly puts it out. I also feel more feverish, the sweat dripping of the end of my nose. Kuiperia senses there is a powerful magic aura spilling in from the outside, coming from the southeast in the direction we are headed, more specifically coming from Hammerfast. Not good! Ungus shudders again and says something horrific will be happening within minutes. With the “children” under control now, Ressilmae urges us to go back to our mounts as we are getting close to the town. As the Dwarves remount, they report their fingernails are starting to turn to stone.

Back on our airborne mounts, we can now view Hammerfast on the horizon, horrified to see the city in smoke and flames. Kuiperia estimates it has been burning for several hours. Then we notice three shapes emerging from the flames, rising up into the sky. As they turn in our direction, I identify them as Wyverns. I also tell the others that I spotted something else in Hammerfast. As some of the smoke blew away, I caught a glimpse of two gargantuan Dragons – one Red and one Gold. Ungus and Bitterstrike fly forward on high alert, the three Wyverns approaching quickly now. Kuiperia flies over the center one and quickly kills it. I bloody and immobilize another while Morthwyl bloodies the third. While we are engaging in battle, Groa, Kuiperia and I notice the ground below us is literally one massive battlefield – or was – strewn with dead Dragons, Beholders and lizard-like creatures called Yuan-Ti, stretching all the way back to Hammerfast. Not much is moving down there – just the death throes of those not fortunate enough to die quickly. After Morthwyl kills his Wyvern with a second attack, there is only one left which Groa and Ungus quickly dispatch. Ungus then yells out to move quickly – fly down lower and circle around Hammerfast to get a better sense of what is happening. One of the first things we see is a small group of people in the park, standing around a tall, hefty flagpole which is jammed into the community well. Then we recognize it is our beloved Sir Captain Etupio Markelhay! And a group of the Torrians. Suspended upside down on the pole are two enormous, ancient Dragons – their throats slit and the last of their blood draining down the pole into the well. We also notice Hammerfast is covered with up to 100 bodies of dead creatures, strewn everywhere. Ungus says he can’t recall any battle of this magnitude in over a millennia. Looking at the Dragons, we identify them as Gharwar the Red and Cantarell the Gold. Seeing our shadows on the ground, Etupio turns around, looks up and greets us with “My lords and ladies, thank you for coming but you are too late. With the Blue Cloaks assistance, we have killed them all!” He reports that the Metallics attacked the Chromatics and then they finished them off. I find Etupio’s manner of speech a little troubling and I scowl. Kuiperia and Ungus also detect a false sense of bravado from Etupio – as if he is acting a part. I call out to Etupio, asking him to tell me what his parents called him when he was little. He responds by saying his real name is Ernesto but he doesn’t tell me his childhood nickname. (They called him “their little purple Unicorn”, after his favorite stuffed animal.) I now know that either this is an imposter or he is under the influence of some heavy mind control. Groa telepathically tells us there is a diabolical ritual going on here – the Ritual of Racial Annihilation. As we circle around we see people hanging in the hedges, their throats slit wide open, other burned and mounted on stakes. There is one person left alive and we know him. It’s Kendred, a Gnome High Priest at the Temple of Ioun – a member of the Council of Sages. A Torrian is just about to slit his throat as Groa teleports him away to her side. Etupio, angry that Groa did that, yells to us that it’s OK – everything is under control, they just need to finish off the last of the traitors. Looking at their tortured faces, we identify them as the Council of Sages. Morthwyl asks me to ask Gabbe where Etupio is but before I can do that, the imposter disappears. But Kuiperia uses her Gem of Seeing to locate him. She says he just slid down the pole into the well. Morthwyl, enraged, jumps off Rampart and charges the pole, cracking it. The Torrians, looking all shook up and confused, tell us they have been obeying their Captain Etupio but his orders have been strange. They report that Etupio claimed the Council were all traitors and made a deal with the Dragons. Morthwyl charges the pole again, knocking it down, the dead Dragons crashing into the hedges. Then he says he is going to jump down into the well after Etupio. But Kendred, in a weak whisper, tells Groa to tell him not to go down there – “he will fall right into deadly Dragon blood and die! Tell him I know a safer route.” So Groa quickly persuades him to stay put and asks Kendred about this safe route. He tells her he knows of an underground tunnel that can lead us there. Kuiperia tells us he is desperately sincere. He needs a minute to catch his breath and take a drink of water. While we wait, still circling on our mounts, the Dwarves report their fingers are now turning to stone and Groa and I are fighting our fevers almost to the point of passing out. We can also smell the foulest of odors coming out of the well, with a sense of dark, chaotic evil like nothing we have ever encountered before – and we have been to some pretty foul places! Kendred now says to trust him and directs us to fly across the town to a temple. We all land and dismount, then follow him into the temple, down some stairs and thru a tunnel.

Coming into a large chamber, we see blood dripping from the “well” in the ceiling, down into a massive pool of blood. Standing in front of us are two Snake Beasts which spot us immediately. On one side of the chamber is a huge Balor (Fire Demon) wielding a flame whip and on the other side is our old freaky, cigar-smoking nemesis – Tick Tock who is chanting, along with the Balor who we instinctively feel is Tarnhem. Kuiperia moves first, quickly strolling down the center between the Snake Beasts and attacks the Balor and then goes invisible. The Balor, stopping his chanting, focuses his glowing red eyes on the spot where she disappeared and calls out: “Daughter, why are you doing this? Of all my three children, I am most proud of you. Join me and together we can rule the world!” He then says he is the reason the Dwarves are turning to stone and the Fey creatures will burn up from the inside out. Kuiperia tells us he is speaking truthfully. Well I am burning up, so I know he is right. But what’s this daughter shit?? Groa tells us the ritual has been completed and the only way to now stop it from its fulfillment is to kill these creatures and then ask for Gabbe’s intervention. So we proceed to do that!

We all work together, battling these things as Etupio the Doppelganger appears and joins in attacking us. During the battle we are all bloodied at some point and various conditions placed upon us. But Ungus keeps healing us – even as he dies twice and resurrects himself. Groa also dies once but pops back up, stronger than ever. At one point Tarnhem, sensing his imminent doom, again calls out to Kuiperia to help him, join him and rule the world. Kuiperia tells him “no thank you!” but realizes that yes, in fact, Tarnhem is her sire. After killing the Snake Beasts, we focus on Tick Tock and Tarnhem. Morthwyl charges Tick Tock killing him after which we take his cigars. Now we gang up on Tarnhem, throwing him into the pool of blood, knocking him prone and kicking his ass! Morthwyl gets in the massive killing blow which splatters his remains all over the chamber and us, causing us more pain and suffering. It kills Groa but she resurrects herself again. As we are wiping the Balor’s rotting flesh from our faces, we hear a hollow, echoing voice growl out: “You can never kill a Demon, you just send them back to the Abyss!” Now Groa and I start burning up, our skin and bark glowing red as we howl in pain. The Dwarves are turning to stone, not able to move or speak, they look pleadingly at Groa who quickly calls for Gabbe’s assistance. Gabbe’s voice in our minds asks if we trust her. What kind of question is that after all we have been thru??!! Of course we trust you! She tells us we must channel all our powers thru her. As we watch in amazement a surge of power emanates from each of us, joining into one brilliant blue beam which rises up thru the ceiling and continues on to Gabbe. She absorbs all our powers, combines it with hers and sends a massive 500 feet burst in all directions, snuffing out the ritual, neutralizing the necrotic pool of blood and killing all enemies left alive in the vicinity including the Doppelganger. But the price we paid was being stripped of every single one of our powers and all our magic. We feel like newly arrived adventurers with no skills or talent. But look at what we have accomplished! As we make our way back above ground, however, we find the real Etupio and the Blue Cloaks all dead. I rush over to Etupio’s body, cradling his head, careful of his wounds. Our brave and dedicated Etupio. You were the wind beneath our wings. We will do everything we can in our now limited power to bring you back. For now, the Torrians place him in an ice house for safekeeping. Looking at Tress, we see she has come out of her seizure and has been restored to the complete and whole living goddess Avandra. She smiles upon us and restores basic powers to us. Ace looks at his sibling Kuiperia with a knowing smirk as Gabbe invites us to travel with her to the Plane of Dreams. With hugs all around, knowing we are going on our separate ways, we vow to reunite from time to time . . .

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Peli's Post - #114
Duped!!!

Erathday, Marantus 13, 1018 A.G. – Early Morning at the Ruins of Fastormel

Once again, during the night our gods have bestowed ever more powers upon us. Yet we were warned to use them sparingly here in Arantus. Oh to know such power and be held accountable! Damn!

The night passed uneventfully and quietly, thank the gods. If that Berrian creature had opened his mouth I would have gagged him so quickly. His decrepit old fool of a father started yacking this morning though. He speaks up in pitiful desperation “I know this may be too much to ask, but if you slay my Master, I would be free from his years of servitude.” He’s right, it is too much to ask! He then starts to give us details about some of the 666 levels of the Abyss, saying Demogorgon and Dagon share levels 88, 89 and 90 – together known as the Abysm with Demogorgon ruling both 88 and 90 and Dagon ruling 89. Well, isn’t that special! He then tells us we have to jump into the chasm where the briny acid water is coming from. Yeah, that stuff! Ungus, Groa and I lost some of our healing abilities just spending the night here! Of course Morthwyl the tank didn’t. I call out, “Kuiperia, how you feeling? Kuiperia? Kuiperia?” She’s nowhere to be found! Now where did that girl get too! Anyway, Zandrian is still babbling away, spittle dripping from the corner of his mouth – urging us to be quick and depart since he is not sure how long the rift will stay open. Morthwyl asks him if we can use the same ritual to close the rift and he tells us it is possible but the ritual must be conducted on both ends simultaneously. That would mean us going thru, Groa performing the ritual on the Abyss side and leaving Zandrian and Berrian on this side, with Zandrian performing the ritual on this side. Of course I am hesitant about leaving Berrian alone here with his creepy father – he just may set him free under Tick-Tock’s direction. But then when Groa asks if closing the rift would mean the Demons are barred from entering Arantus, he tells us that his Master would probably just find another way since a multitude of rifts have opened recently. Groa thinks he is sincere – Berrian is still thankfully silent, detached and sullen – just staring at the floor, occasionally adjusting his binds. In a moment of half-jest, I pull the circlet out of my haversack and ask Uncle Crogan if he would like to take possession of Berrian’s body. Ha! He says he just wants to be set free in order to complete his journey to the Land of the Dead. Morthwyl says he could smash the gem but is told that might hurt Uncle Crogan. There is no way to set Uncle Crogan free right now. Zandrian, changing the subject, is confused why Tick-Tock has not yet appeared. We still want Zandrian to help us close the rift by performing the ritual on this side but he tells us he most likely will not be able to do that as long as Tick-Tock is alive and wandering the Abyss. I comment that last we knew he was wandering Arantus. So Groa sighs and says then we must go thru, kill Tick-Tock and THEN close the rift. Berrian speaks now. (I knew it was too good to last!) He says we have fallen for Tick-Tock’s ruse and starts calling his father names for helping him. I yell for him to shut his trap as Groa’s extraordinary insight tells us to trust his father. I then say “Gag him!” But Morthwyl does one better by stomping over to him and knocking him unconscious with his fist. Oh yeah! Groa asks Zandrian what to expect when we get there. He tells us our journey down will be like riding a cascading waterfall. We might get hurt a little but nothing we can’t handle. We will arrive on a sandy beach at the edge of a deep blood sea. There will be an island 300 yards out – if we fly there, we will find his Master, Tick-Tock being anointed as an Ultimate Beholder Tyrant – whose goal is to spread darkness and madness over all the worlds and planes. He tells us one of Tick-Tock’s strengths is he cannot be petrified and that his central eye can daze and slow us. We all drink some beer for breakfast, do our hands-on “Go Blue Scarabs!” thingy and prepare jump into the rift. Morthwyl wants to protect our healer from damage so asks Ungus for his Bag of Holding. Ungus hands it to Morthwyl who holds it open as Ungus climbs in. Then Morthwyl hefts it over his shoulder and we all jump into the rift.

As we float ever downward we pass over seven waterfalls and watch scores of levels pass us. At last we are dumped, scattered into a briny, acid river with a fast current. Morthwyl, Groa and I take some damage from the acid, as does the Bag of Holding. Looking around we see we are in a cave whose ceiling is 25 feet high with a large fortress on one side, 15 feet up. On the other side is a smaller fortress with floor to ceiling walls. Downstream in the river is a closed portcullis spanning the river beyond which the river empties into the outdoors with spiky stalagmites. The river embankment is 3 feet above the water. Not surprisingly, there is a “welcoming” committee looking at us. One creature is standing guard in the large fort, identified as a Fire Demon. Another one is nearby. Suddenly a ghastly creature appears, floating in front of the portcullis, at first glance looking vaguely like a Beholder. But closer looks reveal instead of tentacles, it is wielding living chains with hooks on the end. As the acid is really starting to burn us, I teleport out of it onto dry land near the small fortress. As I land, I detect a fiery light behind one of the window slits and see a Fire Demon lurking beyond. I quickly shoot it, immobilizing and bloodying it. Morthwyl, still holding Ungus in the Bag of Holding, jumps out of the water, right over the short wall to the large fortress, dropping the bag a short distance away from the Fire Demon. As he lands right next to it, he smites it with his Anvil of Doom and notices it gives off a damaging fiery aura. Nevertheless, he causes it much damage, stunning it in the process. Ungus climbs out of the bag and summons his Cloud Chariot and climbs in. The chain creature, called a Sibriex then flies toward the Dwarves, stopping at a small bend in the river where it sends a blast against them and one of the Fire Demons. Now two Acid Demons pop out of the water near Groa who has not had a chance to get out yet. The Fire Demon in the small fort shakes off his immobilization and attacks me while the two in the river attack Groa with bolts of acid – then one moves upstream and one moves downstream. Groa is bloodied from all the acid damage, casts a spell on Sibriex but misses, then swims to shore. I shoot my Fire Demon again, missing and back up slightly. Morthwyl somersaults over the low fort wall onto the sandy “water’s” edge and charge attacks the Sibriex but also misses. We all seem to be having a lot of misses right now. Could it be this place? Ungus casts his summoning spell, teleporting Groa out of the river and into the chariot next to him, then he casts a spell on the nearby Fire Demon while healing Groa and me. As the Sibriex starts flying, Morthwyl hits it with an opportunity attack but once again misses. Continuing on its way, it flails its long chains onto him, Groa and Ungus causing Ungus and Groa to fall prone. The Fire Demon shoots Morthwyl, bloodying him but Morthy reacts by healing himself. I also take fire (get it?) from the Fire Demon, followed up by one of the Acid Demons bloodying me. Groa stands up, casts one of her mighty spells on the Fire Demon and Sibriex simultaneously, bloodying the Fire Demon, dazing the Sibriex and boosting the Dwarves’ attacks. Being very badly hurt, I engage my Wildrunners to run far away from these things and then depart this plane for a quick Audience with The Queen. (That would be Queen Tisandra of the Archfey.) Morthwyl attacks the Sibriex, damaging it and pushes it across the river then charges after it and attacks it again, then pushes it again and attacks it again, knocking it prone. He likes a mad man! Ungus casts Sacred Flame but misses and then casts Healing Word on Groa and himself. The Sibriex attacks Morthwyl while it is prone, immobilizing him while he laughs at the thing, antagonizing it. Then it attacks him again and knocks him prone. Meanwhile back on the chariot side of the river, the Fire Demon attacks Groa and misses then flies over the wall and takes cover behind the base of the wall. The Fire Demon in the small fort moves over to another slit and fires at Morthwyl who takes heavy acid damage and gets bloodied but continues laughing and laughing. If I were there to see that, I would have questioned his sanity at the moment. Groa casts a thunder spell on her Fire Demon and one of the Acid Demons, sliding the Fire Demon into the acid river, killing him. She also slides the Acid Demon up out of the river. I return from my little side trip, mostly healed but then take immediate damage from the acidic environment, getting bloodied again. Damn! But changing my Hunter’s Quarry, I attack the Sibriex, immobilizing it. Morthwyl stands up and power attacks it twice, smashing it, greenish pulp slime splashing all over him. But he just laughs and whoops it up! Ungus then flies the chariot across the river and heals him and me. The Fire Demon in the small fort and the other two Acid Demons join forces to shoot Morthwyl while Groa casts a spell on them with Divine Bolts but misses. I then turn my attention on the Fire Demon across the river and bloody it. Morthwyl heals himself, runs to the shore yelling out for us to watch his awesomeness! As he reaches the river edge he launches himself across the river, landing right behind the dry-docked Acid Demon. He had planned to attack it as he was landing but he missed. We applaud him anyway. Now Ungus flies the chariot back across the river, healing Morthwyl and me and buffing up his attacks, then he attacks the Demon next to Morthwyl. The Demon in the small fort moves back to one of the slits facing the river and shoots Morthwyl. Also, the Demon next to Morthwyl attacks him then teleports himself back into the acidic river. A third Demon also attacks Morthwyl as Groa castigates the bloodied Demon in the river, killing it! Then I shoot another Acid Demon twice. Morthwyl moves backward, gets a running start and jumps the river a THIRD time, hurtling past the chariot while Ungus fist pumps the air. Ungus then casts his famous Prophecy of Doom on the Acid Demon in the river which retaliates by attacking him. Groa then attacks the Acid Demon with Divine Bolts, bloodying and dazing it and sliding it out of the acid once again. Then I shoot the one that is still in the river, killing it. The only one left now is the Fire Demon in the small fort. So Morthwyl moves around to the back door and knocks on it saying “hellooooo!” Too funny. Ungus heals me and himself and the Fire Demon in the fort shoots Ungus. Groa jumps out of the chariot, falls down, stands up and throws a lightning bolt right thru the slit, dazing it. I then move right up to a rear window slit and noticing it is still focused on the direction of Ungus and Groa, I let my arrow fly killing it!

We take a very short rest and then we say we should search the area but before we can even start, we hear a big splash and see something coming down the same waterfall where arrived. On guard! But we are pleased and astonished to see a big black elephant tethered to a blue Beholder rise up and come floating toward us. It’s Tantron and Gabbe! The door to the hut bangs open and out pops Ressilmae Starlight. He’s yelling for us to come close, saying we have been duped. Hurry, Tick-Tock is in Arantus, conspiring to destroy it. Hammerfast is under attack by the evil Red Dragon, Gharwar and a hoard of Chromatic Dragons. He’s still yelling to us to run and come onboard, there is no time, we must return quickly. Really perplexed, I ask Gabbe who calmly says “I urge expediency Blue Scarabs.” Well, allrighty then. We all get into the hut and exchange small talk with the “kids”, Tress, Bastion and Ace. Morthwyl addresses Gabbe saying he thought we were not supposed to use our powers in Arantus. She tells him this will be the last time we can expend our greatest powers in Arantus, in order to save the Nentir Vale. As Gabbe floats us up and back thru the rift, picking Kuiperia up along the way, Ressilmae further explains that Tick-Tock duped Zandrian into believing there were pacts being made with the Demon Lords of the Abyss. In reality no such thing was happening. It was all a charade played out as a diversion to get us out of Arantus. (It pains me to admit it but Berrian was right! Just don’t let him know that!) We leave the Ruins of Fastormel at top speed. In the distance we see the native Chromatic Dragons battling the invading Dragons. A particularly familiar White Dragon spies Ungus looking out of the hut’s door and flies straight toward us. Pulling up short, next to a nervous Tantron, the old female Bitterstrike asks Ungus to mount her. She advises us that Gharwar is devastating Hammerfast and Tick-Tock and several smaller Beholders are there as well. My head is spinning as I contemplate what happened to us. . . .

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Peli's Post - #113
Deals with The Demon!

Pelorday, Marantus 12, 1018 A.G. – At the Ruins of Fastormel, late afternoon

As we approached the hillside, we take note that the gushing flow of acidic water has diminished to a dribble. We know however, that another gush comes every 6 seconds on average – some stronger than others. Just as we made note of that, we see a Dragonborn Cleric come staggering out of the cave entrance, clutching his chest which displays a holy symbol on his robes. As he falls and rolls down the hill, we hear him mumble “Pelor save us all, it cannot be so!” As we rush to assist him, Ungus quickly tells us the symbol is of Pelor, the god of sun and agriculture, whose day it is today. Ungus heals him and starts asking him questions. I recognize that this is Katuun Opokor, a fellow I encountered when I first started out adventuring in these parts. As I recall, he worked as an assistant priest in service to The House of the Sun, a temple of Pelor in Fallcrest. He is telling Ungus that he has been out here investigating “things” and his worst suspicions and beyond have been confirmed. He says someone is attempting to create a permanent gate to the 90th level of the Abyss. As Morthwyl asks if he has any idea of who might be doing this, a loud tidal wave sound hits our ears. Looking up, we see another gush of reddish brown briny water come cascading down the hillside toward us. Katuun cries out “Oh, the folly of not clearing away from this area!” as we scatter, trying to get clear of the oncoming “water”. Tumbling down with the filthy liquid stench is a group of 7 creatures – they look something like wolves but with scales and fish heads with sharp pointy teeth. Six of them are of medium size while one of them looms larger than the rest. PLUS, standing in the cave entrance is a creature looking more like a gigantic shellfish. (We know they are all Demons of one type or another.) The briny water hits Katuun, Boldra and Morthwyl – the rest of us managing to step away while Ungus summons his cloud chariot and floats above it. From my distant location, I immediately enter battle mode, quickly making fish stew of two of the fish-heads with my arrows. As the larger fish head lunges forward toward Katuun, Kuiperia runs and attacks it while Groa moves into range to cast a burst, killing two of the medium fish heads and wounding the larger. Ungus flies around in his chariot, casting a rebuke on the big fish guy while the one remaining medium fish guy tries to attack Kuiperia. Then the demonic Lobster Man lumbers out of the cave mouth, charging downslope to attack Kuiperia. Seeing it do that, Morthwyl charges and, despite his attack being lessened by the aura of stench about it, does pretty good damage to it. Katuun runs for shelter. As I yell he is a disgrace to his race, he admonishes me telling me he is not as great and powerful as we are and not equipped to fight these creatures. Well, I think he could still help a little with his breath weapon! The battle continues for a couple of minutes, concluding with all enemies dead and rotting under the warm spring sun.

After taking a short rest, Kuiperia and Groa drag the bodies out of the brine area in order to search them. Kuiperia opens the Lobster Man’s pouch and finds a crystalline cylinder statue with an empty space inside. Recognizing it as summoning magic needing a ritual caster to make sense of it, she hands it off to Groa. Groa is perplexed by this one and hands it off to Ungus. As a Divine Oracle, it triggers a suppressed memory of a prophecy he once had. In this prophecy he saw a Balor inside this very cylinder. He understands the inscription of the vessel is a ritual to summon and then imprison a Balor after battling with it. The ritual requires the caster to know the true name of the Demon. Ungus then gasps out it was the story of how Acererak summoned, battled and imprisoned his father Tarnhem. But once again, he reminds us that prophecy never came true – at least not yet! As Katuun comes back to join us, I smarmily ask him, “Are you OK honey?” He growls, ignoring me and telling us he saw this in the cave before he was attacked. He speaks of there being more foul creatures inside, engaged in foul rituals, attempting to open a permanent rift between Abysm and Arantus. (Yeah, you said that already!) He then says he managed a glimpse of 3 people in there, heading up the ritual. Looking sideways at me now, he tells us there are two Eladrin and one Human in there. One of the Eladrin is a young noble and the other is an old, warped and wretched one, bearing some resemblance to the younger. The third person is a Human who they called Vadin. Katuun says that although the older Eladrin is helping, he doesn’t seem to have his heart in it – it’s almost as if he is being forced by the younger Eladrin. The center of their attention is on a large Golem-like form who they are raising and ushering in more energy from the Abyss in honor of one of two Demon Lords. Groa knows that level is shared by Demogorgon and another of the most feared of all Demon Lords, Dagon! In this case, it looked to Katuun as if they are trying to open a rift in order for Dagon to spend time here in this world, feeding on the creatures of our lakes and seas and devouring our lives for upwards of a century. He also tells us he believes the young Eladrin has some kind of motivation for enabling this to happen. I tell him he must be mistaken – no Eladrin would be doing this – he must have seen two Drow. But as I fume, he insists they were Eladrin. For the moment I have no clue as to their identity – neither does Katuun so we will just have to find out. Katuun also mentions the Human Cleric is a vile nasty man who only wants to destroy this world. Morthwyl asks Katuun about obstacles we might encounter in the cave system. He tells us the biggest obstacle is this wretched, irregular flow of acid water that keeps gushing out. Beyond that, there are only the three opponents – and maybe the demonic golem if they have animated it. Groa hands the crystal cylinder back to Kuiperia who gingerly wraps and places it in her pouch for safekeeping. Ready to proceed with our mission, we all climb into the cloud chariot. Katuun says he will stay on guard out here so Groa asks him to be on the lookout for our friends. We chuckle, telling him you can’t miss them – a large flying black elephant being towed by a giant blue Beholder! He’s is awe, saying he has heard of The Blue Warden and will be honored to meet her.

Bidding goodbye to Katuun, Ungus commands the chariot to rise up to the cave entrance. As we start to make our way in, Kuiperia looks ahead to inspect and locate the briny acid water’s source. She can tell my some of the wet markings and strewn boulders that the force of the water coming thru this narrow channel could knock us off the chariot and push us all away and back out. She wants to anchor the chariot down but since it is made of clouds, she cannot. So she jumps off and finds superior cover for herself. I climb out of the chariot onto the back of the horse. Then Ungus, spotting the brine welling up for another surge, quickly moves the chariot and horse away from the water as best he can, backing it up toward a safer looking area, near a locked door. We are relieved when the welling subsides and only a trickle of water flows thru the chasm. Morthwyl, in the back of the chariot is closest to the locked door. Without hesitating, Morthwyl bashes it open with his hammer. As he looks into the next chamber, he sees the three opponents spread around an altar upon which stands a strange, fanged Demon Golem. With the element of surprise on our side, we engage in battle even though we are not yet inside the room. Groa casts one of her amazing spells on all four of them, sliding them together into a group. Kuiperia runs up to join us, standing under the chariot. Being furthest away, I just barely make out the Human Cleric and set my sight on him, shooting him. Ungus tells us it is Vadin Cartwright who we encountered at Gardmore Abbey. Furthermore, he tells us the two Eladrin are Berrian Velfarren and Zandrian Velfarren! I reel backwards, foaming at the mouth, smoke coming out of my beautiful pointy ears. I knew Berrian was no good but I had no clue he would stoop so low. I picture his grisly death in my mind, my arrows jutting out from all his body apertures, one in particular!

Ungus, not surprised by what he sees, unleashes one of his attack spells on the whole lot just as another gush of briny water hits all of us except Ungus. We are all washed out of the chariot, ending up scattered a good 40 feet downstream and knocked prone. Not one for taking a setback, Morthwyl runs back up past the chariot and right into the enemies’ chamber. Groa also moves up, taking cover under the chariot while Kuiperia follows Morthwyl and goes invisible. I stand up and, engaging my boots, also run into the chamber, cursing unprintable words at the fiend Berrian. He yells back at me saying he is trying to save the Feywild. Ungus casts a spell on them, dazing the Demon Golem and 2 others, while preventing them to make attacks on us. Morthwyl then charges the Demon Golem, hammering its face and bloodying him. The three opponents shuffle around, readying to engage in melee battle while Morthwyl take the opportunity to kill the vile Human “Cleric”, Vadin Cartwright. Zandrian, acting all paternal and looking at Berrian like he wants to spank him, says “Berrian, it is time we cease this foolishness!” Then he begs us not to kill his son who is arguing with him, wanting to destroy Shinaelestra in order to save the rest of the Feywild. Groa moves into the room, away from the brine, casting a huge burst, boosting our attacks. Kuiperia then moves up right next to Berrian, attacking and bloodying him, then shifting back away. Eager to fulfill my fantasy of making a pincushion out of Berrian, I focus my sight on him. But Zandrian warns me that if we kill Berrian, he will not give us the secret to save Shinaelestra. Fine! Grumbling to myself, I re-focus on the Golem, bloodying and immobilizing him while Ungus casts another spell. Morthwyl follows up by charging the Golem again, killing him. As the Demon dies, his body flies outwards in deadly shards, hitting Morthwyl and Berrian, killing the fiendish Eladrin. I whoop in laughter and jump up and down as Zandrian tries to throw his javelin at me. With his decrepit arms, he only manages to drop the javelin harmlessly to which I laugh at him again, whereupon he surrenders to us! The battle over, Kuiperia stabilizes and binds Berrian while I compose myself. Ungus then brings him back to consciousness, wanting to hear more of his explanations. (I think – I have heard enough and wish Ungus would gag him!) He starts ranting and raving about how if we save Arantus we are risking destroying the Feywild. Groa leads us in telling him off. Then Zandrian tells us about his master Tick Tock – another one of our past acquaintances – who is on a fast path to tyranny and has been granted powers by none other than Dagon. It seems Tick Tock and Dagon have worked out a deal. Dagon helps the beholder achieve the powers of an Ultimate Tyrant, one of the fiercest of all beholder types. Tick Tock plans to use his new-found powers to establish himself as supreme ruler of Arantus. In return, Tick Tock opens a permanent portal to Abysm, allowing Dagon to enter the world and feast on its aquatic life forms whenever he pleases. As an unwilling servant of Tick Tock, Zandrian Velfarren had no choice but to help carry out his master’s wishes by participating in the ritual. Yeah, well we know others who have had nefarious plans too and we put a stop to them!

Berrian Velfarren, meanwhile, has cemented his own deal with Dagon. Berrian will assist the demon lord in summoning the Eladrin city of Shinaelestra into the Abyss. In exchange, Dagon will help Berrian close off all portals between the Feywild and The Elemental Chaos (including the Abyss), ensuring that no further damage is done to the Feywild by the recent cataclysmic destruction of The Elemental Engine. Since Shinaelestra is a city in decay to begin with, Berrian feels that this is a reasonable trade-off. After hearing all this ogreshit, we settle down for a long rest, right here in this chamber, after closing the doors.

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Peli's Post - #112
A Demon Boy and A Goddess Girl

Pelorday, Marantus 12, 1018 A.G. – Trapped in the Original Tomb of Horrors

Having spent the night uneventfully, we awoke to renewed pleas from Kuiperia to consider the proposal from the Eye of Vecna. She’s also gasping, telling Groa the green vapors are getting to her. While Groa thinks Kuiperia is exaggerating just a tad, she is starting to think we should let her in. Instead, for the moment, Groa uses one of her spells to create a wind blowing the fumes away from Kuiperia. We are still discussing our predicament and how to get out of it. Even though I already told the group I sense miles of rock around us, Ungus goes into one of his trances to examine our surroundings. He feels the rock around us is not an earthly rock but instead typical of rock from the Elemental Chaos. Yeah, OK, either way we can’t tunnel out of it. Morthwyl suggests we might want to try tricking the teleportation circle into believing Acererak is here but Groa says MAYBE she could figure out how to do that given 30 – 60 days! Metterby, the Half-Elf Warlock scribbles they have been here for 30 YEARS and haven’t figured it out. Speaking of which, they all look a little malnourished and dehydrated but otherwise pretty good for their age – well the Half-Elf, the Elf and the Dwarf anyway. Jangrid the Human Cleric – not so much. She’s a frail old lady now in her 70’s. We start passing out water to them but Peristaul asked for wine. I rummage thru my Haversack and find a couple of bottles so I hand him one. Morthwyl is eager to do something – anything – and grumbles he should crunch Acererak’s skull fragments to powder. I tell him to go ahead if he wants to die here. Then I come up with an idea. I say we can take the resurrected child Acererak to Forgehome and let him be raised by Uncle Agapanthus and be indoctrinated with goodness by Sariant and Prince Galerant along with the other members of the Company of the Black Wagon. Now The Eye of Vecna’s thoughts are coming thru to us again via Kuiperia. (Oh, what a pain!) She is saying there is a woman in the City of Sigil called Lady Oster and she will take the child for us. Yeah, we don’t know anything about her. It also tells us about how the young Acererak was ostracized for being a half-breed and how he witnessed villagers with pitchforks and torches attack his mother, burning her. Morthwyl has had enough of Vecna/Kuiperia so he opens the door and charges out, dragging Kuiperia back further down the hall, tying her up. Returning to us, he vows not to make a deal with that thing! But Ungus and I are leaning toward making the deal – we have to get out of here and help restore the world. Besides, I am too young and too pretty to die in this stinking place. I offer up another option – can we find out if the Eye of Vecna can bring back Acererak as a baby – to a more innocent time in his life before bad things happened to him. It’s a question we will have to ask it personally. We all think about that and pray to our gods for guidance but none of them are answering us. It’s as if being in this place is blocking our prayers. Obanar warns us the baby would still be a Half-Demon. Well, what does that mean? A Half-Demon can’t be raised to be good? That’s the impression we get. Groa knows that an abyssal Cambion (Half-Demon, Half-Human) looks somewhat like a Tiefling and could perhaps pass as one in Arantus. Groa and I then speculate if Kuiperia could control the Eye of Vecna. But Groa realizes that the Eye is a strong artifact and not the actual Vecna. Something about concordance but what it means is neither can control the other. We need to talk to the Eye so I suggest Groa get close enough to communicate with it. She goes into the corridor and telepathically asks if it can resurrect Acererak as a baby. It tells her it is possible but that for each year younger than 10 there is an increasing risk of destroying the creation and its soul. It could however, still activate the teleportation circle. Groa thinks the Eye is being truthful because for one thing it reminds her it wants to escape just as badly as we do. Then it tells her something we should have thought about – it says we should search Acererak’s library and find a sigil sequence to a safe place. (We already know a lot of sigil sequences – but I guess we thought Acererak’s circle was locked on to only one place?) Seeing that Kuiperia is almost passing out from the fumes, Groa drags her closer to our room, out of the fumes. She then comes back and tells us about the library. We all go there but finding that it is filled with the obnoxious green fumes, we can’t stay. So we load a pair of Tenser’s Floating Discs with as many books as we can and haul them back to our room. On our way back, Groa unties Kuiperia and tells her to come with us. Sorting thru the books, we find one of interest – about the City of Sigil or the City of Doors – which exists in its own plane. There, the city is ruled by the “Lady of Pain”. But I found a reference to someone called Lady Osterneth, who purports to be a suave and beautiful human woman in her late 20’s – but in actuality is an ancient Lich who possesses the original, desiccated Heart of Vecna. The Eye, agitated that we found that reference, mumbles to us but Groa just blows a raspberry at it. (I smile at her ladylike behavior.) Then she tells us the Eye of Vecna, the Hand of Vecna and the Heart of Vecna all wish to be reunited. Yeah, that ain’t gonna happen! With our new knowledge, we are leaning toward resurrecting Acererak, have him activate the teleportation circle then we can insert a sigil sequence to anywhere we want. We discuss whether it’s safe to bring Acererak to Argent and how far away is that circle from Gabbe? We remember that the circle in Argent is in a town square, quite a safe distance away from Gabbe’s pool. Kuiperia feels the need to tell us she could quite possibly separate herself from the Eye of Vecna by angering it, but if the Eye gets angry enough with Kuiperia it could turn her to dust. She feels it probing her brain and she is trying to block it out but is not sure if it’s working. On the other hand, she says this might be useful because she feels she could also probe its memories. I think about another option with Acererak – that once he gets us out of here we could kill the kid. Oops, the Eye heard my thoughts and says if we destroy the boy, it will destroy Kuiperia.

So with Morthwyl reluctantly agreeing to our plan, we prepare to commence the Raise Dead ritual, with the Eye of Vecna modifying it. Sticking to the original plan of resurrecting him as a 10 year-old Cambion, Groa and Ungus begin. The 8 hour ordeal is supervised by the Eye of Vecna who inserts new arcane variations into the ritual words. With slight nods to each other, Groa and Ungus make mental note of those variations and upon completion, have now learned how to raise the dead to an earlier time of their life. Upon completing the process, a creepy young Cambion child coalesces before us on the floor. He’s naked, confused and scared, crying for his mother. He scuttles away, yelling at us, “Don’t kill her, please don’t kill her!” Groa’s maternal instincts hit her as she rushes to console him while Ungus hands him a beer and both he and Morthwyl give him some Dwarf clothes. Groa gently asks if we can call him Ace. He agrees but is still confused and ranting about his mother and how he wants to kill or imprison his father. After spending time with him, calming him down, we explain what we need him to do. But Groa thinks there are too many of us to go thru the circle at once – so we put some of the Blue Cloaks in my haversack and Ungus’ Bag of Holding and we carry others. Set to go now, Ace jumps into the teleportation circle, activating it. Then we all walk into the circle while Ungus sets the sigil sequence for Argent which we start to see thru a tunnel-like vision.

After we are successful in getting thru, Morthwyl and Ungus pray that we have done the right thing bringing this “child” here with us and whether it might be better to slay him now. Neither of the Dwarves get their prayers answered but Kuiperia and Groa feel that both the Raven Queen and Melora suggest he may still be of use to us. I characteristically don’t ask my god but I am OK with letting him live and watching him closely. As our attention turns to the surroundings, we witness an incredible sight. There is our beloved Gabbe, hovering 50 feet up in the air, tethered to a howdah which is mounted on a huge elephant made of black marble. I immediately yell out, “Is that Tantron?” Both Ungus and I are delighted to see it, hoping we also see Dame Mari Roemer who we fondly remember as a brave and valiant Knight. We also see another old friend, one of the original Blue Blades, the old elf Ressilmae Starlight and nearby a young boy who we also remember fondly as our first squire, Bastian Kamroth – well, actually he was Dame Mari’s squire. But one person we are not so pleased to see is the young human girl, Tress. The last time we saw her, she summoned Demons. We note that her head has been reattached to her shoulders however. That’s a good thing I guess.

So we notice Gabbe is testing the rope which ties her to Tantron – she’s hovering up and down and Groa is concerned. After exchanging greetings, Groa asks if she is feeling OK and if she is attached to Tantron by choice. Gabbe tells her yes, she is fine and tells us to climb up the elephant and enter the howdah. I let the Blue Cloaks out of my Haversack. Obanar and the rest of them are happy to be in Argent and see Gabbe and the Torrian children welcome them warmly. Gabbe tells us we are going to places that need our help and this time she is going with us. But where are we going? She says there is no time to explain right now – she will tell us while we are enroute. So we all climb and enter the howdah along with Ressilmae, Bastian, Tress and Ace. Obanar and The Blue Cloaks are going to stay here in Argent with Etupio and the Torrians to recover. Ressilmae turns to us and tells us he is so glad we got back here, Gabbe was so anxious and they have much to share with us. As the three youngest members of our party introduce themselves, we notice Bastian and Tress giving Ace suspicious looks. As Gabbe starts flying, towing Tantron with us in the howdah, Resillmae starts to tell us about how Dame Mari succeeded in her quest to reunite the two aspects of Avandra but had to sacrifice her own life in the process. Avandra—the goddess of change, adventure, and luck—has been reborn in Tress’s body, but the little strawberry blonde, pig-tailed girl isn’t really fully aware that she is now a goddess. Ungus interprets this new Avandra goddess’ rebirth as a sign of great change to come. The paths to adventure we have followed over this past year are quickly fading and new kinds of adventure are replacing them, in this world and in others. But this means the twilight of our adventuring is quickly closing in. (I fight back a tear at the thought.) We are also told the story of how Dame Mari died and how everyone got here from Fallcrest. Ressilmae also tells us that Gabbe feels as a Blue Warden, she needs to help us accomplish a few more important things before she can retire and return to the Plane of Dreams. She has also indicated that we may retire there with her – or visit for a time as we see fit. While we are there, we could inhabit the dreams of other would-be adventurers and leave anytime. (But I think I would rather live in my own adventure than in a dream of someone else’s!) Anyway, Gabbe tells us that she has two urgent missions for us to accomplish. But before she can tell us, Ressilmae inquires about Uncle Crogan. After explaining his new existence, I pull his circlet out of my haversack and he and Ressilmae briefly talk. I think they also discuss plans to free Uncle Crogan’s trapped soul from the soul gem.

So Gabbe’s first important mission for us is to secure and heal the Nentir Vale. She wants us to forge an alliance between all the local residents/factions to unite against the encroaching war between Goblyndor and Drachnydor. She also takes time to warn us that Arantus is in such a fragile state right now, we need to only use our Epic powers for important matters. The whole world may destabilize if we use our powers too much. For an example, she warns us NOT to battle Tarnhem in this plane. If we want to annihilate him, it is best to do so on his home ground or on another plane, not in Arantus. She also starts to speak about channeling our power into her or thru her? I don’t get it all as she is interrupted by the sighting of a Black Dragon heading our way. It’s the cruel and evil Shadowmire from Witchlight Fens. Gabbe says we must trust her and do what she says. She says one of us must go outside and confront the Black Dragon. Ungus volunteers, goes outside the howdah and wonders of wonders, is successful in intimidating Shadowmire, who asks him what he would like him to do. Ungus gives him a beer and has Groa come out to talk to him. She explains we need him to convince the other native Dragons of the Nentir Vale to join us in our quest. Shadowmire agrees and sets out to do our bidding. All excited, Gabbe says she is ready to visit the next Dragon’s lair but Morthwyl tells her to hold up, stating we need to let Shadowmire get to them first. So we feel a sudden change in direction as she says he is correct and our next stop will be Stonefang Pass where Morthwyl’s Orcs are located. Upon landing in the pass, Morthwyl jumps out of the howdah and gathers the Orcs who bow to “Lord Morthwyl”. He gives them such a rousing, inspiring speech, I am caught up in the moment, yelling out “Yes, I am with you!” After the Orcs agree to become part of the nacent Nentir Vale alliance, tentatively called “The Order of the Blue Scarabs”, their leader asks Lord Morthwyl if they can have some “cool” uniforms and emblems. We come up with a design for them, featuring a double-headed axe with a blue scarab superimposed over it. They pledge their allegiance to us and will be training and waiting at our beck and call. So Gabbe asks us where to next? We feel since Dwarves make the best armor and weapons, we should head over to Silvershield Hold and convince them to help us in addition to making all the equipment. Once we get there Ungus fears his diplomacy skills won’t help. So Morthwyl pulls out his biggest hammer and smashes the conference table to smithereens! Yup, that’s our Morthy!!! In unison, they all drop their jaws and say “You got our attention. What do you want us to do?” After Morthwyl tells them, they finally agree but tell us they want even “cooler” uniforms than the Orcs get. Well, of course! So we tell them to design them and we will pay the cost. Groa suggests they use some of their fine metalwork in the design. But the kicker is they have to make the Orcs uniforms too. They grudgingly agree but then they want to know if they will be forced to work with the Orcs, side by side. Ungus explains that yes, there may be times they will have to do that but if the Orcs attack them, the Dwarves can defend themselves. Well, that’s a no-brainer! We give them some money to make the uniforms and pay for the broken table, then we take our leave, on to our next stop.

At Pomora Wood, we meet with Lady Itzehl and representatives from Cloak Wood and Harken Forest where Groa takes the lead in requesting their allegiance. They are fine working with the Dwarves but reluctant to work with Orcs, Goblins, and Dragons. Even with Lady Itzehl’s forceful admonishments, some refuse to help, wanting instead to relocate to the Feywild. Ultimately 2/3 of them agree to help while 1/3 decide to leave. I yell at them “fine, go and drink your pansy-wine!” Next, our journey brings us to meet with the Phantom Brigade. Gabbe tells us they must be convinced by someone with ties to the undead. Kuiperia tries to do that but even with Morthwyl’s help (the commander is a friend of his), they too decide they are leaving this world and wish to return to the land of the dead, feeling their work in Arantus is done. Morthwyl suggests Kuiperia try to intimidate them instead of persuading them. She stands tall, focuses the Eye of Vecna on them, throws out her awesome breasts, lets her red hair blow in the wind and threatens them in her most intimidating voice. They just smile and say they are leaving! Fine!

Gabbe reminds us we have several more Dragons to convince. (I thought Shadowmire was going to do that!) But evidently, he only spoke to them briefly to prepare them for our arrival. I remind Morthwyl he has a Dragon scale from Calastryx. We go to Winterbole first to see Bitterstrike and before you know it, Ungus has her eating out of his hands and giving him a celebratory ride. Along with her offspring Farralax, Thrymzen and Szartharrax, they all vow to help the cause. Next we visit Vestapalk in the Cairngorm Peaks and quickly gain his loyalty, followed by a satisfying visit to the calm and reasonable Blue Dragon, Azurebolt, to whom Morthwyl gives his precious dragon scale. Mission accomplished!

Our next mission is to heal the fragile state of the world of Arantus. She describes ruptures and fractures in places where evil things are coming in. One such place is in the north near Lake Nen called the Ruins of Fastormel. There have been sightings of nasty, rusty, briny water coming out of caves, poisoning everyone and everything in its path. But Gabbe says she can’t help us here and she can’t land, so we will need to jump down. She tells us we must find the source of the acid water and she suspects it is connected to the Abyss and possibly has links to Abysm with intrusions by the fierce Demon Lord Demogorgon himself. When he overhears this news, Ace becomes all excited and wants to join us saying, “Can I go?” He tells us his father is not on that level so it will be safe for him. But we still think it is too risky and we even want Gabbe to take him to Agapanthus or Etupio while we are busy. But she says she can’t do that either – she needs to stay here. So Ace, Tress and Bastian all will stay in the howdah, supervised by Ressilmae and Gabbe. Groa tells them all to “play nice” but must have been looking mainly at Tress who glowers at her. Ressilmae pulls her aside and advises her to speak to Tress with more respect in the future as she wouldn’t want to see Tress get really angry because she is a goddess, after all. Groa bows her branches in agreement. Ace is really disappointed and angry as well but too bad. So as we approach the ruins we see flowing acid water spurting out and down the hillside at random intervals of time. The sulfurous stench is overpowering and the water sizzles, leaving devastation in its path. We approach an opening into a cave. Oh this should be fun. . . . .

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Peli's Post - #111
An Indecent Proposal

Korday, Marantus 11, 1018 A.G. – In the Original Tomb of Horrors, Arantus

We have taken a short rest, looking around the room at all the treasure we found but we have not yet stored any of it away. Amazingly, as we rested, we experienced our powers and abilities increasing substantially. We chat amongst ourselves and as we are doing so, we realize the three cauldrons are emitting a greenish smoke, making us a little drowsy. When we finally start collecting our loot, we realize the Eye of Vecna seems to be missing from where it dropped. Groa quickly told us she remembers that whenever anyone wants to use it, they would have to gouge out their own left eye and put it in their eye socket. We’re in a panic to find the Eye of Vecna but Kuiperia, who had been sitting down with her back to us, now suddenly stands up and turns around. NO, NO, NO, NO! What has she done???? Her own eye, hanging by strands on her cheek, a bloody, pulpy mess, falls to the floor with a loud thwap as we stare in horror. In its place is the Eye of Vecna, pulsating red. “I wanted to find Vecna’s secrets and relay them to the Raven Queen. I’m talking to it right now.” We all know of course of the rivalry between the Raven Queen and Vecna – and we know Vecna’s secrets of necromancy are extremely dangerous. Groa also tells us it is too traumatic and dangerous to reverse what Kuiperia has done – at least for now. Kuiperia is warning us now that we can’t stay here, if we do, the green smoke will make us fall asleep and die. While Kuiperia is talking, Groa stealthily picks up Kuiperia’s bloody eye and tucks it away in her pouch. Kuiperia is going on and on about how she perceives things in the world now – everything is sharper, clearer, her vision is astounding. I think Kuiperia has gone over the edge. Groa talks about getting out of here while Kuiperia starts talking again – but this time in a different tone of voice – it’s actually Vecna speaking thru her! It tells us it is interested in leaving here too and wants to help us. It tempts us with many secrets it can reveal to us but it requires our assistance. Groa says we are just going to find the way out, up to the surface and contact Gabbe. Vecna says “Incorrect my leafy friend, we are in the most isolated, deepest part of Acererak’s chambers. This entire place is nothing more than a gigantic oubliette – one that can only be entered and exited thru Acererak’s teleportation circle.” I remember the day last Augantus when Ungus, Kuiperia and I were trapped in one along with a vicious Blackfang Knoll. It took Lady Itzehl, putting her hand in a brass imprint, to rescue us. Oh, Itzehl, I wish you could do that again! But that is not to be this day – as Vecna is telling us that only Acererak can activate the circle. Groa, with a spark of hope, searches and finds a fragment of Acererak’s skull and brings it over to the circle in hopes of opening it. But Vecna laughs at her, telling her only a LIVING Acererak can activate the circle. Meanwhile, the green smoke is getting thicker and I am finding it hard to concentrate but they just keep talking and talking! Vecna is saying something about he wants his apprentice back and only we can resurrect him. What? Groa informs Vecna that having just killed Acererak that is not going to happen. But Vecna is insistent saying we can bring him back – and he wants to bring him back as a young 10-year old child before he became corrupted. I pull the circlet of gems out of the haversack and, placing it on the floor, groggily ask Uncle Crogan “what is going on?” and “can you help?” He’s clueless and is of no help so I put the circlet back in the haversack. Having seen Uncle Crogan’s soul, now Groa comes up with another bright idea – how about trading Uncle Crogan’s soul with Vecna putting Vecna in the circlet. Quickly realizing she is not powerful enough to do that, we then think about forcibly removing the blue scarab from Kuiperia’s chest. I forgot to mention that Vecna is now communicating with us telepathically, using our Blue Scarab abilities. Groa then states what we all dread – we might have to kill Kuiperia, and remove the Eye of Vecna in order to trap Vecna here. OR – we could subdue Kuiperia and gouge the eye back out. But the real Kuiperia speaks up with her own voice, albeit a little shaky, and asks us to hear Vecna out. We allow it to speak – so to summarize, it wants to raise Acererak from the dead, returning him to life as the 10 year old Cambion boy who, in ages past, became Vecna’s apprentice. If we agree, it will assist in the Raise Dead ritual by using its necromantic secret of raising a dead creature to an earlier stage of its life.

Having heard just about enough from this thing, Morthwyl orders Kuiperia to go over to the other side of the room, more than 100 feet away – out of telepathy range from us. She complies but shakes her head and mumbles the whole time she walks away. In addition, we all walk thru the double doors on one wall of the chamber. Groa, at first wonders about the accuracy of that kind of resurrection, then remembers – she has heard of ancient, undisclosed rituals that can do that. Then she asks if we have any other options to get out of here. I turn my thoughts inward, hoping to sense another way out. With a hint of panic in my voice, I tell them I only feel solid rock around us, everything sealed, there is no other teleportation circle anywhere. Next Groa says she doesn’t recall the name of the woman in Sigil but she feels that Vecna respects her. (Yeah, that’s really comforting!) I ask Groa to try to contact Gabbe again but there is no response. So we decide to explore the chamber further down the corridor. I tell the group I already can sense there is no way out but am willing to explore anyway, if just for the sake of getting away from this green smoke.

At the end of this short corridor is another set of double doors which Morthwyl thrusts open. Beyond the doors we see a large square room with 6 columns, all casting a dull light of different colors – there are two blue, two green and two yellow ones. We see no other doors or windows. Our eyes now spot the eerie sight of ropey, drooping strands of spider-like webs connecting all the columns. Suspended in some of the webbing are five larval-like pods, some slowly moving. Groa and I recognize the encased face of one of them – Obanar, the Human Wizard – he is barely alive but paralyzed as are the other four – a Half-Elf male, a Human female, a Dwarven female and an Elf male. On top of three columns are aberrant spider creatures with tumors all over there scarred bodies. Also there are two other, much larger – humanoid spiders – one of which has a long tube injected into the larval sac containing the Dwarf female fighter – and it’s sucking her life juices out of her.

Enraged, Morthwyl yells and wants to charge it. Just as Groa points out the columns are swirling with arcane energy, one of the green ones hits Morthwyl, drawing away some of his healing ability and poisoning him. As Ungus steps back and buffs our powers, the small Spiders try to get close enough to attack Morthwyl, one of them dominates his mind, pulling out his thoughts – then it goes insubstantial. The second one attacks him also, trying to tear his mind apart with psychic damage and starts to drag him into the room. Without resisting, Morthwyl is pulled thru the doorway, a pit opening underneath him. Starting to fall, he manages to grab the edge of the pit. The third Spider then hits him with more psychic damage and also tries to pull him into the pit. But this time he fights back. Now the two Ancient Spider-Demon humanoids start to act. The closest one moves next to the pit, blasting a psychic attack into the corridor, hitting all except Ungus. Dazed, we see Groa get hit and slowed down but then she wills her armor to change to psychic armor, resisting some of any future damage. The yellow columns then attack Morthwyl, dazing him again and unloading more psychic damage on him. Groa attacks two of the Spiders, hurting their defense and sliding them. Even though I am dazed, I manage to shoot one of the Ancient Spider-Demons three times, immobilizing it. Next, the Spider dominating Morthwyl commands him to jump into the pit. He plunges down 40 feet onto spikes and vials of oil, crushing four of them. The released oil then explodes into flames after a devil’s head in the base of the pit spits out fire. The floor lights up, burning Morthwyl. A blue column shoots out a bolt of lightning at me, knocking me prone, sizzling electric fire coursing thru my body, my beautiful hair sizzling and curling at the ends. The second blue column ineffectually attacks Boldra. The green columns attack again – this time hitting Ungus and Groa with their poison. Ungus moves forward, casts his Denunciation Spell on the Ancient Spider-Demon, lowering both its attacks and defenses then he moves back to safety. Two Spiders creep up to the edge of the pit and, looking down, try to dominate Morthwyl but only one succeeds then it goes insubstantial. The third Spider moves to attack Groa but misses. The Ancient Spider-Demon next to the pit shoots a psychic bolt at Morthwyl but misses. The other one is successful at shooting a bolt at me however, slowing me. One of the yellow columns then attacks me, missing while the other attacks Boldra – once again with no effect. Groa casts her Rain of Blood spell on the three Spiders and one Ancient Spider-Demon, damaging them and making them vulnerable, also bloodying two of the Spiders. Then she casts another spell on the same crew, sliding two Spiders and the Ancient Spider-Demon toward the pit. Only one of the Spiders falls in, crashing down next to Morthwyl and breaking seven more oil vials. Both it and Morthwyl suffer more fire damage, the Spider becoming bloodied then it dies from the spikes piercing its lungs. I am taking ongoing residual psychic damage and I try to undaze and unslow myself but ask for and receive Groa’s help. Then I crawl on my stomach to the edge of the pit and teleport Morthwyl up next to me using my Ring of Calling. Once he is safely behind me, I then teleport both of us back 25 feet and shoot one of the Spiders, dazing it. Not realizing he is being dominated, I am startled and angry when Morthwyl tries to bash my brains in with his hammer. Then he comes out of it and apologizes to me. One of the blue columns attacks Groa, knocking her prone and electrocuting her – her branch tips sparking fire. The other blue column hits Boldra with no effect. Both of the green columns attack Ungus and Boldra, both missing. Ungus then casts a healing spell on me and Morthwyl then helps him stand up. The two Spiders jump across the pit and confront Groa and me with claw attacks. Groa takes a hit but Morthwyl switches places with me and it misses him. He then retaliates, killing it. One of the Ancient Spider-Demons reaches out and closes the doors. I finally stand up, spotting a Spider on the wall, right next to me. Using the end of my Greatbow, I try to smash it but I miss. But Morthwyl hits it with his hammer, splattering pulpy guts all over us. Leaving us to wipe the muck off our faces, he waddles over to the door and reopens it. Then Groa gasps as she sees one of the Ancient Spider-Demons hanging upside down in front of the door. Morthwyl reacts by attacking and bloodying it, knocking it down prone onto the edge of the pit. Groa then attacks both the Ancient Spider-Demons, killing and sliding one of them into the pit. After the blue columns once again attack Morthwyl, I sense the room is draining of arcane power as three of the columns – one of each color – go dark. But the remaining green column hits Morthwyl as Ungus smartly steps back. The remaining Ancient Spider-Demon attacks Morthwyl, slowing him while the remaining yellow column dazes him. I move way back and shoot the Ancient Spider-Demon, bloodying and immobilizing him once again. Morthwyl jumps across the pit into the chamber as Groa stands up. The blue column attacks him then it and the rest of the columns go dark also. Ungus moves forward again just in time for the Ancient Spider-Demon to attack him but thankfully it misses. I then shoot it again, killing it and ending this stupid battle.

We cut The Blue Cloaks free and begin to revive them to the point they can start talking even though they are still groggy. We give them beer to help their parched throats. Groa senses the columns could recharge so Morthwyl sets to smashing them. Now she says the room is safe enough to sleep overnight here. But first we take a short rest, while we are chatting with The Blue Cloaks. Kuiperia is approaching down the corridor saying she can’t stay there, the green smoke is suffocating her. But we won’t let her in this room, ordering her to go back to the end of the corridor and stay there.

Obanar, in better shape than the others, introduces The Blue Cloaks one by one. Their names are: Metterby, a male Half-Elf Warlock; Jangrid, a female Human Cleric; Peristaul, a male Elf Paladin and Raina Agustian, a female Dwarf Fighter- the one who was being drained. We toast them with more beer and trail rations. Morthwyl asks Obanar if he knows anything about safeguards on the oubliette. He only tells us what we already know – that Acererak’s redoubt is too strong – only he can open its teleportation circle. Groa lets out a big sigh saying we might save the future by staying here, sacrificing ourselves. (But I think to myself I am too young to die and not ready to give up!) The Eye of Vecna wants to raise Acererak from the dead, returning him to life as the 10 year old Cambion boy who, in ages past, became Vecna’s apprentice. If The Blue Scarabs agree, it will assist in the Raise Dead ritual by using its necromantic secret of raising a dead creature to an earlier stage of its life. Morthwyl wants to tie Kuiperia up but instead settles on shutting and barring the door. Then we all move to the far end of the room. We discuss performing the raise dead ritual on Acererak without Vecna, but resurrecting him as a young adult before he becomes a Lich, then killing him after he gets us out of here. But Groa reminds us the ritual we know only works on a creature who has died within thirty days. Ungus says he has studied a prophecy about Acererak. That one day a young Acererak will bind and imprison his much-hated father – Tarnhem. But that never happened. His point being he feels we could successfully raise and train a young, impressionable Acererak to be a good boy. We’ll think about that as we stay here overnight. . . .

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Peli's Post - # 110
WE Devour The Devourer!

Korday, Marantus 11, 1018 A.G. – In Acererak’s Original Tomb of Horrors, Arantus

29 DAYS TO MoNR

Just as we received new powers last night, so did Kuiperia, who, feeling more healthy and powerful, raced thru the chamber, jumping into the Chariot at the last second, just as we teleported to Acererak’s Tomb of Horrors. Ungus was riding the winged horse. It took a while for us to arrive, I don’t know why. We kept spinning as if in a vortex, seeing eerie, bizarre images. We saw some of our past allies who were killed, we saw the face of Gabbe come and go, we saw green-faced devils and an image of a particularly intimidating Balor – staring and grinning at us as drool ran down his chin. Morthwyl, putting his hand over his mouth so as to not be sick, recognized him as Tarnhem the sire to both Lord Vhennyk and Acererak. Also when we saw Gabbe, we telepathically heard her ask if we needed to come to Argent for the night. But she faded away, our connection lost because we are so deep in the tomb and hard to reach.

Despite the spinning and the images, we managed to rest for a few minutes. We arrived in two separate circles. Ungus and the winged horse hovering 10 feet above one circle while the rest of remained in the chariot floating 5 feet above a circle. We are in a large chamber with a set of steep, slippery stairs in one corner. At the top is a platform where a small jeweled skull is hovering. Immediately we recognize it as the same skull which inhabited the God Gollum we destroyed – in other words it is Acererak himself. Surrounding each of our arrival circles are three armored skeletons. On another wall are two sets of metal double doors. The battle starts as Kuiperia jumps out of the chariot onto the stairs using her new ability to ignore difficult terrain. She then moves up and attacks Acererak while noticing that one of his two eye sockets has a jewel but the other is a bloody/goopy real eye as if it had been ripped out of someone’s face. When she conveys that message, I remember seeing a sketch as a child – it is the Eye of Vecna! Vecna is the extremely evil God of Secrets and Acererak once served as his apprentice. After Kuiperia causes major damage to him, she drinks a Potion of Spectral Form and goes insubstantial. Groa then casts a spell on the skeletons, provoking an attack on her but Morthwyl switches places with her, taking the damage. Her deadly spell kills four of the six skeletons, missing only one – the 6th one being out of range. As each of the skeletons die, they burst into ectoplasmic splatters dazing Kuiperia, Groa and me. Another one also burst hurting Morthwyl, Ungus, Kuiperia and me, dazing us again. Ungus shrugs off his daziness, flying the horse back to the chariot and reconnects the harness. Acererak very quietly but eerily says: “More fodder for my soul gems” as the gems light up, sending out a burst hitting all of us, causing lots of damage and stunning us. Then his jeweled skull turns to look at me with his Azure Eye, slowing me with ongoing psychic damage. Then he does the same to Groa followed up by hitting me with his Necrotic Ray. I’m laughing, due to nervousness but also because I know we will overcome him in the long run. Then he flies toward the double doors which fling open. But he stops just short of the doors, in the alcove. The two surviving skeletons move in to attack Ungus. I undaze myself but am still stunned and slowed and taking ongoing damage and getting bloodied from it. Morthwyl charged and killed the last two skeletons.

So, rather than give you a blow by blow account of what happened next, suffice it to say that it was a long, drawn-out battle with me almost dying at one point. One point to make was that Acererak moved further away, out of our sight into another large chamber but then he strangely came back into our view. In that other room were 3 floating skulls which began assisting him. Ungus keeps healing us and we all keep attacking him. At last, weakened by our combined attacks, Acererak is felled by Groa’s lightning, his skull shattering to pieces as the goopy eye falls to the ground. In addition, her attack kills one of the lesser skulls and pushes another. I then destroy another skull while Morthwyl destroyed the final one, ending the battle. I hear a faint cry from my haversack. Uncle Crogan says “Well done lads and lasses!”

After a short rest, we start our search for treasure. We found treasures beyond our wildest dreams! We are filthy rich! And we obtained both a powerful magical item and a potion. Of course we also recovered the Eye of Vecna and celebrated that the Moment of No Return is OVER and we have saved the world! Or have we????

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Peli's Post - 109
"You Call This Living?"

Korday, Marantus 11, 1018 A.G. – In Amoth’s Chamber

29 DAYS TO MoNR

Despite the fact that I had troubling visions during my meditation, I “awoke” to a new day feeling more refreshed and more powerful than ever, having been shown some new “tricks” by my god Corellon. The others also reported having acquired new and powerful feats. Kuiperia though, is still having problems focusing; her mind seems to be half here – half somewhere else.

So after a quick meal of trail rations, also known as beer to the Dwarves, we proceed back to the teleportation circle that will take us to Acererak’s hidden tomb where Cratch awaits us. Along the way, Groa tells us about a vision she had of Gabbe trying to reach her with a warning. She tries to reach back to Gabbe but can’t make contact. But she reports that she feels Gabbe is trying to warn us about our circumstance. I remind the others we have to summon Lareen once we get to Acererak’s hidden tomb. Ungus, not satisfied with just the beer, pulls out a bottle of 150 year-old whiskey and passes it around. Groa doesn’t partake so I drink her share too! Oh yeah! Cratch wants to know which god we want to resurrect. We’re not sure we want to resurrect any of them since it involves a high risk. Even so, we vote to resurrect Amoth the Just and Merciful, in whose chamber we spent the night. Cratch tells us to bring a few pounds of his bone fragments so Groa summons her Fetch to retrieve some and carry them. The Fetch, in the form of a little Halfling girl, heads back to Amoth’s chamber. Moments later, it returns taking the shape of a mini Gabbe, waving her tentacles, trying and failing to communicate with us then returning to her Halfling form. All of us start praying to our respective gods. As Ungus also summons Boldra, a transparent image of the bear being tortured from his challenge appears before us. It says: “Do not have the hubris to resurrect a god! Because of your past actions, a cosmic imbalance has occurred which could destroy the whole world!” then it quickly disappears. At first we take issue with that but then quickly realize some of our collateral damage might indeed have upset the balance of the universe. Ungus also theorizes this is the warning that Gabbe has been trying to convey. On the other hand, Cratch chastises us for listening to Boldrei, asking why we would give up the chance to bring a god back to life. Ungus smacks him upside the head. So taking everything into consideration, we decide not to resurrect a god after all. Morthwyl takes a moment to pray to Kord again, it being his day and all. Then Ungus surprises us with one of his new “tricks”. He casts a spell summoning a Chariot of Clouds pulled by a winged horse which of course can fly! Groa and Ungus climb onboard with Morthwyl and me standing close by – Morthwyl up front and me protecting the rear. Cratch will stay here with Kuiperia. Bidding them goodbye, we place the last gem in the crown of the engraved skull, activating the teleportation circle, then we proceed to enter.

Somewhere between here and there, some of us got separated – but still within visual range. Groa and I arrived in separate teleportation circles while the Dwarves arrived together, Ungus and Boldra still in the Chariot. We look across the large chamber at each other. The entire floor is comprised of massive blocks of black necrotic ice and in the center are 5 feet high concentric “steps” leading upwards to a main plateau where a massive Gollum stares down at us. Hovering high above it is a MASSIVE Eldritch Engine radiating crackling lightning and necrotic energy in all directions, resonating into the walls, floor and ceiling. We sense the black ice is damaging necrotic cold, getting more dangerous the higher the level.

I call for Lareen the Eladrin Vampire Lord to assist us now, appearing in the same teleportation circle as the Dwarves and the Chariot. As the battle starts, I call out my word of warning, giving us a head start and an edge on our first attacks. As we prepare for battle we spot a large shining gem, spinning in the center of the Eldritch Engine. Ungus tells everyone in his area to spread out then he commands the Chariot to float out over the first “step”. There he attacks the Gollum with one of his spells, making it unable to attack us for a short time. Then he quickly scans the Gollum, noting its skeletal form with crystal shards and strips of rotting flesh wrapped around it. Where a head should be is a large skull with a small crystal skull in the left eye socket. Ungus relays this information to us, also noting the pulsating gem in the center of the Eldritch Engine is a phylactery and the jewel-encrusted skull inside the Gollum’s skull is Acererak himself. The Gollum would become the god body of Acererak if he ever ascends to godhood. Lareen yells out to destroy the EE and he is sure the phylactery will be destroyed as well. Now the EE spits out necrotic bolts of lightning energy at Ungus, causing him to spit up some whiskey. Groa then attacks the Gollum with one of her powerful spells also trying to slide it down over the edge. Unfortunately it caught its balance, cantilevered over the edge but she did manage to lower its defenses. Then she showed us one of HER new “tricks” by invoking her new “angel” power. To our astonishment, beautiful angelic wings sprouted from her branches and she took to the air, flying out of her circle. Yours truly then attacks it three times, noticing something strange around its head. It’s wearing a jewel-encrusted headband! In three of the six jewels, I notice the ghostly faces of Uncle Crogan, Nimozarin and the Dragon Cantryst. The Gollum then bellows out that he has room for three more and since there are four of us, one of us is going to get lucky! So I bellow back at him that he is going to be destroyed soon. Then I hit him three more times, immobilizing him then I go invisible, one of MY new tricks. In response, it takes a deep breath and one of the face gems collapses into its forehead as we hear Cantryst let out an agonizing scream. It then says “I love the taste of souls in the morning!” as we sense it has healed itself quite a bit by ingesting Cantryst’s soul. (Dam, we need to remove that headband quickly and save the other two.) It then turns its attention on Ungus, trying to drain his soul, but only dazing and restraining him. Morthwyl senses the black ice will not only hurt him, it will also try to repel him if he tries to climb up. So instead he calls upon the power of his jumping boots and jumps all the way up to the Gollum’s feet. He then power attacks the Gollum four times, hitting with three of them! Not satisfied, he hits it again with his Anvil of Doom stunning him. The EE then hits Groa twice, dazing her after I saved her from one attack. Lareen moves around to the long side of the platform, casting his dominating gaze upon the Gollum but misses at the last minute. The necrotic ice starts causing minor damage to me and Lareen but lots of damage to Morthwyl who is on thicker, more deadly ice up there. Ungus tries and fails to undaze himself but Groa helps him by demanding justice. Then he squints up at the headband tied around the Gollum’s head and is inspired to remove it. So he flies the chariot up to the back of the Gollum’s head, reaching out and pulling on it with the power of his bracers helping. As he pulls it, he notices that not only is it tied, it is actually stitched into its head. Disappointed he was only able to break some of the stitches, he retreats cursing to himself. The Gollum didn’t like him touching his head so it attacks him with lighting and necrotic damage. Groa, no longer dazed, casts Rain of Blood on it, making it vulnerable and boosting Morthwyl’s attacks on it. Then she flies in closer, casting another spell on it with radiant damage and dazing it again. Her spell also will cause it more damage if it hits any of her allies. I become visible, attack it twice with radiant damage also, blinding and bloodying it and also preventing it from any possible teleporting then I go invisible again, protecting myself. (I quite like this new trick.) The Gollum can’t move but he does manage to restore his vision. Morthwyl then charges it, causing it to yowl in pain and tries to push it further off the ledge but again it maintains its balance. With a few choice Dwarven cuss words, he tries to push it again. This time it is knocked prone but still stops itself from going over the edge. Eyeing that headband, Morthwyl then slowly waddles over toward its downed head. Meanwhile the EE starts attacking Groa twice as Lareen take on his mist form and flies toward the Gollum. Ungus casts a burst on it, stunning it then the EE attacks him twice in the Chariot, missing both times. Did I mention the Chariot provides excellent cover? Morthwyl then attempts to remove the headband, grabbing it with both hands and pulling it as he prays. He slips on the ice and fails to remove it but frustrated, attacks the Gollum again. Groa flies over the Gollum’s head, takes out a knife then pries it off! Yeah! She gazes at the worried faces of Uncle Crogan and Nimozarin in the headband’s gems. I then take out and fire 3 of my firestorm arrows causing it lots of damage but also a little bit to Groa and Lareen who were too close. The EE attacks Morthwyl this time as Larry recharges his dominating gaze power, fires it off and misses. (I silently growl!) Ungus casts another spell on it, dazing it again and lowering both its attacks and defenses. The EE attacks Groa again, dazing her then the Gollum casts a blast on her, stunning and bloodying her. Morthwyl drinks a Fey Step potion and teleports up two levels, right under the Gollum’s belly then attacks it, causing lots more damage. I then attack it and drink a Potion of Clarity in case I need it later. The EE attacks Groa but Morthwyl switches places with her and takes the damage, getting dazed. Lareen teleports up to the Gollum, attacking it with his Touch of Grief, dazing him. About time he did something right! After Ungus heals Groa, Morthwyl and himself, the Gollum grabs the headband back, away from Groa before she had a chance to fly away. Quickly the Gollum consumed another of the souls trapped there – this time we hear Nimozarin scream as he is devoured. Uncle Crogan’s soul is the only one left – and he looks stunned himself. Angry at herself, Groa now flies just far enough away to turn and cast her mighty Thundercage spell on the Gollum, trying in vain to slide him. Morthwyl now steps up and, grabbing the headband with two hands, pulls it away from the Gollum once again and in one swift motion, tosses it to where he last saw me standing before going invisible. What a sight that must have been! A headband with jewels, one of which contained the essence of Uncle Crogan, flying through the air, stopping and then disappearing! What actually happened was my invisible self reached up, caught the headband and quickly placed it in my haversack. I hear a faint “thank you” followed by a whine of “it’s dark in here!” I whisper he is lucky to be alive to which he says “you call this living?” I tell him to shut up, I’m invisible out here and he is giving my position away. Then, becoming visible as I do before and during each attack, I send a burst of arrows down onto the Gollum’s head and shoulders. Ungus casts another amazing spell which nullifies the Gollum’s attacks while Lareen gets bloodied from the EE. Finally the Gollum manages to stand back up then reaches down and picks up an unsuspecting Morthwyl, slamming him into the ground several times. Even though Morthy becomes bloodied, he laughs the whole time he is being body-slammed and stunned. Groa retaliates by casting her Astral Tempest spell, sliding and knocking the Gollum prone once again. Calling upon my most mighty powers, I teleport up all the levels of necrotic black ice, appearing next to the Gollum’s left ear. With all my might behind me, I pull back my trusty arrow, smashing it thru its thick head, right into the “brain”, destroying it. The Gollum body dissolves into a rubbery mass of rotted meat and pieces of shattered crystals. But now Acererak is left hovering 5 feet above ground. Lareen tries and fails to dominate him then Ungus heals Morthwyl who tries to use his Hammer of Fate to bash him but he fails in the attempt.

Wait! What’s happening over there? One of the teleportation circles activates whereupon Acererak flies into it and disappears! We all know where he is going – to his original Tomb of Horrors back on Arantus. We also know if we destroy his phylactery, then he will have 10 days to construct a new one – and we will NOT let that happen. Morthwyl and I jump into the floating Chariot and get ready to destroy the EE. Then Ungus flies the Chariot up under the EE. Morthwyl and I both attack, but I miss. Morthwyl’s attack starts a collapse however which continues as Groa attacks it. Then Morthwyl hammers it again, further collapsing it. I then reach out, grabbing it with my hands and manage to manipulate it enough to crush it entirely. The engine and gem dissolve while its energy dissipates into who knows where. While we are standing there, amazed at what happened, Lareen points out that the teleportation circle is still open but fading fast. If we want to pursue our enemy, we need to get into the portal before it closes. Groa joins us in the Chariot and we fly into the circle hot on Acererak’s trail. Hopefully we get a chance to take a short breather along the way!

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