Korday, Octantus 5, 1017 A.G. –night in the Garden of Graves
When we hear the explosion and then Morthwyl laughing, we all start to run toward them. As I pass the dried up, dead body of Mother Gerd, I kick her in the head and whisper “That’s from my Uncle Agapanthus.” When I reach Morthwyl, I laugh along with him as I clap him on the shoulder, then I throw down one of The Blue Scarabs calling cards. Ungus administers to Analastra, stabilizing and then healing her. I tell the others that we should burn Mother Gerd’s body – just to be safe. But before we can gather the implements, something hits my head, bounces and lands at Ungus’ feet. It’s black and cylindrical. Groa says it’s not magical – just a scroll container so she opens it and finds a slip of parchment inside which she reads. “Before you leave my garden’s soil, I give you this, my curse from Moil!” Below the writing is a green Devil’s face and immediately we all feel a heaviness and oppression come upon us. Damn that Acererak! Groa tells us that some curses can be warded off but not powerful ones like this. She says that Moil is called “the city that waits”, it’s in the Shadowfell and at one time it was the Devourer Acererak’s home base. Ungus says Acererak’s first power play was to control all the undead in the world. He was thought to be dead for a long while, but we now know he is not!
I say “enough talk, let’s get back to Mother Geri”. After dousing her in oil, I set her alight and can almost hear her cackling once again as the old bag of bones and skin turns to ashes. Good riddance! But the Curse of Moil has left us slightly weaker in all our attacks. I ask Groa if she knows how to lift the curse but she doesn’t – and neither does Ungus. Morthwyl says he remembers hearing about the Curse of Moil from folklore which also triggers my memories. We both think the only way to remove the curse is by going to Moil itself. Since none of us is that familiar with Moil, we decide to address that with the Council of Sages in Hammerfast. Kuiperia and Itzehl, both reviving but still in a funk, will return with us. Itzehl mumbles that she wants to transfer the large Scarab to someone else so she can devote more time to Pomora Wood. Her subjects there need her attention. I recommend she give the large Scarab to Groa which the others agree to.
While I burn the tree and the Quicklings, Morthwyl collects 6 pounds of Sky Metal. He was the only one who could find the pieces, which he then shows to us. Ungus says we need more but Groa says by staying longer we risk severe injury. While we discuss ways to resist the necrotic damage, Kuiperia starts to feel better and actually gets stronger the closer she gets to the Sky Metal. So Ungus asks her to gather more of it while the rest of us leave the room. She gathers 9 more pounds of it plus finds some gems that Morthwyl didn’t see. One is an emerald worth 1200 gp, one is a fire opal worth 800 and two are pieces of Alexandrite worth 500 each. She also finds a beautiful staff which Groa oozes sap over.
Itzehl is feeling well enough now to perform The Bringing. But Analastra says she won’t go with us to Hammerfast. She wants to meet her brother Berrian at Gardmore Abbey by way of the Fey Crossing she found. She says that Etupio and Berrian were heading there so Berrian could be healed in the Font of Ioun. We discuss a side mission with her to retrieve the sword Moonbane before it gets to Skalmad, the King of the Trolls. After Ungus fills her in on the details, she says that once Berrian is healed, he, Etupio and her will take on that task and then meet up with us in Hammerfast. She also mentions something about enlisting allies to help them. She and Morthwyl ask to have their severed appendages reattached, which Ungus does easily. After thanking her for all her help, and saying our goodbyes, Itzehl performs The Bringing.
Arriving in Gabbe’s Pool, she greets us as usual, which means she addresses Itzehl. Sensing her melancholy mood, Gabbe questions her and Itzehl explains what she would like to do. After Uncle Crogan and Sir Grails arrive and are consulted, Gabbe says she can perform the ritual now. It will involve unbinding the Scarabs from Itzehl and Groa, switching them, and then re-binding them. Uncle Crogan is concerned for Itzehl but glad she will still have a Scarab and join us when she can. Groa gets instructions from Gabbe and I inquire about the Deck of Many Things. Ungus still has the Card called Void and Itzehl agrees to give the Deck to Groa as long as it is kept away from Void until we are ready to use them. That will be when we have crafted a new weapon from the Sky Metal of the three lesser engines. At that point we can unite all the Cards and they will infuse their power into it. We briefly discuss using the Deck to control the Red Tinker but they tell us that is far too risky. Itzehl gives the Deck to Groa as we walk to an emergency 11PM meeting with the Council of Sages.
Once there, we are informed that the deceased Helka has been replaced by a new member who some of us have met before. Vadriar the Sage walks in and is introduced to Groa and Morthwyl. We learn that he had been taken prisoner and has some bad news for us. The Mages of Saruun have all had thrall collars of Vhennyk placed on them. Except for Orontor who refused and is being held prisoner in the Underdark at a Drow complex beneath Harkenwood Forest. The Drow of course are now in alliance with Vhennyk. Vadriar apologizes for not being able to free Orontor.
Continuing on to other matters, Ungus asks what they found out about the numbers and phrases he was repeating. They tell him it is a time stamp for 11 seconds before midnight on Aprantus 11, 1018 and the acronym “MoNR” means the “moment of no return” which is the precise date and time by which the Eldritch Engine must be destroyed. Or else! And we know what that means! They also remind us not to do anything to our blood to negate our time-jumping. Asking for their advice on priorities – the Shadowfell or Elemental Chaos, they say it is our choice but suggest we follow Kalarel to the Shadowfell since we have fought him before at the Keep of the Shadowfell. We brief Groa and Morthwyl on that adventure and Morthwyl asks what do we know about the actual Shadowfell. We don’t know anything so Ungus wants to study what to do and how to prepare. He has heard that everything there is cold and icy and foggy and suggests we buy protective cold clothing. Morthwyl asks the Council if they have any allies there and we are disappointed when they tell us no. Groa asks about Kalarel’s powers. They tell us that just like Mother Gerd was given higher level powers by Vhennyk, so was Kalarel. He is now a Death Knight which means he will be a very profound challenge. Kharas the Just is concerned we may turn the challenge down if we are told too much. But we believe we need to know everything we can before we confront a powerful enemy. And I guess he doesn’t realize the awesomeness of The Blue Scarabs! Besides, Ungus and Groa know all about Death Knights. Ungus tells the Council that we need a long rest and to use the intervening week to gather more information. I hand out some of my Fey wine, asking everyone for a last minute toast to my birthday since it is almost over. Groa shows her new staff to the Council who tell her it is called a Staff of Unparalleled Vision and is worth about 21,000 gp. But Idara says we all have the stench of death upon us. Morthwyl asks if this is part of the Curse of Moil and they think it is. Thanking the Council for their help, we return to The Blue Grotto and prepare for our long rest. We wake up and it is:
Pelorday, Octantus 12, 1017 A.G.
After a hearty meal we inquire as to messages from the Council. Much to our dismay, Uncle Crogan informs us that most of the Council are missing – presumed kidnapped by mysterious creatures three nights ago. The only Council member left is the political leader Dwarf called Geld Seekingstone who now is being closely guarded round the clock. We take some time to go shopping for our cold weather gear and Ungus also does some enchantments. We also speculate that the Dragonborn may have something to do with the kidnappings and maybe we should advice the town council and Geld to consider evacuating.
Packed and ready to travel to The Keep on the Shadowfell, Ungus blesses us to boost our health once again. I have one last thought. While I was packing, I noticed the Sending Stone in my Haversack. I remind the group about it. We ask Analastra to bring the other one back with her. Who has it again? Anyway, Gabbe greets Groa as she used to greet Itzehl. She tells Groa she can send us to a small lake 2 miles from the Keep. With hugs all around to Itzehl who is staying behind for now, we enter the pool and The Sending begins.
Emerging from the lake, Kuiperia immediately wanders off. I say, “Uh, Kuiperia, this way”, but she ignores me. As we approach The Keep, we see clusters of Goblins, Hobgoblins and Ogres milling about. When they see us they run away. Curious! We enter the lowest level of the Keep and Ungus and I remark that it looks much the same as the last time we were here – blood running into a shaft with chains going down into it. We remember that the rift is in the pit below. We prepare to descend with Morthwyl in the lead and me guarding the rear. However, with an awesome moment of foresight, Ungus gestures at four creatures emerging from the darkness. Ungus immediately recognizes them as elemental spirits called Helmed Horrors. They have a cruel high intelligence, can animate phantom armor and channel energy thru their greatswords. Using a new power, Groa quickly attacks all four of them identifying their weakness is their reflexes. The power, called Shining Crown, sends out burning rays causing ongoing fire damage and dazing one of them. She lets out a loud sigh though as she realizes they can regenerate from fire damage. In addition, they keep changing from firey to icey to lightning creatures and they start flying! With all of us working together though, we kill all four of them.
The battle over, Ungus asks Groa where they came from. She doesn’t know but they both think it is weird that Elemental Chaos creatures are here in the Shadowfell. (But we aren’t technically in the Shadowfell yet!) Groa looks at their armor which has no value to us. After a short rest, we continue on our way. As planned, Morthwyl goes down the chain first, landing in a pool of blood. He sees a female Elf sitting on a bench, wearing shredded clothing, both of her arms having been torn out, blood still oozing out. Her eyeballs are a uniform pale grey. Behind her is a black membrane. She says “I don’t know who you are but I hear Peli and Ungus upstairs!” Badly shaken by seeing her, he calls to us then asks her name. She says “tell them Greenleaf is here”. Ungus climbs down, pitons the chain down and Groa and I descend. Noticing that she also has a collar on her neck, Ungus telepathically reminds us that those can only be placed voluntarily. But we remind him that “voluntarily” can be the end result of torture. Just look at her condition. Greenleaf stands up and tells us that she was pressed into Kalarel’s service as a concubine. She was tortured and agreed to the collar to save her soul. She knows that her life, such that it is, is basically over. But there is a chance her soul can be saved from the Devourer. She has been instructed to lead us to Kalarel where there is a slight chance we may defeat him. She assures us that she will not attack us nor lie to us. She tells us about the Towers of Mobil but she doesn’t know how to remove our curse. Groa once again prays to Melora who shows her a vision of the young and beautiful Greenleaf being gripped by the hand of Death, dragging her to the pit. So Groa realizes with one wrong move Greenleaf can be gone, her soul condemned to Acererak.
Greenleaf says if we are ready, we should follow her. So we pass thru the membrane into the plane of Shadowfell. Noticing the freezing cold air and sullen darkness enveloping us, we are now in a circular tower room whose floor is sloping steeply downward toward an archway with a dead black mist beyond. A partial domed ceiling frames the sky above. Greenleaf tells us our first test of three will be the Test of The Standing Spires. Morthwyl is the first to take up the challenge, pushing his way thru with brute force and Ungus directing him. . .