Why Is It Always Snakes?!

Thankfully the half of the party that was not with the brave fellows in the pyramid showed up to play this week, so they were in fact only a few hours behind the rest of the group for the entire journey. By the time they arrive to the pyramid that the first group had closed themselves in, the bullywugs had disappeared. They ascend the pyramid and Willow is able to quickly open the door in. The party is reunited, hooray!

The first room the party enters, after travelling some halls, is a large room with a basin. Sheera is able to read the writing near the basin, which states that a sacrifice of human blood is needed to turn on the lights. Without a second thought, Aurus slices open his hand and bleeds into the basin. Within moments, bright magic lights of many colors turn on throughout the facility (at least as far as the group can tell).

The next room of note they encounter, is filled with crystalline life size statues of all kinds of surface creatures. Upon closer inspection, the group realizes that the statues also have crystalline internal organs, and appear to be fully intact crystalline copies of creatures. Dorian recalls some vague historical texts talking about Illithid research labs doing something like this to surface creatures for study. Aeyo takes one statue of a small bird and puts in his backpack, the rest of the animals are left alone where they are.

Further along, the party comes into some barracks that appear hundreds of years out of disuse. Beds, chests.. nothing of note. They do find some old robes with draconic symbols on them, Dorian decides to put one on (hey.. you never know!). Through the barracks they find some lounges, kitchens, and holding cells. There are tapestries lining the halls, and Sheera is able to read one that talks about Zehir and Aathens (Snake Gods) and their human cultists.

A long tunnel from the holding cells takes the party to a coliseum. They find a strange mechanism in the coliseum, that Willow is able to trigger. It slides open the floor of the arena, and the party finds a massive figure of the ancient god-king, coming to life.

The party is briefly in a state of shock, as the God King begins to crawl out of the pit he had been slumbering in. Once he is on ground with the party, tells the party to kneel before him. Aeyo tries to talk with him, “King to King”, unsuccessfully.. his one attempt to strike the God-King was unsuccessful by a painfully large margin. Aurus distracts the creature with some beligerant speech, and grandstands with talk about Tempus. Rus, seeing how Aeyo’s attack was embarrassingly ineffective, immediately starts to run. The creature decides to accost Aurus, and crushes him to the ground with ease, and poisoning him at the same time. Dorian remembered he had donned the robe found earlier, and starts to talk to the God-King. “My lord, smiting one such as this will not strike fear into the hearts of others. Let him go so that he can tell tales of your might, and those of more power can come to you.” The creature appears to listen, and lets Aurus go. Aurus, Aeyo, and Willow start to run after Rus.

Dorian is feeling brave (or is it greedy or stupid or both, or all three?), and starts to talk to the creature again, “My lord, I could bring you hundreds, maybe thousands, of sacrifices, but I would need some token, some item of power from you, to help control their minds, and bring them here with greater speed and ease.” The creature stops and looks at Dorian and simply asks “What would you need?” Dorian takes a deep breath and says, “There are legends of a ring of great power, nothing in comparison to your might, but such a ring would aid one as weak as myself. With it, I could bring you sacrifices beyond count. Entire cities of Drow!”. The creature thinks for a moment, before diving back into the pit, only to come back up a minute later with the ring. He gives it to Dorian, and says “Here, go and bring me meat!”. Upon touching it, Dorian is able to instantly verify this is the ring of legend! He bows to the God-King, and leaves the room quickly.

Once around the corner, Dorian runs out of the temple as fast as he can. As he reaches the exit to the temple, he see’s the group is surrounded by 100 or so bullywugs at the base of the pyramid. A tedious combat ensues, and after the group has killed 25-30 of them, they all take off. The party rests, heals up, calls it a night.

The Gods only know what their next day will bring!

Bullywugs and Shenanigans

A month or so pass, the party receives word that the Temple of Amaunator has a large group en route to their keep. The profits are rolling in for the party (to the tune of 50,000 gold so far) for the lumber harvesting operations on the surface. Requests to the Dwarves for more engineers and stone craftsmen have been sent. Rus, Aurus, Dorian, and one of the Drow that swore oath decide to go check out one of the ruins and temples in the nearby swamps (Such things happen when half the party is missing the game!).

After a few days journey they arrive at their first temple, close to nightfall. The party finds some dry land, and set up camp on it. On the final watch of the night, Dorian notices some lights in the distance, so he wakes up Rus to hold watch, while he goes to investigate.

Dorian invokes a floating disc, and rides that to the source of the lights. What he sees, leaves him in slight awe. A black obsidian tablet covered in odd glowing runes, roughly 4’ tall stands, surrounded by a 30 ft radius energy field with bits of energy and electricity randomly crackling and skittering along it’s surface. Without knowing why, something comes over Dorian, and he touches the energy field. The runes on the tablet rearrange themselves, and reform into common language. On the tablet, it reads:

“Resting place of the great king SLARAYNTG. All trespassers are cursed to die. The Primordial’s will guard this place Forever. And the Snake King will Rise Again.”

Dorian has read many books in his life(times), and has a vague recollection about the name mentioned. He remembers that it is the name of a Yuan Ti God-King.. and a very wealthy one. There are legends of an item of great power in his treasure trove, a ring with the ability to control and manipulate the minds of others. It was a unique item, it’s exact name lost to legend.. at least to any not with an immortal’s memory. “Slarayntg’s Ring of Control” is the name, Dorian knows.

Excited at this find, Dorian returns to camp, where everyone has woken up by now. Not telling them of the ring, but telling them of the legends of significant wealth and treasure. The group continues on the pyramid (another half day’s journey). Just as they get to the pyramid, they are attacked by a group of bullywugs.

The battle is fairly fast, but almost cost Aurus his life, as he gets trapped in the swamp and almost drowns. Once he is saved from the trap, they ascend the pyramid. Taking their time, they inspect the entrance, making sure they do not trigger any booby-traps. They open the door and begin to block it open with pitons, when they see roughly 200 bullywugs standing at the base of the pyramid watching them. They decide to enter the pyramid and close the door behind them.

How A Lady says Farewell

Once in Waterdeep Maria introduces the group members with her to Bishop Silke, the high priestess in charge of the temple. She detailed the undead hunting activities of the Temple in the part of the Underdark that the group was located in. She orders arrangements made for the attack on Lady Winthrop.

Willow and Brother Johanthan go off to check out the city while supplies are gathered, and Dorian has a private audience with the Bishop. Dorian offers the Bishop a base of operations at their keep in the Underdark, with permanent residency/housing available to the temple, in exchange for sharing in defense of the keep if it comes under attack. He details the location, the nearby Drow city, etc.. Bishop Silke accepts the offer and says they will be sending a large force to help with construction soon, and the first group of Initiates of the Temple as well. Dorian also purchases a few rituals from the temple. She gives Dorian a Canteen of Endless Water (a symbol of Amaunator is engraved on the side of the canteen) as a token gift of their deal. Dorian also shares with Bishop Silke that Aurus has a strong desire to return to his humanity. The Bishop indicates there is a ritual that can do just that, but he could easily be permanently destroyed from the ritual.. or he may be returned to life but left a shallow remnant of he once was.

Once the arrangements are finalized, Bishop Silke loans Brother Johnathan a holy relic of the Church (a Golden mace, carved in Runes {Crusader Weapon +4} and glowing with radiant power), to be returned once Lady Winthrop is destroyed. Using another scroll, Maria teleports the group back to their keep.

Dorian and Maria brief the rest of the group on the plan, and Dorian explains to Aurus the risks of undoing his curse, and explains that once Lady Winthrop is dead, he could remain a vampire, but would remain independent of a vampire master. Aurus remains firm in his desire to return to his humanity.

The party sets out for Lady Winthrop’s estate, with the drow slaves, and Maria disguised as a slave. The trip to her estate was very quiet and uneventful. While traveling Aurus spends many hours in deep thought and prayer to Tempus, seeking a sign of favor or guidance.. should he keep this vampiric heritage.. something that would make him almost indestructible force of battle? Or should he renounce these gifts and return to his humanity, and accept the challenges of battle as such, honoring Tempus with his efforts? On the last night of their journey, Aurus has a vision of an Exarch of Tempus coming to him, and commanding him to kill Lady Winthrop and become human again.

Once they arrive, Winthrop’s underlings grant them admission, and they are escorted into her main study, where Lady Winthrop awaits. Sensing the mood, Lady Winthrop commands Aurus to kneel before her, and to the horror of the group, he finds himself compelled and goes to kneel before her.

Maria decides this is the time to strike and an epic battle breaks out. Lady Winthrop summons a few dozen vampire thralls and undead servants to fight. The battle is long and bloody. The party is quite surprised when a warrior of Tempus named Rus appears (he was passing near Winthrop’s estate and heard the battle, so he came to investigate) and begins to fight the vampires alongside the group.

Aurus is focused on Lady Winthrop, and the rest of the party is broken up in different fights. Willow and Aeyo are both closed to death at one time. Lady Winthrop coldly spits out in the fight that if Aurus falls, she will cut off his head. Aurus and Aeyo get Lady Winthrop down to the point she is obviously close to death, when Aurus falls to the ground unconscious. Knowing what her next action would be to take off Aurus’ head, and knowing that any delay in her destruction could cause the death of everyone in the party (everyone was battered and hurting at this point), Dorian channeled a bolt of radiant lightning, and killed her. The fight with her thralls ended a few minutes later, with total destruction of her minions.

The party healed up, and started to inventory her keep. An altar to Orkus was found, along with a collection of ancient scrolls that were used to piece together the ritual to restore Aurus to his humanity. The next morning, when the vampiric Aurus rose restored from his grave, the ritual was explained to him. Aurus firmly refused any thought of remaining a vampire.

Aurus laid down on the cold black obsidian altar, and with some trepidation, Dorian began the ritual to restore Aurus. In a fountain of ancient and primal magic, Aurus was restored, but at a cost. His vision and hearing were less acute than previously (-7 Perception), his appearance was ghoulish (white hair, white skin, black nails), he now suffers an aversion to daylight that he did not have previously as a mortal, and he was a bit less hardy than before in a fight (-3 to all rolls). On the plus side, when his face/skin can be seen, he is more frightening and intimidating (+2 Intimidate) to others.

The party ransacks the keep and makes arrangements to have the contents (furniture, mage globes {permanent magic lights}, books, everything that can be moved, taken back to their Keep. Dorian takes the Drow slaves they had brought for her aside, and makes them an offer.. “Our intention was never to feed you to her, only to get her to open the door for us under the guise of a gift of slaves. Join our cause, serve our mission loyally and never shame our banner.. Which will eventually, most likely, involve war with some of the Drow houses and other cities of the Underdark. Or you can die now, but die free, and die knowing you were not fed to an evil undead by us.” The Drow discuss it, and offer their allegiance with some glee, at the thought of being able to battle previous foes of other houses. Rus, the Warrior of Tempus has joined the party, and is returning to the keep with them. With things settled here, the party heads back to home. The trip back was very uneventful. Aurus was re-acclimating to being human.. enjoying the taste of food and drink again. The Drow slaves slowly warming up to Dorian (there are apparently some small legends about a Deva that is reborn to come back with the sole purpose of slaying Drow, and they have decided Dorian is that Deva). Brother Johnathan is studying some of the rituals from Dorian’s ritual book.

Upon return to the keep, the goblin shaman seeks audience with the party, to update them on what has happened in their absence. Maria thanked the party for their assistance with Lady Winthrop, told Dorian she would see them again soon, and used a scroll to teleport back to Waterdeep to report to the Bishop, and help start preparations to move people to the keep for their ‘embassy’. Perhaps most importantly, the party’s tunnel to the surface was completed by the Dwarf using the Golden Spade. Fortifications had been started on the surface, and in the underdark where the tunnel opened up. Lumber harvesting had also begun. (At this point Willow decides to go to the surface and check things out)

While on the surface some scouting had been done, and a few days journey from the surface exit, some swampy jungle was found that had several partially submerged ruins and ancient pyramids. They were also infested with some frog-like men. As proof, he had the bodies of a few of the frog men dragged out. Aeyo was able to identify these as a race known as “Bullywug”. While on the surface, Willow starts talking to the men working up top, and they share their severe disgruntlement. They have been put to work, without wages. They were originally sailors on the ill-fated journey that brought our group to this island. Willow brings one of them (Menks is his name) down to the keep to discuss the situation.

Willow brings Menks in to meet with Aeyo and Dorian to discuss the needs of the men, and how they can best resolve them. Aeyo and Dorian share Willow’s upset when they realize that these people had not been paid yet, and were basically being treated like slave labor. Immediate orders went out for fortified housing, with a walled structure (fort) to have construction begun up top. This will provide for a safe place for the surface crews to sleep at night, and further provide some measure of safety to keep invaders from the tunnels. Additionally they are being granted generous wages, with stipends equal to their wages to be sent to their family so long as they choose to remain working for the group. Menks is pleased and says he is confident the men will agree to this. Dorian mentions to Aeyo that the party should arrange for some kind of musicians to be on the payroll to help take people’s minds off the hard labor, and offer some merriment to their residents.

Meanwhile the Goblin Shaman hears of Menks’ conversation and decides to make some demands for the goblins.. they are unhappy and feeling stressed. Rus suggests making drums from the bones and skins of the Bullywug corpses. The Shaman is ecstatic at this, and quickly agree’s, running out to tell the goblins of their good fortune.

Ave Maria

After a few days of resting up from their battle in the arena, and basking in their newfound fame and fortune in the city as powerful gladiators, things start to get interesting again.

Dorian is in the common room of their Inn, when a courier arrives with a message in Dwarven. Aurus is the only person in the party who is fluent in Dwarven, and he was out prowling the brothels with Aeyo, and Dorian had no idea when they would return. The courier said it was a message of highest priority, so Dorian paid the Innkeeper to translate the message. It was a summons from their keep, advising they were under attack from the hobgoblins, and the situation was grim. They were full surrounded and had no viable way to escape. They had supplies to last roughly a week.

Dorian summoned the group and advised them of the news. They had to buy the slaves for Lady Winthrop, and supplies for the keep, and they needed to start back immediately. Aeyo and Aurus returned about this time, and they were also apprised of the status of the keep. Because it was now late evening, it was too late to start out (granted it is always dark, in the Underdark, but the party was tired and needed to rest).

The next morning, the Innkeeper comes to Dorian and makes an offer to help expedite transport for the party, by way of some huge giant bats. The party could fly back on those, and have enough weight available to carry basic supplies for the goblins and the keep. The price is agreed, and Aeyo, Aurus, and Brother Johnathan go out to the market and buy the needed supplies. Dorian, Willow, and Paela go to the slave markets and purchase 6 drow slaves (2 rogues, 2 fighters, a wizard, and a cleric).

The group meets back at the Inn, and sets off for home, riding giant bats, laden with supplies, slaves, and the party. The trip is fairly uneventful until the last night before returning to the Keep. Aurus hears something while the others are making camp so he goes to investigate.. He doesn’t see anything, but definitely feels watched, and returns to camp. Dorian overhears the Drow slaves talking, and goes up to them, asking them to repeat what they were saying. They mention that the group has been followed for a few days now, and someone is not far away, watching the party.

Dorian relays this to the party, who then split up to go in search of their ‘guest’. Willow, Sheera, Paela, Aurus, and Brother Johnathan go one way, and Aeyo and Dorian circle around. Willow and company fall into a trapped pit (Aurus avoids it, by turning into mist), and are hurt when they land on sharpened stakes. Aurus is almost immediately attacked by an unseen foe, hurling throwing stars from the shadows that were hurting him, as they were exploding with radiant damage when they hit him! While he tries to locate his foe, Willow and the others are able to get out of the pit. Aeyo and Dorian continue circling around, unaware of what has befallen their friends. They find, and evade a few trip wires, and final circle back around just as the assailant is spotted behind the party, somehow managing to evade detection.

Dorian is able to throw up a wall of light, making the assailant easier to detect, and invokes divine chains to slow down their ninja attacker. Aeyo attacks directly, discovering the attacker is a woman. At the same time, the rest of the party is attacked by a huge skeletal bat (not quite undead, it appears to be a construct). It is a long hard fight, but just as the party is about to take down the skeletal bat and the ninja, the ninja whistles for the bat, which swoops over and grabs the ninja, so they can both escape into the dark.

While the party catches their breath, Dorian inspects the scene from the fight, and notices that all the throwing stars left by their ninja attacker, carry the mark of his church – the Temple of Amaunator. This assassin belongs to a special group called “Ordo Malleus” – the Order of Undead Hunters of Amaunator. Dorian shares with the group that this Order is known for being relentless, and could easily destroy the entire group if the Order thinks they are in service to Aurus. He also shares an unwillingness to personally act against this assassin, as he would be acting against his own church. Dorian shares a desire to try and communicate with this assassin, if and when she resurfaces.

The rest of the evening passes quietly, and the next day the party makes the final leg of their journey back to their keep. Upon landing, Aeyo receives a briefing from the goblin shaman who explains the tactical layout of the invading force.

Aeyo and Dorian take Aurus aside, and explain the situation. Dorian tells Aurus that his vampiric ‘gifts’ could make or break the tide of battle.. if not completely remove the need for battle entirely. Aeyo re-emphasizes all of Dorian’s points and adds that unless the Aurus is able to break this army, hundreds, if not ALL of the goblins, will die. Aurus appears unwilling, but understands that hundreds could die in the coming hours, unless he takes action now. Dorian and Aeyo return to the keep, and leave Aurus to do whatever he will do.

Aurus sneaks up on a small group of Hobgoblins, and as he unleashes his first attack, he is overcome with a blind and all consuming bloodlust. He loses himself in the moment. When he is next aware of himself, he is entering the keep, covered in blood, gore, and filth.. His memory snaps back for a moment, as he comes to realize that he just single-handedly slew roughly ¼ of the attacking hobgoblin force, in a few hours. And for the first time since he was made into a vampire, he has no blood thirst.. he in fact feels.. satiated.

Aeyo and Dorian were in conference with the goblin Shaman when Aurus came in and said it was done. Dorian asked him “Did you do what you were supposed to?”, and Aurus just gave him a cold look, and went off to his room without saying a word.

The next morning the hobgoblin king sent out someone to bring the party to meet with him. The party goes to meet with the king, who brazenly demands a ransom to take his army and leave. Aurus, who is still covered in dried blood and gore from the previous night, leaps on the king, throwing him to the ground, and growls in his ear that if he does not take his army and leave right now, he would slaughter the rest of his army, and his people, and he would start with the king then and there. The king graciously acquiesced.

While our heroes were making their way back to the keep, Brother Johnathan noticed they were being followed. Stepping out of the shadows was the Ninja who had attacked them previously. A brief exchange followed, in which the Ninja, (who’s name is Maria), stated she had started observing the group more closely after seeing an Invoker of her church in the company of the vampire. She came to realize the plight Aurus was in (that was he was not a willing undead), and offered to help the group destroy Lady Winthrop. The group happily and quickly accepted the offer. Maria needed to return to Waterdeep for some supplies, but had a teleportation scroll with her. Dorian, Willow, and Brother Johnathan go with Maria to Waterdeep.

Mortal Kombat!

Our heroes bravely set off for Mesodrak’socar. They have a fairly uneventful trip for the first few days. On the third night, they have set up camp, and Aeyo and Aurus are on first watch, when Aurus inexplicably turns to mist and disappears. Aeyo gets immediately concerned and wakes up Dorian, and then the rest of the party.

Meanwhile, Aurus is being compelled by a beautiful female, and he follows her (while he is in mist form) to an ancient stone made dwarven keep. The rusted door opens as Aurus and this female approach. As soon as he enters the keep, the female disappears, and Aurus is approached by some humans in black leather. One of the humans presents himself as the leader, and in the course of conversation shares that this group of humans is seeking a vampire to make them immortal, as they are human followers of Orkus. Aurus is appalled at these depraved filthy humands, and refuses. He turns back to mist, and finds his way back to the group.

Once back with the party, Aurus shares that he was compelled to follow this woman spirit, and shares his conversation with these Orkus followers. The party is very alarmed that their vampire friend was so easily compelled, but ackwnoledge it could have been anyone who was compelled in such a manner.

Just as the group was about to resume their camp/sleep for the night, they hear a female ghostly cackling laugh. Unable to determine where, in the cavern they were camping in, it was coming from, they set up with their backs to each other. They are attacked by a Mad Wraith, which they are able to quickly take down (silly undead.. attacking a group with a Priest, Paladin, Invoker, and a Sword Mage.. so much for “intelligent undead”!).

The group packs up camp at ‘morning’, and finishes the final leg of their journey to Mesodrak’socar. They arrive at the guard-post at the bridge before the city (the ultimate security.. a massively wide and deep chasm must be crossed to get to the city). Dorian is the only member of the party who is fluent in Deepspeech, so he is the spokesman for the party. Since he is also the only person with any knowledge of Drow society, that is useful. DOrian and Aeyo are wearing the very affluent drow-made noble clothing they found at the Goblin keep, so Dorian has Aeyo approach the guards with him.

With some subtle palm greasing, Dorian gets the party a Merchant Writ, and secures the name of a reputable Inn (the Golden Grell), and the owner, a woman named Shel. Dorian is also able to learn the time and location for the slave auctions.

Once the party crosses the bridge, and enter an area filled with vendors and street hawkers. Finally the party comes to the actual city walls. Dorian displays the merchant writ, and bribes the guard with a generous offering of gold, to facilitate an immediate entry into the city, and verifies his directions to the Golden Grel. They enter the gates as the guards start bickering over the bribe Dorian gave the guard he was speaking to. As the party enters the city, Dorian warns the party to say or do NOTHING that imply, or harm, a spider, Lloth.. to just walk with their heads down and to be quiet, and Aurus is in mist form, just to avoid the kind of trouble that can often come when a Vampire visits a city that would happily enslave or harvest him for wizard components!

Our fearless heroes arrive at the Golden Grel, and Dorian negotiates private rooms at a substantial discount with Shel, as well as a private dining room for the party. Once the party is settled in, and wine/meal is ordered, Dorian goes back to Shel and speaks to her privately about special accommodations for Aurus. The consummate professional that she is, Shel does not blink an eye, and arranges for a coffin full of dirt to be taken to a room for Aurus.

After the party has their meal, Dorian once again goes to Shel and asks for a well regarded tailor/seamstress. The plan is, to take Sheera and get her attired in such a way that she can be the “Lady” of the party, with the males serving as her slaves, and Paela and Willow passing as her Captain and Handmaiden.

Shel offers an escort with her majordomo, taking Dorian and Sheera to the tailor. They quickly arrange for suitable attire, and after short negotiations, agree on a price. Dorian returns Sheera back to the Inn, and takes Paela and Willow out for attire as well. In addition to the purchase of clothing for both ladies, they also stop at a shop that specializes in leather armor that Willow could use and appreciate. She finds a very suitable and nice piece of black leather armor that will significantly enhance her career skills.

While Dorian is out with Paela and Willow, Brother Johnathan, Aeyo, and Sheera are enjoying some wine and conversation in the common room (there is an overheard conversation about some teleportation circles). Aurus is in his coffin resting, when he realizes he is.. BORED. BORED BORED BORED. He turns into mist, and goes sightseeing. While he is out and about, he comes across an armorer with an exquisite piece of glowing magic armor. Aurus quickly returns to the Inn, and announces to BJ, Aeyo, and Sheera what he has found. BJ agree’s to go to the armorer and finds out that the piece of armor Aurus saw, is selling for 22,000 gp. A bit pricey!

BJ returns to the Inn, and shares the cost of the armor with the group (Dorian, Paela, and Willow have returned by now), and while Aurus is exclaiming his disappointment about their lack of funds for such a purchase, an elegantly attired man approaches Aurus and introduces himself as Mr. Torsten.

Mr. Torsten is a spectator of the arena in Mesodrak’socar, as well as a regular participant in the betting. He offers to take Aurus to meet with Bruno, the pit manager for the fights, for a share of any profits. Aurus excitedly agree’s to meet with Bruno, and sets out immediately.

The party follows, and stay with Aurus while Mr. Torsten negotiates a fee with Bruno for Aurus (Dorian decided since he was not asked to help, he would not inject himself in the process, and decided as a kindness, not to tell Aurus how little he was fighting for… all of this conversation was in Deepspeech).

AUrus soon finds himself in the Arena, and is matched up against 4 were-rats. Unfortunatel Aurus was not as well rested as he thought he was, and these were-rats were starved and half mad with aggression, and the fight did not bode well for Aurus.

Feeling the need to offer some vindication, and seeing the opportunity to make some cash, the group quickly agree’s that the males would fight again the next day as a group (Aurus would need to ‘sleep off’ his death, but would be fine the next day). Dorian negotiates the fee with Bruno, and is able to get 170% of the initial offering as the final sum.

The next day, Aurus rises back to his state of undeath, and the party returns to the Arena for their fight. The ladies in the party sit in the stands, and the men enter the pit. They battle a Displacer beast. Each of the men does an incredible job in battle, Aurus hacking away with his sword, BJ blasting it with diving magic, Aeyo eviscerating it, and Dorian disabling it with magic and delivering the final blow as he (to the shock of the crowd and his friends) turns into a black panther and savagely rends the Displacer with a killing blow. The battle is fierce and brutal, but ultimately our heroes claim victory as heroes and showman, and are granted their winnings (17,000 gp).

Bruno anxiously offers the group the opportunity to fight another match the next day for an even greater prize. Dorian lets him know the group will discuss it, and let Bruno know the next day.

Next up.. the slave markets and stocking up for their new army back ‘home’ with the Goblins! Or.. more arena?

Aeyo.. The Destroyer?

Our fearless party finally takes leave of Lady Winthrop, with a crude map to help them navigate their way through the underdark to the Drow city of Mesodrak’socar, and replenished supplies (rations, water, and lantern oil).

Once they cross the lake, and are out of obvious earshot/sight of her keep, the debate begins on the future of Aurus. Aurus begs for his life and swears that he would never attack or harm the party, and that his most fervent wish is to return to his humanity, and undo this heinous dark gift (though his occassionaly exclamations of “Oh yeah, BEST SEX EVER!” make more than a few in the group question his sincerity).

After much discussion, the group decides to let Aurus live (a few have serious concern and hesitation, but he is their friend, and confident the group can destroy him if necessary, and he is not able to make new vampires, which was a concern).

After several days of uneventful travel, the party comes to a massive large underground cavern with a large keep, surrounded by a few hundred stone huts. The Keep is large, made of stone, solidly constructed, and has a massive three story tower. And it is full of goblins.

The party decides to send Aurus in to scout, since he is the most powerful, and with his mist-form, the sneakiest. Aurus makes his way through the keep, and takes inventory of what he see’s, as well as counting numbers of troops and armaments. On the second story of the tower Aurus finds what is believed to be the goblin “nobles”. On the third floor, is a powerful looking human, older male, with obviously magic gear (his chain mail glows a powerful, but sickly, green). Also of note, are a few human slaves being kept.

Aurus quickly returns to the party, where they decide to attack (Goblins, it can’t be a good thing, especially coupled with slaves). Aurus will sneak back into the top floor of the tower, and unlock one of the shuttered windows, where Dorian will shuttle the group up, on a summoned magic disc.

Aurus goes back into the tower, unlocks the window, and hesitates in killing the human male (the slaves are in bed with him, they are all asleep), when he hears a female voice hissing his mind “KILL HIM.. KILL HIM”. (Seriously.. emo vampire much?). The rest of the party is in the room and starting to take inventory of their surroundings when the old man wakes up.

It turns out he is the king of these goblins, and the master of the slaves. He is not a very nice person, so the group kills him (what kind of host doesn’t even offer apertifs?). Aeyo has just taken the golden circlet the man was wearing, and put it on, to which the slave girls immediately start licking his hands and kissing his feet. A Goblin Shaman then enters the room, see’s the carnage, the dead king, looks at Aeyo with the circlet and exlcaims “WE HAVE A NEW KING!” (it turns out the Circlet was a magic item that bestows unquestioned loyalty and obedience from this tribe of goblins to the wearer.. It also bonds with the wearer, so no one else can ‘use’ it so long as that ruler lives).

Aeyo is introduced to his new ‘people’ as Aeyo the Destroyer. He is given a quick briefing on the status of his new people, and their conflicts. It is mentioned that there is a dwarf held prisoner in the dungeon. Aeyo, Dorian, and Brother Johnathan visit the Dwarf. The dwarf’s name is Stonefist, and he is quickly healed. It is explained that Stonefist was tortured by the goblins at the behest of the old king, and he is brought up to the keep as an honored guest of the party (and the king).

Meanwhile Willow, our trusty rogue, has picked the lock on a chest in the king’s room, and found some lovely and useful magic items the party can be used, alnog with a key carved from solid bone, that opens the king’s treasury.

The party visits the treasury and finds some very useful magic items, and piles of gold, copper, silver, some valuable gems and a few sets of very well made noble attire (Drow craftsmanship). Dorian and Aeyo lay claim to the attire (A King and his First ADvisor must look the part). There are also hundreds of practical items (weaponry, backpacks full of gear, shields, armor, etc) for the army to use. Which is handy since plans for war with a neighboring tribe of Hobgoblins are already on the table.

Aeyo and Dorian make a deal with Stonefist (the Dwarf) to build a tunnel back up to the surface that can be used by wagons, to open trade routes to the surface world, and establish this little kingdom as a new and rising power. To help in this effort, the use of the newly found “Golden Spade” magic item is offered to Stonefist to speed these efforts along. In exchange for his work, he is offered 5% lifetime share of the value of all items sold, that travel through that tunnel, with that share passing to any blood heir he may designate. Stonefist accepts this offer, but does ask the group escort him back to his people as soon as possible, which the parties agree’s to. When this happens, the party is going to try and recruit some dwarves to come back with them to re-build the keep.

Plans are made to set out for Mesodrak’socar immediately, to buy supplies for the keep, and for this war with the Hobgoblins.. after all.. freedom never waits, and there are always evil tribes waiting to be led to the light! ;)

Once Bitten Twice Shy

After resting from the taxing battle with “The Chewer” our party decides to forego hunting the troll, and continue on their way to the lizard tribe. After many hours, they come upon fork in the way, and the party decides to split up – Brother John, Willow, and Paela staying in a camp near the fork, and the rest of the party moving forward.

Our party soon comes across a small area with 3 tough looking lizardmen, who have a human strung up over a fire, where they are about to kill and cook him. The party quickly kills the lizards, and save the man – another human warrior, who’s name is Spike. Spike joins the party.

After many hours of travel, Fing, our mindless scout, went running up ahead, leaving the party behind. While chasing Fing down, the party comes upon a large cavern with a soft glowing moss carpeting the entire cavern. A voice whispers to them from the cavern, and the party asks if it has seen Fing. Fing’s corpse is thrown out of the shadows, and lands at their feet. The party quickly circles together, as they start getting attacked by a Spectre.

Shera is able to hit the spectre with a fire attack, knocking it out of invisibility, and the group is able to quickly kill it. They don’t find much in the cavern with the spectre, other than a few more skins of oil for their lantern. Aeyo is able to determine the glowing moss, while tasting terrible, is edible, and the water is fresh and clean, so the party restocks their supplies here. Thankfully, Aurus checks Fing, and realizes he has a very faint pulse. Since Brother John and Paela are both at camp, Aurus uses the parties healing potion to revive Fing (since the party has NO idea how to navigate the tunnels, and would surely die without a guide).

Fing leads the party to a massive underground lake, in a cavern that is so big they can not see the top or sides. There is a trail along the ‘beach’, that they follow. They soon come across a small island with a large stone keep and a battered banner atop the roof. Aeyo and Dorian convince the group to check it out. Dorian summons a floating disc, and ferry’s the party across the lake to the keep.

The keep is well made, very solid, and apparently abandoned from the outside. The party opens the portcullis, and enters the first antechamber. They are met, by a well dressed woman, reading a book in a chamber that is brightly light with magic everburning torches. After some smalltalk, the woman offers guestright, and the party agree’s to stay for the evening. they move to the dining room, where they are served an incredible feast. Aeyo notices that the serving staff have canine teeth. Aurus flirts with the lady, who the party now knows as Lady Winthrop, and it is learned that Aurus and Winthrop are both blooded, so they meet privately after dinner for some drinks.

Aurus finds Lady Winthrop quite ‘charming’, and he quickly succumbs to her power. He wakes up in a torture chamber, stripped naked, where he is whipped, slapped, and molested. Naturally he thinks this is the best sex to be had in life (did I mention he was groggy and dopey from the wine?). He passes out as a “W” is branded on his ass, as Lady Winthrop marks him as her property. The fade scene is Aurus being healed of his wounds while he is unconscious, and being re-dressed in his clothing.

Meanwhile, Dorian, Shera, Aeyo and Spike meet in Dorian’s room to discuss their shared sneaking suspicious and concerns. Aeyo shares his observation of canine teeth amongst the serving staff. Dorian invokes his Deva powers and asks the divine a few questions. He is able to quickly learn that Lady Winthrop is a threat to the party, there are undead in the residence, and there is great wealth to be found there as well.

Armed with this information, the party armor up, and go in search of Aurus, who they last saw leaving in the company of Lady Winthrop. They come down to the antechamber near the front door, and once again find Lady Winthrop reading a book. She eyes them without any show of fear, and asks why they are armed so late in the evening. The party is quickly able to verify her true identity as a very powerful elder vampire. The party demands to know where Aurus is, and Lady Winthrop summons her servants, who bring a still passed out Aurus, and leave him on a couch. From all outward appearances, Aurus appears to be passed out from too much drinking (the buffoon).

Lady Winthrop challenges the group and asks to know which Drow Matron sent the party to attack her. Dorian, offers his oath as a Deva, on his immortal soul, that the party genuinely stumbled upon her abode while purusing another task, and no one sent them. This seemed to take some edge off of Lady Winthrop, who then offered the party a deal. She needed supplies from a drow trading hub, but due to her enemeies there, she was unable to go herself. If the party goes for her, they will be given a handsome reward of gold and magic items. As a good will offering Lady Winthrop gives the party 2000 gold and gives Shera magic armor.

Dorian explains to Lady Winthrop that before they can go about her task, they must first finish another. Dorian shows her the statue and says they must destroy it in a volcano, ebfore they can do anything else. She eyes the statue hungrily and offers to buy it, but Dorian remains firm that it must be destroyed. She offers to help them conclude that mission, if they will start her supply sun immediately after. The party agree’s.

That evening, Lady Winthrop escorts Dorian and Aurus to the surface, where she leads them through the jungle to a swampy lake area. An elder black dragon breaks through the surface of the lake, and speaks with her. The dragon is introduced as Gogotha, and he agree’s to help Lady Winthrop by taking Dorian and Aurus to the volcano.

A few hours of flight and the Dragon has them over the Volcano where Dorian hurls the statue into the fiery pit, where they see it explode and melt. Upon return, they meet Lady Winthrop who has obviously fed in the few hours they were away, and she returns them to her home. Since it is evening they decide to rest there for the night. Dorian is given access to Lady Winthrop’s personal library where he finds a book that teaches him an incredible amount about the drow (permanent +2 to all Drow related rolls).

Aurus, unable to contain his insecure peen, starts to flirt with Lady Winthrop again (he has no memory of his treatment in her hands the night before). Unfortunately she finds him somewhat interesting, and after flailing him thoroughly with her undead lady parts, she drains him of blood, and performs the ritual to make him into a Vampire Lord.

Come morning time, Dorian is escorted to her private study where she explains in detail what she has done to Aurus. While this is going on, AUrus makes his way back to his room, and finds she has gift wrapped a shovel for him as a gift (so he can dig his grave each night).

Dorian steels himself, knowing he must tell his friends what has become of Aurus, and decide Aurus’ fate. If Aurus will be put to peace, or find a way to undo this heinous curse, will depend solely on the party, and Aurus himself (and if Aurus is able to convince the group that he is worth the risk to have around, or if he has any genuine effort to return to a state of living and serving his god Tempus).


The Chewer

Our band of heroes begin making their way into the network of caves in the upper levels of the Underdark, led by the lizardman scout Fing. The journey is boring, and dark, and eventually they come across an underground river.

On the river, not far from them, they see a small light, moving in their direction. The light moves into view, and it is a lantern on a small boat, with a cloaked figure wearing a deep hood. They speak with this figure for a bit, and they mention they are on their way to a neighboring tribe of lizardmen, and the emissary suggests a shortcut, but warns the group this shortcut could be dangerous. The group makes some more short small talk with this figure, and quickly learn it is an emissary from the Wizard Chalene, on the surface, on it’s way to meet with the Lich Drackan. As the parties hair starts to settle down after so abruptly standing up on end, they thank the Emissary for his time, and watch him go down the river. Once his lantern is out of sight, they discuss the suggested shortcut, and decide to take it.

The shortcut proved to be quite interesting, as they soon found a room with 2 wights and many animated skeletons. They quickly put the restless undead to peace, claim the modest treasure found there, and continued on their way.

Further down the tunnel, (after a nights of much needed beauty sleep), the party finds the remains of some recently killed kobolds, and an oil lantern still burning, and several pints of oil in skins, among the remains of the kobolds. The party follows the trail into a cavern, where they find a large smelly troll. The party quickly made introductions to the troll and their steel. While in the middle of extending some ‘forced sleep therapy’ on the troll, a large raiding party of kobolds comes upon the fray from a side tunnel (apparently coming to see what killed their friends). Seeing the adventurers, and the troll, the kobolds illustrate their place on the food chain by attacking the party, instead of the monster that has bits of their friends stuck between it’s teeth.

After a long and bloody fight (that almost did in a few of our fearless adventurers), they manage to kill the kobolds. The Troll played a wicked game of ‘possum’, and surprised the party by jumping up and attacking again, after they thought it was dead. Once it was back on it’s feet, it landed a few more hits, before it grabbed one of the dead kobolds and went tearing off down the tunnel. Being the party is worn out, utterly exhausted, and in dire need of a laundry service, they decide to call camp in the cavern.

After an uneventful rest period, our heroes decide to pursue the troll, the logic being it is a known threat, and better to kill it now, than have it follow them and cause trouble at an inconvenient time in the near future. Aeyo is able to track the troll, and they follow the trail for several hours, before coming into another large cavern. Fing, the scout, starts to whimper and cowers in a corner mumbling about “the chewer”, and the party assumes they have finally found the lair of the troll. They spread out, and begin to make their way into the back of the cavern, when they discover that “the chewer” is in fact, a basilisk!

After a long and brutal battle (most of the party whined like girls, but our mighty and powerful invoker convinced the group that they could take this overgrown lizard), our heroes are victorious! In the remains of “the chewer”’s past meals, the party finds a nice pile of gold, some enchanted Eladdrin Armor, and a glowing +3 shortsword (that was given to Willow to use).

Dinner is Served

Aeyo is able to pick up a trail left behind by the apparent raiders, who appear to have taken Paela the Paladin from the village that they otherwise killed en masse. THe party follows their trail a few days, before coming into a field with some old volcanic rock, some scorch marks on the soil (apparently from lightning), and their Paladin and two other unknown women, staked out in the field.

Aurus and the wizard fall behind, to check something out, while Aeyo, Brother Johnathon, and Dorian make their way to the women. Something catches Aurus attention, and the Wizard is grabbed from behind by a giant snake. It takes a moment or two for the party to realize what has happened. Aurus, Aeyo, and Brother Johnathon go to save the Wizard who is flailing at the snake with a mage hand wielding a crowbar (they don’t make wizards like they used to!), and Dorian sets about freeing the women as fast as possible.

The rest of the party is able to kill the snake about the same time that Dorian has freed and revived the women. Introductions are made and the swordmage Shera and the rogue Willow are welcomed to the party. The snake is butchered for food, and camp is made for the night.

The next morning, the party continues on to the village with the assailants that staked the women out in the field. Aeyo, Willow, and Dorian go, only to find the entire village dead. Cows and chickens are alive, only the humans are dead. Aeyo returns to the group while Willow and Dorian search the village. Dorian finds several yuan ti corpses, which is very remarkable, considering the Yuan Ti are thought to have been extinct on this island for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. One of the yuan ti had a crude drawin in it’s belt pouch of the golden statue the party is now carrying. The party butchers the remaining livestock to eat and smoke for rations, which takes them 3-4 days.

The party can see a volcano in the distant horizon, so make their way towards that (oh yeah, Stormcloud also told them that the statue had to be thrown into the volcano to destroy it and it’s evil). While travelling through the forest, Aeyo (while scouting) finds a stone cottage, he returns to the group, and Willow, Aeyo, and Dorian advance to the cottage to check it out.

In the cabin they find the missing Captain Terrel Dax, and the missing crewmen, apparently live and well! They offer hospitality to the party and offer to share the stew bubbling away on the stove. Halfway through the meal (that only a few decided to share in) a woman’s screaming came from nearby, all of the party ran off other than Paela and Dorian who remained in the cabin, and the wizard who was skulking about outside the cabin using ghost sounds to mock the screaming woman (really.. one can’t help but wonder if this wizard is good for anything other than bait for a trap!).

The party rushes headlong into quicksand, and immediately start sinking. The woman who had been screaming comes to gloat, and quickly shows her form as a hag. Being the quick thinking man of action that he is, Aurus quickly started trying to hit on the hag. Apparently what he proposed offended even her indelicate sensibilities, because she wacked him in the face with her staff before telporting out. It took some time, but the party was able to get themselves out of the quicksand. Luckily the Rogue had not fallen in, and she was able to use rope to pull them out.

Back at the cabin, Paela and Dorian quickly realize that the meal they had been sharing with the captain was drugged (and made from human flesh, victims from the nearby village). They were shackled, and soon after, the hag teleported into the cabin. The hag is threatened by dorian with the wrath of his party upon their return. The hag teleports to the Wizard outside, looks at him and laughs, and teleports back to Dorian and Paela. Realizing the direness, and futility, of their situation, Dorian and Paela negotiate with the hag, and arrange a deal to buy their freedom, along with a copy of a book on her shelf that would help them read/translate the yuan ti languagem, for 1000 gold from the parties wealth.

She agrees to this and releases them. They go find the party at the quicksand, followed by the Captain and his crew, (who the hag had charmed, but apparently were now released from the magic). Dorian explains the situation and the party agrees to giving up the gold for the hag. Dorian places the gold at the appointed spot outside her cabin, the gold disappears and the book of the yuan ti language appears. Dorian quickly realizes the book is not the one he bargained for. The party stays the night in her cabin (as macabre as it is, the hag could easily kill them, so they might as well be comfortable with a nice fire, instead of cold and wet outside.

The party comes upon a large lake, and while moving along it’s shore, are approached by a few lizard men. Thankfully, Shera can speak Draconian, and was able to intrepret for the party. The lizardmen asked the party to come with them, as their king had a quest that needed doing. Being as the party was in their land, and not prepared to defeat an entire tribe, they graciously accepted the request, and soon found themselves before the king of this tribe.

The King had a task, most important.. he wishes to conquer a neighboring tribe, which requires the death of that tribe’s king. In exchange for their cooperation, the party will get an escort to the volcano so they can destroy the statue, and a restock of supplies, and they can take free reign of the wealth and treasure of the other tribes king. All the party must do, is return with his head, as proof.

The next morning, the party sets out on yet another leg of their grand adventure…


to be continued!

Into the Dark

We next find our brave party on their way to the Ziggeraut. They are stopped by a few scouts from a local tribe, and asked to follow them to the village. The Paladin. Captain and the 2 surviving crewmen have apparently been taken by the tribe as a negotiation tactic.

Once at the village, the party meets the tribal shaman by the name of Stormcloud. He asks the party to retreive a golden statue from the ziggeraut. A wizard that had been held by the tribe is sent along with the party as well. If the party returns with the statue they can have the Paladin, captain, and crew back alive and unhurt. Each party member is allowed to take 1 misc item from the village supplies, and are escorted to the Ziggeraut by a few scouts.

Once the scouts depart, the party braves entry. The solid stone door is forced open, and Dorian, being the wise and experienced soul that he is, suggested that they use some pitons to jam the door open, in case they need to make a hasty retreat. The party see’s the wisdom of this, and secures the door.

Almost immediately inside the ziggeraut, they encounter a carrion crawler. A disgusting battle ensues, with the group victorious. Down the hallway past the dead carrion crawler, they find 2 doorways. One has a large statue of some ancient yuan ti, with a lot of inscriptions on the walls that no one can read. The next room has 4 orbs on the floor, and a disc that can be rotated at the end of the room. The party spends some time in here, as it is realized that rotating the disc around changes the lights in the orbs. Once the group realizes that they can not hear or sense anything changing in the ziggeraut, by rotating the disc (and changing the colors of the lights in the orbs), they decide to continue exploring.

They find the carrion crawler’s nest around the next corner, and quickly check through it, as one never knows what discarded (or digested!) treasures are found in a dungeon. Nothing is found, and the party continues exploring.

The next corner turned, takes the party into a large room that has an eerie green glow, a large pedestal with a golden statue on it, and oddly enough.. a dozen or so beautiful women. Or so Aurus thinks, being the first person to enter the room. There is untold wealth amassed around the pedestal as well.

The beautiful women quickly show their true identity as they melt into light consuming shadows. Dorian rebukes them, and pushes most of them back, as Brother Johnathon turns more of them. Mayhem erupts as the party tries to destroy them, only to realize that black beams are shooting out of the statue into the ‘women’, and restoring all damage done to them by the party!

Aeyo quickly grabs the statue and makes a run for it, as the wizard has realized that if the statue is moved out of the ziggeraut, it could stop healing the ‘women’. The party starts making a run for the front door, some more successful than others. Poor Aurus was nearly done in twice in his efforts to get outside, before Brother Johnathon and Aeyo helped get him out. Dorian had the presence of mind (or greed?) to quickly fill a backpack full of gold, before he starts to run out. Dorian is nearly killed on his way out, but is saved by the Cleric.

The party barely makes it out the door as the temple entrance sinks beneath the mud and muck of the swamp, leaving only the top of its stonework roof above ground. After they rest and heal up a little, the party returns to the village, only to find everyone dead, and no sign of their paladin, captain, or crewmen! The sole survivor is Stormcloud the Shaman. He is severely hurt, and tells the party that the statue must be destroyed immediately, and it can ONLY be destroyed in the fires of a volcano a few weeks away, and then the death rattle sounds in his chest, as he dies.

To be continued..


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