The Dark

Session 21: The Proving Grounds
...You Lose Some

12 April, 103 CY (Continued)

The dispirited adventurers made their way back through the tunnels of the Labyrinth to the Seven-Pillared Hall, the discouragement of their recent loss still fresh. Arriving at the Halfmoon Inn, they found the locals enraptured by tale and song provided by an eladrin, by the name of Soveliss Immerial. When the locals apprised the bard of the heroes’ former successes, he was eager to meet them and hear about their recent endeavors.

He commiserated with them over the loss of Grand Minister Oris and offered to pen and deliver a fitting eulogy for the deva. Ronen was particularly grateful for the man’s offer, and the others agreed. Such was Soveliss’s talent that the entire inn was caught up in the sentiment, and the eulogy proved to be only the beginning of the finest wake anyone there could remember attending. After everyone had had enough to drink to dull the pain of sadness, the bard asked them about their intentions going forward. When they admitted that they intended to see the mission through despite their loss, he offered to accompany them in Oris’s place. They were appreciative of the offer of help, and readily agreed.

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Session 20: The Well of Demons III
Mask & Blade

11 April, 103 CY (Continued)

When they returned to the Seven-Pillared Hall, they found the rescued Riverdown captives cowering in the private rooms that the adventurers had been using in the Halfmoon Inn. Erra explained to them that a few of the undesirables around town had come by and threatened them with violence, but she and her nephew Rendil had been able to deter them from their course, if only barely. She felt that the captives would be better off outside of the Seven-Pillared Hall, but without anyone to protect them on their journey, the adventurers felt that the captives would have little chance at survival. So it was that Roxor was the only one that decided to remain in Thunderspire, while his companions escorted the ten former slaves back to their home in Riverdown.

Knowing that the remaining two captives, allegedly including Baron Stockmer’s nephew, had little time left before they were sacrificed by Maldrick, Roxor set about trying to find anyone within the Seven-Pillared Hall who might be up to the task of tackling the rest of the Well of Demons by his side. He spent several hours interviewing locals and asking questions at businesses, and even conscripted Rendil into helping him search. At the end of it, he found himself sitting in the Halfmoon Inn, telling those around him about his experiences so far, and hoping that his prior legwork would yield results.

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Session 19: The Well of Demons II
Bell & Tome

11 April, 103 CY (Continued)

Having defeated the gnoll and her pet demon and dismissed the cowardly tieflings, the adventurers began a search of the nearby rooms for any hints as to the location of the remaining Riverdown captives. They found a small locked chest beneath the bed in the priestess’s room, and took from it her treasure, including a pair of magical armbands and an enchanted cloak. These were given to Caex and Navvy respectively, and the party moved on to the next chamber, beyond the doors that the barlgura had smashed open. The room appeared to be a shrine devoted to the Horned King.

Two tall candleholders stood on either side of this shrine’s entrance, each with a black candle set in it. Humanoid bones joined with razor wire had been stacked into a four-legged table, forming a grisly altar, upon which sat a small book bound in black leather. In the Primordial tongue was carved the title “The Book of Wrath Unveiled.” Curious, Corwin picked the small tome up and began to flip through it. It seemed to be a treatise on the cult of Baphomet. Thinking it might be important, the genasi shoved it in his pack.

Their search complete, they sat at the table where the tieflings had been earlier to rest and recover from their exertions against the demonic scourge. Suddenly, the image of a cat-sized demon with spindly arms, bat-like wings and forward protruding horns appeared in their midst. “Greetings, interlopers,” it said as they shifted in their seats, hands straying to weapons and implements. “My master has bid me appear to you with an offer of advice regarding the Well of Demons...for the proper price, of course.”

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Session 18: The Well of Demons
Gnolls Are Our Bitches, Too

10 April, 103 CY (Continued)

After they overcame the tentacled guardians, the party paused to catch their breath and patch up their injuries. While they did so, the fabric of reality seemed to unravel around them, granting each of the adventurers a brief but horrific glimpse of the Abyss. Tolis-Va’s mind was overcome by the momentary vision, and he was shaken to his very core. Fortunately, his experiences against the cult of Orcus in Shadowfell Keep had prepared him to recover from it more swiftly than would have a less seasoned adventurer.

When they felt ready to continue, the five men stood and considered the two paths before them. The long hallway to the south had a couple of side passages branching off from it, whereas the eastern hall ended at a set of double doors. The chose the doors and approached them cautiously, the elf listening for any sounds that might come from beyond them.

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Session 17: Seeking the Blackfang
Yea... It's a Trap...

9 April, 103 CY (Continued)

The adventurers returned to Seven-Pillared Hall with the freed captives in tow. They got them all settled into the Halfmoon Inn, promising Erra that they would take care of the expenses. Corwin took a gem encrusted idol they’d found among Murkelmor’s belongings to Gendar’s Curios. The genasi haggled with the dark elf over the price until they finally came to an agreement for the merchant to purchase the statue, which he claimed was an image of Ahriman. The name meant nothing at all to Corwin, who returned to the party, curiously eyeing the smoking skeleton of a large humanoid near the base of the large minotaur statue he’d seen on his way to the shop. He joined the others at the inn, and it was decided they would rest to recover their strength before continuing their investigations.

10 April, 103 CY (Continued)

The next morning, they gathered on the street in front of the Halfmoon Inn to discuss what to do next. They needed to find where the Blackfang Gnolls were hiding if they wanted to recover the last of the Riverdown captives, but their only real lead seemed to be the attack on the Deepgem miners. Then Corwin felt something tugging on his pants leg, and looked down to see a grimy kobold holding a rolled up parchment.

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Session 16: Breaking the Grimmerzhul
Ignoring Distractions

9 April, 103 CY

The adventurers awoke and had breakfast, during which they were approached by a dwarf called Ulthand Deepgem. He told them that he ran the Deepgem Company, and that he’d heard of their exploits so far in the Seven-Pillared Hall. They got to talking and he informed them that one of his mining teams had recently been attacked and viciously slaughtered. The bodies of the miners had all been recovered, but he his dear pet, a dire boar that he had personally trained as a mount and beast of burden, was still missing. He believed gnolls to be responsible for the attack and further thought they had perhaps taken the animal. He wasn’t sure where the hyena-men could be found within the Labyrinth, but he did offer a reward for the return of the boar. Then, he thanked them and went on his way.

The party began gearing up for another run at the Horned Hold, while Tolis-Va went out to run a few errands. First, he went to collect the reward from Gendar for turning over the skull scepter, and was directed to Dreskin when he asked the drow for arrows. The provisioner was a rotund little man with a wheedling manner. He was charging half again what arrows would have cost the elf on the surface, but considering the amount of gold that the ranger had gained from his recent adventures, he gave up trying to deal with the man and simply paid his asking price for the ammunition. When he returned, he found the others in the common room waiting for him. They heard the door to the Halfmoon Inn open and they all turned to see a gang of half-orcs sauntering into the establishment.

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Session 15: The Horned Hold III
Rout & Retreat

8 April, 103 CY (Continued)

The party followed the northwestern path across the crenelated battlements to a ruined room where they encountered vicious wights and a locked iron door. They defeated the undead with little trouble, but were unable to get through the door.

They circled back around, exploring the bed chamber to find the doors there opened into smaller personal bedrooms, one of which appeared to belong to Rundarr. Tolis-Va deftly unlocked the small iron chest under the bed there and found the deceased duergar warlord’s personal wealth.

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Session 14: The Horned Hold II
Reluctant "Heroes"

7 April, 103 CY

The adventurers stirred themselves from slumber a few hours later, having rested fitfully in the guard room. Fortunately, there had been no follow-up investigation into their assault, despite the escaped duergar. They swiftly consumed trail rations to break their fast and then removed the spikes that held the door closed. It was blessedly empty. In the side doors leading off of the south side of the hallway, they found an armory and a bunk room with a handful of cots and filthy personal effects that only an orc could treasure. After a cursory search turned up nothing of interest, the entered the north door and entered a room containing a stone well, from which they drew fresh water for their skins. Exiting this room through a western door deposited them in the large forge from which the second group of duergar had attacked.

Several doors led from the forge, and those on the east wall opened into another bunk room to the south and a bedchamber to the north. The latter room actually contained a bit of loot: a chest under the bed, and a bejeweled skull-scepter hanging on the wall. Tolis-Va recognized it from the drow merchant Gendar’s description. Taking custody of the item, he briefly explained the dark elf’s request for the item’s return as well as the promise of payment when he saw the frowns on some of his companions faces upon hearing the word “drow.” This appeased them well enough, and the group continued its exploration of the fortress.

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Session 13: The Horned Hold
The New Guys

6 April, 103 CY

Tolis-Va sat at his table eating breakfast and awaiting any responses to the flier he’d posted the evening before on the bulletin board downtown. He was barely through his first helping of eggs when two men, a dwarf and a dragonborn, entered the door, each holding on to one side of his posting. He raised an eyebrow at the pair, who seemed to be eyeing each other like unfamiliar cats, and neither of which would relinquish his grip. The ranger sighed and decided to break the ice. “I see you’ve got my flier. What are your names?”

Roxor!” declared the dwarf at the same time that the dragonborn announced “Brother Caex Vethikos, warrior monk of the Platinum Dragon.” They gave each other looks across the table, Roxor muttering under his breath, “Fancy title, boy.”

“I earned it,” responded Caex, nonplussed.

“Fantastic,” said Tolis-Va, barely suppressing another audible sigh. “Here’s what we’re dealing with…”

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Session 12: Reconnaissance
No Quarter

5 April, 103 CY (Continued)

After the party returned to the Halfmoon Inn to prepare for the trip through the Labyrinth to the Horned Hold, Etholin made an announcement. “Gentlemen, it has been a genuine pleasure traveling with and fighting alongside you these last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, my quest draws me elsewhere. I must seek out word of the Cult of Gruumsh if I am to have any hope of discovering my sister’s fate. I know that you are committed to your current course, and I wish you all the best, but I feel I should return to Fallcrest to see if Douven and I can perhaps find anything else out. I really appreciate everything you’ve done for me, even though the cult in Winterhaven proved to be a dead end.”

Balasar and Morthos frowned but nodded in understanding. Tolis-Va looked thoughtful for a few seconds before he responded. “The roads are dangerous. I will escort you back to Fallcrest, if that is your destination. Hopefully we will not again encounter the shadar-kai that set upon us on our way here, but one can never be too careful. Aside from which, we can deliver Krand’s head to the Lord Warden and perhaps collect our reward for services rendered.”

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