Wrath of the Righteous

Mythic

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The party and their allies took a half hour break from their assault on the fallen garrison to clean and reconsecrate a shrine to Iomedae. They felt a sense of divine approval as the final touches were applied and the shrine stood clean again. Bendak heard a door slam nearby and sent his dinosaurs to track down the cause. They found a scent trail leading from one door to another. The party attempted to get through to follow the noisemaker, but the lock had been sabotaged and fused shut. The party thus decided to go try the other door instead. That lead to a room with a ruined tapestry map of the crusader nation of Mendev, and among other loot a magical sword in a case. Gith’s object reading revealed that it had a surprising origin. It had once been Irabeth’s father’s sword. She had sold it to pay for the magic that had changed Anevia into a woman, and from there it wound up in the hands of a traitor named Kandro Nyserian.

A letter found in the case explained further. It was written by a man named Othirubo, and addressed to a Lord Staunton. When Nyserian tried to bargin with the cultists by offering the sword, Othirubo had him killed for not turning it over sooner and gave his corpse as a suit to one of the worm guards outside. He ended the letter saying “I suspect the blade will take to your brother’s touch nicely!” Irabeth was outraged at the way her sword had been used and took it back. It suited her well.

After that, Bendak’s eyes took on a reptilian look as he spoke with Hook, who said that the scent of the noisemaker was very strong here. The party went back to the sealed door and slowly bashed it down. There was a room with stairs leading up to a balcony behind it, and four dretch demons that awaited the invaders. The party charged and among them was Gith’s reanimated wrecker demon. He had taken to calling it Skeeter. On the balcony, four cultists with crossbows joined in the battle. A massive and chaotic melee began. Bombs began to rain in from an unseen source. One of Gith’s minions, the skeletal cultist, was destroyed. The source of the bombs appeared. It was Othirubo, a tiefling alchemist. Hook hissed in recognition of his scent at the doors.

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Tane quickly greased the floor and tripped him. He used a smoke bomb to cover an escape. The party hacked their way through the minions on the stairs as Hook scrabbled up the railing. They eventually triumphed and emerged at the top of the stair in a large room. Four more cultists opened fire and were cut down. The raptor tracked Othirubo around a corner into a small room where he threw firebombs from behind a table as several scythe wielding cultists attacked. A mongrelman nearly lost her life to one of the bombs, and Bendak was also nearly killed by a single luckly blow by a cultist when he turned to help. Eventually, the overwhelming goodly mob slew the wicked bomber and his allies and saved their wounded. The party healed with the wand purchased earlier and looted. Valuable documents were found here, and their capture would wound the Worldwound’s forces. The party felt that strange sense of divine approval again.

The party then opened another door and found a horrifying sight. Multiple fallen paladins of Iomedae had been reanimated as zombies. They stood disemboweled and staring into a large basin of water that had been reddened by their blood and entrails. The ruined knights attacked the party and were mercifully put down. The desecrated pool had once been a holy place that priests could use for divination. The party removed the tainted waters and refilled it with purer water. It became active again and showed the party a vision. It showed the wardstone fragment in a cage, and then receded to show it guarded by a woman in vicious looking armor and wielding a scythe. Before her was a fiendish minotaur. Again they felt that same approval after fixing the pool.

The group continued to advance onward and upward. Several more monsters fell before them. There was a pair of strange elk-bird perytons, a goat demon, and giant flies with human hands. The party learned from all these battles, and gained skill. Gith used his increased control to animate another wrecker demon to accompany Skeeter. Despite his discomfort with all these “redemption seeking” undead, Wase resolved to read scriptures to them later in the hopes of aiding their progress. The party made it to the minotaur seen in their vision.

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A mighty blow by Wase crippled the minotaur, and it was defeated. As the party prepared themselves for the final battle, Gith looked down at the fallen minotaur and was disappointed to see that its bones were too large for him to animate.

The last door was smashed down, and the wardstone fragment was sighted. Jeslyn, the leader of the cultists, stood against the party.

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Jeslyn fought bravely, but was soon overwhelmed. Despite her efforts to stop the party and to touch the fragment for some nefarious purpose, Tane made it to the fragment with the rod and struck it. The wardstone shattered. It exploded in a blast of golden light and the sound of an angelic choir. Hundreds of razor-sharp shards of stone
spray outward, destroying the cage the fragment was inside and slicing Jeslyn apart-the explosion miraculously avoided harming the party and all their allies.

An unexpected side effect of the wardstone’s destruction occured. If the holy energies stored in all of the wardstones was the waters of a vast lake formed by a dam, then the fragment just destroyed was the plug in that dam holding the waters back. Rather than simply diffusing the wardstone’s border as the Eagle Watch theorized (and thus removing the border from possible corruption), all of the energies of the wardstones along the border rushed out of the " hole" caused by the final destruction of the last and largest fragment of the Kenabres stone. The energy of all of these simultaneously draining artifacts infuses Wase, Bendak, Tane,and Gith with incredible power, causing them to glow with golden light. They stood stunned as the power rushed into them. Irabeth tried unsuccessfully to rouse them. This event did not go unnoticed. All along the border, other wardstones flashed with golden light as well, momentarily supercharging their effects. Thousands of demons were destroyed by the flash of light, and many more were wounded. The attacks along the borders suddenly ceased, and the surviving demons fled back into the depths of the Worldwound, thus they did not witness the wardstones fade into total inertness.

The party began to see visions of major events from the wardstone’s history. First they saw the first wardstone being erected in the Kite in Kenabres in 4639 AR, in a ritual involving the aid of the Hand of the Inheritor-the herald of Iomedae: a golden, winged angel with a halo of small swords around his head. This event happened soon after the Second Crusade began. Second they saw a 20-year-old Hulrun leading the burning of dozens of supposed " witches" in the courtyard of the Kite before the wardstone in the year 4665 AR. This event launched the Second Crusade. Third, they saw Khorramzadeh the Storm King leading a brazen attack on Kenabres. The Storm King managed to strike a resounding blow with his sword against the wardstone, which suffered only the tiniest of cracks as the balor’s sword shattered. Khorramzadeh was then attacked and forced to flee when the silver dragon Terendelev nearly killed him-this event launched the Fourth Crusade. Forth, they saw Irabeth chasing a burly dwarven man- Staunton Vhane (leader of the Hammers of Heaven mercenary group) into the courtyard containing the wardstone one year ago. Both paladins were heavily wounded, and as Staunton backed against the wardstone, smoke rose and he screamed in pain. He ducked to avoid one of Irabeth’s blows, then managed to smash her knee with his hammer, dropping her to the ground. Staunton seemed ready to deliver a death blow, but the sound of approaching soldiers forced him instead to back away and summon a fiendish giant wasp that he swiftly mounted and then flew away to the north, abandoning Kenabres. Fifth, they saw Minagho, a beautiful demonic woman with a long thin tail, clawed hands, and curling horns protruding from where her eyes should be.

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She placed the wardstone fragment in this room and Jeslyn used a wish granted by Minagho to create the cage around it before Minagho teleported away. Finally, they saw an event that shall now never happen:A demonic winged woman using a deep purple Nahyndrian crystal the size of a human’s head to corrupt the fragment, causing the entire border to flash with nauseating mauve fire that devastates the border cities and transforms countless crusaders into half-fiend slaves of the Worldwound.

The woman who would have corrupted the crusaders, Areelu Vorlesh, then appeared before them. She said that the party’s actions here would only delay their kind’s extinction. She then reached out with suffocating magic that would slay any normal mortals. Irabeth, the dinosaurs, and the mongrelmen began to choke. However, the glowing party members were no longer normal mortals. Finding that she couldn’t use her magic, Areelu opened a rift and six babau demons tumbled into the room as more demons of all sorts approached. The glowing energy then lashed out, closing the rift and destroying Areelu’s image. The spell vanished and those it affected dropped coughing and gagging to the ground. Six babaus would normally have slaughtered the party, but the energy still within them turned it into a shocking stomp as the party butchered the demons. This would later be known as a major point. Tane, Gith, Wase and Bendak were now Mythic.

View
Wrath of the Relatively Righteous.

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The team arrived at the closest cult hideout, a potion shop called Topaz Solutions. It was named for its owner, Aigon Topaz. Inside were six men with knives. They introduced themselves as the Ash Ravens, a “assistant force” to the local police. They wanted help escaping from Kenebraes. The group had some debate amongst themselves and questioned the group. Bendak tried greeting using the “I have new materials for the archives” passphrase from the cultist letter, but was met with silence. Ultimately the survivors aided them in leaving, despite doubts as to their honesty. They were almost certainly a simple gang of looters. It would be a touch hypocritical for adventurers to persecute such a group however. Wase began to suspect this at the last as they disappeared at the edge of the city and tried to stop and question them. The Ash Ravens quickly left with a flurry of interrupting, yet polite goodbyes.

The survivors then went back to Topaz Solutions to investigate some more. Wase believed he had seen a hidden trapdoor there. He proved to be correct. The hatch lead down a creaking staircase into a musty dirt basement. They went in to see that it was obviously dedicated to Baphomet. The demon lord’s unholy visage decorated a wall and a small clockwork statue of a demon woman with six arms bearing swords and the lower body of a snake. Gith identified it as a marilith demon as Tane detected a faint aura of conjuration magic. Gith psychically opened the chest as the paladin approached. When Wase was close enough, the clockwork demon swung its arms and slashed a trigger that released an invisible gas into the room that stung and burned. Everyone retreated as Bendak warded the skeleton against burning. The skeleton was sent back in to get the presumable treasure that the trap was guarding. It ignored the gas, but suddenly a mushroomlike creature appeared and charged.

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The monster bit the skeleton in half, destroying it. The rest of team rushed down through the painful gas to avenge the skeleton’s “death”. The monster crumbled under their focused fire and Wase scored the fatal blow. Thankfully, Gith clarified that he would be able to restore his lost ally soon. The team retreated again and decided this time to wait out the gas. After it faded, Gith picked up the skeleton’s lost gear as Wase checked the treasure chest. It contained five holy symbols of Iomedae, with a note saying “We don’t need these anymore, but figured if you survived our surprise, it would be just plain rude to leave behind an empty chest for your troubles!” Wase picked up the symbols, and fought off the contact poison spread over them. Tane appraised the statue as being worth 250 gold pieces, so the group took it to sell later.

One safehouse remained, the Tower of Estrod. Those among the group who were local to the city remembered it as a public library before the disaster. Gith restored his skeleton, and Tane offered it a magic belt to increase its strength. Oddly, as it put on the belt it flickered briefly back to its appearance in life as Gith’s ancestor Githarahe for an instant. Outside the Tower stood two cultists of Baphomet. The team got in with the passphrase. Once inside, they were given sack lunches and bedrolls. The cultists told the group to make themselves at home after talking to their leader, Faxon. As they crossed the former library, Gith counted the visible bedrolls. He saw about twenty total and the supplies to house about that many cultists. Six bedrolls appeared to be currently occupied. Faxon resided in an office at the bottom of a narrow stair. The undercover demonslayers went down and saw Faxon working on some papers. He was a tiefling like Wase, but seemed not to have made any effort to resist his dark impulses. A small red scorpion sat on his shoulder.

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Faxon looked up and complimented Wase on his “stolen” paladin armor and asked how many paladins the group had killed. Without hesitation, Bendak claimed seven. The group talked briefly with Faxon, as their impromptu undercover mission started to break down. Faxon told them to go upstairs and wait for further marching orders. The group continued to stay in the room, awkwardly pushing for more information. Faxon became suspicious and ordered all but Gith to leave. The group remained obstinate, so Faxon cast a Charm spell on Gith and readied his mace. Wase returned his attack while charging his sword with holy might. Bendak and the raptor also rushed in. Gith tried to break up the fight, thinking all present were his friends. He used his skeleton to block off Hook. The two tieflings dueled, and Faxon struck Wase blind. A moment later Wase used his holy blessings to remove the blindness and struck down Faxon as he cried out for help. The six cultists upstairs were heard as they rushed down the stairs. Tane saw his chance and greased the stairs as Bendak began a summoning spell. The cultists charged, slipped on the grease and fell to an ignominious death as meals for a frog the size of a man. The others contributed to tenderizing the meat of course.

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The frog snapped up the scorpion and uttered a satisfied croak before vanishing. The team looted the tower. A chest with notes was found. It included a note to Faxon from his apparent superior. It read as follows:

“Faxon-

You did well to report your superior’s mishandling of funds, and I trust you will continue to serve as loyally in the weeks to come. You need not command the Kenabres Templars for long, for the city is about to die- I only wish I could be there to take part in its murder, for I have fond memories of my Red Morning Massacre. No matter, I suppose, for your mortal kin will all fall soon enough- as I said, Kenabres’s days are short. Vorlesh has already left to meet with our Lord’s daughter in the Abyss to secure a Nahyndrian crystal of the proper purity, and once she has what she needs, she’ll arrive in Kenabres to finish the job and turn the wardstones fully to our use. You will know when she succeeds, I suspect! Praise Lord Baphomet!

Minagho"

The chest also had lists of information related to the attack. It indicated that the fall of Kenebraes had been planned for years. Among the information was lists of cult members. Although much of the intel was now redundant, it did include the names of members in other cities.

Among the treasure of the tower, one item caused discord among the group. It was a brass image of a minotaur’s face, that was sacred to the Baphomet cult. Wase and Bendak wanted to destroy it for being an evil and unnatural thing, while Tane and Gith wanted to save it to sell. They estimated its worth at about 2000 gold. Tane tried to prevent Wase from destroying it by arguing that it was treasure and thus fair game for anyone to claim. Bendak then immediately claimed it and handed it over for destruction, which Wase eagerly carried out. Hopefully the matter would end there.

The team went back to Defender’s Heart to report victory. Irabeth thanked them and paid 2000 gold for their efforts. Irabeth introduced the party to an old man named Quednys Orlun, founder of Blackwing Library. Tane recognized him and told him about the survivors at the library. A rescue mission was sent after them as Quednys sat and explained the situation.

“As horrific as recent events have been, we’ve come to realize that they are, in fact, merely a prelude. The razing of the Kite, the destruction of our wardstone, Terendelev’s murder, and the assault on the city were nothing more than opening gambits. The Worldwound is on the march, in a much more concentrated assault then we have seen since the fall of Drezen. It’s fair to say that the Lord of Locust Host is finally making his move. The end of the hundred-year-war is upon us, and it falls to us to ensure our victory.

“While the Templars of the Ivory Labyrinth were scattered, those who serve the Lord of the Locust Host himself remain concentrated in Old Kenabres. What we’ve heard from within the barricade they’ve erected is ominous. The cultists are waiting for something, and based on our information and what you’ve managed to recover thus far, it sounds like the vile witch Areelu Vorlesh will soon be coming to Kenabres. And it appears that we’ve determined what she intends to do.

“When the wardstone was destroyed by the Storm King, it exploded and destroyed the Kite. The network along the border failed, but did not fade completely. Quednys and I believe it is because a significant portion of our wardstone still exists, and the cultists have taken it to the old Grey Garrison fort in Old Kenabres. From what we’ve learned, they’re hoping to engineer a way to somehow reverse the field generated by the wardstones essentially, to use our own greatest defense as a devastating weapon.

“The attack on Kenabres had a predictable result: causing the crusade to gather at its border to defend it. Some wonder why the demons haven’t attacked in stronger numbers. I believe that Areelu was counting on us massing along the border, and that if she can corrupt the wardstone field, she can strike a devastating blow against us all. In effect, we have lined up for the slaughter.

“Vorlesh is surely seeking some object of great Abyssal power, likely the Nahyndrian crystal mentioned in the missive you recovered, and with it she intends to turn the source of our hope into an unimaginable nightmare. We cannot hope to evacuate everyone from the border- I doubt they would give up the defensive line even if they knew what the enemy had planned. But we can still stop this from happening- we just need to have someone infiltrate the Gray Garrison, locate the wardstone fragment, and destroy it with a Rod of Cancellation. If you are still willing to serve the cause of good, I would ask you to carry out the infiltration as our crusaders mount a distraction. What say you?"

The survivors agreed. Irabeth joined their party as well for the attack. As the crusaders and the party prepared for battle, some welcome vistors arrived. Arava dropped off some magical items, the first mongrelman troops from Neathholm sent rangers to aid the party. Even Querm sent aid, donating much wealth to the cause. This boosted the troops morale.

The next day, the attack was launched. About twelve cultists patrolled around the building, aided by six howler beasts. The howlers were like demonic big cats with ebony quills. Along with those, two naked, obese men guarded the front gate. They looked like the desecrated corpses of important Kenebraes citizens. One of them was Lord Hulrun, the leader of Kenebraes himself. The crusaders charged, pulling away all but the two obese guards. The party charged under a hail of mongrelman arrows and attacked the two guards. They released bursts of evil energy that hurt Tane and Hook. Together the two paladins cut one open, exposing a massive worm inside. The other corpse burst open, as its worm escaped into the ground.

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Everyone waited, tensely waiting for it to strike again. Wase opened the door of the Garrison and saw a ruined frieze of crusaders battling demons. The worm emerged and bit down hard on his foot before being slaughtered. The party and their small army of allies stormed the fortress. It was absolute chaos. Room by room, they battled cultists aplenty and two wrecker demons. The skeleton flickered back and forth between its living self and its skeletal form. During the battle, Gith extended his powers to animate the skeletons of a wrecker demon and a tiefling cultist. Wase finally noticed after the battles had ceased for a moment. It looked like the undead would be destroyed, but Gith claimed that he hadn’t made them. He argued that they were helping despite the evil in them the paladins could sense and puppeted them asking for redemption. Bendak was fooled, and managed to persuade the paladins to stand down with some grumbling.

Tane decided then to explain what was going on with Gith’s ancestor and his belt.

“In order to better assist our party as a whole; for we are a party, one that is burdened with the most important task of ridding this land of a high evil; I crafted this Belt of Giant Strength. My early research into battle tactics and discussions with my mentor have lead me to understand that such a boon is best placed on that person who is already the greatest front-line fighter of our group.

“From when we first met and had our first encounter in the caverns below the city, Gith’s risen ancestor, Githarahe, has proven to be such a person. His attacks have been the strongest and he has rarely demonstrated the need to use any of our precious healing potions or spells. As such, the belt was crafted for him.

“Due to Wase’s Lawful Good nature, as perfectly demonstrated by his constant chaotic behavior and seeming willingness to offer parlay to those performing both unlawful and un-good tasks, and further proven by his recent decisions to; escort looters to safety, destroy valuable items that could finance our holy task, and outright attack efforts by our party member’s attempts at combating the greater evil, I felt it best to try to add some minor alterations to the belt.

“Since Wase seems to want to attack anything that he thinks is evil at every inopportune time, the belt covers Githarahe’s bones with flesh whenever he enters combat. Unfortunately, this effect seems to be momentarily disrupted whenever Githarahe actually hits an enemy. We can only hope that… certain… members of our party do not have illogical reactions to such minor transformations and will, instead, stick to the task at hand to actually put down this demonic invasion instead of lashing out like a two-year-old at every perceived discomfort.

“In the effort to destroy this greater evil, and for the best of the party, and for as long as he continues to prove himself our greatest champion, may Githarahe wear this belt well.”

View
The shadow of ruin

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The group rested in the library for the night. Soon the scholars turned to discussing rumors. Among them were these:

“The Eagle Watch and a few other crusading groups survived the attack, and have set up a fortified camp at Defender’s Heart.”

“The demon plague has come to Kenabres. We’ll all be dead of it within a week! "

Tane heard their talk and asked “Demon plague? What do you mean? Are humanoids changing or otherwise
acting differently? Who do you know that’s been affected? How has
that person changed? Stiff drinks can cure hysteria, you should have
one after you answer all my questions. What have been happening in
the city for the past few days?”

The whale oil soaked librarian that mentioned ‘demon plague’ responded, “We are being punished for our rebellion. The city is undone—look around! Have you not eyes to see demons and the possessed ransacking our once great city? What do you think possessed the mad paladin to burn us alive—surely a man in control of his own faculties would not do such a thing! Since the great flash and all was shaking and torn apart, powerful magics reverberated throughout the city and great winged demons were seen turning above the city casting great shadows. When the shaking and crashing din subsided it was replaced with nothing but the cries of the dying and the never ending laughter and mocking of the demons themselves—spreading the demon plague wherever they went. Perhaps even you are infected…” She then broke down sobbing quietly.

Bendak asked what the Eagle Watch and Defender’s Heart were. The Eagle Watch were a group of Andoran knights who hunted corruption in the ranks of the crusaders. Defender’s Heart was the largest tavern in Kenebraes, catering to crusaders and mercenaries.

The next morning, the survivors began moving out to the next closest target, the cultist safehouse at Nyserian Manor. Arava the wizard chose to stay behind with the librarians. Nyserian Manor was found to be nothing but a crater. Despite Bendak’s extremely thorough search, the group found nothing. Nearby, the group heard two figures moving around in a shop and breaking things. The paladin approached and called out to them. The wrecker demons within responded violently.

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The wrecker demons had been trashing a clothier’s shop in their need to compensate for their ugliness by destroying beauty. Wase approached and drew his sword as Tane greased the floor, dropping a demon to the floor. Hook leapt in through a window, loudly trilling at the chance to kill demons. The standing demon was momentarily overcome by Gith’s psychic powers and took a swing at the other with a chair. The demons then quickly looked their assailants over to see which was the most charismatic, in order to ruin them first. They decided it was the demonic knight, narrowly beating the velociraptor. If she could care about such things, Hook would have been just happy to be nominated. Tane began helping as Wase held off the demons. A demon fell to the raptor’s claws, but Wase took the brunt of the attacks and was struggling against the survivor. Bendak made it to the fight though, and magically bolstered Wase, keeping him alive long enough to decapitate the last wrecker demon.

After the chaos had ended, the survivors heard quiet whispers nearby from a closed off back room. After some coaxing, the owner of the shop and his wife emerged. They were extremely thankful to the group for saving their lives and offered to let them take their choice of outfits from the surviving stock. Before leaving, Bendak conjured up water to refill their supply and Tane magically repaired a wedding dress out of kindness. While there, the group picked up a rumor that the local Salen river had been poisoned.

Next up was Querm’s mansion. Bizarrely, his home was nearly untouched by the cataclysm. Querm did not appreciate his suspiciously good fortune at all, as his household servants and guards had all fled, taking his valuables with them. Querm’s hidden treasure and panic room was fine, however. He was true to his word, and paid the group 2000 gold coins before locking himself in to wait out the disaster. None were really upset about continuing without him. Gith object read and Swoop flew around to inspect the damage, but found nothing important. Tane suspected that the house had been spared because Querm’s mistreated servants had fled immediately, thus leaving nobody in the estate to kill. Still, Gith peed on Querm’s nicest carpet before leaving.

At this point, Anevia insisted that the group go and check if her wife was still alive. On the way, Swoop was circling above and saw three knights forcefully dragging a woman to an altar of the good deity Sarenrae. He told Bendak, who repeated it to the group. They rushed off to the rescue. As they approached, one knight told the captive that her sacrifice would aid the cause of good. Wase turned the corner, sword in hand, and demanded to know how that could be. He also added that the city could use some good in this dark time. The crusaders prepared for battle and drew swords at him. Gith summoned his skeletal ancestor before sneaking up on a knight and calling out “Boo!”. The fallen warrior was gripped by mentally pushed terror and fled as fast as he could manage through the rubble. The battle had begun, and Wase, the skeleton, Hook, and Bendak entered the battle. Bendak hesitated a moment, and his legs warped into a more reptilian form to spring through the rubble. Tane greased a knight, tripping him up. Wase began dueling another knight as Gith and the skeleton left one dying in the dust by their hostage. As Wase fought, he looked into his opponent’s souls and was surprised to see that evil had not truly gripped them yet.

In the meantime, the fleeing crusader dodged raptor claws and a sudden stormcloud for a moment, but was soon brought to his knees by the dinosaur as Bendak joined against Wase’s opponent. Wase called out that the knights weren’t evil, so Bendak called off Hook and aimed a disabling scythe blow at his own target. To his own horror, he swung too hard and bisected him. The remaining knight continued to fight in his madness, cutting the raptor. A lethal arrow from Gith put a stop to that. Wase rushed to the fallen knight by the hostage and used his powers to save his life, hoping to redeem him. Sadly, the knight was too far gone. Gripping his sword, he took a desperate slash at the hostage, nearly slaying her in one blow. Fortunately Gith reacted immediately. The skeleton crushed the knight’s skull open against the ground as Gith gave the hostage a lifesaving potion. Reviving, she introduced herself as Klara.

Klara lead the survivors to her family’s hiding place a very short distance away, containing her mother and crippled father. They were furious with the paladin, but accommodating to the others. The druid refilled their water supply as they related the rumors they had heard. They had heard reports that multiple cults were active in the city and that both a terrible witch and the heroic Mendevian army were on their way to Kenebraes.

Just before reaching her house, Anevia told the others her wife was a half-orc paladin named Irabeth. They lived in a small house. Anevia would have preferred larger, but Irabeth insisted on donating most of their money to the less fortunate. On arrival, the house seemed abandoned. Gith did not read anything from the door, but Tane saw a momentary flash of magic that he identified as an alarm spell. Bendak asked her, and Anevia confirmed that wasn’t normal before rushing in. The survivors began carefully exploring the home. Suddenly, Anevia was attacked by a fiendish pony. It was quickly killed by the raptor and skeleton. The survivors looked for the presumable summoner, but found nothing before a second pony rushed out, only to be killed again. Bendak ordered the raptor to hunt down the summoner, who burst from invisibility as soon as the dinosaur sniffed the air. He was an armored half-orc sorcerer.

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The half-orc screamed that he would leave Anevia’s corpse on the bed for Irabeth to find before her death and impaled her on his wicked spear, leaving her bleeding out on the floor of her home. He tried to finish her, but was overwhelmed by her friends, cornered against a wall, and slaughtered. After Anevia was revived with a potion found in her house. Further searching found a note from Irabeth, saying that she had gone to Defender’s Heart to lead the other holy warriors. In retrospect, it seemed kind of obvious. It also said that the password was Silverstrong. Anevia also identified the half-orc as Vagorg. He was a criminal who had been captured by Irabeth a year ago and had spent the interim plotting his vengance. The survivors rested in Anevia’s home overnight and then went on to Defender’s Heart.

After a triggerhappy guard almost landed a crossbow bolt in someone, the group made it in with the password. Anevia reunited with Irabeth, who later interviewed the others. She said that the wardstone barrier was at its weakest point ever and attacks were occurring all along the border. On the bright side, the barrier was still up. For their part, the survivors told her everything that had happened since they fell, leaving nothing out. Irabeth was happy to hear of the mongrelman alliance, though she called them by a politer name. She said that she considered the Ivory Labyrinth the greatest threat among the cultists and asked the group to finish hunting down their remaining two safehouses from the note. In exchange she gave free food and board. Gith also got her to send a rescue mission for Klara and her family. It was done, though a few crusaders fell in the act. The party bought a couple of wands, including a wand of healing, and moved out to the closer safehouse.

On the way, they came across a horrible sight. With corpses scattered about, four peasants with ill-fitting armor and weapons were being forced to fight to the death for a pair of quasit demons.

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The demons tried to fly away, turn invisible, and escape to kill again. A giant spider summoned by Bendak stopped them with webs, cutting off their escape. Despite the demons trying their best to scare off the group, they were destroyed as the peasants fled. Even Tane got in on it, killing one with a wand of magic missiles.

View
The light of day

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The survivors continued on their way through the dungeon. They passed through a dining room stained with blood. Gith sensed that a mongrelman had been sacrificed there by an invading human cultist. Shortly thereafter the group was ambushed in a primitive bedroom by the cultist, a woman named Hosilla, and her tiefling minion.

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Wase tried to greet them and took a blow from a spectral unholy battle axe that Hosilla summoned. Her rudeness was punished by blows from Gith and his skeleton. Tane, Bendak, and hook rushed in after them. After Gith managed to psychically force the tiefling cultist to momentarily attack Hosilla, Wase struck her down with a well placed blow. The remaining cultist flew into enraged grief, but was soon overwhelmed by the survivors and slain.

The paladin looked into the cultist’s souls as they faded away and saw the evil within. A note and a lockbox were found among the cultist’s possessions. The group assembled to read the note.

“Hosilla-

You will remain, for the time being, in Kenabres. But know this- the city’s days are numbered. Seek a place of safety- the underground den of your mongrel lackeys should suffice to keep you safe from the devastation to come. I shall assume command of Drezen shortly, and once Vorlesh has finished with the wardstone and Kenabres is no longer of interest to us, you are to return to my side.

Excellent news regarding the salvage of Yuriel’s sword from the museum as well- bring it with you, for I believe this weapon could be quite useful one we corrupt it.

Before you leave for Drezen, stop by the three safe houses (Nyserian Manor, Topaz Solutions, and the Tower of Estrod- the passphrase remains “I’ve new materials for the archive” for now) and ensure that no evidence remains behind.

May Lord Deskari and Lord Baphomet watch over you.

~ S.V."

Querm seemed momentarily shocked, but quickly returned to normal, Anevia wanted to report the discovery to the authorities, and Arava wanted to investigate the tower. Bendak checked with the native citizens and verified that all the locations mentioned in the note were in Kenebraes. The others focused on the lockbox. Gith opened it up and detected that the sword inside was in fact Radiance, the weapon of the crusader martyr Yuriel. At the moment, it seemed inert and a shadow of its old self. However, Wase picked up the sword and it flared back to life, reviving in the paladin’s grasp. Perhaps it would recover even more power in time.

The group continued their exploration. Wase opened a door and took a painful bite from the pale cave lizard hiding in the meat storage inside.

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Bendak was unable to talk it down, so the rest of the team rushed and subdued the lizard. Due to the saurian shaman’s presence the lizard was spared. It would be able to walk away when it awoke several hours later.

The next battle was in a room full of taxidermy. Two human cultists made Wase kneel and drop his weapon with a Command spell. Fortunately, they were unable to finish him off before falling to the conjured grease and vengeful weapons of Wase’s friends.

Next, a rope ladder led them into a wide, dark pool. As the first of the group entered the water, a pair of gars attacked.

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One of the fish bit Gith hard and began pulling him under. The elf cried out in pain, having never been hurt that much before. Thinking hard, Gith commanded the fish to let go and bite its mate. He was then lifted out by Bendak’s cloud as the fish were killed off. Gith’s skeleton was told to explore the bottom of the pool, and it found a trap door leading up to an abandoned stash of thief’s gold. Gith went in to get it and was caught in a spiked pit. The others rescued him and the gold was got. Around this time, Bendak gave Wase his wooden shield as an upgrade.

On the way out of the tunnels now, the group slew a pack of powerful dire rats and the last of the traitor mongrelmen. The exit was a stone maze. As the group picked up the pace at the promise of finally seeing the surface again, a pair of childsized demons sprung from hiding.

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The demons cackled and rushed to claw at the paladin as they filled the room with a stinking cloud. The mortals began to gag and struggle to fight through the awful stench. At the scent of demons like the ones who slaughtered her hatchlings, Hook quivered with rage. Snarling, it bit and clawed at a demon’s back. Unfortunately, the demon’s supernatural hide saved it from taking any more than minor cuts. Oh well. One dretch summoned another into the battle. Tane tried to frighten the demons away with a magical scroll, but the demons resisted. After a terrible fight, the survivors finally left them in the dirt and made it to the surface.

The city they emerged into was barely a comfort. Kenebraes lay in ruin under a smoke choked sky and the echoing laughter of demons. It had been three days since the attack. The group gathered together to determine where to go next. Gith happened to object read Anevia and discovered she used to be a man. Horgus demanded to go straight home to his manor, Arava wanted to check on his colleagues at Blackwing Library, and Anevia needed to see if her wife was still alive. Since the library was closest, the group decided to go there first over Horgus’s protests. Gith began watching him closely. The survivors patched up their wounds as best they could and headed out. They arrived to see that the library had been reduced to rubble. Arava was broken with grief. Bendak tried awkwardly to console him, but all his knowledge of dinosaurs and jungle survival had nothing to deal with this.

A voice was heard inside barking out orders to stack books. The group stalked closer for a better look. Inside was the cavalier of Iomedae Chaleb Sazomal.

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Despite the noble symbol on his shield, he had tied up three scholars in a ring of books and was forcing another, a woman named Fenna, to gather more around the prisoners. She wept, but was being forced to comply at swordpoint. Wase detected Evil. The floor was covered in rubble and fallen books, which slowed the knight down. The raptor deftly hopped through the books and prepared to spring upon the defected crusader as Bendak summoned a little stormcloud over him. A lighting bolt jolted Chaleb, who tossed a flaming Tindertwig into the books. The flames quickly surrounded the trapped scholars and threatened to burn them alive. The one forced to stack the books took her chance. Calling out an apology to the raptor, she fired off a burst of flames from her hands at Chaleb. The raptor hissed and dodged as Chaleb took the heat. Tane stepped in with a blast of water at the fire, putting it out and sending books bouncing off the dark knight and dinosaur. Chaleb tried to escape, but the thundercloud caught up and struck him again, knocking him unconscious and ending the battle.

Chaleb was tied up and revived for questioning. He lied about his actions, but the psychic got through fairly quickly to determine that he was trying to kill off survivors of the attack in hopes of winning favor with the demons to save himself. The group argued for a while over whether or not to spare his life. Wase in particular struggled with his code that day. Ultimately, the decision was made to spare him for now…and leave him to the ones he had held prisoner. Exploring the library turned up some dried dead worms. Bendak tried to identify them, but they were no species he had ever seen. A psychic vision of Gith and interviewing the scholars found that they were the castoffs of the being who destroyed the library. During the attack a Worm That Walks had targeted them in particular. With spells and enslaved demons, he tore down the library and seemed to search the rubble for something. A Worm That Walks is an evil mage who’s malign spirit possessed the worms that devoured his body after death and returned, forming the worms into a semblance of their old body. Arava collected himself enough to be functional again, and revealed that the library was actually the main headquarters of the Riftwardens. They were the heroic secret society that he and Tane’s parents belonged to. With the library’s destruction, he was the last of their order.

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From the ashes

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The survivors rested in the dwarf god’s temple and prepared to continue exploring the rubble-strewn tunnels. Gith was studying the dragon scales he had collected, and found them to have various magical abilites. The scales were then distributed among the combat-ready survivors. After weapons, spells and gear were all ready, they advanced into the darkness. The combat incapable survivors hung back to allow the others to clear the way. A chamber along the way contained old statuary of saddened crusaders. Gith and Arava recognized the artwork as originating from the First Crusade, 91 years ago. As the group passed through, two squidlike darkmantles attacked from the ceiling.

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The darkmantles landed on Wase and Tane, wrapping crushing tentacles about their heads. After a brief scuffle, the subterranean predators were slain. After that was dealt with, Bendak’s pterodactyl heard a spell being cast down the hall. Tane listened closely and identified the sound as a Blur spell. Attempting to call on his newfound powers directly, Gith summoned his skeletal relative again. The survivors went down the tunnel and turned a corner into a cavern. They saw a ramshackle campsite and a maddened dwarf.

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The skeleton charged and clawed at the empty air. Hook stalked in sniffing for the dwarf. The dwarf suddenly appeared behind the skeleton and attacked. The paladin and druid charged, but their weapons were dodged and parried by the dwarf. The display of skill did not last long, and the mad dwarf soon fell to raptor claws. The team heard excited chatter from the room with the statues and rushed back to see what the commotion was. Avara was looking at the statues and considered them evidence one of his conspiracy theories. He believed the tunnels had been created by the mutant children of the First Crusade. The mutants had appeared as a result of their parents rushing into the Worldwound without care for the fiendish energies there. The grotesque, but otherwise harmless children had been taken as evidence of corruption and persecuted, escaping to catacombs under the city. At least, so goes the theory. No proof had ever surfaced. Gith continued listening to Avara as the others looted the room. A small statuette was found, and a brooch that Gith psychically sensed was important. Before the survivors moved on, Wase said a prayer for the dwarf.

The next discovery on the path through the undercity was a massive open chamber. A tower had been built here, but it had fallen in the quakes caused by the battle above. Several figures moved around underneath. The tiefling knight approached, and was met by creatures that made even him look normal.

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The Mongrelman mutants introduced themselves in common. The male called himself Lann, and the female was Dyra. Dyra’s face was too wracked by tumors to speak, so Lann spoke for both. They were trying to dig out a friend of theirs who had been buried by rubble. The survivors immediately moved in to save the mutant. Gith quickly made a plan that would allow the rubble to be moved without causing further damage, and then Wase moved the rocks with assistance from everyone else. The mutant under the rock was named Crel, and the trio were very grateful for the rescue. They offered to lead the survivors home. Haggard and lost, they gratefully accepted. Most of them anyway. Querm immediately began muttering about how you just can’t trust commoners, especially pitling freaks, and how the others had doomed the survivors to a knife in the back. Arava however was overjoyed to see the proof of his theory and immediately began pestering them with intrusive and unintentionally racist questions. Wase healed the pitling freaks as Gith talked his friend into dropping the questions for now and explained the disaster to the mutants.

On the way to the mongrelman town, the path was cut off by a 30ft deep chasm. The survivors considered how to get the wounded across. Bendak’s dragon scale allowed the creation of little clouds that could slowly lift things, and this was used for Bendak, his pets, Anexia, and Arava. The others used ropes, at least after Wase tried to bravely jump across and hurt himself in the process.

Next, the mongrel trio warned, there was a horrible and deadly plant monster that they call The Spore Coffer. The survivors gathered their strength for an epic battle and charged in. They found only a very dead plant and two human corpses. Wase stepped up carefully and found that while they looked like Iomedaen crusaders, their gear was slightly wrong and they carried symbols of the demon lord Baphomet. As this likely marked them as traitors to the cause of the crusade, Arava was happy to have another theory confirmed while Anexia was outraged. Arava wanted to drag the bodies along as evidence, and some others reluctantly indulged him.

Finally, after so long with monsters, psychopaths, and incessant barking cave spiders disturbed by the collapse, the group reached the underground town of Neathholm. In a dark way, it looked almost welcoming. Crude homes surrounded a lake. The surface-dwellers were quickly brought to meet the leader, Chief Sull.

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As Lann introduced the group, Querm finally burst. He demanded accomodations, hurled insults at the chief, and began causing a lot of trouble. Before the mutants lost patience with him, the entire group stood together to stare him down. Querm decided to be quiet then. The chief listened closely to the stories of what had happened above, and revealed that the mongrelmen wanted to aid the crusade. He promised to bring up troops from the Darklands even farther underground if the newcomers would prove themselves. He wanted the group to defeat a faction of mongrelman traitors nearby. Fortunately, the traitors were camped out in the same tunnels the group needed to exit. The survivors of course agreed. Gith noticed that the brooch he had collected seemed to be calling to him and got it out. On seeing it, Chief Sull slowly raised from his throne (A task made difficult by his considerable girth and deformities) and requested it. The brooch was his son’s. Gith offered to use his powers to find out what had happened, and Sull accepted. Gith saw that the chief’s son had fallen to the beasts of the tunnels. The chief grieved to hear of his son’s death, but was grateful for the closure.

The survivors were allowed to rest and do business in Neathholm. Bendak traded in his sickle and shield for a scythe with a blade forged to kill the demonic and new armor. Bendak also casually asked if the mongrelman had suit of studded leather sized and fitted appropriately for Hook. To his surprise, they did. Apparently a particularly unusual mongrelman had once worn it. Tane also took care of selling gear and making sure everyone was equipped as well as possible.

The next day, the group headed out to fight the mutant traitors. Arava, Anexia, and Querm followed, but stayed out of combat. They soon found the entrance to the enemy territory. Swoop the pterodactyl offered to go ahead and quietly scout, but Wase decided to try sneaking in. The first guards, stationed behind a choke point of barricades, immediately spotted him and sounded an alarm.

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The paladin tried to peacefully greet them, but knew from their raised weapons that they would not listen. Longsword raised, he charged into battle. Gith ran in and called his skeleton before ducking behind a barricade. He was then used as an impromptu springboard by the raptor to get atop the barricade. The raptor delivered a minor bite to one of the guards. It turned and raised its club just before being eviscerated by Bendak’s scythe. Two more mutants entered and charged the skeleton. In possibly the most unlikely tag team ever seen in the undercity, the paladin and skeleton worked together to score a kill. Tane jabbed and waved his staff at a mongrelman, who turned from the melee to scoff at the useless attack. A sharp pain in the gut promptly reminded him of the battle as he looked down from the distraction to see the raptor dragging his innards out and away from their rightful place as the world went dark. Despite the awful sight, Tane was at least pleased his trick worked. The skeleton finished off the remaining mongrelman as it chose death before surrender.

Several doors were available beyond the outer guard post. With his growing mastery, Gith compelled a door to open on its own. Behind it was what seemed like a living room. A table sat with various papers, figurines and footstuffs scattered about atop it. Suddenly, a woman with spider legs emerging from her body at random struck from hiding.

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She quickly proved herself the most dangerous enemy the survivors had faced thus far. Her skills and armor made her very difficult to hurt as she wounded Wase and Gith. Tane tried his distracting trick again. It nearly worked, but the spider woman was a bit faster than the previous victim, taking only a glancing slash from the raptor. Gith filled with righteous anger, and channeled into his mace. Gith then slew the woman in a single mighty blow. In her gear was another symbol of Baphomet. A sloping pit and a hole with a rope ladder were nearby. Choosing the slope, Wase lead the way and almost fell before Gith threw him a rope. Wase slid down the tunnel, and landed in right in a strange monster. An amoeba the size of a child latched on to his leg and began burning through his armor.

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The raptor began to charge as Gith readied a firebomb. Gith quickly demanded the dinosaur clear the blast range. Bendak called her back and threw a dart from a hidden sheath in his sleeve, wounding the ooze. Wase shook it off, but it continued to advance up the slope. Finally, it was brought down by the skeleton and melted away. The increasingly desperate team searched the pit for anything useful, not finding anything. Bendak cleaned the acid of the dart and reloaded it.

Next was the rope pit. Wase and the pterodactyl lead the way, Swoop clutching the unused bomb in his talons. At the bottom was another guard post, much like the previous one. Swoop threw the bomb as Wase charged and it sailed toward the enemy. Unfortunately, it missed and exploded harmlessly against the wall. Bendak was next down the rope as the raptor dug into his side to hang on. Bendak was very grateful for the mongrelman armor he had purchased. As Tane, Gith, and the skeleton made it down, the situation suddenly became much more dire. Wase was rendered unconscious and bleeding out as two more guards entered. Ben’s dart and the raptor downed one of the four guards, but unfortunately blocked the skeleton until Hook moved. Gith also opened fire with his bow and Tane conjured grease to make one of the guards slip. Even Swoop got in on the fight, pecking at victims. The dinosaurs crawled atop and killed Tane’s victim as the skeleton killed off the others.

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Book of the Fifth Crusade
Chapter 1

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It was a bright and sunny day in the crusader city of Kenebraes. Kenebraes had long stood vigilant against the demonic hordes crawling forth from the abyss known as the Worldwound in the fallen land of Sarkoris. A grand fortress called the Kite holds Kenebraes’ Wardstone.The Wardstones, so long as they are maintained, form a boundary that prevents the demons from running rampant over the world. It was Arodus(August) the 16th, the day of the Armasse festival. Here, the chivalric celebration is a welcome relief from the grinding loss and horror of the war. Today, a crowd stood by the facade of the city’s greatest cathedral, St. Clydwell’s, waiting for the opening ceremony to begin.

One among them, the human sorcerer called Tane, decided to try making conversation. “Hello, I…um…” Tane looked down to his fox familiar. Sadly, the fox’s charisma was all tied up in soft fur and nothing was left to start a conversation with strangers. As such, Tane just stood there awkwardly. A man wearing the skull of some predatory animal hesitantly turned to reply. A bipedal serpent the size of a dog hunched cautiously by his leg as a bat-lizard perched atop his head. “Hello.” In a tone not quite a question he added: “You are here for the knight’s ceremony as well.”The bat-lizard chirped curiously down at the fox as the serpent twitched its head to and fro, regarding the crowd with suspicion. Tane replied “Yes, I am here for the knight’s ceremony. A friend of mine was supposed to have a role this year, but… now he cannot. Tell me, how is it that you have two familiars? Does their cold-bloodedness allow the bond to use less arcane energy and this let you divide the flow among multiple animals?” An older elf carrying strange implements interjected as the masked man considered the question. “Actually, I believe they are two separate bonds. The larger creature, a Velociraptor, if I remember my zoological studies, is a reward for our druidic friend’s service to nature, and not a familiar at all. He must have learned some ritual to acquire the other one. A Rhamphorynchus, I think.” The elf may have continued if not for that a demonlike tiefling, who had by some twist of fate become a holy knight-paladin in the service of the noble church of Iomedae, nudged him as the ceremony began.

Lord Hulrun, ruler of Kenebraes, took the stand. He cleared his throat, but just as he was about to speak, a bright light shone from the west, as if the sun were rising from the wrong direction. Hulrun’s shadow fell huge and distorted across the cathedral’s facade. A moment later, the sound of a thunderous explosion ripped through the air and earth, along with a violent tremor.

To the west, the Kite had vanished. In its place, a brilliant plume of red fire, lightning, and smoke erupted into the heavens. A moment later, a powerful roar accompanied a welcome sight rising from the crowd-Kenabres’s greatest guardian, the ancient silver dragon Terendelev, who had until that moment been attending the opening ceremony disguised as a human.

Above, another form appeared, as nightmarish as the dragon was breathtaking. A humanoid shape three times the size of any man, with skin coated in fire and lightning, gripped a flaming sword and whip. The creature’s identity was immediately obvious: Khorramzadeh, the Storm King of the Worldwound, had come to Kenabres.

As the ground shook and disgorged demons into the streets, the dragon and the balor lord clashed above. The fight was over in a few harrowing moments, as the demon cut deep into Terendelev’s body, swooping down to strike the dragon and arresting her charge. A few more blows, and the titanic duo spiraled downward toward the crowd.

The sight of the dragon smashing into the facade of the Cathedral of St. Clydwell is one no witness would ever forget. At that moment, a titanic demon erupted at the far end of the plaza, reducing several buildings to ruins as it smashed into the world.

The rift it created shot across the plaza, angling away into darkness. Many were unable to escape. Even as they fell, the dragon noticed their plight. Though she saw death standing over her, she seized her final chance to save a few more souls. After she uttered a few arcane words and stretched out a bleeding talon, they felt her magic take hold of them, slowing their plummet into the darkness as if they were feathers falling into a pit. Yet the fall remained as inexorable, and as they drifted downward into the depths, the last thing they saw was the Storm King standing before the ancient silver dragon, his sword lashing out and cleaving full through her neck. As her severed head fell, the rift above slammed shut, and the light of the world above was gone.

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The survivors awoke in a cavern of smoke, rubble and pain. The four aforementioned were there and three others. The druid picked himself up and immediately began pulling rubble off his stunned creatures and helping them recover. The elf and the tiefling took stock of the situation and saw the other survivors as Tane recovered. His fox staggered over and he picked it up. Everyone had hazy memories and shell shock, and slowly recovered. There was also an elven wizard bleeding from the eyes, a human woman with a broken leg, and a mostly uninjured human nobleman who’s pomposity remained intact. There was also many corpses of those who had perished in the attack. On the far end of the cavern, a giant black widow twitched around, apparently feeding on the dead. The paladin checked on the wizard, finding that his eyes had been burnt out by taking a tendril of the balor’s whip to the eyes. He helped the wizard by stopping the bleeding and fashioning a makeshift blindfold. As he worked, the nobleman attempted to order him about with no real understanding of what to do. The nobleman got quiet when told about the spider. A makeshift leg splint and crutch was fashioned for the woman and introductions were quickly passed around. The masked man was Bendak (He also introduced his raptor as Hook and the pterodactyl as Swoop, named for obvious reasons), the paladin’s name was Wase, the elf was Gith-Fa-Rha-Ha, the wizard was Arava, the woman with the broken leg was Anevia, and the useless noble was Hogus Querm.

The group decided to deal with the spider. The group questioned each other to see who had combat skills. Anevia would have liked a good scrap, but her ruined leg kept her out. Arava’s blindness also kept him from helping beyond simple bolstering magic. Querm was of course willing to supervise. Wase was already on the front line with his shield and sword, while Bendak readied a sickle and his raptor. Tane had pacifistic beliefs that prevented him from injuring others, but not from aiding allies. Gith-Fa-Rha-Ha repeatedly tried to dissuade the others from the madness of disturbing a giant spider, but reluctantly took up his bow. The only reply he got was Bendak boasting he had seen animals back home with feet bigger than the spider. The group approached and noticed something strange. The movement was not coming from the spider itself, but from something inside. Two giant maggots emerged from the spider carcass and rushed Wase.

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Wase battled the grubs with righteous anger and fiendish wrath combined. Bendak and the raptor charged and received faces full of partially digested spider for their trouble. Gith took a shot, and then stayed well back. In a moment the paladin slew both grubs one after the other. One took a postmortem shredding from a raptor that apparently did not appreciate being vomited upon. The group gathered together and began making plans. Gith began writing about the rubble and psychic significance of things. Querm was intrigued and made obvious attempts not to show it. Wase took charge of the survivors, though Querm insisted otherwise. Arava seemed like a soldier. When he realized Gith was a fellow elf, he began asking him questions about his combat experience and tactics that Gith replied to with his own odd questions about the history of the magical items Arava had. Gith was an occultist, a student of hidden knowledge. The caverns seemed to be mostly subterranean areas that had been underneath Kenebraes all along and exposed during the Storm King’s attack. A nearby tunnel was open, so the party decided to explore. Some of Terendelev’s scales had fallen into the cavern and Gith gathered them up. A while down the tunnel, a side passage opened up into some fallen wreckage. Gith stepped away from the group to see what he could learn and was attacked by two 3ft long cockroaches.

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Throwing up his hands in panic and unknowingly summoning some power he didn’t know he had, he drew forth some of the bones of one of his ancestors that he had been carrying around. In a moment, they grew and knitted together into a complete skeleton that clawed at the roaches. Tane aided by shoving one of the roaches away with a blast of summoned water as the raptor and paladin raced over. The raptor brought down an insect with a talon to the brain and a reptilian snarl. Bendak made it into the fight as Wase sliced several of the remaining roaches’ spiked, clawing legs off. The raptor leapt over the party to try to get in on the kill, but missed its chance to Bendak.

After the battle, Gith and Querm recognized the skeleton as the remains of Githarahe, a deceased relative of Gith of some repute in Kenebraes. Undead are violent, evil creatures but this one seemed helpful at least. Bendak asked the paladin if he would tolerate the skeleton’s existence. Wase thought carefully and said that he knew of no rule compelling him to destroy it. A strange position for a paladin to take, but Wase had never been much for the details of his religious studies. The party continued down the tunnel. Ten minutes after being summoned, Githarahe returned to his original state. While walking past some rocks, the raptor bristled. Bendak called her over, then followed the raptor closely after ordering it to hunt down the disturbance. It sniffed over the rocks and zeroed in on a crack when a pale cave viper slithered out, territorial and angry.

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Bendak immediately called the raptor back and began cautiously approaching the snake, making strange hissing and clicking sounds. The snake slowly backed down from a strike, uncoiled and reentered its den. Bendak turned to his companions and noticed their surprise. He explained that he was a saurian shaman, a friend and guardian of all the dinosaurs and other reptiles of the world, provided with the skills and magic needed to facilitate his duties. He did not however, have absolute power over them, and advised leaving quickly before the viper became impatient and returned to deliver a venomous bite.

Next the party found a huge, secret chamber awash with green light. A very practical looking stone temple dominated the view. A tiny pool of glowing water was just outside. A loud buzzing above called out the presence of a seven-foot fly, the adult version of the grubs seen before. “A Diptera Gigantus!” called out Gith, not so loud as to attract its attention. “I thought it was a giant rotfly, is it not?” replied Bendak. Gith and Wase prepared bows to deal with the threat. Gith drew his bow and unintentionally channeled his powers again, launching a suddenly huge arrow and nearly pinning the fly to the ceiling. Wase then put it out of its misery.

Wase approached the temple and looked at the insignia but was unable to identify it. With carefully chosen words he managed to get Querm to help, having picked up on that the noble was at least knowledgeable about some things. Querm proudly announced that it was a temple to Torag, the benevolent but relentless god of dwarves. Bendak used a spell to test the water, and found that it was blessed holy water. It was gathered up in a few bottles. Anevia said that her leg was hurting too much to continue and asked for rest. Querm suggested that she was slowing the group down and should be left behind. They quickly degenerated into a shouting match, Anevia accusing Querm of abandoning his faith and Querm accusing her of fraternizing with thieves. Tane and Bendak tried ineffectually to stop the argument, Tane with reason and Bendak by snapping at them to shut up and mutterings about survivalism. Wase salvaged the situation with the force of personality paladins are known for, convincing the two to drop the argument for now.

Gith saw that the temple had been abandoned for some time, but whoever had constructed it down in the tunnels had obviously built it to last. The combat capable survivors carefully entered the temple to see if it could serve as a campsite. Inside was a dwarven man kneeling on the floor. Wase sensed evil and Gith decided to preemptively fire arrows. The figure turned to reveal his undead face and attacked, barely injured by the arrows. It could have been much worse, but Tane knocked him on his back by conjuring a puddle of grease under his feet. The party surrounded him and tore into the undead, but nobody could really hurt it as it slashed its diseased claws about seeking purchase in living flesh. Wase called on his divine powers and managed to punch through his defenses. The undead dwarf survived this, only to be finished off by an otherwise minor blow from Bendak a moment later. The party rested and reconsecrated the temple overnight. They felt the act granted them Torag’s favor, a welcome comfort in the horrific situation.

Note:Gith-Fa-Rha-Ha would like to protest the shortening of his name to Gith. It is offensive.

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