Monday 24 February 2014

Session 61 - Hall of Echoing Screams 3/6/1481 DR

Dunstan's Account
The group had just entered the secret passage towards the Dwarven catacombs and already, Dunstan’s boots were stomping almost joyfully. That feeling of re-connecting with his kind after such a long time away from it never failed to lift his spirits. Something to be likened to a good fresh mead after crossing a desert in full metal plate. Also, he was so happy that such a precious landmark had been unearthed. Imagine this: The shrine of Moradin and the final resting place of so many legendary and noble Dwarves… A few hours ago, he was not even aware of it, and now he was exploring its corridors, smelling the unrivalled fragrance of a well-built cave, hearing his friends’ clunking armours echoing on the carved stone of the arched walls, avidly reading the illustrious Dwarven names engraved in the plates in front of each cells…He could almost hear the clamours of his ancestors in an imaginary banquet, the laughter of the plump Dwarven Ladies and the shock of the wooden cups full of ale and mead... and it brought joy to his heart! If he was not walking in front of the group, his friends could have seen his beard uncovering a huge grin. But they probably have guessed his joyous humour anyway: he was walking with a spring in his step like if a spell of anti-gravity had been cast on his heavy armour.
Alturnus had undertaken a titanic task with the restoration of this site and he was carrying it out with a commendable constance and an heroic sense of purpose. After many plundering raids by the Zhents, the tombs were in tatters. And Alturnus took upon himself to come here day after day to reassemble the bones of the dead, draw one more time the shrouds on the corpses, salvage the personal items discarded by the Zhents and their exclusive greed for gold, and recover the dignity that the deceased earned many centuries ago.
Reflecting upon this, Dunstan’s mood progressively took a slightly graver (no pun) tone. His enthusiasm felt suddenly almost out of place and he found himself compelled to walk more demurely, which for a fully armoured Dwarf of his corpulence and demeanour, was almost an impossible feat.
The oppressing atmosphere seemed to take its toll on his companions as well. Paelias and Jareth’s banter was shockingly low-key and devoid of hedonistic innuendos and the oppressive silence of the place was slowly enveloping them all…
At that stage, Dunstan remembered the quick words muttered in confidence by the boat-dwarf Glasur’s buxom wife Freyja, right before they left the town council:
- “I have seen some strange things in the catacombs… some people appear there, but they are not among the living… Speak to no one that I told you this!”.
After diving deeper into the catacombs, the group finally arrived at the final grotto: the shrine of Moradin...
The place was very simple. The most luxurious inserts had already been stripped from the forge and from the anvil-shaped altar, and the ceremonial hammer that should be expected in such a place was, unsurprisingly, missing. But thanks to Alturnus’ devotion, large lumps of coal were glowing with a fierce amber in the forge, perpetuating the symbol of the omnipresence of Moradin. Finally, a gaping crack was visible at the back of the grotto, presumably where the mysterious kidnappers were coming from, in order to perpetrate their nightly raids...
Dunstan stopped at the threshold of the carved grotto, a bizarre feeling preventing him to walk any further. After all these years of braving dangers, the rest of his companions stopped instantly behind him, on alert for any signs of a threat… but to no avail.
Oblivious to being the only one able to observe this, Dunstan distinguished an ethereal shape forming in front of the Altar of Moradin. Barely visible at first, the smoky shape gained in density to eventually incarnate a very pale and semi-transparent female elder Dwarf, bowed towards the altar. In spite of the fainting colours, the Mythril and Ithildin threads were clearly shining in the embroideries of her robe, and a crown positioned on her white abundant hair was glistening with gems of a size that Dunstan had only seen in precious tapestries picturing the royals of Ammarindar.
Always prudent, he chose to put a knee in the dusty floor of the grotto and lay his hammer horizontally in front of him, the handle placed in the direction of his shield-hand to show his peaceful intentions.
The crowned apparition stood up and turned around towards Dunstan and his unsuspecting companions. Her face was beautiful in spite of the age, with delicate crows-feet framing her piercing blue eyes. As all elders, she sported a tightly-braided white beard hanging well below her belt, ornate with platinum and mythril rings alternated with precious pearls. She looked at him with a soul-embracing gaze and smiled gently, before declaring:
- “I am Helmma, Queen of the Dwarven realm of Ammarindar.”
Recognising the legendary figure, Dunstan promptly planted his other knee in the ground, removed his helmet and bowed his head.
- “My name is Dunstan of the Ironforge clan, and these are my friends and companions of adventure, from the Northwood manor. I am at your service, Queen Helmma!” he nervously declaimed.
- “Your friends cannot see me, I am afraid, nor they can hear me. For I have a mission for you, young Dunstan, and for you only.”
- “I will do my best to grant any request your royal highness might have!” replied Dunstan.
- “I have been trapped in the plane of the living and I cannot join my kind in the great hall of Moradin. All this because my sceptre was stolen: The Sceptre of Ammarindar !”
She marked a brief pause before continuing:
- “Bring me back my Sceptre and you will free me from this curse. So I shall at last rest in peace...”
The spectral figure smiled kindly again but her eyes couldn’t hide a deep sadness, before vanishing, leaving the room with only the glow of ambers in the forge and a stunned Dunstan on his knees.
-”What is that circus and lonely muttering, Dunstan? Are you getting senile already?” joked Paelias.
-”As long as he is not peeing all over the place…” replied Lirael, referring to a previous ‘incident’ in a different shrine.

Grimlocks and Mindflayers and Umber Hulks and Minotaurs...

When the axe stings, when the dire wolf bites, when I'm feeling dazed..
I simply remember my favourite things... 
And then I don't feel so Bloodied...

Quinn has necrotic flu left over from the Death Cyst, and retires to the local tavern for succour.
Group meets Town Council, Investigations in Adakmi questioning Stentorio Rivers, and others about the disappearances (to 3pm); Alturnus leads them into the Vaults of Splendarmorrn where Dunstan meets Queen Helmma's ghost at the Shrine of Moradin, she asks him to find the Sceptre of Ammarindar and place it on the altar shrine: 440 XP each
The Hall of Echoing Screams (total XP)
Feral Minotaur, level 16 elite brute - 2800
Umber Hulk, level 12 elite soldier - 1400
2 Mind Flayer Infiltrators, level 14 lurker - 2000
5 Grimlock Berserkers, level 13 brute - 4000
Commander Zaknoril, drow blademaster, level 13 elite skirmisher - 1600
Total: 11800/5= 2360 each
Watch Sergeant Marcus Dewarl killed by a mindflayer mind blast during the fight.
Return the Sceptre of Ammarindar to the Altar of Moradin, L21 minor quest: 800 XP each
Total: 3600+91000=94,600
Need 99,000 for 18th level

Monday 10 February 2014

Session 60 - Welcome Home. 31/6/1480-3/6/1481 DR

1480 DR

Shar brings the Heroes of Loudwater to her Pillars of Night, in a throne room once belonging to the deceased Arch-Devil Bel. Selune restores Sir Jorah to life, and blesses Pealias' amulet. The sister goddesses speak of a threat posed by Orcus and Szass Tamm of Thay, a prophecy by Lady Saharel of Spellgard that Szass Tamm will destroy them both. Shar tells Quinn that she will soon call upon Quinn to marshall her armies against Orcus in the Shadowfell. She will have great power, but never again know mortal love.
21/7/1480: The Heroes of Loudwater arrive back in the Gray Vale, interrupting Boris & Chera' wedding ceremony conducted by Halvath the Green Regent. There is much rejoicing.
Anwyn Pyro takes over management of the newly renamed Green Regent Tavern in Loudwater. Marsh Laval departs for Llorkh.
News - Sword Coast - The Luskan/Thayan threat to Neverwinter has been defeated by an alliance of heroes, at the cost of Vajra Safhar, Archmage of Waterdeep. Liana Arunsen becomes the new Archmage of Waterdeep.
Netheril and Thay are officially at war; a Netherese Flying Fortress bombards the borders of Thay, disrupting the ‘Shadow Road’ by which Thayan forces move through the Shadowfell to the Sword Coast.

News - Elturel – Undead host of ghouls and zombies issuing forth from Fort Morninglord  while the army of Elturgard besieged Iriaebor were successfully driven back by a hastily assembled Elturgard force led by the Paladin Princess Shaedra Kyatt, three of the Twelve Peers of Elturel, and the priests of Torm and Amaunator. King Pyvim orders the seals on Fort Morninglord strengthened.
Vaasa – In the east the Warlock Knights of Vaasa have bent the knee to a Balroch-Demon of Orcus that now commands Castle Perilous, ancient abode of the Orcus-Lich Zhengyi. Vaasa is now allied with Thay.
23/8/1480 DR - The Palace has today announced that Queen Esmerelda has today given birth to twins, a healthy boy and girl. The Palace has refused to comment on speculation regarding the hairiness of the infants' feet.
Esme names her children. Boy : Quartermain Tirios Marsh. Girl : Lirael Valeris Arya 

News - The Zhent-infested city of Iriaebor has surrendered to Elturgard. Elturgard turns her attention to the gnolls of Reaching Wood, while Cormyr besieges Darkhold, using powerful Ritual magic (similar to Forbiddance) to block the Zhents’ escape via the Darkhold Portal.
Lirael and Quinn (re)introduce Dolf Dragonheart and Amara deTrevani at a Northwood Manor dinner party. They successfully hit it off.

Pealias and Lirael's brother Arvis head east for Evereska, meeting the Eladrin and returning to Loudwater through the snows of winter, shortly before New Year's Day. Arvis is maturing into a capable Ranger.

1481 DR 

Hallomak Stromm and Archmage Liana Arunsen attended the funeral of an old wizard in Shadowdale.
Darkhold has fallen to Cormyr; some senior Zhents had already fled, probably east to the main Zhent lair near Westgate. Elturgard is campaigning in the Reaching Wood against the gnolls.
News from Elturgard – King Pyvim Kyatt has concluded a successful campaign against the Gnolls of Reaching Wood. The Twelve Peers of Elturel distinguished themselves in the campaign, slaying the Gnoll Warchief Gullclaw and his main cohorts, avenging Gullclaw's 1479 DR attack on Elturgard.
An earthquake opens rift to ancient dwarven halls of Splendarmorrn behind the Shining Falls, Adakmi.  A patrol sent to investigate does not return. Soon the disappearances start…  Adakmi send an emissary west to Loudwater seeking aid, the dwarf river pilot Glasur seeks out Lirael & co.  
1/6/81: Glasur reaches Northwood Manor as Anywn Pyro is helping her sister Lirael try on her wedding dress - wedding to Jorah Blackthorn scheduled for midsummer's day, 21/6/1481 DR.  
2/6/81: Lirael, Glasur and co travel east,spend the night with Lady Amara & Dolf Dragonheart at Castle DeTrevani.
3/6/81: Group reaches Adakmi.

The Proposal - by Kimberly Pauley -Lirael account M8 1480 DR

It had been some days now since they had returned from the depths but things had not yet returned to normal, at least not for Lirael. She felt unsettled, not least of which because of the strangeness that had come between her and Jorah. She had caught him conferring more than once with Quinn and strange glances had been passing between the two of them. It worried her. Was there something amiss? Jorah had been so quiet, even more so than usual, and almost distant. Had the Underdark – and death, however fleeting – changed him somehow? Changed them?

She had been wondering herself how to broach a sensitive subject with him. She needed him at the Manor – safe, where she did not have to worry after him. Too often in the depths of that hellish place she had found herself distracted (OOC: and rolling 2s!) on the battlefield, looking for him instead of concentrating on the battle. He was a brave fighter, no question, but his skills were so well-suited to being Steward. At Northwood, where he would be relatively safe. With all the news from around the Vale, things were not bound to stay quiet long. What if next time…she could not bear to think about it.

It was a conversation she was dreading, but Quinn or someone always seemed to be around. She had not had any time alone with Jorah since their return. Was he avoiding her? She was almost desperate enough to ask the Bard. Almost.

Then Jorah himself came to her. “Would you walk with me, Lirael?” he asked.

“Of course,” she said. She put aside her knitting and followed him into the quiet of the wood. It felt good to be out under the early evening sky and the air was crisp and cool. Everything felt so clean after being below.

They were silent as they made their way to a secluded clearing – a spot they had once snuck away to have a picnic in before the Underdark. Jorah led her to the center of it, where the new grass was soft underfoot. Without a word he dropped to one knee, then fumbled in his tunic to pull out a jeweled arrow.

“It’s for you,” he mumbled and then something about Quinn and advice and hoping she liked it. She barely had time for an exclamation of surprise before he was holding something else up to her with a shaking hand. It was an exquisitely delicate silver ring of two unicorns, touching horns. The moonlight seemed to kiss it with a ghostly radiance.

“Oh,” she said.

The words rushed out of him, out of quiet, taciturn Jorah. He spoke of fear and longing and death, of hope and life and longing, of building a future. His words finally stumbled to a stop with “I fear I cannot stay at Northwood if you tell me no; I have no heart for anything without you.”

Lirael took his hand in her own, entwining her fingers with his and closing them around the ring. She drew him up to his feet. “Stay,” she said. “Stay here with me, always.”

Lirael's wedding headdress
Lirael's wedding dress
Wedding Dress by nolwen
Lirael's bridesmaid dresses (Quinn, Arya, Anwyn as Matron of Honour)

Jareth - by Nick 1/6/1481 DR
Jareth reflected on the past year’s happenings as he strode between Northwood Manor and the barracks. Although there appeared to be no direct threat to the Wardship the recent news, from all sides, had been troubling. Still, there was plenty to look forward to in the coming season’s inevitable battles!

Reaching the tall double doors of the barracks, and acknowledging the sentries’ salutes, he looked up at the imposing two-storey building. With a training hall, small library and classrooms downstairs and three dormitories upstairs, one for each of the three watches, the whole place was always alive with two watches of eager recruits, training and learning within its confines. It was in to one of these three dormitories that he walked now, hefting the satchel he carried over one shoulder. As he entered, the sound of jovial banter subsided and the eleven resting guardsmen of the Blue watch leapt to their feet. “I have an announcement to make - come with me into the training hall,” he said, before turning on his heel and walking through into the training arena. The sounds of sparring subsided as he entered, with the others, forming up into a semicircle as the others put down their training weaponry to join them.

“I’m sure some of you will have heard about the recent disappearances in Adakmi,” he began. “The Warden has decided to send forth a party to investigate. I’ll need two volunteers.”
A sea of arms shot up.
“Marcus, and Feris,” he said, naming one of the watch sergeants and a lance-corporal after scanning the room. “Step forward…”

“I’ve heard the rumours - some of you have been wondering why we bother to train your minds as well as your bodies. What need have you of becoming lettered, why study the battles of times passed? Certainly, they have their lessons to teach - but filtered through the words of historians seasons later, who were never present - not quick with the essence of battle! That is why I am going to give you these.”

He reached into the bag, producing a pair of leather-bound books and giving one to each of the slightly confused-looking guards.

“Before your first missions, each of you will receive one of these. In them, you will record your victories for posterity. Leave out no detail - for there is no shame in any defeat but those we cannot learn from. When you return, the bards will have the richest sources of raw material with which to celebrate your glories! In time I hope we will amass the land’s greatest library of warfare, for this guard force is the start of something great, and I would not have that gathering of knowledge wasted! For those who fall, you will have a mighty bargaining piece to barter for entry into the Foehammer’s halls! For glory! For Tempus!”

The room dissolved into cheering and applause.

When the tumult had subsided, Jareth turned to his two chosen volunteers. “I’ll meet you in the arming room in a half-bell. There is much to prepare…

400 Meeting the Goddesses
400 Meeting with Lady Moonfire
400 Arya & Rylgoth, visit to Graywood elves
600 Paelias' quest to Evereska with Arvis
800 Lirael marriage proposal account
400 Jareth account
Need 99,000 for 18th level