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Catt’s 4E: On to Albridge

September 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Previously in Winterhaven…

At Lord Padraig’s behest, the party had descended into an ancient tomb below Winterhaven Keep in an attempt to escape the siege and get help from his adventuring companion of old, Dar Gremath in Albridge. They defeated the traps, undead, insects and monsters within the tomb, but the collapse of the tunnels behind them has made retreat to the Keep impossible. At the well-protected heart of the tomb, they find an ornate sarcophagus surrounded by bas-relief murals of mythical heroes known as the Wandering Warriors – and two stone guardians who stand as the tomb’s final defense.

The Heroes begin this session at Level 2 / 2083 XP

And now…

After a rest to regroup, restore Aranthis to full health, and rejoin Belhorn to the group, the party once again made an all out assault on the stone guardians of the sarcophagus – with Belhorn even climbing atop the bas-relief itself for an aerial assault. The dwarves dug-in to withstand the guardians’ blasts that threatened to knock them from the tomb’s dais to the pit floor 60’ below. As each of guardians was finally defeated, it crumbled into rubble. The heroes then found that the sarcophagus was completely sealed, without even a seam indicating a lid. For all practical purposes it was a solid block of veined white marble with a bluish caste, impossible to damage. But as Dau’um, a follower of Pelor, took the pedestal the eyes of the figure on the lid slowly opened and turned to him. “Speak my name” it whispered. Thereafter, the chamber grew still.

Recalling the legends from the Chronicle of Ages, Soklo was able to piece together that the fifth wandering warrior, Prator, was depicted in the scenes around the room – most telling was the bas-relief of a paladin type figure entering the gates of hell and the stories that denoted him as the “blue” warrior. As Dau’um spoke the name “Prator” a bright blue light circled the sarcophagus lid, revealing a seam. Within the sarcophagus they found all that was recovered of the hell-bound Prator; a heavy set of plate armor with a thin layer of frost on the edges, a heavy shield that was dented and bore a cold blue burnishing, and a pewter box inscribed with ancient runes and sealed with melted tin. Cedric took up the armor and shield and Akhan gingerly secured the box. Aranthis was able to attribute the runes to the Queen of Chaos and, after some deliberation, Akhan pried off the top. Inside he found a segment of rod, about a foot long, bearing a strong impression of latent magic, but otherwise unadorned.

The Heroes achieve Level 3 / 2250 XP!

Collecting their prizes, the heroes retraced their steps to the ossuary and elected to chance venturing into the grick tunnels. After what seemed like days of travel through the winding, dark and cramped tunnels and overcoming a number of obstacles, they emerged into the bright light of mid-day – and luckily found themselves much closer to their objective, Albridge. Looking toward Albridge, they spied a pillar of smoke climbing into the clear blue sky. Hurrying to investigate, they found a farm with a burning out building. The cause of the fire was clear, since the farmhouse was surrounded by wolves and human brigands. The brigands, who were all wearing black cloaks that bore a crude circle insignia, were waving pitch-soaked torches and taunting someone inside the farmhouse.

The heroes rushed to the aid of the farmers and defeated the brigands – finding that more than one had his tongue cut out. From the farmhouse Ilyana, a half-elf woman of middle years accompanied by her two teenage boys, greeted her rescuers. After looking around the farm yard and frowning at the bloodshed, she kicked at the corpses and spluttered “My thanks, strangers. These Iron Circle jackals come to rob us. I barred my door, but they said they’d burn the house down – with me and my two idiot boys in it! You saved our lives and for that you’re welcome to rest here. If you venture on to Albridge, be careful. Find Dar Gremath or Reithann. They lead the resistance against these dogs.” Along with a few other odds and ends, the heroes collected the black cloaks from the slain brigands.

Continuing on to Albridge, the heroes found that the small town was occupied by Iron Circle mercenaries. Donning the black cloaks, they bluffed their way through Albridge and continued on, unmolested, toward Reithann’s Druid Grove north of town.

There they found a large grove of ancient trees, long separated from the forest proper and an old human druid, Reithann, living in a moss-covered lodge near a clearing in the center of the grove. With her were her apprentices Lorel (a Halfling woman) and Theren (a young human man). Reithann was firmly on the side of the rebels and believed that the first blow should fall on the bullywugs of Toadwallow Marsh. “They’re unnatural creatures, and they’re preventing Tor’s Hold from joining Albridge in open resistance.” She also advised that the elves of the wood might be persuaded to join the fight, if they could be found. The heroes decided to aid Tor’s Hold and asked for a way to identify themselves to the rebels. She gave them her symbol scratched onto white tree bark and described the route the Hold and Toadwallow Marsh beyond.

When the heroes returned to Albridge they found a host of mercenaries gathered near Dar’s stable as a result of some disturbance on the north edge of town. Impersonating mercenaries themselves, Aranthis engaged a few of the mercs and found that an uprising and skirmish had occurred near the edge of the wood. After securing an extra cloak for Akhan, the party approached Dar’s stable and quietly displayed Reithann’s symbol. With a bit of bluff and bluster to put on a show for the mercenaries outside, the party secured Dar’s aid in the form of horses and, despite his protests, bade him to forestall an outright attack on the mercenaries.

With that the heroes were on their way to Tor’s Hold, where they were welcomed by Bran Torsson and his own sons and treated with great hospitality. After a restful night and securing stabling for the horses, they set out to trace a tributary of the Winter River into the marsh and toward a large cavern.

In the face of a vine covered hill, they found the mouth of a cave atop a 10-foot waterfall that gushed into the stream they were following. As described by Reithann, they had found the entrance to the Toadwallow Caverns, The ground near the base of the hill was spongy, and clouds of insects harangued them. Scouting ahead, Akhan found that the cave mouth opened into a dank chamber. Behind a thick patch of fungus atop a pile of offal, he found two crouching froglike humanoids apparently keeping an ineffective watch. They wore poorly fitting leather armor and carried crude spears. Reporting his findings to the group, the heroes decided to try to lure the frogs out using Soklo’s bear as bait. When the bear presented itself at the cave mouth, the frogs drove it off and at the mouth of the cave were effectively ambushed by the party. Despite some reinforcing frogs and stirges, the party handily put down the monsters.

Peeking further into the cavern, Akhan found that a large dragon skull dominates the center of the cave and he heard numerous creatures shifting in the shadows. He suspects that they are well aware of the party’s incursion and are lying in wait.

The Heroes are Level 3 / 2605 XP! (522 XP this session)

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