Scales of War

44 -- Paragon Adventures

The party is now 11th level and ready to try their new powers.

Elan and Gilbain met with Dirkuk and received a message from Longbreath to gather the Defenders of Brindol and meet him in Drellin’s Ferry. If they couldn’t assemble the entire group, they could trust Kaaz and Balinor to aid them.

Finding Balinor was easy. He made his whereabouts well known and frequently checked in with the city guard. Kaaz was more difficult. Nobody knew where he lived and different people couldn’t agree on his physical description.

Elan did not have the patience to track anybody down. “Durkik,” she asked, “self yonder and return when you have ascertained Kaaz’s postposition.”

Durkik did not appreciate being ordered around. “You have some gall Lassie, to stand here in Moradin’s house… MY house and bark orders at me like a servant. I am the most powerful and respected holy man in all of Elsir Vale and if you weren’t a lady and didn’t just git finished saving Overlook, I’d punch you in the nose!”

“Like you could reach my nose…” Elan murmured.

“What was that?” Durkik roared?

“Nothing. Since your ascendance is beyond my entreaties perhaps you could requisition a subordinate.”

“Perhaps you should stuff your entreaties in your backside. Now leave me in peace!”

“Fine. I will inquisit upon hoi polloi.”

Elan did not notice a Dragonborn worshipping in a corner of the church within earshot of her conversion as she walked up to a praying human. “Excuse. Me. Yes, you sir. You can go back to praying when you have answered my questions. Do you know a Dragonborn named Kaaz?”

“Uh, no, I don’t think so”, he replied.

“You don’t think so? Come on. Kaaz. Not a common name. At least not here and now. Three hundred years ago, a clan leader named Kaazr gained some small renown and predictably a generation or two honored him with variation of his nomincure. But today, while not odd or out of place, it certainly isn’t common. So think hard. Do you know of a Dragonborn named Kaaz? And please try very hard not to be confused by some long dead warlord.”

The man started at her blankly, “uh.. I don’t know any Kaaz”.

“See? That was not so hard. Thank you.” She turned to the next worshipper, the dragonborn who had been watching her.

“You, sir. You have been listening to me. Do you know a Kaaz? And please do not make me recount the history of Kaazr the Relentless.”

The Dragonborn did not pause but answered plainly with a bit of amusement, “yes, I do know Kaaz.”

“Splendid. Where may I find him?”, Elan asked.

“Right here. I am Kaaz”, the dragonborn replied.

“Resplendid. I have much to tell you but before I begin you must suffice my query. What can change the nature of a man?”

Kaaz looked very amused, an expression often misinterpreted on a dragonborn, but Kaaz communicated it perfectly and easily replied, “Ah, a subject near and dear to my own heart. I would love nothing better than to spend countless hours discussing this, but I must know… why do you ask this?”

Elan answered simply, “so that I may judge how far to lower my speech for you to comprehend it.”

Elan, Gilbain, Balinor, and Kaaz set off for Drellin’s Ferry to meet Longbreath. Elan summoned Eladrin Steeds for a shorter and more comfortable ride. As they neared Drellin’s Ferry, they saw a familliar sight: combat. A force had occupied the fortified island in the middle of the river and the town was organizing to reclaim it. Strangely, when the group was spied by some locals they started laughing and announced, “hey, look everybody! The Defender’s of Brindol have arrived on cue to save us!” There was more laughing and someone exclaimed, “I think we can handle it this time. Why don’t you watch from the tavern. We’ll be sure to call you if we need your assistance.” There was more laughing. Perplexed, the heroes went to the river bank to get a closer look.

The occupiers were wearing chainmail and a heraldic tunic worn inside out. The catapult was operational but hurling bags of ash. Anyone hit by the ash yelled, “oh! They got me!”, laughed, and lay down. Some of the “wounded” would dust themselves off and wander to the tavern. The heroes learned that a drill was going on. The town had been training hard and was practicing for an attack. Balinor was very interested and watched carefully, taking mental notes of areas for improvement.

Since the group was tired they chose to enjoy the comforts of the tavern. The owner provided free cheap beer to the Heroes of Brindol and their two friends.

Elan struck up a conversation with a tiefling cloth merchant and asked if he knew of Longbreath. The rest of the party cautioned her, reminding her that assassins are looking for Longbreath. She responded that the tiefling clearly wasn’t an assassin but they should keep an eye on the travelling eladrin.

Just as the exercises were ending and the tavern was filling up, the walls started to shake and the earth started to rumble. The patrons headed for the door but Gilbain used his super human speed to get out first to survey the area. The earthquake wasn’t local to the tavern, but all of the buildings in the area were shaking and a plume of smoke could be seen in the north.

Meanwhile, rafters were falling and floors collapsing. The untrusting eladrin mercenary (or assassin?) fell to the cellar. Kaaz jumped after her to give his assistance, but before he could say anything she glared at him and use feystep to ascend to the tavern room. Kaaz sighed, “so much for chivalry” and climbed the stairs.

Nobody was seriously hurt by the earthquake but the plume of smoke was causing concern. The heroes ran out to find the source and came across a red flow that looked like lava, smelled like acid, and was the color of blood. It burned and dissolved anything in it’s path, but shapes of creatures could be seen in the billowing smoke.

Note: running out of steam. The heroes win a fight against some odd and scary beasts from the elemental chaos. Elan takes a sample of tentacle from the horrible huge tentacle monster. They save a villager about to be drowned in hot acid death.

43b -- Heroic Epilogue

After the events in Overlook a sense of peace returned to the city. Defenses were rebuilt, mercenaries were left to escort trade caravans rather than patrol the walls, and a feeling of hope pervaded the atmosphere. The Defenders of Brindol spent two weeks resting in House of Sleep before the assassins started to show up.

The first assassins tried to slay Biatch while she was at a seedy bar. They didn’t expect the unsavory clientele to come to her defense. Apparently she owed them money and they wanted to protect their investment. Plus, few people have access to the the City Council and then get drunk and blab overheard secrets. The patrons couldn’t let a gem like her die so easily.

After the initial attempts the group was inclined to stick together. This really bothered Adren and Elan who were starting to feel some wanderlust. Then rumors of a large attack made it to their ears and they decided to split up and go into hiding.

Nobody gave specific details on their hideout. It was presumed that Adren would go to either the Northern or Southern forest to reunite with his clan. Or maybe persue his vendetta against Thorn. Or possibly investigate the whereabouts of Rathoriax who was last seen near the Northern forest.

Elan probably returned to Astrazalian. That might be the safest place in the realm, especially if she stayed while it returned to the Feywild.

Biatch would likely find a clan of Halflings to sail with. Or perhaps a cheap and dirty inn where her cash would buy her a lifetime of weak beer.

Nobody knew exactly where Gilbain would end up. Sanctuary in the Bahamut’s cathedral would be safe but some thought he would rather die than be locked up in a church. He might have gone to seek advanced training with Josseth but spending time with that zealot was just as dangerous as assassins.

Longbreath was against splitting up at all. He preferred to face the threat directly and united but he understood and respected the others’ wishes. He chose to stay in Overlook and accept a military title. Always in the company of soldiers, he never presented an opportunity for assassins to strike. He used his position to investigate General Zithruun, the mercenaries hired to attack Overlook (especially the Dragonborn), and the assassins.

Before saying goodbye, the party exchanged passwords, procedures, and seals to verify their true identity in case of spies, compromised messengers, or dopplegangers. Longbreath gave each of them a task to help solve some of the lingering questions… Why did Zithruun attack us? What became of him? Who do the assassins work for?

After many weeks, Longbreath sent messages for everyone to return to Overlook. Rested and trained, Gilbain and Elan returned. Gilbain was already in Overlook, perhaps he never left. Elan used a linked portal to instantly return. Once there they found a message left by Longbreath. It instructed them to gather the Defenders of Brindol quickly and meet him “where we planted a flag on an island”.

Elan and Gilbain waited three days but did not hear from Adren or Biatch so they gathered two new allies and decided what to do next.

43 -- Defeat of the General

The war council had come up with a plan to win the war. Reinforcements would be slowly coming in from all over Elsir Vale and since the enemy was at full strength, they would be starting a full assault. Dirkuk had learned a ritual from the Incunabulum Primeval to bolster morale for all defenders. The heroes’ job was to defend Dirkuk and the Stone Anvil until he could complete the ritual.

Out patrolling, the party found some freshly killed soldiers. Adren scouted ahead to and found some Dragonborn mercenaries behind the killings. They set up an ambush for the Dragonborn which worked very well until they were ambushed themselves!

Adren and Elan were perched atop a building out of harm’s way when they heard an unholy screech and the whoosh of flapping wings. They turned to see the undead dragon Rathoriax and his rider, General Zithruun.

Rathoriax breathed a cloud of death and poison at Adren and Elan. Adren jumped down and hung from the roof by his fingers to avoid the cloud but Elan started coughing and choking.

Then Zithruun jumped down, twirling his twin silver blades with the speed of thought. Elan, debilitated by poison, could not defend herself but she instinctively stepped through the fey realm and into a nearby building across the alley. Adren swung along the roof to avoid the blades and when Zithruun pursued, he jumped twenty feet down.

With most of the party finished off the Dragonborn, Gilbain flew up to the roof to engage Zithruun. It was an epic battle of blades and skill but the general was a veteran of countless wars and remained standing but hurt while Gilbain lay unconscious and bleeding on the roof.

Rathoriax was too large and ungainly for the roof and swooped down to pick off the ground targets. His favorite tactic was to know down his opponent with a powerful slash and turn to face another opponent while slamming his monstrous tail down on his prone enemy.

With the Dragonborn down the party concentrated on Rathoriax and were hurting the huge beast so Zithruun telekinetically stepped down from the roof to help his undead companion. He was a shrewd and wise general, but had suffered too many disgraces in his life so that when the odds were against him, he chose to fight to the death rather than suffer another unbearable humiliation. When he died, Rathoriax gathered his body and flew off.

The party felt mixed emotions of Rathoriax’s flight. On one hand they wanted to defeat such a powerful and evil beast, they wanted to ensure Zithruun was really dead, and they wanted to claim his body as a prize. On the other, half of the party lay bleeding to death and they were afraid the undead dragon would finish them all. The conscious party members wondered what would become of the dragon, and of Zithruun. Longbreath speculated that the dragon would reanimate his master as revenge and to keep himself company for the rest of eternity. The rest of the party shuddered at the thought of an undead Githyanki general plaguing Elsir Vale for eons to come.

With the Stone Anvil safe, the ritual was completed and all inhabitants of Overlook became brave and calm and knew Moradin would protect them and bolster them through the attacker’s assault.

42 -- Trouble with Trolls

(I wrote this up once but forgot to save it. That was a month ago! Grrr)

The party was looking for trouble and found it when a section of outer wall collapsed and trolls started pouring in. The city guard rushed to stop more trolls from entering but a half dozen were already in and it was up to the heroes to stop them!

The heroes prevailed but were beaten and bloody. They wanted to help the guard but were too hurt themselves, so they returned to their barracks for some healing oils, warm beer, and a nap.

41 -- Council of War

The party explored the makeshift house in the large chamber and found a Deva chained to a bed frame. He had been tortured nearly insane but after half an hour of healing and calming he was able to speak. He explained that the general had tried to coerce control of the Temple from the Caretaker, primarily the astral portal. The Caretaker had not relinquished complete control, although some of the temple defenses had been compromised. When the Caretaker was woken up, the normal entrances were unlocked and General Zithruun had fled.

Before the party left, they helped the Caretaker perform a ritual to cleanse the temple and asked about the Incunabulum Primeval. The Caretaker did not like to see the book leave Mountainroot Temple but since the high priest of Moradin needed it, he was willing to part with it.

A secret door behind a statue led to a treasure room inhabited by some harpies and slain Fey. The harpies explained that a cloaked man came in, slew their friends, grab and convenient treasure, and left through a secret door. The heroes followed the secret door and left the temple.

Back in Overlook they were immediately summoned to the council. Being tired, bruised, and distrustful they demanded to see Dirkuk himself. In time Dirkuk arrived and escorted them to meet with the high council. They stood with the high council on the tall dias and described their experiences.

Incidents in and around Overlook combined with the intelligence provided by the party revealed that Overlook was being threatened with immediate attack. Soon there were reports of fighting in the streets, a missing council member, and a horde of trolls and other creatures massing at the wall.

The party left to search for the missing council member when they saw smoke and fire. Investigation revealed three ghoulish creatures flying around dropping fire pots on wooden roofs. The party engaged but found that the berbelang could create copies of himself. Between that and his ability to fly, the heroes had a tough fight on their hands. In the end they were able to defeat the creature and kept the burning from spreading to more than few houses.

40a -- Subplot Recap

Since the gaming sessions have been spotty, I thought it might be helpful to recap some of the subplots. Here’s some things off the top of my head:

  1. What is General Zithruun doing here?
  2. What is the sense of impending trouble in Overlook?
  3. What is Amyria up to?
  4. Why did Thorn answer the sending stone when trying to contact Reness?
  5. How is Greystone holding up? Did the dwarves clean it up? What came of the visit paid by the Astrazalian mage?
  6. What foul attacker is making plans for Drellin’s Ferry?
40 -- Fight at the Museum

The heroes investigated the door and found a makeshift supply room guarded by two fey dwarves who ordered the party’s surrender. The party refused and instead allowed the dwarves to drop their weapons and live. The dwarves were last seen in the entry room.

Then the party investigated an area with sleeping cots, a library, and a forge. Two animated anvils attacked but were dispatched. The forge was the source of a blinding magical trap.

Next came the kitchen and dining rooms. There were dead bodies of fey creatures evidently killed by trolls.

Finally the group climbed the stairs leading to the reliquary. The doors opened onto a corridor with stairs leading to a platform in a large room. A hooded figure wearing a strange harness flew off the platform and left the field of view.

Then a large fight ensued. Trolls, dragonborn, and human mercenaries fought the party while some sort of living statue protected them. When they were all defeated, the statue assumed a frozen meditative stance.

After some reflection, Longbreath thought the hooded figure that others called General Ziruun might be the Githyanki general Zithiruun. He told the party, “General Zithiruun was a great military leader and hero to the githyanki of Tu’narath. It’s said that he was crippled and his mount slain in a battle against a sort of mighty dragon or fiend. Rumors disagree on whether he still lives and what position he might hold (if any) among the weakness-intolerant githyanki.”

39 -- Rest in the Crevice

The heroes killed the foes and the looted the corpses to find some potions of acid and fire resistance. Sneaky trolls. They were tired and decided to rest for a few hours in the crevice breaking into the room. During the rest they heard noises but weren’t significantly interrupted.

Feeling better, they explored another room broken into by the crevice. It housed a number of fey creatures—two fey dwarves, four cyclopes, another dart blower, and an old dwarf that later turned out to be a disguised hag. The battle wasn’t too bad except when one of the cyclopes beat on a pillar holding up the ceiling and almost started a cave-in.

The fey had valuables, but most importantly, the hag was carrying the Incunabulum Primeavel. It was written in an old dwarven script. Biatch could make out the letters and translate some of the worlds but most of the book was written in a cypher. Some of the diagrams led Elan to believe that rituals were contained in the huge book.

38 -- Three Way Fight

(It’s been two months since the session and I don’t remember the details well.)

The group went through the heavy doors to the north and found themselves in a giant cathedral, larger than most buildings. There were three levels with an altar on the top level. Large pillars ran to the ceiling, some collapsed.

As the party moved in, a small fey creature jumped out to backstab Gilbain. Other fey creatures around the room blew poisoned darts, and a fey dwarf came out to join the fight. The fey creatures were very fast and would run far to take better positions. Every so often another fey would jump out of the shadows to help.

During the combat, a loud pounding could be heard on the doors far across the room. After a minute of ever increasing banging, the doors splintered open and a horde of trolls led by a two-headed monster crashed into the chamber. The fey fled from the trolls, who killed indiscriminately. Elan put up a fire wall to slow their advance but soon there was a three-way brawl in the middle of the room. The trolls were tough but easy to hurt. The biggest problem was keeping them dead. After being “slain” they would shake it off after a minute, stand up, and continue fighting. Fire and decapitation seemed to help.

37 -- Into Mountainroot

The door to Mountainroot Temple was blocked by a thin metal wall. When touched, the wall grew a face that said only devoted followers of Moradin could enter and challenged each of them to tell a parable describing Moradin’s principles. Most of the party had no trouble with a little coaching from Gilbain, but Biatch didn’t get it. She talked of killing and smashing and blind loyalty. Eventually the door let her through saying that she seemed to be a good mercenary and loyal to the cause of her group even if she didn’t understand the cause herself.

The door was a portal that opened into a large chamber. One wall has collapsed somewhat from an earthquake and there were doors leading to other portals. Some fey dwarves and harpies were in the room and quickly attacked. The party fought well but suffered some damage. They considered returning through the portal but found that it didn’t work to go back! So they bravely carried on…


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