Scales of War

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…

36 -- Mountainroot Temple
The heroes fought another group of thugs, dopplegangers, and well-dressed citizens who had psionic powers.Initially they came in as guards but they were acting strangely and Biatch didn’t trust them so she let out a howl from a catwalk and jumped down on one of the guards. Chaos insued but the Defenders of Brindol came out okay.

After some serious searching they found a trapdoor leading to a hallway and a small cell. Inside the cell was the real High Priest Durkik but he warned that the door was trapped. Elan feystepped inside to evaluate the trap and determined that it was nasty so she freed him from his chains and gave him water.

Durkik explained that he had been tortured and questioned about Mountainroot Temple but wouldn’t give away any more information until he was freed, lest the party be dopplegangers in disguise.

Rather than disarm the trap they looked for other ways to get Durkik out. They searched for a hidden key and asked the Red Wizards for a portal but didn’t have any luck. Then someone suggested that Gilbain could teleport Durkik out of the cell.

“I can’t do that,” Gilbain said, “it’s a divine gift to be used on my enemies. Besides, I can hardly see Durkik through the bars, let alone stick him with my sword.”
Longbreath saw the opportunity and planted the healing Banner of Brindol. “Everyone, concentrate on the banner so that it will heal Durkik.” Then he turned to Gilbain. “Gilbain, you have to use your divine power against me to teleport yourself into the cell and then use that power against Durkik.”
“I can’t do that,” said Gilbain, “that would be an misuse of…”
Longbreath interrupted, “Shut it! I don’t want to hear excuses. How many people are going to die because that dwarf won’t talk? How many have already died?”
“True, but I still won’t misuse divine power, even for a noble purpose.”
“Don’t give me excuses! You are pathetic. You were too weak and scrawny to cut it as a paladin so you took to reading and preaching, but you weren’t even good at that! You have no discipline, no honor, and no friends.”
“Hey, that’s just mean.”
“Mean? People are dying and you think I am being mean? You disgust me!” and with that, Longbreath pushed Gilbain.
“Don’t push me, lizard, back off.”
“Or what, Scrawny-man? surprised you can even hold a sword in one hand. You can’t hurt me, you can’t hurt a tough dwarf like Durkik. You are small and weak.” And Longbreath pushed him again.
“I said that’s enough!” Gilbain lept up and punched Longbreath in the eye, teleporting him such that he stumbled and fell into the barred door of the cell while Gilbain found himself inside the cell. Infuriated, he said, “And you, Durkik, you will tell us what is going on and how to stop it!” and he punched the poor dwarf squarely in the jaw, teleporting both outside the cell.

Gilbain stood panting while everyone else looked flabbergasted. Longbreath rubbed his swollen eye and said, “nice punch. I’m sorry about what I said. You know I didn’t mean it.”
“You meant half of it,” Gilbain replied bitterly.
“Maybe 10 percent of it.”
“I know you think I did the right thing but you are mistaken. There is a convenant between me and Bahamut that transcends mundane problems. I broke my oath. I will make penance and I will never do it again.”
“Then I am sorry for my part in that. But at least Durkik is safe.” Longbreath replied.

Durkik explained that General Ziruun wanted to know about the defenses of Mountainroot Temple and might have been after the Incunabulum Primeval. He didn’t know much of the defenses other than they are controlled by someone called “The Caretaker”. He asked the party to go to the temple to stop General Ziruun and to bring the book back to Durkik. The party agreed although they had some misgivings about retrieving the book and decided they might leave the book in the temple if it seemed safer there.

The party rested in the Stone Anvil and early in the morning went to warn the council of the doppelganger threat to Overlook. Durkik helped very much and the party was relieved that at least his voice would be trusted. Then Durkik showed them the secret door to the sepulcher which he had taken an oath never to enter.

35 -- Following Durkik
While the heroes were doing errands during the day to wait for nightfall, they found themselves in a seedy part of town. Instinctively, they became a bit more cautious. Then, while walking down one small street, Adren saw something and shouted a warning. Longbreath hear it too, and spat a cloud of acid at a group of ambushing thugs. They tried to form a defense, but Gilbain started to attack Elan!

Biatch and Elan focused on taking down Gilbain while Longbreath kept the thugs at bay and Adren picked off crossbowmen on the roofs. At first Biatch and Elan held back, unsure how much to hurt Gilbain, but then someone spotted a slumped figure around a corner and recognized him to also be Gilbain. Convinced that their enemy was a doppleganger, they tore into the impostor with fury. The rest of the attackers were soon dispatched as well.

Around midnight, Durkik left the Stone Anvil and briskly walked towards town. Adren followed from a safe distance and motioned for the party to stay out of sight. Durkik then ducked into an alley and a few moments later another dwarf emerged from the alley wearing similar clothing and walking in a similar fashion. Adren checked the dead-end alley and found it unoccupied so he continued to pursue the dwarf on the assumption that it was a doppleganger.

Eventually Durkik came to a warehouse. He went to the office door on the second floor, looked around nervously, and entered. The party carefully went up to the door and tried to sneak in but the warehouse was partially on alert. They fought thugs, two dopplegangers, and a dwarf wearing moderately nice clothes who had some sort of telekinetic powers. They defeated the enemies without much trouble but only had a moment to rest before being set upon by another group.


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