Tempest Rising

Dead eyes
Or-- Faulty tower

649034.jpegThey took off through the swamp toward a watch tower that overlooked the Castle — where they believe the dragon is.

Our heroes set out to find their way to the watch tower that overlooked Bar Omaro. They were being watched by undead birds as they workload through the marsh, which was unsettling. They tried to kill one, and it proved tougher than they thought. When they applied real pressure (via fireball) it exploded into a swarm of smaller undead crows.

After that, they decided to let them be. And to take a more roundabout path to the tower.

Later, they were attacked by an undead crocodile lurking in a stream. It did not prove to be too much of challenge, but they got the feeling that someone — or something — was keeping an eye omniscience’s their progress.

When they reached the tower, nothing had really changed since they had been there in the winter. Leaving behind a door, they entered  through a gap in the tower’s wall. Inside they found a chamber heaped with the trappings of House Omaro. In the corner was a decaying female figure in ancient Omaro armor, with a cloth tied over its eyes. Boomah immediately recognized it as an effigy of Celeste and scurried over to look closer.

That is when a green mist of incorporeal faces rose up from the debris, shaking them and trying to drain their blood. The priests tried to channel at the undead horror, but quickly realized the area had an unholy blessing. Dremahl reversed that, while the others worked to dispatch the drocha swarm.

Meanwhile, something in the rafters above was firing web bolts down on them. Remembering the undead ettercaps that formerly commanded the place, Boomah rushed forward with a fire trail spell, burning the swarm and a number of webs dangling about.

Dremahl had cast Sunlight on his shield, and driven the creature out of the chamber, and Boomah was at the top of next stairs by himself. They braced themselves for a fight.

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The roots of all evil
Or-- Good dog

61043740014d865a9ddb3686c6a904b7.jpegFresh from dispatching the infernal hounds, and convinced they had scoured the Erarohn form the ‘dragon’ threat, our heroes chose to rest in the upper chambers of the ruined hunting lodge. The night passed without incident and they set off toward Bar Omaro at first light.

They trudged through the wetlands all morning, and rested as the baking sun reached its peak. As they walked, they had seen old goblin territorial signs showing that the Shadow Claw clan had been in the area in the past couple months.

After the worst of the heat of the day passed, they continued their march. They saw more goblin signs, but no goblins.

Boomah and Saerin were on point when the ground around them began bubbling and gurgling. Several humanoid shapes that seem to be composed of roots lurched out of the earth and attacked. The sap that oozed form the creatures weekend and disoriented our heroes. One rooty abomination let out a howl that further confounded the group.

Celeste summoned a hound archon to hold the center, and Luix stood fast, while the others fell back to shake off the ill effects. It became obvious that all of the enemies were connected together by thick vines, and may have been communicating through them.

The tide was shifting as one-by-one the man-like tubers fell, when the fetid swamp water stated flowing into a hole in the clearing ahead. The mandragora snapped their tethers and fled as long spindly legs appeared from the depths of the sinking hole. It was a spider that rivaled the size of an elephant.

It bounded forward, lithe for its size, and closed with the archon. Its bite was viciously poisonous, but the celestial withstood its initial assault. Luix joined it, and the two faced off against the monster. The rest of the party threw everything they had at it — fireballs, bombs, arrows and more. The archon teleported behind the beast to set up flanking possibilities, and the ranger landed a mighty blow that brought the beast down.

Looking around for further danger, they spotted a small creature hiding in a dead tree at the edge of the clearing. Celeste sent the hound to investigate, and when it teleported to the tree, they all saw the small creature drop to the ground.

Boomah flew over to see more, and found Rokkemuk, chief of the shadow claw clan, lying in the muck.

Undaunted, the chieftain demanded tribute for the party’s trespass upon his land. They did so, offering food and repairing his gear. He told them that he was all that was left of the Shadow Claws,m as his ‘beautiful bride’ had betrayed them and enslaved them all to a dark maiden and their draconic master. The maid met the description of their old comrade Phaed, whom they had not seen for several months.

He added that his tribe had been given over to undeath, as had, Stormseeker, and they had joined Phaed to free a dragon from bondage under the castle.

This reinforced their commitment to find out what was happening at the castle. Rokkemuk refused to join their quest, as he needed to stay and defend his tribal lands. They spent the night in the many hollows of his tree, and set out in the morning toward Celeste’s family estate. They hoped to make it to the crumbling watch tower that overlooked the keep before the sun fell again.

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Hot dogs
Or-- Fire in the hole

Hell_Hound_01.pngOur heroes, hot on the chase, followed the flaming hounds to a smaller building on the far side of the grounds. The creature fled inside, but the group pulled up short and surrounded the bruin, with the goblin flapping his dragon wings above it.

Luix and Dremahl were enveoped in a gout of flame that shot out of a gap in the wall. Boomah could see that the hounds had jumped to the second story of the torched building, and dropped cold bombs on them through breaks in the thatch. Then he summoned a swarm of wasps in an effort to force them out of their shelter.

This seemed to have worked, as the smaller hound leaped out of a gap in the roof and dropped on Celeste. The larger hound followed, and landed next to the ranger Saerin. It lashed out with its claws and fangs, and the elf dropped to the ground.

Dremahl channeled divine power and kept the ranger and the oracle in the fight. Kallius tried to stop inside the ruin to flank the monstrous beast, but fell into a spring-mounted pit in the floor. He had a feather fall prepared for emergencies, and soon was rocketing out of the pit.

Luix had dispatched the smaller hellhound by then, but the larger one latched on to Saerin again, bringing him to the brink of death when he tried to tumble to safety.

The creature was delighted with the destruction it had wrought, even though it was suffering from dozens of wounds. At this point Celeste brandished her rod of flame extinguishing and spiked the remaining hellfire out of the beast.

With the enemies defeated, they turned their attention to the pit. The bundles of burnt rags on the bottom that Kallius had spotted turned out to be the remains of tortured people. But they had returned from the grave as smoking corpses spouting flame. Our heroes kept a safe distance from these new abominations and destroyed them from range.

pata.jpgOnce defeated, Boomah went down to examine their remains. Among the burnt wreckage the found a gauntlet emblazoned with a single ram’s horn. Experimenting, they discovered that you could command as long sword to appear from the gauntlet on command.

Turning to the remains of the hunting lodge, they found little that was not destroyed. On a hearth mantle, they did find two surviving spear heads with scorched shafts, one allowed you to pass without trace in forested areas, and the other conferred the favored terrain ability to its wielder.

They also found a stack of scorched bodies in a rear building, mostly woman and children. They had been burnt until nearly unrecognizable, but not all of them had been killed by fire.

Determining that it was too late to march out into the dearth-infest marshland, they decided to spend the night at the lodge.

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On a Wing and a Prayer
Or-- Murder, she crowed

murdercall1.jpegOur heroes gathered and Dremahl cast the Plasmic Pedigree spell on Celeste. They confirmed that she was close to the head of Omaro family bloodline, and that there is indeed golden dragon blood in her veins. They also learned that she has a younger half-brother to the south and east, in the Baorn-held region that was once the town of Chalced.

Not knowing a nearby source for a large amount of gold dragon blood, they decided to shelve that problem and face the more immediate concern or a possible dragon scourge in the Erarohn.

While they rested, two foragers appeared at the gates with wild tales of fire and death. Guard commander Stieve sent a messenger to the group to hear these stories first-hand, as he was concerned that the two might disappear into the Oxenhold and never be heard from again. The two men, Furrow and Fenn, claim they had come across a number of horses on a trail that has been torn to pieces, and burned with some kind of unearthly fire. They also had a scorched and bent piece of shoulder armor carved with the ram-horns of House Kapra. This family is not known to have local holdings, but members had arrived with the newcomers in the Spring.

With a desire to view the scene before it was overrun by curiosity seekers and would-be dragon hunters, the group gathered their belongings and sent off. They tramped for a day through the swamp, noting that is was eerily silent. They also spotted a crow seemingly paying closer attention to them (and, apparently, undead), but they chased it off. Either it came back, or there was more than one, as this repeated itself throughout the afternoon.

They eventually came to the spot of the attack, and indeed found a warhorse and three smaller pack horses torn apart by claws and burned by eldritch fire. They noted that the horses were going toward town when they were brought down. They also looked into the trees to see if the fires had started from above, and if the canopy was broken by a plummeting dragon. It was not.

Boomah paced out scorch marks to determine size, and they also discovered signs of two small chests being drug away from the scene.

Meanwhile, more and more of the otherworldly crows had arrived on the scene, and one dropped to pick at a horse carcass. When they threw a rock at it, the others flew into a frenzy and dropped on Luix and the warhorse. He struck with his flail, but it did little damage against the tiny undead birds. Boomah tossed a bomb into the fray, and Calls followed with burning hands. Finally, the priests channeled their gods’ might at the swarm, and the horde of tiny beasts were dispatched back to hell.

Scanning around, they saw a slim line of smoke rising above the trees. Unfortunately, Luix had been struck blind by the crows and they could not heal him until dawn. So they made camp.

The night passed in eerie silence. In the morning they restored the big northerner, ands struck out for where they had seen smoke. After a couple hours march they came across a ride trail in the marsh. Following it, they soon saw the scorched and broken timbers of a hunting lodge in a raised clearing. The trail came to two raised cairns that marked the entry to this rustic retreat. Seeing no immediate threat, they crossed the threshold of this unmarked complex.

Suddenly (as these things happen), marshy ponds and muddy low-spots erupted into action as nine lemures — the lowest denizens of the Hells — crawled out of hiding and began to lurch toward the party.

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Boxing Match
Or-- Are you the Key Master?

hellraiser_lemarchand_puzzle_box_by_destro2k-d7z01uc.jpegBased on the info gained from interrogating the drakes (both living and dead), our heroes decided to run out and tell Uncle Griza what was going on. Not finding him at home, one of the Redmond brothers directed them to the Three Keys, a formerly grand tavern and noble boarding house. They found the place darker and less respectable than they remembered, with a number of liveried bodyguards milling about the outside. Inside, they found that Patr ren Acero was still managing the place, and he welcomed them (as long as they kept a close eye on Boomah).

Looking around, the room was filled with darkened corners and curtained alcoves and many indiscretions being performed. Using his urban ranger skills, Saerin discovered an alcove where Griza was playing a game with strange stacked tiles. Not surprisingly, he was winning.

The elves joined the game, along with Griza and a trio of unknown compatriots, and they played one round. Griza pushed up the bets quickly, and when the round ended the other players bowed out.

Alone, they order fine wine and explained the updated situation. He told them they had probably not acted judiciously by calling out the Valessan, and perhaps they should keep more professional distance. He encouraged them not to take direct action against the foreigners and to just assume they are being spied on from now on. As proof, they found a maid ‘cleaning’ the out alcove after the conversation, and watch him casually cast memory modification on her.

The next morning Boomah and Kallius went to the Tower of Secrets to open the thrice-warded key. The magus managed to defeat the outer lattice withe the aid of a mage hand. He was acid burned by the second box, but managed to combine magical efforts to send the pin unerringly into the second box, unlocking it.

The third box proved a stumbling block . Every time he tried to unfold the box into a specific shape it would do so, but never seemed to open. Boomah used the lens to try and see through the illusion — and was subsequently teleported from the chamber. The elf struggled through a few more attempts before declaring he would disbelieve. This shattered the illusion that there was a puzzle box at all, and he found himself holding a wooden cube with the phrase “The Key is Always Within You” carved into it. Armed with this knowledge, he climbed the stairs to the inner sanctum of Seius’ tower.

A small library held several magical tomes, and a stand with the holy book of Seius — ’A Glimpse of the Truth’ upon it. The book contained any spell he served, and the Kallius retrieved the Plasmic Pedigree and copied into his own spell book.

Further reflection revealed that it would be best for Dremahl to cast the ritual, so the two returned to the shrine of Methys and the rest of their group.

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Subdued dragon
Or -- Speaking with a forked tongue?

drake.jpgFollowing the shadowy dragon shape, Boomah took to the sky and Kallius followed along as bets he could. Celeste summoned an air elemental, and it kept a better eye on the fleeing creature better than the humanoids.

They were blindsided when a second drake appeared from the shadows and breathed stygian fog at them. The tiny beasts tried to keep distance form their pursuers, but it did not take long for our heroes to catch up. Kallius slashed out with his magically charged rapier and sent one crumpled to cobbles below.

The other turned to flee again, but was stuck fast by the goblin’s adhesive spit. Unable to escape, they bundled the creatures up and returned to the shrine of Methys.

Once together, they interrogated the survivor. It refused to discuss its master, but was willing to speak on other subjects. It confessed that it was sent to spy on them, but did not know why. Previously it had spied on prominent locals, since arriving on a ship from the old world. It never attacked on behalf of the master, just listened and reported. They chose not to kill the little spy, but they did alchemically glue a bell to its tail, and sent it back to its master.

Then they interrogated the dead one. They learned that the master was a Valessan named Pinion, and he was staying at estate called Bar Vigla. It did not know the Valessan advisor to the prince, but thought that the tow had some connection.

This was expanded by Ebn, who is also present — and Valessan. He explained that his people worship abstract ‘Virtues’ for productive, successful living, and that it is speculated that there is a secretive heresy that believes these virtues did not originate with humans, but with dragons.

With this information to consider, the group considered its options.

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Five O'Clock shadow
Or-- Gutter sniping

47c385c0_repute_of_the_dragon.jpegThe group separated and retired to their beds after a long night Uncle Griza. Most found space at Ebn’s tower, while the devout returned to their places of worship. At dawn, Celeste was wakened by noises below in the shrine, and found the huntsman Kunola maintaining her shrine. She asked why he was not off chasing dragons in the forest, and he told he was never going on another dragon hunt. He had been with a group that hunted the dragon Khallid-Duz back in the Old World, and said that gnomes dropped a mountain on it.

When the time came, they went to see Eika about removing Celeste’s dragon curse. She suggested that the safest way was death, and added an arcane ritual involving bathing in a vessel filled with the correct variety of dragon blood might work.

Kallius went to the temple of Seius to see if he could find a spell to determine Celeste’s dragon blood-type, and was shown the thrice-warded key needed to see the higher levels of the Tower of Secrets. Since he had already prepared his spells for the day, he decided to return at a later time.

They did some shopping, and then decided to spend the day lounging around Celeste’s shrine and drinking. As the shadows grew longer in the evening, Kallius noticed a shadow moving against the direction of the setting sun. Peering closer, it had a distinctly draconic shape, and scuttled out of the shrine.

He and Boomah followed it as it took to the sky, and flew in and out around eaves and chimneys. While the flying goblin closed on it, another shadowy drake appeared from the growing darkness and breathed a cloud of dark, choking cold at them.

With battle imminent, we paused.

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'Family' Dinner
Or-- This doesn't taste anything like revenge

1be3e831e0c3c6760878097f554fbbab.jpegWhen ‘Uncle’ Griza made a surprise appearance as our heroes were leaving Brann’s private office, they were taken aback. When he publicly carried on polite conversation with the goblin in the middle of crowded market, the standers-by were confounded as well. In the end, the group agreed to join him and man-servants for dinner at his new townhouse.

Then they went to visit Nana Bethel to discuss the selling some noble trinkets and get a better lay of the social landscape. She told them about Griza’s rise, and that he seems to be a friend of the locals — or at least more of a friend than the other newcomers — and that his niece is quite the social butterfly.

They cleaned up and went to House Ombar at the appointed hour, impressed at how he managed to so drastically improve his position in such a crowded city. One of his black-blooded bodyguards (disguised as bearded Valessans) came to the door and invited them in, the other was cooking.

Boomah immediately demanded to know why Griza had tried to kill them with the cursed fireball necklace, and the man looked honestly surprised. After they explained their story, he told them a tale about his ‘niece’ losing her young lover in a mysterious sewer explosion and getting very upset. More upset, it seems, than he thought.

He also confessed that the keys that our heroes had retrieved had been crucial to his recent success, and said he hoped they could still work together.

They sold him a few of their more notorious magical booty (like the Mephitan weaponry and golem manual) in exchange for more magic armor and protections. He suggested a few mutually beneficial larcenous activities, but our heroes were unwilling to commit and any new any new ventures.

The group retired to his upper drawing room where the brothers Redmund shed their disguises and all shared toasts until late in the night.

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Phat lewt
Or-- How many gold pieces are in a Benjamin?

crowd.jpegWith nothing on their immediate agenda, our heroes set about the task of portioning out their spoils from the last few weeks. But first, Celeste and Dremahl returned to the Serachle to check in on their respective shrines. Strangely, the rough-hewn shrine to Methys seems to be have been taken care of in her absence, and even some fresh-cut herbs were found drying on the lines. Ellicott Ganz was still heading the house of the Maker, and mentioned that most of the glory and attention had been going to the Crystal Corncob of Aerin. Otherwise, most of the community’s problems were of the world over-crowded and over-priced varieties.

After hashing out new weapons and other items, the group decided that the best place to sell extra equipment, as well as the dragon skins, was at the House of Brann. They regrouped and set off for the dwarven enclave through the crowded streets.

They were escorted to the master smith’s private office overlooking the trade floor, and reported back about their achievements in the mines. He added that ore had been flowing again, although strange tales of monsters and battles persist.

They traded the dragon’s scales for two suits of highly enchanted chain, and sold some other items. After the visit, they were dismissed to the trade floor to make any additional purchases. As they came down the wide stairs, the crowd below parted, and their old patron ‘Uncle’ Griza Ombar waved upward to the gathered group.

“My friends! How wonderful to see you healthy and hale again!!”

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A sort of Homecoming
Or-- Doorway to doom

PZO9028-Cover.jpegNear a gathering of people near a sheltered cove, our heroes decided it was best to determine the nature of the enchanted door from the Longshadow before traveling farther. So they leaned it up against a large rock some distance from the crowd, and opened the door.

As soon as they did, a long chained blade in a pair of pale, bony hands lashed out at the goblin — tying him up. Thinking quickly, Luix slammed the door shut, severing the gateway to wherever the ship’s cabin might be.

They decided it was best to face the danger immediately, and prepared themselves with all the protective magic they had available. Then they smashed the door frame, opening the portal to face whatever emerged. Again, the chain lashed out from the hands of bone devil, along with four bearded devils. The diabolical quartet took one look at their situation, and vanished into the ether.

The bears of hell’s magical defenses slowed the terrible damage that the party dished out, but it could not withstand the combined assault if the entire group. It fell, leaving behind only a cloud of card smoke and its Mephitan chain-blade.

Spent, our heroes rested the night in the woods with the other refugees and made their way to Wytchport in the morning. There was discussion about forcing their way into the ‘high’ city gates by right of religious authority, but finally decided to keep a lower profile.

The city had expanded in the weeks since their departure, and even the low gate was no situated in the middle of a bustling district of shanties and hastily built structures. They found their old comrade Stieve, now commanding a squad of soldiers guarding the entrance. He gave them a brief update on happenings around time, and collected a nominal tax from them, and led them through the gates.

Then they went to see Boomah’s mentor Ebn. His complex was now fully walled, with a minotaur guarding the gate. They gave him an overview of their activity, and he explained why the Aerinorns were still around. He confirmed that there really was a dragon, and that it undoubtedly came from the wilds of the Erarohn near Bar Omaro.

After that, they went down the circus cart where Eika had taken up residence. They knocked, and she kicked the door open with a wand in her hands— hissing. She told Boomah to get that scaly filth off her doorstep or she would be forced to kill them.

Celeste stated calmly, “I am not now, nor do I ever want to be a dragon. How do I stop this?”

She slammed the door and told them to come back tomorrow.

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