Tempest Rising

Making friends in low places
Or-- Let's Make a Deal!

When our heroes got to the end of the darkened passage, the goblin was nowhere to be found. Not seeing any sign of foul play (beyond their previous combat), they continued their search.

When they got to the small illusion-shrouded sign shrine, Boomah once again joined them. He claimed that the cultists only wanted to ‘talk’ and that they should follow.

So they did, and returned to the large underground temple that had fled a few minutes before. They were greeted by the tall, pale Vauchis ren Acero who appeared to be leading the group. She was flanked by a a shifty little man, and a bound goblin, who was obviously Boomah.

The goblin that was with out heroes transformed into a large, plain woman without explanation. As tensions rose, Vauchis suggested that this evening need not involve any more violence. She asked the party what it is they wanted.

Celeste told her that they had been sent to ‘disrupt’ the group for Lord Mayor Bikkel — who had offered to give them access to the dwarves in Gilt Hall.

She responded that that it seemed clear that they had fulfilled their duty and were free to leave. She offered them the head of the cadaver lord from the bedroom, claiming that the man was a spy for the mayor, and that he could have him back. The burly woman cast an enchantment on the preserved head before giving it to the group in a bag.

Our heroes also asked about whether Menso had been here. She admitted that he had been, caused quite a stir with his pronouncements about his powerful new blood magic, and left with a few of their members. All she claimed to know is that he went south through the mountain toward the Faelit Vale.

Considering this exchange a success, the group fled the darkened temple to the Veil.

Their next stop was a tavern controlled by the Lord Mayor. They were met by two of his burly guards in a curtained banquette, and led through narrow passages between buildings to his throne room.

The Lord Mayor was satisfied with their work, and told them of a Rakken-Taija gate keeper who had a mother’s milk addiction and needed to impress his superiors. He gave them a small amount of the drug to get the dwarf’s attention, and told them to use the drilling machine plans to gain access.

He offered to have his people make a copy of these schematics, so the party would not be left without — as he was sure the dwarves would take them.

Mike was only a devil for about 10 minutes, then they came face-to-face with two Boomahs. The only one committed to righteous violence was the barbarian, and everyone else told him to shut up. Maybe I have too pragmatic approach to evil, but I’m not sure how much repercussions there would be to simply allowing a devil cult to continue to exist in a town where slavery (and prostitution) are legal. And the devil never really unmasked itself.

Basically, at his point there is not upshot. They got the name of a dwarf with career/addiction issues whose buttons they can push to gain access to the real Gilt Hall. They learned that their enemy Menso somehow got through the mountain and went south. They’re looking to follow.

Temple of Doooooom
Or-- We don't need no stinkin' zombies

Meph-statue.jpgOur heroes jumped immediately into the fray. Shambling cadavers crowded around the walkway, and more were climbing up to fill any gaps left by the warriors’ blades.

Saerin shared the knowledge of his sworn enemy, and Dremahl chanted a prayer for victory. Celeste summoned an eagle and sent it down into the pit to slash at the bloated, devilish horrors.

These moved away from the looming statue of the Veil and joined with the cadavers in the assault. The warriors pushed back, sending several enemies to the ground each turn.

The stones of the walkway were getting crowded with the fallen, when one of the shadowy trio at the far end of the massive chamber fired a stinking cloud into the melee— filling the area with a thick, wretched fog. Kallius, Celeste, and Saerin were stricken by the miasma and had to break off from the fight. Boomah shook off the stench, but led the retreat, weaving through the group and down into the passages below.

Looking down the passage toward escape, he spotted a dark, shadowy creature crouched in the darkness. So he turned the other way and fled. When he reached the old guards post, another of the stealthy canines leaped from the shadows and tore into him. Quickly recovering, he smashed a fiery bomb on the creature and set the beast ablaze.

The others followed the goblin out of the sickening haze. Luix spotted the larger of the tow shadow hounds and rushed in to face it. Dremahl moved toward the goblin, and the others followed his radiance.

The light of Nox made it difficult for the creatures to lurk in the shadow, helping our heroes strike true. Saerin came in to fight alongside Boomah, and the two quickly dispatched the beast.

ZombieFog-small.jpgMeanwhile, the remaining cadavers had stumbled out of the cloud and continued to assault the group. Boomah lobbed a fire bomb down the passage and struck one, splashing fire on the undead and party members alike. After being freed from the sickness by Dremahl, Kallius cast burning hands and damaged the large portion of the horde. The priest followed by channeling his holy might and the creatures fierce energy went out — sending them slumping to the floor in fire and ash.

The cadavers had been defeated, and the cadre of lemure devils never came out of the fog to menace the group.

Without immediate foes, Boomah began searching about. He creeped doen the long hallway leading to the bed chamber and the chapel, and noted that the far end of the hall was shrouded in a darkness beyond the normal. He moved as far as the chamber of chained slaves and peered in.

The room was empty, the chains lay on the ground. Not seeing obvious threats, he stopped to listen closer. He heard whispered chanting — and then he was gone.

The others, not hearing the goblins continued commentary, feared for the worst. They regrouped, and led by Saerin and followed quickly by Dremahl and his Noxian daylight, hurried to the salve chamber.

But when they arrived, there was no sign of the tiny alchemist.

Looting, and a little light bondage
Or-- Yanking their chains

05e4a3e970dafe659d64732eb1d6e0ef.jpgWith the corpse in expensive bed-clothes freshly returned to non-moving status, our heroes searched their surroundings. The room contained a small table littered with bottles and jars, and a screened-off sleeping area.

The bed had expensive coverings, but hid nothing of value. Wall pegs nearby were also empty. The table contained cosmetics far beyond just beautifying, and could be used to aid in creating disguises. A perfume atomizer proved to be filled with an enchanted liquid, that gave the user the effects of an eagle’s splendor spell. Boomah discovered a hidden compartment in the table that contained (in addition to a poison trap) and magical tome used in the creation of flesh golems.

Moving on to explore the next chamber, they found a small shrine to Mephitas. The sanctuary was covered by an illusion spell, but Boomah pierced the magic and found a cabinet in the base holding a large quantity of gems and jewelry. Concerned about further magical danger, they left the objects where they were and moved on.

They noted a passage leading out of this chapel and stairs leading up, but decided against going any further in that direction.

Going back to the door where they had previously heard hushed whispers, Luix burst into the room. There he found a handful of well-built young slaves shacked by long chains that led up into the shadows.

Suddenly, the chains flew off of a few of these slaves and tried to envelop the northerner. He lunged forward into the room, grabbed the free chains and pulled as hard as he could — bringing down a fearsome clip-winged gargoyle who had been perched in the ceiling vaults.

The creature commanded the chains like living things, flailing out in all directions. Kallius and Saerin stepped in to aid the burly warrior, and the magus struck hard with his electrified, rapier. The monster could not withstand their combined assault, and quickly crumbled to rubble.

Looking over the cowering slaves, they told them to free themselves from their remaining chains and escape this place as quickly as they could.

Continuing to backtrack, they returned to the stairs where the human cultist had tried to flee. They heard nothing behind the door at the top of the stair, but a feeling of unholy dread pervaded the area.

Celeste summoned an air elemental and sent it through the flagstones to explore. Immediately the sounds of combat were heard beyond the door.

They burst open the door. From the light of Dremahl’s Daylight spell, they could see the small elemental in battle with two shambling corpses. Many more of the dead were around it, and began to move toward the door with with evil light burning in their eyes and fueling their momentum.

They were on a walkway that seemed to surround a large open chamber. Dominating the lower area was a 20-foot-tall statue of Mephitas, surrounded by a group small, bloated fleshy abominations. They, too, turned toward the group and started making their way toward the door.

The ranger and barbarian waded into the fray, beating down the first two of what would prove to be many, many foes.

Dungeon Crawling
Or-- How to move 120 feet in three hours

67732a5bc66b541c5d06e3b2281a262a.jpgAfter defeating the two defending cultists and setting fire to the ‘Curtain Club’, our heroes decided to explore deeper into the underground chambers.

The first exit they tried was where the defenders came from. Down a hall they found a spartan bed chamber, with a suit of enchanted armor laid out for repairs, and a small bag of platinum coins and a gold necklace hidden under the bed pallets

Then they went down the central hall and found three doors. The first was a set of double doors that smelled of animals, and they decided not to attempt it. Boomah tied the two rings together in hopes of slowing anything that tried to leave through that way.

The hall ended in another set of double doors, wide and carved with Mephitis symbols, so they kept away from it as well. The third was barred from the other side, which intrigued the group. Boomah used a combo of fire and ice bombs to shatter the hinges, and they moved past the now-broken door.

Kallius took the lead in exploring the narrow passage, and soon came to a heavy, undecorated door. Boomah and Saerin examined it, and found no traps. However, they overlooked a glyph inscribed in the portal and a burst of electricity shot out, followed by a darkness that even the goblin’s site could not easily pierce.

Dremahl summoned Daylight to counter the darkness, and the party saw two figures hiding behind an opening down the hall. The two fired crossbow bolts from hding, trying to pin down our heroes. Undaunted, they charged. One of the cultists tried to get around them, but they cut him down as he tried to escape up a stair down a side passage. The other fared little better, and was soon felled as well.

Leaving the door the fleeing cultist was heading toward, they continued on their previous path. They found a side door and heard whimpering inside. They let it be.

Continuing to the end of the hall, they saw an opening to a chamber, but nothing moved and no danger presented itself. Entering, they found a well-appointed bed chamber. Boomah was suddenly attacked by a swift moving corpse from behind the entrance. The creature was tough and its claws sapped our heroes’ strength, bbut their greater numbers soon prevailed. They noted that the mangled corpse had a very pretty face and expensive bed clothes. They began to inspect the furnishings in the chamber, in hopes of loot and in preparation for more danger deeper down these corridors.

Curtain Call
Or-- Smoke and Mirrors

annihilating_fire___mtg_by_damascus5-d5f8ws3.jpgLeaving the locked slaves in their cells, our heroes sneeked through the concealed door and down beneath the Acero complex. With Boomah holding a torch as Saerin led the way, they spotted a prayer to Mephitas carved into every third step.

Boomah recited the prayer as they descended, and was spared from the the strength-sapping spell that gripped the ranger. The others followed the goblin’s lead when they followed behind.

They came to an intricately-carved double door at the base of the stair, covered with images of smoke or curling blades. After they searched for any booby-traps in the area, Boomah pushed the door open ‘just a little’.

Unfortunately, far enough to set off a string of bells that hung behind the door. The party readied for action as the doors flung open revealing a crowd of skeletal figures with flesh hanging loosely over their skulls. Dremahl channeled divine power, and several bodies collapsed to the ground.

The rest of the party rushed in, slashing at the skeletons or firing spells to disrupt them. After a few noisy moments of jingling bells and clashing blades— the party found themselves alone in the entry chamber. Their fallen enemies all wore the preserved faces of individuals, but none of them were familiar to the group.

They listened at each of the three exits from the chamber, and heard furtive noises to the left and right. They chose the left, and burst open the door. Inside they found a lavishly appointed room filled low furniture, gauzy hangings, and a handful of people in various states of undress.

A haughty, half-dressed man (whom they recognized as a slave merchant they saw earlier in the day) confronted Kallius and demand he leave immediately. The merchant told them that this was most inappropriate and there would be consequences. Considering this, Boomah threw a bomb at the man, setting him and his two escorts ablaze.

Fire spread to the hangings and there was a lot of screaming and crying. Meanwhile, the other door burst open and a thrown axe flew into the room thrown by a man in dark robes veiled by mirror image. The warriors spotted another concealed figure lurking behind. Luix fell to a murderous command and brought his flail down on the magus.

Boomah continued to throw bombs at the slavers and cultists, and a ghoul came out of the shadows to attack Saerin. He shook off the paralytic bite, and slayed the enemy in a single blow.

The warriors were slashing their way through the illusion-shrouded guard, when the one in the rear vanished from site. But not from the arcane vision of Celeste, who pointed out the enemy as it tried to crawl along the ceiling. Kallius reached up with his enchanted blade, and struck true. The roof lit up as the cultist appeared, limned with eldritch flame along with its multiple shadows.

They all turned on the priest as it clung to the ceiling supports. He tried to turn them with murderous commands, but could not withstand their concerted attack. Soon he dropped like a swatted fly.

Boomah quickly tried to collect personal items form those he bombed, weaving through the flaming fabrics. The party regrouped and prepared to continue their investigation of these dark, secret cellars.

Up on the Rooftop
Or-- 'Zat you, Santa Claus?

hound_of_tindalos_by_manzanedo-d5m0fhq.jpgAfter a long evening of drinking and scouting, our heroes left their bar stools and scattered around the marketplace. Celeste, covered by the elves, summoned an air elemental and sent it to push over every orc in the bar. The small whirlwind took to its task, even upending a small goblin and dropping on a table.. This caused the ruckus they were looking for, and they moved to the darkest corner of the courtyard, in the shadow of the Acero building.

Meanwhile, Boomah had gone invisible and levitated to the roof. He then dropped a smoke bomb and rope to cover the others’ climb. With the orcish bar brawl the elemental causing a stir a few hundred feet away, it seemed that no one was paying attention to this strange cloud..

Once on the roof, Dremahl used divine clairvoyance spy down through the roof vents and chimneys. They found a room of sleeping guards, some secured areas and one open storage space down a chimney. Invisible, reduced, and protected from fire, Kallius repelled down the chimney. Only to come face-to-face with a sleepy guard staring at a rope dangling down.

He jumped through the fire, a slashed the surprised enemy with an empowered shocking grasp through his blade. Needless to say, they fight was over.

The others followed and they took note of there surroundings — a storage area on the second floor overlooking the market. They peeked into the guard room, and saw four awake guards playing dice on the far side of the room and doors going further in. Then they remembered that murdering everyone was not their goal, and crept down into the open market.

Saeren led, and was nearly surprised when a catlike shape leaped from the darkness. It slashed at him, but his return blow struck through the shadows. His elven comrade struck as well — outlining it with the magic of his limning blade.

Two more creatures pounced from the shadows; one stumbling and crashing into a stack of boxes along the curtained wall. Bombs were thrown, spells were cast, and the three warriors made short work of the shadowy felines. Once more silence reigned in the Acero compound.

They quickly moved behind the curtain and found two cells where slaves were kept, but the slaves stayed huddled and quiet in the corners. A large stone wall separating the two cells drew their attention, and they quickly discovered a secret door leading into a narrow tunnel carved into the stone.

The stepped into the darkness as the curtain fell on the evening.

Shopping Scree
Or-- What's behind curtain #1?

scree-night.jpgOur heroes began the afternoon around a table at the Lost Anchor — an open-air alesink off the flesh market of Scree. While drinking sour, watery beer, they kept a watchful eye on the Acero trading hall. After a few rounds of drinks, curiosity got the better of Saeren and Boomah and they went to get a closer look. Inside the pillared hall there was a platform for slave presentation, and several tables of trade goods. After looking around for a bit, they asked one of the many clerks if the Aceros bought as well as sold. The answer was a resounding ‘yes’, but when the ranger produced an enchanted suit of hide armor, the clerk had to call over one his superiors. The two haggled briefly, and settled on trading the armor for two diamonds suitable for wooing ladies (or casting restoration). They waited in his office while diamonds were procured, as the well-appointed customer lounge seemed to be occupied.

Socialite.jpgOther than a large number of burly guards with broad blades and hooked nets around the establishment, the only other person of note was a thin woman in a close-fitting black dress who came out of the front office, spoke to a guard and went back in.

As they left, they noted the waste stream that flowed out from under the flagstones, and considered where it might open to on the other end.

As the afternoon progressed, others wandered about the trade hall, watching an auction of fresh, young ‘house servants’ but not making any purchases. nor did they see any overt signs of cult activity.

There was a large auction in the flesh market, and several lots of working slaves changed hands. Our heroes briefly considered buying a goblin army, but ultimately opted against it.

Night came, and the portculli dropped over the trading hall. As the merchants left the markets in search of a warm meal and warmer company, the streets began to fill with a rougher sort of crowd— largely armed and looking for action. The group noticed the entry to the Acero hall off the Street of Measures was still lit. Boomah and Saeren went to check it out and found that it was an assayers’ office trading gems and raw metal for coin. Luckily, they had some unrefined silver ore looted from a previous adventure, and traded it for 40 gold coins. Seeing no obvious signs of an evil cult, they returned to the group.

They peered through the portculli on the way back to the Anchor, and Boomah caught a glimpse of some shadowy creature slipping between the shadows inside.

Stymied, out heroes started looking for alternate avenues into the Acero complex. Seeing the tower chamber that rose above the two-story, they considered trying to break in from above. With that thought, they paused for further reflection.

Down, and down again
Or-- Here comes dah mayor

fat_king_by_grobelski-d6s0b8u.jpgAfter an evening getting the lay of the land from the wizard Melingar, our heroes set out in the morning down to Scree. They rode the elevator from the Hook House, and found themselves in the cramped, raucous outer environs of Gilt Hall. They quickly made their way to the Foggy Morn, a large tavern of ill repute.

Noting the large numbers of attractive young serving girls, Kallius sought out whomever was guiding their attentions. It did not take long unveil a hawk-eyed older woman who never left the end of the bar. After a brief bantering conversation, who was sent up the back stairs to achieve his goal.

He cast invisibility on Boomah for backup, and off they went. Unfortunately, they passed through an enchanted archway in the heavily perfumed halls and suddenly the goblin reappeared at his side.

This caused a but if an uproar, and since the duo refused to pay extra for watching, they were led before a huge black-blooded individual in his office. They plead their case about dragons and coming danger, but Gerr (for that was his name) was only interested in how this information could be turned to profit. The elf and the goblin showed a few lesser trinkets of their travels, but refused to offer any thing of rarity or extreme value. In the end, they could not find common ground and left the Morn unsatisfied.

After they left, they holed up in a small rental room and dug though their loot to make sure they did not overlook anything. They still could not unlock the secrets of the gold dragon statue, but they did discover the sigil go a near legendary wizard Sciao Si’ang. He is credited as one of the authors of the Anelectae Draconum, a book collected thousands of years ago.

In the end, they decided to return to Gilt Hall and speak to the dwarves.

• • • INTERMISSION • • •

As the group made their way out of Scree, they noted a beautiful elven woman selling alchemical candles and other small magic. She seemed to be paying close attention to them, so they decided to spring the trap and engage her directly. They told her their story, and Grila the Archandler mentioned that she knew another who liked ‘interesting stories’. They figured that it was Lord Mayor Bikkel, so they took the token she offered and returned to the Foggy Morn.

Showing the handkerchief to the barman, they were directed to a curtained banquette on the fringe of the common room. They settled in, and were only moderately surprised when a passage opened behind them. Two burly guards led them down below the tavern to a low, sprawling space underneath.

Lord Mayor Bikkel was a massively obese man in thin robes, lounging on a groaning chaise. The shadows were filled with all manner of creatures, including a tie fling and blue-black elf. They told their tale again, and asked for help gain access to the dwarves, and perhaps chase down the runaway wizard Menso. Bikkesl told them that he could indeed help, but they would have to do them a favor first.

Her sent them to a secret cult under the trade hall of House Acero. There has been an uproar with a group in the past week, and a few murders among the group known as the Curtain Call. He believed that it may be related to Mephitas, and even Menso. Our heroes decided to follow up and left the mayor to his revels.

They found the Acero hall on the fringes of the main slave market. Two pillared walls enclose the selling area and traders and customers were busily plying their trades. A long dark curtain along the back wall hiding the slave pens.

They set up in a drinking hall under a canopy, and decided to watch the hall before busting in.

Taking the High Road
Or-- Up-town funk

1402191989-1.jpgOur heroes set out from the mine and made their way up the Ridge Road toward Gilt Hall. As the day went on and the road climbed, Saerin spotted a large lizard track in the mud on the road side. They found no others, so they decided to keep moving.

The road itself is of dwarven make and solid, but its maintenance seemed to be lacking. At one point a drainage culvert had been blocked by debris, and allowed the spring flood to wash over the road’s surface. This did not hinder the group, but it did concern them.

Within a mile of the gates to the Hall, the road split. One ruddy path led downhill to a ramshackle collection of buildings clinging to the ridge, and the solidly flagged road continued its climb. Asking a kebob seller stationed at this crossroad, they learned the lower city was called Scree, and was populated by those unwilling (or unable) to live under the dwarves’ rule. They also learned that slaves were not allowed within the Hall.

Choosing the high road, the group quickly came to the gate house manned by armored dwarves. They told the guards that they were merchants looking to take on cargo, and showed them a sampling of their booty as proof of their intent. They were given pass and directed toward the Hook House Inn, as evening was descending quickly.

The Hook was a cozy country inn, with a largely human clientele. A bard interspersed crowd-pleasing songs with snippets of local news, and winking attacks at the newly arrived Aerinorns. The group looked around, and Saerin noted an aging, bearded man in a tattered burn-scarred robe in a remote corner. They came on him in a group, and offered to share a beverage or two. They learned that he was an artificer who aided the dwarves with minor enchantments, and that he called the village home.

He explained that the Gilt Hall dwarves mingled very little with outsiders other than trade, and that any contact with them would have to be through the gatekeepers under the sign of the Maker. This is through a large bronze portal under a three-story carving of a dwarf holding a hammer, flanked by a female dwarf with a broom and a male with an axe. The Noxian novice Ennick pontificated that these were three major gods of a very large dwarven pantheon, and that most considered them aspects of Nox, Dendera, and Wott. He added that dwarven religion tended toward dualism, with each god having an opposing and equally powerful force vying for loyalty.

This closeness was not always the case, and he said the Gilt dwarves were very active in the early days of the Shattering Wars. But when the Nura dam collapsed, killing a large group of dwarves along with humans and invaders, something changed in the Hallita (leader) Jotahj, and he closed the doors to strangers.

The old man had no good advice on gaining admittance to the Hall itself, but suggested he knew a man who might. He told them of a man called Bikkel, who calls himself the Lord Mayor of Scree. He is a raconteur of the first order, and if anyone had an angle on getting to speak with the powers in the Hall, he would.

The group decided to seek this man out, and find out what he knows.

Blood showers and mystic powers
Or -- Goblins from the grave

131490-BloodDemon-Final.jpgFrom the wreckage of the earth ship it was only a short hike to the pyramid base. The group decided to climb the stairs at the far side to avoid anything that might be around the fallen troglodytes. As they climbed, Celeste (and Murt’s weasel) noticed a slick of blood coalescing from inside the fallen rubble. Light was cast and our heroes looked on as the blood rose to a dragon-shaped pillar in a suit of archaic scale mail.

The shape looked down on them and sent out a shower of blood, covering the front ranks. The blood burned into them and sapped away at their strength. Murt ran for cover as Kallius and Luix stepped up to the attack. Dremahl stood his ground and began a prayer to aid the warriors.

The magus empowered his blade against the undead and slashed out, delivering a shocking grasp along with the blow. Luix tried to pummel the horror, but had difficulty getting past its protections. As Celeste worked to summon a pair of Archons, two slithering masses of bloody pulp appeared form the top tier and dropped down on the group. Saerin stepped up and slashed away at the blob. The creatures tried to merge with our heroes bodily fluids and fill them with their poison, but these attempts were thwarted.

The combined attacks of the northerner, the elf, and the lantern archons were taking their toll on the bloody draconic figure. Fearing defeat, it collapsed into a pool and oozed off the edge of the pyramid platform. But before it could escaped, Dremahl channeled the power of Nox into the pool and it sizzled, turned black and ceased its alien existence.

The other oozes were quickly bashed into oblivion as well.

Climbing to the top tier, the party found the high priest where he fell. They allowed Murt to use the spell they had retrieved and, drinking the fallen troglodyte’s blood, bug though its memories and found the secret rite to raise the dead.

Prying diamonds from the oversized crown, he cast the spell over Boomah, and returned him to the land of the living. Deciding that lingering was dangerous, the group turned about and left the cavern by the route they had descended.

On again on the surface, they set out for the dwarven stronghold of Gilt Hall in hope of finding the trail of Menso Ganto.


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