Princes of the Apocalypse 5th Ed D&D Paradice

Druids here, druids there, DRUIDS EVERYWHERE
Being a wolf isn't so bad!

After the shenanigans at Nettlebee Farm HoRLaB™ headed off from Red Larch to Scarlet Moon Hall where they knew the Cult of Eternal Flame had taken up residence. The 3 day journey was largely uneventful other than Garrett seeing the now familiar black eye and the four cult symbols beneath it hanging in the sky above the party on the last day of their journey. It was not visible to the rest of the group, which was strange and unsettling.

Once the reached the base of the hill that Scarlet Moon Hall sat upon the party could see a scattering of encampments around the hill that led to the Scarlet Moon Hall. The Brothers Grim set off ahead to scout only to stumble into a patrol of Fire Cultists and the usual melee ensued. During the battle it was clear the hellhounds with the patrol were extremely dangerous and had to be dealt with quickly. While most fought well, Ranor did somehow manage to punch himself hard in the face, much to the amusement of his brother, Eldearnth.

After the attack the party healed up and marched towards the base of the hill to discover a base-camp of druids. They seemed genuine and spoke excitedly about a rite known as The Giant Wicker Rite that was to be a cleansing ritual to rid the Sumber Hills of the ills that have befallen it recently. Sadly no such rite exists and HoRLaB™ knew this. Garrett was quick to point this out to the druids who were shocked to hear of this and packed up their belongings before heading off back from whence they came. They asked the party to seek out Gealdia, a druid they knew was trustworthy and should be told of this deception by way of a note they wrote. HoRLaB™ agreed to find the druid. All they knew was they she was somewhere to the north west.

The Brothers Grim headed off to discover the location of the other druid, only to find two encampments. One had a single elf druid playing a fiddle to two dancing sprites and the other had a female half elf druid with 3 rangers with her. The party decided that it was more likely that the fiddle playing elf was their quarry as the other seemed to be well protected and would not need their help. They were right and Gealdia greeted the party warmly.

She was concerned as to how so many of her fellow druids could be fooled by Elizar, the charismatic leader of the rite that turns out to be a falsehood. She asks the party to seek out another camp to the east where a friend, Collnam, was with 3 others. One of whom she does not trust and eventually identifies him as a member of the Crushing Wave Cult.

HoRLaB™ marched south to clear out the camp the party had decided was filled with fire cultists, and once again they were right. The vicious battle that started resulted in the quick execution of the fire priest and the slow whittling down of her guards. The fighting drew the attention of werewolves at a nearby camp, who managed to successfully bite Eldearnth. Soon after which the half-elf became cursed with lycanthrope abilities.

At the end of the fight all of the party had survived, but the curse that had befallen Eldearnth had started to take hold and he was not keen on giving it up. Strath was not keen on this and saw the change in nature his rogue compatriot had undertaken. There was a challenge by Strath who tried to cast a spell that would contain Eldearnth before he tried to attack one of the members of the party.

In reaction to this Eldearnth changed form into a werewolf and fled into the wilderness as he did not want to harm anyone, least of all his brother. This leaves the famed HoRLaB™ reduced to 4 as they face the Elizar and his minions.

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'Got a bug problem ma'am?'
The Heroes of Red Larch go exterminating

The day started reasonably well with The Heroes of Red Larch making their way north east towards Riverguard Keep. Their charge, ‘Brul’ was also pleased to be safe and in their seemingly capable hands as they made the journey to Beliard via Riverguard Keep.

As they marched on Ranor spotted the Aarakocra descend onto Riverguard Keep as they approached it from the south. This displeased him as he does not trust them since they gave the party inaccurate advice when they assaulted Feathergale Spire.

By the time the party reached Riverguard Keep the Aarakocra had gone, but they seemed to be there as guests and not antagonists. Upon arrival both Ranor and Eldearnth chose not to enter thanks to their interactions with a man who captained the Rivermaid and now seems to have control over Riverguard Keep. That man being Kannhan Treen.

Strath greeted Kannhan and the two spoke of how to get Brul to Beliard. Initially Kannahan wanted to take him upriver himself with no assistance from The Heroes of Red Larch, but this was not well received. Amazingly Garrett stepped forward and offered counsel on why that was a bad idea and insisted they escort them up the river in a boat that was not as well known. Kannahan resisted this at first but relented and offered The Lazy Frog as an alternative, a boat captained by Tomlin Featherbrum.

Before the party could move on Kannhan had some important information and news to share with them. He ushered them into his office and explained the following:

  • Beliard has heard rumours of a fire witch making trouble for Nettlebee Farm. Wiggan Nettlebee wants to put an end to it.
  • A mound has appeared to the northern outskirts of Beliard and the blacksmith has disappeared.
  • The Aarakocra are having to fend off attacks by the air cult and they have captured a few to allow them to interrogate their foes. Apparently the password for entry into the air temple is ‘Hail Prince Yan-C-Bin – Lord of Air’.

Kannhan bids the party farewell and they board The Lazy Frog. The journey upriver was uneventful, with only Zoro having a waking dream about an unfamiliar tomb that had been desecrated and it was very cold inside.

Upon arrival at Beliard Brul left the party to gain passage further north and bid them farewell. Waiting at the quayside was a halfling who introduced himself as Wiggan Nettlebee and he requested The Heroes of Red Larch assist him and his family in removing the fire witch from his homestead. Garrett thought this odd as there has never been any history of fire witches in the area.

Eldearnth pushed back against the insistence of Wiggan and instead wanted to investigate the mound. His mind was bent on finding what lied beneath the town and was convinced this mound was linked to it. Wiggan did not take kindly to this and began demanding the party assist him immediately; Strath explained that they would once the mound was dealt with. At which point the petulant halfling strode off northwards towards his home.

Eventually the party came upon a middle aged woman who was crying near the quayside. Her eyes red with tears, she introduced herself and Elanor Greysmith and her husband Devin Greysmith had been abducted by unknown creatures in the night. The party agreed to help her and they investigated the site of the abduction, that being the smithy. Ranor discovers odd tracks leading away from the smithy towards the mound. They are not made using humanoid feed as they were more claw like and there was also a single line depression indicating a tail.

The Heroes of Red Larch made their way towards the mound and found the main entrance to it. A thick smell of chemicals and rotting wood was emanating from the underground passage and bones of animals were seen lying outside with bite marks on them. This the party surmised was the work of insects and very large ones too.

Undeterred by the stench the Heroes of Red Larch made their way into the cavern only to discover the remains of a halfling that had been stripped to the bone. Some remnants of his possessions lay about him and the party recovered them before pressing on deeper into the nest, for this is clearly what it was.

The party encountered swarms of large termites and a large bipedal creatures that had large tails with stingers on them. Zoro took the brunt of attacks from these beings and relied heavily on Strath to remove the poison that started coursing through the dragonborn’s veins at every slash from the barbed tail.

Eventually a large chamber was discovered that contained Devin strapped to a table with blood dripping from him and leading to a portal. This portal was pulsating and Garrett recognised it as being a portal into another realm; a demonic one. These inspects were going to summon a demon of immense power that not even the Heroes of Red Larch could destroy.

Working against the clock the party attacked the creatures in the cavern while Strath stabilised and healed the blacksmith as he lay on the table dying. It was at this moment swarms of gnats spewed out of the portal while a deafening buzzing sound filled the cavern. The sound was so intense that no spell could be uttered and Garrett felt powerless. So much so he fled the cavern away from the din that prevented him from working his magics.

In the cavern chaos reigned as the gnats created a thick cloud that blinded all within the chamber. Despite this Ranor managed to attack one of the stinger creatures to varying degrees of success. While this melee continued Garrett took it upon himself to set fire to the gnats so that he could lift the fog they had created. He did so, although this did result in the burning of everyone in the chamber also.

Eventually the portal exploded and the gnats and buzzing sound was put to an end. Strath had cast dispel magic onto the portal and he thought he had caused it to fail. In fact he had, but not by casting dispel magic. Instead his rescuing of the blacksmith had corrupted the summoning spell as he had to die as well as offer his blood, which he didn’t, so no demon arrived.

Some treasure was recovered and the party now head back to Beliard where they hope to receive a hero’s welcome…

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Gardening is not The Heroes of Red Larch's strong point
Rescue attempt that almost killed everyone

The Heroes of Red Larch were victorious, but they were not done. After the destruction of the mechanical monstrosity that was the spawn of the dwarves the company started to explore other passages in the maze like mines beneath the Sacred Stone Monastery. They hoped to find more treasure and possibly a way through the magical barriers they had encountered at two of the keeps they had assaulted.

After a lot of twists and turns the sounds of digging could be heard in the distance, some way to the east. Strath saw it upon himself and encourage the party to head east as he was concerned over the sounds and what it may lead to. Eldearnth agreed to this in principle and he and his brother Ranor Haedrin stealthily moved ahead. It wasn’t long before they stumbled upon a troop of ogres who were whipping and cajoling slaves as they toiled in the tunnel.

At the sight of this Strath immediately took charge (again) and declared the slaves should be freed. He also offered the possibility that a member of the Miribar delegation was down here. This raised the interest levels of the rest of the party and a plan was hatched.

Strath was to be the bate as he started to create a minor tremor in the mine. As he did so the ogres were supposed to find the source of this quake. In the mean time Zoro would lay traps down to impede the ogres. All the while both Ranor and Eldearnth hid and lay in wait for the ogres to run by and attack them from the rear. Garrett and Zoro stood near Strath but out of sight of the ogres.

This seemed like a great plan until when the quake started the ogres immediately ran away from the cleric and started ushering the slaves into their pens. In response to this Strath bellowed at the ogres, four of whom started running towards the bait that was the cleric at tremendous speed.

As they did so 2 of the oafs became trapped by the well placed hazards the party had dropped earlier. The other two hurtled onto the cleric, with one waylaid by the ‘Brothers Grim’.

A violent melee ensued which did at one point have Ranor punch himself in the face to the point where he was unconscious for a moment. Despite this the ogres were pacified with one running off through the guard room to the north, 2 slain and one cowed into submission by Eldearnth.

Captured and helpless the ogre agreed to help the party so long as they let him live. The ogre’s name was Drong, but Eldearnth had elected to call him ‘Tim’ instead. After much cajoling ‘Tim’ explained to the party that a dwarf named ‘Brul’ was in a place called The Pit. The mere mention of this place sent ‘Tim’ into a catatonic state as he feared it so much.

Tim/Drong also explained that there was a pass phrase to the magical barrier into the temple. Apparently it had the word ‘Hail’ in it, but he knew little else beyond that. ‘Tim’ explained that Jurth, his commander, had fled into the Temple that lies below the monastery and the mine.

The heroes were undeterred by this turn of events they marched to where the slaves were kept and freed them. One of them, an elf named Thane told them of what happened to Bruldenthar, the dwarf from the Miribar delegation. He was in the pit and the only way to get to him was to use the device held by the commander of the ogres who goes by the name of ‘Jurth’.

Thane also told the party of another piece of the pass phrase; it had something to do with royalty but more he could not remember.

With Jurth gone the party had to think of another way into the Pit. Strath decided to volunteer himself to enter the pit and a rope was tied to him as he moved through the pit. Within seconds he was swatted by tentacles that attacked him from all sides. His wounds were slashed by tendrils that emitted necrotic substances. He tried to summon aid from his chosen deity but his concentration was halted and he turned and fled.

The Heroes of Red Larch were not often stymied but on this occasion they were. Eventually Zoro blasted the walls of the pit with lightning bolts that he could emit, but they did little damage to the fungal creatures that lined the walls and lashed out. Garrett also attempted to set fire to them but was too close and a tendril hit him and sent him into a slumber. Strath exercised all of the healing arts he could muster to save the hapless sorcerer. This was a debt that will not lightly forgotten.

In a rage of frustration Zoro doused the walls with oil and set it alight, with Garrett fanning the smoke westward out of the corridor into other parts of the mine. As the walls burned coughing could be heard at the other end of the pit. Strath immediately ran in and rescued Bruldenthar.

After he was rested and healed Bruldenthar spoke to the party about the fate of the rest of the delegation. Deseyna Norvael was taken by the Cult of Howling Wind while Bruldenthar and two others, Rhundorth and Teresiel were taken by the Black Earth Cult. Bruldenthar was kept in the mine to toil there while the other two were sent to the Temple below.

The Heroes of Red Larch decided to follow the ogres who had fled through a passage north of the guard room. This passage led to an exit north of the monastery that passed under the crypt, the same place Renwick had warned the party against entering. Strath became alarmed at the presence of the being that was close by and refused to enter the passage. This forced the party to go the long way round back to the monastery.

More searches revealed a distillery where whiskey was made by monks. It was not very pleasant so the party took some but for fuel and not for ‘medicinal purposes’. Renwick was quizzed over the pass phrase to the Temple by Zoro only to be dismissed as being ‘cult business’ that he had little interest in.

Bruldenthar requested passage back to Miribar by way of Beliard and the company agreed to get him there as soon as possible. Eldearnth was pleased that the party would return to that place as he had some unfinished business there…

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As smooth as clockwork
We had a plan, then we didn't

Since the victory over the Riverguard Keep, the Heroes of Red Larch have marched on to the Sacred Stone Monastery. There the servants of the Black Earth Cult serve their masters and terrorise the surrounding area.

But before the troop arrived there both Ranor and Eldearnth are summoned to the Bargewright Inn as they are requested to complete a mission on behalf of the Zhentarim. They manage to persuade the rest of the group to attend the inn only to find that they were being tasked to escort a caravan many miles north from the Sacred Stone Monastery.

They also bestowed a necklace each with a small claw attached to it. This appeared to be some kind of recognition for their work for the Zhentarim to date. But Eldearnth took exception to this and refused the mission on the principle that it was beneath him and marched angrily out of the Inn, with the rest of the group in tow. He also removed his necklace as did his brother, Ranor.

The group returned to the quest via Summit Hall where Zoro collected his sword. It was speaking to him in common and appeared to have a bit of a temper…

Upon arrival at the monastery the group decided not to attack it head on as they had done so on many previous occasions by trying to talk their way in. Strath was not convinced by this approach, but decided to go along with it. The group disguised themselves as best they could using the robes and clothes of the many cultists they had killed so far in their adventures together. Dressed as a Eternal Flame and Howling Hatred clan members, they hoped to fool the denizens of the monastery that they had no ill intent.

Amazingly it actually worked! With some smooth talking the group were ushered in after they mentioned some names and references that they thought the cultists would be interested in. Once inside the Heroes of Red Larch suddenly realised they didn’t have a plan beyond getting inside. Noting this, Strath uncharacteristically launched the attack against the occupants of the monastery.

The conflict centred around a great hall that had a defiled altar and a set of stairs in the middle. The group fended off wave after wave of monks, guards, minotaurs and mercenary dwarves only to discover an umberhulk was beneath their very feet.

Before they could venture further the party were visited upon by Renwick the Lich. He spoke to them of his troubles and asked why they were making so much noise. Noting the group’s intentions the lich decided to aid them by giving Zoro an amulet of health that bolstered his constitution quite considerably.

Eldearnth became very curious about the umberhulk and wanted to know of its plight. He discovered that it has been partially blinded and had large blades fixed to its carapace. Saddened by this sight, Eldearnth took pity on the being and named him ‘Ueff’. He resolved to release him somehow and then get him to aid the group.

By some contrivance Ueff was released and distracted by Ranor to attack the creatures that lived beneath the monastery. Ogres were abound as was a strange mechanical monster that appeared to be of dwarven construction. He fought against the ogres, several of whom died in the melee. Three of them remained and they attacked the group while Eldearnth and Ranor headed down a secret tunnel.

Garrett did an excellent job of fending off the ogres as Strath was subjected to a multitude of blows against him. Eventually the party reunited and found a beautifully formed staircase leading down. As they did so they found the mechanical beast that was guarding an entrance. The group charged at the beast and despite the blows rained down upon them as well as being doused by flames they felled the beast. Sadly it did explode as they killed it, resulting in a fair amount of cuts and bruises.

Now the group has gained experience and have become even more hardened for the adventures ahead. Scarlet Moon Hall, the keep of the The Eternal Flame cult is their next target, how will they fare? Only time will tell.

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Recap on the story so far.
This is a copy and paste from the Facebook group updates

PART 1

You all started your adventures in Red Larch, a small town near the Sumber Hills. After encountering a small secret group of townsfolk you discover the remains of an ancient dwarf temple with odd moving stones in it. The led you to encounter a earth magic cult who have harried your actions since discovering them by sending large ankhegs to destroy you. This attempt failed, and you managed to advance further by discovering a delegation from the city of Mirabar is missing and the factions that the players belong to have a vested interest in their well being. This has led the party to investigate what happened to them, which has resulted in an ambush from a fire cult and the discovery of some shallow graves.
In the last session the members of the party who swear fealty to the Zhentarim faction found themselves in a tight spot at the Bargewright Inn near Womford. The Inn keeper decided the take his leave after party members revealed they had found the remains of the delegation, but not the delegates themselves. He left it in the care of Eldearnth Faran and his half brother, Ranor Haedrin. A plot to frame the inn keeper and his chief of security was thwarted by the brothers (along with the some help from the rest of the party) and the Bargewright Inn has now become a strong base from which to continue the party’s adventures.

In addition to crime busting, the party also hit some skulls in the form of water cultists. A river boat captain was dispatched rather brutally along with his crew. After the battle a map was found that had the location of the water cult’s keep marked upon it. It’s name is Riverguard Keep and it is only accessible by water.

For now the party’s attention is drawn to Feathergale Spire and they now prepare to investigate who dwells in that cloud piercing structure to the north.

PART 2

The party made its way north from Bargewright Inn towards Feathergale Spire and initially nothing much happened. Sadly on the day before they arrived at the spire the party was attacked by a trio of hell hounds. The party did dispatch them, but at some cost.
Eventually they did find the spire only to see its defences were quite considerable. The main entrance had a draw bridge that none of the party were keen on traversing. Instead they decided to make their way around to the base of the spire to mount a assault on it.

As they made their way into the Sighing Valley they encountered Trellarch, a member of the Aarakocra avian race. He along with two others spoke of the sacrifices the dwellers of the Feathergale Spire had made in the name of their elemental god and how they wished to annihilate the occupants of the spire. Sadly they lacked resources to do this, but the presence of the Heroes of Red Larch has afforded them a chance to do this very thing.
Trellarch hatches a plan (no pun intended) to remove the air cultists from Feathergale Spire. They agree to have the party take on the spire at its base while they attack it from its top. This would create a great deal of confusion and reduce the effectiveness of their defences. The Heroes of Red Larch needed some form of disguise to get into the spire, so a passing patrol from the air cultists was intercepted by Trellarch and the party had to kill the patrol.
This battle lasted for quite a while, with a Feathergale Knight showing some magical abilities that were not expected by the party. The battle was eventually won, but again at significant cost.

With disguises in hand, the Heroes of Red Larch make their way towards the base of the spire, all the while glancing nervously in the sky for any signs of manitcores that are known to be present in the valley.

PART 3

The Feathergale Spire loomed before the Heroes of Red Larch like a big loomy thing that looms. Undeterred they marched into the spire with malicious and vengeful intent. Well I say ‘marched’, it was more like a stumble, a trip and a sprained ankle kind of entrance. But enter the spire the party did, with intentions of ridding it of the influence of the Air cult.
As they entered they discovered a sleeping hippogryph, which was rapidly dispatched before it awoke as well as any other creatures that rested within the stables. Just as they did so their new found avian allies attacked the pinnacle of the spire and the assault on the Feathergale Spire was initiated, much to the horror and confusion of its residence.
The Heroes of Red Larch assassinated a distracted guard and then found themselves surrounded by large winged beasts that slept in the stables. While some wounds were inflicted, the party fought back valiantly with only a single hippogryph managing to escape the carnage.

Eventually the party ran up the spiral staircase to the ground level where they once again encountered initiates as well as a monk. Ranor took great exception to this new foe and focused all of his attention onto him. He did this not realising that these monks wielded magic thanks to their devotion to the evil air cult. During the battle the monk emitted a thunderous wave of sound that inflicted great harm to many in the party and deafened them also. Ranor took great exception to this and was not prepared for this display of sorcery seeing as Trellarch, the leader of the avian allies had assured the party no magic was present in the spire.

Also during the battle a knight was engaged with by Strath who detected something was amiss about her, as did Ranor. It was as if she was compelled to fight, but did not want to. Ranor ignored the pleas of Strath to not harm her and instead brought to her knees and knocked her unconscious. She eventually reawakened and fled the battle to the upper reaches of the spire.

The Heroes of Red Larch eventually held sway over the ground floor of the spire and the battle in the upper levels could be heard as well as alarm bells declaring a full scale assault was occurring. After taking a brief rest the party made it to the first level of the spire, only to see one of the avian allies fall as they tumbled down onto Garrett, the bird obsessed sorcerer, who was standing in the spiral staircase.

Upon entering the first level the party saw Trellarch engaged with the leader of the Feathergale Knights, Thurl Merosska. A full pitched battle was being had in the great hall of the spire and ranged against the party were 4 knights and another monk. Without hesitation the Heroes of Red Larch lived up to their fearless reputation by piling into the knights, but they soon found their attacks were becoming ineffectual and were being beaten back!

Both of the brothers Eldearnth and Ranor fell under the blows of both the knights and Thurl and the party stared defeat in the face. Is this how it ends? Killed by a bunch of bird brained lunatics (no offence Garrett). No, not like this; the Aarakocra warriors killed the remaining knights and gave an opening for the party to kill Thurl, but not before the mysterious knight who was being compelled fled the scene eastward across the Sighing Valley.

With the spire’s occupants vanquished the Aarakocra declared it to now fall upon them to hold it as it was a perfect outpost for them. Weapons and armour were discovered in the spire as well as a treasure chest filled with gold, potions and scrolls of mysterious magic etched upon them.

Also found was a letter to the now deceased Thurl from a person called Aerisi Kalinoth, a name muttered by initiates before they were executed by Eldearnth during the assault. The letter spoke of the Black Earth Cultists and the Sacred Stone Monastery as well as the member of the Minbar delegation the air cult has apparently captured.

The Heroes of Red Larch have won a significant victory against the Elemental Evil they are clearly facing, but it is but one of many they need to gain in order to bring it to an end. Their next target is Riverguard Keep and if the fate of Feathergale Spire reaches the occupants of this stronghold, they would do well to prepare for the worst…

PART 4

Feathergale Spire was cleansed of its cultist occupants and the Heroes of Red Larch continued their mission to vanquish the Sumber Hills of the pox that is the Elemental Evil. Dispatched by Trellarch, the leader of the the company’s new Aarakocra allies to the home of the Crushing Wave cult that goes by the name of Riverguard Keep.

The parties journey heads south along the Cairn Road where they happen upon another Fire Cult raiding party. Eldearnth managed to dispatch a fire priest, but not before he exploded, flinging his brother Ranor into the air as he did so. The remaining fire cultists were dispatched quickly and the journey along the Cairn road was uninterrupted. Save for the discovery of a dead ankheg along with it a corpse of blue skinned orc. Clearly a battle had taken place here, but with whom and why was a mystery.

The Bargewright Inn was the destination of the company and the inn keeper was keen to aid them in their attack on Riverguard Keep. Provisions were provided as well as a river boat, named Rivermaid and a genesai captain. Sadly this did not sit well with Garrett who tried to attack the captain with a fire ball spell. The company had to gather their wits else the vengeful sorcerer cause significant harm to their cause. It took a great deal of effort to curtail his efforts, with Ranor eventually shoving him into the river and drowning him to make him unconscious.

Eventually Strath convinced Garrett that the captain can be trusted, but Garrett was eventually tied up in the hold under the orders of the captain for the sake of his boat and safety of its passengers. The boat travelled north from Womford along the Dessarin River where the party encountered a group of ghouls that attacked the boat. One of these ghouls had a crown made of barnacles and Zoro managed to get his hands onto it after Strath managed to turn them from the power of his faith.

The crown, when touched, provided Zoro with vivid images of the Riverguard Keep that appears to have some strange secret underground jetty that is guarded by very powerful ghouls. Zoro saw cultists make a strange hand gesture that appeared to appease the ghouls, granting them passage.

The crown was tossed overboard for fear of it being cursed and the Rivermaid pressed on north with no further incident.

Eventually the party reached the keep and a plan was hatched to gain entry to it without drawing attention to the party’s presence before it was too late for the garrison to react. While the genesai captain distracted the gate keeper, who apparently went by the name of ‘Reace’, Eldearnth and Ranor used the magical flight suits to fly onto the top of the gatehouse in an attempt to dispatch the occupants. Sadly they discover the gatekeeper is not alone and they now face three heavily armed guards along with the gatekeeper.

Will the brothers fight off the guards and gatekeeper? How will those on the Rivermaid get into the keep without raising the alarm? Will Garrett actually get a bird companion? Will Ranor stop punching people? All these questions will likely be answered, provided you survive to ask them in the first place.

PART 5

With Dellmon Ranch secured, The Heroes of Red Larch strike out towards Summit Hall. Their travels are plagued by visions of beings from the four elements the cults they are fighting against worship. During the party’s long march they are attacked by bugbear bandits. While fending these beasts off air cultists attack the group in an attempt to put an end to their assaults against the four cults. This failed, as is typical with these engagements, and The Heroes of Red Larch pressed on to Summit Hall.

The party stops off at Beliard, where a message has been dropped off for Strath. The cleric reads the message and his reaction is one of both satisfaction and surprise. Eldearnth meanwhile discovers that there is more to Beliard than meets the eye, with it being built on a fissure that linked this realm to another. Rumours of a vast treasure hidden within the town persist, but no one has discovered its whereabouts. This maddens Eldearnth and his focus moves from the cultists to this treasure.

This doesn’t stop the rogue from stealing the note Strath received and trying to read it, only to find it blank. He secretes it onto Garrett’s person who denies stealing the note and hands it back to Strath. The cleric reads the note again, with the words clearly visible to him.

From Beliard The Heroes of Red Larch arrive at Summit Hall. Upon arrival they are met with Lady Ushien Stormbanner, the leader of the Knights of Samular, named after Samular Caradoon a Paladin of Tyr who died many centuries ago during the Troll Wars.

Lady Stormbanner requests an audience with the party, but only after they have rested and secured provisions for their onward journey. During this time Zoro seeks out a blacksmith who can silver his weapon so that he is properly prepared to take on magical beasts, like the one he encountered at Riverguard Keep. The blacksmith is a dwarf who offers a rusty sword that is festooned with dwarven runes. Not being familiar with this language, Zoro pays them no heed and examines the sword. As he does so he hears whispering in his ear that grows louder and louder the longer he holds the blade. Eventually the whispers become fully formed words in a language Zoro cannot understand.

Drawn to the blade, Zoro asks how much it will cost to buy from the blacksmith. He is promptly told is will cost 800 gp and Zoro’s heart sinks. He knows he cannot afford such a sum and tries to hand back the sword, only to discover that he is unable to let go of it. By this time the voice is becoming almost deafening as it barks at Zoro incomprehensibly. Eventually the blacksmith pries Zoro’s hand from the hilt and retrieves the sword. Zoro vows to return with the rest of the party to discuss terms of the sale.

Return he does with everyone in tow. Many discussions are had concerning the sword, with the revelation that the runes say ‘Zenth’ on one side and ‘Bane’ on the other. Strath half recalls an ancient tale concerning a great dwarven warrior who had a squire by the name of Zenth. This may be the same Zenth who’s spirit, or at least part of it, resides in the sword.
The blacksmith agrees to sell the sword at a reduced price of 500 gp to Zoro. Others in the party try to wield it, but find it hot to touch and are forced to drop it. It is clear that this sword is for Zoro alone. The blacksmith agrees to repair and sharpen the blade and will hand it back to Zoro in 4-5 days. The party agrees to this and hands over the money and a collection of gems. The blacksmith informs Zoro that the sword can speak common, while yelling at it to ‘shut up’ as he disappears into the depths of his forge.

Eldearnth decides to make contact with some unsavoury contacts to secure a large diamond. He is successful, but is also told that his presence is required at the Bargewright Inn near Womford. The Zhentarim are eager to speak with him and his brother over a matter the details of which they cannot reveal. Begrudgingly Eldearnth agrees to this, knowing the journey takes the party far away from their intended target of Sacred Stone Monastery and even further away from Beliard!

Eldearnth makes his way to the apothecary within the walls of Summit Hall Keep and encounters an old woman, who agrees to give him a vial of poison. She tells him to use it sparingly as it is extremely potent.

Towards the end of the day The Heroes of Red Larch meet with Lady Stormbanner and she tells them about the link between a being in the Sacred Stone Monastery and her order of knights.

This being is Renwick Caradoon, brother of Samular Caradoon. He fought alongside his sibling during the Troll Wars and Samular could not bear to see his brother die, so gave him a lich potion that turned him into one. Renwick is not malevolent or indeed insane, he is simply a lich who studies within the Sacred Stone Monastery. Lady Stormbanner does not believe Renwick has allied himself to the Black Earth Cult.

The body of Samular is placed within the foundations of Summit Hall and Renwick wishes it to be interned with him in the Monastery. The Knights of Samular are not keen on this at all as they regard it as their sacred duty to protect their patron’s remains.

Finally Lady Stormbanner asks to see the map Lord Corleth of the High Elves passed to the party after the Siege of Dellmon Ranch that points to the location of Sacred Stone Monastery. She notices that the map is not correct, as Lord Corleth actually located Scarlet Moon Hall, a stronghold of the Cult of the Eternal Flame. She does not know why Lord Corleth did this, but she corrects the map and passes it back to the party.

The Heroes of Red Larch discuss how they are to reach Sacred Stone Monastery only to hear Ranor and Eldearnth demand they had to The Bargewright Inn as they have business to attend to there. There is some disagreement in the party over this as it is some distance from the monastery. Nevertheless an agreement is reached where the party will take to the river via Riverguard Keep. Zoro is keen to return to Summit Hall to retrieve his sword, so the time taken to go to Bargewright Inn and return is seen to be well spent.

Sounds like a great plan, if only the waters of the the Dessarin River weren’t so treacherous…

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