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IC: Dichotomy's Age of Worms Redux, Part VI


OOC Thread
IC Thread, Part I
IC Thread, Part II
IC Thread, Part III
IC Thread, Part IV
IC Thread, Part V(a) & Part V(b)
Parts I-IV Summaries
[sblock=Part V Summary]Day 40
The party members are tossed into cells inside of an unknown structure. Also in the cells are an elven woman, a pair of men, and a third man, unconscious. Erdolliel escapes her bonds, while Bazrim talks to the two men, who call themselves Martal and Regim. Erdolliel questions the elven woman, who seems convinced that the group are somehow trying to give her false hope.

Erdolliel soon opens the lock on the cell door she shares with Eskard, but Martal and Regim then react by opening their own door with a hidden switch and rush to attack the elf and half-orc. With help from Nethezar, blinding Martal, Erdolliel and Eskard quickly drop Regim and subdue Martal, who flees back into his cell and closes the gate with his hidden switch.

The elf woman is persuaded that the party is not playing some ruse. She tells the group that she is Ilya Starmane, from a noble family in the Free City, and has been trapped in this place for maybe a month.

Martal promises to tell the group information in return for his sight, mentioning powerful superiors, but Kushnak has none of his talk. Erdolliel frees Ilya from her cell and turns to open Martal's. The "man" suddenly transforms, changing form to become apparently taller and stronger, but Erdolliel and Eskard quickly bring him down. After depositing the unconscious Martal in the other cell with Regim, Erdolliel looks around and finds the party's belongings in a chest. In another chest, a magic bag is found, and in yet another, some items that (the party later learns) belong to Ilya.

The party finds a hidden door to the south, leading to a large warehouse chamber. The group runs into what seem to be living boxes, but manages to fight them off. After some verbal sparring between Erdolliel and Bazrim, the group examines the area more. After finding a catwalk so old that it collapses the instant Erdolliel touches it, the group also finds a room stocked with boxes and bookcases arrayed with no apparent organization. Foregoing a detailed search for the time, the group instead makes their exit from the warehouse, whereupon an elated Ilya finally believes that the party really are not playing some despicable trick upon her. Ilya tells the group that, based on the look of the place, they are in the River Quarter, a part of the Free City outside the walls proper. She gives the group her periapt of health with thanks and heads back to the city.

After seeing a sign on the warehouse naming it "The Sodden Hold," the group ventures back in, with the notion that (judging from the outside dimensions) not much of the structure remains unsearched.

Deciding to take the time, Erdolliel spends roughly two hours combing through the documents in the one room for some clue about the Sodden Hold. However, none of the documents seem newer than 10 years old. They detail the workings of the business that used the warehouse, which appeared to be part of the general shipping business of the Free City along the river. But the records abruptly stop, with no apparent reason (such as recession or lack of business).

The group makes way back to the cells where they were first deposited in this place. While the unconscious human remains where he was, both Martal and Regim have vanished. Erdolliel checks the unconscious man (believing him to have been dead) and finds him, in fact, alive, but only barely. After deciding that this man is a victim of the same assailants that imprisoned the party, the group heals the man enough to talk. However, the man at first gives nothing but inane babble ("Where is the fish?"; "When the moonlight is brightest, the badgers dance."; random giggling). While Eskard guards the man, he abruptly seems to become lucid and, after exclaiming that he's still in "this awful place," he lunges toward Eskard's sword. The warrior easily renders the man unconscious once more. The group decides to bring him with them.

Opening the door to the north of the cells, the group finds a large room full of stagnant water with weapons piercing the water's surface. Timbers stretch across parts of the room, making thin walkways. Erdolliel senses an unseen presence in the room, and Kushnak gives Eskard the power of flight. Once the warrior enters the room, two invisible beings strike out. Erdolliel is plunged by one of the "somethings" into the weapon-filled water below. While the elf deftly moves back to stable floor, Eskard is assaulted by the invisible things. Kushnak pulls forth a scroll meant to remove invisibility, but, for some reason unknown (except to Bazrim, who never reveals the secret), the spell has no effect. The group quickly comes to the consensus that, with their current means, they cannot fight these foes. With a departing fireball from Bazrim, the group makes hasty retreat into the cell room and slams the doors. There is no pursuit.

Eskard carries the unconscious man from the cell and the group soon leaves the Sodden Hold. While the half-orc uses the remaining flight from the spell, the others discuss what to do next. While Erdolliel voices a desire to seek out Eligos, the others overrule her while mentioning that it may simply not be safe yet to enter the city proper. Eskard leads the group to a secluded grove where they can rest and revisit their plans.

As the group rests, during Eskard's watch, a young couple strays into the resting place. With some magic dust, they force the warrior into a magical sleep, though not before they transform into the forms of Martal and Regim.

The group wakes in a small room. They are bound and gagged, and Erdolliel is drugged out of her senses (and, clearly, her ability to loose herself from the bonds). They are captives of perhaps four alien-looking humanoids with yellow eyes and no hair. Using some magic cube, they appear to attempt to steal Bazrim's magically prowess from him. But something goes wrong with their item. The cube breaks and all goes black.

Nethezar, Kushnak, and Erdolliel awake, but find that Bazrim and Eskard, along with the humanoids, appear to have been obliterated. The remaining three, however, have new powers. Mourning their lost companions, the trio collects the belongings of the other two and exits. They find no sign of the unconscious man they had carried out of the Sodden Hold.

Day 40, Evening
As the sun sets, the trio heads back to the Sodden Hold, invigorated with their new powers (including magic they think will suffice to render the unseen things inside visible) as well as their vengeance.

They slip inside and find nothing different about the place until they reach the room with the weapon-filled water. The room was badly damaged by Bazrim's fireball, and some of the central planks are no longer intact. After discussing their plans, Kushnak flies into the middle of the room. As expected, the half-orc is assailed by the invisible foes. Erdolliel lets loose her prepared spell with the desired effect: two large, amorphous beings takes shape, covered by glitterdust. The trio makes short work of the now-visible beings, though they still don't know what they were.

Making their way through the plank-filled room, the trio finds that the last room contains a shaft leading down to some water with a giant bowl floating on top. Kushnak, aided by flight, and Erdolliel investigate the bowl. Eventually, Erdolliel dives under the water's surface to explore the shaft. After surfacing, once to get some light, and the second to give a status report, the elf submerges for a longer time.

When Erdolliel returns, she tells of an octopus monster that she killed and describes the room she saw. The trio then travel down as a group, Nethezar and Kushnak simply sinking to the bottom and walking. They enter a room, at the bottom of the shaft and at the end of a hallway, with a pillar, a lever, and a door to the south. Ignoring the level for the moment, they head to the south.

They first enter a hallway connect to living quarters of the place's occupants. Those occupants turn out to be the same alien-like creatures that had captured the group before. Erdolliel actually sees two of them changing from human forms to the alien-like forms. Easily defeating the first wave, the trio manages to capture one. Erdolliel interrogates the creature, but it indicates that it knows nothing of the cube device and knows only that they acted because they were told to act. Search of the bedrooms turns up a plethora of outfits and accompanying props.

In the easternmost room, Erdolliel discovers an illusory wall leading to another room. That room is covered in mirrors, and, tied to chairs in the middle, are duplicates of the trio, unarmed and struggling to break free.

Soon enough, the tied-up Nethezar wriggles free, and both Nethezar's begin to argue. Next, the tied-up Kushnak breaks his chains and calls the other an imposter. The tied-up Erdolliel has more trouble, and lunges around while still tied in the chair.

Things soon become chaotic, with one Kushnak claiming this must be an illusion, but one Nethezar claiming that his magic detects no illusion, and the untied Erdolliel seems paralyzed by confusion. With patience virtually gone, Nethezar suddenly pieces together that, because their equipment makes it easy to tell which are the tied and untied versions, the only way there could be doubt about who is real would be if there was "always doubt." With that, the person Kushnak and Nethezar had thought was Erdolliel turns and attacks the half-orc.

With the confusion ended by the fake Erdolliel's attack, Nethezar shatters the manacles holding the real Erdolliel. While the impostors looked like the trio, they were not equipped and could not fight as well. They soon fall.

Reunited with Erdolliel, the group has many questions to answer. Erdolliel informs that that, in fact, she was captured after she went to parlay for the lizardfolk (late on Day 38). After a bit more discussion, and odd banter from Nethezar, the group continues their search.

Returning to the hallway with the bedrooms, Erdolliel falls prey to a nasty pit trap with a false bottom and a silence effect. Erdolliel's ingenuity and the others' perseverance get through the trap.

Heading to the other end, the group finds a planning room. Two tables, covered with maps, notes, and books are in the room, as well as an enormous map of the Free City nearly covering an entire wall. Before delving into the documents, Erdolliel discovers a secret door leading out of the room.

Passing through the secret door, the group enters a maze of polished metal mirrors. Moving slowly, the group encounters enemies, using cover of invisibility and manipulating odd triggers causing portions of the wall to slam into place, cutting of passages. Having disguised their number, the alien-like creatures nearly kill Nethezar. Erdolliel and Kushnak manage to more than even the odds, but the final foe nearly kills Kushnak, while Nethezar bleeds on the floor. Kushnak manages to revive himself, and he and Erdolliel kill the last foe, but not before Nethezar's lifeblood leaves him.

Erdolliel and Kushnak gather their things and Nethezar and make haste to leave. They return to the water-filled pillar room, through the lever, and seen the water drain out the bottom. With the help of air walk, Kushnak brings them up the shaft, and soon they reach the open air (which the real Erdolliel had not seen for some time). After discussing what to do next, they find a secluded spot to hide and rest for the remainder of the night.

Day 41
After the some comes up, Erdolliel and Kushnak bring Nethezar's body into the city, where they find the pyramid-shaped temple of Boccob. Inside, they meet a middle-aged elf called Scholar Venli. Venli arranges for some of the party's possession to be valued and exchanged from bringing Nethezar back from the dead. Nethezar, apparently, also made some arrangement of his own with Venli, and Nethezar turns over one of his journals to the church.

The trio make their way back out of the city to rest in seclusion. Nethezar furiously writes in a new journal the rest of the day.

Day 42
Nethezar examines a gem Erdolliel found on the fake version of herself. The scholar discerns that the gem somehow holds Erdolliel's thoughts, so that her thoughts could be easily read with magic. Putting that aside for the moment, the group returns back to the warehouse.

Upon reaching the strange well, the trio finds that, somehow, the water level had returned. Erdolliel uses the same trick, tying the rope to herself, that the fake Erdolliel used. She swims to the pedestal below, flips the lever, and the water level begins to drop. While waiting for the others to ride down in the sinking bowl, Erdolliel spots someone spying on her.

After making some preparations, the trio heads back into the lair. To the south of the maze, Erdolliel finds a door leading to a throne room. Inside, she sees someone appearing to be Allustan. When Kushnak and Nethezar enter, the supposed-Allustan claims to have arrived looking for the group. The being has a surprising amount of knowledge and shares that the alien-like creatures are called "doppelgangers." Kushnak, unconvinced, argues with the supposed-Allustan, who then moves to strike with a spell. The trio, however, reacts quickly. A well-used blindness spell virtually ends the fight. The creature changes form a couple of times: once to a hawkish old wizard and then to a brutish orc. While Erdolliel succumbs to a confusion spell, Kushnak and Nethezar quickly dispatch it. Kushnak severs its head, and it reverts to the same alien-like form as the other doppelgangers.

Once Erdolliel returns to her senses, the trio begins to examine the room, but Kushnak sets off a trap. Erdolliel finds a great deal of treasure. She also finds a ring of keys and sees that this doppelganger has a strange symbol on its head.

Finally, on the throne itself, she finds a button. Pressing the button leads to another room. Inside, a whole slew of more treasure is found, a multitude of documents displaying the doppelgangers' infiltration of the Free City, as well as the following note:

I have a task for you, thrall. Meet me at the sewer junction beneath the cold forge and I will give you the details. There are some troublesome small minds that must be removed.

The note is signed with the same symbol found on the doppelganger's head.

Erdolliel returns to the throne room and examines the strange device at the west end. Near it, she finds other gems, like the one storing her thoughts.

The trio resolves to gather all of the information they have and bring it to Eligos. They return to the room with the large map of the Free City and also gather up the documentation there. But, before actually leaving, Erdolliel suggests camping in the lair so that Nethezar can try to identify the large contraption in the throne room the next morning. The trio returns to the throne room, where Nethezar and Kushnak secure the place. Erdolliel returns to scout of the entirety of the complex.

Erdolliel moves into water chamber. She is attacked by two drow and an aberration:

The elf flings a fireball at her assailants and flees to meet up with the others. The trio makes their way back to the chamber. They fight and defeat both drow, but the aberration is no where to be found.

The trio discusses what to do next. Using the power of flight, Kushnak carries Nethezar and Erdolliel to the secret door from which the drow came. After about 50 feet, the tunnel behind the door abruptly changes in structure. It appears to join the Free City's sewer system, which the trio can plainly tell could involve several twists and turns without any trail they have the ability to follow.

The trio discusses the possibility of using speak with dead to learn something, though Nethezar suggests that it may have limited utility. The other option appears to be get in touch with Eligos. Settling upon resting the night in the throne room, per the original plan, they carry the drow back to the throne room. Once there, Erdolliel searches the drow, finding useful treasure as well as a yellow phosphorescent fungus caking their boots. Erdolliel saves some of the fungus.

Erdolliel makes a full comb of the lair and the trio gets some rest in the throne room.

Day 43
Upon waking, Kushnak prepares and casts his spell, speaking with one of the dead drow. The questioning indicates that the drow's master is an illithid, and its lair is hours away via the tunnels: "Near cold forge, find beggar's gold, in old and low places."

Nethezar then identifies the contraption in the throne room. It is apparently the device that was used to create the gem storing Erdolliel's thoughts. The trio destroys the contraption, and Kushnak saves the helmet.

The trio then makes way back out to the docks district of the Free City. Quickly deciding that they need answers, they head to Eligos' manor. While initially distrustful of Eligos, in light of the recent events, the trio explains to the sage what happened. Eligos confirms that the shapechangers were doppelgangers, and he explains some of their abilities. He suggests finding an investigator to pour of the materials the trio found to determine the full extent of the doppelgangers' infilcation of the Free City. Eligos then describes the illithid and how the note found suggests that the doppelgangers were merely the illithid's pawns. The sage explains that he does not know anything about "cold forge," but he knows about the phosphorescent fungus called "beggar's gold." Finally, at Kushnak's request, Eligos generates a list of possible new places for the trio to stay.

Nethezar muses that the illithid might have sent the doppelgangers after the trio, meaning that the illithid wanted the trio dead before they had killed the doppelgangers. He rhetorically asks what the illithid might do now that the doppelgangers failed.

Finally, in sending off the trio, Eligos recommends some spells that might protect against the illithid. He suggests either checking with an investigator of the City Watch or the clergy of St. Cuthbert regarding the doppelgangers' influence in the Free City.

The trio makes way to "Sam's Respite," where they rest and craft some items. Erdolliel learns from a patron that there is a smithy called "Cold Forge" in the Artisan's Quarter run by a human named Crusty Patten.

Day 44
The trio makes way to the Garden Quarter to the Sacred Temple of St. Cuthbert. There, they meet Investigator Gust, a cleric of St. Cuthbert. Gust uses a Zone of Truth spell to get all the details from the trio about the doppelgangers and verifies the authenticity of the documents the trio found. Gust promises to thoroughly investigate the extent of the doppelgangers' influence in the Free City, going as far as necessary. He indicates, however, that there is little he can do about the threat of the illithid. Finally, Gust even gives the trio a reward for the information they provided.

The trio then sells off some of their equipment and return's to Sam's Respite to craft more items.

Day 45
The trio wakes and spends the day crafting and getting some more rest.

That evening, the trio relaxes in the dining hall of Sam's Respite, but they are interrupted by a messenger. The messenger delivers a written note:
My home is compromised. Need to meet as soon as possible. Caravan Park, outside the south gate, at makeshift tent bar. -E

While making their way toward the south gate, a quartet of guards takes interest in the trio, and Erdolliel sees one of them have slightly changing facial features. When the guards order to the trio to stop, Erdolliel lashes out on the offensive. For a short time, Kushnak is able to disrupt Erdolliel's attack, and Nethezar enthralls the guards with almost magical persuasive power. After two guards are sent away on random errands, true combat breaks out with the other two. Nethezar disables one with a hideous laughter spell, and Kushnak slices the shape-changing guard wide open. However, the guard does not change form upon death as the trio would expect from a doppelganger. After quickly searching the not-doppelganger, the trio flees to the city wall and, via dimension door, escapes outside the wall.

Once outside the wall, Erdolliel confesses that, after she saw the guard's features change, she heard a "voice" tell her she had to act. Kushnak surmises that a hair clip found on that guard must have effected the change of appearance, and Nethezar posits that the "voice" was a spell compelling Erdolliel to act.

The trio finds the makeshift bar in the Caravan Park, but after a long time, the trio decides that Eligos isn't coming. They sneak off into the forest near the Free City and, fortunately, manage to get through the night.

Day 46
After waking, Kushnak sends an animal messenger to Eligos, and the sage replies that they should meet him at his home. Nethezar helps the trio adopt disguises and talks their way past the gate guard.

The trio reaches Eligos' home, and Kushnak demands answers from the sage. After hearing a brief retelling of the events of the previous night, Eligos offers what he has learned:
- All the clues the trio has gathered point to activity of a cult of a minor deity, Kyuss, with mastery over the undead.
- The zombie-like creatures with worms are called Spawn of Kyuss, and their presence in the Cairn Hills region indicates increased activity of the cult of Kyuss.
- The Ebon Triad (dedicated to merging the gods Hextor, Vecna, and Erythnull into an overgod, which is considered heresy by the churches' dogma) is not itself a part of the cult of Kyuss, but the clues point toward a dangerous alliance between the two cults.
- Eligos suspects this alliance relates to the Age of Worms, a dark age when "life gives way... to something else."
- Many sources have bits of prophecy about the Age of Worms, but Eligos has never seen so many clues toward the Age of Worms as you have found.
- Eligos suspects that the illithid is likely connected to one or both of the cults.

For assistance, Eligos offers his services identifying magic items, offers to "stifle" issues with the Free City guard, and gives the trio a note good for a scroll of mind blank. The trio takes some time eating the breakfast the sage provided, and Nethezar confirms that the hair clip is a hat of disguise. After learning more information, Eligos reports that the three surviving guards had already reported that they themselves were also the victims of enchantment. Therefore, the guards will be looking to make the whole matter fade from memory.

The trio picks up the scroll and makes way to the Cold Forge smithy. After looking around inside and not finding any out-of-sight sewer entrance, Nethezar leads the trio in a ruse that they are Free City workers. The trio easily heads into the sewers under color of authority.

The trio begins scouring the sewers in methodical fashion, looking for the yellow phosphorescent fungus called "beggar's gold." After only a couple hours, they manage to find what appears to be the entrance to the illithid's lair. Entering the lair, Erdolliel sets off an explosion of yellow fungus, which must not have been the harmless "beggar's gold." The trio also runs afoul of shrieking toadstools. Erdolliel destroys the entire lot with a fireball.

After some healing is administered to Erdolliel for the fungus spores she inhaled, the trio continues forward. In a tunnel, with a higher ledge on one side, the trio finds the floor covered in lantern oil. Erdolliel preemptively sets the trapped floor aflame. Kushnak and Erdolliel both cast fly and take the fight to three drow hiding atop the ledge. While Erdolliel has some problems, due to the remaining effects of the fungus spores, the trio largely mops up the drow with little trouble.

Erdolliel scouts forward, and sees a large snake-like creature near a pool of water. Not waiting for provocation, Erdolliel lashes out with scorching rays, but Nethezar, for some reason, rushes in to heal the thing. Both Erdolliel and Kushnak felt some magical tug on their will when they saw the creature. The creature casts an invisibility spell and flees. The trio decides to ignore it.

The still-flying Erdolliel sneaks into the next room, which is an enormous chamber. She spots six drow that clearly are on alert, waiting to ambush the trio. Erdolliel gets the drop on them with an ice storm. The trio engages with the six drow, the leader of whom appears to be a female drow cleric. The trio fairly easily bests the five males, but Nethezar succumbs to a confusion spell. While Erdolliel cleans up the last of the men, Kushnak chases down the female cleric, as she flees further ahead. Kushnak deals a great amount of pain to the cleric, but she leads him right into the jaws of three monstrous six-tentacled alien creatures. The trio defeats the cleric and the three alien creatures.

The trio, having reached what appears to be the true entrance to the illithid's lair, decides to press on rather than give the creature a chance to use its network and cunning to strike at them again.

The trio bashes in the doors to the illithid's sanctum. Inside, the find a strange stone brain, which they ignore for the moment. They move further ahead, into the illithid's laboratory. There they find a much larger version of the six-tentacled alien creatures. The creature completely tears Nethezar in half, but Erdolliel and Kushnak manage to kill it. Despite the loss of Nethezar, Erdolliel and Kushnak decide that they still must press on.

The pair quickly passes through the illithid's museum and makes there way to the illithid's grand chamber, where the illithid itself, along with another of the tentacled creatures, waits to do battle. While Erdolliel quickly dispatches the tentacled creature, the illithid's magic and psionic powers completely disable Kushnak. Using the power of invisibility to make the most of her cunning strikes, Erdolliel battles with the illithid as it fights back with powerful bolts of lightning. Erdolliel barely manages to bring the creature down.

Erdolliel explores the illithid's sanctum, and she finds a strange pool of water that, through some divination, shows her a view of the doppelganger's lair below the Sodden Hold. Erdolliel also captures a few tadpole creatures she finds in the large pool in the grand chamber. Finally, the pair searches the illithid's private chamber. They find a ledger written in an unknown language.

As they make their way back out, the pair stops to closely examine the illithid's museum. Erdolliel accidentally activates a trap that causes the large statue in the room to come to life. The extraplanar outsider, apparently grateful for its freedom, agrees to allow the pair to take a doll from the museum that curiously looks like Nethezar, as long as they leave everything else. The pair stops briefly to gather Nethezar's body, and Erdolliel discovers the the stone brain in the entrance is a trap, which she disables.

Erdolliel and Kushnak make their way back out, but stop to investigate the chamber to the south of where the drow appeared to reside. Kushnak easily destroys them, and the duo finds some captives of the drow. Erdolliel then hunts down the snakelike creature that was passed over before, and she and Kushnak kill it. The duo leads the prisoners back out of the sewers and into the Free City.

In the Free City, Erdolliel and Kushnak bring Nethezar's remains to the temple of Boccob, where, once more, he is raised by Scholar Venli. The trio then makes way to a new place to rest, sends a message to Eligos, and decides to take some time to recuperate and craft some new magic items.

Day 47 - 50
The trio lays low while Kushnak crafts an array of magical items.[/sblock]
[sblock=Summary of the Summaries]The Whispering Cairn
Boldak (dwarf rogue), Trenton (human fighter), Nav (human sorcerer), and Alexis (human cleric) meet up by coincidence. They are largely without prospects in the horrible town of Diamond Lake. Instigated by rumors that another adventuring group has begun investigating the Cairn Hills near Diamond Lake, the four set out to search the Whispering Cairn. Nav dies during the first foray into the cairn, and a new magical addition to the party, Breth (human mage) takes his place. Trenton dies during the second foray into the cairn, and Viktor (human paladin) takes his place. Alendar (elf ranger) also joins to round out the group.

The group deals with a lantern puzzle and many traps, and Breth dies near the end. They eventually run into a ghost, the help of which is needed to continue into the cairn. The ghost sends the group to the Land family farm, where Alendar and Alexis meet Llyr (feycaster). The ghost's request, that his body be reunited with his family's bodies, sends the group after the flunkies of mine manager Balabar Smenk. Boldak is killed in the fight with the flunkies, with the blame laid at Viktor's feet for his attempt to stay out of the fight. Alendar leaves the group. Alexis, Llyr, and Viktor recruit Brannak (human bard) and Dav (human rogue) to join them.

The group heads to the observatory to confront the necromancer Filge, who has the Land family's remains. The group recovers the remains and finds a note to Filge from "S" outlining the presence of a cult operating beneath the Dourstone Mine in Diamond Lake.

With the ghost appeased, the group is able to continue into the Whispering Cairn. The group sees "steam murals" depicting the Wind Dukes of Aaqa, particularly a Wind Duke named Zosiel. They also find a diadem inscribed with Zosiel's glyph (which is also a circlet of wisdom) and an inactive talisman of the sphere. When the group reports to Allustan, the sage of Diamond Lake, he gives them a brief history of the Wind Dukes of Aaqa.

The Three Faces of Evil
The group meets with Balabar Smenk. Smenk tells them that a cult called the Ebon Triad has taken hold of a temple beneath Dourstone Mine and that Ragnolin Dourstone is sheltering the cult. Smenk tells the group that, if they can free him from his association with the cult (by destroying it), he will forgive them for the deaths of his flunkies.

The group enters the mine and easily makes way to the temple. The temple is broken into three distinct sections, and upon entry, followers of the god Hextor immediately take the fight to the group. In a tough fight against an organized force, the group toughs it out. They find the chief Hextorite cleric's journal, which speaks of the Faceless One, Grallak Kur, the Ebon Triad, and an Overgod.

The group next enters the section of the temple devoted to Vecna. They enter a labyrinth, where they are assaulted by bird-men engaging in guerrilla-warfare tactics. Upon reaching the end of the maze, the group succumbs to an overwhelming force of magic and undead monsters. They all perish.

Kushnak (half-orc cleric), Eskard (half-orc barbarian), Nethezar (human cleric), Erdolliel (elf rogue), and Bazrim (dwarf wizard) are approached by a flunky for Smenk. Smenk offers the group a reward if they go into the Dourstone Mine to finish the work the previous group started.

The group first checks out the Hextorite temple and then proceeds into the unmarked caverns, which turn out to be the temple of Erythnul's followers. They defeat the inhabitants of the caverns and find the high priest's rambling writings, which mention the Ebon Triad, the return of Kyuss, and the Age of Worms.

The group then enters the temple devoted to Vecna. They encounter the powerful, and "faceless", wizard that killed the previous group, and defeat him, though Erdolliel dies. The group finds interesting treasure, including the letter from "S" to Filge, the diadem with Zosiel's glyph, inactive talisman of the sphere, and several journals and a code book. Before too long, a monstrous amalgamation of the three deities of the Ebon Triad forms and attacks the group. They manage to best it.

Nethezar deciphers all the documents found, and he breaks the code on the newest document taken from the faceless mage. It talks about Kyuss as the "herald of the Overgod," an "Ebon Aspect" stirring in the pool in the central chamber, worms carried by undead hosts, a "Rift," the decision to kill Smenk, and the need to send agents to the lizardfolk in the Mistmarsh.

The group goes back to meet Smenk, who obviously had sent them into the temple without expecting them to come back. As the group leaves town, they are attacked by thugs and they hear the voice of Allustan directing them out of town. Allustan tells them that it was he, and not Smenk, that had sent the previous group into Dourstone Mine. The group agrees to escort Allustan to Blackwall Keep, on the edge of the Mistmarsh, and Allustan convinces the Church of Heironeous to bring Erdolliel back to life.

Encounter at Blackwall Keep
The group heads out with Allustan toward Blackwall Keep. En route, they stay at a farmhouse called "Shank's Rest," where Allustan brings the group up to speed about what the previous group had learned about the Wind Dukes of Aaqa, evidence of the Ebon Triad, green worms and the undead Spawn of Kyuss, and how Kyuss had, according to lore, appeared over a thousand years ago in the Rift Canyon to the north. Kyuss had, legend says, created many new undead and had an undead dragon at his side. Kyuss was called the Harbinger of the Age of Worms. Allustan is heading to Blackwall Keep to meet the battle mage Marzena, who has reported the presence of green worms.

When the group arrives at Blackwall Keep, they find it under siege by lizardfolk. Allustan asks the group to give whatever aid they can to the keep, while he teleports back to Diamond Lake to summon reinforcements from the Garrison. With good scouting, planning, and a well-used fireball, the group bests the lizardfolk and liberates the keep. The haggard survivors at the keep inform the group that they have lost half their number, including their commander, and some of them, including Marzena, were captured by the lizardfolk and brought into the Mistmarsh.

The group heads into the Mistmarsh. After terrible travel and run-ins with marsh denizens, they find the lizardfolk lair. With a rampant offense, primarily the fly-powered Eskard, most of the lizardfolk quickly die before they even know they are under attack. The human prisoners are soon freed, and a truce is reached with the hermaphrodite shaman, Hishka, who requests that the group kill the lizardfolk king. Hishka tells the group the reason behind the attack on Blackwall Keep: the tribe had previously lost a whole generation of eggs, which were infested with worms. The king had convinced the lizardfolk that the humans were at fault, and the new eggs were guarded by strange kobolds of extremely draconic nature. The group finds the current batch of eggs, with a huge black egg, which appears to be an altered dragon egg, in their midst. With a promise to Hishka to send word from the Free City to set up a truce, the group brings Marzena and the other survivors back to Blackwall Keep.

When the group reaches the keep, they meet the Garrison reinforcements, but also learn that the prior battlemage had long ago been infected by green worms after visiting the lizardfolk. The soldiers at the keep had kept the infected mage secured, but, while the group was in the Mistmarsh, the mage had broken free and captured others. The group manages to defeat the Spawn of Kyuss.

The group brings Marzena with them back to Diamond Lake. Allustan advises them that the dragon egg is, in fact, infested with worms that would create more Spawn of Kyuss. He implores the group to head to the Free City to meet the sage Eligos, who studied under the same master as Allustan.

The Hall of Harsh Reflections
The group heads to the Free City. They find the home of Eligos in the affluent Garden District. After hearing the group's tale, he tells them he will need about a week to investigate matters. The sage sends the group to the Crooked House in the Foreign Quarter.

The group has a run-in with an escaped chimera and a band of thieves. Erdolliel arranges for a negotiating party to meet with Hishka and the lizardfolk. At the Crooked House, the group settles in for a bard's storytelling, but a shapechanger impersonating Nethezar attacks Tarquin, the owner of the Crooked House. While the group manages to save Tarquin's life, they are still taken into custody until their story, and Nethezar's innocence, can be investigated.

While in custody, the group is moved to a different location: a warehouse called "The Sodden Hold." They free an elven noble, Ilya Starmane and another man, who seems to have lost his sanity. While resting outside the warehouse, the group is captured again. Alien-looking humanoids, later learned to be doppelgangers, use a magic cube to attempt to steal Bazrim's magical powers. The cube malfunctions, causing the deaths of the doppelgangers, as well as Bazrim and Eskard. Nethezar, Kushnak, and Erdolliel find that they have new powers.

The trio heads back into The Sodden Hold. They find a subterranean level. They find three copies of themselves, a trick of the doppelgangers, and Nethezar and Kushnak discover that the Erdolliel that had been with them was actually a fake. After killing the doppelgangers, the reunited group realizes that Erdolliel had been replaced when she had arranged for the lizardfolk treaty. They continue exploring the doppelgangers' lair, and Nethezar is slain. Kushnak and Erdolliel bring his body to the temple of Boccob, where Nethezar is brought back to life. Finally finishing their search of The Sodden Hold, the trio finds a fake-Allustan leading the doppelgangers. While gathering as much evidence as they can of the doppelgangers' plans, Erdolliel is assaulted by an aberration they later learn is an illithid.

The trio meets up with Eligos once more. They discuss how the doppelgangers must have been pawns for the illithid, and the illithid apparently wanted the trio dead even before they encountered the doppelgangers.

The trio supplies information about the doppelgangers' infiltration of the Free City with an investigator, and they try to get some respite. Their plan, however, is foiled, as the illithid tricks them out of the city and also tricks some guards into attacking them.

Looking for answers, the trio again connects with Eligos. Eligos tells them about the minor deity Kyuss, the Spawn of Kyuss, the Ebon Triad, and the Age of Worms. Eligos suggests that the illithid is connected with the Cult of Kyuss, the Ebon Triad, or both. The trio seeks out the illithid's lair to hunt it down, before it can attack them again. The trio fights drow and aberrations as they make their way through the illithid's lair beneath the Free City streets. While Nethezar falls in battle, Erdolliel and Kushnak ultimately defeat the sorcerous illithid and find some evidence that may prove useful. After meeting a demon and freeing some captives, Nethezar is brought back from the dead. The trio seeks out Eligos again for more answers.[/sblock]

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End of Day 50

After giving Eligos fair warning that they would be coming, the trio heads back to the sage's home in Garden District of the Free City. Once the trio arrives, Pollard shows them to the palor. Eligos already waits, sitting in a tall, velvet-upholstered chair. One chair for each of the trio are also arrayed around a low table set with tantalizing dishes.

Eligos stands as the trio enters. "Good evening, my friends! I am glad you faired well with the illithid. I trust you brought your appetites? I tend to eat dinner as I get the chance, and I hope this somewhat informal repast doesn't offend you. Good, I thought not. In any event, let's eat--after dinner, we can discuss matters further."

As you chat, Eligos reiterates much of what he mentioned before. Unfortunately, in the time since you last spoke, the sage has not uncovered anything else truly of substance. He remains convinced, however, that the illithid's involvement cannot be merely by chance, and he is particularly interested in whether you found any link between the illithid and the Ebon Triad or the cult of Kyuss.
[sblock=OOC]For reference, this is verbatim what Eligos told you before, from post #511 in Part V(b):[sblock]"All of the clues that you have found point to one dark secret. There exists a minor deity, which exercises dominion in the areas of the creation of and mastery over undead. That deity is Kyuss.

"The zombie-like undead that you have fought, the so-called Spawn of Kyuss, while the most notorious of Kyuss' creations, are also the least dangerous. They are, however, extremely fecund, as they can infect the very persons attempting to destroy them, and thereby increase their numbers.

"The presence of the Spawn of Kyuss in the Cairn Hills region, especially combined with the worms you have found, clearly indicates that the cult of Kyuss has become more active in the area. That cult, traditionally, has been small and, relatively, without influence or power. Often, a sect of the cult was simply a single priest living a double life.

"The Ebon Triad, however, is much newer and, in fact, is not inherently a part of the cult of Kyuss at all. Your evidence suggests an alliance between the two. There must be some dark purpose behind such an alliance. While I can only speculate, I suspect it may relate to the coming Age of Worms.

"The Age of Worms has been spoken of for as long as any other such tale has been told. It has often been called other things: the End Times, The Dark Age, the Eternal Ruin... The Age of Worms is an ancient set of prophecies outlining a transformation of the entire world, a time when life gives way... to something else. Some rare texts, the Book of Vile Darkness, Libris Mortis, the Necronomicon, and the Apostolic Scrolls have recordings of these prophecies. They can also be found inscribed in ancient ruins throughout the world.

"There are many theories about the Age of Worms. But I can tell you that I have never seen so many references from different sources as the evidence you have found. Something is building."

Eligos shakes his head and sighs again. "Unfortunately, that does not give you much in the way of 'concrete' detail. On the other hand, there can be little doubt that the illithid is connected somehow with one or both of these cults, unless you have done something else in the past that would make people seek your destruction with such vehemence."[/sblock]Also, in post #514:[sblock]"While I understand your frustration with the generality of my synopsis, the delay was not caused by me tracking down and studying the rare texts. On the contrary, at best I have found only second, third, or even fourth-hand accounts. Not only are these specific texts extremely rare, they were created for and studied by groups of people that consider themselves elite and require extreme secrecy to survive.

"The Ebon Triad, for example, is dedicated to merging the gods Hextor, Vecna, and Erythnull into a mighty overgod. They are, however, considered heretics even by the clerics of those gods. You would be hard pressed to find information about the Ebon Triad, because the Triad itself must operate so secretly, and the churches of those three gods keep it brutally suppressed to avoid losing converts to the cult.

"In short, I have never seen a physical copy of any of these texts, and even the Great Library here has never possessed them."
[/sblock]I took some liberty with just going ahead and assuming that you'd see Eligos at the end of day 50 (I didn't think there was any reason to wait until the next morning). If there's other stuff we still need to take care of, let me know. I was kind of excited just to move to a new thread, post summaries, etc.

Also, feel very free to ask Eligos questions about, basically, anything that you want.[/sblock]


First Post
[sblock=oc]Doh! After Erdolliel permanancifies herself with Comprehend Languages, she'll use it to read the ledger. She'll almost certainly then tell Eligos all about whatever is in it. More post later.[/sblock]


First Post
Erdolliel politely eats with Eligos listening carefully for any new information. After he has finished, she clears her throat and speaks. "We have not discovered much new information relating to the Triad. However, there were a couple oddities beneath the city..." The elf then describes their journey beneath cold forge ending with: "So, in the end we brought you a bottle of minnows, a ledger with the interesting information of a new person that wants us dead, and this doll in the likeness of our bard here. That this Lord Raknian purchased on of the rare texts you've been seeking isn't good news at all." She then waits for Eligos' reaction to the story.[sblock=oc]I don't imagine that there is anything we want to leave out, so she'll tell it all.

oh and the wife was in a big car accident today while driving to a conference in Missoula. She's fine, kiddo's fine, she got to her hotel eventually after 2 ambulance rides and a few hours of fetal observation. She actually is fine, just a sore hand for her and a pretty beat up car.[/sblock]
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[sblock=OOC]Once she's able to read the ledger, Erdolliel discovers that it details the illithid's recent business transactions in rare and dangerous items with patrons throughout the Free City. The most recent transaction lists a payment to the illithid from Loris Raknian for the sale of a relic listed as the Apostolic Scrolls. Also of note is a transaction from some time earlier noting that Loris Raknian also paid the illithid to assassinate Erdolliel, Kushnak, Nethezar, Bazrim, and Eskard.[/sblock]


When Erdolliel mentions Loris Raknian and the Apostolic Scrolls, Eligos' countenance turns dark.

"The Scrolls are extremely rare. Raknian... is the director of the Free City Arena. The fact that someone as prominent as Raknian purchased them can only lead to darkness. I know little about the Scrolls. They were supposedly penned by Kyuss himself, and they detail the creation of a creature called the ulgurstasta, a massive undead creature that consumes the living and regurgitates them as undead. The Scrolls have a further ritual that can even enhance the powers of the ulgurstasta.

"That Raknian tried to have you killed means that he clearly learned of what you did in Diamond Lake and Blackwall Keep, and he decided to be... proactive. You must be extremely cautious. Raknian is a powerful and influential man, very popular with the Free City government. If you directly confront him, you would be revealing that you know he's involved, which would simply lead him to take more extreme action.

"Some proof, however, concrete proof of his dealings could show the authorities that he means ill for even the Free City itself. If you could even find the Apostolic Scrolls themselves, even better."


First Post
Kushnak takes is time to study the situation shortly before positing, "What if we....Disguise our selves and find some cause to meet with him, if only to aid with a later step. We could even attempt to steal something from him. Then, through a subtle deception, we could attempt to signal him that someone is coming immediately to collect the scrolls... and then... we would scry him. Hoping he moves to them immediately.... Which assumes he still has them..." He trails off near the end and shakes his head.

"We have access to magic that could locate the scrolls themselves, but we would need clear images in our minds in order to locate them... which means we'd need to see them. So."


First Post
Erdolliel chews on her lip for awhile before speaking. "Is there some way we could use the City Guard to assist us? I don't particularly trust them though, and they have no reason to trust us. Besides they might be in league with Raknian.

Although... What about Investigator Gust from St. Cuthbert? He might value the additional information on the Illithid and maybe he'll be able to assist us in gathering information on Raknian. We could go meet him to start at least."


As Kushnak and Erdolliel posit courses of action, Eligos appears lost in thought.

Nethezar looks at Erdolliel and shakes his head. "If Raknian is popular with the Free City government, as Eligos says, the City Guard will be of no use. Even if they aren't actually in league with Raknian, they would protect him unless they were sure of his wrongdoing. Which means that if we told the Guard, certainly word would get back to Raknian. Raknian wanted us dead because he found out that we were involved. But he does not yet know that we know he was behind the plot to assassinate us. The less certain he is of our actual knowledge, the more cautious he has reason to be."

Though only half-listening, Eligos also picked up Nethezar's point. "It would be difficult to overstate Raknian's influence in the Free City. If Raknian knew how close you are to actually exposing him, he would have substantially greater resources than even the illithid to throw at you.

"This... Investigator Gust... could be a good avenue. Though he may lack the resources..."
Eligos pauses, and the sage gets a sparkle in his eye. Erdolliel hears him mumble to himself about "killing two birds."

"I know a way that you could, as Kushnak suggests, find cause to get close to Raknian, if not meet him outright. Are you familiar with the Champion's Games? They are a contest in the Free City Arena, which starts in only a few days. I have a friend who came to me seeking a group of heroes to sponsor in the Champion's Games. While 'gladiator' is not too far removed from 'adventurer,' this may be just the disguise Kushnak wanted."


First Post
"Just which bird are we now?" Erdolliel asks with an extra air of caution.[sblock=oc]on my way out to OR and then MN for weddings and whatnot. I might be able to post on tripv[/sblock]
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