A World in the Balance

On the Road to Revenge
Possibly the only time in gaming history that the party has picked Cauldrev's choice...

Game #43

Noting that the card in the late Haggart’s grasp was made of onyx, Cauldrev asks Opal if he may have it to see if it will react with the onyx card he already possesses. As Opal is handing it to him, the image on it shifts into something new. Cauldrev finds that the two cards become one when they are brought together and that they can be separated again if he wishes to do so. Ghesh opens the slim case he received from the mysterious woman and finds that it holds six ornate platinum charms, one from each deity represented in the Church of Many. Exploration of the Royal Manor proves that it has also been ransacked and the party decides that it is time to return to the Hold.

With Haggart’s body in tow, the group makes a brief stop at the crypts only to find that Fenryth’s tomb is sealed once again. They can only assume he has gotten the rest that he has long deserved. The journey back to the Hold is uneventful and at the main gates they are informed that the General will probably wish to see them at their earliest convenience. They decide to stop and see Elsbet first so they may return the remains of her ancestor and also tell her all that has transpired in Galdegfast. After leaving Haggart’s journals and the schematics from his workshop with her, they go to visit the General in the main keep.

The General is outraged to hear that their adversary was Orcus but is also overjoyed at the prospect of repopulating Galdegfast once again. He informs them that he wishes to have a ceremony in the center of town in two days to present the heroes with gifts of appreciation and to reveal the liberation of the ancient dwarven city to his people. Also, at the request of Gavin, he promises that the full tale of their exploits will be recorded in the Codex for future generations to view. The adventurers obtain rooms at The Gilded Pick for some well-earned rest and to discuss their prospects in the days to come. After much discussion, it is decided that the time has come to confront Warden Mordant and his corrupt armies in the capital city of Qimtar, Pedryn.

There is much rejoicing from the dwarven populace upon learning about the liberation of Galdegfast. The heroes are presented with tokens of appreciation from the finest craftsmen in the city. All of the items have been embellished with unique knot work that signifies the bearer as a friend and ally to the dwarves. The adventurers pack their things and prepare to depart the Hold for good. As they are bidding the General farewell, he asks if they are willing to perform him one last service since they are headed to Pedryn. They are tasked with returning the body of Lord Amherst Drexel to the half-elf enclave along with official documents explaining an alternate version of his death so as to avoid political conflict between the dwarves and the powers that be above ground. The party reluctantly agrees to do so and sets out for the surface with seventh magically preserved member added to their ranks.

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The Shadow of a Demon Prince
Possibly the only time in gaming history where someone has taunted the Lord of the Undead with "Orcus Porcus"...

Game #42

Under the restored glow of the constellations projected upon the ceiling of the cavern, the party could now see that the remainder of the city sat upon a raised portion of land. Another of the odd Y-shaped bridges spanned the river an provided access to the area above. The party continued on and climbed up the portion of the bridge near the observatory. At the top, they came to a long promenade lined with six statues that led to a manor house. The doors to the manor were a smaller replica of the gate leading into Galdegfast and they were firmly sealed.

The six statues were facing away from the bridge and they were constructed out of six different metals. There was a silver priest, a steel warrior, a gold falconer, a mithril militiaman, a bronze mechanic and a brass night watchman. Each bore a plaque at the base. Together, they read:

For finding faith where there was none
For fighting battles that could not be won
For spreading word when we were silenced
For rallying defenses unyielding and defiant
For providing aid with only intellect’s spark
For bearing light to fight the dark

As the adventurers begin to examine the statues closer, they realized that they all appeared to be incomplete in some way or another. Opal found the bird upon the falconer’s arm was missing a tail feather. Cauldrev attempted to fit the golden feather of Galivar into the statue and found it to be a perfect fit. The statue began to move and rotated into a position where it was once again facing the center of the bridge. With assistance from Gavin, Opal was able to place the hammer she found in the Temple of Moradin as the missing piece of the holy symbol for the silver priest as well, returning it to its proper position. While determining what other items they needed to locate for the remaining statues, they also noticed that there were drops of blood on the bridge leading to the gate. Tracking bloodstains backwards, they once again found themselves at Haggart’s workshop. It seemed highly possible that Haggart had been injured at his desk and had managed to make it to the manor house.

After collecting a brass lantern from Haggart’s workshop, a bronze wrench from the observatory and the steel sword used by the abomination in the Church of the Many, the group returned to the promenade to place the items, righting all of the statues but one. No one could recall seeing a mithril shield anywhere in the city but the mystery was solved by the appearance of Fenryth Stormfist. The shield of the undead warden was the last piece needed to unlock the manor and now that the darkness had been driven back almost entirely, Fenryth was able to manifest inside of the city without fear of being controlled. He informed the group that the locks on the manor were usually used to keep attackers out but it appeared as if they had been triggered this time to keep something inside. Before placing his shield, the undead warden warned the party that the creature inside the manor had most likely been watching them and would be able to counter many of their attacks. After getting approval from the group, he placed his shield upon the final statue and once again disappeared. The manor doors opened with a loud click that echoed through the city.

Before they entered, Cauldrev suggested they should rest to be at full strength but he was quickly overruled as the gates had been opened and whatever was inside surely knew that someone was there. Preparing for the inevitable confrontation, they pushed open the gates. Inside was a large garden and courtyard that led up an expansive porch supported by pillars. A set of large double doors led into the manor proper. Flanking the gate were two small guardhouses. The guardhouse to the right also had a large building behind it that appeared to be a barracks. Upon entering, it was obvious that the person who was bleeding had drug themselves along the wall for support through the guardhouse into the barracks. Following the smeared blood, the party entered the barracks and found that the trail stopped at a nondescript set of levers, some of which appeared to have bloody hand prints upon them. Gavin suspected that they were probably used to set the locks on the gates. A stilted message was scrawled on the wall in blood but there was no corpse to be found inside the building. They quickly crossed the courtyard to the main entrance.

As they came to the main doors, they could see another smear of blood, but unlike the others, this was twelve feet up on one of the pillars supporting the porch. Further examination revealed that the stone of the pillar had been cracked by the force of whatever hit it. At this point, the group began to suspect that they were going to face something large, violent and quite strong. The double doors led into a grand hall decorated with several shields and banners depicting dwarven heraldry. The smears of blood continued up the hall at random intervals, all of them located well above the adventurers’ heads. There was much debate as to whether the side halls of the manor should be explored but it was finally decided that whatever they were tracking could not possibly fit through any other doors aside from the ones at the end of the hall. The doors led into a royal audience chamber where a large shadowy figure awaited them by the throne. Although its features were undefined, Cauldrev recognized this immediately as an Image of Orcus, an avatar of a powerful demon prince and sworn enemy of the Raven Queen. Knowing that their foe was not to be trifled with, the party prepared for battle.

As the battle ensued. a thick miasma filled the room and began eating away at the flesh of the attackers. The group soon found out the potency of the demon’s skull mace as well as his ability to strike down his foes with his spiked tail. As Fenryth had predicted, their enemy had prepared for their arrival and the party found that most of their preferred attacks were useless against their foe. Enduring bone-crushing attacks and the constant pain of withering flesh, the adventurers persevered and finally managed to banish the shadows back to the Abyss. As the creature dissolved, its large mace clattered to the ground and the crumpled body of a dwarf was expelled from its depths. Ghesh moved to pick up the mace but was stopped in his tracks as a female voice said, “I would not touch that if I were you.”

A lithe woman stepped from behind the large stone throne. She was clad head-to-toe in black lace and her face was concealed with a black veil. “Your efforts have been noticed and they are appreciated,” she said as she approached the party. She held out a small flat case for Ghesh to take instead of the weapon upon the ground. She bent down and easily lifted the mace although it was nearly twice her size. “I will enjoy seeing the owner’s reaction when I destroy this,” she stated, quite amused. As she began to walk away, she stopped in front of Cauldrev. “I thought you had forgotten your prime directive,” she mused. “But it seems not. I am quite pleased.” With that she disappeared from view behind the throne once again. Cauldrev was asked whether or not he knew the mysterious woman. His only response was, “It’s kind of complicated.”

Meanwhile, Opal had bent down to examine the body of the dwarf. It appeared as though most of the bones in his body had been broken. Although his face was beaten and bloody, the resemblance to Elsbet and Mryden could clearly be seen. This was undoubtedly the famed dwarven grandmaster Haggart Grimgut. His body was curled up protectively and as Opal unclenched his fists, another card fell into the palm of her hand.

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It Wasn't Meant To Be
Belhorn has an adventure that doesn't end with a climax...

Not a game #001

Belhorn thoughtfully sipped his ale and contemplated small coastal villages. He had never seen the ocean but the dark, thick nature of his drink combined with its resin-laced flavor made him think that it must be the stuff they used to seal the hulls of ships to make them seaworthy. The innkeeper had mentioned that it was called “Pirate Stout” after all. The abyssmal state of his brew did not upset him as much as it would under normal circumstances for it had just been one of those days and the bad beer was merely an additional item on the list.

After their stunning restoration of the Royal Observatory, the small group of adventurers had made camp secure in the knowledge that tomorrow would be the day they would face the evil responsible for all of the transgressions in Galdegfast. Spirits were high and for the first time since entering the cursed dwarven city, everyone was able to relax, confident that soon everything would be set right. One by one they dozed off, determined to be well-rested for the upcoming conflict.

Belhorn was surprised when he emerged from his tent to see that he was not the last one out of bed like usual. Gavin was poking at the fire idly with a stick and Cauldrev was sitting on a nearby stone, his leg twitching restlessly. “Some people need to get the hell up so we can go!” he said with a great deal of impatience evident in his voice. Gavin shrugged non-commitedly. He gave up on Gavin and turned his attention to Belhorn. “See if you can use your skills to get the ladies out of bed instead of into it loverboy.” Belhorn sighed and headed towards Opal’s tent.

Opal was usually the first up and Belhorn was surprised to find her firmly entrenched in her bedroll. The pile of blankets directed its attention to the bard as he entered the tent and a muffled voice emerged. “Too much catnip last night, have a headache. Go on without me.” The bundle flattened itself back out on the floor of the tent and Belhorn got the distinct impression that he was dismissed. He moved on to Gwynne’s tent. She was nowhere to be seen but there was a small note left on her bedding. Gone to do some contract work for gnomish engineers in a hamlet to the north. Be back in a couple weeks. Belhorn went back to the campfire and gave the note to Cauldrev. “Things aren’t looking too promising today man,” he said. Cauldrev was clearly not impressed. “Shine that! Where the hell is Ghesh? Let’s roll!” said the avenger, unconcerned by their lessened numbers. Belhorn looked to Gavin who once again gave an enigmatic shrug. As they stood there, a small and very scared looking boy stumbled into the camp.

“Lord Ghesh sent me with a message for his companions so I have traveled through the snow-laden mountains to find the monster-infested caves and after having many harrowing encounters I reached the haunted dwarven city which I have wandered through alone to find your camp because if I did not do so, the scary paladin said he would eat me!” the boy said quickly. He handed a letter to Belhorn and promptly collapsed from exhaustion. Belhorn opened it and scanned the contents. Hey guys…the third annual Church of Bahamut Bake Sale and Cart Wash ran a little longer than I expected and I don’t think I am going to make it back to camp in time to adventure today. Sorry about the short notice. Belhorn handed the letter to Cauldrev just to see what reaction he would get. “This is bullshit!” was all Cauldrev said.

And that was how they had ended up in the bar with nothing better to do. Cauldrev was consoling himself with a plate of meat and Gavin had grabbed the remainder of Belhorn’s swill, downing it in a few swallows. Belhorn wasn’t sure if Gavin lacked a refined palate or had an upbringing that did not encourage waste. Either way it left him free to order a different ale. This one ended up being much more palatable and left the bard in an optimistic mood. They could always try it again tomorrow.

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Domo Arigato Mr Roboto
A guest appeareance by service droid Juan Cinco

Game #41

At the top of the spiral staircase was the main workroom for the observatory. Work tables and benches were scattered about the area and a decorative bronze wrench was mounted between two ladders on the far wall. The ceiling was a grid of tracks that had been put in place for a winch system and it appeared as if the floor could be opened up to allow access to the orrery below. In the center of the room, a small robot with some tools was working on another inanimate automaton. When it noticed the adventurers it let out a surprised beep, dropped its tools and quickly retreated behind a makeshift barricade on the opposite side of the room.

They could hear the robot moving around but as they advanced to investigate, a fence of electricity switched on to protect the barricade. Several lenses on the wall turned towards the party and seemed to be focusing on them. As the group moved forward once again, they could hear several levers being thrown and the previously inert automaton came to life along with several other defense turrets in the room. They had been built using four of the planets from the orrery and began to roll around the room throwing sharp pieces of metal and gears at the party. While the other fended off the attack, Cauldrev managed to get behind the barricade. He found the small robot working a variety of switches and buttons on a large panel but he was unable to stop the robot by addressing it. It proved to be much heavier than it looked when he attempted to drag it away from the panel. Eventually the turrets were defeated but the electric fence still remained with Cauldrev and the robot trapped behind it. Gavin addressed the robot in dwarven and was able to determine that it needed tools to disable the fence. After the tools were returned, the fence was quickly shut off and the service robot went about examining its turrets to see if they were repairable. Gavin then asked if it could repair the orrery. It pushed everyone out of the center of the room and the floor began to open as it moved the winch into a position in the center of the room. Confident that the service robot would continue with its task, they continued up the ladders behind the barricade. Surprisingly, the small robot followed them up to the next level.

The group emerged at the top of the observatory and were greeted by a monstrosity of metal who was wielding the two largest planets as weapons on chains. A hail of metal debris rained down from the ceiling (like split peas on a tin roof) as Gearlacticus, the Employer of Worlds, smashed his massive fists against the roof. The small service robot quickly climbed the walls and disappeared in the tangled mess of metal that comprised the upper dome of the observatory. As the party began to damage the giant robot, it summoned a swarm of smaller allies to do repairs but the droid from the floor below proved to be useful by preventing them from assisting with commands of his own. Bruised by falling scrap and beaten severely by the robots giant planetoids, the adventurers rallied and brought the haywire creation to its knees.

Although they had found the remaining parts for the orrery, the group was at a loss for how to get them out of the dome and down to the ground floor. Gavin once again spoke with the service droid. It promptly departed down the ladders. As they rested from their battle, the were surprised to see a multitude of service robots appear in the dome. They began to construct a harness for the the planets and they were quickly moved out an opening in the roof and lowered down the outside of the building. Back on the ground floor, the group found the robots hard at work repairing not only the orrery but also the faulty machinery on the rest of the observatory. After about an hour, the projection on the roof began to travel at a normal speed as the observatory was once again returned to a working state. A soft glow began to shine down from the constellations chasing away the remainder of the darkness and revealing the final obstacle in the way of freeing the abandoned city.

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Oh the H-orrery
In this world, Pluto is still a planet dammit...

Game #40

Having pushed back the darkness enveloping the city with their efforts in the Church, the intrepid adventurers were now able to see what lie on the opposite side of the river. This section of the city had been bisected by the swift flowing waters and a unique Y-shaped bridge had been constructed to provide access to both banks. To the left was a large domed building covered with gears and other machinery. The group’s best guess was that it was an observatory of sorts from which the planets and stars on the roof of the cave were being projected. The other side was a commercial district made up of stores and artisan workshops. Hoping to find out more about Haggart, they decided to travel in this direction and search for his workshop.

This portion of the city had obviously been ransacked as well. Opal’s keen eye noted that there appeared to be no signs of undead presence in this section of Galdegfast whatsoever. After wandering the streets for a while, the group came across a building that was not like the others. Although it had been damaged at one time, repairs had been made and fortifications had been added. The stout oak door proved to be locked but thanks to the particular skill set of Gavin, access was quickly granted. Inside proved to be a collection of several worktables, a bed and a writing table. Another of Haggart’s journals was discovered on the writing table soaked in dried blood. Most of the pages were rendered illegible but a few passages could be made out. The journal indicated that Haggart had kept a set of cards for his self and it was hidden in his workshop. A thorough examination turned up several bars of silver and gold, precious gems of different varieties, some schematics for various innovations and a key to the front door. A small concealed area of the floor was finally uncovered and there proved to be a metal box inside. Unfortunately, the box was empty but it did appear as though it was made to hold a set of cards at one point in time. With nothing else to discover there, the group moved on to the observatory.

The front doors to the observatory were smooth metal with no evidence of a keyhole or handle. As Belhorn approached them, however, they slid open automatically revealing a large chamber inside. The area was dominated by an orrery that had seen better days. Several of the planets appeared to be missing as well as some gears required to make it function properly. Looking around, they saw several smaller doors on the walls of the chamber but they opted to go to a large set of double doors on the far side of the room instead. These doors were much like the front doors but they did not open when the party approached them. To the right of the doors, a large black piece of glass began to glow faintly. It proved to be some form of security device complete with buttons for input. It was asking for a password. Not having one, the party decided to try an answer some security questions instead. Their collective knowledge proved sufficient and the system granted them access. Two curving staircases followed the outside of the wall of the building and led upwards. As they ascended, they could see several side platforms that were made to perform maintenance on the vast collection of machinery attached to the building. The entire structure groaned and squealed irregularly around them. It was evident that it was not functioning properly. At the top of the stairs was a room dedicated to spare parts. Every available corner and wall was stacked with various gears, levers and bits of metal. Opal spied a marbled blue object in the midst of one of the piles and went to grab it. It proved to be one of the planets for the orrery but unfortunately, it was firmly attached to an automaton that was not willing to part with it. Several piecemeal golems rose from the collection of the junk from the room and attacked. The group turned them back into pieces of scrap and prepared to continue their journey upwards on the spiral staircase in the middle of the room.

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A Strong Finish
The wrestling matches were very Kord-ial

Game #39

Kord’s Hall proved to be an arena set up with several sand pits for wrestling matches and large spheres of stone were piled along the walls for feats of strength. The center of the room had a raised platform where the victors could be crowned with wreaths of laurels to celebrate their conquests. Upon entering the hall, the party found the dais occupied by emaciated creatures wielding javelins. The cowardly foes constantly ran from the group while keeping them at bay with their thrown weapons, but in the end the party managed to corner them and put an end to them once and for all. At a loss of how to sanctify this temple, they once again consulted Haggart’s journal and decided that some contests were in order. Although several tried impressive feats of strength, Gavin was the only one successful at providing a truly herculean display. A wrestling match between Ghesh and Cauldrev followed where Cauldrev was able to use his superior mobility to outmaneuver the paladin and throw him to the ground. Ghesh had his revenge against Opal however and after a long match he was able to get a hold of his dextrous opponent and throw her to the ground. The winners all received laurels for their victories and the dark vines receded from the newly consecrated temple.

Expecting the shard to be exposed and vulnerable, the group was surprised when they went back to the foyer to find it enclosed in a cage of impenetrable vines still. They recalled that Haggart mentioned altars to the Raven Queen as well. Cauldrev postulated that they would hidden from sight where parishioners could access them unnoticed and where they could also worship quietly away from the rest of the activities of the church. Careful searching of the foyer revealed two small alcoves concealed behind draperies with simple black altars in them. Figuring they would have to leave behind mementos from loved ones who had passed, Ghesh and Cauldrev decided to offer the signet rings left to them by the Wardens of Bahamut. After a ring was placed on each altar, the cage of vines surrounding the shard dissipated allowing Ghesh to deliver a crushing blow upon it. As the shard shattered, a howl of pure rage could be heard reverberating throughout the city. At the same time, the adventurers could also hear the sounds of many voices raised in song outside of the church.

In the courtyard of the church, all of the members of the choir that had been wandering the streets had collected and their voices were joined in singing the hymn of Moradin. Behind them, there were also the spirits of several townsfolk who stood with their eyes transfixed on the newly blessed church. The party decided to throw open the doors of the church to allow them all inside and as the ghosts entered the various temples, they slowly faded away as their souls were put to rest. Tired from their exertions, the adventurers decided to stay yet another night in the church before venturing out to see what awaits them on the far side of the dark river that flows through the center of the abandoned dwarven city.

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Year One
For traditional gamers, it is the pen-and-paper anniversary...

Game #38

The group decides to empty the remainder of their water into the channel in Melora’s temple. Although the channel is at a slant, they find that the water does not overflow when it reaches the top. Instead, it continues to fill up the channel. They decided that they are going to need more water and grab the cleaning buckets in the temple of Erathis so they can get water from the river. One of the buckets is lost to the fast current of the black river but a second bucket is quickly filled thanks to the combined efforts of Ghesh and Cauldrev. They find that the water they have retrieved is murky and bracken so they decide to return to the Grande Menagerie where they know the water is pure. Several buckets of fresh water are fetched and when the channel is filled to the top, it begins to flow again. The dark vines recede from the temple and the plants and trees begin to grow once again. The party heads into the temple of Pelor next.

They are greeted with absolute darkness when the gilded doors of the temple are opened. They find that their light barely illuminates the area and if they get too far apart, they lose sight of each other completely. Staying close together, they cautiously enter the room. On the wall near the entrance, they find a golden chain that runs to the ceiling and back down to a small crank mechanism on the wall. The other end of the chain leads towards the center of the room. When it is pulled on, the group finds that it is not attached to anything. They slowly travel towards what they believe to be the center of the room. Eventually, they find a large golden disk lying on the floor but they are unable to examine it as there are two shadowy figures with pitch black wolves on chains waiting for them there. The figures release their beasts and leap to the attack. Although they are constantly assaulted from out of the darkness, the adventurers manage to track down their assailants and defeat them. After their foes are beaten, they find that light sheds normally once again. Now that they are able to see, they notice a total of eight chains attached to the walls of the temple. Examination of the golden disk reveals that it is faceted and that the chains are made to attach to it. The disk is reassembled and cranked back up to it position near the ceiling but nothing happens. Gwynne casts a light spell on the disk and it glows slightly but nothing else occurs. The disk is lowered to the ground once again and a sunrod is placed in the center of it. The party notices that the light emitting from the rod is reflected off the facets but due to the shape of the light source, only a few beams of light reflect off the disk. Opal decides to place her sunglobe in the disk and the desired affect is achieved as light erupts from the facets and bathes the temple in blinding light. Once again, the disk is raised to the ceiling and dark vines recede from the rededicated temple.

The group moves on to the temple of Kord to remove the last remaining barrier between them and the dark shard that is corrupting this portion of Galdegfast.

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It's Opposite Day!
I totally hope the PCs live through this

Game #37

After a restless night filled with dark dreams, the group of adventurers prepare to explore the remainder of the church. Opal notices that the offerings left on the altar to Moradin have disappeared and in their place is a small silver hammer bearing the markings of the god. She puts it in a pouch for safekeeping and everyone decides to check out the doors marked with the symbol of Erathis next.

The temple of Erathis looks like a communal living area made for 40 or 50 people. There are long tables for meals, a kitchen, an area filled with couches and an area with bookshelves and toys for children. The entire space is in disarray with chairs scattered about the floor, dishes left on the tables and toys in random piles. As the party begins to look around, they notice three old men sitting at the far end of the room. Belhorn approaches one of them and greets him. As the old man stares at him, Belhorn is filled with apathy and does not appear overly motivated to assist his comrades in any way. It becomes apparent that these old men mean the group harm and the heroes take up arms. Although they are plagued with lethargy and fatigue in the presence of the men, they manage to persevere until their tired enemies are put to rest once and for all. The group decides to clean up the mess that has been made in the temple and they set to work picking up, washing and cleaning. Engrossed in their work, they do not notice until they are finished that the dark vines in the room have vanished. Gavin has an epiphany and realizes that the foes they have been fighting in each temple appear to be the antithesis of the god that the temple to which the god is dedicated. Gwynne muses on the areas that remain and makes the supposition that Melora’s temple will have some abomination to nature in it, the temple of Pelor will be plagued with darkness and Kord’s temple will have weak and cowardly foes inside. The party moves into the temple of Melora next.

Melora’s temple appears to have been filled with lush greenery at one point in time but it is now all withered and brown. In the center of the dead garden is a cone-shaped mound that has a stone channel carved into it in the shape of the stylized wave used by the worshipers of Melora. It appears to have been filled with water at one point in time but it is now dry. At the top of the mound is a large pile of bodies. Gavin quietly approaches the pile and examines it, finding that is is actually body parts, not whole bodies. Unwilling to approach the pile of flesh again, Gwynne attempts to light it on fire with her magic. Nothing appears to happen at first but then the mass begins to rise up from the ground and an abomination is formed from the multiple body parts. It reaches to the ground it rose from and grabs an enormous sword before wading into the fray. The party beats the hulk back to the ground, only to find that it rises once more when they try to burn the body again. After being incapacitated a second time, it remains still. The adventurers decide to burn the body parts in the forge in Moradin’s temple but find that the dark vines remain in Melora’s temple even after the body is destroyed. Opal empties her water skin into the stone channel finding that the water forms a small puddle at the bottom and is not absorbed. The group ponders what their next action should be in the attempt to cleanse the temple of Melora.

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Going to the Chapel
I made it black vines because Blackleaf would have been too tragic...

Game #36

With the horrendous screams of the little girls they mercilessly slaughtered still ringing in their ears, the heroic party turns up the road that will lead them to the Church of Many. Several of the members quickly realize that singing can still be heard from several directions. It appears that there is more than one group of hymn-singing blond-headed pale-blue-eyed spooky children in this former ancient Indian burial ground. Not wanting another round with terrible tots, the group quickly moves towards the church. Upon arriving at the large courtyard in front of their destination, they can now see several small groups dressed in white slowly moving about while they continue to sing their hymn to Moradin. Taking their chances, they quickly rush across the open area when they see a gap. It is noted that although the robed figures roam the streets at will, they all avoid the church and the stairs leading up to it.

At the top of the stairs, it is immediately apparent that the architecture is dwarven in make but the style is out of the ordinary for what one would expect. The front of the building has four sets of double doors as entry points and Gwynne correctly presumes that they lead into a large communal area where members of the church can socialize before and after services. Two cross-shaped fountains dominate the center of the area and between them the group can see another of dark crystal similar to the one in Galivar’s roost. This one, however seems to be enveloped in a cage of black vines. The vines snake along the floor in different directions towards five sets of doors. Cauldrev attempts to make Paul Bunyan proud but finds that the vines are quite durable and impervious to greatswords. Gavin examines the main set of doors on the far side of the foyer and finds that they are embossed with the symbol of Moradin. The remainder of the doors are examined revealing symbols for Melora, Erathis, Kord and Pelor as well. The party decides to enter the chapel of Moradin.

The chapel resembles a workshop much more than a place of worship. There are forges in both of the back corners and several tables are equipped to ply a variety of trades. At the far end of the room, an altar on a dais has been tipped on its side. The entire area is surrounded by the dark vines. More perceptive members of the group also notice that there appear to be areas of nothingness around the raised platform. Before they can ponder, the voids attack with claws that appear out of nowhere and bolts of dark crackling energy that engulf the target. In the end, the adventurers manage to defeat a lot of nothing. They expected something from nothing but it didn’t change anything in the room. They decided to examine the worktables instead. Several of the tables had nearly finished projects on them and upon a table made for ringsmithing and lapidary work, another entry from Haggart’s journal was found.

Gavin decides to take a break from adventuring and finds a small wooden jewelry box that he is able to complete by securing the lid to the body. He puts it on the altar as an offering to Moradin. Ghesh follows suit and puts the finishing touches on a leather belt. Belhorn does some needlework on a pretty pillow and Opal wraps the hilt of a short sword and manages to piece together a chandelier out of wrought iron pieces. Gwynne and Cauldrev wait for something to happen while everyone else works. After the last piece is placed on the altar, the room brightens and the vines recede into the floor. The chapel of Moradin has been dedicated once again. Hoping that this room is safe, the party decides to rest once again while their unknown assailant in the darkest part of the city continues to grow in strength.

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Getting Noticed
By little girls mostly...mostly

Game #35

The griffin seems worse for wear after the battle, possibly due to being lit on fire during the fight. He is unresponsive in spite of Gavin’s attempts to communicate with him once again. Opal thoroughly examines the unconscious creature and much to her surprise, finds nothing physical wrong with the beast that can account for the outward maladies that it is suffering. The group decides to examine the cave to see what is inside. Although their light is severely dampened within the cave, once inside they discover that this was most likely a roost at one time. In the middle of the cave sits a dark crystal on a stone pedestal that emanates a black mist. Ghesh steps up to it and smashes it into tiny pieces with his mace. When this happens, the party can hear a howl of surprise echoing throughout the city. They also notice that their light sources brighten and that a incredibly bright light is shining outside of the mouth of the cave. Shielding their eyes, they step outside into the light.

When their eyes adjust they realize that the brightness is coming from the griffin who is now restored to his former glory having been freed from his shackles. Galivar tells them that he suspects the plight of the city might have to do with Haggart’s crafting but he is unwilling to speculate on the subject any more than that. After being told of the adventurers quest for information, he tells them that Haggart was fond of visiting the Church of Many and he also had a workshop on the far side of the river. Cauldrev presses the griffin for a reward and receives a golden feather. Galivar then informs the group that he will hold back the darkness from the Grande Menagerie. He lets them know that it is safe to rest there now and the water in the ponds is pure once again if they should need to resupply.

Examination shows that although the first pylons of the bridge are now visible, it is still heavily shrouded in darkness. The party instead decides to explore the area containing a large building with several wings that they assume to be the Church. As they travel through the residential district leading up to the church, they can tell that this area was ransacked at one time. Several of the buildings have been lit on fire or have doors that were battered in. Nothing of value seems to be in any of the homes, just common household items. As they progress through the town, several of the party members begin to hear singing. Up ahead at a crossroads, they see three dwarven girls dressed in white ceremonial robes traveling slowly towards the Church while singing a hymn to Moradin. Ghesh attempts to communicate with them only to find out that they are not of this world. One of the girls shrieks loudly at him, driving him forcibly back several steps. The group soon finds themselves surrounded as the loud cries of the girls draw more undead out of the nearby houses. Although they are beset upon from all sides, they manage to fight their way free of the horde and silence once again returns to the gloomy streets.

Free from distractions, the adventurers turn their attention to the Church and whatever may await them inside.

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