Tales from Elrond

Battling the Guardian

With the four required artifacts of Baphoment in hand, the group strategies on how to proceed with the ritual and deal with the green dragon guardian. Magnara shares his extensive knowledge of dragon abilities and tactics learned from his years of growing up and serving in the armies of the now destroyed dragonkind kingdom of Gol’redar. With this in mind, Gwen casts protection spells on Takashi and herself to help resist the dragon’s poisonous breath weapon. 4EB4DCC4-00A6-4D60-AEA7-2F07A8015AE8.jpegPrepared for battle, the party place the artifacts in the four runic circles and with a mighty roar, the green dragon flies out of a large pit in the central chamber. Additionally, numerous traps are triggered, included a giant rolling sphere of Force energy that makes a circuit around the central chamber smashing anything in its path. After an initial blast of poisonous gas at Vaylerian, Gibbet and Takashi, which they managed to survive, the battle becomes a cat and mouse game thru the various rooms and corridors where the party are unable to attack the dragon except with ranged weapons or if the dragon lands to engage in melee, which it only does on isolated foes. Both Gwen and Lester go down during the battle, but are saved from death by healing magic. Despite being grouped up during the later stages of the battle, to protect each other and avoid the traps, the dragon doesn’t use its breath weapon again after its initial blast and is taken down by simultaneous attacks by Lester and Takashi unleashing eldritch blasts and arrows as the dragon bears down on the party.

Taking a moment to heal their wounds, the party presses forward through the now opened inner sanctum doors, traveling through a heavy gray mist before finding a set of closed double doors. With Magnara leading the way, the party finds what looks to be the final area of the Well of Demons with a ghastly ritual taking place. Several demons protect a gnoll with bat-like wings and they start to advance on the party. Roaring in rage, Gibbet charges in and engages two demonic-looking gnolls while the rest of the party rush in to engage with the other demonic foes. Magical fire pounds both sides and sword and claw clash as a fierce melee breaks out…9AD6373D-55A8-4D38-9A30-042BDDA29414.jpeg

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Severius' Journal- Saving Body and Soul

After a rash of setbacks and ill-fated forays into the ancient Dwarven city controlled by Queen Aerisi, we have finally achieved success…of a sort. I proposed the idea of splitting the party- one half consisting of Lord Daylon, Allegro, Enna and Aszh and the other consisting of myself, Dovak, Biggle and Brundalthar. Lord Daylon’s group was charged with sneaking to the base of the Feathergale Spire in the hopes of retrieving Lady Savra’s remains for possible resurrection. My group was charged with the continued care of our prisoner and the hope that she could be interrogated or otherwise convinced to provide us with information on this cult dedicated to the worship of an deity called Yan-C-Bin. There was good reason to believe that cultists and members of the Feathergale Society would be a danger to both groups, so caution and Gorm’s protection would be needed for success.

After Lord Daylon’s group departed, I went to work caring for our prisoner, a commoner from Red Larch named Selina. Her health was still in a fragile state but time was short, for we needed answers, both for Lady Savra’s sake and the sake of the remaining Delegation members. With Dovak’s assistance in providing medical care, I offered a mix of teachings from the Book of Gorm, geared at demonstrating to Selina both Gorm’s magnificence and his righteousness. She made a feeble attempt to attack my faith and the wisdom of Gorm’s word by regurgitating the shallow lessons she was likely taught by these “priests” of Yan-C-Bin. Unlike Selina, I had grew up in the temple of Gorm and my teachers were some of the best my faith had in its membership. Also, unlike Yan-C-Bin, Gorm had legitimate compassion for his followers and prospective followers, and would not force someone through the hardships that Selina had to go through to prove her faith. Did Gorm demand sacrifice? Of course, when the time was right and reason a noble one. Did Gorm demand trials of his followers? Of course, hours, sometimes days, of prayer accompanied by fasting occur but not starvation. I torn down the paper stone-colored walls of faith she tried to hide behind. I pulled back the veil of mystique and glamor this Yan-C-Bin tried to hide behind and exposed it for the fiend it was.

Granted, I was assisted in battering down Selina’s emotional and mental defenses by her physically weakened state, but that was what needed to happen to save her soul. In the end the stress was too much for her body and the life passed from her while outside the barn Biggle distracted a pair of Feathergale Knights from further explorations of the farm, his disguise and deception perfect. Selina was gone but she was not yet lost. I grabbed one of our group’s precious remaining diamonds and offered it to Gorm as I asked him to bring Selina back to the living. This was my first time ever attempting to bring the dead back to life and Gorm granted my request. Selina drew in a big breath as she came back to the world of the living and I could see in her eyes that Gorm’s followers had increased by one more. 279212EC-B48A-4398-936D-063DECD8A7C0.jpeg

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Hall of the Howling Pillars

B92A0C4B-F11D-48CF-8AFD-91F159C105A4.jpeg After taking another day to rest and recuperate, and leaving only three days before Meredith arrives with her Duergar forces to cleanse the Gnolls from the Well of Demons and prove Lester inept in his ability to complete the task assigned by his master Asmodeus, the party explores more of the area known as the Proving and find the rest of the magical runic circles where they will need to place the four items to free the green dragon guardian. Additionally, they find the final challenge they must complete to obtain the magical bell.

Navigating pass horrific floor to ceiling pillars made up of wailing pallid entwined humanoid figures, the party finds the bell on an altar in the room furthest from the entrance. The pillars are anything but just grotesque decorations, and attempt to hinder and harm the party by utilizing abilities ranging from lashing out at anyone that comes close to blasting out magical energy. Additionally, several Babau and Barlaga demons materialize and try to stop the party. A fierce melee ensues with the combination of the Babau’s weakening gaze and Heat Metal spells severely hindering the damage output of Magnara and Gibbet. The demons seem to be resistant to most offensive magical and battle proves challenging indeed.

Eventually the party is able to vanquish the final demonic guardian and secure the bell, which they discover has the power to give the wielder’s allies accuracy in their attacks in exchange for inflicting pain on the wielder. Making their way back to the central chamber, the party works on a plan to face the guardian.

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Failed Rescue Mission

572AC47C-A7AF-411E-9DC8-F9B2621071FD.jpeg Leaving behind Enna at the entrance to the gatehouse as a rearguard of sorts while the rest of the party enters the ancient Dwarven city again in an attempt to rescue some of the captives they had previously observed pushing the gigantic cranking mechanism, the party sprinted through the killzone of the gatehouse under the assumption there would be Kenku archers waiting to attack intruders. Their assumptions proved correct and several of the party, most notably Biggle and Allegro, were struck by several shafts and seriously wounded by the time they made it safely to the other side. Unfortunately for the party, the denizens were on alert after the first intrusion and had additional Kenku guards led by one of the white feathered-robed magic users that the party had fought previously when they ambushed the patrol that had responded to Windharrow’s warning. With the enemy conjuring minor elementals of air to assist in the battle, and using decent tactics, the engagement proved quite challenging for the party, especially when the gatehouse Kenku arrived as reinforcements. Fortunately, Biggle and Severius had healing magic to spare and they were able to sustain the party members till they turned the tide of battle in their favor with Dovak slaying the last of the enemy, the magic user, with a flurry of slashes like he was hewing down a tree.

Deciding to expedite their mission to free the captives before reinforcements arrive, the party heads to the room where they saw the captives turning the giant cranks. Charging into the room and taking the occupants by surprise, Aszh tells one of the disheveled captives they are here to rescue them while the rest of the party takes up positions to cover their retreat. The surprise ends up being on the party when the overseers call the “captives” to action to attack the intruders to prove their loyalty. Aszh is struck by a club wielded by the same person he was just trying to rescue. Aszh sounds the retreat and the party avoids killing any of the previous-believed prisoners taking injury as they flee the room, Aszh barring the door once they make it out.

Somewhat confused since their initial mission was a failure the party decides to further explore the city. Upon a wide causeway set with towering obelisks, the party are surprised to find an emaciated human woman bound by rope to one of the obelisks. Severius determines that the woman is suffering from weeks of starvation and upon questioning the party learns that the woman voluntarily subjected herself to this state to prove her loyalty to Yan-C-Bin and become an initiate among the worshippers.

Deciding it would be wrong to leave the woman here, despite her protests to stay, the party frees her and using magical blessings of Gorm, Severius keeps her from dying as they carry her back to the Halfling farmstead where they plan to meet Lord Daylon. Hopefully, with some care and compassion, they will be able to nurse her back to health and gain helpful information.

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Severius' Journal- Fight and Flight

I am not actually sure what is going on here in this ancient Dwarven city that is said to now be the domain of an Elven queen named Aerisi. Following our battle with Windharrow and his troupe, we continued our exploration, wary of a coming conflict as we were sure that Windharrow would warn others of our presence. We fought more Kenku (a race of bird-like humanoids) guards, some of which were accompanied by a robed individual demanding our surrender. We had no intention of doing so, especially after Allegro reported seeing a roomful of what he believed were enslaved commoners that were being forced to turn a massive crank of unknown purpose.

Our foray into this hidden domain had only given us more questions than answers and with the area on high alert from our intrusion, and our party wounded and ill-prepared to continue our explorations in a hostile environment, it was decided to return to the surface and make our rendezvous with Lord Daylon near the farm on the end of the Signing Valley.

We made it back without incident just ahead of a tempest that I have only seen the likes of once before since my time on the surface. Luckily this time we did not have to weather the storm in the open but were relieved to be provided shelter by the halfling family farm owners who Lord Daylon compensated for their hospitality.

As the storm battered the homestead, we discussed our next course of action. Allegro and Biggle were consumed by their rage of Windharrow’s existence and offered little help in what to do next. There was concern about these captives that Allegro reported, and it was brought up that these individuals would offer the very proof we needed to confront Commander Merroska with and convince those not in the Feathergale Society’s inner circle that there was evil in their ranks. A rescue attempt of these captives seemed our best option.

In the morn, we slogged through the wind and rain swept Valley back to the hidden entrance to the Dwarven city. Aszh again proved his expertise at navigating a path to the entrance, picking what was probably the least wet route available. The only incident of note on this trip was a group of ghouls that ambushed us near the river but they were quickly dealt with, with only one of their number escaping our wrath.

Familiar with what lay ahead, we proceeded down the tunnel towards the city overlook, sending Aszh DCD15406-811F-4A68-B2E2-21BAFE6DF532.jpegto investigate the beacon-like cairn that marked the spot where we were challenged by sentries. No sentries were apparent and we were literally taken by surprised when canine-like elemental creatures emerged from the ground and attacked. These creatures focused their attacks on Enna and Allegro and the rest of us did what we could to intercept them. Their composition of earth and air allowed them to use the terrain to their advantage, and their control of the elements proved dangerous when they conjured cyclones of wind-tossed rocks to protect their forms. Our teamwork and abilities provided victory and we banished the creatures back to their native plane. I ask Gorm for his continued protection and guidance in our endeavor.

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Hall of the Crimson Whip

949CDC03-5A41-45C8-BEFC-4DEC6A894E1A.jpegWhile Takashi and Lester wait to be rescued from the oubliette, the rest of their party formulates a plan while recuperating. Now armed with the knowledge of how the magical mirrors and undead guardians work in this place, a safe route is selected to bypass the worst of the mirrors, with the party set up to provide blocking, rearguard and support as needed for the flight out of the room. Fortunately, everything goes according to plan, Lester and Takashi are freed and the entire group makes it back to the safety of the room’s entrance.

After taking a few moments to rest, the party proceeds in search of the next challenge of the Proving. They find it to the west in a large chamber with pools of blood covering the floor, two massive bronze minotaur statues wielding scourges. On the end of the room opposite the entrance are two pedestals each contained a half of a broken sword. Seeing no dangers, but suspecting some, a plan is devised where Lester will use magic to turn himself into gaseous form so he can fly over the blood pools and pick up one of the sword halves. All is well until Lester actually touches one of the sword halves, at which point the room’s defenses are activated. The massive statues animate into twirling objects of destruction, smashing their scourges into anyone in range and pushing them toward the rear of the room. The blood is soon found to be poisonous, and all but Gibbet (with his hardy Dwarven resilience to poison) find prolonged exposure to the substances hazardous. Additionally, several Babau demons rise from the bloody depths and attack. The combination of hazards and guardians soon make for a grinding battle of attrition. The demons, with their abilities to dispel magic and their weakening gaze, are able to isolate Lester from escaping back to the safety of his comrades and soon he is laying on death’s door. Gibbet and Magnara, the party strongest warriors are severely hampered by the Babau’s combination of Heat Metal and Weakening Gaze. With their strength drained away and the discomfort of wielding their weapons and, in Magnara’s case, wearing metal armor hinders their ability to deal damage to their foes.

Eventually, through a steady grind of persistence, healing spells and luck, the party is able to destroy one of the spinning statues and slay the demons one by one, which are not replenished. Eventually, both sword halves are recovered and joined into one when held together. Exhausted, the party takes a much needed rest before proceeding to the next challenge.

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Hall of Enforced Introspection

Following their short rest the group explores further and finds a small temple with an altar made of humanoid bones. On the altar is a book written in Infernal called the the “Book of Wrath Unveiled,” which appears to be a treatise on the Cult of Baphomet. Valyrian takes the book, in case they need it for reference later, and the group continues their exploration and extermination of the Gnolls in the Well of Demons.

Exploring the remaining tunnel branch from the entrance, the group encounters a trio of ghosts- a Dwarf Paladin of Pelor, a human Cleric of Kord and a Elven wizard. They question the party on their motives for being in the Well of Demons and tell them that they too were a group of adventurers that had braved the dangers of the Well only to be killed. Should the party prove to the ghosts that they are worthy, the ghosts will provide helpful information to navigate the upcoming dangers of the Well. The party is able demonstrate their martial and intellectual prowess enough to the satisfaction of the ghosts to tell them that they are entering a section of the Well called the Proving Grounds, an area where worshippers of the demon lord Baphomet competed in a series of challenges to prove their worth. In order to pass the Proving Grounds, the party must find four items: a book, a mask, a knife and a bell, and place these items in separate runic circles which will call forth a Green Dragon Guardian; the party has already found the Book. Wishing them luck, the ghosts fade away.

Proceeding to the north, the party finds their first challenge, an L-shaped room full of mirrored pillars. While navigating from one side of the room to the other, the group finds that the mirrors are magical traps- some drain life energy, some teleport from one side of the room to the other and stun and others trap people in a seemingly inescapable oubliette.

It’s hazardous progress to reach the other end of the room where a curtain blocks the view of the rest of the chamber and soon Gibbet finds that he is the only one remaining (not realizing the others are all trapped in the oubliette). Frustrated by the lack of something to fight, and the disappearance of his companions, Gibbet rushes through the curtain to find a brass altar with a wooden Minotaur mask flanked by giant Minotaur statues. Upon grabbing the mask, the statues transform into Minotaur skeletons and advance on Gibbet. Placing the mask on his head, Gibbet finds that his rage is intensified more so in his wounded state and he goes berserk, attacking the Minotaur skeletons in a frenzy. He actually makes quick work of the skeletons and notices a large hand-shaped impression on the altar that was originally covered by the mask. Desperate to find his comrades, Gibbet places his hand in the impression and transports everyone out of the oubliette back into the room. Unfortunately, this also reforms the Minotaur skeletons and these (and two others that Gibbet did not see in a different part of the chamber) attack the party.

What follows is a desperate battle where the party fights the Minotaur skeletons while dealing with the dangers of the magical mirrors. Lester is sent back to the oubliette another time and released by his companions only to have the Minotaur skeletons reform to battle again. Eventually the party flees from the room with the mask, too wounded and out of spells to continue the fight, but know they have to rest and return to save Lester and Takashi who were again transported to the oubliette.

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Severius Journal- "Windharrow"

BF8C868C-E50F-40EB-9809-3E4F378B4D9B.jpegWindharrow. The name of an individual I have heard Allegro talk much about, and always in a context of hatred and vengeance. Allegro spoke of Windharrow inflicting some great pain on him in the past, that he stole something of great import, and that he would not rest till he recovered what was taken and killed Windharrow.

Not being from the outside world, I was not familiar with Windharrow, but according to Biggle, he was world renowned for his musical talents. A spectacular performer who wowed audiences of elite and common alike. I thought Biggle’s opinion of Windharrow a direct contrast to Allegro’s. Thus I was completely surprised when upon the group finally meeting Windharrow and his troupe, both Allegro and Biggle asked for his death.

We found Windharrow in the hidden subterranean ruins of a Dwarven city that was part of Tyar-Besil, which we were told by Lord Daylon were being utilized by the inner circle of the Feathergale Society. The area was guarded by individuals that did not tolerate visitors and after defeating some majick-using sentries and braving a hail of arrows through the kill zone of an ancient Dwarven gatehouse, we entered the city proper. Thus far in our exploration, only Windharrow and his troupe were the only beings that we have encountered that were open to communication. That was until first Allegro and then Biggle attacked him.

Windharrow seemed open to conversation, and he was certainly pleasant and charming, not the monster that Allegro made him out to be. Before Biggle initiated his attack, Windharrow actually told us that the Dwarven city was now the domain of an elven queen named Aerisi, who had hired Windharrow for an upcoming gala. Windharrow even offered to ask the queen to allow us passage to explore her realm. Windharrow seemed nice enough, even helpful, and I was taken back when Biggle suddenly unleashed majick in an attempt to enthrall Windharrow and his troupe following a curious conversation about Windharrow’s dulcimer.

Windharrow and his troupe showed they were capable both at song and music, and they put up quite a fight. Our party found itself rocked by magical spells that shattered stone and eardrums alike, hurled from the bards’ instruments. Only Windharrow escaped via majick, leaving his fellows to die by our hands. Thinking back, I’m still not sure what happened, and I’m not sure why things escalated to violence so quickly by some of my companions. Regardless, I’m sure Windharrow has warned the Queen of our presence, and hostile tendencies, and have no doubt that she will send forces to kill or capture us.

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