Tales from Elrond

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 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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Resurrection and Reinforcements

Upon arriving at the Seven-Pillared Hall Meredith abandons the party in disgust, disappointed in their inability to cleanse the Well of Demons and the death of Lester (who she believes will incur the wrath of Asmodeus for his failure), she tells the party that they have a tenday to finish cleansing the Well of the gnolls before she returns with a Duergar raiding party to finish the job (and take the glory).

Caring more about bringing their dead friend back from the dead, Magnara and Takashi are not the least bit sadden to see Meredith go and their interest in doing Asmodeus’ work would not be a concern at all if it was not for the worry about what the arch-devil would do to Lester if he failed. With Ulthand Deepgem’s giant boar carrying Lester’s body. The group makes their way through the streets and are almost to their destination when Magnara is accosted by a tiefling named Valyrian.

Apparently Valyrian has been seeking out the Dragonborn Paladin ever since he discovered that Magnara was the one responsible for dispatching the Bloodreaver slavers that had been terrorizing the Nentir Valley. Valyrian spoke of learning from the Dragonborn as a squire of sorts, but his capabilities were more magical than martial.

Valyrian wasn’t the only one looking for the group. After dropping off Lester’s body to the care of Ulthand (who was extremely grateful for the return of his boar and offered to conduct the ritual to bring back Lester as a token of his appreciation), Takashi and Magnara were approached by a dwarf named Gibbet Ironbrow who was a friend of their former party member (now deceased) Joreal. Learning news of his friend’s death and surprised to hear that Joreal had allowed another former party member, the dwarf Dovak, to remain alive, Gibbet seemed confused at this turn of events, saddened at the loss of his friend and offered his services to the party as a way to finance his trip back home to Mirabar. Unsure what to make of all this new interest in their group, Takashi and Magnara tell Valyrian and Gibbet to wait for them at the Halfmoon Inn to see if they’ll accept their assistance.

There was still one more surprise guest, which Magnara found when he sought Surina at the Temple of Hidden Light. The Dragonborn warlock was not there, but a young human woman with a familiar resemblance to Lester was. This woman, Gwen, told of a fantastical story of how she was Lester’s daughter from a woman that was a crew member from a ship that Lester took passage on a year ago. Caught up in a storm after her birth, Gwen found herself in an alternate world of sorts where she was taken in by a temple of the deity Apollo. Raised as a cleric of the god, Gwen sought to return to her father’s world to seek him out. Her wish was granted as another strange storm caught her ship and she arrived in Lester’s world a grown woman despite only a year in time passing in Lester’s world. Magic was indeed strange.D8855E6B-2839-4D9B-8E72-D2359A6D9510.jpegWith Lester restored and recuperating after the successful ritual, Magnara and Takashi decided to accept the help of these new companions. They appeared capable enough and the days were ticking down on Meredith’s ultimatum.

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The Death of a Friend

The element of surprise gone, Lester, Magnara, Takashi and Meredith continue deeper into Well of Demons on their task of cleansing the demon-worshipping gnolls. The gnolls are on alert now, and when the party breaches a door the gnolls ambush them from cover made of a barricade of hay bales while hyenas attack. In this room the party also see a holding pen containing a giant enraged boar wounded by gnoll arrows and struggling to free itself. They suspect that this is the pet of the Dwarven cleric Ulthand Deepgem, who spoke of its disappearance after a gnoll attack.

Magnara charges through volleys of arrows to close into melee with some of the enemy while his companions engage with range and spell attacks. While the hyenas are easily dispatched, the gnolls prove to be organized and skilled enough to break up the assault, separating the party and bringing them down one by one despite their losses. Magnara is the first to fall, and revived by a healing potion administered by Lester just before Lester himself is taken down as collateral damage by Meredith’s magical flame strike spell to the area.

Takashi finds himself is a desperate melee while being peppered with arrows. Luckily, the giant boar finally manages to break free and unleashes its rage on the nearest gnolls and Takashi falls unconscious dying from his wounds as the boar battles the gnolls. Magnara uses a healing potion to revive Lester and as Meredith is dispatching the last of the gnolls, Lester manages to befriend and heal the giant boar with a healing potion and Takashi is brought back from the brink of death. Exhausted, their magic depleted and with a need to heal their wounds, the group decides to take a short rest barricading themselves in the gnoll bunk room they passed earlier.

Impatient with the delay, Meredith urges the group to continue their work after the short break. Wary of the dangers they lay ahead in their weakened state, the party decides to try to clear out one more small section before retiring back to Seven-Pillared Hall to recuperate. Upon breaching a door to what appears to be a bedchamber, the group finds themselves in a battle with a formidable opponent that appears to be a demonic-warped gnoll. As Magnara does battle with the foul creature, his allies intercept two robust ape-like demons that come running to its aid. The melee becomes a desperate one indeed as the demonic foes prove to be quite resilient and quite capable of inflicting damage. The group is victorious, but the victory is short-lived when they realize that Lester has been killed. 7D3D2B05-B526-4491-A68D-14A0F5F8B8BF.jpeg

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Severius' Journal- A Brief Walk in the Depths and Horrific News

Opening the trapdoor, we proceeded down an iron ladder into the depths of a subterranean realm of Dwarven construction- Dovak was certain of that and also suspected it was of the same style that existed in the caverns deep beneath the Sacred Stone monastery. Still not fully recuperated from our battle with Dryflagon, we decided this was only going to be a cursory inspection to see what lay below.

I heard Dovak get challenged by a gruff voice in the dark and unhappy with the response he provided, a group of hobgoblins attacked us at range from a rock barricade that guarded deeper passage. With the exception of Biggle and Allegro, our party was not hindered by the dark and we engaged hobgoblins. They were dispatched, proving only a slight challenge due to our already weakened state.

A search of their bodies revealed that they were wearing tabards displaying the same strange symbol that the iron collars of the hell hounds that attacked us had and we grew wary of continuing our exploration further where we were sure more opposition would face us. It was decided we should exit and head to the Feathergale Spire to make our now-delayed meeting with Lady Sarva and address her concerns about an evil inner circle within the Feathergale Society’s ranks, including their leader Thul Merroska.
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We were halfway to our destination, carefully rolling our wagon over the Sumber Hills, when we spotted a hippogriff rider being pursued by four vulture riders. The hippogriff rider was attired as a Feathergale Knight and his pursuers had the same appearance as the people that attacked us unprovoked weeks earlier. It was clear the Feathergale Knight was heading toward us and he was brought down a couple hundred feet from our position. Alive, but trapped under his wounded mount, the Knight struggled to fight off his pursuers, some of which broke off to prevent us from assisting.

A desperate battle ensued and, despite our depleted spells and yet to be healed injuries, we were victorious- slaying the vulture riders and their mounts, while saving the Feathergale Knight and its mount, which we were surprised to find was Lady Savra’s mount, Sky Dancer. We also found that we knew the Knight, Lord Daylon, the stablemaster of the Feathergale Society, who we met during our visit.

Once his condition was stabilized, Lord Daylon shared a horrific tale that gave us great cause for concern, despair and, at least for me, guilt that we did go to assist Savra earlier. He told us Lady Savra was dead, murdered by Merroska’s own hand as a sacrifice to an entity named Yan-C-Bin. Lady Savra had made some of her inquires about the Society’s inner circle to the wrong members and she was seized and killed for her actions, stabbed and thrown from the top of the Spire. Daylon, a member of the inner circle, but seemingly unexposed to the nefarious activities that were done as part of their servitude to Yan-C-Bin, disagreed with Merroska’s actions and his voiced opposition only marked his death. Luckily, with our later assistance, he survived.

It was clear that Daylon was telling the truth, I could see that he cared for Savra in a manner that was more than just friends. He loved the woman but respected her marriage to another. He was trapped in a personal torment trying to reconcile his feelings and Savra’s unavailability. His love gave him conviction and he only sought to have vengeance on Merroska and his inner circle.

Hearing of Savra’s death, and Daylon’s grief, Bruldenthar told us about one of the few remaining maintained places of the Dwarven kingdom of Tyar-Besil, a place of religious pilgrimage for Dwarves called the Vale of Dancing Waters. This place was a shrine to the great Dwarven god Moradin, and it is known to bring the dead back to life if Moradin, or his wife, the goddess Berronar Truesilver, believed the requestor was working toward a great and honorable goal of Dwarven import. Upon hearing this, hope was born and there was much to plan.5DB58068-7772-4CB6-AFE0-BE648E25CCE8.jpeg

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