Episode 23: Fangren’s Doom

The prisoners released were Thorak Bindlewindle taken from the area of Nimon Gap. Next the endearing Brandon Fairlion, curate of Pelor from Brindol and finally the proud man calling himself Duke of Dennovar. They were given food and gnoll weapons and escorted to the safe(ish) cave down the mountain by Vintera and Gronek whilst the others stayed alert in the entrance room preparing to venture further next time. The party decided to have a long rest and were not waylaid by gnolls – the fortress was mysteriously quiet.

Approaching a door with “Danger – Haunted – Keep Out!” scrawled on it and spiked shut there was no chance of respecting that notice. Red rag to the Flying Circus, in went Gronek and Grim. Githzerai psionic echoes and Mindscramblers appeared quickly and loosed shockingly powerful psychic attacks on Grim who – unthinkably – went down! Gronek called the retreat but in his dazed state was unable to help his fellow dwarf. Vintera stepped in and dragged the fighter clear, sealing the door with a magic nail.

Regrouping, the team decided to take the corridor from the Marshalling Point – surely it couldn’t get any tougher? Entering the massive circular ritual chamber the team faced 8 Abyssal Wretches, 2 sabre toothed horrific Crocottas, 2 disciples of Yeenoghu and Fangren himself. During the ensuing battle only Vintera avoided becoming bloodied and Mordan, Felix, Grim and Gronek all went down at some point. Gronek waded in and had to draw on every drop of healing power whilst wiping away zombie puke. Grim was once again targeted by vicious psychic, fire and necrotic area attacks as well as being pinned back by a persistent Crocotta. Not even Felix was safe as the Disciples area bursts engulfed her. Mordan found dancing through the enemies difficult, perhaps Vintera was wise to stay in the doorway – she might be the only one to live to tell the sad tale.

Felix Winter’s Wrath, Flaming Sphere and Bigby’s Icy Grasp could not finish the gnolls. Mordan and Gronek charged Fangren only to be flung back. Felix taunted the gnoll chief and was nearly caught by the Claw of Yeenoghu emerging from the shimmering conduit. Then she was blasted back out of the action. But now Grim, Mordan and Gronek were in close combat. Mordan escaped the grasp of Yeenoghu’s claw as Vintera peppered Fangren with arrows. Eventually Gronek called Mordan to land the killing blow. Victory from the fangs of defeat!

Killing blows… (a completely inaccurate list) Gronek: Fangren Vintera: Crocotta Felix: Disciple of Yeenoghu Mordan: Fangren – by Gronek’s Commander’s Strike, Disciple of Yeenoghu Grim: Crocotta

Having plundered the altar a secret passageway was discovered. Vintera led the way down and Mordan braved the scummy, brackish waterlogged corridors. Having travelled some distance, Mordan fell into a watery pit, easily swimming to safety, but narrowly avoiding contracting disease from the putrid waters. Gronek and Felix felt they had had enough and the team withdrew.

It took five days travel to return to the small village of Elsir Cross where you rested up at the Pig’s Arms Tavern where Old Peter the barman and Halfling Tom looked after you. Training and study filled the next few days. It is now Waterday 5th Growfest as spring turns to summer.

The prisoners you set free were full of thanks but short on reward. That was until yesterday when you received a letter from Lady Mersha Valwater, father of the proud man calling himself Duke of Dennovar. She gushes with gratitude and has invited you to the family estate, just south of Dennovar, to receive a reward for your services to her son Delshan.

The journey from Elsir Cross to Dennovar is uneventful. You receive curious glances as you request directions to the Valwater estate but the townsfolk seem tight lipped. As you make the half day journey south in the bright spring sunshine, the terrain becomes increasingly swampy…

Episode 22: Once More Into the Fortress…

Having fully recovered in the cave half way down the mountain, the team trekked back up to the stairs. The gnolls knew that they might be back and had planned to hold the gate – they had reset the Mind-Trap preparing to split the party and pick them off one at a time. The Huntmasters were to play dead having taken a few pot shots so that the adventurers would gather round the barred door and be burned in the Vortex of Chaos. Having left the fortress it would not be easy to get back in, unless they were careful and had a good plan…

Rounding the corner to the stairs the Huntmasters shot down volley after volley of arrows but bow, crossbows and magic missiles flew back to the unstable balcony and soon the gnolls went down. Approaching the door, Grim and Gronek found it was not easy to force and Mordan heard whispered gnoll barks on the balcony. Up popped a spellcaster and Grim was engulfed in psychic fire. Together Vintera and Mordan hooked the balcony and began to haul down the unstable platform but by now the gnolls had moved away.

Inside, Felix disabled the Mind Trap, possibly saving lives. Gronek braved a misty portal to find himself surrounded by gnolls. Fortunately he got out fast and as the Maulers came through they were mashed. Felix kindly let the gnolls have one of their dead back without taking its head. Then there seemed to be stalemate. The gnolls did not intend to be picked off, but neither did the Flying Circus. Many interesting strategies were suggested including forcing a horse through and a desperate dash by an expeditious wizard.

Eventually a strong plan was forwarded – dislodge all the crumbling rock around the balcony and make a safe climb 50 feet up by rope and grapple. Mordan took the lead and it worked – the dark narrow corridor was empty, the huntmasters thinking they had done their bit returning to their marshalling point. They were soon alerted however and the team were not quiet in their invasion. Grim led as Mordan and Vintera glanced anxiously down a side passage.

Arrows flew at the brave dwarf as he rounded the corner and one gnoll managed to escape down the stairs. As Grim and Gronek fought in the lower passage, Felix relished the arrow slits and the multiple targets visible in the marshalling room. Icy Terrain brought some down and if they thought it was getting chilly that was nothing – a blizzard erupted around them! Thoughtful Felix sympathetically sent a flaming sphere to ease the freeze. The gnolls were in complete disarray. The scourge managed to jump into the passageway beneath to hold off that route but a following recruit landed badly and broke his neck. Another recruit fled up the north passageway while the warmaster desperately tried to unlock the escape route and the Shadar-kai Kyrion, regretting he had ever helped these foul smelling beasts, looked for any way out. There was no escape from Vintera’s arrows. Felix took a rather nice dragonsilk scarf embroidered with a platinum dragon from the belt pouch of a lowly recruit. Vintera found an interesting note on the body of the Shadar-kai.

The gnolls that did get out of the door were joined by the cell guards and rallied by the warmaster. Their stand was not a long one and it was Vintera who finished the stubbornly tough Keeper. They lifted “Wicked Fang” the powerful jagged Shadar-kai shadow longsword from the body of the defeated warmaster. Felix took the keys and they moved to open the cells. First released was Thorak Bindlewindle taken from the area of Nimon Gap. Next the endearing Brandon Fairlion, curate of Pelor from Brindol and finally the proud man calling himself Duke of Dennovar. The prisoners were given food and gnoll weapons and escorted to the safe(ish) cave down the mountain by Vintera and Gronek whilst the others stayed alert in the entrance room preparing to venture further next time.

Killing blows… (a possibly inaccurate list) Gronek: Vintera: Gnoll Keeper, Kyrion Shadar-kai Weaponmaster Felix: Gnoll Guard, 5 Recruits Mordan: Gnoll Huntmaster, Recruit, Grim: Gnoll Mauler, Warmaster, Scourge, Guard, Huntmaster

Episode 21: Into the Fortress.

As the gnoll demonic scourge fled through one of the magical portals, Grim arrived (The Physician fixed a True Portal to the location of the Ritual Energy Stones he gave you to seal the conduit). But the team soon left Grim behind as they ventured through the frosted portals. It took several puzzling journeys and the expertise of Felix to finally figure out the magical maze. Fortunately there were no gnolls about to spoil the fun.

Having joined Grim they seemed to have at last found a way in. Vintera sneaked down some stairs to overhear a raging argument between gnolls. Gronek checked another door and faced three Ruintouched Gnolls mounted on large Slaughterfang Hyenas. The Beastcaller summoned carrion birds to savage and blind all except Mordan. Gronek seemed to prefer fighting blind. The Bloodwalkers anger focussed on those that bloodied them and Grim and Felix took a bit of a battering. Vintera also felt the edge of those wicked sickles. Fortunately the water flow had little effect as sturdy dwarfs aren’t easily pushed and others stayed clear of the channels. (By the way – the room was originally a training area for Githzerai Warriors in the distant past.)

Mordan took down the Beastcaller and eventually even Vintera and Gronek batted away the last few magically conjured birds and joined in finishing the enemies. It was a fierce battle and everyone felt the need of a long rest.

Some way down the mountain our heroes found a cosy cave to make camp, only to be assaulted by the Mercenary Bountyhunter Thorn whose falcons and hounds sprang to attack the depleted group. Fortunately Felix had some powers in reserve and managed to get out into the open and use Bigby’s Icy Grasp. That meant that when the others fought free of the hounds and falcons they could flank Thorn and prevent his easy getaway. Taken up with Felix banter and Grim’s powerful marking, Thorn left his escape too late and was not the first to be brought down by the savagery of Mordan’s rapier.

Killing blows… (a possibly inaccurate list) Gronek: Ruintouched Bloodwalker Gnoll Vintera: Hound Felix: ½ Ruintouched Bloodwalker Gnoll, ½ Slaughterfang Hyena Mordan: Ruintouched Beastcaller Gnoll, Slaughterfang Hyena, Hound, Thorn Grim: ½ Ruintouched Bloodwalker Gnoll, 1½ Slaughterfang Hyenas

Episode 20: Fortress Graystone.
Into the wilds

In Fallcrest, The Physician commissioned a quest: Locate Fortress Graystone in the Giant’s Shield mountains and use Arcane Energy Pebbles and the Seal Portal ritual to close a conduit opened to Elemental Chaos and siphon away some of its energy. The conduit has, apparently, been created by Wicked Fang gnolls to access the power of their demon lord Yeenoghu. The leader of those gnolls is Fangren, twin of Maldrick Scarmaker whose ritual antics killed Thoran (Grim’s identical twin) in Thunderspire.

Grim chose to spend some time with Gorthak, his father, in Fallcrest before following on and The Physician suggested a female ranger, Vintera, might join the group.

A True Portal took the four to the village of Elsir Cross, on a bright morning in late Spring. The only two in the Pig’s Arms Tavern were Old Peter the barman and Halfling Tom. Both seemed somewhat the worse for wear but after a ‘tonic’ Tom sketched out a rough map to Graystone.

The five day journey was free from encounters but full of incidents. An unsteady stepping stone, a tree fall, tainted drinking water and a landslip. Was it kobolds? A man sized heel print Vintera found on the edge of the river seemed to suggest otherwise…

Dusk on Freeday brought the team to the end of their climb and they edged along the precarious mountain path to the hidden Fortress entrance. Mordan noticed the gnoll scouts and sentries lurking behind the githzerai statues on the stairs. One sentry charged Vintera who sidestepped and saw the gnoll fly off the cliff to his doom. The scouts with their cowardly shots caused problems. Vintera climbed part way up the cliff towards a balcony and dislodged a boulder down upon them both. Just as the adventurers were getting the upper hand a githzerai statue thundered into action only to be slowed by Felix. The Stonewalker Spirit possessing the statue was forced to flee into a second granite form and then touched Felix before entering a third. Felix was first slowed, then immobilised and final avoided being petrified only by the narrowest of margins. The Stonewalker did not reappear and since the climb to the balcony seemed overly treacherous, the team turned to the door…

Having carefully prised two beautiful emeralds from the door handles the team entered the fortress and met with more gnoll resistance. The octagonal room had five frosted glass portals and an arcane circle. More gnolls arrived and the lashers’ barbed whips drew Gronek further into the thick of things. Mordan was on top killing form and the last gnoll, the demonic scourge, was forced to flee. The team were enjoying the striking power of Felix and Vintera but certainly missing Grim and Durak.

Killing blows… (a possibly inaccurate list) Gronek: Gnoll Mauler Vintera: Gnoll Sentry, Gnoll Lasher Felix: Gnoll Mauler Mordan: 2 Gnoll Scouts, Gnoll Sentry, Gnoll Lasher

Episode 19: Thunderspire ends – the duergar trap.

At the top level of Paldamar’s Tower of Mysteries Durak was on his last legs and fled the battle via the teleportation gates. He met Grim at the doorway and the two dwarves tag team swapped. Meanwhile, upstairs the Bronze Warder had smashed through into the Temple of Vecna. Felix kept the Flaming Sphere on and the Norker Berserker was battered to charred remains.

Taking the Temple was a desperate fight. There were two Norker Slingers, an Enigma of Vecna, the Bronze Warder and then Paldamar himself. In addition the Skull Idol threw gouts of flame and the Statue of Vecna cast a powerful dazing aura. Memories were ripped, cloaks were charred, dwarves were dazed, Gronek and Armand both went down and even Grim, fresh to the fight was overwhelmed for a moment or two.

Time and time again Paldamar sent powerful bolts of forked and ball lightning through the top chamber of his Tower. Mordan skirted round through the mage’s chamber only to find the second arcane lock beyond him. It took everything the team had [including a curious combination of Flaming Sphere on Icy Terrain!] to batter the mage and his warder to final defeat. Felix took the +2 Magic Staff and 3 very valuable rituals. 1000gp came in handy and Armand had earned his share.

Returning to the Seven Pillared Hall there was no time to rest. Apparently a mysterious young woman called Alys had been looking for the party. After a brief meeting with mage Orontor the team traced Alys – she had been taken by the duergar in an obvious attempt to trap the party. Even though they knew they were walking into the jaws of death the party bravely went north along the Avenue of Glory after encountering the enigmatic Gilgathorn – yet another elf with an eye patch.

Alys was strung upside down in the middle of a cavern with a Cave Troll close to clawing her down to her doom. Felix blasted her with a magic missile. Was she complicit in the ambush and trap?

Grim’s Flaming Maul put paid to the troll who might otherwise have regenerated. But the entrance corridor had completely collapsed – this was the trap – no way out at all, or was there? Felix checked the well and noticed a squeeze tunnel off to the side. Mordan led the way.

Arriving on a high ledge in a massive cavern Mordan was a little too casual descending the rope to one of the precarious stone walkways – he fell right at the feet of another Cave Troll and was grabbed in the massive grey beasts vice-like claw. The others could only arrive one by one because of the squeeze tunnel but Felix was in time to spread icy terrain beneath the troll who fell and released Mordan. Grim again battered the troll and although Kedhira Grimmerzhul and her four duergar guards tried to take revenge on the party the mage’s powers were weak and Gronek, Armand and Grim were on top form.

Killing blows… (a possibly inaccurate list) Gronek: Norker Slinger, Enigma of Vecna Armand: Norker Slinger, Paldamar Felix: Alys (almost) Grim: 2 Cave Trolls Mordan: Norker Berserker, Bronze Warder

Alys carried a note from The Physician with an urgent summons to Fallcrest. Stopping briefly to collect a reward from Orontor the team made there way back up the Road of Lanterns and into daylight for the first time in a fortnight. They arrived in Fallcrest on Waterday 5th Coldeven, a bright spring day, intending to rest and retrain with the support of their old master Douven and their new sponsor – The Physician.

Grim’s father Gorthak is staying in Fallcrest.

Upon meeting you The Physician apologises for the original event that caused your memory loss. You were sent by Douven to steal a book from the Physician’s house. He felt within his rights to defend his home with magical traps but the Memory Ripper trap was one of his experimental defence rituals. He has done his best to recover your memories and research your past as he values your work in the Nentir Vale and would like your continued support. In return he will endeavour to help you in your questing.

He explains that he is a researcher of rituals and that his work requires sources of arcane energy. One way to obtain such energies is to tap into the vast powers that hold open interplanar portals. He has a device to detect such gateways and located the one in Thunderspire not long before it was sealed. Recently he has detected a new portal, the magical signature of which indicates that it is almost identical to the one in Thunderspire. Further costly research revealed it to be south in Fortress Graystone, the ruins of an ancient githzerai stronghold built into the side of a peak in the Giant’s Shield mountains. According to local sources, some months ago Fortress Graystone was invaded and claimed by a pack of gnoll mercenaries calling themselves The Wicked Fang. Their leader, Fangren, has apparently managed to open a conduit of power to Yeenoghu’s realm in the Elemental Chaos. Rumour has it that he intends to claim some small fragment of the Demon Lord’s power, transforming himself into an exarch of the Beast of Butchery.

The Physician bids you go to foil the gnolls and seal the rift. He provides you with his newly developed “Seal Portal” ritual and 8 glassy black smooth stones which he explains will siphon off arcane energy as the conduit is sealed. His resources are stretched so he cannot offer payment but anything you find will be yours and he will make travel arrangements in the form of a True Portal to the village of Elsir Cross, a few miles south of the Giant’s Shield mountains. He urges you move quickly – within the next week, for two reasons. Firstly, the gnolls and the potential of the demonic conduit are a threat to the whole area. Secondly, if the portal is closed too soon, the arcane energies he requires for magical research will be lost.

Assuming you accept the mission, he and Douven will support you with any retraining you require and can also help you source (but not pay for) magic items that will aid you. [They can find one item of 7th level for each character at cost price + 5% finders fee].

Episode 18: The Tower of Mysteries
Finding Paldamar

Torn apart by grief, frustration and despair at losing his twin, Grim locked himself in his room at the Halfmoon Inn and refused to come out. Felix, feeling the pull of the magical silver key thought they could find Paldamar and take some revenge and so after restocking with minor consumables The Flying Circus -1 walked the short route to the dark corridor near the Seven Pillared Hall where the key led.

Mordan had managed to persuade, with a very generous offer, a burly fighter called Armand to join them on this foray but the battle scarred hireling was no help during the first encounter – Vecna’s Challenge. The key flew from Felix’s hand into solid rock, forming its own keyhole and opening a secret door leading into a long passageway. At the end a 40’ square room held an arcane circle and as Mordan approached the circle flared with energy and a spectral figure clad in thick scarlet robes, missing its left hand and right eye, appeared to challenge the party. Gronek and Mordan spun tales of heroism, history, magic and faith to impress the arrogant spirit. They said enough to be allowed to used the teleportation circle – at a price of life essence.

Grim swung from his bed shaking the temper into action. Quickly asking Rendil for directions he made to catch up with the Flying Circus but was frustrated when coming to the locked secret door which still shone with a faint arcane aura. Pacing the corridor, he determined to wait, or one way or another, get through to aid his friends.

Teleporting to the first level of the Tower of Mysteries the team met the vicious, granite grey goblinoid Norkers and the gaunt bald horrifying Enigmas of Vecna. Even the fabric of the place sucked the very life from them and the dread Enigmas ripped memories from one character after another, greatly restricting their skills and abilities. Armand impressed and the team came through, one Norker Grunt so overwhelmed that he fled and died of a heart attack. Durak and Mordan found well hidden gems and the party moved to the next teleportation area.

Felix then magically disguised herself as an Enigma of Vecna and incredibly, throughout the whole of the forthcoming encounter, none of the enemies challenged her or recognised the deception. Sadly Durak was also convinced by the disguise but although the Warlock launched several Eldrich Blasts he did nothing but pepper the walls with arcane fire. All too soon the Bronze Warder creaked into action, only to be held back by Bigby’s Icy Grasp. Something invisible was flying around the area but only attacked once, attempting to sting Felix in Enigma form. After a trying battle Flying Circus were victorious but found nothing of value in the library. Durak decided to trash the laboratory and spent time destroying the large glass container filled with magical acid and the floating head of a Bronze Warder. This caused the brief appearance of Paldemar who promised Durak – “Oh, you shall die for this!”

Undaunted the team teleported upwards to the third level of the Tower of Mysteries and have so far encountered yet another Bronze Warder and a Norker Berserker.

Killing blows… (a possibly inaccurate list) Gronek: Norker, Enigma of Vecna Armand: Norker, Enigma of Vecna, Grunt, Bronze Warder Felix: 2 Norkers, 5 Grunts Durak: Norker Mordan: 2 Norkers, 2 Enigmas of Vecna, Grunt

Thoran’s Doom…
Death of a twin

Venturing onwards the Flying Circus came to the Hall of Howling Pillars in search of the Bell of Fury’s Calling. The pillars grabbed, bit, spewed acid and force gazed but Mordan danced a path to the altar and stole the bell awakening the demon defenders. The withdrawal was a little more complex but they now had all four items and were ready to penetrate the door to the inner sanctum…

Opening all the doors so they could each stand at a runic circle with an artefact, the gang prepared to place the objects and, unknown to them, raise the guardians of The Proving Grounds. Grim saw the Doom Sphere begin its relentless circuit on the inner track and then fled onto that track in response to the terrifying magical screams of the Roaring Terror Idols. In the pool room Felix was assaulted by the Elemental Vortex but she kept total perspective and comfortably escaped. Durak and Gronek were safe as the Flying Circus had prepared by casting all the bones into the Guardian’s pit and Mordan moved so quickly that the deadly Crossbow Turret traps never got a sight of him. Rounding a corner however, Mordan came face to face with Vargachoth – a young green dragon cursed to guard the proving grounds whenever summoned.

Having avoided three of the runic circle room traps the battle with Vargachoth was easier than it should have been, particularly with poison resistance. The dragon also made the mistake of landing to attack and was then kept on the ground because of being slowed by Felix. The damage was done and although the wyrm took briefly to the air again, Durak brought him down – Durak Dragonslayer!

The risky operation of severing the head then took place…

When the door to the Inner Sanctum eventually opened wide, only Grim and Mordan braved the thick grey mist and came upon Maldrick Scarmaker in the middle of a deadly ritual, supported by a Bonecrusher Minotaur Skeleton, a Bargura and three more Carnage Demons. Two human prisoners and Thoran were in the sacrificial circle and early on, when one of them disintegrated in a shaft of demonic light, Felix realised they had no time to back out. Gronek and Durak were also in the battle by now. Grim had been knocked down by the Bonecrusher and manoeuvring in the cramped entrance was difficult – especially with the Bargura and Bonecrusher having the reach to swat people from well back.

Maldrick used his Infernal Moon Curse to dangle Mordan in the air for a while but then it was Mordan with Blinding Barrage and Bait & Switch together with Felix and her Flaming Sphere who really broke through to the Gnoll Demonic Scourge. However, a second human prisoner had just gone up in infernal fire and Thoran was looking anxious.

Getting through to the chief drew Mordan to the attention of the Barlgura who slammed him unconscious. Being out of surges it looked as though the rogue was out of this one. Then the Carnage Demons fell and a gap opened up. In just one more round they would kill Maldrick and turn the battle around.

Then the unthinkable happened. Maldrick completed the ritual with his dying breath and Grim let out a tortured scream as his twin vanished in hellish arcane fire. Grim had his revenge immediately but with the ritual complete an no Maldrick to control and direct the energies released the place began to tremble and heat up. Grim managed to drag out and loot Maldrick’s body (+2 Elven Cloak and magical silver key) but as the party fled, the earth broke apart down there and volcanic lava flooded the Well of Demons. From the sound of it, whatever the ritual released is encased in molten rock – at least for now.

On the weary, gloomy march back to the Seven Pillared Hall, The Flying Circus were forced into hiding as a platoon of thirty duergar soldiers trooped by, obviously on their way to reclaim the Horned Hold…

Killing blows… (a possibly inaccurate list) Gronek: Carnage Demon Grim: 3 Carnage Demons, Gnoll Demonic Scourge – Maldrick Scarmaker Felix: 2 Carnage Demons Durak: Large Green Dragon Mordan: Carnage Demon, Bonecrusher Minotaur Skeleton

16. Well of Demons Part 2

It was a quick turn around from the Halfmoon Inn and our heroes [hereafter known as The Flying Circus] returned quickly to the Well of Demons in search of Grim’s twin and questing to bring the rebel mage Palamar to justice.

They rapidly reclaimed the Book of Wrath Unveiled from the Shrine to Baphomet with just a little interference from a guarding Barlgura. Next came the meeting with the spirits of the restless dead Valdrog the Brute, Sir Terris and Mendara the Mystic. Although the discussion did not go well at times, Gronek impressed and was rewarded with vital information about his shady family history. The team also learned about the Proving Grounds, a testing place for worshippers of Baphomet. They discovered that they needed to collect knife, mask, bell and book and place them on magical runes at the exact same time.

Mordan led the exploration and also uncovered the first treasure – a hidden stash of gold and gems. It was also Mordan who first braved to look beyond the curtain into the many mirrored Hall of Enforced Introspection. Some say this is where the team earned the “Circus” part of their now famous name. Durak was captured by a trapping mirror and teleported to the Oubliette of the Empty Mind where an angry, hungry and crazed gnoll leapt to attack. Draining Mirrors tempted glances and sucked life from others before Grim joined Durak in the trap. Apart from Felix no one really went into this with their eyes open. Nevertheless splintering Boneshards failed to daunt Gronek, Mordan and Felix. It was Gronek who braved the minotaur hand imprint to win the black wooden mask The Face of Baphomet and to set his fellow dwarfs free.

Onwards to the Hall of the Crimson Whip and once again it was Mordan who led the way, bravely attempting to climb to the blade and hilt before sliding into poisonous blood pools to be attacked by carnage demons as he risked the flailing whip of the Bloodtaker Statues. He then made a brave and successful attempt to disable a statue taking heavy damage as others cowered beyond the doorway.

Felix blasted the other Bloodtaker having always been brave at a distance of 100 feet. Then Durak risked all in a Spider Scuttle to the goal, with no knowing how he might get back. That was almost the end for the brave dwarf as he was waylaid on all sides by carnage demons and barely escaped through blood but he had the blade!

Grim and Gronek had had enough by now. Revealing hitherto unknown athletic prowess Grim leapt from platform to platform to claim the hilt even though regenerated demons also dogged his steps. Gronek was no slouch either, also making momentous leaps to back up his friend with a volley of bolts. Together The Flying Circus had claimed The Bloodhorn Blade!

Killing blows… (a possibly inaccurate list) Gronek: Boneshard Skeleton Grim: Barlgura, Gnoll Marauder, Carnage Demon Felix: Minotaur Bloodtaker Statue Durak: Minotaur Bloodtaker Statue ½ Mordan: Carnage Demon, Boneshard Skeleton, Minotaur Bloodtaker Statue ½

15. Well of Demons

Having relaxed briefly in the Seven Pillared Hall Grim decided to approach the Mages to find out more about Paldamar. Durak was key in the negotiations with Orontor who eventually promised 750GP and a level 8 magic item for evidence of a thorough, quick and conclusive investigation.

Following the map found on the ambushing teiflings, the team made their way to The Well of Demons – supposedly home to the Blackfang gnolls and possibly the location of 3 desperate captives – including Thoran; Grim’s twin.

The descending dark approach to the Well of Demons was haunted with feelings of unease and looming dark presence. Coming into the Chamber of the Well was a shock as sudden attacks came from all angles. The terrifying land squid phalagar through multiple tentacles up through the cracked floor whist cavern chokers extended elastic arms from the ceiling to grab and strangle victims below. A lurking ghoul also tried to finish off the waylaid Mordan. Felix was being strangled when Gronek missed her with the craghammer. Eventually the team broke free and Grim finished off the phalagar as Mordan got the ghoul. The chokers, seeing the game was up, fled into ceiling cracks.

Moving east to the Gnoll Barracks, they made short work of gnolls and hyenas and managed to stop the escape of the huntmaster. Grim picked up a pile of 42Gp of coins and Durak found 76GP and a topaz worth 150GP.

Onwards to the Practice Hall where Grim became a pincushion for a brief time. Good tactics, fire on hay bails and blinding barrage saw the battle won comfortably.

Next came the Shrine to Baphomet with the Gnoll Demonic Scourge who summoned a Barlgura demon for assistance. The insidious haunting presence of the Well of Demons was evidenced when Gronek was momentarily possessed by the restless spirit of a minotaur priest. He managed to shake it off but not before he had connected his most effective attack ever – craghammering Grim to near death. But it was the stout Grim who eventually finished off the demon, striking from the ground having just recovered!

The tiefling brothers Azkelak and Katal then revealed themselves but received a frosty reception from ice maiden Felix. Katal was killed but Azkelak used teleportation and lurking invisibility to escape. In the Shrine, an altar of bones topped with black candles was lectern for a small book bound in black leather: The Book of Wrath Unveiled, a treatise on the cult of Baphomet.

Treasure found in the scourge’s chamber: • Shadowfell gloves (PHB247) • A gold necklace inlaid with diamonds and rubies (worth 400GP) • A jade bracelet (worth 100GP) • 62GP

Killing blows… (a possibly inaccurate list) Gronek: 2 hyenas (how could you?), 1 huntmaster gnoll, Grim (almost) Grim: phalagar, 2 hyenas, gnoll huntmaster, gnoll demonic scourge, barlgura Felix: 2 hyenas, gnoll huntmaster Durak: hyena, gnoll huntmaster Mordan: ghoul, gnoll huntmaster, 2 gnoll marauders

You returned to The Halfmoon Inn mid afternoon on Starday 1st Coldeven. Gronek came across a previously overlooked notice behind the bar of the Inn: “A few days ago, one of my mining teams were attacked and my dear pet, mount and beast of burden, dire boar Wug was taken. I believe gnolls were responsible. There is a gemstone reward for the safe return of Wug. See Ulthand Deepgem.”

The rest time for all of you was full of nightmarish dreams full of demons and dark undead sorcery. On waking you found The Book of Wrath Unveiled had vanished.

Episode 14: Heroes of the Horned Hold
Last Legs?

All seemed bleak as the depleted group faced spined devils, Framarth the Theurge, Murkelmor, Duergar Guards and whatever else might be lurking. Felix threw her weight against the doors and held firm while the team reorganised. She also gave of her life spirit to Mordan using the Belt of Sacrifice – a move that could have saved the day. Grim took his place beside her as everyone made over to the South Gate room. Slamming the doors they frantically tried to agree a plan. Felix blocked the door with a bed, even though it opened outwards.

It was Durak who saved the day. Checking the huge iron fortress door he heard the ranting of mad dwarf and would-be-king Thain Cardanas beyond. They let Thain in and negotiated the sale of the fortress, leaving him to establish dominion with the aid of his rabble of berserkers. Ten minutes later, a little refreshed the team took up their responsibilities to the slave and went back in.

Thain’s team had been wiped out, mainly by the spined devils. But Murkelmor’s duergar were weakened. Gronek went east, spiking doors to watch their backs. Meanwhile Framarth and Murkelmor sneaked up behind the others. Mordan, on the edge of extinction, danced in and out of the battle. Felix blasted the head from the Theurge as well as bringing down the spined devils. Gronek waded in, the craghammer connecting more often than not. Grim dispatched a guard and Durak another before Mordan took his life in his hands to deliver the killing blow on the chief of the Horned Hold duergar.

The captives were released. Grim played a joke on Splug, swinging his maul close to the goblin’s head before landing it on the chains. Felix took responsibility for his old friend. Grim took Murkelmor’s magic maul and Felix grabbed a new amulet. Unfortunately two human captives and Thoran – Grim’s twin – were missing, apparently taken by gnolls. Returning the captives safely to the Seven Pillared Hall, they were once again welcomed as heroes to the Half Moon Inn for a good feed up and rest.

The next day a mysterious letter was delivered… “Your actions against the duergar are commendable. I am in a position of power in the evil organisation behind the duergar’s actions, and I wish to help you defeat my comrades. I have been seeking a way out of the organisation, and I believe you can help me. Follow the attached map so that we can meet in secret.”

The gang went to investigate and Gronek got caught between a rock and a hard place as Felix proved a hesitant climber and Durak a veritable spider-dwarf. Tieflings and a Bronze Warder could have caused havoc but Bigby’s Icy Grasp did its job superbly and prevented the warder from being the threat it could have been. Grim finished both of the tieflings and Gronek undoubtedly craghammered the Warder into oblivion.

Two more letters and a map were found… “I don’t care how you do it, but deal with these adventurers. Take one of the bronze warders if you must. If they remain in the Labyrinth, they could disrupt my plans. Once you’ve dealt with them, deliver their bodies to our gnoll friends, along with the enclosed scroll.


“To Maldrick Scarmaker, Exalted Chieftain of the Blackfangs and Chosen of Yeenogu:

Paldemar offers you the corpses of these champions as a gift of ongoing friendship, that our arrangement might continue to be mutually beneficial. May you savour their blood.

Your friend and ally, Paldemar”

The map gave directions to the Well of Demons, which is circled and marked with the word “Blackfangs.” Returning once again to the Hall (with the remains of the Bronze Warder!), the team of five found out that Paldemar is a member of the Mages of Saruun. He has been missing and out of contact with the Mages for many weeks. What you discovered about Yeenoghu: Yeenoghu has many names and each name reflects another fact of his cruel, savage nature. Most know him as the Demon Prince of Gnolls, but among the gnolls he is called The Destroyer, and in certain circles The Beast of Butchery or the Ruler of Ruin. He is a vehicle of destruction and was once a primordial, one of the shapers of creation, but was transformed and awakened by the mysterious Chained God, believed to lurk at the bottom of the Abyss. Yeenoghu hungers for carnage but also craves power. He goads his mortal servants into performing appalling acts of evil in his name, showing no mercy.

The next day being Freeday (day of rest) 28th Readying (Spring), the shops were closed and you rested up except for a stroll around the hall during which you read this notice on the closed Grimmerzhul duergar Trading Post. “Closed until further notice owing to a bereavement.”

Tomorrow is Starday 1st of Coldeven – a good day to assault the Well of Demons? Thoran is in grave danger…


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