Graveyard World

Espis Chapter 8: The Highhaven Spellforge

With Gundren rescued, the party makes their way back to Old Owl Well. When they return to the camp, Kharl is finally able to deliver his letter, which Gundren tells him to read to the group…


Gundren,

Last night I felt Old Rhob die, finally consumed by the maelstrom. The world does not mourn him – he has been gone for too long, and few remember him.

The seals we put in place to prevent this have been cracked, one by one, despite what I know to be your best efforts. I have felt the eyes of a diviner upon me, and I fear that it will only be a matter of time before some agent or another comes for me.

The plan is not working.

I know that you have always considered me rash, and impatient, and I respect that your long life gives you greater perspective. But here, at the end of my days, and with knives waiting for me in the night, I call you to action, before it is too late.

Kaz and Urzoth are gone. I am old and frail before my time. We have no heirs fit to carry on our duty. I fear that which we seek to contain has weakened us, has leeched our power from us, our bloodlines, our totems and our gods. We need to accept that this corruption is unique – it cannot be contained, and we must act to destory it.

This will be our last correspondence. I will see this letter delivered, and then I intend to buy you some time by doing something drastic. I’m sure you wouldn’t approve.

Give my love to Lillin,

Kharl


The next morning, a pair of elvish knights, a paladin and cleric of Tymora, arrive at Old Owl Well, greeting them and asking them for directions to Agatha. Though Kharl is suspicious, the party leads the paladin to Agatha, and successfully extracts the location of Bojangles spellbook from the banshee – mislabeled, within the library at Highhaven. Having completed their mission, the knights offer to return Gundren to Phandalin, allowing the party to make their way directly to the Spellforge, now that they have the map.

Gundren reveals that he had simply sought out the Spellforge to find a tome that he believed would help him, and he was completely surprised by the Black Spider and the ferocity of his attacks. He tells the party that there must be something else within the Spellforge, something that is worth spending enormous quantities of resources on obtaining.

Parting ways, the party makes their way to the Spellforge, finding the caved in entrance after a couple of days of traveling overland. Entering the forge via a hidden fissure that had been created by earthquakes, the party sneaks their way through the old mining tunnels that criss-cross the outer edge of the old settlement, guided by Kharl’s magic and hidden by Urllex’s, until they find themselves on the other side of the caved in entrance.

Lorna clears the way forward, killing ghouls from the shadows, and they find that the undead hiding in the entrance of the cave have fled further into the complex, shying away from light shafts to the outside that Dakarai had cleared earlier.

Avoiding the main cavern of the complex, the party takes a detour into a fungus filled cavern, which Dakarai and Urllex determine to be poisonous. Varyk teleports Lorna and Urllexin across, while Dakarai carefully climbs across the ceiling, using his earth attunement to find footholds in the rock. Blessing and warding himself, Kharl simply runs through the spores, managing to completely avoid the poison.

On the other side of the cavern, the party finds themselves in a beautiful, crystal studded cave that gives the illusion of the night sky, within which stands two structures. Entering the first one, the party angers a powerful wraith, and though they defeat it, it almost kills Kharl, and Dakarai is forced to bring the roof down on the wraith to scatter it, burying any treasure that may have lain within.

Moving on to the second structure, Dakarai attempts to stealthily approach the front door, but he is detected by some kind of psychic presence residing inside, which warns him against entering the spellforge…

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Espis Chapter 7: Escape from Cragmaw Castle

After a brief discussion, the party decides that the dangers that lurk behind the curtain are too dangerous to deal with directly, so Varyk leads Kharl and Urllexin around the long way, intimidating his way through a banquet hall overseen by a goblin chef with a power complex.

The group reunites in a small corridor with a barred exit that leads to the outside of the castle. Unbarring the exit, Urllexin and Lorna split away bring the cart around for a quick exit, while the others go deeper into the castle.

After swiftly dealing to the hobgoblin guards, Dakarai and Kharl hide in the shadows while Varyk comes face to face with King Grol and his guest; the “Black Spider.” Grol believes that Varyk is in league with the Spider and leads him in. The Spider is not fooled, but allows the scene to unfold.

Varyk identifies the Spider as his one time employer Zyn Coborel, and Kyuss warns Varyk against acting rashly, as something about the situation is off.

Grol reveals that he has been working with Zyn in return for the enchanted mace “Lightbringer.” When Zyn asks for more manpower to help him excavate the Spellforge, Grol becomes angry, revealing that he has already gone above and beyond his part of the deal, capturing Gundren (who Varyk identifies as an unconscious heap in the corner) and obtaining his map.

After toying with Varyk for a moment, Zyn suddenly flips the table and begins to make a move at Varyk. In that instant, Dakarai and Kharl leap out of hiding and launch a surprise attack against Grol and his wolf, who had been sleeping at the fire.

Surprised, Zyn takes Gundren hostage and drags him to the window, knife to his throat. Kharl uses a spell Gundren, reviving him and then closes the distance on Zyn. Gundren uses this opportunity to escape from Zyn’s grip, crawling on his hands and knees away from the fight.

Zyn’s throat deforms and swells in an entirely alien way, and the drow spits acid onto the fleeing Gundren, badly burning the dwarf and leaving him twitching and writhing on the floor. Kharl hits Zyn with his mace in retaliation, and is surprised when the hammer merely sinks into his body – the drows flesh is like tar.

While Dakarai single handedly handles Grol and his wolf, Varyk and Kharl close in on Zyn, dousing him with fire and finally killing him with a blast of holy energy. In death, Zyn’s body melts almost completely – Kyuss appears to Varyk and informs him sagely that if that was a real guy, you would have expected to see bones in there.

Stabilising Gundren and recovering the map from beneath Grol’s filthy mattress, the party leaves the castle via their escape route, towards the waiting Lorna and Urllexin, who lead them away from the castle and through the checkpoint at the outer wall, the grounds now peppered with dead goblins.

The party makes their way back to the hideaway overlooking the castle, and hunkers down to wait out the storm.

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Espis Chapter 6: Cragmaw Castle

The party spends some time recuperating at Old Owl Well. Varyk, banished to an otherworldly waiting room by his demonic patron, is summarily returned with a mission – find the Drow responsible for attacking him and teleporting Varyk to Espis in the first place. After Dakarai identifies from a scroll that the priest they had defeated was preparing the outpost for a ritual of displacement, the party spent some time clearing the symbols and reversing the spell.

The party stumbles upon a boarded up entrance to the keep below Old Owl Well, and finds signs of a struggle and a shattered mechanism. After reactivating the mechanism, the party opens an iron portal, revealing a chute that falls down into inky, wet darkness. After much deliberation, the party closes the portal, closes the entrance, and leaves a note for future adventurers to keep clear.

The party leaves Old Owl Well to meet with the banshee Agatha, travelling down a rough path hewn into the side of a canyon into the heavily wooded lowlands.

Upon meeting with Agatha, Kharl fails to calm the banshee, and in a fit of righteousness, banishes Agatha from her home. While the party wondered what to do next, Agatha returned, conjuring up images of destruction and causing all but Dakarai and Kharl to flee. Dakarai watches on in horror as Kharl is almost killed by Agatha’s shriek, before the banshee and her home disappear entirely.

Feeling a pull towards the nearby swamp by the roots in her rucksack, Lorna and Urllexin lead the party down into the nearby swamp, where they come across signs of destruction, strikingly similar to the damage done to Lorna’s homeland. The party makes contact with a tribe of Bullywugs, who’s town was destroyed, and Urllexin manages to strike up a conversation with the tribes Druid, who imparts that the town was destroyed by armoured mercenaries wielding silvered weapons. Lorna gifts the roots in her bag to the swamp, growing a new cluster of mangroves to the delight and relief of the Bullywugs. One of the trees gifts Lorna the Flowering Bow, as a sign of thanks.

Leaving the swamp, the party spends another night at Old Owl Well, in preparation for a two day journey to Cragmaw Castle. After an uneventful trip along the edge of the canyon, the party arrives at the castle just as a storm is beginning to strike. Posing as an agent of the Black Spider, Varyk leads Urllex and Kharl into the castle as prisoners, while Lorna and Dakarai stealthily scale the side of the castle. Unguarded and inside the castle, the party quietly makes their way inside, finding the sword of Hudson Abadeir in the process.

Hearing chanting coming from inside the old chapel, Kharl leads a savage attack on a group of Goblin worshippers lead by the Goblin priest Lhupo, while Dakarai and Lorna make their way along the walls of the castle and into a precarious ruined tower on the western side.

Both groups are now inside the castle, separated from each other by a blacked-out section of the former chapel, the party gears up for an attack on something that they can hear lurking in the darkness…

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Espis Chapter 5: Arborox

The party arrives at Arborox, finding it abandoned except for zombies and monsters. In an abandoned inn, the Brown Horse, Dakarai identified a symbol of Xaviara hewn into the floor, indicating that the town had fallen prey to absolute despair, desperately trying anything to stay bound together after the collapse.

Finally tracking down the druid Reidoth, the party made some concerning discoveries – Kharl, that his god Rhobsarendor died long ago, raising the question of whom he was communing with, Lorna, that the skull she has been carrying around was in fact a construct, a result of modern, state-of-the-art runecraft, and that Urllexin had suppressed memories of being sent to the beast coast because she showed promise as a druid. The party also received the final piece of the map required to hunt down Cragmaw castle, and hopefully rescue Rockseeker.

Unsure of their capacity to defeat the creatures of Arborox and drive off its resident dragon, the party struck out for Cragmaw castle, with the aim of stopping off at Old Owl Well along the way. Arriving at the abandoned watchtower, the party ran afoul of a priest of the Bloody Light and his undead servants, who was at the watchtower to somehow ‘claim’ it for the church.

Immediately striking, the party successfully defeated the priest, though his undead servants (and their disembodied, scuttling hands) were a tough adversary. Dakarai pulled a book off the priests body that seemed to describe the ritual he was undertaking in detail. Taking a brief rest in the abandoned tower, the party readied themselves for their next task – communing with the banshee Agatha.

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Espis Chapter 4: Glasstaff

Without warning, Varyk’s demonic patron captures him and pulls his struggling body through a flaming portal, at the same time plucking the parties memory of him out of thier heads.

Unperturbed, the rest of the party breaks down the door to Glasstaff’s labratory, finding it deserted. Determining that Glasstaff has fled, the party tracks him to the entrance of the dungeon, where he is swiftly disabled by Lorna.

Kharl delivers the unconcious wizard to Hudson, who reveals that the wizard is Iarno Albrek, a wizard of the Crossroad Knights that Hudson was sent to seek out. Meanwhile, the party, searching for Qelline Alderleaf and her son, engages the Nothic, unaware of the deal the creature made with Varyk. Quick thinking by Darakrai and Lorna saw the creature crushed under a rock, deep in a ravine, where the party also discovered a chache of treasure, including an enchanted Laventius family sword of considerable power.

Hearing voices calling out from an unexplored passage, Kharl follows a corridor into the old Laventius crypt, where he is attacked by three skeletons. He manages to turn two of them, but is incapacitated by the last, before the rest of the party returned to rescue him.

Exploring the crypt, the party found a hidden prison and saved the trapped halfling and her son, who Lorna helped return home. Meanwhile, Urllexin and Dakarai searched Glasstaffs belongings, finding evidence of his betrayal, and returned this evidence to Hudson.

Hudson, overwhelmed by the discovery of Iarno’s betrayal and the revelation that he was the heir to the Laventius Estate (from a note found within the recently discovered sword), tasked the party with hunting down the rest of the hobgoblins and putting an end to the Black Spider.

With a few leads to follow, the party bought two horses and a cart, and headed out of town, making for Arborox, to hunt down the druid Lorna has been searching for.

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Espis Chapter 3: Into the Laventius Estate

The party returns to Phandalin with their hobgoblin prisoner, and spends the day in training, rest and recuperation. Varyk spends this time on an information gathering expedition, and overhears a few of the Redbrands plotting to silence him that night.

The party sets up an ambush, capturing three of these attackers and killing one. During the fighting, Dakarai, a lost vagabond, warns Urllexin to approaching enemies, and is welcomed into the group. Clues on the bodies of the prisoners lead the party to discover that the mayor was killed at some point earlier in the night.

The next morning, interrogation of the prisoners leads the party to discover that the Redbrands are hiding out beneath the Laventius Estate, to which they find two entrances. Qelline Alderleaf and her son being kidnapped raises the stakes, and the party enters the catacombs beneath the estate, fighting their way, room by room into the heart of the Redbrand base of operations (with the help of a few good berries).

While there are mostly humans and a few Bugbears camping in the ruins, Varyk does come across a dangerous lurking Nothic, and promises it the staff of the wizard Glasstaff if it leaves the party alone.

We left the party interrogating a drunk, just before discerning that the room they are in sits opposite Glasstaffs quarters.

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Espis Chapter 2: Arrival in Phandalin

The party travels to Phandalin, chased for a while by Klarg and his goblins, before successfully arriving in the town and delivering the goods they were escorting and receiving their payment. They travel to the local inn for the night, where they hear a number of rumors and receive a number of opportunities;

  • Lorna followed up on a lead and found out from the halfling Qelline Alderleaf that the druid she has been searching for is currently living in the town of Arboron.
  • Sister Garaele asked Kharl to visit a banshee out at Old Owl Well, and gave him a comb to present as a gift.
  • The party found out about orcs raiding from the east, which there is a bounty on.
  • The party was asked to rid the town of the Redbrand faction by multiple parties. Varyk overheard from a group of members that the group answers to a wizard named Glassstaff and appears to answer to the Black Spider.
  • The party was asked by Hudson to maintain pressure on the goblin attackers, hunt down Grunden Rockseeker, find out what is going on and who is behind it, and find his sword, Laventius’ Bane.

Before acting on any of these opportunities, the party waits until night and returns to the goblin hideout, with the intention of defeating Klarg and finding out where Grunden Rockseeker might be held. After a rough skirmish at the front of the cave (the goblins having set up more defensive structures in the previous day), the party reached a stalemate with Klarg, who had holed away in a well defended cave.

Divining from conversation and hints that the ‘Black Spider’ that Klarg serves might be a dark elf, Varyk tricks Klarg into believing that he is a friend, and gets them to reveal that they came from a place called Cragmaw Castle. The ruse is discovered when Klarg’s wolf smells Urllexin, but before they can react, Varyk engulfs them all in flame, while Lorna and Urllexin shoot from the shadows.

Varyk stabilises Klarg and ties him up for further questioning, and the party loot his treasure chest and discover a lost shipment of supplies bound for Phandalin.

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Espis Chapter 1: The Goblin Ambush

For a variety of different reasons, and with different goals, a party of adventurers escorts a caravan of supplies to the town of Phandalin, where they hope to meet Gundren Rockseeker, a guild leader and prospector.

Half a day from the town, they are ambushed by goblins, and find evidence that Hudson Abadeir of the Crossroad Knights has been captured and taken to a nearby hideout. Following tracks left by the goblins, Urllexin leads the party to a cave entrance.

Lorna scopes out the cave, leading to the capture and integration of a hapless goblin watchman, who tells them that Gundren has been kidnapped and taken to King Grol, who the goblins in the cave report to. The party also become aware that Hudson Abadeir is inside, held in the ‘eating cave’.

The party charges in, avoiding wolves and narrowly avoiding a water trap designed to repel intruders, and after a flawlessly executed ambush manages to rescue Hudson, who is furious at his capture and the loss of his sword, Laventius’ Bane. He offers the party a reward for getting him safely to Phandalin, and the party, exhausted and injured, agrees.

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Arkenreln Aftermath

The events that happened in Arkenreln during the battle with Cherintanos and the Lich are muddy, but had a few obvious effects on the world at large.

While the Lich was defeated, it appears that Cherintanos managed to ascend, becoming a shapeshifting, undead god that continues to be a source of fear for the entire world. Atrius, unwilling to let this stand, left on a journey to master a new form of shapeshifting and to find a way to destroy Cherintanos for good.

Gripped by religious ecstasy, the armies of Overcairn declared Recrentius the true ruler of Arkenreln and the High Prophet of the God of Bloody Light, and have since began transforming the realm into a religious state.

Arvahnt, disgusted by this turn of events, channeled the power of The Gnarl and severed Arkenreln’s connection to the Nameless Forest, returning it to the Outer Reaches, where she remains as it’s protector to this day.

Nobody quite knew what became of Eilyac, who seemed to be pulled into a dark portal at a pivotal point during the fighting, seconds after preventing the Lich from casting a dark spell on the lodestone of Overcairn. Many of those who were close to death during the fighting noted that they saw his grinning face in their dreams, seconds before being stabalised or healed.

Either through political or mystical means, the supplies of Negative Energy from Arkenreln dried up, meaning that anti-magical devices throughout the lodestone network quickly became far harder to maintain, leading to a golden age for arcane trickery.

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Arkenreln Chapter 6: Retaking Overcairn

The party returns to Overcairn, which is a city in chaos. The Caster of Shadows, a mysterious crime lord, has come out of hiding after the creation of the Tantail Tree destroyed the underground network her spies used to transport goods.

The party joins up with resistance fighters, defeats an ambush of the Caster’s shadows, and begins planning a counterattack to retake the castle that the Caster has made her home. While Recrentius whips Overcairn’s soldiers into a religious fervour and leads the army against the massed Shadows, the rest of the party sneaks into the castle in an attempt to cut off the head of the snake.

The party succeeds in their mission, and begins the process of readying the city for an undead invasion from beyond the fleshwastes.

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