Session 18: In the Mouth of Madness

A panicked Weiss barrels into the room.

“Mistress, there are interlopers above,” he says scrambling down the stairs.

The battle-scarred knight looks at him with disgust, “And you didn’t stop them? Useless.”

He winces at her words as he skids to a stop just outside the circle the overseer had drawn for his ritual. Weiss begins to speak, but stops quickly when he sees a glimmer of something dangerous in the knight’s eye.

“Weiss,” she says slowly through gritted teeth, “rally these ghouls and stop them. If they don’t fall to your blade, you will fall to mine.”

The knight slams her faceguard in place as the sound of a galloping horse grows louder. She looks over her shoulder at the circle of cultists, “How much time?”

“Nearly there,” the man yells as if trying to be heard over some great noise. His voice echoes through the grave-silent basement like a bell. “Just a few more seconds,” he says with a grunt.

She nods with determination and the hammer she holds bursts into black flames, “You’ll have them.”

Cast of Characters

Players

  • Baeren Torunn played by Brad
  • Thundershrub played by Justin
  • Octavia Barnaby played by Jolene
  • Alzaren played by Dave
  • Salvine played by Cody

NPC’s

  • Maerwynn of the Emerald Finger Fallen paladin who had fallen in with cultists and ended up leading an army against a land she formerly protected.
  • Weiss Firehorn Formerly a captain in the Cardinia army. Was raised as undead in the Invasion of Tormad Plateau.
  • Brick Doomcloud Warlock of the Outer being known as the dreamer.
  • Oakhurst Resurrected Grove Guardian whose axe Baeren carries
  • Cott Undead Paladin who protects the ruins of the Forgotten Empire from invaders.

Part One: Once More unto the Breach!

Baeren and Thundershrub crashed down the stairs into a swarm of waiting undead. The knight who seemed to be leading the enemy forces bolstered her soldiers as Baeren heroically leapt over the front lines. He landed next to her and unleashed a ferocious attack which she deftly avoided. Thundershrub charged into the line of zombies and waylaid their ranks with flank and hoof. The knight, having been surprised by the boldness of Baeren’s attack, quickly regained her senses and launched a brutal counter attack, cracking several of Baeren’s ribs as she lifted him off the ground with the force of her blow.

The remaining party members joined the assault, hurling fireballs and eldritch blasts. Octavia, still invisible from the fight with Weiss and his zombies, slipped deftly past the horde of zombies frantically trying to gain an edge over Thundershrub’s equine form. The cultists at the center of the chamber’s chants echoed through the cavernous basement as they began the last verse of their profane ritual. Alzaren, sensing the danger the cultists posed, focused his thrumming arcane energies into a lethal ball of flames that felled all but the cultist leader. Salvine found his courage in a brief heroic moment and let loose a twinned pair of eldritch bolts that crashed into the zombie horde with devilish efficiency.

Part Two: Turning the Tide

Thundershrub launched a final charge against the undead ranks, but the dozens of bites and scratches the creatures had inflicted on his flanks finally sapped his strength, forcing him back into his elven form. Scrambling back up the stairs, he called on the forces of nature, drawing out every shred of power from the desolate battlefield to cause vines to burst forth and ensnare the harrying zombies. Salvine, sensing an opportunity, cut a rift into the very fabric of reality and unleashed the blinding fury of Martok on the undead. The knight slammed her dire maul into the floor, sending ripples of fiendish energy across the floor and into the party. The violence of the explosion knocked over a nearby brazier sending burning oil spilling across the floor. Octavia was singed by the flames and quickly dashed away from them towards the ritual circle.

As she moved across the field of battle, Alzaren enchanted the knight who was locked in mortal combat with Baeren. At his suggestion, she threw her maul at one of her allies, taking him out of the fight and sending the weapon skittering across the floor. Baeren dove for the weapon, recovering it just before the knight could reach it. He delivered a series of quick, decisive strikes against the knight who began to retreat.

Alzaren loosed another fireball on the cultist, who was now floating towards the ceiling and caused him to lose his concentration and plummet to the floor. Octavia was waiting for him and in two clean strikes finished him off.

Part Three: Cleanup Duty

The knight fled to an alcove in the basement where she had stashed several weapons with Baeren hot on her heels. The zombies were all destroyed and the remaining party could only standby and watch what could be Baeren’s final charge. His strength waned as he delivered what he thought was the killing blow. The knight dropped to her knees and roiling black flames covered her body. The fel energies that protected her from death discharged as she stood to her feet and drew a spear to finish Baeren. Octavia measured the distance and realized she wouldn’t make it in time. Thundershrub tended to his own wounds, oblivious to the final moments of Baeren Torunn. Salvine’s heroism had faded and he was fleeing the fight in fear. Alzaren, knowing he was about to watch his travelling companion die, lashed out with a cutting word that broke the knight’s will and caused the fiendish energies keeping her body moving to dissipate. The fight was over.

Part Four: Sorry We’re Late

As the party searched the chamber for treasure and a clue as to the nature of the ritual the cultists had been performing, a rumbling interrupted their endeavour. The wall at the back of the chamber exploded, sending rocks flying. A piercing light erupted from the site of the explosion, silhouetting two figures. Oakhurst, the massive Grove Guardian and Cott in his mirror polished armor stood before the party looking ready to join the fight. The pair had misjudged the time dilation between the Citadel and the material world and missed the fight.

The explosion from their entrance, however, started a chain reaction. The floor began to crumble and crack. Huge chunks of the pillars supporting the structure above began falling to the floor. The party quickly gathered what they could and ran out as the floor fell away around them. They continued running until the ground again felt solid beneath their feet.

Part Five: Mush, Little Foxling!

Salvine had a head start on the party, and was heading for where he remembered the boat to be. Baeren, ever Salvine’s keeper, urged the party to chase after their wayward companion. Thundershrub took on the form of a bear and plowed through the slush ahead of the party, who trailed behind. Oakhurst and Cott followed, looking a little more than curious about this dynamic, but saying nothing.

After hours slogging through the slush, they caught up to and calmed Salvine. Reunited, they travelled to the boat.

Part Six: Separate Ways

Cott and Oakhurst bid the party farewell when it was learned they were working towards different goals. Before departing, Oakhurst made good on Delvinos’ promise and returned the grove axe to Baeren.

The party said their farewells and launched the boat into the lake. They landed on the scorched shores of Shieldcrest’s dock district less than an hour later. They moved through the burned out city, searching for survivors until they came upon the temple of Varuna where they decided to rest for a spell.

The adventurers gathered their strength for what dangers dawn would bring.