Eberron - Dreams of Xen'drik

Pra-Xirek - Hunting Yuan-ti
Session Thirteen

Returning to the Drow encampment, the Matron called them into her chambers and ordered them to begin seeking out the Yuan-ti within the city with the goal of tracking down their leadership. After acquiring more gear, the group returned to the tunnels beneath the city and found that the Yuan-ti were now pursuing them as well. After a couple of battles in the tunnels, they managed to capture a yuan-ti and return it to the Matron. Malaxder attempted to use his magic to find out what the Matron wanted from the yuan-ti, but wasn’t able to glean anything useful before they began torturing it. They knew from their first encounter with the yuan-ti that more powerful leaders were in the upper levels of the temple they ventured into the first time. They decided to re-infiltrate that ruin and try to engage the serpent folk on the upper levels this time. They informed the Matron of their plan, and left the encampment.

Returning to the ruin, they quickly made their way to the upper levels, where they overheard a strange conversation. One voice was raspy and brusque, the other booming and deep. The raspy voice stated that it had found a Dream Stone. The booming voice demanded that the owner of the other voice continue to search for more Dream Stones, after bringing the one it had to him beneath the city. The raspy voice assented, and the communication stopped.

Sneaking into the upper level, the found a large open room with 12 pillars in it, each writhing and twisting with bizarre arcane magic. As Malaxder approached the pillars to examine them, he spotted yuan-ti guards patrolling the large room and tried to retreat. Anton, however, had no intention of being subtle and shouted a challenge to distract them from Mal’s attempt to hide, and battle began.

As the fight raged, more and more snake people came from the side rooms, and finally the owner of the raspy voice appeared, flanked by four heavy guards – a spirit naga, it’s giant serpentine form twisting around the doorway as it cast it’s defensive spells and waded into the battle. Tierel did her best to flank it and try to steal some of the magical effects it was using, as Anton and Arsen waded into combat against it’s guards. Mal, Ral and Baph stood back and hammered the creature with their spells and powers, and while it flung fireballs into their ranks and sacrificed it’s guards to save itself. The pillars seemed to act in some strange way to affect psionic abilities, repeatedly disrupting Baph’s attempts to lash out with his powers. Finally, Anton and Arsen overwhelmed the guards and Baph managed to deal the monster a powerful psychic blow, killing it and ending the threat. Searching the body of the naga, they found the Dream Stone, although it was not theirs surprisingly.

As the others checked for remaining yuan-ti and Tierel searched for treasure, Mal examined the pillars once again. After a few moments he determined that they were some form of communication device, apparently attuned to similar structures elsewhere. He did not think that they were originally part of this structure but had been added later. After a bit of fiddling, he determined that he could try and activate the pillars and speak with whoever was on the other side. After a bit of discussion, Mal decided to activate them and see who he got on the other line.

The booming voice responded almost immediately. Mal told it that he and his allies had killed the naga, and they had the Dream Stone. The voice asked what he wanted, and Mal said he wanted more knowledge, and a chance to speak face to face. The voice agreed to meet him, and reward him handsomely in exchange for the Dream Stone. He directed them to a tunnel beneath a temple to Arawai in the north of the city, decorated with bronze dragons. Arsen immediately recognized that temple as the one that the Drow had told them would contain the cure for the Blood of Vulkoor, and that they had been warned the Matron also knew what it contained. After giving the directions, the pillars magic ended and the voice vanished.

Returning to the Drow encampment with trophies of their kills to present to the Matron, they informed her that the power behind the yuan-ti was apparently hidden beneath the city, and they would need to proceed to the temple in the north. The Matron smiled and informed them that beneath that temple was a fountain which contained a terrible poison. She gave them a large gourd to fill from the fountain, and warned them against drinking from the fountain before sending them on their way.

Outside the audience chamber, confusion began to set in. The pool she described seemed to be the same pool as the one that held the curative potion they were looking for. But the Matron couldn’t have known that they knew about the potion, the building they were in was supposed to be shielded from scrying. Or was it? Was the Matron lying? Were the other Drow lying? Who could they trust?

View
Pra-Xirek - Yuan-ti Underground
Session Twelve

Leaving the giants and their temple, the group ventured across the street, looking to find who or what Arsen had seen slipping into the shadows. As they entered the structure, they found and disarmed more traps and were immediately set upon by the yuan-ti. Waves of wretchlings swarmed from the rooms on either side, and yuan-ti fighters engaged Arsen and Anton. Defeating them quickly, they found a well in one of the rooms that appeared to lead down into the deeper sections of the city, deeper even than the tunnels they were used to traveling through.

Climbing down the well and moving into the tunnels beyond, Mal noticed a strange tint to the walls and the air down here, as though they were descending into Khyber. As they moved carefully through the dank halls, they were suddenly ambushed by bizarre creatures, resembling dogs but with long necks that stretched from their backs. The bizarre abominations spat a caustic acid across the group, with Baph catching the brunt of it in the front of the line. They then moved forward to engage them with teeth and claws, and Anton and Arsen did their best to shield the others while keeping the rune-hounds at bay. After a few well placed sneak attacks, the horrid guardians fell, and the group continued into the depths of the subterranean tunnels.

Pressing forward, they passed from the area of shaped stone into a section of unworked caverns. Within, they found more wretchlings, but these were strangely augmented, and much stronger than the previous group they faced. Somehow they seemed to be swelling constantly and dangerously, as though they were on the verge of exploding. Their veins stood out from their bodies, creating strange and disturbing patterns on their flesh while they fought.

While they fought, another strange-looking yuan-ti stepped from the shadows and began manifesting psionic powers at the group. Arsen and Tierel moved to engage it, managing to dodge or shrug off it’s mental attacks while the others engaged the enhanced wretchlings. Baph, constantly frustrated by the regular yuan-ti’s resistance to his own mental powers, was surprised to find that this one did not have any resistance, and he dealt it a mighty psychic blow. When the last of it’s minions finally fell, the strange yuan-ti teleported away to safety, leaving the group to limp out with more questions than they had when they came in…

View
Pra-Xirek - Giants in the Battle-Pit
Session Eleven

As the group left the Drow Matron’s chamber, they saw a pair of familiar figures walking into the Drow encampment – the Thri-kreen Topkapi was escorting Malaxder into the city. The Drow warily allowed Topkapi to pass, and Malaxder cheerily greeted his friends. After sharing a bit of news and explaining the details of their predicament, Malaxder used his magic to set up a basic shelter for them, and they settled in to sleep. Anton, frustrated with the situation in Pra-Xirek and their enslavement prayed to Dol Dorn for guidance before sleeping.

While he slept, Anton was visited with a dream. He saw the city through a variety of time frames, seeing it during the height of the Giant culture, seeing it under attack by the Quori, and also under attack by the dragons, before finally having his vision directed to a particular temple. When he woke, he asked the group to journey with him to the temple since they had not been given any further tasks by the Matron.

Traveling through the city, following Anton’s vision, they finally came upon the dilapidated ruins of the temple, although upon closer inspection it was still occupied. The lower level of the temple was an open-air gymnasium with a sand-filled pit, and a staircase in the back led to another level above. Sleeping curled against the far wall were four giants who awoke when the group got too close. They were initially hostile, but one of them clearly was a respected leader of some kind, and the group seemed to give honor of some kind to Dol Dorn. Anton asked to be allowed to enter the upper levels, and the elder giant gestured towards the sand pit, clearly challenging him.

As they stepped into the pit, a magical effect of some kind enveloped them, and Anton began casting his strongest spells. Magically enhancing his might and even increasing his size, he stepped into melee with the giant, who smiled and began the battle. Despite the many blessings of Dol Dorn, Anton quickly found he was no match for his opponent. Watching from the side, Tierel noticed something glinting in the sand near Anton’s feet. Suspecting treachery, she shouted a warning to him and he stopped fighting and examined the object.

Looking down, he found that several large spikes of metal had been hidden in the sand. His giant opponent stopped as well, looking concerned and angry. They both stopped their battle and began to search the sand for more of the primitive traps, which Tierel determined were covered in poison. It seemed that the giant elder had stepped on one, but the damage was not enough to stop him, nor was the poison potent enough to affect him. While the others searched the pit, Arsen watched the area around them and the street below, and saw Yuan-ti shadows slipping into the building across the street.

After each side determined that the other was not responsible for the poisoned spikes in the pit, Anton asked to be allowed to visit the upper levels of the temple. The giant elder agreed, but told him he had only earned a few moments time since he had not won the battle. Going upstairs, Anton found another large open area surrounded by statues depicting giants in various forms of combat. Each statue wielded a weapon of some kind in a heroic pose, but the statue at the head of the temple had no weapon in it’s hand. It seemed to have a space for a longsword, the favored weapon of Dol Dorn, but there was nothing there.

Contemplating this mystery, Anton went back downstairs and spoke to the giant elder, who gave him a knowing look and told him he would have to find that weapon for himself. Understanding the meaning of this mystery, Anton vowed to search for the sword of Dol Dorn both within and without, and the group left the giants in peace. Arsen, however, suggested they take a trip across the street and investigate the nest of yuan-ti that may have been responsible for the treachery in the pit…

View
Pra'Xirek - Yuan-ti Hideout
Session Ten

After doing some shopping with the Drow merchants and getting some new equipment, the group reassembled in the Drow Matron’s audience chamber. Coming into the room, Ral was shocked and sickened at the sight of another drow, suspended upside down and literally nailed to the wall behind the Matron’s throne. As they entered, they all observed that this person had been recently tortured and still bore the marks of what was done to her. The Matron reached up and grabbed a long pipe shaped like a scorpions tail, with a stinger on the end that dripped acid. She positioned it directly over her captive’s chin, the acid dripping slowly onto her chin causing a sizzling sound as it slowly dissolved it’s way through her mouth, no doubt headed for her brain and a terrible death. The Matron turned and smiled at the looks of horror from the gathered group, and seated herself with some satisfaction and demanded to know what boon they would ask of her.

After some deliberation, the group had previously decided that they would ask the Matron to return the Dream Stone to them. Tierel was curious about her mother, and Anton and Baph both thought they should ask to have the Blood of Vulkoor removed from their veins, although they felt that was unlikely to be granted. Tierel stepped forth and explained their request, but the look on the Matron’s face caused her to sputter while she spoke, gradually changing the tone of what she asked. The Matron coldly explained that she had told them all their property was returned to them, and while she would spend their lives to achieve her goals, she cared less than nothing about the things they owned. However, she said with narrowed eyes, if she came across the bit of rubble they so carelessly lost, she would be sure to return it to them. Despite their great dislike for the Matron, both Arsen and Baph were certain she was telling the truth. But if that was the case, where was the Dream Stone?

Turning to business, the Matron explained that betrayal was a part of Drow life, but those that betrayed their betters deserved the fates they got, and no Drow could afford to let betrayers live. Four individuals had recently turned on her, but three of them had escaped into the city. However, she said gesturing to the captive pinned to the wall, she knew where the remaining three were hiding – a ruined building within the city which was unfortunately shielded against her scrying. She commanded the group to make their way to the ruin and bring back the remaining conspirators, or their heads.

The group left immediately, their conversation along the way mostly centering around where the Dream Stone could be, and who might have it. Baph and Anton declared that no matter who had the stone, they still wanted to kill the Matron. Arsen and Tierel suspected that the Drow who had escaped might have been the ones who stole the stone, as it might have given them hope that they might be strong enough to stand against the Matron. Ral pointed out that although the Matron claimed she could not scry the place they were going, it might be a clever ruse on her part to see how they will act when they think she cannot see them. Their fear and paranoia mounting, they made their way to the building described by the Matron.

Moving inside, Arsen immediately found a magical trap on the doorway. Disarming it, they moved into the large building and began exploring. As they moved past the darkened doorway, they spotted a trio of yuan-ti hiding in a corner, and a moment later a horde of twisted snake-like creatures spewed out of one of the doorways and attacked. While Anton and Storm moved in to fight the wretchlings, Tierel and Arsen moved to engage the yuan-ti themselves, who transformed into small snakes and slipped into the cracks in the walls to escape. As Anton moved into the main area to engage the wretchlings, he triggered a trap set in the stone pillar which knocked him down, but fortunately Arsen was able to move in to protect him while he regained his feet. The wretchlings were easily defeated, but the sinisterly clever yuan-ti continued to harry the group as they attempted to explore the main level of the building. The group eventually figured out that they could move through the cracks in the ruins easily and appear almost anywhere, transforming from snake form back to humanoid, attacking, and then slipping into the cracks again.

Finally, while the group had settled into a defensive position in a doorway, Baph heard the yuan-ti slither into the room behind them, near where Tierel had already opened the door. Smiling devilishly, he snuck up to the doorway next to Tierel, grabbed one of the jewels from his necklace of fireballs and hurled it into the room. The resulting explosion slammed back out the door, catching Tierel and Baph in the blast radius but killing two of the yuan-ti and seriously wounding the third. Satisfied they had dealt with their attackers, the group made their way to the stairs, discovering and disarming several more traps on the staircase. While they worked to disarm them, the surviving yuan-ti fighter attacked from behind but was blasted full force by Baph and finally defeated.

Making their way carefully up the stairs, disarming or springing more traps as they went, they found a room with three Drow in it, clearly the three they were looking for. Questioning them, they found that the Drow came here hoping to strike a bargain with the yuan-ti in exchange for freedom, but were imprisoned instead, eventually to be turned into one of the wretchlings that attacked them in the entryway. They offered another bargain to the group: they knew of a way that they might be free of the Blood of Vulkoor that allowed the Matron to keep her hold over them, but in exchange, they wanted the group to take some of the wretchling corpses back to the Matron and tell her they were dead, allowing them to escape the city alive. After careful consideration, the group agreed. The drow also warned them against climbing further into the building, as the more powerful yuan-ti were above and would surely slay them.

Proceeding downstairs, the group looted what they could from the lower rooms and the bodies of the yuan-ti while the drow gathered those bodies that seemed most likely to fool the Matron. Gathering the bodies up, the group got the location of a temple in the far north of the city, which was not only occupied by giants, but whose location and powers were well known to the Matron. If they wanted to enter the temple and find the healing magic within, they would need to find a way to do it outside of her sight.

Taking the bodies back to the Matron, she seemed satisfied with their discovery and dismissed them again with an odd look, making them wonder if she really had seen all that had transpired…

View
Pra'Xirek - The Temple of the Shadow
Session Nine

Making their way across the city, using the underground tunnels to travel out of sight of the giants, the group made their way towards the temple indicated by the Drow Matron, hoping to gather the treasure she wanted before their time limit expired. Stopping along the way, they peeked up onto the surface and found themselves below the floating palace they had seen earlier. On the ground beneath it, a large plaza was cleared by the giants, and Tierel snuck up above ground to see what she could discover.

While she was snooping around, several groups of giants began to make their way into the plaza from all sides. As far as she was from the tunnel entrance, she was effectively trapped and decided to hide from the giants and wait for them to leave. She observed several distinctly different groups of giants converging on the area, each of them bearing different marks and emblems, evidently indicating different tribes within the city. As they gathered in the plaza, each made a show of trying to intimidate the others, and there were even some mock battles. The smaller members of the tribes came in last, bearing large piles of apparent offerings and treasures gathered around the city.

When all were gathered, a booming voice rang down from the floating palace, and a blue-skinned giant descended from on high, firing lightning bolts into the crowd below, sending the more primitive giants scurrying for cover. This giant was richly dressed and adorned with jewels and finery, but Tierel noticed that the lightning bolts he was firing into the crowds were actually from a pair of wands he wielded and cleverly secured on his person before landing. Upon landing, the various tribes brought forth their offerings to him, and he either berated or praised them for the value of their offerings, giving the most praise to a group who brought him a heaping mound of Syberis dragonshards. Gathering up the offerings, he turned to the crowd and commanded that they bring him more gifts, or he would once again bring down the wrath of the ancients and another cataclysm would devastate Xen’drik. He then ascended to the palace, and the remaining giants went their separate ways, allow Tierel to slip back into the underground tunnels unnoticed.

With a better idea of what the giants in the city were up to and how they were organized, the group proceeded to the temple the Matron wanted them to raid. After some exploration, they finally caught sight of it and made their way carefully inside. Within, they found some small rooms that had apparently been recently occupied and a large steel door opposite. While Arsen busied himself picking the lock on the large door, the others investigated the smaller rooms, finding that they had been used as a resting place by some Drow at some point, although what happened to the Drow was not clear. When Arsen managed to get the door open, a giant construct on the other side immediately attacked them, but they defeated it with minimal difficulty and moved up the stairs on the other side.

On the next level they found a large worship area, surrounded by giant-sized seating tiers. In the middle was a low alter, and moving into the room they found the worship chamber was guarded by a trio of undead – two zombies and a mummy moved forward to attack. Tierel was frozen in place with fear, but Anton stepped bravely forward and invoked the power of Dol Dorn to repel the undead. The mummy, battered but not beaten by Anton’s holy power, stepped forward and dealt him a mighty blow, infecting him with mummy rot. Anton and the others continued to fight bravely, and eventually the undead were destroyed. Anton however, succumbed to the horrid disease and found his strength and vitality slowly sapped. The party reinforced him as best they could, and they made their way to the next level.

On the next floor, they found a series of cages made of wood, obviously added to the existing giant architecture. Within the cages were the remains of several Drow who had perished here, and their ghosts set upon the group when they ventured further into the room. Baph turned his power on one of them, disintegrating it’s corporeal form, and Anton used the last of his turning power to repel the others.

Heading up another level, they came to a floor that appeared to be open to the rest of the city, and they had an uninterrupted view of Pra’Xirek from their vantage point. Roaming around the level were a trio of the same constructs that had guarded the door on the first floor, and a small room in the center. While the others kept the constructs busy, Tierel snuck past them and investigated the small room, finding a trio of corpses dressed in religious finery. When one of the constructs walked past her, looking at her but not attacking her, she had an idea. Putting on the robes of the dead priests, she walked up to the constructs and commanded them in giantish to stop. They immediately stopped attacking the party, and Baph and Arsen grabbed a robe for themselves, taking the constructs with them as newfound allies, Baph actually riding the back of one of them until he was thrown off accidentally.

Climbing the stairs with their new allies, they came to what had been an open room but was now divided by wooden frames hung with mismatched curtains and large bits of cloth, making several semi-private rooms. Investigating separately, the group came under attack by magically charged undead who fired bolts of powerful energy at them and summoned undead allies to aid in the battle. With the help of their commanded constructs, the group fought them back and brought their tortured existences to an end, but found afterward they were quickly nearing the end of their resources.

Climbing to the top level, they found a large chamber with a smaller one beyond, and in that small chamber a crystal chest sat, quite possibly with the treasure they sought. Making their way into the larger room, they activated a massive trap, causing the doors to slam shut and dozens and dozens of baldes to swing down randomly from the ceiling, slashing at all of them and quickly shredding their construct allies. While Ral and Arsen hid underneath the remains of the constructs, Anton slashed at the blades with his sword, breaking a few of them off, and Baph cowered on the floor, manifesting his psychic shield. Tierel and Arsen moved to disable the device as quickly as possible, dashing from one side of the room to the next, trying to break the chains and moving gears powering the slashing blades. Finally, Tierel finished off hers with the aid of some of Baph’s power and Arsen his with his skill and knowledge of devious devices. Stepping into the final room with the chest, Tierel spotted the three crystals in the corners that were the final trap, and she and Arsen quickly disarmed them, taking only a few hits from the magic bolts they fired.

Finally having cleared all the hurdles of the temple, the group examined the crystal chest and found the dagger they sought, as well as a variety of other treasures. Anton examined the dagger carefully before touching it, and declared it to be a thing of palpable evil. Unsure at first who should handle such a powerful artifact, Tierel finally just picked it up and put it in her bandolier, declaring the rest of the group to be a bunch of pansies.

Finally having what they came for, they returned to the Drow Matron well within the time frame she had set out for them. Returning the dagger to her, she was quite pleased with their results and declared that they were permitted to trade with her people, and in addition she would grant them a boon if they asked it. Unsure what to ask, Tierel said she would think on it, and the Matron dismissed them for the day.

View
Pra'Xirek - Entering the City
Session Eight

Making their way through the steaming jungle for several more days, the group continued searching for any sign of the lost giant city. Stopping to get their bearings, Anton slipped in the muck and slid down a hidden slope, followed by Arsen who tried to save him and Baph who was caught in the tangle of feet as they went down. Tierel and Ral slid gracefully down the slimy embankment behind them, and helped everyone to their feet again. Looking up to get her bearings, Tierel almost gasped as she finally beheld the lost city of Pra’Xirek, revealed in the caldera before them.

Discovering they had fallen onto an ancient aqueduct, they began following the above-ground trail towards the city as the sun set in the distance. Approaching closer, they were suddenly ambushed by Drow from all sides, and Arsen and Anton went down almost immediately, overcome by the poisoned weapons the dark elves threw. With the two front-line fighters dropped, the rest of the party was quickly subdued, and unconsciousness took them.

They then did something they did not expect to do – they woke up. They were in an underground cavern, tied hand and foot on the ground, and surrounded by a dozen Drow. In the middle of the room was a female Drow, obviously the leader, reclining on a large palanquin borne on the backs of a half-dozen male slaves. As the leader stepped off her transport, she examined the group as though she were examining cattle, and then waved her hand casually. Waves of agony overcame the group and they writhed on the ground in terrible burning pain. Finally, the Drow Matron relented and the pain vanished.

Satisfied that she had their attention, she addressed Tierel, informing her that she and her male slaves were now her slaves, and they would do her bidding or suffer endless agony, thanks to the Blood of Vulkoor that now flowed in their veins. Tierel quickly agreed, and Matron Ghyrra informed them that they were to enter the city and find a way to undermine the giants who occupied the city under the mistaken impression that they owned it, and not the Drow who obviously had more right to it than they. The Matron informed them that their possessions would be returned to them, and they would leave immediately.

At the gates of the Drow encampment, the group examined their gear and found it all present, with one exception – the Dream Stone was missing. Asking the guards about it got only a blank stare and an uttered threat. Clearly it was not going to be returned. Before leaving the Matron informed them that there was a series of tunnels beneath the city that was the safest way to travel. The ancient giants forbade their slaves from walking freely in the streets unescorted, but to save them from having to follow their slaves everywhere, the giants created underground passages that allowed them to move around the city and do their master’s bidding. In the centuries since the city’s collapse, the Drow had created and marked several hidden entrances into and out of the tunnels, and the group quickly learned to identify the markings.

Moving through the underground tunnels, they were ambushed by lurking monsters, swimming in a knee-deep trash pile. A quick battle later and they were none the worse for wear, although they moved through the tunnels much more cautiously now. As they passed into the city, they stuck their heads up every now and then, trying to get a feel for where they were in the gigantic ruin. The city’s architecture towered over them everywhere they looked, even the shattered ruins of long abandoned buildings seeming powerful and impressive. Towards the middle of the city, they saw a floating castle or keep, hanging hundreds of feet in the air apparently still suspended by the magic of the ancient empire thousands of years earlier.

On one occasion, Tierel spotted a giant encampment near their sewer exit, but with no giants present in it. As she approached, she spotted some snake-like humanoids also searching the giant camp – yuan-ti. Coming up carefully, she gave a quick search to the camp and found little of value, even to giants. In the middle of the clearing, there was a large stone with a blue lightning bolt emblazoned on it, apparently a focus of worship for the primitive giants. As she returned to the underground entrance, a lone giant spotted her and Arsen lept from the underground to distract it, nimbly dodging around it’s powerful but clumsy strikes as Tierel quickly dove back into the safety of the tunnels. Although he was easily misleading the giant, Arsen sensed that it’s swings were coming closer, and ended the battle by jumping between it’s legs and into the sewer himself. The confused giant, losing track of his slippery prey, lumbered back towards the camp leaving them in safety.

Back underground, Ral was disturbed to hear about the presence of yuan-ti in the city, and the rest of the group discussed the possible value of recruiting the giants to help them free themselves from the Drow Matron, when suddenly another terrible shot of agony coursed across their bodies and an illusion of the Matron appeared in the tunnels. Berating them for daring to conspire against her, she demanded that they bring her proof of their loyalty – she described a temple in the western section of the city, and a black and gold dagger that lay hidden within. She gave them twelve hours to bring the dagger to her, or face even worse punishment. With another jolt of pain, the illusions vanished, and Arsen started planning their route towards the dark temple.

View
The Road to Pra'Xirek - The Darkness Below
Session Seven

Proceeding deeper into the jungle, the group marched on for several more days, the foliage growing thicker and harder to move through. Chopping their way through the jungle, they came across what appeared to be an ambush site, although the ambush had long since been sprung. Searching the site carefully, they discovered the remains of a shattered cart, torn apart by some malevolent force, and Tierel found a humanoid hand, apparently torn from the owners limb. No other trace of the owners could be found, so the group pressed on through the jungle, more wary now of any hidden presences in the forest.

Hacking his way through the plant life, Baph suddenly found himself face to face with a horrid abomination, some kind of eyeless humanoid creature covered in tentacles and cilia. The dolgaunt attacked immediately, aided by a small contingent of dolgrims, but they were put down easily enough. Storm detected more of their foul taint, and led the group through the forest and finally to the shattered and corrupted ruins of the Temple of Clean Earth.

Descending stealthily into the remains of the temple, they found it was being slowly converted into a temple of the Dragon Below, worshipers of the foul abominations imprisoned beneath the earth millennia ago. Moving slowly and carefully deeper inside, they encountered the temple’s guardian: a bizarre jelly-like mass of flesh, covered in eyes and mouths which constantly shifted and moving throughout the mass, and babbling insanely to itself. The gibbering mouther attacked immediately, it’s horrid speech nearly driving everyone mad. Arsen was confused by effect, but kept his wits enough to engage the monster in combat. Tierel fared less well against it, catching a face full of acidic spittle that blinded her for a moment before she was able to shake it off. As the fight continued, Arsen was completely engulfed for a moment by the mouther, and the other worshipers of the temple quickly joined the fray including the high priest himself. Arsen cut himself free of the gibbering mouther, and immediately engaged the priest who summoned a terrifying variety of psuedonatural monstrosities to aid him including a gigantic, fleshy spider who blocked the exit, trapping them below.

As Anton and Baph moved forward, Ral found himself suddenly overwhelmed by dolgrims, and was almost immediately beaten down. Bleeding to death from his wounds, none of his companions were able to get to him, being themselves surrounded by horrid creatures from beyond the natural realm. Finally, Tierel managed to maneuver away from the monsters surrounding her and snuck behind the high priest, killing him and dismissing his summoned creatures. Baph was cornered against a wall by the same dolgrims that had taken down Ral, only barely managing to use the last of his psionic power to protect himself. Storm, who had been driven away by the gibbering mouther, rushed back into the battle but was almost immediately engulfed by the flesh monster. As Baph watched, Storm seemingly vanished from inside the mouther, right as Ral’s life force seemed to be running out. Anton rushed towards Ral and arrived just in time to cast a cure spell on him. As he reached down to touch him with the spell, something horrid seemed to leap from Ral’s body, rushing out to meet Anton but then the spell went off, and it was only Ral, his fragile form suddenly restored to life. At the same moment, Storm burst from within the gibbering mouther, shredding it’s disgusting body with her sudden violent lunging exit.

Quickly making short work of the remaining dolgrims, the party set about searching the temple. Baph searched the body of the priest, finding that he was covered in various unnatural symbionts. Anton examined the walls of the temple, seeing images of the ancient giants tending the earth and the forest creatures. Most of the images were shattered or defaced, but one image appeared to depict a green dragon, although it’s significance was not immediately apparent. Arsen and Tierel found the personal quarters of the high priest, and his mad rantings regarding the revelations of the Dragon Below, and Ral and Baph located a work room with huge vats of slimy fluid, some containing bizarre creatures. Baph reached in boldly and removed one, holding it up to his face to examine it. The creature immediately moved to try and attach itself to him, which Baph initially resisted but eventually decided to allow, to the great horror of Ral. His new symbiont painfully attached, Baph seemed to lose all memory of the event, and wandered back to find the others.

Arsen and Tierel, meanwhile, had found the kitchen and were about to declare it empty when Arsen leaned against a wall and found the hidden treasure vault, almost by accident. Within they found a great deal of coin and some powerful magic items, better than anything they had managed to acquire in the rest of the ruins. While Anton examined the stacks of ancient scrolls in the high priest’s chambers, the rest of the group divvied up the booty. At last, Anton determined that he had determined the location of Pra’Xirek, and Arsen decided the best path to the lost city. After destroying all they could of the ruined, corrupted temple, they set out on the road once again, now finally confident of the location of their goal.

View
The Road to Pra'Xirek - The Eyes of the Sun
Session Six

The next morning, the group set off towards the landmark Baph had spied. As they went deeper and deeper into the jungle, the going became more and more difficult. Even at night, they were beset by plagues of insects which made sleep a miserable experience for Tierel. Arsen shared as much of his knowledge as he could with everyone and kept a weather eye on their surroundings, which turned out to be fortunate when he spotted a patch of mold near their campsite that could have corrupted their rations and water.

After several more days of travel, the group came upon a House Tharashk mining camp, deep in the jungle. Approaching cautiously, they were greeted politely by the camp administrator, a large Half-Orc named Siron d’Tharashk who bore the Mark of Finding. While he did not have much in the way of supplies to offer them, he graciously allowed them to rest for a time in the shade of the camp, and the group relaxed while he brought them tea and water.

While they sat chatting, Arsen noticed a fire start on the thatched roof of one of the nearby huts. He gave a quick warning to Siron, who marshaled his men to combat the fire while Anton and Ral helped combat it with their magic. While the others were working to battle the fire, Baph noticed something odd – a strange hum and a burst of energy accompanied the starting of another fire on another roof, leading him to suspect that these fires were not happening by accident.

When the fires were finally put out, Siron wearily informed them that this was the third mysterious fire in a week, and Baph told him he suspected it might be caused magically. It seemed to Baph that the effect was coming from the general direction they were heading in, and they told him of their goal. Siron explained that they had prospected in that direction only to encounter a fierce band of lizardfolk who attacked them in the jungle. He had then shied away from that area, lacking the resources to combat lizardfolk and prospect for Dragonshards. It seemed likely that the lizardfolk were causing the fires, and Arsen offered to investigate the situation when they journeyed that way. Siron agreed, although he confessed he had little coin with which to pay them, but he could give them 800 gp worth of Syberis Dragonshards, which the group found entirely agreeable.

Setting off into the jungle, they traveled another day without incident, but on the second day out they were ambushed by lizardfolk bearing a strange holy symbol painted onto their skin. Anton identified it as the symbol of a minor sun god, worshiped by primitive tribes. Proceeding further through the jungle, it began to rain. As they traveled, the rain got steadily worse and worse and within an hour, they were moving through the middle of a downpour, barely able to see 5 feet ahead of themselves. It was only Baph’s keen eyesight that saw the bridge spanning the abyss to their left, and the towering ziggurats beyond.

Approaching the bridge, it was clear it was in a state of terrible disrepair. Spanning the 60 foot gap, it had broken boards, frayed ropes, and was treacherously slick with the rain. Tierel braved it first, taking a rope across the way with her and securing it on the other side with Cast’s help. Arsen helped Anton out of his armor while Baph and Ral made the trip, only barely getting across without falling into the river below. Finally, Storm began to make her way across as well, but only made it a few steps before the wooden planks gave way beneath her feet and she fell. Ral immediately dove into the gorge to save her, manifesting wings with his psionic powers in an attempt to catch her. As he fell, he caught sight of her in some strange form, a form he found it difficult to think about later on when remembering the incident. As soon as she spotted him coming towards her, however, she immediately appeared to be a wolf again, thrashing violently as she fell towards the river.

Ral managed to catch her before she hit the water, saving her from taking too much damage from the fall. Making his way back up, he found that the others had successfully made their way across, and the group rigged a rope harness to pull her up to the shore. They finally drug her, wet, smelly and bedraggled onto the other side of the gorge, and she stomped off into the rain to recover her dignity. Baph wandered idly behind her, and spotted the two ziggurats again through the rain, and a small structure between them. Making their way through the pouring rain towards the smaller structure, they found a plaza full of pillars and some small but roofless buildings as well. While the others tried to use a tarp to create some kind of shelter from the rain, Tierel went off exploring the pillars and found a pair of cages containing large, scary looking lizards. When she stopped to investigate, she found herself face to face with another lizardfolk. After a tense moment’s pause, the lizardfolk freed the two monitor lizards and attacked, bringing the rest of the party to Tierel’s aid.

After the battle, the group decided that it was not safe to rest here while the rain was coming down and other lizardfolk could be lurking in the area. They approached one of the two ziggurats, and found it defended by a shaman and a guard, who were performing a ritual before a large item, consisting of polished mirrors and shiny surfaces. As they approached, the lizardfolk turned and attack, while the shaman downed a potion of invisibility and vanished. Arsen made his way up to the top, driving back the warrior while Tierel snuck around to the side, spotting the invisible shaman as he drank another potion. While Baph dealt a mental blow to the warrior, Arsen moved in on the shaman’s position, who responded by casting a minor curse on him. Undaunted, Arsen continued moving in and was hit with another curse, but managed to kill the shaman anyway despite the crushing fear upon him.

After defeating the shaman, they examined the strange artifact while Tierel looked for hidden rooms. Baph determined that this artifact was what was focusing the sun onto the Tharashk huts, although it obviously wouldn’t work in this torrential downpour. Anton found some gold plaques that were obviously of giantish origin, mentioning several other landmarks in the area, and Tierel discovered a hidden room where the shaman kept a gold icon of the primitive god they worshiped.

Moving to the other ziggurat, they found it occupied by four more lizardfolk defending a second artifact, whom they dispatched after a heated battle. Searching some more, they found more giantish plaques detailing more landmarks in the area. Bpah wanted to smash the two artifacts and drag them back to Stormreach, but Anton insisted that they be kept intact, or they would lose their power. Finally, the group decided to offer the location of the items to House Tharashk, thinking that the ziggurats would be a much strong position to build base on than their current place.

Returning to the Tharashk camp, Siron paid them the agreed upon Dragonshards for their efforts, and they gave him their proposal regarding the ruins. He agreed to this as well, and the group led him and several prospectors to the ziggurats. Upon thier safe arrival, Siron gave them a voucher for 2000 gp worth of services from House Tharashk.

Examining the giantish plaques, Anton and Arsen determined that their next stop should be a place called the Temple of Clean Earth, far to the East. Shouldering their packs, they headed east towards their next landmark.

View
The Road to Pra'Xirek - The Collosus in the Jungle
Session Five

After equipping and re-arming themselves the best they could, the group prepared to set out into the jungle. As they were saying their goodbyes in front of the house, a strange, bedraggled figure approached the group, asking if they were heading into the jungle. Arsen gave a cautious yes, and asked the stranger what business he had. The man introduced himself as Baph Olias Mette, and said he had dreamt of them and their journey, and he knew the way. Anton was suspicious, and asked Erel what he knew about this strange person, but Erel confessed he had never seen or heard of him and he was not associated with any group he knew of. Satisfied, the group accepted his request to join them, and they set off into the jungle together.

As they traveled, they found that Baph had some very odd habits. He would occasionally speak to himself, or say utterly non-sensical things to them, or speak in a gradually louder voice. Anton thought he might be mentally unstable, but he was polite enough, if odd, and didn’t seem a threat. After a few days of traveling through the jungle, Arsen was growing more and more frustrated with the effects of the Traveler’s Curse, and his navigation skills were being sorely tested. Stopping to discuss the matter, he and Baph had two different ideas of which way to go next – Arsen led by his map, and Baph by the dream he had had of the ruins. Tierel climbed a tree to try and get their bearings, but discovered that the group had stumbled onto the territory of a family of apes when two of the males attacked them. Baph joined the fray alongside them and manifested powerful psionic abilities, giving Ral a clue as to his nature and degree of power. After the fight, Baph seemed to have no memory of what had happened, but continued to insist that they follow him through the jungle. Arsen finally relented and followed Baph through the jungle as well, and eventually determined that he had been right, they were simply taking a different route through the jungle.

Traveling for a few more days, they finally stumbled across a towering ruin in the jungle, a tremendous statue of a giant king, now crumbled and covered in moss. Its arm was broken off, and the head of the statue lay in rest at the base of the temple, covered in vines and moss. The colossus stood astride a small temple which was set on a hill, giving it commanding view of the countryside. Looking around the base of the statue, Anton found a gigantic broken stone sword, obviously once wielded by the statue but now laying shattered at its base. On the bottom side of the huge blade he discovered some giantish runes, but lacked the skill to translate them. While Arsen and Baph cleared the moss off the king’s head, Tierel climbed into the base of the temple, and discovered that it led to a small chamber beneath the hill.

Being the more nimble of the group, Tierel and Ral went into the depths of the chamber while Anton, Arsen and Baph secured ropes over the ledge that would allow them to climb in and out more easily. As Tierel and Ral moved into the ruin, they discovered a pair of giant stone statues flanking the entrance. Tierel was wary of them, but Ral boldly approached and commented on how they seemed very intact, despite the state of the rest of the ruin. As he turned to speak to Tierel, the statues moved and attacked them, and the two retreated back to the entrance as Arsen boldly dashed forward to engage the stone guardians.

Try as he might, Arsen found that he was barely able to scratch the tough stone the guardians were made of. As Anton and Arsen did their best to engage the statues with Ral’s aid, Baph and Tierel spotted something at the far end of the hallway that might disengage the guards – magical runes lined the bottom of a bas-relief on the wall, and Tierel thought they might be used to control the statues somehow.

Slowly and carefully, they slipped past the two stone giants, while Arsen and Anton kept them busy in combat and Ral kept them distracted with astral constructs. Finally they reached the end of the hall, but they determined they did not have the skill to unravel the magical effects powering the guards. Finally, Arsen broke artfully away from the combat, dodging over the giant stone blades as they swung, and landed in perfect position to disable the trap. Despite this impressive display, however, his first attempt resulted only in a magical shock to his fingers. After a moment, Tierel realized what he had done wrong, and with Baph’s help they triggered the magical control and the stone guards returned to their posts.

After taking a moment to compose themselves, they moved on to explore the other rooms of the temple. Much of the structure had collapsed over the millennia, but they came across a room showing the colossus striding across the jungle, its eyes and sword glowing with blue flame, and images of a king sitting in a throne, his eyes also glowing with blue flame. There were also images of elf slaves constructing the giant statue, and giant worshipers bowing before the mighty king on his throne. Tierel discovered that some of the sections of the wall actually had magical formulas detailing how the colossus was animated and made to move, but there was not enough information to replicate the effect.

Moving on, they finally came to a large ornate throne room, the walls and ceiling crusted in gold leaf and jewels. In the back, on a small riser was an equally ornate throne, sized for a giant. While Tierel busied herself prying gems from the walls, Anton cast detect magic and determined that the throne was indeed magical, and might possibly be trapped. After some examination, it was determined that the throne was trapped, and while it was possible to disable the magical trap, it would also disable the other magical effects attached to it.

While the group sat down to ponder what to do about this, Baph stood staring eagerly at the throne. Finally, unable to resist the temptation, he climbed up and sat in the throne, shrugging off the magical effect of the trap. He found he was suddenly able to see as though through the statues eyes, his viewpoint towering hundreds of feet above the jungle floor. Right as the sun was setting, he looked around and spotted a reflection from far to the southwest, the fading sunlight glinting off something that looked like a pair of eyes. The mystery of the dream poem solved, they group prepared to camp for the night and set off towards the next landmark the next morning.

View
Stormreach - Setting Up Shop
Session Four

Returning to Stormreach, the party spoke with Jirian Zayne of the Silver Flame again. He was extremely pleased that the missionaries had been rescued, but disappointed at the death of their infected ally. He explained that while lycanthropy was a terrible curse, it could be cured by natural means given time. He also explained that the missionaries rescued were from a more militant and intolerant sect of the Silver Flame, and their beliefs regarding their companion would take time to adjust. Still, he was grateful for their rescue and though he had little wealth to offer, he promised to aid the party in the future with clerical services or magic.

Going through the items found in the grimlock’s camp, Arsen found an odd note along with a map detailing directions to an ancient ruin in the jungle. The note mentioned that the ruins were a waymarker to the lost giant city of Pra’Xirek, which was rumored to be overflowing with treasure. The company that originally set out into the jungle to find it had obviously been waylaid, but there was enough information that Arsen felt he could easily find the way to the first marker, and they could decide where to go from there. While they sat discussing the map, a thri-kreen named Topkapi approached them and said that he liked them, and would help them when the time came. He then walked away without another word, despite Mal’s failed attempt to cast a spell on him.

After that strange encounter, the group decided to consult with Gaulronak as well, and see what information the wizened druid could give them about the city. Gaulronak warned them that an ancient evil still dwelt within the city, and that the journey there was very dangerous. He told Ral that he should journey there, and see it for himself. Satisfied that Gaulronak would not be offended by them journeying there, they decided to try their hand at finding the waypoint.

Along the way, Mal suggested that they needed to acquire a more permanent residence in Stormreach, rather than constantly spending their gold on inn rooms. Not sure who else to speak to, they decided to ask Erel if he knew of a place they could settle into without tremendous expense. After some wheedling, Erel finally mentioned that he knew of a place that was soon to be “unoccupied” that they could freely move into without trouble. It was not in the best neighborhood, but it was centrally located and most importantly, free, as long as they moved quickly. Erel said he had considered trying to occupy it himself, but didn’t think he could hold it alone. He also told Mal he had a business plan that would help them establish themselves in the new place, but he needed help – specifically, wizardly help. Mal agreed to stay and help Erel hold down the fort for a few months, until they could firmly establish their hold on the location. With the group’s help, he felt he could do it easily. They agreed, and arranged to meet Erel the next day at noon to move in.

While returning to the Tipped Tankard to set about making plans for their jungle trip, they encountered an odd blocking of traffic in the street. Pushing through the crowds, they caught a glimpse of the members of the Savage Company parading through the streets, Jackson Savage himself walking at the head of the group. Arsen was not at all impressed with Jackson, although Mal seemed intrigued by the group. As they walked by, Tierel noticed that the wizard in their party was examining a strange artifact. Moving closer to get a good look, she determined that they had a Dream Stone, similar to the one possessed by the group. Arsen and Mal advised Ral against telling them that they too possessed a Dream Stone, fearing that the stronger and more experienced adventuring group would simply attack them and take it.

Along the way, they realized that Garignak seemed to have wandered off. Stopping and thinking about it, they realized that they could not clearly recall the last time they saw her. They knew she was with them in the jungle, but she was not there when they spoke to Jirian Zayne nor when they spoke with Gaulronak. Her belongings were still in the room in the inn, although some seemed to be missing. While sitting in the tavern room at the Tankard, the group realized that the pattern of traffic in the inn and the tavern was odd. People were coming and going, but there was a strange pattern to it. Consulting with the innkeeper, he initially refused to clarify anything for them, but finally Mal cast a charm on him and he told them that the inn and tavern itself was a waypoint for worshipers of the Traveler, one of the Dark Six. Anton was initially on the defensive about being surrounded by the Traveler’s worshipers, but the innkeeper assured them that nothing evil was afoot, they were merely agents of change and transition, and that the inn itself was a place where people often started a new direction in their lives, some new path. The group retired to bed in their last night at the Tankard, and the next morning Garignak’s belongings were completely gone, despite Anton barring the door before they slept.

That night, each of them had odd dreams, within which was a strange phrase that seemed out of place. Upon waking, they shared their dreams at Ral’s insistence, who was fascinated by them. Mal shared his reluctantly, as apparently he has dreamed of the Mournland and was profoundly disturbed by it. As they talked, they realized that the phrases could be matched together to make a poem, a clue of some type that might lead them to the ruin. Mal also found that the Dream Stone was warm, although it cooled as the morning progressed.

Later that day, they met Erel in the market as agreed and he took them to the section of town where their house was to be. Approaching the residence, a group of heavily armed and armored bugbears suddenly emerged from within the house, wiping their blades free of blood and joking grimly amongst themselves. Erel quickly took the group aside and waited for them to pass, smiling weakly at the shocked looks on their faces. Assuring them that nothing would befall them for moving into the space, he stepped inside.

The interior was clearly the scene of a grisly murder, with blood splattered everywhere. The bodies were mysteriously gone, however, and no sign of the previous inhabitants remained. As Erel and Mal set about cleaning the place with their prestidigitation spells, Erel repeatedly assured them that the building was fine, and no one would connect them with the previous inhabitants. Examining the upper level of the two-story home, Mal found that it was thankfully free of blood and gore, and appeared big enough to comfortably house everyone. As he and Erel set up shop, the rest of the group went shopping with Arsen to gather what gear they would need to venture into the jungle.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.