Return of Hadrach


The chronicle of a group of adventurers, thrown together by fate, seeking their fame, fortune and destiny in the world of Yerth.

Griangi, the stout gnome barbarian Akiara, the young and nimble elf warrior
Dinara, the ranger from the Frozen North Midori, the young rogue with with mystical abilities
Mason, the powerful half-orc paladin Iktar, the strange summoner from far away

Belnesse Management Document
Adversaries and Foes
Allies and Collaborators

Their story begins in the year 895 of the New World, in a small village named El-Baloth, somewhere between Salma and Shantra in the northern Draiman Combine…

Part One – The Cow in the Field
The locals of El-Baloth are afraid of what lurks in the fields at night

Part Two – The Bodies in the Ashes
The troubles of El-Baloth grow, and a threat is revealed.

Part Three – The Corpse in the Chamber
The adventurers travel to Warren’s Mill to stop an insurrection.
Interrogation and Exploration – In which Bastion and Galenos are interrogated, and ruins explored

Part Four – The Hunters on the Road
The adventurers decide to journey to Draima and find trouble on the way.
Leaving Warren’s Mill – In which the adventurers turn an eye towards Draima
A Pact With the Damned – In which they meet Travant DeGarde and Delini VonRamsey, and set out from Terni
Westfel-Fallen – In which they discover the fate of Westfel, and the trouble at Fraviano
A Day Among the Doomed – In which they meet Justicar Hefurn and a character dies.
Death in the Streets – In which the party sets an ambush to gain favor.
Insurrection – In which the party leads a rebellion.
Saving Lives – In which the party witnesses the power of Draima and they glimpse the politics behind the curtain.
Courtesan, Bear, Hag, and Juggler – In which the party has fortunes told, and arrive in Draima.
Dreams and Death – In which the party suffers another dream of Hadrach and searches for the wanted man.
Questions and Answers – In which the party spends several days searching for a devil and witness a tragedy
Under the City – In which the party searches for a devil underneath Draima
Leaving and Letting Go – In which the party departs Draima in hopes of better shores

Part Five – The Man in the Tower
Chasing the the Artifacts, the party finds trouble abroad
New Beginnings are More of the Same – In which the party finds more trouble in Tesra
Empty Buildings Full of Suspicion – In which the party searches empty rooms, full of clues
Wolves and Admirals – in which the party goes on a hunt, and speaks with an admiral
Ghostly Interlude – In which the party finds themselves in a strangely cursed, mist-shrouded realm.
Little Girls and Abbatoirs In which the party arrives in Chytri to discover trolls and a little girl in need of saving.
Like a Whisper – In which a lost friend saves a party member and they kill a Butcher.
Blasphemy from the Mouths of the Righteous – In which the party risks angering the gods, for the people.
Facing the Darkness – In which the party plans and assaults a fortress.
Blood and Fire – In which the party finally captures the fortress.
Cats and Kings – In which a cat returns, one lord arrives, and another demands fealty.
Betrayals and Bastards – In which the party is betrayed, and an old friend returns.
Showdown at the House of Dead Leaves – In which the party finally faces a dark presence.

Part Six – The God Under the Snow
In the Far North, the party finds horror, cold and death.
In the Cold Cold Night – In which the party arrives in a land of snow and danger.
The Assassination of Rothgar Bearon by the coward Shakaari Voco – In which murder and treachery is afoot.
Wolf Like Me – In which the party leaves Kalach an saves a desperate and lost Summoner
Tales and talk – In which the party spends three days hiding from a blizzard and tells stories
The Slaves and the Dragon – In which the party encounters Nazal the Spiteful twice and faces Death both times.
Tears and Fates – In which the party meets a Norn, kills a Dragon, and begins a Legend.
Preparations and Cultists – In which the party spends a month in preparation.
The Fortress and the King – In which the party explores the city of Vershina and thwarts a plot.

Part Seven – The Devils in the City
Returning from the Frozen North, the party must fight to regain lost ground.
The Shade of the Leper – In which the party returns to Tesra and learns of the suffering of those left behind.
The Devils in the Details – In which the party sends Midori, alone, behind enemy lines.
The Devils and the Wall – In which the rest of the party battles Xiwrath the Caustic for control of the Bastion Wall.
Bookworms and Books – In which the party returns to the Holy Library of Tesra and it ends in disaster.
Admirals and Sailing Ships – In which hopes are lost, devils are entreated and wishes are made.

Quagmires and Questions

After the party made their way through the depths of the Blood Sepulchre, they stared at the spiritual remnants of their former compatriots. Cortez, the “dead” (from Purgatory), Conrad, sporting a halo of the “elect” (from Heaven), and Thrandir, Jinora, and Marigold, all as “chosen” (from Elysium). Behind them the massive wyrm waited for the party to follow through on their agreement to help it escape.

After gathering up the strange “treasures” in the other room, and after much convincing, the party shrunk the wyrm and teleported it to the exterior of the Blood Sepulchre. The party then put all the petitioners and a number of their own members into bags of holding and teleported to the boathouse where Veronica waited with the survivors of Juniper’s chain gang. Szessmia arrived early, and after realizing the party had grown too large for her to transport aboard her boat, a great deal more discussion was had. Bargaining was done, and when all complete, Szessmia chose to cut her trip in Hell short. She used a small circular iron pendant not unlike Griangi’s own, and opened a gate which everyone passed through to another plane; infact, directly to Szessmia’s home in Utopia, the plane of order.

Szessmia and her square-bearded dwarf butler offered the group shelter and food so they could recover; baths were had and time was spent talking with the petitioners and the other rescuees. Dinner was served and a friend of Szessmia met the party a dark blue-skinned elf called ___. He claimed to be a creature of distant legend, a species of elves called “Drow” (Elf legend tells that they were wiped out after entrapping and killing the Immortal Elf Lord Shessorae, in a failed bid to end the Elfwar; Dwarves have their own, separate legends). Quite a bit was learned in Utopia, including legends of a Dracolich buried underneath Belnesse, that Szessmia is a collector of knowledge as well as rare treasures, and is rather ridiculously wealthy.

The party was given the chance to explore this district of Utopia, and encountered innumerable races from across the planes shopping here for magics of all sorts. The party took the opportunity to do shopping of their own, and while the party was out Mason discussed serious matters with the petitioner that was Thrandir… resulting in the destruction of the petitioner and the resurrection of Thrandir.

Thrandir took the remaining petitioners to the Boneyard, a neutral plane where the souls of the dead are sorted for their ultimate reward. From there, the party plane shifted back to the Prime Material Plane, on Yerth, landing on a small island some 300 miles from the Tesran capital city, Chytri. On this small island, the party found a suspicious fishing village which turned out to be a cove of smugglers posing as fishermen… The party shrugged their shoulders and teleported to Chytri, where everything still seems to be in order.

Marshes and Monsters

The party continued their slog through the marsh, unwilling to rest after merely 9 hours of marching. As they continued, they encountered what appeared to be a ferryman, and upon its approach, they realized it was not a skeletal ferryman, but a Vishkanya (a species of intelligent lizards) name Szessmia. She turned out to be an adventurer-merchant, currently scouring Hell for interesting artifacts to sell elsewhere.
The party attempted to purchase passage on her barge, but she would not take cash payment, and the party didn’t have any artifacts they could part with that she was interested in. However, Szessmia did strike three bargains with the party:
1. She will not reveal their presence to any infernals, in trade, the party would likewise not reveal her presence to them.
2. For the promise of an afternoon of coffee and cakes in the presence of her Highness Akiara Katsura, Princess of the Stars, she would meet the party at the the Lonely Cathedral (Blood Sepulchre) in two days time. At that point, they may attempt to negotiate passage on her barge again.
3. The party was able to purchase directions to the Lonely Cathedral from her for the price of 5 lbs of Voruubian coffee, a bottle of vodka, and 5 ancient gold coins from under Hettach.

After meeting Szessmia, the party continued more or less west, past the Fields of Wrath, where they were set upon by a couple of the Damned, convinced the party was merely some Lemures. They didn’t see through the illusion before the party’s retribution killed them.

The party found (randomly) A rusty greataxe +1 of human bane.

Eventually after several more hours of marching, the party encountered a horrific tree with fruit the shape of devil-heads, and bodies dangling from thorny branches. The tree seemed to put out a cloud of mind-affecting spores, causing members to attempt to eat the fruit or approach trunk. For those not under its spell, they saw a vicious toothy maw open up in the tree and vines dropped down in an attempt to grab party members. Several party members were seconds away from being stuffed into the tree’s hungry mouth, when a large bloom opened up from the top of the tree and was subsquently destroyed by Dinara’s sharpshooting. This caused the tree to drop the entrapped party members and withdraw into a barnacle-like formation on the ground. Kia then was able to get it to open up briefly and she tossed a bottle of alchemists fire into it – causing the ground to undulate, revealing a veritable graveyard of victims.

The party decided that 15 hours of travel was enough and made camp nearby.

Ascension and Acheron

The morning of the __, a voice of thunder shatters the morning calm, rumbling through the city, “ONE DAY”. At this, Mason’s dwarvish wife Veronika demanded a representative. She was rewarded with a bolt of lightning crashing through the roof, which delivered a djinni requiring an answer. After a short discussion in which the djinni insisted, ‘The Laws of your mortal mortal realm hold no bearing for the Kingdom of Ventis’, Veronika and Mason relented. The djinni stated they are required to organize a wedding in a week. The estimated value of the wedding should be about 50,000 gp.

While discussing the details after the djinni left, the party was down in one of the private rooms, when a group of 10 mysterious cloaked humanoids arrived looking for a meeting with Griangi. The party allowed them in, and the leader of the group revealed himself to be Nilson VonCrosia… “So what’s this I hear about a rebellion?”

After discussing this for a short time, time seemed to pause for a moment while VonCrosia was consumed in a bright white light that seemed to disintegrate him, then reform him into a slightly better version of himself… The party then realized he had ascended to Mythic status.

VonCrosia admitted that Hadrach insisted the party not be present for the coming summit, for fear the party would attempt to assassinate him. He provided the expected schedule of events:
1-7 days: Noble houses arrive from across Tesra
8 days: Hadrach’s official arrival and reception
8 days: Grand ball (19th)
8-22 days: Peace talks (2 weeks allotted)
23 days: Closing ceremonies
24 days: Hadrach officially departs

Afterwards, the party decided to attempt to complete their mission to Stygia in the intervening time.

Arrival in Stygia found a dark plane, stinking, fetid and foul. Exploration proceeded, and a number of different horrors were experienced:
Weird mushrooms with teeth and tentacles
A pair of bone devils flying patrol
An ice devil who figured out they were not the devils Jarbold’s illusion made them appear to be. The ice devil attacked, but was killed in seconds from several devastating strikes from Mason’s hammer and Dinara’s mythically accurate shots. A number of the Damned were found and destroyed in the Ice Devil’s lair, along with a collection of treasures.
A bridge tiled with ceramic faces that would chant and move when not looked at directly… Griangi stabbed one, shattering the tile and eliciting a howling scream of agony… and blood leaking out of the broken tile. “Let’s leave the tiles alone”. The party had traveled 9 hours at that point, and Dinara had started flagging from the constant slog through the marsh.

Dire and Dangerous Preparations

The party’s not-so-triumphant return from Belnesse found them back in the city of Chytri. After the visit from Kalithrax, it was generally agreed upon the group would go to Stygia, to find and collect the Soul-gems of Tresa the Fury. 

However, the party then discovered that Von Crosia’s palace had been strangely closed to them and their possessions safely stored at one of the finest inns in town. Concerned about the implications and the rumors that a high-ranking dignitary will be visiting, they tried to force a meeting with VonCrosia. Unfortunately the outer gates remained closed while various functionaries came to speak with them. Finally, one of VonCrosia’s lead advisors came to the outer gate and spoke with the party.  He said that VonCrosia was terribly busy and would not be able to see any of them for at least a week, but he’d be happy to schedule an audience.  Several different angles were used, everything from announcing them as foreign dignitaries (which would take at least a month for VonCrosia to prepare) to voicing concern about his safety, well being, or even possible possession (Would a trusted representative like High Priest Stephanos satisfy them?). The party remained frustrated and unsatisfied, and even considered invading the palace directly to speak with VonCrosia.

Meanwhile, Midori used her stealth to sneak into the palace, to discover the truth. After successfully sneaking through most of the palace, she accidentally bumped into a guard – this led to a harrowing race through the palace, to get to VonCrosia before he was locked away while the palace guard was searched for invisible intruders. She made it into his office to find him penning a letter to Hadrach the Ever-King. According to the letter, VonCrosia is deep in the process of preparing for a visit from the Ever-King for peace talks. In addition, part of the letter confirmed they are working to make sure Griangi’s companions are excluded. Apparently to ensure violence doesn’t erupt.  Midori then successfully escaped and reported back to the group.

As the group discussed their options regarding their next move, two things happened:
- A ship flying a dwarven military flag arrived in port and Mason, shocked, says it’s his wife’s unit.
- A massive Djinni appeared in front of Mason, a golden glowing halo around his head. The Djinni announced himself as Aura, Djinni King. He demanded that Mason choose to marry his daughter. He has 3 days to agree or “Suffer the wrath of the Djinn nation of Ventis!” He then vanished in a clap of thunder and bolt of lightning. Many local eyewitnesses assumed that it was a demon, and rumors spread that Griangi, Mason or Kia scared the demon away. The rest of the evening was spent by the group drowning their frustrations at the Blue Dancer, trying to decide their course of action.

The next day, the party gathered to discuss their next steps and as they did so, the skies darkened, thunder rumbled, forming a voice heard throughout the city… “TWO DAYS”. Many citizens were terrified. The party, leaving Mason to make his decision, formed a plan to spread the information that Hadrach is coming, invited by VonCrosia. They planned to gather as many as they can that are loyal to Griangi and his Companions, and head out of the city, take over a hidden base where the party had previously defeated hobgoblins and trolls. An estimated 5300 souls can be expected to go, of those, roughly half could be considered at least competent with a weapon. This number represents about a third of the population of Chytri. The message passed around was:

VonCrosia is making a deal with Hadrach the Ever-king, the lord who allowed his servants to subjugate, butcher, devour, imprison, and torture the people of Chytri. Lord Griangi, Lady Akiara, and Sir Mason and company are offering any persons who wish to join under them, the protection and citizenship in their new nation.

The party spread the message throughout the town, via Midori’s street urchins, Kia’s congregation, Edire, the mayor of Chytri, Captain Farinost, and other allies and followers. They have a meeting with High Priest Stephanos, and Tavirend the Merry happened to show up with his Crossroads Legion. Tavirend hinted that he has been hired by VonCrosia and intimated he could be hired away for a better price. 

Decks and Deviations

Kia chooses to share her vision with the rest of the group.

She says, "I know that one of these is true, and the other is false, but I don’t know which one is which…

Vision 1:
You walk down a marble-lined grand hall, the opulence and wealth of a nation on display all around you. Marble columns, easily 4’ across sit behind tables adorned with a unique floral arrangements, each one representing a noble house of Tesra. The columns stretch up overhead where pearlescent chiffon is draped from one to the next, held in place with hooks shaped like golden leaves. Between each column is a Tesran lancer standing still as a statue, their uniforms spotless, each breastplate buffed and shined, each pleat of cloth laid perfectly in place. Behind the guards is a throng of lesser nobles quietly jostling each other to see you and the people you’re with as you walk down the Grand Hall.
Your eyes are drawn to the far end of the chamber, where you can see Nilson VonCrosia standing before a beautifully constructed wooden table. As you approach, you realize those walking with you are not your regular companions, and that you are looking at the world through eyes that are not your own. You stop, and rap a metal-shod staff upon the ground twice before speaking. “Milord VonCrosia, it is my duty and honor to present his eminence, the Lord of Mankind, the Hand of Fate, the Keeper of Truth, Emperor Beyond the Mountains, Hadrach, the Everking.” You bow deeply and step away to your left, rising only when you have repositioned yourself to watch the proceedings. Your heart swells with pride as you see the Everking’s entourage part, and he steps forward before VonCrosia. To the Everking’s right stands Lantern, his man-at-arms, proudly bearing the Rage and the Hope of Hadrach. The weapon and shield are polished to a high shine, the bright spring sunlight reflecting off their surfaces.
The Everking’s countenance is that of a walking corpse, dressed in slowly decaying royal clothes, a shredded cape, and bony fingers poking out of cracked, withered skin. Dark earth is packed in the seams and corners of the Everking’s clothes, ground into the cracked fingernails. Two red points of light in empty eye sockets glance at you for a moment as he walks past you. Your chest swells with pride that he would include you with a glance at such an important moment in history. The rictus grin on his skeletal face seems to smile even more widely before he returns his full attention to back to the Grand Duke.
The Everking steps up to VonCrosia, taking his measure of the man before he bows to the Grand Duke of the Tesran Republic. VonCrosia bows graciously in return.
A deep breath fills the Everking’s chest, and he begins to speak. “I have come to sue for peace, your Grace, and turn over to you all that remains of my forces.”

Vision 2:
Blood and gore drips from your stringy hair as you kneel on the ground, exhaustion weighing down your limbs as you stare at the darkly-spattered wet flagstone at your feet. To your right, the final twitches of the abomination’s death-throes rattle its thick, spidery legs against the ground. It takes another moment for you to catch your breath, but finally you stand and look around.
The domed ceiling arching over you is still obscured in dark mist, its frescoes still only visible as vaguely disturbing, indistinct blobs. The battle that just finished did little damage to the structure as a whole. Bodies are scattered about in the gore, and you can see your comrades moving about in the shadows, checking bodies for signs of life, delivering death blows to the surviving monstrosities. Looking back at the largest of the creatures, you see that it wears a golden crown with platinum filigree, and set in the center is a large gem, the size of a human fist, polished smooth. You recognize it as the last, missing gem of the Horn of Hadrach. Pulling the blood-spattered crown off of the creature’s head, you lift it up in the air in triumph.

An Interlude in Belnesse

Darker than expected.

Admirals and Sailing Ships
1-Ianui through 5-Ianui

After discussing their problem at length and ensuring that Mason was properly watched (in case Denuriel still had control of him), Griangi decided he was assert control over the compound and they would make plans to find and reclaim the Heart of Sinakua, if not also the Tears of Marsa. Midori, concerned for the people of Tesra, snuck off to inform Admiral Farinost that he should take the devil’s deal if they don’t return.
Desperate, the Admiral broke and demanded Nilar’s presence, that he would go ahead and sign away his soul for the lives of the Tesrans and for three wishes. Shocked at his reaction, Midori stared as Nilar appeared, contract in hand. Midori immediately fled.
Around the same time, the party were on their way to see the Admiral and exercise Griangi’s authority over the city of Tesra – just in time to see the Admiral finish signing. Griangi and Kia laid into Nilar, while he protested that he was unable to fight back and that Xiwrath would have his revenge if they killed him. Heedless of his protestations, Kia and Griangi slaughtered the hapless herald of Xiwrath, and destroyed the Admiral’s contract. Sadly, this had no effect on the contract itself. Meanwhile, Midori locked herself up in the fortress’ brig.

After deliberations and discussions, Griangi exercised his authority over the city and its defenders, and made a rousing speech about resisting the devils and the infernal threat they present. The party then took Farinost aside and spoke with him in private about what the next steps were, and learned that he had chosen to sell his soul because he had simply lost all hope that they would escape with their lives. While doing so, an imp arrived with a request from Rykel, the new Herald of Xiwrath, for an audience under a flag of truce.

Rykel explained that the contract was secure and that Farinost still had three wishes per the contract. Also that the people of Tesra may leave by land, sea or air. Farinost then wished for enough ships to transport the people safely to wherever he chose, and to be younger and healthier. The second wish resulted in him being a man of 20 again, having lost all the memories and experiences he had gained.
The first wish resulted in an infernal fleet of ships, black and evil-looking, with living figureheads that would move and change when people weren’t looking. The ships themselves had no helm, no oars, and their sails would fill with wind, even on a calm day. A metal plate with the face of a person was bolted into place where the wheel would normally be, and would take commands of the captain.

The party asked Farinost to have a devil bring the Heart of Sinakua to them (with a great deal of conditions), while Griangi and Dinara went into the hills to find mounts and companions. Returning with a pair of young Rocs and a flight of hippogriffs to be trained as mounts. As this was happening, the party made sure the people of Tesra were loaded on to the ships with their goods and supplies, received the Heart of Sinakua, placing it in the ark, and prepared to depart Tesra for Chytri.

Upon placing the heart in its ark, the Affliction was lifted and the priests of Tesra returned to consciousness. It will take a few days for them to fully recover.

Bookworms and Books
1-Ianui (Welcoming Day)

The party assembled and readied an assault on the Holy Library of Tesra. Their goal: snatch or destroy the Heart of Sinakua to put an end to the Affliction that was crippling the divine spellcasters. Hurrying through the city, they arrived and climbed in through the same window that Midori had escaped through the day before. Climbing up the rope, the Library was fairly empty, save for Legionmaster Denuriel and a horde of imps.
The battle plan fell apart quickly as several bone devils appeared in the chamber, and the battle for the Heart of Sinakua began in earnest. Iktar threw up a wall of ice to prevent the swarms of imps from attacking them and summoned a lightning elemental to go and snatch the heart. Mason also leapt down to do battle with Denuriel and hold his attention while Griangi and Kia battled the Bone devils, hoping to make good their escape.
As Mason approached the Legionmaster, the creature emerged from the pile of ruined books and with a few words, cast a spell and vanished, taking control of Mason’s body.
Mason/Denuriel then snatched up the Heart of Sinakua and fled, leaving the party behind. With no prize to claim and no way to catch up to Mason, the party retreated back behind the Bastion Wall…

Hours later, Mason approached the Bastion Wall and submitted himself for arrest – without the Heart of Sinakua and, as revealed to the group, he also had the book, the Tears of Marsa. Now with both treasures gone, the party sat down to figure out what steps to take next…

The Devils and the Wall
Temur's Day

Dawn of Temur’s Day found the party marching on the Bastion Wall…

As the party set themselves to the task of taking the Bastion Wall, and Xiwrath the Caustic hovered high above, other devils wheeled and cavorted. Farinost’s troops provided support, battling the Host devils as they swooped out of the sky. Midori drank a potion of invisibility and promptly vanished, while the rest of the party put down the bone devils in fairly short order.

Xiwrath, in the mean time, summoned four more siegebreaker devils, ordering his brothers to destroy the party and the Bastion wall. As the four of them set upon the party, Xiwrath himself cast prismatic spray, blinding the party and turning Kia to stone. In the furious battle, the brothers of Xiwrath fell quickly, but not before crippling Dinara and nearly killing the other party members. Upon their destruction, each of his brothers exploded into thousands of black shards, which were promptly swallowed by a vortex. Xiwrath, injured by the spells of Ezra and the attacks of Dinara, chose to spit a stream of powerful acid at Dinara, reducing her to little more than disembodied, burned-off limbs and a bubbling pool of acid.

With two members down, one off on her own mission, and the battle for the Bastion wall heating up for Farinost’s men, the situation was looking more desperate. Regaining their vision, Mason and Griangi laid into Xiwrath and injured him enough that he finally fled.

For the next hour, the battle for the Bastion wall raged, and the line held. As the assaults of infernal forces finally began to slow and weaken, Midori reappeared, shot full of arrows and nearly dead, chased by a pair of darkly beautiful women with black wings and powerfully magical bows. Saving Midori, the party continued to battle the last of the devils trying to take the bridge and successfully killed the two female devils.

The Battle for the Bastion Wall finally over, Midori was healed up and the party took stock of their injuries and losses. Upon returning to the fortress, Farinost and Stephanos presented the party with four scrolls of Resurrection and extracted a promise from Wizard Jerak “Jerkface” Hefia to return Kia to normal on the following day.

Gorrok continued to train the civilians, and Farinost began moving the rest back into the city behind the Bastion Wall so that the fortress could begin to return to normal.

Midori finally shared the treasures she had retrieved and related the tale of her encounter at the Holy Library of Tesra (as related in The Devils in the Details)


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