Return of Hadrach

The Assassination of Rothgar Bearon by the coward Shakaari Voco
8-Grunni

“They give you this but you pay for that,
And once you’re gone you can’t ever come back,
when you’re out of the blue and into the black.”
-Neil Young “My My, Hey Hey”

Our heroes rested at the Squinting Coin, a reasonably priced inn staffed by slaves. Jinora, still recovering from the loss of her hand, sought to discuss the actions of Rothgar’s imp with Shakaari, who continually avoids her. Both Marigold and Shakaari discover strange glyphs painted on the doors of their rooms; it turns out the people of Kalach have serious issues with arcane spell-users.

Out of the blue, the druid Elvira returned to the fold, with no explanation for her absence.

Taking on the role of a foreign elvish noblewoman, Akiara, the pseudodragon Robspierre on her shoulder, took up the task of negotiating with local merchants to acquire the gear and mounts the party would need for their long trek across the tundra. Marigold met up with and hired Evgeni Stanav, a half-orcish ranger, who reluctantly agreed to take them to their destination.

Rothgar and Shakaari conspired to rob the Slaver’s Guild, over the objections of Jinora, who spent the day trying to get the wizard into a private discussion. Shakaari told Jinora to trust her and go find Marigold but the cavalier would not be abated. Finally, cornering the two of them in a clothing store, Jinora frustrated the conjurer to the point that she tells Rothgar that, rather than robbing the guild, the two of them should just teleport directing into the throne room and assassinate the King. Rothgar, confident in both his skills with a bow and Shakaari’s arcane abilities, agrees. Shakaari angrily sends Jinora away and leads Rothgar to a spot adjacent to the palace.

Rothgar placed his trust in Shakaari to deliver him to the throne room, and was betrayed. The wizard cast her Dimension Door spell, but instead of taking them both to the presence of the King, she shifted them both 740ft straight up. Protected by a Fly spell, the Draiman woman watched as her former ally fell to his gruesome death. As his last act, the ranger fired an arrow into the wizard, but refrained from firing the second and third shafts that would surely have taken the woman from the mortal world with him.

The people of Kalach witnessed this murder, and a horrible chanting rang through the streets. Shakaari flew out into the icy plain to wait for her allies and explain what she had done.

Seeing the place where Rothgar fell, a rage-filled Elvira stopped and collected some of the shards of his rent bones.

The Champions of Yerth fled the city, meeting up with the wizard miles away. Shakaari explained that Rothgar had effectively become a servant of the Enemy, and that he could no longer be trusted. She explained that she could not risk Mexis, the imp, discovering what she had planned. She explained that she had no other alternative but to kill him — too many lives were at risk to let him go.

Her explanations just weren’t good enough.

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Of Imps and Men
  • Party is greeted by guards, invited to dinner and escorted to Palace.
  • With several hours to kill, party takes baths and talks with personal palace slaves.
  • Rothgar sends out Mexis (invisible) to “find magic items”
  • Shakaari sends out Robspierre to scout out shuttered Draiman tower.
  • Jinora goes to see Dorian, but discovers they are restricted to the hall – asks for escort and gets it.
  • Mexis returns with a pouch full of Very Nice Gemstones. After questioning, it appears he took it from the royal vault – possibly the crown jewels themselves.
  • Rothgar concocts a plan to frame the palace slaves by planting three of the gems on various slaves, sends Mexis out to do it.
  • Jinora runs into a young man practicing swordwork against a group of guards. In watching, the man is distracted, hit rather hard and he unleashes himself, putting down his sparring partners quickly.
  • Savilley (check spelling later) invites her to spar – He starts out strong, but Jinora does well at the end in a desperate move, not quite beating him, but makes a good account of herself. Jinora has apparently made a friend.
  • Shakaari and Marigold teleport out of the rooms onto the palace grounds (to… prove a point?) They are captured by palace guards and escorted back to their rooms, after much threat-slinging.
  • Rothgar reveals to the returned ladies what Mexis has done, and they tell Mexis to return all the gems to the vault. Mexis is able to return all but one of the ones that was planted – it’s no longer where he planted it. Party crosses their fingers that no one will notice.
  • At dinner, The king, his Majesty Gennady Kozlov is congenial and friendly, until he reveals that he doesn’t like thieves, even if they attempt to return the items.
  • Since the gems were returned, he doesn’t insist on having the party’s heads; instead, he simply wants the hand of the person responsible. (He suspects Shakaari since she demonstrated teleport ability)
  • Much fingerpointing ensues, Rothgar denies, and his Highness Kozlov puts out an ultimatum: If no one is marked as responsible, he will then be forced to take everyone’s heads.
  • Rothgar still claims innocence. Jinora finally stands and claims responsibility. His Highness Kozlov thanks her and has her taken to another room. She returns with a bloody stump where her right hand was.
  • Kozlov, pleased that justice has been served, makes a decree: The party is to leave the palace grounds immediately and may take their things with them. The party may spend whatever time they wish in the city, obtaining provisions, guides, maps, etc, but once they leave Kalach, they are to never re-enter the city on pain of death.
  • Party goes to the middle-range inn on the southern end of the city, the Squinting Coin, and beds down for the night (slaves are pimped out to the party at 5 sp for the evening).
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In the Cold Cold Night
27-Novui through 7-Grunni

“So now you’d better stop and rebuild all your ruins,
For peace and trust can win the day despite of all your losing.”
— Led Zeppelin “Immigrant Song”

The Champions of Yerth remained in Chytri for a month after its liberation, recuperating and, in some cases, acclimating to new their new forms. It should also be noted that, during this period of rest, Rothgar, the party’s legendary bowman, decided it would make his life less complicated if he just went ahead and sold his soul to the forces of Hell in exchange for the “loyal service” of Mexis, an imp who had, until that moment, been harassing him. We’ll get to how that is working out for him later.

With Thrandir and Keets packed off to the Grand Duke of Tesra’s palace, our heroes prepare to journey north, in search of Etult’s Earth, a substance that will allow them to reunite the shards of Hadrach’s shattered Lodestone. The preparations for this arduous journey into the frozen reaches of Yerth’s upper latitudes are made much simpler by the arrival of Kalithrax, the watcher beneath Draima, who, responding to Shakaari’s request for assistance, offers to teleport the group to the region himself.

Kalithrax reveals himself to be in possession of the Journal of Doral, a Draiman wizard who once traveled the world in order to compile detailed descriptions of various signification locales for the purposes of creating a network of teleportation circles. Using this information, the “wizard” transports the heroes to the far north, depositing them in the famous Adamant Temple at the city of Kalach. Upon their arrival, they are greeted by the Speaker for the Brothers of Silence, who maintain the site. They speak briefly and are escorted out. Our heroes then encountered the Kalachian Royal Guard, who inform them they are to be dinner guests of the king. Our heroes discover that the meager cold weather clothing they brought with them is not adequate, and the guards order slaves to bring them blankets and cloaks.

The party is provided rooms to rest and freshen up in. A slave is provided to each of the guests, with varying reactions. Rothgar dispatches his infernal servant to loot the palace for magic items while Marigold and Jinora take baths; Shakaari refuses a bath on ethical grounds, but later relents. Griangi, stricken with “teleportation sickness”, passes out his bed for the evening. Kia and her friend Ezra are escorted out to play in the snow. Shakaari dispatches her new familiar, the pseudodragon called Robespierre, to investigate a shuttered Draiman tower. Jinora tries to go check on her steed, Dorian, but is informed that she cannot move about the palace without an escort. While she is out there, she encounters Prince Savilley, the site of her distracting him from his sparring. He invites her to spar with him, the results of which were inconclusive.

Finding that her room is equipped with a massive silver mirror, Shakaari decides, with Marigold backing her, to scry on Hadrach using the Horn, but all she is able to see is images of the damned being tortured in Hell. Frustrated by both this and the results of Robespierre’s reconnaissance, the young wizard decides to investigate the tower personally, teleporting Marigold and herself out into the cold courtyard before realizing that she was still clad in only a bathrobe. The two are immediately confronted by Jinora, Prince Savilley, and a cadre of Palace Guards, who order the women to return to their rooms; after a bit of protest, the ladies agree.

Mexis returns to Rothgar, bearing, not magic items, but a sack of very valuable jewels which it appears he pried off of the crown jewels. Rothgar immediately decides to frame the slaves, sending Mexis out to plant evidence. Upon the ladies’ return, Rothgar revealed his servant’s folly; his allies demand all the jewels be returned to the vault and Rothgar acquiesces — the imp, however, is unable to recover one of the jewels.

The party attends dinner with the King, His Majesty Gennady Kozlov. While the monarch is, at first, congenial and friendly, he quickly reveals that he is aware of the thefts, and demands the hand of the thief, his chief suspect being Shakaari due to her teleportation abilities. Rothgar maintains his innocence, and, finally, Jinora takes responsibility for the crime, and is immediately taken away to have her hand cut-off. When the cavalier and their host returns, the king declares that the party may stay in the city long enough to gather supplies for their journey, but once they have left, they may never return, upon penalty of death. Shakaari declares that should she ever set foot in this city again, it will be to burn the place to the ground. The King is unmoved by this display of wizardly bravado.

The party rents rooms at the Squinting Coin and prepares for their next move.

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Celebrations and Celerity
  • Party recovers from reincarnation
  • City is liberated over a month, half the city burns.
  • Elf Edire is elevated to Merchant Prince of Chytri
  • Winter begins
  • Dinner with Admiral Farinost discussing artifacts, logistics.
  • Celebration of Heroes of Chytri
  • Kalithrax arrives to take party north (using the Journal of Doral).
  • Arrive in Adamant Temple
  • Meet Speaker for the Brothers of Silence
  • Kal leaves party and Speaker escorts party to exit.
  • Encounter Kalachian Guards, slaves bring cloaks.
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Showdown at the House of Dead Leaves
26-Novui "Come back here so I can kill you!" -Griangi

“Brave adventurers – the Heroes of Chytri. Welcome to my abode. Tell me, given the chance to leave now with your lives, would you take it?”

The half-orc necromancer Reynnard offered our heroes a large chest of treasure to go away and leave him alone, which they refused. The battle began in earnest, with Jinora and Griangi leading the charge against Hadrach’s servant while Shakaari attempted, in vain, to summon a creature that could carry off the black orb which had created the tower. In desperation, the half-orc summoned a Barbed Devil, which, after taking stock of the situation, burned the Voco girl to ashes with a single spell.

Without stopping to mourn their loss, the champions pressed their attack. The swords of Akiara and the axe of Griangi kept the necromancer pinned down so that Rothgar could continue filling him with arrows. Cornered, the servant of evil revealed himself to be another Barbed Devil. Reynnard the Devil ordered the summoned Devil to protect the tower’s orb and to kill the party, then teleported away. Jinora, the brave cavalier, fell to the infernal creature’s claws. Finally, fearing for its continued existence, the summoned devil fled, taking the orb with it.

With the loss of the artifact which spawned it, the tower began to collapse, and our heroes fled for their lives. Once, outside, they saw the chaos created by the burning barracks, the collapsing tower and the gouts of flame. Troll soldiers spotted the party and chased them off of the cliff into the ocean and Marigold cleverly used Feather Fall to keep them from turning themselves into paste at the bottom of the cliffs. Once in the water, they swam ashore, seeing the enemy fleet weighing anchor and sailing away.

The people of Chytri and the forces of Tesra rejoiced at the defeat of Hadrach’s minions. In honor of their sacrifice, an elvish druid brought Jinora and Shakaari back to life… as dwarves.

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Betrayals and Bastards
26-Novui; "Wait... we're in Chytri?!" -Thrandir

Shakaari awakened from her negotiations only to find all her allies were dead. She sent Keets to rouse the healers while she calmed the frazzled nerves of Expey, Petrosa, and Narhini, only to receive a severe rebuke from the cat. When the high priest of Palenon, the only healer present with the power to raise the dead, finally arrived, he refused to help the dead champions on the grounds that the Grand Duke might choke on a grape seed or something while watching the liberation of Chytri from a distance and might be inconvenienced by his sudden demise. Realizing that Rothgar was not among the dead and remembering that he was an infamous assassin, the young wizard took some of his personal items and used them to cast a Scrying spell. The spell led her to the Necromantic Tower in Chytri, but could not penetrate its walls.

Meanwhile, in a place beyond life and death, the souls of our recently deceased heroes were greeted by Nalal, a heretofore unknown planar entity. The being informed them that it would be returning them to their bodies, but that they may each ask it two questions first. The heroes asked their questions, received their answers, and were returned to the Prime Material Plane.

When Griangi awoke, the first thing he did was note that his Bag of Holding was missing. This made the gnome angry. Very angry. His newly resurrected companions rushed into his room to see what was the matter. Much lamentation, gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments occurred as they attempted to determine who could have taken the bag. Finally, Shakaari entered the room and placed the blame on Rothgar, who was missing and also a known criminal. She informed the group of his location and a vigorous argument ensued as to what they should do next. Finally, Shakaari managed to break through the fray and reveal to them some even more startling news —

After the rest of the party’s dream-selves had been dispatched by Hadrach, the wizard parlayed with the demigod’s lawyer, and managed to get the infernal solicitor to raise her brother, Thrandir, from the grave with the promise that she would consider signing a contract that would bind her soul to Hell for all eternity in exchange for three wishes. The devil brought Thran back from the grave as specified, but Wizard Voco rejected the contract, bringing threats of hellish retribution. The mage had discovered earlier that he brother, upon his return to the plane of the living, was immediately captured and imprisoned in the tower. With the promise of being reunited with a beloved ally, the party determined to assault the tower directly, rescue Thran and make Rothgar pay for his craven betrayal.

Halfway between the fortress and the city, they are stopped by a courier who delivers a message from Rothgar, explaining that he’d been forced to deliver the bag but had left its contents at a rebel safehouse for them to retrieve, and requesting they rescue him. The party arrives at the safehouse and finds this to be the truth. Collecting the horn and shard, Griangi decides to entrust artifacts to Shakaari, who accepts the horn, but says that since she’s managed to piss off the hosts of Hell, it may not be a good thing to have all the party’s eggs in her basket. Griangi agrees and the party makes it way to the tower. Marigold takes to the air, douses the adjacent barracks in oil, and tosses down a vial of Alchemist’s Fire, dispatching most of the guards easily. She then levitates her allies up a sheer cliff, allowing them to walk right in through the front door. In the foyer they meet token resistance — a troll, a cleric, and a couple of guards. The troll becomes the focus of their attacks, and is burned down fairly quickly; the guards fall even easier, but the cleric fleets before a conjured swarm of spiders has a chance to make a meal of him.

The party goes up the stairs and discovers a teleportation circle. As Shakaari is examining it, Juniper asks, “Hey, you can teleport, right?” Upon Shakaari’s confused confirmation, Juniper shoves her into the circle, sending the young wizard hurting through space to a destination far away. Griangi charged after Shakaari. The two discover they are in a city far away, which they are able to determine is, in fact, a city in the so-called “ Old World” of Draiman history.

Our heroes continued to ascend the tower, eventually coming to an eerily similar experimentation room lined with cells. The group immediately sets to examining the cells — they find the lord mayor of Chytri and some of his entourage; a vampire troll named Blacktusk, who is encouraged to flee; some kind of undead halfling; numerous corpses dead from a variety of causes including mysterious diseases; their ally, Rothgar; and, finally, their long lost friend Thrandir, newly risen from the grave and covered only in foul, viscous black slime. After a brief reunion and a thorough cleaning by Keets, the half-elf is dressed and equips himself lightly and our heroes continue up the stairs. When finally they reach the top, the voice of the necromancer, Reynard, asks them a simple question:

“Brave adventurers – the Heroes of Chytri. Welcome to my abode. Tell me, given the chance to leave now with your lives, would you take it?”

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Cats and Kings
25-Novui; "That cat ain't right!" - Shakaari

The Eastern Fortress was secured, and the party began organizing the final assault on Anmor’s Tower. The next morning, as Shakaari rose to begin her morning meditations, her servant, the brownie Keets, approached her with a rather severe cat scratch on her arm. When she told her mistress that she’d received it cleaning Juniper’s room, the young wizard, more disturbed than angry, stormed over to the rogue’s room and began banging on the door, attracting both the attention of Marigold, Jinora, and Elvira (The men of the party were either sleeping, eating, or scratching their genitals; Akiara was still unwilling to leave her friend Ezra’s side).

When Juniper finally relented and opened the door, there stood Narhini, the Cat Who Lived, once again returned from Death’s eternal embrace.

A flurry of questions followed, none of which were answered to Shakaari’s satisfaction, and the mage was summarily evicted from Juniper’s room despite her protestations that cats aren’t supposed to rise from the grave this frequently.

The next day, Nilson VonCrosia, Grand Duke of Tesra, arrived, grand army at his back and a chicken egg between his fingers. Amongst his entourage were three Tesran Generals; Admiral Farinost and his retinue; the legendary sorceress Kleon, who’s withered old body harbored tremendous power; and a militant priest of Palenon, glowing bright with the power of his sun god. Griangi greeted these guests as formally as he knew how, and the combined group sat down to feast together.

Negotiations between the party and the nation of Tesra ensued; Grand Duke VonCrosia, in exchange for the groups efforts on behalf of Tesra, offered Griangi title to a small duchy at the north end of the Tesran Penisula which had lain fallow for some time, a reward our heroes gratefully accepted*. Some rather negative pronouncements were made by the Tesrans regarding Draima, causing Shakaari to speak up in the Combine’s defense; Grand Duke responded a declaration that all Draima wizards could toss themselves into the Abyss. Plans for the liberation of Chytri were laid, the logistics of the assault on the Tower were discussed, and the party’s various animal companions laid waste to the buffet.

*Note: the offer of this land, called Bellnesse, was contingent upon the party:

  • Successfully liberating Chytri
  • Handing over the ancient books arcane knowledge found beneath Draima
  • Accepting any Tesrans who wish to migrate there
  • Must take possession during Nilson VonCrosia’s lifetime

The party would be given:

  • The abandoned town of Bellnesse, and surrounding lands
  • A small trading fleet of 3 ships

Later, Marigold and Elvira heard Shakaari crying in her bedroom; the two women broke in to see what was the matter, and the witch attempted to stop the wizard from running away by anchoring her to the ground by her own shadow, but to no avail; the Voco girl simply teleported away.

That night, while the party slept, their souls were once again drawn into a mysterious other plane, and our heroes found themselves sitting in a sort of conference rooms before Hadrach, Anmor, and a man who was introduced as Lantern, the Oracle of Hadrach. This Oracle explained that there had been a great misunderstanding; Hadrach, himself, was meant to be the savior of all humanity, not its destroyer, but because the party possessed those artifacts which represented the better angels of his nature, he was behaving uncharacteristically violent. He begged the party to return these items so that the Warrior-King could be whole again. The party expressed its incredulity; the Oracle asked how Hadrach could prove his sincerity to them. Rothgar joked if he killed Anmor, he would join. In the space of an instant, Hadrach rose from his seat and beheaded the necromancer in a single stroke. He then rounded upon Rothgar and demanded his allegiance; when the archer refused, Hadrach stabbed him through the heart, his human countenance suddenly rotted away to that of a living corpse with flaming red eyes. The members of the party lept into action, save for Shakaari, who remained seated. The Mighty Griangi stood toe-to-toe with the Demigod, briefly holding his own before being chopped in half. Akiara’s whirling blades of death were bolstered by her friend, Ezra’s, sorcerous powers; still both were cut down for their refusal. Elvira’s druidic powers were brought to bear upon the living nightmare, but were found wanting. Marigold’s eldritch abilities were as little to Hadrach as Juniper’s advanced knowledge of anatomy. Jinora, bereft of horse but not bereft of sharpened steel and courage, challenged the undead monstrosity to single combat and was brought low.

Finally all that stood between Hadrach and his defeat of our heroes were the fearless bard, Jarbold, who stood his ground against the implacable foe, and the wizard, Shakaari, who remained seated at the table. Hadrach demanded the bard’s fealty, and was refused. With a swift, almost lazy motion, the orator’s head was separated from his body. He approached the young mage, leveled his mighty sword at her throat and asked:

“Will you serve me?”

Shakaari looked up, a hint of annoyance on her face.

“If you’re quite finished with your trantrum,” she replied, “can we please continue the negotiations?”

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Blood and Fire
24-Novui

Our heroes, still weary from their earlier battle to liberate the slave pens, turned their attention then to the Eastern Fortress itself, marshaling their partisans and driving them to charge the oncoming forces of darkness, only to find their troops under fire from huge iron cauldrons atop the fortress’ battlements. These cauldrons (later named “bombards” by a wizened engineer) launched deadly explosives amongst their troops. With the death toll mounting, the party teleported up to the top of those walls with eyes on destroying the powerful siege weapons.

Immediately upon their rematerialization, the Champions of Yerth fell upon a contingent of enemy archers and the men who manned the western bombard. The first engineer escaped; his assistant who, sadly, didn’t know how to actually operate the bombard, surrendered. The heroes defeated the archers and guards soundly, only to be confronted by the legendary troll warrior, Yevnor the Render, and his lieutenants.

Knowing that the death they had never stopped for had finally stopped for them, the heroes each said silent prayers, begging the gods for mercy as they stood before Yevnor, a creature who’s very name struck fear in the hearts of warriors across all of Yerth. Yevnor, who had tasted the blood of a thousand heroes. Yevnor, a creature of deeper rage even than the mighty Griangi. Yevnor — the end of all hope.

In a moment of desperation, Captain Marigold placed a hex upon the troll leader, weakening him slightly, just as Juniper, so new to the powers of witchcraft, tried in vain to cast a slumber upon the titanic monster. To their surprise, the walking horror yawned once, and then fell over. Griangi the Mighty, Trollslayer, stepped forward, and with a single blow, removed the sleeping Yevnor’s head from his body.
The trolls who flanked him required more direct attention: one dispatched quickly, the other fleeing for his life. But finally, with the trolls defeated and a successful round of negotiations with the other engineer, the bombards were captured and, with them, the fortress.

The villains who were directing the fight from atop higher towers, their faces so familiar, managed to escape capture…

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Facing the Darkness
21-Novui through 24-Novui

In the aftermath of the excitement at the gallows, the party regroups at the inn and plans their next move.

Juniper, fresh back from her covert operation, privately introduces Griangi to Vincenzo, a spy who wishes to pledge fealty to the gnome. The discussion of what use he will be to the revolution is interrupted suddenly when a man named Nine Fingers crashes in through the window and says he’s here for Griangi. A fight ensues, and Nine Fingers is subdued, but at the cost of a near mortal injury to Vincenzo. While the rest of the party enters the discussion, Juniper renders the assassin’s name inaccurate.

Duping the party into putting him near a window, “Eight Fingers” escapes, but is put to sleep by some mysterious force, and is put out of his misery by Griangi. The party, aware that they have no time left to dither, quickly changes their base of operations and over the next couple days, puts the plan to attack the eastern fortress into effect, assembling their forces and marching almost immediately.

When the assault begins, Clerics of Vurda immediately begin slaughtering prisoners, raising them up immediately as undead soldiers. While Griangi and Jinora’s mounts are defeated by the cunning use of fences, the party and its forces engages the clerics, their bodyguards, and a cadre of trolls while their human forces fight off the zombies. In the midst of the fight, Juniper reveals that she has apparently learned some magic of her own as she blasts enemies with a cone of fire. In a pitched battle, the cleric’s forces are defeated, but a third of the party’s human forces are killed and Shakaari is badly wounded. With a second wave of forces from inside the fortress bearing down on them and with Rothgar and Elvira nowhere to be found, the prospects look grim for our heroes…

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Blasphemy from the Mouths of the Righteous
20-Novui; "I am Griangi, and I speak for the Gods!" - Griangi

A month goes by, during which Griangi and his intrepid companions train an army. Shakaari forges magic items for the troops while Marigold and Elvira work tirelessly to brew potions for use in the coming insurrection. Jinora and Akiara give crash courses on swordsmanship and melee combat to the inexperienced, newly-minted revolutionaries.

Griangi, Juniper, and Rothgar’s efforts to relieve the Cult of a number of its minor leaders and functionaries meets with some success; this, however, results in an increase in security on the part of the Cult, with a curfew established, random searches, and violent reprisals.

During this time, Shakaari receives word from her grandfather that a civil war has broken out in the city of Draima, and that no military assistance can be expected. Having previously expected their efforts to be bolstered by a fleet of Draiman ships loaded down with seasoned marines, the group scrambles to adjust their strategy; their time, however, simply runs out.

On (this day, in this month), the party gathers on the top floor of a building in a public square where the Cult of Hadrach has built a massive set of gallows. A Cleric of Vurda announces that, if the rebellion continues, they will begin severely punishing the populace, and that as an example, they would hang twenty people right then and there.

Shakaari, having a difficult time balancing the immediate deaths of the people before her with the thousands of deaths which might result should they rush in to stop the execution, begins preparing summoning spells in hopes someone will stop her. No one seems interested in doing so. Griangi is convinced that they will easily triumph over the cleric, his elite troops, a cadre of trolls, and a huge crowd of frightened onlookers; the rest of the party, not so much.

In a flash of inspiration, Marigold suggests they impersonate a deity. In an uncharacteristic burst of cooperative ferver, the party agrees, and they quickly come up with a plan. Just as the Cleric of Vurda is loudly pronouncing judgement upon the prisoners, the druidess, Elvira, calls lightning down from the sky, while Griangi’s herald uses his bardic magic to create a booming voice which loudly declares that the Laifa, the Pumpkin Queen, is not amused. The crowd runs in fear. The soldiers stare in horror. The trolls pick their noses in astonishment.

Shakaari summons lightning elementals and directs them to free the hostages, which they do easily. The square becomes a literal shooting gallery for Elvira’s divine lightning. The wizardess summons an earth elemental next, ordering it to destroy the gallows, just as the cleric finally regains his composure, and loudly declares that this not the work of the Pumpkin Queen to anyone who’s still there to hear him. The wizardess answers him with a lightning bolt of her own, severely injuring the cleric while at the same time giving away the party’s position. Akiara and Jinora make a run for it in order to evacuate the safehouses. The trolls and soldiers rush the building, giving the group less than a minute to plot their escape.

The Cleric of Vurda calls to his god for an obscuring mist to provide himself and his minions cover, just as a crossbowman fires a mystic bolt at the building the party is hiding in, cloaking them all in darkness. Trolls rush the building, unhindered by the darkness, destroying everything in their path.

Elvira takes the form of a bird, moving to the east side of the square while Marigold’s inherent flight abilities, a gift from her elemental patron, soars over to a rooftop on the west. With a few arcane syllables, the witch conjures great black tentacles within the mist to restrain the cleric and his lackeys. Griangi, Jarbold, Keets, Rothgar, and Shakaari scramble to move themselves outside the unnatural darkness before the monsters make a meal of them. Shakaari grabs the others and teleports them all to the rooftop next door. The trolls, unable to find their chosen victims, turn upon their human allies in rage.

Sighting the heroes as they arrive on the rooftop, the Cleric of Vurda calls down a column of unholy flame, burning them all and nearly killing Keets. Elvira hurls an exploding bead into the mist that protects the Cleric from attack, dispersing it.

Two other trolls spot the party and begin scaling the second building. Griangi drops alchemist fire on the creatures, setting them ablaze while Rothgar fills them with arrows. One manages to make it to the top, only to come face to face with axe of Griangi. Shakaari fires off another lightning bolt, managing to kill one of the cleric’s attendants and severely wound the other.

At the safehouse, Akiara starts the evacuation, and covers the revolutionaries’ escape, fighting off a pack of Hadrach’s soldiers all on her own. Jinora rallies a squad of rebel soldiers and lead them back to the square, aiding in the escape of the hostages.

Despite a dose of healing magic from his subordinate, the Cleric of Vurda finally falls to Rothgar’s arrows. Between Griangi’s axe and Keets’ fiery wand, the trolls are put down long enough for party to plot its escape. Elvira, still in bird form, swoops down and heals Keets, who, assuming she’s there to rescue the brownie, scrambles onto her back for a ride. Shakaari, realizing that she can only take two additional people with her via her last teleportation spell, calls out to Marigold to take Rothgar with her just as the witch swoops down to collect the cleric’s body, ensuring that Hadrach will not retain the dark priest’s services as an undead monstrosity. The wizardess, the gnome and his herald disappear in a flash of light, followed quickly by the witch and the bowman as Keets rides Elvira to safely, blasting enemies below with her wand.

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