Belhaven

In Which I Troll Tom

After learning who hired the doppelganger to incite chaos, the party went on the hunt for the Cult of Asmodeus. They interrogated a fairly high-ranking member and got him to spill the beans on a number of other cultists, including some information on Mistress Loathari, who seems to be coordinating the cult. Renard consulted his Spirit of Vice and learned that Bishop Caladir Emethen has met with Mistress Loathari several times in the past to discuss her infiltration of the Church, though what that means is still up in the air.

They brought their findings to Chamberlain Dostar, who agreed to take a quiet approach in the matter but would try to force Emethen’s hand regarding the known cultists. Acting on a tip from Master Drake about where to find one of the odd pyramids discovered in Sarubel, the party headed north to the mountains. On their way there they ran into a village supposedly suffering from a “werewolf problem,” though when they spoke with the village elder it became apparent that this was false. Malachi (the village elder as played by H. Jon Benjamin), informed them that this was a scam designed to deter bandits and raiders. Malachi was then carried off in the morning by a peryton, and the party chased after him.

A Nerathi watchtower in the mountainside proved to be the nesting ground of the perytons. Inside, a small host of the Phantom Brigade (an order of Nerathi knights whose service bound them even past death) held guard over some ancient Nerathi treasures.

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Big Damn Heroes

After conferring with Chamberlain Dostar, the party worked out a deal with Littleknight to leave both Marcoius and House Ithronost alone. Littleknight was all too happy to help and even offered the party a monetary compensation for their troubles, which they politely declined.

Afterward, they followed what they were sure was a trap under the guise of finding out more about the infiltration of the Church of Pelor. Sure enough, it was a trap: Lo-Kag, a goliath animal handler for House Lorain, had brought some of his pets along to eat the party, including an otyugh and a beholder gauth. The party made short work of them and questioned Lo-Kag, who gladly informed them that he had been paid by Thrask to set the beasts upon the party. The party quickly surmised that Thrask and the White Crescent had made some connections within Lorain earlier, but had no clue how Thrask had come by the knowledge of the diabolical cult.

The party escorted Lo-Kag to the Pit, where they hoped for him to hide out until he could work for them. There, they found a frenzied mob preparing to burn Golfang and his tribe. They won over the crowd and put an end to the spectacle, whereupon they discovered that the ringleader was a doppelganger. But why would anyone want to rile up the Pit, of all places?

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...Jokers to the Right

The party returned to town to find the city preparing for the upcoming tourney. Soon thereafter, they found that Marcoius was in dire trouble; his debt had been bought by unscrupulous halflings and he was being extorted for far more than he owed. After conferring with Weyland and his partner, the party arranged a meeting with the responsible parties to work out an arrangement. The meeting soon turned bloody, and the criminals quickly dropped a dime on their employers in exchange for leniency.

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Clowns to the Left of Me...

The party decided to put the screws to Grigor for having taken the dwarves of Belhaven on what seemed like a suicide mission. They learned the following:

  • Grigor is a necromancer of some ilk;
  • His companion, Darella Stonesoul, is a warlock sworn to an unknown powerful magic user;
  • His plan was to take the dwarves west to Caernaeth, there to acquire some powerful necromantic artifacts;
  • He would use these artifacts to raise an army of the dead to assault Harlode;
  • He didn’t give a damn if the dwarves died;
  • He was looking for an apprentice in Theadora and his next choice was in Karkoth;
  • In addition to being a necromancer, he is a blackguard.

The party also learned the true story of the fall of Boresas Ironback. They also learned about the “curse” of the Tamin family line: the family actually comes from a disgraced line of vryloka: Veaceslav Tamin disgraced the family by becoming a vampire, and raised his son Alyosha Tamin as a vryloka after accidentally killing him. It’s rumored that both may still be alive.

The party decided they’d had enough of this and planned to overtake Grigor in the morning. However, during the night Darella was able to observe Kresh winning over the dwarves and assembling them as the Ironbacks, his own personal army. She then informed Grigor and they made their escape to the Shadowfell by means of a magical scroll.

The party began its return to the city, but quickly noticed something was amiss in the nearby freeholder villages. Investigation and rescue attempts followed, with a short if brutal encounter with what turned out to be the Iron Circle. It became apparent that the Circle is expanding its grasp in the name of the Prince of Hell, and that there may be a concerted effort on the part of the Hells to conquer the world.

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Chasing the Past

Renard and Kresh each found themselves in search of Grigor Ulyfdar. Renard investigated his curse and found that Lord Grigor was the last known link to his family’s curse, and Kresh found that Grigor had come through town within the last few days and recruited some dwarves to retake Harlode. Upon catching up with Grigor, the party found that a band of gnolls and goblins had ambushed Grigor’s caravan and abducted most of the dwarves.

To make a long story short, the party rescued the captives and kicked some ass. That’s the lesson here; the take-away is that these guys will beat your balls blue if you screw with something they care about.

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Homecoming

The orcs outside, under the command of the Blackhammer, offered to escort the party home. Suspicions were of course raised. Gruzer, an orog of the Hearteaters, took exception and demanded that the Blackhammer kill the party. Blackhammer informed Gruzer that if he wanted it done, he could do it himself; Blackhammer then informed the party that it would be best to take care of the situation immediately since a confrontation with Gruzer was inevitable. the party of course bested Gruzer and cowed the rest of the warband.

The warband escorted the party to the edges of the forest, claiming that beyond that point lay the land of elves. Within the forest, the party confronted some bandit drow who turned out to be cut off from access to their homeland. After brief negotiations, the party gave the drow some of their supplies and went on their way.

In town, the following things happened:

  • Theadora got noticed by some ghosts, and learned that the dead fear her.
  • Kresh pumped up his legend, got drunk, and got some from an impressionable foreigner.
  • Luke discovered that his father had taken his advice and sent some of the clowder off to join the Order of the Turning Wheel.
  • Lyrabel and Derreth learned a number of things, including that Thrask had been looking for Luke, and that Luke was not exactly as squeaky clean as he seemed.
  • Renard left some money for his parents, inflated his parents’ standing with the Temple of Kord, and learned that he fathered a child with Mirunai Emethen.

Later, the party gathered at the Duke’s Mastery at the request of the Chamberlain. There, they met with Dominic (inquisitor within the Church of Pelor) and Caladir Emethen (a Bishop within the Church). Word of the diabolical cult within the Church had gotten out somehow and the Pelorites wished to work with the party in investigating the issue, although Dominic seemed more interested in pinning blame on Derreth than anything else and so got himself ejected from the meeting.

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Dragon's Lair

The party navigated its way through the lair of Echilacastryx the steel dragon, beset on all side by oozes, automata, and the undead. After a long and arduous journey, the party laid the dragon’s wraith to rest and claimed its treasures, including the Rod of Seven Parts. Outside, orcs gathered to await the party’s exit.

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Full Circles

The forces of Ethelgrad, Aric Lyonne, and the goblin chieftain were narrowly defeated. During interrogation, Lyonne confessed to directing the bandit strikes under the orders of an unknown individual in Belhaven’s Church of Pelor. Ethelgrad divulged that the situation with the cult of Asmodeus may be wider-ranging than previously suspected, extending at least into the Elsir and Nentir Vales to the north. Kresh then brutally killed Ethelgrad, and both he and Theadora kept tokens for themselves.

Given the choice between death, exile, or service, Aric Lyonne chose to join with the Knights of the Turning Wheel in an attempt to atone for his misdeeds. The party headed back to Belhaven, whereupon they were confronted by the City Watch. At first the guards merely had questions about Golfang‘s goblin tribe, which had come to the area to settle and ended up in Hobb’s Pit. After a minute or two, however, it became apparent that the City Watch wanted more from them.

House Delrenn had made allegations against the party relating to their actions on the waterfront. Thankfully, the Inspector in charge of the investigation was Renard’s brother Weyland, who agreed to cover for the group but asked them to produce a plausible alibi, which was easily done.

The infernal device was brought to Master Drake, who inferred that it was a component of a vast summoning circle meant to bridge the world and the Nine Hells. Its purpose might have been to bring through an army or to bring through a powerful devil at least on the order of an Archdevil if not Asmodeus himself. He sent the party to an abandoned lair of a steel dragon to find the Rod of Seven Parts, which he felt would at the very least help in confronting the threat if not figuring out where the rest of the device might be.

On the way to the lair, the party was waylaid by orcs during a thunderstorm on top of a waterfall, which was awesome.

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Bandit Hunting

The party arrived in Sarubel at last. Outside of town, they were greeted by Bulwark, who was chasing down one of the goblin scouts sent last time. After a brief discussion, they learned that Ethelgrad was with the bandits that plagued the town, and Bulwark asked the party to investigate owing to a lack of manpower on the part of his order.

Within town, the party quickly found a trail leading to an incoming shipment which was likely to be robbed. They arrived on the scene of a brutal goblin attack and saved the sinking barge and the merchant family that owned it. The goblins had tried to steal a particular crate destined for Aric Lyonne, the guildmaster of the Merchants’ Guild, which contained blueprints for some manner of arcane device connected to the Nine Hells. The blueprints were stamped with the seal of the Church of Pelor.

The party headed to the guildhouse and met with a small amount of opposition before discovering Lyonne in his office along with Ethelgrad and the goblin chieftain.

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Is Golfang Tribe

Continuing their dungeon exploits, the party confronted a work crew of demons and their master expanding their underground holding. After a quick scuffle, they learned that Ethelgrad left that evening for Sarubel and that there were very few of Yeenoghu’s cult actually left in Belhaven. The party opted to head straight for Sarubel.

Along the way, they got sidetracked by Golfang, who defused a pitiful goblin ambush and asked for their help with mysterious night raids on their village. The goblins sent ahead riders to find Ethelgrad’s trail while After some investigation, the PCs determined that bullywugs from the local swamp had carried away the tribe’s supplies, children, and warriors.

Once in the swamp, the PCs easily defeated the bulk of the bullywug forces, pressing on to chase the stragglers. What they found within the larger swamp area was a young black dragon which had tricked the bullywugs into worshiping him. A brutal fight ensued, leading to the dragon’s frantic escape and promises of retribution.

The dragon’s would-be hoard was looted, supplies returned (goblins having served as fodder for the wyrm), and the tribe was encouraged to stop raiding and become productive in some fashion under the leadership of Golfang. Derreth suggested that the goblins could become brewers, for example. As the party began to leave, Golfang showed them a shortcut that would make up for some of their lost time.

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