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Wrath of the Righteous - Adventures of the Great Hero (may contain spoilers)


Campaign Journals

Scarab Sages

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A couple of years ago, one of my gaming friends decided to start running the Wrath of the Righteous Adventure Path. Unfortunately after we'd played only four or five sessions, the vicissitudes of life intervened and we had to put the game on indefinite hiatus.

A couple of months ago my friend who is GMing this campaign finally felt he was ready to resume. Unfortunately in the intervening time period I had misplaced my session notes, so the information I have about what happened during those initial sessions is pretty minimal. But I thought I'd start journaling my summaries of our sessions, beginning with a brief recap of how the campaign began.

I've decided to sub-title this "Adventures of the Great Hero" because Jiro has a Destiny, but up to this point he was a lowly gardener. He has no combat or armor training, and has been afraid to actually hit anyone. My character, Asami, has been sent as his protector and finds him a bit trying.

Note: Most of the players other than myself are using classes from the Advanced Class Guide.

Player Characters:
Aegronius - male half-elf slayer
Asamiel no Seimei - female elf wizard (me)
Fairuna - female half-orc warpriest of Iomedae (my husband)
Jiro - male human shaman
Zosta - female human brawler

Asamiel no Seimei and Jiro both come from Tian Xia. Asamiel was not born there, but has lived for years in Jinin, the elven kingdom there. Jiro was born in Minkai. Jiro, who had been a gardener for a noble family, discovered that he was actually a bastard son of said family. The Council of the Golden Flame determined that it was Jiro's destiny to go to the far-away Worldwound to prevent the oni from using it to emerge into the world. The Council believed that the barbaric westerners were incapable of dealing with oni as well as the people of Tian Xia could. Asami was sent by the Council to accompany Jiro and look after him. Jiro was also accompanied by Uncle, an unusually intelligent and mischievous monkey who he believes is the reincarnation of one of his ancestors.

Fairuna (Runa for short) was sent by Iomedae to join the fight against the demons at the Worldwound. Zosta had gone to the city of Kenabres to visit her parents, who were the bodyguards of a barbarian priestess named Cennami. Aegronius came to Kenabres with a companion seeking work, but after the arrived his companion left. The five PCs met on arriving in Kenabres, where Cennami took charge of them and began their training in fighting demons. This training included fighting a redeemed demon named Rhino who was willingly helping to teach the barbarians and their allies to be better demon fighters (Rhino is a reference back to an old player character run by the GM in another campaign).

After the group had been in Kenabres for a short while, they attended a festival in the city. As one of the important officials of the forces defending the Worldwound made a speech, the crowd suddenly saw a demon lord appear, locked in battle with the city's silver dragon protector, Telendrev. Then a crack opened up in the earth and the five newcomers plummeted into it. As they fell, they saw Telendrev suffer a mortal wound. But before they could plunge to their deaths, the dragon cast a feather fall spell on them all. This didn't prevent them from being knocked unconscious by the long drop, but it did save their lives.

After they recovered consciousness, the group began seeking a way to get back to the surface. But first they each found a single scale presumably from Telendrev. These scales would grant them several different magical powers when used. After discovering the scales, they began exploring the tunnels in which they had landed and discovered that other people had also fallen through the crevice that opened in Kenabres: Anivia, a human woman who had suffered a broken leg in the fall; Aravashniel, an elf wizard who had been blinded by the demon that attacked Telendrev; and Horgus, a scholarly nobleman who had somehow avoided any injury. Asami was excited to learn that Aravashniel was a Riftwarden like her parents, who had died defending the Worldwound. The five young companion lacked enough healing magic to heal Anivia's leg or restore Aravashniel's vision, so they did what they could and helped the injured to walk as they continued searching for a way back up to the city.

As they explored, they stumbled upon a site where someone had camped, but no sign of the campsite's original occupant other than an emblem in the shape of a bat, which Runa picked up. Later on they also had an encounter with a dwarf. They were unable to determine if the dwarf had also fallen into the subterranean caverns or if he had already been there, for he seemed to have lost his mind and immediately attacked them, forcing them to kill him in self-defense. Afterward they discovered that he had been a wizard. Asami took charge of his spellbook, as Aravashniel couldn't see to use it and no one else could employ arcane magic. When they paused to rest, Aravashniel loaned her some materials so she could copy one of the spells into her own spellbook.

The above brings us up to the point where the game went on hiatus three years ago. Now we pick up with our revived campaign.

Scarab Sages

February 7, 2016 restart

As they wandered through the underground, the lost party found that to proceed they were obliged to climb up a shaft into a very large cavern, which contained stone arches that reminded them of a temple. The floor of the cavern was cracked, and there was a tall stone tower which had collapsed. Runa caught a glimpse of something under the collapsed tower, which turned out to be one of the mongrelmen who lived beneath the city. The mongrelman, whose name was Lan, told them that his companion had become trapped under some rocks that shifted when the tower fell. After Jiro allayed his fears a little, the group lifted the rocks and freed Lan’s companion Krell, who like Anivia had suffered a broken leg. Lan explained that the fallen tower was a watchtower, and that he, his mute companion Dyra, and Krell had been on watch when it collapsed. Lan told the group from the surface that he knew of a way to get back to the surface, but it would require first going to the mongrelmen city to talk to their chief.

The enlarged group continued onward, eventually coming upon a large chasm which they must cross. Aegron strung ropes across it, but despite the ropes Runa fell in, overburdened by her heavy armor and weapons. Aegron had to pull her out after she removed her armor and weapons and sent them out separately. The group formed a cradle of ropes to carry across the injured Anivia and Krell and the blind Aravashniel.

Once they had overcome the chasm, the party next encountered a circular cavern, which Lan warned was inhabited by ‘spore coughers’, a kind of fungus, that would attack anyone who entered the cavern. He advised that the fungus creatures disliked fire. The group spotted two bodies in the cavern, wearing the robes of priests of Iomedae. Jiro crept up to examine them and found that both were dead. The fungus was dead too, but it didn’t appear that the fungus had killed the two men. Both bore wounds caused by weapons. Aegron noticed that one of the men had a small brass bull’s head with red gemstone eyes clutched in his hand. Several of the other members of the group recognized this object as an unholy symbol of Baphomet, and Runa realized that the men weren’t carrying the traditional longswords of priests of Iomedae. Instead they carried glaives, the holy weapons of Baphomet. They must be imposters.

Lan told the group that he and his people had seen many other men like these in the caverns recently. The bodies were searched, revealing another curative potion and a scroll of cause fear. The group decided to make a litter from the glaives and carry one of the corpses with them, so that when they returned to the surface they could show the priests of Iomedae that there may be infiltrators in their midst.

Suddenly three men also wearing the garb of Ioemedae’s priesthood appeared on the other side of the cavern, wielding bows. Two of them shot Asami and she collapsed. Runa blessed the group, and Aegron rushed up to meet the three enemies. Jiro cast a cure spell on Asami, who was on the verge of death. Runa charged the assailants. Zosta also moved forward, facing a man who dropped his bow and revealed spiked gauntlets. Aravashniel summoned a large lizard and commanded it to attack anyone firing bows, as he couldn’t see what was happening and didn’t realize that the newly recovered Asami was about to fire her bow at their foes.

Asami abandoned using her bow and sent a magic missile at the man in front of Zosta, who fell. The other two enemy archers fired their bows but missed their targets. Jiro followed the example of his companions and rushed forward, but he also failed to connect. Aegron knocked down another of the enemies. Jiro, Zosta, and the lizard attacked the remaining man and overcame him.

Runa then suggested that the one living man be taken prisoner and taken to the surface instead of as a corpse. On the bodies, the group members found two cure light wounds potions and a quantity of arrows.

After everyone had recovered from the fight, Lan guided the group to an enormous cavern with a lake in the center, where the mongrelmen city sat on an island in the midst of the water. They were carried to the island on rafts assembled of various materials. The bat symbol Runa had picked up at the abandoned campsite turned out to have belonged to the son of the mongrelmen's chief. His son had left after a disagreement with his father. Though the chief was initially insulted by some things Aravashniel said about the subterranean folk, Asami shushed Aravashniel and the other members of the group managed to be more diplomatic. The chief agreed to help in the fight against the demons after he was told what had happened in Kenabres and Runa returned his son's bat symbol and told him of how the surface dwellers had found his empty campsite. The chief presented the party members with a bandolier containing six potions of cure light wounds and three potions of lesser restoration. He also gave them a morningstar. In addition they had acquired five chain shirts from the false priests.

After their meeting with the chief, the group planned to join the mongrelmen in an attack on the false priests’ underground camp.

Loot:
Spellbook: all cantrips, color spray, mage armor, magic missile, grease, detect secret doors, blur, levitate, fog cloud, invisibility, resist energy, shocking grasp, silent image
Scroll of cause fear
Unholy symbol of Baphomet
Two glaives
Five chain shirts
Six potions of cure light wounds
Three potions of lesser restoration
Morningstar
42 arrows

Scarab Sages

February 28, 2016
Session 2

Previously: Chief Sull, leader of the mongrelmen, had told the party that the route back to the surface led through territory held by some bad mongrelmen. He also told them that the priests of Baphomet had already been present in the caverns prior to the attack on Kenabres.

The group sold some of the items they had acquired in fighting the Baphomet priests and the mad dwarf. They each gained 116 gp from the transaction.

The mongrelmen village had no inn, so that night the group stayed in a communal space. During their relaxation time, Aravanshiel permitted Asami to scribe the spell acid arrow from his spellbook into her own. That evening while Runa took the third watch, she was bitten by a spider. In the morning as they were preparing to leave, Jiro spotted a spirit, which Zosta refused to believe was real.

Lan escorted the party out of his village. He didn’t personally know the way to the surface, but knew the correct direction to travel. Shortly after leaving the village on the lake, they entered a narrow passageway, only wide enough for them to walk in single file. They could see the marks of chisels on its walls. Suddenly Lan spotted something blocking the crevice. A wooden barricade about five feet high had been built where the passage widened. There was one sentry visible behind the barrier.

Runa took the lead in speaking to the sentry, who demanded that she go forward alone. Aegron and Zosta also moved forward to be a little closer to her, but only Runa approached the barrier. The sentry appeared to be talking to someone else and stalling for time. They heard some type of alarm given as someone shouted from behind the barricade. Runa tried to convince the guard to let her pass by showing the Baphomet holy symbol she carried and taking on an imperious tone, but the mongrelman sentry didn’t appear to be convinced, so she ran around the barrier to attack him. Aegron also threw a javelin at him but missed.

A second mongrelman appeared behind the barricade to attack Runa. Jiro ran forward to join his companions in attacking the barricade guards. Zosta leaped over the wall and kicked the sentry. Asami ran forward, leaving Aravashniel, Anivia, and Horgus behind. She paused to cast mage armor on herself before approaching the barrier. The wall sentry shouted, “Help! Faster!” to someone else.

Two more mongrelmen had emerged from a door behind the barricade and attacked Runa, seriously injuring her. She had to drink a potion to heal her wounds. Zosta hit the wall sentry and he collapsed. Asami ran around the barrier and hurled her splintered spear at one of the mongrelmen. Jiro was fighting another of them using the morningstar Chief Sull had gifted to the group, while protecting himself from a second foe with a stone shield. Jiro smashed his opponent with his morningstar. The mongrelman who had hit Runa fled. Aegron pursued him, but wasn’t able to hit him. Asami threw her spear at one of Jiro’s foes but missed. The fleeing mongrelman ran through the door and shut it behind him. One of the remaining enemies struck Jiro a dire blow, but Jiro hit back with equal force and killed his opponent. Despite being very reluctant to take up arms, Jiro was becoming a warrior.

Aegron opened the door and found the mongrelman he’d been chasing lying just beyond it, collapsed from the wounds he’d suffered. The last mongrelman behind the barrier fell after Asami directed a ray of frost at him. The group then was able to pass through the doorway. There they found three rooms, one of them set up as a bunk room. A large lizard charged Aegron and bit him, then held on. Asami and Zosta attacked it to get it to release Aegron. After it died Jiro realized that its bite was poisonous, but the group had no way of neutralizing the poison. Jiro could only keep an eye on Aegron and treat his symptoms.

There was no one else in the other rooms, and Asami determined that they contained nothing magical. The group went on through a door leading out of the bunk room. As Zosta opened the door, someone shot her twice with a crossbow, and she saw a dark figure apparently disappear into the floor. Runa went into the room first, finding no one, and located another door in a corner. Aegron found that the attacker had descended a rope ladder that led down from the room’s other far corner. He descended the ladder, while Runa opened the door she had found.

The door Runa opened led to a downward sloping ramp and a heap of garbage, apparently serving as the mongrelmens’ trash midden. Her foot slipped and she slid down the ramp into the rubbish, where she discovered that garbage wasn’t the only thing at the bottom of the ramp. Something hidden under the offal grabbed her and burned her with acid. Zosta pulled a rope out of her pack, and Asami cast animate rope on it to drag Runa away from the creature, which Jiro identified as a giant amoeba. When Asami, Jiro, and Zosta all hauled on the rope, they were able to haul Runa away from the amoeba’s grasp.

Meanwhile Aegron had found more mongrelmen at the bottom of the ladder, too many for him to handle on his own. He was shot several times and collapsed, unconscious. By the time Jiro looked down the ladder, he saw only bloodstains on the floor below but no sign of Aegron. He climbed down the ladder to find another barrier similar to the one they had encountered in the crevice outside. Runa then descended the ladder also, but her heavy armor caused her to lose her grip and fall. She landed prone at the bottom, swearing loudly, which alerted the mongrelmen that more people had entered the chamber. A second battle ensued. Aravashniel summoned a celestial monitor lizard to help the group battle the mongrelmen, which helped to produce a quick defeat for the mongrelmen defenders.

The last surviving mongrelman pleaded for mercy and said he would tell them where Aegron was. Jiro approached the door beyond the barricade and heard labored breathing coming from the other side. The mongrelman told them that Aegron was on the other side of that door. He also told them that the leader of the mongrelmen was a human woman named Hosilla, who had slain their previous leader. Jiro opened the door to see Aegron lying on a table, and yet more doorways leading out of the room.

Scarab Sages

March 13, 2016
Session 3

Note: I forgot to say enough about Uncle, Jiro's spirit animal. He's a monkey, and he's much more clever and intelligent than an ordinary spirit animal. He's probably got a higher Intelligence score than Jiro. Our GM likes to tinker with the rules a bit.
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The chamber in which Aegron was discovered appeared to a be natural cavern. In the center stood a stone table, to which Aegron was bound. He appeared to be barely conscious. Several members of the group realized that there was something strange about Aegron, and also that their senses seemed less sharp here than usual.

At the end of the stone table, a figure crouched in an ornate chair. This person, who proved to be female, threatened the group and refused to release Aegron, even when Runa offered gold in exchange for safe passage. To demonstrate that she was not intimidated by this woman, Runa placed a blessing on her sword blade, which provoked the woman to fire her bow at Runa. Runa responded with a swing of her blade. Jiro jumped up on the table, and Uncle ran under a chair. The archer shot Runa a second time. Zosta leaped over the table, accidentally stepping on Aegron in the process, and realized when she did that there was no body there. The figure lying on the table was an illusion. She shouted angrily as she vaulted down and punched the archer. Asami sent a magic missile hurtling at the woman with the bow.

Jiro attempted to touch Aegron and he too discovered that there was actually nothing lying on the table. He called out, “What have you done with our friend?” The woman did not reply, instead shooting Runa again. Jiro tried to hit her with his morningstar but missed his aim. The woman then fired an arrow at him. Zosta attempted to take the bow from the archer, but she failed. Asami took a scroll from her pack and produced another magic missile. After being struck by the missile of force, the archer collapsed. At the same moment, a door behind where the woman had fallen opened, revealing another woman standing in the opening in front of Zosta.

Through the open doorway, Zosta could see racks, tables, and two cages in the next cavern. The woman standing before her held a glaive in one hand, and a book in the other. The woman said, “You need to leave.” Behind her, Zosta observed that on two of the tables were dioramas of what appeared to be Kenabres and some wilderness terrain. Both dioramas suddenly seemed to dissolve into loose sand, which then vanished.

Runa stepped closer, and the woman with the glaive sneered, “I’ll enjoy killing you.” The woman wore a symbol of Baphomet on her belt. Runa threatened to slay the archer. In response, the woman spoke a command word and a spiritual weapon appeared, a duplicate of the glaive she held. The magical glaive immediately dealt a fatal blow to the fallen archer.

Jiro announced with confidence, “There’s nothing you can do to stop us getting our friend,” but his words didn’t intimidate the woman. Jiro then took the opportunity to drink a curative potion, glancing through the open doorway as he did so. He could see that Aegron was imprisoned in one of the cages.

Zosta reached out and snatched the book out of the woman’s hand. The woman responded by saying, “You’ll pay for that!” Asami, whose supply of prepared spells was rapidly depleting, went into the outer room to fetch Aravashniel, Anivia, and Horgus. While she led them into the cavern where the rest of the party were facing the priestess of Baphomet, the woman’s spiritual weapon attacked Runa. Runa was now seriously injured, so she withdrew from the area, hurrying out of the room so that the summmoned weapon couldn’t follow her when she got of the woman’s sight. Jiro then stepped toward the woman, grabbed a ring of keys from her belt, and ran into the room where Aegron was imprisoned. At the same time, Zosta disarmed the woman of her glaive and flung the book away, where it was picked up by Uncle.

Asami borrowed Aravashniel’s wand of false life and used it to cast the spell on the wounded Runa, enabling her to return to the fight with the follower of Baphomet after she also drank a healing potion. The woman tried to command Zosta, but Zosta resisted her spell. Jiro meanwhile ran across the room containing the cages and gave the keys to Aegron, who was in much better health than his illusory duplicate had appeared to be. Aegron then unlocked his cage and emerged. Zosta tried to pummel the woman but her blows failed to connect, and Anivia fired arrows at her, but due to the number of people in the way she was also unable to strike her target. Asami used her last scroll of magic missile against the woman. The woman drew a dagger and attacked Zosta.

Jiro moved around behind the woman to flank with Zosta. The woman put her hand on the glaive that Zosta now held and spoke the command word again, producing another spiritual weapon, but also allowing Zosta to learn the word. She pulled the glaive out of Zosta’s grasp and backed into the room with the cages. Aegron struck at her with a battleaxe, and Runa moved in to attack. Uncle also followed them into the room, ostentatiously holding the book up and ripping out a page. But Zosta could see from her vantage that the monkey was actually tearing an exhausted spell scroll. Zosta followed the woman and once again snatched her glaive away from her, while Asami attempted to harm her with a ray of frost that went wide of the mark. The woman then commanded Zosta again, this time successfully, causing Zosta to flee the room, but Zosta carried the glaive with her when she ran.

Inside the cage room, the woman drank a potion. Runa swung her sword, but as she did the woman disappeared. Asami entered the room and warned her companions to be quiet in case the potion had been one of invisibility. No one heard anything, so Asami and Runa began swinging their weapons through the air hoping to make contact with the woman, though they had no success.

Aegron found that the occupant of the other cage was still alive, barely, and released him. Jiro suggested that Aravashniel summon an earth elemental that could sense the positions of any creatures nearby, but unfortunately no one in the group could speak the language of earth creatures. Jiro was still able to make himself understood by the creature, which pointed toward the outer area from which the party had entered the room with the stone table. Then Zosta heard the woman’s voice curse her and everyone heard rapid footsteps. Somehow the woman had been able to creep past everyone searching for her and she now ran out of the cavern toward the rope ladder leading up.

Everyone ran after her, but they were unable to catch her before she could ascend the ladder. Jiro then decided to tie a pot and spoon to the ladder to act as an alarm in the event she returned. To Zosta’s surprise, a compartment suddenly opened up on the glaive shaft and ejected a wand. That explained how the woman had been able to cast spiritual weapon from her glaive. Asami examined the wand and determined that it still contained seven charges of the spell.

Aegron learned that the other prisoner’s name was Garvin, and that he was a veteran of the crusades. He estimated he had been a prisoner in the cavern for a week. The followers of Baphomet had kidnapped him and questioned him about the locations of various things in Kenabres. The party members told him what had happened in Kenabres a few days earlier, including the apparent death of Telendrev. They also searched the dead archer, finding two potions of cure light wounds, a wand of longstrider with 10 charges, a masterwork shirt of chainmail, and a masterwork longbow. Asami also appraised the woman’s book, which Uncle had not damaged. It was a jeweled book of prayers to Baphomet worth 50 gold pieces.

After determing there was nothing else of use or value in the rooms where they had fought the woman, the group went on to explore another side room. This one held a desk, chair, and fur-covered bed, as well as an iron lockbox. The lockbox key was on the ring of keys Jiro had appropriated. Within the box they found a leather pouch containing an assortment of gems, a scroll case holding two scrolls, and a golden longsword that radiated magic. When Runa attempted to examine the sword to determine its properties, she suddenly fainted.

Her companions were startled and confused by her sudden collapse, but Asami assumed she had merely been overwhelmed by strong magic, and she began to examine the sword herself. Her mind was suddenly filled with information: this blade was Radiance, the legendary sword of the great demon-slayer Yaniel. It had been held in the Gray Garrison, but had recently been stolen by the Templars of the Ivory Labyrinth. The followers of Baphomet had likely intended to corrupt it for their use. Its powers had gone dormant after Yaniel’s assassination, but it was still a powerful blade of cold iron. The experience of receiving this information left Asami with a headache.

When Runa revived a few minutes later, she was able to glean some of the same information from the sword. As Runa was a follower of Iomedae like Yaniel, her companions encouraged her to take the sword, though it lacked a scabbard and would be awkward to carry.

They also looked through the papers they found in the desk and were rewarded with a bounty of information. One report told the woman, Hosilla, to go to three safehouses in Kenabres: Nyserian Manor, Topaz Solutions, and the Tower of Estrod. Horgus recognized the signature on the missive as that of Staunton Vhane, the traitorous warden of Drezen, whose treachery had been exposed by Anivia’s wife, Irabeth. Horgus knew that Vhane had tried to make arrangements to buy Irabeth’s sword, presumably after having Irabeth killed. It now seemed imperative for the group to reach the surface and warn the temple of Iomedae of the infiltrators in the city, as well as to warn Irabeth of the danger to her from Vhane and his compatriots.

After they had finished searching the room, the group climbed up out of the caverns safely, finding no sign of Hosilla. Next they opened another door they had bypassed earlier, finding beyond it a cavern filled with shelves of preserved creatures such as dire rats, and two unoccupied bedrolls. They also found an iron ladder leading downward and another door. When Aegron listened at the door he heard the sound of running water. He opened the door, which was unlocked. It led into a hallway into darkness. Jiro peered into the passage and spotted an open shaft with a knotted rope hanging down into it.

While the rest of the group waited at the top of the shaft, Aegron, Jiro, and Zosta descended the rope. Aegron noticed something peculiar across the pool of moving water that lay at the bottom of the shaft. The three of them waded into the water to investigate, and Aegron was suddenly bitten by an albino cave gar. He and Zosta quickly killed it, as well as a second gar that swam up to them. Aegron and Jiro then entered a cave beyond the pool, which held an old, dusty chest. As Aegron started to approach the chest he realized that there was a trap in the floor and managed to jump out of the way, but Jiro was too slow and fell into a pit, wounding his leg on one of the spikes set into the bottom. After Aegron helped him back out, they opened the chest. Within it they found 250 gold pieces, a wooden shield, a twine ring of climbing, two potions of darkvision, a scroll of identify, and a scroll of magic fang. Asami examined all of the magic items to identify their properties.

Having found no exit near the pool, the group members realized they would have to descend the iron ladder to seek a way back to the surface.

Loot acquired:
2 potions of cure light wounds
Wand of longstrider, 10 charges
Masterwork chain shirt
Masterwork longbow (given to Aegron)
Wand of spiritual weapon. 7 charges (given to Jiro)
3 lapis lazuli chips, 10 gp each
2 bloodstones, 50 gp each
Citrine 50 gp
Pearl 100 gp
Scroll of bear’s endurance
Scroll of remove disease
Radiance: +1 cold iron longsword (given to Runa)
250 gp
+1 wooden shield
Ring of climbing
2 potions of darkvision
Scroll of identify
Scroll of magic fang
Jeweled prayer book 50 gp

Scarab Sages

March 20, 2016
Session 4

I also neglected to mention Asami's familiar, Kirara, a small white cat. As I said before, the GM likes to tweak the rules a bit, so when Asami is able to have an improved familiar, Kirara will transform into a silvanshee agathion rather than be dismissed and replaced by one. And yes, Kirara is named after Sango's companion from the anime Inu Yasha.

This is the last session of Wrath of the Righteous to date. We'll probably resume in a few weeks.
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The small band of survivors decided to descend the iron ladder in search of the exit from the subterranean caverns. Aegron dropped a sunrod down to the bottom of the ladder and descended first. He was almost immediately attacked by a trio of unusually large rats. Runa climbed down to help him, assisted by the ring of climbing she now wore. Aravashniel summoned a badger to fight the rats as well, and Zosta vaulted down the ladder shaft to join in the battle. Jiro lay down on the ground at the top of the ladder to see better and used the wand of spiritual weapon he had just acquired, which in his hands produced a tetsubo of force.

To Asami’s surprise, her familiar Kirara jumped down the ladder shaft also, bounding off the summoned badger and then pouncing on one of the large rats. Asami couldn’t see what happened, but Zosta witnessed the small white cat slashing out the rat’s eyes.

When all three rats had been slain, Jiro determined that they were not ordinary dire rats but some unusual variety. Like other dire rats, they probably carried disease to inflict on those they had bitten. But the group had only a single scroll of remove disease available to them and would have to wait to see if anyone had been infected.

Once everyone had climbed down the ladder they continued on down the narrow passage that led away from it. Aegron took the lead again after consuming a potion of darkvision. Ahead he saw another barricade of salvaged materials, manned by two mongrelmen. The mongrelmens’ overheard conversation indicated they were stalling for time. Aegron also heard other voices beyond them.

Jiro and Zosta attempted to convince the mongrelmen to let the group pass, trying to intimidate them by demonstrating that they had taken Hosilla’s prayer book and glaive, but the mongrelmen replied that Hosilla had commanded them to kill the intruders. Then two people emerged from a room behind the barrier. Asami and several of her companions recognized that one of the new arrivals was a cultist of Baphomet, while the other was a follower of another demon lord, Deskari. These two new arrivals warned that there were several dretches left by Hosilla beyond the barrier. The recognition that both people served demon lords provoked Jiro, who suddenly attacked them with another spiritual weapon.

One of the two cultists cast a spell that caused Aegron and Zosta to drop their weapons. Asami attempted several times to target the enemies with ray of frost but failed to hit anyone. Zosta and Aegron recovered and joined Jiro and Runa in attacking the two mongrelmen and the two cultists. One of the cultists channeled negative energy and succeeded in injuring several members of the group from the surface. When the mongrelmen fell, the cultists started to retreat through a doorway behind them, but one of them was slain before he could escape. The second cultists fled.

After the cultist vanished from sight, Jiro and Asami quickly searched the bodies of the fallen and found two potions of cure light wounds. Then the group entered the chamber beyond the barricade. Suddenly a noxious fog filled the chamber, causing several members of the party to become nauseated. Asami identified the fog as a stinking cloud spell. She ran back out past the barrier to get away from it, while Jiro, Runa, Zosta, and Aegron ran farther into the area that lay beyond it. Something in the cloud caused Zosta to become frightened and she rushed back out of the room, dodged past Asami and the rest of the group, and climbed up the ladder before anyone could do anything to stop her.

Meanwhile the rest of those in the chamber encountered two dretches, which they slew, but not before one of them summoned a third dretch which cast another stinking cloud. It also caused Aegron to flee as Zosta had done. Fortunately the effect on Aegron didn’t last as long as that affecting Zosta. When Zosta recovered she returned and entered the area of the cloud, finding and attacking one of the dretches.

After all the dretches had been slain and the stinking cloud dissipated, the group learned that the room beyond the barricade was a small labyrinth, probably constructed by the followers of Baphomet. They made their way through the maze and emerged into a tunnel that appeared to be an old sewer tunnel. A short time later they came to a series of iron ladders leading to the surface.

As they emerged once more in Kenabres, they found the city transformed. Clouds of black smoke hung overhead and the streets were filled with rubble. They saw few signs of people. The ladders had led them into the city far south of the compound where they hoped to find Cennami and Zosta’s parents safe.

The four companions had agreed to escort Horgus to his home for a payment of a thousand gold pieces. Anivia also wanted to find her wife, Irabeth, and Aravashniel wanted to be taken to a place called Blackwing Ruins. Since Aravashniel’s destination seemed closest and they needed a place to rest and recuperate in safety, they decided to go there first. Everyone was hurt, they were nearly out of spells, and they had only a single curative potion left.

They had hardly begun to make their way toward their goal when Jiro saw something he had never expected to see in Kenabres: several kami, which seemed to be anxiously beckoning for him to come to a nearby shop. The group followed Jiro to the shop, where a man conducted them inside, explaining that he had opened the door because something had written the message “Unlock the door” in the dust on the countertop. Then they heard music from outside. Zosta and Runa peeked out through the cracks in the shutters and saw an unusual group of people, led by a floating woman playing a flute. Jiro’s companion Uncle the monkey appeared terrified. Another message appeared on the counter, this time written in Tian: “Beware what’s outside.”

When Asami and Jiro joined their comrades at the windows, Jiro was shocked to recognize one of the people in the street as his half-brother. The group outside had clearly come from Tian Xia. Then Jiro was suddenly possessed by several kami, which allowed him to perceive that his brother had also been possessed, by an eight-tailed fox demon! Even more shocking was the revelation that his brother had willingly accepted this possession.

At the same time, Asami recognized that the people in the group were probably members of the Order of the Black Orchid, a group diametrically opposed to the aims of the Riftwardens. The Black Orchid wanted to bring chaos to the world and had to be stopped.

Loot acquired:
2 potions of cure light wounds
Masterwork glaive
Masterwork scythe

Characters are now 3rd level

Scarab Sages

July 31, 2016
Session 5

As the group hiding in the shop looked on, both Jiro and Zosta realized that they were completely unable to gauge the strength or skill of anyone in the party with Jiro’s brother. While the procession in the street was passing by the shop, the kami allowed Jiro to clearly see the fiery fox demon within his brother. Suddenly the demon turned to look toward the shop and grinned, and Jiro was sure that it was looking at him. At that same instant the kami abruptly withdrew and his vision returned to normal. He recognized that while the demon had been looking in his direction, his brother was still facing forward.

Once the demonic group had passed by, Jiro told his companions what he had seen. Asami and Runa had both spent much time learning about the denizens of the Abyss and the infernal realms, and they both recognized that the demon Jiro had seen was one of the nine demon lords of Tian Xia.

Despite all the strange events that had occurred that evening, and against the wishes of his wife, the shopkeeper offered the group lodging for the night. He introduced himself as Joual, and his wife as Maebel. Their two children were young son Syd and slightly older daughter Neena. After thanking Joual for his offer of hospitality, Jiro sat down on the floor and explained to everyone how and why he and Asami had come to the Worldwound.

When Jiro had finished his tale, Maebel began having Neena do some chores around the basement area where the family had been hiding since the catastrophe that befell Kenabres. Asami noticed that the woman didn’t have the girl do any chores that would involve using wooden objects. She also observed that Neena seemed unusually interested in the fire.

At the same time, Kirara was being exceptionally friendly with little Syd. Syd began to plead for the newcomers to tell him a story. As he grew more strident, there was suddenly a pulse of soothing energy that filled the room, and everyone who still had any injury realized they had been healed. Jiro recognized that the positive energy had come from Syd, and thanked the boy. It was apparent to the group of adventurers that both Neena and Syd had magical power and Syd had been blessed by one of the gods. Runa approached Maebel to suggest that once the city’s troubles were over she should consider taking her son to a temple for training. A little later, as Syd continued to beg for stories from the visitors, it seemed that he was about to release his divine power again. But that proved too much for his small body and instead he fell asleep.

The party members used what healing capability they had left to make sure that everyone would be fully healed the next morning. Jiro also used his magic to create water for the family. In appreciation for the group’s kindness to his family, Joual told them that they could take whatever they needed from the supplies in the shop. They took the time to distribute among themselves some of the items they had acquired underground; Jiro took charge of a scroll of magic fang, Zosta was given a potion of cure moderate wounds, and Asami received scrolls of comprehend languages and identify.

That night Joual and Maebel took turns standing watch while their children slept. The party members offered to watch over the pair so they could rest, but the couple were determined to watch over their children themselves.

The following morning, Jiro and Uncle had a conversation about something else Jiro had seen in addition to his brother's state of possession, something which he hadn’t described to anyone else. While his brother and the rest of his group were passing by, Jiro had caught a glimpse of a red-furred monkey with black wings lurking in the shadows. Uncle immediately knew that this monkey was an aspect of a mischief-making demon called Belphegor, but he warned that Belphegor’s definition of “mischief” would be described by mortals as “torture.”

After Jiro shared this information with the rest of his companions, he went out to check Joual and Maebel’s garden, where he found some berries to use as goodberries.

When Jiro returned to the shop, Uncle told him that one of the kami from the previous evening’s events had offered to remain and watch over the house. Jiro told Joual and Maebel about the benevolent kami and how to provide it with recompense, and the kami was so pleased by what he described that it left an imprint of its smiling face in dust on the counter.

The party then took their leave of the couple. Jiro suggested that if they found any crusaders about in the city they could ask that they keep an eye on Joual’s shop, but Joual requested that they not tell anyone about him. He preferred to reserve what supplies he had left for the benefit of his friends and neighbors. The group members agreed to abide by his wishes.

As the party made their way toward Aravashniel’s desired destination, Blackwing Ruin, they saw more people in the streets than on the previous evening, though nowhere near as many as they would have seen prior to the demonic attack. They overheard a variety of rumors from passersby: that the demon lord Deskari himself had led the attack, that a witch was coming to claim the city, that there were multiple cults of demon-worshippers abroad in the city, and that the water supply had been poisoned. This last rumor was quickly proved to be false.

They also came upon a large man who was surrounded by smears of blood and crushed bones that they could just manage to identify as the remains of some small demons. Since the man’s hammer was covered in blood as well, they took this to mean that he had slain the demons himself. Once he realized they were not enemies, he introduced himself to the group as Johan, a laborer who had come to Kenabres to join the Crusade but had arrived just in time for the attack. He agreed when they invited him to accompany them.

As they neared the location of Blackwing Ruin, a trail of devastation could be seen ahead. It did not lead to Blackwing Ruin, but when they approached that structure they saw that it too had suffered massive destruction. Only the part of the building that was likely the entrance hall still stood. The rest was rubble. Curiously, none of the surrounding buildings had been damaged. The members of the group began to suspect that Blackwing Ruin had been deliberately targeted for destruction. When told of the state of the building, Aravashniel fell to his knees and wept.

Then Aegron heard the sound of a voice coming from within the remaining structure, a man ordering someone to hurry and stack some books. He moved closer and peered inside through a window opening. Within the building, he saw an armed and armored man commanding a woman to stack the books. In the center of the chamber were four people, bound hand and foot. The books the woman was stacking were encircling the four bound people, and it was apparent to Aegron that the fellow ordering the woman about meant to set the books – and the people – on fire. He immediately drew his bow and fired on the man while calling out to his companions what he had seen.

Runa charged forward, drawing Radiance on the run, and used her shield to bash open the double doors. Aegron dropped his bow and ran inside to attack the armored man who had been giving commands. The man dropped a torch on the floor and some nearby tomes caught fire. The man then ran toward the doors where Runa stood, shouting, “Death to Iomedae!” He struck Runa a serious blow with the heavy mace he carried. Two other people appeared from the shadows to attack Aegron.

The woman who had been stacking the books ran to untie the four prisoners. Johan and Garvin, the man the group had rescued from the Baphomet cultists, both moved into the chamber. Jiro went to heal Runa, while Garvin helped Aegron against his opponents. Zosta tumbled through the crowd in the doorway and went to put out the fire and finish untying the prisoners. Johan swung his massive hammer at the man who was attacking Runa, and the fellow stopped fighting and began to beg for mercy.

Asami had remained outside with Aravashniel, Aneva and Horgus. On hearing what Aegron described, Aravashniel began to summon something. An otyugh appeared inside the chamber between the stacked books and the fighting going on near the doorway. When Zosta tried to move past, it lashed at her. Asami gave Aravashniel some advice about how to keep the creature from attacking his friends and the otyugh moved to protect the former prisoners from their attackers.

Runa ordered the man with the mace to drop his weapon and shield, and he complied. In the meantime Aegron badly wounded one of his opponents and slew the other. Runa then angrily demanded to know what her prisoner was doing there. He replied that he had come to join the Crusade. When she asked why he had cried out, “Death to Iomedae,” he told her he disliked priests, especially those devoted to Iomedae and Sarenrae. Determined to make him regret his choices, Runa slashed his cheek with the point of Radiance, which was just enough hurt to cause him to faint.

After the fire was smothered and the prisoners all freed, Asami escorted Aravashniel inside to see what was left. The woman who had been stacking books, Fenna, recognized Aravashniel although he didn’t know her. She was very impressed and excited to see him. She and the four other people had all been librarians for Blackwing Ruin’s huge collection of material on demons and demonology. When Fenna told her rescuers that everyone else in the building had been slain, it brought Aravashniel to tears again. Once he had recovered his composure, he was determined to remain at the ruined structure. He asked Johan if he would be willing to stay there as guard, and the big man agreed.

Runa meanwhile used her divine magic to heal the would-be arsonist just enough to bring him back to consciousness. Then she took him outside, condemned him to death in the name of Iomedae, and ran him through with Radiance.

Loot acquired:
+1 heavy mace
2 potions of cure light wounds
Suit of banded mail
Light steel shield
65 gold pieces
2 shortswords
2 sets of leather armor

Scarab Sages

August 7, 2016
Session 6

Character recap:
PCs -
Asami - elf wizard (me)
Aegron - half-elf inquisitor
Jiro - human shaman
Runa - half-orc warpriest
Zosta - human brawler

NPCs -
Uncle - monkey, Jiro's spirit animal
Kirara - cat, Asami's familiar
Aravashniel - elf wizard Riftwarden
Anevia - human archer
Horgus - human scholar
Johan - human commoner
Garvin - human commoner
Darla - human commoner, friend of Aegron

Runa justified her execution of the arsonist ringleader to her companions by the fact that he had been prepared to burn the librarians alive. Afterward, librarian Fenna told the group that the rest of Blackwing Ruin had been destroyed by a tall man-like being who appeared to be composed entirely of maggots. This being had also taken some treasures from the library, though she did not know what specifically had been removed. She also told them that head librarian Quedneys Orlun had been at the cathedral at the time of the attack, and she did not know if he had survived.

In appreciation for the rescue, the librarians gave the group a spellbook that was left among the undamaged tomes. They were also given a password that would allow them admission back into the library in the future. Aravashniel expressed regret that he would not be going along with them when they departed, but he felt it would be best to remain at Blackwing Ruin and do what he could to restore the library’s collection of materials on demonology. He asked the companions to bring him any books they found that had been taken from Blackwing, or anything that would be useful to the collection.

The spellbook was given into Asami’s care. On examination she found that it contained alarm, dismissal, dispel magic, magic circle vs chaos, resist energy, and versatile weapon. She also discovered a scroll containing the spell dimensional lock tucked between the pages.

Before the small company left to escort Horgus Gwerm to his home, they found several dead, desiccated maggots on the floor that proved not to have originated on the Material Plane. Johan decided to hand over to the group a wand of cure light wounds he had been carrying, as well as a pair of bracers of armor. In return, Jiro gave him the heavy mace they had taken from the man Runa killed. Jiro took charge of the wand, while the group members decided that Asami would be the best person to wear the bracers as the rest of the companions all had armor of their own. To the surprise of everyone, Johan snapped the haft off the mace and affixed the head on top of his hammer, which glowed briefly. When the glow faded the mace head had melded with the hammer.

After saying their farewells, the group set off for the Gwerm estate, their number reduced by the absence of Aravashniel and Johan. It wasn’t long before they stumbled upon a group of tieflings engaged in looting. The encounter quickly became a rout as they slew all but one of the looters and the last fled. They took what little gold the looters had carried, labeled their bodies “Looters”, and went on their way.

Not long after they disposed of the looters, some members of the group heard shouting and jeering ahead. They came upon a fountain, and nearby a group of six or seven armored men surrounding a lone woman. Aegron suddenly recognized the woman as his friend Darla. Jiro called out to the men, “Do you need help?” in a friendly tone. But the encounter didn’t remain friendly when he realized all of the men wore symbols of Baphomet.

Aegron shouted furiously, “Leave her alone!” and raced forward. The cultists moved to surround him, all of them striking him and leaving him stunned. Jiro cast a curative spell and passed it to Uncle to deliver it to Aegron. As Uncle moved toward Aegron, he conjured an image of a large ape to divert attention from himself. Runa moved toward the cultists, giving herself a war blessing as she went. One of the men in the group was bigger and more elaborately dressed than the others. He roughly pushed Darla behind him.

Asami sent a magic missile hurtling at the larger man who held Darla. Uncle delivered the spell to Aegron, while Runa dealt a massive blow to one of the cultists and slew him. Asami directed an acid arrow at the leader, but he deflected it. While Jiro moved in to heal Aegron’s injuries and Runa was struck in the head by one of the cultists, the leader held his sword menacingly to Darla’s throat. Anevia grew concerned when Asami moved closer to the cultists to get better range for her spells, and she wondered why they didn’t concentrate their attacks on the leader, but Asami feared that if their attacks didn’t immediately slay him he would kill Darla. Asami instead sent a ray of frost at one of Runa’s opponents. Zosta tripped one of her foes, but was knocked unconscious by the number of wounds she had suffered.

At that moment, the leader casually sliced his sword blade across Darla’s throat and strolled away. No one was close enough to pursue him, or direct any ranged attacks at him before he disappeared from view among the buildings. Runa rushed to Darla’s side to cast a healing spell on her. Jiro moved to heal Zosta. Asami and Anevia continued to attack the cultists from a distance. Once Zosta had recovered enough to be able to move, she tripped her foe again, knocking him to the ground beside her, and then punched him into oblivion. Aegron ran to Darla’s side. Runa stood up and struck down another cultist, and Anevia and Zosta combined attacks to bring down a third man.

When all of the cultists had fallen except for their leader, the group found themselves in possession of six glaives, six shortswords, four potions of cure light wounds, six masterwork chain shirts, and six silver holy symbols of Baphomet. The cultists had also carried a total of 20 gold pieces.

Once Darla had been healed enough that she could move and talk, she explained to them that this area of the New Kenabres district had many Baphomet cultists, while Old Kenabres contained more cultists of the demon lord Deskari. She also told them that most of the more powerful demons had departed from the city and taken the dragon Terendelev’s body with them to the Worldwound. She had also heard from eavesdropping on the cultists that the witch Areelu Vorlesh planned to come to claim the city; and she had seen huge insects with humanoid faces flying about the city eating people. The cultist leader who had taken her captive was called Garb, but she had never seen his face and felt that his voice sounded otherworldly. Darla offered to guide the group through the city, as she had come to know her way around New Kenabres quite well.

A short time later, they heard shouting and screeching from up ahead, as a high-pitched voice seemed to be ordering someone else to do something. Aegron went forward to see what it was and observed a group of people wearing scraps of armor and carrying broken weapons and sticks, who appeared to be engaged in constructing a performance stage. He also spotted two tiny red creatures with wings that seemed to be commanding the group of townsfolk. Zosta also stepped forward to see better and realized that the tiny winged creatures were quasits. One of the quasits exclaimed, “What’s that?” then commanded the people, “Protect us! Protect us!” The people moved forward to attack as commanded, but they appeared reluctant and fearful.

Aegron rushed up to where one of the quasits perched and it let out a shriek. Runa raised her holy symbol of Iomedae and spoke to the people, telling them that they did not need to comply with the orders of evil creatures. They seemed to be affected by her words and hesitated. Zosta moved beside Aegron and punched one of the quasits with her cold iron knuckles, which caused it to screech and then vanish. Runa moved toward the makeshift stage, and Aegron shifted position so that he could see four corpses lying toward the rear of the platform. Suddenly the second quasit screeched, and Aegron burst into a mad run away from the area, shouting in terror. Zosta also ran, though she remained silent in her headlong flight.

Uncle bounded onto the rooftops and pursued the two fleeing companions. He caught up with Zosta, leaped onto her shoulders, and put his hands over her eyes, forcing her to stop since she couldn’t see where she was going. He turned her around and then took his hands away, causing her to run back toward her friends. Meanwhile, the effect on Aegron faded and he stopped running, then turned and ran back toward the others.

One of the quasits reappeared and attacked Runa. Asami, who had been unable to see the two tiny demons at first, finally caught a glimpse of one and tried to hit it with a ray of frost but missed her target and hit one of the people, who died instantly. The second quasit also appeared and began clawing and biting at Runa. Runa struck it with Radiance and it dropped to the ground. Asami stabbed at the second quasit with her Splintered Spear. Then one of the townsfolk under the demons’ control slashed her arm. The quasit again disappeared from view. Runa called out that it was invisible and began sweeping her blade through the area where it had last been seen, but she swung too hard and Radiance became wedged in the wood of a nearby crate.

Runa had earlier told her companions not to harm the people as they were being compelled by the demons, so Jiro knocked two of them down with his staff. A second man moved up to Asami and stabbed her with his broken sword. Aegron returned just in time to knock the man out. After the fighting stopped, Runa cast stabilize on all of the injured and was able to save everyone but the man who had been hit by Asami’s spell. She realized that the quasits had just been amusing themselves by forcing the people to put on a play for them, and had slain the four people found dead in order to terrify the rest into obeying them.

Most of the people who had been victimized by the quasits lived nearby and returned to their homes, but one accompanied the group as they made their way to Horgus Gwerm’s house. The house turned out to be intact, because his guards and servants had all fled and the attacking demons had been more interested in destroying occupied buildings. To Horgus’ irritation, the guards had also stolen some valuable items, but his vault was still secured. To show his appreciation for the group’s protection, instead of giving them the 1,000 gold pieces they had agreed upon he presented them with 2,000 gold. The local man who had been freed from the quasits agreed to remain as a servant. Garvin, the retired crusader who had been kidnapped by the Baphomet cultists, also decided to stay there as a guard. The rest of the party rested at the house overnight to recuperate from their wounds.

Loot acquired:
Spellbook: alarm, dismissal, dispel magic, magic circle vs chaos, resist energy, versatile weapon
Scroll of dimensional lock
6 glaives
6 shortswords
4 potions: cure light wounds
6 masterwork chain shirts
2,020 gold pieces
Wand, cure light wounds – 38 charges
Bracers of armor +1

Scarab Sages

August 14, 2016
Session 7

The following morning after their arrival at Horgus Gwerm’s house, Aegron’s friend Darla decided to stay there for the time being, until Aegron could find out what had become of their friend Abel. Horgus didn’t seem entirely pleased with having another mouth to feed, but Darla didn’t brook any argument from him.

Jiro climbed up to the top of the house to look out over the city, but there was still too much smoky haze to see anything of the district where the group had been when the initial attack occurred.

After saying farewell to Horgus and Darla, the group set out to escort Anevia to her home. Although her wife Irabeth was a respected paladin and they lived in one of the better sections of Kenabres, their home was a modest one. But on the journey to the house the party saw numerous shops offering higher quality and more expensive goods. They paused several times while Jiro made sure the people they saw had food and water and were not ill or injured.

Suddenly they heard cries for help coming from an area ahead. Aegron, Zosta, and Runa ran forward to see what the trouble was. The spotted a stranger being trying to smash the door of a shop. The calls for help came from within the shop. Aegron, who had learned his way around the city quite well, dove into a sewer tunnel. The others ran into a courtyard with a low wall that faced the shop. As they did so the creature turned to face them, revealing that it was oddly hunchbacked, which at first made Zosta think that it was holding its own head in its hands as she mistook its hump for its shoulders. The creature began to chant words in the tongue of demon-kind.

Runa recognized the creature as an abrikandilu, but she could recall little else about such demons. She did recognize that what it was doing was summoning something else and she called out a warning to her comrades. Asami left Jiro to look after Anevia and ran into the little courtyard to join Runa and Zosta. Zosta then leaped over the wall and bounded across the street to kick the demon in an attempt to disrupt its spellcasting, but though her kick connected the creature continued to chant. Then a second abrikandilu appeared next to Runa.

For an instant Zosta felt a wave of fear, similar to what the quasit had subjected her to the previous day, but she overcame the sensation. The second demon attacked Runa but failed to harm her. Jiro appeared just outside the courtyard and used a wand to summon a spiritual weapon to attack the demon that had been trying to break into the shop. Though his previous attempt had created a tetsubo, this time the weapon appeared as a shillelagh.

Asami shot a ray of frost at the demon attacking Runa but it flew past without hitting her target. At the same time Aegron sprang out of the sewer by the demon across the street. The demon facing Runa clawed at Radiance and seemed to be trying to break the sword, simultaneously biting at Runa. The first demon fled from Zosta and Jiro’s spiritual weapon pursued it. It ran toward Jiro, perhaps wanting to get rid of the caster of the spell.

The demon trying to harm Radiance suddenly let out a scream. Runa could tell by its reaction that it had recognized the famed blade. Asami directed another ray of frost at the demon but it appeared to have no effect, though Asami was unable to observe this from her position. The second demon began trying to damage Jiro’s morningstar and bit him. The wounds the demons left on Jiro and Runa were especially gruesome, and left their victims feeling somewhat demoralized.

The demon facing Runa turned its attention to her heavy wooden shield, which it managed to crack. At the same time she heard a voice say in a commanding tone, “Put some effort into it!” and both demons seemed to gain a burst of speed. Jiro was so badly bitten by his foe that he collapsed. Runa used her fervor to heal herself, though that didn’t get rid of her feeling of inadequacy. Zosta had pursued the demon that fled from her, and when she attacked it again it disappeared. Runa then called out for her friends to find out who had been giving the demons orders. Anevia had come to join the fight and hobbled to Jiro’s side, reporting that he was seriously hurt. Runa went to share Iomedae’s healing power with him.

Zosta meanwhile saw two people peeking cautiously out of the shop, a man and a woman, both well dressed. The shopkeepers emerged and introduced themselves as Belthis and Neera Loomis. They expressed profound gratitude to the group for saving them from the abrikandilu, which Asami now recalled were especially fond of destroying things of beauty. As a token of their appreciation the Loomises told the party members to each take an outfit from their clothing shop. Asami was able to find garments in the style of Minkai among their stock, but they had no such apparel for Jiro. The couple also provided information that the city leadership and defenders might be gathered at the stronghold known as Defender’s Heart.

While inside the shop, Asami also remembered that abrikandilu did not like mirrors. She told the shopkeepers this so they could be prepared if more such demons appeared. She also reassured Jiro and Runa that they would recover from the curse the demon-inflicted wounds had caused in a few days.

Since her shield was too damaged to be useful and she had no way to repair it, Runa decided to use one of the light steel shields they had taken from some of the Baphomet cultists they had defeated. She found some material in the Loomis’s shop that she could use to cover the symbol of Baphomet on the shield’s face.

It was early evening by the time the group reached Anevia and Irabeth’s home. The house was quiet and dark. Anevia called out for her wife as soon as she entered. Abruptly a giant fire beetle appeared in front of her. Anevia was so startled by its sudden appearance that when she fired an arrow at it she missed and shot into the floor. Aegron stepped up and slew the beetle with his spear, whereupon its remains vanished. Runa cautiously checked in the bedroom. A moment later a dark shape appeared, threatening, “Your wife will find your corpse!” as it attacked Anevia.

The shadowy figure proved to be a half-orc man wearing an elaborate outfit and wielding a ranseur. The area he had appeared in was occupied by a large table and chairs, making it cramped for combat. Zosta bounded on top of the table. Runa pushed Anevia behind her to protect her, but the woman refused to remain out of the fight and moved forward to face the half-orc man, who she seemed to recognize. Aegron stepped up to attack him, and Asami cast magic missile at him, but the projectile bounced off an invisible shield around his body. The half-orc focused his attacks on Anevia. Anevia demanded to know what he had done with Irabeth, to which he responded, “She’s not dead yet but she soon will be!” He struck Anevia again and she collapsed.

Runa reached out to pull Anevia to safety and the half-orc used his ranseur to jerk Radiance out of her grasp. He sneered insultingly at Runa, assuming that her coincidental resemblance to Irabeth had been meant to trick him. Jiro summoned a spiritual testsubo from his wand, but its blow did no harm to the half-orc. Asami tried attacking him with her Splintered Spear but it flew past him. The half-orc drew a wand and a magic missile issued from it to strike the unconscious Anevia. Runa picked up her sword and slashed at him, while Jiro used a wand to heal Anevia’s injuries. Aegron rolled gracefully across the table to reach the half-orc but landed badly and wasn’t able to strike. Asami’s spear failed to connect a second time. The half-orc then attacked Zosta. She attempted to wrest the ranseur away from him, but somehow he was able to retain his grip on it despite her skillful attack.

Anevia had by this time recovered enough under Jiro’s ministrations to get up and get her bow, although she was still wounded. Jiro then turned his attention to healing Zosta. Anevia fired at the half-orc, while Runa chopped him with her sword and Aegron stabbed with his spear. Their combined attacks left the half-orc lying unconscious on the floor, but Jiro pleaded with them not to kill him as he might know valuable information.

Anevia then explained to her companions that many years ago, when Irabeth was living in the River Kingdoms, a half-orc cult of Xoveron had formed. Irabeth had captured this person and sent him to prison. He had somehow managed to escape and sought revenge. Zosta searched him and found that he had on his person a spell component pouch containing some components for spells that required more expensive materials, the wand that contained magic missile, a potion which Asami identified as invisibility, and his ranseur, which was magically enhanced. Asami was unable to determine its capabilities, but Runa discovered that it was a ranseur of the gargoyles, which was enchanted to be especially difficult for anyone to take away from the bearer in combat, as well as being able to grant the bearer increased armor protection several times a day.

Since it was already evening, the group decided to stay overnight at Anevia’s house before going on to the Defender’s Heart to seek Irabeth. They bound, gagged, and blindfolded the half-orc. Aegron also produced a group of small bells that they tied to the half-orc so any movement by him would alert them. They stood watches during the night, and while Runa and Asami were on watch the half-orc stirred. Runa assumed this to be an escape attempt and hit him in the head with her sword pommel until he passed out again.

The next day Anevia found a note from Irabeth, telling her to go to Defender’s Heart and giving her the password to gain entry: “Silverstrong.” When the party set out, Runa carried their prisoner. It wasn’t long before they came upon a group of armored men surrounding a woman, who was clutching a baby. They were surprised when they heard these men say, “Your sacrifice aids the cause of good.” The woman appeared to be terrified and looked at the new arrivals as though pleading for help.

Aegron approached and pretended to be friendly to the men, though his companions were a little confused by his behavior. He asked the men what was going on, and they revealed that they believed bathing their swords in the blood of a virgin would help them to fight demons. When someone pointed out that the woman had an infant with her, the men proclaimed that she was probably lying and the child wasn’t hers. Aegron then attacked the man nearest him, immediately dropping the fellow to the ground.

Runa had moved forward to position herself between the woman and the men, trying to convince them that the old wives’ tale they had heard was untrue. The area they had chosen for their sacrifice was a shrine to Sarenrae, and Runa told them that blood sacrifice was not the way of Sarenrae but they appeared unwilling to listen. When Aegron attacked, Runa also attacked one of the men near her. Jiro ran forward to stabilize one of the fallen men, not wanting them to die for merely being misguided. Zosta moved up and disarmed a third man. The woman fled and hid behind a hedge. Runa continued trying to persuade the men, but they seemed irrational. Suddenly they all fled.

The woman, who told them her name was Kayla, explained that she had gone out to find food and had been obliged to take her baby because her parents were both injured. The men had found her and dragged her to the shrine. The man Jiro had stabilized was awakened and was gently talked back into a more rational frame of mind. It appeared that the group of men had all been panicked and confused by the demonic attacks, and when one of them suggested bathing their swords in virgin blood to give them an advantage against the demons, the rest went along with the idea.

The party escorted Kayla back to her family home, where Jiro gave them a few goodberries and created some water for them. Runa also used her divine magic to heal their injuries. Kayla told the group that she had heard that there were several groups of defenders at Defender’s Heart, that the wardstone had been destroyed, and that an army from Mendev was on its way to bring aid to the city.

Loot acquired:
Spell component pouch worth 25 gp
wand of magic missile, 3rd level, 10 charges
Ranseur of the gargoyles – obsidian head, hard as steel; +1 ranseur, +4 bonus on disarm checks; 5/day as swift action, wielder can cause skin to harden for 1 round, gaining +2 enhancement bonus to natural armor.

Background notes: When Runa's player was looking for an illustration for his character, he came across a picture of the paladin NPC Irabeth from this AP. It didn't say who she was, though, so he chose it as his character's image. The GM decided to incorporate this into the campaign. When Anevia first met Runa, she mistook her for Irabeth.

Next session scheduled for August 28.

Scarab Sages

After the group rescued the young woman named Kayla from the group of misguided Crusaders who had meant to sacrifice her, Jiro caught a glimpse of a ghostly figure dressed in the traditional armor style of Minkai. Uncle recognized this figure as Jiro's many-times great-grandfather, wearer of the Phoenix Armor. Jiro wondered if his ancestor had come to help him or his brother. He realized that the spirit's presence meant the party would face more battle.

The group had taken one of the misguided Crusaders prisoner when the rest fled. Runa tried to convince this man, Geoff by name, of the wrong of his beliefs by reciting the doctrine of his goddess Sarenrae to him, but though her words did seem to sway him somewhat, he was not entirely convinced. He had not been one of the leaders of the Crusader band, and he still held convictions that agreed with those leaders. Finally Runa and Jiro asked him if he would be willing to accompany them to Defender's Heart to talk with the leadership of the city's defenders there. This he agreed to do.

By this point Anevia was getting anxious to get to Defender's Heart and Zosta suggested they get underway, as the well-known inn lay a good distance from the part of Old Kenabres where they currently found themselves. They set off once more, soon coming upon a large area of complete ruin in which not even the walls of destroyed buildings still stood. The earth had been gouged deep and streams of what appeared to be lava flowed in several places. As they looked on this sight in dismay, they observed several creatures circling in the air above the devastation. Aegron climbed up onto the roof of an intact structure at the edge of the destroyed area to get a better look at the flying things, and reported that they appeared to be vultures. Just as he passed this information to his companions on the ground, the vultures flew toward them and swooped in to attack, revealing as they did so that they were much larger than ordinary vultures.

Runa immediately called upon Iomedae to bless the entire group to fortify them against the large vultures. Geoff rushed forward toward one of the vultures that had landed by Zosta, and the creature lashed out with its powerful beak and severed his leg, leaving him bleeding profusely on the ground. One of the four vultures had not yet alit on the ground, and Anevia fired her bow at it. After striking at the bird before her, Zosta shouted out to her companions that it appeared to be a fiendish creature that was immune to the special properties of her cold iron knuckles. The vulture above Anevia snapped at her and she collapsed, critically wounded.

Jiro had moved forward to face the third vulture and it now bit him badly. Uncle fled into the building and hid. Aegron took out his greataxe and struck the bird that Anevia's arrows had hit, and his blow was so powerful that it fell dead. But there were still three vultures remaining and their bites were vicious. Runa, Zosta and Jiro were all bitten again, and Jiro was very unsteady on his feet. Asami hurled her splintered spear at the vulture attacking Jiro, but the vulture did not appear to be much injured.

Zosta swung her fists with all the power she could muster and knocked out the vulture nearest her. Asami stepped forward to lay the flat of her wooden sword on Jiro's shoulder and green energy flowed down the blade to surround him with an armor of illusory vines and bark, giving him extra protection against the fiendish vultures. Jiro then used a hex to heal Zosta and summoned up a disc of stone to shield himself. Despite this, when the vulture attacked him again he fell. Runa used her fervor to heal him enough that he could get back on his feet.

Aegron leaped down from the roof and landed badly, falling on his back, but a moment later he leaped to his feet and attacked a vulture. Zosta continued to attack the vulture she had knocked out. Asami threw another spear, but missed the vulture she was aiming for. Jiro used his hex to heal himself. At that moment Uncle came racing back out of the building and leaped onto the vulture that had last bitten Jiro, slapping and pummeling its head. The small monkey wasn't strong enough to do any harm to it, but his actions clearly distracted the creature.

Zosta struck her vulture once more and it went limp. It had become apparent that the vultures would concentrate their attacks on the person who was most seriously injured. That person was now Runa. One of the remaining vultures struck her in the leg and she backed away from it to read a scroll of bear's endurance.

Aegron's axe took the life of another vulture. Uncle leaped off the vulture he had been straddling and at first appeared to be dead, but a moment later he realized that playing dead in the presence of the vultures was not the best idea and sprang back to his feet. A moment later Zosta punched the last vulture and it too died. Free of combat, the group members realized that Anevia was moments from death and Jiro quickly healed her.

Once Anevia was no longer in danger of dying, Jiro healed the injuries of the rest of the group. He realized as he tended to them that it was likely their wounds might be infected. While he did this Runa said a prayer for Geoff the fallen Crusader, who had bled out before anyone could reach him. His body was moved inside the building and covered with loose stones to form a cairn. When everyone had recovered enough to continue their journey they decided to go and investigate whatever the vultures had been circling before they attacked. Aegron identified the best path down into the depression that had been dug out of the ground by some unknown force. They found only some unidentifiable humanoid remains lying next to one of the 'lava streams.' Getting closer to the lava revealed that it was not natural lava; Kenabres did not stand near any volcano, and the lava seemed unusually slimy, though it was still just as hot as ordinary lava. Asami checked the area for magical auras but found none.

Skirting around the other lava streams, the party made their way across the rest of the damaged area to reach intact streets and buildings on the other side. There were people in the streets, and as Jiro insisted on telling everyone where they were headed and offering healing to any who were injured, the group soon accumulated a collection of followers. They observed symbols on the doors of the houses they passed, which they soon recognized indicated the number of people who had died inside each structure.

When the enlarged group encountered first a howler demon and next a group of tieflings engaged in looting, the crowd of ordinary citizens set upon them and punished them. After the looters were overpowered, the citizens offered the adventurers some of the things they had taken from the tieflings, including two vials of alchemist's fire, three flasks of holy water, three magical crossbow bolts, an elixir of vision, a potion of barkskin, and 55 gold pieces.

Some of the local people following the party left them along the way as they found family members or returned to their homes, while others joined. By the time they reached the Defender's Heart inn, the group had increased in size to more than a dozen people. At the Heart they found the local guards, the Eagle's Watch, in residence. The guards called for them to halt, but as soon as they recognized Anevia and were given the password that Irabeth had left for her, the group were welcomed inside the fortress-like stone structure. There they were greeted by Irabeth, along with a one-armed man who was introduced as Kimroth Otai, owner of Defender's Heart. Anevia and Irabeth were of course overjoyed to see one another safe and happily embraced.

When Anevia and Irabeth separated after their private moment, Kimroth revealed that Irabeth was now leader of the Eagle's Watch. Irabeth explained that what Kayla had told the party was correct: Kenabres' Wardstone had been destroyed, and as a result the remaining Wardstones had been severely weakened. The Watch had found a note that mentioned Minago, a name the party members recognized, which was addressed to someone named Fakson and also mentioned the name Vorlesh, a Nahendrian crystal, and someone referred to as 'our Lord's daughter'. Recalling that it was someone called Minago who had slain Yaniel, the former owner of Radiance, Runa showed Radiance to Irabeth.

After the group told her about the cultist safehouses they had learned of during their time underground, Irabeth announced that she would authorize a reward of a thousand gold pieces if they would search these locations. She also reassured Zosta that her parents and Cennami were alive and were engaged in clearing the warehouse district of dangers. Kimroth called for a runner to take a message to them to let them know that Zosta and her companions were safe. As the companions began to tell the story of what had happened to them when the demons attacked, Jiro and Asami revealed why they had been sent all the way from Minkai and Jinin to the Worldwound. Irabeth then called for the room to be cleared of everyone but herself, Kimroth, Anevia, and the five comrades.

Once the civilians had gone, Jiro told the tale of his half-brother Katsuro Yoshida and how he had been angered when the illegitimate son Jiro was chosen to go to the West to combat the oni. He also explained how he had seen that his brother had willingly accepted possession by one of the Nine Oni Lords. Kimroth knew little of the oni and didn't see how they were any different than the demons that had attacked the city, but Irabeth appeared to know a bit more about them and was greatly concerned when she learned that the oni might be allying themselves with the demons to enter the Material Plane from the Worldwound.

As the conversation continued, Irabeth mentioned that Quednys, leader of the Riftwardens, had survived the attack and should be told of this. Asami revealed that her parents had been members of the Riftwardens, as well as telling Irabeth that they had visited Blackwing Ruin and that Aravashniel had survived the fall underground and was now at Blackwing. Another messenger was sent to make contact, and was given the password that Aravashniel had given to the party. The party members asked if any healing was available to remove the filth fever several of them, including Anevia, had contracted from the fiendish vultures, and that was arranged.

Runa then decided that as Irabeth was the most senior representative of the church of Iomedae, she should present Radiance to Irabeth. As she handed over the sword, it glowed slightly in response to the paladin's touch.

Irabeth swore Aegron, Asami, Jiro, Runa, and Zosta in as Crusaders. As a reward for returning Radiance, she gave them each permission to choose any magic item they desired of a value less than or equal to 1,000 gold pieces. Jiro also used some funds they had acquired previously through selling items to the Mongrelfolk to purchase another wand of cure light wounds, as the wand they had was almost empty of charges.

Loot:
Alchemist's fire - 2
Holy water - 3
+1 flaming bolts - 3
elixir of vision
potion of barkskin
55 gold pieces

Scarab Sages

Session 9
September 11, 2016
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The five newly-sworn Crusaders were settled in rooms at Defender's Heart. Runa took the opportunity to see an armorsmith about repairing the damage done to her armor by the giant ameoba. Aegron went to see another smith to make sure his weapons were in the best condition. Asami used the bonus they had been granted to acquire a low-level pearl of power for herself. She also replenished her supply of paper and ink for scribing spells. While out and about they learned that morale was low among the locals as the promised forces from Mendev had yet to arrive.

After taking care of their personal needs, the group reviewed the letter the defenders' had found, addressed to someone named Faxon who was apparently in command of the Crusaders in Kenabres. The letter made reference to Vorlesh, to a nahyndrian crystal, and to 'our lord's daughter.' It was signed by Minago.

When they had refreshed their memories about the contents of the letter, they set off to search the three safehouses of the Templars of the Ivory Labyrinth of which they had learned. They had been given Crusader badges and told that they had authority to deal with any problems they ran into at their own discretion, so they set out first for a shop called Topaz Solutions, which lay not far from Defender's Heart.

Topaz Solutions proved to sit in a small market neighborhood where some of the shopkeepers were trying to restore their business. The merchants were initially a bit frightened when they saw a group of armed strangers approaching, but were soon persuaded that the new arrivals meant them no harm. Aegron and Jiro both purchased some fruit from a produce vendor, which helped to establish goodwill among the local residents. The merchants told the group that half a dozen of the shops surrounding the central square had shown no sign of activity for several days, although they had heard some noises coming from Topaz Solutions and another shop called the Rusty Keg. They also shared the news that the owner of the Green Wyvern tavern had apparently left town after his wife found out that he had a mistress. Aegron wanted to see if any ale was available in the Wyvern, but the door was locked and unlocking it was beyond his skill.

The quintet of new Crusaders decided to investigate the Rusty Keg first. The door of the shop was stuck but not locked. As soon as Zosta forced it open, Aegron smelled the odor of death. A body lay on the floor of the small weapon-seller's shop, near a rack of the shopkeeper's wares. The body appeared unusual pale and was surrounded by a pool of blood. Aegron, Jiro, and Zosta entered the shop to examine the body, and suddenly all three felt the hair on their napes rising up. Jiro recognized that the shop was the site of a haunt, but before he could tell his friends, he was seized by uncontrollable terror and raced out of the shop in a desperate attempt to escape the thing he feared. The instant he exited the shop, the door slammed shut again.

Asami and Runa had both still been outside when Jiro ran out and the door shut, and they both moved to the door. It proved to be stuck again, so Runa put her shoulder against it and pushed. The door then flew open, the unexpected movement causing Runa to lose her balance and topple forward into the shop. Once she was inside the door slammed shut once more, leaving Asami outside.

Inside the shop, a ghostly figure began to attack the companions. While it was able to harm them, their weapons appeared to have little effect on it. When it moved close to Zosta she observed that it looked like a man wielding a tombstone as a weapon, and that he appeared to be saying something though no sound could be heard. Outside, Asami tried to open the door, but found that the knob wouldn't turn and the door wouldn't open no matter how hard she pushed. She ran to the window to look inside and see what was happening to her friends. Runa got back on her feet again, but as she took a step forward she slipped in the puddle of blood surrounding the corpse and fell down. Aegron noticed that there were worms or maggots squirming in the blood.

Out in the streets, Jiro's fear subsided and he turned to run back to the Rusty Keg. Inside the shop, the spirit appeared to be growing increasingly angry. In its fury it hurled the tombstone it held. The insubstantial object shot out through the wall of the shop past Asami's head on a direct course for one of the merchants who was looking on in curiosity, but as it neared the man it simply vanished.

Meanwhile, Zosta had been watching the ghostly figure closely and thought she had recognized the name "Timothy" among the words it spoke, as well as "you can't take my treasures." The weapons on the racks rose into the air and began to spin as thought caught up in a whirlwind. Zosta attempted to calm the spirit by talking to it and assuring it that the group hadn't entered the shop with the intention of looting it, but her words lost some of their impact because Aegron was continuing to attack the figure. The whirling weapons spun faster and Runa's sword was almost pulled out of her hand by the force that moved them. Encouraged by the fact that the spirit was not attacking Zosta, Runa tried casting a curative spell toward it in the hope that would reduce its anger.

Jiro arrived at the Rusty Keg, and Asami called for him to help her in opening the door. But even their combined strength proved inadequate. Something inside the shop was draining Aegron's strength, and the worms in the blood had begun to crawl over his and Runa's boots. The thought suddenly occurred to Asami that she should ask the wood of the door to let them in, since she had a deep natural affinity for all things of wood. She put her free hand on the door and in elven said, "Please, friend, let us in." Jiro didn't understand what she was doing, but when she explained he realized that he could also appeal to the spirits of the building for their aid. The wood of the door seemed to relax and the doorknob fell out, allowing them to open the door.

As soon as he could see what was going on within the shop, Jiro cast calm emotions on everyone inside. The flying weapons fell to the floor and the worms squirming in the pool of blood ceased moving. Jiro then experienced an impression of what had happened in the Rusty Keg, which he narrated to his companions in a dull monotone. He told them that several demons had invaded the shop, one of them disguised as the owner's deceased son Timothy. They had then slain the owner, Logan, and stolen some of his weapons. Logan's spirit was so eager for revenge that it returned as a haunt to defend the shop. Jiro realized that the only way to be rid of the haunting was to bury Logan's remains beside those of his son Timothy.

The companions then went out into the square to talk to the other merchants, explaining what had happened to Logan. Logan's neighbors offered to take care of the burial, as they knew that Timothy was interred in a cemetery not far away. While the neighbors attended to this, the five comrades examined the rest of Logan's shop and the weapons he had sold, finding that all of his weapons had identifying marks that would be easy to recognize if they found any of his wares in the possession of any demons or looters.

Once the Rusty Keg was taken care of and the neighbors had departed to attend to Logan’s burial, the Crusader group moved on to Topaz Solutions. It was clearly a shop that sold potions by the sign over the door, which depicted herbs and a beaker. The shop was connected to two other buildings on either side, so Zosta climbed up to the roof while Asami and Jiro went to the alley behind the shop. But none of them found anything of note. When the group reformed in front of the shop, they found that the door and shutters were securely barred. Concerned about what they might find within, Asami cast mage armor upon herself. Zosta took out her crowbar and they began trying to get the door open. From inside they heard someone cry out, "Help! We're under attack!" They tried asking the people within to admit them, explaining that they represented the Crusade, but the people inside the shop didn't believe them and continued to shout for help.

While Runa and Zosta worked on the door, Aegron took out his warhammer and began to bash the shutters. It didn't take long before both the door and the window had broken open. Aegron was suddenly showered with liquid from a vial that had been hurled at him from inside the shop. Alchemist's fire splashed on Jiro, Runa, and Zosta, and Jiro cast create water to put out the flames. Inside the shop they could see three people standing behind the counter: a dwarf man, a human man, and a human woman, all engaged in pulling out the flasks they found under the counter and throwing them at the Crusader party at the door.

Once the door was open Runa stepped into the shop, announcing again that the group were Crusaders. From behind her, Jiro explained that they had also come seeking evidence that this shop had been used as a safehouse by the Templars of the Ivory Labyrinth. The human man appeared to recognize the name but was surprised, the dwarf also recognized it but showed no other reaction, and the woman seemed confused by the reference. Aegron asked how long the three had been there. While he spoke, Runa began to cast a spell, which caused the three people to react by throwing more flasks. Aegron hurled a javelin at the human man.

Seeing that the communication wasn't going well, Jiro used his new-found ability to channel positive energy to heal everyone inside the shop. He then told the three people that if they were not cultists of Baphomet, they should talk. The human man introduced himself as Gerald. He explained that he and his companions, Rogar the dwarf and the woman Ashley, had come to take shelter in the shop a few days earlier during the demonic attack. His tale didn't sound quite convincing to Aegron. Jiro offered to provide them an escort to Defender's Heart, but they didn't appear too pleased by that prospect, though Gerald seemed willing to go along with that plan. When he began pushing flasks into a large sack, the Crusaders became suspicious and Aegron demanded that Gerald hand over the sack for inspection. Gerald objected strenuously to this, insisting the things in the sack were his own personal belongings. He and his two friends took a step back and moved to draw weapons. It was then suggested that Rogar and Ashley could leave if they would allow themselves to be searched. Both of them agreed to this, which irritated Gerald. Asami and Zosta checked them before they exited the shop and found nothing that seemed unusual. As soon as the two of them got outside, they began to run.

As Rogar and Ashley left, Gerald cursed them, but still insisted that the sack only contained his possessions. He threw a vial at Runa but missed and it hit Aegron instead, splashing him with a potion of barkskin. Aegron then struck him hard with his ranseur. Asami had held back from casting any spells, not knowing what they might encounter next, and she called out to Gerald to surrender. Jiro emphasized her request by closing the door. Gerald threw his sack at Runa, so Zosta punched him and he collapsed.

The bag proved to contain an assortment of gold and silver pieces, valuable silver cutlery, a brass goblet, and a fine portrait that had obviously been cut from its frame. Now convinced that Gerald was a looter, the comrades tied him up securely. While they looked around the rest of the shop, they discovered a secret door behind the counter.

The door led to a descending stair. With Runa in the lead, the five Crusaders went down. At the bottom of the staircase they found a dirt-floored room, its floor covered by some kind of rotting plant material. Along the wall opposite the stairs stood a table and a chest. On the table rested a small statue of a six-armed woman with the body of a snake, holding a sword in each hand. Above the table on the wall was painted a symbol the several members of the group recognized as a common symbol of Baphomet used among human cultists. Then they heard a voice say, "I hope you are among Iomedae's slaves. I would hate to waste such a personal greeting from Lord Baphomet." The statue swung its swords, shattering a vial that sat on the table in front of it and releasing a cloud of vapor.

At the same time, some of the rotting plant material on the floor rose up and a small plant creature appeared. The little creature let out a piercing shriek. Suddenly everyone but Runa began to retch. Despite the nausea, Zosta managed to kick the creature. Asami abruptly felt herself burning, and Jiro's nose began to bleed. Jiro ran up the stairs. The little creature grabbed Runa by the leg and bit her viciously. Painful sparks danced over Asami, and her familiar Kirara yowled as she felt herself burned by acid. Then Kirara became extremely twitchy as though she couldn't keep still. Asami ran up the stairs after Jiro, taking Kirara with her.

Runa's eyes started to glow red and she realized that her natural ability to see in darkness had improved. The same thing happened to Jiro a moment later, though he had no natural darkvision to improve. Runa drew her sword and slashed at the creature and it bit her severely. Between the creature's bites and the effects of the cloud she was in serious condition. She called upon Iomedae’s divine fervor to heal herself, but then she became confused as an effect of the vapor that still filled the air around her, and struck herself with her own blade. That was more than her orcish constitution could withstand and she collapsed, on the verge of death. Aegron shouted frantically for help from the other companions who had fled upstairs.

Upstairs in the shop's main room, Asami had been trying to soothe Kirara, who was now wildly running back and forth on the countertop chasing her tail. Fortunately by this time the nausea caused by the plant creature’s screech had worn off and when Jiro, Asami, and Zosta heard Aegron's cry for help they all raced downstairs to Runa’s aid. The three companions saw that the creature was still biting into Runa’s leg even as she breathed her final breaths. Asami aimed a magic missile spell at it from the steps. Zosta vaulted off the staircase and landed on the tiny monster with the full force of both feet, causing it to burst like a pumpkin struck by a hammer and splattering everything nearby with its substance. Jiro then scrambled down to the floor and used one of his healing hexes to save Runa before should could breathe her last.

Zosta realized that the cloud of vapor was still inflicting damage on Runa when Jiro suffered first cold and then electrical injury from being within it. Zosta quickly moved Runa’s body out of reach of the magical vapor, and Jiro channeled positive energy to provide more healing. Asami braved the vapor to approach the makeshift altar and examine the remains of the bottle that had released the vapor, hoping that if she could discover what it was she could determine how long it would continue to affect the area. She realized by the vapor’s effects that it must be a bilious bottle, but she was unable to recall any other details about such an item. There was too little left of the shattered bottle to tell her more.

A short time later the cloud dissipated. After using their curative wand to recover from their injuries, the companions searched the chamber. But they found no other evidence of the Ivory Labyrinth presence there and nothing of worth other than the marilith statuette, which would swing its miniature swords when the name of Baphomet was spoken.

Scarab Sages

The group of new Eagle Watch members had suffered a good deal in their efforts to investigate the first of the the three Ivory Labyrinth safehouses they had discovered. Their first concern was to heal as much of their injuries as they could. Jiro used his magic to cure the wounds that Asami and Kirara had incurred. Afterward they ascended to the alchemist's shop and exited into the square.

There they found that the neighbors who had gone to bury the weaponmaker Logan beside the grave of his son had returned. When they told the local shopkeepers what they had found beneath Topaz Solutions, the neighbors were so grateful that they prepared a feast to serve to the five comrades. Jiro was disappointed that the people doing they cooking would not allow him to help.

After they had eaten there was music and dancing. While this small celebration was going on, a messenger came from Defender's Heart and delivered a message to Runa. She called her companions over to hear what it said, which attracted the attention of the local residents. Everyone fell silent while they waited to hear the contents of the message. When Runa opened it, she realized it was actually addressed to Aegronius and immediately handed it to him. Aegronius decided that he had nothing to hide and read the message aloud.

The message came from Irabeth, telling him that his friend Darla, who the companions had left at Horgus Gwerm's residence, had been seriously injured and was now being cared for at Defender's Heart. This news dampened the mood a bit, and the companions decided to return to Defender's Heart to find out more about Darla's condition.

When they arrived at the new headquarters of the Eagle Watch, they were met by Irabeth, who told them that while Darla was too badly injured to give much information she had described an attack at Gwerm's house. Darla had suffered an injury to her eye, one arm, and had lost part of one leg. She had also been afflicted by some poison that seemed to be demonic in origin. She had managed to tell them that some sort of demon had attacked her, which by its description resembled a babau, but it was impossible that a lone unarmed person could have escaped a babau, and Darla had clearly put up a fierce fight as evidenced by the injuries to her knuckles. She had also managed to scrape off some skin from her assailant, which had been examined and did seem to come from something like a babau yet different.

The group chose to remain at the inn for the night rather than continue on to the next safehouse location. That night Zosta received a parcel containing a leather sack which emitted a metallic clink when she lifted it. When she put her hand into the sack she couldn't reach the items inside and the sack seemed much larger inside that its exterior appeared. She upended the sack and a pair of gauntlets fell out. They could be worn as brass knuckles, but along the sides parallel with the edges of the wearer's palms were blades, so that the wearer could choose to slash her opponent rather than punch. Inscribed on the knuckles were the words "Little Sister". When Zosta read these words aloud the gauntlets were sheathed in flames, to her delight. She also realized that the gauntlets were made of cold iron. With the gauntlets was a note. Zosta opened it and recognized the scrawled handwriting as that of Rhino, the demon who had converted to the side of good and helped train her and her companions in methods to fight other demons. The note was brief, stating only that it was good Zosta was well, that her parents were also well, and that Rhino would see her soon. She realized that Rhino must have made the gauntlets himself.

The next morning Zosta showed the gauntlets to Asami, who told her that she would be able to invoke the flames for a short time thrice each day. In the meantime, Aegronius learned that Darla was awake and no longer feverish. He went at once to see her. Darla told him that Garvin, the mercenary who had agreed to protect Horgus Gwerm's mansion, had suddenly transformed into a demonic creature and seemed to go mad with frenzy. She thought that Gwerm had escaped, but she had only managed to do so by climbing out a window that the Garvin-demon couldn't fit through. Her description of Garvin's transformation contained elements of both a dretch and a babau, leading to the conclusion that he had become some sort of hybrid.

Aegronius joined his companions at breakfast and told them what he had learned from Darla. The tale of the demon hybrid and Garvin's transformation left them all confused. How could a hybrid of dretch and babau exist? Had Garvin been a demon all along or had he somehow been possessed?

Once they had completed their morning repast the five comrades decided to continue investigating the Ivory Labyrinth's safehouses. Their next target was the Tower of Estrod, which had served the city of Kenabres as a library and research laboratory. As they left Defender's Heart behind, they saw the body of a looter hanging from a gibbet. Irabeth had told them that the Eagle Watch was bringing in an executioner, as looting and helping the demon cultists were crimes deemed punishable by death.

The Tower of Estrod had once been a five-story structure, but the demons' attack on the city had destroyed the upper three floors and left them as a pile of rubble next to the circular tower. The companions had found a pass phrase in the documents they had acquired. They decided to bluff their way into the tower by pretending to be cult members. Jiro spoke the phrase, "I have new materials for the archive" in a surprisingly gruff voice, and they were admitted by an armored guard who was not trying at all to hide his affiliation with the cult of Baphomet.

Once inside the tower they could see that it had been even more badly damaged than was visible from outside. Sky could be seen through the broken second floor overhead. The guard who admitted them was at first somewhat dismissive, telling them not to disturb his commander, Faxon. Then Aegronius noticed something hiding up above, and Runa intimidated the guard into telling them that it was Faxon's familiar. He was so cowed that he seemed to think Runa was higher ranking in the cult than himself and he told her the group should go downstairs and report to Faxon. Jiro's monkey clambered up a pillar, while the rest crossed a walkway flanked by two rubble-filled pits and passed a stack of crates before reaching the staircase.

At the bottom of the stair they saw a room bisected by a wall, which held a set of double doors that were presently closed. In the part of the underground chamber that they could see were only more crates and a table that was evidently being used as a desk. Just as they arrived, the double doors opened, giving them a brief glimpse into a mostly empty chamber, though Aegronius saw a white bed with a dark stain at its center. A tiefling man stepped out from the other room and shut the doors behind him with the click of a lock.

The tiefling then told the group to turn over any loot they had acquired and give him a report. Zosta tried to size him up. He appeared to be doing the same to her, and by his expression he judged that Runa and Asami were the greatest danger to him. To stall for time the party members began reaching into their packs. Aegronius tried to lure the tiefling closer by showing him the magical ranseur he had recently obtained, but the tiefling only told him to put it on the crates. Then Runa took out her sword, pretending to show it to him as loot, and sliced at the tiefling.

The tiefling immediately cast a spell, which Asami recognized as a curse, and reached out to touch Zosta. Asami was relieved when Zosta appeared unaffected by the curse. Then a small winged creature landed on a crate and breathed out a blast of flame that engulfed all of the comrades. Asami flung a splintered spear at the tiefling. Zosta directed several fierce blows at the small creature, which she recognized as a fire mephit, and though she couldn't harm it with the flames from her new gauntlets it took only a few strikes to slay the creature. An instant later two cultists came running down the stairs. Jiro used a wand to summon a katana of force to combat them.

The tieflng had been startled by Asami's unusual spell, and cast another spell of his own which she knew could draw the life force from the victim and transfer it to the caster, He stepped forward and before she could react he touched her, sucking away almost all of her life energy and leaving her so weak that she toppled to the floor. Runa at once channeled divine energy that healed Asami just enough to bring her back from the brink of death. Zosta raced up the stairs, dodging past the two cultists and vaulted to the floor beside the fallen Asami, grabbing her limp body and dragging her toward the desk in the corner of the room.

While Jiro engaged the first of the two guards, Runa, Aegronius, and Zosta fought the tiefling. Jiro summoned fire to his hands. The tiefling cast another spell, which Asami was able to recognize by its verbal components even though she couldn't see him from her vantage on the ground. She identified the spell as one that would render the victim permanently blind. He tried to touch Zosta but she again resisted his magic. A moment later the mephit revealed that it was not dead when it shot a ray of fire at the group surrounding its master. It missed its aim, though, and the flames hit the tiefling, though his demonic heritage had made him immune to some of the burns caused by the mephit's flames. Asami then raised herself up enough to lift her wooden sword and sent an unerring missile of magical force at the tiefling.. Aegronius had abandoned his ranseur and drawn his sword, and he now stabbed the tiefling deeply, causing his foe to fall unconscious to the floor.

Jiro was still fighting the two cultists with his katana of force and his flames. The mephit tried to heat Runa's armor but failed and then flew away. Asami took the opportunity to drink a curative potion. Zosta charged up the stairs again to attack the second cultist and kicked him down the staircase. He was dead when he came to rest at the bottom. His comrade tried to flee but Jiro and Runa both attacked him and he joined his fallen mate.

When the cultists were all overcome, Jiro used a wand and his own healing energy to restore Asami. He then searched the two guards and the tiefling, gathering up all their possessions. The tiefling carried two keys. He also had booby trapped himself by carrying a scorpion, which stung Jiro but not seriously. One of the keys proved to open the double doors. These opened into a room that had little in it beyond a chest and a bed. A brazen head of a minotaur hung on the wall. Asami determined that the brazen head was magical, as were some of the contents of the chest. The stain that Aegronius had seen on the bed proved to be blood. As there was no one in the bedroom, the five companions realized that the tiefling must have been Faxon. He was not quite dead, so the companions decided to bind and gag him and take him back to Irabeth for questioning.

Asami detected divination magic emanating from the brazen head, which made her anxious that Faxon's masters might be scrying on the tower. But the magic did not seem strong enough to be a scrying spell. Runa threw the coverlet from the bed over the minotaur head. The second key taken from Faxon opened the chest, which held a wand, a pair of magical bracers, an enchanted cloak, a large amount of coins, five silver holy symbols of Iomedae, several swords, and a broken phylactery. Asami was unable to identify what spell the wand held, but Runa discovered that it could grant the blessings of the gods to a weapon. Asami determined that the phylactery had been magical before it was broken and would also have granted divine blessings to the wearer.

There were also some papers and a note within the chest, which provided some information the Eagle Watch would find very useful in combating the cultists. The note was addressed to Faxon and appeared to have been written before the attack on Kenabres, as it congratulated him on his new position and told him that Kenabres would fall soon, as well as mentioning some other names that the comrades had heard before, such as Vorlesh and Minago, who had signed the note.

Runa tried to learn more about the brazen head but was unsuccessful. Jiro felt that it would provide blessings to cult members. The group members then decided to destroy it rather than take it back to Defender's Heart. After they smashed it to bits they left the underground rooms, for the other crates contained nothing but poor-quality foodstuffs. Jiro's monkey locked the outer doors from inside and then climbed over the wall to meet them.

Back at Defender's Heart, they were given a shared reward of 2,000 gold pieces for having captured Faxon. The other items they had taken from the cultists they were allowed to keep or sell as they chose.

Loot:
2 potions of cure light wounds
2 scrolls of cause fear
2 scrolls of comprehend languages
2 masterwork chain shirts
2 bottles of unholy water
wand of cure moderate wounds, 9 charges
12 +1 crossbow bolts
bracers of armor +1
cloak of resistance +1
masterwork longsword
2 masterwork scimitars
5 silver holy symbols of Iomedae
2,310 copper pieces
759 silver pieces
122 gold pieces
11 platinum pieces

Scarab Sages

Having received a reward of 4,000 gold pieces from Irabeth for their investigations into the two Ivory Labyrinth safehouses, the new Eagle Watch team decided to sell some of the items they had acquired and divvy up the remainder among the group members. Runa found a priest who could make the broken phylactery whole and decided to wear it herself. She also claimed a couple of scrolls, while Jiro took the others. Asami sought a curative potion as she had been so badly wounded in the tower, and her comrades agreed that she should have a protective cloak in addition to the potion. Once she received her share of the coin, she used some of it to purchase a wand that would fire tiny unerringly accurate missiles of force at her chosen target.

While the group were taking care of this business, they heard some tales of a terrifying demon that had been seen about the city. The description of the demon sounded familiar to them, and they soon realized that it was not an enemy but an ally, the demon known as Rhino who had helped to train them in demon-fighting techniques under the supervision of Cennami. Zosta was especially eager to disabuse the city folk of their fear of Rhino after he had given her the gift of the magical punching gauntlets.

Irabeth had told the party that they should talk with Kednys Orland, leader of the Riftwardens, and they decided to do this after their trip to the next safehouse, Nyserian Manor. They made their way through one of the most damaged parts of Kenabres to reach the manor, which had completely collapsed into a heap of rubble. It was difficult to tell if the manor, like the other safehouses, had a subterranean level. They encountered a local resident who told them that she had seen a surprisingly large number of people fleeing from the manor during the demonic attack, and that they had all been wearing unusual robes. The group members recognized the description of the robes as those of Baphomet's cultists. The woman also knew that the manor had a basement, but as far as she knew it had no side entrance or other access. The basement now appeared to be completely filled with the fallen remains of the manor.

While they were talking with the woman she made a reference to someone named Kandro. Jiro and Runa recognized the name as that of the man who had purchased a sword stolen from Irabeth. He was also the master of Nyserian Manor. Our of gratitude for the information the woman had provided, Jiro healed her minor injuries. The group then decided that removing all the rubble from the manor's basement to search for more evidence was more work than they were willing to commit to, and they returned to Defender's Heart.

At Defender's Heart, Irabeth took them to meet Kednys. They discovered that he was unaware that Blackwing hadn't been completely destroyed or that Aravashnial had survived the attack on the city. He was pleased to learn both pieces of information. Afterward he and Irabeth told the group that they feared the attack had merely been a prelude to something far worse. They suspected that the demons were plotting to turn the power of the Wardstones back on the mortal world, releasing the demonic forces to invade through the Worldwound. The cultists had taken refuge in the Gray Garrison after the attack, and Kednys believed they held a fragment of a destroyed Wardstone there. He and Irabeth believed that this fragment must be destroyed to prevent the demons from using it to gain control over the other stones. They wanted the new Crusaders to help them attack the Gray Garrison and seek out the fragment. Kednys presented Asami with a forked rod that held a green stone between its two prongs, which he said would nullify the stone's remaining power.

Irabeth explained that the other Crusaders would attack other cult locations in an attempt to draw the defenders out of the Gray Garrison and deny them reinforcements, while Irabeth would go with the group to seek the stone. She admitted that they might not be successful in entering the garrison on their first try, as it was well fortified. But she had some aid to help them in their attack: six mongrelfolk had come from below ground to lend their aid, and they were all accomplished archers. Despite her still broken leg, Irabeth's wife Anevia would lead her old squad in one of the decoy attacks. Kendys then sent a messenger to Blackwing.

Before the messenger could go far, he returned in the company of a second courier who had been sent by Aravashnial. The second messenger carried a magical pack full of equipment, including another wand like the one Asami had just purchased but more powerful, several strong healing potions, a group of cold iron arrows, a chime that could open any door or gate, a wand that would cancel magical darkness, a cold iron greataxe, and a cold iron longsword. Asami took the two wands and one of the potions, Aegron took the greataxe, Runa the sword, Jiro the chime, and the remaining potions were given to the mongrelfolk along with the arrows. Irabeth explained that the decoy attacks would begin once the party attacking the garrison were in place. At that point, the group set out for the Gray Garrison.

Most of the buildings around the Gray Garrison had been reduced to rubble, but there were a few partial walls nearby. As soon as the group neared the garrison, the gates opened and a group of cultists emerged, preceded by what appeared to be two bloated, naked men. As the attackers came closer they saw that the two naked men resembled Kandro, lord of Nyserian Manor, and Lord Hulrune, former leader of Kenabres. Zosta suddenly remembered a type of demon called a vermlek that would wear the flesh of the dead. Clearly both Kandro and Hulrune were dead. The two vermleks ordered the cultists to attack, and the cultists responded by casting spells on themselves, which Asami recognized as protection against the energy of good.The attackers all moved toward the garrison's defenders except Asami, who hung back to use long-range magic.

Asami was the first to act after the cultists cast their spells. She used her more powerful wand to send three missiles of force at one of the vermleks. To her disappointment the missiles seemed to have little effect on the disgusting creature. One vermlek cast a spell at Aegron and Zosta, who were both near to it, inflicting wounds without any weapon. Aegron and Zosta attacked in return and observed that the vermleks' stolen skin closed over the injuries they suffered.

Jiro summoned up a wakizashi of force to attack one of the cultists. Asami decided that the human cultists were better targets than the demons, and sent three missiles at three cultists. Runa called on the power of Iomedae to bless her companions, while Zosa tapped her new gauntlets together and exlaimed "Little Sister!" to ignite their flames.

One of the demons struck at Aegron with the scythe it wielded and dealt him a grievous blow, nearly severing his hand. That injury, combined with the wounds the demon had already magically inflicted on him and the attacks of nearby cultists, left Aegron too weak to stand. After he collapsed, Irabeth rushed to his side to defend him and extended Iomedae's healing mercy to keep him from death. Runa then cast a spell that caused a burst of radiant light to engulf the demons and several cultists. The demons withstood the magic, but two cultists were left blind.

While the companions and Irabeth faced the demons, the mongrelfolk archers picked off cultist after cultist. Jiro's floating weapon was suddenly wrested from his control and moved to strike one of the demons, at the same time transforming from a wakizashi to a tetsubo. At the same time, Asami noticed several force missiles coming from the top of a broken wall nearby. She glimpsed a furry white paw holding a stick taking cover behind the wall, and realized that her newly-acquired wand was missing. She didn't take time to think of how curious it was that a monkey could use a wand. Instead she took Telendrev's silver scale from her pouch and applied it to her wooden sword, aligning the sword so that it could inflict damage with the power of good.

While Asami was engaged in this, the vermlek that had attacked Aegron had dropped its human guise, revealing its true form as a worm-like creature that lacked limbs to grasp the scythe. Irabeth then stepped up to it and with one blow of her sword nearly sliced it in two. The second vermlek began to recite the words of a spell, which Runa recognized as one to summon another creature. She called out a warning to her companions. Asami moved closer to where the remaining vermlek stood and hurled her splintered spear at it. Despite the fact that Irabeth and several cultists were between her and the demon, Asami's spear hit it, and she was rewarded with the satisfaction of seeing that it had wasted the spell it was casting. Two dretches had started to materialize nearby but after her spear hit they faded away. Zosta then turned her powerful blows on the vermlek and it joined its comrade in death. The remaining cultists were slain by the mongrelfolk archers, with the exception of the two blind men, who were encouraged to attack each other by Jiro mimicking the vermlek's voice.

Scarab Sages

April 9, 2017

Character level: 5th

After the team attacking the Gray Garrison had disposed of the two vermlek demons and their Baphomet cultist minions outside the fortress-like garrison, they searched the remains but found no key to unlock the heavy iron doors that had been locked behind them. At first they feared this would bring an end to their mission to enter the garrison. But Jiro made an attempt to pick the lock, and with the aid of a set of fine quality lockpicks that his monkey mysteriously produced, he was able to get it open. Asami, who had just discovered that she was now able to communicate verbally with her familiar Kirara, was confused when Kirara laughed at Jiro's efforts. It wasn't until afterward that Jiro remembered he had in his possession a magical chime that might have opened the doors with less effort.

The iron doors opened into an entry way decorated with a mosaic of Crusaders in battle with an army of demons. The mosaic had been defaced with vile graffiti, and the floor beneath was stained with fresh blood. As the attackers stepped inside the dimly lit entrance, shadowy figures emerged from a doorway to their left. Jiro exclaimed, "Cultists!" and began casting a spell. Asami stepped up behind him, as he held his lantern aloft and it illuminated the foyer. Half a dozen tieflings wearing the insignia of Baphomet cultists had emerged from a side chamber, where playing cards could be seen on a table. Asami sent three missiles of force from her newly acquired wand and one of the cultists collapsed.

As three of the mongrelfolk fired their bows at the cultists, one man rushed out and ran past the attackers into another chamber on the right of the entryway. A second man ran after him but was struck by Jiro's club. A man maneuvered behind Runa, who was standing next to the doorway from which the cultists had emerged, and stabbed her in the back. Two of his comrades also stepped into the entrance. Then darkness filled the area.

Zosta moved into the room to the right of the entrance, which proved to contain a small shrine to Iomedae that the cultists had attempted to desecrate. The man who had fled there was about to open a door on the far side of the shrine, but before he could do so Zosta tripped him and then stomped on him, crushing his ribs.

Asami could no longer see the cultists, but Kirara whispered in her ear and she directed Jiro's arm to attack the cultist who was standing directly in front of him. The mongrelfolk, who had no trouble seeing through the magical darkness, fired on the man who had stabbed Runa and slew him. Irabeth and Runa were also not troubled by the dark, and Irabeth killed another of the cultists. The last remaining man fled out the entrance of the garrison. One of the mongrelfolk outside fired on him. Then Jiro raced out after him, and Asami stepped outside to bring him down with more missiles from her wand.

The room the cultists had come out of proved to have no other exit and contained nothing of interest, other than evidence that the men had been gambling with severed body parts. The shrine had been smeared with blood and excrement, but the cultists had been unable to deface an inscription in the language of the Celestials that was on the wall above an empty sword rest. Runa took out a scroll and read it, granting herself the ability to read the inscription, which was a prayer to Iomedae that Runa found so moving it brought tears to her eyes. Jiro conjured up some water and an invisible servant and set his servant to washing the shrine clean. He knelt down to do some of the cleaning himself, and as he did so he noticed that the ornate script of the inscription formed the shape of a sword with different words inscribed on it. He called this discovery to Runa's attention, and she saw that the sword's message read, "Let us inherit thine arms, Iomedae." Encouraged by this, Runa tried placing her weapon on the stand and praying to Iomedae, but she didn't sense any change to the weapon, only a feeling of peace.

Leaving Jiro's servant to keep cleaning, the group opened one of the doors leading out of the shrine. They were immediately faced with a gargantuan demon filling the space beyond. This sight so terrified Kirara and one of the mongrelfolk that they both fled. But the rest of the group realized that the demon was far too large to occupy the space in which it appeared and must be some sort of apparition rather than an actual creature. The room in which the demonic vision appeared was actually quite small, but had three doors leading out of it. Zosta listened at one of the doors on the left and exhorted her companions to go through it.

The door opened into a room containing a smashed sideboard and an ascending staircase. It also held three creatures that the companions recognized as dretches, having met such demons while they were trapped under the city. Irabeth rushed into the staircase room to attack the dretches. When one of them made a move toward her she laughed and remarked, "You're trying that? I'm protected by Iomedae!" Her sword slashed into the dretch. Then one of the dretches released a cloud of foul-smelling gas that filled the room and spread into the small chamber beyond, blocking sight and causing Zosta to retch and vomit. Kirara was also affected and the little white cat began to retch into Asami's pack.

One of the mongrelfolk archers pulled Zosta out of the gas cloud. Runa started to step into the room with Irabeth, but Irabeth called out to her to wait and that she would lure the dretches into the other room. Jiro cast a spell on Runa. Irabeth moved into the small room and the dretches pursued her. Runa and Aegron attacked them and Aegron killed his target. Jiro cast another spell upon himself, but was distracted by the sight of his monkey, who seemed to be trying to lay hands on himself as Jiro had seen Irabeth and Runa do, though the monkey seemed to be struggling with this action. In the meantime Aegron and Irabeth slew the other two dretches. Once the creatures were dead the malodorous cloud dissipated.

Zosta had recovered from her sickness by this time and warned her companions that she had heard booted footsteps before the dretches appeared. Since the demons didn't wear footgear there must be someone else in the garrison. Then the doorway at the end of the small room opened, revealing four cultists who wore the insignia of the demon lord Deskari rather than Baphomet, and a fifth figure who was suspended from the ceiling. Like the Baphomet cultists at the entrance, all of the new foes appeared to be tieflings. Runa moved to attack and the man on the ceiling hurled a vial into the small room that exploded in flames, dousing everyone nearby and setting Irabeth on fire. Asami, Jiro, and Zosta were spared as they had all remained or retreated into the shrine room. Aegron moved forward to attack the cultists in the doorway. Jiro summoned a tetsubo of force to attack the suspended tiefling, but found him a hard target to hit. Irabeth patted out the flames and stepped to one side to lay hands on herself for healing.

Asami directed missiles from her wand at the suspended tiefling but they were deflected by a magical shield surrounding him. The mongrelfolk fired on the four cultists in the doorway, leaving one of them badly wounded. Runa then created a burst of brilliant radiance that left the cultists dazzled and the severely wounded man slumped to the ground. The man on the ceiling hurled another vial into the small room, this time setting Runa aflame. Zosta, who had finally recovered from nausea, moved into the room and disarmed one of the cultists. In turn she was struck by one of the others who wielded a scythe. Jiro ran into the room and channeled divine energy to heal his companions, and Irabeth laid hands on herself a second time.

Asami moved a step closer and sent a spell into the room where the man was suspended from the ceiling, wrapping him and the three remaining cultists in sticky vines. Unfortunately the vines also wrapped Aegron and Zosta, but they failed to entrap the man on the ceiling. The ceiling hangerthen hurled another vial that shattered and splashed Runa, who moved into the space occupied by the vines and set them on fire, then collapsed.

Two more of the cultists fell dead after they were burned by the flaming vines. Asami shot a magical arrow coated with acidic sap at the man on the ceiling but Zosta observed that the acid appeared to do him little harm. Jiro healed Runa and she got back on her feet, but the suspended foe hit her with another vial. Asami tried hurling one of her spears at him and missed. When he tossed yet another bottle of liquid Zosta slapped it out of the air, which caused it to only splash everyone instead of setting Runa on fire again. Jiro's tetsubo finally managed to hit the man, then vanished, the magic spent. Jiro then ordered his servant to shut the door into the shrine to prevent the man from exiting into the other room. He called upon the spirits of his ancestors to grant boons to Zosta and Runa. Zosta then grabbed hold of the suspended tiefling and lifted herself up by his arms, wrapping her arms and legs around him so that he couldn't move. Asami threw another spear but it also failed to connect with the man on the ceiling, who was surrounded by a magical effect that made him difficult to see clearly. He tried to drink a potion, but spilled it instead. One of the mongrelfolk managed to hit him with an arrow, then Runa then rendered him unconscious and Zosta dropped him to the floor.

Scarab Sages

Character level: 5th

In the aftermath of the fight with the ceiling-hanging alchemist and his cultists comrades, the assault team at the Gray Garrison took a few moments to check the corpses of their fallen enemies for any items of use. Asami and Runa both scanned the room for magical auras, finding five vials of magical potions, a ring, and a suit of enchanted leather armor worn by the alchemist. There were also a number of spell scrolls in the possession of the cultists. Some of the dead cultists had curative potions, which the assault group were glad to acquire. Runa examined some of the scrolls and found that half of them were meant to frighten the subject into fleeing in fear, which seemed to be a spell commonly given to the followers of Baphomet.

After the bodies had been relieved of useful objects, the group turned their attention to the chamber from which the cultists had emerged. It was a long narrow space lined by six white marble columns, which had once been carved in the likenesses of people but were now so badly defaced that they were unrecognizable. At the far end of the room an altar also of white marble had been overturned. On its uppermost surface lay a conglomeration of severed body parts stitched together into a vaguely insect-like form. Seven bedrolls lay on the floor next to the altar.

While some of his companions were looking into the room with the columns, Aegronius had gone to keep an eye on the doorway leading back into the shrine to Iomedae that stood to one side of the main entrance. Suddenly three demons appeared behind him. When he sensed them and turned to face them he saw that they were a type of demon he had seen before, ugly creatures that wore their heads where the chest region would be on a man, and had rat-like hairless tails. Before he could warn his companions one of these demons bit him and he felt strangely demoralized. Another demon bit one of the mongrelfolk who were with Aegron and the mongrelman collapsed.

Runa spied that Aegron and the mongrelfolk were under attack and summoned an area of blinding radiance that harmed the evil creatures. One of the other mongrelfolk pulled his fallen friend to safety and prepared to administer a potion. Two of the other mongrelfolk fired on the demons. Irabeth moved into the shrine room to face them as they attacked Aegron again. Irabeth was bitten as well but didn't suffer the same effect as Aegron had. From the other room, Asami could see two of the demons and she aimed her wand at the one nearest to Aegron, firing three tiny missiles into its body. Zosta ran past into the shrine, knocking the middle demon to the floor and slamming it with both of her gauntlet-clad arms, which sent it flying backward in a limp heap.

The other two demons began to mutter in the language of the Abyss, which Runa was able to identify as spellcasting. An instant later one of the demons vanished. Aegron stabbed the demon that was still standing, dropping it to the ground, after which Zosta smashed her fists into it. The demons had been defeated.

Aegron then went to examine the room that lay at the side of the shrine, which the group had previously bypassed. It appeared to have been a museum previously, but everything in it had been destroyed, with the exception of an adamantine morningstar which Aegron found. Having seen this variety of demon previously, he knew that they hated anything of beauty and after finding they couldn't destroy the morningstar they had likely used it to smash everything else. He also found the corpses of two men in full armor, who had both been decapitated. He realized then that the demons' hands had been covered in blood and they had probably been playing with the severed heads, using them as puppets.

While Jiro and Runa took out wands to heal the wounds suffered previously, Zosta went into another room that lay just off the columned chamber. This was was fitted as an alchemist's laboratory. Within it she found a portable alchemist's kit, a longsword in a case, and a small piece of parchment. The parchment contained a message addressed to 'Staunton', which said that the sword had once belonged to Irabeth but had been sold to Lord Kendro Nyserian, who had been punished for failing to reveal it earlier. Lord Nyserian was one of the victims of the vermlek demons outside, who had been wearing his skin as armor.

Zosta showed the sword to Irabeth, who explained that she had indeed sold the sword because she had wanted to purchase a wedding gift for Anevia. As she was now carrying the sword the group had fond beneath the city, she offered her old sword to anyone who would like to use it. After learning that it was enchanted to deal extra harm to evil creatures from other planes, Runa decided she would take it. She returned the sword that Irabeth had previously lent her in exchange for the new one. When she remarked that she would look on the blade as a gift from Iomedae, Irabeth responded that it was a gift from her, not from the goddess.

Jiro happened to look into the altar room at this time and spied a large creature standing at the far end in front of the overturned altar. It resembled a giant tortoise with a spiky shell, standing on two legs like a man. He was surprised to see such a creature in Kenabres, for he could tell that it had come from Tian Xia. Jiro quietly approached the creature and greeted it respectfully. It appeared to be sizing him up. One of the mongrelmen looked into the room as Jiro was walking toward the tortoise-creature, but the mongrelman only saw Jiro walking purposefully toward the altar. Zosta also looked in and saw the same thing. Her curiosity aroused, she went into the room to see what Jiro was doing.

Jiro bowed to the creature. He could sense that his monkey was tense, though he did not know if it was due to fear, anger, or excitement. As Jiro neared, the tortoise-creature smiled, then pointed toward a section of the wall at the end of the room. Then it bowed and vanished from sight. Zosta heard Jiro speaking, but she did not see the creature. Jiro turned to look at the wall the creature had indicated and saw that a section of it shaped like a doorway was glowing.

Aegron left the museum room and followed the others. When he looked into the altar room he also saw the glow and went in to see what was causing it. Zosta, too, could see it. Asami joined her companions and observed it as well, noting that it radiaed a strong aura of magical energy. When Runa joined the rest she too could see the glow, but when Irabeth came in she saw them all looking at a blank section of wall.

Suspecting that the door-shaped glow meant there was a hidden door in the wall, Runa said a prayer to Iomedae, but the door remained shut. Then Zosta suggested that she recite the prayer that was engraved over the shrine. Runa did so, but it had no effect. Jiro attempted to open the door without success. He also described the creature he had seen to Asami, hoping she might be able to say what it was, but she did not recognize it by his description. Then Jiro recalled that it must be a type of oni, though he couldn't explain why it would have pointed the magic doorway out to him. At that moment he also realized that Runa had recited the prayer incorrectly, transposing some of the words. When he reminded her of this she spoke the words of the inscription in the correct sequence and the door opened.

The room proved to be full of weapons and armor. Many of the weapons were made of cold iron, best suited for fighting demons. Irabeth, Zosta, and Runa all went into the secret armory. Zosta drew out the magic bag that Rhino had given her, and they began putting all of the items into the bag as quickly as they could. Two of the mongrelfolk had been standing guard at the door that led to the staircase, and they had heard voices and footsteps coming from the second floor. As the group members removed all the objects from the armory, the sentries warned that the sounds upstairs were getting louder. The group members hurriedly finished emptying the hidden room of its contents, then went to the museum room to retrieve the two decapitated corpses, which had been identified by their gear as paladins. Carrying the supply of weapons and armor and the two corpses, they hurried out of the Gray Garrison. As they departed from the structure, Irabeth ordered two of the mongrelfolk to pick up the remains of Lord Nyserian and Lord Hulruun.

A short distance away the group paused to rearrange what they were carrying and check that no one was following them. Then they made their way quickly back toward Defender's Heart. Irabeth parted from them before they reached the inn, telling them she would go to the various groups carrying out attacks elsewhere and tell them to continue for a little while so that the defenders of the Gray Garrison would not realize that the Garrison had been the true target.

When the group returned to Defender's Heart and told everyone that they had managed to clear the entire ground floor of the Gray Garrison, morale was improved. The supplies provided by Horgus Gwerm and the things found in the secret armory also heartened the defenders of the city. As some of the fighters from the other attacking groups returned to rest, a mood of celebration overtook Defender's Heart.

The group members looked over the items they had taken from their fallen foes and the armory of Iomedae and claimed those things that would be useful to them, arranging to sell the remainder. Runa took her old set of armor to the smith to ask him to repair the acid damage when he had time. Later she and Zosta found Aegron's friend Darla practicing some unarmed fighting skills, and Runa offered to spar with her, which Darla accepted. Aegron then spent the rest of the evening with her. Darla seemed oblivious to the pitying looks of those who saw her partially amputated leg and felt sorry for her. Aegron decided to set aside all his funds to pay for healing for her once a priest was available who could cast a powerful enough spell.

Asami went to her room to give Kirara a good brushing, as the little white cat had suffered a very trying day. Later, while Asami was studying her spellbook, she realized that Kirara was sleeping on top of an unfamiliar book. She left the cat alone, but when Kirara removed to a different location Asami examined the book and found that it was a small, old spellbook, which had had several pages torn out. She also observed that the 'bookmark' tucked into the book was actually a wand, one which looked rather like the wand that had suddenly vanished from her pouch while she and her companions were fighting with the cultists outside the Gray Garrison.

The following morning, the attackers regrouped and returned to the Gray Garrison to continue their search for the fragment of Wardstone. Jiro used the magical chime to open the front gate. They found that the museum room was still in just as much disarray as on the previous day. The alchemist's laboratory was even more of a mess, as though someone had thrown everything about in a rage. They met no opposition, but the staircase room had been filled with boxes and crates. The mongrelfolk quickly formed a line and passed the crates, re-stacking them in a way that they would not block access to either the stairs or the exit. While they were doing so Runa and Irabeth went into the altar room to try to clean it of filth and reconsecrate it. When the crates had been cleared the entire party climbed the stairs, leaving two mongrelmen behind to make sure that no other foes would come from outside the garrison.

Aegron climbed the staircase first. As soon as he opened the door at the top he found himself facing two archers who fired on him immediately. He could see more enemies behind him in another room. All of the foes he could see appeared to be tieflings. He stepped toward the archers, which led to him being peppered with arrows, but he nearly sliced off one tiefling's hand and the tiefling collapsed. Zosta then ran up the stairs. When she saw that there were more enemies behind where Aegron faced the archers, she ran into that room and knocked one tiefling down. Jiro then followed her onto the second floor and moved to heal the wounds Aegron had suffered from the arrows. One of the mongrelfolk moved to the second floor, and at that moment more enemies appeared from a side room, these dressed like cultists of Baphomet.

Zosta's opponent rolled away from her, but as he did so she slashed him with her bladed gauntlets and he fell unconscious. Two of the archers fired on her. One of the cultists or tieflings cast a spell from a scroll and Aegron was consumed by terror and forced to flee. As Aegron departed two cultists stabbed their polearms at Jiro and two archers fired on him. Asami, who had been waiting at the bottom of the stairs, climbed up behind Irabeth, who had already reached the second floor, and used her wand to strike one of the archers with missiles. As Aegron ran past Irabeth she tripped him and he fell, but he scrambled to his feet and kept running.

In the other room Zosta tripped another tiefling and slashed him. Jiro's monkey produced a tanglefoot bag from somewhere and threw it, causing one of the attackers to be stuck to the floor. Jiro summoned a tetsubo of force. Runa moved to attack the cultists and was wounded in the hand. One of the tieflings tried to get past Zosta, but she dropped him to the floor and left him dead at her feet. One of the other fallen tieflings had been attempting to coordinate his attack with the one who died, but his efforts proved too much for him and he lost consciousness. One of the cultists cast a spell, telling Runa to flee, and several of the others attacked her. Then another door opened, revealing more tieflings, followed by a third door opening near the head of the stairs to reveal yet more enemies - and with them, a large winged bird-like creature.

Loot:
4 scrolls of comprehend language
ring of protection +1
2 potions of cure light wounds
potion of cure moderate wounds
potion of mage armor
potion of barkskin
potion of invisibility
+1 adamantine morningstar
+1 longsword of evil outsider bane
3 cold iron longswords
2 cold iron shortswords
Compound longbow of +2 strength
2 heavy crossbows
Cold iron heavy mace
2 cold iron longspears
50 cold iron crossbow bolts
Masterwork longsword
5 holy arrows
Arrow of evil outsider slaying
2 suits of masterwork chain armor
Masterwork breastplate with Iomedae symbol
Masterwork heavy steel shield
Heavy steel shield of blinding
Holy symbol of Desna
Holy symbol of Shelyn
Holy symbol of Iomedae
350 gold pieces each from sale of items

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