Siege of Darguun - Part I - The long march to war

The mysterious tower

After bidding our farewell to the Eladrins we decided to head toward a mysterious tower in the middle of nowhere that Morrowood told us about. Arriving at the area, we were hit by a blizzard that even though we suspected it was not real, still froze us to the bone but we managed to pass through it just to get attacked by a bunch of blue feywild goblins obviously used to the snow but we easily dispatched them although their defense setting had an interesting layout to give them a tactical advantage.

Soon after we arrived at the tower itself, a twisted but still impressive black rock tower covered by a thick layer of ice. It was showing several gargoyles that, of course, attacked us and it was a nasty fight; we prevailed but had to use much of our resources.

Once the fight was over and we were rested, we destroyed the ice covering the door to enter the tower proper; It didn’t take long before the hosts of that place, some icy creatures, tried to show us how much unwelcome we are but being the bad guests we are in those circumstances, we just decided to stay and kick their frozen buttock solid.

Exploring the 1st floor, we saw 4 fireplaces with blue flames that we figured were some kind of portals; Victor closed one but we decided to keep the others on because we weren’t certain of what would happen if we were to close all of them since this place is kind of a wierd mix of various planes; we decided to explore the whole place before taking a decision about them; we also found a small crystal statue showing Asmodeus that Morroco ‘clumsilly’ droped on the floor where it shattered; no religious zealot will put a dirty hand on it anymore!

The second floor had nothing special but the third floor had some kind of laboratory with a pentagram carved on the floor. We found some acid that we used to destroy that pentagram even though it wasn’t active, just in case.

The tower seemed higher than that so we looked around and found a magical elevator to the fourth floor, the bedchamber where Victor found some rituals but nothing else of interest except another elevator that led to the top of the tower.

The top was like a cocoon of ice with a big sphere floathing in the air; the sphere summoned some kind of fey golem which was the hardest foe were ever faced so far. To our dismay, it was using domination to use us against our own allies with great effectiveness since it is an attack Morocco and Giovano are especialy weak against but against all odds, we prevailed but it was a close call and long battle.

After closing the remaining portals and taking an extended rest, we headed toward Greenheart, the main druid’s settlement to meet their leader Oalian to try to get some help in our mission to free Atrius’ eladrin tower from the siege it is facing. We are staying at the inn which, strangely enough, wasn’t owned by the halfling guild but by a human.

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Games of Throne: The training ground

After a couple days walking in Droaam flatlands, the group finally entered the forest around the Eladrin tower, the Spire of Rose and Thorn, where life seems very peaceful with children playing in gardens full of magnificent flowers.

The tower itself is a stunning sight, the roses climb around it’s walls that seems to have been carved from a single block of rock and a waterfall drops from the tower going around it.

As we approach the gardens, Atrius explained that those Eladrin were mostly traditionalists and told us how to behave to not offend them.

We eventually reached the gardens where we were greeted by a patrol; after telling them that we requested an audience with their lord, we were brought before Lord Eversun in the throne room. The lord wore a full face helm because in the past, a lord wearing that helm fell in battle and in order not to demoralize the troops during the fight, another eladrin put it on and acted like he was the true lord.

The court was all noble people except for one strange sight, a full orc! We learned that he was a druid and an ambassador for 4 years now but it has been only 2 years since he was trusted enough by the Eladrin of the tower.

After explaining that we come here to learn why communications with the outside was cut, which appeared to be simply because they had no teleportation circles or communication stones, we were told that we were guests and we were given 2 suites and a steward.

Now the goal was to convince Lord Eversun to lend troops to help lift the siege of Shae Joridal by force. To do so, we needed to convince some influential nobles that it is in their best interest to help us.

During a banquet held in Atrius MoonOrchid’s honour that evening, Atrius tried to sound out Lord Eversun as to his intentions. For their part, Victor and Morocco met a young lord, Virgil Brightblade who was the heir to one of the Houses and seemed to have a more open mind.

The next day, we went to talk to him in the gardens where he was studying. Nice pragmatic lad he is, a fine lord he’ll become and helpful to the cause he will be. He told us about Lady Briseis, his kinswoman, who might be able to assist us. In addition, he spoke favourably of the captain of the guard, Thetis Starshine, who, although a commoner, had the ear of the lord.

So off we go to talk to Briseis Brightblade, a charming greedy creature she is; we gave her a topaz to get her on our side and Morocco asked her to teach him the Eladrin dance which made his companions roll their eyes thinking Morocco, the simple mind barbarian, was again thinking about scoring with a highborn; they later saw the wisdom of that move when Lord Eversun called for a ball and Morocco impressed them all with his ability to not look like a fool while dancing! Being well dressed by Victor’s cantrips that managed to sew together 2 suits of clothing in order to make 1 suit for Morocco helped a lot too!

Before the ball we also met with Captain Thetis, a to-the-point soldier, she sees the wisdom of helping others to get their help in return. It helped that the bad guys are foul monsters too, she seemed actually eager to help our cause to learn more current tactics. We also learned that Lord Eversun is somewhat also open minded.

We talked to the secretary, a dour man and a hardcore traditionalist, we definitely didn’t have the diplomatic skills to bring him to our side but in the end, it didn’t matter.

Finally, Morocco was sent to meet with Morrowwood, the orc druid, since it was assumed that being half the same race would make him more open to talk. It was the case. Morrowwood invited Morocco on his balcony where hundreds of birds were living, it was an impressive sight.

Morrowood said the birds are there to prevent eavesdropping which I am not sure it’s that effective since we have to talk louder to be heard but Morocco suspect that the birds are messengers and spies which might be why he knew about the siege but the fellow is a nice enough guy, he gave Morocco chunk of meat and ale!

They talked about how the druids can help us with the siege even though they aren’t a centralized government, if their ways could be call that in the first place, but he told us to go see their spiritual leader Oalian at Greenheart to see what they can do for us.

Morrowwood inquired about something troubling … Morocco had an aberrant aura, from the nightmare plane, he said, so Morocco told him about what happened at the village when we fought the nightmarish creatures. This appeased Morrowwood’s suspicions because he is a member of the Gatekeeper Druids, who protect Khorvaire against incursions from the Nightmare Realm. Morrowwood mentioned that it seems that gateways to the nightmare planes seem more active than usual.

Morocco told him that the group is at his disposal if he needs help. Since Morocco also asked him about interesting areas nearby, Morrowwood mentioned that he had seen a tower encased in ice not too far from Shae Loralyndar before going to Greenheart.

It was now time to convince Lord Eversun to grant us some troops to help remove the siege. Atrius was so eloquent and masterful in his diplomacy that Lord Eversun was convinced that we were doing him a favor by lending us some of his troops!

Before leaving, Victor used his Animal Messager ritual to send an update to Felkuk Aasha. Felkuk will take care of ensuring the logistics of bringing Shae Loralyndar’s force to Darguun.

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Game of Thrones

Leaving behind Tanis, the party gave their farewells to the Blackthorns so as to continue their journey towards the Druids’ forest and the Eladrin spire, Shae Loralyndar.

Along the way, they easily dispatched a nest of harpies before finally arriving at Grimstone Citadel, intending to spend the night at the House Tharashk allied town. The local Lord, Neera the Mad, was a Tiefling sorceress who, despite having a predilection for torture and outright brutality, was perhaps not nearly as mad as she let on.

At the gate, they were met by guards who, having heard of Morocco’s reputation, wished for him to demonstrate his barbarian ways. Unamused, Morocco let them know in no uncertain terms what he thought of their demands. They let the party pass without further word.

Just past the gates, they noticed some carnival style tents, apparently a gnomish troupe come to entertain the local populace. Being very tired after their long journey, the party wished nothing more than to simply move past and offer Meera their courtesies before retiring to their beds.

As much as Atrius would have preferred his presence to remain unnoticed, the sight of one of the feyborn Eladrin outside ones of their spires was certainly a curiosity. After a few words, Meera eagerly offered a challenge to the party: One of their own versus one of hers in exchange for a recently captured spy if accusations held true.

Said prisoner was in terrible shape and would likely not have survived another night in her care.

The rules were simple: Whoever of the two champions was still left standing would do what he wished with the prisoner. Giovanni volunteered to step into the ring. His opponent: a massive Half-Ogre with a mean disposition.

While Giovanni held his own at the start, it became quickly apparent that the half-ogre’s sheer size and strength were keeping the human fighter in a disadvantageous defensive footing. Atrius and Morocco needed to quickly find some ways of turning the tables. In other words, they had to cheat without getting caught.

Meanwhile, the human prisoner, damn near exhaustion, had just enough remaining willpower to distract the half-ogre through a few well timed cantrips. Atrius quickly caught that, and also caught the goblin referee eying the prisoner suspiciously. He gestured angrily to the prisoner to stop lest he be caught and summarily executed (possibly with the rest of the group), but when he gave no indication of wishing to slow down, Atrius moved alongside the goblin to attempt some distractions. Including stepping on his foot with an audible crunch of bones snapping.

Morocco decided he needed to distract Meera as well … with his tongue in her mouth. What ensued could only be described as a demi-human orgy that no one outside of the greenskin races should ever have to bare witness to. There is a reason why half-ogres never feature prominently in romantic tales as protagonists.

As Giovanni’s blade spilled the blood of the half-ogre amidst the latter’s death cries, the prisoner moved from where he had crawled to during the fight to threaten Meera with a dagger to her neck. The whole room went silent as Atrius and Morocco gently pulled him away from her. Meera advised the party, through gritted teeth, that the prisoner was theirs as part of their deal, but should he ever step into her domain again, he would be killed the moment he was past the gate.

In their rooms, Atrius quietly but sternly had a chat with their new party member, a wizard by the name of Victor Hellgrave, regarding the virtues of restraint and working as a team. As it turned out, the wizard was indeed a spy from Aundair.

The following morning, as the party was departing the citadel, Giovanni noticed one the gnomish entertainers watching the group. Giovanni and Morocco decided to go have a chat with the gnomes while Atrius and Victor remained just outside earshot to discuss their individual goals.

Atrius’ misgivings aside, Morocco was intrigued by the gnomish act, and what they may be hiding, and invited them to travel alongside the party for the remainder of the day. That night, in exchange for some silver, the troupe performed for the four of them. By the time they woke up the next morning, the troupe was gone. No items were discovered stolen.

On the edge of the great forest, a loud explosion was heard, not unlike the sound of thunder. The group ran towards the source of the blast to investigate. They discovered their way blocked by a shallow ravine dense with brush and thicket.

With only a thin tree trunk to use, no one held any delusions as to their ability to safely cross over it, so the group felt it best to simply chop their way through the brush. As it turned out, small insect and lizard like abominations lay in wait and jumped them as they crossed.

The krutiks (Pat, is that the correct spelling?) proved an easy challenge for the group who ripped them apart with barely a scratch despite their numbers. After a few days of proper sleep, Victor’s area of effect bursts proved invaluable against the weaker critters.

Arriving at the source of the blast, the party came upon a graveyard where they discovered some sort of portal and an unconscious and dying young woman with a dagger in her chest. Victor ascertained that the portal connected this world to the nightmare realm, brought about by some ritual in that very spot. Unfortunately, it was impossible to close without the original scroll, a small corner of which the girl clutched firmly in her hand.

After stabilizing the strange girl, the group carried her to the nearby village, only to find it under attack by creatures of nightmare. Two hulking 4 armed blue skinned demons came running at the party. While Giovanni held them at bay, Morocco finally did demonstrate his barbarianesque ways. In a fit of rage, several well placed swings utterly gutted the first demon, and the subsequent charge wounded the next. The latter demon remained virtually locked in place through the efforts of the party’s defender and the icy rays of Victor’s magic.

Just when the heroes felt that they had just won another easy fight, the master appeared: A shadowy winged demon that was virtually impossible to hit due to it’s irritating ability to pop in and out of invisibility and strike unseen. The party managed to get a few lucky cuts here and there, slowly whittling it away until finally, as the demon flew over the group to flank the wizard, Atrius’ running leap planted his greatspear through the demon’s chest and into the ground, ending it’s short lived attempt at otherwordly glory.

After the adventure (Pat’s email cause I feel like being lazy at this point):

Treasure
Upon searching the bodies of the nightmarish creature and its lackeys, you find a roughly cut yellowish gemstone (topaz, worth 100 gp) and aged, battered crown. Upon inspection, it seems to have some spidery writing inside in a language you cannot identify. Victor is certain that the crown radiates magic. You also find on the body of the nightmarish creature the scroll used to open the portal, with the corner missing from where it was torn from the woman you found.

Wrapping up the adventure
Victor uses the ritual on the scroll to close the portal to the Realm of Nightmares (Victor, you can also inscribe the ritual “Seal Portal (4th level)” in your spell book). When the woman becomes coherent, you manage to piece (at least part of) the story together from her.

The woman’s name is Redra. Her mother, Kirstal, spent twenty years suffering from the same nightmare in which she was attacked by the weird nightmarish creature you vanquished. The creature always said the same thing before attacking her “She must not live!”. When Redra was 13, her mother succumbed to the nightmare and committed suicide. Three years later, Redra began having the same nightmares. She has been suffering them for ten years.

Although not a wizard, she learned enough about magic (more specific ritual magic) to identify the sort of ritual that would be necessary to open a portal to the realm of nightmares. She managed to get her hands on the right ritual and deciphered how to cast it. She went to the graveyard to cast it in the hopes that her mother’s grave would give her additional strength. She intended to confront the nightmare with a cudgel and a dagger, but fell to the dagger wielding foulspawn before the nightmare even escaped. The nightmare stopped just long enough to tear the ritual from her hand before continuing on to the village.

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The meeting

An Eladrin named Atrius Moonorchid came to Droaan to buy mercenaries in order to defeat a siege on his homeland’s tower. He met some house Tharashk representatives, the half-orcs Morocco Nightbrawler and Felkuk Aashta, the human Giovanni Tartaglia and the dwarven banker Wulgar d’Kundarak to finalized the deal which was done successfully.

It was agreed upon that house Tharashk was to provide a troop of 200 mercenaries to Atrius 13 months after the conclusion of the deal and both Morocco and Giovanni are to accompany Atrius in his mission as house Tharashk representatives.

13 months is quite long and Atrius had another mission to propose to Morocco and Giovanni in the meantime, visit another of the Eladrin’s tower in Druid’s territory to see if they can land a hand to free the besieged tower. They both accepted the mission.

On the road the new adventuring party met a troop of don’t remember rave which seemed to have taken interest in Atrius. Morocco tried to intimidate them but he was too clumsy in his attempt so Atrius finished up the job and they passed their way without a fight.

The day was drawing to an end as the group arrived at clan Blackthorn settlement, a couple tents around a wooden longhouse, which are allied to clan Nightbrawler so it was aggreed upon to stay there for the night.

Coming near, Morocco sensed that something was wrong, the place seemed too empty and there was some noises coming from the longhouse. Giovanni stealthed successfully on his way toward the longhouse and noticed that there seemed to be only youths or elders in there.

The group decided to see what was going on there so they headed toward the longhouse where they got greated by an eldery half-orc, Vraga, one of Blackthorn’s concil member that explained why that, effectively, all the warriors were gone.

Around midday, a young boy, got bitten by a concatrice which turned him into stone and all the warriors left to hunt it down. According to Vraga, they have 24 hours to bring back the feathers of a concatrice to be able to restore the boy to normal.

Suddenly, someone entered the longhouse, an old friend of Morocco, Tanis half-orcish, that went to study magic for a good while so they lost sight of each others. He was traveling back when he got the same idea as the group about getting shelter here. After being told the boy’s story they all agreed upon helping clan Blackthorn.

Tanis told the group that he saw a cockatrice on his way and took shelter to avoid it so the group headed toward that place. On the way they go attacked by some feathery lizards that weren’t cockatrices and a battle started.

Tanis’ study must have included some steroids and magical vitamines because he was hitting the lizards incredibly hard making that fight a walk in the park so the fight was soon over and they resumed their hunting.

The area where Tanis saw the cockatrice was a rather deep ravine; searching around for signs of the cockatrice, they noticed some caves near the bottom and found a narrow walkaway that was going down toward the caves so they moved on.

On their way, an angry drake was coming the other way and attacked us; it managed to bull rush Giovanni over the edge of the path but he managed to hang up while Tanis, him again, slide the drake over the edge all the way to the bottom…fight was over so the group moved on toward the caves.

They searched the cave for 3 hours before finally finding not one but two cockatrices. While Tanis continue performing his miracle hits, Morocco got bitten and never recovered so was turned to stone; fortunatly, the others put an end to the threats even though a spider decided that we would make a nice lunch which turned out to be a quick death wish.

With 2 cockatrices, there was enough fethers to restore Morocco status as well as the boy’s so it ended for the better finally and Arva, clan chief Arvhouse Blackthorn, organized a banquet to honor the group’s deed.

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