Princes of the Apocalypse

Rivergard Keep - Part 2
When pirate wereboars attack!

Hiding on the other side of the secret door, the party hears the man on the other side barking orders, and after a moment, they hear him leave the room and things fall quiet. D’ari slides the door open a crack and peeks out, spotting two guards who aren’t really paying attention. Merric wiggles his way through everyone’s legs and pops up into the room rather noisily, snapping both of the guards’ attention his way. Luckily, he is able to bluff his way into belonging in the Keep.

Sensing a distraction, D’ari flies into the room, sliding on her knee and throwing a fire chromatic orb at one of the guards, setting him on fire. A fight immediately breaks out and the two guards go down. Unfortunately, more guards spill out of a bunk room on the second floor. The fight is taken to the balcony there.

With dead bodies scattered about the room, our heroes feel a bit safe, at least until Idallo opens a door and comes face to face with a magic user and a hairy, angry looking man who both attack. The attack is vicious, moving from the room to the balcony as the man suddenly transforms into a massive wereboar. In the end, he is flung from the balcony, landing on the desk below.

Searching about, the party finds all sorts of interesting treasure and also a note detailing “trouble makers” in Red Larch that match their description. Idallo slips downstairs and presses his ear to yet another door. He hears frightened voices on the other side. . .

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Rivergard Keep
Heading upstream

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The heroes decide to leave the Spire behind, and they retrace their steps through the Sighing Valley. However, just as they are leaving they are attacked by a group of Feathergale Knights riding their giant vultures. One vulture is shot from the sky, instantly plummeting to her death and killing her rider in the process. Another rider goes down, and his vulture manages to wing its way to safety, barely hanging on to life. The leader of the posse also retreats, realizing he’s outnumbered. Seeing no point in retaliation at this point, the party continues onward to Rivergard Keep. Along the way, Bilkka receives a message from the Harpers, telling of four elemental cults who have taken root in the valley, and to be on the look out. The Harpers think the cults may have something to do with the delegates’ disappearance.

D’ari tells the group of a secret passageway into the Keep. The party finds a large log and pushes it into the river, upstream from the Keep. Hanging on to the log, they float down the stream in the darkness of night, detaching themselves and swimming through the river opening and then down beneath the gate guarding the underground boat dock beneath the keep. At the dock, they take stock and notice that there is a spiral staircase leading up to the keep. However, there is also a dark river that continues onward under the keep, disappearing into the caverns. Unable to resist the siren call, they board the moored boats and turn towards the river.

Several ghouls pop up from the water, blocking their passage. Thinking quickly, Idallo stands at the bow and proclaims his loyalty to Olhydra. The ghouls seem to ponder that, and then let them pass.

The river leads beneath the caves to what seems to be an ancient Dwarven cavern that has been overrun with strange cultists. Despite protests from some of the party, D’ari and Idallo decide to scout the eastern side of the complex. Sensing they are outnumbered, and a bit out of their league, they head back to the boats, rowing their way back to the Keep’s underground access.

The party climbs up the spiral stairs, pausing when they find the wrong side of a secret door, and hearing a booming and angry voice on the other side.

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The Feathergale Spire
Even villians can be charming

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The heroes make their way up a small trail that leads to the top of the canyon, and to the entrance to the Spire. They ring a bell and are admitted across a drawbridge. When they enter the spire, Tara is immediately recognized by an old friend, named Savra, who immediately welcomes her and the others. The Feathergale Society is having a feast tonight and they are more than welcome to join!

The heroes meet the commander of the knights, a man named Thurl Merosska, who invites them to stay, explore the spire, and join them for the feast. Tara, Idallo, and Bilkka all take him up on the offer with the latter of the two heading straight for the kitchens. D’ari and Meric have other plans. They slip away and begin to make a full sweep of the tower, slipping past knights, and bluffing their way into places they shouldn’t be.

In Merosska’s rooms, they find a note from someone named “Aerisi” that explains that the Feathergale Society is indeed responsible for the capture of at least one of the delegates. They also find quite a bit of coin in the various personal chambers, which they split between themselves.

At the feast, Idallo tells the Feathergales all about their adventure so far, leaving very few details out. The end of his tale is interrupted by the sudden appearance of a Manticore. The knights hop on vultures, and the party hops on borrowed hippogriffs. The hunt is on! It is our intrepid heroes that find the manticore first, and after an aerial battle, Merric lands the killing blow. At the spire, he is rewarded with Thurl Merroska’s ring as a prize.

Pleased with them, Merroska tells them that the Black Earth Clan, located at the Sacred Stone Monastery, is responsible for the disappearance of the delegation (though the note they found negates this information somewhat) and that is where they can find the missing Mirabarians.

Savra confides in the heroes that the Feathergale Society is actually a front for the Cult of Howling Hatred – the worshipers of Elemental Air, and the Prince of Evil Air – an ancient being that will rise up and punish the evil doers of Waterdeep. She also lets slip that there is an entrance to a deeper temple somewhere in the valley that leads to where Aerisi, their prophet and queen, might be.

Worried that their prisoner is being kept in one of the guarded rooms, Merric spider climbs his way along the outside of the spire to peek into windows. He uncovers that nothing is amiss in the spire, but is unfortunately spotted by one of the Knights atop the spire. The heroes are briskly escorted from the Spire and the drawbridge is drawn up.

With their access to the spire revoked, and with the knowledge that no missing delegates are there, the party decides to press on to Riverguard Keep.

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The Sighing Valley
The wind is starting to pick up...

With night falling and a storm rolling in, the heroes decide to stay the night with the shepherd, Larmon. D’ari settles in with the sheep and sheep dogs in the barn, while the rest of the party make themselves at home in Larmon’s living room by the hearth. Rain begins to batter at the roof as they finish their dinner and settle in to sleep.

In the barn, D’ari notices one of the sheep dogs stand up and start to pace and growl beside the door. She peeks out and, within the flash of lighting, sees several people approaching the house. She’s quick to sneak out the back of the barn just as the dogs begin to bark. The barking alerts Larmon, who tells the others in the group that he thinks he sees someone outside. Merric slips out the back of the house and notices that a group of 8 men have snuck up and paused outside the house, with weapons drawn.

At once, the rogue and the warlock attack. Within the rain, a viscous battle unfolds. D’ari manages to light up 5 of the 8 people with fairy fire before the strange mage paralyzes her. Not long after, Tara is paralyzed as well. Even with two of their own down, the party manages to fight off the attack and take the mage prisoner.

Even with death staring him in the face, the mage refuses to talk too much. He sneers and laughs at the party, telling them that his prophet sees all, and that the Crushing Wave cannot be vanquished. He speaks of a creature named Olhydra who will swallow the valley in water. D’ari is left alone with the mage, and after many minutes of screaming, the barn falls silent and D’ari leaves, having taken care of the mage.

Shaken, Larmon goes to look at the people who attacked his home. He is confused and frightened, pointing out that the mercenaries look like they came from Rivergard Keep, but he isn’t sure why they would be attacking them as they guard the river from brigands and thieves.

The party manages to find some sleep and Larmon is a bit relieved to see them go. They are torn over whether to head to Feathergale Spire as they had planned, or go to Rivergard Keep. In the end, they decide to head to the Spire first, since it is closer. They move through a small gorge that leads towards the spire. A pair of nesting griffons are carefully skirted around and they pause when they spot a group of gnolls foraging near the river. Sneaking past them fails, and the gnolls are quick to attack, laughing in high-pitched hyena noises each time someone (even their own) is hurt in battle.

The slaughter is quick, but the heroes take a bit of damage. Once the group of gnolls is brought down, they turn their sights back to the Spire.

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Moving Stones and Delegates
Things are getting worse

The company moves through the next door, only to find an old man cowering and begging to be spared. He tells them much the same that the young boy did, giving them very little in the way of new information. The heroes let him go and then they enter the Chamber of Moving Stones. The chamber is much as promised – with large stones and pillars everywhere. From behind one, steps Larrakh, the priest who seems to have corrupted the Believers. He laughs and tells them about how easy it was to manipulate the Believers, especially once he discovered how the stones move. The heroes are standing in his way of having Red Larch in the palm of his hand.

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A fight ensues, but even with the stones to shield him, Larrakh doesn’t make it out alive. D’ari finds a secret door and when they follow the path, they find that it comes out behind the wagonworks store. A quick walk back to the sinkhole finds the town elder’s speaking with the constable, Harburk. The constable hears what the heroes have to say and decides it’s time to investigate the hole, before the town elders have a chance to cover anything up.

The next morning, the town is full of gossip. Corpses were found, and murder charges have been brought forth. The whole town has been turned upside down. Our intrepid heroes find this to be an opportune time to go and investigate the rumors of a haunted tomb just outside of town.

The ‘haunted’ tomb turns out to be an actual specter, whom they get rid of. They rob the grave of its unneeded treasures and then step out, only to be ambushed by an orc and a goblin. But with so much fighting under their belt, these two creatures prove to be very little problem. The party walks back to town, a little richer.

Back in town, the faction contacts are quick to contact each of them with urgent news. It seems a delegation from Mirabar has gone missing along the road to Summit Hall. Each faction has various reasons for being interested in this – but it’s clear that the missing delegation needs to be found, and fast.

Kaylessa hears them speaking about the matter at the inn and helpfully points out that a nearby shepherd was in town, boasting about finding some fresh, shallow graves near his fields. The heroes are quick to seek him out and question him. He helpfully walks them to his fields and Bilkka digs up the graves. Lo and behold, they find within two dead Mirabar guards, a dead man wearing stony armor, and a dead female wearing a feathered cloak. Larmon, the shepherd, mentions that feathered cloak wearing person looks like a Feathergale Knight. In the fading light of dusk, he points north towards a large tower 10 miles away that can be seen on the horizon.

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The Sinkhole
Uncovering an underground society...

The tremor of the earth and the sounds of screams alert the heroes. All five of them are quick to arrive to the scene, only to find that a sinkhole has opened up nearly in the town square. Lady Drouth is beside herself with horror as three of her children have disappeared down into it, along with one of the butchers. Bilkka is the first to rush to the hole, and with unsure footing, she’s quick to fall in, landing amongst the debris below. The other party members are more cautious. A rope is lowered and, one by one, the townspeople are rescued and pulled to the surface. Bilkka, however, is not quick to leave. The sinkhole has opened up a strange room down below the city, which seems to lead deeper.

Above, the town elders are trying their best to deter the rest of the party from entering. They’re trying to take control of the scene, and their desperation raises the suspicions of the others. The remaining four heroes quickly climb down into the hole, despite the elder’s protests. Below they find a strange dwarven looking chamber and they begin to explore deeper.

A few rooms in, they find the bodies of several murder victims with a strange symbol carved into their foreheads. Merric quickly recognizes it as the same symbol he saw on Miraj Viazann’s armor. They quickly press forward. Further in, they are ambushed by several men wearing stony armor and stone masks. It’s a tough fight, but the party manages to beat them. They discover a strange statue of a petrified dwarf with offerings left before him. D’ari wastes little time in scooping up the gold and sheathing a magical dagger named Reszur laid amongst the offering.

In the next chamber they find a rather upset orc whom they quickly get rid of, and a poor young boy who has been pinned down with rocks. They free the child and he tells them that the chamber is actually the meeting place for the “Believers” – a group of town elders and leaders. Within the compound is a chamber with “moving stones” that magically move on their own. The elders study their movements and decide what the movement divine, so as to keep Red Larch safe. But a new priest has arrived. He’s now the one that watches the stones and guesses their meaning, and he has started making the Believers do “bad things.” The young boy points towards the east, to show where the chamber is. Our heroes send him off and then ready themselves for a fight.

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The Lord of Lance Rock
In which they encounter a mad man...

The heroes fought their way past the gruesome circus of zombies. They found themselves in a large chamber in what looked to be the playroom of a necromancer. There were body parts in baskets and corpses laid out on slabs. A zombie and several crawling claws tried to bar their entrance but the heroes were able to slay them quickly.

Near the back of the room, a man who claimed to be the “Lord of Lance Rock” offered to let them go free, as long as they left. D’ari, who had grown tired of his ravings, sent an arrow his way. The skeleton guards immediately jumped to defend their lord, and the necromancer took off deeper into the cave, wailing in fear and pain. When the skeletons lay in crumbles around them, the heroes were quick to follow.

They found the “lord” cowering in the corner and the strange visage of an eye floating above an orb. One look at the eye sent Idallo nearly fainting and weak at the knees as all the visions of elemental evil came flooding back into him. All the while, the Lord of Lance Rock ranted and raved.

D’ari decided to put an end to his raving once and for all and she shot another arrow at him. All at once, the necromancer unleashed magic that they hadn’t realized he possessed. A shadowy hand sucked the life straight out of D’ari, leaving her bleeding and unconscious on the ground. Her friends were quick to come to her rescue. Idallo, fearing the visage of the eye, threw the orb to the ground, nearly shattering it. Tara went down as the necromancer used magic to slip away from the cleric and the monk, and unleashed magic missiles on her. But in the end, the heroes prevailed and the Lord of Lance Rock was put out of his misery.

They took a moment to rest, and to bandage their wounded. Merric took great interest in the orb and discovered that it was a rather innocent driftglobe. It was pure luck that the monk had not entirely shattered it. Even still, the poor driftglobe had been damaged. Its light flickered a bit and it seemed to list to one side as it floated after it’s new owner, Idallo.

With the danger taken care of, the party headed back to Red Larch. Idallo made his way to the bathhouse. D’ari and Merric settled at a table at the inn. Bilkka went to search for food. Tara spent some time getting to know her Lord’s Alliance contact (and browse their subpar selection of clothing). It seemed as if it would be a quiet afternoon spent recuperating. But a sudden tremor of the earth, and the sounds of screams shattered the stillness of the afternoon…

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Arriving in Red Larch
The beginning of an adventure

Each of the five adventurers found themselves heading north for various reasons. Merric, the halfling, had heard tales that an earth genasi named Miraj Vizann (who had stolen from him) had been last seen heading towards the Dessarin Valley. Bilkka, a dwarf, had been gifted with a map to an ancient dwarven stronghold somewhere in the Valley. Idallo, Bilkka’s best friend and an air genasi, had seen visions of elemental evil, and a snake-haired man in his dreams. Tara, a moon elf and a noble, had been tasked with finding an acquaintance of hers named Savra who’d run away from home. She was last seen near the Feathergale Spire in the Valley. Lastly, D’ari, a dark elf, had also heard rumors of a rather annoying band of mercenaries that had settled along the river.

Each of them met along the road to Red Larch. They decided there was safety in numbers, and so they formed a group. Red Larch was a bustling little city and they were quick to find an Inn. Idallo slipped away to the bath house to meet with his Emerald Enclave faction contact, Haeleeya. D’ari and Merric both decided to sample the bread of Lorren the baker (and also gather some information, as he was also the Zhentarim contact). Bilkka had more important matters to attend to: food. She found a butcher quickly enough and brought an armful of meat back to the poor innkeeper. Kaylessa, the inkeep, tried to explain she was no good at cooking, but she did her best. Once all the adventurers had returned, they feasted on a platter of half-burnt meat, as a flustered Kaylessa looked on.

Through their faction contacts and various rumors, they found there was work to be had around town. Kaylessa offered to pay them to go investigate strange happenings at Lance Rock. She had decided there was definitely evil afoot and she knew for a fact that all of it was to blame on whatever was happening in that cave.

Rested, fed, and with the promise of gold, the party set out to investigate. They found the rock easy enough, and ignored the trespassing signs and the warning of ‘plague.’ Once inside they fought their way past zombies, and finally came upon a gruesome and strange sight: Three zombies – one dressed as a bear and running into walls thanks to the bear head obscuring his view, one in a frilly dress and makeup and a lacy hat, and one dressed as a jester with little bells jingling from his cap. It was then that they realized that they were dealing with someone who wasn’t quite right in the head…

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