the Way of the Wicked

The Ritual (part 4)

 

Week 7

The PCs encounter some wanted posters of themselves! There are some fairly good descriptions although thanks to the circlet none of the PCs other than Sam look anything like that any more. There is some discussion as to whether Elise should have taken these down as part of her job.

  • she'll inevitably betray us but right now she's doing a pretty good job

  • but will she betray us before we betray her

  • if we let her betray us then kill her we get to feel righteous

  • but we're evil, we don't need to feel righteous!

  • By righteous I meant Thorn won't give us a hard time about it

They attend the Baron's 105th birthday party. All the movers and shakers in town are there including sir Valin Darian, acting commander of the Hamarhold. The party is a great success, and Sam's diplomatic skills lead to some connections for her Evil Organisation

Week 8

The evil organisation kidnaps eleven peasants. (We can feed them to things. The monsters have to eat after all. “You've got to eat a peasant or two, or two, you've got to eat a peasant or twooo”)

The pirates attack! There is a battle of wits as the villains try to lure them in. “Oh my god, what are you doing to that hat?!? NO!!, don't do it!” and the pirates try to lure them out “come out come out wherever you are!”

The golem hurls a grenade in the general direction of the pirates, stinging Tregellan into attacking – “Have at you you clockwork acid hurling rapscallian! Oho!”

  • Sadly the alchemical golem turns out to be a very tough opponent, and Tregellan is outmatched. He falls, badly wounded.

  • De Streza, feeling the door in the corridor for traps, realises there is something very odd about it but does not quite realise it is illusory. His fumbling alerts Adelea, who swings and misses, and Grumblejack, who brutally hits.

  • Jiim fails to hurt the golem with his flaming sphere, and accidentally kills the invisible De Streza while attempting to run it up the corridor and into the group of villains.

  • The bosun attempts to get into casting range of the villains under cover of the mist but runs into Adelea groping along the wall, followed up by Grumblejack, and is killed.

  • Louise surrenders, saying she'll happily lend her sword arm to the villains if they'll save Tregellan. Jiim, being hopelessly outnumbered, says he'll also happily work for them in exchange for some treasure. A deal isstruck, and Tregellan is stabilised and healed.

“Anton Tregellan at your service! Quite literally, apparently.”

So in return for not killing us, and some treasure, we fight your enemies for 6 months? It's a deal. Shame for the bosun really, but life with Tregellan is a life of risk and excitement! Where are my quarters? Wait, was that hat thing a ruse? Damn, but you're cunning!”

Week 9


A group of Iraen barbarians and rangers intent on sacking the Horn arrive in Farholde. Trik once more does his wizened old holy man routine and lures the fools into a late night meeting. The White Ravens slaughter the Iraen.
In the morning at frst light, the town watch discovers a grisly charnel scene of slaughtered corpses, hanging entrails and a message written in blood “Stay away from the Horn”. For at least now, the message is effective. Several local group of adventurers do indeed depart Farholde deciding that there are easier pickings up north. “Sad” news reaches Farholde — the Fire-Axe has destroyed another army at the battle of Upandershire Ford. Many of the sons of Farholde sent to war were at that battle and will not be coming home. Counted among the dead is Lord Argus Welshire, Duke of Farholde. It is said the Fire-Axe himself hewed Lord Argus’ head off in one mighty stroke
 

Week 10

The evil organisation attempts a caper – and screws up enormously, hurting their secrecy and connections stats. Dear me.

The villains head into town and find out that the Seventh Knot did a good job. “Can we kill her now?” “No, still no. Let her actually betray us”

Heading back to the Spire the villains are approached by Zikomo. 3 boggards have gone missing; they'd been hunting over by the lake of Skye. Can the Messengers of Dagon please look into it?

The Messengers of Dagon look into it. Adelea's scary horse turns out to be quite good at tracking, and able to converse with Sam in infernal. The party realise the boggards have been ambushed by a particularly large tiger, and track it towards its lair. There is one slightly disturbing moment, as they realise that while they'd been camping overnight near the lake the tiger had managed to get within ambush range of Grumblejack but hadn't attacked.

The lair, discovered, turns out to contain the corpses of three boggards (damn it! we're down three boggards) as well as various other humanoid and animal bodies of various ages, and what very much appears to be a trophy pile of humanoid skulls by one wall.

The party decides to settle down and attempt to ambush the tiger. They intend t take it alive if possible as it will make an excellent guard for the Spire…

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The Ritual (part 3)
strangely familiar pirates?

Considerable housekeeping type stuff is taken care of – hiring a smith, setting up a tattoo parlour/magic item shop, getting the materials for the ritual to create a nightmare, buying trap parts to fix up the pit trap. While in town our villains hear exciting news – an Illend and a group of elves came out of the woods and attacked the Sisters, killing some before being defeated.

 

The boggards head out into the woods and successfully capture a giant mantis and two venomous snakes for use in guarding the Spire

Week 3

Things are quiet.

A boggard is made an example of for not guarding the “back door” cavern like they were told to. The rest snap to their duty with considerably more alacrity. Adelea insists the corpse be fed to the crocodiles – on being gently reminded they don't have any crocodiles she demands the corpse be kept in the “fridge” until they get some.

Artephius the Alchemical Golem is activated:  The heart cog begins to whirr and click and soon the pump distributes the four alchemical fluids throughout the automaton like blood. Electrical fluid bathes the brain floating in its case and sparks begin to dance around it. Artephius flickers with life. The construct stands up and says: “Master, command thy servant.”

Adelea carries out the ritual to create a Nightmare! She gains the service of a scary evil horse creature thing calling itself Carnitheria Rex.

Week 4 is uneventful. Elise sends a message to say “New adventurers in town calling themselves ‘Brendam’s Breakers’. They have been broken. No further difficulties. — Z”
 

At the start of Week 5 a couple of boggards go missing. Zikomo's visions are not helpful: he senses they are being hunted but cannot say by what.

Sam gathers together the remaining boggards in the Froglok village and has the villains spend the night there to keep an eye on them (Fitch stays in the temple to keep the ritual going).

The following morning another of the mooks comes running into the caverns to tell them two of the guards are dead and the smith has been murdered! Nobody saw anything.

“We're being hunted! We've lost two orphans and a smith! They're invisible! Who can detect invisibilility? Wait, the Eye can give us True Seeing…

Sam casts Alarm on the entrances and the party station themselves at a teleporter throne with Hexor and Vexor in tow (they have constant see invisibility and detect good). The alarm goes off late into the night and they hasten towards the entrance. “I say, master, I can't help noticing there's a good aura over there. Perhaps we should hasten over there and tear whatever's making it into teeny tiny pieces?”

The moon dogs (for they are indeed being hunted by two of these odd planar denizens) have greater invisibility active, so the party cannot see them – but Hexor and Vexor can. The fight might be tricky for our villains until the invisibility wears off – except in the event it's very much not.

Hexor acts early and successfully catches the moon dog Bethaniel Dandra with Hold Monster. Vexor does the same with Darus Dandra. Hexor coup de graces Bethaniel, while Vexor hurts Darus, who then fails to break out of the hold. Sam intimidates Darus, leaving her shaken. “You have entered a realm of evil more terrifying than you could imagine and now you are doomed”. Vexor then snaps her neck before she can escape the Hold. The party are somewhat grumpy the following day from lack of sleep, but satisfied that their mook-lossage problem has been stemmed.

A note from Elise: “no immediate concerns, but there are some amusing pirates. Come and see? – Z”

Sam makes her way into the tavern where the pirates are holding court and listens in to their conversation.

A pirate captain with a very spiffy hat and a fancy rapier with its hilt in the shape of a purple sea snake is deep in an energetic conversation with one of his crew, who has a jaunty red woolen hat. A female ifrit barbarian with a pretty hat with a feather and a glum-looking magic user look on. Hunched over his beer is a sinister looking half orc whose hat, once fancy, has seen better days.

Now we finally have both halves of the map, the spire has lit up like a giant beacon! It's a sign, a sign we're meant to find it!

Aye it's a sign all right, a sign that somebody scary is doing a big scary magical thing with scary magic. It's full of octopus men I tell you, evil magic octopus men who are going to want to boil us for stew. Have you ever heard of a friendly big green glowing spire? And what was the point of even getting the map when the thing's all glowing like that? Anyone could find it – for instance that group of adventurers who set out the other week and didn't come back! This is a bad idea, Admiral.

Nonsense, Bosun! Gentlemen (and lady), the Tregellanspire awaits us and we shall triumph with panache and daring! With Tregellan at the helm we cannot fail. Now we just have to work out what this clue means:

Of all the spires it's best – I've ranked 'em

The treasure's in the Inner Sanctum

Give frosty greeting to the demon, ho!

To climb above, first search below

Why is there always a cryptic clue? I hate these maps. What the hell does it MEAN? At least we're on land for a change.

Chin up Jiim! Treasure's waiting! As soon as we meet our contact for this smuggling thi (Ahem! Admiral!) err as soon as the perfectly innocuous person we are awaiting for perfectly legal reasons shows up, we'll be off to claim it!

Elise is later able to tell Sam that the pirates are engaged in an elaborate quest for an unclear goal, and that this step involves handing over a magic key so they can get a riddle that will enable them to find a secret island with an idol on it? Something like that, she confesses that Trik hadn't been able to keep the whole bewildering story straight. Anyway, they have a key which they've smuggled into Talingarde, and they're likely to be waiting 2 or 3 weeks for their contact before they can set off for the Horn, which "Admiral" Tregellan intends to ravish within an inch of its life before making off with the treasure. The flamboyant pirate is too high profile to easily murder, but Elise promises warning before they set off.

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The Ritual (part 2)
The Assaultening

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring - except the five assholes coming in the rear in standard 2 by 2 cover formation.

Elise's note, containing the fruit of Trik's spying, turns out to be deadly accurate. The group of adventurers arrives on the morning of the third day after the messenger. Sharp-eyed Bianca gets a brief glimpse of Fitch as he observes their approach, but can only tell her comrades she thinks she saw some movement. Sadly for them, this evidence they might be awaited does not persuade them to turn around.

Grumblejack has made a decent fist of blocking the caverns with rocks, and the group are funneled right where our villains want them: the "ambush room", with its freshly dug camouflaged acid-filled pit trap. Our villains wait behind an illusory wall as the adventurers approach. There was some talk of using the froglok warriors to pad out the ambush party, particularly as Creel points out they can just be raised  as undead if they die, but Adelea is confident these relative novices can easily be dealt with.

Hallack's crew

Hallack Amon, in the lead, is a sword-and-board fighter. He is followed by the brawny form of James O'Toole, who appears unarmed, with the dwarf smith Yorgun beside him. Bringing up the rear is Sister Marta Dian in a nun's habit, and the bard Bianca deVallya who is quietly singing and accompanying herself on a lute.

Yorgun, the dwarf rogue, fails to spot the pit trap. He is on Hallack's shoulder and so he is caught up in the trap as his leader triggers it. However he and O'Toole leap clear and only Hallack tumbles into the pit, taking damage from the fall and the acid.

As Hallack flails in the acid and Yorgun hastily unships his rope, James O'Toole drops into a fighting stance and looks around wildly but fails to spot Fitch lurking in the shadows. Bianca changes her song to one that should inspire Hallack to climb out of the pit. With the heroes distracted and in disarray, our villains strike!

Fitch hurls a dagger at Otoole but it skitters off a rock in a spray of sparks. Our villains charge and the intruders are caught flat footed. Sam hastes the party. Adelea and Grumblejack have closed on Yorgun and O'Toole respectively.

Adela moves in a blur with brutal precision and terrifying power. Her first attack almost kills Yorgun the Smith, her second is messy overkill, and her third attack unecessarily decapitates the extremely dead dwarf before his body has a chance to fall.

Grumblejack does massive damage to the monk, O'Toole.

Sister Marta casts hold person on Adela however her willpower proves surprisingly strong and she shrugs it off.

Zack: : In the name of Asmodeus, SILENCE, you annoying bardic person. Your song offends the master! The bard, skilled at resisting sonic attack, shakes this off.

O'Toole sprints off, abandoning his friends regretfully yet briskly. Fitch takes off in pursuit, acrobatically leaping over Sister Marta's swinging sword.

Hallack Amon tries and fails to get out of the pit, yelling “save yourselves! I'm sorry I brought you here” as the acid does more damage. Bianca flees with a last regretful look.

Sam casts oppressive boredom on Sister Marta who stands, sword dangling slackly at her side, as Adelea walks past. Grumblejack surges down the corridor past them, swooping into the air and landing in front of the fleeing Bianca with a deep chuckle.

Creel places the manacles of cooperation on Sister Marta, effectively ending her part in the one sided fight.

With Fitch in hot pursuit O'Toole turns at bay and unleashes a stunning fist attack. Fitch is hurt but not stunned.

Hallack flails about in the acid, slowly dissolving

Bianca manages to cast Hold Person on Grumblejack, and he freezes like a huge, ugly statue as on the other side of the cavern entrance O'Toole crumples to the ground bleeding out from wounds from Fitch's daggers

Sam wanders over to the pit and waves cheerfully down at Hallack. “Hello dear”

Creel drags the manacled sister over to the pit to join in the taunting. “You want some rope? You can't have some rope. Dance for your rope! I want to see big splashes”

Hallack Amon sighs and says “You've won. Throw me a rope at least”. This time he manages to get five feet up the pit wall and out of the acid.

Adelea may be wearing heavy armour but she is hasted. She blurs up behind Bianca, whose desperate second cast of hold person once again bounces off Adelea's adamantine will. (What is going on?). Adelea proceeds to brutally murder her to death.

Grumblejack eventually snaps out of the hold and drags the bodies back into the caves.

Sam and Creel are cheerfully applauding Hallack Amon's unsuccessfull attempts to climb out, but Fitch suggests getting him out of the acid before any nice stuff dissolves.

Adelea: “what prompted you to attack us? We just wanted to be left alone”

Hallack: Attack YOU? We had no idea you were here. We planned to beat up some frog monsters and head back to town with their treasure. Nobody said anything about whatever the hell you are!”

Pulled out of the pit and gasping like a landed fish on the floor Hallack has no time to collect himself before he is brutally killed by Adelea.

The villains thoroughly loot their bodies before dragging Sister Marta off to find a nice secure cell to await her starring role in the ritual.

Fitch has been somewhat punched in the face, but other than that the party has taken no real damage in the fight while easily despatching their foes. These are just the amateurs though – surely they can expect a more competent try soon? 

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The Ritual (part 1)
The ritual begins

Ezra Thrice-Damned

Having made their way to the third floor via the teleporty thrones our villains do some exploring and find the main entranceway. (This is only accessible by flying or a difficult climb).  In an interesting departure they find the pit trap in the entrance by NOT stumbling into it.

Once inside, the entranceway is a large hallway with five doors. The baroque decoration continues and everywhere is found bas relief carving showing the doings of daemons. There is a great deal of abyssal writing here as well. Sam contemplates the hallway and realises it tells
the tale of the ascension of the daemon prince Vetra-Kali Eats-the-Eyes.
It is revealed that Vetra-Kali is a leukodaemon who through his savagery and remorseless cruelty rose from the ranks to be appointed an Archdeacon of Pestilence in service to the Pale Horseman. This hallway exalts and praises the many ruthless deeds done by Vetra-Kali to gain this prominence.

They then find the most baroque room of all – the Fane of the Three Eyed Prince.

As ornate and baroque as the entryway hall is it pales before this expansive and vaulted chamber. This is the Horn’s third temple — reserved only for the High
Priest and his elite retinue. Most of the Sons of the Pale Horseman never entered this temple and never experienced the strange rites conducted within. The fane is adorned with a riot of lurid color. Brilliant bas reliefs depict daemons of every sort engaged in countless acts of
wanton evil, callous destruction and inhuman savagery. Rows of pews allow a congregation of the chosen to gather. Te podium is doubtless where foul sermons of Abaddon’s wisdom and bile were delivered to those gatherings. At the front of the chamber are four shrines.
 A white shrine decorated with bas relief depictions
of open pits of the dead and lepers crying in anguish.
 A shrine of red stone decorated with cruel iron
weaponry and scenes of slaughter.
A shrine of black stone decorated with images of
mortals wasting away from hunger and starvation.
A shrine of pale green stone adorned with a skull
with two coins over its eyes and an inscription of jagged
abyssal writing which reads “Behold a pale horse. Its
rider is Death and all shall follow him.”
Between them is large bas-relief image of Vetra-Kali sitting crosslegged holding his greatest work, his masterpiece, a vial of some sort. Below the vial is inscribed a name ‘Te
Tears of Achlys.’ Vetra-Kali also holds three blades and a strange jagged key with an Abyssal inscription “Hail Vetra-Kali”. Te three eyed daemon prince pays homage to the four shrines, but there is no doubt that this fane is built primarily to honor him. 
On all the other walls are litanies of the deeds of this monster. It was Vetra-Kali who crossed the great void and came to the prime material plane to establish the Sons of the Pale Horseman. It was he who oversaw the construction of the Horn of Abaddon and it is because of this that the Horn superfcially resembles this horror from another world.

Sam realises there's a magical aura coming from the east wall. Careful searching finds a secret door. Eventually they work out how to open it by pressing the three eyes of the statue. Doing this while saying "hail Vetra Kali" makes the door open into a pocket dimension which contains the giant wraith Ezra Thrice-Damned, the tormented soul of the last High Priest.  He swirls menacingly towards Sam with his wraithy hands outstretched! Oh no, it is the death in the shadow that that prophecy foretold! Remember the prophecy? The one they decided not to take any precautions about whatsoever? Well now they're going to have to fight an advanced giant wraith and three wraith mooks (who used to be the fourth knot). 

However just as Ezra is about to do that "touch you with his wraithy hands and then you die and turn into a wraith" thing that wraiths are always doing, Sam quickly says "we'reheretorestoreVetraKali!" and he stops in his swirly, shadowy, tracks. A quick chat with the ever persuasive Sam later and the dread wraith is pretty much on their side.

Sam asks if he could possibly tell them where the third Orb of Vetra Kali might be.

Yessss. It's over there.” Hisses the wraith, who points at the clawlike podium in the middle of the room where the stone is prominently displayed. They take it. Also the room contains scads of treasure. Scads!

Ornate silver belt studded with obsidian (belt of giant’s
strength +2)
A plain golden ring (ring of mind shielding)
An ornate teak wood box holding a glass lens (a lens
of detection). 
A walking stick of hard black wood adorned with
silver fxtures and green semi-precious stones (rod of elemental metamagic [acid], lesser)
Two iron plates both carved in abyssal that read “Aticus” and “Andian” (Hexor and Vexor’s control amulets)
A ton (yes, 2000 lbs) of solid silver furnishings -
plates, silverware, goblets, candelabra, cirlets, jewelry and
the like worth 10,000 gp total
600 lbs of similar golden items – worth 30,000 gp
Six chests full of mixed coinage from dozens of nations worth 5,500 gp total (approximately 550 lbs of coin)
A carefully packed crate holding a dozen potions of
cure moderate wounds (labelled as such in abyssal)
 

Fitch will be adventuring with this held to his eye from now on, because the second thing he said was "could it be like a monocle".

The Horn is fully explored and the party have all the ingredients necessary to start the ritual.

Sam: "I think we should go back to town and do some shopping before we kick things off". The shopping list from last week is picked up, as well as a wagon which will be handy for transporting things back and forth between town and Horn. They also discuss recruitment with the Baron:

“what news?”

-The horn is ours. We are preparing to break the seal but we need some staff. Can you help with recruitment?

“expound”

-we'll need a master smith, possibly a tavern keeper, and some hired swords to fortify the place

“so what's the ritual?”

- it's basically waiting for 8 months with the odd bit of grisly dark shit, sacrifices and that. A Son of the Pale Horseman “well that's going to be tricky they've been wiped out” – no we have one, so that's OK.

-Also a devout follower of Mitra (“I can have my orphans bundle one up for you”) and a descendant of Markadian 1 (“I can look into this”)

-also if we can find a qualified trainer and someone of officer grade

The Baron advises it may take a while to assemble the necessary recruits, however “someone evil and mercenary capable of commanding the loyalty of your troops is quite likely to to stab you in the back and try to take over, you may be best advised commanding them yourselves”

However he is able to provide 5 of his “orphans” for now. These poorly equipped thugs accompany the party back to the Horn to form the nucleus of their evil organisation.

Before leaving Sam catches up with Elise Zakariah, who tells her that she and her knot have quietly disposed of a couple of adventurers so far without needing the serial killer ruse yet. However she suspects Hallack Amon might be planning to put a party together to loot the caverns for treasure and adventure. He's a bit too high profile round here to easily bump off plus he's not actually acted yet. She'll monitor the situation. (Sam also feeds Elise a complete lie about the second level of the Horn being a weak point that would be very difficult to defend, on the grounds that when she inevitably betrays them it would be nice to know where she'll aim her forces)

Hallack Amon was born in Farholde and has dreamed of escaping this backwater since he could stand. He worked for more than a decade as a soldier of the watch tower, rising to the rank of sergeant. Finally he scraped together enough coin to leave this town forever and to at last see the great cities of the south. And then fate intervened. Amon’s father died and Hallack inherited the family debt. Hallack could have simply fled. But Hallack was too honorable. The entirety of his savings paid the debt but only barely
 

Returning to the spire they tie up the statue and put one end of the manacles of cooperation onto it before returning the priest to life and quickly manacling him. He accompanies them to the sanctum while querulously asking them what's going on.

“it's been 80 years, the Mitrans won, we didn't know if you'd cooperate” – I'll cooperate, take the manacles off

“well there's no easy way to break this. We kind of need a sacrifice and… that's you”

The priest, Halthus the Flayer, is unhappy about this but has little choice as he is unable to escape due to the manacles. Screaming increasingly hoarsely, but basically cooperative, he is led away.

With all three eyes now returned to the statue of Vetra Kali they have the following effects

The Eye of Vigilance (the First Eye of Vetra-Kali)
Aura strong divination (evil); CL 15th
Slot none; Weight –
DESCRIPTION
This jewel at frst appears to be nothing more than an exquisite
emerald worth at least 20,000 gp. Only if the jewel is steeped
in the blood of a sentient creature does it reveal its true nature. The Eye of Vigilance was the magical focus used to create
the Horn of Abaddon in the frst place and so it is connected
to every square inch of the structure. The bearer of this jewel
may scry the Horn of Abaddon just as if he possessed a crystal
ball. The Eye is also a critical component of the ritual to destroy the Silver Seal and return Vetra-Kali to the prime material plane.
If all three of the Eyes of Vetra-Kali are united in the statue of Vetra-Kali in the Sanctum, then the Eye of Vigilance functions as
a crystal ball with true seeing again limited to the confines of
the Horn itself.
 

The Eye of Hatred (the Second Eye of Vetra-Kali)
Aura strong divination (evil); CL 15th
Slot none; Weight –
DESCRIPTION
This jewel at frst appears to be nothing more than an exquisite
emerald worth at least 20,000 gp. Only if the jewel is steeped
in the blood of a sentient creature does it reveal its true nature. The Eye of Hatred was the magical focus used to dedicate
the Horn of Abaddon to the Four Horsemen. It is thus sensitive
to any outside interference. The Eye of Hatred pulses whenever any divine magic of Mitran origin is used within the Horn
of Abaddon. The Eye is also a critical component of the ritual
to destroy the Silver Seal and return Vetra-Kali to the prime
material plane.
If all three of the Eyes of Vetra-Kali are united in the statue of Vetra-Kali in the Sanctum, then the Eye of Hatred not only pulses
when such magic is used but immediately directs the Eye of
Vigilance to show that magic being used .
 

 

The Withering Eye (the Third Eye of Vetra-Kali)
Aura strong evocation (evil); CL 15th
Slot none; Weight –
DESCRIPTION
This jewel at frst appears to be nothing more than an exquisite
emerald worth at least 20,000 gp. Only if the jewel is steeped
in the blood of a sentient creature does it reveal its true nature. The Withering Eye was the magical focus used to frst
summon Vetra-Kali from the lower planes to the prime material. It is thus attuned to Vetra-Kali and a powerful channel
for daemonic energy. The Withering Eye when placed in the
statue of Vetra-Kali descrecates (as the spell except it affects
both undead and daemons) the entire Horn of Abaddon. The
DC to resist negative channeled energy within this area gains
a +6 profane bonus. Every undead or daemonic creature gains
a +2 profane bonus on all attack rolls, damage rolls, and saving throws. An undead or daemonic creature created within
or summoned into such an area gains +2 hit points per HD.
Furthermore, anyone who casts animate dead within this area
may create as many as double the normal amount of undead.
The Eye is also a critical component of the ritual to destroy the
Silver Seal and return Vetra-Kali to the prime material plane.
If all three of the Eyes of Vetra-Kali are united in the statue of
Vetra-Kali in the Sanctum, then the Withering Eye not only
desecrates the Horn but also grants all daemons within fast
healing 1.
 

 

They start the ritual! 

As soon as the death priest dies on the altar and his heart is placed in the frst bowl, the Horn begins to burn. An alien voice of pure malice speaks in abyssal: “Kazara Vo” — “I hear.” Like a great unholy beacon, ghostly green flame flares upward into the sky. All the greenery and
overgrowth blending the stone spire into the Caer Bryrburns away in a single flash of dire radiance. The Horn is revealed in all its daemonic glory. Abyssal runes carved
in the stonework glow furiously. Wraith spawn dance outside the Horn cackling in glee. Te earth shakes and even in Farholde, they feel the shocks. Any hope of keeping the Horn a secret disappears in one blaze of balefire. Afer a while, the pyrotechnics are over. Te Horn still
smolders with a residual green fre but it is no longer visible from a distance. Not that this matters. Every soul in Farholde saw the eruption. Everyone can point the way
to the Horn. And by the morning every tongue wags:
“Evil stirs in the Caer Bryr.”

Tere is good news. The residual green fire is a natural magic barrier. None can teleport through or send a magical message (except using the Thrones).
Teleportation and summoning works fine within the Horn, you just cannot enter while the ritual is ongoing. And so the countdown begins. Te PCs must complete 666 rituals to break the Seal and then on midnight, more than seven months from today, Vetra-Kali will return. Any plan involving keeping their operations here a secret has failed. Everyone knows something is afoot
in the Horn. How long before the first explorers arrive?
 

One week. A messenger from Elise Zadaria arrives after 4 days to advise a group of local adventurers is coming in three days' time and is intending to explore the caverns. 

Hallack Amon – male human, retired watch sergeant,
warrior with military experience, the leader
Sister Marta Dian – female human, priestess of Mitra,
successfully destroyed a dozen zombies
Yorgun the Smith – male dwarf blacksmith, experience
unknown, big hammer
James O’Toole – male human, large brawler, famed for
taking on all comers at local faire
Bianca DeVallya – female half-elven, a local bard and
singer, knows a little magic, very fond of Hallack
 

In the meantime Adelea trains, Fitch manufacturers alchemical reagents for the mechanical man project (and puts the finishing touches to a deep acid-filled pit trap dug out by their frogmen allies), and Sam examines the murals in the mural hall, discovering some useful, once-per-year rituals.

<u>Call Forth the Hounds</u>: If three guard dogs (25 gp
each) are poisoned with a very specific preparation (costing 2400 gp in total) and then ritually slaughtered, they
will rise as hell hounds in life-long service to whoever cut
the guard dog’s throat.


<u>Call Forth the Steed</u>: If a fine heavy warhorse (worth
300 gp) is slain and then set aflame with a very specific
and exotic mixture of incense, powered gemstones and
prayer strips (costing 3000 gp) then from the flame will
emerge a nightmare who will serve whoever lit the pyre.
The creature who emerges calls itself Carnitheria Rex and
will serve faithfully for the life of its master.


<u>Cauldron of the Earth</u>: Tis ritual must be performed
over a pit of boiling mud (C8 above). A specially prepared concotion of rare earths and powered obsidian
(worth 1200 gp) must be poured into the boiling mud
while reciting a prayer to the Lord of Evil Earth Elementals. This calls forth four mudmen.

Sam also has Grumblejack pile large stones to block a passage, and has some froglocks block a narrow gullet with medium size ones, in an effort to funnel the expected adventurers into the "ambush room".

A more long-term approach to security will be needed (after all, a tunnel that can be blocked ban be unblocked, while collapsing them risks partly collapsing the spire and potentially ruining the ritual). A quick look around suggests some more places that might be useful spots for traps, areas that could be used for beast lairs, and sections the Frogloks err I mean Boggards should be persuaded to set up ambushes in. 

With 5 basic fighter mooks and a flying ogre Sam has the beginnings of an evil organisation. So we're going to need some rules for how those work!

Masters of the Wicked: Building Your Own Evil Organization
Would it truly be a villainous campaign without minions? I think not. But keeping track of an organization can be a tedious affair. So, with this optional system (ITS NOT OPTIONAL) we abstract the paper work and help you skip the bookkeeping and instead get back to the glorious business of evil.


How do I build an Evil Organization?
Mechanically, the answer is take the Leadership feat.
When you take the Leadership feat you receive a cohort
as normal but instead of receiving followers, you become
the master of an evil organization. If multiple PCs buy
the Leadership feat they must choose whether they are
each starting their own organization or if they are pooling to form a council of villainy.
There are advantages to both. Councils can hit higher
target numbers but control can be an issue. Individual
groups are weaker but there is no question of control.


The Six Ability Scores
Much like a PC, an evil organization has six ability
scores that define them. Every score ranges from -5 to
+10. These scores modify both action and skill rolls.
Where a PC has Strength, Organizations are Ruthless. Ruthless is the ability to get violent things done. If Ruthless ever hits -5, your organization cannot take any
violent actions.
Where a PC has Dexterity, Organizations have Secrecy. Secrecy is the ability to conceal your organization and its operations. If Secrecy ever reaches -5, your organization becomes a household name in Talingarde.
Where a PC has Constitution, Organizations have Survivability. Survivability is your organization’s ability to survive adversity. If Survivability ever hits -5, your
organization has ceased to exist.
Where a PC has Intelligence, Organizations have Connections. Connections is your ability to get nonviolent tasks done. If Connections ever hits -5, your organization can take no skilled actions.
Where a PC has Wisdom, Organizations have Espionage. Espionage is the ability to acquire information others don’t want you to have. If Espionage ever hits -5, your organization can take no espionage actions.
Where a PC has Charisma, Organizations have Loyalty. Loyalty is your minions devotion to their masters. If Loyalty ever hits -5, your organization falls apart.


An organization’s scores start at zero. Each master
with a positive charisma modifer has that many points
to spend increasing the scores. No score can initially be
raised above +4. After creation, changes to charisma no
longer effects scores. Scores change from game effects
and when a master gains a level — a master then adds +1
to a score of their choice. No score may ever exceed +10.
Actions
Actions represent an evil organizations ability to get
things done. Every week you command your evil organization to perform actions. Te maximum number is determined by adding the leader’s level + current Charisma
modifer and then consulting this chart.
Level + Charisma Mod. Actions per Week
9 or less 0
10 1
11 1
12 1
13 2
14 2
15 3
16 3
17 4
18 4
19 5
20 5
21 6
22 7
23 8
24 9
25 or more 10
If the evil organization is ruled by a council, every
leader contributes his actions to a pool. Tat is the total
number of actions an organization may take per week.


The Action Check
When an action is performed, this usually involves an
Action Check. Tis roll is the relevant score plus a d20.
A Secrecy Check, for example, is d20 + Secrecy.
Every action check will have a target number assigned
by the Game Master. To succeed an Action Check must
equal or beat that number. A natural 1 is always a failure.
A natural 20 ofen improves the checked score.
Target numbers are assigned by the Game Master based
on diffculty given the current circumstances:
Target Number Descriptor
8 Easy
12 Average
16 Diffcult
20 Very Diffcult
25 Almost Impossible


“You Have Failed Me for the Last Time”
Any time you are unhappy with any Action Check, you
can execute the minion who failed you and demand that
the other try again if they don’ t want to meet the same
fate. You may reroll the failure. You can only reroll once
per Action Check and executing the minion so callously
does shake the other minions — you take a -1 to Loyalty.


The Action List
This is a list of actions an evil organization can attempt. It is not comprehensive and with GM permission other actions may be permitted. Level always refers to
the level of the highest level PC leader of the organiation.


Abduct Peasants (violent action): You need peasants
(lvl 1-3 commoners) for your gruesome experiments or
perhaps as monster chow. Roll a Ruthless Check.
Success: You abduct 2d6 Peasants
Failure: You abduct no one.
Natural 1: Failure and -1 to Secrecy.
Natural 20: Success and +1 Ruthless.


Assassination (violent action): Your minions attempt to
kill someone. Roll a Ruthless Check. Important NPCs
are often immune to this action.
Success: The target dies. -1 to Secrecy.
Failure: The target does not die.
Natural 1: The target does not die and minions
are captured. -1 to Secrecy and Survivability.
Natural 20: The target dies and it looks like an
accident. +1 to Ruthless.


Criminal Enterprise (violent action): Your organization
uses crime to acquire funds. Roll a Ruthless Check.
Success: Level*1d6*10 gp is acquired.
Failure: You are revealed. -1 to Secrecy
Natural 1: Failure and -1 to Survivability
Natural 20: Success and +1 to Ruthless


Frame Someone (espionage action): Your minions plant
evidence to convince the law that someone is guilty of
some unsavory crime. Roll an Espionage Check.
Success: It works!
Failure: It doesn’t work.
Natural 1: It doesn’t work and your minions get
caught. -1 to Secrecy and Survivability.
Natural 20: Success and +1 to Espionage.


Gather Information (skilled action): Your organization
tries to gather three random rumors (see page 9) or tries
to answer three questions that might be know about town.
Roll a Connections Check.
Success: The questions are answered.
Failure: You receive 1 random rumor.
Natural 1: You learn nothing.
Natural 20: Success plus +1 to Connections.


Grave-Robbing (skilled action): Your organization
violates graves to acquire corpses and skeletons for you.
Success: 2d6 corpses or skeletons are acquired.
Failure: You are revealed. -1 to Secrecy
Natural 20: 4d6 are acquired instead.
Natural 1: As failure, but a number of minions
are caught and hanged. -1 to Survivability.


Guard Duty: You assign your organization to guard a
location for a week. This creates an encounter equal to a
CR of the level of the highest level master -2.


Hunt Beasts (violent action): You order the capture of
wild beasts to guard your base. Roll A Ruthless Check.
Success: Roll 1d10. The minions catch:
1 – 1d3 Snakes, Venomous (CR 1)
2 – 1d3 Giant Spiders (CR 1)
3 – 1d2 Crocodiles (CR 2)
4 – 1d2 Snake, Constrictor (CR 2)
5 – 1d2 Giant Leeches (CR 2)
6 – 1d2 Giant Toads (CR 2)
7 – 1d2 Tatzlwyrms (CR 2)
8 – Giant Mantis (CR 3)
9 – Giant Scorpion (CR 3)
10 – Chupacabra (CR 3)
Failure: Minions catch nothing.
Natural 1: Monsters catch minions.
Survivability -1.
Natural 20: They catch a hydra (CR 4)


Indoctrinate: Your minions have grown quarrelous and
forget their place. Teach them the meaning of obedience.
Loyalty +1 up to a maximun of zero.
Lay Low: You organization keeps out of the spotlight
for a while. Secrecy +1 up to a maximum of zero.


Legitimate Enterprise (skilled action): Your
organization uses legitimate means to acquire funds.
Roll a Connections Check.
Success: Level*(1d4-1)*10 gp is acquired.
Failure/Natural 1: no consequences
Natural 20: Success and +1 to Connections


Recover: Your organization stays out of danger and
focuses on recruiting new members. Surivability +1 up
to a maximum of zero.


Spread Disinformation (espionage action): You
organization tries to convince the populace of something
isn’t true.
Success: It works!
Failure: It doesn’t work.
Natural 1: Failure and -1 to Espionage.
Natural 20: It works! +1 to Espionage.


Torture Captives (violent action): Extract information
from “guests” of your dungeon. Roll a Ruthless check.
Success: You receive answers to three questions.
Failure: No results.
Nat. 1: The prisoner dies(50%) or escapes(50%).
Natural 20: Success and +1 to Ruthless.


Training (skilled action): Increase Ruthless, Competence
or Espionage by +1 up to a maximum of zero.


Trap Building (skilled action): Roll a Connections
check to fx a trap.
Success: Spend the money to build the trap.
Failure: The traps are not built.
Natural 1: Failure and half the cost is wasted.
Natural 20: Success and Connections +1


Trap Repair (skilled action): Roll a Connections Action
Check to fx three traps.
Success: Spend the money to fx the traps.
Failure: The traps are not fxed.
Natural 1: Failure and half the cost is wasted.
Natural 20: Success and Connections +1


Organization Events
Every month roll a d20 for organizational events. Tis
roll cannot be rerolled by executing a minion.


1: Disquiet in the ranks. Make a Loyalty Check.
Success: Lose an action next week
Failure: Desertions. All Scores -1.
Natural 1: Assassination Attempt. The Game
Master puts together a level appropriate encounter
based around the fact that your minions want you dead.
Natural 20: No penalties


2-6: No Events


7:Capable Leadership. Gain a bonus action next week.


8: Times are Hard. Your minions have suffered more
losses than usual. Can they endure this time of trials?
Make a Survivability Check.
Success: They endure. No effect.
Failure: Survivability -1.
Natural 1: Survivability -2 and Loyalty -2.
Natural 20: …but they’d follow you into hell.
Survivability +1 and Loyalty +1.


9: Revealed! You are being hunted. Can they fnd your
organization before its too late? Roll a Secrecy Check.
Success: You are everywhere and nowhere.
No effect.
Failure: The enemy are closer to the truth than
you’d like. Secrecy -1.
Natural 1: Survivability -2 and Secrecy -2.
Natural 20: The tables turn and the hunters
are the hunted. Secrecy +1 and Ruthless +1.


10: Recruitment Opportunity. Can you ever have
enough minions? Make a Survivability Check.
Success: Your ranks grow. Survivability +1.
Failure/Natural 1: No effect.
Natural 20: Rapid growth. Survivability +2.

11: Rumors and Whispers. -1 to Loyalty.


12: Your Organization is a Shadow. +1 to Secrecy.


13: Inflitration Opportunity. You have a chance to
get an agent amongst your enemies. Are you sneaky
enough take advantage of it? Make an Espionage
Check (DC 20).
Success: You have get an agent it their ranks.
Espionage +1.
Failure: The spy is caught and executed.
Survivability -1.
Natural 1: The spy is caught and talks!
Secrecy -1 and Survivability -1.
Natural 20: You get a trusted spy in their
midsts. Secrecy +1 and Espionage +2.


14: Talkative Minion. -1 to Secrecy.


15: You Give Them So Much. +1 to Loyalty.


16: The Cause Grows. +1 to Survivability.


17: Turf War. Other criminal organizations try to
take your turf. Can you defend what’s yours? Make a
Ruthless Check (DC 20).
Success: You defend it well. Ruthless +1.
Failure: You lose ground. Ruthless -1.
Natural 1: Your organization receives a
thrashing. Ruthless -1 and Survivability -1.
Natural 20: Those who dared challenge you
are now your minions. Ruthless +1 and
Survivability +1.


18: Unneccessary Squabbles. -1 to Survivability.


19: A Caper. This job could make you rich if you can
pull it off. Make a Connections check (DC 20).
Success: Level x1d6 x100 gp. Connections +1.
Failure: Bridges are burned. Connections -1.
Natural 1: A massive blunder. Connections -1
and Secrecy -1.
Natural 20: Masterfully done. Success plus
Secrecy +1.


20: Rare Opportunity. You have a chance to really
expand your power base. Make an Action Check of
your choice (target number 15).
Success: Opportunity Seized! +1 to the score
of your choice.
Failure/Nat. 1: Opportunity missed. No effect.
Natural 20: Success beyond your wildest
dreams! +1 to all scores.


Organizations as Skill Bonuses
Organizations can aid PCs in one more way. Tey can
provide circumstance bonuses to skill checks. For example, making an Intimidate skill check while being flanked
by a half-dozen of the most ruthless, infamous criminal
thugs in the city is defnitely worth a bonus. In that case,
you would your add your Ruthless score to the Intimidate
check. Being assisted this way can count as an action at
the Game Master’s discretion.
Using a Cohorts
A cohort can be assigned to aid your minions. Any cohort so tasked is unavailable for anything else that week.
Tey are busy with underlings. A cohort adds their revelant ability score modifer to an Action Check. For example, Grumblejack the ogre could add his +6 Strength
modifer to any violent actions. If an action aided by a
cohort loses Survivability, the cohort must make a Fortitude save vs a DC equal to the task difculty or die.


Councils of The Wicked
A council is formed when a single organization has
more than one master. Te advantage is that the organization has only one set of scores. Te disadvantage is
that the masters may disagree. Te council votes on any
proposed action. In case of a tie vote, an action is lost to
squabbling and indecision.
 

Note that as you have wrangled an alliance with the boggards, you receive one bonus ‘Boggard’
action a week for every eight boggards alive in the tribe. Since the maximum size is 32, that means a fully ‘stocked’ boggard tribe can provide four actions a week. The boggards are terrible at espionage and skilled actions (assess a -4 penalty if you allow the actions at all), but are perfectly capable of doing violent tasks. Hurting things is a venerable boggard tradition afer all.
 

View
The Horn of Abbadon (part 4)
Grumblejack has an apotheosis. Still exploring...

We rejoin our party as they continue to intrepidly explore level 2 of the Horn of Abbadon. 

Finding a room full of wrecked statues they perceptively realise that there's one more head than the number of limbs and torsos would suggest. A rather paranoid conversation ensues about the possibility of encountering a medusa or similarly petrifiying foe, and considerable thought is given to who should be carrying the stone salve.

Some more rooms, leading off the rather grand atrium with its fountain, are explored without incident, until our villains reach the room at the northwest corner. Opening the door they see a room which clearly contains a hole to the outside, as it is rather full of vegetation. Fitch enters first to check for traps, and promptly falls asleep in the middle of the room. Adelea and Grumblejack instantly nod off too: this room contains two verdurous oozes, and the sleeping gas they exude has been wafted to them by the opening of the door. 

Luckily Sam is just outside the range of the effect, and has the presence of mind to throw a rope into the room while the oozes are still waking up to the presence of food nearby. Creel wakes Grumblejack who wakes Adelea, who pulls mightily on the rope that Sam has animated and ordered to wrap itself round Fitch's leg, and the woozy rogue is dragged free of the clutching vegetation and away from the deadly oozes. Creel's iron will lets him shrug off the sleepy gas and firmly shut the door, and after a brief but heartfelt conversation:

Sam “oozes are horrible, if we want to fight them we're going to have to strip”

Fitch “if there's holes to the outside here these things seem like perfect guardians”

Our villains decide to come back later to secure and indeed trap the door, so they can laugh at people trying to break in this way being killed by the oozes.

Moving on the party encounters a shrine to the loathed sun god, Mitra, which makes evil spells considerably harder to cast on this level. (Later, they come back and thoroughly desecrate it)

They also discover a headless statue, a very detailed statue, who they quickly realise is a) the owner of the spare head, and b) a once-living person who has been turned to stone. They debate using the stone salve:

“he could givve us valuable intel on the Horn”

“we're not ready for guests yet!”

They leave him in place.

There is a very fancy pillared chapel on this level, corresponding to the similar space on level 1. Thorough examination shows that the pillar on this level, corresponding to the hollow pillar below, is also hollow! However there's no secret door…

If that pillar is hollow and there's no door, and this pillar is hollow and there's no door, and we didn't find any doors in the caves… 

 

 

 

maybe there's… a… secret door?

 

There IS a secret door! It is very secret but they do eventually find it. The stairs they find wind up and up and up, through the pillars on level 1 and 2, and all the way into a secret section of level 3 contain the demons Hexor and Vexor, who politely inform the party “Good afternoon intruders, I'm terribly sorry but we'll have to disembowel you now”. However Sam forestalls this by stating they're here to free Vetra Kali.

The two demons approve of this plan, but are less than convinced that Sam and her party have the chops to pull it off. They therefore decide to refrain from disembowelling them for now, and to give Sam information in response to questions about what they can expect in the Sanctum upstairs. Unfortunately, on the axis between "helpful" and "amusing to two greater Ceustodaemons", the answers are skewed towards the latter.

The party climb towards the sanctum in the knowledge that there's a big green statue up there, and that it certainly has a lively atmosphere.

There is a big green statue up there. It has a big silver seal on it, radiating goodness. And there is a lively atmosphere too, in the form of a greater lightning elemental that leaps to the attack! After the first flurry of zappy smashy blows however, Creel is able to increase the party's resistance to energy (although not to being smashed). The elemental is somewhat resistant to being hit with a sword, too – but not nearly resistant enough, as a hasted Adelea chops it into bits.

The party bottle some of the blood, and dunk the eye in some more of the blood to activate it. The portable foe-butchering-station cart thing they had been talking about earlier does actually seem like a decent idea at this point.

Grumblejack has been complaining of dizziness and unquenchable thirst since entering the Sanctum. The villains eventually hit on the idea of putting some water in the reservoir of the statue, where it instantly turns to unholy water. This quenches GJ's thirst, and also reveals his half-fiend heritage. Grumblejack can fly now! Who saw that coming? (Well, me. I've got the book).

View
The Horn of Abbadon (part 3)
Is it still dungeon crawling if you're going upwards?

Adelea suggests Fitch should be the one who talks to Zikomo (as he will inevitably cause an incident and she will get to straight up murder some frog fools). However wiser heads prevail and Sam's policy of FITCH DOES NOT TALK TO ANYBODY is maintained.

The mad boggard oracle's eyes snap open, and in a strained, high pitched voice ("do the voice! do the voice") he screeches "A shadow of regret and despair awaits! a shadow of death! death in the shadow". Then his eyes snap shut again.

Samra'el shakes him gently and he starts awake "Drylander? how can I help you?" There follows a conversation where both sides are attempting to mislead and then eventually betray the other. Sam's mislead-and-betrayal-fu is much stronger though, and by the end of their little chat:

Zikomo is convinved they are on the same side (hmmm), that our villains are working to dedicate this spire to Dagon (hah!) and that Sam doesn't intend to use the boggards as cannon fodder (hmmm again, although in fairness Adelea probably isn't going to let them fight any cool stuff on their own as she'll want a go). He confirms that as the sole leader of the tribe now  that "that idiot failure is dead and not making stupid decisions any more" he will use his influence to get the boggards working to support the party's aims.

Sam on the other hand is fully aware that Zikomo can only be trusted so far, and that his intentions are for the spire to become a centre for Dagon worship with him firmly in charge. It is clear he will work with them for now, but if the place looks like it will end up as a Vetra Kali shrine again he's likely to betray them in the end. 

Zikomo can muster 14 bane-wog tribesfrog warriors at this time but states that with Kumanda out of the way he will send runners through the swamps to enlist more. (This is likely to draw 0-2 boggards per week, and the caves would be able to support up to 32 fighters).  The party may need to make an example of one or two to make the rest actually do their assigned tasks, however. The boggards are naturally lazy rather than militaristic, and Zikomo spends a lot of the time in drug fueled trances so can't ride herd on them.

It is time to start exploring the Horn proper. A relatively straightforward set of stairs leads to the first level. Adelea charges down the first corridor past the arrow slits with the rest of the party close behind, except for Creel who is looking on sardonically while holding himself in reserve. Nobody shoots them, and Adelea successfully discovers there are no traps by blundering through the areas they might have been in. It's going well!

This level appears to have been abandoned since the cult was brutally suppressed by Markadian 1 eighty years ago. The party explores thoroughly finding room after abandoned room full of smashed and mouldering furnishings and litle else. There are some highlights though:

In a ransacked alchemy lab they find Artephius the alchemical golem, and the instruction manual. He has been thoroughly decommissioned by the knights of Mitra, but is potentially repairable given Fitch's skill at alchemy. They work out that the shattered eye can be repaired with a make whole spell, and find a new reservoir in the ruins of the lab.

1. The Eye – Artephius even if activated would be
blind. Its single glass lens has been shattered.

2. The Brain – Artephius needs a new human,
dwarven, elven, half-orc or half-elven brain. No
other race will do – they are not the right size and
attunement. It need not be from a living person. Someone who died in the last twenty four
hours from natural causes will do. Of course,
murder is always an option. Finding a brain
will likely not be a problem for our band of villains. The difficulty is installing it. A successful
Craf (Alchemy) skill check (DC 20) is required
to install the brain. You get two chances to a
make this roll. If both of them fail, the brain has
died and a new one must be sought.


3. The Heart Cog – Artephius’ mithral heart cog
was stolen long ago, likely by one of the Victor’s retainers. Without this critical component,
Artephius will not activate. A new cog will
have to be made. Fortunately, the exact shape
is described in the schematics. 500 gp worth of
mithral will suffice to make the heart cog. A
smith in Farholde would do the delicate work
for 10% of the mithral’s value (50 gp). Regardless, a Craft (smith) skill check (DC 20) is required.


4. The Reservoir – Artephius needs a new glass
reservoir where the four primal reagents can
mingle and power the golem. 


5. The Reagent of Fire – Artephius needs ten doses
of alchemist’s fre.

6. The Reagent of Ice – Artephius needs ten doses
of alchemist’s ice (sometimes also called liquid
ice).


7. The Reagent of Acid – Artephius needs ten doses of a potent acid. 


8. The Reagent of Electricity – Artephius needs
a large supply of lightning elemental blood.

Once all the components have been assembled and the
golem is repaired, Artephius will come to life by simply
activating his heart pump.

In the remains of the Sons of Abbadon's former trophy room (the trophies themselves long gone) our villains find a delicate ring on the plaque for Iris of Ghastenhall. This unimpressive piece of jewelry, clearly intended for a very small fnger, has a tiny inscription ‘IoG’ beside an ornate rose.

They also, by manipulating the plaque for Ergun Nigma, find a hidden safe. Sam kicks herself for missing the E. Nigma clue, but also curses the deceased Sons for their clunky sense of humour.

An elaborate pillared throne room – Sam: “that can be my room. You've got an alchemy lab, Creel has a torture chamber, Adelea has a house full of frogs. I get a throne.” 

They find fountain and decide to come back tomorrow and detect poison at it. Adelea grumps by the door because the party aren't exploring in order. “As soon as something shiny appears they all run off!”

There is about ten minutes of heated discussion as to whether the area with the fountain constitutes a separate room as a corridor runs into it or is part of the same large room they were exploring. (It is clearly the same room).

A densely written journal is found in one of the rooms.

The party encounter a chimney and spend a frankly unconscionable amount of time attempting to climb up it. Fitch takes eight attempts at what is a simple climb. At one point Creel and then Adelea also get into the chimney and also fail to climb it. Eventually Fitch makes it up the chimney and finds a grate leading to the outside that conceivably could be removed. A good climber might be able to enter the spire this way although it would be a relatively long and difficult climb up the Horn.


Sam reads the journal while the Spire of Abbadon Inept Climbing Society Annual General Meeting is underway in the chimney. She discovers three interesting things in the very boring book:

One of the acolytes, Brother Zander Trask, kept a journal. The journal is frankly rather dull and poorly written.
Trask was no great thinker and mostly it is a repetitive
and boring record of the day to day drudgery of being a
lowly acolyte of the temple.

  1. Trask believed there to be something unusual about
    the south eastern pillar in the lower temple (room 1-27).
    He suspected it was hollow and had a secret door into it.

    2. Trask knew by rumor that two powerful daemons
    named Hexor and Vexor guarded the upper levels. He
    didn’t know precisely where they were stationed, but he
    desperately wanted to get a look at them some day.


    3. Trask had seen a priest (who thought no one was
    present) sit upon the throne and mysteriously vanish. He
    didn’t know where the priest went but thought it very interesting.

"“Hmm, maybe 'Yah' teleports you TO the throne and you need another word to go somewhere else. I dont think we can just sit there and shout syllables though"

A room with a faint magical aura appears to have preserved the body of a minotaur, pinned to the floor by a spear, as though it was only recently dead. Adelea surmises this might be a magical room for keeping things fresh. It is decided it would be a good idea to speak with dead with the minotaur, the closest thing to a survivor the party have encountered, but Sam thinks it would be better to explore some more so they know which questions to ask.

After a night's rest Creel casts detect poison. The fountain appears to be safe to drink; Sam tries some water and doesn't immediately die. Creel also casts "make whole" on the golem eye. 

This floor now fully explored (or is it) they prepare to explore the second level. 

Having had a prophetic warning from an oracle about some sort of deadly shadow the party have cunningly wasted no brainpower in wondering what this vision of the future might have shown the drug-crazed frog man. Taking no special precautions whatsoever they push on into the second floor of the Horn.

View
The Horn of Abbadon (part 2)
Timber!

Before venturing into the caverns beneath the Horn of Abbaddon the party spends some more time talking with Jurak the Elder. He tells them he had tried to impede the Sons of the Pale Horseman for years, but the cult had simply been too strong to attack. When Markadian 1, the Victor, had attacked the spire Jurak had hastened to join the fight, but had arrived too late. Noting how upset he was at this, Markadian had restored his sense of purpose by telling him he had a sacred charge to ensure the spire was protected from once again falling to evil.

In the 80 years since that day it has been a lonely struggle for the treant. He does have one ally, the dryad Calliaste, who he rarely sees as she loves the truly wild places and lives many miles away, but communicates with through the plants at least once a week. As Jurak waxes lyrical about the "dryad" and her band of devoted, artistic, followers, Sam's knowledge of the planes makes her increasingly certain this is actually a Lillend. Sort of like a muse, but scarier.

The party explore the caverns. Was that a flicker of movement in the distance? There's nothing there now.

Encountering a pool of clear water Adelea loses a dagger finding out it's actually acid. Continuing on they come to a narrow squeeze; Grumblejack is extremely unhappy with the idea of not being big any more. He likes being this size! It's a good size. He doesn't want to be little! Bigger would mean he would hit his head on the ceiling so he would much prefer not to change size thank you. Sam agrees for now that he can remain on the same scale, as there are other tunnels that can be explored before they'll need to go through the squeeze.

Our villains are soon ambushed by boggards! Their terrifying croaks scare Adelea and Fitch into running for their lives, with Fitch making it all the way to a mud pool and scalding his wee legs in the boiling mud. The tribe's leader, Kumanda Slays-Nine-Men, had the potential to be quite a dangerous foe, but utterly fails to lay a finger, or more importantly a two handed sword, on the party. However two of the boggards do manage to lay a couple of spears on Sam, who is disconcerted and annoyed as until now she's never been so much as scratched.

With Kumanda in serious trouble another boggard hoves into view, and joins the fight – on our villains' side! He's the tribe's oracle, Zikomo Hears-the-Father, a Dagon-worshipping lunatic, and his dreams have told him it's high time he was in sole charge of the tribe and an end was put to Kumanda's inept leadership. It's time for a bit of light treason. 

His show-stopper move, bringing the terrible chill of outer space to Kumanda's body, disappointingly fails to kill him due to his ridiculous fortitude and his barbarian resistance to all magic. However it does serve to persuade the party that Zikomo is the enemy of their enemy and thus worth temporarily not murdering.

Adelea, freshly returned from fleeing from a loud croak like a scared little girl, and perhaps overcompensating, brutally overkills Kumanda with a vicious blow of her greatsword. 

Zikomo barks something in the boggard language, and the two remaining boggards of the ambush party prostrate themselves before the party. He says, in serviceable common, that his dreams showed him they would come, to help dedicate the spire to Dagon! (Sam cheerfully agrees that yep, Dagon, absolutely). Zikomo is then helped back to his temple by one of the two boggards, his dream juice having worn off. The other shows the villains around the caverns, using mime and gestures. However Adelea, having killed Kumanda, inherits his hut and his stuff, and his consorts. Luckily the stuff includes a helm that lets the party understand boggard language (and a boggard understand theirs) so they are able to explain to the consorts that boggards aren't really their bag, and that they should go consort with Zikomo now. 

Zikomo, in a magical trance, tells them

“The cave of the blue
slime conceals your future. Learn its secret or fail at
ye master’s charge.”
 

then starts leaping around the room cackling and screaming as his fire changes colour to blue in response to his frenzied prayers.

Our villains are puzzled by the blue slime room. It is a room with a vibrant glowing blue slime mold on the western wall. Quite pretty but not magical or dangerous. They try poking it a bit. Careful checks of the room turn up nothing.

However, extending her senses, Sam detects a magical item past the south wall of the cavern. Further checks, now they know something should be there, find a very narrow tunnel, only passable by something tiny (or gaseous, or incorporeal).

They appear to be stumped. Adelea eats some blue slime to see if it shrinks her. It tastes horrible and does nothing, but at least nothing poisonous. Perhaps they'll need to go back to town for some potions of gaseous form?

Never underestimate the power of brute force solutions. A couple of days' repeated use of Stone Shape gets enough stone to flow out of the way that the tunnel is passable for a small creature, and a quick spell from Sam turns Fitch into a small creature and he makes his way through the tunnel into a small cave.

When the end came for the Sons of the Pale Horseman, it came quickly. Certainly the cultist Rinehart Kappelbrenner was caught unprepared. As his brethren
charged towards the futile fight with the King and his
knights, Rinehart instead ran. He knew the fight could
not be won. He had already seen the daemon prince
Vetra-Kali slain by King Markadian. He knew he was
doomed. But always a clever lad, Rinehart had a plan.
He grabbed two potions of gaseous form, a small pack
containing personal effects, food and water and one of
the emerald eyes of Vetra-Kali. The jewel he obtained
was the Eye of Vigilance and it functions as a crystal ball
that could see anywhere within the confines of the Horn.
His plan was to drink a potion of gaseous form, retreat to
a small chamber in the lower caverns he had discovered
years ago, and there wait out this slaughter. After the invaders were gone then he could escape and unite with other survivors…if there were any. When he returned
the Eye of Vigilance to the priesthood he had no doubt
they would hail him as a hero of the order.
It was a magnificent plan and at first, it seemed to be
working flawlessly. Rinehart escaped to the lower caverns, drank the potion and made it into the concealed
cavern. He reverted to solid form and used the Eye to
survey the destruction wrought upon the Horn. It was
then he noticed a terrible flaw in his plan. One of the potions of gaseous form had been smashed. Its contents had
leaked out and the potion was ruined. He was trapped in
this tiny chamber. He tried slipping through the gap and
even resorted to shouting hoping a comrade would hear
him. After a day of futile effort he knew he was doomed.
He lasted for weeks. Water dripped into the cave and
he had a small store of food. He even had illumination
via the cantrip light. His pack contained a prized holy
book “The Dirges of Apollyon” and ink and quill.
He observed everything that was done by the Victor.
He saw the Seal made and in that moment Rinehart Kappelbrenner had a dreadful epiphany. Some might say a
vision this powerful and this terrible must have come directly from the Pale Horseman himself. Or perhaps it
was simply a moment of genius by one of the most humble servants of this wicked temple. Whatever the reason,
Rinehart knew what must be done to call forth his master
back to the prime material plane.
Te seal was not perfect. There was a way to break it.
And he knew how. On the back pages of the “Dirges” he
recorded his ritual. And then cackling madly to himself
in smug satisfaction, he committed his soul into the arms
of death and took his own life.
Today, a lime encrusted human skeleton leans against
the south wall clutching a heavy leather bound book.
Tis is perhaps the last surviving copy of “Te Dirges
of Apollyon” upon this mortal plane. It details the long
history of the “Sons of the Pale Horseman” and recounts
their efforts to transform this world into a daemon’s playground. This rarest of tomes is made utterly unique by
the last page of text within. Tis book makes plain the
ritual necessary to call Vetra-Kali back to the mortal
realms (the ritual is detailed below). And besides that,
still glittering amongst the muck, is the First Eye of Vetra Kali – The Eye of Vigilance.

At the moment however, despite its description in the book and despite showing up in detect magic with a strong divination aura,  the Eye is inert. It's just a great big emerald.

Having solved the secret of the blue slime (or have they?) the party decide it's time for some forestry. They buff up before coming out of the caves carrying Kumanda's head. Having already decided they were allies Jurak suspects nothing until Sam and Creel cast the last couple of buff spells and the villains set about him like a crew of amphetamine-crazed lumberjacks who just heard they lost the tree-murdering world record and are determined to get it back. Jurak falls to a well-placed dagger from Fitch before taking a single action of his own.

Sam plants Father Donnagin's silver amulet of Mithra near the corpse. Never a bad time to frame your enemies…

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The Horn of Abbadon
Farholde - and finding the Horn

Tiadora escorts our villains to Farholde, on the other side of Talingarde, in a rather slow and wallowing barge. She has claimed the only cabin, with the captain and small crew sleeping outside on deck with the party.

Every night they anchor within sight of a village or keep, moving off in the morning. Eventually Samra'el asks Tiadora what she is up to: "I am reminding the poor souls of Talingarde what
hell is like. Do you have a problem with that?"

-Can we come?

"It is a task for me alone"

-OK, have fun!

Adelea is training hard during the voyage, doing maniacal amounts of press ups and jumping jacks, running on the oars, lifting heavy things, and making sure to get a balanced, high protein diet. By the end of the 12 day voyage she seems even fitter and healthier than at the start.

Sam is mostly occupied crafting magical items. Creel spends a lot of time communing with his god, and also some communing with his rather evil stone mace. Fitch mostly mooches, but intersperses this with some moping for variety's sake.

After 12 days Tiadora invites them into the barge's cabin to talk with Cardinal Thorn. “The master is here and commands you attend him,”

He greets his knot and is quickly to business: “You have served me faithfully, my ninth knot, and I have rewarded you both in treasure and vengeance. Thanks to your efforts, the Fire-Axe has been unleashed. Even now he writes his name in blood across the Borderlands. Three battles have been fought and three victories won. Te villages of Ambryl and Tarrington Fields lie sacked.
The fortress of Lorringsgate is in ruins. Each of you did your part in seeing these triumphs come to fruition. Do not think I have forgotten that.


“But our work is not yet done. Talingarde has not yet acquiesced to our unholy master nor tasted the full measure of our vengeance. So I have another mission for you. Tomorrow this barge will dock in Farholde, the northernmost town in all the realm. Farholde is a backwater of no real signifcance. Its lord has already lef the place hoping for glory in the war. But it does border the Caer Bryr (pronounced care-briar), the largest unmapped forest on the entire island.

“Hidden within the Caer Bryr is the Horn of Abaddon, an ancient temple once occupied by a particularly loathesome death cult called ‘The Sons of the Pale Horseman’. Almost eighty years ago the first Darian king, Markadian I called the Victorious overthrew the Horn and destroyed the Sons. No great loss, honestly. But what the Victor found within the temple is why we
are here. He defeated a daemon prince called Vetra-Kali Eats-the-Eyes. So terrifed of this monstrosity was the king, that he had the priests of Mitra craf a great silver seal to forever forbid the daemon from returning to our plane ofexistence. The seal remains to this day.

“I have learned the truth about this daemon prince. I have learned what the Victor feared. Vetra-Kali is an archdeacon in service to the lord of pestilence. This immortal monster could create a plague so virulent that it will bring Talingarde to its knees. When the Victor attacked, the Daemon Prince was close to unleashing his masterpiece upon the world — a pestilence known as the Tears of Achlys (pronounced ACKLis). I am uncertain of the specifcs of this plague but if
anything could terror in the heart of the Victor, then I want it. The Tears of Achlys will be our poisoned dagger into the heart of Talingarde.


“I already have agents in the great cities of this kingdom. With this pestilence, they could deliver blight and death to the very center of the realm. Caught between the twin storms of the Fire-Axe and Vetra-Kali’s gif, we shall bring ruin to Talingarde. This gift you shall bring to me. It will not be easy. I have already lost one band of followers on this errand. I sent the fourth knot to fnd the
Horn of Abaddon. They succeeded at that at least – revealing to me that it was concealed within a great spire of stone less than a day’s ride from Farholde. But then they vanished. I have heard no more from the elven ranger Aiden Kael since. He knew the Caer Bryr well so no normal hazard would defeat him. Perhaps the Horn of Abaddon is guarded. I cannot say. But it matters not!

The Tears of Achlys must be mine!


"I am undeterred by this setback. Where one knot failed, two will succeed. I will also send my seventh knot– the Knot Hibernal led by Elise Zadaria. I task you with finding the Horn and calling forth Vetra-Kali. Elise and her knot will aid you. Elise proved herself a capable assassin in our last venture. The seventh knot will remain in Farholde and see that anyone who tries to fnd the Horn
and interfere with your work meets an unhappy end. Thus, you will have time to do what must be done.


“There is another who may be able to aid you. Once a thriving cult of Asmodeus existed in Farholde. It was led by a half-elvish noble – the Baron Arkov Vandermir. He is
treacherous and decadent, but wealthy and well-connected. Tiadora will introduce you before she departs. I know not what aid the Baron can provide, but his family is old and long has dwelt in Farholde. Never trust him but know this – he’s afraid of me and with good reason.
If he does try anything remind him that you are in Farholde on my behalf. Tat should keep him in line.

“Find the Horn. Find the seal and shatter it. Call
Vetra-Kali back to our world. Bind him to your will and
force service from the monster. And then bring his gif to
me. Can you do this, my knot? Have I found servants with
might and will enough to see this task done?”

 

-Piece of Cake!

-Of course, my lord.

- Find creepy temple, break seal, release demon, get him to give us plague.

After some perceptive questions from Zachariah Creel the party are dismissed from Thorn's presence.

 

Soon the barge arrives in Farholde. Tiadora has arranged dinner with the Baron the following evening and instructs the villains to purchase some finery. They spread out and do some exploring and shopping – and rumour mongering.

Did you hear about the elf staying at the Wandering
Friar Inn that disappeared now three weeks back? Went
into the Briar and weren’t never seen again!

 

The following day they have a look round the town, pick up their finery, and do a bit more shopping. Sam also crafts a handy haversack for Fitch, but for some reason the magic is a bit glitchy. Possibly this is due to random eddies in the magical currents in the area, or the mingled conflicting influences of the Temple of Mitra and the nearby Horn of Abbadon. Possibly it's psychological, caused by throttled frustration at Fitch having completely failed to pay attention when she clearly and straightforwardly laid out all the useful magical things she could make. Perhaps the Gods are just having a bit of a laugh. Whatever the reason, the haversack works perfectly and is comfortable to wear, but changes colour depending on Fitch's moods.

Mood: confused and slightly put off by unexpected colour-changing-icity of satchel.

Jumping slightly ahead of the plot, the party also locate Aiden Kael's abandoned hotel room. The innkeeper is very pleased to let them search it in return for paying his 25GP outstanding bill. They find a map pointing straight to Abbadon's Horn! Handy stuff.

They also do some more rumour mongering.

Did you hear about the elf staying at the Wandering
Friar Inn that disappeared now three weeks back? Went
into the Briar and weren’t never seen again!
 

The Caer Bryr is full of living trees — everyone
knows that, but its rare to see them so far north. Still,
I’ve heard tell that one dwells not a day’s ride from this
very tavern!

Sam racks her brains for knowledge about these denizens of the forest.

“Treants – OK they're good, so they're going to want to kill us….”

The dinner party goes swimmingly. The Baron was initially very skeptical about helping our villains, assuming they would simply attract the attention of the inquisitors. However Sam's oratory wins him over, helped by Creel deliberately letting the Baron see his unholy symbol of Asmodeus while bowing to him at the start of the meal. The Baron has a great deal of power in Farholde, and should make a useful ally.

We sit here at the dawn of a new age, an age where the self righteous Mitrans no longer rule. It's already started.

You don't need to fear the pyre, nothing you do will be traced back to you.

Asmodeus will rule. The bugbears are united and a match for the Mitran forces.

And as for the Mitrans we are here to see to them. I am sure you wish them gone as much as we do.

The following day sees the arrival of Elise Zakaria and her Hibernal Knot. But before that – some last minute shopping, and some rumour mongering:

 Did you hear about the elf staying at the Wandering
Friar Inn that disappeared now three weeks back? Went
into the Briar and weren’t never seen again!

Elise is doing her best to put a falsely friendly face forward, but Fitch's finely-tuned senses can feel she's faking. He can tell she's quietly livid to be in a subordinate role, and he lets the party know this with surprising subtlety for Fitch.

Elise and her Knot will run interference here in Farholde, putting a stop to as many adventurers as she can and warning the party about any she can't. She explains her plan to create a fake serial killer and bathe Farholde in blood. Samra'el says “seems reasonable. Don't piss off the Baron, that's an order”. Sam appears to be enjoying the chance to rub Elise's nose in her current junior status.

Following the map into the exotically beautiful but also remarkably dangerous Caer Bryr our villains find the Horn within two days, but are intercepted by a treant, Jurak the Elder, who warns them of the Horn's dangerous nature. Sam is easily able to provide the giant simple-minded wooden buffoon that the party are heroes, who would be happy to help cleanse the spire of evil. The tree man idiot is very pleased to hear this, as there are a tribe of frog people in the lower levels of the spire he's not remotely happy about…

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Bring Down Balentyne! part 4
Schedule of slaughter

The party disguise themselves as Donnagin and the guards and ride hell for leather towards the tower, abandon the horses once they're out of sight, sneak unseen through the woods towards the path to the clearing, come out of the woods disguised as themselves looking puzzled, and start asking people if they know why Donnagin headed out of there so quickly.

Day 16 – Sam starts crafting a belt of strength

Creel sacrifices a big pile o' stuff to his god in thanks for making his mace more good-people-killingy.

Day 17 – Sam continues crafting a belt of strength

Fitch is gently persuaded not to talk to anyone. He spies on the fort, finding it to be closed up and guarded.

Day 18 – the villans infiltrate the tower to kill the mage (disguised as generic guards)

“Hold fast to courage, faith and fellowship and this tower shall never fall.” says the inscription on the statue of Markadian I, the Victor, which they pass on their way. (“Not fast enough” mutters Fitch)

Guards outside the mage's door notice these “guards” are not members of the garrison, but they are quickly silenced and cut down. Fitch leaps over one acrobatically and murders him from behind, the other is cut clean in half with a mighty swing of Adelea's sword.

Fitch unlocks the door to the mage's room while the silence lasts. The party buffs up and charges in. Tacitus is caught by surprise but somehow gets a wild slap in as Adelea runs past. Her ear is slightly stingy. She looks hard at him and says “you shouldn't have done that”.

Sam casts boredom but Tacitus's will is too strong.

The mage screams “help me, help me! Crush the intruders!”

An ice golem smashes through the door into the room and tries to smash Creel! This is a disquieting turn of events. Further disquieting to the party are muffled shouts that suggest guards above and below have heard sounds of a struggle and are coming to investigate.

Creel caves in the mage's skull with Gada Topang.

Sam gives a hurried but informative speech about the ice golem then zaps it with a scorching ray! Her first ever offensive spell is highly effective.


The golem takes heavy damage, then a tiny bit of extra damage from Fitch, shattering into a storm of icy fragments. Creel and Adelea take damage from this but successfully weather the ice storm.

Guards from the floors above and below come running, finding a locked door and two dead guards covered in ice shards (thrown by Creel just as Sam locked the door). A muffled voice shouts “stay back! I must get this experiment under control!”

The guards hammer on the door as the party, featherfalled, steps out of the window, floats down like particularly murderous gossamer, and then gleefully sneaks out via the tunnel, leaving a dead mage and a shattered golem in a locked room.

Day 19 – Stew day!

They successfully persuade Mama Guiseppe to include mushrooms in the stew, and successfully bluff her that “Susan” is an expert forager and the mushrooms are thus entirely safe. “Ruprecht”, their idiot brother, helps to stir (and slips arsenic into the stew when Mama Guiseppe is distracted).

This goes perfectly. Over the next 24 hours the combined effects of arsenic and mushrooms kills 12 men and sickens 30 more so badly they are utterly unfit for duty.

Day 20.

Sam has finished the belt. Fitch's arms are still like noodles – but stronger noodles!

They sneak in once again by the tunnel, this time with Grumblejack in tow, murder their way up the tower, and set fire to the arrow store.

Then they murder their way up the keep to Havelyn's room. Forewarned, he has buffed up and is a fairly terrifying opponent, especially after casting smite evil on Adelea. He also has more willpower than the famous Wilful Willy McWillpower, Wily Wazir of Will Saves, and shrugs off Sam's boredom spell with little effort. Adelea does savage amounts of damage to him, and he misses with his two power attacks in round one, but he connects twice in the next round and leaves her bleeding out on the floor.

Luckily Grumblejack smashes him to death with a mighty blow of his club, and Adelea is soon stablised and returned to health. As soon as she touches Havelyn's +1 Champion's Plate the shining steel darkens to black, with baroque engravings of evil deeds. She discovers, despite being considerably shorter than Havelyn and indeed a different sex, that this suit of +1 dastard's plate now fits her perfectly.

The entire leadership cadre of Tower Balentyne is now dead (or sent away in disgrace) and many of the guards and dead or poisoned. The few demoralised and leaderless grunts left stand little chance against the purposeful and relatively skilled villains, who have the advantage of their circlets letting them get the drop on confused defenders.

They slaughter their way to the gatehouse, and none can stand against them. They disable the war machines and murder holes, winch up the gate and let down the drawbridge, fortifying themselves against any attempt to take the gatehouse back. The invading army of bugbears, summoned by the signal rocket, encounter very little resistance – although some are killed by the lantern archons, which the party never encountered, and some find it quite time consuming and annoying to kill a bunch of acolytes who are healing each other.

Balentyne has fallen. The villains have achieved the impossible. The bugbears pour through the watchtower and slaughter the inhabitants of Aldencross. Soon they will march on the Southlands.

The party crack the seal they were given previously, and Tiadora soon appears and leads them to a waiting boat.

 

From a promontory, you can see the great bugbear horde
camped south of the Watch Wall. Balentyne yet burns behind you. Tiadora remarks, “I have seen no evidence of any army gathering to meet the horde. It seems Zadaria
has also succeeded at her mission and has assassinated the
commanders. Truly, a great achievement.
“Making matters worse for poor Talingarde, small bands
of creatures unaligned with Sakkarot approach the breach,
eager to take advantage of the chaos. How could these
beasts know already about this break in the Watch Wall?
Someone must have told them. Probably best to leave. This
region is about to become very dangerous.
“Still, this will not be enough. Balentyne may be broken but Talingarde is yet strong. Soon word will reach the south. The Heartland and the great cities of the Cambrian
Bay will marshal their armies. They will meet Sakkarot on
the feld and it will be far too close to a fair fight. We must
do something about that. “Come, my lords, your ship awaits. Try not to burn this
one.”


Lords. She called you lords. And lords you are. Lords
of death and destruction. Lords of evil. Do you remember Branderscar? Do you remember being held down and branded like animals? How far you have come and how
long yet the journey before you. Tiadora is right. This is only your first steps along the way of the wicked.

 

 

 

 

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Bring down Balentyne! part 3
Itinerary of Death

 

Day 10

There is some discussion as to whether to rob the wizard while he's at the play. However the party decide he's probably got his fireball wand with him so they'll sneak in closer to B-Day to kill him

There follows some kibbitzing about Fitch's diplomatic skills. He claims it is not his fault he has problems interacting with these hicks and yokels.

 

They enter the tower from the tunnel, disguised as guards, and make their way through an empty tower to the Rookery, with the muffled sounds of the play occasionally heard from the direction of the Great Hall. Sam pretends to have a message to be sent. Martin opens the door. There is grumbling. Then a surprise attack!

Martin is killed in short order, and Sam attaches a suicide note to him and chucks him off the tower. There is considerable bird murdering. The trained ravens will take months to replace, and, while they don't know it, the denizens of Balentyne and the nearby town have less than three weeks. No reinforcements will be available when the Bugbears attack, and any news will have to reach other garrisons on foot or horseback via whatever terrified refugees escape the slaughter. Response will be slow and muddled.

On the way out the villains ransack the captains' quarters.

They check Barhold's room and find nothing of value. Varning's too, and Motts. In Eddarly's room they find explicit love letters between him and Kaitlyn Mott!

Day 11

Sam disguises herself as an urchin and delivers the love notes to Mott. He pales, puts a hand on a table to steady himself, turns on his heel and marches off with steely purpose.

“Robin” and “Robert” and “Susan” introduce themselves to Mama Guiseppe and make firm friends. She cooks them a lovely dinner. Aww.

Day 12

Mott killed Eddarly in a duel! The rumours are all over town. Mott's been clapped in irons!

The villains blackmail Bellam Barhold into writing a note to his brother – and then surprise murder him, and stuff his body in a tunnel!

Sam successfully disguises herself and “Bellam Barhold” is seen walking out of town looking troubled “just going for some fresh air”

The party (sans Fitch) have a dry run with the stew, and it goes very well. Creel's attempt to raise a round of applause fails horribly with one guard clapping briefly then looking horribly embarrassed. However Sam raises a cheer for her and the old lady blushes but is secretly pleased. “Robin” agrees to help her with the shopping for next week, and Mama Guiseppe will be very happy to have her new friends accompany her.

Fitch tries to deliver the note but forgets Barhold's name then says it's for the commander, no wait the captain. -Which captain? “Errrrr eeeegghmmmmmmmmrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr”

The guard chases him away with a club.

Later Adelea apologises for her idiot brother (“we thought we could at least trust him with a note but clearly we were wrong”) and successfully hands the note to a guard to deliver to Captain Barhold.

Day 13

Barhold shows up to speak to his “brother” who draws a sword! Iron Sam Barhold reacts quickly and sunders Adelea's sword with a mighty swing of his greatsword. Adelea started the fight with 300 gold pieces worth of masterwork longsword, and is now holding about 5 silver's worth of hilt.

Creel firebolts Barhold and Fitch stabs him, but he's called Iron Sam for a reason, and he's nowhere close to going down. However Barhold is suddenly too bored to throw a tanglefoot bag at Fitch, or indeed do owt else. Zach Creel hits him with a mace, channeling the power of his god.

With her sword broken, Adelea draws her dagger and does a spectacularly effective strike through a chink in his armour and into one of his kidneys, as he twists to take Creel's hit.

Fitch hits effectively with both daggers, and then Creel finishes the captain with a savage blow of Gada Topang. The black lightning of his god's evil power crawls over the captain's slightly smoking body, as the blood seems to sink into the stone heads of the mace. At the edge of perception Creel seems to hear a very large, very distant, very satisfied chuckle.

All 4 captains are now dealt with. Mad Martin is dead. Eisenbauch and his dwarfs are sent home in disgrace. There are still 94 soldiers, Father Donnagin, the wizard, the Lord Commander, and who knows what else to deal with.

Day 15

Father Donnagin has been investigating the disappearance of the Barhold Brothers, and his investigations have reached the villains. Accompanied by three guards, he questions them about recent events. He is initially unconvinced by Adelea's protestations that she had not read the note, and she sheepishly admits that she had in fact peeked at it. Sam smoothly steps in, and manages to succesfully bluff the suspicious and perceptive priest.

Sorry, we don't have any idea why the innkeep disappeared. We last saw him heading towards the woods (previous testimony from other witnesseses backs this up). No, we have no idea why he was headed for the woods the day before he asked his brother to meet him there. We'd be happy to come and help you search the area around this clearing – more hands and more eyes to search should be helpful don't you think?

 

Father Donnagin is perceptive. Father Donnagin is suspicious. Father Donnagin comes achingly close to seeing through the bluff. Father Donnagin invites the villains to join him and help search the clearing, and turns his back on them to peer around for clues.

This was not a good decision on his part.

Creel smashes the priest with the power of his god (also a mace). It is super effective.

Donnagin casts heat metal on Adelea's sword but she holds on as her hands sizzle. Donnagin goes down under a hail of blows, with Adelea's final blow cutting one of his arms clean off. One of the guards turns to flee for help, but for some reason gets bored with the whole idea before he gets very far.

The Deadly Clearing of Death™ has claimed another important victim. Without Donnagin's steadying influence, and relying only on his five acolytes for healing magic, the tower's defences will be noticeably weaker.

Creel's eyes roll up into his head and he drops in a dead faint. The villains see a black aura form around Gada Topang, clutched in Creel's white knuckled grasp, as the blood of the priest of Mitra once again seems to sink into the stone.

Creel comes to on a vast plateau, made of strangely ridged red stone. He looks about him a little wildly and sees a pair of vast glowing yellow eyes looking down at him, and has the sudden dizzying realisation that he is standing on an enormous hand. He is in the presence of his God, Asmodeus!

An enormous voice, almost too loud to bear, echoes out over the 'plateau'. “You have done well, little priest. You have used my power to strike down a powerful servant of that simpering milktoast, Mitra. When you wake, you will find your mace has been… improved”.

A massive, rumbling chuckle rolls over and through Creel, who passes out again.

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