(Ed. Note: Due to a severe bout of extreme laziness and procrastination, I neglected to post the notes from our fourth session until after session #5. I could do two separate posts, but I am still suffering from post-laziness syndrome and have not yet fully overcome the effects of the severe bout of laziness I have endured. So instead I’m just rolling them together here.)
After defeating the bandits in their lair, and capturing the bandit leader’s sister Bethany, the party rummaged through the loot they had liberated and mostly managed to distribute that which they found useful to the party members. In a truly heartwarming instance of decency and kindness the party accepted Orchid Caston’s assertion that some of the items in the bandit loot pile had belonged to her and returned them to her, including the 500 gold she said she had been sent to use to bribe the bandits to join the Caston’s against the Rovells.
Lt. Karel Rovell and Orchid Caston wasted little time rekindling their romance, and spent much of the evening in the nooks and crannies of the cave reacquainting themselves with each others intimacies. Their reunion was undoubtedly one with a high temperature rating.
Among the items recovered from the bandits was an ancient page of parchment with undecipherable writing, alongside elvish notes which indicated the parchment had some connection to the ancient “Dwarvenwyrd” events, but the page itself appeared not only to be in an ancient language, but it appeared also to be some sort of cipher which would require either the key, or some magical ability to translate into a comprehensible message.
Eventually the party discussed where to camp for the night, whether to camp inside the cave, or in the open ground outside. The relative merits and risks of this discussion were interrupted briefly by a deep “whooomph!” sound which seemed to pervade the cave, and was accompanied by a fall of dust and dirt from the ceiling. Eventually the party decided to camp outside, but with Bethany still tied up and locked inside the cave. Lt. Rovell disentangled himself from the ardent embrace of young Orchid long enough to write a short note explaining the situation to send to Lord Geltran Rovell (his grandfather) and the group agreed to use the bandit loot’s bird feather token as a means to deliver the message. Upon discussing the timing of sending the message the party decided to wait until morning to see if they could recover spells and decipher the parchment first.
The night was mostly uneventful except for a sudden appearance during Halmod’s watch of a bright burning “falling star” in the sky. Then, at the very end of the night, as morning was dawning, another burning object in the sky screamed through the air directly above the party, sending a shock wave that knocked them down and deafened some of the party, as well as knocking trees and boulders around enough to cause significant damage to the party members.
But that was just the beginning. Seconds later the falling object hit the ground some ten miles or so to the north-northwest, and the resulting shock and blast wave again knocked the party around and very nearly killed Halmod. At this point the party realized they had neglected to heal the party up before going to sleep.
As the party regained their composure and took stock of the situation, they realized a huge forest fire was blazing in the north, and that the area above the bandit cave appeared to have collapsed. Lt. Rovell and Talon immediately searched out Bethany only to discover her crushed and broken body beneath the heavy rubble of the now-ruined cave. Poor Bethany.
The bulk of the morning was taken up with preparing as much healing as possible. Kugel’s eidolon Kinestarre had been a casualty of the nightly events as well, and Kugel decided not to re-summon Kinestarre at half hit points.
After revising the message to indicate Bethany’s death, the party sent the parchment to Lord Rovell using the bird token. Then Malph summoned a phantom steed and went to see if he could locate the horses the party had left to the east of the bandit lair. After a few hours he returned with the horses and Halmod’s pony. Gregor and Violet had by now mostly cast all the healing they could muster and the party was mostly restored to adventuring form. As such they decided to head to the north to see if they could investigate the disaster area. After a while they noticed that a rainstorm seemed to have formed directly above the burning forest and the forest fire itself seemed to be slowly dying out.
After a few hours of travel they came upon a strange group of creatures that they concluded must be evil outsiders. Demonic perhaps. The group of creatures included one of the spear-wielding creatures they had fought before outside Elania and several elemental looking beings that were mostly legs and teeth. Flaming legs and teeth.
The battle was furious and several members of the party were burned badly by intense heat radiating from the creatures. Normal weapons seemed to barely harm the creatures, and the party lacked serious magical firepower. Then Kugel summoned the first rhinoceros and that’s when the tide of the battle turned. While not magical, the sheer destructive power of the goring, charging rhinos was enough to overwhelm any magical damage reduction the beings possessed and between the rhinos, Halmod’s magic missiles, Gregor’s unhittable armor, a hail of arrows from Malph, Talon, Karel Rovell and Orchid Caston, the evil beasts were finally subdued. However, the only item recovered from the battle was a flaming magic longspear.
(At this point Session 4 concluded)
At this point the party decided to scout around and they soon spotted a veritable army of demonic beasts of various sizes and shapes. The army was clearly beyond the ability of the party to combat, even had they been at full strength. Karel Rovell estimated that the army was making a beeline towards Elania and the party decided that on horseback they could outrun the army and get a warning to Captain Kane for the defense of the city. So they rode.
After several hours of riding they came upon a group of Caston soldiers fighting beasts similar to the beasts they had fought earlier. The Caston’s were hard-pressed and were clearly on the verge of utter destruction when Gregor announced his intention to save them. Karel Rovell objected, and immediately he and Orchid Caston were engaged in a bitter argument.
The rest of the party followed Gregor’s lead and attacked. Again the rhinoceros’s bellowed and blew, and soon the evil beasts had been slain, but not before completely exhausting the party’s resources. The leader of the Caston force turned out to be none other than the long-missing Lucen Caston himself, Orchid’s grandfather. Orchid attempted to talk to him, but upon seeing Orchid at Karel Rovell’s side, Lucen was enraged and slapped Orchid to the ground. Karel Rovell attempted to come to her aid and the Caston soldiers intervened. It looked like a new battle was just about to begin.
Then Malph interceded and persuasively explained that minor issues like who might be bedding whom did not really matter when the literal end of the world was at hand. Gregor swallowed his own distaste at dealing with Lucen, whose aura indicated some taint of evil, and soon Gregor and Malph had calmed down the Castons and they began to discuss options.
Unfortunately the party learned that the situation on the ground was… complicated. Lucen Caston’s presence was due to his rebel army having arranged what he hoped to be a decisive battle against Tam Rovell’s army over the next rise on the plains below. The two nearly equal armies had been ready to start the battle when the falling star had landed nearby. Lucen had accompanied a party to investigate the event and had thus come under attack, but the two armies were still primed and ready for battle, awaiting only word from one or the other generals to begin hostilities.
Malph and Gregor negotiated fiercely. Eventually an agreement was reached that Lucen Caston would agree to talk with Tam Rovell if the party could convince Tam to put aside hostilities long enough to parley. Lucen clearly considered this unlikely, but Karel Rovell promised that he could get his uncle to listen. Lucen escorted the party through the Caston army lines and agreed to meet Tam in the no-man’s land between the armies if they could bring him. Orchid stayed behind with Lucen, in spite of Karel’s attempts to bring her along.
So the party continued on to meet with General Tam Rovell. Lt. Karel Rovell was able to convince the Rovell army sentries not to shoot or arrest them and soon they were escorted to a huge tent behind the Rovell lines. General Tam turned out to be a more difficult man to convince than Lucen had been. But then again, Tam had not been on the verge of being killed by the outsider beasts. Here the skills of Malph and Gregor again turned the tide, and in spite of Tam’s disdain for his young nephew, upon seeing the demonic inscriptions on the spear’s shaft, he agreed to at least discuss the situation with Lucen before initiating the decisive battle for Elania.
And thus it was that the party found themselves in the middle of two massive armies, negotiating with both sides to join forces against the common outsider invaders. In the end it required having Lt. Karel Rovell be held hostage by the Castons, and Orchid Caston being held hostage by the Rovells. But the agreement was made, battle between Caston and Rovell was averted and an army was ready and in position to defend Elania.
With that complete the party traveled to Elania to report to Captain Kane. Kane was somewhat surprised to see that only two of his agents remained from the group he had sent out a week or so earlier, but he seemed to approve of the new additions to the force. Kane was angrily disappointed that the party had not returned with Dain, the bandit lord’s head, and informed the party that the next time he asked for the head of an evil-doer, he expected to see that head. But in spite of his disappoinment in the lack of a trophy, he was clearly disturbed and concerned with the story of the invading outsiders and after taking care of some paperwork, he led the party to the palace library to meet with none other than Lord Geltran Rovell himself.
Geltran seemed to know all about the invading outsiders. Indeed, he informed the party that the combined Caston and Rovell forces had already engaged the enemy and that he was sending in his most powerful magic users to stop the advancing army. He took one of the flaming longspears from the party and gave it to an underling with the instructions to “take this to Mogush” for examination.
At this point Lord Rovell told the party that he needed them to perform a critically important task, but that to do so, the party would have to take an oath not to reveal the nature of the task, nor any of the information related to the task. At first Gregor seemed to be unwilling to make any such promise, but eventually the party agreed to take the oath, and Gregor cast a “truth telling” spell to ensure that only the truth could be spoken during the discussion.
According to Lord Rovell, the parchment had revealed the existence and location of a mythical text written eons earlier, during the Dwarvenwyrd itself, called “The Book of Ceorl” which supposedly had a means to combat the hordes of invading outsiders. The location of the book was said to be below Grygsdraal, in the Underdark, the realm of Drow and other fell creatures.
Halmod asked if there was a way to transport the party directly to Grygsdraal to save the hike, and at first Lord Rovell seemed unwilling to reply, but when Kugel chimed in with the same question, Lord Rovell reconsidered and said “I have entrusted you with the most critical task of our age, I should not keep more secrets from you” and he revealed that within the palace there existed a portal that could transport the party directly to a location within Grygsdraal. But to do so would require urgent negotiations with the Dwarves that would take a few hours. Lord Rovell counseled the party to visit Elania’s remaining open shops to prepare as they could for a trip into the underdark. He also informed the party that Elania was being evacuated as they spoke, so there would be no shops open after they closed for the night.
At that point we stopped for the night.