The Shining South

Better Homes and Tentacles.
The party reach Ymrius' sanctum, kill his family (again) and fight a bunch of tentacles.

close now to the shard of Thuban, one of the strange items on Elbrecht’s list now being hunted by the adventurers, Elbrecht and now even Vecna, the party answer Ymrius’ arrogant summons.

First however, the party must activate and traverse his teleportation runes. Bel’estior recalls that devices like this attune to the darkest part of the soul and that only reciting their darkest secrets will open the way, the catch is that it is also shared wit hthe creator of the gate. Each of them in turn announce their innermost horror to their friends, and evaporates into cinders.

On the other side, the party comes face to face with strange, chaotic globules of black mass that float curiously above them, and four ornate sarcophagi arranged around the room. While debating furiously with Ymrius’ voice, they pay little attention to the caskets swinging open and soon they are surrounded by the decaying bodies of Ymrius’ family, now taken as his lieutenants. Having dispatched already their spirits back in the Barvalt crypt, the group makes short work of the family a second time.

Having watched the skirmish, the floating black masses, evidently possessed of an intellect of their own, offer the party a way forward. The party quickly find that in the darkness of the halls above, that they have lost each other, and themselves. One by one each of them finds a small room with several doors, and in each room waits an individual from their past, who confronts them over the horrors they have committed or the lies they have told. It takes some longer than others to realize they are facing illusions, Jonn finding help from the vicious intellect of his newly found weapon that reels against the assault by a similar intellect. Before long the party have navigated the twisting corridoors and unreliable doors and find each other, and in seeking a way out find and confront the source of the illusions: A Far Realm entity that seems to be part of the tower itself.

Having destroyed the creature, the adventurers find themselves back where they started, in the chamber containing the sarcophagi. Wary of more misdirection and traps, the group search through the room for possible exits, and find another plain door behind one of the enormous tapestries. Having learned her lesson, Tarja hacks a peephole and the party look through, to find the host himself, absently attending a large broken bronze mechanism. The adventurers decide it’s time to confront Ymrius, and burst through to a twisted, very insane host who reveals that the shard has been taken by another while they were making their way up. To confuse further, in his insanity he offers the intruders safe passage out of the tower. The party argue over the course to take, creating division within the ranks, but finally, wary, haunted, but unwilling to let the horrors of the spire continue, they attack and murder the mad necromancer.

Will the fall of the Spire’s creator, the tower itself crumbles into the marsh, taking the party with it. When the adventurers finally manage to dig themselves out of the rubble, they find themselves, and their new companion Brian the cat, irrevokably lost in the lower swamp as the sun comes up and the ruble ofthe Spire returns to it’s ghostly fom and fades away.

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Host of the Year
The party find the Twilight Spire, and it's twisted occupant.

The party exits Jiles’ observatory, but find that Radan and his caravan have fled, apparently in the middle of battle. the heroes are confronted by cultists of Vecna, the evil god of the undead, who demand the key, the map and Elbrecht’s journal. Naturally, they decline, and begin to slaughter the cultists before Radan returns, with several more cultists following him and the caravan.

The party jump aboard and race off, but find themselves being chased by outriders, and dealing with an incapacitated Driver. In a high speed chase, the party fend off the cultist attack from the top of the caravans while Kallis steers the wagons. Jonn discovers that his sword has an opinion of its own and wants his dead, which suits Jonn just fine, and Razvahn captures the last remaining cultist for interrogation. Razvahn discovers that the cult is also trying to stop Elbrecht, as he is attempting to recreate the ritual that made Vecna a god, a secret they believe belongs with Vecna.

The remaining trip being uneventful, other than the discovery of Jiles’ cat stowed away onboard, the caravan reaches the location of the Spire by nightfall, where the ghostly tower materializes. Deciphering the key and the puzzle involved in unlocking the door, the party ventures inside where they are greeted by the voice of Ymrius, host of the Spire. Ymrius beckons them up to meet him, and after Kallis combing the area for traps, they travel up the spiralling ramp.

On the second floor of the Spire they find Ymrius’ horrific manufactory of animated skeletons, busy flaying corpses and using necromantic magic to create more skeletons. The heroes ambush the skeletons and destroy them after a lengthy fight. the group only manages a short time to rest before Ymrius’ servant construct the Cadaver Collector returns with fresh corpses for the manufactory. After a difficult fight with the construct, it ended with Kallis reaching into the collector’s chest and tearing out its magical core. Ymrius again berates the heroes, and opens a gateway to the second half of the tower, so that he might meet them personally…

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Into the Wilds
The party take a trip into the memories of an elite Fey Company, Bel'Estior's family history, and predetermined death.

Emerging with the key in hand, the party find Jiles and his groundskeeper, Kallis Moonshae waiting for them. Returning to the observatory with the key in hand, the party have no idea what to do with it now that they have it. Neither does Jiles. While he examines the orb, he has prepared a ritual that will show Bel’Estior his father’s last moments, and reveal his family heritage.

The party, along with Kallis, complete the ritual and find themselves in the bodies of Eladrin soldiers, in the court of Mithrendain, the Autumn City. Knowing from history that Mithrendain is destined to fall, the party don’t feel so good about the scenario. The group are greeted by Traelling Whitebough, a politician and close friend of Bel’Estior’s father, who tells them of the tense climate in the city and an ongoing conflict with encroaching Drow. Traelling sets them on a task to deactivate the magical barriers in the city in order to be able to attack the Drow forces reportedly attempting to sneak into the city.

The party convince the guardians of the barrier stones to take a break, and go to work deactivating the barier. Having done so, the adventurers travel to the borders of the city to confront the Drow forces. Not expecting the barrier to be down, the party launches a surprise attack and devastates the Drow forces, however not before they can open a gateway to the Drow city, and a single female Drow steps through.

The emissary begins to brutally attack the fey soldiers, and although the fight was long and and occasionally the party seemed to have the upper hand, one by one they fell, until only Razvahn stood. At which point Traelling steps forward to greet the Drow, and betray the party. He leads the Drow forces into the city as the fey company dies.

Snapped back to reality in the observatory, they find Jiles has been killed by an eruption of energy from the key he was studying, which has projected star charts against the walls. The party bury Jiles, study the charts, and rest, preparing to finish what Jiles had started, and find the Spire…

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Splitting the Party
The party discover Austis's adventuring past, and galivant off to find his comrade.

After a few weeks of rest, and assisting Moorhaven to restabilize after the plague, Austis Farharrow visits the party with the findings from Elbrechts’ quarters. the group are given a journal containing nonsensical ramblings, a sparse passages concerning Mystra and Cyric, and the names of the adventurers themselves, dated years ago. Along with this they find lists of alchemical and arcane ingredients.

After quizzing Austis, the party learn of his past as an adventurer, and his failed search for the Twilight Spire, supposedly hidden in the marsh. As the Shard of Thuban, fabled to be in the Spire, is one of the items on the list, Austis requests you seek out his former companion Jiles, as he suspects he may still be seeking the Spire, and thus be in danger from Elbrecht. Austis has organized transport with the dwarven merchant, Radan the Bear, and his caravan.

Upon reaching Jiles Observatory, far into the swamp, the party is confronted with horrors from the Far Realm, and discover that the mad astronomer has opened a rift between realities that they attempt to close. The party face nightmares, illusions, and psionic attacks before managing to seal the breach.

At the parties request, Jiles further explains the story of the ghostly Twilight Spire and the necromancer, Ymrius Barvalt, and points the group in the direction of the key to the tower hidden in the Barvalt family crypt.

Transporting the party outside the delapidated mausoleum, they cautiously venture in to find empty caskets and graves, and are harrassed by the spirits belonging to the missing bodies. Once fought off and put to rest by Razvahn, the party searched the crypt for signs of the key, finding and dispelling an illusory wall, they come face to face with the skeletal guardian of the crypt, and shadow constructs of some of the fiercest monsters in existence. With determination and a lot of blood, and some casualties, the adventurers manage to destroy the guardian and claim the spherical black key…

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In the House of Gruumsh.
The party ventures into the sunken temple of Gruumsh, god of bad things.

The party enter an enourmous underground cavern, into which have fallen the ruins of the temple of Gruumsh. Entering the decrepit ruins, the party are stopped by four large orcish statues, designed to bar the way against intruders. As the party are quizzed by the statues, Razvahn and Bel’Estior each gruesomly lose their left eye, and Bel’Estior has the mark of Gruumsh burnt into his chest, branded as an enemy of Gruumsh. When the statues return to their podiums, the party discovers that it was a defensive illusion, but although their eyes remain intact, Bel’Estior’s brand is very real.

Venturing further into the temple, the party find that part of the temple has been converted into a bizarre laboratory, occupied by strange scientists in black robes and long crow masks, who are experimenting with the plague on verious live subjects. The party quickly destroy the laboratory and the doctors, and Razvahn performs the rites of the Raven Queen for the test subjects as the group dispose of them.

Traversing the ruins following the sound of running water, the group find a massive island suspended above the ruins by chains, after Tarja stands back and lets the others hurt themselves deciphering the mechanism, she steps in and activates the mechanism, slowly lowering the suspended island to the edge of the broken platform.

On the platform, the party are confronted by Raja Brokentooth, the last remaining orc shaman of the Brokentooth clan that had built the temple, and Elbrecht, the young cleric they had been tasked with finding. Elbrecht, however, seemingly horrified and infuriated by the party’s intrusion, sets the grizzled orc on them and promptly vanishes into thin air.

After a tense high altitude fight with Raja and his Golem, the party send them plummetting into the underground lake below, and with the shamans death, the magical plague is lifted from the wellspring.

Once back in Moorhaven, Austis suggests they recuperate at the Last Stand Inn, while the clergy sift through Elbrecht’s quarters for any insights into the recent events.

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Into the Grotto.
The party delves into the cave that supposedly connects to Moorhaven's plagued water supply.

The party descend into the damp grotto, and discover Korks’ abandoned home and a burnt body in blue and white, Mystran barding, that had been rigged with a trap. Bel’estior takes the initiative, and sets of the trap, defeaning the party and announcing their presence to anything else in the cave.

The group reach a ramp, and overhear the mad chattering of Kobolds at the top, the Kobolds, equally frightened and sick as those outside, quickly attack, and during combat the party discovers that even contact with the pools of water in the cave are enough to cause infection, as Tarja contracts the plague, but manages to hide it from her companions. they also discover a rusted ritual dagger, who Jonn recognizes as belonging to a follower of the evil god Gruumsh, and recalls that a temple to gruumsh, that had been built by orc clans and had sunk into the swamp centuries ago, where Moorhaven had recently been built.

As they travel deeper, the party discover a hollow full of enthralled spiders, strapped to tubes and strange equipment, apparently being used to incubate the plague. After narrowly surviving the encounter with the giant spiders, the party destroys the equipment and kill the spiders being ‘milked’.

The party find themselves stuck on one side of a wide underground river of the plagued water, but Jonn, Razvahn and Bel’estior manage to leap across the narrow, slippery rocks, and throw a rope back for Tarja, who was having none of it. On the other side, the adventurers round another narrow passage to find a handful of Kobolds barracaded in a corner, beset by shambling undead villagers and Kobolds alike, and players deduce that this state is the final goal of the Moorhaven plague. The Kobolds assist the party in fending off the corpses, before scurring away to safety.

The players search the empty cavern and at the cost of Razvahn’s religious code, discover a newly made entrance to the old, sunken temple of Gruumsh one eye…

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Introductions.
the adventurers meet on the road, and band together to help the plagued town, Moorhaven.

The port city of Halagard is regarded derisively by many as ‘the crossroads’, as very few people would choose to settle here, and instead find themselves passing through. Perhaps as a traveller or refugee whose ship is on its way elsewhere, or as a merchant, who has decided to find safer towns to sell their wares. Halagard can be a dangerous city, and the saying goes that no one finds themselves at the Crossroads without wanting to end up somewhere else.

The adventurers find themselves, as everyone else, on their way elsewhere, and have banded together on the road out of neccessity. Each uncomfortable sharing their reasons for travelling. Except Tarja. Who wants a sword.

Encountering refugees travelling the opposite way, the part discovers that the small frontier town of Moorhaven, situated on the border of the Akhkaur swamp, has been beset by a strange disease. The party reach the outskirts of town to find the town devastated by a plague that is quickly killing the inhabitants, and seems particularly set on the Mystran clergy who are quarantined inside the church. After a slight misunderstanding with the local irregulars, players meet Austis Farharrow who explains the waterborne, magical nature of the plague. he asks them to seek out the Oswins, a couple who live outside the town’s border, and may know how to find the entrance to the spring that is the source of the town’s water supply. Austis also requests they locate Elbrecht, a younger cleric who has gone missing but who often spends time outside the town walls.

Not far into the swamp, the party are beset by a poor ambush attempt by some displaced and panicked Kobolds who are rummaging through an abandoned campsite. Some of the Kobolds display outward signs of infection. Tarja’s attempts to diffuse the situation don’t go as planned, ending in the routing of the Kobold pack and the capture of a frightened, mute Kobold, who signs his confusion frantically.

Unable to extract information, and finding little of value in the campsite, the party travels further in the direction of the Oswin Cabin. Upon reaching the cabin, they find the Oswins murdered and squatting in the house is a large Orc who announces himself as Kork the Landlord. The party discovers that Kork had been living in an underground grotto nearby, the entrance to the spring, before being ousted by frightened Kobolds. Tarja convinces Kork to lead them there, but not before Kork is sure the adventurers can beat the Kobolds. after a quick skirmish, a bloodied Kork concedes, and leads them to the entrance of the grotto…

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