This game involved the merging of two teams of players.
Assassin and a Monestary
It had been a few years since out encounter with the drow on the way to Gauntlgrym. In fact, most of our heroes were semi-retired. But when other powerful heroes of the land started turning up dead from assassination, it made it clear that retirement would have to wait. After collecting the details from these deaths and some communications back and forth amongst each other, it appeared the best place to start was the Library of the Dawning Sun, a monastery that had taken in Valin as a youth.
The monastery was located far to the south along the Sword Coast, in the Velen peninsula, about midway between the city of Velen and Murann – both port cities that move most of their cargo by sea. While technically in the human realm of Wealdath’s Noromath duchy, the vast majority of this realm was the large wild Tethir forest with many fey inhabitants (elves, goblins, centaurs, satyrs, hobgoblins, and dragons) who cared little for such human distinctions.
As a result, there was little travel by land and roads were little more than seldom used hunting trails. This isolation made for a near perfect setting for the monks, who were self-sufficient and seldom visited by outsiders. There was nary a pirate that would venture this far inland for wood or supplies, but a few of their order may have been pirates seeking escape from their seafaring life and bounties on their heads.
The schedule was set and travel plans arranged. Each Goblin Stomper set off for the library, some meeting along the way and others arriving at the library itself. With a dangerous assassin on the loose, opinions varied on whether it was safer to travel together or separately.
Upon arriving at the monastery, they noticed there was no one about and the doors were ajar. Moving into the main building, they found all the monks brutally slain. It seems someone beat them to the punch on this one, only these were good guys!
Their research had turned up rumors of a “Sword of True Death” and books at this monastery’s library were to offer some insight into this weapon…one they believed might be used by the assassin.
Knowing the local government weak at best, they decided not to bother notifying any “authorities” as it would likely be pointless. Instead, they would find the culprits and apply some justice, Stomper-style. They searched the library for clues to who killed the monks and for the books about the Sword of True Death.
It took quite some time for the normally impatient team, but they eventually turned up the books they needed. From what they could discern, the sword was buried in a lich’s tomb, not too far from here. Burying the dead monks, they pursued their sole clue.
The Lich Tomb Entrance
It led them to ravine that ended in a cavern with stalagmites and the recently dead body of Brother Nicholas. Further into the cavern were piles and piles of long dead adventurers, something like the picture below…only without the guy standing in the middle.
Not being the particularly intelligent sorts, the Goblin Stompers headed in with weapons drawn. Some were injured on the supernaturally sharp stalagmites. Hmm…all this armor and a stinking rock cuts them…Klang think’s he’ll need to have a chat with the supplier of this gear as it appears defective.
After traversing the mounds of dead bodies, they came to the door below. Paelius was the first to reach the door and he decided to give it a try. After being knocked on his ass, the others took note and decided that wasn’t a good idea…particularly when they noticed he looked a lot older/weaker all of a sudden.
Not to be blocked by a simple door, Paelius set to work to discern the glyphs on the door. He eventually was able to deactivate them and made it clear to the others that the doors were no longer magically enchanted by grabbing and pulling without being zapped.
Orik grabbed a hold of the doors and pulled with his insanely strong arms, literally ripping the doors from their hinges. Interestingly, there was only a solid wall of stone behind the doors. Once gain, defeated by intellect.
Raven and Valin set to work looking for any other traps, hidden doors, or other clues as to what is so damn interesting in this cavern that they had to kill so many. The found recent tracks that led up to, and seemingly through the wall. Finding no traps, Raven set to work on finding the obviously secret door that must be there. It took some time, but they got it open and passed through.
The hallway beyond ran some 50 feet ending in a door. The door was propped open by a rod or bar, it was hard to tell from a distance. So the approached carefully, noting the recent tracks not veering off to one side or another. Then they noticed those tracks encountering some recently triggered traps with fresh blood strewn about, but no bodies. So whoever came this way wasn’t overly bright or sneaky.
It was about then that they heard the sounds of battle from beyond the door that was indeed propped open with some sort of magical rod. Hmm…we may want to retrieve that rod later, but for now it appeared to serve a purpose that was inline with the Goblin Stomper’s desired direction.
An Unexpected Meeting
Passing through the propped open door, they came upon the Reavers, an adventuring group not unlike the Goblin Stompers. The Reavers had (allegedly) an unsavory past that sometimes surfaced in bard ballads along the Sword Coast – something about having stormed a keep and were known to associate with pirates. What they might be doing here was a bit more mysterious.
The Reavers consisted of two paladins – Tavian and Levi (which most were certain was a nickname) – and the life cleric Quinn (who worships the Raven Queen…did someone say irony?). Tavian had a mostly naked “friend” named Torina who turned out to be a dragon in human form.
Since no one had leapt to kill each other yet, perhaps something could be arranged that was mutually beneficial. After the usual introductions, it was clear the Reapers had first dibs on the place, but seemed to need all the help they could get. The traps back in the hallway had taken their toll on them (softened them up?) and both teams wanted to get to the bottom of this unusual dungeon.
When questioned about their murky past, the Reavers noted the keep was now free of bandits and the pirate was “no where to be seen” (which could mean a lot of things), casting a little light on their perhaps not so unsavory past. They also claimed they had everything under control and would “allow” the Goblin Stompers to tag along, suggesting more hubris than the situation warranted.
Some of the Goblin Stompers were concerned they may have killed the monks, but in eying up their weapons, they didn’t quite match up with the monks’ wounds. And they didn’t seem to be evil paladins, so it just didn’t add up. So they got over it and decided to work together.
There was a riddle on the wall and the Reavers were in possession of a shard that was perhaps a piece of this true death sword. The room itself was a cathedral with hundreds of doors all along the walls. Each door had a prophet in front of it. All the doors and prophets looked the same. And while they were doing their meet and greet, the prophets had gradually started chanting the same chant.
Quinn explained that they had tried a few doors, but each led them back to this room. An illusion of an hour glass hung up above and started counting down time each time they entered this cathedral. It had just restarted again.
Valin opened a door and looked beyond, but there was only darkness. Tavian explained that the doors were all magical and that they had tried taking different doors – always as a team through the same door. As the pondered this, Klang suggested they all go through separate doors at the same time.
By this time, the prophets’ chant had become really annoying, the illusion hour glass was running low on time, and they were all eager to get out of the room. So they gave Klang’s idea a try and it worked. The all landed in a different room, or rather a hallway. The Reavers seemed semi-impressed by Klang’s guesswork, mistaking raw luck as wisdom.
Raven set to work searching for traps as the place seemed to be one of those kind of dungeons. As she searched, they heard chanting again, coming from down from the only adjoining hallway. When they looked down this adjoining hallway, they saw what looked like a statue at the distant end that looked a little menacing…like the picture below.
What’s That Smell?
Valin started down the hallway and noticed slightly elevated cobble stones – an obvious trap. Klang tossed him a piton and he wedged a piton to prevent the stones from sinking. Stepping onto the now disabled trap, Valin made his way to it’s edge and was about to take another step when Klang suggested he and Raven check for more traps, noting some easily found traps are just decoys for the real trap.
Sure enough, a pit trap with some nasty spikes were immediately past the obvious trap. And just past the pit trap was a hallway to the right from which the chanting was emanating. The main hallway of traps continued down to the statue, which was still unmoving. Making their way along the small ledge to one side of the pit trap, Valin and Raven both made it just inside the new hallway.
It was about then that they noticed perfume-like smell and that the walls and floor were damp with small puddles of liquid on the floor. Bending down to examine the liquid, Valin confirmed it was the source of the smell. Orik and Tavian attempted to make it to the side hallway to join Valin and Raven. Tavian lost his footing and Orik was able to grab him and pull him back from falling.
Quinn had moved to follow Orik and Tavian, but then the statue at the end of the hall started moving with a grating noise as it turned slightly so that the blade it was holding now dragged along the wall, throwing off sparks. After only a moment or two, the whole hallway had become a flaming inferno as the liquid stretching most the length of the hall ignited. Quinn fell back and Valin attempted to leap back to the safety of the initial hallway.
Valin landed heavily on the easily found trap, jarring loose the piton and setting off the final trap – a boulder – which clobbered Klang and Levi who had held back along with returning Quinn. Meanwhile, at the far end of the hallway, Raven had moved behind the statue.
Recovering from the boulder trap, Tavian sent his dragon Torina down the hallway using her cold breath and putting out the flames. With the all the traps having been triggered, healing was administered by clerics and then they all maneuvered their way past the pit trap to the side hall in search of the continued chanting.
A door was at the end of the short hallway, so they got into an order that seemed best for a frontal assault with large fighters – Orik and Levi – in the front. As they readied themselves, a few recognized the chant. It was the Litany of Justice, only the words were all wrong, perverted. They definitely seemed to have found the den of evil. Paelius checked for magic and got a reading that was nearly off the scales, confirming this was going to be a serious confrontation.
Busting into the room, the heroes were confronted with a terrifying scene of 9 undead “paladin” wights being led in their vile chant by a lich. The lich was the furthest away behind a large black alter. Levi and Orik made a bee-line for the lich, managing to dodge all the wights. Levi went around one side of the alter while Orik just vaulted over it. A black aura covered Orik’s arm that touched the altar, but didn’t seem to adversely affect him and dissipated as quickly as it appeared.
They both made their attacks, but the lich was still standing. After a few spells were cast, it became clear that something was very wrong. It seemed the alter was inverting the spells where spells intended to harm would heal. While the spell casters were sorting this out, Levi was nearly killed by the lich and wights. Only Orik’s insanely aggressive tactics kept the lich from finishing Levi.
Valin and Raven were keeping the wights busy with their bows. Paelius, Quinn and Klang eventually figured out they needed to destroy that altar. Quinn and Klang channeled all their combined divine power into the altar and managed to destroy it just time to kill the lich and rescue Levi and Orik from certain doom.
The DM decided to give each monster it’s own initiative, which slowed things down a bit with such a large group. But we persevered and finished before it got too late, earning 8500 experience each.
They managed to find another shard to the sword of true death and some plate mail +2 (assigned to Levi). After some that somewhat dangerous encounter, they discussed the implications of a lich’s hand in this menace to heroes across the land. As best as they could reason, they collectively reasoned that the “Elder Eye” is behind the assassinations.
In closely examining the shards shapes and sizes, they reckoned there were probably 5 shards in total. So they had a ways to go to before they’d have all the shards.
I’m not sure how our characters figured this Elder Eye business out, but there wasn’t much time to sort that out.