Lost Mine of Phandelver

Session 34

A Jaunt into Limbo

Miltiades’s Mausoleum
Having survived undead ambush at the Fountain of the Crying Angels, our heroes realized that Raven was missing. Not dead, not hacked to death, just gone. Damn Harpers and their intelligence missions!

They gathered their wits and looked at the map with the clerics of Kelemvor. Deciding on the direction and taking the loot from the bench, they set off for Miltiades’s tomb. What they found was darkness. Lots and lots of darkness. Their light sources dimmed as they approached and they were barely able to make out a large mausoleum only 30 feet ahead.

Orik made his usual observation, “Magic!” Lazarus could make out the faint sound of worship. All Rolen could sense was loot. Lots and lots of loot!

They closed in to find large columns, each depicting an armored skeletal warrior with kite shields displaying the holy symbol of Tyr. Not statues, just depictions on columns. No worries!

Into the mausoleum they went. Surprisingly, the door was not locked. Inside was a room full of clutter – nicknacks, trophies, and memorabilia. A large painting was mounted over the only other doors in the room, which were on the far wall. A set of armored skeletal knights (holding kite shields) were positioned before those doors.

Rolen checked around for traps, wanting to steal the painting. At this point with the dim light illuminating more of the room, he noticed the ceiling is also highly decorated and pointed it out to the team. The rest of the party was feeling the sense of urgency and had no patience for Rolen’s nonsense, and headed through the doors. Who knows what this magical darkness is doing to us? It certainly isn’t a good thing.

As they passed between the skeletal knights, one reached out towards the first three in line (Valin, Orik and Rolen) and a black cloud of dark energy comes down over the door. Then a burst of darkness from its hand at the same three. They all were harmed from what appeared to be necrotic magic. Valin and Rolen moved forward through the door, which was also open. Orik fell back with Klang and other clerics.

Knowing time was short, the heroes decided to just take their lumps and press on quickly, each pressing through the darkness and taking the necrotic damage. Entering the next room, they first noticed the three wraiths, one of which started heading through the wall rear wall. Valin was the first to react, firing arrows at the escaping wraith. Rolen was next with his sneak attack, dropping one. Caesare cast a spell, Orik attacked, and Lazarus attacked. Klang, bringing up the rear, killed another. The last wraith made a run for it through the wall.

Rolen set to work on the locked door. Once unlocked, he backed away and Caesare opened it with his mage hand spell. Looking through the door way and barely visible through the dim light were few steps down into a shallow depression. Lazarus, swift on his feet, covered the steps down and then back up to encounter a pile of bodies blocking his way. As light filtered in, he could make out a sarcophagus and a man in gray robes surround in mist. The man was chanting with his arms upraised, blood dripping from his wrists onto a shield.

The man turned towards the intruders, launching into his monologue:
You should not have come my friends. You didn’t kill me when I begged you, when I didn’t know how to deal with the curse, but now I know my purpose. This is the only way we can save Phlan. Kelemvor may have failed to save Phlan, but the voices in the mist will not. They will save you all.

<metagame>
The DM notes that our pokey, meandering trip to get here and stop this guy means the monsters are stronger. Joy.
</metagame>

At first staring at this jabbering fool, Lazarus noticed out of the corner of his eye the pile of bodies started moving. Rolen and Valin moved into bow range while Caesare got into a good angle for spell casting. It was about then that the banshee scream rang out, immediately dropping Valin and Rolen.

Caesare drove a bolt of chain lightning into several of the creatures in the room, killing the banshee and two wraiths. The man, now vampire, leaped over the bodies and attacked Lazarus…what a foolish vampire. Orik dashed into the room and grappled the occupied vampire, searching for him for a stake with which to kill him (don’t all monsters carry the weapon that can defeat them?).

Klang cast healing on his fallen friends.

With the vampire effectively held, the three Kelemvor clerics launched into action. One cleric case sacred flame…at Lazarus?!!! Another cleric stabbed the vampire with a stake, calling out to the Lord of the Crystal Spire, killing the vampire. As the vampire began to dissolve into ash, he whispered, “forgive me” as glowing flames burned away the mists. The last cleric made a break back the way they had come, closing the door behind him.

Never one to hesitate, Valin fired a series of arrows into the cleric that attacked Lazarus, killing him with brutal efficiency.

Rolen, now suspicious of these clerics, dashed after the fleeing cleric. Finding him wrenching the large painting down from above the door (i.e. stealing what Rolen had already claimed, how dare he), Rolen lashed out, greed driving his weapon deep into the cleric’s chest as the cleric screamed, “It must be destroyed!”

Not wanting the Kelemvor order completely pissed off at the Goblin Stompers and not fully knowing what happened in the other room, Caesare cast hold person on Rolen and Valin, full of chaotic rage at the senseless killing, lined the still figure of Rolen with arrows.

Lazarus, keen on what the vampire may have left behind, brushed away the vampire ashes to find some rings, bone fragments, and a diamond necklace (worth 2000 gold). Lene nodded that they could be taken.

Suddenly, the shroud of magic darkness lifted. Klang, seeing the carnage, did a quick sanity check with the others on who should be healed. The consensus was to save the cleric who ran and to stop Rolen from dying. Lene, the cleric still clutching the stake in her hands, seemed indifferent to her fellow Kelemvor clerics’ lives. Klang mumbled, “Damn death worshipers.”

Orik questioned the recovering cleric, Cadeyrn, who ran and was pilfering the painting. He explained that the painting would adversely affect the election in Phlan (meaning it would ruin his preferred candidate’s chances of winning). After examining the painting more closely in the better light, the team noticed there was heredity evidence in the painting that could be what the Lord Sage was looking for.

Peeling the painting out of the frame, they rolled it up for easier and safer transport. Binding Caderyn’s hands and gagging him, they left the mausoleum and headed for the necropolis’ exit. The return trip to the city of Phlan was pleasantly uneventful.

Back at the Library
With the Goblin Stompers returning in less than a day, the Lord Sage’s face seemed surprised and questioning. Handing over the painting, the Lord Sage was quickly able to discern it was exactly the type of evidence he needed to help Colvin. The Lord Sage commented, “This is exactly what she needs to prove her claims to the Cinnabar throne. Thank you.”

Several of the heroes looked at each other, Colvin is a she? This really is a liberal (or is that progressive?) town. Moving on…

The Lord Sage was also pleased that they had ended the threat of Yovir Glandon, paying the heroes the promised amount (3000 gold for helping the clerics and 2000 gold for the heredity evidence). Not a bad haul, but certainly nothing like the Dragon Horde.

<metagame>
DM awarded 8600 experience to each character.

Caesare, Rolen and Lazarus received the barbarian award.
Caesare, Lazarus, Valin, Klang, Orik and Raven received the exposed award.

Downtime was used. All six receive 1 renown point. Valin and Orick receive 1 additional renown point as it was an Emerald Enclave mission.
</metagame>

Taking in Phlan
Klang spoke with Lene about friendship between their orders (Kelemvor and Marthamoor Duin), learning a bit about each others faith (however distasteful).

Valin spoke with Colvin. She is keen to get the ports going and treaties reinvigorated to get Phlan economically strengthened.

Several quizzed the Lord Sage about the “Godstouched” sickness, considering that it seems the Goblin Stompers have been exposed to it in the water/food. He explained that they are still tracking down exactly where it is coming from, but it is wide spread and randomly strikes those who have been exposed to it.

Then it was time for some down time, relaxing and enjoying the fruits of their labor. Or so they thought. It took some work to avoid all the political hyperbole, but after a week, they managed to find a quieter corner of the city. While taking in some of the local customs and socializing in a market plaza, they witnessed another person spontaneously burst apart as a aberrant fiend emerged!

The children that were playing in the yard fell down. An ox started charging into the plaza, knocking over a cart and a big gantry. (A gantry is a like an elevated walkway or sturdy scaffolding, often used as a crane.) Naturally, the gantry was slowly falling into the plaza square as the workers hustled to get down from the collapsing structure. The gantry would likely kill any caught in its fall. And if that doesn’t do them in, the charging ox certainly would.

Our heroes leaped into action, Lazarus’ unnaturally fast reactions had him first to the ox. But it seems his bout of relaxation put him off his normally disciplined strikes (or was that animal handling?), and was knocked out by the rampaging ox.

Quick thinking Caesare teleported 8 people out of the middle of the plaza over to one side, out of harm’s way. Rolen attacked the fiend and ended up grappled by it.

Orik’s strength and way with animals brought the ox under control. Then he turned and threw a javlin at the fiend. Hearing a moaning from under the overturned cart, he investigates and finds a halfling female pinned under it. Lifting the cart off her, she managed to get clear just as the gantry came crashing down. Fortunately, no one was injured by the gantry’s fall.

Valin launched his attack on the fiend, landing several solid arrow strikes. Klang commanded the fiend to drop Rolen, but before it could let him go, Rolen dealt it a death blow. It was a shock to the towns folk, who having heard many rumors, had not witness such a thing themselves.

Many of the parents were showering Caesare with thanks for saving their children. Then the talk turned to the many rumors the locals had heard of such things. What was clear was that the city had doubled patrols before this incident, seemingly to no avail…as they were just now arriving on the scene.

Valin tried casting restoration on himself in the hopes of ridding himself of this Godstouched sickness, with no obvious effect. Lazarus asked if the sickness seemed to affect supporters of a specific candidate, but according to the Black Fist patrol guards, that wasn’t the case. Learning of their heroic deed in the plaza, the guards requested the Goblin Stompers report back to their leader – Knight Commander Jhessail Greycastle – at the city’s Stojanow Gate.

Escort to the Lord Commander
Glad to accommodate the local Phlan constabulary, the heroes allowed the guards to escort them to the gate. Upon their arrival, the Stojanow Gate was in ruins with it’s mangled doors being hoisted by repair crew using wooden cranes. Leading them into a dungeon area beneath the outer bailey (that’s the courtyard outside the main keep, but still within the castle), the heroes reach an iron-bound door. The lead guard stops and cautions them, “What you’re about to see isn’t pleasant. Keep your questions for the Lord Commander. All will become clear.”

Opening the door, they are led through the tunnel with barred dungeon cells on either side in which a litany of civilians are shackled. They call out to the the heroes, crying for mercy, freedom, and even death. This is not good.

After being hustled past the dungeon cells with guards posted at regular intervals, they reach the commander’s office. Klang, wondering if this was a trap, counted 20 guards total in the dungeon. Entering the office, the Goblin Stompers were greeted by a formidably strong woman with her hair tied up in mess. Assessing the heroes with a single glance, she turned to the lead guard asking, “Another outbreak?”

Receiving a nod from the guard, she turned her attention back to the heroes. She leaned forward with her hands on the desk, arms knotted with muscles, started asking them questions about what happened. By the end of the session, they learned:
- those afflicted experience aberrant mutations, with a spasm the only precursor of the change
- as the mutations progress, they tear the victims apart
- those in the dungeon cells have already suffered from minor mutations and are being held to prevent danger to others (effectively quarantining them to avoid mass panic)
- no cure, even divine efforts have proven ineffective
- she is a paladin of Bane
- she suspects it’s something in the water
- the main well/cistern was cracked in a recent assault on the city, with the polluted river water is leaking into it
- history about a silver pyramid that a sorcerer created to experiment on lizard folk, which polluted the river
- more recently, the Lord Sage learned the river was corrupting the local plants and animals
- sending adventurers to investigate, the Lord Sage learned that Slaadi (extra-planar monsters) had opened a gate to Limbo (where Slaadi are natives), and the adventurers managed to close the gate and the pollution eventually was flushed away
- she suspects the Slaadi are back
- she suggests we talk with the local historian (Ser Agin Lamarck) to learn about the pyramid before going to the pyramid; he was the last to visit the pyramid and knows something about its inhabitants

They were escorted back out of the office and dungeon. They all breathed a little easier once back out in the fresh air. They returned to their quarters, equipped themselves, and headed out to meet this historian.

A Little Travel Through History
The historian informed them of:
- mutant lizard folk inhabit the pyramid now
- they don’t really understand common, but have learned a rudimentary sign language with his help
- the lizard folks are dangerous, but not overly aggressive; he suggests negotiating with them

The sign language is:
thump chest = me / us
rub belly = good
slap forehead = bad
hop and wave hands = go
thumb across neck while hissing = kill
hug self = help

Traveling 50 miles up the river on loaned griffins from Greycastle, the heroes came to the silver pyramid. Black birds flock around it while dark moss covers its edges. Orange waste emits from a pyramid pipe into the river. Very small (drinkable) life forms are seen in the river’s water. There is no obvious way to plug up the pipe.

Valin notices clawed tracks in the muck near the pyramid. Moving closer, they hear the sounds of mechanical clanking. Following the tracks, they find themselves approaching the pump room where dozens of creatures (mutated lizard men) are arguing. They didn’t notice the heroes yet, so Valin interrupted them, asking if he could help.

They grunted out enough common to acknowledge that people like the heroes had helped them before and they would be receptive to assistance. After a lengthy discussion in rudimentary common and sign language, the heroes learned:
- Slaadi emerged from the planar gate and fought off the good men back through the gate.
- Nethrex is the Sladdi leader whom they fear will kill them if they disobey.
- They agree to let the heroes go into the room with the planar gate

Entering the planar chamber, they see the gate is open and through it they see a golden chamber. Powerful magics are holding the gate open. An anti-magic field surrounds the gate and most of the room…probably need a wish to close the gate.

Gate to Limbo
Lazarus and Orik go through the gate. Rolen pushes Klang through the gate. Caesare pulls out a tuning fork and uses it to establish an anchor for a plane shift spell. Then Valin and Caesare go through the gate. The stepped into space and floated around for a bit until a Githzerai in a long gray cloak approached them.

The Githzerai explained there’s no gravity in Limbo. You have to think where you want to go. Using very precise wording, he explained they were not safe here. Rolen noticed the electrum bits in his beard. Escorting them to a safer location, he continued explaining that his clan lives here and tried to close the gate. Their leader Najwa, who can create raw matter from the chaos of Limbo and reshape it with her mind, raised a citadel around the gate and sent warriors through it to kill Nethrex. They failed and were driven back through the gate into Limbo. Najwa was mortally injured by Nethrex and the citadel was adversely affected.

His people know a chant that will restore her health, but it must be done slowly. If rushed, the citadel could implode. However, Nethrex is mustering his troops for the final assault on the citadel and the Githzerai therein. He asks the Goblin Stompers to buy them time so they can heal Najwa, noting that she can also cure the “chaos stain” (Godtouched sickness). That was enough for Valin, who quickly offered to help. The others fell into line with Valin.

The Githzerai finished by explaining that the orange sludge leaking into the material plane of Toril comes from a Slaadi which is an experiment by Nethrex to create a new strain of Sladdi. That’s bad. He provides our heroes with a diagram showing the current Slaadi lifecycle that culminates in wizards becoming death Slaadi.

“Before you go, you should have a lesson in movement.” He concentrates, forming a room around the heroes. Things morphing to his will. “Limbo can bend to your will, if you know how.”

They spent awhile practicing movement and, in Rolen’s caese, forming objects from sheer will. For some, it was just frustrating. The Githzerai noted that some had been infected by the chaos stain have slightly stronger than the others in this will Limbo nonsense. Valin and Orik managed to emit a stench, Klang grew thick hair in places even dwarves shouldn’t, and Caesare only moved at half-speed. Eventually, the heroes were able to create a shield as a reaction.

Finally, the Githzerai provided a map that showed a river of fire between the Slaadi and there current location. He pointed at various landmarks – a wrecked ship with blue lizard creatures, a large taloned hand where the ooze was originating, a tower where the gate resides, and a tower that controls the flow of the fire river.

About then, a green slaad approached them from across the river of fire. It held a staff and demands to speak to the Goblin Stompers. It explains that it was sent by its master and it wants to negotiate the Githzerai’s surrender. It promises safe passage to and from their master’s camp. After some discussion, they agree and are escorted to a golden tower to meet his master, Glyx. Inside the tower were huge gears grinding away as they passed through to meet Glyx, a gray slaad wearing a gem necklace. Nearby are large red slaadi guards, eying them closely.

Camp Visits
As they approached Glyx, he speaks to them telepathically, “I have a proposal”…and goes on to explain that he works for Nethrex, but does not share his desire to conquer the prime material plane. Nethrex is dying, but he lies in his rival’s (General Zhote) camp. If he or Zhote eats Nethrex, they transform into a death slaad…something they both desperately want to do. Glyx promises to call of the attack if the heroes help him eat Nethrex before Zhote does.

He goes on to explain that Nethrex gave them both each other’s control gem, gesturing to his necklace, to prevent treachery. Glyx wants the characters to obtain the control necklace from his rival Zhote. If they betray him, he’ll immediately send his army to attack the Githzerai.

Again, there’s a look of uncertainty running between our heroes. Caesare asks for a moment alone for the heroes to discuss the proposal. Glyx waved them away and their was a buzz of discussion. Caesare says he has some ideas how to turn a profit from this. No one was quite sure why, but they all believed him. So they turned to Glyx and said they accepted the deal. He gave them a silver horn shaped like a screaming child and said to blow it once the necklace control gem has been obtained and he’ll rush in with his armies to retrieve them. Otherwise, the heroes are on their own.

They were then escorted back to the lone Githzerai still keeping watch for the attack on their crumbling citadel that was sure to come. At this point, there was some consternation about who would go and who would not. Valin and Lazarus stayed behind in case things fell through and the citadel needed help.

Receiving the same offer to talk with his master, they were again escorted by a green slaad to the wrecked ship where blue slaadi dug through cargo. Oddly, as they neared the ship’s deck, gravity kicked in. A gray slaad introduces himself as Zhote and says, “We can help each other”.

Nearly the exact same conversation took place, only this time there was not hesitation to accept the deal to steal Glyx’s necklace. Caesare did all the talking as all this backstabbery seemed natural for him. The horn Zhote gave them was different – it was an electrum horn shaped like a flayed horse. But then Caesare explained to Zhote that Glyx offered us the same deal and suggested a better option – if he give us Glyx’s control necklace, we can just command Glyx to give us his necklace.

That got Zhote’s attention. Why of course! Then gave Caesare his necklace so we could go back and command Glyx. Again, they were returned to the Githzerai citadel as promised. Klang kept both horns (at 500 gold each) safely hidden, mostly so Rolen wouldn’t “accidentally” blow or “borrow” them. Caesare kept both control gems.

Then it was off to Glyx’s camp again, only this time they went in force and Caesare commanded Glyx to hand over the necklace, which he was unable to resist. With both control gems in hand, Caesare and the team turned to leave, but were stopped by Nethrex himself. Yikes!

Seems he knew what was going on all along and felt the need to test his minions. They both failed miserably. But now things had gone too far and the Goblin Stompers need to leave or die. The heroes asked what he’s planning to do if they leave. He seemed perplexed that it wasn’t obvious to them, so he explained that he wants to create a new slaadi variety, but it’s taking time to get the mixture just right and needs to experiment on prime material creatures.

In an unusual moment of clarity and outspokenness, Klang stopped the exposition there, commanding the Goblin Stompers, “Kill him!”

Nethrex summoned his guard slaadi, consisting of three green slaadi. He himself reverted to his natural state – a death slaad. The battle ran for a few rounds before the scoundrel tried to escape, but the Gobin Stompers managed to kill him and one of his henchmen before they got out of range. Seems Nethrex sensed the Githzerai coming and new it was time to go. With no coherent leadership, both the slaadi armies just started fleeing into Limbo as the Githzerai marched forth from their citadel.

<metagame>
DM awards Caesare a inspiration point for the clever plan.
8634 experience was awarded to each player.
</metagame>

All is Healed
Najwa had been sufficiently healed and the citadel pieces were coming back together – violently. The Githzerai were chanting a hymn of battle. With the slaadi army collapsing, it was a complete route.

Caesare decided he could use a sanctuary in Limbo, especially now that he had two gray sladdi under his control. So he spent some time and formed a wizards tower there.

The Githzerai would have preferred killing the slaadi, but they decided to grant their benefactors this small thing in addition to curing them of the chaos stain. They also teach one of the heroes with how to perform the rituals to cure the chaos stain. As a result, Caesare ended up with a Tomb of Understanding which he later gave to Klang as he knew if offered himself little benefit.

Finally, they offered to send one of their kind back with the Goblin Stompers to help heal those infected, which the Goblin Stompers gratefully accepted.

Upon returning to Phlan and treating the townsfolk, they were awarded 1000 gold. Oddly, Lord Commander Greycastle renounced her deity (Bane) and pledged her undying loyalty to the people of Phlan and to reform the Black Fists. Seems she was a paladin, who knew?

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