Ninthmonth 26, 2101
As the snow continues to fall heavily outside, the PCs enjoy the warm hospitality of the Smoky Timbers Inn.
Studying the Tome
Note—This part of the session, I was completely unprepared for. Next session, I’ll be ready to go into more detail about the book and the ritual it contains.
When the humans of Bael Turath damned themselves with Asmodeus’s bargains, only the heads of the noble-houses bound their families to hell. Each noble-house bound itself to a single powerful devil chosen by Asmodeus from amongst his most loyal vassals. With once exception, Levistus, an arch-devil rival of the King of Hell, secretly had his name added to the infernal roster.
The arch-devil in the guise of a lesser devil entered into the pact with Zieram’s ancestors. He taught them many secrets that increased their power and influence with the Empire of Bael Turath. Among those secrets were rituals and rites that could be used to break Asmodeus’s bargain with the tiefling people.
The King of Hell is no fool and soon learned of the plot (if he did not know from the beginning), He imprisoned Levistus and systematically hunted down the heirs of the house. Zieram may very well be the last surviving member of this lineage.
The contents of the book have been penned by many hands and is magically warded to conceal its true contents from those who are not of the proper lineage. Only when the book drinks the blood of one of this lineage does it reveal its secrets. The book is the culmination of centuries of research and experimentation on a ritual that will free Levistus from his prison within hell and force him to honor his pact with the scions of House Kyrandanul.
Gnomeo and the Innkeeper’s Wife
Note—I seriously considered redacting this section to protect the innocent. Unfortunately, there weren’t any innocent people involved, so here it is.
While Zieram and Snark study and Tolko carves on his circle’s symbol. Nim seeks companionship with the Inns staff. Specifically his eyes fall upon the Innkeeper’s wife. Iskassa Tulof is no spring beauty, but neither is she homely. Nim looks at her and apparently thinks that she is just right and probably very grateful for all that they have done for them.
Nim starts hitting on Iskassa. He chats her up and invites her back to his room. She respectfully declines and tells him that she has duties to attend to downstairs. She turns quickly to leave. Nim follows her down the stairs still trying to make small talk with her. The woman gives Nim a concerned look, which to most would be read “you are really starting to creep me out”. Nim decides to press on.
In the tap room Nim convinces Iskassa to share a bottle of wine with him. Iskassa reluctantly agrees. They drink the entire bottle and talk about their past and families. “The kind of stuff that chicks dig talking about”, thinks Nim. Having plied her with wine, Nim invites her again to his room. She turns him down. Disheartened, Nim heads upstairs to his room.
In the wee hours of the morning there is a timid knock at Nim’s door. He opens the door to find Iskassa in the hall. She asks if she can come in, and Nim happily lets her in and closes the door behind her. “I thought a lot about your invitation…”, but before she can finish her sentence, Nim launches himself at her, “jumping her like a wild weasel”. Before Nim can tackle her onto the bed, Iskassa stiff arms him with a palm to his forehead. “Not like that Luv, I want to be romanced”. Nim stops his flailing attempts to reach her, and motions for her to be seated
Nim decides he will try a little pampering. “You know, rub her feet suck her toes. Chicks love that kind of stuff”. Nim lifts up the hem of her night gown and discovers that she has legs hairier than any yetis. Her toes are gnarled with bunions and arthritis, and tipped with cracked and yellowing toe nails. He vomits a little bit in his mouth.
Nim shifts to plan B and starts making out with her. Things are going pretty well until he realizes that she is caressing his face with a long red tail that she did not have when she entered his room. He looks at the tail with shock, and then looks back at Iskassa’s face which is now sporting a pair of devilish horns. “She’s a tiefling? Does the Innkeeper know?”. With that Zieram removes his Hat of Disguise, and Nim realizes that he has been the butt of a practical joke.
Nim forces Zieram out of his room accompanied by threats of gnomish retribution.
Ninthmonth 27, 2101
The Heavy snow fall that began the previous day continues again today.
Reported on the Pass to Medrash
Zieram and Tolko assess the state of the pass and determine that the pass will likely be open for only another week if the heavy snows persist. Zieram performs the Sending ritual and passes this information on to Medrash.
Where three roads meet
The PCs descend out of the Wyrmsmoke mountains following the Dwarfroad until it ends at a crossroads. The road to the north is known as the Old Northroad and the road to the south is the Dawnway. Reviewing their maps of the vale they determine that South Glade lies to the Southeast. There are a couple of routes that they travel to get there. They can follow the less traveled tracks south and around the western end of the Wyvernwatch Mountains passing by Ravenloft, or they can follow the Dawn Way east to Brindol and then travel the lesser roads south through the pass city of Highwall. Regardless of which path they choose, they must still cross the Elsir River and the best place for that is at Drellin’s Ferry.
With the light of day fading, they make camp for the nigh.
The heavy snow continues for a third straight day.
Skull Gorge Bridge
The PCs arrive at the ancient dwarf-built bridge over Skull Gorge. The bridge has not been manned by guards nor repaired since the fall of the Duchy of Rhestilor. The party approaches it carefully and find evidence that it was until very recently manned by a band of orcs, ogres and presumably giants.
They also find evidence that a battle took place here recently. They find the corpses of dead orcs and an ogre. All of which were killed in a manner that suggests Lazonya was responsible. Further investigation reveals that Lazonya’s obsidian steed was taken down as she rushed across the bridge. Forced to flee on foot Lazonya apparently headed towards the cover of the jagged foothills to the west. There was evidence of giants, ogres and orcs in pursuit.
AS the PCs try to follow her trail they discover that she led her pursuers on a merry chase. Using hastily crafted traps, snares and hit and run tactics, she took them down one by one.
Eventually the party comes to a clearing with in a copse of trees. Here they find the remains of of Lazonya’s last kill. They also find fresh giant tracks leading south out of the clearing.
The Battle at Old Vraath Keep
The party following the trail from the clearing discover that it leads to an old ruined keep. Snark sneaks into the keep and learns that it is being garrisoned by a band of 3 ogres, 8 orcs and a pair of hill giants. Snark brings this info back to the rest of the party and they decide to use the snow as cover to sneak in and try to take out the hill giants first. Starting with what apears to be a hill giant shaman.
Snark sneaks back the the shaman’s room and hides. He is followed soon afterward by Nim who hides under the bed. Zieram uses his hat of disguise to make himself look like one of the orcs walks through the shattered front gates. He trys to bluff his way past the giant by pointing towards the door to the room used as the castle’s toilet. The giant, who is in the middle of communing with his god, is annoyed at being disturbed and warns Zieram to go away. Unfortunately Zieram doesn’t speak giant so he tries again. This time the giant gets up, gives Zieram a hard shove knocking him back 10 feet and sprawling. He then slams the door.
The giant swipes his foot through the circle pattern he had drawn on the floor and goes to sit on the bed. This pins Nim beneath the shaman’s massive buttocks which force the matress to sag to nearly the floor.
Tolko unaware that the plan has gone slightly awry, arrives and the shaman spots him. Before he can raise a cry however, Snark flies across the room and smacks the giant in the center of the forehead and knocking him unconscious. It falls back onto the bed, further pinning Nim beneath its bulk. Snark wastes no time and leaps upon the giant stabbing maddly him in a panic fueled frenzy. The end result is one dead giant, and all without him being able to raise the alarm.
They search the room and discover a hidden cache of treasure: 1800gp and a Ring of Feather Fall. Snark takes the ring.
After a quick rest they decide to try to surprise the giant on watch on the battlements of the tower above them. Nim and Snark sneak up to the tower. Nim attacks the giant with a spell that flings the giant 15 feet and off the tower. As the giant falls she lets out a blood curdling yell that alerts the rest of the camp. While injured by the fall, the giant isn’t yet dead. Snark jumps over the edge and executes a falling charge on the prone giant. He dispatches her quickly. Two giants dead and not a scratch on the party, but now the rest of the keep’s defenders are alerted to trouble and come out to fight.
Nim, Tolko & Zieram decide to fortify the building the at the base of the tower and limit the number of enemies that can get at them at once. Snark makes his way from where the giantess fell (which was outside the keep’s walls) back to where his friends are.
The ogres and orcs rush the building, and Nim summons a wall of fire. The wall fills up the central chamber of the building dividing it in two. Nim and Zieram retreat into the base of the tower, while Tolko puts himself on the opposite side of the fire wall try to lock the enemy next to the damaging heat of fire. Snark discovers that keep’s walls are too icy for him to climb and that enemies are between him and his only way inside.
Nim decides to switch out his walls, and replaces the fire wall with one of illusions. This gives Zieram a better chance to fling spells at the monsters. The ogres and orcs find the wall completely thwarting. Nims mastery of illusions is so great that despite repeated attempts to test the wall for weaknesses, they completely believe it is real. Instead, where possible they attack over the top of the wall which in most places is only 5 feet tall.
Snark tries his luck and attacks one of the orcs barring his way into the keep. He darts in attacks and then dashes around a corner to hide. The orc pursues and with the aid of the newly fallen snow figures out where Snark is hiding. Realizing he is in trouble of getting skewered by angry orcs flees towards the front of the keep. He leaves little yellow trail as he goes, which makes it easy to follow him.
Eventually the party’s superior defensive position gives them the edge and they whittle down their attackers. Until finally there is a single ogre and a pair of orcs, who attempt to flee. They let the orcs go, but capture the ogre. They question him about Lazonya and learn that he has not seen her. Not wanting to let him go to threaten other travelers, they execute him.
Further searching reveals that the giantess had an uncut emrald necklace worth 1500gp. They also discover that the symbol in the shamon’s cirlcle was the symbol for Pyranoth, a primordial entity dating back to the Age of Chains. This is the same entity that Durkik asked Zieram to investigate.
With the day drawing to a close, the party settles down to rest in keep’s ruins.