Party consists of:
Dirk: Human Rogue (Arcane Trickster)
Amira: Dragonborn (Brass) Druid (Circle of the Moon)
Twiggs: Halfling Sorceress (Wild-Magic)
Eston: Wood-Elf Ranger (Beast Master)
Shanda : Human Monk (Way of the Four Elements)
Aukon : Goliath Paladin of Tempus (Oath of Vengeance)
Snez: Rock Gnome Wizard (Evocation)
REASSIGNMENT TO THE DESSARIN VALLEY
The characters belong to the Harpers, Order of the Gauntlet, and/or the Emerald Enclave. These organizations are generally allies of each other and often have common goals but different methods. Before the adventure began, Dirk, Twiggs, Shanda and Aukon and their organizations were working together to foil a kidnapping and human trafficking ring in Waterdeep. After completing operations in Waterdeep, other operatives were tasked to disrupt the activities of the criminals in other cities. The characters were reassigned to investigate strange and disturbing reports of unusual weather patterns and geologic activity (and also rampant banditry, kidnapping, and murder) in the Dessarin Valley region. They were ordered to Red Larch and told to report to contacts in that town. They were told that other operatives would be sent to join them after these other operatives had completed their current missions.
Previously the Harpers and the Order of the Gauntlet had sent operatives to Red Larch to investigate, but these operatives had gone missing. The party was told to figure out what happened to the other operatives. While working in Red Larch, a delegation from Mirabar would be making its way through the Dessarin Valley. The delegation was transporting members of the Harpers, Order of the Gauntlet and the Emerald Enclave.
One Harper historian in the delegation was transporting several books (I think around 100) for review in Waterdeep. Most of these texts were of ancient dwarven culture in the area of the Dessarin Valley. One book was written by Grandmaster Lee Jong Lim and detailed esoteric monk techniques that would be of interest to Shanda. The Order of the Gauntlet agents were transporting a fallen warrior for burial at the Knights of Samular HQ (Summit Hall). This fallen warrior had been a friend of Aukon and had bequeathed his dragonbone sword to Aukon. Twiggs was asked by a friend in Waterdeep to locate his sister and convince her to come home. This wayward sister had apparently been seduced to join the Feathergale Knights.
TROUBLE IN RED LARCH
Dirk, Twiggs, Aukon and Shanda were given mounts, a wagon, and provisions. They made their way to Red Larch without incident. In Red Larch they began their investigation. They learned that workers at the local stone quarry refused to work after dark because strange figures in stone masks were observing them from the shadows. They also learned of bandit activity in the area and an increase in wild animal attacks outside of town. The townsfolk previously foraged in the surrounding hills for berries or hunted game, but most were now too scared to leave sight of town. The party also learned of rumors that a plague had started near Lance Rock. Lance Rock is a large rock formation several miles outside of town. Also a young girl from town found an old tomb in the hills and had seen a ghost there. They also asked about the other agents who had gone missing. The Harper agents were a brother-sister team and were red-headed humans. They had been seen in town and all had assumed they had left town early some morning although none had seen them leave. The OotG agent was a lone warrior with black hair and a star-shaped scar below his left eye. He was last seen heading in the direction of Lance Rock.
The party started investigating the stone quarry. They asked the quarry owner/manager (Albaeri Mellikho) about the stone mask figures. She discounted the rumors and said her workers were simply lazy. The manager suggested the party investigate Tickle Rock Cave. Supposedly Tickle Rock Cave housed a treasure hoard hidden by an old bandit gang. In truth the manager was attempting to get rid of the characters and hoped they’d get themselves killed at Tickle Rock Cave.
Albaeri knew about the stone mask figures. The stone mask wearers were actually stone quarry workers. They were tasked with scaring the other workers from coming out at night. She and several other members of the town were in a secret society called “The Believers”. In the past they had uncovered ancient dwarven tunnels under the stone quarry. Within this underground complex they found petrified remains of dwarves. The Believers venerated these dwarves as “Founders”. The Believers found a Vault of Moving Stones in the dwarven complex. The large stones (think Stonehenge) within the complex moved when they were not being observed and the Believers interpreted meaning from the patterns. A member of the Black Earth Cult named Larrakh discovered this group of Believers and also discovered the means by which the stones in the vault moved. In the vault was a magic field that could make objects virtually weightless. The field was activated and deactivated by striking the floor hard. The stones previously moved due to minor tremors that activated the field and allowed for the weightless rocks to move and resettle. Larrakh started moving the stones secretly himself and interpreted the meanings for the Believers. He was working to slowly indoctrinate the Believers into the Black Earth Cult and convinced them that murders were sometimes necessary to eliminate trouble-makers. Of course none of this was known to the characters at the time as they began their investigation.
The party staked out the stone quarry. The stone masked folks appeared and simply watched the party. Dirk snuck around behind the stone mask group and tailed them after they left the quarry. They stashed their stone masks in an old log and headed back into town. As they approached the boarding house where they were staying, one of the group spun around to do a quick check and spotted Dirk. They then scattered in different directions. However Dirk also saw the face of the one that spun around.
The next day the party entered the boarding house where the stone mask group was staying. They found the one that Dirk recognized and upon interrogating him, the party discovered that someone named Larrakh had hired him to watch the stone quarry at night, scare away trespassers, and report anything suspicious. It seemed that the whole incident was simply a labor dispute and a way for the workers to resist working into the night.
FOLLOWING UP LEADS AROUND RED LARCH
Next the party decided to check out the haunted tomb and Tickle Rock Cave. As they were leaving town, a female dragonborn druid named Amira joined them on the road. She had been sent by the Emerald Enclave to help the Harper and Order of Gauntlet agents in their investigations. They found the tomb and discovered a goblin and a half-ogre nearby. After dispatching these villains, the party investigated the tomb. They found a secret door leading into the final burial chamber and encountered a spirit protecting the tomb. The spirit warned the party to leave and then attacked them when they did not leave. After dispatching the spirit, the party looted the tomb.
Next the group moved toward Tickle Rock Cave. They had to maneuver their way through a tight, winding canyon barely wide enough for them to squeeze through. They entered the cave at the end to the canyon and were attacked by the stirges nesting there. After clearing the cave, they set up camp and spend much time searching for the legendary treasure of Tickle Rock cave. No treasure could be located.
While the party was away, the Albaeri Mellikho and her band of stone-masked reprobates made contact with Larrakh. Larrakh gathered together some men and sent them off to capture or kill the party members. The next day the party went to investigate a skull stuck to a tree by an arrow that the Red Larch constable (Harburk) had told them about. They didn’t discover much about the skull and started back to the main road toward Red Larch. On the way back they noticed the band sent by Larrakh attempting to locate them. The party tricked these criminals into an ambush of their own. Of particular note was a large warrior wearing full-plate armor made of stone. This imposing figure was quickly laid low by Twiggs who sent an electrical bolt through his heart. Most of the other villains were also quickly dispatched, but a few escaped through the hills.
THE NECROMANCER AT LANCE ROCK
The party then returned to Red Larch. They reported to their various contacts and made plans. At this point another agent arrived to join the group, a Rock Gnome wizard named Snez. The party decided that they needed to investigate Lance Rock next. As they approached Lance Rock, the party noticed a sign warning people away due to a plague. The party ignored the warning and entered the cavern system at the base of the rock. As they made their way through the caverns, they were set upon by zombies and skeletons. Eventually they entered a room where 3 zombies were dancing around grotesquely in garish costumes. They noted a human male zombie with black hair and a scar-shaped scar below his left eye. Someone had killed this OotG agent, clothed him in a dress and raised him as a zombie.
As the zombies cavorted around the room, a voice suddenly echoed from a tunnel to the north. The voice recited the words of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Conqueror Worm” (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178359). While the party was distracted by this recital, the zombies moved closer and attacked. The party dispatched the zombies and sent Dirk ahead to investigate the tunnel from which the voice came. The tunnel ended in a room of chests with no other apparent exits. The room was in fact a trap. The necromancer reciting the poem had attempted to lure the party into the room and then pull a lever to collapse the ceiling. The necromancer was watching the room through peepholes high up on the far wall. Fortunately Dirk recognized that the ceiling was rigged to fall and also that he was being watched. We sent a crossbow bolt towards the peepholes and caused the necromancer to retreat. The chests in the trap room were empty.
The party then back-tracked and found the tunnel leading towards the necromancer lair. They encountered a large lab where bodies were being prepared for re-animation. A grand battle ensued and a lot of undead met their end. One particularly fun moment was when Twiggs’ blasted the necromancer with her wild magic and fried him quite nicely. At one point Twiggs’ wild magic caused a pool of grease to appear all around her and Dirk. Twiggs slipped and fell into the grease. A crawling hand moved to attack the prone Twiggs, and Amira tried to help by throwing a bolt of magic fire at the hand. The hand was quickly incinerated, but the pool of grease also caught fire! Twiggs and Dirk were caught in a grease fire but were able to quickly roll away suffering only minor damage.
Once all the foes were down, the party investigated the necromancer’s lair. They found some nice loot including a wand of magic missiles. They also found an illusionary symbol floating in the air. They later discovered that the different markings on the symbol represented the elements of earth, air, fire and water. The party was pretty battered at this point and rested up in the cave.
THE BELIEVERS AND THE TOMB OF MOVING STONES
The next day they returned to Red Larch. They learned from their contacts that Larrakh had been seen in town. A Halfling (Stannor Thistlehair) who worked at one of the wagon works (and who had become enamored by Twiggs’ beauty) told Twiggs that he had seen several robed and masked figures entering a secret tunnel near the wagon works. The party went to investigate the secret earthen tunnel. At the end of the tunnel the party entered a large chamber and was attacked by bandits working for the Believers/Black Earth Cult. The party captured one bandit alive (but unconscious) and killed all the others. Rather than waiting for their prisoner to awaken, they tied him up and moved further into the underground complex. They moved aside a stone door of dwarven make and entered a dwarven stone corridor. They encountered dwarven statues facing each other with the corridor continuing between them. As they investigated these statues, a voice from further down the corridor called for them to identify themselves. The party discovered that statues could be rotated on their bases and that each was a door to another tunnel. To the south they encountered an ancient latrine. For some reason Amira decided to send a blast of magical fire down the toilet hole and ignited latent pockets of methane gas. She leaped back in time to avoid the gout of flame bursting up through the hole. The party decided to ignore the voice that called for their identification and moved instead into the other tunnel (north) behind the statue.
The party worked their way around a winding passageway and came to a room of dead bodies. These bodies were being feasted upon by giant rats. Using illusionary magic, the party scared away the vermin and investigated the bodies. They found the remains of the red-headed brother-sister team the Harpers had sent previously. The party moved on.
Next they encountered a room with a stone floating above the floor. After some experimentation, they realized the phenomenon was a result of a magical field causing weightlessness. They played in the magic field (think indoor skydiving). While they were thus engaged, other bandits deeper in the complex moved to attack them. Although these bandits had the element of surprise, their initial volley of crossbow bolts merely bounced off Aukon’s armor. The party killed the first wave of bandits and the rest retreated into the next room. The party quickly pursued them. Amira shaped-changed into a lion and helped make short work of the remaining bandits. Two exits from the room were apparent. Within the room was a petrified dwarf that had been raised into a type of shrine. A bunch of coins, gems and a magic dagger had been laid at the base of the dwarf as offerings. The party pocketed the loot and investigated the exits.
To the west the party found a room with a half-orc thug named Grund. Also a small boy was lying face down on the floor with stones piled up on his back. Lion-form Amira pounced on Grund and he quickly surrendered. The party freed the boy and learned that he was being punished by his father (an elder of Red Larch and one of the Believers). The boy told the party about the Believers and who some of the members were. Grund was apparently not a Believer but was a loyal stooge. Grund was the one who had called for the party to identify themselves earlier. The party had avoided the frontal approach and came around from behind. The party investigated the room and found that the frontal approach was trapped. Grund had access to several levers that could drop iron cages into the front corridor. If the party had approached from that direction, likely several would have been caught in the falling cages.
Our heroes then moved back east and found an old man (another Believer) whittling wood in a corridor. He quickly surrendered to the party and told them that Larrakh was in the next room (the Vault of Moving Stones). The party entered the vault and found Larrakh walking on the ceiling 20-feet above their head. Larrakh attempted to monolog, but Twiggs immediately opened fire with magic missiles. The barrage was entirely blocked by Larrakh’s Shield spell. The fight was on! Since Larrakh was on the ceiling, melee fighters were at a distinct disadvantage. Lion-formed Amira tried several times to leap up high enough to swat at Larrakh, but was only able to connect once. Larrakh let loose with a wicked AoE spell (Shatter) that blasted several party members. Things were looking pretty grim as Larrakh prepared to let loose another AoE spell and finish off most of the party. Fortunately Aukon was able to leap up with an adrenaline-fueled attack and impaled Larrakh on his two-handed sword. It’s good to have an 8-foot tall Goliath with long arms and a longer sword on your team.
The party looted Larrakh’s body and discovered several trade bars from Mirabar. This was the party’s first clue that something may have happened to the delegation from Mirabar. The prisoners were turned over the Red Larch constable (Harburk) who immediately sent out his deputies to round up the other town elders (Believers). Some escaped town before they could be arrested. Harburk jailed all the prisoners and sent to Waterdeep for a prisoner wagon and additional law-enforcement.
FOLLOWING THE TRAIL TO FEATHERGALE SPIRE
Snez decided to remain behind to help Harburk interrogate the prisoners. Another Harper agent arrived in town. This agent (a Wood-Elf Ranger named Eston Shadow-Walker with a pet blood hawk) had been sent to investigate kidnappings and killings that had occurred at farms around the Dessarin Valley. At the last such occurrence, Eston had discovered giant vulture feathers left at the crime scene. Rumors were that the Feathergale Knights used giant vultures as mounts.
One of the party’s contacts told them about a wagon that had stopped for repairs in town while the party was dealing with Larrakh. The wagon had marking of the Black Earth Cult and was seen heading north. The party moved to investigate. They found the wagon stashed somewhere off the road in a gully and covered with brush. The bodies of the horses were being picked clean by vultures, but the wagon contents and driver/guards were not found. Eston used ranger magic to converse with the vultures and discovered that giant vulture riding humans had attacked the wagon and stolen the supplies and taken prisoners. The party decided to investigate the Feathergale Knights and Feathergale Spire.
As they approached FG Spire, the party was hailed from the tower. They were invited inside by Savra Bellebrante. This was the woman that Twiggs was asked to lure away from the FG Knights. Savra gave the party a little tour of the spire and took them to the roof to meet the FG knight leader: Thurl Meroska. Thurl was a charming man in his 50s. He heartily greeted the party and asked them to join the feast that evening. The party accepted and enjoyed a marvelous feast. They noticed, however, that only the FG knights were feasting. Upon entering the tower they had encountered several emaciated humans and asked Thurl why they were not eating. Thurl told them that these malnourished men had been sent to FG Spire by a mysterious noble woman. They kind of did their own thing and refused to eat. So far as Thurl could tell, they feasted only on air and steam!
Thurl used the feast to quiz the party about their activities in the area and found out about their run-in with Larrakh, the Black Earth Cult, and the Believers. Thurl thought that maybe the party can be used to help Thurl and the FG knights fight against the Black Earth Cult but that the party would need to be manipulated to adopt methods of the FG knights first.
While the party was feasting, suddenly the door burst open and a FG Knight entered. He yelled that the manticore had been spotted in the moonlit night. Thurl stood and said he would give his signet ring to anyone who brought him the head of the manticore. The party members were invited to join the hunt and given hippogriffs to ride. Everyone fanned out and soon the party found the manticore. The manticore was quickly killed with a hail of magic missiles, a crossbow bolt, and a Heat Metal spell on the bolt head. Aukon decapitated the corpse and returned the head to Thurl for the promised prize. The party was given guest quarters and asked to make themselves comfortable.
UNCOVERING THE TRUTH OF FEATHERGALE SPIRE
That evening, several party members sneaked around the spire and discovered an armory and a garden where mind-altering plants were being cultivated. They found several of the emaciated humans (later discovered to be Initiates of the Howling Hatred cult of elemental air) working in the garden. The party found several of these HH initiates gathered around a cauldron of boiling water attempting to feast on the steam. The lower level of the Spire was too well guarded for the party to discover the prisoners held below.
In the night several FG knights left the tower. The party didn’t know it at the time, but these knights went to Red Larch and raided the jail there. They captured some of the prisoners and also Snez who was in the prison. They were careful to capture or kill any witnesses.
Snez was placed in a prison cell in the bottom level of the FG Spire. In other cells were several youth that had been captured from surrounding farms. These youth were to be indoctrinated into the FG Knights or become HH initiates. If they were unsuited to either role, they were to be sacrificed to elemental air by being flung from the top of the spire. The party was unaware of these schemes.
In the morning the party was summoned to the top of tower. Several prisoners were there with bags over their heads. Thurl tried to convince the party that these were criminals who were worthy of death. In fact Thurl would rather just fling the victims from the tower, but he wanted the party to agree that killing them was justified. As such, he attempted to make their execution into a trial by combat. A higher ranking HH cult member (a Hurricane) with elemental air powers was tasked to fight a captured Black Earth Cultist while the party watched. The Hurricane eventually used a magic gust of wind to blow the BE cultist from the tower top. Aukon became angry that the fight did not seem fairly balanced and challenged the Hurricane to a duel. Thurl seems amused and permitted the fight. Aukon was wounded but slew the Hurricane by decapitation.
Next Thurl revealed a bandit. This bandit was known to the party and had attempted to ambush them on the road. He was also working for the BE cult. Shanda attempted to convince Thurl that this vigilante justice was unlawful. Shanda tried to get Thurl to agree to release the prisoner for trial instead of forcing him to fight to the death. After much hemming and hawing, Thurl became frustrated and simply kicked the bandit off the tower. Now the entire party was pissed off. Next Thurl revealed the final prisoner. It was the quarry master (Albaeri Mellikho) from Red Larch! Albaeri had attempted to send the party to their death in Tickle Rock Cave. She was also directly responsible for the murder of the Harper agent twins. Despite her various crimes, the party realized that a trial by combat would be tantamount to a summary execution. The woman obviously had zero fighting skills. Albaeri pleaded with the party to not kill her.
CLEANSING FEATHERGALE SPIRE
Aukon became enraged and launched himself at Thurl. Using the momentum of his prodigious body weight, Aukon easily pushed Thurl off the tower top. Unfortunately Thurl (and most of his men) were capable of casting the Featherfall spell and could not be vanquished so easily. The fight was on! As giant vultures swooped down to rescue Thurl, the other knights and cultists engaged the party on the tower. Meanwhile Snez was waking from his blackjack-induced sleep and working on a way to escape his cell.
The party killed their enemies on the tower top. The Albaeri also died in the battle. Thurl rallied additional forces and assaulted the party with several FG knights riding giant vultures. A band of cultists were also trying to assault the party from behind by coming up the stairs. Twiggs had blocked the stairs with a magical bonfire, but the wounded party realized they could not stand against this onslaught and escaped down the stairs to the next level. During the fight, Amira had shape-changed into a bear. She led the charge directly into the band of cultists. Cultist body parts flew and blood stained the floor, but the party was now in a dire position. How could they escape in their wounded state while the skies were controlled by Thurl and his FG Knights? While they deliberated, Snez broke out of his cell and also rescued the kidnapped youths. Snez joined the party to offer valuable aid. Eventually the party decided to rush the tower top and attempt to slay Thurl in a desperate last stand.
They party rushed forward and made a good standing, but unfortunately they were overmatched. Being already gravely wounded and short on magic, it was very difficult to fight the remaining FG knights and their combat-trained flying steeds. As party members began to succumb to their wounds and drop bleeding to the floor, a huge lightning bolt flashed across the sky and roasted the giant vultures. Next a swarm of Aarakocra (bird men) and their summoned air elemental swooped down to aid the party. The tide quickly turned and the party was able to kill off the remaining enemies but saved Savra alive (but sorely wounded and unconscious).
Next the party conversed with the Aarakocra and discovered that they had a small nest in the area. They were fugitives from the Plane of Air. Their race was tasked by the Wind Dukes of Aaqa to fight against elemental evil. They told the party about the regular sacrifices they witnessed and that the canyon below FG Spire was littered with human bones. They said the FG knights served an evil elemental air power. The FG knights would harass them whenever they could, but in general the Aarakocra worked hard to remain unseen. Now that the tower was cleansed, the Aarakocra offered to secure it from re-infestation by other cultists.
The party searched the tower and discovered Thurl’s journal and letter from a Queen Aerisi. The letters made mention of a woman from Waterdeep who had been taken from the Black Earth cultists and was being interrogated by the Howling Hatred Cult (who could this woman be?) The journal revealed that Thurl was working for this Queen Aerisi but that he didn’t really like her. He also was apparently in love with Savra and wanted to shield her from the bulk of his depravity. He did eventually want to indoctrinate her into his cult, but he was doing so very carefully so as to not alienate her. After Savra recovered from the fight, the party showed her Thurl’s journal and convinced her of his true nature. She was very upset and agreed to return home to her brother in Waterdeep.
THE DELEGATION FAILS TO ARRIVE
The party returned to Red Larch and decided to wait for the delegation from Mirabar to arrive. Upon their return, their Harper contact told them he had acquired a strange book from a traveling peddler. The peddler had picked up the book in Womford near the Dessarin River. The book was written by Grandmaster Lee using ancient eastern runes. Only Shanda or another trained monk would be able to decipher the text. This book was supposed to have been delivered by the delegation from Mirabar. Why was it sold in Womford to a peddler?
The party decided it was time to head towards Womford and meet the delegation on the road. Aukon was also anxious to make it to the Knights of Samular HQ (Summit Hall) to pick up his friend’s sword. On the way to Womford they encountered 3 Ogres who demanded a toll. The party used some illusionary magic and fast talking to convince the ogres that a rich, lightly armed wagon was just behind them and that the ogres would do better to assault them. The ogres let the party go without incident.
The party realized that the delegation from Mirabar should have been on the road between Womford and Red Larch by this point. They did not encounter any sign of the delegation. As characters approached the Dessarin River, they encounted the town of Bargewright Inn. The town was a ramshackle collection of buildings built around the original Bargewright Inn. The town was surrounded by a wooden wall and reeked of animal droppings. It was a stop for local herdsman to prepare their livestock for transport on river barges. Amira decided to investigate the town. The rest of the party crossed over the Ironford Bridge into Womford.
DEFEATING THE WOMFORD BAT
In Womford the party started asking about the delegation from Mirabar. No one had seen any such group. The party did learn, however, of a “Womford Bat” that was supposedly abducting people at night. Most of these abductions occurred near the river docks. The party came up with an elaborate scheme to capture the Bat which involved tying Twiggs to a wagon while the rest of the party hid nearby. Meanwhile Amira realized that there wasn’t much to discover at the previous town and came across the Ironford Bridge into Womford. As she entered Womford, she was accosted by a band of thugs. She yelled for help. Fortunately the party was hidden nearby awaiting the Womford Bat. They rushed to her aid. The ensuing fight moved along the water front and resulted in a storage warehouse catching fire by the pyromaniac known as Twiggs. The last river bandit rushed to his keel boat and the party moved to attack. Suddenly a giant wave of water burst up from the river and crushed several party members. The resulting deluge also extinguished the nearby warehouse fire. The party saw that the wave was a result of a spell cast by the keel boat captain. The captain was a Water Genasi wizard named Shoalar Quanderil .
Although the wave had done them some significant damage, the party continued to rush the boat. Shoalar dove overboard into the cold, dark river. The party was unable to pursue Shoalar into his own element. Fortunately they had captured 2 of the river bandits alive but unconscious. The party awoke the first bandit and attempted to question him. The bandit revealed that they were the “Womford Bat” and that they were taking prisoners to their leader. When asked about the leader and the location, the bandit began to reply but was quickly silenced as a barrage of magic missiles entered his body. The party looked out and saw Shoalar floating at the surface of the river. He quickly dove back down before they could retaliate.
Being more careful with their next prisoner, the party moved him into the deck house. He promised to tell them anything they wanted if they did not kill him. The party agreed, and he revealed that he was working for a group of river pirates. Their leader was named Jolliver Grimjaw. Their stronghold was Rivergard Keep. The keep was an old Dwarf fort that was being rebuilt by the pirates. The pirates claimed to be mercenaries who police the river to protect merchants from pirates (themselves). The party searched the keel boat and found five books that were supposed to have been transported by the delegation from Mirabar. This particular prisoner didn’t know how the books ended up on board but said that his captain had recently transported another group who had prisoners with them.
SIDE TRIP TO GOLDEN FIELDS
The party then decided to take a little detour. They had a boat full of valuable books and also farming equipment, seed, etc. The boat itself was also valuable. Also they had a prisoner that needed to be taken to a more secure location. Womford was a very small village. So, the party took the boat downriver to Golden Fields. Golden Fields is a large farming community of around 5000 people run by the Emerald Enclave. Adventurers are regularly hired to patrol the area around Golden Fields and keep it safe. The location seemed fairly secure and also capable of buying the boat and merchandise onboard. On the way to Golden Fields, the boat was attacked by Feathergale Knights riding giant vultures. Apparently the FG Knights were scouring the Dessarin Valley looking to exact revenge on the party.
The battle went pretty quickly. Eston got off a good shot with his longbow before the knights landed to engage in melee. The FG knights got pretty beat up and moved to retreat. Snez or Dirk (I forget which) was able to put a FG Knight to sleep and caused him to tumble from his mount into the river. Another FG knight also fell asleep but was strapped in well enough that he did not fall. The sleeping FG knight was fished from the river and interrogated. Dirk was able to Charm him with magic and convinced the FG Knight that he was an ally. Dirk was able to trick the knight into revealing to location of Queen Aerisi’s base. The entrance was hidden at the bottom of the canyon directly across from FG Spire. Also Dirk learned that Queen Aerisi was the Air Prophet of the Howling Hatred Cult. Apparently she was a very attractive elven woman with a bad temper. The HH cult was diametrically opposed the Black Earth Cult. The BE Cult had a stronghold in the area called the Sacred Stone Monastery which the duped FG Knight revealed on the party map. Together Dirk and the FG Knight made escape plans until the charm wore off and the FG Knight realized he’d been manipulated.
Eventually the party arrived at Golden Fields. They sold off the boat and merchandise. They also wisely purchased several scrolsl of Water Breathing for their upcoming assault on Rivergard Keep. At Golden Fields, Amira learned of a new druid order in the region. This new order claimed to have discovered the Rite of the Wicker Giant. They were calling druids and other interested parties to join them in performing the Rite at Scarlet Moon Hall. The location was marked on the party map. They hired passage back to Womford. Before going to RG Keep, the party decided to head to the Knights of Samular HQ (Summit Hall). It was sort of on the way anyway, and Aukon really wanted his sword.
THE KNIGHTS OF SAMULAR AT SUMMIT HALL
The party arrived at Summit Hall and was warmly greeted. The knights were followers of Tyr (much to the disappointment of the religiously fanatic Aukon) and were sympathetic to the Order of the Gauntlet. Aukon had been tasked by the OotG to convince the knights to become full members of the order. The knights invited the party to dinner and they exchanged tales. The leader of the knights was impressed with the valor of the group and agreed to join the OotG. The delegation from Mirabar never made it to Summit Hall. The Knights were incensed that pirates were operating out of the nearby (30-40 miles away) Rivergard Keep and may have been involved with the disappearance of the delegation. Aukon was pissed that his sword was not at Summit Hall.
During the feast at Summit Hall, the party also learned about the history of the Caradoon brothers (note this MIGHT be important later). They learned that one brother (Samular) was a knight and the other (Renwick) was a wizard. Renwick was obsessed with becoming a lich so he could prolong his life and magical studies. Both were apparently heroes of some renown in their day. One day on the battlefield (during the Second Troll War) Renwick was fatally wounded. Knowing that Renwick would die, Samular administered a potion of lich-dom. The potion caused Renwick to become a lich as he had desired. It is unclear what happened afterwards. It is known however that Samular founded the Knights of Samular and that his body is interred in the tomb beneath Summit Hall.
It now seemed quite obvious that something foul had happened to the delegation from Mirabar and that the villains at Rivergard Keep were somehow involved. The party realized that assaulting a keep would be very difficult. They decided to recruit several knights of Samular to join them. The knights were not numerous and only 3 could be spared. Together they moved towards the Dessarin River (with Rivergard Keep being on the opposite side of the half mile wide river).
INFILTRATION OF RIVERGARD KEEP
Being too far away for adequate recon, the party sent some spies by air and by water. Eston used ranger magic to telepathically bond with his bird and scouted the keep from the air. Meanwhile, Amira shape-changed into a giant frog and scouted the keep by river. The keep had a small inlet blocked off by a chain to restrict boat travel. Amira entered the inlet and spied a keel boat docked inside. On the boat was the Water Genasi wizard (Shoalar Quanderil) they had previously faced. Towards the edge of the dock a halfing was working. Amira decided to try capturing the halfing by pulling him into her mouth with her tongue. The attempt failed and Amira quickly retreated underwater. The halfling was laughed to scorn by the other pirates as he blubbered to them about a giant frog in the water.
Next the party decided to use one of the water breathing scrolls. In the middle of the night, everyone in the group walked along the bottom of the river to the Rivergard Keep inlet. They found a gate leading into an underground river. Dirk stealthily picked the lock and everyone began walking up the river into pitch darkness. After closing the gate behind them and moving sufficient far into the river to avoid light spilling back outside, the magic users in the group produced light sources. The river was actually more of a canal with a flat, smooth bottom. As the party moved deeper under Rivergard Keep, they encountered several humanoids walking towards them on the canal bottom. A vicious battle against some undead monstrosities ensued. Most of the magic-users’ spells were ineffective (fire spells) or overly dangerous (lightning spells) underwater. Fortunately with the aid of the Knights of Samular, the party dispatched their ghoulish enemies. Afterwards the party found a boat dock in the canal and stairs leading up into the keep. The river canal continued beyond sight into the darkness. The party exited the canal and is not ready to assault Rivergard Keep from below.