Clem's D&D Encounters

Fighting Through The Temples of Extraction: Forest and Winter
Threskel's Dispatch - Week 8

With so much time spent underground within the Doomvault, the concept of day and night has lost all meaning. I long for a canopy of trees above my head, not the cursed machinations of the Red Wizards. Our company prepared for further battle after stowing our supplies in packs and breaking our fast. Magus and I broke our fast with bread and cheese, debating our findings and where we might proceed. We agreed we would return to the Temple of Plagues and explore temples to the south. Aldrik quietly sang a mournful tune, his whistling axe head accompanying his voice. Zawadi stoically finalized daily prayers to Bahumat.

Upon appearing in the Temple again, we immediately noted two small figures throwing cards before the door leading south. I crept stealthily scouted. They were both female: one a dwarf and the other of an unrecognized race, though comparable in size to a halfling. I listened to their conversation for awhile and divined they could become allies.

I boldly spoke, “Well met, fair ladies”. The second chattered, “Well met. My name is Addy. Are you in league with Sir Isteval too? He noted we might encounter reinforcements somewhere in the Doomvault. By your look, I can see you have never encountered a kender before.” Before I respond, the dwarf stated, “Addy, here, noted your approach and presence for the last 5 minutes. Glad to see you decided to introduce yourselves. My name is Ferrik.”

Favoring them both with an embarrassed, bemused expression I stated “Galad [i.e. I’m impressed] at your keen ears. Indeed we are. Great tidings!” Behind me, everyone relaxed from defensive stances and formal introductions were made. Aldrik, producing a flask from a belt sack, handed it to Ferrik, before taking a long pull himself. Aldrik pointed to the door with Whelm, “Enough pleasantries. We’re wasting valuable time during which we could be breaking skulls. We must carry out great deeds before I can sing of them.” “We concede your point”, Magus’ deep gravelly voice issued from under his cowl and hat.

Opening the door, we saw an irregular-shaped cavern – featuring a rough soil floor and ceiling. The air around us was humid, likely the result of spell craft. Gnarled vines stuck out of the floor, while roots hung from the ceiling, swaying against a nonexistent breeze. Sloth, proceeding the group into room, was confronted by three hazy will o’ wisps. My father spoke of these tiny fey undead spirits and their hunger. They circled the golem for five seconds, then separated to target our front ranks. Sloth slapped one before it sped towards Zawadi. The second made contact with Aldrik, sipping his life-force, and left a bluish-black mark on his skin.

As Zawadi chanted, a fourth silvery holy beacon of Bahumat’s power blanketed our group. Sloth caught the third in a huge bear hug, extinguishing its glow. Ferrik launched a ray of frost at a wisp, with seemingly little effect. The kender cleric thrust her holy symbol toward both wisps. One winked out, destroyed, and the other fled back toward Sloth. The golem clapped its hands together destroying it.

Taking a breath, we all began to advance toward a dais near the back of the room. The roots and vines quickly grew outward, wrapping around the limbs of Zawadi, Magus, Aldrik, Addy, and Ferrik. I managed to contort out of the way and pin one vine to the ground with Cat’s Fang. Meanwhile, Sloth tore entwining vegetation from his body. With luck, Ferrick managed to flick a ball of guano and sulfur. A fireball scorched the vegetation within area, freeing the entangled.

We began to advance again, but encountered a shadowy wraith. Zawadi hit the shadow with a singing lightning bolt. Aldrik swung Whelm back and forth, connecting twice with its fore- and back-swing. In quick succession, a ray of frost and sacred flame tore across the undead. Lunging forward, I jabbed into the center of its shadowy form and it faded out of existence.

Chained to the dais was Eira. She is a wood elf druid Chosen of Rillifane Rallathil – the Elven God of the Woodlands and harmony with Nature. Eira revealed she was wounded by a rite wherein a Chosen of Talona, the Maiden of Poison, was sacrificed. The powers of the killed Chosen infused her. I freed her from her bonds. Zawadi healed her wounds. She requested to assist us in our quest; we happily agreed, glad to have another ally. We proceeded through the door at the room’s south end.

A blast of cold wind and ice crystals lashed our faces as we entered the Temple of Winter. The walls of this irregular-shaped room were encrusted in thick ice. The room contained two blazing braziers and a now familiar four-pillar adorned dais. Our presence interrupted the experiments of a Red Wizard and her apprentice with a human female Chosen of Auril, The Frostmaiden Goddess. She cackles and yells, “You fools. You have the pleasure of being destroyed by wizard Aduna. My pets, kill them!” Suddenly we faced off against four loping yeti bodyguards. A set of magic missiles cracked into Aldrik; in response he grunted, “Durn you” and spit on the floor.

Magus flung a fireball directly on top of the Red Wizard. As the flames cleared, the wizard stood unaffected. On closer inspection, I identified this form was simply an illusion.

Approaching us for melee, the yeti remained in a square formation. One swiped at Sloth, but missed him. Aldrik calling upon Whelm’s powers, slammed its hammer head onto the ground. A powerful shockwave radiated outward stunning two yeti and the Thayan apprentice. The second yeti missed in a swipe attack on Magus. Brilliant sunlight scorched two yeti, as Addy cast Radiance of the Dawn. Next, Ferrik sculpted a fireball blast to burn the targeted yeti, but miss Sloth, Magus and myself. Stepping forward, Eira wove her hands in passes, a thunderclap sounded, and a bolt of lightning hit the fourth, already burning yeti – causing it to uncontrollably spasm. Provided an opportunity, I pierced the jerking yeti with my rapier.

We continued to battle the strangely hearty yeti bodyguards. Sloth crushed and killed one in a massive bear-hug. Magus blasted and pushed two with a thunder wave cube of force. My rapier and scimitar connected with a stunned yeti as it was pushed backward. One yeti managed to slash a few scales off Zawadi’s torso. Ferrik hit the remaining yeti with another Thunderwave spell. Sloth punched the final yeti to death. Meanwhile, Aldrik rushed forward to grapple the Thayan apprentice. While his action was unsuccessful, it distracted the Thayan, allowing Eira to channel a lighting bolt into him. He staggered for a moment. Drawing my bow and nocking an arrow, I yelled, “Hold still, Aldrik!” and fired the shaft over his head to slay the apprentice.

At this moment the Red Wizard reappeared. I would surmise that Magus had counted upon this. Pointing toward the illusionist, his eyes blazed and he crushed a small cocoon. The wizard’s form shrank to a minuscule ant. He strode forward and ground the ant with his boot heel.

That left the only the Chosen of Auril. While scattered in mind, the woman seemed ready to attack – as flurries etched our cheeks. I successfully intimidated her, “You are freed from the Thayans. Yield now or we will be forced to attack!” Seeing our might, she yielded and we placed her under guard in manacles. We then proceeded to search for treasure.

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From the Predator Pools to the Temple of Plagues
Threskel's Dispatch - Week 7

Our squad continued our effort to clear out the Predator Pools zone. Moving with cautious stealth, we moved eastward into a vaguely L-shaped anteroom. Beyond the entrance, the walls expanded into an enormous circular chamber and a central pool. The swirling water is marked by a sickly, reddish-black water. Within the pool, eight platform – pillars surround a hulking, black stone shrine. Beautiful, bas-relief roses cover its surface along with dark crystals and black, seemingly smoking runes.

Unease raised the hairs across my arms, causing me to settle into a fighting stance. I quietly whispered, “I really don’t like the look of that shrine. Seems all too sinister to be welcoming.” “Agreed”, Zawadi growled. “Bah, you durn elf”, Aldrik grunted. A grayish skinned, armored undead human – a dread warrior – broke the water and climbed to attack. In its hands, it wielded an enormous great axe. Guttural, cracking Draconic syllables sprang from Zawadi’s lips, as Bahumat’s blessing was invoked upon us. “Right….You were saying, Aldrik.” Everyone, but Magus advanced to flank the advancing warrior.

Swinging Whelm, Aldrik landed a solid, bone-cracking blow to warrior’s shoulder. Almost immediately thereafter, three flaming rays (thrown by Magus) charred its torso. Meanwhile, the warrior swung its axe wide of Sloth’s approaching form. Sloth responded by dislocating its jaw and smashing is cheekbone. Whelm swung downwards against its leg, as Aldrik took advantage of the warrior’s imbalanced body. Somersaulting over to its side, my rapier sunk to its hilt into its lower back.

Our party continued rapid punishment of this fallen warrior. Zawadi leaned forward, emitting a forked line of lightening breath. A ray of frost bookended repeated blows from Whelm and one from Sloth’s fist. Its flesh tearing, the warrior turned toward me, scything the axe in a shallow cut against my leg. Emboldened by pain, I pierced its abdomen with Cat’s Fang as it fell to a knee. As it tried to stand again, Claw severed its head from its body. Aldrik, spitting on its body, ground its skull.

Zawadi advanced on the shrine, hoping to consecrate the foul structure. A powerful necrotic power encircled his (or her) head, seemingly a mind assault that nearly buckled the knees. Gritting teeth, a fervent prayer brought relief. As we steadied Zawadi, Magus destroyed the black runes. Suddenly things went black.

When awareness focus, we stood within a rectangular room. Teleported? Clearly someone had finally noticed our assault, and brought us here for…. Perhaps to stop our ceaseless meddling. A impressionistic flash, from seemingly nowhere, imparted our destination: the Temple of Plagues. Aldrik noted our fellows had likewise been teleported elsewhere. We were all seized by an oppressive ominous feeling that sought to weaken us. Another prayer to Bahumat brought us relief. I am unclear what fell wizardry that feeling was a symptom.

A yellowish green mist permeated the air and slightly distorted our vision. The floors, walls, and central raised dais – which featured the now familiar black runes – were all constructed of white marble. Likewise, we noted the presence of a black gate. An overpowering wave of naseau washed over Zawadi, Magus, and I, immobilizing us as we uncontrollably retched.

Four zombies advanced from on us in a line from near the dais. Thankfully, the combined effects of a wave of thunder and fireball obliterated them all – allowing us all to collect our wits. Striding from around the dais, a red wizard and a staff-wielding, Deathlock Wight appeared – unfazed by fireball’s blast. “You fools. Your continued disturbance has not gone unnoticed. I, Sutay, will make you rue this day!” “Wonderful, two casters. I have the Red Robe. Who wants the Wight?”, I barked. Magus quickly cast haste on Sloth. My companions engaged the Wight. Sloth rapidly punched the Wight and Magus blasted him with flaming rays. Thankfully, a final skull crushing blow from Whelm dropped the Wight.

“Care to dance?”, I quipped as I slashed the Wizard with Claw. In response, he teleported elsewhere. “I always suspected you Red Wizards were arrogant cowards.”

In his stead, a huge, crazed orc rushed our group, screeching in broken Common, “I am Bendragon, the Chosen of Yurtus. Prepare to die!” Sloth, still hasted, slaughtered the Chosen with ease. Meanwhile, the cowardly Thayan returned, just in time to see his “reinforcement” perish. Walking into our midst, he launched a fireball across the room to hit Magus. Our hearts seized as he was engulfed by the enormous blast. As the flames disappeared, Magus was standing, seemingly unaffected. The Thayan was brutally punched, bludgeoned and slashed apart. Sloth continued to punch the remaining pulpy gore, even after the wizard was clearly dead. I suspect Magus enjoyed this bit of payback. Sloth was called off after we disrupted another black rune gate.

Our party searched the corpse quickly. Sutay’s robes contained a skeleton key, a glyph key (attuned to this zone), and scrolls of Remove Curse and Speak with Dead. I can surmise the farruking bastard sought to slay us and question our corpses about our agenda, allies, and seek an opening to assault the Sword Coast again. Besides his robes, he wore a set of Bracers of Defense, which we gifted to Sloth for vicious attack.

Hm, so the Thayans are experimenting on, enslaving, or recruiting Chosen amenable to their cause. In this case, a Chosen of the stinking Lord of Maggots, the Orcish deity of death, pestilence, and suffering. A circelet transmission we received shortly confirmed this. Our companions had fought oozes and a Red Wizard. They also encountered a drow Chosen of Ghaunadaur – the until recently dead God of Oozes. This chosen killed himself, rather than spend more time under the yoke of Thay.

I would now propose a theory: The Doomvault itself as the setting wherein the Red Wizards experiment with monsters and harnesses Chosen’s powers to augment select monsters for use by elite Thayan units. Surely, those in the position to defend the good folk of Faerun must be privy to this underlying agenda. Likewise, a potential arms race may be brewing to bolster future attacks and cement Thay as a long-lasting supreme power.

I must speak with Aldrik about communicating my suspicions to the second group. I may prove essential to pursue two tactics: free any Chosen of the good pantheon and counter or slay Chosen of the evil gods. Certainly this strategy will further disrupt Szass Tam’s agenda greatly. With Erevan’s favor, we will soon be reunited to augment our disruptive effort.

On a lighter note, I heard our struggle is now being chronicled by a halfling bard. My hope is that his accounts does our deeds justice, and that it is colored by more comedy and valor rather than tragedy.

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Team Crazy - Week 6

From the cells containing summoned demons, Team Crazy walked straight into a torture chamber where a demon was being tormented by undead. The undead were thoroughly blended.

Team Crazy ran into a little trouble when they ran down an unused hallway and opened an unused door. Shadow poured out and threatened to suffocate them with its icy tendrils.

Soon after, the group burst in on the Lich Tarul Var, and utterly destroyed him and his minions.

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Back to the Predator Pools
Threskel's Dispatch - Week 6

My account, herein, remains imperfect, as it is ever an artifact of the haze of battle.

Following the slaying of the scrags, we cautiously opened the door and moved forward into the door frame to look into next room. The room contained a miasmic pool, marked by the foul stench of decay. Three bluish glowing glyphs were etched across the wall opposite the pool. Three water globules floated near the pool edge and glyphs. Magus commanded Sloth to advance into the room.

As Sloth entered, eight rotting lacedons broke the water’s surface. The closest ones ones pulled themselves out of the pool and slashed at Sloth – to no effect. Sloth punched and hammered their bodies, quickly destroying three. At this point, our party entered the room. Magus detonated a fireball to incinerate five more of the aquatic ghouls – leaving two more.

A brilliant flash erupted from the runes. Aldrik, Sloth, and I felt were compelled to walk off into the dark pool. While I approached the pool, the claws of one ghoul tore into my leg. Drawing upon my heritage, I shook off the foul paralyzing necrotic energy as I fell into pool. Still, the cold waters of the pool throbbed with negative energy, which drank the life force of Aldrik and I. Magus, hands weaving and chanting, obliterated the remaining ghouls by casting Thunderwave. We both swam and dragged ourselves from the filthy pool.

The circle of glowing glyphs proved to be a contact stone. We attuned our glyph keys to the stone to gain access to western corridor leading to the Golem Laboratories. After a quick conference, it was decided that we would clear the remaining Predator Pools before entering the nearby Laboratories.

Opening the southwest door, a nauseating smell of rotten meat and decay permeated our nostrils as we entered the Warrior Pools room. The partially articulated and broken remains of pork and humanoid bones littered the floor, sometimes reaching 1 foot deep. Three large stone braziers illuminated the room. By this light, four bone-munching merrow (mermen) dropped their snacks and rushed to attack.

Sloth landed a solid punch on one. Magus, advanced on three and forked lightning bolt tore into their bodies. Enraged one flung a javelin, slicing a deep line across his Magus’ leg and robes. Meanwhile a second merrow sought to skewer his abdomen with a harpoon. If not for an incredible contortion, the effort would have succeeded, but only resulted in a deep gash. Incensed by rage, I rolled my rapier under trident’s shaft scoring a killing blow and turned my scimitar to wound its fellow. Zawadi channeled the balming love of Bahamut to knit Magus’ wounds. The same merrow was quickly felled. Aldrik, tossed Whelm, shattering much of the beast’s ribcage. Stumbling around, he was torn apart berserk Sloth.

The final merrow fell to concentrated attacks. A ray of frost encrusted his half-submerged leg in a ice crust. I loosed an arrow to lodge deep in his lung, before stepping back further to receive healing blessing from Zawadi. A crossbow bolt fired by Aldrik glanced off its torso. Sloth then punched its fist through its chest. Somehow, this action seemed to calm Sloth.

I stealthily crept south alone down a short corridor to the second Warrior pool. Standing with her back to me, a hideous sea hag stood calm observed the quietly burbling, glowing blue pool. Taking advantage, I crept up and pierced one kidney and slashed her shoulder blade. Startled, she flung a dagger out at the obvious spell caster, Magus. Provided the opportunity, a second round of attacks with Cat’s Fang and Claw. Sloth and Magus landed two coup de grace hits, the first shattered her neck and Magus coated her entire frame with a thick icy cocoon. She spasmed slightly as she fell to the floor.

Quickly moving south through a door, we saw a series of linked rectangular pools spaced around a room. A search of one pool revealed something shining and many colored. Sloth excitedly reached downward and was masticated by spell-twisted predator fish abominations. The attached fish was ground by Sloth’s fist into a paste on the floor. Magus quickly sent the other fish belly up using a potent shocking grasp spell. We anticipate completing the three remaining rooms of the Predator Pools shortly before turning our attention to either the Ooze Grottoes or Golem Laboratories

Halting momentarily, Aldrik received a communique from our compatriots. They had faced many travails today, encountering chained and imprisoned demons that the Thayans appear to be subjects of experimentation. By day’s end, they destroyed several undead, including zombies, wights, and a powerful dread knight. As usual, Quinley was a slashing and piercing tornado. This was quite fortunate too. It allowed him to savagely attack and assist his companions in destroying the lich, Tarul Var, a second time.

Of course this means the upper echelon of the Thayan force is likely to be aware of our meddling. While it will take sometime to repair his physical form, he will scour the Doomvault’s chambers to destroy us outright. It may also jeopardize the survival of our allies at the Gatehouse and back at the Floshin Estates. We must redouble our efforts, employ greater stealth, and seek allies in the day’s ahead to advance and cripple this Thayan forces.

Make haste!

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Skulking Along the Predator Pools
Threskel's Dispatch: Week 5

Our squad bid our companions goodbye as we divided. Their group continued to disrupt the experiments and Thayans working within the Abyssal Prisons (more about their efforts later).
Meanwhile, we traveled south down a corridor of the Fiendish Arena – to enter the Predator Pools’ region of the Doomvault.

We passed into the first circular room beyond the arena. At the room’s center was a large pool of water, while a passageway led of the room to the east. Across the pool from us was a circle of swirling shadowy runes on the floor. With no occupant visible, Aldrik and Magus approached the pool, leaned over, and looked into the calm waters.

Suddenly, several large sinuous black tentacles emerged, with two grappling the pair. In the midst of the tentacles, a rubbery black head rose, focusing its two wagon-wheel-sized eyes. Aldrik grunted as he was constricted. He barked about a telepathic communiqué from our brethren: my assistance was requested, to disarm a trap and pick a lock. With two of us in danger, I shouted "I beg your apologies, but perhaps another time. This kraken seems unwilling to allow me to tarry long, while he has us wrapped in it’s embrace.

Quick to react, I swung both blades to pierce the nearest tentacle. Sloth, in a berserk rage, pummeled the slapping tentacles. A loud thunderclap sounded: Magus blasted the creature backward with a thunder wave spell, forcing both tentacles to disengage. A nearby tentacle was bounced of the hard stone by a crushing blow from Whelm. Sloth then turned angrily to attack Aldrik, his nearest foe. This occurred in spite of Aldrik taking on the appearance of Magus. Meanwhile, Magus’ calming words were briefly interrupted as he flung a lightening bolt. A responding lightening discharge spasmed Aldrik, Magus, and myself. Happily, the beast was dispatched soon after and Sloth was brought back under command.

Following a quick search, we continued edging down the corridor to stairs bordering the Pools of Devotion. At the stair’s base, we heard the creaking and clattering of chains strained to nigh braking. Four said chains were pulled to taut by two agitated juvenile dragon turtles. After containing his (her?) strange excitement, Zawadi translated from draconic that both dragon turtles sought only to escape imprisonment. The chains were quickly destroyed as Magus and I blasted them with rays of frost and Aldrik applied Whelm to each. In thanks, the dragon turtles agreed to escort us into the nearby chamber.

Up climbing a set of stairs and opening the door, we were confronted by soft hiss and a tightly coiled Spirit Naga, which rose upward to its greatest height. I yelled “Gods! This place is literally a nest of endless, vigilant vipers!”. Thank Lady Luck, the naga was besieged by pounding fists, blades, and spell craft. Nonetheless, the Maid of Misfortune chose to visit us too – as Sloth again went berserk and I leapt in front of Aldrik to absorb a glancing blow. Gladly, Aldrik, one again disguised, calmed him.

Upon its death, we searched the guardian naga’s corpse, its nesting ground, and nearby pools. We collected a glyph key; a sapphire-encrusted necklace and matching earrings (1000 gp / 500 gp); 200 pp; 5 tourmaline stones (100 gp/stone); +1 plate mail armor, and an ivory scroll case containing eight scrolls (detect magic (2), identify (2), lesser restoration (2), and remove curse (2)). Divided, each of us will share 50 pp and 450 gp. My purse was no longer light.

Magus and I divided the scrolls. I stowed them and the plate mail – for later study – in my bag of holding. It will be sometime before I can utilize these spells. That unless I am forced to …. which I suspect we will be called to do so soon. If only we had a moment to rest, so I might pore over them and perhaps Magus’ spell book. I would love to copy additional spells into my book. Perhaps we shall have a moment’s respite soon.

Moving southward from the naga platform room, we stumbled into the trash and bone-filled lair of two scrags (aquatic trolls). Sickeningly, they lurched forward to attack us with their claws. Weapons were swung repeatedly by Aldrik and me. Fire was liberally applied to the trolls – by scorching blast and fireball and by torch – laying them to waste.

Once again, mid-battle, Aldrik’s was assaulted by the speedy words of Quinley. They had faced a number travails tonight. Most important they gleaned further information regarding the Doomvault itself by accident. Upon entering the Temple of Chaos, they faced a familiar foe we previously tangled with in Daggerford – Natyssa the succubus. Tyr’s hackles were immediately raised and, tempting fate again, he sought to intimidate her. The effort failed again, but did seek to bargain with their party for her own survival. She provided them intelligence that the dungeon contained several sets of runes that we should seek to destroy to disrupt the Thayan’s efforts, thereby furthering our own assault on the Phylactery Vault. With this goal in mind, both parties destroyed examples of the runes. We will remain vigilant for further examples.

With luck, we may find a moment to breathe. The challenges we face remain relentless; our blades must remain keen. I wish our companions luck and look forward to consulting with them on their findings and exploits.

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In the Pits

When last we left our adventurers, they had just finished off a room of vampires and ghouls thanks to Zawadi’s sunlight imbued shield.

They had emerged from the entry zone to find themselves in a room with a gladiator-like pit in the center. Unfortunately for the group, the man watching over the pits was also a vampire, and Zawadi had left Sun Power activated. The Vamp attacked.

Quinley immediately jumped into the pit to save the helpless captives trapped there with two vrocks. Among those trapped was Shalendra Floshin, last seen jumping into the Bloodgate when a devil appeared.

Quinley quickly dispatched the vrocks along with Aldric and Threskel while Artrios, Zawadi, and Magus were left to deal with the Vampire Overlord. A few smites later, and the vampire was reduced to ashes. Among those ashes was a gate key.

Next to the pit chamber, there was a room filled with prisms and a sarcophagus. Upon viewing the prisms, doppelgangers of Tyr, Sloth, Qwertius, and Aldric emerged. These copies were swiftly dealt with, and the group discovered that the sarcophagus was an attunement point for the gate keys. Once the keys were attuned and the group had rested, they split into their two teams again, with Team Chaos going south from the pit room and Team Insanity taking the East path.

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Doomvault Zone 1
Threskel's Dispatch - Week 4

The combined party – Quinley, Zawadi, Artrious, Aldrik, Tyr, and Cordius (sic) – emerged into second room following last week’s ambush on the other side of the Doomvault entrance gate. Temporarily disoriented, Magus (and Sloth) and I found ourselves inside a large pit arena with twenty some other unarmed people (including Shalendra Floshin and Kelson Darktreader).

We faced two crazed vrocks, while a vampire laughed at our struggle to keep the demons back. Thankfully Magus and I were not disarmed before we tossed into the pit. Seems the be-damned vampire sought enjoy a bit of sport, watching us battle to protect the others. I don’t know, however, if he was a mere thrall or a Thayan apprentice. No time to discern with our life’s on the line.

A shadow passed over our heads. It was Quinley, diving down into the pit to with glee. Magus and I positioned ourselves as a barrier against the Vrock’s advance. Above along the pit rim, we noted Artrious, Zawadi, Cordius and Tyr take defensive stances to engage the vampire. Zawadi’s shield shone as bright as the sun. The vampire screeched and sneered at the light.

Quinley quickly swung Blackrazor and his rapier, severing the vrock’s arm with ease and lodging Blackrazor into its side. It uttered a screeching high-pitched squak-hiss and gazed at him with hot hatred. At the same time, I swung both my weapons, wounding the second vrock. Magus and Sloth attacked both vrock. One of the vrocks bit savagely into Sloth with its beak. At the same time, a pustule burst on its skin, releasing deadly spores. With the welcome blessings of Bahumut and Helm, no one was effected by this deadly corruption. Both were destroyed; sent back to the Abyss.

Meanwhile, above us, Artrious swept his flamebrand against the vampire, calling upon Helm’s righteous fury. He was riddled by arrows and the splash of a Melf’s acid arrow. Sloth, commanded to utilize a ring of flying, ascended from the pit. He proceeded to pummel and crush the vampire’s body.

Held in place by the sunlight and succumbing to this assault, the vampire burst into flame and crumbled into a fine dust. His soul is now at rest. A crystal glyph pendant fell from the debris. This pendant will assist our further exploration. We attuned

Reaching into my bag of holding, I uncoiled my rope and tossed it up to our waiting comrades. Artrious held it steady, enabling us to extricate Shalendra, Kelson, and the twenty-some defenseless prisoners.

Our party was unsure of Shalendra’s motivations, given her rash rush into the Bloodgate after Baazaka’s emergence. The suggestion was made to shackle her, in order to avoid splitting the party to keep watch. Owing to my prior relations with the Floshin family, I advocated on her behalf to the others. I asked Kelson take charge of her and safety of the freed prisoners. To arm him, I yielded my longsword. We asked them to wait momentarily, so we could find a contact stone to attune all the keys.

We then pressed on down the corridor to the south of the arena. Looking around, we saw a propped open coffin on a dais located at the room’s center. Black velvet draped the walls. Prisms studded the walls at intervals. A wave of nausea hit us upon entering the room. Suddenly, shadowy mirror images of Tyr, Sloth, Aldrik, and Cordius materialized and moved to attack us.

We were taken aback, fearing the fell sorcery would might visit wounds inflicted upon the mirror duplicates onto their real doubles. Quinley and I quickly dispatched the Sloth double. Seeing no wounds rebound, the rest of our party quickly engaged the remaining doubles.

Our early hesitance was not without its consequences. The Tyr double laid a fireball down amongst our party. Through nimbleness, all of us – excepting Magus and Artrious – took minor damage. Artrious suffered the brunt of the flames, with his plate armor absorbing the heat and scorching him. Strangely, Magus seemed not at all effected as he ambled through the blast. I could see only a few burn marks on his robes.

The battle quickly became a chaotic struggle. Tyr launched a cone of blistering frost into his double. He yelled in rage, taking the fireball as a (self-perpetrated) affront. His double was destroyed. Quinley and Artrious cut down the Cordius double, while our combined efforts finished the Aldrik duplicate.

Searching the sarcophagus, we collected six scrolls (three each of detect magic and comprehend languages) and a writing kit (containing 15 sheets of paper). As we shall be splitting our parties next week, we should distribute these treasures. At the minimum, Tyr and Magus – as am I – are skilled as scribes. Who knows when we shall have need of the scrolls.

Having just received a third glyph, we attuned each glyph key to each other. We surrendered the third key to Kelson who returned with the others to the Gatehouse. I suspect we may have need of his assistance later.

Saying our goodbyes, we took rest in the entry point room, near the gate. Tyr and I took turns keeping watch, while the others slept. Prayers were made and spellbooks were studied.

I spent a bit of time drafting a circuitous, two-page nonsense document, which included intermittent passages scribed in Loross (Netherese) and Espurar (Elvish), and false identity. I made use of my disguise kit: hide my hair and pointy ears and apply false facial tattoos. Thankfully, my moon elven ancestry provides me sallow complexion (matching that of Mulan descent).

I think we could easily run a long con when we encounter lack-witted Thayans: We would pose as bounty hunters – per the commandment of the Lord Szass Tam – to scour and capture threats wondering the countryside. One or more of us serve as “prisoners” (in unlocked manacles), being transported through each zone.

Used altogether with duplicity, I believe it will smooth my squad’s passage. With the smiles of Tymora and the Green Changeling, we will have no cause to slip these false identities ….

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Dead In Thay - Week 3
The Doomvault

After destroying the Bloodgate, the group awoke in a dark room with the image of a female red wizard floating before them.

The Red Wizard told them that they had been safely extracted from the Bloodgate Nexus at the last moment when their allies had failed to do so. In exchange, this wizard wanted a favor.

It turns out that the group had been dropped into the Doomvault, a series of dungeons and laboratories in Thay. Buried deep in these vaults is a room where the phylactory of Szass Tam, necromancer lord of Thay, is kept.

By the way, the exits are sealed. Your only way to escape now is to destroy Tam’s power.

From the darkened room, the group emerged into a room where some undead goons were waiting. The goons were soon dispatched.

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The Bloodgate Nexus (Week 2)
Threskel's Dispatch

Our three squads spilled out of a gate into the Bloodgte Nexus and within the midst of a garish blood ritual….

At the room’s margins, we saw eight raised diases with sacrificial platforms. The East and West platforms were still occupied by shackled individuals and blade-wielding sacrificer Red Wizards. Blood flowed down from dead victims down through channels to power the glowing, opening Bloodgate, at the room’s center. At the gate’s center was a Red Wizard lich, Tarul Var, focusing the power and attempting to fix open the gate – to enable hordes of undead and Thayan forces to emerge.

The lich screamed, “Slay them!” We were immediately beset by four skeletal warriors. Our party snapped to action, working against the disparate foes.

I launched off an arrow to grievously wound the Western sacrificer, a Thayan apprentice. Aldrik flung Whelm to wound the Eastern sacrificer, a full-fledged Red Wizard. The apprentice was soon after dispatched. It took a bit more effort to take out the Eastern Wizard. Magus flung several magic missles into the foe. As a result, the gate was robbed of its fuel – lifesblood.

In the foreground, Quinley, Artrious, and Sloth engaged the group of skeletons. Quinley and Blackrazor single-handedly slayed three(?) of the skeletons – feeding upon their essence and granting Quinely their strength.

The lich then summoned two darkenbeasts to disrupt our progress. They were quickly destroyed, with Quinley absorbing more life essence. Eight wights emerged from the gate to harry our efforts. Thankfully they surrounded and attacked Sloth – who was immune to their attacks – and tied them up from attacking the group.

Meanwhile, several of us advanced to attack the lizard. Quinley laid a devastating series of attacks on the lich and the gate.

At this time, Mennek – our Red Wizard “ally” – rushed toward the gate screaming, “Baazaka, the way is open! Now help me escape!” Thereafter, a huge pit fiend partially emerged from the gate. It sported a shattered sword blade protruding from its breast. Mennek disappeared into the gate. Shalendra Floshin shouted “Baazaka!”, rushed the gate, and the gate’s flames engulfed her, and her brother, Kelson, who rushed to protect her. Both disappeared.

The fiend bellowed, “Now, for those who care to listen, I have a bargain for you. Pull the blade from my chest, and I will shatter the Bloodgate for you.” Amazingly, we were threatened from two fronts – a lich and a pit fiend.

Zawadi, Artrious, and I were understandly reluctant to make even the simplest bargain with a Baatezu. Gambling with our lives to save this corner of Toril was a worthwhile wager. I landed a sneak attack with Cat’s Fang and Claw. Artrious and Aldrik failed to force the sword blade deeper. Zawadi landed the coup de grace – Baazaka was banished from Toril. As he faded, he pledged to bring damnation upon our future kin. Two of us, Tyr and I, mentally prepared to face him again. Vigilance against evil.

Baazaka’s banishment was an unanticipated boon. It distabilized and crippled the Bloodgate. The Nexus began to collapse as we were teleported elsewhere. All went black.

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Assaulting The Elemental Nodes
Threskel's Dispatch (Week 1)

Last session our adventuring band began their quest to destroy the Bloodgate, a growing Thayan incursion threatening the Sword Coast. We commenced at the Floshin Estates, meeting the paladin Sir Isteval; Jek Ironfist (dwarf); the half-elf ranger Kelson Darktreader; two elven nobles, and Darfin and Shalendra Floshin. I was happy to happen an opportunity to consult with them all prior to setting out on this mission. I owe Lord Floshin a debt of gratitude for helping equip me for the oncoming battles.

We received intelligence from a Red Wizard rebel and defector, who knows how to deactivate the Bloodgate – by means of destroying four elemental nodes. We needed to recover keys from each node to stop the fulfillment a blood rite that would open the gate. I suspect Szass Tam intends to establish a large foothold, near Daggerford, to crush Waterdeep and expand his undead legions and empire into the North of Faerun. The Seldarine and Lady Luck know what other goals Szass Tam seeks to accomplish.

Several party members were reticent to trust the word of this source, but my reading of his character suggests he desire is genuine – to disrupt this Thayan incursion and counter the necromancer Szass Tam’s stranglehold on his homeland. It was also clear that our drow mage, Tyr, has considerable interest in the gate’s operation. This bears further musing. We may need to keep him on a short leash. Let us hope this was merely professional, not personal, interest in the magics governing its operation.

Our group split into two four person squads – to attack the separate nodes. Squad one consisted of Aldrik, Zawadi, Magus (w/ Sloth), and myself. The second squad consisted of Quinley, Artrious, Tyr and (although absent) Nisha. We opted to assault the air elemental node first, while the second group went to attack the earth node. Both assaults were successful. The others heroes planned to attack the other nodes and monitor our progress. Aldrik and Quinley donned circlets of telepathy to coordinate our attacks and communicate with Isteval.

Squad 1:
Upon materializing, we were attacked by two dust-devil air elementals. We countered their attacks through strength of arms. Sloth, the flesh golem, attacked and aided in their quick dispatch.

After observing our surroundings, we tried to gather an understanding of the key and the active node, which was shaped like a hourglass. I immediately suspected a trap. We divined an lightening enchantment lay upon the node and key. Zawadi, drawing on his bronze-dragon heritage, suffered minor damage extracting the key.

However, its removal precipitated a second attack by further air elementals, in this case three grue. Sloth was wounded during his attack. Zawadi inadvertently struck one of the grue with his breath weapon, while trying to heal Sloth. We combined our efforts, making short work of the guardians.

As we rushed back to the portal, our path was blocked by five Thayan swordsmen. The Red Wizards had clearly become alerted our presence and meddling. We shortly thwarted their defense of the portal. Aldrik drew upon Whelm’s power stunning two of the men. We managed also to knock two of the fighters prone, while cutting the last man to ribbons. As a parting shot, I turned to curse and belittle their efforts, by yanking my ears. We then sped through portal, thereby destroying the node and the Thayans.

Aldrik also became the center of two the encounters most unexpected twists. He effectively weaved behind his way past the three fighters. Sloth subsequently hurled him as if he was a ball through the portal.

Squad 2:
Sadly, as we have not yet had time to confer, my understanding of the earth node assault is sketchy. As I noted before, it was entirely successful and that the squad faced comparable challenges and foes to recover the earth node key. Aldrik reported to me that Blackrazor drank essence deeply from two foes, thereby augmenting Quinley’s strength and fighting prowess. When we have a moment to consult, I can supplement this account.

Conclusion:
Both squads materialized in the middle of large room in midst of the blood rite’s performance by Red Wizards and a prominent lich archmage. Dark and empty! We pick up our story from this moment next week.

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