In the Shadow of the Gods

Adventure Summary - 08/08/2015
"The Road Ahead..."

Our group of adventurers took some much needed downtime to shop for gear, browse jobs, and gather intelligence.

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In the aftermath of the ambush on Mount Waterdeep, the temple/town guard interviewed all the players involved to get information on the incident.

The remains of the Helm of Glory are brought back to the Temple to Helm. Upon investigation, it is revealed that the Helm is a very convincing forgery. The Temple now ponders where Sir Tain’s real Helm may lie. Cedric is investigating.

The Spirit Plague is getting worse. Reports are filtering in that the plague is spreading. It started in the south outside of the kingdom of Amn and is slowing working its way outwards. Cedric learned that the Spirit Plague saps life force, causing those infected to seek out more nourishing life energy to drain from other beings. The curse of the infection is that the more life force is consumed, the quicker it is depleted.

Vectors of infection require an affected person to grapple the victim and once grappled a link is formed by which the darkness that dwells within the carry reaches out assaulting the intended victim with an attack that saps their life energy.

The group also checked the local “adventurers” board, and discovered a job clearing a dragon from lands of a local Lord outside the city of Loudwater.

Alton, of the Temple to Helm conversed with Cedric and his hunch is that the Dragonriders made east to reach the Anauroch Desert, a vast magical desert once containing the kingdom of the Netherese.

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The reason being is that the desert contains the Tombs of the Six. The crypts that are sprinkled throughout the Serpent Hills are not Netherese, but were left by the Anauria, a survivor-state that rose from the rubble of Netheril’s fall.

Anauria persisted a little more than 400 years before it fell to one of the Orc hordes that periodically rampage from the north. Some of the crypts of its nobles and kings, holed up in their last bastion, are rumored to be filled with treasure and ancient magic. Others have been looted and reconstructed as domiciles for yuan-ti and their slaves. The Tombs of the Six is composed of half a dozen non-breached, catacomb-linked caverns containing the remains of elder Anaurian counselors interred with their immediate families.

Like all Anaurian tombs, the Tombs of the Six are defended by many threats among them a spatial distortion that forces would-be tomb raiders to trek across portions of the Abyss. It is this reason that Alton fears the Mrykul cultist have fled, the creator of the Mask of the Betrayer, Achagi, is imprisoned there on the Abyss.

After finishing their shopping and information gathering, the group gets their mounts sorted and they begin their trek from Waterdeep to the next stop on the way east, the walled village of Daggerford.

While at the village, late at night the party and inn patrons are awoken to a shouting scuffle in the common room. It turns out the innkeeper was being roughed up by local men-at-arms who discovered a valuable magic item left in the innkeepers possession has turned up missing.

The party agrees to help the innkeeper and they discover that his wife has been held hostage by Goblins who have infiltrated the town to steal the item, since it is a weapon against them.

The group successfully fends off the Goblins, saves the innkeepers wife, and gain Neeblik, a goblin rogue sworn to service to the group in exchange for his life.

After sorting out the issue they crawl back into bed for some much needed rest.

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Adventure Summary - 08/01/2015
"I walk through the valley of darkness..."

After the players made their daring escape from the Juggernaut silo, they regrouped in Waterdeep and spent some much needed rest and downtime to recuperate.

The next day, Cedric joined the procession of Sir Tains day as it made its way along the streets of Waterdeep to the mountain along the coastline that Waterdeep surrounded.

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As the remaining members of the procession and the party made their way up the trail to a sacred location upon Mount Waterdeep, the clergy of Helm were ambushed. Buried explosive alchemic mixtures set off a deadly chain of blasts that killed the majority of the procession members and injured some of the party.

Next they were set upon by Mrykul Cultist and Hill Giants. The players dealt with the ambush as the cultist made off with the mask fragment that was later discovered to have been in the Helm of Glory.

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The players pursued the the cultist only to discover they had planned a rendezvous with a squad of Dragonriders that made off with the cultist and the fragment. Cedric saw this through his spyglass and related the events to the rest of the team.

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To be continued.

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Adventure Summary - 06/27/2015
"You must have this much EXP to ride..."

The players entered through the secret door which lead them into a long abandoned silo housing an ancient machine of battle used long ago in a period of conflict known as the Titan Wars.

Long ago, in another age, Titan’s, a race of giantkin grew evil and power hungry, they threatened not only the power of the deities, but also sought to overrule all of mortal kind.

The elder races such as elves and dwarves, threw aside their squabbles and mistrust with the fledging race of human kind and conspired to overthrow their oppressive Titan overlords.

Built in secret, and at great peril, the combined talent of the races produced some mighty and giant war machines known as . Towering up to 300 ft in height, weighing unknown tons, these magically powered constructs fought the evil Titan race, and overthrew their oppressors. It was known to history as the Titan War.

After the threat was over, the races slowly and inexorably fell back into isolationism, mistrust, and war.

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The overtly powerful constructs they collaborated on were systematically destroyed, for even though the relations among the races were tense, they all feared such a powerful weapon falling into the wrong hands. All but believed destroyed, and their knowledge forgotten, until now.

The party infiltrated the construct when it was discovered that an operation to uncover and use the Mythal stored at the heart of the machine was being coordinated between Drow and Grey Dwarves. When fighting broke out the group used the confusion to their advantage especially when the scene became quite chaotic when the Drow betrayed the Dwarves with an agreement with a beholder.

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As the battle ensued, the players managed to steal the mask fragment, fight off the Drow and Dwarves, and narrowly escape the silo with their flying carpet as the juggernaut crashed down within the ancient silo and exploded, the once dormant mythal releasing its arcane energy in a giant burst.

Heading back to Waterdeep they rested and regrouped to continue the quest for the last fragment.

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Adventure Summary - 06/20/2015
"Riiiiight...."

Our intrepid heroes rested and recuperated in the city of Waterdeep. While there, they followed up with some information gleaned from Edvar’s network to investigate the remains of Cliffwatch Inn.

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The Inn had been fenced off and guards posted when strange noises, lights, and shadows produced themselves much to the concern of the local citizenry.

After persuading a guard to have them gain entrance, the group investigated the long abandoned Inn (which had been nearly destroyed decades earlier by a series of magical explosions) and found that many contraptions had been set about the Inn playing illusions to keep people away.

Once this was discovered, the party entered the cellar of the Inn and Amariel found a hidden tunnel placed behind a bookcase.

Opening the secret entrance revealed a sloping tunnel, leading down to a chamber that contained tracks, mining carts, and coach that allowed for seating of persons to ride down into the tunnels. The party got on board and descended.

They traveled for several minutes winding down further when the chain-links that drove the mining carts broke. Cedric and Anton brought the runaway carts under control before they pitched themselves onto a rickety bridge spanning a chasm with an underground river at the bottom.

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Finding a path that lead them down to the river and safe place to cross, they took a different tunnel and found themselves in an area of more deliberate construction. It was here they encountered a large steel door with a sign riveted upon it “Unit 30 – Deployment Chamber”.

Once they disabled the explosive runes trap on the door and opened it they were greeted with an incredibly huge cylindrical chamber that was discovered to serve as a launch tube for a 300 ft tall juggernaut that resembled a warforged construct. They also stumbled upon an extraction operation being carried out by slaves of the Gray Dwarves and the Dark Elves.

Amariel and Bryony investigated closer, with Bryony infiltrating the construct to discover that the Gray Dwarves and the Drow were looking to unearth an incredibly powerful magical artifact known as a Mythallar (a large arcane device that generates an incredible amount of magical energy, invented by the Nethereese).

However, there was an unexpected discovery as well, as it appears that hidden within the warfogred juggernaut was a fragment of the Mask of the Betrayer. An artifact Bryony instantly recognized.

Dun…dun…dun….. :)

To be continued!

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Adventure Summary - 06/06/2015
"I am a vampire!"

The group settled into the cave questioning Perric and partaking of the hermit’s food. They talked into the night until Perric grew weary and slipped off to sleep.

During the night, Amariel awoke to a strange noise only to see horrifically that Perric was being feasted upon by the hermit. it was learned late that the hermit was Morvath Turner, a vampire dwelling near the ridge and in alliance with House Strahd.

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Chasing Morvath through the maze that eventually lead to his lair, the party blasted away vampire spawn and giant spiders.

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When they arrived at his lair, Anton unleashed a deadly fury of magical attacks that crippled the vampire and lead to his quick elimination.

Once they retrieved the mask fragment the decision was made to kill Perric. Amariel unleashed an arrow but succeeded in only killing what was left of Perric’s humanity. His Bhaal spawn bloodline consumed him and he left the Shadowfell to seek his ascension. In his wake, the party was left with an exit that dropped them outside the gates of Waterdeep in the north.

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Upon entering the city, the group caught up with news of the realm, and rested and blessed themselves. They discovered that reports down south of a vicious plague is spreading among various townships, consuming those afflicted with a rapid deterioration and high fever. If they make it through this stage, they become rabid, chasing down others and consuming their life force to sustain them.

The party’s stronghold projects are coming along nicely, but the Elturiel noble houses are in turmoil since the assassination of the Lady Cardanion.

Cedric visited the Temple to Helm in the Sea Ward of Waterdeep , and as a Paladin of Helm was asked to participate in the procession to Honor Sir Tain, a saint of the Church of Helm as it were. For the celebration, the temple leads a procession of clergy, clerics, Paladins through the streets of Waterdeep to ancient carved stone steps set within the side of the highest peak overlooking the city, Greatwatch Mountain. The procession recreates the steps Sir Tain took to climb the mounting to a standing stone with the Great Eye of Helm carved upon it. It was there Sir Tain meditated for guidance and won a strategic victory in defense of the city long ago.

You also heard confirmation of information you acquired before. The Cliffwatch Inn, nearly destroyed decades ago by a series of magical explosions, how has been fenced off and guarded due to strange noises, lights, and other creepy happenstance occurring at the Inn as of late. Edvar’s network of information gatherers points to this situation as worthy of investigation.

These clues take you that much closer to finding the other pieces of the Mask of the Betrayer.

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Adventure Summary - 05/23/2015
"Surprise!"

The party landed upon the Temple of Dust making their way up the steep crumbling stairs to the entry way located upon the top of the temple.

Inspecting the area they discovered, it is revealed that a circular stone shaft, with a rope dangling from the center capstone lowers itself down onto the floor of the chamber below.

Taking their carpet they float down the shaft, bypassing the rope which turned out to be trapped, and landed in the chamber. Amariel cast a spell to sense danger in the immediate area, and discovered several mummies lying in wait for intruders.

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They fought off the mummies and found some small treasure amidst their wrappings. Searching the sealed chamber intently they discovered a secret door which upon opening revealed a square stone shaft dropping off into pitch darkness.

They harnessed and tethered Bryony and proceeded to drop her into the shaft. The rope went slack and when they pulled it up, the harness was empty.

They sent in their animal companions and then jumped into the darkness only to materialize into a grand worship chamber. When they all appeared the room shook and a ceiling mounted barred cage dropped upon them.

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Trapped, the Dust Queen stirred and called upon her spectral children to attack what she believed was thieves after her precious treasures. The fight was difficult but the party prevailed.

After their defeat the heroes found the urn containing the ashes of Surtr along with some great treasures and gems.

They flew upon their carpet out of the temple, over the city, and into the Bleak Hollows, where they eventually made it to Dark Howl ridge.

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Amariel broke the urn upon the ridge scattering the ashes of the slain god into the Canyon of Sorrows. Their marks disappeared and the ashes flashed like red fireworks in the screaming winds.

As they came back from the ridge an old hermit hailed them and offered them shelter from the winds in his cave. The party accepted the man’s offer and when he brought them back to his hermit home they encountered a much welcome surprise…Perric.

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Adventure Summary - 05/16/2015
"The valley of darkness..."

The party rested on the far side of the under ground lake before tackling the giant arched door emblazoned with the symbol of Orcus.

After meticulously checking the skull stairs and doorway for traps, the group opened the door and inspected the next chamber to greet them.

On the opposing side of the room stood a menacing stone door. Resting on a stone altar in the center of the room lay a corpse, laying upon its back, mouth open, eyes staring blankly to the ceiling a candle floats above its mouth. The dark flame of the candle cast a strong necrotic glow that eerily illuminated the room

Bryony used her mage hand to snag a parchment from the altar as Cedric had his bear patrol.

The recovered parchment has a riddle and some drawings.

The riddle was as thus:

“I’ve little strength, but mighty powers;
I guard small hovels and great towers.
But if perchance my master leaves,
He must secure me to be at ease.”

The drawings showed a figure with arms outstretched above them within a sunburst. A tear drop is suspended above the sunburst and the figure. In the subsequent drawing, the sunburst and the teardrop are gone the figure remains.

The party attempted to snuff out the candle, but their first attempt succeeded in spawning a team of wights. After putting them down, they did some further investigation and realized they needed to douse the candle in blessed water. Once done, the corpse on the altar expunged the key needed to move out of the room.

Entering a vast cavern resembling the interior of a large decaying chest cavity, the group encountered the eye of Surtr. The eye is what is left of the former demon god before they were slain by Orcus. Orcus left the eye with some of the life force of the deity to have it bear witness for eternity the rule of Orcus as Demon Prince of the Undead.

Surtr however has grown incredibly weary of his sentence and 30,000 + years of imprisonment has left him wanting to simply just fade into nothingness. Part of his price to allow the party to move forward in the Shadowfell is to complete a quest of his need.

His quest, which the party accepted and were marked by the fallen god to complete, lies within the Shadow Realm. There, the Prince has kept the means by which Surtr may pass back into the primordial abyss in which he was spawned. To finally, and truly die.

The group must seek an urn, encrusted with daemonic runes, which holds a portion of his remains reduced to black ash. To release him, the urn must be taken to a hill within the Shadow Realm known to the inhabitants as Dark Howl ridge. From there, the eternal blowing of the winds filled with the screams and wails of damned souls, is the urn to be broken, and his ashes scattered into the turbulent air breaking the curse and allowing his essence to dissipate into the abyss.

The party submitted to being marked by Surtr, the symbol appearing on their neck below their ear as a skull with gaping jaw holding a sunburst.

After the agreement was made, they traversed into the Shadowfell where they met with Arkanis, a grey elf priest of the Ashen Brotherhood. The Ashen Brotherhood is a spiritual sect among the Grey Elves, and to fulfill their rites, they must spend a period of time both in prime plain, the Fey Wild, and the Shadowfell so as to obtain a balance of their existence.

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Arkanis explains that the Ashen Brotherhood’s main tenets of its belief structure is to strive for harmony between forces for good and evil in the realms. They believe too much of either force threatens to unbalance the equilibrium that the natural world exerts upon those that inhabit it.

They learned from Arkanis that a ripple of energy was felt by the domain when a powerful artifact was brought into it. The source of this ripple emanates from an area known as the Bleak Hollows. The hollows are a thick forest spreading for miles and hiding untold dangers and secrets. There, Dark Howl ridge resides, overlooking an area aptly named the Canyon of Sorrow, a winding trench of rock and land that is scoured by the Wailing Winds, the very winds the party seeks to cast the ashes.

As the urn, Arkanis relates it would most likely be located in a ruin known as the Temple of Dust in an area called the Shadow Wastes. It is a nexus of ghosts, wraiths, shades, and other unquiet threats comprised of those that refuse, or are unable, to release the shackle’s that bind their spirit here and traverse to the Fugue Plane. The temple is part of a ruined city, its name long forgotten, languishing in a desert of gray sand. It lies to the south and east. Within the Temple lies a strong and ancient force known as the Dust Queen, a collector or rare and beautiful objects so the legend is told.

The party compiles their information and heads southeast to rid themselves of Surtr’s quest.

The reach the protective mountain range of the lost desert city, and the only visible entrance is a semi-circular shaft going up some 2500 ft containing a stairwell and platform.

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Finding and manipulating the controls for the lift, they go up about half-way and encounter an issue with the lift causing it to jam. Amareil tethers herself and goes under the lift to clear the jam, almost falling but is caught by her wolf and Cedric.

They complete the ride to the top and find in a nearby ruined shack, containing two rolled up rugs that turn out to be large flying carpets.

Strapping the carpets together, and securing themselves, they take off over the valley of the desert city, spotting the Temple of Dust upon which they land, and prepare to enter.

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Adventure Summary - 04/11/15
"The belly of the beast..."

Our adventurers gathered additional information from the farmers before settling in for the night to quest to the marshlands in an effort to capture the Mask Fragment from Perric.

Phillip shared with the party something that turned up in his fields, a 5" diameter stone disk with a symbol of the Demon Prince of Undead (Orcus) emblazoned upon one side, and a set of incomplete music notes upon the other.

Starting off in the cold gray dawn, a fresh blanket of snow upon the ground, our group headed towards the location of some temple ruins with features that match the disk found.

They got within approximately 1200 yards of the ruins before being set upon by zombies lurching from the ground and will-o-wisps flitting quickly across the landscape.

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After Varis successfully turns the undead, the party ventures forth to the temple ruins.

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Within the ruins they find a capstone set within the ground and work as a team to pry it up. Damakos scouts the revealed stairwell which gradually descends into the pitch darkness some 100 ft before stopping at a thick stone door. To the right of the door a carved demon head with a flicking tongue and set of wooden keys embedded within the stone wall contain music notes that match the ones upon the stone disk.

Amariel works on deciphering the notes, as Bryony translates the demonic script etched upon the door which comes to read:

“Here layeth Surtr, slain by the mighty Orcus (the date given is roughly calculated to be 30,000 years before the Common Era). May his corpse serve as an example of dominion by the Demon Prince of the Undead.”

Once the notes are played the door opens into a room. The group, upon opening the door, see a gaping maw of a gargantuan jaw jutting from the ground with massive spiked teeth. A field of force shimmers around the opening with a low hum of energy. Two crumbling statues flank the entrance, warrior demons that look down upon any in the vicinity fiercely.

Additional searches reveal that one of the statues has a magical aura about it, and Damakos pries a smudgy gem from its eye socket. Varis discovers that a sequence of pictographs encircle the warded entrance, showing a figure holding up an object to a line and the line disappearing. As they solve the riddle, Cedric tosses a stone which is instantly repulsed by the field and sends a shock-wave of damage across the whole of the group.

Damakos presents the gem to the field and it is quickly absorbed.

Beyond the field is a underground lake within a low hanging cavern extending on for an interminable distance into the darkness. The depth of the underground lake is also interminable (it could be bottomless).

Tied to a rotting dock is a flat bottom barge. There are no oars, but once seated the ropes magically fall from being tethered at the dock, and the boat lurches at a nominal pace, a skeletal torso impaled through a stake and attached to the stern mans the steering oar.

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As the group presses forward across they lake, they are almost ambushed by a squad of flameskulls that erupt from the water and blast the party with fire attacks. The group fights back as their boat smolders eventually defeating the skulls and reaching the opposing shoreline.

As before, a stairway of skulls embedded in the ground go up some 20ft to a arched doorway set in the rock, the symbol of Orcus carved into the door.

To be continued.

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Adventure Summary - 03/21/2015
"Winter is coming..."

Our intrepid adventurers went forth to arrange for the upgrades and remodeling to their stronghold. To secure a trustworthy crew of builders they traveled from Elturel to Baldur’s Gate.

Baldur’s Gate was teeming with crowds for Founders Day, a festival spanning several days of speeches, goods, and performances. The party tracked down and contracted Gwinning’s Goods and Services, a shop dedicated to providing some of the finest labor in the city.

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After ironing out the details, the group made their way back to Elturel, but was needing to find shelter at the edge of an area of land dubbed the “Fields of The Dead”. They approached a farmsted but were initially rebuffed by the inhabitants. After convincing them they wished them no harm, they were allowed to sup in the house and sleep it the stables. While they ate, Cedrick related to Damakos that he had sensed a hotspot of evil, centered upon a young boy of the farmsted named Perric.

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It was later discovered, when Varis cast a zone of truth and questioned the boy’s guardians, that they learned of Perric’s struggle with his darkness and the fact that he had a fragment of the mask of the betrayer, which was learned by information they had gathered from asking about the the other adventuring company. The fragment, it was further learned, helped keep his dark linage at bay as dark hunters of the boy had visited themselves upon the farmers, claiming Perric was “destined to ascend” and fulfill the rule of a dark god.

It was too late however to confront Perric, as he had somehow, presumably through the power of his heritage, the mask, or both, formed a tear in the planes and escaped into the Shadowfell.

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Adventure Summary - 03/14/2015
"Oh what a tangled web we weave..."

The group finished fighting the hell hounds and then made there way into the common room of the stronghold to investigate their options.

One winding stairwell went down, to the dungeons, armory, and storage. The other, up to sleeping quarters and a study.

The party decided to step downstairs and investigate the dungeons and armory. When they reached the lower level they were greeted with the main entrance to the dungeons. Damakos freed the lock and the party stepped into the lower level. They found a processing table, archives, the armory, cells, and also other cells that had been converted into storage. In one of those cells they came across a hidden leather messenger bag bearing the sigil of House Selession. In it, documents and letters showed a brewing love affair between two members of the rival houses. Tomas Selession, a mage in the employ of House Cardanion, was discovered and sentenced to exile in a pocket dimension of chaos for breech of contract and treasonous actions against his house. The object of his love was similarly exiled.

Documents also contained messages intended for the adviser’s of House Cardanion and showed that a mage/alchemist employed by them was conducting experiments at the stronghold in pulling together multiple dimensions to exist in one location. Needless to say, that experiment failed.

Gathering what they could in the armory, they were about to inspect the dungeons when a tremor was felt throughout the stronghold and they were instantly transported to a small room with two entrance ways. After choose one door and opening it several times, they were finally able to access the upper level of the main hall. Damakos investigated the rooms until they found the study of Jarek Cardanion. The study was adrift in snow but a journal upon a reading pedestal confirmed the documents found below and offered clues on what the party faced and how to fix the web of dimensions.

Cedric found a hidden stairwell behind the bookcase in the study, and the group traveled down to a sub level that contained Jarek’s secret laboratory.

They faced animated armor and a clay golem, in addition to the crystal that was at the heart of the dimension web disruption. They eventually put down the golem, defeated the animated armor and poured the quicksilver on the crystal, ending ill-fated experiment.

They searched the laboratory and found several items including a pewter skull of necrotic power, iron dice, gold pieces, and other items. Also, they discovered a painting that when reached into transported them to a storehouse and apartment in the city of Elturel, that belonged to Jarek.

Arranging a wrap up with Arondel, they concluded their task, signed agreements to take on the Barony of the stronghold, and also discovered, much to their dismay, that the Lady Ardessa of Cardanion had been assassinated.

Until next time.

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