The group needed to do a bit of healing and decided to rest on the ground floor of the wizard's tower since no one wanted to be a popsicle if they rested upstairs in Vandomar's freezer room. After preparing their spells and doing some healing they left the tower and made their way over to the ruined building where the guardian wraith had appeared. the day was very gloomy and the dark clouds threatened rain soon. The thunder and lightning were already at it making everyone's mood a bit dour this morning.
Once again, When he got about ten feet away, a vague black silhouette of an armored figure materialized outside the doors, accompanied by an otherworldly cold. he repeated the same words as before, "Only the bearer of the lonely sword passes this way unharmed," it says. "Vandomar must open the seal." Asphodel this time held the sword in front of her, and approached slowly. When she was only five feet away the spirit looked at her and said, "The Lonely Sword," and disappeared. Next, Zerak approached as well and read the words on the strange scroll they had found. When he finished, a large, previously invisible glyph in the shape of an enormous dragon's head on the doors glowed brightly for a few seconds then disappeared. The party was then able to open the doors without a problem. They swung open outwards slowly and silently to reveal a building interior that hadn't seen anything except for dirt and dust for centuries. Asphodel cautiously peered in and slowly made her way inside the large room. There were four eight foot tall stone statues of human knights of Bahamut; three were holding swords. One held a sword pointing up, the other pointing down, and the third held the sword sideways. She detected magic in the room but couldn't see what it was from since there was a wall running north-south in the middle of the room, blocking the view to the other half. She made her way slowly around the interceding wall as the rest of the party slowly made their way into the room, with Zola skirting around the far side of the wall. Past the wall she saw a large rectangular broken table, a spiral staircase leading up to a second floor choked with fallen debris from above, and a large chest past the table near the opposite corner.
Blackwell went up to the chest to examine it. He saw that there were four slots in the front of the chest, each about the size of a sword's blade and evenly spaced apart. But before he could examine the chest further, five armored wraiths materialized about the room. One said, "They have the Lonely Sword." Then another spoke and said, "But none of them are Vandomar." With that, the five drew they ghostly swords in unison and began the attack! Zola began the attack using her newly acquired holy morning star since it would do more damage against the wraiths than a normal magic weapon would. Kel and Blackwell pulled out their ghost-touched weapons and began tearing into the creatures. The wraiths in addition to their negative energy damage they did, they also were draining the heroes' constitution with nearly every landed hit. Fortunately the heroes were able to beat down the threat fairly quickly and no succumbed to the damage and turned in a wraith themselves. Once the creatures were destroyed and after they had a chance to do some healing (by spells and putting on some bandages of recovery), the party focused on the large chest with the sword slots in it. Blackwell and Asphodel got close to the chest and she inserted the icy sword, now known to them as the Lonely Sword, into the first slot in the chest, but just as the point was in the slot, the entire area erupted in a blast of crackling electricity, damaging Blackwell and Asphodel. So after that, Blackwell retreated and let Asphodel handle inserting the swords, just in case it kept doing that. But only the first sword set off the chest's defenses and the other three swords (the ones being held by the stone statues) went in with any issues. Once all four swords were inserted, the lid glowed brightly for a few seconds then opened to reveal a silver brazier and a small wooden box. The brazier matched the description of one of the sacred vessels that Sir Oakley was looking for and the box contained a dozen pearls of which Jobi gained ten of them for her jewelry making craft (only Blackwell kept his share of two pearls while the others gave their share to Jobi).
Jobi wanted to explore the upstairs floor of this building and decided that she was going to make another long-distance mirror so they could look past the debris and see if there was anything worth exploring. She deftly attached her small mirror to the end of her quarterstaff like she was a professional engineer, thereby impressing all with her skill. But they discovered that there was nothing of note on the upper level and would nearly be impossible to traverse the stairs up. Asphodel flew on the outside of the building and confirmed that the roof was all but completely collapsed in on the upper floor. So the party decided they were done here.
Now they had everything they could think of that they needed from the area except the rest of the cards from the Deck of Many things, which were still being elusive. So they decided to head back to the elves to drop off the Southern Scroll with Sir Berrian. After glimpsing it, he was very pleased with the party bringing it to him and said that he would study it later to see if there were any clues as to his father's whereabouts. After a quick discussion with the elves, they found out that Lord Padraig was to be soon marching troops upon Gardmore Abbey. So they took their leave and headed back to town to get Sir Oakley to purify the temple on Dragon's Roost.
Once back at Winterhaven, they noticed that there were even more troops in the area than last time. Lord Padraig was very pleased to see them back so soon and even more pleased to hear that all three relics of Bahamut had been discovered. He quickly sent for Sir Oakley and Valthruun. Valthruun was extremely happy to get his hands on the Winterbole Codex and gave the heroes a tidy sum of gold each for their efforts. When asked about the book, he explained that it was a treatise on how the Feywild and the Prime plane interacted and intersected with each other, which piqued Zerak's interest in the book. But therre was no time right now to study the book for everyone was in the final planning and readying stages for the invasion of Gardmore Abbey. Sir Oakley agreed that they would leave for Dragon's Roost as soon as possible, and the party agreed to get going right away. And so our stalwart band and Sir Oakley left for the temple.
Another two day uneventful journey had the party back at Dragon's Roost preparing for Sir Oakley to begin the ritual. He told them that their part was pretty simple in theory - protect him so he can finish the purification ritual undisturbed. So they all spread out away from the altar where Sir Oakley stood and began the ritual. He chanted for nearly five minutes before something happened. At first, it looked like the light was getting dimmer. Then all of a sudden, nine incorporeal creatures came up out of the stone floor, right in the midst of everyone and attacked. The party quickly identified them as shadows for the first few hits had our heroes feeling their strength being sapped away. Zola backed out of melee and prepared to enter into her element - she started blasting the shadows with her searing light spells. These spells were powerful enough that some of the shadows were destroyed with only a single hit. Kel used not only the sword, Moonstone, but also began channeling positive energy to help destroy the creatures. Blackwell was using his ghost-touched weapon in melee until he was able to use his Key card and get into ranged combat to use his bow, which he ended up breaking the bow string and going back to the melee weapon. Asphodel used her claws and even though she would only do half damage since the creatures were insubstantial, half of a lot of damage is still a pretty substantial amount of damage. She ended up by Sir Oakley's side because several of the shadows were ganging up on him and at one point he faltered and dropped to one knee, but still kept on with the ritual.
Jobi was using her magic missile spells to help destroy these evil beings along with some well placed healing spells. Zerak summoned a couple of hound archons to help beat down the creatures defenses, bolster the party's defenses, and to provide a couple extra hands at damaging these beasts. But a more powerful spirit made itself known and decided to concentrate on Zerak. It was a haunt - something immune to Kel's channeling energy bursts as well as incorporeal. Before all the shadows were destroyed, everyone helped Zerak with the haunt for it was causing Zerak to continue to back up and get out of the way. Even his lightning bolt didn't drop the damned creature. But our heroes prevailed before anyone was killed by these creatures. the haunt however, exploded in a great burst of negative energy that blasted everyone in the temple and also healed up the remaining shadow. But the party concentrated their efforts against it and it quickly fell. And shortly after they were all destroyed, Sir Oakley finished the ritual. Then in an amazing display of divine power the entire temple was bathed in a glorious golden light. This had the effect of not only healing all the damage the party and Sir Oakley had sustained but the entire temple was as if it was reborn, newly constructed, shiny and clean and filled everyone with joyous hope and happy feelings. Asphodel flew on outside to see if the orcs below had noticed what happened and discovered that they did. But they were only putting up defensive positions on the road up to Dragon's Roost while still mobilizing and preparing for the battle they knew was coming. A quick discussion led the party to the conclusion that they once again had to make the trek to Winterhaven to tell Lord Padraig about their and Sir Oakley's success at purifying the temple. They left straight away, all in better moods than they had been in for weeks. They met no opposition during their travels the first day and had a quiet, peaceful night in camp; everyone except Asphodel that is....
The next day, the sun was shining brightly and the world seemed a very cheery place as they continued on toward Winterhaven. While traveling, Zerak had noticed that Asphodel kept on holding, playing, and fidgeting with her cards and asked her what was wrong. Asphodel came to attention as if being snapped out a daydream and told him that nothing was wrong, even as she kept fiddling with her cards. When he asked her about what she was doing with her cards, she denied that she was doing anything; just holding them. And the tone in her voice made it seem she was a bit annoyed by the questions and attention she was now receiving. Blackwell began talking about being tired of this place and wanting to go home. Asphodel then said that they still had some more cards to find. They only had sixteen of the twenty two cards needed to assemble the full deck. He mentioned that he didn't care about finding the rest of the cards and was still ready to go home. This kind of shocked Asphodel who then said that she didn't want to go yet because she had to finish assembling the deck, the complete deck. Zerak said to her that he thought the cards were affecting her somehow, that they were influencing her decisions. Asphdoel denied that categorically and looked away, all the while continuing to play with the cards (no pun intended).
That night at camp...
the next afternoon, the party was still talking about what their next actions should be. Even Sir Oakley was trying to convince them all that they should stay and help Lord Padraig because it was the right thing to do - to see it through - and finish what they had started so everyone in the area would be just that much safer. This line of reasoning was falling on deaf ears with Blackwell. Ironic if you think about it - deaf ears, half wolf, better hearing than everyone else, oh um, ahem, well yes, back to the story... A couple of miles from Winterhaven they saw that padraig and his troops had started the march towards Gardmore Abbey. They met Padraig at the front of the troop formation and began to speak with him about the recent developments. Lord Padraig just seemed to get a bigger and bigger smile on his face when he was listening to the account of cleansing the Abbey and the intelligence the party brought about there being more than one area that they could attack from. Sir oakley quickly left to continue on to Winterhaven to send word to other Paladins and clerics of Bahamut that the temple was cleansed and he required help to man and restore the great temple. Lord Padraig started laying out his general plans for the invasion of Gardmore Abbey and had asked the party to help with the main assault, since they were the best equipped ane experienced to take out the orcs' heavy troops, namely the ogres and the giants. When that was going on, Padraig's troops would go after the watchtower and also enter the city from the east near the old wizard's tower, as well as pepper the walls with arrows and send in troop to back up the heroes. Blackwell wanted no part of this at all. He really wanted to go home to his family. When Lord padraig saw the heroes he now considered not only great allies, but as friends hesitate, he spoke up and offered them noble titles in exchange for their help. He himself was actually an Earl and said that he could make them Lords and Ladies, the lowest rank of nobility, but nobility nonetheless. Asphodel agreed to stay, then Zerak, then Zola, Jobi, and Kel. Blackwell asked if Padraig would also extend trade relations and military protection to his land holdings near Neverwinter. Padraig agreed and so did Blackwell, happy in the fact that he was also helping out his entire family by staying and helping his extended family. And so the heroes joined in the ranks and began the slow march back to Gardmore Abbey.
Three days later the host had reached Gardmore Abbey (even Sir Oakley who had ridden from town and caught up with the small army). The army made camp about a couple miles away from the Abbey and rested for the coming attack the next morning. While it was still dark the following morning, the troops advanced as quietly and as quickly as they could, getting troops positioned to storm the area of the watchtower, the wizard's tower, and the front gate. They also had gotten word to Sir Berrian when the attack would start so his troops could hit them from the inside, surprising them out of the small forest inside the old walls. Then the charge was sounded and our brave heroes stormed the gates.
It was as was predicted. There were many orcs along the walls trying to fire at the heroes but Padraig's troops kept them busy dodging arrows of their own. The party made it to the front gate and was immediately set upon by at least a dozen orcs followed by four ogres with two hill giants bringing up the rear. The battle started with the party getting rushed by the orcs and when they clashed, Jobi happened to be a bit too close to the front lines and was cut down very early on. Zola and Kel moved up and took the orcs head on with Blackwell throwing the last of his minotaur horn bombs, and Zerak casting ice storm spells, then rushing to aid Jobi, hoping he would make it in time to heal her. Asphodel advanced on the orcs as well, but stayed only until the time when a hole opened up so she could rush at the hill giants who were bombarding them with boulders. The heroes slowly thinned out the orcs without incurring much damage to themselves at all, except for Jobi, who Zerak had been able to heal her and snatch her from death's claws. Then the ogres closed in with the party members and attempted to crush them with their clubs. They did hit the party members several times, with each time causing some significant damage. But, here again the party proved too strong for the ogres as well, especially after they had been hit with two ice storms and one was dominated via the Rogue card and made to smash one of his little orc cousins to a bloody pulp.
With the main gate cleared, they party the rushed in after the hill giants. Asphodel charged one of them and managed to hit him hard enough to push him five feet back. Zerak and Jobi and Zola used magic spells against the two giants, hoping to wear them down so that they wouldn't be able to hit Asphodel very many times. After all, the stoneskin spell Asphodel had cast upon herself would only absorb so much damage before failing to protect her any longer. Kel and Blackwell hung back a bit and shot the giants with their bows, scoring hit after hit. Asphodel went toe to toe with the one giant she had rushed and had a very good round of attacks against it. So much so that she flew into the all-to-familiar rage that she had been in before. She made short work of the giant, felling it shortly after raging. About the same time the other giant, who had also sustained a couple of hits from Asphodel, succumbed to all the magic spells thrown at it and fell as well. Once the last enemy was dispatched, the raging Asphodel-fused-Eidolon looked over her/its should and momentarily fixed its gaze upon Kel. Then it shook its head and the rage subsided.
With the iniital strike into Gardmore Abbey going very well for our heroes, they were now poised to go after the leader of the orcs and hopefully end the evil reign of these foul beasts once and for all. Join us again in three weeks time when we continue our adventures with this adventuring band that is turning out to be quite a force to be reckoned with and see how they fare charging headlong into the jaws fate...