Sunday, May 24, 2015

Session 34 Synopsis

Previously, on Phoenix Rising...
Valindra continued, “I believe that Fate has brought us all together for each of has a personal stake in the defeat of the Netherese. I've been following your adventuring careers and I am convinced that you are the allies we need in order to win the war. Despite everything you've heard of the nation of Thay, I tell you now that we as a nation have changed for the better. So please, consider my offer of alliance. You have shown to be a capable band of heroes that can get things done where much larger forces fail. Don’t give your answer now, but instead please see for yourselves what is going on. It’s important that you see it first hand before you decide so you know what we’re up against. I have found the location of Xinlenal and can provide you a map so you can travel there and see the evil first hand. Go there and see what they are doing across the lands. And then come back and tell me you answer. I’m sure that once you see the horrors that the civilized world is facing, you will say yes to our partnership. But for now, please stay with us for the night and dine with us. We’ll talk and I’ll answer any questions you have. You can head out in the morning with fresh horses and supplies.”

Our heroes agreed to stay for dinner and converse with Valindra and the others present. Slowly during the feast they began to notice that people were receiving different types of food - and then it dawned on them. Some of the guests were undead! Zerak noticed a couple of vampires at the table and he was quite certain that others were also undead of some sort - probably liches and maybe other types as well. But no one detected as evil! Not one of them. Zola was very wary and kept casting detect evil and was very wary of the food and drink as well, casting spells like purify and detect poison, just ot be on the safe side.

Valindra was very pleasant and understanding about all of their nervousness and reservations and attempted to reassure everyone that she was truly looking for allies and no one there posed any threat to them. They all talked about many things and the party did find out a few things of interest. For instance, Zola found out that someone in her family had helped the Netherese and that she may be paying the price of that collusion. And Zerak found out that many of his ancestors were/are Thayans (in addition to Valindra acting quite smitten with him). Valindra also spoke of the long ongoing war between Thay and Netheril and that how Netheril was slowly gaining the upper hand. Thay, she insisted, was a changed nation from its past and truly wanted to save the world from Netherese invasion, but also realises that their reputation will be difficult to overcome with the other free nations, especially in the northern continents.

Slowly the questions died down and eventually everyone retired for the night. True to her word, the next day the party was outfitted with fresh horses and full supplies. Our party decided to first head back to Neverwinter to take care of a few personal things for a couple weeks before venturing on to follow Valindra's map. Kel did some retraining of her fighter levels to her new found clerical leanings. Asphodel and Blackwell took some time at their settlements to start advertising for new people to come join them at their burgeoning domicles. Jobi started helping Asphodel decorating her castle. Zola created a wand for herself. And everyone did a little bit of shopping as well.

After a couple weeks, they decided it was time to follow the map and see what was really going on with the Netherese. Follwoing the map was actually quite easy and the whole trip took about a week without so much as an incident along the way. But when they got near to their destination, everything began to change for the worse. The forest seemed to be in a state of dying or decay. After a while they reached a particularly dense part of the forest and found human bodies in various states of decay. Some were just impaled skeletons but others were bodies and others yet looked only like skin. It appeared that at least some of these victims were skinned in addition to being impaled on wooden poles with a rounded tip (to decrease damage to the internal organs - someone wanted these people to suffer greatly).

Then the party came upon a ridge line where they were at the bottom with the top more than 60 feet above them and the climb would be very steep indeed. Zerak could levitate and Zola and Asphodel can fly, so they worked on getting everyone up without much trouble. When they were on top, they saw a vast, blasted wasteland with dead trees and other sparse vegetation surrounded by lots of broken rocks and ruins. About a half mile from the ridge line they encountered an area where it was clear there was some ruins that were still partially standing and the area was being excavated by a crew of some sort. They saw the following...

There are at least a dozen living slaves working this area along with about another dozen or so skeleton workers, 4 heavily armed and armored skeleton guards, and five other humanoids who are all dressed in black cloaks over silver colored chain shirts. (Perception DC 20) They appear to be humans, but different, for their faces are tan and vibrant looking and their dark hair almost seems to reflect multi-colored light similar to the way shards of a broken mirror would. they crept up and watched for a little while and saw the following:
One of the slaves drop over from exhaustion. One of the people dressed in black walks over and inspects the slave.
Another asks in a strange language, “Onko se elossa ja se voi jatkaa?" (No one in the party understands this at all)
The other responds, “Se on lähes kuollut - hyödytön nykyisessä tilassa."
The first one says, “Kiinnitä se."
One of the human women cries out in common, “No! Please don’t!”
The second one then kicks the woman over saying, “Turpa kiinni tai olet seuraava!"
The woman moans to herself and crawls back to work. Then he kicks the slave in the ribs, keeping him from crawling away, and pulls out a small vial and says chuckling to himself, “Tämä tulee tepsiä," opens it and sprinkles something over the nearly dead slave, maybe a liquid or possibly a powder. The slave screams as soon as the substance touches his skin and a horrible scene unfolds. The man’s skeleton rips itself out of his body, spewing blood, flesh, and organs to the ground. The bloody skeleton stands up even as the echoes of the man’s dying screams are still fading.
Then the man says, “Takaisin töihin!" and the skeleton rejoins the rest of the slaves, picking up a pickaxe and begins to dig.

It was at this time that one of the black cloaked men noticed Jobi attempting to hide and said, "Näyttää siltä, ??meillä on vieraita, jotka tarvitsevat meille töihin." And the rest of the black cloaked men and skeletons turned to engage the party in battle. Al the men had weapons of transparent blue energy that just materialized in their hands. The battle was heated and very nearly fatal for several of the party members. The black cloaked men seemed to be able to resist damage and even nearly spontaneously heal themselves of some damage caused by the party. But then, Apshodel lost control and went into her rage. From that point on the tide of battle turned in our heroes favor, even as Zerak and Kel nearly fell to the enemy. At the end of the battle it took Asphodel a little bit to calm down, forcing Blackwell to retreat and stay out of her vision for several rounds. But once calmed, the party was able to take stock of the current situation.

We leave our heroes at the end of the battle licking their wounds and assessing the remains and remnants of the battle. Until next week, "Onnellinen metsästys!" (happy hunting)...

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