Sunday, June 14, 2015

Session 43 Synopsis

Previously, on Phoenix Rising...
... At this point, the way was now clear to the main building where apparently their main objective was - the head of the Grey Wolves, Ethrain Marrowslake. It was time to storm the mansion and put his head to the pike! And maybe, just maybe, Blackwell could convince at least some of the remaining Grey Wolves to rejoin their ancestral pack the Ghost Wolves after seeing what they did to the enemy in the courtyard.

With the rest of the party looking to him for the next move, Blackwell surveyed the courtyard carnage and the battles still raging on at the now breached palisade gates. He knew it wouldn't be long before the small Thayan army decimated the remaining werewolves. Even now some of them at the edges of the battle were starting to drop out of hybrid form while throwing their weapons down on the ground and trying to surrender from the onslaught. Thankfully the Thayans didn't appear to be too bloody-thirsty and did not cut the surrendering ones down. He made the decision that he needed to call out Marrowslake and challenge him in order to have any hope of stopping the complete annihilation of the former Ghost Wolves.

He turned to Asphodel and Zola and said that he needed to get into that mansion and relayed his plans to the rest of the party. Looking at the mansion, they saw all the windows were boarded and barred as well as the one main double door entrance. So Zola and Asphodel began ramming the door in order to break it down (after Blackwell searched for traps that is). It took them three tries but the door finally gave way and beyond they saw a nicely furnished two story reception room. There was a closed door in the middle of the left and right wall, a closed double door in the wall opposite the front door, two staircases leading up to the second story landing, and three doors on the second story, all closed: one on the left, right , back walls. The place was obviously lived in and well used, though still fairly opulent even though it was evident that it had seen more glorious days in the past. Since no one was there to "greet" them, Blackwell loudly and in no uncertain terms issued his challenge to Ethrain Marrowslake to come out and face him. Meanwhile Asphodel had walked over to the corner of the room nearest the double doors to get a position of surprise if needed. After a few moments the three door on the ground floor opened up and nearly a dozen werewolves poured out of the doors. For a few tense moments they just all stared at each other, then one of them took a couple steps forward and began to speak to the group, "Why should we let you anywhere near Marrowslake?"

Blackwell began conversing with the man-wolf to try and convince him to surrender and rejoin their common ancestral tribe, the Ghost Wolves. He pointed out that by now they knew of the Thayan army that was backing them and taking over outside the mansion. And that there was no shame in surrendering in a hopeless situation. Plus they would all be granted amnesty and be full members of their tribe once more. Black noticed that it looked like he was swaying the minds of some of the werewolves there. And Zola had decided to detect evil to see if she could figure out the most evil one of the bunch to direct her attacks at if it cme down to it and Blackwell's efforts at diplomacy failed. While all had traces of evil auras upon them, none really stood out as glaringly evil, which reminded her of groups of people that might follow an evil dictator - not truly evil but driven to evil acts because of their following nature. Asphodel also remained ready to strike, while Zerak and Jobi were standing behind Blackwell but nonetheless ready for anything to cause an eruption of violence.

The leader of this group then asked Blackwell, "Your talk makes sense, but all I see before me is a human - not a werewolf. How do we know you are who you say you are if you even refuse to be in hybrid form while addressing us of this matter?" This brought nods and murmurs of affirmation from his fellow collegues and caused Blackwell to slump a bit with sadness as he began the tale of his assassination by an unknown enemy that robbed him of his lycanthropy. He also recited all the names of all his relatives, which many names were obviously known to the group of werewolves. And to prove his identity, he tossed the man his ghost wolves amulet, given to him by his father, the former leader of the Ghost-Wolves who was murdered by Ethrain Marrowslake.

The group of Grey Wolves looked at each other and their leader long and hard, obviously weighing all their options in front of them. Then the leader nodded and as one they all put their weapons down and declared that they once again wanted to be part of the Ghost Wolves. The tension in the room immediately lifted and it was evident that the younger werewolves were very relieved not to have to fight anymore. The leader now asked Blackwell about saving the rest of the men in the courtyard and the two groups hurriedly left the mansion to go outside. Asphodel picked up Blackwell and they flew over the battlefield and landed next to the Thayan commander and told him to stop hostilities for the rest of the werewolves now outside are surrendering and rejoining the Ghost Wolves. The commander sent word quickly and within a few short minutes all battles had ceased. The newly rejoined members of the Ghost Wolves were gathered in the middle of the courtyard and relieved of their weapons, given food and water, and allowed to rest.

Now our heroes turned their attention back to the mansion and to finding Marrowslake, who would not be offered any quarter this day. They thought about how he would be ready for them and that he would most likely have traps and ambushes set up for them. So they thought it would be better to draw them out to the heroes instead of them chasing after the villians. What better way than to smoke them out? So Zerak had used a spell that created a long snake of fire to wind around and engulf one of the supporting walls in the house. They thought that if that wall started burning a lot of smoke would be created as well as the house collapsing in on itself and this would drive the villians out of the building and onto their swords.

But things didn't go quite as planned. The fire worked too well. Soon the entire mansion was engulfed in flames and it became a raging inferno. But yet, no one came out of the building. No screams were heard either. Asphodel didn't even see anyone trying to escape when she flew around the perimeter. The leader that had surrendered mentioned that there was a safe room somewhere and that he didn't know the exact location of it, only that the entrance was somewhere in the left half of the basement. So Asphodel went wading into the buring structure once it had collasped to the point that there was no threat of it falling down on her and hurting her through blunt force. Even with her fire immunity, the work was hard, hot and slow.

Zerak pitched in by summoning a large earth elemental to burrow under the house to see if it could find some secret passage by way of tunneling into it. And this had worked to a point. It found an area that was protected by what looked like a tall and long metal sheet connected to the foundation of the house on the left side and continuing for at least thirty feet from the house. So Asphodel concentrated her search on that part of the basement wall and found a heavy metal door. It took a while to destroy this door and get it open to see what was beyond it - and it revealed an old mine tunnel, no more than five and a half feet tall and five to ten feet wide. Since the fires were so hot still, they used the trick of putting the ones that had no fire resistance (Blackwell and Zerak) into a bag of holding for just a minute in order to get them far enough down the tunnel that the heat would be dissipated enough no to cause them harm. Zerak even reduced his size so it would be more comfortable in that bag.

Then our stalwart band continued cautiously down the tunnel for nearly a mile before it ended in another metal door. This one had its hinges on this side so Asphodel was able to use her acid claws to break through them. Of course the door was also barred from the other side so she also had to bend and force the door before it would open far enough to remove the bar and allow entrance to the area beyond. There was more tunnel beyond but it also opened up into a larger chamber. The ceilings here were around six and a half feet tall so most every one could stand up completely. The party listened intently to find out if they could hear any traces of people nearby. They thought they had heard a few voices in the distance but nothing definite except for the occasional pop and crackle and dirt falling down the walls. They examined the walls and found them to be made of some blackish sort of flaky rock, which Zerak determined must be coal. Jobi immediately spoke up (in a hushed voice) that they must be careful not to do anything that causes a flame or sparks or they might ignite the entire cave which could then even blow up killing them all.

Asphodel and Blackwell slowly advanced into the chambers with Blackwell slightly in the lead. He stealthily rounded a corner and was immediately greeted by a voice, "Well, well if it isn't little Raizen come to save the day. Too bad all he's gonna get is an ass full of boot." Blackwell saw the hybrid wolf speaker in the dim light had two other hybrids with him. They were in a chamber that had a couple of heavy wooden cabinets, a table, and some chairs. Blackwell still tried to have him surrender by telling him that everything was lost to him in the compound, but it didn't seem to phase him at all. Instead he said that they were going to beat and kill "little Raizee" just like they did to his mommy.

Well, needless to say, this last statement just plain enraged Blackwell and so he tried to bluff them with a powder keg stating that he would blow up the whole place, but they didn't buy it so Asphodel surprised them by coming around the corner and charged Marrowslake and kept him engaged for the entire fight even before he knew what was going on. The party gained a small upper hand but soon found that not only were the three werewolves down here with them but two Netherese were also here. Unfortunately for Zola and Jobi, they found out first hand that the Netherese were very skilled at surprise attacks when both were struck multiple times from the back. Both sustained severe wounds which stunned them for a couple rounds each. Jobi felt the bite of their translucent blue weapons bite into her flesh and saw one of the blades pierce through the front of her stomach - fortunately it missed her vital organs and didn't paralyze or kill her instantly.

Marrowslake's two right hand men used crossbows to attack Blackwell and Zerak as the advanced on the party and both were pretty damn good at attacking them. It was then that Zerak decided that casting an ice storm spell would help to dampen their advancement for a bit and he was right. But they continued to advance and shoot and soon had closed in on Zerak as they had switched to their longswords. Zerak also sustained a critical hit from one of these assailants which caused him to be stunned for a short time as well. Meanwhile Blackwell tried to get around to attack the Netherese with his pistol while he could stay at ranged combat distances to try and distract them from finishing off either Zola or Jobi. One of the Netherese advanced past the stunned Zola and attacked the stunned Zerak with a nasty hit while the other Netherese closed in with Blackwell who had to switch over to his flaming sword (and possibly forgetting that the area could completely ignite on them).

But just as Jobi and Zola regained their senses and rejoined the battle, a tragedy struck. One of Marrowslake's right hand men swung viciously at Zerak and cut him down. Zerak dropped dead to the ground with major abdominal wounds. His blood quickly ran and was soaked up by the dirt and coal floor. Jobi at first went to see if there was anything she could do for her lover, but once she took a good look at him, she knew he was gone. She started backing away from the fight, heading back the way they had come and began casting magic missiles and scorching rays at the Netherese, her vision even more blurred at the edges from the tears that were forming. And Zola began tearing into the Netherese with a vengeance, trying to exact every ounce of blood in payment for the ones they took from the party. Blackwell worked well with Zola in flanking the Netherese and quickly helped to bring down one of the evil bastards.

Meanwhile, Marrowslake was standing up to Asphodel pretty well and landing damaging blows against her pretty regularly. However, there comes a point in a halfling's life where she just won't take it anymore and she reached this at just about the time when Zerak fell. She raged and brutally attacked Marrowslake who withstood her onslaught. She lost control and saw nothing but hate. Soon even Marrowslake could not withstand the full force of the halfing in the eidolon suit's unbridled raging attacks and fell at her feet, nearly torn apart. She then turned and concentrated her attacks upon his two right hand men. She advanced to the cavern opening and let loose her fiery breath weapon and melee attacks, first against the one that had killed Zerak and then against the other one who was continually shooting at Blackwell and Zola and Jobi. When Asphodel used her breath weapon, Jobi heard and saw even through her blurred vision the ground start to crackle and spark as the meancing fire cloud erupted like a small furnace belching out the excess fire it could not contain from her friend's translucent, wide open tooth-filled maw. She held her breath for a second and braced herself for what was surely to come - an explosion of fire and rock within the entire cavern, but thankfully it wasn't enough to start the dreaded chain reaction.

Now there was only one Netherese left and he tried to make it straight to the exit of the cavern but Jobi was right there in the way and he couldn't resist taking another hateful swing at her causing her even more damage to her body. But it was soon the end for him since there was now Blackwell and Zola right on his heels to cut him down. A little bit of good fortune was smiling down on our heroes for when the last foe fell before Asphodel, none of the party except for Zerak's corpse was within thirty feet of her. That gave he a little time to survey and think about the situation and when her eyes locked on Zerak's form, her uncontrollable rage was broken and her eidolon winked out and a small little halfing girl fell to the ground next to Zerak. The rest of the party converged on her and Zola gave her some comfort as usual while Jobi just sat next to Zerak.

Blackwell, even though he was sad for the death of his friend, had other things on his mind. He went and removed Marrowslake's head and the two Netherese heads as well. Then he searched all the bodies except Zerak's of course - that would just be bad form with so many of the party still living, uhh, yeah, well, carry on. He also went and disabled the traps and opened the cabinets and found a trove of treasures, literally.

The bodies had the following items of value: 3 silver longswords +2, 3 chain shirts +2, 38 silver crossbow bolts +1, and 2 suits of mithril scalemail +1

The first cabinet he opened contained the following: 4,500 gold in various coins, 10,000 gold worth of jewelry, 2,500 gold worth of small art work pieces (statuettes, etc), 1,000 gold worth in loose gems of various types.

The second cabinet had the several books and papers including Marrowslake's journals and other writings which contained the following highlights:

• Most of the villages in the surrounding countryside – perhaps as far as 30 miles away have all been ransacked and mostly burned to the ground. All able-bodied men, women and children that did not die fighting or trying to escape are now slaves of the Netherese that have been transported by their delegates to their work site camps.
• A lot of the prettier women and cute budding girls did not get sent into slavery to the Netherese but instead were kept as playthings for the werewolves. Most were brutally used and abused and when they wore out their usefulness, they were eaten (mostly grilled on a spit).
• The slaves that the grey Wolves had were there basically on loan to sort through all the items retrieved from the villages and towns that were ransacked.
• The scorched-earth policy they were following was to hide the fact of who was actually attacking these villages and they were successful in hunting down any runners.
• Their next target is a druid encampment about a few days away to the northeast, deeper into the Neverwinter Wood. They reportedly have some kind of relic called the Lycan Spire that supposedly can heal lycanthropes of any ailment or condition. Ethrain has decided to go after it. He has instructed a strike team to go there and kill all the druids, loot everything of value there and bring back the Lycan Spire so they can use it to their benefit. The strike force left before Valindra’s troops and the PC’s arrived so they have more than a day on them.

Zola and Jobi did the best they could to help heal the surviving members of the party of their wounds even though they did not expect any problems following the tunnel back to the decimated compound. But better safe than sorry. Even Blackwell dipped into his healing potions since the battle had been quite brutal. They needed to rest for at least an hour since Asphodel was completely fatigued after her uncontrolled raged and this gave them the time they needed to heal, catch their breaths and gather up all the loot around here. They decided that they should pack Zerak's body into one of their bags of holding for the short trip back to the compound. They all hoped that there was someone with the Thayan army that could raise and heal Zerak quickly, since they still needed to go and help those druids, if not because it was the right thing to do to remove the last of the Grey Wolves' threat upon the land, but at the very least, Blackwell wanted access to the Lycan Spire in hopes that it would cure his current condition.

And so we leave our intrepid band of heroes bruised, battered and wounded sitting in the middle of an old coal mine getting ready to trek back to the now defunct Grey Wolves' encampment. Stayed tuned for next week's exciting adventures ...

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