Sunday, June 14, 2015

Session 45 Synopsis

Previously, on Phoenix Rising...
... So we leave our heroes just after they had cast the teleport spells and arrived at the front gates of Blackstone Keep (after putting on their pins that Valindra originally gave to them for their first trip here).

With a blink of an eye, our five heroes were standing in front of Blackstone Keep's main gates and four startled guards that were obviously not expecting anyone to teleport right in front of them. To his credit, the guard captain recovered very quickly and just said, "We were not expecting you back so soon. Please continue inside." And with that the four guards stepped aside as the gates slowly opened. The group noticed that there were not as many people around this time, no doubt some were still at the newly formed Ghost Wolves' encampment. Valindra met them in the main audience chamber and welcomed them back, asking how their adventures were going up till now.

The party first drew attention to Jobi's plight and Valindra immediately led her and Zerak to the keep's temple to Saranrae - it was a very elaborate and expensive looking temple which had both Jobi and Zerak even more so in awe of what was before them - especially considering where they were. The head priest, Duthar, was summoned for and promptly entered the temple with everything he needed to restore Jobi's hand fully. She thanked him once he was done and said she would rest it for the next day so the residual stiffness and pain would recede. Jobi then told Valindra about her visions at the urging of Zerak. She was most interested and concerned where Saranrae's visions were leading the heroes. She told them about a few places in Neverwinter that could possibly be the site of an ancient underground library where Mordai Vell and his accomplices could be working on something like this: under the city's ancient cemetery, inside old Castle Never, in the Hall of Justice, or in the old temple of Oghma/Nethys called the House of Knowledge.

They returned to the rest of the group who had lingered in the main audience chamber, resting and just hanging out. Jobi and Zerak started relaying all the information that Valindra had told them about what Jobi had learned in her visions about the plans of Mordai Vell and the Ashmadai cult of devil worshippers and how they were attempting to rewrite history to make Neverwinter their puppet state with Lord Neverember at the helm. Valindra also commented that Vell and his agents were all over and gaining in power all the time and were now too powerful/well connected to go after head on. They heroes would have to be a bit craftier than brute force allowed and go after Vell's secret endeavours and expose them at the right time in order to win the battle for Neverwinter's freedom. Valindra indicated that her spies within the Ashmadai cult were not able to find out much about what Vell was currently doing - either he was being so careful that no one else could find out, or her spies had be identified and were being purposely kept out of the information loop.

Valindra also commented on Asphodel's new eidolon look: she smiled approvingly on the now partially undead visage that Asphodel was showing the world. Zerak too commented to Asphodel that if she needed anyone to talk to he was there for her. And this stuff only brought some grunts of acknowledgement from her. Valindra also congratulated Blackwell on gaining some of his stolen powers back and said that there must be something out there that can help cure him even more. She would start looking into it to see if she can find anything out for him and for him not to give up hope. So our stalwart band decided that it might be best for them to teleport back to Asphodel's castle and go to Neverwinter from there. This would allow for Asphodel to check up on her castle and grounds and to get the new temple construction on its way and well as Blackwell to visit his land and adopted family as well as swing by Kel's place to check in on her and she how she was faring.

That night, Jobi once again had a vision:
You find yourself standing in a featureless gray stone room. A soft, bright mist starts to rise up from the floor and slowly begins to coalesce into a shape. As the shape is solidifying, you feel happiness, kindness, and joy emanating from it and your mood changes to match. The mist finally forms in the shape of an unbelievably gorgeous woman with bronze colored skin and long flaming hair gently swaying in a breeze you do not feel.

The vision of Saranrae smiles at you and starts to speak, “Jobi my faithful servant, your path intersects with the man you love. His family is partly descended from Lord Nasher Alagondar’s lineage and is in as much danger from Mordai Vell as is the future of Neverwinter. Bring My Word to Neverwinter. Cleanse the Ashmadai cult from its borders, both above as well as below ground. The ones that are controlled by the devil’s cult can be freed without their deaths and will prove to be allies in the coming years if saved. But hurry, if all are controlled then Neverwinter is lost. But take care for Vell and his allies are strong and have much support throughout the city. A head-on confrontation would surely end in failure. Trust only the ones you know.”

As the bronze woman’s smiling face fades away, an image of the old partially destroyed temple to Oghma, called the House of Knowledge in Neverwinter’s Protectors Enclave comes into view. And then that too fades as you wake up. It is now the dawn of a new day…

Jobi told everyone about this latest vision and especially emphasized the part about trusting only the ones they knew. Almost immediately everyone thought about making their first visit in Neverwinter to Telliann Sommsett, one of Neverwinter's Captains of the Guard. She had verbally stated her distaste for Mordai Vell and his ilk before so maybe she wasn't one of his lackeys or one of the corrupted ones yet. The trip to Neverwinter was relatively short with our heroes arriving near midday at the Protector's Enclave Guard Headquarters. Asphodel decided to stay as a halfling citing that her new eidolon form may be too much for the normal citizens of Neverwinter to handle without any preparations. Telliann was inside and smiled broadly when she first saw the group.

She greeted them and said she had missed them since they had been gone for several months now. The engaged in some small talk before asking her if they could somewhere a bit more private to discuss some important matters. She agreed and it was decided that they would walk over to the Bloated Float Tavern and Inn for lunch and drinks. On the way there, they stopped on the bridge connecting the Protector's Enclave with the Blacklake District since it was rather deserted with only a few people crossing at this time of day. Zola kept watch to make sure that no one was spying or listening to their conversation. They talked in hushed tones to Telliann about what they have discovered about Mordai Vell and his partner Alira Vond. She wasn't surprised and said as much, though she had no idea who might already be corrupted by them. No one seemed different or had been acting strange lately. She did agree to keep her eyes and ears open and would let the heroes know if anything suspicious surfaced.

She was thankful to the party for sharing their information and told them that the only development around here was that some squatters had moved into the old House of Knowledge ruins some weeks back and that the guards patrolling that area were keeping an eye on them because those people were actually helping the guards by letting them know when a plaguechanged monster popped up. As such monster attacks ending in tragedy in the area have gone down considerably. But no one really knows much about the squatters themselves or where they originally came from. Since this location was one that was not only identified by Valindra and Jobi's latest vision from Saranrae but also now had signs of recent and ongoing activity, the party decided that needed to be the first place they would look for this secret underground library.

They carefully made their way to the House of Knowledge, making sure that no one was following them. When they arrived, Asphodel decided it was a good time to summon her eidolon and then they cautiously entered the failing structure. Inside they found evidence of people living here but did not see anyone immediately. Soon as they explored the ground floor they started to see shadows of moving creatures here and there and finally they made their presence known. Soon the party saw that there were a number of people here, all dressed in rags and dirty looking but it was impossible to get a correct count of how many were actually there since they kept moving around and they were not especially different looking from each other. At first they were pleasant enough, saying hello and telling the party that the area was a bit unstable so they should take care walking around. Our hereos asked if they knew where the priest of Oghma was and where the library was. Several of the vagabonds chuckled and one addressed them directly by saying that the old priest is long dead and the library was completely destroyed with nothing left of the old House of Knowledge except the bones of the building they saw here.

The party told them they were going to look around anyway and see what they could find. The "main vagrant" said that was fine but again said for them to be careful for the ruins were unstable to those who didn't know them. As the party searched they saw that the squatters were keeping their distance but were definitely watching where and what they were doing. For the most they only found burned and charred remains of old books and book shelves scattered all along the ground floor with no real way to get to the collapsing 2nd and 3rd floors above without risking more collapse and possible injury. But in one corner they saw an area where it looked like the building had collapsed into a stairwell leading down into an underground area. When the party approached this area, the head squatter spoke up again and said that the area there was very unstable and had just collapsed again recently. It had killed some people as well. He also said the stairs led nowhere since all was collapsed and was not possible to excavate without causing more collapse. Zerak, Zola, Blackwell and Asphodel all studied the area from a short distance away and it seemed that possibly some of that "collapse" had been put there on purpose, most likely to dissuade others from investigating the area below.

So the party told them that they were going to investigate that area anyway and the squatters obviously became more agitated and the one that had been speaking all along was getting pretty insistent that they were not welcome to investigate since it would cause more collapse to their home and they had no right to be there. At this point Asphodel was getting a bit perturbed with this person and decided to attempt to intimate this vagabond into backing down. He and the rest of the squatters were completely un-phased by her, not showing any signs of fear or concern or intimidation whatsoever (which would be considered very odd anywhere considering Asphodel's partially undead visage these days). Our heroes ignored their warnings and went ahead to attempt to clear the area so they could investigate the stairs leading down below. While they began to work, they noticed that the half dozen squatters nearby were slowly backing away from the area but never looking away. Blackwell and Zola both thought it best to move away from the area quickly and Asphodel looked around and saw why the squatters were backing away at the last second. There were four more squatters up on the second floor overlooking the stairwell area and each of them threw down a wooden barrel into the collapsed area and ran away out of sight. Just as the four barrels made contact and exploded in a fiery blast that sent stone and other debris speeding at Asphodel, Zerak and Jobi, Asphodel tried to wrap her wings and body around the other two in hopes of shielding them from the fire and flying debris. She was successful to a point and all of them only sustained minor blunt force damage from the stones and wooden projectiles. Needless to say the battle was on at this point.

Zerak summoned his new favorite pet, a celestial lion to "eat away" at the opposition. Jobi began casting her spells. Zola and Apshodel moved into melee with the treacherous bastards. Blackwell moved into close range and began firing his pistol and sneaking in to deal extra damage while they were occupied by Zola. For foes that were only wearing rags and seemingly nothing else, they were proving to be rather difficult to hit - not impossible - but more difficult than one would expect - and they were fairly good at attacking them with their daggers. But they did have trouble with Asphodel's and Zola's high armor values as well as getting through the inherent damage resistance that the "kitty" (as Jobi is fond of calling the celestial lion) had. All in all the battle did not last very long. There were no others around afterwards - the four that threw the barrels were not to be found as was no other squatters. It was strange though that the six did not flee, falter, or become demoralized while they were being defeated. It was as if they had none of the human emotions of fear and pain that normal people experience. They searched the bodies and came away with only twelve magic daggers (+1 variety). But now our heroes were able to continue the exploration of the stairs down.

After some minutes of contemplating engineering principles to figure out the safest way of clearing the debris without further collapse they finally decided that they had to go around the caved in area. So Zerak summoned an earth elemental to burrow a large tunnel around the collapse and into any areas that may lie beyond it. Soon, the elemental had made its way parallel to the cave in and burrowed into an underground area where the stairs ultimately led to. They found themselves in a small basement area that seemingly had no other doors or exits. So they began searching all the walls to see if there might be a secret door hidden somewhere within the chamber. Luck (or skill if you prefer) was with them and they had found a secret door in the southwest corner of the room. Blackwell looked for traps and found nothing so he went to work on picking the lock inside the small keyhole. But as soon as he got his lock pick tool inserted into the keyhole he was greeted with an extremely large electrical discharge. He wasn't even able to evade the blast with his quick reflexes this time. It felt like the electrical blast was so forceful that it immediately grabbed him and wouldn't let go. Fortunately for him his reflexes did help to break the grip but that caused him to be literally blown back twenty feet into the back wall (which was a better outcome than being held by electricity until charred dead).

After that they cast detect magic on the door to see if there was anything else still there and found nothing. So Asphodel opened the door and beyond they saw a chamber that was twenty feet deep and sixty feet wide - again with no other doors or exits visible. So they once again searched all the walls for secret doors and were again rewarded with success for another secret door was in the same location as the last chamber, the southwest corner of the room. Here they started with casting detect magic and found none so Blackwell went to work detecting traps and did indeed find one. It appeared to be a trigger wire that would set off some type of large projectiles to be shot into the room from many holes in the walls and ceiling - possibly as large as javelins. Satisfied he went to work unlocking the door and was able to pick the lock, although it was even pretty difficult for him to pick (which he did not let on to the others). So once again Asphodel strode forward and opened the door.

But there was another trap that Blackwell had not detected for the floor inside the room - a full twenty foot square of it opened up and our heroes began to fall into the large and deep hole hidden by the large trap door. Fortunately Zola and Asphodel had their wings (so to speak) and were able to resort to flight after only a fall of ten feet or so. And Zerak had feather fall in his memory and immediately cast it to allow the rest of them to slowly float down to the bottom one hundred feet below. But when the three got close, they had to avoid a lot of long, sharp and rusty spikes protruding up from the floor, which only caused them minimal damage. Asphodel and Zola threw down ropes and Zerak used his overland flight to help get everyone back up out of the hole and got them to the other side of the trap and through the open door. Beyond was a small landing and then a narrow stairway going down for a long way - further than anyone's darkvision could see.

And so we come to another end of a session and have to bid farewell to our stalwart band. Until next week...

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