Dark Star

Let's Split Up

After regrouping at the dretch circle following the events at the septarch’s tower the party decides to split up and cover more ground. Kaze and Mordir head to take care of a hostage situation while Ren and Kvirik hang back to further investigate the ritual circle.
The Ritual Circle incorporates mangled limbs and an embedded ring of spears. There are gemstones arranged in the circle. The whole pattern belies heavy math or modeling. While Kvirik studies within the circle Ren is attacked by orcs from the other side of the encampment. Then awakes an orc witch, who is maddeningly drunk and accompanied by two burly naked male orcs wielding sundering weapons. The witch attempts to control the other orcs, and one is able to shake off the effect. The drunken madwoman dashes toward the one that shook the effect after Kvirik stuck her with an arrow. Ren is engaged by the nudists when Kvirik drops a stone call spell. As he casts he notices a fist-sized emerald pop up from the ritual circle. Instead of casting as expected, the spell turns into a slab of rock that bisects the surrounding trees at 20 feet high and crashes to the ground in splinters that multiplies the damage done to the orcs. The witch is able to avoid some damage but Kvirik finishes her with a scorching ray spell, while taking note to step out of the circle when casting. Kvirik threatens the standing sexual predator and the creature guts himself. The one remaining alive, who was able to shake the witch’s mind control, is apprehended and interrogated. Jiibus the Orc gave the location of the blood orc camp and explained that the blood orcs are relatively few in number and refuses to give away normal orc camps. After some discussion he is convinced to help scout the camp and continue with the party for now.
After further study, Kvirik discovers that the skin-bound tome found on the witch is the Manual of the Gatekeeper of Moil.

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Run Them Out

Kvirik and the Kyotarans discuss the status of Fallcrest and options to move forward after Naerumar heads towards the manor. Kvirik explains that the entire southern quay has been ransacked and occupied, with villagers heads on pikes surrounding the area. Three half-orcs seem to be the leaders. Among them are a black-skin-robed commander, a warpriest and a female spellcaster.

As Kvirik recalls an entire half day that has passed since the incursion, the black-robed figure rises from the distance, chanting a summoning spell and crying of foul baddiness. As he finishes the summons a nabasu demon emerges from the gate. Kvirik recognizes this as the first demon to reach the prime material in over 2000 years, and this specific nabassu was born here, at the gate.

Upon the emergence of the demonic nebulous cloud, Kvirik draws his Oathbow and swears to kill the vile summoner. The bow cries, “Death to those that have wronged me!” as an arrow escapes the bow. The magus moves forward as the arrow flies and looses another. The first arrow meets it’s destination in the half-orcs back, and as he screams in agony and reaches for the protruding ailment, the second missile pierces the back of his skull and flies neatly out between his eyes. A panicked uproar booms from the lower quay as the dead summoner topples over the steep cliff.

The nabassu aims for a group of civilians when turning the corner of the last building along the alley which opens near the waterfall and oversees the lower quays. Letting loose vile energies form its eyes, the huddled peoples alight in grey fire, falling in agont to spasm. As a few of the bodies surge back to life, the demon flies over the lower quay before he vanishes. The characters recognize this as a bad omen. The demon has gone back to fully mature.

When the demon disappears Kvirik sprints toward the lower quay with the siblings following close behind. As he approaches the hill he sees masses of orcs filing out of the south and east gates, but is distracted by a group of ghouls, apparently a parting gift left by the nabasu.

After a minute of distraction from the ghouls some of the orcs have had time to leave the city in pursuit of their two remaining leaders riding away through th esouth and east gates. The party has scared the orcs out of Fallcrest.

Now what?


Treasure:
Potion of Cure Serious Wounds
Potion of Greater Magic Fang
Heavy repeating crossbow
Summoner’s spellbook

Kvirik reads a very evil aura from the spellbook. It is bound in some type of skin. He refuses to touch it directly.

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The Welcoming Party
aka Orcs

The party finds themselves within eyeshot of Fallcrest’s north gate. Kaze describes that he sees a dozen guards posted along the top wall of the gate, half wielding polearms, the other half wielding bows with flame-tipped arrows. Anza’er and Kaze sneak closer toward cover, and arrows begin to pelt the areas they move through. Kaze reaches a copse of trees as Anza’er hits the ground for a ditch. Upon landing the drow receives three arrows to the back, one puncturing his neck. In a desperate attempt to speak his truename, Anza’er collapses out of existence.

The siblings, with some effort, are able to dispatch the orcs. Once inside the gate they find Naerumar, the tiefling shopkeeper, tied up alongside the Tyrmander that fell from the Winter King’s ship. Upon realization of Anza’er’s death the shopkeeper explains to the party they can take whatever they like from his shop, but to avoid behind the counter or risk death.

Naerumar leaves and Kvirik the Tyrmander is left with the Kyotaran siblings to decide the next path.

Fallcrest is occupied.

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Leaving the Cairn
Anzaer's freedom

The party, having come upon the frozen and wasted throne room of the Cairn, open the confrontation by threatening the Ice Scepter with Kaze’s shadow blade to negotiate with the Winter King. They shortly thereafter bear witness to a truly awe inspiring collapse of the very fabric of the Cairn and its surroundings. After being whisked back to Fallcrest, the party sets itself to its surroundings and prepares to take stock of their situation.

Kaze saw the room collapse around a page-like object, glowing in the midst of the maelstrom. He was shifted to the ruined exterior of the Cairn, a circle of melted snow perfectly around him, the unconscious bodies of the other party members, and Meier, the being who presumably teleported everyone from the collapsed Cairn. He explained to Kaze that the Kyotaran had made a major mistake in messing around with major artifacts like that, and took the ice king’s scepter. He told Kaze that the party had fallen off of its path and purpose, and needed to do what the original members of the party of Cerulean Censures had set out to do. Then, Meier teleported everyone to Fallcrest, just outside the walls of the town.

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Dag died.

For Real. Not Play Play.

Long drop and a short stop.

Such a small lizard to leave a crater.

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A Request of Home

Kaze, after suffering strange and mystical injuries in the conflict with the shadow priest Kallarel, struggles with the nature and consequences of having taken a curse or parasite into himself while saving Winterhaven. Using the Stones of the Shrine Maiden’s granted to him and his sister, he contacts his house vizier in an attempt to gain insights into his affliction.

Greetings, Vizier

Since joining with Ren and her party, we have had the opportunity to contain a powerful cultist of Orcus who was attempting to channel shadows deep within the remains of a keep built on top of ancient ruins of the extant Athasian Empire, apparently a powerful forerunner of this area. Part of the ritual involved a crystal of blood which seemed to be acting as a catalyst of power for the process of opening a portal. A Vampire child of Moil showed surprise and recognition once the blood crystal absorbed inside of me. It seemed to have something to do with her brother.

Whatever curse or creature that attached to me, I fear that I must overcome or escape it in order to fulfill my duties to Ren, House Ishii, Kyoturu, in this region and the future. Any information or aid that could help me overcome this dark taint would honor and help the activities of both my sister and I as we carry out the will of our people.

In the presence of Kyoturu and Oba, I stand O-Kaze Ishii

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Victory, at a Cost
Underpriest's Deception; Closing the Portal; The Blood.

The party continues to the second level of the Keep on the Shadowfell. The air is noticeably colder, and the shadows more substantial. The party casts various light-emitting spells to keep the darkness at bay.

The elven-kind and kobald go through rooms of ghouls and zombies, easily slaying the undead and looting the godforsaken keep.

The party come upon a room of goblins, sleeping. They capture one, and Dag kills the rest with dynamite. The goblin speaks to Meier, and they learn that the next room is the “Room of Swords”. Kaze and Dag see Lillith dart into the next room. Dag throws dynamite after her.

The party exit into the room with a statue of the lord of this Keep, Lord Keegan, presumably an ancestor of Lord Padrig. He has a sword and shield, both point down.

The part evades a spinning blades trap.

The party tries to heal after this encounter, and finds the effects of divine potions of healing to be noticeably dampened. Anza’er explains that this effect is due to the area being affected by shadow and negative energies. Meier speculates that Kalarel could be trying to reach an outer plane, but the party isn’t sure if this would be a goal, or the means to achieving some other goal.

The shadows grow as the party ponders and discusses.

Ren can sense nothing about these energies using psionics, which is highly unsual.

The party chases a homunculus which had been spying on them through two massive doors, past a massive gelded relief of Tiamat fighting Bahamut. The metal has been twisted and rended by supernatural claws.

There are abyssal runes over the doorway, cover older ones in draconic. Anza’er thinks they are praising the demon princes.

The party enters a room with a basin overflowing with blood, collecting in streams and flowing to the center of the room, where a dark chasm flows rivers of blood to the levels below. An underpriest of Orcus and a few acolytes and zombies look surprised, but are quickly overwhelmed. There appears to be no warning given to those left at the bottom of the hole, as the homunculus was slain as well.

The party discovers the coat of arms of the Lord of this keep, the diary of the underpriest, a wide-brimmed hat with Padrig’s coat of arms, a diagram of Winterhaven, and a scroll of stone wall.

After reading the diary, the party discovers that one of the final stages of Kalarel‘s plan for Winterhaven included replacing the mayor with the underpriest, using the hat of disguise. The party doesn’t know how long this has gone on, or what happened to the real Padrig.

The half-elven dignitary draws a slim ornamental dagger, and sockets a tiny vial into a slot near the blade. He dons the hat, and instantly appears to all as the Orcus underpriest. The drow skald applies his personal poison to his bolts and blades, and starts humming softly to himself. The dark fey peers at his spellbook, inscrutable. He collects the dragon-shaped statuettes from the party members. The female kyotaran knight stands still, one hand on her slim two-handed sword, staring stoically at the chasm in the floor.

The architecture changes from that of a keep devoted to Bahamut, the Dragon God, to a strange pure alabaster/marble material, in a swooping, detailed, monumental style. The party can see a few columns, huge stairways, and a raised rune-inscribed platform below, on which the blood is pooling from above. There are chains dropping down, almost touching the pool. Kaze inspects the basin of blood ichor, and reaches inside to grab a crystal. He pulls out a gigantic jewel-like object, and blood ichor seemingly drains from it into the young noble. The blood stops flowing from the basin.

The party can hear child-like singing, echoing from below, supernaturally loud and resonating.

Kaze drops below with barely a sound. The party covers him with ranged weapons. Appearing to all in the chamber below (seemingly) as the Orcus underpriest, no alarm is raised. Kaze begins distracting Kalarel with a report of slaying the party of adventurers in the room above, and approaches him. At the base of the stairs, Kalarel seems offended and suspicious when Kaze doesn’t supplicate as he gets a little too close to the Orcus priest.

The party feather falls below to the blood pool, and draw weapons. They see a huge portal ascribed with Athasian runes. There is a pool of shadow in the portal, with tendrils of darkness whipping out around the edges. Zombies and wights around the edges of the room descend upon the party, and Kaze uses the opportunity to run up to the pedestal unnoticed, where Kalarel is chanting from a spellbook. As he gets there, Kalarel appears to have finished, and the book disappears in a flash of purple fire. He darts past Kaze and tries to engage the samurai in battle, not knowing that she is a ronin who remains a general of her imperial military. Kaze stabs Kalarel in the back twice with his long knife, applying both of his poisons. Kalarel realizes that his only remaining allies are his undead.

Ren issues a samurai challenge to Kalarel. She stomps with psionic fury. Then she flashes her blade.

Kalarel runs backwards to let the remaining undead distract the party.

Meier has been hiding in the shadows throughout this fight, using the statues as a magical source to begin a ritual to close the portal.

Dag and Anza’er have been darting among the pillars, shooting crossbow bolts at the zombies clumsily trying to locate their snipers.

The drow draws his scimitar and long knife, both crafted of a curious exotic design and material, and joins the fray with the stomping screaming kyotaran. Anza’er begins a battle chant, identifying weaknesses of Kalarel and the wights to the group.

The party don’t really notice until this point that there is a monstrous statue on the opposite side of the room from the portal. The source of the steadily louder singing that has flitted across the background noise, supernaturally resonating in the mind, appears to be Lillith, dancing in a circle in front of this statue.

Kalarel grabs out and manipulates dark tendrils from the portal to lash out at the party. Some hit Ren, some hit Anza’er. Kalarel succeeds at a full negative energy touch attack at Kaze. He tries to use another dark tendril, and Lillith reaches out and pulls it from his grasp. She laughs wickedly, and only then does Kalarel seem to notice her presence. His face becomes a mask of shock and fear, and he is lashed with a tendril of shadow. Another latches around his ankle, and pulls him in front of the pool of darkness. The singing by this point has become more of a piercing scream. And Lillith is still dancing and laughing.

The wounded kyotaran noble channels his ancestor’s wrath, expending half of his total ki and his psionic focus to push Kalarel in a burst of force into the portal. He lands partway inside the darkness. An arm with a wicked greatsword plunges down and skewers Kalarel, dragging him inside. Out steps Soren, the drow deathknight, and member of the Cerulean Censures. He appears surprised to see the party. Anza’er and Meier explain their presence, and their activity here. They explain Kalarel’s plans, and what the kobold and the kyotarans are doing with them. Kaze steps up to Lillith , who has stopped chanting and dancing, and explains what happened with the blood ichor. She says, “I never thought I would see him again…” and only then does Soren appear to notice her. She flies off in a cloud of bats, and Soren looks anxious. He strides back into the portal, and Meier completes the ritual using the dragon statuettes. The portal closes, and appears to be a partial ring of alabaster inscribed with runes, filled with nothing but air.

The party takes a few interesting items from Kalarel, and investigate the statue closer. It appears to be… a Daemon. The party decide to leave immediately. They gather at the front of the keep, the only doorway, and use the scroll of wall of stone to blockade the Keep on the Shadowfell.

The party slowly walk back to Winterhaven, weighed down by loot, wounds, questions, dreams, and a lingering taint of shadow.

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A Couple of Spiffy Kyotarans
Sibling rivalry; A kobold's new tricks; Back to the Keep.

After dealing with Nineran, the party meets at Lord Padrig’s office. He introduces the party to Vizier Aka’Tsuchi, a representative of Kyotaran noble house Ishii, and his protege Kaze Ishii. Ren recognizes Kaze as her little brother. The vizier is checking in on Ren, on behalf of her Ishii family, and making sure she remains befitting to house Ishii. Guardian spirits accompany her, and she has grown in psionic wisdom since she set out from home. She mentions that she was briefly with Douvan Stahl, and the vizier seems to be satisfied that Ren is doing productive work here in Brentwood. Both the vizier and Kaze, though, are in agreement that Kaze will now accompany Ren, to finish his training and help her in hers.

After introductions, Kaze tries to speak alone with the eladrin spellcaster. He doesn’t glean much, or get very far. Meier is distant. Kaze notices that one of the party members is a drow, who he sees as a demon worshiping dark-elf abomination/monster. Kaze becomes cautious about the party, and asks his sister about the group’s activities. Kaze learns about the various threats to the area, and is momentarily satisfied with the arrangement.

The party travel back to the Keep on the Shadowfell without incident. Upon walking up to the doors, they happen upon Dag, who no one had noticed had been missing. He shows off the new fire-snake traps wrapped around his arms. Kaze is even more wary of Anzae’ar after watching the two together.

The party sneaks downstairs, and rush a dining room full of goblins. Dag uses a flashbang to stun the room, then the rest are finished off by the party’s ranged weapons and Ren’s psionic stomp attack.

Kaze becomes psionically awakened by a connection to his sister, and is able to manifest his chosen weapon as a weapon of psionic energy, at will.

After busting through an illusory wall that the party discovers, Meier turns a room full of goblins into shadows. The shadows at the edges of the room grow momentarily dark and substantial, and Meier’s staff incorporates him in a blot of ebon substance. The planar foundations of this area become weaker.

Dag happily fights his way through the waves of goblins, collecting ears as he goes.

Kaze becomes wary of a mentioned vampire girl named Lillith that may show up at sometime. Who was apparently captured by Kalerel, for use in his ritual…

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Crazy Dreams and a Half-Elf Bitch

Mountains rested in the background, a blue moon and bright stars hanging in the night sky. A lone figure stands in the emptiness. The figure brandished a serrated two-bladed greatsword, was armored in melted black wrought-iron armor with plates fused together, a tattered cloak whipping different directions in the wind behind him, and a helm fixed from a blackened reptilian skull crowned his head.

Then the figure spoke. “You must save her.”

After these words a colossal dragon came up over the mountain ridge. It had breath of black and gray clouds, its body was almost entirely obscured with the shadowy aura emanating from it, and it scales were black with a lavender sheen.

And then we woke up. And we all had the same dream.


After we all awoke we noticed that the door to the secret room we had stayed in was cracked. Mier noticed a shadow coming from one of the crates to seem off, so he attempted to use his shadow magic to mess with it. And out jumped Nago.

The cat explained that Lillith had been discovered and was currently being held hostage by Kalarel. Kalarel seemed to be having problems opening the gate to the Shadowfell, and had sent Nineran back to Winterhaven on a mission.

We decided to track Nineran down and save the town. If Kalarel is having problems we have time.


We approach the town and Padrig and his guard are guarding the gate. Without time to deal with much we ask if he had seen Nineran and explained that she is behind the problems the town has been having. “That bitch!” Padrig seemed unhappy about this.

Somehow we knew to go to the cemetery.

Encounter:

The fence surrounding it was ten feet high. We decided to circle it and look for any weaknesses. We found one on the right wall. Looking through we could see two hounds guarding a tomb and a ritual circle. We decided to use this spot to enter the cemetery so Mier could get closer to the aura. Soren and Dag enter first. Dag takes two arrows to the chest and is almost dead already. Soren is able to determine that Nineran is using a building for cover from the direction of fire.

There is a horde of skeletons in the graveyard who are now all focused on us. Dag is hidden from all of them but they know the rest of us are there. Over the next few rounds the skeletons loose arrows in our direction but have little luck finding targets. Nineran gets hit by Mier’s magic missiles and decideds to take cover further aways. Soren is able to catch her with a couple of poisoned bolts, but she is able to shake off the effects. After Mier finishes with the ritual the skeletons drop and we are able to make quick work of Nineran.

On Nineran’s body we find a note from Kalarel explaining how to create the ritual circle, with direct instructions on killing the party. He also left another passphrase: “From the ground some magic was found.”

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Balgron the Fat

After interrogating the tortured goblin we decided to take care of their leader, Balgron the Fat, and use his demise to our advantage in future encounters. The goblin also gave us a rough idea of the map so we would could make educated decisions on where to continue.

Encounter:

Soren and Dag sneaked down a hallway. The room at the end of the hallway had tapestries hanging over two exits. Peeking around the left corner we saw two goblins playing cards. Soren shot poisoned bolts at both goblins and Dag sneak attacked one of them. We attempted to take them out quietly but the scuffle turned into a couple of rounds of combat.

We all took positions awaiting more monsters to come through the tapestries. MTS created a choke point at the south tapestry while Mier took pot shots at her victims. Soren and Dag teamed up against the goblins at the north tapestry.

Balgron decided to be a pussy and try to hide and attack from a distance. After finishing the minions Soren and Dag went around the corner to meet the leader face-to-face. After a quick scuffle Balgron was beheaded by Soren.

We found two keys on Balgron’s body but Dag had picked the lock to Balgron’s chambers before we needed one of them. We assume the other to be for a locked zombie-infested room that the tortured goblin told us about.

We also found a passphrase that we believe will help us on the next level of the keep:
“And life fails in the dark.”


The next room we new was an excavation site based on the information given to us from the tortured goblin. As we approached the site we could hear the goblins arguing about not finding any treasure here.

Encounter 2:

The party walked into the room casually, expecting this to be quick and bloodless.

Soren raises Balgron’s head and exclaims, “Your leader is dead, surrender or die.” The few goblins in the room immediately put down their pickaxes, but the two drakes attacked us. The goblins asked if we would let them live if they helped us kill the drakes. We agreed, and consequently didn’t even have to lift our own weapons.

We stripped the goblins of any of their findings. The most important was a small bust of Bahamut.

What we know about this bust:

  • Very out of place, dragons have not been active on the material plane in over 2,000 years.
  • Worship of dragons is outlawed in most of the world.
  • Bahamut has a particularly vitriolic piece of dogma concerning Orcus. All sentient dragons refer to Orcus as the Defiler. Worshipers of Bahamut will attack worshipers of Orcus on sight.

After the excavation site we decided to explore a hidden room from Balgron’s chambers. The room was a natural cave with stalactites hanging from the ceiling and stalagmites and fallen stalactites littering the floor, causing a lot of difficult terrain.

Encounter 3:

Upon entering we were immediately attacked by rats. After a couple of rounds an ochre jelly rounded the corner. It was a rather tough fight, and once we started doing noticeable damage the jelly split into another ooze. After this the fight seemed to go rather quickly.

In the middle of the room we discovered a small chamber. In it was a bedroll and miscellaneous gear. We decided this would be our best bet of camping out rather than returning to the town to rest.

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