Flaming fireballs, something wicked is trying to snuff out a whole town, and us with it, will the intrepid adventures succumb to the foul evil of the Demi-Lich? Or simply go down to friendly fire? Let's see.
Kharduum Steepmine (Hill Dwarf Cleric)
Roza (Tiefling Sorcerer)
Con'nor (Half Elf Paladin)
Kronos (Human Rogue)
Growbeck Boniface (Mountain Dwarf Fighter)
Amber (Mountain Dwarf Fighter) Representative of the Pointertown Detective Agency
Barnaby (Warhorse, Amber's steed)
The party had journeyed out to Galgarad following a letter I received from the Lord Regent Pro'bass, he said there was a significant breakthrough with the research and there was a way to send Shadows Sigh home, and possibly recreate the Dragonstone, he didn't trust the details to a letter, so dispatched Lazlo and Shadows Sigh to us. However, they never arrived and this is their last known location, this could well be a rescue mission.
Galgarad existed before the Abjuration, but was abandoned and only recently re-populated, it used to hold the "Darkstar", a powerful object that wards off evil, normally possessed by the Towns Mayor. We carefully enter the town, it's mainly populated by Goliaths and Drow, they're hurriedly moving belongings and rushing around town in a panic. Growbeck grabs a passerby and demands to know what is happening, he says that the Undead attack every night and that their population and resources are dwindling, they've been doing this for months, the Mayor is useless and is just holed up in his house, protected by fortifications and magical wards. He also says that Zeff is the resistance leader, organising the defense from the Moonbounder Inn.
As we approach, Growbeck talks about reorganising the defenses, he's about ready to start all by himself before we insist it's probably best to talk to Zeff first. We enter the Moonbounder, there's is an enormous Goliath directing a triage, she is missing a leg and propping herself up on a huge weapon that's pulsing with Arcane energy. She saw Lazlo and Shadows Sigh in the midst of battle a few nights ago, but hasn't seen them since, she says they're probably dead.
We aren't so sure, but we'll need to figure out what's going here, it'll probably lead us right to them. Zeff welcomes our help, and says that they need to get into the mayor's house and possibly get their hands on the Darkstar. We agree that it's probably the best course of action and start planning.
We hear that Mayor Rallex Mirin is a vain man, desperate to ingratiate himself with the elite, as Roza is from a highborn family, well known in the capital, we decide to make it appear as though she is a Consul from the Queen and we are her entourage, hopefully this will gain us an audience with the Mayor. Kronos sets about forging the relevant documentation, Amber and Growbeck work on shoring up the fortifications and I start healing the wounded in the Inn.
When the documents are ready, we clean ourselves up to look as presentable as possible and head over to the manor house, it's a large house with huge spiked bars encircling the grounds, there are dead and burned creatures everywhere, Amber uses her badge to detect magic and sees Glyphs dotted around the grounds, arcane wards that repelled the undead that made it past the fence.
Roza uses Thaughmaturgy to project a greeting to the Mayor, we see movement, a large pipe with a flared end points in our direction, some kind of clever communication system.
"We have been sent by the Queen" Roza responds, "She has heard of your Plight", the gates open and the wards fade, we are ushered across the grounds, and are welcomed into a large opulent foyer, there are statues, ludrious decorations and ostentatious paintings all around us, the mayor's voice rings throughout the house, insisting we take our shoes off, Growbeck takes some convincing but I manage to get everyone's shoes into the bag of holding, just in case this goes south. Growbecks socks are somehow muddier than his boots, he takes some pleasure in squashing as much as he can into the carpets as he walks.
As we leave the room, a powerful wall of force parts to let us through, this is powerful magic. We're led into a common room, somehow it's even more opulent, there's world famous art here, some really classic pieces we didn't even realise had survived the abjuration. There are also paintings featuring him, participating in battles the party knows for sure he never participated in.
Roza takes some time to really flatter him and pump up his ego, it doesn't seem too difficult. The Mayor says that the Darkstar is in a Temple of Pelor in the mountains and that we need to go and get it, then bring it back here, he says that there used to be a pointless ritual the Mayor would undertake each year, but he stopped doing it as it was a waste of time, a foolish action that probably started this whole predicament and cost many lives, he's a pompous, self centred prat, caring only about himself and his reputation, but we have to bite our tongues and keep smiling.
Mayor Rallex gives Roza a peculiar item, he says it creates a hole in anything and can be used to trap items in interdimensional space, he also says that Zeff's weapon would be useful to have, he also provides us with he instructions to perform the ritual, but says it would be difficult to obtain all of the reagents.
We ask him if he can protect the townspeople while we head back, but he flat out refuses, he only cares for himself. Growbeck has had enough, he puts his axe through the table and leaves, Rallex magically repairs the table and suggests to Roza that she keeps her servants in line. Growbeck marches down the stairs to cause more carnage, cutting through some paintings and decor as he goes, Rallex isn't too happy, he traps him within a wall of force and thick poison starts filling the area. I manage to convince him to release Growbeck and he relents.
As the party leaves, I hand out all of the shoes and we decide to head back to Zeff first, to let her know the plan and find out what the townsfolk know.
She's frustrated to hear that the Mayor stopped undertaking the ritual, but doesn't know too much about the process as it is normally something in the Mayor's remit that doesn't involve the townsfolk, we ask if being the Mayor is an integral part of the process, we suggest that if it is, we could elect Roza, so that she can spearhead the ritual, Zeff agrees. They can't spare anyone to help as they have to prepare for tonight's attack, she also won't part with her magical weapon, seeing there's nothing else to be done, we set out for the temple.
We arrive a few hours later, there are 3 holes dug into the mountain, one is ground level, so we enter this way, Con'nor can sense Undead, along with some fiends, they're Nergaliid, strange giant, devilish toads. Lazlo's sword is also there. Roza turns invisible and scouts ahead, finding herself in a large Prayer room, filled with symbols of Pelor, there's also a large stone door at the back, unfortunately it's guarded by two large Nergaliid and a couple of dozen husk zombies. The other holes in the moment also exit into this room, it looks like something clawed its way out.
She relays this information and we try to come up with a plan, if I can get to the back of the room, I can cast a Magic Circle, forming a barrier while the door is opened, so we can pass through and they can't follow. We head back outside and climb up to one of the other tunnels. Roza casts Thaumaturgy and bellows down to the temple entrance, hoping to draw them away, they take the bait and move away, she then turns me invisible and I jump down from the tunnel, Roza casting feather fall so I drift down to the ground, I manage to sneak past the Nergaliid despite my full plate armour and get to the stone door, sketching out the runes and casting magic circle, a huge cylinder of divine light that will prevent them from following, they turn though and cast powerful magic at me, trying to siphon my life force, but I hold steady and maintain the barrier.
The others jump down from above and attack, Growbeck cutting through one of them, its visage appearing on this magical blade. Roza flings out some magic missiles damaging the other, Con'nor leaps down with an unparalleled grace and finishes off the last one. Everyone hurries through the magic circle as we hear the screech of the husks returning, opening the door and heading through as they slam into the barrier, unable to get through, Roza hits the entire group with a fireball, but none of them succumb, I'm glad we didn't fight them.
We head further down tunnel and head a voice in our head "Come in", as we walk into the room we see a statue of the Sun Queen, she's holding a jet black orb and the symbol of Pelor, there's a Nurgaliid in the shadows and Kronos spots two hooded figure in the Rafters, trying to hide.
"I am the Darkstar, I have been sleeping for some time, but now I am awake!" the voice sharp in our minds crows, "I am here, held in the hands of the heretic Queen, I was imprisoned here long ago, you've seen the beginnings of my army, I follow the great Drow God Lolth" as he's talking the figures drop from the rafters, lowering their hoods and raising their crossbows.
Amber and Growbeck take the opportunity to charge into the fray, hammers and axes swinging, crossbow bolts flying. "So disappointing" the Darkstar chides, unleashing a massive blast of crushing darkness that severely hurts us all, Amber shrugs it off and hurtles forward raining down hammer blows on to one of the Drow absolutely demolishing them,
I call down an Aura of Vitality and start healing the party, moving out of the darkness. Con'nor misty steps to the top of the statue and grabs the orb, while Roza opens up the portable hole on the ground. "I don't think you should be holding me" menaces the Darkstar as it pulses and wracks Con'nor with pain, but he holds on and misty steps down, burying the Darkstar into the dimensional hole. The relief only lasts a moment though, the hole rumbles and the a glittering skull bursts out, The Darkstars form revealed. "HOW DARE YOU!" it booms.
I heal Con'nor and hurl a guiding bolt at the Skull, but it is reflected by its arcane ward. Growbeck swings his axe to no avail, it seems highly resistant to damage or traditional weaponry. Rozas body fills with energy and she unleashes a colossal fireball, it splinters the skull and forces it back, but the fire reflects from it's remaining wards and engulf Growbeck and Con'nor, taking them to the ground. The skull siphons their life force and heals itself, they're hanging on by a thread, but I summon divine power and drive the evil out of their bodies, bringing them back from the brink.
The Skull rallies, but Roza is filled with more fury than I've ever seen her possess, she empowers another colossal fireball and drives it into the skull completely destroying it. As we survey the area, we find Lazlo and Shadows Sigh collapsed, I quickly get to work healing everyone, still groggy, we make it back to town.
Zeff and the townsfolk are happy to hear that the worst is over, they were preparing for their final stand, but now they turn their attention to the Mayor, storming his manor, but he's already gone, most of the art has been taken with him, but they do find a small fortune of money he embezzled from the town.
Kronos makes a great show of returning the sword to Lazlo, later that day after he has made a full recovery, he informs us that if we are to reopen the gateways, we will need a powerful energy source, and the help of an experienced Artificer, but where to find one?
Bloody arrogant skull... Boom!!!