Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Zhents Session 18: The Crypt of Heroes and the Monks of the Black Orchid

After the battle with the Servants of Cyric the characters divide the spoils and rest the remainder of the day and into evening while Lucas kept vigil. During the night Lucas spotted a dark figure watching from a far; Lucas would be wary.

Also during his watch Lucas noticed how the buildings of Kellet seem out of place for Daggerdale and the town’s design seemed advanced when compared to other nearby rural towns. Havaok meanwhile experienced a fitful sleep with visions and flashes of the Green ‘giant’ visiting physiological terrors on the Guetha-Niz, the black unicorn while the others slept well satisfied in their rightful defeat of a rival faith.

After a period of rest it is midnight and the beginning of the seventh day Havaok summoned his mount and calmed the upset beast. El Guapo and Tiberius examined the texts from Sumel: 

Bookmarks throughout the tomes was something called the domains of dread; demiplanes of evil and corruption. Similarly, any mentions of the Shadow Road, (the) Ways, or Ley Lines are called out as well.

Included in the codex is a rough hand-drawn map of Daggerdale; the map indicates Kellet with an elemental symbol of air, umbral markings where Green Orb and Bloodstone (Highstone) are located, and finally oaken-leaf symbols near three existing locations of Dagger Springs, Cold Springs, and Anathar's Dell each circled with question marks LEY LINES?

Written on the last page: 'What does the Fey want with Daggerdale?' and 'Does Havaok want to return Merrydale to domains of dread?'

Eventually characters pick up and venture deeper into Kellet to search leading toward the tallest structure in town: a forty foot tall four-sided stone plinth. Along their path the characters encounter for the first time an area of wild magic. Drifts of multicolored smoke-like clouds hung lazily over beautiful black orchids, a grove Dylan had discovered earlier that seemed well tended. Magical tests proved inconclusive as the characters tried to illicit a surge of magic from the wild area. 

An hour later the characters arrive at the tallest structure in Kellet, the Crypt of Heroes guarded by the White Necromancer- a guardian of considerable power who snuffed the life from Rancor almost immediately. The guardian necromancer was no match for Havaok’s sword and Guetha-Niz's hooves and was temporarily defeated allowing the antipaladin access into Bardolf Brightblade’s crypt where he was gifted a divination with the trapped soul of Malyk. The inside of the crypt was a gravestone on a dark grassy knoll beyond which was a dusky thunderstorm. 

After introductions Malyk told Havaok how he sought a way to rid Daggerdale of the Sword of the Dales. His investigations led him down many dead end paths, but eventually he discovered the burial crypt of Bardolf, the crafter of the blade, as well as an air elemental font inside the Crypt of Heroes. Malyk thought that by casting the Sword of the Dales into the air elemental font it would destroy the sword, but in uncovering the air elemental font the White Necromancer trapped Malyk's soul within the Crypt. Ilthond never got as far as the characters in his search for Malyk, instead falling at the Tomb of Shraevyn. Malyk’s last words to Havok in controlling Daggerdale was as cryptic as one might expect: When you control all ‘avenues’ into and out of the dale, then you will have complete control of the dale.

Meanwhile, as Havaok was battling the White Necromancer the rest of the party was searching for Dylan who had ran in terror of the guardian who seemed to the rogue to be the crypt-tower itself. In expert rogue fashion Dylan was able to escape to the frustration of El Guapo and Lucas who both went in search of their comrade.

Dylan however encountered an individual dressed as a monk would, who Dylan believed removed his fear. The man was dressed in grey robes, displayed no weapons and no armor could be seen under the robe that had a black orchid stitched over a dragon in profile. Seeing Dylan was lost, the robed man offered to lead the rogue back to the Oracle and to bring the fallen one to their sacred rock garden.

Back at the Crypt of Heroes Havaok was expelled from the tower as the White Necromancer reasserted control just as Dylan, Lucas and El Guapo return to find Tiberius’ fallen body. Without a moment to spare the characters take Tiberius’ body to the sacred rock garden, an area of perfect symmetry where colored rocks and stone from the ruined town had been laid out to form a scene in perspective- a dragon reading a great tome in a library of great tomes.

Here waited three similarly dressed men each with a black orchid/dragon stitching over their hearts and began tending to the body of Tiberius with extracts and oils. These men reminded the characters of the Librarian occultists of the Tesseract in their practices. There were very few words spoken between the grey robed individuals and the characters, instead working their rituals on the body of Tiberius as the characters discuss their next course of action.

Meanwhile, Tiberius' soul waited alone in a surreal afterlife of shadow and darkness under a sky of inter-dimensional pathways for the world of the light to call him back. 

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