The Empty Keg

Session 18

Recap
Lan shakes himself awake to the sound of goblin voices and heavy footfalls. Quickly he wakes the others and retrieves his weapon before the patrol figures out that something is wrong and the golems which should be here are not. A hobgoblin face spots Lan crouching behind the debris the Keg piled at the door to conceal themselves, and quickly orders an enormous warforged to retrieve the company! An enormous brute of a construct, carrying various bits of other warforged, kicks over the makeshift barricade and attacks. At first the fight is entirely mired in the tight quarters of the entrance, and it’s obvious that the Keg is running on empty. Fleng manages to slip past the warforged and engage the hobgoblin guards, meeting scimitar with fist. In the background, a small goblin uses various arcane instruments to control his servitor and hurls grenades at the party. Finally, after much back and forth, the brute of a warforged is pushed back and the rest of the company springs into action. The two sides trade blows, and Lan manages to stop the artificer goblin from escaping for help, while Krumroc calls upon the Flame to keep what’s left of the Keg functional. Once the warforged becomes enraged, he drops his weapons and grabs Joshua by the throat, then hurls him through the wall with terrifying force. Even that isn’t enough, and once the Keg manages to surround the beast and drop it, the remaining two goblinoids surrender.

Engaging the hobgoblin warrior, a female named Sietch, in conversation, Fleng realizes that she is no Bladebearer. Indeed, she claims to be a mercenary hired for coin, and is uninterested in paying with her life. She only wishes to be on her way, and she will leave the Keg to their business. The artificer, however, bears the hated marks. Krumroc agrees to let Sietch live if she proves herself by executing the other goblin and providing information. With a shrug, the sellsword retrieves her scimitar and ends the life of the wretched artificer. She can tell the Keg some useful information — the number of goblins under Valsath’s command and the location of two traps on the upper level — but she has never had to go below and has no idea what Valsath or Jelia are doing together, only that somehow these strange warforged seem to be under Valsath’s command. Honoring their agreement, the Keg lets Sietch go and she walks back out into the mists. The Keg decides to sleep again — trying to cure the despondency which afflicts half their number. Krumroc manages to shake off the disease, but both Lan and Jack sink deeper and deeper into depression; without proper care things will not go well for them. Krumroc’s realization about his order to Barnaby sinks in, and the old dwarf is overcome with remorse.

Exploring further on, the Keg finds a room from which they can hear voices in goblin trading numbers. Counting, perhaps? Deciding that action is the best plan, they kick the door down to find a room which quarters perhaps a dozen hobgoblins. The room is cramped with gear, and footing is uneven. Unprepared, the Bladebearers do not pose much of a threat; the fight is brutal and short, decisive for the Empty Keg, who take no prisoners this time. The goblins inflict their fair share of wounds, but nothing serious before Fleng snaps the neck of their leader. The Keg claims their wages as their own. Searching the room they discover ample usable supplies and a strange pressurized hatch underneath some food crates which they are unable to pry open. Deciding to leave it, for now, they explore further.

Down the hall, the Keg hears a repetitive sound of metal scraping against metal. Shrugging, Joshua and Krumroc batter down the door simultaneously and find a handful of hobgoblin guards standing in a room dominated by a strange glowing rune carved into the floor. Before the guards have a chance to react, the company charges — most die before they can even draw steel, but one manages to shout a warning to someone named “Dakai” before he falls as well. There is an ominous rumble from the door to the north, and the Keg moves into position to strike. With a roar, the doors are flung open with staggering force, catching several people in the resulting explosion, and two enormous, chain covered hands pull an equally massive metallic body through the resulting opening. The company reacts, battering the chain golem with everything they have, but the creature makes it through the doorway and begins to swing its chains about to force a defensive posture. Lashing out, the golem catches several of the Keg in its chains and pulls them closer. At one point Fleng is grappled in it’s meaty fist and subject to the golem’s terrifying strength.

While the company tries to deal with the golem, another goblin artificer hurls orb after orb of force into their midst, battering them with concussive force and orders another one of his minions to attack — a perfectly polished, ebon black warforged with a strange glowing rune on its chest. Though the warforged’s movements are smooth, it attempts and fails to draw out Krumroc’s life-force, before it is quickly surrounded and dismantled by the combined attacks of the company. It’s destruction does not stop the chain golem from wreaking more havoc, clutching Joshua firmly in hand while it whips chains at everything it can see and knocks people off their feet. A second enormous hand grabs Krumroc and begins to crush the life out of him as well, but the company rallies and directs all their fire into the golem. Finally Joshua topples it with a deft sword strike into what passes for a head, sending the construct crashing to the ground. At this point the artificer, Dakai, surrenders.

The Keg make a pact with Dakai — if he successfully opens the hatch, they will let him life. He protests that he does not have the key, but agrees to try. Upon questioning, he stammers that he is responsible for helping put the finishing touches on some of the constructs, but is not their true master. Valsath has the key to the hatch, and Jelia is probably below — she made some sort of a deal with the hobgoblins, but if the Keg wants her alive they will have to move fast since Dakai overheard Valsath speaking that the eladrin woman had outlived her usefulness. Trembling, the tiny goblin retrieves his tools and accompanies some of the Keg to the hatch. Joshua and Jack remain behind to brew potions and catalog the vast number of arcane powders and ingredients. Amazingly, the artificer manages to open the hatch, which leads down a cramped tunnel lit by a faint reddish glow. Industrial sounds can be heard from below. Looking up, Dakai asks if he’s free to go, and gets his answer at the other end of Krumroc’s hammer. The Keg reunites and ponders what to do next, having a bit of a heated conversation about both the best course of action and their treatment of prisoners.

Treasure
1100 gp in hobgoblin silver
1000 gm in pure, unadulterated residuum
4 potions of clarity
Rushing Cleats (Lan)

XP (total 1450xp per character)
Rude Interruption — 350xp
With Their Pants Down — 350xp
Chain Golem Smash! — 400xp
Interrogation, RP awards — 350xp

View
Session 17

Recap
After Barnaby runs off and the rest of the Keg simply watch it happen, uncaring either because of the wasting sickness that one risks traveling through the Mournland or because of simple animus, Fleng leads the company to the area where he last saw the Bladebearers. A narrow canyon leads towards a cliff-face which seems to have been blasted apart. Rubble and goblinoid corpses are scattered across the landscape — wisely, the party decides to proceed with caution. While Krumroc and Joshua debate the best course of action, the other three more stealthy members of the Keg decide to scout ahead. Lan’s keen elven eyes spot a patch of low-lurking mist which seems greenish tinged, and he and the other scouts opt to give it a wide berth.

Perhaps the scouts were too focused on the sinister looking mist, but none were prepared for an attack by the dessicated corpses of what appear to be Cyran infantry, bursting out of the ground beneath the two smallest targets and grasping them by their legs. While dealing with this attack and shouting for assistance, the greenish mist itself seems to come to life and drifts towards the Keg. Joshua is quick to determine it is a living spell — likely Cloudkill or Stinking Cloud — which remains animated by the power of the Mist itself. Joining the dead Cyrans is a screaming peasant woman, clutching a gaping hole in her stomach and wailing for her child over and over. The Keg springs into action, quickly separating the screaming woman from the soldiers and trying to delay the cloud as much as possible while dealing with the soldiers. The tactic is of mixed effectiveness. The soldiers are no match for Fleng’s mastery of unarmed combat and Krumroc’s hammer blows, but Lan is seriously injured holding both the woman and the cloud at bay — being a patch of choking toxic air, the cloud simply envelops as many people as it possibly can. Once the undead are dealt with, the Keg realizes that the best chance of destroying the mist is to dissipate it by forcing it to move as quickly as they can. This proves successful and after a pitched battle, the cloud fades away, it’s magic finally released.

Examining the dead hobgoblin corpses, the company determines that they seem to have died from suffocation, judging by the blue color of their skin. Further ahead, a small waterfall drains a mountain stream into an underwater aquifer. Investigating, Fleng sadly discovers the corpse of one of his students, who had been sent to keep an eye on the site but had never returned. He retrieves the familial totems of the goblin and ensures that he cannot be raised by the Mist. Krumroc looks through the dead man’s eyes and sees that the Bladebearers did indeed kill him while he was scouting, but learns that they seem to be inside the blasted out tunnel and have been carrying heavy loads inside.

Entering the tunnel, the Keg sees a recently placed mystical rune of warding and disables it long enough to pass, but leaves it armed. At the end of the tunnel they find a medium sized room made of worked stone, filled with all manner of strange constructs in various states of disrepair. The room itself is dominated by a large contraption, humming quietly and pulsing muted purple light from a gem set atop the machine. Curiously, Joshua notes that there seems to be some sort of a temporal field erected around the edge of the worked stone which seems to be keeping the Mist at bay.

As soon as Krumroc sets foot across the threshold of the field, the generator’s light intensifies and the dilapidated warforged animate themselves. Strangely, the parts of the constructs seem to be animated by some sort of magical energy which is clearly visible where a part is missing. They swarm the Keg and begin to lash out indiscriminately; unlike most warforged these seem to be hardly sentient, being unresponsive to communication and instead quietly moaning or being deathly silent. Joshua and Jack try to determine how to power down the generator while the rest of the company holds off the warforged — it quickly becomes clear that the generator can continue to reanimate the bodies of the warforged once they’ve gone down. Though the warforged don’t seem to be a match for the martial might of the company, one particular model seems quite adept at learning combat style of it’s opponent, and strikes Fleng a devastating blow. Finally, Jack and Joshua hack the firewalls and remove the internets, while disconnecting the machine from the power grid and decoupling it’s capacitors. Jack even at some point reverses the polarity. Deactivated, the generator stops powering the constructs and they fall to the ground, lifeless husks of steel.

Investigating, the arcane specialists learn that the generator was programmed via a series of mystical runes on small, similarly sized pieces of paper to attack any person who did not bear Bladebearer markings. Somehow, it used enormous amounts of necrotic energy to animate the constructs. The power source was clearly the purple stone set atop the machine, which Krumroc promptly prizes out with his dagger. Studying it, it seems likely that the stone is some kind of dragonshard. Placing it near the other two jet black stones the Keg has recovered, Joshua admits that it is possible that those stones are dragonshards as well, but that an expert would be better served in making that determination.

Tired from the Mist, the Keg decides to hole up in a corner of the workshop — apparently hobgoblins and animated warforged are a more attractive option than dealing with the denizens of the Mist and the chance of worsening the Mournland affliction. They barricade the entrance with pieces of the constructs and decide to chance it, hoping that their incursion has gone unnoticed. Sadly, they are soon proven wrong …

XP
700 each

Treasure
400gp
Purple dragonshard

View
Session 16

The Keg made their way from Skullreave towards the mountain stronghold of Al’amut, home of the Old Man. En route, Lan noticed a wisp of smoke on the horizon. Investigating, the Keg determined that a battalion of undead soldiers were being marched east to west. The company decides to inform Skullreave and to press on the Old Man with the information. Govaan and the motley escort of hobgoblins blindfold the party and lead them up the last part of the mountin into Alamut proper. There they are received kindly and given refreshments, a pleasant room to sleep in, and clean clothes. The next day they request an audience with the Old Man

Though the conversation is back and forth for a bit, the Old Man informs the Keg that their actions have not defeated Bel Ghinta — far from it. The demon lord was bound to Belash’s Tomb, and their killing him once something else had allowed him to manifest likely caused him to be cast back into Khyber and reform. Disturbingly, this was the second sign which the Old Man believes the Draconic Prophecy speaks of when it details the un-shackling of Bel Shalor, Lord of Shadow. The first? The reformation of a lost artifact which the Old Man now believes to be the Ashen Crown! There are many such signs and portents that the Prophecy seems to require, but the fact that two of them have occurred in such rapid succession caught the Old Man’s eye. Before he can say more, a dart strikes him in the throat and he topples forward!

The door to the room is pushed open an an enormous bugbear, one of those who had accompanied Govaan and the Keg up the mountain, strides forward, armed with a length of heavy chain. With a smirk he extends his arm and closes his fist, and a horde of goblins dressed in black swarm forward — two dozen or so, in all.

The hobgoblin, Marduk, uses his chain to leap onto the rafters, where he and most of his minions unleash a barrage of thrown weapons, all dipped in poison. Only Barnaby escapes the shower of metal by challenging Marduk himself. Meanwhile, Krumroc flips over the table and protects the Old Man while Jack maneuvers to what he thinks is a safer position, only to hear the sound of more footsteps approaching! Joshua unleashes a burst of flame, burning several ninjas, and then positions himself between Krumroc and the tide of goblins.

While Krumroc calls upon the Flame for healing, Jack blasts a ray of eldritch fire through three goblins, leaving a smoking hole in the chest of each one. Lan calls upon his ancestors to aid him, unleashing a horde of honored dead to counter the tide of goblin ninjas, then moves to assist Barnaby with Marduk. But Barnaby seems to be doing fine, nimbly dodging Marduk’s thrown acid and responding with a succession of quick stabs. Things look grim for Joshua — no less than a dozen goblin ninja swarm around him, stabbing and cutting with quick thrusts. Somehow, he is able to deflect almost every strike with astonishing skill, but one goblin blade strikes true. The wound seems to break Joshua’s composure, and he unleashes a flurry of devastating strikes, moving faster than any normal man could and cutting down goblin after goblin until only one remains.

Marduk, Lan, and Barnaby all exchange blows, with the Keg getting the better of it, while the remaining ninja switch to ranged attacks. The tactic is moderately successful, as both Krumroc and Lan nearly succumb to a score of minor wounds, but ultimately they are able to prevail. Jack strides across worlds and destroys as many ninja as he can, positioning himself to twist Marduk’s mind, which he does successfully — causing the bugbear to only be able to see Joshua, who relentlessly pursues every black clad goblin he can lay his hands on. While Joshua gives into his anger and uses devastating force and eldritch blasts of lightning to decimate the remaining ninja, Barnaby and Lan prevent Marduk from reaching his target. Frustrated, the bugbear lashes out at Lan’s spirit companion and throws a dagger at the elf, sending him to the ground. While Krumroc rushes to save his comrade, Barnaby finally pushes Marduk off the rafters and into the display case, killing him.

The Old Man stands up, seemingly unharmed. He reveals that he had doctored the tea against poison when Govaan had informed him that the Shadow Knives (the assassins to the Old Man’s scouts) had tried to use him to infiltrate Al’amut. Suspecting an attack, the Old Man had allowed the PCs to keep their equipment when seeing him, concealed under thick robes, to lure Marduk into making his attempt. While Govaan went to stop any report back, the Old Man was able to expose Marduk as well as test the mettle of the Keg. Though the company is somewhat upset about it, they manage to swallow their anger and strike a bargain — the Old Man wants to know why the Mournland has begun to expand. In exchange, he will dispatch one of his men to guide the party into the mists and to where Jelia and her Bladebearer escort were last seen. If the company provides useful information, he will use his contacts and experience to look into more of the Prophecy and perhaps determine what the next seal to be broken may be, to prevent it.

The Keg agree, and then discuss what to do with the Crown — finally they decide to break it into pieces and give one to each person, then take it with them into the Mournland, since neither the Old Man nor Govaan are actually Wordbearers. Master Fleng, the goblin guide, leads the PCs across the country and into the mists. There, the party does battle with their inner demons and tries to avoid the horrors that lurk — perhaps fortunately for them, Fleng is a skilled guide, and the Mists have not yet had enough time to completely taint the land. Feeling despondent, Krumroc and Barnaby exchange harsh words, and the halfling flees into the unknown. Only Joshua has the presence of mind to consider stopping him, and he decides not to. Fleng simply shakes his head and leads the Keg onward. By the end of the day, the wizened goblin has lead the company to a compound built into the side of a hill. An enormous hole has been blasted through one of the walls, and the bodies of dead hobgoblins lay scattered about.

XPs
Ninjas Attack. Epic. 425xp
Talking to the Old Man 300xp
Quest Completion 300xp
Mournland Expedition — Failure, Barnaby runs away!

Treasure
412gp
Poisons worth 500gp

View
Session 15

Recap
The world shook, the walls and statuary of the mausoleum came crashing down, and the barrier between realms ruptured. Krumroc watched in horror as Bel Ghinta pulled itself out of the pits of hell and began feasting on souls, but once his allies backed him he rallied himself and pressed the attack. At first things seemed grim for the Keg once Krumroc was yanked into the shadow world and his prayer to the Silver Flame was lost, but the company rallied themselves. Joshua cunningly kept the demon lord pinned against the wall, using the low gravity to his advantage as he hurled enormous chunks of rock (sometimes carrying tiny halflings as passengers) at the beast. Meanwhile, Lan distracted a horde of amorphous demons, hungry for his blood, and eventually with Krumroc’s help defeated them. Jack hurried to an advantageous firing position and relentlessly rained blast after blast into Bel Ghinta, and when the demon yanked Krumroc from this world once again, in a moment of desperation, traveled through the planes themselves to bring the cleric back to this world.

Blasphemous words forced themselves into Lan, and then Krumroc’s, minds, knocking them unconscious. Barnaby’s flesh began to melt from his bones, muscles lost their strength. The maddening whispers of the twisted creature’s mind touched the party over and over, driving them to their knees. But once the demonlings were finished off, Bel Ghinta was quickly surrounded. The creature flew into a frenzy, the maddening psychic blasts growing more frequent, but the creature could never get it’s bearings nor retreat into it’s own world. Lan pinned the demon to the ground with his spear and Joshua knew he had to act fast or miss his change — reaching out with magic, he grasped an enormous chunk of statute as it flew overhead and yanked it to the ground with bone-crushing force, disrupting the demon lord’s physical form.

The party awakened Najenta, who told them of her abduction and the events leading up to the demon lord’s rising. After the Swords of Liberty attacked, Laertes had fled with her, until finally she was taken by the hobgoblins. When one of the goblins questioned the wisdom of the plan, he was quickly executed. The warcaster who lead the band, some 30 strong initially, seemed to be acting under orders to get to the center of the swamp if pursued. He detached several squads to deal with the issue, but none ever returned, so grimly the hobgoblins turned to the swamp. Once there they had to face the mist wraiths and attacks from Laertes, which thinned their ranks to a mere half dozen.

The tomb was not shrouded in mist when she first arrived there, but once inside the warcaster used his ritual book to contact someone she assumed was his superior. After a brief one sided conversation where the warcaster gave a status report, his entire body suddenly seized up. He clawed at his throat and crumpled to the ground. His men moved to assist him, but he stood under his own power. It was then Najenta noticed the warcaster’s eyes had turned entirely red. With a wave of his hand, the warcaster pinned his men to the wall. He then used magic to dig a hole in the center of the tomb, placed an object inside, and began a lengthy ritual which culminated in him plunging a knife into his heart. Perhaps an hour later, the tomb door was kicked in and the Keg did battle with Bel Ghinta.

Laertes thanked the company for their help and offered to pay them with his remaining treasure if they would help him see Najenta safetly into Wordbearer hands, to which the Keg readily agreed. The party headed for safety, to rest up at Guncati’s cabin. Upon arrival, they saw no signs of life. Investigating, they discovered a week-old hobgoblin corpse matching Guncati’s description in the root cellar. Looking through the eyes of the dead man, Krumroc saw a fully-clothed humanoid striped cat creature snap Guncati’s neck, and then darkness. There was argument about what to do, with Barnaby adamant that the Keg had been manipulated by Tikulti again, but Lan was satisfied that neither the hag nor the mandusa was a shapeshifter, and so a restless night passed.

The Keg got an early start and tried to outrun the mist, but days on the trail had taken their toll and no one made good time. Another encounter with the mind-bending mists and the wraiths left the company with a bloody nose, but eventually they escaped and made their way to Skullreave where, two days later, they met up with Govaan. Govaan had fresh horses and was eager to see that Najenta was in good health, but pressed the need for urgency with the strange events. Now more than ever, Govaan wanted to hear the Old Man’s counsel. The Keg rode off towards the mountains at top speed, escorted by half a dozen Wordbearers, to see the old sage.

Treasure
900gp in gems and coin
Iron Armbands of Power (Krumroc, oh shit)
+2 Periapt of Cascading Health (Lan no longer has the worst defenses in the party, awww)
Ritual Book containing: Shadow Passage, Battlefield Elocution, Sending, Excavation.

Experience
Bel Ghinta Rises 500xp
Roleplaying award 350xp
Skill Challenge 150xp

View
Session 14

SUPER LONG RECAP OMG
Lan’s ancestor spirit, Kharif, tells him that the veil has been torn in this place, and that the restless spirits of the dead are streaming towards the breach. Knowing that the Valenari need Lan’s strength, the spirit instructs Lan to run. Joshua’s lit sunrod reveals a score of wraiths and hounds, all closing in, and there is no disagreement with the spirit — the Keg mounts up as quickly as possible and begins a mad dash into the swamp. Some wraiths manage to accost Lan, springing from the mists, but Kharif is there to hold some of them at bay and Krumroc wheels his mount to come to Lan’s rescue. The Keg eventually outpaces the wraiths, leaving only the distant baying of the mist hounds behind them, but cannot run from the mist itself which slowly, inexorably winds its way around the company.

Krumroc is convinced he hears the sound of battle and without a word turns his mount from the path to investigate. Joshua, lost in a world of his own, hears his companions going in another direction, and automatically moves to follow. Jack and Barnaby go after Krumroc while Lan moves to stop Joshua from getting too far ahead, but is almost too slow to stop Joshua’s escape — it’s up to Lan’s spirit companion, seen by Joshua as a wraith, to arrest him long enough. While Lan tries to talk some sense into Joshua, Krumroc eventually shakes off the mist’s control and sees that he is neck deep in thick gray mist, surrounded by distant globes of pale light. While Jack and Barnaby look on as if he’s mad, Krumroc confronts one of the light globes which responds in kind — lifting the dwarf into the air and sucking the life force out of him. Finally, that snaps the two diminutive members of the Keg out of their reverie and they move to help the dwarf. Eventually the Wisp falls, and Lan and Joshua pick their way back towards the rest of the group — though Joshua is still convinced he hears an advancing group of hobgoblins. Lan can see Wisps all around them, moving slowly and purposefully as they hunt, but also notes a warm orange glow off in the distance towards which he leads the party.

The Keg finds an ancient, re-purposed shrine to the Traveler, lit by simple torches. Investigating, they are confronted by an aged hobgoblin named Guncati and his two “dags:” Grip and Fang. The hobgoblin is surprised to see living people in his swamp, and once he’s convinced the Keg “ain’t some new kinda mist wraith” he invites them into his makeshift home. There he explains to them that after helping his people win independence (Joshua recognizes him as a famous artillery commander), he retired to the swamp to be left alone to hunt and live free like a true man should. About a month ago, the mists started coming with the wraiths, and he had to flee to the shrines of the ruined city as they seemed to afford some protection against the creatures, who are only active at night. He offers the company a place to sleep, and tells them that he will aid them in the morning. If the Keg’s “friends” have any sense, they may have headed for some of the shrines in the center of town, maybe even the one that holds the remains of Belash, one of the goblin high lords who pushed back the invaders and trampled demons beneath his feet.

Upon awakening to the tasty smell of swamp gator stew, Guncati tells the party that he will take them to the site of a battle he heard going on yesterday during the day. Good as his word, he shows the Keg the fallen bodies of hobgoblins and yuan-ti. Krumroc speaks with the spirit of the dead hobgoblins, and learns that their war leader instructed them to bring the hag to a shrine in the center of the city, to an ancient mausoleum, if there was any danger.

En route to investigate the mausoleum, Lan is set upon by a pair of crossbow wielding gargoyles under the command of a male medusa who wears a loose linen blindfold over his eyes — Laertes. Laertes demands to know Lan’s business, and when Lan’s answers are not satisfactory, he orders the rest of the Keg to show themselves. After a bit of bluster, they do, and Joshua carefully explains their position and seems to win the medusa’s trust. Laertes tells the Keg that he has been on the run for two days and has lost most of his men to repeated skirmishes with Bladebearers — this last skirmish was decisive, and the goblins took Nagenta the hag. His scouts pursued and watched as the goblins entered into the mausoleum and took up defensive positions around it’s exterior. Shortly thereafter, the mist began to flow out and encircle the building itself. Laertes lead sorties into the mist, but was rebuffed — the goblins had somehow been altered; they were stronger, faster, fiercely resilient, and he was forced to retreat. The Keg suggests joining forces, and Laertes explains that it may be possible to try to split the superior hobgoblin force (which he estimates at 20) by having his men play bait, leaving the door open to the company. Joshua and Krumroc agree to the plan but note that the goal is to get inside the structure. After Laertes’ men engage the goblins in the mist, the Keg rushes forward.

Possessed goblinoids guard the entrance, hiding in thick patches of mist. Seemingly immune to pain, the Keg fights a brutal battle back and forth. Goblins constantly pull Jack into the deeper mist, only to have the slippery gnome escape. Joshua goes one on one with the enormous bugbear captain, who eschews weapons in favor of attempting to crush Joshua’s windpipe — the monster almost succeeds. Lan uses his new powers to good effect, interfering with the possessed goblins’ plans, while Barnaby gleefully stabs away at anything he can.

Krumroc leaves the warmth of the Silver Flame outside to heal his companions and smashes the door down with Old Age. Inside he is shocked to see an enormous chamber lit by reddish light, covered by mosaics and dominated by an enormous four-faced statute of a goblin lord akin to Ashurta’s Tomb. There, held by some mystical force up against the walls, are a handful of goblins and a beautiful humanoid woman — none seem to be conscious, their mouths hanging open. Once he crosses the threshold, the Ashen Crown begins to burn with a cold intensity, driving the dwarf to his knees. Desperate, he yanks the crown off and flings it away, only to watch in horror as some unseen hand lifts the crown and moves to set it on the statute’s brow. The ground begins to shake and a great crack appears in the floor, gushing out dark gray mist. The ceiling and the statutes begin to crumble. Krumroc races to pull one of the hobgoblins down, but it is too little too late. As he runs desperately for the exit, he hears terrible maddening whispers in his mind, driving him to his knees again.

As Krumroc puts his hand out to catch himself, he realizes that some sort of unseen force covers the exit to the mausoleum, preventing him from leaving. He turns in horror to see a mass of writhing flesh, mouths, and tentacles pull itself out of the crack and begin to move towards one of the restrained goblins. Several more smaller abominations follow. Krumroc realizes that this is Bel Ghinta, mad demon lieutenant of Bel Shalor — the Shadow in the Silver Flame — thought long since destroyed or bound, but there can be no mistaking the maddening whispers in his mind. Voice caught in his throat, he tries to call for help, and the Flame hears him, bathing his maul in white flame and lending the dwarf new courage. The flame burns away the mist and weakens the barrier enough to allow Joshua to get inside, stepping over the corpse of the bugbear captain he’s just finished dueling with. Bel Ghinta’s whispers begin more frenzied as Krumroc’s hammer is ignited — waves of hatred and loathing roll over the Keg, so thick they are almost palpable.

There is no time to rest. No time to think. Bel Ghinta rises, and only the Empty Keg stands in its way.

Treasure
925 gp in coin from the dead bugbears and from the possessed bugbears.
2 potions of healing on the bugbear captain (he didn’t care to use them)

XP
Skill Challenge is 250 each
Possessed Goblins fight is 275 each
Roleplaying Award is 250 each
Total XP is 775.

View
Session 13

RECAP
The Keg relentlessly followed the trail, trying to catch up with the Droaamish emissary before it was too late. After an hour of hard riding through scrubland, they came across the dead bodies of several bugbears slain by poisoned arrows, along with their mounts. The tracks told a confusing story — the pursuing group split off in two separate directions, one following the first set of deeper, heavier tracks and the second riding off deeper into the swamp. Deciding to follow the heavier tracks, the Keg soon happened across the bloated corpses of a pair of yuan-ti and a horse near a pool of still black water.

Cautiously, the party approached, sending a horse galloping towards the pool. Their caution was justified when an enormous mountain of rotting vegetation lumbered out of the water, wrapped enormous vines around the horse, and pulled it under the depths. The rest of the vines seemed to respond and come alive, some moving to take part in the meal while others, more hostile and intelligent, turned their attentions to the Keg. Toxic mist blinded Barnaby and Lan, who were immediately set upon by a giant creature made up of innumerable vines. Joshua and Krumroc handled a second mass of vines while Twocopper carefully made his way into position and let loose with blasts of eldritch fire. While the acid burned Lan’s eyes, Barnaby fought his way free of the vines and cut down swaths of vegetation as the pair battled the plant creatures. Finally, the enormous mound of shambling plants finished it’s meal and turned to another snack — gnome! — only to have it’s prey blink away. Krumroc and Joshua finished off a mass of vines and then turned to confront the mound which was still trying to reach it’s tastiest morsel (what can Toxie say? gnomes are delicious).

After exchanging attacks, Krumroc called down the power of the Silver Flame to set the shambling mound on fire and Twocopper Jack had a brilliant idea — he could wrench the power of the Feywild just so and increase the potency of the fire. Without thinking, he leaped into action, but in so doing exposed the mound to electricity. With a start, the mound seemed to grow and convulse, drawing remnants of itself back into it’s central mass, and then unleashing an enormous explosion of static electricity followed by a potent blast of rotting toxic spores. The result was devastating: Jack fell to the ground coughing blood, Krumroc was badly shaken, and even Joshua’s seemingly inexhaustible reserve seemed to be somewhat taxed. Battling back from the brink, Barnaby broke away from the mass of vines he had been battling and went to the aid of his comrades. Shortly thereafter, Lan (still blinded by the acid) used his keen elven senses and perhaps a little bit of guidance from his ancestors and struck the viney mass dead center, ending it’s life.

Krumroc summoned up the spirit of the Flame itself to aid his comrades, which seemed to further enrage the beast. Despite Joshua’s best efforts, and now completely engulfed in flame, the enormous shambling mound wrapped vines around Krumroc, tossed him into the air, and enveloped him in a mass of decaying plant matter and acid on the way down. But if there’s one thing more furious than a burning undead plant, it’s a dwarf that’s just been eaten. With an enormous effort, Krumroc snapped the thick vines holding him in place as if they were twigs and brought up his hammer with such force that the central trunk of the think cracked clean in half. With nothing left to animate it, the vines and leaves fell away, leaving Krumroc coated in slime, but triumphant. The rest of the vines proved no match for the Keg, who quickly cleaned up the remainder.

Following the tracks again lead to an ancient causeway, smooth with white stone partially overgrown with moss and lined by the crumbling remains of retaining walls and parts of buildings. The whisper’s in Lan’s head became a cacophony as the sun began to set. Dizzy, Lan began bleeding from his nose and then toppled from his horse. The Keg rushed to his aid to try to determine what the problem was, and while they were bickering over the issue night fell. Lan, barely able to concentrate, knew one thing — something was very wrong. He managed to gasp out a warning as an unearthly wraith made up of dark gray mist seemed to menace Barnaby, and then suddenly a spectral elf stood between the wraith and it’s prey — Lan’s head cleared, the numerous voices replaced by only two. The voice spoke “to arms, brother! the veil has been pierced!” Feeling new strength in his limbs, Lan stood and joined the battle.

While the mist wraiths appeared out of nowhere, the fury of Lan’s ancestors and the might of the Silver Flame was overwhelming. The battle was short and brutal, leaving the wraiths howling for warm blood they would never taste as they vanished back into the mist. Lan hardly knew what he was doing, his actions guided by his ancestors, but the sense of danger was overwhelming. His spirit ancestor spoke: Lan, we are kinsmen. I am Kharif, and I tell you that it is not safe here. The veil between worlds has faded in this place, and the dead return from the realm of the dead. You must flee this place, and the mist!

(added for dramatic effect so you get the idea for next time)

Joshua’s sunrod had begun to dim during the battle, and finally it gave out entirely. Perplexed, Joshua lit another one from his pack, lighting up the desolate swamp for an instant before something began to suffocate that light as well. In that split second, all could see the dark gray mist moving in from all sides in patches, and the score of wraiths hissing their fury at the sudden light, drawing back into the mist. Then the light began to fade. Kharif turned to the rest of the Keg and spoke a single word in Elven: run.

TREASURE
Rebuking Chainmail +2
Boots of Springing and Striding
600 gp gems and coin

XP
700 each

View
Session 12

Recap
While the Keg plans their route into Dharguun to deliver the Crown to the Old Man on the Mountain and then see if they can discover the whereabouts of Jelia (the Eladrin Brelish agent who disappeared recently), Jarvis answers a knock at the door and finds his estranged nephew: Jack. Somewhat stunned, and deeply suspicious, the tiny gnome interrogates his relative and grudgingly allows him inside. There, Jack sees an old war comrade, and goes over to shake Joshua’s hand. Lan is cordial enough, but Barnaby, for once, seems to respect Jarvis’ view. Or maybe he just has a problem with people shorter than he is (you can’t trust them, after all!).

Catching up with his old comrade at arms, Jack reveals that he’s new in town. Joshua tells a brief story about Jack’s prowess as an “extraction specialist” and “linguist,” and Krumroc seems interested enough to engage in a quick impromptu interview. While Jarvis huffs and puffs about his nephew staying over, obviously jealous that the Keg suddenly has a new favorite gnome, Barnaby demands that Jack prove he’s not a zombie, Tikulti, or some other kind of shapeshifter. He seems satisfied when Jack consumes beer laced with holy water, though is even more suspicious that someone wouldn’t want to drink beer at all. Krumroc gives Jack a brief rundown of the benefits (there are none), and the pay (very poor), as well as the risks (very high), and informs Jack that he’s on 90 day probation and that regular pay checks are delayed up to one month, but other than that, wishes him a hearty welcome into the fold as the Keg’s newest extractor! It doesn’t hurt that no one seems to think leaving translation to Barnaby is a particularly good idea and that Jack is fluent in half a dozen languages.

The Keg has Jarvis purchase tickets on the lightning rail to the town closest to Dharguun, only to find that he’s placed them in steerage. Barnaby immediately trades Jack for some chickens, and Jack is forced to use his “gnome magic” to convince some yokels that their fowl was worth the trade. When Barnaby runs off to find the kitchen, Jack gamely attempts to distract the conductor, but the rest of the Keg knows better — Barnaby being somewhere else along the train just means they can get a proper night’s sleep for once. A week later, the Keg finds themselves in a rustic town on the far eastern side of Breland, and get an inn for the night. Of course, nothing is simple, and the next morning at the crack of dawn Lan is awoken by the sounds of Barnaby “helping out” by stealing horses. Deciding that a quick exit is in order, he wakes the rest of the Keg and they slip out the back entrance and try to get themselves out of town quickly. After a brief conversation with a gullible peace officer, they succeed. Meanwhile Barnaby has hidden the horses in the mountains and waits for his friends to show up, and is quite confused when Joshua and Krumroc seem to somehow think that taking horses that no one else was using ANYWAY is some sort of bad idea. Those stupid-heads can just walk, if that’s what they want!

Finally, the company makes its way over the border into Dharguun through a mountain pass only to notice smoke and carrion birds on the horizon. Seeing as how the birds appear to be feeding, the party investigates and finds a scene of ghastly carnage. It seems as if a group of humans wearing the livery of the Swords of Liberty, a Brelish terrorist group, clashed with a group of monstrous humanoids wearing the badges of the Sisters of Sora Kell. Lan is able to tell that members of both sides survived, but not who attacked who. More curious than the fact that supposed terrorists were in uniform, a closer inspection reveals that some of the humans bear the mark of house Deneith (who are often found in Dharguun recruiting hobgoblins). Govaan blanches white and jabbers that Yeraa knew that Droaam was going to be sending an envoy to the Wordbearers to discuss military aid in a seemingly inevitable campaign against the Bladebearers, but now that it appears that Brelish sponsored freedom fighters have either assassinated or abducted the Droaamish envoy, they could be drawn into a war against Breland instead. He insists on informing his superiors, and gives the Keg a rendezvous point for a week later, then begs them to see what, if anything, they can learn. It seems the poor constables from the border town, chasing after Barnaby, got here sooner than the Keg did and met a grizzly fate, but at who’s hands is uncertain.

The Keg follows the trail away from the mountains, into the scrubland that turns to forest and then finally to marshland. Lan thinks he sees a Sword of Liberty man watching them, and he and Barnaby give immediate chase, only to find that it was some sort of trap — the Swords have set up an ambush or a base in a ruined tower. It’s a hard slog of a fight, through dense brush and uphill. Lan turns the pit trap the Swords have build into a deathtrap for the other side, dumping as many people as possible inside. Barnaby charges the archers and gives them a bloody nose, while Krumroc and Joshua mop up the ranks of the guardsmen and their captain. Jack gets in on the action, engulfing his enemies in fire from the feywild and staying out of trouble. Lan’s quick thinking may have placed the Sword guardsmen at a disadvantage, but they leave him open to concentrated fire and he almost goes down. Slowly but surely, the Keg pulls it out and defeats their foes. They discover that the tracks show that the group of Swords split up at this tower, some continuing on into the forest, the others having remained here to set the ambush.

Pressing on, a band of Bladebearers confronts the Keg at the entrance to the swamp proper. This fight barely slows the Keg down — knocking bugbears aside so they can charge the mounted archers, but one mounted hobgoblin archer escapes, leaving the company in a dangerous position as night begins to fall. Joshua knows that there used to be a city nearby before the Delkyr invasions, but whether anything still remains or if it is even the destination of either group of survivors is unclear.

The entire situation seems wrong somehow, but no one can really place a finger on it. But why are there terrorists openly wearing the flag of their cause? Why attack Droaamish diplomats? How did they get into goblin territory? Who attacked who, and where are the survivors headed? Are the Bladebearers involved, or were they defending their territory? Things don’t add up, but the Keg simply knows that if knowledge of a Brelish attack on Droaamish diplomats gets out, there will be unfortunate consequences for Breland and for Dharguun alike and Govaan has begged them to help him manage the situation.

XP
Roleplaying + 2 encounters = 1000xp each

Treasure
788gp in coin, and a sinister fist sized onyx gem that was placed ominously at the base of the ruined tower (probably worth around 500gp)

View
Session 11

Recap
In the aftermath of the battle against Demise, the Keg collects their wits (and the loot) and return to the Keg’s headquarters where they are met with an explosively angry gnome and an overserious goblin. Jarvis demands to know where the Keg’s been and what they intend to do about a mountain of bills; Govaan only seems to care to hear that Tikulti is dead. The Keg pack Jarvis off to run errands and discuss their plan to hunt Tikulti with Govaan, who requests that the company honor Yeraa’s final purpose and help him bring the Ashen Crown to the Sage on the Mountain (a hobgoblin so old he’s claimed to have seen the entirely of the Last War). The Keg agrees in substance, but before they can hammer out details, there’s a knock at the door ordering entrance in the name of the King!

Corporal Bronnal Tuck and an entourage of guards begin to enter the building, talking about a writ of arrest, but Bronnal immediately changes his tune when he sees Govaan. With a dozen leering guardsman looking on, he and Krumroc speak in private and Bronnal explains that the Keg is charged with serious accusations — breaching their contract to the Brelish state, murder of the Wordbearers (in their agency as Brelish interests), and theft of the Crown. Once Krumroc explains that Govaan is one of the Wordbearers, Bronnal does some thinking and then requests that the Keg not reveal that they are Brelish agents and to present themselves to the Citadel within the next few hours. Speaking for the Keg, Krumroc agrees, and Bronnal says he will be sending a car to pick them up.

Krumroc makes up a story to satisfy Govaan and the company gets their gear together to go to the Citadel. The chauffeur arrives and the Keg board the skiff. Halfway to their destination however, Barnaby notices something is amiss when the driver seems to be fiddling with the controls and heading the wrong way. When pressed, the driver merely laughs maniacally and slams his fist into the controls after putting the airskiff into a deadly dive towards a huge tower. Barnaby decides enough is enough and slams the driver through the front windshield just as Lan notices a number of airskiffs bearing down on the Keg — a transport skiff and three maneuverable two-seaters.

Joshua attempts to determine what’s wrong with the controls while Barnaby rushes towards the transport skiff, leaps through the air, and engages the three greatsword wielding troopers in brutal melee, kicking the driver away from the control stick! A bridge looms in the distance, both the transport skiff (and Barnaby) and the taxi skiff on direct collision. While Lan exchanges fire with several men wielding staffs which discharge enormous amounts of lightning. Joshua watches the pilot of the taxi (who Krumroc realizes must be another illusion wielding dreadclaw!) throw himself to his death, and uses his mastery of lightning to yank an overeager lightning artificer off his ride. Desperately, Krumroc takes the controls and manages to free the control stick just enough to dive underneath the bridge (taking the top of the windshield off just in time). The transport skiff with Barnaby and the troopers is not so lucky — it crashes full force into the bridge, throwing Barnaby and the troopers clear.

The smaller airskiffs jockey for position, locking wings with the Keg’s skiff and raking the company with blasts of lightning and synaptic scrambling sonic pulses, but Krumroc refuses to yield control of the skiff. Barnaby goes mad and slices through the shocktroopers, rushing forward to leap past Joshua to engage one remaining pilot on a smaller airskiff. Lan climbs out onto the side of the airskiff and dumps an artificer off the edge, sending him plummeting to his death. Clouds blanket most of the field in concealment. A pilot moves to take a swing at Lan, but Krumroc is ready, and slams Old Age into his foe’s chest and sends him tumbling, silent, to his death through the cloud bank!

Joshua moves to engage the occupants of a second small skiff which has come close to the Keg’s skiff as several towers come out of the fog, on direct course for the company’s skiff. Thinking fast, Krumroc returns to the controls and locks wings with the small skiff, then pulls up and to the left, dragging the enemy skiff directly into the path of the towers. While Lan and Barnaby hold off the remaining attackers, Krumroc and the enemy pilot engage in a battle of will and wits. Krumroc locks his steely gaze on his foe and is unwavering. The mercenary can’t break free and his skiff explodes against the side of a tower, throwing him and his companion onto the Keg’s skiff. Barnaby finishes off the pilot of a small airskiff while Joshua and Lan kill all but one remaining enemy, who meets his end when Barnaby backs his commandeered airskiff down on top of him, crushing the poor soul to the deck of the Keg’s battered airskiff.

The Keg continues to the Citadel and meets with Bronnal, who assures the company that the Brelish government had nothing to do with the attack and it will be investigated. Meeting with Kalaes, the Keg attempts to explain themselves and turn the situation around on Kalaes’ double agent, Tikulti. Arguments rage back and forth, but everything seems to be resolved when Kalaes has a priest cast Zone of Truth and repeats his questions. Satisfied, Kalaes explains that he is greatly disturbed by Tikulti’s betrayal, and expresses concern as to the Keg’s ability to finish the job and get the Crown into Wordbearer hands. The company asserts that they intend on bringing the artifact to the goblins, and are fully capable of doing so. Kalaes agrees to take care of the Keg’s bills if the company will carry out their promise, and then approaches them about another matter.

Specifically, an eladrin agent named Jalia who was a researcher for the Citadel has gone missing. She’s covered her tracks well within the Citadel — Kalaes has Bronnal working to determine what it was she was researching when she went AWOL — but they have reports that she was seen heading east in the company of a number of hobgoblins and goblins, which leads them to believe she’s headed for Dharguun. Since the Keg is headed there to make a delivery, he wants them to determine where Jalia is going, if she’s going willingly, and use their discretion to protect Brelish interests by either eliminating her and/or securing whatever it is that she’s in Dharguun for.

Kalaes will pay another thousand gold once the mission is complete, and will provide the Keg with all the intelligence he has collected about the situation thus far, but stresses that the Wordbearer mission begin completed is by far the more important of the two at this juncture. Though he is stern, Kalaes makes it clear that there are no hard feelings between the Citadel and the Keg, and that they are just as much a victim of Tikulti as the Keg was — but that he had to take the accusations seriously, especially given Tikulti’s stature within the organization. He promises to share information with the Keg if he learns anything new about Tikulti himself.

XP
500xp Airskiff Hijack!
250xp Roleplaying Award

Treasure
1000gp Brelish advance
500 gp Artificer Staff (no use as an implement)

View
Session 10
THE ASHEN CROWN IS YOURS!

Recap
The Keg made the switch for Govaan’s antidote, leaving Reed to his fate. Revived, Govaan pressed the characters to hunt down and kill Tikulti, and waxed maudlin about his lost opportunity with Yeraa — though he tried not to let anyone see it, he was very upset, and frustrated at his helplessness. The company tracks down Delan’s airship, the Kordanga, and learns that someone recently used the linked portal to move to Sharn, and yet now the portal has been closed until further notice. Undaunted, the characters take to the air and engage in some cryptic banter with Tikulti who seems interested in taunting them into following him to Sharn.

Before they can make heads or tails of the information, an enormous blast rocks the airship! A young iron dragon, hungry for treasure, has badly damaged the ship and is demanding tribute, but seems comfortable just crashing the Kordanga so he can take his pick of the cargo. The Keg leaps into action, trying to save as many crewmen as possible. The dragon is pushed over the edge of the airship several times, but continues to circle around and return to the attack. One notable moment is Barnaby’s seemingly superhuman attack — leaping off the airship, sending the dragon into a tailspin, and jumping off the dragon’s head to catch the rigging on the underside of the airship. The dragon seems unconcerned with the damage being done to it, but there is a sudden reversal when Krumroc’s axe strikes true, Lan’s spear finds purchase in the beast’s neck, and Barnaby tears vicious gashes into the creature’s underbelly, covering him in the dragon’s lifeblood.

The ship lands at Sharn and the Keg avoids agents of the Citadel, on the hunt for them. Using the sending stone, they get in touch with Demise, who seems irritated at the interruption, but then tells the company to meet her at the site of their best handiwork. On a hunch, the Keg goes back to the tomb of Ashurta! Jaenus is setting up guard in the first room with members of the Claw, but he’s no match for the combined might of the Keg who make short work of him and his guards.

Pressing forward, the Keg sees the Claw guarding the passage to Ashurta’s resting place. Springing into action, they are caught by surprise by a demonic humanoid they’ve never seen before, wreathed in black flame, and by Tikulti’s blade. A pitched battle ensues — the demon-man goes down swiftly, Tikulti’s summoned ghost-skull firing blasts of negative energy into everything it can reach. Tikulti himself is a blur of motion, parrying and riposting, counterattacking over and over. His blade deals Krumroc a fearsome wound to the side, dropping him; Barnaby bleeds from a score of serious injuries; things look grim. Joshua calls upon the hidden talents of his art and demolishes his foes with an eruption of lightning, sizzling everything in its path. Finally, Joshua is able to cross blades with the fiend Tikulti! Tikulti’s bladework is impressive, but he is no match for Academy training! Time and time again Joshua turns aside Tikulti’s rapier until Barnaby, enraged, paralyzes his enemy by severing his spine.

The Keg moves swiftly, hearing chanting from the passageway, and kick the door into Ashurta’s resting place down. There they find Demise, surrounded by ghouls and zombies, and Nephret tied to a sarcophagus, screaming for help. No words are wasted — each side knows why the other is here. The ghouls’ poison is staggeringly effective, separating Demise from Barnaby who inflicts hideous amounts of carnage, but takes almost as much in return. Krumroc lifts Old Age high and deals out a devastating blast of silvery flame, searing the undead and making them easy targets for Lan and Joshua, but Barnaby is seriously wounded by Nephret’s sudden betrayal — she is but a thrall of Demise! Taking advantage of the halfling’s weakened state, Demise finishes him off and animates his barely conscious body as her minion, leeching his lifeforce away and causing him to inflict serious damage to Lan. Once again, Joshua finally closes with his foe and entraps her in arcane magics. Seriously wounded, Demise assumes ghostly form and attempts to flee. It is not Joshua’s magical abilities that finally fell her, but simple swordsmanship — a thrust into her back as she tries to run, and she falls to the ground.

The moment of triumph is ruined by only one thing — the hollow sound of applause from the sending stone. Tikulti lives, and wishes to congratulate the Keg on being so accommodating and having done such an excellent job. He seems particularly interested in the actions of Barnaby and Joshua, who seem to delight him, and assures the company that they will meet again — but of course, they probably will never know when. Tikulti seems to find the concept entertaining, and leaves the party listening to the echoing sound of his laughter.

XP (1260 each)
Flight of the Iron Dragon! (250xp)
Jaenus or Janice? (250xp)
Wheels Within Wheels, Plans Within Plans (360xp)
Final Demise (400xp)

Treasure
Disrupting Mordenkraad +2, called “Old Age”
Leather Armor +1
False Blood Amulet +2
Shadowdance Robes +1
Staff of Ruin +2, called “Demise”
Potion of Healing
200gp of Aereni jewelry
200gp ritual components
400gp gold

View
Session 9

Summary
Yeraa and the Wordbearers emerged from the bowels of the city cloaked in a foul illusion of life. Only Barnaby pierced the ruse and saw them for what they were — pale imitations of life. His child-like ability to see things as they really are may have saved the life of everyone in the Keg, as he had just enough time to shout a warning before Yeraa summoned up the full might of her newfound dark powers and brought catastrophe to the marketplace. The resulting explosion left few alive and the Keg out of position. Cackling Wraiths made off with Barnaby’s sharrash and he was forced to use the weapons of his mother to unleash retribution on his former allies.

The stress was too much for Krumroc who flashed back to old wars and old friends who had become twisted into undead mockeries, trying desperately to save comrades long since dead. Yeraa ended her existence on the edge of his blade, as had so many others Krumroc cared for — but he knew he had no choice, then and now.

When the battle was over, Lan’s keen eyes spotted Govaan crawling up the hole to the crypt. Govaan managed to croak out a simple order: “kill him,” before succumbing to a terrible poison. Barnaby examined the goblin and immediately recognized the foul poison — Black Dog, made from ground khyber dragonshards! Extremely expensive, and extremely deadly. Joshua and Barnaby rush Govaan to receive treatment and manage to delay the affliction while Lan looks after his old friend Krumroc, who is too shaken to have fully come to his senses. Barnaby takes to the streets and determines that he needs to meet with the goblin poisoner Swift, and to do that he needs to meet with Asta Blade in her club: the Silenced Stage. Meanwhile Krumroc bluffs the Tharashk guards into letting him have a moment with his “wife” and sees her last moments — Tikulti broke a vial of some kind of gas just as the Wordbearers had found their prize, and watched them all die.

The Keg forces their way into the Silenced Stage and searches in vain for Asta, but only succeed in getting drunk, setting the floor on fire, and antagonizing the bartenders. Though, to be fair, Joshua also manages to completely fail to pick up the ugliest fattest girl in the city, which takes some skill in and of itself! Lan slips past the bouncers and meets Asta, catching her feeding from one of her guests. Desperately he attempts to strike up a deal, but he has nothing to offer her. Finally once the rest of the Keg makes it up to meet with Asta, their story comes out, and she agrees to trade information and a “boon in the future” for setting up a meeting with Swift.

Swift seems amicable to a deal and proposes a “win-win” situation. The Keg just has to rescue Barnaby’s brother (who he claims he doesn’t have), currently a statute in Xorchylic’s courtyard for some crime. Swift wants her “business associate” back and is willing to exchange him for the antidote to Black Dog. The Keg sobers up and sets off.

The company barges past the first checkpoint of Znir Pact gnolls and attacks them in the street, knocking them unconscious. The second checkpoint is convinced there’s a fire in the city by Joshua’s tale of cultists and magic (perhaps they knew something he didn’t!). The keep itself seems insurmountable, but Lan has a plan — he’ll make Joshua’s tale of cultists and fire real. He sneaks through the city and creates an enormous explosion of alcohol, giving the rest of the Keg an opportunity to sneak into a more lightly defended keep. Joshua disarms the wards on the walls and Krumroc comes face to face with a guard who doesn’t have enough time to cry out before he’s thrown from the battlements to his death. The Keg searches the courtyard quickly before other guards are alerted and find the statute they’re looking for, but in doing so disturb the last line of defense — gargoyles!

One strikes at Krumroc as he’s balanced perilously halfway up the massive stone wall, a stone weight tied to his back! Barely missing, the gargoyle wheels for another pass, but Barnaby pulls Krumroc to safety and draws his weapons — interposing his body between the gargoyle and it’s prey. Sword sparks with stone as the two clash, buying Krumroc enough time to somehow find the strength to make his way down the other side of the wall and run towards Lan’s covering fire. Once Krumroc starts to move, nothing can stand in his way, but both he and Barnaby know that he’s a sitting duck for the gargoyle.

Lit against the crescent moon, Barnaby ties himself the the rope, climbs atop the battlements and steels himself for another pass from his foe, howling his challenge. The gargoyle wheels and strikes, talons outstretched, as Barnaby leaps off the wall and meets the beast in mid air. His sword plunges into the stone monstrosity, ripping a huge gash in it’s chest. Both combatants go plummeting forward at breakneck speed, and then the rope goes taut and they swing back into the wall of the fortress. Barnaby twists and turns, locked in combat with his foe, and manages to dash the gargoyle into the wall, shattering it into hundreds of pieces.

Meanwhile, Joshua is attacked by the gargoyle’s companion, and decides that a tactical withdrawal is in order. Knowing he can’t get up the wall past a gargoyle, he does the only thing he can — runs towards the portcullis at breakneck speed. Two gnolls hear the sounds of combat and move to block his path, uncomprehending, and something about the scene triggers the hint of a memory in the back of Joshua’s mind. The battle of Steam Fortress was lost because a gate built by the same architects was opened from within! Thinking fast, Joshua focuses his latent telekinetic powers and pulls the switch for the portcullis as he dashes past the gnolls, not waiting until the entire apparatus has been raised! He tucks and rolls, sliding under the enormous ogre-sized gate and comes up in a run. The gnolls are too slow to follow, but the gargoyle is another story! To save time, the beast tries to fly underneath the portcullis, knowing it can outrun Joshua in the streets — but Joshua releases his hold on the switch and the gate comes crashing down on the thing, pinning it to the ground.

XP
Yeraa’s Last Stand (310 xp each)
Goblin Princess of Crime (200 xp each)
In the Garden of the Mindflayer (400 xp each)

Treasure
Akitani’s Stonemeld Leather +2
→ daily minor action, resist 5 all until the end of next turn

Yeraa’s Oathblade Longsword +2, named “Promise”
→ Crits deal 2d10 to targets you mark, daily power to deal 2d6 to a target you have marked

Petrified Statute of Reed D’Ghallanda

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.