Ryan's Wrath

Round 4

Hammer first, question later

The story of our heroes continues with Quoril, Anton, Leucius, and Edric recovering from a battle with masked cultists. The fight has left them wounded yet invigorated. They are still reveling in their prowess when they hear a sound of intermittent scraping stone from a corridor off the room. The old man from earlier runs into the room yelling, “The Delvers are speaking!”. Fearless, the heroes run to confront this unknown power.

Quoril opens a door at the end of the corridor to a wide chamber, filled with many stones of varying sizes, some of which are floating through the air. Some stones have humanoid skeletons resting on top them. Quoril spies the movement of a robe behind a stone at the opposite end of the chamber and signals the party to advance with stealth. The group fans out across the room. Quoril comes upon a man dressed in robes and crown and holding a staff. The robed man is not caught off guard and whirls on Quoril shouting, “This cave will be your tomb!” A glimmering shield fends of Quoril’s initial melee, but even scrambling up a large stone, quick as a dire spider, is not enough to save this priest. Quoril lands a monstrous hammer blow and smashes the priest’s head in. The boulder shakes, and Mirabar trade bars (Mira-bars) fall from the robes of the dead priest.

Following the battle, a half-orc named Grun runs in shouting “What have you done?!” and insists the party must come meet with Marlandrow. The heroes follow, passing the room with the dwarven statue and through another passage. They learn from Grun that he, these priests, and some of the village notables were apart of a cult of worshipers of spiritual stones (named Delvers) below Red Larch. The robed priest was named Larrakh, who had come to the village recently and taken over leadership of the cult. Larrakh and his masked cronies only read evil omens from the Delvers and pushed the cult to civilian sacrifices. After being threatened for more info, Grun confesses to the names of the other village cultists: Albery (the quarry boss), Ilmouth Walver (the cheap, drunk wagon-maker), Marlandrow (a shop keeper), and Baraugustus (the old man from before).

The groaning of a child is heard beyond. The heroes uncover a boy, named Brailin, pinned down by rocks in a form of torture. The room also contains chains connected to a bar of hooks and trailing up through a hole in the ceiling (linked to a series of traps). After the group frees him, Brailin confesses that he is being punished by Larrakh and is glad to hear of his death. It becomes clear that the heroes have killed all the foreign priests, and their nefarious dealings and stealings were the source of Ilmouth Walver’s low wagon prices!

Leaving Brailin, Grun, Baraugustus, and the caves behind, the party finds the way back to the surface and a night-covered Red Larch. They first wake Mangelbar, the Zentarim agent, who is quite surprised to hear how deep the wagon conspiracy went! Next they wake Harborrow the constable who, after hearing the situation recounted, grabs a sword and forms a posse. They discover a terrified Marlandrow attempting to hide the bodies of the sacrifices. Marlandrow attempts to flee but is brought down by one of Edric’s arrows to his leg. Walver and Albery are eventually rounded up, too. The heroes are thanked for their service and finally turn in for sleep at the inn. Anton takes a moment to summon a fiendish familiar before bed: a bat, named Pistachio.

That night, all but Leucius are visited by a terrible nightmare of a screaming skull. Anton wakes to the sound of Pistachio screeching and flapping about his room. As the screams of the nightmare start to fade, the flesh-note found by the party days ago flutters above Anton and slides between the leafs of Tharizdun’s Diary of Shadows. It is now permanently fixed there, as if it always was. A perplexed Anton falls immediately back to sleep.

The party wakes that morning to shouts in the street below. A sinkhole had formed in the village road, swallowing a cart and leaving the driver clinging to the lip of the hole. The heroes rush to help the man, who turns out to be a bard. Identifying Leucius as a fellow music-man, the bard attempts to impress all with a very, VERY, rough ballad accounting his meeting of a delegation of dwarves from Mirabar on their way to Summit Hall. Kaylessa overhears and says she heard that the delegation went missing after setting out from the town of Beliard. Valavo then approaches Anton with news that important manuscripts were being carried by the Mirarbar delegates.

The party is about to set out toward Beliard when they come upon a wolf that got into Pell’s family chicken coop. Edric calms the frightened Pell and is able to tame the beast, which he names Shadow. The party then travels for five days along the Larch Path and Stone Trail. On the way, a pack of wolves intercept the heroes but are quelled into obedience by Edric and Shadow. They also cross the Stone Bridge, an epic landmark with deep routes in dwarvish culture.

The party arrives in Beliard. There is regular caravan traffic, an inn, a cattle yard, and townhall. The townsfolk know about the delegates and are visibly nervous about the safety of the roads. The heroes meet Nichol Flurdsen at the inn, who informs them that the delegation was transporting the body of a fallen knight to Summit Hall. A barmaid chimes in that she had seen the delegates in the inn when they passed through, and that a gold-masked person was watching the delegation intently. Nichol suggests they talk to a cattle-driver named Delvin who has been ranting about seeing flying beasts. Delvin explains hat he had passed the delegation on their way to Summit Hall, but that after passing by he saw five armored warriors riding flying creatures south toward the delegates.

Heading south to Summit Hall, the party notices vultures circling just west off the trail. They discover the aftermath of a bloody battle: looted wagons, large craters in the earth, and dead soldiers (some with black surcoats and the image of the red axe of Mirabar). All the carts are empty and there are no signs of the body of the knight or any manuscripts. The party finds evidence on the ground of a band of 30 bugbears and humanoids headed west. They then open a cairn that turned out to be a hastily assembled tomb. The cairn contained dead bugbears wearing armor with the same triangular symbol as seen on the priests in the caves under Red Larch. One other body catches their attention: a female monk, wearing a golden mask in the shape of a gargoyle…

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tomgostanian

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