Desmarinn

A funny thing happened on the way up the stairs

Was it just a dream? No, it was real enough. The guardian was real, as was his warning to the party. But for now, they need to deal with the immediate future; whatever lay down the next hallway and past the bend. The group rounds the corner, and sees a door with worn glyphs. With much magic they are able to repair each glyph and learn of the Five Terrors the Guardian of Hope warned them about. The first is Vervinhive, the Terror of the Mind. He earned his name by conquering territories through subterfuge. He would sow seeds of discord, suspicion and hate, then take the kingdom over with minimal combat. The second is Taxmille, the Terror of Seduction. She would use courtesans to siphon kings of their power and wealth. The third is Zlenesta, the Terror of Decay. She would spread disease and wipe out entire cities, then move in and take over. The fourth is Buhalix, the Terror of Famine. He would send vermin into the cities to devour the grainaries. The fifth and final terror is Nystos, the Terror of the Void. He would set up powerful illusions near kingdoms, exploiting their fear of the unknown. Once in place, he would enter the kingdom and masquerade as a saviour. Then he would conquer the kingdom by winning the favor of the people. Each Terror was slain by Fardal, but was reanimated as a lich by a cult that had begun following them. Each cult was killed by their patron Terror, however, as each Terror had believed they would ascend to godhood. Now reanimated, those goals were forever out of reach. Once they have finished reading,a hidden glyph appears. This glyph tells of Malithias, the Great Betrayer. He was the man who convinced the cults to bring the Terrors back as undead, thereby cheating them of the ascension promised them. Armed with a better understanding of their newfound enemies, the party enters the room beyond the door to find eight silvered globes suspended from the ceiling by mithril cords. The door slams shut behind them, and it appears the party is trapped in the room. A quick search reveals a secret door, but it bears an unpickable lock. A voice fills the room, saying that a key must be found. Seeing no other options, they begin to crack open the globes. The first contains coins and a heavy key. However, both coins and key are lead. The next globe contains a dangerous grey ooze, which Adriane is best suited to defeat. The next holds two shadows and another fake key. The shadows are quickly dispatched by Yndara Xaphan with a turning of the undead. The next globe, thankfully, contains the proper key and what appears to be a potent magic ring. A Magic Mouth appears and states that the ring can turn the wearer invisible, and will grant one wish per year. With little question, the party turns the ring over to Kethaveltril Aleanlylth, recognizing that invisibility would benefit the rogue the most. Testing its power, Keth activates the invisibility. At the very least, that portion of the ring’s power is no lie. With exiting the room no longer a problem, the party heads into the next hallway. However, the moment Keth leaves, his invisibility is revoked and the voice in the room remarks that it is interesting that no one turned upon each other to possess its power. Keth holds a long discussion with the voice. As it turns out, the ring was merely a loyalty test set up by Malithias, and he is displeased that no one tried anything underhanded to become the bearer of the ring. He was sure that one of their number would lust for its power, but it did not happen the way he so desired. No longer wishing to be in the room, the party wanders down the long hallway to the next door. As it opens, the group discovers the largest chamber yet; a massive, poorly lit room measuring 28,000 square feet. In the far corner they see 4 figures enrobed in the shadows. As the party walks towards the strange figures, three of the figures loose a volley of arrows at them but miss badly. It is almost as though they aren’t trying to hit them.Thalon (Rah) Baeqlylth approaches them while Keth slips into the dark to flank them. Grimr moves along the other wall, Naelurec, Adriane and Yndara move to within casting range and await the worst. It is not to come. Thalon keeps a level head and refuses to make any aggressive action. Even as one of the figures approaches, Thalon does not do more than walk ever closer. Even as the figure brandishes a dire flail and moves to strike a fatal blow, Thalon does not touch his weapon. Upon connecting with the attack, the figure crumbles to dust, the last look upon his face being one of relief. His centuries of torment and killing hapless adventurers, guilty only of self-defense against a percieved threat, has come to an end. The other 2 figures are released the same way leaving only the Mistress of Pain. In a display of compassion, Thalon embraces her and speaks of the love Fardal felt for her. He tells her that Fardal did not forget about her, and that he not only died trying to save her, but that his last thoughts were of her and the child they would both leave behind. She looks at Thalon with tears in her eyes, then falls dead in his arms. Behind her, there are levers and gears that lock down the entire dungeon complex that was added onto the mines. The quest to clear the mines appearing to be over, the party allows themselves a moment of victory. They spend the next few hours resting and locating the hidden riches in the room. Perhaps if they knew what was to come, they would approach the room differently. Perhaps if they knew just how close death was for one of them… but no one ever knows when the wheel of fate will hit their number, do they? A pity. As the party exits the dungeon, everyone is outside but Keth and Grimr. Moments pass, and only Keth emerges. He is covered in gore and informs the others that Grimr must have triggered an unseen trap. With his body out of range of the amulet, his death couldn’t be prevented. What’s more, with his soul promised to Yndara’s demonic grandfather, Grimr can never be resurrected. Following Keth’s… suspicious exit, there appears to be another figure following the party. Instantly, they recognize it as Grimr’s body, but it is twisted and his head is no longer seated upon his neck. It has been replaced by a skeletal abberation with sunken red eyes. The party bids a hasty retreat, unwilling to kill the creature that has taken over Grimr’s decaying flesh. They deduce that this must be the parasite the Guardian tried so desperately to remove. Retreating to the town in which they made the agreement to clear out the mines, they find that there is quite a commotion within the city walls. There is rumor of a strange creature that will not leave. While perusing the shops, the party sees the creature in the general store. It is a Warforged, and it is attempting to buy adventuring materials. The town is unhappy with its presence, and all shopkeeps refuse to do business with it. The party resigns to interact with the Warforged only after they have recieved payment for their work. On meeting with the council, they discover the town is unwilling to pay the agreed amount, claiming that Grimr had made a deal to donate half the money to an orphans fund. The party realizes it is a trick, mainly due to the fact that Grimr held a deep hatred of orphans ever since an encounter with one left him with only half his gold. Nevertheless, the council still tries to give less than the contracted amount. Thinking quickly, Yndara makes what appears to be a shrewd deal; if the council will give the party the full 2000 gold each, the party will ensure the Warforged not only vacates the town, but also never sets foot in it again. The council finds the deal agreeable, if only to rid themselves of an unwanted “abomination”. Once they exit the council, the party goes back to the general store. The shopkeep ignores the Warforged and offers his business to Keth while Yndara speaks with the Warforged to get a list of items he needs. The party intends to make the purchases on its behalf. The Warforged is about as grateful as a newly-sentient construct can be, and sends Yndara to the armorsmith to purchase a buckler. Once all preparations are made, the party escorts the Warforged out of the town and explains the deal they made with the council. They then extend an offer to join the group, as they are decidedly more tolerant of his presence. He accepts, and they head off towards the wizard’s tower. On the road, they wonder if the time the two months they spent clearing the mines has impacted their main quest to the Well of Frozen Souls. However, something feels strange. When the party makes camp, they realize that the town they had just left is covered in black smoke. Soon, a pair of Goristros appears in the smoke. Then an entire horde comes into view. Yndara recognizes it as the 43rd Legion of the Abyss, a powerful army that has remained dormant in wait of the resurrection of their commander. The party soon sees a figure flying overhead. It is the creature that took over Grimr’s body. They realize that the creature is the reincarnated commander. Yndara wracks her brain for the tales of the Abyss that her father would tell her as a child, and she suddenly remembers that the entire legion, commander and all, are in the service of Baphomet, the Abyssal Prince of Beasts. The commander is heading to the very tower toward which the party is travelling. Realizing their failure in not allowing the Guardian to remove the parasite, they can do naught but continue on their path and hope that they will be able to defeat whatever is waiting for them.

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Xaphan

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