2/14/11: We finally started this adventure which I've been waiting so long to run. Everyone is still getting used to the longer sessions...
Hirbe - Eladrin Mage
Merric - Halfling Thief
Ozzirth - Human Sorcerer
Tornam - Dwarf Cleric
After defeating Benwick and his evil army, the people of the keep celebrated for a few days. Lord Drysdale survived, but it took months for the poison to leave his system.
The heroes helped the people rebuild the damaged sections of the keep. They did what they could with the massive gate doors that the behemoth had shattered. The doors still had some holes when all repairs were done. Merric helped the church of Zev remove the catapult boulders that Dorn and his daggers had fired into the keep. He stole a catapult for the church, too.
A little pagoda building was built for the tiny samurai clan. And Tornam went in search of herbs.
Three months passed peacefully. Tornam got really fat. Merric was declared a champion of Zev, and was ranked second in the local church under head priestess Chendera herself. His job was to handle any special circumstances that should arise. Hirbe was invited into the Mages of Saruun. He decided to think about it. He was interested with an affiliation with them - after all, the heroes had called Zev himself down on them! And thus, the heroes could buy potions extra cheap (15 gold!).
Lord Drysdale invited the heroes to stay in the actual keep itself. The heroes had become individuals of great significance, and the people of Restwell Keep adored them.
Then, one day, a warrior rode toward the keep on a black horse. He had a horde of goblins riding wolves alongside him. Fallek, manning the gate, called for the heroes. Hirbe stepped out onto the path, his allies in tow. He folded his arms and glared as the warrior approached.
This was Warduke. He told Hirbe that he was an old friend of Lord Drysdale's. He said "tell Drysdale I'll be searching for the secret of the Chaos Scar - and to stay out of my way!"
A goblin cackled gleefully, and suggested Warduke make quick work of the heroes. Hirbe shot the goblin with a magic missile, knocking him off his mount. Warduke and the goblins turned to leave. Warduke said over his shoulder "You'll pay for that".
As Warduke rode off, Fallek breathed a sigh of relief.
The heroes visited with Drysdale, who was horrified that Warduke was in the Chaos Scar. He explained that he and Warduke were once friends, but that Warduke had become an evil mercenary. In all likelihood, Warduke was working for an evil sorceror. Drysdale told the heroes Warduke was too powerful to fight - he asked them to try to find out the secrets of the Chaos Scar and the meteor before Warduke could.
Drysdale also told them Doran's Daggers had gone missing. the heroes headed to The Stumbling Giant, where there was a mercenary who knew where they'd gone. Merric sidled up to the mercenary and bought him a drink.
The mercenary's name was Farian Blackhand, and he said Doran owed him 100 gold. He told the heroes Doran had gone with his daggers to check out a ruined temple. He gave the heroes directions, under the condition they got him his hundred gold back.
The adventurers headed out into the Chaos Scar, and it was near nightfall when they arrived at the temple (here comes the flavor text)...
"The trees of the forest suddenly give way to a large, bare clearing dominated by a weed-choked temple. Its peaked roof, festooned with demonic gargoyles, is largely intact, although its windowless walls are cracked and crumbling. The main entrance to the temple, two mammoth, ironbound doors, yawn open, exposing nothing but darkness beyond. Although obviously abandoned and in disrepair, the structure exudes a quiet malevolence made all the more haunting by the waning light of the setting sun. "
Tornam decided to creep up to the partially open doors. The portly fellow had a hard time squeezing in. But he got in, and saw more flavor text...
"You step from the fading sunshine into the surprisingly cold darkness of the temple interior, gloomy and shrouded in shadow. The temple’s floor is smooth, polished stone. The ceiling has collapsed in some areas and littered the ground with fallen debris, and in one section, the floor has collapsed, leaving an open pit. The interior walls feature fading murals depicting scenes of butchery, cannibalism, and other profane acts. The temple is divided into two sections by a row of tall, ornate bookshelves filled with crumbling scrolls and tomes."
Someone nervously pointed to a statue and said "It's the devil's boner."
Tornam said "I think it just moved."
A bit of cautious investigating revealed piles of debris, racks of books on demonology and undeath, and murals devoted to demons. The murals were painted atop older, more pleasant murals devoted to Clarissa. This church apparently had once belonged to followers of Clarissa, but had been over-run by demon worshipers.
They looked at a statue on the far side of the room. Hirbe knew it was of a demon lord called Obox-Ob. The huge demon's body was an insane thicket of spider limbs, scrabbling for purchase with razor-sharp talons arrayed around a scorpion-shaped body. Where a face should be writhed three immense tails, each tipped with a jagged stinger that seeped black venom. Where a tail should have been was a thick neck surmounted by horrific skull faces, complete with a vertically aligned mouth and three pairs of leering red eyes that seemed horrifically human in shape. From its murderous maw extended a glistening red tongue, itself tipped with a hollow spike shaped like a corkscrew.
Tornam spotted a cache behind the statue. In it were vestments of Clarissa, four vials of holy water, and two potions of healing.
There was a hatch that lead to a basement. Down there were beds, an altar, and corpses. Doran and his cousins were dead and partially-eaten. A mummified cleric was before the altar. They suddenly came to life and attacked!
The cleric had a purple gem of great power on a necklace. Hirbe shattered one of the dagger zombies with beguiling strands as Merric and Tornam tore into zombie Doran.
The zombies hit Hirbe and Tornam with crushing blows. Merric stabbed the cleric as it fired off weird spells. Hirbe set two on fire with a spell. Tornam destroyed one zombie while Hirbe dropped Doran. Together they finished off the cleric.
Hirbe fancied the daggers and was sad to see them dead. The heroes discussed possibly getting them raised.
Ozzirth and Hirbe studied the gem - a necro shard. They learned quite a bit about it:
The shard radiated staggering amounts of necrotic energy, easily enough to animate the dead.
The shard's power was likely strengthened inside the temple of Obox-Ob.
The shard's power was stronger at night.
Undead may be drawn to the energy produced by the shard.
Then... noise came from above. The heroes headed upstairs, and saw through the wall cracks... night had fallen, and hundreds, maybe thousands of zombies were closing in on the temple from all sides! The heroes quickly got a blanket and threw it over the pit in the middle of the temple. They set up between the scroll racks, preparing for a fight. The heroes debated on whether they should hole up in the basement, make a run for it, or make a stand....
Duskeater flew to the door to see if she could see an escape route:
"You look out upon a nightmarish scene. Hundreds of animated corpses crowd around the temple, three and four rows deep. Humans, dwarves, elves, and every conceivable race, both civilized and savage, are represented among the shambling horde. Worse yet, the corpses of dinosaurs, dire animals, and even more fantastic beasts add their mass and strength to the zombie assault. Despite the zombies’ numbers, there are still gaps in their ranks; gaps the fleet and nimble among you might use to escape the multitudes of undead.
However, as if the gods were reading your thoughts, a stag suddenly bursts from cover and runs a bounding course through the advancing zombies. Hope soars within you as the stag easily dodges the clumsy blows of the first few undead it encounters … before the great, animated corpse of a tyrannosaurus rex surges from the mass of undead bodies surrounding the temple and snaps the stag up in its colossal jaws. The stag utters a single bleat of pain and surprise before the zombie T-rex’s jaws slam down, stifling the stag’s cries in a gout of blood. A wriggling pile of smaller zombies quickly forms around the undead dinosaur, eager for the gobbets of flesh falling from its mouth.
The stag provides only a momentary distraction for the zombie horde. In seconds, there is little left of the poor beast beyond a crimson smear on the ground. But there is fresher fare still to be had, and the masses of undead press in, clawing at your hastily erected defenses and creating an impassable wall of rotting flesh."
Duskeater told them what she saw. The heroes argued even as zombies squeezed through wall cracks. A gravehound raced toward them, but fell into the blanket-covered pit. It was unable to get out. Another gravehound, two zombie soldiers, and four zombie rotters closed in...
Ozziroh cast blazing starfall, destroying two rotters. More zombies were about to break through the opposite wall. Merric raced over and shored it up.
Hirbe had the necroshard, and the zombies were after it. Tornam valiantly fought many of the zombies off as Hirbe raced to the statue. He dumped the gem in the cache. The zombies lumbered toward it. Merric cut down a zombie soldier as it lurched toward the statue.
Hirbe was bloodied and drank a potion. He watched as a zombie found the shard, grabbed it... and transformed into a shard zombie! The other zombies were no longer attracted to the shard - they merely wanted brains.
Zombies were trying to get in through another wall crack. Hirbe ran over, looked at them, and shook his head. The zombies shrugged in disappointment and lumbered away.
Ozzirth ducked a bunch of zombie hands and pummeled the shard zombie with a spell. Zombies tried to enter the church through the open doors in front. Tornam pushed them shut. Then he turned and charged the shard zombie, hitting it with his lightning-charged hammer. Then he swung again, shattering it with a powerful rebuke (action point - critical).
The heroes destroyed the zombies that had gotten inside. But outside, they were massing, and moaning. They weren't trying to get in, but at any moment, the siege could resume...