Monday, August 1, 2050

The Beginning of the End

For more than a hundred years, the demon-infested Worldwound has warred against humanity, its Abyssal armies clashing with crusaders, barbarians, mercenaries, and heroes along the border of lost Sarkoris. But when one of the magical wardstones that helps hedge the demons into their savage realm is sabotaged, the crusader city of Kenabres is attacked and devastated by the demonic hordes. Can a small band of heroes destined for mythic greatness survive long enough to hold back the forces of chaos and evil until help arrives, or will they become the latest in a long line of victims slaughtered by Deskari, the demon lord of the Locust Host?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Session 8

... The black bastard sword immediately caught Black Mage's attention to the exclusion of all else. He slowly approached the weapon, grabbed it by the hilt, and held it outstretched in front of him. Then the strangest thing occurred ....
Black mage seemed to go into some kind of weird trance while staring at the sword, then an astonished look played across his face (if one could actually see any features of his face, then you would see the astonishment). He then said the rest of the party that the sword he was holding was actually speaking to him. After a few comments about hitting his head too hard, the rest of the group pretty much ignored him for the moment and continued divvying up the other weapons and armor. After cleaning the temple and taking the severed limbs out to the body stash out in front of the garrison, they resumed their search of the complex.

The adjacent room to the temple turned out to contain several dretch demons and a single tiefling, most likely an alchemist by trade. But it didn't take long for them to fall to the combined might of our heroes. The room proved to contain some interesting items. A portable alchemy kit was among the fallen alchemist's possessions as well as a longsword identified as a +1 evil outsider bane longsword. With the sword there was a note, that turned out to be quite interesting to Irabeth, once the group made it back to Defender's Heart and showed it to her:

Lord Staunton,
I believe you will find the enclosed weapon to be a singular and famili ar delight, for it once belonged to your old “friend” Irabeth. She sold it to Kandro Nyserian, of all people — I’ve no idea why. Kandro’s been sitting on it for years — still would be, except his home got smashed by an ulkreth. Shame. He managed to save the sword and came here, begging for an escort north to Drezen, doubtless so he could give you the sword and weasel some cash to help him set up a new home. I hope you don’t begrudge a creativity I took — our friend Nyserian serves now as a warm suit for a vermlek as punishment for only revealing the sword now instead of when he first acquired it. I suspect the blade will take to your brother’s touch nicely! your loyal servant,
Next, the heroes tackled the barred door in the large hallway. It took them several tries to break it open but when they did it swung open hard enough to dislodge from its hinges somewhat and they leaned askew against the wall. Inside the found three more dretch demons guarding the stairway up to the second floor. In only a few rounds of combat, our heroes slew the demons and cautiously made their way up to the second floor. Zaigon was the first to breach the stairwell and there he saw six tieflings surrounding the stairs. He rushed into the closest ones with Llyrana, her tiger, and Haligon close behind. rounding out the rush up the stairs was Black Mage and a couple of the mongrelmen rangers.

The battle started out simple enough, but then, unbeknownst to our heroes, four clerics of Deskari were lurking in one of the rooms off of the main upstairs hallway. And they began to channel negative energy. Multiple times. Haligon's positive energy and healing couldn't keep up with the evil clerics' onslaught. And so our heroes began to fall. First, a mongrelman, then another, then Black Mage, and then Llyrana's tiger. Fortunately for the protagonists, Zaigon and Haligon were able to hang on until the last of the evil clerics and tieflings were slain.

Things looked very grim for the party, but some luck did shine on them. In the room where the evil clerics had come from, they had found a veritable treasure trove of documents - current troop movements and plans the demons were enacting. In these papers they also found a scroll of raise dead and restoration spells. Haligon quickly cast both spells upon Black Mage and successfully brought him back from the grave, if a bit worse for wear. Then the group took everything they could carry, including the bodies of their fallen friends and made their way out of the Gray Garrison and over to the body dump. There they picked up the others that deserved proper burials and slowly picked their way through the ruined streets back to Defender's Heart. They were lucky that no other demons crossed their path and made it back without further incidents.

once back, they relayed the entire proceedings, leaving nothing out. Irabeth was saddened by the group's losses and surprised that her old sword was still in the city. She told them to keep it and get some rest while she checked into something for them. A while later she was able to come back with yet another scroll of raise dead and restoration. This allowed Haligon to raise Llyrana's tiger companion from the dead and restore some of his lost vitality. Then the group rested till the following morning when they would, once again, take the fight to the demons in the Gray Garrison...

That's all for this week. Tune in next week to find out what happens.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Session 7

...As a final note She also asks them that as they are going into the Garrison, to please rescue any prisoners, recover any bodies for proper burial, and to undo any blaphemous things the demons have done to the area - afterall, the whole area was devoted to Iomedae, her followers, and those who believe in justice and righteousness. Try to save or restore everything possible from demon corruption ....
Shortly after the meeting our heroes set out for the Gray Garrison, along with four mongrelmen rangers provided by Neathholm. But once they got close to the Garrison, near the many ruptures in the earth that were caused by the first invasion force, they started to feel a rumbling in the ground. It started faintly at first but then once it got to the point that everyone could feel it, the ground underneath and all around them exploded from below throwing everyone for nearly dozens of feet away from the epicenter! Out from the ground came three gargantuan demons, towering some 35 feet tall and each carrying a proportional amount of muscle. They were laughing and completely oblivious to the destruction and carnage around them. This was a fortunte thing for our heroes for if they had been noticed, they wouldn't have even made a sizable appetizer for these three massive, abyssal beings. As it was, the three monstrosities just kept on going, leisurely making their way out of the city while our heroes were knocked unconscious and mostly buried by earth and debris. It took them a good couple hours to find each other, heal their bruises, and continue their trek to the Garrison.
Once they finally arrived, they found that the demons were still mainly preoccupied with the other crusaders diversionary strikes. At the entrance to the Gray Garrison they found only two "guards" admidst the wreckage:

A large stretch of buckled ground and rubble stretches before the Gray Garrison, an aptly named structure that squats across from the open ground that once stood before the Cathedral of Saint Clydwell. That cathedral is no more—nothing remains but a towering mound of rubble and a deep, jagged rift in the ground. Two hideously obese, naked men armed with scythes guard the Gray Garrison’s entrance and just silently watched the heroes until they approached close.
Then one of them asked them if they had come to turn themselves over to Deskari. It was obvious that neither one hoped that their answer would be yes. Upon closer inspection of the two naked and insanely grinning guards, the party recognized them both - one was Lord Hulrun, the leader of Kenabres and the other was Kandro Nyserian. Both were dead and possessed by demons known as vermleks. The heroes answer to the question was to take the fight to the demons and once they had killed them, they stashed the two bodies out of sight so they could recover them later for a proper burial.

Once they opened the building's front door, they were accosted by half a dozen tiefling cultists, one whihc was able to get away and go deeper into the building to warn the other inhabitants. The group made short work of the remaining cultists and quickly ventured further into the building. The entrance foyer and a small shrine near the entrance were quite damaged and had seen better days:

Along the northern wall of this room, a frieze depicts a line of mounted crusaders crashing over a horde of twisted demons. The crusaders’ faces have been obliterated and vile graffiti is carved over the entire scene. Fresh blood stains the floor. Nearby on the front wall a bracket shows where a longsword once hung over a stylized gold sunburst affixed to the south wall. Lines of strange runes are carved into the walls on both sides of the sunburst. Dried blood and excrement have been smeared across the sunburst and a short bench for kneeling that sits on the floor.
After the heroes spent some time cleaning the small shrine, they were able to figure out that the overly complex letters of the prayers engraved on the wall take the shape of a longsword on which is written, all in the Celestial language, “Let us inherit thine arms, Iomedae.”

Moving on, they opened a side door along the way deeper into the Garrison. Here they found a truly disturbing scene:

This room was once some sort of museum, but its contents have been smashed and scattered across the room—even the shelves have been shattered and torn apart in places. The decapitated bodies of two knights, their armor and bodies broken and mangled, lie in the ruins. In the midst of the carnage are a pair of ratlike abrikandilu demons. They are currently enjoying a grisly game of puppetry, using the severed heads of the two dead crusaders to entertain themselves with mock conversations in high-pitched Celestial.
When the heroes entered the room, the demons shrieked in delight and dropped their “puppets” to attack, and fought to the death. With the combined might of the heroes and the four mongrelmen, the demons' deaths don't take long at all to acheive. After the battle, they again take the time to gather all the body parts and whisk them away to the hiding place of the other bodies for a proper burial later.

Next they entered a short corridor that has a door to the east, which turns out to be barred from the other side, and a door to the north. Leaving the barred door alone for the time being, they concentrated on the North door and found some more cultists in the room beyond. The battle lasted for a few rounds, ending in the demise of the cultists. When they got a chance to take a look around the room they found themselves in a severely desecrated temple:

Blood and filth smear floor of this long room. Six white stone statues of famous heroes line the hall — each clawed, blood-stained, partially smashed, or otherwise defaced. At the far end of the hall, a raised dais holds an upturned alabaster altar. Sitting atop the upside-down altar is a hideous mass of severed limbs that have been stitched together into a vile monstrous insectoid shape. Before the dais, seven ratty bedrolls have been laid out on the floor.
They also noticed that near the altar on the southern wall they see the faint, glowing outline of a secret door. Finding the mechanism to open the door was not very difficult for them either and once opened, revealed the following:

This small chamber is free of dust. A holy symbol of Iomedae hangs unmolested on the wall above a weapon rack filled with swords, crossbows, and spears. Three wooden dummies wear pristine suits of armor. A shelf holds several leather quivers, each stamped with a golden sun. Two silver shields hang from pegs on the wall..
Inside they find a vertible treasure trove of weapons and armor in pristine shape that will come in very handy in the fight against the demons. After studying the items for a time they determine they have found the following items:
  • 3 cold iron longswords
  • 2 cold iron shortswords
  • 2 heavy crossbows
  • 1 composite longbow (+2 Str)
  • 1 masterwork cold iron heavy mace
  • 2 cold iron longspears
  • 50 cold iron crossbow bolts
  • 100 cold iron arrows
  • 1 longsword +1
  • 5 holy arrows +1
  • 1 arrow of evil outsider slaying
  • 2 sets of masterwork chainmail
  • 1 breastplate +1 emblazoned with Iomedae’s holy symbol
  • 1 masterwork heavy steel shield marked with the holy symbol of Iomedae
  • 1 blinding heavy steel shield +1 marked with the holy symbol of Iomedae
  • 1 finely crafted bastard sword, dead black in color
The last item, the black bastard sword, immediately catches Black Mage's attention to the exclusion of all else. He slowly approached the weapon, grabbed it by the hilt, and held it outstretched in front of him. Then the strangest thing occurred. Black Mage was......

That's all for this week. Tune in next week to find out what happens.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Session 6

...Our heroes set out in search of the final cult safehouse ....
Now they were on their way to an alchemist's shop called Topaz Solutions, the last of the known Templars of the Ivory Labrynth.

On the way there, they saw another horrifying site:
The rubble has been cleared away from the street here, and they come upon a group of four cultists whom they later identify as part of a cult worshipping Deskari, who have captured two people that they’re preparing to sacrifice in the middle of the street.
Our heroes immediately spring into action and attack the cultists. Three of cultists respond in kind, but the fourth one decides to finish their grizzly task and disembowels their two helpless captives before joining the fight. They turn out to be clerics able to channel their god's defiling energies so Haligon responds in kind numerous times, trying to keep everyone alive long enough to kill the cultists. Soon the four have fallen woth only Lyrana's tiger receiving serious wounds.

After looting the dead cultists and saying a benediction over the murdered commoners, the group then continues on to Topaz Solutions. Once they get there, they see:

A wooden sign above the door bears a carving of a bundle of orange herbs and flowers hovering over a beaker filled with smoking orange liquid. The building’s windows are tightly shuttered, but the front door hangs halfway off its hinges.
Zaigon peers inside and sees that there are a number of ragged looking warriors inside sitting around a small fire and eating. he senses that they are only "mildly evil" so calls out to them and explains what the group is doing there. After several minutes, he convinces the group of mercenaries to allow them in the building to check for cultist activity without resorting to violence. Soon, they find a secret door leading to a damp basement. At this time the mercenaries leave the building, waiting outside to see what happens. Our heroes slowly make their way down the stairs:

The air in this basement is damp and musty-smelling. The walls and floor are packed earth, while dozens of gourds hang from the ceiling beams. A sludge of rotting plant matter covers the floor. Against one wall, a wooden table holds a strange apparatus that looks like a clockwork toy of a snake-bodied, sixarmed woman holding a sword in each hand. A tightly corked bottle, filled with what looks like water, sits before the statue. A wooden chest covered with engraved runes stands under the table, and a sinister image of a star surrounding a goat’s face is painted on the wall above the table.
Sensing magic from the general area of the chest and table, Ziagon slowly walks forward until a loud, booming voice is heard that seems to come from the goat's mouth:

mouth—“Ahh... I hope you are among Iomedae’s slaves... I would hate to think of mere peasants wasting such a personal greeting from Lord Baphomet!”
As soon as the name Baphomet is spoken, the clockwork marilith toy swings down its swords to shatter the bottle causing a magical vapor to rush throughout the room and up the stairs, delivering very caustic fumes to all in the room. Black Mage ran as fast as he could to get out of the building so as not to be overcome by the fumes. At the same time, a rotted, malformed, vegetable creature rises up from the rotten matter and attacks Zaigon. the group only needs a couple of rounds to finish it off for most of them were not seriously affected by the acid vapor trap. And the sight of Black mage running out of the building was enough for the mercenaries to decide it was time to leave this place once and for all - and at a high rate of speed.

Once things settled down, they investigated the chest only to find that it contained 6 silver holy symbols of Iomedae that had been coated in poison and a note taunting the finders, obviously left behind by the cultists as their "parting gift" to the crusaders.

Our heroes then head back and report on their successes to Irabeth. She thanks them and says that an important visitor will be arriving the next day that she wants them to speak with, assuming that the group still wishes to help the beleagured city. When they indicate that they will still help, she tells them to rest for the rest of the day and she will call for them in the morning. After conducting some business buying and selling items and re-equipping they settled in for the night.

In the morning, the heroes were called by Irabeth for their meeting with Quednys Orlun, the founder and head librarian of Blackwing and the last Riftwarden Mage (except for Arashinial) left alive in the broken city. Irabeth begins the meeting with a lengthy synopsis of the situation:

“As horrific as recent events have been, we’ve come to realize that they are, in fact, merely a prelude. The razing of the Kite, the destruction of our wardstone, Terendelev’s murder, and the assault on the city were nothing more than opening gambits. The Worldwound is on the march in a more concentrated assault than we’ve seen since the fall of Drezen. It’s fair to say the Lord of the Locust Host is finally making his move. The end of this hundred-year-war is upon us, and it falls to us to ensure victory.
“While the Templars of the Ivory Labyrinth were scattered, those who serve the Lord of the Locust Host himself remain concentrated in Old Kenabres. What we’ve heard from within the barricade they’ve erected is ominous. The cultists are waiting for something, and based on our own information and what you’ve managed to recover so far, it sounds like the vile witch Areelu Vorlesh will soon be coming to Kenabres. And it appears that we’ve determined what she intends to do.
“When the wardstone was destroyed by the Storm King, it exploded and destroyed the Kite. The network along the border failed, but did not fade completely. I believe this is because a significant portion of our wardstone still exists, and that the cultists have taken it to the old garrison in Old Kenabres. From what we’ve learned, they’re hoping to engineer a way to somehow reverse the field generated by the wardstones—essentially, to use our own greatest defense as a devastating weapon.
“The attack on Kenabres had a predictable result: causing the crusade to gather at the border to defend it. Some wonder why the demons haven’t attacked in stronger numbers. I believe that Areelu was counting on us massing along the border, and that if she can corrupt the wardstone field, she can strike a devastating blow against us all. In effect, we’ve lined up for the slaughter.
“Vorlesh is surely seeking some object of great Abyssal power, likely the Nahyndrian crystal mentioned in the missive you recovered, and with it she intends to turn the source of our hope into an unimaginable nightmare. We cannot hope to evacuate everyone from the border—I doubt they would give up the defensive line even if they knew what the enemy planned. But we can still stop this from happening—we just need to have someone infiltrate the Gray Garrison, locate the wardstone fragment, and destroy it - and this is what we are hoping you will volunteer to help us with.”
At this point Orlon pipes in and produces a thin rod out of his robes and says,"This is a rod of cancellation. When touched on the remaining wardstone fragment, it should drain the remaining power out of the wardstone and render it useless to our enemies. It must be destroyed since it is too weak now to keep the border magically powered. If for some reason the rod does not do what it is supposed to, you should be able to physically destroy the wardstone even though it will still be quite tough to do."

Irabeth then mentions that the rest of the crusaders will stage attacks in various areas to create diversions so the party can slip in easier and take the enemy by surprise. As a final note She also asks them that as they are going into the Garrison, to please rescue any prisoners, recover any bodies for proper burial, and to undo any blaphemous things the demons have done to the area - afterall, the whole area was devoted to Iomedae, her followers, and those who believe in justice and righteousness. Try to save or restore everything possible from demon corruption.

We will find out how our heroes fare in their infiltration of the enemy next time...

Monday, October 24, 2016

Session 5

...After their well deserved rest at Defender's Heart....
Our heroes geared up as much as was possible with their limited funds and even more so limited supplies at Defenders heart. But soon they were now back on the hunt for cultists and made their way to the Tower of Estrod.

On the way there, they saw a truly pathetic site:
The rubble has been cleared away from the street here, and an improvised stage made of several partially destroyed wagons and carts has been erected in the middle of the street. On this stage stand four frightened-looking men and women, each armed with jagged broken weapons and clad in bits and pieces of dented, bloody armor. Two quasits flap about nearby as they work to stage a “play” of sorts comprising battles between their victims. Each of the humans appear to be in very bad shape. Four more dead men and women lie scattered about the cleared area — no dobut other victims of the quasits.

Once the heroes made themselves known - by attacking with arrows and other ranged attacks, the quasits ordered their "actors" to attack the group and proceeded to fly aroound and attack our heroes while using their ability to go invisible.

But the antics of the quasits didn't save their evil hides for long - our heroes were able to kill them, sending them back to the Abyss where they belong without harming the traumatized commomers. They took the extra time to show them the way to the relative safety of Defender's Heart before continuing their search for cultists at the old Tower of Estrod.

Once there, they found that the upper levels of the tower had been destroyed but it seemed that at least the ground floor had survived the destruction. The door was locked shut so the group decided to know and try the password they found in the letter that Hosilla had - and it worked! They were let in without question and treated like fellow cultists until our heroes attacked and proceeded to wipe out the evilness that was residing here. The battle included a couple of cultitst on the ground level and after they were dispatched, the local leader was in the basement. He put up a better fight, but not enough to save his own skin from death. Among the possessions of the cultists they found more notes and files that would prove very useful to the crusaders' efforts to beat back the Worldwound.

Our heroes decided to head back to Defenders heart and report on their progress and take a short rest before going after the third and hopefully last of the cultists' safehouses...

Session 4

...What the heroes saw when they first breached the underground into the 'light of day' was truly horrific....

The tremors and demonic attacks have devastated the city, leaving it a smoking, apocalyptic ruin. Deep chasms riddle the city, while the paths of enormous demons have left ruinous trails of rubble extending out from the city’s heart. Above, the once-familiar skyline of Kenabres and forever changed — the tower of the Kite and the Cathedral of St. Clydwell having been completely destroyed, while elsewhere plumes of dark smoke still rise from the smoldering remains of burned-down buildings. Fat buzzards wheel above in skies scarred by red smoke and black clouds.

The Worldwound has expanded its borders, and now the city of Kenabres is enveloped in it

Everyone was stunned to see the amount of devastation, with Anevia near to a full breakdown, fearing the worst for Irabeth. They quickly made a plan to carefully explore the city using the most straight-forward paths to the locations that meant the most to the three city citizens: Arashvaniel wanted to head to the Blackwing Library since, he revealved, that he was a Riftwarden Mage and the library was their secret base of operations. Next would be Horgus Gwerm's estate, and thirdly on to Anevia's home.

When they arrived at the Blackwing, they noticed that most of the out-buildings of the structure were decimated but that the main hall had survived. They could also hear a man shouting something about stacking the books higher and neater. So they snuck up to the broken doors and looked inside. There they saw a man and two tieflings (one with a lit torch) making a librarian build a circle of books around four others that were bound in the middle.

Haligon was unsure about the intentions of the man and tieflings and wanted to speak with them before doing anything else and made his prescense known. But there was no diplomacizing with the group - they were clearly intent on burning their victims alive. The party was able to quickly dispatch the assailants and prevent anyone from getting burned. Arashvaniel knew the librarians and spoke with them for a few minutes. He came back and told the group that the rest of the Riftwarden Mages either fled the city or were killed in the ensuing chaos of the demon attack. It wa decided that the librarians were to follow them to Horgus's house for a better place of safety.

On their way to Horgus' place, they came across a partially destroyed clothing shop called Finer Things and heard people screaming along with smashing and crashing noises. The party quickly investigated and found that a rat-like demon was terrorizing two people while attmepting to completely destroy the shop. Fortunately, it was only a single demon that wasn't very powerful so they were able to quickly dispatch it. The shop owners, Loumis, were very grateful and for a rewward they offered each of the heroes a fine set of clothing from the ones they still had that were not destroyed by the demon.

The Gwerm estate proves to be completely intact since it appears that all of Horgus's help had ran away shortly after the demon attacks had started. With no people to torment and kill, the demons left his house alone. After muttering about how bad the help was these days and the fact that they stole items from him as they fled, Horgus offered his house to everyone in tow - the librarians, and other civilians, and the heroes. He opened his larder and kitchen to feed everyone and give everyone a place to sleep in relative safety. In the morning, it was decided that the most of the group would stay here until the heroes found a safe place in the city. Before the party leaves, Horgus walks over, holds out a small leather bag to you and says, "I'm not very good at... at expressing my thanks, for, well, anything. But considering all that has happened... I thank you for saving my life and bringing me back to my estate. I know there really isn't anything that I can give you to repay you - but, take this. And if by some miracle you save this ruined city, I will help the crusade." Looking in the bag, our heroes find 1,000 gold pieces! Quite generous considering the normal attitude of Horgus.

The next stop in their exploration of the city lead them to the Nsyeian Manor - one of the safer houses for the cult of Baphomet. But this place turns out to be completed decimated - nothing more than half a meter tall was left standing, and some places were still smoldering from the fires that had occurred as well. Making their way to Anevia's house they come across a confusing scene. In front of a ruined shrine to Sarenrae kneels a weeping woman. Surrounding the woman are six human knights in battered armor. Their faces are sooty and grim and their eyes burn with feverish light. One of the knights, a human woman with fresh scars on her face, says to the kneeling woman, “Your sacrifice aids the cause of good.” She has her longsword poised to run through the kneeling woman.

Haligon attemtps to speak to the crusaders but only finds out that they have been driven mad by the influences of the Abyss and the Worldwound and now believe that an old false folktale about bathing blades in the blood of virgins gives the blades demon slaying abilities. Unfortunately the only way to save the woman was to kill the insane crusaders. The woman, however, is so very grateful for being saved and joins them on their journey to safer places.

Our party finally makes it to Anevia and Irabeth's house. She runs/hobbles as quickly as she can while calling out for Irabeth. Finding the door locked, she pulls out her key, opens the door and quickly goes inside. the party hears her call out for Irabeth and then a short scream then the sound of crashing furniture and someone falling. They rush inside to see what happened and see Anevia on the ground, tangled up in her knocked over table and chairs and being attacked by several fire beetles. A round or two later, as the group finishes off the beetles, the door to the bedroom swings open to reveal a large, ugly male half-orc weilding a ransuer and casting spells at them. A fireball goes off almost dead center on Anevia and starts her and the house on fire. After a few rounds of 'heated' battle including channeled healing, more damaging spells being thrown, and deadly melee attacks, the half-orc falls dead.

Anevia frantically searches the small house for signs of her wife, Irabeth, but only comes up with a note and a small stash of magic items. She gives the potions to the heroes as thanks for saving her from one of Irabeth's old enemies and tells them that Irabeth has instructed her to go to Defender's heart - a sturdy taven and inn that the remaing city defenders have holed up in. So while they continue their journey up to Defender's Heart, Anevia tells them the story of Irabeth and Vagorg, her enemy they killed.

in the River Kingdoms was a half-orc cultist of Xoveron named Vagorg, a man whose grandiose plans to burn down an entire neighborhood in Tymon were cut short when he was captured by a fellow half-orc. Vagorg tried to use his shared race to convince the paladin to let him go, but this only furthered her resolve—she delivered him to the authorities and forgot about him. But apparently he did not forget about her. It's been nearly a year and a half since the two encountered each other - a long time to hold a grudge and plan revenge.

Once they arrive at defender's Heart, the guards recognize Anevia as their commander’s wife and automatically grant the party entrance. Anevia lets out a joyful cry as Irabeth appears, quickly coming to greet her once word of her return spreads. The women embrace tenderly before Anevia introduces her wife, Irabeth, to the PCs. Irabeth thanks the party for keeping Anevia safe and swears to assist them in whatever way she can. Irabeth tells them that she is now in charge of the Eagle's Watch, the group of crusaders that are charged with holding the city and that, while the Mendevian army is on its way, it will be some time before they arrive to help reinforce the city.

She listens intently as the heroes recount everything that they have seen and experienced since the attack on Kenabres started. She is delighted to hear that the first descendants want to help battle the demons and sends a party of knights as envoys to them right away. She also dispatches another group to horgus Gwerm's estate to bring those survivors back to the Heart, as it is now being called. She turns very serious when hearing about the Templars of the Ivory Labyrinth. “They have spies everywhere,” she says, “and have apparently been among us for decades. Only recently has proof of their presence been manifesting. I personally managed to root out one of their more powerful members — the leader of a group called the Hammers of Heaven. We all thought of Staunton Vhane as a model crusader, but as far as I was able to discern, he’s been working for the demons for decades. There’s even evidence he may have been the one to betray Drezen 75 years ago. They knighted me for that discovery, but I’m still not sure why, since he slipped through my fingers and is out there still, causing who knows how much more damage...” Irabeth trails off here for a moment before she shakes her head to clear her thoughts, then informs the PCs that she can reward them for their efforts against the Templars of the Ivory Labyrinth, indicating that their help in clearing out the remaining two safe houses will go a long way in improving morale among the troops.

But for now, our heroes need a rest in a safe place before venturing back out into the expanding Worldwound that was once Kenabres. During the next session the heroes root out the remaining Baphomet safe houses and try to help regain control of the city and (what's left of) the wardstone...

Session 3

...Llyrana's tiger comes down and lands squarely on top of Black Mage...

The battle rages on as the group attempts to take out the three defenders. Once there is only one left, that one opens the door behind him and retreats into the next room, getting out of sight. This leaves the party a brief moment or two to get some much needed healing done and regrouping to press on into the unknown. Llyrana leads the advancement into the next room followed by Zaigon and Black Mage. Haligon hangs back in order to lend healing support when needed. But just as the group finds some new enemies in the room they just entered, a couple more come down the rope ladder and attack them from the rear.

While this development causes them some consternation at first, Haligon with the help of Black Mage and Llyrana's excellent bowshots, neutralize the rear attack quickly and then concentrate on the frontal assault. There they not only are engaged with an excellent bowman, but a cleric and several other mongrelment and a tiefling join the fray. Channeled energy rockets back and forth between the groups as well as other spells flying away. In the end the heroes are able to crush their enemies. They then take the time to explore this area as well as rest before continuing on. They find some valuable items and some documents that the enemy cleric, named Hosilla - yep you read that right: Hosilla, had in her possession. It read:

You will remain, for the time being, in Kenabres, but know this: the city’s days are numbered. Seek a place of safety — the underground den of your mongrel lackeys should suffice to keep you safe from the devastation to come.
I shall assume command of Drezen shortly, and once Vorlesh has finished with the wardstone and Kenabres is no longer of interest to us, you are to return to my side.
Excellent news regarding the salvage of Yaniel’s sword from the museum as well — bring it with you, for I believe this weapon could be quite useful once we corrupt it. Before you leave for Drezen, stop by the three safe houses (Nyserian Manor, Topaz Solutions, and the Tower of Estrod — the passphrase remains “I’ve new material for the archives,” for now) to ensure no evidence remains behind.

May Lord Deskari and Lord Baphomet watch over you!

S. V.

In addition to the note that gives them clues to searching out remaining Baphomet cultists in Kenabres (the safe houses) and the other monetary and equipment treasures left behind from the recently deceased, the heroes also find a long darkwood case with a breathtaking longsword inside - a weapon of obviously superior craftsmanship with a razor-sharp blade that appears to be made of shining gold. While the group is able to ascertain that it is indeed a magical longsword, they are unable to figure out what it really can do.

The rest of the exploration of the evil mongrelmen's abode goes rather simply, with just a couple more battles - one with two Baphomet cultist priests, some dire rats, and a couple more mongrelmen. This battle ends up with the priests contained in a pile of their own limbs after Black mage successfully knocked them over and slid them across the ground using his hydraulic push spell. And the second battle occured shortly after with three demons - the lowly but still quite dangerous dretch. Llyrana's tiger was beaten into unconsciousness and it took the heroes quite a bit to bring these abominations out of existance. In the end they were successful without any losses and also found the way out to the currently used Kenabres sewer system. This is when our heroes then returned triumphant back to Neathholm for rest, resupply, and to gather their friends they left waiting for them to clear the way.

During the next session the heroes see what has become of Kenabres