Monday, October 24, 2016

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...

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