Westlaws 2.0 - The Devouring

Westlaws Update - 2.5
"I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."
Westlaws Update - 2.4
"Change, like sunshine, can be a friend or a foe, a blessing or a curse, a dawn or a dusk..."

The next morning, the group began the journey back up the trade river of the Vistula; a crowded and filthy trip of three days that went without any notable events. Reaching their home in Slaveport, the Outsiders escorted their “slaves” to Serpent Hold, and took a couple days rest to help heal and feed the crowd of former slaves. Discussions revolved around eventually bringing these people back to the surface, find them a home in Serpent Hold and allow others to leave with a handful of coins and some days food to get them where they wanted. In the meantime, they would be cared for and hopefully recover some strength. Among the loot from Explicitica’s lair, they uncovered one item of notice; Passara Elventree’s Brooch. Goblins were hired to clean the boat, and Brommik (in his trip to the local market) hired a local artist near Kuto’s Pool to paint “Wanted” posters of Passara, offering 1000gp (10pp) for her return (ALIVE!).

Vani gave Maple a large collection of gold (4000gp : 80lbs of pure gold!) and got her to head up to Sentinel and see about hiring some “muscle” and make contact with a surface merchant to begin moving the products he and House Outsider might acquire for trade. She was to scent-out rare goods from above (including wine from Berryshore), and see about bringing cloth and Gooberry Wine to the surface. Vani also sent her with another 2000gp (20lbs more) to give to his uncle in Broadwell for their little inn project. He and Illuria discussed various projects and plans for creating their trade coster. They discover that there are a huge number of goblins lurking on the edges of town, and hire the local Clothier to make “badges” for the * House Outsider. Seeking repairs to the “GlimmerPort” was agreed upon, and 20pp left to hire any members of the dwarven Stonebreaker clan that lived somewhere nearby, but came to town to trade on occasion.

Taking their leave, the Outsiders left Maple to make her way to the surface through the “safe” route, and they took the Necreme back to the Hole, on a three-day journey. The group placed Explicitica’s head on the prow of the ship, and turned it into a gruesome trophy. Slitehrtooth spent the journey licking it to the bone. Reaching The Hole without event, the group made their careful way back along the shadow beacons (using the last of their shadow oil to refill them), past the sleeping guardian to the precipice and its dock.

Making their careful way across to the only surviving tower, they explored the island down below along the water’s edge, covered in thousands of bones and skulls. The thunderous crash of water from the Darkmire above made conversation difficult, but hid loud noises easily. Finding little of note, they took stock of the vast bulk of the lake that lied below the mists and the Darkmire, stretching away south with numerous narrow clefts running away into the darkness. The water moved and seemed thick with oil and shadow, along with the ripples from the waterfall to the east and… something else… Brommik was able to see across the water to a cave level with the water’s edges, and the group decided to head towards it, using magicks to avoid touching the water.

Vani, using his magic boots headed across first, and carefully remaining stealthy, was able to explore the pebbly beach opposite. When all seemed clear, the group, crowded aboard Slithertooth, used Grignak’s “Floating Looter” to slip across to the beach. Following the rough beach south, they came upon a dark cave in the west cliff wall, and a silently floating wicker cage with iron rails. Two sets of raw stone stairs led up to the north and south away from the beach. Carefully entering the cave, they found it full of stalactites and stalagmites, and a massive brazen bull (Gorgon) that attacked! Snorting smoke and steam, it tried to gore and turn the Outsiders to stone, but fell quickly to their combined attacks. On one wall they found a pair of strange “exotic” saddles; one a war-saddle (that Brommik promptly took and placed on Slithertooth), and another riding-saddle, as well as a hyper-accurate stone statue of one of the local priests. Taking the elevator up, they found a broken bridge leading nowhere, and decided to take the southern passage, that leads up to the “Tapestry Platform”. All its bridges had collapsed, and the tunnel was crumbling and unstable.

Returning back to the beach, the group returned back north along the beach, following its rough passage around to the north below the cliffs, eventually passing beneath the very waterfalls themselves. Though slippery, they passed along the cliff beaches for some distance, winding along the edge of the oily lake, and eventually came upon another cave, this time in the east cliff wall. Stairs were roughly carved heading up along the cliff, both north and south. The beach here had patches of black sand, and from wihtin the cave could be heard the quiet whispers of a pair of guards. The typical-looking priests met earlier, they seemed ragged and worn, their gray skin showing them to be human in origins, though likely not having seen sunlight for awhile (if ever). Suspicious, Brommik rode up and spoke at length with them about the area, though they remained evasive. Eventually, they suggested the Outsiders move on towards “Shaalabhak’s Lair”, further south. When asked if he kept any prisoners (thinking that there might still be a Passara hidden somewhere), they replied “Yes, he keeps them all to himself… the greedy bastard…”. The Outsiders moved off south.

Continuing along the beach, they eventually spot what they suspect was “Shaalabak’s Lair”, a cave high up in the eastern cliff, roughly level with where the obsidian earth mote once floated, and the ruins of a pair of bridges jutting out from its edge. Again, riding Slithertooth, and using its superior climbing ability, Brommik took the lead, with Vani leading a rope up for others to follow. The group carefully gathered on a narrow ledge and looked down into a square pit of solid carved stone. Peering over the edge, they saw a horrid creature with tentacles surrounding its foul mouth rising from the center of the room. Dressed in tattered black robes, its entire appearance was just… wrong… Beneath the creatures were six iron cages, some of which contained prisoners that began yelling “Help us! Save us!”. Three iron-bound chests lay at the back of the chamber, glowing with arcane sigils.

As combat ensued, the group was forced to use limited ranged attacks and spent their time trying to force Shaalabhak into melee range. Eventually, they were able to do enough damage to the creature, despite its efforts to eat several members of the group, into retreat, whereupon it fly up to the cave entrance and drifted away into the gloom. The prisoners were revealed to be Durgen Glintstone, a minor dwarven priest of Moradin; Forgia Chase, the missing black market contact from Citadel; Sir Kareem Hastith, a minor Paladin of Larani; and Smote, a halfling rogue whom hte others seemed to have great respect for. Forgia greeted Grignak with a hearty “It’s about time!”. They were quickly freed and Forgia revealed that Passy had been present some time ago, but that she was singled-out by the “Viper’s Crown” ogres, who took her away because she seemed *"…extra special for their masters…". Brommik pouted for a while. Looting the chests proved difficult, as each was trapped with arcane magicks of different types, but eventually they were opened to reveal; bloody rags and clothing of past victims along with a handful of coins and personal effects; numerous glass jars filled with pickled humanoid brains; empty. Feeding and resting the group of former prisoners, they chose to take an extended rest, keeping careful watch for returning Illithids.

On the morrow, the group asked for arms and armor, promising they would leave this dismal tomb with or without the Outsider’s help. Brommik regaled them all with tales of his order “The Sword of Avarkiel”, and they agreed to return with him to Cragrapid Keep. They carefully made their way down the cliff face, and then began travelling back along the beach to the north, eventually nearing the cave entrance where the cultist survivors were laired. They had they former prisoners wait behind in teh shadows, while they went to “negotiate” with the cultists. Confronting the guardians, Brommik hinted that the cultists should allow them all within, to ensure no prisoners were under their control, and when they refused, he began intimidating them and initiated combat with the immortal words, “Convert NOW, or fall FOREVER!”.

Shadowy hounds leaped from the darkness and a horde of serpent priests followed along after them
attacking the group, along with a powerful shadow priestess. Using his impressive skills and strength to his advantage, Brommik managed to subdue almost all of them, including the priestess, and gained their surrenders (one met a tragic Maple-induced stabby death), though the hounds all died. Domingo stood out in a flying leap that took down the priestess in a single blow. When the battle was clearly completed, the cultists were disramed, though they were able to retain their “serpentine” armor, and one bore all their wavy swords and other weapons. Grignak took the priestess’ own “Staff of the Shadow War” for himself, and the former prisoners were loaded down with armor, weapons and other goods taken from the small barracks cave in the cliff. The former cultists chose to follow every command of Brommik with “Yes Ducklord, Master of Shadow, watch over us…” Domingo Colo was a little nervous.

The next few days were a long affair of shuttling the prisoners and former slaves along the stony beach, across the water and up the tower into the docks, and thence through the Darkmire (for the last time?), to camp at the ruined castle near the entrance. Then down the long trade river to Slaveport, the group managed to survive the journey with practically no encounters. In Slaveport, the group broke-up somewhat. Smote chose to leave the group when they reach Sentinel, seeking to explore the area. The latter prisoners were given 50gp and whatever arms and armor they chose from the armories of the Outsiders. The “common” people rescued from the cages in the obsidian earth mote were given 10gp each, a sack of food and a wineskin of watered ale. Anyone seeking passage to teh surface was promised an escort on the morrow. Some chose to stay in Slaveport, but many chose to go “home”. The pack guars were saddled, and half the group’s trade cloth was loaded up, and the plans were made to return back to Sentinel as a large convoy…

Westlaws Update 2.3
“The Castle Aaahhhgggg - our quest is at an end.”

House Outsider, along with their various allies headed back to The Hole, using their shiny new keelboat, “The Necreme”. Relighting the shadow beacaons as they pass, and lulling the guardian at three-mushroom crossing to sleep, they reached the previously visited dock overlooking the chasm.

The Outsiders slaughtered the guards, a group of demonic gnolls, looted the barracks and proceeded across a massive timber and chain bridge leading to an isolated obsidian tower built on a pillar of stone over the vast shadowy chasm. The “island” the tower was standing on was strewn with bones of all sorts, even dragon bones and others of strange origins. The tower was supported by flying buttresses looking like massive insect legs. Two other bridges headed off into the darkness west and south, while a large stone stairway sealed with an iron portal led down to the graveyard around the tower. A massive iron golem rose from the ruins, covered in gore, and a constant stream of skeletons rose from the island and tower floor. Eventually determining the golem had to be destroyed or the skeletons would never stop rising from the ruins, they defeated the “Bloody Golem”, and managed to clear the tower.

Taking the south bridge, they encountered another tower of obsidian rising from the gloom. A squat affair, surrounded by a glistening sea of obsidian tentacles, the Outsiders approached carefully, and slipping past the iron doors, encountered a black-armored warrior kneeling in prayer. Quickly over-bearing him and killing him where he stood, the group looted his chambers. In addition to two other exits from the tower, the place was obviously his bed chamber, possessing a simple bed, desk & chair, travel chest and a mirror on a stand. Domingo Colo approached the mirror, and while the rest looted the chamber, peered at an image of a half-woman/serpent in gaudy finery. She stared out of the mirror, and the Deva was suddenly attacked with a psionic strike that nearly bludgeoned him insensible. He responded by shattering the mirror with the Moon Mace, terminating the contact. Among the man’s personal possessions, were several Scrolls of Remove Affliction, some valuables and a note reminding the finder to use the scrolls “… to turn me back if the Gorgon training goes badly…”.

Taking the south bridge, the Outsiders came upon a squat tower with a spiraling ramp leading down into a pit. Guarded by numerous robed priests chanting a ritual around a black altar, the shadows near the base of the ramp hid an accordion-like bellows moving up and down in a rhythm in cadence with their chanting. Surrounding the altar was a silvery rune circle glowing with arcane power. At the far end of the pit was a wide stone stairway rising steeply back to the height of the entrance, along with another bridge of timbers and chains leading off to the west. Quickly engaging the guards, Brommik rode Slithertooth along the walls to engage the leaders of the chanting on the pit’s bottom, while the group moved along the ramps to attack and flank the others. The leader of the group chanted an arcane word of great power, and turned into a demonic form of some sort, flying down to attack Brommik and the others on the pit floor. Although difficult, the Outsiders defeated the priests of the Spiral Pit, and determining they had nothing of value, moved off down the west bridge, after destroying the “shadow billows” with ranged attacks.

Across the bridge they uncovered a carved stone balcony with several black and white tapestries hanging along its edges. Depicting various creatures – drow, dwarves, fiends and others – all kneeling before a black serpent-shaped sun/moon in the sky. In one corner was a square inscribed on the floor in runes and sigils. Another suspension bridge of timber and chains headed off to teh south, and a darkened tunnel led to the west. Examination of the tapestries revealed their great value, though they were cumbersome and difficult to take. Arcane examination of the runes determined them to One of the strange carpets caught Grignak’s eye and he determined it to be valuable and arcane, though he couldn’t determine its exact purpose. Galaron, Illuria’s bodyguard hefted the massive thing over his shoulder, and the group decided to leave via the tunnel; whereupon they were assaulted by a pair of black-skinned demons who used their powerful poleaxes to attack, though they also tried to eat the Outsider’s souls at various points, before falling.

Following the tunnel, they eventually entered a rough-hewn chamber with several more guard-priests, and a series of obsidian biers along the left wall. In one corner lay a black bellows spewing smoke with every exhale, and another suspension bridge led away to the east over the vast chasm. Quickly defeating the guardians of the chamber, the group examined the biers, but avoided touching any of the strange beings that faded in and out on their tops. Looking away to the east, they saw the thing they had come for; a massive earth mote of obsidian floating above the chasm below, looking much like a fortress of solitude.

Crossing the bridge, the group entered a large gloomy library lit by green lights emnating from skulls alight with cold emerald flames. Various bookshelves rested across the room, filled with books, scrolls and ancient tomes, that moved about across the chamber from shelf to shelf, or from stacks on the pair of tables. Tunnels led further east and south into the obsidian earth mote. As the group made their way across the chamber, Domingo Colo grabbed one of the books as it passed near him, and the skulls all flared with bright green bursts of flame, obscuring the area with bright firelight. Bursting with flames, the skulls attacked the party, and eventually fell, though none of the shelves, tables or books were destroyed in the fires. Colo took one book and the group moved down the south tunnel.

Entering a vast chamber in the center of the obsidian mote, they were stunned by the horror before them. The dark image seen earlier of a half-serpent/woman was real before them, with a swath of carpets and pillows across the center of the chamber along with various treasures and wealth. Above her, a black orb looking like a frayed ebon cloth wadded into a ball, floated. Along all the walls were cages, black iron prisons stuffed with wasted beings in ragged robes. Too small to properly fit their forms, dwarves, drow and even humans twitched as purple-blue energy rose from them like smoke towards the black tear in space. Each prisoner’s eyes pleaded for release – though their desire for death seemed to war with simple freedom.

The figure of Explicitica Defilius spoke;

“You see before you your Doom! Soon the unraveling of reality will come, and your very souls shall be mine! MINE! I was marked before any of you pitiful creatures were born as one of the Chosen. Soon all shall understand the power of the Earth Serpent, and weep!”

“Where’s PASSY!?!” screamed Brommik and the group began to attack. Explicitica summoned strength and with the tip of her spear dragged a large bone skeleton from within the tear, that with a flash of bright blue sparks began to attack the group and cover Explicitica. The fight was brutal, with the dragon cutting swathes of damage and gore through the ranks of the PCs, eventually forcing some to retreat before finally falling to their combined attacks. Expicitica retreated down teh only other tunnel from the chamber, before turning “back” into the shape of Brommik’s true love, * Journeyman Mage Passara Elventree. Bronnik faltered, and nearly fell into her charms, but with cries of grief attacked and slew Passy, who turned back into the shape of Explicitica, and with relief and dread, Brommik rested.

The group felt a shudder rock the earth mote, and quickly freeing all the prisoners they could, looted some of the wealth gathered here before retreating back through the library and back to the “Bier Chamber”. Asking about “Passy” one old lady reported that two girls, one fitting Passy’s description, and another fitting * Forgia Chase, having been “selected” and taken elsewhere. Once everyone wa safely across the chasm (no easy feat), they all turned back to hear the groan and impossible shift in shadows that ate the obsidian earth mote, making it dissappear. As tremors continued and rose, the group pushed and prodded their rescued group across the various bridges and towers, to reach the docks, where they watched the various constructs over-looking the chasm break, crumble and fall (except the first tower, which stood tall and pieces fell off, but it remained). Crowding the prisoners (almost stacking them like cord-wood) aboard the Necreme, the group set sail across the Darkmire, past the “Three-Mushroom Crossing” and its guardian leviathan, to the castle ruins near the Darkmire’s entrance. They set a camp, feeding the prisoners with their own stores and made a hasty camp. The Serpent Queen of Slaveport had been defeated!

Westlaws Update 2.2
"And in the afternoon they entered a land - but such a land! A land hung in mourning, darkened by gigantic cypresses, submerged; a land of reptiles, silence, shadow, decay."

15th of Kelen : In the morning, during breakfast, the group was informed that a merchant from the local market, a Drow Clothier named Karafu, was seeking an audience with the “…newest House Matron or her representatives…”. The group assembled in the throne room and Karafu was allowed entrance.

Flanked by dwarven guards and several of the * Dawn Rock Clan’s chief members in residence, the Outsiders were assembled on the dias. When Karafu approached, he did so with utmost care and concern, bowing and stopping, bowing annd stopping, clutching a worn, though ornate wooden box under one arm. “Speak!” demanded Grignak. The conversation that followed was confusing, but the Outsiders learned a great deal about local politics and Drow relations.

It turns out, Karafu was a representative of the local merchants and while he apologized for the lack of goblins to gift the matron, he sought to pay tribute to the new drow matron of Slaveport. He was informed that the procession seen the day prior was of a guest clan of Drow to the Serpent Hold, and that the town was owned by * House Outsider, and its Matron, Illuria. It was explained that Grignak was its Master of Arcane, Brommik her Champion, Domingo Colo its Religious Adviser, and Vani Ander her Trade Adviser. It was further clarified that House Outsider would allow the denizens of Slaveport the freedom to act how they may, provided they kept the peace and maintained free trade and correct prices in the markets. They also stipulated that the slave-trade was the exclusive right of House Outsider, and all matters for its concern must be directed to House Outsider or its agents. A much-humbled Karafu presented his tribute of 250 gp worth of coins and small baubles, claiming them to be the collected goods of the town merchants, and was excused to inform his fellow merchants. * Sontonia Ironfold was presented with various accounts and coin to pay for the House’s expenses (mostly in House Vrama platinum), and the Outsiders made ready to leave on their next journey.

Boarding their rickety little double-hulled catamaran, the Outsiders slipped out the “back-door” and off down the trade canal towards the hidden cavern where they suspected Brommik’s girlfriend * Journeyman Mage Passara Elventree was being held prisoner. Other than a couple Oozes that tried to drop on their boat, early on the third day, the trip was uneventful.

17th of Kelen : The Outsiders reached the fetid cavern opening of The Hole and slipping down its length discovered it opened after several hours onto a vast, fungal-choked cavern. Still and silent, it was a swampy collection of mosses, towering black fungal trees, and impenetrable black water. In the distance, a faint glimmering could be seen, a shadowy light that seemed to glint at the very edge of vision. The only sounds were the creak of their boat and the splash of their oars in the water. The choking stench of decay overwhelmed everything else, and off against the left side of the cavern lay a tumbled pile of worked stone, only vaguely resembling a broken and ancient castle. They headed there, soon discovering a rickety dock with a large, actual ship anchored along its length.

This boat, a strange and rather ungainly keel-boat about 30’ in length, had several oars pointed upright from within, but no mast. Benches, arranged low in the hull were occupied by chained skeletons who manned the oars and sat motionless. A pair of lanterns hung from both bowsprit and rudder, and glimmered with the black flickering glow of magical lights. As they approached the dock to tie it off, a pallid “shadow” person emerged from the ship’s bow cabin, his face swathed in purple tattoos and dressed in spiked armor with numerous iron piercings all over his face and arms. “Well”, he rasped, “Who sent you?”.

Brommik took over questioning and after several unanswered queries regarding “Passy”, slaves and other matters, the figure stated “You are not supposed to be here… Sitheriel! Attack!”, and several low, amorphous and shadowy shapes appeared from the gloom of the ships and docks shadows to attack and try to surround the Outsiders. The fight was brief, though brutal, with the humanoid attempting to push off with his boat at its height, but Brommik and Domingo were dogged in their attacks and boarded the ship with heroic leaps. Both the ship’s master and his “hounds” fell to the Outsiders.

Looting the corpse they recovered a strange obsidian amulet (Later proven to be the ownership phylactry of the ship), a Mithril Chain Shirt +1, a Magic Spiked Chain +1 and a Potion of Vitality. The group quickly destroyed the skeletons, and looking around, headed up to a nearby ruined guardhouse. Within they found a large Blackscale and several smaller lizardfolk marauders. After these were dispatched, they recovered a male lizard folk warrior who was chained and imprisoned in a corner. Calling himself “Steersissk”, they were able to speak with him in draconian. He claimed to be from a village of his kind a half-day’s travel along the right-hand cave wall, that he called the Sharptooth Village. He explained that several shadow priests had taken his people there, and that when they came back, they were no longer living. He said that two of his companions had been taken there a day ago, and he knew not whether they lived. He said the human prisoners do not go to the Village, but rather take the boat off into the swamp. He also warned against visiting the ruins of the castle, since it was ruled by a “…fearsome shadow-fiend, like a great grey cat that walked…”. When the Outsiders chose to travel to the castle, he offered to stay here, since he was not able to help them yet, and would await their return.

Poking around the outer ruins, they found everything shattered and several doors leading into nothing, as though portions of the castle had not made the transition to this place. Enering the main hall, they approached the tall tower at its far end, and opened the final door to reveal a large feast hall, now crumbling and cracked, its faded murals peeling and several doors opening into the gloom of the cavern. Shadows gathered in all its corners, and a dim shadowed light glowed beyond to reveal foul viscera and gore smeared across its walls, floor and ceiling. The horrid stench of death overcame the presence of stale decay, and in the room’s center rose a rickety iron stairwell into the chamber’s roof. Corpses in various stages of consumption and decay were chained to the walls at various points. The group were not surprised, when a large cat-like humanoid strode down the stairs with shocking speed and snarled, “You should not be here… Good! I need fresh meat!”.

The fight was long, wiht the creature using both strange, otherworldy shadow powers and a vicious pounce and rake attack that proved devastating. It seemed immune to many forms of damage, but met Grignak’s and Illuria’s psychic assaults with growls and curses. When it fianlly fell to the combined might of the Outsiders (and not without casualties), the PCs uncovered an impressive hoard of silver and gold coins in chests along one wall, and several potions and jewellery in a worn silk pouch. Among them they recovered a Ritual Scroll (Remove Affiliction) and a magical Brooch of Shielding. Risking the danger, they slipped into the upper chamber, and found a simple, if huge throne of obsidian that dominated the chamber. Perhaps once an astrolabe or observatory, the walls were fitted with high, shuttered windows and the carvings of foreign starry skies upon its ceiling. They retreated from the chamber, having exhausted much of their resources and strength, and retreated back to the shadowed guardhouse for an extended rest.

During Grignak’s watch, he slipped back into the observatory, and after using his Arcane lore to identify it as “The Dusk Lord’s Throne”, attempted to “activate” it; but discovered it required Shadow Powers to employ. Dejected, he left and slipped back to the guardhouse, and awaited the dawn.

18th of Kelen : In the morning (?), Brommik, having pondered the “Throne”, chose to go into the throne chamber and “activate” it himself. Sitting upon the throne for over a minute and concentrating on his recently acquired shadow powers, he managed to turn on some sort of arcane switch, and was quickly encased in a shadowy cloak that dissipated to form a “shadow crown” over his head. He gained the Feat : “Dark Lord’s Crown”, which bestowed Cold Resist 5 and superior low-light vision (x4 normal low-light vision) in shadowed light). Whenever this or other shadow powers were activated, it displayed the Portent of shadows swirling and then coalescing about his head, like a shadowy halo…

Deciding they needed to rescue the lizardfolk if they remained alive at this point, they asked Steersissk to guide them to his old village, which he agreed to do. The Outsiders followed the ancient stone pathway that led along the cave’s foot for several hours, eventually arriving at a great mound of earth and moss beside a vast dark lake. Various fungal trunks pierced the mound from its interior, and gaps between the trunks were set with fungal timber and chinked with moss, thorny growths and mud. Choosing to take the “back door” in rather than the front entrance by the lake, they approached a tough little doorway of timbers and vines along one side at the end of a muddy little path marked with glowing magical black torches.

Slipping inside with Vani’s skills, they encountered several “Shadowscale Marauders” who used javelins, stone axes and a curious number of throwing pots with Dire Stirges inside, that flew about when released to attack everyone. Defeating them, they moved onwards to encounter a dark purple snaky beast with a woman’s head that dangled numerous tentacles. A wickedly barbed stinger tipped its tail. “Humansses”, the creature hissed, “Who are you? What do you seek?”. “Foolish creature!”, responded Brommik, “We are not humans and we come for Passy!”. When it became apparent comabt was about to ensue, it further whispered, “Interesssting… You must not serve the Missstresss…” Slipping into the waters of its small pool, the creature summoned a pet Scorpion, that was quickly dispatched, but the snaky creature proved a difficult opponent, despite its young age. Highlights of the fight included several failures of Grignak’s new Tanglefoot Bags, though he finally managed to nail the creature close enough to shore that the entire group could surround and beat it to death. They gathered “snakeblood” for Grignak’s Ritual to activate his relic, the Eye of the Serpent, and Grignak took soome time to search through the pond for treasure, literally tripping over a number of water-logged clay casks filled with gold and silver coins, a pouch of several pearls and a Potion of Healing.

Continuing further, Steersissk led them past a series of ruined egg-laying chambers inot the Great Central Warren where more Shadowscales with their pots of Dire Stirges were encountered, as well as the great leader of the tribe, the war-chief Kossandar and his giant “War Beetle”. The fight was surprisingly quick, though brutally so, and when their foes had been defeated, the Outsiders looted the lair of its treasures, while Steersissk rescued the two females he had come for from a pit dungeon off the main chamber. Lying in heaps in the war-chief’s quarters were almost ten thousand coins (mostly silver, but including a couple thousand gold pieces), a variety of precious objects (several gold goblets and an ornate silver platter), a couple potions and ritual scrolls, a Shortsword of Frost +1, and a suit of Leather Armor +3. With the new lizardfolk in tow, they fled tha chambers of the Shadowscales, and made their way back to the ruined guardhouse for a well-deserved extended rest.

19th of Kelen : With the morning, the Outsiders decided to follow the mysterious beacons that led off into the swamp (now with their shiny new boat and some lizardfolk to help row!). They searched the boat more closely, and found it to be named “The Necreme”. Located in the front cabin (It has a cabin?!?) they found several large clay casks of smoky oil, a mysterious scroll, some more treasure (coins, and a silver comb) and a masterwork lute. The scroll bore numerous musical notations and the odd passage:

“Play this, and the guardian at Black Mushroom Bend will subside – Esvele”

Vani took possession of the lute, and practiced his long unused musical skills using the keys found on the lute. The group crowded aboard the boat and began to follow along the chain of beacons into the depths of the fetid swamps. Each black-glowing beacon led them further on into the depths of the marsh cave, until at one point where they took a sharp turn, the waters swirled and groaned and Vani quickly employed his thievery skills to force the moaning creature of Black Mushroom Bend to quietly sink beneath the waters. after a good 10-12 miles on the boat, they began to hear the roaring of a series of falls leading deep into a chasm of some sort ahead, and finally sighted the “Landing”.

A squat stone cabin dimly illuminated by flaming magical torches illuminated a short peir to one side, where a pair of small boats were tied-up, and various supplies lay stacked and moldering. A suspension bridge of great timbers and iron chains ran off into the gloom beyond the cabin, below which the dark waters of the caves poured off into a vast chasm of unknown depths. As the Outsiders approached the cabin, they met a pair of tall gnolls, though they possessed impossibly large maws and licked the sides of their heads with long, prehensile tongues. The demonic gnolls engaged in a conversation, but refused to allow the Outsiders passage beyond the Landing without some sort of token. The Outsiders realized the long-lost (sold to elves in the market fair, actually) Amulet of the Earth Dragon was probably what they were looking for, and deciding they could not fight their way past the gaurds at this time, the group chose to pretend to be merchants seeking to buy slaves. That didn;t help either, so they agreed to leave, and slowly (and dejectedly) made their way back along the beacon’s passage, carefully ensuring they were all re-filled from the casks of shadow oil in the boat’s cargo.

20th-23rd of Kelen : Returning past the ruined castle, the Outsiders made their way back north, hauling tehir catamaran behind, while the Necreme slowly paddled its way back to Slaveport. On the first day along the trade canal, they were attacked by a pack of swimming ghouls that tried to drag the Outsiders into the canal to feast on them, but they were quickly dispatched.

Reaching Slaveport, the group had the catamaran moved back into its “backdoor”, while the Necreme was tied-up at the abandoned trade port below the local inn, “The Dark Man”. Returning to Serpent Hold, the lizardfolk were given the old “island chamber” in the lower cellars as a temporary housing, and were promised that a suitable new home would be searched out for them. The group also discussed various options for a House Symbol, deciding upon the golden sun rays on a black background, now noted as House Outsider’s symbol. They also discussed trade matters with the Matron of * House Morcane, asking her if she had any suggestions and offering to grant her a “percentage” if she looked after their collected mass of trade cloth. She agreed.

24th of Kelen : Vani and Brommik visited the Dark Man, the fortified inn of Slaveport, and hired a band of Duergar mercenaries present as mercenaries to watch over their interests at the ruined trade fort. They were promised 750 gp per month for this duty, and the pair then discussed getting repairs completed on the fort to allow some sort of official trade to begin, loosely hiring the Dawn Rock clan to contact the Stonebreakers when they got a chance and arrange such work. Domingo searched the market for goblins to act as future rowers of their new ship, the Necreme, and after cornering a pair near the edge of the market, he convinced the somewhat sentient one to bring many of its fellows back here to serve for handfuls of coins (2 sp per day per goblin!). Making the “Kissy Promise”, the lead goblin, one Skabris, scampered off and began the “Great Goblin Round-up”, bringing a number of future rowers to the PCs. The dozen goblins agreed to return back when summoned, and left Domingo to wash his boots and hand as soon as possible.

Grignak took the opportunity of “downtime” to use his captured snake blood to activate his relic, and with the notes he’d managed to acquire in the drow city of Pedastal, preformed his ritual. He gained the Feat : “Blood of the Serpent”, which imparted Resist Poison 5.

Rikar returned as promised, and did a great many things. He enchanted Brommik’s plate armor, sold a variety of minor rituals, and completed Domingo’s Ritual : “Truth of the Mirror”, binding that relic to the Deva.

Illuria found a human soldier, Galaron the Mercenary at Kuto’s Pool in the marklet, and hired him as a bodyguard, equipping him in his near poverty with numerous magic items recently wrested from The Hole and paying him well to ensure his loyalty.

That night the group discussed various plans, including trade matters and their return to “The Hole” to plunder its depths and rescue Passy and the other slaves.

Westlaws Update 2.1
"Not necessity, not desire - no, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything - health, food, a place to live, entertainment - they are and remain unhappy and low-spirited: for the demon waits and waits and will be satisfied."

28th of Alturik : After a solid extended rest in Hlethveg’s Storeroom, the Outsiders discuss their options. They decided that they should employ the “Boots on NEcks” option, and subjugate the orog caverns, in the hopes they might find more information regarding Passy’s kidnapping.

Returning to the Orog Caverns, they encountered a massive rat swarm, encompassing the entire cavern. Using stealth and their knowledge of the Underdark, the Outsiders managed to escape most of the rats, though Illuria trips, falls and gets swarmed, suffering numerous bites and attacks before she’s able to fight free. After some needed rest and healing, they continue back towards the Caverns. Reaching the entrance to the massive fungal forest cave, the PCs rest.

29th of Alturik : The PCs travel through the fungal forest, and approach the large, crudely-made doors of teh Rageskull tribe, to find the portal sealed against them. Vani works his magic, and after a few minutes manages to open the barred and sealed door. Beyond, the outer chamber has been somewhat cleared of corpses, though several still remain along the walls. Travelling into the chamber beyond, they find a large cave filled with Crushbone Orcs along the walls. Beyond them lay a deep-looking pond, with an altar to some forgotten god, and at the head was a female orc shaman wearing what must have been the finest orcish clothing and gear, guarded by a handful of Orog guards with the Rageskull crest on their shields. Behind her cowered a collection of females and orc kits from the Crushbone Tribe.

Brommik strode forward atop his new “pet”, Slithertooth, the captured riding lizard, and demanded to speak with whoever was in charge, using Deep Common. The shaman pointed down the other passage beyond, and said one word “Bloodfeaster”. Tying Slithertooth and Grignak’s Guar pack train in the previous chamber, the PCs trod carefully down the mentioned path, passing a large open cavern to their left that had the feel of a barracks to it; empty, with a large cage in one corner, that later was identified to be Slithertooth’s “nest”. They passed into a large cavern with a massive pile of hides along one side, several strange furnishings and a massive trunk on the opposite wall. Guarding this chamber was a huge Orog chieftain, several guards, and a pair of shamans. In one corner was a small tunnel leading down into the dark. Brommik approached and challenged “Bloodfeaster” for control of the tribe. The chieftain cried one word; “DIE!”, and with the chorus of the PCs banging their weapons together, combat ensued.

With a heavy “GWARGH!” the orcs and PCs crashed together. Brommik was amazing in his deft strikes and flaching blade, employing Inathi Ochelpa to its fullest. Laying into the swarm of orcish guards, he began cutting a path through to the chief, while the chief attacked over his minions. The paired shamanes threw fire and smoke at the PCs, and while Illuria struck over and around Brommik, Domingo slipped along the flank, removing soldiers one after another. Vani and Grignak struck at targets of opportunity as they made themselves available. As Domingo slipped around and flanked the guards to engage the shamans, Brommik revealed his House Vrama insignia, using its powers to aid him in fighting the chief, who noticed the symbol and grew frantic in his fight.

With the guards mostly dispatched, and the chief bloodied, Grignak slipped away from the shaman’s fire bolts, and noticed the shaman from the previous chamber accompanied by her guards, entered the hallway and began throwing flame at the Bloodfeaster, revealing her strength as a powerful shaman. With everyone concentrating on the combat, Vani slipped into a flanking position and quickly dispatched both a guard and one of the shamans. As Brommik laid the final blow to the Bloodfeaster, one of the shamans slipped down the side tunnel to escape. Victory! Much banging of weapons and howls of success. Domingo simply shook his head as he cleaned his weapon The Moon Mace, muttering “…and so we see, Evil shall always consume itself…”.

The Outsiders sacked the chamber, while talking with the now animated shaman. She identified herself as a priest of Luthic, orcish demigoddess of the Hearth and tribe. She also identified “Bloodfeaster” as a follower of a false god, not the Earth Serpent as everyone supposed, but rather Agrik, God of Tyranny. Both Brommik and Dominigo felt well served in killing him and his followers, as their goddess demanded. In the large trunk (with Vani bypassing its trap), the group found a large collection of silver, electrum and gold coins (including several hundred platinum drow coins!), a few magic bits of armor and healing potions, as well as a collection of gear meant for a dwarf. They discussed matters, and the priestess of Luthic (named Garundaryek) claimed she now spoke for the Crushskulls and the Rageskulls, and that if anyone sought hiring orcish mercenaries in the future, they should talk to her. The PCs agreed. She procalimed she was not much privy to the slave trading that went on, since it was handled by the Bloodfeaster and his captain (the former owner of Slithertooth). Pleased that the situation was well in hand in the Orog Caverns, the Pcs departed, stating they or their agents should return soon… The PCs retreated back to teh cavern entrance, and took a full extended rest.

30th of Alturik Returning to Hlethveg’s Storeroom, the PCs took a day to re-pack and organize the guar pack train (now 6 guar and growing!). They decided to sack the cave, since they did not intend to return any time soon, and took inventory of the cloth, food and spirits left in the chambers. Strapped under one table they also looted a collection of healing potions. The PCs left a “Promissary Note” identifying themselves, and where to collect the 17,000 gp in trade goods they had just packed onto the guar. Well-rested, they headed off into the Lesser Warrens.

1st – 5th of Kelen : The trip along the caverns of the Lesser Warrens went without notable incident, passing along “The Way”, past the Domain to the Nexus and allowing the PCs to reach their intended site of the Rogue Crypts, “Summer Home” of fallen House Morcane. To gain access, they needed to erect an ingenious “elevator” to haul the guar up into the entrance tunnels of the Crypts, and eventually met with House Morcane.

News was exchanged between House Outsider and House Morcane’s “matrons”, with Illuria taking the lead, led by Grignak giving mental suggestions. The PCs apologized for their inability to bring goblin slaves as a gift (something they’ve found is a common and favourable action among Drow), and exchanged news. The matron, Tierak Morcane, seemed especially alarmed by the PCs reports of a large band of ogres and orcish minions from the Viper Crown moving through the Lesser Warrens. Taking the hint, Illuria offered House Morcane to visit Slaveport and be their guests in the Under Halls of Serpent Hold. Tierak accepted and preperations were begun, since she said it would take at least a day to pack for the journey. With a day to spend, Grignak asked if the PCs could investigate one of the walled-off sections immeadiately next to the entrance tunnel, to which Tierak seemed unconcerned.

The PCs made preparations, and after investigating the wall (obviously magically created to seal the tunnel), they employed their various tools (including Brommik’s wonderful crowbar) and broke it open, revealing a tunnel leading off into the darkness. The tunnel quickly split, and its walls, ceiling and floor were found to be strewn with thick sheets of webbing. Since this was a drow crypt (something Matron Tierak had mentioned was odd, since “true” drow do not bury their dead, rather placing them as fodder for the forests when they die…). Taking the right path, they found it led to a large open cavern strewn with webbing and its entrance partially covered by a massive pile of offal, bones and webbing. The denizens revealed themselves to be driders! The tough one along the south wall was brutal and quickly turned to hiss at the PCs, while the slighter one seemed busy… chewing on something…

Taking advantage of the distracted slighter one, Brommik, astride Slither tooth, streaked along the wall over the offal pit, and charged the slighter one doing a brutal series of blows while she was distracted. The large one charged the PCs, stopping at Domingo who challenged it with a divine call. Vani slipped around to one side while Brommik’s dog nipped and successfully distracted the bigger one to help. The creature took special notice of Vani and his vicious strikes, and brutally damaged and bit him. Meanwhile, Brommik managed to severely wound the slighter one, though it slowly moved over to link with its companion.

As they slowly managed to get close to each other, the female slipped carefully next to the offal pit and poisoned Vani enough to knock him unconscious, while Domingo nearly took a fatal strike. Illuria managed to place well-aimed strikes against the brutal one, with Grignak laying down a constant stream of psychic damage. Although all parties began to take damage liberally, and the pair of driders proved to be tough once bloodied, eventually first the male fell, and then its consort was slain as well.

The group began to root through the offal pit, taking the equipment from the bodies of the driders, finding simple weapons and armor, and a small collection of coins. Vani and Domingo searched down the other passage, finding a pit holding a nest of large, driderish eggs, and beyond a large “feeding cavern” with countless tiny spiders swarming the ruins of numerous larger spiders and webbing, hinting the chamber was a feeding pit of some sort. Setting fire to the egg sack, the PCs slipped back into the entrance chamber to the Rogue Crypts, to rest and heal.

6th of Kelen : Vani and Domingo awoke with headaches and the distinct feeling they’ve been struck down with a disease; later identified as “Blinding Sickness”. Vani took the illness particularly harshly, and Grignak offered to use his Ritual Scroll to assist Vani get better. Domingo has one as well, and although Vani took serious damage in the healing, he was able to recover (and only nearly die) with help from his companions. Domingo suffered less damge and recovered quickly.

Soon after the healing, Matron Tierak Morcan appeared with her brother the mage (Kisrak), and her guards and servants (for the first time, too). She was revealed to have six guards, two carrying chains with spiders on collars, and a pair of spider-like humanoids bearing packs and chests on their backs; Matron Tierak identified them as “Spiderlings”, and they seemed intelligent, if submissive… and hideous. It was noted, that unlike other drow encountered, they did not have any bugbear thralls with them as muscle. The group, with pack guar and Slithertooth at the lead, headed back down the now familiar paths of the Least Warrens travelling to Slaveport.

7th – 14th of Kelen : The paths were fairly deserted, and teh group quicly passed through the first NExus, then past the Quarry chamber and the watchpost (still abandoned), the second Nexus and into Vulcan’s Forge, where their dwarvish allies, the Dawn Rock clan were mining the exposed cave walls of this massive chamber. They introduced their House Morcane “guests”, and then passed on towards Slaveport, reaching the community on the 14th.

Passing straight to Serpent Hold, the group introduced their guests to the Dawn Rock dependents, and a feast was had by all. The PCs divided treasure and Brommik paid back a large pile of platinum he owed the group. News was excahnged, and plans were made. It was commented that someone needed to do something about the Gnoll tribe that laired across the way; either hire them or enslave them. The elusive Stonebreaker dwarves were recently in town, selling rare scrollwork weapons and raw precious minerals for food and cloth. The strange dwarven items taken from the Rageskull tribe’s treasure were identified as belonging to one “Snaggle”, a scout and courier for another elusive dwarven tribe near Slaveport, the hidden village of Underbell. They offered to take the dwarf’s belongings, and see if they could be returned to his next of kin. When Grignak asked about the “Bull-man” that came to town sometimes, they informed him he was in town at the market… Grignak quickly vanished quickly followed by the rest of the group…

The minotaur was poking through the pottery shop for potion bottles(“OMG! It’s a bull in a china shop! No one do anything to startle him!”). Dressed in gold-trimmed red robes once of fine shimmersilk, with silver and gold rings on his horns, Grignak introduced himself, to find Rikar “the Prophet” to be a cultured and educated creature. Grignak inquired after his knowledge of several rituals (Brew Potion, Enchant Item and Disenchant Item, in particular), but he admitted he usually only carried a limited selection when in market (Cure Disease, Discern Lies, Gentle Repose, Raise Dead and Traveller’s Feast), as well as Ritual Scrolls of Discern Lies and Traveller’s Feast for trade and sale. Brommik inquired after his enchanting an item, and he agreed to return in a ten-day with the appropriate materials to enchant Brommik’s plate armor. Domingo asked if he knew any other rituals, and showing the Moon Mace to Rikar, was informed he did know the proper rituals to “invest” the owner, called “Truth of the Mirror”. He agreed to return on the ten-day as well and bring the materials needed to activate the relic’s powers. They said their goodbyes, and wishing him well, returned to the Serpent Hold for a good night’s rest…

Westlaws Update 2.0
"Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness."

A short journey wherein the intrepid PCs get lost in an effort to find Passy, and eventually discover just how dark the Underdark can be…

The Group returned to their Underdark “home” of the Serpent Hold, spending the night in safety and catching-up with their Dwarven DawnRock allies who watch the place. Over morning ales, the group voted on their next direction, and chose to take the slaver’s boat down-river to try and find Passy and the other prisoners.

Taking the boat, they travel for a couple days along the ancient trade canal to pass a pair of traders camping on a shrine, a human and a halfling, who give them some information regarding local customs (Goblins make for great gifts to Drow, apparently), and answer a few questions about Drow Houses and their power structure. They also pass by a gaping maw of a cavern, from which the stench of an Underdark swamp can be smelt, known locally as “The Hole”.

15th of Hammer : The group reach the “Lake”, and following around its edges, eventually reach the ruins of the City of Fountains. The ancient ruined dwarven city has vast swaths of fallen stone covering it, and wild mushrooms have grown wildly across the entire area. Investigating a strange “lighthouse” seen on a rocky island near the docks, they discover dozens of troglodytes and worse… and realize they might be out-classed by the creatures living in the ruins of this war zone. They camp on their boat, and quickly leave the docks.

16th of Hammer : Fleeing deeper into the Underdark along the trade canal that they believe led to the trade city of Pedastal, they eventually come to a vast, unfathomable stretch of briny water: they have uncovered the Great Sunless Sea. Braving waves and storm-tossed waters, they make good time and eventually reach a minor canal leading off. They rested for a short time at the entrance, and then poled their way along for a day, encountering a trade barge of Drow, getting directions.

17th of Hammer : The PCs canal joins a major trade canal, and following the directions given by the traders, they quickly follow it “upstream” to discover the mysterious fastness of Pedastal.

The city rose like a patch of mushrooms, growing about the bulk of “The Pedastal”, a vast pillar of stone stretching from the floor of the cavern to its misty ceiling. Numerous other pillars can be seen along the edges, and beyond the city lies the vast bulk of the Sunless Sea. The outer edges of the cavern are a series of mushroom forests and open cultivated fields and small villages, supporting the city. The PCs discovered what appeared to be mists, were actually the smoke from countless fires, and despite its ruin and age, still housed a respectable number of Drow and other races.

Travelling to the ancient ruins of the docks, the PCs managed to barter “protection” for their boat, and immediately hit the markets to spend their hard-earned gold and platinum. The market proved to have most anything, though they were not interested in trained Gelatinus Cubes and other rare “collectibles”. Girgnak managed to find information on his “Eye of the Serpent”, and Brommik was able to find bags of residium for sale. They inquired about “new slaves”, but could find nothing definitive regarding Passy or any others they were looking for. Spending the night in an abandoned shop, they took a well-needed rest to examine their new bobbles and discuss their next actions.

18th of Hammer : Acquiring their goods, and discussing matters, they agree they have come too far, and should return to Slaveport. They discovered the central pillar was a fortress for their fave Serpent Cult, and that the local drow house, House Dusklorn, controls the former “Noble District” surrounding the Pillar, due mostly to their control of the farms and mercenaries in the city. The PCs return to the docks and retrieve their boat from the duergar, heading out into the Sunless Sea…

They promptly got lost. Massive waves and a strong current pushed them far into the Sunless Sea, forcing them to paddle and pole for their very lives. For two days they fought illness and the dark creatures of the Underdark. Eventually, praying to every goddess they knew, they made it back to shore and into the trade canal leading to Slaveport.

21st of Hammer : The trip back up the trade canal was hard going, but after seven days of travel they managed to pole back to Slaveport, avoiding anything that looked remotely like trouble. At one point near the Sunless Sea, they encountered a trade barge of worn and weary drow commoners, who simply stared at the PCs as they passed, one old matron whispering “Kr-o-o-o-o-ol” as they passed…

27th of Hammer : The PCs rest at the Serpent Hold, and resupply themselves for a quick trip up the “backdoor” into Sentinel.

29th of Hammer : Brommik immediately seeks out the sage in the Undergarth and discovers the name of his Ritual to activate his relic sword : Enduring Vigor. Many potions of Healing are procured. Vani travels off to Broadwell with several hundred gold to continue his planned inn, and discovers it did not go well on his plans to raise a kobold. Many Healing potions are acquired.

30th of Hammer The PCs returned to their base above the Goblin Warrens, to find the kobolds have been busy, assembling a small arsenal of bolts and spears, as well as constructing several traps and teaching more tricks to their lizard ward. Grubby had been busy too, having finished his “storeroom” off the kitchens, having decorated it and even drilled a smoke hole to the surface, to provide for the PCs cooking. Brommik retrieves numerous coins from his hoard, and makes plans to visit with Lady Ravenhair in the Blessed Woods to finalize his ritual.

1st of Alturik The PCs travel to the Blessed Woods, finding it as hospitable as usual, and visit with Lady Ravenhair for a bit. She confides in the secrets of the ritual to activate Brommik’s sword, and leads them through an ancient nature ritual. Many nuts and berries later, and having spent a night under the open winter stars, Brommik does the “Dance of Stinging Nettles”.

2nd of Alturik The PCs return to Sentinel, and spend several days in research, resting, and general happy times.

5th of Alturik : Travelling back down the hidden tunnel to Sentinel, they travel to Slaveport. They then spend many days travelling down one of the main tunnels to the Rogue Crypts.

12th of Alturik The PCs encounter a few slimes, but otherwise reach the Crypts and travel into the Lesser Warrens, searching for the Orog Caves. Several days of travel along major and minor trails later, they get lost, avoiding a dangerous band of heavily armed ogres with an army of orcish mercenaries. Eventually they encounter a small “hunting party” of Drow with a handful of bugbear thralls, who answer a few questions, but generally avoid the PCs and hurry on into the Warrens.

Eventually the PCs managed to find a large cavern filled with muchroom trees, and following the main trail through the fungal growths, they discover a less-used trail leading to a clearing along one side of the cave. Close examination of the clearing revealed a hidden entrance to a small dwarven hold. Within were countless supplies, a small stable for Grignak’s Guar, and a dozen orog guards who were mostly slain. The survivors were interrogated, and revealed directions to the main Orog Caves, as well as the purpose behind this hidden fort; Hlethveg, the Halfling merchant met earlier, keeps it to supply his trade expeditions. The orog draw additional passages on Grignak’s map, including the names of the various locations. Resting there for the night, the PCs replenish their stores, leaving the crates of cloth and other rare trade goods intact.

19th of Alturik : The PCs proceed along the main trade route into the Warrens, but promptly get lost, spending eight days travelling lost among the catacombs near the Orog Caves. Eventually, they meet another band of hunting drow and their bugbear thralls, who direct them back along the tunnels until the PCs once more find their way into the Orog Caves.

27th of Alturik : A vast, open cave of broken fungal woodlands, the Orog Caves are quickly travelled through, until the PCs reached the massive stone doors of the Rageskull Orogs, lead tribe of the orog in the caves. Opening the doors, the PCs sneak into the caves beyond, and try to negotiate for information with the door guards. Eventually, they bring their “captain” Garunder to talk with the PCs. He, of course, smells of fish, and Brommik starts insulting him. Garunder demands the PCs wait for him, and he storms out, returning shortly bearing a massive red-glowing longspear/lance, and riding his large riding lizard, Slithertooth. He challenges Brommik for control of his tribe, and charges into combat. One painful assault later, the PCs panic and begin to slaughter all the guards in the chamber, including the dozen or so who storm into the chamber soon thereafter. A grand melee ensues, with the PCs victoriously seizing the outer caves of the Rageskull Orog, capturing Slithertooth and a handful of pack Guar, as well as a large collection of silver and gold coins from the purses of the orog.

The PCs flee the caves to return to Hlethveg’s Storeroom, resting and resupplying themselves. They discussed their next moves, with Brommik demanding the PCs return to Slaveport and try using the boat to pole up-stream from the trade fort, since it is the only direction they have not yet explored, and Passy’s trail has to be within 10 days of the town. Grignak fondles his new Guar. The PCs also realize, however, that with most of the Rageskulls guards removed, they might be able to seize control of the Orog Caves, and the lesser tribes under their control…

Decisions, decisions…

Westlaws Update 1.9
"Evil has no substance of its own, but is only the defect, excess, perversion, or corruption of that which has substance. "

The PCs return to the Slaveport Inn, “The Dark Man”, to move their things into the Serpent Hold, and discover that the Mysterious Slave Lord has visited there, taking the corpse of Markessa with him, and leaving a message of vengeance with their drugged-out prisoner. They turn her over to the Dawn Rocks, and hurry through the deep caves to their Goblin Hold, hoping it will save a day or two to take a direct route to their lair. Hiring Shorn, their Hill Giant “friend” to haul themselves and their stuff across the Roaring Chasm, they sneak back into their lair through the deep passages, and dumping much treasure there, travel to Sentinel.

Sentinel is in an uproar. There was a drow raid on the castle undergarth, that did indeed make-off with Passara and several other people from the castle and town. They also slew the castle cleric and a visiting paladin that was in her chambers at the time. It was unknown how they managed to get into the castle, but they left a strange sigil; believed to be the soldiers’ brooch of an Unknown Drow House.

Unable to acquire some of the resources they need to investigate this further, they visit the Nolomite Shrine in Sentinel, and discover something odd… the caretaker smells deeply of the fishy smell they’ve encountered elsewhere as servants of the serpent’s cult. The PCs proceed to sack the shrine, finding them engaged in various nefarious deeds, and an odd tunnel leading off under the city. They contact the Marshal, whom they’ve met through the previous “wererat incident”, and he gets the authority of the Thane to investigate this matter, while he posts guards in the shrine.

Resting for the night, the PCs get authority to search the tunnels, and find it leads to the Nolomite “Dawning Glory Hostel” across the street. It becomes apparent that many of the small traders and tinkers and pilgrims that have been disappearing were likely taken by the Serpent Cultists who have corrupted the Nolomite Shrine. In addition to many quarters underground for visiting slavers and their guards, they find a large “planning” room and a library of various minor books; and a tunnel that goes deeper into the Underdark.

This tunnel leads for many hours travel, going deeper and deeper, having been hewn crudely but shored like a mine shaft, eventually opening into a large “fort” similar in style and decoration to Slaveport, hinting at its origins. The site is protected by numerous “bad” dwarves and another “shadow fey”, who escapes back up the tunnel into Sentinel. They also slay a small, but powerful, lizard shaman, who carries a note offering much gold to the dwarves for “…more surface children…”. In addition to a collection of mundane supplies and some gold, they capture a number of small children kept as slaves (though some die in the fight). Lastly, a strange stone disc limned in silvery runes is recovered from the supply chamber, later identified as being a “travel stone” to some unknown destination, taking one person on a one-way trip, once per day…

The PCs return to the surface, and turn the children over to the orphanarium at North Gate Townhouse. They report to the Marshal, and turn over their prisoner, the lead dwarf Zark, to his care. Brommik takes the Deva to Cragrapid Keep to warn the knights there of what is going on, while Illuria and the Goliath search the library found in the Hostel for clues, though they only find a large ritual book of Nolom, abandoned there. Brommik and company manage to travel to Cragrapid without incident, and it becomes apparent in their discussions that there are many, many tunnels under all of the Westlaws, even under Cragrapid Keep.

Several days later, the PCs gather together and decide to explore where the tunnel leading from the abandoned fort leads, returning to the dwarven outpost they’ve just discovered. A short days travel down the tunnels, they encounter a war band of ogres from the Viper’s Crown slaver faction, and engage in a tough little fight with the warhulk and his cronies. Resting there, they travel another day’s journey further down the tunnel to discover another access to Slaveport; this one is only two-three days trip from the town above…

Westlaws Update 1.8
“Unless a serpent devour a serpent it will not become a dragon. Unless one power absorb another, it will not become great.”

Having determined the “Serpent Hold” is actually the lair of a band of slavers in Slaveport, the PCs decide to raid it; they construct a makeshift raft and sneak in the “backway”, as their contact, the rat-catcher Moctallen suggests. They encounter various shadow-guards, a monstrous Otyugh, and other shadowy creatures, including many snakes. They capture a prisoner, a drugged “follower” of the “Mistress”, wh relates that many slaves leave through the “backdoor”, and the boat takes a ten-day to make the round-trip to wherever they might be going.

Deeper into the Serpent Hold, the PCs encounter a shadow-gate, and “Markessa” and her shadow guards, who is captured. When she gives nothing of importance and it is revealed she is a slaver, a torturer and worse, she is slain and the corpse kept for future “interrogation”. Further in, they find various quarters for priests, and a large, sacked library. They also find a strange shrine to a serpent-goddess named “Explicitica Defilius”, that the PCs determine must be a Naga. The main entrance is found to be guarded by a shadowy female statue, various shattered holy vessels and relics that form into a shadow elemental when disturbed.

Interrogating their one prisoner, they find that there is a good chance that Brommik’s girlfriend, Passara Elventree and possibly Forgia, the street rat from Sentinel might have been recent prisoners sent by boat out into the wilds, to wherever they might go. A sense of urgency enters everyones thoughts, and plans are made to return to Sentinel as soon as the Hold is secured and determine the truth of these matters.

The Upper Levels are guarded by some automata, and a large meeting hall where the Captain of the Upper Halls, a Duergar/Troll half-breed rules forces a large combat, with many orcish thrall soldiers. Also, the Mysterious Slave Lord is discovered in one chamber, guarding a magic orb : The Serpent’s Eye. He, as usual, escapes. A large foundrry and forge with some slaves is uncovered, as well as a secret armory and treasure chamber. The Outer Court is abandoned, its orcish thrall soldiers having fled in the face of the PCs might and magics.

Claiming the Serpent Hold for themselves, the PCs invite the nearby Dawn Rocks to move into the facility and use it to protect their dependents, though they claim the lower levels of the site for themselves, warning of the dangers therein. Many of the slaves found in the Hold stay to help the Dawn Rock clan, especially since they have lost loved ones or have nowhere else to go.

Westlaws Update 1.7
“Suppose we have only dreamed these things like sun, sky, stars, and moon,... it seems to me that the made-up things are a good deal better than the real ones... And if this black pit of a kingdom is the best you can make, then it's a poor world..."

A series of trips, where-in the intrepid PCs investigate the ruined catacombs under the fallen shrine in the forests, which lead to numerous “wormholes” tearing apart the deep earth below the Westlaws. Most of these seem to congregate in a nexus of tunnels, and following the map they pulled from the Bugbear explorer, leads them to a hidden town known as “Slaveport”.

Slaveport is revealed to be a ruined dwarven fort, with many drow merchants and duergar farmers, all “commoners” living in relative squalor. The fort appears to be a frontier trade site, well beyond the control of the drow Houses, but remains important to the region. A powerful band of earth cultists have a base here, as do a group of gnoll mercenaries. “Wild Goblins” seem to live in the fringes of the caves, and it is rumored several small dwarf tribes live nearby.

In the nearby caves, they encounter a dwarven band, the “Dawn Rock” clan mining a major cave with a huge fissure in one side, and befriend them. Exploration also leads to a band of bugbears who are lairing at “the Watchpost” along a trail the PCs assume leads to their own goblin warrens. Eventually, the PCs explore most of the nearby caves, and even make a fleeting, if friendly contact with a drow House, House Morcane, through trade.

Lastly, they learn the true depths of the Underdark, its unlimited space and that many days away is a fallen dwarven city, “The City of Fountains”, wherein various factions are fighting for control of this once important port. Beyond these lands, lay the “Drow Borderlands”, where various minor Houses rule the caves, and beyond that, the lands of House Vrama and the “Drow Deeps”.

Westlaws Update 1.6
“ The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.”

Westlaws Update 1.6

They met under typical circumstances; in the service to the Castle and its Marshal. But before that they each had tales to tell. The adventurers were unusual; they included many races and origins, but they all were in Sentinel trying to solve the situation they each uniquely found themselves in.

28th of Uktar, Evening : Comfortably ensconced in their favorite inn, the PCs rest from days spent wandering the Dagger Hills and hunting owlbear. Before their meal is finished, Forgia materializes at Grignak’s elbow, and informs him the young acolyte will meet him in his quarters immediately. Grignak heads to the room, and completed his purchase of the Blastpatch alchemical recipe and the ritual Detect Secret Doors, trading some coin and a bright holy symbol of Nolom pulled from a kobold lair. The young acolyte seems as frightened as usual, but practically beams at his new holy symbol, and leaves once the work has been completed. Grignak hurries into town to find and purchase a large, heavy crockery pot, as a means of capturing a live ochre jelly to work in their waste-management facility in the Lair.
Vani and Illuiria try spreading rumors of the ancient bronze bell (dumped just outside the doors to the inn) being a valuable artifact, though it doesn’t seem like a topic of popular opportunity. Brommik convinces the group to help him haul the bell to Cragrapid Keep as a donation to the Order of Avarkiel based from the ancient fort. The group also discusses how to try and lure the local bandits into attacking their caravan, but cannot agree as to the particulars.

29th of Uktar : Brommik hired a local carter to assist the PCs in hauling the bell to the border fort of Cargrapid Keep. The group had private hopes of being attacked by the bandits in the valley, with Vani hiding in the wagon as back-up. Taking the old cart path north-west, they eventually entered the northern Iron Rock Ridges, and the village and fort of Cragrapid, perched above the vast swath of the central Border Forest. The view was spectacular.
Cragrapid proved to be a strong stone tower fort built of ancient and thick masonry, hauntingly empty with only a handful of knights and a company of mercenaries to guard the facility. The PCs were welcomed as honored guests, met the local chapter’s Knight Commander, Kyrian Applecross, and after a night of simple feasting, and the donation of the ancient bronze bell, they were welcomed back any time they might need assistance or a roof. Brommik also donated his secondary magic longsword taken from the bandit lair located under the warehouses in Sentinel. There was much rejoicing.

30th of Uktar : The PCs travel back to Sentinel, and spend the remainder of the day acquiring new supplies and various furnishings for the Lair. They spent the night at the inn, discussing options, including; travel to the heart of the forest; exploring the water tunnel in the goblin warrens; and heading into the Underdark through their ooze tunnel.

1st of Echos : Group returns to the Lair. They assign proper sleeping quarters and settle in doing various maintenance tasks. Vani and Brommik discover their kobold minions, Itlik and Igix, are deeply engaged in training their lizard… to climb walls… Upon being noticed, they beat the lizard off the wall with their spears, and listened to Brommik and Vani ask their questions. They informed the pair, that they could do a lot of things, if they only had tools and, even make bolts for them.

The PCs decide to search the forest for the evils hidden in the heart.

2nd of Echos : Gathering supplies, the PCs headed east out of the Warrens, travelling down into the forest, and eventually wandering out to the eastern section of the woods until they reached the ancient stone bridge crossing the Moonbrook. They searched around the area for a while but could find no trace of road or other paths. Camp under the bridge for the night.

3rd of Echos : Following the Moonbrook back west, the psionically talented begin to feel the hackles rise on the back of their necks. Searching south of the area, they find nothing, but they thought they were in the right place.

4th of Echos : Moving north of the Moonbrook, everyone in the group begins to feel very poorly, with vague nightmarish thoughts taking much of their waking thoughts. They search the area, finding a few bits of rubble, but nothing conclusive.

5th of Echos : The night was horrible, with the feelings of being watched and the horrible nightmares affecting everyone, some even getting no rest and losing a healing surge…
By noon, however, they find a series of ruins that lead to a number of natural-seeming mounds standing before a vast stone monastery. The grassy hills turned-out to be burial mounds, two of the three with intact portcullis; the third missing its iron portal. Illuria remembers the kobolds in the “smart” lair having a similar portal ruined by Brommik.
Entering the echoing halls, the first chamber is a vast place with several ruined statues, thick pillars and always sporting the mosaics of the elements. The first chamber bore a massive statue of a female goddess holding a large gold bowl of burning flames, covered in thick, black moss. The group was struck by numerous psionic attacks, and the group avoids the area along the wings of the halls.
They investigated a series of small rooms, some holding intact miniature statuettes of people, others holding smashed statuettes, and others being dank and empty. At first several PCs gathered a few to keep, but when it was brought to their attention that they were likely memorial pieces marking the dead, they put them back with apologies.
Near these rooms, they entered a pool chamber where they were attacked by a mass of mossy sludge, then another that had numerous stone tables in it, that summoned a large earth elemental, with which Grignak discussed various matters regarding the elements. They entered another chamber with censors hanging from the roof, and finally an open courtyard filled with ashes, leading to a small exterior shrine. When the PCs entered the courtyard, a pair of small fire elementals came out and tried to burn them; though Brommik’s immunity to flame made them bored, and they happily accepted the keystone the PCs brought with them of a firebloom, carrying it back into the small shrine.

The rest of the halls held a ruined library on the upper level with a few books and scrolls, a large central courtyard with a strange pair of trees that seemed suspiciously “awake” and a complex at the back that once housed workshops, a feast hall and storage chambers… along with a troll, that the PCs were able to defeat though it was scary.
They also found a stairwell leading into the deeper cellars, guarded by a tri of male soldiers and a female goddess figure beckoning them deeper. Beyond was a rusted and ruined iron portcullis, and a pair of trapped corridors leading away from a central goddess figure welcoming them to the crypts. Along one side was a guard room, and several preparation chambers led along a wide non-trapped corridor, with several narrow halls leading off into darkness. Using the right-hand rule the PCs began to wander the tunnels.
Each tunnel was lined with a series of narrow niches holding clay urns of various sizes and shapes holding ashes and bones. From time to time, rounded tunnels had broken into and out of the burial tunnels in random places. Also, during their explorations, there began to be actual voices heard from time to time, seemingly matching the horrible visions the PCs had felt off-and-on over the past few days. They were getting close to the corruption in the heart of the Forest!

Exploring one of the rough “worm” tunnels, they found they meander back and forth through the area, sometimes heading a few hundred feet into the earth beyond the crypts. At one point, they heard distant “digging” noises, and at another, they encountered a pair of armadillo-like creatures that rusted the PCs weapons and armor (and making all of them toss their relics to the rear and pull-out back-ups and lesser weapons), but eventually they managed to chase the pair off.
Returning back to the main crypt tunnels, they encountered a large chamber filled with sarcophagi and mounds of bones, but their journey was otherwise uneventful. Eventually, the group tripped into a dead-end tunnel with the “voices” seemingly very loud. Vani examined the tunnel’s end, and found a secret door, which when opened, they discovered the source of the great horror that was rotting the heart of the woods.
The first was a pit chamber with the remains of countless victims psyches smeared into its walls and the deep cells carved into its center. Beyond was a torture chamber covered in filth with a large throne overlooking the chamber. Guarding a tunnel leading away from the chamber of horrors was a robed skeleton, that when attacked clawed at the PCs and sent several of them (Vani and Brommik) on a blind teleport into the ruined crypts beyond. Quickly battered, it took a while to gather the PCs back together again, before they proceeded into the deep shrine beyond.
A central altar of mottled stone lay before hideous statue of a ram-headed beast wielding a sceptre of skulls. Bones, blood and worse lay in heaps before and around the statue. The focus of horror was identified coming from the altar, and as the PCs watched, the stone molded and bubbled turning itself into a hideous creature of pure chaos; a Chaos Beast!
In an anti-climactic battle, the group surrounded the beast, and proceeded to batter it into submission. In a stunning couple rounds <<in>>, the beast that has haunted the depths of the ruined monastery died in a gout of icky death-stuff.
The PCs cast the idol to the ground and looted the hoard of treasures (hundreds of pounds of silver and gold coins and gems) beneath. Assured the secret door and the depth of the PCs exploration ensured the PCs would rest safely, they camped in a corner of the shrine and tried to rest. Victory!!

6th of Echos : The continuing images of horror and nightmares, and the ever-present stench of rotting Chaos Beast, made the night a horrible one with little rest. Grignak suggested the PCs try and haul the corpse of the Chaos Beast out to his little flame elemental friends for disposal. Point of Order called, as to its massive size. It was then suggested the PCs carve it up and carry it out in bits… Another Point of Order called on how simply icky that was. The corpse was abandoned and the treasure was divided for carrying.
Wandering out into the corridors of crypts the PCs eventually followed the right-hand rule to lead out of the maze and back to the nexus of corridors that was the central beckoning statue. Vani swore he saw something down one corridor, but upon examination, could see nothing. He told the PCs and they quietly agreed to camp for dinner under the statue, while Vani and Colo kept an eye open. The two soon spotted a goblin head poke around the corridor to spy on them. Informing the PCs, the two approached the corridor and spotted a tall bugbear cajoling a pair of goblins with massive packs on their backs. It was telling them to keep an eye on the PCs.
Vani took advantage of the opportunity of their surprise to fire a couple shots at the bugbear. The resulting horror of a bugbear, charged into the group, dropping Vani and eventually Brommik, with its horrible strength. It summoned a pair of dire rats who inflicted filthy fevered wounds, while the two goblins curled into nearby tunnels and cried for their lives. <<mercy>. The fight was long, but eventually its minions dies, and it too went down. One of the toughest fights in the monastery!

The goblins were identified as being porter slaves. They seemed unable to comprehend the concept of the surface world, nor did they have any appreciable skills beyond fetching and carrying. The goblin’s packs were massive constructs, holding fish, strange goods, such as rags and broken tambourines.

The bugbear bore a magical morning star, strange hide armor and a map! The map was drawn of charcoal on parchment, and consisted of several lines and images of sorts along with diamonds and squares marking off chambers and tunnels. One symbol became noted, along the far left of the map, as the symbol for “Elemental Water”.
Gathering their belongings, the PCs convinced the goblins to lead them to where the bugbear came out. A ways along the left-hand wall, another worm tunnel pierced the crypts, and after clearing a little rubble, the group headed into a long, narrow tunnel leading down, deep underground. Knowing it likely led elsewhere.
The group then left the complex of tunnels, and headed back to the Lair for some partying and with a pair of disgruntled goblin porters in tow. Their first view of the surface was a raging blizzard…

7th of Echos : The day was spent in personal tasks, such as Blastpatch making, potion brewing, watching the kobolds fish and rummaging through the large, heavy packs the goblins were toting. There is a kobold-goblin summit, in which the kobolds re-iterate their need for tools, and the fact that the goblins are slaves is made clear to them… <<“they>s room, eventually finding a small tapestry of fine make hidden in a bench. This relic, sewn with gold and silver threads, depicted a city of the underdark, dominated by a large central pillar, built along a lake or sea of the deeps. A masterwork, it was easily worth 900 gp without even knowing its origins. Nothing spoke that the goblins were servants of the drow.
The PCs asked how the goblins had originally fled from upper Warrens, and the chief led the PCs to the original entrance, where the trash-filled niche lay. He revealed a hidden door, leading to a carved circular stair that led up to another hidden switch… and into the main stair entrance to the Upper Warrens and the PCs own lair!!! Grignak looked for another even lower entrance, but failed to find anything. The Lower Warrens were, apparently, yet another section of hidden carved halls from the original Elemental Shrine that the PCs claimed as their Lair!

The PCs retreated to their Lair, a little less secure about the origins of their claimed lair, knowing that drow indeed were somewhere nearby, and that there was a whole world lying below their very noses…


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