Shards of Jondaar

Attacked in the Temple!

After making their way past many devious riddles, our heroes find themselves confronted with a monstrous beast! Will they survive? Will they find the secret of the temple? Find out next time!
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The Battle for Durham Falls

We find our adventurers starring at an oncoming hoard with a day before it arrives at the walls of Durham Falls. Harold summoned them to the war room. Ziggs and Harold joined them, along with Harold’s second in command. It appeared that the army was 10,000 strong, with orcs, goblins, and clockwork soldiers. There were approximately 2,500 men to defend the city. Harold said that with the walls and men they would be able to withstand the army, but with respect to the clockwork Goliath, they may not be enough. He suggested that they evacuate the people, leaving men and traps along the path to prevent the advance of the enemy.

Ziggs ran off and returned with a plan for what appeared to be a giant ballista. He was sure of its stopping power, but he needed a powerful magic source. Kaen proposed that the party gives Ziggs the shard to use to power the machine. Drahcir said that they should not use the shard and hold the army at bay. Kina sided with Drahcir and Veryl sided with Kaen. Cram was the deciding choice. Cram decided to use the ballista. Kaen returned to the table and told Ziggs to build his machine and use the shard, though they didn’t tell Ziggs what it was. Veryl volunteered to stay with the shard at all times. Ziggs went to set up the ballista and Drahcir went to assist.

Harold said that he knew Critical Solutions had the shard, though he didn’t want to force them to reveal it. He was glad e party had it and hoped it would be enough to save the city. Harold discussed strategy and Kina was able to contribute thanks to her vast knowledge of historical combat. Harold suggested how our adventurers could coordinate themselves throughout the battlefield. Kaen was placed with the cavalry. Kina stayed with the spellcasters, Drahcir decided to stay with the ballista while Veryl and Cram assisted on the front lines.

One of the arms of the Goliath was a canon and blasted a fifty foot whole in the wall. Cram headed towards it with his men. A second bout of canon fire opened second and third holes as well. During the battle, the generals were notified that a dark force was killing people in the town. Veryl left his second in command and ventured towards this new threat. As he left, his second called out “Sir, if you go alone it will be suicide!” Veryl turned his shoulder back and said “I know” as he ran towards this new danger. Cram left his second as well to join Veryl, as did Kaen.

Kaen, Veryl, and Cram rendezvoused near where the threat was last seen. Kaen tried to detect evil, to no avail. They then saw a muscular canine with a maw full of sharp teeth and an inky black coat that seemed to drink in the light around it. It bit Cram, knocking him down. Kaen smote the creature putting an end to its foulness. Afterwards our intrepid trio received information about another creature in the city. This time, Kina joined them to discover a large brown-furred ape-like creature. After making quick work of it, the party was notified that the ballista had completely charged. Everyone rendezvoused at the ballista.

As they met, a figure adorned with wickedly barbed chains crept over the balcony and began an attack. Kina identified this lean creature as a Kyton. Drahcir used his power rod to amplify a burning arc to fry the Kyton to a crisp.

With the ballista now charged, Ziggs asked for their help to aim it. A light began to shimmer about the machine and a brilliant light shot from the ballista, hitting the Goliath in its chest. A hole is burnt clean through the mechanical monstrosity and the Goliath falls to the ground, showering the invading army with deadly sparks, dispelling them.

Suddenly, a voice from behind said "We will not be denied. " and the heroes turned to see a seething devil wielding a vicious, saw-toothed glaive, while below its toothy maw writhed a hideous, twitching beard. He was surrounded by lemures, roiling waves of flesh with half-formed limbs and a dripping face. In addition to the lemures, Kina was able to identify the devil as a Bearded Devil, and warned the party that his beard had special properties.

After a valiant battle, Critical Solutions defeated e devil and his minions. The city required some rebuilding, but most people were saved and the destruction was largely held at bay. Ziggs and Harold came to tell the heroes that they will rebuild the city.

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Return to Durham Falls

We join Critical Solutions a half day out from Durham Falls. They make their way back to the city to enter the sewers. Our party arrive at the entrance by the evening and are able to enter the same way they left. The party finds Harold and tells him everything about the experience, including that Sarkoth has a shard and that Arturo Griffen is assisting him. The party does not tell him that they have a shard. They also reveal that the imposter Lady Arti will not be able to hold her shape for much longer. Harold doesn’t know how many shards there are, but he wants to help get all the shards to Oakcrest. Kina Carnesîr asks what he wants them for, and Harold responds that he does not want them for himself, but to help others. He says that he believes that the result of uniting the shards will depend on who collects them.

Upon hearing that Lady Arti will be changing shape, he says that they need to attack the keep tonight. The only entrance he knows of would be into the cellars from the sewers, but it has not yet been used. He suggests that Critical Solutions attacks through the cellar to defeat Lady Arti while the Heralds lay siege from outside to draw off the guards.

Kina Carnesîr asks if Harold knows about Arturo Griffen. Harold has only heard of him as a raider with attacking bands across Amora, laying siege and razing cities.

Our adventurers then purchase a wands and potions wounds and rest for 8 hours. They awake in the middle of the night and prepare to set out. They then approach Harold and tell him they are ready to go. He sends a guide to take Critical Solutions to me cellar. He will lead the siege in the mean time. They move through the sewers until they find the outline of a stone door in the wall and thanks to Harold’s instructions they are able to find the handle.

On the other side they find a room with meat hanging, preparation tables, and stairs leading up at the far wall. In the room are ivory tusks, insect chitin, matted fur, scaly flesh, and more combine to form five hideous humanoid shapes. Kina Carnesîr is able to distinguish them as mongrel men, who often live in sewers to avoid notice. They can also mimic sounds. Kaen Brüzenslag rushes into the room and is quickly surrounded by four of the mongrels. They fail to hit him, and Drahcir Brüzenslag lit two on fire, killing one. Cram charges into the room and ends another of the men. When Veryl enters the room he puts an end to the smouldering remains on the second of Drahcir Brüzenslag’s targets. Kaen Brüzenslag slices through one of them and c,eaves into another. Veryl then walks around him and kicks the last mongrel man in the groin, ending his pathetic existence.

They then proceeded up the stairs, to find a room with overturned furniture and dead guards. Standing over the bodies are three creatures with tiny eyes and a mouth of jagged teeth along with twisted and deformed bodies. Kina Carnesîr is able to tell that they are ogre kin, but that is all. The party slay the ogre kin in short order. Kina Carnesîr and Veryl hear fighting outside the keep, as well as screaming upstairs. At the far end of the room there are two staircases leading upwards. At Veryl’s insistence they take the stairs to the left to climb upwards.

On this floor the party finds doors down the walls, many open with blood pooling from inside. There are guard corpses all over. In the centre there is a large muscular creature with a man’s body and the head of a wolf. Behind him is an immense black wolf, the size of a horse. Kina Carnesîr knows that the large man is a lycanthrope, an evil being with a susceptibility to silver. The wolf is a dire wolf. After defeating them, Veryl hears a scream for help upstairs. The party runs up the left-hand staircase again.

The screaming is coming from the first door on the side. Cram runs to the door and tries unsuccessfully to force it open. Kaen Brüzenslag detects evil on the other side of the door, and Kina Carnesîr detects a faint magical source. Drahcir Brüzenslag and Veryl approach the second door, hearing nothing from the other side. On his second attempt, Cram is able to force the door open revealing a woman in the corner screaming and pointing at the fire in fear. There is a bed as well. Cram enters the room and the woman runs up to hug him. Kaen Brüzenslag barges in and detects evil on the woman, exposing her nature. She says “So strong!” and clings to Cram, sapping him of strength. Her true form is then revealed as a green hag, who has the special quality of mimicry. Kina Carnesîr reduces the hags mind with idiocy, preventing her from casting advanced spells. Kaen Brüzenslag casts smite evil on her. During the fight the hag casts a spell to fill much of the room with smoke. Drahcir Brüzenslag uses wall of wind scroll to dispel some of the smoke. Kaen Brüzenslag lays hands, burning her with Angraad’s fury and dispatching the hideous form.

The party recognizes the diamond necklace on the witch as that which was worn by the imposter. Harold runs in with the soldiers and they celebrate the victory of our adventurers. They declare that tomorrow they will make it official that Critical Solutions are the new lords and lady of Durham Falls. The soldiers reveal that the guards in the keep were disguised evil creatures, which were exposed when the hag lost power.

Drahcir Brüzenslag and Cram recover the dire wolf pelt before the party rest the night while the Heralds repair what they can in the city. The next day Harold pronounces the lords and lady and says he is willing to act as steward in their absence. There is a great feast during which someone bursts in declaring a great menace is bearing down. The adventurers burst out the balcony and see a giant mechanical four-armed machine and an army bearing down on the city, approximately one day away. Harold looks at Critical Solutions and says “We are under siege. What are your orders?”

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The Borderlands

We join our adventurers consulting with Harold in the sewers beneath Durham Falls. Harold just received a report indicating that the true Lady Arti and Lord Joseph are alive and being held captive in Al-Qadim, the capital of the borderlands where the factory which will produce mechanized monsters is also located.

Critical Solutions press Harold for more information about Sarkoth, he explains that he only learned of Sarkoth after he arrived at Durham Falls. Apparently Sarkoth is an arch-mage who worships Goeguva, also known as “The Rough One”. He too is looking for the power of the shards of Jondaar and was last heard of heading to the borderlands.

Harold explains that the party needs to find a easy into the borderlands, find the factory, rescue Lady Arti and Lord Joseph, and shut down the factory for good. He describes two paths by which he believes they might gain admittance: either sneak in disguised as a lord or lady with servants seeking to trade, or sneak across the protected border overnight. In the end the party decides to go in disguise, with Drahcir Brüzenslag as a lord, Kaen Brüzenslag as his body guard, and the rest of the party as slaves. To assist, Harold updates the party’s map, provides them with costumes, a carriage with horses, and 1,000 gold to assist with bribes and other supplies. After explaining the rules for slaves, the Heralds of Jondaar wish our companions a fond farewell as they set out to rescue the lord and lady.

The first three days and nights pass without incident as Critical Solutions pass from grasslands into the desert. During the fourth day they arrive at the border. The guards who approach the carriage are barbarically clothed. Kaen Brüzenslag attempts to bluff their way through announcing the passage of “Lord” Drahcir Brüzenslag. Unfortunately the guards are unimpressed and look to cause trouble. Fortunately Drahcir Brüzenslag is able to bribe the guards for 50 GP.

On their way to the capital, the following night, Cram sees torches approaching during his watch. He wakes up Kaen Brüzenslag who wakes up Drahcir Brüzenslag in turn. The torches turn out to be a group of guards. They recommended that he not let his “slaves” walk about freely at night. Drahcir Brüzenslag gives the guards a token 10GP to send them on their way. They encounter no more guards on their way to the capital.

When they arrive at the gate to the capital, Critical Solutions find a city filled with sand colored stone and towers topped by minarets. There is a long line of other nobles waiting to get into the city under a portcullis. In the half-hour waiting to get to the front of the line, our adventurers notice the other parties giving the guards small bags of gold in exchange for quick cursory inspections of their caravans. When they get to the gate, Drahcir Brüzenslag explains to the guards that he has misplaced his papers and he is willing to pay a generous replacement fee. He gives the guards 200GP and they pass the party through the gate.

The party looks about the city and takes a room at the Red Thorn Inn for the somewhat reasonable rate of 100GP a night. In the room they find one king-sized bed and four stone slabs. The adventurers waste no time in probing the city for information.

By listening in to various conversations and making friends with groups of slaves, Critical Solutions hear that there is a large amount of smoke coming from the North, someone is buying up large quantities of scrap metal, labourers are having trouble finding work despite production ramping up, and machines will soon be taking over all the jobs since people are outdated. The members pretending to be slaves return to the hotel when curfew begins, while Drahcir Brüzenslag and Kaen Brüzenslag seek more information. They discover that the factory they seek is on the North-West side of the city. The party the rendezvous at the inn and rest for the night.

The following day they explore further and discover that parts of the city are being blocked off for construction of some sort of underground tunnel. One commoner tells the party that there is a warehouse hiding a tunnel entrance to the factory. He agrees to show them for 40GP, and for 70GP he won’t tell anyone else. Critical Solutions agree to pay him the later fee and proceed towards their goal.

At the warehouse, Veryl attempts to find a secondary entrance to no avail, so our intrepid adventurers burst through the front door. They find an open warehouse with large archways and catwalks overhead. The floor has deep rivulets of liquid hot magma flowing towards the southern wall. Along the southern wall there are three large shafts, each with a large cart. Filling the room are a number of goblins and hobgoblins. They appear to be led by a fiery-skinned muscular man with flaming hair and spotted horns. As our adventurers engage their enemies, one of the goblins triggers an alarm. The front doors slammed short a short time later. Drahcir Brüzenslag, who was near the doors at the time, hears the noise of pursues at the other side. As soon as the fight has ended, Critical Solutions are forced to attempt to use one of the carts to proceed deeper towards the factory. Drahcir Brüzenslag is able to hotwire one of the carts and, as it slides forward, he grabs a map to the rail system to help guide them on their way.

From the map, Drahcir Brüzenslag is able to determine that Critical Solutions want to head to the forge via the assembly line. He quickly realizes that the cart is gaining speed and there are no breaks, so it will take all his concentration to maintain control. The cart rails lead the part along with strange machinery hanging overhead and magma flowing below. As they speed along, carts of hobgoblins pull up along side attacking as they go. Fortunately the party is able to hold them off while Drahcir Brüzenslag guides the cart to the assembly line.

At the end, the cart slides upward to fix in place in the floor. The assembly line has a rolling belt manned by humanoid robots. In the centre of the room there stands a squat, brass-skinned humanoid. Its head and shoulders are a blaze with a mane of fire, while heat ripples in the air nearby. Next to it stands a thin, lanky wolf with reddish-brown fur, white claws, and burning, fiery red eyes. Our adventurers spring into action and quickly dispatch both the fiends and the mechanized workers. To one side of the room, they find a closet with nothing of interest.

The other side leads to a sorting room of some sort, which passes into the forge. There they find more mechanical workers with a moving platform in the ground. As they pass through, destroying the mechanical workers, the whole factory begins to shake. They mount the platform, when a knocking rings out at the door. They ignore the knocking and push forward, riding the platform through the factory.

At the other end, the platform rises up into a stone platform surrounded by magma. 50 feet above a walkway extends above the room. On the walkway stands a figure in a red robe with pointy ears, gold eyes, scales as skin from the chest down, and a tattoo on his right cheek. Critical Solutions is seeing Sarkoth, the arch mage who has been causing all the trouble. Cram is able to see that the tattoo is the head of a dragon and Kaen Brüzenslag detects the evil aura emanating from Sarkoth.

Sarkoth explains to the party that Lady Arti and Lord Joseph are dead. He killed them after Lord Joseph gave him the information he sought. Sarkoth has big plans for Durham Falls, and he reveals that the doppelgänger of Lady Arti will be revealed for her true self soon now that the original has died. At that point he reveals that he has one of the shards. It glows red in his hands as he explains that he used it to power the whole factory. Now that the master work of this factory is complete, Sarkoth will let the factory collapse upon itself.

At that moment a man in full-plate armor enters on the walkway and tells Sarkoth that “the device” is ready. Cram and Kina Carnesîr recognize the man as their father and call out in frustration and anger. Arturo Griffen gives little notice of them as he jest urges to Sarkoth. Sarkoth then pronounces that he will recover the shard Critical Solutions has from heir corpses. With that, he and Arturo leave out one end of the walkway and a large creature rises out of the magma. The beast looks like a living, mobile bonfire, tongues of flame reaching out in search of burning our adventurers. The combat is tense as our heroes tackle the beast. It seems barely phased by their attacks. Kina Carnesîr enlarges Veryl, but the creature is relentless. As Cram, Kaen Brüzenslag, and Veryl begin to apply pressure to their foe, it circumvents them and attacks Drahcir Brüzenslag and Kina Carnesîr. Kina Carnesîr is knocked unconscious and just in the nick of time Drahcir Brüzenslag is able to fire magic missiles into its fiery maw. The fire elemental becomes extinguished and the factory begins to shake violently.

Knowing they have little time before they are engulfed in wreckage, the party climb to the walkway and chase after Sarkoth. What they find is a room with a console which was recently activated. Across the room are two large mechanical arms. When they activate the console, the space between the arms shimmers to life and opens a portal to a distant location. The location on the other side if full of fire. After a moment it shimmers and a new location is revealed. It flickers again to reveal a clearing about half a day from Durham Falls. Critical Solutions jump through the portal, and when they turn around they find that it has disappeared. They hurry towards Durham Falls in hopes of foiling Sarkoth ’s plans.

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Into the Sewers – Part 3
Deeper still

We find our party in the sewers with Harold. He reassures Critical Solutions that they are amongst friends and explains that he is the last of the people of Halenshire who knew about the Temple of Aziz . He said that after we left him in Oakcrest he found his way to Durham Falls and was hired to run the armory. In doing so he became friends with the captain of the guard. The captain explained to Harold that something was wrong with Lady Arti and Lord Joseph. He was able to determine that Lady Arti is a sorceress sent by Sarkoth to take over Durham Falls and that she had replaced Lord Joseph with a husk. She used magic to lure monsters into the city and had unethical guards set fire to the city and cause riots to blame the Heralds. The captain, who was then leading the Heralds of Jondaar, went to see if he could peaceably reconcile with Lady Arti. Unfortunately he never returned, and Harold took up the mantel of leadership.

Harold had prayed to Torag for help, and now he proclaims that Torag sent Critical Solutions to assist. The party ask Harold a few follow-up questions to determine that Lady Arti was not always evil and that there are about 100 Heralds of Jondaar. He had just recently learned that Lady Arti is planning to use mechanical inventions made by a mechanist named Ziggs to destroy part of the city and pin it on the Heralds.

Just then, Ziggs enters the room. The small gnome introduces himself as an inventor. He was commissioned to build an automated army, but when he learned of Lady Arti’s intentions he refused to assist any further. He had a device to deactivate all the mechanical monsters, but he was unable to use it before Lady Arti’s men chased him from his lab. Now, Ziggs needs our adventurers’ assistance to recover the device and save the city. He will accompany the party, as he is the only one who can either open the door to his lab or operate the device.

Before leaving, Kaen Brüzenslag asks his compatriots to use non-lethal means when dealing with the town guard. Since many of these men are honest and believe they are merely defending their Lady from rebels, he cannot in good conscience kill them.

Harold then explains that Lady Arti, in addition to unleashing this mechanical army on the city, has drafter an official statement which will sever Durham Falls ’ ties with Oakcrest and ally the city with the borderlands. He also warns the adventurers that once Ziggs opens the door to his lab, Lady Arti will be aware that it has been opened and likely send guards to try and stop Ziggs. He then hands Kina Carnesîr a wand of cure moderate wounds to assist and Critical Solutions head out to secure the lab.

As they leave, the party notices that, since he’s not wearing any armor, Drahcir Brüzenslag has a sizeable tattoo on his lower back of the sigil of Desna .

Critical Solutions return to the sealed door they found earlier. Ziggs approaches it and manipulates a few hidden switches and knobs, after which the door opens. Inside the laboratory they find piles of junk everywhere with strange mechanical things hanging from the ceiling. There are also many small sewer pipes protruding from the walls. Ziggs crosses the room to what appears to be a desk, though it is unclear from the mess covering it. There he rummages through his things to find the device, with the assistance of Cram and Drahcir Brüzenslag. Kaen Brüzenslag remains next to the door as a guard. It doesn’t take long for Ziggs to find a translucent globe which he begins to manipulate.

As he does, Kaen Brüzenslag notices a clicking noise from above which then begins to fill the room. Before they know it, Critical Solutions is set upon all sides by mechanical spider-like creatures with a single eye on their heads. The party springs into action and begins to slay the mechanical beasts. Though they are fragile, it appears that they are equipped with an explosive trap after being crushed. With their heroic skills, the group is able to keep Ziggs safe until he shuts them down.

With the mechanical clicking dying down, our adventurers breathe a sigh of relief, only to be surprised when two swollen cephalopods with ten writhing tentacles and hideously monstrous faces with pale, milky eyes enter through the door. Kina Carnesîr quickly tries to hex one decapus and discovers that it is nothing more than an illusion. The party focuses their attacks on the true enemy and overcome its ten-armed attacks. Afterwards, Kaen Brüzenslag carefully cuts out the decapus’ ink sack to use in his chronicling of the adventure.

Critical Solutions then return to Harold to notify him of their success. Harold thanks them, but explains that a he has just learned that Lady Arti has begun an operation to build the same mechanical army in the borderlands. With this news weighing heavy on their hearts, our adventurers rest and equip themselves for the fight to follow.

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The Sewers – Part 2

We rejoin our party with their hands on a giant lever, with three mangy canines with flat noses, beady eyes, and protruding teeth. Drahcir Brüzenslag pulls the switch before Critical Solutions engage the dog creatures. A loud grinding noise echoes, as if some great machine is moving elsewhere in the sewers. The room doesn’t change as the group is able to overcome the mongrels and the grinding comes to a stop.

The party then return to the door that had been left closed. On the other side they find a large oval room with a small grate in the center, and a large rectangular room at the far end. They see two hunchbacked, green-skinned humanoids with wide, frog-like heads but mouths more akin to that of toothy fish. Kina Carnesîr is able to determine that these creatures are called skum. After dispatching these creatures the party discover that the rectangular room leads back to the main passage, where one more side passage remained unexplored.

This final side passage split in two. Venturing down one side, Cram finds a door. While Veryl approaches to test the door, Drahcir Brüzenslag proceeds down the other side. Unfortunately, Drahcir Brüzenslag is caught by surprise by a scythe trap, inflicting serious damage. Fearing for his friend, Cram leaves the rest of the party with Veryl and follows Drahcir Brüzenslag to find another door. Upon opening the first door, Veryl discovers four reptilian humanoids with green scales, short, toothy snouts, and thick alligator-like tails, brandishing morning stars. Scrap metal fragments are strewn about the room. Cram and Drahcir Brüzenslag enter the room from the door in their passageway. One of the beasts rushes into the hall to attack Kaen Brüzenslag. Kina Carnesîr uses her ear-piercing scream to disorientate the humanoid allowing Kaen Brüzenslag an opportunity to deal a brutal final blow. Blessed with bull strength from Drahcir Brüzenslag on behalf of Desna , Cram rends one of the humanoids in two. Veryl leaps into action and strikes another on the jaw, shattering the bone and killing it. The last reptilian, flanked by Cram and Kaen Brüzenslag doesn’t stand a chance as Cram smites it. The creatures dead, our heroes search the room. They find nothing of interest beyond the abundance of scrap metal.

Outside this room they discover a large steal door. Finding it locked, Cram does his best to try and break it down to no avail. Returning to the main passage, Critical Solutions follow it to its end at a set of double doors. Veryl is able to hear rushing water on the other side, but no magic or evil is detected. Our adventurers bravely open the doors to find a massive sewer pipe, surrounded on three sides by smaller pipes that open into the room. As the party moves into the room an elephantine centipede comes out of the centre pipe. After a tense battle, fraught with danger, our heroes are able to overcome the beast and put an end to it.

As they celebrate their victory, noises are heard in the smaller pipes. Out of the pipes appear people armed with bows. They all have a familiar symbol on their arms, but the party is unable to puzzle out who they might be. It doesn’t take long for the party to become encircled, at which point they have no choice but to lay down their arms as instructed and be led, blindfolded, by their captors. After about ten minutes of walking, Critical Solutions are ushered through two doors and restored to the gift of sight. They find themselves in a small, dark room with a table in the middle. To the other side is a man, more heavily armored than the others they have seen so far. He exclaims “I never thought I would see such familiar faces!” and removes his helmet, revealing himself to be Harold, the Blacksmith of Halenshire.

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Into the Sewers

We join our adventurers surrounded by members of the Heralds of Jondaar. It doesn’t take long for the drows to be defeated and Critical Solutions to enter the dingy sewers.

After checking the opening for traps, our adventurers enter what appears to be a twisting hallway. Torches line the walls while the tunnel narrows, allowing the adventurers to pass only one at a time. As Veryl and Drahcir Brüzenslag move forward, the floor falls out from beneath their feet. Fortunately they were able to jump out of the way. As the party continues they discover off-shoots from the central passage. Drahcir Brüzenslag detects small magical auras beyond the first opening. Cram decided to investigate the second opening, and set off a trap, entangling him and Drahcir Brüzenslag in a burst of lightening. After putting out lightly-singed armour, the party decided to investigate the first opening.

Around the bend they find a door. Still detecting small magical auras beyond, Veryl proceeded. What he found was a room with multiple pipes opening out of the wall. No more than a foot wide, some pipes let out a trickle of liquid, but nothing seemed out of sorts in the room except for a bright shimmer Veryl was able to detect coming from one pipe fifteen feet off the ground. He and Kaen Brüzenslag both climb towards it, with Kaen Brüzenslag arriving first. What he found was a bag of gold, with the top loosely open. Carefully, Kaen Brüzenslag used his morning star to knock the bag down to the ground. As the gold clattered to the floor a faint buzzing began to emit from the pipes. In a brief moment, the group were set upon by insectoid creatures with two pairs of bat wings, a tangle of thin legs, and a needle-sharp proboscis. After a tense battle the insects are defeated, though not before they drain a few party members of some blood. Finding nothing else worthy of note in this room, Critical Solutions moved to the next hallway.

This hall, like the previous, turned at right angles. At the end our adventurers discovered a large room with a hulking minotaur. The mighty beast fought tenaciously against our party, knocking Drahcir Brüzenslag prone and driving Cram into a rage. After the fight, his rage subsided, Cram collapsed until Drahcir Brüzenslag was able to revive him.

At this point our party decided that they required rest. Propping the minotaur’s corpse up at the entryway, they settled down for a full eight hours of rest. When they awakened, refreshed, they returned to the main passage to venture down another side corridor. Here they found a floor covered in grease as it passed in three directions. To the left, a door is found after a short distance. Veryl was able to hear the sound of animals sniffing on the other side.

Drahcir Brüzenslag ventured to the right, finding the grease fading the further he went. As he turned the corner at the end of this passage he found himself face to face with a disgusting beast looking like a slime-covered toad, but with two walrus-like tusks jutting from its upper jaw. Kina Carnesîr and Veryl find one down the central passage as well. Upon dispatching these beasts, Critical Solutions discovered that the two passages met in a large room with a sizeable lever on the wall. Kina Carnesîr doesn’t detect any malicious magic attached to the lever, so the party each placed a hand on the lever to pull it down. Just as they are pulling the lever down three dogs enter the room from one passage and surround the group.

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Act 3

We rejoin Critical Solutions in Oakcrest. Having safely returned from the Temple of Aziz, the party is escorted back to the keep where they first received their mission. Sergeant Nelfein greets the party heartily and asks to see the shard. Our adventurers were wary of handing it to him, and he is quick to explain that he doesn’t expect them to hand it over. Sergeant Nelfein charges Critical Solutions with finding the rest of the shards. Once they are all brought together, Jondaar will return and restore order. When asked what order would be restored, Sergeant Nelfein is unable to describe any details. He says that many have speculated as to what Jondaar’s return will bring. A restoration of the kingdoms of old? Elimination of war? Perhaps the end of the world? It is unknown.

Despite the forboding nature of their new quest, the adventurers eagerly ask about the location of the other shards. Sergeant Nelfein provides the party a place to rest the night and to have dinner. During the night, all our adventurers hear the ringing of an anvil in their dreams.

The next morning, Critical Solutions join the guards in their mess to break their fast. They are then brought to Sergeant Nelfein to learn of their next mission. The Sergeant asks our intrepid adventurers to go to Durham Falls to aid Lady Arti, the reigning noble, to quell an uprising. It seems the Lord Joseph has been killed, and a great unrest has followed. While Lady Arti has secured control, her grip on power is tenuous at best. Before he died, Lord Joseph had information regarding another shard of Jondaar. Hopefully Critical Solutions will find a way to continue their journey from there.

The party joins a caravan to proceed to Durham Falls. The caravan is average and non-descript. In exchange for horses and transportation, the adventurers are expected to guard the caravan on its way.

The first three days and two nights are uneventful, but on the third night the caravan is attacked. The party is alerted when Cram is struck in the chest by an arrow. A volley of arrows land about the wagons and Critical Solutions spring into action. It appears that their enemies are four hooded, crow-headed humanoids. It doesn’t take long for the party to defeat them all. A peace then settles over the caravan for the rest of their journey.

Durham Falls is set against large mountains from which a waterfall decends through the city. Our companions arrive at sunset to find the town in a somber mood. The guards at the front gate verify the papers provided by Oakcrest and escort them to Lady Arti’s keep. As they pass through the city, the party notices houses and shops which have been boarded up, as well as burn marks on many buildings. These and other signs show that the city has suffored riots in the previous days. A number of beggars approach and ask the party for coin. The keep shows no signs of riots or unrest.

Critical Solutions are provided with rooms in the keep for an hour to rest before they meet the Lady. They are then brought to dinner in a room in perfect order. Lady Arti is a half-hour late and enters with her hand-maiden. The Lady is an elf of about 40.

She explains that a group of bandits have formed over the last few months, becoming more organizaed and eventually capturing Lord Joseph. His body was later discovered in the slums. The bandits call themselves the Herlads of Jondaar. The former captain of the guard is their leader and they have been trying to disturb the city in order to sieze control. Since the troubles began, beasts have become more and more bold, entering town and causing greater troubles. Lady Arti asks Critical Solutions to explore the city, find the bandit leader, and either kill or arrest him so as to restore order.

Drahcir Brüzenslag senses that while some of the tale is true, Lady Arti is holding something back. The party presses her for more information to complete the story. Lady Arti confesses that she fears the bandits are after Joseph’s knowledge about the shard. Kina Carnesîr requests that the party searches Lord Joseph’s study to find any clues about the shard or his disappearance. The party is permitted to do so the next morning. During the night the party asks the guards about the poverty in the city. They balme the acts of the bandits for the failure of businesses.

The next morning, Critical Solutions went through Lord Joseph’s study. They found little except for a few papers mentioning the bandits. They then set out into the town, searching for any word about where the bandits might be found. Some rumours pointed to the borderlands, others the forest just outside the city limits, and others the sewers beneath Durham Falls. More stories pointed to the swewers than any other, suggesting that the bandits were getting in and out via the southern entrance. So the party ventured to the southern entrance, where a stranger bumped into Kaen Brüzenslag. As the two exchanged unpleasantries, friends of the stranger emerged from the shadows to begin a fight. As they drew their weapons it became clear that the strangers were drow elves. The one who bumped into Kaen Brüzenslag is finer dressed than the others, suggesting he is their leader. As things are about to boil over the drow profess that they are Herlads of Jondaar.

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The Temple of Aziz – Part 3

(Note: This passage contains none of the translations. All the temple writings can be found here.)

We rejoin our party in the hallway outside the room that contained the jelly monster. They entered one of the remaining closed doors and discovered an empty room with hieroglyphics on the walls. Around the corner there is another room. Cram’s curiosity overtook him and he ran around the corner to discover an owlbear. After a valiant battle the party discover more of the story on the wall, after which they approach the final door in the hallway.

Upon opening the double doors at the end of the hall, Critical Solutions discover two grey creatures with small eyes along with a giant. The battle was terse and bloody, but the party were ultimately victorious. While they tended their wounds, our adventurers deciphered the writing on the walls and discovered a key on the floor.

Critical Solutions returned to the room from which the gelatinous cube came and barricaded themselves to rest. When they awoke refreshed they ventured back in the temple to the locked double doors. The key fit perfectly and our adventurers found themselves deciphering more writing as they walked down a set of stairs. At the end they found a large hall with large tiles covered in strange symbols. On the far side of the room a glowing orb sat on a dias. Kina Carnesîr was able to decipher one of the symbols on the floor and walls as the number one. Using that as a foundation, Veryl was able to make his way across the room with a rope tied about his waist in case of any missteps. With the path safely discovered, the rest of our adventurers made their way across.

Once across, Kaen Brüzenslag attempts to grab the glowing orb, only to be cut off by a spectre that floats out of the wall. The spectre was dressed in the armour of an Oakcrest guard. He claimed to be there to guard the shard of Jondaar’s mind and demands to know why Critical Solutions want it. The party explained that they sought to keep the chard from the wrong hands. The spectre demanded to hear the true story of Jondaar that had been inscribed on the walls of the temple before he would release the orb. The members discussed the mismatched parts of the story and eventually determined the true tale. They told the ghost and he granted them the orb with a final warning: that upon bringing all the shards of Jondaar together, the party will have a choice to make that will change the world.

As Kaen Brüzenslag grabbed the orb the broken floor of symbols reconstructed and a bright light filled the room. When the light dissipated the entire temple began to shake. Critical Solutions began to run as fast as they could. They ran up the stairs and down the halls. Just in time, the party emerged from the mouth of the temple to watch it sink into the sand and disappear.

The first shard in hand, Critical Solutions returned to Oakcrest to begin the next part of their adventure.

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The Temple of Aziz – Part 2

After a night’s rest, our adventurers awaken refreshed. They gather their things and return to the unopened door of the dungeon. Upon opening the door they find a room without torches or light. Like the other rooms, there are more hieroglyphics on the walls. There is also another section of writing on the wall in a form of abyssal. The writing was a strange riddle:

I’m as small as an ant, as big as a whale.
I’ll approach like a breeeze, but can come like a gale.
By some I get hit, but all have shown fear.
I’ll dance to the music, though I can’t hear.
Of names I have many, of names I have one.
I’m as slow as a snail, but from me you can’t run.
What am I?

After reading it a mysterious shadow being appears. Critical Solutions fought bravely and defeated the being, after which a portion of the wall opened up revealing treasure.

Opposite the door there was a staircase. Once they descended the stairs, the party found four reptilian creatures with a large pony-sized ant held by a leash. Letting go of the leash, the reptilians set their ant to attack. Critical Solutions make quick work of their enemies. This room, like the others, contained hieroglyphics and the only two exits from the room were a set of double doors and a single door. The double doors were locked and wouldn’t give no matter how hard the party beat against them. Leaving to search for a key or other entrance, the party tried the other door.

There they found a hallway with two doors and a side hall. At the first door, Veryl listened and heard the sound of jelly wobbling. When they opened the door, the party discovered a gelatinous cube with bits of bone inside. As they attacked it the cube moved through the wall to engulf Cram, Veryl having just jumped out of the way. Fortunately the adventurers were able to defeat the cube before Cram succumbed.

Afterwards they went through the second door, discovering another hieroglyphic-filled room. As they inspected the walls, an insectile monster burst through the door. After Cram swung his sword, the monster lashed out with its antennae. When they touched Cram’s sword it began to rust. Fortunately, after defeating the monster, Drahcir Brüzenslag was able to repair the sword. At the far wall there was another door, leading to a hall curving to the right.

The passages deciphered this session read as follows:
The mortal accepts his duty as shepherd of the dead, his future still shrouded from Pharasma, the goddess of birth, prophecy, and the dead. It was clear to Pharasma that the mortal’s future would be determined by a fork in the road.

The day came for the true test of the mortal man, when he had to escorte his wife to the land of the dead. While he didn’t want to perform the task, he knew he must to attain godhood.

The mortal’s wife begged him to help her. He did his best to ignore her and set her in the land of the dead. Then the mortal turned to return to Pharasma for his reward.

Casting away his oath, the mortal grabbed his wife to leave. He would defy the petty gods and find power on his own terms, not those of the gods.

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