The Lost Lands

Wanted in Bard's Gate
Justice belongs to those with the largest purse...
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The Fall of Heroes
The defeat of chaos requires great sacrifice

- The musings of Kaelmourn. Excerpt from his unpublished travel logs.

The Past
Loss…regret…a strange mixture of feelings has engulfed me. I remember when I first bought him. He was but a young runt in the slave market of Nightstorm. He was sickly, starved, on the edge of death’s realm. It was a fleeting whim which caused me to purchase him from the slave monger.
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I myself was cut and bruised that day, my sisters had once again banded together to “teach me a lesson” in respect. Although I strived to respect the laws of my city and house, it seemed that others simply sought to find ever inventive methods to circumvent the laws and every time I would point this out or call others to task I was ridiculed or the subject of harsh vengeance.
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It was after a particularly nasty session with my sisters, this time even my twin sister Qilmourn joined in, although I could not admit it to myself then, now I know that her actions cut me far deeper than any other when she delivered the final kick that sent me to unconsciousness. That was the day I bought Orgoth, a toddler hobgoblin runt, for a single silver piece. My sisters laughed at me, but I nursed him back to health, I taught him, I procured the best fighting trainers for him. He served me at the Magus Maestrum while I finished my arcane studies. For the last thirty years he has been by my side, and now stony silence…

The Present
The Spire continued to pose enigmas unending. Strangely shaped rooms, devices with no known purpose, machines that dispense curiosities and bona fide magic items. Also, strangely devices that seem magical by observation detect as non-magical in nature. All surrounded by the ever present lightning of death that prevents full observation of the Spire and hinders exploration.

Many rooms are empty after we defeat the last of the altered primitive humans that have blades for hands and a paralyzing touch. Looking for rest we find little when a phase spider offers a final challenge at the end of the second of the four eggs, but is seen off with the combined magical and martial might of the Dark Hands.

Hobbs fails to live up to his epithet
Within the second egg of the Spire in a room of strange providence at the rim of the egg shell lies a strange and deadly story. After suffering the power of the lightning air the Dark Hands arrive in a long chamber with a tranquil pool at one end. Within the chamber are three orange skinned blue haired peaceful souls that seem to be worshiping the pool. Through gesture and magical comprehension Kaelmourn is able to communicate with the beings.

Amazingly they seem to be able to treat the shell of the Spire as a mist and portal to some other realm of existence. Before I could fully inquire as to the origin of the pool worshiping beings, Hobbs ran and leaped into the pool. As best as I can discern a guardian or great power dwelled there and its four tentacles reached out ripping Hobbs into pieces as the pool turned red with his blood. The orange humanoids ran into their mists yelling about the guardian’s anger while the rest of the Dark Hands took a moment to be surprised by shock and then beat a hasty retreat back over the wall into the lightning storm.
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I felt especially pained by this loss, so much potential, so stalwart a servant of Horus that had courageously defended Orgoth as he fell to the spasms of paralysis higher in the Spire, such a waste of ability, such a waste of life. So ended the Tale of Hobbs the Living.
The third and fourth eggs offer a combination of teleportation circles, empty rooms, confused Tengu and an aberrant tentacle horse headed humanoid of frightening power.

Battle with unspeakable power
We breathed heavily. We had explored all we could. We knew the final chambers were accessible only by going over the wall, into the lightning storm. With a cry of unity we charged over the top, some few of us under the protection of Obsidian’s lighting protection. Suddenly a room was below us, a large chamber, we had arrived at the back, in an area curtained off from the rest of the room.

Magpie and Orgoth almost ran into the beast. It stood double the height of a drow, humanoid in form, but with a horse’s head and tentacles extending from its side. Kodrin and I moved away, I launching a magical assault on the beast, Kodrin maneuvering for better position. Orgoth, Magpie attacking furiously in melee. The beast soon grapples and batters the heroes, I cast a sepll to magically accelerate my allies, doubling the attacks of The Dark Hands. Shockingly Magpie is turned to stone by a sudden unleashing of powerful magic, Ifurua resists being turned into a bunny.
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Magpie gets grappled…

Orgoth loses Kaboom when the beast grapples him within its tentacles. Grabbing his short sword he stabs the best repeatdedly. Then in an instant Orgoth is turned to stone, with lightning quickness I cast feather fall on him ensuring a soft fall for his now stony form.
Teetering on the edge with two of our members down we renew our attacks and the beast falls upon our renewed onslaught.
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Magpie and Orgoth meet a stony end…

Dawn
I breath slowly, I walk to the stony form of my Hobgoblin slave, Orgoth. I remember the slave market of Nightstorm, I remember as he cleaned my rooms and fetched me food as the young hob I called “Ori”. I remember securing swordmaster Karn to train him, I remember as he took his beatings on the practice field and always gritting through the pain to rise again, never being cowed by the drow who would use him as a practice dummy. I remember the other slaves calling him “relentless.”
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A teenage Orgoth the Relentless

I remember as we journeyed from Nightstorm to the Over Realm, day after day of danger for months on end as we followed the maps of the explorer Drast Holan, navigating past caverns and tunnels altered by time and the dangers and denizens of the Under Realm. Always guarding each other, each other’s only companions on the most dangerous journey of our lives. No ordinary hobgoblin, his mind had picked up pieces of knowledge regarding my arcane studies and we would often discuss esoteric matters of the mind as we traveled.

My slave, my servant, my ally, my companion, my friend…
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Within the Cyrstal Egg
Alien surroundings...
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Journey to the Spire of Iron and Crystal
Traveling out of Bard's Gate

Leaving Bard’s Gate we head north. The multitude of lesser races that infest the Over Realm continue to huddle around flame fires as we pass their encampments in the night.
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Hobbs engages with a human of low intellect at a bridge crossing, the fool seems to be a member of the Free Defenders out of Bard’s Gate. He has little to offer and even has not heard of our band.

Further north along the road we find where Gnolls have captured a human town, its inhabitants long fled. The thought of the Codex driving me on, as my research telling me the Spire could indeed be the final resting place of the Codex.

A brief stop at the long defiled temples of Thyr and Muir occupies my curiosity for a brief examination and journal entry. Here in the Stoneheart Valley it seems that some recent passerby had attempted to cleanse the temples, but I suspect a consecrate spell is needed to start the process. We soon press on, the call of the Codex whirling in my mind.
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Beset by a duo of Ettins we find ourselves under attack. With swift action Orgoth and Hobbs take the forefront while Ifuria and I take cover and launch a magical and alchemical barrage. Curiously Orgoth strikes up a conversation mid battle with the ettins and barters his horse to the giants for them to leave us in peace. It seems Orgoth’s intellectual skills are making improvement with my own guidance. Soon we find ourselves approaching the Spire.

Behold! The Spire of Iron and Crystal. We have arrived. A strange place of four giant crystal eggs held at awkward angles by an iron framework. No entry is immediately available, but there is something oddly strange about this place, something that perhaps cannot be explained by sorcery.
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We take the winding path leading up the back of the cliff face, anticipating the appearance of the magical bridge that will lead to the Spire. For three days only will the magical bridge appear. Soon… the day has come. A bridge of magical invisible force is a nerve wracking experience for the other Dark Hands, my Drow mind taking such fearful heights in stride. The bride narrows, becomes tube like, and begins a steeper entry into the topmost giant crystal egg. Sensing danger I quickly summon the power of my noble blood and levitate all of my companions. Suddenly the steep tube becomes untenable and all would have fallen but with the aid of my magic and we are thus able to slowly descend at a reasonable pace.

Below us we see a maze like structure at the bottom of the egg. Lighting swirling in the space between the egg top and the height of the maze walls. Lightning zooming along the top of the maze walls. We arrive at the end of the invisible tube, finding ourselves deposited in a open roofed room of the maze…

- Excerpt from the Journal of Kaelmourn of House Imrak on one of his many expeditions to find the Codex of Order

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The Rats Below...
Someone forgot to bring the silver!

In the depths of the earth below the Temple of Bast the heroes battle dire rats….
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and Ratfolk….
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The heroes deduce that a dark conspiracy has been afoot for a long time. A cunning plan by the rat followers of the god S’surimus. The priests of this rat god have seemingly schemed for years to burrow up from the depths of the earth below Bard’s Gate and into the holy Temple of Bast.

Early on in exploring the rat caves the heroes rescue Kha Sai, a holy priestess of Bast. Her coffee complexion and accent marking her as a native of Khe’ Met. Unable to see in the darkness below she was forced to grip Kaelmourn’s shoulder and follow his lead deeper into the unholy ground of S’surimiss to rescue more of the priests.

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Orgoth the Relentless At one point found three small Ratfolk who were captured. Promptly setting them free, they returned in a treacherous fashion when the heroes were battling other Ratfolk, and only Kaelmourn’s rear guarad watch stopped them from slaughtering the party from behind.

The band of heroes was forced to cut through multiple groups of ratfolk and wererats as they decended deeper.
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Blood in guts spilled in abundance. The rats protected by their innate defenses against all but silver weapons.
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Coulie and Hobbs face the rat hoard.

The Dark Hands finally make it to where the prisoners are being kept, and the remaining rats have barricaded themselves in the altar room of this under realm nest of S’Sarimiss. Kaelmourn is suspicious that some of the “prisoners” may in fact be other wererats so is reluctant to free them. While debating this question in his mind Hobbs the Living decides to upend the giant cauldron in the center of the room inleashing a swarm of Mind Rats that almost kill him, fortunately Hobbs’ mental defenses hold, much to Kaelmourn’s surprise. The aggressive mentalist rats are only defeated by Kaelmourn and Ifuria’s magical fire.

Then the door to S’surimiss’ inner sanctum is opened…
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Magical webs fly, Orgoth the Relentless and Coulie hold the doorway and slowly forge ahead. Hobbs the Living falls attempting to rescue the priestess who is on the precipice of sacrifice. After much battling the priestess and Hobbs the Living are saved while the heroes withdraw back in the prisoner’s abode drawing heavy breaths and licking their wounds.

Still the high priest of S’surimiss remains with a half dozen wererats and the stolen Eyes of Bast…

Edmundo, Sergent of the Lyregurad, and his troop arrive having followed the trail of The Dark Hands deep below the Temple of Baast. With renewed support the doors to the inner sanctum of the temple are thrown open and the rats are slaughtered to a tail.

The Eyes of Baast were rescued and the rats looted. Among the treasure a Lesser Mace of Smiting was found.

Purann retuned a few days later and in a solemn ceremony the Eyes of Baast were placed back in the temple and the heroes were granted the Boon of Baast and granted the right of Healing for Life at the Temple of Baast.

Boon of Baast
+2 divine bonus to charisma interactions with Feline/Diplomacy free action to change great cats attitude to free action.

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The Dark Hands arise
Including the Juliello Broad-Coe catastrophe

Fame and fortune from the liberation of the abducted slaves make The Dark Hands well known in the taverns and halls of Bard’s Gate.

This fame brings two immediate offers, 1) The capture of a map from Juliello Broad-Coe, 2) protecting the Temple of Bast in the absence of its high priest. One offer was clearly an honorable one that would bind us in a favorable future alliance, the other was a questionable undertaking that may lead to infamy.

With little hesitation Magpie and Ifuria accept the Fortune’s Fool heist against the better judgement of Kaelmourn and Hobbs the Living.

Much hilarity ensued. Resulting in the following.

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Meanwhile…

Purrann seeing Kaelmourn around the temple district conducting his research decides to ask him and the Dark Hands guard the Temple of Bast while he is goe out of the city for a short while.
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Arriving again at Bard's Gate

The stirge menace has abated as they and the mad wizard have fled their cave domain when the heroes retuned to confront them.

Upon spending some time in Bard’s Gate the heroes learn that their are a number of abductions of women and children near the city’s canals. Abductions in the night. Kaelmourn suspects the hand of Orcas and a plan is developed to dress Obsidian Shard as a normal lady and Ifuria as a child.

They catch a glimpse of a gondala clown and his strnge looking companions but can’t outrun their watery departure. The next night Ifuria and Obsidian Shard are found by patrolling paladins of Muir and taken into custody.

Ifuria and Obsidian Shard are taken to see Janet the prudish Paladin of Muir, also known as the Lady Protector. The paladins turn out to be the Sisters of the Maiden’s Cross. Paladin’s of Muir. The paladin’s are from Lowport region. They have traveled to rout out slaver’s who are bringing persons from Bard’s Gate to Lowpoet.

Janet wants the The Dark Hands to infiltrate Slaver’s Way in the Black Market. A part of town in Bard’s Gate with a bad reputation, not a welcoming area for paladins of Muir.

A bit of flash and fast action. The heroes buy the slaves, but at the hand over a third party brings a squad of soldiers to take the slaves. After the heroes victory their deeds spread through Bard’s Gate and there is much rejoicing!

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On board the Summertime

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The heroes arrive at Eastgate. Here they rest and recouperate for about a week. Kaelmourn and Obsidian visit the Temple of Freya where Rainbow and Kaelmourn are healed of their lepracy. Kaelmourn seeks guidance from a local sage on the Codex of Order and finds out that there are three Orcas strongholds in the area: Rappan Athuk, Tsaar, and the burial grounds of Thyr and Muir.

Slith arranges passage on the Summertime, a keelboat that is traveling up the Amrin river to Bard’s Gate. Whiile the heroes see off a number of minor threats, one night there are best by an ogre magi who’s greatsword fells many of the heroes and who uses cone of cold to kill Hassan, Rainbow, and Slith. We great effort the Dark Hands are able to finally defeat the ogre magi through the use of alchemy, violence, and faire fire.
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The Journey Continues
Some cloud giants are evil

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Traveling along at a slow but steady pace, the Dark Hands are slowed greatly by the wagon and its holy load. Upon the road the heroes encounter many farmers, traders, and patrols. However, a young red dragon feasted upon one of the group’s horses, a pair of rocs ate two more, and a cloud giant ambushed the party and almost killed Kaelmourn and Slith, but luckily the giant grew tired of his sport and stalked away laughing.

The Dark Hands did defeat a Gnoll warband and a flock of deadly giant vultures. Also, they beat back and killed three hungry bears. Ifuria’s firebombs were especially useful against the troll that burned at the hands of the Dark Hands.

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Setting out for Fair Hill

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– The Dark Hands join the Duke of Tilar Brindel’s traveling convoy along their journey to Fair Haven. -

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Attacked by fire drakes’s Wind Dancer dies in flames defending the Duke’s convoy.

The heroes meet many merchants and patrols along the road to Fair Haven. Even meeting patrols from as far away as Bard’s Gate.

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In a frightful encounter a wyvern decended upon the heroes. Only through Kaelmourn’s magical blinding of the beast, Orgoth’s arrows, Hasan’s chop, and deadly assaults of the other heroes was this mighty beast felled before he mauled Hasan to death.

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