Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Sunless Garden – Part 1

The party reunited at the town of Blessings Be with the conspicuous absence of a certain bard.  Fischer stayed behind in Hadler’s Gap to work on a project with the town blacksmith to help him compensate for his recently acquired handicap.  After sharing the tale of what had occurred at the sanctuary with Reliff and Natyet, the group decided to hit the road towards Garland’s Fork in search of the dragon cultists.

The group wisely sent Natyet ahead in animal form to scout out the road.  Not far outside of Garland’s Fork, the halfling turned cat detected a patch of road that appeared to be concealing some sort of pit trap.  Natyet alerted the rest of his allies and they were able to thwart a cultist ambush.  Several cultists were killed, with one of the leaders nearly escaping.  It appeared that he had been trying to reach a large hill nearby, so the party headed in that direction to investigate.

Upon getting closer to the hill, it was apparent that some sort of camp had been established there at the base of a massive tree stump.  The camp guards did not detect the group as they approached and they were quickly cut down when the party sprung an ambush of their own.  The camp seemed to be equipped for about 20 people.  There was a larger tent constructed up against the base of the stump.  Inside was a chest full of valuables and a large empty shipping crate.  The packing material inside the crate appeared to have recently held a large heavy spherical object of unknown origin.

Not wanting to go down into the earth unprepared, the party opted to make camp and proceed once they were well rested.  After a good night’s sleep they made their way down into the cavern below the stump.  They found it to be filled with a dull purple glow originating from chunks of purple stone embedded in the ceiling.  Within the cavern they found various plateaus where strange and wonderful plant life grew.  They kept their distance from both of it and eventually discovered a garden shed.

Within the shed, they found a variety of garden tools.  In a small locked area they freed several prisoners who identified themselves as soldiers of the nearby kingdom of Thire.  They had been in the area recruiting scouts and woodsman to help fight the dragon cult when they were captured.  The soldiers provided some information including the fact that the cultists were only visitors to this site and that the leader here was a corrupted treant by the name of Nockmort.  They also warned the characters that there was a large contingent of hobgoblins that were subservient to Nockmort.  Despite their weakened condition, the soldiers had no desire to remain underground any longer and insisted on departing immediately to rejoin their unit.

Further down the cavern, the party found a well constructed locked door.  They played a clever ruse and managed to trick the hobgoblin guards on the other side into opening the door and allowing them to storm what they found to be a small prison complex.  Further into the prison they fought and defeated an ettin guard.

Within the jail cells they found one nervous looking hobgoblin and a small treant who had been tortured cruelly with metal spikes.  The treant informed the party that Nockmort was using the power of the purple stones to create new and sinister forms of plant life and that he intended to corrupt more treants.The party eventually negotiated with the hobgoblin for his release.  In exchange for his life, he told them that the cultists had gone through the chapel and down below.  He made a hasty departure as soon as he was able.

Further exploration revealed a wooden crate from which a dryad was released.  The heroes escorted her back to her tree which had been transplanted into the center of the underground garden.

The Defiled Sanctuary

After recovering from their adventures in the Great Swamp, our heroes decided to make a sound tactical decision and split the party in half.  The monk, bard, and druid returned to Hadler’s Gap to seek treatment for Fischer’s lost arm as well as Reliff’s recently cured case of the Blight.

Solus, Trog, and Keaton continued onward towards Garland’s Fork in an effort to locate the cultist’s base of operations.  The plan was for the entire party to regroup on the road between Hadler’s Gap and Garland’s Fork.  On their way, they passed through numerous calm pastoral settings and eventually found themselves passing through a town identified by a sign as Blessings Be.  Strangely, the town appeared deserted when they arrived with many of the windows being shuttered and nobody in sight.

It didn’t take long for the townsfolk to determine that the heroes represented no threat to them and emerge from their hiding places.  In fact, they were greeted with great excitement and a small amount of confusion.  Apparently the town had sent messengers to Hadler’s Gap in search of help.  Recently the town’s marshall, having heard about much of the violence and evil in neighboring areas, decided to enter the Sanctuary of Blessings Be (a crypt and destination for pilgrims who worship the deity Honorus) and remove a powerful magic sword so that he could protect the town.  He never returned from his task and ever since the town had been plauged with disappearances and sightings of strange creatures in the woods.

The heroes found their way to the tomb along a well traveled pathway and found the entrance to be eerily quiet.  They proceeded from the statue-lined entry chamber to a small prayer area consisting of a pool and a statue of Arden Brightheart.  As they investigated the poul, a pair of ghouls lunged at them from the water and a fight ensued.  An opportunistic darkmantle joined the fray as well, but the monsters were all slain.

Continuing their investigation of the pool, they discovered a ledge hidden under the water that led around to the back of the pool and then out to the statue.  Rotating the statue resulted in a secret door opened at the back of the chamber. Within that room they found a spirit that introduced himself as Jarson Tender, the former caretaker of this shrine.  He explained that the marshall had attempted to remove the sword and a great evil was awoken as a result.  Jarson locked himself in the secret chamber after being chased by the ghouls and starved to death before help could arrive.

Moving further into the sanctuary, the party passed by a door that sounded like it contained some sort of raging beast.  In another nearby room they found several of the missing locals, all diligently working at modifying the murals on the wall.  They appeared to be under the effects of some sort of enchantment as they modified the murals to depict far more gruesome scenes.  Rather than disturb them and risk having to fight them, the heroes left them and continued onward.

They soon reached the chapel where more of the missing peasants worked at scrubbing the place with unholy water.  In this room they also found an ancient corpse pinned to the wall by a sword.  This appeared to be the corpse of the Dread Watcher, but provided little explanation for the recent evils that had clearly been unleashed here.  The sword detected as magical from a distance, but again the party chose not to disturb the brainwashed peasants and continued onward.

Finally the group reached the area containing the tombs.  Inside they found a throne upon which sat the presumed remains of Arden Brightheart, dressed in once-gleaming platemail.  Keaton immediately saw through this simple ruse and the battle with Dread Watcher began.  The enemy proved to be a formidable spellcaster, flinging several powerful attack spells at the party as they were attacked by animated statues.  At the same time, the brainwashed peasants led by a wraith attacked them from the rear.

It was a chaotic battle that nearly ended badly for the heroes.  Just as it seemed all might be lost, the ghost of Jarson Tender occupied one of the statues and came to the party’s aid.  Keaton and Solus both lost consciousness at one point leaving only Trog to face down the Dread Watcher.  Solus in particular turned quite pale and appeared to be knocking loudly at death’s door.  Despite using several tricks to magically jump from place to place within the tombs, Trog relentlessly tracked down the Watcher and finished him off.

The unconcious members of the party were all revived and a small amount of searching revealed Arden Brightheart’s sword.  It was placed back into the Watcher’s body which was then hidden in the secret room discovered earlier.  Oddly, Jarson’s ghost was nowhere to be found after the fight.

With the evil dispatched, the party headed back to Blessings Be in hopes of meeting up with their other companions.