The 13 Masters of Evil

The Tenth Session, Continued
New Bonds are Formed, and a Puzzle is Solved

With the sounds of battle rising from the human camp on the southern side of GateQuest, the four adventurers felt that their window of opportunity to explore the cavern under the former Temple of Shadas was closing. Much to their relief, Ivan and Lo-Kag understood their concerns about the cavern and decided that they would join the group in exploring its dark depths. They realized they must move quickly, and began to run through the streets of GateQuest towards the temple in the southwest.

They saw glimpses of Dark Ones and strange, red skinned beasts fighting groups of men between the broken buildings of the city. As they moved further south, the sounds of battle became louder, and the fights they could see grew more frequent. Quellen climbed a pile of rubble to get a better look at their destination as the drew closer to the temple. He reported that hundreds of the red skinned beasts, along with Dark Ones, were pouring out of the very cavern they wished to enter.

Quellen jumped down from the rubble, and the group continued their approach. Turning a corner, they were surprised to see a group of three goblins walking with two of the red skinned creatures.

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The Tenth Session
The Party Splits, and an Old Friend Reappears

After exploring GateQuest and learning what they could of the situation, the party realized they needed to settle down for the night, as the morning would bring with it the Day of the Shadow. After considering finding a room in either the dwarven or human camps, they instead chose to spend the night guarding the still-active teleportation circle which Teleria had found in a boarded up building in the center of town.

After a quite night passed, the eerie light of a Day of the Shadow dawn showed that heavy clouds had gathered in the sky, looking as if a mighty storm was coming. Kriv, Kerial, Davan, Quellen, Teleria, Maethius, and Tosk warmed their breakfast over a small fire, and discussed how they should proceed during this dark day.

Unfortunately, Kriv, Kerial, and Davan had sad news for their companions. After viewing the sorry state that GateQuest found itself in, Kerial and Kriv felt that their deities were calling them to leave off the search for the Dark Son cult, and to instead aid in the rebuilding and reconsecration of GateQuest. Since GateQuest had been one of the most holy sites on Naramos, they felt it was their duty to help restore it to its former glory. As Davan had sworn to protect Kerial in her travels, he to preferred to stay behind. The three took their leave of their companions, and headed towards the temple of Thorax to be assigned where they could do the most good.

The remaining four adventurers decided they could not spend the day holed up, even though Teleria kept muttering about not wanting to be rained upon. The clouds above had darkened further, and now it seemed that they were swirling above the city of GateQuest. Maethius studied the teleportation circling that they had spent the night guarding, and after a few hours was able to determine a way to close it. With the city now safe from further incursions from this site, the party chose to examine the temple of Shadas, as their investigations of the previous day indicated there may be a clue there.

It was nearly 10:00 in the morning when the four adventurers arrived at the site where the temple of Shadas had once stood. As they surveyed the site, it became clear that no one remained alive inside the temple. It had been razed to the ground, and it seemed as though the Dark Ones who had stormed the city had concentrated their attack upon the temple. It appeared their search for clues had come to an end.

Suddenly, the ground began to shake violently. Large spires of rock began to grow from the ground, while in other places the ground fell away completely. The adventurers struggled to keep their balance as the ground around them heaved and spasmed. Beneath the center of what had been the temple, the earth sank down nearly ten feet, and in the middle of the sinkhole the mouth of a large chasm yawned. Then, as quickly as it had begun, the ground stilled.

As the party turned their eyes to investigate the new cavern that had opened nearly beneath their feet, a bright light from the north-eastern sky drew their attention. It appeared that a meteor had emerged from the center of the black, swirling clouds, and it was heading towards the city. As the four watched the meteor descend, the shape of the bright, white light seemed to coalesce into the form of a man.

As the object falling from the sky landed with a crash somewhere on the northeast side of the city, a dark and gravely female voice like rolling thunder seemed to boom from everywhere and nowhere, “This is what happens when you do not follow me!”

As a group, the four adventurers ran towards the crash site. Though they ran as swiftly as they could through the remains of the city, they were not the first to arrive. By the time they found the place where the object had landed, a small crowd of soldiers, priests and onlookers had already arrived. However, the fallen thing was clearly visible – a male half-elf of otherworldly beauty lay broken and bloody within crater. Great gashes rent his glowing skin into shreds, and it was obvious that whoever the man was, he no longer lived. Suddenly, a wail went up from the clerics of Shadas within the crowd – their connection to their god, and all the powers he granted to them, was suddenly gone. A shiver ran through the crowd, as it became chillingly clear that the man lying dead at their feet was none other than Shadas himself, somehow cut down and tossed from the heavens like trash.

As the holy men began to argue about what to do with the corpse of the god, the soldiers gathered formed a protective circle around them and the body. It was clear to the adventurers that they would be unable to learn more at the crashsite in a timely manner. The thought of the dark cavern that had opened under the temple of the now dead Shadas returned to them, and it seemed clear that was where their path lay.

Teleria, however, was reticent to enter the cavern so quickly. She counseled that they should instead take some time, even if only a few hours, to try to recruit some assistance. Maethius and Quellen, however, both expressed concern that time may be short, and pressed her to go to the cavern as quickly as possible. Tosk was about to weigh in on the matter when a familiar face caught his eye.

“Brother Ivan!” Tosk called out excitedly, waving to the blond dwarf that had come into view through the churning crowd. “It’s me, Brother Tosk! What are you doing so far from the monastery?”

“Brother Tosk! Good Greetings!” the heavily built dwarven monk replied. “Lo-Kag, my companion, and I had felt called to GateQuest by the rumors of a Dark One uprising. What a surprise to see you here!”

The dwarf and his Goliath companion moved up to join the adventurers. Tosk quickly made introductions, and the two monks compared their stories of recent events. As Tosk explained the need of the party for some additional strong arms to join them in investigating the cavern that had recently opened up in the southwestern part of the city, the sounds of screams and the clash of metal rose to the south.

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The Fall From Grace

*This is the DM’s account of the events from the ninth session.

This place of Gatequest, sure it had some history but really how much of that could be true. Gods, prayers, and the like, who would really think such a thing in a place such as this. It’s a small quaint place far away from the hustle and bustle of the bigger town and located in the middle of the forest, so why would the gods decide on a place like this to give their holy blessings too? How could the gods even think that this place would be more or less important then any other place? If the gods were going to indeed contact the mortals why not do it in Duntroon where the masses lay in wait for a sign. Why do it all the way out here in the middle of nowhere?

But all of those questions went away and its history changed in a matter of moments when the adventures heard that Gatequest had been destroyed; supposedly attacked by darkones none the less. Sure they heard those rumors but now a month has gone by and from what the adventures have seen they didn’t doubt those words anymore. Darkones attacking without cause, a dead demon coming to life in front of them, the hand of god reaching out of the blackness, an army of evil marching on civilization. Sure this was all a dream growing up but suddenly they are thrust into these very moments. These things that people make up, these ghost stories, to give children nightmares are suddenly very real.

So it was decided by the six brave adventures to travel to this place, to see for themselves what exactly might have happened. It seamed a better idea then spending time in the mountains with the day of the shadow approaching soon, and if they left now they could make it there with a day or two to spare.

The journey went by without much issue, just a red dragon wyrmling who challenged them before it fell to their power and hidden within its lair some items they could use to help protect themselves in case danger did come on the Bloodmoon – not a bad trade off they thought to themselves.

But their glee turned to dismay when they finally did finally arrive at the former town of Gatequest, for as far as the eye could see burned builds littered the grounds. Some of the remains were still smoldering, sending up thin black smoke that creased over the skyline. Whatever happened to this place the creatures make sure nothing would remain standing.

The great temples of Thorax, Eliathandriel, Shadas, and all of the others were burned to the ground; only part of them still had walls that were crumbling down upon itself. A once proud place of the gods left in shambles.

The banguard from Duntroon where securing the town and keeping an ever present watch over anyone coming or leaving the town. From their vantage point the adventures could see a walled outpost to the southwest and the flying banners of the griffon. On the other end of the town another small outpost was flying the banner of the dwarves and the symbol of the crossed axes.

Even though this happened over a month ago there were signs of civilization coming back to this place. People were milling around the town, some in tattered clothing and showing total dispair, while others were gathering what they needed to start the rebuilding process. They could see merchants and vendors trying to sell what little wares that had and they could hear the sounds of hammers ringing everywhere. One such shop has a blacksmith working on a set of armor, while his small son worked on fastening some ropes around wood trusses that held the roof over their heads.

The place had a lingering smell of death all about it, bodies that had yet to be gathered were bloated and filled with maggots, some were even the choice food of scavengers. If not for the freezing cold nights these bodies would have repelled even the hardest of people. There were holy men walking around almost in a daze as they looked at the carnage, some in utter tears as they see their life’s work totally destroyed. Some were praying to the gods for vengeance while others just prayed.

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The Nineth Session
The Party Fights a Dragon, Waits out the Day of the Shadow, and Enters GateQuest

Post

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The Eighth Session
The Tower of Eyes

The party visits the Red Onyx’s treasure, the Tower of Eyes.

The party warns the monastery of a coming army, and the arrival of a new dark one – the Wolfen.

The party’s offer of assistance is rebuffed, and they off alone.

The party encounters a group of abandoned goblin women and children, and decide to leave them alone.

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The Seventh Session
A Pleasant River Voyage is Taken, and a Monastery is Visited

The party advises the Yellowtail priest of Thorax about recent events.

The mayor books the party passage on a merchant barge heading to the Red Onyx monastery.

The monks are somewhat helpful, but disdainful.

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The Hand of God

17th/18th of The Month of the Vanishing Wind

*This is the DM’s account of the events from this session, although much more happened during this session this reenactment focuses on the most important event. It is not to be overstated that this event will have profound consequences upon the adventures, the story, and the world of Naramos as a whole.

THE HAND OF GOD

The place smelled of death, the evil odor flowed through their nostrils with every breath they took. The band of adventures, six in number, traveled deep inside the ruins of Cilox trying to retrieve an object of great importance, an object of such importance that the Cult of Viel uses this place as their sanctuary. This place was once a great and mighty fortress that housed great history for the races of men and eventually became the place that was remembered as one of their greatest triumphs over evil. But that time is long forgotten and this place has a new history to write today, a history that will once again become forever known to the people of Naramos.

The weary adventurers stand atop a great platform that enters into a large sized room that is lightly lit by flickering firepots that are scattered throughout. Beyond the platform a grand set of stairs descends into the room which is towered overhead by a domed ceiling that massive marble pillars hold up. The glistening stone floor reflects what little light there is and makes it dance in a variety of shapes and sizes throughout the room.

On the left side of the room stands a massive stone table and lying upon it are the bones of a huge creature. On the opposite side of the room directly infont of the adventures is another set of stairs which flows upwards a few steps to an altar made of bones. This altar is draped by a crimson cloth that flows across it and onto the floor covering some of the stone stairways. On the right side of this room, adjacent to the wall is a large semicircle opening that stands the height of at least four men. Within the immense opening of this portal a vertical sea of blackness flows and ripples as the waves of sound flow over it.

The sound within the room is caused by three humming and chanting black robed creatures which stand around the gigantic portal. As their voices echo and bellow around the room the black opening of the arc reach out, causing massive black flames to emanate horizontally from within it. These horizontal flames flicker outwards causing the blackness of the portal to stretch until they finally break free and float towards the other side of the room where the table with the skeleton is positioned.

The chanting noise suddenly comes to a stop as the presence of trespassers is detected by the three dark humanoids praying by the portal. Although the room abruptly becomes hushed the archway of fire continues its process of growing and stretching all around the priests. One of the cultist turns towards the opening where the adventures stand and raises his bony hands in praise, almost in a mocking gesture. Within his grip is held a golden symbol of a creature with the head of a beast with large horns protruding upwards.

“Come to me and allow your new master to feel your soul, allow yourself to be devoured by him or join it his rebirth”, he bellows out up the stairs towards the adventures.

In the flickering light they could make out a shape of a man, human in form and appearance, but sickened by the disease of his evilness. Cold and pale shows on his skin and weak and delicate are his mannerisms. His voice bellows throughout the room causing the portal, which stands just a few feet away, to come to life again.

“I’m afraid we can’t join you in your unholy quest because we are here to put an end to whatever manner of evil you’re trying to conjure,” the elven ranger replies as he moves up to the top most stair that enters into the room. He draws his longbow, notching an arrow instinctively, while preparing for the upcoming battle he is sure will commence.

Standing there watching the cultist the adventures notice that part of the blackened portal shoots out a small stream of shadowy essence ever so often, the glob flies through the air landing upon the massive skeleton that lies upon the stone table. As it splatters across the figure it starts to meld into it, slowly being absorbed by the creature. When this happens the skeleton shakes and vibrates, slowing moving the bones before coming to rest again. From deep within the chest something stirs, a heart made of flesh beats from within.

“If you surrender now we will allow you to live, otherwise you will surrender by your own death”, the massive dragonborn adds as he moves adjacent to his comrade. Kriv, has he is known to his allies, holds a giant club in his hands and is covered by platemail armor which has the symbol of Thorax etched into it. The dragonborn paladin nods at his allies having them look within the room as he sees new enemies approaching.

Coming out of the shadows, from beyond where the adventures can see clearly, two new sets of enemies come forth. One set of creatures take the form of skeletons having great girth, their bodies show strength and power and each carries a gleaming longswords at the ready. The other set of creatures appear more manlike but still act like the undead. Dark and blackened by the evil stench of death they move without pain, stepping across the firepits within even noticing. They use their long and jagged fingernails as one would use a dagger and their bodies are scared by numerous injuries that don’t seam to affect them at all. Moving with great quickness they leap into flanking positions of the cultist preparing to attack the intruders if ordered.

“One last time I will allow you to denounce you life in favor of eternal salvation to your new master”, the cultist yells out.

“The time for talk is long past evil doer, prepare to die”, the ranger yells back as he lets loose an arrow aimed for the skull of the talking priest.

The bolt might have found its mark but from within the portal a blackened hand surrounded by shadows reaches out and grabs the arrow only moments before it would have slain the priest. In the same instant it crushes the shaft into little parts protecting the unholy man.

“Kill the intruders as I finish what we have started”, is the only reply given.

The battle is joined as the undead creatures amass towards the adventures who have already charged into battle formations, with the fighter and paladin up front and the mage and holy priestess behind. The stealthy rogue has already started to blend into the shadows hoping not to be seen as the elven archer strikes one of the enemies with an arrow.

As the battle rages all around him the tiefling psion named Maetheus, senses great magic coming from within the portal and perceives the waves of energy that fly across the room to be magical as well. He first thinks about targeting the leader of the cultist with some of his psionic bolts but realizes that his power might be better served by using his mastery over magic to divert the magical essences that are trying to reenergize the boney creature.

In his unusual dark accent the tiefling psion yells out, “Protect me while I see if I can prevent this process from continuing. I know a thing or two about demonic possessions.”

The human fighter named Davin comes to his aid and stands between the mage and the enemy, willing to accept any attacks on his behalf. He knows that his platemail armor will do its job much better that whatever little armor the tiefling possess. Before long one of the wights is standing before him and he blocks its attack and counters by lurches his sword deep inside it. The creature is wounded by the blow but will need a deadlier wound to ends it undead life.

Attack after attack between the two opposing forces are made and countered as the psion studies the magical essences and the portal they come from. He decides to try and dispel the magical energies as they float through the air, hoping that his mind magic can make them inert and useless before they land upon the skeleton. With great mind control he commands the process to stop, trying to draw the magical energy from it into himself. Time after time he concentrates on a floating flame without success, the process he is using just takes to long for the power he possesses. He curses his luck and takes aim at a different magical essence, but this time his concentration is ruined by one of the unholy priests which launched a bolt of demonic energy that surges throughout the psion’s body. Again the essence lands upon the skeleton causing the heart to beat and the bones to move for a moment.

“We need more of a divine power to stop this process..” the psion yells out. “My control of it isn’t effective.”

As the dragonborn paladin crushes one of the skeletons heads with his club he yells out to the priestess, “Make you way down the stairs and into a position where you can use your divine power to stop this.” He ducks under another attack and pushes the undead creature back giving room to his fellow warriors that surround him.

Lady Kariel, the holy priestess of Lysistern, quickly moves down the stairs and into the large room, she finds a position towards the bottom of the stairway where she can see the great beast lying upon the table and the black fiery essences that float towards it. She pulls out her holy symbol, that of the full moon Lysis, and holds it high in the air while praying to her goddess to give her strength. As the divine energy surges within her she channels this power towards one of the flickering flame of blackness, letting out a scream of agony as it strikes the unholy mass.

The strain of this maneuver makes her eyes go white for a split second and when she regains her vision she see the fiery mass land upon the bones of the massive skeleton but just like all of the others it makes it lurch for a second and the heart beat. But unlike the others that have previously landed on the creature this one makes the heart glow and continue to beat.

Suddenly the bones start to stir and the creatures gathers strength sitting up on the table showing its true mass. The bones creek against the stone as the creature positions his massive legs under it and moves its huge head around to surveying the room. Two massive horns spiral upwards from the skull and its jaws are lined with teeth the size of a man’s hand. Attached to the skeleton’s back the bones outline two massive wings that screech as they move. Finally the creature stands before the brave adventures showing its awesome size, towering over them like a tree.
Even though the group of warriors have already dispatches several of the evil creatures they are still engaged in a terrible fight for their lives. Two of the three cultists move forward and replaced some of the fallen undead and they brought their maces to bear against the adventures. A lone dark robed figure still stands by the portal watching in awe as the creature takes form across the room, immensely enjoying everything he was witnessing.

Striking from out of the shadows, Teleria, the half-elven lady stabs one of the evil cultists, blooding it from behind, as Davin stabs it from the front. It isn’t long before that cultist lay dead before their feet. Several of the undead creatures have arrows protruding from their bodies showing that the elven archer has hit his mark on several occasions. Although tired from their lengthy entwine with the enemy the adventures are eager to end this battle before it gets out of hand. But their hope is completely dashed as they witnesses what happens on the far side of the room.

With a bellowing roar that echoes throughout the area the skeleton creatures announces his arrival, the sound is loud enough to almost deafen the ears of those closest to it. The evil priest that remains by the portal raises his hands to the heavens in honor of the great beast and a great smile comes across his face as he watches it move. Slowly the bones move at first but they steadily increase until the skeleton completely awakens. The bold adventures have little time to study this scene as their concentration is engaged with several of the undead creatures that grab at them.

The adventures call out to one another wondering what their next plan of action might be against the newly risen creature but their questions are answered by what happens next. Suddenly out of the portal a massive arm flows into the room, its hand being the size of three men standing on top of one another. The black arm is covered in flowing shadows as it stretches across the room until it wraps its fingers around the skeleton beast in a loving way, almost like that of a child holding a baby bird. The skeleton beast shows no resistance and allows itself to be gathered in by the hand until it’s completely encircled.

while the hand starts pulling the creature across the room towards the archway a thunderous voice calls out into the room, “My son, come to me. Your job is not yet finished.” This is a voice of true evil, and evil that overwhelms everything else in this room. An evil that makes those hearing it sickly just from its mere presence.

As the massive hand withdrawals back into the blackened portal with its captured quarry the skeleton beast turns to watch the battle that still flows around the room. It sees that only two of the undead creatures still stand and both of the cultists lay face down on the stone slab with crimson stains flowing around their bodies. It roars its disapproval as it tries to pull itself free of the embracing hand without success. Its anger and rage clearly centers upon the trespassers that defile this room with their holy powers.

As the hand pulls ever closer to the portal the lone remaining cultist senses an opportunity and grabs a hold of the shadowy arm. Holding on with as much strength as he can muster the evil cultist clutches the blackness as he is whisked towards the portal. Within several seconds the arm disappears back into the shadowy vertical mist of the portal, taking with it the skeleton beast and the remaining cultist. The room suddenly becomes very quiet….

Just moments later the attacks by the ranger, fighter, and rouge vanquish the remaining undead creatures for good. The adventurers stand in the room breathing heavily from the long fight and they take a long moment to gather their wits about them. They gaze at each other looking to see if the others had witnessed the events that took place within this room and with reassuring nods the looks are confirmed.

After the long moment the psion speaks up, “I’m afraid you have failed in your quest”.

“More so then even you imagine tiefling,” the holy priestess replies as she strokes her holy symbol between her fingers. “That unholy beast that stood no more then a stones throw away was none other then Viel, the demon prince from the last great war. Whatever we have done, or not done, the world will become a much different place in the coming days. I pray for us all…..”

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The Sixth Session
The True Traitor is Found, and a Great Evil Returns

The party finds a portal leading from the ruins to the Yellowtail cemetery.

Fathrana the elven ranger is found to be the traitor, in the company of undead and dark ones.

Kerial is resurrected by the Yellowtail priest of Thorax.

Cultists are fought, and the evil chest is found – empty.

The head cult-priest resurrects Viell the demon, and is drawn with the demon into the Shadowfell.

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The Fifth Session
A Companion is Slain

The password is acquired.

The party bluffs their way into the enemy stronghold.

Kriv and Davan split the party.

Kerial dies.

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The Fourth Session
Within the Ruins of Cilox, New Bonds are Formed

Maetheus and Quellon join the party.

Undead are encountered.

Teleria almost dies – twice!

The party rests in the caverns beneath the ruins.

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