Fallen

The Sacred Stone Monastery
19th Day of Marpenoth

The sun was high in the sky as the adventurers approached crested the final ridge to finally sight the Monastery. Built into a wide chasm cut into the hillside the monastery had a central stone keep, possibly millennia old, with a more modern building attached around it. Knocking in the door was met with rebuke, as the monks wished no visitors, no questions, and no new members.

Frustrated Anabelle and Argus continued to push the monk, asking more questions and getting the monk more frustrated. While the monk had the small door open Anabelle was able to snatch the his gargoyle mask away. In response the monk grabbed her wrist and in one smooth motion snapped her wrist. In pain and getting nowhere, the two adventurers pondered their next move.

Taking a different path saw Sagluan, Bruce, and Sendrina investigate the monastery's perimeter. In the northwest corner they found a walled garden, and were able to jimmy the door open quietly. Although parts were overgrown, the paths were clear and the statues of gargoyles looked well tended. Although suspicious of the statues a thorough investigation assured the adventurers they were simply statues. Until one of them began to attack.

The Gargoyle defeated, the adventurers began to check doors leading off the walled garden. One was magically warded, another simply too difficult to unlock, and the third was finally cracked by a combined effort. Sneaking as best they could, they opened a door to find a distillery manned by two of the monks. Quickly and quietly Sendrina and Sagluan attacked the monks, with Bruce finishing one off with a well placed firebolt. Although effective it was loud, alerting the abbotess, Hellenrae, and her sparring partner to the intruders.

Emerging from the dojo the monk was quickly killed, but allowed enough time for Hellenrae to come from behind. Enraged she unleashed kung-fury upon the adventurers, her stunning blow and flurrying fists almost proving too much. But for all her skill she was no match for the adventurers cold steel, and she fell cut to pieces. They then found time to 'acquire' several dozen bottles of strong brandy from the distillery, with Sagluan ensuring he sampled the wares.

Emboldened they proceeded into the next room, and stumble into a Lich buried in his studies. He showed no interest in the adventurers, repeatedly telling them to leave or he would destroy them. Although he was pushed to within a single word of destroying them, they got smart and retreated from the Lich's chambers.

After raiding the chambers of the now deceased Hellenrae the group found a Scriptorium where two monks diligently scribed texts. They were no match for the adventurers, and their death allowed investigation of the tomes. Here they found evidence of the true nature of the Monastery, that it was in fact a secret temple for the Cult of Black Earth and deep below was the true temple fashioned in the ruins of a Dwarven stronghold.

Some more exploring led the adventurers to the entrance of the central keep, and it was here they had their greatest idea. In the interest of caution they rolled a barrel of brandy to the door, cracked it open, waited ready with fire, and then knocked loudly on the door. Of course one of the Cult Guards opened the door, and was promptly launched back across the room to a concussive death. Now alert to the intruders Qarbo, the priest, and his single remaining guard moved to attack. The guard did not last long, but Qarbo was able to hold his own with a combination of glaive and powerful earth magic.

When the dust settled, literally, Sagluan was down, Bruce was out of spells, and Sandrina was almost dead. The adventurers were exhausted and desperately needed a rest, so they retreated to Hellenrae's room to barricade themselves in and rest. Just after first watch their rest was interupted by two Duergar investigating the Monastery. The explosion in the Shrine of Stone had caused the remaining monks to flee below, sending the Duergar up during the night to clear out the intruders. Sadly they failed as the adventurers killed them both and finished their rest.

In the darkness of early morning they rose and continued to explore the Monastery. Unbeknownst to them it was now abandoned, so they cautiously progressed to explore and loot the entire building. In the Shrine of Stone they discovered that the altar was once dedicated to Moradin, but has since been desecrated by the Cult for their own nefarious purposes. They utilised their barrel skills again to destroy an Umberhulk kept below the Shrine. The stairs were rigged to turn into a ramp, leading to the Umberhulk and what would have been certain death for anyone not prepared. 

Finishing their looting adventure the adventurers found a staircase down and descended into the mines below the monastery. The first chamber was the guard room, manned by three orcs and an ogre. Expecting a fierce fight they threw bottles of brandy at the orcs hoping to be able to set them on fire. Instead the orc 'commander', Jurth, asks for the pass-sign. Thinking quickly Sandrina makes the symbol of the Earth Cult with her hands, which convinces Jurth to allow the adventurers to pass. Once plied with brandy the orcs even provided directions around the mines.

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Bowelsplitter's Seige
18th Day of Marpenoth

The sound of the forge bell ringing woke the adventurers, as the cry of Orcs! resounded throughout the ranch. Dozens of orcs were marching from the east, armed to the teeth and led by their Orog chief, Bowelsplitter. The attackers split into three groups; Bowelsplitter led the main group from rhe east, with two smaller groups flanking the ranch to attack from the north and south.

Although small in number the defenders were well fortified and prepared to die defending the ranch. Kerbin and his sons, Fyndrick and Perd, led the defense of the house. The dwarven brothers, Stowal and Branikan, stayed near their forge to defend the southern approach. This left Erned, a travelling Knight of the Order of the Gauntlet, to lead the defense of the main eastern defenses. To help bolster the defenders Argos and Bruce stayed in the barn, Sendrina and Sagluren stood at Erned's side, and Anabelle took to the house to assist the family.

The battle opens with the orcs attempting to use flaming arrows to set the ranch on fire. The Dellmons expected this, and had kept the roof wet to douse any flames. Not deterred, the orcs began their charge. Closing the distance quickly meant the defenders only got a few shots off before the orcs were upon them, but it was enough to thin their numbers. Sendrina and Sagluren joined the shooting, but Sendrina soon lost the blessing of Tymora as she her bow flicked back hitting her in the face. And so began a battle of many misses.

The orcs reached and easily breached the southern palisade, dispatching the commoners there and only being held by the dwarven brothers. Argos and Bruce hatch a devious plan, using Bruce as bait to get the orcs to gather together, Argos unleashes his Fireball scroll on them. In one fell swoop the southern flank is secured. The last surviving orc leaps into Bruce in an attempt at revenge, his axe landing heavily on Bruce's skull. If not for the casting Shield as a reflexive action Bruce would be dead instead of simply unconscious. Through sheer blind luck Branikan has, and is willing to use, a healing potion to keep Bruce in the fight. The dwarfs and the few surviving warriors rush to secure the other flanks.

Reaching the house the orcs are slowed by Kerbin, but without support are slowly being worn down by sheer weight of numbers. A group of orcs breaches a palisade next to the house, charging directly into the courtyard behind the defenders. Sensing the house is in trouble, Anabelle is able to repel half a dozen orcs with a single Thunderwave, almost securing the house before a second group storm the front door and cut her down. With Anabelle falling the fate of Kerbin and his sons is all but sealed. Flush with victory the remaining orcs charge through into the courtyard.

On the eastern flank Bowelsplitter has finally crossed the defenses and is engaging Erned. The Knight bravely keeps the Orog at bay with his greatsword, but is hard pressed by the duel weiled battleaxes. While focused on the Orog, Sagluren and Sendrina are surprosed from behind, with Saggy falling with an axe planted in his back. Quickly revived by Sendrina he returns to the fight, trying to stop Bowelsplitter. Although they are able to take down many orcs the ranch defenders are overrun, unable to withstand the weight of the horde.

As Erned looks ready to fall, forced to his knee and barely able to lift his sword, Argos and Bruce turn their attention to him unleashing magical attacks. Unable to withstand the combined assault Bowelsplitter finally succumbs to his wounds, leaving the orcs leaderless. Argos attempts to take advantage of this by intimidating the orcs into fleeing. Bruce takes the next step, casting an illusion of Bowelsplitter to order the orcs to retreat. Confused and now slightly spooked, most of the remaining orcs flee. With the help of Stowla, Branikan and the remaining guards the last few orcs are quickly dispatched.

Inside the house Anabelle is revived by Saggy, who can hear screams from the basement. Being told this is were the women and children were hiding causes Anabelle to rush down with Saggy. Below they find two orcs trying to get through a second door, one breaks away to delay them. Thinking of nothing but the pregnant Maygen; Anabelle charges past the orc, who is able to stop her with one swift hit from his axe. By the time Saggy finishes off the first orc the second has breached the door, entering and killing whatever he finds. Sagluren enters and dispatches the orc finding the body of Dreena, Kerbin's daughter, freshly killed.

The battle is over and the group gathers to rest. Erned reveals the non-combatants did not hide in the basement, but rather fled west over night when scouts revealed the attack was imminent. The only survivors were the dwarven brothers, Erned, and two commoners. Every other member of the ranch was killed. The day is spent gathering and burying bodies, and trying to bring some sense of order to the ranch. Erned expects the women to return over the next few days, after he sends word that they can return. As a reward for their service he offers the adventurers some gold and treasure he had collected in his search for Bowelsplitter. He would keep enough to help rebuild the ranch, but the rest was for them.

After a day of rest the adventurers moved on, continuing to the Sacred Stone Monastery. 

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Taverns, Tombs, and Orcs
17th Day of Marpenoth

Brastan briefed the adventurers quickly. His goal was to find and restore an ancient Temple of Tyr, but its location had been lost to the mists of time. He offered several possible leads; the tomb of an ancient monk dedicated to the defense of Justice, a monastery in the mountains known to collect holy artifacts, and local 'antiquity dealers' at the Hog and Thistle.

Argos was concerned about the Cloaks talk of the Cults of Elemental Evil, but without any solid leads they opted to undertake Brastan's investigations. Introductions to the local market stalls and stores were needed to purchase some necessary supplies. Bozel's Alchemical Supply & Potion Bazaar and Boris's Adventuring Supplies gave the adventurers a quick lesson in supply and demand.

Marching south the party marveled at the quantity and variations in the travelers on the South Rd. Caravans, adventurers, tourists, soldiers, moving in both directions in an almost never ending stream to and from Mulmaster. After the  human packed streets of the city, the Hog and Thistle surprised with its mix of peoples from almost every Prime race; and even some from further afield. 

Spread over two level the tavern was a whirlwind of ale, noise, and action. Elves and Aasimar traded magic scrolls, Dwarfs and Tieflings shared war stories, Dragonborn and Genasi reminisced over cold ales. In the chaos the adventurers found Gavin, an Elf who had spent the last century or so dealing in artifacts from all over Faerun. Although he was appreciative of the wine he had no knowledge of the Lost Temple, nor of any mysterious map that may lead to it.

Slightly disheartened the adventurers set off east to find the ancient tomb. The entrance was located in a hillside no different from any other in the undulating, rocky terrain. Cautiously Sendrina approached the tomb, choosing to investigate a collection of boulders nearby she felt could hide an ambush. Her stealthy approach ruined by a loose rock, she found herself under attack by a Half-Ogre and his Goblin sidekick. Alone and exposed Sendrina was almost taken down before her companions was cover the distance and take down the bandits.

Entering the tomb Sendrina finally found her first trap! Without checking the door she triggered a simple alarm, getting hit in the head with small scraps of metal as the rest clattered to the floor. Inside was what used to be an altar with armour and weapons, long since looted. A single metal door led deeper into the tomb, but the ghost of a cleric loyal beyond death was honour-bound to let no-one desecrate the tomb. Sadly he had to be vanquished before the tomb could be explored. Clutched by the interred monk was a broken tablet covered in an unrecognisable script, hopefully part of the map they were seeking.

Seeing the sun only just passing noon the party chose to press on to find the distant monastary. A few hours into their journey they were distracted by rising smoke in the distance, which they found to be a burning homestead. Anabelle raced ahead to the house looking for survivors finding am unconscious half-elf, Selwyn, in the front room. Taking him outside, and giving him a healing potion, brought him back to consciousness. He told of the orc raid on his farm where they took his pregnant wife and two farmhands, stole all their possessions, and then obviously set the farm on fire. 

Selwyn was frantic about rescuing his wife, and emboldened to act when Anabelle gave him her dagger to use. He almost ran along the well worn tracks of the orc raiding party, forcing the adventurers to to maintain a rapid pace. After a few miles the tracks split, the majority turning east and a smaller group with a wagon heading further west. Selwyn was sure the wagon would have his wife as the orc camps lay further west. Only minutes later they sighted the orcs, four of them with their wagon pulled by the farmhands and piled high with loot. 

Having the advantage of surprise would allow the party to approach the orcs, rapidly engage, and dispatch them before they could even react. Instead Anabelle and Selwyn began a reckless charge down the lightly wooded slope, alerting the orcs to their presence. Seeing the fresh meat of reckless adventurers the orcs saw no need for the farmhands, slitting their throats and leaving the corpses with the wagon. Once in range Saggy and Sendrina opened fire with their bows, wounding the orcs with accurate arrow shots. Returning the favour the orcs unleashed their javelins, missing all the adventurers but felling Selwyn.

Distraught, Anabelle stopped her charge and turned to expend her last spell to bring him back from the brink of death. Selwyn stood, hardly believing his luck as he looked at the bloody hole in his tunic where the javelin had just been removed from, marveling at the power of healing magic, as a second javelin pierced his heart killing him instantly. Thanks to the accurate archery the orcs were then finished off quickly by Bruce and Argos. Maygan, Selwyn's widow, is unable to contain her grief, and is barely able to tell the party about the refuge at the Dellmon Ranch.

Fortified and secure, the Dellmon Ranch has become a rallying point for the area's residents from the roving orc bands. Kerbin Dellmon, patriarch of the family, is happy to offer the adventurers a safe place to rest in exchange for assistance in the coming battle. Promising to talk more in the morning he offers them a place to sleep in the barn. Amongst the few dozen farmers the party found a place in the barn and slept.

 

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Interlude
From 'The Trials of Arrtyr'

…Arrtyr into the square
as one. Aicauxihl fell to
his mighty hammer. As 
one they…….
…….. final blow.

Only three mortal knights
stood at the end. Arrtyr
blessed each as one of his
chosen. [ELEVATED/EXALTED] they
were charged with his destiny.

….mandate to rebuild the Holy
Orders and carry the light of
Arrtyr through all time.

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A Rocky Start
16th Day of Marpenoth

Dawn.

Upon waking the party departed from Mulmaster heading east towards their destintion, the Shrine to Grumbar. An uneventful journey saw them arrive at the Shrine as the sun reached high into the sky, and they descended into the darkness of the shrine.

Seemingly molded from the living rock, the Grand Chamber at the base of the stair was a wondrous sight. Sixty feet tall, perfectly smooth and with no discernable joint work, the Chamber filled the adventurers with a sense of awe and forbodding. With the only obvious exit the giant steel doors to the South, the party found the key and continued their exploration. Here they encountered the first guardians of the ancient Temple, Dust Mephits, patiently waiting for any interlopers to appear. Although they could blind the adventurers, quick use of fire saw the Mephits destroyed rapidly, barely slowing the party at all.

As if poured and worked by hand, the black spiral stair continued the temples downward aspect. At the base the party found a well lit facility, lit by glowing crystals embedded in the walls and set up to house a large population of some description. In a spherical prison cell they rescued two new members of the group, Severus the Barbarian and Renkai the Warlock. Captured by some unknown cultists some days before and left for dead in their cell. The pair quickly recovered, and joined the other adventurers deeper into the Temple.

Hundreds of feet long and dozens wide, a multi-coloured geode formed the central chamber of Grumbar's Temple. Suspended into the void was a single piece of black granite forming a bridge to the chambers heart. Here a circle of cultists was finishing a summoning ritual, seeking to draw on the power of the Element of Earth. As they finished the ritual the cultists moved to attack the intruders, but were quickly dispatched. Only their leader put up a valiant resistance, delaying them long enough for the summoning to complete and the elemental to emerge.

The Unknown Elemental burst into the Prime and began what it was brought forth to do – destroy enemies of the Cult. Smashing the party it was able to fell two of them before their magical assault was able to break its magical bonds and banish its essence to the Planes. 

Returning to Mulmaster the party was paid well by Canaide, and told to be on the lookout for other Cult activity in the area. The Cloaks fully expected to find evidence of all four Cults of Elemental Evil. Braston was also pleased with their success, finding that they were worthy to continue working for him and revealing his identity as a Paladin of Tyr of the Order of the Knights of Holy Judgement. He now expected them to seek out and liberate a Temple of Tyr.

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The Masters of Mulmaster
15th Day of Marpenoth

Dawn.

Silently the Colarine slipped into Mulmaster harbour, the lighthouse dimming as the first rays of sunlight broke the horizon. After almost a month the six adventurers neared their destination, finally to be free of the confines of the refugee ship. For months the poorer residents on the northern coast of the Moonsea had been fleeing south from some unknown threat. At first Hillsfar had taken them in, and then even Elmwood, but finally all had closed their gates except the City of Danger.

Disembarking should have been uneventful, as a mousey looking human offered the adventurers potential employ by heading to the Ox Pit Tavern. Here is where it became eventful. Bruce quickly realised that Mulmaster was a very human-centric city, seeing almost no other races at the harbour, and even receiving several judging glares. Recognising the need for subtlety Sendrina approached two City Guard on the docks to ask for directions. 

Galan, and his long term partner Batti, had been observing the latest ship load of refugees disembark. This was a duty they had undertaken almost daily since the ships began arriving, and so far had been routine and frankly, a little dull. Galan was approached by a human woman, obviously an adventurer of some type, and asked for directions to the Ox Pit Tavern. Expecting to make a quick gold or two he offered the information for a single gold piece. He barely noticed when a halfling…a halfling!…stepped forward and threatened him by grabbing his crotch. Before Galan could think of another witty comeback a bolt of lightning coursed through his body, and another through Batti. 

Dandrus launched his sleep spell at Argus, desperately trying to defuse the situation. He succeeded in placing the guards, Argus, and Bruce to sleep, allowing the others to carry them to safety as the horns and bootsteps of the Guard grew nearer. Away from the docks Sendrina asked a spice merchant for directions, she happily provided them and said to ask for Travis and his famous ox tail soup.

Morning at the Ox Pit was quiet, but Travis and his waiter Meles provided excellent service and an even better meal. After eating the adventurers were introduced to Brastan, obviously a knight of some type, and he offered them a test. Simply deliver a package to a friend of his across town and then return. Surely nothing could be simpler.

The adventurers discovered first-hand the level of anti-human sentiment in the city. As they crossed a small square a group of locals singled out Bruce, accusing his type of being responsible for war and death. Although Sendrina and Sagluen tried to defuse the situation it was to no avail, the peasants drew their daggers and advanced. It would surely have been a slaughter if not for the intervention of demonic forces. Manes and a Dretch burst forth attacking the adventurers, which even though Sagluen insisted o playing fetch with the Dretch, were defeated reasonably easily.

Argus was able to detect a familiar background magic in the area, seemingly the cause of the demonic invasion, coming from the same house they were delivering the package to. Entering revealed the destroyed remains of an alchemist's lab, with each of the four elements powering a summoning circle. Before they could act another Dretch burst forth, taking Sendrina down before the others finished it off. With some fast thinking they were able to extinguish each element, cutting off the summoning circles power source.

Thinking they had done a great service, the adventurers were surprised to see a collection of City Guard and the Cloaks assembled in the street. They stood accused of illegal use of Arcane Magics, and were instructed to surrender and come peacefully. A few minutes of indecision was ended as a Cloak cast Sleep on the building, leaving all but Dandrus snoozing peacefully on the ground. Although he did consider doing something foolish Dandrus surrendered without further incident, allowing the entire group to be shackled and taken to the Tower of Arcane Might.

Introductions to Canaide, the High Mage of Mulmaster, went as well as good be expected. He threatened execution as punishment for use of magic and especially use of magic against the city guard. But luckily he allowed the party to be placed into the care of Brastan. Brastan was satisfied with their performance delivering the package, confirming it was a test and now he had another task for them. In addition Canaide would expect some service or other from the party, as recompense for their arcane transgressions.

Rather than depart immediately the party chose to spend some time recuperating at the Ox Pit, choosing to depart the following day at dawn.

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Procession of Justice

 

Naarkolyth rose in the distance, her once shining towers and floating motes lay dark and broken. The jewel in the crown of Jhaamdath had been plucked, tarnished, and discarded. Only the residue of evil remained to pick over the bones of a once great empire, and now Sarus had come with his brethren to cleanse that residue.

Gazing across the blasted desert Sarus was certain he felt death coming nearer. His uncertainty was if she was coming for him or another. Weeks pushing against demonic hoards had weakened the Knights of Holy Judgment from a force of thousands to barely a dozen Paladins, and yet they could not cease. This Procession of Justice could not fail, not while Arrtyr walked amongst them, not while the Triad was intact.

Arrtyr himself led the final charge of Archons into the Fortress of the Jhaamda. Demonic hordes and Angelic hosts clashed with a fury unseen in an age, immortal beings willingly sacrificing their divinity in service to a greater power. Beside these fell the corpses of mortal men, the final Knight falling beside Sarus engulfed in sulfurous obliteration. He sighted Arrtyr slaying the final servant of evil, before Death descended to claim her prize.

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