4th Ed D&D In London

Journey to Winterhaven
Adventures with a donkey

Leaving the Shadowhaunt Mausoleum, the group escorted the two young boys back to Linden Field and the waiting arms of their parents. Quinn Stasi was overjoyed to have his children back, and paid the adventurers the money he had promised.

He was also fascinated to learn of their possible ancestry, and vowed to help train his children in the ways of the Kaius. To that end, he asked that should the group ever pass by Linden Field again, that they stop in and see how everyone is doing.

That evening, a happy village celebrated the return of the children in the Inn. Aran told the tale of what had happened, embellishing it only slightly, and despite slightly sore heads they set off in the morning with glad hearts.

The countryside was largely dull – low hills breaking away in each direction, with small woods and distant, larger forests. Winterhaven was still several days away, and the journey quickly became routine as they continued at the slow walking pace that the donkey pulling the trade caravan forced upon them. Aran tended to range ahead a little, scouting for the group.

It was this scouting that saved them from what might have been a very nasty ambush.

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A tale to be told

A drink and a story shared in Arans Tavern Tales

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The Letter
A Clue! A Clue!

Possibly the most important item amongst the possessions found in Helvec's chest was a short note on poor quality paper. It read:

"Helvec, once you have finished with your task you must meet me at the Keep. You know the passcode. In His name, K".

The party quickly figure out that "K" may refer to "Kalarel", the alleged leader of the Death Cultists in Winterhaven.

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A Rock And A Hard Place
Will The Ceiling Become the Floor?

The party gathered around the circle in the statue room, joined now by Sabbat Fau. Elwanen went to guard the entrance against possible reinforcements.

Sabbat Fau and Theron between them concluded that with the death of Helvec, the Elf, the circle was losing it's potency. Aran Thule also chimed in, saying he knew a thing or two about magical traps and that he reckoned with a bit of help he could disarm it. Working together, and with the use of some handy sand, the trap was disarmed and the circle faded away into nothingness.

Aran stepped into the circle and used his lockpicks to unchain the two boys. His small stature and nimble fingers made quick work of what had looked like quite a secure chain.

As the boys stepped out the circle, the company tensed for a moment – but the ceiling stayed put, and no rumble of falling rock came to their ears. However, the shadowy figure that they had met before formed silently out of the shadows on one side of the room. A great wind seemed to be affecting it, and the dark shadows were ripped away leaving it's face much more human looking and it's robes grey, rather than black.

"Thank you," he said. "That accursed elf had me under a compulsion – I aided you as best I could but I wish I could have struck the deathblow on him myself. I am glad these two innocent children have been freed."

Staring at his newly revealed face, both Des and Aran had the same thought – the figures pictured on the tombs upstairs, this face, and the face of the children bore an uncanny resemblance. A…familial resemblence.

Aran asked "Do you boys know anything your grandfather? Or possibly grandmother?" Seeing their baffled looks, he explained that a resemblence was clear, and the spirit immediately guided everyone through to the room that Helvec had been conducting the ritual in. At his prompting, the two boys placed their hands on the risen platform, and as they did so it began to slide into the ground, leaving behind a lump of misshapen rock.

This rock then began to melt down into the shape of a warhammer, and the Kaius Thunderhammer was revealed.

The spirit spoke again, saying "Long has this hammer been waiting to be held again. The scions of the Kaius Dynasty are here to take their place in defence of their ideals."

However, the two boys looked a little unsure, and Richard spoke up, replying "But we're far too young!" He glanced around, spotting Rangrim comparing his own Dwarf-wrought hammer with the one lying in front of him. "You take it!" cried Richard. "You take it, and wield it, and when we're ready we'll send for it and you can return it to us!"

Rangrim was, understandly, happy with this arrangement.

The spirit, it's job done, faded back into the stonework of the underground tomb, and the party gathered up the assorted treasure from their fallen foes, including the ritual book. Sabbat was all for keeping it for study, realising it concerned rituals of power for those willing to make bargains, but upon further discussion it was decided that a ritual book that contained a single ritual that spoke of days of blood sacrifice was not something he wanted to have in his possession – the book's pages were burnt.

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Meanwhile...

Meanwhile…
 
The skinny figure of the warlock was sitting on the top stair, black eyes staring into the darkness from behind long dirty black hair that trailed on the ground.

 
"The Archer is in conjunction with The Hare. The Maiden exits The Well. Four times does The Moon of Odol pass Aventus, and the tail of Bezakiel burns green as the Sea of Eyes. This bodes ill. Nought but ill…"

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Victory
The Elf Takes The Fall

As the blade slid home, the evil Elf that had set these events in motion fell backwards, out of the protection of his magical circle. As he fell he saw around the room that his skeleton warriors lay in pieces, destroyed by Theron's repearted Thunderwaves and Magic Missiles. As he hit the floor, his last thought was that he hadn't even managed to kill the two boys…

With the Elf dead, the last skeleton was quickly dispatched, clearing the room. However, the statues were still proving a problem. The Elfs malevolent spirit had been driving them forwards, and Cass, Rangrim and Aran Thule had found them a true handful. Suddenly, though, that spirit was gone – and the statues grew sluggish. Aran was able to attack them from behind, almost running up their backs to stab true with his shortswords. Rangrim's warhammer crunched home, Cass's axe slammed into them and in short order the two statues were reduced to nothing more than rubble.

The magic circle's that had gleamed in both rooms started to fade, and the terrified boys were finally able to make themselves heard over the sound of battle.

"Thank you! Thank you! But be careful – when that elf put us in here, he said that if we left the circle the room would come crashing down on us!"
-
This marks the end of the first full session of the campaign.

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Undead Bottleneck
"Stay Put, Bony!"

As the skeletons surged forwards, racing down the narrow corridor to engage Des in combat, he and Theron used a remarkable piece of teamwork to slow them down.

Firstly, Theron called upon the power of the magical orb that he carries to cast Icy Terrain. The rock froze and became icy, with fingers of frost creeping up the legs of the on-running undead creatures. Several collapsed with a horrible click of bone on rock, unable to keep their footing. Des was forced to back up as one skeleton reached him and swung it's sword, pushing him back, but then he raised his Holy Symbol and a shining light emanated from it. The skeletons were burned in the radiance, and several of those that were prone on the floor were pushed back into the room from which they'd come, their bones smouldering.

Seeing his minions scattered, the Elf on the platform mustered his second forces. Two sharp taps on a particular sigil in the magical circle seemed to have no effect for a second, until Cass, Aran Thule and Rangrim began to hear the grinding of stone on stone coming from the room behind the demon door. Two of the large guardian statues that had been staring down at the captive boys began to move, their heads turning towards the door.

Cass didn't wait for them to arrive – she smashed the lock with a blow from her greataxe before kicking it open and waiting for the statue to arrive. Rangrim ran into to block the other statue, his warhammer and shield gleaming oddly by the light of the magic circle. It's thick stone arms took up a fighting pose as it attempted to club him to the ground, but he caught the blow on his shield and avoided being ground under it's heels.

Elwanen took advantage of the skeleton's dispersal. Seeing through to the Elf on the platform, he disappeared – only to reappear (as if he had only taken a step) alongside the villainous foe. Drawing on his own Eladrin heritage, he gestured and attempted to knock the Elf off the platform with a spell. However, the magic circle again absorbed the energy, rendering it harmless. The Elf sneered and struck back, trying to suck the life out his racial cousin and transfer his vitality across. The circle around them both glowed greater as he utilised it's powers.

Cass had not been doing quite so well against the statues. As it crashed forwards, it struck at her with one huge fist and clubbed her to the ground. As she fell, it quickly raised a heavy foot to stamp down on her, and only her quick reflexes allowed her to roll out of the way and to her feet, dodging another bunch as she did so.

However, whilst the statue concentrated on her it lost track of Aran. The halfling, small even for his race, was able to duck forwards, spin beneath another fist and strike hard with his shortswords. Finding tiny cracks in it's exterior, Aran damaged it severely. It spun again, confused between these two capable warriors. Over it's shoulder it could sense it's brother statue trading blows with Rangrim, with neither being able to gain much advantage.

Cass got back to her feet and focussed her mind, bringing up memories of chopping timber in the tavern's back yard. It didn't always matter if you hit hard, so long as you hit in the right place…She wound up a subtle strike, the greataxe taking a chunk out of the shoulder of the statue, and then brought the axe high above her head, slamming into it brutally. A fine network of cracks appeared in the statues right arm and across it's chest, and Aran drove his own swords home again in response.

The skeletons had regrouped, but the careful wiles of Theron and Des meant that they had no chance of success. Theron used a series of Thunderwaves to push the skeletons back, with Des backing him with further blasts of radiant energy. Taking a risk, Des ran forwards, dodging a wild swing from a skeleton warrior, and made his way to the platform where the Elf and the Eladrin were exchanging blows. Although Elwanen seemed to be winning, Des fired off another burst of radiant energy, leaving the villain reeling and close to death. Elwanen, sensing weakness, took advantage of the guiding light that Des' prayer had left – dimming the magic circle – and drove his weapon home. The Elf gasped, struggled with his footing for a second and then took a long, slow step backwards…

...off the platform.

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Cave of Battle
What Lies Beneath

Peering around the corner, Aran Thule sees in to the next room. It is a large natural-looking cavern, lit by moss and rugged in appearance. There is an exit on the far side of the room, a small corridor leading away.

To one side, an alcove holds a closed door in the shape of a fearsome demonic face. Around the wall is writing that Des and Theron both recognise as being that of Bael Turath. The writing indicates that this was once some sort of tomb, although the origninal inhabitants can only be guessed at now.

Aran Thule and Cass move forwards to investigate the door, quickly noticing that the glowing eyes of the face are actually windows through to the room beyond. Looking through, they see two young human boys in chains in the midst of a magical looking circle, surrounded by two rows of identical statues.

Moving across the rough floor, Des seeks to see down this other corridor. Dimly seen at the far end is a raised platform, with a shadowy figure stood on top of it. He is lit by the emerald energy of the circle, the magic almost visibly coiling up around him, and he is reading a book. He clutches a staff in his other hand.

Without a pause for discussion, Des recklessly steps forwards and attempts to install fear into this figure – hoping to force him to flee the circle and come down to the floor. The prayer arcs across the room, but as it reaches it's target it dissipates and fails to affect him. The robed figure pushes back it's cowl, revealing an elven face twisted with dark secrets and hate, and he speaks "Pathetic! Forward, my minions, and let your swords taste his blood!"

Five skeletons begin to move round from behind the platform, brandishing swords… 

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The Shadow Speaks
A Potion?

The strange spectral figure coalesced out of the stone wall, forming again into a humanoid shape, it's outline obscured by it's robes that seemed to trail away into nothingness.

Ignoring the fallen hobgoblins, it gestured at the bones littering the floor of the room, and spoke two words: "Honour them."

Des, Elwanen and Rangrim all realised that the spirit meant that the despoiled remains of the members of the Kaius Dynasty should be properly honoured by returning them to the scarcophagi, even if it was badly damaged. With a little work from the party, the bones were carefully cleared and laid to rest, with the spirit watching all the while.

Once the final bone was placed inside, and a short blessing said over the top, the spirit drifted up towards the stairs and held it's hand towards the lowest step. Cass approached the step, and quickly found a latch that allowed her to lift up the step. Revealed beneath was a single potion bottle – Theron pronounced it to be a potion of healing. Lacking magical means to heal herself, it was agreed that Cass should keep it for herself.

With Aran Thule again taking point, removing the lantern from the third scarcophagus to disarm it, the group moved further into the darkness.

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Into The Darkness
First Fights

The group quickly establish a marching order, with Aran Thule acting as point. Sabbat Fau decides to stay at the top of the stairs in case the group need a swift way out (see below).

Moving carefully down the stairs, the room ahead appears to be worked stone. The remains of some more scarcophagi line the walls, shattered into pieces, with the desecrated bones scattered across the floor. Two intact scarcophagi block each of the two exits from the room, and on each one a single lantern sits, lighting the space in front.

Both Aran and Elwanen notice that the smell of oil in the air is very strong for only two lanterns.

As Aran steps forwards to explore further, everyone in the group hears a low voice issuing from further down the tunnel, saying "Delay them as long as you can. I need a little more time to complete the ritual." Departing footsteps echo back up the hall.

A second later, two figures make themselves known behind the scarcophagi. Both wear well-cared for armour and are holding nocked longbows, their faces pug-faced and ugly. They sight their arrows and release, and the party faces it's first fight!

The battle is swiftly joined, with Aran running forwards to unleash two bow shots of his own in response. The hobgoblin opposite him dodges the arrows, and then drops his bow and reaches down. Straining with the effort, he overturns the scarcophagi – it shatters, spilling a further torrent of oil around the halfling's feet. The lantern then drops into the flood, igniting the pool and burning Aran quite severely!

The Dwarven Palaind Rangrim strode forward, clutching his warhammer and attempted to vault over the other blocking scarcophagi – only for it to break under his weight and dump him into another inferno. The two hobgoblins seemed emboldened by the success of their traps, drawing longswords and pressing the attack. As Cass raced forwards to help out, also getting burned as she ran through the flames, Des stepped up and spoke a Healing Word, and Aran's burns healed over. A third hobgoblin then added his own bowfire to the fight, shooting from behind a further scarcophagus that lay deeper into the tomb.

Theron and Elwanen joined the attack, pressing the hobgoblins back and darting through the fire to assault them. Theron used his arcane prowess to send bolts of black energy arching through the air, and Elwanen channelled the holy power of his deity to guide his attacks.

Glancing around the situation, Theron noted that the third hobgoblin was free to pepper the party with arrows from behind cover, and decided to force him back. Conjuring a cloud of daggers around him, the hobgoblin was forced to try and duck away – however, Cass got there first, blocking him in with sweeps from her greataxe and cutting him down in short order. 

The hobgoblins were disciplined and forthright soldiers, veterans of many battles against lesser foes, but against these heroes-to-be they fell quickly to sword, hammer and spell. As the flames guttered and died, leaving scorched stone in their wake, the party caught it's breath and checked for further attack. For a second, all was quiet…

..until the ghostly figure that had spoken to them before drifted out of the wall.

Note: Joe was not able to make the game, so this was the easiest way to deal with that.

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