Tales of Valor

Thunderspire Labyrinth Session 16
Warnings from the Grave

From the hyena kennels, the party headed south. They entered a long passageway carved out of black rock. Hearing strange sounds coming from one of the doors to the east, the group decided to investigate. They soon found themselves engaged in a heated battle with a fierce gnoll and her conjured balgura demon. After the battle, in which the party was victorious, the group was approached by two tieflings garbed in black leather armor and carrying adventuring gear.

The tieflings introduced themselves as twin brothers Azkelak and Katal. They claimed to be down in the labyrinth in search of ancient artifacts to sell when they stumbled upon the Well of Demons. They figured that the gnolls had planned to murder them and thanked the party for dispatching them. They also offered their services should the party allow the tieflings to travel with them. The party agreed but the tieflings seemed to become uneasy with the party’s questioning and with some of the evil artifacts that Immeral showed them. They thanked the party for their help again but said they would take their leave. Immeral told them they could not leave and threatened them with violence if they did. The tieflings ignored the threats and turned to leave a which point Immeral cast a spell and hit them with a ball of electrical force. The tieflings retreated toward the exit of the Well of Demons.

Shardon stealthily trailed after them. Unfortunately they had hidden themselves with spells of invisibility and ambushed the halfling. Shardon took a short sword to the side. Injured, he retreated back to the rest of the group. After a few minutes they did not hear or see anything from the tieflings and continued on their way.

They came upon a passageway stained with blood trails on the floor. To their amazement they saw three spectral figures rise up from the blood. The figures were former adventurers who had died in the chambers ahead. First they spent some time testing the party’s aptitude. Satisfied that they were formidable enough for the challenges ahead they provided the group with some advice and warnings.

This place is the Proving Grounds, a testing place for worshipers of the demon lord Baphomet. You must find four items: a knife, a mask, a bell, and a book. You must place each of these items on one of four circles of runes found in this complex. The items must be placed on the runes at the exact same time.

Three of the items are held within chambers built to test Baphomet’s worshipers. You can find these chambers to the north, west, and south of where we now stand, through these eastern double doors and then through another set of double doors that leads to the west. The fourth item, the book, is on an altar in a small shrine to the east.

To the east of the Proving Grounds is the inner sanctum. Its door opens only when the proper ceremony is completed. The items used for the ceremony disappear if you try to remove them from the Well of Demons, and upon completion of the ceremony, they return to their former locations.

Completing this ceremony summons the terrible Guardian and activates several traps in the area. The Guardian is a green dragon imprisoned here. It can swoop past its prey and attack. It emerges from a great pit in the center of the complex.

Each of the chambers in this complex has a magical trap designed to harass intruders. The central corridor is the fastest way to move around, but it also has its own trap: a crushing sphere of magical force that rolls along its length.

There is a treasure hidden in the complex. It is hidden beneath the altar in the chamber south of here.

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Thunderspire Labyrinth Session 15
Claws and Fangs

Immeral’s spell went off sending a blast of heat throughout the chamber. Shardon steadied himself on the hay bale and surveyed the damage. Two of the slavering, vicious gnolls had taken a direct hit. They were retreating to the back of room, patches of burnt skin exposed where the hair had been consumed by fire. To Shardon’s left two of the bales of hay that made up the makeshift barrier constructed by the gnolls were on fire. A choking black smoke was filling up the chamber and the fire would spread down the rest of the hay bales fast. That was unfortunate as Mikail and Shardon currently held a position on the bales at the western end of the barrier which gave them a small tactical advantage over their enemies.

Shardon’s attention snapped back to the battle at hand just in time to duck under the wild swing of a handaxe from the gnoll in front of him. Mikail and Shardon stood side by side on bales and squared off against two of the crazed dog creatures in front of them. The gnolls wore leather armor and came at them with handaxes. Their tongues lagged from their mouths as they snapped at the adventurers with wicked fangs. As they fought, the creatures continuously let out an unsettling laugh-like bark.

The gnoll reared back for another swing at the halfling. Shardon saw the opening he’d been waiting for. As the gnoll swung his axe in a powerful arc toward the rogue, Shardon uncoiled like a panther, somersaulted over the two gnolls to land opposite of Mikail, and buried his short sword into the guts of one of the gnolls. The creature let out a howl and spun around in an off balanced attack on the halfling. Mikail’s longsword flashed out with deadly results. The gnoll’s head was torn from his body and flew over Shardon showering him with crimson gore.

“Thanks”, muttered the halfling.

After the fight with the tentacled beast, the party headed south out of the chamber and down a dark passageway. Eventually they came to a set of double wooden doors leading east.

Entering through the doors, the adventurers found a long chamber that was apparently set up for achery practice. At the north end stood a makeshift pen in which a large dire boar was chained the floor. The boar snorted wildly and the group could see that it had been the target of several arrows, some of which still protruded from the beast. Around the perimeter of the fence were four hyenas. They ran along the fence, snapping at the boar whenever he came too close.

At the southern end stood a barrier of hay bales about three foot high. Behind the hay bales were four gnolls. They were armed with bows and using the boar as a target. The hyenas and gnolls attacked the party on sight. Eventually the party slaughterd the creatures and released the boar. They reckoned that this was the boar lost by Ulthand Deepgem and traveled back to the Seven Pillared Hall to return him.

Ulthand was happy to have his beloved boar back. He rewarded the group with a gem for their trouble. The party then headed back to the Well of Demons and continued their explorations.

Just north of the archery practice hall the group encountered some more gnolls and hyenas. This time they battled within a 10’ wide passageway. Hyenas and a gnoll archer attacked from the east while two gnolls armed with spears and carrying shields ambushed the group from the west. Once again the party’s superior fighting prowess came through and they emerged victorious.

After the battle the party stopped to rest and investigate the area. They recovered a handful of gold and a small topaz gem. Varis decided to check out the disgusting holding pen that had held the hyenas. Wading through urine soaked straw, offal, and rotten food proved to be a foul task. Varis’s gamble paid off however when he recovered a magic cloak under all of the refuse.

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Thunderspire Labyrinth Session 14
Into the Well of Demons

Varis took a tentative step forward, bow at the ready and arrow notched. He swore under his breath wishing that Immeral and Medrash would quit their incessant bickering. The elf tried to tune them out and focus on the chamber ahead, straining his eyes and ears. Just beyond the edge of their dim light he was able to discern the shape of a large pillar that loomed up to the ceiling overhead. The pillar was carved with the huge leering face of a minotaur. While Immeral and Medrash argued over what to do next, Varis stepped into the room. A deep booming voice called out to him.

“Greetings, seekers of Baphomet’s boundless glory. Those who prove unworthy of his attention shall be claimed forever as his slaves. Those who prove worthy shall be granted power beyond mortal reckoning. Mask, bell, blade, and tome.”

As the voice died away Varis spotted a small pale figure lurking behind the pillar. Before Varis could call out a warning, the creature’s tentacle like arm stretched out and Varis could feel it’s powerful hand wrapping around his throat. The elf struggled for a breath, eyes bulging as the creature continued to tighten it’s grip. The stone tiled floor under foot began to tremble and shake. Suddenly more tentacles, much larger this time, burst from the ground throwing dirt and tiles aside. Varis could hear the shouts of his companions behind him. He only hoped he could free himself to aid them before he blacked out.

After defeating Tal Lorvas the party regrouped back at the Lucky Gnome to report back to Kelson. Kelson questioned them intently claiming that Sinruth was especially interested in any artifacts they may have recovered. The group feigned ignorance and did not the mention the ring with the marking of Zehir that they found or the fact that they destroyed it. As promised, Kelson confirmed that Sinruth had forgiven them for missing the match in the Bloody Hole and instructed them to return next week for another match.

The party traveled back to Thunderspire Labyrinth and the Seven Pillared Hall, returned the mules and wagons they had rented from Bersk the Wainwright, and reported back to Orontor. They showed him the letters they had recovered linking Paldemar to the Blackfang Gnolls. Orontor thanked them and urged them to continue their investigations.

Shardon spotted Charrak the kobold as they were leaving the custom house and stopped to question him. Charrak informed him that the citizens of the Seven Pillared Hall were uneasy as the frequency of gnoll attacks near the hall had increased over the last couple of days. He also mentioned that Ulthand Deepgem seemed to be rather depressed for a dwarf.

The party headed over to Ulthand’s shop and found him behind the counter distraught. It seemed that the gnolls had attacked one of his expeditions and made off with his prized pet boar. The party agreed to keep an eye out for the creature.

Finally, the companions headed to the Well of Demons, the lair of the Blackfang Gnolls. In the first chamber, the party encountered a strange voice that seemed to deliver a warning to those seeking the favor of Baphomet. Suddenly the party was ambushed by chokers, a ghoul, and a strange tentacled beast. They group emerged victorious after a tough battle.

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Thunderspire Labyrinth Session 13
Tomb of the Tiefling Empress

The monster towered over them, a mass of corrupted flesh. It’s grotesque bulbous torso sloshed with decomposing entrails like a wine skin threatening to burst open. A hulking undead brute that felt no pain, no emotion except rage. In a surprising display of speed the creature had beaten Varis down to the ground with his mighty fists leaving the elf sprawled out on the ground and visibly shaken.

Medrash rushed forward to intercept the creature. Immeral was in the hallway keeping the decrepit skeletal warriors at bay while Balasar harrangued the wizard they had been charged to stop. Medrash called out to Kord determined to show the undead creature that his strength was no match for the strength of the living, for the strength granted by Kord to a worthy combatant. The creature howeled in rage and pain at Medrash’s challenge. The paladin brought his shield up to fend off the zombie’s powerful blows. The shield shuddered and Medrash’s arm ached from the incessant pounding. Kord had blessed the paladin however, and just as he felt his knee begin to buckle the dragonborn saw his opening. He raised his shield and brought his longsword up under it piercing the creatures groin and slashing, ripping upward in a spew of foul, maggot ridden gore. Medrash bellowed in triumph as the creature fell. He still had time to assist Balasar. He moved to join the fight but stopped cold when he sensed movement behind him. Turning back to where the creature lay, Medrash stared in horror as the abominable creature began lumbering back to it’s feet.

After defeating the wyverns, the party continued on to Fallcrest in their mule driven carts along with the rescued Riverdown slaves. The storm continued to rage and slowed their progress such that they were not able to arrive back in Fallcrest in time for their scheduled arena battle. Cole informed them that he could lead the rescued slaves back to Riverdown and with a heartfelt thanks the villagers departed. Mikail and Shardon tended to some other personal business in the town while Medrash, Immeral, Varis, and Balasar headed down to Low Town and the Lucky Gnome to see if they could find some way to appease Sinruth for missing the match.

The owner, Kelson, an obese, foul-mouthed man offered his services as manager for 30% of their winnings. He claimed that his inside connections within Sinruth’s organization would allow him to smooth over the offense. He also promised that with him acting as their manager he could help set up advantageous matches and provide advance information to the team about what to expect. Kelson hinted that perhaps Sinruth was not just a mere crime lord or wizard. He claimed that no one had seen the wizard out in sunlight and there were strange rumors about what happened to the bodies of the defeated arena combats. After talking Kelson down to 15% the party agreed to hire him.

A few hours later Kelson returned with the news that Sinruth was willing to forgive them for a price. Sinruth had received word that a rival mage, Tal Lorvas had located an ancient tomb of Empress Nemeia dating back to the height of the tiefling empire. Tal Lorvas planned to raid the tomb and Sinruth wanted him stopped for reasons that he would not reveal. If they agreed then Sinruth would forget their disrespect, but would expect them to return to the arena for the next matches. The four companions agreed to take down Tal Lorvas.

Following a map provided by Kelson the companions found the tomb with it’s large stone door already smashed open. Inside the party overcame insidious traps and undead creatures and finally confronted the mage and defeated him. From Tal Lorvas they recovered an ancient ring with the markings of Zehir. Immeral decided to destroy the ring and threw it into one of the large braziers nearby. The group headed back to Fallcrest to report their success and regroup with Mikail and Shardon.

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Thunderspire Labyrinth Session 12
Wyvern Attack

The group returned one last time to the Horned Hold. They discovered a ruined shrine haunted by some wights which they were able to dispatch. They also explored an ancient minotaur crypt. Among the ruines and decrepit carcasses they found one small amulet ingraved with the evil symbol of Baphomet. Against the advice of the other party members, Immeral decided to keep the amulet.

The party traveled back to the Seven Pillared Hall, picked up the Riverdown slaves, and headed out to Fallcrest with their rented mules and wagons.

Outside a nasty storm was brewing. The group found themselves traveling down the mountain road in driving rain and wind. Shardon caught a glimpse of dark shapes flying in the low clouds and a strange screech could be heared over the howling wind. Suddenly two wyverns swooped down on the caravan and attacked. One of the creatures tried to grab one the mules in the lead cart. With the wagon sliding toward the edge of the cliff, Medrash quickly pushed the Riverdown villagers out of the back. Meagan screamed as the second wyvern dove down toward them. Panicking, she began running along the road.

Meanwhile a well-placed sleep spell from Immeral had incapacitated the first wyvern. Shardon, Balasar, and Varis moved in to finish it off.

Mikail was able to grab Meagan and shield her from the remaining wyvern’s attack. Medrash called upon the might of Kord and slaughtered the creature. Meagan, forgetting her fear of the dragonborn rushed to hug him in thanks for saving her life. One of the mules lay dying, but Medrash was able to revive it with some prayers. The group fixed the damage done to the wagons and continued on their way to Fallcrest.

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Thunderspire Labyrinth Session 11
Ambush

After defeating the guards, the party freed the slaves held within the dry wells including Cole, who seemed to be the leader of the captives, and Meagan, a nine year old girl that found the dragonborn adventurers scary. Cole told the group that they were indeed the captured folk from Riverdown, but that two of them had been sold to some gnolls. One of the sold slaves was Y’salla, Magnus’s mother.

After escorting the slaves back to the Seven Pillared Hall the adventurers made arrangements for temporary quarters for them. The group planned to make sure the hold was cleared out before traveling with the Riverdown folk to Fallcrest.

Charrak found the party and said that the strange tieflings had returned briefly. This time they paid Charrak to deliver a note to the group.

Your actions against the duergar are commendable. I am in a position of power in the evil organization behind the duergar’s actions, and I wish to help you defeat my comrades. I have been seeking a way out of the organization, and I believe you can help me. Follow the attached map so that we can meet in secret.

The group expected a trap but decided to follow the note to the meeting place anyway.

The found themselves approaching a dead end cavern chamber. Varis spotted some figures standing on a ledge overlooking the chamber and warned the party. However, a large bronze colored construct rolled a boulder into the entrance which separated the party and blocked the only exit. The tieflings pummeled the adventurers with magic while the warder brutally attacked them with his axe. Using their wits and brawn, the companions defeated their assailants.

They found a leather satchel on one of the tieflings that contained three scrolls. The scrolls turned out to be two letters and a rough map to an area called the Well of Demons. Someone had written the work “Blackfangs” next to the area.

The first letter read:

I don’t care how you do it, but deal with these adventurers. Take one of the bronze warders if you must. If they remain in the Labyrinth, they could disrupt my plans. Once you’ve dealt with them, deliver their bodies to our gnoll friends, along with the enclosed scroll.

Paldemar

The second letter read:

To Maldrick Scarmaker, Exalted Chieftain of the Blackfangs and Chosen of Yeenoghu: Paldemar offers you the corpses of these champions as a gift of ongoing friendship, that our arrangement might continue to be mutually beneficial. May you savor their blood.

Your friend and ally, Paldemar

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Thunderspire Labyrinth Session 10
Murkelmor

The party continued clearing out the 3rd tower. They encounterd Murkelmor in his chambers and defeated him in a fearsome battle.

In a chamber near by they found three large wells. Two of the wells had been drained of water and were being used as holding cells for the slaves. The slaves were being watched over by some duergar and a couple of spined devils. The party attacked and took the foul creatures down.

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Thunderspire Labyrinth Session 9
Hackin' and Slashin'

The party battled their way into the third tower. They encountered duergar, orcs, strange animated arbalesters and left a trail of gore and destruction in their wake.

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Thunderspire Labyrinth Session 8
Cube of Horrors

After defeating the duergar in the great hall, the party returned to the slaves hidden in the storeroom. They introduced themselves as Arum, Bessa, and Calder. The group decided the prudent thing to do would be to escort the three captives back to the Seven Pillared Hall.

The trip back to the hall was uneventful. Erra Halfmoon agreed to put the freed slaves up in the Halfmoon Inn in exchange for helping out around the place. They eargerly agreed.

The party decided to rest up in the inn before tackling another excursion into the Horned Hold. The next day, Brugg found them and escorted them to Orontor. Orontor questioned them about the events in the Grimmerzhul Trading Post. He said that he had heard troglodytes had ransacked the place, but something about that story didn’t ring true. The companions fessed up to what had happened and showed Orontor the letters they had found linking the Grimmerzhul clan to slaving activities. Oronotor decided to let the matter go since the group was doing a favor for the Mages of Saruun. He cautioned them to be bit more careful in the future and said that he would encourage the belief that the deed had been done by the trogs.

Immeral asked Orontor about a bone scepter that they had found within the Horned Hold. Orontor indicated that he was not interested, but mentioned that Gendar a drow merchant usually dealt in such items.

The group headed over the Gendar’s Curios and Relics to talk to the drow. Gendar was quite interested in the scepter. In fact he indicated that he had once possessed the scepter but it had been stolen from him by the duergar. He thanked and rewared the group for returning it to him.

The party then headed back to the Horned Hold. Along the way they were ambushed by a gelatinous cube and some wraiths that seemed to be trailing it. Several of the companions became engulfed by the cube, including Shardon who managed to snatch and ancient stone tablet that was floating around inside the creature. He escaped from the cube only to find the wraiths relentless in their pursuit of him.

Eventually the party won out. Taking a breather, they looked over the stone tablet. It appeared to detail a secret chamber deep within the labyrinth that could be a key to recovering untold riches.

Back at the Horned Hold the companions saw that the front gate had once again been reinforced by new sentries. The group eventually battled there way back inside and headed toward the third keep.

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Thunderspire Labyrinth Session 7
Kitchen Slaves

Back at the Seven Pillared Hall, the party was approached by Charrak the kobold. He claimed that a couple of tieflings had come to the hold asking where they could find the adventurers. Charrak said they also questioned him, but he had acted ignorant and sent them on their way. The party thanked the kobold and gave hime some coins then headed to the Halfmoon Inn for some rest.

The party also asked Rendil if he had seen anything and the halfling confirmed Charrak’s story about the mysterious tieflings.

Rested up the party traveled back to the Horned Hold and continued their assault. They found the the front gate had not been repaired but had been reinforced with new guards. They once again fought their way inside and headed to the second keep.

Eventually they found a kitchen being worked by three human slaves, Arum, Bessa, and Calder. They questioned the slaves about what to expect in the next room and then hid them away in a storeroom. The group then charged into the great hall and attacked and killed the duergar Rundarr and his guards and scouts.

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