Tales of Valor

Gloomwrought Session 1
The Ghost Ship

After leaving Magrock, Morribael explained that they were heading for the Shadowfell city of Gloomwrought to locate another artifact. Soon the party found themselves sailing the dark and turbulent waters of The Stormy Sea in the Shadowfell. A few days out from the city port they were overtaken by a ghostly ship. Soon they found themselves in a ship to ship battle against skeletons and wraiths. The battle was hard fought, but the party soon won out and secured the ghost ship. They were soon back on their way to Gloomwrought towing the ghost ship behind them.

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The Iron Crown

While sailing on the Astral Sea the party had a chance to explore the ship and ask Morribael a few questions. Morribael explained that the ship was able to travel to the Astral Sea, the Mortal Realm, and the Shadowfell. It currently could not travel to the Elemental Chaos or the Feywild. He also explained that the ship was restricted by the physical laws of whatever realm it traveled in. Hence, while in the Mortal Realm it traveled as a sea-faring vessel.

Morribael also revealed that they were currently traveling to small demi-plane called Magrock in search of an artifact known as The Iron Crown. Magrock consists of a single ancient island surrounded by a purple sea. It once was a part of the Abyss and ruled over by a clan of fire giants. The giants managed to create a planar bridge to the Mortal Realm and used it to capture mortals as slaves. Enraged by this, the gods of Celestia tore Magrock from the Abyss and flung it into the Astral Sea. However this temporarily created a breach to the Far Realm and something malicious crossed over. No sign of the Fire Giants has been seen in a millennia, yet no acquisition team sent there has ever returned.

While traveling the party saw no sign of the captain of the Wraithwind although they occasionally heard mournful stringed music coming from the captain’s chambers. While Morribael was distracted, Shardon decided to take a peek into the captain’s chambers. He found a large wooden chair in the center of the room. Sitting in the chair was strange female of an unknown race. She was bald except for a long black ponytail. Her face was dotted by strange markings like tattoos and her ears ended in points. There was a bizarre contraption attached to the ceiling that appeared to be celestial orbs rotating around each other. Black tubes ran from the contraption to the woman’s head. Suddenly her eyes snapped opened, looking directly at Shardon. Although her lips did not move, Shardon heard a female voice whisper, “Not yet, little one”. The halfling then blacked out and found himself standing at the bow of the ship when he came to as they were approaching Magrock.

Magrock appeared to be a flat plane floating in the Abyss. The mountainous island dominated the center while a purple sea fell off the edge to the nothingness below. As they entered the plane, the stars overhead appeared to race across the sky. A cracked and broken road led up the mountain, past a ruined settlement and up to the base of a black iron tower.

The party investigated the ruins first and found no signs of the giants or any one else. They did find that several of the structures had perfectly round holes through them about 8 feet in diameter. The holes were so smooth it did not appear as if they could have been carved or blasted.

At the tower, they also found an identical hole where the doors used to be. Cautiously they entered into what appeared to have been a giant lord’s throne room. A huge stone throne dominated the room. Behind the throne some old curtains had been torn away to reveal some ancient levers. Another one of the strange holes was in the center of the floor.

As they approached a vile beholder rose from the hole to attack. The party kept it distracted while Shardon worked the levers to raise the throne and reveal the Iron Crown. The fight was not going well, so the companions stashed the crown into a bag of holding a made a run for it, escaping to the boat with the crown in tow.

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The Last Breaths of Ashenport Session 6
The Black Ship

Exploring the rest of the cave, the companions soon found themselves in a large chamber dominated on one end by a churning pool of water that led out to the sea. The chamber was filled with more of the mysterious statues. Near the pool, another altar to Dagon had been constructed from stone. Three demonic looking sea creatures moved to attack and a large multi-tentacled creature rose from the surface, apparently the source of the strange calls that had driven many to their deaths.

The party soon defeated the creatures, including the aspect of Dagon. Out to sea a cry of rage and fury could be heard but soon faded to nothingness.

The group investigated the cavern and found a cache of treasure under the altar. Included in the treasure was a strange wooden box lined with black velvet. In the box was a twelve sided, copper colored, metal dodecahedron about the size of a human head. Immeral lifted the artifact out of the box and immediately long metallic tentacles formed out of the object and implanted into the sides of the wizard’s head. Immeral’s mouth and eyes glowed with arcane magic and an image was projected into the air of a floating skull with gems in its eye sockets. The projection identified itself as the demi-lich Acererak.

Acererak explained that the Dodecahedron was now tuned to the companions and that they would be randomly imprisoned in the device or set free entirely at the whims of the evil demi-lich. What his true purpose was, the group could not ascertain but it was quite clear that Acererak was completely mad.

The party left the cave and returned to town. There, they found that the citizens had set fire to the town and then drowned themselves in the sea. They also noticed a black decrepit looking ship sailing into the harbor.

The merchants met with the party, each with an offer to entice the party to travel with them. Terza Goldleaf offered them employment with the Goldleaf Consortium. She claimed that the Consortium paid very well and had extra-planar connections. Mathias Creel offered to take the party to Diyun, The Hanging City. He claimed that his organization specialized in researching powerful wizards.

Meanwhile Balasar went down to the docks to investigate the ship. He found that the lines and sails appeared to be worked by invisible hands. The only crew to be found was a large minotaur in sailing garb. As Balasar approached the minotaur seemed to know him and called him by name. He told Balasar that they would set sail in an hour and to get his gear stowed aboard. Seeing Balasar’s confusion, the minotaur introduced himself as Morribael and explained that he was getting his timelines messed up. He offers them a job as the ship’s acquisition specialists. He says that their responsibility would be to recover powerful artifacts for the ship’s captain, Graz Vorkane. Their payment would be permission to keep whatever other treasures they might recover on their journeys.

Discussing their options, the party decided to sign up with Morribael and soon boarded the black ship, Wraithwind. Once underway, Morribael explained that the ship was actually capable of sailing between planes by sailing along the Astral Sea. The ship transformed into a beautiful vessel as the sea faded away into blackness and stars.

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The Last Breaths of Ashenport Session 5
Madness

The grotesquely transformed figure of Althanis cackled in the darkness of the damp cave. Wisps of magic running from his slimy fingers to Mikail’s face were just beginning to dissipate. Mikail staggered backwards wiping at his blinded eyes.

“I told you fools that this was not over!”, croaked the high priest of Dagon.

Medrash swore an oath to Kord, the god of strength and battle. He pulled his sword out of the disemboweled fish man, flicking it sharply downward and spattering the clinging giblets to the ground. Pointing his blade toward Althanis who stood a few yards away he cried, “Kord! Punish this weakling!”

Blue-white lightning crackled along the length of Medrash’s weapon and streaked across the cave. The divine power struck the priest full in the chest. He doubled over, shrieking in pain as electrical arcs coursed over and through his body.

The paladin had little time to take satisfaction in the sight before a new threat presented itself.

He heard it first. The sound of a thousand voices babbling incoherently. It was a terrible cacophony, threatening to wrack his mind with insanity. He scanned the cave furtively and finally located the source. An amorphous blob of bulging flesh flipped and flopped across the ceiling of the cave. The creature was covered in hundreds of gibbering mouths and bulging red-veined eyes.

Medrash stared back in horror. He had no fear from threats of magic, steel, or flesh. But this? This was madness!

The party was weary and battered after the battle in the shrine. However, they decided to go ahead and search the room before finding a safe spot to recover. Shardon searched the dark altar and discovered 1100 gold pieces, an Amulet of Protection, and a pair of Bloadsoaked Bracers.

Next they experimented with the statues and discovered that they could use them to teleport from statue to statue safely. Unfortunately Mikail also decided it would be a good idea to vandalize one the statues After breaking a small chunk off the nearest statue, Mikail disappeared in a flash of light.

The rest of the party followed suit, rationalizing that Mikail had probably been teleported somewhere. Indeed the party found themselves together again in a dark cave. They had little time to gather their senses before being attacked by a group of fish men.

As they were finishing off the fish men they were also attacked by a gibbering mouther. The group decided that they did not have the strength left to face the new threat and used the statue to teleport back to the shrine.

Back at the shrine, they decided to finally find a place to rest. They headed back to one of the bed chambers they had found earlier. Immeral cast a ritual on the door to place an arcane lock on it and the party settled down for some much needed rest.

Afterward they used the statues to teleport back to the cave. They found that the area near the statue had been reinforced and they faced even more fish men, Althanis himself, and the gibbering mouther. Refreshed from their rest, the group made short work of their enemies and prepared to explore the rest of the cave.

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The Last Breaths of Ashenport Session 4
Confrontation

It was such a simple thing really. A chest made of wood. Oak, actually. Shardon approached it gingerly to study the thing from all sides careful not to touch it. Not yet.

The already sturdy wood was hardened with age. A dark stain had been worked into the grain so that it appeared almost black in the dim light. The metal bandings wore a slight green patina in some places. Various dents and scuffs indicated that it was probably well traveled. The nautical markings on the back suggested that it was once a ship board locker. There was a blotch on the right that could be a scorch mark, as if it was once rescued from a nearby blaze.

Just a simple chest, but to Shardon it was a thing a beauty. Like all such chests, locked and guarded in the dark places of the world, it held such potential. What would he find, riches or ruin? One miscalculation, one notch overlooked, and this could be the last such chest he ever looked upon.

The halfling took a deep breath. Satisfied with his visual inspection, he ran his hands lightly over the surface. The wood was extremely smooth from many years of wear. Here there was a small nick. Here a slight depression perhaps from some warping of the planks. Along the bandings he felt the slight ripples from the smith’s hammer. What was this? One of the bandings along the curved top felt out of place. The ripples followed a different pattern from the rest. Studying it closer, Shardon deduced that the original banding had been replaced some years after the chest was first created.

Shardon moved on to study the lock. It was a good size. Not so large as to be ostentatious but big enough to do the job. He also knew that the mechanism wasn’t particularly complex. He had seen others like this. It had originated from a locksmith in the southern realms some years ago. It was likely over one hundred years old.

Shardon pulled out his tools, gave the thing another once over, and went to work. It was effortless, really. With one hand he gently worked the tumblers, with the other he gave a slight twist. The lock came free with a click and the halfling winced involuntarily as if expecting the worst.

Slowly he lifted the lock free from the clasp. He was confident that he hadn’t missed anything. There were no needle holes, no poison gas vents, no arcane runes that would spell his doom. Yet a tiny part of him wondered if his next action would be his last.

“Oh well,” he though. “At least it’s been fun.”
He opened the heavy lid with both hands. The iron hinges groaned in complaint. Then… nothing.

Shardon opened his eyes. Light reflected all around him in thousands of mesmerizing iridescent colors.

The chest was full of gems.

In the hallway beyond the secret door, the companions dealt with spiked floor traps and strange motes of light that seared their flesh. Shardon dealt with the floor traps while the rest of the party handled the motes. The source of the motes was a pair of sea snakes carved into the nearby wall. By smashing the sculptures they were able to dispel the motes.

Moving on, the party found a dark bed chamber full of musty tomes and containing a locked chest. Immeral scanned the bookshelves and found three manuscripts of interest, Daemons and Their Ilk, Abyssal Numerology and Symbolism as Applied to Mortal Conjurations, and Iggwilv’s Demonomicon. Shardon studied the chest and determined that it was not trapped. He picked the lock and opened it finding 3000gp worth of gems, a Whistle of Warning, Battle Standard of the Hungry Blade, Boots of Eagerness, and Unfettered Thieves’ Tools.

Finally the party discovered a shrine to Dagon and interrupted a ritual in progress. The head of the cult, Althanis, urged them to lay down their arms and join in the veneration of Dagon. The party refused and moved in to attack.

The ensuing battle was a tough one. The party fought multiple fish men, Althanis and his spells, and Althanis’s assistant who also wielded various spells. To make matters worse, their enemies were able to use the various statues located around the shrine to teleport from place to place. Eventually the odds tipped in favor of the heroes. Sensing this Althanis fled from the shrine with the warning, “This is not over!”.

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The Last Breaths of Ashenport Session 3
Descent

Balasar roared ferociously, swung his ax in a wide arc up over his head and split the fish man’s skull, showering himself in bones, blood, and brain matter. The dragonborn’s grin widened.

Two more of the creatures approached. One from Balasar’s right, the other from behind. Balasar brought an elbow up sharply, smashing the right one in the face. He then spun low to his left and around, driving his ax into the other fish man, taking his legs out at the knees with a sickening crunch. He followed through with the momentum of his deadly ax, bringing it up toward the first creature and severing its arm at the shoulder. Blood spewed in every direction as the creature writhed in agony. Balasar brought his boot up and kicked the fish man in the chest, sending him thudding to the floor. He figured his companions could finish it off.

Balasar enjoyed adventuring with his companions despite their penchant for wasting time in discussion or investigation. Each of them were formidable in their own right. However, when it came to bringing wrath and destruction to their enemies, Balasar had no equal. In his view, the others lacked the purity of purpose he held. Shardon relied on subterfuge. Mikail had his tactics. Immeral was a coward that hid behind magic. He could never trust the wizard. While he did respect Medrash’s martial abilities, he viewed them as inferior to his own, partially because the paladin relied on divine guidance. Balasar had no need of trickery, spells, or help from the gods. He had his ax, his sinews, and his rage. It was enough.

They had spent enough time investigating groves of trees and interrogating old men. He had endured it, knowing that soon his ax would be able to quench its thirst in blood. Eventually they had learned of the the cultists plans and found the secret entrance to the chambers under the church. Now the path was clear; find the cultists and kill every last one of them. It would be glorious.

The companions headed toward the Gleaming Dawn Church after the fight with the fish men. The church sat high atop a hill overlooking the town. A set of stone steps led up to it. As the party looked up they saw two dark robed figures looking down at them silhouetted against the flashing lightning. Quickly the two figures entered the church.

The party found the church empty except for a few burning candles. The interior suggested that the church was dedicated to Melora and Pelor. Medrash pointed out that many of the vestments and religious artifacts appeared to be rarely used. Searching around, Shardon found a secret spiral staircase heading down. The companions descended down the dark stairs.

At the bottom of the stairs they found a stone entry hall with several doors leading out of it. It wasn’t long before fish men were entering through the doors and attacking the group from all sides. The group went to work and dispatched the creatures. Investigating the doors, they found a bed chamber and a religious treatise on the worship of Dagon. They also found two staircases heading further down.

Following one of the staircases they eventually came to large room with a black curtain running down the middle. There they found themselves in fight against fish men, brutish thugs, and cultists wielding spells. Again, the group were victorious.

Immeral found a couple of ritual scrolls in a nearby bookcase. The group also found another set of stairs heading down. Finally, Shardon uncovered a secret door on the eastern wall. Opening the door they found a dark corridor running north and south. It was covered in carving of strange and horrific sea monsters. Shardon halted the group before anyone could enter the hallway. It was also covered with traps.

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The Last Breaths of Ashenport Session 2
Discoveries

The creature shambled toward them through the dense veil of the driving rain. It was a horrid thing. A creature beyond the imaginings of any sane soul. Covered in slimy scales, peering with unblinking, bulging eyes, and secreting a vile stench of rotting fish. It’s mouth constantly gaped open and closed although a faint croak was the only sound it made. Holding a trident out menacingly before it, its intent was clear.

Immeral glanced at his companions. Each one of them stared stupidly toward the sea and began to make their way slowly toward the waves. Obviously the strange call from the sea had addled their brains.

“Fools”, thought Immeral. “Why do I continue to travel with such imbeciles?” He considered blasting them all, fish men and companions alike, with a fiery spell. He thought better of it however and moved in to try and wake Mikail, risking life and limb in the process.

After the battle with the cultists, the companions continued to the ash grove to investigate. Hacking their way toward the center of the grove, they found a small statue to Melora. The sight of the statue gave them some relief until they noticed that it had been defaced some time ago by ax and blade. Obviously the worship of Melora had been a central focus of the town at one point. Now, however, it seemed she wasn’t as highly regarded.

Upon exiting the grove the party noticed some movement behind the curtains of a seemingly vacant house. They decided to approach the house and see if they could ask the occupant some questions. After some incessant knocking the door was finally opened by a frail looking elderly human. At first he claimed ignorance about what was happening. Eventually he gave in to some insistent questioning and revealed some information. The town was apparently dedicated to the worship of Dagon, Lord of the Deep, Bringer of Madness. Dagon blessed the town with prosperity from the ocean. The leaders of the town were also the head of the cult and had headed up the hill to the the Gleaming Dawn Church to prepare an annual ritual.

As they were leaving the house the call from the sea rose up again. Immeral was the lone member of the party that did not succumb to the mesmerizing call. The rest of the group began heading slowly toward the sea. To make matters worse, horrible fish like humanoids approached them with murderous intent.

Immeral managed to snap a few of his companions out of their stupor with a sharp blow to the head. Eventually all of the companions were back to their senses and helping to fight the fish men. After the battle they investigated their fallen foes. They discovered that one of the fish men bared a gold leaf tattoo identical to those worn by the guards of the Goldleaf Consortium trade guild. This must have been one of the guards that had drowned himself in the sea earlier that morning!

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The Last Breaths of Ashenport Session 1
Arrival

Mikail stood on the crest of a small hill overlooking the town of Ashenport. He briefly wondered what had ever compelled the companions to travel through this forlorn region to seek out the dreary, isolated town below him. He already knew the answer to that, however. Greed.

They had come to remote seaside village chasing rumors of an annual trade fair that featured ancient and powerful artifacts fished out of the ocean. They were simply there looking to add to their already formidable collection of gear. Questions about how such a provincial community came by such items were far from their minds.

So they stood in the most intense storm they had ever experienced looking down on the lonely and depressing fishing community. Although it was midday it might as well have been late evening by the amount of light filtering through the heavy dark clouds. Thunder rumbled, lightning flashed, and the torrential downpour beat down on them. Mikail gathered his cloak around him, what little good it did.

“Well”, he thought to himself, “nothing good is likely to come of this. Best get on with it then.”

Deciding to follow up on the rumors they heard of a spectacular trade fair, the party traveled to the remote seaside town of Ashenport. Most of the trip was pleasant enough. However, while still about a day’s journey from the town, an immense thunderstorm set in. The storm was still raging as they entered the town.

The first place they visited was The Bountiful Tide General Store, hoping to get some early shopping in. Inside they met Lena the shopkeeper, a pleasant elderly woman. She mentioned to them that the trade fair was still on, but that the town’s leaders had decided to postpone the start until the storm blew over. In the meantime they were welcome to check out the wares of her store. Not finding anything of interest the party moved on.

Next the party decided to visit The Smooth Sailing Inn and Tavern for some food, drink, and a bed. Inside they found several other fellow travelers that were also staying in Ashenport for the fair. Most of the interesting patrons turned out to merchants seeking exclusive trading rights along with their retinues of advisers and guards. Among these were Terza from the Goldleaf Consortium, Matthias Creel representing Surrens, Creel, and Blackwell, and Jandal Phen and independent jeweler and sculptor.

Immeral managed to sell some evil artifacts of Baphomet to Matthias Creel for a decent sum. The transaction seemed to catch the eye of the strange staff of the inn, but eventually they went back to their business. Finally, after spending some time swapping stories, the party secured a room and headed to bed.

In the early pre-dawn morning, a lonesome, sad wail echoed out over the town seeming to emanate from the sea. It started low, then rose to a high pitched keening that seemed burdened with loss and despair. More alarming, was the fact that several of the party members rose out of their beds in an apparent trance and headed out into the driving rain. Among these were Mikail, Shardon, and Balasar. They were not alone as several of the merchant guards had also risen from their slumber in an apparent trance. They all began heading to the sea. In fact, the first of the victims were already wading into the water in an apparent attempt to drown themselves.

In desperation, Immeral smacked Mikail across the face in an effort to snap him out of his stupor. This seemed to work as Mikail regained his senses. They quickly awakened the others in a similar manner as well as several of the guards. However, not before a few guards had disappeared into the tossing waves never to be seen again.

Gathering themselves back at the inn they discovered that the staff were nowhere to be found. In fact, the entire town seemed devoid of residents. Only the heroes and their fellow visitors remained. Knowing that travel in these conditions was a foolish idea, the merchants turned to the heroes and asked them to investigate the mystery of the town.

The party headed out to start their investigations. They decided to start by checking out the Ash Grove that occupied a prominent spot in the center of the town. As they approached they were ambushed by a few crazed looking townsfolk wielding weapons and spells. The party eventually dispatched of the villains and stared down at their broken bodies in the unrelenting downpour and wondered what could possibly be going on.

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Our story so far...

Since I, your chronicler, have been lax in keeping the records of the deeds of our intrepid heroes up to date, I will attempt to briefly summarize the events leading up to the fateful decision to travel to Ashenport.

Within the Well of Demons, the party finally located the four artifacts needed to complete the ritual to open the door to the Inner Sanctum. As warned by the spectral visitors, the guardian appeared upon completion of the ritual. This Guardian turned out to be a young green dragon. The party faced down wicked traps, undead, elementals and the Guardian itself and finally won entry in the Inner Sanctum.

Inside the Inner Sanctum the party managed to defeat Maldrick Scarmaker, priest of Yeenoghu and his demonic lackeys. From letters uncovered in Maldrick’s chambers they learned of the wizard Paldemar’s plans to bring down the Mages of Saruun. They also uncovered the silver key to Paldemar’s current location, The Tower of Mysteries.

The party traveled to The Tower of Mysteries. Inside they learned that Paldemar was seeking assistence from Vecna with his nefarious plans. After a few tough encounters the party finally confronted and defeated Paldemar. They returned to the Seven Pillar Hall where they were rewarded by Orontor.

Presumably, due to the traumatic events in Thunderspire Labyrinth, the party only had one other small adventure cleaning out a small temple to Bahamut from some evil squatters before seeming to retire. Eventually, however, the party’s thoughts turned back toward adventure as they overheard strange rumors from the seaside town Ashenport and it’s yearly trade fair. At this point the party consisted of Mikail, Immeral, Shardon, Balasar, and Medrash. They set off in search of adventure. Nothing could have prepared them for what they would actually find.

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Thunderspire Labyrinth Session 17
Hall of the Crimson Whip

After the encounter with the ghosts the party explored the Proving Grounds. They found one stone altar that appeared to have been recently moved. Sliding it aside, they found some loose tiles underneath. Hidden under the tiles they recovered some gold and gems.

They continued to explore the area and found a large pit in the center which they surmised is where the dragon guardian would come. They also discovered a few of the runic circles on which they would need to place the four artifacts once they were recovered.

Eventually they headed west and found a chamber of horrors. They stood on a stone platform that rose above a massive pool of dark blood. Several other platforms also stood throughout the room as well as a stone walkway traversing the center. At the far side of the chamber the party could make out the hilt and blade of a dagger resting on two separate platforms. At each end of the chamber huge stone minotaur statues stood with massive barbed whips in their hands.

The party headed into the chamber to recover the artifacts and found themselves in one of their most difficult fights yet. They overcame the stone sentinels and their barbed whips, evil demons lurking under the blood, and the poisonous blood itself and emerged from the chamber with the two items exhausted and ready to collapse.

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