Friday, 7 November 2014

PotS 1x07 - The Catacombs' True Evil

These posts are from our DnD group's latest game. The current adventure is a return to the world of Eberron, and specifically Xen'drik.  The crew sent a forward party into the Catacombs below the ruins...and found themselves trapped with a variety of unfriendly undead! 

Lost Beneath the Earth
With no connection to the watchtower, Kami and her small crew had to camp overnight in the catacombs. It had not gone well - Hassan's fever continued to rage, and Ogg's illness returned so much that, by morning, he could barely stand.

Fortunately, the Kaapiot Four recovered their strength as the party rested, and as they were packing up their meagre camp, the Kaapiots managed to send one more person in to join them - Urquilla.

The scaled barbarian came with unsettling news - the watchtower's view was clouded when trying to focus on the catacombs, and could not pinpoint those inside (which was necessary to extract them). Indeed, moments after his arrival, Urquilla lost his connection with the dwarven quartet, and realised that he, too, was now trapped.

Desecrating Graves
There was no other decision but to press onwards, so the group forced their way through another stone door, and found themselves in the Dragonslayer's Tomb. In here, special honour was given to those who had fought against the dragons. heavy curtains made with the hides of their foes decorated the chamber - and created large areas of darkness, perfect for creatures to lurk behind.

Hassan made the unfortunate discovery of Onatar's presence - or some residual magic, they couldn't really be sure - as he was struck down with a second curse after disturbing one of the tombs. And then, the ghouls struck.

With his health already shaky, Hassan was hard pressed to fight back the turned paladins, though with Tvennr's aid, they succeeded. The wraiths were more troublesome, as the two dark shadows played with them, using hit-and-run tactics for optimal damage. Urquilla's Winter Fury aided them well, as he locked down the shifty sprites, allowing the others to better battle against the threat. Kami was quick to dismiss the fragments left behind, and in the moments that followed, the group carefully planned their next move - how to best stay alive.

A Bowl, and a Room of Khyber
Putting the ghoulish paladins back to rest seemed to gain some forgiveness for Hassan, his body recovering from both curses whilst the group also found a second Sacred Vessel - Onatar's Bowl. Kami's keen eyes also found a secret alcove they had overlooked earlier. Within was a small room, with two other passageways leading back to previous areas of the catacombs. More interestingly were the rough Khyber shards decorating the walls..and the bodies of three more knights, long dead.

The room promised to give great strength to those who remained within it, but they could tell that there was more - a frantic frenzy, a mindless rage, that could cause those within to attack allies as if they were hated foes. They did not spend long in the room, and left with the only thing of worth - three topazes, infused with a taste of the room's strength (and hopefully not its madness).

The Tainted Pirate
The Final Battle

The next chamber - thankfully, the final chamber of these catacombs - was immense. It seemed to hold the remains of the leaders of the abbey, along with many, many of its other important individuals. Sadly, it was no longer a place of reflection and reverence - Khyber's foul presence had influenced it for the worse. As they gazed about, trying to pierce the darkness before them, a glowing figure moved forward. Hook and peg-leg aside, the figure could only be Hawes, the pirate Kami had been warned of.

With him moved a slippery vampire and her spawn, whilst a dark shadow of a dragon lurched and glided overhead. Ogg, not able to do much else, took on the spawn, allowing Tvennr to rip into the vampire, whilst the others assaulted Hawes and his tamed dragon essence.

The fight was brutal, but Tvennr's axes were worse. The vampire barely had time to scratch him before she was reduced to her corrosive mist, and sent seeping from the chamber. Disposing of the underlings, Ogg carefully moved to track her, following her back to her chamber, and ensuring she did not rise again.

Hawes proved more difficult, and slippery, using the power of three cards he had collected to thwart and confuse the party. More than once he dodged a potentially fatal blow, and even convinced Urquilla to charge headlong at Hassan at a critical point in the battle. The shadow dragon continued to swoop and bite at those below it until the fallen pirate was finally silenced. With his grip on the dragon loosened, it howled in frustration one last time, then glided through the far wall, not to return again.

Visions Come to Pass
The chamber had little else in it, but for the Khyber shard growths that moved to warp everything. Lying discarded in a bunch of rags was a blade, which sung out to Urquilla, and shone with the moon's light as he approached. It could only be the weapon Jillepse the Blind had foretold!

Collecting the cards and disrupting as much of the shards as possible (lest more undead be formed from those resting here), the group moved to track down Ogg. Eventually, they found him outside another hidden room - a tomb holding the remains of knights who had also been seduced by the call of Khyber. Clearly, this was no new threat - the order of old must have had some expectation, or perhaps a defence, against it.

Within the hidden chamber, they found the vampire resting, recovering. The lid of her sarcophagus bore the image of a female eladrin, clad in plate mail. She held a long bastard sword atop her body, her gauntleted hands crossed over its pommel. It was a good likeness, though the Khyber presence had twisted and changed her over the years. The sarcophagus also had her name engraved on the side: Aidelvenne Velfarren.

After doing what was needed, the party settled down and waited for the Khyber presence to fade, for the interference to lessen, and for the Watchtower to retrieve them. Though it took many hours, there was joy and relief as the familiar presence touched their minds, and fresh air swept across their faces.

But the relief did not last long. "Quick! Stand ready!" the cry came. "They will be on us in minutes!"

All around them, people moved in a panic. People they didn't recognise. People wearing uniforms, carrying tools and weapons. People with a familiar insignia.

Before they could get a proper bearing on what was happening, a friendly face finally found them. "Stand, arm yourselves! The dragons will arrive soon!" Cousin Walid shouted at them, fear and concern on his face. "We have no time - we must defend the watchtower!"

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