The Secrets of Kaer Maga

The Newcomer

With Roa’Kkad reeling from his headache-inducing trip through the afterlife, the group decided it was best to put exploration of the depths below aside for a brief interlude. With the rag-tag adventuring companions separating and wandering about the city, Roa’Kkad turned to his friends, The Freemen. With a small slave caravan on its way into the city, Black Marin wanted to stage an ambush – hitting small enough traders quickly enough would likely fly beneath the radar of Kaer Maga’s ruling factions.

With only himself and one of the Freemen’s other agents, Nolano, Roa’Kkad sneaked into the Warrens and waited in ambush. Everything was going according to plan, until a small Ratfolk man got involved with the orcish slavers. Nezu had tried to con the largest and meanest of the orcs – and, arguably, the stupidest of them – with a game of chance. Failing to convince the brawny man of his failure and need to fork over his coins to the tiny furball, Glork slapped a pair of manacles onto the rat and continued on his way.

Jumping to the rescue, Roa’Kkad and Nolano opened up their ambush with a flurry of alchemical devices and arrows. Caught unaware, the orcs took valuable seconds to react to the attack, while Nezu slipped free. Hands free to work their magic, he set to work keeping Glork as busy as he possibly could – while Roa and Nolano handled his help.

The Warrens splattered with Orcish blood, Glork finally fell – into a deep slumber, thanks to Nezu’s efforts. With the half-dead rat and a handful of newly-escaped slaves, the group ran towards the Bottoms, home of the Freemen, victorious.

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The Mite King

With Fubar gone – possibly for good – the three remaining adventurers pressed onward into the archives of the Godsmouth Ossuary. Searching the rooms as they came, they worked their way to the northeastern corner of the level, where an animated statue defended a single chest. While filled with mostly mundane artifacts, a concealed button at the bottom of the chest opened a new passageway. Fleeing from the animated guardian, they lost it in a cloud of smoke and ducked into the newly uncovered tomb. Secreted away inside a trapped chest, the trio found a magical Starknife, designed in the style of the Sheihedron Star.

Pressing onward, the adventurers made their way into the mite-controlled section of the archives. Breaking through the side doorway with ease, Roa’Kkad led the charge into the mite’s storage room. A single mite, enjoying a snack, tried his hardest to defend the chamber – but quickly fell victim to the assault. His screams, however, alerted the rest of the mite hive to action. They surged through the door like the tide, overwhelming the heroes with sheer number rather than skill. As they fought, Roa’Kkad fought tooth and nail to stay on his feet, but eventually succumbed to the blood loss. Fighting on, Obama and Throsh fought valiantly to protect their companion – until Obama, too, fell. With his back to the wall, Throsh lashed out with his final spell, eliminating the surviving mites – and charring his friends’ unconscious bodies. With the sound of steel clanking towards him, he extinguished his lights and dove for cover – burying both himself and his friends in the pile of bodies.

In the darkness, the Mite King made his entry. Although Throsh could only see the magical aura of his armor, the burly little bastard clanked through the storage chambers before leaving with a grunt of disapproval. Working quickly, Throsh carried Obama to a safe place to rest – hoping that they could save Roa’Kkad after a quick nap…

They returned to find the bodies all missing. They charged onward, praying they were not too late to save the barbaric Shoanti. The Mite King was not at all happy to see the men that had vanquished his army. With the battle in full swing, Obama and Throsh fought to keep the Mite King from their throats. With the mite’s seemingly impenetrable armor and the weariness of battle setting in, Throsh decided to try for a slightly more diplomatic approach – offering the greedy mite the Cursed Ring of Forcefangs. Happily accepting the tribute – which Throsh insisted would enable him to resurrect his army – the foolish mite activated its powers and its talon sunk into his flesh, wracking his body with pain. Weakened and enraged, the mite gripped Throsh’s throat as the two humanoids went down into a grapple. Emerging from his hiding place beneath the table, Obama stepped up to deliver a killing blow to the mite’s back, sinking his shortsword into a weak spot in his armor.

Bloodied, but victorious, the heroes pressed on – and found Roa’Kkad in the trash heap with the other corpses. Dragging their friend to safety, they nursed him back to consciousness. High on the wings of victory, they raided the Mite King’s throne room, and left with a small pile of loot.

But such glory would not be the end of the day – for they went back to the chamber of the Wraith. Still hesitant to approach the room, Obama watched as Roa’Kkad and Throsh entered into the ghostly being’s abode. While Throsh busied himself studying the mystical font, Roa’Kkad tried to fend off the incorporeal evil. While Throsh ingested the strange fluid, Roa’Kkad’s muscles posed little resistance to the ghostly attacks. As the otherworldly cold overwhelmed his senses, Obama ran in and blinked through the air – carrying Roa to safety.

Except it was too late – Roa had fallen. Within moments, the man’s uneasy soul leaped out of its shackles and began to attack his former companions – his soul now a slave to the Wraith. Dodging the ghostly attacks of their former friend, Throsh and Obama managed to slay the vengeful spirit of Roa’Kkad, and return his soul to its relative peace. They rushed back to the Godsmouth Cathedral, begging Valanthe Nerissa to save their friend.

In exchange for their promised reward, Valanthe performed the ritual – communing with her Goddess to return the lost, traveling soul of Roa’Kkad to the mortal coil in order to serve her interests once more. Her pleas granted, Roa’Kkad sucked in his first breath in hours, life coursing through his veins once more. Sadly, however, the experience had weakened his spirit – the soul would not be able to withstand many more such journeys.

With the Archives beneath the Godsmouth Ossuary largely cleared, it remained to be seen where the party would next find itself…

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Exploration of the Archives

February 16th, 2013

Having taken a rest from their battle with the strange slime creatures lurking around the alchemy lab, the party traveled onward – without their companion Fubar. Attending to another problem deep within the tunnels, Fubar was unable to accompany his friends deeper into the Ossuary.

Instead, the trio trekked onward – and found themselves in an old guard room. A few mite corpses decorated the floor, with deep gashes cut into their chests. The men searched the room, curious of what this ancient guardsroom might hold. The answer was a particularly angry gargoyle who had been guarding the chamber for centuries. Wresting himself from his pedestal, he attacked with fervor. Despite being made of stone, the party relentlessly beat at it until its structure began to fail. In time, and with several of their own injuries to match, the creature was defeated.

They pressed onward into the guardsman’s chambers, only to discover that its resident’s spirit had lingered on. Dhegin, ghostly guard, immediately demanded to know what purpose their intrusion held. Uninterested in stories of glory or wealth, it was Obama who finally managed to befriend the spirit into telling his tale. Forsaken by his master, Xanderghul, the guardsman was accused of being a traitor and treated as such – his body mangled and thrown in with the other refuse. Infuriated by the injustice, his spirit could not pass on – unless his body could be given a proper ceremony.

Unsure of how to really help the man, the party pressed on, exploring the other sections of the archives. A pair of mites guarded a barred doorway, and while the two guards were easily dispatched, the door was not so easy to move. Further down the hall was a set of strange cages filled with odd bones – and a massive nest of angry beetles. Roa’Kkad showed off his new talents by unleashing an alchemical firestorm on the nest, crisping many of the bugs into ashes. The door nearby hid a damp and musty room, full of fungus growing on every wall. A pair of giant ticks had made their home here, but Throsh was ready for them with a gout of flame. Consumed by the fires, the ticks shriveled into mere husks.

Pushing onward once again, the trio came to a strange circular room – which appeared to be in the center of a forest. The smell of fresh sap and an otherworldly howling wind assaulted the sense as Roa’Kkad approached the strange font of liquid in the center of the forest’s clearing. Quenching himself with the liquid, an awful cold seeped into his body – just as a wraith-like creature emerged from the forest and attacked. Passing through the bulking mass of Roa’Kkad, the barbarian had little course but to flee from the strange room.

The party then entered into another crypt – this one full of skeletal figures arranged in positions of pure agony. The was little to be found in this room but dust and cobwebs… with the exception of a single magical ring, a Ring of Forcefangs. Beaten from the journey so far, they sealed the door of the crypt and laid on the relatively safe (if kind of creepy) crypt floor, preparing for the next day’s journeys.

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Deeper into the Ossuary

After a week back on the surface of Kaer Maga, the group each met with a messenger sent by Valanthe Nerissa, requesting their presence in the Godsmouth Cathedral once more. Valanthe’s mission was simple – to delve even deeper. The depths of the Ossuary were not only unsafe to her tombs, but to the whole city. To secure the crypt for Pharasma would simultaneously be securing the crypt for the city. A small pile of gold – 1000g each – sweetened the deal.

Ever eager for adventure and treasure, the four members of the motley crew found themselves once more in the depths. After greeting Yrix and bargaining for some information, they proceeded down yet another staircase. Ending in a collapsed stairwell, the party was force out onto the only available level – and immediately assaulted by a pair of spiders.

Easily dispatching them, they found a large fresco of robed, scholarly individuals all prostrating themselves before an imposing, commanding figure. On closer inspection, a hidden button in the painting made the commander slide sideways, revealing a hidden chest beyond. Obama quickly opened the chest and perused the goods.

Continuing through the ruin, the group soon found itself in a massive library – an archive of unknown knowledge. Their amazement did not last long before they were beset by a skeletal summoner, with pairs of demonic floating skulls constantly haranguing the party as their leader closed in with his axe. Valiantly fighting off the magical dead, the party spent the better part of an hour exploring the library. With its mindless (and harmless) skeletal servants, it was kept in better shape than most libraries of the surface world. Still, they didn’t prevent the group from uncovering a hidden passage behind one of the bookcases – a narrow stairway leading up. Intrigued, Roa’Kkad led the way up – and found himself in an alchemy lab.

Stepping into the lab, he had little time before he was set upon by a swarm of tiny, acidic globules. The balls of goop flowed from every cabinet, filling the room in a few seconds before they began to approach the new meat. Charing to battle, Throsh made short work of them with a surge of flame from his fingertips. A search of the lab uncovered many alchemical ingredients – but little of real value.

As the barbarian led the way into the hallway beyond, the party found a series of doorways. Throwing open one at random, Roa’Kkad found himself face to face with a skeletal defender, a strange ooze dripping from its bones. Thinking little of it, the party rushed into the small chamber, assaulting the dead from every angle. The bones of the beast cracked…

…And the slime leapt from its host onto Roa’Kkad. Caught off guard, the man struggled to hold his breath as the parasitic slime began to work its way into his body. Refusing to be consumed by the beast, Roa’Kkad fought back – but even the resilient barbarian was only human. As his consciousness began to fade, a hand reached out to him… Obama, pulling the man to safety. Now in melee with the beast, the Airwalker used his natural dexterity to avoid the slow and cumbersome blows of the jelly; meanwhile, Fubar went to work healing the damage done to Roa’Kkad. Rising from the near-dead, the man charged once more into battle. Beaten and weary – not to mention covered in disgusting goo – the party managed to slay the parasite. The items its host had held were magical – the only thing keeping them from being devoured by the slime’s acids.

As they took the goods and searched for a place to set down and rest, strange sounds could be heard far off down the tunnels. They were not alone down here…

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Heresy's End

Having delved deep into The Chymists of Life in Death, Throsh discovered the secrets of the tome – the nature of alchemical undead. Written by a heretical sect of the ancient Pharasmin faith, the believers thought to exploit a loophole in Pharasma’s ban on undeath – by eschewing magic for alchemy. By raising the dead with alchemy, they thought to bolster the ranks of Pharasma’s faithful with free labor. Rejected, of course, the heresy was lost to time.

With the knowledge of this lost tome in mind, the group continued their exploration of this level – except for Obama. Weary from the adventure, he swore to meet the group later (particularly to obtain his pay), and set off through the secret exit. The remaining Runelord crypts revealed their secrets to the group, one by one, as they ventured beyond the trapped statues to the ancient tomb beyond. Slaying the defenders, the adventurers collected a small handful of various treasures before turning elsewhere.

Venturing into the northwestern corridors of the level, the group discovered an abandoned set of armor – complete with its skeletal occupant. However, as Fubar disturbed the armor, a massive swarm of hissing, flesh-eating cockroaches began to pour from the joints. Caught off guard, the insects swarmed over Fubar and dragged him to the ground. Rushing to his companion’s aid, Throsh unleashed a gout of flame from his palms, engulfing the cockroaches and dispersing the swarm. The armor, he realized, belonged to men from the Irridian Fold – one of the many strange factions now residing in Kaer Maga.

The group then found themselves in an ancient archive – its tomes preserved on stone, rather than paper. Although fascinating, the group had little time to search the impressive library, and disposed of the archive’s sole guardian before moving on.

They found themselves in a crystalline room – perfectly circular, with a perfect mirror image projected from all sides. Fubar, amazed by the image, pressed his face to the glass – and felt the subtle vibrations of the crystal deep within. The room began to hum, the images spinning about the group – but only for a few moments. The motion stopped, and Throsh set to examining the magics at work. It was a teleportation circle, emanating incredible amounts of conjuration magic. But to where?

They stepped out into the hallway – to find themselves across the hall. The pair of rooms were identical in nature, perfect mirror images of one another. And so was the group. They had transformed – becoming mirror images of themselves. Right hands became left, right eyes became left, and even organs moved from one side of the body to the other. Shocked by the discovery, Roa’Kkad attacked the mirror – discovering that even his mightiest blow could not so much as scratch the mirror. While the others shrugged off the magic, Roa’Kkad continued to be troubled by this change of “heart”.

The next room opened into sudden darkness. Roa’Kkad, as brave as ever, led the way – suffering a small stab wound for his courage. As footsteps led off into the darkness, Throsh felt his way to the next room. Inside, he met Yrix. Describing herself as a “wyrmfolk”, the snake-creature spoke to Throsh from the darkness – offering her services as both a guide and seer. The elf was intrigued by her offer, and indulged her for a few gold. She claimed that the disappearance of bodies was because of the beasts below, crafting another horrific construct from the bodies of the damned. She also protected the trapped doorway leading further into the Ossuary.

With little else to do, the group checked the final doorway – discovering a staircase to the prison levels. With no desire to venture into those depths, the adventurers returned to the surface, victorious. Except they had one matter of business left to settle…

Esme Verisi – the strange zombie-like woman that they had found. Roa’Kkad and Throsh brought the woman to the Freemen, and Roa’Kkad begged his friend for assistance. Agreeing to maintain the secrecy that such brotherhood entitled, the man took Esme, keeping her body from decaying as much as a nonmagical mortal could hope. Vowing to cure the woman from her slavery in unlife and unjust death, Roa’Kkad returned to the Pharasmin Cathedral with his companions.

Valanthe Nerissa was less than happy to hear that the group had been unable to determine the source of the missing bodies. A little upset, but hoping that her hirelings could continue their work, she began to discuss the prospect of compensation. The group was paid for their efforts in securing the level, and she was more than happy to pay for the ancient Pharasmin artifacts recovered. In exchange for the relics, she and the group formed a new, unwritten contract of friendship – she would return to them for help, should she need it; and the party would have her aid in their endeavors, should they need it. As she was about to depart, she was informed of the new secret door.

Appalled that such information was kept from her, she insisted on its immediate closure. The party disagreed, claiming it was their access point to the depths below – they had not finished their business. After much debate, they reluctantly agreed to let Valanthe do her job, under the conditions that they could use the other gateway. Valanthe assured them that she could provide them additional chimes of opening – or other supplies, should they continue to work under Pharasma’s employ…

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The Mad Alchemist

January 12th, 2013

After waking from a peaceful rest, the party of adventurers continued to plumb the depths of the Ossuary. After encountering some demonic flesh-beast in one of the Runelord’s crypts, Obama decided to venture a different way.

Stumbling across a pile of rotting, disembodied flesh, Obama led the way by leaping over the mess – or at least, he tried. Falling face-first into the pile, he was attacked by a trio of crawling hands. Little more than an annoyance, they were easily dispatched. But the encounter revealed a more interesting find – a hole in the ceiling, leading into the darkness above.

Scrambling up the ten-foot vertical tunnel, the group found themselves somewhere they hadn’t expected – pinned between a makeshift bedroom and an alchemist’s laboratory. Alerting Svilennius Tripe to their presence, the mad alchemist approached and demanded answers for why the group had invaded his home and workshop. Within a minute, the man had succumbed to rage and began to attack. The sounds of battle woke Esme Verisi, a zombie-like woman who had been laying in the bed. Terrified by the attackers and with little choice, she moved to defend herself.

Although the battle that ensued saw the adventurers on the very cusp of death, they prevailed. Svilennius had fallen, and Esme had surrendered – wanting to preserve her unlife, if nothing else. As the group began to speak to her, Fubar ended her life with a single arrow through the forehead.

With the group furious at Fubar’s unsanctioned acts, Obama stormed off into another hallway. While there were a few undead denizens, there was little of note – until they found the great pit.

The room opened into a massive, thirty-foot wide hole, leading down into the blackness far below, with nothing more than a five-foot wide walkway around its edge. Roa’Kkad carefully led the way forward… When a horrific beast shambled up the walls from below. A ten foot long, snake like creature, the beast was made of pure bone – topped, of course, with a human skull. It entranced the raging barbarian with its glare as his companions rushed to his rescue. Yet, the beast would not fall easily. Wrapping itself around the Shoanti champion, both Obama and Throsh tried to pull the man from his snare. The beast would have none of this – easily fending off the barbarians trio of companions before sulking down into the depths to enjoy his snack.

But Roa’Kkad was not yet out of the fight. Throsh pulled out one of the potions they had taken from the mad alchemist – a concoction he had identified as “Enlarge Person”. The vial of life-saving liquid flew thirty feet through darkness and air before landing in Roa’Kkad’s hand. Quaffing the mixture, the man grew to twice his size – bursting from his bonds and tumbling free from the wall. In a freefall with the skeletal snake, Roa’Kkad grabbed its neck and drove it downward, propelling himself off of its back and towards the walls of the cavernous hole. As the beast shattered against the ground below, Roa’Kkad began the long climb to the surface…

Until another beast, awakened by the sounds of battle, wrapped itself around his leg. Kicking the beast loose, Roa’Kkad also loosed himself from the wall, tumbling down another hundred feet before he could get a grip on the stone. Pulling himself up inch after inch, the man grew fatigued. As he was about to give up hope and collapse, resigned to his noble death, an arm reached out to him.

Illano Darkblood, a mysterious stranger – and savior – emerged from the darkness. Unwilling to reveal the secrets of his existence, he merely cautioned the party of the real, unspeakable dangers that lurked further down in the darkness. Fading back into the mystery he emerged from, Illano simply told them that he would be there – somewhere – in the Undercity. He mentioned “others” as he departed, but said they did not care for his work.

Battered once again, the adventurers clambered to a semblance of safety and lay down for some rest. They awoke feeling only slightly less bruised, and pressed onward.

Two secret passages revealed secrets they hadn’t expected. The first lay atop a spiral staircase, and its passageway opened into the level just above – the lowest level of the Ossuary that was supposedly “secured” by the Pharasmins. The secret door was nearly impossible to detect from the outside – meaning they had likely been among the first to discover it. The second doorway led to a small burial chamber. While all of the original denizens of this crypt had been removed, they had been replaced with a few dormant undead. Dispatching these foes, the party continued on into an ancient crypt of Pharasma. These archaic artifacts would surely be appreciated by the clerics above.

As the group sat down to discuss what to do next, Throsh decided to page through the tomes they had found in the alchemists’ lab – The Chymists of Life in Death

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Entering the Ossuary

January 6th, 2013

Four individuals, with no prior connection to one another, answered the summons of Valanthe Nerissa, a Pharasmin Cleric of the Godsmouth Cathedral. The ragged Shoanti warrior, Roa’Kkad, the blessed Nord, Fubar, the Forlorn Elf, Throsh, and the mysterious Airwalker Elf, Obama met for the first time at their midnight encounter with Valanthe. The rightful owners of Kaer Maga’s most prestigious tomb, the Godsmouth Ossuary, the Pharasmins had encountered a serious problem – bodies in the crypts had been missing. With a tiny list of possible culprits, the only logical conclusion was that something from below – the lost, sealed layers of the Ossuary – had managed to find its way to the crypts. After the midnight meeting, the PCs agreed to venture into the depths – for gold and glory, of course.

Provided with a few supplies for survival, the adventure began before the group even left the cramped confines of the staircase. Attacked by a single darkmantle, Roa’Kkad dispatched the foe without breaking a sweat. The chambers below were equally dark, and no less perilous.

Their next encounter was with a pair of Tengu – who attacked the PCs in a blind panic. Izzik was slain before he could properly plead for his life. His companion, Skezza, however, managed to convince the PCs to spare his life. He led them to a room containing a fiend that had attacked him and his companions – leaving one of them behind as the others fled for their lives.

The creature inside was a Lustspawn, a horrible beast composed of a beautiful, voluptuous female torso adorned with abyssal taint and features, desiring only to sate its primal urges – hunger and lust. The beast was slain before it could pose a threat, but Skezza sneaked away mid-battle.

The exploration continued, each room containing ancient treasures and horrors. The group finally made its way to a glorious underground cathedral – with ceilings arching over sixty feet high, with no visible supports to keep it from collapse. Eight statues were aligned in the room, seven of which were dedicated to the Runelords of ancient Thassilon. The eighth was a three faced woman, but no one was exactly sure who it was dedicated to.

Pushing aside the trapped statues, the PCs delved into the hidden crypts behind. While the tomb of Lust was filled with beautiful, if kinky, depictions of its namesake sin, the crypt of Wrath held an ancient warrior seeking battle. Charging forward with his ranseur, he skewered Obama before he could even react. His companions rushed to his aid, and managed to prevail despite the zeal of the undead warrior.

Limping their way to safety, the group sets down to rest for a while, licking at their wounds…

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