The Family

Kutok's Journal

While Obinar creates more sky metal implements, we seek to research information about the divine engine.

First, though we need to help a local township who are about to be overrun by giants. We get to the three corners where Dwarf, Goblin, and Human villages coexist with a treaty that has been in existence for over fifty years. We find the treaty sorely tested by the Human leader, who has insulted the dwarves and broken several important traditions including the sharing of food at an annual gathering and fishing tournament. To save the three corners, we need to find a way to reunite them. The human leader, Mistress Sala, has been of a separate mind in the past few months. When we gain audience, her motions are stilted, her hands blue. Balasar realizes at once she is a doppleganger, so we unseat her by unseating her head. The Mistress’ counselor admits she was unsure of the changes in her mistress. With her out of the way, the three corners are able to make reparations and begin for their mutual defense.

The divine engine was designed by Arathis and Torag, and Moradin constructed it and gave it form and substance. It was called Piernoth’s Bane, an artifact of godlike power and was used to banish the primordial Piernoth for all eternity.

Once Piernoth was banished, there was no longer need for the divine engine, and to keep it from being used to free Piernoth, Kord shattered it into 5 pieces which went to different places in the multiverse.

One such piece was found by Decon who gave it to a guardian of argent. It was stored in the vault at Argent. Until it was stolen recently.

The Astral Giants keep track of the pieces of the divine engine. Their temple of learning, the Temple Incohate, houses the foremost authority on the engine. The M* of Moradin know the ritual to restore the engine. The missing piece is a grave concern. Piernoth can be freed with only 3 of the 5 parts, though he would appear in a diminished capacity.

We are to find the Astral Giants and convince them to aid us in this mission. Brethan Fauss is also looking for parts. The Githyankee Pirates know how to get everywhere on the astral sea, they would know how to get to the Astral Giants.

The githyankees are shrewd bargainers, but we managed to get one way passage to the Temple Incohate for a mere 5000 gold.

Once there the giants greet us after a few words with Belvedere. I’m not sure what he said, but they got very angry and would keep pushing us out into the astral sea. The pushing was very hurtful, so we were forced to retaliate. At the top of the giant stairs, we meet with more resistance, but upon gaining entrance to the temple proper, we ask to speak to Zanashoe,

It turns out Zanashoe may already be gone, she is in the company of a Drider, and somehow she wears a modified holy symbol of arathis (it is missing a gear and star of the traditional 6).

Turns out dopplegangers aren’t all that accurate in their mimicry.

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Kutok's Journal

After breaking the siege of the giants on Argent, we were sent in search of some “sky metal”. It turns out the metal is hidden in the distant past. Obinar, the sentinel of Argent, agrees to send us to the past with an orb that will guide us to the sky metal. The sky metal is scattered through the tower of Baletarath, the home of the architect of the Tomb of Horrors – Azerack himself.

Obinar’s spell sends us to a hallway just outside the wizards library. The statuary is some kind of trap (and there’s an actual trap that lightning stalls Belvedere’s Pegasus). We gather our forces together to defeat the gargoyles and make our way into the wizards library.

His undead are no match for Kord’s brilliant power, so we recover the first of the sky metal.

We gather two more pieces of sky metal making our way up to the top of the tower. There we find Azaerack himself, working on a machine with pieces of skymetal made into the machine itself. Azerack’s tower nearly defeats illikan when one of Azerak’s minions throws him from the top. The rest of us are hard pressed but eventually win out over Azerack, and we manage to free the sky metal and activate the orb’s ritual before any more of Azerack’s surprises find us.

Back in Present-day Argent, Obinar takes the sky metal and begins to make the implements of the champions of Argent.

Meanwhile, my mask is over-gleeful that I was there when the Lich Azerack was created.

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Kutok's Journal

After returning to Moonstair from releasing the garden of graves in the feywild from it’s dire plight, moonstair is a changed city. The fey creatures that were running away from the blight are no longer harassing the city, and the trolls from trollhaunt are no longer raiding. We receive a heroes welcome from the city.

Andacanaver has the idea to get my brother of Kord in Moonstair, Ralph, to throw a party in honor of Kord. We help, as the “heroes of mooonstair” should be at any party in Moonstair, and the party is a rousing success. I give a hearty speech which is well received by all that were not too drunk to pay attention, which I admit was most of them, but I think I got through to one old lady in the corner. I should have a talk with Ralph to make sure my speech is on the leading edge of the libations next time.

We return home to our tower to find it well cared for and the monks nearby still producing excellent beer (we should send the men around for more, I think Illikan drank all we had).

A strange messenger appears at the door saying that the sorcerers from the 7 pillar hall need our help against the drow. We have him cool his heels with the dregs of the monk’s beer (still good!), and contact the family through our communication rings. The family has trade relations with the drow and the 7 pillar hall agreements seem to be secondary. The family leaves the decision to intervene up to us, but we think we’d rather study this shiny map we found and stashed away, so we send the messenger home empty handed.

The map tells of a fabled city called Argent and the tales abound of it’s wealth and adventure. We set out in a few days with our new mounts and follow the maps lead. After a few days we come across a strange noise coming from the other side of a ridge just ahead. We scale the ridge and find a Tauren being besieged by many firey creatures. We decided to intervene.

Helping the Tauren involved nothing more than bulking defenses against fire, standing still while they pummeled us from range (due to their sticky fire pinning us in place), and making sure someone was close enough to pummel back. Once we defeated the knight in bronze, firey armor, the other creatures (summoned, perhaps) disappeared, but left their stone golem friends to finish the fight. Not restrained anymore, the golems were finished quickly, and healing was shared around including our new friend.

Rarthar of Argent shares his tale that the city needs help, and he has some slightly singed notes to prove he has been sent forth to find adventurers to come and assist the city. They are signed Obinar, Champion of Argent. Rarthar performs a ritual to open a portal to Argent and we pass through into a courtyard with a reflecting pool. A wizened old man greets us as Obinar, and asks if we would help to follow Rarthar into the city to defend it, whilst he finds a way to restore the cities outer wards from the great tower.

We quickly find a bunch of troublemakers in the city, a hill giant is standing by a pulsing portal in the sky. The hill giant barely has time to yell something incomprehensible before some magma golems join him for some fun. We were then besieged by some magma shards, annoying minions which ran around us in circles, sometimes knocking us down and generally creating their own brand of chaos. Eventually we vanquished all our foes, and moved with Rarthar to rejoin obinar and seek his progress on the city wards.

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Kutok's Journal

I have misgivings about this new direction we’ve taken. Running headlong into the wildlands beyond the portal in search of Var and his thrice damned eye-phylactery.

I was not wrong, either, when our path abruptly ended in a gorge. A trail alongside it took us to an odd (for our mortal world, perhaps not for here) geologic structure, where the chasm ended and a mountain rose, nearly the same dimensions as the chasm, but up instead of down. It was as if a large slice of stone was carved out of the ground and laid beside the hole it recently occupied, aligned with it. Only in the tanglewild.

Andacanaver spied some statues a small ways off, but they did not respond when he axed them politely which way to go. We walked around and found ourselves in a mirror room. Not that there were reflective surfaces, mind you, but rather that all surfaces were reflections of the ones in the Throne room under the ruins, on the other side of the portal. Just that this side was covered in mosses, ferns, and all sorts of other growing bits where the other side was just moist.

The statues, however, were new.

They also, it turns out, were aggressive.

After they were splashed to life by a beam of light from a strange portal on the wall, they attacked. It turns out that same beam of light also reanimates them after they fall. So we quickly turn our attention to the portal. The writing escapes me, but Gurdis and Illikan make out vague instructions in the runes, and a hidden pattern emerges. Quickly tracing the pattern the portal finally shuts off, and what appeared to be a stone wall grows transparent and reveals a tunnel.

We walk to the other side and rest, for fighting four things which reanimate 3 or 4 times each is rather a trying accomplishment. We survey our surroundings for a moment, discovering that we are in fact on the other side of the strange mountain.

We have hints of several seemingly abandoned buildings nearby, we investigate one to see what might inhabit this strange land. Apparently they have nasty critters here too, and they come in extra large and even bigger. They’re sneaky too, apparently throwing a veil over my divine oracle talents and preventing me from sensing them where normally none can sneak up on me.

The extra large critters jump down from above, corraling us near these pitch-stained pillars, which the bigger guy likes to set on fire. Once burning they emit a dense acrid smoke which instantly fills your lungs with pain. Do not want.

We have to split our attention, Andacanaver busying the giant while the rest of us do our best to reduce the minion throng (ok, not minions and there were only four of them, but there were only three of us with Andacanaver busy).

Eventually we are just facing the giant, but we’re battered, bruised, and not nearly as fresh as when we woke up in the mountain this morning. The giant is still trouble. We have to help him maneuver into a corner, and then try to stay there to keep him from moving about. Meanwhile he is doing some kind of trick with his mind and throwing us all over the place. Especially into the smoke from those Kord damned pillars.

Now we must find what he was guarding… it must be important.

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Andacanavar's Journal #6
Is that all you've got??

With barely a moment to rest another enemy patrol showed up. Several trolls and one-eyes. It sucked, we had to dig down deep but finally they fell. The acid potions that Kutok had given me came in real handy!

We hadn’t really finished with them when the next wave started beneath our feet. I guess the manticore rider earlier had “spread his seed” around. It sprouted. Nuts, ugly half plant critters sprouted up all over. They were able to teleport around, moving thru their vines was a real pain in the ass. In the end it was more annoying than deadly. We were able to catch our breath and regain some strength for the next assault.

Around the corner came the big wizard troll and his pet cave bear. I got struck dumb and couldn’t proceed for a bit but the monk lept in along with Illikan. I got there soon enough and stood in the middle and weathered the assault as the enemy was cut down.

The battle was won, but at what cost? The city was in shambles. I need a beer. Make that two beers ….

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Andacanavar's Journal #5
I'll have plenty of time to rest when I'm dead

So, we’re trying to get back to town. Came across a small farm shack with a screaming woman inside. Before we could figure out what was going on a bunch of worgs and a troll showed up across the burning fields.

I picked a good spot with the building to our side and a small fire in front of us. The fields slowed the approach on our other side which more or less forced them all to come straight on at us. One adventuresome worg went around the building only to be pacified by Kutok. The worgs didn’t pose much of a threat, after we waded thru them, the troll wasn’t hard to finish off. He was a heavy bastard and it took a bit to heave him into the fire.

After a short rest we headed back to town. It was easy to see that it was undergoing a pretty large attack, probably from the trolls. As we found out, they had recruited some allies we weren’t aware of. We headed for the main gate to ensure that it’s defense would hold.

The gate was being strafed by a manticore ridden by a trog and several wyverns. It was somewhat troublesome dealing with all the flyers. Mostly I tried to keep Gurdis safe. He repeatedly blasted them until they all came done. The manticore kept spraying us with spikes but they weren’t too damaging. The wyverns had no ranged weapons, so they had to descend to fight us. Illikan, DD and I tried to get them when they came in. It wasn’t great, but we gave as good as we got. That was all the help that Gurdis and Kutok needed.

Unfortunately we can see more enemies approaching, the gate is breached. No time to rest…

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Andacanavar's Journal #3
You don't have to kill everything.

Hoo boy, we didn’t get much searching in. We heard noises coming back the way we came. Not good! The monk checked it out, she said that there were twice as many at the entrance to the warrens as before. Ugh.

We had a choice between a smoke room, back the way we came, and unknown door and a passageway to the troll shaman who had already kicked our butt once. And when we peeked in on him, he was talking to a troll overlord!

We took the smoke room and camped out as best we could. About 4 hours later a trog boy came to get some fish from the smoke room. Capturing him, we got an introduction to the trog leader, who agreed to be vaguely friendly with us.

Exploring past the trog lair we found several trolls guarding a few slaves. We took out the trolls and their one eyed friends. That room had no roof and was our way out! Taking that, we made our way back to town and celebrated.

The next day we hiked back to the warrens to find the place largely empty. The trogs were there, but no trolls. Taking this opportunity, we took out the skull pile the troll shaman used as backup. As we were prepared, this was not too difficult. Hopefully, the shaman has no way to replenish his little flaming skull pile.

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Andacanavar's Journal #2

We went back out to the Trolls having exchanged the seeker for a monk. At least we won’t have to worry about the seeker engaging unwisely at range anymore!

On the way we were ambushed by some swamp critters and 3 will-o-the-wisps. Damn things were pushing and pulling us all over the place. It was hell to keep in formation, but we prevailed.

Of note, I had assigned the monk to guard our rear. After that encounter she decided that a rear guard was not needed. Ummm…I don’t know what tactical genius she learned from, but that ain’t gonna fly. We really don’t need something chomping on our Invoker, Gurdis without warning. He needs a little range to do his killing, and he does it better than the rest of us. Rather than argue about it, I took rearguard.

So we got back to the entrance to the troll warrens and the monk went screaming off at high speed into the thick of things, thru the door and off to the left. Illikan went after her, but I was much too slow coming up from the rear and watched a large troll seal the door. I heard some screams and a sickening thud. “She’s down!” Illikan hollered. Engaging the troll at the troll, I knocked him aside and pinned him against the river to allow Kutok room to heal the monk. It was rough, but we managed to slaughter them all. Perhaps she said thanks, but I didn’t hear it.

This time we went right, hopped over the river and engaged some trogs. A horribly frustrating battle as I spent most of it with my mind in a fog. I was fighting at half strength at best. Eventually we prevailed and started searching the area. There was a lot to go thru, we probably won’t get all of it before reinforcements arrive.

We need a plan.

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Andacanavar's Journal #1
Don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes!

Trolls.

Big ugly critters, kill them with fire, or acid maybe…I ferget. I don’t really care, I’ll knock ‘em down and Kord will provide someone else to burn ‘em.

With no more plan than that we set off into the troll warrens. There was a big dumb one behind a gate. He wasn’t that dumb though as Kutok and the Seeker couldn’t convince him to open the door. Eventually Illikan and I axed the door a question and got the appropriate answer.

By then, Kutok and the Shaman were trying to go around the gate through the stream. The Seeker made it through but Kutok got stuck humping the hedgerow and came back. Illikan and I made short work of the two big trolls and 3 little guys running around.

There was a maze of twisty passages, all alike, going deeper into the warrens. We picked a direction and went. A bigger troll, a bear and a big skull pile were in the room. The troll looked at us and them ignored us. Kord, but he was an arrogant one. At least we would be able to close without problems. Unfortunately the Seeker saw things differently. She fired away at 20 paces. Illikan and I were outside of Charge range. He got caught by a spell while I engaged the bear. 4 skull fuckers came out of the pile and fireballed the rest of ‘em. They were all hurt and in big trouble. I went back to assist them and we all high tailed it back to down.

Ignominious, but we were still alive to fight another day.

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Kutok's Journal

The next morning, I’m rudely awakened by the sound of battle from outside the Inn. Bulwark is already up, as usual, and I run outside pulling on the last of my armor just as he punches a d’orc in the face. Looking around the entire Ho7P is in chaos, there are dozens of bronze warders wreaking havoc and destruction, backed up by some of the warped clerics of vecna.

We quickly assess that Paldimar has somehow crafted this assault, so we arrange with Brugg that we’ll go after the source as he tries to contain the damage here. We rush to the tower to find that it’s mostly empty. But the strange construct machine that Gurdis found yesterday appears to be doing something… oh, no, my mistake, it’s broken.

Upstairs in the cess pit of vecna those monks and hurlers and axe guys are still there, the statue is as annoying as ever, and yep, the door opens so that the bronze warder is flanking us again.

This time Paldimar is right_there... ungh, can’t quite reach him as the bronze warder has all but gotten stuck in the doorway. I stand where the warder can’t reach the rest of our casters, but he just pushes me through the teleportal. I should have remembered Bulwark’s experiments with the warders and the teleportals, because I find myself crawling back through a few seconds later to see Illikan looking around desperately for me.

Kanaibi and Sugar are taking shots through both doorways, and even Bulwark is moving back to take up a stance in front of the warder. That works, so Kanaibi shuts the front door and we concentrate on Paldimar and the warder in the side room.

Unexpectedly, the bad guys all line up behind Paldimar so we only have one front to deal with, and the battle starts to turn. Bulwark pushes through to Paldimar (ooh, the mage really doesn’t like that), and the others from the main temple try to come to Paldimar’s side.

I throw a heal on Bulwark when he needs it, and then I open the door into the temple again. Bulwark has pushed the battle all the way into that room, and we’re now able to attack on two flanks. Sugar keeps the bronze warder stuck to the floor in the next room with some trick of hers, so we are able to concentrate on taking out Paldimar and then the others.

Victorious, we return to the Hall of Seven Pillars to find the battle winding down and Brugg is apprehensively appreciative of our success. There’s also a note from the Family that Grimmerzhul negotiations are completed and that we’ll get details later. We were about to enjoy a pint when Murkleroy decides to announce his candidacy for governor of Ho7P by killing all the denizens. He asks where we stand and Brugg seems to be getting a little antsy. Well, we aren’t going to be standing with the double crossing duergar, so we happily engage. Murkleroy takes the brunt of our first surge and he goes down seconds later. His friends, not to be deterred, decide to keep fighting but we manage to pound them into submission.

Once it is all clear Bundt from the family finds us in the Inn and announces our elevation to Agent status with the Family and that we are to kill the Grimmerzhul. “Done!”

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