Tag: A Royal Sickness

The Hall of the Senhadrim

Previously, the heroes had made their way through the Senhadrim quarters while descending down the ziggurat in search of Xamael who had crossed and blackmailed the good sisters by stealing Memra’s sight. Returning Memra’s sight would be rewarded by the good sisters in the heroes’ quest to defeat the ward on the cursed khazra’s head which was laying waste to the queen’s health, and potentially threatening all of Kingsport.

Second Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

(Silvermoon in low sanction. Bloodmoon is waxing. Darkmoon is waxing.)

The heroes were still hard at work in trying to defeat the lizardfolk zombies which had awakened from the interment inside the clay urns which were standing all around the spiralling room. At the bottom of that room was the portal leading from the Senhadrim quarters to the Senhadrim hall. The zombies had awoken when the heroes had managed to find a discarded statuette, which, combined with one of the lyrium crystals they carried on them, had proven to be the key which unlocked the portal.

With the help of the mercurial magics at Emrys’ disposal, the heroes had defeated many of the tenacious zombies already. Their momentum had slowed considerably with the disappearance of Emrys, who had been teleported away from the material plane and into the Ethereal Mist; the realm in between realms.

Astrid was spent and Quentin was wounded. James had spent many arrows and Luca had expended a lot of his magical power. On top of that, everyone was tired. Astrid and Quentin stood shoulder to shoulder, while Luca picked another star off of Atilesceon’s robes and hurled it at one of the zombies. The star transformed into several magical bolts of raw energy. Meanwhile, James was using his mobility to keep the zombies occupied while simultaneously taking shots at them with with Isalien’s bow.

When Astrid was overwhelmed and lost consciousness, it looked as if the heroes might be overrun, but the heroes kept repelling the zombies, and even Astrid miraculously regained consciousness and got back to her feet. Luca gave her one of the last two remaining health potions he had, but she held onto it. Luca also became desperate enough to use one of the lyrium crystals he still carried on him in order to fuel one of his spells. Soon after the last of the zombies fell beneath sword and arrow and calm returned. It wasn’t long until with a startle, Emrys also returned from the Ethereal Mist.

Emrys told tales of the mist and about the titanic creatures he had seen there. It reminded him of the space where the Crimson Tower had stood when the heroes first ascended it, before jumping through the collapsing portal and into Atilesceon’s nightmare realm. Emrys explained that sometimes the potency of the magic inside of him got out of control and did wonderous and unexpected things. James suggested that Emrys stay well away from the rest of the group if Emrys was to continue using his magic.

According to Luca it was late in the evening and it would be best to take rest. A safe corner in the spiralling room was hastily converted into a small camp where the heroes took rest. There was some debate about how long the rest would be, and despite James’ objections, it was decided that a proper, long rest would give people a chance to recover from the previous fight. Quentin briefly communed with Róisín and conjured up several berries which spawned from the scabbard of the blade which nourished Astrid back to some health.

Third Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

(Silvermoon in low sanction. Bloodmoon is waxing. Darkmoon is waxing.)

It was five days until the day that doctor Arkenward thought he could keep the curse on the queen at bay. The heroes had gotten some rest, and had found that none had come into the spiral room, or had come from the open portal. All of this felt incredibly suspicious and unlikely, but the heroes decided to continue on and go through the portal.

On the other side of the portal was a room with two corridors which lead away. There were two braziers with curious and intricately script carved in the metal surface. Embers were glowing inside of the braziers, and smoke trickled up and along the ceiling of the room and filled the room with the soft fragrance of sandalwood. Despite the curious nature of the braziers, Luca assured the heroes that there was nothing to be concerned about.

The room beyond seemed to have been the scene of some heavy battle, evident by the broken tiles on the floor and the faint traces of dried blood which seemed to be heading to one of the two corridors before fading away. James reckoned the blood dried up about half a day before.

It was agreed that James would scout ahead and the rest would trail behind. James found that the corridor lead to what turned out to be a wide halfway which circled a large central hall. James explored the circular hallway about halfway, discovering a small number of larger rooms along the outer wall, and a large number of doorways along the inner wall which lead to balconies that overlooked an enormous, cavernous hall. The inner wall was decorated with intricate carvings which James recognised as very well preserved Senhadrim murals.

In the centre of each of the balconies stood an elaborately crafted metal pillar, standing over six and a half foot in height. There was something elven about their design. Each was topped with a huge, glowing crystal, held by delicate metal prongs, gently cradling the crystal like a child would be cradled in their mother’s arms. Little tendrils of energy crawled over the crystals; each was pregnant with magical potentiality. Each of the crystals had a different colour.

Across the dark expanse between the balconies, the soft, coloured glow of each of the eight different crystals could be seen. Luca and Emrys went to investigate one of the crystals, which appeared to be red in colour. When the stepped out onto the balcony they were acutely aware that there was something in the darkness below as they could hear the rhythmic breathing of something very large. As they peered over the rim of the balcony they could the enormous form of a green serpent laying on the stone ground below, curled up like an armadillo. They were immediately filled with a sense of unnatural dread. Every instinct they possessed commanded them to run away; back to the surface; back to Kingsport; back to the Riverlands; back to the Elder Foothills; back into the arms of their mothers so that she may shield them from the dangers that lurked in the forgotten halls at the bottom of murky lakes in the centre of a swamp which was clearly forsaken by all the gods.

The two retreated immediately and told the others of the dragon laying at the heart of the hall. Quentin was curious to see a dragon, having only heard about heroic tales of cavaliers and knights vanquishing them. He was fortunate enough that his eyes couldn’t penetrate the darkness and he never laid witness to the dragon. As he peered into the darkness he did hear a voice. He concentrated on the voice and heard it hold a sermon of sorts, about Asmodeus, the dark angel, and the Pact Primeval. It was enough time for Emrys and Luca to regain their courage, and Luca used that opportunity to get Quentin back from the balcony. As he did so he, too, heard the tail end of the sermon, and the words were very familiar to him; he had read them in Kalina’s prayer book.

Blackstar furiously protested the sermon, exclaiming that the nature of devils was to corrupt souls so that they may fuel their fight against demons. Blackstar was reaping souls in order to prevent souls from falling into their hands. Some of Luca’s dialogue with Blackstar escaped his lips and alerted Quentin who wanted to understand more, but it wasn’t the time to get into it.

The heroes decided it was imperative that they understood what these pillars were, as they believed it might be responsible for the enslavement of Kalauranthalasis. If they could free the wyrm, they might have an ally in the fight against Xamael the Defiler. Luca prepared a ritual of identification, which he had used several times to divine the nature of some of the magical items that the heroes had found. Using an owl feather to mix a crushed pearl into some of James’ potent alcohol, he drank the liquid down and discovered that each of the pillars were connected and meant to act like a beacon. However, their power had been corrupted and changed to act like a soul trap; not unlike Lauriel’s earrings of whispers which Luca and James often used to communicate over long distances; that too had the ability to trap a person’s soul.

Luca conjured up a spectral hand and at a distance attempt to take the red crystal from its socle. Unfortunately, the moment the hand came into contact with the magical energy it was dispersed. At this point, James loosed an arrow at the crystal, hoping to knock it off the socle, instead. The arrow hit the crystal but was deflected off one of its facets and went flying into the darkness beyond. At that point the heroes heard the strong, honeyed voice that was holding the sermon say; “Kalauranthalasis, it is time for you to awaken,” and they heard the wyrm stir.

Exploring the Senhadrim Quarters, The Final Stretch

Previously, the heroes had entered the ziggurat in the middle of Wyrmblood Lake and explored the Senhadrim quarters. They came upon a portal, surrounded by embalmed lizardfolk, interred in large clay urns, filled with sand. The heroes managed to open the portal, which woke the lizardfolk zombies. The heroes were contemplating on how to deal with the lumbering horde of lizardfolk zombies, while simultaneously keep an eye out for the assassin of the Dark Queen which was still hiding somewhere.

Second Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

(Silvermoon in low sanction. Bloodmoon is waxing. Darkmoon is waxing.)

The heroes took a defensive stance in the corridor which lead from the hall of the gauntlet, to the hall of bones. The lizardfolk zombies were slow and rather mindless, which allowed James to snipe away at them while Astrid and Quentin held them at bay. Luca was blasting away, sending bolt after angry bolt of eldritch energy into the zombies, but quickly found that Blackstar would not allow him to attack the undead without exacting its toll.

Emrys was in his element, making use of his newfound abilities to send tremors through the ground which erupted around the zombies and making it even harder for them to reach the heroes. He threw Toruviel into the air and spoke a sacred word, Hediad, sending the blade flying around the room, attacking the zombies as if it had a mind of its own, while Emrys continued flinging debris into the creatures.

Eventually, both Astrid and Quentin were being worn down and they had to retreat. Quentin used Róisín to summon an ethereal dryad who could heal Astrid. He noticed that the blade was whimpering in annoyance before it reluctantly summoned the fairy.

After retreating, Quentin used his bow to loose several arrows into the zombies, while Emrys used his blade to bounce around the room, firing off spells in a flurry. Eventually, the magical pressure which had been building up inside of him couldn’t be contained and he was temporarily teleported to a terrifying place which seemed awfully familiar to him and reminding him of the fugue realm that Atilesceon’s tower resided in.

Exploring the Senhadrim Quarters, Continued

Previously, the heroes had made their way past the lizardfolk guards atop the sunken ziggurat and started to explore the interior. They found a small network of corridors, staircases and chambers, each seemingly dedicated to the pastoral care of the Senhadrim which once roamed its halls during the Age of Fear.

Second Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

(Silvermoon in low sanction. Bloodmoon is waxing. Darkmoon is waxing.)

After having examined the battle between the assassins of the Dark Queen and the lizardfolk, the heroes continued to explore the quarters, finding themselves at the foot of a long hallway, lined on each side with large statues of winged warriors. The statues, which the heroes had seen dotted throughout the chambers, worried the heroes as it created natural chokepoints and perfect ambush sites.

Cautiously, Luca decided to join James by proceeding ahead, tapping the tiles he was intending to step on with the butt end of his staff. Eventually, after passing about halfway through the hallway, he noticed that right between two statues the tiles had been loosened and looked quite treacherous. Luca attempted to jump over the tiles but misjudged his jump, only to slip and dislodge the tiles, revealing a wide pit lined with sharp, metal stakes at the bottom.

While Luca tumbled down into the pit, injuring himself as he fell, James jumped across the pit and was on his guard. Quentin ended up tumbling into the pit as well, while two assassins materialised on the far side of the pit. One engaged James, while the other loomed over the pit, only to be pulled into the pit by Quentin, who had used Róisín’s ability to produce a thorny whip to lash out.

The assassins proved a significant opposition, with their ability to ambush, their lightning fast attacks and the deadly daggers they drew. James felt the sting of one of the daggers and the venom that lit his nerves on fire, but eventually the heroes managed to slay one of the assassins while the other assassin got away.

The heroes went into careful pursuit, only to find that at the end of the hall ended in another staircase corridor which eventually lead even further down into the ziggurat. At the bottom of the staircase they found a large room, spiralling down, with each of the three terraced levels being lined with clay urns, filled with sand, with the embalmed head of a lizardfolk warrior sticking out of it. Likely they were interred here as a sign of great honour.

On the lowest level there was a portal set into the back wall, elaborately carved and made from a different stone than the rest of the halls. In front of it lay a discarded, conical statue, much like the one found in the catacombs underneath Lynnecombe, as well as the statue that lady Asha carried with her. It was made from the same type of stone as the portal, and in the top there was a slot in which they found a dull, cloudy, orange crystal, which looked a lot like the lyrium crystals they had found months ago. In the portal itself there was a hole that fit the statue perfectly. The heroes surmised that it was a key which needed to be powered by a lyrium crystal.

The heroes retreated, while Luca used his magic to conjure up a spectral hand which placed a fresh lyrium crystal inside the hole atop the key, and placed the key inside the hole in the portal. With a loud, stone-on-stone grating noise, the door inside the portal sank away into the ground and revealed a chamber beyond. James noted that the assassin which had made his escape definitely would not have had the opportunity to get through the portal without the heroes hearing it, meaning that he must still be hiding somewhere.

Besides that, once the door opened up, each of the embalmed lizardfolk inside the urns stirred and came alive, slowly freeing themselves from their resting places…

Exploring the Senhadrim Quarters

Previously, the heroes made their way down the river from Blackbough on the boat of an Acadian family. Their destination was Wyrmblood Lake, where Melchior, also known as Xamael the Defiler, made his home in the lair of Kalauranthalasis. They headed north after saying goodbye to the Acadians and set up an overnight camp in the swamp, during which they were attacked by quicklings; fairy agents of Kalauranthalasis who mistook them for Xamael’s disciples. Wynn, a captured quickling, explained the situation at Wyrmblood Lake and proceeded to help the heroes get into the ziggurat laying partially submerged at the centre of the lake.

First Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

(Silvermoon in low sanction. Bloodmoon is waxing. Darkmoon is waxing.)

Once the heroes had boldly marched past the lizardfolk who were guarding the lake and the top of the ziggurat, the heroes descended down several staircases winding down into the building. The stones around them were tinged with green by centuries of moss growth and vines and roots were protruding from the walls and ceilings.

The descent ended when one of the staircases was flooded with swamp water. Some discarded clothing and a hooded lantern were found on the steps leading into the murky depths. Quentin, unaccustomed to the darkness, toyed with the idea of bringing the lantern along but ultimately found it an annoyance and left it behind.

James volunteered to take one end of a length of rope that the heroes had with them and take a dive into the water, hopefully finding a way through the water and to a pocket of air. He dove in and swam, down the steps and then through a corridor. Plants and vines were tangling his arms and legs as he swam and he panicked. Instinctively he swam up in the hope of breaching the surface only to find a large hall with high ceilings that had trapped a pocket of air. Coughing, he retched up the several gulps of swamp water that he had tried to inhale.

When the panic had subsided, James found that at the back of the room their was a dry platform with two staircases leading to it from the submerged part of the room. There he found a place to tie the rope to a broken column of stones. He gave a tug, signalling to the others that they could come through. One by one the heroes took the plunge and swam to the other side. While waiting, Emrys was approached by Wynn, who had managed to find and join his quickling friends and convinced them to relinquish the bone flute that they had stolen from Emrys.

Once on the other side the heroes inspected the platform and the submerged room and found that there were intricate carvings all along the walls, which had been faded by time and the harsh conditions of the swamp. They also found that the platform had a corridor leading away. Several tracks leading from the water to this corridor could be found, but before they could be analysed the dripping wet clothing of the heroes had already spoiled them. The conclusion was that the submerged room used to serve as an audience chamber of some sort and that the murals showed images of people coming to appeal to a council of elders or wise people who sat upon the platform. The murals reminded those who had been in the catacombs underneath Lynnecombe of the ones they found there.

Quentin, who had taken off his armour in order to swim into the submerged room, decided to keep his armour off in case there were other swimming challenges which had to be overcome. Emrys and Luca made quick work of their wet clothing by using their magic to dry it all.

Emrys decided he needed more information and wanted to confirm the conclusions they had drawn about the nature of the room and the ziggurat itself. He decided to commune with Toruviel, which had not always been so easy but after the recent breakthrough was made easier. Toruviel could confirm that this structure was one of the Senhadrim vaults, and that its purpose was safety and shelter. It was also confirmed that Toruviel never visited this place and that there were several, dotted all around Lyria.

Prompted by Emrys, Luca turned to Blackstar to ask it whether dragons had souls, to which the hungry staff eagerly exclaimed that they do and urged Luca to reap it! Quentin suggested that in the event that the heroes would not be able to retrieve the “sight” that the good sisters had lost to Xamael, they might want to consider freeing Kalauranthalasis in the hope of gaining an ally. He was fearful that if they did not uphold their end of the bargain the good sister would prevent them from leaving the swamp.

It was decided that James and Emrys, naturally gifted with an enhanced ability to navigate the darkness, would scout ahead. Emrys bestowed James with his gift of invisibility so that he could go undetected even further. They entered the passaged, passed a small chamber of little interest, and made their way down several flights of stairs, noting that the steps of the stairs were much larger than those made for normal men. At the bottom of the steps they found a large room from which soft candle light was glowing.

The room was large with in its centre a large basin filled with rich mulch in which the bones of a winged serpent was laid to rest. The light was coming from two large candles at the rear of the room, and overlooking the grave were two large statues of winged warriors; one holding a sword, the other holding a spear. While James scouted ahead, Emrys went to get the others.

James had given Quentin a lantern and some oil, which Quentin had lit and kept down to a low radiance. Astrid remained close to him and Luca, his vision aided by Blackstar, lead the way down to the room with the grave. Quentin marvelled at the bones of the enormous serpent and concluded that it was a dragon, though Luca was not so sure of that.

A doorway lead away from the room and into a parallel corridor which James began to explore. He headed one way and descended down several flights of large steps only to find himself in a room that reminded him of a chapel. Stone benches stood on either side of a central aisle that ran up to another platform, not unlike the one they saw in the submerged hall, the only difference being that there were no staircases leading up to it. The platform stood at the top of a ten foot wall, and from his position he could only see that there was an altar of some sort at the top of the platform. From the chapel James saw no other doorways or passages.

Returning to the room with the grave, James informed everyone of what he found and urged them to take a look while he investigated the other side of the corridor. When the others got to the chapel they used the light to investigate the different depictions on the walls. They found that one image showed an army of soldiers being lead by a very tall person seemed to be radiating a holy light as they fought against a tide of monsters. The other showed three armies; one of monsters, one of warriors with feathery wings and one of warriors with leathery wings. They all seemed to stand in equal opposition of each other.

Emrys once again attempted to commune with Toruviel about what he saw, and the sword shared that the tall figure with the radiant aura was Aureus the Golden One, saint of Paladine, the founder of the order and most exalted among the Senhadrim.

It was at this time that James had discovered another room at the other end of the corridor which was the scene of a bloodbath. Eight lizardfolk warriors laid dead of very precise slash and stab wounds, in opposition to two of what appeared to be Xamael’s disciples, dressed in leather armour that looked a lot like the one that James had retrieved from the Reaverhaunt caves and was currently wearing. The two disciples had been killed by blunt force trauma, likely caused by the brutal, spiked clubs and fist weapons wielded by the lizardfolk.

James called the others attention to the massacre and Quentin and Luca decided to come over to investigate. Emrys stayed behind in the chapel with Astrid because he was keen to see what was on the platform with the altar. He used Astrid’s help, as well as the several vines that grew along the wall leading up to the platform to climb up there. It was not as easy as it first seemed it would be, but he got up there with Astrid following behind him.

At the top of the platform of the chapel Emrys found three simple, stone altars, a large, metal candle holder of the sort they had seen in the room with the grave, as well as a large, wooden drum, complete with a skin stretched the top of it, fastened by what looked like large crocolisk teeth. At the back there was another doorway to a corridor, which wound up in a room that gave Emrys an unsettling feeling. The room had two other doorways, one directly opposite to the one he entered, which he would later find lead to where the rest of the heroes were, and one other that seemed to lead deeper into the ziggurat.

Once everyone was reunited and had concluded that little could be learned from the fight between the lizardfolk and Xamael’s disciples, they decided to head into the corridor leading away from the room which had unnerved Emrys so.

Arrival at the Sunken Temple

Previously, the heroes made their way down the river from Blackbough in search of Xamael the Defiler’s location deep in the heart of Eastmarsh. They met a friendly Acadian family who told them a little about their destination, a location known as Wyrmblood Lake. The Acadians also shared that they had brought other visitors of lord Oswin downriver to the same destination several months before; Fedor and his retinue, which included a haughty woman going by the name of lady Mildred.

Eventually the heroes said goodbye to the Acadians and headed north into the Eastmarsh heartland, pushing ever closer to Wyrmblood Lake. That night, while they had made camp and James was keeping watch, a band of quicklings attempted to rob the heroes while they slept, making off with one of Emrys’ precious artifacts; the bone flute which played a haunting tune. Luckily they managed to capture one of the quicklings, who had made his way into James’ bag and had drank himself into a stupor.

First Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

(Silvermoon in low sanction. Bloodmoon is waxing. Darkmoon is waxing.)

Having recovered a bit from the attack of the quicklings, the heroes turned to their unconscious captive. James quickly bound both his hands and feet. He appeared to be just under two foot tall, with a lithe and slender build, dark blue skin and long white hair. He wore a finely threaded, green doublet, embroidered with gold thread and matching trousers and shoes. He carried on him a sword the size of a small dagger.

When the quickling regained consciousness, the heroes learned that his name was Wynn and that he served the “King of Swamp and Darkness”, a title that belonged to Kalauranthalasis, a “forest dragon”, also known as the “Noxious One” and the “Serpent Sting.” Xamael had enslaved him and used the dragon to command the large number of lizardfolk in the area to do his bidding. The lizardfolk worshiped Kalauranthalasis as a god and Xamael exploited that fact. The quicklings were the dragon’s spies; his eyes and ears all over the swamp.

Wynn could also describe Wyrmblood Lake, the ziggurat at the heart of the lake as well as some of the interior, but he was initially reluctant. Luca used his arcane powers of persuasion to smooth the way with the quickling and once Wynn understood that the heroes stood to oppose Xamael, he was keen to help them achieve their goal. The heroes eventually let him go, and an understanding was reached that the quickling would help the heroes, using the bone flute as collateral. James used the remaining supplies of his healing kit to patch Luca up before retiring.

The heroes tried to get some further rest and the following morning were joined by Wynn to continue the journey to Wyrmblood Lake. Before departure, Isalien repaired her bow using the string from Quentin’s bow. When the heroes arrived near the lake several hours later, Isalien said her farewell; she had come further than she initially intended, and she was unwilling to put her life further at risk. She did understand the importance of the mission the heroes were on, and to aide them, as well as a thank you for them caring for her during her recovery, she traded her magnificent bow for James’.

When Isalien had departed, Emrys turned all of the party invisible in a feat of raw arcane power. This allowed Wynn to escort James to the bank of the lake and take in the situation. Once James witnessed the lake, with the many lizardfolk huts dotting the bank, the enormous ziggurat, covered in moss and vines, as well as the lizardfolk that patrolled the lake and the structure itself, he knew that getting inside would require subterfuge and guile.

When James returned to the rest of the group (aided by the fact that Emrys had drawn and apparated Toruviel in a hover in front of him, otherwise James may never have found the invisible group), a plan was drawn up. When the heroes ended up approaching the lake and the rest got to observe what James had recalled to them, the plan changed somewhat. Instead of attempting to sneak across the water, climb and infiltrate the ziggurat, the heroes decided to impersonate Xamael’s disciples.

James had four jewelled daggers (only one of which was a replica) which he could distribute among the others, and he was wearing the black leather armour of the Cult of the Dark Queen, retrieved from the Reaverhaunt caves. Using his magical ability to disguise himself, Luca could appear to look like a hardened rogue wearing armour similar to James’ also wearing the jewelled dagger. Hopefully it would be enough to fool the lizardfolk into believing they were Xamael’s henchmen.

Using a distracting caused by Wynn and the other quicklings, they confidently walked up to some boats laying moored at a rickety pier. When confronted with lizardfolk who only spoke Draconic, the heroes were undeterred. Quentin spoke to them with an air of snobbish dismissal that seemed to fit the evil cult members, and they let the group row to the ziggurat. Once there, they disembarked the boats and strolled past all of the lizardfolk guards. Emrys noticed that the lizardfolk had a very bad reaction to the jewelled daggers, but this continued to lend aid to their disguise.

James’ plan had worked. He recalled hearing about a shrewd Cyprian politician whose name he had long since forgotten who said; “Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.” Words he lived by and proved themselves once again. There were seven days left before their time ran out, and they couldn’t afford to getting caught up in skirmishes which could be avoided.