Jockra

XXX, Xarshotz' Sphere

coming soon…

  • fight Xarshotz, a beholder death tyrant
  • spherical chamber in the shadowdark
  • Reginold interferes, tasked with retrieving the Mantle of the Void for Ule.
  • Reginold is turned to stone by Xarshotz
  • Party defeats Xarshotz and retrieves the Mantle
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Part XXIX, Reginold’s Shame

As the party emerges from their rest in Ando’s pocket dimension, they are confronted by their old friend Reginold.

“Ah, my friends, how I wish you had ended me back in the dungeons. So much pain would have been averted. It is not just a quick and clean warrior’s death I longed for, but to have spared me from the torment of my inadvertent betrayal would have been a mercy. You must know it was never my intent. Had I known then the true nature of our crown prince I can’t say for sure if things would have been different, but now it matters not.”

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Part XXVIII, The Shadowdark

Using the sigil sequence and the Planar Portal scroll left behind by Kheegan, the party enters the shadowdark, the reflection of the underdark that lies in the shadowfell, in search of one of the lost Implements of Inuria hinted at in the Vampire Lord’s letter. They are immediately struck by the overwhelming cold of the place, as the penetrating chill takes their breath away. The oppressive darkness closes in as their light sources reveal little. Then, emerging from the darkness comes a ghostly elven figure warning them to turn back. They fend off an assault of shadowy undead and progress into the unknown blackness. Further battles against alien aboleth, more undead, and a many-headed shadow hydra leave them exhausted. Before pressing on, they take shelter in the extra-dimensional space created by Ando’s Exodus Knife.

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Part XXVII, Court or Coven?

With little time to lament the loss of their friend, the party is beset by undead pursuing an escapee from the dungeons of the keep. The large Vrechan names himself Kjern, and joins the party in their mad efforts to clear the keep. At last, on the top floor, they find Prince Obyr and his royal court. The court reveals their true nature as a battle unfolds. They are actually a coven of vampires. Disguised as the Prince’s bodyguard, Kheegan is an elder vampire lord and the one in charge; while Obyr and Acef are newly created vampires. Kheegan hacks at the party with a mighty greatsword while Obyr darts in and out of the fight, striking exposed opponents. Acef summons skeletal minions to assist the thralls that defend them. All seems lost when Kjern falls briefly under the control of the vampire lord and hews down two of the party, but Morin prevails, and with a final thrust of his sword, fells Kheegan. The party finds a strange orb, whose magic seems bound to the keep itself, as well as journals and notes in the library that reveal more of the strange chain of events since their return from Moonstair.

Prince Obyr’s Journal:

Entry 1
We make the long overland journey to Harrenshire by horseback. How I would love to remove my aching arse from atop this beast and soar amongst moonlit clouds, but Kheegan says we dare not expose ourselves just yet.

Entry 2
We have arrived at Backbreaker Keep. The locals now refer to it as “Castle Targus”. What an arrogant whelp this Arasan must be. He does not even have the sense to show the proper respect that a royal visit demands, for he is away in Thayrund! I suspect Geron may be complicit in this sleight. The castle staff has made pitiful efforts to appease me with formalities, banquets, gifts, and a tournament in my honor – as if I have use for crockery painted by peasants or find entertainment in watching farmers shoot arrows at straw dummies. I have taken command of the military forces stationed here and will throw this Targus and his mercenary band in the dungeons when they return.

Entry 3
Kheegan is so clever. He has questioned this castle caretaker Frandris and forced the truth from him. Targus is plotting to succeed and join Harrenshire with Thayrund! This treachery shall be punished. Thayrund shall be the first to fall before my might when the time for conquest begins! Perhaps I will make thralls of these fools and have them lead the assault!

Entry 4
Targus and his whelplings arrived by the teleportation circle on the wizard’s tower today – exactly as Acef had predicted. My court subdued them and they are contained in the dungeons. Geron was among them. How I would love to drain his blood and see the look on his face. Perhaps I will have him kill my father; that would be such sweet irony! There was also a wizard, an elf, the local grove-keeper, and a soldier with them. The soldier may prove a useful pawn. He has re-sworn his pledge of loyalty to me so I have released him into Kheegan’s command.

Entry 5
The castle staff is now completely under my control, but this place begins to bore me. I hunger for the greater challenge of battle and conquest. How long must I wait!? Kheegan advises patience. Easy for him to say when he gets to go below and mingle with majestic beings from the Abyss while I must sit here and quench my thirst on peasant blood.

Entry 6
It has begun! I can hear the faint rush, and feel the earth tremble beneath my feet. Soon this castle will soar above all the midlands and herald the doom of my enemies. My father is so foolish – content with eking out a poor frontier kingdom amongst the ruins of a civilization in decline. I will forge a new world. I will create an empire stronger and larger than even ancient Inuria. What good will the pikes and shields of the squabbling Cobians be against an army that cannot die? What good will the warships of Aras be when my dragon burns them like tinder? What good will the thick city walls of Gomia do them when my fortress floats above them? Nothing will be able to withstand me.

Entry 7
The orb is in place and Acef assures me that his magic is strong and it will function. The tremors have grown more intense. It shouldn’t be long now!

Entry 8
A thousand curses! The prisoners have escaped right as things are about to come to fruition. I should have bitten them all when I had the chance, despite Kheegan’s pleas for patience. Acef has scryed them retreating to the grove outside of town. Kheegan says he has dispatched some of our new allies to deal with them.

Entry 9
At last! The earth has collapsed, plunging this peasant village into the underdark and freeing the keep. The orb’s magic has held us aloft, but Acef needs more time to attune the orb before he can control the keep’s movement. He has shrouded us in mist to hide the keep from view for now. I grow weary of this waiting.

Letter from Kheegan to Ule
The sword Bar N’adir was in the possession of the Regent of Harrenshire, as you suspected. Likely it was gifted to him by Gargandolar’s mate. I have claimed it, though I do not have the means to touch it, much less destroy it. I am closing in on the location of the next implement. I suspect the cloak was taken as a trophy long ago by the beholder Xarschotz when you tricked Orus into confronting him alone. Xarschotz has long since passed his mortal lifespan, but has undergone transformation into a death tyrant. Rumor has it he lairs in the shadowfell. At great cost of resources I have acquired the sigil sequence to his teleportation portal there. The whereabouts of the staff and the mail yet elude me.

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Part XXVI, Well Diving

Debating what to do next, Ando decides to try opening up a portal to the permanent teleportation circle atop his tower in Castle Targus, on the chance that it may have survived the catastrophe. The portal works, and the party crosses over cautiously where they find the keep intact, surrounded by swirling grey mist, and occupied by Prince Obyr’s court accompanied by undead and demons. The heroes defeat many of these foes, including Baron Verdais, who appears to be a newly created vampire. The castle courtyard is now inhabited by a demonic spider-like bebilith which provokes an epic battle. Wounded, D’lar throws himself in the courtyard’s well to avoid the onrushing beast. He realizes the keep is now situated on a floating hunk of rock hovering above the ruins of Harrenshire as he plummets straight through into empty space and meets his death on the rubble of the pit floor hundreds of feet below.

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Part XXV, Descent into The Pit

As the party peers off the ledge, the bottom is lost in smoke, although the faint glow of fires can be seen filtering up through the heavy blanket of settling dust. The faint sounds of battle can be heard over the roar of the Nodamyr as it rushes over the edge.

The party descends into the smoking pit where the town of Harrenshire once stood in an attempt to rescue as many victims of the catastrophe as they can.They find the Temple of Agan has plummeted to the bottom and remains there, semi-intact. Polonus and some clerics survive and are making a valiant effort to dig out survivors and fend off the marauding undead and demons. The party rescues them and tries to make their way to the surface. On the way, they encounter the svirfneblin.

The collapse of Harrenshire has exposed the deep gnomes, and put the party’s long-time allies at risk. Carmaneren asks the party for help in holding back the hordes of undead while the gnomes shore up the fortifications of their subterranean village. The party obliges while Snagger escorts refugees to the sanctuary of the Grove.

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Part XXIV, Defending the Grove

The party shelters in the safety of the Grove of Lowen, recovering from the ordeal of their long imprisonment. They are reunited with Morin, Snagger, and Silverpaw. The rumbling they have been hearing over the past week grows louder and stronger. The earth trembles until, in the middle of the night, there is a mighty crack and the earth heaves and quakes. Morning illuminates a dust-filled sky and a massive sinkhole in the earth where Harrenshire had once stood.

Sylvani arrives to investigate, having learned of the destruction of Harrenshire when the Grove comes under attack! A red dragon flies up from the depths of the pit, dropping azers, hellhounds, and salamanders into the grove. They start fires everywhere attempting to burn the grove down. After the companions fend off the attackers, Sylvani reveals more information regarding Scar and the Implements of Inuria.

“The lich we knew as Scar was… is… something more. Something fouler then I believed at first. When he slew my mate and stole our eggs I knew he was a powerful undead wizard, but there is more. When we defeated him on the Plains of Scole I thought any connection to a phylactery was severed since he had transferred his essence into the undead monstrosity; and that your arrow had slain him for good. But the entity we know as Scar is not dead. His life essence has reformed somewhere beyond my ability to scry.

What I have learned, much to my dismay is that a lich is but part of what Scar really is. His true name is Ule Inur. He is a demi-god of sorts – the spawn of the goddess Emptietine in an age long past when she came to the world as a beautiful temptress and seduced the Emperor of Inuria.

Once, the high age of men was marked by the rule of the Inurian Empire. It covered all the midland realms: Scole, Aras, Palamon, the lands of the squabbling Cobian lordlings, and much of the south and west to Gomia and beyond. It was a land founded on faith in Agan and strong moral quality. Just as Emptietine intended, the birth of Ule – an illegitimate bastard heir to the Empire – would eventually lead to its downfall, proving a death-stroke to the enlightened age of men; and a weakening of Agan, her hated enemy.

Ule it seems has the patience and subtlety of his mother, the goddess of trickery and vengeance; yet also the boldness and lustfulness of his human father. He is an extremely dangerous enemy, and we have drawn his full attention. I fear this disaster that has befallen Harrenshire is his doing; merely one strand in the web of his plan for revenge and conquest.

Yet there is something else in motion here, for the Goblynoid War was of his engineering long before he encountered us. Is it simple lust for power and vengeance that drives him, or is there some other more sinister motive beyond our ability to perceive?

The Implements of Inuria were a set of magical artifacts created in a time long past to defend the Empire of Inuria. Each implement had a special purpose to defend against a specific threat, and each was entrusted to a champion of the Empire to wield it. The implements were powerful in their own right, but proved even more potent when the champions fought together in concert.

The champions were Ule’s biggest obstacle in bringing the Empire to its knees. He eventually brought about the downfall of each through trickery and deceit. Ule greatly feared the combined power of the implements, as legend foretold of his destruction at the hands of their wielders. Regardless if these legends hold true, the Implements of Inuria would be valuable tools with which to bring about his final demise. You now possess one of those implements . . .
The sword, Bar N’adir.”

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Part XXIII, Welcome Home

Prince Obyr arrives in Harrenshire for his royal visit while the heroes are busy in Moonstair. When the party returns, Obyr accuses the companions of treason (plotting an alliance with Thayrund to invade Scole) and imprisons them. Frandris is used as a pawn and is tortured beyond the breaking point to testify against them. Obyr relieves Targus as Regent of Harrenshire and appoints Baron Verdais, one of his court lackeys, and “a real noble,” as Baron of Harrenshire.

Devoid of all their possessions and magic items, the party is held captive in the dungeons below Castle Targus for several months. Weakened and emaciated, they try many methods of escape but are unsuccessful. They begin to hear a rumbling beneath the earth. Is it delirium?

Skodris, now sworn to the service of Harrenshire’s new lord, secretly aids in their escape by unlocking their cell and distracting the watch. Skodris steals Bar N’adir from the vault and brings it to Targus to help them fight their way free from the castle. He says a loyal man has taken the rest of their gear to the Grove. Captain Reginold and a group of guards attempt to bar their exit. The party must fight their friend who refuses to break his oath to the Royal Prince. The party escapes to the Grove of Lowen.

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Part XXII, Trolls In Moonstair

forthcoming…

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Part XXI, The Glass Pool

After a short rest, the party returns to the palace of the kuo-toan king where they interrupt the coronation ceremony of Bupgopgoorg’s son, Prince Bagoorgoop. The party slays or drives off all in attendance, including an aboleth – the first of its kind that they have seen.

Moving quickly to strike at the last remaining power structure of the city, the party assaults the dome of the Glass Pool itself, in hopes of taking down the priesthood and ridding the world of this foul temple to the evil Sea Mother. They find the interior of the dome an eerily beautiful shrine of tile mosaics, cascading waterfalls, and shimmering mother-of-pearl walls. A giant statue of Blibdoolpoolp stands at the center of a pool of brilliant blue water, and despite the place’s beauty, it radiates with a permeating chill of evil.

Inside, they encounter the kuo-toan high priest and his many minions. The great central statue animates into a monstrous construct infused with the essence of the Sea Mother and defends the temple. The high priest calls forth a swarm of giant lobsters, and the party fights for their lives on and below the surface of the water.

When at last the statue of the Sea Mother is defeated it crumbles into the pool, opening a swirling whirlpool taking everything with it. The remaining kuo-toan priests go insane with the sudden severance from their deity’s power and are swept away in the vortex. The party barely escapes as the dome collapses around them.

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