Avlis Campaign 5, Part 3
This is Avlis Canon Material
As they arrived in Riftside, the adventurers found themselves on a high rise that gradually descended down to a large town. The cavern was immensely high, with only black roiling vapors visible distantly above them. Shortly after entering, a black rain began to fall lightly from the strange cave ceiling.
The unusual sight made them concerned, and as they passed a wandering half-orc merchant, the group enquired about the rain. The merchant only had some half-coherent explanation about planar rifts and occasions of weather infiltration from one of The Nine Hells. Ash collected a sample and Lana dared Booker's to sip it, which he did, but nothing happened.
Continuing onward, the group found out the location of an inn where they could rest and recuperate. As they walked down the hill into the town, the cavern floor began to slope upward once more to a higher area located in the center of the town where the Inn was.
To finish the task, Ash ran up to the mortally wounded elf, dragged him into an alley, and slit his throat.
Aghast, his party members asked what just happened. Ash explained that as an ex-serviceman of a sereg unit, his life was forfeit if any of his old unit members should find him. The sereg he killed was a member and fellow soldier from his unit, and Ash was sure the sereg would have attacked if he saw Ash first. Moreover, there may be other members of his old unit in town. The group decided to get out of public and head for the inn to lay low. They arrived at The Bronze Knob Inn and managed to have some quiet time drinking and listening to the local patrons.
Once they had a good night's sleep, they came downstairs for breakfast and found the Inn empty. Immediately in their confusion, arrows flew at them from hidden locations. Gradually they spotted a troop of stealthy sereg'wethrin all around, and a fight began. Over time, the fight turned against the sereg'wethrin unit. Two fled. Two were captured, and the rest died.
One of the captured sereg who seemed to be in charge of the group refused to speak when taken back to the rooms and questioned. Ash and Maloney sent the group downstairs and killed him. The second sereg surrendered before the battle was over. He told them that shortly after Ash abandoned the unit due to his discovery of sorcerous powers, the same thing happened to this sereg. He said his name was Berylath, and asked if Ash could mentor him to help him learn to control his powers. Ash reluctantly agreed, noting that the sereg never raised a hand against the party in that battle.
The group then packed up and got out of the Inn and began to look for passage across the Planerift River. A goblin fishmonger told them that a nixie named Harlok ran a boat across for a fee, so they sought him out and began to negotiate. Harlok said he would do it for 10gp, the protection of the PC's, and their promise to deliver a couple crates to a noble living on the side of Dwarfbow Lake, about 20 miles to the west. The party discussed it but found that the destination was along their route anyway, so they agreed.
As the nixie Harlok poled them across the river on his two-level low-riding barge, the group heard a thumping sound from the cargo hold. Bookers and Lana went to investigate and found the noise coming from a crate, which happened to be one of the ones the captain charged them with delivering to the noble estate on Dwarfbow Lake. As more thumps emanated from the crate, and the two crates below it, the group decided to open one of them and root around in it. They soon discovered a metalic egg with an off-yellow color.
Instead of exploring the crates further, however, the group was distracted when the boat was attacked by vicious subterranean river sharks. As they dispatched the creatures and made it to shore, the eggs began to hatch, and soon the group was being followed by three newborn pyrite dragons. Instead of being aggressive, however, the dragons were curious. After some deliberation and searching of the crates, a note was found and the group realized that the eggs were deposited by the dragons' mother into a gold dragon's nest to trick it into raising them. The gold dragon caught the trick, however, and was returning the eggs to the "Lady of the Dwarfbow", which they supposed was a pyrite dragon in humanoid form. Wanting none of that quest, the group tricked the dragons into a distraction and abandoned them, teaching them the phrase "People are not food." in the process.
Continuing their journey onward toward Darkstone, the group entered the Pyrite Caverns where they encountered some minotaur bandits and an ooze para-elemental, which they dispatched.
As the trip wore on, the group stumbled on a curious cavern with two lifeless white figures standing outside the entrance. They were unresponsive to any prodding by Bookers, but a sign above the way read "All are welcome" in kharakuro dwarven writing. Cautiously, the group walked past the silent standing figures and ventured inside. There they found a room that appeared to be used as a hospital, with two patients recovering among the beds. Ash woke up one of them, an adomkuro with a bruised face who recalled a terrible attack in the Pyrite Caverns where he was rescued by a mysterious figure in white robes. He knew nothing more. Walking out of that room, the party found a second room with two more figures standing inside. The room appeared to be a laboratory with several newly dead bodies laying on tables, and the two figures regarded them. One was an adomkuro male in white robes and the other was a female kharakuro in plate armor. They greeted the adventurers, introducing themselves as Selan the White Necromancer and Hilda, paladin of Gorethar.
Confused, the group quizzed the two on their business and found out that the cavern was used as a way station for the wounded. Selan collected those whom he found in the caverns and did what he could to nurse them back to health, and the ones whom he could not help were turned into neverdead. The man in white robes invited the group to rest and recuperate there, which they accepted.
During the night they talked with Hilda about Selan's habits of treating the dead disrespectfully by raising them into mindless neverdead called sadiks. These neverdead were akin to their undead zombie counterparts, but with no rotting. Their hearts would beat and their skin was warm to the touch because they were infused with positive plane energy instead of negative plane energy. Hilda did not think any of this was natural and quizzed the gang on their mission. Kiv explained everything and Hilda was intrigued enough to ask if she could come along. The group deliberated for a short while and accepted, increasing their number.
Setting off from the cavern and saying goodbye to Selan, the group finished their journey to Darkstone. There in the taverns they searched for Kiv's contact and found him: a large grumpy minotaur. This minotaur represented the group within Lord Hutha's army that requested the power of runic magic for their gain, and it was Kiv's mission to teach them and give them their initial supplies. He was to stay back and do this, but the minotaur wanted to seal the deal: he demanded that the rest of the group go to Varwat Citadel via the village of Galifanstock. There, the party, as representatives of The Burning Page was to take out a group called "The Fell Pit Gang" which stole runic magic for themselves and was using it to cause trouble in the city. Kiv thought this was a good idea in any case, because though The Fell Pit Gang mostly likely got their runes in a "fair" way by killing a convoy of The Burning Page, he was sure that also meant the gang would not join them and pledge loyalty to the system of runic magic their were trying to establish. Killing them would remove them from the board and help establish the primacy of The Burning Page over runic magic.
The group therefore set off the next day without Kiv to head for Varwat Citadel. After a brutal fight with an intellect devourer they continued their journey.
Upon arrival at Varwat Citadel after taking a river boat from Galifanstock, the group found themselves an Inn to recuperate. They began their inquiry into finding the Fell Pit Gang, and slowly took in the politics of the city. It appeared that the rank and file soldiery patrolling the streets was unhappy with Lord Hutha's rule because they felt she was too close to the Violet Order of the Skull, which had a considerable presence in the city. They were unsure as of yet how the Fell Pit Gang fit into the situation, except to see that they stole the secrets of runic magic and that Lord Hutha wanted them dead for it.
Slowly they followed clues and monitored the bar fights that popped up around them for pieces of information. They found a Fell Pit Gang member drinking at Kharak's Divine Toad Inn and decided to follow him back to wherever he was going. Sure enough, he led them to a hideout, but the lookouts around the area tipped off the gang which attacked the party.
After a slogging fight, the party made its way into the main lair of the gang and wiped them out, finding their precious runic implements and secrets in the process.
These actions caught the attention of Evin Binder, one of the leaders of The Burning Page and a high-ranking member of its sub-group, The Binders. He was waiting for the crew when they arrived back at the tavern to rest. He explained again the arrangement of how The Burning Page works, and how The Binders, or more specifically the Binder family are the management of the organization. The Death Runes are the largest merchant and mercenary arm of The Burning Page and the Glyph Bringers is the newest branch comprised of true saemilists, like Lana Hewl and Yarlan "Yar" Wayforth. He invites the group to join in full membership, given their actions in support.
After some deliberation, each member of the party finds at least some temporary reasoning to throw in their lot with The Burning Page, at which point Evin moves on to discuss business. He explains that he intends to make Varwat Citadel the capitol and headquarters for the entire organization but it will take some work. First, he needs a training quarters and explains that a dungeon to the north was once an abandoned keep that he would like to convert into the training grounds. He hires the group to clear the dungeon.
Ash and Maloney ask what that Fell Pit Gang bit was all about. Evin explains that Demon Lady Hutha was approached by the Violet Order to acquire runic magic information so they could study it, but they did not want to be implicated. Lady Hutha hired the Fell Pit Gang to ambush a Death Rune caravan to get said info so she could turn it over to Violet. Unfortunately, the Fell Pit Gang figured out what they had, and being a gang of cambion, they were powerful enough to hold onto it and refuse to turn it over.
Hutha thought she could kill two birds with one stone by hiring the Burning Page to teach her men the knowledge (so they can turn it over to Violet) and kill the Fell Pit Gang.
Meanwhile, the rank and file soldiers of Hutha are not pleased with her rule. They feel that she is too close to Violet, and given that Violet is not particularly loyal to any Demon Lord, they worry about this. Many decrees lately have favored Violet mages and their order. They want Hutha out and are willing to partner with the Burning Page to do this. They see that organization more as a trading partner and ally, for which they would be better off having in charge.
Evin Binder plans to take full advantage of this situation, starting with clearing that dungeon.
With promises of great fortunes and keeping the loot that they find within, the party set off to knock out anything still moving around in the abandoned keep. Quickly, they found out that the keep was not abandoned in the strictest sense of the word. Instead it was full of warring Devils and Demons portalling in from unknown sources. The group was pushed to its limits fighting off encounters with these factions until eventually uncovering a mysterious figure frozen in some sort of suspended animation. Using some knowledge of magic, the group managed to wake up this person who turned out to be a soldier named Sergeant Agel, who worked for the long-dead Demon Lord that once controlled this keep.
The long-dead (>300 yrs) adomkuro Demon Lord named Belgarn the Deadly once possessed the keep. Rumors say that he was able to obtain immortality, power and prestige to become a Demon Lord by selling his soul to a devil. However, through his extreme cleverness he got the better hand of the contract and managed to press a number of devils into his service at his keep. They fueled his army.
Even more peculiar was his penchant for dealing with demons. Though they did not honor most deals, Belgarn was able to out-manipulate them into his service as well, and even at times force them to fight in his armies alongside their hated rivals from Hell. Though his armies barely held together, Belgarn was untouchable throughout parts of the Underdark.
One day, however, his payment came due and the devils managed to take possession of his soul. Instantly, his army of hated rivals flew apart and began to fight for control of his keep, mostly out of hatred than principle or a desire for conquest. The battles within the keep continue to this day, and even get so heated that parts of the keep can slip temporarily into Hell or The Abyss from time to time depending on how much they conform to the standards of those planes and whether or not any nearby portals are open. Sergeant Agel witnessed the early beginning of this chaos before being put into hybernation.
With this new information, and with Agel's knowledge of the layout of the keep, the group pushed toward the center, thinking that this might be where the source of the trouble emanates. Sure enough, Agel's hunch was correct and the middle of the keep was the source of the battle. There, two portals on either side of the grand hall were supplied by beams of energy originating from a single floating box in the middle of the room. The box had windows on either side, from which the beams shot out to the portals.
That was pretty much all they could notice before the grand melee ensued. As they fought, Agel fell in battle, and the group pushed on, slaying demons and devils alike. Eventually they realized that inside the box, if one peered through the windows, was a glowing contract written in some kind of bloody ink. Ash quickly attempted to shatter one of the windows while his partners covered him, and he grabbed the contract and tore it in half. This abruptly made it explode and took the portals with it. However, the party was safe and the keep's demon/devil population instantly evaporated into thin air. The empty keep was wide open for looting.
After reporting back to Evin Binder, who was pleased with their work, the party was rewarded heavily with money and items. They spent heavily and worked on making some improvements to the small flat that Evin Binder gave them not long before, from a previous adventure. Evin Binder had another mission for them with some equally good possibility for reward. The party deliberated briefly and then agreed. Evin told them his plan to weaken the local Demon Lord Hutha and eventually control Varwat Citadel for himself and the Burning Page so they can turn it into their center of organization. He heard a rumor that several groups of Hutha’s people in the city are interested in learning this new power of runic magic. Evin wants to train them in it but in return he wants them to take down their Demon Lord. After that he does not care if they remain loyal to him and the Burning Page or not.
He requests the party to go into the city to recruit for this uprising against Demon Lord Hutha. There were three targets he selected in particular: a group of thieves from the Rocs Guild led by Teera Geru expressed interest in the power and dissension with Hutha, a unit of Hutha’s heavy infantry under Commander Tew is rumored to have a commander looking to defect and help hold the land for the Binder, a small group of adventurers that called themselves the Wreck Fast Club peaked notice of the Binders and was worth looking at for possible use.
The party is to recruit and escort them back to Evin Binder, extracting them from trouble if necessary. To figure out their next move, the party selected a tavern to visit, and purposely picked one that was near Commander Tew's outpost on the southwestern part of the city. Their hunch was correct. In the tavern was an off-duty female adomkuro soldier, whom they clumsily approached and tried to ply her with liquor, which partially worked. They found out that Tew would sometimes hire adventurers and they could ask a courtier for a meeting time with him. After that, the group decided to scout Tew's camp and tower, and they found that it was heavily guarded. Ash flew near the ceiling o the massive cavern containing the city to avoid detection while Brunhilda and Maloney approached the front gate to talk. At the gate, a shakedown occurred and the pair wound up paying a lot of gold but eventually got a meeting arranged with Tew by the same sergeant they met in the tavern.
Commander Tew told the pair that he would meet with Evin Binder in his tower or in a neutral place, like the main Guild Hall of the Roc's Guild in Varwaat Citadel. Maloney said they would take this information back to Binder and see what happens.
After the meeting the group met up at the bar again and found a lonely half-nymph female sitting at a table, who turned out to be a member of the Wreck Fast Club. The conversation went well and she agreed to have her party meet theirs in 24 hours at the tavern. That meeting went very well. The Wreck Fast Club had 5 members:
Has - Male Half-drangonari Elf Fighter Gebrula - Female half nymph druid of O‘Ma Vercules - Male Orc Fighter/Psion Jales - Female Goblin Rogue Kerralan - Male Adomkuro Sorcerer
The two groups hit it off pretty well, and agreed that a meeting with Evin Binder would be fine. The Wreck Fast Club followed the group back to Evin Binder who was pleased as he separated the two groups and continued the conversation with Maloney to update him on what happened with Commander Tew. Evin Binder agreed that he would meet Tew in the Roc's Guild Hall.