BAND OF IRONS

Into Hell

The Gnomes have indeed broken into something ancient. The floor is collapsed and below it is a pile of rubble with a passage leading off. There is the persistent sssh sssh sssh sounding like whispers, it is louder from below, but still could just be tricks of wind across something. The passage is 20 feet wide and domes to a 20 foot high ceiling.

The walls bear simple geometric designs, elongated lines and shapes that snake in various directions. They once look to have been painted In colors purples and yellows, but the paint has flaked off. Some of the lines have as well broken away from the walls, heaps of plaster line the corridor.

There are some ropes attached as if someone had lowered themselves in here. Away from the pile of rubble you see several sets of footprints leading inward. 50 feet in the corridor comes to a 4 way. To the left and right are large alcoves, 20 feet wide and 30 feet deep. . the several footprints lead around in here as if this area has been investigated. To the right is a long dry bedroll, hardened to almost petrification by age.

Ahead you think there is a faint flickering light.

The corridor continues another 50 feet and 4 ways again. To the left and right are longer alcoves, still 20 feet wide but now 40 feet deep. The one of the left holds what looks like a smashed picture or mirror frame. To the right the end of the passage has collapsed. The frame looks to have once held a mirror, full length dressing mirror. There looks to be no shattered glass and only 1/3 of the frame remains. A careful inspection turns up what look like glass, possibly very highly polished stone., only a few small shards though.

Ahead you now are sure you see a faint flickering light.

50 feet on and the corridor 4 ways again. This time a huge octagonal room 50×50 with 30 foot wide corridors going off in 4 directions and a 30 foot high domed ceiling. . Ahead is seemingly a wall of spider webs, behind it a flickering green light. There is the faint smell of decay in the air. As the other 4 ways the left and right end in alcoves.

There are footprints and drag marks leading to the right, and footprints turning and running from this area. the whispers you have heard increase, echoing in this larger chamber.

To the right are two piles of rubble, the ceiling has partially collapsed, the drag marks and footprints go behind the rubble. To the left 3 short stairs lead to a marble dais. There is a fresco scene painted on the wall, a shout comes from behind you. Turning 3 ghouls emerge from rubble.

The Ghouls rush the party, Helm uses his holy symbol and turns them. Ones runs into the spider webs and the other 2 flee back toward the rubble. Melee weapon and spells cut down the fleeing ghouls, one manages to pull apart a lot of spider web. You see a multitude of small black spiders coursing across its body. In the hole it made you can see stairs descending.

session break

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Head to the Gnome Mine

Your next task is the gnome mine. You had been there with Zarlag so the mine personal will know you. It is a long slog to what you suspect is the north. You meet up with the young fighter Igneight, who had remained at the at the Inn while you had adventured into the Troglodyte area.

You travel through many miles of tunnel before exiting into the large area of the underdark. Leaving gnome fortifications behind you travel into the rock waste and eventually come to the cold swamp.

Ahead the rock tower looms, it is dark and looks abandoned. As you near you see the 3 entrances, one on the left has a rope ladder lowered, obviously the defenses are down. The other two entrances have evidence of something trying to climb….

There is a splashing and a wail behind you, in the dim light you see what looks like gnome minors running toward you. Most of the group thinks to retreat into the mine, climbing the ladder and using the ropes of climbing….but the young human fighter Igneight at first turns to great the gnomes…but his human eyes are not wick to adjust to the dark and he is set upon by 5 gnomes who are now ghouls…..

The ghouls claw an bite Igneight who fights back, but is soon paralyzed. Hatching a reluctant plan to save the wayward fighter, the cleric Helm warns of fireball, the druid Storm will try to use a damaging ice spray on the fighter, hopefully saving him from some of the fireball’s blast. At the same time the Paladin, leaps into action, hoping to drag the injured fighter to safety.

All goes as generally planned, the magic ice does not kill the paralyzed fighter, but the fireball blast blows him over, his damaged paralyzed body in danger of drowning in the cold grey muck. Tiberious the paladin moves faster than anyone has seen him before, ‘blinking’ as Storm has done to the spot of the injured fighter, scoping him up and caring him back to the safety of the tower. All the ghouls lie dead from the blast.

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A taking Ghoul ?

The Gnome Clerics mutter words and present holy symbols toward the ghoul in the cell, it hisses and yelps. Eventually you hear it swear in undercommon, clearly it has some ability to speak.

Vinny questions it repeatedly trying to get some sort of hints as to where it comes from and why it can speak. The ghoul is snotty in its response as the negotiations break down the ghoul repeatedly saying “we will bury you” and threatening to eat everybody. Turning the ghoul is successful and it spends a minute trying to claw out of the cell and flee from the multiple clerics. Even that does not convince it to give up any information. King Greybeard eventually agrees with you to kill it with fire.

The ghoul is killed using magic and holy fire, it chars into ash. Greybeard allows you to go with his clerics who invite you to a library. They give you a rundown on ghouls, how to battle them and why they are dangerous.

GHOUL
You currently know from battling ghouls:
They can cause paralysis with their claws
They are fast and dexterous
They do make noise, howls, grunts and wails.

The Gnome Clerics fill you in
They crave flesh, both living and dead, but prefer living flesh, torn fresh.
The bite of a ghoul can infect any race but elves. But you have seen Drow elf ghouls.
One bitten by a ghoul will rise as a ghoul the next night unless cured (disease)
The claws can paralyze. Ghouls will paralyze their prey then feast on the living body.

A ghoul resembles an emaciated version of whatever creature it was in life, but with a large jaw.
A ghoul’s skin is possessed of a deathly grey pallor often covered in blotches.
Ghouls are skin and bones with abnormally long arms that end in hands with long spindly fingers and claw like fingernails. These fingernails drip with a black ooze which acts as a poison that causes paralysis.
Ghouls have no body hair and their teeth more closely resemble canine teeth with massively exaggerated canines and incisors.
A ghoul’s skull actually has a longer mandible that protrudes. As a result, a ghoul’s skull vaguely resembles that of a dog or wolf yet maintaining its humanoid appearance.

Anyone bitten by a ghoul, who becomes hungry for raw meat should be cured of disease immediately. Other symptoms include hair loss and pale skin. The curing of disease is more effective if given by a cleric or paladin of Lawful Good alignment.

They don’t understand why a ghoul hungers, as they do not seem to need food to survive.

GHAST
They have occasionally encountered a more powerful ghoul called a ghast. The ghast has more necrotic energy, and puts off the stench of decay that can sicken.
While the ghoul’s paralysis is caused by poison, a ghast’s comes from necrotic energy, and can even paralyze elves.
This nuecrotic energy, even a slight amount can turn anyone into a ghoul.
They think ghasts are ghouls who have eaten a lot of living flesh, developing into ghasts through rudimentary forms of necromancy. .
Ghasts tend to be more intelligent, and even lead packs of ghouls.

The clerics think this is a more intelligent form of ghast. It does not have the stench of decay, but has the ability to speak.

COMBAT
Take off the head
Take out the stomach
Don’t need silver or magic weapons
Poison doesn’t work on undead

They further tell you the lore:
Of all the creatures of undeath, ghouls are one of the most fearful. Long ago an elven necromancer began to eat the flesh of other elves, he was worshipping the demon Orcus, the king of undeath. As a twisted reward, the undeathly king turned the elf into the first ghoul, with the power to make more ghouls, an undead army for the king of undead.

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King Greybeard and the ghoul

The group rises and meets Grey beard at the castle early the next day. Since you are in the underdark there is no true sunrise and sunset but due to the gnomes modification of their environment there is a semblance of time passing in 24 hour “days”

You enter the King’s round chamber, heavily flanked by guards including more o the balcony than you saw last time here. King Greybeard thanks you for finding his son-in-laws body and the information you brought back. “It will help keep our kingdom secure” he tells you solemnly. But there is something else that has come to my attention and you may want to see it too.

The king and a heavy contingent of guards including several clerics lead you outside and around back of the spire. You enter a second heavily guarded portcullis and descend into a dungeon like environment. A gnome cleric in flowing grey robes is near you and explains, “We have a prison for those who have done wrong in society, but this is for extreme traitors, or those who wish to destroy our city.” The cleric thumbs his holy symbol, something you’ve seen before a 6 pointed star in a ring, golden in color it is the symbol of Calladrun Smoothhands the patron of the deep gnomes.

You are led through corridors past many security posts and locked doors. eventually a room with 3 barred doors on the far wall. There are implements of torture in the room. The doors are mostly solid metal with smallish barred windows , two clerics stand by the door on the right.

At their beckoning you peer inside. What used to be a Drow, now clearly and undead in ghoul is hunched in the corner. it turns slightly acknowledging your presence. Its skin is ashen, and long black fangs hang from its grotesque mouth, similar to the claws on its fingers. It wears the remnants of leather armor, and a long black worm of a tongue darts from its mouth.

“You shouldn’t have that thing here, warns some of the party, if it gets out….” King Greybeard looks back at you, “I know but this is of concern, MAKE IT TALK!” he yells to the clerics.

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Glimmerfell

After the funeral banquet the party moves about Glimmerfell City taking a look at some of the amenities. The area seems to see much trade, as there is a large open air market but most of the humanoids you see are Deep Gnomes. There are a few Druger caravans that stop, but no Drow are seen, reasoning that the Druegar tend to be more Lawful than the Neutral Evil Drow, but are still watched by gnome guards as they ply their trade.

There are a smattering of overworld races, seemingly single traders or emissaries, halfling, dwarf, gnome here and there. The market has a great amount of foodstuffs, dozens of varieties of mushrooms but no spices except for salt, a lot of salt. Gems and crystals are numerous, as are worked metal weapons and armor. You do find a variety of silk that is unlike any you’ve seen before. It is very expensive, but Vinny thinks this would be a good mover in the above ground world.

Vinny
Rare here:
Wine/fruit/grain
Wood/paper
Spices besides salt

Abundant here
Gems/crystal
Mushrooms (food)
Salt

You are put up in a large tavern hostel that has numerous rooms for larger creatures, but the ceilings are still low and the doorways a little small.

You quickly grow tired of the many varieties of mushrooms as they all taste the same to you. Seemingly coming in 3 varieties Unsalted (bland), salted, and heavily salted. They are served raw or grilled, or in a broth soup

The primary alcohol is a frothy mushroom potent, weak in alcohol with a musty-moldy taste. Tiberious drinks gallons of it all the while saying “this stuff is terrible” Turok also consumes huge quantities, but seems to like it.

The next day a runner comes and you are requested at the King’s castle. The runner tells you there is something of concern to all in the under-dark. When questioned about it, the gnome tells you you will have to wait until the King sees you

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Back to Glimmerfell

After a good rest in the stalactite, the party heads back to Glimmerfell.

With a solemn respect they return the body of Kai Rifter, alas too far gone for resurrection to his family. King Greybeard looks sad and his wife Hrodel bursts into tears.

After several hours you are asked to see the king and you go over what has transpired. The party informs the King about the nefarious plans of the Illithid and that Kai Rifter was a hero in death eliminating the threat BUT the Troglodytes have been scattered and the Kuo Toa will continue to pose a threat.

The King thanks you and tells you to get some rest, a banquet will be held in your honor the following day

The King thanks you and tells you to get some rest, a banquet will be held in your honor the following day. Town criers are heard throughout the city, calling the citizens to mourn the loss of the city hero and announcing a funeral procession tomorrow “morning”.

The following “morning” a funeral procession is held through the city for Kai. A wagon drawn by a large lizard caries his body slowly though the town. Many mourners throw gifts into the cart (mostly mushrooms) until his coffin is covered. Hrodel walks alone behind the cart, draped in a purple gown and veil

King Grey beard gives a speech in the far area of town in a natural amphitheater. He speaks of many of Kai’s noble deeds, and tells (whatever you told him) and based on the journals that Kai was a hero in death. He also warns of the threat that the Kuo Toa now pose

He gives your party a little praise, Turok, Tiberious, Storm and Helm are in attendance, the king has a ceremonial “key” that will give you general access to the city as a VIP and a discount on goods and services.

After the funeral procession and large outdoor banquet is held, food and drink and gnomes singing the praises of Kai Rifter’s life.

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Time in the Stalactite

The party rests in the mansion, it seems lie a safe place. 24 hours pass as you recuperate and look over the loot.

Vinny inquires about the elf maidens while Alynis and Kvothe read the journals. The remainder look about the mansion and recuperate.

The mansion walls are translucent purple plastic/jelly like material that faintly glows.

Vinny (Elf Maidens)
Your questions are met with curious blank stares, and then more offers to bring you food or drink.
Questions about the master indicate that his name was Saer’Taz (sayer-tahz). but questions about why they serve him and how he controls them are met with blank stares.
Tiberious fills you in a bit about mind flayers and their powerful mind control ability, he speculates that these elves are too far gone, parts of their brains maybe destroyed. They are ‘thralls’ and even with Saer’Taz death, they know nothing but to continue to serve.

Alynis (Saer’Taz Journel)
A quick look over o f the journal indicates Saer’Taz was a Joesef Mengele type experimenter sent by someone/something called Goryc. Goryc has tasked Saer’Taz to attempt to raise a Troglodyte army to fight the Kou Toa.

Kou Toa where once subjects of the Mind Flayers, and have an intense hatred for them. It seems as though recently some of the Kuo Toa have become immune to Illithid mind control

In addition Saer’Taz was to strengthen the Troglodytes to be better equipped to fight the Kou Toa. Kou Toa (4 hit dice) are about twice as strong as a Trog (2 hit dice).

The journal goes into detail about the pools of jelly you encountered being healing pools and that Saer’Taz was grafting parts of other underworld denizens
Mandibles and antennae from an umber hulk
Blade arms from a hook horror
Horn from a giant bull
Legs from giant frog
Claws from a giant wolverine
Tentacles from a displacer beast

You have now found valuable research for these creatures and can combat them as if you have encountered them before as the journal goes into great detail about their ecology

Kvothe (Kai Rifter journal)
Kai Rifter is a heroic warrior of the deep gnome city of Glimmerfell who you were sent to recover

His journal indicates that the Troglodytes had previously been a barrier to the Kuo Toa.
The Trogs and Kuo Toa warring with each other kept them from bothering the Gnomes.
Recently the Troglodytes numbers had diminished and the Kuo Toa had begun appearing in Gnome territory.

Kai had spent several months in the Troglodyte territory and noted their numbers diminishing.
He eventually found a Trog outpost and used a necklace of disguise self (as a Troglodyte) to follow a Troglodyte patrol back to their lair.
You speculate that this is the reason that his body keeps changing from Troglodyte form to gnome form (Kai’s body is wearing a necklace, it seems damaged as if crushed.

Kai spent weeks observing the Trogs, discovering that they were being manipulated by an Illithid
Kai notes that the Illithid was performing gruesome experiments on the Trogs, combining parts of other creatures with the Trogs

Kai knew the Illithid needed to be destroyed, and made plans to kill the Illithid, that is the last entry.

You feel that the Troglodytes may have been honoring him in the funeral pyre. It seems likely that his plan to kill the illithid, resulted in both of their deaths. This set the Troglodytes free.

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Everyone heads back to the Grotto

Vinny is waiting for the group when they return and the whole of the party retreats to the tower. Now that the party possesses two ropes of climbing the stalactite is easily accessed.

Loot is put in the portable hole and moved to the stalactite to sort

The stalactite is carved in the shape of a 3 jawed tooth filled maw (think Predator)

Inside the mouth 20×20 is a throne that can be moved to the mouth’s edge by way of a gear and track system, this also exposes a portal behind the throne that leads to a “mansion” (think Dr Who TARDIS, bigger on the inside)

You can not access the portal, unless the illithid hand (on a neck chain) is in close proximity

BUT subsequent moving of the throne, releases a swarm of albino bats (trap) several in the party are bit as they fight off the bats. The bats are a magical trap and reset every 10 minutes

The walls of the mansion are translucent purple plastic that glows feebly.

There are 3 scantily dressed elf maidens (red, yellow, blue) in the mansion. who ask if they can bring you food or drink (so far you have said no)

The mansion has 4 rooms (6 if you count the small foyer and bathroom)
Foyer/Main Banquet hall (dining room) Huge table set for 8
Library, books tossed about but many recoverable
Laboratory, a lot of smashed apparatus, but some recoverable
Bedroom elegant, with a balcony that looks over a oddity of a glowing purple city, but has also been turned over as if someone was looking for something

Also a bathroom as everyone needs to poop at some point, even Mind Flayers
Bathroom There is a small room off the main room which can be accessed by doors in the main hall and bedroom. Wash basin that continually refills with crystal clear water and a toilet that has a seemingly bottomless

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Meanwhile back at the Vinny part II

Vinny surveys the banquet hall a large room 40 × 50 with a vaulted 20 ceiling it is made of the same oddly glowing purple plastic. There are two silver doors on either side, they appear to be rough polished silver with no visible hinges or handles.

Vinny walks to the table and as he looks over the items he feels a presence, “Hello there” comes a chorus of feminine voices. Vinny wheels to see three scantily dresses elven maidens who seem to have just emerged from 3 of the 4 doors. Each is similarly attired in an almost see-through gossamer gown. The gowns are low cut , backless, whisper thin and reach the floor. The gowns are muted primary colors with one maiden wearing red, one yellow and one blue.

“May we offer you food,” says the maiden in the red gown, “or drink” says yellow. Vinny says “not now” and continues to investigate the place, all while keeping an eye on the elves.

Off to the left side of the main hall are 2 20×30 rooms. The silvered doors push open easily and swing both ways on hidden hinges. One room was clearly a library, it looks to have been ransacked, books and torn pages lie scatted about and the air reeks of Troglodyte musk. . There are some odd shaped overstuffed chairs with 6 foot tall backs and some low tables. The red elf follows Vinny in, but just waits patiently at the door.

The second room is a laboratory, many tubes, vials and odd apparatus lie smashed. There are a few brains that have begun to rot on the floor, smashed out of glass tanks. Vinny sees a few non wrecked items, but doesn’t investigate the area fully. The yellow elf follows him in here.

Across to the other side one door opens revealing a toilet and wash basin, the basin is full of crystal clear water, the toilet a black hole beneath a copper seat. There is a door in the left side wall, it most likely goes to the same area that the final door in teh banquet hall goes to, Vinny slowly opens it.

Inside is a luxurious bedroom, high backed overstuffed chairs, armoire, and a overstuffed canopy bed that has purple gossamer draped about it. This room like the others is ransacked, there are nice clothes strewn about torn and reeking of Troglodyte musk.

An open balcony leads outside, in the distance about a mile rises a purple hued glowing city. Odd shaped turrets and domes adorn it and figures can be seen moving about its streets, but there is no breeze, no sound, as if it is an illusion. directly below the balcony is blackness, seemingly bottomless.

Vinny turns to see the Blue elf has followed him in here and is waiting patiently by the door. He begins goign over teh place with a fine tooth comb….

.

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Fight in the cavern

The roadbed snakes 100 feet to a crude “gatehouse” merely a berm of rock and mud arching above the path, there are a dozen Trogloytes there holding the position. Two Giant lizard riding Trogs rush forth but the party waits back for them to come, dispatching the lizards and their riders and preparing to rain arrows and spells onto the defenders who look to be ill equipped for ranged combat.

And then a funny thing occurs in the swamp to the sides. Alynis is investigating an overturned cart when she sees what looks like a mage hand appear and try to steal one of her daggers, she shakes away from it, but then finds herself teleported 30 feet out into the swamp like watershed. Turok rushes to her aid and the two stagger back to the roadbed, unsure of what just occurred.

As the party closes in on the troglodytes there is a commotion on the other side of the gatehouse. Troglodytes concerned with something behind them back peddle into the cavern. There is something attacking them from the other side, the Trogs are now besieged by the party on one side and an unseen enemy on the other

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