For backgrounds on the characters played in this campaign, look here~
Upon the fog-shrouded river Tourondel the river barge Black Mist carried on, Kassen’s Hold three days removed as the journey to Tamran continued. Together, Brother Vang and Anselme held a quiet watch over the murky waters before being joined by Emma—at last recovered from her tormenting ailments. While the others slept and dreamt within the cabin, the trio was assailed by a rather foul stench which soon bubbled up from beneath the river’s surface before a foul green hag emerged onto the deck of the barge with a wicked cackle. Overcome by her horrendous stench, Emma and Vang succumbed to fits of nausea while the bold Anselme strode to engage the hag—only to be seized and swallowed up by the wretched woman and vomited up at Emma and Vang as if some sort of druidic projectile.
Chase and pursuit about the deck of the Black Mist ensued as the trio and Leone struggled with their stomachs, hailing blows against the tough and rubbery hide of the hag before something of a standstill was drawn; into the river the hag returned, but not before fixing Vang with a wicked gaze—tittering in unsettling tones before she vanished from sight and denied Emma further purchase in the fight. Though their battle had concluded for now, the travelers would continue to be plagued by the unknown hag as their journey down the Tourondel continued—and when Brother Vang awoke with a dress-clad fish beside him in his cot, Anselme set swiftly to work securing the barge from the hag’s transgressions—setting flour, twine and other bits together to alert of the hidden hag’s presence.
Once free from the Tourondel, the party progressed down along the coast of Lake Encarthan on their trek towards Tamran; two days passed by uneventfully (though tension remained at the potential return of the horrendous hag). On the sixth and final day of the journey the fogs had at last begun to abate over the lake and Captain Walren elected to push on for Tamran through nightfall; beneath an overcast sky with the moonlight hidden away, the flickering lights of the Nirmathas capital could be seen in the distance. As the river barge raced at what seemed a snail’s pace to reach the city, Pandora with her darkvision was able to spot the approach a keel-boat in the gloom—and soon she and her companions readied themselves for the assault of privateers on the water.
Molthuni privateers, as was discovered—led by a Captain Hans; crossbow fire pelted against those on the Black Mist as the vessel closed range, yet Anselme answered in kind and a measure beyond when a flaming sphere was loosed on the encroaching vessel. Amidst the panic of the privateers over their now-ignited deck, Cassandra loosed her own potent magic while Pandora set in motion a plan of infiltration and Vang and Emma prepared for boarding. Captain Hans retaliated with a Molthuni killing joke—“Two peanuts valk into a bar, von vas assaulted!” Cassandra was nearly slain with laughter while Anselme suffered briefly at the verbal attack.
With the vessels closed, several privateers hopped the rail to board the barge while Pandora drifted behind the keel-boat to begin an ascent unseen; together with Leone, Anselme surprised one of the privateers—albeit taking a wicked blow with such startled force that the man disarmed himself in attacking the druid. Two of the three privateers were quickly felled and the third engaged with Brother Vang while Emma, her anger roused, made to leap aboard the keel-boat to battle the privateers still on deck; swiftly realizing the danger the scarred woman posed, a pair of privateers ousted her from the railing with deck poles—sending Emma for a drink in Encarthan waters.
Amidst the chaos unfolding, Pandora assailed Captain Hans unseen—repositioning the bard free from his vessel as the pair tumbled together beneath the lake; a fierce fight ensued within the water, yet ultimately the drow won out against her foe. With the remainder of the privateers having surrendered, Captain Hans was taken into custody along with his crew and the keel-boat was claimed by the party along with a smattering of treasure—some of which even proved to be magical in nature. At long last the party arrived at Tamran; the privateers were released into the custody of the local port authority and the group made their way to Gar’s Last Meal on the recommendation of Captain Walren.
Within the curious dockside inn the group was regaled with tales from its one-armed proprietor—the limb having been the alluded ‘last meal’ of the immense fish displayed prominently over the bar itself. Drinks were raised to the party as word of their defeat of the privateers spread among the docks; Anselme proved himself to be an incredible hand at the stein and garnered the attention and bemused interest of a particular trio of patrons. A woman of the Tian orient named Kai was soon among introductions, accompanied by the sarcastic half-elf Mercutsio and a halfling druidess named Marra—herself accompanied by an immense black mastiff as sizable as Leone. As Anselme’s feline drew plentiful hand-outs from intrigued patrons, Mercutsio made an offer on the keelboat the party had inherited in their fight on the lake and was soon led by an anxious Anselme to assess a value of the vessel after the druid had consulted Captain Walren.
After a round of shrewd and insistent negotiation by the young Anselme, a sum of seven hundred and fifty gold was agreed to by Kai and soon furnished to the party for the rather battle worn vessel. In the interests of securing the considerable coinage from prying interests, Anselme bought the remainder of the evening in rounds for the inn’s many patrons before the party saw to retire for the evening. Upon the morning, however, Brother Vang found himself joined by another dreadful fish—for it seemed the hidden hag had followed the knight throughout his journey from the Tourondel, seemingly intent on breaking the faith of the man from what Captain Walren could glean of the woman’s intentions once inquired upon.
A messenger awaited the party after breakfast from Councilman Mayslen Torgun; when the group arrived, they were greeted warmly and praised for their work with the privateers, a feat for which Mayslen was all too obliged to provide payment in gold. Bringing up Mayor Uptal’s letter of introduction and request, Councilman Torgun happily forwarded the group to meeting Councilwoman Aromina Yasgon that their charge could be presented to Forest Marshal Gavrick’s attention. With their letter delivered, the party was loosed back into Tamran to await a reply—passing along the way the hanging remnants of several of the ill-fated privateers as they returned to the chaotic sprawl of the capital.
Freed from their courier duties for the nonce, the party split up to seek information regarding their lead on the missing amulet pieces and the handbill recovered in the Crypt of the Everflame; Pandora set about crafting a set of disguises as she reconnoitered the area, and after locating the Ranger’s Lament and she was drawn to a meeting with the Pathfinder agent Reginar Lacklan. The party was gathered together instead in the Forest Bounty, wherein information was exchanged with Reginar, who directed the attentions of the party to the Church of Razmir that had been erected in Tamran. Pandora soon set her sights on gathering information while Anselme secured an open account with the Church of Abadar in Tamran. Therein, Kazim, a lady cleric of Abadar, recognized Cassandra as a fellow native of Katapesh and she provided a discount to the going rate to the party.
On the morrow the messenger from the Tamran council once more awaited the party—now with word that Councilwoman Yasgon was ready to receive them once more; proceeding to the council hall, the group was informed regrettably that Forest Marshal Gavrick had declined the request to send an additional garrison to Kassen’s Hold, citing hearsay among other things. After the party’s protest, Aromina noted that she believed and agreed with the party, but expressed that she felt that the Church of Razmir was colluding and corrupting the government of Nirmathas for their own endeavors—and that the organization had expressed plans to procure a sizable army of mercenary soldiers to station within Tamran, citing their use against Molthune. To hold a standing army in Tamran, however, would certainly lead to occupation by invitation—yet she feared that Councilman Torgun was blinded by his hatred of Molthune.
Councilwoman Yasgon solicited the party for a daring endeavor of what seemed a mutual interest: infiltration of the Church of Razmir in Tamran, a feat which her own agents had failed repeatedly in the past. Speaking of the terrible ordeals and arduous initiation process, Aromina hoped that the newly arrived adventurers could succeed where her own efforts had failed; Reginar had spoke of a blue-robed woman departing from Tamran with a large party of cultists several days prior—many of whom had recently returned minus some among their number from the west, suggesting they had been the ones to transgress the crypt. Suspecting the cultists would seek Iramine for her portion of the amulet, but lacking the lead that they needed—the party agreed to infiltrate the church, hoping to find the answers sought within.
Securing a safe place for Leone as well as Brother Vang’s relic, the party attended the recruitment meeting set out by the Razmirans at the Ranger’s Lament, joined by a half-elven farmhand anxious to better his lot in life. After a vigorous presentation by a masked herald of Razmir, the party was invited to declare themselves to the living god—and after acceptance, provided plentiful food and drink. Cassandra and Pandora abstained from the food—though the latter used subtlety to feign having imbibed such—and when those in the room began to pass out, the sorceress found herself surrounded by cultists who declared they would go the hard way before beating her to unconsciousness with saps. Pandora remained conscious then as the group was hauled through a hidden underground tunnel connecting the tavern to the church; therein, they were stripped of their possessions and tossed into solitary confinement cells to await their initiation.
Upon awakening, the group was regarded once more by the black-robed herald who spoke of the need to cleanse and purify their bodies and minds before they could fully accept Razmir into their lives; the cells were attended by an immense, towering hulk of a man nearly seven feet tall and far too large for his robes. Upon speaking out, the man delivered beatings—while Anselme proved quite bold in provoking the giant of a man. After a grueling evening, the party was escorted from their cells to the receiving hall of the church where Anselme once more provoked the immense man—this time earning a vicious bloody blow as rebuke, hauled off to the infirmary. Once Anselme was conscious again, the group was taken to the thirty-one steps of the living god within the church, where each was provided the white robe of an acolyte and their own iron mask. They were informed that brother Krant had personally requested to be their instructor, the hulking man having taken a special interest in their number.
For the first day’s exercise the party was taken out into the courtyard where Krant then threw down a heavy flail and instructed them to beat one another to unconsciousness; the last one standing would receive a special reward, he declared—and after several rounds of exchanged blows, the brute tossed out saps for those present to arm themselves. Cassandra revealed her considerable strength in the melee, while Evlar delivered numerous surprising blows once he had secured the flail from Emma; after the party finally managed to fell the lady barbarian they continued to turn on one another until the fight came down to Pandora and Brother Vang. Shrouding both she and her comrade in darkness, Pandora—with Vang’s compliance—emerged the victor of the brawl, garnering favor and an expensive bottle of Chelish wine from Krant.
What followed then were the beginnings of an arduous daily routine; awoken early in the morning, the new initiates attended a mixture of menial chores, physical labors and repeated sermons throughout much of each day. In the evenings, additional sermons were served following at last by long and tiresome inscription duties copying the texts of Razmir for the masses. Brother Vang endeavored to alter the texts during his duties, hoping to skew the cogs in the cult’s machinations—but the cleric was caught in the act by one of the overseeing priests and subjected to the Mask of Shame for the remainder of an evening. Emma nodded off during one of the sermons—and for doing so found herself branded with the mark of Razmir on her thigh as punishment; the barbarian did not cry out, however, proudly displaying her mettle.
Krant’s instructions continued as each day came, first teaching the new initiates how to blend in with one another and appear anonymously as one while representing the cult—moving on to interactions with the city guard and other means of their duties. The party joined the cult as they took to the streets collecting ‘donations’ from a crowd—and while the herald Egarthis delivered a sermon to the masses, the party provided distractions that the priests could pickpocket and pilfer coinage from the crowd; Pandora made a point of demonstrating herself to Krant, further garnering favor with the man—who seemed to grow grimly fonder of the ‘slugs’ with each passing day. Again Brother Vang sought to sow subtle dissent in the message of the cult—an effort not lost among the more intellectual members of the crowd.
By morn and eve within the church punishments continued to come, disproportionate and unpredictable to the apparent transgressions which inspired them; Brother Vang found himself flogged repeatedly with little clear provocation, meals were denied and other rulings meted among the new initiates. Yet despite these setbacks, the party continued—and after the second day, were declared free members of the church and allowed to have their personal belongings once more. Krant’s lessons went further then as trust was gained by the group—though taking a decidedly bloody turn when an example was set to be made of a man who had supposedly stolen from the church; after bashing the man’s skull and leaving him dying in the dirt, Krant instructed Vang to finish him—a task which Pandora interceded to spare her friend the ordeal.
Slowly but surely the drow had garnered ever more favor from the herald Krant, while even Anselme for his provocations had somehow endeared himself with the man enough to graduate from ‘slug’ to ‘worm’ at his own behest. Upon another afternoon’s lessons, Krant instructed the initiates to the destruction of busts of several deities, the blessed visage of Iomedae herself among them—and as the hulk of a man bore against Brother Vang beneath his expectant gaze, Emma, Anselme and Pandora together acted swiftly to once more spare their friend, smashing the busts with fervor so that none remain to the apparent satisfaction of their teacher. Routine trudged on, and through it the party endured as their familiarity with the complex continued to grow and their graces in the organization solidified.
With apparent begrudging pride for his pupils, Krant brought the party along for a foray into the city wherein Walton Grumpus, a beleaguered baker, was apparently behind on his ‘tithes’. Krant instructed the initiates to retrieve their dues by any means necessary while he and two priests kept any interested parties at bay, trusting them to take care of things within and teach the man a lesson earned. Once inside, Walton cringingly offered fresh bread to the newly arrived ‘cultists’ of Razmir before Pandora knocked him unconscious with a cudgel gleaned from Krant. Hurriedly a plan was conveyed to her fellows—some necessary damages wrought to the bakery itself while the party pooled the coin which Walton himself ‘owed’ to the cult, that he need not be stripped of such himself; upon discovering his hidden cache, money for the damages was left for him to discover at a later date—and after emerging from their ‘handiwork’, the initiates waited tensely as Krant went in to inspect what they had done. When at last Krant emerged, he nodded with grim satisfaction and pride at the initiates before all returned to the church for the evening.
Having endured for days the rigors of the cult and the many lessons of the cruel Krant, the party decided that the time for action was nigh; in reward for their deeds, Krant had declared freedom from the evening’s chores and duties—inadvertently opening a winder of opportunity for his pupils to act upon their plans. Pandora, the star pupil of the herald, proceeded to sneak upstairs once the hour was late and most were abed; she began to prepare implements within the worship hall, intended to foist a grappling hook and hide a rope that a rapid egress through the great stained glass window in the hall could be defenestrated in a daring escape. Plans went awry, however, when the drow was discovered by the herald Faltore—and the demand for an explanation led to swift lies and ever more tension.
Disbelieving the initiate, the herald moved to alert the others—and acting quickly Pandora wreathed the rope about the man’s neck as a noose, seeking to push him over the railing; Faltore managed to catch himself however, alerting a golem made of masks in the adjoining chamber—and soon a battle began to unfold. The others of the group rushed from the basement level to join their comrade upstairs while a second herald arrived, the fight continuing to unfold; as Emma engaged the golem, masks of obedience and solitude were launched onto the heads of initiates while a herald leaped the rail to seek additional aid from the basement once it was discovered that Egarthis was not upstairs.
The battle grew pitched and panicked—the golem dispersed into a swarm of masks as Emma assailed it, while at last Faltore was felled; with precious time bought, the party proceeded quickly into the largest chamber of the second floor, that of the high priestess. Within, among brow-raising implements left on the stand beside the woman’s bed, the party discovered a hidden cache behind false books wherein detailed ledgers were discovered with the organization’s corruption in Tamran. In addition, however, a letter was found—revealing that the high priestess was Iramine herself, now possessing all three pieces of the amulet—and that she had departed for the Isle of Terror with a large group of cultists seeking to open the way to the City of Golden Death.
It was then that the party was confronted by the herald Egarthis himself after Pandora disguised herself as the dying Faltore; Brother Vang attempted to feign a fire in the upper chambers, but the herald strode through undeterred—producing a trio of hell hounds before engaging the party in combat. Egarthis proved to possess both the martial prowess of a monk as well as fiery sorcerous power, felling several among the party as the fight stretched on as his power seemed considerable. Having quaffed a potion of invisibility discovered in the office, Anselme rushed down to the first level where he discovered the second herald was alerting several priests and the towering Krant to the battle in progress out in the courtyard.
The druid rushed to the doors and closed them, barring the way to buy his fellows time before proceeding into the basement level with clever plan; there, Anselme discovered a lady herald down the formerly locked hall, quickly closing the door before making his way to the bunk room. Once inside, Anselme banged pots and pans together from the kitchen, rousing and alerting the many slumbering acolytes to a defensive drill to protect the church. Upstairs, after a long and bloody confrontation was brought to a near standstill, Egarthis leapt the balcony and withdrew from the engagement—making his way towards the front door to allow his reinforcements inside. Pandora rushed to halt the herald’s progress and the two fought wildly over the bar to the door; the rogue sought to jam it shut with her dagger, but the herald at last removed the bar and held it. However, the exchange had brought crucial moments for Pandora’s friends—now having been healed enough to prepare for battle once more, they arrived just as the doors came open.
Brother Vang, after a week of ardor and torment surrounded by cultists and sequestered from his goddess—implored Iomedae to favor him in his hour of need; the cleric received a rush of invigorating energy, a ripple of positive force washing over both he and his companions and strengthening their vigor against the coming continuation of battle. Anselme returned upstairs just in time to find the priests of Razmir readying to advance on the party—casting a clutch entanglement to seize their progress in the courtyard and save his friends from the six joining the melee; this left only Egarthis and the herald Krant, now facing his pupils in battle. Egarthis shouted for Krant to deal with the interlopers—yet in his weariness and burdened by his injuries, the herald made a crucial mistake in his maneuver to escape the party—cut down by Pandora before he could make his way outside.
At last, the five friends faced off a solitary adversary—the towering brute that was Krant bellowing joyously of the battle at hand as he raged with an immensely over-sized greatsword; wading readily into melee against his pupils, the barbarian herald seemed to invite their blows as each swing of his heavy weapon cracked walls, gouged tiles and ruined all that lay before them. Anselme worked desperately to keep his fellows healed while Emma raged in kind, powerful blows from the barbarian herald meted out to each of his pupils as the battle raged on; countless injuries were laid upon the hulk of a man, scarcely fazing him as he fought—and soon, Emma was felled and driven to the brink of death.
As Krant raised his executioner’s blade to send Emma from this mortal coil, Brother Vang acted quickly to save his friend—wedging the battered steel shield he bore against a gash in the floor created by a prior swing; the shield was rent like butter, the heavy blade stopped a hairsbreadth from Emma’s face—and the lady barbarian was spared by Vang’s quick thinking. Covered in the blood of countless wounds, Krant raged on, reveling in the battle with his pupils—declaring openly how little he truly cared for the organization, that he had been waiting for this day. Battered and weary, the five fought on—and it was at long last that Pandora, the prized pupil of Krant, dealt a blow with her blade that disemboweled the barbarian—injury enough to finally end his wild raging onslaught.
Collapsing to his knees as his innards lay hanging, Krant managed to fix the group with a manic grin—rasping that he was pleased that it was Pandora who had dealt the killing blow—before the hulking brute himself expired. By now, the acolytes began to rush free from the lower levels as Anselme and the others told the priests in the courtyard that the battle was done; the lady herald from below emerged to find Egarthis and Krant dead and the party assembled, wearied as they were, in the foyer of the church. After a moment of consideration, the herald declared that the party had things under control and that the conflict was concluded—moving then to see to the city watch which had gathered outside of the church as the group collected themselves. Emma retrieved the fallen Krant’s blade—and the party gathered themselves, preparing then to depart from the church with their destination now clear:
Upon the Isle of Terror, the City of Golden Death awaits.
See what Emma thought about this session here!
See what Meryk was up to while absent this session here!