For backgrounds on the characters played in this campaign, look here~
While the rest of the party scoured the surface, Meryk, Anselme and Brother Vang ventured down a winding set of stairs into the undercrypt of the high church; there, the trio warily approached an aged and derelict door–the surface of which was raked with gouges and spattered with old blood stains. Carefully opening the path, Meryk was first to observe a long corridor of partially eaten corpses–hobgoblin mercenaries and soldiers from the Children of Steel sighted among the half-eaten and dismembered remains. Further disturbing sounds could be heard muffled from a nearby doorway and so the three adventurers readied themselves before breaking the lock and peering inside.
Down a narrow stairwell, what had once been some sort of area for imprisonment had long since been compromised; among broken cages of rusted iron, nearly one hundred ghasts now congregated with a grotesque mob clamoring for fresh flesh to feast upon. Among their number, an otyugh shrouded in black tattered garbs stood–and upon the revealing of the adventurers, the creature attempted to wrack Brother Vang’s mind with a psionic attack!
Steadying the bulwark of his reliquary shield, Brother Vang began to trudge down the steps against the rushing mob of ghasts, fearless of the undead horde while Meryk loosed a salvo of arrows at the otyugh–only to have them shatter against a psycho-kinetic barrier of some kind. Anselme strode forth as nearly a dozen undead clawed desperately at Brother Vang’s heavily armored form–loosing an awesome sunburst within the retched room which obliterated the whole of the undead horde in a single magnificently bright stroke.
With only the otyugh remaining, the trio began to advance–only to spy it beginning a strange and eldritch ritual which began to open a rift across space and time through which an immense tentacle reached forth and seized Brother Vang. By now, Emma had arrived on the scene to swiftly charge the otyugh screaming bloody murder; the barbarian felled the potent cultist with several sure strokes, swiftly ending the ritual–and managing to grab Brother Vang, helping to free the cleric before he was dragged to the undead world of Nex!
As the rest of the party began to arrive from upstairs now, Pandora discovered a strange puzzle box on the remains of the otyugh and promptly began to fiddle with it; much to the drow’s chagrin, the box was revealed to be a devouring box–a congregation of grinding gears and mechanisms which quickly began to double in size many times over. Emma dove headfirst against the growing calamitous creation, seized within its machinations as Cassandra and the others loosed magics and attacks against it; after much injury, the party managed to dispatch the devouring box before it grew too large to contend with.
Venturing into the rest of the undercrypt, the party came to face a cadre of overghasts in the midst of a foul ritual beside an altar; quickly mobbed, the overghasts managed to whisk away Anselme to sacrifice astride one such altar before the party could retrieve him. Acting quickly, Brother Vang fought his way past the undead servitors to imbue the young druid with a breath of life–while the party became engaged with a lady mummy lord as well as a gathering of gorgons. The melee was chaotic but swift–and after a brief harrowing exchange, the party managed to emerge without further casualties–although the mummy lord removed herself to fight another day via a word of recall.
Collecting what valuables they could, the party departed from the High Church and returned to their base camp to deliver the disciple statue they’d recovered; it was decided then that the group would scout out the gathering of trolls they’d heard word of, the same-such locale Cassandra had witnessed in her visions prior. As well, an eye would be turned towards locating and assessing the black dragon Karkuune, another General of Orcus’ presence in Tsar.
Visiting the site where the trolls had been seen before, Meryk took on the guise of a troblin-sized troll and offered his best trollish voice; managing to slip past the exterior sentries, the ranger scouted near to half a mile of tunnel before coming to face an antimagic field–and a clearly intelligent sorcerous troll. Prying for information, Meryk was able to determine that the trolls had found protection in Karkuune as they gathered about their ‘trollstone‘–but that they refused any offer of barter or exchange for the statue which rested alongside it, guided by their collective dreams as they had been.
With one of the nine disciple statues within the trolls’ grasp, it was clear that the party would necessitate a more daring plan for its recovery. Engaging both the Children of Steel as well as the efreeti army at Cassandra’s disposal seemed the most reliable course, for by now the trolls numbered in the hundreds within their caverns; the party was wary of having to deal with Karkuune so soon as well, so a more elaborate plan would be necessary.
In order to secure a route for the Children of Steel to bring a supplementary force, the party would need to clear the last remaining watchtower to the upper reaches of Tsar–and so it was to this tower that the group proceeded next. Upon arrival, a curious observation was made–the arrow slits had been bricked up from within and the watchtower appeared entirely unattended. Wary of such tricks, Pandora began scouting for traps and mechanisms from the exterior–and sighting what seemed to be walls and portcullis prepared to drop down, Cassandra erected a wall of force in the entryway of the tower.
Though the party had expected traps and taken what they believed to be countermeasures, once Brother Vang, Pandora, Cassandra and Emma had made their way into the middle of the passageway–additional traps sprang into motion unexpectedly. Cassandra’s magic forestalled the rest of the party being trapped in the entryway, but a small mob of black skeletons emerged to flank the group as another wall fell to sequester the party in half.
Inside the tower, the floor raised before a wall of spears began to press along the platform; when Pandora attempted to break the clay wall opposite the spears, an ochre jelly was released into their midst. Outside, the party fought with the skeletons while attempting to breach the heavy stone wall dividing the group–while inside, Cassandra disintegrated a section of the platform to escape below with Pandora and Brother Vang.
Emma fought with the rapidly dividing ochre jelly while weathering acid attacks and spears; below, Brother Vang and Pandora became mobbed with further skeletons before both exited the tower via dimension door and passing through stone. With this, a dread wraith and phantasm also engaged the party, further adding to the chaos. Cassandra was able to dispatch the jelly along with Emma with several fireballs against the divided mass, destroying the skeletons as well; nearly slain by the flyby attacks of the wraith, Cassandra exited the tower as well leaving Emma to fight against its mechanisms.
As Emma destroyed the last of the creatures within and prepared to assault the inner workings of the tower’s traps–acid began to flood the chamber the barbarian found herself in. With the last of the threat outside eliminated, the party prepared to finish breaching the entrance to recover Emma–but inside, the barbarian found herself facing a creature inspiring much cursing and profanity: an acid shark emerged into the flooded chamber, biting and then swallowing Emma whole.
In the aftermath, the party broke through the wall and loosed frustrations through a potent barrage of weaponry and magic; after retrieving Emma from within, the party unanimously made a motion to lay the watchtower to utter ruin and never speak of it again. The way forward was thus cleared for support from the Children of Steel in the coming days–but now, the party turned an eye towards their exchange with the gnolls, resolving next to attempt to locate the Dust Coven that they might slay the drow assassins; it would be of little surprise, in the days to come, that the Dust Coven had similar notions regarding the adventurers…