Paths of Gaeda

Session 57
Back at the Ranch

Liath agrees to stay and guard the newly created access tunnel to the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth while Zarunal teleports the rest of the party back to Tor Indradath. Unfortunately, en route Zarunal is somehow separated from the party and they end up arriving without him. (he eventually arrives much later, but that tale will have to wait until next session)

Politics and conspiracies rule the day back in the Storm Reach Kingdom. Anthec is hosting foreigners and plotting something, but nobody knows just what. Tor Alric has been liberated from the orcs and is demanding aid to re-establish the hold. Kendra El-Eladra wants to build a new shrine to Ge’an at Tor Eladra. Mio Jo Jolie is somewhat recovered from her madness, but she remains aloof and does not interact much with the party. Iolar has his hands full getting the council to pursue a sane course going forward.

Ala, meanwhile, receives a mysterious visitor in the evening: it is our old friend Victor. He has been sent to deliver a blackmail message on behalf of person or persons unknown, threatening to expose to Iolar that she is using a false name and is wanted for some reason by the elves of Alfaen. The terms he offers are a demand for information: a complete account of everything that has happened on the expedition to the Lost Caverns.

Ala decides to come clean with Iolar of her own accord: she reveal s herself to be his long-lost wife from a marriage arranged when they were barely of age. A marriage that each of them fled from in their own way. He is not overly surprised by the revelation, and the settle on a cordial but formal relationship for the moment. Victor eventually appears to Iolar, and Iolar notices that he looks haggard and sleep-deprived. Victor delivers the message he’s been paid to deliver, but Iolar gets him to stop for a brief moment and talk. He realizes that Victor is scared – apparently, the Drow have been sighted abroad in the surface world. Victor reiterates his fear of the deeper places of the earth before departing.

Avron does some research in the archives regarding the wondrous ship from the caverns, and he learns something of its history as well as the command word to get it to shrink down to a portable size.

Finally, Losfal is lured away from the Tor by an invitation of a peculiar nature. In the hills to the northwest of the tor, there are strange lights, and he encounters a bizarre individual who calls himself Punchwood and who makes odd pronouncements, claiming that there is a great work ahead, that Losfal must “Move within the spheres” and “Beware the eight hundred and eighty-two”. Punchwood then wanders away and vanishes into the night. When told of the incident, Iolar suspects that Punchwood is some kind of lunatic Fey.

The party eventually returns to the lost caverns, and finally descends the lift in the ice cave that Chossus was guarding. There is a partially collapsed passage into a much greater, temple-like space, where the heroes encounter a number of Troglodytes. Chossus had warned them that the lower caves had somehow become infested with these strange creatures and the party was prepared for the belligerent welcome they recieved. However, an alarm is sounded, and there is the noise of much movement in the surrounding caverns…

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Session 56
Costly Negotiations

The party enters a new unexplored cave and Losfal once more encounters a sinister, shadowy presence that flees before his scrutiny. The party is sidetracked into a cave that appears to be lavishly furnished and staffed by dancing girls and a genial host. However, tucked away in a corner the party spies the Genie’s lamp, and it becomes clear that these are Jinn who are guarding the lamp. They weave an complicated web of illusions which temporarily befuddle and confuse the party, but ultimately they are dispatched. The Genie’s Lamp is returned to him and he offers Iolar a wish.

Iolar, wary of wishes and not wanting to get himself in trouble, makes a selfless wish for “prosperity for my house and my people”. The Genie interprets this as a propserous future for the Storm Elves, which he says is assured.

The party then makes it’s way to the final chamber: which turns out to be a deep, ice-filled shaft going down to darkness, and equipped with some kind of lift/elevator device. The party makes arrangements to descend, with Liath staying at the top in order to work the lift. Halfway down, however, a Dragon named Chossus makes it’s presence known in the cave. It seeks revenge on the Storm Elf King, as it has been trapped in this chamber for over a century due to the actions of Thessala of Khem and the difficulties surrounding the previous civil war. The Dragon almost carries Iolar off to feast on him, but some very hasty and desperate negotiations are made, and Iolar makes many promises, the most immediate of which is to get the Dragon out of the cave somehow.

With Zarunal’s help and a good deal of planning and advice from the entire party, it is eventually managed. Chossus is freed from the mountain, and the party decides to return to Tor Indradath to rest and resupply before descending the shaft to explore the lower caverns of Tsojcanth.

Before the session ends, Iolar figures out how to use his Shout spell to shatter the crustal growing on Zarunal’s hand.

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Session 55
Further Explorations

The party engages the Banshee briefly, but she nearly kills Avron with a single blow and everyone decides that discretion is the better part of valor. The party flees back to the boat and sets off once more across the underground lake. Crossing the lake, however, they attract the attention of a Water Orm which nearly capsizes the boat before Liath’s sharpshooting puts it down.

They discover a damp cavern full of raging waterfalls and cruel, sharp, stalactites. There is a chest overgrown with mineral formations and a key hanging from a chain amidst the most powerful of the falls. The party spends an inordinate amount of time debating how to retrieve the key, but eventually they get the chest open, revealing a magical crystal ring that Zarunal claims as his own. Unfortunately, not long after he begins wearing it the crystal begins to grow, affixing itself to his hand and gradually threatening to take over his entire arm. Zarunal is forced to keep his hand in a mitten full of rocksalt and rice to keep the crystal from growing further.

Later, the party enters a water-filled cavern where rests Marid Genie, entombed in ice. They free him, but he demands the return of his lamp. They are unsure how powerful he is, and agree to look for his lamp elsewhere in the caverns.

Eventually a new set of caves is reached, and the party prepares to delve into the last of the unexplored passageways.

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Session 54
Unpleasant Surprises

The party investigates it’s only remaining avenue deeper into the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. Losfal falls afoul of a trap that seems to kill him instantly, but this is an illusion concealing a far more mundane and annoying pit trap, which eventually ensnares nearly the entire party in one fashion or another.

A further trap is noticed by Liath’s eagle eyes and deftly defused by Ala. The party makes their way deeper into the cavern and is ambushed by a hoard of spiders and a pair of giant ettins before reaching the shores of an underground lake. There is a current here – and a boat – and hints of something moving in the water.

The party retrieves the boat, discovers the secrets of its magical locomotion, and begins investigating those caves which give onto the lake. Disembarking in one likely area, they begin exploring the maze of passages only to find themselves cornered by some sort of apparition- in the ruins of a once-inhabited chamber they are accosted by the spirit – it screams at them, revealing itself to be a Banshee!

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Session 53
Dungeon Delving

The party finally delves into the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. They discover a number of dangers, from giant bats to guardian golems, fiendish trapped fountains and wandering ghosts, among other things. There is evidence that this place was once indeed a storehouse of Elven treasure, but most of it has obviously been previously looted or cleared out. There is an underground river here as well.

On top of this, there is a strange presence in the caverns – some kind of tall, cloaked or winged apparition with red glowing eyes that seems to lurk in the darkness, always just out of sight. Only Zarunal and Losfal have seen even a glimpse of the thing so far, but it seems to appear when danger is near.

The party exhausts most of their options for proceeding forward into the caverns, but there is one corridor that has yet to be explored.

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Session 52
The Memory of Trees

The party rouses them selves and discovers that Liath is missing. They eventually track him down to the grove of the nereid Lahn and attempt to break the enchantment upon him, unsuccessfully. Lahn appears and is angry at their meddling. She summons several water elementals and a battle ensues. Iolar is nearly drawn into the water himself by the nereid’s wiles, but eventually she is forced to surrender and agrees to restore Liath’s proper form.

The party picks their way north along the river. At one point, Liath sees that they are being followed/observed – he suspects by a small group of gnomes. Ultimately the group reaches a nearly hidden ravine of bare rock, which leads to a hidden staircase, partially obliterated. Eventually they come to a shelf of rubble where part of the mountain has fallen down, but there is evidence that the avalanche has buried some kind of structure here. Zarunal takes the form of an earth elemental and digs into the ground to investigate.

While he does so, the rest of the party is attacked by a dracolisk. Iolar is almost immediately turned to stone by it’s gaze, but the rest of the heroes make short work of the beast.

Zarunal returns and reports that there is some kind of cave system or structure buried below. IT appears that the party has finally found the [[Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.]] Zaurnal breaks the enchantment upon Iolar, and he is restored to life. Some arrangements are made, and the party uses dimension door spells to penetrate into the buried caverns.

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Session 51
New Girl In Town

A mysterious Elven wanderer named Ala arrives at Tor Indradath and manages to insert herself into the courtly intrigues of Iolar and his crew. Iolar spurns lady Kendra’s advances, there is some political back and forth regarding Lord Anthec, and the Party finally sets out into the mountains to find the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

One the way they encounter a group of Kashwa barbarians who seem to be led a Storm Elf who has “gone native” after attacking the party and being driven off, he warns them not to disturb the Tomb of Kings – a Storm Elf burial site just to the north. The party finds the tomb, and notes that it’s locks and wards are secure. They decide to leave the tomb undisturbed and press on.

Meanwhile, Liath has had encounters with Lahn, the spirit of the river that flows down from the mountains. While sitting by the banks of the stream one night, she appears to him and coaxes him into a nearby ravine where there are several trees. Giving Liath a Kiss, she transforms him into a tree!

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Session 50
Return of the King

The party digs in for a long cold winter at Tor Indradath and makes the first steps towards rebuilding that shattered kingdom. An elven woman named Kendra El-Eladra shows up and insinuates herself into the court.

Meanwhile, a new party member, Bishop Losfal di Martillo of New Delos has been on the trail of the mysterious bespectacled man for some time, investigating a series of missing corpses and necromantic incidents. Tracking him to an old Storm Elf tomb complex, he witnesses the emergence of an undead colossus, which has been aimed at Tor Indradath. He joins the party there, and the abomination assaults the gates, but is ultimately put down.

Some time later, Anthec returns to Tor Naether, and demands a seat on the new High Council.

For notes on the Kingdom Building, see:
Kingdom Establishment
Kingdom Turn 1

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Session 49
Wealth Management

The party spends a good deal of time in this session investigating the vast wealth hoarded by Ingo in Tor Indradath, and squabbling about it’s distribution, with Iolar arguing for the preservation of artifacts and Andros making a case for getting House Martillo it’s due shares out of the expedition.

Several dangerous traps are avoided through careful application of magic as locked chests are opened, revealing their contents. Numerous bits of magic, major and minor, are discovered, along with a vast trove of physical wealth. The crown jewels of the Storm Reaches are recovered, and placed in the trust of Indrid.

The party is perplexed when they find an extremely large and heavy sealed chest which, when opened, contains a flight of steps leading down into a good sized room. The room is littered with corpses, and there appears to be a lever on the opposite wall. Liath attempts to cross the room and pull the lever, but while wading through the bodies picks up a number of rot grubs who burrow into his leg. Fire and sharp steel are frantically applied to Liath’s body in an attempt to cut the burrowing worms out before they reach his heart. He barely survives the experience.

The lever on the opposite all turns out to be an exquisite facsimile of an arrow crafted entirely of iron, bearing an obscure and arcane fire rune on the broadhead shaft, which radiates weak magic. This strage artifact is wedged into a crack in the masonry in the far wall. Attempts are made to shoot with it, but it has the aerodynamic properties of a fireplace poker and there is little success.

September of 1902 has arrived, and Zarunal’s time to pay his debt is almost up. In desperation, he uses the Eye of Arioch to access the Akashic Record. Doing so requires him passing a test of entrance, answering a bevy of obscure questions before a panel of outsiders. He barely gains admittance, and learns some things about Galen, about his apprenticeship, and about the Eye of Arioch, although some of the answers are frustratingly vague.

Armed with this knowledge, he keeps his final appointment with his master and leaves his service in the same manner that Galen left his master: by making an attempt on his life by attacking him with magic. This turns out to be a largely symbolic or ceremonial act, and earns Zarunal his freedom.

The party will divide their wealth and dissolve the Storm Reaches expedition, and spend the winter holed up in Tor Indradath before they make the final push on to the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth in the spring.

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Session 48
Have Fun Storming the Castle

A very direct session. The party gathers together as many men and elves as they can and attempts a large-scale frontal assault on Tor Indradath. The battle is tense at first, but the party’s superior magic and their individual fighting power counterbalances the superior numbers of the orcs and giants. Highlights of the battle include:

Liath kills Ingo’s consort and his cousin, although he is almost squashed flat by the giantess.

Iolar rides into combat with Ingo’s brother, and with the help of Dagnorosa overcomes the brute, although he, too, is very near death at the end.

Andros eventually kills Ingo, after ordering his unit of heavy cavalry to charge in first. Ingo wipes out the cavalry with the help of some goblins wolfriders, although some are eventually saved from death by timely application of healing.

Avron successfully leads the infantry against units of both orcs and trolls, helping his units to rout the enemy once contact is made.

Zarunal’s magic takes a mostly supporting role, shaping the battlefield with a wall of ice and lending aid to the others. He does drop one juicy fireball that nearly wipes out a unit of orcs late in the battle.

In the end, Ingo’s forces are routed, and many of the expeditionary force’s casualties are revived with healing magic. The heroes have done the brunt of the fighting, although there is grumbling among the mercenaries about the way that Andros led his cavalry troop to slaughter and did not charge in with his men at first.

Tor Indradath is now in the hands of the Party’s expedition, and arrangements are immediately made to move the expedition’s headquarters to the citadel.

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