Sword Coast Guard, Episode 14 – The Sunken Temple, Part 4

Session Date: October 22, 2017

13 Eleasias, 1367 DR

In this session a new player, Ian, is introduced — that’s his character’s name — as Rusty is no longer able to continue with the group. I had planned for the heroes to meet him at the very beginning of the session before they go neck-deep in trouble, but Ian’s player arrived a little late, and consequently was thrown into the worst part of the trouble. You’ll see…

The Sword Coast guard begins to explore the submerged tunnel, hoping to find the sahuagin they’ve been searching for.

Xavier sends his octopus familiar ahead to scout. Then, as the group travels, they come upon the octopus floating in the water with a harpoon bolt stuck in it. Glancing around the corner, Xavier sees several sahuagin waiting for them, reloading their harpoon guns. One of the sahuagin casts a hold person at him, though the fighter manages to fight off the magic.

At the battle joins, more sahuagin swarm them from another direction. Belgarath and Xavier move in to take out the threats, and Nigel and Elodin prepare to provide magical support.

However, four more sahuagin approach from the group’s rear, being pulled along by speedy reef sharks. While Nigel panics and casts compulsion on them, Elodin drops a shatter, killing three of the sahuagin and both sharks. Nigel magically compels the remaining foe to move away from them.

The flanking crisis averted, the casters turn their attention back to the original foes. Xavier and Belgarath are doing quite well slaughtering sahuagin and several corpses already float in the murky water. The sahuagin priestesses continue to fling hold persons at them, finally catching Belgarath in one.

Churning water from the rear alerts Nigel and Elodin to yet another flanking threat, and they turn to see two massive hunter sharks speeding toward them. Riding the hunter sharks are a large, four-armed sahuagin baron, and a sahuagin sorceress wearing exquisite flowing robes.

The sorceress casts polymorph on Elodin, and the poor wizard finds his body shrinking and hardening until he has become a clam. The baron immediately rushes Nigel.

Elodin is to spend most of this battle, which ends up lasting about four hours at the table, as a clam and unable to do anything. As a DM, I feel kind of bad about that — sitting a game out sucks — but it was what the sorceress would have done. I was hoping someone would interrupt her concentration at some point, but that didn’t happen until about the tenth round of combat, several hours later. And this is why I rarely deploy spells such as polymorph and banishment against the players: they have the potential to remove the player from gameplay for extended periods of time.

As all hell begins to break loose with things going very badly for the heroes, they realize that most, if not all, of the sahuagin must have been alerted to danger by their battle with the dragon turtle. During the time the heroes were exploring the abandoned dwarves complex, the sahuagin were preparing an ambush.

Fortunately, however, a new combatant enters the fight: Ian, a paladin of Helm. Sent to seek the heroes out and aid them, Ian arrives behind the sahuagin baron and sorcerer and immediately attacks the baron.

Fortune was not to be had for “the new guy,” however. After a nasty barrage of attacks form the baron, the sorceress casts disintegrate on him, not only killing him, but reducing his body and equipment to ashes.

And for the second time that night, the DM felt bad. Not only killing the new player’s character, but destroying his body so he couldn’t easily be raised from the dead. I’m not always such a jerk, am I? (Yeah, okay, maybe I am…)

And then things get worse for the heroes.

Belgarath murders several sahuagin, including the priestess who paralyzed him, and follows a tunnel north, hoping to flank the sahuagin baron and sorceress. He comes upon a few sets of doors, and opens one of them. Inside he discovers half a dozen sea elves tied to massive copper vats. The sea elves immediately call out, pleading for him to rescue them.

Thinking he has found allies that might help them fight the sahuagin, Belgarath moves into the room. However, as he does so, the head of his new magical morningstar transforms into the visage of a ghostly, undead elven female. “Elves!” The visage moans. “We must kill them! Take me into their midst and let me wail.”

Belgarath, his mind easily swayed by the sentient weapon’s request, does so. The morningstar unleashes a wail that kills two of the sea elves outright.

At that moment, the remaining sea elves stand, easily shaking away their ropes and draw daggers. They surround Belgarath and begin stabbing crazily at him.

As the warlock takes wound after wound, he realizes they weren’t sea elves after all. They were malenti, sahuagin that physically resemble sea elves in every way.

Then a four-armed sahuagin rogue exits a vat where he was hiding, swims down to Belgarath’s side, and unleashes a flurry of attacks with his shortswords. Belgarath succumbs to the wounds and falls unconscious.

See, I didn’t have ALL the sahuagin ambush the group. I thought that would be too much. I left this rogue and malenti here to fight after the big ambush. However, some heroes still make wisdom a dump stat, so what’s a DM to do? Answer: murder them and hope they learn better next time.

Meanwhile, Xavier, Nigel, and Elodin — observing as a clam — are having a helleva time with their battle. The sharks, baron, and lightning-bolt flinging sorceress gain the advantage and appear to on the verge of defeating the heroes.

Immediately upon dying, Ian’s spirit zipped away to the Fugue plain to wait, with the other recently deceased, the arrival of Helm or an angelic representative to take him to his final place of reward in Helm’s kingdom.

Several minutes go by, and Ian sees a celestial chariot appear in the sky, driven by Helm himself. The deity calls out to his faithful who fall in line behind him for their journey to their eternal rewards.

However, as they begin to move away, Helm’s eyes fall on Ian, and the god brings his chariot to a halt. “You! Paladin,” the deity says, addressing Ian. “Have you finished your life’s purpose so soon? It has been but a few years sense your joined my holy order.”

Falling to his knees, eyes downcast, Ian replies, “I fear I have failed, my lord. Struck down by a sahuagin sorceress, leaving my wards unprotected.”

“My faithful do not fail!” the god bellows in response. “Go back, paladin, my blessing upon you. Complete your purpose in life: protect the weak and provide guidance to the misaligned.”

“AND THIS TIME, THOU SHALT NOT FAIL ME!”

Ian’s spirit then whisked away from the afterlife and found his restored, fully healed body waiting for him in the underground lake. He felt first wetness and then righteous fervor as he took up his sword and assailed the sahuagin baron with all of Helm’s wrath behind every blow.

DM mercy, baby.

The heroe’s plight looks somewhat better with their newfound ally. However, then the four-armed sahuagin rogue and malenti arrive with Belgarath tied up.

“Surrender or I slit his throat!” the sahuagin rogue tells the heroes.

Belgarath comes about, though, and casts sleep on the malenti, making them fall into a slumber. Furthermore, Xavier ignores the threat and attacks the baron.

Belgarath rolled a 20 on a death check and recovered 1 hp. Lucky…

At this, the rogue follows through with his promise and opens Belgarath’s throat with his shortswords.

Belgarath drops to 0 hit points again. Not lucky…

As the brawl between the rogue, baron, and sorceress continues, Ian manages to reach the sorceress. The wicked sahuagin had been flinging lightning bolts and other debilitating spells that them long enough. The paladin slashes the sorceress and releases a well of holy energy into the blow: smite.

Heavily wounded, the sorceress’s concentration on polymorph is interrupted, and Elodin transforms back into his old self. Enraged, the former clam — er, wizard — releases a torrent of arcane energy at his foes.

The tide of battle shifts yet again, and both the baron and sorceress dispatched, their bloody corpses joining the couple dozen others now floating in the crimson waters.

Seeing his companions dead, the sahuagin rogue flees to the north, toward the dragon turtle’s lair. Belgarath gives chase, but the rogue escapes.

I suggest that the party could follow the rogue into the dragon turtle’s lair, but they soundly reject that idea. Not sure why…

Xavier and Belgarath murder two of the sleeping malenti, but Ian spares the third, claiming he should be turned over to the surviving sea elves in Waterdeep for justice. Belgarath doesn’t like this but isn’t willing to fight the paladin over sahuagin scum.

The heroes then begin to explore the rest of the underwater compound. The find barracks, the baron’s audience hall, the baron’s room, a shrine room to Sekolah, the sahuagin deity, and a treasure room.

The treasure room contains a nasty trap — pressurized jets slam the heroes into spikes on the walls — and a chest full of coins and a rope of entanglement. In the baron’s room they find more gold to line their purses.

Finally, having had enough of the Sunken Temple, the heroes set off for Waterdeep, their new companion, Ian, along for the ride.

I’m not sure Ian’s player fully understands the depth of what he’s gotten himself into…

The Sword Coast Guard

the adventurers formerly known as the Heroes of Gold, Glory, and Girls

Not photoed: Iantorin Mournsoul - Half-Elven Paladin of Helm

Hand of Light, Episode 22 – My Dear Missing Mother, Part 2

Session Date: October 14, 2017

20 Flamerule, 1367 DR

As the heroes continue their discussion of where to go — wander the swamp or go to the ruins of Iniarv’s Tower — glowing balls of light appear in the distance, rapidly approaching them. Karn identifies them as will-o’-wisps just as the undead creatures attack.

Mostly stuck on a small island, the heroes are quickly surrounded by the monsters. The will-o’-wisps attack by slamming into them, sending jolts of electricity coursing through their bodies. Luna lays into the undead lightning bugs with abandon, her Maul of Disruption obliterating the creatures with every swing. After several moments of being zapped by the creatures and smashing them in return, all but one of the will-o-wisps are defeated.

As the remaining monster streaks off to the southwest, the heroes and Gabriel (their beloved NPC worshipper of Oghma) pile into their boat to give chase. The will-o’-wisp quickly zips out of sight, but the heroes continue in that direction thinking maybe it will lead them to the necromancer they seek.

In the distance they see a hunched figure in a boat, pushing itself along in the water with a crude pole fashioned from a branch. Dexter sends Vesper ahead to check it out and reports that it appears to be an old lady.

Immediately conversation begins regarding hags in the swamp.

I don’t get it. Can’t a DM simply place an NPC in a swamp without speculation and suspicion taking over?

As the heroes row closer, the old lady turns and greets them, introducing herself as Mildred. She says she lives in a cottage near the swamp and is looking for her granddaughter. According to Mildred — she tells the heroes they can call her “Milly” — undead broke into her cottage a few days back and kidnapped her granddaughter. She asks the heroes to help her find her.

Suspicions high, Karn, the noble paladin, agrees to aid her, but also casts divine sense. Milly is neither undead, celestial, nor fiend. However, Karn does sense undead creatures not far from the boat, some thirty feet down into the water.

The heroes begin dumping flasks of holy water into the swamp above the undead. The holy water purifies and cleanses the water, allowing them to see into its depths. Finally, one the divine water has penetrated to thirty feet, skeletal corpses of gnolls are revealed. The undead creatures’ eyes glow red when the holy water touches them, and they surge upward toward the heroes.

A brief battle breaks out — the gnoll skeletons are no match for the group — and Dunkle appears just as the last skeletons dies, the rogue exiting the water and pulling himself onto a log. (He had fallen into the water some ways back and the group had only searched half-heartedly for their lost pirate rogue.)

Translation: Dunkle’s player was late to the session.

“What’d I miss?” calls Dunkle.

“Undead. Old lady,” replies Lyr as Luna smashes the last skeleton.

The heroes then have another brief conversation with Milly, finally deciding that she is at least half crazy. However, they do set off with her to the southeast, deciding she’s the best lead they have for finding the necromancer. It’s worth noting that Gabriel and Lyr both insist they should go to Iniarv’s Tower, but they are mostly ignored.

After some time traveling, they come upon the ruins of some ancient civilization. Crumbling buildings rise from the swamp, their lower stories having sunken into the mire, and they spot a ziggurat in the distance whence from tortured screams float to them.

Hounds on the trail, the Hand of Light makes haste to the ziggurat and finds a moss-covered entrance — a narrow chimney really — leading down into the structure. The screams emanate from the chimney. They quickly tie off a rope, drop it down the chimney, and head down.

Karn is the first to drop into a fairly large room. The paladin sees several humans manacled to walls and tied to tables. Snake-like humanoids wielding implements of torture — hooked knives and heated pincers — stare at the paladin, having paused at their work when they heard a clamor and commotion from the chimney as the heroes were descending.

“Torm aid me!” Karn screams as he readies his halberd and charges the monstrous men.

As the rest of the Hand of Light slides down in the room, Dexter identifies the monsters as yuan-ti. Several of the creatures simply look like men with snakes for heads. However, two of them have arms that end in dozens of snakes instead of hands.

As the ass-kicking unfolds, one of the yuan-ti loudly calls down a hallway, presumable alerting others nearby to the intruder’s presence. Sure enough, more yuan-ti — these ones with lower torsos of snakes — and large, undead, skeletal snakes arrive soon after.

Many of the yuan-ti and the skeletal snakes have nasty and potent spells that they bring to bear against the heroes. Seeing they are at risk of being overwhelmed, Dexter drops a wall of force to split the yuan-ti forces. It buys them some time, but those that were cut off find an alternative way at them.

Karn, Luna, and Dunkle spend the battle taking names and kicking ass. Dexter casts spells like his life depends on it — it does — and counterspells most of the enemies’ nastiest spells. Lyr, however, spends most of the fight invisible and doing…well, things.

Lyr had cast invisibility on himself and didn’t want to have wasted a 2nd level slot. So, he spend the fight distracting and annoying the monsters. You know, typical Lyr stuff.

Finally, the Hand of Light does prevail agains their foes, though they are rather beat up, and Dexter is mostly out of spell slots. They believe, however, that they must have found the source of the undead that attacked Leilon and carried half the village away.

As they contemplate taking a short rest, they wonder how much more of the compound was alerted and en route.

The Hand of Light

Below are the famed members of the Hand of Light adventuring party.

Sword Coast Guard, Episode 13 – The Sunken Temple, Part 3

Session Date: October 8, 2017

13 Eleasias, 1367 DR

As the heroes look up from reading the letter, Rusty is surrounded by a mysterious blue aura and vanishes from sight.

“Woah,” says Xavier, drawing his sword and scanning the area for danger. “What in the Nine Hells was that?”

“Stand down. That’s just a no call no show right there,” Elodin explains.

Belgarath thumps his morningstar against the palm of one hand. “You know, in some adventuring groups, three of those in a row…” His voice trails off ominously.

“Damn!” Xavier sheathes his sword. “I was excited for a second. I do have the mage slayer feat, after all.”

The remaining four adventurers move down the hallway toward a set of double doors. Belgarath quickly scans them for traps, picks the lock, and pushes them open.

Beyond the doors is a large room dominated by a massive basin of water. At the far end, standing in front of an altar are a hooded figure and a woman, both wearing turquoise-colored ceremonial robes. The woman glances at the heroes in the doorway, smiles, and steps through a glowing magical portal behind her.

As the portal winks out, the hooded figure – one arm actually ending in a large crab-like claw – walks to the middle of the basin, supernaturally walking on top of the water. He holds a magnificent trident in one hand – a human hand – and pushes his hood back to reveal a barnacle-covered face.

“First, I want to thank you,” he says, “for giving us time to gather the remnants are move them somewhere… safer.” He glances over his shoulder to where the magical portal once stood.

For, you see, this is what happens when the heroes storm a compound, make a hellova ruckus, and then take an hour short rest: everyone else in the compound is alerted and has time to prepare.

“Now, any last words?”

“Yeah,” says Belgarath. “I HATE cutscenes. I would have eldritch blasted you in the face as soon as the door opened.” A mystical blue light begins to emanate from the warlock, and his body becomes less corporal.

Nigel elbows Elodin in the side. “Hey, can he force a no call no show?”

“DM can do whatever he wants,” Elodin whispers back.

“Damn…”

“Okay, okay,” Belgarath shouts. “It’s fine. Just kidding.” The blue light disappears, leaving the warlock in place. “Now – ELDRITCH BLAST!”

And thus the battle kicks off.

Hey, cutscenes are needed from time to time. Gotta deliver a semblance of story elements and plot points before the belligerent ones begin killing things…

As they move into the room, the heroes discover that dozens of starving ghouls are chained to the bottom of the basin of water, their reaching hands not far from the surface.

The barnacle-covered, claw-handed man – we’ll just call him Crab-Man here on out – causes a tidal wave to surge from the basin, slamming Elodin and Nigel to the ground. He then casts a powered up hold person at them, but Elodin counters it.

Low on spell slots, the bard and wizard begin throwing cantrips at their foe, while Xavier and Belgarath, both melee combatants, do what they can from range as entering the ghoul-filled water to get at Crab-Man is out of the question.

At a gesture from Crab-Man, water in the basin animates and attacks the heroes, grappling and restraining all of them except Nigel. The bard considers himself lucky…until Crab-Man casts another hold person and Nigel finds himself paralyzed.

Then water from the basin surges upward, swirls wildly near the ceiling to form large hailstones, and then pummels the heroes.

Laughing wildly, Crab-Man puts himself in line with Xavier and Elodin, pulls a wand from his belt, and unleashes a lightning bolt at them. Xavier avoids the brunt of the magical energy, but Elodin is hit hard and nearly goes down.

“Son of a tongue-less bard!” Elodin screams. “We’re screwed!”

As Nigel shakes of the hold person spell, the bard, in shock, says, “He got my books wet.” He can see ink bleeding from his makeshift bag (made from a pair of pants) where he was carrying dozens of precious books.

“HE GOT MY BOOKS WET!”

“Ohhhh, that mother is dead,” whispers Belgarath as he begins to slam his morningstar into the altar, hoping it is the key to Crab-Man’s power.

“Sacrilege!” Crab-Man, a priest of Drazovinites, bellows as cracks begin to run along the stone altar. He moves across the water next to the warlock and unleashes a series of blows at him.

Then, fists clenched in fury, Nigel quickly casts a spell and a screams, “DIE, BOOK BANE!”

Crab-Man’s trident suddenly heats read hot, and he reflexively releases the weapon from his grip. He manages a whispered, “Oh shit,” before plunging into the water. It would appear that his water walking ability was tied to the trident, a fact that the ever-perceptive bard had deduced.

Several ghouls instantly lash out at Crab-Man, claws scratching his barnacled flesh. The man tries to pull himself from the water, but ghoulish paralysis sets in first. The ravenous ghouls then pull his rigid body beneath the water and begin feasting.

Xavier watches the bloody spectacle for a moment and then averts his eyes. “Nice work” he calls to Nigel. “Why didn’t you do that in round one?”

The bard glares at him dangerously. “No one touches my books.”

“NO ONE!”

After looting Crab-Man’s body, the heroes find a secret door in the room and investigate the tunnel beyond it. It leads them to a quay and an underground lake.

The heroes unanimously agree that nothing good will come of investigating the lake and that it will probably just lead to an encounter they’d rather just avoid. So, they send Belgarath in to investigate “real quick.”

One of the true joys a DM experiences is first hearing the players thoroughly enumerate why the should NOT do something, and then hearing them say they want to do it anyway. Because that always turns out well.

For the DM.

As Belgarath moves into the room on his flying carpet, he spots a gigantic shape protruding from the water. As he finally sorts it out as the back of an enormous turtle, a voice booms, “WHO ARE YOU AND WHY ARE YOU HERE?”

As this conversation unfolds, the heroes – most of whom are still back in the tunnel – identify the creature as a dragon turtle. It turns out that the Drazovinites and Sahuagin were paying the dragon turtle in order to mine the walls of the underground lake for remnants.

The dragon turtle demands a similar arrangement from the heroes, should they wish to leave his lair alive. The heroes discuss just leaving (they figure the monster can’t fit through the narrow tunnels), but then Belgarath realizes the turtle must have piles of treasure, possibly including magical items.

When they refuse to make a deal with the creature, it moves to attack, but Elodin casts banishment on it, and it disappears. This gives Belgarath, aiding by Xavier’s and Elodin’s octopus familiars, time to find the monster’s treasure trove.

Drinking a potion of water breathing and diving under the water, the warlock finds a tunnel and begins swimming down it. After half a minute of swimming, Belgarath determines the tunnel probably leads back out to the ocean, and turns around.

Back in the underground lake, the dragon turtle reappears as Elodin’s spell runs out and moves to attack. This time the wizard casts wall of force across the entrance to the tunnel. Enraged and unperturbed, the dragon turtle begins slamming its incredible bulk agains the wall of force and the stone walls.

As rubble and dust begin to rain down on Nigel, Xavier, and Elodin, the latter uses minor illusion to create duplicates of himself to distract the turtle. Meanwhile, the bard begins casting geas, which takes a minute to do so.

Seeing the turtle distracted as he comes back into the lake, Belgarath checks out other parts of the chamber, eventually finding another tunnel. And this tunnel does lead to the monster’s treasure horde! The warlock greedily scoops up a morningstar, scarf, and flute, though he leaves the tens of thousands of gold and platinum pieces on the floor – even he can only carry so much.

As Xavier and Nigel stumbled out of the tunnel that seems ready to collapse, the dragon turtle forces its head through a small hole its created between the wall of force and the stone wall. It inhales deeply and breaths a cone of scalding steam at the heroes. Fortunately, the angle is wrong, and it just hits the wall.

Just as the tunnel is collapsing, Eloding misty steps to the back of the turtle, using a minor illusion of himself in the tunnel to distract the turtle.

Belgarath spots three turtle eggs, each the size of a man, and ties a rope around one of them, planning to drag it out with him. Just as he nears the exit from the dragon turtle’s lair, he comes face to face with the enraged creature.

“THIEF!” it bellows as it inhales, preparing to breathe.

Belgarath discretely downs a potion of gaseous form, and is expelled to the surface of the lake as his body transforms into mist. He hears roars of rage and confusion behind him as he heads to his flying carpet.

Elodin, left floating in the water when the turtle headed under to its lair, casts fly on himself and begins booking it down a tunnel to the south. Belgarath is close behind him.

As they flee, both heroes can hear the dragon turtle behind them – it must have seen them – begin slamming into the entrance, apparently trying to follow them. However, the monster just doesn’t fit, fortunately for them.

This was a badass encounter and tons of fun. So glad the players decided to “just take a quick look.”

The four heroes meet back up in the Drazovinites complex, and review the loot Belgarath pocketed from the stupid turtle. A scarf of water breathing and golden flute go to Nigel, and Belgarath gets a Morningstar +2 of Giantbane.

After exploring some abandoned dwarven tunnels to the east, the Hand of Light heads back to an underwater tunnel they found near the entrance to the entire compound. They originally came here to kill sahuagin, and so far they haven’t seen any of the creatures. They figure that this tunnel should lead them to the sahuagin.

The Sword Coast Guard

the adventurers formerly known as the Heroes of Gold, Glory, and Girls

Hand of Light, Episode 21 – My Dear Missing Mother, Part 1

Session Date: September 30, 2017

16 Flamerule, 1367 DR

After their tenday of downtime, the first order of business of the Hand of Light is to grill Luna over her motivations for joining the group and her general intentions, all while in a zone of truth. Specifically, they want to make sure she has no intentions of harming their adventuring company.

I missed this in the last entry, but Luna ate portion of a page from a book that contained information about wrongdoing of certain groups and individuals in Waterdeep. The presumption was that Luna was hiding something, and the group members are suspicious of her. But the DM would never create secret agendas for a character, would he???

Then the heroes head to New Olamn bard college to speak with Cora Sorel about the letter they received. They find Cora in Modesty Hall, the recreational hall. There they find her rather dejected as she and an instructor listen to three new students doing a horrible job playing their instruments.

Lyr casts enhance ability on the students, improving their musical talent signifantly, and their instructor begins praising them as musical prodigies.

As much of the rec hall breaks out into excitement over the students and heads over to listen better, Cora leads the Hand of Light out of the building and to her offices in the main compound of New Olamn. Cora berates Lyr quite sternly over delaying in arriving, mentions that he’s behind on his dues, and directs them to speak directly with Evard if they want to know more about Lyr’s mother, Nicolette.

Speaking with Evard, a bard who traveled in Nicolette’s band, they learn that she has been captured by undead near the town Leilon to the north. Evard tells them undead attacked the town, carrying off women and children into the Mere of Dead Men. Then, when Lyr and his friends did not respond to Nicolette’s first call for assistance, their band of bards took matters into their own hands, trying to find the captured townsfolk. This is when Nicolette was captured, along with the rest of the band, except Evard who escaped.

This is what happens when players are presented with adventure A and adventure B, and chose A. The story line of adventure B still advances...

The heroes begin to prepare for their journey to Leilon. Dunkle heads to the docks and finds a ship that can give them passage, though it doesn’t depart for five days. Dexter and Luna visit Essimuth, put up with long winded stories about undead, and manage to buy healing potions for the group. Lyr spends a couple hours researching undead types and the area around Leilon and the Mere of Dead Men. Karn procures flasks of holy water from the church of Tom.

The heroes then meet up and buy horses, since Dunkle’s connections at the dock didn’t yield a ship worth taking – they’d be in Leilon via horse before the ship even sails from Waterdeep. Then they set out along the High Road, heading north to Leilon.

19 Flamerule, 1367 DR

The road skirts the Sword Coast as it heads north, with jagged cliffs to the west and the imposing Sword Mountains to the east. The journey is uneventful until day three when they spot something flying toward them from the east.

The shape resolves into a large, winged devil bearing a trident. Dexter identifies it as a horned devil, and quickly relays some basic information to the others.

The devil tells that Hand of Light that its master, Jathar, wished to thank them for the excellent lead they gave him regarding the Moonstars. It looks like the elves will indeed be able to help with finding a map of Evermeet. That is, given enough “persuasion.”

The horned devil them holds out two large gems saying Jathar wishes to present them with a gift. It throws the gems to the ground below, and two inter-dimensional portals open. Through the portals, the heroes can see an ice-covered landscape where the wind howls. Fiendish, ice-covered creatures resembling orcs exit the portals and attack.

The ice orcs turn out to be minor challenge – though Luna takes a terrible beating. It’s the horned devil hurling balls of fire from 150 feet above that really gives the heroes pause. First Karn and then Dexter feel the bite of that devilish fire, before Lyr drops an insect cloud around the heroes, hiding them from the devil’s sight.

Just as Dexter polymorphism into a giant eagle so he can carry Karn up to fight the horned devil, Lyr casts hypnotic pattern on the monster, causing it to plummet to the ground. From there it’s your basic surround and pound; the horned devil doesn’t stand a chance.

After resting, the heroes continue their journey to Leilon. However, they take note that their troubles with this Jathar and Mephistopheles, the archduke of Cania, the eighth layer of the Nine Hells, might not be over.

20 Flamerule, 1367 DR

Upon arriving to Leilon, the heroes note that fully half the town is in ruins. Patrols of mounted soldiers in blue surcoats, soldiers of Leilon, patrol the streets as do spear men and archers bearing the eye and tears sigil of Neverwinter.

They speak with Lance Captain Hermon Shagavon, the leader of the Lances of Leilon, and are told that a necromancer named Gabriel Erskine is responsible for the undead invasion. Captain Shagavon tells them Gabriel claimed to be a priest of Oghma, the god of knowledge, but was known for experimenting on cadavers. So, naturally, when undead attacked, Gabriel must have been responsible. Captain Shagavon tells them that they tried to apprehend Gabriel, but her escaped in the Mere of Dead Men.

The heroes also speak with Captain Ivon Paxton, the leader of the Neverwinter soldiers, but learn nothing else of value.

So, they head to Gabriel’s house to investigate further. There they find a workroom with a cadaver, several books with detailed scientific notes about the anatomy of several creatures, including humans, and a large sig of Oghma – a blank scroll – painted on the wall. The evidence they find doesn’t seem to implicate Gabriel at all. The heroes discuss and believe that the citizens of Leilon were not correct in their belief that it was Gabriel.

The Hand of Light purchases a boat and heads into the Mere of Dead Men to either find Gabriel or the source of the undead problem. They travel for some time with little results. So, Lyr uses speak with animals to get assistance from a crow who leads them through the swamp toward another human it’s recently seen.

The heroes come upon a man up a tree fending off a handful of undead creatures with long tongues lolling from their mouths: ghasts. The Hand of Lights pilots their boat to the small island of dry land at the base of the tree and quickly defeat the undead creatures.

They convince the man to come down the tree, and it turns out to be Gabriel Erskine. He explains to them that he’s been traveling the Mere of Dead Men for some time trying to find the source of the undead in order to clear his name. Under another zone of truth it’s revealed that Gabriel is an inept fighter and has mostly been fleeing undead for the last few weeks.

Gabriel tells them he believes the source of the undead to be located in the Ruins of Iniarv’s Tower. However, he doesn’t know how to get to the tower. The heroes, though, do know where it’s located – in fact they passed it on their way to Leilon.

After discussing, the heroes decide that the source of trouble couldn’t possibly be in the tower. So, they decide to wander the swamp, hoping they get lucky. Gabriel volunteers to help them, though he strongly doubts they’ll find anything in the swamp.

The Hand of Light

Below are the famed members of the Hand of Light adventuring party.