Session Date: December 23, 2017
In the previous episode, the Hand of Light continued delving deeper into the catacombs beneath Iniarv’s Tower north of Waterdeep. They destroyed mummies and ghasts, were ambushed by undead beholders, and fought a glabrezu – a demonic creature from the Abyss.
23 Flamerule, 1367 DR
At the end of their resources, the heroes leave the catacombs and head to Iniarv’s tower to rest. On the way, both Karn and Dexter are pulled into a copse of trees by thick vines. Since this is the result of powers beyond their control, the rest of the adventurers continue onward.
Dexter’s player was not at this session, and Karn’s said he would be a little late.
During their rest, Lyr reads portions of a journal they recovered from the catacombs. It’s owner, Miriam Hargreeve, turns out to be a powerful necromancer who is responsible for the undead attacks on the town of Leilon to the north. As a follower of the dead god Myrkul, she is attempting to gather the god’s scattered essences from across the realms and bring him back to life.
This necromancer has also found the personal memoirs of the lich Iniarv himself wherein he details a dark ritual by which a caster can make himself impervious to physical and magical harm. Any damage or harmful effect is instead transferred to innocents linked to him. Miriam Hargreeve apparently has completed this ritual.
24 Flamerule, 1367 DR
After their long rest, the heroes head back to the catacombs. Karn joins them along the way, having fought free of the vines, but he doesn’t know what happened to Dexter.
As the Hand of Light retraces their path through the catacombs, they begin to hear eerie, haunting music about them. Drums make up the main thread of music, and scores of bells, completely out of tune to the drumming, chime cacophonously.
Dunkle decides to send N1-24 (whom the rogue successfully established a familiar bond with while resting) ahead to scout. The homunculus travels but a few corridors away before two creatures step into the corridor ahead of him.
The creatures’ bodies are transparent, resembling ghosts of some sort, and they wear lengths of chains with bells attached to them. Their eyes glow red with undead hatred, and they surge forward.
Fortunately, N1-24 makes it back to Dunkle safely, though quite terrified. Then the Hand of Light springs into motion.
Torug, the half-orc barbarian whom they rescued previously from these same catacombs, runs around the corner, throwing caution to the wind, to engage the ghosts.
Then, two more ghosts float around the corner, and the four apparitions approach Torag and begin flailing at him with their chains. Each hit the barbarian takes pulls him closer and closer to the ghosts until he is surrounded.
Then two halflings playing drums enter the corridor, too, and begin flinging spells at poor Torag.
Luna and Karn dash around the corner, to aid the half-orc, and attack the ghosts with abandon. Meanwhile Dunkle begins shooting away with his bow.
Lyr, seeing the desperate straits Torag is in, rounds the corner and casts insect cloud with his staff, blinding everyone in the area except for himself. The bard then moves up to Torag, touches him on the shoulder, and casts dimension door, teleporting both of them behind Karn and Luna.
With the barbarian out of their reach, the ghosts team up on Luna and pull her into their midst.
Karn has had enough at this point and, gripping his hold symbol, invokes the holy power of Torm, turning three of the ghosts. With three ghosts fleeing, the fourth that stays falls quickly to the heroes.
Lyr then casts suggestion on one halfling drummer, bidding him to flee to another room and practice his drumming more because it is quite clearly horrible. With the ghosts fled and the other halfling running away as well, the remaining halfling drummer also decides that flight would be best.
With their enemies fled, the heroes patch themselves up a bit with healing spells and potions before pressing onward.
They do notice, however, that the drumming and chiming continues to follow them.
After sprinting through the chamber that conceals undead beholders behind waterfalls, the music goes nearly silent. Lyr presses his ear to the door behind them and hears the music get louder, coming from that chamber. With all haste, the heroes move onward before the music catches up with them.
I made it abundantly clear at least three times that the music is following them as they continue deeper into the catacombs.
Then, the adventurers enter the large chamber where they fought the glabrezu but the day before. Just as they enter it, a large form materializes in the air before them. Its face is concealed under the cowl of a black hooded robe it wears, and large feathered wings spread out behind it.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” it snarls as a black greatsword materializes into its skeleton-like hands. Black motes swirl around the greatsword, and the weapon seems to leech some of the light from the room.
The heroes converse briefly with the figure who identifies itself as Arakiba Venkalth, a fallen angel of the dead god Myrkul. He claims to serve Miriam Hargreeves who sent him there to kill the heroes.
“You however,” Arakiba says, pointing a boney finger at Karn, “I shall take as my own. I will take great pleasure in corrupting you, paladin of Torm!”
Just as the fallen angel moves to attack and the heroes brace themselves for battle, the three ghosts and halfling drummers appear behind them.
I mean, I made it clear that they were following them. I don’t know what else a DM could have done…
With the chain-whipping ghosts and little drummer boys behind them, and the powerful Arakiba before them, the fight goes south fast.
Lyr confronts the ghosts and drummers, but quickly gets pulled into their midst and takes a horrible beating. The bard is forced to cast invisibility and flee back into the chamber.
Meanwhile Luna, Karn, and Torug go toe-to-toe with Arakiba, dishing out damage but taking a lot in return. A lot. Dunkle, meanwhile move behind the columns in the room and begins firing at Arakiba with his bow.
With Lyr hidden and fled, the ghosts chain-whip Luna and pull her into their midst.
Torug is the first to fall to Arakiba’s blade, and then Luna goes down under a barrage from the ghosts and drummer boys. Then Arakiba unleashes a blast of radiant energy from himself, taking out both Lyr and Karn.
Karn manages to claw his way to consciousness for a moment, however.
Arakiba then stands over him, sword poised, and says, “Death would be too easy, paladin. I shall make you Myrkul’s!” And then the fallen angel slams Karn aside the head with the flat of his blade, knocking him unconscious.
An oath-breaker paladin would be fun, right?
With everyone else fallen, Dunkle dashes into the fifty-foot-high stacks of funerary recesses, scales one of them, and hides inside a recess. The rogue uses all his pirate energy to say quiet, praying that the enemies don’t find him.
As the ghosts and halfling drummers take up a search for the rogue, Arakiba begins decapitating the fallen heroes. First Torag’s head goes onto Karn’s halberd. Then he jams Luna’s head onto the half of her own upright maul. Finally, Lyr’s head goes onto his rapier.
Finally, a drummer boy locates Dunkle. What follows is a prolonged game of cat and mouse with Dunkle popping out of a recess, climbing around the stack, and hiding in another while the ghosts and halflings look for him.
Eventually however, the rogue is caught. A ghost wraps him with its chain, pulls him from a recess, and drops him to the floor. Dunkle takes a horrible beating, and barely clinging to life, looks up to see Arakiba towering over him.
“Parley?” the rogue asks weakly.
Arakiba nods and lifts Dunkle up into the air by his hair. “Granted!”
As the rogue breathes a sigh of relief, Arakiba roars, “I shall parley with your spirit!” And then its black sword comes across and parts Dunkle’s head from his body.
As darkness consumes Dunkle, the last thing he hears is the fallen angel’s evil laughter.
And thus the stories of Dunkle Fledermaus, Luna Hammerforge, and Aelyrendar Fairsong presumably come to an end. But what of Karn Mondel? Will he turn to evil under Arakiba’s influence? And what of Dexter? Can the wizard somehow rescue his companions from Death’s cold grip?
THE TALE OF THE HAND OF LIGHT IS NOT DEAD YET!
The Hand of Light
Below are the famed members of the Hand of Light adventuring party.