Peril in Echo Wood

10: ...and see what's on the slab!
Thornkeep level 2: The Forgotten Laboratory

Winter, Wealday, 19th of Calistril, 4714

PCs: Alkor, Vaotu, Vark, Bavolin, Cask, Shirly, Soyala, Max and Doc!

With the Homunculus escaped, the long and bloody fight with the mutant Goblins continues. Brimstone buckles over when a rubbery Goblin smacks him in the fiend’s secret sack, while Vark enchants Doc to grow to a mighty size (causing Cask to hide in her boot as she starts stomping on his freakish cousins, leaving wet, bloody smears on the floor and walls). With a concerted effort, the rest soon follow.

Choosing not to give chase to the little fiend, they instead head through another door, finding what might have once been a library, now destroyed thanks to the rampages of a now defunct construct. Before they have a chance to poke around, they find the room is inhabited by two very angry earth elementals, which hit hard, but find the gang hit’s harder. Finishing their search they find a pair of intriguing tomes on alchemy and arcana, and in digging out the wrecked construct they find an intact arcane power-core..

Sending Cask to scout out the tunnel made by the trashed robot, he soon returns through another door to show both lead to the same place. Though the neighboring room is similarly damaged, some of the alchemical components stored there are still intact. With spells and healing magic mostly exhausted, the group decide to call it a day, and cart the remains of the construct, along with all their other loot, back to the house for a much needed rest.

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9: Come down to the Lab...
Thornkeep level 2: The Forgotten Laboratory

Winter, Wealday, 19th of Calistril, 4714

PCs: Alkor, Vaotu, Brimstone, Vark, Bavolin, Cask, Shirly, Soyala, Max and Doc!

After much dithering in town over supplies for rebuilding and refurbishing the house, as well as receiving the bad news that Greenforest Inn is out of food thanks to the recent rat invasion, the gang heads back down to investigate the lower levels they had discovered beyond the Scrying Pool chamber, joined now by Doctor Huskr Grott, a half-orc “doctor-lady” they had made the acquaintance of when they needed someone to tend those left behind due to injuries over the last several days. Doc seems to have become fond of several of the gang, especially Vaotu (because he squirms when she flirts), and Vark (because he likes hitting things as much as she does).

The first chamber they find holds a foul-smelling pool, which as they attempt to skirt it proves to be inhabited with translucent grey oozes that sprout tendrils to attack. Fighting back, Several are yanked into the pool, and Doc is nearly killed, but she gives as good as she gets, and the oozes are splattered. Pausing to heal up and mend their gear, they study the two exits, and eventually decide to try the less ostentatious wooden door, as opposed to the more intimidating double stone doors flanked by terracotta statues.

Heading down a short hallway, they find a small winged creature throwing a lever, unleashing a hoard of freakishly mutated Goblins that immediately attack! The winged thing flits away in the confusion, leaving the adventurers to fight their way through the strange, psychotic little monsters…

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8: Welcome to the Rat Race
Thornkeep: Interlude

Winter, Toilday, 18th of Calistril, 4714

PCs: Alkor, Vaotu, Brimstone, Vark, Bavolin, Cask, Shirly.

While debating their next move, the Innkeeper persuades the gang to help with a little rat problem in the basement. The infestation proves far worse than was initially suspected, when the would-be exterminators are swarmed by rats, and worse, two transform into man-sized rat men with knives! After a rough fight the lycanthropes are dead and the rats dispersed. Worried that there may be more were-rats in town, the gang persuade the Innkeeper to keep quiet about the monstrous infestation, while Bavolin manages to persuade him to give up the dead for a haunted property he hasn’t been able to sell as hazard-pay for the unexpected challenge. That afternoon the gang packs up and moves to Callanro House, and begin making plans to improve the property.

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7: Kneel before Zog
Thornkeep level 1: The Accursed Halls

(Winter, Moonday, 17th of Calistril, 4714)

PCs: Alkor, Vaotu, Brimstone, Vark, Bavolin, Max, Soyala.

With a brief discussion of the absence of merchants in town (many having journeyed to do business at Fort Inevitable due to the upcoming Chelaxian holiday, Loyalty Day) while waiting for a brief blizzard to let up, the gang returns to finish exploring the final unexplored room of the Accursed Halls, discounting what ever may be hidden behind the Door of Seven Stars. This proves to be a simple stone chamber dominated by a large, partially melted statue. Before a true investigation of the room may begin however, the party is ambushed by three cricket-like creatures the size of dogs, each infected with some strange fungal growth. The monsters prove to be the most dangerous menace yet; though none lose their life, nearly all shed some blood and many lose consciousness over the course of the battle. Still, the insects are overcome, and climbing the statue reveals a hidden cavity containing a magical shortsword, which they soon identify as the legendary goblin blade of the lost Zog Empire that once dominated the Echo Woods region. After some discussion, the party agrees to hand it over to Cask, who smiles from ear to ear, thinking grand Goblin dreams best not mentioned to others…

Heading back through the Hall of Eight Demons, the gang resolve the puzzle of the Door of Seven Stars with their odd collection of gems and stones. Beyond they find a scrying pool, but with no one they particularly want to spy on, the magic proves of little use, and they return to the Inn for another night’s rest.

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6: Goblin Rampage!
Thornkeep level 1: The Accursed Halls

(Winter, Sunday, 16th of Calistril, 4714)

PCs: Alkor, Vaotu, Cask, Brimstone, Vark, Shirly, Bavolin, Max, Soyala.

The gang returns the following day, making plans to use the ladder cross the crevasse. Eventually it is agreed they will send Vaotu across to lower it down, carry it across and set it up again so everyone can wade through the water.

Reaching the next chamber, containing a fishpond and many, many stairs, they hear Goblins above, rolling dice and laughing. They attempt to sneak up and ambush the little biters, but are heard, and the Goblins start raining arrows down from above, making their assent hazardous. . Still, with numbers on their side, and ample cover, they manage to storm the upper terrace, where they slaughter all but one, who – though injured, flees screaming warning to others some distance beyond before he can be caught and killed.

Following, they find another unfinished room filled with evidence of a Goblin camp, but no apparent Goblins. Goblins are notorious hiders though, and most of the gang are caught unawares when the Goblins strike – more so when one of them starts belching fire! Still, even with equal numbers the Goblins prove no match and are quickly overwhelmed. Collecting the little green menaces treasures and splitting the loot as best they may, the gang again retreat for the day.

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5: Shadow Play
Thornkeep level 1: The Accursed Halls

(Winter, Starday, 15th of Calistril, 4714)

PCs: Alkor, Vaotu, Cask, Brimstone, Vark, Shirly, Max, Soyala, Bavolin.

The gang heads back in, having added an cheerful and enthusiastic priest of Nethys by the name of Bavolin. Retracing their steps to the dark chamber they had spotted during their last excursion, they find its weird obsidian stonework and strange, clinging indigo mist disconcerting, but with no other notable contents, they decide to continue on. BUT as they are leaving, those in the rear-guard are ambushed by the sudden manifestation of a Shadow. The fight is a brutal one, and several find themselves drained of strength by conflict’s end, though none loose their lives – Bavolin perhaps came the closest, but by a miracle of faith, his holy symbol frightened the undead at a critical moment. The shadow gone, they find an indigo gem in the floor that, once taken, leaves the mist white rather than dark, and they move on.

In the twists and turns of stairs and corridors, they again find themselves in the Hall of Eight Demons, but this time on the balcony above. Not lingering, they pass another stuck door to continue down another stairwell. In the corridor bellow they discover a goblin crushed by fallen masonry, clutching a fine suit of chainmail in his dead paws. Several members of the expedition are injured trying to get through the unstable hallway, but Alkor is quite happy to lay claim to the magical chain armor as they pass through.

Further travel however is abruptly stopped with the discovery of a chasm. At the far end they see a ladder, torches and a barrel of pitch, with the floor bellow obscured by water. Still, rocks jutting upward show a way to cross for the brave. Cask tests the path, but is swarmed by Stirges before jumping back to the safety of the cliff’s edge. In the brief but bloody fight to follow, several are fed on by the flying ticks, but all the little beasts are splattered by the offended party. With consideration for the mule unable to cross the chasm, and with the divine powers of the clerics on the wane, the gang packs it in for the day.

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4: Why does the clown cry?
Thornkeep level 1: The Accursed Halls

(Winter, Fireday, 14th of Calistril, 4714)

PCs: Alkor, Vaotu, Cask, Brimstone, Vark, Shirly, Kouloz, Max.

Market Day comes and the gang stops at the village green to purchase supplies. Brimstone takes one of the skeleton guardian’s broken glaves and shields to give to a random Goblin, saying these as tribute to your chief, and tell him it comes from Brimstone!" Business done, the gang returns to where they left off in the Accursed Halls.

At the Door of Seven Stars the group pauses to experiment with Max’s emerald ring nad the blue shards of ceramic from the pool room, just to see if the pieces will fit (which they do).

Traveling back to the pool room and up the stairs, they find a magically silenced chamber containing a statue of of the Demon Lord Abraxis, to which Brimstone gives reverence. Not wishing to linger with a skittish mule on unhallowed ground, the group continues onward.

The next chamber proves to be a tomb, complete with scattered sarcophagi and three dead adventurers. As they move to investigate the three adventurers rise up and attack! The first two prove difficult enough, but when the third strikes Kurloz down, they find their own companion rising up and an undead himself just moments later, and the gang realizes they have more than zombies to deal with, but wights as well. A fierce and spirited battle allows them to put all the undead to rest again, including their newly deceased comrade. On the corpse of one they find the ring of a missing Ustilavian Knight, which they pocket to turn in for a reward recently seen over on the Wanted board over in front of the Blue Basilisk’s Hall. Mutilating the bodies to ensure no chance of returning a second time, the gang heads back out into town to collect their reward and bury their dead.

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3: If these bones could talk...
Thornkeep level 1: The Accursed Halls

(Winter, Oathday, 13th of Calistril, 4714)

PCs: Alkor, Shirly, Brimstone, Vark, Soyala, Cask, Vaotu, Kouloz.

The gang marches through the cold back to the Inn, where they spend much of the day recovering. The ribald stories and discussions of local legends with the traveling storyteller Jongular Merryweather provides some small entertainment, as well as a bit of lore on Thornkeep and the surrounding Echo Woods area.

Traveling back to the Accursed Hallsthat night (minus Max, who had a touch of food poisoning), they pause in the Hall of Eight Demons to puzzle over the Door of Seven Stars for a bit, noting the seven depressions while examining the curious scroll Brimstone had wrangled out of the Goldenfire Order when he joined. After some discussion they come to suspect the notes on the scroll indicate a method to opening the door, but decide to table figuring it out until the rest of the floor is properly explored. Pushing on, they traverse the stairwell partially explored already by Soyala during the Goblin battle the previous day, pausing in the first room they come to when Vaotu spots a clever pit-trap. While most everyone else simply walks around it, Shirly intentionally sets it off, then hops down to loot the corpse found bellow.

Further on the gang finds a large Hall dominated by a glowing pool and ascending balconies with stairs and armed, animate skeletons. Dodging arrows fired by skeletal archers, they fight a fierce uphill battle against pairs of skeletal pike-men hiding behind others armed with scimitars or spears and shields. The undead defeated, they pause to pry twinkling pieces of blue ceramic from the pool before retreating to the Inn for another night of rest.

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2: Beware of Goblin Men
Thornkeep level 1: The Accursed Halls

(Winter, Oathday, 13th of Calistril, 4714)

PCs: Alkor, Max, Shirly, Soyala, Vark, Cask, Kouloz, Vaotu.

Brimstone slips off, introducing two strangers as old friends to take his place for the time-being. While some suspicions are entertained, the newly reformed party moves on to investigate the Hall of Demons. Seeing only one door at the far end and an opening with stairs, they move to investigate the latter, at which point they are ambushed by Goblins! A pair strike at Alkor and Vaotu in the lead while another pair strike at Soyala and Shirly’s mule in the rear, leaving Max, Alkor, Soyala and Vark to be targeted by four more firing bows from the terrace above. After a long and bloody fight the Goblins are driven off (in no small part thanks to the frightening kicks of Shirly’s newly-named mule, “Goblin-eating Demon”), but not without depleting the party’s healing reserves AND STILL leaving them battered and bruised. Though loot gained from one of the Goblins cheers them some (as Max takes the emerald ring, Soyala is given a potion, and each of the others collects 60 gp), they still decided it would be best to retreat to the Inn to rest and recuperate.

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1: Into the Accursed Halls
Thornkeep level 1: The Accursed Halls

(Winter, Oathday, 13th of Calistril, 4714)

It was a peculiar company that came together that winter in the Greenforest Inn. The weather cold and crisp, no wonder the strangers came. Yet was desperation for enough coin to keep in drink and warmth proved enough to settle on a desire to join forces and see what fortune was to be had?

Max, the Osiriani-Elf half-breed, dusky skinned, broad-brimmed hat, pistol at his side. He had traveled long before ending up in this wretched little town, with his mule his only companion ’till now.

“Black” Shirly Stone, cat-like Tiefling, ever twitching his tail, bow never out of reach. Ever hungry, ever bored, except when playing with his favorite snack, a jar full of mice.

Vatou, dark-skinned wanderer with burning eyes, rarely speaking, robes and staff hinting his calling. But the stranger was misleading, no more mage than man.

Vark Ironbreaker and Alkor, the half-orcs, so similar in arms and dress. Yet Alkor smiled, resting sword against shield, ready and patient for battles to come. Vark, greatsword across his knees, fez on his head, growled, impatient to serve his god Gorum with the blood and battles he so richly deserved.

Soyala Palln, a Sylph maiden, quietly watching, blending into the background. A face in the crowd, a shadow in the company, the calm voice in a cacophony of cutthroats.

Brimstone, another Tiefling, with sword at his belt and sparks in his hands. His horns mighty antlers above his brow, words were fire on his tongue

These were unlikely heroes, but hungry ones all the same.

Hearing word from Innkeeper Shandar Tulman that the Blue Basilisks, a local mercenary company, had posted a reward for the rescue (or proof of death) of lost adventurer Garhal Silvercrown. A quick jaunt in the face of the evening chill to read the bounty board outside the Basilisk’s barracks nearly results in a brawl between Brimstone (who’s baser nature cannot resist needling the mercenaries), Vark (who cannot back down from a battle), and those they would otherwise seek answers from. Still, Max and Soyala get the answers they need through diverse paths, and it is agreed they set out to Garhal’s last known location, the Accursed Halls, the following morning.

Except for a spat over one of the serving boys between a girl in her cups and his rough and tumble fiance, the night passes uneventfully for the new-formed band of fortune-seekers, and they travel with first light across town to the entrance known by many to be the first step for many an adventurer’s doom. Garhal was not the first to disappear in the catacombs beneath Thornkeep, though he was the only one to tell stories of a mysterious Goblin temple before his vanishing.

Though they have little desire to follow a similar fate, and attempt to examine the entrance hall with care, patience proves not to be Shirly’s strong-suit, and the archer slips down the stairs to everyone else’s aggravation or bemusement. He proves to pay for it though, as he is caught by surprise by three hungry centipedes of exceptional size while investigating the carcase of a pig staked out n the middle of the first chamber he finds. Though he takes a beating (and suffers from a touch of poison), the rest of the company races to his rescue and the vermin are soon dispatched. As the fight comes to a favorable resolution, however, Brimstone and Soyala slip ahead of the others just enough to take a peek at the next chamber. What they see chills them: a great hall, with an octagonal dais surrounded by eight great columns, each in turn entwined by a creature with the upper body of a woman, the lower half a snake, with six arms and in each hand a blade.

And they cannot quite tell – are they stone? Or are they beginning to writhe? To dance as they watch?

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