Princes of the Apocalypse

Dellmon Ranch pt. 2
Cutting the Head Off of the Snake
  1.  Planning Stages
  2.  Assassination
  3.  Raid Aftermath

Planning Stages

The party spent the next 3 hours after the initial ork wave to rig the forge and the barn with oil traps in hopes to engulf them in flame should they press through.  A shallow pit was dug in front of the main gate leading out of the compound where tiger traps were installed to also slow down and wound the orcs as they would eventually press into the compound.

A discussion was had as to whether or not the party should go after the Ork Chief Torzu or not.  Most of the party members did not believe that Jorth, the orog, would be any easier to deal with, but Milpot argued for the plan, believing that killing the orc chief would sue discord within the ranks until a new leader had emerged.  

While this discussion was taking place, the smell of campfire drifted into the compound as large fires to the north were being set and the slight breeze brought the smoke down the valley towards the farmstead.  Scores of orcs could be seen setting fires to every bush and tree and even the open grass was being lit, so that a wall of smoke descended onto the compound, limiting the vision of anyone inside the smoke.

Prior to leaving, the party set about instructing where the defenders needed to be.  The scouts and archers were placed back onto the roof with the commoners and the guardsmen down below and around the house to limit the orcs from entering the house where the noncombatants were being kept.  The two dwarves, Branikan and Stowal were tasked with maintaining the traps on the forge and barn and instructed to wait to spring their fire traps until the greatest number of orcs had entered it.  Sensing the futility of the defense, the dwarves stoically clasped wrists with each other and wished their brother luck.

Assassination

The party left the house as the compound became engulfed in smoke.  Trusting in Axel's ability to lead them through the smoke, the party made their way quietly through the grass and listened as the sounds of orcs tromping through the countryside indicated that the 2nd raid of the compound was underway.  Coming out of the smoke, the party found themselves roughly 60 ft. downhill form the orc chief Torzu, an Eye of Grummsh advisor, and two heavily armored bodyguards armed with spears and tower shields.

The orc leadership seemed to have their attention in the direction that the raid was taking place, so that the party was initially unseen.  Breaking from cover, Milpot led the attack up the hill, pausing to cast Tasha's Hideous Laughter on the orc chief, causing him to fall prone with a bout of insane laughter.  Valeria followed suit by running up the hill, pausing to cast her witch bolt spell striking the Eye of Grummsh in the chest, leaving a smoking wound.  Idra, refusing to dismount from Griffin Bane, led the charge past the party's spell casters and attacked the western most bodyguard while bouncing uncomfortably on his horse blanket.  Axel fired arrows into Torzu's advisor (Eye of Grummsh), Grick dashed most of the way up the hill, wishing that his medium size stature was a little more on the 'large-end'.  Merrick brought up the rear by striking the advisor with a Guiding Bolt damaging the Eye of Grummsh and causing the orc to real in pain from the party's surprise round.

Initiatives were rolled and the party succeeded in grasping the initiative.  Milpot moved up into melee range with his pole arm, Valeria stayed slightly behind using her witch bolt to strike from afar.  Idra leapt from his horse to fight the western body guard with sword and headbutt.  With a cry of "Attack, Griffin Bane," Idra managed his Animal Handling check which the draft horse reacted to by sitting back onto his haunches while chewing the dry valley grass.  Axel finally cherry picked Shagog the Eye of Grummsh with an arrow to the temple.  After striking the orc in the head, Shagog's body was ensnared with creeping vines that sprung from the Ranger's arrow, holding the inert body fast to the ground. Grick called down divine inspiration onto his axe and sang chants to the dwarven gods as he continued to miss the eastern bodyguard.  Merrick also advanced on the eastern guard trying to give Grick some aid, but both were rebuffed by the bodyguard's skill with the tower shield.

On the third round of combat, Torzu finally broke from the control of Milpot's spell and rose.  Shagog lay dead, and Torzu's 2 bodyguards were close to death.  Idra lay unconscious in front of the orc he had fought as Griffin Bane continued to sit on his haunches and eat as the chaos around him continued.  

The party was fortunate that their initial rounds were such a success.  Once Torzu rose, he rallied his bodyguards who were now staggering on their feet.  One was brought down before he could act, but the other bodyguard continued to dish out pain to Grick and Merrick both.  Beset upon by 4 party members, the eastern bodyguard was dishing out damage and parrying attacks with is massive shield.  Torzu managed to dish out 32 points of damage to Milpot in two rounds, forcing Milpot to disengage and pull back from combat while the party just hammered the orc chief for a full two rounds with spells and physical attacks before finally bringing Torzu to rest. 

Looking amongst themselves at disbelief in how hard it was for the orc chief to fall, the party removed the Torzu's head and hid it in a random tent in hopes of causing more dissent within the ranks.  The party found a number of works of art that had caught the orc's eyes while they raided and a few items that resonated as being magical with Milpot's spell.  

Torzus Treasures

Raid Aftermath

The party returned after hearing the orcish horns blair, calling the orc raid off.  Once again, the orcs tended to hit the compound for only a few rounds before withdrawling back away.  The compound was in ruins.  The forge and barn both were still on fire from the dwarves action.  The smell of burnt flesh filled the air and the party saw that the doors and windows to the main house had been broken.

Nervous cries of alarms welcomed them as the survivors finally noticed that the figures coming through the smoke was actually the party members and not another orcish sorte.  Erned met them in front of the house, he was wounded and his eyes expressed the sadness that he tried not to show.  He shared with the party that both dwarves perished in the raids, they were not able to retreat back into the safety of the house once their traps were lit, they fought together in the yard, the house defenders unable to get out to assist them.  Kerbin Dellmon, the patriarch of the Dellmon family also had perished.  The orcs had managed to breach the house and he had moved to keep an orc from exiting with a young child in tow.  Kerbin was brought down with one of the heavy orc axes, his breast plate doing little to shrug off a head wound.  Flameran Verminbane, the halfling scout and associate of the elves of High Forest, also met his demise.  He had been pierced by numerous javelins while on the roof trying to shoot down the advancing orcs as they descended onto the compound.  Flameran's small body did little to shrug off the orc axes as a few of them had climbed up onto the roof to deal with the archers in hand to hand combat.  There were other deaths as well.  Some of the dead and a couple of the living had been captured and taken away with the orcs upon their retreat.  The news of the orc chief's death was a surprise, but the party could see that, at least in the eyes of the survivors, that the price of one orc's head did little to counter the loss to the families here within the compound.

The sun began to set and the survivors could only imagine what the night would bring.

 

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Dellmon Ranch, Part 1
  1. Unsettled Homesteaders
  2. Preperations
  3. Battle

Unsettled Homesteaders

The party reached the Dellmon Ranch later that evening.  The ranch consisted of three large buildings that had a make shift wall connecting the three buildings and a large gate that roughly aligned with the compass directions.  A stone brick house lied to the north with a thatch roof, a forge along the western side, a large barn to the south, and the gate to the east.  It was apparent that many of the farmers had been busy digging ditches around walls as a means of slowing down any raiders from assaulting the hurriedly made compound.

 

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The Watchful Knight
  1. Stone Bridge
  2. The Watchful Knight
  3. The Anderil Farm

Stone Bridge

After disposing of the Black Earth goons, the party continued on making camp and arriving at the famed Stone Bridge later the next morning.  The Stone Bridge is a holy place to dwarves and especially holy to those that honor Moradin for it is written that Moradin actually appeared atop the bridge after King Torhild Flametongue died fighting a Hill Giant 6000 years ago.  The Stone Bridge rises from the ground before leveling off at 400 ft. above the ground.  It is roughly 6 spans across with no guard rails and runs a full 2 miles from end to end.  It is an impressive sight, if not one that is dangerous in its undertaking.

Winds increase greatly at 400 ft. above a river so the party had some difficulty with the mounts that they had been using.  Milpot instructed the party that they needed to blind the party and was quick enough to interrupt Idra's move to draw one of Griffinbane's eyes out with his belt knife.  Instead, cloth was wrapped around the horses eyes and Milpot and Mojo led their mounts by foot.  Idra refused to dismount claiming that he didn't buy the mount so that he could serve it, he bought it so that he could ride it and so he stubbornly did.

The Watchful Knight

As the party descended the Stone Bridge they could see the town of Beliard before them.  Larger than Red Larch the township sprawled across the ground with many copses of trees offering shade to the houses and open spaces the township provided.  It was also noted that many of the locals tended to walk with confidence when met with the eyes of adventurers and many also showed telltale scars of previous encounters.  Knowing that Beliard was known for supplying caravans with guards and mercenaries this was not a surprise, but it was one aspect of the town that stood out when compared to other townships in the Dessarin Valley.

The central inn within Beliard is an old establishment known as the Watchful Knight.  Rumor has it that the inn once hosted a magical suit of armor that no one knew the command word to activate.  This was true until one night the suit of armor disappeared.  Shortly after the armor's disappearance, the owner of the inn also disappeared, never to be seen again.  This was at least, part of the telling that the inn's current owner, Arnoff Graelkin, told to the party over drinks and laughs.  

Arnoff was a special breed of inn keeper, the kind that could smell coin and could recognize new faces.  As the party entered at noon, the only spaces open were at the bar where he was making an effort to look busy as his 4 subordinates ran around the room frantically taking orders and running food and drink to tables.  He welcomed then and asked them if they had come to gawk at the magical suit of armor that the inn was known for.  Surprised that the party had not heard of the armor, he flashed a smile and said that for 5 cp. they could get a glimpse of the suit of armor which they would certainly want to tell their future grandchildren about.

Idra was the first to cough up coin, and offered to pay for Milpot when Arnoff refused to charge Idra twice for two glimpses.  Milpot noticed as Arnoff led the two to the corner of the tavern where a small stage had been erected and was cordoned off by rope and a curtain that the din of the tavern quieted just slightly and that many of the locals seemed to take an interest in the tourists reaction to the armor.  Arnoff led the two to the side of the stage, unhinged the rope and with a conspiratorial wink, opened the curtain so that the two could see the magnificent suit of armor the inn was known for.

What was behind the curtain will cost you a trip to Beliard and 5 cp. for the view but suffice it to say, Milpot was impressed enough with the spectacle though Idra seemed a little confused about it.  When pressed as to why Arnoff had created such a charade, Arnoff responded friendly enough that it was something that he called, "Marketting," and helped bring tourists in and gave him a laugh or two a week so Arnoff felt it was well worth it.  Milpot even offered some suggestions as to improve the spectacle, but Arnoff shook his head, waving Milpot off saying that he kept the price low because it was not enough coin to truly upset a person for loosing it.  By spending 5 cp. and being made a fool, the victim was more inclined to spread the tale of the magnificence of the armor and bring his friends in to spend their coin.  Buying better armor would only provide something that others may wish to steel and Arnoff felt confident that even the most hard up thieves would not stoop so low as to abscond with what was behind the curtain.  

The Anderil Farm

The following morning the party continued to the northeast passing by many farmsteads that had been abandoned with the rumors of the recent troubles that were plaguing the land.  About mid-day the party noticed large black, billowing clouds of smoke rising from behind a hill not far from where they were traveling.  Investigating the party came upon a farmstead that had been set afire with only a few of the farmstead's livestock that were locked in an enclosed fence trying to flee the fire that was consuming the house.  As the party moved closer they heard the weak cry of a male voice from inside the house.

Grick and Milpot entered into the burning house to find a male half-elf lodged underneath a wooden beam with a fresh wound on his head.  Working together the two managed to lift up the beam and pull the wounded farmer from the collapsed roof as the house continued to burn.  The farmer, Selwyn, said that his farm had been attacked by orcs and frantically asked about his wife and ranch hands.  Noticing that wagon tracks led off to the north, the party offered to let Selwyn take the party's wagon to the Dellmon Ranch, a larger homestead whose family had offered all in the area a place of respite until the danger had passed.  Selwyn refused, stating that he would also accompany the party if they were indeed going to track down the orcs.

Only a couple of hours later, the party surprised themselves on stumbling upon the orcs resting in a wooded area.  Maygan, Selwyn's wife, was seen sitting atop the wagon and the two ranch hands Ob and Fip looked warn out and sitting against the wagon's wheels.  Four orcs were resting and drinking from wineskins and laughing over raiding stories.

As the party veered off behind some dense hedges and began discussing their plan, Selwyn had pushed forward through the briars to run towards his wife to free her.  Combat ensued, most of the details were lost to the wind though Milpot's Charge is a poem that will forever be referenced by storytellers who wish to describe inauspicious cavalry rides into danger.  Milpot drew up his polearm and jammed his heels into his draft horse's flanks making it leap towards the orcs.  Having managed to maintain control of the mount while unsaddled, Milpot swung his polearm at the nearest orc, missing and clanging the blade against a large ash tree.  The shock of the polearm and the twisting of Milpot's body while riding his horse had unsettled him slightly but he managed to maneuver he and his horse near the wagon as two orcs converged on him.  They struck him with multiple axe strikes, knocking him off of his horse and leaving him prone onto the ground.  And thus, battle ensued.  

Selwyn managed to make it through the battle unharmed.  He made it to his wife and cut her bindings.  The party picked up that maybe Maygan was either pregnant by the ranch hand Fip, or at least had more than just an employer/employee relationship to which Selwyn was oblivious to.  With the orcs dead, and Selwyn's farm left in ashes, the party escorted Selwyn and the rescued humans towards the Dellmon Ranch.

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To Beliard
  1. A Brief History Lesson
  2. Red Larch Advisory Council
  3. Feathergale Spire
  4. Ambush

A Brief History Lesson

The party was asked if they would stay a night and meet with Red Larch's Advisory Council.  Because the citizenry of Red Larch was still realing from the discovery of the Believers and the actions that were committed below the township, an advisory council of some of the more prominent members of the town were called to oversee things until the investigation of the murder accusations were completed and a new mayor could be elected.

Present at this closed meeting inside the Swinging Sword was Imdarr Relvaunder, Priest of Tempus, Lymmura Auldarhk, Devotee of Sune, Harburk Thuthmarrilar, Sheriff of Red Larch, Jalessa Onra, Butcher and Harburk's wife, and Helvur and Maegla Tarnlar, Clothiers of Fine Apparel.  Imdarr stated that Harburk requested that he start this meeting and so Imdarr opened with a brief history of the land that Red Larch was founded upon.

Roughly 6,000 years ago the Dwarven Kingdom of Besilmer was established here in and around the Sumber Hills.  King Torhild Flametongue had brought his clan here and they established a great city that existed above ground which is notable because not many Dwarven cities are so accessible.  The two lasting remnants of King Torhild's creation are the Stone Bridge, near Beliard, and the ruins of the Halls of the Hunting Axe which is reportedly where King Torhild was buried under after dying in battle against a Hill Giant while defending the Stone Bridge.  After the King's death, the Dwarven Kingdom eventually fell to a number of invasions of orcs and trolls that swarmed through the lands.

Roughly 600 years ago, a knightly order called the Knights of the Silver Horn took it upon themselves to clear the land of orcs and goblins and began searching for the ruins of the lost dwarven kingdom.  They inhabited the various ruins and keeps that were found, repaired them and used them as center points to combat the raiding tribes that continued to plague the land.  This effort, too, was done in vain as more invasions from orcs and trolls and drow raids plagued the land, overrunning the various bastions the Knights of the Silver Horn had attempted to rebuild.

The recent settlement of the Dessarin Valley is credited to the rise and success of the city of Waterdeep.  As Waterdeep grew, the populace expanded and settled the surrounding lands.  Much of the towns that populate Red Larch are under 400 years old, many only having been established within the last 150 to 200 years.  The people are tough and hardy which is what is required of those who seek to create a homestead that is far from any intervening governement body.  Many of these settlers are not aware of the troubles that have plagued the landscape, often referring to any known ruins as being haunted or evil without knowing how or why they feel the way they do about such ruins.

Red Larch Advisory Council

Imdarr ended with admitting that he is a member of the Order of the Gauntlet, an order that has tasked itself with seeking out evil, uncovering it, and defeating it out in the open as a means of inspiring the populace that such deeds are capable.  The order has a network of operatives that watch and weigh in on events so that evil isn't given a chance to find purchase which is why the party's uncovering of the Larrakh and the Believers here in Red Larch were so surprising.  Now that the party has brought in more information about an Elemental Earth cult worshiping Ogremach had actually set up a monastery in the area has been very troubling.  They now fear that the rumors and reports of orc incursions to the north and west is something that the council of Red Larch is not comfortable to idly sit and wait for news to come to them.

Imdarr has received a message from an associate, an Erned Stoutblade, a knight within the service of the Order of the Gauntlet, that he is seeking assistance as he leaves Yartar to investigate the rumors of the orc incursion.  Lymmura also shares some information that has been passed on to her that an animal messenger was also sent to the elves of High Forest for aid and that aid has been sent, but no word as to whether or not it has been received.  

Feathergale Spire

Milpot purchased a pair of Draft horses at a discounted rate of 42 gp each.  A wagon and the appropriate harnesses were granted to the party for free with letters of introduction that they carry with them the interest of the Red Larch advisory council.  Badges were stamped for those interested in wearing them, showing three trees growing from a larch leaf and one bright red ribbon was handed over to Mojo, the stitching of "Miss Red Larch" having been recently removed, but pleasant enough if seen from a distance.

The party traveled to Feathergale Spire to pick up Griffin's Bane, Idra's horse and regale Thurl and the Feathergale Knights with the deeds of the Sacred Stone Monastery.  Milpot had taught two musicians that he had hired to accompany them his song of deeds and left the musicians there at the Spire to entertain the Feathergale Knights over the next two weeks of their contract.  Savra approached both Idra and Milpot and offered to sponsor them each into the order if they were interested.  She explained that this such a sponsorship was rare for those without family connections or who were titled, but not unheard of.  She felt, and she believed Thurl Marosska felt the same way, that both Idra and Milpot had shown themselves to be of strong character and who seemed to identify with what the Feathergale Society believed in.  After consideration, Idra asked if he was permitted to bring his own mount if he came back.  Savra was surprised but was able to hide her confusion as Idra explained that he did not have one yet, but that he might when he got to return.

Ambush

On the road to Beliard, the party encountered two hunters who were walking down the road.  They walked with staves and had short bows slung on their backs.  They stopped and moved to the side of the road as the party neared and spoke with the party for a brief time before moving on down the road in the direction that the party came from.  As the party continued, three familiar stone armored earth cult warriors stepped out from behind rocks along the road.  They spanned the road, halting progress and advanced on the party.

Sensing the ambush, Idra leapt off of Griffin's Bane and charged the two hunters which had drawn their short bows and were preparing to fire on the party from behind.  Merrick also jumped from the wagon and charged the second bowman as the rest of the party tried to deal with the heavily armored guardians before them.  As Idra fought sword and elbow against the bandit and hearing the battle behind him, Idra yelled out a command, "Griffin's Bane, Attack!"  The horse, only knowing one trick, proceeded to sit down on his haunches and chew the remnants of the sage grass he was eating.  Griffin's Bane seemed unfazed at the chaos and mayhem that went on around him and remained sitting until the encounter was over.

During the course of the battle, the draft horses panicked and bolted, tearing off down the road while Milpot attempted to regain control over the runaway wagon.  Grick, the dwarven palidin, leapt off of the wagon to land on the ground and charge the evil foes… at least that is how he imagined it in his head.  What the rest of the party saw was Grick losing his balance and teetering backwards like a ballerina until gravity kicked in and brought him crashing onto the ground, knocking the air from his lungs.  Lurching to his knees, the dwarven paladin of Moradin took a moment to catch his breath before bringing his hammer to bear.

Mojo was beaten down by one of the earth cult guardians who was subsequently destroyed when Grick's warhammer struck him with a holy aura.  The stone earth armor exploded from the body of the human it covered; the body flopped and rolled limply before coming to rest.  Milpot had managed to regain control of the wagon after a couple of rounds where he was fighting the panic of the horses.  Spinning the wagon into a sliding stop, he leapt off of the wagon and ran back to the fray.  Idra and Merrick had managed to down another of the earth cult guardians between the Country Club attack from Idra's twin elbows or the spiritual attacks of Merrick that were fueled by Trithereon.  It would be difficult for anyone to claim any one attack was more effective in this fight thought it was Merrick who managed the felling blow.

The lone guardian fought on, refusing to go down or to yield to the party.  He mentioned that Marlos Urnrayle had commanded that the heads of this party was brought to him and their presence on the road seemed to indicate that the earth cult had some means of tracking the party or knowing what their motives were.  Unfortunately for the lone guardian, the party proved to be too much and he wilted under the numerous blows from the surrounding party members.

 

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Downtime In Red Larch
  1. Paladin's Backstory
  2. March to Red Larch

 

Paladin's Backstory

Amongst the prisoners was a Dwarf Paladin by the name of…. Grick?  The dwarf paladin was accompanying a cleric of Moridan who had received visions of dwarven ruins in the Sumber Hills and came in search of them.  The two had paid passage down the Dessarin River from an elderly boatman called Arik.  Arik described the Sumber Hills and much of the Dessarin Valley as having become dangerous over the last few years.  Stories and rumors of banditry had increased and Arik claimed surprise than an old haunt, a keep known as Rivergard Keep was populated when they passed by on the river.  

Several armed men yelled out that Lord Jolliver Grimjaw was taking tolls on this river to pay for the repairs and upkeep on the keep that he had made a claim on.  Arik claimed to never having heard of any Grimjaw, so he flashed them the sign of the fig and used his boat hooks to push the chain that spanned the river and in which the armed men used to halt their down river traverse.  Continuing down the river, the men from the keep warned of river bandits, claiming that Arik would pay for not having paid his toll.

An hour or so later, Arik and the two dwarves saw men in ragged clothing man small skiffs who paddled out to meet them.  Something within the water had tipped Arik's riverboat over and the raiders snatched the drowning dwarves and the boatman from the river's depths and rapids.  Having secured them, the 3 were eventually brought back to Rivergard Keep and made to listen to a priest drone on about the "truth of the deep waters".  The two clerics got into a little more than a theological debate as the priest was killed and Garrick…? was bludgeoned until he lost consciousness.

The two prisoners were then handed over to a Larrakh, a crazy priest who castigated his underlings with threats of the elemental earth and who eventually had gotten everyone lost within the Sumber Hills.  Upset that he was behind schedule, Larrakh led the group of 2 plus a number of other prisoners from an earlier ambush and led them south, outside the Sumber Hills, until he could find some familiar landscapes to continue on with.  As he led his party back towards the Sumber Hills, men flying on giant birds attacked form the sky.  Some of the prisoners tried to attack and free themselves, but eventually one of the bird raiders was brought down while another of the bird raiders absconded with a Waterdavian Noble who had been one of the prisoners.  Larrakh performed a brief ceremony for the dead, piled rocks on top of their bodies and then led the group into the hills until they reached the Sacred Stone Monastery.  

March to Red Larch

The party found themselves with 17 recently freed prisoners who had been starved for several days and in no shape to travel the party chose to rest at the monastery until the freed prisoners were healthy enough to travel and the party members had managed to heal themselves. up.  

The travel to Red Larch was slow and worrisome.  Figures along the horizon, out of bow shot, were seen to be dogging the party and the line of freed prisoners.  Axel mentioned that he thought it might be gnolls, and was worried only if Red Larch was further away.  He felt that the group they traveled with was simply too large for the gnolls to take on with their current numbers and worried that if Red Larch wasn't their destination that they would probably be running into a trap.  The gnolls, however, seemed to lose interest or melt into the trees as Red Larch came within view and the freed prisoners found themselves being welcomed into the tents and emergency shelters that had been constructed within the Red Larch's market square.

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The Price of Freedom
  1. Cessation of Violence
  2. The Undead is Further Harassed
  3. Reinforcements
  4. Death of a Companion

Cessation of Violence

"Right, so, enough of this bullshit or I cut the half-blood's head off!"  Jorth, the Orog, had knelt down and had placed a serrated knife under Milpot's neck while he was unconscious .  The jail keeper's subordinates took a half step back and took up defensive poses while Drool stood off to one side with his heavy club drooling.

Jorth had explained that as far as he was concerned, the party of heroes had won.  The stone monks had fled down below into the depths of the earth where their Earth Temple was located.  He mentioned that their leader, Hellenrae the abbess and blind monk, had retreated down below about an hour before with 2 minotaurs carrying a heavy trunk.  He also mentioned that 4 Duergar had also came down the stairs and fled through the tunnel network with large sacks on their back filled with food and probable loot.  Jorth was tasked with killing the prisoners and fleeing down below, but he was finished with taking orders and decided to go off on his own, as well.  Seeing as the heroes had returned, he figured that the prisoners probably were worth some coin.  Both Hellenrae and the duergar left with gear and loot so he was going to let the party members continue being the heroes for the right price.

During the tense negotiations, Mojo managed to cast a charm spell and bring Jorth under his influence.  While charm doesn't really change one's nature, he was much more inclined to work with the party and so gave the party Milpot's unconscious body before the final death save could be failed!  With the token of good faith, the party retreated back up to the upper level to devise a plan and look for whatever was of value that had been left behind.  He gave the party 2 hours to return or he would then begin killing the prisoners.

The Undead is Further Harassed

While the party began investigating the abandoned rooms of the monastery, Kleckhain returned to the Lich's quarters and began asking the undead revenant questions.  With a bit of uncanny luck, the revenant reiterated that the party's struggle with the monastery was not his and that he wanted no part in it.  When pushed with the suggestion that the party could help ensure that the monks did not return, the undead figure offered them respite should they need it in his adjoining room.  He admitted that the name Samular Caradoon that the party members discovered on the sarcophagus below was the undead's brother and that the undead was made by an act of his brother's own doing some 600 years ago.  

Feeling like this was as much as he was going to get out of the revenant, Kleckhain left to go find the rest of the party.

Reinforcements

As the party continued their search for things to buy the Orog off, they discussed what options they had open to them.  They had already been in the thick of it several times that day and so most of them were tired and the spell caster's available spells were low.  Ultimately the party weighed in on the Feathergale Knights that were patrolling above to assist them or to at least offer their suggestions as to what was to be done.  

Petrov had remained behind, apparently having delegated the escorting of Qarbo to the Feathergale Spire to a subordinate, and welcomed the chance to go below and bring his vengeance onto those responsible for the killing of his brother.  With Petrov, 2 Feathergale Knights would escort him and the party felt better with their numbers boosted.

Several options were discussed, many plans suggested and then tossed aside as there seemed to be a differing of opinion as to how to deal with Jorth and his guards.  Merrick was fine with paying Jorth and his orogs off while Mojo refused to give away any of the loot that they had managed to find during their search.

The party had managed to find Qarbo's quarters, a room that they had stumbled upon earlier and then left when one of Qarbo's bodyguards rose in the night.  The room had been ransacked and a large chest smashed open.  A few coins littered the room, but the bulk of the party's materials remained behind.  Merrick's shield and holy symbol was found as was Milpot's lute and Mojo's spellbook.  The money that they had acquired before having journeyed to the Monastery seemed to have been looted by the Duergar.  Off in one corner of the room a small chest was missed since it was lying underneath a broken bunk.  Qarbo’s Chest

Knowing that once the charm spell wore off that Jorth would be wise to what had happened, Mojo and the party didn't think that Jorth would be open to much negotiation.  The party decided to try and assault the room from multiple sides in coordination with one another.  Much of this plan was based on being able to contain Jorth and his guards in the room and limit their means of escape.  Petrov and the Feathergale Knights were instructed to stay out of eyesight in the mausoleum until he heard fighting and then rush in.

Unfortunately, whatever plan had been finalized fell apart once the party members exited the mausoleum and saw one of the orogs peeking through the door watching the passage way.  Upon seeing the party, the orog moved back into the room, leaving the door slightly ajar.  The party moved forward, giving up their design to send a sorte to the other side of the guard room, and opened the door.

Jorth and both orogs were spaced around the room standing behind 2 prisoners each that had their hands tied behind their back and were standing on their knees.   Jorth immediately took hold of the situation and made sure that he was taken seriously by reaching down to one of his prisoners and cutting their throat as the party looked in.   Hollering for the money to be paid, Kleckhain moved forward with his fake bag of treasure.  Tired of having to play nice with the party's interests and wanting to take out his frustrations of being called 'First Down' (a nickname the Duergar had apparently given him) thew the bag of random junk at Jorth, striking him in the chest as he charged Drool, the ogre.

Initiatives were made and a brutal battle commenced.  One of the orogs ran out of the room and was surprised to meet the rest of the party and later reinforcements on his own.  Drool and Kleckhain exchanged blows as Jorth and Merrick battled each other.  Outside the room, the orog managed to take Idra down with his heavy longsword, Kleckhain managed to bring down the Drool but was subsequently cut down by Jorth after Merrick had fallen.  As the party pressed into the room, chaos continued to ensue and the party watched in horror as Petrov used his arcane arts with an area effect spell that killed some of the prone and defenseless prisoners (as well as damaging Jorth).  Jorth and his lone orog guard decided to flee the room out the north passage.  The party attempted to cut Jorth off, but the maze of tunnels confused them as they set up in juctions and waited for the orogs to present themselves, which never happened.

Idra had been revived and even his speed was not sufficient to catch up with the jailers as they retreated.  Merrick was revived before he expired, but Kleckhain passed through the veil and his body laid still amidst the gore of the bloody exchange.  Petrov offered to take Bruldenthor with them back to Waterdeep which the party agreed to as they tried to figure out what to do with the rest of the prisoners and what to do with the body of their fallen companion.  

Jorth’s Room

 

 

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Into the Depths of the Sacred Stone Monastery
  1. Retreating Duergar
  2. Abandoned Alter Room
  3. Crypts and Zombies
  4. Double Secret Surprise Attack

Retreating Duergar

After taking a short rest, the party returned to the Stone Monastery through the side door that led into the kitchen.  Various pantries had been left opened and rifled through and several fruits and vegetables were strewn across the floor showing signs that someone had been through here after the party retreated into the canyon.  From the kitchen a faint light could be seen emanating from the Mess Hall as well as some movement which stopped about the same time the party stopped and began listening to what was going on in the room to the south (Mess Hall).

A guttural voice yelled out from the Mess Hall, "Your war with the Stone Monks are not with us.  We're leaving."  Having guessed right, the party exchanged words with the deserting Duergar.  The Duergar that had managed to hold onto their lives had collected the bodies of their brethren and lied them out on top of the tables within the Mess Hall.  Some attempts had been made to clean the bodies and their fallen comrades held onto their hammers with one hand while holding a fist full of gold coins in the other.  Candles had been set up near the heads of the fallen showing at least a minimal attempt to revere the dead.

Refusing the leave through the kitchen where the party was, the Duergar exited the south through the hallways of the monastery where the quarters were and where the party had staged their initial ambush.  They carried with them their weapons and sacks of food stuffs and equipment that they had gathered together and the echoes of their footfalls retreated down the hallway past where Milpot could see them as he watched them from the doorway of the kitchen.

Abandoned Alter Room

When the party entered into the mess hall, they noticed that the doorway that lead to the Alter Room had been left ajar.  Deciding that they should at least inspect and make sure that there were no foes at their back, they retraced their steps to the alter room and found it empty and dark.  They listened for the noises that they initially heard that came up from below the alter room at the bottom of the stairs and where Mojo had been attacked by the half ape/beetle creature but heard nothing.  They crept carefully down the stairs, peering into the darkness and keeping a close eye on the barred off section to the west but saw no movement and heard nothing of the shifting that they had heard before.

The barred section of the room cut off the western 20 feet of the chamber and was only accessible by a sliding cage door which was locked.  A door along the western wall of the chamber was seen to be left slightly ajar as Mojo used mage hand to sift through the piles of debris that were made up of various bits of clothing and pieces of bone from previous meals.  Along the eastern wall was another metal reinforced door which was locked which the party decided that they'd use Kleckhain's talents for opening doors and threw him into it, forcing the door open.

Crypts and Zombies

A tunnel extended to the east and ended in another brass door roughly 40 feet away.  Listening for noise and hearing none, the party picked the lock and then opened the door into ha huge vaulted mausoleum.  Niches carved into the rock along the wall held the skeletal remains of those interred therein.  Shreds of clothing adorned some of the figures and there were a few stone and wooden coffins lying about the room.  Another large, brass door was positioned on the southern wall of the room.  The mausoleum was large enough that even the dark vision of the non-humans in the party could not see the back end of the room so Merrick cast his light spell on a few rocks and hurled them into the room to shed light towards the far end.  After a couple of botched attempts, the room had light both 10 feet away from the party as well as deep within a second vaulted area far beyond the first room.  A large stone sarcophagus could be seen along the eastern wall of the second vaulted section.

Milpot, the "Dungeoneer", warned the party about the dangers of trapped rooms and proceeded to leap heavily onto the stone tiles as he checked for pit traps and floor triggers.  Being the expert that he is, he proved to the party that no such traps existed and so they began to make their way into the room splitting up as Milpot and Merrick moved to inspect the southern door and Mojo moved east to investigate the stone sarcophagus.  As Mojo stepped into the second vaulted room, bodies from within the niches of the walls began to shift and rise as 6 very undead bodies rose to assault the party.

Mojo was assaulted by 2 zombies and had 2 others looming towards him.  Knowing that the party's success relied upon their stealth and being able to surprise the Stone Monks, Mojo resorted to his quieter spells of Thunderwave and Shatter on the zombies retreating away from the attentions of the gnome molesting undead.  

Idra was attacked by a lone zombie and in a fit of desperation and shell shock, whittled the zombie down to pieces with his short sword and vorpal elbow.  Having downed his opponent and having entered into a near manic fury, he charged a second zombie from across the room only to find that it collapsed in front of him from the glare that he gave it.  Idra either did not notice the several arrows that Axel had been firing into this zombie or refused to, Idra claimed victory over this combatant and moved on to carry "Idra's Elbow" to the rest of the undead scum.

Kleckhain, Merrick, and Milpot spent several rounds wailing (and missing) a single zombie that refused to fall.  Kleckhain entered into a rage early into the encounter only to end up chopping the shit out of the door frame, completely missing the zombie round after round.  Merrick wailed heavily onto the lone zombie only to frustrate himself at the undead refusal to fall.  While it was probably the smashed lungs that led to the groaning sound from the zombie, none of the party members wanted to believe that this lone zombie was laughing at them as the party pressed a 3 on 1 advantage to no avail.  Milpot also struck with his glaive, unfortunately with little effect and after 5 or 6 rounds of attention the invincible zombie fell to Idra's Elbow as he leaped over the head of Milpot and struck the laughing zombie in the temple, collapsing it and crying 'Cherry Pick!' to himself.  The last zombie fell to Axel's arrows and Mojo's Flame Bolts giving the party a few moments of respite before they heard the scraping of metal on stone from the hallway connected to the southern exit.

The creature that had haunted Mojo's dreams charged into the room.  As large and lumbering as an ape, covered with the chitinous carapace of a beetle, and armed with bronze blades that had been sutured into its hands, the creature thrashed about wildly and smashed into Kleckhain with one of its claws and a tore out a chunk of his neck and shoulder with its mandibles.  Kleckhain was lucky to have entered into his third rage of the day because this had made him partially resistant to the creatures attentions.  Round after round its attentions fell back onto Kleckhain as the rest of the party continued to miss and occasionally hit the creature.  Milpot patted Kleckhain on the back, giving him an encouraging word while stepping back out of melee reach of the creature, unfortunately this inspiring word did not do anything to help Kleckhain's aim or accuracy as he continued to miss each round while being randomly chosen to be caressed by the enraged monstrosity before hand.  (Every round Kleckhain was rolled to receive the beastie's attention and every attack G made for Kleckhain missed horribly – maybe if Milpot is treated well, he will rewrite the account of this past week's encounter…)

Merrick called upon Trithereon to assist in this fight by granting Merrick extra attacks with his war hammer and Mojo boosted his Witch Bolt spell which struck the creature with staggering impact round after round.  Arrows flew from Axel's bow and even Idra sliced and elbowed the creature, encouraging Kleckhain to strike it with his axe, but the might of the creature continued to hammer and tear chunks from his body, making him reel back and his attacks ineffectual.  The creature finally was brought down to a number of heavy blows by Merrick and a final spark from Mojo.  After the creature fell to the ground in front of Kleckhain, the party looked at one another and then as one, continued their assault on the fallen creature, making sure it was dead.  Mojo continued striking it with his Witch Bolt until the spell faded and then used magic had to float the broken halfling skull he had pilfered from the creatures lair to mouth, "Yeah, see.  That's the second time I beat you, no matter what anyone here says!" in a rather terrible, high pitched, 1950's radio voice.

Double Secret Surprise Attack

Moving out of the mausoleum, the party discovered the crazy network of tunnels that the prisoners had drawn in the dirt days ago.  A doorway across the hall was found to be the one that interred into the room where Jorth, the ogron, and the prison guards lived in and had escorted the party members through when they were interrogated by Qarbo.  Milpot could hear the slurpy breathing from the other side of the door as Mojo saw Drool, the ogre guard, standing off to the right side of the doorway that led to the stairs that exited up onto the second floor.  The rest of the room was empty, the sleeping pallets and mounds of crap were still in their original places and the well which had been full of water was still present.  Drool was armed with a huge club but had virtually all of his attention on the closed door.

Milpot devised a cunning plan, he told the party that he'd run around to the other side of the room and surprise the ogre from the rear.  Once he struck, the other party members would come in from this side of the room and they'd have the ogre dead to rights.  As Milpot stealthed through the empty passages, he was already imagining the tale that he'd weave and how he, the bard, was the hero of the day.  Not some stuffy cleric in shining armor, nor some micro mage with a weird skull fetish, or a loopy scatter-brained elf, not even a disgruntled barbarian of a dwarf whose talent seemed to be attacking doors and door jams, the hero would be the bard.  Smiling to himself and casting a minor enchantment to increase the devastating nature of his attack, Milpot quietly opened the door, walked the short steps behind the drooling ogre and smashed him with his glaive.  Surprised, the ogre cried out in pain, Milpot struck again, laughing to himself as the verses were writing themselves and he could envision the tavern wenches already lining up and swooning under his attentions…

Furs flew up into the air, bodies moved, as Jorth and his two ogron underlings sprang from underneath their sleeping mounds and charged the lone figure before Mojo could even open the door.  Jorth struck Milpot with his great axe, dealing a devastating wound, and causing the iambic pentameter narration in Milpot's head to falter only to be dashed as Drool swung his great club around and smashed Milpot to the ground, turning the revelry into a dirge.  The party members swarmed in and combat began, only to be paused after the first full round to wait until next week.  

 

 

 

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Skullduggery and Kitchen Wars
  1. Snooping through the alter room
  2. Mess Hall, Kitchen, and midnight snacks
  3. Duergar Patrol and Silence Spells
  4. Battle of the Stone Kitchen

After fighting the gargoyles and stumbling into the undead's laboratory, the party decided to enter into the Alter room through its eastern door.  While attempting to be very careful and quiet, Milpot twisted his ankle and fell back into Merrick.  Merrick stumbled and then the stitching on his pack gave way opening up and dropping a number of pots and pans onto the stone floor.  As the cacophony quieted down, Milpot kicked his leg out to steady himself and kicked the last pot across the floor.  Darkness disguised the flush faces as the rest of the party glared at the two clumsy party members as they picked up the bent pots.  Milpot managed to find a number of scrolls in Qarbo's desk which he stashed into his bags to read when time allowed.

Creeping through the monastery the party found and cleared the Monastery's Mess Hall and the Kitchen.  Finding an exit from the kitchen to the outside the party felt more secure that they had an escape route should they need one.  After Milpot filled his pockets with pepperoni and cheese, they made their way into the living quarters of the Monastery.  

The party investigated a few rooms that seemed to be designated as sleeping quarters.  A patrol sent them hiding into one of the rooms that had a number of sleeping pallets strewn around the room.  Staying quiet, the a pair of rough looking Duergar walked towards them down the hallway and turned to go into the kitchen making comments about getting food.  Merrick jumped out of the room behind them and cast a silence spell which blanketed the area to keep any combat noise from waking the rest of the Monastery up.

After Kleckhain, Idra, and Milpot pressed forward, one of the Duergar turned invisible and tried to escape through the door into the Mess Hall.  He was injured but managed to retreat out of the reach of the party as they brought down the 2nd Duergar.  Milpot and later Kleckhain ran after the invisible Duergar and eventually caught up to him outside as he raised an alarm, yelling about intruders.  The noise echoed off of the canyon walls which intensified the volume.  Once the Duergar was brought down, the party quickly caught up with one another as the outside party was trying to enter into the kitchen and the inside party was trying to exit the kitchen.  Feathergale Knights flew overhead, looking to see what the activity was all about.

Deciding to make a stand outside with the aid of the Feathergale Knights, Milpot rushed back into the kitchen to try and slow the oncoming denizens of the Monastery.  Unfortunately, Milpot had misjudged the timing and who exactly was pursuing them and found himself facing two of the Black Earth Guards in their living suits of rock armor and wielding their immense studded clubs.  The combat started inside the kitchen and eventually drew the rest of the party from the outside inside.

Behind the Black Earth Guards, Qarbo was able to cast spells into the kitchen unseen from most of the party.  A shatter spell took out Idra and damaged Milpot.  Axel took aim from the back of the kitchen and began shooting the Black Earth Guards with arrows, finding cracks and seems within the armor, drawing blood.  Mojo reentered the kitchen and began casting spells, zapping the stone shrouded warriors and Kleckhain moved in to enter hand to hand combat.  

Qarbo began taunting the party at this time, saying he was very pleased that they had returned and that Ogremoch would caress them with his power as he cast an Earth Tremor spell, knocking Milpot prone onto the ground and causing damage to Idra's limp form.  Merrick moved in and managed to cast a healing spell on Idra, reviving him before the broken room and the area effect spells could put him to sleep permanently.

As Qarbo turned to run from the party, Milpot managed to turn the corner and cast Tasha's Hideous Laughter on him, causing Qarbo to fall to the ground with insane laughter.  The party then moved on Qarbo, tying him up and gagging him and brought him outside the Petrov, who had landed to see what was going on.

The party took a short rest on the bluffs overlooking the Monastery.  Merrick read through the scrolls that was found on Qarbo's body and that Milpot had picked up from the writing desk inside the Alter Room.  After reading through endless prose and banal 'insights,' Merrick managed to draw this information from the texts:

  • The scrolls were written by a Marlos Urnrayle who claims to be the Prophet of Earth
  • Marlos claims to have received visions and dreams that led him to a place called the "Fane of the Eye."
  • Within the "Fane of the Eye," Marlos found a holy implement of Earth Power named "Ironfang."
  • Marlos established the Temple of Black Earth in the ruins of an abandoned dwarven stronghold which lies underneath the Sacred Stone Monastery.
  • Marlos nurtures something called the Black Geode and when all is ready, "the Evergrowing Mountain shall come and remake these lands in his own image."

 

Petrov offered to take Qarbo back to the Spire for interrogation but couldn't guarantee that Qarbo wouldn't live through his attentions.  While this didn't seem to surprise the party, nothing was done to secure Qarbo's health when the party turned to go back into the Monastery.

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Gargoyles, Mushroom Stamps and Hakuna Matata

After a long debate over whether or not party should accept the aid from the Thurl and the Feathergale Society, the party decided to go in at night and under stealth the party took Thurl up on his offer and returned to the Monastery.

The infiltrators flew around the Monastery to assess whether or not there were any sentries.  Finding none and noting that there was some torch light within the monastery, they decided to be dropped off in the garden on the northeastern side of the monastery.  The garden was walled off by a stone wall, but in using ropes and being dangled from the Feathergale Knights' mounts, they proceeded to repel into the garden.

As the party was being lowered, 2 of the many stone statues came to life and surprised the party while they dangled from their ropes.  Idra and Mojo were both attacked and suffered wounds, before being dropped off into the garden.  Once the stone statues had attacked they seemed to be focused on their sole prey and ignored the rest of the party.  Other party members were dropped off onto the ground and began moving towards the combat to help out Mojo.  Idra, being the furthest away, was left to his own devices.

The party fought hard but most of their attacks seemed to do little against the gargoyles' stone bodies.  The Feathergale Knights began casting Frost rays and throwing javelins down at the stone statues as the Idra and Mojo suffered from the gargoyles attentions.  Idra finally succumbed to the gargoyle that he was fighting just as Mojo finished his gargoyle of with a firebolt spell.  Once the gargoyle was brought down it collapsed in a mass of gravel and broken chunks of rock.  Turning to face the party, Idra's gargoyle dropped down and executed a professional WWW move, mushroom stamping Idra's forehead before flying towards the party rest of the party.

Idra's gargoyle ended up dropping Mojo before being smashed to bits by Merrick who had finally had a chance to bring his wrath into play.  Other actions of note was some ineffectual archery made by Axel and a failed inspiration roll by Milpot who had attempted to bring on a haka but instead thought of Hakuna Matata which seemed to sooth and calm the half-orc when he was trying to inspire himself to war.  Unfortunately, the hakuna matata became an ear worm and continued to echo in Milpot's head as combat finally came to an end.

The party used some of the other statues in the garden to block one of the doorways leading into the monastery to slow down any monks responding to the noise from the combat in the garden then proceeded to enter into the garden's most eastern doorway.  This led them onto a landing between two flights of stairs.  To the right the stairs led up into a large room, the left stair way continued down to a copper plated door. 

Kleckhain, having warn his cordoroys, forgot that his choice in attire was a detriment to his stealthing ability and so was surprised that when he brought his head up out of the stairwell.  He was met by two glowing orbs staring back at him from a desicated head that peered over the top of a work table.  Surprised and perplexed he stared at the undead figure as the creatures voice resonated throughout the room and stair well, "Leave my rooms, I have no part in your struggles."

Kleckhain hesitated and tried to get some information from the Chatty Cathy of an undead only to pick his nose and hack a loogie on the floor from a poor charisma roll.  Kleckhain seemed to feel that there was still some information to glean from this figure and so pulled up Milpot to aid him.  Unfortunately Milpot still had hakuna matata playing in his head and he also picked a nasty booger from his nose, snorting and hauking another fine loogie (making yet another poor charisma check) doing nothing to impress the undead figure who at that time was rising from his seat.  

The party left when the undead figure threatened to fill the room with poison gas.  They first stopped at the lower, copper plated door which had swollen and held firm  in the door jam and after a failed attempt by Kleckhain to push it open Milpot decided not to force it for fear of the noise it would make if a serious attempt was made.

We left the night with the party exiting back into the garden, looking at the stack of statues in front of the door that they were deliberating on entering…

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Respite and a Griffin Hunt

The party sat with Savra, a Feathergale knight, and went over what had happened in the Sacred Stone Monastery.  She admitted that she ordered scouts to patrol the area around the stronghold to keep an eye out for the party members and was given a message when one of the Feathergale knights spotted the group being led through the Dessarin Hills to the north.  There was some confusion as to why the party was being taken north but Savra seemed confident that any alliance that the priest, Qarbo, was trying to make with the Hill Giants had failed with the infighting that had taken place.

The Feathergale knights lost one of their own, a Sir Andre Rideford, and had another knight wounded, Henry Grosmont, when his vulture was struck from a thrown boulder.  Overall the rescue had cost the Feathergale Society two of their giant vultures, the wounded one having to be put down after the thrown boulder had broken Henry's mount's wing.

The party mentioned that the monks had several prisoners who were forced to tunnel seemingly random tunnels under the monastery.  They also mentioned that one of the Delegates from Mirabar, Bruldenthor, had been taken prisoner though very little about how or why was known.  This seemed to interest Thurl who claimed that many nobles in Waterdeep have interests in line with Mirabar's and any disruption in trade or business could effect not only the interests of the nobles, but lasting effects on trade in general.

While Thurl and the Feathergale Society dealt with the death of one of their knights, an option was offered to the players to reequip them from the Society's own stores, and perhaps repay the Society for the loss of two of their mounts.  A pair of griffins had been known to roost to the north within the canyon that is shared by the spire.  At this point in time, the griffins had likely laid eggs and griffin hatchlings, when properly raised and trained, proved to be excellent mounts.  Should the party find one or more eggs, then that would be a generous effort on the part of the party members to honor Andre's loss and that of the society's.  Having learned that griffins favored horse meat, the party turned to Idra, the only mounted member of the group, to bring along the bait in hopes of drawing the griffins to them.

Having caught a case of the Wednesdays, Kleckhain and Mojo opted to stay behind and rest up.  Kleckhain was feeling rough from the kicking he had received from the Hill Giant Goremuck and Mojo was a nervous wreck without his spellbook.  The rest of the party, with Axel in tow, set off to hunt down the griffins.

On their way, the party ran into a small pack of gnolls led by a female gnoll pack lord.  The party adapted fairly well to their newly acquired equipment and fought off the gnolls, allowing only one to escape sans tail.  Axel was beaten down during the fight, but that was nothing new for the party to contend with.  

The griffins spotted the party from afar and flew towards poor Peanut who now had a burlap sack over its head.  Combat was severe, dropping Axel again, and scarring Peanut with the massive claws from the griffin.  The party managed to take the griffin down and by use of the gnoll tail that Idra had claimed as a prize from the previous encounter, Peanut was coaxed to stay put and not flee from the rabidly hungry griffins.  

Post combat, Merrick ended up climbing up the cliff face with the use of a climbing kit and retrieved two griffin eggs from the griffin's nest.  

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