Tales of the Fortune's Favored

12 December 2009
Death and Dragons!

25th of Kythorn (continued)

Balthus teleports the four adventurers to Castle Dragonsbane and, exhausted from his ordeals in the Temple of Unknowable Horror, retires to the Bloody Stump. Shaffer and Dalnim take this opportunity to spar and touch up on their techniques while Saladin goes into Heliogabalus and indulges in as many vices as he can, reveling in the gift of life. Exhausted after the day’s activities, the four adventurers get some well-earned rest.

26th of Kythorn

The four adventurers awake in the early noon the next day, and ponder among themselves what their next course of action should be. Before they can reach a definitive conclusion, they are interrupted by a commotion in the streets. Panicking citizens and worried soldiers tell the heroes that a dragon has been sighted to the north along with a vast army that is headed for the city. The four heroes rush to the north city gate and see the monstrous Nightmare Army that marches on towards the city, but there is no sign of the dragon.

Balthus, Shaffer and Dalnim ride out towards the army and try to goad Illisuspirira the red dragon into showing herself. Balthus intimidates the horde of giants and goblinoids with his boasting and then rides back to the city walls. Then they see her: Illisuspiria, the Red Queen of Nightmares, swoops in and attacks the soldiers at the gate with a well-placed breath of fire. Balthus, Shaffer and Dalnim are safely tucked away beneath the gatehouse, but Saladin is caught in the blast. Fortunately, he has time to react and is able to shield himself from the blast with a quick bit of wizardry. He then hastily erects a wall of fire and a wall of force to slow down the advancing army, while the other three heroes prepare to teleport onto the dragon and take the fight to her.

Despite their valiant efforts, the three heroes fail to harm Illisuspiria in any significant way, but Saladin and Shaffer turn their attention to the Nightmare Army instead, weakening their forces significantly. The Red Queen recognizes Balthus as a descendant of her hated enemy Nathrepulisthis and sees fit to capture him alive for further torture later. Thanks to Dalnim’s meddling, Balthus is able to wriggle free from Illisuspiria’s grasp long enough to teleport to safety. Dalnim is flung halfway across the city and lands in one of the gardens of Castle Dragonsbane.

Around this time, Hector of Kratopolis, High Priest of Tyr, arrives with his army and engages with the Nightmare Army. With his help, Saladin and Shaffer are able to push back the monsters and break them off the battlefield. Balthus and Dalnim attempt to fool the enraged dragon into bringing most of the castle down upon her head, but she is simply too powerful to be stopped in such a manner.

With the Nightmare Army broken and scattered, Saladin and Shaffer move with Haste back to the castle to confront the dragon and save their friends. Hector and his contingent of elite guards follow suit. An epic and exhausting battle ensues, as Illisuspiria attempts to kidnap Balthus while the others strike at her armored hide to little avail. Finally, Balthus escapes the dragon’s grasp, but she spits a gout of flame on the four companions. Dalnim bravely gives his life to save that of Balthus from the fire and when a deadly claw rakes Saladin’s hide, Shaffer selflessly uses his Ring of Friend Shield to absorb the brunt of the damage and perishes from his wounds. This buys Saladin enough time to construct an Otiluke’s Resilient Sphere around himself and Balthus and save his life.

When Hector’s forces arrive to drive off the dragon, she vows revenge on Saladin and flies off, but not before destroying a significant portion of the city. King Gareth and his court finally emerge from the rubble, thank the two companions sincerely for their sacrifice and tend to their wounds. The two are put on a wagon and ridden out west towards Bloodstone Pass where the king hopes to rally his forces and turn back Illisuspiria’s tide of evil.

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5 December 2009
Benelisa the Archon. Zerakiel the Forgotten.

25th of Kythorn (continued)

On their way back from the Necrotic Cradle, the Fortune’s Favored are both frustrated and relieved to find that the tunnels have shifted during their previous battle, blocking their path to the surface, but also blocking the Babau horde’s pursuit. They find another tunnel that leads to another part of the Black Catacombs where they come across a badly injured Trumpet Archon. The Archon tells them her name is Benelisa and that she has been trapped in the Catacombs for the demons’ amusement since before the fall of Narfell. She asks that the four heroes retrieve her trumpet and help free her from her imprisonment. She tells them that her trumpet is kept in the tomb of Zerakiel the Forgotten, a long-dead wizard-king of Narfell.

The heroes quietly enter a courtyard outside of Zerakiel’s tomb and try to find a way to open the tomb without alerting the scores of Babau demons that patrol the catacombs. Balthus finds some inscriptions on a large demonic statue in the courtyard, but reads the wrong part first and is blasted with bolts of negative energy. Shaffer, enraged by his friend’s injury, attacks the statue and summarily cleaves it in twain. A loud bell rings out, the metal gate that leads out of the courtyard magically shuts itself and the tomb opens. Cold mist seeps out the crypt and the hideous lich-form of Zerakiel the Forgotten emerges from the darkness. A deadly battle erupts in the crypt, but the Fortune’s Favored manage to destroy the lich… for the time being.

With a spell of Detect Magic (courtesy of Saladin’s newly acquired Sorceror levels), the heroes track down the Archon’s trumpet and free it from its secret compartment (Shaffer smashed it open). Saladin reads a magical inscription that has been engraved into another statue inside the tomb, but makes the same mistake as Balthus and gets blasted with negative energy. Shaffer reacts by slicing the second statue into dust as well. Unfortunately, the blow destroys the statue and unleashes a torrent of eldritch energy that starts to engulf the tomb. The heroes beat a hasty retreat and Shaffer smashed the iron gates with Balthus’ sword.

The heroes make a beeline for Benelisa’s holding cell and return her trumpet to her. She uses the Trumpet to blast away the wards that held her in place and then uses it to help Balthus overcome the teleportation wards set around the Temple. The heroes teleport out of the Temple and emerge in a peaceful glen, about two days’ ride away from Heliogabalus. Benelisa’s condition improves drastically in the sun and fresh air and she offers the heroes her thanks.

She cures Shaffer’s Constitution drain, purifies everyone of the taint they had acquired from the Rawlinswood and the Temple, explains Methiel’s condition (he’s becoming a vampire and his soul is lost in the Abyss) and gives them a trumpet that allows them to summon her once should they need her.

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29 November 2009
Battle at the Necrotic Cradle. Saladin's Triumph.

25th of Kythorn

Having explored the upper levels of the Temple of Unknowable Horror, the Fortune’s Favored settle in for a few hours’ rest before venturing further into the Black Catacombs. The night passes without incident, though the heroes’ nerves are strained by the constant howls of anguish that echo from far below.

The four adventurers brave the depths of the Temple, carefully advancing down a spiral staircase that leads into an enormous underground chamber that holds a cemetery the size of a small town. Ornate crypts and mausoleums stretch out beyond the range of Saladin’s glowing orb, but the four companions find a large iron plaque that directs them to the Necrotic Cradle. They are swiftly waylaid by a trio of Vrock demons and the ensuing battle catches the attention of a horde of Babau demons that come charging after the Favored. Through sheer tenacity, the heroes overcome the Vrocks and Saladin hastily erects a Wall of Force that keeps the Babaus at bay.

The adventurers make their way quickly to a tunnel that leads to the Necrotic Cradle, passing a room marked as the “Chamber of Sight Unseeing” as well as a grim Portal to the Abyss. At the mouth of the Cradle, the Fortune’s Favored faced off against a Marut Inevitable and its band of undead adventurers. The four companions emerge victorious, but Shaffer’s constitution has been severely drained and all the heroes are badly injured.

Saladin uses the power of the Necrotic Cradle to bring himself back to life and emerges triumphant. He tries to use the Cradle’s power to resurrect Menethiel, but nothing seems to happen. The adventurers must find some other means to bring their fallen companion back from the dead. They turn back towards the tunnel, hoping to find a way back out of the Temple.

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22nd November, 2009
The Rawlinswood. The Temple of Unknowable Horror

24th of Kythorn

The Fortune’s Favored – now composed of Balthus Burlisk, Saladin Il’Muhaji, Shaffer Iben Thad and the newly assigned Dalnim Areoi – set out for the Necrotic Cradle. After having stocked up on provisions, the four teleport to the edge of the Rawlinswood, which has been transformed into a blighted, festering mire. They trek through the boggy forest for six hours, taking care to avoid any unwanted attention from its denizens.

As they make their way through the Rawlinswood, the adventurers see and feel the effects of the Rotting Man’s Blight all around them. Most of the trees are dead or dying and what little wild-life they encounter is twisted and warped into a sickly shadow of its former self.

After wandering aimlessly for about an hour and getting hopelessly lost, the adventurers come upon the Temple of Unknowable Horror, a massive cyclopean travesty of architecture, all black marble and obsidian. The adventurers enter the temple with a strong sense of dread in their hearts. On the upper levels of the temple, they run into a dozen fearsome demons driven mad by millenia of isolation. The heroes dispatch the demons with relative ease and steel themselves for the lurking terrors that await them in the lower levels.

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21st November, 2009
Opposing Authority. The Church of Grumbar.

23rd of Kythorn (Continued)

Having scoured the Beholder’s Lair for all manner of magical goods, the Fortune’s Favored make their way back up out of Strangler’s Hold (with a little help from Markur, the Ascendant Major’s Giant Eagle companion). They take the bodies of Menethiel and Galdrerd with them to the surface where Markur flies off with the Major back to their home for proper burial and the Fortune’s Favored head back to the remains of Summersend.

The Fortune’s Favored find that Snowdrift the Weather Wizard’s soul has been restored to his body, but that he can offer little aid in their war against Illisuspiria. He gives the Acorn of the Tree of Life back to Balthus and bids them to hurry back to Damara, where their presence is urgently needed.

The Fortune’s Favored use Balthus’ power to teleport back to Castle Dragonsbane, where they reacquaint themselves with some of the other members of the Fortune’s Favored. The reunion is somber when the adventurers reflect on the many people that have died recently. To further sour the mood, King Gareth (and especially Lord Vipur) is most displeased to hear that the Fortune’s Favored were not able to procure the services of Snowdrift the Weather Wizard. This news is exacerbated by the fact that the Damaran war effort has been significantly harmed and that Prince Gnyr Thunderfoot of the Thunderfoot Clan has been kidnapped by agents of Illisuspiria.

Lord Vipur proceeds to scold the Fortune’s Favored for what he perceives as incompetence and Saladin leaves the court in a huff of outrage. When given a chance to redeem themselves, the three adventurers delegate Prince Thunderfoot’s rescue mission to the other Fortune’s Favored, reasoning that the power within the Necrotic Cradle is of far more importance to the war effort.

On the night of their preparation before heading into the Rawlinswood, the Fortune’s Favored stay at the Bloody Stump, Balthus’ newly purchased tavern. On this night, the adventurers are interrupted by belligerent Clerics of Grumbar, who pressure Shaffer the Calishite into a strange ritual that he barely understands himself. By the end of the ritual, Shaffer has lost the Amulet of the Earthlord and has instead received His blessing. His sword-arm and falchion have both been transformed.

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4th June 2009
Vampire rematch. The Major. Xar'Zhul the Beholder.

23rd of Kythorn

After falling back to one of the guard towers of Strangler’s Hold, the party decides to rest up before venturing beyond the vampire crypt. During this time, a powerful cleric of Mystra Selûne, the Ascendant Major Galdrerd Wechir Barstont, arrives and introduces himself. He explains to Balthus that they are both descendants of the heroes that originally trapped Illisuspiria some one thousand years ago. With the Major’s addition, the party sets out again in search of Xar’Zhul the Beholder and Snowdrift’s trapped essence.

Once back in the vampire crypt, the adventurers find that the vampires have all returned, this time with a full force of freshly-created vampire spawn. A half-fiendish hobgoblin vampire reveals himself as the seventh, missing vampire who resurrected all the other vampires. Balthus is horrified to find that the horde of vampire spawn attacking them is all that is left of the villagers of Summersend.

Having dispatched the vampires, the party descends down a vertical shaft that takes them deep into the Beholder’s lair where Shaffer’s strength and Saladin’s Enlarge Person spell combine with a lava-floor trap to form a powerful anti-golem attack. The party finds Xar’Zhul the Beholder and a mighty battle ensues. Major Galdrerd is struck dead by one of the Beholder’s rays and Armistan is turned to stone by another. Shaffer manages to escape the Beholder’s Antimagic Field long enough to kill it.

Raiding the Beholder’s Lair, the adventurers uncover a vast treasure hoard and three large glass spheres that glow with energy, one red, one blue, one green. Saladin and Balthus deduce that one of these spheres contains Snowdrift’s trapped soul. They destroy two of them, the blue and the green, while taking the red one with them. The game had to end there, before the next step was decided.

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31st May 2009
Storming Strangler's Hold. The Death of Menethiel Windwhisper

22nd of Kythorn (Continued)

The party of adventurers decides to storm Strangler’s Hold and with the liberal use of fire, invisibilty and… more fire, they manage to wipe out most of the stronghold’s giant and goblinoid denizens. They then make their way down to a crypt full of vampires, one of them the newly-turned Fatty Happensap, one of Menethiel’s closest friends. A desperate battle ensues, in which Menethiel is felled by a vampire Frost Giant and then bitten by Fatty. The rest of the party emerge from the crypt with barely their souls intact. Rather than risk going further into the dungeon, the party retreats topside to regroup.

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15th May 2009
Back to Summersend

21st of Kythorn

After a night of revelry, the adventurers spend most of the day after in recovery. With intense research, Saladin is able to discern the Necrotic Cradle’s location and encourages his fellow adventurers to make that their next destination. Menethiel and Balthus insist that the village of Summersend is a bigger priority. Armistan and Shaffer remain neutral so Summersend wins out.

22nd of Kythorn

The adventurers seek an audience with King Gareth and, thanks to Menethiel’s diplomacy, are able to convince the king that helping Summersend will earn the allegiance of a powerful weather wizard. Lord Vipur expresses his doubts, but is cowed into silence by Armistan. The king also presents the adventurers with their very own squad of Griffon mounts. The whole group stocks up on gear and, knowing that time is of the essence, use Balthus’ teleportation spell to get to Summersend.

Once in Summersend, the adventurers find that the village has been raided and all of it’s people taken by hobgoblins to a fortress called Strangler’s Hold. Snowdrift is in some form of trance, his soul captured and held prisoner by a creature named Xar’Zhul, a beholder that dwells in Strangler’s Hold. The party sets out to free the prisoners.

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9th May 2009
The Party is Knighted, then the Knights Party.

20th of Kythorn (Summer Solstice)

The adventurers receive their knighthoods along with their rewards. Balthus gets the sword of Burlor, Menethiel gets the Cloak of the Nightwind, Shaffer gets a ring of Friend Shield and the Amulet of the Earthlord, Armistan gets the Rod of Redemption and Saladin gets the Headband of the Wilde One as well as a staff of Charming, the other ring of Friend Shield and a map that shows the way to the Necrotic Cradle.

In the festivities that follow, Balthus wastes no time in winning the women’s favor via a subtle blend of natural charm, magic and an attention-craving familiar. Unknown to him, he has also earned the ire of many noble-bachelors and the parents of virtuous women.

Menethiel is approached by Grep Wyldshot during the party, who reveals himself as an agent of King Irgen of Altumbel and invites Menethiel to meet the king after the war. Menethiel is then approached by Meela Nordwyn, who asks him to work as a spy for the Simbul of Aglarond. Later in the night, he is “kidnapped” by the Invisible Blades and put through a very painful, very humiliating and very fun initiation ritual.

Shaffer, a crude, earthy man, invites all comers to join him in a drinking contest, which he wins. Unfortunately, his suit of armor turns out to be a poor choice of wardrobe when his bladder needs emptying.

Saladin turns melancholy during the festival, as it only serves to remind him of how much he is missing, trapped as he is in his un-living form. He tries to study the map to the Necrotic Cradle as best he can, though the festivities distract him somewhat.

Armistan sits by himself for much of the party, a pariah among the snobbish and fearful upper-class of Damara. Menethiel sees this and invites Armistan to join him and Shaffer in their drinking contest. Armistan obliges, and half-heartedly takes second place in the contest, his unholy physiology rendering him practically immune to the alcohol he imbibes. As he retires for the night, Armistan is abducted by strange beings from beyond space and time and is transported to a bizarre nightmare-realm where he gains an understanding of things incomprehensible to mortal minds. He wakes up again the next morning in his chambers, something horrific and wonderful unlocked within him.

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17 April 2009
Knighthood in the works, tailor-made clothes, devastation of Summersend, a summoning ritual undone

Sixth Day of Kythorn:

The adventurers return to Castle Dragonsbane where their great deeds are celebrated. The King announces that for their valorous acts, they are to be knighted on the 20th of Kythorn during the summer solstice. The heroes are sent to have new clothes commissioned for them. When the seamstresses arrive, (all of them lovely, young women) the heroes, with Balthus’ noted exception, start acting rather awkward.

In the evening, the party attends dinner with the king and his royal family. They are introduced to Lady Nadina Evenscales, High Justiciar of Tyr and acting head of the church in Damara.

Eighth Day of Kythorn:

Menethiel reveals himself to the king as an agent of the Invisible Blades and attempts to convince the King that actual culprits in the assassination attempts are the Shadow Blades, bitter rivals of the Invisible Blades. He and Saladin show the king a glamored symbol of Shar on one of the daggers taken from the assassins. The king takes the matter into advisement.

Tenth Day of Kythorn:

The adventurers attend the execution of Lord Edmund Aitros, the King’s nephew responsible for the series of assassination attempts. It is a somber affair and rain follows for several days.

After the execution the party pays a visit to the dungeons to see General Yokulhart, the Frost Giant general they captured at Highgate. The general is in poor health, is unable to speak and can barely write his thoughts. Yokulhart is under a powerful Geas that prevents him from betraying any of his mistress’s secrets. The party, along with Lord Vipur Sturnstead and Sir Ander Pureshield argue over whether killing him is an act of mercy or if he even deserves such mercy. Before anyone can stop him, Shaffer unsheathes his sword and decapitates the prisoner. Everyone is stunned, but Lord Vipur is furious.

The party spends the next few days each doing their own thing. Some vague, otherworldly calling beckons Armistan to the castle library, where he spends much of his time. Menethiel goes to the Invisible Blades headquarters in the warehouse district to further his training. Balthus tests his new-found power of teleportation. Shaffer spends all his time on honing his skill with his blade. Saladin seeks out a merchant of magical goods.

Nineteenth Day of Kythorn:

Menethiel, Balthus and Saladin decide to take advantage of Balthus’ new teleportation power and go visit Summersend village. When they arrive, Summersend has been ravaged, its people hiding out in barricaded houses. Snowdrift the weather wizard is in his tower, casting a spell of warding to protect the village from further attacks. He asks Balthus to give him the Acorn from the Tree of Life, which Balthus does without question.

When the three return to Castle Dragonsbane, Shaffer has startling news: While out training in the Evergreen Forest, he witnessed several maroon-cloaked men preparing a summoning ritual of some kind. When confronted about it, the men pretended to be druids conducting a blessing ceremony of some kind. Shaffer encourages the rest of the party to investigate.

That night the adventurers arrive, interrupt the ritual in mid-casting and kill all the maroon-cloaked men. Unfortunately, the ritual is in full effect and something is coming through the summoning circle. With their combined magical expertise, Balthus, Saladin and Armistan manage to reverse the summoning before whatever is beyond the portal escapes.

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