Chasing the Devil

10: Battle and Loss
  • The adventurers were tight in a hallway surrounded by devils in every direction.  
  • More and more imps kept coming while the party made short work of each wave. The waves kept coming, but weaker each time. First it was 5 from the right and left flanks of the party, then 4, 3, and finally 2.  Then none came at all.  Not much support came from the greater devils and Moloch himself thanks to the sleet storm spell by Prospero.
  • The imps dispatched, the greater devils were more of a threat.  Members of the party would occasionally fall, only to be revived by other members, eventually going through all the potions available.  The most dangerous of the minions was the doppelganger turning into a young dragon.  
  • After a great battle, finally there was only Moloch left. He cast several spells including a blur effect and speed. A greater battle ensued.  In the end Moloch was dispatched down to a lower level of hell, but not before the party was drained of resources, and a couple lay bleeding on the floor, and Grilmund beaten beyond the ability of any present to bring back. The rest of the fallen heroes were stablized by the standing members of the party.
  • The hall appeared deserted after the battle, but the party decided to find a safer location to wait for the portal to reopen.  They headed up the tower and found a small room with show pieces of armour and weapons, to which they helped themselves.  A section of the party, well, all but Cael, left the safety of the room to find some loot.  
  • They find a library. There are a few things free for the taking, but it looks like the good stuff is on locked shelves.  Emtree unlocks the first but missed the dart trap.  Thanks to a quick move, she dodged out of the way and avoided any repucussions.  Emtree unlocked the next shelf, but disarmed the trap this time. She pulled a few valuable books on the history of magic into the bag, while Prospero prevented her from taking any books on the theory of magic.  There was also an unmarked book.  Rapture was finally able to read the text, and took a wholloping to her brain. It's a book of golems, and Rapture wasn't powerful enough to work with it. 
  • Returning to the small sanctuary, they rest and wait for the portal.
  • The last few minutes, the party is discovered. A few members pass some shocks through the door, and so the devils on the other side start to break through.  The portal opened just in time, and the party escaped out of the fortress.
09: Topple and Pursuit
  • The guards departed, our party must decide how to proceed.  They decide to go up to rooftop to better evaluate how best to assault the throne room.
  • Turns out, the best way to assault the throne room is to attack the throne room itself.  Prospero will attack the buttresses, and some of the devil liquor they found in the basement will be used to make an explosive to rip the tower from the keep.  In the midst of making this plan, a horde of imps flying to the keep from one direction and three paladin knights on pegasus.  Thankfully the knights were closer than the imps.
  • With the assistance of the knights, who turn out to be clerics and paladins of Tir who decided a battle at the gates of Hell were not exciting enough, the plan is set in motion.  One of the knights assists with the bottom buttress, Emtree ropes down to set the bottles of liquor in the side of the tower, Prospero casts a few spells and Grilmund hammers at the top.  The tower creaks and groans but shifts only a little.
  • The group of flying devils arrive and a battle starts to rage.  A fierce battle rages, the fighting interupted by continued creaks and sharp cracks from the structurally unsafe tower.  The tower shifts a little.  Then it shifts a little more.  It tilts to one side, and like an immense tree, there is a sharp crumbling sound and the tower rotates and tears it self from the keep, ripping a great hole in the stone floor of the roof.
  • Up from the hole comes the sounds of argument.  There are more devils arguing about the fate of the party.  They start to climb, and a dozen or so devils climb through the new skylight, and once again battle rages on the rooftop, devils on one side, the party and the paladin knights on the other.  
  • Surviving the second assault, the party captures one minor devil who says Moloch and his entourage have escaped down the stair case on the other side of the torus-shaped room from where the throne room once stood.
  • The party forgot to lock the door to the throne room, and the entire entourage escaped the fall off the keep.
  • The devil is dispatched and the party gives chase followed by devils that stayed behind from the second assault, and from the lower floors.  The party manages to stay ahead of the pursuers, but then the ice devil they glimpsed in the throne room comes around the corner.  
  • One of Moloch's generals, the ice devil throws up a wall of ice preventing further descent down the stairs.  In a short but brutal fight, the party defeats the general and his minions, but Grilmund and others take significant damage.  
  • Breaking the ice wall, the party continues forward finding a place where the stairs have been broken opening up a hole into the next set of stairs below.  Cael and Emtree climb down, and Emtree slides ahead.  She spies a large group of devils including Moloch waiting for the party.  This is the remains of the group from the throne room, including the Succubus in chains off to the side.
  • When the rest of the party working their way down to the lower set of the stairs, Emtree reports back about what is waiting for them.  Emtree shares a potion of healing with Grilmund, and between the paladin knights and other resources, the party heals to a point ready to engage the enemy.
  • With few other options, the party struts around the corner to meet the mini army assembled in the hallway.  Citing the damage already done and how dangerous the party has proven to be, Cael, Rapture and others attempt to talk Moloch into releasing the town, but Moloch is having none of it.  The party doesn't have anything to offer that Moloch is interested in.
  • Prospero has an idea.  He messages Emtree, explaining that the stone she touched at the top of the keep captured her soul.  If Emtree offers her soul to Moloch, that might be enough to make a deal.
  • Emtree pushes forward through the group to talk to Moloch.  "I just want to get home.  I'm willing to offer you the soul in my body if you release the spell surrounding the town, and pull your armies back from the gate." 
  • Moloch accepts.  He orders two imps to place Emtree in chains, expecting nothing but acquienence.  Emtree declines.  The offer was for the soul in her body, but there was no soul in there.
  • Realizing his mistake, Moloch stamps at the floor in frustration, cursing all the way.  Calming slightly, he thinks over the terms of the deal, then orders his minions to slaughter the party.
08: Stairs, Barracks, and a Throne
  • Continuing up the stairs, the party reaches another obstruction in the stairway and are forced on to a floor.  They find a hallway leading across the keep to the interior wall.  The only trouble is that it's a hall way with lots of doors and sounds of occupation.
  • Creeping forward, Emtree peeks in the door just in time for a cambien to turn around and see her.  She darts forward and attacks.
  • The rest of the party move quickly to subdue him, and crowd into his chamber slamming the door behind them.  The battle didn't draw the attention of the rest of the guards in the hallway, but slamming the door did.
  • Rapture then implemented the plan the rest of the party was formulating before Emtree rushed forward.  Prospero created a set of wings for the Tiefling, and Rapture manages to convince the curious Cambiens down the hall that nothing was the matter.
  • With the guards taken care of, the party manages to get a short rest for the first time since entering the keep.  
  • Continuing on, the heroes continue to the inside wall of the keep, then continue to another corridor that leads back to a second set of stairs.  The party starts climbing.  
  • They finally reach the 17th floor, which is guarded by a small group of devils and Cambiens.  Trying to avoid the fight, they backtrack, and go around to another set of stairs, and climb back up to 17th floor, finding another group guards.  Something up there needs to be guarded.
  • Employing the same trick, Prospero gives Rapture some wings and Rapture bluffs most of the guards to follow her down the stairs where the party is waiting to ambush them.  The battle is short.
  • The party finally reaches the 20th floor.  It's a wide open expanse of a floor in a building shaped like a donut.  On the other side of the floor, the party finds a large door with a trap door to the roof, guarded by more imps.  With more illusions by Prospero and Emtree, Prospero and Rapture convince the imps to leave the guarding to them.  
  • Deciding it is finally time to check the stone from the succubus, Prospero dips it into some of the goblin blood.  The blood covers the stone briefly, then absorbs into the stone.  "Anyone bleeding?" he asks.  Emtree walks up, and wipes her hand on the stone.  A rush of cold overtakes her, and a wave of sickness passes.  There's a little wobble in her step but she quickly recovers and otherwise feels fine, though there's something missing.
  • Watching this, there's a flash of realization in Prospero's eyes, but he doesn't say anything.
  • The doors lead to a side tower hanging off the side of the keep.  Cael and Emtree climb up the ladder to roof, and peek in a window of the tower.  Inside, they see what looks like an Ice devil, more cambiens and imps, a grey entity in humanoid form, chain devils, and atop a raised throne, and small imp which could only be Moloch.
07: Breaching the Keep
  • Slipping in the door of Moloch's keep, Emtree and Cael discover a service area.  Imps are hurrying back and forth across the hallway to the right carrying dishes and left over food.  To the right there's a small break room with a few more imps.  
  • Slipping around the corner, Emtree destroys one of the locks, and locks the other door to the break room.  
  • She attempts to slip around the corner to the room on the right, but even an illusory barrel doesn't escape the notice of a passing imp.  The party rushes in, subdues the imp with little trouble and pulls it into what turns out to be a storage room.  A quick friends spell from the Succubus, and the imp tells the party that the army is away and there is a stair at the end of the hall that will take them to the top of the keep, where Molloch will be.
  • Slipping into the next room over, the party discovers a panty of sorts with a wall of devil liquor.
  • Lepton takes several cases of the lethal stuff, while most of the others take a few bottles.  
  • The party decides that the liquor will serve as a fantastic distraction.  They set the liquor on fire, then make for the stairs.
  • With Emtree leading the way, they make their way up the stairs. The distraction seems to be working, and the party meets very few on the way up.  They venture on to a floor when a group of guards starts rushing down the stairs, and meet a devil coming out of a side room.  Recalling the earlier episode with the Ettins, Emtree throws an image of Ettin porn in it's face while pushing the party back toward the stairs.  Prospero creates additional confusion by creating the sound of footsteps going the opposite way down the hall.
  • The party's luck hold for another set of floors, until the party meets a more devils about half way up the keep.  Turns out the party ran into a bone devil and some hench-devils.
  • Our heroes would have been able to defeat the one bone devil, but more kept showing up, forcing the party to run.  At the last minute the Succubus decides to stay behind, tossing a small red stone to Prospero.  
  • Free of the battle Cael takes the stone from Prospero aiming to get some answers.  Prospero doesn't take that too kindly and prepares to attack Cael to get the stone back.  
  • Not a moment passes, and Cael discovers the stone has disappeared.  Emtree took it from him, and returned the stone to Prospero.
05/06: Ways of Wrong and Right

The sessions in bullet points:

  • Guards at the mouth of the cave were Cambiens in service of Mollock
  • The party discovered a portal deeper in the cave that led to another cave of similar structure, but unknown if the cave was in Mollock's level of Hell or somwhere, anywhere else.
  • The party was immediately attacked by more Cambiens and Imps in waves.  Taking heavy damage, the party retreated as a Chain Devil appeared from around a corner.
  • Prospero dashed through the portal back to Shadowfell and continued running to the mouth of the cave, far from the party, but encountered no further resistance.
  • The party returned to town with Balusar carrying the dead Cambien as proof of the encounter.  They went to the temple of Tyr, Grilmand's order to convince them of the encounter.
  • While most of the party ran around town reporting in to various authorities, Prospero returned to the Library of Wee Jas.  After some discussion about a book she had given Propero, the head priestess reccomended that the "deal with the devil" the being from the other plane suggested be done with Mamon, one of Mollock's enemies, and that Prospero contact Mamon's messenger, Adrammalech, to make the deal.  
  • Prospero presented this option to the party, offering to make the deal personally so that the rest of the party wouldn't have to be sullied by contact.  
  • Stepping outside the town walls, Prospero summoned the devil as safely as could be expected, and after a few moments, was brought into the presence of Mamon.  
  • Mamon agrees to the deal with a strangely minimum of requirements (simply that he will help to kill Mollock) and gives Prospero a small box to open a portal to Mollock and promises one more boon when the party gets closer.
  • After lots of discussion in the party, an assault plan is agreed.  The Paladins of Rapture's order with attack the cave in the Shadowfell hopefully distracting the forces of Hell from the real assault the party will be making by using the artifact from Mamon.  They will open the portal near the evil obelisk at the center of town while the Paladins from Grilmand's order will stand guard at the portal to prevent an invasion at the center of town.  
  • The only thing left to do is to convince the two orders that the plan is viable and the best course of action.  After much debate, but less than it took for Grilmand and Rapture, the abbott agrees and also agrees to convince his counterpart in Rapture's order of the plan.
  • The party resupplies, rests and agrees to meet at dawn at the obelisk.  Not everyone gets the message, and there are a few stragglers, but everyone is eventually found and the party is ready by about 9am.
  • Prospero presses a finger to one side of the cube artifact and it expands into a fiery metal ring that opens onto a mountain ledge.  Some members of the party rush through, nearly falling off the edge and barely manage with a little help to not fall to the bottom.  
  • A shape appears flying through the air.  It turns out to be a Succubus, Mamon's second boon to the party.
  • The Succubus points out a narrow path that leads up the mountain telling the party that it leads to Mollock's hideout.  Emtree, likely being the best climber, volunteers to take lead up the path.  With a highly lucky series of events, multiple members of the party manage tie lines of rope between members of the party such that everyone is very secure, and should someone fall, everyone else will not also be pulled over the edge.
  • Not wanting to climb, Propero hitches a ride to a higher ledge on the Succubus to wait for everyone else to ascend.  
  • The first leg of the journey up the mountain is marked by a battle with a small group of imps and an Erinyes.  Emtree slipped out of the rope line as soon as the threat appeared, but the rest of the party (still minus Propero) had to fight tied together.  The Erinyes manages to knock out Lepton, but the efforts of the party both pull him back from death and from the edge of the path and the oblivion below.  
  • With the enemies defeated, the party continues to the next ledge to find an disappointed and embarrassed looking Prospero and a frustrated looking Succubus.  Neither will talk about what happened with they were alone. Together.  With no one watching.
  • After a short rest, the party continued up the mountain, this time with Prospero in the rope line.  The Succubus flying ahead to scout.  
  • After a short while the party sees a cloud of small creatures approaching quickly.  The Succubus flies out to meet them, but two swarms break through to meet the party at the ledge.  The party rushes forward to find a wider portion of the path for less danger of falling, and manages to fight off the pests.  The party is damaged, but not seriously injured.  
  • Finally reaching the top of the mountain, the party unties from each other at the base of a giant black building, and an imposing door.  They have reached the back door of Mollock's keep in exile.
04: Investigations

The hours pass, and night surrounds the obelisk and the heroes.  Ever cautious, Cael takes cover, but rest do not.  Guards on their nightly patrol find Propero, Emtree, Grilmand, Rapture, Balusar, and Lepton out past curfew.  Their charms failing, all are sent off to sleep the night in respective houses.  Returning in the morning Cael has nothing to report.  The obelisk was quiet all evening. Grilmand raises his voice.

"Let me talk to my order. They can send reinforcements" 

"I as well.  We will have more here to defend against this evil" Rapture responds.

Both return with a dozen of the finest warriors from their respective orders.  This action has caught the attention of the guard and the forces in the square are soon joined by a squad of the city guard.  With some fast words by Prospero, the captain allows the gathering, though tensions are on the rise.  Lepton, not wanting to waste the night had made some soup.  He industriously gathers more food and begins to set up a feeding area for the watching guard.

With the obelisk silent and currently watched by clerics, paladins, and the city guard, the party goes to investigate the church of Wee Jas and Vecna faction within.  Knocking on the door, an eye slit opens and then closes.  Eventually a female elf appears.  Prospero leads the questioning, and almost manages to talk the party into the building, but in a fit of magic, he releases a spell harmlessly into the air.  This is enough to convince the elf that these adventurers are too dangerous to be let into the temple.  She goes inside and brings out a couple others of the order.  The elf's companions appear to be honest and true, but the elf herself is a different story.  Prospero does not question her directly about Vecna, but it does appear that the elf knows more than she is letting on, to the point that she is directly involved with all the trouble with Shadowfell.  

With minimal additional factual information from that interview, Propero suggests the party also talk to the head of his order, Baldus, to discover more information.  He has little, though his order is preparing a delaying spell to give the town more time before the blight encloses the town.  He does give the party a scroll of Contact Other Plane, and tells them it will give them answers.  The scroll will be best used in the Shadowfell, so the party leaves town to blight surrounding the town.  All party members make it through the barrier.  After some preparation, Propero casts the spell, the scroll dissolves, and he enters a trance with questions on his mind.  Who is responsible for casting the spell?  Where do we have to go to dispell it? What do we have to do to end the blight? Is the obelisk important?

The answers come back.  Mollock.  Go to Hell.  Kill Mollock.  Propero asks a new question.  What is the most important thing we need to help us on this quest? Make a Deal with the Devil.  Propero asks a fifth question, but the party does not ask him to reveal it.  

"Who is Mollock?" Someone asks.

Propero responds. "He was the ruler of the sixth level of Hell until he was slain and deposed many years ago.  Devils have a way of coming back, though, and it appears he is trying to regain a domain."

A flash of light passes through Grilmand's eyes.  "We already know how to get to hell.  The cave of the basilisk."

Eyes widen around the circle as the party realizes the truth in this.  The day is getting on, though, and the party decides to take one more night in town and set off in the morning.  After checking in at the obelisk, the differing groups have managed to keep the peace between themselves for the day, and the crowd of civilians that had started to gather earlier in the day has dispersed after getting bored waiting for the rumors of a tournament came to nothing.  

The day finishes with Grilmand, Prospero, and Rapture asking their respective orders for material assistance for this quest.  Grilmand is given a Potion of Frost Giant Strength, Propero an Iuon Stone of Reserve, and Rapture a set of magical Plate Armour.  

The next morning, the group sets out, passing through the barrier and makes their way to the cave of the Basilisk.  They find two heavily armored devil guards with wings. The one on the right  with red skin, and the other a greyer tone.  Emtree moves to sneak around above the mouth of the cave to surprise the guards while the party waits at the tree line more than 100 feet away.  

Entree manages to make it all the way to the top of the cave before a branch snaps under her feet.  The guards whirl around to see the halfling creeping along the top.  Seeing her discovered. the party rushes forward, Cael sending an arrow to the grey.  Meanwhile Emtree leaps from the rock wall, daggers flashing and buries one in the shoulder of red.  Fighting back he strikes at her, while grey flies to meet the heroes now rushing from the tree line.  Grilmand compels grey for a duel, and the two meet halfway to the forest, with Grey fighting Rapture, Balusar, and Propero all at once.  Emtree gets in another stab with her dagger then backs away from the cave followed closely by Red.  Lepton rushes to her aid striking at the guard.  Using his distraction, Emtree stabs her rapier in between the plates of his armour giving a deep wound.  Red takes to the air away from the monk and rogue heading to the cave before being ensnared by Cael's arrow.  Caught in the net he crashes to the ground, bleeding.  Grey, attacked from all sides shakes off Grilmand's command, and also heads to the cave, but is pulled from the air by Lepton, and quickly knocked out by the rest of the party.  Emtree pursues Red to cave, but finds the fall had already finished what she started.  

Breathless, the party gathers around the unconscious form of the the Grey devil guard.  It appears they came to the right place.

03: Marital Law

From the hospital, Rapture, Grilmund, Prospero, Balusar and Leton are awoken early by bells ringing through the city.  The Council of Archons have sent out riders to collect the dwellers of Cair Marin to the Town Square for a second day in a row.  The Polemarch has instituted martial law.  After the affair with the Basilisk and the attack of imps the previous day, all able-bodied citizens are ordered to assist in the defense of the town.  Having been so involved in the fights from the previous day, all five volunteer to assist.  

As the guard captain begins to organize, Cael approaches escorted by two of the city guard with news.  

"I have news from beyond the walls, but feel it is better discussed in private."  The captain escorts Cael into the meeting chamber.  

"Archons.  I have been camping outside the city walls for some time now.  I was part of the party that fought and killed the basilisk.  After the events of yesterday, I thought it prudent to make a inspection of the country side this morning.  I have found, what seems to be at any rate, a circle enclosing the town of blighted ground.  It appears continuous, and a steady 20' deep across it's length.  It's too even to be a natural occurrence.  I must ask you, what is it that this town has done?"

At these words, some of the council shift in their seat, some speak out indignantly, everyone is generally uncomfortable.  The Archon Basilius speaks up.

"We do not know.  If we did, then do you not think we take some action?"

Cael notices that there is some hesitation, and there is, despite the united front presented by the council, there is dissent.  Some fear remains unspoken by certain council members toward other members, but the exact factions are not clear.  

"Fine.  I see you have been organizing a militia of sorts.  I propose to take a few useful individuals and investigate this blight further," Cael responds.  The Archons quickly assent with the condition of including two of the best from the town guard.

With most of the town still gathered outside of the town hall, Cael quickly finds and recruits Leton, Rapture, Grilmund, Balusar, and Prospero.  He tells them to get ready to investigate this blighted land, and meet by the side gate.  

"I've got one more thing to do before we set out."

Emtree, meanwhile, is awoken early at her room in the inn with everyone else by the town criers riding down the streets calling for a town meeting.  She goes to hear the same message as the group from the hospital, but instead decides to spend a little of her haul from the previous day getting better fighting gear.  Cair Marin hadn't been dangerous until yesterday, but now it seems it would be good to be better prepared.  She manages to trade for everything she needs by selling her old gear and the leftover basilisk eye.  That done, she falls back into a little pickpocketing, but gets caught by the town guard.  Cael intercepts them.

"Hold there!" Cael yells. "You need to release the halfling.  The Archons have charged me with defending the city, and I need her."

"She was caught pickpocketing.  She is going to jail," the guard responds. 

"You must release her now.  She will return what she took." The halfling looks up, glaring at Cael. Cael produces an order from the Archons to defend to the city. "You must release her, I need her."

With the authority of the town council behind him, the guards reiterate that she must return the goods, but release her to Cael's custody.

"What is it you want?" Emtree asks.

"I am leading a group to look at a blight that has encircled the city.  It's mostly the basilisk hunting party.  I think there is something going on with the council of Archons, I want you to find out what it is.  I say you can pick pocket all you want while you're doing that, just don't get caught. Otherwise, I will give you back to the guards and you can sit in jail."

"Fine.  I'm not giving back the money though." She says and strides off to the town hall.

Cael watches, then also strides off, in the opposite direction to meet the investigation party.  The six exit the gate along with two from the town guard, Brouwie and Gachen.  Upon reaching the blighted ground, it appears to have expanded to a 30' ring.  There seems to be a barrier enclosing the blighted ground, though not an impenetrable one.  With the talents of the Dwarf, Grilmund, and the Tiefling, Rapture, the space appears to be a manifestation of the realm of Shadowfell, an ethereal plane of evil and darkness.  With nothing else for it, Grilmund, Rapture, Leton, Balusar, and Cael cross the barrier into Shadowfell.

They are quickly spotted by two displacer beasts.  After a brief but brutal battle, Leton is knocked unconscious, and the beasts are defeated.  There seems to be no escape and no answers as to the cause of the breach.  The party exits the breach toward town to discover it is yet bigger, and more frighteningly, it is expanding slowly toward the town walls.  After Leton is restored the party sets off back to town to update the Archons.  

After a failed first attempt to gain access to the Archon's chambers, Emtree talks her way into a private meeting with the Archon Basilius and the Archon Eponymous, but discovers little beyond the information Cael managed to extract from his interview.  The only important piece of information was that while the Archons had tried to contact the King for help with the Basilisk, they had not heard anything back.  The most probably reason for this, was that the messengers had been waylaid on the way there or on the way back.  Waiting the town square for Cael to return, she observes nothing more than the normal official comings and goings during a town crisis.  Dipping into her criminal connections Emtree does ask for a meeting with the local Thieves Guild.  

Cael and the rest return meeting Emtree at the center of the square.  After a brief review of the little Emtree discovered in her interview, a quiet female half-elf with a subtlety dangerous aura sits next to them.

"You rang?"

Emtree turns to her other side. "Cael, take a walk." Cael stands and enters the Town hall to brief the Archons about the battle.  He reiterates that there is something rotten in town.  Furthermore, according to the orders of Sorcerers residing in the town, this type of attack could only be caused by someone or something inside the town.  If that could be discovered and destroyed, the town would likely be saved.  The Paladins and Sorcerers are preparing defenses, but those defenses will only be effective for a short time unless the root problem is taken care of.  Cael promises that he will do everything he can to save the town.

Back outside, Cael finds Emtree sitting alone where he left her.  

"Well, there are some interesting things we didn't know about before.  There seems to be a church of Wee Jas, the neutral goddess of Death and Knowledge.  The church itself is harmless, but a couple factions have risen up within the ranks that are less so.  There is a faction of Tharizdun, the god of eternal darkness and of Vecna the god of evil secrets.  My contact suggested they might be involved.  Most of the criminal activity has been normal, but there seems to be a slight uptick over the past month in the humanoid trafficking.  There is also a rumor that one of the Archons, don't know which, has been bought.  There have been some unusual ruling recently; tariffs that seems to benefit a particular business venture more than normal, land grants to unusual owners, that sort of thing."

"This martial law business strikes me as strange, I feel like the Polemarch might be the one bought," Cael replies. "He triggers the threat, declares martial law with the support of the council, and suddenly is flush with power." Cael stands.  "Look, the circle of blight is expanding inward toward the town, and we think that the where ever the center of the circle is where we will find the person or thing causing this.  We think the center of the circle and the center of town is the same location.  Let's go join our comrades." He strides off toward the large obelisk that sits at the center of the town.

"They're not my friends," Emtree says under her breath following after the elf.

They meet the rest of the party at the obelisk, but discover neither secret doors or anything unusual.

02: A Fight for Dinner

After the events of the day, what with killing the basilisk and discovering a devil under the hills outside of Cair Marin, our heroes were a little spent.  Rapture, the Tiefling Cleric wanted very much to sleep and regain his fortitude, others were more wary of spending the night outside the home of a known threat.  Most everyone else decided there was more comfort to be found in town then out amongst the grass and trees.  The wood darkened with the end of the day, threatening to spew forth some other fowl beast for the party to tackle, but it was kind today revealing nothing more than the normal fauna until the town was almost in sight.  In the woods, off the path, not half an hour's walk from town, the smell of blood mixed with the smells of the evening meal.

It was Prospero, the Half-Elf Sorcerer who noticed it.  A man had been savagely attacked.  Multiple claw marks raked his body. The ground around him was mashed down with the violence of the struggle, even the tree branches above were bent and broken, and the spot itself was open to the sky.  It was no animal that did this looking for it's next meal, almost as if the kill itself was the point.  The poor man had died some 2-4 hours before.  

Ever respectful of the dead, Rapture decided the body must be buried.  Gilmund, the Paladin Dwarf, and Leton, the Human Monk, agreed, and started to dig.  Leton was, unfortunately, not much help, but gathering their strength, Rapture and Gilmund made short work of the burial.  Having no such compulsion, Emtree, the Halfling Rogue, Cael, the Elf Ranger, and Balusar, the Dragonborn Warlock, parted ways, continuing the hike to town.  

For reasons of his own, Prospero stayed with the burial party, was but was not of it, as his passions lay in chasing butterflies.  His gaze skyward after the latest shiny wing, something strange in the distance caught his eye.  A large cloud of something was dark across the sunset sky.  It moved and pulsed like a flock of birds, but it was not any type of bird he knew.  Rushing to the fresh grave, he exclaimed to his friends, pointing toward the now closer cloud of things.

"Not Bird!"

"Knot Bird?" they responded.

"Not Bird!"

Meanwhile, reaching the town, the party of three discovered that the gates were shut.  Reaching into her bag, Emtree pulled out the Basilisk fang, and held it as high as she could, a full four and half feet in the air, continued to walk toward the gate. Balusar and Cael rushed forward.

"What are you doing? We have to do this differently!" Balusar said as he pushed her arm down.  Emtree slowly put the fang back in her bag with a little cock of her head.  Balusar turned away, striding off with Cael.  He didn't notice little Emtree relieving him of all his gold and his two daggers.  Together, they approached the gate, shouting up to the guards to let the Elf, the Dragonborn, and the Halfling into the city.  After a brief exchange to establish identities, the guards wanted some proof that the basilisk had been killed.  Forgoing the clean lines of the fang, Emtree produced instead a slimy eye for inspection giving it a little squeeze as she handed it off to Balusar.  This satisfied the guards, and the proper authority distributed a prize of 100 gp each to Balusar, Emtree, and Cael.  Emtree took this opportunity to relieve Balusar of his money again.  The job finished, Emtree and Cael retired to the inn and camp respectively.  

(I don't remember where Balusar went. To the wizard tower?)

The rest of the party finally makes it to the open city gates.  Recognizing the rest of the party, the guards guide the newcomers to the town hall.  Gilmund raises the head of the basilisk, eyeless and fangless, above his head and parades through the main street.  After receiving the prize money, the group runs into Balusar in the main square.  Leton, the Monk, asks Balusar about the "not birds".  Balusar looks at the still approaching cloud, but now can make out that it is a large flock of imps.  After a consultation with his order, the alarm goes out Rapture and party split up to man the gates and defend the city.  Rapture and Leton head to a side gate while Gilmund and Prospero head to the main gate.  Balusar climbs the wizard's tower, to overlook the battle field but doesn't end up seeing very much.  

The bells ring out across the city.  In a quieter part of town Emtree hears the bells, pokes her head out the window, but with nothing to see shuts it tight, retreating back to her room.  Out the side gate, the bells ring faintly across the plain to reach Cael's ears.  He slumps his shoulders, wondering what trouble they've gotten themselves into now. He turns and trots back to the gate to find it closed behind him as 24 imps arrive and start to land.  With nothing else to do, he starts to pick them from out of the air.

Inside, the battle starts to rage.  Our heroes, aided by the city guard hold their own, mostly.  Rapture amplifies his voice and manages to scare away one imp, but is eventually knocked unconscious.  Hearing the sounds of battle, Emtree also arrives at the side gate, firing arrows to aid the defenders.  

At the other end of the city, Leton and Gilmund fare about the same.  Gilmund is the first to go down under the onslaught, but is saved by a medic attached to the city guard.  Leton tries to assist, but he too is knocked out.  Coming from the Wizard's tower, Balusar attacks at range with fire and arcane energy killing imps.  His aim is not perfect, and in the process kills at least one guard who was too close to a imps, and in a critical misjudgment kills the medic just as he was about the help Leton.  Not immune to damage, Balusar also earns the wrath of some of the imps.  

The battle is won.  Many guards fall, as do most of the 48 imps at the two gates.  Cael tries to climb the gate to assist in the clean up, but sadly only makes it up about 10 feet before falling straight onto his back.  Well, he tried.  Cael stands up, dusts off his pride, and starts his walk back to his camp outside of the city walls to rest and heal.

Rapture, Gilmund, Leton, and Prospero are carried to the guard hospital, followed by a limping Balusar.  They will get the care they need after a very long day fighting Ettins, a Basilisk, a Devil, and a horde of imps.  

After confirming all is well, Emtree walks back to her room at the inn, flush with profits and the excitement of the day, having survived without a scratch.

01: The Thing in the Hills

Seems the town of Cain Marin has a problem.  There were some strange going ons out in the forest surrounding.  People were turning up as stone, or disappearing.  Only one thing to do, draw lots to go investigate.  One, a Half-elf Sorcerer, was the first to draw, and the first to be volunteered with the black ball.  Slowly, of the roughly 5,000 inhabitants of the city, others were chosen.  A Dwarf Paladin, an Elf Ranger, a Tiefling Cleric, a Human Monk, an old drunkard, and 2 other useless folk of no consequence.  

One of the last was a young Halfling Rogue.  At first, it seemed she hadn't been picked after all, presenting a white ball to the guards.  No word yet on why the guards were not drafted into investigated missing persons.  Upon inspection, though, the guards noticed that a ball had gone missing.  They pursued several, and it was discovered that the young Halfing had palmed the final black ball.  She was drafted and joined the others.  Just before the group left the front gate, the Halfling managed to slip away from the guards, but she was pursued by guards and a couple of the party, including the Ranger.  She talked her way past the guard, but not the Ranger.  The Ranger returned the Halfling to the party carrying her by the scruff of the neck.

The town fathers had given the Half-Elf a rough map to the site of the events, but with the Ranger's knowledge of the surrounding area, it was quickly clarified, and the party set off in the correct direction.  Climbing into the forest, some started to noticed that something was "off".  The trip was far from uneventful, however, when the party ran into a pair of Ettins living just off the path.  

The Cleric, Monk, and Paladin took on one of the Ettins, while the Sorcerer and the Rogue ended up taking on the other while the Ranger fired at a distance.  The Sorcerer didn't do much damage, choosing instead to take the form of a female Ettin to distract the giant.  There was an ill-advised gambit from the Rogue to convince the Ettin to flirt back, but not speaking any language that the Ettin could understand made that rather useless.  The confused Ettin was additionally subjected to Ettin erotic imagery as the Rogue and Ranger wore down his body, eventually defeating him.

The other Ettin managed to do a little more damage before being subdued, mostly through the efforts of the Monk, who scored several high damage strikes including some critical hits before being knocked unconscious himself.  The Cleric and the Paladin finished off the enraged Ettin.  The entire party survived, though most of the party had suffered damage, some greater than others.  The cleric was most helpful in healing what a short rest could not. The drunkard and the 2 useless persons proved their title.  The Ranger and the Cleric had a bit of a debate as to whether they should be left behind, but the Cleric's morals allowed them to stay with the party.

Arriving at the crest of hill, the party discovered one stone person broken, and another laying on the ground, surrounded by blighted ground.  The party proceeded to the opening of a cave surrounded by more blighted ground.  The party at this point was pretty sure that a basilisk lurked in the cave.  The Ranger and the Paladin set bear traps outside the cave entrance, then the Cleric fired flaming arrows into the cave to draw the beast out.  It worked.  The basilisk emerged, and got caught up in one of the two traps.  The entire party started attacking from all sides, but the Basilisk was tough, and everyone kept missing, or doing only a little bit of damage on a hit.  A voice started speaking from deeper in the cave in Inferno.  A barbed devil emerged.  The Cleric charged followed by the Monk, and soon a second furious battle started. The basilisk pulled the trap free from the ground and started to drag the trap, a tree and the fight into the cave.  The Dwarf charged the creature and critical failure hits notwithstanding, pinned the creature against the wall, fended off at least 3 bites, and took multiple attacks allowing the others to do more damage.  As put by the Ranger after the battle, the Dwarf was the "critical miss master", but the Dwarf asserts his ability to "TANK LIKEBOSS".

Meanwhile the Tiefling and the Monk struggled with the Devil, desperately trying to not be drawn too far into the cave, and fighting with all their might.  Both ended up grappled at different points, taking cuts from the barbs on the devil's arms.  The two finally escaped the Devil's grasp, and made a dash for the cave exit.  They turned the corner in the cave to find the Paladin Dwarf had been knocked unconscious by the constant attacks of the basilisk, and the Halfling's arrow bringing the fight with the basilisk to an end.  The Halfling collected both basilisk eyes and one of the fangs.  The Drow kept the other fang, and the the head of the basilisk was cut off.  Deeper in the cave, fading away, the Devil could be heard cursing the party that killed his pet.


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