Average Freaks

Session 17

Return to Sacred Stone Monastery

Monastic Masquerade

Orlav starts to gather up a dead body, and Shump and Naïru help with the other two. Along the canyon walls, Orlav and Naïru find a spot to cover and hide the bodies with enough foliage and random debris. Fully dressed in their robes and masks, the gang enters the monastery into the kitchen. Orlav surveys the kitchen, finding the food to be simple and bland, and frankly not very good. He takes some of their spices, even though they’re stale, and removes the unfinished bread loaves from the oven to keep them from burning and creating smoke later. Exiting the kitchen south, the gang enters the Refectory. A single monk sits at a large wooden table picking at some cheese. He glances at the group for a moment, but keeps to himself as everyone crosses the large room and exits into the southwest hallway. Peeking into a room, the group finds two monks sleeping in a dormitory. Ka kills both monks as they sleep, covering them in their bed sheets. She searches the room and is disappointed to find that the Sacred Stone Monks appear to be ascetics and don’t collect individual treasure.

Skipping the next two rooms, the gang follows the hallway out to the monastery entrance hall to find two minotaurs and a monk guarding the front doors. Keeping their cool, the gang crosses the hall as Shump tips his mask and says “M’inotaurs.” Following the southeast hallway, the group passes several doors before finding a stairwell leading down. Following the stairs, the group enters the mine tunnels under the monastery. Opening the only door at the end of the tunnel, the group finds an ogre and three orcs. Shump utters a brief salutation, and the leader walks directly up to Shump, leans in, sniffs, then says in Orcish, “The pass sign!” Shump pauses before responding in common, “Look, I just came down here to let you know that they want you upstairs.” The orcs all draw their weapons.

Orogs and Ogres

Naïru is the first to react, marking the ogre as her quarry and putting two arrows into it. Ka follows her lead sinking an arrow of her own. Rowan hits as well hurling a mote of fire, and Orlav gets the kill conjuring sacred flames. Shump marks the lead orc as his quarry, then draws his longsword of life stealing, Delilah, and lands a strike on the leader. The leader retaliates with two swings of his greataxe, one of which slashes Shump. The lady orc hits Ka with her greataxe, but she dodges the brunt of the attack at the last second. The lady orc swings again at Shump, but misses. The third orc swings twice at Shump but can’t get past his armor.

Naïru marks the lady orc as her new quarry, then unleashes two arrows, one of which hits, before putting a third arrow just wide of the leader. Ka is unable to hit the lady orc with Wally, but she sinks reszur into the orc as she’s distracted. Rowan moves to the corner of the room and evokes a roaring line of flame that engulfs the leader and the third orc in fire. Shump fails to penetrate the leader’s armor, but takes down the lady orc with Delilah. The leader retaliates landing one of two sizable greataxe attacks on Shump. The third orc is unable to hit Shump or Orlav. Orlav pivots around and breathes lightning as the two remaining orcs sidestep some of the arcing.

Naïru marks the leader as her next quarry, then lands one of two arrows, in addition to putting a third into the other orc. The orc leader’s armor deflects Ka’s arrow. Rowan twins mote of fire, hurling one wide of the leader and the other directly into the other orc. Shump lands one of two Delilah strikes into the leader. The leader gets his revenge striking down Shump with two massive blows from his greataxe. However, as Shump drops a knee, he springs back up, barely standing on two feet. Orlav dodges the other orcs attacks, before putting a hand on Shump and curing some of his wounds. Naïru takes advantage of the situation, killing the leader before marking the other orc as her quarry and finishing him off.

The Haunted Crypt

Shump suspects the orcs may have actually been orogs, orcs that have been blessed with heightened intelligence from the orc goddess Luthic. Shump takes the leaders plate armor, and Orlav manages to piece together a set from the other two orcs. Searching the room, the group finds some a hidden coin purse, in addition to two keys on the leader. The group dumps the four bodies down the well, before taking the north exit out of the guardroom. After some time exploring the tunnels to the east and only finding several different dead ends, the group eventually returns to enter the room opposite the guardroom. Inside the barrel-vaulted chamber that is obviously an ancient crypt, they find niches along the walls holding dozens of old skeletons, some with scraps of burial cloth still clinging to their bones.

At the east end of the crypt stands a magnificent sarcophagus. As all but Naïru move closer into the room, six zombies creep out of the shadows. Shump moves up to the nearest zombie and strikes with Delilah, which then glows with radiant light that spreads through the zombie before it explodes. Another zombie moves up and tries to slam Shump, but he dodges giving Ka an opportunity to put an arrow in the zombie. Rowan mimes a longbow and releases a flash of light that explodes in ball of flame, burning down the four other zombies advancing on the group. Orlav evokes sacred flames on the last zombie, just as Naïru catches up to the group and puts the finishing arrow in it.

Examining the Sarcophagus

Shump attunes his divine senses and determines that most of the tombs and skeletons were consecrated, but the zombies were desecrated. In addition, the sarcophagus and something inside were consecrated. Inspecting closer, the lid of the sarcophagus is carved in the image of a noble human knight with a long white beard. An inscription carved across the front of the sarcophagus reads: “Here Lies Samular Caradoon, Defender of the North.” After lots of debate, the group decides not to open the sarcophagus, convinced it contains the lich Renwick. Trying the nearby door, Ka finds it is locked. Ka and Shump both attempt to pick the lock but fail. Orlav tries to smash it with his warhammer, but it doesn’t give. Taking her time and focusing, Ka tries again and manages to pick the lock.

The Lich’s Tower

Ka sneaks up the stairs to find an older part of the monastery which has been fitted out as a laboratory, with work tables covered in alchemical apparatuses and shelves full of strange curios and dusty clay jars. The windows have been bricked up, and cobwebs hang thick in the ceiling corners. An ancient figure peruses a heavy tome that lies open on a small desk, making notes on sheets of parchment covered in arcane writing. Ka greets the man, who turns around startled and says, “I have already told you no. Depart.” After Ka tries to get a few words in, the stranger interrupts her and says, “In a moment I will fill this room with deadly poisonous gas. You should leave now.” Ka attempts to charm the figure with her devil’s tongue, but unaffected, he says, “Did you really think that would work on me?”

From Ka’s perspective, as though there was a glitch in time, she finds the figure is no longer standing in front of her and the room is suddenly entirely full of poisonous, yellow-green fog. Meanwhile, downstairs in the crypt, a voice from the back of the room surprises the rest of the party, as the same ancient figure says “You may need to collect your friend in a moment.” Startled and turning around to face the man, Shump is fairly certain he looks like Renwick Caradoon’s painting from Summit Hall. Shump asks what happened to Ka, and the stranger says that he warned Hellenrae’s minion to leave him alone, but she didn’t listen, so he filled the room with poisonous gas. At this point, Ka runs back into the room and collapses, coughing furiously. Orlav leans down and assesses her condition and determines that there are no lingering effects. He uses his magical healing and helps Ka upright.

Naïru tells the stranger that Hellenrae is neither their friend nor master and that they can help make her disappear. The ancient figure asks why the party is wearing the silly robes and masks of the earth cult, and also admits he has no interest in Hellenrae or the Black Earth Cult as long as they don’t interrupt his studies. The group removes their masks and the man remarks on each adventurer, “Istishia, Tymora, a tiefling, an air genasi, and … is that dragon’s blood?” The figure questions the group on their purpose, to which Orlav explains their quest to restore balance to the elemental forces. Refocusing on Shump, the stranger questions the half-orc on Tymora and his divine nature. Shump proves himself to have pure motives for justice in the stand against evil.

The figure continues to focus on Shump, asking if he knows who he is. Shump beats around the bush but posits he may be Renwick Caradoon and a lich. When asked what he knows of liches and their nature, Shump again walks a fine line and says that he has been told liches are evil but doesn’t know for himself. The figure asks Shump if he therefore believes that Renwick Caradoon is evil, but Shump again says he needs to know the facts. After further questioning, Shump tells the man that actions define a person. The ancient figure asks what actions have defined Shump, and Orlav testifies on Shump’s behalf accounting for his accomplishments. Shump further argues that only Tymora can judge him and would judge him as good.

Renwick’s Favors

Introducing himself officially as Renwick Caradoon, the lich invites the party up to his laboratory, but not before reanimating his zombies and commanding them back into the niches of the crypt. Renwick provides Shump with an amulet of health, Orlav a potion of greater healing, Ka a scroll of invisibility, Rowan a scroll of Snilloc’s snowball swarm, and Naïru a potion of hill giant strength. Orlav asks Renwick about the lost body of the dwarven knight, which Renwick tells the group that the monks stashed the body in his brother’s tomb in the crypt downstairs after Renwick refused to help them reanimate the fallen hero. Renwick is grateful when Orlav offers to keep Renwick’s existence a secret from the Knights of Samular.

Princes of Elemental Evil

When asked about Hellenrae, Renwick tells the group that she spends most of her time training in the dojo and occasionally retires late at night in her living quarters, both of which are just outside in the hallway. A further line of questioning unveils Renwick’s knowledge of elemental evil: Some of the primordial powers of the elemental plane are tainted with true evil. The Princes of Elemental Evil are old and jealous elemental beings that despise the world of living things. Each of the princes is a unique elemental lord of terrible power, and each commands the loyalty of many lesser elementals that have likewise been corrupted by their evil—as well as mortal worshipers who likewise seek to scour the world with the wrath of the elements. The four princes most strongly associated with the cult of Elemental Evil are malicious embodiments of the four base elements.

  • Imix, Prince of Evil Fire
  • Ogrémoch, Prince of Evil Earth
  • Olhydra, Princess of Evil Water
  • Yan-C-Bin, Prince of Evil Air

The princes aren’t concerned with spreading wickedness among mortals or making any kind of order or philosophy dominant in the world. Their evil is blind, destructive, and hungry. They hate the way the world is made and the natural laws that constrain their favored elements. They resent the gods who shaped the world, and the mortals for whom the world was shaped, especially mortals who seek to impose their will on the elements. The princes unleash natural catastrophes at every opportunity, and gladly crush or devour mortals to assert their mastery over the world.

Sacred Stone Slaughter

After using Renwick’s personal quarters to rest, the group waits until the wee hours of the night to sneak into the Abbess’s chambers. Exiting the lich’s tower and following the pitch black corridors, the party moves as quietly as they can towards Hellenrae’s door. Ka cracks the door and tiptoes in just as her uncanny reflexes partially dodge a hand from her blind spot striking out. Ka turns to see Hellenrae step out from against the wall. The abbess’s gargoyle mask lacks any openings for eyesight. Ka tries to retaliate with her sharp instruments, but Hellenrae dodges and ducks with finesse.

The abbess lands a stunning blow against the tiefling with her knifehand strike, just as her other hand knocks Ka unconscious. Quick on her feat, Helenrae turns another strike against Naïru next up in the doorway. Rowan is the next to respond, hurling twinned motes of fire that burn through abbess’s robes and against the flesh beneath. Seeing his friend fall, Shump utters a vow of enmity against Hellenrae before striking her with Delilah. The paladin drives the longsword again towards Hellenrae, but the abbess steers the sword away from her with her left forearm, as her right hand strikes against his armor. Orlav attempts paralyzing magic but the abbess resists.

Naïru marks Hellenrae as her quarry, before landing two blows with her shortsword. As Ka begins to look worse on the ground, Hellenrae attempts strikes on Orlav and Naïru before landing a massive blow to Shump. Rowan nudges Naïru to the side extending her arm as a bolt of lightning shoots out from her open palm, but Hellenrae contorts her body just enough to evade the spell entirely. Shump attempts to cast a bane enchantment on Hellenrae but she resists the effects. Meanwhile, Orlav rushes to Ka’s side and bestows healing magic to bring her back to consciousness.

Naïru once again lashes out with her scimitars. Hellenrae dodges the first attack, then attempts to grab the second but Naïru is quicker and strikes the abbess, who then dodges the third lash. Ka jumps to her feet and swings with Wally and Reszur, landing the dagger. Hellenrae turns back on the tiefling as she removes and tosses her mask, revealing her clouded, milky eyes. The abbess’s knifehand strikes the rogue, who stumbles and dodges the next blow, but Hellenrae’s third crushing blow knocks Ka out again. Rowan evokes another line of lightning as the abbess is partially struck by the arc. Shump takes advantage of the distraction and smites down Hellenrae to the ground with two radiantly charged blows with his longsword. The half-orc drops to Ka’s side and brings her back to consciousness with his blessed touch.

Exploring the Monastery

As the group takes a moment to regroup, Orlav gives Ka a potion of greater healing. Shump pockets Hellenrae’s mask. Searching around the room, the group finds a large wooden chest by the desk containing coins plus stones wrapped in a swatch of cowhide. The group finds two more keys, one hanging by the door and one around Hellenrae’s neck. Both appear to be different form the two found on the orog leader. Determined to find more, Ka exercises extreme diligence and finds a single copper hidden in a crack between two floor stones. The group persuades Ka not to light Hellenrae’s body on fire and compromises on letting her decapitate the abbess instead.

Heading across the hall, the group finds a locked door matching the key found hanging in Hellenrae’s room. Inside, piles of firewood are stacked neatly against one wall of the room, and four large copper kettles stand in iron frames above iron fireboxes. Copper tubing in long coils leads from one kettle to the next. Several large wooden casks stand at the south end of the room, and shelves on the eastern wall hold scores of brown bottles sealed with red wax. As the rest of the party makes wild guesses as to the purpose of the room, Rowan laughs to herself recognizing it as a distillery. Eventually Shump catches on, testing a bottle and finding it to be strong but not very good brandy. The group takes twenty bottles to potentially sell elsewhere.

Insights into an Earth Prophet

The group explores the dojo next, but finds nothing of interest. The next unexplored room appears to be a scriptorium. Dusty tomes, stacks of parchment, and pots of ink clutter writing desks. Naïru takes a stack of parchment and pot of ink, and Rowan finds two scrolls that were set aside likely because the monks recognized them as magical and uncopyable. Over the course of an hour in the room, the group finds a trove of information. Tomes include academic texts on the elemental planes, holy texts that refer to earth deities or elemental powers (most quite obscure), and philosophical treatises on self-denial and nihilism as the response to a flawed and illogical world.

Wading through the banal “insights” and “secrets” that make up most of the texts here, the group discovers what appears to be the personal testament of someone named Marlos Urnrayle. From this text, they gather that Marlos Urnrayle is the Prophet of Earth. He was drawn to a place called “the Fane of the Eye” by powerful visions. There he found “Ironfang, the Holy Implement of Earth Power,” and took it for his own. Marlos established the Temple of Black Earth in the ruins of a long-abandoned dwarven stronghold that exists below the Sacred Stone Monastery. He nurtures something called the Black Geode, and when all is ready, “the Evergrowing Mountain shall come and remake these lands in his own image.”

Monastery Emancipation

The party decides to explore more of the tunnels below the monastery and starts with the unexplored door exiting west from the haunted crypt. In the next room, the group finds a large chamber with a row of sturdy iron bars and a sliding cage door walling off the western portion of the room. Behind the iron bars stands a monstrous creature that resembles a cross between a huge ape and a beetle. It has wicked mandibles, powerful claws, and four eye sockets— but two of its eyes have been put out, and its claws are bronze blades. The creature bellows and thrashes in rage, constantly testing the bars and clawing at the walls. Rowan believes the monster may be an umber hulk, a burrowing creature known to hypnotize its prey. She believes its injuries and modifications prevent it from burrowing or hypnotizing.

Exploring further, the group finds several dead ends and unfinished mine tunnels, but one of the tunnels leads to a localized cave-in partially obstructing a disused mine tunnel. Naïru squeezes through and explores, finding the tunnel continues for a quarter-mile before opening into a well-hidden spot in the surrounding hills. She returns to the group. Realizing dawn approaches, the gang speeds up their exploration of the mines. Bumping into a few duergar, the group keeps their cool and their masks and robes allow them to walk on by. The group eventually finds a passage leading to a gate made of iron bars that blocks the way, secured with a chain and padlock. Just beyond the gate, worn stone steps descend and turn left. This is no mine tunnel—the stonework is near-perfect despite its evident age. Ka tries the key that Hellenrae kept closest around her neck and finds it opens the gate. After winding three stories down a spiral stair, the group turns back, leaving the lower levels for another day.

On the opposite end of the mines, the group finds three cell-like rooms have been excavated from the rock. Iron bars wall off each one, with a chain and padlock securing a swinging gate. Inside, a number of prisoners huddle on miserable straw pallets. Counting seventeen commoners in all, most are human peasants, caravan drivers, merchants, or tribesfolk. However, one is the dwarven sage Bruldenthar, one of the missing members of the delegation from Mirabar. Once realizing the adventurer’s aren’t cultists, the prisoners, who have been working in the mines, beg for the characters to free them from their pens and lead them out of the monastery. Using the key stolen from the orog leader, Ka unlocks each of the slave pens. Naïru, Rowan, and Ka lead the prisoners out as Orlav and Shump fetch the body of the dwarven knight from the sarcophagus. Everyone exits out the hidden tunnels into the morning twilight. As the group gets their bearings, Orlav spots boar tracks leading north.

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