Amon Kareth: The Vault of Death

Grimhilde Tower, Part 1: The Liberation of Ashenshire
A shadow falls over the party...

The Adventurers:

The evening of the wedding arrived, and with it the funeral of Lord Eric Netheridge. His apparent wife, Lady Katerina Netheridge (nee Victorson), lit the pyre, but Lucan emerged from the forest, confused and disoriented. He recounted a dream where he broke into a house, killed a rat-like creature and stole a gleaming pearl, but when the others noticed blood on his sword, they realized it was not a dream. Vexol admitted that when he vanished on the road to Crystalshore, he had a similar dream of fighting demons, and based on his description the group realized that Vexol had been the one to kill Adam Greylock. The group realizes that they had each been taken over by something, and used for evil. They remember stories of “shadows,” mysterious evil creatures who can control one’s actions. The group found the house that Lucan broke into, and the halfling he killed in his trance-like state. They discover that the halfling, Harreth Pipo, was an Avenger of the Order of Jasari, just like Lucan. They discover that Pipo was investigating the Harkin family, and tracing the timeline. They also discover a reference to a name – “Perek Alathon” – and a mythical location called the Valley of Summer.

The group resumes their quest to find Baroness Grimhilde and determine the mystery of Katerina’s apparent agelessness. They travel to the town of Ashenshire, a dwarven city built around a mine. They discover that Grimhilde has forced the citizens to cast out the gods, and appoint herself as the new deity. Enraged, the adventurers bang on the gate, but a guard, Praxana, directs them to a secret passage through the wall. They enter the city and she begins to tell them of the Baroness’ atrocities: closing the walls of Ashenshire, abducting the humans and experimenting on them, declaring herself as the only deity to be worshipped within the walls, and hiring wild men and cannibals and duergar to serve as her “Honor Guard”. The city is starving, as the dwarves struggle to work the mines and the farms and orchards, while the crops are poisoned by the magic leeching out of the Baroness’ tower in the Midnight Forest.

Vonin noticed a dwarf hanging in a cage in the town square, and freed him, drawing the guards out of the barracks. The group fought the guards in the town square and killed them, and the dwarf, Orobok, thanked them. He said he was imprisoned for trying to start a revolution. He and Praxana will fortify the city against further incursion from the guards, but he can offer help to the adventurers’ plan to attack the Baroness. He tells them who in the town they can trust… and who would sell them out.

Krakow visits the blacksmith, Morek, who gives him a rough map of the layout of the tower. Vexol and Lucan visit the priest, Arbos, who has been forced to serve the Baroness’ new religion. Arbos gives them the safest directions to the tower, and they speak with him about their dark experiences being controlled. Vonin and Ollennia approach an old miner, Glint, who has long ago given up on a revolution, but are able to convince him to give them a ritual, Passwall, which will allow them to sneak into the tower while avoiding the door.

The group visits the bartender, Fargrim, and threaten him and boast of their prowess, and their plan to attack the Baroness. They threaten to kill him if he tells anyone, but he sends a bird warning the tower to the coming attack… which the group was counting on. They follow the safe pass through the forest, and use the ritual to pass through the back wall of the tower and avoid the guards. They traveled up the stairs, and found a room where prisoners were tortured, and an incinerator to dispose of the bodies.

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Session 5 - The Wedding of Eric Netheridge
... and then everything went badly for everyone.

The Adventurers:

The morning of the wedding arrived, and the group prepared for battle. KraKow, Ollennia, and Vonin Jorn were once again flummoxed to find two of their companions, Donella Huba and Lucan had vanished during the night. However, they were pleased to find their ally Vexol Randinson had returned.

Eric Netheridge’s wedding to Katerina took place on the sea, as the fleet assembled off-shore. The group joined the bride and groom on the lead ship, along with a full regimen of soldiers. As the wedding began, it was interrupted as a Kraken attacked the ship. The group was able to fight off the Kraken, but things went from bad to worse when Cecelia arrived and charmed half the crew, including KraKow, into attacking Eric and Katerina. Eric was killed by one of his guards, and KraKow brought down the killing stroke on Katerina. KraKow awoke from the spell only to discover what he had done and fall to his knees in despair.

Once again, the party was able to fight Cecilia off, but the damage was done. The party began to mourn the fallen couple, killed before they could read their vows and be declared man and wife… when suddenly Katerina returned to life, her wounds healed. The party was baffled (except for KraKow, who of course believed it was the divine power of Kamanduul at work). But when they checked for arcane or divine energy around her, they were unable to determine the source of her miraculous resurrection…

As the group returned to shore, they realized that Katerina and Eric had never legally completed the marriage, and that the control of Crystalshore was uncertain. They elected to keep this a secret, and tell the town that the wedding had been completed, and that Katerina was in charge according to law.

The group resolved to track down Ravenna Grimhilde, the Baroness who had apparently held Katerina captive for over 19 years – and who may hold the answers to the mystery that surrounds Katerina…

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Session 4 - Arrival at Crystalshore
The hunt for the third key takes a turn...

The Adventurers:

The group awoke on the road to discover Ulrik and Vexol Randinson had vanished in the night, leaving the bag of holding and one of the transformed horses, but apparently having taken Ragnar with them. The remaining members, KraKow, Lucan, Ollennia, and Vonin Jorn resolved to continue to the city of Crystalshore, to find the third key.

Before they could go any further, though, Donella Huba reappeared out of thin air, followed closely by several large spiders and ettercaps.

The party made quick work of the creatures, and Donella told them that, when she had first disappeared from the group, she had found herself with another group of adventurers, fighting spiders and trying to locate a relic with them. Now that she was back with the group, they caught her up on what they had been up to, and she agreed to travel with them to Crystalshore.

When the party arrived, they discover the town is in full swing, preparing for a wedding scheduled the next day – the wedding of Lord Eric Netheridge. However, they quickly realize no one in the town seemed to be able to speak. One of the townsfolk drew a crude drawing of a woman with a monstrous face – Cecelia the Sea Devil, a local superstition of a demonic creature who encourages sailors to mutiny, and uses her kraken to wreak havoc across the sea.

The group made their way into the palace, where they meet Eric Netheridge, the last member of the Netheridge family, along with his butler Grimsby, and his Captain of the Guard and Personal Guard to Eric, Max. Here, the party learns that the Netheridge Key was stolen years before by a bandit. The bandit was shrouded, but Max was able to take 2 of his fingers – which have not aged or rotted in the years since Max cleaved them off. Eric introduced the party to his fiance – Katerina – and the group recognized her as the fiance of Adam Greylock.

Katerina told the group that she awoke in the castle and found it to be filled with horrible monsters, and ran into the hills. After several days, she was discovered by a man named Devereaux, who sold her into slavery. She served a ruthless Baroness, a sadistic woman named Ravenna Grimhilde. After a matter of months, she escaped, but remembers being lost in the forest, then waking on the shores of Netheridge’s palace six months ago. She had no idea that the day she fled from Castle Greylock was 20 years ago, which means there are 19 and 1/2 years missing from her life (not only does she have no memory to account for the missing time, but she appears to be no older than in the portrait Greylock had of her).

The group insisted Katerina come with them to Adam, telling her he is alive and transformed into a monster, and that they believe her kiss might have undone the curse. They were able to convince Eric to postpone the wedding when they point out that, on the night before his wedding to Katerina, Adam Greylock woke up a hideous monster, and they have no way of knowing if the same would not happen here.

The group, including Eric, Max, and Katerina, marched out to Castle Greylock, where they discover that an army has come through and slaughtered Greylock and his people. Dead orcs lay side-by-side with the creatures of the castle, and several lay around the body of Adam Greylock. Katerina kissed his lifeless corpse, but it was no use – he is a monster in death, as well as life. Outside, they were met once again by Isaac, who told them that Greylock was no longer any use to him. He wished Eric a happy wedding day, and rode away.

The group returned to Crystalshore to find several upset wedding guests (as the wedding has now been delayed several days) – but the preparations for the wedding resumed. As Eric hosted his guests in a feast, the party tried to discover why no one in the city could speak. They met the cleric of the palace, Carlotta, but she proved to be little more than a glorified astrologist. However, Grimsby told them he would meet them at midnight to tell them what he knew.

At midnight, Grimsby came to the group and brought them into the dungeons, where they discovered Katerina – who had apparently been down there for over a week. This Katerina claimed she had not seen who had imprisoned her. Grimsby had discovered her the day the other Katerina had left for Castle Greylock, and has since told no one, not knowing who could be trusted. The group brought Eric to the dungeon to see her, and to try to determine the truth. They brought the Katerinas together, and neither could prove their claim. However, Ollennia realized the Dungeon Katerina was glowing with dark magic – and when she called her out on it, the Dungeon Katerina dropped her disguise, and became Cecilia, the Sea Devil. Cecilia thanked Grimsby for his service, and he immediately threw himself out the tower window and fell to his death. Lucan swung at her, but his sword passed through her with no effect. She vanished, and an otherworldly shriek shook the stones of Crystalshore. All at once, the town regained the ability to speak, but it was clear a battle was coming…

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Session 3 - Castle Greylock
A new ally joins the team, and the plot to thickens...

The Adventurers:

New members:

The group soon made camp, and as KraKow, Son of KaThum, Ollennia, Ulrik, Vexol Randinson, and Vonin Jorn, The Wandering Blacksmith began to interrogate Ragnar the Prejudiced, they were soon joined by a new face: Lucan, an elf avenger of the Order of Jasari.

As the group tortured Ragnar, they learned that he served the mysterious Lord Khan, whom he had apparently never met, nor did he know what Khan’s plans truly were. Ragnar simply knew the next step was to attack Castle Greylock, where the second key was last seen. The Greylock line had apparently been ended when a vicious band of monsters had slaughtered the residents and taken the castle for their own, and ever since, local maiden girls would occasionally disappear from the nearby roads and villages. Ulrik used a flaming longsword to sever Ragnar’s arms and legs, and blinded him and stuffed him into their bag of holding, and made their way north to Castle Greylock.

As they neared the castle, they fought wolf-like creatures, and discovered a darkness had enveloped the forest, and the animals had been warped into monstrous forms as a result. They discovered the castle had a dark cloud spreading from it, a night that never ended. As the group entered, they found horrible beast-men, monsters dressed as servants. But the group realized these might have been the former residents, transformed just like the wolves had been. They met with the Creature of Castle Greylock, and discovered this was in fact Adam Greylock, the last surviving member of the Greylock line. Adam was a vain, arrogant man, but 20 years ago, on the eve of his wedding to a local village girl, he and his staff awoke to discover they had all been turned into monsters, and his bride-to-be was gone. He and his staff do not change back when they leave the castle, and anyone who enters is also transformed over time. Believing true love’s kiss to be the answer, Adam had taken to sending his men out to abduct local maidens, in the hopes one of them could break the spell. Thus far, they had failed to break the spell, and the women had only become monsters themselves, whom Greylock kept imprisoned in the castle, fearing what would happen if they escaped and told the world what he was doing.

Adam confirmed his family, along with the Corso, Netheridge, and Harkin families, had fought a vicious evil and its forces. The party convinced him to give them his family’s key for safekeeping. Once they had it, they sent a message to Lord Khan in Ragnar’s blood. Khan’s reply revealed he knew they were impostors, and asked to meet them in Redcrest, “where Arkin first hired you.” They realized Ragnar’s army must have told him what was happening. Adam gave them horses (also transformed by the spell), and they rode back to Redcrest.

The party returned to the Wet Dog, and KraKow, Ollennia, and Vexol met an emissary of Lord Khan: a tiefling named Isaac. He informed them that the keys were meant to unlock the Vault of Death, a prison for the enemy of the four families: Raxxus the Dread God of Death. Lord Khan’s forces worshipped death, and wish to bring the world of the dead to the material plane. Isaac revealed he himself had died and been brought back.

The party told Isaac that, if he destroyed Redcrest, the party would throw the keys into a river and they would be lost forever. However, they would also not hide the keys in Redcrest, as that would put the town in jeopardy. Isaac agreed, and Redcrest was spared from the army of orcs. Both groups (the party, and Isaac’s army) began the hunt for the next key. The party followed the trail of the third family, the Netheridges…

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Session 2 - Tomb of the Dragonslayer
New allies, new enemies...

The Adventurers:

New members:

Deep in the catacombs beneath the Shattered Temple, the doors to the Tomb of the Dragonslayer swung open… and Cassius Revell and Donella Huba vanished. KraKow, Ollennia, and Vexol Randinson were confused and concerned, as they were face-to-face with a room full of zombies and Thaddeus the belligerent necromancer. However, to their relief, they discovered two hostages of Thaddeus’ chained to statuary: Ulrik, the wild-card half-orc archer, and Vonin Jorn the dwarven fighter / wandering blacksmith.

With their help, the group was able to destroy the zombies and kill the necromancer. They found the diary they had been sent after (the Corso Diary). When they opened the sarcophagus of the Dragonslayer, they found the Corso Key, a magical artifact which Vonin takes possession of. They also find a Frost Longsword, which is given to Vexol, and a bag of holding, which is given to Ollennia (as well as additional gold).

While examining the diary, the group found references to an alliance between four families: the Corso family, the Greylock family, the Netheridge family, and the Harkin family. They also found references that these families had been working together against the machinations of an unnamed Enemy…

The group also found a letter among Thaddeus’ effects:

Thaddeus,

The diary is being moved. It is being taken to the town of Redcrest. Use your forces to steal the book, and then follow its directions to the First Scion, and retrieve the First Key.

Once you have the key, send a message by way of the usual method, and I will send an agent to help you prepare for the next phase.

The diary will be moved from Lear on the 8th day of this month. The wagon will have but 4 guards, and they will be unprepared for your might.

The day will soon be ours.

Lord Khan

The group finds a Bloodletter Scroll among Thaddeus’ belongings, and sends a simple message with Thaddeus’ blood: I have the key.
After a number of minutes, a message comes back:
The hills north of Redcrest. Three days. Find Ragnar. Once again, signed by the mysterious Khan… The group realizes this may be Ragnar the Prejudiced, a powerful orc warlord.

The group returns to Redcrest, where they return the diary (minus a few key pages) to Arkin. In light of the disappearance of Cassius and Donella, Arkin refuses to pay their shares to the rest of the group. Vonin goes to the blacksmith, Anna, and repairs his armor. Ulrik disappears for a time on a personal errand, and when he returns, his secrets begin to cause friction with the group. As they get supplies for their journey, they pay a visit to the local wizard, Jessup (who seems friendly, if somewhat addled). He sells them healing potions, but before they leave Ollennia has a private conversation with him.

The group makes for the hills, and finds a large orc encampment. The group waits until they have the cover of night and sleep, and pick off the orc guards, before abducting Ragnar in his sleep. They strip him naked, steal his Flaming GreatAxe (which is taken by KraKow), and sneak back towards Redcrest to find a private place to interrogate him.

As they leave the camp, Ulrik reveals his secret to the group: Ragnar killed Ulrik’s family and tribe – and, years later, his mentor.

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Session 1 - The Shattered Temple
A group of adventurers come together...

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In the town of Redcrest, in a tavern called the Wet Dog, a merchant named Arkin brings together a band of adventurers:

Arkin hires the group to find a strongbox for him, which was stolen by goblin raiders from a caravan coming into town. The group is able to negotiate with him, and determine that the strongbox contains a diary, connected to the Corso Family. The group realizes the last member of the Corso family was a warrior known as the Dragonslayer, who is buried to the south – in the same place the goblins are going.

The group follows the trail south, and along the way they talk amongst themselves, and begin to form their first impressions of the other members of this motley crew that has been brought together. They follow the trail to the Shattered Temple of Auburn Glen, where they come upon a band of goblin raiders. After a brutal battle, the group manages to vanquish the goblins, but leave one alive to question. This goblin, Kapp, provides them with a layout of the catacombs, where he tells them they will find a necromancer.

The group proceeds into the catacombs, where they fight more goblins and zombies. They enter another room, and the doors slam shut. There is a shelf in the wall with seven buttons all in a row, each button identical to the others. There are small vents on the wall by the floor. Next to the row of buttons, there is a sheet of paper with a riddle written on it:

I only want to help you
My neighbor wants you dead
His neighbor’s neighbor doesn’t kill
But knocks you out instead

His brother does the same thing
And is found at table’s end
But his neighbor turns you right to stone
So don’t think him a friend

His neighbor brings you blindness
And is two doors down from me
But the one between us doesn’t kill
Though you two might not agree

There’s another of our number
Who is to my right a ways
He turns your body inside out
And will surely end your days

So now you have your choices
Only I open this room
So will you find safe passage
Or will you find only doom?

The players are able to solve the riddle, and the doors swing open…

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