Session 04 30 10

Seeing as how the warren was cleared, the PCs made their way back to their boat.
"So, I assume you all will be accompanying us on our little quest," said the tiefling wizard. "Let me be the first to say; 'watch your back around the shadar-kai, his arrows have been known to find the wrong targets, if you know what I mean."
A rude gesture flashed from the shadows, though no-one was perceptive enough to see it.

The group reached the boat and immediately noticed someone standing on the prow. As they cautiously approached they recognized him as Maercus of the Masks, their "employer".
"It is good to see you four, and your new acquaintances. It seems you've all gone through quite an ordeal. Its changed you all quite viscerally. Not a human left amongst you, aside from Starweaver Nathaniel here. Allow me to introduce myself to the newcomers; Maercus of the Masks, head of the Thayan Merchants' Collective. If it is not blatantly apparent, I am indeed a Red Wizard." Maercus hefted a pack from behind him and began rooting around in it. "I come with information; The next area that requires your attention is a monastery dedicated to Shar. It shouldn't be fa…"

"It shouldn't be far from the shadow version of the Lost Refuge where we entered the Plane of Shadow. We'll then need to proceed to the Rift, where we'll most likely find Despayr, the black dragon, and his minions. Is that all, old man?" interrupted the spell-thief.

"Well, yes. It seems you are rather more well informed than I had thought. Ah-well, the trip was not a waste. I do have other business with you fellows." said the archmage.

Silas ignored the big-winded mage and hopped aboard the boat while the rest of the group waited to see what the archmage had in the bag.

"Master,"said the tiefling, bowing with respect, "I am sorry, the Karse Stone has… changed. I'm not sure how or why, but it appears that it is still magical." Nimmik presented the stone and handed it to his master.

Maercus held the stone for a moment and concentrated. After a few seconds the stone began to float and pulse with a red glow. "Well, my apprentice, I think this stone is still the Karse Stone. It just seeks a worthy wielder. I will have to show you how to unlock its power."

Helios, upon seeing the pulsing glow of the stone, was reminded of the nightmare vision he had received last month. The more clue that presented themselves; the more questions surfaced.

"But, for now, I have something for the new members of your troupe. They, of course, will have to enter under the same contract." Maercus began to pull items or of the large sack at his feet.
"First, for the large purple man who has everything, including wings, here's something else," said the archmage as he handed Niall an elaborately carved quarterstaff.
Silas, realizing that this mage might have something worth lifting, snuck up behind him and tried to pick his pocket.
"I'm afraid you won't find anything for you in there, son," said the mage to the spell-thief, "but I do have this for you." Maercus pulled a suit of finely crafted leather armor from his pack and handed it to Silas. The spell thief's eyes lit up as he recognized the enchantment and craftsmanship of the armor; drowmesh.
"Now, for the new matriarch of the group, a stylish cloak," said the mage as he handed a cloak to Arachne.

"For the rest of you newcomers; you'll need to accompany me back to my enclave in Telflam. You too, my apprentice. Jules and Snowden, after our business is complete in Telflam I will gladly take you where you wish to go, including coming back to these monkeys, should you choose to." Maercus leapt down from the boat and began tracing a magic circle on the ground.
"It should take but a moment to complete this. We'll be on our way shortly." Maercus returned to his work while Jules and Snowden shared a wary look.

"Not to be disrespectful or ungrateful, sir, but I'm not one-hundred percent comfortable trusting a Red Wizard of Thay, let alone a powerful Thayan archmage." said the half-elf paladin.

"True," said Snowden, "We hardly know you. Why would we let you take us anywhere?"

"As one of your saviors, allow me to vouch for my master's intentions," said the tiefling, "we at the Thayan Merchants' Collective are not like your average blood-thirsty slaving Thayans. Maercus has made sure that slaving, contraband, and other such activities are prohibited in his enclaves throughout Faerun. So you will show respect while addressing Lord Maercus."

"That is not necessary, Nimmik. They are simply being cautious. Now, rest assured that no harm will come to you two while in my charge," said the archmage as he finished his circle, "You are by no means obligated to come with me. The choice is yours." Gesturing to the newly created gate as it flared with arcane power Maercus said, "But, I suggest you choose now, your carriage is leaving."

Jules and Snowden shared another look, shrugged, and stepped through the portal.

"Stay safe, and try not to let your collective intelligence plummet due to my absence. I'll return as soon as I can," quipped the tiefling as he stepped onto the portal and disappeared.

Maercus, too, bowed and then stepped through the portal and was gone.


Twelfth of Eleint 1374 DR

The group boarded the boat, three members fewer, and Helios piloted the skiff away from shore back toward the Shadow Refuge. Initially, the trip looked as if it would be uneventful, but soon the group noticed a figure following them through the twisted trees along shore. Arachne could tell by its graceful movements that it was a fey creature, elf or possibly drow. Whatever it was it moved through the shadowy underbrush as though it were a cobbled street. Soon it ran out of shore on the left bank on which it ran. The group watched as the shadowy figure leapt from the wleft bank to the right bank, clearing the 35' stretch of water between.
Tired of the games, the shadar-kai called out, "If you have something to say to us, say it. Otherwise, leave us be or be neutralized."

The figure emerged from the shadows and kept stride with the boat. He was definitely elven and wore strange clothing with a dark heavy cloak. "You dispatched the undead lizardfolk in the warren," he stated simply.

"Yes we did. Do you take issue with that fact?" asked Helios.

"I only wish I could have helped. I assume you are on your way to the cursed monastery. Do you have similar intentions on it residents?" asked the elf.

"What's it to you?" asked the revenant avenger.

"I would join you," said the elf, "they attacked my clan and kidnapped some of my clanmates. I must avenge the dead and rescue the captured."

"Then get on the boat and be quick about it. We've been delayed long enough." said Perchivak.

The elf leapt from the shore and landed nimbly on the small deck. He stood in silence for the rest of the trip. Silas decided to take-up camp in the small room under the foredeck of the skiff. As he was closing the door Nathaniel noted that the room could house more than one occupant. Silas shut the door and the group could hear the sound of the storage chest being pushed against it.

The rest of the trip was uneventful as they followed the beacons to the Shadow Refuge and beyond. They led to a lonely dock that led to a tree-choked path. The group left their skiff at the dock and followed the path through the twisted black trees. Eventually they came to a clearing and they could see that the path led to a ruined temple. Using the trees as cover, they watched the temple for a while, trying to spot any enemies. Soon they spotted winged figures circling the monastery, at least 4 of them, in an irregular pattern. Unsure what these creatures might be and needing more information, the group decided to let Silas scout ahead. The elf newcomer said that he would accompany the spell-thief. Silas was about to warn him not to get in his way, but he had vanished from sight. Deciding not to press the issue, the spell-thief approached the monastery with the shadows pulled tightly around him. Immediately he noticed three figures inside the ruined gatehouse. They chatted amongst themselves about someone they called 'the devil bitch'. There came a low rumbling sound from the roof of the small gatehouse. So, using his slippers of spider climbing, Silas climbed the wall to peek up on the roof. There he found a large ballista with an ornately carved dragon head. After a moment of observation he witnesses the ballista moving on its own, the dragon face even blinked a few times.

Ebon_Dome_a_web.jpg

"Do we engage?" asked a disembodied voice next to Silas.

"What!?" whispered the spell-thief to the stealthy elf, "No, we're… I'm just scouting." Silas tried to keep his voice as low as possible lest the dragon ballista find them. He was about to climb back down the wall when he noticed another figure on the roof. A shadowy tiefling stood at the opposite side of the roof, walked for a few paces with his gaze fixed on the surrounding area, and crouched back down into the shadows of the turrets. Seeing nothing else of interest on the roof, the spell-thief climbed down. Another doorway lay a short distance from the gatehouse along the monastery's southern face. After sneaking in, Silas found more guards speaking with familiar-looking tattooed men. Their ink was very similar to that of the monks the group had fought in the basement of the false temple of Mystra. With the info he gathered, Silas made his way back to the group, presumably with the elf in tow.

With the information gathered, the group decided on a plan of action; the heavy hitters would rush the main gatehouse entrance, while the stealthier PCs would sneak around to the entrance on the southern face. After some debate as to who was going with whom, the PCs sprung into action.


Aenin, Perchivak, Nathaniel and Niall rushed from the tree cover toward the gatehouse while Helios, Silas, Arachne, and the nameless elf had positioned themselves near the other entrance. The tiefling on the roof proved too quick and managed to blast Aenin with eldritch fire, setting his clothing ablaze. Niall and Perchivack countered as they ran toward the gatehouse, blasting both the tiefling and the ballista. Though as soon as the animate ballista was hit it teleported a short distance away, and the tiefling managed to slip back into the shadows before being hit.

The PCs sneaking into the doorway on the southern face of the abbey managed to get the drop on the monks and guards therein. Silas spear-headed the attack while Helios backed him up with blasts of arcane power. The nameless elf proved quite deadly,dealing massive damage and leaping over his foes and obstacles easily. Arachne, unfortunately was too slow to enter the cover of the ruined gatehouse and was shot by a huge bolt from tje draconic ballista. She countered with a thorny whip made of primal magic, trying to pull the ballista off of the narrow ledge on which it was perched, but it glanced off of the ballista's resillient structure.

Aenin managed to make his way into the gatehouse and easily dispatched the armored guard that tried to stop him. The PCs eventually all made their way into the gatehouse and battled the monks and guards for a few rounds, causing the tiefling and ballista to find another vantage. However, at the start of the third round of combat a familiar face entered the fray; The priestess they had killed in the basement of the false Temple of Mystra in Wheloon. Though she looked different, much in the same way that Aenin has looked since he "died". She sped down the abbey stairs like a wraith and materialized amidst the PCs on the main gatehouse entrance. She delivered a devastating backhand blow against Aenin (draining a healing surge from him as well) before following up with an eruption of malign energy that swept out to hit almost all ouf the PCs (even a few in the eastern branch of the gatehouse) dealing massive necrotic and cold damage and slowing its targets. The group then had their hands full; dealing with the new threat of the dark priestess, handling the hardy and hard to hit monks, and staunching the nuicance of the fragile yet well fortified guards. To make matters worse, some of the gargoyles partoling the sky had spotted the scuffle and joined in with ranged and claw attacks.

The rest pf the battle was incredibly frustrating for the heroes. The priestess just would not drop and she continued to dish-out massive damage and hamper the PCs every round. The monks proved deadly as well, giving as good as they they were dealt. The guards were the only foes to drop relatively easily. The group finaly took the monks down and dropped the priestess down to about half her health, when she lashed out again with that massive wave of dark energy. The PCs could feel the will of Shar as the attack scorched their bodies. Everyone was caught in the blast this time (though a few evaded the attack) and the nameless elf was knocked out. On the ropes, the group retaliated as Niall unleashed the will of the gods; with successive attacks against the priestess Reflex defense the deva managed to tip the scales heavily in the PCs favor. Eventually even gargoyles were felled and Nathaniel dealt the final blow to Lady Naedaenya Arthas. Helios revived the elf and the group stopped briefly to catch their breath after the harrowing melee.

Silas promptly pulled his short sword and beheaded the corpse of Lady Arthas (which, upon inspection, had begun to regenerate) and tossed the head onto the roof of the gatehouse through the narrow window. The group could hear the sound of the ballista rolling over to inspect the head and then roll away toward the northern section of the abbey, up the roof of the stairwell. With a moment to regroup, the PCs decided on their next course of action.

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