Session 08/22

Jerik stood at one of the gaps in the shrine walls staring after the departed merchants. His conscience was getting the better of him and he finally decided to catch-up with them and escort them to Wheloon. Besides, the nasties were still out there, strength in numbers and all that. So, bidding the group adieu, he handed them back the money he'd received from Lord Sarp, mounted-up, and took off after the odd duo of merchants. Now two less in number, the group set about preparing the nights watches. Silas had the first watch and Percival the second. Neither were eventful.


Ninth of Eleint, 1374 DR

However, sometime shortly after dawn there came a hail from just outside the shrine. Percival went to inspect and discovered three figures; a fairly obvious war wizard of Cormyr, a man in leather garb, and a ratty looking halfling with an equally ratty looking dog. The man in leather introduced himself as Rauligan and his wizard companion as Cooper. And as Cooper roughly shoved the small smelly person forward it introduced itself as Shank and his partner in grime as Marf. Rauligan explained that he had heard of the groups deeds in Wheloon and had come to offer the halfling's aid (not that the halfling had much of a choice). But, he also needed to take one of them with him to Saerloon to the Tower of Knowledge and give testimony to the clerics of Mystra therein. Helios almost immediately volunteered, he had never been in a true Temple of Mystra before. While the one in Wheloon was quite nice, at first, it did end rather sourly. As consolation for taking the groups only cleric, Rauligan gave them a case of rather potent healing potions. With no comments or questions from the PCs, Cooper Helios and Rauligan disappeared.

Shortly after, the interrogations began. Shank took the barrage in stride, and managed to gross-out the rest of the group by basically french-kissing his dog. Satisfied, the PCs decided on a course of action; They thought it would be best to track their pursuers from the previous evening and put an end to them. Using their new companion's ability to track, they followed Malf for about half a mile (north-west) until he lost the spore. They then backtracked to the shrine and decided to head to the next stop on the map; "The Tomb of Chonis".

About one hour into their journey they came to a small, shallow ridge-line and a gently sloping hill at their flank. Silas went to inspect the depth of the ridge when the rest of the group felt a tingling sensation followed by an intense burst of sound. At that same moment a barrage of arrows rained down on Percival and four small figures charged down the hill to attack the party. Their small stature and olive-green skin suggested that they were most likely goblins, but these goblins moved with intensity and battle ardor. Their little mouths were foaming and they surged forward with abandon. On the hill there was a group of archers, also goblins, readying another barrage. The goblin barbarians hit the group like a wave on a break-wall. Aenin took most of the assault, but managed to dodge any serious injury. Shank took on one of the little brutes and luckily ducked its axe-slice.

Meanwhile, Silas was skulking back up to the group, looking for a clear target. He took aim and plugged the goblin threatening Shank, stunning it from massive damage. Aenin used his Steel Wind Strike to hit two of the rabid goblins, but they withstood. Percival attempted to ride to the halfling's aid and trample his goblin foe, but a slight miscalculation left him thrown from his horse and quite prone. Shank ducked out of range of his foe and managed to throw his spear at one of the goblins assaulting Aenin. But, it failed to connect. The remaining goblins managed to get some impressive hits in on the warblade. They may have been small but they packed a big punch. Percival's horse followed through with its instructions and attacked Shank's goblin, nearly taking it down. The archers on the hill let loose, this time aiming for Aenin. None of the arrows found purchase. While fending off the hail of tiny arrows, Aenin felt his bastard sword ripped from his grip. It flew through the air and almost impaled his new halfling companion. Contrary to his recent fumbles in combat this was not the warblade's fault. Looking around for the source of the unseen snatching-hand, Aenin spotted another goblin on the hill. This newcomer looked quite strange, even for a goblin; its hair and skin had a blue tinge and it wore robes and carried a staff. This little bugger was quite obviously responsible, and the warblade alerted his comrades to its presence.

Silas took a shot at one of the goblin archers and worked his way up to get a shot at the blue goblin while Aenin quick-drew his katana and continued to hack away at the berserkers, felling one, and shifting gradually to his lost weapon. Percival had considered trying to re-mount his horse but decided to position himself to charge the hill. Shank spouted-off a flaming sphere spell near the blue goblin, but the little bugger dodged it. The sphere did manage to set the brush in which the blue goblin was hiding aflame, however. Meanwhile, Marf snapped at the already wounded goblin near the halfling along with Percival's horse, taking the tiny berserker down. The two berserkers left on Aenin let him go and decided to focus on Percival. It was a poor tactic, and Percival summarily tripped both of them as they moved in. The archers took aim again but to no avail as the arrows bounced off of the knight's armor. Shank felt a sharp intrusion in his mind but managed to shake it off, as the blue goblin stared intensely at him.

The spell-thief was finally within range of the blue goblin and he loosed a well-aimed shot. However, some field of focre around the little bugger deflected the arrow. Additionally, there seemed to be a miasma around him that made his form ripple and difficult to pin-point. Aenin made it to his flung blade and retrieved it. Percival charged the hill and took a swing at one of the archers, killing it. Meanwhile, Shank continued to direct his flaming sphere to no avail. But, he got close enough to Aenin to give him a dose of healing. The horse and Marf continued to attack the now-prone goblins as the remaining archers took shots at the halfling. The blue goblin glared at Percival and the knight felt an inhuman force shove him 50' down the hill, back next to his horse. The strange goblin then began to flee.

Silas took another shot at the little blue nuisance, but again it was deflected. Aenin made his way up the hill, trying to get into position to charge. The knight mounted his horse and prepared for a mounted charge. Shank tried one last time to hit with his flaming sphere, but missed again as it dissipated. The halfling then mounted his riding dog and prepared to follow the knight. By that time all of the goblin barbarians had been neutralized, but the archers took aim again and fired at Silas. The arrows didn't find their target, however. Another burst of energy bolts blasted between the spell-thief and the warblade. But, they ducked aside as electricity danced about in midair.

The trade of arrows continued and the goblin archers made-off worse than Silas as he took one down. Percival followed through with his charge and took out a second archer. Aenin charged as well and took down yet another archer. Shank attempted to strike one of the remaining two goblins with a sling bullet, but it flew wide. The two remaining archers withdrew, throwing their bows to the ground. The blue goblin attempted to follow but wanted to get in a few parting shots; another strange feeling passed over the spell-thief as he shook off another mind blast and the blue moved a little further away from the group (but not by much).

Percival charged the little beast, tripping him with his lucerne hammer and pelting him a good one. Silas took aim at the now-prone blue and drove two well placed arrows into it's skull. The blue stopped moving.

The PCs decided that the fleeing archers weren't worth their trouble, and proceeded to search the fallen. The archers and barbarians had fairly simple, if not poor quality, items. While the blue had a very nice pair of boots, a nicely made quarterstaff, and an exceptionally well made light crossbow. The small light crossbow was constructed to look like a pseudo-dragon, complete with a barbed tail that releases the bowstring and wings that formed the bow. In its mouth was a crystal that appeared to have a viscous green fluid within. Seeing as how Shank was the only small person able to benefit from any of these items, the group handed them all to the little thief/druid. Silas could tell that the small crossbow, the boots, and the crystal were all magical using his goggles of arcane sight. Healing was in order. While they were successful in defeating the little beasts, they took some hefty damage in return. After the curative spells were sussed, the group decided to continue on their journey for the "Tomb of Chonis". Besides, they'd only been traveling for an hour before they were ambushed.

The second half of their journey was less eventful and they eventually came upon a long low hill covered in heather and thistle. A large doorway with a heavy lintel gaped at one end. There was a word carved deeply into its face that they couldn't determine immediately. As they approached, they noticed a small dark figure dart from the door way to the shadows within. They decided it would be best to let the spell-thief scout ahead. Now that they were close enough they could read the word on the lintel; "CHONIS" in the Thorass alphabet. Shank cast magic stone on his sling bullets in anticipation of entering the tomb.

Silas slipped inside and cast ebon eyes on himself. The interior was dark and cramped. Thought the ceilings were ten feet high there was an oppressive feeling about the tomb. A long, 15' wide hallway stretched before him that split at right angles at a wall about 60' from the doorway. Carved into the hewn stone of that wall was a crude frowning horned face with a deep mouth. Silas immediately noticed the pit that Noory and Coobert had mentioned, along with the rickety bridge spanning it, about 30' from the doorway. As he made his way forward to inspect the integrity of the bridge he failed to notice a wispy, insubstantial form emerge from the wall behind him. As it swung and connected with Silas' chest, completely bypassing his armor, the spell-thief felt unearthly cold infused in its touch. However, it wasn't cold enough to actually harm him. While the actual blow did some menial damage, the cold did none. What had that Shadow Gate done to him? Also; Why weren't these shadows sapping his strength?

With little time to ponder the verisimilitude of his newfound ability, more shadowy figures emerged from the masonry around him attempting to strike him. Again, the blunt force of their hits caused damage but the infused cold failed to penetrate. Silas gave ground and fired at one of the remaining shadows with a rapid shot, taking it down. After a shout to his comrades the rest of the PCs made to enter the tomb. Percival entered first, brandishing his yuir ghostblade, and the nearest shadowy figure fell to his strike. Aenin followed suit and dropped the next shadow, and with the help of Percival's everburning torch he was able to see clearly in the immediate darkness. Arrows streaked from the mouth of the frowning face ahead and struck at Percival, but failed to penetrate his armor. Shank rode in next, on the back of Marf, and fired a sling bullet at one of the shadows. Its incorporeal nature prevented the stone from connecting, however.

The remaining shadow withdrew leaving the PCs to the mercy of the unseen archers. Silas used his slippers of spider climbing and skirted the wall beside the pit, crossing to the other side all the while hidden in shadow. As he crossed he noticed that the pit was about 20' deep. Once on the other side he tried to spot the arrow slits from which the archers were firing, but they were too well hidden. Percival was starting to consider jumping the pit to the other side while Aenin went on full defense, not wanting to get hit by arrows (these bastards might be using poison too). Shank decided to throw caution to the wind and rode full speed across the bridge. Once he and Marf got about halfway across (7.5') the ropes snapped and they both fell 20' to the dirty pit floor below. Bruised and sprained, but none the worse for wear, Shank began to search for a way out, and while he couldn't find an easy route out he did find a nice suit of leather armor amongst the debris. The archers fired again, this time at Aenin, but only one struck home (and it wasn't poisoned).

Silas decided to search one of the 5' wide hallways that branched off of the main hall at a 90 degree angle; it continued for about 10' then turned right and stretched onward for another 90' or so. There were niches in the walls of the tomb, most likely for holding caskets, but they'd long ago been plundered. Silas spotted several arrow slits on the inner wall of this hallway as well as a few tiny figures milling about halfway down the corridor. They appeared to be made of dirt, hair, and teeth and made quick, jerky movements. Back in the entry hall, Percival decided to follow through and jump the pit. Full plate, while a great source of protection, certainly has its drawbacks. One of which is its restriction on movement. This was a great contribution to Percival failing to reach the far edge of the pit. Another factor was most likely the archers waiting until the knight was in midair before they fired. While none of the arrows actually struck true, Percival still fell 20' into the pit, landing on poor Marf. Aenin, ruefully shook his head, maintained his defensive stance, and began to fish his rope from his pack. Shank took a moment to gripe at the knight for falling on his friend and continued to search the pit.

Moving to the other side of the wall with the face carving, Silas looked down the second hallway, which turned out to mirror the first; 5' wide with niches and arrow slits in the wall. It even had a similar group of tiny figures standing about. He then snuck back to the pit, keeping out of sight of the archers, and whispered to Aenin to throw him the rope. Aenin complied and then climbed down into the pit using the hanging remains of the bridge. He then offered a hand to the halfling, giving him a boost toward the hanging bridge on the far side of the pit. Percival achingly got to his feet and surveyed the situation. Meanwhile, the tiny hair creatures rushed down the hall and around the corners, receiving a prompt from some unseen source. As they turned the corner, one of the groups spotted the spell-thief and glared at him menacingly. One of the hidden archers also spotted the spell-thief and alerted his allies. All three took shots at Silas, but he ducked them all. Shank grabbed the bridge-turned-ladder and started pulling himself up.

Silas hid once more and stealthily looped the rope around one of the bridge supports. He then made his way back to the beginning of the left branch of the hall. The tiny creatures had lost their target so they decided to jump down into the pit and assault the humans therein. As they fell Percival picked them off like apples falling from a tree. By the time he was finished, only two had made it to the bottom. Aenin, likewise, struck one from the air bringing the total down to one (one very wounded one). Percival then made his way to the rope and tried to climb up, but that damned armor got in his way again and he fell flat on his back. Marf finished off the remaining tomb creature and paced waiting to be hoisted up. Aenin gingerly attempted to secure Marf with the rope, doing the best he could while Shank pulled himself the rest of the way out of the pit. The small druid then moved to inspect the left hallway branch behind the unseen Silas.

Who were these unseen archers? What were these little tomb creatures? Were those shadows they'd fought earlier of something else? And will the rest of the group get out of the pit before something worse emerges from within the tomb?

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Meanwhile, Helios found himself in a strange city, in strange company. The courtyard in which he'd arrived was bustling with petitioners and clerics to the Lady of Mysteries. A pair of said clerics approached the trio, apparently expecting their arrival, and welcomed them to the Tower of Knowledge. They then escorted Rauligan Helios and Cooper to the tower proper, and up several floors. A council room awaited them with assembled mages and clerics all waiting in anticipation for the young mage's arrival. As they entered one of their guides introduced each of them in turn. After introducing Helios the room got a lot quieter (if that was possible). One of the clerics seated at the large table beckoned for Helios to approach.

The five clerics seated at the table grilled the young mage for what felt like hours. Every minute detail about the false temple was questioned and revisited several times; names, descriptions, quantities, everything. It nearly taxed Helios' photographic memory to its limit. Once the council seemed satisfied they dismissed the assembled mages along with Rauligan and Cooper. Helios was left alone with the councilors.

They took a very grim air. While relieved (and thankful) that Helios and the PCs succeeded in discovering the conspiracy, they were now faced with the very real fact that the church was under direct attack, and from not just one rival church. This was most unwelcome news to receive in the wake of the Rage of Dragons and the recent poor crop weather and famine that has beset Sembia. A few of the facts with which they also took issue were Helios' consorting with and working for a noted Red Wizard, and his failure to report the group's finding of the Karse Stone in the Hidden Temple. However, seeing as how it was a Red Wizard apprentice that destroyed the Shadow Gate (almost costing him his life), and that the groups' possession of the stone was most likely the safest place for it, they didn't feel any sort of discipline was necessary.

They asked Helios a few more questions, this time asking for his opinion instead of fact. They also took time to thoroughly inspect the Karse Stone. Helios presented them with the promissory note given to him by Tunaster, which they readily fulfilled. The council thought it best to offer their full support to The Blades of the Silent Flame. Apparently, that is the name by which the Mystran church has come to refer the group. They presented Helios with a few useful items to help him and the group along in their quest.

Before sending the young mage on his way the Tower assembled in the common room for meals. If the barrage of questions Helios endured from the council was taxing, he was ill prepared for the massive group interrogation at dinner. Rauligan and Cooper did their best to keep the apprentices and young clerics from Helios' elbow long enough for him to enjoy his meal, but the eager young initiates of the Tower of Knowledge were anxious to hear stories of Helios' journeys and more about his homeland of Aglarond (and of the Simbul, for that matter). From the time he finished his meal until he was called to the scrying chamber, he recounted his journeys with the "Blades of the Silent Flame".

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