Session 09/05
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Back in the Tomb of Chonis, the unseen archers had given-up on trying to slow the PCs down with their ineffectual shots. Silas made his way deeper into the tomb, keeping to the darker shadows, while Shank made his way back to the pit to aid in retrieving Marf. Percival eventually made his way out of the pit as well. Silas peeked around the corner of the main chamber only to be greeted by an arrow in his shoulder. The majority of the main chamber was shrouded in thick, thick fog, making it impossible for him to pin-point his attacker. But how in the nine hells did they see him? He called back to Shank, who was supposed to be right behind him, but found his rear-guard to be absent. Aenin was, however, making his way up the narrow corridor behind the spell-thief. But, as he rounded the corner he decided to enter the inner corridor wherein the archers were firing from the arrow slits. As he entered, though, he found nothing but dust and dirt. Percival rounded the other side of the tomb down the other corridor as Shank mounted-up and sped after Aenin.

Silas took the cheap-shot as a personal insult. He drew his +1 longsword and made his way into the fog, ready to taste vengeance. All he found, however, was fog and a few pillars. Aenin rounded the narrow corridor behind the arrow slits unable to find a single target. That did not prevent his target from finding him, though. Unseen daggers stabbed at him, glancing off of his armor. Shank sped into the fog behind Silas, equally disoriented by the thick nimbus, and casting the last spell in his memory; flame blade. A large shadowy figure, similar to the ones that greeted Silas upon entering the tomb (only larger), materialized in front of the spell thief and pummeled him with an incorporeal fist. The blow did a bit of damage, but the unearthly cold that accompanied it was not-so-unearthly to the blessed Pick. Percival rounded the bend and found the massive billowing cloud in the middle of the tomb. With a quick call to determine the whereabouts of his allies he made his way into the fog. Aenin had had enough of the seemingly invisible attackers and followed Percival's lead.

Silas continued to head toward the general area from which he believed his attacker had fired the arrow, dodging the attacks of the large shadow as he moved. Shank was left to face the tall dark and chilly figure on his own, and with less than optimal hit-points. The shadow figure struck the little druid twice, knocking him out. Percival and Aenin moved further into the fog trying to find the fallen halfling.

The spell thief was closing in on the source of the spellcasting but getting more and more frustrated as the mage remained elusive. The warblade and the knight closed with the large shadowy figure dealing a decent amount of damage with the hits that actually managed to land. Marf, meanwhile, managed to drag his smelly, unconscious master out of the fog. But, wait, Percival had used his Martial Spirit stance to give the KO'd druid 2 points of healing bringing him back from the brink. Marf pulled his master out of combat, regardless. Another incantation found the fogbound PCs dodging their own shadows as they reached from the ground to grasp their ankles. Silas managed to evade the effect, but Aenin and Percival were not so lucky, and they were held fast to the space they occupied. They were still able to attack and defend, they just couldn't move from their space. The large shadow gave ground for now, not wishing to sustain another slash from Percival's Yuir Ghostblade.

Silas slashed at the darkness in front of him, guessing at the position of the unseen mage. His blow hit only shadows and water vapor. The large shadow shifted up behind Silas, belting him again with minimal damage. The mage spoke again, this time conjuring black flames from the ground to envelope the PCs in the fog and many of the spaces around them. Cold fire burned the knight and the spell thief, but somehow Silas absorbed most of the damage. Aenin cannily dodged the flames. Shank, meanwhile, was debating re-entering the fog when some unseen assailant stabbed at him. He managed to duck aside, but barely. He could not afford being hit again. The little druid jabbed blindly at the space in front of him, hoping to clip his unseen foe, but struck only shadows. Percival and Aenin struggled to break the hold of their own shadows. But only the knight was able to shake it.


Back in Saerloon, Helios was gazing into the master diviner's crystal ball at the silent battle scene within. He could barely make out the forms of his allies within the fog, but the darkvision enchantment on the crystal ball allowed him to see fine outside the fog. Seeing the state of his new ally he was anxious to go to their aid. As he grabbed his gear and prepared to meet Rauligan and Cooper in the courtyard, a young cleric dressed in platemail approached him and told him in no uncertain terms that he was going to accompany Helios. He wanted his chance to fight against the minions of Shar and Cyric. After a brief introduction, Helios decided to take the cleric, Nathaniel by name, along for the journey. As they joined Rauligan and Cooper in the courtyard and joined hands, the war wizard hastily drew forth a scroll and read the incantation. In the blink of an eye they were standing outside the barrow mound. Disoriented for the moment, they could only stand and listen to the echoing sounds of battle from within.


Back inside the tomb, Silas continued to pursue the shadow mage to no result. The cold fire continued to burn, but at a comfortable temperature for the spell-thief. Percival exited the fog and rushed to the aid of the little druid, activating his helmet's corpse candle effect in the hopes it would reveal the hidden foes. It did not. Aenin could hear the sound of someone rushing past him, but he couldn't see to strike the fleeing shadowmage. He did, however manage to pull free of his dark constraints. He was now free to move. Shank, almost stabbing Percival as he exited the fog, decided to head back toward the entrance to cut off any fleeing foes. The large shadow continued to strike at Silas with minimal effect as the spell-thief rushed off to follow the mage.

Rauligan handed Helios a small silver brooch as Cooper prepared yet anther scroll, and he and the leather clad Raulign bade the two Mystran clerics good luck. As they vanished Helios looked down at the pin he was given; a harp and crescent moon design. With Nathan in tow, the young mage made his way into the tomb. The group inside heard a command given in a strange language, and Silas spotted small dark forms rushing toward the entrance. Aenin, meanwhile was busy with the large shadowy figure in the fog, but two strikes of his sword eliminated the threat. Shank and Percival stood alert yet oblivious as their unseen foes exited the tomb, right past the newly-arrived clerics. The little druid spotted Helios and his companion and hailed them. Meanwhile, Silas and the rest of the group waited for the magical fog to dissipate and the shadows of the floor to thin-out before they began searching the tomb. The clerics and the druid rejoined the group just as Silas was opening a secret portal, needless to say greetings and introductions were rudely abbreviated.

Inside the secret chamber the spell-thief found a large wooden casket. Immediately, he searched it for traps. While failing to find any insidious mechanisms, he did find a low, deep crawl-space in the wall behind the casket. Flipping open the lid the whole group waited on baited breath for the reveal. Inside Silas found a leather pouch (that he deftly pocketed for himself), a fair sized wooden crate and a small-ish backpack. Under the buckled flap of the backpack (that was most certainly magical) the spell-thief found a veritable magic trove. He pulled out four magic bedrolls, two magic pouches (one a bag of jumping caltrops the other a bag of daylight pellets), three everlasting rations, six blast disks, four exploding spikes, an everfull mug, and an artificers' lens. The backpack itself was a Heward's handy haversack and the lens was put to good use identifying many of the new items and items the group already had, but were unsure as to their function. Inside the crate the group found 20 bottles of wine; Sembian Utterdark.

Shank was then conscripted to enter and search the crawl-space once everyone was sufficiently healed. He managed to find a pouch of platinum and gold, but the floor wobbled dangerously. Tossing the bag to his companions Shank noticed a platinum piece stuck in the cracks of the flagstone. As he plucked it out the floor gave way and he fell 20' to land on… soft pine needles? Shank found himself in a natural cavern carpeted in fresh pine needles, heather, mistletoe, holly, and thistles. They all appeared to have been recently placed here but that seemed impossible. The walls of the small cavern glowed with green phosphorescent moss and in the center of the room was a stone dais on which sat a sarcophagus. Some of the loose flagstones had struck the lid of the sarcophagus as they'd fallen, cracking it into sections. The group called down to the small thief asking what he'd found (nevermind if he was alright).

Silas tossed down his lens of detection and Shank searched the sarcophagus for traps. Finding none, he pushed aside one of the cracked sections of the lid to reveal a skeletal corpse within. Strangely, there were curving horns growing from its skull. In its hands, crossing its chest, were a wooden dagger and a copper scroll case. Shank quickly pocketed both items. As he was setting one of the skeletal hands back in place he noticed a ring on one of its fingers. Yoink! Onto the druid's finger it went. Silas called down again asking what Shank had found. The little thief promptly tossed up the platinum piece. The group lowered a rope a hoisted-up a very invisible Shank. Oblivious, the little druid began handing the items he'd found to Helios for identification. The wooden dagger was a +1 duskwood acidic burst dagger, the scroll case was an infinite scroll case full of druid scrolls, and the ring was quite obviously a ring of invisibility. The group decided that the little druid would most likely benefit from the items, so they handed him the newly found Heward's handy haversack in which to stow his gear. They placed the rest of their find in the communal bag of holding to be divvied-up later.

By the light of their everburning torches they inspected the map. Their next stop was at a location called the Skull Staff. Percival had heard of the landmark; it was a large broken tree trunk decorated with various skulls. It originated as a border marker for an orc tribe living in the Vast Swamp, but as the territory changed hands more and varied skulls were added to the collection, including a few giant and dragon skulls. It seemed to be only a few more hours travel so the group exited the tomb, gathered/conjured their horses and rode to their next destination.


Another two hours of travel brought them to the Skull Staff and the edge of the Vast Swamp. Sparse trees peppered the landscape leading up to the edge of the monumental bog, which seemed more like a flooded forest than a desolate swamp. Willow and shadowtop trees made up the majority of the forest with a few rotted pines and blueleafs. As the group approached the grim, massive landmark Aenin caught the spore of an unfamiliar being in one of the trees (thanks to a martial stance granting him the scent ability). He tried to silently convey this information to the rest of the group, but he was interrupted by the arrival of an arrow in Percival's back. The attacker wasn't whomever was in the tree, nor Silas, for that matter. It had come from back behind them, and lo and behold, there stood their archer "friend" using a tree for cover, and readying another shot. Just as they were drawing their weapons they heard the familiar baying of a hound. It proved too much for Silas this time and he dropped his bow and began to speed-off on his horse, Winston.

Percival promptly charged off toward the ranged nuisance and managed to deal him a hefty blow. However, the invisible mummified ogre mage reciprocated with a hefty blow of his own and managed to infect the knight with mummy rot. Additionally, almost everyone gazing at the large mummy was frozen in fear at the sight of it; both Percival and Aenin found themselves unable to move. Helios quickly pulled his mount around and cast searing light at the mummified ogre. And, while it struck home, the young mage then found himself frozen in horror as well. Arrows streaked from the trees around them to strike the shadows. The yelp of a canine could be heard as one of the missiles found their target. Shank found himself skulking through the erupting combat. He decided to use the old standby; flaming sphere. He directed it toward the mummy, but failed to connect. Another undead ogre appeared next to the frozen Helios and swung its greatclub clipping the mage's shoulder. Nathan charged up a light of venya and prepared to launch it next round.

Silas continued to flee from the unknown source of fear for a few more seconds until he came-to. Wheeling Winston back around he began to speed back toward the battle. Percival Aenin and Helios remained frozen in fear as the mummified ogre floated up about 20' and blasted the poor paralyzed mage/cleric with a cone of cold. This proved too much for the young mage's constitution and he was knocked unconscious. His horse, however, was not so lucky and it became an equine ice-cube. Nathan loosed his light of venya, full blast, at the ogre zombie. The beam of pearly radiance tore through the undead giant, taking most of the left side of it's body. But it's undead constitution kept it standing, still readying its remaining fist for another blow. The initiate of Mystra then started to head toward his fallen leader. Shank continued to direct his flaming sphere, making it leap the 20' up to strike at the formidable mummy. The canny druid proved too accurate for the ogre mage, and some of its bandages caught flame as the flaming sphere scored a hit. The trees around them continued to rain arrows at the shadows, but their target dodged the missiles this time. A pair of undead bugbears appeared from nowhere to assault the paralyzed knight, both of their blows glanced off of his mithral armor. From out of the bog ahead of the group there came an explosion of movement; large dark scaled figures powered toward the group with many more medium green lizardfolk on their heels. A smaller lizardfolk with a longbow hopped up onto a fallen log and fired a shot at the hidden shadow mastiff, striking true and paralyzing it with venom. The charging hulks seemed to be directing their paths toward the ambushers. Apparently the tide of battle was shifting quite generously in the PCs favor. Two of the blackscales rushed toward the now paralyzed shadow mastiff while another rushed up and finished-off the severely wounded ogre zombie. The rest of the lizardfolk directed their charge toward the lone archer, now very much wishing he'd taken the time to climb the tree he was using for cover, and the pair of undead bugbears.

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The spell-thief had finally made his way back to the combat. In an attempt to quickly dismount and grab his bow his foot caught on one of the stirrups and he fell from his horse, nearly getting trampled in the process. Percival and Aenin, meanwhile, snapped-out of their fear and tensely surveyed the situation; Percival traded blows with the undead bugbears while Aenin waited for a clear target. Helios' body somehow overcame the intense shock of the cone of cold and he awoke, very wounded but very much alive. He shifted underneath the hovering ogre mage and cast deific vengeance, scoring a respectable hit. An armored form appeared next to one of the charging lizardfolk. He swung a bastard sword down trying to intercept the scaled warrior but the blow was poorly timed and it glanced off of the thick natural plates on the lizardfolk's chest. The rest of the charging group around the armored man's target promptly switched their attention to him. The small lizardfolk with the bow moved up to Silas' prone form and told him in broken common to get to his feet as he fired a shot at the archer in the distance, scoring a hit and paralyzing him with venom. Two of the blackscales finished-off the shadow mastiff as the rest of the charging band swarmed the archer and the man in armor. Nathan called upon the power of Mother Mystra and cast deific vengeance on the mummified ogre mage. Blue flames crackled around the undead ogre and spellfire raged from unseen heights to crash down on him. Bandages and bones rained down on Helios and the hulking undead form landed on Shank's, still crackling, flaming sphere. The tiny druid left his sphere right where it was, content to turn the undead ogre into a conflagration. He turned his attention to the armored man that had just appeared. Drawing his recently identified +1 quickloading crossbow (with crystal of acid assault) he fired an acidic bolt at the Cyricist. The man brought his shield up to bear, however, and deflected the bolt from his jugular.

Silas got to his feet, grabbed his bow and put the archer of Cyric dead in his sights. Thinking about how much he was going to relish taking this bastard down, he loosed his arrow… and it went wide. A huge crocodile emerged from the underbrush near the evil cleric, snapping at his leg. The cleric proved too canny, though, and dodged the bite. Percival charged the spellcasting Cyricist and tripped him with a sweeping blow. Aenin followed suit and moved up to the prone cleric to slash him with an Iaijutsu-charged blow. Sheathing his blade, he concentrated on his foe and in a quick, fluid motion he drew his bastard sword and struck the prone cleric dealing a massive amount of damage. The assembled lizardfolk made short work of the nearly-dead cleric and paralyzed archer, their clubs rose and fell in a grim rhythm as they finished them off.

The smaller lizardfolk archer called to the rest of the scaled warriors in draconic as he made his way to the dead archer, telling them to assemble and prepare to leave for the encampment. Silas was hot on the little lizard's trail, wanting first dibs on the Cyricist archer's gear. The bodies of the cleric and archer were searched and, of course, looted. A disturbing number of Shadow Weave magic items were found in their possession. Shar must really be taking this alliance very seriously. Nathan healed anyone who was seriously injured and brought everyone back to full with a wand of cure light wounds. The bodies of the Cyricists were summarily fed to the huge crocodile which seemed to be the small lizardfolk's pet. As the rest of the lizardfolk assembled, the PCs could see the three different races represented; one quite large with black scales, one about human-sized with deep green scales, and one smaller breed with coppery-green scales and large intelligent eyes. The smaller one giving the orders must have been their leader. He approached Percival and told him that Kessessek wanted to speak with them (whom he referred to as 'hairy ones'), and to follow him.

The group considered their good fortune in running into two ambushes, directly opposed to each other. They might have lost their lives if the lizardfolk weren't waiting in ambush. So, curious to see what this 'Kessessek' wanted, they followed the mass of lizardfolk into the Vast Swamp.

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