Session 59: September 25, 2016
Following their defeat of the trolls and giant near Wyvernstone Bridge, and a brief berry-picking excursion, the heroes from New Hope continued toward the suspected location of Armag the Twice-Born’s tomb. Thim did not continue with them. He had chosen to go to Varnhold to train archers there. As dusk approached, the remaining group camped for the night and enjoyed an uninterrupted rest, protected by Garrick’s keep watch spell.
The next morning the group members saw several bright flashes like lightning in the sky some distance away. Later in the day after they had left their campsite, they spotted several large flying creatures near two promontories. The sharper-eyed among the group recognized the creatures as chimeras, but the chimeras either had less acute vision or were simply not interested in the travelers. As the party made their way past the boggy edge of the Hooktongue Slough, they could hear the sound of a waterfall. Narthropple’s map indicated that the river disappeared into a cave near the falls, which was the surmised location of Armag’s burial place. They came upon an area of stone rubble that indicated the presence of a long-disused quarry, likely of dwarven make. Once the waterfall came into view they could also see that at one time someone had constructed piers for a bridge over the river, but if there had ever been a bridge it was long gone.
Landon sent Cyst ahead to get a closer look at the area surrounding the cave they thought to be Armag’s resting place. The imp, invisibly spying in the form of a raven, observed a cluster of round hide huts of the kind used by the Tiger barbarians. The collection of huts was not large, and almost half of them appeared to be decayed and unoccupied. The huts were divided into two groups, one on each side of a clearing occupied by a rectangular structure and a fire pit. Cyst saw several burly warriors among the people present, but there were also women and children. When Landon had relayed this information to the rest of the party, Tahjah and Silverleaf expressed opposition to simply killing all the barbarians. They both hoped that the barbarians could be reasoned with and perhaps even made allies. Garrick agreed, and the group left their horses with the two militiamen who had accompanied them and went down to the village to talk.
They were met by a barbarian who did not appear friendly, though he made no move to attack the new arrivals. When questioned by Garrick, who knew the barbarians’ language, and by Tahjah with Garrick interpreting, the barbarian revealed that some type of ritual of rebirth was taking place inside the cave and he insisted the visitors should leave at once. Tahjah elicited from him that the barbarians would not willingly have been as bloodthirsty as they had been recently; they were under some form of compulsion. Tahjah offered to free them of it, but the speaker declined, fearing retribution from the Black Sisters.
In the meantime, Cyst had approached a fenced enclosure that held some horses and mules, and had opened the gate. When Garrick began trying to convince the speaker that the group should be allowed to go into the cave and observe the ritual, one of the horses whinnied loudly. Cyst, still invisible, flew over to Tahjah’s should and attempted to persuade her that the horses had something to communicate. When she showed no interest in investigating, Cyst tried to persuade Silverleaf. But Silverleaf didn’t believe the horses could be intelligent enough to tell them anything of use.
Despite the speaker’s warning, Garrick and the rest of the group approached the cave entrance. They had already seen that two large beings were standing guard. On getting closer they could see that these two creatures were not Tiger barbarians. Tahjah was able to identify one of the creatures as a type of aberration, a gug. The other creature was some sort of extraplanar entity that resembled a fetchling but was much larger. The party members decided that since they knew there were probably Black Sisters and other creatures inside the cave, they didn’t want to expend too much of their magic on the sentries. Garrick attempted to parley with the two creatures, but they were not at all willing to make conversation. They also appeared to be stalling for time, though to what purpose Garrick couldn’t tell.
With negotiations going nowhere, Amaya opened with a battle cry and the fight began. Tahjah tried to affect the gug with a murderous command, but found that something resisted her spell, though she knew that gugs weren’t ordinarily resistant to magic. Silverleaf hurled a fireball from his staff of fire at both creatures and it overcame whatever was causing the resistance. Garrick, Landon, and San’Kari moved up to attack the two guards with their weapons, while Tahjah and Silverleaf remained behind them with Amaya and Kara. Tahjah had cast life link on every member of the group to help to reduce the damage they were subject to. Amaya cast haste on the group as well.
Suddenly Tahjah saw the gug begin to appear blurry, and at the same time she felt the ground trembling beneath her feet. At that moment two ankhegs emerged from the earth beside her and Silverleaf. While San’Kari, Landon, and Garrick were busy battling the gug and its comrade, she and Silverleaf employed their seldom-used weapons against the ankhegs, reserving their magic for more powerful foes.
One of the Black Sisters abruptly appeared behind the two sentries, where she had evidently been hiding invisibly. She attempted to affect Garrick, San’Kari, and Landon with an aura of madness, but all three of them resisted her effect. Silverleaf disregarded the ankheg beside him to trigger another fireball from his staff, which he aimed behind the Black Sister so the flames would affect her as well as the two summoned creatures.
The second creature moved forward beside the gug, and San’Kari dealt it a fierce blow. Landon was knocked off his feet, but thanks to Tahjah’s channeled energy was able to get back up and continue fighting. Garrick was busily attacking the gug with an axe in each hand. Amaya cast good hope to further bolster the fighters, and Tahjah’s holy smite left the Black Sister blind for a short time. Unfortunately the Sister did not need to be able to see to channel her own negative energy to harm her opponents, though she was unable to prevent the energy from also harming the two sentries. Silverleaf conjured a spiritual weapon and set it to attack the Black Sister, but it found her a difficult target to hit.
Tahjah began to sense something else happening. There was something emerging from the nearby river. As she called out a warning to her companions, Landon dealt the fetchling-like being a grievous blow, and an instant later Garrick slew the gug. Silverleaf summoned a flame to his hand and pitched it at the Black Sister, but the magic failed to affect her. Amaya then summoned a swarm of mad monkeys, which scrambled over the Sister, snatching away her holy symbol of Gyronna and gnawing it while they distracted her from casting further spells. This allowed San’Kari to move up beside her and strike a heavy blow with this axe. The Sister fell to the ground, dead. When she died the ankhegs vanished and whatever had been about to emerge from the water disappeared as well.
The group members quickly searched the Black Sister’s body in preparation for entering the cavern. They found that she had two scrolls, two potions, an enchanted dagger, and a magic staff in her possession. They decided to take a few extra moments to determine what these things would do, as they might be useful in the coming fight.
Scroll of ice storm
Scroll of sending
Potion of cure moderate wounds
Potion of levitate
+2 keen dagger
Staff of healing