ADVENTURE 18: THE VILLAIN REVEALED
Telok: Elf cleric of Obad-hai, divine disciple, level 11 CG
Jerry Springwater: Human Fighter-Paladin-Justicar, Level 10 LG
Jestyn: High Elf Wizard, Level 10 N
Verrof: Earth Genasi Ranger-Foe Hunter, Level 8 CG, ECL 9
Sithdar Darkblade: Human Rogue-Assassin, Level 10 NE
ADVENTURE 18: THE VILLAIN REVEALED: As the brave heroes returned to the city of Nenkal, all was illuminated by the bright moon above, and yet tonight there were two new stars in the sky, shining brightly and divinely as they glorified the new Justicar and his companions. Tonight, a great crowd gathered as it watched the heroes enter, particularly attentive to every move Jerry Springwater made. Speaking with some of them, he learned that a great light had been seen from the valley of Shrines, and some even claimed to see Jerrys form among the stars. It was clear that the characters had succeeded in their quest, and all seemed right. Yet Jestyn and Anna Marie were still in their coma, and yet there was the possibility that a cleric of Orcus lurked within the city.
Near the site of the old church stood what appeared to be a glorious new cathedral to the twin gods, Muir and Thyr. The PCs entered, speaking with Sartorious and telling him of the success of their quest, yet also showing him their comatose companions. Saying that any healing was beyond his power, he suggested that maybe they see another priest. When asked what he had discovered of the relic thieves, he claimed that the chalice and stone had been linked to some thugs in the dock ward, possibly the thieves and assassins guilds. After speaking with the High Priest some more, the characters went their separate ways.
Telok went straight to his church, once again visiting the great biosphere that was Obad-Hais temple. There, in the sacred grove, the great tree arose as a treant and spoke with him. Apparently, the gods highest priest, the treant took the earth blood from Telok then told him of the purpose of his quest to gain it. It had something to do with the old religion of Hecate, forgotten goddess of the moon and shadow magic. Formerly a powerful rival of the earth god, the moon goddess faith was dying, and she herself fading from existence. Obad-Hai had forgiven her for her ancient transgressions, and at a time very soon, the religion of Hecate would be absorbed into that of the nature god. All of her current clerics would convert, and the goddess herself would be absorbed. The earth bloods purpose now was to restore Akbeth, the former high priestess of Hecate who had been cursed by her goddess and transformed into a statue of living rock. As her sins were forgiven with the passing of her goddess, Akbeth would be restored and allowed to lead a normal life. Telok was given the task of finding her and anointing her with the earths blood. Apparently, the priestess was located in a very ancient cavern system somewhere deep within Rappan Athuk, the dungeon of graves. Long before the church of Orcus had claimed the site it had been a sacred cave of the earth, and somewhere inside of it lay Akbeth.
Verrof also went to the temple of all gods, but for him the goal was a sale. He wished to sell an evil mace he had acquired from the Orcus clerics. At first he considered Vecna, but changed his mind upon remembering the gods association with the undead. He finally sold it to a priest of Erythnul, god of violence, who eagerly bought it. On his was out of the all-inclusive temple, he was stopped by one of Karsylas underpriests. The man took Verrof right to the high priestess, who offered him a task: as he was a great undead hunter, she wished him to recover the remains of three great heroes, at least two now undead monsters. Saracek, Zelkor and Bofred were the men, who had long ago gone into Rappan Athuk and never returned. He was to slay them and bring in their remains, so that the Temple of All Gods could speak with them, and finally give them a proper burial. It was a deadly task, but since Verrof still carried in his heart a seething hatred of the undead, he accepted.
Sithdar went off to his guildhouse, to speak with his superiors and gain some knowledge. Reporting to the master assassin Bubba, Sithdar told of his fight against the cult of Orcus, and asked what the guild knew of the Stone and Chalice. Bubba believed that Sartorious was lying, and knew that he guild had nothing to do with the theft or transportation of the holy relics. He assumed that they had been taken away by magic. Intrigued, Sithdar left again. As he was walking through the streets, he suddenly heard a voice in his head: arrogant and regal, it greeted him and taunted him, speaking of an old debt that had to be settled. Suddenly, from out of the shadows jumped an attacker, a thuggish man who ran at Sithdar with a sword. Using magic, the assassin turned invisible then went behind the man and backstabbed him, killing the fellow instantly. Upon investigating the corpse, he found that it was no man but small teenage boy, completely unarmed. Sithdar realized that illusions were at work here. He then recognized the mysterious voice as an old enemyScramge the Rakshasa, previously thought dead. He rushed back to the temple to warn Jerry.
Meanwhile, Jerry was looking around the new cathedral and meeting all the newer worshippers. Saying hello to all his friends, he noticed that Jonathan was absent. Another priest told him that the cleric was off making some minor transactions at the bank. Then Jerry began telling tales of his adventures, managing to gather quite the crowd. Suddenly, Sithdar came in and interrupted. He told Jerry about the Rakshasa, about how he was still alive and possibly in the city. Worried, the two characters went to Sartorious and told him everything. He volunteered to cast a divination to reveal the tiger-fiend. Thus he went into his room alone and performed the spell. Yet as they waited, Sithdar listened at the door. He could hear no muttering or chanting. As all the clerics he had known used words in their divinations, this bothered him. Suspecting treachery, he got ready to pick the doors lock. Just then, Jonathan came back. He told Sithdar that all of their divinations were performed silently, and for now the rogue believed him. Since the others seemed worried about Sartorious, Jonathan merely knocked on the door, causing the high priest to come out. It was then that Jerry noticed something. With his divinely heightened sight, he saw that Jonathan looked oddmore than odd, really. His skin withered and skeletal, his eyes a deep glowing red, the man wore a suit of spiky black armor and carried various unholy items. In his skull was scratched the wand of Orcus. As Jerry disbelieved Sartorious, the high priest simply disappeared into nothing. Yet Sithdar could still hear him talking, saying that the Rakshasa was dead, not even in this world. He accused Sithdar of being a madman, perhaps in league with Orcus. He told Jerry to arrest him. Yet the Justicar couldnt even hear the priests illusionary words. He attacked the undead abomination before him, though each one of his strikes failed to penetrate the unholy Disciples armor, and the final one broke Jerrys sword. The villain struck next, with a touch that drained away most of Jerrys health (harm). Now Jerry sent his divine falcon away to warn the others. A second touch from him sent Jerry unconscious, nearly killing him if not for the luck of his divine nature. Sithdar backed out of the room, searching for help in the temple. The one man he found ran out to get guards. Suddenly, Sithdar was stabbed in the side by another being: Scramge himself! Still alive, the tiger-man attacked briefly, before Sithdar ran as fast as he could out of the temple.
Out in the marketplace, Verrof and Telok were having an easier time, shopping and purchasing new gear for the hard quest ahead. They were interrupted by Jerrys falcon of light, who warned them that the paladin was in danger at the temple. They followed its lead, and on the way met Sithdar, who told them the whole story. As the party returned, a crowd was gathered around the temple, and inside, the new paladins and clerics surrounded an unconscious but still alive Jerry. In the air hung a symbol of Orcus wand, made of pure black energy. A similar symbol had been scratched into Jerrys chest, and brought him great pain whenever he moved. Awakened, he told the others what he had seen.
Soon, The Arch-Priestess Karsyla came into the Cathedral, searching for the two comatose characters that Verrof had told her of. Her bodyguards brought the bodies back to the Temple of All Gods, and she fell into a trance to see what could be done for them. As she returned to reality, she told the PCs that a great and epic spell had cast this curse. She could reverse it, but only for one of the two, and at great personal cost to her own self. The characters decided that they should cure Jestyn first, and gave her Gremags swan statue and some gold as payment. Karsyla took the wizard off to her personal chamber, a room of gyrating rainbow lights.
At this time, Jestyn was in hell. Tortured and mutilated while chained to a gigantic pillar, he watched a spike-armored and red-eyed man rip out of his heart and eat it, forcing the wizard to drink his own blood. Meanwhile, he could see Anna Marie being tortured opposite him, a sight that caused him even more pain. Then a brilliant appeared and rescued him, saying that it could not save them both. He even offered to trade his own life for the girls but it (Karsylas avatar) said that the decision had already been made. Jestyn was brought out of the hellish nightmare, and finally awoke. Upon joining the other characters, he demanded to speak with Jerry alone. Here he confessed all of his crimes: the illegal charm spell, the murder, all of it. He repented for his sins and asked Jerrys forgiveness, now wanting only to recover the chalice and save the woman he had grown fond of. He swore to save her, and also to ressurect the other girl when he had the money. Jerry accepted this, knowing that no truly evil man would be sorry for his crimes. Thus, it was decided. In three days time, when the earth blood was ready for Teloks quest, the characters would journey to dreaded Rappan Athuk, where armies died and dark secrets lurked.
DM’S COMMENTS: We had some fun with this introductory adventure, with some excellent role-playing going on, especially with the confession at the end. I look forward to sending the PCs back to Rappan Athuk. They’ll probably breeze through the upper levels, but as they get lower, things will get harder and harder. Stay tuned for some good stuff.