Telok: Elf cleric of Obad-hai, divine disciple, level 10 CG
Jimwise Welby: Halfling Paladin, Level 9 LG
Jerry Springwater: Human Fighter-Paladin-Justicar, Level 10 LG
Jestyn: High Elf Wizard, Level 10 NE
Verrof: Earth Genasi Ranger, Level 8 LN
Sithdar Darkblade: Human Rogue-Assassin, Level 10 NE
ADVENTURE 17: Return of the Justicar: The chamber of earth blood opened up before them, a roiling and writing sea of primordial ooze, churning and pulsating as it constantly changed form and exuded a kind of chemical smell. Of no known color, the earth blood was a strange sight indeed. As the characters gathered it up a little, some decided to test its properties. Jerry stuck his finger into it, and when he took it out, the finger was greatly enlarged and now made of a gray, stony substance, still functional but difficult to move. Sithdar teased Welby, daring him to jump in, and though the paladin considered, he backed out at the last minute, deciding wisely not to test it after a divination from Telok told him that it would likely slay him, although great power could be found. Verrof, very curious about this stuff, decided to come back later in his life and bathe in it. Before the PCs left, several of them could once more feel the sense of being scryed on. After gathering their supply, the PCs left, saying goodbye to the stone guardian and having another Xorn carry them back up the shaft to the main level.
Here, as they rested near the area of the seal, they were met with an ambush. One guard duty, Verrof spotted four skeletons, their bones as black as charcoal, coming from two sides of the passage. Awakening nearby Telok, a battle began. First of all, Telok woke up the others, and then they all joined in the fight. Yet the skeletons were not the only threat, for coming behind them were three menall clearly priests of Orcus! Two were Orcs: one later reveled his name as Staurath, a pale skinned and tattoo-covered orc, the other unnamed one being red skinned and boil-infested. Leading them was the mysterious man in a red cloak and gray maskthe church burner and graveyard defiler. The evil clerics demanded that the PCs surrender their vials of earth blood. When they refused, battle began.
It was a tough fight. An early silence spell crippled Jestyns casting, though Telok was able to get around it with some of his special abilities. Immediately, Sithdar and Verrof were feared by the skeletons, and began to run off. Telok removed Verrofs fear, but Sithdar panicked for the whole battle. The Orcusites were protected from fire, and their leader absorbed magic missiles too, making him a difficult target. Soon the skeletons were all slain, and while Verrof battled the two orcish priests, Jerry ran to fight the red-cloaked leader. Telok summoned a celestial lion, and Jestyn removed his robe, the silenced article, and got ready to cast. Suddenly, Jimwise Welby was killed, instantly slain by a single spell from the red-cloaked man. The evil character then used the same spell on Jerry, who resisted its evil magic. Then, as the lion too attacked the cultist, the PCs got the upper hand. The two orcs were slain, mostly by the hand of Verrof. Jerry struck the final blow to the mystery man, and afterwards, Teloks lion ate his heart out. Upon removing the cultists mask, it was revealed that he was no undead monster but instead a young elf man, who Sithdar recognized as being none other than Tyro Lyadon, former cleric of Nerull, his traveling companion in Rappan Athuk. How he could have become a priest of Orcus, none could say. Jerry decapitated him, taking his head as proof of the cults existence. Tyro also had a note one him, a note from his superior; which told him to stop the heroes at any cost. It told of a man named Korashaag on level four of the dungeon, and also mentioned a mysterious Disciple who dwelt in Nenkal City. It was signed by a High Priest Zehn, some other cleric of Orcus.
After the battle, the characters finished their rest. Yet rest did not come for all. During the night, Jestyn had a strange and horrible dream, where he was once again in his magical hut, sitting with Anna Marie. Another person came inside through the doorthe girl that Jestyn had murdered, now burned to a crisp, an undead glow in her eyes. She came up to Jestyn and accused him of great crimes, insulting and taunting him. Scared, he tried backing off, but to no avail, as the beings appearance changed to that of a man, still undead but with a white mane of hair and a suit of black, spiky armor that radiated pure evil. He claimed that soon, his master would once again walk the land, and that all of Nenkal would suffer. Jestyn had a horrific vision of Orcus himself walking the streets of the city, touching people with his frightful wand. An ocean of bodies practically flooded the streets, and undead came up to walk alongside Orcus. The next morning, all awoke except for Jestyn and Anna Maire, who seemed paralyzed in some kind of coma. Not knowing what had happened, Telok asked his god several divinations, finding that the only thing that could restore the two was a drink from the Chalice of Elenir, which was now In a bastion of great evil. Figuring it must be the monolith, the characters went on, taking the bodies and that of Welby with them. They passed the teleport into the maze, and beyond it found a great rocky chamber, a horrible monolith of pure darkness rising up from a hole in the floor. They could feel the evil pulsating from it, evil greater than any that they had seen before. Behind it, in a small hole, Sithdar searched to find a little shard that had somehow fallen from it. A similar hole was near the front of the black stone. Hesitant to reattach it, the cleric asked his god how to destroy the monolith. Only the sacrifice of a good man would do it, he learned. Jerry stepped forward, ready to open the monolith. The others decided to all follow behind him. As they put the lost shard back into place, the monolith shook, an archway formed for them to enter.
Inside they found an ancient, withered manAbysthor himself. The patriarch told the heroes of his failed quest, how he had been unable to destroy the monolith because he hadnt enough power himself. He said that to destroy it, people of law and good had to sacrifice their life-energy to it, countering the evil power. Jerry volunteered to help, and so did Jimwise, after Abysthor raised him with his staff. Telok did too, but his mind was far too chaotic to affect the monolith. Abysthor decided to sacrifice his own life completely, and told the PCs to take his equipment and use it for good. The three good men placed their hands on white handprints visible all across the interior. They could feel the horrid evil of the place trying to destroy them, seeing images of a demonic horde waiting in hell. Yet they countered these evil thoughts with thoughts of faith and love, pouring their energy into the shadowy stone. First, the monolith drained Abysthor, turning him into but a pile of ash. Yet the monolith was now cracking and breaking apart, as a large chuck fell to the ground, and bright light came streaming in. As the heroes made their sacrifice, they fell to their knees in exhaustion, as the monolith suddenly became translucent, and they could all see endless space outside, and several angelic beings, who thrust their swords into the monolith. There was a bright flash of light, and then the monolith was utterly gone, no sign of it ever exiting present. The two paladins had both lost a good deal of their life energy (one level each!) but had also achieved a kind of enlightened state, feeling at one with their god. (+2 Wisdom).
Feeling heroic, the characters decided it was time to finally slay Gremag, who had built the evil device. They also suspected that the lich had the chalice. First, however, Jerry demanded that they return to Flail, who was still waiting in his tomb, alive. Back at the third level, the two paladins entered the tomb. Flail congratulated Jerry, and then tapped his shoulder. The paladin disappeared in a flash of light, and when he did not reappear, Jimwise went back to the others to discuss what had occurred.
Jerry found himself in a wondrous temple, floating in the far reaches of space, as comets flew past and planets orbited in the distance. On a throne in front of him sat the goddess Muir, a strong and yet feminine figure who urged him forward. Speaking to his mind, she asked him again if he was ready to begin the hard life of the Justicar. He said yes, and took several oaths, abstaining from lies, disguise, material possessions and followers. Finally, she spoke some sacred prayers, and kissed him on the cheek. The paladin felt transformed, surrounded by a holy light. As it poured into him, he felt one with the universe, and could feel the stars themselves orbiting around his soul. Then he returned to Flails tomb, a new mana Justicar, the first for over two thousand years!
Then the hunt for Gremag was on. They exited the dungeon and journeyed to level six through the crystal lake stairway. Resting near the entrance, they prepared to fight the lich. Sithdar was very hesitant, and when another divination revealed that the chalice was not with the lich, he seriously protested. The divination said that the chalice of Elenir was In the depths of the Dungeon of Graves, in a temple to the Prince of Death. Eventually, the PCs deduced that it might be referring to Rappan Athuk, not Gremags lair. Still, Verrof demanded that they kill the undead menace, and so the party went to Gremags tomb. As they broke open the walls to the side of Gremags barrier, ten mummy servants attacked, all easy prey before Abysthors mace and Teloks faith. When Telok stone-shaped the tomb open, he found only an empty room. Gremag had turned invisible and ran out. When Sithdar chased the sound of his footsteps, the rogue was nearly killed by a Phantasmal Killer spell. Still, the cleric was able to cast True Seeing on Welby and Verrof, and the warriors ignored Gremags other protective illusions, attacking. It was a tough fight, but the lich was proven to be very overrated when he was struck by Verrofs disrupting mace and instantly slain. After the battle, amongst various other finds, Sithdar discovered a strange hole in the wall in Gremags tomb. Oddly, it could move around. Even more oddly, he could take the hole and bring it with him. Inside was a lovely statue, some money, and a strange iron flask. Like some super bag of holding, the hole was some kind of storage device. Feeling content with their victory, the heroes began the journey back to Nenkal, victorious in the Tomb of Abysthor, and ready for other adventures.
DM’S COMMENTS: After seventeen sessions, the players have finished the main storyline. The monolith is gone, a new justicar has been born, and even old Gremag is dead (A rather weak lich, because of his multiclassing). Finally, the masked villain is revealed, as none other than former PC Tyro. You’ll remember him if your read my Rappan Athuk campaign journal. Of course, there’s more to be done. To restore their fallen comrades, the PCs may have to venture back into the Dungeon of Graves, and who can say what evil the temple of Orcus has in store for them. There also remains the issue of the mysterious Disciple of Orcus lurking somewhere in the city. Yet for now, we are done with the Tomb of Abysthor. If all goes according to plan, we’ll take a little break from my game and play Halls of the Rainbow Mage, run by another player. Then, it’s back to Rappan Athuk. The PCs are just the right level now to tackle some of the harder fights on the upper levels.