Something Big

Episode 29: An Elemental Ending

by james_a_coursey

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12-13 Kythorn, 1489DR

The ruins of Tyar-Besil
Daesys, Fyrnask, Gorbek, Wraith

After deliberating during a short rest in the room of the recently killed sea hag Thuluna, Lieutenant to Gar Shatterkeel, prophet of the Water Cult, the Heroes of Phandalin decided to press on northward to Shatterkeel himself, avoiding rooms marked with red X’s on a map found in Thuluna’s chambers thought to be locations where human cultists were stationed. Daesys would lead the way forward, while Gorm would put his nautical knowledge to use to repair the boat back at the shore and make his way along the underground river to the entrance below Rivergard Keep.

Heading north, the party got the drop on four water cultists and made short work of them before they could ring a large gong announcing the party’s presence. As soon as the cultists were dead, their bodies tossed in the nearby water, the lizardfolk leader Tornscale arrived with his lizardfolk warriors, maddened with the beginning of the uprising against Shatterkeel. He and his men opened a door to a room with more cultists, and a battle ensued, the lizardfolk not doing so well against the cultists. The party joined in and quickly turned the tide. A lizardman turned on the party afterward, but Tornscale was able to intimidate him into calming down.

Again heading northward, the party found the large door blocking the entrance to Shatterkeel’s room. A symbol of the water cult barred the door, Gorbek announcing that the symbol could likely be a magical trap. The party told the lizardfolk to go on ahead, hoping to use them as cannon fodder to open the door, but fortunately they knew the gesture that would deactivate the symbol and open the door.

Crossing the bridge into Shatterkeel’s room, a short conversation followed, with Shatterkeel predictably trying to get the party to surrender or face certain death. The party quickly got the upper hand, as Wraith was able to use the magical boomerang gifted by Aerisi to stun Shatterkeel, who was then attacked by the party, forcing him to drop his magical trident, Drowned. Fyrnask kicked the weapon into the water hoping to keep it from Shatterkeel’s reach, but saw the weapon floating away, retrieved it from the water and landed the killing blow on Shatterkeel.

The lizardmen, excited by the death of Shatterkeel, thought Thuluna to be victorious and the new leader of the Cult, but upon seeing the hag’s severed head instead decided that the party were the rightful leaders of the cult. Fyrnask and Daesys swam through a secret passage, finding treasure, some spell scrolls and two bags of dwarven books, later revealed by Gorbek to be the remaining lost books of Bruldenthar, which were put into Wraith’s bag of holding for safe keeping.

The party sent Tornscale and his lizardfolk to root out the rest of the cultists giving them Thuluna’s head to help sway the previously seen trolls to help them in the battle, after he helpfully led the heroes through the eastern part of the Water Cult part of the ruins to the entrance to the Earth Cult. The party took a short rest, and Gorbek meditated on Gar’s trident, Drowned. He knew it to be a powerful weapon, with some discomforting aura about it.

In the earth cult area, the party encountered two beasts that Fyrnask and Wraith knew to be landsharks, and avoided them by heading west. They entered the room of a two-headed ogre known as Broog and Norb. Gorbek pitted the two against one another, and the party killed the ogre. They found a huge, hundred-foot chasm tearing through the center of the ruins, so instead headed southwest.

They came across a torture chamber inhabited by a humanoid covered in stony, armored skin, with one Earth and one Air cultist in cages to be tortured. The heroes made short work of the humanoid, revealed to be Miraj, Lieutenant of the Earth Cult. They decided to let the air cultist remain in the cage, giving her food and water, and set Orna, the Earth cultist, free of her cage, giving her her plate armor (found in the room) but not her sword. She led the party past the sleeping landsharks, calming them, and across the chasm, avoiding another pair of landsharks with her help.

Toward the north end of the Earth Cult area, they encountered Nartham, Orna’s lover and Earth cultist, and his hobgoblin soldiers. A fight followed, the party killing the hobgoblins and Nartham, but not before he could kill Orna, who with her dying breath told the party to continue left, always left. The party looted two sets of plate armor, but found that they were a bit too heavy for Wraith to use and not quite dwarvish enough to suit Gorbek’s taste.

Heading west, they found a statue of a huge boulder monster looming over the broken remains of a more ancient dwarf statue. Beyond that was a staircase spiraling downward, wrapped around a huge, square obsidian column descending into the blackness below. As they began their downward climb an alarm rang out with the roar of a giant. Fearing what might lie ahead, the party returned to the Earth Cult area and spent the night in a barricaded room without issue. Gorbek used the night to attune to Drowned, waking covered in barnacles and feeling an insatiable lust for gold.

In the morning, or as close to it as the party could reckon, they headed down the spiral staircase. At the bottom they found the sarcophagus of an ancient dwarf hero called Hendril Foebreaker, inscribed with the words “BOW YOUR HEAD AND REMEMBER VALOR.” Upon bowing their heads, the party felt emboldened, and ventured forward.

The next room contained two giants engaged in a game of tic-tac-toe. The losing giant invited the party to play for a wager, and feeling that tug of greed, Gorbek obliged and, driven mad by his gold-hunger, managed to lose against the dimwitted creature. He demanded his gold back, and a battle followed, the party killing the giants though taking some damage in the process. Realizing that the trident was leading Gorbek to act unusual, the rest of the party worked to convince him to drop the weapon. He did so, and cast a spell to remove his attunement from the cursed weapon, having prepared the spell in advance with the knowledge that it might wind up being evil beyond his control. The trident was placed in the bag of holding and the party continued forward.

They found a black, impenetrable cloud of magical smoke, and boldly rushed through, finding themselves in another chamber with five entrances, four blocked by the black smoke. In the center of the chamber stood a black statue to the tentacled God of Elemental Evil. Guessing that the party had found the Fane of the Eye and that the four smoke-filled passages connected to each of the four elemental areas, they continued through the clear passage.

Before them stood a blunted pyramid structure topped by the altar to the God of Elemental Evil created by Vizeran DeVir – they had found the Fane of the Eye. But, before them stood Aerisi, Prophet of the Air Cult, with her Lieutenant the bard Windharrow, a pair of cultist monks, and a bound and gagged hostage, surrounded by pools of water topped by burning oil. Aerisi asked the heroes to kill the hostage and join her in serving Elemental Evil, but instead the battle was joined. The party attempted to sway Windharrow to their side to no avail, and despite sustaining heavy damage from Aerisi’s chain lightning and hurricane spells (with Gorbek twice going unconscious but healed by Daesys and stabilized once more by Wraith), were able to kill her, Daesys landing the final blow. Fyrnask told Windharrow to surrender or be killed, but he vanished from the battlefield, not to be seen again.

The party looted Aerisi’s spear, and left through the Earth Cult area to Sacred Stone Monastery, meeting up with Gorm and heading to Summit Hall to tell Lady Ushien Stormhammer of their success.

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