Sunday, June 30, 2013

Akwamu's way, pt. 3

The evil priest lay unconscious at our feet. We stripped him of his armour and belongings, many of which had the look of items of quality, and bound him securely. We noticed that his entire body was scarified—no doubt the result of some foul ritual.
City guard: "I used to be an adventurer like you..."
Credit: Windmaker
      Upon emerging from the warehouse, we found four town guards waiting for us. They claimed that they had been sent to our last known location to arrest The Hammer on charges of treason: it was alleged that he was a spy for a foreign power. In our haste to report our findings to the clerics of St Cuthbert, we allowed the guards to depart with our comrade, hoping to sort this obvious misunderstanding out later. As it turned out, we misjudged our peril in the moment of our victory, for we would soon learn that these were no city guards and that we had been deceived.
      The clerics of St Cuthbert and paladins of Heironeous listened to our story and recognized the name Oeridien. He was an archmage who lived long ago, before the Cataclysm, and who went insane and joined forces with a necromancer. We now had to ponder our next move, but as it was late and the guard commander had not yet arrived, we settled down to rest—another mistake born of complacency, for we assumed that we would be secure in the midst of the clerics. But it was not so: in the middle of the night, the church compound was attacked. Bakari, who had taken the wise precaution of sleeping near the prisoner, awoke to strange sounds and muffled cries. No one responded to his hails, so he set forth to find answers, only to find several of the priest of St Cuthbert dead or unconscious in the halls. When he returned to the gaol, he saw that our prisoner was
Oeridien
dead—beheaded, in fact.
     By this time, the rest of us were awake. (I might have woken sooner, but Davos's deafening snores blocked out the commotion.) It turns out that most of the priests had fled in panic when the attackers struck. It also became apparent that our attackers had been invisible. We quickly enlisted the clerics to aid us in our search for answers, first by using their divine spells to detect the presence of any remaining evildoers and then by communicating magically with the corpse of our prisoner. We also had them employ their various powers of divination. Here is what we discovered:

  • the cultists of Nerull had already gathered the four ingredients for the ritual (blood from a dragon, a vampire, a deva, and an old god)
  • they were gathering near Koidarra, the old capital of Artuare, to perform the ritual
  • their goal was to achieve "true death and rising"
Unable to rest, Bakari went to seek out the guard commander while I remained with Davos, who needed to rest so as to prepare some much-needed spells. Synast also went forth, returning to the inn at the sign of the Hopping Leprechaun. Both came away with unexpected news. Bakari learned that the guard commander had not ordered The Hammer's arrest and that a great fire had been set in the slum district just about the time that the temple of St Cuthbert was attacked, no doubt a diversion to keep the real city guards busy. Meanwhile, Synast was approached by a mysterious woman who claimed she knew of our purpose and had valuable information for us.
     The following day, with Davos having identified several useful magical items we'd taken from the cultists' headquarters, we set forth to meet Synast's contact: Alinestra. We were all shaken by the deceptions and treacheries of the last day and so were understandably suspicious of her, Bakari most of all. Alinestra, too, was initially tightlipped and reluctant to say much. But little by little we came to an agreement to work together.
Alinestra
      Alinstra is a cleric from a temple devoted to Wee Jas. It was from her temple that the cultists acquired the blood of a god, in the form a living being who is "god-blooded." This person, likewise a cleric, had voluntarily joined the cultists, presumably for self-interested reasons. Over the last six years, Alinestra has been investigating the cult and seeking the traitor to her temple. In that time she has killed several creatures like the one we fought below the streets of Bahor. Perhaps nine now remain.
      We agreed to allow Alinestra to study the book of Oeridien, and in return she divulged more of what she knew of the cult. The purpose of the ritual was to bring Oeridien back to life. Long ago, Oeridien had been a follower of Pelor, but after the tragic death of his family during a war between humans and elves, he went mad and turned to evil. He was wont to kidnap people and sacrifice them to Nerull, then raised them as zombies. He acquired powerful followers from the church of Hextor by promising them great power. One of these was a half-demon priest named Kirenifor. At one point, he is said to have constructed a great airship out of the bones and skins of his victims.
      Though our enemies now have the four ingredients for the ritual, they yet lack one crucial thing: the body of Oeridien. According to Alinestra, the latter is located near the old capital and this is why we must go there at once. If we can prevent the evil ones from retrieving the body, we can prevent the return of Oeridien.
      One more revelation awaited us. Bakari now informed us all that he had formerly been a martial follower of Hextor who had repented of his ways after being resurrected by that dark god's agents. Now this follower of St Cuthbert is being drawn, with the rest of us, into a confrontation with the worshippers of Nerull and Hextor. As a hero of legend once said, "This time, it's personal."

Loot:

*chain maille
*ring of protection +1
*cloak of resistance +1
*flail
*periapt of wisdom +2
sack of gold
*wand of shocking grasp