6) Grasp of the Emerald Claw


Adventure: Grasp of the Emerald Claw
Session: 2007-04-15, 2007-04-28
Player: Rachel Reddick
PC: Taris Talandro
Status: Ninja 1/Swashbuckler 3/Ninja +4/Duelist 1

What have I gotten myself into? The gnome — Feralis, or whatever he’s calling himself now — seems to be some sort of psychic beacon, since he’s got a whole bunch of crazed people who want to follow his every whim, including this half-orc named Ankya. Well, except for Ankya, they’re trying to carry the gray render back to Stormreach… like that’ll work… since the gray render won’t fit in the airskiff. This is, of course, at Allia’s request.

And then there’s Blaze. He’s still at it with all this stuff about propriety and “fair lady” and “dear sir” stuff. Huh. I wonder why he bothers. I go to a great deal of effort to not act particularly ladylike.

***

I have reached a conclusion. Specifically, everyone I’m traveling with is completely insane, with the possible exception of Sovalem. We already knew Mike was crazy. Swear off magic items? Pah. That, and he always seems to be the first to be struck by whomever we’re fighting…

First off, the druid, Anson, decided that he wanted to “explore the wonders of nature” for a little while. In the jungles of Xen’drick, no less!

We were traveling north from Stormreach, originally planning on heading back to Sharn… when we received a magical message from Viorr Malik. We learned that Breland had fallen to the Lord of Blades… and that now-occupied Breland was attacking Thrane! Ack!

While we were flying past Sharn (from quite a ways away) we could see the smoke. It seems as though the fires are still burning there. And Feralis (or whoever) was perfectly willing to drop that kalashtar — what’s his name? — over the side just to have a look. And he was willing to go, if his master wished it. Insane. Blaze even checked to see if he was being compelled against his will, which he wasn’t. Crazy, both of them. Blaze ended up just flying over (magic has its uses) to have a closer look. He says he saw… well… warforged…

In any case, we’re now headed to Flamekeep.

***

Flamekeep. Kahlia visits here fairly often. Praise the Flame, Sovalem consented to “adjust” my appearance a bit. He also disguised Allia, so she looks a little less… dead.

We did pass by Kahlia in Flamekeep. Considering everything that’s been going on, I’m not surprised she’s here. She gave me a funny look, but kept on going, thankfully.

Blaze, I think it was, said something about making up with my relatives. Oh, that’ll go over well. I think that can be put off until later.

In any case, after a lot of wandering around and trouble, we learned that the king of Breland is dead, but there’s still some members of the royal family around, and Viorr Malik is, of course, here as well. A lot of people from Breland fled to Thrane.

It seems that Karrnath is now allied with Thrane against warforged Breland, and that Aundair is being all neutral. Stupid magicians hiding behind their towers while we make agreements with undead and necromancers to keep the crazed warforged from conquering Khorvair. This is not what I had planned to do when I first left home…

In any case, Malik had a task for us: go and deal with an important warforged lieutenant, and knock out a bridge near the Mournlands, to slow the advance of the warforged. Sounds good to me.

***

This airskiff is highly useful. Being well above everything keeps you from being attacked.

However, Sovalem decided to show off his talent for a bit, so we few between a number of trees for a little while… until we were attacked by a bunch of vines. Vines! One of them even pulled me off the airskiff. I landed on the creature, so I was fine. These new bracers I’ve got came in handy — pointed me right towards a vulnerable spot I can’t usually see at all. We managed to deal with all of them, although at the end, Ankya was looking a little strange… almost as if she were going to go after me for lack of a better target. Ugh. Feralis, or whatever that gnome’s name is, and his following are rather disturbing.

After that, Sovalem declined not to fly too low, although Allia wanted a closer look at a hydra we passed. I’d rather not get snapped at by one of those heads unnecessarily.

We reached the lieutenant’s keep, and approached the entrance. I was all for doing something a little less direct, but, well, this group includes a nine going-on 210 halfing girl, a crazed gnome, and a paladin. Subtlety is not their style.

The first this that happaned was someone let a huge dinosaur — a tyranosaurus rex! — out of the gate at us. Killing it was straightforward. While that was going on, Sovalem did something… he made a large tornado-type thing, and it smashed up the keep pretty well. We were all in the eye, of course. I guess dragonmarks have their perks.

In any case, something survived all that (although a large number of warforged apparently did not) and taunted us. Right.

Meanwhile, Anson showed up. He’d gotten Blaze’s message a while back, and had been flying over when he saw Sovalem’s unnatural tornado. Allia was distracted by the deceased dinosaur… I knew she would want to do something with it. And the gnome joined her for tea. The insanity…

Except for Allia, the gnome and their undead and living followings respectively, we went into the keep. I tried to suggest caution, but gave up eventually. It just doesn’t seem to work with these people, except for Sovalem. Of course, he had his troubles, too.

We first found a caged gold dragon. A young one, by their standards, whatever those are. He was named Andrexanezmanel, but he said that calling him Adrexan would work. Apparently, the dragons in Argonessen are concerned about what’s going on, but don’t want to interfere. Adrexan, however, thought he ought to help or at least find out what’s going on, but was captured. We apparently prevented him from being used in some terrible arcane experiment. I don’t even want to know what they had planned to do with him.

Blaze tried to break the lock on the cage (the cage was adamantine, to keep the dragon in), but was rewarded by a blast of fire from a trap. Smart. Sovalem shattered the lock with a spell, and Adrexan did the rest on his own. He flew off to warn the other dragons, and perhaps bring back some to aid us. All the better.

After that, we fought the lieutenant, who wasn’t a warforged at all, but some sort of very strange, disgusting creature. Ugh. I felt that this would be a good time to use that dagger I keep in my left boot, but the poison didn’t do any good. At least I still have a dose of the good stuff left.

Having killed that unnatural thing, we checked the rest of the keep. Sovalem checked the door to the room at the foot of the tower for traps, didn’t find any, and then promptly walked in and set off another trap, which caused the room around him to start shrinking. Between him, Blaze, and Anson wildshaped into a rhinocerous, they were able to bash the door down before he started being crushed.

The only item of note we found was an amulet in a chest. Blaze said that it radiated a powerful aura of evil. And reading the note with it, I’m not surprised. It said that this kept the vampire Lucan (whom Anson and Mike met before) under the power of the Lord of Blades. And presumably whatever allies Lucan has as well. Not good.

Once we were sure that there was nothing else of import in the keep, we took as many of the adamantine shards from the cage as we could (Adrexan broke it up pretty well, and adamantine is valuable stuff).

We took a quick detour to destroy the bridge, which was handily done by Anson’s earth elementals, with some help from Blaze. That paladin seems to be all about the most direct, forcefull way of doing things. I’ll admit, I’m not much at chopping through stone.

I’m writing this on the airskiff. And by the Flame, Allia’s new tyranosaurus skeleton is keeping pace. Watching her and that monster drink tea earlier… no one will ever believe I have seen a tyrannosaurus drinking tea.

We’re going back to the ziggurat where they found Lucan before, and we’re going to face him. If he’s still there, then I have no respect for him. I mean, what sort of person stays in the same hideout for months after it’s been discovered?

In any case, we don’t want to have this vampire on the side of the Lord of Blades. Although, it does sound as though he’s not willing, since this amulet is necessary. The party is divided on what’s best to do. If we destroy it, we simply release Lucan, and then, who knows what he’ll do. We’re probably going to end up killing (or unkilling?) Lucan and whatever minions he’s gathered.

That does worry me, though. Apparently, Lucan killed two former members of this group. I worry that they’ll be part of his entourage. In any case, it even sounds as though Lucan might not have wanted to become a vampire in the first place. But chances are, if we were simply to free him from the Lord of Blades’ control, he would go about his own evil agenda. And then there’s Allia… evidence that not all undead are utterly evil.

And Thrane is allied with Karrnath in all of this. The enemy of my enemy…

I remember how the survivors looked after meeting Lucan — not good. And my brothers, after returning from a vampire-hunting expedition. Tired, drained, but ultimately successful in their case. I’m not in competition with them, really I’m not, but maybe… maybe if this all works out, my family will recognize that I don’t have to be a cleric or a high-and-mighty paladin to do good.

They’ll probably want me to pay back that money I took when I left. Oh, well.

Player’s Notes

Considering we’re getting close to the end of the campaign, it might be nice to tie up Taris’s familial issues at the end of this. At least partly, anyway.

Now, being epsilon away from 10th level, Domenic has declared this close enough. I think I’ll just take the next level of ninja, since that involves more chances to be invisible, more sudden strike, and more tumbling excitement. +21 tumble => 4/5 chance of being able to tumble through enemy spaces. Hm…

Also, Taris put a dose of “the good stuff” on her dagger. Just in case the vampire employs something nasty and susceptible. Probably when she thought nobody was looking…

Adventure: Grasp of the Emerald Claw
Session: 2007-04-08
Player: Rachel Reddick
PC: Taris Talandro
Status: Ninja 1/Swashbuckler 3/Ninja +4

Well, we’ve gotten back to Stormreach, and Xame has decided to part ways with us. Something about “G” telling him to haul himself to the headquarters of House Jorasco. I don’t think I’ll ever really understand clerics.

In any case, we’ve managed to resupply, and I’ve found some bracers that might help me find the vulnerabilities of people who are undead, warforged or both. We’ve also found a pilot for our airskiff—Sovalem d’Lyrander. He seems competent, but finding a pilot in the most drunk patron of a tavern bothers me a bit. He did sober up quickly when we said we wanted a pilot, though. He’s got a dragonmark, too, presumably from House Lyrander, although I wouldn’t know the difference. While he was still inebriated, he said something about being shunted off here due to a romance that his parents disapproved of. Something about rules about relations between dragonmarked houses and noble families being pretty strict. Ridiculous. And can I sympathize. Parents tend to meddle a lot where they’re only going to make their children more miserable.

While we were there, we were joined by a strange little gnome. He carries a large number of very large swords around on a disk that floats behind him. That, and he goes by a different name every day. One day he’s Feralis, the next day he’s Zentar… how confusing. I don’t see a point in changing your name unless you’re trying to avoid someone, which he apparently isn’t. Hm. In any case, when Solvalem first tried the air skiff, he did a loop (which was great fun), but Feralis couldn’t hold on, so he cast something to make him fall slowly, then caught him in the air skiff. Very impressive. Now that we’ve recovered a bit, we’re all returning to the temple by air skiff, to deal with, to use the overused cliché, “unfinished business.”

***

By the Flame, somebody’s got it in for me.

We returned to the temple, and the first person we met wasn’t undead or warforged or even associated with them. He’s a paladin of the Silver Flame, by the name of Blaze. Oh, (curse in Infernal) paladins. Yes, they serve an important purpose, but do I have to be around them all the time? I was trying to avoid them! He even noticed my pendant and asked if I were a member of the clergy… yikes. I hope he hasn’t met any of my relatives… pretty much all of them visit Flamekeep from time to time on business. I don’t know what would be worse—associating me with them or with Uncle Korref. Probably Korref, considering how he reacted to Alia…

Ah, yes, Alia. After Blaze joined us, we all went in to counter the grave threat posed by the Emerald Claw and Lord of Blades, and so on and so forth. We did not find anyone associated with them at first. Instead, we met an adorable little halfling girl having tea with a few friends. Or rather, she would be adorable if she weren’t an undead necromancer having tea with a bunch of skeletons. And she even had the old undead gray render with her! Blaze’s first reaction was to destroy all the weak undead, leaving Alia and the gray render. Alia was unhappy about this, and threw a cup of tea at him. (I’ll never cease to be amused by the image of the tough paladin with tea on his armor.) After Sovalem restrained Blaze enough to calm him down, Alia explained that her parents were members of the Blood of Vol who’d done this to her when she was around ten. Horrific. I did mention that parents do a lot of terrible things to their children, even when they mean well, right? Ugh. I have some sympathy for her… although I won’t get too close. And I suspect that standing between her and Blaze is a very bad idea.

In any event, the lot of us decided to climb up the throne and see what had happened in our absence. Alia hadn’t seen anything while she was… having tea. I don’t want to think about where she got her friends. In any case, once at the top, we found an apparently magically-warped section of floor which had remains from a number of different races all sort of blended into each other… disturbing. And there were large blocks and strange equipment everywhere… leading up to this giant warforged… he wasn’t undead, and he said his name was Xulo. He wasn’t very clear (he’s not very bright) but it seems like the Emerald Claw and the Lord of Blades needed the last schema in order to activate him, and that they planned to control him… and failed miserably. We ended up attacking him, since he seemed to have vague plans of gaining power and tried to whack us first.

I must note that I’ve figured out what Feralis (Zentar? Whatever name he’s using) does with those swords on a floating disk. He throws them at things, with some kind of mental power. Very impressive.

In any case, we nearly killed Xulo, and he started begging for mercy. I would have been fine giving it to him, except one of Alia’s minions (some undead flying thing) didn’t stop attacking him. Blaze fixed him up a bit after he was knocked out, and Xulo seemed… recalcitrant. After convincing him that there were a lot of people out there as tough to beat as we are, we managed to calm him down. We even managed to convince him to try to tell us about himself. Based on what he said and some history that Sovalem remembered, he was probably some sort of spirit from the dream-plane or something created by them, and intended to be housed in this warforged body to fight against the giants by the people from the dream-plane—the quori, I think Sovalem called them. In any case, they were at war with the giants, and the giants kept them from invading our plane, at the cost of the loss of their civilization. And this all happened 38,000 years ago! It’s almost unbelievable that something from then could have survived so long. We’re going to try to convince Xulo to visit the giants. Maybe he can learn something more about himself from them.

Then again, maybe they’ll just destroy him out of fear or something. I don’t know what the giants thought about warforged, and if they think that all warforged are evil, well, I don’t know if this is such a good idea. But it’s been so long… and maybe they’ll be open-minded. Right. And people in Thrane don’t still dislike lycanthropes. I should probably point this out.

Player’s Notes

Yay, 9th level! Time for the first level of duelist, methinks. And then there’s the question of feat… I had planned to take Improved Two-Weapon Fighting (additional skewering = good), but, given the setting, she really needs something to help with the smacking of undead and constructs, against which she is not particularly good. Hence, deathstrike bracers! Use a swift action to activate them, and she can use her sudden strike ability. But wait, she can only use that if she’s got the drop on them… and that only happens if she gets high initiative or goes invisible. The former is chancy, and the latter requires… a swift action! So she can’t be invisible and use the deathstrike bit in the same round. Irritating. But Domenic says there’s a way to use up two chances to be invisible, and stay invisible twice as long, and thereby get a chance to sudden strike stuff… by taking a feat. Gah!

Taris really hopes that Blaze has never heard the name “Talandro.” Of course, she hasn’t mentioned her last name to him yet… and will probably avoid doing so. But if he has, and relatives are concerned about her whereabouts, that could get interesting.

That said, this whole paladin-vs.-necromancer bit is going to be highly entertaining.

Adventure: Grasp of the Emerald Claw
Sessions: 2007-04-09
Player: Dave Zhang
PC: Blaze
Status: Paladin 2 / Cleric 6

Dangers of Xen’drik

The fourteen-year-old girl waited expectantly in her chambers for some fifteen minutes. She did so every night, for she did not want to risk missing the message; the rest of the palace was blocked against magic of such nature, and it was only through her own subversion that it was possible in here.

The visage of Jermon, a.k.a. Blaze, appeared before her at the expected time.

“At ruins of ancient temple. Joined up with group of adventurers; they’ve dealt with Emerald Claw previously. Encountered ancient warforged from Age of Giants; reanimated from schemas. Miss you.”

Jaela paused for a moment to gaze at her friend’s form before responding. “Boranel calling banners from Wroat. Diani sent personal knights to assist with situation; likely trying to befriend Breland. Sent Adinlan after them. I miss you.”

As the image of her knight flickered away, Jaela wished resentfully (and not for the first time) that Jermon would just once not speak of “important” matters on these nightly calls, and just spend some time talking to her. Really, there’s rarely much of absolute import that Jermon had to speak to her of: The Inner Guard he provided for her was much more effective than him at uncovering and delivering world news, and even barring those, Jaela finds out quite a lot just from the official channels.

Plus, Jaela scryed on her friend multiple times every day, and was in general aware of his adventures and misadventures. “After all,” reasoned Jaela, “I can’t have that fool getting himself killed again.”

Still, today was more eventful for Jermon than most though.

(Morning)

Blaze emerges from his Rope Trick extradimensional space, and after stretching a bit, proceeds to create water, using his inverted shield as a bowl. After washing his hands and face a bit, he releases his shield, and bid it to protect him. He then summons a horse, and takes off in a gallop, following the river.

(Mid-afternoon)

Blaze appears to be in a ruined temple of the cyclopean variety, and was currently brandishing his Flame-touched holy symbol. Across from him, a girl (if she could be called that, for she was clearly undead) stands angrily and throws a cup of liquid at him. The liquid hit the paladin, but he did not cringe–Jaela wasn’t sure if that meant the liquid was *not* unholy water, or if Blaze was just being macho again.

Blaze’s companions mediates for a bit, and Blaze eventually turns away from the necromancer girl and towards a large stone column rising some 150 feet into the air. He casts a spell, and then flies straight up, as his companions clamber up the sides.

The top of the column leads to a new floor, which was strewn with bloody body parts. A giant warforged paces around, converses with the group for some time, before launching a large pile of rubble at one of Blaze’s human companions.

At this, Blaze casts a spell and transforms into a cervidal, and then charges toward the living construct. Jaela tsk tsked. “He’s going to get himself killed again sooner or later if he doesn’t curb that reckless attitude of his.”

An mental alarm went off in Jaela’s mind at this moment though, and she quickly dismissed the spell from her basin of water. Time already for the meeting with Breland’s ambassador.

(evening)

Blaze and the others (including the undead necromancer) have set up camp besides what looked to be a shoddy airship. They are gathered around a cooking fire, and converse with one another–with Blaze pointedly ignoring the undead girl. A large marsupial zombie lurks in the background, but does not attack.

Jaela grew bored of the scene quickly, and walked to the library to find a diverting book to read.

Player’s Notes:

Obviously, Adinlan is one of the Inner Guard.

Trying a non-standard method of recording events now.

Adventure: Grasp of the Emerald Claw
Session: 2007-04-01
Player: Rachel Reddick
PC: Taris
Status: Ninja 1/Swashbuckler 3/Ninja +4

What a day! We continued exploring after meeting the scorpion. Atronach met up with us. He’d gotten bored with watching the prisoners, and considering the amount of fighting we’d been doing, we could use all the help we can get.

We decided to take the other staircase up, letting the gray render zombie (ugh) go first; we saw a group of Emerald Claw soldiers working with some kind of mechanism to open a large door. Xame snuck forward to get a better look, and did just fine since they were all distracted. We decided that the safest course of action was to let them open the door. When they did, a huge wave of water promptly washed out over us. We all were pushed down the stairs; Murani, Eldon and all of the soldiers fell off the temple’s edge. Eldon used feather fall on himself and Murani; the soldiers all perished. Convenient.

Inside was more than knee-deep in water. Anson thought that there must be some connection to the water plane inside, which is where the water kept pouring from. We met some strange sort of undead creature, which looked like a drowned elf. We started to attack it… and it had some sort of aura which made the air like water. I stabbed at it, and a moment or two later, I made the bad move of trying to breathe. The next thing I know, Mike is hauling me out of the water. They had dealt with the undead while I was busy drowning, which made the air breathable again.

We found the sources of water—Mike even went into one, which he said was like a huge ocean—but the only other item of interest was a discovery that Eldon made. He had a flash of insight, and looked through the golden hoop-crystal object we found, and discovered that he could use it to read the glyphs on the ziggurat in this chamber. Something about a parable involving terrible lizards and the names of three dragon constellations. We looked at the other ziggurat, the one of the second floor, and it had another parable and a different three dragons. I wonder how that fits in.

Well, we next went up the stairs to the top. We dealt with the guards at the top, only killing one and tying up the rest. They told us that the rest of the group was divided into two parts in the top level—one part lead by a warforged, and the other part lead by, apparently, a vampire. I hate undead.

Eldon and Xame tried to listen at the first door we came to, and got whacked by a ward for their trouble. It looks like it was just placed there to protect more of the Emerald Claw’s supplies. We found another unoccupied room, and now that we’ve cleaned a skeleton out of the closet, we’re staying here for the night. There is one strange thing about this room, though. There’s a mosaic in here, and if you examine it from the right distance, you can see that the figure in it looks a great deal like a warforged. Except the picture is as old as the temple, I’ll bet. Perhaps the idea of warforged is older than we thought. That’s probably why the schema is here… somewhere.

***

And I thought yesterday was exciting.

We began to continue our exploration of the upper level. We found a very large open-air chamber, with a huge throne in it. Near the throne was a rotund woman, apparently in distress, who said that she was an archaeologist being forced to work for the warforged. She seemed genuine, but the whole setup was suspicious. No one was guarding her…

When we got to what was apparently “close enough,” she ran behind the throne, and stuff started happening. A large group of warforged and zombies came from a hall to our right, and between them, they fired an arrow into Eldon, knocking him out, and another arrow with a bunch of acid, and some caster or another put up a wall of lightning that zapped me and Xame, in addition to blocking our attackers from view. Then this four-armed insectoid undead THING jumped OVER the twenty foot wall! I can jump, but not that well. Eek.

Well, the first thing Mike did was try to go after the woman. I was similarly inclined, but decided that the undead bug should probably be skewered first. I tried to go around it, to be closer to chasing Mike and to leave a line of fire open for everyone else, but the bug managed to get me as I went by. Usually I can dodge that sort of thing, but… oh, dear… well, it stopped me in my tracks. Mother always told me to stand straight, but I don’t think this is what she intended. I couldn’t move, at all. I did get to listen to everything that was going on… until something dropped from above us, and I couldn’t move to avoid it, and I blacked out.

Did I mention that I hate undead?

I think I owe Xame a huge favor. Both Murani and Eldon were killed by the falling object and more acid. I would have been dead as well, several times over, apparently. I’m glad I wasn’t conscious for that. Xame cast some sort of spell on me that kept me from dying, and then he and Anson cast a large number of healing spells.

I should try to get a new set of clothes in Stormreach. The ones I’m wearing now have been slashed by assorted drow, soldiers, and undead, and then soaked in acid for a while. Not really presentable, and not very far from falling apart, either.

By the time I was back on my feet, most of our enemies had been dealt with. Since Eldon was dead, the gray render zombie was out of control and being distracted by Anson’s summoned creatures. I knew having that thing around was a bad idea, even though everyone else says it did a good job at slowing down the other undead. Atronach was dead now, too… killed by Xame. Apparently our artificer was a traitor following the Lord of Blades, and changed sides when things looked worst for us. Horrible. I was sure that he was an example of a warforged who was neither insane nor evil.

In any case, those of us still living were in fairly bad shape. We took a large number of useful objects off of the deceased, and Mike was able to carry back Eldon’s acid-eaten remains. Poor Murani. I hope she and Eldon join the Flame and find peace. I have no such pity for Atronach.

We’re heading back to Stormreach now. We’re having to tow the air skiff, since none of us is sure how to pilot it. Also, Xame managed to blow something up from Eldon’s pack and damage a good fraction of the items we managed to salvage.

We’re in trouble now, in any case. Three of us are dead… one not a real loss… and the Emerald Claw, warforged and company, have free access to the temple while we heal our wounds and try to find more help.

This should only be a temporary setback. We’ll still keep the Lord of Blades from getting the schema and doing who-knows-what with it. I hope.

Player’s Notes

All that, and still just short of 9th level. So much fun stuff that level… sigh… oh well.

I do hope we end up getting the schema somehow. Otherwise, I suspect we’ll end up having to take out the Lord of Blades, which will probably be a pound of cure.

This session was Taris’s turn to play “you can’t kill me… I have cool friends!” instead of Mike. Knocked out twice, whew. And Scott just seems to have no luck with his characters…

Dave—as a thought, you ought to add to your death statistics (I’m guessing this is true)…

Record for most negative hit points survived: Taris (-38)

Adventure: Grasp of the Emerald Claw
Sessions: 2007-02-18, 2007-03-04, 2007-03-14, 2007-04-01
Player: Michael Busch
PC: Mike
Status: Monk 7-9

The stormtalon landed lightly on the edge of the ledge in front of the rookery, back from a patrol of his flock’s section of the river. The evening debate was to begin, and there came the ritual request for new stories. The stormtalon spoke and, as he did, the flock burst into laughter, which stopped after a while.

On the river, I saw a river-boat propelled by an elemental. I think the captain is the same one who tried to run a con on us five years back, although the vessel is now trailing an airskiff. Normally, I’d have given it a wide bearth, but night had fallen and the fair-haired human on watch was talking to himself in Tuilvilanuue, incredibly well for one with such a throat. So I answered, softly, and we spoke without disturbing the rest of the people on the boat.

He calls himself Anethilzair Mykispar. I hear by your laughter that you remember the name: he was the orc who visited the Rifinti a couple of weeks ago, and showed himself to be a reincarnation of a wing-clawed from the monasteries that used to be in Cyre. It seems that the gods have ordained that he die another time, and have made him a human in this life. I’m not sure which of his last two bodies is worse, but I wonder what he will be if and when he passes this way again.

He and his companions pursued forces of the Emerald Claw to the Giant Temple in the south. It seems that the Emerald Claw has allied itself with the Lord of Blades, and they pursue relics of power here, not being content with the havoc they have wrought in Khorvaire.

Anethilzair and his companions were defeated, by poison and betrayal, and forced to return to Stormreach to re-supply and re-group. He warned me that the Emerald Claw force was not completely destroyed, and that he suspected some ancient predecessor to the warforged lay dormant in the temple. We should avoid it still, even though the Drow that lived there are all dead.

There are changes in the world outside our jungle. We will hopefully be passed by, but the last of the Mykispar monks has asked that we do one thing. If any leave the temple before he returns, and we can make it to Stormreach before they would and without hazard, he asks for a message.

* * *

Player’s Notes:

Raptorans have keen ears, and with the party so diminished, this device seems reasonable.

Domenic has given us several options for what to do next in the campaign, not all of which involve Mike returning to the temple, but he would vote very strongly for doing so. I personally do want to know exactly who was on the throne (I suspect changeling, but we killed and burned Garrow once already, and would an undead changeling be able to change form?)

Adventure: Grasp of the Emerald Claw
Sessions: 2007-03-04, 2007-03-14
Player: Dave Zhang
PC: Xame
Status: Rogue 1 / Cleric 4 / Divine Oracle 3

The mole reveals himself

Oh, forgot to mention earlier, since I didn’t think he would be of much consequence, but in retrospect it’s all so obvious. While nosing around in Stormreach trying to find information on the Lord of Blade’s task force, I had encountered this rather bookish warforged. He did not so bad, and was able to provide me with some pittance of information. Then, he asked to come along with the party. I warned him we were headed into the deep belly of the jungles, and that it would probably not be safe, but he insisted on witnessing the undead dragonmarked warforged himself.

He seemed to be a crafter of some sort: he had numerous wands, some of which mimicked effects of Eldon’s arcane powers. For the time, though, he seemed especially clumsy, since he did not manage to hit any of our foes with the magical energies stored within. I attributed this once more to the fact that librarians should stay in cities, and leave the adventuring up to us.

As we continued to explore the ancient temple, easily dispatching everything in our way thanks in part to the Gray Render zombie, we came upon a locked door. Rather than having the zombie bash it down as usual, Mike and Eldon decided to try to listen at it—and was rewarded for their efforts with the usual blasting trap. Inside appeared to be a storeroom of supplies; alas, they were mostly food supplies, and had nothing of magical value. I just “raid the pantry,” so to speak, and cooked us up a savory feast. Mike refused to partake, but the others quite liked it.

The next day, Atronarch (the warforged I wrote of earlier) joined us once more (he had been waiting on the ferry, at my suggestion), claiming to have been bored. We accepted that; the day is much longer and drier when one does not need to sleep. And thus we continued venturing into the upper-most floor of the temple.

A stout woman was there, studying the runes. She claimed to be from Morgrave University, and had been forced on this expedition. She was in the middle of explaining when she suddenly turned and bolted. A good number of zombies and warforged arrived from a side passage. Mike took it upon himself to go after the woman, while I incanted a spiritual weapon to distract our opponents. Eldon directed our zombie (who was currently disguised as an ogre) to meet the oncoming waves of troops.

Before we could act any further though, a wall of electricity then enshrouded us, and while I was able to time to sparks so as to be able to dodge out of the way, my companions did not seem as agile. Immediately following this, an undead four-armed humanoid leapt over the wall, beside Taris and Anson. I had seen Eldon zap undead enough times to trust him to it, so I pushed myself through the energy wall (it was like one of those trick mirrors, where you can only see through on one side) and then tried to demolish the enemy zombies by channeling divine power. It was less effective than I’d hoped, only some third of the zombies were destroyed.

I looked back to check on my companions, to see that Taris had been paralyzed by the thri-keen, and just in time to see a couple arrows strike Eldon into unconsciousness. The projectiles did not strike particularly vulnerable areas, so I could onlly assume poison. Anson, in the mean time, had vaporized the remaining zombies with a flame strike, and was starting to summon a team of Earth Elementals.

At that moment, a powerful wave of energy missiles hit Anson, Taris, and Eldon, instantly killing the latter two… or would have, except for me. However, I had only one delay death spell prepared—no brainer, Taris is much more friendly to me than Eldon (ironically enough, this choice nearly caused my own demise a little while later).

Atronarch grabbed out his wand of scorching ray and… wait, WHAT? fired it at Anson. He followed up with a battle cry, “For the Lord of Blades!” The druid was barely able to dodge one of the two rays, but the other struck true, and singed his entire right half. Suddenly, everything made sense. The whole bit about repeatedly missing was a sham; Atronarch would have preferred that the trolls and other random encounters did us in, but was smart enough to put on the semblance of trying to attack so that we wouldn’t get suspicious.

A sense of anger filled me, and I powered up my only offensive spell, the light of Venya, and took aim at the traitor/spy. The first bolt struck true, and he seemed de-animated, but I did not wish to risk his treacheries a second time, and fired the second at him to ensure his destruction.

The leader of the enemy pack, identifying himself as Falchion, who had been remade from the remains of Sabre (from the Sewers of Sharn), charged me, breaking several of the chains on my mithral shirt to accompany the pain. I quaffed my potion of invisibility and disappeared from his sight, then ran to the body of Taris (whose body had continued to decay due to an area effect acid arrow). After quickly incanting a protection from energy (acid) on her, I yelled to Anson to help out with healing, and began to chain-cast cure spells.

Mike and Isabelle (Anson’s pet eagle), in the mean time, finished up Falchion, while the Gray Render plowed through the rest of the attackers… but then it struck me that since Eldon was no longer here to direct it, the Gray Render is probably not considering us to be its friends anymore, and is just blinding lashing out at all living creatures. I quickly warned the others, and Anson followed up by summoning wolves to keep its attention away from us.

In the end, we managed to kill the entire attack force with the loss of Eldon, but events had been set in motion. The central column had risen into the sky, with presumably the female directing it. While the last schema is certainly powerful, it wasn’t worth suicidally rushing in for. The four of us high-tailed it back to Stormreach, where I planned to recruit another mage before returning.

On the way, I starting itemizing and identifying all the items from Eldon, Atronarch, and the other warforged, I ran across this scroll in Eldon’s haversack: It registered as magical, and I started reading it. I got about two words in before the thing exploded in my face. ^%$*&#(& Zarking Eldon, booby-trapping his stuff. I swore some more and stormed up into the cargo holds, intent on tossing my former compatriot’s body overboard, but then Taris stopped me, reasoning that he probably didn’t intend for it to be used against me. I calmed down somewhat, and we returned to Stormreach without further trouble.

After selling all the goods that we decided not to keep, G contacted me. This was unusual, because I usually contact G, and not the other way around. Anyway, he told me that I should head to Jorasco headquarters in Korth immediately, and that this was important. I didn’t argue—you just don’t, not against G. So I told Anson and Taris and Mike my circumstances, and bid them farewell.

I wonder if I’ll ever see them again.

Player’s Notes:

I decided before the start of this adventure that Xame would be “retiring” after this session. Mostly because I want to play a slightly different character. With the dragonmark implications written up from before, this was a perfect excuse for him to leave the party on friendly terms in a reasonable way.

In retrospect, everything regarding Atronarch really fits well together from the Xame’s perspective. In reality, of course, Bob just fumbled nearly every attack roll up until the end. But still, the interpretive way makes for a better story.

Oh, another way to get rid of excess wealth: since Xame was presumably systematically categorizing all the looted goods, some were probably destroyed by the Explosive runes. I really would like not to have Xame “sneak off with the bulk of the goods,” because I’d like Xame to be on good terms with the remaining party members, in case I play him again in this campaign.

Adventure: Grasp of the Emerald Claw
Session: 2007-03-04, 2007-03-14
Player: Rachel Reddick
PC: Taris
Status: Ninja 1/Swashbuckler 3/Ninja +3

We reached the temple today. I’m writing this just before we rest, so I don’t forget anything.

Let’s see. We found the giant’s left hand and all that, and then stopped the guards on the Emerald Claw airskiff. Then we went in. And were promptly smacked by a large boulder. It seems a number of drow have claimed part of the temple, and didn’t want us in there with them. Mike tried to convince them that we would be perfectly happy to leave them be, but they wouldn’t have it. They’d probably had too much trouble with the Emerald Claw types. We were forced to deal with them via skewering and scorching.

Upstairs, after dealing with a couple more guards, we found a “small” ziggurat inside the temple itself. This place is huge! Well, it was built for giants. We ended up dealing with an Emerald Claw soldier, a few zombies and a mummy. The mummy had some sort of displacing cloak, which made it seem to be where it wasn’t. I’ve got it now. Eldon has my old cloak of resistance in storage.
This seems to be where the Emerald Claw folks were camping, so this is where we’re camping. Although, it seems somewhat deserted now, which bothers me.

***

I’ll fill this in now, now that we’re taking a quick stop before moving on.

Last night, we met some serpent-people called Yuan-ti. It sounds like they’re looking for some other artifact, a giant’s tooth. We agreed to swap if they find the schema and we find the tooth. They also said that they’d found some deceased humans, in an area they did not enter.

We found them pretty soon afterwards. They were all, well, dead, and lying around an adamantine door. Anson sent in an earth elemental, which went through the stone wall, opened the door, and promptly died. He sent in another elemental, which retrieved the giant’s tooth. Without dying. None of us wanted to get too close. According to Eldon, it’s very magical. Xame is concerned about just giving something that powerful to the yuan-ti, and I’ve got to agree with him. Unless they’ve got the schema, which is probably pretty powerful in itself. So long as the yuan-ti don’t plan to do evil, the exchange should be all right.

Mike finally caught up with us this morning. He’d forgotten that humans don’t have darkvision, and gotten lost. He does seem to have a great deal of bad luck. He did seem somewhat surprised when I told him that Eldon had turned into a raptoran for a little while to fight the mummy.

While we were exploring this level, we ran into a bunch of large apes. Dealing with them is far easier than undead, since I know where to hit them.

In one chamber, we found a large monster — an undead gray render. Disgusting creature, living (scratched out) unliving in filth, horribly stupid… and instead of just putting the thing out of its misery, Eldon started commanding it! Ugh. I can hardly believe it. I mean, it’s undead! They’re so unnatural. Well, so are warforged, but at least warforged are truly living beings, not hideous parodies of life. Except for the undead ones…

The undead gray render did prove useful. I haven’t done too much study of traps, and the others have done less. So we let the gray render set off the traps first. It fell down a pit that opened up in front of a door. After opening the door using a pole, Mike jumped across, I jumped across, and Anson flew across on his eagle. I think I should have been the only one to go across, since I’m a bit tougher than Anson, jump well, and can handle magic items, unlike Mike. However… we all went through, and we all were hit by a burst of flame. I grabbed the object — some sort of gold hoop around a crystal lens — and we all went back across before the trap reset.

There was nothing else to see, so we decided to check the ground floor before examing the third floor. Eldon found his gray render, and we entered a room we hadn’t examined earlier. After passing some strange offerings and another dead Emerald Claw soldier (we seem to be doing much better with this temple than they are) we met the largest scorpion I have ever seen in my life. It must have been twenty feet long! The gray render drew most of its attention… until Mike decided he would punch it himself. He got torn a bit and stung. He afterwards was very greatful that monks are immune to poison. I ought to remember that, in case we meet any evil monks. In any case, after some zapping, the scorpion went down. I cut off its stinger, and Xame agreed to put it in his bag of holding, since, honestly, I don’t have space in my pack for a two-foot-plus stinger. But the venom would make a nice poison, I think. I guess I owe Xame one.

We found a strange rod in that room, also. I’d be glad if we find the schema soon, and can clear out. By the Flame, I hope Eldon doesn’t decide to keep his “pet.”

Player’s Notes

So, I just looked up the cost of a Cloak of Displacement, minor… um… that’s a LOT of gold pieces.

But she does get 8th level. Hm. Ninja or duelist? Duelist yields more hit points, but ninja implies being able to put a bunch of skill points into making her search/disable device checks halfway reasonable. Or we could just leave that business to the undead gray render.

And she ought to put a point into craft (poison). Oh, well, worst comes to worst, she could ask Xame to help find a poisonmaker in Stormreach, and get a discount for having the main ingredient. If it doesn’t go bad or something. And share with the others, of course, if they’re interested in such things.

And no, I couldn’t resist the title. Especially with the rolling boulder bit at the beginning.

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