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Cody
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Temple of Elemental Evil
Attack of the Darkness
While the group of adventurers are recovering from their latest expedition to the moathouse, Brandis volunteers to help train the militia. Unfortunately, a freak training accident results in Brandis being killed. Word is sent to his family and his older brother, Branis, comes to Hommlet. Branis sends Brandis' body back home but decides to continue Brandis' work by staying in Hommlet with the rest of the party.

Coming into town at the same time as Branis is Artemis, a traveling illusionist-mage who makes his living as an entertainer. Upon learning about the copious amounts of money the adventurers have retrieved from the moathouse, Artemis volunteers to provide his magical abilities to the group.

Once everyone is brought up to speed with the situation, the group heads out to the moathouse and enters the dungeon through the secret door in the black room. At the top of the stairs to the second dungeon level, Zhanna volunteers to scout ahead, using her cloak of elvenkind. At an intersection near the bottom of the stairs, she first heads south and finds a large room with three doors on the southern wall. There is also the scent of cooking food coming from somewhere nearby, possibly from the corridor to the west.

Rather than get too far away by herself, Zhanna heads back to the group and reports what she finds. Tundin asks about the other direction from the intersection and Zhanna heads that way. At the end of the eastern corridor, she finds another room similar to the other room: on the far wall are three doors and a corridor leading to the north.

While Zhanna is scouting the dungeon, the secret door to the ogre's room opens up and a small (7 foot) ogre is standing there. He is at first surprised, but when he sees the black robes with the flaming eyes worn by the party, he is enthusiastically friendly, as he believes they are members of the cult. Not thinking to check their "bona-fides", the ogre starts talking to them in ogrish. Unfortunately, no one speaks ogre, but Dire, thinking quickly, tries the orcish tongue.

The ogre responds even better than before, happy that he is able to converse with the new-comers. Dire explains that they have just arrived at the moathouse and have a captive (Artemis). The ogre asks if they are taking the captive to the Master, to which Dire agrees. The ogre offers to take them to the Master, since they are new there and probably don't know the way. Realizing that it may be the easiest way to get through the dungeon, Dire accepts the offer and informs the rest of the group what is going on. As they walk, Dire pumps the ogre for information about the dungeon. The ogre tries to be helpful but, since he's not very bright and doesn't get out much, he is unable to supply a lot of information.

The ogre leads the way to the southern room with three doors. When they get there, Branis tries to get the battle axe from the ogre by having Dire ask about it. The ogre agrees to let Branis try out his axe if Branis will let the ogre try his axe (they are nearly the same size, though the ogre is slightly stronger). The two spend a few minutes swinging the axes around and trying them out. The ogre offers to trade his axe for Branis', but after looking at the inferior quality of the ogre's axe, Branis declines. The ogre keep the offer open, though.

Moving on, the ogre leads the group further south and down a side passage to a door. The ogre stops and indicates that on the other side is the Master's room. The ogre then leaves and heads back to this lair. After he is gone, the group decides to investigate the rest of the dungeon before approaching the Master so they don't get attacked from behind and to hopefully find some additional information and supplies before they proceed.

Heading back down the passageway, they take the southern corridor and, at an intersection, they proceed west. The torches in this area are burnt out, if not outright missing, so the only light is from Tundin's lantern. At the end of the corridor, the group comes upon a desecrated crypt. The coffins and skeletons are smashed and debris is scattered about. Dire investigates one of the alcoves to see if there is anything of value placed with the remains. He finds nothing, but he does notice that the bones have been smashed apart. Further investigation reveals that the marrow has been removed and teeth marks indicate that something has been chewing on the bones.

While they are looking around, a thumping noise is heard coming from further in the crypt. Cautiously moving further into the crypt, the group turns a corner and sees four individuals crouched down near a burial alcove. The thumping is louder here; after a short debate, the group thinks that maybe someone is trapped in a coffin and the four people are either trying to get to the trapped person or are otherwise involved. Thus, the group decides that they should attack the four and help the trapped person.

Tundin closes the hood on his lantern to a tiny slit as the group prepares to attack. At that moment, the thumping noise stops. Everyone freezes, considering whether to run or stand their ground. A creature appears suddenly at the corner; seeing the light of Tundin's lantern, the creature makes a hissing noise and darts forward to attack Tundin.

Branis and Tundin both attack the creature. Branis cuts off one of the "zombie's" arms but not before it hits Branis. Branis is paralyzed and falls to the ground.

Two more creatures come around the corner and attack. Dire makes a sneak attack and smashes the head of both "zombies" but Tundin is paralyzed and falls to the ground. He is able to tell the others that these creatures are ghouls, not zombies, before he loses the power to speak. When Tundin falls, his lantern goes out.

Artemis, who had ran back down the hall, hears yelling and comes back to the entrance of the crypt. When the lantern goes out, he casts dancing lights and makes them float around the head of the last ghoul. The ghoul is distracted enough for Zhanna and Dire to attack, eventually killing it. Unfortunately, Dire is paralyzed as well.

Not having anything else to do, Zhanna lights her lantern and patiently waits for the paralysis to wear off, if it will. Artemis, being bored, takes Tundin's lantern and relights it. He moves to the area where the ghouls were first seen and, crouching down, sees that the alcove they were near actually leads to a tunnel. At the edge of his lantern's light, he can make out that the tunnel opens up into a possible room. Rather than investigate, he takes some of the debris nearby and plugs up the tunnel.

After that, Artemis leaves Zhanna and tries to head back outside. In the room with three doors, he opens the middle door and hears a loud noise in the distance, as of something heavy falling or closing. He moves to the next door and opens it, finding a small room. An investigation reveals nothing.

Moving on, Artemis goes to the western corridor, where the scent of cooking food grows stronger. The corridor opens into a large room. In the center is a fire with a large cooking pot atop it. Circled around the fire are nine hyena-headed men. They don't notice Artemis, so he backs quietly out of the room.

The the door room, Artemis heads north to the entrance of the dungeon. At the intersection, he finds a heavy portcullis has fallen, blocking the way out. Suspecting there might be another way, Artemis heads east and finds the other room with three doors. Ignoring the doors, he goes to the northern corridor.

Entering the room, he sees that it is dimly lit with just a few torches. He doesn't see anything from the doorway so he moves further into the room. Suddenly, he is knocked unconscious from a blow from behind. Having never told anyone where he was going, no one knows where to look for him and he is never heard from again.

Zhanna waits for more than hour until Branis is finally able to move again. Tundin and Dire recover from their paralysis shortly thereafter. Their damage from the fight with the ghouls prevents them from moving on their own. They are barely conscious when their paralysis wears off, but when they are picked up by Branis and Zhanna, the motion causes them to pass out again.

The pair carry the others through the "door room". As they are passing through to the northern passage, two hyena-men come out of the western room. Seeing the black cloaks on Branis and Zhanna, and that they are carrying bodies, the hyena-men allow the pair to pass on unmolested.

Reaching the portcullis, Branis tries to open it but can't. Zhanna tries as well but is equally stymied. While Branis keeps trying, Zhanna stumbles upon the secret door leading to the release lever. Activating the lever, Branis throws the gate into the ceiling; Zhanna allows him to think his own badassness is what opened the gate.

Heading back upstairs, no further encounters occur and the two are able to put Tundin and Dire on their horses and head back to town. They arrive at the mayor's house in just a few hours and Tundin and Dire are put to bed to rest. Zhanna explains what happened to the mayor, making the mayor inquire as to what the group plans on doing next. Everyone knows that the Temple is becoming active again, or at least the remnants of the cult are causing problems. The mayor suggests that the group continue their investigation of the moathouse, head to the Temple itself, or investigate the surrounding countryside to find other holdouts of the cult. Zhanna isn't prepared to answer for the entire group, so she defers until the others recover.

The next day, Dire and Tundin have recovered enough to at least get out of bed. Tundin casts his cure light wounds spells on both of them, allowing them to move around town. The group decides to investigate around town and see if there is any additional information they can glean about the cult.

While they are moving around town, they find that Artemis is still alive. Branis is highly upset with him, thinking that he skipped out when they needed him the most. When they confront him, he indicates that his "stunt man"for his performances, Geoff, was the person who actually accompanied them.

Branis goes to the tavern and spends the next 12 hours drinking and talking to as many people as he can. He "learns" that the cult has a secret handshake and someone demonstrates it for him. He also finds out that a man in dark clothes has been seen traveling the roads on a weekly basis; the last time he was seen was four days ago.

The rest of the group heads to the castle where Rufus and Burne live. They ask to use Burne's library to see if they can glean any information from his books. He allows them to look through his collection for 2gp each.

Artemis tries to get a hook-up, one spell-caster to another, and asks if Burne has anything they can use. Burne offers a stick that has had continual light cast on it for 500gp. Obviously that is too much for the group, so Artemis offers 10gp and a free illusionist show. Burne accepts the offer and gives Artemis the stick.

While looking through the books, no information about the cult is found. However, Dire manages to find a potion of healing stuffed behind some books; he secrets it on his person and tells no one else.

After spending the day looking for info, everyone heads to the tavern to meet with Branis and find out what he has learned. Over dinner, Branis informs them about the secret handshake and the runner that has been seen. He also asks for 12sp to pay for his bar tab.

Artemis casts an illusion of 12sp, which Branis gives to the barkeep. Being distracted, the barkeep doesn't notice that the coins don't make any noise when he puts them in the coin box. Once the coins are "safely" put away, Artemis drops the spell.

After some discussion, the party decides that best thing to do is wait for the messenger near the moathouse and ambush him to find out what he knows. The group stocks up on gear the next morning, including buying three guard dogs, and heads out to the intersection of the Low Road and High Road that is beyond the moathouse. The guard dogs are very vicious and continually struggle to escape. Whenever someone tries to touch them, the dogs try to bite them.

While they are making camp near the crossroads, a group of 15 nomads comes from the High Road and stops when they see the camp. A short discussion reveals that their main camp is in the Gnarley Forest and this group is heading to Hommlet to trade. When Artemis reveals he is an entertainer, the nomads suggest that he travel to their main camp in the Forest and put on a show for the rest of the group. Artemis suggests he will think about it; the group indicates they can "pick him up" when they come back, if the group is still camped out.

The night passes uneventfully. The next day, the group spends time hunting to supplement their rations. Between them, 14 pounds of food is found, and they share it with their guard dogs.

On the third day, the nomads come back through on their way "home". They see Artemis hanging out in a tree and inquire if he is willing to join them on their way to their encampment. Artemis panics, not wanting to give an answer, so he casts darkness over the encampment. The darkness causes the nomad's horses to panic, as well as the nomads themselves, and the horses trample through the camp on their way out of the darkness. In the confusion, the campfire is kicked, causing several small fires to be set on the surrounding brush and Zhanna's bedroll to catch fire. In addition, Branis picks up his dog and tries to get away from the stampede, but his dog is frightened and bites him on the neck.

When the darkness spell ends, Artemis is no where to be seen. He has run away from the camp and cast an illusion around him, making it appear that he is now a bush. While the rest of the group picks up the remains of their campsite, Artemis remains hidden, as he hears the others grumbling about what had just occurred.

While trying to fix their campsite, two riders, coming from the Low Road, happen by. The riders are both wearing red/orange colors, similar to the color scheme found on the flaming-eye cloaks. Seeing the devastation of the camp, they ask if everything is alright. They are told that a group of bandits came through, trashing the camp on their way to the High Road. This makes the younger rider nervous and he is constantly looking around during the rest of the conversation.

The riders indicate that they are heading to Hommlet to ask for help with river pirates near Nulb and ask where the group is heading. Suspecting that these two might be the messengers spoken of, the party states they are heading to Hommlet as well. The riders ask if the party would like to join them as they continue their journey, as there is safety in numbers, which is good to have if bandits are about. The party agrees and gathers their gear. Artemis finally drops his phantasmal force spell and returns to camp after Branis promises not to hurt him.

Everyone heads back to the village, with the party eyeing the two riders the whole way to see if they act suspicious. As they near the moathouse, the riders inquire if the party knows anything about the ruins, receiving an abbreviated history in return. The party notes nothing suspicious so far.

Upon arrival in Hommlet, the party heads to the mayor's house while the two riders head to the inn. Tundin tells the mayor about the riders and his suspicion that they are the messengers who visit the moathouse. The mayor is asked whether he believes the story about the river pirates. While he hasn't heard of pirates themselves, the fact that their are bandits about means the likelihood of pirates is high.

When asked about the nomads, the mayor indicates that they regularly visit Hommlet, though infrequently. They seem to be a group that travels around the region between the Kron Hills and the Nyr Dyv lake and haven't acted suspicious before.

Everyone except Dire and Zhanna go to bed. Dire heads to the inn to keep an eye out for the riders while Zhanna goes to the edge of town to see if anything suspicious transpires.

At midnight, Dire sees someone dressed in black come down from the rooms upstairs and leave the inn. Dire follows and sees one of the rider's horses has been taken from the stable, so he goes to the mayor's house to tell the others.

Everyone gears up and heads out, running into Zhanna, who tells them that someone went riding past her in the dark. The group heads towards the moathouse, with Zhanna attempting to track the horse. The trail leads to the moathouse drawbridge, but then appears to come back to the main road and continue on past the ruins. Eventually, Zhanna finds a side trail that has fresh markings on it. Following the trail through the swamp, the group comes upon a clearing, slightly drier than the rest of the swamp. The muddy horse-prints lead to a large hedge-like bush. On the other side of the bush can be seen a horse's head.

Getting off their horses, the group spreads out and comes around the bush. They find an opening in the ground, much like a cave. The horse is tied to the bush near the entrance. Waiting for the rider to come out, the group sets up an ambush.

Coming out, the rider manages to avoid the illusionary snare set by Artemis, but when he climbs on his horse, the cut saddle falls off, dropping the man to the ground. Dire, Tundin, and Branis jump on top of the man while the horse panics and gets mired in the swap. Zhanna goes to retrieve the horse.

Branis puts the man in a headlock while Tundin holds the man's legs. Dire pulls out his dagger and uses the pommel to knock the man out. As Branis and Tundin get up and get some rope to tie the man up, Dire searches him for useful items. A scroll case is found; inside is a message written in code. Dire looks at it with the lantern light and is able to decipher most of it.

The message indicates that the Master of the moathouse dungeon feels that the mission is on track but there are some problems being caused by a small group of interlopers. The interlopers have been killing a number of hirelings and taking valuable items. The Master requests more men and money to continue the work before the timeline is affected.

In addition to the scroll, Dire also finds 2sp and 12cp on the man. When Tundin takes the man's boots off to ensure he doesn't run away if he wakes up too soon, a small dagger falls out, which the party puts away.

The group ties the man up and puts him on a horse, then everyone heads back to town around 5am. Dire and Artemis go to the inn, intending to capture and interrogate the other rider. Dire bribes the barkeep to get the room that the two men were staying in. Casting phantasmal force on himself to appear like the captured man, Artemis enters the room but finds it empty. Dire waits for the man to return while Artemis goes back to the mayor's house to sleep.

Meanwhile, the rest of the group has gone to the mayor's house and is interrogating their captive. Upon removing his cape and cowl, they realize they have captured the younger rider, the "squire". During the interrogation, the squire states he doesn't know anything about the message, that we was hired by someone in Nulb to come to Hommlet and retrieve a letter. He doesn't know exactly who his traveling companion is; just the "village idiot" that the kid paid a few copper coins to accompany him to Hommlet. They don't know each other, and the kid doesn't know why the man insists on calling the kid his "squire".

While Dire hangs out outside the inn, he sees the man coming from the northern road and go inside. Dire follows and heads to a shadowy corner. The man sits down after conversing with the barkeep and starts to eat breakfast, keeping an eye out on the door. Dire bribes a barmaid to send a messenger to the mayor's house to alert the others.

Upon receiving the message from Dire, Tundin and Branis stop their interrogation and leave for the inn. When they get there, the man recognizes them from before and calls out to them, asking if they have seen his squire. Upon receiving a negative response, the man asks if they could help him find him, as the boy wasn't in his bed when the man woke up and he is worried that something happened to him.

Tundin, Branis, and Dire convince the man to accompany them to the mayor's house, as there might be some information available there. When they arrive, the mayor is eating breakfast and the squire is with him; an armed guard is nearby.

When they enter the room, the mayor is angry and yells at them, asking who the kid is and why he was left tied up in the house. He also explains that, not knowing what was going on and hearing the boy crying, the mayor untied the boy and gave him breakfast. He has the guard nearby in case there is a problem.

When he sees the man accompanying Tundin, Branis, and Dire, the mayor asks for an explanation and seems to be getting pretty irate over how the investigation is unfolding, as well as the imposition on his hospitality. Tundin gives a brief explanation and finally requests that the mayor conduct an interrogation of the man and boy.
Session: 1st Ed. AD&D - Saturday, Apr 06 2013 from 3:00 AM to 10:00 AM
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Epic!