Nightrealms Carrion Crown

February 9th, 2014 XP
Encounter Type XP
Invisible Stalkers (2) Combat 6,600
Unhallowed Mummies (8) Combat 12,800
Marrowgarth – Adult Red Dragon Ravener Combat 76,800
Knights of the Gate – Advanced Devourers (2) Combat 38,400
Unhallowed Greater Shadows (4) Combat 19,200
General Sey’lok – Advanced Nightwalker Combat 102,400
Total 256,200
Character XP Total Class Level (Level 16 – 890,000)
Haza 709,500 Cleric 15
Torquemada 711,675 Inquisitor 15
Ramirez 710,000 Fighter 15
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Adorak

Sarenith 3rd, 4711

Marrowgarth Attacks!

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January 31, 2014 XP
Encounter Type XP
Renchurch Cenobites (4) Combat 38,400
Embalming Golems (2) Combat 12,800
Nalthezzar – Lich Alchemist Combat 38,400
Urca Namat – Worm That Walks Wizard Combat 51,200
Shrine-Blessed Juju Zombies (16) Combat 19,600
The Gray Friar – Advanced Shrine-Blessed Heucuva Cleric of Urgathoa Combat 25,600
Total 186,000
Character XP Total Class Level (Level 16 – 890,000)
Haza 624,100 Cleric 15
Torquemada 626275 Inquisitor 15
Ramirez 624,600 Fighter 15
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Rescuing Count Galdana

Sarenith 2nd, 4711

Right under their nose the whole time!

Following the tremendous battle in the inner heart of Cathedral of Blades, Haza, Torquemada, and Ramirez limped their way out of the smoky, blood-stained room, desperately weak and in dire need of rest.

As they backtracked through the underground catacombs, their worst fear was running into another significant force of Whispering Way minions, but their roundabout path remained clear and safe.

As they climbed up from the tomb from which they entered the underground, Torquemada suggested that they hole up in the vestry room above, instead of leaving the abbey grounds altogether.

They used some of the vestry’s furniture to barricade the door as well as cover the iron grate that led to the catacombs below, and settled in for an extended rest.

To their surprise, they were unmolested over the next several hours. Whether it was because their intrusion had gone unnoticed, or because none of the Whispering Way thought to look for the intruders in their own vestry, the time passed uneventfully.


Sarenith 2nd, 4711

Ambushed!

Early the next morning, the party prepared to venture back into the catacombs. Retracing their steps, the adventurers were once again taken aback by the lack of resistance to their exploration.

Had they destroyed the core members of the Whispering Way? Was the cult of necromancers vanquished?

As they moved back into the Urgathoan fly room, the answer became clear.

It was a trap!

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Standing at the head of the altar, the lich alchemist seemed shocked at the sudden appearance of the adventurers who had tasked the Whispering Way for so long, but he was quick to recover and direct his followers to attack.

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Embalming golems threw acid bombs while undead cenobites called down unholy flame strikes and slung death beams at the group as they hurriedly moved to defend themselves. The lich took to the air and shot green beams of acid breath from his mouth, catching Haza and Torquemada with it. The golems continued to press their attack, but were met by an enlarged Ramirez.

The battle was touch-and-go for the adventurers for a while, as with a double acid bomb attack, Haza was killed. Ramirez and Torque rallied behind their fallen comrade, and soon the moldering bones of the lich were cast down and he was destroyed, at least temporarily.

As they searched through the undead’s belongings, a strange ring caught Torque’s eye. Finely crafted and clearly highly magical, the silver ring featured a single flawless ruby set in the center.

Could it be?

Torquemada had heard of such rare magics, but never hoped to see it in his lifetime. If this indeed was a magical ring of wishes, Haza’s sacrifice would not have been in vain.

As Torquemada intoned the words of his wish, a powerful hum filled the air. Suddenly, standing beside Torquemada, whole and hale and ready for battle, was Haza of Sarenrae!

And somewhere in the dark, the lich Nalthezzar screamed out in impotent rage…


The Rescue

At full strength again, the party ventured into the rear of the chamber and through a set of heavy iron doors. The winding staircase behind led further downward, ending at another iron portal. The room beyond featured rotting gray ichor dripping from murder holes in the ceiling overhead and filling a massive pit with a vile, roiling soup of millions of maggots. A third set of iron doors beckoned beyond the pit, and a narrow stone walkway allowed egress around the pool of vile vermin.

The squirming pool was certainly an unnerving sight, but not as unnerving as the creature that rose silently from it’s depths and attacked the party!

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It’s body is a writhing mass of squirming, slippery worms, the creature gestured at the party and in a clash of brilliant colors a prismatic spray cascaded over the trio. Torquemada was driven insane while burning acid and electricity tore at Ramirez and Haza resisted being turned into stone. As they turned to face this threat, the Worm That Walks lashed out with another prismatic spray.

Realizing they were outclassed, Haza told the others to retreat through the next set of doors, and as Haza followed them into the next room, he sealed off the tunnel with a series of_ stone shaped_ walls.

Satisfied that would give them at least some breathing room, Haza turned to see what waiting in this new area.

Black flames licked the walls of this huge ceremonial chamber. Three giant statues of Urgathoa loomed threateningly over stone pews and a processional leading to a black altar atop a raised natural outcropping. A dark pit boiling over with foul necrotic energy gaped at the far end of the room, and a writhing humanoid form hangs stretched over the well, stout chains tethered to each of its limbs.

A shrunken figure stood at an altar, it’s hands raised and singing the praises of the dark power of Urgathoa.

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As he noticed the party, the chanting figures that filled the pews turned to face the adventurers. The gray, pallid countenance of Count Galdana stared back at the group from every face!

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The battle was on.

Ramirez rushed the undead priest, but the Gray Friar was protected by an antilife shell, and Ramirez could not get close enough to engage in melee with the creature. Haza’s channel energies tore into the ranks of the undead Counts, and it was Torquemada who noticed that one of the undead chanters was seemingly unaffected by those positive energy bursts. He quickly surmised that this forlorn figure was likely the real Count Galdana, he maneuvered him out of the battle.

The party turned their attention to the Gray Friar, who moved forward to strike down Ramirez. But Torquemada countered by dispelling his antilife shell, allowing the fighter to get close enough to engage. Three gigantic blows from Giant Ramirez (who had enlarged himself again), cut into the priest, the final blow cleanly severing his skull from his body. The undead monster collapsed in a heap as the fires of unlife dimmed in it’s detached skull.

The Count had been saved!

But, unfortunately, the war did was not over.

As Haza and Torquemada tending to the magical wounds of the Count, he came to his senses and began to tell the party what he knew about the plans of the Whispering Way.

Count Galanda knew the noble, Adivion Adrissant well. Born to a life of privilege in Ustalav’s former capital city of Ardis, Adivion Adrissant seemed destined for greatness. His family spared no expense on his education, enrolling him in Caliphas’s highly prestigious academy at the Quarterfaux Archives. Handsome, cunning, and cultured, Adivion hungered for knowledge, but soon found himself bored in his studies, which left him dispirited and melancholy. The young scholar should have wanted for nothing, but by the age of 20 had dismissed structured academia as unchallenging, romance as little more than a distraction, and religion as a fool’s errand. Inspired by the nihilistic poetry of Krait, Perry, and Vhaags, the young man left Ustalav to explore the cultures of Golarion in hopes of staving off his malaise, only to return to his family’s holdings years later as disappointed as when he first left.

The Count had crossed paths with the man a number of times in Caliphas, but was shocked to find himself face-to-face with the man who was his kidnapper. The arrogant man took great pleasure in explaining his actions to the Count, and recounted what had transpired to bring the two men to this point in time.

Growing ever more morbid in his fascinations, Adivion began explorations into the hereafter; spending years acquiring dusty relics from forgotten museum collections, communing with spirits in secret seances, and delved into the study of necromancy, focusing his admiration on Tar-Baphon, the Whispering Tyrant. In researching the life and undeath of Golarion’s most wretched conqueror, Adivion felt kinship for a genius burdened by the weight of a worthless world, and whose supreme intellect and ambition allowed him to defy even death in the pursuit of reshaping Golarion into an existence worth experiencing. Soon, Adivion’s tireless research consumed him, and his acquisition of relics of the lich’s rule drained his family’s coffers. Well aware of previous futile attempts to physically liberate Tar-Baphon from his prison, Adivion sought some alternate path that might allow the Whispering Tyrant to return to the waking world.

Through his obsessive research, Adivion soon found that Tar-Baphon had sired at least one child while alive, and most importantly, that the Tyrant’s increasingly thin bloodline reached all the way through the millennia to modern Ustalav—and in fact, Count Lucinean Galdana of Amaans was a direct, living heir of the Whispering Tyrant.

It was on the return trip to Ardis that the seeds of inspiration—or madness—took root in Adivion’s mind. Witnessing a rite of metaphorical rebirth—the Procession of Unforgotten Souls—outside Kavapesta’s Cryptgate Cathedral, he struck upon the idea for a grand experiment. History had already shown that, when exposed to certain ideas, events, settings, and magics, Tar-Baphon had possessed the potential toreshape the world. What then would occur if a modern inheritor of the lich-king’s blood was subjected to the exact same ideas, events, and magics? Would it not follow that the heir would produce the same result as the ancestor? What if Adivion himself could recreate the Whispering Tyrant, and in so doing gaze into the mind of a force that rivaled even the gods? With such a dark muse—one indebted to him for its very existence—could he not emulate that same path to world-shaping might? Over the next several years Adivion launched fully into his experiment, courting the Whispering Way and seducing its leaders with the promise of the resurrection of their most famed alumnus. At the same time, Adivion delved into the blasphemous secrets of lichdom, taking the diff icult and unheard of path of researching not his own individual path to undeath, but another’s. After years of investigation, his delving, both scholarly and arcane, bore strange fruit: whispers from beyond death, a verse spoken from the spaces between death and the afterworld that formed the formula to an undying apotheosis, which Adivion dubbed the Carrion Crown.

With this knowledge, the proper components, and grim allies in the Whispering Way to assist him, Adivion Adrissant set his plan in motion—a plot to transform one of the lords of Ustalav, an heir to a profane legacy, into a resurrection of the Whispering Tyrant himself — and through the arch-lich reborn, to recreate Golarion into a world worth having a place in.

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January 12th, 2014 XP
Encounter Type XP
Renchurch Novices (6) Combat 19,200
Advanced Unhallowed Bodaks (6) Combat 38,400
Advanced Augnagar Qlippoth Combat 51,200
Shrine-Blessed Burning Skeletons (12) Combat 2,400
Shrine-Blessed Renchurch Cenobites (3) Combat 38,400
The Urgathoan Fly – Variant Iron Golem Combat 25,600
Lucimar the Lich-Wolf Combat 38,400
Total 213,600
Character XP Total Class Level (Level 15 – 635,000)
Haza 562,100 Cleric 14
Torquemada 564,275 Inquisitor 14
Ramirez 562,600 Fighter 14
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The Warrens of Evil

Sarenith 1st, 4711

Underneath the Cathedral of Blades

After a refreshing night in the pocket dimension provided by Father Christmas, Torquemada, Haza, and Ramirez were well-rested and ready to continue their exploration of Renchurch Cathedral in search of their kidnapped ally, Count Galdana.

As they emerged from the wood-panelled hallway back into the fetid pool room, the archway behind them faded into the stonework, leaving only a solid wall in it’s place.

The acid fog that had last threatened them had dissipated and nothing emerged from the stinking waters that dotted the room. The party set their sights on the unexplored doors they had noticed yesterday, and chose to pass through the southeastern door. After listening carefully for indications that someone or something was behind it, they opened the door and discovered a passageway leading to a faintly-lit area beyond.

Moving cautiously, they found themselves entering a small natural cavern area that appeared to have been roughly worked. Dirty rugs and torn pillows covered the floor of this natural cavern, and a thick, heavy fog pervaded the air, glowing with a faint flicker of candlelight that carried with it an unusual stench of moldering chrysanthemums. Everywhere stared the mortared skulls of the dead. Lounging amidst the slowly-drifting fog, a half-dozen Renchurch novices in red robes lay, seemingly unaware of the party’s intrusion.

But it was not to last. One novice seemed to focus on the adventurers, and then he was screaming and pointing and they leaped to the attack. Unfortunately, whatever had created their seeming stupor also slowed their reflexes, as they were unable to mount any kind of effective attack against the party, and soon their bodies lay still and cooling on the floor.

Continuing on, the party came upon a large scriptorium. Ancient bookshelves lined the walls of this poorly-lit chamber, while a dozen haphazardly arranged lecterns stood in the center of the room. To the south, four large glass tanks topped with intricately filigreed brass caps held shriveled, mutilated corpses dressed in the shredded finery of nobility, each suspended in murky embalming fluid.

The party wisely passed on exploring this creepy room, and continued down a south passage, happening upon a barred iron door. Barred from this side.

Curious, Ramirez unbarred the door and cautiously entered the narrow passage he had revealed. It opened into a large, square chamber devoid of furnishings or decoration. The still air within the room was dry and carried the sharp tang of foul-smelling smoke. Ramirez immediately noticed the six dark robed figures standing motionlessly around the room, and held his blade defensively as the Bodaks raised their heads in unison, attempting to catch the mortal fighter in their death gazes!

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Ramirez was staggered from their attack and went on the offensive, his heavy sword cutting into these otherworldly foes. Haza and Torquemada pushed their way into the room to assist, but were sorely pressed in the close confines. Waves of exhaustion swept over the party as the battle continued, followed by bouts of sickness that afflicted Ramirez. The bodaks did not seem to be the source of these attacks, but nothing else revealed itself.

With one last blow of his two-hander, Ramirez finally cut down the last bodak, and the weary party moved to leave the blood-splattered room. But during the battle, the iron door through which they had entered had been shut and barred from outside again!

Ramirez slammed his shoulder against the heavy portal, but it did not budge. Taking a few steps back, he tried again, but this time there was no resistance as the door flew open under his assault. He stumbled awkwardly outside and into the pit waiting just beyond the door.

He landed with a thud far below, groaning as the breath was knocked out of him. And then the walls of the pit slammed tight around his body, the heavy stone crushing into his body. Haza yelled from above, tossing a rope down and urging Ramirez to get out! He struggled to his feet as the walls receded and began to climb, but was caught halfway up again as the walls slammed shut again. He struggled on, scrambling over the top of the hungry pit as it slammed shut once more.

The party moved south away from the magical trap, bypassing another western corridor in favor of another that continued to the south.

They emerged into a larger room.

Smoothly polished skulls yellowed with age gazed from countless small alcoves perforating the stone walls of this chamber from floor to ceiling. The collection contained specimens from many races though all of the skulls were missing their jawbones, which lay on the lowest shelves beneath the skulls.

The party passed through the room, leaving the numerous skulls undisturbed.

The next connecting corridor led due east, into a chamber where rotting corpses were stacked like cordwood and rose halfway to the ceiling, threatening to collapse inward because of the path something had made, or rather chewed, through the pile. The stench of rot was overwhelming, and insects buzzed in the air like an oily cloud.

The party gasped on this thick, cloying air, but pushed onward, when something erupted out of a wall of corpses – an enormous, spider-like creature that had three clawed tails and eight legs connected by leathery webs of flesh.

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Torquemada recognized the creature as a Qlippoth. Once rulers of the Abyss, the Qlippoths were overthrown when the souls of mortal sinners arrived and transformed into the first demons.

The creature rushed forward and attacked ferociously, and Ramirez fought off it’s ferocious assault while Haza and Torquemada struggled to penetrate it’s spell resistance. Then a cone of cold blasted into the party.

Then, as Torquemada maneuvered into a better position, he noticed something standing behind them casting a spell. It was apparently unseen by the others, but revealed by his see invisibility magic.

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Torquemada lashed out at the creature, trying to catch it unawares, but it swiftly recovered from it’s surprise at being detected. It jumped back into the corridor and snarled at Torque:

“Well played, Inquisitor. But the battle is not yet over. Better tend to your friends, " intoned the werewolf-like spellcaster. And then it stepped back and dimension doored away.

Torque had now way to track the creature, and so returned to help fight the Qlippoth just as Ramirez went down under it’s claws. Torque distracted the monster while Haza healed Ramirez, who was quick to rejoin the fray.

This time, it was the Qlippoth who fell into the embrace of death.


The Urgathoan Fly

Undaunted, the party pressed on, leaving the piles of corpses and the corpse of the Qlippoth behind. They moved down a short corridor through a set of large double doors.

The ruddy glow of smoldering embers cast strange shadows on this chamber’s walls. Beyond, rows of cracked stone pews marble steps led to a raised dais encapsulating a large fire pit. Standing over the pit was an enormous iron statue of a fly; wretched screams echoing from within as some living creature was roasted alive inside the grotesque effigy. Large doors of iron stood in the wall behind the statue.

Three robed, emaciated figures stood arrayed around the fire pit, arms raised as they chanted unholy prayers in the name of Urgathoa, the Pallid Princess of the undead.

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The adventurers rushed forward to rescue whoever or whatever was inside the burning iron fly, when trio of flame strikes came roaring down from the ceiling above, scorching the party. Ramirez staggered forward, attempting to charge the three undead clerics, but his rush was blocked as burning skeletons erupted from the fire pit to meet his attack.

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Ramirez slashed his way through the undead skeletons, but the clerics continued their magical assault, and soon the group began to wither under the assault of powerful spells.

Then the iron fly moved.

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The iron golem lunged forward and smashed into Ramirez, knocking him reeling. One undead cleric fell to Haza and Torquemada, but then the wolf-creature reappeared, blasting the party with another cone of cold.

The party struggled on against the three sets of adversaries. Ramirez went down, as did Haza, and Torquemada struggled to save his companions. Two clerics had fallen, as had the wolf-creature, but the golem proved tenacious. Finally, it also fell, crashing to the floor as the last undead cleric died screaming unholy prayers.

Weary, beaten, and exhausted, the party stood triumphant.

But what terrors remained yet to face underneath the Cathedral of Blades?

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December 22nd, 2013 XP
Encounter Type XP
The Tyrant’s Whispers Haunt 38,400
The Chamberlain and His Staff – Unhallowed Spectres (4) Combat 12,800
Natisha Pavalanis – Unhallowed Vampire Combat 6,400
The Lazurite Focus Trap 9,600
Renchurch Novices (5) Trap 16,100
Dead Water Haunt 19,200
The Impaled Haunt of St. Vesbias Haunt 25,600
Mihstus (4) Combat 19,200
Immoxob – Omox Demon Combat 19,200
Total 166,500
Character XP Total Class Level (Level 15 – 635,000)
Haza 490,900 Cleric 14
Torquemada 493,075 Inquisitor 14
Ramirez 491,400 Fighter 14
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Into the Catacombs

Desnus 30th, 4711

The Death Ray

The next day found the party returning once again to Renchurch Abbey – home of the Whispering Way cult and centerpiece of their grand plan to return The Whispering Tyrant Tar-Barphon to unlife.

Returning to the haunted church, Torquemada, Haza, and Ramirez were once again greeted by cold silence and the feeling of watchful, but unseen eyes following their path as they headed through the ruined walls to the cathedral proper.

As they entered through the large iron doors, the faintest of whispers could be heard, as Torquemada was caught in a telekinetic grip and used as a weapon against his friends. The party was able to catch him and move quickly out of the foyer and the apparent reach of whatever haunted that room.

Cautiously, the adventurers moved through the desecrated nave, but nothing stirred as they proceeded past the tainted altar and stood outside the asphyxiating hallway once more. This time, the haunt was resisted, and the party pushed onto into another room, where they were greeted with an unexpected sight.

Compared to the decayed filth of the nave, this vestry was almost welcoming. Abused finery crowds the room, and heavy curtains, plush embroidered settees, rich rugs, and high-backed chairs basked in the warm light of a tabletop lantern. A large iron grate was set in the floor, a cool draft wafting up from below.

Before them stood the transparent spectre, behind which lounged a lady vampire – one of the minor nobles of Luvick Siervage’s Vampire Underground from Caliphas, Natisha Pavalanis.

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The barely visible phantom appeared as a severely dressed noble with a tall, lanky frame, dead eyes, limp gray hair, and gaunt features. He greeted the party as they entered the chamber, introducing himself as The Chamberlain as he held forth his palms in a gesture of peace and warned the party against further trespass in the home of the Whispering Way.

Unfortunately, his words did nothing to sway the party, and they moved to attack. Three other spectres rose up from the floor and joined the battle. Natisha cast a fireball into the fray, targeting Haza, but the priest of Sarenrae laughed off the attack, his faith protecting him from the flames.

The spectres got in a few hits, their negative energy hampering the humans, but not enough to turn the tide of battle. As Torquemada cut down the Chamberlain, Ramirez’s blade cut deeply into the vampire, and she fell apart into mist and flowed out of the door – doomed to die before reaching her coffin back in Caliphas.

The party examined the iron grating in the floor, but decided to continue exploring the ground floor before proceeding further.

Moving out of the vestry, the party found another door leading behind the choir, and as Haza bent an ear to listen at the door, heard a long, low moan of pain coming from someone inside the room.

To action!

Ramirez kicked in the door, and the trio rushed into the room. A sliver of jet-black crystal pulsating with necrotic energy jutted from the stone floor here. A dirty glass lens set in an intricate but tarnished brass mount two feet in diameter slowly orbited the rock from several feet away, focusing the dark energies of the crystal toward four nearby chairs that seem more like torture devices than comfortable seats. In one of those chairs sat a slight man, skin sallow and dusky, who continued to moan as the necrotic beam flowed over his body again like a wave of vile darkness. Five robed figures stood nearby, overseeing the procedure.

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The novices turned at the sound of the party’s entrance, but were unprepared for the strength of their assault. One of the novices attempted to turn the necrotic beam on Torquemada, but his death ward protected him, and the novices were quickly overwhelmed.

Torquemada freed the man from his bondage, and questioned him about his appearance here. He introduced himself as Cleves Drollac, a treasure hunter from Caliphas who had been captured and was being tortured by the Whispering Way. Something in his story did not sit well with the inquisitor, who after attempting to get a clearer answer, decided the man’s fate by cutting off his head as he sat helpless before him.

The group continued onward, entering the next room. Dozens of moldering relics littered this room, some haphazardly crammed into gilded display cases, others arranged with care and placed on tarnished stands. The group quickly searched the place. Torquemada discovered a bejeweled ceremonial headset that he took with him, but the group did not linger long and moved to the next room.

Ancient sarcophagi leaned haphazardly along the walls here. Stained teacups and cracked saucers were set on a low table, next to a matching teapot sitting atop a silver warmer. The gruesome remains of a desiccated human forearm lay on a small chopping block among powdered remnants of a bitumen soaked shroud.

Past this room, a small landing held a winding iron stair that led downward.

At this point, the party decided to return to the vestry to further investigate the iron grate they had seen earlier, hoping that it offered an alternative entrance to the catacombs below.


The Catacombs

Having moved the heavy grate out of the way, the group stood huddled around the dark hole leading down. It appeared to drop about 15’ and opened up into a larger, stone-floored room. Ramirez went down first, and the others quickly followed.

A single candle illuminated a large marble tomb beneath an iron grate overhead. The chiseled effigy of a simple foot soldier, rather than an armored knight, adorned the lid of the sarcophagus, and a gigantic sword, rusted and notched, hung from hooks over the tomb.

Wihtout warning, the bloody mutilated body of a slight-framed foot soldier manifested, his body impaled by several dozen broken, black-fletched arrows and wielding a massive rusted sword twice his size that matched the greatsword hanging near the tomb. The haunt screamed a silent war cry and attacked the intruders. The party quickly realized that their attacks were having no effects, and Ramirez made to grab the sword hung over the sarcophagus. He turned as the haunt attacked him, and was gratified to feel this new blade strike home, sending the soldier’s body back as it staggered in pain. Ramirez pressed his advantage, and as the soldier sunk to his knees, clutching his side, the figure suddenly disappeared and the air felt clear.

There was little else in the now-empty room, except for a small set of stairs leading out of the room. The temperature dropped to a cavernous chill as the rough-hewn stairs gave way to cramped catacombs. The smell of old decay emanated from dozens of alcoves containing broken skeletal remains, their eyeless skulls staring forward into emptiness with dead, vacuous gazes.

As the party tried to find their way in the many, twisting catacombs, they stumbled into a larger room. Torquemada noticed a faint sound of rushing water, when torrents of gray water littered with bones, dead flesh, and worms suddenly gushed out of the catacombs’ alcoves, creating an inescapable wave of water that quickly flooded the catacombs. There was a sensation of drowning in the churning waters, but the party resisted the haunt’s evil embrace. And just as quickly as the water appeared, it receded.

The group continued on, finding a wider passageway that led to a set of stone doors. They heard nothing, so cautiously opened them revealing a large room.

Irregular pools of fetid water marred the floor of this chamber like the exposed marrow of sawed bone, and a harsh acidic vapor burned the nostrils. Funerary urns sealed with thick red wax lined the perimeter of the chamber, and several more rested on a small island in the room’s center.

The adventurers moved into the open room, but nothing seemed to react to their presence. They began to move towards the two doors they had espied on the other side of the room when the attack came.

Two funerary urns flew up into the air over the fetid pools, smashing into each other and releasing two strange clouds of mists. Mists which appeared to be alive.

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The evil elementals moved to attack as another pair of urns released even more Mihstus. As the battle was joined, another creature attacked as it rose dripping from a slimy pool. An Omox demon!

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The party was hard pressed by the demon’s assault, as an acid fog filled the room, burning and choking the humans and the extra-planar monsters continued their attacks. Then Haza destroyed the demon with a destruction spell, and the Mihstus were quickly dispatched.

However, the group discovered that their original entrance had closed and was apparently sealed shut as were the other two doors. The acid fog still continued to eat away at them as they looked around for a way out.


The Christmas Room

Torquemada spotted the anomaly first. A small passageway beckoned from the side of the room. He was sure it had not been there a moment ago, but there were no other options at this point, so he led the party to the archway, revealing a wood-walled and floored passageway leading onward.  The passageway was lit by the flickering light of torches or some other fire source ahead, and the faint smell of wood smoke, as well as hints of other scents, wafted on the warm air.

The passageway opened up into a square room, perhaps 20’ on a side.  

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The wooden floor was covered with lavishly decorated plush throw rugs, each depicting a winter scene – a group of figures ice skating on a pond, a festive bonfire scene on a pine-studded hilltop, and a rotund old man driving a sleigh pulled by northern deer.

In the middle of the wall to the right, a large fireplace stood, a cheerful fire burning in it’s depths.  A small pot of gently simmering liquid (which turned out to be hot cocoa) was perched nearby, and an ample supply of firewood was stocked on either side.

The hearth itself was merrily decorated with pine cones, holly leaves, and sprigs of mistletoe.  Three stockings hung off the side, bursting at their seams with oranges, apples, and other fruits.

Next to the fireplace, a round table and three chairs sat.  The table was stacked with food – a baked pheasant, roasted prime rib, ripe round cheeses, fresh loaves of bread, and bottle of wines awaited.

To the left, three overstuffed couches covered with red and green pillows, blankets, and quilts sat next to a large wooden tub, obviously filled with hot steaming water, fragrant with mint and pine.

Against the far wall, a small wooden table stood next to the wall beneath a large portrait of the same rotund man featured in the rug.  He was holding a large sack of toys in one hand, while the other was pointing to the table below.  An engraving on the painting showed the title – “Father Christmas.”

On the table a small card read “Please take one.  Have a Merry Christmas!” 

Next to it sat a deck of cards.

Torquemada explained that Father Christmas was a demigod of Winter in an alternate Prime Material Plane – a place known as Earth (though unrelated to the Elemental Plane of Earth).

There was little left to do but relax and recuperate in this apparent safe haven.

Except to maybe take a card…

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December 8th, 2013 XP
Encounter Type XP
Gruesome Guerney Haunt 25,600
Conflagration Haunt Haunt 19,200
Quickwoods (2) Combat 9,600
Svoac the Gate Tender, Athach Combat 19,200
Reaper Door Trap 9,600
The Tyrant’s Whispers Haunt 38,400
Barbed Devil Combat 12,800
The Tolling Bell Haunt 12,800
Corpulent Ghouls (10) Combat 32,200
Vallabal, Meladaemon Combat 12,800
Asphyxiating Taxidermy Haunt 25,600
Total 217,800
Character XP Total Class Level (Level 14 – 445,000)
Haza 435,400 Cleric 13
Torquemada 437,575 Inquisitor 13
Ramirez 435,900 Fighter 13
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Through the Bladed Doors

Desnus 29th, 4711

Renchurch Cathedral

Having recovered from the attack of the hideous banshee, Torquemada, Haza, and Ramirez decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and the party retreated from Renchurch Abbey, returning to the rocky cliff area where they had camped earlier. Haza once again called upon the power of Sarenrae to stone shape a cave where none had existed moments before, and sealed the entrance behind them, preventing their discovery by the agents of the Whispering Way.

Luckily, their clever plan worked. The party rested through the evening, undisturbed by the festering evil that lurked nearby.

The next morning the party set out towards the Abbey once again. There was still no overt signs of activity this day, nor was there any evidence that their intrusion yesterday had been noticed. Even so, they approached cautiously, but nothing stirred as they entered the walls of the ruined abbey.

This time, the party decided to check out some of the other outbuildings before continuing to the cathedral proper. While many were crumbling ruins, an intact one near the gateway beckoned, and the party quickly infiltrated the grounds and entered the structure.

Inside, several gurneys and stained surgeon’s tables were pushed to the far corners of the main room. Broken scalpels, leech cups, and other bloodletting instruments littered the floor. A heavy, musky scent pervaded the stale air, and splatters of old blood stained the unstable walls.

Further investigation led to another room, this one empty but for a single, bloodstained gurney in the center of the room.

Suddenly, the image of a phantom monk with dozens of leech-cups applied to his torso appeared on the gurney. The monk then exploded in a torrent of bloody ichor and thousands of writhing leeches, which covered those present and began draining their blood. A wave of magical weakness swept through the run, as everyone lost blood to the horrifying haunt.

The party quickly retreated and decided to leave the building. As they left out of the front door, however, they noticed that the doorway was now bracketed by two withered and gnarled oak trees. Trees that had not been there a few minutes before. Were it not for the images of sinister faces peeking out from their dark gray bark, they would have looked like any other ragged oak tree. That and the fact their bare branches hosted several desiccated corpses whose rusted armor bore the faint remnants of crusader heraldry.

Quickwood.jpg

Before the adventurers could react, a roar rang out from overhead, as a large figure came hurtling down from the rooftop, landing with a heavy shuddering thud on the soft earth. This giant’s maw contains a pair of dripping tusks, but it was it’s gangly third arm that made its appearance truly bizarre.

Svoac_the_Gate_Tender.jpg

The Athach and Quickwoods fell on the party, attempting to destroy these invaders in the lands of the Whispering Way. But these were seasoned adventurers, and no so easily dispatched. The evil trees soon fell to blade and spell, and the outmatched giant fared no better.

The group decided to press on to the Cathedral itself at this point. In the center of the monastery’s grounds, the cathedral of Renchurch sat perched on a scabby crust of crumbling rock, the black spines of its blood-soaked blades spearing into the stormy sky. The cathedral’s exterior walls were constructed in grand gothic style, but appeared ruined and even collapsed in places. The outer walls incorporated tens of thousands of broken blades into their construction.

Two massive iron doors constructed from hundreds of broken blades and ancient weapons formed the sole entrance into the windowless abbey. Ramirez led the way, pulling on the latch which easily opened.

Triggering the trap.

Silently and swiftly the heavy iron doors slammed forward, catching the party unawares and crashing heavily into their bodies. Luckily, it was not a killing blow, but powerful nevertheless.

A bit more cautiously, they moved forward, entering the redoubt of their foes.

The crumbled remains of a collapsed belfry littered the eastern side of the once-fine tessellated floor of this ruined processional, the shards of broken bells protruding at sharp
angles from the rubble. A half-collapsed archway revealed a massive congregational chamber in the darkness beyond. The faint hint of whispered murmurs pervaded the stale air like leathery bat wings.

A faint whispering could be heard in the still air, and as the party struggled to identify the words spoken, Ramirez yelped as he flew up into the air and began spinning around, crashing and battering into his companions. As they struggled to catch their friend, something landed on the floor of the room to the east. A flight of barbed arrows heralded the arrival of this new threat – a barbed devil!

Barbed_Devil.jpg

The hellspawn tore into the group, as Ramirez continued to spiral around through the air helplessly. Finally, he was able to break the telekinetic grip of whatever had ensnared him, and he joined the fight against the devil, who quickly fell under the two-handed of the master fighter.

The party decided to investigate the room from which the devil had come. Inside, rickety wooden stairs spiraled around the inner perimeter of a tower. A huge bell of cracked bronze lay in the middle of the floor, long fallen from its mounts high above.

Ramirez stepped forward to investigate the fallen bell.

And then a ghostly bell appeared in the belfry, tolling doom for all who hear it with an earsplitting clangor. The shockwave swept over the party, tossing them violently to the floor and causing them to shriek in agony. And then it passed, leaving the group with bleeding ears and pounding heads.

Having had enough of this, the group decided to continue on further into the cathedral proper, and headed into the nave.

Hundreds of skulls decorated carved stone columns in macabre arrangements, casting their dead gazes over this empty chamber. High overhead, intricate buttresses like crooked bony fingers supported a massive vault, and the walls alternated between rich panels of aged wood and collapsed stonework piled floor to ceiling. A fresh, bloody smear stained the floor between the broken pews, leading to a chamber to the west.

Following the bloodstain, the group crept up onto a horrifying scene.

In the ruined sacristy, fresh bloodstains spattered the walls and floor of this rubble-filled chamber. A makeshift, bloodstained altar stood in the center of the room. Six voracious, bloated ghouls inhabited this chamber, feasting on the fresh corpse of a man seemingly dragged here from the back of the cathedral.

Corpulent_Ghoul.jpg

The creatures finally sensed fresh blood, and turned to attack the party, only to be met by the swelling power of Sarenrae as commanded by Haza.

Torquemada and Ramirez drew steel and attacked, but as Ramirez cut down one of the bloated figures, it exploded into a shower of blood and gore, covering the fighter in diseased flesh. Undeterred, he returned to the fight, and soon the undead ghouls fell to the embrace of true death.

There was nothing to be done for the hapless Varisian man, so the party continued their explorations, moving onto the choir.

Cracked stone steps descended steeply into this dedicated choir, which held a long table covered in the eviscerated remains of obviously humanoid corpses. A once-opulent bishop’s throne overlooked the choir from the east, its jewels and gold sheeting long plundered, and now covered in greasy, foul-smelling brown hair.

Waves of fatigue crashed over the party, and they turned to look for this new threat but nothing was there. Then an agonizing pain as the party’s skin began to shrivel and desiccate, as the moisture was sucked from their bodies from a horrid wilting.

And still nothing appeared.

Torquemada suddenly realized that their attacker was above them, and Haza cast light to see what they faced.

Meladaemon.jpg

A meladaemon. A harbinger of death by starvation and thirst.

And then it swept down upon then, knocking the sword from Ramirez’s grasp and casting quickened magic missiles into Torquemada. The daemon moved off into the darkness, ahead of Ramirez, and grabbed his magic blade. It turned to face the enraged fighter and then simply teleported away!

And then it was back, attacking with scabrous claws and teeth.

The daemon fought to the death, cursing the mortals even as it was banished back to Abaddon.

But of Ramirez’s blade, there was no sign.

Haza suggested casting a Locate Object spell in the morning, and their next action was discussed. Finally, the party agreed to press on a bit farther, if only to see what was left in the cathedral.

Heading into the apse, the group spied the central point of worship in this dark church – the altar. This cracked altar smoldered with gray fumes; upon it were stacked foul offerings of bloody skulls, decayed flesh, and broken scythe blades.

Again, faint whispers filled the air, and Ramirez stepped forward, nonchalantly beginning to consume scraps of dead flesh from the altar. Torquemada and Haza were shocked, and exhorted Ramirez to stop, but he did not seem to think his actions unusual in any way. Finally, they were forced to push him from the “table,” and continued on into a nearby hallway as the evil whispers faded into the distance.

As with the rest of Renchurch Cathedral, this hallway was also filled with death and horror. Dozens of decapitated human heads preserved as crudely mounted trophies adorned the walls of this tall, imposing hallway. As Torquemada walked down it’s length, all of the heads came to life, their mouths gasping for breath. The party also found themselves gasping for breath, slowly asphyxiating in tandem with the haunted hallway!

Retreating now, the party backed out of the haunted hallway, and resolved to leave the abbey grounds for the day to rest and regroup. They returned to the site of their camp from the previous night, Haza once again using stone shape to create a secure cave for their protection and security.

Night fell across the Hungry Mountains as the party settled in for the night.

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