Secret War

Ruins of Zhentir Part II

After squashing some giant centipedes the party found themselves surprised by hordes of ghouls hiding out in what used to be a body preparation room. Moving on from their, Iados quietly crept over coffin lids of wood and stone and found the crematorium; urns and a great furnace with arcane runes on it. Kroog discovered that a being was bond to the furnace. Inside was a straight wooden staff. Iados was pulled in and set on fire by a Efreeti. At the offer of three wishes the party released it, but he laughed and left. Rhygar discovered a secret door behind the urns, and got himself a Staff of Striking.
Behind the secret door lay a room untouched for 500 years. A gleaming great sword lay undisturbed, though it spoke to Kroog’s mind. Upon taking it up, a contest of wills was fought between it, Smiter, and his own berserker sword.
Two more secret doors later, the party entered a cavern and fought off a large contingent of duergar. Casca summoned a guardian in the form of a dragon and light burned those duergar nearby. The leader laughed as the rest escaped stating that the Godson would soon rise. Down the hall at an intersection, a red glow and chanting lay to the north, fluttering wings and clanking metal to the east, and whimpering to the south. The party went south and found the captives. Before they could act, they were attacked by a Bone Devil. Using great strength, Kroog grabbed the devil and forced it to the ground. Rhygar trapped it in thorns tearing at its body over and over as it sought to destroy Kroog to no avail with Iados piercing it with magical sword and dagger. Much to its own surprise it was defeated without ever being able to move.
Summoning Dirge, he created a teleportation circle to take the people all away. Before finishing, they were discovered and undead flooded the passageway. Kroog, now wielding the cursed Smiter, and Rhygar as a dire wolf stood in the way. Wave after way came. Iados led the prisoners through the portal, and just then, a female wielding a morningstar appeared and threw down a blade barrier, cutting off half the circle and slaughtering Kroog. Casca seeing this, pulled him from the blades and uttered a desperate prayer to the gods with next to no chance of being heard. But heard she was. The old hag appeared and revealed her true form as Mystra. Kroog was completely healed and charged through the blades, grabbing the woman and knocking her into her own spell. The blades vanished and the two exchanged blows. This servant of the Godson cursed Kroog, who left her with a parting shot as he retreated back once everyone had gone through the portal. The earth shook in rage, and the dark form with green eyes floated toward them cursing the loss of sacrifices. He is Iyactu Xvim, Godson of Bane.
As the earth torn asunder, Kroog was torn between trying to save Smiter or fleeing with Casca. In the end, his heart won out and he left the sword to be buried in the waste of the underground ancient keep.

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Ruins of Zhentir Part I
Party on way to Zhentil Keep, or rather the ruins. Encounter highwaymen roughing up some merchants. Merchants reward party for helping them, then offer them 2,000 gp each for freeing their kin in Zhentil Keep.

A couple of giants and a white dragon stand in the way, and after a “strategic” retreat, a wall of thorns, an air elemental, and some heavy hitting take them down.
Once inside the keep, or what is still standing on the southern shore, the party heads to the Defiant Gesture and a drunken half-elf named Tellurain offers to guide the party to the tunnels where the kidnapped victims are. A mysterious lady keeps following the party only to disappear when approached. Eventually she delivers a message, as the voice of Mystra, “They quest is just, though ye know not what ye do. Accept no other-stray not from thy duties, lest ye confront your inevitable bane!”
Behind a frozen ship lie the tunnels. The party falls asleep to a Sign Spell, but awake to meet a friendly wizard named Dirge. He fills the party in on some info about the sewers and ancient rooms that are hidden here. He gives the party a sending stone and tells them they can call him forth if the need is dire.
After getting lost in the tunnels, the party finds a room full of statues. Krough nearly becomes one of them, but is saved by Casca’s Death Ward. A medusa and a gorgon are defeated and a magical dagger is found.
They make it back to the main tunnels and discover a secret passage behind a wall of vines (which the druid could have just asked them about). Giant centipedes fall on Iados and Rhygar as they pass through the vines.

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Mandragora

Young halfling Rita needed rescuing from bandits. Companion, Job turns into plantlike monster. Baron Baltac invites the party to his castle and explains the Mandragoran curse. Party agrees to retrieve the heart of a mandragora tree in exchange for 15,000 gp and a cure for Casca. Rebels break in and take her. Party follows them but their leader, Duncan, explains that they need their help to fight against the tyrant Baltac who wants to use the extract to weaponize His soldiers. Undead rise in response to Krough’s brand. Casca heals them.
At mandragora town, a nun stops the fighting and pleads for their case, telling the story of Nikoli who brought the disease to the villagers. Claims these people live happier lives because of it. Despite this, the party kills the tree, but the nun, Estereth, take the heart and flees outside only to be met by Baron Baltac’s guards. She burns to death in the fire rather than give up Nikoli. Before any fighting can begin, the Goristro, Nosferato Zog, arrives telling the party how Lord Griffith has returned and summoned him to retrieve something from the ruins of Zhentil Keep. He leaves after Krough cleaves one of his horns off.
Casca has been captured so the party fights their way to the throne room, using a young girl they found in the keep as a hostage. She turns out to be Baltac’s wife, kept young and innocent through the extrac. Baltac drinks it himself and changes and is killed by the party. Casca is inside a mandragora monster. Iados frees her as the others destroy the creature. The villagers are freed from the curse. Rita bids them farewell.

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Harried in Hillsfar

Prophecy of old crazy man leads the party to the outskirts of Hillsfar, which you learn has ejected all non-humans from the city. Strange things are happening, woman having sextuplets each with an extra digit on each hand and foot, goat having six kids with red fun and one with two heads. Giant beats at the Farbough Farms, along with an Underdark disease . Jackalweres infesting the forest near the Spring of Blessed Life. A faerie dragon named Zook decided to stay around Casca to protect this innocent. Rothe’s being turned into undead beasts by a cult to Jergal. A poor innocent priest being possessed by a shadow and then killed by Rhygar and Iados. A Goristro being summoned successfully by an elf who discovered the ancient fey’ri (elf/demon hybrids) but died for his efforts. The party has the respect of the villagers surrounding Hillsfar, and the Red Plum Guards are a bit wealthier after taking all of Krugh’s treasure; and a bit of animosity remains between the party and them.

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