The Pyres of Irefell

Chapter I: The Box of Many Mysteries

On The Northern Wind, a cog one day away from making her destination, Ironport, three new heroes began their adventure together. Ehtar, a drow warrior was keen to partake in a dice game against the trader Boris and lost 1gp to the dwarf; the wise monk Five talked to Captain Strongarm about the strange woman that was aboard the vessel, but the Captain revealed that he did not have (or at least didn't care to share) any insight into her activities or purpose. 

Boris asked Five if he would like to play the game of chance as the monk walked past, but five insinuated that the game was not fair and that Boris was actually a cheat. Ehtar, from below, heard the discussion and joined five in challenging Boris directly. Combined, the two adventurers were able to make Boris admit that he was a cheat and Boris offered future discounts on his magical items if they didn't report him to Captain Strongarm. Spurred on by five's idea that they could take all the profits and goods if they did report him and the Captain sentenced him to death, five and Ehtar reported Boris to the Captain. When confronted again, Boris tried to hide his cheating from the Captain but failed and was locked in the hold; as a reward, Ehtar and five were given 50gp each by the Captain.

Later that night, a final feast was had on the main deck. Despite Boris' incarceration, his ale was drunk (especially by Ehtar…) and a fine meal eaten. During the feast, five discussed the aspirations of the First Mate and later the worsening situation in Kehkmankar with a family escaping religious violence there. five tried to sneak his 50gp reward onto the patriarch's body, but was detected; after some initial reluctance, the man accepted the donation.

Everyone settled in for the night, but a great shudder awoke all hands as the ship ran aground on a rock and water started to pour into the hold. five freed Boris from his bonds and joined the rest of the party on the main deck where Captain Strongarm discovered that his helmsman's throat had been cut. The Captain demanded that Hob, a halfling cleric of Pelor speak with the dead to discern the murderer, but before the answer was gleaned, a raiding party of Sahuagin, slimy water monsters with spears, attacked the ship.

Iriel the elven rogue, aka Jiminawig, covered her rapier in the blood of Sahuagin as she demonstrated great fighting skill. Ehtar fought an equally matched Sahuagin before joining Iriel to fight a large, spellcasting Sahuagin on the forecastle. five used his bō and his elbows to kill one but fell overboard and barely caught himself above the water when he tried to parkour up to the helm and assist Captain Strongarm. 

Just when the adventurers and crew had the Sahuagin under control and the battle looked easily won, the last three Sahuagin disappeared overboard and a large swimming rock?! was closing on the disabled ship! 

Captain Strongarm gave to Ehtar a secret box engraved with a strange sigil

and a mission to deliver it to a cleric of Kord named Barnabus, a short way away in the town of Barrowford. To accomplish this task, Ehtar, Iriel, five, and Pock escaped into a lifeboat as a gigantic Dragon Turtle chewed through the ship like it was seaweed. 

Safely ashore in the early hours of the following morning, the party rested before setting off mid-morning into a region marked by several old Dennish barrows. Between three barrows, two of them previously opened, the group found several Skeletons battling a Rust Monster, the latter of which was drawn by the scent of metal in the freshly-opened barrows. To limit the risk of damage to their metal weapons, five went in and used his wooden bō against the rust monster and quickly defeated it while the others dispatched the skeletons. 

With the monsters killed, the party searched all three barrows for treasure and found 37 strange, old coins; a triangular rock with a rune carved into it; and two pieces of deathglass. With a bit of bardic knowledge and religious scholarship, the party recalled that Deathglass is a substance naturally occuring in and unique to Irefell, and it has the power to resurrect corpses in proximity to it; everyone agreed to remove the stones from the barrows to prevent additional dead being raised, but questioned how and why these necromantic artifacts had been placed in the barrows. The runestone, they discovered, was a key to open up the remaining closed barrow.

After being joined in their quest by the druid Lanna, who quickly disappeared but was conveniently replaced by the merfolk druid Lobus, the party fought their way to the bottom of the Barrowford cemetery, through hordes of zombies, skeletons, and a particularly precarious river, the party found that the cemetery actually connected to an ancient Dennish tomb, and at its terminus, they discovered a large chamber, where a necromancer with a skeletal mask was performing evil rites over an altar of black obsidian, scrawled with infernal runes. After vanquishing their foe and his skeletal minions, they came once more to the surface, where they were greeted by a dwarf riding a hippogriff – none other than Barnabus, the very dwarf whom they had been instructed to give the box to.

After a bit of negotiating and cautious greetings, they agreed to meet back at the inn in Barrowford to discuss the box and the implications of its discovery. At the inn, Barnabus revealed that he had come to Barrowford a year ago, waiting for a sign from his god, Kord, of a coming storm. A month prior, he began to notice the proverbial winds beginning to rise, as signs of necromantic activity increased. Finally, he tracked them to the Barrowford crypts, and witnessed a necromancer more powerful than the one the adventurers had faced, as he summoned a demonic being from the altar, slew it, and took something from its corpse. Barnabus fought with the weakened necromancer, but his foe fled before he could land the killing blow, and he lost him in the ensuing pursuit.

However, he told the adventurers that the box is made to contain either great good or great evil, and that with the right ingredients, a plant called Seer's Root, he might be able to divine its contents. However, he noted that time was also of the essence, as the box has a magical trace on it, designed to help someone or something to find it.

It was around this time that Pock Dunquil, the party's traveling companion to this point, opted to take his leave and return to Daegaren. However, the renowned bard and cartographer offered beds in his mansion should the adventurers find themselves in the capital, in return for his rescue from the Northern Wind.

In addition, Iriel found a cloak of white moth wings in the crypts of Barrowford, and after donning it, and dealing an impressive, mortal blow to the necromancer, the cloak began to speak to the elf rogue in the voice of Vizexa, the Queen of Moths. Iriel took Vizexa's offer of great power in exchange for her sworn sword in the Moth Queen's own quest for vengeance against the Githyanki knights who ended her long ago.

The adventurers now had a new task – to find enough Seer's Root to allow Barnabus to divine the contents of the box. They consulted with Selene, an herbalist who directed them to the hills northeast of town, where they might find the rare herb in a cave. But this cavern was inhabited by a vicious beast – a manticore which prowled the countryside and terrorized the farmers on the outskirts of Barrowford. However, after a bit of "goat-ing" by Ehtar (a.k.a Goat-ar) the beast was made to attack, and the band of adventurers dispatched it handily, bringing the root back to Barnabus.

On a stormy night, Barnabus channeled the power of Kord through the tempest and cast his auguries, using the seer's root to peer into the box. He saw visions of a black conch shell, scrawled in abyssal text, a merrow using it to conjure a massive, black wave that swallowed a white city whole. He also sees a throne of iron and driftwood, and a creature with two heads and tentacles, and the conch shattered into pieces. With a history-buff merfolk in the group, Lobus informs the party that this seems to mirror the legends of a relic called the Soul-Catcher, an evil item given to the merrow, sworn enemies of the merfolk, from their creator, Demogorgon. It was long thought lost to time, but now apparently resided in the box before them.

At this moment, several of the necromantic cult's most powerful members appeared, garbed in black robes and skeletal masks, and a vicious battle ensued. The party just barely managed to prevent the box from being stolen, and defeated their foes. The threat, it seemed, was over.

The adventurers enjoyed a well-deserved break at Holfyntyde, a fall harvest festival in Barrowford and the surrounding region. While Barnabus took the box north to Daegaren for safekeeping in the Temple of Kord, Pigs were wrangled, fortunes were told, old friends from The Northern Wind were found once more (Boris Rumnaheim and Vhlad) and a battle royale was had. However in the final rounds of the fight which was to conclude the night, the town and the fighting arena came under attack by members of the cult of necromancers and their undead minions. The party barely escaped with their lives thanks to help from Avilhara, a tiefling warlock whom they had met back on the Northern Wind, unbeknownst to them at the time.

Avilhara claimed to be a huntress in the service of The Jade King of Kehkmankar – a mysterious figure who is said to collect and curate magic items of power and significance, and that she was sent to retrieve the Soul-Catcher in order to avert great tragedy. After a brief discussion, she explained that the cult likely took over the town in order to use the souls of its people to fuel some kind of ritual, since the power stored within Soulcatcher is no longer available to them. She agreed to give the adventurers information to stop the necromancer cult in exchange for the whereabouts of the box. They parted ways, and the party continues on their mission to stop the cult once and for all.

They released a barbed devil from its prison in exchange for safe passage, and journeyed through a complex network of tunnels along an underground stream to find the final resting place of the legendary King Daemon Thrice-Damned, buried in secret beneath Barrowford ages ago. After battling the cultists, apparently trying to resurrect Daemon using fresh souls of the townsfolk in lieu of the power of Soulcatcher, they landed the final blow against the cultists' leader, a powerful sorceress, and ended their grip upon the town.

In the aftermath of the battle, they also found an egg that had been included in the ritual, which hatches into a silver dragon wyrmling named Angus. Ehtar also managed to find a set of powerful armor on the corpse of King Daemon.

As the adventurers helped the town rebuild in the wak of the tragedy, Lord Ulthor Barden arrived with a small force of soldiers upon hippogriffs, to award the adventurers the collective title of "Lords Protector of Barrowford", and he gifted them the management of Black Stone Keep, along with the charge to restore it to working order.

 

Comments

And after spending a night resting in Barrowford, the party finds themselves more confident and powerful than before.
#level3

JakeKing JakeKing

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