In which our heroes discover there’s never a dull moment in the big city!

Dramatis Personae: Berrian, Gil, Tasklar (and Galindan)
Source: “The Hall of Harsh Reflections” (Dungeon 127)

After hauling their asses out of the fire cult dungeon, the PCs went their separate ways. Tasklar headed back to see Aunty Wormtooth for some more restorative magic, while Karth headed off to the big city to see if he could upgrade his gear. Who knows where Gil went.

Berrian, meanwhile, lovingly wrapped his sister’s body in cloth soaked in linseed oil and alcohol and carted it off to Iriandel’s domain. Unfortunately, the unicorn and his wood elves knew of no way to restore Bhára to life in her own body. Not wanting to reincarnate her in a new body, nor willing to go home and tell his parents that he’d failed to protect her, he took a different path …

Back in Larchwood, Gil and Tasklar were hanging out at the inn when Berrian walked in with another elf, whom he introduced as Galindan Galanodel, Bhára’s lover. Berrian went and spoke privately with Kaylessa, who suggested he visit an old acquaintance of hers, a sage named Eligos, in the city of Amaranthine. She gave him a letter of introduction, wrapped up in a pretty little bow. The cousins agreed to accompany Berrian on his journey, and off they went.

When they arrived, Tasklar was able to talk the city guards at the gate out of searching them for contraband. Berrian led them into the swanky Garden District, where they found Eligos’ marbled mansion. He was shocked to see an aged elf acting as the sage’s manservant! Eligos himself was a rather impressive fellow. He agreed to help but said it would take him about a week to find out what he could, based on the rather vague clues Berrian had given him. He refused to say where he’d gotten these clues as well.

Eligos suggested they stay at an inn called the Crooked House, run by a friend of his, a gnome by the name of Tarquin Shortstone XXIV. The PCs spent the next few days wandering around the city, seeing the sights and getting to know the place a bit better.

On the evening of the third night, after Galindan had retired early to “study his spellbooks”, the elf suddenly came back down to the common room and proceeded to stab Tarquin in the neck with a dagger. Thinking it was very unlike a mage to use a knife, Gil leapt up and dashed after the mage as he ran back up the stairs. Berrian leapt over the bar and used his dragonmark of healing to save Tarquin’s life, while Tasklar found himself having to placate an angry, drunken crowd being riled up by a portly merchant.

After a bit of a scuffle, it turned out that the would-be assassin was not Galindan but a doppelganger who’d taken on his form! The merchant turned out to be one as well. Tasklar was convinced that Tarquin must be mixed up with the wrong crowd, but the gnome was equally adamant that it had had nothing to do with him. He suggested that someone had it out for the PCs!

The next day, Gil took a strange key he’d found on the body of the doppelganger assassin to a thieves’ guild friend of his named Archie. A few hours later, he’d learned that it unlocked the doors to an old warehouse on the riverfront called the “Sodden Hold”.

The PCs went to check it out. The main warehouse floor was filled with dusty crates and barrels. Some of them turned out to be mimics, much to everyone’s surprise. Gil found something he swiftly pocketed in a back room (a ring of swimming made of fire coral), and then Tasklar discovered that a section of the floor was trapped. Up on the catwalk at the back of the room, they found a secret door that led to a prison area! Two men dressed as city guards turned out to be more doppelgangers! There was also a human with a broken mind and a traumatized elf noblewoman, who let Tasklar keep her periapt of health as a reward for saving her life. She also told Berrian that her family now owed him favor.

The room beyond that was mostly broken apart, with river water swirling around below the few remaining planks and pylons that once held up the floor. An invisible stalker was guarding this room, but Tasklar lit it up with faerie fire and it was swiftly dispatched. Unfortunately, the good bard made the mistake of treading out onto a plank that tipped him into the water, where he ended up getting impaled on some hidden blades. Gil and Berrian fished him out and revived him, and that is where we left things.

Temple of Eternal Flame

Dramatis Personae: Berrian, Bhára, Gil, Karth, Tasklar
Source: “Temple of Eternal Flame” (Princes of the Apocalypse)

NB. This recap is the last in a series written by Karth (and edited by me) and covers two sessions of play.

After a short rest, we returned once again to the temple, half-expecting the remaining cultists to have fled. Sneaking in the same way we had entered the last time, it all seemed eerily quiet at first. Heading up the stairs, with our invisible rogue with his slippers of spider climbing scouting ahead, we re-entered the room with the large crucible. This time, however, the cultists had set a trap. It summoned a fire elemental and then all hellfire broke loose. Surging ahead, it engulfed me and set upon Berrian. The damage from being hit by the elemental was not significant, but the damage from me hitting it was moreso! After defeating it, we headed deeper into the dungeon.

Heading to a previously unexplored section of the temple, we came across a strangely cold room. After some time exploring, and discovering that one corner was extremely cold, I realized that there was brown mold there. With no way to harm it, we left it alone. Fortunately our bard, Task, was successful in locating a long unused secret door, thanks to his dragonmark. Heading down the dusty corridor, we came to an old dwarven armory. Looking around, we found a strange shield with a clockwork mechanism on it, which Berrian decided to use [Basically you can elect to roll a d6, 1 = slowed, 3-4 = nothing, 5-6 = hasted for 1 minute). At this point we all decided it was time to rest and regain spells.

The next morning, we followed the disused corridor to the other end, where we came to another area with locked rooms. Opening them, we found many enslaved creatures: salamanders and azers. At this point it all turned against us. It turned out they hated each other, but we had no real way to communicate with them. Rather than having an army to support us, instead they started attacking each other. We decided to support the azers. I killed one salamander, only to realize that its companions had killed several of the azers in the meantime.

We decided to leave them to their fight and run. So run we did, straight into an area we thought would be the main exit out but which still held several ogres. The battle itself wasn’t too bad, with our bard using his fireball spell (from some bard skill he has) to kill most of them. A search of the area found us some loot buried in the rubble, and a scout down long corridors made us realize this was not the way we wanted to go.

Scouting back to the great furnace, we found what we had hoped: the salamanders had gone on a rampage, killing most of those in the furnace area and dying themselves. It was now empty of enemies. We located what appeared to be a lift down, but we had no interest in using it just then. We headed back to the final area we were interested in searching, deep in the temple beyond the red door.

Now this is where it got crazy … we followed a long corridor down into a shrine area, where we found what we thought were the leaders of the cult. They had captured Bhára and were about to kill her. One of them was the damned mage who could turn invisible and still attack us … and the other was Calla!

To everyone’s surprise, I tried to reason with Calla. I was in shock that she was still alive. Before I could calm matters down, however, the elf raced in to attack those that held his sister. A mighty battle it was, the four of us (five once Bhára was free) managed to kill the other mage (I was convinced she was somehow controlling Calla but it turned out she wasn’t) and a couple of the guards, while Calla fled. We were all badly damaged with many fireballs thrown, and these somehow ignored my fire resistance, so even I was hurting. We were forced to hole up and have a short rest. We scouted around and found a secret room that held little of value beyond a scroll of wall of sand, which Berrian took. Bhára also explained to us that our druidic allies, Gariena and Sauruki, had also been captured. They’d been taken “down below”, whatever that meant.

Then it was time to leave. I had blocked the door into this area shut, though we knew someone had tried to break in at one point. Bhára used clairvoyance to scout the room on the other side of the red door, and we knew we were in for a major fight: four fire cult guards, two fire mages, Calla, and another fire cult leader of some kind.

But we were prepared! Opening the door, we took some immediate damage before our shatter spells, and more importantly, wall of sand went off. The wall of sand meant the mages lost line of sight to us, so they couldn’t attack us with whatever spells they’d prepared.

It was a mighty battle! I called out to Calla that I would save her as we quickly smashed through the soldiers even though spells of fire and necromancy rained upon us. Victory was in our grasp! Calla had been forced to flee with Berrian chasing after her. The two weaker mages were dead, and the other leader – a fire genasi – was forced to flee as well, misty stepping to Calla and Berrian … and then victory was taken away.

First Berrian went down, allowing the two enemy leaders to flee, then Gil fumbled his attempt to heal Berrian. And the rest of us reached our dying comrade just in time to be met with a departing fireball from Calla (I think). Fortunately, I’d taken out my healing kit and tossed it to Gil as I’d gone running down the corridor.

I awoke lying in circular room with a well in it. Tasklar and Berrian were still alive, but Gil had some bad news for us. He’d been unable to get to Bhára in time. There were simply too many friends to keep alive and not enough time (or hands). [DM note: Everyone was rolling death saves, and we had Gil, whose player was actually absent for this session, spending an action each round to use the healing kit on one of his allies. Unfortunately, there were four people he had to use it on, and he left Bhára for last, and her player rolled three failures in a row. Luckily, her player enjoyed the fact that her new character had been killed by her old one.]

I decided it was time to abandon my quest for revenge … for now. The remaining fire cultists would just have to wait till later.

Player’s note: OK, the final battle had highs and lows and definitely challenged us. We have all levelled up, and Bhára’s player is now deciding what she will do next. Karth is now a Barbarian 6 / Rogue 2, looking at the extra mobility as a means to get behind the front lines to attack the squishy mages! I prefer playing multi-class characters, even though I miss out on the top level buffs, because I like the extra flexibility and flavor. It means I am running behind the others stat/feat-wise for a bit but the aim is another 2 rogue levels (going for assassin), using a finesse weapon for extra damage and using sneak more to try and get surprise attacks in … The problem is stats or feats next … I like shield master with my advantage on dex saves at this point!