With so much time having elapsed since we last made a log in our adventure, I feel it pertinent to give very rough account of the events that have occurred ever since. I do not attempt this lightly, as there will be things left out due to both memory and time’s effect on it, but I do not attempt it for myself, I attempt this for whoever, or whatever comes next. If we fail in our upcoming mission, then certainly our lives could be forfeit, as it is with adventuring, but this time we go against the law.
We last left off with the tower in the Shieldlands in search of the Anvil of Vecna. The many horrors that we saw and experienced could never be explained in enough detail as to fully describe them, but nonetheless we survived. The Drow occupying the tower were funneling the eternal suffering of dozens upon dozens of people to what I could only assume was a ritual regarding the Anvil itself. All the magicks were taken to a central location where we found a large group of Drow Clerics surrounding the Anvil itself, performing a ritual. We were found out, and greatly wounded by fire before we could act. We plunged into the thick of battle, where Sir Arkemis was permanently injured, and many of us were close to death upon its end. Unfortunately, the ritual was completed, a sort of Vile teleportation spell that could have sent the Anvil anywhere. After defeating the Drow, we were discovered by the Duke and taken back to the encampment, where we explained all that we had found and experienced. The Duke, beset by this seeming defeat, hinted very heavily that we were to leave his employ and take word of this confirmation of the Anvil of Vecna to the Pale. With heavy hearts, and pursued by the Duke’s men as deserters, we eventually made it to the Pale, though our names are forever on the books as traitors to the County of Urnst.
In our travels we come to find out that the High Sunkeeper has died, and a new Conclave is about to begin to elect a new one. It is because of this that we find our travels both more and less difficult. Stopping off in the city that Amelia spent much of her life, we find the dead have been rising in the country where that just doesn’t happen. Acutely aware of how not good this is, we investigate heavily, only to find out that the Priest that has gone missing was actually killed by a servant of the three evil gods and sacrificed in a vile ritual, no unlike the one we had seen in the tower. Defeating the evil, at the sacrifice of the Paladin’s life that helped us, we found that the catacombs underneath the church were ones that held Cardinals, but not any that I had ever heard of, let alone in an area that to my knowledge, held no Cardinal Seat, ever, and the man who had been sacrificed held the identifying markers of a Cardinal as well!
Taken aback by all the new information, we headed to Wintershaven once more only to find the city almost impossible to move around during normal hours. Using the prayer times to move about the city, we were eventually able to get inside to see the heads of the church of Heironeous and St. Cuthbert, the latter only on the word of the former as a favor. With the two Churchs backing us, they petitioned the State of the Pale to hear us and our plea, which was granted. After learning much about the politics of the Pale, we eventually were seen and we presented our case. Two stand out men in the Cardinals spoke, an older man and a younger, who’s names I would rather not spell incorrectly and will be referenced to thus. Eventually they dismissed us, talked amongst themselves, and came to the decision that they would not come to one. There was much infighting of the Cardinals, as it seemed to be between the two men on who would become the new High Sunkeeper. The time allotment came and went, and the Light of Palor went out, and the Church split into two different Churchs. The city went into utter and complete chaos as thousands died in the riots that attempted to destroy the Cardinals for their hubris. The older man took the reigns of the city and attempted to calm the people, while casting out the younger man who, him and his fellow Cardinals, left to make a hold elsewhere. The group followed the younger, if not only because they preferred him to the older. The ceremony was performed at both sites, and both claimed to have spoken to Palor himself. The group showed the High Sunkeeper the letter from the Duke, one that should only be able to be read by the High Sunkeeper, and he offered his help to us, however little he could.
With no absolute direction, we faced a problem: what do we do now? For some time we discussed it, and eventually we came to the consensus that we should find out what happened to our beloved Duke, and the best place to do that would be in the New Shieldlands, and the front of the Eternal Crusade. As we slowly made our way into Furyondy, Kit asked that we stop by her childhood home as it was barely off the path we were going to take anyhow. The group agreed that it was fine and off we went. Come to find out, the area has been ravaged again, but this time by deserters from the Furyondian military who have been destroying the land to the point of magically preventing things from ever growing there again, along with rape (assumed), pillaging, and burning of farmsteads. On behalf of the peasants, we took the issue to the area’s Count, who was not there. So we went up the chain to the Duke of the area. Come to find out, the Count was in court as we presented the case to the Duke, and was chastised for not doing his duty. We offered our services to help the Count clear his area of these bandits, and it was agreed.
Based on the information that we were provided, we came up with a plan to hopefully lure the people to one of their assumed escape routes which seemed to be mining cave networks. We set up a trap that we were to spring in the cave when they arrived, and in an effort to not be surprised by anything already within the caves, we began to explore them. After discovering and clearing out undead, and clearing the cave of a dragon welp, a Paladin of Heironeous stumbled across the group. Cedric the Shiny had been lead here by the call of his god, and with him we explored some deeper reaches of the dungeon.
The group decided that it would be a good idea to take a mine cart ride to the bottom of the shaft we picked, only to find out that was a stupid decision. With the Paladin almost dying, and being saved by Kit, we should have turned around, but didn’t. We continued down for three days. This was a bad sign and we knew it, but we wanted to make sure. Coming across fissures in the earth that the mine cart had originally gone across, but was broken through by something smashing it upwards as if flying up out of the depths, we were drawn down further. The group went down until finally, we came across a cave of glowing moss, a first indicator that the Underdark is near. After battling a giant worm, instead of going down and following cart tracks that we had discovered, we finally went back up to the original area where we had intended to lay our trap.
Finding that humanoids had come and gone already, we kicked ourselves for our stupidity and went after them. With Kit on their trail, we eventually made it to a walled in cave where I shattered a hole in the entrance, enough to get through. There in the cave system, we found a used, inactive Teleportation Circle. Angry and disappointed with losing our quarry, but unwilling to venture in further until we’d had sleep, the group sleeps nearby. Awoken to the sounds of battle, we had been attacked by rogues! After finishing them off, we look to see if there are others, and we find more. Attacking first, asking questions later, we kill the group only to find empty wands and tokens, one for each of them. Confident that we were in the right, we find a stash of 10 cloaks, one for each rogue we fought, plus 4. We lost their trail, as the cave was massive and there could have been any number of ways they could have come from, or gone.
We take our defeat in stride and head back to the city of the Count, and come to find out much has occurred in our absence. The King of Furyandy has been kidnapped, the Duke assumed mortally wounded or dead, the Count is dead, and the Countess is in his place. Determined to report all that we have found, Sir Arkemis gets us an audience with the Countess and we recount the events of the last week or so. She seems….off to several members of the party, as the last time we met her she was a meek, unassuming woman, and now the person that stood before us was powerful, determined, confident yet stressed, fully in control of the affairs of state, and above all else, she had little sadness for her dearly departed husband. A very different picture than was painted initially, especially considering how much she seemed to love the Count the first time we met. It was this that made the group wonder if she had anything to do with the events that had recently transpired, whether she was mind controlled or had simply been playing the Count for some time, though the possibility that she simply took up the mantle incredibly well exists.
With that in mind, we decided to seek the Black Market, without the knowledge of our Paladin of course. With the help of Amelia we found a man to buy and sell things from, most especially information. The man didn’t recognize the token, but he did have a lead for us. The lead we got was that there was a prisoner in the jail sent there directly by the Countess herself. Heading to the jail, and using the Paladin and our resident minor noble as a beating stick, we bug the Countess enough to have her let us question the prisoner, coming to find out that it is the previous Captain of the Guard!
Sir Arkemis questions him, secretly letting him know that we think he is innocent. He also says he in innocent and that he is confident he knows who is behind all of this, but he cannot say who in present company, *cough*the Countess*cough*. The Captain also lets us in on the fact that when morning comes, he is to be executed, and with that the party decides to go on a mission to rescue the man from the very place he was sworn to protect and serve.