Ketrasvim Ixen Kepesk Haurach

The prophesy

By his blood was he bound
By his blood will he live
By his blood will he be free
So shall he die by his blood

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The Scroll of Kakishon

After questioning Zorov for a time and under the influence of a Zone of Truth, the group decided to return to the surface and the safety of the village before delving too deeply into the implications of the Archon’s visit. They returned to the restful garden to recover a bit before venturing back up the stairs to the Maggot Throne room.

Here they were confronted by the vanished vizier, calling himself Rokuva and demanding the Scroll. The some of the party pierced his illusion disguise and recognized him as the janni Zayifid, another of the Templars of the Five Winds. When a bluff of Rasha’s was called the room errupted into violence and the gnoll guards and Zayifid himself were slain. Nefeshti’s favor and supposed immortality seemed to have gone from this templar as they had from Kardswann.

On their way out of the House of the Beast, the group stopped to demolish a wall hiding the study of the janni, revealing his diary and the fact that it had been him in the guise of a priest of Serenrae who sent them up the mountain in the first place. He had been looking for the Pit of Screaming Ghosts as he masqueraded as a carrion gnoll.

A tribe of troglodytes seemed to be the only remaining occupants of the House of the Beast. When the party stated that they had killed ‘Rokuva’, the leader of the clan thanked them. His clan had had a tentative alliance with the carrion tribe, but when the clan leader suspected that his friend Rokuva had been killed and an imposter replaced him, the troglodytes went to war with the gnolls. However, the clan was greatly outnumbered and have been holed up in a gatehouse of the House of the Beast for months. Xeneph proposes an alliance with the troglodyte chieftain and grants him leave to stay in the fortress before the party return to Kelmarane.

Back in the village, the group attempts to research the strange scroll further. They put a name to it, the Scroll of Kakishon and recall an artifact of the wizard-king Nex, a scroll said to be the sole portal to Nex’s own sanctuary world called Kakishon. Almah Roveshki takes interest in the discovery and relates that she has an old friend in the city of Katapesh who has made his life’s study Nex’s workings and Kakishon in particular. She writes them a letter of introduction and wishes them well as they head out across the desert towards Katapesh and perhaps some answers.

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The Pit of Screaming Ghosts

After a cautious rest in the guard barracks, the party head beneath the Maggot Throne and find a strange but quiet and quite peaceful garden. Its summoned rast guardians defeated and the watchful statues broken, the garden provides a faster recovery and almonds with healing magic.

The only exit from the garden aside from the way the party came is a strange cage-like structure with carved faces screaming in torment and terran runes. When activated by terran speech, the floor of the cage reshaped itself into another spiraling stair, leading further down into the depths of the earth. Karrd insisted on going first down this dark stair, only signalling the others to follow when he found a vast treasure chamber at the stairs terminous, only a line of Ignan characters warning of devouring to cast doubt on the fabulous hoarde.

When Grace stepped off the last stair and made to touch the treasure, it was revealed to her to be only an illusion, and the water it had disguised was covered in an acidic slime that began immediately to eat into her flesh. Several ghosts rose from oubliette-like tombs and menaced the party who gradually pierced the chamber’s illusion as they fought for their lives against the incorporeal remains of slain genies.

A deadly game of stepping stones later, Zorov, Xeneph, Karrd, Grace, Avery, Oberron and Grant found themselves in the entrance of a large sandy-floored room with a crystaline tentacled statue and a strange old man seated against the near wall, eyeing the statue with marked unease. Kadam Rasha, as he identified himself warned that the frozen monstrosity would wake and attack if any ventured too far into the room or if he, Rasha tried to leave. Oberron stepped first into its grasp and the group quickly found themselves fending off the animated sand kraken’s dangerous tentacled attacks.

Past the defeated guardian, the group found a single tomb of a gnoll priestess. Within her sarcophagus, Grace found a strange satisfaction at the discovery of a mysterious scroll bearing only a single rune. Before the party could do much more, a shining woman in golden armor bearing a sword appeared blocking the exit and demanded that Zorov Denante be given over to her. She had finally found him without the dragon’s minion watching over him and said she needed his blood to destroy a powerful demon called Golgatha as per a prophesy. Grant surprised her with the information that Denante had a daughter and with Karrd and Oberron at least threatening to stand in her way, Zorov’s demand that she leave was followed. She didn’t wish to spill any blood but that required to fulfull the prophesy.

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The House of the Beast

A desert-dressed traveling priest of Serenrae visits the battle market of Kelmarane one year after the defeat of the Mouth of the Carrion King. He brings word of renewed gnoll activity and the reprecussions of the Carrion King. He advises the party to travel to the House of the Beast on the slopes of the Pale Mountain to slay the powerful gnoll before he can sweep down from the Brazen Peaks and wreak vengance on the village for slaying his vassal.

The group travels upriver for two days to the waiting house, surviving a river troll ambush on the way. They proceed quietly to the broken walls of the ancient structure dating back to the genie war several centuries ago. Karrd scouts ahead and in the largest intact surface structure finds a waiting group of guards and an imprisoned gargantuan scorpion. Working very quietly he releases the scorpion to the consternation of the guards and under cover of the ensuing chaos the party slips down the stairs to the underground complex of the house.

In their search for the Carrion King, they kill many gnolls and encounter countless desecrated human remains. They also find an insane surgeon who has twisted and perverted a sacred ritual of the goddess Lamashtu and used it to create hulking gnoll monstrosities, apparently degrading their intelligence in favor of bulking their mass and muscle.

The whole House of the Beast was constructed as a temple to Rovavgug the devourer and on a throne of twisted corpses and writhing maggots, the party confronts the Carrion King himself, a creature the size of the monstrous created gnolls, but clearly retaining his intelligence as well as his rage. The confrontation is a difficult one, several members of the party are nearly killed and are only saved by the quick actions of their companions. During the fight the Carrion King’s vizier takes no part but observes invisibly, when the King is finally brought down, this advisor is surprised by a glancing eldritch shot from Grant and vanishes through a wall.

In the quiet aftermath of the struggle, Karrd finds a lever beneath the Maggot Throne and reveals a descending stair winding deeper into the Pale Mountain.

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The Cleansing of Kelmarane

Beneath the church of Sarenrae a sealed door locked away the doom of Kelmarane, a daemon whose influence drove the town to madness and destruction decades ago. After the defeat of the monster, Almah declares the group “Heroes of Kelmarane” and grants them a mansion.

A year passes quietly. Xeneph opens a chapter of the Guild of Magi in a hall in Kelmarane, he and Grant busy themselves running the chapterhouse with the aid of Mook. Karrd turns his hand to sculpture, Grace spends time raising and training her new companion and Jax departs on a quiet mission to conquer the world, starting with a local tribe of orcs.

Sometime during the year, Oberron shows up in town on his explorations and in return for some land and some tenent farmers, the elven knight helps slay a starving young sand dragon.

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Episode 5, Part three and four

The following day, after coming to the conclusions that stealth was boring and Jax spoke gnoll, the group decided to take a more direct approach. They reasoned that if the Battle Market was indeed open for business, they might pose as businessmen and get a good look at their opposition from the inside. After a challenge they were lead to the south entrance of the three-story domed building wend are greeted by a goblin jester who cheerfully, if tiredly, lead them to the center of the hall and encouraged them to step into the center ring and greet the Mouth of the Carrion King. When the group did not the goblin merely tiredly stalked back to his post after telling them not to start anything.

Grace and Jax made friends with the bugbears at the bar and the gnoll bartender as the rest of the group examined the three currently open stalls at the market. Zorov won some money playing cards with a group of gnoll guards while the bar crowd, joined by Karrd and the bugbears’ companion ogre continued to drink.

Everything seemed to be going fine. Jax, stumbling drunk, found the slight human woman who bested his ogre drinking companion in the ring a week ago and, growling at his disregard for her prowess and her gender in general, Haleen convinced Jax to test her in the ring. The fight was quick and brutal and drew the attention of everyone in the Battle Market. The Mouth of the Carrion King himself, Kardswann stood from his throne on the third level balcony, introduced himself and directed the fight to begin. While everyone was distracted, Zorov got Karrd to help him through a locked door. Just as they found an interesting lockbox, Kardswann’s voice echoed through the Market congratulating Jax on a fight well won and summoning all of his companions for recognition.

Everyone gathered in the center ring, Zorov and Karrd slightly out of breath after hiding the lockbox. After a short sentence or two of politeness, Kardswann accused the party of killing his guards and his pet demon and offered a reward to the entirety of the market for their corpses. Everyone in the place set upon the group with a will, save the three cowardly stall vendors, the extraordinarily cowardly gnoll bartender and a recently trounced Haleen.

In the end, the party killed every living soul in the Battle Market (save the cowards and the lady fighter). When they faced Kardswann, Grant recognized him as a janni and Karrd further realized who he was: like Vardishal, a Templar of the Five Winds, in service to the djinni princess Nefeshti. As such, Kardswann should have been immortal so long as he had his mistress’ favor. When Jax Skullblood dealt the killing blow and the janni died, Karrd surmised he must have fallen from his mistress’ graces. Then the second-in-command gnoll entered the fray and the fight continued.

Karrd expressed extreme displeasure at Zorov for summoning animated skeletons to aid in the fight and forced him to dispel them the minute the battle was over. Everyone survived the battle, some only just, and the group spent the next several hours searching through the place looking for whatever valuables they could find. In the end, they took the loot, the humans who had abstained from the fight and the gnoll bartender back to the monastery with them. Almah raised a brow at the inclusion of the gnoll, Kurellak but accepted her employee’s assurances that he had not tried to kill them. Kurellak indeed told them all that since Kardswann had been killed, the rest of his people would, even now, be fleeing the village.

The group rested easily that night after an exhaustive round of healing by Father Zastoran in his laboratory headquarters. The next day they set out with high spirits, expecting that the day’s work would be easy after yesterday’s grueling combat. They slew a giant black mamba on the way into town, and Karrd, practically by himself, killed a legendary beast that had taken up residence in an old mill and the harpy living in the repurposed tannery across the way.

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Episode 4, Part three

In which our heroes make their way into the village of Kelmarane itself. They don’t make it very far before being spotted by a gnoll patrol and a grumpy old boar. (“Aha!” thinks Jax, “Dinner!”)

After clearing a few buildings without attracting any more attention, Karrd finds the only remaining survivor of another party of enterprising adventurers. Felliped gives the group some useful information about the inhabitants of the village before fainting in fear at a prank of Zorov’s. After they’ve packed the boar in salt, wrapped it in cloth and buried it, the group is interrupted in their discussions of what to do next as a shrieking demon dives through a window and attacks. Though several are badly wounded in the attempt, the group manages to defeat the schir, recover the boar and head back to camp with the grateful Felliped in tow.

Father Zastoran has scrubbed the mold from the basement laboratory in the monastery and spends some time healing the most grievously wounded members of the party.

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Episode 3, Parts two and three

The caravan migrated inside the walls and a few intact ceilings, claiming sleeping quarters and boarding the adventurers in the old dormitory where Zorov Denante stood first watch over the mold-encrusted basement door the group had not found time to check that day. Zorov regretted his choice when a wolf spider the size of himself leapt down from the wall and attempted to eat him. The sorcerer found himself in rather dire close-quarters circumstances but managed to fend off the beast long enough for most of the others to awake and assist. The next morning Mook, who had not slept, having no need to do so, was surprised to find a sickly-looking Zorov and a tired-looking party. He had spent the night absorbed in gardening and hadn’t noticed the commotion, though he did contribute an excellent breakfast after the fact.

The moldy basement was explored the next day. The mold came to life and attempted to devour our heroes but they prevailed in the final battle of the monastery of St. Vardishal. The undercrypt was searched and looted after Karrd’s back was turned, as our most silent of protagonists expressed unexpected emotion at the attempt.

Almah Roveshki gathered her employees and outlined their assignment to drive forth or exterminate the gnolls that have taken over the village of Kelmarane. They set out across the dusty Pesh Fields towards the village perhaps a mile away from the monastery. Not far into the fields they attracted the attention of a huge subterranean creature that nearly strangled, digested or drowned in sand several members of the party before it was slain. The rest of the walk was uneventful and they neared the southern road into Kelmarane.

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Episode 2, Part two

Two more adventurers arrived at the camp outside the monastery, Grace Alvilda and Jax Fellblade. They were sent in to assist in whatever way they could with the continued cleansing of the ruin. Many more gremlins were killed, along with a few gargantuan insects. The fighting came to a conclusion of minuscule proportions in a rafter fight with the pugwampi king who proved a comically dangerous threat.

More of the monastery’s history was interpreted by the party, this being a temple devoted to Sarenrae and one of her more obscure saints, Vardishal, a Templar of the Five Winds.

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Episode 1, Parts one and two

In which Grant, Karrd, Mook, Xeneph Bakerson, and Zorov Denante ended their journey across the desert from the city of Solku to the Sultan’s Claw in company of Garavel, who was leading his collected band of able men towards his employer to hire them on in an exterminating capacity.

When they arrived at the solitary landmark, they found the camp of Almah Roveshki’s caravan to be in flames. The wagon of the expedition’s Harrower had gone up in flames and the first moments before their employ was spent firefighting, healing the wounded, stealing from the wounded, pulling other wagons out of the way of the fire and failing to calm the livestock. Then followed the attempts to determine who set the fire, leading to suspicion of Dashki, the expedition’s gnoll expert, and the eventual discovery of a previously unheard of species of gremlin. From here the camp pulled up stakes and moved to a more secure location nearer to the village of Kelmarane, Almah’s ultimate goal.

The monastery of St. Vardishal had been abandoned for 2 decades and needed a good cleaning before using its mostly intact walls as protection from the desert. Our adventurers slew a few more pugwampis and some angry baboons.

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