Princes of the Apocalypse

Session 18: Rowing into the Darkness
Rivergard Keep's Secret Landing, away from dim light at the end of the tunnel

The Party

  • Chet Stoneknuckles, deep gnome rogue, 3rd level (Kyle)
  • Rassan, human monk, 3rd level (Matt)
  • Erebus, dragonborn druid, 1st level (Kelanu)
  • Luth, air genasi fighter, 3rd level (Jude)
  • Valnrarth, high elf wizard, 4th level (Michael)

After re-establishing the party’s watch and completing a long rest following the eventful evening—the sleeping party approached stealthily by a wereboar and several water cultists last week—the group decides to requisition the sole remaining rowboat. Rowing downstream away from the dim light at the end of the tunnel, lit by Erebus’ Produce Flame and aided Chet’s superior dark vision, the party rows for more than two miles—just more than an hour.

Out of the darkness, they see distant firelight shining from a large cavern. Continue to row to approach—extinguishing Erebus’ flame—the party sees a large underground lake, a crumbling stone quay at the eastern edge, and a moored skiff. As the group rows past that eastern quay, they are hailed by guards: “Show us the sign!”

Chet tries to talk his way out of not knowing the sign, and the guards attack, lining up along the quay’s edge and throwing javelins. As combat commences, a submerged hunter shark slams into the small rowboat, threatening to tumble the adventurers into the murky water. Guards board the skiff and row toward the party’s boat, eventually overtaking it.

Eldritch blasts from the quay and the hunter shark take their toll, and two party members fall dead—Luth and Erebus—while an additional two fall unconscious—Rassan and Valnrarth. Desperately, Chet rows the boat away from the underground lake, crumbling stone quay, and enemies, back into darkness—eventually outpacing the guards, who don’t seem to have the benefit of dark vision or a light source once they exit the dim light from the large cavern.

Chet rows slowly into darkness, the silence of the water and tunnel around him, the breathing of his comrades still or labored, back to the Secret Landing—and Rivergard Keep. His goal: Womford, 100 miles—perhaps 10 days rowing—to the south on the Dessarin River. Perhaps there he can seek aid for his fallen friends.

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Session 19: Recovery, the Cairn Road to Red Larch
Two days travel, northwest of Womford

The Party

  • Rassan, human monk, 3rd level (Matt)
  • Sryn, dragonborn druid, 1st level (Kelanu)
  • Valnrarth, high elf wizard, 4th level (Michael)
  • Carl, air genasi eizard, 3rd level (Liam)
  • David, goliath barbarian, 3rd level (Chad)
  • Bryn, half-elf ranger, 1st level (Jason)

Chet Stoneknuckles rows, this time toward dim light at the end of the tunnel. He opens an iron grate at the end of the dark stream and rows nervously out into the small harbor and out through the water gate. Once back on the Dessarin River, he rows slowly south, toward Womford. The next 12 days are slow going. When he sleeps, the boat just drifts. But eventually, Chet docks in Womford, his unconscious comrades dying, and near dead.

Appealing to the charity of his party members’ factions and patron gods’ clergy locally, Chet obtains healing services for the group, which holes up in a local inn for the next few days, recuperating. Their stay there—though short—is almost as trying as the 12 days of rowing was for Chet. The wooden cots in the basement of the Greedy Minstrel aren’t very comfortable, but the party is thankful for the barley porridge, dried boar, and hazelnut bread provided by the Minstrel’s halfling proprietor Hone. (It costs each party member 6 sp for their three-day stay at the Greedy Minstrel.)

While recuperating, the better able party members set out into Womford to inquire after the missing delegation for which they search. They encounter a local merchant who sold a recently acquired dwarvish text to a merchant traveling to Red Larch, as well as someone who heard about a big gathering of druids at Scarlet Moon Hall, located in the Sumber Hills east of Red Larch.

Once fully healed and rested, after two weeks of rowing and recuperating, the party sets out again, on foot, leaving Womford on the Cairn Road toward Red Larch. On the evening of the first day, after roughly eight hours on the march, the party is beset by bandits, encamped just off the east side of the road. The comrades defeat the bandits, which seem to include water cultists, and then rest—using the bandits campfire. On the second day, at midday, the party is beset by three air cultists astride giant vultures. The adventurers defeat the cultists, and their mounts wheel off into the distance.

Night falls, the party makes camp, sets a watch, and sleeps. Three more days remain on the road to Red Larch.

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Session 20: The Cairn Road to Red Larch
Two days travel, halfway from Womford

The Party

  • Rassan, human monk, 3rd level (Matt)
  • Chet, deep gnome rogue, 3rd level (Kyle)
  • Bryn, half-elf ranger, 1st level (Jason)
  • Marlowe, human fighter, 2nd level (Justin)
  • Bahlgan, half-elf rogue, 1st level (Nima)

Midday on the third day of travel northwest from Womford toward Red Larch along the Cairn Road, the party’s march was halted by shaking tremors in the land around them. Two hungry ankhegs burst from the ground, attacking the comrades from both sides. After defeating the unwelcome creatures, the party continued on its way, spending the night just off the side of the road.

On the fourth day of travel, a trio of hell hounds attacked the group, wearing iron collars marked with the sign of the fire cultists. The party defeated the hounds, continuing their march north and west toward Red Larch.

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Session 21: Red Larch, into the Sumber Hills
A brief homecoming of sorts

The Party

  • Chet, deep gnome rogue, 4th level (Kyle)
  • Gandalf, high elf wizard, 3rd level (Nadia)
  • Ilphelkiir, high elf wizard, 1st level (Poppy)
  • Carl, air genasi wizard, 3rd level (Liam)
  • David, goliath barbarian, 3rd level (Chad)
  • Jack, air genasi fighter, 1st level (Marcus)

After five days of traveling north and wet along the Cairn Road from Womford, the party finally arrives in Red Larch, returning after several weeks absence. Jack goes to Ironhead Arms to procure additional arrows before the group heads to the Swinging Sword to secure rooms for the night and eat dinner.

Kaylessa Irkell welcomes the party back, informing them about the outcome of the trial of the Believers, the group of town elders discovered after the sinkhole collapsed. The trial found them guilty of wrongdoing, and the Believers have either attempted to flee or been imprisoned. One hung himself in prison. The townspeople filled in the sinkhole and have shored up the walls and ceilings beneath the street. Otherwise, things have been relatively calm in Red Larch.

While eating, the party encounters Brother Eardon, a worshiper of Lathander and traveling preacher. He tells the group that before he left Beliard for Westbridge, and then Red Larch, the delegation from Mirabar had been in Beliard. He seems surprised and concerned that the dwarves haven’t arrived at their destinations yet.

After eating and sleeping, the group sets out north and east on the Larch Path before heading east into the Sumber Hills to find Scarlet Moon Hall. In the early afternoon, the group meets head on with a group of four bugbears. They prove to be worthy opponents, and the party sets up camp well before sundown in order to rest and recuperate.

The next day, the party loses track of their destination and route, wandering without strong direction in the Sumber Hills. They spot a group of trolls crossing their path in the distance, and try to hunker down in order to hide. The trolls see the party, however, and attack. The party is hard pressed, and a couple of heroes fall: Gandalf and Jack. Beforehand, however, the group learns that fire proves effective—thanks to the arcane attacks of Gandalf and Ilphelkiir—and Chet starts a grass fire by throwing a flask of burning oil at the trolls. Meanwhile, Carl distracts the creatures by levitating out of their reach, leading them on a chase away from the group, which hides in the high grass.

Eventually losing the trolls and looping back around to their fallen comrades, the party heals their friends, and finds a suitable campsite—and hiding place—for the night.

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Session 22: Slowed in the Sumber Hills
Delayed, then Scarlet Moon Hall

The Party

  • Gandalf, high elf wizard, 3rd level (Nadia)
  • Ilphelkiir, high elf wizard, 1st level (Poppy)
  • Carl, air genasi wizard, 3rd level (Liam)
  • David, goliath barbarian, 3rd level (Chad)
  • Jack, air genasi fighter, 1st level (Marcus)
  • Chryso, human fighter, 1st level (Alan)

Waking to sunrise and birdsong in the high grasses of the Sumber Hills, the party gets its bearings and continues on its way to Scarlet Moon Hall. Along the way, the group—not making very good time—comes upon a merchant caravan heading west toward Red Larch. The group asks for directions, confirming the direction in which they’re heading, and avails themselves of the merchants’ wares, two party members procuring muslin cloth, one making a cape. The merchants also sell carved wooden bowls, but the party doesn’t buy any.

Continuing on their way, the party soon becomes turned around again in the desolate hills, encountering a lone ogre. The ogre, as taken aback as the group is, responds to the group speaking to it in Common, seriously considering an offer to join the party. As the ogre and party members negotiate pay—starting at 5gp a day before going to 10gp a day, before Jack started emptying his backpack to show the large fellow everything he had—the ogre decides to attack the party and just take everything they have. The party fights back, dispatching the greedy brute.

The party finally reaches Scarlet Moon Hall late in the afternoon, approaching the smoke- and haze-filled depression in which it is located. Jack approaches the campfire of druid Gariena, where he dances along with her fiddle playing and the aerial dancing of the sprites Flix and Afid. The rest of the party approaches, and they share their stories of adventure and misadventure, expressing their concerns about cult activity. Gariena gives the group two scrolls that might help in their cause, but cannot invite them to camp with her.

The rest of the group waiting behind near Gariena’s camp, Jack and Carl approach the far side of the walled tower, spotting a camp for two hairy men, another two men—camped out by the burning wicker man—and a bear, and a long tent beside the tower. Using Mage Hand, one of them frees the bear from his chain and stake. The bear attacks the two men by the effigy—and they kill it using spells of fire.

Jack and Carl return to their comrades, and the group moves around behind the tower to the far side to set up camp for the night. Come morning, the group will decide whether to explore any of the other camps—or to approach the tower. For now, they set a watch, make no fire, and sleep.

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