Everdusk

Escape the City Unseen

With the city gates watched, the heroes must probe the depths of an ancient dwarven city to escape unnoticed...

 This session marked a turning point for the players and their characters, for having now learned something of the precarious diplomatic situation between the western human nations and the barbarian nation of Karthia, the PCs are equipped to make decisions about their fate. Bonded through combat, both from the terrible affair in the city square during the Witch Queen’s blundered execution and through the assassination attempt on their lives, the PCs are poised to venture forth into lands unknown, filled not only with dangerous beasts, but dangerous people, who would see the PCs stopped.

After the attempted assassion on them, the PCs sleep and then awake to a gentle knock, roughly six hours later, just as the dawn light is breaking through their windows. They’ve had enough time to rest, and yet they are surprised at this early awakening; the purpose soon becomes clear.

Three NPCs, Thander Teluvis (future ruler of Teluvia), Clauden Teluvis (steward of Teluvia), and Aban Aldorian (merchant of Littoria), gather with the PCs in Mal and Gerhart’s room to discuss how matters should proceed, for the group has formulated a plan in which the PCs play a central role.

Clauden explains that he had intended to go out hunting with the PCs in the morning to give them the opportunity to discuss the assassination attempt and what the PCs might do next. However, given Wilbur, Mal, and Gerhart’s eagerness to travel east to Karthia (as discussed in an early encounter), Thander has developed a plan for the PCs, should they be willing to accept it.

He explains that the hunting trip works as a useful pretense under which to distract whatever enemies might be pursuing the death of the PCs. Instead, he suggests that they surreptitiously sneak out of the city that morning, avoiding the notice of enemies and perhaps having the opportunity to shake off any pursuers.

That is where Aban Aldorian comes in. As a proprietor of magical items, he is a student of arcana and history. He knows of a secret way out of the city that requires the PCs to venture down beneath Telder’s Keep. The PCs naturally question why they might not simply walk from the city, given what dangers might lay in the crypts and sewers below. They are skeptical of Aban Aldorian, using skill checks and questioning him, searching for his motivations. Mal, in particular, presses him. Aban remains cool and confident, explaining that they are better off facing dangers head on then to have a knife in the dark, approaching from some unseen direction. Thander comes to Aban’s defense, telling of how he has known Aban since childhood and considers him as much a second father as he would Clauden.

Thander asks that the PCs escape from the city and head eastward to learn of Karthia’s intentions and investigate the Hellstone mentioned by the Karthian Priestess’ prophecy.  He asks each person individually, and all offer their devotion to the cause. Some travel eastward for more personal reasons, but all are willing to help Thander and his people reveal the imminent dangers. Even Valinae, newly arrived to Telder and recent friend of the adventurers, offers her aid as a representative of the Shield and champion of good.

Thander thanks the adventurers, and the trio of NPCs accompanies the PCs into the depths of the keep. There, they pass through the Teulvian ancestral crypts, where Thander’s recently slain parents are now entombed. Beyond this crypt are heavily sealed doors that lead to the remains of the dwarven keep, which stood here many centuries ago. Aban instructs the PCs to head eastward until they reach the sewers and from there, travel beyond the city. The players, eager for action and adventure, travel forth, down into the pitch-black depths of the crypts.

The stairs descend into the subterranean depths of the keep until all natural light fades from sight. The stairs end at a hewn corridor littered with rubble. A dank smell pervades the area, a combination of stale air and fungi. Four sarcophagi sit in the room, evidence that once this room was a burial chamber of some sort. The lid of one sarcophagus appears shattered. At the back of the room rises an altar, now covered in cobwebs.

The PCs stride carefully forward, evaluating their options. No corridors head eastward, but there are paths north and south. Arbitrarily, Wilbur decides north. However, as Kriv nears the altar…

    Dark forms move seamlessly out of the darkness, silent as death.

These shadowhunter bats weave in and out of the torchlight, striking the PCs on the fringe of the light. After a surprise round, combat begins.

Obstacles, like the coffins and statue, make navigating the room difficult for the groundbourne PCs. They focus on one or two of the bats at a time, usually the ones closest, but the mobility of the creatures works to the bats’ advantage so that no one bat is killed right away and instead they are all brought down a little at a time. Finally, Valenae manages to strike around one of the statues, cleaving one of the bats and knocking it from the air. Gerhart follows up by spraying fire upon both injured and uninjured bats, bringing them ever closer to death. And although it is Wilbur and Valenae that manage to deal mortal blows to the bats, without the support of Kriv flanking and Mal employing his warlord abilities to help keep people up and fighting, the battle might have gone ill. Still, the first room expends a good deal of resources, yet no one suffers too severely.

The PCs take some time to recover and explore the room, and they find several points of note. The coffins bear an inscription in dwarven, Here lie those who First Father, Sum’Dukat, gave honored deaths. May the dishonor of the elves feel their spirits’ vengeance for all time. With some skill checks, the PCs learn that Sum’Dukat is the father god of dwarves, and they figure out that these crypts must date back to the Elder Wars, the war between dwarf and elf fought two millennia ago. Dwarves call the conflict the War of Betrayal.

Kriv finds a helm upon one of the statue and despite Gerhart’s attempts at dissuasion, takes the item and puts it on. He hears a brief message, “May all elves freeze in Hell,” but nothing else. He then casually stows the helmet in his pack.

The PCs proceed into the room to the north where they’d been heading for before the fight. They enter the room to this scene:

The air in this room seems somehow cooler, as the breath of death itself was somehow breathed into the area. Four sarcophagi occupy the room, along with a few scattered bones and miscellaneous pieces of rubble. To the north are a pair of sealed doors, while to the south, a corridor continues. At the back of the chamber are two statues, each armed with stone spears.

As soon as they come to the center of the room, though, the lids slide of the coffins fly off, revealing a zombie in each. There eyes glint with deathly vengeance, seeking to slake not a hunger for flesh but a hunger for retribution. Initiative!

Combat goes smoother this time, for the PCs are better prepared and organized. However, a round into combat, the statues, previously thought to be just features of the room, begin hurtling spears into the midst of melee. Kriv turns his attention to the statues, moving to disable them. Meanwhile, the zombies focus their attention on Valenae, the elf. One of the zombies manages to grab her, and both deal significant damage with their jagged rotten nails, which dig at her flesh. The zombies are quickly dispatched though, and Kriv manages to take care of a statue just before it launches another spear.

Once combat subsides, Gerhart has the chance to inspect a pair of sealed metal doors, which exude an unnatural cold. The doors bear the inscription, “Only the worth may wield the Ruby Hammer,” in dwarven. No attempt is made to open the door, though the PCs do take a moment to look around the rest of the room, finding yet another inscription, “Vengeance be ours in death,” upon the sarcophagi. Once recovered, the PCs press forward to the south, the only route available to them given the sealed metal doors to the north.

The southern room is an intersection of ten-foot passages, adorned by several statues and flanked by small alcoves. Wilbur heads in first, leading the group, however he fails to notice the zombie slouched against the well and suffers an attack as he steps into the intersection. Combat begins as that zombie and another lurch forward. The battle is at first difficult because of the width of the narrow corridors. When two more adversaries appear down the corridor, battle grows more dangerous. A corruption corpse and deathlock wight lumber forward, using their powers to aid the zombies and harm the PCs.

For a round or two, battle hovers on a precarious edge when Wilbur is sent fleeing and the remaining PCs are dropped to dangerously low hp. However, the tide of battle turns when the two zombies are destroyed and the PCs focus their attention on the more significant threats. Valenae uses her abilities to inflict her divine powers on the enemy, while Gerhart employs the power of thunder to drive back the enemy. The situation is improved by Kriv, who scores a critical, and Wilbur (now returned to battle), who uses his abilities to drive back the enemy forces further. The battle concludes with Valenae smiting the corruption corpse into oblivion and Kriv launching a dagger into the deathlock wight’s head. Beaten and battered, the PCs emerge triumphant and discuss the prospects of continuing forward.

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WotC_GregBilsland

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