Returning to Sandpoint following the trial of their good friend Zephus, the remaining Dragonbusters were in understandably low spirits. Elsbeth had resolved in her own boisterous fashion that no prison would be enough to hold her friend and resolved to break the disgraced Paladin out of Westgate penitentiary, but the prison break would have to wait! Because when your uncle is Elminster of Shadowdale, there’s only one thing that matters! And that’s….. Whatever Elminster asks you to do I suppose… Hm.
News had arrived from Elminster regarding the next necessary steps to be taken in the investigation of the Cult of the Elder Elemental Eye. The Archmage’s research had led to the discovery of the original base of the Temple of Elemental Evil during the height of it’s strength and he believed that perhaps there may have been an artifact recovered from that area that brought about a renewal in the faith of Tharizdun. The great sage had called for a special assembly and asked that Elsbeth assemble her crew and prepare for a meeting in the main hall of stately Aylefyume Manor!
Once the team was assembled (save for Gargantuon the very Hungover), the good butler Danforth saw them directed to the great table of the main hall. Elminster stood at the end of the table with three other persons and three banners now were positioned here as well. The banners were of the Churches of Lathander, Helm and the Most Noble Order of the Radiant Heart. The guests themselves were Father Zantus for the Knights Hospitaler, Prelate Devan Stoutheart for the Radiant Heart and Arch Warden Y’dey Illvastarr of the Watchers of Helm. These three leaders had been convinced by Elminster to set aside the petty squabbling caused by the political differences in their churches to come together in defense of Faerun against the common enemy of Tharizdun. The Veritas Council, as this body is now called, acts in as close of a capacity to a black ops unit as such faiths can. They will provide support and information to the Dragonbusters off of the official record of their churches so that any backwash may be avoided from outside interference. The first order of business was to investigate the fallen temple, but a beachhead would need to be established first and the Necropolis near the old ruins seems to be the only place to grab a solid foothold. The old trade city of Nulb was a site of great wealth and prosperity during the time of the Temple’s reign, due mostly to the efforts of Tharizdun’s vile followers. When the Temple was originally attacked and destroyed, a powerful curse fell over the area and now Nulb is known as a terrible Necropolis swarming with undead whose boundaries are regularly patrolled by Were-beasts in search of prey!
Elminster has named the Dragonbusters as the vanguard force in this war against evil and they have been asked to clear the path for future operations. However, the team was somewhat reluctant to proceed as they were now without any source of muscle to round out their team. Elsbeth came up with the solution and decided to evoke a powerful magic to acquire the necessary assistance! The Veritas Council was able to donate the necessary 6,000 gold to create a planar gate and by her powerful connection to the Morninglord, Elsbeth summoned one of his most formidable servitors: a towering guardian angel known as a Monadic Deva! It’s golden aura bathed the manor in light and its massive wings held it aloft as the angel asked what had called it from its master’s house. The busters made a stirring plea to the Deva help them cleanse a fallen city of necromantic evil, a noble quest for which the Deva allotted 3 days of its time at no extra cost! The angel agreed to meet the team at the outskirts of Sandpoint when time came to travel and the busters set about to make sure everything else was in order for their journey. At this time, Prelate Stoutheart was also called back to Westgate on urgent news, as the prisoner Zephus had somehow escaped from his cell! Sir Devan rode hard for Westgate, certain that the treachery of Dovran Certoz was behind these developments!
The remaining busters made their way to Nulb and the journey proved to be as treacherous as Elminster had stated! Werewolves and Wererats beset them on the road, but the power of their angel companion as well as their own strength saw the monsters laid low (good thing that Iseri made doubly sure the group had invested in silver weapons just in case!) Coming to a fork in the road, the Dragonbusters were then approached by something completely unexpected: a group of Jr Harpers and their faithful canine companion! They had been sent by their Harpermaster to investigate a supposedly haunted cave, but the young ones had no idea how to bring anything of value back for verification! To make matters worse, they were now in a very dangerous area with no weapons and seemingly no chance of ever getting home! They implored the busters for aid and moved by these pitiful little moffets and their dog, the group decided a quick sidetrack couldn’t hurt.
The cave itself was largely of no consequence. The bandits operating out of it were another matter! Their leader was a burly rogue bearing the Harper crest and from the looks of things, they had been utilizing a noisemaking apparatus and the infamy of nearby Nulb to pass the region off as haunted to rob those that came through and keep local law enforcement away! Elsbeth and Kiba put a plan into motion and appeared to stumble in blindly, allowing the Deva and Iseri to sneak by while the bandits were distracted. As Elsbeth proceeded to get the bandits schnookered to allay suspicion, Iseri used her invisibility wand to utilize the bandits noise machine and the dancing lights spell to convince the robbers that they had truly angered powers beyond their comprehension! A surprise appearance by the Deva was able to seal the deal and soon the penitent bandits and their leader Jenkins a fallen harper had thrown down their armaments and renounced their evil ways. As a first step on the road to recovery, the busters had the reformed crooks escort the Jr Harpers back to Sandpoint. The Deva ensured the deed was done and the thankful youths repaid the kindness of the busters with a bag of unsightly, but highly tasty nuggets known as ‘Scrooby Snacks’. These treats were actually quite potent and would guard those who consumed them against fear! The bandits had also socked away some fabulous treasure, including 4,000 gp worth of coin and gems, a stronger version of Iseri’s Bracers of Armor and an improved cloak of resistance. The finest treasure lay at the bottom of the chest: a gilded rapier etched in shamrocks (recognized by Iseri as the symbol of Lady Luck herself). This was none other than one of the fabled Luck Blades. Brands created by the Church of Tymora than magically increase the luck of their followers as well as being wonderful blades in their own right. The more powerful versions were known to carry charges of the Wish spell, but this model had been unfinished. Perhaps Iseri would be able to have it enchanted further at a later time!
Using some of their gold to procure an extra day of service from their Deva companion, the busters finally entered Nulb. The city was soaked in an aura of evil and despair and thick fog obscured the roadways. The area was mostly deserted, an abandoned herbal supply yielded some finer potions and antitoxins as well as a scroll of lesser restoration. An abandoned hostel served as a den for Kyton and her undead minions, though Elsbeth’s prayers and Iseri’s cunning use of a Shocking Ray spell soon laid the Kyton and her cronies back in the earth! Elsbeth also recovered a fine treasure from the rubble: a Staff of Resurrection! Such an item would likely prove invaluable in the coming days. The rest of the town proved uneventful, mostly abandoned homes, though Kiba’s reflexes saved him from ending up in a sinkhole when the floor of one tenement caved in. A conversation with the fallen captain of the town guard revealed that a great power was keeping him bound here: That of Lareth the Beautiful, the former high priest of the Temple of Tharizdun, who now ruled here by dark magic alongside his vampire concubine! The spirit offered a key to the side entrance of the desecrated temple of Tyr with the busters promise that they would banish Lareth and his evil from Nulb allowing the captain to finally rest. The busters agreed and were forewarned that a powerful Desecration spell on the grounds would grant Lareth an advantage in combat unless removed! The team utilized this and had the Deva nullify the spell before entering the church, prepared for an epic battle!
Lareth and his mistress seemed rather nonchalant at the adventurers’ arrival, thinking them easy prey. Kiba proved them quite wrong by almost laying Lareth to rest before the Cleric could act! Retribution was swift and Lareth bathed the halls in fire to roast his adversaries, but perhaps the damage he received was too much for him to fully channel his power. His spell left some of the busters battered, but undaunted! Iseri finished the villain off by using telekinesis to smash him into the wall with the temple’s hefty wooden pews and her fire magic soon caused the vampire to flee as well! The area secure, the busters used a special token to summon Elminster and the forces of the Veritas Council. The Deva made a final service of consecrating the grounds and the captain of the guard could be heard giving a hearty laugh as his ghostly steed thundered one last time through the streets of Nulb and into the afterlife! A quick trip to a forge established by the Helmites worked wonders for Iseri, as the smiths were able to set the pommel of her newly acquired Luck Blade with her lucky coin medallion. The potent combination of two such items now completely overrode the bad luck imparted by Beshaba’s half of the coin. A handy thing indeed for a Rogue in need! The busters took this time to rest and plan their next move. The dark temple still lay ahead and who knows what dangers might lie in wait for them?