Tales of the Dragon Coast: A Forgotten Realms Adventure

Interlude 4
The Lich of Ghost Town

Once again, the three founding members of the Dragonbusters were celebrating at a corner table of the Rusty Dragon. Zephus was hitting the sauce a bit hard still due to his unfortunate protegee, and Iseri was drinking nonstop since Elsbeth was buying. They both followed the cleric on a rousing bar crawl, and soon all conscious thought had fled. Eventually they came to their senses, with no knowledge of where they were or how they had gotten there. They appeared to be in a tavern (of course) but the bartender, barmaids, and all the other patrons were ghosts!

Finding the ghosts to be unresponsive, the trio decided to leave the bar and explore. No sooner had they left than a large group of gargoyles attacked! The beasts flew off the tops of crumbling buildings, swooping around the two giant pillars in the town square to get at the adventurers. Iseri quickly vanished herself, while Elsbeth created a wall of holy ice to hold the creatures at bay. She and the paladin set themselves by a pile of rubble to protect their flanks and let the gargoyles come to them, while Iseri provided sniper support. This strategy worked well against the unfortunate animated statues, culminating in a brilliant fireball which vaporized the wall of ice and burning the hapless gargoyles with holy mist.

The three Busters continued on to explore an ancient temple, one of the only buildings beside the tavern still in decent repair. Inside, the wail of wights met their ears! Iseri decided to try out a new spell against the undead: Black Tentacles. Those that weren’t completely caught were slowed by the rubbery growths. The firepower of Zephus and Elsbeth ended the fight quickly. Iseri yawned.

In the bottom level of the temple, the trio found an old crypt. Unfortunately for them, the crypt was home to a Lady Lich! They decided to stay and fight since they noticed a large pile of treasure in the center of the room. Knowing that if the lich got too close, they would be at the mercy of its frightful presence, Iseri led off the battle with Black Tentacles. Not paying attention, the Lich was caught! The Busters proceeded to use long range against their dangerous foe, surviving the occasional fireball. Finally the Lich managed to free herself … but it was too late! She had sustained too much damage and was felled by an errant tentacle slap. The Dragonbusters cheered, destroyed the nearby phylactery and ended the undead monster’s existence once and for all. Out of the hoard, Iseri found a few helpful scrolls, Zephus took some healing potions, and Elsbeth filled a bag with gold coins to spend on her hydration. Satisfied with their good deeds, the group made their way out of the crypt and back to Sandpoint to celebrate.

Interlude 3

After having taken on so many side quests (and in the case of one, so much liquid courage) the trio of Dragonbusters consisting of Zephus, Elsbeth, and Iseri were sacked out in the Rusty Dragon. Also staying there that night was one Gargantuon, Buster of Balls, newly recruited Dragonslayer himself. A noise outside their rooms awakened the light-sleeping Iseri, always alert, and Zephus had been unable to sleep due to the half-orc’s snoring. Iseri’s roommate, Elsbeth, would take a herd of Tarrasques to wake, so the trickster thought it best to investigate on her own.

Out in the hall, three ugly, grey-skinned creatures were skulking about. Iseri was looking through her notes to identify the creatures as doppelgangers when Gargantuon burst of his room, ready to fight! Iseri eagerly joined the battle, and with Zephus’ sword added later, the three made short work of the aberrations. But something tugged at Iseri’s highly-tuned mind: Doppelgangers were fellow tricksters, not tavern raiders. What were they up to? The group tossed a bucket of water to revive the cleric and made their way into the common room to see what was afoot.

Here they found the beautiful proprietess, Ameiko Kaijitsu, being accosted by a large and moving Morgh! Being a long-winded villain, the Morgh identified himself as one Shevin Kaynor, long-disgraced former employee of the Dragon, now undead and back for revenge. He had not, however, reckoned with the power of the tavern regulars! Gargantuon led the way with his huge double axe The Eliminator, and the others added their divine and arcane energies to make the fight short and sweet. Grateful but breathless after her ordeal, Ameiko warned the quartet that one of Kaynor’s henchmen was still at large in the back room.

Rushing in, the Busters found a Marid, a powerful water-spirit, attempting to reclaim the beer! Screaming in rage, Elsbeth leaped to protect her lifeblood, but the marid unleashed a torrent of water that swept the group out into the street. The marid followed, ready to finish them off, but the Busters were not down yet. Waiting just long enough to receive a Haste spell from Iseri, Gargantuon summoned the full power of his RAGE! With a mighty leap, the half-orc cleared the distance to the water spirit and cleaved her with Eliminator. Before the rest of the party could reach the fight, he had sliced and diced her into tiny water droplets.

Another victory for the Dragonbusters! But more importantly, the beer was safe. For now…

Interlude 2
The search for shrubbery

Shortly after defeating Josie Ramona’s seven evil exes, the trio of Elsbeth, Zephus, and Iseri returned to the field to attempt to locate her traitorous abductor, Bob the Vulpinal. Unfortunately none of them had any idea where to look, and without their expert tracker Kiba, the group was at a loss. Elsbeth piped up about wanting to find an ingredient for the Legendary Dragon’s Breath Ale, and having no better ideas, Zephus and Iseri agreed.

The small group of Dragonbusters made their way to the forest just outside of Sandpoint where rumor placed the ingredient known as the Strider-step Mint Leaves. Popping out of the brush to surprise them was their old friend, Set! Luckily he had seen the leaves recently in his wanderings. They explored the forest briefly before arriving at a large grove of trees where a fearsome sight awaited them: a humongous green dragon! The group was excited to possibly slay their first dragon and live up to their name as Dragonbusters until the trees started moving! They weren’t trees at all but evil Treants! A pitched battle ensued, with Set moving wily around the grove looking for the legendary leaves while the rest of the group kept the dragon and his buddies at bay.

After hewing, bashing, and roasting all but one of the treants, Zephus, Elsbeth, and Iseri (respectfully) were caught between a dragon and a treant. So excited was the treant to have his foes all but defeated he launched a giant boulder in their general direction without aiming. His nonchalant attack turned out to be his last, as it sailed over the top of the confused adventurers and straight into the face of its green dragon comrade! The great beast dropped like a sack of taters, and the stunned treant was soon put out of his misery by a barrage of arrows from Set. Now free to explore, they soon found the leaves.

As the group was moping about getting cheated out of a dragonslayer achievement, who would step out of the trees but Josie Ramona, their missing lawyer! Apparently Bob had been distracted by a four-legged vixen and run off into the forest, leaving Josie jilted at a tree stump. The triumphant Dragonbusters returned to town minus their ranger friend, who decided to remain in the forest with his constant companion, Bongo the wolf.

Back in Sandpoint, the remaining three Dragonbusters got wind of a nefarious plot to smuggle creatures out of the surrounding wilderness to exotic collectors or experimenters across the realms. Clues led to an abandoned warehouse, which upon entering they discovered was no longer abandoned! Cages lined the walls and farther back was a large open space, made up to mimic an outdoor environment. This impressive setup was for one purpose: to make the drakes living there feel at home! Home enough to attack, haha!

But the three Dragonbusters were not deterred. They made short work of the drakes, and Iseri harvested some rare and tasty Dracon from the beautifully seared carcasses. Finding a tunnel down to a more expansive basement, the trio discovered an even more elaborate enclosure. This one housed a vastly more magnificent creature than the drakes: a gargantuan Dragon Turtle! This magnificent specimen was initially reluctant to accept the group’s help, but decided if they could pass a test he would consider it. His test: see if they could survive his breath attack! Luckily for the group they were all limbered up from their recent adventures and dodged it easily. The dragon turtle, impressed, led them to a secret exit from his enclosure. The Dragonbusters were able to open the gate and allow him to swim back into the sea. Afterwards, three dryad members of the Creature Investigation Association appeared and thanked the group for their (unwitting) help. To Elsbeth’s delight, the forest spirits rewarded the group with a bushel of Snakewood Red Peppers, another ingredient for the Dragon’s Breath Ale!

The Dragonbusters vs. the Underworld

Our story opens with the arrival of Sir Zephus Evensun in Sandpoint, newly returned from his final evaluation in Westgate. The team was surprised however to see that their friend was not his usual exuberant self. He hailed them with little gusto and a private meeting was set up in the back room of the Rusty Dragon. There, Iseri and Elsbeth related the tales of their adventures in the Moathouse Keep and their successful recruitment of a half orc Barbarian. Zephus offered a few smiles and chuckles at their various misadventures, but became grim again after being told of the possibility of the return of the Elder Elemental Eye. For his part, Zephus had spent a few short days seeing his protégé Nellie Keane laid to rest with honor as a squire of the Radiant Heart. She would be interred in the main HQ cemetery with full honors at the request of Prelate Stoutheart. Now understanding the reason for the paladin’s melancholy, his team offered their condolences and a quiet toast was raised to the fallen warrior’s memory. Zephus stated that he was proud to be allied with such good folk and the flow of ale and good company washed away the heavier part of the young knight’s grief.

As Zephus, Elsbeth, and Iseri were returning home to their mansion after their impromptu feast, they found the place locked. Not just with a key, as Iseri surely would have made short work of that, but with an otherworldly magic. Their resident succubus lawyer, Josie Ramona, appeared on her balcony and explained to the heroes that her seven evil exes had appeared and taken over the mansion! The three Dragonbusters would have to rush in and save her!

How exactly they DID bust in is anyone’s guess. Let us say that the succubus had just enough power to disrupt the magic shield long enough for the heroes to enter. Yes, that sounds good. So the three burst into the house only to be met by twin Nabasus! Being strong and incredibly lucky, Zephus, Elsbeth, and Iseri made short work of the monsters. They quickly headed upstairs where they were met by the next ex…

A set of Fiendish Minotaur Triplets! Shaking away their questions of Josie’s strange predilections, the group fell upon the minotaurs with a will. Again, the monsters stood no chance against the onslaught! They strode to Josie’s door, ready to take back their winged beauty, when her 6th ex appeared!

This one was an evil lich (as if there were any other kind!) who swore they would never reach Ms. Ramona alive! He proceeded to blast the team with a cone of cold spell, which in their surprise Zephus and Elsbeth were unable to avoid. Luckily, expert acrobatess Iseri saved the day. Turning a mid-air cartwheel to evade the deadly cold, she nimbly tossed her Energy Heart gem to Elsbeth, following the age-old adage, ‘save the cleric first!’. This absorbed the brunt of the blast, allowing the two undead haters to finish off the stunned lich.

Finally the trio of heroes entered the chambers of Josie Ramona … only to find her final ex, a disgusting Hag! Despite the creature’s natural repulsiveness, she forced the Dragonbusters to close ranks as she easily shrugged off their most potent spells. Without the holy powers of Zephus, the group might have fallen here, but they prevailed. Unfortunately, just as the three were eagerly awaiting their well-earned reward from the succubus, their one-time ally Bob the Vulpinal swooped in and grabbed her!

What will happen to the beautiful and seductive Josie? How will Elsbeth ever forgive her summoned ally? And will Iseri ever unravel the mystery of how anyone could be romantically linked to a hag?

These incredibly intriguing questions will quickly be forgotten, and the world may never know the answers…

Enter the Scorpion!!
The Abduction of the Innocents

Things in Sandpoint have been progressing smoothly since the return of the Dragonbusters from the Moathouse. Elsbeth has become a leading member in the Knights Hospitaler due to her vast amount of experience over the local acolytes, gaining a promotion to Sergeant. Kiba, having resigned his position as the bouncer for the Rusty Dragon, sees possibility in the recent events of the Blackfang Crisis. Shalelu, the captain of the Sandpoint Rangers Guild has gone missing after mounting a team for an extended hunt of the beast’s lair. Until a search party could be commissioned to go after her, Kendra Deverin has called upon Kiba to fill in as Captain and to begin training of new recruits to mount a recovery of the former head of the town guard. The team’s newest member, Gargantuon the Ballbuster, also managed to find a niche for himself by entering into extravagant arm wrestling competitions against up to four opponents at a time from various other adventurers and mercenary companies. Needless to say, the half orc managed to garner the necessary audiences to stoke his massive ego! Iseri continued to study the arcane arts, growing a deeper fascination with the craft of golem creation. The elven magus also continued to put things in motion so that the now abandoned mansion of Menrar could become a proper stronghold for the team, though with the absence of Ramona Josie to the seductions of Bob, things were somewhat slow going.

During this time Iseri received a package from distant Calimport, along with a letter from her former employer Ydranos! The halfling alchemist reported a bustling stream of business due to Iseri’s exploits in rooting out the Cult of the Dragon and her earning the nickname of ‘the Raven of Sandpoint’. Ydranos informed his former employee that there had been a string of abductions in the past weeks following the expulsion of the Cult. Children and youths being snatched from their homes in the dead of night by an unknown group had put the people right on the edge. Ydranos hoped that as a Rogue herself, Iseri might have some inside information that could solve this mystery. A suitable reward was promised, in addition to the gratitude of Calimport itself. Perhaps it was the heroics of her group rubbing off, but Iseri knew she had to take the case! The potential treasure couldn’t hurt either….

At this point, Ydranos’ package began to jingle! Emerging from inside a tiny velvet sack sprang a recently awakened pixie who immediately set about exploring the Rusty Dragon. Another note from Ydranos explained that the pixie was named Kiki, and that she would serve as Iseri’s guide and transport to Calimport. The elf pondered how best to gain her new guide’s trust. Alcohol served no use, save to have the pixie use the glass as a kiddy pool. Fortunately a nearby dessert dish revealed the pernicious pixie’s predilection for pastry!! One glazed donut later and the two new friends were riding the stardust way back to Calimport.

Ydranos was happy to greet both his former employee and messenger girl. After a brief rest and some refreshment, Ydranos cut to the chase. A member of the abduction cell had been caught shortly before the arrival of Iseri. Thanks to the wailing of the child he was carrying, the town guard was able to converge on the kidnapper and with Tevaga leading the charge, the child was saved. The kidnapper was unable to be questioned, as he ingested poison before he could be brought to custody. His gear revealed no crest or sigil, but there was one possibility: a small tattoo of a scorpion located at the base of his hairline.

Iseri recognized the tattoo as the mark of a criminal fiend known as the Scorpion!! Ruthless, greedy and utterly evil, he had once held Iseri in bondage as a slave, but she escaped his clutches and fled. She still bore a scorpion brand upon her back as a permanent reminder of his debauchery! Iseri agreed to whatever needed to be done to spare other innocent lives from what she had suffered (Zephus would be proud if he could see this)!

The mission was bold and simple. A nighttime drop into the canyon known as the Viper’s Playground via pixie. From there, infiltration of the Scorpion’s den and the extraction of any children still under his lash. To aid his agent, Ydranos traded Iseri’s billowing robes for a skintight suit of leather made from the hide of a Displacer Beast to help her become one with the night!!

The Canyon was full of danger. The Scorpion paid well for security, hiring platoons of Rangers and Fighters to guard the road to his fortress. A simple mock tattoo allowed Iseri to pass as a new addition along with a silver tongue and a good deal of strong ale. She managed to have a suspicious Ranger guide her to the entrance of the Scorpion’s lair and he also doubled as a handy meat-shield against the giant scorpions that nested in the pass leading to the door. Iseri was able to glean how to enter the fort by way of a medallion based locking mechanism and even spared the merc’s life when he revealed that he balked at the idea of child slavery, but went along with it to protect his friends. This didn’t stop her from fleecing him blind after he passed out from over exposure to scorpion venom however!

A bit of bad luck in a rockslide might have put things into dire straits had the elf not proved herself as a consummate actress! Limping and groaning her way into the next enemy camp, the rogue received healing potions and a soft bed when the leader, a gnome called Qualzar, decided it would be best to question her in the morning since he was highly suspicious of her ‘new recruit’ tale. A few hours was all that was needed to rob the gnome of two wands, a pouch of gold and his medallion key! Further exploration revealed the second medallion to have been lost, along with its owner, in a den of giant frilled lizards! Using a wand of grease allowed Iseri to maintain the high ground and cut the normally fearsome predators off from reaching her. Summoning force magic, she slugged the female back to the stone age and fire magic managed to solve the riddle of what happens when a lizard is set on fire: the same thing that happens to everything else!

Securing her keys, Iseri wired Ydranos via Darkholme of her progress. He managed to supply her with scrolls to scribe necessary spells and shortly before the dawn broke, the daring damsel made her way into the bowels of the Scorpion’s desert hold! Could she save the children and best her old nemesis? Only one way to find out!

The Murder of Nellie Keane
A Detective Story

Coming off of a successful trip to the catacombs underneath the Temple of Ilmater, Zephus understandably had a lot of positive energy as he returned to the Order temple once again. There Sir Devan greeted him warmly, and produced a cloak identical to Zephus’ own. This was to be presented to Nellie Keane as a sign of her initiation into the Order, and Sir Devan thought it appropriate that Zephus be the one to give it to her. Zephus agreed, and went off to Nellie’s apartment. Strangely, no one answered his knock, but he did hear barking from within. Satisfying himself that Nellie was not in town and the apartment looked suitably suspicious, Zephus returned to the Order to report. Sir Devan agreed with his assessment and gave him a spare key to Nellie’s place. Returning, Zephus let himself in and was horrified at what he found.

The main room of Nellie’s small apartment was painted with blood and gore. Zephus found Shaggy locked in a closet, and burst into Nellie’s bedroom to find a body, horribly mutilated, on the bed. Seeing Shaggy’s reaction to the body, Zephus had to assume that it was Nellie. Wasting no time, he returned to Sir Devan who gave him the job of investigating the scene. Stopping off first to collect an eccentric diviner by the name of Wutergund the Distant, Zephus plunged into his assignment. At first being stymied by the lack of evidence, Zephus turned to his Torm-given power to detect evil. This let him find a vile, serrated knife which had fallen into a crack in the floorboards. Zephus recognized the mark of Shar on the pommel, and the third eye of Wutergund confirmed it had belonged to the killer. The pair set out to find a temple of Shar in the area.
Following a lead given them by Sir Devan, Zephus had an idea of where to find such a temple. The very first building Zephus inspected radiated an aura of evil, but through a desire to be thorough and a need to find a tavern likely brought on by prolonged exposure to drunken clerics, he investigated several other buildings before going inside. Here Zephus found a room protected by magical darkness. He made it through thanks to a set of darkvision goggles provided by Wutergund and opened a magically locked door by applying positive energy to it. Before going inside, however, he decided to return with Sir Devan as backup.

Beyond the magical door, Zephus found a hidden temple to Shar. He and Sir Devan questioned the High Priestess, who gave them two leads in exchange for leaving them alone. First, she told them that the knife was part of the ritual of the Blood Feast but was relegated to taking one’s own blood, not that of others. Second, she posited that the only likely person to on this knife was a relatively new recruit. She did not know his name but knew he had red hair and a purple robe. She also let slip that her front business, the Night Star House of Nightly Delights, sometimes used a courier service known as _. Zephus rushed there to see if they had any leads, but they were unable to identify the red haired man. Upon learning of the murder of Nellie Keane, the proprietor remembered having a delivery for her. The description of the package could only have been Nellie’s spear!

Zephus returned to the scene of the crime and retrieved Nellie’s weapon. It had obviously been used in the fight, so Nellie had at least not gone quietly. Wutergund divined that the weapon had inflicted two wounds, one in the right shoulder and one on the left thigh. While at the apartment, Zephus decided to cover Nellie’s body with the cloak that she had earned. As he did so he noticed that her heart had been forcibly removed from her chest. What evil would do such a thing?

In order to find out, Zephus decided to trace the weapon. The local weaponshop recognized the weapon, indeed they had made it. The smith himself identified the customer as one Dovard Certoz, a council member. Also, Dovard Certoz had red hair and often wore a purple robe! Zephus was becoming convinced that Certoz was responsible, but he had to link him to Nellie somehow. Sir Devan provided a clue to that, saying that Certoz was Nellie’s benefactor. Knowing there had to be some evidence of that, Zephus deduced that perhaps there had been a note attached to the weapon delivery. Indeed there was, he found at Nellie’s apartment. While searching for the note, Zephus also found a torn piece of purple cloth which Wutergund divined as belonging to the killer. He decided to have Shaggy use the cloth to track the killer!

Shaggy eagerly followed the trail of the murderer of his master, which led to an abandoned warehouse. Or at least it appeared to be abandoned; searching carefully, Zephus discovered a loose floor tile that led to a secret cellar. There he found more evidence that pointed to Certoz, including the torn robe and a black hood. Now thoroughly convinced, Zephus returned to Sir Devan for permission to apprehend the blaggard. Sir Devan gave it, and accompanied Zephus to make the arrest. At Certoz’ mansion, the council member proved resistant to their authority. Not despairing, Zephus traveled to the nearest magistrate and trumped Certoz’ bribery with promises of protection. Now served with a warrant, Certoz let himself be taken in for questioning. Zephus, grimly pleased that he had found the killer, still had a nagging feeling that the investigation was far from over.

Despite that, Sir Devan was proud of Zephus’ performance under the unfortunate circumstances. He promoted Zephus to a full knight of the Order and presented him with a fantastic suit of Full Plate Mail of Holy Fire Shield. Sir Devan also had Zephus’ ring of Torm further enchanted, allowing him to aid an ally in combat without even a thought. Zephus had a feeling he would need these tools and more to get to the bottom of Nellie’s murder…

Descent Into Evil
Terror from Beyond!!

We rejoin the Dragonbusters on their continued exploration of the ancient moathouse keep in the wilderness of the Dragon Coast. Spugnoir the alchemist guided the group to an strange well room that the mysterious cult had taken a great deal of interest in. Having directed the group as far as he dared to, the erstwhile potions master took his leave and was escorted back to town by Nero the Rogue and Erelune the Druid. The remainder of the party steeled themselves to head into the main excavation site, when suddenly a mighty ruckus caught their attention from the rear!

Turning about and heading back to the crypts, the busters were treated to the sight of a hobgoblin sent flying into the back wall, forming a small crater before landing motionless in a pile at the floor! Two other hobgoblins, clad in the livery of the cult appeared at the base of the steps shouting curses at their advancing opponent. The aforementioned warrior was a massive half orc, standing 7 feet tall and limbs thick with muscle, clad in a mail shirt and fur lined cloak and girded with an ornate golden belt, deftly wielding a double bladed orc axe scored with runes and blades sheathed in flame! The hobgoblins attempted to rush their opponent but they were no match for his ferocity and skill and were quickly cut down by burning blades of fury!! Iseri recognized that the enemy of the group’s enemy would be a mighty ally in the absence of the paladin Zephus and their recently departed team mates and took the role of diplomat. Addressing the orc, they learned that he was called Gargantuon, and he hailed from the Uthgardt Barbarians of the Graypeak Mountains in the Savage Frontier. He had spent his life as a wandering gladiator, seeking bloodsport and glory, reveling in having an audience to observe his greatness!!! Iseri was able to use this to the team’s advantage and promised Gargantuon all that and a hefty sum of treasure to sweeten the deal! Thus a mighty alliance was born and Gargantuon agreed to lend his power to the Dragonbusters!

Continuing on, the team felled a remaining ghast and another pair of clerics from the resident cult. Gargantuon’s power, now combined with Kiba’s archer skills and Iseri’s spellcraft led to a swift end for the enemy. The team found the clerics to be investigating a small, 4-sided statue, with each side bearing a strange figure, also marked in colors of black, green, red and indigo. Iseri was able to make a rubbing from paper contained within the journal of one of the fallen clerics and then cast an acid spell on the statue, destroying it utterly. The journal belonged to the recently deceased Geynor Ton, and detailed his order’s activities in the excavation of the area beneath the moathouse. Tucking that away for safekeeping, the group divided some excellent loot and Kiba gained an enchanted cloak of resistance while Elsbeth procured a masterwork morning star! The group noticed that the well in this room had a platform set above it that was made to lower people down yet further into the complex. After reaching a consensus of whether to explore the upper dungeon or to descend lower. Kiba voted for staying topside, but was overruled by his compatriots.

The busters gathered on the platform and Iseri lowered them down, using the levitate spell to follow after them. The lower they went, the colder and more oppressive the atmosphere became. Iseri, being the least physically hardy seemed to have the hardest time adjusting as she was also clad in light gear not meant for the cold. Kiba loaned her his fox pelt and the clever mage was able to fashion a makeshift cloak from her bedroll to help combat the chill. The platform landed the group atop a massive obsidian obelisk, veined with a strange purple substance. The rest of the surrounding cavern was completely natural and small stream from above had been diverted so that it flowed down into the bottom of the cave after passing down the obelisk. Another platform to the west offered the group a means to descend further still, but there would be a hitch before that could occur.

As Iseri prepared to lower the team again, barbed tentacles descended from the dark roof of the cavern, connected to an otherworldly horror that had the appearance of a brain containing a fanged beak attempting to garner an easy meal! Gargantuon set to work with his axe, hacking away at the tendrils, while Iseri set the beast aflame with a fireball spell!! Shrieking and burning, Kiba was able to deliver the deathblow, which almost had the horror plummet directly onto the lowering platform!! Quick thinking allowed Gargantuon to swing the platform away from the monster’s descent and a splat was heard and the ground below rushed up to the carcass!!

At the bottom of the cave, the Dragonbusters located a support pillar that was holding up the obelisk structure, along with a worked tile floor which had the symbols of a black sun and an inverted ziggurat. A strange archway over a sinister black wall adorned the southwest and a pool of water collected to the northeast. A quick investigation by Iseri revealed the pool of water to be corrupted by the malevolent force of the obelisk and the group was extremely wary to interact with the archway. They prepared to depart, but were interrupted by the mad giggling of someone behind them…

The busters were confronted by Festrath, the now insane leader of the cult that had been abandoned down here by his compatriots. The wild eyed psychopath was clad in a haphazard suit of full plate with a short sword. Summoning demons to aid him, the cleric also slung negative energy at the group and was able to wreck some havoc. But the busters were not to be deterred by a rambling madman!! Iseri snuffed out a summoned hellhound with one bolt of an improvised frost ray spell and Gargantuon put both a Dretch and Festrath to the blade! With Festrath beaten, the adventure looked to be drawing to a close, but now came the matter of how to escape!

Searching Festrath’s remains, the group found their solution: a potion containing the fly spell! Elsbeth was also able to detect powerful magic on Festrath’s ramshackle armor, specifically his breastplate. The outside had been covered over by the colors of his faith, but a little universal solvent from Kiba revealed a shining brass breastplate known as a Hospitaler’s Cuirass. Sacred to the Church of Lathander, this armor not only provided enhanced defense, but also granted Freedom of Movement to its wearer. Perfect for dealing with pesky Tanglefoot bags! Iseri was also able to make use of the fallen cleric’s pearl of power to continue to augment her formidable casting ability! Festrath’s corpse was also used to experiment with the sinister archway, which unfortunately led to the summoning of yet another fanged and tentacled horror. One battle later and Gargantuon used his happy thoughts to have the potion of fly lift the group to freedom! Those thoughts will not be listed in order to preserve the happiness of those reading this log.

Continued exploration of the lower area yielded little in the way of true danger. A battle with the Gnoll mercenary Garrik shed small light on the situation at hand, save that the cultists who had employed him were members of the Cult of Tharizdun. the Gnoll’s enchanted leather armor went to Kiba and his Brooch of Shielding was claimed by Gargantuon prior to his demise via enraged half orc. The only other area of note in this desolate place was a small shrine possessed of powerful dark magic that even Elsbeth could not expunge with her great clerical power. A 9 foot version of the four sided statue from the well room was also here and the perceptive talents of Iseri, Gargantuon and Kiba led to the recovery of some rather unusual items, including incense, a set of silver chimes and a small black drum. Deciding the moathouse to have been thoroughly explored, the group made their way back to the surface, slaying some nesting cockatrices and procuring a medallion of Lolth that Kiba refused to touch, but that Elsbeth believed would be of use to her superiors for further investigation. The journey back to Sandpoint proved uneventful, save for the group meeting a contingent of warriors dispatched by the temple of Helm to serve as a potential rescue party and to secure the once again abandoned structure for their own purposes.

A two day rest at the Rusty Dragon brought much needed rest and money transactions. Elminster himself also popped in for an update and to share a meal with his niece and her friends in the newly built private dining section of the Rusty Dragon! The Sage of Shadowdale was all smiles and good humor until the Cult of Tharizdun was mentioned, at which point his manner became quite grim. Tharizdun was an ancient force from the earliest days of creation, so powerful that all the deities of the Realmspace were forced to ally with one another to exile him to an extra-dimensional prison where his pure destructive force would not be a threat to the cosmos. The aim of his followers is to find the means to release Tharizdun from his confinement, so that he may culminate his vengeance against the gods and then destroy all of creation!!

Elminster stated that now was the time for heroes to rise up and to be ready to defend the lands against such pure evil. He stated that he would devote his time to researching the history of the Tharizdun faith to try and find more answers for the group and also provided a 4,000 gold piece reward for the team donated on behalf of the Harper organization. As a final gift to his niece, Elminster had sponsored her to join the Order of Hospitalers based out of Sandpoint which Abstalar Zanthus immediately accepted! As a welcoming gift, Elsbeth received a powerful Morningstar of Disruption with a silver haft, red leather grip and golden sun shaped head. Also given was an enchanted heavy steel shield bearing the holy symbol of Lathander proudly across the face! Thus their quest complete, the team awaited the return of Zephus from Westgate. Hopefully bearing some good news…

The Wheeping Dead
Guest Starring Set!

Zephus returned to the temple of the Order of the Radiant Heart in Westgate, eager to redeem himself after his caravan adventure. Even more than that, he wished to express his apologies to his young protégée, Nellie Keane. Receiving a mission to investigate unexplained undead incursions in the Temple of Ilmater from Sir Devan, Zephus went to pick up Nellie. There the young woman was receptive to Zephus’ instructions about not lying for him and also to their new mission. She was very excited to get into battle again, having been given a fine new spear by her benefactor. Nellie and Shaggy accompanied Zephus to the temple of Ilmater, where they met another ally secured by the Order. This ally was none other than Set, ranger of the cautious disposition, and his faithful wolf Bongo.

The group went into the temple fearlessly (other than Set, who felt nervous around stained glass windows) but all they found was an old priest. This priest explained that the undead encounters happened at night, and they were welcome to wait until then. They did so, and after being ambushed by a group of zombies (which looked remarkably like goblins) and wheeps, they found a secret passage underneath a statue. This led to an ancient burial chamber. The group found a room with several ornate sarcophagi, floating outside of which were 4 ghosts. One of the spirits spoke to the group, and lamented being murdered many years before by followers of Cyric. The attack by the followers of Cyric was eventually repelled, but now it seems their undead forms had found a way to breach the temple of Ilmater and enact their revenge. Zephus and Nellie readily agreed to end the threat, while Set hesitated but found himself too frightened to leave alone.

The adventurers entered into the breach and found themselves in a long forgotten dungeon. Here, undead followers of Cyric were imprisoned in oubliettes in the floor. After passing the macabre scene, they came upon a door which had two stout locks. Splitting up, the group searched two seemingly empty floor cells that each had something sparkly in them. Unfortunately, they weren’t really empty! A group of Wheeping Widowers attacked Zephus, and Nellie was beset by Plague Zombies. Set was caught in the middle. At first their attacks seemed to be not very effective against their targets, but realizing their opponents were resistant to their weapon types they switched targets and were able to rekill the undead. Picking up the keys, they entered into the final chamber.

In the large ritual chamber, Zephus and company met an evil necromancer who was raising the dead Cyric followers and sending them to attack the temple of Ilmater. Just when they believed they had weathered the waves of Wheeps and Zombies he threw at them, Zephus, Nellie and Shaggy were caught the necromancer’s Dense Fog spell. And to add injury to insult, the evil wizard then surrounded the fog with a Wall of Fire! Burning and blinded, the trio attempted to escape the insidious trap while Set worked his way around it to get a clear shot at the necromancer. Being the fastest, Shaggy reached the edge of the fog first. Heroically leaping through the flames, the dog collapsed from his wounds on the other side. Hearing the pathetic whimper, Zephus charged through next, sustaining third degree burns himself in order to get close enough to Lay his Hands on the poor pooch. Nellie followed, and between the three of them they quickly had the necromancer on the ropes. But the hero of the day would be Set the Careful, who had finally gotten in range. Letting fly a perfectly aimed arrow, he blasted the life out of the worker of death.

The ghosts and the priest of Ilmater were highly appreciative of the heroes’ efforts. The latter suggested they return to Sir Devan for a reward. Having already been paid, Set returned to the woodlands. Nellie went home to minister to Shaggy’s wounds. Zephus was once again alone. Back at the Order temple, Sir Devan was impressed at Zephus’ success. With Zephus’ blessing he decided to induct Nellie into the Order as an initiate. Zephus himself received a pair of Gauntlets of Righteous Fury, which gave him extra strength when an ally was under attack. Feeling vindicated and victorious, Zephus could not help but wonder, what lay in store next for the paladin and his charge?

To Be Concluded…

Enigmatic Excavations
Bustin' makes us feel good!!

Meanwhile, as the Dragonbusters took time to investigate the ancient Moathouse Keep following the expulsion of the young blue dragon Utreshimon, events seemed to be taking a turn for the bland. Most of what was left behind here hardly seemed as though it should have been of concern to Elminster. Aside from the odd gray ooze or halfway decent piece of treasure or ordinary gear, this place seemed to be something of a wild goose chase. Fortunately, the eyes of elven Rogues tend to be keener than most and it was Nero and Iseri who managed to locate a secret passage which led down under the ground floor of the keep and into the belly of the earth…

Treading cautiously down an old stone passage, the group managed to overhear the sounds of digging and the clattering of tools. A bit of stealth allowed the team to overhear a terse conversation between a female Cleric and a small band of gnolls, who seemed to be excavating the grounds under the keep in search of precious relics. Deciding to use the element of surprise to their advantage, Kiba sent in his loyal constrictor snake David to provide some chaos as the rest of the team prepared a little something for the would be archaeologists…

Iseri used her arcane powers to blast a smoldering hole through the chest of the Cleric and Kiba followed suit with a barrage of arrows that toppled her before she had the chance to utter a single healing spell. The gnolls, terrified at seeing their mistress so utterly destroyed by the powerful adventurers, threw down their weapons and sued for mercy. Kiba wanted to delight in a bit of aggressive interrogation, but this was not necessary. The gnolls revealed that they had been hired by a strange band of dark Clerics to perform knifework and manual labor for a healthy sum. Normally, the gnolls would not have considered this, but pickings had been slim lately thanks to what the gnolls described as ‘men folk in shiny steel pants’. The gnolls were so terrified at this point that one of them lost control and soiled itself from fright. Erelune the druid was happy to gather some gnoll’s urine to be used as a possible reagent in her alchemical endeavors. The Ranger still pressed from more violent measures, but was overruled by his fellow busters, who opted to let the terrified creatures flee into the hills. Nero was even so kind as to slip a few coppers into their pockets as a gesture of pity as they fled. Taking the time to examine the site, the group lucked into a few choice magical items. A Bead of Force was given to Nero and an archaic item known as a Torch of Revealing and three cones of incense used as its fuel were gathered to be examined later to determine their purpose. An ancient looking scepter which was encrusted with gemstones and of fine quality was also among the objects uncovered. Though non-magical it would fetch a fine sum once appraised. The fallen Cleric herself had some standard weapons and armor, but also some choicer potions. She also bore a holy symbol the same as those found on the bodies of the hobgoblin patrol the previous day. This would bear further investigating!

Elsbeth was later able to put her powers as a Morning Lady of Lathander (thanks to some mail order instructions sent from the Pope of Sareloon) to the test as a group of skeletons in adjacent room were inadvertently released by Nero. A moment’s concentration and a prayer to Lathander soon led to the room being full of blinding light, followed by nothing but ashes and discarded weapons. Meanwhile, Iseri and Erelune led the others to the western part of the complex, where they spied another guard patrol, this time comprised of nothing but gnolls. A bit of stealth and a fireball spell from Iseri soon had the room cleared (but the scent of gnoll-b-q would linger for at least a week). Further exploration led to a set of stairs leading up back to the main area of the fortress and a torture chamber to the south, which had become the residence of some ghasts. Iseri and Elsbeth managed to deal with the majority of the abominations along with Nero and Erelune’s panther companion, though Kiba was subjected to a bout of paralysis from the claws of one of the creatures. Following his recovery, the group began a detailed search of the rest of the area. In what appeared to be an abandoned armory, they came across a rather well dressed man in a red travel coat. In spite of his disheveled appearance, he spoke well and introduced himself as Spugnoir, recently arrived apothecary to Sandpoint Town. He had opened shop in the recent expansion and left his daughter to run things while he scoured the wilds for possible ingredients to use in his brews and tonics. Following the chaos with the dragon and defending himself from the hobgoblins and gnolls, the weary potions master fled to this place to hole up and try to think of a way to escape, but to no avail! The Dragonbusters, being compassionate souls, offered to guide the fellow out. His joy was great and in return for their kindness, he offered them a 30% grand opening discount at his shop when they returned to town! Furthermore, Spugnoir also offered to lead the group to a place of great interest to the Clerics that had come here that he had overheard tell of during his entrapment.

Following Spugnoir’s lead, the busters were lead to yet another secret passage in the underground, this one leading to an ancient crypt. Some ghouls still festered in this place, but with the busters on the scene, the undead were soon reduced to compost! Following this battle, Spugnoir again took the lead, to guide the adventurers further into the depths of the ancient keep…..

Training Day
Zephus gets a sidekick!
Once more taking a much needed break from the insane and oft-drunken antics of his fellow Dragonbusters, Zephus returned to Westgate. There he sought out his superior in the Order of the Radiant Heart, Sir Devan. As usual, Sir Devan had a new assignment for the erstwhile paladin, this time with a twist: Zephus would be responsible for the safety and training of a new potential recruit. The two of them were charged with protecting a small caravan on its way out of town to the West. Sir Devan had strict orders: under no circumstances were Zephus and his charge to cross the border into Teziir. Relations between the two city-states were in flux and the presence of Order members might be seen as a hostile act. Zephus agreed and, eager to please the Order, went off to the small apartment of his trainee, fellow paladin Miss Nellie Keane.

The meeting got off to a rough start, as Nellie’s faithful hound, Shaggy, was immensely protective of the young woman. Zephus quickly calmed the situation, however, by offering the pooch some of his rations. Having some time before needing to meet the caravan, Zephus and Nellie spoke of the young paladin’s origins and ambitions. Nellie hailed from Athkatla in Amn, where she grew up as an orphan idolizing the Order Knight Tsevyena Phalanx. Not being able to join the Order’s ranks in her home country due to having no sponsor and an overwhelming amount of applicants, the Order offered to send her to a region more in need of her services: the Dragon Coast. They even had a patron willing to pay for her travel expenses and some humble living quarters until she got into the Order. Nellie jumped at the chance.

After getting to know each other a little better, the two headed out to meet the caravan driver. He was a bit hard to get along with thanks to his greedy and miserly nature, but the pair ignored him as best they could. The first day of the trek went uneventfully, but on the second day the lead wagon met with unfortunate circumstances. One of its wheels broke suddenly, but the clever Zephus noticed it was not an accident. Someone had buried packets of acid shallowly in the road. Immediately recognizing this as a trap, Zephus started to ready for battle, but he was too late. Bandits were upon them!

A small horde of bandits and their leader attacked, hoping to get some easy plunder. They reckoned without Zephus, however. He and Traitorbane laid waste to the criminal band, with a little help from Nellie’s spear, shield, and hound. Capturing the leader alive, Zephus questioned him regarding bandit activities in the area. Satisfied with his answers and resisting a strange urge to slash him for betraying his fellow bandits, Zephus let the scoundrel go. Nellie cast a spell on the wagon to resist acid and the caravan continued.

Coming to the border with Teziir, Zephus was concerned for the traders’ safety. He decided to accompany the caravan the rest of the way as a personal favor, and sent Nellie and Shaggy back to Westgate to report to Sir Devan. The Teziir gate guards, however, recognized him as a member of the Order and promised to report his presence to their mayor. Accepting the caravan driver’s thanks, Zephus returned to Westgate. There he found that Nellie had lied to protect him, telling Sir Devan that he had had some business to attend to before reporting in. Sir Devan had discovered the truth, though, thanks to a letter from Teziir that had precipitated him. While disappointed that Zephus had disobeyed orders and sent Nellie alone into danger, Sir Devan was pleased that the caravan had been protected successfully. He reminded Zephus of his duty to law and order, and to chalk this one up to experience.

To be continued…


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