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…