While going about their business, five men with nothing better to do than get swept up by destiny find themselves unconscious in a mysterious dungeon; Ugg, a Half-giant brute of immense strength. Mazura Chainer, an Irongate guard with a vendetta against Queen Artemis. Lee, a guardian of the balance in all walks of life. Simon Tars, self proclaimed “Wizard Hunter”. And Rogan, who had been chained to an anvil.
Upon awakening, they are greeted by a mysterious man in a mysterious hooded cloak with mysterious machinations for our intrepid band. Tasking them with drinking from three magical basins throughout the dungeon, the mystery man lead the team to a room filled with incredible magical equipment to clothe and arm them. This equipment proved invaluable, as the dungeon was filled with demonic creatures, including but not limited to demonic centipedes, flying orcs, a vampire and a terrifying quill-shooting beast called a Howler. Lee grew particularly fond of a pile of wooden stakes we found and used against the vampire and his spawn, dubbing them “Friendship sticks”.
While exploring the dungeon the team found several strange things;
- A demonic message circle containing a note from a mysterious “L.G.” admitting his betrayal to an unknown party.
- Several books on the art of demon summoning and the torture of humanoids marked as “Property of Yesville, return to Greymane”, whom the group assumed to be a very evil man indeed.
- The corpse of a Copper Dragonborn by the name of Ssarthulo, next to another note from “L.G.” stating that Ssarthulo was the only one of “the group” he could find – Our adventurers concluded that this “group” must obviously have some important relevance to their presence here.
- A Bag of Holding containing a broken trumpet, a bent metal staff and a small box with some powerful magic inside.
- Several wall paintings depicting the legend of the Great Demon War, and more specifically, four magical keys used to seal and unseal the gateway to the domain of Mal’rek the demon king.
As coincidence would have it they also discovered those very keys being used by a powerful looking dwarf to prevent a portal from opening. The mysterious cloaked man reappeared to tell them that this man was Hankar, founder of the Order of Light, who had sacrificed his free will to keep Mal’rek’s portal closed. He also informed them that, having successfully drunken from the three basins, their minds now contained the secret locations of several “Old Gods” who must be awakened to “save the world”. Having learned all that they needed to, the cloaked man bade them return to their starting position, where a door made of ghostly hands stood ready to accept their entrance.
Stepping through the door’s forceful embrace showed that the hands had no regard for safety, as the wanderers awoke unarmed and naked (save for the bag of holding and the objects inside) in front of a large number of elite guards and the sage Queen Artemis. The Queen quickly cast a sleep spell to return the party to unconsciousness , succeeding against all except Mazura, drawing on his loathing of Artemis to resist and charge at her. While impressive it wasn’t particularly wise, as there were dozens of guards between him and his target who promptly beat him unconscious.
Rousing once more, this time in a prison transport carriage the prisoners used their newfound waking-up-in-random-places skills and immediately set about plotting an escape. Before the team had a chance to form a plan, a half-elf with more time to prepare began enacting his own escape plan; knocking a guard unconscious, unshackling the captive heroes, tossing them some spare knives and introducing himself as Finrod. Immediately upon being freed, Rogan chose to slay the unconscious guard.
Bursting out to fight the transport guards, the team dove into action; Rogan set about eviscerating whoever he could. Unwilling to use the knives Finrod offered, Ugg took to attempting to use corpses as weapons. Mazura attempted to conceal his freed state to ambush any guard who entered the carriage. Simon willed some magical protection into being and attempted to engage as many guards as possible to act as a distraction. Lee remained in the carriage due to the fact that his manacles were stuck, but he summoned an octopus to guard himself in the meantime. Once Mazura realised no guards would be checking on him, he climbed out of and hid underneath the carriage to ambush any guards who walked by. Ugg attempted to charge the guard’s commander, but his floppy weapon of choice proved ineffective against the well armoured combatant. Simon and Rogan managed to strike down the all the remaining guards save for one, who surrendered – Simon chose to spare him and went to assist Ugg, while Rogan continued to attack the now helpless man. Once Mazura realised no guards would be walking by the carriage he climbed out and joined the fray, stabbing the guard who had just surrendered. With only the guard captain remaining, Finrod struck down the Guard commander’s horse and Simon immobilised him with a web spell. Ugg then punched him unconscious, and in celebration tossed his corpse around like a ragdoll until he too died.
After looting the guards for all they could carry, the team followed Finrod to his safehouse, though a competitive drive between Simon and Finrod had the team travelling at a fatiguing speed. Once they arrived Finrod gave them a cryptic warning to not pay much heed to his man-servant, Trent. Because of this, they immediately began paying heed to his manservant, observing Finrod being quite absusive towards the aged manchild and hearing him talk of times when Finrod had forced him to kill children and begging the heroes for rescue.
Determined to free the poor soul Simon challenged Finrod to a drinking contest using one of Finrod’s poisons, wagering ownership of Lee against ownership of Trent. Though he drunk admirably, Simon passed out mere moments before Finrod did. The second Finrod was unconscious Rogan pulled out a knife and stabbed him, at which point Finrod rose from unconsciousness suspiciously quickly and drank from a hidden bottle identical to the one with the poison in it. Seeing Finrod drink this potion to immediately recover from the poison had the conscious crusading collective to conclude that this charlatan had cheated the contest. Enraged at this deceit, Ugg joined in with Rogan’s attempts to end Finrod, but unfortunately for them he managed to escape out a window. Doing a small amount of opportunistic looting, the team claimed a Magical Compound Bow, a bag containing 500 gold and they decided to take Trent with them. With nothing better to do they decided to journey to Esteron, as Finrod had told them that he had rescued them specifically because the City of Heroes needed more heroes (how wise it was to decide this after making an enemy of their envoy is up for consideration).
Having to carry the weight of the still-unconscious Simon, Ugg had to unload some of the equipment taken from the guards, and so the team noticed that the guard commander’s gear was marked with the insignia of Queen Artemis’ royal knights. As having that such armour would attract the attention of law enforcement and it was too damaged to sell anyway, they left the armour in Finrod’s house.
Travelling to the nearest town, the lawman-filled Westsilver, the team sent Mazura Chainer to discreetly inform the guards of the location of Finrod’s hideout in the hopes that they’d ambush their new enemy if he returned for supplies. Unfortunately Mazura was immediately recognized by the first guard he encountered, and promptly taken to prison. Mazura used his status as an Irongate guard to negotiate his return to his town’s service in exchange for the location to Finrod’s house, containing evidence that he was responsible for the death of the Queen’s knight. While this was going on Rogan walked into town and used his small stature to pose as a child to get a set of leather armour refitted to his size and Lee crafted some new friendship sticks.
The member of the collective who weren’t on a prisoner convoy traveled to meet up with Mazura at the town of Irongate. Once they reunited, Mazura used his connections with the shadier members of the particularly shady Irongate guardsmen to get supplies and equipment and sell off the masterwork sword of the Queen’s elite. Lee got a quaterstaff, Simon got a buckler, Mazura got a few extra knives and Ugg got an anvil strapped to a pole that we call a hammer.
While on their way to Esteron they bumped into a travelling item salesman named Barnabas, who seemed to be a quite powerful wizard. Barnabas sold magical items to aspiring heroes, but had come upon hard times due to the recent development that all magical objects were developing negative side effects. Despite this they purchased a shirt or magical resistance that attracted nonmagical attacks, and had it re-sized to fit Ugg, though he was quite unwilling to wear a shirt.
Barnabas seemed to recognize the objects that had been found in the bag of holding during the mystery dungeon, and even repaired them for no charge. The magical box was actually a soul container, housing the spirit of a man named Wilhelm. The bent staff was repaired into a staff of healing, apparantly containing the soul of a being named Gerald. Finally the trumpet was revealed to be the Flocking Flugelhorn, an instrument that summoned beautiful birds when it was sounded (whether or not this object also had a soul in it was not yet revealed). The horn seemed to be different now, as this time it summoned an infant dragon instead of a bird. Though the dragon seemed intent to kill it’s summoner, Lee calmed it’s rage and attempted to befriend it.
Over the course of their interactions, Barnabas grew fearful of our protagonists, finding them to be violent and possibly evil (especially Rogan). He did not take the news that they had gotten violent with Finrod well, as he supposedly knew him and his apparently cursed manservant. Barnabas quickly fled to his caravan and seemed very unwilling to have any business with the group in future.
Will our heroes finish their journey to Esteron? Or will Finrod the Hunter get his revenge? Will Mazura’s incarceration reveal his identity to Queen Artemis? And what will our heroes do about the growing number of cursed and soul-trapped tagalongs in need of rescue? Tune in next week to find out.