Completing their journey to Esteron, the group set about finding the location of the hero registrations, a task easily completed by asking for directions. While waiting in line, they met a group of aspiring adventurers, Rogan and Simon having a conversation with a wizard named [wizard] who was excited to meet others who spoke abyssal. At the time Rogan was attempting to convince Simon to help trick the adventurers into giving up their place in line, as both spoke the demonic tongue (Ironically for opposite reasons), but luckily [wizard] only heard Simon’s half of the exchange, commenting that the novices seemed under equipped but were allowed to be here. While the linguists conversed, the less lingual Ugg challenged the group to sparring, which was quickly accepted by a dwarf named [dwarf]. The two fought valiantly and eventually the dwarf surrendered (not aware that Ugg was mere moments away from having to surrender himself).
Upon entering Esteron’s throne room the team introduced themselves to Jean Paul, the leader of the Order of Light and registered as “The Darkhide Raiders”. Jean Paul revealed concerns about the group, as others who had traveled through the Door of Aeons were drastically changed. However, the need for more heroes had jean Paul wave these concerns, and so he tasked them with finding and dealing with a group of cultists that had been attacking the surrounding villages. While in the throne room the group discovered a shrine to Apollen, the god of light, in a small back room. As he was the only team member of enough moral standing to receive the god’s blessing, Apollen spoke to Lee and offered him the power of his alumni. Lee declined his offer, wanting to evaluate his options, and so our adventurers set off.
Faced with the prospect of danger, the raiders needed to reach a decision concerning the fate of Trent, who had been sheepishly following them awaiting a rendezvous with Finrod that would not come. Discussion with the cursed man revealed that Trent required regular portions of a potion from Finrod to live. Hearing talk that he may not reunite with Finrod had Trent quite upset, and his whimpering inspired Mazura to lie to the man-child and convince him that Finrod was actually dead. This deceit was quickly ceased by the others, as they were unsure of his motives and unnerved by the perverse joy he was taking in tormenting the poor soul. Ultimately it was determined that they would leave Trent in the care of the nearby Temple of Light and inform them of his unique situation, hoping that the priests would be able to find the means to salvage the boy or at the very least that Finrod would find him and administer his potion.
After resting up and preparing they set out to the location of the most recent cultist attack, a small village close to the Great Wall of Esteron. Arriving at the scene, the group discovered that every home had been burned to the ground. Beneath the rubble of one such home they found a farmer quite close to death. Lee attempted to tend the man’s wounds, but in doing so accidentally caused him to begin bleeding to death. With a man’s life in danger Mazura sprung into action and pulled out the Staff of Healing, but rather than attempt to activate it’s healing powers he proceeded to bludgeon the wounded man with the magical stick. With him now on the brink of death Lee felt obligated to use the only magical healing spell he could cast for the day to fix the damage of Mazura’s poorly feigned ignorance. Once he awoke the farmer informed his rescuers and also Mazura that the cultists were a band of Ethanos worshiping tieflings who had kidnapped the women from the village and set off to the west. Simon located the Cultist’s tracks and the heroes set off westward.
Simon followed the tiefling tracks all the way to the Wall of Esteron, where they promptly disappeared. The crew searched for some secret passageway through the wall, but found nothing of the sort. Their searching caught the attention of one of the Wall Guards, who called down to them. After alleviating his suspicions of the men curiously tampering with the wall, he agreed to lowering down one of the emergency ladders so that the intrepid investigators could climb up and attempt to relocate the cultist’s tracks on the other side. This seeming simple task proved to be quite hazardous as several warriors nearly fell to their deaths – especially Simon Tars, whose wizard-induced axe wound was aggravated by the strenuous activity, causing violent spasms that threw him from the ladder. Thankfully Lee rescued him by summoning a hippogriff to catch and carry him the rest of the way up. Once at the top, they scanned the ground below for signs of further tracks but there were none to be found.
As there were no ladders attached to the outer side of the great wall, the elevated entrepreneurs decided to travel along the top of the wall and regroup in the town of Irongate, as they were tired and had hippogriff claw marks to clean. On the way they were questioned by some of the passing wall guard, but were allowed through. Mazura let the party journey on without him as he met up with some associates and began drinking heavily. The rest of the team located an inn and negotiated prices for rooms. Rather than paying for three or four rooms with a single bed in each, they decided to get one room for Ugg and then book the honeymoon suite; The large two-person bed in that room could easily fit Rogan and Lee, the two half-sized party members, and have the relatively thin Simon Tars sleep along the bottom of the bed without any discomfort. The innkeeper didn’t seem to grasp the frugal intentions of the adventurers and gave an odd look when the angry looking man booked a romantic suite for himself and two midgets.
With a quick bit of research the location of the nearby Temple of Ethanos was discovered and the cultist hunters began their trek. Mazura was especially exhausted that morning, as he had chosen to stay up all night drinking. Seeing that Mazura was in a weakened state, Ugg decided to take the Staff of Healing from him to prevent another near-death situation like the one with the farmer. Once it was in his hands he was greeted by the staff’s inhabitant, Gerald, but Ugg promptly and perhaps wisely chose to ignore the strange voice. The team arrived at the temple to find it destroyed and clearly unable to be entered. Inspired by a theory Simon Tars searched for a nearby cavern, finding one in the form of an abandoned mine, and sure enough he found the telltale tracks of the cultists littering the entrance.
Prepping up and venturing into the cave, Simon Tars was immediately distracted by a small alcove filled with water and set about expertly and efficiently searching the pond – There was nothing of value to be found, but Simon pocketed several cool looking mundane rocks he had found. While this occurred the still exhausted and hungover Mazura decided that the Staff of Healing that had been taken from him was his “Precious”, despite his unwillingness to even attempt either using the staff’s magic or conversing with the powerful soul inhabiting it. Ignoring his compromised physical condition and several several potential witnesses Mazura attempted to steal the staff back from Ugg – an attempt which proved to be a resounding success despite the staggering improbability.
Further into the cave some strange writing was discovered on a wall. Recognizing it as Infernal, the language of devils, Simon Tars read the single word aloud: “Barghast”, a kind of devil that disguises itself as a small humanoid and eats the flesh of it’s victims to increase in size. Observing the light of a campfire coming from a small cavern, the group approached to find two suspicious goblins feasting on strange-looking meat. Rogan spotted a chest behind the goblins, and so walked around them and immediately started rummaging for treasure. Mazura felt no need for caution and approached the goblins attempting to make friendly contact. The goblins were quite welcoming to his approach and once Mazura moved to shake their hands the Barghasts dropped their goblin disguise and attacked. This trick completely caught Mazura by surprise despite the earlier warning and the Barghast quickly brought him to the brink of death. Seeing their comrade fall to these critters, the rest of the raiders charged forth to interrupt the Barghasts attempts to devour the helpless man. In the throws of battle Mazura regained consciousness and clutching his prescious staff of healing, once again ignored the staff’s magical abilities in lieu of using it to lightly club his attackers. This light clubbing, coupled with Rogan’s eldritch power and Ugg’s significantly heavier clubbing brought down the Barghasts. Searching the treasure chest they found a small amount of diamonds, some potions, a crossbow intended for use by those of goblin size and a chain mail shirt made from mithril, which Simon Tars chose to put on while Lee tended to Mazura’s wounds.
Heading further into the cave our slightly chewed-on warriors reached a very unsuspicious bridge in a wide tunnel. Despite it’s unsuspiciousness, Rogan noticed that the latter half of the bridge was actually an illusion, thanks to his use of the “detect magic” spell while assessing the Barghast’s treasure. After Rogan informed the others, Simon Tars decided to jump the gap to assess any dangers on the other side while the others traversed the gap. Rogan decided to be more cautious, as he was much worse at jumping due to his short limbs and lesser running speed, so he instead slowly sidled along the tunnel wall. Too impatient to follow Rogan, Mazura chose to leap the gap after Simon, but wasn’t quite as successful, having to catch himself on the ledge. With no discernible danger and with Mazura to watch his back, Simon set about assessing a goblin mining equipment room he had found, where he noticed a small locked chest. Deciding to work together to cross the half-bridge, Lee and Ugg devised a plan in which Ugg would throw Lee across before attempting the jump himself – In the course of events this resulted in both the gnome and the half-giant falling to the bottom of the pit, where they discovered that it was filled with bones. Mazura and Simon pulled up Ugg with Mazura’s trusty chain, Lee climbed up the pit, taking a femur with him to give to Simon as a “friendship femur”. Once Rogan finished crossing the pit, he used his warlock power of darkvision, and saw a large creature in the darkness watching them.
A quick assessment of their surveyor had them quickly deduce that this goblin-looking monstrosity thrice the size of a regular goblin was actually yet another Barghast, bloated from presumably having fed on the goblins miners that had been occupying this cave. He sat upon a throne much too small for him, and next to that throne stood a pike with the mounted head of a goblin king. Taking advantage of the behemoth’s patience, the team enchanted their weapons and moved forward. Ugg lead the charge with Mazura immediately behind him, Rogan circled around while throwing out blasts of warlock power, and Simon and Lee hung back to magically hinder their opponent. In the throws of combat, the Barghast made an attempt to charge past his attackers to focus on the men using magic. This proved to be fatal mistake, as his failed bypass allowed the Raiders to inflict heavy damage upon the devil and easily surround him. Beneath the belligerent blows of battle the beast burst asunder with a baleful bellow, a pile of corpse meat even larger than the barghast itself exploding out of it’s stomach.
Searching the goblin throne cavern revealed a secret door in the cave wall marked by a small inscription in Infernal, clearly the entrance to the Cultist’s domain. In addition, Rogan claimed a small crown from the severed head of the goblin king, as the crown had the remarkable ability to turn the negative effects of disease into positive effects. Mazura used skills gained in his time as an entirely honorable guardsman to pick the lock to the chest they had found in the equipment storage, within the chest there was a magical amulet called the Phylactery of the Faithful (which was, upon Simon’s determined inspection, not an actual phylactery) which gave it’s wearer vague feelings of whether their chosen deity would approve or disapprove of any action they take. Lee chose to wear it for a time to test it out. The team decided return to the first barghast camp to rest and prepare for their attack on the cultists.
Will the Darkhide Raiders become famous heroes of Esteron? Will they defeat the Cultists and rescue the damsels? Will Mazura attempt to learn how to use his precious staff? Find out next week on “Session Log”.