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Part 4,

The Standing Stone



Party Members


Caleshorn, Male Elven Rogue/Illusionist - Deceased
Darius Darkhammer, Male Dwarven Fighter/Cleric of Moradin
Dzindra (Dizzy) Daggersmith, Female Human Monk
Paks, Female Half-Elven Paladin of Yondalla
Brillock Stoneweaver, Male Human Fighter/Wizard/Spellsword

with

Cassiopeia the Fallen Angel

What has come before:

In Oakhurst, the party answered a call for help and put a stop to the Druid Belak and the Gulthias Tree. The Gulthias Tree had grown from the wooden stake that was used to slay a dragon-priest who had become a vampire.

The party continued on to Blasingdell where they met the dwarf Kheldegen Tolm. He told the party that Shatterspike, the sword of Sir Bradford, the fallen Paladin of Torm, had been created by the dwarven master-smith Durgeddin; in the hilt of the sword the party found a map that they couldn’t decipher.

The party traveled to the home of the diviner Cassiopeia on the outskirts of Blasingdell; she caused the fall of Sir Bradford. Cassiopeia told the party that the map led to Glitterhame, a dwarven hold founded by Durgeddin. In exchange for interpreting the map, Cassiopeia requested that the party recover an item – a weightless box – from the dwarven hold. The party agreed.

Exploring Glitterhame, the party overcame many foes, lost one of their own – the psychic warrior Shaidarol, and two more joined the party – the elven rogue/illusionist Caleshorn and the chicken farmer Couradil. Finding their way to the lowest levels of Glitterhame, the party found and defeated Nightscale, a young black dragon. Beneath the dragon’s lair, the party recovered the “box.”

Upon leaving Glitterhame the party encountered an unusually early winter storm and on their way back to Blasingdell the party passed an orc army heading toward Glitterhame. The party found Blasingdell deserted and Cassiopeia’s house destroyed. In the rubble they found one of her recording spheres showing what had occurred.

A half-ogre / half-demon had led the orc army to Blasingdell and captured the populace while looking for the “box.” The demon attacked Cassiopeia but she managed to escape. At the end of the recording the demon said, “Tell Gulthias, we should be …”

The party headed for Brindinford to recover. While in town the party was attacked by many nefarious creatures. The party eventually uncovered and defeated a plot by Ghaerleth Axom, a mind flayer. Unfortunately, before the party could overcome him, Ghaerleth sent Caleshorn to another plane.

During their battle the mind flayer told them “… if I had not been betrayed by Cassiopeia I would still be standing in the illithiad city” and “Cassiopeia summoned the great machine. She helped them open the way to the planes and then cut the gates to the other parts of Gheddon.

While in Brindinford, Paks accepted a quest from Dentheria, halfling priestess of Yondalla. Party headed north. There is a great scar – a region of evil to the north. Only two members of an earlier party sent to investigate ever returned – and they were fatally wounded. Before they died they told the priestess that there were many types of undead there; they also mentioned a word or a name – Gulthias. In return for Paks assistance, the priestess tells Paks that, “The Stargazing society is willing to offer you membership.

Following a map provided by the priestess, the party sets out for the great scar. According to the map, the party is almost halfway there and they should be nearing the village of Ossington where they can re-supply for the next phase of their journey.

What will Ossington be like?

The Standing Stone, Day 1 Eleventh Game Session

On the Road to Ossington

The party awakens early in the morning with a light snow falling; based upon their experience, the party doesn’t think the snow will amount to anything substantial.

The party departed Brindinford three weeks ago. Before we left, we to visited Diz’s mother again; Diz wanted to make sure everything was okay and ask her a few questions.

Dzindra's Home In Beaufort, Three Weeks Past

When we arrived at Diz’s house, Jazlyin was waiting for us with tea and crumpets (apparently a regional specialty) – almost as if she was expecting us. She invites us in and thanks us for saving the town – she was busy elsewhere.

Diz tells her mother about the mind flayer Ghaerleth Axom and ask if it was she or the mind flayer the party talked to in the library; Jazlyin laughs and says, “No, No, you talked with me.” Diz then asks if Erkitz is around; Jazlyin says, “I don’t think so, I think he off somewhere to the west.” Diz says, “We’ll be leaving for the north shortly. We are trying to help the halflings from Brindinford. Before going I want to show you something. Paks.” Paks takes out the “box” and hands it to Diz and Diz takes out the recording marble of the cave where we recovered the “box.” Jazlyin can’t tell us anything about the “box” but she copies down some of the symbols that surrounded the “box” to study them; she does tell the party that the recording devices are amazing. Darius shows her the recording of Cassiopeia and the half-ogre/half-demon; she doesn’t recognize either of them, but she says she will make some inquires.

The front door of the Daggersmith residence is made of sturdy wood, with several runes etched into them. Dzindra opens the door, and you see the first room is a small yet high-ceilinged antechamber, with just one door opposite the front one. Taking up much of the room is a large stone statue of a warrior with a warhammer in one hand and a shield in the other off to the left. The carving is exquisite enough that Darius feels that unless it was created by dwarves, it is probably magical. As soon as the party enters the room, Jot screams at them, "No fair! I can't enter!" Dzindra smiles, then walks up to the statue and stands on a box, cups her hands and speaks something into its ear. Then she shrugs and explains, "Mom says we need it to guard the house, but from what I don't know."

Then she gets down, opens the far door, and ushers you into the kitchen, where you are introduced to her half-elven mother, Jazlyin, and her father, Dirk. They are delighted to meet all of us, and introductions take up the next 15 minutes. Jazlyin works at the local university and Dirk is a masterwork weaponsmith. You quickly figure out that Jazlyin is a wizard, since unseen servants do most of the housework and bring you your drinks. Pax doesn’t detect evil from either of Diz’s parents.

Diz and the party say their goodbyes; as Diz leaves she asks her mother not to tell Erkitz about any of this; Jazlyin says, “Don’t worry about your brother. He’s a good boy.

Just as the party finishes packing their camp, they hear two horses approaching from the direction of Brindinford. Diz hides in the shadows as the party awaits the riders. Two ponies appear around the corner. One of the riders is male and the other female – its Caleshorn and Cassiopeia. Cal looks okay, but Cassiopeia seems rather distant. The party and Cal exchange greetings; Cassiopeia doesn’t say anything. She seems to be acting like Cal’s servant.

Cal tells us that he was sent to Pandemonium. While he was there he “found” Cassiopeia and saved her life; she has been like this ever since. She has cast some spells to help him, but she hasn’t really fought anyone. He thinks that the howling winds of Pandemonium affected her in some way. Cal says, “I finally managed to find my way out of Pandemonium and made my way to Brindinford. The townsfolk told me where you were heading and I followed as fast as I could.

Diz asks him, “Are you a wererat?” Cal, not surprisingly, answers, “No. I’m fine.” as he nibbles on some cheese.

While they talk, Darius casts detect magic on Cal and Cassiopeia. He doesn’t detect anything from Cassiopeia, but Cal has a strange aura around him that Darius can’t decipher. Darius shares this with Paks and Diz. Paks tells them that she doesn’t detect any evil either.

As the reunited party prepares to set out they hear a scream up ahead – a human male – followed by a second scream – a different voice, a woman’s – that is suddenly cut off. The party hears the sound of hoof beats approaching. Running down the road toward the party is a man dressed in peasant garb. Behind the peasant a horseman appears riding a black horse; the rider is wearing armor, cloak, and wields a flaming sword. The horse and horseman appear insubstantial, almost ghostly. Diz races forward towards the peasant, grabs him, and jumps off the road just before the dark horseman would have ridden them down. Cal moves forward in the woods along the side of the road. Darius raises his crossbow, shots, and hits – although he can’t tell if it did anything; he didn’t hear the sound of any impact. The horseman veers of the road riding through (literally) the trees toward Diz and the peasant; the horseman solidifies and attacks the peasant – beheading him with his flaming sword and the horse tramples the body. Paks runs forward to help Diz while Diz attacks the horse with her nunchaku - and hits it hard. Darius moves forward as fast as he can to help. The rider locks eyes with Diz, passes his hands over the horses wounds healing them, turns the horse, becoming insubstantial, and rides off across the road into the woods. Diz and Cal attempt to attack him as he rides off, but their attacks pass through him without effect. Darius calls upon the light of Moradin’ Forge and casts searing light at the horseman – injuring the undead creature. Paks and Diz move in and engage the undead rider in melee and he becomes substantial to fight back. The horseman, again becoming insubstantial, rides further off into the woods. Darius joins Paks and Diz while Cal heads back to Cassiopeia and the horses. Suddenly, the dark rider turns around and charges back into Paks, Diz, and Darius. The three of them manage to slay the horse while Cal peppers the rider with Melf’s acid arrows and magic missiles, finally slaying it. The horse and horseman dissipate leaving nothing behind.

Investing the road ahead, the party finds the body of the woman and that of another man at a nearby campsite – victims of the dark rider.

Continuing down the road toward Ossington, the party sees a clearing and a small farm; it appears to be rickety, but there is smoke coming from the chimney. Diz knocks on the door and an old man – Tarby – answers. He tells us to come inside, quickly, before “them elves of horseman comes.” He leads us into a shabby kitchen; a woman – Tarnasha – with a trace of elven blood is waiting there with a crossbow. Old Tarby tells her to go and take care of the horses; Darius accompanies her. The party joins Tarby and Tarnasha for dinner; the party adds some of their remaining food to the meal. During dinner Tarby tells the party that the Grugach – the wild elves – have been attacking the village. A few of the villagers have tried to go for help – another group passed by yesterday – but they have all been killed by the horseman. He thinks that the horseman is working with the elves. After dinner, Tarby and the party head to bed. Cal stays up to help Tarnasha clean up – then they head for the barn where they spend the night. Cal learns that the elves have only become more aggressive recently – right about the time the horseman appeared.

The Standing Stone, Day 2 Eleventh Game Session

On the Road to Ossington

In the morning, the party once again sets out for Ossington. Around midday, the forest once again starts to thin and the party reaches a clearing. In the clearing the party finds an old structure – a low circular “hut-like” building made up of stones that look just thrown together. The structure has a single stone archway – no door – leading to the interior. Behind the building is what appears to be a graveyard. From inside the building the party hears a female voice chanting. Paks approaches the door and calls out, “Anyone there?” A female voice invites us to enter and resumes chanting. Inside, the structure has a low ceiling and the room is lit by candles; around the perimeter of the room hang the holy symbols of nine gods: Ehlona, goddess of the woodlands; Pelor, god of the sun; Wee Jass, goddess of death and magic; Boccob, god of magic, Fharlanghn, god of roads; Obad-Hai, god of nature; Olidammara, god of rogues; Nerull, god of death; and Vecna, god of secrets. A woman in her 30’s bows to the Wee Jass symbol, chants for the god’s intercession on the town’s behalf then moves on to the next symbol where she again asks for intercession; she continues moving from one god to the next. The woman has a tattoo around one eye and her hair is a mess – literally – twigs are sticking out of it. Sitting on her shoulder is a small creature, a monkey about the size of a small squirrel; the creature makes an odd sound – ohbodhigh. Her name is Henwin and she is the keeper of this place. She claims not to know anything about the horseman or why the elves are attacking the village.

The party continues on and finally reaches Ossington. They find an avenue lined with large menhir - standing stones – leading into the village. The village itself is set inside a large ring of standing stones; inside the first ring, at the center of the village and partially built into some of the buildings, is a second smaller ring. The villages’ fields lie outside the stone rings. All of the stones seem to have an ancient writing upon them, although we are unable to decipher any of it. A crowd seems to be waiting for us in the village.

Diz thinks she sees something in the woods along the edge of the fields and she darts off to investigate. Just after she enters the woods, she triggers a trap and a large sharpened log hurtles into her; she comes rushing back out severely injured. She heals herself, and we enter the village.

A crowd of forty or fifty people await us; they seem underfed – malnourished. They start to come forward and ask – beg – for food and help. When they see that Diz and Caleshorn have elven blood (Paks’ helm hides the evidence of her elven heritage), the crowd starts to get angry. A dark looking man with blond hair and a haunted look in his eye appears behind the mob and begins playing a lute; the music calms the crowd and they disperse. Diz thanks the man for his help and he introduces himself, in a rasping voice, as the “Cuckoo.” We ask about what has been going on and he directs us to Elder Murdous, the current leader of the village; he directs us to the only two-story building in the village.

We reach the elder’s house and knock o his door; Lizse answers and leads us inside. A butler is cooking and a secretary is working at a small desk. A well-fed man in his 60’s, Elder Murdous, enters the room. He takes us on a tour of the village and tells us of the elves attacks; he says the people are afraid to work the fields and that the villages’ food supply is almost gone. The trouble started just after a stranger – a horseman – arrived; the stranger visited all of the old monuments (the chapel, the stone circles, the silence keepers, the red horse, and the old barrow) in the area. The last monument he visited was the old barrow. Since then the elves have been attacking the villagers. The previous elder led a party to speak with the elves about a truce; they found them massacred by the elves. A few villagers have gone for help, but the horseman keeps killing them. Elder Murdous tells us that there is a mage – Dyson – and a trained warrior – Tully – in the village. We agree to help and he offers us rooms in his house while we investigate. Just as he is about to lead us back towards the center of the village, an arrow pierces his neck killing him instantly. The Cuckoo and other villagers dive for cover as other arrows streak toward the village and a flight of three fiendish hawks and a giant owl attack the party. The party slays the fiendish hawks and the owl. Cal spots an elf running back into the woods. He casts invisibility upon himself and gives chase. Cal loses his quarry, but on his way back to the village, he spots something – the elf. While following, he triggers a trap and narrowly avoids being caught into a net. The elf Cal had been following fades from like an illusion.

After the battle the party speaks with the Cuckoo and leans that there are about eighty people in town. The townsfolk no longer leave the ring of standing stones and neither the elves nor the horseman ever enter the ring.

The party heads to the tower of the mage Dyson; they knock on the door and are told to enter. Dyson is a well-kept gentleman around 35-40 years old; he seems mainly interested in his studies. He tells us about the monuments in the area: the red horse is a depression in a hill that some think look like a horse; the silence keepers are a small group of menhir to the southeast; and that the language on the menhir is an ancient druidic script. He says there was an ancient civilization in the area that was laid waste to by the dragon Ashardalong.

Tully is a good-looking woman around 35 yeas of age dressed in a suit of leather armor. Tully mentions that Paks sword is a nice example of Durgeddin’s work; Durgeddin also made her own sword. Darius asks to examine it and she agrees (it’s a +1 keen bastard sword with a secret compartment in the hilt). When Darius opens the compartment in the hilt, Tully is surprised – she didn’t know it existed. Tully seems rude and arrogant. She agrees to lead us to the great barrow, but she wants to spar with Paks first to see “how much help we’ll need.” Tully defeats Paks knocking her unconscious and as she passes Paks heading back to the tower she kicks her in the head. The party is outraged, but they manage to control themselves.

The party heads back to the elders’ house to rest for the night.

The Standing Stone, Day 3 Eleventh & Twelfth Game Session

Ossington & the Surrounding Lands

In the morning the party, Cassiopeia, and Tully set out for the great barrow. Tully remains rude and arrogant – almost catty – especially towards Paks but the party does learn that she found her sword in the entry chamber of the great barrow after defeating some minor undead on a previous trip to stop the horseman and the elves. The party comes across the remains of two humans – villagers slain by the elves. Suddenly Tully calls out, “He’s coming.

The dark rider appears ahead of the party and his horse let out a low moan; the party shakes off any nasty effects. The rider gestures towards Darius and he is suddenly thrown 120 feet into the air. As Darius falls back to earth, Cal casts a web spell to soften his landing. Meanwhile, the horseman attacks Tully. Tully engages the horseman while Paks attacks his horse. After Cal cuts Darius free from the web, the horseman rides off.

Around noon the party reaches the clearing where the great barrow is located. The barrow is approximately 500 feet in diameter and 100 feet high. On the lintel over the archway into the barrow is written Saithner the Warlord in ancient druidic; Tully translated it for us. Saithner was a famous warlord in this area. The entry chamber is a small 10-foot by 10-foot chamber with a small alter. The walls are made up of a mixture of small and large stones; they seem to be arranged in a haphazard style. They make many small nooks and crannies creating strange areas of shadow. On the opposite wall is more writing in ancient druidic. Tully translates it as:

Heart shall be Bolder
Courage the Greater
Will the Sterner
as Our Strength Lessens

Cal finds three secret doors hidden in the chamber; Tully seems rather aggravated by the fact she missed them. The door opposite the entry way opens to a blank stone slab; the other two doors lead to passage with curve away, following the shape of the barrow. Paks walks into the “slab” to see if it’s real – it is; Tully found it rather amusing.

As the party prepares to move deeper into the barrow, Cassiopeia lights a torch and holds it for the party. The party sets off down the “left” passage with Caleshorn in the leave. He suddenly stops as an undead creature with white desiccated flesh and long black claws steps from the shadows. Cal retreats to the back of the party. The creature charges Tully and strikes her; she collapses against the wall and slides to the floor. Diz tumbles past the creature and attacks it, landing a solid blow. Darius steps forward and presents his holy symbol as he boldly calls upon the power of his god, “By Moradin’s will I command thee begone.” Darius’ turning utterly destroys the creature.

Tully wants to be left behind; she says she won’t be able to keep up. Paks initially refuses but after a short argument the party takes Tully back to the entry chamber and leaves her there. Diz makes her an herbal tea before the party continues on.

The party only makes it another 10-feet or so down the corridor before Cal stops them again; the ceiling ahead is rigged to collapse. Cal tries to disable it, but fails. He almost manages to tumble out of the way before the ceiling fully collapses, blocking the hall and burying Caleshorn. Darius and Cassiopeia rush forward and dig Cal out. Once Cal is safe Cassiopeia returns to her near-catatonic state.

Since the left-hand passage is now blocked, the party follows the right-hand passage. The party follows it all the way around the outer edge of the barrow and finds the other side of the collapsed passage; during the trip the party passed six other passages leading further into the interior of the barrow. As the party takes the last passage into the interior, another white-skinned undead steps out of the shadows. Before the creature can act, Darius destroys it; the dust from the creature settles over Cal. A disturbing laugh suddenly echoes down all of the hallways. A short distance later another passage collapses burying Cal – he almost tumbled free - and Darius. Diz, Paks, and Cassiopeia dig them out. They find Cal near the edge of the collapse and Darius, standing upright, where he was when the ceiling collapsed.

Just before the collapse is another side passage - the party follows it. Another undead attacks and Paks turns it. The creature flees and Caleshorn and Cassiopeia give chase; Diz chases after Cal. Paks and Darius move forward slowly mapping the complex and looking for other directions to travel. A creature steps from one of the other side passages and Darius turns it to dust. Darius looks down one of the other passages; as he does so a wall slides across the passage blocking. Diz, Cal, and Cassiopeia give up the chase and return to the party.

Continuing on, the party finds a passage they believe leads to the very center – a curved wall at the end is covered with ancient druidic writing. Partway down the passage, Cal notices a crushing wall trap. The party decides to try another passage.

Ahead of the party another undead creature steps from the shadows and Darius destroys it. Suddenly, another wall slides shut just in front of Caleshorn. From behind the party comes the sound of rumbling – like a boulder rolling down the passage. Before the party can react the boulder rolls over the party, knocking them all to the ground, and continues on through the stone wall that blocked the passage. From the other side of the wall the sound of rumbling starts to grow louder again. The party runs back to the last tee-intersection to get out of the boulders path; Cal runs all the way around the next two corner. Darius moves into the chamber off the tee-intersection and casts a healing spell on himself. Paks and Diz take up defensive positions. The rumbling grows louder as the boulder comes down the passage; it suddenly takes a turn and flows right into the wall. It emerges from the wall, rolls over Caleshorn – killing him, rolls into the next wall and out the other side hitting Paks; Diz managed to dodge out of the way. With the death of Caleshorn, Cassiopeia collapses to the ground. Paks moves into the center of the room and Diz climbs to the ceiling and wedges herself there. Suddenly two large fit-like appendages of stone strike out from the wall at Diz. These aren’t boulders, they’re earth elementals. Another elemental appears in the hall outside the chamber; it waits a moment and then leaves us to his companion. Darius tries to use the power of Moradin to command the elemental, but fails – it’s to strong for him. The creature steps out of the wall to attack Paks. She strikes the creature and knocks a chunk free. Darius casts searing light and blasts the elemental causing cracks to spread throughout its body. The elemental attacks Darius and lands a solid blow; Darius responds with another searing light spell killing the creature.

The party checks on Cal, but there is no hope; his body has been reduced to paste on the passage floor. Without warning, the blood on the floor rises up and takes on the form of Cassiopeia. It stares at us, gives an impish smile, and the blood falls back to the floor formless. The “Cassiopeia” that has been traveling with us – probably some sort of construct – dissipates as the blood falls to the floor. What happened to Caleshorn while he was out there?

The party is only able to recover a ring of force, the longsword Shatterspike, the +1 rapier of Durgeddin make, and Felgar’s spellbook from the equipment Caleshorn carried. Everything else was destroyed.

Paks grabs the torch and the surviving members of the parties quickly retrace their steps to the entrance to the barrow where they find Tully waiting for them. She makes some snide remarks regarding our abilities and the loss of Cal. While she and Paks trade insults, Darius thinks Tully is sizing up the party – trying to decide whether she could take us or not.

Tully suddenly announces, “I am heading for town. You can follow me or not.” And she walks off. After a short debate, during which Tully disappears into the woods, the party decides to follow her. Diz races after her at top speed while Paks and Darius come as fast as they are capable. Diz reaches Tully and asks her to wait for the rest of the party so we can head to town together. Tully turns and attacks Diz. Diz is outraged. She attacks Tully and trips her – knocking her to the ground. She then pummels Tully with a series of frightening effective blows. Tully says, “I surrender” and slowly stands up as she sheathes her sword. Then she melds into the shadows and disappears before Diz can react. Paks and Darius, hearing the sounds of battle have rushed to Diz’s aid, but there is nothing they can do – Tully is gone.

The party continues back to town and returns to the elders’ house where they rest for the night.

Game Note: The Party is awarded 3216 XP. Darius, Dzindra, and Paks advance to 8th level.

The Standing Stone, Day 4 Thirteenth Game Session

Ossington & the Surrounding Lands

The party awakens early in the morning and set out for Dyson’s tower. On their way to the tower the party sees the bard Cuckoo talking to a stranger. The stranger is a human male around six feet tall, but wit the build and proportions of a dwarf; he is wearing robes, but there appears to be mail underneath. A small steel shield is buckled on his arm and a mercurial longsword hangs at his side. He introduces himself as Brillock Stoneweaver – a warrior and wizard. He recently left his home – he was raised by dwarves – and ended up in this village. He agrees to journey with the party and see if their goals coincide.

Diz and Paks ask the Cuckoo whether Tully returned last night; he informs them that she did, but that she and Dyson left early this morning.

The party sets off for the great barrow once again. About a half-hour out of town, the party hears a strange cry – ohbodhigh – behind them and they see a monkey-like creature in a tree. A short time later the party hears the cry – again and again from all around them. Diz moves to investigate and the creatures attack her. Brillock casts a spell – mirror image – and four more “Brillocks” appear. Paks strikes one of the monkey-creatures, but the strike doesn’t seem to have much affect. Darius also strikes one but fails to injure the creature. Brill strikes one with his sword and unleashes a magic missile spell through it killing the creature; as the creature dies, there is a flash of blackness and the creature is suddenly just gone. As the creature dies Paks has a sudden but intense sense of evil. Diz knocks one of the creatures of its feet and stuns it, but her attacks seem to be doing little lasting damage. Paks casts divine sacrifice. One of the monkey-creatures charges Brillock and pass right through one of his images dissipating it. Brillock counters with a lightning bolt that kills two of the creatures. Darius and Diz keep hitting the creatures, but they fail to do any significant damage. Cuts suddenly appear on Paks’ hands as she strikes one of the creatures and the blood sacrifice – the divine sacrifice – powers her strike. Brill kills another with a magic missile. Paks sacrifices again and kills the creature. Darius moves to help Diz and injures one of the creature; Brillock “leaps and bounds” across the field and kills it with his sword. The last creature escapes. Darius believes the monkey-creatures are some type of demon.

The party finally arrives at the barrow; Diz finds Tully’s footprints leading inside. Paks hears in her head, “Hi Paks. You shouldn’t go in there.” Paks says, “Hi Jot. Where have you been?” Diz looks around and tries to spot Jot; amazingly she sees a disturbance that must be the invisible Jot. Diz throws a rock just over the disturbance. Jot again warns Paks not to go inside the barrow and suggests that we make a plan so that we stay out of the “dead book.”

Before entering the barrow the party decides to retrace their previous steps and try their luck with the “crushing wall” trap Caleshorn located last time they were here. Darius casts bull’s strength on himself before entering. Upon entering the tomb the party again hears a male voice chuckling. The party is nearly to the site of the earth elemental ambush when a white-skinned undead appears ahead. Brill strikes it with an arrow and Paks turns it. Darius casts invisibility to undead so that the party can try to avoid any further fights with them.

Without warning, a stone wall slams shut separating the party into two groups – Paks and Darius on one side, Diz and Brillock on the other. An elemental in boulder form appears down the passage from Darius and Paks. Paks moves forward to engage it before it reaches Darius. Suddenly, a second elemental punches out of the wall and strikes Darius. Darius calls upon Moradin and casts dismissal on the elemental and sends it back to its home plane. The other elemental charges and strikes both Paks and then Darius. Paks regains her feet and strikes the creature. Darius casts searing light on the creature, injuring it. Paks takes another swing at it. The creature lands a telling blow on Darius, but Paks lays hands on Darius and heals him. Darius hits the elemental with another searing light and draws his waraxe. Paks, Darius, and the creature trade several blows, before Darius finally lands the killing blow.

On the other side of the wall, a pair of undead attacks Diz and Brill; the undead seem to be guided by some other creature - they are searching for the invisible Diz and Brill. Diz moves past the undead, but Brill is cornered. Suddenly Diz is backstabbed by Tully. Diz pulls herself from Tully’s blade and tries to trip Tully, but is tripped herself. The undead move to attack Diz when Brillock casts a lightning bolt that destroys the two undead and injures both Tully and Diz. After a brief fight, Diz kills Tully. As she dies, her body disappears and her armor and weapons fall to the ground. The armor begins to move and a cat comes running out of it. Brill chases and slays the cat. The party recovers her +1 keen bastard sword and +2 studded leather armor.

The party continues on and reaches the crushing wall trap. Darius casts air walk and “walks” through the trapped area with no ill effect. Paks, Diz, and Brill easily jump across the area. Behind the curving wall the party finds a curving staircase descending into darkness. Diz uses a potion of clairaudience/clairvoyance to view the room at the bottom of the stairs; she sees a large room with a stone sarcophagus. There doesn’t appear to be anyone or anything in the room. The party descends the stairs.

As the last of the party a large ghostly warrior with green eyes fades into view. He wears chain mail armor, a helm, and holds a giant great sword. The warrior says, “Welcome. I am Saithner. What do you desire?” Paks says, “We seek information about the horseman and why the elves are attacking the village.” Saithner asks, “Are you the leader?” Pak responds, “We have no leader – we work together.” Saithner says, “If you seek information then you must be the leader.” When Paks doesn’t answer, Saithner starts to ask the other party members if they are the leader. Before anyone else can finish responding, Paks says, “In this, I am the leader.

Saithner says, “You must defeat me in fair combat to claim the treasures of this tomb.” The party questions him about rules of the duel; he says that the fight is between two warriors – no spells or special powers other than what their weapons possess and that the combat is not to the death. Paks agrees to the fight but asks if we can heal her wounds before they start. Saithner waves his hand and there is a flash of light – all of the party’s wounds are healed. Saithner and Paks battle, but Paks is defeated in the end. When Paks finally falls, Saithner puts up his sword and heals Paks wounds restoring her to consciousness. He says, “You fought bravely. I will not give you this tombs treasures, but I will answer your questions.

The party asks about the horseman and why the elves are attacking the village. He says he knows nothing about any horseman or any village and that the elves around here are peaceful. He is also asked why Tully turned into a cat. Saithner tells us that Tully did not turn into a cat; a cat was turned into a person – Tully. Long ago, a great druid made the standing stones; they are enchanted with a spell that can turn animals into people. The druid used them to raise an army to fight the evil forces of Ashardalong. The party asked who killed him – Saithner - and he responded the Winter Mage. We asked about Gulthias and he replied that Gulthias served Ashardalong. We asked were the elementals came from and he replied that he is an earth spirit.

The party finally shows him “the box”; Saithner looks surprised, shocked, and then outraged. He says, “Where did you get that? We hid it long ago. It is extremely dangerous. How did you find it?” We tell him we recovered it for a woman named Cassiopeia from a rune-covered cave guarded by a dragon in the ruins of Glitterhame. He tells us that the Winter Mage wanted it and that he, Durgeddin the Smith, and Cassiopeia the Angel hid it away. Durgeddin crafted the runes that covered the walls. We ask him what it is. He tells us that the cube is an anchor; it can be used to make or destroy portals. We ask him what we need to do with it. He says that there is nothing that can be done without the runes that sealed it away from the world. We tell him that we have a copy of the runes and show him the recording of the chamber. He says, “There may be a chance then. We must find a smith with the skill to recreate them. He says we must seek the spirit of Durgeddin in the afterworld.” He tells us we may rest safely here, but be warned, dangers still lurk in other parts of the barrow. As he fades away he says, “Seek Durgeddin. Bring his knowledge here and we will seal it away.

Game Note: The Party is awarded 2375 XP.

The Standing Stone, Day 5 Fourteenth Game Session

Ossington & the Surrounding Lands

The party awakens and returns to the entrance of Barrow; it is snowing lightly outside. As the party leaves the Barrow, the Grugach – Wild Elves – attack from the cover of the forest. Brillock runs out of the Barrow and jumps into the lower branches of a tree. Diz runs out into the woods and takes cover behind a tree. Paks and Darius take cover in the entrance and wait for the elves to show themselves. The elves attack again from cover with arrows and two animated trees move towards the party. One of the trees attacks Diz and the other attacks Brill knocking him from the tree. Brill regains his feet and casts blur on himself. Darius and Paks move to attack the closest tree. Three fiendish hawks dive out of the sky to attack the party; two of them attack Paks and Darius and the third attacks Diz. Brill, trying to help his new companions, casts darkness around Paks, Darius, the attacking tree and hawks, and himself to shield them from the elves arrows. Unfortunately, it also shields the tree from Darius and Paks. Brill dispels his darkness spell and casts a lightning bolt at the tree attacking Diz. Darius pursues the other tree and a small green creature with wings – a pixie – casts a spell and reaches out and touches Darius. Darius manages to shake off the spells effects. Darius cleaves the creature in two and attacks the tree. Meanwhile, Brill channels shocking grasp through his sword and nearly cuts the tree attacking Diz in half. Diz strikes the tree a mighty blow slays the tree and then turns around and kills one of the attacking hawks. The other tree strikes Paks and knocks her unconscious. Brill casts magic missile at the tree and slays it. Darius moves to Paks side and heals some of her wounds. Diz engages one of the elven archers – the ranger Zarn; Diz trips him and stuns her. As Diz moves after the other archer and the elven sorcerer a tree - the Treant Gnarlroot – attacks her. The elven sorcerer Thilvara gives Zarn a potion, healing him. Darius casts spiritual weapon and directs the hammer to attack Thilvara. Thilvara becomes invisible and Darius directs the hammer to attack the treant. Brill casts flaming sphere and directs it at the treant. Diz corners Yellis and strikes her three lightening fast blows stunning her and dropping her to the ground unconscious – Diz pulled her strikes so that Yellis wasn’t killed. Brill hits Zarn with two arrows and drops him bleeding to the ground while Paks finishes off the treant. As Paks moves to heal Zarn and Darius moves to heal and disarm Yellis, Thilvara appears and begs us not to slay her companions. Paks tells her that we don’t want to kill them; Paks says that we only wanted to talk but that we had to defend ourselves. Paks then heals Zarn. Paks asks, “Why did you attack us and why have you been attacking the village?

Thilvara tells the party that the humans in town have been trying to exterminate her people. The town sent out a party under a truce flag to talk and ambushed her people. The village has succeeded have succeeded; they are the only three wild elves left from their village. They have been taking their vengeance against the village and they attacked us because they thought we were working for the village. They won’t listen to anything Paks has to say about the ambush the villages say happened to their truce party.

The elves say they are tired of fighting and give the party their items of war. The party acquires a +1 composite longbow, a +1 ring of protection, a +2 suit of studded leather armor, and a mighty (+2) composite longbow.

When Diz asks about the horseman, Thilvara says she knows of it and will lead us to it; she says the horseman is a ghost of a paladin slain by the village. We follow the elves to Red Horse Hill; a small muddy pond is located here and the entire area reeks of death and decay. The horseman suddenly appears standing on the surface of the pond; he sits there and points at a spot near shore. Lying there are the skeletal remains of an individual – judging by his armor he was a Paladin of Pelor. The party buries his remains and Paks a burial prayer for him. As she finishes, the horseman fades away, finally at rest.

The party and the elves return to their camp where the party rests and heals before returning to the town to get some answers.

Game Note: The Party is awarded 1600 XP.

The Standing Stone, Day 6 Fourteenth Game Session

Ossington

The party returns to the town the next morning. It appears deserted. As the party enters the town Dyson appears atop of his tower and speaks to the party, “Thank you for finishing the elves for me.” With that the townsfolk pour from the adjacent building brandishing clubs as they charge the party. Brill casts a lightning bolt and strikes Dyson. Henwen appears on the roof beside Dyson and appears to cast a spell – probably healing him. Darius charges the mob to try and keep them back from the rest of the party so that they can deal with Dyson and his associates but they surge around him and attack the rest of the party. Each time the party slays a villager a small animal appears out of the body and runs off into the words. Dyson casts a spell that summons a howler. Brill casts another lightning bolt at Dyson. Dyson summons another howler as Henwen raises the dead villagers as skeletons. The Cuckoo appears atop of the tower and begins to sing to inspire the villagers. Darius calls upon Moradin and destroys the skeletons. The first howler attacks Darius as Dyson summons a third howler. The second howler attacks Paks and the third charges Brill. Diz tumbles behind the first howler and stuns the creature taking the pressure off of Darius. Dyson casts a fireball and catches Darius, Paks, one of the howlers and several villagers. Brill slays a howler with a shocking grasp spell channeled through his sword and Paks slays the howler she had been fighting. Diz finishes off the howler she and Darius had been fighting and runs off towards Dyson’s tower. Dyson casts another fireball and hits Darius and Paks. Brill and Paks also move off towards the tower. Darius casts sanctuary upon himself and begins to move towards the tower. Diz starts to climb the exterior of the tower and is blocked by a shadow. Dyson casts cone of cold on Paks as she approaches the tower. As Darius reaches the base of the tower, Diz leaps back to the ground with the shadow in pursuit. Darius calls upon Moradin and destroys the creature. Paks reaches the tower base and throws up her rope of climbing and Diz quickly scrambles up the rope. Darius, using his slippers of spider climbing, begins to walk up the outside of the tower. Paks attempts to climb the rope but fails the first time. When Diz reaches the top, she finds only the Cuckoo. Dyson and Henwen are gone. The Cuckoo suddenly shifts shape and resumes his true form – a Vrock, a demon from the lower planes – and unleashes a cloud of spores at Diz. The spores overcome her and she leaps back to the ground so that Paks can aid her. Diz tells Paks that Dyson is no longer on the roof and she takes up a position blocking the tower door. Brill casts spider climb and leaps onto the side of the tower. As Darius nears the top of the tower and Brill approaches the Cuckoo, the demon teleports away. Darius and Brill break through the trapdoor in the roof of the tower; they find the interior a shambles – destroyed by fire – and Dyson and Henwen gone.

Game Note: The Party is awarded 3500 XP. Brillock, Darius, Dzindra, and Paks advance to 9th level.

Between Darius’ spells and the remnants of a few papers the party found in the ruins of Dyson’s tower, the party learns that Dyson was transforming animals into faux humans and building an army. But the real questions remain unanswered. Why was Dyson building an army? Was Dyson working for himself or someone else? Where has Dyson gone?

Darius spends the next few days destroying Dyson’s tower and the standing stones used to create the faux humans with stone to mud and stoneshape spells.

Brillock uses this time to summon a small earth elemental as a familiar.

Jot remained in the area for a day or two more after the Darius smashed the last of the ancient relics and his party left for the north. His reasons for remaining behind were complicated, as is often the case with demons, and did not pertain to the usual human motives scholars later proposed. True, the discovery of the resting place of the great Warlord Saithner was a wellspring of opportunity for a creature devious enough to sell such knowledge to the highest evil bidder, but this was not Jot's intent. True also was Jot's knowledge that the Cuckoo would return to the stamped out and burned ruins of Ossington after his enemies departed, but bargaining with a fellow demon was also not on Jot's agenda. A final possibility.. that Jot might want to take advantage of the weak and poor stragglers crushed in the Ossington incident.. the three surviving Grugach elves.. was also not near the mark. No, the scholars could have no idea what Jot's purpose those two long days was, for they, like the brave adventurers who had passed through this foreboding forest, had long forgotten the one Jot's focus remained upon. The one Jot made furious compact with, all the time an image of a shining paladin occupying his demonic, fevered mind.