Black Goat Campaign 15

After leaving Lady Wind the heroes traveled North towards the Burnt Glade where the final portal lay. Vale and Brona were home in Syla Thalor, but the wood elves felt uneasy. Something was not right in these northern woods, there was an undeniable foreign presence here. They proceeded carefully avoiding the many goblin patrols and outposts.

The Burnt Glade, was a massive swath of the Great Wood that lay in ash. A cleansing fire had cleared this portion of Syla Thalor long ago and magic had kept the glade from regrowing. A lone, steep hill dominated the center of the great glade. Massive burnt trees and tall broken stones littered its summit. A few small fires cast an eerie glow atop the hill. In the night sky strange storm clouds gathered over the glade, swirling like a vortex.

Brona held her cleansed darkwood acorn in her hand, it would need to be placed within the dark pool that no doubt lay among the trees and stones at the summit of the hill. The wood elf druid then morphed into one of her favorite forms, a dire hyena and plunged headlong towards the hill.

Brona was first to reach the summit and see the dark pool of the Black Goat. The inky surface of the pool moved as if it were sentient and seemed far more thick than any liquid. Determined the great hyena let out a growl and headed straight for the pool. The pool’s defenses came swift and violently as bugbear guardians leaped from the trees to intersect Brona. With a groan, like a beast of burdened spurred into motion the trees were revealed to be Scions of the Black Goat, an embodiment her corruption.

The battle was fierce, spells and blades struck against the defenders of the well again and again. Goblin mutants from nearby camps soon reinforced the hill. Zetvosk held the line, his plate armour deflecting blow, after blow. Brona jaws tore flesh and shattered bones, while Vale’s arrows stuck with the force of a hammer against an anvil. Clarion’s blade was silent and murderous as he moved through the edges of the battle almost entirely unnoticed. Bjorndar was an agent of Ulaa incarnate, his goddesses granting him prayer, after prayer. Finally, Wyleros conjured a conflagration upon the hill that made it feel like the gates of hell.

During the great battle Brona would fall for a moment, struck by one of the scions. As Bjorndar tended the druids wounds, Clarion took the acorn and attempted to plunge it into the pool. His hand with the acorn did not break the surface of the inky pool though, it was tough and rubbery. The pool then fought back, restraining the tiefling rogue in its rubbery tendrils against a nearby stone.

Few goblinoids remained, the last of the scions had crumbled beneath the tidal wave of attacks the heroes had unleashed. The pool began to twist and rise, it’s dark surface began to open and birth The Black Goat’s avatar and her three zealots onto the battlefield. Had the heroes spent everything they had? Or would they have enough strength left to finish this?

Black Goat Campaign 14

A day passed before Lady Wind’s cloud tower loomed in the sky above Pt Malkin. The party ascended to her tower, thanks to her griffons and presented the now cleansed darkwood acorn. After a brief negotiation with Lady Wind she agreed to fly them as far north as she could safely. She warned that the Red Queen would know if her cloud tower breached Khrullion’s borders.

Time past swiftly as Lady Wind’s cloud home flew northward. It was not long before the southern border of Khrullion was close by. The party was concerned that Darkwood Abbey would not hold long enough for them to reach the Black Goat’s pool in the north. Lady Wind offered the use of a scrying mirror to reach out to their allies at the Abbey.

The mirror revealed Brother Jacob and the cleric Faye standing on a battlement, surrounded by smoke, blood and the cries of battle. Jacob explained that the Black Goat’s forces had decimated their defenses. They would only be able to hold the hilltop for another day, maybe two. It was then that Faye spoke with an unearthly voice. If the goblins successfully assault the summit of the Abbey’s defenses she will be forced to destroy everything. Before anymore of the party’s questions could be answered the mirror clouded with darkness. A cruel voice echoed into the giantess’s tower. “Turn back Lady Wind you have been warned to stay away from Khrullion. I have come to an agreement with the Goat and her goblins, they will have the Abbey.” The Red Queen spoke through the scrying mirror and she traded insults with the cloud giant. Lady Wind finally deactivated the scrying mirror. With a look of defiance on her face she told the party: “I will fly you to the northern pool and to hell with the Red Queen and her borders.”

The cloud tower soon looked down on the ruined citadel of Wyvernmoor as it crossed the border on its way north. The party soon spotted black wings on the horizon… demons approached. Lady Wind dispatched her griffons to intercept and soon a great battle among the clouds took place. A swarm of vrocks, escorted by dark wizards atop wyverns and lead by a ferocious marilith attacked the cloud tower and its passengers. Lightning and fire ripped the sky asunder and lit the night sky as if it were day.

The heroes of the Abbey emerged victorious, but Lady Wind’s tower had suffered. During he battle a number of the tower’s air elementals had been slain and Lady Wind would need to land to re-summon and bind new ones. The tower came to rest on the northern portion of Syla Thalor the Great Forest. Winter winds had brought a light snow to Syla Thalor and the air was cold. The party was less than a day from the Black Goat’s pool. They thanked Lady Wind and began the final leg of their quest.

Black Goat Campaign 13

Aboard the Succubus they reached Khateefi Reef quickly. Using water breathing spells the heroes descend into the depths in search of Sahuagin. The sea devils were known to lair in the many sea caves found among the living reef. After some searching they discovered a likely cave and swam into its shadows. Within they fought victims of the sahuagin, now undead thralls. They would reach a deep sea grotto and fight a sea devil matron and her brood of warriors and sharks. However, they were no match for our heroes and they were soon questioning the matron through the use of a tongues spell.

The sahuagin leader told them of the Galathea Trench, named for the marid (genie) that dwelt in its depths. She is the keeper of the elemental node the heroes were looking for. The matron of the sea devils surrendered her magic conch shell of teleportation and the party returned to the Succubus. Knowing that marids are vain creatures, the heroes brainstormed for gifts they could bring her. Lord Rayan’s bard, Aleya volunteered to join the party and composed a beautiful song to serenade the marid.

The Starfall Islands, Map by DMjeremy

Blowing into the conch the heroes were teleported to the depths of the Galathea trench where an ancient temple laid silent in the dark waters. The temple appeared to venerate a long forgot kraken. Within the ruined temple they found Galathea and negotiated for access to her node. Aleya performed her song perfectly, perhaps to well in fact. Galathea took the bard as her gift (slave) and offered access to the node if the heroes could capture a young dragon turtle named Riptide for her. They protested the abduction of Aleya, but were too intimidated by the marid and her water elemental allies to fight for her. They agreed to capture Riptide and departed.

The young dragon turtle’s lair was in a tidal cave on Moonshade Island. They had been given an enchanted bit and bridle to capture the beast with. The heroes tried to negotiate with Riptide, attempting to persuade the beast to come peacefully. The dragon’s hatred of Galathea ran deep though. The marid had enslaved his sister as a mount and he would not come peacefully. A battle ensued and the dragon turtle was pacified, then harnessed with the enchanted yoke.

Using the conch they returned to Galathea with an unconscious Riptide. Galathea allowed Brona to cleanse the darkwood acorn in the frigid waters of the elemental node. The heroes departed hesitantly, unsure of Aleya’s fate. Once clear of Galathea’s lair they rested in Pt Malkin and called upon the token that would summon the cloud giantess Lady Wind. Time was running out for Darkwood Abbey, they hoped the cloud giant’s flying tower would hasten their return.

Black Goat Campaign 12

The heroes rode straight through days and nights, until they reached the city of Riverwatch. They wasted little time and began searching for a captain with a fast ship. They would eventually come to find Captain Calypso and her ship the Succubus. Before departing for the Starfall Isles Wyleros had a clandestine meeting with a mysterious figure known as the Alabaster Assassin before rejoining his friends.

The Succubus grabbed the wind and it was not long before they sailed clear of Riverwatch and out into the Khrullion Sea. The ship cut across the surface of the water like a blade and Captain Calypso knew how to get every bit of wind. They would no doubt arrive in Port Cog and the Starfall Isles in less than a week.

The heroes woke one evening to find the Captain arguing with a trio of scrags, they must have climbed aboard the Succubus. They were arguing in an unknown language over a small trunk on the deck. It lay open and the scrags seemed to be unhappy with the contents. The scrags would eventually depart with the trunk. The heroes discovered that Captain Calypso had made a dark pact with something beneath beneath the sea, the scrags were agents of that entity. The contents of the trunk were disturbing to say the least and the character of Captain Calypso was called into question.

The Succubus would reach Port Cog on schedule. They had crossed the Khrullion Sea quicker than any other ship could have. The heroes were anxious to part ways with Calypso, but first they felt they needed to search about below deck. They discovered a smuggler’s hold and two passengers, a bard named Aleya and her companion, a sick man wrapped in linens. They would soon come to learn that the man was Rayan Wyvernmoor (a lord wanted by the Red Queen). Calypso had agreed to get Rayan out of Khrullion and then onto the shores of Gaelengard.

The heroes left Rayan, Calypso and Aleya in the docks of Pt Cog. The large town was widely regarded as a strange layover Port. The gnomes who lived there had a talent for invention and illusions. Taryelle had told them the water node was somewhere in the Starfall Isles, but its exact location was unknown. The heroes searched for a well known cartographer named Dezoris, who they hoped would know the location of the elemental node.

Upon reaching the gnome’s home they discovered his workshop was being held hostage by a number of clockwork automatons he had built. The heroes outsmarted the dimwitted clockworks and managed to liberate Dezoris’ collection of maps. Unfortunately, none of the maps marked an elemental node.

The gnomish cartographer directed the heroes to Khateefi Reef. Dezoris knew the reef was home to the Sea Devils (aka Sahuagin). Chances are if there was an elemental node in the isles, they’d know where it was. The heroes found themselves in need of a ship again. They reluctantly returned to the Succubus and Captain Calypso. Lord Rayan was interested in their quest and he agreed to delay his trip if the heroes would assist him in the future.

Black Goat Campaign 11

The council gathered at Darkwood Abbey. It consisted of representatives from the kingdom of Khrullion and from the wood elves of Syla Thalor. Brother Jacob, Sister Faye and Councillor Ashlyn sat across from High Druid Taryelle and the Guardian of the South, Ry’ll. This council was a rare example of men and elves working together. The heroes were also present to listen and lend support.

What came from the council’s discussion was grim. The Guardian of the East had been slain and most of the Eastern wood had been lost to the goblins. The Goat had gained control of the second Pool which resided in a place called the Burnt Glade. The only Pool that remained outside of her control was the one beneath Darkwood Abbey. Things seemed very grim indeed.

Previously (in ages past), the elves had broken the power of the Burnt Glade Pool by planting a Darkwood tree in it’s base. When the goblins re-activated the Pool they would have destroyed it. Taryelle proposed that a Darkwood acorn be delivered to the Pool and planted there to ensure that it stay dormant. A Darkwood tree could not grow in the caves beneath the Abbey, nor could it grow in the caves that the first Pool was found in. It had to be the Burnt Glade Pool.

However, the only acorn Taryelle knew of was in Brona’s possession. Brona warned that her acorn was corrupt. Taryelle smiled and told the council: “All Darkwood acorns are corrupt. The elves have always cleansed their acorns at an elemental water node in the North of Syla Thalor. However, the ancient green dragon known as Corpsegrinder took control of that node many years ago.

The council began to whisper about the impossibility of facing off against the ancient wyrm. Taryelle interrupted: “There is another water node, somewhere in the Starfall Isles. It belongs to a marid, but perhaps she can be reasoned with.” It was soon decided that the heroes would travel south and try to barter with the marid, for the privilege to use her node. They were urged to make haste. The goblins would soon mass for a final assault against the Abbey. It would not take long for this attack to overwhelm the Abbey’s weakened defenses.

The heroes were quick to prepare. That night they rode the fastest horses they could find for the city of Riverwatch. There they would hope to find a captain with ship that could ferry them to the Starfall Islands.

Black Goat Campaign 10

Following the loss of the library and the majority of the Abbey’s clerics, Brother Jacob urged the heroes to return to the caves and confirm that one of the Black Goat’s dark pools actually lay hidden there. “The death of my brothers and sisters must have purpose.” The heroes obliged the wounded Brother and returned to the deep vaults and caverns. The Waywatcher Spear (wielded by the ranger Vale) opened the final gate and the heroes descended into the deepest reaches of the hill.

They came upon a massive cavern, filled with corpses of humans, elves and barbarians. The bodies should have decayed away long ago, but the cavern was damp and the bodies looked fresh. The dead rose and dozens upon dozens of zombies began to encircle the party. The cleric Bjorndar was in his element beneath the hill and called upon Ulaa the Earthmother. His divine wrath devastated the ranks of walking corpses that were surrounding them. The heroes made short work of the rest.

They took a moment to rest following this encounter with the undead. They were joined by Dao-Khan and a dozen Black Sun mercenaries from the surface. The demon lieutenant informed the heroes he was here to confirm the Queen’s suspicions and concerns. He also made it clear that the Queen no longer had faith or favour in the heroes. A fact that mattered little to the heroes themselves.

Beyond the cavern of the dead, the heroes and Dao-Khan’s force came upon a maze like set of tunnels and caverns. They spread out to cover as much ground as possible, but soon found themselves divided and isolated in small groups. They were not alone something moved about this maze with them. Dao-Khan’s mercenaries could be heard screaming and then being cut-off short. Clarion was the first to find one of their bodies. The man was dead, his brain removed from the skull through a massive opening.

The horror struck heroes eventually regrouped with Dao-Khan and discovered a chamber beyond the maze. Within lay a great pool surrounded by dilapidated pillars, strange markings, maybe of an eldritch language were scattered over most surfaces. They had found the Black Goat’s pool, but it was not unguarded. An olive coloured aberration assaulted the heroes with strange magics and upon its back carried in orange pustules were the brains of Dao-Khan’s men.

d9e9d978a4228a8caefe11dd34d04fe5

Together with Dao-Khan, they defeated the terrifying creature. Following the battle a vision of St. Cuthbert came to the heroes and they were each granted a boon for defeating the evil beneath his Abbey. The vision also said that a new guardian would need to be chosen and that this should be done immediately. The heroes returned to the surface with Dao-Khan who seemed less critical of them. They told Brother Jacob what had been found and began planning their next step.

Black Goat Campaign 09

The heroes breached the burning library and spilled out into the courtyard under a smoke filled sky. Darkwood Abbey’s library was entirely engulfed in flames, as was its small chapel. The great keep showed signs of smaller fires, but nothing like the inferno that was devouring the library. Looking for others to help fight the fire they saw the horrific display of dead guardsman draped over the towers and battlements. It was as if they were standing in bowels of hell, surrounded by the dead and flames.

The great doors of the abbey swung open belching more smoke into the courtyard. The great shape of a giant woman emerged, back lit by the interior flames of the keep. She loomed to a height of ten feet as she descended the abbey’s steps. Her skin was as grey as ash and wrinkled with age. Her black matted hair hung wildly over her disfigured face. Her black claws were long curved blades that gripped the viscera of a victim in one palm and dragged Brother Jacob by the head in her other.

The great hag tossed the limp, wounded body of Jacob to the feet of the heroes. She grinned a sinister smile, revealing shark like teeth and beneath her tangled hair they could see familiar grey-blue eyes…

Castle_Estas_Seguro

Following their opening/destruction of the seals, the heroes explored the caverns beneath the Abbey. Within these caves they would encounter many things. They confronted half-starved fomorians, who had remained alive these many years eating fungus and cannibalizing their own kind. They found a cache of strange alchemical ingredients preserved through arcane means. They would discover the ancient remains of an elven guardian and his Waywatcher Spear (Elf Relic). They found a great door sealed shut with a strange lock, a lock that they suspected could be opened by the spear they had found.

But, it was the old elven woman that concerns us now. She told them a tale, of a great battle between the elves and the forces of Shub-niggurath. The battle took place here beneath the Abbey, a place known to her as High Hill. In order to contain the evil, the elves and their allies sealed the caves in haste, trapping many of their own within. Taking pity on the old elf, they led her out of the caves to the Abbey and continued their exploration.

When they at last returned to the Abbey to rest, they found it ablaze! The great hag tossed the limp body of Jacob at the feet of the heroes. She grinned a sinister smile, revealing shark like teeth and beneath her tangled hair they could see the old elf’s familiar grey-blue eyes.

The heroes had made a tragic error… the hag with the assistance of a demon (that had also been released from the caves) had slain the night guards, set fire to the great library and had then begun to murder the Abbey’s clergy in their sleep. The heroes would make their stand in the burning courtyard of Darkwood Abbey. They would slay the deceitful hag and drive off it’s demon ally, but at a terrible cost. Many lives were lost to the infernal duo,  including Captain Artur and Archdeacon Torel.

Black Goat Campaign 08

Brother Jacob returned to the heroes after an exhaustive use of the Abbey’s resources. His findings supported their assumptions, the vaults beneath the Abbey most likely contained the second pool of The Black Goat. Meeting with the heroes to discuss his findings, Jacob stressed a certain level of trust needs to be reached in their relationship. He went on to explain that in order to confirm the pool is hidden beneath the Abbey there are a number of protective seals that need to be unlocked/broken. “You will be entering a place that has been locked away for hundreds of years. It was sealed for a reason… we need to keep whatever is in there… down there, but I too feel we need to know if the pool is there and if it is active.

The Seals of High Hill

Here upon the High Hill we bind the darkness behind three seals.
Only the devout wear the symbols of religion. A reverent follower of the cudgel may use the key of the faithful to open the first seal.
Radiant flame cleanses absolutely. Only conflagration of the second seal’s guardians will produce a sacred ember to light the way.
Two must stand for an ancient alliance of race. Bless the torchbearers, so they might create a marriage of light to pass the final seal.

The above is all the information that Brother Jacob could find to unlock the vault’s three seals. The heroes interpreted the first seal to need a cleric of St Cuthbert (the cudgel). Jacob again urged the heroes to tread carefully, but he cautiously agreed to help them.

They passed through the Abbey’s catacombs to a great stone door marked with protective glyphs. Here Jacob knelt and began to channel the divine power of St Cuthbert. He finally placed his hand upon the door and its glyphed surface glowed with a clean white light. The great door opened and the heroes descended into the darkest places beneath the Abbey.

The second seal would come in the form of two fire elemental guardians. The heroes defeated the burning warriors only to see their flames flicker and spark them back to life. The guardians were finally overcome with radiant attacks of divine light. Leaving only an ember of white flame on the floor.

The heroes took ceremonial torches from the walls and lit them with the sacred ember. In an adjacent chamber they found an ornate hammer resting between two statues, one an elf, the other a human. The torchbearers, Zetvosk (human) and Brona (elf), placed the torches into the empty hands of the statues which resulted in the hammer being charged with arcane power.

Exploring beyond the chambers and into the ancient caves they discovered a wall of force blocking their progress. Bjorndar stepped forward with the charged hammer and struck a mighty blow against the magical wall. In a thunderous boom the wall shattered, the hill shook as if it were about to collapse. The darkness in the ancient cave stirred and like a swarm of insects it flew past the heroes. They felt cold and as the dark wave flew past they heard distant cries and screams. The twisting darkness then made its way up towards Darkwood Abbey and the surface! The heroes stood silent exchanging glances of guilt… what did they unleash?

Black Goat Campaign 07

Black Goat of the Woods, Part Seven

Our heroes return to the barbarian barrows and further explore the King’s Barrow. They found evidence to support the idea that the ancient barbarian tribes of Khrullion worshiped the Black Goat of the Woods (Shub-Niggurath). There would be no denying this when they faced off with the Barrow’s lord, an undead creature that had been loyal and devout to the Black Goat in life. This undead lord now radiated agony and death.

Wyleros deceived the Barrowlord long enough to learn that the Black Goat would require its three sacred pools to become active before it could again stalk the Great Wood. They also learned that “the roots” prevent her from returning and acted as a barrier. Unfortunately, the deception was short lived and the cries of battle overtook the conversation.

Following their confrontation with the Barrowlord, they discovered a broken crypt. The lid was covered in Elven glyphs and strange markings. After careful examination the heroes surmised that it was a map of the Great Wood. There were a number of glyphs that stood out among the rest. Roughly translated they read; the buried river, high hill and the burnt vale. Could this be the locations of the three sacred pools?

Their examination of the crypt’s lid was cut short when the sounds of goblins could be heard within the King’s Barrow. Using a secret passage the heroes escaped the barrow taking the crypt lid with them. Hidden outside the barrow, Vale would witness the arrival of the Goat (Shub-Niggurath’s avatar) a top an azure skinned wyvern. She was furious when her goblins exited the barrow empty handed and ordered them to find the lid. The heroes silently withdrew and retreated to Darkwood Abbey.

The Riverman Inn and tavern was a welcomed sight, inside they relaxed with good food and good drink. They shared their bounty from the barrow with the townsfolk who appreciated their generosity. The heroes had put a number of plans in motion since their return to the abbey and now they needed to let their schemes ride.

First, Clarion (an expert forger) created a masterful duplicate of the lid’s markings. Then the duplicate was dispatched to her Highness immediately. He was sure to alter the glyphs and lines enough that the copy would be worthless to the Queen. Whether or not she will find this to be an acceptable payment for helping the heroes previously is unknown.

Second, they gave Brother Jacob of the Abbey a few of the pieces of the broken lid. Unsure of who can be trusted they kept the majority of the lid hidden. They hoped the skilled librarian would be able to find out more information about its meaning. However, they again used subterfuge, telling him that there were no other parts recovered and that they would appreciate him not sharing his findings with the Arch Deacon. He hesitantly agreed and went to work, using the abbey’s library to guide him.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑