The party return to Red Larch from their small rest from the fights at Rivergard Keep the day prior.
There they find the Constable and his three guards very busy with the elite of the city. In the morning, Terken and Cyril leaves the Swinging Sword Inn to visit the Alfaiths’ Shrine, to see if a cleric might be able to address Terken’s untreatable wound. Sure enough, the cleric of Tempus Imdarr Relvaunder identifies the wound as a mark of lycanthropy, but successfully is able to lift the curse before the next full moon ( 7 Flamerule).
From there, the two set off for Vallivoe’s Sundries, to get the latest news. Endrith reminds the two about the missing dwarven books, and their possible location in Womford, south of Red Larch. The two also ask about Marlos Urnrayle, a mysterious figure with cobra hair that Cyril saw in a dream. Unable to help, Endrith sold 150g worth of ink to Terken, and the two party members left.
Shortly after this, Demic approached Endrith, working his charm, logic, and his wallet to coax Endrith to investigate the “Master of Maelstroms, Foul Air, and The Eye”, to which Endrith – obviously feeling dirty for accepting – takes Demic up on his mission.
After a bit more planning, the group decides that it would be best to split into two small parties, and leave for Womford and the Sacred Stone Monastery separate, to gain a head start in scouting out the monks while Terken and Cyril would hunt down the rest of these books for Endrith Vallivoe.
24 Kythorn – Day 12
Cyril and Terken set out on the Cairn Road to the south, knocking a day off of their 2.5 day travel.
Demic and Kaelith stay in town. They are met with a pair of hellhound inside the Helm at Highsun, who terrorize the patrons, and citizens, while also setting alight the tavern. Kaelith and Demic seem the quarry of these hounds, who stalk up to them with the burning coals of hunger and hate in their eyes.
A perilous fight ensues, with more retreat that fight in the adventurers minds. As the fight consumes the tavern, the citizen guards arrive. Two of Constable Harburks guards are immediately incinerated, while the Constable himself leaves more than a few good blows upon the hounds. From afar, wounded and nearing defeat, Demic and Kaelith pelt spells and arrows at the hounds, who each eventually fall. The two obtain two glowing iron collars, each with a strange symbol emblazoned on them.
Kaelith picks up his now slivered shortsword from Feng Ironhead, and the two rest the day away, as the city mourns the half a dozen citizens slain in the tavern, as well as the last tavern within the city.
The two begin to set out for the Sacred Stone Monastery.
25 Kythorn – Day 13
Terken and Cyril, only miles from Womford, encounter a group of orcs slaying passing traders. Together, the wizard and artificer successfully eliminate this threat, collect their due rewards, and enter into the even-smaller-than-Red-Larch village of Womford. There, they approach a group of three ne’er-do-wells on the docks, who at the sight of a TON of gold (for these kids), they give up information of Shoalar Quanderil, a water gensai who captains the Rivermaiden and is responsible for the selling of the books. Terken and Cyril purchase one book off the teens, and learn the last three are with Shoalar as well as the description of Shoalar’s boat, which the two recall was docked in Rivergard Keep.
The two leave for the Bargewright Inn, to rest the day. The two-walled city of Bargewright Inn is very seedy, without a doubt that illicit deals are made here. Although the old, and almost keep-like Inn is very comfortable, and somewhat reasonable to stay at.
Demic and Kaelith encounter the Knights of Samular, who greet the two. They inform the pair that they are headed to Summit Hall (their base of operations), and would accompany the two on their journey. Along the way, Demic learns of the Knights’ past, having fought in the Second Troll War with their leader Samular Caradoon, and Sam’s brother Renwick Caradoon. The knights’ won the war, but Renwick fell in the battle. Samular fed his arcanist brother a potion of lichdom, however, saving his essence forevermore. Samular is long dead, but Renwick the Lich still lurks in the Sumber Hills, rumored to have holed up in the Sacred Stone Monastery.
The two camp out, protected by the Knights.
26 Kythorn – Day 14
The group once again meets together at the base of the large sandstone cliffs that mark the outer territory of the Sacred Stone Monastery. The Knights continue of the journey, as the party decides to delve into the cliffs.
Entering inside, they are met with the scent of scorched earth, and the same symbol carved into the sandstone walls that was on the hell hound collars.
Deciding to quickly look around the monastery, the party finds inside a group of beaten and burned monks, training roughly with a female monk of genuine skill. The Cult of Black Earth symbol clearly marked upon the wall inside.
Leaving Kaelith behind to spy, the three other go to the front door. Where they are met with the brass-gilded mask of a gargoyle, worn by a human monk. Asking that the party leave the monks to their meditation, Demic begins to weave an argument about potentially having useful information. The door closes, and eventually reopens, this time the party producing one of the hell hound collars. This new monk seems to deem this interesting enough, and leads the party into the monastery, past the basalt great hall, through a hallway, through a sandy courtyard with gargoyle statues, and into the main temple, where the group met Qarbo, the seeming in-charge member of this place.
Qarbo begins with accepting the story about the Fire Cult, and the hell hounds, but then launches into a minor interrogation, asking the party what they would do in various scenarios, what their greatest weakness was, and other open-ended questions. Qarbo quickly shut down anyone who did not give a succinct answer, or who used too much abstract or flowery language. He did seem taken with Terken, who took a good amount of time to thoughtfully reflect, “thinking as We do… slowly, surely… like the rocks we aspire to emulate.”
Demic, however, seemed to grate at Qarbo, however, insulting him on no less that two occasions, working on a third. Qarbo quickly seemed to make a decision, and stood up, asking the party to lead the way down the 40 foot staircase to the north.
The party, extremely suspicious and cautious, decided to do as was asked.
A click was heard, as the group was partway down the stairs.
The party fell into a dark, sandy hole.
As the group got their vision, they saw the beast behind the bars, not more than 30 feet away.
Another click, and the iron doubledoor seperating the monster and the party began to glide slowly open.
Thinking quick, Terken blasted the mechanisms of the door, preventing it from moving. The rest of the party began trying to hit the monster with ranged attacks, but found that cutting through the hide of the monster was nearly impossible.
Eventually, the party fled past an easily unlock iron door, and from there pelted the monster until it died.
From here, many underground paths were found. Two leading into what appeared to be mines, one that seemed to descend down to yet another subterranean level, and a staircase that led back up to the monastery level.
This ascending staircase was in a large, empty tomb/temple. Here, a tomb in the far end held the inscription dedicating it to Samular Caradoon. The party looted what they could, Terken taking the skeletal remains of one of the burial commitals, and the party began to ascend the stairs.
Just as a tall figure, in an old robe, skeletal in apperance, began to descend the very same stairs.
There was no denying – this creature was a Lich – and it had noticed the party.
It did not attack, but rather seemed curious about their presence in what was to be his brother’s Tomb.
Asking about the Knight of Samular, the Lich seemed to think over an idea. Eventually, it decided to lead the group upstairs to what seemed to be its study. Here, Renwick Caradoon handed out a few trinkets of power to the group, and informed that they were permitted to make noise if it meant removing the unwelcome tennants of the Monastery.
He also looked over the party, some spell augmenting his vision. His sight lingered on Demic, and Terken was able to decipher the Lich’s notes, as well as his statement: " Not all of you are cultists, and even then enemies of those who are here".
From here, the party got cold feet, no longer willing to fight through the Monastery, under the (likely) assumption that the monks would be alert and ready for a fight if the adventurers return from down below. They left the monastery, and began to set back out for Rivergard Keep.
Arriving late, Kaelith was sent invisible to inflitrate The Rivermaiden, which seemed to be in the process of packing up to leave. Eventually, Kaelith made it to the cargo hold inside the ship, and was met with the blue hair and blue skin sight of what could only be Shoalar. Ultimately, Kaelith went in for the killing blow, but found that Shoalar was more hearty than expected. He vanished in a cloud of mist, as Kaelith grabbed the bag of books and booked it out of there. The Keep, already on high alert, began raining down bolts at Kaelith, as he sank to the bottom of the river.
Here Kaelith was not safe, as the ship captain seemed at home in the water, and began pelting the skeleton with bolt after bolt of magic missile. As the party dragged Kaelith from the water, Shoalar left the group with one last angry Tidal Wave, bludgeoning the whole group, and knocking Kaelith out cold.
Wet, cold, and now dragging Kaelith and the soggy books, the party set back out for Red Larch.