The Ruby Rod

Episode 101

The beginning

Through magical or mundane means, the group is called by Cebias Shuun to help with a task most dire. As the cliche goes, the party meets in a tavern, The Lizard’s Boat, an establishment in the town of Portsmoth.

The group that answered the call are,

  • Daelok, gnome illusionist and member of the gnome council
  • Lucif, Eladrin Swordmage and Scribe
  • Tavar, Deva Radiant Servant of Pelor
  • Tempest, human master thief, coming in place of her mother, Zephyr
  • Vorastrix Xarzithixen, dragonborn sorcerer, master of fire and ice

After each member had arrived at the tavern and waited for any other that may come, Cebias sends word to meet at his manor a few hours outside of town. Arriving at the Manor the party finds the decorative tree in the entrance hall had overgrown the entire hall, vines dangling from the ceiling and grass growing over the marble floors. Upon inspecting the tree a darkness fell over the room and the party was attacked. Vine creatures, wooden guardians, strange slimes, and the tree itself attacked the party. Later in the fight it was learned that the base of the tree was an illusion hiding a being of flame casting spells at the party. A decisive blow struck, the flames died out revealing the being to be Cebias in disguise, who revealed that he was testing the party.

Some healing later, and meeting Cebias’ current apprentice, Hawthorn, the group has dinner as Cebias explains the situation. The old mage had been having nightmare visions of a world overrun be devil armies led by a man with a rod of power. Cebias feared that this rod to be the Ruby Rod of Asmodeus. Through divination Cebias could feel out the location of the rod in the material realm where it had shown up weeks prior. The location is in a city built into a volcano to the west. Cebias has had contact with a guide who was the mountain pass between the city and Cebias’ manor, waiting for the pass to thaw out from the winter.

When learning how long it would take for the pass to thaw, Lucif points out that he knows the location of a teleportation circle on the other side of the pass, in the mountains. The party takes a day to prepare, Hawthorn and Cebias brewing some potions and enchanting some items for the trip. Having sent word to her ahead of time, the guide, Kathra Thundervault, is waiting at the circle for the party when they arrive.

Kathra explains that she had been to the volcano site 20 years ealier. A large number of unexplained deaths had occurred during the excavation. It was originally thought that poisonous fumes had killed them, but when the bodies turned up missing, something more sinister was suspected. The project was then abandoned. Kathra’s husband was one of the miners lost. She is leading the group in hopes of finding clues to his death as well hoping to prevent any further deaths.

The party moves west. In a small wooded area, a group of bandits attacks. After Tavar blasts a would be sniper out of a tree, breaking his back and paralyzing him from the waist down, the rest of the bandits quickly surrender, and after clearing the roadblock they had made, flee, leaving behind their injured friend. The group heals the injured bandit, named Caleb, and takes him to the nearest town. On the way Tavar converts him to the faith of Pelor and in town leaves Caleb in care of the church where he would be taught to be a scribe.

The party raises a small ruckus in one of the town’s taverns, but the healing powers of Tavar keep everyone from being seriously injured although there was bit of property damaged, repairs payed for by the party upon leaving. Reuniting with Kathra, who had errands to run in town, updating her guild on their plans and meeting family, the party leaves towards the volcano city.

A week later, the party arrives. The entrance to volcano is dark and quiet. Runes litter the walls, and further in glass tubes filled with flowing lava light the halls. Kathra describes the tubes as being hard as steel, hence their name Glassteel, and demonstrates their strength with a sound hit from her hammer, much to the shock of some of the party. Deeper in the party finds the gateway to the city, text written above the doorway in an old dialect of primordial names the city, roughly translated, as Underfortress. Kathra points out a skull over the bust of the gateway that had not been their before. The skulls begins to speak and assures the party that it has been there long before.

The skull floats out of the wall, trailing behind it a long skeletal tail. It casually warns the party not to enter and flies off into the city. The party ignores this and moves on. Tavar’s mount, Surly the rage drake, becomes a bit anxious due to being underground, so Tavar ties him to a post and leaves him near the entrance to the city. Crossing a large bridge leading over a aquifer the looked to once store lava, the party enters the city proper. Underfortress looks to be a huge cave, the buildings carved from giant stalactites and stalagmites, bridges leading from the tops of the lower buildings to the stalactite buildings hanging from the cavern ceiling.

All is quiet through the town. The glassteel tubes meant to illuminate the city are empty, leaving the city a pitch black. Lucif sends his book imp familiar, Oryeth, to scout the streets ahead using its invisibility. Several city blocks in, Oryeth reports that he has found something odd. The party finds a trio of people tied together and hung up from a tall statue. The persons have dull blue skin and full face covering helmets with no eye or mouth slits. Cutting the down, the party quickly realizes that these are some kind of undead, and leaves them tied up, but wishing to investigate further, they attempt to remove one of their helmets which is locked shut.

During this investigation movement is seen, claw reaches out of the ground and cuts the ropes binding the zombies together. A large wraith floats out of the ground and a fight ensues. During the battle the party learns that these zombies can only be killed by certain means, cuts and crushing blows only temporarily stunning them, Tavar’s radiant powers however make short work of them. Howls are heard throughout the cavern, the city has awoken, and after slaying a number of wraiths and zombies, the party is forced to flee.

The chase leads them through the city, over walls, through alleys, into tunnels below the city where they leave a magical zone behind in a bottle neck, cutting the hoard off, killing any that is able to enter. Avoiding some roaming zombies in the tunnel, the party finds a staircase and ascends. Several storeis up at the top, they find hemselves high above the city. Looking down on the city, hoards of zombies roam the streets, wraiths patrolling back and forth. Upon inspection of their location, Kathra believes she can lead the zombies away and escape while the party delves further in. The party is not so sure of this and convinces her to not risk her life on the errand. Exploring the building they are in, the party hears zombies coming up the staircase behind him and pushes on. They find a bridge leading from the side of the building into the cavern wall. They lower the portcullis behind them and begin to move across the bridge when they see a glowing ahead and hear the clopping of hooves. The zombie hoard falls silent.

From the other side of the bridge two riders approach, a mummy and an armored minotaur, both mounted on a pair of nightmares. The Pharaoh impores the party to leave the city, explaining that he and his companion will escort them out protecting them from the zombie hoard. The party still exhausted from the chase asks for a moment to discuss, the pharaoh agrees but summons a pair of wraiths to drain the party’s life force, preventing them from having a moment’s respite. The party launches on the offensive, and battle ensues 5 stories above the city streets, the silent zombies gazing skyward waiting for any prey to fall.

One wraith is vanquished, the other transfixed on an illusion. One nightmare is slain while the other is put to sleep. The pharoah thrown from the bridge after his worst fears are implanted into his mind, ripped apart by the hoard below, leaving the minotaur as the last enemy combatant. The minotaur launches a salvo of force blasts, resisted by the party but knocking Kathra into the zombie hoard. Blinded by an attack, the minotaur attempts to tackle one of the party off the bridge but misses, sending himself into the hoard.

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