||2020-10-03 11:48:15 - Update
Episode #28: Liberation of a Lost Land
The Ministry of the Blade Campaign
NPCs mentioned in this Episode:
The mysterious Shadow-Mage returned to invade the heroes' lives. He brought to light the existence of another "gifted one" of Parthen the Protector, Crysus, trapped in the Hornwood of Geoff. The situation in the "Lost Land" of Geoff was becoming desperate, and Tanamier felt a responsibility to his young counterpart. The Scourge decided to journey to Geoff, and picked up Elric Sith along the way. In addition, a half-orc warrior named J'afrock joined the group to serve Tempus.
The journey was not without its dangers; the heroes were attacked by a company of orcs and two leaders riding wyverns. They seemed to be searching for something the heroes had; unbeknownst to them, they were searching for the Ebony Skull that was in Elric's possession.
However, the heroes reached Geoff without further incident, though they did meet a strange old man on horseback who was almost dripping with magical items. While he left them with several cryptic comments, no battle ensued. Putting this incident out of their minds, the Scourge traveled to the Hornwood to meet the resistors there, of which Crysus was one of them.
The story behind the invasion of Geoff was explained to them: Several mysterious beings known only as the "Lords of Doom" had caused a massive invasion of giants and humanoids into Geoff and Sterich, and forced the natives to escape to neighboring countries or flee to the woods as these resistors had done. While conquest was undoubtedly one of their goals, the heroes soon discovered that several Necromancers of Skahlehn were also Lords of Doom, and were searching for the nefarious Trumpet of Doom, long lost here after the defeat of Baalshezidek, most powerful of the Ur-Flannae next to Vecna and Acererak, to the combined forces of Good and the use of Mielec's White Banner.
Several adventures ensued, including the slaying of two green dragons, and the infamous expedition to the dwarven citadel Utholok, which means "resilient". It had been taken over by the Lords of Doom and their fiendish servants because the ancient dwarven sages had supposedly kept meticulous records of the Battle of Leafhome, where Baalshezidek had been defeated. The Lords of Doom hoped to find these records and use them to determine the location of the Trumpet of Doom. By this time, Griften had again departed, hoping to find Xenoria again, though a new adventurer had joined the Scourge: Cyndr of the Summer Stars; Gifted One of Kralana the Merciless, Lady of the Sun and Vanquisher of Undead. Another attempt was made to retrieve the Ebony Skull from Elric, this time by an evil priest named Marynnek, the vampire-mage Maskaleyne, and their servants. A very close battle saw the villains winning until the Scourge summoned Callimar the astral deva as reinforcements. The villains quickly retreated after that, with Marynnek comatose after being defeated by Elric's Weird magic from his Book of Infinite Spells. The heroes then caught up with the Lords of Doom, including Mistress Pantryche and Nymthalas Kaiyne and battled them within the citadel, though they escaped with the information. However, the Scourge uncovered other documents that would also eventually lead them to the location of the Trumpet of Doom: The Cursed Caverns of Sorrow.
Unfortunately, the Scourge only had a name, and not the exact location of these caverns. Consulting the Council of Five, the leaders of Geoffite resistance, they journeyed to the dread Barrier Peaks, to consult an ancient sage known only as Gwendolyn. They discovered Gwendolyn's lair and penetrated within, to find themselves confronted by a variety of illusions, riddles, and traps. Elric foolishly grabbed at a magical tome and found himself "victim" of an epiphany sent by Sarakin, God of Magic and Mysteries. Other tragedies also manifested: J'afrock unknowingly donned a helm of opposite alignment, and Tempus' continued use of Garyne's Bloodsickle of Skahlehn was bringing about odd changes within the priest.
Despite these setbacks, the Scourge defeated all challenges sent to them by the Gwendolyn and her gnome ally Raynald Shortfellow. Gwendolyn appeared before them, and they were shocked to discover that she was a gynosphinx of great antiquity. Gwendolyn gave them the location of the Cursed Caverns of Sorrow and also let them know that some of their clones were active in the world.
However, Tanamier and Elric's suspicions of their fellow party members came to a head when Elric attacked Tempus. A short melee ensued, ending when Tanamier managed to calm everyone down. In a moment of surprise, however, J'afrock grabbed the Bloodsickle of Skahlehn and ran from the mountain lair. Cyndr attempted to stop him, and had his arm severed as payment. Elric managed to apprehend the half-orc and the Scourge retreated to Tanamier's temple in Rel Mord to deal with these issues.
Charming J'afrock, Elric left him in a secured room within Tanamier's temple, and the Scourge returned to the Hornwood. Once there, they met Larian Erroshel, a ranger and cleric of Corellon Larethian. As a native of Geoff, Larian insisted on accompanying the Scourge to the caverns to retrieve the Trumpet of Doom. However, the heroes had spent too much time back in Nyrond, and this gave the Lords of Doom plenty of time to bring many undead servants with them as they sought to obtain the dark artifact for themselves. The Scourge happened upon them and a battle of incredible magnitude ensued, with the Scourge battling desperately to prevent the Lords of Doom from retrieving the artifact. The Lords had ju-ju zombies and skeleton warriors, and included Mistress Pantryche, Nymthalas Kaiyne, and Nyeru Darkspring operating through the corpse host and having a little girl chained to his arm as a shield against spells. Nyeru and Pantryche eventually obtained the Trumpet of Doom and escaped; when the smoke cleared, Cyndr lay dead, Elric was buried alive as a result of a misfired teleport, and Nymthalas Kaiyne was burned to ashes by the fire magic of Tempus. The heroes regrouped and returned to the surface, where Tempus left, consumed by his guilt of having slain the young girl that accompanied Darkspring. However, the group was met by Tiemel, an elven warrior who had forsaken his elven gods after receiving a vision of Agravelenon, Tempus' deity; and Sylhm, a grey elf that had apparently known Cyndr. Distressed at his death, she vowed vengeance upon the Lords of Doom that had killed him.
Needing something to counter the Trumpet of Doom, the heroes, under instructions from Gwendolyn, determined the location of Mielec's White Banner. The artifact was in the possession of an enchantress who led a ragtag group of quicklings, werewolves, and spriggans. The heroes negotiated a trade of powerful magic items for the banner, and left unmolested. They then brought the banner to Carmeneren to have it encrusted with the jewels that would power it.
The Scourge then attempted to plunder the rest of the Caverns of Sorrow in a series of short adventures, with Tempus atoning and rejoining the group alongside Brother Griften. The most notable adventure would be when they again clashed steel and sorcery again against Maskaleyne, this time with a glabrezu demon and the priest Panshazek and his ghastly bone automaton. While the glabrezu retrieved the Ebony Skull from Elric's buried body, the Scourge destroyed Maskaleyne and defeated Panshazek. They could do nothing about Elric. In addition, Brother Griften mysteriously disappeared while investigating a nycaloth's treasure hoard.
Wishing to take matters into their own hands, the Scourge scried upon Mistress Pantryche, and found her discussing something with the man they would later know as Jyvryn "the Shiv", and at least one other person. Teleporting there, they sought to kill her at a perceived moment of weakness. Unfortunately, she was also with Nyeru Darkspring and his ultroloth ally. A magnificent battle ensued that saw Jyvryn and Nyeru retreat, both badly injured. The Scourge suffered far worse, however, with Tempus losing several limbs to the daemon and Sylhm destroyed by the yugoloth's fire storm. The Scourge retreated back to Nyrond for the healing touch of Inkaneesta.
Changes were in store for the Scourge of the Underdark. Tanamier was informed by King Archbold that he must take command of the Nyrodian outpost on the border with Almor, the better to defend against the insidious Duke Szeffrin. Tanamier reluctantly agreed, now that Crysus was living in the temple at Rel Mord. However, the gifted one participated in one last mission alongside Larian, Tempus and Tiemel: to discover what had happened to Brother Griften in the Cursed Caverns of Sorrow.
The heroes first went to Gwendolyn, who sent them on a series of adventures that brought them from the Plains of the Paynims to investigate a unique crypt for a priest of Hextor, to an aerial battle with a cloud dragon and her ogre servants, to beneath the seas near the Hold of the Sea Princes to engage with a dragon turtle, a dozen stone golems, and a noble marid. This last adventure freed the hero/explorer Donnaugh, who was supposed to be the mortal son of Fharlangh, god of travel and horizons. Granting each member a wish, Tanamier wished for the return of Brother Griften, while Tempus wished for J'afrock to be restored to his normal self.
Tempus, Griften, Tiemel, and Larian returned to the Hornwood, dedicated to the freeing of Geoff. Larian bid his friends goodbye, wishing to help the Council of Five evacuate the refugees, but asked his brother Riyan to replace him. In addition, a bladesinger from Celene, Beleg, came to the group with his colleague Erronion, seeking information about Caelynn. Despite the news of Caelynn's death, Beleg carried on with the Scourge, partly out of honor to his dead friend. Erronion also stayed on, though his reasons were kept to himself. Finally, Commander Ambrose Gregor ordered his lieutenant, the paladin Grier, to join the Scourge of the Underdark for the remainder of their stay in Geoff.
The revived Scourge of the Underdark took to its task with relish. Mounting several raids upon the capital city of Gorna, they decimated much of the Lords of Doom's humanoid and giantish forces. They had to fight a running retreat from the city several times, but were always successful.
Finally, they attacked the royal palace itself, after Grier had received a dream from Duke Owen himself (Owen is a powerful illusionist in addition to being a warrior of repute). Here, the luck that had accompanied the Lords of Doom turned drastically against them. In a climactic battle, Tempus called upon Agravelenon's power and blasted Nyeru Darkspring's ultroloth ally back to Hades with a single blast of cold. Things fared no better for Darkspring's lieutenents; Mistress Pantryche, the alu-demon necromancer, was disintegrated by Brother Griften, while Beleg and Riyan cut Cormyvyl Beastmaster to shreds. Darkspring himself was forced to retreat.
Duke Owen met up with the Scourge of the Underdark and prepared their forces to finally retake the Duchy of Geoff. Their forces met on the battlefield, and a clash has not been seen like this one since the Battle of Emiridy Meadows. Initially, Darkspring unleashed incredible casualties upon the Geoffite forces through his use of the Trumpet of Doom. The Scourge retaliated with the White Banner of Mielec, decimating much of the necromancer's undead forces. The remaining Lords of Doom fled to the cursed Caverns of Sorrow, where the Scourge of the Underdark tracked them down and finally destroyed them, with Tempus finally putting an end to Darkspring's evil..