On January 26th, Year 5, the Citadel House adventurers feel compelled to respond in force to continued aggression from the Garim na Aguluk Sacra orcs and goblins, with frost wolves harassing Carrie Thursday and Friday of the previous week. Considering their previous dealings justly patient, Verdis leads a band to put an end to the threat:
- Verdis (HuS): Level 9 Human Fighter
- Rovert (TrS): Level 5 Human Magic-user (Death and Mind Magic)
- Ale’filia (DaS): Level 1 Elf Cleric of the Living Water
- Mark (JaH): Level 1 Halfling Thief
By monday evening, Verdis has led them to their previous camp, where they spend an uneventful night (Ale’Filia seeks the Lord’s guidance concerning Rovert’s undead and is advised by the Spirit to not concern herself too much for the time being). In the morning, they press on toward the shrine. Not far from it, they come upon a goblin scout, who they capture and interrogate, obtaining the entrance solution to the gate lock, but determining that this goblin is too detached from the cult’s leadership to be of much help.
After Rovert attempts to let the goblin take his sword (the dragon) so the sword can possess him to kill himself, Ale’filia locks the goblin in a snow cacoon, unconscious, so they can proceed undisturbed. They come to the clearing around the shrine, circling the at the tree line until they see what resembles the lock indicated by the goblin’s note on the wall. Ale’filia casts a spell that envelopes the area for thousands of feet around them in fog thick enough to limit visibility. They rush to the gate and quickly work the lock into the solution positions obtained from the goblin, Alefilia being nearly knocked out after an attempt to open it before the solution was right. As they start to enter, a cry goes up and Rovert’s sword informs them that the orcs know that the fog is unnatural and are rushing to defend the gate.
They break left along the base of the berm up to the wall before cutting toward the tower, barely visible through the fog. As they go, orcs spot them through fog and call out to them. Rovert, with coaching from the sword, convinces them they saw something moving toward the tower base. An orc orders them back to the gate, saying he will investigate. They oblige, or at least pretend to, but seeing some orcs pursuing them realize they can’t continue the charade long enough.
Verdis turns and looses arrows at the pursuing orcs, Rovert calling out that arrows are incoming. Rovert drops, pretending to be hit, as do Mark and Ale’filia after advancing a little further. Verdis engages the other two, cutting them down before they can make too much fuss. The others get back up and they hurry to the tower, seeing an orc circling it to their right. Verdis and Rovert agree to take him out and attack. The orc puts up a fight, disarming Rovert and Ale’filia, trading blows with Verdis, calling for reinforcements, and evading any spells until Verdis manages to bring him down.
Verdis takes his amulet and purse, but when he is about to take his weapons, Rovert stops him, beginning to animate the fallen orc as a skeleton. Ale’filia attempts to stop the process, but Verdis defends Rovert and soon the skeleton is rushing off to confront the coming orcs. The party continues around the tower counter-clockwise, the artificial fog starting to get burned off and Rovert senses the loss of his newest undead (Drej reports that he and the skeletal ogre and wolf are trying to keep attention outside the walls, but may have to withdraw). They soon see tents set up on the far side of the compound from the gate. Orcish women mill about, preparing food as the fog clears. They come upon another puzzle door in the tower wall, this time with two dials.
With too many options to possibly guess, they send Mark into the tents to look for a solution. While they wait by the puzzle lock, the fog continues to clear until the women notice them, grabbing makeshift weapons and a bow to defend themselves against the intruders while they call them out. Rovert casts a spell to wipe their status as enemies from the women’s minds and they calm. Rovert approaches and they learn from the women that only the high priest and his acolytes know the combination to the lock. They are all in the tower, enacting its power. They withdraw to the puzzle again together to wait for the door to open as a blizzard starts, clearly of magical origin centered on the tower. In the storm, they can hear warriors returning to the camp.
Rovert encharges an arrow with a death explosion and they all step back, Verdis just close enough to see the puzzle through the swirling snow. They wait a while until the door starts to open, Verdis sneaking an arrow in and unleashing an explosion of death inside the tower. Verdis, and even the rest of the party further back, barely feel the death energy wash over them, but inside the devastation is nearly total. A druid and three frost wolves survive to emerge and the party soon defeats them all.
They hurry through the door, where the signs of wolves, orcs, and hobgoblins being killed by the spell are obvious. Rovert senses an aura of ice magic as they start to explore and soon the chill starts to damage them, prompting them to split up to explore more quickly. Rovert goes with Mark and Verdis with Ale’filia. They each slay druids using altars to summon frost wolves. They obtain amulets from the druids that protect them from the cold magic. They find another puzzle door, but with four dials, they see no possibility for passing it without knowing the combination. The last druid they find is convinced that they are there by invitation when he sees their amulets of protection. Though he says it is too dangerous to go to where the high priest is without “the mantle,” he leads them up the stairs to the film barrier separating the rest of the shrine from it.
Rovert attacks the orc and they are forced to kill it before proceeding. With two amulets on, Verdis goes through the film and an increased cold damages him somewhat. He presses on through the next film, suffering even more damage. There is a door ahead, but Verdis questions his resolve to continue. Laying Hands on himself for healing, he presses on through the door, coming to another room and then a stair rising up around a grate. He starts to climb, but it seems to climb several more stories. The damage is becoming too much and Verdis is out of spell points, so he is forced to turn back, returning through the film to the others.
They decide to wait for the priest to come down and after a few hours confront him as he exits. The priest attempts to wash them away with a water spell, but before he finishes, Verdis runs through the film, grabbing the priest and dragging him out where the others can attack him. They quickly incapacitate him and when he awakes, compel him to accept a peace with the Valefolk, in which the cult will bless their boats to be more acceptable on the water. They return the captured sacred relics and depart with the high priest, Ecrenic, swearing to maintain the peace for as long as he leads the cult.
They return and report the peace to Matthias, having only killed about a dozen of the enemy in their attack. All but Rovert level up.
When this all started, I wasn’t expecting it to be pursued beyond the first session, but when they did, it was inevitable they would get this far and learn some new things about the world.