Our story continues exactly the minute when the last episode paused.
After defeating the Doppleganger, his Werewolf minions and the harrowing rescue of Emma Moonblade, our heroes find themselves deep within the bowels of the Tanar’ri temple.
Game Date: Nov. 19, 2011, San Juan, Metro Manila
- Keith Morales as Daemon Frost, Ranger of the North, Level 6
- Alex Mena as SkyClad Nimblewind, The Outsider Halfling Rouge, Level 7
- Chase Gosingtian as Lysandros, Paladin Harper, Level 5
- Nil Caruncho as Findar Hammersonn, borne of King Connar IV, bearer of the Dragon Armor, Level 7
- Meng Morales as Clytie, Signet Ring Bearer, Daughter of a Fallen Angel, Level 6
- (in absentia) Janrey Solomon as Thunder Dickenson, Mercenary for Hire, Level 5
- Thorin Seeker, A Man of the Cloth, Battlepriest of Tempus, Level 8
- Emma Moonblade, Harper and agent of the Lady Alustriel, Level 9
- Oswald, Gnomish Tinkerer, Captain of The Gimos, Level 7
COMPLETING THE DEMON TEMPLE
Daemon Frost, after discovering that Findar has been bitten by a Werewolf, convinces the dwarf to undergo an “experiment” – be shackled in chains, without armor and weapons; and for Emma to draw her Moonblade to see if anything adverse would affect the cleric should he be subjected to the moon beam. Lysandros cautions them about the possibility that the Dwarf might not change back. They continue nonetheless.
Emma reveals her Moonblade from the sheath. Findar feels intense pain. His symptoms abate after Emma quickly sheaths her weapon. Emma agrees not to draw her legendary weapon in battle until a cure for Findar’s Lycanthrophy is found (which, obviously, will be in the city of Silverymoon).
SkyClad and Findar ask the others to investigate the remaining halls of the Demon Temple since they heard about the mythical Dragon Armor of King Connar IV, Dwarven King of eons past.
The others agree.
Lysandros reminds them about the room where a “magical darkness” prevented the light from his torch going past the corridor. As is usual, the halfling Rogue, SkyClad, steps in to search for traps.
All of a sudden, SkyClad is petrified and turned into stone!
With a roar, Thorin rushes into the corridor… only to be stopped by a poisonous dart and, like the halfling, petrified as well.
Clytie uses her Scroll of Dispel Magic to bring the two back to normal.
They change tactics to solve the problem at hand: Thunder Dickenson, with his huge shield, will go first (with eyes closed). Skyclad will follow closely behind while checking for traps and Hope will be sniffing for anything unusual right behind the halfling.
“Your ass indeed smells funny, SkyClad” Hope mutters while trailing behind. “Do halflings know hygiene?”
The trio scout the corridor inch by inch until Thunder comes to a flooded area. SkyClad proceeds alone. He spots an intricate trap involving electrical coils which trigger with pressure plates on the floor (the water will flood the room and electrocute all when the water level reaches one of the three coils on the wall). Using the Troll Gut Rope, SkyClad fastens it onto the wall and climbs to disarm the trap (DM Note: It was so difficult, that Alex and the others expended 3 notch points to succeed).
The traps disabled, and opening the door reveals a treasure hoard! Among those found within the loot was the legendary Dwarven Dragon Armor of King Connar IV. Findar dons it and smiles from ear-to-ear. He leaves his old armor as a “tribute”
Meanwhile, our heroes continue their exploration on the eastern portion of the temple. Clytie’s head is filled with strange voices calling out her name. She also felt as if everything in this area was, surprisingly, “familiar” to her.
An invisible, magical barrier bars this great eastern chamber.
Inside the room are 8 identical statues of a fallen angel. The Player Characters ascertained that the barrier keeps off certain individuals depending on their faiths and/or Alignments (Forbiddance spell). Strangely still, SkyClad is forcibly pushed back by the barrier. (You get points if you guessed that he is an Outsider)
Findar and Daemon Frost break through the Forbiddance but they both trigger magical traps on the statues (depending on certain statues, each magical trap is more powerful as they descend deeper into the room). Hope is Disintegrated (by the spell of the same name) and dies.
Clytie elects to pass through. All of a sudden, she is basked in magical demon-fire, grows demonic horns and manifests razor-sharp claws. The statues retract to the alcoves and announce; “Welcome home, our Mistress”.
Clytie has flashbacks of her birth – she is torn from her mother’s wound by her father. The visions stop as sudden as they appeared.
The room cleared, the rest proceed to then open the one door at the East.
In the middle of that treasure room, they find a pedestal; with an ornate signet ring and a black book, bound with human flesh.
Clytie takes the ring (and is bound to her).
Their mission done, the party then exits The Demon Temple and heads to Silverymoon aboard the Gimos.
Emma and Lysandros bring everyone to the Lady’s Palace (Alustriel) where they have a council with the following personages:
- Lady Alustriel Silverhand, High Lady of the Silver Marches. Chosen of Mystra (human)
- Ruha, the Bedine Mage and Seer. (human)
- Jorus Azuremantle (half-elven), leader of the Spellguard (the Magi Elite who protect the City and guard the city Ward)
- Drift Darloc - Dwarven Cleric of Clangeddin Silverbeard, and representative of Bruenor Battlehammer, Eight King of Mithral Hall.
- Prince Lathseras Miritar , (LG Eladrin, Archer) Son of Lady Ilsevele Miratar, Seventh Coronal of Cormanthyr
The council reveal the following facts and information to our heroes;
- Emma, Lysandros and Thorin Seeker are all members of the Harpers
- Alustriel has sent them (the trio above) to Icewind Dale to monitor developments in the North. There were news that the Zhentarim and the followers of Bane are plotting to bring Bane back to life and are amassing forces in that area.
- Ezra can either be the “vessel of Bane” or the one who can “stop him”
- Ruha, The Seer, has already seen signs of several prophecies but has trouble trying to analyze the following verse which kept appearing in her visions;
“The white queen is troubled but can’t say why. The black queen hates the white and gives the assassin a black coat. The assassin steals upon the white queen. She can’t see him gliding through the shadows. The sword screams. The white queen falls. Her city falls. Stones fall in the cavern to crush the soothsayer. The tree burns and trashes in agony. Branches break. Branches twist and grow together…”
- Drift Darcloc identifies and confirms the validity of Findar’s armor and manages to help Findar read ancient Dwarvish script (engraved on the Dragon Armor). Findar discovers that the runes are actually names of his long, lost ancestors. He can trace his lineage to King Connar himself! (he is orgasmic!)
- The dwarves (via Bruenor) and the elves (via Prince Lathseras) are honor-bound to help the Harpers and rally armies to defeat Bane if needed.
- There are two options to stop the Banite ploy: go physically to Hellgate Keep (where Ezra is probably involved in some sort of ritual) and stop Bane there or travel to the ShadowFell (a major domain of the Plane of Shadow) to access the mind of Ezra (since Ezra also uses the Plane of Shadow to reach out to the PCs via dreams).
- Jorus Azuremantle tells the party that travel to ShadowFell is a tedious undertaking. It will start with a ritual which involves numerous wizards and priests. The key to breaking into Shadowfell (and to avoid sending the party mindlessly lost in the Planes) is an “Outsider”. Everyone in the party looks at SkyClad!
- Alustriel asks the rest of the party to join Harpers and begin their indoctrination into the Harper Code through the supervision of Emma and Lysandros. Everyone agrees. The High Lady promises to bring Hope back to life if the party complete their mission from ShadowFell and become Harpers.
Alustriel asks Emma Moonblade, Thorin, Thunder and Oswald to return to the North and prepare armies should the need arise.
After the meeting, the rest of the PCs (DF, Skyclad, Findar, Clytie and Lysandros) go shopping for magical items to prepare for their new quest. They heal up and rest for the night at the Lady’s Palace. Lady Alustriel reminds them to “seek something close to Ezra’s childhood” for them to access the boy’s mind within the ShadowFell.
The ritual to open the portal to ShadowFell begins at first light the next morning.
The ritual is successful.
ShadowFell. A place of deep shadows, of familiar yet alien landscapes, of vistas that snatch the breath, and of mind-rending visions, the Shadowfell is the gloomy reflection of the natural world. It is a plane dimmed and dulled by a pervasive and insidious pall. The home of the dead, the realm of the forsaken, a haven of the lost and the twisted, the birthplace of wretched creatures famous for their grief and sorrow—the Plane of Shadow is all this and more.
Our heroes enter a twisted version of the outskirts of Black Haven – in a time moments before the Meat Wagons arrive to plunder and imprison the town’s entire population (Episode 2). The townsfolk of this “Black Haven” are all gaunt, bleak, pallor and mindless. Each resident is an automaton – cursed to repetitively do their tasks, until the end of time. Their eyes and mouths are sewn shut, are emotionless and will not engage in any conversation nor react to parley.
Remembering Alustriel’s instructions, the adventurers make their way to Lar’s shack (Ezra’s uncle) hoping to find something that Ezra cherishes.
Heading to Ezra’s room, they find a simple, unkempt sleeping quarter – her lie Ezra’s bed and a small table. On top of the table are Ezra’s playthings; a top, wooden toy soldiers (orcs and human warriors), a wooden sword and a gem with little value.
SkyClad tries to pilfer the gem. Daemon Frost and Lysandros stop him.
Lysandros and the others examine the gem.
There is nothing of interest (DM NOTE: at this point, SkyClad’s soul has already been Magic Jarred into the gem. The gem actually houses the soul of a rogue Shadow Demon. SkyClad’s soul is now inside the gem and the Shadow Demon now possesses and controls the halfling Rogue).
At this time, the sound of the Meat Wagons and the humanoid army tear into town. Ezra’s top starts to spin violently (by itself) on the table.
Faster and faster.
Faster and faster.
Voices call out the names of our heroes. They echo from all directions.
One by one, the Player Characters magically vanish! (actually, they shrunk to itsy, bitsy size and remain in the room). Gargamel, Ezra’s cat, (now in a demonic, undead form) enters his master’s room.
Everyone in the party, save Lysandros, are diminutive.
Lysandros, spying the cat, draws his bow and elects to fire two arrows. Both hit. The first one (a crit!) lands squarely on the cat. While in the motion of firing his second arrow, Lysandros magically shrinks and finds himself (along with the others) fighting an angry, GIANT-UNDEAD-FERAL-CAT. OMG!
Battle begins. The rest of the toy soldiers animate and make their way down the table via a rope.
The party engages the giant cat and soon defeat it and the ‘toy soldiers’.
They gather around the spinning top and “concentrate”. They are all whisked into Ezra’s mind – a more sinister level of the Plane of Shadow.
Everyone senses that Bane is closer to returning to the Prime Material. The end is near.
The Company of Targos find themselves in an endless expanse of darkness. The darkness in ShadowFell is more like a living, sentient life-force. It has a power of its own. Light barely penetrates this Darkness. Everyone in the party is limited to a 10-foot diameter circle of light.
Beyond, is pitch black. A sea of utter darkness.
Again, voices calling out their names echo from everywhere. The demonic voices calling Clytie’s name grow louder and louder. Within the cacophony of sounds, one can hear Ezra’s frail voice calling out for help.
Daemon Frost makes a run beyond the circle of light. His strength sapped as he pushed, with all his might, towards the direction of Ezra’s voice. The ranger is hurt, but manages to continue. It’s now or never.
The half-elven ranger reaches his objective – he is witness to the magical transformation of Ezra into Bane! Though not complete, Bane is ready to step back into this world.
It has begun! The time is now!
Deamon Frost commands the Troll Gut Rope to bind the boy. As soon as it touches its target, it is utterly destroyed! Daemon Frost then reaches out and touches Ezra’s hand. Their minds connect. With all his willpower, he battles the evil of Bane.
He is rewarded with a message.
A single realization -
One of them must die. It’s either him or Ezra, for this madness to stop.
Ezra calls out to Daemon Frost;
“It’s alright daddy Frost. Do not fear. It is I who must die. Even if you give your life for me, Bane will still live. This is my destiny. You have yours. Clytie and the others need you. This is goodbye.”
Frost withdraws. With teary eyes, he can only watch, as Ezra is consumed with Hellfire and the transformation continues. He is speechless and in awe.
Meanwhile, back in the circle of light. Findar and Lysandros notice something peculiar about the gem (which they found at Ezra’s room). Upon closer examination, they detect a strong presence of evil. Instinctively, Findar reaches for his Battle Axe and smashes the gem!
In mid-swing, he is back-stabbed by SkyClad. The Shadow Demon strikes (possessing SkyClad’s body)!
Still, Findar’s axe finds its target. The Soul Gem is broken into a hundred fragments. SkyClad’s soul (trapped inside) breaks free! Since the vessel for his soul is gone, the halfling’s soul will wander mindlessly, SkyClad having no control of where to go. There is a big chance that his soul will forever be lost in the Plane of Shadow for all eternity!
At the moment of the gem’s destruction, the Shadow Demon is thrown away from SkyClad’s body (the rogue is knocked unconscious) and manifests physically.
Lysandros, Clytie and Findar are now in melee with the Shadow Demon. Try as they might, their weapons will not penetrate the demon’s magical resistance and damage resistance.
SkyClad (in soul form) decides to wander to a “bright orange place”
Clytie is again bathed in Hellfire, and her claws become more pronounced. She also feels a strange, great power calling to her. No, it is not the demonic voices.
It is different.
It comes from within her Signet Ring. She concentrates deeply. The ring controls her arm, pointing it towards the Shadow Demon.
A powerful beam of light shoots from the ring and hits the Shadow Demon! The demon shrieks in pain. It retreats back into the shadows, defeated.
Clytie looks at the ring in disbelief.
FATHER AND DAUGHTER MEET AGAIN
Findar and Lysandros pray to their gods to help guide SkyClad back to his body. But the halfling does not know fear and seems oblivious to the danger. Daemon Frost returns to the party and tells them the sad news.
A few seconds later, SkyClad finds himself in another soul gem.
The party run around and discover a glowing demonic pentagram. The voices in Clytie’s head grow louder and faster.
And then everything stops.
From the middle of the pentagram, a large, looming figure steps forth (see image below).
“Is this what you are looking for?”, the 13-foot being asked.
“A soul which has wandered to me.”
“What are you?” asked Clytie. “Is that the soul of our friend that you possess?”
“How soon you forget, my child”, the Demon croaked.
“I am Samael, Clytie. I am a Fallen Angel. Cursed for all Eternity.
And I am your father!"
Findar, ashamed of what he has done, holds out his holy symbol and calls out to Dumathoin. His god hears his prayers and his soul is exchanged for SkyClad. The thief returns to his own body and comes out from unconsciousness.
“Wow! What a show!!!” SkyClad applauded. It is cut short when he glimpsed Samael from the corner of his eye.
Daemon Frost, remembering that he gave the single Arrow of Demon Slaying to Lysandros, stares Lysandros in the eye, as if to signal him to make a move.
Lysandros speaks and asserts his religion. He is interrupted by Samael, who said;
“Do not question me regarding religion, Paladin! I have served a god and loved him all my life. I have sacrificed everything so that I can be damned and turned into THIS… so that He can be great and I can be among those that make Him that “way”. Is there a greater love than that? Now. Let us stop this conversation lest ye be insane."
“You all think you’re doing the world a big favor, yes? But you are all being USED!” Samael continued. ""Do you think everything happened by chance?
When Clytie met Ezra, the young boy, when he ran away from home?
That Daemon Frost was approached by Drizz’t Du’orden and was told to protect the boy at all costs and had those strange dreams?
That the halfling turned out to be an Outsider and was key to opening the portal to Shadowfell?
That your dwarven cleric was mentored in Religion by Thorin Seeker and was able to trace his roots to the legendary King Connar of Armmarindar?
That my beloved Clytie found herself (and her friends) in the very temple dedicated to my name?
That the drow you encountered had something to do with the Plane of Shadow?
Nay. I tell you, mortals!
We are but pawns in the grand scheme of things!"
“Clytie is my daughter. My only bloodline in Faerun. She is my beloved and I will take her home”.
“No!” Clytie asserted. “You have the soul of my friend. Let her go and then we will talk”
“What have you to offer that I cannot but take?” said the Fallen Angel.
“This.” Clytie shows her father the Signet Ring.
For the first time in a thousand years, Samael felt fear. The others see this. The demon is obviously disturbed.
“Ahhh… that.” murmured Samael. “Consider yourselves lucky that my daughter is with you” feigned the Demon. “I will let your friend go, my beloved”
“You do not know the power of the ring that you Bear. All I say is this: I am proud of what you have accomplished and now, I can die – knowing that you bear this great gift and curse. I pray that it doesn’t consume you.”
“Consume me? In what way, father?” Clytie asked. It seemed that she has already accepted her lineage.
“A stranger is following you, my beloved daughter. There are questions that even I cannot answer”
With that, Samael vanishes…
When they open their eyes, everyone finds themselves in field of grey. In front of them is a man in a black cloak.
“Who are you?” SkyClad peered.
“My name is not important. You can simply call me The Stranger” replied the man.
“I was once a Bearer of the ring that your friend now wears. It is both a gift and curse.”
DM Note: With that, the stranger proceeds to tell everyone about the legend and the story of the Five Signet Rings and the missions of the Bearers. That, my friends, is worthy of another post, which I will be uploading soon.
That concludes Book One of the Winter’s Twilight Trilogy. I’d like to thank all my players, Keith, Meng, Alex, Nil, Chase, Jan Rey and Phil for great role-playing sessions and for the great 7 episodes so far. I hope you loved the episodes and the story as much as I loved creating and running them for you. Book 1 is just the beginning.
Winter’s Twilight will be back! (sometime in January of 2012 once we convert all PCs to Pathfinder)
May the dice be good to you and may you always have good loots!
DM Mon Macutay – Dec 1, 2011