Summary: Half of the Grand Council is corrupted by demon-worshipers that want to steal the Star Sextant from the Moon Elves. The council decision is split, and the swing vote belongs to – Bahardim! The heroes race to uncover his forgotten past before the cultists can erase it forever
Takes place 1st-3rd of Flamerule (Summertide) in the year 1478DR (The Year of the Dark Circle)
The party was honored as saviors by the Moon Elves after vanquishing the Starlight Citadel. However, even with the mysterious tower no longer floating above the Gray Forest, the Grand Council of Impiltur was split on the decision about what to do with their newly discovered neighbors. The faction of the council that was still loyal to the monarchy had correctly concluded that the elves posed no threat and wanted to welcome them as allies. However, the other half of the council had been corrupted by the nefarious demon-cult, the Fraternity of Tharos. These dishonorable council members coveted the elves’ Star Sextant and wanted to declare war on them in order to take possession of the artifact. The vote was deadlocked between the two parties.
While the heroes had been away on their long journey for the Sunset Quartz, Childa Bennings had done some research on her father’s kidnappers. It turned out, shockingly, that Bahardim was an exact look-alike for a portrait of Rhombik Loroth that she had found. Bahardim had never recovered his memories after being subjected to Malrite’s ritual so his past identity was still uncertain. However, in light of the new information, certain events began to make sense, like when Ablair had accused Bahardim of betraying him. Also Bahardim had been incredibly quick to reverse-engineer a protective rune for the mindfilth poison after he had read Rhombik Loroth’s journal. Rhombik had been the one that had developed the runes to contain the mindfilth weapon in the first place. Incredibly, if it was true that Bahardim had been Rhombik Loroth that meant that his father, Count Bereg Loroth, had been the one to kidnap Childa’s father.
The party went to Counts Adamas and Morton Morton for more information. While neither had ever met Rhombik Loroth, both affirmed that Bahardim was the spitting image of Count Bereg Loroth (although much, much younger). They attested that Count Loroth was one of the worst people that they had ever met and definitely a member of the Fraternity of Tharos. However, the situation presented a unique opportunity. Since Count Loroth was absent from the council, the heroes could testify that he was last seen entering a dangerous portal and was likely dead. Bahardim could then claim himself as heir, take the title of Count, and cast the deciding vote to end the stalemate in the council. The party went to the capital building in New Sarshel to present their testimony to the Grand Council. Count Bloodthorn, speaker for the corrupted side of the council, pointed out that Clan Loroth was renowned for owning a magic signet ring. Legend told that when leader of the clan died, the ring would mystically appear on the hand of the eldest male successor to the bloodline. Without the signet ring the council would not accept Bahardim as Count Loroth’s heir.
With much fanfare, the heroes departed the city for Count Loroth’s manor. Several new allies accompanied the group. There was Madrakkar – the eclectic, human, mage and Akneth – the deadly, drow, assassin; each of whom had been assigned by a faction of the council to accompany the party as “impartial” observers. Urlog had wandered off and oddly, nobody knew where he had gone. In order to pick up the slack, the heroes also invited Andraste – the beautiful, eladrin, bard who they had befriended while residing with the Moon Elves. Lots of citizens turned out to cheer the group on as they made their way out of the city. They had heard of the heroes’ recent exploits and were proud to have someone publicly stand up to the demon cultists. However the parade turned ugly when the cultists unleashed some demons to attack the heroes Needle demons used their rage-inducing powers to incite a riot as runespiral demons sniped at the adventurers with bolts of electricity from nearby rooftops. The heroes defeated the demons but several townsfolk were killed in the mayhem. The council declared a curfew and ordered all citizens indoors until dawn the next morning. The members of the council sympathetic to the heroes got word to them to get out of town just before the order for the curfew was decided on. Their message was delivered by none other than Aoth Fezim, Captain of the Brotherhood of the Griffon. He promised to turn back any pursuit that the cultists would send until the curfew was lifted.
The party raced to the manor of Count Loroth. The next day Childa called Bahardim on the sending stones. She informed him that a Balor, a nearly-unstoppable, demon princeling, had been sighted leaving the Demontower and was headed their way. They estimated that they had about a twelve hour head start before the demon arrived and tore down the manor and everyone in it. The manor stood on a high plateau overlooking the nearby town. The adventurers disabled the magical glyphs protecting the door and entered the manor. The interior showed signs of abandonment. The manor was filled with nice things, all neatly filed away and covered with a fine coating of dust. The adventurers encountered the lone occupants, Hrun and Tuv (dwarven for one and two). Both were horribly disfigured. Hrun had too little skin. It was stretched tightly over his face to the point of tearing and gave him a skeletal appearance. Tuv had too much skin and it fell in baggy folds around his body. Both were dwarf-sized and sported weak facial hair and weaker intellects. The heroes gathered that their master was in a lab below the manor before they aroused the misfit’s suspicions. The bizarre creatures summoned a troll that was magically tethered to the manacles that they wore. In his zeal to destroy the troll, Madrakkar burned the pitiful creatures (and ½ the party). The explorers proceed down to the lab through a grand, spiral staircase.
The group emerged in a perfectly square room made of seamless white marble. A pattern of some type was inscribed on the floor. An identical-looking door was in the middle of each wall and the spiral staircase continued downward. The party quickly discovered that the stairs formed some type of extra-dimensional loop. If they took the stairs downward then they shortly emerged in the same room again from the top of the stairs. Likewise when they tried to climb the stairway back up to the manor, they emerged in the strange room again from the bottom of the stairs. In the center of the room was a rune-covered pedestal. Four engraved arrows on the pedestal each pointed at a different door. As the adventurers explored the dungeon they came to realize that the rooms were randomly shifting positions. They would open a door and a few minutes later then when they opened the same door it would lead to a different room. Each room, like the first that they entered, was perfectly square with four exits leading from it. The party came to realize that the pattern on the floors were different and if assembled correctly formed the sigil of Count Loroth. Each room was filled with bizarre experiments sprung forth from the Count’s twisted mind.
1) The Library: Filled with volumes of books in every shape and size. The librarian was a Cyclops from the waist-up but his lower body was egg-shaped (like a weeble-wobble). He sat in a cup-shaped chair and kept ‘Shhhh-ing” the party. When Tsol knocked him from the chair his fragile skull cracked on the floor and oozed yellow pus as he died. Also of interest was a giant-sized book filled with children’s stories, an animated book with teeth that tried to bite the reader, and a small, animate, origami dragon that was adopted by Madrakkar.
2) The Lab: Filled with miscellaneous magical experiments and a random assortment of weird items including: a giant magnet, a lava-lamp (filled with real lava), a ballista, a metal helmet with a bunch of spiked crystals growing out of it, some tin-can phones, a stuffed owlbear, a brain-in-a-jar, a Faberge egg, an abacus, and a pile of zebra-stripped pillows. The brain-in-a-jar turned out to be a Grell Philosopher that summoned some Dweomer-Eaters (super rust monsters) to attack the party. Before the heroes could kill them all Tsol got his axe eaten. (again)
3) The Toy Workshop: Filled with all types of dangerous toys. A Hydra popped up out of a jack-in-the-box and attacked the party shortly after they entered the room. Other items were: a bunch of toy soldiers armed with sharp, miniature weapons, a wind-up clock-work dragon, balloons made from stretched skin and filled with poisonous gasses, a toy-sized crossbow, glass “gems” with razor-sharp edges, and “puppets” made from Halfling corpses attached to marionette strings.
4) The Forge: This room was a perfect smithy. It bore none of the strangeness of the other rooms and looked immaculately maintained. There was a large anvil, metal-working tools, bellows, and a furnace filled with blazing fire. Impeccably crafted weapons and armor lined the room (some of which animated and attacked the party).
5) The Control Room: The room with the stairs and the pedestal that the party first entered
6) The Gallery: Filled with peculiar artwork. The pattern on the floor was the wrong color here and the adventurers had to puzzle out how to change it to the correct hue. The party noticed the animate image of count Bereg Loroth was watching them from inside his portrait. When they challenged him the image left the painting and did not reappear.
7) The Garden: Filled with all types of plants. Unlike the other rooms the floor here was made of earth except where a curved walkway formed part of the master pattern. In the center of the room was a stone pillar with several levers protruding from it. Atop the pillar a ball of light glowed like a miniature sun. In several areas rotating brass “sprinklers” were suspending in the air by jets of water shot from poles beneath them. When the group entered the room they were attacked by the vegetation and also by the “sun” which was a prismatic shard, and by the “sprinklers” which were water archons.
8) The Time Experiment: Filled with all types of devices used to measure time. The room had a multitude of clocks, hourglasses, sundials, and segmented candles. A cage housed a number of roosters and cuckoos. A giant-sized grandfather clock had a chair attached to the pendulum. Alkorahil sat in the chair and experienced a vision of the future before the device broke. After his experience was over, his shock resulted in psychic backlash which caused the memory to be shared throughout the entire group: “The dizziness fades as your world slowly returns to focus. You are no longer in the lab. Shakily you rise from the chair and try to get your bearings. You recognize this place. You are standing atop the capital building in New Sarshel. Below you see the city is at war. The city’s defenders man the wall. They are hard-pressed by attackers wearing dull grey crystalline armor. The main gate has already been breached by the enemy. Suddenly the blazing sunlight begins to dim. As shadows begin to fall you look behind you. A total solar eclipse has completely blotted out the sun. You note the silhouette of the Demontower. The upper levels of the tower have been reduced to crushed ruins. Your attention is returned to the battle after an uproar from close by. A magical portal has been opened just below the building you are standing on. Hundreds of Minotaurs are charging forward bellowing a thunderous battle cry. They charge straight toward the hosts of enemies streaming through the main gate. Next a group of royal guards bearing the imperial arms of Impiltur exit the gate. They guard a dark-haired man wearing simple monk’s robes and a crown. You notice that there are a number of dark skinned monks intermixed within the group. As the group marches forward to support the Minotaurs you hear one of the men take up the call “For the king!” Finally exiting the gate you notice a group of dark elves stealthily moving into battle formation. Another wave of nausea hits as you begin to shake violently. You fight back a moment of panic as you realize that it is not you that is shaking but the world around you. Finally the fit passes and you can see clearly again. You are back in the lab."
9) The Fridge: This enchanted room was permanently kept below freezing. Besides various chilled perishables there was an ice-sculpture of a beholder, and a dead dwarf encased in a block of ice. The dwarf looked like he had been tortured and frozen to death. A plaque indicated his name has been “Berend Stonerender”
Time was running out as the party the party finally finished exploring all of the rooms. They figured out how to use the pedestal to control the movement of the rooms. Using Bahardim’s innate understanding of runic patterns and Madrakkar’s exceptional intellect, the heroes rearranged the rooms in the correct position to complete the pattern. With sounds of the Balor tearing down the manor above them the party descended the staircase and this time arrived in a new location.
The stairs emerged into a large underground cavern. On the other side was a dais which contained several complex devices covered with runes. Two of the devices that held slowly rotating, rune-covered cylinders, threw off a glowing wall of runes that blocked the player’s approach. Inside the wall were some runic-covered gargoyles, a pair of summoned demons, and a number of dwarves that looked exactly like Bahardim. As the heroes battered their way through the magic barrier one of the dwarves claimed he was Count Bereg Loroth and went on with his villainous tirade. Loroth stated that Bahardim was really Bereg Set – the seventh clone he had made of himself. After several early failures Bereg had learned how to clone a younger body and transfer his mind into it. He had sent Bereg Set out into the world as Rhombik Loroth to pose as his son and prepare for the day when he would transfer his identity to his “heir.” Bereg tried to use his runic cloning device to control Bahardim. Because Bahardim had his memories erased during Malrite’s ritual, he had forged his own identity and was able to resist the magic. An epic battle was fought. Finally, Bahardim succeeded in sending his foul creator to the abyss with a bone-crushing blow to the skull.
After the battle Bahardim took the signet ring of clan Loroth from Bereg’s hand and freed all of the slaves that had been forced to follow the evil Count’s commands. The party returned to the council and Bahardim was officially recognized as a Count. His first act was to destroy the ring and proclaim the clan’s name officially changed from Loroth to Stonerender. He also cast his deciding vote against attacking the Moon Elves and the heroes once again earned their gratitude.