Summary: A mysterious group of Minotaur assassins from Tsol’s past has targeted the heroes for termination. Can the adventurers uncover the sect’s mysterious source of power, or will they be picked off one by one?
Takes place 22nd-25th of Eleasis (Highsun) in the year 1478DR (The Year of the Dark Circle)
The heroes were taking a well deserved rest when unexpectedly they were attacked! Tsol, Alkorahil, and Bahardim were relaxing in Gray Haven. Bahardim had been enjoying some nookie time with Childa and was not happy about the intrusion! Meanwhile Madrakkar and Draven were trying to find more out about the mysterious Akneth and had trailed him to an alley outside a tavern in Lyrabar. Both groups were attacked at approximately the same time by Minotaur assassins. Their assailants were like a cross between a Minotaur and a vampire. They had pale skin, white fur, red eyes, and fangs. The Minotaur that attacked Tsol was different. It was jet black, with red highlights in its fur, and had flaming hoofs. The battle-hardened heroes shook off their surprise quickly and were able to defeat their attackers.
Afterwards Tsol was approached by a horned frog that he recognized from the frog-jumping contest in Yurley. The toad had belonged to Cowaveras and led Tsol back to her body out in the forest. She had been killed by having her heart ripped out by the assassins. Her journal indicated she had finally tracked down Tsol’s whereabouts and was coming to join him on his quest. The party in Gray Haven met up with Deauxnavius, who had also been wounded by the assassins. He reported that several perimeter guards had been killed but the main target of the attack seemed to be centered on the party and their associates.
The heroes joined up in the city the next day to try and find out some more information about their attackers. After doing some leg-work they discovered that the assassin’s contact with the thieves’ guild was none other than their old associate, Svennie Four-fingers. The party tracked Svennie down to a guild message station where the thieves used homing pigeons to relay notes. The group intimidated Svennie into taking a walk with them outside. While the party had the thieves distracted, Madrakkar discovered an old note to the Minotaurs that contained a ritual for summoning Nightmare steeds. Svennie did not know where the assassins were based out of but he knew they were not local. After accepting a bribe from the adventurers he informed them he knew where another assassin’s guild hung out that were rivals of the Minotaurs. This other assassin’s guild, the Jade Vipers, was comprised of Yuan-ti and might have more information. After accepting another bribe he agreed to give the party directions to the Yuan-ti hideout. After some forceful persuasion he agreed to lead the lead the party to the hideout. Instead Svennie tried to lead them into an ambush by some demon cultists so that he could collect the bounty on their heads. The heroes got wise and forced Svennie to lead them to the correct location before they allowed him to scurry off. The heroes boldly entered the assassin enclave. Silhouette, the medusa leader of the clan, ordered her assassins to kill the party. After the heroes defeated some of her best hit men she agreed to answer their questions. She did not know where the Minotaurs were located either. However she did know that her rivals feasted on the hearts of their slain targets because they believed that it added the victim’s power to their own. She suggested that if the adventurers wanted to find the Minotaurs then they should follow the Minotaur’s prey.
The heroes put the clues together that the Minotaurs were summoning Nightmares and one of the assassins had somehow absorbed the powers of a Nightmare. Then they had the bright idea of having the Moon Elves summon Kilrosh the Nightmare Horselord again. The party returned to Gray Haven. Akneth was allowed to accompany them since he was also a target of the assassins.
The elves summoned Kilrosh and after his initial anger subsided, he agreed to answer the player’s questions. He informed them that the last two nights someone had indeed summoned members of his herd and that they had never returned. The ritual Madrakkar had found only worked on nights of a new moon. That night was the last night of the new moon for the lunar cycle. Kilrosh agreed to carry Tsol into the Shadowfell and if the summoning was done again he could try to follow the spell back to its source. Patono gave Tsol an experimental “homing beacon” that he had been working on for the Star Sextant. If Tsol found the assassins hideout he was supposed to activate the beacon and the Sextant would automatically lock in on his destination and open a gate. The rest of the party would then teleport to his location. Tsol mounted Kilrosh and galloped into the Shadowfell. Overhead he could see the Starlight Citadel and nervously watched the sky for signs of Iyetrayoo. They raced onward to where Kilrosh’s herd resided. Tsol could see the summoning portal, like a giant spotlight shone from the sky, questing over the landscape for a target. The Nightmares in the herd wheeled to avoid its touch. Kilrosh charged straight for the light. At the last second he pulled up and Tsol tumbled over his neck into the summoning portal.
Tsol emerged into a summoning pentagram. He had apparently interrupted some type of initiation ceremony. There was a Minotaur priestess with curved horns, several more of the Cinderhoof assassins, and a pale initiate knelling in supplication. In his eagerness to kill the prone targets Tsol almost forgot to activate the homing beacon. The rest of the party gated in and they made quick work of their enemies. Childa called Bahardim over the sending stones. Their location was somewhere in the vicinity of the Bloodstone Mines near the nation of Vaasa. Using the homing beacon had somehow broken the Star Sextant and the elves were unable to open another portal to retrieve the party.
The heroes made their way through the labyrinthine lair of the Minotaurs. They freed some captured Satyrs who informed them that the clan had so far only learned how to transfer power from other creatures with hoofs. The party fought their way through a maze of shifting force fields that was guarded by iron-skinned Minotaur assassins that had stolen their power from Gorgons. Later the party navigated a hedge maze. The labyrinth was guarded by teleporting Shardhorn Minotaurs that had despicably killed Unicorns in order to gain their abilities.
The heroes eventually found the leader of the clan and his inner circle. The monstrous sized Minotaur leader boasted he had eaten the hearts from thousands of victims. His lieutenants were made up from members of all of the other types of Minotaurs that the party had come across. A grand battle ensued and the heroes were victorious. After the combat the group found a holy shrine that the Minotaurs had dedicated to the Armor of the Crimson Tide. This ancient artifact was missing its centerpiece, the “Heart of the Hero.” Tsol recognized the Minotaurs as clan Aortaa from his father’s journal of the Winding Way. Somehow over time the clan had come to build their entire society around the ideal of stealing hearts to gain power. The motivations behind why the Minotaurs attacked the heroes remained unclear. Their best guess was the clan had learned of Tsol’s possession of two other ancient relics from the set and wanted to steal his power or stop him from seeking the armor.