Summary: A malfunction with the Star Sextant leaves the heroes stranded in the enemy nation of Vaasa. They uncover the dark secret behind the Warlock Knight’s power and make a daring escape.
Takes place 26th-30th of Eleasis (Highsun) in the year 1478DR (The Year of the Dark Circle)
Using the experimental homing beacon had somehow broken the Star Sextant and the party was stranded in the northern mountains of the enemy nation of Vaasa. The heroes were forced to accept that the device might not be easily reparable and that they would have to make their own way back to Impiltur. The party descended the mountains down to the frozen tundra below. On the road between two cities the heroes ambushed a caravan led by several Warlock Knights. After they defeated the escort of ogre guards and the knights, the party assumed their identities. They hoped that with the disguises on they could travel with fewer hindrances. The adventurers investigated the contents of the wagons and were surprised to learn that they contained arcane materials for the casting of a large scale ‘raise dead’ ritual. The adventurers led the caravan on to the city of Palischuk.
Upon arrival at the city the party was surprised to find that it contained a large, mobile fortress. This “Freewheeling Fortress” rested on a multitude of iron wheels. Sulfurous fumes spouted from several large smokestacks at the top of the stronghold. They party was informed by several guards that the fortress was awaiting the arrival of their caravan to get underway. They were escorted inside the great contraption. Shortly thereafter it was sealed shut and rumbled forward. The party was given accommodations equal to their assumed rank. Alkorahil, who masqueraded as a high ranking Warlock Knight Fellthane, was invited along with his entourage to attend a feast that evening with their host, Warlock Knight Vindicator, Mansard Kanaoth. The party operated during the feast like a well-practiced group of grifters. Alkorahil acted as the “Mouth” of the group. He was able to win Mansard’s trust over several other dining power brokers that competed for the commander’s favor. Madrakkar acted as the “Mastermind” and recalled several key pieces of important information that aided the party’s goals. Andraste was the “grease-man.” She covertly relayed several messages amongst the party and pulled off some important sleight-of-hand. Tsol was the “Muscle” of the group. During the feast he was placed in a pit-fight against the other diner’s champions (a War Troll and a Mindflayer). He won with a bit of panache that served as a key distraction. Draven acted as the group’s “Cat Burglar.” He broke into Mansard’s private chambers while the others were dining. Inside he found a map that indicated that the fortress was headed towards Vassa’s capital, Telos City. The map also indicated a secret entrance into the fortress-city through a series of underground caves. In a secret closet Draven also discovered a red robe and a skull-like mask. The following day the party received a knock on their door. Outside was a package that contained a number of oddly designed masks and a note instructing them to put them on. Shortly after that, poisonous yellow fumes began circulating throughout the fortress. Using the masks the adventurers were able to breathe without suffering its ill-effects. The party looked out into the hall and saw that most of the fortresses’ occupants were not as lucky as they died an agonizing death. The party decided to get off of the fortress. Occasionally through the clouds of gas they spotted red-robed figures that were wearing masks similar to their own. Tsol’s mask only covered his snout and he was blinded by the fumes. Otherwise there might have been a lot of fighting! The party stealthily made their way into the bowels of the fortress and leapt clear.
The heroes decided to break into the fortress-city using the secret entrance that was marked on Mansard’s Map. The map indicated that near some ruins located outside the city walls there was an entrance to a series of caves that tunneled beneath the capital. That night the party arrived at the ruins and found a strange sight. Several Starpact Warlocks had summoned Star Spawn from three different stars. The magically educated heroes revealed to the group that such a gathering was unheard of. The Warlocks did not attempt to parlay with the adventurers and unleashed the Star Spawn to attack them. The heroes defeated their adversaries and later found the entrance to the caves.
The party navigated the dangerous caves. First they encountered a cavern with a giant spider’s web suspended over a bed of stalagmites. The heroes defeated the giant acid-spewing spider that had created the web and crossed the chamber to the caves beyond. Eventually the caves led to a series of mines that were worked by the evil Duergar dwarves. The condition of the mines looked like most of the occupants had left in a hurry. Only a skeleton crew remained. The party defeated a small vanguard of Duergar and made their way to where the mines ran far beneath the central castle of the city. A large, flat, metallic, disc, made of the same metal that the Warlock Knights favored, served as an elevator that ran through the center of the castle. Madrakkar used his magic to summon the floating disc down to the mining level where the party was. As the group ascended on the disc to the upper levels they noted that high above at the top of the shaft they could see the dimly illuminated, sunset sky. The disc stopped after only ascending for a short while. The party heard sounds of ritualistic chanting and decided to investigate.
The party entered a lavishly decorated office. They quickly looted several valuable items including a magical flying ship that had been miniaturized and placed inside of a bottle. At the far end of the office was a balcony where the group could hear the chanting echoing from. They crept up to the edge and witnessed a fantastic sight. The prostrate form of a gigantic humanoid was laid out several levels below. The Primordial being’s body was made up entirely of pitted, iron-ore. Several parts of the individual’s body blazed with a violet, star-like glare. After taking one look at the being the heroes were now aware of the source of the Warlock Knight’s weaponry. The chanting was coming from yellow-robed humans that surround the giant. From the level directly below, the adventurers could see three hooded figures overseeing the operation and they overheard the following conversation:
Figure 1: “Such chaos! Is this how you run your charge (sarcastic) Voice of Telos? Perhaps the Church of Bane should take more active control of your operations?”
Figure 2: “I assure you your eminence that will not be necessary. Who could have foreseen the return of the Witch-King, Zhengyi? After all, he has not been heard from for over a hundred years.”
Figure 1: “If that even was the work of the Witch-King. Hijacking a mobile-fortress and ramming through city walls was hardly his style. More likely some fool is masquerading as the Witch-King; trying to use his name to garner support.”
Figure 2: “But the Freewheeling Fortress was filled with hundreds of undead and several witnesses claimed to have spotted the With-King during the fighting. You have seen the reports indicating Castle Perilous has returned in the north. Liches are notoriously hard to keep dead after all.”
Figure 1: “Perhaps. If that idiot Mansard ever turns up I will personally flay the skin from his bones for this failure. Has order been restored?”
Figure 2: “Yes, your eminence. My Warlock Knights and their minions have destroyed all of the undead. Our slaves will have repaired the damage to the city-wall within the week. As you can see my Luminaries begin their nightly chant to keep Telos bound in slumber. All is in hand. The forces of Telos will not fail this war effort.”
Figure 1: (to figure 3) “And what of your master? Does he stand ready to deliver us the western front as promised?”
Figure 3: “My master will bring order to the forces of the west as promised. Malrite stands ready to do his part.”
Figure 1: “As does Bane”
From behind the party, Akneth spoke, “As does Lolth.” He then delivered a vicious backstab which nearly killed Tsol. Akneth also alerted the hooded figures of the party’s presence. When Figure 1 turned around the adventurers saw that he wore the vestments of a High Priest of the Church of Bane. He summoned a Banelar Naga, a powerful servant of the god Bane, to attack the party. He then departed to summon the guards. Figure 2, whom the party assumed was the Voice of Telos, summoned a Shardsoul Avatar to attack the party. The avatar was like a miniature version of Telos. The Voice then stated that he was concerned that all of the ruckus “at such a critical point in the ritual” might awaken Telos and descended to aid the Luminaries in their chant. The third figure shed his garments and was revealed to be an angelic-like creature. Wielding a sword of fire and a sword of ice he flew up to the balcony and attacked the heroes uttering the battlecry, “For Malrite.” The heroes were hard-pressed by Akneth’s betrayal and the assault of so many powerful enemies. Their spirits were lifted though, by the return of Urlog, who unexpectedly charged into the fray. Urlog revealed the reason for his long absence was that he had been spying on the Warlock Knights for the Grand Council. He had been hiding out disguised as a Duergar in the mines when he had caught on to the party’s trail. With his aid the heroes narrowly defeated their first wave of enemies. During the fight, Akneth was delivered what should have been a fatal blow. However instead of perishing, he transformed into a swarm of spiders that dispersed and crawled away.
With more guards approaching the heroes knew it was time to leave. They gathered back on the elevator and Madrakkar used his magic to override the controls. They shot upward through the castle at extreme speed, crashed through the glass window at the top of the shaft, and emerged high into the dusky sky before their momentum began to play out. Alkorahil summoned the magical flying ship from the bottle and the party fell onboard. The heroes let out a whoop of triumph as he steered the vessel away from the castle. However, their victory was short-lived as several flying enemies began their pursuit. The heroes were attacked by several Warlock Knights riding Wyverns, a Warlock Knight flying with some type of magical “jet-pack”, and a Shardsoul Dragon made from the same meteor-like substance as Telos. In the darkening sky, the party defeated the Warlock Knights but it looked as if the dragon might tear the flying ship from out from under them. In a herculean act of intimidation, Alkorahil shrugged off the beast’s “starfire” radiant breath weapon and convinced the dragon that it could not hope to win the fight. It retreated back to the castle and the heroes used the ship to return to Impiltur.