DARKNESS GATHERING: ENDGAME (PART ONE)

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This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

– The Hollow Men, T.S. Elliot

“It all started with a simple delivery. Allustan from the College of Magic in Threshold wanted a small wooden box delivered to the Yellow Warehouse in Falstaff. And this mission led you to intervene in the strange happenings at the Tower Enoch which revealed the plot of the demon Shuluth who is apparently a servant of the Dark Queen, Lolth. Now, you’ve gone underground, seeking out your friend only to find him nearly dead within the halls of a long forgotten temple that rests below Falstaff’s foundations. And finally, curiosity led you to place the Black Spheres within the gaping mouths of the Three Demon Faces, opening a rift to an alternate world much like your own which has been conquered by Lolth. You’ve endured three adventures so far, and now you’ve been asked by Aleena and the Other Rippin, to begin another: save the world from The Darkening.”

The final chapter of the story was fast paced, and well played by the players. The first encounter was one suggested by the 4th Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide II where the players are assigned different characters for a short amount of time to introduce a villian. With that in mind, the players were told that they were each a sergeant in the Threshold military in charge of a unit of 25 Humans and 25 High Elves, 50 in all.

They had been ordered to travel from Threshold to Falstaff along the King’s Road to assist in dfending the town from whatever evil was besetting it.  Obviously Rippin’s message had been delivered by the innkeeper, Handsome John.  During this encounter, the characters arrive in Falstaff and find that it is surrounded by a thick, white fog or mist. Sending in scouts, they discovered that the town was completely gone and only a crater remained. This was their first hint that the town itself had been dragged into the Astral Plane by Lolth and Corellon Larethian with the assistance of the  Githyanki and their Queen. At the end of this adventure, the playing characters are introduced to a High Elf noble named Aesir. At Aesir’s command, the High Elves in the Threshold army turn on their human companions. In the end, the players fully understand that Aesir is trouble as their sargeant characters are killed by the traitorous High Elves.

Falstaff, floating in the Astral Plane
Falstaff, floating in the Astral Plane

In the second encounter for the night, the players are back to playing their regular characters. They talk with “the Other Rippin” for awhile about his experiences fighting the demon known as Shuluth. He explains the tactics that he and his companions used, and suggested that things might have gone easier if they hadn’t killed the High Elf that was possessed by Shuluth. He explained that once they killed the High Elf, the demon was able to fully manifest on the Prime Plane and became much more powerful. The heroes pressed Other Rippin about the Elf’s name and he remembered it without fail. “I’d never forget it,” he said. “Aesir. The High Elf was named Aesir.”

Encounter One:  RUDE AWAKENING

“You’re still asleep, but hanging on the fringe of wakefulness. At first, you focus on what you can hear mainly because it’s kind of annoying. It sounds like raindrops hitting against a pane of glass during a storm. Pitter, patter, pitter, patter – the noise is unrelenting. Finally, you open one eye, and then another. And that’s when you hear Aleena’s scream. The sound makes you a little sick to your stomach. Aleena is up, and shouting for everyone to get up. Her tone is obviously urgent. Looking around, you seem nothing at first except the bleak, jutting landscape of this dark alternate world. And then you notice it off in the distance – the ground seems to shift and move like a million blades of grass in the wind. But these aren’t blades of grass – they’re a swarm of spiders, the size of a fist, and there are thousands, maybe millions of them headed in your direction – a sea of spiders coming to devour you.”

Spider Swarm
Spider Swarm

The playing characters took their rest and woke up suddenly to Aleena shouting. They could see a huge sea of spiders coming across the valley. These were followed by monstrously sized spiders, possibly with Drow riders. The characters prepared for what seemed an inevitable onslaught of spiders, but were knocked unconscious by Aleena. She made a gesture and shouted that they had to go. Several of the playing characters started to run for the Well, but they were not able to make it before Aleena used an artifact to Dimensional Shift them back to their own Plane.

aleena2
ALEENA

“Aleena touches the fingers of her right hand to her head. “You must go!” she shouts. “You must go!” And that is when you realize that she hasn’t been talking to you at all. These are her thoughts in your head. She’s somehow speaking directly into your mind. She turned around, and waves her hand at you in a sweeping motion, and you hear her say one last time “GO!” before you are blasted off of your feet and you lose consciousness.”

Encounter Two:  KILL THE MESSENGERS

In this encounter, the playing characters did very well, again.  The encounter had them waking up, dazed and confused, in a damp, cold cave. Each playing character had been affected with Dimension Sickness due to Aleena’s casting them from one Plane to another. They all needed to make Constitution saving throws to recover.

All playing characters make DC 15 Constitution saving throws. Success means that they awaken, fail means that they are knocked out for 1d4 turns, plus the amount they failed the roll by. Meaning, DC 15 with a save of 13 is 1d4+2 turns knocked out.

The first thing they realized as they came to is that their whole bodies ached as if they were waking up the day after a long period of exercise. As they gathered their senses, they heard the distant peal of thunder and the fall of heavy rain. And they could hear someone talking … no whispering … nearby.

The playing characters make a Perception check DC 13. The playing characters use Wis/Int whichever is higher as bonus.

 As they recovered, they found themselves in a small, dark cave laying on the floor. They hear another peal of thunder, and realize that it’s raining heavily outside. Behind them, they noticed that there is a small opening that seems to lead downward into the darkness. To the other direction, they see the cave mouth and the source of the whispering they heard before. Outside of the cave, they saw several hunched figures standing over the bodies of slain Drow and Goblin zombies. The crouched figures whisper to each other, gesturing to the undead at their feet.

dndoriginalgrimlock
Grimlock Warrior

Undaunted by the rain, the five humanoids continue to whisper to each other. They could see that the creatures were muscular humanoids that resemble long haired Neanderthals with shark-like teeth and white, lidless eyes. These creatures, as Rippin knew, were called Grimlocks although Dwarves sometimes call them Morlocks. They use their crude weapons to poke at the corpses of the zombies as if looking for something of interest. One of them said something to the others, and looked off to the right.

 One of the Grimlocks stood up, and waved a hand towards some nearby boulders to the right. There in the cover of the rocky outcropping, were two cloaked figures: a rat-faced Drow male and a Drow female with small red horns protruding from her forehead. Further back, in the mist of the cool evening, sat a horse and its hooded rider.

 The female Drow walked slowly from the boulder to the Grimlocks. She moved with such grace that her steps do not leave tracks in the muddy ground below her. Her swaying hips were hypnotic. She spoke with the monstrous creatures in their own guttural tongue for a few seconds, and then began gesture in quick, odd finger motions towards the male Drow watching her at the rocky outcropping. One of the Grimlocks paused, and looked around, sniffing the air.

 The two Drow appeared to be using some kind of strange sign language to communicate. They continued to do this for a few seconds, as the hooded rider slowly moved towards the boulders to join the male Drow. As the horse padded closer, the heroes saw that the rider is a fair skinned High Elf with piercing green eyes and long, golden colored hair.

 “What have you learned?” asked the High Elf.

 The Drow Male responded quietly. “Apparently they are some of Murdergrave’s cabal. Worshippers of Orcus, no doubt.”

 The High Elf seems to consider this, and then spoke again. “Why would Murdergrave attempt a raid on the Council of Spiders? A waste of time, obviously.”

 The female Drow responded this time, taking a few steps away from the Grimlocks towards the two males. “Orcus does not support the Council, Aesir. He is one of the few Demon Lords who wish to oppose the Dark Queen in her lust for power.”

 “Yes,” commented the Drow male. “The attack itself was futile, but it spoke volumes. Orcus is displeased and wished to convey that fact.”

 The High Elf nodded, and glanced around. “How do we know that more of his wretches are not nearby, watching us?”

 Both Drow smiled at the same time.

“Let them come,” the female said bluntly. “We will add them to the pile.”

dndWarSpiderQueen1_1280x960_Wallpaper

At this point, the playing characters burst into action. Waldemar fired a total of four arrows, dropping two Grimlocks dead into the mud. Xe channeled his Thunderwave spell through this Owl familar who war overlooking all of these goings on from a safe tre branch. The Thunderwave smashed down on the three elves, and the Grimlocks with amazing force, hammering them all to the ground.

With all the baddies down and stunned, it was literally “rinse and repeat.” Waldemar fired four more times, finshing of several of the Grimlocks who were prone and savaged from the first Thunderwave. And Xe sent a second Thunderwave through his Owl, slamming down on the Grimlocks and Elves again. The crushing force killed most of the Grimlocks, but it wasn’t long before Chak and Rippin were able to finish them off with steely knives and axes. The only one that they left alive was the High Elf Aesir, who supposedly housed the demon Shuluth.

“The demon is using the High Elf like a puppet on strings,” explained Xe after a short time of study and research. “If we slay him, the demon will be able to pour from his body like it did when we killed Enoch.” Everyone understood what Xe was saying: Aasir had to be kept alive … for as long as possible.

Chak tied the High Elf up, and gagged him. He then went through the gruesome work of stabbing out his eyes, poking out his eardrums, and slicing the proper places to render his arms, hands, and legs useless. After binding his wounds, and making sure he would not die, Xe used the spellbook from The Tower Enoch. He sliced his hand, placed the blood on the pages of the spellbook, and wished for a spell to help him deal with Aesir and the demon. Xe watched as a spell materialized on the page, claiming that casting it would cause the victim to become catatonic and unable to move, lterally trapped in his own body. Xe reviewed the spell, and cast it upon Aesir. Thus, at that moment, Aesir became The Living Prison of Shuluth.

At this point, the heroes were faced with entering the Caves, and putting a stop to the Drow within.

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