Caught in the Crossfire

Episode Ten: Undeath in the Desert
Swirling Sands and Hordes of Zombies

Following their elevation to paragon-status heroes of the land after their cleansing of the Garden of Graves, the members of the Silver Hand Time Department were contacted by Artaxerxes. He relayed information on behalf of the Syndicate of Khan.

An expedition, co-sponsored by the Syndicate of Khan and the mages of the Winter Circle—powerful wizards from across the sea, from the Western continent—was sent to investigate certain sites in the eastern deserts. However, they’ve missed their past three status reports and have not been reached through any magical means. Worse, the scouting party sent to investigate has not returned.

The party traveled into the eastern deserts and met with Philoxerxes, who had dug in with a small group at an advance camp. Philoxerxes mentioned his loss of all his forward scouts towards a dig site containing mysterious ancient ruins and noted the apparent symptoms of madness brought on by unknown forces in the swirling sands.

The party advanced towards the dig site through a near sandstorm only to find it abandoned; though they did manage to recover some digging equipment. However, while exploring the camp a massive horde of undead began encircling the area. Seeing no other option, the party retreated into the subterranean caves beneath the dig site.

Hoskar and Nathaea investigated some restorative blue moss while Adrian Belwynn scouted a sealed door emanating necrotic energy. Finding no way through the solid stone door, the party scouted southwards in the caverns to find a group of beleaguered scouts from the Syndicate of Khan. A distressed man named Salazeer claimed to lead them but seemed to being going mad. Several wounded scouts were healed by Hoskar from wounds suffered battling the undead. The party determined that Salazeer was deranged or mind-controlled and disarmed him and restrained him so the surviving scouts could hole up and await its return from the depths of the caverns.

Episode Nine: Season 1 Finale
The One Where Nathaea Tried to Kill Ruff Gruff

With the party still wrapped up in combat with the Ivy Heart and its undead companions, and with healing surges winding dangerously low, things looked grim for the group to successfully conquer the Garden of Graves.

With some bold early maneuvers, the party managed to clean up the Firbolg Shell and the remaining Zombie Knight, leaving just the big bad evil guy to deal with. Unfortunately, the Ivy Heart had many tricks up its sleeve. With vines lashing out and poisoning, dazing, and grabbing nearly everyone, despite Ruff Gruff‘s valiant tanking and Shiva’s heroic entry into the fray, things looked grim after the Warden fell unconscious. The wizard, Percival, had a last power, his flaming sphere, which he launched at the mass of ivy and vines that slowly burned it away and dealt much damage.

Nathaea, thinking she might escape or help the combat in some way, grabbed the Platinum Key from Ruff Gruff’s unconscious body and attempted to open the bolted doors at the south end of the chamber, only to discover that the door shot lightning back at her, and the whole area around her. With the lightning trap now activated, the ivy heart shoved its grabbed victims towards the door’s radius. Luckily, the party managed to slay the beast without any of its downed members quite perishing.

After the difficult fight, the party discovered the Eldritch Engine and destroyed it, bringing down the entire complex behind them. They also sensed a great anger at their success, coming from across a vast distance that they could only barely perceive. They returned to the Fey Portal and went back to Ereis’s Landing to report their activities to Artaxerxes. While they have defeated the problem plaguing the woodlands, what part it plays in the larger context remains to be seen….

Episode Eight: Wild at Heart
Healing Surges? Uh Oh...we don't have no steenkin' healing surges left.

With the party having rested in the tapestry room within the Garden of Graves at the end of last session, they made their way forward into the room with the dais, the 3 small cairns, and the 1 large cairn. While the rest of the party attempted to analyze the runes on the walls and determine the nature of the oddly placed cairns inside the complex, Nathaea opted to move west into the open-ceiling chamber with ivy growing on the walls.

As she did so, however, 3 zombie knights crawled out from the smaller cairns and a Firbolg shell erupted from the larger cairn on the dais. The party quickly locked into battle with the soldier-y undead knights and the healing surge-sucking firbolg shell. Already embroiled with these feisty foes, the party was then confronted by a mass of ivy assembling into a shambling mound…THE IVY HEART. This controller creature began slashing vines in and out of the fray while grabbing and poisoning members at great reach.

The battle was touch and go for some time as the sides traded blows. After downing one of the zombie knights, the party learned that only with a killing blow of fire or radiant damage would the undead stay down. With that knowledge in hand, 2 zombie knights have been slain for good, but 1 remains, as does the firbolg shell. Will the party finish the fight and slay the ivy heart defending the inner sanctum of the Garden of Graves? Or will they fall and become new undead denizens of this foul place?

Episode Seven: Death in the Dark

So after mastering the perfidious death-trapped game tables last time, the party continued further in to the massive dungeon complex in the Garden of Graves. Just around the corner from the game room, Percival found a mechanical lever which he immediately pulled downwards. This lead to an echoing creaking noise coming from down the passage (back towards the tapestry room).

Before the party could go explore the noise, however, the room of twisting walls went dark briefly. When the darkness lifted, each party member found an exact look-a-like of themselves standing adjacent. The nature of the illusion was so strong that it was difficult to attack the evil twin rather than a fellow party member! While Percival managed to cleverly dispel the illusion on his doppelganger, which revealed it to be a Spriggan (a twisted gnome of the fey), everyone else had to slog through combat not recognizing friend from foe. Shiva charged into the fight late, but despite clobbering multiple foes to death, she almost did more harm to the party by downing Rosin the Bow and nearly doing the same to Ruff Gruff through her inability to distinguish them from their evil counterparts.

Despite these setbacks the party successfully slew their look-a-likes and took a much needed extended rest. Despite poor guard-duty by Nathaea, the party awoke without issue, but suffered a loss of 2 healing surges due to the overwhelming necrotic energies of the complex. After a slight misadventure in finding a trapdoor that led out the cave Ruff Gruff had previously explored, the party rendezvoused back in the tapestry room where they found a new passage opened thanks to the lever pull. Shiva peeked her head in to the next room and saw a raised dais, and some cairns, and a central structure with ivy growing all over it, but decided to retreat to the tapestry room to plan the group’s next move.

Episode Six: Puzzles and Games
Do you believe in the heart of the cards?

Following last week’s confounding inter-planar business, the party found a room full of tapestries and delved further into the complex of the Garden of Graves. One in particular seemed to depict the very key they had fished from the bottom of the water serpent pool. Additionally one hid a part of the room that held a torch and number puzzle, with shadows being able to be cast upon either of two sets of the numbers 1-12, one set in iron the other in brass.

Hoskar, deciding that boldness counted for more than caution, let his shadow be cast upon number 8 of the iron set. His decision triggered an attack by Mad Wraiths that quickly surrounded the party. Luckily for the group, Nathaea quickly realized this puzzle’s connection to the sundial they had previously seen and teleported away from the battle to try and determine the correct number. In the meantime the party engaged the wraiths, who dealt psychic damage and could turn party members against one another by confusing their minds.

Nathaea’s efforts allowed her to calculate the time, based on the sundial position, to be 7 in the morning. Hurrying back she relayed the message to the group to focus their shadows on the number 7 in the brass set of 1-12. Hoskar, deciding to right his previous error, successfully solved the puzzle by doing so…thereby both banishing the wraiths and unlocking a secret door on the other side of the room.

Following a narrow hallway down a ways past the secret door, the party was drawn in by unusual sounds for a dungeon coming from a nearby room: that of a fancy casino party. Once drawn into the room however, the group was quickly dominated by the 5 trapped game tables. They had to play or die trying. While Nathaea and Ruff Gruff challenged the phantom opponents in Scrabble, Hoskar focused his efforts on Mancala. Meanwhile, Percival and Rosin spent their time on the Roulette wheel. While the first 3 tables were defeated without too many failures or setbacks, the subsequent games of chess and poker taxed the party to the limit as the group’s gaming abilities did not allow them much room for failure. With their healing surges stretched to the limit, they were able to just defeat their phantom opponents. They easily gathered 600gp worth of golden game pieces scattered across the game tables for a well-earned reward before taking a rest in the luxurious game room until next time…

Episode Five: Planar Confusions
Inter-Planar Party Splitting!

So after last week’s epic duel with the lamia, Elesdri, the party took it’s first extended rest in the Garden of Graves, only to discover that the necrotic energy of the zone was slowly depleting their healing surges.

They detrapped (via explosion) the flame jet trap that defended the curious sundial. They also bested the Water Serpent trap in the adjoining room and snagged the platinum key that lay at the base of the pool. This didn’t happen without some hijinks resulting from being transported out into the flowing river, dangerously close to the 60 foot waterfall. But luckily no member of the party quite went over the falls.

Proceeding to explore a curious cave-like building across the river, the party soon found themselves split amongst 3 dimensions due the the nature of the building’s entrance portals. While one of the dimensions seemed like an abandoned tomb in the mortal realm, the other two planes produced feelings of despair and hopelessness. One contained twisted Grey Angels and a series of teleporting statues, while the other contained powerful skeletal guardians and a set of burial niches that had been defiled and broken apart, with their remnants scattered in a nearby room. Finding themselves spread thinly across the various encounters, the party opted to eventually retreat northwards (after finding a hidden teleport circle of unknown use and looting the bodies of some luckless previous adventurers) to a room full of tapestries.

Episode Four: Damsel (or party?) in Distress
Lamia are Icky

So after ending last week’s session with the party split up, the members of the The Silver Hand Time Department who were in the room with the chained Eladrin woman realized she was deceiving them about something. Hoskar then backed away towards the brazier at the north end of the room, only to get singed by a pressure-plate fire trap that was protecting the sundial.

The chained woman, who had revealed her name to be Elesdri, sensing your growing mistrust, then transformed into her true form of a lamia, a fey-origin scarab monster that eats people. Gross. So Percival Planeshift, Rosin the Bow, and Hoskar all tried to manage the fight against Elesdri and her scarab swarm ally while the rest of the party ran as fast as they could to get into combat.

After many hijinks last time on the rope bridges, Nathaea and Shiva hustled on over to join in the fray without any issue. However, Ruff Gruff suffered a few setbacks in his trek to join the battle both nearly falling off the cliff and just barely making a jump across the flowing river.

With the whole team in combat, the battle seemed to be surely won, however Elesdri proved a more wily foe than the party was prepared for, here at the end of their day with many powers and surges already expended. She stunned and poisoned most of the PCs, and while all came close to dropping, it was only poor Shiva who fell in combat but was saved by timely intervention by the party cleric. After much combat, the party realized that with her weakness to blast attacks, if they threw Elesdri into the fire trap, it might speed her demise. With a good bit of teamwork, Ruff Gruff and Shiva tossed her into the fire trap and with the help of everyone else managed to pin her down and finish her off. So now they sit, bloodied and battered and in need of rest, in front of the swinging brazier and the perilous fire trap. Oh and there was a room with a weird pool of water and a key……

Episode Three: Beggars of Stone and Campfright
Statues, Obelisks, and Bridges...oh my!

Having discovered the Fey Crossing which in turn led them to the Garden of Graves during their previous encounter, The Silver Hand Time Department proceeded to begin exploring the massive Garden complex.

The first obstacle was a seemingly impenetrable wall of statues in the entrance cave. However, after some acute perception and arcana checking, as well as some well-thought out conclusions about the poem they had found outside the cave, Ruff Gruff wisely placed a copper coin in the outstretched hand of the wizened crone statue. This led to the trio of statues swinging harmlessly aside and allowing unmolested passage forward. Behind the statues, Shiva managed to pick up a Skewering War Pick for potential future use.

The party then split up some to explore the forested area at the base of a cliffside. Ruff Gruff as fascinated by a cavemouth some 50 feet above, while the rest of the party split off to look at an obelisk in a clearing and an apparently abandoned campsite. The obelisk was figured out to be a sleep-magic trap by Percival Planeshift, but the trap was compounded by the ruins of the campsite coming to life and attacking the party! With multiple burst and blast spells, the party shook off the dangers of the camp and Shiva managed to finally climb to the top of the obelisk and wrench open its magical eye to deactivate the trap.

Then, after a brief rest, the party split into three directions, perhaps unwisely so, to further explore. Ruff Gruff climbed into the cave only to find it as an exit only and not offering any new paths forward. He then managed to barely climb the rest of the steep cliff-face to the top of the Garden complex. Further to the east, Shiva and Nathaea attempted to traverse precarious rope bridges from the recently discovered map room in an attempt to make it to the top of the cliff face as well. Unfortunately, both ended up slipping and nearly falling multiple times. Finally, northeast of their position, Percival, Hoskar, and Rosin the Bow had found a building filled with twisting walls and arcane ruins. Percival had found a room with an odd water basin and rivulets running along the floor, while Hoskar had just found a swinging brazier over a sundial and a chained Eladrin woman pleading for help…

Now, with the party split far and wide, what challenges await them next time?

Episode Two: Tracking the Trouble to the Source
Finding the Fey Crossing

The Silver Hand Time Department gradually finished off the Harpy and Dryad enemies from last time. However, whenever one of the enemies was dropped to 0 HP, it seemed to be held up by wisps of astral power and took one final round of action in its newly undead state before finally collapsing into undeath.

After taking some time to welcome new members Shiva and Nathaea and returning member Hoskar, the original trio of Rosin the Bow, Ruff Gruff, and Percival Planeshift explained the current mission they were on to seek out and solve the problem of the maddened fey.

After taking a short rest to recoup their health and power, the party began to use their nature, arcana, and perception skills to track the origin of these fey within the forest to their source. Some members climbed tall trees and hillsides to help give an aerial view of the forest while others chatted up nearby lumber camp workers to see if they had any information on the source of the trouble. All signs pointed to a small clearing in the far northeastern forest where a small bough of trees grew together in a planar gateway to the feywild: a Fey Crossing.

After some debate about going through, following the lead of the party’s two Eladrin members, everyone went through into the Feywild. From there they followed a well-beaten path to the Garden of Graves.

Episode One: Woodland Woes
Encounter with the Maddened Fey

The Silver Hand Time Department (as your group has apparently come to be known) met with Artaxerxes, guildmaster of the Syndicate of Khan office in the merchant district in Ereis’s Landing. He offered you the quest of tracking down a problem in the forest past the lumber camps to the northeast of town. Apparently maddened fey creatures were crossing the planes into this realm and creating a dangerous zone in the forest. He asked you to search the area for signs of why the attacks were happening and if necessary to seek out the source of the problem.

(Background info: The shade of Kupra Khan, the copper dragon and member of the syndicate of Khan, had previously done you a favor on your mission to Plunder Isle to recover property for the Oglethorpe Trading Company. Taking on this quest for the Khanate would be returning the favor.)

Artaxerxes hinted that he feared the Oglethorpes were involved in the trouble and that it may be linked to your previous excursion to that part of the forest when you slew the drow sorceress Maexxena and her undead and spider minions.

The party traveled to the woods and discovered a clearing which had a lingering sense of fey magic in the air. The clearing contained what appeared to be the bodies of three young woman, but when the party approached, 3 quite alive Dryads rose in their place having used the illusion to set the stage for an ambush. The party remains engaged in combat with the Dryads and their Harpy allies, though the party has been reinforced by newcomers Shiva the barbarian and Nathaea the artificer in the meantime.


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