Temple of Elemental Evil

5. The Town of Nolivari

3/12/11: We had four players tonight... We didn't get as much done as I'd anticipated. I'll squish what was left into the beginning of next time.

Carric Cendoria - Elf Seeker
Fayte Bonesunder - Human Paladin
Heron - Half-elf Fighter
Jurod/Jolene - Changeling Mage

* NPC Hirelings: Elmo the pandaman, Samira the cleric, Mardix the man-at-arms and later, Spugnoir the Mage. And later, Vellic the druid & Cadsvine Chaltz the seeker. 

The adventurers were on the haunted battlefield of Emridel Meadows. They still wanted to explore the crater where an illusory war was fought. They decided to go home, rest, and return the next day.

They walked to the gnome hills, where they'd left their horses. The strange gnomes stood outside, waiting with butterflies in their mouths. They were competing to see who could keep the butterfly in for longer. they explained to the heroes that the horses were unnerved, so they left them in the house. The children stood in closets, listening to make sure the horses were safe.

The adventurers did not know what to make of the gnomes. They got their horses. The father of the gnome family said he often had dreams where he was in a mist swirling around a stone throne, where a large black-skinned creature sat.  Jolene realized he was referring to Diinkaranzan, a mad god of derro (dark dwarves). Why the gnome dreamt of him, Jolene was not sure.

The heroes returned to Holmaren, and found that Fayte Bonesunder had been healed! She was with the town blacksmith. He was forging her a magic blade, adorned with many skulls. She rejoined the heroes. 

They visited with Canon Terjon at the Church of Clarissa. The heroes gave him his lost pendant. He took it and gruffly dismissed Samira. He also informed her that she could not leave town with the heroes, as she had work to do.

The heroes balked at Terjon's behavior, and he confessed that he was not happy running the church. The former head priestess, Canoness Y'day, had disappeared 6 months ago and Terjon was her successor. He had not planned on living in Holmaren. He explained that the Canoness' things were gone, as was she.

The heroes asked around town about her. There were rumors, but nothing concrete. 

The adventurers rested for the night. Mardix declined to spend the night with Jolene. She fell asleep and transformed in her sleep. Jurod awoke and joined the heroes, much to Mardix's dismay. 

They returned to Emridel Meadows. Spugnoir nervously entered the crater, but ran back out. He said the illusory ghost creatures reacted to him. Heron grabbed his hand and walked into the crater with the mage. They felt like they were transported back to the battle ten years ago. 

Nocticula, 15 feet tall, engaged a band of soldiers from Olwynn. She waved her hand and blinded many of them. She waved her hand again, and made others her thralls. One soldier, a bard, was unaffected. Nocticula was joined by genasis of fire, water, air and earth. They bore symbols of the four different elements.

The genasis slaughtered the blind. The lone bard looked at Heron and asked for help. A wind genasi tried to cast a spell, but Heron kicked and knocked it down. Spugnoir hit it with a magic missile. An earth genasi wrapped up the bard in shackles. A fire genasi cast a fire bolt at the poor bard. Heron stood in the way and took the blast. A water genasi stabbed the bard with an icy javelin.

Nocticula took notice, and leaned down, mocking the bard. She held up a golden skull with four gems embedded in its' temple. Heron swatted it out of her hand. She glared and roared in rage. The illusion faded, the ghostly bard stumbled out of the crater.

Heron stood over him. The ghost held out a quill and touched it to the fighter. A poem in glowing blue appeared on his arms. The ghost faded. The poem:

"The two united, in the past,
a Place to build and spells to cast
Their power grew, and took the land
and people round as they had planned

A key without a lock they made
of gold and gems, and overlaid
with spells, a tool for men to wield
to force the powers of Good to yield

But armies came, their weapons bared,
while evil was yet unprepared
The Hart was followed by the Crowns
and Moon, and people of the towns

The Two were split; one got away
but she, when came the judgment day
did break the key, and sent the rocks
to boxes four with magic locks

In doing so, She fell behind
as He escaped. She was confined
among her own; her very lair
became her prison and despair.

The Place was ruined, torn apart
and left with chains around the heart
of evil power - but the key
was never found in the debris

He knows not where She dwells today
She set the minions' path, the way
To lift her Temple high again
With tools of flesh, with mortal men

Many now have gone to die
in water, flame, in earth, or sky.
They did not bear the key of old
that must be found - the orb of gold

Beware my friend, for you shall fall
unless you have the wherewithall
to find and search the boxes four
and then escape forevermore

But with the key you might succeed
in throwing down her power and greed.
Destroy the key when you are done
and then rejoice, the battle won."

The adventurers returned to Holmaren to study the poem. Then they bid Spugnoir and Samira farewell. It was time to head to Olwynn, where Elmo was to report to his superiors. Elmo was hoping when he shared his knowledge of temple agents in Nulth that he'd be allowed to go there. His brother, Otis, was last seen in Nulth.

The heroes rode in their cart through the night on their cart drawn by a warhorse, a mule, and SkullStrider the skeletal horse. At about 1 AM, they heard flapping from above - a dragon! The horse and mule panicked. The cart flipped over. Carric was able to calm them before they dragged the cart off the road and into the woods.

The dragon had a rider - a knight from Olwynn. He laughed and apologized for scaring their horses. "I am Sir Lohim, from the city of Olwynn, wielder of Retorter one of the seven swords of answering. Hail King Thennrynnia! Be you friend or foe?"

The heroes greeted him in a friendly manner. He explained that he was searching for missing people - Lord Thrommel of Olwynn, wielder of Fragarach, another of the swords of answering and one Lady Tralahi..

Carric heard the name and could not help but think of his past - the days in which he dwelled in the elf forest far to the west.

He lived high in a tree with his uncle Corning. Both of them had the cursed mark of Galasis on them, because of shame brought on them by Carric's Aunt Lia (she abandoned the heroes in the Scales of War campaign).  Uncle Corning hated elves, he hated galasis, and he'd beg Anjou for aid and then curse her out when nothing happened. He also talked frequently of wanting to burn down Falcon's Nest, a nearby grey elf village. 

One day Corning said, "Carric why don't you go out and hunt us some lunch? And if you see any elves, why don't you shoot them in the knees... see how long they survive... like we do. Right in the fucking knee. We're livin out here like fuckin animals. Shittin in any hole we can find, wipin our asses with poison ivy!"

Carric was used to the ranting. He headed into the forest, hoping to find some delicious deer. But after a bit of searching, he heard the scream of a female elf. He peered through the brush, and saw an Ormyrr attacking a beautiful female elf riding a unicorn. Her two male allies were dead on the ground nearby. 

Carric knew that Ormyrrs were obsessed with magic, but were very poor at using it. They often would capture magic creatures and try to learn their ways. 

The Ormyrr wrapped its' tail around the female and began to crush her. Carric raced out to help her. The Ormyrr saw Carric and dropped her. The unicorn stood over her protectively. 

The Ormyrr flung a boulder at him, and he nimbly dodged. Then it closed in on him, and stabbed him with its' two swords. hen it tried to wrap its' tail around him, to crush him to death. 

Uncle Corning had told him stories about Ormyrrs trying to mate with wyverns in the hope of creating flying Ormyrr. Carric remembered his uncles graphic description of Ormyrr genitalia. He grabbed it and tore it from the Ormyrr's body, killing it. (George described determining it's sex as "sexing it").

The female elf was hurt very badly. As Carric approached, the unicorn reared up. It lowered it's horn at Carric. Carric told it he was a friend. It softened. Carric heard more Ormyrr's nearby. The unicorn placed the tip of it's horn on his palm, and created a magic star mark on his hand.

Carric grabbed the girl and rode the unicorn back to Uncle Corning's. For three days, they tended to her wounds. When she finally awoke, she thanked them. Her name was Trilahi. She explained that her family was thinking of forming a town here called Ashwood Bend. Corning was furious. Soon she wanted to explore the area with Carric.

Corning pulled Carric aside. He said maybe they could have a kid that "won't have that fuckin mark on his face thanks to fuckin Galasis!" He looked up at the sky. "Fuck you Galasis! Anjou, Take the mark off my face! ... Bitch! Arrow of Fate my ass! Right up yer ass!"

As they rode, trilahi explained that her family wanted her to marry a tiefling from Korvosa. He had a lot of money he could put into the town. She thought he seemed nice, but confessed that now she's met Carric and isn't so sure about the whole arrangement. 

Carric explained the mark on his face, and the curse... and then, elves burst from the woods. It was Trilahi's brother, and Juffer the tiefling from Korvosa and some elf hunters. They'd been searching for Trilahi. They took aim at Carric and told him to get off the unicorn.

Uncle Corning burst from the woods. He pulled out three arrows and tried to shoot them all at once. "Here's a little trick I never tried before!" He fired them... and each arrow hit and killed an elf hunter! The brother, Juffer, and the last elf hunter were shocked. They returned fire and plugged Corning full of arrows. Carric got off the horse and told the unicorn to take Trilahi away.

Carric's star mark began to glow. He realized that the unicorn had shared its' power to teleport with him! He activated it, and appeared in a shimmering glade in The Feywild.

He eventually made his way back to the world of Nyrod, but he never found out what happened to Trilahi... until now...

The heroes hadn't seen Thrommel or Trilahi. Sir Lohim also mentioned a bounty on a half-orc woman who disguised herself as an elf. 

The adventurers said goodbye to Lohim and traveled through the night. By mid-morning the next day, they could see Nolivari up ahead. Before it was a strange translucent tree with green and yellow veins running inside it. It was tended by a druid called Vellic.

Vellic greeted the heroes and explained that the tree and others like it in Nolivari grew after Anjou visited the town over 100 years ago in search of the blur dragon Kazavon. the heroes offered for him to join them (as without Samira, they were short a healer). He was more than happy to join them.

The heroes approached Nolivari, which was surrounded by tall wooden walls. Three Witchwardens (spell-casting guardians) were atop the wall. Two of them were elves, and they noticed Carric's mark. They refused the heroes entry. The third witchwarden, a female called Zyla, worshiper of Zev, over-ruled them and said she'd let the heroes into Nolivari as long as she could accompany them to make sure they didn't cause trouble.

The heroes agreed. The elves were not happy. Zyla's imp introduced himself - he was Dankweeper the Conspirator.

She led the heroes around town. The adventurers stopped at many places....

Arachnatire (spider web clothes): They picked up some headbands, and Fayte had them make a banner with a dragon skull on it the drow owner kicked out Jurod for asking about Lolth - the drow goddess who had created the curse of stone which plagued the people of the world. 

Lira's Fury (painter of shields and armor): The painter put a scene on Heron's armor of boats, water and fish. He also added more skulls to Fayte's armor.

Town Square: Fayte picked up a 10 foot pole. Heron and Fayte also picked up minty rub - a cure for groin odors. They reasoned that it might come in handy one way or another.

The Hungry Tarrasque: Ate a large, mediocre meal of meat.

The Copper Lute: Sang for a free meal. Heron tore the house down with a fun and then horrifying sea shanty. Fayte followed up with a rocking tune about Wyverns and unicorns and "meethreel"...

Inn of the Black Hart: The adventurers settled in and chatted with local hunters, as well as a spoiled traveling noble boy. He bet the heroes they couldn't name tiamat's three 3-headed children. Vellic did so, and the boy coughed up 60 gold and stormed out.

During the time shopping and exploring, Jurod began to scheme. He realized that Zyla had helped the heroes just to make the elves miserable. She worshiped Zev, and they worshiped Galasis. They were rivals.

While the others were singing for meals, Jurod left and headed toward the Inn of the Black Hart. Zyla accompanied him, wary. Her imp, Dankweeper, stayed with the heroes. Jurod told her a lie: "I've been in the temple, and I've seen a statue of Zev in it. Why would that be?"

Zyla said, "If Zev was interested, I'm sure it's just to get the treasure."

"...or perhaps he's in cahoots with whoever's involved with the temple," replied Jurod.

"If he was doing that, I'm sure I'd get a vision from Zev to tell me so."

"How often do you have visions?"

"Never. But I do have an imp. And my imp doesn't trust you."

Jurod then used his power as a changeling to transform his face into Zev's. He shivered and twitched as though he was being possessed by the deity. "Zev" turned to Zyla and said, "Do not question him. Aid him in any way you can."

Zyla stammered "Of course, mighty Zev!". Then Jurod changed back and acted like he didn't know what just happened. She believed it completely and from then on became loyal to Jurod, who she thought was somehow "chosen" by Zev for great things.

Once all of the heroes were at the inn, they were challenged by local elves to a game of tug of war. If the heroes lost, Carric would have to leave Nolivari, never to return.  The heroes won, and the elves coughed up gold. The elves started strong, but their endurance was poor. In the end, while Fayte lost her grip, Heron took up the slack and gave a mighty tug that made the difference.

When they returned to the inn, a new patron was at the bar - a voidsoul genasi. His clothes were somewhat similar to the temple soldiers that they'd seen at Emridel Meadows. 

A shadar kai burst into the inn. He wore a wide-brimmed hat, and a high-collared cape. He said to the genasi: "I am the judge Cadsvine Chaltz, dispenser of justice for the Raven Queen. You abducted a leper and brought him to the ruins in the forest.  I have decided you are unfit to live." He aimed his crossbow at the back of the voidsoul.

Heron stepped up and said that he wanted to hear the evidence first. The voidsoul took the opportunity to use his innate ability to fade from existence. The Judge leveled his crossbow at Heron and said "Obstruction of justice. The penalty - death."

He fired a bolt into Heron and the heroes started to fight him. But then, the voidsoul appeared behind a barmaid. He put a knife to her throat. He told everyone to clear the exit. Carric stood in the doorway. The judge said "If it is the Raven Queen's will, she too will die." and fired a bolt at the genasi. The genasi slit her throat as the bolt hit him in the temple and killed him.

Vellic raced over and used his healing acorn to save her. His job done, Cadsvine stepped outside.

The heroes pursued him and sorted things out. They offered for him to join. He accepted. 

The heroes retired to their rooms. That night, Jurod had a visitor. Zyla, with Dankweeper. Jurod did not want the imp to speak, and during the course of the day, he had spoke a few times. Jurod ordered Zyla to cut out his eye. He did so. Poor Dankweeper couldn't help but scream, even though he was told not to make a sound.

Then Zyla disrobed and offered herself to Jurod. 

Jurod looked at her and said, "You embarrass yourself, woman. You don't interest me in the slightest." Then she left with her imp, humiliated. Jurod was amused.

The heroes realized that the genasi was likely affiliated with the temple. They thought it might be a good idea to check out the ruins that the genasi had brought the leper to.

Cadsvine explained that the ruins were once home to a dwarven mage called Palmir who was obsessed with proper manners.

The adventurers made their way through the forest and came upon a building built into a cliff wall. Leading to it was a crumbling bridge that crossed a stream. The stream ended in a plunging waterfall nearby. 

Many orcs were guarding it. Four archers were perched on smaller buildings. Other savages lurked below, along with their trained boar and their leader, Tuthak. All of the orcs had flaming eyes painted on their faces.

As the heroes crossed the bridge, the archers fired volleys of arrows that sunk into the adventurers in a devastating attack. 

Fayte healed herself, jumped the hole in the bridge, and killed two savages as they charged her. The boar charged her, but Jurod hypnotized it with a spell and knocked it prone.

Heron joined her, killing two savages. He was then struck by many blows.  The judge teleported across to help while arric traded volleys with the archers.

Jurod quietly slipped into a building to avoid the arrows, and order Madix not to cross the bridge in case he had need of him. Mardix cursed Jurod's cowardice, and eventually crossed the bridge anyway. Vellic the druid tried to help, but was plugged full of arrows and nearly died on the bridge.

Carric killed one archer... then another. The heroes finishe doff the boar and swarmed Tuthak. Fayte bloodied him with a slice, and then Mardix finished him off. Heron made his way up a battlement and killed the last archer with his staff.

It was a savage battle. The heroes were hurt. They paused to bandage their wounds before heading inside....