Lord of the Black Sands

Session 55 (2023-02-11/Starday Gozran 2, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Carina, Erik, Lars, Molle))

After resting up they all headed for the Stone Tower. There they were welcomed by a group of Druids calling themselves the Circle of Empty Stones. The orb that had previously been at the tower had been removed by another faction of the druid circle for an even more important purpose (that they would not talk about)

The druids asked the group to bring up the orb from the vault if they could, but also said that the group just getting it's reflection would be enough for them to be able to complete their mission to save the island. Saving Willowside from the Veldt, however, would require the actual orb.

The druids gave them some items and formula to help them (antidotes) ward off the lethal effects of the strange radiation that suffused the Vault of the Black Desert, which also made teleportation magic difficult, and sometimes impossible. The druids performed a ritual that enchanted the stoneshifting ring so that they could use it to teleport between the Stone Tower and a location in the vault called the Crystal Hall, though farther in it would be impossible.

The group also learned that the vault is vast, and that they would be there for many weeks. They're going to where the orb is most likely kept, the Cradle Of Worms which is about 150 miles southwest of the entrance to the desert. The desert has creatures like cave worms, fungi,  urdefhan cults and something called Iffdahsil. Descriptions of Iffdahsil are muddled at best, as we are aware of no one who has encountered it and survived. Sources agree that if you hear a burbling, maddening cry, you should run—and not look back! They also recalled that there is a drow city called Shraen somewhere within the desert.

The druids read a poem written by a previous explorer, and said that they think the text contains clues to the location of the orb.  “The Azure Eye, Sunken Titan, and Crown of Teeth each gaze upon the legendary Xul-Khundur, but none can see it completely.”

Once at the Crystal Hall they found a nest of Cauthooj and, once those were slain, a blightburn genie that asked why they were here. Their answer - that they were here to take the orb - apparently provoked her greatly, for she attacked, and was eventually slain. The friendly crystal jackal that later approached them was instead fed some crystals and asked to remain behind, which it happily did, munching down on the tasty crystals.

They continued dow the tunnel for several days more until they came to a juncture where they found an iridescent garden populated with bloodthirsty plant creatures and Gogiteths that, while not cooperating, all tried to kill the intruders. A task at which they failed.

A nearby cave turned out to be a place of meditation that brought strange visions of a nightmarish tide of undead xulgaths cresting over the creature experiencing the vision like a gruesome wave; the image of a burning triangle with countless eyes; and a dead drow, their body wrapped in linen and face cast in shadow, speaking strange words.

The cave enables meditators to focus on any past memory and enhance it (in effect allowing a reroll on a previous Recall Knowledge.)

After some consideration they decided to make the cave a safe place to rest and meditate, by performing a heightened consecrate ritual. This ritual worked perfectly, and ended up not only becoming a sacred space for Pharasma for the next 10 years, but also covered with a Dimensional Lock that does not effect Pharasma worshippers, and, most importantly, allows the group to teleport from the Crystal Hall to the Iridescent Garden, saving them several days of travel when returning to the surface.

With the ritual done they rested and recuperated in the Magnificent Mansion that Cackle conjured.


Session 56 (2023-02-28/Starday Gozran 13, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Erik, Molle))

While Druzzt and Cackle stayed behind to properly set up a place of worship the others proceeded down the tunnel towards the vault. At the entrance to the vault they found it almost blocked by a huge set of stone doors, flanked by huge defaced statues of Xulgathi warriors. The ruins beyond turned out to be guarded by some strange spider-like aberrations. Once those were put down the group proceeded across what seemed to be the site an ancient battle, covered in skeletal parts, overwhelmingly of Morlock origin. Which of course rose up into the forms of two undead monsters called Warsworn (usually created by the direct intervention of a god of war and death, but sometimes rise spontaneously on the sites of important battles.) They too were not a match for the group, and were reduced to their component bones.


Session 57 (2023-02-28/Starday Gozran 13, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Carina, Erik, Lars, Molle))

After some scouting to both sides of the entrance into the vault they set up some trail signs to make it easy to group up in case they got split up.

They then continued to the southwest where they were soon attacked by a trio of purple worms. While fighting those they heard strange rumbling noises in the ground like if something even larger was tunneling it's way up underneath them. As it turned out that was the case. Iffdahsil came up under one of the purple worms, swallowing it whole, and started digesting it while staring at the group. The remaining worm fled, as did the party as it was obvious that being near Iffdahsil was not a survivable experience.

While Iffdahsil digested it's meal they continued to the soutwest, where they were soon attacked by Urdefhans. First a group of hunters on skavelings, and soon followed up by an Astradaemon supported by two dUrdefhan Dominators. After the group had solidly trounced the attackers yet another Dominator showed itself, announcing that the group was worthy of an audience with the Urdefhans war champion, Kharostan, and beckoned them to follow him. After some debate they did so.

The Urdefhans brought them to Spear Hill Camp where they were invited to rest up before the night's feast. At the feast they did very well at the various activities, earning great respect in the tribe. Eventually they were brought before Kharostan who after briefly listening to his advisers talked alone with the group. He told them that if they helped him he'd grant them free passage in the Urdefhans lands. They managed to both interrogate the prisoner and convince Kharostan to allow them to bring the prisoner with them. They learned a bit about Shraen (leadership, layout, slave armies, that he didn't know why Shraen sent a group to the Cradle of Worms).

After listening to their report Kharostan asked them to go to the Cradle of Worms and find out what Shraen forces were doing there. They accepted, and were accompanied by an elite Urdefhan hunter named Thaxon. (Respect

After several days of travel through the wasteland they got to the Cradle of Worms, a massive vegetation filled valley that somehow existed in the middle of the barren and poisoned wasteland. They could see the three landmarks the poem had mentioned (the azure eye deep in the valley and the crown of teeth and the sunken titan on the outskirts of the valley. They decided to head to the crown of teeth first. There Shrieky flew up to a platform high up in the crown of teeth where they found that someone had used this place to study the mating habits of cave worms as this was apparently their spawning site, taking notes in Draconic and Undercommon. They also found a single sentence in common written there: “The seven embrace the eighth. I came across this phrase while studying ancient scrolls. I knew it referred to the legendary Xul-Khundur, but I never understood its meaning until I looked east.” When they looked east they saw the tops of seven hills within the valley’s central jungle, which form a rough arc.

While Cackle was using Shrieky's eyes to see this a massive crimson worm attacked from below. All have acted in the first round of combat.


Session 58 (2023-03-14/Wealday Desnus 4, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Carina, Erik, Lars))

The great worm was soon dispatched and the group headed for the Sunken Titan where they found another clue. It's guardian - a crocodilian fiend of some sort - was equally easily put down in the apparent 'max dps contest' the group is having...

The Azure Eye turned out to be guarded by the ghosts of a number of former explorers that attempted to reach Xul-Khundur, but died on the way. They got little sense out of the ghosts, but a bardic lullaby soon put them to rest making it easy to find the last clue, pinpointing the loctaion of Xul-Khundur.

The group headed there, and we ended the session just as they first cast eyes on the temple.


Session 59 (2023-03-28/Moonday Desnus 16, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Carina, Erik, Lars,Molle))

When they approached the stairs that led up the pyramid Shrieky was attacked and killed by one of a pair of Lesser Deaths that guarded the stairs, they proclaimed that the group was not welcome here and should leave, which the group eventually did after it became clear that they were not likely to win this fight.

The following day they returned, now buffed to the limits, and fairly easily dispatched their opponents, after which they rapidly proceeded up the stairs, hoping to get more use of their buffs. At the top of the stairs was a small shrine to Zevgavizeb with an altar upon which lay an obsidian sword. They managed to get the sword out without triggering any guardian, but when Talmot actually entered the shrine, two obsidian constructs animated.

We ended here, Farlaf has not yet acted.


Session 60 (2023-04-11/Toilday Desnus 17, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Carina, Erik, Lars,Molle))

After the two constructs were smashed to bits they found a blood-filled chamber beneath the altar with 'islands' of skulls in the blood. High up in one corner a massive spiderweb with a human-shaped cocoon was stuck to the wall. They decided to leave that for now, and instead head into the pyramid.

Beyond the doors into the pyramid was a guard room decorated with carvings of xulgath warriors in bone armor killing and sacrificing various humanoid and animal prisoners. Several corpses of bone-clad xulgaths slumped around a table at the end of the room reacted to someone entering their domain, and attacked. It has so far been a brutal fight, and they have concentrated on taking down Farlaf, most likely because he is the one that is most heavily Drained by them.


Session 61 (2023-04-25/Toilday Desnus 17, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Carina, Erik, Lars,Molle))

They managed to take down the remaining undead xulgaths without losing anyone. Clearing out the rest of the floor they found the former treasure/tax/accounting room, which they looted at the price of Andrinal and Shrieky being cursed.

They rested for the night in their usual Mansion. Farlaf tried to remove the curses of Andrinal and Shrieky, but they are both still cursed.

On the floor below they found barracks filled with decayed armor and gear, the only still useful item being a Belt of Giant Strength.

The room across the hall had several death driders and a vampire drider that immediately attacked. The group wiped the floor with them, the vampire mistformed and is currently fleeing.

We ended here, Farlaf has not yet acted.


Session 62 (2023-04-29/Wealday Desnus 18, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Carina, Erik, Lars,Molle))

They followed the mistformed vampire to it's coffin, which unsurprisingly was in the blood chamber on the top of the pyramid. It was awoken by the heart-monster that lived in the blood, but after a tough fight they were both permanently slain and the group rested for the night.

After that they looted the priest's chambers and the library before going down the southern stairs. There they found and cleaned out the food and wine storage rooms before proceeding to the feast hall where they found and defeated for drow bodyguard golems. In the room beyond, entered after a rest, was another group of driders, a golem and their Duergar leader, Qormintur. A long and hard fight ended with Qormintur surrendering.

They suggested she go work for the Urdefhan Warlord, which she readily agreed on. In exchange for her freedom she told them a lot about Shraen, especially Dyzallin Shraen, her former master, including the fact that he had taken the orb back to Shraen for further study. (Details next session, was too tired...)

After that they decided to clean out the pyramid before leaving. First they entered the room that Quarmintur had said Dyzallin had peeked into and immediately left, saying that they'd handle that later. Maybe...

It turned out to contain a variante Quelaunt. Another hard fight brought it down.

After this hard work a bath seemed in order, so they headed to the worm-guarded baths, that was supposed to be a fairly easy fight, but I guess dice like me and dislike them, so there were several almost deaths, one of them by the accidentally summoned hostile animal that jumped into the fight.

Finally they rested again. Their guide told them she would be returning the the Urdefhans to report their success and recount all they had read and that she had heard to him. She liked the idea of the former right hand of Dyzallin joining the warlord and would be happy to bring Qormintur back to camp.


Session 63 (2023-05-06/->Wealday Desnus 19 to Oathday Sarenith 30, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Carina, Erik, Lars, Molle))

After buying a few things from the Urdefhan camp they headed to Shraen. On the way they learned quite a bit about it (see the Shraen document in the Notes journal) from the prisoner had freed who was now accompanying them back to his home.

Once in Shraen they took a room at the inn and then went shopping. Quickly establishing themselves as Very Good Customers they soon got the attention of Lavikar Shraen who among other things told them that Dyzallin and his seneschal Qormintur used to be regular customers, but haven't been seen for months. He said he'd mention their names to the ruling sisters of Shraen, but couldn't promise them an audience with them.

A visit to the slave markets, again proving themselves Very Good Customers, got them a score of Urdefhan slaves, and a variant doppelganger named Shajrah to lead them. Caiborn Shraen warned them that Dyzallin is dangerous and best avoided, but, sure, he'd mention them to Zyra and Nyrinda, but, as no-names, he didn't think it was likely the sisters would be interested.

Realizing that they needed to make themselves known, they talked with Zazivik at the Red Circus who, after they brought back his missing guardsman, was only too happy to let them entertain the crowds. They chose to not do so the traditional way - by killing off a bunch of fellow gladiators - but instead set up a series of shows that was soon the talk of the town.

And, soon enough, they were summoned to the palace. Once in the sister's presence - a vampire and a lich - they showed them proof that Dyzallin was working against them using the Orb. The sisters agreed to give them passes that would let them into the Forbidden Quarter. Though, the sisters - of course - will be very officially surprised to learn that someone had broken into Dyzallin's tower, killed him and taken the Orb *very* far away from Shraen. Without leaving anything traceable back to the sisters behind... The sigils that would let them into - and out of - the Forbidden Quarter are also Dispelling Slivers.

With the sigils in hand it was not difficult to get to Dyzallin's tower. On entering it they saw they were in an entrance hall filled with mirrors. Fro one of them a handsome drow man steps out of the mirror on the wall near the

staircase. Pieces of the skin on his face and arms begin to flake away as he moves, revealing the dried husk of a skull and withered flesh, but magic seems to repair his skin as it decays. While angrily glancing around the entrance hall, he demands answers in a cold voice. “I know you’ve been looking for me. I know you’re here for the orb. Who are you? Why is the orb so important to you?”

He was not satisfied with their answer and ordered his graveknights to attack while pretending to help out with buffing spells. On being attacked he exclaimed “Are you serious? This is an illusion, you daft sacks of flesh!” and stepped back into the mirror, the reflection briefly changing to show Dyzallin’s laboratory, including the aeon orb in a sphere of crackling energy.

After the graveknights were deefeated they proceed to the second floor, another well-mirrored room with a number of statues that turned out to be a stabbing sentinel trap, and a variant adamantine golem of Dyzallin's guarding the hall. They disabled the trap and eventually shut down the golem, setting up a slow drip of acid that would keep it from regenerating for quite some time, hopefully enough time that they wouldn't have to fight it again on the way down.

We ended here.


Session 65 (2023-05-23/Oathday Sarenith 30, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Carina, Erik, Lars, Molle))

One floor up was a mirror-walled rooom. Some of the mirrors showed an ideal you rather than the way you actually looked. Dyzallin walked out of a mirror and shouted, “Fools! Mortals! What are you trying to achieve? You’ll die here, and I’ll make mindless puppets out of your bodies. You will never get the orb. It is mine! I have already harnessed its power, and soon nothing can stop me! This city will be mine!” After the furious rant, the elf steps back into the mirror and vanishes.

After that, one of those mirrors periodically summoned evil twins of the party stepped out of the mirror dimension and tried to take the group down, while the twinned party member was pulled into.the mirror After a long and hard fight the party finally managed to put an end to their twins, reclaim their friends and smash the mirror. In a corner they found a Reflecting Shield.

While resting up they noticed beautiful music coming from the floor above.


Session 66 (2023-05-27/Oathday Sarenith 30-??, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Carina, Erik, Lars, Molle))

The music turned out to come from two banshee sisters, a violinist and a singer. While they seemed amenable to talking, when the party mentioned they were her to slay Dyzallin, the talk turned into action. At the end, only the party was left standing.

The next floor up was a chapel of bones guarded by four grave knights and a marilith, who was sorely disappointed - though at the end rather impressed - that she did not manage to slay any of the party before she was put to the sword.

After that, it was finally time to enter Dyzallin's laboratory. As they entered he again taunted them, stopping time itself to give him time to prepare for them, the orb spinning above him. Or, rather, where he had put a seeming of himself. What with being a master illusionist in a mirror-filled room. The party concentrated on taking down his summoned monsters, and shutting down the gate he used, before killing and looting him. As he died the essence of the orb travelled from them to him.

Fearing problems getting out of the city, specifically betrayal by the sisters, they opted to teleport out of the tower, knowing full well that it would most likely bring them to a random spot in the desert. After that they had an uneventful journey back to the surface, handed the orb to the grateful Circle of Stones. After this they headed for Absalom where they shopped their purses dry before starting on the final step of their quest to find and stop The Apocalypse Prophet.

While they do not have complete knowledge, they do know that the final tower is somewhere in the Kortos mountains, beyond the city of Diobel, in the general region of the First Guard Outpost.

TODO I forgot to ask for a DC 35 Gather Information (Diplomacy) check to find out a bit more.