The World of Arith

The Epistles of Tostig I
Dearest Toldara I send greetings from Hillsborro. The Kron Hills are lovely this time of the year. I have found an extract from a particular thornbriar plant the local yokels affectionatly call blacknettle that would really catalyze well with certain beauty tinctures you peddle on the side, look into it. Hope all is well. Give my affection to your little ones and especially to Hrothgo on the liberation of his Canton. My idea to take up the adventurer had turned into a grand decision. I have formed a company, I rather like to call Tostig’s Terrors, and our escapades have garnered a small amount of glory and treasure. I am setting up roots and entertaining ambitious goals. My path has taken me to the borders of our Kingdom and beyond. Father would be proud. For now I understand that animus of glory, the sparkle of his eye, that surfaced when he told his tales of Marston. I cannot wait to see you again. May the Maker of Makers shower you with Blessings!! With love always, Your Little Tosty!
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Back to Hillsboro - The Temple Attacks

Comfortable that the Pit offered no new treasures or rewards if found by another – less savory – band, they companions started their return trip to Hillsboro. After two days of travel, they were an hour out of the village when a fireball erupted in the middle of the group. Soon surrounded by eight bandits, led by a cleric of Erythnul and backed up by a mage of some power, the party fought for their lives. The bandits began to fall quickly, but the dark priest’s silence spell and his healing of the brigands made the battle tougher than it should have been. In addition, the mage blasted the party with spells from afar. Adran and Tostig were their initial targets, and Adran was rendered unconscious more than once from the barrage of magic and steel.

Using a potion of invisibility, Keegen moved into an advantageous location and kept the enemy mage occupied while the rest of the party cleaned up the cleric and his bandits. Soon their enemies were defeated.

However, on arriving in Hillsboro, they were visited by Malgosa who explained that two days ago, another group of dark clerics and undead attacked the ruined outpost. Stopping to rest one night, they set out the next day to retake the outpost yet again. Coming through the secret tunnel, they attacked the outpost from below and disrupted the planned ambush set for them.

Returning to Hillsboro, they spoke with Lord Brand and all agreed, it was time to see what was happening at the ruins of the Temple of Chaos. And if necessary, take the fight to the enemy.

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The Serpin Lexicon

After defeating the skeletons, the party discovered that the back of the ogre’s sarcophagus was hinged. There was an octagonal indent which Tostig assumed was some type of key that would unlock the hidden door.

Venturing back past the entry shaft, the party encountered two archways across from one another. As they investigated the archways, an unusually fast and capable zombie attacked from the room on the right. Once battle had begun and the companions were focused on the room on the right, a spellcasting ghoul attacked from the left-hand room.

Once the undead were defeated, the party continued on until the found what was obviously the high priest’s chambers. On the back wall, they spotted an eight sided sapphire necklace, below which was a riddle inscribed on the wall with a line underneath for an answer. Eldwinn reached up and grabbed the necklace, and at the same time his hand passed right through it, three minor demons (dretches) appeared and attacked the party. While they quickly figured out the answer, nothing they did to inscribe the answer seemed to work. Finally Adran thought about inscribing the answer in blood. The amulet fully materialized and they were able to take it.

Deeper in the Pit, they found the shrine of Imbrindarla and under the gaze of her idol was a glass coffin-like box with no seams or other openings which contained a large tome. The outside of the glass box had an octagonal indentation that the party determined was the exact size and shape as the sapphire amulet. Placing the amulet in the indentation opened the box and Keegen laid his hand on the Serpin Lexicon, the unholy tome of Imbrindarla. Paging through it, Keegen was amazed at the powerful rituals and spells both divine and arcane penned in the tome and looked forward to copying these powerful magics.

Past the shrine, they came upon a strangely shaped room, which Keegen quickly identified as a summoning chamber. What the other members of the party did not see was that Keegen looked into three outer planes because he carried the Serpin Lexicon. In an effort to show how powerful the tome was, Keegen looked into the landscape of the Abyss and called three dretches over the boundary. Once the dretches were defeated, the party pulled Keegen from the summoning room forcefully.

Realizing that they hadn’t found the famed “treasures” of the cult of Imbrindarla, they made their way back to the ogre’s sarcophagus and they found that the amulet opened the way to a tunnel leading to an underground lake. They had no way besides swimming of traversing the lake, so they split up and went searching the chambers already visited for any way past the waters. Soon Keegen found a magical feather token, while he initially said it was delivered by the pack rats, he actually found it in the slave pens (and was seen by Adran through the viewing mists).

With the party now suspicious of their little friend, Keegen then went on to explain that there were beings trapped in the Serpin Lexicon who spoke to him and gave him advice. He used a ritual to turn the lexicon into one of the patches on his robe of useful items before they used the feather token to conjure a swan boat on the underground lake.

Following the underground lake, they came upon an island filled with urns and chests. As they approached the island, a skeleton burst out of the water and latched onto Adran’s leg. The skeleton began draining blood even as the party pounded it with spells and steel. Soon the skeleton began growing ligaments, flesh and muscle on its bones and in less than thirty seconds had drained enough blood to change into a vampire. Luckily for the party, they had done enough damage to reduce the vampire to mist, which glided over to Keegen and disappeared into his robes.

Knowing now that the Serpin Lexicon had places for fiends and other entities, they party assumed that the high priest – now a vampire – used the evil tome as its coffin. They gathered the treasures of the cult and made they’re way up to the light of the sun. And in the daylight, burned the Serpin Lexicon. Creatures from the Abyss and Baator appeared and were banished back to their home planes until finally, the high priest of Imbrindarla appeared in full regalia. Under the light of the sun, he began to burn and soon was reduced to ash. Keegen was heartbroken at the loss of the spells inscribed in the tome, but realized that carrying a vampire around may not have been the safest choice.

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The Pit

Traveling northeast from Henular’s Tower, the party unwittingly fell into the Pit’s guardian, an ancient hangman tree. At first the fight went poorly, Adran was swallowed and had to cut himself free. Luckily Henular’s strategy of chopping off its vines worked, but not before Keegen and Hrun hung from the tree as well.

Once all of the tree’s vines were removed, Tostig was able to revive his companions and they were ready to brave the Pit.

Lifting the large stone plug, they found a shaft heading straight down into the darkness. They dropped a torch which showed a floor about sixty feet down until it just disappeared. Seconds later, they heard a splash. Eldwinn lowered himself to explore, soon followed by Adran. The air was musty and it was obvious that nothing had been disturbed for centuries. Taking one of the two passages, the found a storeroom across from a kitchen area. Rats entered and left the storeroom from a crack in the far wall. The rats exhibited strange behavior and would “trade” small coins for items from their lair. Keegen was enthralled and kept returning to these packrats to see what else they would bring.

While Keegen played with the packrats, Adran forged ahead into an area of magical darkness. He found some slaves quarters on one side of the darkness and a room full of skeletons down another passage. He was quickly surrounded by the skeletons and when the others joined the battle, they could not escape the area of darkness. It soon became clear that the skeletons were completely comfortable in the darkness, giving them an incredible advantage in the battle. Yet even with that advantage, they began to fall to the party’s weapons and when the large ogre skeleton emerged from its sarcophagus, it seemed that the tide turned against the group.

Calling on the light of Corellon, Adran was able to cause massive damage to the ogre’s skeleton. It was the gnome Keegen, who then emerged and finished the undead off with missiles of magic.

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Henular's Tower

Following the clues left in Henular’s final journal, the party traveled north from Hillsboro several days until the neared the area of the dead necromancer’s tower.

Though the tower was long destroyed, the found a cavern complex guarded by bugbears carved into the cliff face below the remains of the tower. Defeating the bugbear guards, they discovered that the bugbears were merely slaves of the ogre clan deeper int the caves. The ogres put up an incredible fight and if not for some quick healing, the party may have been lost, for many members were rendered unconscious and at death’s door by the creatures.

After defeating the main clan, they found the leader, a female ogre (later they discovered her name was Neegla) Neegla was unlike any other ogre. Her chambers were neat and tidy, with everything arranged in order. Under an altar to Asmodeus, they found tomes of arcane lore dealing with the binding of familars against their will.

Further in the complex, they found one of the deep levels of Henular’s tower. Defeating skeletal guardians, they discovered the main chamber which centered on a large pool. Seemingly sitting on the waters of the pool was Henular’s imp familiar Hezzrack, who agreed to serve Neegla in return for his freedom from the buried dungeon.

Quickly attacking the imp, they party was caught off guard when a huge skeletal dragon rose from the pool, with Hezzrack on its back. The imp mage and his skeletal dragon nearly finished the party off before falling to their weapons and spells.

Sifting through the rest of the complex, they found a more detailed journal of Henular’s that described a powerful tome of evil, known as the Serpin Lexicon, hidden by the cult of Imbrindarla, a demigod in the service of Vecna.

The cult of Imbrindarla hid themselves and this foul tome in a bolt hole they simply called The Pit. Henular had apparently researched the location of the Pit and its guardians in an effort to recover the Serpin Lexicon.

Using the necromancer’s notes, the party decided that they would recover and destroy this tome of evil, to stop anyone else from using it.

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Thus Far - Home, Sweet Hillsboro

After clearing out Gareth Ironstar’s mine, my companions headed back to Hillsboro. Just as Sherriff Reynulf predicted, a runner from the trading post started heading to Torka to inform them of the party’s return. While the Sherriff intercepted and questioned the spy, he deputized the companions and let them deal with Rannos personally.

When Rannos’ partner, Gremag, tried to assassinate one of the companions, things got ugly. Rannos tried to escape when he saw the battle turn and jumped out the window with a final message, “The Temple sends its regards.” Unfortunately, the trading post was surrounded, and those ended up being Rannos’ last words.

My companions didn’t loot the trading post too heavily, and spent the next six days in town. Tostig started working on a home, while my brother Hrun worked with the blacksmith Fargrim in order to earn enough capital to start work on the outpost. Even the new gnome, Keegen got into the act and started to think about setting up shop in town.

Adran excused himeself and traveled back into the forest to speak with his people.

Tostig got the necessary permissions and hired a Jendarri foreman, Ynvar to oversee his construction. Eldwinn got bored and spent a few days with me, where he found a hidden path heading east from the outpost. Keegen finally takled to Lord Brand about constructing a mage’s tower and possibly a school in town. He was deeded a piece of land across from Tostig’s construction site.

When Eldwinn finally returned to town, Hrun put him to work earning some capital for the outpost as well. I of course stayed and kept watch on the outpost.

Eventually, the call for adventure hit and the companions decided to pursue the clues in the necromancer Henular’s journal to find his tower.

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Thus Far - Ironstar's Mine

So we returned to Hillsboro, and found that things weren’t as safe here as we thought. The night we returned, one of the caravan guards we saved saw someone shadowing us, then heading down the road to Torka. We caught up to the spy and found a note simply saying “They’re back”, signed with an R. Reporting to Lord Brand the next morning, we were had to defend the tower from a summoned phase spider in the dungeon. The spider’s main goal was the death of Lareth, and we were not able to stop his death.

Brand told us that Lareth, under magical interrogation, spoke of a reformed Temple of Chaos led by one of the Daughter’s Of Erythnul named Hedrada. The Daughter’s were the architects of the Empire’s fall almost a century ago and it was one of the Daughter’s who constructed the Temple of Chaos in the first place. After showing Lord Brand and Sherriff Reynulf our spy’s note, we began to suspect Rannos Davl, the owner of the trading post.

We decided that to better bait the trap, we needed to disappear for a few days. On our return, the Sherriff would have the trading post staked out and we might catch them in the act. The party decided that it would be a good time to help Gareth Ironstar reclaim his mine and after taking a day or two in town to handle some business, they set out to Ironstar’s mine as I left for the ruined outpost.

From what I learned afterwards, they found a group of bandits had infiltrated the mine, but ran afoul of a hive of giant ants who broke through from some older, abandoned caves. Deeper in the ant caves, the found a deposit of elemental fire-stone guarded by some magmin from the Chaos. Even further in the old sections, they found the lair, or bolthole of an ancient necromancer named Henular guarded by a spinagon Baatezu. In the wizard’s journal, they found references to his abandoned tower to the north.

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Thus Far - The Monastery on Guideon's Hill

Thus Far continues a conversation between Malgosa Berenath and Jaroo.

Malgosa continued, "So we left the witches and traveled into the night to find this ruined monastery they spoke of. We found the large open area and were attacked by the ghouls inhabiting a nearby graveyard. Pushing on we found the monastery just like the witches said. A carved idol we ran into everywhere we identified as an old image of Zehir, God of Poison. After clearing the upper ruins of goblins, we rested in an oddly peaceful and pristine garden located in the monastery. The fountain in the garden seemed alive with magic, so we each took a sip of the magical waters – unfortunately nothing happened.

In the dungeons below we found a large tribe of hobgoblins, reinforced by some bugbear allies and an evil cleric of Zehir. We found and freed the elven ranger we were sent here for and also freed our new gnome companion Keegen Dugal from the sacrificial altar. We also freed a dwarf named Gareth Ironstar, who was being forced to smith for the hobgoblins and bugbears. Several more prisoners were found and freed, mostly miners and traveling merchants.

We decided to make a wide circle around Torka. Adran‘s colleague Rilewyn left for the forest as soon as he was well enough to travel. On the way back, Tostig promised Gareth that we’d help him investigate his mine and if necessary, clear it of any squatters that may have moved in since his disappearance.

It was on the way back that I realized that I may have a different path than my companions. Someone needed to keep a watchful eye east. We knew Torka was involved in something big, and with Hrun‘s desire to turn the outpost into a home of sorts, I felt that with my druidic abilities, I could use the outpost as a base without putting myself in too much danger. I made up some story about “losing touch with the spirits” so that Hrun and Eldwinn wouldn’t insist on my continued participation in the party and left for my new home.

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Thus far - Torka and Guideon's Hill

Malgosa has been asked by the elder druid Jaroo to give an accounting of what the party has done, thus far

We returned to Hillsboro with the cult leader Lareth in tow and two of the three captives we freed from the ogre’s den. Cyrr Perrian was a gnome from the Gnarled Wood and Cuthred was a miner taken from his mine. Cuthred’s arm had been ripped out of its socket yet somehow he survived, only to end up as the ogre’s next meal. The third captive, Osgard, was a bandit who intended to join the cult. Once he found out that he was one of the ogre’s next meals, his loyalty to the cult and desire to join fell dramatically. I figure he’s as far away as he can get.

We decided to wait around town for Lord Brand to find out some information from the cult leader. Hrun made himself useful working odd jobs with the smith, Brother Fargrim, who I understand is an apprentice druid under your tutelage and the rest of us tried to make ourselves useful since we figure to be around Hillsboro for some time.

One morning, Adran wakes us all up and tells us that a fellow Tuathi scout has gone missing. The eladrin must have someone in town feeding him information.

Why the smile, you know something about this don’t you?

Anyhow, Adran says this elf named Rilewyn was investigating rumors of humanoids and his last known location was Torka. So we head out, but this time we try to be smart about it. Eldwinn and I head into town first to scout it out, me as a bird and Eldwinn wrapped in that elven cloak of his. Hrun and Tostig head into town as bandits and ner-do-wells and then Adran comes in as the nose-in-the-air elf lord (and he does that well, by the way).

So Adran causes a ruckus and Hrun and Tostig are there acting like they can’t stand elves. Hrun even takes a few swipes at Adran, tries to trip him or something. So the locals tell Adran that another elf came in and they sent him upriver to someplace called Guideon’s Hill. They tell Hrun and Tostig that they do this with all the rubes, but that the real money is south, where a “big” operation is underway. Tostig and Hrun tail Adran out of the village to “teach pointy-ears a lesson.”

Eldwinn and I didn’t have nearly as interesting a time, nothing much to scout out in the village. Although i swear that the old crone herbalist knew I wasn’t a real bird when she shoed me away from her cottage.

There’s that grin again – you know something you’re not telling us.

So we head up to this Guideon’s Hill and traipse around the paths for a while. We try to avoid trouble when we can, circling away from battles with the local wildlife, but we end up having to kill a few hobgoblins and some giant ants. Then we meet the witches, two round-faced little old ladies that remind everyone of their grandmothers., Rosalinda and Rosabella. They kept trying to get us to enter their cottage and offered to heal all of our wounds if we cleared out a local ogre’s den. They gave us directions to a ruined monastery that they said was the lair of a huge goblin tribe. We thanked them and set out to find the monastery.

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Thus far - The Ruined Outpost

The young druid, Malgosa Berenath was summoned by his elder, the druid Jaroo of Hillsboro.

Jaroo smiled and said, “So, my young friend, much has happened since you and your brothers met the dwarf and the Eladrin. I remember the morning that the five of you, now friends, came to me for advice. We haven’t had the time to speak since then, but since you have settled down at the ruined outpost, catch me up on what has happened thus far.”

“It seems complicated and its been non-stop since that day”, Malgosa started. As you know, Eldwinn, Hrun and I came to Hillsboro to make names for ourselves and to get Eldwinn away from some bad influences in Hawkmoon. Tostig seems to be here answering the call for adventurers as well, and I think Adran Galanadel may be here at his people’s command.

Well, that first night, when the elder got drunk in the bar, your acolyte suggested that we speak with you instead of going to Lord Brand or Sheriff Reynulf. You told us of the ruined outpost that was once a front for the Temple of Chaos and suggested that we investigate.

We found the surface level overrun with bandits and giant wildlife, but below, in the dungeon level, we found a growing cult base. The new master, Lareth, had gathered brigands and bandits, bugbears and gnolls and even an ogre. It took us days to clear out this den of evil, but Adran insisted that we clear the place before returning to Hillsboro.

Not only were we able to clear the outpost, but we captured Lareth and returned him to Lord Brand. Little did we know that we would be starting a war.

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