d20play house rules toren campaigns 04/27/02

TOREN 2002 - Stories
Sunless Citadel

Map of the Theocracy of Synrea - C15 (jpeg, 293 kb)

With there newfound wealth the party was ready to set out on another adventure. First they would need to replace Dungus as he had retired after his first adventure. Before he left he recommended that they have Leoni join them. She was young but a capable rogue none-the-less. They also met Keld, a young devotee and knight of Kardista, the god of exploration, travel, and adventure. On Starday, the 5th of Napaksar 7407 AR, the party with their two new companions traveled up the Old Road that connects Mirkinos and Atilin following rumors of the Sunless Citidel. The Sunless Citidel was a once-proud fortress that fell into the earth in an age long past. The evil dragon cult that owned it had brought on some sort of invoked devastation. The old road wound through rocky downs, near strands of old-growth oak, and past a couple of villages before finally arriving in Oakhurst. The party arrived in the small village on the night of the 5th. They found about a dozen houses, a warehouse/inn, and the Ol' Boar Tavern. The mayor of the town was an woman in her 50's named Kerowyn Hucrele. She welcomed the party to town and invited them to stay in the warehouse. That night, the party was able to find out several interesting rumors while listening to the locals at the Ol' Boar Tavern.
  • The Old Road ran right past the nearby ruins, but fell into disuse because of goblin banditry. No one knows for sure what the Sunless Citadel once was, but old legends hint that it served as the retreat of an ancient dragon cult.
  • Cattle herders don't graze their stock too far afield these days. They're frightened by stories of new monsters that maraud by night. No one has seen these creatures, nor do they leave a discernible trail; however, cattle and people who have been caught out alone have been found dead the next day, pierced by dozens of needlelike claws.
  • The goblin tribe infesting the nearby ruins ransoms a single piece of magical fruit to the highest bidder in Oakhurst once every midsummer (The 1st of Sumsar). They've been doing this for the last twelve years. Usually, the fruit sells for around 50 gp, which is all the townspeople can bring themselves to pay a goblin. The fruit, apparently an apple of perfect hue, heals those who suffer from any disease or other ailment. They sometimes plant the seeds at the center of each fruit, hoping to engender an enchanted apple tree. When the seeds germinate in their proper season, they produce a twiggy mass of twisted sapling stems. Not too long after the saplings reach 2 feet in height, they are stolen-every time. The townsfolk assume that the jealous goblins send out thieves to ensure their monopoly of enchanted fruit.
  • Sometimes the goblins offer another apple at midwinter. This apple is corpse-white and utterly poisonous, even to the mere touch of the skin. No samples of either type of apple remain anywhere near Oakhurst.
Leoni was able to make friends with the town mayor and matriarch, Kerowyn Hucrele. Kerowyn warmed up to Leoni enough to tell her of her missing children. It seemed that Kerowyn had a son and a daughter, Talgen and Sharwyn, who were itching for adventure and decided to go explore the Sunless Citadel. They left with a ranger named Karakas and a paladin of Sumeolus named Braford about 4 weeks ago. She had not seen them since and she was growing very worried! She begged Leoni and the rest of the party to help her and she offered them a reward of 1000gp for each of her children that they could bring back in good shape. She was so desperate for news that she even offered to give them 500gp for each signet ring that they found if they could not find her children.

Kalas was able to buddy up with old barkeep of the Ol' Boar Tavern. The old guy remembered that the last time anyone, aside from Talgen and Sharwyn, asked questions about the Sunless Citadel. About thirteen years ago, a grim man named Belak stopped by, and he had a very large pet tree frog.

The next morning the party set off for the Sunless Citadel. They left their horses behind and walked along the Old Road. Just after lunch, they came across a narrow ravine. The ravine was not very deep or very wide but it extended far of to the north beside the Old Road. The party continued to follow the ravine and soon spotted several broken pillars jutting from the earth where the ravine widened and opened into something more akin to a deep, but narrow, canyon.

At the floor of the canyon below waited the Sunless Citadel. The party descended into the canyon and reached the floor by following a narrow path that descended into the darkness. They ran across some dire rats on the way down, but no goblins. As they descended, the fortress top emerged from the darkness. The subterranean citadel, though impressive, seemed long forgotten, if the lightless windows, cracked crenellations, and leaning towers were any indication. All was quiet, though a cold breezed blew up from below, bringing with it the scent of dust and a faint race of rot.

The party made their way into the ruins through the top of a tower. Inside the tower, at its base, they found two doors leading into the heart of the Citadel. The first hallway that they went down had a stone relief-carved door portraying a dragon like fish swimming in an aquatic setting. The door was securely locked, but Leoni was able to undo it. The 10-foot-square chamber beyond had a strange water contraption in it. When the party tried to open it, they released a small and vicious creature. It was about 4 feet tall and looked like a miniature fish-man with black, bulbous eyes. It breathed a cone of caustic liquid on the party. The party shrugged that off and attacked the thing. Next, a mass of smelly fog erupted all around the creature. The party was forced to retreat as more and more of them were overcome with nausea. When they backed out, the fish-man ran through another door in the hallway.

After regrouping, the party decided to try and trail the thing. In the rooms ahead they found no sign of the fish-man, but they did find a whole tribe of kobolds. The little creatures fought bravely against the party but they were eventually overcome. Their leader was a female sorcerer named Yusdrayl. The party found a room of the female, young, and elderly kobolds and spared the creatures in return for information. The kobolds were only too happy to oblige. The spokesman for the kobolds, an elderly and half-blind specimen, told the party that "As all know, kobolds are heir to dragons. It is for that reason that we have come to this ancient holy site, where dragons were revered long ago." When they asked about the lost human adventurers they learned that they went off to fight the goblins and never returned. The kobolds were at war with these goblins and they told the party about a back way into the goblin controlled part of the ruins. The party was then astonished to learn that the kobolds had a pet dragon! They were even more astonished to learn that the goblins had stolen it! The kobolds told them that the dragon was a feisty little white. Before proceeding further the party decided to return to Oakhurst and leave behind some of their loot at the warehouse there. They returned as soon as they could because they knew that the kobolds would be quickly overrun by the goblins now that most of their warriors were dead.

By 2pm on the 8th of Napaksar the party returned to the kobold controlled part of the Citadel. They were relieved to find that the kobolds were still there. They left the kobolds behind and proceeded via the "back door" into the goblin controlled part of the Citadel. The back door took them through several long abandoned rooms, except for the obvious signs of rats. In these rooms they found two ornate fountains carved into the walls and a carved stone door. The door had carvings showing skeletal dragons and when Leoni got to within 1 foot of it she could feel palpable coldness. A Draconic inscription above the door read "Divine power, open the way." Each of the fountains, though cracked, stained, and dry, had a beautiful carving of a dragon rearing above the font. They thoroughly searched one of the fountains and found faded draconic writing that spelled out "Let there be death" they also found a strange rusted canister in the rearing dragon's mouth.

Next, they moved on and came to the goblin rooms. They killed 6 goblins without raising an alarm. They also found a small prison where 3 kobolds and a gnome were imprisoned. The gnome told them that he had been captured on the Old Road by goblin bandits over a year ago. He said that the goblins were lead by a strong looking Hobgoblin. When they asked them about the lost adventurers, he told them that three of them, Braford, Talgen, and Sharwyn, had been here about two weeks ago. They were taken away after a week and he has not seen them since. In exchange for his release, he offered to help them get through the cold dragon door in the abandoned rooms. When the gnome channeled the power of Ronlorst, the door changed from cold to an oppressive heat and opened. Beyond were five dusty sarcophagi standing on end in the silent chamber. A shrine carved of dark red wood was set in the center of the far wall with a single candle burning on it. Before even entering the room, Sethyr could tell that there was evil lingering in the sarcophagi. He was proved right when 5 elven zombies stepped out of the sarcophagi and attacked. When the party overcame the zombies, they found two glass rings and a potion vial. Finally the party explored the last room in the abandoned area. They found a hoard of dire rats and the mama and papa dire rat. After overcoming these they made a grisly discovery. Amongst the rat nest were the remains of an adventurer, quite possibly Karakas, the ranger who had accompanied Talgen and Sharwyn.

The party returned to the goblin rooms and pressed on. They found a room with four hobgoblins in it and quickly dispatched them without raising the alarm. Next they found a room with mounted and stuffed animal heads adorning the walls. The mounting job was sloppy, and the assortment of heads included cattle, rats, and other not particularly impressive specimens. However, a few grisly trophies shared the wall with the animals, including a couple of kobold visages. Smashed and broken cabinets and small tables littered the periphery of the room, mute victims of some sort of rampage. A rusted iron spike stood askew in the center of the room, trailing a broken chain. Thin patches of ice coated sections of the walls, floor, and debris. Brack decided to go to the door that he could see on the far side of the room. As he stepped into the room a tiny dragon came into view. It had a beaked, created head and was accompanied by a crisp, faintly chemical odor. Its white scales glistened like mirrors in Gregor's lantern light. The little thing let loose with a great blast of ice and cold. It continued to fight fiercely and breathe cold as the party subdued it. They finally knocked it unconscious and stood there trying to think of what they would do with a baby dragon.

The party decided to make their way back to Mirkinos Keep and sell the dragon (dead of course). On their way out of the dungeon, they ran across the miniature fish-man again. This time Gregor was able to quickly overcome it with a sleep spell. They reached Mirkinos on the 10th of Napaksar 7407 AR and were able to get 500gp for the dragon. They used most of this money to identify the magic items they had recovered from the Sunless Citadel and to have a cleric cure the diseases some of them had also "recovered" from the Sunless Citadel courtesy of the rats. While in Mirkinos, they met up with a strange man. His name was Thorin Dain and he claimed to be an Aasimir - a race of half-celestial beings. Thorin looked human except for his silver hair and golden eyes. He was a cleric of Aldaril, the elven god of song, art, dance, writing, and history and the head of the Aldaric Pantheon. The party was in need of a second cleric and invited him to join them.

With their new companion, the party returned to Oakhurst and the Sunless Citadel. The first thing they found when they returned to the ruins on the 13th of Napaksar was the mutilated corpses of the remaining kobolds. It looked like the goblins had finished off the kobolds that the party had left alive. The party carefully advanced into the area of the ruin that had been controlled by the goblins. They soon found the goblin chief and the central home of the goblins. In a huge fight, the party killed the chief, his female witch doctor, about 20 goblins and hobgoblins, and a strange walking stick creature. The thing's leafless branches interlocked to create a sinister humanoid shape. Luckily it never landed a blow as the party rained all their firepower down on it. Sethyr single-handedly took out four hobgoblins and helped to kill the witch doctor and the chieftain. The party gathered much loot from the goblins including one of the Hucrele signet rings but not any signs of either of the Hucrele children. They also found a pit descending deep down. The circular shaft pierced the floor of the chieftain's throne chamber. Dim violet light shined out of the shaft, revealing sickly white and gray vines coating the shaft's walls. Rather than descend the shaft the party decided they would return to Oakhurst and recuperate. On their way out of the ruins they decided to check out some doors they had left unopened in their earlier exploration. Behind one they found a narrow winding tunnel leading down into darkness. Behind the other they found a ruined hall with a single stone door featuring a relief sculpture of stylistically carved dragons in flight. The door was closed and securely locked, but the party had found a key that seemed to fit it. They decided they would see what was on the other side after they had rested up.

When they returned to Oakhurst, they gave Kerowyn the ring they had found and promised her that they would return to see if they could find out any more about her missing children. They returned to the ruins on the 15th of Napaksar and decided to check behind the locked stone door. Behind it they found several rooms that had been undisturbed for countless centuries. The first was a large gallery with four alcoves on the walls. Each contained a dust-covered stone pedestal with a fist-sized crystalline globe upon it. Three of the globes were cracked and dark, but one glowed with a soft red light and faint tinkling notes could be heard coming from it. Leoni crept up to it to see if it was trapped. When she got to within 5 feet of it the tinkling notes suddenly became much louder and filled everyone in the party with fear, some even ran from the room. Once everyone had backed away from it the noise stopped and the fear eventually left. Sethyr, who had been unaffected by the fear, gazed at the globe. Soon he could sense that there was an evil presence about the thing. With the rest of the party's consent Sethyr moved into the room to destroy the globe. As he began to smash it the noise became even louder. Even people not in the room fled in fear. Sethyr continued to smash the thing and finally the globe shattered.

The next room they came to had a sculpture of a dragon carved from red-veined white marble in it. When they got close it spoke and said "We come at night without being fetched; we disappear by day without being stolen." Kalas said "could it be stars or darkness?" When he did a secret door appeared outlined in glowing red.

Beyond the secret door was a 20-foot-wide hall with three narrow alcoves on each side of it. Each alcove held a humanoid figure carved of red-veined white marble, except for the southwest alcove, which was empty. The figures resembled tall elves in plate mail. The far end of the hall opened into a wide room, from which reddish light trickled. A dark pit was situated at the end of the hall before it. When the party got to the edge of the pit they could see that the dust in this room was disturbed at some time in the past. Across the pit they saw a room with red-hued marble tiles covering the floor and walls, though all were cracked or broken, revealing rough-hewn stone beneath. Wall sconces were attached to the walls at each corner and two still burned with a red light. A massive marble sarcophagus, easily 9 feet long, lied in the center of the room. The stone possessed heavy carvings with dragon imagery, and the head of the sarcophagus resembled a dragon's head. Rusting metal clasps firmly locked the lid.

The party decided to build a wooden bridge to cross the pit. Once their bridge was in place they started across. Just as they were about to reach the far side, a sudden wave of fear washed across them. This time they were able to resist its affects. Suddenly, as if summoned by the fear, they saw a hideous little creature in front of them. The thing was a tiny humanoid with spiky horns and bat wings. Its hands and feet were long and slender, with very long, claw tipped digits. Its skin was pustulent and green and it stood about 2 feet tall. The party rushed it and quickly dispatched it. Leoni then began to search around the sarcophagus for traps. As she was searching, Keld warned everyone that the little demon was gone! It had been laying dead by the sarcophagus just a second ago. Sethyr quickly scanned the room for evil. He sensed some but it was too late, he could hear the sound of wings as the thing flew away down the path the party had entered from.

They knew that they could not catch the thing so they turned their attention back toward the sarcophagus. Keld, Sethyr, and Brack pried the thing open. As the seal broke there was a flash of red light and the top flew against the wall revealing a horrid sight within. From out of the sarcophagus rose a towering humanoid creature some 9 feet tall. He looked vaguely elf-like but his body was stretched and elongated and his flesh was a rubbery, putrid gray. His hair was long, thick and ropy, and his nails had turned into savage looking claws. He was dressed in rotted finery, still-sparkling jewelry, and rings adorned with tiny dragons. He attacked the party as soon as he stood up. They fought back with magic missiles, flaming spheres, swords, and hammers. The thing took all their attacks and dealt several savage wounds with its huge claws. As it fought the party could see that its wounds were healing right in front of their eyes. Thorin tried to turn the thing but was unsuccessful. Then he tried to channel positive energy through a cure spell hoping that it would have a negative affect on the creature. He tried to hit it but missed. Kalas did the same thing and hit, but the spell healed the thing. It was not undead it turned out. Finally Gregor felled the thing with his flaming sphere and to the party's relief, its burns did not regenerate. The party found several valuable magic items in its sarcophagus but no signs as to why it had been interred here for so long.

Leoni did a thorough search of the room and found a secret trap door. Beyond the trap door was a tunnel that bypassed the pit that guarded the entrance to this chamber and emerged through a secret door they had missed in the previous room. In the tunnel they found a dust covered inscription in Draconic. Gregor translated it as, "A dragonpriest entombed alive for transgressions of the Law still retains the honor of his position."

The party had had enough for one day and decided to return to Oakhurst. They were making their way up the ropes at the top of the ravine when Sethyr's rope gave way and he fell 30 feet crashing to the ground and raising a cloud of dust. When the echo of Sethyr's fall died away, the party could hear a maniacal titter from above. Thorin had been on the rope next to Sethyr and started to climb down as fast as he could. He did not get far before whatever was above cut his rope too and he fell 20 feet. Keld quaffed a potion of spider climb and climbed up the rock overhang to deal with the creature waiting above. When he reached the top of the ravine, he was greeted by the same tiny humanoid with spiky horns and bat wings that they had driven from the dragonpriest's room. Keld and the little demon fought a short fierce battle with Keld taking many painful cuts before he was able to drive the thing off.

Keld secured some new ropes and the party was able to get out of the ravine and return to Oakhurst were they could recover before another foray into the Sunless Citadel.

Before venturing to the Sunless Citadel the party made a trip to Atilin Castle to sell the loot they had acquired so far. They returned to the Sunless Citadel on Starday the 27th of Napaksar. The upper levels were silent. All the dead bodies were gone and it looked like they had been dragged to the pit in the goblin chieftain's throne room. The pit opened into a room far below. Keld bravely led the way down the vine lined pit. When he reached the bottom, he found himself in some sort of compost room. Luminescent fungus clung to the walls and ceiling. The air was damp, chilly, and redolent with the odors of loam and decay. A layer of earth, mixed with rotting vegetation and the remains of cave animals, goblins, and hobgoblins, covered the floor of the wide cavern. Several varieties of mushrooms and fungus grew on the detritus, as well as a few saplings. Two giant, gaunt, cloaked figures were slowly shoveling the earth into a rusted wheelbarrow. The things turned and attacked Keld. As the fight began, another of the giants appeared from around a corner and the saplings came to life and joined the fray. The party overcame these and fought their way past numerous bugbears and goblins that were tending various rooms that were almost like underground nurseries.

In one empty nursery they found many of the plants had been burned and their was a large wormlike creature with a glowing red nose. As it moved through the room it set anything it touched on fire. The party was able to destroy it without it ever touching any of them. Finally, after getting past the nurseries, the party found a room without dirt and plants covering the floor. It had dragon-carved granit blocks tiling its walls and ceiling, though many were crumbled and broken. A huge marble statue of a rearing dragon stood in the curve of its western wall. The eye sockets of the dragon were empty, but a red glow lingered there, providing reddish light throughout the camber. The effulgence cast an inky shadow behind the statue's wide wings. A crumbling 5-goot-diameter circular redstone tile was inset in the floor in front of the rearing dragon carving. Draconic runes that read "Let the sorcerous power illuminate my mind," were inscribed in it.

As they viewed this room, the shadows behind the dragon began to move then flew toward the party. They never looked like anything other than a vaguely humanoid shaped shadow. One touch from these things brought Keld to half-strength and he was unable to move. Kalas and Thorin called on the power of their deities to banish these things. They were not able to banish them, but they did force them back into the shadows behind the dragon, were the party was able to finish them off. With Keld badly weakened the party decided to return to Atilin Castle to recover.

They returned to the Sunless Citadel on the 5th of Aldsar, with just three weeks to go until the summer solstice they might find the strange red fruit as it was growing. Past the room with the dragon statue they found a large underground grove. Pale, spindly briars coated with tiny barbs pressed close. The violet light above cast nauseating shadows on the earthen floor, creating the illusions of movement among the branches, though no wind blew there. Further into the huge cave a courtyard wall of heavy stones created a half-walled clearing among the briars. Several varieties of plants grew around the perimeter, including a few suspicious-looking saplings, but their importance paled before that which stood at the courtyard's center. Beneath the venomous fungal light grew a singular tree of evil. Its blackened, twisted limbs reach upward, like a skeletal hand clawing its way from the earth. At the center of its trunk, growing out of its very bark was a small red apple-like fruit.

The party took all this in from a distance and as they did a group of goblin rogues snuck up on them. When the party spotted them, they were already very close. One of the goblins pointed his dagger at the party and vines erupted from the ground and tried to entangle the party. A huge battle ensued and soon many of the saplings in the cave came alive and rushed forward to join the goblins. The goblin that seemed to be casting spells from out of his dagger was joined by two humans. A male fighter in full plate armor and a female wizard. The battle went on and on with the goblin druid causing entangling plants, swarming insects, balls of fire, and more. Part way through the battle, the goblin druid changed form into a gaunt, middle-aged human male with grey hair and tanned skin wearing a simple brown cassock. He demanded the party's surrender, but they fought on.

The battle raged on for an eternity, the party slew the last of the goblins and saplings, but first Keld, then Kalas, then Brack fell to the swarming bugs when they could not break free of the entangling plants. Finally, just as Thorin and Sethyr were closing on the druid, he changed form into an eagle and flew over the party's heads and out of the Sunless Citadel. Quickly the party gathered together their dead and made a quick examination of the strange evil tree. Closer examination revealed two human sized impressions. The impressions where about the same size as the two humans that were with the druid and now lay dead in the black grove. The female wizard had a Hucrele signet ring and could have been Sharwyn Hucrele. The male fighter had a holy symbol of Sumeolus and could have been the paladin Sir Braford. Now they were both dead and it looked like they had been transformed into some horrible plant creature as their skin had been replaced by bark.

The party returned to Oakhurst bearing the bad news of her daughter's death to Kerowyn Hucrele. From there they went on to Atilin Castle to get Keld, Kalas, and Brack raised from the dead. All were in good standing with their deity and all were allowed to return.

With their companions raised, the party decided to make one last foray into the Sunless Citidel and left Atilin Castle on Sunday the 21st of Aldsar 7407AR. At the Sunless Citadel they explored a couple of rooms they had missed and then returned to the evil tree and burned it to the ground. What had caused such a singularly evil plant, they never discovered. Thus ended the party's adventures in the Sunless Citadel...

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