TOREN 2002 - Stories|
Rappan Athuk to First Temple of Orcus
Regional map including the Highwall Area (Region B14) (jpeg, 310 kb)
Over the next year Gregor traveled most of the time. Finally, he was drawn to the castle of Highwall in the Kingdom of Gorost far to the north of Synrea. He was drawn there by haunting dreams and visions of the destruction of the barrier between this plane and the outer planes. He believed that somewhere in the dungeons of Rappan Athuk a great evil was brewing. He journeyed for over a year since he saw the death of all his friends. He was haggard and tired, but he knew that he had to press on. Gregor gathered together a new party for an expedition into Rappan Athuk.
Gregor found five new companions. Botrox the dwarf was low to the ground and twice as wide, he was clad in full plate of superior craftsmanship adorned with symbols of Hardun. His grey hair and beard gave the appearance of great age although he assured Gregor that he was quiet you for a dwarf. Botrox was both a fighter and a cleric of Hardun, the dwarven god of war. Malkith was a human monk. He was heavily tattooed, bald, with deep black eyes. Kakarot was a human fighter and rogue. He had the look of everyman and seemed to blend in with crowds easily. Kazok was a half-orc fighter. He dressed in dark, well-kept armor. He was very outgoing for a half-orc and might have been the easiest member of the party to get along with. Maynord was a human cleric of Sumeolus. He wore a suit of shining armor embossed with images of the sun. He was a dedicated priest.
On Songday the 18th of Vecsar 7408 AR they set off to explore Rappan Athuk The journey there took them high into the foothills of the Andracs before the path began to descend into the Vardostus river valley. Three days from Rappan Athuk they entered the Black Forest. Here they had their first encounter of the journey. A band of three trolls, one armed with a sword and carrying a shield, attacked them on sight. They dispatch the trolls with no casualties and began a great fire to burn them for good. Unfortunately the fire attracted a band of almost a dozen ogres. Again the ogres attacked on sight. The party was able to kill most of the ogres but some escaped into the forest. On guard now for some sort of ambush, the party continued to Rappan Athuk. They arrived at the famed dungeon on Songday the 25th of Vecsar. Kakarot, Kazok, and Maynord were veterans of previous adventures in the upper levels of Rappan Athuk and with their help, the party was able to quickly bypass the mostly empty upper levels. On their first foray into the dungeon they found a huge rat tunnel that took them down to the sixth level. This level had several vast caves. In one they came across a band of three trolls guarding an island surrounded by an underground stream. They killed one of the trolls and drove the other two off. Then they found why the trolls were so jealously guarding the island. There was over 500 pounds of very high quality gold ore that the party recovered. With their new-found wealth they headed back to Highwall. The gold ore sold for over 15,000gp. They were able to reequip and prepare for another journey to the dungeon.
On Craftday the 19th of Maalsar 7408AR they returned to Rappan Athuk. They returned again to the large caves of the sixth level and began exploring again. As they traveled down one tunnel they heard a chitinous scraping sound. Then, suddenly, Kazok was covered in webs and a huge spider was rushing at him. The party fought the thing and a couple more just like it. The each had bodies about 3 feet in diameter and legs that reached out to about 10 feet in diameter. Not having the stomach to fight spiders the party decided to retreat and rest for the night. They found an empty room on the second level and secured it. They rested through a long night of strange sounds in the hall outside, but nothing made it into their room. The next day they went down a flight of stairs to the fourth level. Here they found a door at the end of a long hall. Kakarot examined the door and determined that it was not trapped. When Kazok opened the door there was just a blank wall. Then, from behind them, they heard an ominous metallic cranking sound as a strong metal portcullis dropped and blocked the passage behind them. They just had a chance to catch their breath when they heard the sound of stone scraping on stone. Down the hall past the portcullis in the half-darkness at the edge of their torchlight a door high on the wall opened. Out of the door poured a huge glob of inky black goo. The thing filled the hall to a height of 6 inches and started to ooze toward the party. Gregor's studies in monster lore paid off, he knew that if they attacked it with normal weapons, it would not be injured but would instead split into two equally dangerous blobs. Gregor hit it with a fireball and a flaming sphere and with numerous magic missiles. The rest of the party dug out every flask of alchemist's fire they could find. The thing moved through the portcullis and toward them. It struck out at Kazok several times, but his new magical shield that he had taken from the trolls saved him. Finally the thing succumbed to the continuous onslaught of fire and died.
After much effort, the party was able to lift the portcullis and move on.
They continued their exploration of the fourth level of Rappan Athuk some 400-feet below ground. After a short time, they came across a room with garabage heaped almost to the cave ceiling. They moved through it to an exit on the far side. Just as they were leaving, Kakarot was attacked by a tentacle. The party sprang to his defense and soon had a strange creature surrounded. It looked like a bloated ovoid covered with a tough, rocklike skin, as well as dung, trash, and scraps of decaying organic matter. A vinelike stalk about 2 feet long rose from the top of the disgusting body with two eyes that blinked and watered up with fear. The creature shuffled about on three thick, sturdy legs and waved its two long tentacles around. Its body was 6 feet in diameter. To everyone's amazement, the thing could speak a halting Torsan. It said its name was Max and begged to be spared. It offered the choicest treasures in return for its life. The party backed off long enough to see what these "treasures" could possibly be. Max dug deep into the trash and did indead pull out a magic wand. The party was pleasently surprised and talked to Max at great length. He knew much about this level of the dungeon and warned the party about a powerful temple of Orcus.
The party returned to Highwall to prepare for an assult on the temple of Orcus. They returned to Rappan Athuk on Starday the 20th of Maalsar 7408 AR and headed straight for the temple. The doors to the temple were closed. They were carved from deep-black stone with bas-relief carvings of skulls, screaming faces, unholy symbols and demons. Everyone could feel a great heat coming from the other side. They made ready then opened the doors. The room beyond was shaped like a six-pointed star and featered a fiery pit of smoky lava at its center. Over this pit, a series of four staircases ascended to a central platform, 20 feet above the lava. The room's final noteworthy feature was a statue of the demon prince, Orcus. They had found the temple of Orcus and seven priest of Orcus stood waiting for them with the high priest perched on the top of the stairs. Gregor was quickly blinded by a priest and spent the rest of the battle at the rear. Maynord cast silence on the Malkith who then ran into the midst of the clerics and began fighting. The battle was hard fought with the high priest using a rod of thunder and lightning, but the party finally prevailed. They took all the priests' gear and stole the two ruby eyes from statue of Orcus--each worth 10,000gp. They returned to Highwall to sell their loot.
They returned to Rappan Athuk on Seaday the 23rd of Zadsar 7408 AR. They returned to the temple of Orcus where they found a secret crypt. They entered the crypt and were attacked by two ghost-like figures of heroic paladins with looks of pain and torment on their faces. The ghosts attacked and drained Kazok and Botrox of their life force. The rest of the party escaped into a rope trick were they watched Kazok and Botrox raise as spectres. Gregor used a scroll with Plane Shift to leave the rope trick and arrive at a random location on the prime material plane. They arrived over Lake Aras far to the north of Highwall. They were able to hang onto Gregor who was levitating long enough for him to cast Mordenkainen's magnificent mansion off of the same scroll that had the plane shift spell on it. They entered the mansion and prepared spells that would allow them to get back to Highwall.
Once back in Highwall, they recruited two new party members to replace Kazok and Botrox. Marcus was Kazok's half brother and also a half-orc fighter. Artok was a human paladin of Sumeolus. With their new companions, they went back to Rappan Athuk arriving on Craftday the 12th of Firsar 7409 AR. They scurted the evil crypt by the temple of Orcus and went deeper into the dungeon. On the Fifth level they found several large catacombs filled with wights. They also found a wizard's lair. They were able to drive off the wizard after blinding and deafening him and killing his apprentence and his flesh golem. They took most of the wizard's gear along with four spellbooks and returned to Highwall.
They began their next trip to Rappan Athuk on Songday the 25th of Firsar 7409 AR. On the way, they ran into two trolls in the service of a green dragon named Latgere. They were able to easily kill the trolls, but the dragon was another matter. It knocked Marcus, Malkith, and Artok unconcious, killed Kakarot with its terrible chlorine gas breath, and forced Maynard and Gregor to surrender. It then told them that is sought the downfall of Rappan Athuk and would allow them to live, except for Kakarot who it would take as its payment for the party's unprevoked attack, if they would accept the task of destroying Rappan Athuk. Having no choice, they agreed and returned to Highwall to find a replacement for Kakarot.
Once back in Highwall, they met up with Krillin. Krillin was an old friend of Kakarot and was trained in many of the same skills and fighting styles. He would be a perfect match for the party.
They began their next trip to Rappan Athuk on Earthday the 3rd of Thursar 7409 AR. On the way, they ran into a powerful band of Ogres. The ogres were able to kill Marcus and knock Artok unconcious before the party could overcome them. When they searched the Ogres, they found a writ on the leader written by a "Gudmund" to slay a band of adventurers that was plaguing the Dungeon of Graves. They returned to Highwall to have Marcus raised. Their recent bad luck in Rappan Athuk, or rather on the road to Rappan Athuk, made them decide to spend some time in Highwall and have some powerful magic items made. The most powerful of all was a +5 ring of protection that Malkith was able to purchase from the Artificers Guild. It had to come all the way from Arthane, the capitol of the Crundoric Empire.
They finally made there way back to Rappan Athuk on Songday the 4th of Aldsar 7409 AR. When they arrived there, they were surprised to find one of the formerly empty mausoleums in the graveyard occupied. A large dragon came out of it. It was a strange species, one that the party had never seen before and that Gregor had never read about before. Its body was armored with bony plates and its tail ended in a pair of scythe-like bone blades. It leaped on top of the mausoleum and bellowed "I am Milikorum, guardian of the dungeon of graves. Who desires passage?"
"We have come to destroy the dragon slayers" yelled Marcus as Artok checked for evil on the dragon.
Artok was surprised when he found that the dragon was not evil and decided it would be safe to speak "The dragon slayers are the priests and followers of Orcus that live below these graves."
The dragon turned its head to look at Artok and began to beat its wings. "These are the ones I guard!" screamed the dragon as it leaped at Artok.
Artok dodged its fang filled mouth as the rest of the party attacked it with everything they had. They had been on the loosing end of too many fights with dragons, and did not want to loose this one. Artok was able to avoid all the dragon's attacks as the party pummeled it into submission. It leaped back onto the mausoleum and begged for quarter. Maynard fired a bolt at it from his rod of thunder and lightning in answer. Seeing there would be no quarter, the dragon took off and flew for the tree line. Just as he was about to disappear, a small yellow ball streaked after him and exploded in a globe of fire that engulfed the dragon. The dragon crashed into the trees and burned. The party rushed after him, but he did not get up.
They drug the dragon carcass into the trees then found his small horde in the mausoleum. With there newfound wealth, they descended into Rappan Athuk. They went to the fourth level where they paid Max the garbage monster a visit.
"The black robed clerics don't come around as often," Max told them.
They were relieved to here that and decided that they should take the opportunity to cleanse the upper temple of Orcus. They knew there would be specters there, including those of Botrox and Kazok. They quickly reconnoitered the approach to the temple then retired for the night to prepare for a full blown assault. That night they were attacked by a powerful wight before they could even get to sleep. They relocated after that battle but the were all awakened by a sudden cold. A chill sweat beaded on more then one of their foreheads. Just seconds later, the specter of Kazok flew through the wall of the room they were camped in. It attacked Gregor and drained some of his life force. Maynard tried to turn it but was unsuccessful. Artok urged him to try again and both he and Maynard called on Sumeolus to drive the foul undead away. Sumeolus answered their call. His Holy Power was channeled through Maynard and Artok and drove the specter away.
They knew they would not be able to stand against it if it came back so they quickly fled to the surface. The sunken valley above the dungeon of graves was chilled by a low hanging ground fog that was lit up like a white blanket by the moon Lunix which was almost full. The moon Odrock huge low in the sky like some displaced mountain peak.
The fog was cold and unnerving and the party quickly made there way into the "safety" of the Black Forest to spend the night.
They spent all the next day in the forest waiting for Gregor to recover from his wounds. That night they were attacked by two powerful ogres. These ogres were a match for Marcus and Artok one on one but not for the whole party. They were dispatched but not before Maynard was knocked unconscious by one of their huge clubs.
The next day, they relocated their camp. At about nightfall they spotted a patrol of 6 mounted knights from Highwall. They hailed the knights and invited them to join their camp for the night. The knights agreed and the two groups talked late into the night about the dangers of the Black Forest. The knights explained that they were on patrol looking for ogres and some sign of an ogre compound. The party told them that they believed the ogres were coming from Rappan Athuk. The lead knight shot a startled look at them when they said this. "You are not planning on going in there, are you?" he asked. "We already have, and we will again" Artok said. That night passed without incident and the next morning the knights bid the party farewell. As the knights rode north, the party trekked west back to Rappan Athuk.
It was Sunday the 7th of Aldsar 7409 AR when the party assaulted the upper temple of Orcus and the undead that now ruled it. Hopefully on Sunday Sumeolus would shine upon them. They made their way to the doors before the temple then started casting all manner of protective spells. One of the specters heard the spell casting and initiated the attack by flying through the door. The party pushed open the doors and concentrated on the first specter that attacked them. It was Botrox. In the room they could see Kazok who looked up with in evil scowl on his face and began moving toward them. The other two specters were not in sight. They destroyed the specters of Botrox and Kazok and only two of them were hit in the battle. With most of their protection still in force they pushed on to find the other two specters. They found them in their crypt and attacked. Again they overcame them with only one more hit on the party. With the specters defeated, the party cleansed the temple of Orcus with a consecrate spell and toppled the statue of the demon-god. Now there were just two temples left.
It was Skyday the 8th of Aldsar7409 AR. The party recovered from their wounds at the hands of the specters in the temple of Orcus. They felt a sense of closure at releasing their former comrades Kazok and Botrox from undead servitude. They still did not find their bodies, however.
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