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Shattered Realms

Chapter 22: The Hunters Unleashed

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Faced with the image of a city long destroyed the heroes allowed themselves to be taken to the palace of Urus. There they met with Empress Lillia who promised to help with the Gnolls who had invaded her city. Lillia was clearly a cursed shade, doomed to wander the earth and her city a powerful phantasm created by the ghosts who haunt the ruins of Urus. The empress and her guards seemed to live in two times, one where their city was destroyed long ago and another time all together when their city was still alive and well but facing great danger.

Lillia told the heroes that they must light a fire and sacrifice blood to signal the ghosts of the ruins when they are ready to attack the Gnolls. She also told the heroes to use fear as their weapon and to terrorize the Gnolls who already feared the ghosts of the ruins.

Tarik said a prayer to the Raven Queen, praying that the damned would soon find rest and in the moment the phantasm vanished and the heroes found themselves standing in the middle of the ruined palace. The helmet of the captain of the guard lay at their feet.

The heroes scanned the city from a tower in the ruined palace and saw many Gnoll camps across the city. Many were partrol camps, with small fires and a couple of dozen Gnoll warriors. The heroes also spotted a slave camp with a dozen guards and many slaves. The main camp in the middle of the city was thick with thousands of the vile creatures.

Rewards:

  • Horned Helm

Encounter 1: The Heroes Strike
Intent on using fear as a weapon against the huge Gnoll horde, the heroes attacked a patrol camp. Many of the Gnolls were drunk and sleeping while a few sat around fires barking at one another in they barbaric language. A single massive Hyena was near the central fire, gnawing on a human bone.

The heroes crept up on the camp and the killing began. Several fell before the Gnolls were even aware of the danger but even as the heroes carved into the ranks they found more and more of the creatures were waking from their drunken stupor.

In the end the heroes killed them all and arranged their bodies around a central well and marked the well with Gnoll blood with symbols of Urus they had seen in their vision of the distant past. As the heroes watched many Gnolls ran from the city upon finding so many Gnolls killed by what they assumed were the ghosts of the ruins.

Opponents: 20 Gnoll Scavengers, 1 Cacklefiend Hyena

Rewards:

  • 1800 EXP
  • 500 Gold

Encounter 2: The Slave Camp

Creeping through the ruins the heroes came upon the slave camp hidden in an old ruined temple. Caelthal crept close and could see that many of the prisoners were defiant and even crudely armed inside their wicker cages.

Attacking quickly the heroes struck at the temple from several directions, quickly isolating and killing the Gnoll archers. These Gnolls were more prepared (and less drunk) than those in the patrol camp and battle was soon joined with the heroes trapped inside the confines of the ruin while their enemies closed around.

The Gnolls obviously fearful that the prisoners would be released began to try to set fire to the wicker cages. Caelthal saved one cage several times by shooting the hands of Gnolls that approached the cage with a torch. Tarik quickly freed a group of slaves who proved to be both brave and dangerous. With only improvised weapons they swamped and overcame several Gnolls over the course of the battle. In the end the Gnolls were slain and all the prisoners were freed unharmed.

Opponents: 7 Gnoll Marauders, 2 Gnoll Huntmasters, 3 Hyenas

Rewards:

  • +2 Winters Grasp Totem.
  • 1000 Gold
  • 2725 EXP
  • +1000 EXP for saving all the slaves.

The slaves were all women and the survivors of an attack on their village many years ago. They were marked and protected by the Raven Queen. They are driven by pure rage and are ready to kill many Gnolls in the battle to come.

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Chapter 21: Ancient Evil

The heroes continued their descent into the depths of the ruined armory. Climbing through the settling ruins they wormed their way deeper into the dark pit searching for the ancient Hell Forged that once commanded the destruction of the city above. They still commanded the War Forged who had been trapped into the ancient ruin.

Encounter 1: The Hell Forged
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As the heroes pushed deeper into the earth they began to see a glow up ahead of them. Eventually they came upon a hidden chamber that contained the trapped Hell Forged, a massive mechanical construct controlled by a greater demon of the darkest abyss. Ordering their War Forged forward the heroes attacked. The battle was bloody and desperate, as steam from the ancient war machine flooded the room. As they charged the Hell Forged called out to the heroes saying “Slaves of the Seers, I shall set you free.”

The War Forged was quickly ripped to pieces and his carcass used as a weapon against the heroes. The spirits of the fallen were summoned forth by the Hell Forged to be consumed to heal him over the course of the battle. The heroes were quick to spot the danger and attacked this spirits, disipating them before their souls could be consumed.

In the end, the Hell Forged was brought down and destroyed.

Opponents: 1 Hell Forged

Rewards:

  • 1500 EXP
  • Amulet of Resolution +2
  • 620 Gold Pieces
  • 3 Healing Potions
  • Flanking Weapon (Longsword) +2

Encounter 2: The Streets of Urus
The heroes were exhausted from their fight. As they tried to leave they found the sand storm had grown in intensity. The city was covered in sand and they could not safely find their way back to their hidden tower. They chose to rest in the ruins of the armory. When they awoke the next day the storm had indeed died down, but had been replaced by a strange vision.

The heroes walked into not into a shattered ruin but into a thriving city as Urus must have been over a century ago. The market appeared alive and well and children played in the streets while soldiers marched to war. Fearful of some dark magic the heroes attempted to break the illusion but were unable to do so.

The heroes gave a copper to a beggar and successfully avoided an encounter with street rufians through a combination of diplomacy and intimidation. As the heroes walked through the city they saw two demon forged being transported across the city. The creatures struggled against their chains and before a crowd of frightened people they killed their Technomancer and broke free. Determined to save the lives of innocents the heroes rushed forward. Still uncertain if they walked in an illusion, a vision or a dream they fought the demon forged to the death, saving the people of the marketplace.

After the battle ended the city watch came forward and told the heroes they should come immediately to the palace. And in a flash for one terrible moment the watch appeared to be dark and terrible spirits whose skulls shown out through their skin. As the heroes reluctantly followed the watch towards the palace Lazerus summed up the feelings of all.

“We walk in the shadow of death. These are not men, but spirits who we help to relive days that are long gone.”

Opponents: 2 Demon Forged

Rewards:

  • 1600 EXP
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Chapter 20: Blood and Darkness

After the battle with the Gnolls in the room filled with explosives the heroes argued over their next course of action. Should they continue deeper into the ruin of the Forge or should they challenge the Mad Wraiths once again? In the end they decided the Wraiths might know the location of Sanctuary and would have to be destroyed.

Encounter 1: Mad Wraiths
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The heroes crept into the room carefully while the chains overhead moved with some unseen force. Muttering and whispers echoed through the silent chamber. Finally Rostam provoked the wraiths and they descended from the cealing. The heroes stayed together despite the carnage caused by the collapsing debris falling from above. It was all darkness and insanity for a few minutes as the heroes sometimes fought the Wraiths and sometimes fought one another, but in the end the Wraiths were destroyed.

Opponents: 5 Mad Wraiths, 1 Poltergeist (dropping debris from the ceiling).

Rewards:

  • 1250 EXP

Encounter 2: Summoning Room
Digging deeper into the Forge the heroes crawled through dark and twisted tunnels to finally arrive in a deeper level that was once a deep sub-basement. Here they found an Undead Demon trapped for perhaps the last hundred years in a summoning circle. All around were the fallen bodies of Gnolls, animated by the Demon’s Dark will. The summoning circle had weakened after so many years and some of the Demon’s power was seeping through.

The heroes knew that if they attacked the demon the circle would be broken. They could also see that the circle was too weak to hold for long. So the heroes began to kill the Gnoll Zombies as quickly as they could, downing five before the circle failed and the demon was free. After a short battle the demon too was destroyed and returned to his dark realm.

Opponents: 8 Tainted Zombies, 1 Zombie Abomination

Rewards:

Encounter 3: Machine Shop
Still tunneling through the ruin the heroes saw that there were several ways into the next chamber. Deciding that whatever lay ahead was best approached from a narrow place the heroes chose a flanking position and crept forward. They found an ancient machine shop that was shattered by the explosives that destroyed the Forge. Debris lay in great piles upon the floor. Out of the debris came three hulking Demon Forged. As the battles raged a fourth creature was seen struggling within the debris. The heroes assumed this was another Demon Forged they would have to deal with once they had defeated the others.

After a terrible battle the heroes were victorious and they discovered that the trapped creature was a trapped but badly damaged War Forged who was eager to help them against their enemies.

Opponents: 3 Demon Forged

Rewards:

  • 500 GP worth of raw metals and expensive gadgets scattered around the room.
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Chapter 19: The Forge

Exhausted from their battles in the tower and their first encounter in the Forge the heroes decided to continue without rest, aware that every day lost was a day that brought Sanctuary closer to desctruction.

Encounter 1: Gnoll Feast
Demon Forged

The heroes burrowed under the Forge, searching the wreckage and ruins of the ancient structure for the Hell Forged that could reveal the location of Sanctuary. The first room they came across had several Gnolls battling against a mighty Demon Forged Maw. The Demon Forged was eating the pathetic Gnolls and growing stronger on their blood.

Even as the Maw was being destroyed the last Gnoll fled the room, running deeper into the catacombs only to be killed by a cave in.

Opponents: 1 Demon Forged Maw, 6 Gnoll Cultist Enforcers

Rewards:

  • 1,000 EXP

Encounter 2: The Mad Wraiths
As the heroes pushed deeper into the ruin it became more and more obvious that the stucture was very unstable. The next room was filled with debris and the wreckage of a once great weapon storage room. A gantry towered over-head, filled with the weapons of the last great war. Machines, cannons, ammunition, spare parts, raw iron all hung precariously over-head and in the middle of the room was a massive Demon Forged with the skeletons of the many engineers and artisans chained to it’s body. The heroes surrounded the Demon Forged and finally Rostam attacked, taking it’s head off in a single stroke.

It was only then that the Mad Wraiths descedned from the gantry and with their mad whispering began to sow discord and destruction within the fellowship. Soon Lazerus and Maksim were down and it seemed the tale of the South Gate Company would come to an end in this dark and rusted room surrounded by the insane Wraiths of a lost age.

But Rostam and Tarik picked their allies up from the floor and dragged them to safety, fighting against the madness as they fled the room and out of the ruin. The Wraiths, perhaps tied to the place of their death did not follow.

After this narrow escape, the heroes rested.

Opponents: 5 Mad Wraiths, Debris from the Gantry

Rewards:

  • None

Encounter 3: Gnolls go Boom!
When they returned to the Forge the heroes decided to avoid the Wraiths for now, and instead went another direction in the dark and twisted ruin. They encountered a room packed with Mage Powder, a powerful explosive. Someone many years ago rigged the Forge to explode and for some reason failed to detonate the explosives. Fuses were everywhere and several confused and curious Gnolls stood over them with their crude swamp-tar torches.

As the heroes watched with horror an ember fell from a Gnoll torch and lit one of the fuses. Confused and excited the Gnolls began to follow the sparkling fuse, not understanding the doom they were about to bring down on all. The heroes rushed in and began to kill the Gnolls while putting out more fuses ignited by the excited Gnolls dropping their torches.

Opponents: 4 Graywall Gnolls, 2 Gnoll Huntmasters

Rewards:

  • 1100 EXP
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Chapter 18: The Shadowfell

The heroes continued to search the laboratory tower for information about Sanctuary.

Encounter 1: The Specimen Room
As the heroes crawled up into the dark tower in the cursed city they found a shadowy room filled with once living creatures kept preserved in jars or all shapes and sizes. Among the jars were the living dead and an ancient brain preserved in a magical jar.

Here the heroes cleverly planted a fake map that appeared to show the way to Sanctuary but would actually take a traveler into the deep desert.

Opponents: 3 Wights, 1 Brain in a Jar

Rewards:

  • 850 EXP
  • 1 Ironskin Belt

Encounter 2: The Binding Room
The people of the Urus had traficked with demons and their city paid the price. Here experiments were done in demon summoning and demon binding in the creation of the the terrible Demon Forged. Here an old demon remained, bound to protect the top levels of the tower. The heroes broke the seel and defeated the demon to gain access to the upper levels.

Opponents: 1 Caged Demon, 4 Lesser Manes

Rewards:

  • 1000 EXP

Encounter 3: The Shadowfell
As the heroes passed through the door to the next level they discovered that the top parts of the tower were trapped in the Shadowfell. As they searched for a way to free the top of the tower from the realm of the dead, they were attacked by the strange shadowy people of the dark realm.

Opponents: 6 Shadow Spirits

Rewards:

  • 1050 EXP

Encounter 4: The Shadow Engine
At the top of the tower the heroes found an ancient mechamechanical device that was creating the portal to the Shadowfell. The heroes shut the device down and were then attaked by Dark Ones who came in waves out of rifts in the Shadowfell. Even as the top of the tower began to return to the material plane the Shadow Ones attacked, trying to keep the engine working and keep the portal open.

Opponents: 10 Dark Ones, 4 Shadow Bolters

Rewards:

Encounter 5: The Cannons
The heroes went for the Armory next without stopping for a rest, hoping to destroy the massive Demon Forged before it is un-earthed by the Gnolls. As they entered the Armory they saw that the Gnolls were in fact already here and were trying to figure out how to work the ancient cannons stored in the room. As the heroes attacked they saw that the Gnolls had already figured out enough to fire the old machines.

Opponents: 4 Gnoll Scavengers, 2 Gnoll Pack Hunters

Rewards:

  • 900 EXP
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Chapter 17: The Laboratory

Our heroes decided they needed to find and destroy any information about Sanctuary. With the Gnolls searching the city the heroes crawled through the ruins looking for a way to the Laboratory where most of the city’s ancient knowledge is contained.

Encounter 1: One Shot – One Kill
There was a single Gnoll Sentry outside the tower, wearing a helmet and breastplate and carrying a battle horn. Fearing the sentry would sound the alarm before they could get close, the heroes prepared a single perfect shot, enchanting an arrow so it would be invisible before Caelthal shot the creaure through the throat. If the shot had missed and the alarm had been raised, the heroes would certainly have battled a much larger force.

Opponents: 1 Gnoll Sentry

Rewards:

  • 1000 EXP

Encounter 2: The Alchemy Lab
As the heroes entered the lab they came upon a room filled with books, any of which might contain information about Sanctuary. A giant Demon Forged sat quiet in the middle of the room. As the heroes searched they noticed many skeletons in the room were missing their hands and the Demon Forged was decoratd with skeletal fingers. As they approached the Demon Forged the heroes feared it would come to life. Meanwhile strange shapes could be seen moving under a nearby door as though someone was still alive.

As Lazerus approached the Demon Forged a swarm of undead hands burst out of the creature and skittered across the floor. Then packs of crawling hands appeared from under nearby tables and attacked as the wraith of an alchemist came out from a back room. Thinking fast the heroes began to grab and hurl unstable explosives from the nearby alchemy tables on the swarms of hands. After a fierce battle, the room fell quiet.

Opponents: 4 Crawling Claw Swarms, 1 Wraith

Rewards:

Encounter 3: The Tanks
The next room contained huge bubbling tanks filled with strange and toxic alchemical goo. A scouting party of Gnolls was moving through the room turning valves and activating pumps without any real knowledge of what they were doing. Soon they paid for their ignorance. As the heroes attacked various slimes oozed out of the cracking tanks to attack both parties.

Opponents: 5 Gnoll Scavengers, 4 Green Slimes, 1 Ochre Jelly

Rewards:

  • 1200 EXP
  • Toxic Chemicals worth 50 GP.
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