Box, Book and Cavern

From Ardrana

This adventure began upon the party being transported back to Nazivonema from their previous mission by Fasir. The first order of business for the party was to make arrangements to get Mace Nighthammer and Molbo resurrected. In the process, the party met Keladryn, a priest of Sedric who aided in the first ritual.

Message for Mace

Upon his return to the Red Dragon Inn the next day, Mace found a message from his guild waiting for him, telling him that his presence was required back in Hanmer. While waiting at the RDI, the party is joined by three new arrivals: Thunderklak and Sildar, a pair of mercenaries, and CloudStorm, a ranger and follower of Vendamatrix. Molbo was to be raised at The Great Waystation that night, but it failed. Larren, the high priest of Sedric, told them that Father Laremand, who had been able to resurrect Thesgna prior to their journey, had died, and there was no longer any priest in the city who could perform such mighty magic. Thus, Molbo's return would have to wait until the party arrived in Hanmer as well.

After making arrangements with one of his contacts, Slash, in the city, it was determined that the party would make their way to Hanmer in the guise of caravan guards so as not to arouse the suspicions of Duke Mirdael. The caravan was led by another of Mace's allies, a low-ranking member of the local thieves' guild member named Harold. They were also joined by an alchemist named Sarlon, his assistant Milo, his personal healer, Bobedlou, and his bodyguard Gillek. Other drivers of the caravan were Harold's fiancee, Lucille, a lizard man named Scangis, and two other members of the thieves' guild, Barf and Blade. Slash provided them with paperwork to allow the caravan to pass into the Duke's land, Hanaellan, unimpeded.

On the road

The party began traveling along the East-West Road and soon found themselves near the bridge over the Adrilon River, the border of Hanaellan. Lyden scouted ahead, and spotted a group of large creatures guarding the bridge. He moved ahead to parley with them, and found that they were creatures called giff, hired by the Duke to ensure nobody without proper permission would be allowed to pass. Fortunately, Slash's paperwork was judged to be in order, and the party moved on.

After several days of cross-country travel, during which Brin was killed during a battle against some hill giants, the party reached The Crossroads, where the party stopped for the night. It was here that the party met Lady Allegra Brownstoke and her companions. SpringRite, Mace, and Lyden met with her and discover that she, too, is hiding from Duke Mirdael. The group offerred assistance, but she demurred, asking that they meet in Hanmer later to discuss things. The party then set out south along the King's Road and after a few days arrived in Hanmer.

Which one, which one?

Upon making contact with his guild, Mace found out from Thanos, one of his superiors, what their mission was to be. The guild had been contracted to destroy a certain magical item, which was carried in a magic-dampening metallic box. At this point, the method for destroying the item was not mentioned, but it was said that it involved going into an underground labyrinth somewhere within Duke Mirdael's lands, off to the north and west.

Meanwhile, the party was also discussing helping Lady Allegra, who was in search of a key that would open a magical book that she inherited from her late mother. Before agreeing to allow them to join her, Allegra informed them that they would have to sign a very special contract, which would require them to act in her best interests for its duration or be subject to a geas.

As the Facilitators' Guild was concerned that nobody know of this mission, they eventually agreed that the party would take on Allegra's mission as "cover" for this one since, as fate would have it, the key was rumored to be in this self-same labyrinth, which Allegra knew to be an ancient Dwarven ruin, the entrance to which was located south of the city of Semmarch.

At one point, Mace became suspicious of Sarlon, who seemed to be going off in secret from time to time. He asked the guild to keep an eye on him, and eventually it was discovered he was meeting with a weapons dealer named Vance. Though Mace was still suspicious, he did not pursue it further.

To the Dwarven ruins

Eventually, the party left the city and met with Antos and Delmar, who were charged with carrying the box and ensuring its secrecy and, eventually, its destruction, by the guild. It was at this point that the party was told the means to destroy the item. It was to be taken deep into the labyrinth, where lay the Heart of the Earth, which Gillek informed them would only reappear when the end of the world was near. This understandably made the party nervous, and they decided they would find out more information about this if they could.

During the journey, the party had an odd encounter. The party came upon a stand of trees with a plume of smoke coming nearby. An investigation discovered a hunter's cabin, which the party avoided. Moving on toward the trees, the party decided to circle around. As they did, they were challenged by a group of mysterious beings who would not allow them to pass unless they fought. When it became obvious that they were defeated, the beings disappeared, never stating their intent.

The "haunted" house

Later, the party sought refuge in an abandoned farmhouse during a severe thunderstorm. People began disappearing mysteriously, and eventually it was discovered that the farmhouse was used by the Red Dragon Inn as a place to drop troublesome people following a stay in a confinement area. The confinement area itself, located on the Astral Plane, had been discovered by the githyanki, who were attempting to gain information on both missions. They threatened to kill the trapped party members if the box and Allegra's book were not turned over to them. The githyanki were driven off by a combination of Sevreen and Mace attacking them, followed by an appearance by one of the RDI's administrators, but not before Allegra's servant Josephine had disappeared. She is presumed to have been killed, but her remains were never found.

At this point, with the new knowledge that the githyanki were after whatever was in the box, the mission turned into a quest to discover the nature of that item. Also, at this point, it was decided that Endymion would be released from the contract he'd signed, because Allegra felt he had not acted well in first agreeing, then backing out on an attempt to rescue Josephine. This removal, Allegra said, would erase all memory of her mission, and would transport him immediately back to the place where the contract was signed. Endymion agreed, and he was returned to Hanmer.

Split the party

This led the party to Semmarch, where they consulted with the sage Krynolith Whisperwind. After reviewing the information, he determined that it was possible that the box contained one of three powerful magical artifacts: Black Razor, the Sword of the Ancients, or The Box. Since the legends say that the destruction of any one of these items could bring about great chaos and destruction, it was determined that part of the group -- Mace, Antos, Delmar, Molbo, CloudStorm, Gabriella, NightShade, and Ashton Warrendale -- would go to Jar-Kahn in an attempt to discover the contents of the box, while the rest would accompany Allegra to attempt to complete her mission. The group going to Jar-Kahn met briefly with Season Pallianor, daughter of one of Krynolith's contacts there, and she brought them back there with her.

This plan hit a snag, however, when the party attempted to leave the city. Lyden had arranged with Morgan Bestler, head of the local thieves' guild, to leave through a secret passage that led to the bank of a nearby river. However, as the party was escaping, the handlers lost control of their mules, one of which kicked one of the side walls of the passage, causing it to partially collapse. The thieves suspected treachery (a suspicion that gained credence when Klak threw a thunderstone at them), and called the city guard on the party. Most of the party escaped, but in the process lost all their mules and several of their horses, and Sildar, Burt, Chuck and Pancho were arrested.

A fateful decision

When the party regrouped outside the city, Allegra decided that it was best to remove the names of those captured from the contract, since that would prevent Duke Mirdael's men from finding out that she was in his lands. However, that prevention would not last long, as the party soon ran into a group of the Duke's guards coming from The Crossroads to investigate the disturbance in Semmarch. One of the guards recognized SpringRite and asked the entire party to accompany them back to The Crossroads for questioning. The party did so, but secretly decided that they would kill the guards before reaching their destination, which they were able to do after a short battle. Unfortunately, following that incident, Allegra and her associates decided that the danger was too great, and abandoned the rest of the group by vanishing from their tent, effectively ending the adventure.

Cast of characters

Characters involved at various points during this adventure included:

Adventure timeline

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Rescuing the Crock of Cheese Box, Book and Cavern The Missing Mace Case