Rescuing the Crock of Cheese

From Ardrana

This adventure began in Nazivonema, where Mace Nighthammer and his party were in debt to the Allied Temples for having Thesgna resurrected following the conclusion of their previous mission. Things got even more rocky when Laremand, one of the high-ranking priests of Sedric, discovered that Thesgna's magical cloak was missing. The matter was referred to the city's investigators, and the party was interrogated by the halfling Frank Brandybuck. After the investigation turned up nothing, the Allied Temples were still suspicious, thus they offered the group the opportunity to prove themselves trustworthy.

The mission introduced

The group was introduced to Molbo, who had recently learned from a messenger from his homeland, Odiferous, that his people's holiest artifact, the Most Sacred Crock of Cheese, had been stolen. It was believed that the Crock had been stolen by the Maluur in the hope that its absence would cause the Odiferans to fight amongst themselves, which indeed had begun to happen.

In return for being absolved of their debt, the party accepted the mission, with a few exceptions. Fiona chose to pay her fee so that she could study with her new mentor Leviticus at the Jar-Kahni School of Arcane Knowledge, Thesgna was required to perform penance at her temple for her misdeeds, and Thomlin stayed in town and agreed to pay his fee so that he might join an acting troupe performing The Ballad of Nevyn. In their place, the party gained representatives of other Allied Temples -- Shem Al Adeen, a holy warrior of Varice, Chargechalk Casselwort, a priest of Sedric, and Molbo, who is a priest of Perasin. As part of his own penance, Hitomi Reju was ordered to represent the temple of Helandra on the mission as well.

The party first went to Hanmer in order to acquire protection from the psionic abilities of the Maluur. To this end, they met with an artificer named Nixron to acquire protective helmets.

Arrival in Stavin

The party arrived at the Red Dragon Inn in Stavin. On their way there via the RDI's transport system, they heard what sounded like whispering voices. Upon their arrival, they reported this to the innkeeper, Prag, who seemed concerned.

After staying the night at the temple of Sedric, the party set out. The party first ran into a pack of yeti, then a white pudding attacked them in their camp. Several party members lost boots, pants, and other equipment in the latter battle. Realizing they were not prepared to make it for weeks in the cold, the party decided to head back to Stavin and find another way.

That night, the party met Glar, a man who ran a caravan across the Camlekian Waste. He was in desperate straits, as his caravan was being attacked repeatedly, and had been unable to complete its last two journeys. This time, all his guards had quit with the exception of a pair of Halflings, Andy and Paul. After some negotiations, the party agreed to hire on as guards, at least as far as Shaiyo.

Also at this time, Alysten received a summons from her trainer, telling her she still needs to work on her magic skills, and she left the group, along with Nevyn.

The caravan

Stavin to Tommard

The party set out, and the following day they encountered a group of riders, led by a man named Davere, escorting a woman named Tarsha to the east. They warned the party not to go to Tommard, which is one of the planned stops for the caravan, as the lord of the city, Beauregard, is not to be trusted.

The caravan continues, and as in its previous trips it is attacked several times. The first was by Grazhnakh, then by a pack of winter wolves. The party became jumpy, and one night noticed something in the distance. The party used several packets of dust of disappearance belonging to Chalk to investigate. They discovered a frost mage named Archivenc, who was performing some kind of ritual while being guarded by ice mephits. The party wound up slaying him, although they later discovered through his assistant Danal that he meant them no harm. The party agreed to bring Archivenc's body with them to the first stop on their journey, the city of Tommard, for a decent burial.

The attacks continued, with the party being waylaid by a cryohydra, and at that point the party decided to take it upon themselves to begin training the caravan drivers in self-defense. An attack by arctic owlbears followed, and on the following day, the party sighted a group of riders. After fearing the worst, the riders hailed the party, and they were an advance scouting party from Tommard. The patrol, led by a soldier named Leanderhood, had ridden out to find the caravan, concerned that this one, too, might not arrive. Leanderhood, along with three other guards -- Vislor, Chester and Jaskab -- escort the caravan into Tommard. Vislor soon became fast friends with Shem, as the two talked often during the journey.

The following day, after yet another attack -- this time by a remorhaz -- it was discovered that one of the caravan drivers was carrying a Stone of Ormas to attract them in order to disrupt the caravan and prevent supplies from being delivered to Tommard. The driver attempted to flee, but was chased down by Leanderhood, SpringRite and Molbo. He admitted to being a member of a group of rebels led by Tarsha -- the very woman the party met several days before, and the daughter of Tommard's ruler, Baron Beauregard. The rebel was turned over to Leanderhood, who had him imprisoned.

While in the city, the party met a bard named Taliesin Gwion and his companion, Fimber, who were on some kind of diplomatic mission for Taliesin's father, a nobleman of Tanilon. After some discussion, it was decided the two would travel with the caravan. Before departing, the party asked Vislor to accompany them as well.

Tommard to Shaiyo

After leaving Tommard, the party set out around the lake. They were warned that there were frost giants who claimed the area for their own, and they soon encountered one. Miraculously, Molbo was able to summon the power of Perasin and forced it to flee. To pay tribute, Molbo made a sacrifice of cheese. Unfortunately, this drew the attention of a purple worm. Upon its defeat, the party explored the tunnel it had made, and the tunnel collapsed into another tunnel below it. While exploring that tunnel, the party ran into a group of drow. After a brief battle, the party retreated, but not before Reju and Chalk had been slain. Eventually, the party reached Shaiyo, where Reju and Chalk were laid to rest.

Shortly after their arrival in Shaiyo, the party was invited to a banquet being held by the Elven king, Lukeon. There, they once again met the oracle Fasir, who spoke after the banquet, telling of the discovery of the Maluur's fortress by Elven scouts, only one of whom -- a ranger named Ciara -- returned. Fasir went on to describe what he thought the Maluur's intentions were: to gain control of all magical nexuses on Ardrana, and thus control all magic. The Maluur's fortress, located several days southeast of Shaiyo, is situated at one of these nexuses.

Fasir also told of spreading unrest in the region, especially in the city of Pei Ling, which he thought to be another effect of the Maluur's presence. This unrest would continue to spread, and would eventually reach even to Shaiyo. Thus, it was decided that two elves of Shaiyo would accompany the party -- Alustrial Falconhand, a fighter with some psionic ability, and HeartString, a priest of Liyyera.

Shaiyo to Odiferous...interrupted

The party determined that they would stage an attack on this fortress, and set out overland from Odiferous. Leaving behind the halfling brothers, Fasir teleported the group to the city, where they discovered much chaos. They met with Prince Uncouthma and High Priest Mightragor, and were told the story of how the Crock was stolen. Here, the group was joined by Tor, a barbarian warrior, and Kilak Fireforge, a friend of Alustrial's.

The group set out for the fortress, crossing the Giralon River on the first day. On the journey, Fasir remotely viewed the stronghold, and was able to discover that the Maluur had summoned a creature from the Lower Planes to guard the Crock of Cheese, which was worrisome.

It wasn't long before the party found that the Maluur was using Grazhnakh to patrol the area around the fortress. In one particularly difficult encounter, the patrol leader let loose with a fireball from a wand he was carrying, killing the remainder of the patrol along with Mace, HeartString, and Tor. At this point, the group decided they needed reinforcements. Tor was given a hero's burial, and Fasir suggested that the party travel to the city of Sigil.

Detour to Sigil

Fasir then transported the group to Sigil, where they immediately came across a dead body. They were met by passing dabus, but the group was unable to understand their language. Shem then spotted a guard patrol, of the Harmonium, and he stayed with them while the party got a room at Chirper's. The next day, Taliesin and NightShade were able to befriend a bariaur named P'ron, who gave them some tips on how to get around the city. Mace and HeartString were brought to their temples to be raised, and the recruitment of mercenaries to aid in the assault on the stronghold commenced.

Molbo went to the local temple of Perasin, where he was able to convince his old friend Aggy to accompany him. He also obtained a dispel evil scroll that would allow him to send the guardian back to the Lower Planes. He also heard about two other old friends who were in Sigil -- the githzerai invoker Naimos and Glenthalos, a paramander dedicated to Laurent -- and convinced them to join the group.

Meanwhile, Mace was charged with heading to the Great Gymnasium, where they hired additional members: a pair of modrons, Mon and Dub, a veteran githzerai warrior named Zomikai, a former Astral Ranger named Rennelly, and Brin and Frin, a pair of Dwarven brothers from Glorium. One who was originally recruited, a tiefling mage named Talanata, was found by Shem to be of evil bent and sent away. She vowed to make trouble for them with the local guilds, so the party agreed to pay her as agreed.

The raid

The two-pronged attack

Everyone returned to Ardrana, and then the attack began. One group, led by Zomikai, stayed outside to draw the attention of the guardians, while the other, led by Mace, went in through a hole in the wall they created using a magical wand to turn the stone to water. The interior group would include Fasir, who would mask the thoughts of that group from the Maluur. They would also be invisible, thanks to several packets of dust of disappearance.

The interior group got off to a shaky start, as it was discovered that the cloak of protection that Mace had purchased in Sigil to replace his ruined one made a buzzing noise, so he was forced to stow it. They made their way to the wall, but miscalculated slightly on the wand's trajectory, causing a large chunk of ground behind the wall to be turned into water as well. The group tried to make their way through it, but some party members slipped into the water-hole, causing some of the invisibility dust to wash off.

The two modrons were sent as the initial force, but were very quickly dispatched by the Grazhnakh stationed along the walls. The exterior group was then attacked by a group of ogres, which they defeated with some encouragement from the bardic song of Taliesin. Gabriella then spotted the Grazhnakh that killed the modrons on the wall, along with a mage. As the group approached the wall, Taliesin set off flying over it to observe the interior.

As the party reached the wall, the Grazhnakh attempt to dump pitch onto the party, but Naimos casts a spell at the barrel, causing it to explode. After several well-placed missiles take out the defenders, the party began making their way onto the wall, helped by Glenthalos' expert lasso work. More defenders arrive, and the party continued their ascent under fire.

Taliesin attempted to land on the roof of the building, but found himself on the ground instead, and was quickly set upon by the trolls which were in the courtyard. He was able to get a warning off to the group before being killed by them. The group continued to move forward, taking out more of the Grazhnakh on the walls. Zomikai, Glenthalos, Gabriella and, eventually, Aggy descended into the courtyard and engaged the trolls. SpringRite accidentally shot Glen with an arrow of darkness, causing a globe of it to pop up, interfering with the efforts of both sides.

After the interior group had found their way through the walls, they discovered the trolls in the courtyard. Naimos let loose with a fireball, killing one, but since some parts of the group are visible, the trolls attack. The Maluur exerted its mind control, and was able to force Zomikai to attack the party, while Aggy was killed by a troll. Naimos followed up with a wall of fog, causing confusion. After a scuffle, Vislor was able to hold Zomikai so that Shem could use his helmet to break their control.

They are able to scramble inside, and Fasir used his powers to cloud the minds of the trolls so that they would not follow. However, they were met by a lightning bolt cast by a mage inside the main building.

On the wall and in the courtyard

On the outside of the building, Fimber learns of Taliesin's death, and asks to recover the body, but the time is not right. Frin is killed by a thrown spear, sending him toppling into the courtyard. Several members of the party discovered a barrel of pitch on the walls and used it to create flaming arrows to attack the trolls and also set the barracks on fire. However, a troll came over and pulled Fimber off the wall and threw him halfway across the courtyard, killing him.

SpringRite, Rennelly and NightShade made their way toward the main building and discover Shem's body. NightShade brought Shem's protective helmet back out and gave it to Vislor while the others continued within and eventually joined with the inside group.

The outer group comes together on the wall. Zomikai breaks his crossbow, and after Fasir's control lets up, he decided the battle was lost, departed, never to be seen again. The group then descended to the outside of the wall, and Naimos, Gabriella and NightShade departed to the Astral Plane. The remaining members of the outside group gathered, and since they were unable to locate the others, Vislor decided to prepare to call lightning. Glen stayed behind to direct him while the others went into the main building.

Inside the main building

The party entered the central building of the fortress, and were met by a mysterious voice. Their invisibility was dispelled, and the party decided to launch a fireball into the area whence the voice came. Unfortunately, the area was too small, and Shem was killed in the backlash.

The interior party discovered that the voice was coming from a stairwell, with stairs both up and down. At first, the party goes up the stairs, where they encounter more ogres. While the combat rages, Alustrial descended the stairs and found another door. When she opened opened it, she was killed nearly instantly by a cloud of poisonous gas within. The group going upstairs, meanwhile, encountered a group of ogres and another spellcaster.

However, opening the door revealed to Molbo that the Crock lay beyond, and leads the group back down. Mace used the elemental wand to open a space to divert the cloud, but caused a surge that propelled him into the ceiling. Molbo recruited Fasir to help him eliminate the cloud, but this briefly caused the guardians outside to regain their senses. Meanwhile, the spellcaster created an illusion to confuse the party. The party regrouped and headed downstairs, but Kilak and Rennelly were magically paralyzed, and the mysterious voice threatened to kill them. Molbo and Mace paused to consider their options, and decide to once again find Fasir.

Meanwhile, a halfling thief named Lyden, who had been casing the fortress for some time, discovered the hole in the wall. He entered the fortress and started poking around. After entering the main building, he was discovered by SpringRite and asked to join the siege. He agreed. Mace cast flamespin, but it had no effect. Finally, Molbo lost patience and charged in, The two paralyzed people were hit by a flame strike, killing Rennelly. However, Molbo came face to face with the guardian, a mezzoloth. After a brief battle, Molbo remembered his scroll, and used it to dismiss the daemon.

The group reunites

The party was able to recover the Crock of Cheese from its hiding place in the floor. Just when the party appeared to be victorious, the Maluur tricked them into thinking it was Fasir and stole the Crock of Cheese back from them. The party then pursued the Maluur into an underground storage area, where they cornered him in the process of attempting to open a gate. The Maluur threatened to destroy the crock, but the party pressed their assault, forcing him to flee, but several party members, including Molbo himself, were killed in the battle. Fasir was able to open the gate himself, allowing the remaining party members to return to Odiferous. At first, the barbarians tried to attack the party, thinking they'd killed Molbo, but once the crock was spotted, all fighting ceased.

After a great feast, the group was healed at the temple of Perasin. The next morning, they had breakfast with the prince and the leader of the Odiferan army, General Gouda, where they received their reward for the crock's return. HeartString and Vislor asked for more funds to help raise Mace and Molbo, but Uncouthma only gave them a note promising payment once they had been brought back. The group then suggested using the protective helmets in trade, but did not know how Mace had acquired them. HeartString cast speak with dead on Mace, only to find out that they were on loan. He also learned that Mace wanted the group to return to either Hanmer or Nazivonema. The priest then departed for Shaiyo, bringing Glenthalos' body with him. Fasir agreed to take Shem's body back to the desert along with his camel, while the prince allowed Rennelly to be buried in the Grove of Heroes. Kilak and Vislor also took their leave, and the remaining party members were transported to Nazivonema.

Cast of characters

Characters involved at various points during this adventure included:

Adventure timeline

Previous adventure Current adventure Following adventure
Undead or Not Undead
Re-liberating Tommard
Rescuing the Crock of Cheese Box, Book and Cavern