May 29, 2016

15th Day of Planting, CY 579

It's early evening on the 15th day of Planting. Farmers are back to tending their fields, but the air is different around Hommlet. Many of those same farmers are carrying swords openly, and wearing armor when walking around. Burne's Badgers (that's the name they go by) are patrolling the streets and archers are always in view atop some building. But people are in good spirits nonetheless, pleased that a great evil has been driven from its hideout nearby.

Pontus and Sarril are in the main room of the inn having dinner. Elmo has joined them, and is sharing what he knows of the Temple:


For many years, a cult of chaotic evil flourished in a hidden location somewhere on the border of the Viscounty of Verbobonc. Such a gathering of evil was unprecedented in the Flanaess and, after a time, all of the forces of good, and those who wished to preserve balance, gathered under the leadership St. Cuthbert and fought a series of battles to destroy or drive away the forces of evil and attempted to raze the temple. It is now known that attempts to completely destroy the temple failed, and so the doors were sealed with the most powerful wards the mages and priests could muster, to trap the evil inside and prevent anyone else from entering. Who or what was behind the temple was unknown, as the cultists seemed to worship more than one evil deity, but the following information has been pieced together by those charged with watching the temple.

The cult was based on the premise that the elemental forces of the universe are chaotic and opposed to mankind, and are thus (from a human centric viewpoint) evil. The temple of the cult sought to destroy all works of good and to disrupt order. Its members were thieves, assassins, brigands, and the like.

Fire was regarded as the first elemental evil, and its penchant for chaos fitted the premise of the cult. Water was likewise worshipped as an even more powerful force of chaotic evil, in the form of floods, storms, and raging seas beating upon the land and ocean vessels. The epitome of chaotic evil, however, was regarded as a combination of air and earth, represented by blackness and corresponding with the demonic Abyss. This combination was regarded as a complete negation of matter.

The cult grew powerful and rich, attracting followers of the worst sort and offering them safety within the walls of the Temple stronghold. From this fortress would the followers ride to rob, pillage, and lay waste the lands about, tithing the cult from the spoils of the carnage. Captives from those raids were brought back to the temple to serve as human sacrifices (children to the fire, men to the water, and women to the blackest evil) or to slave their lives away in bondage. Besides the extensive upper works of the temple, a deep labyrinth beneath the place was constructed, but virtually nothing is known about these dungeons except that they were inhabited by a plethora of creatures serving chaos and evil.

It is rumored that a demon took up abode in the deepest level, to better receive the sacrifices to it. Some believe that something even more sinister lurks below. After all, what power could bring together and hold all of the forces of evil, and resist destruction from the mightiest priests and mages in all of the Flanaess?


A messenger comes into the Inn. He holds up a rolled up parchment with the seal of the Viscount of Verbobonc on it and declares "I have a message for Elmo. Can someone direct me to him?"

Elmo stands up and says "I am Elmo" and takes the message. He breaks the seal and reads it to himself. Then he sits back down to finish his dinner.

"It seems I have been summoned. I won't be able to accompany you to Nulb after all. I will not fault you if you choose not to go, but if you do, please send word back to my father if you discover the fate of Otis."

As he says those words, the doors to the Inn open again, and in walks Athan. He is thin (thinner than normal), disheveled and dirty from head to toe. He looks like absolute shit.

Elmo provides the party with a map:


The quiet village of Hommlet is not so quiet anymore. Regular militia are seen about and patrolling the streets, but everyone is in good spirits and smile and say hello as the party passes. The Trader's shop is boarded up with a guard posted out front to deter looters, but all other businesses are doing well (The Inn, the Moneychanger, The Brewmeister, The Wainwright, The Smith, and others). The Temple of St. Cuthbert seems busy as of late. Many of the older folks in the village practice the Old Faith (as is evidenced by acorns over their doors), but the younger folks here are reinvigorating their faith in St. Cuthbert of the Cudgel, which is no surprise given that a party of brave adventurers just recently confirmed the Temple of Elemental Evil is active again.

The party heads to Jaroo's grove, where they find tools laid out and ready, as if he knew they were coming. The bear sees Pontus and turns and walks away. Jaroo comes out of his house and sees Athan and says "I am glad to see you have recovered. I wasn't entirely sure you would make it."

"Word of your deeds has already made its way to the Viscount, as well as to the Druids of the Gnarley Forest. I hear the gnomes in the Kron Hills are aware as well, and one particular gnome may be setting up shop in Hommlet soon."

"You will be safe here in Hommlet, but beware when and if you depart this place. Agents of the temple have spies everywhere and they won't take too kindly to the slaying of one of their own."

"Rannos has not yet been found, and I suspect he has told his masters about you by now."

He then says, "Now if you will excuse me, I have a meeting to attend with my brethren." He then takes a couple of steps into the woods and disappears completely.

Pontus then picks up the tools and begins the process of the repairing the damaged root cellar.

May 28, 2016

8th Day of Planting, CY 579

Pontus, Sarril, Athan and Delvin return to the moathouse, determined to find Lareth the Beautiful and bring down his operation. They manage to smartly and carefully clear out everything on the lower level, saving Lareth for last. All that was left were some zombies, ghouls, a giant crayfish, and some green slime on a staircase that the party had previously avoided. They realized that with a druid in the party, they could use the Affect Normal Fires spell to light-up the staircase and get rid of the slime and use spears they found in a storage room to keep their distance and kill the crayfish. The zombies were no problem, and neither were the ghouls so long as they worked as a team (Pontus got paralyzed, but it wasn't permanent).

After fighting the ghouls, Athan discovered a tunnel dug out of the side of the wall that led to a nest of bones. Probably where the ghouls took their victims. The nest had dirt tunnels going in every direction, small enough that a skinny elf could barely crawl through. Athan knew such tunnels must lead to treasure eventually, and decided to crawl through. After a few hours of crawling, he became hopelessly lost. The rest of the party decided he must have suffocated, and moved on to deal with Lareth on their own.

The party came up with a plan, which involved using the new found Scroll of Stinking Cloud to disable Lareth's men. It worked pretty well, and the party was able to quickly dispatch everyone but Lareth, who ran into his personal room to get away from the cloud. But Sarril was ready. As soon as the cloud cleared, he charged into the room with a Silence 15' Radius that he cast directly at Lareth, disabling his spellpower. While he was unable to cast, Pontus engaged him in melee combat and overwhelmed him. When all was said and done, the party looked down on the one called Lareth the Beautiful, priest of Lolth. The term "beautiful" must have been a sarcastic insult, because Lareth's face was horribly disfigured. The skin over his entire mouth, lips, chin and throat were terribly burned, as if by fire or acid.

Inside Lareth's office were ledgers, journals, letters, scrolls and other documents that needed to be sorted through. The party then found another exit down a long tunnel from Lareth's den that opened up on the side of a nearby hill. This is how they were operating and getting supplies in and out without going through the moathouse above. The party decided to go back to town and make a deal with the village that they would get a share of all treasure if they could arrange to bring it all back. Soon, several of the town militia had secured the moathouse and started packing.

Sarril informed Jaroo of the unfortunate fate of Athan. Jaroo said he would help look for him in the tunnels and let them know if he finds anything. The party then rested for several days while sorting through all of the paperwork from Lareth, seeing what they could find out about his operation. Here is what they found out.

Lareth the Beautiful was one of several clerics establishing outposts for spying, recruiting and collecting supplies for a growing cult of Temple followers
Rannos Davil was part of the spy ring, and was helping to supply the cult, through Lareth.
Lareth kept a lot of records, but not much in the way of personal notes.
There is one journal uncovered which seemed to belong to his Lieutenant. Most of the pages were illegible, but the following stood out.
"Lubash informs me that the gnome doesn’t know anything about Lysander or his whereabouts. I have no reason to believe he is lying as not all gnomes know each other. But Lubash does so enjoy his work, so I am letting him keep his new pets. That should keep him satiated for a while.

But I do not trust Lubash with Gareth. The information he holds is too important to risk death at the hands of that brute. I gave Gareth to the master himself, and I shudder to think about what cruel and hideous things he was subjected to during his interrogations. While I never saw a mark on him, the screams I heard coming from the master’s room were enough to make some of my men soil their pants. I’d rather face the ghouls in the crypts than hear another night of that.

But this man is impressive. Even the master’s unique methods could not break him. I am told he is being sent to the tower, where they have some “special” ways of making people talk. I’m just glad to be rid of the screaming."

7th Day of Planting, CY 579

Today the party decided to stay in Hommlet and rest. Going to the moathouse is dangerous work that seems to result in injuries. The party decided they would return to the moathouse the following day, and in the meantime, do some things around town.

Athan met Elmo in the Inn. Elmo hangs out at the Inn a lot, and seems to like to drink. But he was a nice enough man, and seemed to be a well-equipped fighter. Indeed, Elmo explained he was a member of the village militia, though his services haven't been needed much lately. His brother, Otis, is a well-known fighter who serves the Viscount. Otis went to the Town of Nulb on a mission from the Viscount a few months ago, but hasn't come back, which has Elmo concerned, given that Nulb is a well-known den of evil pirates, thieves and assassins. He also believes that Canoness Y'Dey must have suffered the same fate as his brother, since the two of them left together and neither has been seen or heard from since.

Athan and Sarril decided to visit Canon Terjon to see if he knew anything about the "yellow eye of fire" symbol. As they were on their way to the Temple of St. Cuthbert, they were ambushed by an assassin, who was none other than Gremag, business partner of Rannos Davl who runs the trade shop. They managed to adequately defend themselves and kill Gremag. Searching his body, they found, in addition to his poisoned dagger, the same "Yellow Eye of Fire" symbol, and a letter. The letter enumerated specific items that needed to be supplied to the Temple of Elemental Evil. It was signed by Lareth the Beautiful, with the symbol of Lolth.

The party took this information to Jack, the Village Elder, who immediately called a town meeting to discuss the matter. During the meeting, the party was able to get confirmation that the Yellow Eye of Fire is a symbol that was once associated with the nearby Temple of Elemental Evil. They are told how the temple was never completely destroyed, and how former agents of the temple continue to operate, always trying to recruit and rebuild. Several people, including local lords Rufus and Burne, and other agents of the Viscount, like Elmo's brother Otis, are constantly watching. Jack is quite disturbed that two of the temple's agents were able to operate in Hommlet, undetected, for so long. He reports that as soon as they found out about Gremag, Rufus sent his men to trade shop to arrest Rannos, but Rannos Davl had already fled. The shop was now boarded up and under guard while the village decides what to do. It was also reported that, in going through Rannos' journals, he was supplying weapons and goods to Lareth who works out of the moathouse. The bugbears and the men the party encountered there must work for Lareth. Rannos apparently had a sinister scheme working where he put out rumors that he knew of dungeon full of wondrous magic and treasure, and had the only map known to exist. Adventuring parties, hearing about the rumor, would come to his shop and pay him handsomely for the map. If the party looked like an easy target and had good gear or treasure on them, he would have them ambushed outside of town and their stuff taken from them. Jack showed the group a stack of scrolls with the same map copied on every one. They matched the map the party found on the dead group outside the village before they got here.