Against the Cult of Chaos

The Fall of the Cult of Miska

Party
Game Notes

This session was the final session of D&D Encounters at Haven Comics, Etc. By this point, everyone but Chef had reached third level! (Attendance counts! – Ed.)

Session Summary

When the party reached the outskirts of Hommel Lane, Elmo and Otis took their leave. Their family cottages were on the road into town and the family would be relieved to see their lost member returned. The brothers thanked the group profusely for their help before leaving.

The party found quite a commotion waiting for them at Hommel Lane. A crowd had gathered around the giant statue of Haffron Hommel at the heart of the village, even Castellan Zaborr was present. The mouth on the statue's granite face had been reshaped into a smile. Everyone was excitedly talking about what it meant, with the two mayoral candidates claiming that it was a good omen for their own campaigns. Suddenly, the party heard Haffron's voice emerge from the solid stone, deep and bold: "It feels incredible to be whole again, even if I cannot move!"

Several villagers shrieked, and a couple even fainted, at hearing the statue speak. A group of brave children (led by Keveak Becker) ran up to hit the statue's feet with sticks and clubs. Haffron bellowed at them to stop before they chipped his toes. The castellan managed to calm things down, giving the party a chance to explain what had been happening (with Haffron filling in missing details).

Haffron had fought hard against the savage humanoids at the Caves of Chaos, delaying them long enough to cover the party's escape. Eventually, his ectoplasmic form was overwhelmed, but instead of reappearing at the edge of the ravine like he had for centuries, he found himself inhabiting his statue in Hommel Lane. Apparently, removing the last of the evil artifacts from the caves had released him from his personal prison (although he did seem to be a bit stuck in his current form – at least he had a new view).

Haffron also had time to ponder things as the party spent several hours travelling back to the village. The three artifacts found by the heroes: the Chaos Blade, the Death Circlet, and the Scroll of Final Words, were all linked to the demon lord Miska in his other-worldly prison. They helped maintain the link between this world and the demon. Haffron suspected that this link could be used against the demon lord. The artifacts might be able to disrupt the power of the Chaos Mote in the Temple of Chaos.

After everyone had been updated on the situation, Haffron addressed the crowd: "I see that we have two forces of power here, the Lawbringer and the Old Faith. I think I know a way to get these adventurers into the Temple of Chaos at the caves, but we need to work together."

Canoness Yeeday and Druid Ramne appeared suddenly thoughtful, as if listening to something only they could hear. They both nodded in agreement to some compact and then they gathered their respective followers. They asked their people to join them at dawn the next morning for an important ceremony. With that, the crowd dispersed to their homes.

The party returned to the Golden Grain Inn to relax and rest before the next morning. Chef prepared the group a delicious dinner. After their meal, Shiellapho cast identify on the Chaos Blade to learn its powers. He discovered that with every strike, the blade absorbed part of its foe's life force. It shared this energy with its attuned wielder. The Chaos Blade could also form itself into the type of sword most preferred by its wielder. Shiellapho shared this knowledge with the rest of the group and there was a large discussion about using evil to fight evil. However, Brother Carell had retained possession of the Chaos Blade and no matter the arguments, he knew that such an evil artifact could only taint its wielder; no good would come from using it. He shackled the Chaos Blade to his waist using his sets of iron manacles to insure it could not be easily removed from his person.

As the evening grew late, Brother Carell and Brother Edmund returned to the Temple of the Lawbringer and the others retired to their bedrooms. Normally, that would have been the end of the night, but Martiris had sought the help of Chef. The nobleman felt that the Chaos Blade could truly make a difference in their battles the next day. He convinced the halfling to help him by "retrieving" the magical weapon from Brother Carell.

In the wee hours of morning, Chef made her way to the Temple of the Lawbringer. Her skill and tools granted her entry through one of the building's locked doors. Her luck allowed her to find Brother Carell's bedroom. Unfortunately, her luck soon ran out when she tried to stealthily enter the room and find the sword. The creak of the floor boards awoke the priest. Chef raced out of the room while Brother Carell lit a candle on a nearby table. He called out to Brother Edmund to awaken as he followed his mysterious intruder into the hall. Although Chef tried to hide behind a tapestry in the hall, she was spotted by the alert priest. Knowing she was caught, the halfling tried to lie her way out of trouble, but Brother Carell did not believe her obvious fantasies. He and Brother Edmund (who had entered the hall as well by this point) demanded the truth. She finally explained that Martiris had sent her to retrieve the sword. The priests decided that it would be best to focus on the greater evil of the Temple of Chaos, but they promised a reckoning before allowing Chef to leave.

At dawn the next morning, the majority of the town gathered at the statue of Haffron Hommel. Canoness Yeeday and Druid Initiate Ramne asked their respective followers to join in prayer. Chants and songs filled the air, first competing with each other and then joining in near-perfect harmony.

When the prayers ended, both the canoness and the druid looked expectantly at the statue. For a moment, nothing happened, but then the giant stone form stepped off the pedestal. The statue stretched its huge arms and looked down at the party. Haffron's voice boomed out, saying "What are you waiting for? The people of Hommel Lane, my people, must prepare in case we fail, but we are free to take the fight to our enemies: let's go be heroes!"

The party followed in his thundering footsteps as Haffron led the way to the Caves of Chaos. As they traveled, Shiellapho gave Brother Edmund the Death Circlet. The wizard worried that having two artifacts dedicated to Miska the Wolf-Spider on his person might cause problems at the Temple of Chaos. Brother Edmund accepted the circlet, but like Brother Carell and the Chaos Blade, he did not attune himself to the weapon. He did not want to fall under its taint.

On their way to the caves, Haffron discussed their plan of attack. He would walk directly into the ravine, killing any monsters he could find. This battle should distract the evil creatures enough that the party should be able to make their way to the Temple of Chaos in the farthest cavern from the ravine opening. Once there, it will be up to them to destroy the Chaos Mote any way they can.

The plan went into effect as soon as the group reached the caves. Haffron Hommel could have been described as a good of vengeance as he stomped into the ravine, yelling his battle cry and sending bodies flying with every sweep of his huge stone sword. This commotion proved to be quite the distraction and the party managed to sneak past the fray without any problems. The heroes moved along the edges of the ravine and among the twisted trees, eventually emerging over a cave high up on a switchback trail. The group noticed the sigil of the cult of Miska (a gold-trimmed red circle) painted above the cave's entrance.

They moved into the cave, traveling up a natural passageway that turned into a corridor of worked stone. The walls were decorated with the same red and black sigils that the party had seen previously in the moat house dungeon. The corridor led the heroes to a large room that opened to their left. Red and black curtains, emblazoned with the cult symbol, covered the room's walls. A throne, suitable for a giant and made of red-veined black stone, stood against the far wall, with three altars in front of it. A huge silver sphere with a dark crack in its side floated in front of the altars; it could only be the Chaos Mote described by Haffron Hommel. An alcove to the right just before the room held a closed stone door.

Two chanting humans in cult robes flanked the Chaos Mote. Another cultist, a raven-haired woman wearing finer robes and jewelry, watched them from the high throne. Every few moments, she intoned a vile incantation that caused sparks of silver light to shower off the sphere.

The priestess happened to glance over and notice the party assessing the situation. She smiled and said, "The final sacrifices and items of power have arrived, as the Wolf-Spider foretold. Slay these intruders so that we can mete out destiny!" The battle was quickly joined.

The cultists near the sphere were the first foes defeated, but silver lightning arced from the sphere to heal them after they had fallen. The sphere also held an additional surprise: an animated skeleton would burst forth from the Chaos Mote's crack to attack various party members before leaping back into the sphere's confines. As the battle continued, the priestess called upon zombie servants that shambled into the room to fight the heroes.

Fortunately, Brother Carell, Brother Edmund, and Shiellapho all realized that the altars were the key to the Chaos Mote. Their evil auras both channeled and fed the sphere's power. The artifacts that the adventurer's held were all attuned to this power as well, and could be used to disrupt the corrupt power.

Brother Carell was the first to destroy an altar. He rushed forward, drew the Chaos Blade, and called upon the power of the Lawbringer as he drove the sword point-first into an altar. With a loud crack, the stone altar split in two.

A few moments later, Shiellapho destroyed a second by laying the open Scroll of Final Words onto an altar. He called upon the scroll's magic to grant him the knowledge to disrupt the altar's power. He intoned the words of power presented to crack the stone of the altar.

Amidst the priestess' vile spells and the attacks of her followers, both living and dead, Brother Edmund found a respite in the battle to ruin the third and final altar. He placed the Death Circlet on the center of the altar and focused his will on the magical artifact. In the name of the Lawbringer, he demanded it bend to his will and destroy the altar. His will and the will of his god proved stronger than the vile magics of the altar. The final altar split, causing the Chaos Mote to ripple and give off a shower of sparks. The skeleton animated by its foul influence fell to pieces.

Without the healing magic of the Chaos Mote to undo the damage dealt by the party, their other foes began to drop quickly. The Chaos Mote began to shrink. Since it was a conduit to Miska in its prison, the clerics and Shiellapho decided it would be better for the artifacts connected to the demon lord to be in his prison than loose in the world. They raced to throw the artifacts into the shrinking sphere before it vanished… and succeeded! The items could no longer be used to taint the world with the Wolf-Spider's presence!

Her minions defeated, the cult priestess was the last to fall. Her dying breath was filled with powerless curses at the heroes. The party was taking a moment to assess their injuries and enjoy their triumph when the ghost of Haffron Hommel appeared. He flew toward the crumbling bones of the previously-animated skeleton. "That's my skeleton," he called happily. "I have unfinished business with it." The spirit and his bones faded away, leaving his laughter echoing in the chamber. The champion of Hommel Lane had finally found his rest.

When the party left the cave, they found the ravine full of slain monsters and Haffron Hommel's inert statue in the center of it all. The surviving creatures were fighting amongst themselves as the animosities they had before Miska's influence were reasserted. The group managed to leave the area without any undue attention.

Once they reached Hommel Lane, they found the villagers fearfully awaiting word of the battle. Once told of the victory, the villagers took to the streets in celebration. Lord Burne even left his tower to join the festivities and personally thank the party for their heroism. He conferred upon each the title of Knight of Hommel Lane.

In the days following, Devi (sister no longer) was found guilty by Lord Burne in her actions against the people and town. She was sentenced to death along with the possessed bandit who could not be cured and was too dangerous to others to be allowed to live.

Brother Carell and Brother Edmund spoke with Canoness Yeeday about the attempt to steal the Chaos Blade by Chef and Martiris. She decided that the intention of the two had been for good and simply misguided. The dangers they had faced battling the cult was more punishment than any she thought appropriate for their crime. However, the two still needed to admit their wrong and apologize for their actions. Until then, they would receive no aid from the Temple of the Lawbringer in Hommel Lane. Chef immediately apologized, and in the same breath asked if the temple needed a cook. The pride of a nobleman was not a small thing; no apology was immediately forth-coming from the Honourable Martiris.

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