Merchant Deskyr Thantarim invited us to meet him in Suzail, the capital of Cormyr. He wanted us to raid his old family vault in Urmlaspyr, under the nose of the Netherese Shadovar. The old family manse was located in the Forbidden Zone. He paid us twenty gold coins as down payment. More would wait upon the results of whatever we brought back.
I used part of my pay to buy a climber’s kit and two sunrods. I have heard that the Netherese put a wall around the Forbidden Zone and that a dark cloud hangs over it.
Until I actually saw it as our ship approached, I had not realized just what that meant. The cloud over the city is like an inkblot. It is never brighter than twilight and youngsters earn coin by holding lanterns and guiding visitors. Gawain overheard some murmur about people disappearing near the Forbidden Zone, but the speaker noticed him and quickly turned away without saying more.
There is a wide avenue all around the walls of the Forbidden Zone. To cross it without getting spotted, we hired someone to create a disturbance. Efink used some spell, I think he said that it was a minor spell called Ghost Sound, to add to the distraction. Gawain and Dayerth snuck across, before Gawain climbed up the wall. Dayerth disappeared and reappeared on top of the wall. They lowered a rope to pull me up, as I never did learn to climb. They pulled up the other two before the patrol reached us and we were inside the Forbidden Zone.
Efink said that the Shadow Fell overlaps the Forbidden Zone and that could cause us to see and hear things that were not there. I certainly hope that the things I glimpsed do not exist.
We had to clamber over rubble on our way to the old manor house. The streets were practically choked with it.
We finally reached the Thantarem family manor; it was little more than charred rubble. Part of the exterior walls still stood but no more than that. The gardens were reduced to mud and dead trees; they must have been beautiful once, if a little tame. Dayerth found a shrine to Tymora in the garden. I helped him to clean it up. Gawain and Efink also loaned a hand.
Dayerth and Gawain found the vault entrance and cleared it out. Efink was able to help them but I was able to do little of any assistance. Such rubble did seem to promise that no one else had looted the vault since the family left.
The entrance was a set of double doors, but they had been smashed open. The rubble half filled a pit behind the doors. Gawain spotted something odd about some of the floor tiles and recommended that we avoid them. Statues once lined the hall of the vault, but only seven remained intact. Gawain, with his keen eyes, spotted something in the pit behind the door. It hissed and headed towards us.
[the following is in combat rounds as I took the notes]
Gawain reached the edge of the pit and managed a keen throw with his hand axe, hitting the creature. I pulled out a crossbow, but I missed. Dayerth got to the pit and he marked the little thing. Efink joined him and hit the wall with Frost Ray. He said it was some kind of homunculus. It flew out of the pit, next to Dayerth, who missed it anyway. It tried to do something to him but failed. Another one came out of one of the niches in the wall and dazed Efink, who claimed that he could no longer see what had attacked him. Longtom cursed the winged little creature and hit it with dark crackling energy.
Gawain reached the construct, getting clawed for his pains. He hit it twice, a blow that he called Twin Strike, and the second blow destroyed it. I missed again. Dayerth reached the other construct and used his Swordburst but missed it. He marked it anyway. An Iron Cobra appeared in the light shed by our sunrod. Efink cast Magic Missile and hit it. The remaining homunculi somehow attacked Dayerth, leaving him dazed. Efink said that the things attack the mind. Longtom circled the pit, cursed the little thing and eldritch blasted it.
Gawain joined Dayerth, by the homunculi, marked it as his hunter’s quarry, before carefully attacking with his battleaxe. My bolt hit the iron cobra but just bounced off its scales. Dayerth recovered from whatever the homunculi had done to him. The cobra bit him. Something else attacked him, leaving him dazed and confused [another iron cobra, outside the reach of our lights]. Efink cast Ray of Enfeeblement on the iron cobra, in vain, so he cast Ray of Frost on it [1 Action Point]. He was able to see the homunculi again as it shifted over and mind-zapped Longtom. Longtom cursed the iron cobra, blasted it and used vampiric embrace, at least that is what I think he called it. Both the cobra and Longtom were bloodied by that point.
Gawain finished off the small winged homunculi. The first cobra bit me as I went to Dayerth’s aid. He suffered from the poison damage and hacked into the cobra. It did something to my mind, leaving me dazed and slowed. The other cobra bit Gawain, deeply [crit]. Efink cast Ray of Frost with his orb to keep the cobra slowed. Longtom cursed the second cobra.
Bloodied Gawain twice [1 AP] used his Twin Strike to attack the second cobra; he missed the first two blows but the second two both hit. One blow cut deeply into the thing’s scales [crit]. I used Healing Word on Dayerth, leaving him unbloodied. He caught his second wind and recovered from the effects of the poison. The second cobra charged Longtom; it passed me but I missed it. Longtom recovered from the snake’s poison.
Gawain continued with his double blows as he flanked the cobra and hit both times. I moved out of the way and recovered from what the snake had done to me (poisoned, slowed, & dazed). Dayerth marked the second cobra and also recovered. The second cobra shifted out of flank and bit Dayerth. The first one used its mind attack on Longtom but failed to do anything to him, so it backed off. Efink’s spell went wild. Longtom used hellish rebuke but missed. He moved and also recovered from the poison.
Gawain used his Careful Strike on the second cobra. I breathed across the first cobra but my lightning failed to do anything. Dayerth’s sword blow destroyed the second cobra and he joined me. The first cobra attacked me again with its mind trick, leaving me slowed and dazed again. Efink’s Magic Missiles missed. Longtom moved to hide in the shadow of a statue. He then managed a keen shot with his eldritch blast [crit] and destroyed the remaining cobra. Longtom investigated the skeleton that was caught on one of the statues. He found some valuables; trinkets really. Someone had been down here after all. But whoever it was did not leave again.
Gawain climbed past the statue and looked for a control panel. I caught my second wind. Dayerth stepped past the odd floorstones to help Gawain look. Efink and Longtom caught their second winds.
Gawain tried to work the panel that he found. I used Healing Word on Dayerth. Those of us not working on the panel shoved a statue so that we would have to try and climb over them.
Gawain fell into the pit as he went to retrieve his axe. He climbed back out safely and without help.
We took a short rest before continuing on into the vault; taking the time to heal.
The vault doors were unlocked and the vault itself was a respectable size. It was quite dusty with crates and wrapped art scattered around the room. Dayerth used the scroll of Tenser’s Floating Disk that our employer gave us and we stacked crates and large valuables on it until it could hold no more. Gawain kept watch until we finished the loading..
Everything went smoothly until we left the vault.
Three ghostly soldiers blocked our way and two of them attacked Gawain and Dayerth. Although only Gawain is hit; both are marked. Dayerth’s Swordburst hit the pair, marking the one facing Gawain. Gawain used Dire Wolverine Strike to hit both ghosts; striking sharply enough (crit) to bloody the one in front of Dayerth. A specter came half through the wall and sent out a burst of energy [Spectral Barrage]. It hit me, Longtom, Dayerth and Gawain; knocking us down. I tried to channel Silvanus to turn them away but only mildly damaged them [miss]. Longtom stood up and backed off. One of them hit him but he managed to hide (1AP) and Flames [daily spell] sharply [crit]. Efink cast Flame Sphere on the ghost fighting Gawain.
Both ghost soldiers were bloodied by this point, and both were burned. They continued to attack Dayerth and Gawain. After hitting Dayerth the ghost shifted back, allowing the third one to take his/its place. Luckily, the new one’s swing missed the eladrin. The last one hit Gawain, though. Dayerth stood up and used his Swordburst again, but he only hit the bloodied one facing Gawain. Gawain stood and used his Jaws of the Wolf attack on the ghost soldier, tagging it as his quarry. The specter called skeletons forth and retreated back into the wall as it burned. Two skeletons attacked Longtom and two more attacked Efink. Only one managed to land a blow on the half-elf, but the wizard was struck by both. I breathed over the skeletons but only destroyed one, hurting Efink. I used Healing Word on him, enough that he was no longer bloodied. Longtom cursed a skeleton and then retreated. All three swung at him; one managing to catch him off balance [crit]. He hit them with Scorching Burst but only hit one. Efink shifted and maintained his Flame Sphere. One skeleton swung at the wizard as he cast scorching burst on the farther two, but he missed.
The flaming sphere destroyed one ghostly figure but both Gawain and Dayerth were hurt by this point. Dayerth’s sword burst missed but Gawain’s twin strike hit both ghosts. The specter was burned by the sphere but landed a glancing blow on Gawain [min dmg]. I prayed for Sacred Flame to hit the specter as a skeleton clawed me. Longtom caught his second wind and cursed another skeleton. Efink maintained his sphere but missed the skeleton, but his [1 AP] scorching burst destroyed one.
The flaming sphere continued to burn the soldiers, who hit the two in the front line. Dayerth marked the specter and used his swordburst again, hitting the bloodied ghost. Gawain’s Twin Strike missed but he [1 AP] caught his second wind. The specter landed a blow on Gawain but Dayerth blocked the damage. I used my last Healing Word to tend Efink’s wounds. The skeletons hit us both. Longtom used Vampiric Embrace on the third soldier, I’m not certain how that works on a ghost, as the specter and a skeleton hit him. Efink continued to keep his sphere burning and used it to attack and destroy the wounded ghost, before he moved it to where it would burn the skeletons.
A ghost soldier landed a solid blow [crit] on Dayerth, who caught his second wind and [1 AP] used his Whirling Blade attack on it and the specter. He bloodied the soldier as he shifted toward the shrine. Gawain hit the specter with both of his Twin Strikes, but it followed Dayerth, going invisible. I caught my second wind. The flame sphere destroyed the skeleton as Longtom cursed the soldier and his hellish rebuke smote it [crit]. Efink was burned by his own sphere before he moved it to flank the soldier; it burned the ghost to vapor.
With our undead foes vanquished or vanished we rested before heading for the wall. We made all possible speed and surprisingly managed to cross back into the city without attracting attention.
During the voyage, Dayerth made a copy of a map that we found in the goods. We returned to Deskar and delivered the crates and artwork to merchant Thantarim. He rewarded us and we went our separate ways.