Matt was not present this session, so the part of Ulm was played by Andy. Ulm himself got to really shine when he faced off against a titan, which we decided must be the natural enemy of gnomes everywhere.
Spiritday, 20th of Warmshade, 4433
After resting up from their conflict with the Thornvale Nightmare, the Reprisal Squad departs the Beast’s lair and continues southeast out of the Vale. They do not get far before they hear a mighty bellow. Just upslope from them, they see a 35 foot tall four-armed ape (a girallon behemoth) chasing several man-sized devils (bone devils). The devils also spot the party and rush to attack, resulting in a three-way fight as the pursuing giant ape joins in. Only the party survives.
A search of the dead devils turns up a map of Tilagos Island with three (I think) locations marked. The first is the entry portal and the second is marked “Krathanos.” The third is marked “enemies” and corresponds to the party’s location! The map makes the party suspect the devils were sent by someone to spy on them, probably Kendra.
I painstakingly created this map and printed it out as a handout, but apparently forgot to save an electronic version. Thanks to Ed for uploading it. I’ve added it to the Demi-Plane of Last Resort Page. Dork card for Ed.
Now convinced that Kendra is on to them, the party decides they need to prevent her from using resurrection to duplicate their victory over the Thornvale Nightmare. They return to the cave, cut the horn off of Harrodroth the Nightmare Beast’s body, and push the corpse into a crevasse. They then spend the rest of the day making their way southeast out of the Vale.
Airday, 1st of Sunstrong, 4433
The next morning, as the party prepares to set out, someone spots a magical scrying sensor. The party concludes it is Kendra’s work and Ulm uses a screen spell to make them all seem injured. The group also conducts a fake conversation intended to convince Kendra (or whoever’s watching) that they were unable to defeat the Nightmare Beast. After the sensor winks out, Anmor uses two discern location spells to find first Kendra and then the efreeti they saw with Kendra in Lashonna’s scrying. Both are located near the north coast of the island. The party continues southeast, in the general direction of the location on the map marked “Krathanos,” reaching the middle of the plains between the vale and the forest.
Waterday, 2nd of Sunstrong, 4433
Ulm uses a screen spell to make their campsite look like it’s actually located in the mountains, hoping to deceive Kendra into thinking the party is backtracking on its loop through the mountains. This trick proves worthwhile, since in the morning the party once again spots a scrying sensor. Discern location shows that Kendra has reached the Nightmare Beast cave. She’s traveling with a swiftness that seems beyond the party’s capabilities, but at least she seems to be falling for their ruses. The day’s travel brings the party into the creepy forest once again.
This particular forest is a lonesome, alien landscape. Its black, monolithic trees appear to shift unnaturally without the aid of wind. The canopy blocks out the dim light provided by the overcast skies, and the forest is dark as night as a result. The drooping trees continuously weep a thick black ichor. This sap is oily and foul smelling.
Earthday, 3rd of Sunstrong, 4433
Ulm continues to use his screen to make it look like the party is backtracking. Again, this tactic seems useful, since the morning brings another scrying sensor. Discern location shows Kendra is still loitering at the Nightmare Beast cave. Winding their way through the forest, the party soon stumbles upon a huge clearing. From the edge of this space, they can hear an eerie noise. This sound emanates from a huge tree at the center of the clearing.
The Night Twist
No other tree grows near this 50-foot-tall monstrosity. The menacing tree sways hypnotically, its many black branches undulating like serpents, dancing to the tune of its mournful melody. To some, it’s tune sounds like the weeping of a woman who has lost her beloved, while to others it sounds like the cold baleful wind blowing over a desolate graveyard. The tree is obviously old and unspeakably evil.
In the ensuing battle, the tree nearly slays Kullen, but some fortunate divine intervention (specifically, the last minute use of a dork card) saves the barbarian. After a mighty struggle, the party defeats the tree. The party, quite reasonably, concludes that they have completed another of the Trials of Tilagos Island, the Silence of the Doomshroud’s Mournful Song. They stop to rest. Granuel discovers that, because he struck the killing blow on the Night Twist, he is now subject to its death curse. He is afflicted with horrific nightmares each night, suffering 1d10 damage and becoming fatigued and unable to prepare spells for the next 24 hours. The party does not currently have the means to free Granuel from this curse, so he complains a lot.
Fireday, 4th of Sunstrong, 4433
In the morning, Ulm casts another screen spell, the party spots another scrying sensor, and Anmor uses another discern location on Kendra. It seems Kendra is on the move again and, as usual, has traveled much farther than seems possible. Ignoring Kendra’s location for now, which is beyond a day’s travel. The party makes its way out of the forest, continuing towards the location on the map marked “Krathanos.”
Spiritday, 5th of Sunstrong, 4433
Lather, rinse, repeat: another screen spell, another scrying sensor spotted, and another discern location on Kendra. It looks like she’s moving around at random. The party continues on its route towards Krathanos and soon spots a group of gargoyles circling in the distance. One of the creatures descends and hails them. It claims it was sent by “Krathanos the Conqueror, exiled by the gods for his designs to rule all of creation, and shackled by the treacherous druids of Tilagos until such time as brave stalwarts arrive to free him.” The gargoyle promises the party food, lodging, and respite if they will follow it to its master’s keep.
Keep of the Shackled Conqueror
The weathered walls of the keep are torn and ragged. They appear to have been battered down on more than one occasion, their chipped stone blocks rebuilt haphazardly into makeshift structures with little integrity. Four crumbling towers overlook the outer courtyard. The archway providing entrance into the compound looms empty, its iron portcullis now nothing more than a heap of twisted black metal lying on the ground nearby. In one corner of the ruin are makeshift cages containing a number of (normal-sized) girallons. They shriek and roar as visitors enter, but cannot escape from their iron barred prisons.
Dwelling in this ruin is Krathanos the Conqueror, who turns out to be a titan. He stands nearly 25 feet tall, his towering frame sculpted to perfection, with bulging cords of muscle lining every foot of his gigantic torso. His weapon is an immense spiked warhammer. He wears an enormous belt of solid gold encrusted with fist-sized emeralds. Obviously, this is the belt mentioned in the title of wild watchers’ final trial.
Krathanos proves to be more than a bit mentally unstable. He greets the party as if they are honored guests, but seems to expect them to provide the food and spirits. Anmor uses some magic to appease Krathanos’ hunger and Chresin begins asking if the titan’s had any other recent visitors, particularly ones inquiring about his belt. Krathanos laughingly reaches into a discolored sack next to his throne, produces the severed head of a minotaur, and asks if this is the one Chresin’s asking about. The titan says the minotaur came to purchase his golden belt on behalf of some lady with an impressive title, but Krathanos hates things whose heads don’t match the rest of their bodies so he pulled the minotaur’s head off.
In spite of this warning, the party begins politely trying to negotiate for the belt. Krathanos at first seems open to a bargain if the party can find him a way off the island, suggesting a plane shift or gate spell. The party explains they don’t have access to that kind of magic and the negotiations meander around a bit until Krathanos suddenly becomes enraged for no apparent reason and decides he’s going to crush his “honored guests” into paste. There follows a very pitched battle.
Krathanos begins by sweeping the stone lids off the tops of the girallon cages. The girallons climb out and attack the party, while at the same time trying to avoid the crazed titan. Fortunately, Krathanos’ gargoyles minions stay out of it at first. The girallons prove to be only a minor annoyance, but Krathanos himself does some considerable damage with chain lightning and his huge hammer. Granuel has to hide in the walls of the ruined keep when Anmor refuses to be his pet heal-bot. The party somehow manages to chase off the girallons and do a bit of damage to Krathanos without suffering any fatalities.
The tide of battle turns when Ulm uses power word: blind on the injured titan. Krathanos orders his gargoyles into the battle, retreats to the ethereal plane, and begins healing himself. The gargolyes prove to be a dangerous menace, but the rest of the party holds them off while Ulm chases Krathanos into the ethereal plane. Ulm manages to greater dispel the blinded titan back to the Prime, not just once, but twice, allowing the party to do just enough damage to bring down the Shackled Conqueror. So, the party completes the Claiming of Krathanos’s Golden Belt, and also collects a lot of other treasure.
XP totals at the end of the session 29:
* Anmor 138,117
* Ulm and Chresin 136,278
* Granuel 129,983
* Kullen 134,538
Anmor, Ulm, and Chresin should level up to 17th for next session. Kullen and Granuel will reach 17th early during Session 30 (assuming everyone doesn’t die, which is a distinct possibility).