Tales of the Nasty Midnighters
The Game Journal (ongoing log)
The Classic Tales (Ilyria's Journal excerpts)
Excerpts From Ilyria's Journal
Out of the Underdark
I was born the fifth daughter of House Zanith. It was a mid ranking noble house in the never ending struggle for power and Lloth's favor. As a jovial and forgiving child I was deemed unsuitable to serve the Spider Queen and designated a cog in the machinations of Matron Feran's ascent of the cutthroat drow hierarchy. I knew I was expendable and began to find a way to escape my fate as an eventual sacrifice to mother's ambition.
I threw myself into the study of the arcane and managed to earn a place as an apprentice in the school of wizardry. Although I had determination, I had very little talent for magic. I am stealthy by nature and managed to slip into the dark heart of the school's library delving ever deeper into the forbidden knowledge within. After years of searching, I came upon an ancient script telling of the fae origins of the drow before they were corrupted by Lloth. I pieced together a ritual through which I communed with the primal fae forces, trading my soul for the power to create a new destiny. I opened myself to the dark embrace of Sehanine, forever more to hide in the shadows from the consuming black core of evil and the searing light of zealous good.
There was one light in my existence, Zaknadroth. As the third son of House Harkesh he should have been my sworn enemy, yet we found solace in our stolen time together. I'll never know what we could have been to each other. From the shadows I “overheard” Matron Feran planning an attack against House Harkesh with my elder sisters. I was to take center stage as the crucial sacrifice for the win. I met with Zak one last time to warn him. I didn't tell him about my role in the attack, or that I planned to escape. I guess I couldn't bring myself to self to say goodbye..
House Zanith launched its attack to find the Harkesh forces ready and waiting. I slipped away in the chaos just as a small strike force broke into our compound to take out Matron Feran and her beloved daughters. I didn't wait to see what happened.
I lost count of the days that passed as I wandered the underdark before I finally found my way to the surface and first beheld the face of Sehanine. Burnt by the sun, I traveled at night for months before I grew accustomed to it's scorching rays.
I've wandered far through unknown lands, feared and reviled by those who know only my race. I have met a few kindred souls along the way.
One such person is an Shadar-kai rogue who goes by the name of Ophelia. She too watches from the shadows, although she runs towards something rather than away. We travel together from time to time. In fact, I'm on my way to some little god forsaken village to meet up with her at the local inn now. I believe the name of the place is the Antler and Thistle Tavern.
The Origin of the Nasty Midnighters
It was a long rough journey, but I made it to the Antler and Thistle. It took time to spot Ophelia. You'd think my Shadar-kai friend would stick out as badly as I do. She is my exact opposite; ebony hair and skin so pale and translucent, it's almost blue. However, Ophelia has subtlety down to a fine art and can be very elusive if she doesn't want to be seen.
The bar was crowded for mid day.
Most of the patrons were guardsmen or common human villagers but there were several colorful characters carousing and drinking. After the days events, I've come to know them better.
I met a dwarven beastmaster by the name of Jarbonius Stonehammer, who was in from the wilds drinking with his wolf Orion. What I mean to say is they were both having a drink of ale.
Duel Blackthorne, an impressive human fighter was also in town on a quest seeking "a smart man". Duel is cursed with a stone arm. He plays the fool but I believe that it 's a tool to lull his opponents into underestimating him.
Two small companions with a huge appetite for drink were bellied up to the bar as well; Talirowyn, a petite half-elven wizard, and Ariella, a halfling cleric. I had no idea persons so small could drink so much.
We were making cautious introductions when the pub was besieged by hobgoblins with Molotov cocktails and their very own ogre. Ariella was quite nimble, leaping over tables and through broken windows as if they were no obstacle at all. Tali it seems is particularly gifted with fire. Her powers are impressive. I'll remember to keep a safe distance from her targets. Duel proved to be an expert in fighting with the sword and shield. He and Jarbonius, who executed perfectly coordinated attacks with his wolf, were able to keep the hobgoblins and the ogre off of us spell casters so we could maximize our damage. Ophelia and I fell into a familiar routine. Though she has become more swift since last we fought side by side.
The cart with the jars of oil burst into flame ruining the hobgoblins' chance to set the whole town square alight. Unfortunately, the ogre was able to free himself from the burning cart and go on a rampage. I can't stress enough the benefits of having a healer at your back.
After putting down the invaders, we set to extinguishing the fires and salvage what we could. The group of men playing cards in the back of the room were still at it having hardly noticed the ruckus. Unfortunately, the bartender took a Molotov head on and was burnt to crisp. It's a shame. He had a real talent for brewing.
Just as things were starting to get settled, we were summoned to aid the town once again. Apparently, the attack on the Inn was part of a larger foray. We were tasked to travel to the ruins of Castle Rivenroar to rescue eight villagers that had been taken captive during the raid. We were also asked to prevent Cinrith and his hobgoblin hordes from reforming the dreaded Red Hand with the help of his undead allies and bring back several symbolic artifacts stolen from the Hall of Great Valor.
We set out for Rivenroar at first light.
The Ruins of Rivenroar
The ruined castle was a two day journey, one that left me wondering whether the kidnapped townspeople would still be alive by the time we reached it. We had this theory based on the babbling of a captured goblin that the villagers would be offered as a meal to Cinrith's undead patrons. As we fought our way through the cellars to the dungeons below we cut down many goblins and hobgoblins, some capable of casting curses.
Despite our fears, we were able to free Adronsius the dwarf, the human cook Martala and the Castelian Sir Taniien. This keeper of the antiquities “affectionately” dubbed Jake quickly proved to be a huge pain in the ass. He placed a much higher value on these trinkets that had been stolen then the lives of his fellow villagers. I understand that the artifacts symbolized the village ancestors' victory against the Red Hand, but that was 100 years ago. I guess humans are so short lived that they feel they need reminders of great struggles. I may understand their importance but it took every once of self control I had not to curse the little weasel into oblivion. I sensed that my companions had similar issues with him.
We found some very unexpected, intriguing things in the belly of Rivenroar. In a chamber with a sunburst laid into the floor we encountered ghouls and zombies that glowed as if they had a permanent Dark Fire cast on them. We found a hall of pillars with strange markings on them. These markings were also on a missive found in a sarcophagus that lay in the room where we confronted and killed Cinrith. I took his head as a symbol of victory for the townspeople, and because it made me feel good to see Jake squirm.
I encountered many other firsts. We sent a wight and a bone shard skeleton to their final rest. Perhaps this was Cinrith's benefactor. We also destroyed a creature we inadvertently set free from it's magical cage and discovered a pool that served as a mirror of seeing..
We did recover all the artifacts but couldn't save all of the kidnapped villagers. The acolyte Jolysa was barely coherent when we found her, and I fear she may be permanently damaged. We found the boy Thuran, but his father Kartenix had been overwhelmed by a nest of ettercaps. We tried to comfort the boy and keep him calm long enough to get him safely back to the village. I didn't want to tell him his father didn't make it until I was sure he was in good hands. Jake doesn't qualify in my eyes. Unfortunately Duel grew impatient and was quite harsh with the boy. Perhaps I was mistaken about him. In the end Jake took the traumatized boy and headed to village without waiting to see if we could save the witch Zerricsa. Although she was holding out when we saw her in the scrying pool, she died before we could get to her.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Our return to the village was very interesting.
We were paid by the Emissary as promised. However, it seemed he may have been secretly planning with mages from the Ebony Tower. These mages apparently had taken a particular interest in our dear friend Tali. We weren't sure of their intentions so we sent her back to a campsite near town and told the Emissary we had parted ways.
Our suspicion was justified. We then discovered a secret passage leading from the Emissary's chamber sprinkled with grave dust.
We were also alarmed to discover Jake hadn't returned to town with Thuran and the artifacts. I wouldn't give a drider's balls for Jake, but the boy, Thuran, is an innocent. We were on their trail when white mages of the Ebony Tower ambushed us, demanding we hand over Tali. Our brave wizard made it clear that she would rather die than go with them, so we gave them a good fight. We managed to kill most of them but one managed to escape, threatening to make our lives hellish for defying the Tower as he ran from us.
Jakes' tracks led off the road, towards the forest. We began to overtake them and a small band that seemed to be trailing them before we had to stop for the night. The magical campsite we discovered in Rivenroar kept us warm and dry. Safe from the sudden snow storm outside...
(The following excerpts take place later in Ilyria's journals as the party continued to adventure, after an encounter with Tali's mentor and the band sought answers in an underground labyrinth. They arrived to find the area under the assault of a demonic cult. Making their temporary home in place called the Seven Pillared Hall, a civilized encampment deep within the Thunderspire Labyrinth)
After narrowly escaping Grimmerzuel and the Duergar, an old wizard appeared. The wizard cast a spell that put Grimmerzuel in a maze, trapping him there until he finds his way out - which could take years. Tali questioned the wizard to find out if he was Rathurst, the old crazy wizard that they had been looking for, and who would know how to create the Wizard's mark. He told Tali that "knowledge comes at a price," and after a few sexual innuendos, requested that she and Ophelia accompany him somewhere private. Tali and Ophelia reluctantly agreed to go, but soon they realized that what the wizard had in mind was a ritual known as "Soul Join."
During this ritual Rathurst, Tali and Ophelia all briefly joined their souls together, and when the ritual was over, all had been changed. Tali and Ophelia now have a connection to each other's feelings, and have traces of each other's physical appearances. Ophelia became less pale, and no longer craves blood. Her ears look like that of an elf, and she now has a blonde streak in her dark hair. Similarly, Tali has ears like Ophelia's, and now has a dark streak in her blonde hair. Both also suffered negative reactions to the ritual - Tali no longer remembers anything prior to encountering the dragon in the White Tower and Ophelia feels no ties to her former clan.
We found the slaves and started taking them back to Don Pablo's. (editor's note: this is the term Dual used to refer to the party's regular hangout within the Seven Pillared Hall. The context of the reference however is lost on most readers and no reference to anyone named Don Pablo can be found in our research in preparing these documents.)
Along the way, we encountered and fought a gelatinous cube and some wraiths. I also found a tablet inside the cube that showed the way to a pit containing vases marked with holy seals. We know they are deity jars - half marked in red, and half in white.
After bringing up one of the white jars, Ariella realized that the outer markings may not indicate what is inside, but rather serve as protection against what is inside. Jarbo and Tali agreed that it would be best to leave the jars alone, so the group left to return to the Seven Pillared Hall and talk to the man who wanted the skull scepter.
Earthquakes and Angels
Back at the Seven Pillared Hall, Ophelia and Ilyria went to return the scepter, but were gone for a long time. Worried, Tali tried to send a message to Ophelia through her mind - and immediately fell unconscious and exploded in radiant light.
At the same time, a huge earthquake erupted in the cavern that killed nearly everyone, at least all the "bad" people. Just when it seemed that there would be no way to stop the earthquake or the light coming from Tali, an Angel of Battle appeared, without a mouth (or a nose), carrying an unconscious Ophelia and Ilyria. The earthquake stopped, the light ceased, and Ophelia, Ilyria and Tali came back to consciousness.
The Angel of Battle told us telepathically that he had spared us because we set him free, but warned that we should be careful not to get in his way. He then ascended slowly through the ceiling, all the way back up to the surface. Ilyria and Ophelia confessed that they had returned to the pit and opened one of the red jars before falling unconscious.
The party did some shopping/looting and Tali created Wizard's Marks for all party members. We returned to the pit and found that the place had changed into some kind of temple or holy room, and the white jars were all missing. The red jars, however, were on display and had all been opened.
After returning to the Inn, Jarbo's two brothers and sister, Scott, Fred, and Ethel showed up telling us that the outside world has been trashed, including Jarbo's home kingdom. Now the party needs to decide what to do but has limited options since the earthquake blocked many passages.