Day 13: The Battle of Rhest

Day 13
The day starts out as a continuation of where the party left off: waiting for the thunderstorm after Lanikar’s funeral to dissipate. Enter Linnea Leiranoff, cloistered cleric of Aureon, found lost and wandering aimlessly in the swamp—utterly drenched except for her books.

Linnea performs an invaluable service for them: she identifies the remains of the loot they got from the razorfiends. This included a greater crystal of aquatic action, eyes of the eaglethird eye freedom, and arod of silence.

The party formulates their plan:
1. Purchase potions of water breathing from Illian. These potions last 12 hours.
2. Paddle up the stream to the rim of the Rhest sinkhole.
3. Drink the potions and walk across the stream bed. The crystal of aquatic action obviates Holden’s need for water breathing, and Loven doesn’t breathe, so the party gets to save on potions.
4. Take the bell tower first, then investigate the town hall.

Capsize

The party borrows a boat from the elves and paddles up the stream. Close to the sinkhole, they’re ambushed by a blackscale and four poison dusk lizardfolk.

The blackscale is spotted lurking underwater, but instead of surfacing as they had expected, it easily capsizes the boat and dunks everyone into the drink.
The party is lucky that the stream is only 4 feet deep and that their shorter party members don’t have problems with breathing water.

The lizardfolk are quickly overwhelmed; Linnea takes a poisoned arrow but her Strength isn’t damaged much, while Holden takes a sound bashing from the blackscale, he easily drops the blackscale after applying Divine Surge to the beast’s crotch.

Lyka, the shifter, is able to use her Jump to leap through the nasty undergrowth to grapple one of the poison dusks while Loven and Linnea apply some liberal fire from their soggy positions to take out two of the other snipers. Kikkeni freezes the last sniper with energy ball. Overkill, but it gets the job done.

They attempt to interrogate the remaining lizardfolk (again), but it only tells them the party stumbled through their territory. They dump him there—Kikkeni and Holden begin to argue about leaving him alive, while Loven just walks over to him and shanks the lizardman. They begin moving towards the tower.

Memorable lines:
<Lyka, to Holden> Look, sir, it is a large heathen!
<Lyka, to Holden> Look sir, it is a miniature heathen!
<Lyka, to Holden> Sir, it appears you have water in your eyes.

The Tower

Traveling to the tower underwater, the party enters the submerged floor of the tower. Loven sneaks up into the second floor to scout and spots three of the hobgoblins inside.

The party decides to have him plant the exploding spike at the stop of the stairs. Loven plants it in and splashes loudly into the water. The hobgoblins investigate the sound, and the spike goes off.

All of them are burnt within an inch of their life, but they draw their swords anyway. Lyka runs up to skewer one of them, but misses both. Kikkeni comes in and wastes them all with energy missile. As they come up, though, they see someone running up the stairs and give chase.

Red Alert

Lyka is the first to arrive on the top floor. Korkulan the bladebearer (now a Warblade 4/Fighter 2) confronts her, while the other hobgoblins drop their bows and draw their swords. Korkulan is initially able to counter Lyka’s strike with Wall of Blades, but when Loven tumbles past him, his advantage quickly turns. Holden runs up the stairs and uses an action point to jump from one of the lower steps onto the top floor (over the railing) and joins the battle. However, one of the hobgoblins begins ringing the bell.

Kikkeni joins the fray with an energy missile, nailing all four hobgoblins. Two of them die, while Korkulan and the last veteran are able to stand a little while longer before Lyka cuts them down.

However, the party spots lizardfolk beginning to get into their rafts to paddle toward the tower.

Crack ensues.

Holden hoists up one of the guard corpses and begins waving its arms so that it appeared to be waving at the lizardfolk. In a loud goblin voice (he can speak the language), he tells the lizardfolk to leave, that it was a false alarm. And he rolls really well on his Bluff, and it was too ridiculous to not let slide, so the lizardfolk begin paddling away.

The PCs then go down and search the bunks, and discover Korkulan’s potions of fly. They reemerge onto the lookout deck to spot the ogres on the Town Hall roof beginning to stir.

Last Flight of the Black Dragon

One of the ogres jumps down into Regiarix’s lair. Within a few seconds, the ogre climbs back out, and so does Regiarix.

The PCs quaff their potions—Holden, Loven, and Lyka are able to fly. Linnea inherited a potion of fly from Ashie as well, so she drinks but decides to stay in the tower.

Holden says: “We’re like flies guarding a piece of ****.”

Saarvith, astride Regiarix, wing angrily toward the tower. Kikkeni begins a devastating barrage of energy balls.

I roll horribly on their saves. By the time Saarvith and Regiarix close to breath weapon range, Regiarix is down to 105/152 HP. Saarvith is down to less than half (he started with a beefed 62 HP). This is despite me giving them action points and despite Kikkeni’s player rolling badly.

Regiarix lets loose a breath weapon but only hits Holden. Despite Holden’s failure to save, I roll badly and Holden only takes around 20 damage.

Holden and Lyka charge. Holden scores massive hits, while Lyka fumbles one of her two Two-Weapon Pounce attacks. The dragon retaliates with a full attack (bad idea; I should’ve remembered the dragon was supposed to keep his distance) , and rolls a mass of 1s and 2s. Not a single attack hits.

Holden and Lyka flank the dragon and combo him with Soaring Raptor Strike and Bone Crusher. At this point, the dragon is down to 32 HP. Kikkeni softens it up even more by detonating an energy ball BEHIND Regiarix, bringing the dragon down to 19 HP.

I should’ve wised up and had them run away, but no. The dragon flies upward and dives toward the tower. Saarvith uses his Arrow Storm but only hits Kikkeni for damage that is pretty much irrelevant at this point. (I should’ve used Hunter’s Mercy on her instead)

Kikkeni simply blasts the dragon and rider with energy cone. Saarvith is already at -2 at this point, and he slumps back in the saddle. The dragon is down to 7 HP.

Enter Linnea. Blast of Force. 8 damage.

Regiarix rolls a 1 on his Fort save, and falls out of the sky. The fall (even into the water) kills both Saarvith and Regiarix.

It’s All Ogre

The regular ogres on the hall’s roof hightail it when they see Regiarix fall out of the sky. The two remaining skullcrushers stay put and hurl some boulders ineffectually at the flying PCs as they close in.

Kikkeni blasts them once more, and Lyka and Holden quickly cut down the two ogres once they clear the space.

The Hatchery

The PCs investigate the ruined building off the side and find the Razorfiend waiting. It breathes acid on Lyka and Holden, but they cut it down quickly before its next turn, and Linnea finishes it off with a scorching ray. The PCs hear the loud hooting of Nurkulnaak’s ettin as it comes onto the roof. Nurkulnaak, wielding a rapier, emerges with them.

Showdown

This battle gets silly quickly. Nurkulnaak rolls high on initiative and raises a solid fog; Lyka and Kikkeni get trapped in it. The other PCs are unable to get in good shots due to the fog, and Nurkulnaak quickly raises agreater invisibility to attempt to escape.

Linnea is able to dispel the fog after Kikkeni and Lyka extricate themselves, while Holden flies up out of the Hatchery to drop down on the Ettin. The two beatsticks attack the Ettin and damage it quickly.

Still invisible, Nurkulnaak blasts Lyka and Holden (and the Ettin) with confusion. Lyka makes her save, but Holden remains floating in the air, babbling like a moron.

Loven snipes the Ettin, which rolls ‘attack nearest enemies’ in its confusion and hits the two beatsticks before collapsing from Loven’s bleed damage.

Kikkeni climbs onto the roof and tries to find Nurkulnaak with Lyka. Kikkeni tries to hasten the process by randomly choosing a spot to grease.

And dumb luck strikes: she catches Nurkulnaak in the area, and he fails his save, falling flat onto the ground, cursing loudly.

Lyka tries to close in on the grease spot and chooses one of the squares to attack, but she doesn’t pick the right square. Nurkulnaak begins crawling toward the stairs leading down to the boardwalk. Linnea summons a Hound Archon and orders him to hunt down the hobgoblin by using detect evil. Kikkeni fires anenergy bolt through the spot where she thought the beguiler was, but Nurkulnaak was no longer there by the time she does so.

The beguiler creates a major image trying to climb over the rampart and jumping down onto the boardwalk below. Immediately the PCs give chase (Holden rolls “babble incoherently” for 3 rounds); the Hound Archon is first. It slashes at the image with its greatsword, destroying it. Using its scent, the Hound Archon picks up the beguiler’s trail, and Kikkeni greases the boardwalk to prevent Nurkulnaak from escaping toward the hatchery.

With Lyka groping around blind, swinging her sword as if at a pinata, Holden drifting lazily through the air babbling, Kikkeni down to the last of her power points and Nurkulnaak nowhere to be found, I ask them if they want to give up looking for him. The players yell “NO!” in unison.

The beguiler tries to escape into the water, but his own invisibility gives him away—the PCs see the bubble in the water. Holden rolls “flee from caster at top speed” and ends up hovering over the water, way out toward the southwest. Kikkeni uses the last of her power points to fire an energy missile at the beguiler, but misses (I rule that the miss chance still applies since the spell is aimed at creatures, not spaces).

The beguiler dismisses his invisibility and surrenders as the Hound Archon brings him down on his knees.

The party ties him up for interrogation later and drags him into the hall while they explore.

They find everything they need to find: Ulwai’s letter, Regiarix’s hoard, and most importantly, the Ghostlord’s phylactery.

Linnea is able to provide the necessary information regarding the phylactery:
-It was most definitely a lich’s phylactery, and the letter gave his identity away.
-Linnea’s History check recalls that the Ghostlord was once Uriikel Zaarl, a hobgoblin druid who fought alongside the Gatekeeper sect against the Daelkyr invasion of Eberron more than 5000 years ago.
-After successfully slaying the Daelkyr who took over Rhest, Zaarl left, but after about 200 years a pride of ghostly lions ransacked Rhest, and an unnnatural quake collapsed Rhest into the sinkhole that it is now.
-The creator of the phylactery is not an arcane caster but a druid, and a blighter at that.

Kikkeni also points out the Ghostlord’s lair on Koth’s map.

Plans

This might be the source of party conflict. Holden and Lyka want to destroy the phylactery and slay the Ghostlord, while the others are sure there might be a reason why the goblins have it.

Holden balks at the thought of trading the lich his phylactery for aid, but Kikkeni says “We don’t necessarily have to allyourselves with him.”

Thoughts

-The PCs really wasted Rhest. The Ozzyrandion battle was harder.
-This might have been due to the adventure assuming the PCs don’t raise the alarm until they are able to get into the building; I built my battle plans around this assumption.
-Despite being advanced, overbuffed AND having action points, Regiarix and Saarvith crashed and burned really badly.
-All dragons are definitely going to have max HP now. Also considering bumping up Abithriax to Huge and Tyrgarun to Gargantuan without advancing their HD.
-I really want Nurkulnaak to escape. He’s a coward and an evil jerk, sure, but he should be smart enough to use his massive repertoire to escape and inform the Red Hand higher ups of the slaughter. This should allow the Red Hand to start sending out death squads and beef up the Ghostlord’s lair security as well.

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