Sunday, November 7, 2021

Alkazaar's Appendix

I've been running the adventures in Candlekeep Mysteries lightly reskinned for my Krevborna setting. The characters are all employed as members of Creedhall University Library's "Special Collections Department," aka adventurers. This is a recap of what happened in "Alkazaar's Appendix." Fair warning: spoilers lurk below.

The Characters

Elsabeth, human paladin played by Anne

Gnargar, kobold monk played by Heather

Aula, human rogue played by Ridgely

Rufus, human barbarian played by Steve


Elsabeth, Gnargar, and Rufus were tasked with joining a joint operation with the Church of the Sorrowful Vision. After being partnered with Aula, an operative of the Church, the assembled group was asked to return to the strange chamber that Elsabeth and Rufus has previously discovered in the ancient temple beneath the church and use the chamber's portal to Mudraal so that they might search for one of the fabled Blood Sea scrolls rumored to be secreted in that area.

Upon traversing the portal, the group found a younger man and an older man excavating something from the sands. Lending a hand, the group discovered that the item appeared to be a large stone statue of a man-like figure with a blue circle radiating rays of sun embedded in its chest. The pair of men, Pesh and Shamir, had hoped to sell the statue at a profit, but it was unclear how such a heavy object could be transported. This problem solved itself when the partially excavated statue heaved itself out of the sand, stood under its own power, and began to survey the surroundings as if it were getting its bearings. 

Gnargar's attempts to communicate with the stone man revealed that it could not speak, but it attempted to express itself in an unknown form of sign language. Upon further inspection, both Elsabeth and Aula felt certain that the sun symbol on the stone man's chest related to the ancient beginnings of the Church of Saintly Blood. When the stone man began to stalk off across the dunes, the group decided it would be best to follow--since the stone man was related to the church, perhaps it could lead them toward the Blood Sea scroll they were after. Pesh, Shamir, and their camel also came along.

After several days of travel, the group arrived at Haruun, also known as the Caves of the Worm, a set of natural caverns riddling the wall of a canyon. The sands here showed signs of a sand worm's passage. The group also felt the ground suddenly shake ominously, an indication that the purple worm may be nearby. Most of the caves had been filled in by the worm's burrowing, but a crack in the stone wall of the canyon seemed to indicate a mostly extant cave. The group, including the stone man, proceeded inside. The cavern stank from worm dung and the interior passage was partially blocked by stone churned up by the worm's movements; Rufus and Elsabeth's attempts to clear the stone were not as quiet or gentle as they may have liked--part of the wall of stones collapsed, after which the group again began to feel the tremors of the worm's approach. 

The chamber beyond the stone blockage had preserved several murals that imparted important information about the fate and whereabouts of the Blood Sea scroll. The murals mostly involved three figures in clerical vestments and a saintly prince of ancient Mudraal. In one mural, the three priests were shown animating the stone man with holy magic. Another showed the prince and the stone man stowing a golden scroll case inside a vault and attempting to fight off an attacking dragon. The final painting showed the prince willingly accepting a curse causing him to exist in a state between life and death as the guardian of the Blood Sea scroll so that the dragon could not get its claws on it. The stone man studied these murals intently. Contemplation of the story they told indicated that the group's next stop should be the ruined city of Azumar.

However, the worm's attention had been drawn at this point. It erupted from the sands outside the cave. The group chose to wait out the worm rather than fight it off. Their ploy worked, at the cost of Shamir and Pesh's camel, which was tied up outside. Eventually, the worm retreated back to the depths of the earth.

After several more days of travel, the group found themselves in the ruins of Azumar, facing a raging sandstorm that only vented its wrath in a circle around a step pyramid necropolis they recognized from the murals in the Cave of the Worm. Pesh and Shamir decided that they would wait for the party as they had no interest in attempting to traverse the sandstorm. The rest of the group was not keen on venturing into the sandstorm either; it looked strong enough to flay flesh from bone. Gnargar asked the stone man if he could enter the sandstorm; as the stone man lurched into the biting, gritty winds, he held his hands aloft. They flared with blue light, and the sandstorm parted. The group followed the stone man to the foot of the pyramid.

From the pyramid's base, the group could see a number of man-sized figures and giant scorpions milling about at the top. The group attacked from afar, with Elsabeth calling down a holy moonbeam, Gnargar throwing a searing sunburst, and Rufus firing his crossbow. Withering under this assault, the figures at the top of the pyramid scurried down the stone stairs to engage the party; they turned out to be a group of desiccated wights and undead scorpions! The group began to lay into their foes in earnest, but the opposing party was soon joined by a giant skeleton bearing a greatsword and a large horn strapped to its back. After the wights and scorpions were dispatched with, only the skeletal giant remained. Aula proved her worth by climbing the skeleton and dealing a massive strike to its neckbone that severed its head.

The group climbed the step pyramid, then descended into the depths of its necropolis. A door at the bottom of the stairs was blown off its hinges by Gnargar using the horn they took from the undead giant. Inside, the torches in the chamber lit automatically as they stepped inside. The chamber's only feature was a door framed by a dragon bones set into the wall around it. The bones began to crackle with electricity, and the dracolich pulled itself from the wall to attack! 

The dracolich had a number of fiendish abilities: it breathed gouts of lightning that filled the chamber, its teeth and claws arced with electrical power, and its tail lashed fiercely. It attempted to cave in a portion of the ceiling to bury Rufus alive, but he managed to leap out of the way of the falling debris. Elsabeth was knocked unconscious by the dracolich and inched even closer to death's door when the vile creature sent a surge of lightning arcing throughout the room. Ultimately, Gnargar called on every last reserve of ki he had to bash at the dracolich with his nunchaku and finish it with a fiery punch that burned with the heat of a thousand suns. The dracolich was reduced to nothingness; only its shadow remained etched into the stone of the necropolis.

Breaching the door to the crypt, the group found an ornate sarcophagus. Inside was the incorrupt body of the prince from the murals, clothed in funeral regalia, and the golden case containing the Blood Sea scroll. The stone man handed the scroll to Gnargar; Gnargar hugged to stone man in return. The stone man then gingerly picked up the body of his prince and walked toward the far wall of the crypt. The painting of heaven on the wall began to animate; the stone man carried the body of the holy prince into heaven.

Returning to the surface, the group were happy to note that the unnatural sandstorm was now gown. After paying Shamir and Pesh generously for the loss of their camel, the group returned to the portal and brought the Blood Sea scroll back to the Church of the Sorrowful Vision, where it was copied for the library's archives and subjected to further study.