The Troll Hall Chronicles

Season 2, episode 2-07: In the Halls of Madness
In which our adventurers get their first taste of the spicy picante of the Far Realm

Our adventurers, having departed the lair of the dragon Frostdeath with the third of the three Soul shards of Vyrellis, engaged in some reconnaissance of the rest of the Pyramid of Shadows in which they remained imprisoned. Ultimately, they all ventured down the unexplored hallways of the second level of the pyramid. The doors all looked subtly distorted in space and time which, as Vicendak knew, was indicative of the influence of the Far Realm. They chose one, which led them to a chamber filled with stone statues, and two strange characters: a medusa named Jehara and an aged, blind ogre named Maulspike. They revealed they were guarding the gates beyond for the worshipers of the Far Realm who lived beyond. They were certain that these could help the pair escape from the Pyramid finally – “You can always go to the Far Realm,” mused Maulspike.

In an appeal of epic eloquence, knight of the Raven Queen Sir Valis Frost described to them the pinhole in reality they’d found below in the Verdant Ruin which he was sure could be enlarged to admit the entry of the two. Convinced and ecstatic, they departed.

From there the party confronted the Three Gates of Agony. After solving the riddle of the first gate, the Gate of Ignorance, the party immediately tried to force the final exit without solving the riddles of the other two gates. In this attempt the half-orc rogue Fin’Gould destroyed his own shield; subsequently the adventurers improvised a battering ram out of one of the statues in the room – that of a male tiefling in plate armor with a greatsword – the head of which they demolished against the invulnerable door. When blood began seeping from the statue’s shattered neck, they finally realized that all the statues were people that the medusa Jehara had pertified.

Somewhat freaked out, they abandoned their attempts at force and instead focused on successfully solving the riddles of the two remaining gates to pass on to the Sundered Temple, wherein the githzerai psion Kane Karrath detected the presence of his ancient enemy the mind flayer Xzathral. Without a word, Karrath charged down a hallway, with his curious companions following closely after. In the chamber beyond, they all became trapped in a horrifying fleshy cavern that looked like the inside of a creature’s tortured viscera. Sticky, acidic ooze covered the floor, seeping from a puckered orifice in one of the pulsating walls. The cavern was rife with horrible, impossible monsters and crazed, torture-wracked foulspawn who carried madness about them like a cloud of plague flies.

The battle was intense. The half-orc rogue Fin’Gould – after actually uttering the battle plan, “My first objective is to stab that anus” – stood in long single combat with one of the foulspawn, during which he was so bewildered by its infectious madness that he repeatedly and severely wounded himself, and was struck down. His companions prevailed against the monsters however, and Vicendak bravely delved through the puckered orifice in the wall and emerged into a chamber to find what appeared to be a mind flayer that had been wracked and ruined by powerful supernatural forces from beyond: it had only a vague approximation of its original form, and now appeared to have become a pulsing, beating, weeping gland of some sort that was secreting the acidic ooze that was filling the chambers beyond. Vicendak destroyed the monstrosity.

Before the characters had a moment to savor their victory and their survival, the succubus Danneh appeared on the scene and dragged off the still prostrate form of the near-dead Fin’Gould. Moments later, realizing he had been taken, our adventurers set off without rest or respite in hot pursuit of their captured comrade.

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Season 2, episode 2-06: Dragon Diplomacy
In which our adventurers fall into a trap laid by their nemesis, and must parley with a very large and menacing dragon in exchange for a few baubles and their lives.

Ice cave

Working with the rough sketch of a map they had received from the tainted Vine Speaker of the Verdant Ruin, Crannor, our adventurers defeated the harpies guarding the bridge and sallied forth, winding their way through the maze of the Pyramid of Shadows, to the chamber where the body of Vyrellis was supposedly being kept. They found it encased within a barrier of energy being emitted from four stone cairns on raised stone platforms in an otherwise vast and featureless room. The githzerai psion Kane Karrath reached out with his mind to probe the barrier and paid the price: being wracked and almost incapacitated by savage psychic fury. Several plans were mooted, but ultimately the revenant monk Aaram boldly shrugged off the chatter, ascended one of the platforms, and used her sheer physical strength to knock over one of the cairns, and the barrier instantly fell.

All was quiet as the adventurers warily crept closer to the dessicated husk that was the body of Vyrellis, and the black sphere that held her essence thrummed with anticipation in the hands of Aaram. As she approached almost within an arm’s length, the sphere was rudely yanked from her hands by a mystical force. It embedded itself in the midsection of the corpse, which immediately animated and began attacking the party while Vyrellis shrieked ceaselessly in anguish and rage at being so tricked by Karavakios. After a mighty battle in which both Moloch and Lady Ming were on the brink of death, Vicendak destroyed the husk with a terrible fire, freeing the orb of Vyrellis, which Vicendak scooped up.

Bypassing a room Crannor had marked on their map simply as “COLD”, the adventurers ascended the stairs of the pyramid to its next level. There they encountered myriad stone heads carved into the walls, with horrible, demonic visages. These snapped at the adventurers and complained of having had no creatures to eat in aeons. Knight of the Raven Queen, Sir Valis Frost, removed several hundred pounds of dried salted beef from his handy haversack and proceeded to feed all the heads with the gentleness of a frosty knightly zookeeper. In gratitude, one of the heads regurgitated a magical flaming sword for Valis that had been irritating its gullet for a long time.

From there, our adventurers traveled eastward (insofar as an extradimensional prison can at all be said to have compass directions) to the demesne of the white dragon Frostdeath. They were admitted to his lair by his eladrin lackeys, the Winterkind, where they bartered for their lives and for the final Soul Shard of Vyrellis. Lady Ming crept up stealthily to either attempt to steal the shard from the dragon’s hoard or to covertly launch an attack at close quarters, but Sir Valis Frost finally ended negotiations by agreeing to part with the ancient and powerful flaming sword that Frostdeath feared and wished to destroy.

Now with all three shards of her soul united, Vyrellis rejoiced and agreed to give her carrier Vicendak still more of her power.

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Season 2, episode 2-05: Across the Harpy Bridge
In which our adventurers acquire a little historical context on their fellow prisoner, and nearly drown crossing a bridge.

Harpy bridge
We return to our adventurers barricading themselves in the chambers of the Karavakios-thing. Vicendak took the Adamantine key from the corpse to keep it safe. Fin’gould jury-rigs a trip-wire alarm, and Sir Valis Frost ponders resetting the trap that nearly killed them all but desists upon the angry protests of his companions, and instead stocks up on several hundred pounds of dried meat, which he stores in his mystical handy haversack. He also remembers that Vicendak is afflicted with steadily worsening Moon Frenzy and cures him. Kane Karrath meditates and Lady Ming entertains all with a display of gymnastics. Kane Karrath notices something leaking from the ears of the severed head of the Karavakios-thing that turns out to be words and sentences. On an impulse he retrieves a book rendered blank by the eaters of thought and uses it to sop up the text pooling around Karavakios’s head. When he has soaked up all he is able, he begins to read to the party:

interlude

Karavakios – Will
Delm, tiefling son of Karavakios – Steve
Vyrellis, betrothed of Karavakios and princess of the Fey – Peter
Burgos, necromancer adviser to Karavakios – Alicia
Irkalla, angelic envoy from the Celestial Court – Kaitlyn
Juriko, a demon from the Abyss – Thomas
Winterpone, vizier of the kingdom of Karavakios – David

The demon Juriko has appeared to the tiefling king Karavakios in his palace to tempt him into a bargain, while angel Irkalla had been dispatched to keep the king from allying himself with demonic forces. The demon offered various blood exchanges, but none quite tempting enough that Karavakios would be lured into parting with his countrymen, or his son. Over the negotiations it became clear that Karavakios had a relationship with Irkalla that wasn’t purely diplomatic. Ultimately, and in secret, the fey princess Vyrellis allied herself to the demon for the power he offered, in exchange for the life of Karavakios. In the open court she pounced on him with a dagger as he raised his mighty arcane hand to defend himself. The king’s necromancer general, Burgos leapt to the king’s defense and yet the king’s son, Delm, leapt upon Burgos to prevent her saving her liege. All the while the angel Irkalla screamed horribly yet did nothing. The demon Juriko delighted by the spectacle, used his magic powers to destroy the mind of Burgos, held helpless by Delm.

end interlude

Heading out from the barricaded chambers in the morning, Moloch carefully and arcanely folded the angry, hostile curtains in a way so that they do not attack him. Lady Ming does her “morning flips”. The party proceeded across the length of the pyramid to a leafy area known as the Verdant Ruin, where they were led through a hedge maze by strange plant creatures to their leader, the vine speaker Crannor, and his faithful companion Beloved Bear. Crannor intimated that his people had been tainted by their attempt to escape the pyramid by opening a portal to the Far Realm, with all its infinite and nameless horrors, and had become enslaved by a being known to them only as The Master. Crannor explained that it was tempting to try to escape that way, because the pyramid made it easy to open portals there, since the Far Realm was constantly struggling to get into our world – and it was easier to help it break into a quasi-dimensional space like the Pyramid of Shadows. He even showed them the portal, a pinprick-sized hole in the fabric of space. Bravely (or foolishly), the brave knight of the Raven Queen, Sir Valis Frost, looked into the hole. And the hole looked into him. What he saw there was … too inhuman to even understand, let alone describe. The githzerai psion Kane Karrath touched with his mental hand the space where reality met the Far Realm. Aside from a strange lingering numbness, he does not seem to have suffered any ill effects.

One other thing Crannor mentioned is that the last Soul Shard of Vyrellis, a translucent jelly looking thing, was most likely in the possession of the dragon of the pyramid, who has a fondness for jelly looking things. Vyrellis again exhorted the party to find her body and her last remaining shard so she might live again outside the pyramid – and still promising to explain all she knew about the pyramid if her shards were safe.

Parting from Crannor, the party ventured across the Harpy Bridge, and were almost lulled to their doom by the creatures that dwelt there. Vicendak in particular, for some reason, seemed extra susceptible to the wiles of the demon women. The adventurers slew the harpies and narrowly avoided drowning and/or being eaten by the fish men who lived under the bridge, and ventured on, deeper toward their objective.

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Season 2, episode 2-04: The Hermitage
In which our adventurers storm the inner sanctum of a confused tiefling wizard, and kill him.

The hermitage
After slaying the eaters of knowledge and leaving the Library of Whispers behind them, our adventurers climbed the catwalk above the library shelves that led to a small wooden door high up along the wall. Inside this door was a hallway leading past barrels and crates to a set of chambers that contained more bookshelves, but these of a personal nature, and seemingly the accouterments that would indicate that this was someone’s living space in the pyramid. Sir Valis Frost said a quick prayer for Karavakios‘s death. There was a statue in the first chamber, holding an eye symbol of Ioun which the half-orc duelist Fin’gould approached to examine. He immediately set off the trap that had been concealed there.

The statue started howling in psychic rage, carving into the minds of everyone nearby and alerting more eaters of knowledge of the party’s approach. These creatures surged toward the adventurers from behind heavy and seemingly very awkward curtains. Fin’gould was almost immediately disabled by the shock and mental confusion emanating from the statue, which started expanding in an ever-growing radius. Peering into an inner chamber the adventurers could see an aged, enervated tiefling with ancient script leaking from his ears, an apparent meal for one of the eaters of knowledge. The tiefling warlock Vicendak began spitting and cursing everything in sight. The unliving reventant monk Aaram punched an eater of knowledge so hard that it exploded into two halves that knocked her friends to the ground. Lady Ming swore an oath to kill the tiefling wizard, who battled both the eaters and the adventurers. Valis Frost sustained severe injuries defending his compatriots from harm. All the while, Fin’gould remained dazed while the influence of the psychic trap grew and grew.

Moloch, the deva artificer saved perhaps the entire party from certain destruction by disabling the trap – barely. In the face of failure, Moloch thought back through a thousand lifetimes and a thousand reincarnations before that, and gleaned a clue, the merest dim memory of an idea of how such an arcane trap might be turned off, and the psychic screaming was silenced forever.

While the battle was ongoing, the party was ambushed by Danneh, the succubus who had sworn to kill them all. Having been bound body and soul to the pyramid by the adventurers’ bumbling, she had a strong incentive to prevent its destruction. Danneh kissed Vicendak, who instantly fell in love with her, and would do anything to protect her from harm, if he was able to do so. At perhaps the last possible moment, Fin’gould recovered from his diminished condition and savagely stabbed Danneh so gravely that he nearly ended her life in one stroke. The befouled blade ran her clean through so completely that he wound up stabbing Moloch on the other side of her as well. On the literal verge of death, Danneh fled, again shrieking curses on the heads of the adventurers, and swearing she would get them. Vicendak watched her go, weeping in loneliness for her. Grarash, the marsh mystic, filled the chambers with a swampy muck that impeded the movements of everyone but himself, but was then struck down by friendly fire from the githzerai psion Kane Karrath, charmed by Danneh’s infernal wiles. It is yet to be seen whether or not he will survive his injuries.

Ultimately, the adventurers triumphed over the eaters of knowledge, and the animated curtains that sought to strangle them every time they passed, and beat the tiefling wizard into submission. Vicendak attempted to diplomatically reason with him. The pathetic creature, who had been deprived of language by the many feedings of the eaters, admitted that he was – and was not – Karavakios. He also indicated that Vyrellis was good, while he was evil, and that the only way out of the pyramid was to kill Karavakios, but that he did not want to die. At this moment, Lady Ming, who had sworn an implacable oath to end the tiefling’s life, beheaded him without mercy. A single adamantine key clattered to the floor. On the key were the words (in Draconic): “First in hardness, not in place.” From the body of the Karavakios-not-Karavakios rose a plume of luminescent green energy that floated up to, and then through, the ceiling.

With her powerful, unliving hands, Aaram wrenched the symbol of Ioun from its housing in the statue. The symbol thrummed with ancient, arcane energy. Standing one of the chambers was a small dome depicting a view of stars on the underside. There was also an inscription in Draconic that read “The key of knowledge shines beneath a ring of holy stars.” (The stars in the dome do not form a ring.) In a locked chest, Vicendak discovered a small ivory statue of a woman with wings that appeared it might possibly be Danneh, although the not-Karavakios had denied he knew who that was.

Upon inspecting the barrels and crates, the adventurers discovered that they were holed up in a room of beer, cured meat, dried fruit and other dried provisions, and barricaded the door to give themselves some much needed peace and rest.

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Season 2, episode 2-03: The Library of Whispers
In which our adventurers explore more of their prison, acquire a new ally, and get a little down in the dumps

Library
GM’s note: As of this session, the role of Grognan has been replaced by Fin’gould, and the role of Kevin has been replaced by Vicendak, and Moloch joins us on a more permanent basis.
We find our adventurers still trapped in the Pyramid of Shadows, in the Chapel of Celestia, having just escaped from the room of infinite demons. The strains of battle proved too much for Vakil Raesarus, suffering from Moon Frenzy, and he became wild and animalistic. His sufferings were cured when the noble Sir Valis Frost introduced him to the room of infinite demons, where his diseased flesh was rent from his bones, while Valis claimed the head of Vyrellis from him. Vicendak interrogated the captive, terrified, quite urine-soaked Beaufort to divine the nature of the threat in the next room. Beaufort did not even attempt subterfuge – with Remus Pop slain, the backbone of the Pop gang had been broken, and the remaining members had little interest in being slaughtered to defend their tiny corner of the pyramid. To drive home the point, Valis Frost went back to sever the head of Remus Pop and carry it with him.

The half-orc duellist Fin’gould snuck forward, followed by Vicendak, to assay the positions of the thugs in the next chamber – they were poised on a barricade, facing away from the adventurers, and visibly perturbed by a recent flyby from the succubus Danneh. Between the thugs and the adventurers was a strange hallway of eldritch nature that Vicendak determined was some kind of ancient teleport mechanism, formerly known only in the empire of Bael Turath. Adjacent to this hallway was a room sealed by a transparent force, in which a githzerai monk, held prisoner by the thugs, sat and meditated, unperturbed. Vicendak determined this cell to be some sort of magical crematory. The adventurers made themselves known and engaged in a standoff with the frightened thugs. Valis Frost rolled the head of Remus Pop into the teleporting hallway while Vicendak worked the machinery’s levers, and the head was instantly teleported into the strange monk’s lap. Thus having divined the machine’s nature, and in what could potentially have been a very heroic gesture, Frost leapt into the teleporter and commanded Vicendak teleport him into the crematory with the monk. Frost handed Vyrellis (a teleporting artifact) to the monk and bid him teleport out of the cell, which the monk did – under his own power. As it turns out he could have left at any time, he was just enjoying the quiet. Valis Frost was now himself trapped in the crematory.

After a tense standoff, a hostage exchange was negotiated, with the adventurers giving up Beaufort in return the liberation of Valis from the crematory and what potentially could have been a very fiery death. The adventurers went on their way, with their new companion, the githzerai monk Kane Karrath, back through the watery domain of the marsh mystic Grarash, down the myriad tunnels of the Pyramid of Shadows, where the party discovered what appeared to be some sort of storage chamber, which smelled overpoweringly of rat shit. The party nevertheless voyaged inward to sift through the heaping mounds of animal waste – and were surprised by a host of charnel rats, their eyes glowing with a furious supernatural rot. These were dispatched handily enough by Grarash. Our adventurers then spent a good deal of time combing through the piled feces, to no avail. There was no treasure to be had.

One thing they did discover in one overflowing room was a small crack in the ceiling that led to a chamber above. The psion monk Kane summoned a small splinter of his intellect, a prism, that he guided up through the hole to find yet another pit full of waste and animal sludge and an enormous Otyugh Charnel Lord. Grateful that they had not in fact shoved Lady Ming up the poop chute into such peril, even though she had loudly volunteered for the task, the party retreated up the hallway where they discovered a peaceful library at the center of which was a statue of a female eladrin. Vyrellis confirmed that this was in fact a statue of her (though not why or how this should be), but was slightly unhinged by the fact that her final soul shard was not present on the statue. She revealed that her essence had been split into three parts and without all three soul shards, she would never be able to leave the pyramid, and also that her body was somewhere in the pyramid as well, and she would also like to leave with that if at all possible.

In the midst of this conversation, the party was attacked by a trio of long-limbed mouthless humanoids they’d caught sucking the information right out of the library’s books. With the valiant assistance of Grarash, they triumphed once more, and looked up onto the library catwalk where a small ornate door stood shut. An apparition of the tiefling wizard Karavakios appeared to the party, apparently gleeful with the prospect that they might kill him, implying that he dwelt beyond the library door, and enjoined them to kill him three times to escape the pyramid.

Is he mad? Suicidal? Overconfident? Or might he have some ulterior motive … ?

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Season 2, episode 2-02: The Chapel of Celestia
In which our adventurers bungle a magical ward, make a new enemy, and are nearly overwhelmed by sheer numbers

Succubus
We open on our characters taking a quick breather. Inspecting each other for signs of infection after contact with the slavering werebear. They determined themselves to be free of sickness. Most of them, at any rate.

Not wanting to retrace their steps, our adventurers proceeded forward through the undulating, reality-shifting hallways of the Pyramid of Shadows, into the Chapel of Celestia. In the vestibule of the chapel, there were statues of two legendary heroes of the gods of Celestia (Moradin, Bahamut and Kord): one was Goguae, the other was not closely investigated. The statues appeared to be mumbling and muttering to themselves. The black orb Vyrellis urged Vakil Raesarus into the chamber, telling him that the second of her three shards was near. On closer investigation the statues in the vestibule spoke to the adventures to tell them, “My mistress is held captive by demons in the chapel!” Cautiously, the party moved to assist.

Within the chapel itself was a human woman named Danneh who implored the adventurers for help. She had, she said, been imprisoned within the pyramid for centuries – although free to roam within its walls – but recently had been captured by the dragonborn brigand chieftain Remus Pop and somehow bound to the chapel so that she could not leave, and demons were called forth to harry her every time she tried. The party attempted to deactivate the arcane wards binding her to that place, but their ham-fistedness only summoned more and more devil legionnaires until they were almost crowded out of the room. And while a single legion devil is no great threat, wall-to-wall legion devil carpeting can be quite dangerous indeed.

During this task, a brigand from the next chamber, Beaufort, seemingly unaware of the death of Remus Pop, wandered into the chapel area and became petrified with wide-eyed terror at seeing the chapel thick with devils while the party hacked and slashed through them. Vakil Raesarus discovered a secret room adjacent to the chapel, containing a locked chest. Kevin opened the chest (eventually) and removed from therein a set of religious cloth vestments, Vyrellis’s shard, and some sort of ritual wafer that was part of the warding ritual keeping Danneh imprisoned.

Ultimately, and unfortunately, the party’s deactivation of the wards was entirely flummoxed at a critical moment by Grognan, allowing Danneh to finally leave the chapel, but binding her soul to the pyramid for all eternity. She would never be able to leave it so long as it existed; and if it were ever to be destroyed, she would cease to be. The pyramid’s fate and her own were now one. With the party’s failure, Danneh saw no point in maintaining her ruse any longer, and revealed her true form as a black-winged succubus, and fled the room ahead of the party, spitting curses and hate and death upon them, and vowing her revenge.

With this failure, our band evacuated the chapel which was quickly filling to capacity with devils (although they seemed to stop accumulating after Danneh fled). Kevin took custody of Beaufort. Spent and bloodied, our adventurers settled in for a much-needed rest. Meanwhile, Kevin continues to have that irritating rash on his neck, and a wild, almost animalistic look in his eyes.

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Season 2, episode 2-01: Enter the Pyramid
In which our characters meet the second newest inmates in the infernal prison, and quickly kill them, and several of our players contract a suspicious rash

Shunned Room. Remus. Remus’s main squat. Gurrak Headtaker. Infernal prison entrance. Grararsh, marsh mystic. Flooded room.

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