A Spreading Evil

Dark forces test the city of Hawkstone

The party approached the city gates and a large number of guards gathered to stop them, wary of the powerful and dangerous-looking minotaur. Stravo delivered to them a letter written and signed by Barristan Hark, explaining the group’s good intentions and worthy deeds. Cautiously agreeing, the guards stood aside and let the heroes enter Hawkstone.

The party traveled to the temple to Pelor, to see if they could get their companion, Trinkstein restored to life. They met with a dwarf cleric, Durgrim Ironedge. He agreed to help them, but asked that they help the church in return. Something was interfering with the normal operation of one of the smaller shrines in the outlying farms and Durgrim asked them to investigate. The party accepted, and Lyris agreed to accompany them.

The small chapel was not far, perhaps a thirty minute travel from the city gates. It stood in isolation, surrounded by flat farmland, with only a few trees in the churchyard to provide any shade. It was near dusk when the party approached, the setting sun making the church cast long shadows across the ground. In the deepening twilight, the party could make out the flicker of candles behind the stained glass windows of the chapel.

Shivra was the first to the door, her keen ears able to make out the soft droning sound of someone chanting continuously. When her companions joined her on the doorstep and looked at her questioningly, she could only shrug. Malroc and Crono took up positions by the entrance, and the big minotaur opened the heavy wooden door.

Within the chapel, an unholy ritual was being completed. A screaming villager was sacrificed, and his bones seemingly dissolved. The resulting sac of flesh moved of its own accord, and it joined other creatures like it, showing that this was not the first such ritual. Two male cultists performed these rituals, a human and tiefling. They sent their newly created minions into combat and launched debilitating spells at the heroes.

The battle was fierce, but Crono and Shivra were able to attack the spellcasters and keep them from affecting the battlefield. Meanwhile, Malroc and the others were able to keep the demonic flesh creatures at bay, eventually battering them into oblivion.

The heroes found more villagers, bound and gagged, in a room in the back of the small church. They released them and sent them on their way. In the catacombs beneath the chapel, they found another cultist, trying to create undead from the bodies of the buried. Another straightforward battle had the adventurers prove victorious. On the bodies of the vanquished cultists, the party found strange, unholy symbols. It was of a two-headed, dog-like beast, its heads facing away from each other.

They collected what they could from the fallen cultists and made their way back to the The Hall of the Dawnlord. Durgrim thanked them for their efforts, and the ritual to raise Trinkstein was undertaken. Soon enough, the dwarf invoker was restored to life.

With the party intact, Lyris bid her companions farewell. She would journey as soon as possible to the city of Westreach, to rejoin her parents. The half-elf wizard thanked them again, inviting them to seek her out if they ever were in need.

It was decided that Crono and Trinkstein would travel to the library at the Magistus Arcantheum, to find if it held any knowledge of the Orb. Stravo and Malroc would travel to see the wizard Annazar, to see if he knew anything about the cursed sphere, and also to determine if he had any contact with Marthell. Shivra would remain at the inn, and try to avoid drawing any attention to herself.

After a brief introductory period, the librarians at the Magistus Arcantheum agreed to let the swordmage and invoker peruse the archives. The duo could find very little information about the Orb. What few passages they could find only hinted at the Orb potentially holding incredible power, but also a dangerous, corrupting influence.

The bard and the wardern were similarly fruitless in their search. The wizard Annazar wasn’t even home, his energetic (if ill-informed) apprentice explaining how his master rarely told him anything that didn’t pertain to his magical studies. At a loss, they returned to the inn and meet up with the rest of their friends.

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