The Hopes of Karenguuld

Chapter I: Part I - The Archives of Karenguuld

The Summoning

The adventure begins as our heroes approach the Magical Archives of Karenguuld. Each has received a scroll, sealed with the Signet of the Archive Staff and signed by Headmaster Luden, summoning them to the archives to receive the adoration worthy of their noble deeds. Kheldar, the Deva Psion, has risen from his crooked beginnings to become the Adept of Ioun. Katsako Daidoji, the Vrylaka Blackguard has channeled the horror of her bloodlust to become the Cursed Vrylocka of legend. Corvus, the Shifter Avenger, has sworn himself to and is becoming The Retribution of the Raven Queen. Artemis, the arrogant human fighter has so proven himself in battle and is being named the Hero of Kildengaard. Popular Baracus, known for his epic tales and more epic battle savvy, is being honored as the Minstrel of Karenguuld.

The heroes arrive at the archives at roughly the same time and realize they are all arriving for similar purposes. But something strange seems to be afoot. The usual bustling activity of the archives seems to have slowed to a grinding halt. In fact, other than the receptionist – who seems to be overly concerned with her pet kitten – the heroes are unable to find anyone until Kheldar goes to visit his old library stomping grounds. There the old librarian Mido points them towards Luden’s small office on the second floor, although he’s quite irritated that they interrupted him from playing with his ferret. Upon closer inspection of their scrolls, they realize that this may be where they might find Luden, since he left them a hidden message by capitalization. “I Am In The Observatory Help” Other than a brief encounter with the Assistant Headmaster, Nalia, and her pet pig, they proceed to the office without incident.

Inside, they find only a desk with a tome and Luden’s journal on it. Otherwise, the office is tiny and stark. There are 9 decorative stones imbedded into the wall and a small token with a hand-shaped groove upon it. THis strikes the party as strange decor, and they pour through Luden’s journal for clues. One page stands out from an otherwise mundane index of students and archival business. Luden wrote, “I keep forgetting how to get into the observatory, so I set up my office to help. Remember, the passcode is not a real word!” The heroes realize that this must be the purpose of the stones. After checking for traps, Artemis places his hand in the groove and says, “What is this” The moment he begins to speak, one of the stone’s begins to glow. The heroes soon realize that the red glow corresponds to correct letters, and a blue glow from the seating represents a correct but misplaced letter. Soon, Corvus says, “Imaginary” and the wall slides open to reveal a hallway.

As they approach the door across from them, the heroes hear a faint chanting and are illuminated by a sickly yellow glow emanating from the room beyond. As they slowly open it and peer into the room, they observe a horrific scene….

Piles of bodies are strewn amongst the cold marble floor. Pale and sickly, Kheldar recognizes the staff of the archives among them. Small rivulets of blood seem to be flowing from these bodies, which are approaching husk status. Pools of blood and bloody statues have been arranged around the room and religious symbols have been painted on the floor in the blood. Five blood cultists, draped in red robes, are the source of the chanting. Katsako and Corvus recognize them to be in the final stages of a summoning spell. All this comports with the burgeoning mass upon the observatory’s altar, the source of the summoning. Luden is attached to this mass by a tube, which seems to be draining his life force.

The heroes charge into the fray, but quickly find themselves encumbered by the mass of bodies struggling to grab the warmth they no longer possess. Nonetheless, the heroes begin to assault the cultists in hopes that they can stop the spell before completion. One by one, the cultist begin to fall. But with each death, the spell seems to accelerate. After the first cultist drops, the mass opens into a gory, oozing eye, that fixes on Kheldar, freezing him in his tracks. After each, successive death, the eye grows stronger, eventually penetrating Artemis’s mind and forcing him to attack Corvus. Quickly after, the spell seems to complete, and a withering devil bursts forth from the eye. It attempts to devour the souls of our heroes, but they prevail in battle, with Katsako leaping upon his back and beheading him.

As the devil’s blood splashes over the poor creatures on the ground, they begin to revive, and Luden is the first to regain full capacity of his mind. Slowly, the staff and local villagers that had been subjected to these horrors become aware of the brave victory our heroes had forged, and they drop to worship them. Luden bestows the promised honors upon each of them, and they are rewarded handsomely.

After resting and filling their bellies at a grand banquet, the heroes speak with Luden on how the day’s events had transpired. Luden professes to them that the situation is not completely resolved. Many months ago, his former assistant, Swiften Banterlocke, had been frantically researching the ancient lost Isle of Udacha, rumored to have ascended to the sky. Around the same time, he disappeared, along with the magical mordenkraad that had long protected the archives. He guesses that he had completed his research and had uncovered the horrific source of power that the legend speaks of.

Because the mordenkraad no longer protected the Arhcives, local robbers and thieves had begun to wreak havoc upon them. The most recent events were an eventual inevitably, Luden feels. The blood cultists of Orcus had arrived a fortnight before and began their summoning spell, using the local population’s life force as their power source. They attempted to avoid suspicion by casting spells of symbiosis on several of the staff, so they might work through the spell – explaining the obsession with ferrets, cats, and pigs the heroes had observed. Luden pleads with the heroes to recover the mordenkraad, lest the archives be subject to greater destruction. THe heroes agree that this meets their mettle, but are unsure where to turn.

The heroes follow Swiften’s trail. With the help of a much more amicable Mido, Kheldar and Baracus find that Swiften had stolen a tome of the ancient legend of Udacha from the library, confirming Luden’s suspicions that his disappearance and the legend were linked. Meanwhile, the rest of the heroes search Swiften’s old room. Corvus finds a small stone on the floor, and when Artemis steps on it, a small compartment opens under the bed, revealing a journal and the missing tome. The journal is filled with mathematical calculations, religious diagrams, and a few journal entries. The last says, “I’ve done it, now I must find a Pegasus.”

The party infers that he found the location of the lost Isle, and that Swiften has attempted to reach it. Luden points them towards the region where the legend claims it ascended into the sky. When they mention the journal entry, his eyes begin to dance – it seems he loves the majestic nature of their adventure – but more importantly, he points them in the direction of a local animal trainer, rumored to have flying beasts.

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