The Shield of Heaven

Demonreach and the Blood Marsh
Lizardmen die too easy.

After leaving the children with the Temple of Virtus, the heroes were summoned to Prince Reginald’s Keep to speak with him. However, they chose to ignore the summons until the morning and promptly returned to the Green Dragon for some well-deserved rest. Upon entry, they discovered that Reaver, their prisoner from the Double Blooded Crusade, had escaped.

During the night, an assassin entered the secret chamber in the Green Dragon and attempted to murder Cain Silverkin in his sleep. He struck a nearly fatal blow but Cain managed to thwart the attack and wake his comrades. Together, they drove the intruder from the premises — Ayla and Dietrich jumped out the window in an attempt to intercept the intruder (Dietrich landed gracefully while Ayla collapsed in a heap). Upon losing the assassin, Dietrich went to the thieves’ guild to find any information he could about the intruder. He discovered only that the assassin was known as “The Black Death”, a legendary assassin from Blackwall who only targeted high-profile persons.

In the morning, as they gathered around the breakfast table, they questioned Cain to try to learn his secrets. Why had he been targeted? What secrets was he keeping? When he refused to tell, Hogarth cast a “zone of truth” spell and forced Cain to tell the truth (as well as all the patrons in the tavern, causing a local couple to end their relationship after one admitted he had been cheating).

Cain revealed that he was originally from Blackwall and attended wizard’s school there, and at the height of his education the school was attacked and burned to the ground. He had a chance to save his mentor, but fled to save his own life instead. Since then, a bounty has been on his head because Blackwall assumes he was responsible for his mentor’s death.

After breakfast, they finally made their way to Prince Reginald’s Keep. Reginald gave them a reward of 5,000 gp and declared them official Thanes of Thrax, giving them full access to the library’s services and the ability to dispatch messages to any friendly locations via the Prince’s couriers.

The Prince asked them to speak to a prisoner they captured during the attack on Thrax, whose capture cost the lives of 18 guards and their best wizard. The prisoner, Thanatos, described his newfound allegiance to Malum, who appeared to him at the base camp below the Devil’s Spine and instructed him to renounce his allegiance to Blackwall so he could retrieve the Heaven’s Shields. He warns them that the Shields possess a great danger, one that even Malum fears, and that they should return it to him immediately and abandon their quest. In response, Cain used prestidigitation to conjure a fruit basket on Thanatos’s head.

Prince Reginald told them that Thanatos would undergo trial in three days, and would gladly allow them to view the trial.

Reginald requested the heroes travel south to Demonreach Keep, where the lizardmen fortified their stronghold. One of the Double-Blooded Crusade had been known to fraternize with them, and he said he would be most happy if they could eliminate the problem for him and would offer a handsome reward.

Before they left, Crank showed them that he could disguise the Heaven’s Shield and allow the Heaven’s Compass to point to the nearest Heaven’s Shield. Dietrich hired a band of adventurers at 20 gp/day to watch their cart as they ventured through the Blood Marsh and bought a pair of canoes to traverse the marsh. Davward volunteered to accompany them. The journey took a full day to reach the marshes and another half day to find Demonreach. By the time they reached the keep, which was clearly in a state of disrepair, rain had begun to pour. Two boggards ambushed them but were easily driven away.

The keep was guarded by several lizardmen and two ballistae. The heroes easily overcame the lizardmen and moved into the keep, finding a trapdoor leading to a series of caverns. Inside the cavern, several earth elementals attacked them; Dietrich managed to knock one into a river of acid. The others were destroyed by more conventional means.

They found a conveyor belt (covered in Deinonychus blood) leading deeper into the dungeon, as well as a cavern that led the same way. The cavern ended in an abyss; in an attempt to cross, they tied a rope around Davward’s midsection (who, by the way, happens to be afraid of heights), and tried to toss him across. The distance was too great, however, and Davward snapped back and slammed into the cavern wall, suffering poison from the nearby acid waterfall as he fell.

After they pulled Davward back up, they decided to take the conveyor belt. Halfway through they encountered a slicing machine; Dietrich successfully disabled it.

As they came out into a larger cavern, lizardmen immediately attacked. One pointed a Rod of Rulership at a large cage, releasing a T-Rex from its confines. The T-Rex went on a rampage against the heroes until they managed to kill the lizardman with the Rod, releasing the T-Rex from the spell. It turned on its captors and swallowed some lizardmen. Davward managed to successfully land a maximized magic missile spell on it, but other than that they decided to leave it be and escape.

Before making his escape, Cain found a note in a chest addressed to Anya Carpenter, instructing her to perfect her summoning so the assault on Thrax can go as planned.

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King Edward's Tomb and the Masquerade Ball
More Adventures in Thrax

Our heroes continued back to the Monastery, where they encountered Calathes Silvertail, a half-elf, searching for the Blink Stone in Head Monk Plius’ quarters. Unbeknownst to them, Calathes was a member of the Double-Blooded Crusade and part of the party that previously rescued our heroes from the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

After prodding him for information and forcing him to give up one of the three Griffon eggs, they learned that the other members of the Double-Blooded Crusade were plundering King Edward’s tomb in search of further treasure to aid in their overthrow of the Thrax government. The heroes traveled to the tomb and entered into battle with goblins, a halfling magician, and Reaver Redwood. After tossing a few goblins into spike pits and avoiding pools of acid, they successfully overcame the Reaver and his minions and took him captive, recovering one of the griffon’s eggs in the process. They learned that Anya, another member of the Double-Blooded Crusade, carried the final griffon egg and was last seen heading south.

The night of Janstina Gladomain’s masquerade ball approached, so the heroes prepared by purchasing noble’s outfits and storing their equipment in a Bag of Holding. On the night of the ball, they met Thomas Cormyn and Hollyana Raven, both well-known nobles in Thrax with different attitudes of the general populace; Cormyn was generally pleasant whereas Raven came off as pretentious and self-absorbed.

Crank and Magistrate Stephan Marmeduke were also present. After an appearance by Prince Reginald himself, Gladomain raised her glass in a toast and provided everybody with strong, rare Elven ale (of which Cain refused to drink).

The Elven ale was drugged and the party — minus Cain — went down, only to wake at a sacrificial altar that held the nobles, Crank, and a few children as well. Gladomain led the procession and poured acid onto the victims, scarring them and threatening to kill them.

The party managed to undo their bonds as Cain found the room, effectively overcoming the chains on the victims while fending off a large animated dragon statue. Hogarth managed to keep the citizens alive with his Channel Energy ability, and the others managed to free them and defeat the dragon statue. Gladomain ended up in a vat of acid, thoroughly melted.

The heroes took the children to the Temple of Virtus and left them in their care.

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The Incorporeal Monastery
or "How Our Heroes Became Venture Capitalists"

Upon their escape of Thrax, the heroes were met with a Blackwall captain and his contingent of lizardmen operating a ballista aimed at the walls of Thrax. Naturally, the heroes engaged the invaders and defeated them, claiming the ballista as their own and returning to the city as heroes.

With the invaders repelled and the relative safety of Thrax restored, the heroes decided to attempt to buy The Green Dragon, their favorite local tavern, from its owner, Boren Oaklord. After consulting his wife, Boren agreed to sell the tavern for 3,000 gold as long as he could keep his job. The heroes also agreed to pay him 5 gold/week and half the profits each month, as well as 100 gold to renovate the building.

The party left their commoner friend, Calin, with Dolgrin Ironhammer, owner of Ironhammer’s Axes to learn to become a blacksmith under Dolgrin’s tutelage. They also managed to convince Magistrate Stephan Marmeduke to grant the boy a full pardon, arguing that he was acting under duress (and 100 gold also helped sway Marmeduke’s opinion of the boy, too).

The heroes set out for the Sartre Monastery once again, towing Crank along with them once again, who was more than happy to join them on another adventure. Upon arriving at the Monastery, they found the entire place abandoned save for the bodies of a few monks and the incorporeal remnants of others. Shadows lurked in every corner. The heroes found Head Monk Plius in his quarters, reduced to an incorporeal form.

Plius described three adventurers who helped liberate the monastery from Blackwell soldiers, but cast a spell to turn the monks incorporeal after the monastery had been reclaimed. He did not know the purpose behind their actions nor where they went after numerous shadowy beings appeared and began attacking the monks. He did, however, see them drop a small blue marble that seemed incredibly important to them; it seemed clear that they didn’t want to stay in the monastery after they lost this item. Unable to interact with it, the pearly object remained in his quarters, untouched.

Until Cain Silverkin cast Dispel Magic on the item. The heroes were then turned incorporeal and the monks disappeared — perhaps forever.

The party then continued to clear out the monastery and free it from the clutches of a Wraith and its evil, soul-sucking shadows. After waiting 24 hours, the spell was lifted and the heroes returned to their normal corporeal forms. In the monastery’s cloister, they found eight griffons shackled as part of an endangered species protection program. Crank was able to learn (after casting Speak with Animals that their eggs had been stolen by the same adventurers who turned the monastery’s inhabitants incorporeal. The heroes agreed to search for the missing eggs.

They returned to Thrax, delivering the sad news of the monastery’s fate to the head monk of the Temple of Ordinem, who asked that they protect the monastery. They politely declined and the monk, unperturbed, stated he would find others to guard it and thanked them for their help.

While the other party members prepared for their next trip to the Sartre Monastery to search for the missing griffon eggs, Dietrich von Freiburg (now calling himself “Longshanks Thunderbolt”) set out in search of the city’s rumored Thieves’ Guild. He learned that Halifax, the supposedly dead leader of the Thieves’ Guild, was rumored to have survived an attempt on his life and was returning to Thrax. It is unknown what Wallace Stalkingwolf, the current head of the Thieves’ Guild, feels about this rumor.

Meanwhile, Hogarth Hammerfist heard news that children of nobility had been going missing lately. He went to the orphanage to learn what he could of this recent development.

On the day of their journey to the monastery, a halfling delivered a message from Janstina Gladomain, a local female elven noble, requesting their presence at a masquerade ball five night forthwith.

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Hill Giants and the Assault on Thrax
In Which the Heroes Meet a Troublesome Gnome Named Crank

The heroes made their way back to Thrax and discovered that the Blackwall encampment had been completely ravaged and burned to the ground. They hole up at The Green Dragon, a local tavern they frequented in the past. There they met Dolgrin Ironhammer, the owner of a local weapons shop (and who Ayla Wittenberg could match drink-for drink) and Boren, the barkeep.

While deliberating on what to do with the Heaven’s Shield, they were interrupted by a commotion outside. A nobleman announced that a boy, aged 17-18, was sentenced to death for consorting with the Double-Blooded Crusade — to be carried out immediately. The heroes interrupted the public execution, saved the boy, and hid under a trapdoor in the Green Dragon.

They decided to keep the boy, Calen, with them and head south to kill a hill giant that was ravaging some farmland. “Crank”, a bardic gnome, joined them. They defeated the hill giant, found a heap of gold and a portrait of Prince Reginald, and returned to Thrax. They were met by Nobleman Jarvis, who took them to a local magistrate to pardon them for the heroic deeds. The magistrate gave them Scrolls of Membership so they could enter Upper Thrax.

They bought new supplies in the magical shops and studied up on the artifacts from the Devil’s Spine in the library. As they were deliberating on what to do with the artifacts, a massive red dragon swooped into the town and dropped Thanatos and a few Blackwall soldiers to face the heroes.

Crank played a magical tune that fascinated Thanatos and the soldiers and the heroes escaped on the southern end of Thrax.

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The Devil's Spire

As a fog descended over the forest, the heroes discovered a Thrax outpost at the foothills of the Spine of the Dragon. There they met Commander Faust, a drunken old soldier with a hefty supply of dwarven ale to compensate for his lack of ambition. He told them of a shrieking monster that brought the fog and now haunted the river, which they would need to pass if they wanted to reach the tower in the distance.

After telling Commander Faust of the nearby Blackwall encampment, he decided to take his men back to Thrax to warn the prince. Having no other options, the heroes descended deeper into the forest toward the river and met a Sea Hag which attempted to barter with them. Instead, the heroes attacked and forced the Sea Hag to submit. She offered a magical item in exchange for her life to be spared. The heroes decided to let her live and received a Ring of Protection +1 in exchange.

The heroes found the tower abandoned and completely devoid of life — except for the occasional giant spider and lurking Shadow. They spent three to four days in the first floor alone, resting between battles attempting to defeat the Shadow.

After a thorough exploration of the first floor, they found a battleaxe with a magical aura that was capable of physically attacking the Shadow. After defeating the Shadow, they moved upstairs and disengaged (or set off) traps as they ventured further into the tower temple.

In the second floor they found a priest’s journal that described the method of entry to the Chamber of Malum, a sacred area of the tower temple the priests used to communicate with the god of death. It also suggested that only allies of Malum would be given entry without being burned to death.

The heroes also found a rack of potions, initially unidentified, and a dagger in a small enclave called the Spine Dagger. The priest’s journal revealed that the Spine Dagger must be used in a ritual sacrifice to gain entry to Malum’s chamber.

Instead, the heroes found a scroll with a Levitate spell on it and used it to raise a concrete dais in the basement (after the cleric successfully wiped out 30 undead zombies with his divine ability to channel energy).

The dais took them to the aerie of the tower, where they discovered the bodies of the priests and several artifacts: a rod, a bowl, and a book written in an ancient language. In the Chamber of Malum, they spoke to Malum through a skylight in the chamber. He showed them the Heaven’s Shield, hidden within a tall mirror on the opposite wall. When the heroes asked for it, Malum darkened the skylight and released a Bearded Devil from the mirror.

The heroes destroyed the darkened skylight, allowing light to filter back into the room and injure the demon. After enough pressure (and suffering infernal injuries from the demon’s large glaive), they managed to defeat the demon and enter into the mirror’s sanctum. They retrieved the Heaven’s Shield and were transported back to the tower’s entrance.

As they regained consciousness, something in the Dietrich Von FreiBurg’s backpack started chuckling…

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Thrax
Revived

The slain heroes were resurrected by Priestess Runa Castillo of the Shield Temple. She tells them her cousin, Prince Reginald, wished her to leave them dead, but she had a vision in that their fate will ultimately intertwine with the fate of the world.

She asked them to continue their quest for the Heaven Shields and told them the monks in the Sartre Monastery may be able to give them guidance. She gave them 1,000 gp and promised another 4,000 gp upon the recovery of the four Heaven Shields.

After three hours’ journey, the party encountered two Deinonychuses. With the help of a band of adventurers, they defeated the Deinonychuses.

Upon reaching the monastery, the heroes found it under attack by Pteranodons and Blackwall soldiers.

After securing the monastery with the help of the previous adventurers, Head Monk Plius gave them the Heaven’s Compass, which points to the nearest Heaven’s Shield. They followed it to the base of the mountains to the east, near the Spine of the Dragon, and encountered an enemy encampment. After slaying the scouting party, the heroes continued into the forest.

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Blackwall
Total party kill

The heroes attempted to engage in diplomatic relations with the prince, but upon being locked in their doors at night found their thirst for action insatiable. They broke free, burned down the guest quarters, and attacked the prince’s adviser, Thanatos, a scaly, reptilian man with powers they could not fathom.

Two heroes escaped with their lives. The rest were killed in battle against Thanatos.

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Introduction

The continent of Shieldus is in a state of disorder. The king’s untimely death at the hands of an unknown assassin has left the kingdom without a ruler. Even worse, he declared no heir before his death, leaving his sons with the perilous chore of negotiating who should become the country’s next ruler.

Prince Reginald of Thrax has decided to meet this challenge head-on and send emissaries to begin the discourse. Prince Alexander of Blackwall has readily accepted and expects the emissaries within the next few days.

However, Prince Reginald has recently come into the knowledge that Alexander has obtained a sacred Heaven Shield, one of four ancient relics of great power. He believes that if Alexander can acquire the remaining three, he will wield unimaginable power over the land.

The negotiations are a ploy. Reginald intends to send an elite band of mercenaries to simultaneously distract his brother and steal the Heaven Shield. If possible, they will escape Blackwall’s perimeter without garnering any attention. Regardless, if they escape with the Heaven Shield in their clutches and learn of the location of another one, Reginald will consider the mission a success.

After long deliberation, you have agreed to undertake the task. Reginald promises 500 gold pieces if the mission is successful, and you could certainly use the money. After a long week of traveling through farmland and the Fields Eternum, you are nearing your destination. Blackwall is in sight.

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History of Shieldus

Shieldus was not always named as such. Previously, it was known as “Terra Celestyx”, the draconic words for “Heavenly Land”. Centuries ago, it was a fertile land that endured long ages of peace between humans, gnomes, dwarves, and elves, but was soon attacked by invaders of unknown origin.

The four gods Virtus, Malum, Ordinem, and Chaos bound their powers for the first time in history and drove back the invaders. Together, they developed a spell that would repel the invaders and prevent their return. They gathered in the southern end of the continent and uttered the terrible spell.

So powerful was their magic that the land was torn apart and burned to its very core. After time, water seeped into the landscape and horrendous plants began to grow, forming the Blood Marshes.

The gods departed and continue to watch Shieldus with wary eyes, ever vigilant in their protection of the land but unwilling to interfere in the matters of mortals.

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