The return trip to Cromm’s Hold was surprisingly uneventful. Monsters and foul creatures seemed to shun the party as they trudged out with Maechen leading the way. When they arrived at the Hold they were greeted as heroes! Sir Isteval was amazed by their luck with Thoss and how bravely they assaulted the Fane of the Sun Swallower. He was most interested in the dealings with the half orc thieves and their employer, the now deceased Red Wizard of Thay, Arvik Zaltos. After an evening of hard partying the adventurers turned in, but each was plagued by strange and vivid dreams of demonic forces pouring through abyssal hell-gates. Must have been the eggplant parm?
The next morning they awoke to the sound of panic and alarm bells! The sentries placed on the recovered Water Altar were found with their throats torn to ribbons by some sort of clawed animal and the Water Altar …was shattered. The furniture and all the chests in the storeroom were in splinters and standing water was everywhere. Adding to the mystery, Maechen, their swamp guide and loyal friend, was nowhere to be found. With no leads as to who destroyed the altar other than the missing guide, Sir Isteval led the somber heroes back to Daggerford.
The summer festivities were still in full tilt in Daggerford and the party enjoyed a puppet show depicting an inept Sir Isteval and the heroes duping Thoss out of his treasure and saving the day. Shortly after the show they were approached by a young southern lass named Onya Onchabar asking for them to meet her at dusk in the shadow of Delfen’s Tower. As they later enjoyed their afternoon dinner at the tavern they were startled when they looked outside and saw the missing Maechen! She was casually putting up a wanted poster for a surly bald woman named Darwa Dallion who was a known associate of Arvik Zaltos (and probable Red Wizard as well). Maechen didn’t recognize the party and claimed to have just returned from a patrol near Mount Illefarn, which was backed up by the rest of her guard company. Whoever the party had been adventuring with in the Lizard Marsh, it wasn’t the real Maechen!
That afternoon they decided to meet Onya as requested in the shadow of Delfen’s tower to figure out what she needs. Its widely known that words spoken while in the shadow of Delfen’s tower cannot be overheard outside the shadow. Whatever Onya had to tell them must be of extreme importance. They were naturally a little disappointed to find out she needs your help tracking down her baby-day, Arassan. The foolish young man had fallen in with a bad crowd of late whilttrying to make ends meet for his family to be. Onya believes that their nursemaid is actually the wanted woman, Darwa Dallion, and thinks that she led Arassan to the Ambergul Estate to the south-east. She begs the heroes to get Arassan to give up his role in Darwa’s gang and come home before he gets in serious trouble with the authorities and ends up hanging next to Arvik Zaltos!
After Onya’s departure they were ‘approached’ (summoned) by yet another interested party. Delfen, the Wizard authority in town, had been eavesdropping from his tower (turns out the entire tower can hear words spoken in it’s shadow…oops) and is interested in what the Red Wizards may be up to over at the Ambergul Estate. He filled in the party on the background of the Amberguls and their grave robbing, Evil Elemental Prince worshiping past. The estate has been long reduced to ruin and the family disappeared, but Delfen is confident that the crypts beneath are probably intact and may contain another of the Altars the Red Wizards are so interested in.
The heroes set out that night for the Ambergul estate and eventually find it off the road sound and east of Cromm’s Hold. After some searching of the still standing graveyard for the family they discover a secret entrance in one of the crypts and a pair of lookouts. One of them was Arassan, who they managed to talk into heading home to his baby mamma with a few well placed persuasion checks. His companion was not enthused by his desertion and he and his imp ally had to be put down. Injured but cooperative, Arassan told them that Darwa was leading a small band of thieves and brutes down into the crypt and that she seemed to have a general idea of where she was going and what she was looking for…but refused to share the information with any of them.
With some clever dungeoneering they discovered a false wall and entered the Ambergul family crypts truly, descending into the fetid darkness. They first encountered a multi-chambered crypt that housed the remains of the family. Some of the coffins were still sealed while others had already been pilfered. Mixed in with the crypts was a small alcove filled with red mist that turned out to be a teleportation room that whisked Juggs and Ashley off to another part of the crypt. Before Flynnwicka and Patrick could join them, they tripped an alarm and were assaulted by a pair of horrifying flesh golems. Their weapons and spells were generally useless against the arcane creatures and it took the combined strength of the party to disassemble them. Escaping the room by raising the nearby portcullis by hand triggered a nearby dragon statue to bathe them all in flame. What a pain in the ass.
They found themselves in an underground complex that was ornate, but long-since unoccupied. They immediately noticed a mysteriously shrouded woman on a balcony above them that quickly disappeared from sight with a flourish. To their left a large room opened into a room with a series of magical pools containing unseen or unreachable treasures. A bit singed and battered from their encounter with the golems, the heroes proceeded cautiously. Ashley cast an invisibility spell on herself and Flynnwicka used all of her skills in stealthy movement to assess each pool. The first pool they solved was a tar lined pit filled with thousands of gold pieces. Naturally, after touching the gold a pair of nearby pillars exploded, revealing another pair of flesh golems. The party used the various pools to trap and isolate the golems so they could bash and burn them one by one. With the horrors dispatched they fished incredible treasures out of each pool including a magical Frost Sword, a Staff of Charming and various spell scrolls. As they counted their coins and stored their treasure, Patrick spotted a golden mechanical cat peering at them from inside a far passageway. The cat disappeared from view before he could show anyone else. Odd.
Having gathered their wits and patched their wounds. The group of adventurers decided to investigate the mysterious shrouded woman and after a short exploration found their way up to the audience chamber of Lady Alicia Ambergul, a Lich! Lady Ambergul was surprisingly cordial and entertained a few of their questions, though was markedly mysterious when it came to the whereabouts of Darwa Dallion and her gang. However, she sent one of her wondrous golden clockwork cats off with them and gave them some insight into what to what may lay beyond in the rest of the dungeon.
Creeping their way south they found the petrified remains of some fierce looking Minotaurs and thought better of going that way. They turned to the north side of the room and found their way into a series of chambers that were host to a wide variety of stone figurines. They pressed on and encountered a couple very much living minotaurs that were none to happy to be disturbed. The beasts charged and with some quick thinking the heroes managed to trap them under a portcullis. Eventually they were able to slay the angry monsters and moved along deeper into the dungeons, only to be assaulted by the ground and sky itself. Some very well camouflaged Trapper and Lurker beasts nearly engulfed the poor rogue Flynnwicka, but were soon beat into submission. The party also stumbled across some gargoyles as well that needed shattering, which Juggs was happy to provide.
Soon after the gargoyles fell to pieces, the party came across a secret chamber and their goal. Poor Darwa Dallion was petrified, and the smashed Earth Altar laid bare. They also saw a petrified rat but paid it no mind. They decided to leave Darwa be once it became apparent that the Key was not to be found in the Alter any longer in favor of completely exploring the rest of the dungeon. Creeping down into the lowest and darkest areas they found a strange room displaying all manner of stone sculptures and figures of cave creatures. They also encountered and interesting stone Sphinx that would answer truly any one question from each of them. Patrick Scully decided his question would be in the form of a cutting joke of course and told one so uncanny that the Sphinx could not determine the punchline ahead of delivery and so was banished back to the Celestial Plane.
In the next room the sculptor became obvious as they encountered Olivine Ambergul, the black widow of the Ambergul family and now cursed madusa! She and what remained of her brothers (another flesh golem) attacked, but were soon slain as well. What remained of her husbands around the room were at last avenged and their last treasures were given up.
With the dungeon secured as far as they could tell the party took advantage of some of the depetrification mechanisms to re-animate Darwa and get some answers from the Red Wizard. Knowing a bad situation when she sees one, Darwa spilled the beans in hopes for mercy. She told the heroes that she served Arvik Zaltos, who was seeking the four elemental keys from his base in Mount Illefarn and that the Elemental Princes would aid them in subjugating the Sword Coast and retaking their homeland from Szaz Tam, the vile Lich overlord of Thay.
When they returned to Daggerford they were greeted as heroes for thwarting another Red Wizard and their earlier heroics in the Lizard Marsh. A wildfire far to the east in the Laughing Hallow briefly got their attention before they decided to enjoy their fame with a dinner feast with Duke Maldwyn Daggerford and his stern older sister, Morwen. The Duke’s other guest, Lord Floshin, tried to persuade the party that turning his rebuilt estate to the north into a home for the insane nobles of Waterdeep was a great idea and succeeded with the greedy Duke. Sir Isteval and the heroes were less impressed as was Lady Morwen. As the evening went on and the Duke got smashed, it became apparent that he was less interested in the fires to the east and the threat of the Red Wizards than he probably should have been. Sir Isteval brought the evening to a close by advising them of some information that he and Delfen had been able to extract out of Darwa.
The last of the four elemental keys sought by the Red Wizards was likely hidden in an Anvil Altar to Imix, the Prince of Evil Elemental Fire. Unfortunately, the disgraced pariah of the Ironeater clan of dwarves, Dwarf-king Korin, brought the Altar (mistakenly thinking it an Altar to Moradin) to Illefarn when he broke with this elder brother (and rightful king) Derval to try and retake the mountain some twenty years ago. Sir Isteval then secretly tells you to meet with the old dwarf king the next morning.