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Many Alternate Doors, No Exits in Sight (MADNES) 57: The Reliquary Guard

Seriously, if the wall didn't stop it, what do you think your poorly designed spears are going to do?
Would it surprise you to know that Thor decided to grapple it?

Heralds come in all shapes and sizes. And CRs. Case in point: the emissary awaiting the group as the left the temple they'd just . . . cleansed. (The less said about that particular adventure the better)

In fact, they'd cleansed the temples so well that, not only did it look new again, a cleansing field had sprung forth from it, extending past its walls. Any spirits that entered the field glowed and rose into the sky. Any zombies that broke that threshold emitted a spirit (that emulated the non meat clad spirits) before dropping to the ground life/undeath-less.

And just outside of that field was a Nightwalker. This was quickly discovered when Frank snuck a look outside. He wasn't seen, but of course he told the rest of the group. Who all had to see for themselves. None of which excel at stealth. And certainly not this time.

However, all were able to see the creature avoiding the aura emitted by the church like a demon stopped by a line of salt. So, assuming they were safe for the moment, Thor (who had inherited the roll of party face from Loki) confronted the creature.

Surprisingly, it spoke back. Amidst their shock it told them that it's liege (the lich) was quite upset. Apparently whomever was raising his crypt had also animated a Grisgol out of his loot, including one of his phylacteries. He wanted this issue dealt with, without destroying the phylactery, so he could get back to being left alone.

Apparently the more pleasant option as to his temperament and designs was correct, at least if you believed the Nightwalker. Which meant that the city of clerics above him were less to keep him in place, and more to keep any hapless adventurer from poking a dragon, as it were.

It told them they could find the Grisgol in one of the two other main churches Older Maiphere had told them about, and asked that the group intervene.

They agreed to deal with this threat without destroying the phylactery, which led to the next question: exactly what was the phylactery. Strangely the Nightwalker would not tell them. For reasons unknown it would only tell Hazel.

Clearly it knew not who it was confiding in. Had it known, it would have accepted the inevitable and cut out the middle man. Instead, it insisted the men go back into the church. And once the door was closed it created an illusion of the phylactery for her to see. Then it departed.

As you could guess, Hazel immediately spilled the beans. It turned out the phylactery in question was a small ruby in the chest of the creature.

That just left how to get to the next church. In the end they decided to go by way of rooftops, thus avoiding the undead riffraff in the streets. In almost no time at all they found themselves overlooking a fort style church.

As they'd come to expect at this point it was surrounded by clumps of undead. What they hadn't expected was that those clumps would be organized in patrols.

While they were analyzing the patrols Thor remembered that Maiphere had warned them about this. But he'd also said that, as long as they left the patrols alone they would ignore the party. Being the fastest of the two flyers in the group, Thor hopped down to test this data.

And, as it turned out, the paladin zombies (which is completely different from zombie paladins) ignored him. All they had to do was stroll casually through the heavily fortified entrance.

Unfortunately, that plan was put on hold . . . by guess who. While Thor was testing their intel, Hazel had noted lights moving around in the sewers below.

She and Frank investigated (Frank utilizing his traveler's any tool to open a manhole) to find two lines of kobolds scurrying back and forth. The line heading towards the keep/church were carrying empty sacks, while the line heading away were laden with treasures both spectacular and mundane.

In other words, they were robbing the paladins blind.

Hazel suddenly got an impulse to chase after one to get information. And, since Steve wasn't there to curb her impulses, she was off into the sea of Kobolds. The other three chased after her as fast as they could,

Fortunately, the Kobolds knew better than to attack, and once they realized they were only being shaken down for information, they were downright chatty. Particularly about the Room-They-Must-Not-Enter. Apparently there was some really good loot in there. Unfortunately, the loot had objected. Violently.

Which sounded like their quarry to them. They followed the given directions to see an amalgamation of magical items in a vaguely humanoid shape, a glittering ruby sticking in it's chest.

{Player's Note: Since body shots were out, any ranged attacks had to be called shots in order to avoid damaging the phylactery, which I found to be a delightfully inventive way of limiting Frank's damage output. (I hadn't actually meant him to do so much damage when I built him.)}

The group fell quickly into its standard formation with Steve in the front, Thor directly behind him, and Hazel and Frank bringing up the rear. Due to Frank being required to take careful shots, his damage was much lower than previous engagements, only getting one shot per round. This was complicated when the creature utilized its Choking Dust ability to penalize melee attacks.

As Steve hit it, releasing the spray, only Hazel was able to ascertain what was happening. She quickly warned the group melee attacks would hurt them. With that rather cryptic warning, Steve fell back on defending, and Thor throwing his hammer.

Still things were looking okay, until it removed a flash bomb from its body. Only Thor made the check for partial blindness/deafness. The other three were limited to the senses of Helen Keller.

The deafness proved particularly difficult for Hazel, as it caused spell failures. Still, eventually she was able to cure herself and Frank. But Steve took massive damage before she could get to him.

Still, the creature must have been feeling the press itself, because it retreated into the nearest room. The group followed to see it heading towards a dragon heart shaped assembly of crystals. At that point Thor had had enough. He grappled, pinned, and tied up the assembly of magical instruments, at which point the three took turns performing coup de grace attacks until it was dead.

The Grisgol collapsed into a pile of component items. The three stood up from their good work to see Kobolds watching them from the entry. Thor warned them away but not before one could snag a scroll from the corpse.

Steve headed off others trying to get the crystal heart before Thor could usher them all out. Then the group took the Kobold's idea and looted, coming up with many useful items including 2 type 4 BOHs and a number of Type 3s. The dragon heart went into one of the type fours, much to the chagrin of the watching Kobolds.

Once they were allowed back in, the Kobolds offered trade after trade for the heart, but got no takers from the group.

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