Tales of the Righteous Vanguard

Part Eleven: Vecna Lives! – Chapter 7

By the evening of their first day in Verbobanc, on Godsday, the 18th day of Reaping, in
the Common Year of 581, the Righteous Vanguard had made a number of contacts in the
Gnomeburg section of the city and had visited a number of places elsewhere in the city,
listening for rumors of any strange occurrences.
After gathering back together at Kron Hall, the band, including Turim, the old Rhennee
who had recently joined up with them, decided to have some dinner at the Red Don Inn,
a place that Kieranen knew of where the food was particularly good. As they were having
their dinner, they discussed what information they had gathered so far, and made plans for
the rest of the evening. Towards the end of their dinner, however, a drunk at a nearby table
picked a fight with Nicholas. So Nicholas met the drunk just outside the inn and quickly
knocked the drunk out with one solid punch, then nonchalantly rejoined his companions
back inside the inn. A short while later, just before leaving the inn, Nero, still disguised as
the wealthy merchant, Sir Omrey, asked the innkeeper several questions about the Cult of
Vecna. But the innkeeper claimed to know nothing about it and suggested they go look in
some of the less reputable places within the city.
So the group, at this point, split up. Alavarius wanted to spend some time at a bookstore,
called Bethan’s Books, to see if he could find any useful information. Turim they sent off
to the wharves to see if he could pick up any information from the Rhennee who might
be gathered there. The rest of the band all went to a tavern near the warehouses on the
southwestern corner of the city, called the Hanged Man.
Unfortunately, despite spending the entire evening at the bookstore, Alavarius was
unable to find any information that the band did not already have. But some progress was
made at the Hanged Man. Early on, they became aware of a group of men at one table who
were playing cards and gambling. One of the card players, a man by the name of Raypen,
seemed to be particularly skilled at the game and quickly amassed a sizable pile of coins in
front of him. Eventually, most of the players began to drop out of the game, which caused
Raypen to ask around the tavern if anyone else wanted to join in on the game. Nero, who
at this point was back in his disguise as Diur Daton, since he did not want to appear to be
too wealthy in such as dive as this tavern, volunteered to join in. They played for a couple
of hours and by then, Nero appeared to be doing quite well. But, in addition to being good
at bluffing other people, he was also particularly skilled at observing others and sensing
when they were bluffing. So Nero was aware that Raypen cheated from time to time, and
he also realized that Raypen was trying to set him up for a big score. But Nero had a plan
of his own, and so he played along with Raypen.

When it finally came time for Raypen to make his big score, by dealing what looked to
be a winning hand to Nero and then raising the stakes incredibly high, Nero went all in.
It was no surprise to him when suddenly Raypen produced a hand that somehow beat his
seemingly unbeatable hand. So Nero let Raypen make his big score. But before leaving the
table, he very subtly let Raypen know that he had cheated and that he wished to speak to
him in private. A short while later, Nero spoke with Raypen in private and threatened to
expose him unless he provided Nero with some information. When Raypen agreed to his
terms, Nero asked him some questions about the Cult of Vecna. Raypen told him that he
knew nothing about the cult, but promised to do some asking around of his own. Nero
agreed to this and the two set an appointment to meet again at the Hanged Man at about 8
o’clock on the following night.
While all of this was going on, Nicholas was hanging out near the front door of the
tavern, observing everything. As he was doing so, he noticed a half-elf nearby who
seemed to be doing the same thing. Eventually, the half-elf struck up a conversation with
Nicholas and introduced himself as Oaklin. Oaklin was a short and scrawny individual who
appeared to fit right in with the seamier side of town. But it soon became apparent that
he was also very knowledgeable about the city and pretty much everything that occurred
in it. Apparently realizing that Nicholas and his companions were from out of town and
trying to gather some information, he offered to show Nicholas and his friends around
town – for a price. Nicholas, deciding he would rather talk to Oaklin in private, made
arrangements to meet with Oaklin in a nearby alley, and a short while later the two of them
were doing just that.
At this point, Nicholas began asking questions about the Cult of Vecna. As usual,
Oaklin told him that he knew nothing about the cult, but assured Nicholas that he could
find someone who could at least provide him some rumors about it – again for a price.
He talked Nicholas into giving him a hundred gold piece gem, and said he would return
in a couple of hours. At that point, if he had any good information, he would give it to
Nicholas for another one hundred gold pieces. Oaklin then left and Nicholas returned to
the tavern to tell the others what had just happened. Nero was certain that Nicholas had
just lost a hundred gold pieces and that Oaklin would not return. But a couple of hours
later, Oaklin was back. Again they met in a nearby alley and Oaklin told Nicholas that
he had heard a rumor about where they might find the cult. As agreed upon, Nicholas
gave him another one hundred gold piece gem, and Oaklin told him about some unusual
occurrences that were happening about 13 miles to the southwest of the city, saying that
they might indicate the presence of a cult. He also drew a rough map for Nicholas, telling
him how to get to the place as well as to a nearby country inn that might also provide them
with some clues. With this information, the four companions then decided to call it a night
and returned to Kron Hall, where they met up again with Alavarius and Turim, who told
them they were unable to learn anything new.

That night, several members of the band stayed up late, in anticipation of a plan they
had proposed, of going out to the place described by Oaklin late at night the next night.
As a result, these same band members slept in late the following morning. But around
10 o’clock the next morning, on Waterday the 19th, seven members of city guards known
as Gentlemen of the Watch, showed up at Kron Hall with an order for the Righteous
Vanguard to come with them to the palace of the viscount for questioning. After getting
dressed, the band then went with the guards to the palace, where they met the Right
Honorable Sir Alfentrask, knight bannerette of the Viscount of Verbobanc’s Mounted
Borderers. He then brought the band before the Provost of the City, His Prominence
Rollo Augustin. There the magistrate asked the band about their business in town and
about why they were asking around about the Cult of Vecna. Apparently, Turim had been
even less discrete than the others about asking around for information on the Cult of
Vecna. Fortunately, Nero, once again posing as Sir Omrey, made sure to address everyone
by their proper titles and spoke for the group, telling the magistrate that certain members
of his extended family had become involved with the cult and that he and his companions
had come to Verbobanc to put a stop to it. He also told him some of the information
they had gathered which led them to Verbobanc and that they intended to investigate
the unusual activity southwest of the city. Rollo seemed pleased with Nero’s answers, but
insisted that they keep him informed of everything they learned, using Sir Alfentrask as
their contact. With this, the band was allowed to go on their way.
They soon after returned to Kron Hall, where some members of the band went back
to bed. At about 1 o’clock though, as previously arranged, the gnome merchant, Andisarr
Silver-Bags returned to Kron Hall and spoke with Nero. Unfortunately, he was not able to
provide Nero with any more new information. Then, just before 2 o’clock, Nero, Dravos
and Kieranen went to the Church of St. Cuthbert for their appointed audience with Bishop
Haufren. Bishop Haufren was a much more agreeable man to talk with than the Provost,
but he asked many of the same questions once the band told him they were seeking the
Cult of Vecna. But one piece of advice that the Bishop gave them was to stay at the Scythe
and Sheaf Inn, which he said was well suited to adventuring types and which he hinted
might be a good source of information.
With this information, the band decided to follow the Bishop’s advice, and relocated
to the Scythe and Sheaf Inn. On the way there however, they noticed that once again, it
appeared they were being followed by someone, though this person they did not recognize.
When they then tried to lead this person into an alley where they could easily ambush him,
he seemed to disappear. At the Scythe and Sheaf they got a couple of rooms, and then they
went back out into the city to take care of other chores. Dravos, for example, bought four
horses to be used by some of their group on their late night trip into the countryside, while
others dealt with other details or hung around the inn.

Later that evening, shortly after the sun went down, the band returned to the Hanged
Man, where Nero met up with Raypen again. But Raypen told him he could not pick up
any information about the Cult of Vecna. So the band, at this point, began their trip into
the country.
After about two and a half hours, the band arrived at the inn mentioned by Oaklin,
which was called the Rock Powder Inn. It was about 11:30 at this point and a light rain
had begun to fall. So the band rented a couple of rooms and sat in the taproom to see if
they could hear any rumors. The inn was run by a half-elf named Grammo Saxinus and
his wife and daughter. They spoke to the innkeeper a bit and he confirmed the rumor
that animals had been killed recently at a nearby limestone quarry, but did not believe the
rumor that monsters were responsible. In the taproom were a couple of local farmers, and
while they were sitting there, another young farmer came in from the rain very excited and
breathless. His conversation with the other farmers was easily overheard by the band, as he
spoke about seeing a large puddle of blood on a nearby trail and saw lights coming from
the quarry. Realizing that now would be the best time for them to investigate the quarry,
despite the light rain and the darkness, the band decided to head out immediately.
A short while later, they came across the puddle of blood mentioned by the farmer and
headed off the trail and into the woods. Nicholas scouted out ahead, and after clearing a
ridge and coming to the edge of the woods, he spotted a cemetery and beyond that the
lights coming from the quarry. Using a message spell to keep in touch with Nero, Nicholas
stealthily skirted around the cemetery, which he eventually realized was occupied by a few
dozen animated skeletons, and crept closer to the quarry. The rest of the band, meanwhile,
flew or used a dimension door spell to make their way to a wooded area near the opposite
side of the quarry. When they got close enough to see into the quarry, they saw what
appeared to be a dozen people dressed in robes, holding torches and chanting. They stood
around a blood-stained altar on which lay the carcass of a freshly killed deer and beyond
which stood another figure dressed in green and red robes. Due to the darkness, the rain
and the wind that whipped about at their robes, it was not readily apparent that each of
the figures was standing unnaturally still. So the band gathered in the wooded area by the
quarry and devised a plan of attack.
Most of the group would be using a dimension door spell to appear nearby the apparent
cultists while Alavarius would fly in and Dravos would have to use stealth and his
dimensional hopping ability to get there. Doing their best to time out their plans, the band
began the attack. After appearing behind some boulders at the bottom of the quarry, Nero
was the first to strike. He cast a black tentacles spell and quickly followed it up with a
fireball. To his, and everyone else’s surprise, these attacks completely destroyed what had
appeared to be the cultists, but which now obviously had only been scarecrows dressed in
robes. Suddenly the band realized they had been led into an ambush.

Before anyone else had a chance to do much, a fireball then came out of nowhere and
struck the group. Then Nicholas and Kieranen fell victim to a confusion spell. This was
particularly bad news because both of them had had their fighting abilities greatly enhanced
by magic and either one of them had the potential of killing anyone of their companions
in a matter of seconds. Fortunately, Nicholas was not initially adversely affected by the
confusion spell and he was, for the moment, able to act normally. Kieranen, however,
turned to attack Nicholas, but thanks in part to his cloak of displacement, which rarely
ever seemed to be of much benefit, Kieranen was unable to hit Nicholas. A vampiric mist
however, appeared at about that time and attacked Kieranen, draining some of his health
in the process. Then several cultists, both the Blood of Vecna and the Fingers of Vecna,
emerged from behind some nearby rocks and charged at the band, as Nero was hit by a
dispel magic spell which took down some of his magic.
The situation for the band at this point did not look good. But just as suddenly as
the cultists attacked, the tide of the battle then turned against them. Nero pivoted and
launched in rapid succession, two very powerful fireballs in the general vicinity of where he
believed the two attacking wizards, or Teeth of Vecna to be, and struck with both, killing
both of the wizards in one blow. Then Alavarius cast a spell and removed the confusion
spell on both Nicholas and Kieranen, insuring that they would not cause any harm to their
companions. The vampiric mist was then easily destroyed. And the Blood and Fingers
of Vecna, proved, once again, to be no match against the Righteous Vanguard in their
magically enhanced state. They too were quickly cut down soon afterwards.
Somewhere else however, there was another spellcaster, the one who had cast the dispel
magic spell. Apparently this spellcaster was a cleric of some sort, for it cast a flamestrike
spell on the band. Then, when the band made every effort to locate this hidden spellcaster,
they could not find it. Eventually it became evident that this spellcaster must have fled the
scene once it realized that there was no hope of winning the battle.
The Blood of Vecna, however, fought to the last man, until the only man left standing
was captured and taken alive.

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