Enter the Warlocks

(Very loosely based on Barnacus: a City in Peril from Dragon magazine #80, written by Francois Nantel)

Summary
After defeating the orcs and searching the dungeons, the party returns to Lord Rainon for their rewards. They decide to continue traveling North and come to the city of Aldbridge where they can buy some better equipment. Along the way, Raidne realizes the spear she got from the orc skeletons is always hot around elves. When they arrive in town, Anna gets some spell components and casts Identify on the cloak, sword and the spear. The spear is evil, meant to kill elves, so they destroy it. Giovane goes shopping for better axes and finds a shop run by the dwarven smith, Rorrin. He has a selection of high quality and fancy axes from hand axes to an ornate greataxe, but Giovane settles for a battle axe. He is looking for armor also and Rorrin recommends a fellow dwarf down the street. That smith has fine armor,but more than Giovane can afford, but he is out of shields. He reluctantly recommends a competitor down the road. Hudora really wants a spyglass, but she can't afford the price of a new one, so she contacts the local Thieves' Guild for a reference to a fence. She still can't afford one, but the fence offers her a deal. He will give her a 200 gold piece discount if she can help them out with a problem. Someone has moved into a section of the city's catacombs and blocked off an area. Thieves sent to investigate haven't returned. If Hudora and her friends can help, he will sell her the spyglass for her offered price. Meanwhile, Pancho has gone to find a tailor and order a new court worthy outfit. While he is being measured, the tailor gossips that people have been disappearing at night, there's concerns it could be an evil church kidnapping people for sacrificial victims or slavers. Raidne looks for some spell components and buys materials to craft a focus wand.
Hudora returns to the inn and pitches the job for the thieves, Harper is not interested in helping criminals. But, Pancho returns with his story about missing people and the possibility of slavers or Liartians gets Harper involved. Anna returns from buying spells and material components and agrees. The party heads to the area where the thieves said they were having problems and Raidne shapeshifts into a rat and goes exploring the sewers. But near the suspected lair, she encounters a monster that looks like a giant, floating brain with tentacles and a massive parrot's beak. It is hunting rats and such in the tunnels and she flees back to the party. She describes the beast and they think it is a grell.
After some planning, the party decides to use Anna, magically disguised as an older human woman, as bait and the rest of the party will ambush the kidnappers.
They actually get lucky late in the night and three cloaked men try to grab Anna by casting a Charm spell on her. Her elven heritage lets her shake it off, but she pretends to be under their spell and obeys the kidnapper's order to walk up to them. As she approaches, she casts Thunderwave in their faces, knocking them back. The attackers all respond with various spells and cantrips, they are all spellcasters, but possibly wizards, not priests. Two are killed in the battle, but one is captured. They loot the bodies and tie and gag the survivor and escape back to their inn before the town guard arrives. They sneak the bad guy inside with an Invisibility spell. The unconscious prisoner has a necklace that is like a holy symbol, but nothing they know. It looks like a skull breaking free from chains, the chains kind of resemble the horned chain of Liart. Considering the kinds of magic they used, they may be warlocks. Giovane intimidates the prisoner with some magic special effects from Hudora and the prisoner answers some questions, he is a disciple of Tharizdun, who sounds vaguely familiar to Giovane. He spouts some things about his master escaping and rising to power. They knock him out again and turn him over to the innkeeper, claiming he was trying to break into their room. They go back to the tunnels Raidne explored and there is no sign of the monster. Following some tracks, they come to a chamber in the catacombs that has a new, locked door blocking the passage. There is debris scattered around the room and they realize it's bones from animals and people… Two grells come from a side passage and attack the party! One focuses on Giovane, the other on Raidne. The party surrounds the monsters and attacks them from all sides. Giovane is paralyzed, but the armored dwarf is too heavy for the monster to move so it turns to Hudora. Pancho and Raidne kill one while Anna, Hudora and Harper finish the one that attacked Giovane. Searching the monsters' lair, they find the remains of some missing thieves and some treasure, including a fine staff and a gold amulet with a fire opal. Raidne takes the staff and Anna gets the amulet.
After some healing spells, Hudora picks the lock and they move on. Moving through some long tunnels, they hear voices beyond a door and see light coming from underneath it. They hear at least two people talking, but they decide to bypass the room and go around the next turn. Hudora misses a pit trap and falls in, but barely grabs the edge and Harper pulls her up. Alerted by the trap noise, the people in the room begin to move. Giovane kicks in the door, expecting to see a handful of people and instead faces six warriors! He casts Shatter with maximum damage from his storm cleric power and steps back to fight. He kills two outright and wounds their leader. Hudora and Harper try to move ahead, but find another pit trap. Anna comes forward to help and hits the guards with Thunderwave and some Magic Missiles and Pancho follows up with another Thunderwave. Alerted by the battle, four more guards come around the bend beyond the traps. Raidne hits them with a Thunderwave and Harper and Hudora hold them off. Giovane hits their enemies with a another Thunderwave also and finishes the first batch of guards as Hudora, Harper and Raidne finish the second group.
The party is wounded and very tired from being up all night and heavy spell casting. They loot the bodies and decide to retreat to the surface and rest up and explore the rest of the bodies. As they leave, they hear someone coming and hastily retreat. They return to their inn, rest and return to the catacombs after midday. When they get back to the grell chamber, the door has been closed. Anna casts Detect Magic and finds defensive magic on the door and on the floor just past the door. Hudora picks the lock using Mage Hand and touches the area on the floor. A fire Glyph of Warding explodes in the passageway. They retrace their steps to wear they fought the guards; all the bodies are gone. They go around the corner and come to a basement room, steps lead up to a door above them. There is an open door next to them, four large war dogs attack the party. Hudora somersaults onto one to stab it in the back and the party moves forward to fight them. After the dogs are slain, the examine the door. It also has the same spells, but this time the Glyph is thunder. Upstairs is a flophouse, counting the beds equals the number of dead enemies, plus a few more…
The party returns to the catacombs and takes the other branch beyond the grell room. They come to a new, well made door and discuss their plan. Anna detects a couple of moving magic items on the other side, possibly worn by someone. They decide to go with subterfuge and knock boldly on the door. The door is opened by a guard, beyond is a large room with a massive table and many chairs. Seated at the table are two more of the possible warlocks, a couple more guards and a wizard at the head of the table. Spells fliy and swords and axes slash. Giovane kills a guard, then a warlock thenfights the wizard. Raidne kills a guard and fights a warlock. Hudora shoots arrows at the wizard from the hall way, Anna flings spells about. Harper and Pancho fight a guard. The wizard fires a Lightning Bolt through the party, killing one of his own guards and knocking out Harper and Pancho. Hudora and Anna help Giovane finish the wizard and Raidne finishes the last warlock. The party searches the dead and heals Pancho and Harper.
Once they've recovered, the party searches the rest of the complex. They find the bad guy's treasure room and Hudora picks the locks on two chests without setting of their poison gas traps. A couple of cells hold a dead human and a badly tortured dwarf, they heal him and help him. The final room is a dark temple, with a disturbing altar splattered with blood. Wall mu
rals on the side show strange giant monsters trampling a city and zombies with green glowing worms in their eyesockets infecting people by touch. The back wall has a pyramid with light coming from a chamber on tomb and a tall, gaunt humanoid figure with black eyes in the foreground, surrounded by pieces of broken barbed chain. Everyone finds the murals evil and disturbing. Holy water is poured on the altar, Sacred Flame and Firebolt spells are used to scorch and deface the murals. They finish looting and escape, reporting back to the Thieves' Guild. Harper and Giovane go to the local priest of Tyr and tell him what happened. The priest raises a group to go back and investigate. When they arrive, the bodies are all gone and the temple has been completely burned out by divine magic. Harper thinks it was the work of a priest of Simyits, the thieves must have a contact.
After the party returns above, the local priests call Harper and Giovane over for a meeting. They can bring Raidne, but not the others. The local priest explains the cultists worshipped Tharizdun, an evil elder alien god from another universe. Gods can sometimes migrate into new universes by getting enough followers there. All the local gods, good and evil, usually resist such invasions. In Tharizdun's case, it tried to establish worshippers here and take over as the new supreme god of evil. The native evil gods resisted, imprisoned Tharizdun's avatar and set guardians upon it. All the local faiths work to suppress the knowledge of Tharizdun; the more people who know of its existence, even without worship, the stronger the avatar can become. Since Raidne, Harper and Giovane have devoted their souls to local gods, their knowledge cannot help Tharizdun's cause. But they should keep it secret. The head church of Tyr is in eastern Lyonya, the party is asked to carry a message there of what happened in Aldbridge.

Silly Quotes and Smart Remarks
Discussing where in town to go for food
Stacy "We should go to Little Teebra" (Teebra is the halfling nation)
Jim "Isn't 'Little' redundant?"

The tavern is the 'Lusty Dryad'; the sign is a sexy nymph
Jack "I'm not going to judge, but how are their roots?"
Stacy "Does the moss match their leaves?"

Jim does a corny Scottish accent for the dwarf smith
Jim "I'm maintaining Lee's tradition that all dwarves are Scottish"

The bad guys and Anna are hit by Hudora's Sleep Spell
Stacy "Would that be a short rest?"
Jack "It would only be a short rest if it hit me <the dwarf>"

The party casts multiple Thunderwave and a Shatter spell in the same battle
Jack "We should name this party 'Rolling Thunder' "

Sam was reading the book and laughs
Sam "I thought it said 'Defensive Taco; it's 'Defensive Tactics' "
Stacy "You give it to the other side <to eat>, and they're stuck on the toilet"
Jack "It raises your AC, and by that I mean Active Constipation"

Fighting some war dogs
Jack "We should do Thunderwave; dogs are afraid of thunder"
Brittany "Someone get the vacuum!"

The rogue is trying to pick a difficult lock
Brittany "Your name is Hudora; you open doors"

Discussing a simultaneous, side by side group Thunderwave
Jack "The most aggressive barber shop quartet ever"

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