Kholark Sunderstone, Half-Orc Barbarian 5
Dormammu, Half-Elf Warlock 4 (NPC'd for this session)
Jaeger, Human Fighter 5
Mivahl Shimov, Human Fighter 4 (NPC'd for this session)
Flora, Half-Elf Cleric 4
Lasair Lightfoot, Wood Elf Rogue 4
Sylvus Treeshroud, Wood Elf Druid 4
When we last left our heroes, they were faced with a pair of Hill Giant "toll collectors," demanding every coin the party had in order to be allowed to cross the desert. Fooled by Dormammu, the giants agreed to let the party pass. Thirty feet down the road, the party turned around and decimated the giants; Dormammu took a thrown boulder to the chest but other than that the party took little damage and Lasair dealt the finishing blow to both giants with her bow. The cowhide sacks tied to the giants' belts held a LOT of treasure, which the party helped themselves to.
Two days of uneventful travel later, Sylvus accidentally led the party into a nest of vipers - specifically, thirty-foot long serpents with venom-dripping heads at either end of their bodies. No tail, just more venom. Sylvus was envenomed and knocked out almost immediately, and recurved fangs sank into Jaeger's arm as he tried to pull the druid to safety.
Dormammu held back to pepper the snakes with Eldritch Blasts and Flora cast healing spells while the rest of the party raced into combat. The party was in real danger as dose after dose of venom was pumped into everyone in the fight. Lasair's arrows snuffed out two of the vile reptiles, while Kholark crushed the third under repeated blows from his flail.
The rest of the trip to the city of Molekh was uneventful; upon arriving, the party was greeted warmly with a feast of roasted wildebeest in their honor; Kholark and the Khan wound up dueling with roasted haunches, a duel that almost ended in Kholark being knocked unconscious. The following morning, the party were inducted as honorary hobgoblins and granted the right to wear the ironshod boots of the hobgoblins. They were also given a pair of nine-foot-long mammoth tusks as payment for retrieving the enchanted lance known as the Empyreal Vengeance.
Paid and satisfied, the party set out for the Groaning Keep, intent on avenging their past embarassment at the hand of the undead knights that infest the Keep.
Halfway there, with night falling, the party found a green stone ruin, half-buried in the sand. A quick preliminary investigation revealed splashes of long-dried blood and the scattered remains of purple-robed skeletons - one of which had managed to scrawl "Gods forgive us" in blood before dying. Every skull had the same injury, like a seven-pointed star punched out of the bone. The party decided to camp well outside the ruin.
In the morning, the party quickly realized that Dormammu had slipped out of camp during the night. They found him inside the ruin - a ruined temple, they quickly realized - attempting to figure out how to open the altar, claiming to have detected powerful magics within. The party looked uneasily at the skeletons scattered around and at the Kali-like idol behind the altar. The trick to opening the altar was soon found, and inside - an enormous pile of gold and silver coins, assorted jewels...and a small iron casket, like a snuff box, its lid sealed shut with lead. As Dormammu pried at the lid, Lasair took another look around - and noticed the trio of fleshy, barnacle-like things, each the size of a wine butt, hanging from the domed ceiling of the temple. As she watched in horror, one of the barnacles began to dilate open, its contents beginning to slither out with a wet sucking noise.