Thieves & Kings

Episode 32 - Into the Crucible

“Stones and Timbers, Fell and Burned,
But the Secret Stone, Is Yet Unturned.”

https://youtu.be/g0tuwxWAbWA
https://youtu.be/jGUkkF8-3QQ

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Episode 31 - Of the Glittering Assembly

“But spending too much time in the human world does strange things to them. Perhaps it is the amount of iron and technology that is so fatal to their existence. They start to lose themselves, a little at a time, until they are only shadows of their former selves, empty husks covered in glamour to make them look real. Eventually, they simply cease to exist.”

https://youtu.be/bYrD_l3juoU

Synopsis: The adventurers gather after a few days of personal time, and most head to Silvershadow Lake, where they enact the ancient ritual of “The Treaty of the Wildwood”, thus formally announcing Dame Kahli’s tie to The Elder Scroll and the MapN’Dor. They also learn that part of the ancient treaty was not just protection of the lands, but also the protection of a mysterious “Lake House” in the center of Silvershadow Lake. They first hear of the Mortal Instruments, and how these three artifacts must be present to access the halls of this unknown building. Scales meanwhile travels to meet with Palmythra, learning a little of the unknown entity Draylorc, the “Living Shadow”, and something of the ancient feud between dragon and giant. He also learns of his ties to the ancient “Kaura” clan of brassine dragons through his blood.

Returning together once more, the group discusses their options, and decides, that very night, to Teleport to Az-Vassa, clear out the ruins, and spend the night therein, with the intent to travel north and investigate the rumors of a dwarven citadel that might be the lair of this unknown dragon-like creature. They travel there, and in the morning travel north through a desolated land to find Droskar’s Crucible, an ancient dwarven monastery at the foot of Droskar’s Crag. They explore the upper levels of the ruins, fighting a pack of spiders, and meeting an enigmatic Warg, named “Blackpelt”, who warns them of the mines that lay below the ruins, before it vanishes into the night. They camp and prepare themselves to travel under the ground, into the Crucible.

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12th of Kelen, TR 1050 : Green Dagger Farm.

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Ric and Khali team up against the last spider which retreated

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Episode 30 - Remains of the Wyrm

“Dragons and legends…It would have been difficult for any man not to want to fight beside a dragon.”

https://youtu.be/sdOahSHDpUc

Synopsis : Plans are made to scout and then directly assault the orc band encamped in the ruins of Mosswater’s Hall of the Mangai. They discover remains that hint to a smallish dragon operating openly in the region. During the assault, they are first approached and then assisted by a young mithral dragon named Palmythra, who exchanges some words with Scales, before leaving for its own purposes. The adventurers then storm the main hall of the compound, slay the monsters lairing within, and then bring their retainers and cart to spend the night in relative safety. They rebuild their old raft secreted nearby, loot and examine the remains of Caer Wyrmgrave, before returning and travelling back to their home at Green Dagger Farm, where they spend several days in personal tasks and send off a cart of goods to join the Thornkeep caravan headed to Mornhaven.

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6th of Kelen, TR 1050 : Ruined farmhouse south of Mosswater.

The adventurers are disturbed during the night by sounds of roaring and shrieks coming from north of their camp. They wisely try to ignore it and sleep through most of the night and into the morning.

With dawn, they decide to leave the horses, huntsmen and the cart, over-seen by Squire Reina Whiterock at the ruined farm, and travel west of town, along the now familiar path through the forest, to scout and make further plans of the humanoids encamped in the ruins of the town hall. Pushing back through the snow-covered trail, they eventually passed the burned-out ruins of an old manor near the soapstone quarry they were familiar with, and found carnage. Two humanoid birds of medium-size were found, torn apart, and the adventurers recognize them as harpies, foul creatures they had encountered back in the Border Court when they raided the one hag’s lair. These had been slain by something else medium-sized that flew, and the odd burn marks hinted the creature was no ordinary creature; possibly a dragon.

The adventurers talked about options, and Kahli took advantage of the powers of The Elder Scroll, to Summon Fey, and four (4) young Satyrs appeared, led by the gracious Varios the Satyr. The four offered their services to the Princess of Thorns, and she quickly tasked them to assist as archers for the coming plans.

Returning to the ruins of the old inn, “The Wayfarer”, they found things much as they had expected; the previous gnoll corpses and their equipment was long gone, and the site had obviously been pillaged for materials. After a brief discussion, they decided to try and lure a warband to try and whittle their opponents down. The group began making loud noises, and generally creating as much of a cacophony as possible, but after some time, the only response were a couple orcish warhorns from the town center, and eventually a single young goblin/orc whelp who peered from the relative safety of the bridge at the player’s defensive preparations. Rico responded with a stunningly accurate shot that slew the creature with a single arrow.

After some time, the adventurers determined the orcs would not be rousing from the relative safety of their fort during daylight hours, as this was their resting time. The four satyrs were dismissed, and the adventurers decided to move forward and look at assaulting the site directly.

Moving up along the main road leading to the town center, they found the snow-covered commons largely tamped down to grant access to the central well, and the former Hall of the Mangai largely fortified with scavenged stonework and timbers from surrounding buildings. Two towers were obvious, one close to the main entrance, and the other on the opposite corner in the back, and displayed the only real activity. The two side buildings, formerly the Bonding House and Mercantyler’s Guildhouse were very battered and apparently housed the ogres and giant (?), and both were in very poor condition. The central Mangai house was in bad condition, but had been repaired from its decades of abandonment. A large supply (?) wagon lay directly behind the gates.

With “Sweet” taking the scouting lead, the rest of the adventurers quickly followed up, and after gathering at the entrance to the commons, Everyone charged forward, with “Ricochet” trying to stay as hidden as possible in his initial approach. “Scales” chose to fly up using Iceclaw, and after circling the sight, headed directly towards the main compound, intending destroy the supply wagon.

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As he flew towards the compound, out of the corner of his eye, Scales noticed a silver blur rocketing directly towards him, and dropped like a rock directly into the compound, tossing a handful of Alchemist’s Fire flasks. One slipped away from his grasp (a 1!), but the other two hit their marks, as he pulled away suddenly, and recognized the silver blur was a medium-sized dragon, and it was faster than he was. He dropped a Fireball on the merrily blazing wagon, and flattened out his flight near the watchtower.

The silver dragon followed up with a “Good Shot!” in Draconic, and blasted one of the orcs with a stream of silver shards of metal from his mouth, that slew the survivor. He and Scales began exchanging a series of light-hearted comments, as it was now obvious to the dragon that Scales was not a hag intending to aid the orcs.

As the adventurers crossed the commons as quickly as they could, Scales dropped a Fireball onto the closest tower, slaying most of the guards in that location, and then began circling around to observe three ogres emerge from the northern-most building. The earth-shattering roar from the southern building hinted the giant was awake. Kahli began ranging magical flame attacks against the main doors, in an effort to destroy them and let her access the compound. The other adventurers quickly scaled the walls near the tower, easily climbing them to gain access to the cleared and blazing tower itself, overlooking the compound.

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The huge giant revealed himself, by pushing aside the doors, and howling out in Giant to slay the intruders. The ogres made their way to the walls, and began pelting Scales with javelins. The giant revealed itself to be a Cyclops, wearing similar armor of horn disks sewn to a leather coat, but much larger. It wielded a massive club, and began directing attacks to those on the tower, striking a couple times. Sweet charged down the ladder from the tower, and slipped over to the main complex doors.

A small band of orcs from the hall itself stumbled out to swarm Sweet, as did the closest ogre. The other ogres directed more javelins at Scales, but his Shield spell kept him fairly safe. The dragon let fly another stream of breath on the closest ogre, and then began to circle higher, keeping an eye on the fight, but away from the enemies’ javelins. Scales dropped a third Fireball on the far tower, slaying most of the guards on that prominent position.

Sweet threw open the doors and then engaged the group, assisted by spells form both Kahli. The others on the tower began avoiding the reach of the cyclops, and in frustration it hammered away at the tower itself, sending it swinging ominously. The adventurers took the hint, and quickly scaled back down out of the tower and away from the cyclops. The orcs and ogres retreated from the entrance, sealing the doors behind them, and abandoning the cyclops to his own fate.

The cyclops clambered over the walls, and engaged the adventurers directly, but was quickly swarmed and slain from their multiple attacks. The flaming wagon continued to burn, and as the adventurers gathered before the fortified complex, the dragon fluttered down to introduce himself as Palmythra. He commented on the success of the adventurers, using his Tongues ability, and after a short discussion with them, wished them well, and flew away.

There was a quick attempt to push the wagon against the doors of the main hall, but that was soon abandoned, and the adventurers pulled it away and using “Sprout” managed to open the barred main door, while Ricochet slipped around to the back to find the hole their earth elemental had previously smashed open had been covered by rubble and refortified. They gathered near the entrance and threw open the main doors.

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The hall had been strewn with trash, but definite areas had been established. Along the left was the central hearth, with an eating area before it with several tables, chairs and benches and a large plank one built from doors. Behind it in the far corner were a pile of supplies, barrels and chests. Along the right was a stairway leading up, a workstation with various tools and raw materials piled, and behind that was a small armory of crude racks filled with weapons and shields. At the far side was a rubble throne built against the hole from the previous attack.

The orcs and ogres prepared themselves and their javelins, and the leader, a large-sized half-ogre in an impressive great coat of chainmail links called for the intruders to be slain. Combat ensued.

The fight was brutal and very close-quarters, with even Scales pulling out his Sword of Zog to engage in melee combat.Several spells flew about, with even the half-ogre using a scroll at one point to cast a Fireball against the adventurers, but he was largely halted from using his other abilities by the close nature of the fight.

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Eventually, the orcs and ogres were slain, and the room explored. Kahli found a number of orc females and children upstairs in the mess that served as their sleeping quarters, and quickly slew the rest of the tribe, while the other adventurers tried to ignore the slaughter. Scales identified the half-ogre’s shield was magical, and that a chest in the pile of supplies held something else magical as well. Eventually they began tossing corpses on the flaming ruins of the wagon, while Sales went to retrieve the huntsmen and their horses and cart, and bring them all back to the town.

Gathering the collected loot together, they found the chest untrapped and unlocked, and recovered several hundred copper, silver and gold coins, a few bits of gems and the magical shield and a magical silken rope. With the aid of the huntsmen, they eventually cleared the hall of corpses, and settled into the less-gore-streaked portions of the hall to plan for their next actions.

The shield was revealed to be the Iron Shield of the Bloodfist and the silken rope to be a Rope of Climbing. The bracer pulled from the cyclops was a massive affair made of iron, but studded with jet, garnets and other gemstones, and quite valuable. A recovered Potion of Healing was quickly tested and consumed by Kahli to give her some healing. The group discussed options, and decided to find the remnants of the old raft they had built, repair it if possible and then cross over to Caer Wyrmgrave and recover their lost loot. The huntsmen, under Scales and Ricochet’s direction, began gathering supplies form the ruins to help repair or build a new raft, in need. Scales located the old raft on the stone docks north of High Town.

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7th of Kelen : The group spent the day repairing the raft, and making it capable of hauling the adventurers once more. After several hours, the group slipped across to the ruins of Caer Wyrmgrave, and quickly scouted out the castle again. They recovered the tapestries piled in the entrance area, and also chose to recover the large number of scrolls found in both the upper and lower libraries, packing them into several barrels for transport.

The other task they wanted to accomplish, was the destruction of the altar in the cellars, and they gathered their tools, and examined the problem. Eventually, Scales cast Dispel Magic on the gemstone “eyes” of the altar, shattering them, and it became obvious the Unhallowed spell that held the island and cellars in thrall was broken. They then tore apart the blocks of stone, and physically destroyed the altar. Returning above ground, they saw the ominous green glow above the castle was gone, and the oppressive feeling that had gripped the island was also removed.

The group then made several trips across the lake under the direction of Scales, and filled the cart, before sleeping again in the main hall for the night.

8th of Kelen : The trip through the snow was uneventful, though hard going, and the return late in the evening to their home at Green Dagger Farm was a welcome reprieve. The night was a long one, with the adventurers relating their tales of the fight to their folk, and warm ale flowed freely.

9th-10th of Kelen : The group spent a couple days dealing with personal tasks. Kahli spent her time working with her new dire wolf pet, and continuing her language studies. Sweet continued to learn Sylvan from Shadowmist, and spent some time just talking with him about things. Ricochet went over the goods manifest with Sirella and Vesina, discussing needs for the farm with the coming spring. Scales talked with Gurin Rush about his expectations upon return to Mornhaven, and Bresal spent time in Thornkeep looking over the runes found on Dyr’s flesh, making a copy for himself at the Goldenfire ORder Tower, and spending a few hours with some of their members.

On the 10th the caravan left early to rendezvous with the Greenfoot contingent in Thornkeep, including Sirella, four other huntsmen, and their cart laden down with goods. For a couple days, the group spent some more downtime egaged in their own private tasks, and began discussing what their next moves would be once the roads were fully accessible.

Talks about exacting some sort of strike against either Master Thuldrin Kreed or Master Kabran Bloodeye, or both were put forward. It was also decided to engage in the formal ceremony under the terms of The Elder Scroll, and Scales proposed to visit the supposed location of Palmythra’s lair, under the stone bridge between Mosswater and Stonecliff. Plans were in motion…

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Episode 29 - Angel of Light

“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”

Ivan Torrent – Icarus (feat. Julie Elven)

Synopsis : Having dealt with Mother Mischief and her Creeping Hut, the adventurers settle into the snowy edge of the Grand Escarpment, overlooking the Ambarin RIver Valley. Over several days of camping, the adventurers recover several folk from the Forgotten Cages, and bring them back from their imprisonment. Returning home, they continue their work, freeing several more prisoners and a few surprises, before making a trip north to the ruins of Mosswater, where they encounter a small band of unknown humanoids, including orcs (they suspect), ogres and “…one big-big..” identified by Callum. They find a safe place to camp for the night, and discuss their options.

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2nd of Kelen, TR 1050 : Fringes of Silvershadow Forest : A freezing, snowy day greets the adventurers, flush with new-fallen snow. The adventurers stay hunkered in camp, many sleeping in to make up for the disturbance of the previous night. They generally recover, though are somewhat miserable.

Eventually, they gather near the fire, and “Scales” readies his magic to Dispel the magic that has polymorphed the raven they assume is “Old Man” Shadow. After a couple attempts, he succeeds, and the raven changes shape to become the one-winged form of a celestial creature, who stands, his one black wing unfurling to reveal him to be not whom they had anticipated.

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With a sonorous voice, he inquired after the gathered group, looking each of them over with a careful eye. They introduced themselves, not expecting to meet an angel, whereupon he seemed to lose his wary stance, and addressed them all as…

“Children, yes it is I. Elves called me ‘Olórin’, the ‘Old Dreamer’; Dwarves called me ‘Tharkûn’, the ‘Man of the Wand’. It was Men that know me most as the ‘Cottager’, the ‘Rustic’, the ‘Churl’, the ‘Lout’; also the ‘Grayling’, ‘Odd Shadow’, ‘The Eternal’, and ‘Old Man Ash’. None now know me as ‘Incánus’, the name of my birth. You may call me what you like…”.

“Sweet” immediately swept him in an enthusiastic and crushing hug, burying her face in his neck. The group also breathed a sigh of relief, and greeted him with gladness. They had found the man who had raised them.

Gathering about the fire, they began pestering him with questions. He related many things, revealing that he had heard of the Green Dagger Gang involved in some strange occult ritual from contacts of his, and that he felt moved to recover the children he found, whisking them away to safety at Green Dagger Farm, where he let them have a childhood they had not seemed destined to have. He claimed to know little enough about the particulars of the ritual, but gave directions to the “nursery” he had found them in, as being “…just off the Hall of the Seven, in the tunnels under Mornhaven…”. He related that the adventurers were all children in truth, but he suspected they had been “merged with some other sort of beings, vestiges of a foul and near divine nature…”, as the beginning portions of the Green Dagger’s rituals.

Kahli expressed her personal concerns that the rumored “ancient relics” the Green Daggers had been engaged in smuggling were the adventurers themselves as children. It certainly explained why they could not remember much of their early years, and how their forest real memories were of the night Old Man Shadow had taken them from the dungeons they were kept in, and brought them to the Farm. The adventurers expressed a desire to seek out this place, and perhaps learn more of their origins and the purposes to which they had been “created”.

They talked thus for several hours, until as evening drew close, Old Man Shadow He expressed happiness for their efforts in the region, and how they seemed to have things well in hand. He wished they might all continue bringing stability to the MapN’Dor, largely taking over the work he had started so many years ago. He excused himself, saying his long absence required him to investigate matters a little closer, and as soon as he could. He promised to keep in touch, and could likely be contacted through either Tiressia or Sylessi, as they would be the first he would visit. He then changed his shape to the form they were most familiar with, taking up a weather-worn staff from the forest, though he still wore the black leathers he had appeared in. He wished them all well, getting another crushing hug from Sweet, and disappeared into the forest depths.

The group discussed matters a bit, and then returned to the seven caged birds they still had. They went to work, with Scales taking up one of the sparrows, breaking the spell on the cage, and then dispelling the magic that had shape changed its occupant. The creature quickly changed into an attractive young maiden, who was quickly convinced to be unafraid of them all, and took a blanket from Sweet. She identified herself as Unwel, a young girl who had been picking flowers in the meadow near her home, a small farm in the Mornhaven Fields, the large spread of small farms that stretches for many miles before the walls of Mornhaven. She was less than helpful in describing exactly where she had lived, but could identify several minor landmarks, such as a mill and the names of several neighbors.

Next, a songbird was chosen, with Scales breaking the enchantment on another cage before running out of spells. The group gathered back about the fire, raised high against the mounting snow around them, and settled into quiet sleep. All through the night, the howls of wolves could be heard echoing about the forests nearby, but none of them dared approach the adventurers fire.

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3rd of Kelen : The heavy snows of the previous day had lessened into a wet sleet, that continued through the day. The adventurers hunkered closely to their shelter under some fir trees and fire. Eventually, they roused themselves, and taking the dispelled cage up, freed the songbird, and broke the enchantment on it, revealing a noble-looking man in a red robe, with a seemingly wealthy appearance. Extremely well-spoken, he identified himself as Vard the Red, “… a merchant and purveyor of fine goods…”. Explaining he had been waylaid in a side-street of Mornhaven, after a “heated discussion” with three old women about the quality of his goods. After some questioning, he seemed to be fairly honest, but was obviously a smuggler or something similar. He was offered passage back to Mornhaven where he could attempt to reconnect with his contacts and restart his business. Scales, in particular, took an interest in him, discussing financial investment and various market topics, with which both men were quite familiar.

After some time, the group chose another cage, this time holding a crow, and after breaking its protective enchantments, dispelled the magic enspelling its inhabitant, revealing an average-looking man in the worn robes of a mendicant priest, displaying a worn holy symbol of the Bringer of Life Renewed. He described himself as Therik, an itinerant priest, dispensing his mistresses blessings and relics as he traveled about the world.

There was some question as the night progressed, as to Therik’s veracity, particularly as he constantly charmed and flirted with the young maiden Unwel. “Ricochet” gathered the young man up under the premise of gathering more wood, something which several members tried to disprove, but Ric’s history in working with the farmers and huntsmen of Green Dagger Farm was above reproach, so they allowed him, with Kahli following closely after the pair, to keep an eye on Therik.

Ric took him some distance into the woods, and then boldly confronted him on his claims, with Kahli appearing to back up Ric’s interrogation. Kahli demanded he show forth the healing of the Healing Goddess, whereupon Therik called down a LIGHT on the brow of Kahli. Kahli, undaunted, demanded a “real” miracle, whereupon Therik boldly presented his holy symbol of Amalthea and COMMANDED Kahli kneel before the power of his goddess, and accept the miracle, whereupon she dropped to her knees, and Ric whipped out his rapier and demanded the man explain himself. Recognizing he was not being believed as a follower of Amalthea, he finally admitted that he was once a member of that sect, but presently lived a little more “freely”. He was warned away from Unwel, and told to keep to himself, until they made it back to Green Dagger, whereupon he was on his own. If he did anything untoward, his life was forfeit.

Back at camp, Sweet and Scales began explaining just how the world worked, and how Therik was not to be trusted. Her innocent and naive nature became increasingly obvious, and after their discussion, she seemed hammer-struck. Vard spoke with her a little, but the newcomers otherwise were largely quiet for the bulk of the day.

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As night grew close, and the group gathered in the shadows of the early evening under the trees, Sweet detected something moving towards the campsite from deeper in the forest. Informing the group, most readied themselves about the campfire, while Scales and “Sprout” slipped into the woods as carefully as they could. The figure strode through the forest with pride, virtually silent and unheard as a 20’-tall female giant, dressed in worn leathers approached the camp. She nodded at Scales, and then entered the small clearing around their camp, to openly reveal herself.

She asked after the adventurers, inquiring as to their names and purposes in the forest, and after hearing their explanation, introduced herself. She was Gwatholyn, the protector of this forest, and had chosen to reveal herself and determine the adventurer’s purposes, because they seemed like they intended to stay awhile. When asked, she explained that she guarded the region against intrusions into the nearby ruins of Pyrestone, a place that no one was allowed to enter, lest they disturb things best left alone. Although teh adventurers were intrigued by this so-called Pyrestone, they recognized they should leave well enough alone.

None recognized the giant, nor her name, but they assured her their intention to leave the forests the next day, and return home. She acknowledged their promise, and bid them safe journey, quickly vanishing once more into the woodlands, almost without disturbing the trees and ground, and almost without sound. The group had a short discussion regarding this creature, and then settled in for a good night’s rest.

4th of Kelen : The weather refused to let up, with sleet and chill winds drifting through the forest, and everyone was slow to get moving, readying their morning meals of cold rations with disgust. Eventually, the group gathered about Kahli, including their three freed individuals, and she enacted the powers of The Elder Scroll, teleporting the group back outside Mistress Idara’s shrine, returning the group to Thornkeep.

The group headed to Green Forest Inn taking rooms for Unwel and Vard to stay with until the 10th when the caravan would head to Mornhaven. Their expenses were taken care of by the adventurers, with Scales giving Vard an additional 50 gp “investment” and made arrangements to meet with him again when he traveled to Mornhaven, choosing to contact him through the Mangai in Mornhaven, once Vard had re-established himself. Therik was given a few coins and told to make himself scarce.

Bresal returned to the Goldenfire Order to gather the required components to summon Callum again, and left word with Timber, the Order’s scribe regarding his return to the region.

The group then took up their horses once more from the Green Forest’s stable, and headed back to Green Dagger Farm. They travelled through the ill-favored roads, noticing the route to Halted-Stream Camp bore some sledge marks, hinting at work beginning again for the season at the iron mine. The route from the turn-off to their farm was difficult to pass, and somewhat slippery, but they made it back to the farm without incident. They quickly entered the manor hall, and embraced by the warmth and fine smells of cooking stew, as well as the welcome of the nearly twenty or so inhabitants, settled back into the welcoming comfort of their home.

The group was informed that the unknown fey house spirit had been carefully conducting repairs and cleaning efforts on behalf of the inhabitants. Mistress Vesina noted it had done many repairs on the farmers and guards clothing, a task at which it seemed unusually capable. The Wolf Berries had stopped disappearing, and the nightly offerings of wine, cream and other treats had begun to disappear in their stead. The house spirit, whatever it was, seemed happy. No one had seen it, though they had all been careful to try.

After a real (and warm) meal, the group convened out along the path to the Fallen Tower Vaults, near the so-called “Torso Heap”, where they had buried the bandits that had attacked the manor early in their residency. Tamping down a spot near the mound, they brought forth another cage, this time a small nightingale, and breaking the enchantment on the cage, dispelled the magic of the bird, revealing a dark, young man, naked and shivering in the cold. He called the adventurers hags, and after being convinced of their desire to help (and a blanket from Sweet), revealed himself to be Master Dyr Darknight, the long-missing son of a local man. Notably, the adventurers noticed his rough eye patch, and dark tattoos drawn about his body, bearing eldritch symbols that hinted at dark rituals.

Master Dyr revealed he had fallen in the bandit fight in which he was last engaged, and that he had taken his loss of an eye from a crossbow bolt. He next remembered being in a cave somewhere, and that he was tortured and a coven of hags had drawn these symbols on him, before turning him into the bird he was. He had been in his nightingale form for six years. He was led to the mothalla, given some rough clothing and settled in with a warm meal, before the group returned to the torso heap.

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This time, another crow was chosen, and after its enchantments were dispelled, it was revealed to be a Dire Wolf! The monstrous beast immediately began backing away from the group, growling and snarling, before the adventurers closed with it and began beating on it. Kahli called out to subdue the beast, rather than kill it, and so while Sweet slowly charged forward, Ric swiftly slipped behind the beast and cut it off from fleeing, while the rest hammered in on the beast, quickly subduing it.

Several huntsmen were summoned, who exclaimed on the fine fur on the creature, but they were instructed to put away their skinning knives, and to tie the creature up, and deposit it in in the pit formerly holding Frisky and Skuttle. They did so, dropping the unconscious beast into the pit, and securing the top. Kahli suddenly realized she had access to the Animal Friendship spell from The Elder Scroll. Noting it for the future, she suddenly thought about domesticating the beast…

Taking another break, the group gathered again at the mothalla, and talked about their plans. Sprout went to his personal space in the mothalla, and set about summoning Callum once more, who immediately begged for treats. Kahli and Sweet returned to the Vaults, and everyone settled in for the night, and slept well.

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5th of Kelen : Waking in the warmth and comfort of their homes, the adventurers woke early, dealing with armor maintenance and replenishing their supplies from the farm’s stores. By the morning light, they gathered at the torso heap again, and broke the enchantment on the last two cages, as well as breaking the enchantments on their denizens.

The first, was a crow revealed to be a suspicious young man in padded cloth armor and a dark cloak, that the adventurers quickly determined was a pickpocket or something benign, having chosen to pick the wrong pocket. Scales took an interest in him, and talked privately with him for a bit, before returning to the last cage.

The second cage occupant was revealed to be a centaur named Rysal. A tall, noble-seeming creature, he was a knight of the Celestial Paladin, beholden to the local order in Mornhaven, who had been hunting a rumored hag in the woods near the city. The group took him back to the mothalla, and settled him in the stables, where he quickly struck up a conversation with Shadowmist. He was informed of the caravan on the 10th, and asked if he could help take charge over Unwel, which he enthusiastically accepted.

The group then gathered four (4) Huntsmen together, asking them to ready the mothalla’s oxen and the best cart for their planned trip to Mosswater. Supplies were gathered, and the group bundled Dyr Darknight into the cart along with the huntsmen, and they headed out only an hour past sunrise.

The trip to Thornkeep was difficult, but as the group had horses and the oxen plodding through the snow paths, they were able to make the village only a few hours later. They traveled past the Green Forest Inn, dropping off the new former prisoners, GUrion and Rysal, the latter of whom quickly took charge of the young maiden, Unwel. The group then visited Goldenfire Order’s tower, meeting with Iliara Starcloak, and asking her to record the various arcane/divine symbols marked on Dyr’s flesh. After about an hour, they then moved on to visit Darknight Manor, and return the local master’s long-lost son. After a tearful reunion, the group was given warmed cider and offered to stay for a feast, but they declined, as they needed to continue travel on towards Mosswater. The good master understood, but he offered himself and his folk, who were well-armed and prepared against banditry, should the group ask for help in some local matter.

Moving on along the well-traveled path to Sandpoint Logging Camp, they continued onward down the rough, snow-covered path north to Mosswater. The ox set the pace, plodding through the heavy snow of the trail implacably despite the toughness. They passed by Echo Cleft, and after a brief halt, continued on towards Mosswater, reaching the heights over-looking the town early in the evening, as darkness was descending.

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The deepening gloom hid much of the town’s details, and the thick mists that billowed in off Candlemere Lake obscured the coastline. The rise of the cairns stood in contrast from the forests around it, and the Law Rocks stood distinctly above the town. Of note, the green glowing witchlights above the castle continued, and a notable series of fires had been started around the edge of the central town buildings; the very place the adventurers had slain a band of gnolls several months ago.

Hiding the cart, its tired ox, the huntsmen, Kahli and Scales, in the cover of the nearby woodlands, off the trail, Ric, Sweet and Bresal all headed down the woodland path that traveled around the western edge of the Cairns, passing through the unknown burned-out manor behind it, and reached the lower portion of the town, near the soapstone quarry. The old inn that had stood here, once held a dozen gnolls, but their corpses, abandoned by the adventurers where they slew them, were missing, and all their goods had been taken.

Deciding on a plan, they sent Callum off to scout the intruders in the old ruins of the local Mangai Hall, who quickly slipped over the bridge and disappeared for some minutes. After perhaps half an hour, as darkness completely settled on the town, Callum returned, and reported back to Bresal, relating that there were “many, many brutish, smelly creatures”, as well as “some bigguns, and one big-biggun”. Deciding they faced a band of orcs (?), some ogres, and possibly a giant of some sort, the adventurers took their leave of the ruined lower part of town, and returned back through the hidden path to the rest of the group.

The adventurers reported in what they encountered, as well as the missing corpses and equipment, and given the tired nature of their ox and horses, thought about finding a place for the night. Their first choice of Cold Springs was unavailable, given its access was limited to passage through Mosswater. They decided to retreat back a short distance to a ruined farm they had seen along the main road, taking refuge in its remaining walls, and stabling their horses and ox in its ruined barn. Although packed in, the animals wouldn’t wander, and could stay warm together. Although Bresal noticed there were tracks of a large-sized rat, weasel or similar rodent having searched through the location in the last day or so, he doubted it would return any time soon.

The adventurers and huntsmen started a small warming fire for melting snow and keeping the night’s chill and snow away, and settled in for the night as best they might, with one huntsman taking guard service with an adventurer, and checking on the animals through the night, in turn. Night covered the land, and the notorious mists of Mosswater rose thick on the land.

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Episode 28 - In the Bleak Midwinter

“I see at intervals the glance of a curious sort of bird through the close set bars of a cage: a vivid, restless, resolute captive is there; were it but free, it would soar cloud-high.”

https://youtu.be/Ar1AwjUMIcA

Synopsis : Following some downtime during which various personal tasks are fulfilled, the adventurers teleport in quest of their adopted father, Coinneach “Old Man” Shadow. They encounter a massive and devastating treehouse, known as The Creeping Hut, which turns out to hold numerous magically caged birds. Rescuing them, the adventurers soon meet the owner of the Hut, Mother Mischief, and after a quick parlay and combat, come to an agreement to enlist her help in the days to come…

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Interlude - When Worlds Collide

“An Age shall come unto the lands.
Of heartbreak and bloodshed and quickening earth.
The world. loosed of divine embrace.
Crumbles and tumbles while oceans give chase.”

“When magick seems lost and distance grows great.
All the children of Kethira shall share the same fate.
An army of old shall rise up once more.
To blacken the lands with the cold touch of war.”

“The Maiden of Shadows alone in the night.
Shunned by the gods of both darkness and light.
She trembles then bursts at the touch of their hand.
Raining down fire and scorching the land.”

“Let this vision of mine though shared by none.
Save the poison fruit of the Illimitable Tome.
Be kept close at hand and near to the heart.
So that all is not lost when the world falls apart.”

https://youtu.be/E3VImQbeOsY

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Episode 27 - Virtue of the Knife

“The sacrifice is usually chained to the rock. She does not usually dance out to meet her monster.”

https://youtu.be/dpVV9jShEzU

Synopsis : A tale in which the adventurers discover that they might be able to know more about “Old Man” Shadow than they had previously realized, and formulate a plan to potentially free him from his perceived imprisonment. They inform Lady Ivis Blackshield of their recent victory over the northern troll army, and engage in various personal tasks for several days. Eventually they attend the monthly hallmoot, where they met Morahnna, the Gray Witch an envoy from Blackmaw the Black Witch, and after demanding Kahli take fealty under her queen, the so-called Morighu, “Queen of Hags”, they engaged in combat, killing her, her minions and executed the hag captured previously. They then come to an agreement with Lady Ivis in the partitioning of power in the realm, with the “Princess of Thorns” and Baroness Neria Blackshield agreeing to eventually sign a consort agreement, to be written up over the next few weeks. They part on good terms, as they plan for more downtime activities, and fulfilling some personal objectives, before taking a blind journey off into the wilderness in search of their adopted father.

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Episode 26 - Of the Weal and the Woe

“Argoth is the scene of the battle between light and darkness, in which each creature must play their part, for weal or for woe.”

https://youtu.be/Vk0xkd8qs9I

Synopsis : The tale in which the adventurers plan how to deal with their discovery of the Altar of the Earthmaster, and plans for dealing with the frog-folk in the village below Az-Vassa. Deciding to fulfill their offer to help the Scaly Death tribe, they proceed into the village and slay all the frog-folk therein, including a powerful shaman and his frog-demon servant. They find some treasures, but also hints at a darker involvement of the gods they do not fully understand. They return to Green Dagger Farm using the Teleport ability of The Elder Scroll, and begin informing the villagers of nearby Thornkeep of their successes. They learn that the world outside has begun to suffer wars, famines and other strange portents.

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5th of Hammer, TR 1050 : Az-Vassa Troll King’s Chambers : Having successfully barricaded the chamber and taken an unmolested long rest, the adventurers begin to make plans for their next actions. Kahli took rubbings of the images of the Father of the Fields various tasks depicted on the Altar in her book as proof of their discovery.

The adventurers buried the Altar of the Earthmaster under rubble in one corner of the chamber, using a summoned Earth Elemental. Pleased with their efforts, they left the dungeons under Az-Vassa, and proceeded down the peak to the village wreathed in mists and warmth below. Kahli collected the troll king’s skull from the ashes of his corpse, and Sweet sacked it to carry away as proof of their victory.

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As they approach the village from the path leading up into the cold, snowy reaches of the mountain above, they are halted by a group of frog-folk, who demand to know their business. “Sweet” begins a brawl, with “Scales” dropping a newly developed Fireball into the central group slaying almost a third of the gathered frog-folk outright, along with two of their giant frog minions. Combat erupts as the remaining frog-folk close and begin engaging in melee.

From one of the central huts, a grandiose shaman appears, who summons writhing vines and growth to bind and grasp the adventurers, restricting their movement and turning the area around them into difficult terrain. The remaining giant frogs leap into the fray, but Scales drops another Fireball spell into their midst, slaying more and generally causing mayhem in the frog-folk’s ranks. Kahli attempts to Blind the shaman, but it avoids her enchantments with its own powerful will.

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Suddenly the shaman fumbled with its neck and after destroying a talisman it was wearing summoned a reddish frog-demon, with heavily clawed arms. The beast looked about hungrily and was immediately commanded into the fight among the remaining frog-folk. Scales fired a Magic Missile at the shaman, and then using Iceclaw flew up into the air to get a good view of the creature.

The brawl around the adventurers heated up, as the frog demon moved into the fight, targeting Sweet with a series of viscous snaps with its ravenous maw, and its massive clawed arms. The rest dealt with eliminating the frog-folk around them, taking many savage blows from their spears. The shaman and Scales exchanged many spells back and forth, as they tested each others powers and skills. Eventually Scales landed by the entrance, and engaged the shaman in close-quarters spell-casting.

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Eventually the frog-folk and their giant frog minions were defeated, and the adventurers turned their attentions on the red frog-demon, who seemed to resist many of their attacks and spells, and even seemed to regenerate from all but the most devastating of blows dealt to it. The beast got in several savage blows on Sweet, knocking her unconscious. It turned its attentions to “Shiv” and “Ricochet”, and dealt them both a couple serious blows as well.

In the middle of the village, the spell duel between the shaman and Scales had devolved into a brutal virtual knife fight, as the two spell-casters had exhausted most of their abilities and sought desperately to bring the fight to an end. Eventually, using only his simplest cantrips and the shaman using only its spear and bite attacks, the shaman fell.

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Eventually, however, the frog-demon fell under the combined attacks of the adventurers, with “Sprout” using his Chill Touch spell to good effect, and Scales joined in on the slaughter as he turned away from his fallen foe, the shaman. The demon soon turned to smoking ashes before their eyes, sinking into the swamp, Kahli healed Sweet.

Both Shiv and Sweet remakred on feeling not too well after their encounters with the red frog-demon, and so Kahli touched both, calling upon her divine Healing Touch to Cure Disease on them. Both Sweet and Shiv immediately began hacking and choking, spitting up what might best be described as a larva that was seemingly trying to take root in their guts. Horrified, they thanked Kahli and stepped way from the foul creatures, kicking them into the swamps.

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Sprout and Scales approached the hut of the shaman, and peered inside, finding it a muddy morass of filth, but against the far wall lay a boulder with crude candles on it, and a rough-made cloth banner hanging along the wall. Entering, the pair examined the banner, finding it scrawled with charcoal and blood to depict a weird female figure with snaky arms, a female head bearing three eyes, and three eldritch symbols along the bottom; on the left was an eye surrounded by writhing tentacles; in the center was a black spot with more writhing tentacles, and the last on the right was an eye with three triangles drawn underneath it. None of them was familiar to the adventurers. Careful examination of the space above the head revealed draconic writing, of the word MORIGHU.

The name had meaning, though none could initially remember where they had heard the word, until Sweet remembered the weapon in her possession, Erilyn’s Kiss, and the centerpiece of its construction; the Iron Spike of the Morighu. Unsure of this meaning, Sprout carefully rolled up the banner for further study, while Scales waded into the muddy morass and found a chest buried in the hut. He pulled it out into the sunlight in front of the hut, and called over Shiv.

From the south, the leaders of the Scaly Death tribe began to appear. Sweet displayed the troll skull as proof of their actions, and the lizardfolk elders bowed to the greatness of the adventurers word. They asked what the adventurers might have of them for this great assistance they had given the tribe, and the adventurers then told them to keep an eye on the region, and report back if things should change in the future. The lizardfolk agreed, and began making preparations to leave the village, promising that they could be found on the Lisle of Claws in the middle of Candlemere Lake, should they be needed.

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Determining the chest pulled from the shaman’s quarters was not trapped, and as it lacked a lock, Scales threw it open to see a great gout of green fog explode from within, poisoning him with a magical curse, similar to a Crown of Madness. Seeing everyone around him as great frog demons, he began striking out at everyone. Most everyone backed away, but Sprout was trapped inside the hut, gathering and examining the banner, and immediately came under attack. He avoided the initial assault, and Scales moved on to attack Shiv. Both he and Scales got into another knife-duel, and both went down from attacks; Shiv from Sales attacks, and Scales from unrelenting force blasts from Kahli. Both were quickly healed their injuries, and the poison in Scales system faded away as the group explained what had happened to him.

Inside the chest they found some muddy water, a handful of valuable gemstones, including a large moonstone, and a rusty, battered “farseer” of ancient bronze and crystal, made in an unusual design, but still rather valuable.

The group bade farewell to the departing lizardfolk of the Scaly Death tribe, and once they had drifted off into the warm mists over the lake, the group returned to the long hall they had rested in before, and talked about their next action. They decided to test one of the powers granted by The Elder Scroll, and gathering closely around Kahli, they went into the nearby woods and she touched a vine-covered tree, summoning the powers of the scroll in her arms.

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Suddenly the group was standing in the area before the doors of the mothalla at Green Dagger Farm, suddenly finding themselves with lightly blowing snow all about them, and the cold of the season filling the air that had been so warm and wet. The frost immediately froze across their belongings, and they quickly threw open the doors to the mothalla and announced their return to their own people. The warm smells of baked bread and familiar sights of home, nearly overwhelmed the exhausted adventurers.

The folk of Green Dagger crowded about, taking their coats and preparing places and warm furs about the central hearth, bringing them hot tea and warm bread and broth, while those working outside were welcomed in to hear the adventurer’s tales. Amid ale and eventually a hearty meal of stew and dried wolf berries, their expedition was related. In return, they heard about wars to the north, as the town of Starfall had been attacked in the western reaches of the Barony of Archenshield by an overwhelming horde of Tauri and their orc and minotaur minions. Princess Adrianna Warduke had called out the northern militias, and various mercenary bands, including the famous Grey Feathers had been summoned to join the war.

After news and a good rest, the group parted to their own quarters for a nice long sleep.

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6th of Hammer : The group met again for a late lunch the next day, and decided to make a trip to Thornkeep to deal with various issues, and see about what else might have been occurring in the world at large. Gathering their horses, the group headed back into the teeth of the cold winter weather, making the several hour trip back to Thornkeep without incident.

The town was abuzz with rumors of the events of the recent Bells of Fate incident, as it seemed everyone had heard the strange tolling bell sounds that had echoed with the dawning of the new year. The group split-up and began visiting various merchants and on private tasks, such as replacing Sprout’s and Ricochet’s armor, and resupplying their stocks of healing potions.

Sprout visited with Iliara Starcloak at the tower of the Goldenfire Order, reporting on his expedition in the north, and learning that a new cult, calling itself the “Cult of the Tolling Bell” had appeared in Mornhaven, extolling the end of the world. Another group, calling themselves “Doomsayers”, were often found in the markets, wearing a whorling symbol of chaos, and promising the doom of all creatures. Sprout also engaged the Order to conduct some research for him regarding anything they might find about Mother Nanns Iceclaws, giving them a few coins for their time.

Sweet reported in to Sword Brother Eldrast, relating her expedition north, which he seemed to take as very important. The key aspects of their adventures were recorded by Acolyte Taronnel on parchment, and in a solemn ritual was sealed by her own blood and burned on the hearth of the shrine.

The rest of the group met with Mistress Idara, informing her of their recovery and hiding of the Altar of the Earthmaster. Kahli presented her rubbings as proof of their discovery, and the group proposed that the church plan for a recovery expedition. With one of the rubbings as proof for the Arch-Druid, she said she would bring it to the attention of her superiors as quickly as she could. The adventurers examined her collection of relics, contemplating if they wished to purchase any of them while Ric donated 500 sp to her orphanage.

The group met again at the inn for a quick ale and to catch up, and then made the trip up to the castle to inform Lady Ivis Blackshield and Baroness Neria Blackshield of the end of the troll threat. But who knows what else they might encounter…

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Episode 25 - Checkmate

“People die from checkmate…, they run and run they are always the figure king, they run and run one of their paths once it’s blocked they run and run keep it again a path is blocked they run in this place again and again…. with the time the path goes small and small one moment you have one path and then another figure comes and it has been blocked by it… so you are killed by this you can’t protect yourself. It’s the best attack ever made, it’s called Checkmate!”

https://youtu.be/49tpIMDy9BE

Synopsis : A tale in which the adventurers push one last time in an effort to destroy King Hargulka and his adviser Mother Nanns Iceclaws. Their first assault slays the hag and several of the trolls, and after retreating into the lower passages under Az-Vassa for a short rest, they return and complete the task at great cost of resources, and by turning the enemy’s own weapons against them. Victorious, they retrieve many great relics, and Dame Kahli of Whiterock takes claim over The Elder Scroll, and with it, the MapN’Dor, with the support of her companions.

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4th of Hammer, TR 1050 : Az-Vassa Barbican : The group continued their plans for assaulting the giants in their final hold-out in King Hargulka’s throne room. “Sweet” taught Kahli the word for “Approach” in Giant, so she could better apply a Command spell on the hag or the trolls. The plan was to engage them in personal combat in the tight confines of the tunnel, where the adventurers could apply themselves against hopefully a single troll at a time.

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They approached the “watchpoint” carefully, spotting the usual ice troll with his chained winter wolf. The group moved into the chamber and began firing bows and spells against the pair, while the wolf howled warning. Then Kahli cast Command, and the troll suddenly became slack-jawed succumbing to her spell, while the wolf called after the troll in giant, warning against his approach. Nonetheless, the troll moved forward, dropping the chain and the wolf took off running back towards the throne room, howling as it fled wounded from the corridor. The troll, virtually helpless, was ruthlessly cut down and its body set on fire, as the adventurers quickly moved forward.

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Advancing down the wide corridor, the adventurers tried to lure the trolls forward, but only a pair came into the light around the corner, the rest held back.

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From the troll king came another of the flaming jewels, exploding in a gout of orange flame as a fireball. Everyone reeled from the explosion, and “Sprout” was knocked unconscious from the blast. Quickly learning of the uselessness of attacking Sweet, the trolls would step up to her, reaching around her attack the closest foes with their ice axes, which proved vicious and caused cold damage.

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“Scales” slipped forward, and cast Crown of Madness, on both the troll king and his companion winter wolf, succeeding on both, and forestalling further fireballs for the time being. One of the lead trolls went down under a barrage of arrows, force and fire spells. The king and his companion wolf exchanged blows, howling and savagely attacking each other.

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The other winter wolf was released and strode forward, breathing on the front ranks with its icy breath. And then the frost witch appeared in the corridor behind them, with a companion ice troll who charged forward to attack. Mother Nanns once more sent a Hold Person Kahli’s way, but once more she shook the effects off quickly.

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The hag then dropped an Ice Storm directly into the corridor, buffeting the adventurers and filling it with deep, bone-chilling death. Sprout was once more brought nearly to death’s door, as he fell unconscious from the assault once more.

Recognizing the party was in grave danger, Scales pulled his iron door patch from the Robe of the Hag, and stepping forward, affixed it facing outward into the throne room, threw the bolt and effectively sealed the corridor from further pressure against the adventurers. From the iron door sealing the throne chamber, muffled shouts could be heard, as the king directed his remaining trolls on how to open the iron door using something called “leverage”.

The group began downing potions to summon some healing, and Scales concentrated a double-attack of Chromatic Orb against the remaining ice troll and the hag. Sweet took up position as the wall once more, and defended against several brutal attacks by the troll, “Ricochet” fumbled with Sprout’s belongings, digging out one of his potions, and roused his companion, while the group continued to assault the lone troll. “Shiv” got off a lucky critical shot and the ice troll collapsed.

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Mother Nanns, recognizing the imminent danger began retreating, firing a shot of icy frost from her staff, while Scales responded with a Magic Missile barrage. As she retreated, Kahli cut her retreat off, while the rest of the group piled in behind, determined to make certain she could not escape. As she seemed intent on mounting her staff like a broom and fleeing, she was cut down by another Magic Missile barrage from Scales, she turned into a sudden block of Hag-shaped ice, and shattered into a thousand splinters of blue ice. From behind came the muffled thumps from the trolls efforts to remove the iron door.

The group slipped away from the chamber, Scales snatching up Nanns staff, while Sprout grabbed a bone ring he found in the wreckage, and they returned to the crossroads passage, figuring they had about a minute or two before the door would be removed. Examining the larder closer, since Nanns and the troll had come from this chamber, they used Shiv’s Wand of Secrets, and exposed that the bear corpse hid a secret cavity, capable of holding a large-sized creature, though the cavity beyond was filled with frozen viscera. Scales hopped in and quickly recovered a gore-covered chest, mindless of the filth and disease the hidden chamber hinted at.

The group quickly retreated back down past the Barbican, choosing to hide in the lower tunnels leading to the Deep Way, reasoning that the cramped access wold give them some advantage if the trolls pursued. Kahli cast a Remove Disease on Scales, ensuring nothing bad happened to him from his excursion.

The group then made their way into the lower passage, moving through the long stair, and took up a short rest in the corridor. Scales identified the staff as Iceclaw, and Sprout identified the ring as Nann’s Bone Ring. Unaware of the Curse attributed to the ring, the two chose to attune to both items, though Sprout alarmingly discovered the curse of the hag’s ring, as it snapped shut, grafting itself to his finger. They found the trunk held various sacks filled with powder, jars filled with liquid, a scattering of gold coins, and a leather-wrapped tiny package. Opening the package, they recovered the Heartripper Blade, which Rico claimed.

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After this second short rest, the group decided to bring an end to the remaining trolls, having weakened them appreciably, with the death of their hag adviser. They made their way up the stairs, through the Barbican, and approached the barracks/workshop, finding it lacking guards this time. They proceeded into the corridor approach the troll’s throne room, with Sprout assuming the image of Mother Nanns. He slipped down the corridor, and in the shadows hoped the trolls wouldn’t notice his change of clothing, but entered the cave and silently waved to the closest ice troll to follow him/her.

It seemed to work, with the troll following into the corridor, until it noticed the adventurers and howled an attack, charging down after “Mother Nanns”. The other trolls and winter wolf quickly charged forward, bellowing for Mother Nanns, who of course, would not help them this time.

A confused brawl erupted in the crossroads, with the trolls rending into the adventurers with a fury not seen before, the first couple trolls went down in a typical barrage of fire, force and arrows, when the winter wolf got in a gout of frosty breath, and the troll king refused to throw more fireballs, finally using his gnashing maw and heavy hammer to vicious effect. While the king pushed his way into the crossroads, the winter wolf bore Sweet to the ground with a vicious bite, and forced Rico to retreat, as he called encouraged Sweet to better actions.

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Sprout spotted the glittering gold necklace about the troll king’s neck, and using his deft abilities, critically managed to slip the necklace from off the king’s neck, and bring it to himself via Mage Hand. Necklace in hand (literally), Sprout placed it about his own neck as the group cheered his success. The party managed several hard shots on both the king and the wolf, eventually killing the wolf to the angry howls of King Hargulka, who started shouting to “Mother Nanns” to help them. “She” responded by throwing a glittering fireball into their midst, with Sweet taking the brunt of the explosion.

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The trolls cried for their “Mother” to help them, but she ignored their cries, and tossed yet another of the decreasingly few jewels, again striking directly into their midst, killing the last troll minion, and severely wounding the king, who eventually fell under the barrage of fire, force and arrows. “Ashes, ashes, they all fall down…”.

Kahli grabbed up the massive maul used by the king, finding it to be Trollhammer, while Sprout laid claim to his own stolen treasure, Hargulka’s Necklace. The group advanced into the throne room, finding a handful of frog-folk cowering in the corner, which they quickly defeated. The adventurers began tearing it apart the room, while Shiv and Scales worked on the Altar of the Earthmaster, opening the gold altar’s cunningly locked lid to reveal it was filled with rocks and earth. Scales and Kahli started digging through the box, while the party uncovered another trunk hidden in the king;s “bed”. opening the trunk they found a collection of coins, jewels and valuable relics; the treasure of the ice trolls.

Eventually the adventurers pulled from the depths of the golden altar, The Elder Scroll. They had found the relic that an entire barony had died for. A discussion began as to what to do with it and the Scroll, eventually with the adventurers choosing to support Kahli on her possession. The adventurers then made the remnants of the destroyed iron door into a makeshift barricade, and settled in for a well-deserved long rest. After this, they attuned to their respective items after another short rest, and discussed how they might proceed from here, including how to recover a gold-plated stone box weighing 2500-lbs.

The adventurers also learned about the real powers of the Scroll, and just how deep they had dug themselves. As thieves and kings.

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Episode 24 - The Trouble With Trolls

“There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.”

https://youtu.be/r__Dk4oWGJQ

Synopsis : A tale in which the adventurers push deeper into the troll lair, find a passage leading to the Deep Way and an unknown force of dark elves. The adventurers return to slay one of the troll king Hargulka’s own sons in a raid, but face the fury of Mother Nanns Iceclaws “Mother of Trolls” as she reveals herself to be a powerful frost hag. After several hours of detente, and a quick scouting session, the adventurers move to make a final assault on the trolls in their throne room.

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4th of Hammer, TR 1050 : Az-Vassa Barbican : The adventurers re-examine the passages and connected rooms of the ruined tower’s barbican, as the sounds of the trolls and their winter wolf allies recedes in the distance. After ensuring the group is in relatively good condition, Rico began exploring the stairs leading down where the large fish and green globs of goo were lying frozen.

The stairs circled down for many hundred feet, eventually opening into a narrow 5’-wide passage leading off into the darkness at a sharp descent. The walls here were roughly carved and bore the claws of countless trolls, hinting on their travelling this passage from time to time, even though it obviously meant they did so with great discomfort. Eventually it opened into a rougher 10’-wide passage roughly carved and continuing off into the distance, pushing ever deeper. Rico noted this, and surmising it might lead to the Deep Way, retreated back up the passage to reunite with his companions.

The group advances into the next few chambers, with “Ricochet” taking the lead, his Cloak of Elvenkind guarding against casual inspection. Down the stairs they find a hall with a long, central stone table, and its once decorative walls slashed with troll claws to deface their art. Filth lies strewn across the chamber, and a headless humanoid corpse rests on the table, clawed and chewed upon by large trollish fangs. Two large carved arches to the right and left lead from the chamber.

Inspecting the right chamber, they find it leads to a smaller carved room with three rough black iron chains bolted to the far wall, and the floor covered in bones, half-eaten rotting meat, and foul-smelling dung. Carvings on the walls show images of large dogs chained and held by large stunted figures. Assuming this accounts for the three winter wolves they had encountered, the group moved on.

Down the passage to the left they found a similarly sized chamber as the kennels, but iwith stacked barrels, boxes and loose goods stacked 20’-high to the ceiling and filling the entire left side. On the right was a heavy iron shelf stacked with bags and pottery jars of a fragile nature. A gaping hole was carved into the passage beyond, revealing a roughly ten-foot round tunnel leading off into the darkness.

Quickly examining the supplies, they found many typically mundane goods, such as one might gather in a castle storeroom; pickled meats and vegetables, bolts of simple cloth, ironmongery and other household goods, and sacks of grain and dried beans. There seemed to be enough goods here to supply a small army, or fill several wagons.

Moving on into the tunnel, it quickly turned right, and meandered a ways until it reached a cross-roads. The passage continued on straight, or turned and angled right away into a large club-shaped chamber. To the left lay a 20’-across pit, filled with brackish, though potable water. Rico and _“Sprout” examined the cave for tracks, finding both used, though the one to the right was far more commonly travelled.

Kahli and Rico examined the pit, testing the water and seeing if there was a large outlet, noting that water melting from the caverns collected here, but did not seem to be filled with the filth of the trolls. It was cold and somewhat cloudy, but drinkable (for a troll).

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Rico then chose the more-travelled route, and crept ahead, peering into the chamber to find a wide cavern strewn with a half-dozen odorous piles of leaves, branches and uncured hides. A large stone shelf was carved along the left wall, with several barrels and tools strewn across it, and four (4) Ice Trolls clustered about it shushing each other, each dressed in thick hide armor and grasping a battleaxe made of wood and pure, smoldering ice. Another stood in a passage across the chamber, sitting with a winter wolf, who sniffed the air and howled, sensing Rico’s presence. The adventurers all began to hurry into teh chamber as combat ensued.

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“Shiv” began by firing his bow at the closest, and while “Sweet” called encouragement, Kahli fired two green flaming bolts of energy into the same target. “Scales” lobbed a pair of Chromatic Orbs, striking the far troll with flaming magic, while the flames struck its winter wolf companion behind him as well.

The wolf charged forward, and breathed a freezing cone of cold air across Sweet, but couldn’t strike all the adventurers. Two trolls charged into Sweet, who went purely defensive, and their strikes wildly struck and missed her, gnashing with teeth, claw and ice axe attacks. The wounded trolls and winter wolf fled the chamber, as an ear-splitting howl rolled through the caverns, coming from back behind them. As the group began to pull back to the throat of the chamber to better defend themselves, a whirling blast of ice chunks and freezing wind exploded in the center of the group, and a howling white witch appeared from the distant tunnel into which the trolls had retreated. Callum disappeared in the onslaught, his physical form slain with a sharp yelp.

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The group pulled back further, flinging arrows and spells against the new threat, but were mostly ineffective. Down the earlier passage they had ignored, came charging the largest, foulest troll they had yet seen; this time with two heads, wearing piecemeal iron and hide armor and iron-clawed hands, howling as it came. Sweet stood her ground taking point in a defensive stance, and the group reorganized themselves, trying to set up a defensive point down one tunnel.

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The other ice trolls pulled back to cover the witch. As the troll charged and began taking ranged fire from the adventurers, a sudden wall of ice grew up from around the edge of the tunnel, and catching Sweet in its sudden growth, blasted her with frost and knocked her back away from the trolls, as it moved to sheet the entire corridor in an icy wall. The large two-headed troll growled and howled and clawed at the ice wall, but couldn’t push through. The group took this as a sign, and while Sweet downed another Potion of Healing, they retreated back to the Barbican chamber, and discussed what they had encountered.

Recognizing this group of trolls were led by yet another witch, this one with some degree of knowledge and skill, the group were reluctant to retreat knowing she had used powerful magic to attack the party and save her large champion from almost certain doom at the adventurer’s hands. They considered themselves still quite capable, so instead, chose to see if the deep passage Rico had uncovered earlier led in a round-about fashion into the chambers beyond where they had encountered the witch and her trolls, and retreated from the chamber into this deeper, winding passage.

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The passage went for some distance, eventually reaching the 10’-wide passage noted earlier by Rico, and they followed along it for some hours, recognizing they had entered, once more, a minor passage of the Deep Way, as suspected.

Eventually it opened into a wider cavern some mile or so beneath the crust of the earth; to the left a long black stone wall ran across the entire cavern, some 120’-long and 30’-high, with large iron spikes jutting from the parapets. A complex-looking gate was positioned in the exact center of the wall, and humanoid figures could be seen walking along the top of the wall. The cavern before the wall was empty of most debris, and scorched in places, hinting at fights in the distant past. A feeling of great immensity could be sensed beyond the gate and wall.

To the right, however, about 50’ along the wall another, wider opening yawned, leading deep under the earth, and hinting at the continuation of this ancient underdark trade passage. Taking care, the group slipped from their passage, and along the right-hand wall, before slipping into the new passage. Kahli noted that it appeared several of the figures had seen the passage of the adventurers, but raised no alarms, simply watching them quietly pass. They continued along this larger passage for about an hour, before camping and taking a much needed short rest, while they discussed their options.

They were obviously somewhere along the Deep Way, with what appeared to be Drow guarding something nearby. Knowing little to nothing about what lay ahead, they were loath to continue, and they still had a chance to keep the pressure on the trolls and their frost hag leader. While they discussed these matters, a pair of gnolls appeared at the edge of their light, carrying a single, battered chest between them. Both sides stared at each other for a few minutes, the gnolls croaking out something in their guttural tongue that no one could understand. Eventually, the two gnolls approached the party along the edge of the tunnel, keeping an eye on them as the adventurers watched them pass, and once they were beyond their light, the pair began loping off down the corridor with the chest grasped between them.

Eventually the adventurers broke their short camp, and turned back the way they came, reaching the entrance to the large cave and its fort, before slipping back down the corridor from before and hurrying back up from the depths for several hours, returning to the tower Barbican. They used Shiv’s Wand of Secrets in the long hall with the corpse to see if there was a hidden passage somewhere nearby, but found nothing. The group decided to investigate where the single large two-headed troll came from, and carefully moving back into the troll caves they reached the crossroads by the pool without incident.

Rico slipped ahead, and he proceeded down the long corridor, this time carefully avoiding getting anyone’s attention that might be guarding in the troll’s chamber they had recently fought in. He made his way down the long passage without incident, and about a minute later entered another large, roughly-shaped cavern. 30’-high, this cavern was partially natural, with long stalactites dripping from their frosty tips. Gnawed bones littered the floor, while the northern portion held a wide section cleared of debris and painted in gore and filth like a mage’s teleportation circle, with hundreds of animal and humanoid heads arranged in patterns around it. From a niche in the far right corner, out of sight from casual entrants, was a filthy troll nest, with the large, two-headed troll sitting and muttering to itself in giant.

Rico retreated, and reported his findings, and the group decided to try and lure the monster back into open combat. Scales volunteered, and crept back up the passage Rico had recently taken, seeing things much as had Rico. He then shot a Firebolt at the troll, missing, but getting its attention, and sprinted back down the passage, with a snarling, slavering troll charging down after him.

(DMs Note : The following series of events weren’t recorded well by the DM, so they’re a little muddled. Just roll with it.).

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As Scales retreated down the corridor, Kahli set up a globe of darkness, covering the approaches from deeper in the troll lair, something she could see through perfectly well and waited patiently for her companions to spring their trap.

The adventurers allowed the troll monstrous two-headed to close, laying in flame, arrow and many other attacks, hurting it and forcing it to retreat back down the corridor, screaming “Mother Nanns, Helpes Us!” in fairly articulate Giant. As it retreated, the adventurers pursued, following it and cornering it in its cavern lair. They quickly overwhelmed the beast, and slew it with fire and necrotic energy, destroying its corpse down to ash. Nargundi was dead.

The adventurers retreated back down the corridor, when a light, casual sense crossed Kahli’s mind, sharpening to a hard icy spike, telling her to surrender. She refused the Hold Person spell, and glanced about in the darkness, unable to see her attacker, but knowing them to be close.

As Scales and the party returned to the cross-corridor, this time the command was a sweet, icy whisper like a promise, sending shivers up her spine, but again, Kahli refused to listen to the magical spell and started tossing globs of greenish force energy about, looking for her attacker, but unable to sense anything beyond a cold brisk breeze that seemed to float past her. Kahli continued flinging blobs of energy at points she supposed the witch might be hiding beyond her sight, but continued to hit nothing. The witch seemingly moved about like a wind, unseen and unheard.

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Suddenly, a glittering jewel sprung into the heart of party from the darkness, and a gout of flame exploded around the center of the group, knocking down Shiv into unconsciousness and setting everyone else reeling.

Sprout and Scales roused Shiv from the ground with healing spells, and the group set themselves up to search for the frost hag in their midst. Sprout, advancing into the edge of the darkness globe, using his Blindsight ability from Elzid’s Staff, finally sensed the hag hiding just in the edge of the darkness spell and screamed to everyone where she was.

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The witch retreated, but was quickly swarmed by the adventurers who attempted to keep her from retreating. She managed to escape, taking several sharp strikes from the adventurers, but quickly disengaged and vanished into the dark cave once more beyond their immediate range. She disappeared back deeper into the caves, while the group collected themselves together, and retreated back towards the Barbican. In the distance, Mother Nanns could be heard exhorting the trolls and ice wolves to hold their attack, and they returned back to their chambers beyond.

After a quick consultation and more healing magic, Scales suggested a scouting mission using his Potion of Invisibility, and the group approached the caves once more, entering the corridor beyond, where the ice troll and winter wolf had been keeping watch beyond the Barracks/Workroom. With the Lantern of the Deeps and another precious flask of its fuel, they proceeded cautiously forward.

Beyond the watchpost, were two other corridors, one straight ahead that dropped down sharply, and another to the left. Examining the one directly beyond, they found the air of eh chamber beyond was colder, though the stench of decay filled their nostrils. The cave was about 20’-high, and dipped about fifteen feet below the crossraods, with every surface coated in frost and ice. About the wall, stacked like cordwood were corpses, sheathed in icicles and frost. The carcasses included more of the man-sized fish, wolves, deer and globs of the frozen green goo. Along the right were two frozen horses and a massive cave bear corpse. To the south lay a more grizzly sight; headless humanoids, including fish creatures, frog-folk and others.

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Retreating from this horrid chamber, with Sweet handling the lantern around the edge of the tunnel, allowed Scales to slip unseen down into the corridor and chamber that had lain to the left. With the lantern carefully following along behind him, he managed to peer into the chamber and see the ceiling of the cave rose 30’-high overhead. A wagon missing its wheels lay strewn with moldering hides and cloth, with a barrel of water lying next to it. Against the far wall was a crude throne of rough-hewn stones, with a large number of bear skins covering its seat and back. Beside it lay a rotting stump, and before the throne lay the coveted Altar of the Earthmaster.

Between the throne were five ice trolls, sitting in dejection, one with a winter wolf tightly held in an iron collar and chain. On the throne sat King Hargulka, who also held a chain with a winter wolf of his own, this one larger and the size of a horse. As he peered into the chamber, the closest winter wolf began sniffing the air and howling, began to drag its handler towards Scales near the entrance.

Scales retreated quickly and reported back to the group what he had seen. They took position back near the water pool, and waited for the trolls to approach, but after some shouting in giant, they didn’t rouse to attack, and after about an hour of impatience, with Sweet acting as a lure, they retreated back to Nagrundi’s chamber, and looted both his corpse of Nargundi’s Bracers, as well as finding a cache hidden behind a large boulder near the northern wall, that contained a stash of silver and gold coins, along with a large dusty rose gemstone that was later revealed to be the Stone of Protection.

The group then retreated once more to the Barbican, and took a short rest, counting the coins and discovering the primary magical properties of the recovered relics. They decided to take a second short rest, to allow Rico and Scales to attune to the recovered relics, and recharge one of the healing spells into Elzid’s Ring. They discussed their options, and prepared for another assault, this time to deal with the threat of the trolls for good.

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