Thieves & Kings

Episode 41 - The Dark Tower

“So through endless twilights I dreamed and waited, though I knew not what I waited for. Then in the shadowy solitude my longing for light grew so frantic that I could rest no more, and I lifted entreating hands to the single black ruined tower that reached above the forest into the unknown outer sky. And at last I resolved to scale that tower, fall though I might; since it were better to glimpse the sky and perish, than to live without even beholding day.”

https://youtu.be/9a4U_XnojwQ

View
Episode 40 - Paying No Toll

“Most people on the ledge of a tall building were not afraid they’d fall; they were afraid they’d jump."

https://youtu.be/DmKDVvIEhBY

The_Dark_Tower.jpg

001.JPG

002.JPG

Alpha-Omega.png

Merc_Swordsman.jpg

View
Interlude - The Fire Keeper

“The five lords sit their five thrones.
All thanks to thee, most worthy of lords.
Ashen one, with the Lords as thy witness, bend thy knee afore the bonfire’s coiled sword.
And let the Lords’ embers acknowledge thee as their true heir.
A true lord, fit to link the fire.”

https://youtu.be/T_mJUwgwhgQ

View
Episode 39 - Beyond the Meandering Passage

“To travel in silence
by a long and circuitous route,
To brave the arrows of misfortune
and fear neither noose nor fire,
To play the greatest of all games
and win, foregoing no expense
is to mock the vicissitudes of Fate
and gain at last the key
that will unlock the Ninth Gate.”

https://youtu.be/kR2Fo3B5r2c

Synopsis : A tale in which the adventurers travel further into the tunnel dug under Mornhaven, finding an unsealed portion of the Banewarrens. They are attacked by an odd assortment of monsters, defeat one, and chase another pair away. They encounter a surviving paladin of an obscure knightly order of the Lord of all Songs, known as the “Knights of the Chord”, and learn something more of the creatures they fought. After further exploring, they return to the Ghostly Minstrel to report their findings, and are paid a sum, and promised more if they can determine the identity of the group that is seeking to pillage the Banewarrens.

The_Tunnels.jpg

24th of Kelen, TR 1050, Tunnels under the City of Mornhaven : While taking a long rest in the oddly creepy cavern lair of the “Bug-Eyed Monster”, the group hears distant roars and shouts, coming, as best they can determine, from deeper down the tunnels. Completing their rest with no other interruptions, they continue down the tunnels, passing under what they think is the main harbor of Mornhaven above, along a sloping passage recently carved.

Reaching perhaps somewhere under the market, they come to a small packed cavern, with two exits; one to the left and the other continuing forward. After a quick search of the 30′×40′ cavern, they found a leather packsack made for a large humanoid to wear on the floor next to a bunch of crude shovels and picks, sized for small creatures to use.

Inside the pack, they found some sacks of coarse bread, a few dried fruits, and a large quantity of strips of dried meat. In addition, an old lantern, two flasks of lamp oil, an impressive waterskin holding perhaps ten gallons of water, and a handwritten letter in some strange scrawl. Bresal cast Comprehend Languages, and deciphered it as follows;

“Kikanuile
Once you get inside the unsealed portion of the Banewarrens, you will have to find a massive iron door. This is a warded door. It may be trapped, we do not know. It is, however, sealed beyond your capacity to breach. Therefore, you must use the ring to open it – and even that will keep it open for only a moment. On what lies beyond that door, our spells remain silent, except that you will find the Grail within Tremoc Korin. The last charge from the ring will be your key to get back out.
-Yuinithu”

001.JPG

Brass_Dragon_Orb.jpg

Waraith_Prime.jpg

003.JPG

Black_Troll.jpg

005.JPG

006.JPG

Minotaur.png

007.JPG

Lamia.png

008.JPG

009.JPG

010.JPG

Pact_Ring_of_the_Quaan.png

The_Iron_Door.jpg

Kala.png

011.JPG

Knights_of_the_Chord.png

View
Episode 38 - Forgotten Truths

“There’s an old saying about truth setting you free. Don’t buy it. Sometimes the truth slams the cell door shut and throws a thousand bolts.”

https://youtu.be/lzifeTuMijI

Synopsis : A tale in which the adventurers deal with some personal items, investigate the Curio Court, and are hired by an an unknown organization to investigate the mysteries surrounding sealing the Banewarrens. They investigate a possible entry point, encountering a deep tunnel being carved under the city, fight a number of oozes and an Umber Hulk, before taking a rest in its lair.

Town_Manor.jpg

24th of Kelen, Afternoon, TR 1050 : Nethwater Manse, Mornhaven : After visiting with and getting healing from Mistress Alara Dawnmaiden, of the Shining One, several of the adventurers scattered again to work on their private tasks. The group met back once more for the evening feast at the manner.

The_Feast.jpg

The feast itself proved extensive, with servants hired to serve each member of the group personally, and consisted of numerous courses, fine wines and many local delicacies. During the feast, they were encouraged to talk freely and they engaged with Lady Anabledh Nethwater, asking her many questions regarding recent events, particularly the recent Chaos Curse event with the so-called wild sorcerer named Tavran. They also met Kahli’s so-called “Uncle”, Luthais, the crazy-haired, old tinker and toymaker who lived at the clan’s estate.

During the dinner, Kahli shared all that had happened to the group over the last few months, doing so as a grand tale, and performing an elaborate and wondrous story, accompanied by glamours from the other adventurers at times. They also expressed their intent to investigate the so-called “Hall of Seven Gates”, getting directions from Lady Nethwater to visit the Curio Court. The group eventually finished the feast, and went their own ways, retiring for the evening.

Crystal_Street.jpg

23rd of Kelen : The group thanked Lady Nethwater for her hosting them for a couple days, asking her to store their Floatchests for a few days, while they investigated exploring the tunnels and ruins below Mornhaven. The group then made their way to the Adventurer’s Quarter, and descended into the Curio Court. The wonder of the place captured them, and they spent several hours wandering the shops and services available.

Eventually they visited with Mistress Galswinth Jerkin and her Delver’s Union itself, asking about the rumored location of the place where they had been kidnapped from as children, in particular the Hall of Seven Gates. She described how to visit the site, warning them that the Halls were considered the main entrance to the Labyrinth of Ghouls, but for a handful of gold coins, answered several questions regarding the site.

The_Ghostly_Minstrel.png

Their business concluded, the group travelled back into the Curio Court above, taking rooms at the Ghostly Minstrel, while Bresal and Sweet took the time to visit his shop and conduct a number of interviews arranged on his behalf by Lady Nethwater to find a clerk for his shop. He settled on the first, Keltis, a former litigant’s apprentice, to look after his shop and operate largely as the contact for the adventurers as a whole moving forward. The pair then visited their companions at the Ghostly Minstrel.

Lalaith.jpg

Filled with adventurers and a stream of popular and relatively good bards, the place was better than expected. After several hours, they were visited by someone the locals seemed to know fairly well, who identified herself as Lalaith. She described having divined the adventurers, and knowing their involvement in the recent Chaos Curse incident with Tavran, they might be interested in resolving the problem themselves. Intrigued, they agreed, and she explained an often forgotten piece of Mornhaven lore; the city was built on an ancient treasure vault, known as the Banewarrens.

The_Banewarrens.jpg

Lalaith described the Banes as the worst, most nightmarish evils imaginable. Long ago, an unknown figure gathered together countless objects of evil power and buried them away so no one could ever use them. Today, someone has figured out how to possibly access these unique malignant creatures, artifacts, and forces, and may have loosed them upon the world.

She described herself as representing a private faction of the the Shek-Pvar, and she said that her chantry of mages was interested in finding a solution to closing and sealing the Banewarrens again. They wanted the adventurers to do so, offering each 100 gp up front for expenses, and promising an additional 500 gp each should they identify how they were breached, and how to seal the Banewarrens once more.

Lalaith described an abandoned manor in the Dockyards Quarter, in which her divination had determined someone was trying to access the vaults through. They knew very little else, beyond the manor being the starting point for their investigations. She said they could contact her by leaving her name at the Minstrel, in which she was well-known, and departed, giving them their 100 gp seed money.

The group talked a bit, and then retired or went their separate ways once more, agreeing to meet at the Sunset Market in western Mornhaven in the morning.

24th of Kelen : Kahli made a quick trip early in the morning along with Ricochet to Olaf Olafson’s armor smithy, where she intended to pick-up her finally completed Plate Armor of the Thorn Princess. After a fairly long process of final fittings, the armor was given over to her possession, and she strutted her way to the Sunset Market.

Upon arrival, the group slit-up; Ricochet headed down to Southgate Court, where he scrambled up a back alley using his Rope of Climbing to reach the roofs, and followed along the rooftops south to approach the abandoned manor house from the rear and above. Bresal and Scales both altered their shapes to appear as an old human couple, and then shuffled down from Crossmarket Street to approach the residential neighborhood where the manor was built. Sweet and Kahli both sat in the shade of a fairly substantial money-changer’s shop, while Kahli took over the sight and hearing of her familiar Horcrux, who flew over to the manor and slipped in a back window.

Scales_ and Bresal, seemingly tired from their walk, settled onto the well in the unnamed court west of the manor, and observed a shadowy humanoid form relaxing in the shadows of two buildings across the street from the manor. The pair then moved off, and slipping into a side alley, changed back, while Bresal changed into a gnoll. _Scales returned to his fellows a few blocks away, and sitting next to Kahli, cast Clairvoyance (3rd Divination) above the figure, trying to observe the area. Kahli hopped about the interior of the manor’s upper levels, finding the place largely empty and abandoned.

Bresal approached the manor, and sat on the portico before the main door. Scales noticed the figure suddenly stood upright, and seemed to be peering closely at Bresal, like it had noticed something. Bresal also noticed, and quickly stood up and moved away to the south along one of the main streets, though as a residential area, it wasn’t very busy at this time of day. Scales alerted his companions, and Kahli called her familiar to her, and ended her control. The group readied themselves, as Bresal moved quickly away.

Scales noticed the figure step from the shadows, revealing herself to be a half-orc mercenary in heavy plate mail, who pulled out a greatsword from a shoulder sheath, and grasped her hands together, vanishing! Bresal made his way along the residential streets, eventually passing into the Sail Court south of the adventurers, and shape-changed back into his usual persona without notice, and made his way back to adventurers.

Meanwhile, Rico had made his way into the old manor through a top window using his crowbar, and made his way down to the front door. He was soon joined by Horcrux again, whom Kahli used to warn Rico about all that had happened. They talked quickly, and Kahli suggested he acquire a doorknob or bannister knob or something to give to Horcrux, who could then return to the rest of the group, and she could find a tree in the nearby court and Teleport to him, using The Elder Scroll. Rico pried off a bannister end, which Horcrux grasped and returned to Kahli. The group then slipped north to the Sunset Market, and finding a lone tree along one wall, gathered and teleported to the lower grand hall of the manor house.

Immediately inside the manor, by the unlocked doors, Rico found marks on the floor and door frame hinting something large had entered the hall recently, and the tracks led to a wide stairway leading into the cellars, where one corner had been shattered, and an oddly smooth tunnel broke into a sharp descent to the east. The group gathered and slowly made their way down into the depths…

The_Tunnels.jpg

After a long and sharp descent into the rocky depths below the city, they traveled for many hundreds of feet, eventually noticing the tunnel surfaces to be wet in places, and hinting at the fact they might be under the central harbour mouth of the Ambarin River itself. Suddenly, the meandering passage opened to the right, or continued straight. Choosing the right passage they carefully entered, while Horcrux hopped on ahead.

001.JPG

The passage quickly curved back in on itself, and with Kahli in the lead, she stumbled and discovered the earth beneath her feet was a trap, dsiguising a 30’-deep pit with numerous jagged rocks, seemingly purposefully placed.

OchreJelly.png

Tending her own wounds, a shadowy form slithered out of the darkness that she didn’t notice, though the rest of the adventurers opened up on it… an Ochre Jelly!

002.JPG

The adventurers used spell, magical blade and every other weapon they had to quickly defeat the monster, and then helping Kahli up, slipped around the corner of the now open pit, and continued down another meandering passage. This quickly passed a short tunnel that the adventurers realized held a massive boulder hiding a passage to bypass the trap. They realized something smart had set that trap, and that the boulder represented intelligence beyond a simple ooze… there was something else down here.

Passing a carrion pit with a couple half-chewed bodies, they found another side passage, but continued around the corner. Ignoring what seemed like another carrion pit, they proceeded into the next cahmber beyond, with BResal in the lead.

Black_Ooze.jpg

A dark shadowy form slipped from off the back wall, and a Black Pudding crept forward, meeting Rico in combat, though he quickly realized that it splashed acid everywhere, wounding him with every strike he laid into it.

003.JPG

Bresal was suddenly tripped up by another pit ahead of the party, though he nimbly stepped aside, as it crumbled. He turned back and laid in spell attacks on the monster, along with Scales and others.

004.JPG

Sweet was suddenly met by another Ochre Jelly crawling out of the pit, and as the adventurers finished-off the Black Pudding, the wall shivered next to Sweet, opening to reveal itself as another clever boulder-door.

Umber_Hulk.jpg

Moving the boulder to one side, was revealed to be a large insect-like creature, with mandibles and chitin armor, and large claw-like arms and legs. Its green eyes began to glow in an unearthly light, and quickly dominated everyone nearby.

006.JPG

A confusing battle erupted, with the Ochre Jelly lashing out somewhat ineffectively, and the large underdark monster laid into the adventurers close to it, while the group found themselves either staring at the monster, lashing out against random people near them, or just running around with no warning. The only one unaffected, was Kahli, who quickly moved to directly confront the beast, and pushing Sweet out of the way helped finish-off the Ochre Jelly, and then concentrated on hammering with Raven’s Beak into the beast.

While unsure of the exact effect occurring, the group did discover by happenstance that distance gave them some sort of protection, so they stood off from the beast, and laid in spell and ranged attacks against it, while licking their various wounds. It got in a couple grievous wounds on Kahli, but each time the relic powers of the Shield of the Crowngaard played a helpful role.

Finally being worn down by multiple attacks, the beast began to retreat, and as it tried to step away from Kahli she laid in a powerful blow, adding a high-powered smite on top of it, with Raven’s Beak taking on an unusual aspect, appearing as a great black raven’s head, that smote down the beast utterly slaying it (53 Point Critical!).

Silence reigned through the tunnels, and the group slipped through the passage beyond the boulder, into a wide chamber with another obvious exit that seemed to connect back into the meandering passage beyond. This room was made of solid earth and stone like the passage, but something had placed various stones and bones into strange, alien patterns on the walls all about the room.

Raw_Andrecite.png

While the group readied various healing magics, Bresal cast Detect Magic (1st Divination), and swept the nearby room and corridors, finding only a magical presence from a beyond a central pattern in one of the walls. The group dug in a few feet, and uncovered a a feebly glowing stone embedded in the wall. Raw and uncut, Bresal prepared an Identify (1st Divination) spell, and cast it on the stone, revealing it to be something called Andrecite.

The group decided this was as good a spot as any to take a short rest, spending an hour talking to each other and eating some of their rations, while they dealt with their wounds. The group stared at the smoking corpse of the insect-like monster, and wondered what it had been.

View
Episode 37 - Edge of Night

“Life might be black and white to you adventurers, but to us common folk it’s all just shades of grey.”

https://youtu.be/7Zr6g9Sj7u8

Synopsis : In an attempt to recover from long-standing injuries taken during their fight in the Shadowfell against the Gloom Golem, the adventurers journeyed to the City of Bright Sails, making contact with various allies in that city, and meeting with Lady Anabledh Nethwater, Kahli’s sister, who welcomes them all and helps make contact with the the temple of the Shining One. They learn many important facts about local problems in the city, including new gangs of thieves, as well as encountering the actual “Chaos Curse” itself, in the form of an unidentified chaos sorcerer, who is taken into custody.

Shemite_Society.jpg

19th of Kelen, TR 1050 : Green Forest Inn, Thornkeep : The day dawned warm, and foggy, with the snows of winter melting everywhere into slushy mud. After a well-deserved long rest, during which the battered and bruised Bresal has begun to recover from the ordeal of his death, but like several others in the group, he is unable to fully recover from the wounds dealt by the Gloom Golem earlier. The group discussed their options, and decided to return to Green Dagger Farm, recover some of their treasures, and make an expedition to the City of Bright Sails, and seek the blessings of the cult of the Shining One.

Recalling Vesina from the castle, the group traveled back to Green Dagger Farm without event, and returned to their homes, gathering again that evening to make plans and account for their personal wealth. Sirella West had successfully returned, and shared out 200 gp to each member of the adventurer’s group, as their shares from the sale of their tapestries. She told a tale of the so-called “Chaos Curse”, which seemed to be appearing everywhere in the city.

Apparently, the rise of various “chaos cults” was only the beginning; magical explosions of a chaotic nature were erupting all around the city. Random fires, floods and earth tremors; vines covering street cobbles and monsters of various natures appearing from dark alleys to consume travelers, or just destroy random buildings. The adventurers took note.

The group took an accounting of their personal fortunes, recognizing they had more in coin than they could individually carry, or easily pack on a horse. The idea of using the group’s Floatchests was brokered, and Bresal, Sweet, and Scales all chose one from the armory in the Fallen Tower Vaults. Various adventurers packed their coins into sacks to spread among the Floatchests, in preparation for the trip in the morning. Everyone agreed to leave their thousands of accumulated silver coins behind as a sort of “cache” for emergencies, if only because they were so heavy. Various treasures were taken from the vaults as well, in anticipation of the needs to cast the restoration spells, though the bulk of the gems were retained.

Scales approached Garnet “Ironhand”, asking him to craft a private project for himself, to craft a miniature earhorn for a new spell he wanted to use, giving him sufficient raw coins to craft the artifact, but told him to take his time. In addition, the group gave him most of their accumulated Droskari Metal Alloy “Thralls” for a future project.

Green_Dagger_Farm.jpg

The group traveled later in the afternoon, dragging their Floatchests along behind them, and bidding the farm folk farewell for a time. Passing through Thonrkeep, they took a quick detour to visit with Iliara Starcloak at the Goldenfire Order’s tower. Bresal bought a handful of incense to re-summon Callum. He also spoke with her regarding her apprentice Timber, and talked about “The Night”, hinting that the mysterious hag that attacked him had used iliara’s wiles against him, hinting the hag thought the two might be a couple… a thought she had never posited before…

Heading on through the slushy and muddy roads, the group headed south-west out of Thornkeep, passing close by the Briarwarren, and Triumph Quarry, which looked to be slowly beginning to prepare for the new spring season. Following the Road of Claws further, they recognized the ragged nature of the road, more like a trail than a road, as the way had long been avoided with the proximity of the Pit of Chains.

The night drew on, and despite the roads and its poor condition, the adventurers managed to reach the village of Timberstar in the late evening. The travel-weary group made directly for the local inn, the “Boar’s Bones”, finding the place fairly packed with local huntsmen. Settling in, they ordered a round of stew, bread and cheese, with the locally brewed “Pinesap Ale” to wash it all down. They ordered a handful of rooms for the night, and the halflings who operated the inn, made them as comfortable as possible, as the mud dried on their clothing.

Rumors were rife in the inn regarding the events in Mornhaven, and talk was of the return of the timber-wrights in a few days, which would make the village a bustling place once more. There was practically no discussion regarding the plans or activities of Thornkeep, hinting on their long separation from that region due to the nearby goblin tribes.

Timberstar.jpg

21st of Kelen : Warm and foggy once more, the snow continued to melt all day. The adventurers broke their fast on pottage from the inn cauldron, and more “Pinesap Ale”. The place was deserted in the morning, and after preparing their horses, the group headed back out.

The road here proved well-traveled, and well-kept, and the adventurers made good time, despite the muddy conditions. The forests quickly began to thin, with numerous clearings and the mark of the timberwrights everywhere along the trail. After several hours, the group broke from the Smoke Glens into the fields north of Mornhaven, within sight of the small fortress known as “Firehammer Hold”, held by the Grey Feathers, mercenaries often in the employ of the Crown, and led by one of the Lords of Shem, Lord Nimos Firearrow, who held the nearby region on his own merits. The fortress was small, but looked imposing, and surrounding its front gate was a small village and extensive fields.

The group then traveled south-west along the main track leading past well-kept farms, woodlots and pastures of the citizens of the Barony of Seaholme. The farms were the opposite of what they had grown used to in Thornkeep; extensive affairs with large, open fields, rather than the usual garden farms with orchards and a handful of livestock huddled in a worn barn. The wealth of the local baron was impressive, laid-out before them.

Mornhaven_at_Dawn.jpg

They smelled Mornhaven before they saw it as a smudge on the horizon. Salt air and the cry of gulls called to them, replaced by the smell of more than 10,000 souls crammed together in the port city for the winter. The morning fogs in the forests were quickly replaced by a warm, sunny day, wet with melting snow and mud. As they approached the city, the brown pall hanging low over the city, filled with wood smoke and warm air trapped against the higher winds. Travelers became more frequent; carts, horses and herded livestock began to crowd the road, though most folk gave the adventurers and their three floating silvery orbs a wide berth.

Eventually they reached the walls of the city, and curved around to the south-east, passing through the less popular Shadowgate, largely because it was common for travelers to use it rather than the northern gate, due to less caravans and trade passing through it. They reached the village of Shadows, passing through the thorp quickly, and into the city of Mornhaven beyond.

The sights and smells and noise of the city assaulted them; the months of “country living” had done its job well, dulling them to the vibrancy of the of the city life most had once been accustomed to. Everywhere were people, moving about, conducting trade and enjoying the wonders of a warm day after the long winter. Kahli hailed a young lad wielding a lantern on a tall pole, and tossing him a silver, told him to inform the good Lady Nethwater that her sister and her companions were travelling to visit with her tonight.

Trader_s_Court.jpg

Passing by the Woodland, and below the castle that dominated the town, they eventually passed from the Royal Quarter, and into the Crown Court and the bustling Common Market of the Market Quarter. The group discussed their options as they went, noticing the swath they seemed to create in the city streets; their bizarre and wealthy appearances, and three floating silvery orbs suggesting their professions. They agreed to make their way to Kahli’s sister’s manor in the north-west part of the city, Lady Anabledh Nethwater, who would likely accept their stay for a few nights until they could take their bearings of the community and its situation, and move forward in their private plans.

001.JPG

Making their way into the Bridgegate Quarter, south of the Adventurer’s Quarter, they were startled by a sudden explosion in the distance, that caught their attentions. Screams came from the area, and from around the corner came a half-orc mercenary wreathed in flames, who grabbed a soldier form a local band of the Harbour Rats, and the unsuspecting warrior burst into flames himself.. The adventurers quickly moved forward, some dismounting, with Reina gathering their loose reins.

002.JPG

Bresal cast a Sleep spell into the fray, and the burning Harbour Rat promptly crumpled, while the half-orc fled before the adventurers. Sweet approached the half-orc, trying to subdue him, as did a mounted Kahli, while the figure fled back down the street before them. Sweet suddenly burst into flames, but also began to exude a cloud of rust-red vapors, that seemed to poison everyone around her. A hallfling near the half-orc also burst into flames, but Scales cut around through a hole in one wall, and successfully cast Dispel Magic on the man, ending the effect.

While one guard of the group pulled his companion from the chaos of the street, the other two closed on the half-orc mercenary, readying their crossbows. Kahli called for them to hold their fire, as she approached them on horseback.

One man in the streets beyond, who had not tried to flee the scene, suddenly burst into blue lightning, and shot a bolt of energy down a side street from his body, striking one local trying to flee, killing them outright.

003.JPG

Suddenly one woman near the side of the street began to shout and scream, as she floated up off the street. Kahli raced over on her horse, pulled out her rope, and tossed it up to the floating woman.

Sweet heard a figure around the corner from the latest incident, and just caught a figure trying to hide in the shadows of the nearby building, rather than flee outright.

Ricochet ran over to the lightning caster, and pulling the Heartripper Blade as his primary weapon, since he wanted to subdue the man, rather than kill him with Tinderstrike.’s flames. He quickly knocked the man unconscious, and looked around, taking note of the floating woman.

Bresal covered the half-orc’s potential retreat.

004.JPG

The guards closed on the mercenary and both he and the halfling were told to surrender, which they did, allowing Bresal to proceed on through the nearby stable and join his companions.

Ricochet dashed over to the building base below the floating woman, and scampered up the wall swiftly to get to her, while she caught the rope and held onto Rico for dear life.

Sweet and Scales, promptly joined by an exhausted Bresal, engaged in fisticuffs with the strange shadowy individual, which Sweet identified as a dark-skinned elf, one of the legendary drow, indeed! The figure landed solid punches against her, each covered in shimmering magical force, with a look of sheer madness covering its face.

005.JPG

The guards subdued and began tying up both halfling and half-orc in the street, while Reina moved along the street leading the other horses, and examined the downed, unconscious man. The other burned guard seemed to be pout of danger, and his companion followed along behind Reina, keeping watch around them, with his crossbow cocked and ready.

The adventurers managed to finally subdue the mad dark-elf, but he continued to send out waves of magical force against everyone that moved close to him, until her was knocked unconscious, when the magic ceased. The battle seemed over.

The guards began to question everyone, and another hand of troops moved down the street, drawn by the chaos on the streets, eventually listening to the adventurers as they tried to sort out the situation. Sweet took the lead, and began walking them all through the series of events before them, eventually explaining it well enough, that the Harbour Rats welcomed the adventurers help in subduing the unknown sorcerer, and saving many people.

The guards proceeded to “subdue” him further, recognizing that his ability to create chaos was innate as long as he was conscious, breaking his jaw and otherwise silencing him for some time. They bound him, and carried him away as swiftly as they could, to the castle prisons. Bresal gave his name and the address of his shop in the Fish Quarter, should the Harbour Rats have any further questions, allowing the adventurers to continue on their journey.

The group then made their way through the streets, and across the central Bridgeway, paying the nominal toll of a copper piece each to cross the only bridge across the Ambarin River, south of Cultan Ford. Passing north-west along a side street through the neighborhood, they eventually made their way to the north-west wall, and Nethwater Manor, the home of Kahli’s sister.

The group were welcomed, finding servants waiting for them, and they were warmly greeted by Lady Nethwater herself, who explained that quarters in the “guest house” were available for them. Kahli was taken aside, while servants brought the adventurers to a fair-sized house near the stables to the right of the main courtyard of the manor. Within, the adventurers found ample food and wine waiting for them, including private rooms on the second level with simple, but comfortable, furnishings, much like an inn. There was also a small kitchen with a few simple stores, a private chapel dedicated to the Shining One, and a central courtyard. Also, they were offered warm baths.

Kahli and her sister visited the main house, sitting in the study, while wine was brought for them. Once alone, Lady Anabledh confronted her sister, with her usual calm, measured voice, starting with “What have you been up to sister?”. Kahli explained a little about recent issues in Thornkeep, but really sought access to the priests of Nolom to cure her companions who were afflicted by the energy-draining attacks of the Gloom Golem. Lady Anabledh said she would petition the temple on the adventurers behalf, and have them dispatch one of the high priests to resolve the issue at mid-day on the morrow.

Kahli asked after the recent rumors of the so-called “Chaos Curse”, relating what had just happened in the streets, and Lady Anabledh verified the rumors as true; what had begun with these strange chaos cults in the early days of winter, have recently begun to take a nasty turn; deaths, missing persons and worse have begun to appear.

Shiver_Vial.PNG

Also of particular note, she mentioned the rise of a new drug of late, whose effects were very similar to what the adventurers had encountered in Thornkeep, the dreaded Dream Fever, Shiver, an unknown and relatively cheap drug sweeping the poorer quarters of the city, like the Bridgegate and Fish Quarters.

Kahli also requested a messenger be dispatched in the morning to her own holding in Whiterock Manor, which Lady Anabledh agreed to. Further, she offered a feast to honor her sister and her guests the following evening, which Kahli accepted, but admitted they would not stay much longer than that as an imposition on her clan as guests. Reina was told to write a letter to her family for dispatch on the morrow, to which she settled in happily to inform her clan.

Servants took away everyone’s clothing and boots for cleaning and reapirs, leaving them warm robes and comfortable sheep-skin slippers. Everyone settled in for a good, safe night’s rest.

22nd of Kelen : Everyone awoke to a cool, rainy morning, the last vestiges of snow being swept away by the coastal rains, leaving muddy slush in the corners of the buildings. Steaming warm pottage was brought to the adventurers, along with warmed cider and all their clothing and boots cleaned and repaired. Sweet commented on the kindness and comfort afforded one by having servants, and suggested they never leave… Kahli told them that there would be a priest brought by midday, and that a feast was prepared for them all that night, so they should stay at least one more day before sorting out other personal matters. They all agreed, and separated on various personal tasks in the city.

Sarrok_HS.jpg

Sweet headed back out to the village of Shadows, stopping by the shrine in the Royal Quarter, before heading out to thorp. Stopping and talking with the handful of mercenary soldiers at the Stonepost, she found many mercenaries have pulled out of the city, joining the war to the north, at Starfall.

Proceeding into the Shadowgate Inn, she found the high priest of the Gray Slayer holding court as usual, with the veterans of the city sharing their best and favorite war stories. Pulling out her holy symbol of the Gray Slayer, she joined them, listening carefully and then spent several hours among them. Eventually, she introduced herself to Sword Brother Sava, and inquired after training opportunities, finding that the followers gathered at first dawn in the shrine, where they practice and worship; Sweet could join them all at any time.

The rest of her time was spent taking with various members of the inn, discovering that while indeed many mercenaries were involved in the northern skirmishing over Starfall, many more younger, inexperienced mercenaries had been hired by Rikard Coalsilver, who disappeared for a time, before returning with heavy pouches and no tale of their journeys. She then hurried to return to the manor.

Mage_Hall.jpg

Bresal visited his own shop, checking in on matters, then traveled to the town Mangai building, and quickly settled his outstanding taxes on his shop. He then visited the Mage’s Guild of Mornhaven, meeting with a minor journeyman, who answered Bresal’s questions, after he presented his membership in the Goldenfire Order. They explained that he could make a general petition regarding research, magic item sales, or their creation, but whether or not local masters (mavari) chose to assist, the matter was considered a private matter between members of the the Shek-Pvar He too then hurried back to Nethwater Manor.

Camilla_Glamour.png

Scales spent the day trying to make contact with his recent allies, such as Vard Glamour, meeting with Camilla Glamour, his sister, finding her a pleasant person, though somewhat distracted by her brother’s long disappearance. He also checked in with his infochant, Gurin Rush, finding out about the various new gangs in the city, such as the Yellow Knives and the God’s Bones. He then asked Gurin to look into the Dockyards Quarter for himself, and report back.

Nolom_Holy_Symbol.jpg

Eventually, everyone returned to the manor, and at mid-day, and were introduced to Mistress Alara Dawnmaiden, who proceeded to remove the curses attached to the adventurers, succeeding.

With her departure, the group began discussing their next activities, making a few plans before the group met again for the evening feast in their honor.

View
Episode 36 - In the Arms of a Dream

“Good night – may you fall asleep in the arms of a dream, so beautiful, you’ll cry should you awake.”

https://youtu.be/R3X1o3Uz35s

Synopsis : Returning to the Shadowfell via the sputtering, intermittent Shadow Gate in the ruins of the Corruptor’s shrine, the adventurers investigate the odd crypt located in the mirror universe’s location where Applewarden Orchard resides. Delving into its depths, they discover many shadow creatures, and fighting their way through, they are confronted by Eliseera herself. Chasing her away, the group takes a casualty in the form of Bresal, but they return with sufficient treasures to raise him back with a scroll procured from the relics of Mistress Idara. During their expedition, they also discover a bloody shrine dedicated to an unknown, but oddly familiar dark god…

Shemite_Society.jpg

19th of Kelen, TR 1050 : Green Forest Inn, Thornkeep : Following the adventurers first foray into the Shadowfell, the group spent the night at Green Forest Inn, getting in a solid long rest, but discovering that the wounds dealt by the Gloom Golem did not fully heal. They also learn that the caravan has successfully returned from Mornhaven, with only a single sharp skirmish against goblin raiders. Most submit that the recent destruction of the goblin tribe occupying the Pit of Chains may have been the reason for the lack of goblin raiders. There are also rumors of a so-called “Chaos Curse” that is causing odd magical occurrences to erupt all across the city. No one knows its cause or origins.

As rested as they can be, the group re-entered the crypts below the ruins of the Corruptor’s ruins west of town. The sporadic nature of the gate, however, seemed even more chaotic, as though their recent use had destabalized it somewhat. In the Shadowfell they pass north-east across a field of half-dead poisonous plants, and find the “shadow” ruins of Thornkeep to be a haunted, lonely place, with no hint of life in it. They approach the site of Eliseera Applewarden’s Orchard, finding the place another haunted place, hosting skeletal trees like clawed hands surrounding a simple stone crypt.

001.JPG

The initial chamber bore no door. It contained four stone sarcophagi along its walls, all heavily carved with images of death and a recurring jawless skull image bearing a dark starburst as a halo. At the far end, a set of narrow stairs descends into the darker shadows below.

Bresal and Sweet began to examine the sarcophagi to the right, while the others began to descend the stairs. Kahli sent her familiar, Horcrux down into the crypt beyond, finding it to be a long hall with narrow stone pillars sliding off on either side. Beyond the pillars lay long carvings along the walls, each depicting a line of the dead marching towards the far end to await judgement. At the far end stood a 10’-tall stone statue of a death figure with raised hands; the statue glimmered with shards of copper. The figures along the right wall proceed into a shadow gate directly behind the figure, while those along the right are disintegrated near the figure’s left hand. Horcrux also noticed a door concealed among the carvings along the left-hand wall, about half-way down.

Heading into the long hall, Kahli stepped onto the landing below the stairs, and promptly discovered it to be trapped, opening a 5’-square pit, that she fell into, hitting the bottom which was filled with cruel stone spikes. The stone cover slammed shut once more, sealing Kahli within. Scales slipped past the opening, risking another trap, and Ricochet re-triggered the trap, allowing Scales to slam home an iron spike disabling the device enough to drop down a rope. After much pushing and pulling, they managed to get Kahli out of the pit.

Shadow_Spawn.jpeg

Having done what they could to examine the sarcophagi and determining they were ornamental and couldn’t be opened, the group began crossing into the long hall, when suddenly three of the stone boxes swung open, and their denizens, three gray, emaciated women in once beautiful gowns stepped forth; one red, one white and one gold.

002.JPG

A savage brawl erupted, with the group pulling back into the entrance chamber, though they took some harsh attacks, including devastating energy drain attacks that hinted at their relation to Elisteera. Eventually, one by one, they were destroyed, vanishing in a puff of ashes and shadow, until one ran to the unused sarcophagus, and throwing it open, slipped down a narrow tunnel that curved back around to re-enter the long hall. It too was defeated. Each bore various jewelry and notable goods that matched their ruined and worn gowns in style.

003.JPG

Carefully returning to this lower level, the group began to advance, though Bresal and Sweet re-examined the sarcophagi to verify how they opened. Horcrux slipped under the side door, into a small chamber filled with crates, chests and large pottery urns. Another simpler wooden door passed out to the left. Using his eyes, Kahli could see it entered another small chamber, this one containing a large stone sarcophagi laying flat on the ground; a burial tomb for a queen. Runes written in black Umbral challenged the intruders, which Bresal quickly determined to be a warning to “… bow before the tomb of the high priestess of HE WHO KEEPS US…”.

Shadow_Demon.jpg

While Bresal investigated these runes closer, and Scales poked through the apparent burial goods, Sweet, Kahli and Ricochet were investigating the area at the far end of the long hall. Suddenly, as Sweet approached the statue, a horde of shadowy demonic figures, with stout wings and waists trailing into a shadowy nothingness. They swarmed the adventurers, dealing energy-draining and psychic attacks, as they wafted about.

004.JPG

Eventually they grew tired of fighting the heavy warriors, and several cut through the walls to swarm Bresal and Scales, dealing heavy damage, as they were dealt with. Eventually, most were destroyed, disappearing in puffs of shadow and smoke, while the rest retreated into the surface world, and abandoning the crypt.

Waraith_Prime.jpg

Freed from this terror, they re-examined the statue, but failed to find anything else of note about the figure, and turned their attentions to the stone crypt. Kahli and Sweet worked on the ancient thing, eventually managing to shift the corner of the crypt open, though it immediately spewed forth a shadow, insubstantial form that attacked.

006.JPG

The creature randomly started attacking the closest adventurers, and began hunting the limping and severely wounded Bresal, sensing a kill. Suddenly Bresal took an energy-draining hit, and was slain instantly. The rest fought on, with Kahli eventually bringing a solid smite down on the beast, banishing it.

The group then began to talk about what to do. Kahli finished picking through the grave goods, recovering a few odds and ends, as well as finding it mostly adventurers goods and packs, such as rope, spikes and desiccated rations. Sweet and Kahli pried off the stone lid of the sarcophagus, but found nothing inside beyond some unexceptional bones.

The group then pulled Bresal’s corpse into the long hall, covered it with his cloak, and examined the area beyond the statue closely. After about half-an-hour, they discovered that the area marked as a shadowgate on the wall directly behind the statue was a secret door, with Scales and Sweet stopping to examine it further, fearing a magical trap of some kind.

The group began to discuss options. They were low on spells and healing, had a fallen companion, and were unsure if they could face the fury of Eliseera in her own lair. Who knew what other traps or guardians she had for the place, as it was increasingly apparent she was better prepared than they had suspected, for defense against intruders.

Dream_Thief.jpg

009.JPG

Just as it was decided to retreat back to the Prime Plane, a figure appeared from the shadows of the long hall, next to Bresal’s corpse. Elisteera had arrived in all her dark glory.

shadow.jpg

She began by summoning a handful of Shadows to her defense, and a brawl erupted, that was fluid and spread from the central long hall, back into the upper entrance, and back again. Eventually, she slipped back to the secret door against the far wall of the long hall, and opening it slipped into the dark shadows beyond. The adventurers pursued.

012.JPG

They cautiously peered into the chamber beyond, finding it a small chamber hewn of raw stone, but painted in what must be bright colors in the Prime Plane; here they were muted and indistinct, but could be easily discerned if you paid close attention to them.

The right wall was painted a sunrise over a pastoral scene of farmers and townsfolk spreading from a castle village below the sun, into the fields and pastures of the central wall. To the left, the fields became a dark and foreboding forest, haunted by shadowy shapes and monstrous creatures lurking at its edges, as though about to swarm into the fields and town beyond. A carved archway, like a gate to the Shadowfell passed between the shadowy forest and the fields, leading into a tunnel beyond.

The adventurers followed along hearing a chant or some other spell being cast in the chamber beyond, finding a rough-hewn chamber with a pool of dark water to the left, and a wide rift leading up to the surface right. A strange, gore-spattered altar lay directly across from the entrance, with some large bloody rune splashed above it on the wall. Elisteera stood beneath this ravine, and a large, toad-like creature stood in the water, its beady eyes peering at the intruders with hate, and a noticeable stench surrounding its body.

Hezrou.jpg

The adventurers laid forward their attacks with brutal desperation. The demon proved to be little more than a hefty thug, though it dealt several nasty blows in the fight. Elisteera proved wily and capable of unusual feats in her own home, but once pressed by Ricochet into direct melee combat, wilted under the barrage of his attacks.

011.JPG

Eventually pressed to deeply, Eilisteera fled. She slipped up the tunnel to the surface, and despite being closely pursued by Ricochet, managed to escape into the woodlands and vanished among the shadows beyond. Dejected, Ricochet returned the long way back into the crypts, and the group banished the beast back to the Abyss.

Mark_of_the_Dream_Thief.jpg

Looking around, they found the pool to be very shallow, and hiding a strange set of glyphs among its filthy waters. Careful examination revealed it to be a Teleportation Circle, which the group took note of, and recorded the sigils in Bresal’s book, for future use. The altar seemed to have been converted from some other god’s worship, and the symbol was unknown, but strangely familiar to the adventurers, reminding them of the symbology found in the frog-folk’s shrine below Az-Vassa.

Returning to the bier chamber, they examined it, eventually prying off the top stone lid to reveal a single small cavity holding a black Shadowfell Oak box carved with an image of an elven maiden at work on a loom. Within were three pieces, identified as key items for weaving; a mithral bobbin, a mithral spindle and a shadow oak shuttle. Careful examination and a Detect Magic verified their thoughts that they were valuable relics of some sort.

The group bundled up Bresal’s corpse, and hauled him out of the crypt to the ruins of the Corruptor’s temple complex, and passed once more, through the sputtering shadowgate, that seemed more and more unstable, back to the Prime Material and Thornkeep.

The group quickly made their way to Mistress Idara’s shrine, where they traded several of their recently looted jewels for her single Raise Dead scroll, from among her relics recovered from Mosswater. The group then visited Sword Brother Eldrast, asking him to use the scroll to bring back Bresal.

Bresal readied Bresal in his shrine, and with the adventurers looking on, began the ritual with the assistance of Acolyte Taronnel. After some concern and an hour of prayers and chanting, the ritual was completed, and Bresal was RAISED FROM THE DEAD!. Although exhausted and worn from his ordeal, Bresal was escorted back to the Green Forest Inn, where the group settled in for a solid long rest.

View
Episode 35 - The Shadow Pits

“You need to spend time crawling alone through shadows to truly appreciate what it is to stand in the sun.”

https://youtu.be/Y8Uqy9L_xtk

Synopsis : A tale in which the adventurers discover several forgotten facts about their own holdings, and embark on an expedition into the Shadowfell. They are engaged in a brutal brawl against various foes dwelling in the Shadowfell’s mirror of the ancient shrine dedicated to the Corruptor, including some oddly “goth” humans and a massive clay golem. They scout the Shadowfell’s mirror of the Applewarden Orchard, and then return back to the Green Forest Inn for a good long rest, though many of their wounds would not properly heal…

Small_House.jpg

17th of Kelen, TR 1050 : Applewarden Orchard : Following the dangerous attack on the adventurers encamped in the Applewarden Orchard farm, they began a quick discussion regarding the relatively unknown nature of their enemy. Reina was in something like a coma, but looked like she might recover in time, though memories of the recent “Dream Fever” couldn’t be shaken.

Eventually, the group settled on looking for a possible lair under the packed earth and clay floor of the small stone house that Eliseera had been living in, and using several shovels and picks recovered from the orchard’s workshop, began excavating the floor. Several hours later, they had dug down some feet, but uncovered nothing, beyond exposing the small earthen cellar.The group settled in the dirt and talked more, keeping a watchful and suspicious eye on the shadows around them.

With the morning light, the group staggered back out to the Green Forest Inn, retrieving their horses and brought Reina through the slushy roads in the morning light back to the relative safety and comfort of Green Dagger Farm. Here the group scattered to their various dwellings, though Reina was left in the care of Doireann Hurler. The group took several hours to properly rest and recover from their recent ordeal.

Kahli setteld into her quarters, but after a good several hours of sleep, roused herself and asked after her two remaining followers in the Fallen Tower Vaults; Annalaigh and Lachlan. They expressed the quarters were adequte, but questioned after the strange writings and odd lay-out of the vault they were staying in. After hearing the description given them regarding the god-hero images, Annalaigh declared that those images did not match the words, stating that the words on the walls were “… nonsense magic phrases, similar to a command phrase on a wand…”. Hearing how the vaults were opened, it was suggested that perhaps they sealed the vaults once more, and after some experimentation. using a somantic component like they were reverse-opening the vault doors, discovered the magic doors from before could be re-summoned, and their keys collected to secure the vaults again, if they wished.

Kahli also asked Annalaigh regarding the Dream Thief they had encountered, and she gave a quick run-down of how it was “vampire-like”, but closely tied to shadows, and would not likely have access to the Ethereal Plane with a Plane Shift ability like Blackmaw. Having some understanding of the nature of the Shadowfell as a Shadowfey, she suggested that access to the Shadowfell was only practical through high-level magicks like “Plane Shift”; through “Shadow Roads”, passages that existed here and there throughout the Prime Material; or the sometimes rare “Shadow Portals”.

Shadow Portals, she explained were direct conduits to the Shadowfell, a realm that largely mirrored our own, though it was a place that slowly leeched away energy and will, as it was the fringe to the very Negative Elemental Plane itself. Such portals only existed in places of great death or darkness, like a vast battlefield or a mass grave or cemetery. Most were places where sunlight never shone.

Thinking about these sorts of places, the group decided that there were two such places; the depths of the Accursed Halls, where they had encountered a single room that literally spawned undead Shadows; or the cellar ruins of the temple to the Corruptor on Firlan Brooks’ former farm. The group decided that following a proper long rest, they would investigate both.

18th of Kelen : The morning dawned warm, and for the first time in a while it finally began to look like spring. After a hearty morning meal, the adventurers headed back down the muddy trail to Thonrkeep, and several hours later, arrived at the ruins of the Corruptor. They entered the small vaults in the middle of the field, passing through the ancient iron door bearing the symbol of the Corruptor, and passed through the empty wine cellars, passed quickly through the porticullis, as Bresal easily remembered how to open the passage into the crypts.

001.JPG

Both the side chamber where Sweet had destroyed the mosaic, and the crypts themselves were much as the adventurers remembered. They quickly began searching the side chambers, when they realized that one portion of the crypts were without the usual stacked biers for the dead. Investigating it closely, Bresal found one of the flags in the wall, along the bottom seemed to recede into the wall, and triggered the button with his foot,hearing a satisfying click and whirl from the wall itself.

The door swung open to reveal a small 5’-wide nook, hiding a shadowy blot of pure darkness. Small motes of shadow broke off the blot like whisps of smoke. They had found the Shadow portal, lying here unknown for many, many years. Kahli boldly stepped forward, striding into the blot, with the rest quickly following suit. Except for Sweet. She steadied her nerves by drinking her strongest consumables, and psyched herself enough to follow after her companions, muttering that “… the Shadowfell was the last place I ever intended to go…”.

The group emerged, one-by-one into a mirror of the crypts. It was a dead place, filled with no colors, no smells, nothing except shadows and darkness, where even their lights were reduced in strength. The stone was carved in a repeating bone motif, and carved half-skulls were everywhere. The gate behind them was a bright, scintillating white sheet of light, but even it seemed devoid of color and life, and more like a window into a snow storm. The air seemed cold, colder even than the air they had left behind in the crypt.

Carefully proceeding, Bresal triggered the portcullis using a Mage Hand spell, and a quick examination of the former mosaic room, revealed much the same image, only this time it was replaced by a half-skull image with a halo of dark light about its visage, like a dark sun rising on the horizon. The floors here were clean swept, despite seeming abandoned for a long time. They found the iron door leading out of the crypts was sealed from the other side, and so Bresal carefully lifted the sealing bar from the other side using his tools, doing so very quietly. They proceeded up into a gatehouse tower, half destroyed but still somewhat intact.

To the right and left were open doorways, and across the room was a large, wide entrance portal, all missing doors. Rubble behind the stairway revealed 3’-high walls, largely granting view of an interior courtyard, but vision was reduced by even those with the ability to see in darkness. The adventurers noticed the earth in the courtyard was seemingly dead, devoid of anything beyond patches of dead grass, and a single, gnarled tree. They slipped out through the left hand doorway, finding a ruined stable further on, and then they noticed the figures shuffling about in the gloom.

Wight.jpg

Seemingly half-dead, the figures were armed in shadowy leather armor, bearing ancoient iron longswords, smeared with dried gore. Noticing the adventurers they approached and attacked.

003.JPG

They clustered about, using some degree of intelligence to co-ordinate their attacks, consisting of both their longswords, and using their free hands to attempt to draw forth life energy from their targets. Kahli sent Horcrux to flit across the courtyard, where it sensed the danger of foes in the ruins beyond. The fight was sharp, but the heroes were able to begin to prevail against their foes.

Gargoyle.jpg

Suddenly five gargoyles rose out of the ruins beyond, and perched on the edge of the large building to peer into the fight brewing across the way. Horcrux stayed quiet and invisible perched beneath one of them. Scales launched his signature Fireball against the group, severely damaging several of them along the edges, and these gargoyles leaped into the fray, slashing about themselves with their stony claws. The other two fired gray Rays of Enfeeblement against Sweet, hitting her, and reducing her strength and melee blows.

005.JPG

Sweet droppd a Thunderwave against the three closest Wights, blasting them back away from her, and two of the gargoyles were quickly dispatched. From the complex, deeper in, came a howl, and a series of shouts, though muffled, were heard from the same area.

DeathDog.jpg

From around the corner came a large, two-headed black dog-beast, howling and slathering as it came. It was quickly the brunt of several spells, as the remaining gargoyle on the ground and the wights were all dispatched. The beast was quickly dispatched at the edge of the stable, and the two remaining gargoyles fled away from the large building across the courtyard.

Shadar-kai.jpg

Several humanoids appeared from the same area in which the two-headed dog had come from, pale of skin, but tattooed in strange whorling patterns of purple, and wielding long chains of iron with slashing points on the ends.

006.JPG

They were met in the middle of the courtyard by Sweet, and Scales dropped another Fireball on the four new-comers, devastating their approaching formation. The four were then quickly dispatched with spells and swords, and quiet passed across the complex. The new comers were definitely humans once, and carried numerous scars and piercings all across their bodies.

The larger building beyond was dominated by a large, open chamber filled with old wooden writing desks, though much of what was expected of debris had been swept and disposed of. Along the far left wall, was a large iron double-door bearing the now familiar symbol of a half-skull with a halo of fire. The door was left alone, and they explored a nearby chamber, a former library, now swept clean and holding a pair of simple pallets, but no personal effects. Another room beyond was ruined.

Two other areas were revealed, a section of ruins occupied the far south-western corner, while the north-western corner held a common area of some sort, with a pair of large wooden tables and benches, and a somewhat ruined kitchen area, stuffed with a variety of common supplies and a large hearth. A pair of small chambers lay beyond, but the doors were closed, and left alone, while the group gathered again in the former scriptorium.

Sweet could hear a strange “sucking” sound coming from beyond, like water being pulled down a drain. The portal sealing the shrine beyond was sealed with an Arcane Lock, that nonetheless, Bresal was determined to open. PUlling out his thieves’ tools, he went to work on the portal and surprised everyone (including himself), when he managed to trick the spell into releasing its hold on the portal, if temporary (he rolled a natural 20, for a total of 30!, thus completing an impossible task). The portal opened as Kahli strode in, revealing the chamber beyond.

The_Gloom_Golem.jpg

A dark dome crowned the shrine, but only a simple black soapstone altar graced the far wall. Above it pinned to the wall was the image of a jawless skull in the center of a purple halo. Beside the altar stood a mostionless, misshapen ogre-like creature made of gray, foul-smelling clay, but where its face should have been, was only a swirling black vortex. From this creature came the odd sucking sounds, as though the very air around it were disturbed and being pulled into its face. Two statues were placed on either side of the doors, covered by tarps of old canvas.

007.JPG

Several of the adventurers stepped into the chamber, and the creature suddenly shifted into motion. It stepped forward and laid into Sweet with a series of brutal strikes that devastated her, as she could feel her life force being pulled out of her body, reducing her maximum hit points with every strike. She led a retreat from the area, pulling the creature out into the scriptorium, and then out through the half-ruined doorway, where it found passage rather difficult, and several adventurers converged to strike against its disadvantaged state.

008.JPG

Nonetheless, it managed several sharp blows against the adventurers, and proved to be quite tough and immune to various effects and damage. Non-magical weapons proved useless against the creature, but Sweet’s hammer, the Last Laugh proved effective, crackling with energy when it struck the creature.

Suddenly from the corner of the common living building, a figure appeared from the shadows, and tossed several eldritch blasts at Scales, flying above the compound, before retreating back into the building and vanished. While the rest engaged with the gloom golem, Scales and the mysterious figure sniped at each other with spells.

Suddenly, the golem was destroyed, melting into a pile of clay and swirling black shadows, and Rico leaped forward, dashing over to the spellcaster hiding in the ruined stables, and struck the mage down with several quick blows. Quiet once more spread across the compound, and the group caught their breath, with both Bresal and Sweet calling for a general retreat, having been severely beaten within an inch of their lives. Scales managed to detect magic from the mage’s robes, and located a hidden pocket that was torn open to reveal a wand of black wood and silver with the shape of a spider holding an amythest on its tip.

The group chose to explore the unopened rooms beyond the common area, finding a pari of small chambers with a pair of pallets and a few personal effects in each. Among them were a few handfuls of platinum and gold coins, and several small agates. The other door revealed a workshop of some sort, with a single pallet and numerous books scattered about. A locked iron trunk was also recovered from behind one table.

Most of the books were nonsense that Bresal quickly determined were largely myth, speculation, and legend’ practically useless tomes hardly worth the parchment they were written on. Three of the tomes, however, proved of some value; “The Importance of Meditation”, a book written in Umbral, but somewhat decipherable by Bresal with his knowledge of Elvish, that talked about the death of gods and how to talk to them. A section of this book was highly annotated, with notes written in the margins; “Identification of Trees”, a tome detailing various trees located within Echo Wood; and “Outpost”, a book written in Common, about conducting sieges, and containing detailed engineering drawings.

Bresal then opened the trunk to reveal thousands of silver and gold coins in sacks, along with numerous candles, along with a rolled-up purple and black prayer (?) rug of some worth (900 gp). The adventurers took some time to rest, discussing their next options. Kahli sent out Horcrux to fly off north towards the Applewarden Orchard, whereupon she took control over its sight and hearing, seeing a shadow version of the farm.

Shadow_Crypt.png

The trees of the farm were strangled dead things, like claws grasping at the sky. Everything else about it was dead, and covered in frost. The place where the house should have been, was replaced by a stone shrine or crypt, standing amid the barren waste of a farm. Satisfied, she recalled Horcrux, and informed the adventurers. They decided to retreat back through the gate, and find some degree of rest in the relative safety of the Green Forest Inn.

The group then passed back through the white gate to the ruins of the Corruptor Crypts, and carrying their recovered books and trunk filled with treasure, took rooms at the inn, and settled in for some well-needed rest.

View
Episode 34 - Once More Unto the Moot

“Taxes are there to be hated by some, spent by others.”

https://youtu.be/TynHJ0_amDY

Synopsis : A tale in which the adventurers, choosing to join the Council Moot at Caer Dragonscorn, learn a great deal about the Barony of Thornkeep’s present economy, as well as their plans for the coming year. Afterwards, they advise Baroness Neria Blackshield regarding their feelings on these plans, before departing for a night at the Green Forest Inn. That night, Bresal manages to discover a fake Iliara Starcloak whose clumsy seduction reveals her to be another unknown green hag. He discovers the attack was a ruse, but there is some concern that Iliara is involved in the hag conspiracies somehow, as her apprentice discusses some confusing activities the previous night. Later, Scales meets with Eliseera Applewarden, in an effort to buy-out her ownership of the orchards. He discovers she is an undead (shadow) fey, later identified as a so-called “Dream Thief”, and barely manages to escape with his life. The adventurers gather at the orchard, and attempt to capture her, but come under an attack that drives Squire Reina Whiterock into a coma, before the Dream Thief escapes once more. They discuss options.

Hall_Interior.jpg

15th of Kelen : Green Dagger Farm Mothalla : The adventurers hurried through their preparations, but took the time to rest for long enough to rebuild their powers and strength. With their mounts readied, they set forth in the early afternoon, and began down the snow-covered trail leading down into Thornkeep. Shadowmist escorted Vesina, having been promised several buckets of wine at the journey’s end.

The way was difficult, but by the time they got to the cut-off to Halted-Stream Camp, they found the road open enough to ride with some ease, hinting at work parties already operating out at the iron mine, with their heavy cart tracks clearing the road. About a mile further down, Sweet noticed the group was being observed by a band of individuals, about a dozen in number. Kahli sent up her familiar Horcrux in its traditional raven form, while Reina took her reins to lead the horse while Kahli observed what her familiar saw and heard.

Kahli saw the band numbered more than a dozen, an ill-armed rabble of ragged bandits with bows and crossbows, bundled in winter clothing, and just observing the large armed party of adventurers on horseback, and recognizing who they faced. Horcrux landed near the lead one, and croaked out an inquiry as to who the bandits were. They bolted every which way, scattering into the forest screaming in terror. Kahli released her hold on Horcrux, and told him to do what he wanted, just meet the adventurers in town in a couple hours, and broke off her connection. Horcrux tittered of after one particular bandit, harassing her with taunts and curses while invisible.

Thornkeep_Snowy_PRoper.jpg

Arriving in Thornkeep several hours later, noticing many of the villagers seemed to acknowledge the group; apparently, their fame had spread through the winter, and the group was generally well-regarded, or at least, feared. Tired and bedraggled, the group met at the inn, and cleaned themselves up, stabling their horses and arranging rooms for the evening. Vesina made sure Shadowmist got his share of wine and beer served at the stables, and the group made their way up to the great hall in the early dark.

Caer_Dragonscron_Great_Hall.jpg

The group very quickly passed by the guards, who did little to impede their journey. They found the majority of business at the moot had been completed early in the day, and now only the six members of the town council sat before the high table; Mistress Greenfoot, Master Tarrasque, Master Stonesplitter, Master Dragonfire, Mistress Kairn, and Master Thumbwhistle, all sitting before Baroness Blackshield and her mother Lady Ivis and the castellan, Ser Shearwater. the castle scribes sat off to one side, along with the Baroness’ own brother, Master Halst.

The council were just running through numbers from the castle’s accounts, but upon the announcement of the adventurers, the Baroness called a recess, and bade the adventurers approach, while the council refreshed themselves at a side table. Neria and Vesina met each other with gladness and a quick exchange of pleasantries. The adventurers assured they came with good news of their journey to the north, and that while most could wait until the matters at hand were complete, they felt enough to mention they had encountered a band of orcs and giants, and slain them, who were encamped in the ruins of Mosswater There was some confusion regarding a mention of Muckleglum, but the adventurers assured her that the matters were well in hand in the north. The adventurers were then invited to sit at the side table if they wished while the council went through the accounts and plans for the coming year, which they accepted, quickly taking a position to one side, and being served wine, ale and other refreshments while the council gathered once more.

The boring list of various accounts passed for about an hour, listing so many silvers collected from such and such a holder. Half listening, the adventurers noted that their hold, and that of their two neighbors, Blackhart Farm and Wolfram Farm figured independently as worthy of mentioning, and that all three had paid their taxes in full. Firetree Manor, Woodbristle Manor, and Darkmoon Manor also figured as prominently, though they paid far more in taxes.

Questioning it among themselves, Ric assured them that Mistress Brooks had paid it all out from their harvests and various supplies taken from the bandits the previous autumn on their behalf. In the end, they concluded that the costs of running the castle were roughly 500 gp per month, and that the castle made perhaps 400-500 gp profit after its expenses on an average year.

“Stumpage” taxes levied on timber cut from the forests figured quite prominently among the castle’s revenues, but seemed rather low, often missing in the case of the established villages. Since most of the adventurers were unfamiliar with the nuances of how these sorts of things worked, they missed many key aspects of the reports.

Several members of the council had questions. Stonesplitter asked for leave to send a survey party north to Mosswater, to gauge the ability to re-open the soapstone quarry there, and this was granted. Dragonfire requested, and was denied, a cessation of the annual levies on stumpage taxes, as requested by his guild.

Then Baroness Neria brought forward the castle’s plans for the coming year.

First was the establishment of a new manor in the north part of the village, to replace the one burned to the ground in the fall. Due to its costs, the size was to be smaller than the castle had hoped, but would cost roughly 2500 gp, and take about 60 days to build, commencing once the spring fields had been planted, around a month from now.

Second, was the resettlement and rebuilding of Raider’s Roost. The costs for this endeavor was to be around 7500 gp, and take about 100 days. The castle had plans to ensure the strong-point, which they were assured was cleared of bandit threats, and then use it to establish a small settlement and exert pressure on the western trail to Hexwater, perhaps even establish a toll on caravans. Ric was notably upset at this consideration, as he had his own sights set on the site. The castle admitted this was a long-range plan, perhaps commencing later in the year once finances had been settled, as its costs were somewhat straining on the treasury.

Burning_the_Briarwarren.jpg

Third, the castle intended to burn the Briarwarren to the ground. They admitted they had a large store of chemicals coming with the spring caravan from Mornhaven, and had discussed with Brishtargera Greenbottle about making a large store of Alchemist’s Fire, to use against the goblin lair, and remove it as a threat once and for all. The Council seemed a little alarmed at the endeavor, but agreed that removal of the local goblin tribe would bring some measure of prosperity to the region, particularly with the removal of the Goblin Market. This somewhat alarmed the group, as they realized that in the past, setting large fires in the forest often led to confrontations with the fey of Echo Wood, and never brought complete resolution, as it made these folk, who were potential allies, hostile to the source of the blaze.

Fourth, the annexation of Timberstar. The baroness felt that with the removal of the threat from the Pit of Chains, whose goblins had apparently been scattered and broken, the Road of Claws was now open, and the interests of those wood-cutters and huntsmen could now be influenced by Thornkeep, and their taxes paid directly to the Wolf Baron. The gathered council agreed that this might be in their interests, bringing revenue and the influence of Thornkeep into that long-ignored region of the forests. The adventurers were not happy with the term ’annexation", as it hinted at conflict and loss of life.

The_Fyrd.jpg

To ensure all these military ventures, Baroness Neria intended to call out the local Fyrd, demanding military support from the surrounding free farms, and the local peasants. She felt she could gather at least half a cohort (around fifty) militia and huntsmen easily, perhaps more if they got the support of “Longshanks” and his hunters. She felt the Blue Basilisks and the Goldenfire Order would also support these efforts if offered a fair share of the profits. Lastly, the baroness had contacted a local small mercenary band, “Natan’s Manticores”, a band of about a dozen spears and crossbows, who had wintered in Thonrkeep, and were willing to take service in this and future matters. They were offering their services for a fair wage of 22 gp per month, and could provide the garrison of the rebuilt Raider’s Roost if there should be enough coin left over by mid-year.

The council generally agreed on these plans, and the idea of a great moot between all the local farms and peoples next month was a grand idea. The adventurers noted, however, that in all these discussions, Master Daemon Tarrasque was oddly silent, as usual. He spoke little, and simply observed all that went on around him. The group were then excused and went their separate ways, mostly intending to head home after a long day at council.

The group then approached Baroness Neria, and expressed their concerns. First, Rico presented the Baroness with a lovely Droskari Metal Alloy cask filled with 500 gp, “… as a gift, an assurance of our honor and the demands of the Wolf Baroness in bringing peace and prosperity to our lands…”. He suggested the coin could, instead of ensuring the conquest of the paradise of Timberstar, rather the gathered Fyrd could help in building the palisade the isolated community sought. He felt they might accept this as a sign of the willingness of the Wolf Baroness in protecting the community, rather than earning their enmity in a potential war.

The baroness quickly asked Sir Shearwater about the reasonableness of this choice, and he responded that it was feasible and would cost far less than mounting a military expedition; the 500 gp would more than cover the costs, if they could acquire timber at the village site itself. He looked shrewdly at Ric, regarding him in perhaps a new light. _"Very well"-, she said, “we shall contemplate this option.”.

Second, the adventurers didn’t appreciate the use of wide-scale fire to remove the goblin threat, suggesting, instead, they might simply go into the warrens and slaughter the little beasts. While the Baroness appreciated that the adventurers could likely kill many of them, she reminded them that the Briarwarrens were a narrow, confined maze of Goblin Brambles, and that while many would die, many more would likely escape and simply return in a season to their lair. She felt fire was the only way to ensure the goblin tribe be destroyed completely, or at least fore them to move away.

After a quick discussion, the adventurers had to agree that attacking the goblins wouldn’t solve the problem completely. Baroness Neria admitted that perhaps there might be another way, and bade the adventurers to contemplate the matter, and come up with another solution, saying that unless they did so, she would burn them out once the Fyrd was summoned, giving them a month to find another solution. They agreed to this offer.

The group then made some general inquiries, asking why Green Dagger Farm and their neighbors had been mentioned prominently, along with the other large manors. She responded that in their tax rolls, these three farms were listed as free-holds, and as such were not directly lands under the control of Thonrkeep’s ruler, holding their lands independently, but under the protection of the Crown of the Wolf Baron.

They also asked after Master Tarrasque, asking if he was always so quiet. The baroness assured the adventurers that while he was indeed rather silent on most matters, he loyally paid his taxes without fail, and always supported the crown’s decisions when asked directly. No, she felt he just had other matters on his mind most nights, as he was a successful and capable merchant.

Neria excused herself, requesting Vesina spend the evening at the castle, and the pair drifted off to the upper chambers, discussing dresses and music. Ric approached Lady Ivis, and requested time to discuss a few personal matters, as they had in the last few months. She agreed, and departed with him to the private dining chambers upstairs. The rest of the adventurers slipped back to the Green Forest Inn, for a little drinking and to discuss the evening’s matters.

Meanwhile, Ric and Lady Ivis talked about various topics late into the evening, flirting more and more than usual. Finally, Ric made his move, a clumsy attempt that blurted out his intentions boldly and without any disguise (a natural 1 (Bluff) check). He immediately realized his mistake, when she went quiet, and stared at him directly. She then stood up, and sitting in his lap, played with his hair and stated, while she found his charms quite attractive, she was a woman of great honor and was still married… technically, and couldn’t break those bonds while her husband remained alive. However. If he brought her the head of her husband… well… then she would see that Ric be…. “…amply rewarded…”, and kissed him with a passion he had not seen in her before. She then excused herself, and let Ric think on the matter.

Returning to the inn, Ric announced he now had a new primary item on his agenda; the hunting and death of Baron Tervin Blackshield and his so-called “Stonewallkers”. Kahli assured him her band of followers were working on tracking the beast, and should be back in some days time with word as to his whereabouts. They spent the rest of the night drinking a little and then all retired to their rooms.

Bresal was awakened in the night by the sound of his private door being closed, and a shadowy form appearing in his room. He quickly recognized Iliara Starcloak from her gown and pointed ears, and sleepily sat up in bed. Callum flattened his ears and let out a low growl. Bresal… sweet Bresal…" muttered the figure, “…unsummon that little thing so we can talk privately about matters of urgency…”. A little suspicious, Bresal spoke back to her in Elvish, and after a muttered curse in Sylvan recognized this was certainly not Iliria.

Hag_Denied.jpg

The pair got into a quick fight, with the figure slashing her hard once, but the distracting aid of Callum, and use of a Thaumaturgy cantrip to open and slam shut the door several times spooked the figure (likely another hag) enough to throw open the window and leap out, vanishing from sight with a cackle. Yup, a green hag.

His companions roused and joined him, and he related that he thought a green hag had tried to seduce and attack him, supposing Nann’s Bone Ring had somehow summoned her to his location. Everyone returned to their rooms, rechecked their locks and settled back in for the rest of the night.

16th of Kelen : In the morning, the group met for breakfast, with Scales saying he was going up to meet with Eliseera Applewarden, and make an offer on her farm. Bresal intended to visit the Goldenfire Tower, and do a little reading, maybe check on his friend, Iliara, and inform hero of the events of the previous night.

Bresal went to the tower, and met with Timber, Starcloak’s apprentice. Asking how he was, and making some small talk with the young lad, who was only a little younger than Bresal himself, he found Timber relating how he had been doing a little late night sweeping, when he suddenly felt drowsy, and awoke this morning asleep on the floor. He had no idea how this had happened.

Bresal recognized this as a Sleep spell, having cast it himself a couple times, and asked after Iliara; Timber claimed she had traveled early to the castle, seeking some matters of discussion with Lady Ivis. Bresal then excused himself, and went back to the Inn.

Scales wandered up to the north side of the village, and noticed that even under the snow, the place seemed dreary and run-down. While most others in the village were making repairs to fences and cutting wood for their fires, there was no obvious effort to work the orchard at all in the season. He approached the moderate house, and knocked.

After a few minutes, the sleepy, drawn-looking pale face of the beautiful Eliseera appeared through a crack in the door. After inquiring as to who he was, Scales stated he came with a private offer for the young widow, and she opened the door enough to let him in. Inside, the place was covered in a sense of decay and neglect. Dust lay in patches, and there was a sense of clutter and disregard, like a noblewoman’s attempts to live in a small room with no servants.

Eliseera bustled about, making a place for him at the central table in the common room, and offered to pour him a cup of tea, which he accepted. Getting right to it, Scales offered the young widow a hefty sum of 1500 gp for her farm, stating that she was obviously unable to see after its needs properly, and that she could use this money to set herself up somewhere and live a much simpler life to which she was more accustomed to. The tea was warming, and suddenly he felt the pangs of indigestion… or something more… as he suddenly realized he’d been poisoned!

Dream_Thief.png

Eliseera suddenly grew in stature, her eyes and mouth starting to glow an ominous color in the darkness, and her countenance changed from one of meekness into that of a predator. “Oh dear… you seem to have reacted better to my tea than many others in the past… Now let me into your mind…”.

The pair squared off, with her blocking Scales escape. He fired numerous magic missiles and other spells into her, but she grappled with him, one hand digging into his arm, as she buried her mouth in repeated kisses on his neck, drawing not so much blood as pure life essence. He felt his strength wane with each strike, and she continued to grapple at him. Finally, he dropped a Fireball at point-blank range, and managed to get the door open, stepping into the snowy courtyard of the house. Eliseera made a desperate lunge into the sunlight, smoldering as her shadowy form took on a level of solidity before she burned under the radiance. She failed to grapple him, and he retreated back down the road, bloodied, wounded and smoldering from his Fireball spell. She went back inside, slamming the door and screaming with banshee-like rage.

He quickly mounted Iceclaw, and flew up to the castle, seeking Ser Kranstin Shearwater, whom the guards reluctantly began looking for. Eventually, they brought him forward, and Scales explained his encounter with the good (?) Eliseera_, and how she had attacked him when he had made his offer to buy her land. Scales sought a witness before he proceeded further. Shearwater sighed heavily, and excused himself quickly, to return shortly with Mor’Hyanda, the Black Blade on his back, and a handful of spare guards. He allowed Scales to lead him down to the Green Forest Inn to retrieve his companions, and then proceed to the northern farm of the Applewardens.

The whole group went to the farm, and began searching the site. It still smoldered from their fight. After a through search of the site turned up nothing, they apologized for wasting Sir Shearwater’s time, but he admitted it needed sorting out. He stationed a pair of guards at the house to keep an eye on her return, and excused himself. The adventurers discussed things a little, and decided that identifying Iliara was important.

The group once more headed up to Caer Dragonscorn, and easily entering the great hall, inquired after Iliara and Lady Ivis, with a servant informing them that the pair were likely up in the library on the upper level. The group made their way up the stairs to the upper level, Bresal and Ric leading the way, as the pair had been here at least once before.

Stopping before the library, the group remained behind, while Bresal stepped into the library. He saw the pair engaged in some tome or another, and excused his intrusion in Elvish, to which Iliara responded politely, stating that she and the Lady Ivis were busy at the moment, and could help him later if he needed it. He responded, again in Elvish, that it wasn’t important, having wanted to access the library, but he would come back, and excused himself from the room.

Convinced that Iliara was not the unknown green hag from the night before, the group slipped back out of the castle, and back to the Applewarden farm. They stopped by to speak with Sword Brother Eldrast, finding him at his shrine south of the castle, and related the encounter with Eliseera_. He acknowledged the creature was likely a -“Dream Thief”, an undead fey shadow beast, of which he knew very little. He claimed they were somewhat like vampires from legend, with an affinity to the darkness and shadows, and an aversion to sunlight. Their fey nature, however, made them capricious and unpredictable, but he knew little else about them, as they were quite rare, and quite powerful creatures. Regarding other fey aspects of them he knew nothing.

Returning to the Applewarden Orchard, they informed the pair of guards that they would spend the night at the farm, and the pair excused themselves after a couple hours, leaving the adventurers alone. The group began a more thorough search, but other than the usual contents of a moderately wealthy farmer’s home, they found nothing of note. Speaking with the trees of the orchard, they discovered that Eliseera remained pretty much in the house, only coming out at night. Sometimes she would dig about the orchard, and the trees felt better for a while after she buried things at the roots. Bodies, it was presumed, of her former workers that “left” after a season of labor.

001-A_Night_at_the_Applewarden.JPG

The group settled in for the night, taking watches as usual and spread throughout the central room. During Kahli, Reina and Bresal’s watch, Reina suddenly keeled over asleep. Kahli started trying to wake people around her when Reina went into convulsions and suddenly fell unconscious and into a full coma, near death. Sweet soon followed suit, waking after a series of convulsions, but was awake, though groggy and suffering from psychic wounds.

Dream_Thief.jpg

Casting bout her senses, Kahli detected both Undead and fey directly above them in the shadows of the roof. Casting a Light spell into the space, the dark, shadowy form of Eliseera, the Dream Thief could be seen, floating there, boiling with shadowy vapors and looking dangerous and predatory. Several quick spells cast in her direction forced her to scream and suddenly shift to one side and vanish from sight. Everyone turned to Reina and realized she was in a dangerous situation, near death and rendered near death.

And the shadows continued to lurk all about them…

View
Episode 33 - Voices of the Apocalypse

“Oh, should my people fall
Then surely I’ll do the same
Confined in mountain halls
We got too close to the flame.”

https://youtu.be/2fngvQS_PmQ

Synopsis : Daring to strike into the lower halls of Droskar’s Crucible, the adventurers fight the devil-soldiers and their salamander allies, but discover the source of the horns, a firenewt priestess and her guard/consort. The group then fight an ice devil summoned by some imps, and force it to retreat.

Deeper in the halls, they meet with an Azer, Garnet “Ironhand” who was the firenewt’s henchmean, trying to forge a node to the elemental plane of fire in these ruined dwarven forge halls. They fight the firenewt’s and uncover both the legendary Heart of the Crucible, and a strange fiery orb that explodes, generating a widespread heat wave throughout the ruins and nearby lands. They come to terms with the Azer, and return back home with a few hours to prepare for the night’s moot in Caer Dragonscorn.

Ruins_of_Droskar.jpg

14th of Kelen, TR 1050, Late Evening : Lower Dungeons of Draskar’s Crucible : After a quick discussion of the adventurer’s plans, they slipped over to the northern entrance to the great hall, and prepared for their attack. Kahli drank a Potion of Growth, growing into a large black knight, and moved to cover the main entrance, while the others slipped to the door, supposedly where the devil-soldiers dwelt, and pushed it open.

Bearded_Devils.jpeg

Inside they found the two demon-soldiers with their fell, iron glaives moving about in what was a forge room of some sort, another door leading east. They quickly gathered about them, and began a fierce melee.

010-Battle_in_the_Hall.JPG

In the great hall, the one Salamander patrolling moved to the defensive, and called out in its sizzling, popping voice of pure elemental flame, and was joined by another. When it closed, it faced Kahli, and attempting to grapple her with its tail, found she was protected by a prepared ward against flame, and took increasingly dangerous cold damage, making it tentative to approach or attack Kahli again. The two slithered about, testing her defenses, while the others continued to engage the devil-soldiers in the foundry.

Firenewt-5e.jpg

From the western corridor from which a horn-sound had come before, came a strange lizard-like soldier, dressed in half-plate,bearing a shield and having a bright red flame on its chest. Behind it another appeared in a bright red robe, and it began to cast spells!

011-Battle_in_the_Hall_2.JPG

Horcrux proved helpful (against its better wishes) by providing ranged healing to those adventurers struck by the caustic wounds of the devls. The adventurers made short work of the two devil-soldiers, using Erilyn’s Kiss, Heartripper Blade and even Sword of Zog to great use, destroying them in puffs of ash and sulphur. Sweet noticed several tittering voices in the next chamber, raised in a chant. Within moments, the tittering quit, and a great roar went through the halls from behind the door.

Sweet attempted to hold the door, but the tittering voices receded, and soon it was shuddering and she knew whatever was behind would come out eventually. The rest engaged in a spell battle with the red-skinned lizards and their salamander allies.

Ice_Devil.jpeg

With a powerful smash the door gave way to reveal a large insect-like devil with white, crystalline skin like ice. It roared and moved towards the fight in the great hall.

013-Turn_of_the_Tides.JPG

The adventurers, combining their attacks with Chill Touch attacks by Bresal, and cold strikes from Scales’ spells and Iceclaw, defeated the two salamanders, who also turned to ash and vanished. Kahli suddenly moved away from the entrance, and charging back among her companions began yelling out that she had no control over her actions!. She suddenly struck out at Reina, who barely managed to get her shield up to save herself from a killing blow.

Ric took advantage of the situation, and leapt to distract the lizard spell-caster, managing to break her concentration over Kahli. Rico then retreated, but was cut-off from the rest by the rise of a great wall of pure elemental ice in the room beyond, and he quickly retreated again, back past the devil to run around the far corner of the hall.

Sweet managed to blast a hole through the ice wall with repeated strikes by her Last Laugh, and as the adventurers advanced, tossing spells against the creature, it suddenly roared and retreated as quickly as it could. Fleeing back past a hidden Rico, Sweet pursued, but was cut-off once more by a sudden wall of ice that rose to seal off its retreat, also inadvertently knocking Ric out of his hiding place back into the hall. It quickly retreated, disappearing into the corridors of the dungeons beyond.

Silence rose in the chambers, and the group decided to quickly explore the chambers beyond from whence the ice devil had come. They found a shattered armory, with a summoning circle of some sort, and another door that led to a small meeting room of some sort, in which lay three small “nests” of debris and a large stone table carved with six (6) dwarven titles. This door then connected into the first area of the great hall they had initially explored.

The group sealed all the doors they could, and chose to begin searching these rooms for clues and treasure, while a couple of the others took a short rest to recoup their strength. After a short while, a strange hammering began in the far hall, and Ric noticed the lights in the great hall “flicker”, but saw nothing else of note.

Kahli bade Horcrux to scout the smoldering and lit chamber beyond the great halls, finding a fairly bare chamber with a massive blazing hearth on one end, partially covered by a great brazen series of flames, Before it lay a large bronze cauldron, heaped about with damaged iron weapons and armor, and holding a pile of coins, gems and other artifacts, lit with a blazing fire for some strange purpose. The hearth was filled with the bones of a medium-sized dragon of some sort, all blackened by fire and seemingly destroyed.

Ironhand__2_.jpg

At the other end of the hall there stood a dwarf, with skin like brass, standing bare-chested and bare-foot in a strange bronze kilt, and a crude iron gauntlet ion its right hand. The creature was oblivious to everything around it, and Kahli watched as it grabbed up pieces of Droskari Metal Alloy, bent them with its hands and then began forging them into… something…

After their short rest, the adventurers slipped into what was once the kitchens of the great hall, and confronted the strange dwarf. They tried speaking with it in Dwarvish, but quickly found it only seemed to speak the strange tongue of the fire elementals, known as Ignan. Eventually, after trying various methods of communication, the group settled on Kahli casting Tongues and she learned much of the creature’s story. It identified itself as Garnet “Ironhand”, claiming to have been summoned here some months ago by the lizard priestess, and that it had been offered a deal; the lizards would give it the Heart of the Crucible in exchange for its crafting a great fire shrine about the hearth. Garnet dearly loved the gemstone offered, and agreed to the contract, a task with which it had been engaged for nearly a year.

They also learned that the lizard-folk lived in the chambers from which they had previously heard a horn-like sound, and that they kept a clutch of eggs in a pit in the center of the chamber. Deciding that destroying the two lizards, now identified as “Firenewts” was a priority, as they could not be allowed to either complete the shrine they were forging, nor allow their progeny to infest these ruins. They also concluded that destroying the creatures would end their contract with Garnet, and that he would stop forging the shrine, and perhaps they could come to some agreement with him themselves. Possibly for the Heart, or something else.

at first tentatively, then with gusto, they sampled taking items from the large cauldron. Ric got burned. Bresal and Scales removed and sorted a variety of ancient coins (about two sacks worth), a double-handful of gemstones, a great jeweled longsword, a wondrously decorated harp with silver strings, a pair of Content Not Found: draoskari-metal cases; one with a fine chess set and another with a set of masterwork jeweler’s tools. Garnet thought nothing of their work, though he did seem interested in the gemstones.

017-Voice_of_the_Apocalypse.JPG

The group moved quickly to cover both entrances to the chamber, throwing open both doors to reveal a long chamber lit by a glowing, molten pool in the center. A number of ancient bronze manacles covered the walls of the far end of the chamber, and a strange contraption in one corner of the central pit dropped down into its depths. In the far corner stood a strange lizard-like beast, and the two firenewts stood near the center.

The armored firenewt moved to cover the entrances as best it could, and the adventurers closed and began attacking both of them. Resigned to her doom, the female priestess of fire pulled out her dagger once more, its sparks lighting the room, and despite a valiant effort both were quickly worn down by the relentless attacks of the adventurers.

Eventually the female dove into the pit, and cried out in draconic about protecting its young, but was slain, vanishing in a puff of smoke and ash, much like the salamanders had. Her consort stood valiantly, fighting to the end, whereupon its breastplate of flame suddenly exploded, sending shrapnel and flame across the entrances. He was dead.

The adventurers began searching the chamber. They found a collection of personal camping gear near the center, including a strange pack saddle and a collection of strange foodstuffs, including sacks of a bluish bread, several large strips of unknown meat, a masterwork shortsword made of Droskari Metal Alloy, a copper ewer set with silver and six (6) matching goblets, a silver serving tray, a beautiful agate and bloodstone necklace, and a pair of potions. One was revealed to be a Potion of Healing, and the other a Potion of Diminution. Also in the supplies was a large stone box, covered in some strange arcane rune.

Kahli tried to befriend the lizard-like creature, and Sweet identified it as a Pack Guar, remembering that creatures like this had been used to take her and the other adventurers through the Deep Way to safety and Green Dagger Farm all those many years ago. Kahli found the creature quite docile, and it seemed to enjoy the strips of meat among the saddlebags.

Scales lowered himself into the pool, and finding it very hot, but bearable for a short time, began swimming about looking for anything of notice. He found nothing at first beyond the robes of the priestess, but dedicated searching eventually let him find the flint dagger she had been wielding, as well as the fist-sized fire opal mentioned by Garnet.

dims.jpg

Bresal investigated the stone box, recognizing the runes of the old stone box were an arcane sigil for “Water”. Carefully opening the box, he found within an odd 12’-sphere of swirling flames. He pulled the sphere out using a mage hand, examining it for a couple rounds, before placing it back inside the box and closing the lid.

The adventurers gathered and shared all that they had found, with the guar constantly trying to nuzzle the adventurers. Kahli began buckling on the pack saddle, and stowing the supplies they had recovered. Ric fondled the flint dagger. Scales suddenly noticed the gemstone began to give him a vision; “Images of a massive blood-red sun, rising over a charred and desolate land”. Passing it from one to another, they all noticed the same omen it projected into their minds. The group agreed to take a short rest, and learn more about these items, before confronting Garnet once more.

The dagger was identified as Tinderstrike, and Ric chose to attune to it, claiming it as his own. Scales took possession of the gemstone, finding it to be the Heart of the Crucible, a powerful relic that granted many useful utility powers, but did not require attunement, almost as though it was a Divine Boon from the Dark Smith himself.

Thus bouyed, the group re-entered the chamber with garnet, and revealed they had slain his contractors. He dropped the metal he was working on, and with Ric now able to freely converse with him using the powers granted by Tinderstrike, they asked Garnet what his plans were. He said he was not certain, that he could not return home, and that he might stay in these halls for a time, until he had determined what to do with himself now that his contact was dead.

Bresal asked him to identify the orb in the box, and so he opened it and pulled it out once more using his mage hand. As he held it aloft for Garnet to see, it suddenly swirled in energy and exploded! A great sucking heat burned through the dungeon, drying and cracking wood and stone, and setting things afire. The adventurers could hear the drying snap of many objects crackle through the dungeons and beyond. Garnet then identified the object had been an Devastation Orb; a relic often created by the Cult of Imix to spread their power and influence. Bresal was quickly drained of strength by the heat, and the group spent some time negotiating with Garnet, before agreeing to offer him 100 gp in gemstones per month in exchange for his services as a weapon smith and armorer. They recognized he needed a workshop of his own, and someplace to stay, though if of sufficient size the workshop would likely suffice, since he neither slept, nor ate, rather being a single-minded forging machine.

They stayed an additional hour, allowing for some rest, though Bresal complained of his general exhaustion, and reminded them they needed to leave sooner rather than later. The group agreed, and retreated back down the corridors they were familiar with, to reach the ruins above and the passage of the ice devil as it fled the chambers. Everywhere they looked, the marks of this heat wave were to be seen; wood dry and cracked, snow melted and weeds withered. A light drizzle of warm rain fell from the skies. They retreated south along the old trail to Az-Vassa, and about a mile out of the ruins, found the heat wave quickly dissipate, and the cold, snowy weather return. Continuing for a few miles until they had left the devastation of the valley below Droskar’s Crag, they found a tree trying to grow half from the barren rock, and camped for the night.

Some slept, others simply talked about their plans on the morrow, and the group awaited dawn, though they could hear the distinctive howl of a pack of wolves on the distant winds.

Snowy_Forest.jpg

15th of Kelen : With the dawn, the group, Garnet and the Pack Guar in tow, gathered about the scraggly tree, and Kahli used The Elder Scroll to Teleport them all to the mothalla at Green Dagger Farm. Entering, they were quickly hailed by their farmers, servants and several huntsmen. Among them were six shadowy figures, resting along one corner, one of whom quickly stood and introduced herself as Lelana, the leader of a band of shadow elves who had come to swear service to the Princess of Thorns as followers. Each introduced themselves and bowed before Kahli, who quickly accepted their service.

Vesina was busy readying herself for the trip to Thornkeep and welcomed them all to her hall. Garnet met with Mourde Carter, and brought in his tools, and the two began trying to talk shop, though they couldn’t really. The group settled in for a long rest, with Sweet and Kahli leading her followers to her dungeon under the Fallen Tower Vaults. The shadow elves agreed to occupy the round “Vault” in the dungeons for now, primarily as there were no other spaces readily available, and there was room enough for them to stretch-out. Scales talked briefly with Little Sulli, and he, Bresal and Rico settled in for a long rest themselves.

Hall_Interior.jpg

As evening grew close, the group gathered and discussed their plans over a short meal in the mothalla. Kahli suggested she would send her band of shadow elves into the northern wilds to seek-out and find any trace of either Gorian’s Pack or the Stonewalkers, hopefully allowing them to resolve either or both issues. Bresal expressed a desire to search the archives at Goldenfire Tower, particularly looking for information regarding any reference to an Orb of Devastation. The rest would travel to the moot, since every time they had been there, something interesting had happened. The huntsmen prepared their horses and the adventurers restocked their supplies before the journey.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.