“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”
Ivan Torrent – Icarus (feat. Julie Elven)
Synopsis : Having dealt with Mother Mischief and her Creeping Hut, the adventurers settle into the snowy edge of the Grand Escarpment, overlooking the Ambarin RIver Valley. Over several days of camping, the adventurers recover several folk from the Forgotten Cages, and bring them back from their imprisonment. Returning home, they continue their work, freeing several more prisoners and a few surprises, before making a trip north to the ruins of Mosswater, where they encounter a small band of unknown humanoids, including orcs (they suspect), ogres and “…one big-big..” identified by Callum. They find a safe place to camp for the night, and discuss their options.
2nd of Kelen, TR 1050 : Fringes of Silvershadow Forest : A freezing, snowy day greets the adventurers, flush with new-fallen snow. The adventurers stay hunkered in camp, many sleeping in to make up for the disturbance of the previous night. They generally recover, though are somewhat miserable.
Eventually, they gather near the fire, and “Scales” readies his magic to Dispel the magic that has polymorphed the raven they assume is “Old Man” Shadow. After a couple attempts, he succeeds, and the raven changes shape to become the one-winged form of a celestial creature, who stands, his one black wing unfurling to reveal him to be not whom they had anticipated.
With a sonorous voice, he inquired after the gathered group, looking each of them over with a careful eye. They introduced themselves, not expecting to meet an angel, whereupon he seemed to lose his wary stance, and addressed them all as…
“Children, yes it is I. Elves called me ‘Olórin’, the ‘Old Dreamer’; Dwarves called me ‘Tharkûn’, the ‘Man of the Wand’. It was Men that know me most as the ‘Cottager’, the ‘Rustic’, the ‘Churl’, the ‘Lout’; also the ‘Grayling’, ‘Odd Shadow’, ‘The Eternal’, and ‘Old Man Ash’. None now know me as ‘Incánus’, the name of my birth. You may call me what you like…”.
“Sweet” immediately swept him in an enthusiastic and crushing hug, burying her face in his neck. The group also breathed a sigh of relief, and greeted him with gladness. They had found the man who had raised them.
Gathering about the fire, they began pestering him with questions. He related many things, revealing that he had heard of the Green Dagger Gang involved in some strange occult ritual from contacts of his, and that he felt moved to recover the children he found, whisking them away to safety at Green Dagger Farm, where he let them have a childhood they had not seemed destined to have. He claimed to know little enough about the particulars of the ritual, but gave directions to the “nursery” he had found them in, as being “…just off the Hall of the Seven, in the tunnels under Mornhaven…”. He related that the adventurers were all children in truth, but he suspected they had been “merged with some other sort of beings, vestiges of a foul and near divine nature…”, as the beginning portions of the Green Dagger’s rituals.
Kahli expressed her personal concerns that the rumored “ancient relics” the Green Daggers had been engaged in smuggling were the adventurers themselves as children. It certainly explained why they could not remember much of their early years, and how their forest real memories were of the night Old Man Shadow had taken them from the dungeons they were kept in, and brought them to the Farm. The adventurers expressed a desire to seek out this place, and perhaps learn more of their origins and the purposes to which they had been “created”.
They talked thus for several hours, until as evening drew close, Old Man Shadow He expressed happiness for their efforts in the region, and how they seemed to have things well in hand. He wished they might all continue bringing stability to the MapN’Dor, largely taking over the work he had started so many years ago. He excused himself, saying his long absence required him to investigate matters a little closer, and as soon as he could. He promised to keep in touch, and could likely be contacted through either Tiressia or Sylessi, as they would be the first he would visit. He then changed his shape to the form they were most familiar with, taking up a weather-worn staff from the forest, though he still wore the black leathers he had appeared in. He wished them all well, getting another crushing hug from Sweet, and disappeared into the forest depths.
The group discussed matters a bit, and then returned to the seven caged birds they still had. They went to work, with Scales taking up one of the sparrows, breaking the spell on the cage, and then dispelling the magic that had shape changed its occupant. The creature quickly changed into an attractive young maiden, who was quickly convinced to be unafraid of them all, and took a blanket from Sweet. She identified herself as Unwel, a young girl who had been picking flowers in the meadow near her home, a small farm in the Mornhaven Fields, the large spread of small farms that stretches for many miles before the walls of Mornhaven. She was less than helpful in describing exactly where she had lived, but could identify several minor landmarks, such as a mill and the names of several neighbors.
Next, a songbird was chosen, with Scales breaking the enchantment on another cage before running out of spells. The group gathered back about the fire, raised high against the mounting snow around them, and settled into quiet sleep. All through the night, the howls of wolves could be heard echoing about the forests nearby, but none of them dared approach the adventurers fire.
3rd of Kelen : The heavy snows of the previous day had lessened into a wet sleet, that continued through the day. The adventurers hunkered closely to their shelter under some fir trees and fire. Eventually, they roused themselves, and taking the dispelled cage up, freed the songbird, and broke the enchantment on it, revealing a noble-looking man in a red robe, with a seemingly wealthy appearance. Extremely well-spoken, he identified himself as Vard the Red, “… a merchant and purveyor of fine goods…”. Explaining he had been waylaid in a side-street of Mornhaven, after a “heated discussion” with three old women about the quality of his goods. After some questioning, he seemed to be fairly honest, but was obviously a smuggler or something similar. He was offered passage back to Mornhaven where he could attempt to reconnect with his contacts and restart his business. Scales, in particular, took an interest in him, discussing financial investment and various market topics, with which both men were quite familiar.
After some time, the group chose another cage, this time holding a crow, and after breaking its protective enchantments, dispelled the magic enspelling its inhabitant, revealing an average-looking man in the worn robes of a mendicant priest, displaying a worn holy symbol of the Bringer of Life Renewed. He described himself as Therik, an itinerant priest, dispensing his mistresses blessings and relics as he traveled about the world.
There was some question as the night progressed, as to Therik’s veracity, particularly as he constantly charmed and flirted with the young maiden Unwel. “Ricochet” gathered the young man up under the premise of gathering more wood, something which several members tried to disprove, but Ric’s history in working with the farmers and huntsmen of Green Dagger Farm was above reproach, so they allowed him, with Kahli following closely after the pair, to keep an eye on Therik.
Ric took him some distance into the woods, and then boldly confronted him on his claims, with Kahli appearing to back up Ric’s interrogation. Kahli demanded he show forth the healing of the Healing Goddess, whereupon Therik called down a LIGHT on the brow of Kahli. Kahli, undaunted, demanded a “real” miracle, whereupon Therik boldly presented his holy symbol of Amalthea and COMMANDED Kahli kneel before the power of his goddess, and accept the miracle, whereupon she dropped to her knees, and Ric whipped out his rapier and demanded the man explain himself. Recognizing he was not being believed as a follower of Amalthea, he finally admitted that he was once a member of that sect, but presently lived a little more “freely”. He was warned away from Unwel, and told to keep to himself, until they made it back to Green Dagger, whereupon he was on his own. If he did anything untoward, his life was forfeit.
Back at camp, Sweet and Scales began explaining just how the world worked, and how Therik was not to be trusted. Her innocent and naive nature became increasingly obvious, and after their discussion, she seemed hammer-struck. Vard spoke with her a little, but the newcomers otherwise were largely quiet for the bulk of the day.
As night grew close, and the group gathered in the shadows of the early evening under the trees, Sweet detected something moving towards the campsite from deeper in the forest. Informing the group, most readied themselves about the campfire, while Scales and “Sprout” slipped into the woods as carefully as they could. The figure strode through the forest with pride, virtually silent and unheard as a 20’-tall female giant, dressed in worn leathers approached the camp. She nodded at Scales, and then entered the small clearing around their camp, to openly reveal herself.
She asked after the adventurers, inquiring as to their names and purposes in the forest, and after hearing their explanation, introduced herself. She was Gwatholyn, the protector of this forest, and had chosen to reveal herself and determine the adventurer’s purposes, because they seemed like they intended to stay awhile. When asked, she explained that she guarded the region against intrusions into the nearby ruins of Pyrestone, a place that no one was allowed to enter, lest they disturb things best left alone. Although teh adventurers were intrigued by this so-called Pyrestone, they recognized they should leave well enough alone.
None recognized the giant, nor her name, but they assured her their intention to leave the forests the next day, and return home. She acknowledged their promise, and bid them safe journey, quickly vanishing once more into the woodlands, almost without disturbing the trees and ground, and almost without sound. The group had a short discussion regarding this creature, and then settled in for a good night’s rest.
4th of Kelen : The weather refused to let up, with sleet and chill winds drifting through the forest, and everyone was slow to get moving, readying their morning meals of cold rations with disgust. Eventually, the group gathered about Kahli, including their three freed individuals, and she enacted the powers of The Elder Scroll, teleporting the group back outside Mistress Idara’s shrine, returning the group to Thornkeep.
The group headed to Green Forest Inn taking rooms for Unwel and Vard to stay with until the 10th when the caravan would head to Mornhaven. Their expenses were taken care of by the adventurers, with Scales giving Vard an additional 50 gp “investment” and made arrangements to meet with him again when he traveled to Mornhaven, choosing to contact him through the Mangai in Mornhaven, once Vard had re-established himself. Therik was given a few coins and told to make himself scarce.
Bresal returned to the Goldenfire Order to gather the required components to summon Callum again, and left word with Timber, the Order’s scribe regarding his return to the region.
The group then took up their horses once more from the Green Forest’s stable, and headed back to Green Dagger Farm. They travelled through the ill-favored roads, noticing the route to Halted-Stream Camp bore some sledge marks, hinting at work beginning again for the season at the iron mine. The route from the turn-off to their farm was difficult to pass, and somewhat slippery, but they made it back to the farm without incident. They quickly entered the manor hall, and embraced by the warmth and fine smells of cooking stew, as well as the welcome of the nearly twenty or so inhabitants, settled back into the welcoming comfort of their home.
The group was informed that the unknown fey house spirit had been carefully conducting repairs and cleaning efforts on behalf of the inhabitants. Mistress Vesina noted it had done many repairs on the farmers and guards clothing, a task at which it seemed unusually capable. The Wolf Berries had stopped disappearing, and the nightly offerings of wine, cream and other treats had begun to disappear in their stead. The house spirit, whatever it was, seemed happy. No one had seen it, though they had all been careful to try.
After a real (and warm) meal, the group convened out along the path to the Fallen Tower Vaults, near the so-called “Torso Heap”, where they had buried the bandits that had attacked the manor early in their residency. Tamping down a spot near the mound, they brought forth another cage, this time a small nightingale, and breaking the enchantment on the cage, dispelled the magic of the bird, revealing a dark, young man, naked and shivering in the cold. He called the adventurers hags, and after being convinced of their desire to help (and a blanket from Sweet), revealed himself to be Master Dyr Darknight, the long-missing son of a local man. Notably, the adventurers noticed his rough eye patch, and dark tattoos drawn about his body, bearing eldritch symbols that hinted at dark rituals.
Master Dyr revealed he had fallen in the bandit fight in which he was last engaged, and that he had taken his loss of an eye from a crossbow bolt. He next remembered being in a cave somewhere, and that he was tortured and a coven of hags had drawn these symbols on him, before turning him into the bird he was. He had been in his nightingale form for six years. He was led to the mothalla, given some rough clothing and settled in with a warm meal, before the group returned to the torso heap.
This time, another crow was chosen, and after its enchantments were dispelled, it was revealed to be a Dire Wolf! The monstrous beast immediately began backing away from the group, growling and snarling, before the adventurers closed with it and began beating on it. Kahli called out to subdue the beast, rather than kill it, and so while Sweet slowly charged forward, Ric swiftly slipped behind the beast and cut it off from fleeing, while the rest hammered in on the beast, quickly subduing it.
Several huntsmen were summoned, who exclaimed on the fine fur on the creature, but they were instructed to put away their skinning knives, and to tie the creature up, and deposit it in in the pit formerly holding Frisky and Skuttle. They did so, dropping the unconscious beast into the pit, and securing the top. Kahli suddenly realized she had access to the Animal Friendship spell from The Elder Scroll. Noting it for the future, she suddenly thought about domesticating the beast…
Taking another break, the group gathered again at the mothalla, and talked about their plans. Sprout went to his personal space in the mothalla, and set about summoning Callum once more, who immediately begged for treats. Kahli and Sweet returned to the Vaults, and everyone settled in for the night, and slept well.
5th of Kelen : Waking in the warmth and comfort of their homes, the adventurers woke early, dealing with armor maintenance and replenishing their supplies from the farm’s stores. By the morning light, they gathered at the torso heap again, and broke the enchantment on the last two cages, as well as breaking the enchantments on their denizens.
The first, was a crow revealed to be a suspicious young man in padded cloth armor and a dark cloak, that the adventurers quickly determined was a pickpocket or something benign, having chosen to pick the wrong pocket. Scales took an interest in him, and talked privately with him for a bit, before returning to the last cage.
The second cage occupant was revealed to be a centaur named Rysal. A tall, noble-seeming creature, he was a knight of the Celestial Paladin, beholden to the local order in Mornhaven, who had been hunting a rumored hag in the woods near the city. The group took him back to the mothalla, and settled him in the stables, where he quickly struck up a conversation with Shadowmist. He was informed of the caravan on the 10th, and asked if he could help take charge over Unwel, which he enthusiastically accepted.
The group then gathered four (4) Huntsmen together, asking them to ready the mothalla’s oxen and the best cart for their planned trip to Mosswater. Supplies were gathered, and the group bundled Dyr Darknight into the cart along with the huntsmen, and they headed out only an hour past sunrise.
The trip to Thornkeep was difficult, but as the group had horses and the oxen plodding through the snow paths, they were able to make the village only a few hours later. They traveled past the Green Forest Inn, dropping off the new former prisoners, GUrion and Rysal, the latter of whom quickly took charge of the young maiden, Unwel. The group then visited Goldenfire Order’s tower, meeting with Iliara Starcloak, and asking her to record the various arcane/divine symbols marked on Dyr’s flesh. After about an hour, they then moved on to visit Darknight Manor, and return the local master’s long-lost son. After a tearful reunion, the group was given warmed cider and offered to stay for a feast, but they declined, as they needed to continue travel on towards Mosswater. The good master understood, but he offered himself and his folk, who were well-armed and prepared against banditry, should the group ask for help in some local matter.
Moving on along the well-traveled path to Sandpoint Logging Camp, they continued onward down the rough, snow-covered path north to Mosswater. The ox set the pace, plodding through the heavy snow of the trail implacably despite the toughness. They passed by Echo Cleft, and after a brief halt, continued on towards Mosswater, reaching the heights over-looking the town early in the evening, as darkness was descending.
The deepening gloom hid much of the town’s details, and the thick mists that billowed in off Candlemere Lake obscured the coastline. The rise of the cairns stood in contrast from the forests around it, and the Law Rocks stood distinctly above the town. Of note, the green glowing witchlights above the castle continued, and a notable series of fires had been started around the edge of the central town buildings; the very place the adventurers had slain a band of gnolls several months ago.
Hiding the cart, its tired ox, the huntsmen, Kahli and Scales, in the cover of the nearby woodlands, off the trail, Ric, Sweet and Bresal all headed down the woodland path that traveled around the western edge of the Cairns, passing through the unknown burned-out manor behind it, and reached the lower portion of the town, near the soapstone quarry. The old inn that had stood here, once held a dozen gnolls, but their corpses, abandoned by the adventurers where they slew them, were missing, and all their goods had been taken.
Deciding on a plan, they sent Callum off to scout the intruders in the old ruins of the local Mangai Hall, who quickly slipped over the bridge and disappeared for some minutes. After perhaps half an hour, as darkness completely settled on the town, Callum returned, and reported back to Bresal, relating that there were “many, many brutish, smelly creatures”, as well as “some bigguns, and one big-biggun”. Deciding they faced a band of orcs (?), some ogres, and possibly a giant of some sort, the adventurers took their leave of the ruined lower part of town, and returned back through the hidden path to the rest of the group.
The adventurers reported in what they encountered, as well as the missing corpses and equipment, and given the tired nature of their ox and horses, thought about finding a place for the night. Their first choice of Cold Springs was unavailable, given its access was limited to passage through Mosswater. They decided to retreat back a short distance to a ruined farm they had seen along the main road, taking refuge in its remaining walls, and stabling their horses and ox in its ruined barn. Although packed in, the animals wouldn’t wander, and could stay warm together. Although Bresal noticed there were tracks of a large-sized rat, weasel or similar rodent having searched through the location in the last day or so, he doubted it would return any time soon.
The adventurers and huntsmen started a small warming fire for melting snow and keeping the night’s chill and snow away, and settled in for the night as best they might, with one huntsman taking guard service with an adventurer, and checking on the animals through the night, in turn. Night covered the land, and the notorious mists of Mosswater rose thick on the land.