Thieves & Kings

Episode 45 - Shiver and Shake

“Generals gathered in their masses
just like witches at black masses.
Evil minds that plot destruction,
sorcerer of death’s construction.”

https://youtu.be/mZBDq2txWos

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Episode 44 - Ashes to Ashes....

“You hate because you are scared, and you fear because you don’t understand.”

https://youtu.be/zGa8t9SuS2k

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Episode 43 - Trail of the Banderhobb

“You not only are hunted by others, you unknowingly hunt yourself.”

https://youtu.be/PY-BvPriIBo

Synopsis : Travelling deeper into the Labyrinth of Ghul, the group retires to the Creche for a long rest, and then continues along the confusing passages beneath the city of Mornhaven. They encounter a pack of its namesake ghouls, though they also get the feeling they are being watched, hearing a disembodied chuckle at the end of the fight. They encounter another of teh vast cisterns caverns, and wind about for miles, passing through a rubble-filled section of the Labyrinth, with miles of empty store-houses and cisterns.

Eventually they encounter a fortification spanning a deep ravine, and sack the closest portion, capturing its defenders unawares with the sudden assault. They fight ogres, bestial orcs, and discover the place to be known as the Horned Hold, an outpost of the salver/trader duergar clan known as the “Glimmerjewels”. They rescue more than a dozen slaves from the pits of the fort they attacked, discovering the other portions of the fortress across the ravine to be an armory/forge, and where the bulk of their forces are housed. Taking thousands of gold and platinum coins, and a curious dwarven key, the Key to the Dark Door, they spend several days hiking the slaves out of the Labyrinth, bringing them to the surface and freedom, and spend the night in “The Ghostly Minstrel”, resting and hearing more news about the rising Shiver threat. They also find out that a local Magistrate, one Tavran, a name they had heard was investigating the Chaos Cults, had inquired after the adventurers, seeking an audience.

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30th of Kelen, Evening (?), The Labyrinth of Ghul :

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Episode 42 - The Labyrinth of Ghouls

“Sarah, beware. I have been generous up ‘til now. I can be cruel. Everything that you wanted I have done. You asked that the child be taken. I took him. You cowered before me, I was frightening. I have reordered time. I have turned the world upside down, and I have done it all for you! I am exhausted from living up to your expectations. Isn’t that generous?”

https://youtu.be/5hRTjLd3iQ8

Synopsis : The tale in which the adventurers invest in researching the various names they have discovered in their session with Polina of Quaan, deciding to hire the Mage’s Guild of Mornhaven to do the work, trading another of their Floatchests away. After a day of following various personal agendas, the adventurers descend into the depths of the Labyrinth of Ghouls, and after passing through the “Hall of Seven Gates”, discover the place where they were all raised, a room they know simply as “The Creche”. Strange symbols are carved into a handful of cribs in a back part of the chambers, each matching one of Shared Dreams they all possess, but they notice there are seven (7) cribs, hinting at one other individual they do not remember…

The adventurers are attacked by a pair of large toad-like beasts, that fixate on Bresal and Scales, the two who were casting rituals at teh time. One nearly abducts Bresal, swallowing him and tries to run away, though he is saved by a group effort to slay the beast before it escapes. Noting the direction the beast was headed, the group begins traversing down past the Deep Stair, ever deeper into the Labyrinth, encountering a vast cistern cavern, a massive carved chamber filled with crypts, and an off sigil on one corridor that hints at it leading off to the legendary Daer’Naga, the City of Pedestal. They also encounter a mad dwarf calling himself “King Thain” and his crazy minions, who demand the adventurer’s obedience, though he is quickly subdued and his minions mostly slain.

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29th of Kelen, Evening, The Adventurer’s Quarter“The Ghostly Minstrel” :

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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

Synopsis : A tale in which the advantruers assault the Tolling Tower, fighting a naga, a basilisk, and several mercenaries led by an unknown war priest, who escapes them. They recover several more Goldwood RIngs, and capture many of the mercenaries, interrogate them, and free them. The group reports on their discoveries to Lalaith, who uses a Leend Lore scroll to uncover the mantra about the Goldwood Rings, finding them to be keys to a dark pact, and the unknown Pactlords of the Quaan. Lalaith then gets them in contact with a refugee from this unknown “Quaan”, Polina who answers many of their questions regarding the place, though much of her tale is wreathed in myth and taken from her perspective. As their questioning slows, they ask for some of the names of the Pactlords, and she relates the most ancient of the Pactlords that she is aware of, naming; Maeritha Moonrise, Charch-Pahn, Father Claw, and the one name they are familiar with; Thornruin, the author of The Elder Scroll.

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26th of Kelen : The Adventurer’s Quarter, Mornhaven : “The Ghostly Minstrel” :

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“A frightful place became the Quaan,
Where the Pactlords plot and scheme beyond,
To thwart and destroy the mortal race,
To strive to keep their rightful place.
Pactlords and their slaves must always bear,
The circle of wood that you also wear.
The Font of the Pact does see you well
Whether boon or curse, only time will tell.”

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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

Synopsis : After some personal inquiries and business, the adventurers investigate the mysterious “Tolling Tower”, sneaking in and poking about, but finding no denizens. The Goldwood RIng and Nann’s Bone Ring both point to a strange location just off the upper points of the tower, and confound the adventurers. The group does a little research on the Tower, finding something of its original purposes and history as a “Toll Tower” for Phaedran flying ships, decides to invest in some scrolls for divining, and spend a couple days scrying the tower, eventually discovering a band of mercenaries to reside there, and that they have a captive merchant, forcing the adventurers to strike back against them sooner to ensure his safety.

24th of Kelen, Adventurer’s Quarter“Ghostly Minstrel” :

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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

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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.

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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”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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