Birthright: Rise of the Kingmakers

Session 26: Liberating the platinum... mine
August 11-12, 561 H.C.

Present: Brian, Jess, Ken, Ron, Jen, John; Absent: Dave

Current Goal: capture and hold a fort in the Esmersdan province of Kiergard until the Prince’s men can arrive to reinforce it (approximately August 17).

Secondary Goal: (as quested by The Gorgon’s Wife) find and destroy/disable the temple to Azrai and fortress used by The Eyeless One in the Dark Roads of Kiergard.

Last Session Recap: after meeting with and joining up with Jayanti & Lvarien, the newcomers explained they had escaped capture by a group of Gorgon-controlled villagers. During a short-lived escape attempt by the orogs, Jayanti displayed her substantial combat spell-casting powers. Back on the surface, the group found that the elven queen and The Gorgon’s Wife had left. But The Little Girl was there, and she interrogated the orogs sufficiently: they explained that the “main” dark road lead to a ravine where surface-dwellers grew crops for The Eyeless One’s troops. The ravine evidently had “stones that were not to be touched”, indicating a potential entrance to the temple to Azrai that the group was searching for. The orogs also indicated that The Eyeless One’s fortress was beyond the ravine. Jayanti and Lvarien’s map showed this, to some extent. The next morning, Johan departed on orders from The Little Girl, taking his share of the loot. The group headed back into the dark roads, working past various obstacles, eventually running into the dwarves that Jayanti and Lvarien had partnered with when they escaped from the evil villagers.

Game date: August 11, 561 (Brecht)

A dwarf named Hayer Anvilbeard came to discuss the group’s intentions. After some review, the dwarf was not keen on helping this group of human adventurers. But Lvarien felt strongly that the group should go and “shut down” the platinum mine that the Gorgon’s orogs were using to fund The Eyeless One’s plans. Hayer was eventually convinced to loan a few of his sappers to help block off the mine after the group had rid the place of its orog guards.

After Hayer left, Lvarien noted that he had placed a special mirror in the scribe’s bag before she left. He explained that the mirror was enchanted to capture the things going on around it – though he wasn’t sure of the detail on how it worked. He managed to convince a dwarf servant to take him to the scribe so he could try to get it back. With a clever bit of distraction, he retrieved it unbeknownst to the scribe.

Jayanti spent a long while praying and performing various rituals, and then informed the group that she needed some extended rest to prepare for the coming day’s events. Evidently she was preparing a significant blessing for herself that would bolster all of her abilities.

That night, during Vendar’s and Jenneken’s watch, the woodsman got a strange sensation. Reaching out with his special connection to the environment, he could sense a building tension. Jayanti awoke suddenly, disturbed by bad dreams. Jenneken’s magic ring – the one attuned to magic ley lines – felt oddly warm. Nick awoke Almira to ask her what was going on. After some magical inspection, she explained that some powerful force was actively moving the ley line in the area. Fighting through a painful headache caused by the magical disturbance, Jayanti explained that The Eyeless One did have some magical powers, but would probably need help to pull off a feat like moving a ley line. Sadly, the disturbance ruined her blessing enchantment that she was working on earlier.

Game date: August 12, 561 (Brecht)

After resting, Darryl – the dwarf the Jayanti and Lvarien escaped with a few days earlier – and a few dwarven sappers arrived to join the group in attempting to take over and sealing off the platinum mines.

With the dwarves leading the way, it took about half a day to make their way from the hidden dwarven stronghold to the entrance to the platinum mines, a bit slower than expected due to Lvarien’s and Almira’s troubles navigating through some small and twisty passages.
Jayanti explained how the slaves in the mine were organized, as this was where she and Lvarien were taken after being captured on the surface. Lvarien explained there were several dozen prisoners, but were unsure about the number of guards – he didn’t see very many when they were there before.

Heading toward the food storage area the group slowed as they began to hear activity ahead. Nick crept ahead and saw several bedraggled miners working at a platinum vein. Jenneken went ahead and convinced the workers that the jerky she shared with them had “mushroom dust” on it, harmless other than causing hallucinations. The workers bought the story and didn’t seem to care about the large cat, ghost-form Almira, and other less-than-ordinary party members that sauntered by a short while later.

A bit further along there was a large cave with many workers toiling away. Rather than spinning another tale, Almira dropped her ghost spell and Vendar returned to his human form. Even so, many of the workers took notice of the odd group and mumbled amongst themselves. Lvarien approached them and told them that he and his companions intended to set them free, causing a small bit of excitement.

Moving toward the secure area where the food was kept, the group prepared to confront the orog guards. After Almira and Jayanti cast several enhancements and protection spells on themselves and the others, the companions charged into the room…

With Almira spider-climbing along the ceiling, the rest of the group charged across the floor to the doors that they thought led to the orog guards. When Nick reached the doors (after a deft leap over a row of carts), two giant spiders appeared with a flash of light!

Despite suffering poisonous bite from one of the creatures, Jayanti managed to respond with a scimitar slice that severed several of the spider’s legs. Lvarien then stepped up and finished off the creature with his longsword. Lion-Vendar tried to pounce on the other spider, but couldn’t grapple the nimble vermin. From the ceiling Almira released several of her meteor-like projectiles, badly burning the spider by Vendar. Jayanti stepped over and drove her scimitar into the creature’s thorax, killing it.

From her position on the ceiling, Almira noticed a hole there, smelling of sulphur. After she yelled a warning, the door by Nick opened a bit and two crossbow bolts flew out at Jayanti, effectively canceling her shielding charm.

Two more giant spiders appeared, one on the ceiling by Almira and Lvarien. Almira managed to avoid the creature’s fangs, and then blasted the monster with some of her mini-meteors. Lvarien was bitten, and strong poison coursed into his blood. Jayanti hopped over to cast a quick healing spell on her partner, allowing Lvarien to slash the spider’s head, killing it.
Nick and Lion-Vendar struggled to open the levered door, but couldn’t overpower whatever was holding it shut. Just behind them, streams of hot embers poured from holes in the ceiling, splashing near Lvarien and Jenneken. Both managed to jump out of the way, narrowly escaping the burning coals.

Summoned monsters continued to appear, this time two giant rats. Both appeared next to Lion-Vendar. He avoided one of their snapping jaws, but the other latched on painfully. Almira came to the rescue again, burning one of the rats with her flaming mini-meteors and toppling it over.

Having finally managed to get the door open, a giant, club-weilding orog appeared in entryway. Nimbly dodging the brute’s club, Nick chopped at with his shadow axe but was rebuffed by the creature’s heavy armor. True to her dedication to the god of battle, Jayanti bellowed a battle cry and charged at the orog with her scimitar, finding a gap in the creature’s arm armor.

Lion-Vendar managed to turn and pounce on the remaining giant rat, pinning it to the ground. Another gout of burning coals poured from the holes in the ceiling, but most of the group was bunched around the door fighting the giant orog so it did little to harm the heroes.

Nick’s axe once again bounced off the giant orog’s armor, but Jayanti found better luck. Still crazed with battle-lust, her blessed scimitar bit deeply through the brute’s armor, causing it to bleed badly. She was rewarded with two crossbow bolts aimed her way, both of which were mostly turned aside by her armor. The one that did make it through burned strangely, indicating some kind of poison.

Gray tentacles shout out from behind the giant orog, grasping at Nick and Jayanti. The lad side-stepped the sticky strands and though grabbed, the paladin quickly broke free. Nick distracted the giant orog just enough to allow Jayanti to finish it off.

The group started to pour into the room beyond the levered door, hoping to avoid the assault from the orogs that were firing at them from an opening in the far wall. Nick charged in, avoiding the tentacles, chopping at one of the orogs in the front. It cried out as it tumbled to the floor. Jayanti also tried to charge in, but this time the gray tentacles bound her fast.
Vendar resumed his human form for a moment, then changed into his small owl form, allowing him to fly over the tentacles and land near the door that hopefully lead to the room where the orogs where fighting from. Jennken cast a spell, causing a rainbow burst of ribbons to envelop Jayanti. The paladin was boosted with an extra measure of strength, allowing her to break free from the grasping tentacles.

As Nick stumbled while trying to crawl through the hole into where the orogs were, a massive creature of fire appeared in the room amidst the heroes. Lvarien and Almira were terrified and fled, Jenneken and Jayanti were concerned but not afraid, and Vendar noticed that the flaming incarnation didn’t smell right – an illusion?

As Nick got into the far room and back on his feet, Jayanti scrambled around the tentacles and moved to the door that led to the orogs. Owl-Vendar flew through the fire creature, crying out, “It’s not real!” Jayanti was still not convinced, but the others saw through the phantasm.

Nick and one of the orogs traded blows, with Nick’s armor turning aside the brute’s heavy mace. The lad’s axe fared better with its blow, chopping hard into the orog’s armor. With various encouragements from her companions, Jayanti finally saw through the fire-creature illusion and used her renewed focus to break through the door.

As Nick, Jayanti and Lvarien moved to engage the orogs in the small back room, Vendar and Jenneken moved to climb a flight of stairs that led up and turned to enter a room above. With a low mumble from one of the orogs, the entire area was plunged into darkness. Jayanti quickly responded with a spell of her own, calling light from her holy symbol. Lavarien continued to struggle to make solid contact with his longsword, but Nick landed a deep chop on one of the orogs, killing it.

As owl-Vendar and Jenneken climbed the darkened stairs, they suddenly found the stairwell full of sticky webs. Vendar managed to avoid the strands, and Jenneken was also able to struggle her way through. She also pulled her “dark flame” torch from her pouch, defeating the summoned darkness.

Using her targeting spell from her position on the ceiling, Almira managed a glory shot with her crossbow, spearing an orog’s weapon from its hand. Nick and Jayanti continued to hack into the orogs, eventually killing the last of them.

In the upper room, Jenneken saw several shackled humans shoveling hot coals from smelters into holes in the floor. Vendar noticed a flickering in the far corner of the room, but couldn’t spot anything specific. Jenneken used her glitter spell where Vendar indicated, but nothing was revealed. They noticed a heavily bared and locked door adjacent to the stairwell.

Lvarien burned the webs out of the stairwell with a torch, and owl-Vendar flew back down to the main floor to check for any activity. He noticed a different set of doors slightly ajar. Flying up to the doors, he heard the sound of fast-paced fading footsteps. Flying carefully behind, he saw a slim human holding a staff running down a low, narrow passageway. Vendar flew back to his companions to inform them then returned to his pursuit.
The fleeing wizard had disappeared to the far side of a doorway at the end of the tunnel. Almira conjured her portal through the door, with Jenneken immediately barreling through. Ducking to one side, she lobbed another glitter spell, covering the slim human – and another – with sparkling dust. Nick charged in next, quickly decapitating the shaman’s cohort. Lvarien entered and called out, “You can throw down your weapon or you can die.” The shaman responded by tossing a flask at the group, which promptly exploded into a fireball. Everyone but Lvarien managed to dodge aside, but his armor shielded him from most of the blast.

Nick, his axe ready to strike, shouted, “What should I do?!” Jenneken shouted, “Knock him out!!” With a single deft blow from the flat of Nick’s axe, the shaman crumpled to the ground.

Each member gains 6 Character points!

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Session 25: There and back again
August 10-11, 561 H.C.

Present: Brian, Jess, Ken, Ron, Jen, John; Absent: Dave

Current Goal: capture and hold a fort in the Esmersdan province of Kiergard until the Prince’s men can arrive to reinforce it (approximately August 17).

Last Session Recap: when told of the spider pendants, the elf queen and The Gorgon’s Wife were very concerned. The Gorgon’s Wife re-animated the dead goblins and dead orogs to question them, and learned that The Eyeless One had intended to spread the spider pendants across the major cities in Massenmarch and Kiergard to create a massive army of undead. The Gorgon’s Wife was also upset that The Eyeless One managed to avoid the “summons” to be at the fae circle – where he was to be trampled by The Boar of Thuringode. She then sent the group back into the dark roads to find The Eyeless One’s base of operations and temple to Azari, both necessary for whatever plan he was hatching. Armed with “darklight” torches for stealth, the group followed tracks indicating activity and found some orog slavers lording over some goblins. After freeing the goblins the group debated how to proceed before deciding to take their orog prisoners back to The Gorgon’s Wife for questioning.

Game date: August 10, 561 (Brecht)

After hearing sounds of water coming from the sunken cavern, Nick heard someone coming up the passage from that direction. It was two Khinasi humans, one was an armored female holding aloft a glowing symbol and the other was a muscular male wearing leather armor and wielding a longsword. Almira used her Ghost spell and approached, causing the woman to cast a spell at her. Having no effect, the woman cast another spell on her companion’s blade. Almira decided to take a chance and dropped her spell, calling out a greeting in Khinasi.

The two strangers explained they had been following a map but had gotten lost. The woman said that her temple (of Cuiraecen) had sent her to The Dark Roads to prevent the forces of Azrai from being resurrected there. They had been captured by some villagers sympathetic to The Gorgon, but managed to escape with the help of some dwarves.

The woman’s name was Jayanti, and the the man’s name was Lvarien.

When they group got close to where they passed the orog guard station, Jayanti cast an aid spell on Nick so he could sneak ahead and check things out. He returned to report that the goblins and the orog guard had killed each other in combat.

Almira cast her portal spell to get past the choke-spore mushrooms and the gate, and the group started to go through. But when only Nick and Vendar had passed through their orog prisoners decided to revolt. One grabbed Vendar, but the woodsman quickly changed into his large cat form causing the orog to squeal in fear. Jayanti, wearing glowing black leather gloves, punched at one of the orogs but didn’t seem to hurt it through its armor.

While the others stood momentarily confused, Jayanti summoned a bolt of lightning and seriously wounded one of the orogs. Vendar pounced on the one that had grabbed him. Still in her pirate/tough-guy guise, Jenneken shouted, “Wait! Listen! The spirits are coming!” The sound of many ghostly voices could be heard coming from the passage behind them. Thoroughly frightened, the orogs re-surrendered and agreed to quickly resume their march back toward the surface.

After several hours of uneventful travel, the group safely arrived back at the spiral stairs that led up to the watchtower where The Gorgon’s Wife was presumably waiting for them. In the waning daylight, the group was surprised to find that the tower was gone, with only the bear pit remaining.

Nick spotted some of the royal elven guards watching from hidden locations some distance away. Pirate-Jenneken went with Nick and discovered that the queen and The Gorgon’s Wife had left. But the Little Girl was still there. After explaining their activities, the Little Girl took one of the orogs to an abandoned building for questioning. After the sound of terrible screaming, she emerged dragging a badly wounded orog. This sight was sufficient incentive for the other orogs to spill the beans.

They said that the main dark road beneath them went to a ravine where humans grew food for The Eyeless One. The passage would lead to a garrison where the orogs were stationed. From there, it continued to the ravine and then on to The Eyeless One’s main fortress. The ravine held stones that were not to be touched, and led toward a side passage (seemingly a likely passage to a hidden temple…)

Jayanti and Lvarien had a map from the dwarves that showed how the dark roads lead around this ravine, providing the group a better chance at finding The Eyeless One’s fortress and the temple to Azrai he hopes to use. It seemed the two Khinasi had met up with the group along this road before running into the garrison – but how had they missed the ravine?

The group settled down for the night, each group catching the other up on the details of their recent adventures. Jayanti explained that some thieves had tricked those at her abbey and had stolen some books that had references to Azrai, and thus her quest. Lvarien dodged questions about his motivations. Vendar, Jenneken and Almira took turns talking about their adventures on Caelcorwynn Island and the similarities to the current situation with respect to temples to Azrai and slave-making insect pendants.

Before nightfall, Vendar checked in with the local wildlife to see what they knew about recent events. The forest critters had little useful news, but did speak of the bear and dire wolf the group had released, and how the animals displaced from the plains around the fae circle were getting desperate to return home.

Game date: August 11, 561 (Brecht)

Before dawn, during Jenneken and Johan’s watch, the Little Girl elf magically appeared and said she needed to speak with Johan. Afterward their private conversation, Johan woke up Almira and told her that he was being instructed to leave to assist The Gorgon’s Wife in investigating The Eyeless One’s plans with the spider charms. After taking his share of the loot, he walked off into the forest with the Little Girl and disappeared.
After eating, the group returned to the dark roads, retracing their steps from the prior day. Having made it to the guard post, kitty-Vendar snuck forward to find several orogs using spore-spreader devices like the one they found in the tower. They were building up the protective mushrooms near the gates, taking care to make the coverage too large for Almira’s portal spell to span.

Almira used her Ghost spell to change Nick, and the lad went ahead to try and scare the orogs. But he came back a short while later to report that the orogs weren’t afraid. Instead, they produced a pot that was emitting some kind of vapor cloud. Jayanti said it sounded like a “ghost root” brew, an herbal concoction whose vapors repelled spirits.

Jayanti, servant of Cuiraecen The Reckless, was ready to charge in. Nick was all for the direct approach, too. With no alternatives presenting themselves, the less aggressive party members agreed.

Jayanti stepped around the corner and threw a lightning bolt down the passageway, blasting the checkpoint gate into smithereens. The flash of light triggered the mushrooms and the spores filled the passageway. Jenneken retrieved her Gust of Wind wand and began pushing the spores toward the orogs that had hunkered down in the checkpoint area.
As the group waited behind the slow moving spores, the orogs shot their crossbows at those of the companions that were in front. Most missed, but one managed to thump painfully into Lvarien’s chest. Vendar changed into his small owl form and flew over the checkpoint, circling back behind the orogs and changing into his large cat form.

With Jayanti having bestowed various blessing on Lvarien’s armor and Nick’s weapon, the lad charged through the spores and barreled into the orogs. His shadow-enchanted axe sliced through one of the orog’s necks, decapitating it quickly. (Duly noted: DM roll for DMed PC (Nick) with 6s on wild die, and 1s on wild die for monster…) Vendar pounced, preventing one of the orogs from fleeing. Jayanti cast another spell, causing one of the guard’s armor to begin to heat painfully.

Nick chopped his axe deeply into another orog, dropping it to the ground, as Jayanti and Lvarien managed to charge through the spores to join him.

One of the orogs fled into the guard shack along the wall as Jayanti’s spell continued to heat the creature’s armor. From her position on the ceiling, Almira disabled the shack’s door lock. Nick charged in to find the shack covered a small alcove where the orog had fled. The guard was trying to retrieve an item from a shelf that was there. Jayanti was close behind, and her scimitar finished off the creature before it could act.

Searching the area and the orog bodies, the only thing of interest found was a note in the orog language. Jayanti managed to decipher the note with a spell: it instructed the orogs about the group of goblins that had been freed and that they should fortify “the waypoint.” One of the orogs had the spore-spreading tube, and three ghost-root brews.

As the others searched through the area, Lvarien pointed out that it was odd that the orogs were prepared to defend against ghosts when it was just the prior day that “Karl” was selling the story about spirits attacking. Jennken wondered if this area was becoming like the area around the temple at Caelcorwynn Island, where zombies arose every night.

Before moving on, Jayanti smashed the signaling horn as safety precaution.

Traveling back to the room where the goblins were working, there was no activity. Almira noticed that the stones around the drain had a spell inscribed on them; some kind of detection spell that would be triggered by contact with water.

Continuing up the passageway where Jayanti and Lvarien had come from before, the group climbed “upstream” and found it harder than their prior journey. The group had to coordinate to make it past some drop-offs and other obstacles. Almira’s ever-useful portal spell was once again a huge boon.

Eventually the group arrived at a large cavern full of massive mushrooms. Jayanti and Lvarien recalled having passed through this way before. Having heard some scuttling about amongst the tops of the huge fungus, the group quickly moved along.
Jayanti noted on their prior trip they had seen a side passageway that they didn’t take before. Noting they did not encounter this ravine they were searching for, it seemed a good option to investigate.

After traveling up the side passageway for some time, Vendar detected the smell of bat guano. Explaining that bats need some way to fly outside to feed, it seemed likely that this route led to the surface somehow. Changing to his small owl form, Almira cast her Ghost spell on him so that the bats could not attack him.

As anticipated, owl-Vendar found a large cave full of bats. Various holes led outside, but flying through one he found that there was no ravine but rather just sparse prairie land.
Returning to the main passageway, Almira continued to help the group traverse various waterfalls and other impediments they encountered along the “main” dark road.

Suddenly, the group was surrounded by armed and armored dwarves. Demanding to know why they were intruding, Lvarien carefully retrieved his lute and played a song from his prior encounters with the stout folk. Recognizing the song, the dwarves relaxed a bit and escorted the adventurers to a room where they would await a meeting with the dwarven elders.

Each member gains 3 Character points!

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Session 24: A Pig in a Poke
August 9-10, 561 H.C.

Present: Brian, Dave, Jess, Ken, Ron. Absent: none!

Current Goal: capture and hold a fort in the Esmersdan province of Kiergard until the Prince’s men can arrive to reinforce it (approximately August 17).

Last Session Recap: Explored the tower, finding a chest with various magic items: a “mushroom gun” (shoots harmful spores), a ring to help sense ley lines, and a wand of stone-to-mud. Released the human and goblin captives, and lured the “guard bear” out of the entrance pit. Through a secret door in the pit a staircase led to a chest protected by toxic mushrooms. Dealt with the shrooms, chest contained a letter, platinum bars, and dozens of silver spider pendants (which might be enchanted). Chased after goblin prisoner in the Dark Roads, but turned back after hearing sounds of a goblin army approaching. Letter unclear on who was buying and who was selling. Next day, a wizard came through the pass, guarded by knights wearing the Gorgon’s symbol. Jenneken, disguised as an orog, convinced them to move along without incident.

Online roleplay recap: Down at the fae ring Vendar met a strange girl causing trouble in the camp. Nick was secretly confronted by the many-voiced sorceress who told him to meet by the pond in the village outside the fort. That night, an elven enchantress (spectacularly) appeared there, and used the pond to create a scrying portal. She summoned a huge boar at the fae ring gate – an awnshegh known as The Boar of Thuringode. There it ravaged the gathered Gorgon’s troops and destroyed the portal. The enchantress (The Autumn Queen?) offered to answer a single question from each of the group. From Vendar, she noted that the group (working for “The Gorgon’s Wife”?!) had been doing much to help the “ongoing struggle”. The elf girl let slip that “Auntie Dorotea” (The Gorgon’s Wife) used the dog and puppies that the group delivered at Coyote Point to help summon The Boar. From Nick, she explained that the many-voiced woman (The Gorgon’s Wife) had been “harassing” Nick in order to help him get stronger. From Jenneken, she explained that Nick’s parents were unknown, the boy having been “rescued” by thugs in Mhowe from his “Shadow World guardian”. From Almira, the queen noted that the events unfolding were part of a larger conflict, a struggle for power.

Game date: August 9, 561 (Brecht)

The elven queen’s men set up for an evening meal some distance from the pond. The water was still acting as a scrying portal to the battle around the fae ring.

Vendar chatted with the “little girl” for a while. He learned that the queen and The Gorgon’s Wife had been planning this event for some time, but that the queen was upset because “one of the bad guys” wasn’t at the fae circle. She wasn’t sure who he was, but knew he lived underground.

Off to one side, the group discussed what had happened and what to do next. After coming to few conclusions, Vendar wandered over to the queen’s “feast” and helped himself (much to this companion’s dismay). Eventually, Johan and Nick joined also. Almira returned to the fort, and Jenneken continued to watch the confrontation through the scrying pond.

Vendar told the queen about the spider pendants, and went the fort to get them from Almira’s magic box. When she saw the spider things, the queen shouted and her guards immediately drew their weapons on the companions present. “Where did you get these!?” she demanded. Vendar explained about the guarded chest and the escaped goblin that went down into the Dark Roads. At this, the queen stormed over to The Gorgon’s Wife, cast a spell to awaken her, and they began arguing in elvish. Johan could catch enough to realize that Dorotea (The Gorgon’s Wife) had not told the queen about the spiders.

The queen and Dorotea confirmed that the spiders are similar to the beetles they encountered on Caelcorwynn Island. That The Eyeless One was willing to pay so much – or distribute them – was very concerning.

After asking about the fate of the orog’s prisoners, The Gorgon’s Wife went and found the bodies and animated several of them so she could ask them questions. (Almira could barely contain her contempt at this use of necromancy.) Johan caught enough to estimate that the goblins sent both the platinum and the spiders to the humans, and the money was to be used to “spread them out”. Dorotea then animated the orog captain’s body. After the interrogation, she then explained that The Eyeless One had intended to send the money and “amulets” (spiders) across the major cities in Massenmarch and Kiergard to create a massive army of undead. Further concerning was news that The Eyeless One managed to resist The Gorgon’s summons to be at the fae circle.

At a simple comment from Nick, The Gorgon’s Wife confirmed that Prince Renerik worked for her.

Dorotea then asked if the group would be willing to go into the Dark Roads to find the locations where The Eyeless One was organizing. She said there should be a fortress where The Eyeless One used as a central base, and also a temple to Azrai. The alterative to this search was to stay and wait for the Prince’s men came to relieve them, as per their original contract.

The group retired to the fort discussed their options, with most being concerned about the dangers of the Dark Road. (While talking, Johan pointed out that They Eyeless One was one of The Gorgon’s children.) Overall, the risks seemed great either way: getting lost, captured, or worse down in the dark roads, or waiting for agents of The Eyeless One to arrive looking for an explanation why his plans hadn’t been put in motion.

The little girl came to the fort door and offered enchanted “dark flame” torches that provided their owner the ability to see in the dark, even though they provided no visible light. She said the group could have them if they agreed to go into the Dark Roads. This seemed enough to convince everyone to take a chance on the mission from The Gorgon’s Wife.

Game date: August 10, 561 (Brecht)

In the morning, the group told The Gorgon’s Wife they had decided to search for The Eyeless One’s fortress and temple. As offered, she provided a case of supplies for exploring underground (details hand-waved).

Preparing to descend into the dark, Almira used her ghost spell to become incorporeal, and Jenneken took the guise of a big, threatening goblin. Everyone was sure to have an Eyeless One medallion, as taken from the orogs that were guarding the fortress.
At first the group followed the same path as when they were pursuing the escaped goblin. At a fork Nick determined a different path was actually more frequently traveled, so they veered that way.

Continuing to follow the more frequently traveled passageways, the tunnel was found to be filled with the choking fungus, and a locked wooden gate. Almira used her portal spell to get the group past the mushrooms and barrier.

A bit further down was a hut built on the side of the passageway, with an orog sentry inside. Jenneken confronted the guard in her big goblin form, completely fooling the sentry. While she spoke to him, the others snuck past.

After passing by another locked gate and stretch of the choking mushrooms, the group could hear activity and voices ahead. Goblin-Jenneken approached to find a ledge overlooking a large cavern below. There were goblins in chains being bullied by orogs. The goblins were quarrying stone blocks and hauling them away for some unknown purpose.
One of the orog guards spotted goblin-Jenneken, and shouted for her to surrender. “Fleeing” back to the group, the guard appeared only to be quickly knocked out by the flat of Nick’s axe. Jenneken changed to look like the orog guard, and Nick donned the rain cloak from the fort. Orog-Jenneken led fake-prisoner Nick down into the pit, where he jumped one of the guards and flattened him. Lion-Vendar charged into the room, tackling the other orog guard to the ground. Ghost-Almira entered the room, throwing the goblin slaves into hysterics.
After Nick ran over to knock unconscious the other orog, Jenneken reverted to her big goblin disguise, complete with shiny armor severed orog heads on her belt. (“I am Targ from Blarg on a holy quest!”) The slaves quickly bowed to this powerful leader and his loyal, if unusual, companions.

Checking the passageways leading from the pit, one passageway was found to have been blocked. A small trickle of water was coming through the blocks. The group quickly determined that the lower cavern area could be flooded, with a pier available from the ledge where the group entered.

Goblin-Jenneken asked the slaves about what was happening, and they explained a large goblin city was being surrounded by orogs that were attacking them. The orogs were also working to dig out a hidden temple, using goblin slaves to perform manual labor and as sacrifices in horrible rituals. A few of the goblins had gone to the surface to seek help, but they didn’t return.

Another passageway led from the cave, and the slaves said it led to a large orog fortress. The group was hopeful that was one of the structures The Gorgon’s Wife was looking for. They then asked about the blocked passageway, and the slaves said that the water there would flood the pit a few feet deep, but could drain down a hole that was presently blocked.
After some discussion, the group decided they needed to continue on rather than escorting the goblins back to their city. The goblins went back the way the group had come, readying themselves to confront the lone orog guard, bolstered by the weapons taken from their former captors.

After releasing the waters to flood the cavern, the group turned to question the captured orog slavers.

See the MAP tab for Johan’s map of the Dark Road

Each member gains 6 Character points for an exceptional BSOLRP!
Each member gains 5 Character points!

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Session 23: Defending the Fort
August 5-8, 561 H.C.

Present: Brian, Dave, Jess, Ken, Ron; Absent: none!

Current Goal: capture and hold a fort in the Esmersdan province of Kiergard until the Prince’s men can arrive (approximately August 17) to reinforce it.

Last Session Recap: Vendar scouted the town near the fairy ring and learned that the Gorgon was sending troops and a wizard to deal with the gate; using Almira’s ghost spell, group scouted the village by the tower and learned it was deserted but guarded by orogs; decided to attack the tower immediately after ghost-Jenneken was spotted by a sentry; defeated the orogs and their summoned minions, thereby freeing captured caravaneers and goblins .

Game date: August 5, 561 (Brecht)

Almira examined the gate to the tower and determined that the spell was a ward that would shock anyone trying to open it that didn’t have some kind of disabling device. Checking the orog corpses, the group found that each had the same symbol burned into their palms. Nick chopped off one of their hands and safely opened the tower gate with it.

Vendar changed into his small owl form and flew around the interior of the tower. There was a small ledge around the outer edge, but the middle of the floor was a deep pit. A ladder on the far side led up. At the bottom of the pit was a huge bear milling around amid a layer of bones and other remains from its apparent victims. Seeing the collar around its neck, Vendar noted this was likely the huge bear he saw near their campsite the other night.

As the group entered the tower, the bear became enraged and lunged up the side of the pit, but could not reach them. Vendar thought this level of aggression was unnatural – perhaps the collar was causing it?

Up the ladder was single large room with bunks, chests and various supplies. Almira restocked her crossbow bolts, and the group put the orog’s crossbows in their magic crystal box. Four double bunks implied room for 8 soldiers, but Nick counted only 7 orogs they killed, including the shaman.In two of the chests was brass medallions worked with an eyeless skull symbol. Almira confirmed they weren’t enchanted. Jenneken recalled stories of a military commander under The Gorgon known as “The Eyeless One” that was sometimes depicted with an eyeless skull.

Half-way up the next ladder was a storeroom that had been converted to a living space. It was more nicely decorated than the barracks and included two chests and a desk with a chair. One of the huge carpets in the middle snored and rolled over – a dire wolf! Vendar noticed that it was irritable likely due to mistreatment and malnourishment. Nick tossed it the severed hand, which it quickly ate. While Vendar kept an eye on the distracted wolf, Nick searched the room. Nick found that the chests were locked, and had no luck picking them. He noticed that one had a needle trap. Vendar called to Almira to come up and use her unlocking spell. The woodsman kept the wolf calm while Almira easily unlocked the chests. Jenneken and Johan came up as well.

Inside one chest was a thick book, apparently some kind of journal but undecipherable. There was also a fancy hand mirror. The other chest contained a ring, a wand, and a crystal flask containing a strange mushroom. Vendar thought the mushroom produced harmful spores. Johan noticed the flask was enchanted with a wind-type spell, likely to direct the mushroom’s spores. Almira determined that the wand could be used to make non-living things become very pliable – including rock. Jenneken thought the ring was used to help wizards find ley lines – invisible “streams” of arcane power.

In the desk were several papers and a book. Jenneken determined many of the papers were letters to a “Malik”, instructing him to move his tower to a location to protect the “dark road”. Another letter spoke of the captured goblins, instructing Malik to hold them until the author arrived in a few weeks. This letter was dated less than a week ago. Johan looked at the letter and thought he noticed signs of an embedded code. He sat down to try to decipher it.

Vendar climbed the last part of the ladder and confirmed it lead to the roof. He noticed that the rock-thrower there was mounted such that it could be stored – perhaps in the room where the shaman had apparently made its residence.

Vendar said he would go out to hunt and gather food, and suggested that the others go to the village well and figure out how to collect water. They would have many days to wait before The Prince’s men would arrive. When Vendar went to leave, the chained dire wolf whimpered pitifully. Jenneken resumed her orog guise and paced the roof, trying to look as though she was keeping watch. While pacing, she found a storage alcove with rain gear and a spyglass.

Vendar released the wolf, and Almira used her portal spell to provide a way for it to escape the tower. Vendar managed to coax it through the magic portal. Once outside, it made its way into the wilderness. Almira spoke to the caravan prisoners. They had been hired by a noble in Esden to meet a group of goblins to exchange strongboxes. They were to deliver the received strongbox to the capital city of Daum. When Nick asked if they had heard of “Malik”, and they said that was the orog shaman that was in charge of the tower.

Nick had Jenneken come down to help ask questions, and she assumed the guise of Malik to help with the ruse. She thought the caravaners story was true. Having decided they had nothing more to offer, the group decided to let them go. The caravan team did their best to restore their wagon and mules. When they asked about the goblins they were to have met, Almira noted that all of them had been killed but one, and that one was badly wounded. With no sign of their strongbox, the caravaners left heading west.

While waiting for Vendar to return, the rest of the group did a more thorough search of the tower. They were able to look everywhere but the pit where the huge bear lumbered. Vendar returned with some additional food, and then immediately went to consider the bear. Vendar pulled on the chain that ran down into the pit and found that it was attached to a thick board that would provide a ramp of sorts. Almira suggested that Vendar make a “sleeping potion” using herbs, and while the bear rested she could try to remove its collar. The day had been long and daylight was short, so Vendar decided he would look for suitable herbs in the morning.

The group began converting the barracks room to suit their needs, with the person on watch using the tower roof – as it was intended. During the night, Nick saw a thunderstorm rolling across the plains over the area where the fairy ring was located.

Game date: August 6, 561 (Brecht)

The next morning the goblin was feeling much better. With Johan’s help, Vendar found some herbs that Almira could brew into a sleeping potion for the bear. After some time, the Khinasi sorceress had concocted a drink that quickly put the beast to sleep. Down in the pit, Almira found the collar was indeed enchanted, but its lock was normal. As Almira was
removing the collar, Nick found a secret door – likely part of the original building that was there before the tower was placed over it. Beyond was an ancient spiral staircase, untouched for decades (according to Nick). With Johan keeping watching from the roof, the rest of group descended. After some distance the staircase steps were covered with the dangerous mushrooms that they found in the magic flask. Almira prepared her spells to walk on the ceiling past the fungus and then provide a portal for the rest of the group to join her. In the meantime, Jenneken tried the new ring to detect any ley lines, and found there may be one far below.

As Almira descended on the ceiling, the close proximity of her torch to the mushrooms caused them to release their spores. Choking and hacking, she returned so that Vendar could help soothe the burning in her lungs. Taking a closer look and the steps, Vendar realized that many people had been coming and going from this area recently. He also realized that the light of the torch, not its heat, likely caused the fungus to react.

Almira then used her ghost spell on Vendar, who descended the stairs without disturbing the mushrooms and able to see with his dark-vision eyes. He found a landing with many more mushrooms and a large chest.

After some discussion, the group devised a plan: Vendar would burn the mushrooms while Jenneken used her “gust of wind” wand to keep the spores away. With some effort, the plan was successful.Nick tried to unlock the chest but was pricked by a poisoned needle. Luckily the hardy lad resisted the toxins and was able to open the chest. Inside was a sealed letter and two strongboxes.

Having brought the items back up the stairs, the group found that the bear was gone. Jenneken noted that the seal on the letter was the now familiar eyeless skull, that of “The Eyeless One”. Almira checked for enchantment on the items and found nothing. Nick did not find any traps on the strongboxes. Having opened the letter, Jenneken noted the writing was from Malik to his (nameless) commander. It detailed the capture of the caravan and the strongboxes, noting the goblins that were also later captured. It ended requesting instructions for how to proceed.Nick opened one of the strongboxes and found it contained platinum bars (+24 Funds) stamped with the symbol of The Gorgon. In the other box were dozens of spider-like silver jewelry items, each with a black gemstone for its abdomen.

When Almira examined them for magic, she sensed something odd but could not determine for sure if there was an enchantment or not. Jenneken examined them and said they reminded her of the scarabs from the pyramid on Caelcorwynn Island.

After theorizing a bit about the intentions of the exchange, the group decided to go and question the rescued goblin. Unfortunately, she was not where they left her. When asked, Johan said he did not see the goblin leave.

Checking the tower, Vendar found new tracks leading down the hidden staircase. With Johan keeping watch, the rest of the group followed the tracks into the depths. Far below the surface, the descending passage split. Vendar thought the goblin went right, so the group took that way. Vendar could not find the goblin’s tracks, but Nick found some scratches in the dust. It seemed she was moving very quickly.

The passage became narrow and at times low enough to cause the taller members of the group to crouch. At one point Nick found a tripwire trap at a corner. Vendar confirmed that the goblin’s tracks crossed the thin wire yet continued at good speed – had she been here before?

After some discussion, the group decided to continue pursuit, but at a slower pace and while attempting to be stealthy. Almira used her ghost spell on herself (after some effort), Jenneken assumed the guise of a goblin, Vendar changed to his large cat form, and Nick was his usual quiet self.

A short while later, Nick did not see the trip wire across the passage. Having broken the line, everyone could hear a nearby crash that echoed as it cascaded downward. Having paused in silence, Jenneken could hear the distant sound of commotion – the rousing of a large group of goblins?

Jenneken stated that they needed to leave. Nick wanted to stay and fight, but everyone else left. Having reached the pit at the bottom of the tower the group closed the door, disengaged the ramp, and trained their bows on the secret door. After a few hours of waiting, nothing had emerged from the secret entrance. But then Nick heard a scratching behind the door. A mechanical rat, like the one the group found in the pyramid on Caelcorwynn Island, poked its head through the door to glance around. Nick fired his crossbow at it but missed, and the construct quickly retreated.

Vendar coordinated the others to barricade the secret passage in the pit. While on watch, Johan had managed to decipher some of the secret code in the journal. He had learned that the “Dark Path” was actually the underground tunnels that ran beneath this tower. The orogs were working for The Eyeless One to keep a watch on this deep, interconnected passage. They were charged with finding where the ley lines moved close to the surface, and then report back.

With evening approaching, the group made plans to keep watch on both the surrounding wilds as well as the secret passage to the Dark Road.

Game date: August 7, 561 (Brecht)

Early in the morning Almira had managed to decode the book found in the shaman’s chest. It contained several priestly spells, which Johan immediately began to work on understanding well enough to cast them. (At complaints about his lack of contribution, Johan rebutted that they had yet to need his skills combat skills: defeating undead, countering magic, and providing flaming weaponry.)

Vendar spent the day hunting and foraging, and if the weather was not dangerous, scouting the area near the pixie ring and also around the tower. The group removed several days of supplies from their magic crystal box to make room for the two strongboxes. Johan figured out how to use the crystal flask with the mushroom: when activated, it sprayed a sizable area (40ft cube) with spores that would grow into the choking mushrooms within a day. The mushrooms only worked underground, as they were activated by light. This item was put into the group’s crystal box.

Jenneken kept the ley line detecting ring, and Almira kept the stone-softening wand. Johan kept the orog priest journal and continued to study it.

Jenneken spent some time learning to use the tower’s rock thrower, and gathered a few more stones to use as ammunition.

By the end of the day Johan had learned the Summon Animal and Magic Platter (floating disk) spells.

Game date: August 8, 561 (Brecht)

When scouting the pixie ring in his regular owl form, Vendar saw that it was now a fully fortified encampment. A large palisade surrounded it, and hundreds of soldiers were stationed in a wide ring.

During another one of Vendar’s scouting flights he saw a group coming up the path from the west. It looked like a carriage with an armed escort, but a large eagle circling above it prevented him from getting a closer look. A short while later, a carriage being pulled by mules approached from the west, with four mounted knights in front and four more behind. The knights wore the symbol of The Gorgon…

Each member gains 10 Character points!

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Session 22: Attacking the Fort
July 3-5, 561 H.C.

Present: Brian, Dave, Jess, Ken, Ron; Absent: none!

Current Goal: capture and hold a fort in the Esmersdan province of Kiergard until the Prince’s men can arrive to reinforce it.

Last Session Recap: marched with dwarves through tunnels and mountain trails, fighting off a giant spider, avoiding some stone giants, and negotiating with some trolls. After the dwarves left them at the border of Kiergard, the group dodged mounted patrols as they headed toward the fort. One evening they were confronted by pixies that were building a magic stone circle, and the nimble sprites put everyone to sleep with their poisoned arrows.

Game date: August 3, 561 (Brecht)

Vendar reiterated his experience with the druids at the secret portal and the apparent involvement of fey (pixies), an elven wizardess, and someone who looked a lot like The Winter Witch. Jenneken explained that The Winter Witch was an awnshegh that ruled a province in the far north of Rjurik. What could The Winter Witch be doing with the elves and the fey? When pressed for details, Vendar explained that when he tried to get answers himself, he was shunned and threatened to stop nosing around. After a fairly obvious attempt on his life, he realized he was no longer welcome in the groves of the Emerald Spire. He’s been wandering Cerilia ever since.

Game date: August 4, 561 (Brecht)

In the morning, owl-Vendar flew back to the fairy ring. There were now 6 pillars of standing lightning surrounding the ring. To the north of the ring were hundreds of troops – horsemen, orogs and mercenary humans – in a town about a day’s march north of the ring, clearly getting organized for some event.

Owl-Vendar flew to the town then snuck around in small cat form: he overheard that the soldiers had noticed the circle and weren’t sure what it was. The soldiers had been given orders to surround it. A wizard representative from The Gorgon’s Hold magic would be coming to address the circle, and was expected to arrive in a day or two.

After Vendar flew back to relay his findings, Almira thought that maybe the lightning had been captured to give power to the portal. Johan noted the energy could be used to move a lot of things through the portal, or to keep it open for a long time. Jenneken noted that the orogs at the fort might have been called to the town to help with the portal – the fort might be empty!

After some rest, Owl-Vendar flew over to the fort to scout it and its surroundings. The nearby village looked well maintained but empty. The fort itself was a smooth, round stone tower. The top was open, with battlements around the edge and a large basket thrower mounted in the middle. A large pile of rocks looked like ammunition for the thrower.
The only sign of activity was from the fort itself, where a small column of smoke rose from a chimney. Having landed to have a closer look, a crossbow bolt thumped into the ground right next to Vendar!

Vendar hastily flew back to the group, and they decided that Almira could use her ghost form to scout the village a bit more. Once there and mostly invisible, she peeked through the window of one of the buildings and she saw an armored orog with a crossbow. Another building held four humans in chains, likely caravan guards and a driver. Checking out the fort, there was no way to enter as the closest windows were 10-12ft above ground level. Almira noted that the entire fort was made of a strange green soap stone, unlike any other rock in the area. As she was returning, she noted another building with a long crossbow-wielding orog hiding within.

Back with the group, Almira noted that soap stone was often used by wizards when they worked with stone, as it was easier to carve the necessary symbols into the softer rock. After some rest, she used her ghost form spell again to finish checking the other buildings in the little town.

A long 3-sided shed held a ruined cart and horse harnesses. A building close to the fort held 4 bound goblins and a dog-sized lizard that had its mouth banded shut. A smaller building was closed tight, with its door clearly locked.

After Nick complained that Almira wasn’t brave enough to investigate the fort in her ghost form, Almira cast her ghost spell on Nick! After sneaking through the village, ghost-Nick approached the fort but found that some charm there made it difficult for him to pass through the front gate. With some concentration, he managed to peek through enough to see the floor just inside was a pit, but the other side of the floor had a spiral staircase leading up. Animal sounds came from the pit, and boot steps thumped on the floor above him.

After Nick rejoined them, the group managed to make their way back to their camp without incident.

That night, during Vendar’s watch, he noticed a brown bear rummaging around in the gorge leading toward their camp. Using a variety of food bits and distracting noises, he managed to lead the bear away from the camp. As he did so he noticed that the bear might be wearing a collar.

During Jenneken’s watch, in the distance she saw a small group moving from the town toward the magic circle.

h4.Game date: August 5, 561 (Brecht)

In the morning, Owl-Vendar scouted the faerie ring and saw that the army was moving from the town down toward the ring. A smaller group had already made camp near the ring.
After discussing what to do, Jenneken noted that if Almira cast the ghost spell on her, she could go and observe the orog sentries so that that she might impersonate one or both of them. Having completed the spell, ghost-Jenneken infiltrated the village and peered into one of the buildings where Almira had seen the sentries. Unfortunately, the orog saw her and ran to the fort, terrified. A short while later 4 orogs emerged, one wearing a breastplate emblazoned with the symbol of the orog deity. As the orogs searched the area where ghost-Jenneken was spotted, she managed to sneak into the abandoned house that was right next to the fort. After a while the orogs concluded the sentry was seeing things and returned to the fort. As ghost-Jenneken moved to rejoin her companions, the other orog sentry spotted her and ran screaming to the fort.

After more discussion, the group decided they should move to take the fort now before the shaman orog had more time to prepare.

Nick and Lion-Vendar snuck up on the closer orog sentry and successfully ambushed him, with Nick quickly decapitating the brute. On Vendar’s signal, the rest of the group hurried up the path to join them.

With the group all together, they made their way around the outside of the town to the building where the goblins were being held. As they moved, a warning blast from a horn came from the fort. They had been spotted!

Almira cast her portal spell on the building with the goblins, then Jenneken moved inside to explain to them that they were being freed. As Nick and Johan moved to cover the orogs that emerged from the fort, Vendar changed into his eagle-owl form and took to the air.
As Almira cast her unlocking spell on the chains holding the goblins, Nick and the orogs exchanged crossbow shots. Eagle-owl-Vendar pounced on one of the orogs, lifting him into the air.

Suddenly, three dire wolves appeared in a puff of magic right in front of where Nick and Johan were taking cover! As Eagle-owl-Vendar dropped his helpless victim to its death, Almira and Jenneken portal-ed out of the goblin’s prison-house to rejoin their companions. Jenneken quickly fired her bow at one of the wolves, wounding it slightly.
As Nick and Johan wrangled with two of the wolves, Jenneken’s arrow finished off the wounded beast.

Nick decapitated another wolf, and Almira used her portal spell to get into the locked small building. Eagle-owl-Vendar dove at the orog shaman on top of the fort – only to find it to be an illusion! He barely managed to avoid crashing into the fort roof.

A hail of rocks from the basket thrower rained down on the heroes by the goblin prison-house, with Nick dodging out of the way but Jenneken getting hit. A moment later she was struck by a crossbow bolt, causing her to bleed profusely. As Nick dragged her to be healed by Johan, eagle-owl –Vendar grabbed the soldier manning the basket-thrower and dropped him to his death.

With her wounds somewhat healed from Johan’s magics, Jenneken turned and hurled an arcane curse at the orog crossbowman that was harassing them, but it ducked the baleful magic.

Three orogs, including the shaman, rushed from the fort to take cover behind the building where the caravan crew was being held. As Nick and the others fell back to take cover behind the building where the goblins were being held, Jenneken quaffed a healing potion, restoring her to full health.

With an eerie wail, a twisted form of a wolf appeared near Nick. The summoned beast bit firmly on the lad’s leg, but wasn’t able to penetrate his thick armor. Nick counter-attacked, chopping deeply into the beast. With another blow, the mutated wolf breathed its last, disappearing in a cloud of smoke.

Eagle-owl-Vendar dive-bombed the shaman again, taking a crossbow bolt from the orog providing cover to the orog spell-caster. The shaman moved aside just in time, causing the huge owl to miss and slide across the ground. Luckily Vendar managed to avoid the shaman’s curse spell, flapping away to avoid the strike.

Changing her form to appear as an orog, Jenneken managed to fool the real orog that came around the corner a moment later. Convincing the brute to move away, she cast her mica-blinding spell on it, causing the orog to stumble blindly.

As Almira portal-ed into the goblin house to help them escape from their bonds, the shaman cast a spell that surrounded him and his two bodyguards with a large globe of gloominess.

As Vendar scooped up another orog crossbowman, Jenneken tried her draining curse on another of the brutes, this time succeeding in sapping its strength. Nick moved into the goblin prison-house to help Almira in freeing the goblins. Outside, Johan was hit by a crossbow bolt, wounding him badly.

Nick and Almira continued to struggle to free the last goblin, Jenneken cast an invigorating spell on Johan to help him resist his crossbow wound. A massive orog, far larger than the others, came charging out of the globe of gloom toward the building with the goblins inside. It closed with Nick (who had just stepped back outside), but paused to gauge the lad’s mettle given the carnage Nick had dealt so far.

With the goblins free at last Almira went outside only to be hit by a crossbow bolt. Her stoneskin spell protected her, but she flew into a rage and charged the orog crossbowman. Her dagger missed horribly, but her stoneskin spell continued to ward off any damage that the onslaught of bolts continued to bring.

The massive orog waded in to swing its massive club at Nick, but the nimble boy struck first, drawing blood. The brute’s swing went just wide, rumbling the earth under Nick’s feet. Johan joined the fray, but wasn’t able to penetrate the creature’s armor.

As eagle-owl-Vendar plucked yet another orog off the ground, Jenneken fired her bow at the massive orog but missed. Nick’s next attack struck true again, but the huge brute somehow managed to remain standing. A large snake appeared next to Almira, quickly striking at the sorceress but missing.

Jenneken emerged from her hiding place, trying her mica-blinding spell on the shaman but missing. The badly wounded giant orog tried to flee, but stumbled in its weakened state. Nick rushed up behind it and buried his shadow hatchet deep into its back, slaying it.
The shaman lobbed a brightly glowing ember between Nick and Jennken, and it burst into a fireball as it struck the ground. Nick’s armor protected him from the flames, but Jenneken was badly burned. Nick tried to flank around the shaman’s bodyguard, but the orog managed to slice the boy with its halberd. Nick closed with the shaman, his mighty blow shattering the orog’s magic armor. As orog-Jennken moved around behind the shaman and its bodyguard to distract them, the shaman reached out to inflict a foul curse on Nick. Narrowly side-stepping the shaman’s grasp, Nick countered with two quick chops. The first blow was mostly deflected by the orog’s armor, but the backhand chopped deeply into its neck.

Vendar grabbed the last orog from the field and threw him down the mountainside.
As the companions turned to check for any remaining foes, they realized they were victorious. The goblins appeared to be all dead from the savages of the summoned wolves, and Almira lay motionless under a tree. Examining her, she had at least one snake bite mark on her leg.

Session CP award: 10 points

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Session 21, In the Halls of the Mountain Dwarves
July 28-August 2, 561 H.C.

Present: Brian, Dave, Jess, Ron; Absent: Ken

Current Goal: capture and hold a fort in the Esmersdan province of Kiergard until the Prince’s men can arrive to reinforce it
Last Session Recap: met with two potential joiners for the group, decided on the slightly-surly wizard specialist named Johan, met with Prince and got assignment to take and hold fort (see above), set off on Almira’s boat and sailed up river and into lake, met dwarves in Baruk-Azik mountains who would guide group to Keirgard.

Game date: July 28, 561 (Brecht)

Marched with dwarves (allied with the Prince) through the Baruk-Azik mountains of Land’s Victory.

Johan looked at Nick’s “shadowblade” axe and nonchalantly commented that it had a tracking spell on it. He also noted that it was linked to Nick’s special “blur” ability, and also had strong ties to the Shadow World. Nick wasn’t worried about either spell on the axe, but Vendar thought that the wizard (or wizards) they saw back in the tunnels below Calrie put the spell there to keep track of Nick.

The dwarven trail led through may twisty passages underground, and occasionally passed above ground. At one point, the group saw a few perytons (winged elk). The dwarves noted that the hippogriffs were likely hunting them, forcing them from their mountaintop homes. Vendar could corroborate the dwarfs’ story that peryton shadows look like human shadows.
As the sun set, the group camped in a cave and huddled around the fire to stave off the mountain chill.

Game date: July 29, 561 (Brecht)

The underground trails early the next day were narrow and dust-covered, as if rarely used.
At one point, one of the dwarves motioned for the group to stop and then continued ahead alone. Nick crept up behind him, but couldn’t see in the dark and stumbled into the huge thick webs that crisscrossed the passage.

Nimble Nick easily slipped out from the sticky strands, but the dwarf merely got himself more stuck as he struggled. As a huge spider skittered from the darkness Nick quickly pulled the stuck dwarf out of the webs. Jenneken hit the monstrosity with her glitter spell, making it much easier to see in the near-darkness.

As the spider moved to grab Nick, the lad chopped at it with his new axe. The dark blade bit into the creature deeply, but it did not fall. The spider’s counter-attack missed only due to Nick’s nimbleness and his special blur ability.

With some help from Johan, the second dwarf charged in, its axe blazing with flame. It chopped at the spider’s webs, setting them afire. As the webs quickly burned, Nick hacked at the spider’s head, splitting it in a gory mess.

As the others huddled back from the flames, Nick barely managed to jump away. He had inhaled a lot of the smoke, however, and found he was unable to talk for a while.
Once the fires and smoke had dissipated, Nick searched the passageway for any treasure the creature had hoarded, but only found several cocooned cave bats. Johan took some time to collect some venom from the dead spider.

The rest of the day was comparably dull.

Around the campfire that night, the dwarves commented how the peryton’s behavior and the giant spider seemed to indicate some disturbance in the natural order of the mountains. Vendar asked some questions, and wondered if the hippogriffs and spider had been driven out of Kiergard by the Gorgon’s massing armies.

In another conversation, Johan noted that a man named “Brand Mournsinger” was leading a resistance effort in Kiergard against the Gorgon’s forces. Vendar remembered meeting a man by that name when the group was on their original mission to Coyote Point.

During the overnight watches, the group noticed the sound of tumbling rocks, as if in a nearby cave. The dwarves mentioned there was a cavern nearby where some stone giants lived. Unfortunately, their route passed through this cavern, and they would have to sneak past the next day.

Game date: July 29, 561 (Brecht)

In the morning the group discussed how to get safely past the stone giants. Vendar could sneak past in his small cat form, Nick was naturally very sneaky, and Almira could use her ghost-form spell. That left Jenneken, Johan and their dwarven guides. Johan had a spell to make him run quickly for a short while, but if it failed he would actually be slowed.

Checking the passage they needed to cross, it seemed about 100 feet from one end to the other. The path was along a narrow ledge, with a steep wall to one side and a sharp cliff on the other. Watching the passage for a few minutes, it seemed that the stone giants were a far distance away, and largely unconcerned with the exposed dwarven trail.

Almira, Vendar and Nick made it across without a problem. But when the first dwarf tried to sprint across, the giants heard him and lobbed a large rock. Though the boulder struck the dwarf squarely, the sturdy guide was able to get to the other side. Johan used his quick-run spell on himself, Jenneken and the other dwarf, all of whom managed to make it across without being struck by the giant’s boulders.

Johan made an awkward request for aid from Avani and healed the dwarf’s wounds. Almira noted that when he was casting the spell, he used some rather coarse Basarji language.
Near the end of that day, the path emerged outside into the cold, rainy peaks of Rivenrock in Baruk-Azik. The dwarves said that they would reach the border of Keirgard late the next day.

Game date: July 30, 561 (Brecht)

In the morning, Jenneken and Johan mentioned they had heard screaming during their watch, but the dwarves noted that it was likely just a peryton meeting an untimely demise.
The route became rough as it wound through the mountains. Vendar changed to his owl form, and Almira used a spell to make her able to cling to the ground (and even walls!). The others had to scramble along the wet rocks as best they could.

While aloft, Vendar noted that the trail they were on led past a cave that had a large bloody streak leading into it. Checking closer, he saw a mangled peryton was being eaten by a mountain troll. Back with the group, the dwarves were surprised that the creature would be so bold as to hunt in their territory. Nick suggested that they just go tell the troll to leave, and the dwarves seemed to think that might be worth a try.

The dwarves and the trolls grumbled at each other in dwarven language for a while, and seemed to reach an agreement. They explained that the troll would leave them peacefully, but wanted help butchering the peryton and carrying it down the mountain. Nick and Vendar helped the dwarves carve up the foul-smelling creature.

Loaded with heavy packs of meat, the group continued down the mountain trail, managing the journey without any major incidents. To the north stretched a broad farmland – the Kierholme province of Kiergard.

That evening, the troll’s meat was packed into a cave before it headed off to its home in the nearby forest. With the rotting meat permeating the air, Vendar had to brew an herbal remedy to help him, Jenneken and Almira from getting sick from the strong odor.

On a suggestion Nick, Owl-Vendar scouted the nearby area. There were a few farm homes, but more concerning were the howls of a wolf pack. By the time Vendar returned, the howls were getting closer – likely drawn by the smell of the peryton meat.

The group used their wolf-urine elixir to ward their camp against the encroaching wolves. Early in the evening, their glowing eyes could be seen balking at the strong scent of the urine, and their alpha leader turned and led them away.

Game date: July 31, 561 (Brecht)

In the morning, Johan and Jenneken informed the group that during their watch they heard the wolves in the distance attacking something.

The dwarves gave a gruff farewell, promising to send word to the Kiergard rebels that would come to take over the fort after it had been taken from the orogs.

Almira estimated it would be about 80 miles through Kiergard from their present location over to Esmersdan. They remembered that the Prince warned them that the area was regularly patrolled by mounted soliders of The Gorgon.

Vendar took to the air to keep an eye out for approaching danger, while sharp-eyed Nick lead the group through the fields along the border with Sielwode.

After traveling for a couple hours, Vendar spotted a group of six horsemen approaching. Moving to a nearby hollow, the group hunkered down behind an illusion conjured by Jenneken. As the soldiers approached, it was clear they were well armed and armored, wearing coats with the Gorgon/Keirgardian crest. For a few tense moments one of the guards looked suspiciously at the area where the group was hiding, but eventually they rode off.

The rest of the day passed uneventfully, but they had seen no good places to camp. Vendar tried to find a relatively hidden location, and with help from Nick they managed to set up some very convincing camouflage around their camp.

Game date: August 1, 561 (Brecht)

Another day of cautious travel passed without any incidents. A few mounted patrols passed by the hidden group without notice.

Nick asked about using a road instead of trudging through the fields. When he was next aloft, Vendar saw a road a few miles away. Watching it for a while, he noted that there were much larger patrols riding there – upwards of 20 mounted soldiers in a group. Occasionally a small cluster of riders would break off to patrol along the border.

That evening, Vendar found a small cluster of bushes where they could make a hidden camp. A passing group of soldiers once again paused to take a closer look, but eventually moved along without causing trouble.

During the first watch, Nick noticed a group of small flying creatures cruising low to the ground in the distance. Almira guessed they were some kind of fey creature, likely making limited excursions out from the Sielwode forest. Having watched them for a while, Nick could tell they were gathering river stones to a single location. Almira could tell there was some sort of magical activity where the stones were being placed.

Almira woke Johan to take a look. He agreed that the pixies were doing something magic related. Nick woke Vendar and asked him to fly overhead to check them out. Owl-Vendar could see they were making a large ring of stones, almost 10 feet across.

While discussing how to proceed, Nick noticed a group of the pixies had surrounded the group and were closing with arrows nocked in their tiny bows. In short order, everyone was pricked by the poisoned arrows. Only Nick was able to resist the sleep effect, everyone else dropped to the ground snoring.

Between his nimble dodges and natural resistance to poison, Nick was able to avoid the creatures long enough to grab one. Though he was unable to communicate with them, they seemed to understand he meant no harm. Yet as soon as he set down the one they had grabbed, it immediately stabbed him. Nick finally succumbed to the pixie sleep poison.

Game date: August 2, 561 (Brecht)

In the morning the group awoke unharmed, but found themselves the victims of several pranks: inkwells had been dumped and tiny footprints all over their faces, Johan’s “cigar” paper had all been folded into tiny animals, Vendar had one of his eyebrows shaved off, etc.
After camp was struck, the group went to investigate the stone circle the pixies were building. Almira and Johan determined that the purpose of the circle was to anchor a ley line, likely to prevent it from being accessed from some other location.

Session CP award: 6 points

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Session 20, A new compatriot
July 20-?, 561 Haelyn Count

Present: Brian, Dave, Jess, Ron; Absent: Ken

Current Goal: none! (well, maybe finding a replacement for Khisenya)

Last Session Recap: rescued Nick from pirate tunnels below the taxidermist shop in Calrie, Nick got a new (magic) axe, sailed back to Mhowe, visited Nick’s orphanage and caught up with Grammy Patches, met with the Prince to relay findings from Caelcorwynn Island, learned how to activate and control mechanical rat, learned features of magical tiny chest that Almira bought, bought a dog to guard the cottage after seeing thieves casing the place, discovered Khisenya had abandoned group taking books and decoder ring from Azrai sphinx, Prince offered to find a replacement, Nick and Jenneken did some carousing and learned some about the two that seemed likely to fit in.

July 20, 561, Mhowe, Chimaeron

Nick tracked down the low-lifes that were casing the cottage and talked them into looking into more information about Rig-Jarl Arvid Hall-Destin Calder (Rjurik cleric of Erik) and Johan Standhaft (magician/scholar).

July 21, 561 Mhowe, Chimaeron

Went to Prince’s tower to meet with the two candidates. Met with Arvid first. He was immaculately dressed in fancy armor and carried a battle axe. He had a handsome face, was well-manicured, and carried himself with confidence that seemed a bit off. He said he was looking to improve his reputation, and was looking to take part in adventures that would be story-worthy. He offered that he was knowledgeable about Cerilian royalty, that he was in good physical shape, and that (ultimately) he followed the tenets of the Emerald Spire (resist development and industry, rely on nature). Arvid noted that he had heard many tales of the group, and he mentioned several of the hero’s recent escapades.

Vendar asked about healing abilities and he confirmed he had access to Erik’s healing and protective blessings. Almira asked him if he had any enemies, and Arvid said he had no enemies but did have a responsibility to support the Emerald Spire.

After he left, Jenneken told the group what she was able to read about him with her special abilities: he seemed uncomfortable with the idea of combat, despite his armor and weapon. When talking about exercise and physical activity, she noticed that his armor didn’t seem to weigh him down as much as it should. Vendar agreed that his armor seemed more ceremonial than functional.

Johan arrived after lunch. He was dressed in somewhat formal attire including a long coat common among some sailors. After a cursory request, he immediately lit up a cigar-like object to smoke. Vendar asked about healing abilities and he commented that he had an “arrangement” with Avani. Almira asked what happened to him 10 years ago (during “The Troubles”) and he explained his minstrel group ran into some problems with some accursed creatures.

When talking about Nick’s orphan upbringing, Johan made a comment that made it clear he had checked into the group’s past himself. Overall, he was impressed that the group had accomplished what they did, but thought they were foolish for what they had attempted – “getting in way over your heads”, he said. He also was concerned about Khisenya’s association with the group – given her obvious associations with The Serpent. Regarding his own magical abilities, he said his spells were varied but not particularly powerful.

When Nick asked him why he wanted to join, Johan said that he had to get involved so the group didn’t accidentally do something horrible. Given the forces they were dealing with, the course they were on would have eventually lead to some disaster – releasing creatures from the Shadow World, giving more power back to Azrai, or the like. Nick challenged John on how he might fight undead, and he responded with an example of a brew he could use to avoid them even getting close. “The best way to win a fight is to never get into one,” he said.

After Johan had left, Jennken noted that he was much harder to read than Arvid. He conveyed in many ways to be a drifter. Regarding Almira’s question about “10 years ago”, Jenneken noted that he had some bad association with the Shadow World. She also noted that there was some hidden sadness about some of the things in his past.

The group discussed which one to choose. Vendar and Almira eventually decided that Johan would be better, but Nick wanted to wait until his “informants” got back to him. Jenneken also reserved judgement.

July 22, 561 Mhowe, Chimaeron

Nick met with his informants and they told him a few things, but nothing the group didn’t already know.

At the Prince’s tower, the group indicated that they wanted to work with Johan. Various paperwork was produced and signed, and Johan officially joined.

Back at the cottage, Johan settled in. Nick showed him the mechanical rat, and he agreed it was a magical construct. He also noted it was made of cold iron, particularly dangerous to fey.

The group spent the rest of the day filling in Johan on the details of their adventures so far. Johan took the opportunity to study various magical items and provide more details.

July 23, 561, Mhowe, Chimaeron

The group went back to the Prince’s tower again to learn of their next assignment.
Rennerik explained that there was a fort in Kiergard that needed to be infiltrated and claimed until a full force of troops could be stationed there. The Prince was hoping to take advantage of the unrest in the area there, as the Gorgon’s troops were massing as if to invade toward Anuire.
The fort was located in the Esmersdan province, a hilly range near the Stone Crow Mountains. The surrounding area was mostly unpopulated, but represented an important point along a trade route to and from the Gorgon’s Crown. The fort needed to be taken and held for 3 or 4 weeks.

Intel indicated that orogs currently controlled the fort. They were reported to be sufficiently armed and armored to defend the location, though specifics of numbers were not known. Construction was a single rounded tower with a single gated entrance. A moat may or may not have be present. Several arrow slits provided cover across all approaches. A ballistae or two may have been on the roof.

As to timing, the Prince’s assistant said it would be about 2 weeks after their dwarven escort turned back that the Prince’s troops should arrive to assume control of the fort.
The Prince recommended that the group sail up the {something} river to a port in Baruk-Azhik on the Kurinlach. There they would meet a dwarven contact who would help guide the group toward Esmersdan. He recommended travelling through Kiergard rather than taking chances with the elves in The Sielwode.

Looking at their new world map, Almira and Vendar estimated their travel time: about two days to sail the river, another two up the river to the lake, a week hiking through the mountains to Kiergard, and then 80 miles to the fort in Esmersdan. If the group could find horses, it would only take two days to get to the fort. Walking would take 3 or 4.

The rest of the day was spent collecting supplies and preparing for the sea and river part of the trip. Vendar estimated that normal equipment and should be sufficient, though some cold-weather clothing might be helpful in the mountains. Travel through Keirgard would be hot and humid, said the woodsman.

Taking advantage of Almira’s trading skills, the group stocked up on arrows and crossbow bolts, as well as several alchemical items: 3 smokesticks, 3 thunderstones, and 3 flasks of alchemists’ fire. Nick also found some special arrowheads that burned white-hot when in contact with skin, but he wasn’t able to afford them. The group also bought extra rope, climbing gear, and two 2-person tents. Johan contributed some extra cooking gear and some heavy blankets.

July 24, 561, Aboard the Shiraz, Gulf of Coeranyz

Setting sail shortly after dawn, the group was under way after some difficulty navigating out of the Mhowe port.
The rest of the day passed uneventfully, sailing along the Chimeron shoreline.

July 25, 561, aboard the Shiraz, Gulf of Coeranyz

Another day of uneventful sailing ended as Almira’s boat pulled into the docks at Kiedel, the port city at the mouth of the Khurinbyrn River.

That night, during Vendar’s midnight watch, a few drunk men stumbled down the dock, thinking the group’s boat was theirs. Vendar changed into his lion form and roared at them from the shadows. Having fled in terror, they returned a short while later with some town guards. Vendar didn’t give a good explanation so the guards searched the boat, but didn’t find anything (as there was nothing to find).

July 26-27, 561, aboard the Shiraz, Khurinbyrn River
Almira’s expert navigation brought the group to Oden on the Kurinlach.
Jenneken went into town to carouse and grind the rumor mill. Almira went ashore in hopes of finding a Khinasi bathhouse.
Back at the boat, Jenneken noted that the arms and armor trade through the city had continued to increase since they passed through on their way back from Coyote Point. Some organization beyond The Vampire’s Hold was consuming a great quantity of supplies – likely in preparation for war. Almira returned clean and renewed.

July 28,61, aboard the Shiraz, Kurinlach

Sailing across the Kurinlach, Almira managed to find the remote dock where the Prince’s instructions indicated they would meet their dwarven contacts.
Vendar transformed into his owl form and flew around the area to make sure there wasn’t any danger. Buffeted by swirling winds, he was unable to find anything. Nick’s keen vision picked out a cleverly hidden fort a short distance up the mountainside. Dwarves appeared a short while later, and after confirming their association with the Prince, lead them into the mountain wilderness of Baruk Azik.

View
Session 19, No place like home
July 13-20, 561 H.C.

Present: Brian, Dave, Jess, Ken, Ron

Current Goal: Requested by Prince Renerick (of Mhowe) to investigate Caelcorwynn Island and possible activities there by The Serpent.

Last Session Recap: Returned to Calrie, city buzzing about king’s death and gathering of nobles to elect successor, various political intrigue around Lavinia and her conniving brother Vanthus, traded in sphinx loot for money and a tiny treasure chest (Almira) and a Shadow World gate marker gem (Jenneken), bought some nifty herbs (consumable magic items), Nick wandered off to investigate gang activity, Nick didn’t return so the others set out looking for him, ended up in tunnels beneath taxidermists shop, crept around but couldn’t find Nick (so far).

July 13, 561- Calrie Sewers

Taxidermist-Jenneken, lion-Vendar and ghost-Almira snuck past dining hall full of people, then saw big burly guy and a cloaked person leading Nick down the hall. The cloaked person’s voice changed each time s/he spoke. Their language sounded Vos. The big guy saw taxidermist-Jenneken, and then threw Nick to the ground and commanded the him/her to take him away. Nick was severely beaten but not beyond repair. Using the ladder they found earlier that exited into the abandoned warehouse , the group made their escape.
As the group went through town, they overheard that Vanthus had gathered enough votes to become king. All the more reason to leave Calrie as soon as possible.
Back on Almira’s boat, the group set off back to Mhowe. Khisenya used her healing magic to remove some of Nick’s wounds, then he went to go rest.

Sailing down the Aerenwe river, Nick said he had bought a new axe and some other things and then was mugged. He was blindfolded and dragged around quite a bit. He was beaten by a woman whose voice kept changing. She asked Nick about Caelcorwynn Island and what was there. He said there was a pretty girl: a little older than Nick, with blond hair and blue eyes, and she was very nice. She didn’t seem to be with the bandits.

July 14-15, 561- Aboard the Sherai Khen Salva (Calm after the Storm).

(Two days uneventful sailing along coastline back to Mhowe)
Khisenya found notes in one of the sphinx journals about the “key ring” that Nick found there. She thinks she could use the runes on the ring along with the notes to decode the other (encoded) book.

Jenneken studied the Shadow World gate-marker gem.

Almira discovered that the tiny chest she bought could be commanded to grow in size or shrink back. She would need more study to learn the command word.

Nick spent his time resting and recovering. He was confused why his abductors didn’t take any of his belongings. Eventually the group determined that Nick’s memories had been tampered with. Nick realized that he may have told them everything about their group and what they found on Caelcorwynn Island.

Almira checked Nick’s equipment to see if it had been enchanted with any kind of magic that would allow the Black Lotus sorcerers to scry on them. Almira found that the magical axe he “bought” was enchanted, its magics leveraged the user’s abilities, and its sharpness was magically preserved. But she didn’t find any scrying magic on it.

July 16, 561- “Home”, Mhowe, Chimaeron

Having arrived in Mhowe, the group made their way back to their cottage. The Khinasi women spent some time cleaning the house’s interior, while Vendar worked in his garden, removing a month’s worth of weeds. After everyone had cleaned up, the group accompanied Nick to the orphanage.

The Lantern Street Orphanage had seen some major renovations done since they were there last. Nick handed over most of his money, much to the delight of Grammy Patches. Grammy noted that the Prince must have helped get some of the repairs done, as there had been several donors helping with money and repairs. Later, Squorch told Nick he thinks that the donors were just using the donations as a way to one-up each other and gain favor with the Prince.

Jenneken caroused about town, gathering the recent news. One item of note was that Mhoried and Elinie were massing troops at their shared border, clearly intent on war.

July 17, 561- “Home”, Mhowe, Chimaeron

The group went to the Prince’s keep to report on their adventure on Caecorwynn Island. While waiting for their appointment time to arrive, Almira went to the Society of the Great World to collect on the map they ordered many weeks ago.

Jenneken summarized the group’s findings, with the Prince occasionally asking for clarifications that seemed focused on assessing the strengths of The Serpent there. She also mentioned that the queen of Aerenwe had died and a new monarch was being selected.

Prince Renerik then requested that the group meet with a particular Khinasi priest to relay details on the sphinx tomb. He also wanted them to meet with the cartographers at the Society of the Great World to document the details of the complex they discovered.
Having offered to help invest the group’s loot in various profitable ventures, Vendar handed over his share (traded +6 temp Funds to get a permanent +1 bonus to Funds).
The Prince noted that those of the group indebted to him had 9 months remaining in their service. A runner would bring them information with their next assignment. They would have a few days to wait.

Going to the Khinasi priest indicated by the Prince, the group arrived at The Great Temple to meet with a scholar named Afah Tet. The priest was fascinated by the stories of the variety of undead creatures encountered. He noted that it made sense the undead would “attack” sources of light, as the brightness represented their foe, Avani, goddess of the sun.
After visiting the temple, Nick visited some smiths to buy some additional armor. With some help from Almira’s bargaining skills, Nick managed to acquire a suit of chainmail. He also traded in his ring mail armor in for a set of soft leather that would fit under his new chainmail. The new armor slowed him down a bit and was somewhat noisy, but offered better protection.

Back at the cottage, Almira spent some time experimenting with the magic stone Nick found on Vanthus’s secret island. She determined that the stone contained a powerful earth spirit that could be called forth and made to follow the commands of the summoner. It would take more research to determine how to summon the spirit.

Almira also managed to determine the command word for the magic chest. With some experimenting, she found that objects placed in the chest would still age, and living things would eventually run out of air. But the weight of the chest in its small form always stayed the same, regardless of what was contained within it. (Effectively a “Chest of Holding”)

July 18, 561- “Home”, Mhowe, Chimaeron

The group went to the Society of the Great World to meet with the cartographer that Prince Renerik directed them to. They described the details of the template area on Caelcorwynn Island.

Afterward, the group reviewed some common threads of their adventures. They recalled that The Serpent was trying to acquire “The Book of Torments”, a tome of powerful evil spells aimed at the followers of Azrai. There was a noble in Mhowe who had a copy, and the attack on the city those many weeks ago may have been at least partly aimed at acquiring that. Having investigated the items recovered from The Serpent’s shipwrecked boat, the Prince determined that there may be a connection to Caelcorwynn Island. Having thought about it, there was a distinct possibility that the evil book in the lower levels of the sphinx was in fact The Book of Torments.

Khisenya noted that, based on the journal she had been studying, The Serpent priest that had tried to take the book was amazingly powerful. Yet even he was unable to overcome the enchantments on it.

Jenneken returned from her rounds to relay that rumors were circulating in the city that a huge Khinasi dhow had docked in the harbor. It supposedly carried the leader of the mercenary clans the group had encountered when they had traveled north to deliver the strange objects to people at Coyote Point.

Almira visited an apothecary in hopes of getting help understanding the mechanical rat taken from the sphinx. The proprietor was uncooperative until she demonstrated her abilities with a spell. Unfortunately, even after her impressive display she was unable to pay the sage’s fees.

That night, Nick and Almira spotted someone casing their cottage. Nick woke up Vendar, who followed the man down to the docks. There the shape-changer overheard the theif speaking to another man about how “they must have money” and that they should come back some other time when the cottage was unoccupied.

July 19, 561- “Home”, Mhowe, Chimaeron

The day was free for the group to pursue their own goals.

Jenneken went down to the orphanage to chat up Grammy Patches, trying to get information about the Shadow World. The Halfling deflected the questions, insisting that stories of Halflings coming from the Shadow World are just bad rumors.

Almira discovered that the mechanical rat must be fed the blood its controller in order to get it to activate and follow commands. The wound caused by this “donation” would not heal. (Game terms: permanently lose 1 Body point to activate and gain control of rat.) Commands given to the rat must be simple, as the construct only had the intelligence of a clever animal.

As the sun was setting, the group noted that Khisenya hadn’t returned. Almira found a note from her fellow Khinasi, noting that she had decided to “pursue other opportunities”. Her belongings were gone, including the books and ring from the sphinx. Was she a double-agent for The Serpent the whole time? Almira sent a note to the Prince so that he would be aware of her desertion.

July 20, 561- “Home”, Mhowe, Chimaeron

A messenger returned from the Prince indicating they should meet him that evening for a meal and discussion.

Almira decided that the house should have a guard dog. She went with Vendar and Jenneken to find one while Nick stayed back to guard the cottage. Visiting the mercenary camp north of town, they found an older but capable bulldog. Vendar was confident he could train it.

The rest of the day they spent arranging for a doghouse, chain, and other supplies necessary to keep the dog outside. Almira suggested that they pay an orphan to come and feed and water it when they were out of town.

At the Prince’s keep, he was disappointed to learn that Khisenya had left. He was concerned that “the team” provided less value to him now that they had lost a capable combatant and healer. He offered to find a replacement for extending the group’s contract for 4 months, but the group would be required to cover his/her wages (or offer him/her a cut of loot found).

The Group was awarded 2 Character points for this Session

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Session 18, A Shopping Trip-up
July 7-13, 561 H.C.

Present: Present: Brian, Jess, Ken, Ron; Absent: Dave

Current Goal: quested by Prince Renerick (of Mhowe) to investigate Caelcorwynn Island and possible activities there by The Serpent.

Last Session Recap: (in the catacombs of the sphinx) fought some tough zombies, fought undead lizard thing, found the book, Necronomicon mind-control problems, clever tricks with magic to get people un-charmed, wandered catacombs a bit more, Nick found mechanical rat, exited sphinx away from Serpent people AND the goblins, trekked all the way back across island, boat was missing

On-line Roleplay Recap: Vendar found Nixie over at decimated village, group went there, Lavinia said boat damaged from storm, need a day to do repairs, avoided scout group of goblins, set sail the next evening

July 7-10, 561 aboard the Blue Nixie in the Gulf of Coeranys

Jenneken learned two new spells– both ranged, one drains 2D Physique, the other grants 2D Physique.

Almira learned a new spell* that enchants up to 6 small stones or rocks, causing them to spin around her in the air, then she can shoot them as projectiles, 1 per turn with no action.

Khisenya busy trying to decipher “priest spellbooks” found in sphinx.
Almira confirmed mechanical rat is magical, and can become bound to a “master” from whom it will accept commands, but couldn’t figure out how to form the bond. Lavinia said her family knows a group of mages in Calrie that should be able to help.

July 11, 561- Aboard the Blue Nixie, Approaching Calrie via Aerenwe River

Calriean cutter approached the Nixie and stopped them from entering the harbor because the queen died. There were a large group of nobles in the city working to determine the new queen (or king). Nick thought the queen was assassinated and wanted to sneak off the boat to investigate. Khisenya told him to shut up and sit down.

Nick still managed to overhear some gossip. The queen had no heirs and her top two lieutenants had both refused to take the thrown. Lavinia explained that the human lords didn’t care for them, as they were both half-elven. Almira knows that the brothers tried to keep the peace between the humans and the elves of the Erebannien (a large forest taking most of the Aerenwe province).

Nick further overheard that Vanthus Vanderboren – Lavinia’s scandalous brother, the one they found was behind the theft her family’s fortune – was the popular favorite to take the throne. Jenneken recalled that Vanthus was apparently working with a roguish group known as The Blue Lotus. Nick remembered that group from the flower tattoos that some of their members had.

After getting the name of a reputable exchange merchant (where to sell the platinum plates and goblets they took from the sphinx), Almira portaled the group from the boat to shore, and they trekked a few miles along the shore into the city.

Jenneken paid for a boat taxi over to the western market where the antique vendor (Silver Dragon Antiques) was located. The Halfling vendor examined the Maesetian items and negotiated with Almira, who had a difficult time translating her Khinasi trading etiquette to the local customs. Eventually they agreed on a price, but the merchant said he would need to access his account to get the funds. (The total amount was +22 to funds)
The group found a reputable inn and settled for the night.

July 12, 561- Calrie docks, Aernwe

Back at the antiques merchant, most of the group went inside while Vendar waited outside. Vendar noticed someone lurking in the shadows nearby, watching them.

Inside, Jenneken noticed an odd gem on a high shelf. The merchant explained that legend held that Emperor Roele used gems like that one to mark where he entered into the Shadow World. After some negotiating, Jenneken managed to convince him to sell it for the coins she had in hand (no debit from Funds pool).

Almira noticed an odd box that looked like a miniature ornate treasure chest. The group had to knock off some of their agreed-to price for the Maesetian temple items, but the Halfling agreed to sell it to her.

The group left with a few new trinkets and quite a bit more coins in their pocket (3 funds pool points each for everyone, plus an extra 2 for Nick). (Note- this is the remains of the net 22 from earlier)

Meanwhile outside, Vendar snuck away and transformed into his small cat form to circle around and eavesdrop on those who were watching. A normal-dressed man spoke with a cloaked woman with her hood up. They mentioned that “he’s still inside” and “then just leave the mark and we can find him later.” The woman left, and then the man drew a symbol in chalk on the building across from the antiques shop and also left.

The symbol looked like a stylized version of the “comedy” mask used in theatrics. Nick recognized the symbol as that of a gang common to port towns known as “The Smilers”, due to the fact that they are known for slitting their victim’s throats in a smile-like curve. Nick said they were very bad news in Mhowe and he stayed far away from them.

Making their way back to Almira’s boat, they group stopped to buy supplies for the journey back to Mhowe (drinking water, rations, etc.). Nick went off on his own to see if he could learn from the local urchins what was going on with The Smilers; he would meet the others back at the boat.

Khisenya left to spend time in a local Ariyan temple.

Vendar found a Rjurik shop full of herbs and other interesting items. He re-stocked his healing kit, and bought some rare herbs:
• “Iron scale” – provides +2 armor for 10 minutes when in bird form
• “Shadow rose” – provides +2 to Acumen-based rolls in shadowy illumination (gave to Almira)
• “Chill root” – causes person to grow fur, +2D versus cold damage
Almira found a Khinasi magic shop and bought some enchanted items:
• “Bright daisy” – brew to give +1D to Acumen (helps with checks for those on watch)
• “Ghost root” – brew to give 3 hour sphere of protection against undead (mettle role to pass)
• “Cerilian wolf urine” – sprinkle around campsite to repel animals (mettle roll to pass)
Jenneken found { TBD }
• (Ken will ponder and come up with some ideas)

While carousing, Jenneken heard rumors that Vanthus was using blackmail to get the nobles to appoint him regent of Aerenwe.

Khisenya arrived at the boat in early evening, and talked Almira into joining her at a proper Khinasi bathhouse that she found.

Jenneken returned late from her rounds of the taverns, but Nick was nowhere to be seen.
Vendar searched the city in his owl form, but found no trace of him.
With no ideas on how to find him, the group settled in for the night.

July 13, 561- Calrie docks, Aernwe

Morning arrived and still no Nick.
Jenneken offered to transform to Nick’s form and wander the town, so that if someone had captured him, they might react and give a clue to where he is. Vendar would follow in small cat form, and Almira would come along as well to help with getting around. Khisenya would stay back at the boat in case Nick did return.

Eventually the group passed the taxidermist shop where they earlier encountered some of Vanthus’s thugs. They saw the shopkeeper start in shock when “Nick” walked by. A minute later, a large dog with an unusually large collar started pacing down the street, sniffing where Jenneken-Nick had been walking.

Kitty-Vendar tried to goad the dog into chasing him, but the collar on the beast seemed to be enchanted to preventing it from running off. Almira approached the dog and used her lock-pick spell to remove the collar. The spell worked, but it discharged painfully.
Jenneken ducked away and changed appearance to that of a drunk, then stumbled over to the alley by the taxidermist. Kitty-Vendar went over to join her, and commented quietly that the shadows in the alley were unusually dark. Further, the hooded woman from outside the antiques shop was hiding in those magical shadows.

Kitty-Vendar wandered down the alley and couldn’t see the woman, but did see some steps leading down to a cellar beneath the taxidermist.

After a brief discussion, the three decided to approach the cellar. There was no one in the alleyway, and Almira’s spell showed there was just a small entryway on the other side. The door was unlocked, so they went inside. An inner doorway apparently lead back up to the shop, as Almira saw with her Glimpse spell. Checking for secret doors, none of them could find anything, but Almira’s Glimpse spell found a passageway on the other side of the wall.
Jenneken used her illusion abilities to change her appearance to look like the taxidermist. Almira cast Stoneskin spell, and Vendar changed to his large cat form, retaining the ability to speak. Then Almira used her Portal spell to get the group inside.

Searching for a bit, the group avoided a room where Vendar could hear voices on the other side. Thinking ahead, Jenneken created an illusion of a spiked pit with the taxidermist’s body impaled there. The idea was that if they had to flee, their pursuers would hesitate at the sight.

Searching further, the group found a practice room with combat dummies and locks to practice picking.

Doubling back to the first door, Almira’s Glimpse showed 3 guards chatting around a table. Loaded crossbows laid ready at their fingertips. The far side of the small room had another door. Being within range of her Portal spell, Almira made to allow the group to “jump” across the guard room.

Searching the passageways on the far side of the guard room, they found a lounge with comfortable chairs and a holding pen for some sort of huge chained beast. A dead end with an air hole above had a secret door leading to a small, well-lit chamber with two doors and a ladder leading to a trap door. Checking the trap door, Almira said it lead to the interior of a dusty warehouse.

In a lapse of judgement, Almira used her Unlock spell to proceed through one of the locked doors, and set off an acid trap. Burned badly, Vendar bandaged her skin and Jenneken gave her a healing potion. Her wounds were healed, but her clothing was ruined.
Making their way carefully down a passage with multiple traps, they found a natural cavern with a large pool. The natural tunnel continued on past the pool. Jenneken guessed that there were many such passages, allowing for many points of entry (and escape).
Doubling back toward the hallway that lead toward the large group of voices, Almira found a barracks room, which they avoided. Another door with a large lock led to a room that held four very large barrels – likely beer storage.

As they went to proceed further down the hallway, they heard voices coming toward them from down the hall…

The group gains 2 character points for these actions

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Session 17, The Book of Torments
July 5-6, 561 H.C.

Present: Brian, Dave, Jess, Ron; Absent: Ken

Current Goal: quested by Prince Renerick (of Mhowe) to investigate Caelcorwynn Island and possible activities there by The Serpent.

Last Session Recap: Having searched through much of the sphinx catacombs, it was clear that the agents of The Serpent had been through much of the complex. Many treasures were found but left alone, lest the traps that protected them be set off. Some of the deeper rooms were adorned with huge statues of Azrai, clearly dedicated to the worship of that ancient, evil god. Most concerning was a huge statue of the god with open hands, as if he should be holding a book that was not there. Did The Serpent people take the book, causing the zombies to rise from the sands?

July 5, 561- Temple to Azrai, Caelcorwynn Island

late afternoon? (hard to stay inside the sphinx)
(The Nixie will leave in 2 days…)

As the zombie collapsed to the ground from Nick’s decapitating blow, several dozen scarab beetles scurried from the now inanimate body, quickly fleeing into shadows and crevices.
The room beyond the now-open secret door was full of dead bodies, a scene of complete carnage. Three empty daises appeared to have once been perches for the lizard creatures they saw in the cordoned-off area between the sphinxes paws – but there were only two zombie-lizards back on the surface. Where was the third? Nick became very nervous.
Nick searched the bodies and most equipment was badly mauled. One body had a satchel with some books. Jenneken found one was a very old journal, the other two she couldn’t understand. Khisenya said one of the others was a relatively recent journal of a Serpent priest. [Note: effectively a priest spellbook.] The last book was written in Maesetian, but was encoded. Jenneken took the books.

The next room had a lower level with a raised dais holding a stone tomb. Two humans guardians, badly mauled, crouched motionless behind the tomb – were they alive? Nick noticed a pressure-plate trap along the bottom step leading to the lower area. Khisenya called out a greeting in Maesetian, but got no response from the motionless guardians. Vendar cautiously approached, and the guardians moved to attack him!

Khisenya cast her Cloud of Mica spell on the guardians, but unfortunately Vendar was caught in its effect as well. The woodsman transformed into a small cat, managing to rid himself of the blinding effect in the process. Nick charged and chopped at one with his cleaver, noticing that when he hit the guardian did not bleed.

One of the zombie guardians lumbered toward the others, stepping on the trapped step. With a loud click, the lower level between the steps and the dais burst into blue flame. Kitty-Vendar barely managed to leap to safety.

Nick chopped up the warrior zombie on the dais while the others (slowly) took care of the one on the steps. Khisenya did major damage using a spell from her holy symbol, and Almira finished it off with a well-placed crossbow bolt. Almira suffered a zombie bite at one point, but Vendar later determined it did not appear infected. At a two different points, beetles from the zombies tried to crawl into the skin of our heroes.

Trapped away from his companions while waiting for the flame trap to stop, Nick searched the dais and found two more of the signet-locked stone cabinets. Using the ring he found, he opened them and found two sealed containers and several scrolls. Having kicked the dead zombie into the flames, the scarabs that cowered beneath it tried to flee but found no cover. They then turned to attack him. As they bit into his boot, Nick made a daring leap across the flames to rejoin his companions.

As the group tried to pass into the next room, Vendar’s torch was extinguished as he entered. Testing with Khisenya’s glow stones, they too were extinguished. As she worked to adjust her spell again, Nick heard sounds coming from the room, like a large creature walking about. Almira’s Glimpse spell, used through the door, showed a huge lizard creature preparing to bash down the door!

At Nick’s suggestion, the group retreated to the dais, hoping to trap the creature in the flame trap as it approached. As the lizard broke through the door, everyone attacked it with their ranged weapons. Most of the arrows glanced off its tough hide, but a few broke through. Khisenya blasted it in the face with her Spiritual Bolt spell, killing it.

Dozens of scarab beetles poured from its body, rushing toward the heroes. Waiting for most to be in the flame trap area, Lion-Vendar jumped to trigger the trap. Most were burned, but a few stragglers swarmed onto him. Leaping back to his companions, his friends managed to get the horrible bugs off before they could burrow into him.

With Khisenya’s adjusted light spell working again, the group entered the next room where the lizard was prowling. The room was empty except for a raised dais with a large stone sarcophagus on it. As the group approached the tomb, Vendar and Nick found they could not approach [failed Mettle roll].

A badly chewed corpse was on the dais next to the stone coffin. Looking at the remains of its clothing and the accoutrements he wore, it seemed likely that this was once the Serpent’s high priest – the one the goblins said entered the sphinx and never came back out. The priest was carrying a leather satchel that contained a single book. With unusual focus, Khisenya flipped through the pages and determined it was some kind of priest journal. Several of the entries were consumed with research on reanimating corpses.
After an extended wait, Khisenya seemed overly consumed with reading the journal. When Jenneken asked her about it, she snapped at her. Vendar snatched the book from her, and suddenly he seemed obsessed with the book, too. Almira touched the book with her Push spell, sending it briefly into the future – yet she, too, now seemed fixated on owning the book. Nick tried to slap some sense into Khisenya, but she shrugged it off and attacked Almira. Almira cast her Binding Bands spell, holding Nick in place. Vendar changed into his lion form and tackled Khisenya to the ground. Khisenya then canceled her light spells, sending the room into darkness.

Scuttling sounds began to grow from around the arguing party members. The beetles were coming…

As the party argued in the darkness, Jenneken cast her Cloud of Mica spell, hoping to hit the doorway. The bit of light it provided seemed to keep the beetles somewhat at bay. Having broken Almira’s spell, Nick tried to drag Almira out of the room, but couldn’t find her in the darkness. Feeling the beetles crawling on him, Vendar released Khisenya and ran for the door. Everyone but Khisenya followed suit.

Changing back into human form, Vendar lit a torch. Having fought off the book’s curse for the moment, Vendar went over to Almira and tried to shake her out of it. Jenneken and Nick tried to see Khisenya in the dark room, but were stymied by the various magical effects in place. Vendar tried to go in the room to drag her out, but the magical influence of the sarcophagus prevented him from approaching Khisenya, who stood on the dias.
Jenneken used an illusion spell to make it appear as though the book had reappeared near the door. Calling out to Khisenya, she was not convinced, and remained in the room waiting for the book to reappear.

In a last ditch effort, Almira cast her portal spell to provide a safe passage from the room where they were to a spot right next to Khisenya. Vendar dashed through and grabbed the mind-controlled Khisenya, but couldn’t drag her back through the portal. Nick came to help, right at the same time the book reappeared. With some struggle, they managed to drag her out and snap her out of the mind-control.

After some discussion, the group used a combination of spells to enter the room and slide the book back into the satchel without touching it.

Everyone quickly agreed that the book belonged back on the Azrai statue stand. Returning to the room with the statue, they carefully placed the book in place. The spine matched grooves in the statue, lending some weight to the group’s hope they had restored things to as they should be.

A moment after the book settled into its resting place, vast streams of beetles began swarming into the room, all heading to the secret room where the group heard them scuttling before. This lasted for several long moments. With the beetles back in their “holding room”, the group hoped that they had undone the zombie curse.

With Nick insisting on taking some time to search the complex for more treasure, the group nonetheless made their way back toward the outside. When they arrived at the room that led to the exterior, they could hear the sound of a large conflict raging outside. Vendar changed to his owl form and flew outside to investigate.

From the air, Vendar could see a large group of goblins were fighting the Serpent people in the open field near the sphinx. Though the Serpent people were far outnumbered, they were holding their own.

Nick wanted to go and fight the Serpent people, to get revenge for the attack on Mhowe. The others just wanted to get back to the Nixie and get off the island. After some discussion, they agreed to wait until dark and try to slip away. In the meantime, they could search some of the unexplored parts of the catacombs, hopefully finding a point where Almira’s portal spell could get them outside and away without being noticed.

One room contained statues of were-creatures, but each had features that didn’t seem to fit. After some investigation, the group was able to determine that various parts of the statues could be pressed like switches. Vendar suggested which parts to press, based on their mis-matching. Having pressed those switches, each caused a grinding sound from echo from somewhere else in the complex.

Searching some of the other rooms, Vendar found a &{color:blue}large rat statue buried in the sand. Its joints were flexible, like many of the other statues in the tomb. Almira examined the object, and concluded it was like the mechanical cobra guardian that they encountered in Lady Lavinia’s vault. Nick placed the rat in his bag,% along with the platinum pieces he took some time before.

With darkness having fallen outside, the group went back to the room where Almira could make a portal to the outside. Once outside, they made their way quickly toward the surrounding countryside. As they jogged, Nick shouted toward the goblin pyramid, “We put the book back!”

Having made slow progress through the darkness away from the sphinx area, the group decided it was safe to make camp.

Most of the night passed uneventfully. Vendar, patrolling in his large-cat form, saw an injured scarab beetle slowly making its way back toward the sphinx. A short while later, he saw dimly-glowing foggy shapes drifting away from the sphinx.

July 6, 561- Wilderness, Caelcorwynn Island

(The Nixie will leave tomorrow morning…)
Following the road that lead through the center of the island, the group made good time toward their rendezvous with the Nixie. At one point, Nick and Vendar spotted a goblin ambush set up to waylay them. Taking owl form, Vendar scouted the area and managed to find a path that would lead them around the ambuscade.

It took the better part of the day to work their way to the coast.

As they neared the far side of the island, the path was blocked by three “kangaroos” with red eyes and long, sharp teeth. Sensing they were only looking for food, Vendar threw the rest of his rations on the ground near the fierce-looking animals. With the others following suit, they cautiously made their way around the creatures and were back on their way.
Arriving at the small bay where the Nixie was anchored before, there was no boat to be seen.

Ron says: for completing this part of the adventure,

everyone gets 18 character points and 1 fate point.

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