Laston

The King's City
In which we see the return of those we thought gone

Session 1

Story

  • Our heroes conversed with the escaped goliath for a short time at the rendezvous point whilst stragglers arrived. Tlundok intended to return to their village, where the Holy Stone is located, so it could select a new tribal shaman to replace the deceased Irinus.
  • Valeran became incensed when he learned that Helnor was to be exiled for abandoning his tribe while they were captives. However, Tlundok agreed to allow Helnor to travel with the goliath until their new shaman could weigh in on the matter before the chieftain passed judgment.
  • Our heroes decided to make for Farmington, the King’s city, to make sure what they had learned of the orc army’s activity had reached the King’s ear. Saying their goodbyes to the goliath, they turned southeast while the goliath turned northwest.
  • The group encountered a small patrol of soldiers who questioned them, but Valeran was able to convince the soldiers they had been accosted by bandits the day before. The sergeant warned them to be careful as a goliath raiding party had been spotted in the barony, a statement that the soldier apparently believed. Thanking the soldiers for their warning, our heroes continued in their travels.
  • The next day our heroes heard hoof-beats approaching rapidly and made ready to confront whoever approached. A knight and more than a half-dozen soldiers, all mounted, arrived in the clearing. The knight dismounted and approached to question these travelers. Unlike the leader of the small patrol, he didn’t seem to accept their story of being innocent travelers accosted by bandits. However, another rider soon arrived from the East – Janos Pavu, an outrider for the Baron Szurke, who claimed the soldiers had passed from Coluddyn’s lands into his neighbor’s. He pointed out his archers in the distance, and said he would rather not see any bloodshed over these trespassers. The knight eventually was swayed, and made to depart.
  • It was then that Morwen recognized the knight, one Cassian d’Cherevan, as one of her tormentors from Blackfork. For several tense moments it seemed Morwen might be determined to take her vengeance here, almost certainly yielding forth a bloody encounter, but in the end she relented. She challenged Cassian to journey to Farmington and face her there in a week’s time, an appointment the knight promised to keep only after admitting to some role in her violation in Blackfork.
  • Cassian and the soldiers departing, Janow was quick to lead them further East. As they conversed, several things were soon made apparent. First, they were still in Coluddyn lands, albeit barely. Secondly, Janos had no archers; what they saw had been nothing more than an illusion to fool the soldiers. He claimed no love for the “entrail-lickers” of Coluddyn, an appellation that drew some curious looks from our heroes, so Janos went on to explain that the name Coluddyn was derived from an ancient tongue long since merged into Common, but had once referred to the viscera. Janos led them to a small village, where our heroes were able to take a much-needed rest.
  • The next morning our heroes rose early and set out for the King’s City, Farmington. Traveling most of the day, they arrived in mid-afternoon at the massive gates of the City. And massive it is, home to perhaps 30,000 men, women, and children, Farmington towers above all other settlements in the kingdom.
  • Asking about for directions, the heroes eventually located the estate of Baron Greenspire. His seneschal explained that the Baron and his son Stafford were in Farmington just recently, but had gone to ride out among the various army encampments south of the City and were expected back in a couple of days. Although he would be happy to accommodate Stafford’s two knights, the estate could not currently house their retinue as well. Gwil and Valeran instead opted for an inn, and the seneschal promised arrangements would be made for them. Thus, our heroes found themselves at the White Hart, a comely inn, for their stay in the City.
  • The next day Bane set out to see the local church. Much to his surprise, he learned that there were many dozens of churches in Farmington, unlike Laston. He eventually found a church of Jakariel the Claimer, patron of Life and Death, and told the story of his rebirth to a priest there. Upon learning of his tale, and most particularly the part wherein the Hall of Judgment sat empty, the priest asked him to restart his tale before the priest’s superior. This process would repeat several times until Bane found himself retelling his tale to an assistant to a Bishop, one of the highest-ranking clergy in Farmington, while someone (most likely the Bishop himself) looked on. Eventually, as evening approached, they offered Bane a place to sleep at the church as they considered his tale and its possible ramifications. Although he was unsure what to make of their questions, they were clearly keenly interested in his tale.
  • Gwil spent the day at a church of Safira Woundslayer, patron of the healing arts. She met many of the local priests, spending the day tending to their parishioners. She remained well past dinner. That night, as she made to depart for the inn named the White Hart where they were staying in the Merchant’s District, she was thanked profusely by a young boy. Earlier in the day she had tended to his injured mother, a washerwoman who had badly burnt her arm, and the child wanted to show his appreciation with a hug. Fearful of pickpockets, Gwil checked after and saw that he had not taken anything. But more children would follow in his lead, embracing the kindly cleric and thanking her, and one of them would snip the coin-purse whose location she had accidentally revealed to them.
    • As Gwil made her way to the inn, night having already set in, she realized she was being followed by at least two people. They were tailing her fairly effectively, trading off so as not to draw suspicion, but they were no match for her keen senses. She ducked into an alley and hid in an alcove, the shadow of a church’s bell-tower hiding her from the moonlight. The searchers passed her, calling to each other by making the sounds of stray cats, but they walked right by her hiding spot.
    • The bell-tower began to chime the hour just as Gwil crept from her spot, but upon the fourth peal of the bell something unexpected happened. The peal seemed to go on forever, ringing in one long note that the bell held for several minutes. The moonlight seemed dimmer, less illuminating, as she moved towards the nearby market square. The square held many people, but they seemed almost frozen in place, and these were not the humans and smattering of other races. These figures looked humanoid, but their skin was pale, their eyes solid dark orbs. They worn much ornamentation, and that did not stop at their clothes, for the bore numerous tattoos and piercings. Gwil had seen this race before, shadar-kai, denizens of the Shadowfell. And looking around, Gwil realized that she had indeed slipped into that land of gloom, although by what means she did not know. Taking advantage of the frozen state of all those in the marketplace, Gwil quickly moved towards where she hoped the Merchant’s District, searching for some portal that she could use to return to the Middle World.
    • As she left the Temple District Gwil sensed the presence of a dormant portal. Tracking it down, she located a long-disused chapel. Dust covered everything inside, the stone benches fallen and crumbling. A few faithful had nevertheless left gifts, flowers and other small offerings, but even those must have been here some time from their dried and withered state. Behind the chapel stood a garden, overgrown with weeds, but once home to twisting paths that made their way through arbors. Ornamental arches decorated the garden, most long fallen, but a few still stood. Based on the architecture, Gwil surmised this was a chapel dedicated to Avren the Lost, the former patron of doorways and passages, who had been killed many hundreds of years ago while trying to preserve the Third Empire. Using the portal and great effort, Gwil was able to return to the Middle World just as the bell-tower finished tolling the hour of ten, a few minutes having passed in the Middle World while she spent almost an hour between the Middle World and the Shadowfell.
  • Glia decided to learn more of the Baron Coluddyn from the locals, and spent the day at taverns and others businesses listening. She learned that he much-loved among the populace for his role in the war. To hear them speak, one would think he rode into the orc horde and single-handled slew them all, such was their affection. As she returned to the White Hart she passed a small square were stocks had been erected. A crier read a list of the crimes committed by these who were to be executed two days hence – murder, rape, desertion. As she strolled past she saw one prisoner who caught her eye. His face was bruised and bloody from a recent beating, she at first took him for the eladrin Caber who had befriended them on their journey into the Feywild, but as she looked again Glia saw it was not him, but her brother Caden, supposedly dead these last few months after the Battle of Two Rivers.
  • Beld, Morwen, and Valeran spent the day at the nearest army encampment a few miles south of the City. While hoping to run into the Greenspires, they asked about if anyone knew of any soldiers from Laston in the camp. Some time later they arrived at a tent which revealed its owner to be none other than Beld’s middle brother. He had fared well, having been in the King’s Army for over a year now, and they spent the day drinking with him. Returning to the White Hart that evening, they stumbled into a throng of people gathered to see a war hero on parade. The parade would be for none other than Mael Coluddyn himself. His retinue wore polished armor, but his was still splattered with mud from the field. He rode with two dozen knights at this side, including one who froze our heroes in their tracks when they spied him – a halfling, heavily armored, atop a small warhorse, his helm removed to show a mark in the shape of a crescent moon upon his forehead. It was none other than Cidum, Arlain of Blackfork, killed many weeks past by our heroes upon an ancient fallen temple in the hinterlands of the Coluddyn barony.




September 22, 2011 18:00

Session 2
In which we see the mechanics of politics and justice

Story

  • Watching the Baron Coluddyn on parade, our heroes saw that the halfling who looked like Cidum appeared to be nursing serious injuries. He clutched at his left side whenever his horse took an rough step, and a look of pain would briefly cross his face when jostled too badly. But examining his features as best they could from this distance, he did appear to be the same Arlain who our heroes had discovered to be a werewolf and had slain in the hills some time back. Given that Kore had chopped up his remains and fed them to the birds, it seemed beyond the means of mortal magics to have restored him to life. Was this some impostor then, someone disguised as the Arlain? Or perhaps this was not Cidum himself, but some counterpart from the Feywild brought over to take his place? Sooner or later, our heroes must learn the truth of this, but it would not be this night. Surrounded by the Baron’s knights and an adoring throng, this was no time to confront him. But perhaps soon…
  • Bane spent the day talking to the priests of Jakariel again, learning more of the mystery that caused them such interest in his tale of the Claimer’s Hall of Judgment. Thirty years ago, the fire god Lotan underwent a great transformation. No longer the Gatekeeper, he became the Fire-bringer. When this happened, temples dedicated to him were destroyed by fire and many of his priests lost their divine powers during the change. Although most priests would reform their connection to the new god Lotan Fire-bringer, that was not true for all who had revered him. And now, a few months ago, priests of Jakariel the Claimer had started seeing their rituals fail. Their magics seemed weakened. Priests who favored other deities did not seem affected, and even the minor rituals for the other gods worked when enacted by the Claimer’s most faithful. They feared a similar event could be occurring for Jakariel, father of Lotan. And now this revenant Bane comes to the Church, telling a story of the Hall of Judgment standing empty. Is what they fear coming to pass? What could happen if, in fact, the lord of birth and death ceases to be?
  • Glia spent the day trying to find a way to free her brother Caden, a deserter from the King’s Army, who was slated to hang on the morrow. A guard named Dylan had offered to arrange for Caden’s escape, but the cost was high. Dylan would have to bribe numerous guards to let a man condemned to death walk free, and generously, too, as guards do not take kindly to deserters. Perhaps if she could find another to take his place, some other halfling? That would allay suspicion, and men about to be hung told such wild stories that the condemned claiming to be wrong man wouldn’t be unheard of. With that, the bribes would be much more modest, a few hundred gold, little enough that Glia could lay her hands on by tonight. But how to find someone who deserved this fate, in a city where they knew so few? She began asking about, and her search eventually led her to Jacoby, a half-elf who spent his time in a gambling hall. Others in the hall seemed to offer him respect, so he obviously had influence. Upon hearing her tale, he offered to find a suitable stand-in, and for only 50 gold. The plan was set in motion. At eleventh hour, they will meet Jacoby and he will provide a halfling who merits the fate he’s being sent to. At midnight, Caden will escape his cell. While the guard searches for him, Dylan will lead him to the prearranged meeting point. There, they will exchange halflings, and Dylan will return to the jail with ‘Caden’ in custody.
  • That evening, at the White Hart, our heroes gathered to tell their tales to the others. Another round of drinks was brought to their table by the barmaid. Valeran and Gwil both felt strange, oddly unbalanced, after drinking from their new mugs. Valeran stood, holding onto the table to keep from falling over. He leaned back, bumping into a stranger standing behind him, and then fell to the ground. As they looked at their fallen friend, Bane noticed a dagger concealed in the stranger’s right hand, covered in blood. Gwil, too, had an assassin laying in wait, and was likewise stabbed. As soon as they were spotted, the two assassins ran out of the White Hart into the rainy city, most of the heroes hot on their heels.
    • One of the assassins would fall to Bane, Glia, Morwen, and Beld in the street outside the White Hart. Glia and Beld started to drag the unconscious assassin back to the White Hart.
    • The second assassin made it into a nearby crowded market square, full of closed tents and empty tables at this late hour. As Bane caught up with the assassin, a number of thugs appeared from hiding to complete the ambush. Hearing there were more foes about, Glia and Beld quickly abandoned dragging the first assassin to join their comrades.
    • Eventually the second assassin was also brought down. In the few minutes before the Watch arrived, they woke the assassin and questioned him. He did not know who had hired them, just that the person wanted these two knights killed. Valeran would be easy to identify, since he wore the symbol of his knighthood opening. Gwil would be harder to identify, but as the only elf in the company of the easily-found Valeran she was likewise discovered. The price for each was 250 gold, a sizable sum. Although Morwen wanted to march the assassin to his home, where he had said his payment was hidden, the prospect of taking him through the streets was daunting and they eventually decided to just turn him over to the Watch.
    • The heroes did notice the assassin bore a tattoo they had seen before, of an eye almost completely closed. Some time back they had encountered a bandit, Lladrad, and one of his men had this same mark on his right forearm. Lladrad and his men had joined the army in lieu of being turned over to the local reeve (who would have hung them for their crimes).
    • The Watch arrived and questioned everyone. A few eyewitnesses could swear to the truth of the story told by our heroes, and so after an hour or so they were given their freedom as the Watch hauled off the second assassin and those thugs who had survived the ill-fated ambush. Of the first assassin there was no sign. One person said they seemed to recall seeing someone helping an injured man off the street, but they could provide no further details and the rain had already washed away any signs of blood in the muddy street.




September 29, 2011 18:00

Session 3
In which our heroes rescue a deserter

Story

  • Letting Valeran continue to recover from his injuries, the rest of our heroes left the comfort of the White Hart for the rain-filled City. Meeting Jacoby, the half-elf, as the clocks tolled eleven they were given a handcart with a heavily bound figure laying inside beneath piles of cloth. Checking to insure that they weren’t being cheated, they saw the unconscious figure of a male halfling. He was older than Caden, but of similar size, and his numerous bruises would allow him pass for Glia’s brother at least well enough for their purposes. Jacoby left the handcart and its contents with the heroes, who settled in for an uncomfortable wait in the downpour until the exchange in an hour.
  • As midnight approached, the heroes set out for the exchange site, an alley not far from the jail-house where Glia had found Caden. After Morwen and Beld scouted ahead and saw no dangers, they brought the cart to the alley. A quarter past the hour, the guardsman Dylan finally made the rendezvous. Caden, still bloodied but carrying his possessions, was with him. When Dylan saw the bound halfling in the cart, he seemed unhappy. He drug the halfling from the cart and cut free his hands and feet with his dagger. Helping the halfling to stand, he plunged his dagger into the belly of the halfling, who immediately collapsed onto the muddy street. “Easier this way” was all he said.
  • Taking Caden, the heroes left the alley and made to depart. Before they could leave the area, a group of guards spotted them and called for them to stop. Although they tried to play as if they hadn’t heard the guards, the heroes soon found themselves being followed. To make matters worse, the torrential rain had turned the streets into a river of mud, slowing their movement. The guards, a group mostly composed of elves, was able to take advantage of their faster movement and better vision to close the distance behind the heroes, who sought to lose them in the twisting alleys of the district. But losing the guards that way proved futile, as they knew the streets better than our heroes and continued to close. Finally, our heroes ducked into a tavern. Gage threw a handful of coins down, hoping the scramble of the tavern patrons to collect the coins would slow the pursuit, while the heroes made their escape through the kitchen. But this was not meant to be, either, and the heroes soon found themselves in an narrow street where the guard would catch up to them.
  • The guard wasted no time on words after the lengthy pursuit, drawing blades and attacking. However, the battle would soon turn against the guards. The two human guards were the first to fall, and making good use of the constricting terrain the heroes were able to knock several of the guards unconscious. But then the earth shuddered. The brick chimney of a building collapsed, punching through the cobbled street to reveal a large sinkhole. The street quickly collapsed, the entire corner disappearing into the muddy maw, washing our heroes and the guards down.
  • Time and water had sunken this part of Farmington, only to have people rebuild on top of what had been there before. This process had repeated several times, and now our heroes found themselves some distance below the surface of Farmington, in what might have been the sewer system of the city hundreds of years ago. As they recovered from the fall, almost all of them lucky enough to have landed in water, they realized they were not alone. A single member of the Guard was still conscious, but more pressing was the large shape that moves beneath the surface of the deeper water beneath them. As is reached the surface, the realized it was an otyugh, a creature that feeds of filth and refuse when it cannot find meat. It tried to pull the heroes underwater to drown them, but it was not alone. A few skeletons, perhaps once victims of this same beast, attacked as well. And from the distance long tentacles reached out to grab at the heroes, for the otyugh wasn’t alone in using this sewer system as a hunting ground. Another creature had taken up here as well, a roper, who camouflaged itself and sent out impossibly long tentacles to pull its prey to its waiting spikes, where they could be impaled. The heroes would find themselves sorely pressed between these two beasts, while the lone guard wavered on what presented the bigger threat, the group who had felled his comrades in the street above or the strange beasts in the sewers below. Eventually Gwil would knock him unconscious after he retaliated against her, but in the meantime he fired arrows at the beasts as well as the heroes. After a fierce battle that saw the heroes try to stay out of the roper’s reach, they managed to destroy the skeletons and drive off the otyugh. The roper tried to make its escape, but proved too slow. Even as it slowly crept up the wall, hoping to elude their ranged attacks, Morwen felled the beast with an eldritch bolt.
  • Looking around, there seemed few options. Climbing the slick walls of the sinkhole wasn’t a viable option, but the large chamber did have an outlet of the sewer system, presumably flowing north towards the river, and so our heroes turned in that direction.




October 6, 2011 18:00
Beneath the surface
Story

  • Our heroes found themselves trapped somewhere beneath the city in what seemed to be an ancient sewer system. Having defeated the creatures that occupied the chamber the sinkhole had deposited them in, they followed the narrow corridor in the hopes of finding an exit. After several hours of wandering through the dank sewer and then dusty corridors, gradually rising towards the surface thanks to numerous stairways, they finally came to a chamber that showed no dust or other signs of abandonment. Columns ran throughout the room, and statues of humanoid figures dotted the walls.
  • As Gage crossed the chamber, he stepped over a previously-unseen symbol inscribed on the floor. This symbol was soon joined by others, showing an arcane circle whose perimeter he had just inadvertently broken. Gage recognized symbols of knowledge, coercion, and subjugation scattered amongst the other runes as the statues began to move and a smoky shape began to coalesce inside the circle. As devilish forms separated themselves from the statues to attack our heroes, a vizier devil formed within the circle and began to direct the attack. The battle was brief but ferocious, but our heroes proved able to best the infernal foes that confronted them, bringing down the lesser devils and finally the vizier itself.
  • Once defeated, the vizier devil’s form lost its solidity and was compelled to return to the circle. With Morwen’s assistance, Gwil was able to re-empower those symbols accidentally destroyed, once again binding the devil to his arcane prison. During the process, the vizier explained to the heroes that he had been bound here by “the black priest”, who forced him to answer questions on the topic of dead gods and their lingering powers. He promised them information if they would only free him from captivity. The vizier devil tried a number of ploys to convince the heroes, promising to provide information on how to return to the city above, or Gwil’s ability to shift between worlds, or knowledge of their foes’ activities, or whatever else they desired to learn. But although Gage was sorely tempted, the others held fast and he was eventually swayed to abandon the vizier and continue searching for an exit.
  • Outside the ritual chamber, the corridor was once more dust-filled, but someone’s travel to and from the chamber had left traces in the dust. Following those as best they could, our heroes finally discovered a secret door within a wall, which opened to reveal a ladder. Taking that ladder, they emerged into a confessional booth in the Great Cathedral. This wing of the Cathedral saw little traffic, as it had been dedicated to Avren the Lost. The god of doorways and passages, Avren had been killed several centuries ago during the Great War again the aberrant Pale Ones; although he no longer had priests or other followers he was still honored with the occasional ceremony lest his sacrifice be entirely forgotten. Once outside that wing of the Cathedral the heroes found themselves once more amongst the hustle and bustle of Farmington. They returned to their inn, the White Hart, and after a meal went to their rooms to rest and recover.
  • Valeran, having finally recovered from being poisoned in the failed assassination attempt, decided to spend the afternoon watching King Gerrard receive petitions while the other recuperated. Although they had discussed the possibility of speaking with the King during these petitions, the group had decided that this was too risky. Instead, they would wait for tomorrow when Baron Greenspire and his eldest son Stafford (sworn liege to both Valeran and Gwil) would be able to take up their complaint about Cassian d’Cherevan and get them a private audience with King Gerrard so they could detail what they had learned of the orcs up near the Slumbering King. After spending several hours witnessing the King’s interaction with the commoners who came to petition him, Valeran concluded that King Gerrard was a just lord, one who tried to uphold the law but also one who understood what the lengthy struggle against the orcs had done to the common folk of the kingdom.




December 8, 2011 18:00
In which Truth is brought to light
Story

  • The Baron Spencer Greenspire and his heir Stafford returned to Farmington. After meeting with our heroes and hearing of their latest encounter in the Coluddyn barony, Baron Greenspire arranged for an audience with King Gerrard. Our heroes were joined in this audience by Spencer and Stafford, as well as his trusted guard Invinus Merispoles. When presented with the testimony of the knights, King Gerrard became crestfallen. He lamented not heeding Spencer’s earlier warnings about Coluddyn and begged his forgiveness, a surprisingly public show of contrition from a monarch. Spencer accepted his apology warmly and they began to discuss how best to proceed. King Gerrard called the discussion to a brief halt. Earlier in the day, the Baron Coluddyn had himself asked for an audience, and the appointed time had arrived. Lest Coluddyn think something amiss, the King would meet with him briefly and then resume this audience afterwards. The King sent the heroes to the red sitting room, which they soon discovered was adjacent to the audience chamber and permitted them to overhear the conversation between King Gerrard and the traitorous Baron.
  • Coluddyn did not arrive alone; he too brought someone with a tale for the King. Cidum, Arlain of Blackfork, accompanied him. Still suffering from his wounds, the Arlain told a story very different from our heroes’ tale. He claimed he had been attacked by a force of goliath, his men killed and he himself taken captive. For weeks they hauled him around while they raided his lands, their attack well-planned and supplied by a knight who proudly bore the towering pine heraldry of Greenspire. Shortly thereafter, the goliath raided a forge that Coluddyn had ordered built near the Slumbering King. Luckily, Coluddyn troops had just arrived and they were able to defeat the goliath. During the melee, Cidum was able to slip his bonds and elude the goliath, making his escape and joining with the soldiers. The King responded to this tale with alarm, and promised to think on how to bring Greenspire to justice for this affront against the Baron Coluddyn as the Baron and Arlain departed and our heroes resumed their audience.
  • With Coluddyn’s popularity swelling thanks to his breaking of the barbarian horde, any open act of aggression against Coluddyn could incite rebellion. In addition to the probable loyalty of the common folk, Coluddyn has many supporters within the army. In addition to the troops from his own barony – a large force thanks to his heavy-handed pressers – he also employed mercenary companies such as our dear friend Kore’s clan. The King must plan his next move carefully, lest he set a rebellion in motion. And with so much of the army potentially more loyal to Coluddyn and camped right outside Farmington, such a rebellion would be both swift and successful. Nevertheless, Stafford recommended arresting Coluddyn quietly. He could be tried and hung for his crimes before word spread. Baron Spencer advocated more caution. Even if they set out to arrest Coluddyn, who knew where he had loyal servants in Farmington? Should this arrest not go as planned, the Baron could potentially escape and foment open rebellion. King Gerrard carefully listened to advice from everyone present and promised to weigh his options carefully.
  • Before leaving, Invinus suggested Morwen bring her accusation against Cassian d’Cherevan before the King. He agreed to hear her out and so she recounted the tale of her abuse at the hands of the knight and his men. King Gerrard ordered Cassian to stand trial for his actions. The King also made Morwen a rather temporary member of his household staff since her accusations wouldn’t carry much weight against a knight’s word and no one of higher station would be able to testify on her behalf.
  • Our heroes left the keep, intent on staying at the Greenspire estate for mutual security. Stopping by the White Hart to collect their belongings, Valeran found a letter from his cousin Kore. He obliquely wrote of Cidum’s reappearance, adding more weight to the theory that this was an impostor. It seems that some of his most loyal men have begun to have their doubts about the Arlain, although Kore could not determine from where their suspicions rose. He said he hoped that all was well with the family back in Laston and he hoped to encounter Valeran again soon.
  • Trying to come up with some way to unveil the impostor, Gwil set a plan into motion. A lycanthrope could be forced to assume its true form if branded by a holy symbol. She had Valeran forge a holy symbol to Ellianis, goddess of the Moon, from silver. Gwil and Morwen then performed a ritual over the symbol to find the forge’s heat into it, laying dormant until called upon. Now they would just need to get to the impostor, speak the final ritual words, and press the silvered symbol to his flesh…
  • The next morning word was received that Cassian d’Cherevan had arrived in Farmington, as he had earlier said he would. He was promptly taken into custody for questioning. Denying all charges, a trial was called so he could defend himself from these accusations. That afternoon a massive crowd showed up to see the spectacle. Presided over jointly by the King and three priests of Hakren the Blind, god of Justice, the trial consisted of testimony from all parties involved. Cassian tried to deny his earlier confession, witnessed by our two heroes who are knights of Greenspire, but the sentiment of the judges was clearly going against him. Finally, he demanded his right to prove his innocence via trial by combat. Morwen wanted to face him, but as one of the common folk she cannot. Valeran offered to champion her cause, but Morwen refused. King Gerrard called her to his side, and offered her a way to face Cassian directly. She consented, and King Gerrard knighted the young girl there on the platform, in front of the roaring crowd. After an hour set aside for preparation and reflection, Morwen and Cassian fought. Morwen proved victorious and the knight confessed his attack upon the helpless girl months ago. Sobbing, he promised more detail as the King’s guards came to imprison him.
  • The crowd pressed in close to witness the spectacle, Gwil took advantage of this opportunity as the knight confessed his crime to approach the impostor Cidum. Speaking the last few words, the silvered holy symbol grew white-hot in her hand. But as she reached to press it against the halfling’s shoulder fate would intervene. Having not even noticed the elf’s actions, the Baron Coluddyn placed his hand on the Arlain’s shoulder, and it was there that the symbol landed. Burning into the Baron’s flesh, the ritual was expended and the symbol cooled at once. The Baron Coluddyn’s guards rushed to his defense, but Gwil dropped the symbol and faded into the crowd before she could be apprehended.
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The Shadow Hunters
In which the Shadowfell strives to reclaim what it rightfully owns

Session 1

Story

  • A few short minutes after the demon is slain, the unnatural cavern that served as its prison begins to shake. Hurrying, the heroes left the chamber and returned along the bone path, their gnoll ritualist in tow. Beld had grabbed a few of Arlo’s belongings, including a small journal.
  • Upon reaching the top of the sarcophagal stairwell, Glia heard a noise coming from the side passage. It sounded of heavy breathing, and something coming from the water. Grabbing a torch, she approached the intersection and saw the small, lean shape of a young man crawling up the last few stairs. Valeran, approaching behind her, looked at the drenched figure and asked, “Is that you, Brett?”
  • The figure stood slowly, and breathing heavily from his great exertion he told his tale. His name was Bane, but he had once been Brett. There was much he couldn’t remember, but he spoke of finding himself suddenly in the Shadowfell, where souls travel once they depart the flesh that was their home. He eventually found himself outside a great black fortress, so tall he could barely see its top, and he entered. Expecting to meet the Claimer inside, to be judged and either punished or granted immediate passage to the Celestial Hall of his favored god, he found no one to greet him. He wandered the great halls for some time, and eventually departed. Once outside the fortress, he wandered the grey expanse until he was found by a group of shadar-kai. They took him in, not out of kindness, but as a slave. He was taken to a camp, or perhaps a small town, ruled over by a shadar-kai known as Corvus, the Raven King. He was thrown in with other slaves, and taught to fight. Later, perhaps several months but he couldn’t be sure, he was fighting in an arena when a great storm sprung up from nowhere, destroying buildings and sending everyone fleeing for cover. During the resulting confusion a shadar-kai woman approached him and offered to help him escape. This Lady Gwawr led him to a pool and bade him make his escape by swimming. He did so, rising from the dark waters here, in the tomb where he had died.
  • Realizing they had left the body of their fallen friend Throck behind in the strange chamber beneath, Valeran tried to return down the sarcophagal stairwell. Finding the passage quickly collapsing upon itself, he realized the bone path and cavern were an extradimensional space apparently supported by the power of the demon itself. With its demise, the space was collapsing into itself and disappearing. Seeing no way to provide a proper burial, he instead carved Throck’s name in the side of the sarcophagus, the best he could do for his lost friend.
  • The heroes returned to the chamber of the Ghost Squire to question him. He told them what he could, although he seemed unable to recall many details of his own life. He was a young boy, only eight winters, and was squire to a noble pauper knight. The knight and his allies had bested this great demon, but finding themselves unable to destroy the foul creature they hatched a plan to imprison it forever. Not only would it be sequestered in this extradimensional prison, they would conceal the location of the prison to prevent its discovery and release. They searched for some time until they located a suitable home for this prison, eventually finding this place where the the veil between the Middle World and the dark Shadowfell was thin. Anyone trying to detect the magic of the prison here would find only the Dark Mirror that leads to the Shadowfell, and so they built this tomb as the knight lived out his last days. He was buried here, in the room supposedly laid out for his squire, the sarcophagus that seemed his would hide the passage to the prison. Why would anyone bother robbing the grave of a pauper knight who has forsworn all personal wealth? As for himself, the Squire could not explain what happened to him. He knew not where his bones were interred, if in fact they ever were. He died just as construction was completed, his oath to watch over and protect this place for all time fresh on his lips. He couldn’t say how long he had been buried here, but local stories of the Knight’s Tomb go back for generations, perhaps tens of generations or more. The gnolls, their tiefling master, and a human had come here. He had fought back against these interlopers, but they were too much for him to overcome and he eventually fell to them. Bound forever to this place, he wasn’t destroyed but rather incorporealized, unable to interact until he could slowly coalesce a new form. That was weeks ago, and even now his form was barely discernible in the tomb, his features faint and still unable to interact with the physical world. Since the heroes return from the sarcophagal stairwell he could sense that something had changed within the tomb, but he seemed unsure what to make of it. Even if the imprisoned demon had been killed, how did that change his oath to watch over this tomb? He still felt the need to protect this place, and it seemed as if he could no longer differentiate between himself and Knight’s Tomb, as if perhaps his great oath or the countless years that had passed while he stood guard had rendered the two inseparable.
  • Seeing nothing more to be done here at the Knight’s Tomb, the heroes departed and made their way southeast towards Laston, their risen comrade and their captive gnoll accompanying them. The morning sun, for it was only a few hours past dawn still, was bright and a sense of freshness hung in the last Spring air. But when no more than an hour had passed on their journey Beld felt a strange presence, as if being watched. Alerting the others, they kept a close eye on the trail both ahead and behind as they made their way towards home. They began to notice a flicker in the shadows to the west, behind them, as if someone followed them while cleaving to the shadows. And before long they spotted those who followed them, their facial tattoos and piercings giving them away as shadar-kai. After some brief discussion, they decided to locate a good spot to confront these shadar-kai. Valeran wanted to speak with them, but most of the others felt a physically confrontation was unavoidable. Did they not travel in the company of Bane, who had just escaped from their slave-pen? What else could these dark once-humans want?
  • Finding a good spot in the woods, where a few long-abandoned stone buildings would provide cover and protection, they waited for the shadar-kai to approach. Shortly, the group arrived, looking about to see where their quarry had gone. As they approached, Valeran stepped from the shadow of the ruin and asked what business they had in these lands. The leader of the shadar-kai, a witch adorned with countless bits of metal ornaments placed into her flesh, asked who was this boy who asked such questions. Was he lord of these lands? Did he have some claim of ownership to this place? Was he this land’s appointed defender? Valeran explained that as a knight in the service of Stafford Greenspire he was, in fact, an appointed defender of this realm. The witch asked what would happen if she chose not to recognize his claim of office, and Bane could take no more of these insults and threats. Leaping from the ruins, he tore into the shadar-kai, twisting and spinning among them, his quarterstaff smashing into them and inflicting grievous harm. The other heroes would quickly follow suit, and combat was joined.
  • The battle was quick, but bloody. The shadar-kai fought viciously, but in the end the heroes proved victorious. Just before she would fall in battle, the witch spoke quickly and calmly, “My Lady Rouge, it is my disgrace to report that we have located the slave but shall soon fall in battle. I can only hope that my impending death serves to redeem me in your eyes.” As she finished speaking, a wisp of black and crimson smoke rose from her high collared cloak and dissipated into the wind. As the battle continued, the gnoll apparently trusted Morwen’s promise of freedom in exchange for his assistance in taking a powerful shadar-kai prisoner, fighting alongside the heroes. True to her word, once the dust had settled and two shadar-kai – one soldier bearing a great glaive, and the witch who led them – had been rendered unconscious, Morwen told the gnoll he should run and never be seen again in these mountains. Wasting no time, he fled to the south.

Character Development

  • Our heroes met Bane, a revenant. Revenants are those rare individuals whose journey does not end with their death. After being judged by the Claimer and sent on to their god’s Celestial Hall, they are not allowed entry but rather instructed to return to the mortal worlds for some divine purpose. A revenant’s prior mortal identity almost completely subsumed by their newfound purpose, they have scattered memories of who they were before. Valeran and Gwil spent some time debating the nature of a revenant, ultimately coming to the analogy of a plate somehow returned to the clay from which it was made and then fired once more in the form of a vase. While completely unlike the original, one cannot deny the connection between the two pieces of pottery, one past and one present. But if revenants are created by divine will, what should they make of Bane’s story of the deserted Hall of Judgment and his subsequent return? Is his return due to chance, or is something deeper going on here?
  • Physically, Bane resembles Brett Treharne, the 11 year-old who often accompanied Kenton and who was killed by the wraiths at Knight’s Tomb. However, there are several obvious changes. He seems leaner, his skin somewhat ashen. His eyes are black orbs with golden dots for pupils, his fingernails thick and strong, almost claws. He also seems older, but having seen firsthand that time in the Middle World does not pass as the same rate as time in other realms it’s quite possible for Bane to have spent a year or even more in the Shadowfell in the few months that have passed since Brett’s death.
  • A brief bio appears here.




June 16, 2011 18:00

Session 2
In which we see that not all things lost are forgotten

Story

  • Our heroes interrogated the shadar-kai witch Llymanta. She indicated that she was sent by th Lady Rouge, the best hunter in the service of Corvus, the Raven King. The Raven King rules from Tywyll, which is the Shadowfell version of the town of Laston in the Middle World. The Lady Rouge had provided both passage to the Middle World and the smoke charm that would allow Llymanta to contact her to arrange for travel back. Having sent the message of their impending failure during the battle, Llymanta and the others no longer had any way to return to Tywyll. After the interrogation, the heroes decided to bring the two shadar-kai over to the reeve Alastrianna.
  • The heroes returned to Laston late at night, the sun already set behind them. They found the valley that holds cloaked in deep fog, the Gwynedd River hidden from view. As they approached the church, the encountered a Brother Simon and a nearby knight who was confronting a large spirit that was later identified by Llymanta as the Lady Rouge. Her lower body was that of a great black spider, larger than a horse and bearing red markings, but where the front two legs would be there was a mass of tentacles. Her upper body, rising from the front of the spider torso, was as large as an ogre. Her long crimson hair trailed down her back, and she wore red leather armor. She would prove to be only an apparition, though, as the knight’s sword would pass through her. She laughed and said, “I am sorry to disappoint you, Sir Knight, but I have other business to attend to. But fear not, for I have sent others to reclaim what was taken from my King.” Her form dissipated into the fog just as small, dark shapes separated from the fog and attacked the knight.
  • As the heroes moved to engage the stealthy assassins they recognized them as Dark Ones – sly, murderous creatures from the Shadowfell. Many speculate that they were once halflings, but were trapped in the Shadowfell when Jakariel overthrew the Primordial Marwgoel and the Shadowfell turned into the twisted land it is today. The Dark Ones would prove to be craft combatants, hiding in the deepest fog until it was time to strike. And even in their death was a threat, for when they were killed they exploded in a burst of darkness that blinded all those nearby. The knight was able to assist, dispatching a number of the Dark Ones himself and showing an ability to restore the sight of those blinded by the shadow creatures. After a long struggle that nearly saw Beld fall beneath their seemingly-endless number, the heroes and the knight would prove victorious. Having lost sight of Brother Simon during the melee, the heroes rounded the small building where he had last been seen. Fearful of finding him dead, they were surprised to an altogether different picture – Simon, carrying a sword, and the fading vestiges of several Dark Ones who had fallen to his blade. The knight, once the battle was won, removed him helmet. Valeran and Gwil were pleased to see that this was none other than their sworn liege, Stafford Greenspire, eldest son of the Baron and heir to these lands.
  • Stafford explained to the group the reason for his visit, having arrived in Laston but an hour before. Tomorrow would bring news of great import, for the Baron Coluddyn had managed to convince King Gerrard Callon to go on the offensive. Taking a large number of the King’s Army with him, the Baron Coluddyn had struck at the heart of the barbarian horde that threatened the kingdom. The horde, perhaps 3000 in number, had been decimated and scattered. Perhaps a third or half killed in the fighting, it would be some months before the surviving warbands could be caught and dealt with, but the fatal blow in the war had been struck and Callon had proved victorious. Some conscripts would likely return home quickly, while the others should be home in the autumn.
  • But despite this news, Stafford was disquieted. Had the heroes not reported a large armed camp, perhaps 500 or more, hidden near the Slumbering King? Stafford believed the Baron Coluddyn’s estimate of the orcs killed in the assault was likely exaggerated as well. How large was the remaining barbarian horde truly? Stafford had dispatched scouts to venture into the north of the Coluddyn barony to reconnoiter, but they had not yet returned and he feared the worst. King Callon was enamored with the Baron’s bold victory; Greenspire, long a valued advisor and confidante to the King, now seemed out of favor. If the Baron Coluddyn was in fact in league with the horde, what would be his next move? The Greenspire barony’s isolation from the rest of the kingdom and the enmity between the two Barons could make them a tempting target, so they must make ready for whatever is to come next.
View
That Which Remains
A threat to the security of Laston reappears

Session 1

Story

  • Upon returning to Laston, our heroes were greeted warmly by their loved ones. The one exception to this was Glia, whose mother Mairwen is visibly distraught. A few days ago, a letter had arrived. It seems that her oldest son, Caden, had been lost in the Battle of Two Rivers. He was buried in the field with proper ceremony. Caden was the jewel of his mother’s eye, a well-liked fellow of only 16 summers. Mairwen is as yet inconsolable, her grief driving Glia’s twin brother Hauli to chores around the farm rather than remain in her presence. Glia instead spent time with her friend William, the son of the town’s alchemist, who she entertained with outlandish stories of her recent exploits.
  • Valeran took Throck to meet Alastrianna. The reeve was glad to see the return of her protégé, but upon hearing his tale of the orc army encamped at the foot of the Slumbering King she became alarmed. She conceded to Stafford’s wishes that they must quietly move to fortify Laston, and went to speak to the Mayor on this matter. Before leaving, she offered to let Throck stay at her home. Valeran did reveal to her all the details of their travel, including the death of the Arlain Cidum at their hands.
  • Beld’s family was doing quite well. All have healed from their injuries at the claws of the kruthik, and their small farm seems prosperous. Both his father and eldest brother, away fighting in the King’s Army, have written and seem to be faring as well as one could hope. Some children, ignoring the warnings of the reeve, have been playing in the nearby cave left by the kruthik at all hours of the night, but apart from that there has been little to disturb the family.
  • Gwil returned home and then checked in with both Ione and Brother Simon. Ione asked her to look in on a few people who were still nursing injuries, but all seemed to be healing nicely. Brother Simon has nearly recovered full use of his injured right hand, joking that both a club left foot and useless right hand would be too much of a joke for even the gods to inflict upon him. As they shared his poitin, she gave him a full accounting of their recent travels. He was particularly curious about their induction into the service of Stafford Greenspire, it striking him as odd that he would swear someone into his personal service and then instruct them to leave. Typically, such a knight would remain by his lord’s side as a bodyguard.
  • Morwen caught up with the refugees from Celaneddog. Wishing to be rid of the Baron Coluddyn who had inflicted Cidum upon them, they had traveled to the Greenspire Barony and then continued all the way to Laston, home of these who had delivered them from the ghouls. They were surprised to see her, thinking she had probably met an untimely end at the Arlain’s hands, and were saddened to hear of the death of her grandfather and their beloved elder Hendad. As they do not yet have homes of their own they could not offer her a place to stay, but one of their hosts was quite happy to provide a temporary place until a more suitable permanent arrangement could be found.
  • Valeran returned home to a warm welcome by his father Harvel and his mother Ilga, whose pregnancy is moving along nicely. Though saddened to hear of Kore’s departure, Harvel cannot fault his cousin for his loyalty towards his clan.
  • The next day, several incidents piqued the curiosity of our heroes. First, Valeran’s milk was curdled, although his mother had milked the goat just moments before. He sensed a faint lingering residue of magic, unwholesome, but it dissipated quickly. Talking to the villagers, Morwen learned that several lambs had been disappeared from various flocks, but no adult sheep had gone missing. Calyd, who smokes much of the town’s meat, complained of blowflies suddenly growing in a side of ham. Grek, Glia’s trapper uncle, noted that several of his traps had gone missing. Intent to uncover any possible connection between these events, the group split up and cast about for some common theme. Glia, checking up on her uncle’s traps west of town, found what appeared to her to be hyena tracks near them. But hyena are not found in these mountains; indeed, Glia would have not recognized them were it not for their recent encounter with the goblins mounted upon them (almost certainly imported from the grasslands to the south) and her uncle had not seen such tracks before.
  • Gathering the group, they set about following the hyena tracks as they led further west. Some hours later, as they crossed a wide stream, they lost the tracks. Casting about for them, Glia wandered towards the north where she stumbled upon the source of the tracks. Not hyena, but gnolls, violent and feral humanoids who have been known to serve demons and other unwholesome beings. The encounter with these gnolls proved challenging, for their pack-leader could gaze into the eyes of his foe and compel them to obedience, a power he used on Morwen repeatedly. Against her will, she found herself lashing out at her allies. Glia, isolated from the others, found herself in a difficult struggle against a couple of gnolls who engaged her in melee while another fired arrows at her. Eventually, though, the heroes would prevail in this battle.




May 26, 2011 18:00

Session 2
In which this pack of gnolls leads to a greater threat to our heroes

Story

  • As the heroes searched the bodies of the fallen gnolls, they discovered a number of short letters written in Abyssal. Beld recalled the letters carried by the tiefling bandit Diawlio, also written in the same strange script and bearing Arlo’s seal. As Gwil lamented the fact that none of the group could read these letters, Morwen said she should take a look. As they handed the letters to their new friend, a small shape made its way out of the safe confines of Morwen’s cloak. A tiny humanoid, blue and frost-covered, crawled up and rested easily on the young girl’s shoulder. As Morwen looked at the letters in succession, the familiar pointed at it, and tugging on her ear it whispered to her. “I think I can make out some of this. It uses a script I know. It looks like the first letter is talking about having convinced a merchant from Trelgar to search for something. In the second letter it sounds like maybe he’s figured out where to look and has found guides. Finally, in this third one, he says he thinks he’s located the ‘Gweddill’ and the pack must come secure the place. I guess that would be translated literally as, ‘That Which Remains’. Anybody have any idea what this is talking about?” This led to some quick reminiscences of Arlo. Hadn’t he seemed particularly excited about something at Knight’s Tomb, and tried to conceal his enthusiasm? Hadn’t Krehir spoken of his concern that Arlo perhaps had some other motive besides pure exploration? He had cited the death of Brett as his reason for leaving Laston so quickly upon their return, but perhaps something more was going on. In any event, the group decided to follow the tracks from their current location to the north, in the direction of Knight’s Tomb, and see where this led.
  • After walking for hours, one the sun set they began to have difficulty following the tracks. Although the moon was in its first quarter, clouds obscured much of its light. After realizing they still had quite a ways to go before reaching the Tomb, the group decided to camp here overnight and get a fresh start early the following morning.
  • They rose early, as the sun first peeked above the mountains to the east, but with a strange sense of unease. Valeran likened this to the lingering aftersensation he had felt around the curdled milk back in Laston. After some brief discussion, the group concluded that this was probably the result of some potent ritual and they had best hurry. A few short hours later found them standing at Knight’s Tomb while the morning sun was still warming the valley.
  • Entering the tomb, Beld lit a sunrod. But as Glia moved up stealthily, she realized that there were some torches lit in a few of the rooms. Recalling the layout from their earlier visit, she carefully approached the two side rooms nearest the entrance on the long hallway. In the Squire’s tomb, she spied a gnoll gorger, somewhat more powerfully built than his packmates, eating from a leg of meat. A faint weeping emerged from the room as well, perhaps the voice of the Ghost Squire who inhabited this place. From the fountain room, she heard some quiet conversation between several gnolls. Motioning the others to join her, they quickly struck a plan. Moving into the fountain room, they struck before they were detected. But yelling out in pain, the gnolls called for reinforcements. Soon, the hallway would be filled with gnolls, many arriving from the main burial chamber at the end of the long passage. The gorger went after Beld, driving him back towards the entrance to the Tomb, battering him with a large hammer constructed from a gnoll’s skull. Valeran and Gwil struggled with the lasher, a gnoll wielding a barbed whip that sought to rip their flesh from the heroes. The battle was difficult, but after a few frenzied minutes the heroes claimed their victory over these gnolls.
  • Valeran entered the Squire’s tomb, and spied a figure cowering behind a statue. The Ghost Squire, so faint he could hardly be seen at all, sat on the ground with his arms hugging his legs to his chest. “So many of them. So many. Have to keep them from the Stairwell. But so many. Can’t stop them. Found it already.”
  • As Valeran tried to quiet and comfort the ghostly lad, the others moved slowly towards the main burial chamber. Once the light from their sunrod could enter the burial chamber, they saw the lid of the sarcophagus had been removed. A humanoid shape climbed over the edge into the sarcophagus and disappeared from sight. More movement in the room alerted the heroes to the presence of the those laying in wait for their approach. Beld whispering primal words of power to strengthen his allies, they steeled themselves for what is to follow.




June 2, 2011 18:00

Session 3
The Sarcophagal Stairwell

Story

  • The heroes approached the burial chamber, coming close enough to see see the Tiefling Occultist Diawlio standing inside the sarcophagus itself. He summoned a haze of oily smoke which slowed their approach, and then disappeared below, leaving behind a huge curtain of fire. From within the curtain came a number of Lesser Fire Elementals and a Furnace Elemental. The Fire Elementals set those they attacked ablaze, while The Furnace Elemental granted vulnerability to fire to the nearby heroes, so several heroes were quick to try and take down the Furnace Elemental. They soon succeeded, only to find it rise again as an Ash Elemental. It repeatedly blinded those nearby, but they eventually overcame the group of summoned elementals and proceeded to the sarcophagal chamber. Confronted by the roaring curtain of fire, Gwil spent a few minutes trying to drain off its arcane energies before it dies down. The sarcophagus held no buried pauper knight, but a black stairwell that led down into darkness. Climbing inside, they descended.
  • The narrow stairs shortly ended at a gradually-widening passage, the floor and walls composed of basalt and covered with scree. Thin veins of bright red light ran throughout the rock floor, lending an eerie mood to the passage. Soon, small bits of white appeared mixed in the loose rock; as they made their way further into the strange passage these white bits grew in size until it became clear they were pieces of bone. Finally, the heroes arrived at a grand chamber. Therein stood five gnolls, Diawlio, and our old friend Arlo Frinazi. One gnoll stood guard, a soldier of some sort, while the other four gnolls were dressed in black ritual robes and were scattered about a ritual circle. Arlo, similarly attired, slit the throat of a lamb just as the heroes entered the chamber. Other lambs were staked about the room, awaiting their fate, while the blood of the predecessors ran along channels in the stone floor towards a pile of rock that stood in the center.
  • Throck and Morwen entered the room, quickly taking down the guard and dragging several of the ritualists from their appointed positions. Arlo turned to Diawlio, asking what to do now that this interference would delay their progress. Pointing back to the heroes across the room, Diawlio said there was a quicker way. As Arlo turned to look, Diawlio pulled a knife from his belt and smoothly slit the human’s throat. A look of surprise reaching his face just as his lifeblood spilled out into the channels and ran to the pile of rocks in the center of the room, waking what slumbered there.
  • The rocks shuddered and were cast aside, revealing their occupant. Before the Dawn War that saw the ascension of the Gods, the Primordials fought a war against Demons rising from the Abyss deep within the Elemental Chaos. Winning the war, they bound the demons within the Abyss, where they remain to this day unless they are summoned by the unholy, the unwise, or the unwary. But demons have a souls of their own, and when one is destroyed its animus may linger still. Long ago, such a foul creature had been bound in this place, and thanks to the work of Arlo its hiding place had been uncovered. What rose from the pile of rock was a demon, undead, a thing of fire and necrotic energy, wielding fire and lightning.
  • Around the heroes, the gnoll ritualists cackled in delight at the rise of the foul demon and cheered for the imminent destruction of these interlopers, our heroes. Throck and Beld’s spirit companion moved up to the demon; time and again it maneuvered around them to strike at Throck with its blade and Morwen with its lash. When it managed to skirt those nearby, it moved to confront Gwil and Beld, who kept a distance between them and the demon, but Throck again moved adjacent. As they damaged the unholy abomination it began to radiate heat, threatening those nearby. Gwil fought against Diawlio, raining down radiant attacks upon the tiefling until he fell to her. Undaunted by its fiery aura, Throck continued his melee assault on the creature. But eventually, after once falling unconscious briefly and being brought back up by the aid of other heroes, Throck found himself once more next to the demon. He struck a heavy blow against the demon, whose retaliatory strike left Throck barely standing. Slashing at him yet again with its lightning sword, it landed a potent blow, cleaving the half-orc from shoulder to stomach. Throck fell to the ground, dead. Half a second too late, Morwen, felled the demon with a shard of shimmering eldritch force. Seeing their risen champion fall, the remaining gnoll ritualists made to flee. One already dead and another cut down as he ran past the heroes in the direction of the stairwell, the final two reached the bone path. Morwen barked a sharp order to halt. Upon hearing this, one immediately fell the ground, cowering and whimpering. The other raced down the path, out of sight, to the stairwell and the wilderness beyond.
View
Dark Bargains
in which our heroes learn of dark allegiances

Session 1

Story

  • Having defeated Cidum, the heroes create a pyre for their fallen friend, Krehir. Kore also chops up Cidum’s body into very small pieces.
  • They explored the ruins. It appears to have been a holy site for worshippers of the primordials. From what they could tell of the remaining artwork, it depicted the Dawn War (where the Gods overthrew the Primordials). They rested there overnight and went to visit the hags the next morning.
  • As they arrived at the hags’ camp two hags, Hiarn and Gwyddwen, were busy preparing a ritual. The third hag, Trilleste, arrived with a young girl in tow. The girl matched the description of Morwen. Upon seeing Morwen, the two hags became upset. It looked like Trilleste planned to replace one of the coven members with Morwen. Hiarn and Gwyddwen yelled and argued with Trilleste, but when it looked like they wouldn’t be able to sway her they resorted to violence, attacking Morwen. Seeing the young girl in danger, the heroes joined in the fight. Hiarn and Gwyddwen both called for help from their lizardfolk and an ogre in the nearby tents.
  • Trilleste watched for a few moments, then said she’d had enough. She conjured a portal in a nearby tree and departed.
  • Hiarn and Gwyddwen were finally forced to surrender once all their allies were defeated. They claimed Trilleste was behind their allegiance to Cidum. They’ve been making potions for him, using his blood as one of the ingredients.

Introductions

  • Morwen, the young girl from Celaneddog, whose town has been destroyed.
  • A coven of hags
    • Trilleste, the Crone. She has been training Morwen in the arcane arts for seven weeks, ever since Cidum gave the girl to her.
    • Hiarn, the Maiden. She’s an Iron Hag, able to change people into animals.
    • Gwyddwen, the Mother. She’s a Briar Hag, able to bend plants to her will.




April 7, 2011 18:00

Session 2
A chance encounter

Story

  • After getting the potions from the two hags and warning them against crossing their path again, the heroes set out to Blackfork. Once there, they rested overnight at the home of Selu.
  • In the morning, they departed for The Slumbering King, one of the Four Kings, to see what they could learn there. The trip should take three or four days in each direction, depending on the travel conditions.
  • Two days later, they came across a small workcamp. It appeared that human soldiers in the livery of Blackfork were directing slaves in clearing trees from an area. Most of the slaves were human, but there was a half-orc among them, as well as an ogre. It wasn’t clear whether the ogre was a slave.
  • Kore was spotted by one crossbowman, and his attempts to look inconspicuous failed. The soldier alerted the others, including the ogre. Combat ensued, with a second ogre and a few more soldiers arriving once they heard the commotion. The battle proved difficult for several of the heroes – Gwil found herself on the receiving end of an ogre’s attention, and Beld spent much of the fight entangled in a barbed net – but eventually the heroes prevailed.
  • Most of the slaves had run off during the fracas. In questioning the two who had stayed, one claimed to have previously been at a workcamp similar to this one. There, they had cleared a large area and build a log building, a long, low structure of uncertain purpose. When asked, he also said that he had seen a few goliath slaves at that camp, but he did not know what had become of them. These two slaves had been taken by soldiers of the Baron Coluddyn near Meadowbrook; one was snatched up on claims that he was trespassing on the Baron’s estate while the other was arrested after he bested a soldier at cards and the soldier claimed he was a cheat. After speaking with the heroes, the two slaves departed for their homes, thanking the heroes for their rescue.

Introductions

  • Throck, the half-orc slave, proved a valuable ally in the fight against the soldiers and ogres. His urgrosh seems little worse for wear after having been pressed into service as a woodman’s axe.

Character Development

  • Morwen seemed reluctant to directly engage the soldiers. After the fight, as they lay near death, she went up and quietly spoke to a couple of them before dispatching them.




April 14, 2011 18:00

Session 3
The Village

Story

  • The group continued their travel toward the Slumbering King. The following afternoon, fierce winds and threatening clouds heralded the approach of a great thunderstorm. Sensing its impending arrival, Beld and Gwil guided the group to a large cave. After Valeran inspected the cave, particularly its ceiling, and declared it safe the group took refuge inside. Throughout the remainder of the afternoon and into the night, the storm raged outside.
  • By morning the storm had subsided to a constant drizzle. Seeing no prospect of better weather on the horizon, the group wrapped themselves in their cloaks for warmth and headed out to continue their long walk to the mountain. By late afternoon they could vaguely sight the Slumbering King off in the distance, its peak shrouded as always in dark clouds. They soon spied a small village that lay on their path, and they went to see what information they could learn from the people there.
  • Arriving in the village they quickly realized it had been hastily abandoned, or had befallen some abrupt demise. Vendors’ stalls stood in the town square, boxes of rotted vegetables sitting on top. The incessant rain caused the fountain to overflow, and water troughs held growths of algae. A large wagon had been abandoned in the middle of its unloading; stacks of boxes strewn at its base. As Gwil and Throck approached, the ambush was sprung as orcs leapt from hiding behind the wagon. A surprisingly fierce battle ensued, but the orcs were unprepared for the party’s might and soon fell.
  • Kore climbed atop the wagon and noticed a lone orc darting into the mill. Following it, he entered the doorway of the building and quickly realized that there were far more orcs here in the village than just those already dealt with. Retreating, the orcs following Kore and a pitched battle occurred on the street in front of the mill. Orc archers in the mill’s loft opened doors used to load the mill’s products into wagons and rained down arrows from above, only to Valeran’s Lightning Lure pull them out. Beld and Morwen stayed further back, taking cover and using ranged attacks against the archers. Throck, Kore, and Gwil the orcs directly, eventually bringing them down save for a lone archer who made a run for a small stairwell in the back of the mill. Following him, they found him struggling with a half-opened secret door. Throck dispatched him, and a quick peek into the passage behind the door revealed that it lead downwards to a tunnel, eventually disappearing into darkness.
  • Interrogating the lone surviving orc proved a little difficult as only Throck spoke their native tongue (Giant). He was able to ascertain that the orcs were from the Meadowlands far to the south, and were led here by their leader, Curoch, who is the chief warlord of the barbarian horde that is fighting the King’s Army. He claimed that there are 200 orcs at the Slumbering King, many of them with potent magics. He also claimed that Curoch was a god, perhaps Jukuru reborn in flesh, who was leading the orcs to reclaim lands that were theirs long ago. Once they reached the end of the interrogation, the group had little choice but to dispatch the orc.




April 21, 2011 18:00

Session 4
To the Slumbering King

Story

  • After some discussion the heroes decided to explore the tunnel beneath the mill. It led beneath the streets of the town for a few hundred yards until it ended at a north-south passage. Not far to the south, a cave-in had closed off the passage. The passage to the north, in the direction of the Slumbering King, showed signs of recent reinforcement and use. The heroes turned in that direction, walking for several miles, before they came to a large storage room.
  • The storage room was a natural chamber that had long ago been enlarged and whose ceiling had been reinforced with wooden beams, now dilapidated and crumbling. The heroes searched the barrels, finding a large quantity of cured meats and potable water stored here – well more than would have been needed to sustain the handful of orcs they had so far encountered. As their search neared completion, a group of orcs crept to the other side of the door on the far side of the chamber. The orcs attempted to ambush the heroes, but hearing their approach the heroes were able to prepare. After a difficult battle largely fought in the narrow confines of the hallway just behind the heavy doors, the orcs and the ogre berserker accompanying them were defeated.
Character Development
  • Glia continued to frustrate Valeran, quickly pocketing the few coins they came across on the bodies of the orcs.
  • At the culmination of the battle, when the orcs were down to their last combatant, Morwen passed up the opportunity to capture the orc and allow Throck the chance to interrogate the orc.




April 28, 2011 18:00
Session 5
The Orcish Tower

Story

  • After the battle, the heroes completed their search of the chamber and continued down the corridor. After walking another couple of hours they came across a small side passage. After seeing that it continued on for some distance, they eschewed it in favor of continuing along the main corridor. Although the passage was blocked by a heavy barred door, Glia made short work of it. Shortly after the passage ended in a small stairwell leading upwards.
  • Glia and Kore crept up the stairs while the others lagged slightly behind. They arrived in a large room where they discovered a sleeping orc. Glia gestured Kore closer. Arriving at the sleeping orc he delivered it a quick blow that quieted its snoring. A few minutes later they realized the orc was dead. They searched the room to discover that it was also a large storeroom full of food and weak wines. On the far side of the room was a stairwell leading up, which the heroes took. The next floor up was divided into several large rooms, each full of sleeping orcs. Glia and Kore made their way around the rooms, dispatching the orcs. One room contained a heavy door, barred from this side, which Glia opened with great difficulty.
  • The door led outside, where a quickly-setting sun cast long shadows across a number of tents nearby. Before she could see more, a large troll turned and looked into the building the heroes occupied. Seeing the halfling and recognizing she clearly didn’t belong there, the troll charged. A few minutes later, the troll lay dead on the floor. The heroes quickly closed and re-barred the door to prevent the discovery of their intrusion by those outside, and continued up to the next floor.
  • The stairs led to a dining hall full of tables, occupied by orcs playing at cards and dice. Seeing the multitude of foes in the room, the heroes struck quickly before they were discovered and the orcs could react. As soon as he realized what was happening, one of the orcish leaders yelled for someone to alert the seer and light the beacon, but as orcs ran to follow those instructions they were cut down by the heroes. Just as the battle in the dining hall winding down, one of the orcs made it into the adjoining kitchen. Following him, the heroes reached the kitchen just as the tumult drew the attention of the remaining inhabitants of the tower – the last few orcs and their apparent leader, a beholder gauth.
  • The battle against the beholder proved challenging, as he repeatedly dominated several of the heroes. Meanwhile, Glia was struck by one of his eye stalks’ death rays, in danger of succumbing, even as Throck was in danger of bleeding out from the numerous wounds he had suffered at the hands of the orcs and the beholder. But Gwil was able to aid Throck while Beld tended to Glia, and eventually the tide of battle turned against the beholder gauth. Finally, Morwen was able to bring it down with an eldritch bolt.
  • The heroes took a moment to catch their breath, then continued upstairs to what proved to be the roof of the tower. Outside, in the cool night air, they saw a large number of campfires. Taking a quick count, Valeran and Kore estimated that there must be at least 500 orcs camped in the vicinity of the tower, with the possibility of many more concealed by the surrounding hills.
Character Development
  • Morwen seemed very pleased with herself at felling the beholder, much to the annoyance of Throck and perhaps others.




May 5, 2011 18:00
Session 6
Hunting Grounds

Story

  • Upon seeing the massive number of orcs in their camps at the base of the Slumbering King, our heroes decided they needed to leave, both quickly and quietly. The underground passage from the recently abandoned town that led northward to the basement of this tower seemed the safest option, and so they returned to that passage. They secured the door that led to the small side passage and continued on to the abandoned tower. Before reaching the storage room where they had previously fought, they came across a small patrol of two orcs. Dousing their own lights, they waited for the orcs to near and then dispatched them.
  • Reaching the storage room, they topped off their own provisions and then moved to collapse the room. Stacking the barrels around the deteriorating wooden support beams for the ceiling and dousing them with oil, they left the room save for Gwil, the fastest among them. She set fire to the two stacks, then ran to rejoin the others. The continued on their way, double time, intent of getting as far away from the passage as possible before they could be discovered. A short time later they heard the deafening reverberations of the roof collapse behind them.
  • Upon reaching the end of the underground passage, just as the sun peaked above the hills to the east, they decided that it was unsafe to stay in the town lest they risk discovery and so they continued walking while they discussed their destination. With the difficulty of moving so many orcs north of the Gwynedd River without discovery, they decided the Baron Coluddyn was most likely complicit in the orcs’ presence and they should expect no aid from him. Farmington, the capital of the kingdom and the property of the king, was the next closest city but they knew no one there. The Baron Greenspire would be far more likely to be receptive to their warning, and so the decided they would return to Stoneroad and speak to their own Baron. Eager to avoid attention, they decided to forego warning Blackfork and to catch the Gwynedd River just east of Millston. This would take them back through the twisting maze of valleys, further reducing the chance they would be detected.
  • In the late afternoon, our heroes finally decided they were far enough away to risk sleep. Sheltering in a cramped cave they set watch order and finally took a much-needed rest after having been active for a day and a half straight. The next morning they continued their journey. While passing through one of the valleys, they were set upon by a group of manticores. Although they were able to kill almost all of the manticores and drive off the few survivors, the events of the past few days have left our heroes utterly exhausted.




May 12, 2011 18:00
Session 7
The Return

Story

  • Waking the next morning, our heroes continued their trek to the south. The next day, they encountered the welcome sound of the Gwynedd River and shortly thereafter spied the great river. A welcome sight, the road along the river would prove far easier and quicker travel than crossing over and through the winding foothills. The heroes turned west, towards Stoneroad, and hopefully, home.
  • The following day, some few hours outside Millston, they heard noises coming from the nearby woods to the north. Taking caution, they soon saw a group of five halfling riders mounted on hyena. Nearing the party, the halflings charged at our heroes without provocation. As the battle was joined, several of the heroes noticed that the halflings had something odd about them, some small facet of their appearance that was not quite right. As the fight wore on, they uncovered the source of this oddity – these were no halflings, but goblins disguised by an illusionist. The goblins would prove no match for the heroes, however, and just after dusk our heroes entered the outskirts of Millston.
  • Having taken one of the goblin riders prisoner, they concealed him in a blanket rather than risk exposure while still inside the barony of Coluddyn. Unfortunately, the blow to the head that had rendered him unconscious was perhaps heavier than intended, leaving hear comatose. The first guard they came to asked many questions, but Valeran was able to confuse and irritate him until they were allowed passage. Finding rooms at a local inn, they finally had the opportunity to catch some much-needed rest before departing early the following morning.
  • Arriving in Stoneroad two days later, their prisoner still quiet, they quickly set about their plans. Valeran and Gwil took the goblin to the Baron Greenspire’s estate to provide a full report on what had transpired. Glia set out with Morwen on a private shopping excursion, while Kore went in search of dwarves hoping to find information on his clan.
  • The Baron was not present at the estate, but his son and heir Stafford was present. After speaking to the guards and leaving the goblin in the care of the Baron’s physicians, Valeran and Gwil were granted an audience with the heir. During this audience Valeran recounted all the events that had transpired since they left Laston in the company of the druid Mwgu, but fearful of possible repercussions for their well-intended but still somewhat suspect handling of their mission to “escort the druid to Stoneroad” he altered some few minor details to make it sound like most of the decisions were his alone. Hearing of the orc army and agreeing that the Baron Coluddyn was likely complicit in their presence, Stafford asked the two heroes if they were willing to do anything to protect their homes, loved ones, and their kingdom. Upon hearing their agreement, Stafford knighted the two, swearing them into his personal service. He then swore them to secrecy, less a general alarm bring whatever conflict is coming to a head before the Greenspire Barony could lay in preparations. Stafford instructed them to leave for Laston first thing in the morning, carrying messages to be delivered to the towns they would pass through along the way. These messages would instruct the towns to quietly begin fortifying themselves for what could come next. Once back in Laston, they would do the same.
  • Kore, meanwhile, was able to catch up with his old friend Goran Claysmith, another dwarf of his clan. Goran told him that the fighting had been incredibly fierce, and many warriors in the clan had been injured or killed already. Seeking to withdraw from the front lines, once their initial contract with the King expired they chose to take a different contract, one that sounded like an opportunity to nurse their wounded back to health in relative safety by virtue of being far from the front lines – a contract with the Baron Coluddyn, in which they would help secure the territory of Blackfork while the Arlain Cidum was serving on the front. Upon hearing this, Kore decided that the needs of his clan outweighed any obligations he might have to the town of Laston and his cousins there. Writing letters to his companions, he departed a few short hours later for Blackfork with Goran.
  • In the morning, the heroes received the letters from Kore explaining his sudden departure and wishing them well in their travels. Valeran and Gwil also received packages from their liege, swords and badges that were signs of their newly-granted knighthood.

Character Development

  • Her shopping successful, Glia gifted Valeran with a small leather pouch. Embroidered on its side in dwarven script is the saying “Adversity is the forge of great men.” Opening the pouch, Valeran learned it’s a Bag of Holding. An attempt to apologize for her past teasing of the swordmage, or perhaps a sign of growing affection?
And our story ends here, our heroes returned to Laston, absent their dwarven comrade Kore and their fallen friend Krehir, but bringing with them their newfound allies Throck and Morwen. They return bearing tidings of strife within the kingdom of Callon, an internal threat that could perhaps bring conflict to their very door.
View
Enemies Unmasked
in which our heroes learn more of the evils that seek to destroy Laston

Session 1

Having returned from the confusing Feywild, our heroes travel from Skipjot’s warren to Auntie Elspeth’s valley. Arriving just as dusk sets in, they were greeted warmly by both the druid Mwgu and Auntie Elspeth. They recounted their tale to Elspeth, who was shocked to learn of the eladrin Baroness who bore such a striking physical resemblance to her but seemed to lack both kindness and decency. Nor could Elspeth fathom any reason why the trapper Roon would have been taking boggarts prisoner in the first place. Resting in her valley overnight, our heroes set out early in the morning on the return trip to Laston, the druid once again in tow. Once home, after an uneventful trip, our heroes parted company.

Over the next few days, Glia checked in with her uncle Grek, asking what he knew about Roon, and where the trapper lived. He directed her to Roon’s home just north of the valley, and inquired why she was so interested. Glia’s evasive answers might have sparked some curiosity in her uncle, but he asked no further questions. She departed her uncle’s home, intent on sneaking off to Roon’s soon. That evening, she crept from Laston to the trapper’s small home. Carefully making her way past a few traps left to catch the unwary, she entered the dead trapper’s home and searched for anything that could explain his capturing of the boggarts. She would leave without answers, but not without some reward for her efforts, for hidden under a heavy rug was a small box containing a small pile of gold. Taking her newfound treasure with her, Glia left Roon’s house in the same state she had found it, the townsfolk still unaware of his death at the dolmen gate.

Meanwhile, Gwil checked in with Brother Simon at the church. He excitedly explained that he had repaired the still, and was once more making poitin. Gwil would spend the next couple of days checking up on those wounded in the kruthik attack, tending to their injuring and doing what she could to insure they healed properly. Krehir checked in on Joseph Warwick and his family to find them faring well. Beld’s family also fared well, although they were cautious of the tunnels the kruthik had enlarged that let out onto their property.

Valeran returned home, and told Harvel of his encounter with the owlbear and the deal struck by Kore and Glia to have the Baroness return him. He also spoke of his experiences as his soul traveled through the Shadowfell to receive judgment. Harvel listened intently, and eventually shared a story of his own. Many, many years ago, before Harvel had lost his sight, he had journeyed from his home in the Iron Hills to the distant Elven Kingdoms on the eastern shores of the continent. While traveling through that land, he was killed by a wyvern. His soul traveling to the Shadowfell, he found himself walking on a great grey plain of ash for what seemed to be days before he reached a large black stone citadel. Once inside, he stood before Jakariel the Claimer, who stared down at him from a massive throne for a moment before gesturing toward an open passage from the chamber and telling him he could enter the feasting hall of Tabor Steadfast, whose teachings Harvel favored above all others’. Harvel turned and left the chamber, but just as he stepped out of the citadel for a journey he instinctively knew how to make, he felt a pulling deep within. Following that where it led him, he once more walked across the endless ashen plain until he came to a bright light, a portal that returned him to the mortal world where an elven priest had performed a ritual upon him to invite his spirit back from the land of the dead. And thus Harvel had his first trip into the Shadowfell, a journey he hoped not to retrace for many years to come.

Kore sought out Alastrianna. Telling her his tale, he questioned her on her captivity at the hands of the Baroness and her subsequent escape. She confirmed his suspicion that it was Dawn Villestre, along with her half-elven husband, who had freed her from the Baroness’ prison. Kore pressed her, asking why she had found herself imprisoned in the first place. The Baroness had said she was caught trying to steal something of great value from her; could that be true? Alastrianna was quiet for a second, then confirmed the story the Baroness had told. She had traveled to Mondref, intent on obtaining a magical jewel that could be used to empower a ritual, and when the Baroness refused any bargain for the gem she had no choice but to steal it. Caught in the attempt, she spent quite some time in the Baroness’ dungeon before she was finally rescued by her friends. Kore tried to learn more of this jewel and the ritual, but Alastrianna reticence finally convinced him to leave it be, at least for now. Kore also told Alastrianna of Valeran’s death and rebirth, after which the reeve quickly excused herself to check on her protégé.

After a couple of quiet days spend recovering from their travels, our heroes received a letter from Stoneroad. The Baron Greenspire had received the missive explaining the recent kruthik attack and the role Mwgu had played in it, and now asked that the prisoner be brought to him. This sparked quite a bit of debate within the group. How should they proceed? If they delivered the druid to the Baron directly, he would likely be hung for his actions. But even if the Baron decided to keep the druid alive for a time, hoping to have him identify the halfling with the mark of a crescent moon above his right eye, what use would that be to Laston? Should they not proceed to Farmington directly, taking the druid with them and hoping to find this man who harbored a grudge against Laston? Would it not be better to use the druid now, while he is still in their hands, than take him to the Baron for imprisonment, if not a quick death? And did the druid deserve any chance at redemption, having harbored no ill towards Laston of his own, and having been useful to the town since his capture? Should he even be given any opportunity to redeem himself? After much debate, our heroes decided to follow the Baron’s orders at written. They would travel to Stoneroad, bringing the druid with them, to face whatever judgment the Baron handed out. But before delivering him to the Baron in Stoneroad, they would take the druid on to Farmington. And what if the passage to Farmington goes through Stoneroad along the way? The Baron had not demanded they arrive within any given time. This allowed them more opportunity to decide how to approach the Baron. Should they ask for mercy for the druid? No decision could be reached on that front, but hopefully, the trip to Farmington would enable them to find this mysterious man and bring him, along with the druid, to the Baron’s justice. The trip to Farmington and then back to Stoneroad would take at least a fortnight, and likely several days longer, so they wasted no time. Informing no one of the full plan, they told the Mayor and the reeve that they intended to leave the next day for Stoneroad. Before they departed, the Mayor gave Valeran a sturdy lockbox, containing the annual taxes from Laston, to be delivered to the Baron as well.

As the heroes left Laston, they decided to seek out a faster means of travel to see if they cut short their long trip. Arriving just before nightfall at Pinecrest, a town barely larger than Laston, they arranged for a room at the inn and asked around about opportunities to travel down the Gwynedd River instead of beside it. Eventually, Glia located a logger who was about to float a large number of freshly-hewn trees down to Millston, passing through Stoneroad on the way. Hiring on for the trip would provide meager wages but would shorten their journey, and so the next morning they found themselves learning how to drive logs down the river, poling them around obstacles and keeping them together as best they could.

The trip from Laston to Stoneroad, a trip of four days by foot, was shortened by their new conveyance. Streams flush with runoff from the winter snows poured into the Gwynedd, making for a brisk pace. By late afternoon of the third day out of Laston their new employer told them they would be stopping an hour outside Stoneroad for the night, and continuing through town and on to Millston the next morning. But before they could reach their planned resting point, a number of the logs jammed upon some rocks. As the first pole-man reached the rocks, a serpentine head broke the surface of the water. Perhaps the size of a horse’s head, it grabbed him with its large teeth and quickly disappeared under the surface with its prey.

The heroes moved into action, trying to locate the source of the attack upon the crew of the log drive. Krehir dove into the water to see if he could save the poor soul. Before he could reach the rocks, a serpentine head broke the surface of the water, soon followed by three more. Krehir swam towards the serpents, striking at them with his massive craghammer. Kore, Glia, and Valeran all closed the distance, while Beld and Gwil hung back. The serpents snapped their massive jaws at anyone who came close, making it painful to attack them, but the heroes were resolute. Plunging into their midst, Valeran and the others soon found themselves in a drawn-out struggle. While the serpents had difficulty piercing the defenses of the heroes, the heroes themselves were wary of the serpents’ thrashing about. On more than one occasion a hero was caught in the teeth of one serpent only to have another try to rip them away. Mwgu longed to help in this battle, but without his totem he could not draw upon his connection to the primal spirits. Instead, he safeguarded the tax chest as Kore instructed. The number of serpents grew, for as soon as one of our intrepid heroes dropped one of the large beasts two smaller ones surfaced and joined the fray. As the third of the original four serpents was felled by a blow from Gwil, who rained bolts of radiance upon them from a distance, the serpents retreated to the safety of the churning waters.

Just as the heroes took a breath, the water near Gwil erupted. This was no pack of water-serpents; this was a river hydra, a loathsome beast that drags its prey into the currents to be devoured at its leisure. Implacable like the river itself, as soon as one head is cut off two new ones begin to spring forth from its severed neck. And indeed, although it was grievously wounded by the heroes’ assault, the hydra would not turn from its intended meal. It threw aside the log upon which Gwil stood and snatched her up in its jaws. But before it could make a meal of the elf, Valeran reached the beast. Calling upon every resource within himself, he swung at the creature with his weapon. The blade of the axe lit up with flame, which the other heroes has seen him command before, and fiery sparks flew as his blow struck home. But this time, fire was not all that answered the young swordmage’s bidding. Along with the yellow and red flames that leapt from the wound, purple-black necrotic energy trailed from the head of the axe to the great rend in the flesh of the hydra, drawing forth the beast’s very essence as it fell dead upon the rock. Valeran stood, gazing down upon the body of the dead hydra, a fiery crown appearing over his head.




February 24, 2011 18:00

Session 2
in which our heroes find both danger and answers on the road

Searching around for further danger and finding none, our heroes took a few moments to catch their breath. Krehir took a trophy from the fallen hydra, as is his custom, as the remaining pole-man arrived and saw the beast that had claimed one of their own. Luckily, only a single soul had perished in the beast’s many maws. And so, once the logjam was cleared, the journey down the Gwynedd River continued.

A hour later our heroes found themselves reaching their campsite for the night. Tomorrow would bring them to Stoneroad, and after some discussion they laid out a plan. Rather than carry Laston’s taxes along their journey of uncertain destination, they would send a couple of their number who would pay the Baron his lawful due, then rejoin the remainder of the group on the far side of Stoneroad. And so as they approached the Baron Greenspire’s town the next morning, Valeran and Gwil said their brief goodbyes to their comrades and took their leave of the drive master. He paid them each two gold, twice the agreed-upon price, for their service, wishing he could spare more but his proceeds must now go to the widow and children of the man who lost his life during the journey.

Making their way into town, Valeran and Gwil saw that it was much larger than Laston, almost twice the size with so many gone to fight in the war. And dozens upon dozens of dwarves here, plying their wares! Quite unlike their home. They cast about and found the Baron’s estate, upon which stood a small keep. Announcing themselves as carriers of taxes from an outlying town, they made their way past the guard to the Exchequer, a halfling whose low-ceilinged room was lines with ledgers tracking payments and expenses for the Baron. They paid their taxes and asked for a receipt, which seemed to take the Exchequer aback, but he happily complied and they quickly turned to leave the Baron’s town and reunite with their friends.

However, a chance encounter in a hallway would provide some short detour for them. As they rounded a corner they very nearly collided with a well-appointed man of some 24 years. Valeran, despite having never met this man, recognized him from his description as none other than the heir to the Barony, Stafford. As quick words of apology were exchanged on both sides, Stafford asked for their names. Upon learning that they hailed from Laston, he pressed then into joining him for a brief morning repast to supplement their trail rations from breakfast before they left town later that very day. And so a few minutes later the swordmage and elf found themselves having a fine light meal with the heir to the barony. While they enjoyed the food, Stafford asked for their assistance in a delicate matter. King Gerrard was torn between two approaches to fighting the war. The Baron Greenspire advocated a defensive approach that protected the outlying villages from the barbarian outriders, spreading out the troops to form a defensive line. Meanwhile, the Baron Coluddyn advocated massing the troops and marching directly at the center of the barbarians, hoping to strike a decisive blow that would fragment the tribes and end their temporary alliance. Stafford, and his father, felt that their cause would profit greatly if only Alastrianna, Laston’s reeve, would return to her former position within the King’s court and provide her own advice in this matter. Stafford asked for Gwil and Valeran’s assistance in convincing the reeve that she could do much for the kingdom if she would consent to advise the King in this matter, and thanked them profusely for their promised assistance before departing.

A couple of hours later, their delivery completed, our band of heroes were reunited on the east side of Stoneroad. Those remaining with the log drive had taken their leave, accompanied by the same payment and apologies that Gwil and Valeran had enjoyed. An additional basket of food, pressed into their hands by Stafford’s order, provided a welcome lunch as they set out by foot towards the Coluddyn barony that borders their own. Mid-afternoon, they encountered another band of travelled, heading towards Stoneroad. It was a small number of merchants, accompanied by the merry troubadour Marrick of Southglen. He was bringing letters as we as news from the war deeper into the Rivertowns, and he happily provided the heroes with a brief update on the war.

While his forces were holding up, the war appeared to be going against the King. The orc war-chief Curoc had been sending small groups of barbarian raiders to slip through the defensive lines and raid unprotected villages. So far, most of these raids had produced few casualties, but their making off with livestock could eventually threaten the food supply for the army. These incursions had reached as far as the Black Forest, somewhat south of the Gwynedd but not accessible to the river itself due to the rough terrain. Kore asked what Marrick could tell him of Alastrianna; in particular, did he know what position she had once occupied at Court? The troubadour complied, explaining that many years ago the eladrin had saved the then-King’s life some 120 years ago, and then gone on to serve as general for the King’s army for some 70 years before retiring. As someone who had served his family for generations, King Gerrard would surely welcome her advice and likely bow to her wisdom in matters of war.

Marrick also cautioned them about bandits operating on the road between the two baronies. They preyed on travelers displaying wealth, using the tension between the two Barons to their advantage. When one’s soldiers would ride out to drive them off, they would retreat into the other Barony, where the soldiers would be loathe to follow lest they agitate the other Baron. And so warned, and with the sun still in the sky and an open road ahead, our heroes said their goodbyes to the traveling minstrel and continued on their journey.


After resting for the night at a well-used campsite beside the road, the journey continued. A few hours later, they came across a few men trying to repair a wagon that had broken a wheel. They had already begun unloading boxes so that they replace the wheel, a labor-intensive and tiresome task. Gwil and Valeran were ready to assist, approaching the wagon, when a few of the others noticed something askance with this situation. Why did there not seem to be enough crates from this wagon? Didn’t the wagon seem to be ill-repaired and unfit for use regardless of the broken wheel? Before they could give a warning, an human man armed with both sword and dagger stepped out from behind the wagon as a couple of the workers drew blades. The leader stepped forward, introducing himself. “I am Lladrad, and those who travel this road must pay me and mine for its use. Please divest yourselves of what valuables you carry, and you can be on your way.” Kore explained that they had no wealth or valuables, but Lladrad refused to believe them, judging their bravado as the result of their apparent youth. He turned to Mwgu and repeated his request, but the druid only said, “These are not my charges, my friend. You must deal with them directly.” Kore, realizing that the bandits would likely resort to violence, tossed Mwgu his totem and told him he would likely need this.

Seeing the young dwarf toss something to the southerner set the bandits into action. Two archers, one positioned on either side of the road under the cover of the trees, fired arrows at Mwgu. Both found their home, leaving a pair of wounds on the bleeding druid. Lladrad slid forward smoothly, slashing at Valeran with his longsword while stabbing Gwil with his slender dagger. The next few minutes was a confusing rush of activity as more bandits emerged from hiding behind the wagon while the heroes moved to engage. A tiefling emerged from the wagon, his race apparent from the large, curves ram’s horns that adorned his head, the result of unholy union of demon and woman in times long since past. He gestured with his rod, and cracks formed in the ground beneath the heroes’ feet, wisps of an oily black mist seeping up and rendering the heroes light-headed. But shaking off the effects of the mist, the heroes fought back bravely. A few quick blows to Lladrad rendered him unconscious. The tiefling gestured with his rod again, and flame leapt from its tip to land upon Kore. Burning, he fought on, dropping another bandit and then approaching the tiefling. The archers in the tree line continued to rain down arrows, focusing on Gwil and Beld who seemed to be bolstering their allies. Both took heavy damage, Beld losing consciousness ever so briefly as an arrow caught him in the head, tearing open his scalp. Kore attacked the tiefling, who teleported away in a burst of flame. Valeran dropped another bandit teleported himself, arriving adjacent to one of the archers. With no room to maneuver in the woods, the archer had no choice but to drop his shortbow and draw a blade to defend himself, but he would prove far less effective without his preferred weapon. Soon, the bandits were unconscious save for the tiefling. But even as the heroes turned to focus on him he teleported once again, this time out of sight, and despite their efforts the heroes could not locate him.

Tying up the bandits, Kore woke the leader Lladrad and questioned him. He explained that they had joined together last fall, but winter had put a temporary halt to their nascent activities until spring arrived. After being questioned about the location of their camp, the bandits walked, bound hand and foot, for a few miles until Lladrad pointed out what appeared to be a game trail crossing the road. Following it a short distance, they encountered a small ravine wherein lay the makeshift camp of the bandits. A thorough search turned up little of monetary value – the bandits having most likely squandered whatever valuables they had stolen from their rightful owners – but they did locate a black leather pouch that Lladrad was said belonged to the tiefling, whose name was Diawlio. Opening the pouch, they found a letter written in the same language as Arlo’s journal – Abyssal, a tongue little used in civilized lands. In fact, the letter bore a seal. Though now broken, it seemed to be the Arlo’s own seal. They questioned the bandits on the tiefling, asking what they knew of him and whether he had ever mentioned Laston, but the bandits all agreed that the tiefling had joined them but recently, only a few weeks ago, and was likely only pausing to make some easy profit before continuing to the west into the Greenspire barony. Finally, the heroes fell to discussing what to do with the bandits next. During questioning, it seemed that the bandits had not harmed those who did not resist, but how much mercy (if any) did they deserve? Should the bandits just be killed now? The punishment for banditry, in practically all lands, is death by hanging. Surely the reeve in Millston would send them to the gallows, or perhaps worse if rumors of the cruelty in the Coluddyn barony were true. Turning the bandits into the reeve could result in some reward, but would certainly end in the bandits’ deaths. Could they perhaps be forced to join the ranks of the King’s army to pay restitution for their crimes?

Hearing this conversation, the bandit leader Lladrad asked to speak with the heroes in private. Immediately, the other bandits began to protest, yelling and spitting upon him, but the heroes took him aside to speak as he had asked. He offered a deal – he would tell them something of great interest to them in exchange for his freedom. The heroes would make no such promises, but eventually assured Lladrad that he would receive something in exchange. And so he told them of a man named Cidum, a soldier, who had suggested this plan of banditry to him in the first place, and provided money to use in hiring the others. Lladrad had later asked around about the man’s livery and learned that it belongs to the Arlain of Blackfork. An arlain is a hereditary lord who owns land and has sworn fealty to a Baron. Laston had an arlain long ago, but that family had long since fallen and been replaced by an appointed Mayor. The village of Blackfork lies to the northeast, on this side of the Slumbering King, in the lands of the Baron Coluddyn. Lladrad argued that this information must be useful to them, for why would an arlain’s soldier try to stir up trouble between the two Barons? The heroes returned the bandit to the company of his companions while they continued to debate how best to deal with them. And then Valeran asked, for his knowledge, what this Cidum looked like. Lladrad responded, “He is a halfling, powerfully built, with the mark of a crescent moon over his right eye.”

Who is this soldier who seeks to stir up trouble near the border of the barony? Any why would he have hired the druid to launch a kruthik assault on Laston, a town he may well have never visited? What foul plan had our heroes stumbled upon that threatened their home?




March 3, 2011 18:00

Session 3
in which our heroes try to untangle the threat to their home of Laston

After some debate over the best course to take with this new information, our heroes decided to take the bandits to nearby Millston and have them enlist in the army. A few hours later, just before dark, they arrived in Millston. A fair bit larger than their home of Laston, Millston lies on the steepest part of the Gwynedd’s path. A series of waterfalls requires portaging of any goods brought from further up in the Rivertowns; this combined with the waterfalls themselves made the area an ideal place for the construction of the mills that gave the town its name. They took their prisoners to the local reeve, who greeted them warmly once he realized their intentions. He offered to arrange for sleeping space for the enlistees in the stable of the local inn, and our heroes got rooms in the inn for themselves and rested for the evening.

In the morning, they set about discovering what they could from the locals in Millston about the village of Blackfork. Kore wandered the town square, speaking with the merchants, but could learn no news of immediate interest. He did learn that a dwarven pottery merchant, mostly likely his friend Goran, had passed through Millston a few days prior, headed west. Gwil and Valeran spoke with the reeve and the local priest, but they knew little of the place. Blackfork lies north of the Gwynedd River between Millston and Meadowbrook. They rarely bring goods to Millston or come here to trade, preferring the gentler travel to and from Meadowbrook. Like many isolated villages they do not have a priest of their own, but a traveling priest visits them periodically. Glia spent the morning at the inn, speaking with the locals and those merchants who came in to eat. Seeing a group of halflings, she wandered over and bought them a round of drinks despite the early hour. They engaged in conversation, the increasingly-inebriated Glia entertaining them with tales of her adventures. When she mentioned the name Cidum and that he might be involved in the attack on Laston, the halflings grew quiet. One whispered that she might want to keep such thoughts to herself. Glia asked what the halfling meant, and he responded that Cidum was the arlain of Blackfork, and even petty nobles don’t like their named being mentioned in such contexts.

The heroes met at the inn for lunch, and Glia shared her newfound information with them. Discussing the possible courses of action, they decided to proceed to Blackfork. Gwil purchased some some goods they could take with them, mostly mining supplies and bolts of cloth, to use as a pretext for visiting the town. Thus equipped, they set with the druid Mwgu the next morning for the town of Blackfork.

Travel went well the first day, with Beld and Gwil guiding the group in what they believe to be the correct direction. They descended a series of narrow switchback roads to make their way from Millston, then walked through the mountains. Nearer to the southern edge of the Four Kings, the terrain gave way from rolling mountains to steep-walled, twisting, narrow valleys, some a mile wide or more but many only a few hundred feet across. Several times they had to double back in this maze-like terrain, finding the way forward too treacherous. This continued into the second day, when they were passing through one such steep-walled valley filled with tall spires of stone. There, from the north, they heard the faint sound of a baby crying.

Glia crept forward stealthily and discovered a reptilian beast, the same size as she, sitting near the northern edge of the valley. It opened its mouth and again cried out, sounding very much like a human child. Satisfied this was no innocent in need, Glia returned to the others. They quickly decided to avoid the beast and made their way along the southern edge of the valley. Their attempts at stealth were defeated when both Valeran and Beld slipped on the rocky floor of the valley. They quickly heard the sound of movement from around the tall stone spires and readied themselves.

As the first of the lizards arrived, several of the heroes recognized the creatures. They were young destrachan. Lacking eyes, they use sound to navigate much like bats, and have been known to imitate other creatures to lure in prey. Moving in, the young beasts swarmed towards the heroes. Kore, looking about, found both the adults closing in. The female, clinging to one of the spires, unleashed a bellowing blast that momentarily dazed both Beld and Gwil. A bola from Kore found its mark, tangling the legs of the mother and sending her crashing to the ground. The other heroes also sprang into action, quickly taking the mother and the closest young down. The young destrachan were strong, but unbalanced. When their blows found home they dealt significant damage to the heroes, but their attacks seldom landed. The father of the herd arrived a few seconds later. Larger and more powerfully built, he proved rather more dangerous than his offspring, but he too was soon dealt with. Some thirty seconds after the first destrachan appeared, they all lay dead upon the ground, no longer a threat to those who would travel through these lands.

And so our heroes returned to their journey to Blackfork, home of the arlain Cidum who sought the destruction of fair Laston…



March 10, 2011 18:00

Session 4
wherein our heroes learn what befalls the arlain’s enemies

As afternoon wore on the following day, strong winds blowing in from the East brought with them dark clouds, threatening an early darkness and heavy rains. Looking about, our heroes found shelter in the lee side of a steep hill where a thick grove evergreens of offered some protection from the coming rains and quickly set about cooking dinner before the prospect of a warming fire dwindled. The clouds arrives, darkening the sky hours before sunset. The rain followed soon after, a torrential downpour that reduced visibility to a scant few dozen feet. But in the background, Glia and Kore heard the sound of a woman calling out. After their encounter the previous day they were loathe to investigate, but Valeran could not look past the potential for there being someone in genuine distress and went to investigate. The others followed somewhat reluctantly, keeping him in sight less they lose him altogether in the heavy rains, as he carefully made his way to the east.

Soon Valeran reached a low stone wall some three feet in height. A hundred feet away he saw a cluster of small buildings in front of a ruined church. As he approached, he saw a pair of boots disappear as someone was dragged into the small building to the north while someone else pulled a young girl into the building to the south. In the door of the ruined church was a woman, calling out names, while a man struggled to pull her into the safety of the church. Valeran rushed to the aid of the closest in need, the man whose boots he had seen, as the others entered the boundary of this small village.

As Valeran reached the small home, he saw several shapes huddled over the unconscious man. These had once been human, but no more. Whatever spark of life they had once possessed had been torn from them, leaving only the residue of a deep hunger that the darkness which dwells in the Shadowfell could fill, reanimating them as ghouls. Valeran charged into their midst, unsure if the blood covering the unconscious man was his lifeblood or simply a grievous wound, elemental energies rising to his will as he struck at the undead.

Glia, not even slowing as she leapt as the stone wall whose height matched her own, ran to the far side of the southern building. Behind it, she saw several more ghouls emerging from a dilapidated stone shed, perhaps once a companion to the ruined church. Running forward, she sliced the arm off one at the elbow, but the creature still stood and clawed back at her with its remaining filthy hand.

As the other heroes crossed over the wall, followed by the druid Mwgu, even more ghouls emerged from the three buildings in front of the church. Soon, a frenzied battle was being waged. The ghoul packleader charged at Kore, its claws tearing into his flesh and leaving him momentarily paralyzed. But Kore was not helpless. Drawing upon his own connection to the Shadowfell, shadows deepened around him momentarily. As the shadows dispersed, Kore was no longer on the in the small green between buildings but on the rooftop of the southern building. But he would not be alone, for one of the lesser ghouls would soon scramble on top of the water-slickened roof to assail him.

Glia faced off against a pair of ghouls, one a lesser ghoul and the other a hulking mass of undead flesh that flailed at her with massive fists. Ducking under their blows, she managed to evade their attacks and strike back at them, but found it difficult to gain the upper hand without allies to hamper their movements and create those openings that she could so effectively exploit.

Valeran struck at the ghoul packleader. The packleader struck back at him with its claws, leaving him temporarily rooted in place. But as the packleader moved on to attack Mwgu, Valeran summoned his arcane powers to fold space, bringing him once more adjacent to the packleader and letting him continue to strike at the creature. But the ghoul soon clawed out once more, tearing into the druid’s flesh. Seizing the opportunity, the packleader tore into the druid with his teeth. Finding the druid’s throat, the ghoul ripped a large chunk from the southerner’s neck. His blood spurting from his severed veins, the druid fell to the earth, a rain of crimson mixing with the torrential downpour until the blood no longer flowed and his spirit had fled to the distant land of his ancestors.

On the roof of the southern building, Kore sliced at the ghoul that had joined him on the roof. Decapitating the creature in one swing, he leapt to the ground to assist Glia. She quickly dispatched the hulking ghoul between the two of them and yelled for him to go to the aid of the others. Kore did, arriving just as the druid fell. Glia felled the last of the lesser ghouls and rejoined the others, where they closed in on the packleader while Beld’s spirit bear attacked it. Shortly, the last of the ghouls had fallen.

Going back to the northern building, they found the man was dead from the wounds inflicted by the ghouls. The young girl fared better; while hurt, she would live. Once they were told the ghouls had been destroyed the people within the church emerged, the screaming woman running to embrace the young girl. She thanked the heroes for saving her daughter and asked about her husband. Valeran shook his head remorsefully, and the woman began crying as she clutched at the girl. The man who had pulled her into the church, away from the ghouls, took her back inside the church. He invited the heroes into the shelter of the old building where they could speak.

There were only seven people in the church, the last remnants of the village. The church itself had once been an imposing structure. Kore reckoned its age as at least 800 years old, but perhaps older. It certainly predated the founding of the kingdom of Callon. What had led someone to build a church out here in the wilds, so far from any trappings of civilization? Long-since faded friezes hinted that this church had once been dedicated to the Primordials. Time had destroyed almost all such ornamentation, leaving a well-built stone building. The villagers had apparently reinforced the structure recently, supplying a heavy wooden door and building thick wooden barricades over the two spots where time had gotten the best of the church, leading to crumbling walls that would otherwise have allowed entrance into the fortification. The people themselves, upon closer inspection, looked emaciated.

Trusi, as the man was was known, explained what had befallen his village of Celaneddog. Two winters ago the Arlain of Blackfork became ill, a hoarse cough settling into his chest. Last spring he began coughing up blood, and he passed away in the autumn. He had outlived his heirs, so the Baron Coluddyn appointed his right-hand man Cidum as the new Arlain. Having grown up in Blackfork, Cidum had left the village at the age of 15 and found employment in the Baron’s service some 13 years ago, rising to become a trusted confidant of the Baron. As Arlain, he returned to Blackfork with a small number of soldiers already loyal to him. After sending many of the men away to fight against the encroaching barbarian warbands, he embarked on a progress around the other villages he now ruled. Arriving in Celaneddog, he spied a fair young girl, only 10, named Morwen. Her mother had died years before while trying to birth a brother for the girl, and her father had been taken by the Presser, leaving her in the care of her grandfather, a well-respected village elder named Hendad. Had Morwen been older he would surely have welcomed the marriage proposal, but as the Arlain intended to wed the girl immediately he refused. Angry, Cidum departed with his soldiers.

A week later, soldiers from Blackfork arrived again in Celaneddog. Claiming that the proper taxes had not been paid, they confiscated several of the finest livestock in the village. They would return again, every fortnight, with this same story and each time taking more livestock. As this last winter settled in, the village found themselves bereft of both sheep and chickens, and the soldiers even began to take a portion of the grains and other food stores. Slowly, the village was being starved. The villagers sent a representative to the Baron, asking for him to intercede with the Arlain, but their messenger returned to them badly beaten and bearing the message that they should not bother the Baron with such matters and should instead submit to the will of their rightful Arlain.

A fortnight after the last of the livestock were taken, a few of the villagers disappeared. In time, more met the same mysterious fate. Several families departed the village in winter, intent on reaching Millston and finding a new life there. A few returned weeks later, telling of fierce winter storms and days spent lost in the maze-like valleys that our heroes had so recently traversed. Some failed to return for months, and when they did return it was as the ghouls that had just been laid to rest. Valeran explained that sometimes ghouls were birthed from the bodies of cannibals, sending a shudder down everyone’s spines. Trusi continued, explaining that the ghouls had attacked each night, killing several of the villagers before the nature or extent of the threat was understood. People would bar their doors and shutter their windows before nightfall, but the villagers continued to dwindle.

A little over a month ago, the soldiers of Blackfork had made their last visit to Celaneddog. The villagers implored them to help against the ghouls, but the soldiers said they had brought this upon themselves. One soldier said that the villagers probably wished they had sent Morwen with the Arlain he had asked, and suggested that they might want to send her to Blackfork as an offering of peace. Hendad protested, going so far as to strike one of the soldiers. The troop set upon him, beating him badly. The soldiers then departed with both Hendad and Morwen, still refusing any aid to the village.

The attacks by the ghouls grew more potent and even some who had taken precautions were dragged away by the voracious undead. It was then that the villagers began reinforcing the old church and sheltering there come nightfall. By today there were only a handful left, huddling here in the church each evening and preying for deliverance. Each day, some ventured out into the surrounding forest to gather more food. Unfortunately, the storm today had darkened the sky and emboldened the ghouls, who came out for their nightly hunt early. The young girl they had rescued had been out picking berries for dinner; her father went out to collect her but they failed to make it back in time. The heroes heard Presen’s cries for help and arrived in time to save her daughter, but not her husband. Kore reminded Trusi that they too had lost a companion in this struggle against the undead, but Trusi grew angry at this. Had he not lost an entire village? How could they compare the two losses? But it was clear his anger was born of frustration, and he bore no ill will towards the saviors of these few remaining survivors. Valeran comforted him, saying that they would deal with this Arlain.

Drawing close together into a corner of the church, the remaining villagers huddled on makeshift beds, the heroes discussed possible courses of action. There seemed no point in journeying to Meadowbrook now. Home of the Baron Coluddyn, they should expect no assistance from there. What was Cidum’s plan? How would the downfall of Laston at the claws of the kruthik have enriched him? And why set bandits upon the border of the two baronies? This was an act of belligerence, if not outright war. Was there to be a civil war between the Barons to accompany the struggle against the barbarians to the south?

Overhearing a bit of this conversation, the woman Presen approached the heroes. She said she had a cousin in Blackfork, a woman named Selu, whom she trusted. If they so desired, she could provide directions on how to reach her cousin. Although she had not heard from her cousin in some time, she felt she could rely upon her to assist in whatever fashion they would need. Perhaps Selu could tell them more of Blackfork, or even hide them if they decided to sneak into the town?

Turning to the more immediate needs of these half-starved, oppressed villagers, the heroes decided to rest here overnight in the church with them. Provided there were no more ghouls, it should be safe for them to return to their homes tomorrow once the druid and Presen’s husband were laid to rest. The villagers could gather up their belonging and prepare for the journey south to the Gwynedd River and from there on to a new home. While they made their preparations, the heroes could hunt up sufficient provisions to see the villagers through the journey. With the villagers well-supplied, the heroes would continue on to Blackfork.




March 17, 2011 18:00

Session 5
wherein our heroes confront Cidum, Arlain of Blackfork, would-be destroyer of Laston
wherein our heroes face soldiers of the Arlain, and learn of Krehir’s village

Story

  • The heroes stay at the church overnight
  • The next day they go hunting to provide for the villagers during their travel to Millston to find a new home.
  • They encounter a group of the arlain’s soldiers, two halflings and three humans. The halfling sergeant was confronted by the other halfling soldier while the others look on. After a staredown, the sergeant backs off and it appears the other halfling was now de facto leader. When the soldiers spy Krehir, one says, “A goliath? I thought we got rid of all of them.” Combat ensues; the human soldiers are killed, but the two halflings are taken prisoner.
  • Krehir questions the halfling sergeant, who says that Cidum led troops to a goliath village in the north. The Arlain easily killed the goliath champion in single combat, and the village surrendered. Krehir becomes enraged at the sergeant and throws him to the ground, dashing his brains out.
  • The party questions the remaining halfling. He says that the goliath had been given to a King in the north, but he didn’t know who or where. The party isn’t aware of any other kingdoms in the Four Kings.
  • The party dumps the bodies in a ditch, covering them with brambles. Just like the redcaps did with their victims.
  • The halflings had some regenerative abilities, apparently coming from a potion. Beld acquired one dose of the potion, which appears to contain some amount of blood.
  • Before the fight, one of the human soldiers dropped to the ground and wandered around a pond like an animal.
  • The party brings the food they caught back to the villages and departs for Blackfork.
  • They travel to Blackfork, sneaking up to the home of Selu and meeting her. She tells them that the arlain is gone alone to visit his hags, who live to the northeast. He is expected to return tomorrow. She also tells them about Morwen’s fate. She was brought to Blackfork, and something so bad happened to her that Selu couldn’t bring herself to speak of it. Morwen’s grandfather was killed, and then she was given to the hags.
  • The group decided to travel north and visit these hags. Perhaps they can rescue Morwen. They were undecided what to do if they spotted Cidum returning on the road, as this might be their best opportunity to catch him alone and unawares. However, they don’t know anything about his combat prowess other than he could easily best the champion from Krehir’s village.

Introductions

  • Selu, cousin of Presen (whose daughter they rescued from the ghouls). She lives on the edge of Blackfork, and appears to have little liking for Cidum.

Character Development

  • Knowing that the interrogation wasn’t going to be pleasant, Valeran went after the soldiers’ horses. Did he not have the stomach for it, or is he just willing to turn a blind eye to things he finds immoral if it benefits him?
  • Krehir killed the helpless halfling sergeant out of anger.
  • Glia killed the other bound halfling by slitting his throat. She wasn’t going to leave an enemy where it could threaten her later.
  • Kore is now wearing clothing more reminiscent of a priest of Kalidril the Sorrowmaker.




March 24, 2011 18:00

Session 6
wherein our heroes confront Cidum, Arlain of Blackfork, would-be destroyer of Laston

Story

  • The heroes travel northeast towards the hags, knowing they may encounter Cidum along the way. They debate how to proceed if that happens, but end up taking a “wait-and-see” approach. The heroes turn off the northern road onto a little-used trail Selu had described as the route to the hags. When they heard hoofbeats from an approaching horse, Glia climbed a tree to set an ambush. Kore followed suit and everyone made ready. When the mounted figure appeared, it was a well-appointed halfling in heavy armor with a mark over his right eye – Cidum, Arlain of Blackfork. The ambush was sprung.
  • The PCs attacked, dealing a tremendous amount of damage to the halfling lord. Thanks to some slight regeneration and his healing abilities (Lay on Hands), he managed to deal some damage back to the PCs while they unloaded the vast majority of their daily powers. Eventually, they managed to damage him grievously enough to trigger a change in Cidum. His armor falling off, he took the form of a wolf and fled. After they dispatched his warhorse, they followed him.
  • Desite the difficulty in keeping up with their fast prey, the PCs finally managed to catch up with him just after he reached some ruins on a hilltop to the east. As they approached the Arlain, they realized that he had apparently opened a portal to another world and brought an ally through. The ally was a gremlin, a fey goblin of sorts that was invisible to everyone adjacent to it, making it hard to strike at the creature. Cidum himself had taken on a third form, a towering beast that’s as much wolf as man – the hybrid form of a werewolf.
  • Glia Gwil realized she could hold the portal shut, and could eventually close it altogether with great effort.
  • The fight proved very challenging. Cidum continued to deal a lot of damage, particularly to Krehir (who kept him marked pretty much the entire battle). The gremlin dealt a lot of damage in the crowded ruins of the small building, hampering everyone’s movement. Eventually, Cidum stood between Krehir and Glia with only a handful of hit points remaining. He made his double claw attack, swinging at Krehir, but he missed with the first half of the attack. Unwilling to violate Krehir’s mark and grant Glia a Riposte Strike, he directed his second claw attack at the warden as well. The blow knocked Krehir unconscious.
  • Cidum still had a minor action, which he could use to make a follow-up bite on someone he had damaged previously this turn. As the unconscious Krehir was the only target, he dropped down next to the fallen goliath and tore out his throat, killing him.
  • Glia finished Cidum off, leaving only the gremlin who quickly tried to flee. He was quickly pursued and killed.

Introductions

  • Cidum was finally confronted and killed.

Character Development

  • Kore is obviously upset by the death of Krehir
View
The Verdant Land
in which our heroes stumble into the Feywild, land of the Faerie


Session 1
Returning from the kruthik nest, our heroes checked on the townsfolk to learn their fates. To their great surprise, they learned that while some of their neighbors suffered serious wounds, none were killed in the attack. Realizing that the druid was still their greatest lead on the source of the threat to Laston, they set off after him. Walking for hours, the heroes finally caught up with the druid at his makeshift camp for the night in the mountains to the northwest of town. Glia and Kore attempted to sneak up on him, but he heard their approach and girded himself for the coming battle. Once he realized who it was, though, he quickly surrendered himself to their custody again. Camping the night, they returned to Laston the next morning.

Taking him before the Mayor and the Reeve, the druid was again questioned about his role and dutifully told his story yet again. After a good deal of discussion and debate on the part of the heroes, it was decided that word should be sent to the Baron Greenspire at his home in Stoneroad. Getting word back would take a week. The townsfolk would not yet be told of his role in the kruthik attack, lest they take justice into their own hands. In the meantime, the druid would remain in custody. Alastrianna appointed Valeran the druid’s watchman until the Baron could decide his fate.

Our heroes had several theories on why someone would attack the town. Perhaps someone wanted to strike at the Mayor by destroying his town? Or perhaps another person in town was the target. To learn more of the Mayor’s past, our heroes decided to pay a visit to Auntie Elspeth. Since that trip would only take a couple of days, there was plenty of time before the messenger dispatched to the Baron would return. And so the next morning our heroes set out, druid in tow, for Auntie Elspeth’s valley.

The trip went smoothly, and once our heroes arrived at the Auntie’s home they were welcomed inside. Introductions were made between the druid and the old woman. They explained the kruthik attack and asked if she knew of anyone with a grudge against the Corliss family; Elspeth explained that just about everyone who had met that family had grounds for a grudge, but she knew of none that would seek to destroy Laston to repay the Corliss’ unkindness. Kore persisted in asking why Elspeth had moved from the valley so long ago, and Elspeth finally relented and told her tale. She was married at sixteen, and widowed two short years later. Chauncey Corliss, then mayor of Laston, wanted his son Carlisle to marry Elspeth, but she would not dishonor her husband’s memory. Chauncey pressured her, threatening that she could not raise her son alone, and gradually the townsfolk began to subtly turn against her, either out of concern for her well-being or out of fear of retribution from the Mayor. And so she left Laston, 55 years ago, moving to the valley where she has lived ever since.

As Elspeth finished her sad tale, the sound of someone running towards the cottage could be heard. Going to investigate, our heroes saw a familiar face – the boggart Skipjot, running as fast as he possibly could, exhausted, and frightened. He begged for their help, gasping that someone had shared his entire warren, and he could not find them. After getting him to calm down a bit and tell his story, they pierced together that the other boggarts in his warren had gone missing. First, half the warren had vanished, Now, the last dozen were gone as well. He begged the Auntie for help, and our heroes were happy to oblige. After some debate, they decided to leave the druid in the care of Auntie Elspeth , extracting promises from him that he would not leave the valley until either Kore or Valeran came for him. Leaving with Skipjot, they traveled to the warren a few miles northwest of Elspeth’s valley.

The warren itself, a jumble of small, makeshift tents and lean-tos built from sewn-together scraps of cloth, was empty, just as Skipjot had said. Looking around, they found some tracks that led northward. Following the tracks, they came to a small animal trail that the boggarts had apparently themselves followed, and there they discovered the dead body of a boggart. He had apparently become caught in a trap, where he had died from blood loss as he tried to free himself. A thorough search revealed blood where others had also been trapped, but all the traps had been taken along with their victims. The heroes continued to follow the trail north, when they heard a boggart’s scream cut short.

Running towards they sound they had heard, our heroes emerged into a clearing that held a circle of dolmen. Most of the circle still stood, but one on the west side had fallen to the ground. In the center of the circle stood a lone standing stone. Chained to the north side of the dolmen were a group of boggarts. One lay dead, his skull cracked open, the trapper Roon still standing above the bloody body with heavy knife in hand. As soon as the heroes entered the clearing, his hunting dogs began to bark and moved towards our heroes. When they ignored Roon’s threats of what would happen should they not leave immediately, they were attacked by the largest dog, Thorn. Roon followed suit by throwing one of the traps that hung from his belt at Valeran. The trap caught the swordmage by surprise, latching onto his leg and hobbling him. The heroes moved to engage the dogs and the trapper, and a bloody battle ensued. They learned that Roon’s blade bore not just the blood of the boggart, but also a poison that burned the flesh it cut. Valeran realized, much to his chagrin, that his trap was his very own construction, forged under the tutelage of his father and master, and he had done well indeed for it proved all but impossible for him to free himself. But the trapper was outnumbered by the heroes, and they soon scored a vicious blow that seemed to make the battle’s end imminent. And then the world shifted.

Looking about, our heroes realized that the world was at once the same and different. The colors of the grass were vibrant, the flowers’ scents strong they rode upon the gentle breeze. The circle of dolmen was still present, but all stood where but a moment before one had been fallen. Inside the circle lay a pool, not a standing stone. There were hounds here, but not the muscular breed that Roon favored; these were long and lean, their coats a shade of green, and when they growled they revealed a mouth full of thorns instead of teeth. Boggarts were chained to a stake near the north dolmen, but their captor was not Roon the trapper but a <href>satyr, a decadent mixture of man and beast, with the legs of a goat, torso of a man, and a human head with a goat’s ears and horns. Was this the Feywild, the land of Gwenowyn, realm of the Faerie?

Seeing the heroes, the satyr drew a curved bow from his back and ordered his hounds to attack these intruders. Springing up on the nearest dolmen, he unleashed a pair of arrows – one at Kore, who was closest, and one at Valeran, who still struggled to free himself from his handiwork. Both arrows found their homes, boring deep into the heroes’ flesh. The battle raged on for several minutes, Glia and Krehir following the satyr onto the top of the dolmen. But even as they seemed to gain the upper hand, the world again shifted and they once more found themselves in the middle world, the world of their birth, where the trapper Roon seemed bewildered by their new positions on the battlefield. Had no time passed in this place while they fought the satyr? The heroes were unsure, but wasted no opportunity to finish what they had started. And just as Kore struck a decisive blow to the trapper with his own poisonous blade, our heroes once more felt themselves shift into the Feywild.

Once more confronting the satyr, Valeran tried to pull it from atop the dolmen with a leash of lightning, but it failed to fall to the ground amidst our heroes. Realizing the battle was lost, it leapt from the dolmen into the woods, running with a speed the heroes could not hope to match and was soon lost to sight.

And thus our heroes found themselves victorious on the battlefield, but still in this strange land. What boggarts are these, corralled here by this satyr? What became of Roon, still in the other world? And how are our heroes to return to Laston?




January 27, 2011 18:00
Session 2
In which our heroes must brave the Feywild to find their way home

Looking about, our heroes found no new threats so they turned to the chained boggarts. Once released from their chains, the boggarts all fled to the safety of the nearby woods, but one remained at the very edge of the clearing around the dolmen circle. From the shelter of the bush, his large eyes still visible through the foliage, he introduced itself as Nib and thanked them for freeing his warren from the satyr Rook. “Rook?” Kore mused. “That’s strangely similar.” He went on to ask if Nib knew anything about the trapper Roon or other boggarts taken to this circle, but Nib knew nothing of the goings-on in the Middle World. He did explain that Rook worked for the Baroness Elespiel, whose lands lay to the southwest, and that he was likely gathering the boggarts so they could be hunted for sport. When asked if he knew how to reactivate the dolmen circle and return our heroes to their own world, Nib said he was unable to help them but that he knew a group of spriggan had a temporary camp on the road nearby, and that they had a witch who might be able to help them return to their homeland. Seeing no other good option, the heroes elected to find these spriggan and see if bargain could be struck with them. As they left the boggart Nib behind, Valeran explained that spriggan were once gnomes in the Feywild. Imprisoned by a race of deformed giants known as Fomorians, the friendly nature of these gnomes was slowly twisted. While they can still be friendly and helpful, over time they will become somewhat nervous and agitated. This inexorably builds until they eventually go on a murderous spree that ends with them dipping their caps in the blood of their victims as a sign of their prowess. The red caps dry and turn brown as the spriggan calm down, resuming their friendly nature until the cycle starts once again. The heroes would have to be careful around the spriggan, lest they incite them.. Traveling south, the heroes discovered a worn road, and following the boggart’s suggested they turned to the east. They soon saw a small camp near the road, and heeding Valeran’s advice they approached cautiously. They were soon greeted by the apparent leader, a spriggan fellow named Gludd. While they spoke with him, the other spriggan in the camp continued with their chores and left them alone. Gludd confirmed that there was a spriggan witch in the camp, and that she might be able to help them return to their home. He called for her, and soon she emerged from one of the tents. Introducing herself as Gwrach, she asked for their tale. As they spoke of their sudden appearance in the Feywild, they noticed the spriggan in the camp watching them with increasing interest. Once she understood their predicament, Gwrach offered a deal – the heroes would travel further east and slay a beast called the Anghenfil that has been preying on travelers along the road, and in return she would try to reopen the gate using a charm she had recently acquired from a hag. When our heroes questioned her ability to open a passage for them, Gwrach was quick to indicate that she believed the hag’s charm capable of the feat. But our heroes could not help but notice the restlessness of the spriggan watching when they questioned the witch’s abilities, several fingering the flensing knives at their belts. Since the charm would be consumed in the effort, Gwrach demanded the slay the beast before she would try. Seeing that bargain as fair, and eager to depart before the spriggan gave in to their twisted nature, the heroes agreed and asked what she could tell them of the Anghenfil. Gwrach explained that it was a creature not unlike the mountain lions in the Middle World, but black as the darkest night. It surely lived not far from the road it frequented, so finding it should take only a modest effort. And so our heroes set out to find this Anghenfil and trade its life for passage back to the Middle World. Traveling east, they came upon tracks that belonged to some form of great cat, almost certainly the beast they sought, but Glia lost the tracks a bit south of the road. Valeran suggested that the beast might have a den in a cave further up the mountainside, but he quickly became restless with the search and settled on a different approach. Grabbing a pot, he began making as much noise as possible in an effort to lure the beast into the open. Loud noises in the Feywild are certain to draw attention, and they soon hear the rustling of a large creature approaching. Laying in wait for the beast to emerge, they were disappointed to discover this was a not a great panther as they had expected of the Anghenfil, but something far stranger. Its lower body was that of a bear, but it bore the head of a owl, with a great snapping beak. Its front legs ended in long talons that looked ideal for grabbing and holding prey. Seeing Valeran, it charged. Hidden on either side of the clearing in the brush, Kore and Glia struck. Kore’s weapon carved a deep wound in the left side of the beast as it struck Valeran a mighty blow that sent him reeling. Glia charged the beast, cutting into its right side. Valeran slashed at the creature, inflicting even more damage, and healed his cousin with inspirational words. The owlbear was not deterred by their massed attack, and slashing out at both of them it carved wide paths in their flesh with it talons. Valeran, bleeding badly from his wounds, fell to the ground unconscious. Kore moved in, his thin blade sliding between two of the owlbear’s ribs. The beast shrieked in pain, its screech deafening. Kore fell to the ground, clutching his now-bleeding ears in agony. Luckily, Glia maintained her composure. Grabbing a potion from Valeran’s belt, she forced it down the unconscious swordmage’s throat. The warm honey took effect, and they saw his wounds begin to stitch closed before their very eyes. Valeran soon stood and began to fight back at the beast once more, but Kore continued to writhe on the ground in agony. Glia blinded the beast temporarily, but as it flailed about with talons it

landed a lucky blow on the swordmage that once more knocked him unconscious.
Glia was unsure what to do. With no training in the healing arts, aiding in Valeran’s recovery seemed doubtful. And even if she should restore him, the owlbear could still present an overwhelming challenge with Kore still unable to reclaim his sense. Seeing no other viable option but still torn by her decision, she hoped for the best for the swordmage even as she struck at the owlbear rather than try tending to her friend’s wounds. Her blade slid into the belly of the owlbear. As it regained its vision, the owlbear turned and fled the clearing. But before Glia could turn to the aid of her fallen friend or Kore could regain his senses, the young swordmage let out a dying gasp as his spirit departed.

Finally, Kore came to and realized what had transpired. He and Glia conferred, and settled upon the only plan they could come up with. They would drag Valeran’s body to the castle of the Baroness Elespiel, and hope to strike some bargain with her to restore their fallen comrade to life. They would need to avoid the spriggan; if they had been contemplating an assault upon the heroes earlier they would surely not hesitate to strike them now that their numbers had dwindled. And so they built a travois, and placing Valeran’s body upon it they began dragging it westward through the woods in an effort to skirt the spriggan camp. Several hours later they turned to the north and rejoined the road, the camp well behind them and they continued their journey as evening turned to night. The moon rose, shedding ample light for them to continue their journey westward. Sometime after midnight, they came to the lip of a familiar valley. It certainly looked like the road into Laston, but in the Middle World they would have to travel a day and a half to reach the dolmen circle. Here, it had taken them only nine hours to drag the body of Valeran Hardek to this place. And where the Gwynedd River, or some counterpart in this ill-fated land of the Fae? Nothing but abundant plant life here. Down in the valley below, a small keep rose from among the rooftops of a town, perhaps the same size as their own. Reaching an inn bearing a sign of a red cup, they spoke with the innkeeper. Hearing of their plight, he suggested they proceed immediately to the keep of the Baroness. Reaching the castle, Kore and Glia soon spoke with a steward. He brought them into the keep and left briefly to confer with the Baroness, returning to tell them she had agreed to an audience. As he showed them to the sitting room where they would meet the Baroness, he led them past an room whose door stood slightly ajar. Inside the room, they glimpsed a tall, thin eladrin with flowing silver-white hair. She berated an eladrin she addressed as Caber who knelt on the floor in front of her. From it comments, it seemed that Caber had deserted her service and been brought back. She warned him against any further attempts, and ended their conversation with a brutal kick from her metal-adorned boots that sent him sprawling and bleeding. The steward led our heroes onward, to a lavishly-decorated sitting room open to the night sky, where he left them to await their audience. Soon, the Baroness entered the room, proving to be the figure they had briefly glimpsed through the door a few minutes before. But able to see her face, they were struck by the similarity – despite being eladrin rather than human, the Baroness Elespiel could easily be taken for a twin of Auntie Elspeth. The Baroness Elespiel wasted no time in asking why they requested this audience. As they explained the death of their comrade-in-arms, she seemed unmoved by their plight but did request to see the body. Returning to the courtyard where they had left Valeran’s corpse, they indicated he lay in the handcart provided by the friendly innkeep. With a gesture from the Baroness, the covering cloth slid off the handcart. The body of Valeran rose into the air, suspended as if by invisible hands. Seeing the body, the Baroness became immediately more interested. She told Glia to grab a torch from the nearby wall sconce. Doing as she was directed, the halfling carried the torch closer to Valeran’s body and waved the smoke near his head. Inside the hazy smoke, the faint but unmistakable form of a glowing crown was visible. Not the simple circlet that Kore had seen before during the kruthik attack, this crown bore three prongs. As the smoke continued to waft around the head of the corpse, the crown seemed to be slowly growing brighter. “I have seen enough,” the Baroness said. “I will restore your dead friend to life. In exchange, you will each owe me one favor. At some point in the future, I will call on you to perform a single task. You will not hesitate or equivocate; you will complete the task immediately. That is the only bargain I will offer you; choose quickly before his soul has traveled too far to return.” Kore wasted no time in agreeing to the eladrin’s offer. How could he do otherwise? How would Harvel take the loss of his beloved adopted son? Regardless of the price, it must be paid. Glia, too, was fearful of the bargain. What manner of favor would the Baroness call in? What task could she set before them? Glia knew the stories of fey bargains – one never got what one expected in the deal – but what other choice did she have? And so, discomforted but seeing no other choice, Glia too quickly accepted the offer before them. And thus the deal with the fey Baroness was sealed. As a steward showed our heroes to a sleeping chamber where they could rest from the long day, the lifeless body of Valeran Hardek floated before the Baroness towards a waiting ceremonial chamber.




February 10, 2011 18:00
Session 3
In which pacts are sealed, and our heroes once more turn their eyes towards a journey home

Waking from their restful sleep after a long night, our heroes enjoyed a sumptuous brunch. While the Baroness’ healer attended to Valeran, the reluctant soldier Caber was instructed to show them around the town. Caber explained that the town was named Mondref, and while exploring the environs our heroes saw that it was very much a reflection of their own home. Buildings and streets seemed familiar, including a building that had burned down recently. Caber explained that the home had belonged to a gnome named Barnydd who had recently been critical of the Baroness, and that she had prevented anyone from aiding his family during the fire that ultimately claimed their lives.

Where the Gwynedd River flowed through Laston, there was only a wide, dry ditch in Mondref. Caber explained that the Gwynedd River (using the same name for the river as is used in the Middle World) had quit flowing through the valley in protest of the Baroness’ actions, leaving the trench they saw. He told the tale of how the Baroness gained her position – she gained the trust of the previous iarl (the ruler of their town) by marrying his son Brenin, then betrayed them. She killed the iarl and assumed control of Mondref, while Brenin fled town with their newborn son. Now she has forbidden anyone to speak their names, and they are called the Courtless. She marched to the seat of the Baron, ostensibly to aid him against a fomorian attack, but refused to commit soldiers to his defense. The Baron was killed and Elespiel assumed the title of Baroness, grudgingly acknowledged by High King Galawnt out of necessity. Indeed, the town was making preparations for its defense, as the fomorians have taken lands to the east of Mondref and are encroaching steadily. Krehir participated in some drills with the local eladrin, who took advantage of the opportunity to spar with one who bears similar weaponry to their enemy the fomorians.

Gwil asked to visit the church, and Caber led her to a grove on the west side of the valley. A dense stand of trees grew there, heavy fog cloaking everything within. Caber told her their spiritual leader, the Fogborn, dwelt within. As Gwil entered, she heard a warm voice greet her. She spent some time within the trees, conversing with the spirit. It asked of her religious beliefs, and how she would feel if the hidden Primordial Gwenowyn should return. Gwil answered haltingly, but truthfully, that she was unsure. The Fogborn, satisfied with her response, conversed with her for a while before she departed.

The deal they had struck with the Baroness weighed heavy on Glia’s mind. Had Kore bartered away her very soul? Caber insisted that there was always a way out of any fey bargain and encouraged her to find some loophole, but she pointed out that he still served the Baroness despite his wishes. He sighed, reluctantly agreed, and begged her not to give up hope.

During the day, as the parallels between the Middle World and the Feywild became apparent to Kore, he questioned Caber on the timing of events. The fire that claimed the lives of Barnydd and his family had occurred almost two weeks before, contrasting to the fire in Laston caused by the kruthik only three days ago. He asked about Alastrianna and her escape from the Baroness; Caber recalled that the events had occurred perhaps thirty years before and the escape was aided by a human woman in her thirties and a half-elf, one of whom could summon storms. That would make Dawn Villestre the right age to have come to the assistance of Alastrianna, just before the eladrin moved to town. Kore filed this knowledge away for later, questions of how time flows between the Middle World and the Feywild still unresolved.

As the day turned to evening and the moon rose in the sky, the ritual to restore Valeran was completed on the north edge of the valley. He awoke, naked, upon a stone table. Vines wrapped around his midsection where the owlbear had savaged him. Above him stood a wilden, a fey creature that is perhaps more plant than animal, but with a kind visage. She introduced herself as the Lady Ivy. Her skin was green and plant-like, but supple. Tendrils of her namesake fell from her shoulders, forming a cloak that resembled the magical cloak worn by Gwil. Vines provided her with modest clothing, if indeed that was important to her; small berries on the vines were red, yellow, and orange – autumnal colors – lending her a sense of age. She helped Valeran to his feet and led him towards the Baroness’ palace. Along the way she explained that she had restored his body, but the Baroness had been the one to call back his spirit. She took him to the sleeping chambers and left him there, where he shortly encountered his friends upon their return from dinner.

After a round of hugs in way of greeting, Caber asked how they planned to proceed. Glia suggested they return to the Middle World as quickly as possible. Caber pointed out that the Baroness could likely provide a route, but cautioned against any further bargains with her. They quickly settled on the proposal to continue on the quest the spriggan witch had laid before them, the hunting of the beast called the Anghenfil. Having slept well past morning, and informed by Caber that all journeys in the Feywild are best begun by moonlight, Caber guided them from the palace to the edge of Mondref without further interaction with the Baroness.

Walking eastward along the road, several hours of travel brought them near the spriggan camp. They detoured around in an effort to avoid unnecessary contact with the spriggans, in case they should become incensed and attack. They found the tracks of the Anghenfil once more, and following the tracks back laid a trap for the beast using a rabbit bound in a snare.

Shortly, just as the sun rose, the Anghenfil approached the snare. Our heroes saw that the beast was not just a great cat, but a displacer beast, a powerful catlike creature with a pair of whipping tentacles that uses illusion to disguise its true location. Taking the beast unawares thanks to their well-laid ambush, the heroes struck at the Anghenfil. Krehir led the way, his powerful blows stripping the creature of its concealment and allowing others to strike true as well. Soon, the beast lay slain in the dewy grass.

Taking the body to the spriggan camp, our heroes arrived just as the spriggan finished breakfast. The mood of the camp was cheery, and they were greeted warmly by the leader Gludd. They could not help but notice his cap, a vivid red as if recently dyed, and knew that the spriggan must have slated their bloodlust somehow. Showing the spriggan the body of the Anghenfil, the witch Gwrach agreed to keep her end of their bargain and so they broke camp and set out for the dolmen circle. Once there, Gwrach drew out a small box and opened it. Inside lay a heart, slightly bigger than a human fist, a bloody red and apparently still stirring of its own accord. The spriggan has said the charm was a recent acquisition from a hag they had dealing with; what manner of dealings allowed one to remove the heart and keep it still beating? Their intent to return to their home outweighing their curiosity, they allowed the witch to continue. From where they stood inside the dolmen circle they began to see the Feywild waver, as if heat rising from the dolmen stones obscured the landscape. The air cleared, and our heroes once more found themselves in the Middle World, the land of their birth. Where it had been early morning in the Feywild, the light here was that of the late afternoon. Casting a long shadow as it hung from one of the stones, bound at the neck, was the lifeless body of the trapper Roon. From the discoloration of his lips and eyes, it appeared that Kore’s parting poisonous shot had done the trapper in.

Traveling south, they soon found Skipjot’s warren. Other boggarts were about, but hid at their approach. Skipjot was braver, and conversed with them for a short while. They learned that while they had been in the Feywild for a day and a half, the boggart believed them to have been gone only a handful of hours. Tired, but desiring to rest in the relative safety, they began the walk back to Auntie Elspeth’s valley.

View
What Lies Beneath
in which spring brings travelers to Laston, for both weal and woe

Session 1

Five weeks have passed since the end of our last adventure. It has been a busy time for all of Laston. A few of the elderly passed away from the waterborne sickness, and Brother Simon presided over their funeral, asking Jakariel the Claimer to speed them on their way to the Celestial Palaces. Next was the Endwinter Feast. Normally a time of great merriment, the mood was dampened by the loss of a few elders and the continued absence of so many loved ones off fighting in the King’s Army. The next few weeks were spent in preparation for spring, when the potatoes and squash must be sown, keeping everyone busy. Now the spring thaw has opened the roads, bringing travelers to Laston. Goran Claysmith, a dwarven merchant, comes bearing pottery in a unique shade of green made from a clay found in the Iron Hills. Hopeful miners come to Laston to lay in a few final supplies before setting out in the hopes of finding precious minerals in the remote areas of the High Valleys. Marrick of Southglen, a traveling troubadour, arrives bearing news from the war.

  • Although many seem to think the Lesser Races will be broken by Highsummer, Baron Coluddyn has already sent out the Pressers to gather more troops. Baron Greenspire is likely to follow suit, which is dire news to many who have come of age to be conscripted since last Summer.
  • Joseph Warwick, who has taken in Krehir, learned that his sons both live. The eldest has lost some fingers, but not his arm.
  • The mercenary dwarven clans from the Iron Hills have seen heavy fighting, and their leader Riglar Glaivebreaker has been killed in battle. Fokhe Gravemaker now rules the clan that Kore hails from.
  • Beld’s father and brother are both faring well, serving as scouts in the Black Forest. So far from the front, they’ve surely seen little action.
  • Glia’s brother Caden lives, but has become despondent thanks to the bleakness of war.

Valeran and Kore learned that their family was soon to have a new member – Ilga Hardek is with child, and expects to deliver in late Spring or early Summer. Harvel and the boys will be working on an extension to the house to accommodate the child.

Alastrianna has been organizing training for the younger children in town, teaching them the rudimentary aspects of combat. She has enlisted our heroes into her effort. Krehir was able to best Kenton in a wrestling contest, but it proved closer than Krehir would have expected given his size advantage. Valeran was engaged in drills when Brett struck an underhanded blow, but his maintained his temper. Others coming to his aid stayed their hands, but heaped harsh words upon Brett. Seeing that, Gage was somewhat more circumspect in his training with Glia.

Glia and her master Grek have been having a difficult time with trapping this season. Many traps have been triggered, but the prey escaped. In speaking with other around town, she learned that this isn’t unique to them. Something appears to be up, and so she set about investigating. Her attempts to catch
whatever is taking animals from her traps yielded no answers but did provide a bounty – a stag, one of the largest taken in some time. It will make fine bacon and jerky once Calyd finishes it in his smokehouse. Meanwhile, Bryant, the youngest son of Krehir’s host, showed him the corpse of a goat, butchered and stripped clean. What manner of beast could do this? Is it the same animal or animals responsible for Glia’s empty traps? Later, Glia detected an unexpected scent on the goat’s remains, almost like cinnamon.

Also arriving in Laston is Arlo Frinazi. Hailing from a merchant family in Trelgar, he is an explorer and archaeologist. After speaking with the Mayor, he approached Beld with an offer to hire our heroes to show him around the area. He’s been speaking with people around town ever since his arrival and is interested in seeing as much of the local sites of note as possible.

  • He’s heard about Krehir’s village, and is interested in getting to see the village of the isolated goliaths, even if it is abandoned.
  • The Knight’s Tomb, whose occupant is unknown, has sparked his curiosity.
  • He would be interested in seeing the dwarven stronghold as well, but is uncertain of the safety of any such undertaking.
  • Once he learned of Auntie Elspeth, and her willingness to talk and tell stories, he indicated he would love to meet her as well.

After some discussion of payment for their services, our heroes set about discussing the possible destinations. Would traveling to the dwarven stronghold rile up Minrath? Is it too dangerous? Although everyone agreed that a trip to Knight’s Tomb was acceptable, arriving there with the new moon is not a good idea. And so it was decided – they would leave in the morning for Auntie Elspeth’s, then continue on to Krehir’s village. The trip should take about a week round-trip, so Arlo laid in provisions and they departed the next day.

As the evening approached, our heroes came to the river where they first encountered Skekrad the River Troll. He again appeared, but he seems to have kept his promise not to harass travelers. Speaking with Skekrad about the strange animal activity, he knew nothing of it but commented that he had just arrived in this river when he first met the group. Asked about his history, he told the heroes a tale of a terrible figure known as the Underking – seen only from a distance, bearing a horned spear, he was terrifying to look upon. From his description, our heroes made him to be some sort of Fey, but his description was unclear as Skekrad fled from his river (a feat which nearly killed him in the undertaking) rather than swear fealty to the Underking through his herald. Thanking Skekrad for his story, and with Arlo insisting on paying for the tale, our heroes crossed the river on a bridge of river rock that Skekrad summoned to the surface, and continued on their journey to Auntie Elspeth and the goliath village.




December 2, 2010 18:00

Session 2
in which we revisit Auntie Elspeth, and see what has become of Krehir’s home

After staying the night near Skekrad’s river, our heroes continued on their journey to Auntie Elspeth’s valley, arriving just before lunchtime. She didn’t seem surprised to see them, as she had a large pot of soup cooking. When asked, she said that a passing boggart had told her of their expected arrival. Our heroes stayed the afternoon and evening with her, working around the valley, while Arlo spoke with her about local history and customs. In particular, he was curious about the boggarts since he knows so little of them.

Auntie Elspeth was able to explain a good deal of things about the boggarts to Arlo and the group. Boggarts live in warrens, spending most of their time exploring and obtaining food, and then bringing back these new experiences to the warren. Status is won by bringing back the most interesting sensations to share with the group – a fragrant flower the others have never seen, an odd bit of metal that used to be part of someone’s wagon wheel, or a fresh pie from someone’s windowsill are all good finds. Decisions are usually made by consensus, with the loudest boggarts getting the most say, but for particularly difficult decisions the warren relies on the wisdom of their nearest Auntie – an older, wiser, and usually female, boggart. That’s where Elspeth’s title of Auntie comes from – after she helped the boggarts out with some difficult problems the boggarts started calling her that, and it eventually spread to the other inhabitants of the High Valleys. Auntie Elspeth continued telling stories throughout the afternoon and evening, Arlo soaking up all the local history.

In the morning, the group set out for the goliath village, Krehir’s home. After a long morning walk, they arrived at the village to find the village in a completely different state of repair to what Krehir had seen. While he was here just months before, the village was deserted, with everything both portable and useful packed up and taken. Now, the buildings are collapsing, with fallen walls in many places, causing roofs to cave in and exposing the interiors to the weather. The ground was covered in pockmarks, small divots left by something similar to spearheads. As the rest of the group looked around the dilapidated buildings, Valeran ventured out a bit to investigate a faint magical presence he felt on the northern part of the village. Some movement in the south part of the village caught our heroes’ attention, but it was too quick for them to see what caused the movement that set them on edge. Before Valeran could return to the rest of the group, the ambush was sprung. Several spiders, each the size of a wolf, leapt a prodigious distance from where they lurked while others swarms of countless smaller spiders emerged from hiding. As Valeran rounded a corner, he discovered the reason for the unusual massing of spiders, and their organized ambush – an ettercap had taken up residence in the village. Ettercaps are monstrous humanoids of very limited intelligence who somewhat resemble the spiders they use as hunting dogs to bring down their prey. Isolated from the rest of the heroes, Valeran let out a battle cry as he engaged the ettercap and its spider swarm.

Krehir took up a defensive position in the middle of the road, using his size and talents to allow the other heroes to maneuver around the spiders. Gwil tried to stay back, out of danger, but several of the spiders managed to get to Beld. Hearing Valeran’s battle cry, Kore moved forward to assist his brother. During the battle, the arachnids managed to poison both Kore and Beld several times, but they were able to shrug off many of the effects thanks to their resilient dwarven stamina. Arlo also moved to assist Valeran, reluctantly gripping his quarterstaff and moving around to where he had last seen the swordmage before the spiders emerged.

Cut off from the others in an alley and trapped between a spider swarm and the ettercap, Valeran fought well, but eventually fell to their combined might. Arlo attempted to revive him, but failed in his first attempt. Eventually, Valeran would regain his composure and crawls towards the nearby spider swarm that had left him unconscious but alive only at the ettercap command. His Sword Burst finally managed to bring down the swarm, the tiny ribbons of force scything through the multitude of spiders that escaped a typical blow from a blade. The ettercap, high atop the roof of a neighboring building, was damaged both by Valeran’s burst and then by acid Kore flung in his direction. A bolt of divine lightning from Gwil damaged him even further, then be fell from the rooftop as the acid did him in. With his demise, the remaining spiders attempted to flee, only to be cut down by the others and they ran for the safety of their tunnels and webs.

After the battle, the heroes searched the village and surrounding area thoroughly, discovering many things of interest in the process:

  • The walls of most of the buildings had apparently collapsed due to tunnels dug beneath them, many only a foot or even less beneath the surface.
  • Kore crawled into the largest tunnel to see what he could discover. The entire area beneath the village seems to be a honeycomb of these recently-burrowed tunnels.
  • While searching the tunnel, Kore discovered a piece of a chitinous pincer. Gwil was able to identify this as a Kruthik, an insect-like reptile that lives in a small hive with others of its kind. They can strip the carcass of their prey, leaving only the bones, much like the goat that Bryant had shown to Krehir. Kruthik are motivated by two thing – food, and the lack of food – with their keen sense of smell leading them to new hunting grounds they can deplete before they move on to the next. But how many kruthik would it take to dig this many tunnels, and why would they come to Krehir’s village after it’s been abandoned and no longer holds any prey for them?
  • Ettercap are scavengers of tools. This one wielded a longspear it had either found or taken off a previous victim. Once they found its filthy nest our heroes discovered it was fashioning a crude shield from a piece of kruthik shell, scraps of rope, and its own webbing.
  • Looking at the tracks the kruthik have made, it appears that they may have moved about in a more deliberate fashion that normal, going from one tunnel to the next while spending little time above ground. This doesn’t seem typical, but what could it mean?
  • Searching around the village, Kore discovered an area where the kruthik had swarmed, either before or after entering the village. The number of tracks there were uncountable, the ground muddy and torn from their spiky feet. Nearby, our heroes discovered the remnants of a small campfire. In checking the ashes, they noticed a faint cinnamon smell lingering.



December 9, 2010 18:00

Session 3
In which our heroes return home to Laston, then decide where to take Arlo next

Having completed their search of the goliath village, the heroes discussed options with Arlo. They could return to Laston, but they were still well-stocked with supplies and other destinations beckon. But where to visit next? The dwarven stronghold is the closer of the two, with Knight’s Tomb lying further west. But is the stronghold too dangerous with Minrath wakened? Kore dismissed such thoughts, saying, “We went they once, and we all came back just fine.” And so it was decided to head straight to the Dwarven stronghold, then visit Knight’s Tomb afterwards. This plan was favored by the heavens as well, as they should arrive at Knight’s Tomb near the full moon, and local custom says the further from the new moon the better when one must travel that way.
Along the way, the heroes encountered another boggart, an easily-distracted fellow by the name of Hogswitch. Despite numerous attempts to clarify his name, it remained unclear if his name involved flogging pigs or swapping them for one another. But after Krehir threw a small stone at the boggart, Hogswitch decided to tag along for a while with the group that had gifted him with such a treasured goliath weapon. Hogswitch spoke of the King of Doors, a great dwarven king who had risen from nowhere to lay claim over all of the mountains – or perhaps, the entire world; the boggart wasn’t exactly clear on that point. He had heard of this great dwarven king from a warren to the south when his warren and this other warren shared some boggarts. After much discussion on the topic, Kore remembered a claim he had made to the hangmen boggart Noggin, “See these mountains? I own these mountains. They all belong to me.” Could Noggin have taken that claim literally? Perhaps. But after an couple of hours spent walking with Hogswitch and his endless questions, they parted ways with the boggart and continues on to the dwarven stronghold.

After reading the book claimed from the goblin mechanic, Valeran was able to share that the name of the dwarven stronghold was Lut Banwel. A Lut is a protected dwarven settlement, anything from a small isolated fort to a sprawling city with a massive keep. Banwel means ‘high place’ – a fitting name for a stronghold nestled in the High Valleys. Arriving at Lut Banwel, our heroes set about exploring the place over the next couple of days.

Previously, our heroes had followed the paths that the goblins had used while they worked on the furnace and drill, leading them deeper into the mountain. This time, they started exploring the more public areas of the stronghold. They found a large corridor, its walls lined with sculpture in relief showing dwarves engaged in all manner of professions – crafting, trade, warfare – that ultimately led to a set of massive gates. Subtle sloping in the corridor had led them to place where the wall sculpture, once showing life-size dwarves, now has the dwarves towering over those who approach the chamber. Opening the massive doors, which must weigh a ton or more each yet swing open with modest effort, the heroes were greeted with what must have been a receiving chamber of some sort. They stood in a half-circle section of flooring slightly lower than the rest of the room. Marks of the floor suggest that statues or large chairs once rested around the perimeter. The ceiling was supported by massive statues resembling rough-cut dwarves, carved from the very stone of the mountain. This was perhaps an audience chamber. For a priest? For a king? The dwarves had taken what they could, and little sign remained to explain this grand chamber. As they continued through Lut Banwel, Arlo made numerous rubbings and sketches .

Continuing their search of the stronghold, our heroes found another chamber reminiscent of the receiving room, but somewhat more modest. The sculpture had a somewhat darker tone to it, which an overriding theme of sacrifice and death. Our heroes entered into a large chamber, with alcoves lining the walls, and each alcove holding a sarcophagus. Each sarcophagus bore a sculpture of an armored dwarf holding a shield. Two giant statues of dwarves, each twenty feet tall, support the ceiling on the far side of the chamber. To enter the chamber proper, they used the two stone bridges over a spiky pit.
Krehir noted that the chamber was slightly tilted towards the pit, the angle of the floor cloaked by more of the deceptive architecture.

As they entered the chamber, the heavy doors fell shut with the sound of a heavy noise. Two stone guardians, each shaped as a dwarf and of appropriate size, detached themselves from each of the two large statues and approached menacingly. To make matters worse, movement in all the alcoves signaled some sort of trap put into action.

The shields held by the dwarven sarcophagi swiveled around, revealing some sort of crossbow device. Furthermore, small doors in the base of each sarcophagus opened and scree began pouring from the first pair of openings closest to the pit, threatening to sweep our heroes into the pit.

The dwarven statues attacked, but proved no match for Krehir, Kore, and Glia as they were dispatched with haste. Scree poured from more and more alcoves, pushing the heroes to the very precipice of the pit, while bolts rained down on the battlefield from the alcoves. Once the stone guardians were destroyed, they began to get clear of the scree and try to deactivate or destroy the crossbow traps. But the chamber’s defenses were not completely assembled yet, for once the scree quit flowing and reached the pit, it formed into a massive elemental and moved to attack. Although the ensuing battle was difficult, our heroes prevailed.

Searching the chamber, they came across several items of note. Levers cleverly concealed in one of the gigantic dwarven statues controlled both the crossbow traps and the bar that sealed them in, allowing for egress from the chamber. Searching the room, they found a few items of notable value to take as prizes for their hard-fought victory. Kore found a large shield, bearing an unknown sigil composed of gold and silver, and likely of considerable value once a suitable buyer could be found, but eventually decided it wasn’t worth the effort. Glia kept a pretty dwarven dagger, somewhat ornate and somehow still sharp after all this time.



December 16, 2010 18:00

Session 4
In which our heroes travel to Knight’s Tomb, final resting place of an unknown lord

After resting overnight in Laston, our heroes set out bright and early for Knight’s Tomb, their trip timed to bring them to the tomb very near the full moon. Before leaving town, Arlo said he had hired a few more townsfolk to accompany him, unless someone would mind having extra company along for the trip. Hearing no complaints, they soon joined up with the others that Arlo had hired – Kenton, Brett, and Gage.

During the journey of just over a day, some of our heroes were ill at ease with their newfound companions. First, they learned that Kenton had negotiated a much more lucrative deal for him and his cohorts than Beld had done for our heroes. Then Brett became restless and began to challenge our heroes to meaningless contests. Given the love of competition common in the goliath, Krehir was quick to accept Brett’s challenges of athletic prowess. A quick contest in tree-climbing was arranged. Despite Brett’s agility and speed, Krehir’s reach and raw athleticism would carry him to the top of the appointed tree slightly ahead of the smaller human, making him the victor in this challenge. Brett took this loss poorly, griping about the unfairness of it for some time while they traveled and making no new friends among the group. Meanwhile, Gage tried in vain to ingratiate himself with Gwil, despite her clear lack of interest.

While camping for the night a few miles from Knight’s Tomb, a pack of krenshar , cat-like pack hunters. The krenshar may have snuck into our heroes camp, but the stillness of the night was broken by a lone wolf, which gave a strange howl and was then chased from its hiding-place by the krenshar. Those who saw the wolf said that it bore a large scar on the right side of its head, as if struck a heavy blow by a blade many years before.

Alerted by the noise of the howl and subsequent chase, our heroes sprang into action. A few krenshar came at the camp from the southwest, but were soon met by the armed heroes. As soon as it looked that they might drive off the krenshar, more appeared from the east. The newcomers, apparently the mated pair that gave birth to the rest of this foul pack, peeled back the skin on their skulls and unleashed a fearsome roar that dazed several of the heroes. Our heroes rallied, though, and fought back against the feline hunters. Eventually, they would slay the second adult and the remainder of the pack would scatter. The newcomers proved useful in the battle, with Kenton inflicting significant damage on one of the adult krenshar and Brett claiming the fatal blow on one of the children as it threatened Arlo. Never one to wait for others for praise, Brett was quick to claim his due credit for his role in the battle. After the battle, our heroes and their traveling companions moved camp and then resumed resting, but the remainder of the night would provide little comfort for them.

Morning arrived and it was decided that an early start to Knight’s Tomb was in order. After a quick breakfast and a short walk, they arrived at the tomb – a small construction, only partially above ground level. Entering revealed a short set of stairs leading further down to a double-door. Opening that door, our heroes saw a chamber, crumbling walls from encroaching roots of the trees above. Beyond that chamber lay darkness, for the even the light from their sunrods was meager, dimmed within the eerie tomb.

As they entered the tomb, they saw massive quantities of salt scattered across the floor in a vague crosshatch pattern. Following the only corridor from this room they came to another corridor that crossed the main path through the tomb. To the north was an chamber, empty save for a small fountain that seems to be magically refilled with fresh water. To the south, they found much more – the burial chamber of the Knight’s squire, and the ghost of the squire, trapped within a barrier of salt.

Once our heroes approached, the Ghost Squire threatened them and heaped invectives upon them for being graverobbers. Once they approached, they got a better look at the Squire, In life, he could have been no more than ten years old, and in hid ghostly state he would never age. He carried his master’s sword and shield, both too massive for him to use. The weight of the shield drug down his left arm; the tip of the heavy sword he could barely keep off the ground. Once they assured him there were not in the tomb to steal, he quietened down and explained his reaction. He was the squire to a great knight in the Order of the Shining Saber, a forgotten order of mendicant knights. His master was laid to rest in the main chamber; the Squire ’s body lay in a sarcophagus in this chamber. Some time back, although he could not say how long since time holds no true meaning for the dead, the tomb was visited by some prospectors who decided to delve into graverobbing for an easy profit. He was able to scare them off, but they returned later bearing a large quantity of salt. Casting the salt before then, they relied on its protective qualities against the unnatural to force him back to this chamber. They then turned their attention to the main chamber, and the Ghost Squire was unable to follow. He begged the heroes to free him from this prison, and after some debate Valeran decided that the Squire seemed just and true. Breaking the salt line, the Ghost Squire now was free to travel further into the tomb with our heroes.

A side passage branched from the main corridor, leading to the south. Quick exploration showed that it led to a set of stairs, but dark water had filled in those stairs. The Ghost Squire begged them to leave this passage alone, warning that dangerous shades sometimes crept from within the Dark Mirror of the water. This must be a passage to the Shadowfell, the dark reflection of the mortal world. Returning to the main corridor, the Ghost Squire and the main chamber beckoned our heroes onward.

As they prepared to enter the main chamber, Valeran saw a ghostly figure within. Dressed as a prospector, shovel and pick hanging from cords on his waist, he stood on the dais in front of the sarcophagus of the Knight. Angered by the sacrilege of undead within this burial chamber, Valeran charged into the room at the wraith. His rashness would prove dangerous, though, for the prospector wraith was without allies. Three other wraiths, spirits of the deceased prospectors, lay in wait in the room. Wisp wraiths, older shades barely able to retain any ability to affect the physical world, also lingered in the room. It appeared that the wisps had slain the prospectors, who then rose as wraiths themselves, filled with a burning hatred of those still living.

Our heroes charged into the burial chamber to rally around Valeran, but they were not alone. Kenton sprung into action, and his cohorts were quick to follow. Brett charged into the room, rash and reckless as always. The wraiths, insubstantial, were resistant to some of the attacks, weapons passing through them while inflicting less damage than one would hope. The wraiths would pass through the dais or even the walls themselves to surround our heroes. Beld and Gwil found themselves face-to-face with a prospector’s wraith where but a second before they believed themselves safe behind the warden’s protection. Worse still, the wraiths would pass through our heroes, leaving them breathless, with icy blood, and sending a shiver throughout their very being. It was this gravewalk that claimed the life of young Brett, his eyes rolled back into his skull, his sword falling from his dying grasp as he fell to the floor of the burial chamber. Gage was knocked unconscious, barely breathing, on the floor as well.

Around them, the fight continued. Kenton and Krehir flanked a wraith, laying it low with sweeping blows from their massive weapons. Valeran continued the assault on the lead wraith. Glia and Kore brought down a second wraith, their weapons moving with blinding speed and they tumbled about the room to attack from unforeseen angles. Gwil laid the wisp wraiths to rest with shards of radiant light. Beld healed those in need, his spirit-bear hampering the wraiths’ movement at every turn. Beld healed Valeran, sealing shut frightful wounds that could soon bring him to death’s door as well. He instructed his spirit-bear to turn its back on the fallen Gage and instead provide healing for Krehir, who still stood mighty against the wraiths.

And then Brett rose, his soul departed, but his animus, the shadow of his soul, was now bound into the form of a wraith. He stood, and saw those who had failed him, who had allowed him to fall, those who had offered him such insult in life. He stepped forward, through Gage, who had befriended him always but failed to protect him when it was most needed. As he passed through, he stole away Gage’s last living breath. His gravewalk next took him to Krehir, who never skipped an opportunity to show him up. He continued, passing through those who had once called him friend and those who felt superior to him, driven by his madness and anger.

The newly-risen wraith that was once Brett threatened our heroes, but their resolve was strong. They continued their struggle, finally striking down the leader of the prospector wraiths. Some turned to focus on the wraith that had been Brett, while others turned to Gage. For his soul had too departed, and another wraith was forming from his animus as his spirit fled to the afterlife. Buoyed by the final destruction of the prospector wraith, our heroes destroyed the wraith that had risen from Brett as well as the one seeking to rise from the shadows of Gage’s death.

And thus the battle ended. Two of Laston lay dead. Gage Alban, sole child to a family forced apart when the war took his father to fight along the King, dead at the age of 12. Brett Treharne, aged 11, survived by two younger sibs, his father also at the King’s side. May they rest in peace, and the Claimer have mercy upon them.



December 30, 2010 18:00

Session 5
In which our deals with the aftermath of the battle in Knight’s Tomb

A profound quiet dominated the burial chamber as our heroes came to realize what had transpired. Kenton stood slack-jawed, silent. Arlo stood likewise. Finally, Kore spoke. “We should gather up these bodies for burial.” After some brief discussion, they decided the carry the two bodies back to Laston. Gwil wrapped the bodies as best she could and performed the Gentle Repose ritual, to preserve the corpses and insure no lingering taint could affect them. Kore instructed Arlo to continue his study of the room; they came here for a purpose so they may as well finish it. Arlo complied, albeit halfheartedly. Kore cast about the room, but found no other exits, so they turned back towards the main corridor that entered this burial chamber on the western wall, only to discover they had visitors.

There stood a Lady, with a greyish tinge to her skin, and eyes that were black orbs, with no discernable pupil or iris. Wisps of the dark fabric of her dress floated about here, as if stirred by a wind that the heroes could not feel. Next to her was a Houndmaster; the same jet eyes, bald, very thin, with a black square tattoo covering the encounter upper-right quadrant of his face. At his belt hung a long knife, serrated and dangerous. He held a leash to a shadowy hound. Similar to a mastiff in shape, but with a black coat and yellow eyes, it snarled at the slightest of movements from the heroes. When it turned its head, an afterimage of its face lingered.

“Shadar-Kai,” said Gwil. “Perhaps once they were human; they served the primordial Marwgoel. When he was overthrown by Jakariel during the Dawn War they were locked in the Shadowfell their master had created, but they sometimes find passage to our world. What do you want, Witch?”

The Lady smiled briefly – a beautiful smile, but one that hints at a humor only she sees. She introduced herself as the Lady Gwawr and explained that she had felt the destruction of her wisps. When asked why she would send such foul things here, she merely stated that she was trying to prevent anyone from using the Dark Mirror to reach her keep within the Shadowfell. She continued, revealing that the Dark Mirror could not always be used as a passage. It might open of its own accord, but it seemed that the deaths of Brett and Gage had opened the passage enough for her and her escort to pass through for a short time. Then the Lady made them an offer – the souls of the deceased had likely not yet reached the Hall of Judgment, and it was within her power to bring one soul back.

The Ghost Squire advised against any deals with those from the Shadowfell. The Lady insisted that the Squire was less than forthcoming, and pressed him to reveal more of the history of Knight’s Tomb to the heroes. Grudgingly, he relented. He explained that the Dark Mirror predated the Knight’s Tomb – the tomb itself was built here to conceal the passage to the Shadowfell. Once, the Dark Mirror lay within a cave below ground. The Squire’s Knight, many years before the Squire came into his service, had learned of the Dark Mirror and sealed the cave shut. Returning years later, he found that a new entrance had formed. Another attempt to seal the passage met a similar fate; the Dark Mirror could not be denied as stone steps had appeared, once again granting passage. The Knight, feeling his own death imminent, came here with his new Squire and many workmen. If the Dark Mirror could not be closed, perhaps it could be disguised? His workmen carved the tomb. What could graverobbers want with a mendicant knight’s tomb? There would be no desire to explore a passage seemingly flooded, as what of interest could lie beyond? And thus Knight’s Tomb came to be; a clever ruse to ward the wicked and the unwary from the Dark Mirror. The Knight was laid to rest within the tomb, his Squire ever at his side.

Krehir cautioned against also against any deal with the Lady. How could one consider this? This wasn’t holy magic; this was dark magic built on ancient pacts made long ago. Who knows what that might do to the newly-restored? The Lady countered that this was merely a soul having been sundered from its body; it would be no different than any divine means of restoring life. Wary of her dark magic, Krehir made to move forward. The Houndmaster, realizing that Krehir’s steps would place him between the Lady and her escort, made ready to spring into action. Noting the Houndmaster’s unease, Krehir stepped back but stayed ready should this visit turn treacherous as he expected.

Kenton demanded that the Lady restore both of his fallen friends, but she said that was not within her power. Kore made an offer of a different sort. “Restore both, and you can take me into your service. A guy like me is handy to have around.” The Lady approached, and looked over the young dwarf appraisingly. “Would that I could, but as I have said such is not within my power and so I could not make such a deal. Perhaps one day I shall come up with another bargain to bring you into my service. My time here is fleeting – if you would have my help, you must choose, and quickly.” All eyes turned to Kenton, but he stood silent, unable to choose between his two boon companions.

It was Kore who spoke up. “Gage. Restore Gage, if you can. Brett’s loss is a tragedy, but Gage is an only child. His family dies with him.” Hearing no dissent, the Lady knelt down. Placing her right hand on the side of the dead Gage’s face, the fingers trailing against his cheek and her thumb covering his closed left eye, she leaned in and gave the body a lingering kiss. After several long seconds, Gage bolted upright. He looked about, confused. His eyes were open, but he seemed to have difficulty movement following as Kenton rushed to his side. His left eye, once the same shade as a doe’s coat, now matched the shadar-kai’s – a solid black orb, no white, no iris, just a pool of darkness. Kore leaned in close and whispered to Gage, “Listen carefully. We had to choose between you and Brett. Only one could come back.” “And Kenton chose me?” “No, I chose you. But don’t forget, you must live for two from now on.”

The Lady rose and turned to leave. Krehir, still weary, watched her pass near him on her way from the burial chamber. She walked slowly from the chamber, the sunrods dimming with her approach. The Houndmaster followed. When the heroes reached the cross-passage, they could just see her head disappear into the black water of the Dark Mirror.

Our heroes again made ready to leave Knight’s Tomb, Kenton carrying the body of Brett and Valeran helping to support the stumbling Gage. As they prepared to depart the entry room, the Ghost Squire again thanked Valeran for his aid, both in freeing him from the salt barrier and in ridding the tomb of the undead. Val asked what the Squire would do now, and the Squire responded by gesturing to the lesser burial chamber and said, “I shall return to where I belong, at the side of my master.” Krehir noticed that the Squire had not gestured towards the main burial chamber, but instead to the smaller burial chamber that held what was presumed to be his own sarcophagus. Krehir asked of Arlo, “Have you learned everything that you wanted to find here?” Arlo replied calmly, “I have made some sketches, and taken some rubbings, and perhaps in a larger city I can find references to these heraldic symbols. As for me, I am eager to be quit of this place.” Sensing some strange anticipation in Arlo’s voice that ran counter to his words, Krehir pressed him slightly. “Will you not return here?” Arlo responded that he had not the stomach for this place, with what had happened this day, but Krehir was sure that there was something more to Arlo than he would admitted. Why was this hint at a secret burial so interesting to him? Hadn’t he been ever so slightly excited to learn of Knight’s Tomb when our heroes first spoke of it? Sensing this was not the time, Krehir let it drop for now, but his mind continued to ponder the possibilities.

Leaving Knight’s Tomb, it was still morning. Arlo and his retinue began the journey back to Laston. Kenton, carrying Brett’s body. Valeran, helping support Gage as he gradually become more steady on his feet. The trip back to Laston was uneventful, melancholy our heroes’ constant companion during their return. During meals, Kenton would attend to Gage, closely looking after him, but once it was time to continue the journey he would again take up the burden of carrying Brett’s corpse. As they entered the valley of their home, he asked the others to wait for a few minutes. He wanted to go ahead, to enter town first and find Brett’s mother to tell her of her son’s death less she learn of it from some other source first. They agreed, giving him a few minutes to reach Brett’s family’s farm and inform his family of his untimely passing before they carried his body into the town and to the church. Val accompanied Kenton. Meanwhile, Kore and Gwil went to fetch Ione Harborough, the town’s best healer, to look after Gage and determine the severity of his lingering injuries.

Our heroes met again at the church. Brother Simon greeted the news with shock, but quickly saw that Brett’s body was laid out properly in the main chamber of the church. Ione arrived and went to look after Gage. His injuries had been well-tended, but she could make nothing of his strangely altered eye. He appeared to have full vision. Alastrianna arrived at the church and, after a brief discussion, everyone agreed that the town would not learn of Gage’s death and resurrection; instead, the official story would be that he was injured, and his eye some form of battle scar. Alastrianna then began taking everyone aside to hear the story of what had transpired at Knight’s Tomb from each of them privately. Eavesdropping, Kore heard Kenton leave out Kore’s offer of service to the Lady. During their conversation, Kenton and Valeran arrived with Brett’s mother Edith. Her disconsolate wailing drove Arlo and the others from the church, leaving only Brother Simon, Mayor Corliss, and Kenton to attempt to comfort her.

Krehir, looking to turn his mind to other topics, spoke with several people around town, trying to learn if any other carcasses picked clean had been found. While there had been no new discoveries of that sort, he did find several people who reported having seeing odd-colored lights in the mountainsides outside Laston.

The next day, all of Laston turned out for Brett’s funeral. Brother Simon spoke, talking of the sorrow brought about by the loss of a child, and the need for the town to support the Treharne family in this time of need. Alastrianna spoke next, telling about the dangers present in the world outside Laston. Brett died fighting against those dangers; in a sense, she said, he had died in the defense of Laston. The Mayor began speaking next, telling stories of Brett’s life and trying to raise the town’s spirits in this dark time.

Meanwhile, Alastrianna and Kore snuck away from the funeral for a prearranged meeting at the Stag and Hounds. They crept upstairs to Arlo’s room. Kore slipped the lock, than Alastrianna stepped inside. Krehir’s suspicions heavy on her mind, she felt she needed to see if Arlo’s journals held any details that might shed light on his purpose in Laston. Did his interest in Knight’s Tomb extend beyond the historical concerns he claimed? Kore moved outside the tavern, watching in case Arlo should return early. And he did, having left the funeral, unwelcome for the role he played in the events that culminated in Brett’s death. Kore spoke to him briefly, then signaled to Alastrianna. A few seconds later, as Arlo entered the tavern and headed upstairs, Alastrianna appeared outside the inn, her fey nature having carried her from Arlo’s room to the street below. Kore asked if she had found anything of interest, and she replied that she had, but was unsure what it meant. She explained that Arlo had one journal not written in Common. It was in a language she could not read, but she had seen the lettering before. Arlo’s secret journal, concealed in his rented sleeping chamber above the common room of the tavern, was written in Abyssal.

That evening, as Krehir finished up work in his host’s farm, he noticed a peculiar absence of birds in the valley. Climbing a nearby tree, he confirmed they had flown from their nests. He also noticed a slight tremble within the earth. Walking around the valley, he could not locate to source to the intermittent rumbling. Finding Kore, they began to search jointly. They noticed an odd light on a nearby mountainside. Making haste, they left Laston and proceeded towards the strange light. Reaching the source of the light, they discovered some sort of ritual in progress. A druid, his head concealed by a mask made from the painted skull of some ancient and giant kruthik, danced around a blue fire. As he cast a powder into the flames, they turned a bright red. Several small kruthik, each the size of a large dog, sat around the fire, mesmerized. A larger kruthik, similarly focused on the druid’s undulations, sat nearby.

Fearing this threat to Laston, Kore and Krehir crept forward, then struck. Kore took out the nearest kruthik, a hatchling, while Krehir moved forward and engaged the kruthik adult. More hatchlings moved from the surrounding woods, while the druid also moved to defend himself from the heroes’ assault. With a gesture, a flame shaped like a small hawk flew from the campfire towards Kore to harry him. As the two heroes continued to dispatch the hatchlings, they also moved closer to the druid. In an effort to defend himself, the druid commanded the grass and underbrush to come to his aid, and soon the grasses began to grapple at the heroes, slowing their movement and sliding them towards the dangerous campfire. The druid then took on another form, that of a towering cylinder of smoke and burning cinders, that offered him some protection from the heroes’ metal weapons. But our heroes were not to be denied, and finally Krehir was able to land a telling blow on the druid. His mask was knocked from his head, to land in the fire. Immediately, the nearest kruthik hatchling began to see him as another enemy, turning on its former master. Soon, the druid found himself backed into a corner, with no obvious avenue of escape. Realizing he was bested, the druid said, “Peace, friend. I yield before your superior might.” Who is this druid? Why has he incited the kruthik? What were his plans for Laston?



January 6, 2011 18:00

Session 6
In which our heroes must come to the defense of Laston itself

On a hillside east of Laston, Kore and Krehir spoke with the druid. Quite willing to speak to his captors, he was forthcoming on a number of topics.

“I hail from the southern continent, a place called the Bezndrik Desert I was a member of a wandering tribe. I learned the secret of controlling the kruthik from my grandfather, a great mwa’a’lish, who used this ability to ward off wandering kruthik and protect our bayt (household). My brother and I quarreled over a woman we both wanted to take as wife. We had a ceremonial duel, which my brother won. I left my bayt rather than stay and suffer the humiliation of defeat.

“During my journey, I stumbled across a great number of the kruthik and took shelter in a cave. But luck was not my friend, for the place I had reached was a great breeding-ground for the kruthik, and the cave, though large, had only one exit. My magics could not influence so many kruthik, and so I was trapped. I tried to wait them out, but they stayed for many days and I eventually began to run low on water. The Dying Wind was coming for me, so I began to commune with the spirit of the cave in the hope that it would show me another way out.

“The spirit of the cave granted me a vision, of a ritual that had once been performed by a powerful mwa’a’lish in this valley. He wore the skull of a giant kruthik, painted with symbols. He summoned a plume of smoke and spoke to the kruthik. He commanded them to depart, and they obeyed. Waking from this vision, I gave many thanks to the spirit of the cave and found the skull of an ancient kruthik. I painted the skull as I had seen in my vision and then I performed this same ritual. The kruthik left the valley, and I was free to go.

“I traveled the lands for many months. I heard stories of your Burning Lands, full of great mountains of fire, and I longed to make a pact with the spirit of a great fire-mount. Then, I could return and take a place of great importance within the bayt. My defeat would be lost within the glory of this new learning I could bring back to my bayt.

“While stopping through your lands, in a place called Farmington, I met a strange man. He asked about my life, and I gladly shared my story with him. When I spoke of the kruthik, he became very interested. He asked if I could get the kruthik to do more than depart a place, and I told him that I truly do not know. In the Bezndrik, the kruthik are vicious, even more so than here, and driving them away from my bayt was the gift I learned from . He told me a breeding ground of the kruthik here in the mountains, and asked me to turn them against a bayt that opposes his own. He offered me a malik’s fortune for this task, and so I came here. And that is my story.”

When asked about the man who has offered his this fortune, he said, “He was not the head of his bayt. I took him for a lesser brother, for he had to consult with another before he could seal the bargain. He seemed to be one who sees to the desires of others. Oh, physical appearance? He was one of your small men, how do you say, ‘halfling’?. He had a large black mark upon his face, a crescent moon over his right eye.”

Neither Krehir nor Kore knew of this man with the mark of the moon upon his face. Why would anyone seek the destruction of Laston, least of all someone from distant Farmington? But the druid told them more; the kruthik were already on their way to Laston, and he had no way to control them now that his mask had been destroyed in the fire. Anxiously, they ran back to Laston.

Meanwhile, our other heroes were enjoying a pleasant dinner at the local tavern, the Stag and Hounds. Arlo had asked Beld to get them all together; he wanted to offer them his final thanks (and final pay) before he returned home to Trelgar. Upon their arrival at the tavern, they noticed Arlo at a small table in the back, the other tables filled with patrons. While he seemed excited when they first saw him, once he noticed them he took on a more subdued manner. Paying them the remainder of their due, he apologized for being unable to offer them a more lucrative reward, but having given Brett’s mother a substantial donation his funds were running low. He said he intended to return to Trelgar, the death of Brett heavy on his mind, but he didn’t seem sincere. He further claimed to be tired, and feeling no longer welcome in Laston after his role in Brett’s death he intended to retire for the evening. He invited our heroes to enjoy the remainder of the evening by having dinner here at the tavern. Leaving them his table, he retired upstairs.

Noticing Roon, a fellow trapper who had some difficulty with the hangmen boggarts north of Laston, Glia when to speak to him. He was dismissive, engaged in a conversation with a traveling merchant, and Glia returned to her seat but kept an ear fixed to their direction. She overheard the trapper talking to the dwarf, a pottery merchant newly arrived in Laston named Goran Claysmith, and heard Roon say, “I can sneak them around Laston and deliver them to the your men on the road to Pinecrest, but after that it’s your responsibility.” Goran agreed to this bargain and left. What goods could Roon need to sneak through town?

Before Kore and Krehir could return to Laston with a warning of the impending danger, there seemed to be a slight earthquake. But as those in the tavern rose from the seats, they learned this was no natural event, for with a great shudder kruthik erupted from the floor of the Stag and Hounds. Moving quickly, our heroes sought to engage the emerging kruthik while guiding the panicked townsfolk to safety. While a couple of the townsfolk were severely wounded, our heroes were able to save the injured and defeat the kruthik just as Kore and Krehir arrived, the strange druid in tow.

Leaving the tavern, our heroes saw that smoke covered much of the streets of Laston. Nearby, yelling could to be heard, urging everyone to form a fire brigade. Calyd Cenn’s smokehouse was on fire. As they want to assist, they discovered that kruthik stumbled around in the smoke, confusedly, while nearby Calyd emerged from his home, which was engulfed in flames. When she heard that their youngest was still inside, Glia charged into the burning building while those outside dealt with the dual threat of the fire and the kruthik coming to their senses.

Inside the burning building, smoke prevented Glia from seeing more than a few feet. She listened carefully and heard the faint sound of a crying baby over the sounds of the fire, and trusting to her memory of her visits to the Cenn house she quickly made her way to the baby just as the burning ceiling collapsed over the front door. Taking the child to the back door, she found that exit blocked. Seeing no other choice, Glia climbed up a burning, half-fallen roof beam to the top of the house, then jumped to a neighboring roof before climbing down. Calyd’s wife was very happy to have her child back safe and sound.

Meanwhile, the fight against the kruthik raged on in the streets of Laston. The thick smoke clouded everything, making it difficult to tell friend from foe. Valeran might have fallen, were it not for some timely assistance from both Alastrianna and Ione. As Valeran charged through the smoke, Kore noticed something never before seen – the appearance of a fiery halo on the young swordmage – but the battle quickly pulled them apart. Just as the last of the kruthik were killed, the church bell started ringing – not the rhythmic tolling that calls everyone to church, but a frenzied chiming born of panic.

The first to arrive at the church, Gwil saw a giant kruthik, most likely the hive lord, but it disappeared underground just as she arrived. As the heroes moved closer to investigate, they ran into a couple of adult kruthik. At Kore’s direction, the druid began doing what he could to drive off the kruthik. As the heroes engaged the adult kruthik, the hive lord burrowed up from belowground, a number of smaller kruthik climbing from the tunnel behind him, to join the fray. Exhausted from their recent fights, with no time to catch their breath between, the battle proved challenging but our heroes were victorious, finally slaying the hive lord.

Will the druid’s ritual be potent enough to drive off the remaining kruthik, without his mask? How has the rest of the town fared during the attack? And what could anyone have against the fair village of Laston to warrant such a grievous attack in the first place?



January 13, 2011 18:00

Session 7
In which our heroes must face great danger to rescue those lost

As the druid finishes his ritual, it did indeed seem that the remaining kruthik were dispersing even while the townsfolk of Laston continued to hunt them down. Taking a moment to finally catch their breath, our heroes’ respite was broken by the arrival of two girls – Nessie and Jessie Currie, who live between Beld’s family and Joseph Warwick’s farm. Notorious gossips, each prone to repeating what the other said, they bore bad news – kruthik had grabbed members of Beld’s family and dragged them into a tunnel. Our heroes set out immediately for Beld’s home, arriving to find a large tunnel behind a shed that led into the very side of the valley.

Entering the kruthik tunnel, with the protesting smoke druid in tow, our heroes navigated the twisting passages newly carved by the kruthik, following the tracks left by the kruthik as they took the dwarves deeper into the earth. Over time, they began to see signs of natural passages mixed in with the kruthik tunnels; they must have discovered this natural formation and decided to expand upon it for a hive.

Finally, our heroes came to a steep slope. Securing a rope to a piton, they climbed down the slope to discover a kruthik busy expanding the tunnels. Interrupted, it turned and attacked them, supported by a number of smaller kruthik. Krehir squared off against the kruthik tunneler, keeping in backing into a corner, while the others made quick work of those kruthik they could reach. One kruthik, largely hidden behind a curtain wall with several small holes in it, continued to pelt them with venomous spikes until it was finally slain by a well-placed blow through the curtain. Our heroes then finished off the kruthik tunneler, only to discover that the druid had fled during the fray. Having climbed up the steep slope using the rope, he had left it in its place. After some brief debate, the heroes determined that they could not risk the time to hunt the druid down and continued on their search for Beld’s family.

After a bit more travel through the tunnels, our heroes came to a massive natural cavern. Roughly circular and just over a hundred feet across, a series of ledges led down to the floor below. Piled in the center of the cavern floor was a pile of dirt and rock, formed by the kruthik and attended by three kruthik young Atop the rock pile, nestled into a depression shaped similarly to a caldera, lay the hive’s queen. Larger than a horse, her long back was entirely covered in green slime and semi-transparent egg sacs. Most of the sacs held tiny kruthik, not quite ready to hatch, but some held larger shapes, dwarves, feebly struggling to free themselves from inside the sacs where they were surely to be food for the newborns.

Glia wasted no time in acting, deftly jumping down both ledges and attacking the nearest of the kruthik young. Intent on freeing the dwarves, Krehir attempted to replicate this feat, with lesser success. After landing badly, he showed the indomitable spirit of the goliath as he refused to be denied and, with a heroic surge, charged up the rock pile and landed a very heavy blow on the kruthik hive queen. In turn, she kicked him down the slope to the floor and unleashed an acidic cloud on the majority of the heroes still standing on the outermost ledge. The green mist hung in the air, threatening the heroes, who tried to move away as quickly as possible. Beld, fearful of a descent down the ledges, remained up top while Kore moved down to engage the kruthik young on the cavern floor with Glia.

Climbing down to the cavern floor, Valeran inscribed a glowing rune in the air before one of the kruthik young to mark it as his chosen foe. Then, faster than the eye could follow, Valeran seemed to be both on the cavern floor attacking the kruthik young and on the top of the rock pile, attacking the hive queen and landing another telling blow on the hive queen. When his chosen foe attempted to attack Glia, Valeran sprung back to her side.

However, the battle seemed to be slowly slipping away from our heroes. Krehir again ascended the slope to attack the hive queen, but failed to connect with his mordenkrad. She tried to again kick him down the slope, but when that failed she delivered a massive blow that sent the young goliath spinning, unconscious, onto the cavern floor below. More small kruthik joined the fray, hemming in the heroes on the cavern floor, and the situation looked dire. But ever resilient, our heroes were not to be denied their victory this day. Beld called upon a pair of predatory spirits, who slew the two remaining kruthik young. Other heroes dispatched the nearby smaller kruthik, while Kore turned his attention to the hive queen. With a well-placed strike, the hive queen was felled by a thrown dagger that entered her skull through her eye socket and she slumped to the ground. The remaining kruthik were no match now that the battlefield had turned so suddenly in our heroes’ favor.

Freeing Beld’s mother and two siblings from their ichorous prison, the heroes returned with the dwarves to the surface. They encountered a few kruthik along the way, but they appeared so disturbed by the death of the hive queen that they were quickly fleeing from their new hive. Arriving at the surface, they learned that while many of the townsfolk were injured by the kruthik, there had been no fatalities.

And so this story draws to a close, but questions remain. What happened to Arlo Frinazi, who was eager to explore the countryside until the fateful encounter at Knight’s Tomb? What to make of this fiery halo that Kore had seen but briefly on his cousin Valeran? And perhaps most importantly, who was this man with the mark of the crescent moon over his right eye who had sent the druid to destroy idyllic Laston?

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The Trouble with Goblins
in which we meet our intrepid heroes, goblins, and other assorted miscreants

Session 1
As Endwinter approaches, a coughing sickness has entered into the pastoral town of Laston. Even the town’s healer, Ione Harborough, has taken ill. Brother Simon, the local priest, has asked some of the older children in town to go talk to Auntie Elspeth, a wise woman who lives off by herself on the far side of the Sun King. We also got to meet Mayor Corliss, who likes Valeran (of course) and Gwil, but probably thinks the town would be better off without the rest of you rapscallions.

Leaving their home behind, our intrepid and resourceful heroes set out. Thanks to the guidance of the goliath Krehir and some good old-fashioned teamwork, they have made good time in reaching Auntie Elspeth’s valley. Their journey was not without peril, though.

First, Kore and Gwil each developed a bit of a cough that drew some concerns. However, both have since rebounded nicely and seem recovered. As long as they don’t relapse, as has been the concern with many of the townsfolk who’ve gotten ill with this coughing sickness, they should be fine.

A mysterious stream presented a bit of a mystery. Krehir and Kore both found themselves unable to stop drinking from its ice-cold waters, but Gwil could see no magic at play here. What could drive them to drink so much of the water?

As evening approached, the heroes searched out a cave to shelter them overnight against the cold winter weather. Their cave proved to be inhabited, though, by cave fishers, who tried to snare young Valeran for a meal later, but the group was able to kill the insects.

They awoke the next morning to find boggarts in their cave, trying to sneak away with their provisions. Two boggarts were subdued while two others were easily driven off. After a brief conversation on the definition and application of the word “sharing”, and perhaps some crying on the part of the boggart Skipjot, the fey goblins were sent on their way.

The next challenge was found at a ford on a small river. While crossing, Skekrad the river troll appeared and demanded payment for passage. After a couple of quick attempts to negotiate yielded no results, our heroes were forced to drive off the troll through combat. Although they succeeded in crossing the river this time, they may still have to contend with that troll on the trip back home…



October 21, 2010 18:00

Session 2

Having reached Auntie Elspeth’s valley, our heroes learn that she’s recently treated a boggart who lives south of Laston of the same coughing sickness that holds their fair village in its grasp. They put together various bits of information – the common sickness of the villages and the boggart, the alluring freshness of the mountain stream they passed the day before, and the fact that those tended to in the church (fed by Brother Simon’s well) recover until they leave – and determine that the source of the sickness must lie in the Gwynedd River. For the change to have come upon the town so quickly, there must be something upstream of Laston polluting their life-giving river. The party helps Auntie Elspeth out with hunting and odd jobs before staying the night for a much-needed rest and then setting out early in the morning. Auntie Elspeth gifts them each with a thick honey potion with healing properties for their upcoming journey.

Our heroes travel west, turning north of the Sun King and hoping to catch the Gwynedd River upstream of Laston and locate the source of the pollution quickly before returning home. Although they’re miles from the area where their previous encountered took place, they run into Skekrad the River Troll again. After a very brief encounter, the river troll finds himself in a terrible position and has to choice but to surrender to our heroes. In return for a handful of gold, Skekrad promises to no longer trouble those who travel his river.

Continuing their journey, the party reaches a clearing where they hear the sounds of a river nearby. As they make their way through the clearing, they are waylaid by a trio of boggarts who drop nooses from the trees while other boggarts race from the woods. During the ensuing battle, the boggarts claim our heroes are trappers. After a difficult battle, the heroes finds themselves victorious, having slain most of the boggarts and taken one prisoner. Questioning the survivor, a hangman boggart named Noggin, they learn that the boggarts’ food supply has been threatened by trappers. They see the traps the boggarts have collected and notice that they bear the crafter’s mark of Harvel Hardek, the dwarven smith in Laston. They warn Noggin against further attacks but spare him. In return, he directs the heroes to a small stream that carries a foul, oily substance into the Gwynedd River – the apparent carrier of the pollution. Now our heroes turn their gaze upstream. What could be the cause of the Gwynedd’s befoulment?



October 28, 2010 18:00

Session 3
Following the polluted stream north, the group came across a number of tracks. Although they at first took them for boggart tracks, Gwil realized that there were the mark of not boggarts, but their malicious goblin kin. While stopping to rest overnight in a clearing not far from the polluted stream, the group’s rest was disturbed when a goblin hunting party attacked well before dawn. Taking cover behind the rocks and other obstructions, the goblins used their ranged attacks to their benefit but still proved unable to defeat our heroes. As they surrounded the final goblin several heroes realized they had once more exposed themselves to the polluted water. Sure enough, within a few hours, both Kore and Valeran would begin to cough, having succumbed to the foul water.

Questioning the lone surviving goblin, our heroes learned that the goblins were brought here by their leader, a crafty goblin named Prak. Promising a fortune in abandoned dwarven gold, he lead a number of goblins up into the High Valleys in search of the derelict dwarven fortress.
Since arriving, the goblins were forced to repair pipes in the stronghold, then sent out to gather food for those who remained inside. The prisoner bargained for his life, offering up the only bit of remaining information he had that he thought the party could use – the path the second goblin hunting party would take. After letting him flee to the South, the party set out to the spot their prisoner had described, to set an ambush for the second hunting party where they would cross the stream.

The dawn ambush proved fruitful, and the smaller hunting party proved no match for our well-prepared heroes. Continuing along the stream, they shortly thereafter came to the dwarven stronghold – a stone edifice jutting from the side of one of the countless mountains, whose entrance was guarded by two goblin sentries. Despite their efforts, he group’s attempt at a stealthy approach was heard by the sentries, who spring into action. Badly outnumbered and responding to this new threat instinctively, the sentries failed to raise an alarm (an old cowbell placed inside the door of the stronghold) before they were defeated. Thus our heroes were able to enter the abandoned dwarven fortress without those inside aware of the approach.

Once inside the fortress, the party realized that the goblins have explored the stronghold only fleetingly. A couple of rooms off the main hallway of the fortress serve as their sleeping chamber, but many of the rooms show little sign of having been searched recently. Throughout the fortress, a low noise can be heard, echoing through the stone walls and floors.

Following the torches that light the main hallway, as well as the signs of the goblins’ recent travel, our heroes came to an elevator. Showing signs of recent repair, the elevator leads both up and down. Light could be faintly seen from down below, and the noise is louder here, so our heroes descended on the elevator to the floor some sixty feet below. Reaching the bottom of the elevator shaft, they discovered what appears to have been the results of the first to test the newly-repaired elevator – an unsuccessful test, based on the size of the recent stain on the floor. Ahead of them stood a set of closed doors, and inscribed above the doorway in dwarven letters the phase, “Beware, for Herein Lies the Furnace”.

Opening the doors revealed a large room where a quartet of goblin furnace-workers toil to keep a large contraption working. Unlike Brother Simon’s well-cared for decanting apparatus, this contraption seems cobbled together hastily and shows numerous leaks. A large wooden platform, with pipes snaking through it, sits atop stilts built around a corral. Inside the corral is the source of the furnace’s heat, a pair of fire beetles. On the far side of the platform stood a goblin fire-slinger, carrying a number of small clay jars surely filled with some incendiary compound. The ensuing battle proved difficult, with our heroes suffering a number of serious injuries before they were able to overcome the fire beetles and the furnace’s operators.



November 4, 2010 18:00

Session 4
Having defeated the furnace workers, our heroes took a moment to catch their breath and assess their situation. After some discussion, they decided to disable the waterworks that run through the furnace room. After turning several valves to disrupt the flow, they heard some slight change in the grinding noise that permated the fortress.

Our heroes then opened the doors leading east from the furnace room to discover a cavernous chamber. The grinding sound dominated the chamber, so loud that even normal conversation was difficult. Metal platforms lined the walls, slowly spiraling they way down to a central platform with an eight-foot diameter hole in its center some fifty feet below. Just below that platform lay a pool of dark, oily water, its stench nauseatingly strong. On that platform was Prak, Goblin Mechanic, and two goblin assistants, all tending to a strange mechanism. A winch wound with chain sat on each of the platform’s four corners, with each chain leading up along a metal pole mounted on the platform next to it. After passing through a loop affixed to the top of its pole, the chains passed down into the large hole cut in the platform. The entire room is lit by two large sunstones, incredibly bright, resting on pedestals on the central platform.

The heroes attempted to move stealthily around the ramps and platforms to reach Prak and his assistants. Luckily, the sound of the grinding machine drowned out the noise they made as they approached and the steep angle of the light source hid them from view. They encountered two goblins making repairs on leaking pipes and dispatched them quickly, followed by two more who were busy making repairs on one of the ramps between platforms.

As they reached a lower platform, several of our heroes burst into action. Glia nimbly jumped from her platform to the central platform some ten feet away and twenty feet below. Rolling to cushion her fall, and letting her momentum propel her into Prak, she struck the first blow in what would prove to be a difficult battle. Following in her lead, Krehir also made the jump to the central platform while our other heroes continued making their way around the platforms to close the distance to the goblins who are apparently behind this foul pollution that threatens Laston.

As the goblins and Prak worked to defend themselves they also activated some device laying in a heap next to them. A few seconds later, a rusty golem rose from the pile. Although of unknown manufacture, the golem showed signs of recent repair by the goblins. While the goblin assistants tried their best, they were unable to withstand the blows of the heroes and quickly fell before them. More goblins arrived to swell their ranks, but these too were unable to stand against our valiant heroes. Prak and his golem proved much more capable, with both dealing a good deal of damage. But the healing powers of Beld and Gwil helped mend those injuries, and eventually Prak was struck down, leaving only the rusty golem to hold the field of battle. Despite its prowess, the rusty golem would eventually succumb to the massed might of our heroes after being pushed off the platform into the water and making its way back to the platform.

After the battle, the heroes turned the winches to raise the device from the water, discovering that a strange drilling contraption hung from the four chains. The drill stopped automatically when raised from the water, and a minute later the water began to recede from the room. After a few minutes, the group could see into the drill hole. On the east side of the bore, a brick wall collapsed as water trapped on the other side pushed its way out, revealing a long-lost passage. Deciding they needed to rest and recuperate after their long day, our heroes disable the drill but lowered it back into its hole, then secured a room where they could rest for the night. They also found a book, written in dwarven, on the body of Prak. The book talks about the history of dwarves in this region and mentions the rapid exodus of the dwarves from this stronghold. Apparently Prak believed that they must have abandoned treasure during their departure, and discovering this drilling chamber thought they had perhaps buried it here, leading to the goblin’s attempted excavation.

The next morning out heroes set out, refreshed, to explore the tunnel that goes east from the bore. Lowering the drill and using it to reach the tunnel, the entered the small passageway. The tunnel continued east for some distance and then branched, although both branches appeared to continue mostly eastward. Taking the branch that went slightly north, our heroes found a large chamber. They entered the chamber only to realize that it held a large presence atop a ledge above the passage they entered from. As soon as someone made movement back towards the passage, the large figure erupted into action. With a mighty bellow she brought a massive foreleg down on the ledge, collapsing it and closing off the heroes’ escape route from the chamber. As the ledge beneath her fell she flew from her perch to land near the surprised heroes. A mighty dragon, her scarlet scales glinting in the light of the party’s sunrod, she turned to our heroes and bellowed a challenge:
“Who dares to disturb the resting place of Minrath, the Furnace?”



November 11, 2010 18:00

Session 5
Our heroes, confronted by Minrath, the Furnace, introduced themselves and explained that they hailed from a town whose water was being fouled by the goblins. Minrath also complained about the goblins, specifically that they had disturbed her long slumber. Gwil, realizing that dragons sleep for many reasons, including while their eggs mature, noticed tiny claw marks on the stalactites, far too small to have come from Minrath herself.

Kore made several attempts to suggest that perhaps they could help out the great dragon, but Minrath seemed disinterested in his offers. The one prospect that seemed to please her was the possibility of a hunt – since our heroes had defeated the goblins, perhaps having her children use them for hunting practice would be a good learning opportunity for the newly-hatched dragons. As they discussed this, the sounds of distant but nearing flight could be heard coming from another nearby chamber.

During this conversation, Glia remained silent. Having crept into the room, Minrath seemed unaware of her presence. Taking advantage of that situation, she searched about the room looking for another exit for the heroes. Eventually, she located an old door similar to the one they had used to enter the room and managed to open it from this side. The tunnel appeared to link up with the one they had used to gain entry into this chamber, and was far too small for Minrath to squeeze through. Signaling the others, she ran through the door, drawing the attention of the dragon with another sunrod.

Beld summoned his spirit companion on the far side of Minrath as a distraction and several heroes made a run for the door. Minrath made an effort to stop them, swinging about a great foreleg and buffeting them with a massive wing as they slipped past her. Although they all reached the door, it was not without injury – even the lightest of blows from such a great beast could to be enough to fracture ribs and break arms. As our heroes escaped out the tunnel, they paused for a second to catch their breath, confirm this tunnel led back they way they had come, and heal up from the injuries Minrath had inflicted upon them as they fled. They could not take long, though, for they heard the sounds of pursuit from Minrath’s offspring behind them.

Our heroes emerged into the drill room and began trying to raise the suspended drill to block the tunnel. However, the dragons began to emerge too quickly. A hatchling the size of large dog became wedged in between the drill and the roof of the tunnel as it crawled though, preventing the drill from rising even as it crushed the hatchling. But more hatchlings were quick to follow, accompanied by a much larger wyrmling – evidently the prize of the clutch.

Realizing that they weren’t going to be able to prevent the dragons from entering the drill chamber, several of our heroes readied attacks as they emerged. Several of the hatchlings were killed outright by Gwil’s radiant burst and Valeran’s skillful blade, but the wyrmling managed to reach the platform and breathed a great gout of flame. This was quickly followed by another fiery blast as the young dragon’s attacks proved potent. Krehir, Valeran, and Glia engaged the heroes in melee combat, while Kore, Gwil, and Beld made their way around the great spiral staircase of platforms that lined the walls of the drill chamber.

Eventually, a heavy blow was struck against the wyrmling. Where a grown dragon would have responded with another fiery blast, the wyrmling could only muster up a small response. A few seconds later, Kore landed a particularly damaging blow, causing the wyrmling to abandon the drill platform and fly up to the platform upon which Kore stood. The dragon ripped into Kore, knocking him unconscious. As the dragon turned to face Beld, the nearest threat, a javelin from Krehir managed to bring the beast crashing to the floor of the drill room, dead.

Securing the drill back in place as best they could, our heroes then left the dwarven stronghold. After searching, they determined where the fouled water was reaching the stream that ultimately fed into the Gwynedd River. The stream did seem to be clearing, which was confirmed as they began the long walk home to Laston and found the Gwynedd River itself.

Arriving in town late the next day, the group received a well-deserved heroes’ welcome when they explained their success in eliminating the goblin’s threat to Laston. Despite the death of a few of the more elderly townsfolk, the village had been spared from a dire fate by our heroes’ action. The tale of their glorious journey was told many times, until night turned to morning, and will surely be told many times again.



And as we close this first chapter in the tale of our heroes from Laston, several questions remain. Will Minrath, the Furnace turn her scaly gaze towards our fair town? Does the presence of goblins so far north portend a threat to Laston itself? And what of the War – how fare our loved ones so far removed from home?

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