Hinterlands of Yore (part 1)


Steel Realms

An ancient axe from the northlands was sent as a gift to Jaq as a reward and trophy for her leadership and drive in the Gallants. Unbeknownst to the sender (?), it was imbued with the long slumbering spirit from some territory in the furthest north reaches of the Hinterlands. The spirit possessed Jaq, causing all manner of issues – including cannibalism and fevers. Jaq continually fights for control of her own psyche while the group travels north, hoping to let the spirit possessing her finish its mission and release Jaq.


>>> Dunstrand Rising Sage; from the time of the cursed axe and Jaq’s possession, until defending the Monastery.


Recurring Dreams with Jaq

Farahd and Taelin keep having the same dream at night. They dream of Jaq, kneeling before a cowled figure in grey, its hand around her shoulders – as if whispering to her. They face away from you. Its only when Talein comes to talk to you about it that you realize you are having the same dream. The whole area is misty, and hazy. The sound of clockwork gears run faintly in the distance. You cannot ever get close or make out what is being said between them.

The Trip North

Taelin’s Unedited Notes for the Annals (which will be updated and edited)

The Trip North
Day 5 – Richfield – Did we meet Paul Dorn – House Malor. Guild Master of the Order of the Stone Hand this day?
Day 8 Farayin
Day 14 The Battle of Eel Cut Pass
Day 17 Leave Eel Cut
Days 19-25 passage to Karolak
Day 26 – Karolak – return Horse’s Blade – also returned Truevein – gained goodwill of Merchant City Families
Days 27 to 30 Northfist
Days 33-44 Wylds – meet with Paul Dorn’s contact – powder to hide our tracks from prowl
Day 54 packs
Day 64- Balon – best furs we have ever seen. on way back to Dunstrand buy things and make contacts to set up trade with Dunstrand
Day 65 Gwinnish
Day 66- resupplied

Days 94-110 – Thurlow – Meeting with the Sisters of the Blood of Merkaine. Much information about our mission and goal in the Lich Lords Lands.

Our goal in the North is Vyberg in the Kingdom of Ilyria and bring Jaq to the Grave of the King. Jaq is possessed by Vanaryan, a former soldier for the King, who knows where the last king of Illyria is, but does not believe he is dead? Or needs to see that the King is Dead before he can rest?

Ancient Legend of the Northin the desolate lands of Valemont there is a legendary city . It is impossible to find unless you are not looking for it. Locals know where it is. The Sisters of the Blood want us to take one of Merkaine’s holy symbols and leave it there in the legendary city.

3 bags of agate dust – a handful will hide our tracks from the prowl packs

3 Stones from Merkaine’s Hearth, act as flame for Harahd, and always will keep us warm (+1 survival checks?)

We must avoid innocence/a spirit who professes deep innocence – what was this context?

Arrival in South Drift

Day 116 – Rime Watch Inn – Ox-birch Cut

The Dream Ship Arrives

Day 117 –The Dreamlands in the The Lost City of Kwailando-Lai

Wins and Loses and the scenarios – overall not too bad though some characters paid more of a price than others
Won – Orchard (optional)
Won – Town Hall
Won – Stone Warehouse
Won – Plaza Blueday
Won – Church of the Yellow God/Temple of Whelm
Won – Catecombs under the Temple of Whelm (optional)
Won – Townsquare
Won – 5th Floor Wizard Chamber
Lost – Manor
Lost – 3 Hitch Inn/Stables
Lost – Slums with Dead Kids (Dog Slums?)\
Won? – The Town Granary that Jaq attacked with the Ogre, 14 goblins, etc, and 31 captives

And the “booty” I have for all of this.

A potion of levitation

2 scrolls of Bless with benedictions of Whelm (Harahd has these)

A set/collection of Religious Lore Tomes – that give +1 to Religious Lore Checks – ancient and very valuable (would not sell, but would add to the Companions Library, if we make it back to Dunstrand/Bar-Innis – in the Satchel of Mog)

Angren’s Staff – Harahd has this – Called Angren’s Rebuke. +1 Staff. Bound properties cost 3 essence to bond to recieve. Any wizard cantrip at initiative 20 (?) 3/day. furthur bonding, 1 essense, summon Hell Hound, 1/long rest. 2d6(7) points of necrotic damage. 7th level wizard or greater or bound to break 8xd8cold damage and 4d8 necrotic damage.

The Minotaur’s staff – +1 fire damage. need to be wizard to use. 5th level or higher to break 6xd6 fire rebuke. 1/short rest adjure 15hp of fire damage as reaction. – not sure if this survived the Hunger of Hadar that killed Bill Blazely.

Death God’s Shroud – Scarab, absorbs 44 points of Necrotic Damage (Taelin has this)

Channel Divinity Shield Figurines- Shield Mastery (Harahd has these)

Deaths
Harahd – 1
Kye – 6
Taelin – 4
Chot’la – 3
Par-Utu – 1
Jaq – 1

The Lost City of Kwailando-Lai (part 3)

The Arrival of Keth

Taelin: Yes, we need our priest of our most holy patroness, Merkaine, Elemental Goddess of Fire, to bring her light and Wyld flames of life and righteousness with us in this most epic quest of the Eldritch Knight and the dreamscape and our journey up North.

The group secures the tower again, with the new party members. Apparently, Jaq attacked the ogre, who was seen running off with her attached to him, stabbing him repeatedly, and screaming. She had lost control and was indulging in more ghoul-like attacks and while no one saw her trying to eat its flesh, its assumed she succumbed to cannibalism – this is sad news indeed. The group managed to find a new shard in the chamber below the tower top – a chamber they discerned to tbe the magus right hand of the elritch knight. Taking the role of summoned creatures they fought against a Minotaur and Bugbear pair of wizards, who summoned horrific nightmare visions and bolstered themselves with defenses for hand-to-hand fighting. Taelin at last suffered defeat, though overall the group was victorious. Taelin was frozen by a hold person spell, poisoned and then fell on the ground still frozen and was melted away by acid as the tentacles whipped at him from the void creature summoned. Several of the group died, including Kye again. Chot’la has died 2 times, Taelin 3 times and Kye 5 times now. The group has gotten better about trying to recover something for their trauma. Rings and jewelry (though we don’t have a way to test if it they are magical or not), Angrem’s Staff and the Minotaur’s staff (the bugbear’s staff did the retributive strike on us as he broke it as he died).

Keth and Harahd

They meet a noble’s daughter and confidence man while resting between battles; Kyle and Imahuman.

Church of the Yellow God

It was Whelm

Put most of the mirror back together…

The Dream Ship Returns

Day 117 – Back in Ox-Birch Cut (I have it as Fall getting towards winter)
As the fog of the seas of time fades, and the calm from breathing a sigh of relief from having no disease. You find that you are light headed and strangely serene. Jaq stands in your midst, and her eyes shine like they have not in months – you can tell she is in full possession of her faculties. The dream like is already vanishing from your mind – memories feel like they are being stripped away. The ship of your dreams leaves you in the icy shore, which soon turns into your room in the Inn. As the ships last depth bell sounds, you could swear you hear a voice… “The journey has only begun! Dream well, for we will see each other soon enough.” You could swear that a pair of black eyes was watching you from the darkened corner – but there is nothing there.” The smell of fresh bread wafts from below.

Healing in Thurlow

Days 117-125 Travel to and spend a day inThurlow to return Whelms shield and heal Taelin. We speak with Cornelius Blaze of the Blaze Wizard School. We hire Bill Blazely (3rd level fire invoker) for 100/wk, minimum of 1000sp. Trade the Golden (dragon scale) Shield of Whelm in for healing of the Slaad egg in Harahd. Rushed to Thurlow in 3 days to Lightbringer temple there.

Dreams Again: Farahd and Taelin keep having the same dream at night. They dream of Jaq, kneeling before a cowled figure in grey, its hand around her shoulders – as if whispering to her. They face away from you. Its only when Talein comes to talk to you about it that you realize you are having the same dream. The whole area is misty, and hazy. The sound of clockwork gears run faintly in the distance. You cannot ever get close or make out what is being said between them. This has happened several times in the last month – now the scene runs for minutes in your dreams instead of the seconds it began with. The sounds are louder in the background, and you are slightly closer each time. In the last one, you are sure that the robed figure is holding a blade behind its back in one hand as another wraps her shoulder in friendship.

Coreblack

Day 126 – South Drift. return to Dragon’s Hearth Inn (friendly to Merkaine) we meet Tameri, Divination Mage of House Mataff who worships Delleb (old god). He tells us about Coreblack, the Dark Knight that had attacked us as we headed north (OOC – our 1st D&D session last August at Tom’s place). We attack Coreblack’s cave hideout against the Spiders of Go-Zen. We gain 4 light crossbows and 16 bolts. and a locked chest with crude maps pointing to a Sun Stealer contact in South Drift.

Day 127 –attack Will Enders and go to the ruins of Creb-Navarood.

Silver total: After back from Dreamlands, we spend money in identifying items at temple of Light in Thurlow. And spend 1000 for Bill Blazely. down to 1020. Spend 200 for research in library. our total silver right now is 820.

The gallants find out that the group encountered foraging was lead by a Oath breaker paladin famous in Kalascor named Coreblack. He was far, far from his home. A magus from a local academic brotherhood contacted us and told us the evidence was he was responsible for some of the local deaths. He tells us that there is n reason for him to be near South Drift. The consensus is he must have had help to ambush The Gallants so near nightfall. Jaq is feeding… the group decides to try and reign him in by getting raw animal meat – not as good as human, but less evil. This diviner offers to lead the group back to Coreblack’s lair. The weather is turning cold, and begins to take its toll. Once there, goblins with crossbows, and a shaman, and 2 spiders of Go-Zen are holed up and must be defeated. In the cave are maps pointing to a traitor in South Drift – more even, perhaps 3 contacts in the north are found. The group swears to help this diviner track down the traitors in South Drift.

One of the maps found in Coreblacks camp was a house in South drift, marked with a contact point.Arriving in South drift, you make your way to the mark on the map. Its at the end of a small roundabout. The house is the home of the cart-wright – as the sign “Endens – Cart-Wright” proclaims. There is a home, with a loft, and a large barn with manufacturing tools and supplies.

Asking around for a day you find out William Endens is the best friend of the mayor of South Drift. He is very charismatic, has a family, been here for decades/apprenticed to last cart-wright; Any accusation would be highly political. His friend, and apprentice is Val. You are exhausted and post wacth and decide to get a good night sleep.

Dreams Again: Farahd and Taelin keep having the same dream at night. They dream of Jaq, kneeling before a cowled figure in grey, its hand around her shoulders – as if whispering to her. They face away from you. Its only when Talein comes to talk to you about it that you realize you are having the same dream. The whole area is misty, and hazy. The sound of clockwork gears run faintly in the distance. You cannot ever get close or make out what is being said between them. This has happened several times in the last month – now the scene runs for minutes in your dreams instead of the seconds it began with. The sounds are louder in the background, and you are slightly closer each time. In the last one, you are sure that the robed figure is holding a blade behind its back in one hand as another wraps her shoulder in friendship. Its troubled dreams all day and into the next evening. By next evening you have all had excellent repast, hot baths drawn in a secure room, and a chance to catch up.

Suddenly, upon arrival back in South Drift, Par-Utu collapses. The toxins of the Spiders of Gozen has penetrated farther than anyone thought. His right arm begins to turn black and he has chills and fevers. Jaq and Taelin confer, using a healing potion to stave off the worst, but they believe only Jingle of the Gallants has the strange magic to counter this! A sled is immediately prepared, and 2 more healing potions sent with him. An escort of one of Temeri’s brothers go with him to explain what they know of the spiders of Go-Zen. Everyone is stunned, especially jaq for some reason. He was fine one moment then the poison was laying him low the next. Harahd is feeling exhausted from trying to save him, and wiped out. Looking to their next steps, he may not be able to face the next steps. Time is absolutely critical at this juncture and the leader Harahd is laid low out of his divine energy. He gathers the group together that say as Jacquelyn has been looking healthier and acting more in control of herself, that she is cleared for temporary active duty. Solemnly, Jaq looks on and nods. Harahd passes a candle around a room. He rubs his forefinger on the flame, it burns – he passes to the next person until all, even Par-Utu has done it. “We have now all been burned by the same flame. The flame that burns in all of us burns together. We are one under Merkaine, and together. Feel deep down inside, there is a part of the flame that is absent. Seek out this flame, and flame with will close the loop from so long ago and allow this great quest to continue.” His eyes burn with fire and he collapses. All the candles in the room go out at once. Suddenly there is a knock on the door! Everyone nearly jumps in surprise but it’s just a messenger at the door. A young boy, one you’ve seen before helping at the Inn says that there is someone downstairs who has a package for a “Lady Blackwell”. He looks at Jaq, surprised when she answers that she is Lady Blackwell. The boy stammers out that he is sorry, and his heart weeps for her. She looks around at everyone expecting some explanation but none is forthcoming. The young man seems to genuinely be troubled. “Send them up”, says Jaq. the boy runs off swiftly. The party first hears before they see the visitor. They are a strange man, a humanoid with strange features. Jaq looks at Harahd and something passes between them. The tall man drags a coffin up the stairs – the coffin of a child! Everyone moves back to the edge of the room, ready for whatever trouble may start. With an earnest expression and tone, the man says “I am Amun Tero-Hakshen, child of Merr-Hakshem thrice removed of the blood of Anubis. I have come from places even i know not and i believe this is yours.’ With a flourish a few of you drawn weapons slightly as the shroud is pulled off the coffin. There is only a child’s innocent countenance painted on it and the colors of Bar-Innis upon a plain box. Immediately there is a strange sound and the box rocks back and forth. You watch in rapt fascination for minutes as the box stands up on its own. It is teetering and groaning, as if something were spinning inside of it. You can hear something spinning over the din finally. The box is jumping, weapons are all drawn, when Jaq suddenly reaches a a hand for a the box and it bursts into a million splinters. Spinning on its tip is Bone Shaker – making a moaning sound the tip is writing runes on the table and drops to the floor. Writing Bone Shaker in Gladnorian, the blade spins its way to Jaq and she reaches out and the blade flies to her hand and vibrates. The crescendo from the party downstairs covered most of the noise as some in the circle hiss and others gasp or hold their breath. Jaq smiles wickedly. “Its Bone Shaker, a few dents where the Umbakians tried to smash her, but it’s her.” Amidst the child’s coffin debris is a scabbard, fitting the blade perfectly. Jaq straps the blade to her belt and you see her visibly relax. It is only then that you realize all the candles in the room have been re-lit.” Jaq looks at the flame that appeared, at the circle you have formed, and the new person… “Welcome to the Gallants, Red Squad. I assume you know who we are – so tell us your story friend, as i believe you have closed the loop and kindled the flame we were expecting – by Darupets hairy balls i’m not sure there’s a more overt sign i’ve ever seen in my life. Sit and regale us.”

All you remember from your early days is your childhood friend – Abani Yorton. He looked like none of the other children – a half orc now you would estimate. How your best friend was some half blood fiend you will never know. The most remarkable thing was that he was smarter than you. And your blood was the blood of gods – so you had been told – Aasimar they called you. From the darkness of the past little remains. A simpler time with playing, the sun, and laughing – you barely remember laughter.

From an early age you knew you were different. You were fascinated by the wars of ant colonies. Termites. Birds of prey. There was a deep, animalistic rage inside of you and as your desired path to follow your friend was prohibited to you eventually you found another… a more creative vent for an outlander as the other called you. A name of “Morrigan” rings in your ears as a girl who played with you in a garden, the name of a powerful being Perhaps the shaggy one by a more primal name? But the blood of the beast roared in your veins. There was a circle of green ones, none of them pretenders, and they pronounced you guilty. Guilty of uncovering that which should have left grown wyld.

You reached out to an elder power though this serpent spirit guide, using the old ways and bent it to your will. Whispered pacts were made, bargains struck and you learned how to barter your soul. A face struck in my mind, a face and a name chiseled forever. “Danis of the Vale”. The ancient serpent, the symbol of wisdom, was your guide. You walked a path between gods, dragons, and monsters – the Old One serpent navigated its way deftly.

When this interest in this power toy-thing had passed, you discarded it for the full trappings of bureaucratic oaths and formality. All gods were made available to you, but you gravitated towards Gaia the great-mother. Medicine, nature, and art were studies and during this time you cast your net of experience far and wide.The winds continued to whisper “The Vale”, and “Danis” – now “Danis the Druid”. After parchment, calendar, and permit after permit you saw the glimmer of the serpent’s eye in the bottom of the inkwell. You followed it to The Vale – Dunstrand Vale in this case.

Litany after hymn, praise heaped upon praise – it was too much after a while. A bitter taste in your mouth was that, and finally you turned away from plant and beast alike and found yourself choking. The old serpent coiled about you and delivered you from constriction. When you woke up, it was in the arms of a beautiful bald woman named Danis (she spoke to you in your mind). “You are now one of us”, she said, “You are of the Order” – and she showed you something else… like an all-spark only intently encompassing it all. When you ceased to look at causality and took a decidedly more occult perspective, the flow of reality to a more different nature. You realized now how the edifices of men were nothing and short of even temporary satisfaction. There was still something greater. Druid, and true druid at that. You spied upon some other power deep in the heart of Dwindor Swamp. You traveled by Treestride between Dwindor and The Fertile Crescent – deep in its confines in the Navel of the World. Friends you made, and progress enough.

Friendships you had forged only to see them shattered. Now all that has come before is as a blank slate. There is a fire inside, and fire that burns when you face the north. Meliir, Rastodon, Kemlaeran and Dech all stand with you on a 5 pointed star under the moonlight. “You must leave” they say. “The sister Danis gives voice to the Navel and tells of a wound, or a great scar which may tear its way across the heartlands. The trees will guide your way as they always do. From the crescent you will stride far, farther than any of us 5 have even been before. You are the first to leave the Navel like this, but the mother Gaia says you are ready. You will be with elder sister Danis, of Dunstrand. She is mighty in the ways of M’z’zt (insects), S’ssl’n (snakes) – YOUR PATRON!, Wheyipuh (wulf), Rastur she has brought back into the ways of the Vale of Dunstrand.

Melir steps forward – “Take this lock of my golden hair – i have braided it into a charm for you and wozen it with charms from my Herraide’s nest she has brought back. Her offspring will watch over you when you are exhausted.

Rastodon reaches into his robe and extends a wand – “It served my master well and have magic yet left in it” 5 green healthy leaves yet remain – each with a different pattern

Kemlvaeran steps forward and embraces you, sweeping his large cloak off his back and tying it around you – “It served me well in all my travel – kept me safe and warm.

Dech shuffles forward. I had hoped i would be sent again. I have watched the place where you are going to, it is teaming with excitement and opportunity. May the shaggy one’s shadow cool your path and her smile light your way ahead – and he hands you a staff with 4 scrolls wrapped around it – “4 prayer scrolls” he says. Four groups will you encounter – this i have foreseen.

They part ways and reveal a path – no other words are said. Strangely it is a lonely road you travel. Countless suns and moons pass over. Decades perhaps. Your route is not straight.

Four times you find yourself on the road, nearly surrounded and a great number of enemies, and 4 times you take a prayer scroll, chant it, and an hour later they have passed you by.You are left with a staff seemingly nothing non magical

You are traveling by the sea side, under the sun, through the lands of the halflings near Umbak. Their hearthfires are happy and you live moment to moment, day to day and help them fish, gather vegetables, and comb the beach for shell fish. They regale you with tales of others, tall one like yourself that came though called ageas ago escaping the lands of Umbak names The Gallants. One woman in particular who could swear and spin tall tales.. They tell of her sacrifice in the face of certain doom to rescue comrades, broken weapons sacred to her, to unflinchingly always charge the hardest opponent in a group and place the welfare of her comrades above her own.

At last, a clue you feel. One night, as you wander down a dark stretch of beach, away from the bonfire of the halflings a strange boat hauls ashore out of the mist. A half dozen goblins are carrying a box – like a small coffin. Indeed how can you pass up such a strange mystery. You transform into your animal form and make your way to their campfire, one by they they nod off. In their midst you call for your magics, with tentacles burst out out. They few left attacking you take a frosty rebuke. They earn a horrid death, cursing you with their last. The box is definitely a children’s coffin, though it seems to weigh far more. Reverently you take it up and examine the strange heraldry. You hail the boat on the beach and the captain seems happy to be rid of the filthy goblins, but is not sure about your particular solution. He could see little from the boat, but he thanks you for ending his problem. The passage was paid for to the north – do you wish to take their passage. You feel the poor dead child’s body must be taken north to his final resting place.

You sail to the city of Thurlow, on the far side of the world from where you grew up. You feel you have just missed the owner of the box. You describe the woman of your dreams and everyone tells you her name is Lady Jaq Blackwell. Of the Gallants,.This is not known to have any children, but this must be hers are her heraldry is upon it. She is not difficult to find and all omens and signs allow you to make your way straight to her. All eyes return to Jaq.

A remarkable broadsword glints in the dim light. “Never” she says, ”I never thought to see her again. This is the sword that freed the Gwinnish Princes operative of peace, it is the sword the struck down a godling, beast, demon, witch, elemental, drow, werewolf, man, elf, and all else alike.”. ”It’s like being made whole again to hold this blade. and now our enemies will tremble. Now they will know why they fear the name of The Gallants. Every wrong will be righted, every sleight redressed, every slur rebuked, every cur to utter a disparaging remark about the many brothers and sisters who fought side by side under it will know its blinding reflection, and who fell defending the honor of the Phoenix heraldry of the Gallants…. Well now that Phoenix rises again and woe betide our foes. The Gallants are back, that the earth will shake.”

The Account of the Gallants in the North (Day 127 since Jaq was possessed by the Axe), against the cultists of Sun Stealer in South Drift and our seemingly traitorous killing of the High King’s Black Gorgons by siding with the Kaaldians and the Northern Alliance, written by Taelin Mar Shaldis, Gallant Annalist, CY 11/9168 

After sending Par-Utu back to Jingle for healing and the arrival of our new companion, Amun (I am stunned, a REAL Druid of the Order of Davros and an Aasimar, beings I had only heard about in myth and stories) who reunites Bone Shaker with Jaq (who seems to get back to her old self with her bonded weapon back), we take a bit of time to check our wounds and go over the maps we found in the cave hideout of Coreblack, the Dark Knight who attacked us on the way North.

We debate on whether we should immediately act against William Enders, whose house is marked “contact” on one of the maps, as it is about midnight. For intel on what we could expect inside, the Druid has the Enders cat tell us that there are 5 people in the house. We ask in around for information in the tavern and find that Will has a wife and 3 kids, and we decide to wait till sun up to try to catch Will alone and not with the family.

At sun up we are attempting a sneaky entrance into the house when a woman’s scream shatters the air. We then break the door down and storm in, and a young kid covered in blood runs past us through the door. We see the body of one kid with his throat cut and Will stabs his wife in front of us, leaving the dagger in and letting her drop to the ground, and he runs away. I stop to do what I can to save the wife’s life while Jaq, Chot’la and the Druid charge in. I stabilize the woman, but by that time Will had made his way to the barn. We find the body of his other child in the house.

We carry the woman outside, and we find that the barn has a front and back door. Chot’la takes up a position at the back door, and me, Jaq, Amun and Bill Blazely (our fire invoker wizard we hired from Halas Blaze School in Thurlow) are at the front. Just as I was going to go for town constabulary as Will seemed trapped in the barn, the kid freaks our and says that Val the apprentice is in there, and his father is going to kill him. So we decide to go into the barn and get Will and save Val.

Jaq breaks the front door of the barn down and we rush in as Chot’la runs around the building to join us inside when the back door remains locked. There is no sign of Will right off, but Val has a pitchfork in him right at the base of the ladder and appears to be dead. We start to go up the ladder when something darts down to attack us. I turn to deal with this creature, which ends up being a Quasit. While I am dealing with this evil creature, Val is alive and turns into a Jacklewere and attacks the party, while Will attacks from above with spells. As combat goes on, the quasit dies, and Chot’la produces a fog cloud to shield us from the attacks. When the fog dissipates, Will and Val are gone, but I notice blood in the hay and there is a trap door with blood on the handle.

We open the trap door, then BOOM – a Glyph of Warding goes off, blasting us and burning a symbol of Mizras in the post…what does the God of War have to do with this, when this seems to be the evil of Sun Stealer at work here? We go down the trap door with Amun and our fire wizard casting light on objects. There is a tunnel with sticks with poison on them embedded on the left side of the wall.

The tunnel twists and turns, and then we see Will right in front of us. Chot’la does one of his primal Pine Tribes screams and rushes at Will, but he almost falls into a pit that opens up right in front of Will. Chot’la jumps across the pit and engages Will in melee combat. I drop my sword and shield and ready my bow as the others are about to get ready for combat, and I get a couple of shots off when a impenetrable darkness covers us and the cold of the void encompasses us – I have felt this twice before, dying one time in the dreamlands from this…this is the Hunger of Hadar, a dark and evil Warlock spell that the followers of Sun Stealer enjoy using on their enemies. The tentacles of a void creature thrash among us, immediately smashing into Bill Blazely, washing him with acid, and our fire mage we just spent 1000sp for our trip to the lands of the Lich Lords is melted away, a gruesome death I have felt before…Chot’la on the other side of the pit dashes out of the dark, and the rest of us dash from the dark. I shoot arrows into the darkness as Amun fires spells.

Then at one point Jaq and Will both escape the darkness and I shoot and hit who I thought was Will, but before I release my second shot, I notice something wrong and see that I just shot Jaq who was polymorphed by Will! Crap!! Jaq who looks like Will falls to the ground, bleeding out, I then shoot Will who looks like Jaq and Amun helps to finish him off (or do the tentacles finish him off?)

The darkness dissipates and I rush to stabilize Jaq, horrified for bringing her down. We see that Val the Jacklewere was at the bottom of the pit waiting for us to fall in, but he was also killed from the acid tentacles of the void.

We go to the end of the tunnel and find a hidden altar and shrine…at first glimpse it is a Altar and shrine to Mizras..but after a more serious examination the Mizras trappings were covering up the Altar to Sun Stealer…me and Chot’la immediately piss on and desecrate the Atlar to Sun Stealer. We examine the room and find an ancient set of tomes of Sea King Lore (+2) from the library of Doinesh, which was sacked thousands of years ago, but the books are in mint condition. There is something not right that he should have these ancient tomes that should be dust without a magical or mystical means of prolonging their life. We also find the personal journals of Will.

We go back to the surface and get the town constabulary and the mayor, keeping the lore of the Sea Kings and person journals for ourselves (we are The Gallants!). The woman kills herself, and we find a note and she begs us to take her son in. Her son after his mom dies turns to us and says he has no one else, so we the Gallants take him in. Jaq, who was on death’s door, all the sudden seems to be in good shape, and she admits that she ate the body of the wife who committed suicide, and it was Jaq who wrote the note to make sure we took care of the son who just witnessed this horrible trauma from his father who was an evil, evil, Sun Stealer worshiper who slaughtered his family and nearly killed him.

We go back to our rooms and talk things over with Temiri the Diviner, while we go over Will’s personal journals. The evil we find in there is terrifying – I who had spent over four years of my life in the Darklands am revolted at the evil that was in the corrupted soul of this man. For power he created a family, to use them all in sacrifices to Sun Stealer. He had planned this all out since he was young. He talks about some sort of Animist Font near to South Cut that he was going to use, and with Sun Stealers help, he was going to become some sort of evil demi-god! William Enders jr. takes his vows as the newest member of The Gallants! I am proud to be the one swearing him in.

In his journals, he talked about a meeting of the 2 masters and this was tied to the Animist Font and his supposed “ascension”.

We have a long debate on what we should do next. Chot’la very strongly believes that we need to get Jaq to the north to get rid of her curse as soon as we can. Chot’la is correct that is of prime importance for us as Gallants, as each day brings Jaq nearer and near to losing all of her humanity and becoming a full ghoul.  But I also argue that we The Gallants and are representatives of the Duke, and we cannot let Sun Stealer gain any sort of hold in this area, killing more people for their evil plans and power. There is evil in our midst, and the Gallants have a chance to stop this from happening. Once we take care of the evil of Sunstealer, we do need to get Jaq North through the Lich Lord’s lands and rid her of this evil done to her.

Temeri tells us of 3 Animist Fonts in the area: Emerald Falls, one in the ruins of Creb Navarood, and one other place – this could be the only place in the world where the Ley Lines and Animist Fonts are so close together and large in number.

Wills journals talk much of the Animist Font under the Fountain of Aerna’s Tears – the Jewel in the Eye of the Daughters of Peace in the ruins of Creb Navrood – so we decide that is the place to go, though Temeri tells us that place is dark and full of evil, so it seems the perfect place for Sun Stealer;a minions to do something evil

We get to the ruins, and we see a large tent with the right in the middle of the road into town, and what appears to be a military camp. Temeri hides, while me and Chot’la were going to scout up ahead to see what was going on, but our Druid amazed us by saying he can be more stealthy and then he promptly turns into a snake right before our eyes! Amun slithers into the camp and finds out that there is one camp with the colors of the royal house of Kaald and then there a bunch of men in black getting ready to attack. We get close and we see the battle has begun and while the men in black with some sort of evil creature on their livery are fewer in number, their expert archers and the evil looking black knight are obvious the better warriors and more powerful. Chot’la has been given command by Jaq, and he decides that we should help the Kaaldians (the same decision I would have made). We know the Kaaldians are fighting the noble fight against the Lich Lords and the enemies in black look evil with an evil looking creature on their banners (and Sun Stealer’s minions were supposedly going to be here) I take cover from the arrows and use my bow while again; Chot’la rushes to melee attack the black knight. Jaq remounts a house and charges in on the knight as well. Amun changes back to a snake and delivers fire spells in this form! Powerful indeed. Temeri the Diviner continues to hide in back – he is a diviner, not invoker.

As Jaq charges, he is hit by an Eye Bite spell and slumps to the ground asleep with the horse on the ground as well. After a few rounds, Chot’la disengages from the Black Knight and dives to the ground to wake up Jaq, to both help with my archery so I don’t need to worry about hitting him, but Chot’la sees that we need Jaq in this combat. Jaq then wakes up and kills the Black Knight with the Cursed Axe. In a bloody rage, he raises up and lops the arm of his dead opponent off – gods no, he bathes in the fountain of blood! I will have to tell some lie about him being a berserker now. I may be saved the trouble as the amazing war horse of the Black Gorgon rears up, toppling the body off and lashes out at Jaq. My god, the horse actually bit some of Jaq’s fingers off. The cursed axe tumbles to the ground, under the war horse. Just when i think we may be able to separate her from that cursed thing, she jumps off her horse and end up under the war horse. The horse tramples her, and there is no way Jaq did not get a few broken bones. What i site! Jaq snarls like a beast and in a frenzy slices the belly of the horse open, spilling its entrails down upon him while struggle to get away. It is the most grotesque thing i have seen… and the sounds the horse make are enough to break any persons sanity. I rush to Jaqs side and pull him out as he is eating the heart of the horse which is splayed around him. No one sees it as i kick it from his hand – his hand which has regenerated which the ghoulish powers growing inside him. Jaq laughs manically and i use a moment’s distraction to kick him hard – hard enough to kill, but i know it wont, not her… not it. I pull he unconscious from the blood smeared wreck. She is just recovering from the kick to the head and i can see she has her axe, but her eyes are clear. I look at her with the most disdain i can muster, i can see she is shamed – but what can we do, this is getting worse.

Then the Kaaldian Eldritch Knight thanks us for helping them against the High King’s Black Gorgons! We were horrified and speechless! We just killed some of the best Half-Elf archers in the world and a Bard of the Realm, Erobois of Cloakwood! The Kaaldian is the Thane of West Cut, Logoss Kaaldavian – the encounter is as follows:
> Bloodied and beaten (arm in a sling and bleeding from an arrow in the thigh), the leader of the Kaald forces extends a hand. “I am Logoss Kaaldavian – of House Kaaldavian, of the blood of Ru Peravoir, Thane of West Cut, and i would know the names of my new friends!” After this we talked quickly of who we are, and that he had heard of our band. He cut us off abruptly. “Let me introduce my allies. This young man is from your own Dunstrand – he is friend to another in retinue from your lands – he is Josh Pollard, head of my scouts. This woman with a matching arrow in her leg is my half sister Elicia NaKaaldavian (she winks at us – a few of us – when her brother is not looking – this is trouble); she is a warrior in her own right and commands my foot troops. Alas, we have lost my brother in arms Matthew. That ignorant bastard of a ranger took him with an arrow through the eye. We have a lot of wounded, and my sister is no good at woman’s work (she frowns at him and puts a hand on her rapier) – do you have anyone who can help our wounded. We did not expect to meet with such violent opposition. If you can help us with our wounded, perhaps you can help us backtrack them into the Shattered City of Creb Navarood? I’d like to know how they followed me through it, or what magical means they used to track us. What say you – can you help us make a quick foray into this place of shadows and mystery? If i can secure my position and wounded, perhaps we can retire to a place where i can enjoin you to assist me further. What you did was no small task, and i have a place at my side for warriors such as yourselves.

The timely arrival of Harahd with one of Temeri’s brother breaks the silence. Harahd brings William Enders jr. and volunteers to tend the wounded. With all the distractions, i see the Druid has resumed his human shape now and walks closely to me – looking at me and Jaq, and i know I must explain this later when we are alone. He mentions that something further was found in the Sun Stealer cult altar… some sort of creature and the general consensus is its from the Darklands, so my particular knowledge may be valuable here.

Jaq answers, which a rapidly healing smashed jaw, that she will go with whatever group to seek out how they were followed and attacked from INSIDE the shattered city. Plans are made, and those leaving on the mission in the shattered city get healing first. I see the druid and Jaq talking as they are looking over the saddlebags pulled from the Black Gorgon. In it are a few books – recipe book, Primer on Orrish to Gladnorian, a book on the basic heraldry of the north and sketches of several in the Kaaldian’s party. Jaq seems to want to keep some ancient book – it is ancient by its very look. The druid reads through its contents – i can see his lips move. He shrugs and hands it back to Jaq. As i come closer, Jaq looks up and says “I began as a scribe – books are my true passion, i just happen to be good at certain other things” (she grins, covered in blood still). Amun shrugs – “its pretty mundane stuff. The recipe book is extensive – i believe this bard prided himself quite the cook.” He goes over the rest, including the ancient tome which seems to be nothing more than a series of drawings of faces (the bard was perhaps an artist as well), and a set of fairy tales, stories, and such. “I can detect nothing malign in any of these. I suggest we lend the recipe book to Temeri’s friend and send him back now to have this lovely roast pigeon dish made. I’ve got a few coin to make it happen…” I agree and am relieved there are no more tomes of ancient evil… thankfully just books of a bard. Sometimes a recipe book is just a recipe book. Jaq asks if she can keep her book in the Satchel of Mog – she seems to have some sentimental value to it already. She spends 20 minutes writing in, it is probably her new diary. She does have a point… sometimes its just not even possible for me to remember the life Jaq has lead – a Scribe, a slave, and servant, and now a senior officer in The Gallants. Before i carried it, she did carry the Satchel of Mog, and she always kept poetry and biographical texts – she was an avid reader. Temeri reminds us that we have wasted half the valuable time of short shadows. Jaq washes of her bloody face and we all shovel biscuits and jerky. We have an hour of good light left before the Shattered City becomes a sure place of death.


Reflections Written by Taelin Later
I find it difficult that none of us in our group recognized the livery of the High King’s Black Gorgons!!! Jaq has even studied the heraldry of the realms. It almost seem like something was working against us. We have just killed the High Kings men and supported those who the High King thinks are traitors! We just helped traitors to the High King and Gladnor! I am angry that I didn’t recognize the Black Gorgon banners, especially with my time in the Darklands with the High Kings Rangers I should have known, but I could not distinguish the symbol as I was at range firing arrows.

Thane Logos says that the High King sent the Black Gorgons to put down those in the North that are seeking to create an Alliance of the North,  which seems to include from the Thane’s description Kaald, Kalascor, the Elves of Ilyndria Frostshine, Ox-Birch Cut, Thurlow, and families and communities of the Exillion. and Juniper.  An Alliance of all the Free People’s of the North. Gwinn is recognizing this Northern Alliance of all the Hinterlands, and in return The Northern Alliance is giving some land to the new Sea King Empire (as Thane Logos refers to the Gwinnish – this is very troubling). The High King wants this Alliance and it’s sympathizers put down, and the High King will expend resources to make sure that Gwinn does not get a major land holding on the main land. This is also the feeling of our Duke and of The Gallants.

We have been promised rewards for helping the Kaaldians, and we have been asked to help them form this Alliance. My mind is swirling around whirling with ways to try to make this work in our favor, or at least not make the outcome for us when we get back to Dunstrand so bad for us.  I personally don’t see a problem with a Northern Alliance, as I see this would create a stronger opposition to the Lich Lords and the evil in the North.

BUT the Northern Alliance support for Gwinn (and their recognizing of Gwinn as the Sea King Empire) is the most troubling for me, and I think we need to dissuade the Alliance of this, somehow. Maybe we could work with our Duke of Dunstrand to make sure we recognize this Alliance, but make sure that Gwinn does not benefit? At this point we need to see where this goes, as we have been promised items to help us in the Lich Lords lands, and our mission (which is our own company mission, not necessarily our Duke’s mission) is to save our sister and leader, Jaq.

And I am also upset that we did not encounter the minions of Sun Stealer so we could thwart their evil plans, as today is the day (the Feast Day to Sun Stealer) that something major was going to happen. The meeting of Sun Stealer’s 2 masters as detailed in Will’s journals could not have been the High King’s Black Gorgons and the Kaaldians. We will have to consult Temeri the Diviner and see maybe we should go to the Emerald Falls (the other major Animist Font in the area) post haste, enlisting the help of the Kaaldians against this evil in our lands. The sun is still out, and Sun Stealer’s evil is going to happen somewhere in the area before midnight!

I believe we have been swept up into things larger than just the political games between the High King, the Free North and the Gwinnish, as there is a connection between us being marked by Coreblack and Sun Stealer and then being sent to the Dreamlands trying to right a wrong from the distant past.  And just who or what is that cloaked figure we saw in the dreamlands, but never were able to talk with – was it the Eldritch Knight whose tower we were in, or was it another entity? The Avatar of Sun Stealer seemed to be very angry at the fact we said we were his allies. This is all connected, and maybe Gwinn and Elancil are also involved in this evil convergence, with us playing a central role in opposing and thwarting their evil plans in the Steel Realms.


How the Black Gorgons Appeared in the Ruins of Creb Navarood, the Gallants are Teleported to Heroes Hall in Oerdney for Interrogation by the High King’s Sisters of the Dhajar Hardeen, the Battle Against the Minions of Sun Stealer and the Meeting of the 2 Masters at Emerald Falls. Days 127 – 128 Since Jaq was possessed by the Axe, by Taelin Mar Shaldis, Annalist of the Gallants, CY 11/9168

Right after we collect ourselves after the Battle against the Black Gorgons, we decide to agree to go back into the Shattered City of Creb Navarood to see just how the Black Gorgons were able to attempt to ambush the Kaaldians from within the city. We agree to this for several reasons, one, the Kaaldian force over powers us and we are not quite sure where we stand, and Temeri says that this is a test to prove ourselves. Also this may explain some of why the Black Gorgons are here fighting against the Kaaldians.

We go into the city and we have about an hour before the shadows, which seem alive, elongate and make it more dangerous. Even with Daylight cast on a staff, a few of us stumble into the shadows and take necrotic damage and lose strength…we twist and turn on a path in the rubble when I stop the group just in time before 4 skeletons block our way. My bow and rapier are useless against these bony creatures, so Amun, Kye and William Enders take on the 4 skeletons and crush their bones to dust. We see that they were trying to herd us in one direction, so we continue on the path they blocked.

Eventually the path opens up to a clearing right near the shattered Villa – there is a blue starry eyed creature hiding behind one of the buildings walls. Jaq rushes forward to attack the creature and he is attacked by a rat swarm. We all attack the rats, with Kye trying to get the rat swarm over him and away from Jaq, which works and then Jaq jumps over the wall to attack the Starry eyed creature. just before the rats swarm over Kye, Amun steps forward and talks to the rats and convinces them to go away. I jump up on the wall and see a swarm of bats heading for us and Jaq is on the ground. William joins me on the wall. Kye runs around. In front of us,

Jaq is smashing a rack of weapons and armor, but I notice that 3 shields seem to give off some sort of Aura, and must be magical. Jaq sees the bats and yells “shield wall”, and me and William jump down and use our shields, and Kye is enticed and seduced by one of the shields, the possibility of power clouds his mind to the fact he actually does not know how to use shields, but he picks one up anyway, and a lustful possessiveness of the shield takes him over . Jaq grabs one of the shiny shields from the rack and then we create a shield wall. Amun is raising his staff that has Daylight cast on it to keep the shadows away from us, and while the bats make a pass, Amun casts Thunderwave, a most awesome spell that sonically and convulsively destroys the bat swarm. Aman comes over the wall and we notice some sort of sigil carved in the floor and just before we are teleported away, and as we are all on it trying to figure out what it is, I recognize it as the sigil of the High King!

And WHOOSH!! We are teleported away and appear in a room that appears to be an interrogation room, with Sigils of the High King!

We are disoriented, but as we get our bearings before us are 3 women of indistinct age (or were they old?) They call themselves The Sisters of the Dhajar Hardeen! My mind is numb, as the only thing I know about them that they are powerful and they are the Seers of the High King, and the Keepers of Heroes Hall!  We are in Heroes Hall in Oerdney, in the Palace of the High King! I almost crap myself, as the High King must have already found out we killed his Black Gorgons!

They ask us what happened in Creb Navarood – Since we are at the mercy of the Seers of the High King, I tell everything, as I suspect they can read our minds or otherwise dig out the truth from our brains through magic, or even worse, physic power. And it would seem to me if I was not forthcoming with the real story, we Gallants would be thrown into a cell for life in one of the High King’s prisons for treason. I tell our story from the point of us finding out about a “meeting of the 2 masters” which we thought were Sunstealers minions, and how we thought the BlackGorgons were minions of Sunstealer as we did not know what their livery/sigil was. And we helped the Kaaldians kill the Black Gorgons, but I convey my utmost deepest apologies to the Sisters and the High King for not being able to distinguish who they were.

The sisters seemed a bit stunned or uncertain about things saying something like this was not supposed to happen. But they task us with spying on the Kaaldians and this Northern Alliance and reporting back to them.

I get the distinct feeling that they are not sharing things fully with the High King, only things that they wish him to know – whether that is because the High King is not trust worthy, maybe going crazy or under a dark influence, or the Sisters are trying to manipulate things and events in the lands for their own ends, I am uncertain, but there is secrecy and scheming withing the Halls of the High King, and we are now a part of that!

But as we try to ask more, the Sisers sense something on the shields that Kye and Jaq picked up, and they say that Jaq and Kye picked up the cursed shields of Renegade Black Gorgons, and then they notice the possessed ghoulish undead taint in Jaq and then they tell us to be gone and report back

We get back to the Kaadians, and we come up with a story that omits the teleportation sigil of the High King, that within the ruins there is a connection between Oerdney and the North, making up a story of some creature or something?

We get back to our rooms in the inn at South Drift with Thane Logoss and the Kaaldian forces, but we are booted out of our rooms and have to go to one of the cheaper inns. We talk to the Sisters of Merkaine and they are fearful for us, so they give us free healing, and attempt to cast remove curse on both Jaq and Kye’s shields, but to no avail,  with both Kye and Jaq screaming, the shield is mine, don’t take away my precious!! Kye is cursed and now Jaq is doubly cursed.

just as we were getting ready to make plans to confront Sunstealer’s evil at Emerald Falls, Thane Logoss enters our inn and calls us down and he orates a profoundly inspiring speech about fighting the evil, and he wants the Gallants to be the vanguard leading the charge with him and his forces to smash the power of Sunstealer! I find a huge respect for this Thane Logoss, though I am not sure where his political leanings lie, but it is true in his heart he despises the evil of Sun Stealer and the Lich Lords in his lands.

We go to Emerald Falls, and we are tasked with holding the center of the line. Before us are 8 goblins in a shield wall, a Goblin Boss, 2 zombies and 2 skeletons and a Kuatoa!

The Kaaldians are fighting on the flanks against other giants while we are engaged with the main force

We attack, Amun casting spells, Kye attempting ranged attacks and then running into melee, and I use my bow until I cannot do so any more and have to engage in melee combat. We focus on the goblins and the Goblin Boss, and Amun tries to turn the undead, and he is successful and they run away!

We go a few rounds before all the sudden one of the Goblins turns into a Sea Hag! We then focus our attacks on her, while Jaq rushes up to attack a Hill Giant that came storming down the Hill!

At one point, Jaq is running away from the rushing giant and hits jaq with his spear, as the curse of her shield is a missile attractor! Jaq almost bleeds out, but her Soul Gem saves her just as all hope was lost

Just as I felt like we were backed up to the point the front line would break, and I sling my bow and arm myself with my shield and Ork Hater (my Orrish-hating Fiend dagger), in my mind I hear among the din the Druid’s voice saying Fall Back!” I hesitate just a moment before I dash back. All the sudden I see Amun pop up among the shield wall of goblins and from him in all directions Dark Tentacles of the Void erupt from him, grabbing, thrashing and holding enemies. The Arms of Hadar, another dark Warlock spell drawing on the power of the Void – our Druid commands much power!

Several of the Goblins are dispatched, but the Sea Hag escapes the dark arms and still advances forward. I rush at her with Ork Hater and stab her twice, landing a most excellent second blow, which fells her – the forces of Sunstealer fall apart and run away when the Sea Hag falls – I am on the verge of going feral, and start to yell “is that it? come on come at me!” before I calm myself down and my rage is repressed for another day

We are thrashed and nearly at death, but we are victorious!

We then go to the top of the falls and find a tunnel and go through the tunnel a ways before we come to a opening, but the 2 speakers are around a corner, so while we can hear the voices, all we see are shadows – it is the voice of the Avatar of Sun Stealer and some other dark and foul god, NOT either of Sun Stealer’s siblings Gloombringer or Ever Dark! So the meeting of the two masters was NOT just the minions of Sun Stealer, BUT Sun Stealer HIMSELF and one other dark evil god!

Return to South Drift

Musings of Chotla [Chotla practicing his meager writing skills and adding a few sheets to the Annals] A true Druid has joined the party – a member of the Order of Davros. This is an ominous sign indeed. Where goes the True Druid, trouble usually follows.
While the Gallants are my #1 family and i would never betray them, i feel like you need to get the word out to your Pine Tribesmen brothers and sisters. Theres not a lot of options for a lone warrior. I have what amounts to a familiar, I may also try and involve someone like Harahd – he is a cleric, he might know a way to get word to the closest tribe and let them know a druid is in their midst. I might also try Kye and see if he knows some traders – you can write a simple message in Wyldsign to be left on several trade paths. Lastly there is Jaq. I sense a growing magical ability in her, she reads more and more old books. I are not sure what she could do, but perhaps it would be a way of bonding closer to her to stop the ghoul transformation she seems to be undergoing and bring her back to the Gallants (but can she be trusted?)… or I could simply ask the Druid to have the courtesy to do it himself – this may not work well as no one makes demands on them, and perhaps it would be best if he did not know he was being scrutinized. Or I could do nothing for now, but you would feel guilty if something went down and your bother and sister tribesmen were not warned. I consider all the options and Go with Harahd and it works out for the best: Through Merkaine, the Fire Goddess, Harahd will have the sisters send word to the Seeress of Lethaim Hills. This is a holy woman, sacred to the Bear Tribes nearby. Harahd does look at me somewhat oddly. “Normally you are a hard, hard man Chotla. It is good to know you still have warmth.”

what to do with the black gorgon body and equipment?
Thane Logoss says it is our victoy and honor. We will have several days to rest after the assault on and under the falls. It seems were are making some good friends here in North. Based on Thane Logoss’ speech in town and the Kaaldians fighting against the minions of Sunstealer, we find a respect for them, and is in a moral dilemma regarding the whole spying thing. In regards to the Black Gorgons, Tealin also believes they need to be buried and brought back to the High King in honor and respect. Not sure how to do this and not bring the High kings forces and might against us and the North. If there was a way to notify authorities anonymously, that would be great. Taelin does not trust Jaq to do this after what he saw Jaq do to erobois of Cloakwood and his horse. I will have to think on this. It seems, then, that the Kaaldians have not done anything with the bodies and the belongings of the Black Gorgons?

They give it all over to us – its only been a day – but that forces our hand. Its a bloody mess for sure. The northern way is to burn the body (wont come back). boots, scale mail, cape, helm, and shield all std. issue black gorgon – i.e. magical. All of his gear minus the 2 potions of healing and 2 potions of far-sight (all labeled) are inscribed with the bard’s insignia and name. You would have to scratch them out of find buyers who did not care. He has a magic ring, a torc (std issue but magical), and one of the Olivers 12 Tones rapiers – made for a long dead Black Gorgon who was also a bard. These are common issue – only a few have been lost. You might use Temeri’s brotherhood to send it back in 6 months, along with his torque and a note (this is what Jaq suggests). They can move it anonymously through wizard contacts. I ask Jaq and she agrees it is a good plan but wants to consider using their gear for our journey north – it could be put to good use “for the greater good” – she uses my own words against me. She has begun using the Satchel of Mogg, I am hard pressed to try and sneak a peak at her Journals. She is writing furiously in one night – several pages and drawings it looks like from afar.

Yes, Taelin talks to Tameri about all of this. If there was a way we could anonymously send the bodies back to Gladnor (Oerdney) without decomposing that would be great – otherwise we might have to bring the bodies back and burn the bodies in South Drift as in the Northern Tradition. I will be honest, Taelin does not think the Gallants should take any of the Black Gorgon’s items or anything that would be recognizable as belonging to the Black Gorgons. They truly weren’t our enemies, and really more our allies in the bigger picture of things, and we can’t be going around carrying Black Gorgon’s things and not look like we didn’t kill some Black Gorgons to get them, especially with Black Gorgons recently dead or considered missing.. We would be marked for death the moment we got back to Dunstrand with any of those items on us. Or maybe marked for death from another group of Black Gorgons or High King’s Rangers that happened to be up North

It is bad enough we have already taken several books that belonged to Aeorbois of Cloakwood. I will amend what I said. Taelin does think we might be able to snag the healing potions and the potions of far sight if we were able to totally scratch off any sign that they belonged to the Black Gorgons. After examining them, that is the case. And while such a nice rapier would be cool to have (and I am sure it has some cool magic stuff), I think if Tameri and his brotherhood could find a way to get all of this stuff back (from aerobois and all of the other black gorgons) to Hereos Hall, that would be great. Of course, Taelin also does look at the bows that the Half Elven archers were using to see if they were also marked as Black Gorgon bows. If there happens to be a long bow that is not marked, maybe Taelin would pick that up (he is still using the short bow he got from his tour in the Dakrlands). Otherwise, we should send all the stuff back. And in regards to Jaq’s Journals and that book of fairy tales from the bard – Taelin is concerned with any things that Jaq may have such devoted interest in as he is never sure if Jaq is herself or if she is Vanaryan, or if she is just a ghoul and/or getting called by the lich lords (with Jaq being part undead, Taelin is starting to think this could be happening)…after seeing what Jaq did to Aeorbois and his horse, Taelin is having a crisis in faith that his friend Jaq is holding on to her identity and humanity. At some time when he can, Taelin will consult with Tameri on these new “journals” of Jaq to check up on what she is writing and what the book really is (magic detection and identify and such) – Taelin has also developed a greater trust and respect with Tameri and his brotherhood, and will share with him these issues, as no one else in the party can do this. And I am not sure if any of this will cost, but we are down to 820 silver. But hopefully fighting the good fight against Sunstealer’s minions would have bought us some good will (turns out that no one is charging us anything, the Thane or our name covers the bills.

And was Tameri with us when we overheard the Avatar of Sunstealer have is meeting with the other apparent dark god that was not Everdark or Gloombringer? Its all so foggy, but i think so. It would have seemed appropriate for him to have been there. Maybe Tameri or others in his brotherhood would consider joining the Gallants, and Taelin tries to recruit him and the others. Overall, with the meeting of the witches (I can’t remember their name) and the fact the Kaaldians are throwing our names around as freinds that helped them against the Black Gorgons AND giving us the honor and victory against Sun Stealer’s minions at Emerald Falls, it would seem that the High King and the Duke of Dunstrand will hear of our infamy shortly, but Taelin wants to do what he can now to minimize the damage to our name that we have done. And now we need to find out more about this Northern Alliance and what are their goals and what is the true relationship between the the supporters of this Alliance and Gwinn. And are there other reasons besides giving land to Gwinn that might cause the High King to try to use force to put this down? Is Logoss telling us everything? From the face of everything, right now, the Kaaldians, Thane Logoss and the Alliance (with their fighting beside us against Sun Stealer’s minions, and their constant struggle against the Lich Lords) looks more virtuous than the High King and his minions more sneaky and violent political and military secrecy.

And Taelin wants to figure out who are those witches in Heroes Hall (ok, they are not witches but some powerful sisterhood of some type, Seers of some type?) and what are the motivations and what could be their political goals, If they are more powerful than the Order of Davros, and if they are trying to control things in the Steel Realms in the name of the High King, but not really sharing with the High King certain things, they are obviously then trying to manipulate things their way in the lands and possibly then also manipulating the High King. Or are they actually doing the right thing by protecting the lands from the High King by not telling him everything as the High King might be growing crazy or is under the dark influence of something? And where does the Queen and her Dragoons (who seem to respect us) fit in to all of this?

Bodies need to be burned. Temeri looks at you in shock. There is no other way – “send them back anonymously”? What, in pieces? He will arrange to have them burned at their compound in south Drift,away from the eyes of the Thane who may take exception. Temeri says you could use any of the equipment on your quest north – whoever might recognize it (the real fringes of society) probably wont say anything – indeed, it may buy you a friendly reception. You can always drop it off with his order on your way back. Its up to you – he’s happy to make arrangments for it now. He says the sword is worth 1000 silvers – no questions asked… its one of the 12 Tones. The potions are not “marked” other than clearly labeled, so you pocket those. Only the recipe book has his stamp on it. The bows are clearly stamped with the symbol of the Gorgon – though nothing special. Though all the arrows are of exceptional make. +1 damage, and theres about 40 left.
And in regards to Jaq’s Journals and that book of fairy tales from the bard – Taelin is concerned with any things that Jaq may have such devoted interest in as he is never sure if Jaq is herself or if she is Vanaryan, or if she is just a ghoul and/or getting called by the lich lords (with Jaq being part undead, Taelin is starting to think this could be happening)…after seeing what Jaq did to Aeorbois and his horse, Taelin is having a crisis in faith that his friend Jaq is holding on to her identity and humanity. At some time when he can, Taelin will consult with Tameri on these new “journals” of Jaq to check up on what she is writing and what the book really is (magic detection and identify and such) – Taelin has also developed a greater trust and respect with Temeri and his brotherhood, and will share with him these issues, as no one else in the party can do this.And I am not sure if any of this will cost, but we are down to 820 silver. But hopefully fighting the good fight against Sunstealer’s minions would have bought us some good will.

Temeri returns the journals after a couple days. He seems more hesitant to be around you and a lot more doubtful about his commitment. “I never knew”. You have trouble, trouble beyond all measure compared to anything he’s seen here (admittedly small). If that indeed is the spirit inhabiting the body, we are talking thousands of years dead and clearly must be mad. Jaq is suicidal according to her notes (though seems lucid) – she wants to spare you the trip and humiliation so she is charging into everything. Also clear is she is a Warlock. And growing stronger. Whatever you thought you knew about her you should forget. She is likely following an ancient god of knowledge, Delleb he is sometimes called. Delleb believed that all knowledge was sacred, no matter how forbidden or evil. she has a simple cipher on most of her works and after he broke it he took it away from his brothers he had shared multiple journals with. Its her absolute tie to the Gallants that prevents her from becoming whatever evil creature this god is pursuing her may want her to go. He believes that she has held this long and that she will not be a danger to other of her kind – Gallants – but he fears being around her now. “Look, out here we get many Warlocks – theres not a lot of formal training for mages, so instead of Wizard the Warlock path is followed.” He recognizes it, but not which pact has been made. Shes a better cipherist than Temeri, so he could not unlock it all.

Temeri says he was glad to have not been there for the speech between the gods in Emerald Falls, but he read most of it in Jaq’s diary. His and his brothers best guess is some Infernal ruler – a powerful demon or devil Lord. Probably devil due to the more lawful nature he felt it represented. Temeri says he may have considered joining the Gallants but not after reading that dialogue. He is more than ever determined that his order must stay local and be ever vigilant against the evil that finds it way here.

Taelin knew that he was sharing some of our darkest secrets with Tameri, but Taelin needed to talk to someone he could trust and who had the abilities to sort and find things out. Taelin understands why Tameri and his brotherhood need to stay up North to protect against Sun Stealer and this Demon or Devil Lord, but Taelin also extends friendship to Tameri and his brotherhood, and mentions that the Gallants also have a small Library of knowledge and lore that we are attempting to grow in Braddon Bog in Bar-Innis and that a continued relationship with his order would be most welcome for both information and trade. That despite appearances we are also fighting the good fight against evil in our lands. Also, Taelin does ask Tameri about this Alliance of the North that Thane Logoss spoke about, especially any thoughts and feelings he may have regarding Gwinn, just to see what he knows before we meet with the Thane again.

OK, the equipment of the Black Gorgons – It would seem to make some sort of reconciliation with the High King and the powers that be in Gladnor and Dunstrand we should send back all of the Black Gorgon’s personal items, as there would be more insult if we just took stuff like common murders and thieves. The Half Elf archers were also Black Gorgons. At least all of the Bard’s stuff (sword, torc, ring, armor) should be sent back. Standard issue or not, it still belongs to the Black Gorgons. But on the other hand, what is there we could really use? Taelin really feels that any items from the Black Gorgons are ill-gotten, but for survival we do take the potions, and the arrows would be a big help. Taelin would not take one of the Black Gorgon bows. The Gallants have weapons and armor. If there are things that Tameri can’t send back then we will take another look, but it seems he will take care of it all. It seems wrong to use items of people we killed who would have been our allies otherwise, and Taelin does feel traitorish, but there are politics afoot and maybe our killing of the Black Gorgons in helping the Kaaldians is not as traitorous as it may seem? We get final word – Tameri and his brotherhood able to send all the equipment back, armor, weapons, sheilds and bows; everything we want. The Knight of Cloakwood (Cloakwood is east of Rhyl) had standard fare of magic scale mail, magic shield, cape (warmth) helmet (darkvision) bond to a personal Torc – all would turn to dust when torque taken says Temeri. He has a Ring of Shield spell (1 use, then its a non magical 300sc ring); really nice riding gear (+1); all items have personal inscription. The only items we keep are some arrows and 2 potions of healing, 2 potions of far seeing (can see .5 mile like an eagle, no matter the weather conditions (even under water). He has one of Olivers 12 tones – Onion Soup. It is no Bone Shaker, but the Twelve Tones have a far greater history.

Taelin is glad that he had Tameri look at the journals of Jaq – all of this is troubling to Taelin. We must get Jaq North, but FIRST for the good of the Steel Realms, we must also find out more about this Alliance of the North and how the Gwinnish fit in. And this Delleb must be who Harahd and Taelin have been dreaming about, and who we saw floating around in the Dreamlands. (OOC while I don’t know if Taelin would know this or not, but it is seeming that this Delleb, and the cloaked one in our dreams and who we saw in the Dreamlands is Malek, especially when we saw the vision of the cloaked one with one arm around Jaq and the other with a dagger behind His back ready to stick Jaq like a pig) Sunstealer is afraid of and/or an enemy of Malek?

And in regards to the High Kings Seers (I guess that is what they are, wizards, witches and/or psychics?) I would start with Amun the Druid as he seemed to know at least of them. And doesn’t Tameri and his brotherhood have a library in town, or was that back in Thurlow? And Jaq seems to know a lot, so Taelin would also ask Jaq about the in case with all of her lores she might have gained knowlege about them. Also, maybe the sisters of Merkaine in South Drift, maybe they would also have some information? Jaq turns out to seem to be very afraid of this sisterhood of the Djhar Hardeen. They are advisors to the High King and protect him at all times, magically. It is rumored they are all forbidden psychics, using forbidden skills and powers.

An alliance between academic brotherhoods is one Temeri WILL jump at. He says you should send on of the librarians on an exchange program. Taelin jumps in after the battle to send messages back to Mary or Jingle (or who ever is in charge of the Gallants at the Gallantine Academy) to talk about this and start the process on a librarian exchange program .

Harahd’s Conversation with Jaq

[This is recorded later by Harahd directly into the annals]

Jaq says: they are trying to take this magnificent shield away – i earned it. It saved my life, i’d be dead without it. I see the way they look at it, they want it for themselves. They cant have it. Kye got a black scale one – but i know he wants something better. I can see it in his eye. He sleeps with one hand on his, but i know hes gonna try and kill me in the night. Its him or me, and fucking Taelins too soft. I can only talk to you, you are the only i trust because you were not there – you did not see. You have your god to save you, i just got this man! I’ll kill him befor i let him take it… or any one of them.

This thing is important… i mean so is that one Kye has, bt this is more so. And theres even another one still back there in the Shattered City! The fucking pussy Taelin left it there – scared like a little bitch. Whats this group coming to, we gonna start hugging trees next!?

We gotta get all there, then give them to me, theres a mission here, a powerful one man. What do you say? I’m willing to, just… for the sake of brotherhood, not kill Kye, but maybe just take his shield, and you and i go get the other one. I bet there’s a ritual… I’ve been learning some stuff in my dreams, hidden doorways, knowledge… we can do this. This could be the weapon we are looking for to…. stop the Umbkaians or even Gwinnish powers. The Duke will make us rich, famous… beautiful ladies, castles, lands, … It what we were born for!!!!

Harahd Replies: [I knew its a shield that attracts arrows that Jaq is carrying, Kye’s is cursed too. But this is something different. I think that last battle must have really knocked a screw loose. She was hit three times by a hill giant’s bow and great club. She is a living bruise right now. But I am alone with her and she is dangerous – i had to say something] > We have hidden away and ignored weapons and objects of power for as long as the Gallants have existed Jaq. I am against this, which i believe I’ve made clear. Your shield stays with you, and until we finish our current mission, Kyes’ stays with him. There is much to wrap up before we leave the north, and we WILL do so, but I will not do this with some filthy taint of undead inhabiting my comrade. Lets finish our current mission, and proceed together with you strong and untouched by the enemy of our faith. Phaw! You and i alone could handle everything before us, remember when we assaulted the altar of everdark to save you? I’ve got another story to tell you…. (Insert the raid on the Sun Stealer temple). With you there i dont think I ever would have been TOUCHED, let alone fallen in combat. I want that advantage when we deal with these shields and that weapon you spoke of.

Jaq Responds: [she is agitated and finding out from Taelin that the shield’s curse is especially strong and unknown was hard for her to take.] I’ll calm… we can do this, we can do this. I can do this… for now, for now. You are right of course, your wisdom guides us.

The Thane Rewards Gallants for Emerald Falls

Over 30 soldiers fell in battle and another 60+ wounded but you defeated giants, goblins, and undead guards (and other things). The Gallants held the center and the Thane is pleased. The story of the battle is spreading. Its only been a few days The Thane wants to reward The Gallants while they are all recovering. He claims to have some of the finest armorers in the north at his disposal, including Ruardin Forge-Binder a maker-wizard who makes pacts with fire and earth elementals to infuse armor with powers. He introduces you to the wizard in fact. Ruardin must be 50-60 by now, and though his skin is forge-burnt his demeanor is of someone in their 20’s. He makes jokes and seems one of the most humane wizards you have ever met. You set up a meeting for the next day. The Thane and his men leave, buying drink and food for the evening. The Gallants gather around

Well, Taelin has developed a deep respect for Thane Logoss, the Kaaldians, and the people of North in general, and even Tameri and the Northern Occult Order of House Mataff, and the Occult Halas Blaze School (though he fully regrets that just days after hiring one of the Blaze mercenary wizards to help us with Magic and Occult problems and mysteries during our time North that our mercenary wizard was horribly killed by the Hunger of Hadar..). The Gallants are even now setting up a relationship between House Mataff and our Companions Library in Braddon Bog. Taelin also regrets the situation that had us kill the High King’s Black Gorgons (which included a Bard/Knight of the Realm and some Half Elven High King’s Rangers) while defending the Kaaldians from what seemed like a dark evil overpowering force attacking the Kaaldians. Taelin wants to ferret out this whole Gwinnish connection that the Northern Alliance is seemingly moving towards, and it is his hope that we the Gallants can dissuade or somehow change the outcome of this Alliance from supporting and giving land in the North to the Gwinnish (the Sea Kings, as the Kaaldians have now been calling them, again, very troubling). And also just why do the Sisters of the Dhajar Hardeen of Heroes Hall of Oerdney wants us to spy on the Kaaldians and report back to them – are they working for the Realm’s best interest? Are they Keeping things from the High King, or are they protecting the Realms from the High King who maybe falling into madness or other dark mystical forces? Or is there something about the Kaaldians and the peoples of the North that we are missing and not seeing? We should not be taking any of the items from the deceased Black Gorgons that we killed (wanting to send it all back to Oerdeny to start our making of amends). But we can accept these items from the Kaaldians, showing our bond with them, and we do need more protection going North, and for our future. I cringe a bit with the vision of the wizard pounding and tearing his armor apart with earth elementals and elemental fire burning his Fandelkryane apart, but then his Faith in Merkaine tells him that Fire is Life in the North, and that Merkaine and Her Holy Radiant Elemental Fire watches over us here and always… While I dont want to see this as a test of trust, but if something untoward was created in this process and was given in good faith for Taelin to use, maybe, just maybe then, would Taelin’s faith in these Northern Free People’s and their new budding Alliance start to crack a bit – but so far, he has seen nothing that would make these people seem false…

<>[Harahd]: What about the shield we brought back from the death trap the Black Gorgons left behind? These are obviously traps for the unwary, a sign to say “stay away” and we crossed that bridge long ago.

[Taelin]: I forgot the cursed shields belong to the High King and the Bards/Black Gorgons of Heroes Hall – though they had belonged to Renegade Bards, and had been cursed, they would stand out like sore thumbs, especially in Gladnor and Dunstrand, as recognizable as Black Gorgons Shields by those who would know, and we interact with many high people of the realm who might know.. I am certain it would not go well with us if we are found with them.. I believe that we should send those back to Heroes Hall in Oerdney after the curses are lifted unless he can be convinced otherwise – the only argument right now I can think of would be the shields wouldn’t be recognized here in the North, which is valid,but it still makes Taelin uneasy, but if they can help with protecting us in the North, that might work out. But does Harahd have any thoughts on this?

[Harahd]: The shields are not Black Gorgon shields – they are unique items lost in the northlands that have been cursed and were used to bait a trap.

[Jaq] Bah, these are loot. Cursed or not, they are powerful! We’ve given up too much to toss such things aside. I will be keeping Thanvoors Rebuff – you say its cursed, yet it saved my life. The other shield – maybe we should find out what it does before we get rid of it? The games these bards play are dangerous and ignore real people’s lives. Harahd has told me he intends to keep items of power we come across… we need to stop being the pushovers you want to make us into Taelin, you give away too much. Gallants FIRST!

[Taelin] Jaq, you are doubly cursed with the axe and now the shield…you are not thinking clearly…the Sisterhood of the Dhajar Hardeen could more than likely wipe us off the face of Helca without even breaking a sweat…We hold the Gallantine Academy by the good Graces of the Duke, but if we piss off the High King and his operatives, that can disappear in a heartbeat, and the remnants of us are back being the lowly mercenaries we were in the past. I am not sure in our station as Bannermen to Dunstrand and the Realm, that we should consider Black Gorgon’s items as “loot” for us to take like common highwaymen. We have sworn allegiance to our Duke, and until other circumstance change, we also have allegiance to the High King. The Black Gorgons represent the best of the best of the High King (OOC the Seal Team Six of the High King?) it would seem to held against us if we have killed and stolen from the Black Gorgons and would keep us from our goal of becoming one of the elite brotherhoods in the Steel Realms. We have fought hard for the station we have now, and I want to keep it growing.

Items of power are fine, especially if we can take those from the Hated Gwinnish (or even the overly pompous and self righteous Umbakians) or other places we visit and enemies we fight. But our reputation is growing the the In Dunstrand, Gladnor, and the Steel Realms and we are getting closer to our goal of having the status of one of the elite brotherhood’s in the Steel Realms, and I am doing what I can to protect our reputation and status for the long term. While many of the Bards are also pompous and may not necessarily care about “real people” they ARE personal representatives of the High King, and as such are generally allies (except in this recent case). It appears unseemly to be carrying items of allies that in no right we should actually possess except from less than upright means.

[Jaq] Really? Cursed shields? They dont even bare the emblem of the Black Gorgons. I see you carrying their arrows. i think this is about your guilt.

[Taelin] Jaq and Harahd, this has nothing to do with the fact I don’t want the Gallants having items of power or I don’t want a better future for our company – I have no moral qualms with taking items as we adventure, but items that belong to the Black Gorgons, the Bards of the Realm, and the High Kings Rangers among other prominent political, religious, or occult groups, are not common adventuring “loot”, and I am pretty certain there would be a political price to pay for having possession of these things that are obviously not ours, but belonging to agents of the High King, no matter how long ago. I am actually hoping we do the right thing and think politically about what we do – we are NOT common lowly mercenaries looking for the next bit of loot – we have much higher ideals and goals and responsibilities than that.

After our killing of the High Kings Black Gorgons and High Kings Rangers, and our interrogation by the Sisters of the Dhajar Hardeen, and now our deepening ties and bonds to the people’s of the north which seems to be opposed by the High King and/or his operatives, and the possible establishment of a Gwinnish land hold in the North (that we may or may not be able to stop) we are mired in a deep and dark political game in the realms, and it would seem that the wise thing to do is to make sure we play this new political game correctly, starting with the most obvious things. We have one slight against us, and if we can prove ourselves by somehow influencing this new Alliance where the Gwinnish are not a part of it, then maybe we will come out ahead in all of this.

I have seen disparaging remarks about me in the annals by Jaq and it would seem that Jaq is not the best one to be talking about what is good for the Gallants, especially ranting about possibly killing us if we try to take away the cursed shield. Also, It does NOT seem to be wise as Jaq suggests to go back to the Black Gorgon’s hide out in the ruins of Creb Navrood to gain the other cursed shield, for some dark Malek ritual to create some powerful weapon that will cause the Duke make us rich and famous for – It is clear to me Jaq, that your connection to Malek has had some sort of corrupting influence over you above and beyond the possession by Vanaryan and the shield.

And need I remind you both that we were gifted items personally from the High Queen’s Dragoons just about a half a year ago – our fine quality weapons with blades and scabbards etched with the Mark of the Duke of Dunstrand. The High Queen’s Dragoons PERSONALLY presented these weapons to us out of their respect of us, what we have accomplished and what we stand for. Why were the High Queen and her Dragoon’s traveling around the realm? To quote the Dunstrand Herald Quarterly of 1st quarter 9198: “The Queensguard making the rounds: The Queensguard (Long Live The Queen!) representatives of Gladnor have begun another cycle of its elden practice of traveling the realms to seek out those who have acted in accord with the ideals of the High King and acknowledge them. Portions of the guard (this time her majesty’s own dragoons) will be on the road for a full year.”

It would seem we have found a following and respect among the High Queen’s Dragoons and others in the Realm, and it would seem that carrying around Black Gorgon’s things without returning them to their rightful owners would immediately cause respect for us to dwindle and our fortunes as Bannermen turn to dust. That would be how to fail at the game of politics.

But again, for our travels in the North, as long as the cursed shields we currently have (and once the curses were lifted) would not cause a problem and not be recognized, then I do not see a problem, and yes, the help they could provide us against Sun Stealer and our travels into the Lich Lords lands would be good. . But it is going back to Gladnor and Dunstrand where I see political repercussions if we keep possession of those things after our adventuring in the North.. Just my thoughts on this matter.

[Jaq] Respect? Really? In the dreamlands, i saved the High King and his family personally from the creature that was coming to them in their dreams. You a dim witted fool. *walks off *

Meeting Ruardin

We meet in a warehouse – the air is cold and everyone can see their own breath. He has enough materials to construct a single suit of Ice Lizard hide armor – one of the things he is known for. He can also tell you what went wrong with the Remove Curse cast on Kye – the item AND Kye had to have remove curse cast at the same time – he’s seen it before, its a common case with the High Kings signature enchantments. He looks around at you all, “A particularly adventurous one of your lot may simply let me try something new with your armor or making a new suit; I’ll be using elementals to heat and pound in the process – it allows new avenues of power and a quick completion.

  • Jaq asks for the shield she is carrying to protect her still when she cannot get to it. Ruardin mentions its curse and Jaq seems ready to kill him. Harahd calms Jaq down and she tells him to “just do it”. He says “An animated shield then – i’ll use up the last of my favors from one side for that! I’ve never done work on a cursed item before – i guess there is a first time for it all. I’ll have them repair the latest dent from the hill giant bow as well.” – he motions, and a pair of Ducateon come in! They have all manner of scars and tattoos – not your typical looking specimens. He speaks to them in their tongue, and they move to take the shield from Jaq. She growls at them. Harahd has to calm Jaq down, eventually after 20 minutes of convincing, Jaq relents and the shield is taken away. The Ducateon write upon it in their strange runes – and take it to a cart outside.
    RESULT: Animated shield per DMG; repaired to 3 Resilience
  • Harahd convinces is loyal follower Kye that the Ducateon are only going to take the shield away to fix it. He keeps his fellow Gallant occupied. Harahd and Taelin corner him unknowingly and Taelin grabs Kye’s wrist before it go for his nasty knife. Ruardin nods and steps forward, commanding the powers that be to cease the struggles of the young rogue. He falls swiftly asleep. The 2 Ducateon take the shield away, chanting in their low voices. Kye is taken to the shrine of Merkaine and the curse is removed from him. Ruardin says the Ducateon will remove the curse thrown by the shield at the source.
    RESULT: “The shield is your otherwise – i have no wish for the damn thing. It has a fine history, but its tied to the north. If you want to get ride of the ability to throw the curse completely, you will have to probably take it to the senior sisters in the temple of Merkaine at the headwaters of the Blood River.”
  • Harahd himself has the Ducateon take his armor off – “surprise me, master maker”. They are rough with it, exclaiming in their tongue – obviously about how crude it is. “It will be a pleasure, servant of fire! Indeed, i believe that i can re-make this, weaving meteorite bands through it. I already have some prepared with runes engraved. I think you will like what i have planned.
    RESULT: 3 bands of metal wrap the torso, covered in Ducateon runes the read “blessed of fire”. +1 [magical] armor, +1 Resilience. When the wearer casts any non-cantrip fire or light spells, it causes the rune of fire to glow on all three bands. During the next 10 rounds, the wearer is resistant to necrotic damage. Any time dancing lights is cast, there are 3 extra lights.
  • Amun asks for a elemental of air to be bound to a javelin that returns to his hand. Ruardin exclaims his delight – “Always a delight to work with, sprites of the air. Indeed, I see your point, a man such as yourself has little use for the forged metals. I will do my best.”
    RESULT: [magical] no pluses; range is 30/120′, requires Attunement. As a Reaction, the thrower can make a sound that causes the javelin to return. As a Bonus action, the owner can make a sound and the javelin will transport instantly into their hand from anywhere up to 30′ away (even if held by another). The javelin is about 4′ long made of birch from the frozen forests; Keriel the Stinger.
  • Taelin asks to have his signature Fandelkrayne armor. Ruardin has never worked with such before – they do not get its like here in the north.
    RESULT:[converts to magical +1] Studded Leather – it can now be repaired since it is magical. It is Fandelkrayne armor otherwise. Repair is 20% for the use of Resist Fire, and 25% for the Resilience repair. It has the added property of Dancing Lights: 2/short rest Dancing Lights can be triggered that starts centered on the armor and lasts for 1 min.

The Night Jaq Broke

A couple days later …

Harahd – In your dreams that night, you see Jaq make her way in the first snow storm of the season to the edge of town. She sheds her gear, strips down – even leaving the cursed shield behind. She is naked and does not feel the biting cold. She snarls and takes off running – north by your account. The lights of the town behind her she quickly vanishes. Her eyes are red and you can tell the ghoul inside is running the show. You hear a crunch in the snow and draw your weapon, spinning. A grey cowled figure stands not far away – you can only see half their face but it is sad as Jaq vanishes into the snow. The figure whispers, but you can hear it in your mind above the swirling snow, “there is only one hope, seek the anima font under the falls, take her there” Before you can do anything, the figure vanishes in a howling wind – you blink and they have staggered off in the fog and snow. You wake up to the cold wind howling.

Chotla – In your dreams, you know you are getting a dream sending from a shaman nearby. In your visions are numerous meetings of Black Gorgons and pine tribesmen. The tribes refuse whatever it is these agents are representing. In one case, the final moments of a shaman as a Black Gorgon kills him are witnessed by his fetch and transferred to another shaman for you to see. Letters with threats are delivered throughout the north by agents of the High King on horseback. In one case, a Black Gorgon wizard hunts down some of the Exilion who rebuff the agents. In the mean time, in the west, a massive form can be seen out to sea, off the cost from hundreds of miles away. At the shores, the man in grey stares intently at the dark form. He looks at you and the whole world gets smaller – this is the creature to whom you owe a favor. A voice whispers in your mind, “Though you should have killed her long ago, you have held back. Consider your debt to me repaid. Consider now only your debt to her, as a sister in arms”. Before you can reply, a fog rolls over the water and the grey cloaked man is gone. In the distance, you can hear a strange sound and you know in your soul that its a sound thats not been heard by anything four thousands of years.Shaking yourself, you awake to see Harahd lighting a candle.

Togther you know the man in grey has spoken. Silently, you slip out in the pre-dawn light. You make your way to the crime-scene of William Enders house and grab several of the sets of heavy manacles he had for his victims. On the edge of town, finding the spot Harahd saw you recover her arms and gear. Using the hawk, you track the faint trail nearly covered by the snow to a farm stead. You find several pigs slaughtered, and a terrified family locked in the cellar of the farmhouse. Jaq is sleeping amidst the carnage. You do something you never though you would have to do – you draw upon the power of nature and corner what was once your friend before she can do any more damage. Chotla chants prayers in his people’s tongue while Harahd calls down the life-fire of Merkaine. The hawk confuses Jaq and as she claws at it (and a few feathers fly, but no permanent damage is done) Chotla slaps on the manacles. Eventually the thing that was Jaq is heavily manacled and bound – it cannot get leverage enough to break the bonds and you thank whatever gods where watching over when the last of Jaq’s humanity spared the family and prevented sentient flesh from really gaining her ghoulish strength. Whatever may have been left is gone now. The feral creature is beaten, with relish by Chotla. “Any debt to The Gallants has been paid. No one in their sane mind should have to suffer the presence of this thing. You must do as you believe, and this one last time i have spared its life, but never again.” Harahd sends the family to another farmstead, with many coins to pay their way. He asks Chotla to send the rest fo the group here after they have gotten ready – the cover story is that the best Inns are full and The Gallants needs a space to marshall, heal and train in in preparation for their next steps. Jaq is kept int he cellar, bound and gagged with chain. There is enough livestock to keep her alive and well throughout the winter (assuming you repay the family). First the baggage train of The Gallants arrives, a dozen plus 2 carts and a wagon. Next he waits for the others.

Taelin upon finding Jaq, Chot’la and Harahd gone, seethes in rage…he goes to the nearest bar and drinks and drinks and drinks…and then he flips out in one of his rare these days Half Elven rages, throwing things and breaking chairs and yelling incomprehensible smatterings of profanities of Gladnorian, Orrish and the very very few words in Elvish that he had heard his father say when angry…then wham, the bouncer cold-cocks Taelin and he is out for a while. When he comes to, looking into the faces of the angry bar owner and bouncer, Taelin says, hey I.m alright..sorry for the mess..I give them silvers to cover the cost and then a few more..and then I rally up the other Gallants and tell them that the crap may hit the fan as Jaq has convinced Chot’la and Harahd to do something really really stupid, though we really don’t know what it is, so we sit and wait for the crap to cover us…

Chotla returns and says that Jaq has been taken away, to a safe place where she can do no more harm. Harahd is seeking guidance from Merkaine because Jaq will never make it if they continue. He is hoping that the animus font will be able to help, so he is seeking to commune in that place. The Gallants leave town and regroup baggage train and all at a farm house on the outskirts. Jaq is manacled in a pit. Chotlas has left, leaving behind Farolds Wall. No one even thinks of following him. Over the next few days Thane Logoss’s men find you and begin to bring healing supplies and good food. The Thane is obviously trying to get you back into good spirits – he must have another favor to ask. Harahd spends an entire day in prayer and believes that the animus font may be a way to contain the feral evil that has taken Jaq’s mind. It is a powerful place, and the magic of the falls enhances such things.

[Harahd]: It seems as though we will not have to kill jaq, which we were getting very close to. She was nearly at a point of completely turning on the group and was making that clear to me. Hopefully this font resolves the issue. I would still prefer to completely put the ghoul spirit to rest but i dont know if we will be able to if it is suppressed within jaq. After that we still have an obligation to the church for their services to Taelin. What was the city we had to investigate? We Cant leave here until all our obligations are fulfilled.

[Taelin and Kye] Right now we have fulfilled your obligations. The battle at Emerald Falls is still rippling throughout the north. Dozens dead, a half hundred wounded, GIANTS! The Thane is holding camp and has asked that you heal up and before you leave he has a proposal. Taelin and Kye has heard from his LT’s that its something to do with the Northern Alliance (and the plot to go around the High King’s wishes). What we are talking about is treason basically – but hey, the Gallants are no stranger to treason and it turned out that the winner of the civil war in Bar-Innis got to decide who was treasonous. So its not so clear cut. This is obviously one of the most significant events in the north since the avatar of Elancil fought Hareen and the pre-cursors to the Gallants in a religious war for the northern territories. Some things just come full circle… such is life. Exploring the area around Emerald Falls while you heal is possible. The Thane made sure all the minions of Sun Stealer had been run off. You can heal and make daily treks to try and find this Font that Enders had talked about.

Harahd feels that the presence of a druid is a sign that cannot be ignored. Together they will work to uncover this magical font and tap into its power to somehow grant Jaq the power to stave off the ghoul possessing her.

[monastery]

Taelin is scouting the Shattered City to see if it’s really one from our realm. His Heartstone causes the same shivers and chills. So much of the city is blasted, stones split and land fissured. He gets little out of the extra few hours we allow him before even his tenacity fails him.

Since we got to this strange place i have self more and more my old self – the compassion, the connection and the heart of a warrior-scholar. The ghoulish animal rage has become nothing more than a distant roar of rushing water over a falls that seems miles away.
The last “mission” that we performed, to safeguard Escalon against these Slaad invaders the monks speak of, seems to have no effect on them. For saving their monastery, they seem thankless. It is as if it was just supposed to have happened. These strange monks talk little, never lift their heads up, and everything they do seems a regime or program they must obey without question. They even all look alike – to all of us. They did not even offer healing for us – though the old abandoned monk barracks that we occupy was cleaned perfectly when we returned.

We have finally decided to take several days and recuperate. Our powers are exhausted, through Harahd’s healing has done wonders for us. The heartstone was my obvious vulnerability in returning from what appeared to be part of a shattered city of the Steel Realms here in one of these “6 lands” of Escalon. It flickers and the light inside plays differently.. I feel as if there may be a way to heal it locked away somewhere in the depths of knowledge this place contains. The bitter cold that struck at me is slowly receding. Taelin is recovering as well – his investigations showed that the inscriptions he found (few left), were in ancient Dundarian… so the mystery deepens about the place, was it really a piece of some city the Lich Lords attacked? Why was it brought here? Taelin has an unbroken heartstone, and the cold will not leave him. He shivers and despite pressing himself for a couple days after we get back, he slips into chills and slight fever. His new right hand man watches over them.
When we announce we will need a long rest to the monks, they just seem to leave us alone. We take a few days to take stock.
Amun the druid takes long walks at the fringes of the guards. They are unnatural is all he can say. He has never seen their like anywhere – all manner of fungus. He does not know where they farm the food they are feeding us.

Kye simply decides to observe. The monks get around without signs or asking questions. He gets the strange sensation of subtle shifts in the halls he walks through repeatedly. In describing it, we surmise that if what we believe is true, that we are in some island of stability within the great plane of limbo, then perhaps the all present chaos is working is influence on this place. The monks eat simple fare, whilst we eat like kings. We have been told where the kitchens are, but have yet to go there – there always seems food within minutes of us entering the dining hall. Kye seeks the monks talking in hushed tones when they do not believe they are being observed. He does not speak their language, but they repeat a word or words over in different order. When I translate them, they seem to indicate “war-doers”. It makes sense – they probably see us this way. The place has three courtyards with surrounding buildings, and one main massive courtyard with many a darkened arch off its column lines borders. The architecture is like nothing from the north, where we came from. It is grand, like the tales of the massive cathedrals of the capital of Oerdney. All the monks were the same thing and only a couple have any sort of color on them – 2 anyway – that denote rank, role or something, no one is sure what but they do seem to be in charge. After deciding to simply let things try and come to him passively, Kye notices something strange. A monk accompanied by some larger figure in similar robes, but moving like one of the dead. He follows the monk through the valley outside the monastery (confirming the gates are open during the “day”), and up into the hills. Stealthily he follows him up to the edges of the mist surrounding the mountain valley the monastery feels like its in. He watches the monk approach another large hulking sentinel staring at the base of a tower at the edge of the mist. The 2 hulking figures trade places and the monk returns. He gets a glimpse at the figure – it is no zombie, it is a construct of some kind. After the monk leaves to escort the old guardian, Kye approaches the new one. Hours of waiting and watching, he finally does make a noise on the loose rock and the head turns to look at him – the body does not – and keeps turning all the way around until it faces the tower again! Definitely some construct of a magical sort! He gets closer and closer to the tower. He passes the figure which seems to ignore him, betting on the fact that it appears to be here to prevent something from getting out, not in. Seeing the tower up close, it has 4 stories, made of strange glass, crystal, stone and obsidian even. No windows, only a massive single door made of basalt stone inset with a lock that looks complex and big. The only adornments are the crenelations on top, and a small covering sticking out above the door that looks like it just shelters the doorway from rain. He got to 2 feet of the tower with nothing happening and returns to the monastery proper. He asks Jaq about the word he overheard the monk repeating as it escorted away the other automaton and initially I did not know. I will later decipher it to mean “return” – a command word of some sort to the creature?

I am trying to decipher this book we found on the Slaad creatures in the shattered city and teach our new companion Erin Rotella enough of our words to get by. She seems shaken but fine now. Her strange weapon, a “gun” intrigues us all. She says it throws “bullets” at least 4 times as fast as an arrow. But she has few of these and i don’t blame her for not wanting to waste such magics in a demonstration for us. I don’t recognize any of the place names she mentions. She has no idea what the Slaad were doing, and cannot read their tongue or any other we mention – though she says she can read. Only Harahd knows i have the book they were carrying, secured in The Satchel of Mog. It definitely shows some gruesome pictures – that Erin was meant as a sacrifice there is no doubt. I show her this to emphasize the bond she owes us and she understands enough. This entire experience reminds of of some of the dread whisperings i heard when we explored the world of Pan g’Diam. There is something so close to my memory, it aggravates me.

Chalas and I trek to the library, thousands of books are available – all written in their Gith tongue, but my ritual book allows me to cast a spell that allows me to read theirs for an hour or so, and so it’s slow going, but steady. I figure out their organization system quickly.

Chalas and I find the history of the monastery. He is looking for figures of great importance that we can question them about. Its several volumes… we try and decide where to start – beginning, middle or end, but it’s overwhelming. Chalas decides he wants to look for maps and all we find is a few of the same drawings of “public” rooms – the great hall for example – which denotes sitting arrangements for the visit of some great being or official from another time/place.

Keth uses his own monastic background to seek out something related to his own abilities…
hoping he can perhaps learn from these creatures himself. He notices after a day that they move quicker through the monastery than us, not just based on their knowledge, but something else. And he notices their robes and sandals are home made. His nose eventually leads him to a set of upper hallways in the cathedral like place where he smells the chemicals and process of dyeing. Try as he might, he cannot make his way through the shifting corridors to reveal the source. He uses the teachings of his evil masters and becomes one with the shadows, waiting until a monk of the monastery comes by (after waiting silently nearly an entire day!), and then follows them. A large 3 vat room with strange light sources (he reckons the room is actually in the hillside the monastery is built against) and simply comes forward to talk to the 2 monks operating the process. They are taken aback momentarily, but he says he wants to learn. They say there is no time, and that he is not allowed, He still wishes to learn, why is there no time? Apparently the leader of the order has given them the task to complete whatever in-process weaving and dyeing was going on, in preparation for leaving. He looks for the once-mentioned weave using metal strands, and does see a few spools of silvery like substance, but nothing to indicate its being used in anything currently. He makes a note of how to backtrack to this place again. Looking around seems to cause the monks no offence – there are several side rooms with several cloaks, robes, and sandals in the works. A glass “trophy” type case, bathed in light from some sort of mirror bringing in light from the outside contains 2 recently finished cloaks/heavy capes – of the kind they seem to be producing here.

Harahd and Devco tried observed the activities and there appeared to be 2 times during the day when the monks went to some meeting point. Possibly a prayer call, but only the faintest chimes could be heard – it took several seconds before even one could be heard faintly. The monks must have sensitive hearing. They tried for a couple days to track down where the monks were going, but they were too fast. Devco used his power to detect good and evil with strange effect. It was almost as if it was not working, but after some prayer for guidance, he realized that it was trying to show that celestial, elemental, and fiend all were being detected. Idols in alcoves, statues in courtyards, all the obvious ones… once again, perhaps some subtle effect of chaos is going on here. We all share what we find each day. We have tried to divine if there are any scrying devices in the old barracks they are allowing us to use, and find nothing. Jaq assists Harahd and Devco and tries to find where the monks are going. She has more success and discovers it is a call to prayer in a strange chapel. They all had prayer rugs, and it was a natural grass covered area, but under a stone roof with columns surrounding it on all sides. The covering was absent from the nearest area to the statue – a great stone slab of a monk just like the ones in the monastery here. There’s writings at the base of the statue and around the columns. They seem to be prayers. She cannot get close to the statue without interrupting the monks. She listens for clues and find nothing. She believes she might have been seen, but as usual, the monks don’t seem to care that much. She tries to memorize the shifting passages that lead here there and returns to her companions.

Chalas goes out one night determined to find the source of the chimes that call the monks. He manages to hurt himself in a fall trying to climb the tallest tower (120’). It appears to be a bell tower… the tops is visible at night as opposed to shrouded in mist during the day. After his initial fall, he scales the entire distance. Squeezing into the chamber, he finds a large bell of no material he has ever seen. And its perfect – no material construction can make something like it in our world. The mist seems not to cling to as much during the “night” here – and he sees the tower Kye found as well as the burnt out base of another one on the edges of the mist. At the top of the tower Kye found is some sort of creature – a large one that moves occasionally.. So it seems from his vantage point. He sends his scout beetles down and makes sure he is alone – only 4 candles burning around the base of the rope and it’s a cathedral of some sort with a 60’ roof, than 60 feet more of the bell tower. Down he goes, after securing the clapper carefully. It’s a massive hall with horrifying pictures of violence. The monks against similar type creatures, but wielding swords. There is no specific magic his beetles could detect, but the hairs on my arms go up when he looks at the the relief carvings – surely it took magic to make them. The relief carvings cover the walls and stick out some 2 feet and are life-like and life-sized in detail. After a while of careful examination, he believes from the smell and scuffs on the floor and wall that it’s a training facility. The weapons actually come out of the hands of the relief characters on the walls! He finds 2 clever side chambers, one some sort of a steam bath, the other a changing room. Many robes, sandals, etc are here, not yet put away and with a few tears in them. He pees in the bunch, so great is his anger at not finding anything worth stealing. He notes the few words, symbols, and placement of items to ask Jaq about later and leaves. As he is returning in the late hours an alarm is rung. He hides the robes and sandals he took, and makes his way to the wall to leave the monastery. He is startled when a concealed door in the wall opens not far from him and a monk seems him plain as day, and totally ignores him. He decides to return to his chambers, that it cannot be attached to his activities and finds Keth absent, and accidentally awakens a couple in the group form his sloppy window entry – his arms are aching from so much climbing. Harahd says nothing more than asks for a debrief in the morning. Awakened and unable to sleep, Kye remembers a critical fact… there was a gesture along with the phrase the monks repeated in conversations. This i am not able to understand, but Amun speaks up and says it may be related to the druidic speak which is partial signs and gestures along with the limited words. Taken in context and with Amun’s explanation, i can only assume they mean “murder-doers”. This does not indicate the level of respect or cooperation we were thinking we might achieve with the denizens of the monastery.

Conferring with Jaq the writings on the walls in the training room are telling a story of battle depicted by the reliefs. The monks fight a foe whose name reappears over and over – “Githyanki”. Jaq has only heard of them – terrible beasts from the outer plans of magical places. Raiders and reavers. If they fight these creatures, they cannot be that bad. The magic on the clapper is something that sends a message silently and in complete words to the monks. Such as the spells it is bound up in says Jaq after reviewing the symbols Chalas brought back. The group learns of the night time sojourn and what it revealed while dressing. When they group leaves for breakfast they find a monk is waiting for them.

Apparently, 2 “visitors” – a pair of Drow/Faye-Born – were placed in sleep much like our new friend Chalas but they were more than they appeared. Their bodies were suspended hundreds of years ago (i think this is what they say) in the same sort of process – apparently there are others (mental note – these could be allies, at the least we should try and save them no matter what our hosts say and not let the monks leave them behind to die). Publicly i mention we need to talk to the monks about what we can do to help them, we can’t just leave them. Anyway, something was inside the pair of creatures. Their corpses were “torn open” and something demonic escaped – the monks believe it related to the Drow’s demon-mother Lolth. It attempted to get into the library, but was accidentally interrupted by one of the “cleaning automatons” says the monk. Then the monks ask us for help. It appears as if 2 or more of their number were poisoned, and 2 killed by the creatures now prowling the monastery. The “library defenders” (no explanation) and monks drove them out of the library into a room next to it – the Room of Kings. I don’t believe we have seen this room… but now the monks flat out ask for our help and seem to expect it. Against demons. We ask for a moment as Chalas starts to yell at them for not helping us much. We confer and believe we should simply ask for a way home. Somewhere in all this knowledge, it must exist. I believe it to be true, but how do we fight demonic creature? I have fought a few and remind all present that there is no consistency is such things from the pits – some are easy, others near impossible to slay. We must be given the means – or some means at the least. I can near feel Boneshaker rattle in its sheath at my hip – lusting for battle. The monks says the “treasury” can be opened up (Chalas seems happy) and if we can find a weapon in this place where offerings of material goods are stored then we may use it. We confer again. Can we keep these weapons? What about other things? A treasury seems to have everyone excited.

This whole story sounds rotten. I ask to be taken to see the bodies. The monks are silent, and do not approve of it. Instead the can bring the bodies to us. I disagree. I persuade them that it’s in the best interests of everyone if we see the bodies were they lie. Some clue might be obstructed or lost in moving them. They say there is no one to spare right now, that all monks are busy. I tell them i will wait. Others offer to go to the treasury. Fair enough… We agree to the monks request, assuming we find something in the treasury that can harm the demonic killers that are holed in this king chamber.

We wait to see what the monks will do. Despite the imminent threat of war they talked about, they do not seem pressed for time. As noted before, we believe time is passing differently around us. How exactly, we are not sure, but the consensus is that is not a 1-to-1 moment by moment passage of time. The 2 monks who escorted us wait for minutes in silence, then one of them leaves our presence after talking to the other briefly (once again, i believe we are referred to as “murder-doers”). The other waits for a moment, and asks for those seeking the “treasury” to follow… him? It? Amun stays behind with me without being asked.. We look at each other in silence, both us us obviously hoping that it’s as simple as the monks present – but knowing in our hearts that it will not be such.

The monk takes a group of The Gallants to the treasury he spoke about. He says that the monks who normally managed it have gone. No indication of how, why, or by what means is given and they are effusive as always. They say much without saying much at all. They stand before 2 rows of columns, leading to a double doors. As a reception chamber, it leaves a lot to be desired – there are stone benches and dried fountains. Nothing moves and there is a thin layer of dust over it all.The monks tell the others that there may be protections in place, but that once they breach the lock on the treasury, whatever is in there is theirs to take. Give with one hand, take with the other. Harahd knows a bargain is a bargain, we foolishly committed to helping assuming the treasury bears fruit… not knowing that the act itself would be an adventure in and of itself. He leaves the group to contemplate and leaves.

Perhaps it was him that showed up back to talk to us, but Amun and myself were taken through a columned maze and through one courtyard and into one of the myriad darkened arches and the floor begins to slope down. The monk answers no questions, we ask several. I try and remember how we got here, but it is next to impossible… vertigo causes me to lose all sense of direction as we bottom out. Here, in a darkened chamber with a flickering oil lamp, an old automaton stands in front of an ancient metal door. The creature wears armor – a breastplate and greaves. It seems to have no weapons, but i can only imagine the mace like contact its hardened hand and arm can give. The monk has his back to us, and pulls out a ring with keys, doing something and the sentinel standards aside. He inserts a key into the lock and the lock screams as it’s turned. Tortured metal gives way and a great metallic shriek echoes down a seemingly endless hallway as the hinges move. He tells us not to speak. We walk past 2 dozen cell doors, metal, with cold emanating from them all. A light glows ahead and we enter a cell on the left – cell 34. These were once Drow, of that there is no doubt. Gender, age, height and weight are all difficult to determine. They have basically been torn apart from the inside out. Something clawed its way out of them. The pair have been partially eaten. The smell would be horrendous were it not for the cold. It takes a lot of convincing, but we get materials to clean the bodies. Whatever came out of them was not natural – Amun and I both agree. It was not sharp either, they are well torn up. But there is something on them. After they are clean, and we piece the skin of the chest back, on both of the reads the same, written in Drow: “Queen Mother Lolth’s Tongue-Fire”. I head back to the index of the great library – now that i have seen it, they have ten thousand indexed items and more on secondary indexes. It takes only a few minutes to find the entry for it. This is supposedly the antidote for the drow fungi AND spider poison. It’s made by fungi growing right in the monastery’s fields (supposedly). I have to tell the other before we do anything with this knowledge.