Author: Arabus Grenier; [About 4 years of gaming notes]
Exodus of Rugaut; Part one
So yesterday’s adventure went a bit awry. Less people showed up than Casey anticipated so he asked me to run an adventure, it went as follows.
The party had a bad mold hit the pack wagon and it rotted the vast majority of the food and even weakened a lot of the horse tack. The party decided to send a few people into the mountain town of Cyphres to resupply while the others stayed in the mainland watching for any darkland pursuers from the war effort.
Striker, Risk, Quarter master, and the wolf priest approach the small quarrying town and are initially greeted with wariness.
Quartermaster does well with the mayor and gathers all the supplies needed for a reasonable fee. The party decides to stay a little longer to purchase most of what they need from a merchant rather than depleting the towns stores.
Risk and striker discover old signs of both Ducateon AND Nurth habitation.
Risk spends most of the adventure smiling and acting very odd, like hes trying to be charming. He fails miserably at it. Striker learns that chance and lucky are trying to take over risks mind.
The party eats with the town and spends the night in the mayor’s house. The mayor seems oddly educated for a man in such a small town. He expresses knowledge of many topics over the course of the session.
The wolf priest does a star reading and learns that a tragedy will soon come to the town. Unfortunately he doesn’t know if it will occur tomorrow or next month.
Striker and Quartermaster are both suspicious of the military guardsmen posted in the town. Particularly Sgt. Miles. Striker learns that sgt. miles is likely a high ranking agent of the high kings sent to keep dark land spies from the area. When he confronts the sergeant he refuses to let the issue go and it results in the sergeant and his men fleeing the vicinity.
By the 3rd day there is a great rumbling and the entrance ways to the town are blocked by an apparent avalanche. Risk believes it was deliberate. Striker and the others grow suspicious of Miles.
Risk feels drumming under the earth. The party is convinced that the Nurth are coming. The mayor tells striker of a an old tunnel the ducateons left behind to escape the region.
The town packs up, leading their horses and wagons up the river path to the glacier lake above the down so they do not have to climb the cliffs.
The party has to navigate through the nests of giant spiders, killing a few and losing a member of the town in the process.
One of Sgt. Miles men tells striker of a Nerth tunnel that was abandoned and would lead out from the lake if they could find it. Striker seeks the guidance of Merkaine to lead the exodus. A pillar of flame guides the way, purifying the entrance of the dark taint.
The party goes into the tunnels 1st and fights a swarm of Nurth, pushing them back and clearing a passageway for the townsfolk.
Exodus Of Rugaut; Part 2
Recap of last session
The party emerges from the 1st set of tunnels, having to persuade the villagers to follow through the carnage of the nurth
After a day of searching the entrance to the old ducateon tunnels is found
the villagers are recruited to help scout branching tunnels, one reports back that digging equipment was found
the party through sheer luck misses a patch of pungi traps, which causes the villagers to fall prey
The nurth attack in a horde.
The party fights to hold the horde at bay while a reinforcement of comrades approaches from the other side of the nurth.
Daron, the newest recruit, botches a charge into the nurth flank
The tunnel suffers a cave in, killing many nurth and a few of Agent Miles men.
Agent miles recruits the party to go on an exploratory mission into the Nurth territory
The party sends thier excess gear with the villagers and proceeds down through a long series of traps and fights.
Risk discovers he can destroy the darkness created by the nurth by smashing the rocks that the nurth throw.
The wolf suffers with his claustrophobia constantly, proving less effective than normal.
At a fork in the tunnels a swarm of nurth appear and odd 6 limbed nurth attack from the ceiling.
The party is surviving but most equipment is thrashed at this point
One path ends in a dark archway that even risk cannot see into. Striker decides to go the other way.
The other path ends in a bright light behind a portcullis, two figures demand the party drop thier weapons.
Striker and Quartermaster use risk as a translator to negotiate entry.
Striker goes unarmed into the domain of the people who call themselves the ‘denizens’, a odd breed of nurth and ducateon.
Striker earns some trust by using the mirror of id, offering his very life to prove himself.
The party is permitted entry and are all willing to use the mirror as a sign of good faith. Striker refuses to tell anyone what the mirror is. It seems very personal to him.
Quartermaster tries to gain knowledge and access to the denizen weaponry.
The party uses the mirror, all offering significant sacrifice to prove worthy. Nobody fails.
Daron comes out the most changed, bearing an oath and a virtuous essence bond. He bears an add mark on the left side of his neck.
Risk undergoes a mind altering experience as the minds of Chance and lucky try to overwhelm him in the mirror. Through a series of 10 different battles of will risk maintains control of his own identity, but drops unconscious, a similar mark to Darons’ appears on his neck. the mirror goes black for a short while. The only clear thing is that Risk swore some kind of oath as well, as a bargain for help combating the twins will.
Exodus Of Rugaut; Part 3
Striker encourages the party to find what information they can about the people and thier history, a process that reveals tales of a ‘great protector’ who was once a guardian but has become dormant in the last weeks.
Helvia follows the trail of Nurth corpses to find the party, arriving with 2 new recruits from Rugaut. Both young masons interested in seeing the world since their home was destroyed. They introduce themselves as Darrel Mason and Calin Carver
Striker questions whether he should encourage them to go through the mirror but the guardian of the mirror says that the mirror sleeps with its creator. When asked why it has stopped working he points at Risk and says something about ‘crazy crazy in the head’.
Sandvitz (the party’s guide and babysitter) informs the party learns that they must question people other than him if they wish to learn more about the theology of the denizens faith, but fills them in on a very detailed history.
The party explores a route to the Denizens old shrine, and discover that something caused a collapse in the path from the auditorium seating to the shrine itself.
Darrel and Calin determine that the walls were scorched by some kind of intense unnatural heat. Fire would be too cold and volcanic activity would react differently.
Many in the party begin to suspect something Draconian is involved with this place.
Daron calls to the great protector, Demanding that he reveal himself. Amazingly enough a spirit responds and Daron sees another route on the far side of the cavern. He feels without a doubt that he can get there.
On the return trip the caverns are brightened as though by a roaring fire. Across the lake Daron sees a female figure made of water that sinks into the lake when she is noticed. The party grows wary when he informs the party.
While conferring with the twins to identify the creature as a water elemental Risk temporarily loses his body to Chance.
The party questions the chief’s wife, Indvhal, and learns that the faith of the denizens used to be much more proactive, but many of the old ways have been forgotten. She tells them of a trial that would open the path to the shrine for those who proved worthy. She tells them that beyond that they would have to speak to either Unjik the ‘medicine lady’ or Oondzin, the guardian of the mirror.
Unjik is bitter and vile, she refuses to help until Helvia offers her food. She then tells the party of the two elementals that act as keys, one in the lake and one in the steam caverns. She says the ‘great protector’ put them there to maintain his solitude after abandoning the Denizens. The party pays little heed to her cynical views.
Oondzin proves to be a challenge as he is been rendered mad by continual exposure to the mirror. The party learns that heeding Oondzins odd requests brings moments of mild clarity. He expresses trouble sleeping because a fellow named Vipho disturbs him. In his explanations he reveals that he knows things of the party that they haven’t even shared with each other. He seems to be able to read their soul and essence just by looking at them.
The party follows the odd little creature as he refuses to go to his bed by any means other than rolling. After several hours he takes the to a tunnel were a monster of a creature is sitting on what Oondzin identifies as his bed. He expresses great discontentment over the fact that the creature (vipho) is bashing a rock against his head over and over. The party slowly manages to figure out that the rock is Oondzins pillow.
Vipho seems very dumb, but is willing to put down the rock to wrestle. After he throws stiker into the roof of the tunnel with one arm the party discovers that one of Oondzins odd remarks was about Vipho have the the strength of 10 men.
Daron tries next and is similarly dispatched, rendered unconscious. Striker tries once more and uses Viphos own strength to get behind him, then proceeds to hold on for as long as he can until Vipho smashes him into the wall.
Vipho makes an innocent effort to care for Striker and is very giddy about the ‘good wrestle’.
Calin offers Vipho a new rock and through some not so subtle trickery the party gets oondzins pillow. Oondzin is pleased and puts his pillow on his bed, the leads the party back to the mirror, walking this time.
The party manages to learn of the stipulations of the trial, and figures out that they have to go through the steam caverns to get to the shrine, but will have to unlock the doors by killing the elementals.
Quartermaster manages to get the true names of the elementals from oondzin. They call to the earth elemental and proceed to destroy it when it responds.
The domain of the earth elemental is treacherous, requiring the party to climb and jump across treacherous pitfalls that end in boiling steam, but they manage to get across by slowly traversing the obstacles and securing themselves to one another.
The follow a path to the shrine and see that one half of the door is lit by a rune, but the other half is not. The doors won’t budge. Discouraged the party heads back to slay the water elemental, now having it confirmed that the have to unlock BOTH runes to open the shrine.
Nobody dies in traversing the steam caverns again.
The party calls to the water elemental and manage to destroy it with little damage to anything other than risks shield and armor.
Nobody dies in the 3rd crossing of the steam caverns.
The party manages to communicate with the spirit of Vestuul, a great dragon that lies dormant in the mountain range. He is the one the Denizens call the ‘great protector’.
The party learns of a scheme of the Nurth and agree to quell this evil by plunging into the heart of the dark lair and destroying the ritualistic runes that have been enacted by the diseased creatures.
Risk, Quartermaster and Darron, all tied to Vestuul, are granted higher purpose while destroying this evil.
The party prepares for combat, bartering with the Denizens for weapons made to kill the Nurth and what little supplies they can get. Most are stoic and quiet. They are very aware that survival is a long shot at best.
Exodus Of Rugaut: Part 4, Final Chapter
Equipped to the best of their ability the party delves into Nurth domain. Striker decides to strike at the heart of the Nurth, in the Dark-brood Warrens where the darkness is so thick even Risks Ducateon senses cannot penetrate it.
Entering single file the party enters the darkness, immediately beset by the effects of the Deeping, nearly crippling Canis due to his claustrophobia.
Upon hearing the movement of dozens of creatures Risk utilizes the power of light granted by the spirit of Ve’stuul, grating the party a full minute of reprieve from the overwhelming darkness and stunning the Nurth for a few seconds.
The battle goes well for the party for a short while, as they drop dozens of nurth rapidly, but soon the sheer numbers and poison of the Nurth threatens to overwhelm the party.
Risk sacrifices his higher purpose to bolster the party temporarily, while the spider-like Nurth jump from the walls to attack from behind and the few priests of darkness attempt to cripple the party with diminishing rituals.
The party resists the powers of darkness and stands strong, Calin suffers a near death blow and feigns unconsciousness. When the Nurth ignore him he steps up to attack them by surprise, then is forced to dodge for his life.
Canis drops, and most of the parties armor is destroyed. Quartermaster slays those in front of him and makes a mad rush at the priests, slaying 2 of them in a show of heroism while Calin manages a deadly shot to a third.
Quartermaster throws a knife at the last priest, not even checking to see if it lands, then rushes headlong into what remains of the horde.
Daron drops, the force of holding the end of the line being too much for him to handle alone.
As the Nurth refocus on Calin Quartermaster throws his body sideways, forcing Calin to duck under the attack and knocking the nurth into a pile of chaos.
Risk and Striker manage to cut down the remaining Nurth around them.
Calin begins stabbing the Nurth on the ground while Quartermaster Thrashes wildly on the ground, throwing the Nurth into each other and tripping them up as they struggle to regain their feet.
With the last of the Nurth in the Warren slain, the party quickly gather their wounded and exit the Deeping to tend their wounds.
Risk severely diminishes his med-kit as he works tirelessly to patch wounds and stabilize those who are bleeding out. Risks prolonged practice as a medic pays off as the party is saved from the worst of infection, poison, and debilitating wounds.
They move deeper into the caverns, encountering a single Nurth that exhibits unusual bravery and rushes them and refuses to quit, even after Darons spear impales it. It becomes clear why when the party finds 3 Nurth children cowering in the next warren. Striker kills them and the party moves on. Quartermaster, Risk and Daron struggle with the event, but all come to grips with the necessity and raise no issue.
In the next Warren the party hears the sound of Nurth retreating, but believe that in the other direction lies the path to their objective.
They follow the tunnel that unlike the warrens appears to have been carved by Ducateons. Part way through is what appears to have been a minor collapse that requires the party to crawl under unstable rock.
Risk uses his earth sense and detects a few Nurth down the tunnel. Striker, risk and Calin go through and combat the Nurth, but the dark creatures manage to cave in the weak section, separating the party the party.
Risk, Striker and Calin proceed forward while Quartermaster, Canis and Daron attempt to dig through the rubble.
Quartermaster and Daron discover another tunnel above, they manage to clear enough to get up to it.
The forward party discovers the Rune they are looking for, and it is recognized as a power of Gloombringer.
Striker decides he stands a better chance of desecrating the rune than attempting to dispel it with his conviction.
The hammer blows against the rune echo throughout the caverns, and Striker is struggling between each blow as the backlash grows progressively stronger.
Striker prevails against the Rune after 4 blows, looking obviously pained and the hammer he was using tarnished beyond repair.
The party gathers in the tunnel above the cave in.
They travel further down into a room with a draconic theme to it. The rune on the floor heals many of the party, but harms Canis.
Traveling past the room the party finds another square room with the carving of a dragon eye on the wall. Risk identifies it as a door directly to the dragon.
Daron opens the door, presenting himself before the eye of the dragon. The dragon extracts an oath of silence from the party about his whereabouts, then bestows a gift to each party member for their aid in his awakening.
The party goes back to the Denizens to say goodbye, and Calin makes the excursion into the mirror. He fares well and develops an affinity for language and aura sight.
The return to the surface is uneventful, but the party is relieved to find their comrades and equipment safe. Agent miles thanks them for their service then collects everyone’s names to inform the High king of who was involved.
Frozen Trek: Part I
Entry 8, 9th month of guild duty.
As written by Risk- field physician.
Travel back to the hammer and anvil proves only slightly easier than our trek into the dark lands. More hybrids pester us, enraging the party, who only want to go home. For once i agree wholeheartedly with the humans.
We set up for the night in a cavern we’d previously discovered but not explored. Watches are set and we discuss what our next step is. Bugeyes informs us that he is going deeper in the cavern to take care of something and that we are not to follow. His retinue goes with him and we are left alone.
In the night we received a strange visitation that seems able to slip through the earth at will. The group suspects an earth elemental, though i am not so sure. I am unable to detect the creature using my earth sense. It either left very quickly or is not an elemental.
The following morning Bugeyes had not returned. Ever a soldier, Striker followed orders and informed us we were not going after him. No one argued, all confident that Bugeyes would be fine. Our mission had been completed, and we had been paid in advance. We continued our journey out of the darklands.
Few at the hammer and anvil questioned our return without the holy warrior. Apparently he’d left instructions to care for us should he not return. We were given lodging and rested for several days.
Excited and anxious to return home, and to see what Quartermaster had made of the guilds issues, we packed our travel gear and prepped for the long journey. At this point Striker told the party he was going north. He’d promised to help the grollens with their civil war and must be on his way. No one wanted to go, and he did not ask…. but no one would leave him behind.
Instead of going south, we booked passage aboard a river vessel to ordney, where we would resupply and travel west, hoping to follow that only path morth Striker was familiar with. It took us months to get from home to here… this journey will likely take 6 months or more just one direction.
Frozen Trek: Part II
ENTRY 9, 9th Month of Guild duty,
As Written by Risk: Field Physician
From Ordeney we chartered another ship down river, to the west. Striker says we will stock up in Karolak, apparently one of the last posts of civilization before you enter the wylds.
For some reason after the negotiations with our captain striker and Calin came back slightly bloody and laughing. The only explanation the offered was that the crime in the town has been significantly reduced.
In ruary we picked up a young “adventurer” some local rich kid who thinks the outside world is better than city life. We saved him from some thugs and cleared his debt, but striker says he is indebted to us. He admits to sme magical training.
I hate ships….. just death-boxes over a watery grave. I spent 3 weeks hiding below deck.
The 24th day of our voyage we hit a customs inspection. Bribes were given to expedite the process and keep our captain happy, though Striker was only aware of the tax paid for the valuables on board.
Shortly after customs we were bogged down for 3 days due to storms. The Magus and his newfound ‘friend’ go out into the storm to search for plants……humans are odd.
Only a day out from the break of the storm we were caught in a trap. River pirates swarmed the ship, with a few supportive archers along the shore. They nearly tucked tail and ran when the encountered Daron at the front of the ship. In Chain wielding a greatsword he reaped havoc on the nearly as fast as they could come up. With nor armor, and nothing heavy enough to punch through the chain, Daron eliminated any hope they had of taking the ship. The rest of us joined the fray slightly behind Daron, wiping the deck clean. One of the Sailors held his own fairly well. The rest of us were impressed and we drank with him often afterwards.
No more mishaps occured on our voyage, and nearly a month of sailing brings us to Karolak.
Jimmy Wharf, the sailor we drank with, has asked to join us, simply stating that he’s good outdoors and that he believes he’ll be better off with people who know what they are doing in a fight. No one objects to hi joining.
Frozen Trek: Part III
ENTRY 10, Month 10- 12 of guild duty.
As written by Risk- field Physician
Tensions are high. Traveling for this long is not good on any ones spirit. I have taken to pranks that keep everyone on their toes and distracted from the truth of our situation. The truth being that our lives are kind of shit right now. Chance and lucky have been very active in this time. Allowing them to plan the pranks keeps them somewhat content. Thankfully the guards left by Ves’Tuul have kept them within the recesses of my min where i can contain and control them, but i cannot bring myself to suppress my brothers on a constant basis.
Karolak is amazing, easily the largest and richest city any of us have ever seen. Even Striker, who has been here before,is out of place and obviously just trying to make it by. I sold off a bottle of rare whiskey I’d bought ages ago and gave the silver to Striker. It covered many expenses, including arctic survival kits and our stay at an above average inn. There have been a few drunken nights and i will not deny some general debauchery. All necessary. Lucky is very fond of our budding thief Fudashi: he was put under the charge of Daron by Striker. This has resulted in a quite comical display of Fudashi deliberately trying to get Daron into trouble. He’s not very subtle, but Daron is too straightforward and honest to realize, and I think he is so far beneath everyone else notice that they just don’t bother to pay any attention. I really only see it due to having watched Chance and Lucky my whole life. Though odd and chaotic, the mischief bodes well for the group.
Light fighter and Saleh (Bowser remind me of your character names in a private email please) encountered varying Magi and made some extreme purchases. The kid puts me to shame with his talent,but I’m certain i have a stronger knowledge of what i’m dealing with than he, especially with the help of my brothers. He is utilizing varying components to turn his spells into portable potions. I believe Saleh has spent what’s left of his father’s money on these components.I can’t think of how else he got the money. Light fighter has finagled THOUSANDS of silver from the party to commission a magus to make him more vital,more ‘resilient’ if you will. The magus fulfilled his end of the bargain, Light fighter is obviously more vital and has demonstrated that he it will take much more to take him down than it would seem: but i have to wonder at what cost. He doesn’t seem to look beyond the transaction and result, but what others don’t seem to get is that ALL magic comes at a price, regardless of how benign or simple the effect. The Magus used SOMETHING to empower the effect or make the change in Light fighter, i am very curious as to WHAT.
Striker met with some local wealthy man, agreeing to run an errand or him. In exchange he gave us a guide for a certain distance through the wylds and offered us a ‘favor’ on our way south. We must take the guide and a box to the pine tribesmen and then allow the guide and a hostage to return home. It is on our way and we know little of the area so the deal seemed good.
Striking out is odd. I will miss the streets. The woods get thicker, the air grows colder, and the rains come more frequently. I am less affected than the others, but I will state again: I will miss the streets.
WE encountered a band of pine tribesmen, the guide barely managed to negotiate and get us through.
Another encounter,our guide makes clear our intentions.
The forest is thick, we cannot ride any longer and are forced to guide our animal train. It is good that we did not attempt to bring quartermasters wagon.
I have recently learned that while i was unconscious in the darklands striker left our 3rd in command, Daron, in charge and stayed behind to ensure my safety.
A rogue band of tribesmen have assaulted us just before we stopped for the night. They were dispatched quickly,though we were much more badly bruised and battered than anyone expected. The others apparently see these Pine tribesmen as ‘savages’ and i guess from a human standpoint that must mean they are inferior fighters. I find it amazing that they have this opinion of ‘un- civilized’ beings when they have been fighting and dying against the orrish for thousands of years, and those creatures are the epitome of savages.
We have dropped off the package and retrieved the hostage. Though it was explained that we were attacked first, the tribes leaders are not pleased with the death of their kinsmen. Striker used this period of rest and negotiations to convince/bribe the guide to take us all the way through the wylds. Chance is very adamant that Striker should request his help with these negotiations, but refuses to let me offer his services until Striker asks for them.
We leave the Tribesmen and very quickly realize we are being followed. The guide spends much time hiding our trail and keeping us from being overtaken before we can leave the territory. He proves expert in his craft and we avoid the band.
By some miracle or stroke of luck the band following us caught us at the very edge of their territory. we could even see a semblance of a road in the distance. Striker was drawn off by 2 scouts who baited him away from us. Daron rushed those who attacked us from behind. The rest of us set up a line while Calin fired shot after shot into a concealed figure in the woods. Within seconds the figure in the woods disappeared and what was obviously a magical suppression went with him. 3 men, one who was obviously superior to us in combat, surrounded Daron. He fought valiantly,slaying 2 and wounding the last, but the superior skill and vicious tenacity of the tribal warrior rendered Daron a sliced, poisoned, and generally thrashed pile of chain and flesh. Meanwhile our front line struggled. We were onset and held by these ferocious warriors, 2 of whom flanked us and embarrassed Calin within seconds. Saleh intimidated them with use of his magic for a short while,and was forced to run when they overcame their fear. Light Fighter struggled to get behind the enemy, and was hit from behind himself when those who dropped Daron joined the fray. Light Fighter dropped. I Tried to push past my opponents, but was forced to focus my attention on staying alive while 2 archers attempted to shoot my side when i blocked the assaults from those in front of me. My comrades were falling, we were out flanked and being annihilated… we were going to die. From my peripheral i saw Jummy wharf. Panicked and trembling he blocked a blow with his club, causing the weapon to snap. He stared at his weapon handle and then hurled it at the face of the man in front of him. the man dropped like an unbelted loincloth. JImmy then lunged forward and cold-cocked on of the attackers on me. The skilled tribesmen rushed jimmies back, but was stabbed from behind when Light fighter sat up and buried and odd blade into his back. What happened next cannot be placed in these annals, butI will document elsewhere so there is witness to the atrocity. With the tides starting to turn to our favor I attacked my last opponent, and without realizing it relinquished control of my left arm to Lucky, who kept my shield in position to defend against the archers. We collapsed on the remaining enemies, causing the archers to run away. I quickly ensured that Calin was not going to die, then rushed to Daron. I nearly lost him, his wounds and the poison in him too much for my skills,but the combined effects of my medical skills, the salves in my pack, the benevolent touch of Vees’tuul placed upon Daron, and my fervent prayers to the Lord under the Mountain, he was stabilized. Looking at his wounds and what he did to the 3 he faced, i realized that Daron was the hardest human i’ve ever met. He could put Ducateon warrior caste to shame with his resilience and devotion to the group. I did not realize humans were capable of self-sacrifice for the sake of the group. Once that was finished I patched the others wounds. Thankfully no one was hurt as badly as Daron,and we were able to continue on, just as Striker returned bloody but unharmed. Not even his armor was scratched.
When asked about his combat Striker simply stated “it’s the same as always,any time i get near enemies they die!”
Frozen Trek: Part IV
Entry 11, 1 year and 1 month of Guild Duty
As written by Risk- Field Physician
We have stopped at a few other settlements since out final run in with the Wyldmen. Nothing huge, but enough to re-supply and to slowly adjust to the ever dropping temperature. Snow is frequent now.
Before making it to the blood river we were assaulted by a ghoul and a few animations. They must have thought we would be easier prey, between our gifts from Bug eyes and Strikers experience with the undead we made short work of them. Even the Ghoul was less threatening than it should have been. Striker is concerned that the undead were this deep into human territory. Apparently they are NEVER south of the river.
An undead hunter of the church of Merkaine has apparently been waiting for us to arrive. He seems to revere Striker and was sent to protect/ escort him. He has 2 companions, one a common enough soldier while the other is clearly a young umbakian, though his white hair makes him seem much older. We Learn nothing of the umbakian, but it turns out the undead hunter is an Exilion. Only striker seems to understand what that truly means, and is very closed mouthed about what he knows.
With the arrival of the exilion Striker decides to go into the altain mountains to petition the Church of Merkaine for some assistance with our travels. He speaks of healing and provisions i believe.
The journey into the mountains grows even colder, but much of the chill fades as we draw upon the Holy ground of the church. The goddess of Fire is clearly present. Though her followers are not. It is not until we are nearly to the door steps that we see fallen bodies across the church yard, both those of the church and those that were clearly undead or animations. The front door is barred and no one responds to us banging on the thick, metal- bound wood.
Movement is noticed around the south side of the building and we advance in formation around the corner. The sight we see is quite horrifying. A line of ghouls backed by 3 skeletons atop what look to be zombie horses. In the very back a chain armored figure with his hands raised, pulling darkness to him. Both lines react with a semblance of professionalism (there’s a bit more so) and the clash begins.
Calin looses 4 arrows in rapid succession, firing through 2 lines of combat to bury head and shaft into the chest of the armored figure. Though trying to stay covered by the zombie cavalry, he drops in moments, spitting curses and blood at Calin. The darkness in his hands flashes and seems to enter the bodies of the undead. The front line is hard pressed as the ghouls seem to grow twice as strong, thrashing and biting, even chewing through armor. Daron is on the end of the line, holding off 3 ghouls on his own. Striker and The Exilion Taume hold the center while i hold the end next to the church. The line of ghouls is held back, some even dying, but after firing a wave of crossbows the mounted skeletons roll our flank, using their speed to dive into our back ranks and scatter the lights and supports. I could have sworn i heard one of them scream that the front line was useless, but i was busy with the ghouls in front of me so i’m not sure.
The screams and panic from the back line continued, and with a few quick glances i could see my allies being scattered and falling quickly. A couple of them were scrambling to draw attention to themselves so the others could live, but none were prepared or trained to take on mounted opponents, let alone mounted undead augmented by some unholy power. The ghouls in front of us started dropping, unable to stand toe to toe with the combined powers of light and fire. Daron was killing them in nearly one blow each, the light from his bond with Ves”Tuul causing the undead to shriek with pain. Taume and Striker were striking in conjunction, causing the ghouls to drop writhing with flames consuming their bodies. I simply refused to get bit by shoving my shield into the ghouls mouth. With the front line dropped, we rounded o the mounted skeletons. I quickly began dragging fallen comrades out of harm’s way. The Others rushed as on unit, systematically dropping what was left of the undead.
The battle over i tended to the wounded, while the others convinced those in the church that the threat was gone. From what i gather this church has NEVER been assaulted this heavily before. It does not bode well. Nearly all of us were hurt, aside from myself, striker and Calin. It seems once the line was compromised he ran behind the others, and they did what they could to stop the undead from reaching him. Light Fighter and Fudashi were nothing but wounds it seemed, the Umbakian and his companion little better. I tried to help Saleh but he doesn’t seem to trust me after my little joke the last time we were attacked by ghouls. I had told him he was infected and we’d have to cut his leg off…. he believed me and panicked. It took a while to calm him down, and now he doesn’t trust me. Lucky thinks it’s hilarious.
While i patched the others Calin and Daron had some kind of dispute. Daron was trying to put the chainmail from what i assume had been the leader of the undead onto the pack mule. Calin asked him what he was doing. Daron said to him ‘how else am i supposed to repair my armor?’. In response to this Calin informed Daron that the items on the armored figure belonged to him. Daron asked him why he thought that and Calins reasoning was that he’d killed the man so all the stuff was his as trophies. Daron was confused and refused to accept that. Striker was called in as an arbitrator and informed the two that even though Quartermaster wasn’t here all gear would still be treated as it always had. It goes with all the party gear and that’s that. Daron didn’t argue but refused to touch anything. Calin said to him as he walked away “you’d better watch your back!”. Daron turned around and asked him what he meant by that “That’s what you want the armor for isn’t it? To watch you back for you?” Nobody missed what he meant. I later spoke to Daron to see if he was going to do anything rash. His response was that regardless of Calins ill wishes towards him, he would not violate his own oaths by turning on a comrade. Even if it’s the death of him, he will still defend Calin with his life. Kind of a weird one that Daron…… Most would have just let the next ghoul get through the line…. Different approaches to life i suppose.
The church was thankful for the assistance, but refused to apologize for not opening the doors when Striker pounded on them. They explained that they had been assaulted for days and that the undead had tried everything to get in. Striker seemed to take this as a personal offense and did not do well with the church representatives. They healed us all, fed us, gave us some healing potions and provisions, and herded us out the door.
In Thurlow we repaired armor and took a needed rest. A grollen from the northern tribes met us there and is going to show us the way to his people. Shortly before we left Saleh disappeared, i assume the multiple scrapes with undead were too much for him. Along with that news we heard rumors that the Church of Merkaine had been robbed, that the offering box had been pilfered. Striker and some of the others suspect Fudashi… I have to wonder if Salehs sudden disappearance is related.
We set out and were almost immediately halted by a blizzard. 3 days buried in the snow.
Shortly after the blizzard we came across a pilgrimage of the church of Aerina being beset by undead. We rushed into help, Taume screamed out “VAMPIRE!”, causing many of us to grow uneasy. We saved the Pilgrims but the undead ran off, taking 3 children with them.
We made it to a grollen out post, escorting the remainder of the pilgrimage. Waiting for us there was a message that we assumed was from the vampire. He claimed that the leader of the pilgrimage had something he wanted, and that if it was not returned he would kill and animate a child per day. Dire news, and something the party does not take well.
What in the name of Aerinas cunt does a follower of the PACIFIST goddess have that a vampire would want that badly?
Frozen Trek: Part V
Entry 12: 1 year and 1 month of guild duty
As written by Risk; Field Physician
It turns out that the item the vampire wants is an ancient artifact of Dejurdith, from before he was enslaved by the Lich Kings. Nobody knows what it does, but it was apparently used in every notable raid of the undead into the civilized lands. Some theorize it was responsible for the fall of Dundaria. The leader of the pilgrimage explains this to Striker and the Grollens.
The object was captured long ago and rather than keeping it in a fortress it was kept in a church of Aerina, where its presence could not be sensed by any undead or magic. Hiding in plain sight as it were…… The object has become a status symbol, those guarding it being known as the “spine of the north”. Apparently this has become a big deal. With the Grollen tribes in civil war the undead have grown bold, and this pilgrimage set out to give the artifact and therefore the title to the Grollens, if they promised to end their feuds and return to guarding against the undead. With it leaving the church, apparently the vampire we ran into sensed it and set out to take it for himself.
Chance knows something of the Artifact, but refuses to tell me. Both he and Lucky have taken to this of late. They withhold information until they can use it to bargain with me for control of our body. I think they are searching for cracks in the protection Ves’Tuul gave me…. they both are impatient for bodies of their own.
The Grollens take the artifact, our guide claiming that his brother is the rightful heir to the chiefdom and therefore the artifact is his to protect. the other grollens back him.
Striker seems not to care, stating that he would not trade the artifact for the children anyways. As much as it pains him, the entire north is not worth 3 children. He says he came to help our guides brother unify his tribe, and he must see that done for the good of the north and his word. Light fighter, Calin, and Taume all agree with him. Light fighter (light), seems reluctant, but it is obvious he is reluctant to face ANY undead, let alone a vampire, without striker. Jimmy Wharf is conflicted…. but not enough to contradict his superior officer.
Daron declares that he WILL save the children, and he will annihilate this vampire to do so. Fudashi says that he would rather negotiate, but he agrees that the children MUST be saved. apparently even that scoundrel has some morality. I say nothing, but I agree with both of them to an extent. Striker says that any who wish to leave may, but that he and the rest of the guild members will be finishing the mission.
I speak with Fudashi and Daron. Negotiation is out of the question, and 3 of us cannot hope to kill a vampire and whoever else he has following him. Long into the night we discuss our strategy, and before the others awake to head further north, we were gone.
I was able to convince the Grollens to give me the box the artifact was stored in, and upon grabbing my pack i saw a note and 4 bottles filled with orange and red liquid. The note was from Taume, telling me what the substances could be used for. Apparently he wished to go with us, but was oath bound to follow ‘the burning wolf’.
It’s a suicide Mission, but we know what we must do. Darons militaristic mind proves to be a valuable tool. We engage in EVERY trick we can possibly muster, and are thankful for what resources we’ve been given, particularly the rings and amulet from Bugeyes.
Fudashi serves as bait, lit up with my light spells holding the box. We Chose to attack at night. Between Darons Light attacks and my night vision we felt we could maintain equal footing with the undead while keeping them from expecting attack. Who is idiotic enough to attack undead at night?
An average looking man approaches Fudashi. Words are exchanged. From the hilltop Daron and I see Fudashi drop to his knees to grab the chests lid. We unload a barrage of crossbow shots into the man. Assuming that it is the vampire or at least some form of undead, Daron infuses his bolts with True-light. The man, obviously the vampire now, screams in pain as the light explodes in him. He back peddles and begins chanting and forming handsigns. MAGIC! We never expected a vampire with knowledge of the occult……
Fudashi runs and disappears in the snow. Daron and I rush down the hill, and 3 ghouls rush from a snow drift to protect the vampire.
We blow past the ghouls in a mighty charge, invoking every ounce of skill and mystical power we have to smite the vampire, who has obviously imbued himself and the other undead with obscene amounts of mystical power. I can only assume he burned Vitae to cast his spells faster, possibly using even more to augment what spells he did cast. Despite his shields, Darons great sword, imbued with inspiration from Ves’Tuul and True-light, cleaves through the vampires collarbone and through its heart and chest, leaving its left arm and shoulder barely attached. My own blow caught the monster in an uppercut fashion, slicing through its belly and nearly severing the spine. Despite the ungodly resilience and magical shielding of the beast, it rattled a death shriek and collapsed. Unfortunately he’d had time to imbue armoring shields and additional strength to his comrades.
With our backs to the ghouls, we could not stop them from latching onto us and ripping armor and flesh with their teeth as though both were softer than veal. Screaming in pain, the both of us turned. I did everything i could to occupy 2 of them, and landed what attacks i could, even using my sword to defend when i had stopped the first with my shield, burying the blade in the creature’s mouth, only to see it crack as the filthy beast bit down on it. The 3rd attacked Daron, ignoring my attempts to draw its attention. Ignoring the savage bites and slashes to his person Daron attacked all out, throwing blow after blow with his 2 handed sword, seeming to only care to strike as fast as he could, and not concerning himself with accuracy. Just as well, it doesn’t matter where you strike a ghoul, they cant feel it anyways. His opponent fell, slashed 3 times by Daron and stabbed once by myself.
Behind us Fudashi snuck into the snow cavern we believed the children to be hiding in. He encountered 4 zombies and was re-buffed by them, unable to kill them all. as he fled he noticed they would not leave the cavern. Seeing this he decided to help Daron and I. Brave fool….He ran behind one of the remaining ghouls, and buried his 2 small blades into it back. The creature, enraged, lunged at me for what would have been the killing blow, but at the last second turned around and buried its teeth into Fudashis throat. The attack was so savage it nearly beheaded Fudashi…… I cannot repair arteries, or windpipes….. or spinal columns……. Fudashi was dead before he even realized he’d been attacked.
The creatures back to us Daron and i both cleaved large amounts of undead flesh from its flank. The 2 ghouls both attacked, lunging for my throat. I shoved my shield into the mouth of one, and in a blind shot of faith thrust my sword directly into the mouth of the other. Snarling and desperate to kill the creature bit down on my sword, breaking the already damaged blade, the majority of the steel stuck in its throat.
Daron decapitated the ghoul trying to chew through my shield, and tried to end the other as well. It dodged his attack and grasped for his throat. I threw myself in the way, taking a vicious knock to the head. I could feel blood and what felt like brain matter splattering as my skull was crushed. Daron swung madly, screaming, blood from his wounds making his chain mail seem to be glowing red. Madly rushing the beast he let his helmet absorb a blow and seemed to ignore a thrust to his stomach through sheer force of will as he cleaved downwards, nearly splitting the body of his foe in two.
I watched from the ground as this happened, confident that my wounds would bleed out and that i would die shortly. Thankfully there was no pain. Daron dug out the 2 healing potions from my pouch and forced them down my throat. I have warned the group not to use potion to stabilize a comrade…. but apparently he didn’t trust his own medical skills to stabilize me. I could feel my skull repairing itself, and took in a deep shuddering breath, just before my heart stopped. Panicked Daron slammed on my chest, trying to get my heart restarted after the shock of such rapid healing. Somehow i pulled through.
Daron insisted we finish the job, and we rushed the zombies. Me tackling 2 of them and holding them down for Daron to kill, while he made VERY short work of his 2. Compared to the ghouls and vampire, zombies are nothing.
We gathered the children together, Fudashis remains, and what little supply’s there were, and got ready to set out. We burned the remains of the undead, lest they return, but Fudashi would be given a proper burial and last rites.
Personal Journal Of Risk (Sandvitz Latson)
Section V of Frozen Trek- Prior to the assault of the Vampire
Written in Dukat with every 3rd word in Gladnorean and every 6th in Valdasean
All things must come to the light eventually, let this be how our sins are discovered. Should I perish this Journal will be passed on to the current leader of our band. (The talents of Chance and Lucky have assured this) Our victory over the vampire in the frozen north was not so simple as it seems. Our sins are laid bare in the following pages….
We knew it was a suicide mission, but we were willing to do anything to save the children. Long ago when we exited the fiend manse of the Lady De’Wynther Chance had a small scroll slipped into his pocket. He had been unable to identify it but with the help of some research after his entombment in my mind we deciphered it.
The scroll allowed a individual to bind a very powerful being in a manner that forced them to grant a favor, so long as you bargained. The bargain was one of unequal exchange, favoring he who invoked of the scroll. I was reluctant to tell the party of this for over a year due to it’s source, but as I said: we were desperate to save the children.
Fudashi and Daron both understood the risks and my reluctance, but decided that the scroll should be used. Chance and Lucky were thrilled, and for once offered only helpful assistance.
The ritual complete, the scroll activated, we experienced a cloud of smoke that revealed a baboon who spoke to us directly. He called us by many obscure names, some of them seeming almost poetic to our natures and personalities, and accused us of abandoning the wits our parents gave us. He said that as a price we would go on trial for our crime of foolishness.
We were transported to a courtroom, where an orca whale sat as judge, but was not suffering out of the water. The prosecutor was a badger sporting rimmed glasses and our defense attorney was a suited duck billed platypus . The Jury consisted of all those who had been killed because of and despite our efforts, while the witnesses called were everyone we’d wronged and ourselves.
The badger manipulated us well, making fools of us at the stand. Our defense attorneys sympathy based case stood no chance. We were found guilty, and punished to suffer the wrath of our own foolish decisions for a year to come. While the punishment may not seem severe, I could feel my mind being pressed and weighed down…… I cannot think quite as clearly, and even the others seem slower than I thought possible.
Our price paid, the baboon granted us the favor asked, which was to be able to hide from the undead. He gifted us with a bottle that was labeled oddly. It was supposedly made by “Malek Bottle Works INC”. It also said other things such as “Guaranteed to cure all that ails you! (Except Chronic Itis)” and “More fun than a Missouri boat ride!” followed by “ Packed full of BOOM BOOM!…. Your not afraid of a little BOOM BOOM are you?”
We utilized this bottle several times (about 7 total) in our encounter with the vampire. It holds up to our request, it hides us from undead, as well as all other forms of visual detection. It also seems to heal virtually any wounds over the course of 24 hours….. But it is powered by entropy. Imbibing this drought exposes you to the chaotic effects of all probability.
We suffered very little thankfully. Though I can now materialize a scale skin that is snake-ish in nature and offers more protection than leather, and Daron has developed a strange strength enhancing mutation himself…… there are undoubtedly other effects we are unaware of. Malek’s schemes are always convoluted.
After all of this….. I’m Hungry. I hope there is plenty of meat at camp……
Frozen Trek: Part VI-Final Chapter
Entry 12: 1 year and 1 month of guild duty
As written by Risk; Field Physician
Those of us who Left in the night are warned by striker that failure to communicate will result in people being sent away from the group. No one argues.
The group is somber from the news of Fudashis’ death, but at this point it seems losing comrades is a blow we’ve grown callused to.
Meeting with the Grollens we learn that the combination of a foreign Grollen and a necromancer have wrested control of the tribes form the rightful chiefs. The magus uses his arts to create zombies from the fallen grollens, a severe offense in the Grollens eyes. Should one or preferably both of them fall then this could be rectified.
We convince the leader of the ‘rebel’ grollens to act as bait for the targets, while we pose as adventurers and mercenaries out for a reward. We also decide to use the artifact from the pilgrimage to further entice the Magus, though we only bring the box, leaving the artifact itself behind.
Striker sets out to deliver the word of our ‘prisoner’ to the false chief. It goes rather well and he agrees to meet with us.
When the false chief and the magus arrive we are in place on a bluff overlooking the meet point, ready to ambush them. There is much haggling over the reward, but it all serves as a distraction while we assault them.
Combat ensues, arrows from the rebel grollens flying, and our party wading into the middle of the false chiefs entourage. Spells fly, shades appear, and even an elf is in the fray against us. We never did learn why.
We prove victorious, though it turned out that the entire scheme was the work of the Necromancer, who had been animating the and controlling the body of the Grollen chief. It certainly explains why a Grollen tolerated his own kind being animated and turned against the Rebellion.
The body of the elf decayed quickly, the soul gem nowhere to be found, this disturbs the party.
The loot from the ‘bounty’ is divided between us and the rebel grollens.
There is some question as to the home of the Necromancer, but after much deliberation about the risk vs the rewards, we decide not to loot it. Many of us just want to return home.
We begin the trek back to the grollen camp, and it becomes apparent that a dream is becoming recurring the party: a dream of a dice-eyed primate shaking a dice cup and offering it to us with a grin. Everyone refused the cup so far it seems.
On the last night with the grollens, after a hefty celebration we all have the same dream, but this time together and the creature (Later identified as a chimpanzee…. some strain of monkey I guess) rolls the dice.
The dream world changes, becoming an impossible landscape, terrains from all ends of the realms merged together in a chaotic mountainous bowl.
The chimp speaks, seeming to insinuate that he is HELPING us, but he is very confusing and laughing a lot. After much deliberation it is made clear that we will have to play the creatures game if we ever wish to return to our world.
6 patrons of the realm are ailed by some form of chaos, and we are to alleviate them of it in any manner we can. Every interaction in this realm results in chaotic effect, ranging from the energies of radiance, shadow, elemental effects, entropy, chaos…. virtually any possibility in the dimensions.
The patrons have us perform errands or take on the effects of their personal chaos, each time we do so creating a chance of ‘appeasing’ them. The patrons are as follows
a ducateon smith
An elven entertainer
a human silversmith
a human barkeep
a human mayor
a humanoid rarity’s collector
We do not escape completely unscathed in appeasing any of these patrons, though some benefits are gained through purchases, trades, and odd effects of the realms. The details of this are the domain of those affected: their stories of gains and losses are their own to keep or share.
On particular gain is the masterpiece of the smith, dredged up from the depths of a lake AFTER we had appeased him. He declared that our willingness to return it to him for no gain was a sign that we may be the best hands to bestow it to…. though it is wrapped in mystical chains that refuse to break. The ducateon seems to be under a mystical constraint that keeps him from giving us ANY details on it, though another creature of the realm reveals to us that Malek, The ducateon, Ikrubu, Everdark, and Kalek (????) are the only ones who know the details of this weapon and its chains.
The world slowly dissipates…. and we awake in the barracks at home, the guild hall…. thousands of miles from where we has fallen asleep.
Personal Journal Of Risk (Sandvitz Latson)
Section VI of Frozen Trek- During and after the assault of the Grollen usurper
Written in Dukat with every 2nd word in Gladnorean and every 5h in Valdasean
Daron and I are sharing dreams of this ‘Chimpanzee’ nightly. I fear it is a byproduct of the entropy potion or the pact with Malek we made. We did not inform the party of this, only of the dreams themselves. I am very concerned that this is a aspect of malek that we have gathered the attentions of. We did witness others in the party accepting the dice cup…. resulting in us being pulled into the dream world or pocket dimension… whatever it was. Even Chance and Lucky are confused about this. Excited, but confused.
The Ducateon smith is Kayle Rockheart…. the crafter aspect of HIM, the lord under the mountain… and my god. He greeted me as his child and requested that I not tell the party who he was until our paths had parted. Whatever his masterpiece is, if we ever unbind it, I cannot allow it to be shamed. My oaths to my brothers and comrades may be at odds in the future.
My hunger grows and we have learned why. I am infected, slowly turning into a ghoul, only made worse by my time in the chaotic dreamworld. My only chance of surviving long enough to be healed of this taint is to avoid feeding. Chance has no urge to feed…. it is drastic but I must grant him full control of my body for the time being.
Guild Consolidation: Part I-Return home
Entry 13: 1 year and 2 months of guild duty
As written by Chance- Company Arcanist Master, Objective overseer, Vision director and Orator extraordinaire- because Risk wouldn’t shut up if I didn’t do this.
The party proves unaware of my awesome efforts to transport us home in such a rapid manner, but alas it is but one of my many accomplishments that will fade away in my everlasting humility.
Risk has seen the wisdom of giving me free reign of our host body so that the party may benefit of my brilliance, and it has the fringe benefit of staying the lust for human flesh that has risen within him. For some reason the party is upset by this, I suspect they are only concerned that my host body will wither despite our efforts and they will lose the assets I provide.
We are received with the honors that are our dues, being risen to the status of banner-men of the guild. Striker and some of the others are apparently unaware of the great fortune that has been bestowed upon us… the bliss of ignorance I suppose….
Risk is displeased with my method of writing “Ruining his annals”…. Shut up fool, your uncultured mind simply can’t grasp what I bring to these pages…. No i’m not going to stop, you wanted it done I’m doing it MY way…. dick
We have been given many tasks that the guild knows they cannot handle as well as us.
The first I stand witness to proves a great success as Jimmy Warph and I reveal to the Wagon wright’s the wisdom of accepting the guilds patronage, and with only a slight show of superiority being necessary. Yes Risk, a single beating and a broken knee IS a slight show of force compared to what we could have done. I could have killed them all you know…..
Many other demonstrations are completed, and we proceed to consolidate the roots of the guild with all the Valor and Wisdom of the heroes we are.
Within 4 days we have completed nearly every task given to us, securing the home of the Lady Tha’Vynth, ensuring the arrival of important deliveries and quelling misguided resistance. The people of the city will soon thank us for our wondrous efforts.
The tunnels are teeming with the efforts of fools who seek to take the Guilds hidden treasures…. more investigation will prove necessary.
Daron has become some pawn of the Guild….. apparently the show of gifts and honors has blinded him to reality. We must remind him of the benefits of following our council above all others.
An old comrade, Sin Enish, has rejoined us, proving quite adept at accomplishing the tasks set before us. No risk he is not overzealous, he recognizes what is necessary for the greater good….
Fairheart seems to recognize what a great asset we are and has honored us as is our due.
A great harvest feast approaches, I must prepare so we can present the best face possible. The children of the orphanage prove quite insightful of the goings on of the city. Such wonderful helpers they are.
The date approaches, I am confident all will go well.
No risk I don’t need to add any more, I got everything that matters…. honestly you’d think I was doing this for myself instead of at your insistence…..
Personal Journal Of Risk (Sandvitz Latson)
Section I of Guild Consolidation- During Chances butcher of the Annals
Written in Dukat with every 4th word in Gladnorean and every 2nd in Valdasean
I grow weary of chances antics…. but there is no other option. So long as I remain within the confines of my own mind I cannot accelerate my turning by eating the flesh of the sentient… though my body still requires obscene quantities of food.
The end goals of the guild seem benevolent, though I have little faith in the results as our methods are…. disreputable.
Striker has become a full officer, lieutenant of the banner men. Against my wishes I have been raised to 2cnd lieutenant… striker has made clear that he wishes to see my issues with turning and my brothers resolved in short order….. drastic measures may need to be taken.
I have hidden away an object of unique power… I may be able to separate myself from my brothers with it… but I need more tools at my disposal or I may lose them forever.
There is talk of a Guild hoard of magical tools and artifacts….. I am intrigued and believe this may be exactly what I need. I will not share this with Chance or Lucky…. between Luckys’ new developed madness and Chances manipulative nature I do not want them scheming in this regard.
When the time comes….. I will take my body back, and resolve my many curses in one stroke……
Personal Journal Of Striker
Section I of Guild Consolidation- During the return to the guild
I awoke this morning to find myself in my quarters at the Handyman’s guild. It seems strange
because I have no recollection of the long trip south I must have taken to return here. I may have
just been so fatigued or it may be some strange dream. I have decided to just roll with whatever
happens next. Time always seems to sort out the strangeness of my life.
Day 1 at the guild:
I am summoned to Master Stone, the current speaker for the guild council. He has requested we
all take the banner man’s oath to the guild. *I am leery of taking any oath, they always seem to
have some sort of backlash you were unable to control of and my word is very important to me,
after all the only thing a man truly has to give is his word and if your word is meaningless so is
the man. I am cautious of Master Stone’s request, he has been known to be ambitious. I believe
him to be sincere in his concern for the people of this realm. They have allowed slavery to be the
norm here which I don’t agree with but I have learned that sometimes it is best not to rock the
boat when it comes to customs of the realm.* Master Stone would like our group and those who
would like to join to quickly resolve some guild issues. *I feel this is a good move between our
reputation and our physical presence will shake up the area and then he can return us to the field
and away from the immediate political situation. I hope he will at least, the backbiting that
happens when nobles wrestle for power is most dangerous for the rank and file.* I have agreed to
help but need a day to decide about the oath.
Next I have requested an audience with Lord Fairheart about the goals of him and Master Stone.
* I believe Fairheart to be generally a fair man from our last interaction with his family. His story
seems to backup Master Stone’s story. Best guess they are telling the truth about their
motivations, to put more free men to work and allow a man to work his way into the noble class
if one is so inclined to.*
Seeking the advice of quartermaster about the overall politics of the city and find out his feelings
on why he chose to take the oath when it seems most who take it are more loyal to Master Stone
than they seem to be to the guild. * I am not sure how that will pan out in the long run but Stone
did say he would step down from the council after some time. I really hate intrigue.*
Quartermaster and I agree we need to hash out how to deal with the spoils of our conquests more
efficiently when our group is separated. *I learned from the quarrel over a damn chainmail shirt
by members of my own group that we need an established system.* We also discussed the men
need a regular stipend to do as they want. *Several feel like they have to beg for coin from
quartermaster. He does come across as a bit tight with money but so has every other man I have
ever dealt with doing that job.*
I have taken Master Stones request back to the group, everyone seems to agree the benefits of
being a banner man is worth the 50% tithe to the guild. They are all willing to take the oath.
Returning to Master Stone I negotiated that we pay 55% tithe and keep first pick of weapons and
equipment we find. I also expressed that the healing allotment to banner man was not enough. He
agreed to the 55% but held some control on rare artifacts and understood my concern on healing
and has reassured me it will not be a major point of concern the men will be well cared for. *our
trade has a tendency to take a heavy toll on the body*
I am going to talk a couple of men and speak with the head of the so called police force the guild
has contracted. The contract is up for negotiation. After some investigation I understand that the
police are concerned about some sort of retirement for those that live that long. * as with all
soldiers they will not save for their own future so if I can sell them on a vested stipend program I
should be able to fund it at least partially by reducing their inflated wage. If I give the top cadre a
“bonus” they will keep the beat cops in line without impacting the guild.* I am glad they have
agreed to my plan *even though they will feel a bit blindsided by the reduced pay. *
We are to attend a ceremony for an official oath taking. *seems like such a pain in the arse to
make this crap public*
*I need to handle Fenril carefully. He has it in for our group and still has some amount of power
or the guild would not be pushing him to retire while he is still capable of his duties. I will try
just asking him despite some suggestions to kidnap him and retire him forcibly. * The meeting
with Fenril was unproductive. He will not be persuaded to retire peacefully. I have decided to let
the boys to encourage him in their own way. * I hope this will work or I may have to burn down
his office or threaten his family, such dirty business strong arming people I don’t like it.*
I have met with the old women concerned with their healthcare portion. We a have come to an
agreement of a reduction in their stipend to 8 silver and a regular delivery of opium for their
Several other items on Master Stone’s list of objectives have been accomplished by other
members of our group. Things are going well *it worries me that things are going to easy.*
We are to attend a dinner at Lord Fairheart’s manor. *Everyone looks sharp even though they
were not told to do so. They really are a good company of men, most of them.* it appears we are
the show at this dog and pony show. The Lords son chooses to dual with one of my better swords
men a mistake for sure nearly getting his leg severed over a foolish game. He did fairly well to
start with. *I am reminded of a feral cat paying with a poor mouse when I was young. My men
are dangerous and great control is not required to be a good agent of death. I am glad the boy
will recover.* I stepped out to the latrine and return to the Lord trying his hand at the dual. * It is
too late to stop and nobles don’t like to be told not to do things anyway. But damn this could be
the end of the entire group in the hands of a youngster could my luck be any worse. I shall cover
my eyes and pray.* Oh the Lord has been run through the arm *it could have been worse I
suppose.* I will be glad for the end of this night.
This morning I am going to let off some frustration in the name of the guild and make an
example of several known criminals. * I feel a little guilty about enjoying thrashing these
Fenril has announced his retirement. * I am not sure I want to know how his evening went. He
looks a little bruised and a few of my men look oddly sheepish one even looks like a damn
I will spend my afternoon resolving a few insurance claims. * I think this is my favorite part of
my job. Making people happy.*
I have been asked by Master Stone to tone down our enthusiasm of doing our jobs. * I am not
sure what he is talking about but shall inquire with the rest of my men. Something must have
gone terribly wrong, but everyone is accounted for and other than some bruises seem fine. I will
need to ask for some better details. I tend to trust my men to get their jobs done as efficiently as
possible and they do. Most of our tasks have been accomplished now, it worries me things don’t
go this well for us ever.*
Today we will split the company. The reserves will escort a merchant out of the city. And the
regulars will meet Lady Vynth’s caravan and ensure it arrives at her lodging. I have also been
informed that the residence is as secure as we can make it.
It looks to be a nice ride back into the city…a horn…*this can’t be good*…fog front and rear
*damn magus’…why are you fool stopping* thwack four arrows *shit that hurt should have
worn my scale armour* yelling at the wagons drivers to push forward and trample anything in
their way keep moving…as I emerge from the fog there is a bandit just waiting to meet
Wheiapugh at the cleave of my blade. * I need to get off the damn horse I almost missed my
mark* …as I look around for more bandits they are all dead or surrendered …* I am once again
thankful to Her for falling the enemies of my pack* we catch up to the wagons and resume our
entry into the city. * that is more to my expectations of a normal day. I am in need of a bath and
Guild Consolidation: Part II- Cleaning up
Entry 14: 1 year and 2 months of guild duty
As written by Risk- Company Annalist, Field physician, Reluctant Lieutenant
The possibility of eating my friends is a consequence I can live with more easily than watching chance desecrate the history of our party. As such, the annals are written exclusively by me.
Further tasks are being accomplished on a daily basis, the vast majority of the highest priority. It seems that the guild puts a lot of stock into the ‘Lady Tha’Vynth’, some large benefactor of the guild, though not a supporter of the guilds new direction in leadership.
The mob like procedures continue, much to my disappointment, though we have done many things to maintain the peace in our community. Every once in a while the activities of the guild remind me of the caste structure of home.
Quartermaster proves to be adept at ferreting out thieves and embezzlers within the guild members, he and some of the others put a stop to a rather large loss to the guild funds.
The Lady Tha’Vynths home has been swept entirely clean, with the number of scoundrels in our group scouring the place for weak points in security I doubt it’s even possible for any external force to cause her harm.
We have begun the search for the missing chest of Bodkins, supposedly it holds some rather sensitive objects and information regarding the guilds founding.
We have successfully escorted the Lady Tha’Vynth to town, though not without having been ambushed. It was a VERY well executed ambush led by a Mercenary band known as the “Red Marauders”. From what we know of them they have been regularly suspected of disreputable acts but nothing has ever stuck. Us having survived this will probably lead to issues with them as we now bear truth of their treachery. (Assault on a noble is a VERY serious crime here apparently, even if it is unsuccessful)
The new recruit, Sweeps, our Groomsman, is proving to be quite the scholar. I have read much of his accounts of what has transpired and I may be relinquishing the Annalist position to him.
Personal Journal Of Risk (Sandvitz Latson)
Section II of Guild Consolidation- Just after the Harvest
Written in Dukat with every 5th word in Gladnorean and every 7th in Valdasean
Myself (Risk/Chance/Lucky), Daron, Kiel, Jimmy and the Grollen have been abducted. We were put to sleep by some means and we awoke in an underground cavern shackled to the support beams.
We tried everything we could to escape but it seemed that our captors had thought of everything. Even our shackles were custom sized, and riveted shut. Whoever this is has been studying us for some time.
Most of our captors are hooded, but one, the leader, seems to not care if we know his face. He is hunting the Amber Blade for some bounty the High King put out. He knows that Striker has it and that it is rarely out of his sight. He apparently intends on gathering what information from us he can in order to obtain it.
The Leader (Later discovered his name to be Davlik Nuemith), is only interested in money and the ability to retire in wealth. The man is impressively brilliant and nearly unfazeable. After seeing the Grollen nearly rip a man’s arm off with his teeth he very calmly gave orders to his men and set about rendering the Grollen unconscious. He then proceeded to starve us as a means of ‘encouraging’ us to talk.
The Grollen proves to be a problem, attacking anything near him and refusing to think the problem through. Food is being denied to us and in my condition I believe I will die before Davlik realizes that my eating habits are far from normal.
Apparently after I was rendered near comatose from starvation the group negotiated with Davlik for me to get food, meat even. I still am ravenous, but I am at least conscious and the risk of the ghoul in me turning feral has been diminished. It seems the Davlik has no desire to kill unless it is absolutely necessary, from what the others say he come across as having a strong sense of humanity, just a stronger desire to accomplish his goals.
Davlik has begun destroying some of our equipment that was captured with us in a further attempt to get us to cooperate. Kiels crossbow and Darons Greatsword were the first to go.
After Davlik destroyed Jimmy’s shield (the one that had saved his life several times and he had repaired rather diligently), Jimmy went a little ballistic and without thinking brought his feet up to smash Kiels hand so he could slip his shackles. While the idea to free the one who can pick locks WAS sound, doing it in front of Davlik was moronic.
Davlik looked at what Jimmy had done and I quote: “You sneaky little fucker…” was his completely un-alarmed response. He then tied our legs to stakes in the ground and drove a spike through Kiels broken hand above the shackle. Even I felt a little sorry for him.
Morale was low. In order for us to keep our sanity we took to singing Ducateon worker songs. They are comical to me, but without the context of my upbringing to make it ironic I suppose that they are a little depressing. I think Kiel has lost a piece of himself…
The last thing he destroyed was the party Med kit…. not my possession but it IS my responsibility. Within it was also hidden the only hope I have to give my brothers their lives back…..
The ghoul was awakened by my rage. My body shifted and mutated, granting me a very unnatural strength. Most of it is hazy but I destroyed my restraints and jumped on the captor who had not made it out of the room in time. I know what happened, and I am horrified by it, but I had forgotten what it was like to be full….
I freed my comrades and we gathered what we could of our stuff, and investigated the room.
We knew we were in the future sewer system, and had an idea of what section of town, but what was the most interesting were the runes hidden from all sight but not from those with manna sense. It took some time but we identified them as having something to do with time and space…. After escaping we realized what it was.
There was some kind of time dilation that cause time to progress faster in that room. While not entirely certain, it seems that for every day in real time, those within the room experience a week or so. Davlik obviously spent some serious wealth to employ a magus to do this. It is certainly useful for the use he put it to.
We fought our way out, through several waves of Davliks henchmen, nearly dying in the process. I myself suffered horrendous amounts of blood loss, and Daron fared little better. He was even using the odd ability gained from Malek’s Entropy potion, causing him to ‘hulk out’ and take on a very disproportionate muscle mass. It is hideous and unnatural, and he has not done this since we killed the vampire…..
When our captor was the only one left he tried to escape and when that failed he demanded single combat with Daron. He quite obviously knows much about us, he knew EXACTLY how to manipulate the situation to his best advantage.
Despite being seriously wounded Daron still proved the superior swordsman and Davlik elected to yield. Many in the party wished to kill him but Daron would not permit it.
Oddly enough Davlik was not sore or angry at all about his failure, though he did try to bribe us for his release. We refused. Somehow though mention of how useful his mind could be within our group was brought up and he seemed shocked for the 1st time since we met him. He asked if we would seriously consider accepting him as a comrade. It seemed preposterous but we agreed to speak on his behalf to Striker provided he kept our secrets and divulged everything he knew regarding the bounty of the Amber blade. He even volunteered the fortune he tried to bribe us with as a donation to our party fund.
Guild Consolidation: Part III- The Feast
Entry 15: 1 year and 2 months of guild duty
As written by Risk- Company Annalist, Field physician, Reluctant Lieutenant
It is morning of the 7th day since out return home. I have cared for the wounds of our party as well as I could, but we are still in no shape to handle any level of assault such as we did yesterday. It seems that the Red Marauders will wait to handle yesterday’s disgrace.
Vast quantities of preparation are taking place for the feast, the guild bustling with noise and chaos as those of every trade and station scramble around on some task or another. With only a few escort missions to handle the Banner-men are a small bit of clam order amid this storm.
The party is well groomed for this day, all of the best trappings coming out, even some extras from the guilds stores. With the help of Chance and Lucky I apply my meager skills to eliminate the worst of my odd features as one of the worker caste for a short duration.
Striker, Quartermaster, and Daron all look as though they belong to the arms-men of some noble, the guild and Faireheart taking particular care with them.
Aside from Daron and Striker nobody is armed sufficiently, the need to be presentable is that high. Striker is taking his ax refusing to acknowledge any plea that he leave it behind, and Daron is in new riveted chain tailored to him specifically, holding his helmet in the crook of his arm while the other rest upon the pommel of a dueling sword. Comryr has taken to using Daron as a showpiece for the guild, and has provided very fine gear.
There are 3 escorts we have to provide before the feast, all fairly important. The 1st is for Fairehearts’ niece, who for some reason of vanity is not arriving with her father. The 2cnd is the mayor himself, and the 3rd is Comryr, the voice of the Council. We will be technically ‘arriving’ at the feast with Comryr and remaining to represent the guild and add security detail.
The group is split to do the first two escorts since they are timed so close to one another.
The Escort for the mayor has a slight hiccup, some cut purse got the bright idea of making a grab for the Mayors purse and was chased down by Seeker. He showed an odd amount of restraint and did not kill the would -be thief.
The Escort of Fairehearts’ Niece went off quite well. There were some villainous looking types who were ready to ambush us, but they seemed to think better of it when they saw just who was providing the escort.
Unfortunately with Comryr we were assaulted by some protesters, people who seem to think that by fighting for the rights of the low class (The same class of people protesting) the guild is making things worse. Ignorance. They took pleasure in slinging rocks and refuse at us. I was sullied rather heavily, thankfully no one else in our party was.
The evening passes slowly for most of us, with nothing of note occurring, security detail is rarely exciting.
Striker is technically being social, but the way he holds himself and occasionally fondles his ax keeps all but the strongest of nerve away.
Daron is a huge hit, many surround him , though none approach. His aura of light and hope holds them in some sort of awe. Rather than being intimidated by his size and armaments, they seem overwhelmed by the very idealistic picture he creates.
Quartermaster is drug around by Faireheart from noble to noble, where he engages in many conversations. He seems to fair well enough, Faireheart looks pleased. Later Quartermaster even danced with Fairehearts eldest daughter without make too much of a fool of himself. At this point the would be merchant-king was quite obviously pondering possibilities.
Some punk kid messed with Striker, but to no noticeable effect. Later the arrogant youth had words with a local court duelist who proceeded to pick a fight with Striker, An action that nearly led to his death. Thankfully the duelist had the sense of mind to yield. Striker had me patch him up. After that the man was for some reason very wary of me.
A group of the same protesters from our trip to the feast tried to barge their way in, yelling and screaming. It took a large group of us to hold them back, and they did not disperse until the Grollen, Half orc and Half elf went somewhat savage on the crowd. That scared them so badly as to nearly start a stampede.
As this was going on Faireheart and his son were having words. These words grew loud enough that many could hear. It seems that there is some dispute of how the family should be run. Whether this was in reference to their literal family or their business I could not make out. There were some things said about the families ‘true purpose’ and the fools Faireheart chose to work with. The dispute grew until there was yelling, and the son started hurling insults that spread to us as well, particularly towards Daron.
We had to drag the young merchant out, Striker leading the way. The kid was remarkably strong and it required three of us to get him out. In this process we realized that Darons touch was burning the boy. After much deliberation and use of manna sense we found that he was wrapped in some disguised power, one that reacted quite negatively to true light…. just like the orrish and shades do. He did not calm down until quite some time later. We then escorted him to his fathers men who would take him home.
Faireheart was prepared to have Daron honor his sons challenge, even to a point of saying that his son was already dead to him. Even after he was calmed down he still gave the ok for his son to meet Daron in honorable combat. Neither Daron nor the youth declined, and it was agreed that they would meet at sunrise on the guild training grounds. Daron was chomping at the bit, knowing the youth to be a servant of darkness…. his personal codes and beliefs required him to put an end to it.
We did all we could to ensure Darons victory, those of the green church calling the blessing of nature to him, while Daron called to his own master, Ves’Tuul, for aid in smiting this evil. My own talents were available, though we already knew that Daron would permit no dishonor on the field.
When the battle ensued it was an immediate blood bath, the boy striking out with both blade and obfuscated powers of darkness, while Daron infused his blade with raw light and delivered 2 blows that ended the young villains life. The dark powers faded when the true light struck them, and we were able to find the mark of sunstealer on the boy. Faireheart will likely be more angered by his sons true allegiance than he will be by his demise.
Guild Consolidation: Part IV- Stagnation
Entry 16: 1 year and 2 months of guild duty
As written by Risk- Company Annalist, Field physician, Reluctant Lieutenant
It has now been 8 days since our return home, the rush and busyness of the 1st week makes this day seem long and dull, but unfortunately it did not stay that way. We heard that some sickness has been going around, approximately 15% of the population has come down with severe fevers and ache to a pint that they can barely move. Quartermaster is afflicted as well, and has gone to the church of light to seek healing. When he returns he looks little better, and informs us that even the church is unable to identify this disease or even do much to help without the aid of their holy powers.
Kolkrin and one of the half elves are ambushed in separate locations. The Grollen escapes with only minor wounds and what we believe to be a sprained ankle (It may be a minor fracture, I will take a closer look when he quits growling at everybody) The half elf was not so lucky, the broke his knees. Even with surgery I am unsure how well I will be able to help him.
That evening we were asked by the guilds head bartender to help him keep an eye on the liquor shipment while he gets it put away. It was during this that a few of us were kidnapped. As such the next few days are only based on what the others have told me
Day 9 The Lady Tha’Vynth demands a ‘restitution’ for goods lost. The party is asked to ‘quell’ her ire. Striker tried but leaves her estates rather rapidly and sends quartermaster to deal with her. The exact details of that exchange are not disclosed.
This day the party learned that 3 days ago Comryr Stones childhood friend was kidnapped and a ransom of 20’000 silvers was demanded. Some of the party wonder if the same people kidnapped those of us who disappeared last night.
The party provides escort for a shipment of valuable tiles of damascus and gold. This time it is not raiders or mercenaries who come after the cargo, it is beggars and starving children. Thankfully no one is hurt, and the group used fairly non-harmful methods to quell them. Little of the shipment is lost.
Striker sets the police force to searching for those of us who had gone missing and employs the children from the ‘orphanage’ founded by chance and lucky to get information about the men who assaulted our comrades. He learns that it was done by a gang known as the “Dotters”, a small organization known for their low profile knives and willingness to do any job. The members all bear a tattoo of 3 blood drops on their left hands, and on any job they do they will send only 1 or 2 actual members, and a group of hired thugs off the street. With the help of a few orphans Striker and some of the others learn where the Dotters tend to meet and get an idea of who the leader is.
Day 10 Faireheart calls on Quartermaster, supposedly to discuss his future. The locals are being disrupted rather heavily by the police forces attempts to find the kidnapped banner-men.
Striker goes to great lengths to get noticed by someone of note within the Dotters. The conversation does not go over well, with the suspected leader of the Dotters walking away in frustration.
Day 11 Rumors of attacks coming from the tunnels at night are circulating.
Quartermasters fever breaks and he is the 1st awake to see Myself, Daron, Kolkrin, Kiel, and Jimmy return to the guild hall. It takes a while but eventually we tell the whole party what occurred., describing our kidnapping and torture, and our captors desire to collect the high kings bounty on the Amber Blade. Our captive, Davlik, we inform striker, was the one who had been hired to come up with the plan. He has an interest in joining us, Daron and I mention that he would be an excellent addition to the group. Striker throws him in the guild jail house.
Comryr suggests that we investigate the tunnels more thoroughly. Striker informs him that he will not do it and tries to convince Comryr to use his influence to get the city to take care of it with the militia. He uses the reason that we are too understaffed to undergo this venture.
Day 12 A local man is ruthlessly beaten in front of the guild house for standing up for the guild against a group of protesters. This and rumors of a group of newly founded eastern merchants are spoken of at length in the mess halls.
We do little this day. We learn that the city has no real militia to speak of, most of the ‘soldiers’ being the nobles personal arms men. None of them are willing to leave their estates unprotected to have some sewers investigated. (Particularly since they don’t want the sewers finished to begin with)
Day 13 Faireheart requests the party investigate a tunnel just in case (Potentially the old guild house magic cove). He wants to have it sealed off so no one can even attempt to access it from underground. Striker refuses again, insisting that this is the city’s responsibility and that he is not going to send his men on a suicide mission when we do not have the resources to properly investigate underground. Even I have a hard time not laughing at that.
Day 14 A large chunk of tunnels collapses, damaging several houses. The party is asked to aid and police force. Some of us help keep the populace back, while the rest of us aid in excavating those trapped in the rubble. Most assume that this was a construction accident or an attempt to sabotage the sewer project. I find signs of the void worms from the tunnels…..
The city decides to hire mercenaries to handle the sewer investigation. The Guild is under heavy disapproval for not taking care of what is seen as our problem. Our party suffers quite a bit of scorn from the people, and even our fellow Guild members have taken to calling us cowards who won’t do our job.
Day 15 A warning is issued to the party again, this time as the head of one of the party members horses in their sleeping area. In the heads mouth is a letter reading simply “you have 24 hours to leave” Striker is on the warpath, he seems ready to go into the Dotters territory and wipe them out. I’m not sure if he will follow through on that urge or not though.
We make no action today, as we have some escorts to perform for some guild craftsmen. These occur without any severe issues.
Quartermaster receives a discreet letter from Faireheart.
Guild Consolidation: Part V- Into the depths
Entry 17: 1 year and 2 months of guild duty
As written by Risk- Company Annalist, Field physician, Reluctant Lieutenant
The morning of the 16th day since our return sees us in the office of Comryr. The expert of Divination he’d hired has confirmed that the chest of Bodkin is underground, and within the limits of the city. This confirms our suspicions that it must be within the tunnels that have been connecting to the sewer project.
With Strikers insistence that Comryr get someone else to clear the tunnels another issue has risen. The Red Marauders have been hired to complete the job, and with the evidence we have of their disreputable actions they are the last people we would want stumbling onto that chest.
We now know that the Guild has been trying to hide much of its founding fathers actions and secrets. The worst of this being a store room that the founders had filled with the objects and knowledge that even THEY didn’t want to deal with. I’ve read some of the journals of the original handymen, and anything they thought was wrong touches on evils that scare even Chance and Lucky.
It is decided that we will tread the dangers of the tunnels and get the chest out before the Red Marauders go in. With the presence of the void wurms and their area of concentration under the guild, it is fairly safe to assume that we will have to deal with them to find the chest. Someone other than us is looking for the storeroom, and their methods indicate a connection to the church of darkness. Many of us are injured, and not everyone can be sent down or it may raise suspicions.
Those of us best suited for dealing with the void wurms are going into the tunnels. Striker, Myself, Daron, Heart seeker, the divination expert to guide us and Arafin. Fire, life energy and True light are the strongest weapons we have against the creatures. We spend a bit of money on oil and cheap clay pots to use as Molotovs’. Arafin and Striker go to the church of Wheigapugh for aid with this. At first it seems that there is nothing they can do, but the priest uses his power to temporarily imbue their weapons and armor with a minor life force that should serve to reduce the effect of the Wurms tie to the void.
Prepped and ready we meet at one of the entrances of the sewer construction. We send someone down to clear out the few workers that are down there. During this process what seemed like common street traffic turned into a mob of locals who began assaulting the Guild workers. Striker, Daron and Heart seeker had already started down with the Magus, so Arafin and I were left alone up top. Almost immediately we were swarmed. I was pummeled badly, taking a sledgehammer to the head being the worst. Arafin did what he could, but had larger issues when he realized that there were Red Marauder he recognized within the group, disguised as common protesters, but striking viciously at the joints of the guild workers.
The fight ended shortly after Striker made it back to the surface and he worked with Arafin, killing several of the mercenaries and scaring the common workers badly enough to disperse the mob. They elected not to chase them, just gathered the bodies of the deceased mercenaries for future evidence, then dug through the medkit to help me bandage my head. My armor, thrashed beyond repair, had to be cut off to treat other wounds. Somehow nobody else was harmed……
We proceeded down to the tunnels, and began the process of using the mage as a sort of compass fro what we were searching for. After 15 minutes of searching we noticed oddities about the tunnels. Somehow after following a very strict path we wound up traveling back on our tracks. After much deliberation we discovered that somehow some of the intersections had been fused with chaos, resulting in us traveling in random directions while believing we were going the direction we intended. Marks would not last within the intersections, disappearing almost the moment we left. It reminds me of the Deeping, but this close to the surface that should no be possible.
We began marking very clear trails and traveling intersections one at a time, then having the one who made it through to our desired direction pull the others through with a rope. It was arduous and took much longer than the investigation should have, but eventually we believed we were on the right track.
We discovered a few wurms that we killed easily, but then stumbled onto a large open cavern with a stone pillar approximately 20 meters across seemingly made of one piece. Along the walls and ceiling of the cavern we saw dozens of Wurms retreat from our torchlight. Striker used the oils jars to make us a seemingly safe path and had us rush through to another tunnel.
It turned into a dead end with a nest of young wurms and eggs. We lit it on fire and tried to get out, only to get pinned by a swarm of the filthy things popping out of the walls. We managed to cut our way out, but had much of our gear damaged. We also discovered that these creatures can destroy even the two objects we thought to be indestructible. My shield with the Cauld nail embedded in it was disintegrated, and even Darons Virtue-imbued helm has pitting in it as though it was touched by acid. The powers of the Void are terrifying.
We made our way out to the cavern and after much deliberation came to the conclusion that the construct in the center is likely to be the storeroom we are so concerned about. It does not behave like normal stone, and it seems odd that the Wurms had not already created a way in. What could keep out something that can negate even the indestructible nature of Darons Helm?
Arafin, Heartseeker, and Striker perform a divine rite, and find their powers lacking for the favor the are requesting in aid from the powers of nature. In the way of the animist Arafin offers up his material wealth and reluctantly offers my Ducateon Torc as well. He and Daron swear they will find another way to get me back home. I tell them not to worry over it, home has changed for me. The Ducateons would never take me back anyways….. I’m tainted in many ways.
The ritual works and we can all feel the presence of natures essence watching over us. This proves to be quite necessary as we encounter another nest and ignite it as well. We are swarmed even more heavily than before, though at least we are better prepared this time. When the fight is over we have no more shields, little fire left, virtually no armor to speak of, and everyone is exhausted. Still no chest, though the Magus informs us we are very close.
Following the direction of the Magus we push on, and discovering a horrifying sight. Before us is what could only be the queen of the void wurms. Catching it by surprise striker throws the remaining flasks of oil on it, igniting it. The flames do not last as long as they should, it seems the air here is to thin for the fire to stay healthy. The creature shrieks and attacks us with a number of slow moving tentacles that burn much more heavily that their smaller counterparts.
The others hack away at the tentacles, I rush the main body. Darons armor is destroyed, and Arafin nearly loses his living bow. All but striker seem near death. They follow me in, moving faster than the tentacles towards the main body. Daron stuns the beast with a blow of True Light, expending the last of his power. As the creature is immobile we strike blow after blow into it, hoping to kill it before it can recover, to no avail. Heart seeker calls upon the Feral rage and jumps onto the creature, stabbing relentlessly into its side with a dagger, every blow ripping into it with the strength of a frenzied animal. Striker begins to do what he realized he should have done while the creature was not moving and hacks the tentacles off at the base. Daron plunges what is left of his ruined bastard sword into the creature’s’ ‘face’. Arafin rips into the creature next to Striker. I succumb to the blood lust of the ghoul and begin pulling a wound in the creature open to chew on it from the inside….. much to my regret. My face will be permanently scarred. Thrashing, nearly out of tentacles, and oozing from its entire front…. the creature finally falls still.
Daron slumps against the wall, heart seeker is rendered unconscious from the fatigue of his frenzy. It is a heavily wounded and battered group that discovers the chest we are looking for under the queen wurms body. There is another passage out past the queens lair, but the group is unwilling to go forward. Striker states that we will not be doing any other tasks until we are fully healed and our gear has been replaced.
Guild Consolidation: Part VI- protecting the benefactor
Entry 18: 1 year and 2 months of guild duty
As written by Risk- Company Annalist, Field physician, Reluctant Lieutenant
Day 17 since our return. Nothing of note occurs outside of our group, the entire city appears to be sleeping. We have managed to get some of our equipment replaced, and Comryr understands our need to rest,but is more willing to use his authority over us if that is needed to deploy us.
The following day another sickness strikes, affecting much more of the populace and our group. There are suspicions about the eastern merchants at this point. Many blame them. Once again we are forced to seek out divine healing to relieve us of the symptoms. Striker is even volunteering some of his time within the following of the green church to help the flock.
Upon the 19th day the Lady Tha’Vynth must be protected from an aggressive rival. Thanks to our previous efforts and quartermasters presence she is neither difficult to protect or to deal with. Most of us are staying in a room in her manse and taking turns maintaining a watch day and night. It is quiet and it is not unpleasant, we have been given free reign of the kitchens. The grollen and I are probably going to bankrupt the house.
Striker has bribed the Dotters to kill those who employed them rather than us. On top of this Keil has hired one of the more independant orphans from the orphanage as a guild ‘messenger’. In truth the youth is seeking out hidey holes and other such things within the guild that a less than reputable individual might use.
The next morning I was awakened to an outburst of blood projecting from my mouth. Within the day both Striker and Kolkrin were exhibiting the same symptoms. I was able to identify the poison affecting us, but unfortunately we have a limited amount of time to get an antidote together, and even with me making the substance myself the ingredients are both rare and expensive.
It seems that those of us who took the most advantage of the Lady Tha’Vynths kitchen were targeted. Like a simple matter of convenience, it seems unlikely that the lady would seek our death. But investigating is out of the question as we are still stuck protecting the lady and some of us are dealing with healing.
21 days….. 21 days of constant crap and now Fairheart falls ill as the sickness in the city grows. He meets with Quartermaster but little is revealed to us other than the fact the Fairheart is trying to ensure his legacy is preserved.
That night we heard an enormous commotion from the kitchen area, screaming, yelling, fighting. Most of us gathered at the stairwell that is the only path up to the final floor of the manse, and therefore the only way to the lady. Arafel and Keil were unable to make into the stairwell before a substantial group of armed and armored men were rushing the halls, so they hid within a room until they passed, then approached from behind. Meanwhile those of us at the top formed a defensive line and refused to give ground. Slowly we whittled down their front line, pushing back when we could so as to assault the crossbowmen in the middle of the stairwell. No one was killed or even rendered unconscious, but injuries were substantial. Daron looking like he usually does after a combat, Myself not doing well, even striker had suffered injury. Kolkrin has broken the brace that was used to set his broken wrist, this will set back his healing time substantially.
Aside from the fact that we believe one or two of these men MAY have been common mercs within the Red Marauders, we have no true idea of who they were, where they were sent from or even the real reason for the attack. (Though we can at least surmise that Tha’Vynth was the target.) We are finally patched up and ready to attempt to finish our rest when a messenger arrives from Comryr. Our immediate attention is needed elsewhere. Goblins have been sited within the city….. It’s 2 in the god forsaken morning…….
Guild Consolidation: Part VII- Unveiled darkness
Entry 19: 1 year and 2 months of guild duty
As written by Risk- Company Annalist, Field physician, Reluctant Lieutenant
With goblins being sited and the immediate threat to the lady Tha’Vynth having been neutralized we immediately set out to investigate leaving a small unit behind to take care of the mess in the lady’s manor.
We interviewed the two witnesses, who both have information leading us to believe that it was indeed goblins and they were ransacking buildings for food. Unwilling to leave any goblins alive and unchecked we set out to find their tracks, proving successful after an hour. At this point it s obvious that they will have had plenty of time to hide but if we are lucky we will find where they retreated to.
Another hour of searching and we discover that the track end at the entrance to the lair of an old nemesis: Double O ‘Cellar. The entrance has been concealed again, but our previous knowledge of its whereabouts make it easy to uncover. Quarter master has me lead the expedition down into the old cellar so we can approach without light revealing our presence.
The cellar proves empty of anything other than our nemesis’ skeleton and the underground river that runs to one side of it. We suspect that where the river goes further underground may have a means of escape, it is far too risky to explore ourselves. Quartermaster decides to have Jimmy fetch our 2 Masons and have them collapse the entrance so this celar can no longer be used. Calin is quite frustrated by this but is not willing to disobey orders. He makes up for it by uttering insults about Daron not quite under his breath. He is ignored.
Arafin is concerned about what these sightings, coupled with the other rumors and troubles of the city, may mean. In light of this foreboding feeling we all agree to rest and recover as much as we can.
The following morning the lady Fairheart and 2 of her daughters fall ill, the girls are dead by evening. This is deeply concerning, we may be losing the strongest ally the guild has. Trying to heal and rest proves difficult for us, and to top it off the Red marauders have come up from the tunnels, laden with a few dead, many injured, and 2 litters stacked near to bursting with gold, valuable goods, and as my manna sight reveals: several magical items. The bannermen do not take this loss well, and it dawns on all of us that it will prove difficult to convince the city that the new heroes have committed any crime, regardless of any evidence we can provide.
A large portion of militia is pulled away to deal with an Orrish hold out 4 days out. Cormyr insists on keeping us in the city, but sends some of the guilds arms men with the excursion. The day proves wearying as not only do the townsfolk seem to feel we are to be ridiculed for cowardice (since we didn’t handle the sewer threat) even our own guild members view us as a joke now. To make matters worse, some of the red marauders have taken to spending their evenings buying drinks for anybody in the guild common room while loudly speaking ill of us.
By the morning of the 25th day since our return nobody seems to even want to rise to eat in the morning. It does not help that the 1st thing we here is that cattle and goats are being stolen in the night. While there is no proof, we know that it is the efforts of whatever orrish are hiding within our city. We rest further,but the desecration of our reputation proves to be too much for Jimmy. For a man of humble origins he takes a lot of pride in his position as a bannerman. He attempted to reconnoiter with a few of the soldiers from the red marauders, but from the corner i sat reading it was very clear he was trying to hard,and came across as a desperate fool bragging. He goes to bed very drunk, and very pissed off. For a sailor, he is severely lacking in his understanding the basic principle of male interaction.
More cave ins throughout the city in areas no tunnels should exist. The eastern merchants have been seen wandering at night. The people are scared and suspicious, looking for anybody to blame. Quartermaster is trying to wrap up some issues quickly, and is speaking with the same magus who guided us through the tunnels before. Apparently he believes that the red marauders did not investigate thoroughly and is sending us down again, but is looking for some means of navigating the chaos traps without losing our way. The Magus agreed to help us, but we had to pay for materials and his labor, and there is no guarantee that he will be successful. Despite this the fee is paid, and the Magus delivers a stone that will eliminate the effects of the chaos traps.
Knowing we return to the tunnels in the morning, most of us resorted to drinking until we could forget what was going on. Jimmy found other means of coping. He sat down at the same table the red marauders have been occupying since their triumph. Within minutes of him sitting down he was being ridiculed by the 3 mercenaries without any opportunity to speak. At this point Daron approached the table and put his arm around jimmy and asked the mercs if they had heard of the fenlands demon. After hearing this I felt i knew where he was going with this. Before he could get into an exposition about his own deeds I bought a round fo drinks for the table and delivered them to Jimmy and Daron. Under My breath i said to them “follow suit dumb-asses!” and left a bag of 10 silvers on the table. They took the hint and proceeded to buy drinks for the mercs as Daron told his story.
This is where i witnessed something i never expected to see. Daron told his story, but he lied. He did not tell it as his own story, he told it as though Jimmy was the hero of the story. I was there for this. I was there when a 10 foot monster rushed forward, ignoring my crossbow bolt to its gut and my sword to its collar bone. It was only a shield rendered indestructible by the Cauld Nail and my natural armor that kept me alive when this creature swung a grollen war flail like a toy in rapid succession. Daron came out of nowhere and cut off the top half of the creature’s head with a single blow from his 2 handed blade. He saved my life, and possibly others of our group, yet here he was telling the Red Marauders that JIMMY, a man who wasn’t even there, had not only slayed the creature, but had rushed forward, yaning Darons sword out of his hand while he stood shocked, and had cut the creature’s head off after receiving a blow himself.Daron even had me retrieve the creature’s head from the wagon. I’ve been with Daron for a while now, and he is a self righteous glory hound…. But he displayed a side that i could not believe existed in him. He was sincere, generous, likeable, and all while he was LYING HIS ASS OFF!…. For the purpose of helping his comrade complete his goal. For a man who hate lying, he executed this con to perfection. Chance and lucky both sat quiet in appreciation of his performance. The end result of this was astonishing. The 3 mercs decided that the loyalty and self sacrificing nature of Jimmy wharf was a testament to our entire party, and has deserted the Red Marauders to join with us……. What in the name of Him?
Jimmy’s entire goal was to get information on what the mercs had found in the tunnels, but upon mention that we were returning the 3 new recruits found reasons to disappear till morning. Can’t blame them. They went through more than just a couple of passages with the void worms…. I imagine that the depths of the tunnels have much worse to offer.
Morning and hangovers hit, along a large wave of illnesses, killing 1 in 4 people (mostly the weak and sick). The church of light warns that the essence of the dark gods is seeping across the skies, The public and particularly the church of balthazaar call for the interrogation of the eastern merchants. Quartermaster sends us into the tunnels to investigate, he is remaining topside to try and save the merchants from a witch hunt.
It is a small group that Enters the Tunnels again. Myself heavily wounded, Daron little better, Kolkrin with his broken ankle and wrist, and Jimmy, who thanks to his unsavory tie to the trolls is completely healed. Nonetheless… 4 of us, and most wounded. We enter the tunnel from the other end of the sewer access as we had explored before. Due to his nature Daron leads, I am not against this and only offer advice when he shows the inherent lack of intellect of his species. Jimmy comments on the fact that he finds it odd that the second in command of our group never seems to lead. We travel north until a fork, and realize that both paths lead to a dead end, the one to the left leading to an odd black wall of sorts, not too unlike the wall to what we believe is the guilds magic storeroom. The main difference being that this wall seems to drain the light from Darons natural glow. We decide to leave, as I advise that it would be prudent to explore the rest of the tunnels and take care of what we can before tackling that which we don’t.
Down the other end we find a tunnel that shouldn’t exist and decide to explore it. Signs of other heavily armed humans traversing this are is apparent. I would assume the Marauders. Continuing on we find a small hold out of goblins that is easily dispatched. There are signs of of previous combat. These must have been th goblins that his or were simply not present for the previous raid. There is no loot.
Continuing on we find a chaos trap. We discover that the stone allows our natural Will to resist the effects of the trap, but while the stone is in Darons hands it glows brighter and constantly rather than a dull flicker. While he is holding it it seems that the combined will of our party resists the chaos for all of us. Upon passing the trap Daron announces that he is being called back to the dark wall by Ves’Tuul. The others are unwilling to let him go but i set my foot down as the commanding officer. I myself have a loose tie to Ves’Tuul and am unwilling to stand in the way of the dragons will for his agent. We take the stone and allow him to leave.
Continuing on we find the same tunnel that some of us had been held captive in. It feels like we should’ve remembered the way to this but i believe the chaos traps may have distorted our memory of it on our way out. More combat has taken place here. It makes me think of Davlik. I sincerely hope he is allowed out of prison soon. That is a mind that should not be wasted, regardless of his previous slights against us.
The tunnel continues, and too late we realize that we have stumbled upon one of the strongest traps of all. It weighs on our minds and threatens to break us. We pull through, looking back into the chaos with a keener understanding of what we must face. There is a newfound sense of security and confidence in my comrades as we tread forward. (Sanity increase)
We move to the left when the trail forks, continuing for miles. We find another chaos trap, but we manage to travel the right direction. This leads us to a room that appears to have been looted already, but closer inspection reveals that some of the random crates have not been opened. The reason for this is made apparent very quickly. A troll lies sleeping, chained and restrained to a small portion of the room. The un-looted boxes are quite clearly within its reach.
It takes both Kolkrin and Jimmy to convince me not to assault the troll, and that we will come back with the group to destroy the foul creature. In anger i leave the cavern while jimmy decides to sneak a few loads of rare furs out from under the sleeping troll.
We leave the troll and move on. We find a cavern offshoot that has orrish corpses piled high. We find a living half orc buried under the bodies. He is desperate and claims that he has only followed for fear of his life. Despite my desire to kill the creature the other wish to communicate with it further. Seeing as the Red Marauders broke both the creature’s knees in an obvious act of torture i doubt it poses a serious threat, and i acquiesce Jimmy and Kolkrins request. We can use this beings intel later.
There is another chaos trap at a 3 way intersection. Navigating this we manage to find that the path to the left leads to what can only be another portion of the black wall discovered earlier, which after a little bit of study we conclude must be a square room. It also branches off to a room that quite obviously used to hold a large quantity of food and other loot. The Marauders beat us here…. My manna sight makes clear that this was the room they pulled magical objects from.
The other paths lead to an exit from the tunnels that is just outside of the north eastern part of town, and a staging point of some sort that has no entrances and exits out of it. This still does not tell us how anyone got in here or what danger may still exist. Is it possible that the sewer tunnels are not the true point of origin for our troubles?
We meet up with Daron on our trip back, who informs us that his meditation at the wall has led to some answers from his patron. The tunnels are key to the objectives of many in this city, including the source of the black wall, yet the black wall itself is not an issue currently. According to Ves”Tuul the black wall IS a potential threat, yet for the time being must be ignored for the sake of the city as a whole. The dragon may not be a god, but his warnings are as vague as a deities.
We return to the surface shortly before midnight. 17 hours underground, under constant stress. Even being in my own element is not enough to alleviate the strain. I still do not know how Kolkrin remains standing on that ankle…..
Guild Consolidation: Part VIII- Fruitless endeavors (Final Chapter)
Entry 19: 1 year and 3 months of guild duty
As written by Risk- Company Annalist, Field physician, Reluctant Lieutenant
Despite some of us spending many hours underground, there is no time for rest. The trial for the eastern merchants is taking place and on top of being sure that the trial is a sham, the officers are convinced that the trial will serve as a large distraction allowing quite a bit of uncouth activity to go unnoticed Striker and Quartermaster will attend the trial, and the rest of us will split into teams and roam the town, working as security. In the midst of this Quarter master is trying to keep Fairhearts affairs in order, and was forced to put sweeps to work on that, who now seems to be in a permanent state of drunken rage. Though he is efficient.
The trial is indeed a sham, it is broken spirited men who are brought to the court, men who seem like they would confess to anything just to have it done and over with. The odd thing is that while they DO confess to being followers of the Dark, and having come to aid in the destruction of the light bringers, they still deny having any knowledge of the orrish in the area, the sicknesses hitting the town, or even of any of the disturbances underground. Even without those aspects though, even being part of the church of darkness is enough to get yourself hanged in these areas.
Quartermaster is disgusted by the proceedings and leaves the trial before it is over, informing Striker that he has seen enough.
Striker remains till the end, growing uneasy as the crowd begins to feel more like a mob. They seem to be working themselves up into enough of a frenzy to rush forward and lynch the merchants, city officials priests and guards be damned. At this point the church of balthazaar splits itself into 2 secure units on either side of the court. It is obvious that they will defend themselves but will not stand in the way of the mob, leaving a clear easy path. Unwilling to see the laws (and morals) of our land flouted so directly Striker steps through the crowd, and stands in front of the merchants. He addresses the crowd and says simply “you will not behave in this manner!” For emphasis he ignites his ax, forming the familiar flaming silhouette of a wolf head around the blade.
The crowd pauses, the church grows nervous, and silence echoes through the court. A rock flys from the back of the crowd, landing to the side of Striker,who only glances at it briefly. A voice from the crowd stammers “G-g-get him!” A few weak voices murmur agreement, but the whispers and murmurs of others are heard above them The crowd is unwilling to fight the one that they know as the ‘Burning Wolf’, the leader of the Guilds Bannermen. The crowd disperses, and the merchants are taken away to await their punishment.
In this time I myself watched the varying entrance of the sewers. I saw several people enter or leave, but there was little i could do to stop them as i had to keep my distance to avoid suspicion. Most of them seemed common criminals, but some were covered in robes. This is not uncommon in this area due to people trying to protect themselves from the sun, but it does allow you to hide much.
This proved to be an issue for Kolkrin and Jimmy wharf, who were simply looking for suspicious activity. Jimmy had seen a couple figures covered head to toe and had dismissed them, but upon seeing a 3rd it triggered his suspicion. He later realized it was they way they were moving. Following this person and trying to remain unseen proved difficult and son both he and the individual were fully aware of each other. The robed figure tried to run. He may have succeeded, but few can outrun a grollen.
Kolkrin caught up, broke the persons collar bone with the haft of his spear, then tripped his feet out from under him. A brief tussle and Kolkrin had the head wrap off of them, revealing a goblin who was now burning in the sunlight. Jimmy and Kolkrin dragged the creature to a nearby tent, retrained it and took it back to the guild hall.
Already there was Keil who reported that he discovered that the members of the church of balthazaar who had headed up the investigation and trial of the Merchants did not reside within the church grounds, and apparently were not overly welcome within the church despite being high ranking members.
We interrogated the goblin, to little success, mostly getting insulted. The creature bore a holy symbol of everdark and was obviously a zealot. The only truly remarkable thing about the creature was it’s wit and near human size. It was obviously chosen for its task due to its ability to blend in with humans.
He died during interrogation, only revealing that we were “all doomed”, and “The dark lords are coming”, along with comments about how we “have no idea how dead we already are”. Unfortunately very common claims from the orrish.
We disposed of the body and collected the bounty on it’s ears.
We spend the next day resting, trying to recover from our wounds. I am doing what i can for everyone, but we are trying to accomplish too much to truly rest. Any attempt to rest ends when in the evening a rider, nearly dead from exhaustion, gallops into town. He bears the message that the Orrish hold out was a trap! The militia are all dead, the was a large force backed by priests of darkness, who called upon powers of both the dark gods, and more horrifyingly, the void.
A war council is called. Striker, quartermaster and Daron attend. Striker and Daron work together to ensure that Daron does not make a fool of himself. Quartermaster works to change the perspective of the city nobles so that we are seen in the best light possible. This is a difficult task as we are being left behind as a final defense, while the red Marauders are going forth as the core of the army being sent to wipe out the orrish army. He does prove successful with all but the 2 leading officers in the council.
The army is mobilized, consisting of over 80% of the fighting force of the city, including the nobles arms-men and the varying holy orders. We spend our time organizing what is left of the fighting men and having fortifications built around the city.
All day and into the next we worked and trained the levies. Normally this day would be one of joy and celebration as the city would bring blessing over the successful harvest. The city is somber and tense. The concept of hope or joy appears to be lost to the people. Striker tells Quartermaster to pull from the party fund and throw the city a party, hoping to bring spirits up a little.
Quartermaster is very reluctant, and confesses that funds are not high right now, after the month of intrigue and wounds we have gone through. I solve this by digging into chance and lucky’s box, where i pull out 3 gems that were found in Viscount Varenus’ hidden everdark altar. Not knowing what they were outside of magical we had kept them hidden, but i was willing to bet that the Guild of Solaris would pay quite a bit for them. I was correct, and they agreed to fund the party for the city.
Drinks and food flow late into the night, it almost masks the construction of the fortifications in the city. Most seem to have temporarily forgotten the majority of the problems facing the city, including us for the time being. Shortly before midnight that all ends.
Screams and fire erupt from multiple points in the city. Chaos is everywhere as people scramble trying to find safety. We can see from where we are that the majority of the concentration of battle appears to be coming from near the guild. Though caught off guard, none of us are surprised. We set out to defend the guild, and I remind striker that there was a lot of focus from our enemies to try and get to the guilds old magic storeroom. He nods and makes sure everyone understands that our primary mission is to keep the contents of that storeroom out of the wrong hands.
Almost immediately we are set upon by what appear to be the skeletons of giants, but upon closer inspection they turn out to be the bones of many creatures fashioned into a massive humanoid shape and animated. They are not too difficult to deal with but not everyone has encountered the undead before, and it shows as they are too shocked to attack initially.
Striker looks out to the burning city and then pulls the amber blade off his back. He hands it to Arafin and tells him to use it for now. Arafins’ true past is made abundantly clear to us as the spirit inhabiting the blade awakens. We knew he was not a typical elf, but the swords full power only works in the hands of a full elf of noble descent. He admits that he is heir to what could be considered a throne amongst the plains elves. Why he is here is not explained. He informs us that the blade has agreed to aid him for now, but that the bod will be temporary. It is immediately apparent that there is a great power within the sword actively protecting its wielder.
What would normally be a 15 minute walk is instead a multiple hour fight to reach our home. Knowing that it is more important to secure our objective than to fight every enemy we come across we set out to avoid what combat we can. At this point we have to hope that the militia can hold on without us.
Keil and Arafin use every skill and trick they know in order to find us the fastest safest route back to the guild, but combat is unavoidable. Time after time we encountered squads of goblins, Zealots of the Dark gods, and even strike forces of orrish and human mix with divine powers at their command.
It seemed as if it would never end. Keil and quartermaster unloaded more bolts than I can recall, many fired from the crossbows upon my back. For the first time since i met him striker begins using his shield. The normally grim and stoic face he wears in combat shows signs of worry. I don’t think he has ever before realized the full meaning of his mortality. Despite this he fights on, taking wounds and laying waste to anyone in front of him as usual.
We did thankfully pick up some allies, and have opportunities to plan our attacks when a fight could not be avoided. Even with Daron missing we are not ignorant to the nuances of warfare. Our allies consisted of a local merchant, 2 farmers who had been pulled into our levy, and a former soldier. We had them fire volleys into our enemies to slow them down and soften them up as they rushed us.
We reached the street of the guild hall, and crossed to approach from the back. At this point a movement ahead caused all of us to raise our weapons in near panic. Many of us were wounded, and we knew that we would have no chance to recover upon reaching our destination, so we were paranoid about any further conflict. Thankfully it proved to be a white sister, one of the famed healers of the Goddess Aerina. The normal disdain that her kind (pacifists) showed us was gone. Apparently when the lives of an entire city are at stake it’s slightly less repugnant to fight. Not only did she spare us the normal treatment, she used her powers to completely heal us, bringing some back from near death (me), and most of us feeling better than we had before this disaster had began. She even mended the breaks in Kolkrins ankle and arm.
Reassured and much more confident we entered the guild. We needed the key to the storeroom, which we knew Comryr had secured in his office. Before reaching it we heard voices in a language we had only heard once…. A dark sounding language that Path had used to convince 3 goblins to bow down to him in absolute fear. I had Chance turn Striker, Quartermaster and Arafin invisible while the rest of us prepared our ranged weapons. Striker finally saw through the visual illusion and his eyes narrowed for a moment. He probably suspects some of chance and lucky’s actions in the past…..
Around the corner at the door of Comryrs’ office stood 2 enormous orcs and what we assumed was a priest. Thankfully everyone invisible managed to stay quiet enough to get behind one target each. Even striker in his full kit was eerily quiet. Simultaneous blows followed by a hail of arrows and bolts insured that our enemies never even got a chance to strike back.
With enemies dispatched we tried to convince Comryr to open the door, but it seems that the priest had been using illusions of Comryrs friends and comrades to do the same thing. He refused to let us in. It only took a few minutes with the Orcs 2 handed axes to realize we would not be breaking the door down any time soon, and time was a factor. Striker calmed down and took a few minutes to recall information that only he and Comryr would know. It turned out to be our patrons confession of his true intentions with the guild and its place in our city. The door opened.
Comryr instructed us to take Bodkins chest, and to use it’s contents to find the storerooms entrance and gain entry. From there we were to ensure its protection by any means we deemed appropriate. He would gather the forces of resistance within the city and attempt to repel the attackers. It is with certainty that we will not see one another again that we depart. No farewells or goodbyes are said.
Knowing that the storeroom resides directly beneath the common room we gather there. A deep search reveals no secret compartments or doors. We can only deduce that the entrance must be elsewhere. Our discussions with each other deduce that the entrance must have been one of the additions built on the the original inn that had been the guild house. The common room itself was converted from that in. Quartermaster recalls from guild history that one of the first additions created was an expansion from the larder, because the guild members grew tired of the parties alchemist constantly starting fires and accidently destroying the rooms in which he worked.
The addition must have been the start of what later turned into the storeroom itself. We move into the larder to search it’s depths. The room is a mess, and it is not until we move the casks and kegs from the back wall that we find a plethora of hidden compartments and hidey holes. Most of the contents being molded and rotted from being left too long. One such discovery is a plate embedded in stone, with some odd markings and a symbol of a black handprint. Much deliberation and opening the chest reveals that we can attempt to decipher the means of entry by using manna sense and knowledge of a common magus script utilizing both Gladnorean and Feyloise.
3 of us working causes us to realize that the key is in actuality a spell that creates a sort of flame touch. We cheat by having quarter master instructing his fire elemental to ignite my hand while it’s placed on the hand print. Miraculously it works. The stone becomes a strange archway with a purple film cast over the hallway beyond. It is decided that Arafin, Striker, Keil and myself will enter, while the others will guard the entrance.
Upon entering there is a voice, feminine in nature but seemingly lifeless. It announces “Guild member access, authorized by rank 2. Last access granted by rank 1, 45 years, 4 months and 3 days ago. All threats secured. Focuses Beta through Gamma still unknown in nature. Alpha Focus inaccessible. Lockdown Focus 3: Latent, Lockdown Focus 7: expired, no threat. Primary Lockdown Focus: Volatile. Would you like the entrance sealed until further notice?”
Confused we looked at each other, a few eyebrow raising at the words ‘primary lockdown focus: Volatile’, but We instruct the voice to seal the entrance behind us. “Entrance sealed, Rank 2 or greater required to unseal doors.” The entrance looks the same but a quick test shows that no one can pass in or out of the purple sheen.
Space seems to twist and reform as we go down the hallway, and we realize that some potent magic was used to manipulate the space needed in the place to fit inside of our world as a slim pillar that plunges into the earth. What appears from the inside as a large room with filled with large quantities of shelves and benches with a few large storage rooms branched off the back end, is in fact on the outside a 20 ft by 20 ft pillar plunging several hundred feet into the ground.
There is power in this room, not just that of the enchantments but a plethora of items, weapons, books and materials that almost all seem to be magical in nature. I warn Arafin not to use his manna sight in here as i am concerned it may be bright enough to blind us. I don’t know if it would actually work that way but i am reluctant to test it.
A strange voice calls out to Kiel from what appears to be a well in the center of the room. He approaches it and grows wary as the voice continually asks if he would speak with it. Keil tries to question it and get answers as to its nature, but it only continues to ask if he would speak with it. Kiel finally says “yes i will speak with you” and a spectral shape rises up from the well.
The man-like from introduces itself as Killik, the former divination Magus of the handyman’s guild. After much conversation we learn that he was one of the people who founded the guild, and was placed within the well to guard the storeroom from intrusion and to ensure it never fell into the wrong hands. According to him much of the things collected by the original party went unidentified, much of it being dangerous in nature. Some of it is understood, and Killik can help ensure that we do not accidentally kill ourselves down here.
Stryker asks if there is anything in the storeroom we could use to drive the dark army assaulting the city away. Killik seems hesitant but then declares that the most expedient way would be for us to release him, so he could leave the storeroom and draw upon its power to expel the army. Striker states that he does not know how to release Kilik, nor does he feel he has the authority. Killik assures him that the authority is indeed his as the ranking officer of the party. Apparently the magic of the storeroom recognizes the heirs of the adventuring party as a higher authority than the guild itself. Killik also informs us that simply uttering the words “I release you: Killik” are sufficient to end the binding spell that has kept him here as guardian.
Striker still feels that even though he has the ability to do so, he shouldn’t release killik without the authority of the guild council, or at least Comryrs say so. At this point a odd feeling i have had since Killik emerged becomes clear to me. I can sense undeath with him, a taint similar to my own. Upon closer examination i find out why. “He is a lich.” I announce to Striker. Killik does not deny this but explains that the original party felt that this was the only way to ensure Killik would be around as long as necessary to protect the storeroom. He is not thrilled with the means, but tries to assure us that it was the only option in dire times.
Nothing in the Lich’s’ explanation seems inherently wrong or untrustworthy, but neither Striker or I have much tolerance for the undead, Striker especially being from the frozen north. Striker refuses to accept the release of the Lich as an option for now, and sets about trying to search for other options. I take some powder that Arafin has hung onto for awhile from when he was working with sweeps. The powder changes the color of fire, and was used as a signal for Sweeps. I exit the storeroom (thankfully i am sufficient rank to open and close the door.), and then proceed to the top of the guild hall to light a fire. Once sweeps responds I send him out to gather the others and bring them to the Larder. Within the hour everyone is safe in the Storeroom.
The Dark Wars Part I- prisoners
Entry 21: 1 year and 3 months of guild duty
As written by Risk- Company Annalist, Field physician, Reluctant Lieutenant
Further conversation with Killik reveals the nature of the circle that binds him, a combination of focuses and binding circles that can be used in a variety of mystical applications. It’s a caster’s dream come true, regardless of what powers he uses. Sweeps and myself begin referencing our notes on the research we’ve done on how to cure me of the ghoul church. It seems this circle is indeed the last component we need.
The party is investigating the room and learns which portion of the room was designated as ‘mundane’, ‘Common magic’, ‘unknown magic’, and ‘dangerous magic’. Like women in a jewelry store, the party gets stupid. They begin touching, grabbing and experimenting with items that may or may not explode. I quite literally had to stop one of them from basically banging 2 objects together that were creating tendrils of lightning that were starting to encroach on some of the dangerous items.
Conversation with Killik continues, and he claims that his memory of everything is diluted, something to do with his essence being spread throughout the entirety of the room to power the protections on the place. This results in even his senses being weak, seeing exact details doesn’t work for him. He can only offer vague advice and unclear details of the items we ask him about. The group finds some items that should aid us, particularly a set of potions that were not labeled but should be easy to identify with experimentation. Quartermaster puts them onto bandoliers and packs them up.
A commotion from the larder is heard. Quartermaster goes up to discover a messenger from Comryr. He is startled and scared. He informs us that Comryr is taking what’s left of the populace and retreating to gather with what’s left of the army, then he will return to take the city back. He wanted to know if we had found the storeroom and if we could keep it safe. Quartermaster assures him we can do so. We are on our own for now. Thankfully the room is stocked with water and rations, enough for us to survive for weeks. It does not take us long to figure out that killiks well is also meant for waste disposal.
The others discover that instead of the medkit in my large pack is the emaciated Dalvik. Many are disturbed and unhappy, but they agree not to kill him when i explain that I had entered into an arrangement with the man to save his life in exchange for the 15000 silvers he had offered as a token for acceptance into our group. Keil wants him dead for what he did to us, but no one is quite willing to kill him yet. I had snuck hi ion when i had gone out of the storeroom to gather the others of our party.
For some reason everyone has suddenly lost their left pinky. No blood loss or pain… it just falls off. We have no explanation, it’s just gone. Quartermaster picks his up off the ground and pockets it. A mystery for another day i suppose…..
More commotion from the top of the passageway. The larder is filled with orrish and more of the skeleton constructs we fought before. Some of the rush off saying something about the ‘lieutenant’ in orrish. One returns dragging an angry and reluctant Fairheart. Upon seeing Quartermaster he rushes to the door and wants to know if we’d found the storeroom. Quartermaster says yes and Kravis begins asking whether or not it’s as dangerous as we’d expected and if he’d been right to try and keep it from the hands of anyone else. Quartermaster refuses to let him in, suspicious. He asks why the Orcs are not attacking Kravis. The man responds as though he’s surprised to be asked. “I’m their officer. I’m leading this segment of them!”Kravis explains that he joined the dark forces as a means of saving humanity. He believes the forces of light are doomed and is doing everything he can to ensure that humanity stands a chance to live anew when the dark gods take over.
QM is enraged, and only sees Kravis as a traitor. His mentor is now his enemy. He agrees to open the door, but upon doing so he unleashes a handful of dragons fire, incinerating the surprised Kravis. It is a heavily burnt but surprisingly living Kravis who reveals that he is now a ghoul, that for his part he was granted immortality. QM rapidly shuts the door. Several Orcs were slain but Kravis had to have poured every bit of Ghoulish vigor into saving himself. Calmly he beseeches QM to let him in so that they can work together to continue the goals they set out to accomplish. QM refuses, and Kravis grows more insistent, urging QM to join him as his right hand men, and to take his rightful place in immortality to bring humanity to it’s rightful place above the orrish.
QM only says that he must think on it. Kravis tells him that if QM joins him he will ensure the safety of the party, even offering to let us go and that he will aid us in sabotaging the Storeroom so it can never be used by the wrong hands. All he asks is a piece of one of us, a portion of pure humanity to quell the ache and hunger that will eventually drive his ghoul self to loathe the living and to lose the humanity he has left. QM comes back to the rest of us to inform us what happened. Despite doing all he can to work with me while i’m infected, QM has no place in his heart for the undead. He says that he WILL see Kravis dead.
There is more discussion about our options. The idea of taking Kravis offer comes up, but none are willing to do so. We discuss releasing the Lich again, but Striker refuses. Based on what we’ve learned the Storerooms magic is built upon the spirit of the law, not the letter, and recognizes intent. Striker is our recognized leader, and therefore the final authority in the storeroom, only he can release Killik. Killik understands and seems to harbor no resentment. We realize that we must either fight our way out or wait for reinforcements.
The group finally grows curious about what Sweeps and i are doing. At this point we come clean about the research we’ve been doing. The circle of power in the room proves to be exactly what we thought. With this and the components we’ve collected from the funds provided by Dalvik we believe to be able to cure my infection. There are other facets though, other aspects that we can touch on and many dangers to consider. The core of what we are trying to do is this: we are going to open a door to the lands of the dead, and after setting up some protective measures rip open a gateway to my soul and permit Lucky to pass on into the world of the dead, where his tortured existence can find some peace. The hope is to use his soul as a means to transport my own curse along with him into the world of the dead.
The procedures we are trying to accomplish are as such
Removing the ghoul
Putting lucky to rest
Eliminating the chaotic hunger
Granting Chance a Body
Retaining the Ghoulish shifting (VERY dangerous)
Keeping the twin bond through Ves’tuul
The process of removing the ghoul will require approximately 6000 slivers of material components and the name of the Ghoul who infected Risk. These have been obtained by risk and Sweeps through some double dealings, pilfering and the use of Sweeps contacts to get a Divination Magus well versed in the Lores of the dead. The one thing not obtained is the blood of one who is bonded to an antithesis of death. Should this go wrong, the one who donates blood may experience side effects. Daron and Striker are the only ones who match this description, though using a collection of those bonded to the Animus spirit MIGHT work.
This process will open the soul of risk so deeply that there is a chance that anything else as unnatural within him could get pulled out along with it.
These unnatural things include:
Chance, Lucky, the ability to use elven weapons, +4 cs to empathy 3 times a day, Black skin, Scale skin armor, Ghoul curse, Partitioned mind, double effect from alcohol, bound fates, occult attunement, lvl 1 void sense, Druunad Vine skin.
Since this can realistically only be done once, and it opens Risk up so heavily, attempting many other things at once during this opportunity may be occurring.
The first is allowing Lucky to be pulled out, to send his mind along with the ravenous hunger from the entropy potion to the natural place of the ghoul curse: The land of the dead. From there Lucky should be able to find rest. Chance and Risk agree that their brother is no longer truly alive, just a shell of himself, and that he needs to be permitted to rest.
The second is clinging to chance so he is not pulled out, and channeling him into the Soul Gem in Risks Possession. (Collected from the Fey elf that worked with the necromancer up north.)
The last is potentially hanging on to the bond between Risk, Chance and Lucky. Their fates, and very lives are bound together tightly. WIth the death of either of the twins there is the chance of Risk dying. It is possible that moving this bond to the donator of the blood may eliminate this risk. Due to the nature of oaths to Ves’tuul, it is most likely to be successful between Quartermaster, Risk, and Daron… Provided that Daron is the Donor of blood.
The entire party agrees that this process must be done, and they all agree to take part as blood donors. The process is convoluted and difficult to describe, but it was a success, and had many side effects. Much of my own oddities are stripped from me, but i did hang on to some of them. I am certainly no longer a ducateon by essence… but i think i have a different Holt at this point. We are all bonded, though not as strongly as Myself, Quarter Master and Daron.
I am now tainted by the Shadow, and Quarter master seems to be even more strongly tied to our own plane. Somehow we 3 are now of the light, the shadow, and all that is in between. The others spent significant time in the lands of the dead, and spoke with varying ancestors and people of note. Knowledge was gained, essence lost, and it seems we all have some innate knowledge or attunement of the undead now. There is no doubt of anyone’s commitment, and at this point we know that there is no returning to any loyalty above that of our party.
Chance is free of my mind, inside of an Elven body. Lucky has passed on. It seems that for once things have gone in our favor.
We all awaken to Fairheart’s voice yelling from the hallway. Conversation with him reveals that we have lost 2 days. He is still pushing for quartermaster to work with him and claims that he will let us go AND destroy the storeroom so that the dark forces will not get ahold of it. We blow him off.
We learn that in less than a fortnight the shields on the storeroom will fail due to the dark forces pressed upon them. Couple that with the fact that we have seen some of the forces arrayed against us and we have grown concerned. There is a group outside known as the followers of Kroan’Maw, a ruthless half ogre who has led his men to be an antithesis of the forces of light. This unholy party has eliminated every group attempting the heroes ride for the last 2 decades. When the shields fall, we will be fighting some of the best the darklands have to offer.
Sweeps and I are put on full blown research duty, trying to decipher what many of the items in the storeroom do. We decide to be very careful, limiting what we can learn but ensuring that we will not have anything blow up in our faces. In the next several days we learn much, but unfortunately most of the items involved are dark, requiring heavy sacrifice or spreading evil across the area. The item that seems best suited for our needs would unleash the black plague upon everything around us…. We cannot in good conscience do this.
The group discusses releasing Kilik again, and almost convinces Striker. At the last second i voice my thoughts and he is dissuaded. The group hears my logic and agrees that we cannot trust the Lich.
From the tunnel we hear an Ork speaking to us, He claims to have a friend of ours. Investigation reveals that they have captured Gavrosh, which is proven by a message from the teen himself stating that the dark forces found him in a place only “the warrior of light” would know. It is obvious that he is referring to the are underground protected by a dark wall that was investigated by Daron.
Striker responds to the baiting from Kravis and goes to the top of the tunnel. There he takes the wolf pelt of our former comrade and lays it upon the ground, he then takes the pelt of another of our fallen wolf followers and lays it across his lap as he kneels. Kravis rants at him, growing angry. He speaks of his goals, of his motivations, and finally grows so angry at Strikers lack of response that he begins to yell. Striker remains kneeling, praying to the wolf lord. Kravis grows so angry that he steps forward, and surprisingly steps through the shielding with no resistance. Standing before striker he screams “Did i not tell you! Did i not say I could enter this room whenever i chose! I am the heir of the guild! I am the son of Bodkin! I am the only one who saw what must be done to preserve his legacy! I am exactly what you and your comrades have sought to be! I AM the Handymans guild !” At this point Striker stops his prayers, not even bothering to raise his weapon in response. He looks up at Kravis says quietly “ YOU…. are dead.” A spectral wolf aura surrounds the head of the Fairheart family, the maw striking down and appearing to bite at the ghouls head. Kravis screams and falls to the ground. The ghoulish resilience fades, and Kravis is rendered Mortal and unconscious before Striker. The pure conviction and sacrifice of essence has rendered Kravis our prisoner. Striker looks to the Ork holding Gavrosh and picks up his ax. He then decapitate Kravis without ceremony.
In response the Ork pick Gavrosh up by his hair and slits his throat. Striker is surprised, having expected the orrish to falter without leadership. It appears that the enemy is more organized than we anticipated.
We rest and prepare. Soon the shield we will fail and we will fight forces sure to overwhelm us. The party begins preparing every asset available. We will do what we must, despite the odds.
Ha. All of this….everything we survived, every wound I healed and torment overcome…. And this is how we die…..
The Dark Wars Part II- Suicide
Entry 21: 1 year and 3 months of guild duty
As written by Risk- Company Annalist, Field physician, Reluctant Lieutenant
Weapons are sharpened, armor checked and shields strapped. QM is sorting through potions, Striker is praying with Arafin, Sweeps, Keil and Daron. The powers of nature surge, the howl of a wolf is present in all our ears, as though in the distance.
Sweeps and I have found some new information. The shields, the protections over this place, are capable of evolving and learning how to defend against new powers. Once the shields drop, they will be down for about 10 minutes. If we can keep people out for that timeframe the shields will rise again, nearly invulnerable to the previous attacks, and they will be bolstered to an extreme level for a short time. Somewhere between 1 and 12 months… we get to decide. The only issue is that for the entire timeframe we set we will not be able to enter ourselves either.
We could defend and stay, waiting for the city to be liberated…. But that’s not who we are. We are setting the shields and trying to join the war effort. We set the shields for 6 months, and prepare to wade outwards… into the party of Kroan’Maw. A relentless horror that has been the cause of failure for every Heroes’ Ride in the last 20 years. Every power and ability we have is called upon.
I say to my comrades “So would now be a good time to blow that horn the Druunad gave us? He did say that he would show up as soon as he could, and to only use it in great need….. certain death comes across as needful to me.”
Arafin: “Who is Druunad? And what could he help us with? It’s not like there is a back door to this place… or is there?”
QM: “I had forgotten about our friend, sound the horn hopefully he can get here before the shield falls.”
I sound the horn, and to our disappointment only a hollow unanswered call emits.
Lined up, we approach the doorway. The shields will fall within the day….. We are advancing now, in the hopes that the enemy is not truly on their guard yet. On the opposing stairwell of the larder, we could see some of the members of our antithesis. We have identified who is amongst their group.
Kroan’ Maw: A half ogre holy warrior, the leader of this dark group.
Maug: A Fey Elf assassin/warlock.
Velchuk: Full ork berserker, despises the leadership, only cares for sunstealer.
Almuk: Human Magus, priest and thief. Exists to profit.
Vendran and Hendrak: Twin Brother warriors who have become a vampire and ghoul appropriately and seek further power through the dark gods.
Before even this party is a group of the unnatural skeletal animations, those that look as though they were human forms created from the bones of massive animals mixed together. Unwilling to give the enemy too much time QM decides to bombard the enemies with potions as the shields fall. The animations are pulled to the staircase where QM threw a gravity bomb and multiple fire bombs.
As the skeletal forms burn we assault forward, taking a defensive position at the bottom of the stairs and hacking at the animations while they are down. As we advance spears and potions of fire are thrown at us, failing to stop our group but proving painful.
The animations are almost all dead and we are pushing forward into the real threat. Even with the limited time for preparation we gave them it is obvious they called upon unholy powers. We can already see that fire is wicking off of them as though it was water, doing no damage. Their weapons glow with green and they are bolstered by an unholy strength. We strike, forcing them to defend as Velchuk (the Ork) goes berserk, foaming at the mouth, then suddenly becomes calm and nearly insubstantial, doing nothing for a few moments. QM jumped off of my back, me prepped only because of the new awareness of each other from our unnatural twin bond. He jumps off me, over the skeletal figures and burying his mastercraft ax into one of the undead… it is much less effective than we would like.
While aiming his bow, Kolkrin is struck by a barrage of ice potions, that renders him nearly unable to move. He barely manages to turn and loose his arrow on Maug, who is blurry,as though covered by illusion. Maug is shocked that Kolkrin was able to see him. He generates a strange ball of energy between his hands and throws it and Kolkrin.
There is momentary confusion. We are all in the back corner of the larder, close to where we came from. Maug is surrounded by us, eyes wide. As he is smote down we learn from keil what happened. He used a staff we had found in the storeroom and successfully identified. Upon breaking it he named our enemy “the Kroan’Maw party”. It should have place us behind them the moment he named the party. Instead we were surrounding one of them who was backed against a wall. It wasn’t until afterward that we realized what had gone wrong. Kroan’MAw the half ogre wasn’t the leader, Maug was. With the enemy named split, the staff placed us around the core of the group: the leader. Because his back was to a wall we wound up surrounding him instead of behind him…. The staffs magic couldn’t place us in stone and earth, so it did the next best thing.
Maug died very quickly, which proved to be a very good thing after it was recognized that the ball he’d thrown followed kolkrin to his new position, and nearly killed him in a single blow. Grollens don’t drop easily. The others rushed out of the stairwell and swarmed towards us.
Kolkrin was skewered by Velchuck the Berserker, unable to properly defend himself with his limbs covered in ice. Striker stood face to face with the ghoul while Daron and Arafin faced the Half ogre. I stood to the right of Daron, while QM backed us, pulling crossbows off my back. Almuk the mage/priest comes down, beginning to chant. The vampire strikes out.
The mage is struck down in an effort of Jimmy, as Arafin strikes the half ogre, dodges behind him and rushes the ghoul. As this occurs Jimmy rushes from the storeroom, his sweat evaporating off of him and an aura of flame around him. He had said if things were bad he would drink a potion we’d found, one we knew was good for combat, but did not know exactly what it did. He had apparently drank it. As the Mage goes down Keil and QM struck the vampire, battering him to the ground and using every power available to them to smite it in a manner that kept it down.
Striker is struggling but alive, as he is having a hard time against his opponent, whose shield has given him a phantasmal aura. Using the Amber blade Arafin manages to aid striker in taking out Velchuck the berserker, then trying to fight the ghoul himself as Striker went to fight the Half ogre. In all of this Daron was striking the half ogre, but the creature’s armor, size and bond to the void was proving to be overwhelming. Kroan” Maw would strike Daron with a massive spiked mace that would require 2 hands from anyone else, pummeling daron as rapidly as he could. I managed to interpose my shield, but the force of the blow still battered Daron and after a couple of them dislocated my shoulder.
Jimmy Jumped on Kroan’Maws’ back and started burying his claw into the half-ogres neck rapidly, as though he was trying to saw the head off. We continued fighting, but Koraon maw caught Striker off guard by targeting him instead of Daron while engaging all of us. Striker dropped, but Kroan’Maw was severely wounded from Darons multiple swings of his great sword and Jimmys’ continual stabbings. Kroan’Maw tried to drink a potion, only to have it snatched out of his hands by Keil, who he proceeded to chase in a blind rage. Jimmy, who at this point was erupting in flames, sawed Kroan’Maws head off entirely as Keil dodged mace shots like a maniac.
Arafin defeated the ghoul, thanks to the Amber glow of his sword being able to strike phantasmal creatures. The dark powers of the enemies strikes have given wounds that falter even our organs, even those who were never struck. Jimmy is burning alive from the inside, and Keil offers him the healing potion he stole from Kroan’Maws hands. Jimmy is briefly relieved, burt quickly begins to burn again. He looks down at his body and says: “I always thought I’d die at sea”. Keil looks at our burning comrade and says to him “I forgive you.” Jimmy smile, the screams in the most horrifying manner I have ever heard as his body is turned into ashes.
There is no time to mourn as we gather what we can and leave the Larder. The store room is secure, and no one will be able to enter for some time, it is time for us to look to our escape and survival. There is quite a bit amongst the bodies of Kroan’ Maws group, but there is no time to sort it. Everyone shares the load and we rush out.
We are immediately beset by a few Orrish who seemed to have been guarding the exit. The 3 of them wisely set up a killing pocket at the top of the stairs, but were not ready for Arafins sure aim and living arrows. He fires 3 rapid shots before they move to the sides, which allows us to pour out. Orks they were, but even that does not stand up long to us any more, not when they are weakened and under-equipped.
Carrying Kolkrin with us we manage to sneak our way to our quarters and my medical tools. Thankfully Kiel and Arafin were there to scout the path for us and let us know when it was safe to go. As i go to work attempting to revive Kolkrin, the others grab what little they can from our quarters and keep watch. Kolkrin is revived after much time and work, and is only safe to move because of his grollen durability. It would have been nice to have him ride in the wagon, but even if we could’ve snuck it out of town through the orrish forces, it was not available for use. It seems that our wagon and horses were already taken. Goodbye Bob and Fiend.
Getting out of town proves to be very difficult and time consuming. Hours go by as we sneak from building to building in back alleys and less populated streets. It took some doing to convince the entire group that we could not effectively fight our way out. We were essentially behind enemy lines, and needed to discreetly get out to aid Comryr in his efforts to regroup. It was suggested that we use the tunnels to get out of town, but the idea was discarded since it was more likely that the dark army had the tunnels effectively covered.
We did get into one skirmish, which proved useful. We took one alive and learned that there were convoys going out from the town and that we might be able to disguise ourselves as one of them if certain members were chained as war prisoners (only in appearance of course.) We also managed to learn which route our wagon was going out of town. Turns out it was a large enough haul to be given a priority escort out of town.
Daron, Myself, Arafin and Kolkrin are ‘chained’. We used ropes that i looped and spread in ashes to make them look like chains from a distance. Striker leads us out while the others behave as ‘bodyguards’. I have to maintain contact with Daron and channel some of the shadow within myself to temporarily counter the glow he emit from his radiance bond. We nearly get approached by what looks to be an officer, but Striker does a fair job of waving him off from a distance and behaving as though he’s correcting his course to go away from the officer.
Once out we move quickly to where we believe we will be able to retrieve our wagon. Quartermaster is quite concerned about the contents of the wagon, particularly that which we had hidden away. We successfully get ahead of the wagon and it’s escort, and set up camp in the middle of the road, trying to look like one of the dark armies checkpoints. After growing annoyed with my antics Daron declares he is going to the woods. When asked why he tells the group that he needs to get away from the ‘aggravating short thing’. We don’t make a big deal of it because his glow is likely to give us away as not being allied with the dark army.
When the wagon reaches us Striker tries to convince the dark worshippers, (1 ork, 1 human officer and what appears to be a human priest), that we have been instructed to halt anyone going through. The officer doesn’t buy it and a fight breaks out. We do well for ourselves, with minimal injuries. Daron heard the commotion and as he was rushing to rejoin us he coincidentally ran into 2 others of the dark worshippers, likely scouts who had hidden prior to approaching us. They thought to overwhelm Daron…. Not likely. They did not even get a chance to swing as he brought his greatsword to bear and struck them both down before they could even get in reach with their own weapons.
The wagon is secured, though nearly everything is missing. Thankfully most of the secret compartments were not completely empty though obviously they’d been opened recently. It seems that after taking our weapons, ammunition, food and unidentified magical items/components, they sent the wagon out with much of our smaller more valuable items hidden away. Our horses were not used to pull the wagon. And on top of this, the Masterwork of Rockheart is missing. The greatest work of the God under the mountain is in the hands of the dark gods…….
The Dark Wars Part III- Pursuit
Entry 22: 1 year and 3 months of guild duty
As written by Risk- Company Annalist, Field physician, Reluctant Lieutenant
Many of us are disheartened by the loss of the masterwork we had yet to even truly lay our hands upon, and it is obvious to QM and Daron that I am angrier than anyone can see. Daron lays his hand upon my shoulder and barely audible says “Ves’Tuul…. If there was ever a time I would ask something from you for myself…..” He is obviously much more concerned with my anger than he is by the loss of the weapon, and QM is not far behind me in his own rage. I think he took the masterpiece as a personal challenge.
When we gather what we need and prepare the wagon to move, Striker declares that it is time to search for Comryr and aid with the war effort. It is at this point that Daron notices an odd glow from where the weapon used to sit. When he calls our attention to it the glow becomes a trail of dim but clear light, leading out the back of the wagon down the road where it came from. It seems that only Daron, QM and Myself can see it. Daron is confident that it is a trail of divine aid, leading to the lost masterpiece. Considering the nature of the weapon, and who Daron serves, it may actually be plausible. Striker believes that Daron may be right but is insistent that finding Comryr must take priority.
After a short discussion Striker agrees to allow some of us to pursue the weapon while the majority searches for Comryr. Daron will stay with striker since he is not best suited for long distance pursuit or scouting, his bond with myself and QM will also allow him to notify Striker if we have been severely wounded or killed. The pursuit party would consist of QM, Keil, Kolkrin and Myself. Small, yet combat effective and everyone well versed in subtle pursuit.
We followed the light trail to a point of the road about 5 miles back. Ther the trail went off the road to the tracks of a small cart or wagon accompanied by an unmounted escort. The light trail fades, yet our direction is clear. Kolkrin begins tracking, and informs us that there are somewhere between 6 to 12 people, all of average size or smaller, some of them carrying more gear than others. The moon is bright tonight, but the wind is kicking up sand into our face and severely damaging the trail.
QM has us running, not at a breakneck pace but quickly enough that Kiel is unable to keep up. He’s got a solid sprint, but it appears he’s much more used to running just far enough to be able to hide from his pursuers, not mile after mile. After a while I carry him, making it difficult for me to keep up myself. Kolkrin, being a grollen, is laughing at us as he lopes along as though this is just a nightly jaunt for pleasure.
Ahead of us a 2 wheel wagon is spotted crashed into a rock outcropping. We slow down and begin moving stealthily. Keil and QM approach first, while Kolkrin and I keep watch of the surrounding area. No one is alive near the site, there are 6 dead bodies. 5 of the bodies are men, wearing studded leather and armed with short spears and short swords. 3 of the men have a single wound under their left armpit, the others have 2 wound apiece. The 6th body is female, 2 spears stuck in the body holding it at an odd angle. She is naked and from the reaction of the humans she was beyond beautiful for their species.
They ask me to inspect the bodies and wounds. The female it is clear, she was stabbed brutally and stripped of her clothing afterwards. No signs of rape. The 5 men it is less clear. I can clearly see that the 3 with only one wound died nearly instantaneously, where the other 2 must have been stabbed less accurately and lived long enough to kill the woman. Closer inspection of the wounds reveals that it was not puncturing of the heart that truly killed the (one of them yes, but even if it hadn’t been the heart he would have still died.) There is sign of an incredibly potent poison deep in the wound, one that I can only identify as not being natural (likely man made). The disturbing part is that there is no sign of the poison until the deepest point of the wound.
Normally a blade would be coated with a poison to be delivered by a thrust or slash. I had to cut deep into the wound to find that the poison did not touch the body until AFTER the blade had reached its deepest, then the poison was only spread from the tip. By the wounds themselves I can see that the blades were indeed sharp, double-edged, yet very thick and had rounded sides. Very unusual, and obviously custom make. The only explanations i have for the poison and its delivery are that either it was mystical in nature, or that the blade is somewhat hollow, and filled with poison that empties out the tip (how it would be pushed out i am unsure of).
QM loots everything portable from the bodies and Kolkrin investigates the tracks while i investigate the bodies. The men all bear holy symbols of sunstealer or everdark, and some silver amongst them. The woman has nothing on her. Kolkrin tells us that only 4 people, all likely women with no real armor or weapons, left the site with 2 horses. The horses both had recognizable shoes with a pattern commonly used by our guilds Farriers.
It makes little sense that these people were all traveling together with the masterpiece (we believe), and then the women all turned on the men, obviously by surprise, and won. None of us have any viable reasoning for this, until QM shouts “GLOOMBRINGER!”. He explains that the mistress of assassins, the sister-god of Everdark and Sunstealer, has motives that no one understands, not even the other dark gods. He is completely convinced that this is the only explanation. The rest of us agree that it MAY be a possibility, but we are not sold on the idea.
No further clues are found and we continue to make our way, with Kolkrin leading. After a while it becomes we are forced to hide as we see riders coming from the south west, likely from Hestig. Unfortunately we were correct in assuming that they were our enemies. We were also unfortunate enough to have them see me. Two full Orks were not mounted, and he is left behind as 2 riders come charging towards me. They fall to the ground, dead, 50 meters from me, arrows and bolts in them. I fire a shot to the lead ork remaining, who tries to rush me. He too falls to arrows while his comrade wises up and runs. His distance is too great for us to shoot him with our crossbows or riding bows. Kolkrin surprises us by firing 4 arrows in an arc with that oversized bow of his, the first 3 all in the air before the 1st struck. Not all hit, but not all needed to. The first 2 were minor wounds, and the 3rd missed, but the 4th struck him in the center of the back at 450 meters. No witnesses.
It seems on of the riders had seen QM after all, having fired a small crossbow at him. The shot only grazed him but after 2 minutes he is retching and struggling to maintain his balance. Great. I recognize it, it’s not going to be fatal as long as he hydrates frequently, but he will be useless in a chase or fight. He says that he will stay with one of the horses from the riders and collect what he can from the previous site. We Put Keil on the other horse and continue pursuit.
Quartermaster put me in charge. Technically I already was, but I always choose to defer to QM in these situations. I put Keil in charge. He needed exposure to responsibility, and this was a decent time. If he screwed up I could cover the mistake, but as far as he knows I don’t do that. He argued for a bit, but realized that arguing with me was as effective as arguing with the stone and ores that permeate my skin (he got the same level of response).
Traveling through the night and early morning sees us to a small town called “Red Rock”. So named for the rock formations that had been hauled away ages ago. 3 human sized stones remained in the center of town, surrounding a shrine to Aerina. The town is known as part of a pilgrimage path for the church of light. Its quite the detour to reach it from normal trade routes, but the holy pilgrimages keep the town vibrant. Finding anyone here would be difficult.
We split up to search. Kolkrin gets us a room and goes to sleep. Keil begins looking into local rumors and subtly asking the populace about groups who showed up in the night. I start looking for likely places to hide or hole up…. And while passing an inn see several horses stabled. I walk in and glare at the stable boy, who decides that I am not somebody he wants to speak with. Advantage to being the scary Ducateon. Checking the horses’ shoes causes me to be legitimately surprised. These are the horses we were following…. And I had stumbled upon them. Expecting to be jumped at any moment I walked out, trying to convey that I had no interest in anything in the stable.
I wanted to speak with Keil, but I didn’t know where he was and he was doing his thief thing….. NOPE. I learned with Chance and Lucky that unless it was an emergency I was better off going where he could find me. I went to the room and catnapped. 6 Hours later Keil walked into the room to inform me that he had a lead and that he thought we could find where they were staying.The expression on his face when I told him exactly where they were staying and who we had to bribe to ID them was worth the short sleep cycle.
Keil had spoken with the late night shrine attendant and learned of multiple groups that had arrived in the night that could match what he was looking for. 1: a group of halflings, 2: a pilgrimage of Aerina, 3: four white sisters, 4: A half elf accompanied by 4 smaller hooded figures. Considering that we were looking for 4 human-woman sized individuals who were likely in hiding, I understood why he assumed that it was the Half-elf group. He’d also learned of old caverns and tunnels under the town from the mining days. Most people were unaware of them. RUMOR had it that some great power existed in the tunnels in the center of town….. great.
We bribed the stable boy to tell us who the owners of the horse were and what room they were staying in. White sisters. I think Keil broke his brain a little. We got the room they were staying in from the stable boy and went to pay a neighborly visit. Yep. White sisters. The robes, the symbols, various books and other paraphernalia…… everything except the women. Further investigation reveals that they haven’t been here for a while. According to the innkeeper (bribes) they showed up, paid for a week in the best room, slept and left.
We speak amongst ourselves, and Keil hates the conclusion we come to. QM is probably right, these are likely sisters of gloombringer. They have the weapon, they would want the chains removed as badly as we. Unlike us they probably have the means to do so. The church of darkness loves to undermine the church of light: LITERALLY. There are tunnels that run beneath the town, likely directly under the shrine of Aerina. Keil mutters profanities under his breath as I begin finding the tunnel entrances.
With my earth sense it is an easy venture. We do not get lost and find our way to the center of the city… just about 30 meters below it. A dark ritual is taking place, 4 women (apparently attractive from Keils response) are on their knees before an altar bearing the chain-wrapped weapon. Around the altar a creature manifests. A lizard like monster whose neck appears to be made of hundreds of malformed human heads. They scream and yell, opening their mouths only to have other screaming heads burst from their mouths. I recognize this and tell the others: this is a Fiend of Knowledge, and a powerful one.
No one is happy to hear that it is a fiend, and the debate on whether or not we should fight or run begins. Keil wants nothing to do with this, he assumes the fiend will destroy all of us if we rush the circle. Kolkrin is concerned with his mission as an emissary. He was originally sent as a go between between his people and the southern kingdoms. The grollen need aid and if he dies he cannot bring it. I take charge and tell him to leave. Keil is relieved. I tell Keil that I’m going in, that weapon was crafted by my God: I’m not giving to the Orrish.
Keil bangs his head against a wall and in a pained voice asks me what the plan is.I tell him we shoot, then I charge, then he keeps shooting while I get stabbed. If we kill enough of them their ritual should stop. Kolkrin pull out a bottle. “I bought this ages ago…. I thought to sell it later, but I think I’d rather share a drink with you before I go.” We share a bottle of fine whiskey from the Ruary Brewery, about half of it I’d say. Kolkrin says he will fire a shot from his bow before he goes back to his people.
We aim together. 1 woman dies and another is injured. Kolkrin heads out, I head in. Keil continues to grab from the ground the crossbows I normally carry on my back. As I enter I feel the presence of the fiend imposing on my mind. Keil kills the wounded one as she stabs at me, forcing me to use my shield. The weapons they wield match the wounds from the men I investigated at the earlier site, I am unwilling to take a blow from them.
The other 2 strike like mad, faster than I can use my shield. A blade enters my thigh on the right side and pain flares, burning and searing til I can barely use my leg. I block the other woman’s attack as Keile burys a heavy crossbow bolt into the chest of the woman who struck me. Barely clinging to consciousness I was unable to stop the next attack from the remaining woman who thrust her knife over my shield and hit on the shoulder between my collarbone and shoulder blade, miraculously missing my heart. The poison spread immediately: I fell into darkness, seeing the awkwardly familiar realm of the dead.
I was not conscious for this, but from what I have been told: Keil pulled the last loaded crossbow up and aimed that the woman who now stood over me ready to ensure the kill. Keil asked her if her life was worth taking mine as he leveled the crossbow. She stopped, then submitted to him. He entered the circle, fighting the fiends presence, and tied her up. Apparently she claimed to be desperate and looking for a way out of unholy order…..