- Taryn once again found himself in his recurring dream of a card game between himself, his patron Olidammara, and an entity he is sure was a representation of death. As the game progressed, Taryn began to fair better, ultimately playing cards that ended the game in flames. All that remained was a single, glowing crystal. As he tossed Taryn the crystal, Olidamarra once again told him that he had, in fact, done all he could for him - but his tone this time was more bemused than grave.
- The group met downstairs for breakfast and discussed how to proceed. They talked with a halfling called Landon a bit about some oddities of the local plant and animal life, and asked Baillin where they might be able to find the elders. The group made their way to the elders' house among the reeds on the western edge of town. As they approached, they saw a pair of figures standing just outside the building: one was a black haired elf, and the other was a young girl in a tattered dress - a girl whom Lily amazingly recognized as a cousin who only would have been 3 or 4 when their family's caravan had been attacked by slavers almost 12 years ago...
- The group discussed for some time exactly what to do next, even using a Divination spell to try to determine the best way forward. They ultimately decided they would use their lyre to repair the city's fractured wall, and then head southeast to the fishing village of Tonler looking for info on the Osada Forest and the secluded elven settlement said to be there.
- Despite evidence of orc raiding on their way down, they found the village of Tonler still mostly at peace. Guards did keep watch on the palisades for orc activity, but they hadn't experienced any direct attacks - though they do suspect an overdue caravan may have fallen victim to them.
- Most of the few that they talked to in the village seemed wary of the forest to the south, and were generally less-than-eager to talk about it. The one elf they encountered told them of the locals' superstition and that he had spent some time in the forest and did find it a little..."off". While he didn't have much specific information on the elven settlement, he did mention that, despite their denials, the two elders of the town were commonly rumored to be from it.
- Lily continued distracting/entertaining the people outside. As she moved up onto the steps of the tavern's porch, she became aware of the shouting coming from the argument inside. Giving looks to her companions, Ravina and Tyrrox made their way closer to the building.
- As their conversation with Respina concluded, Kael mentioned to her that he and his friends were needing to leave the city. She seemed surprised and a little concerned by this, but advised them that, if that was their intent, they should probably leave sooner rather than later. Taryn gestured to the unfolding altercation between the thugs and the tavern owner behind him, and told Respina that the man was part of a cult that had been causing trouble for the city - all the way back to the incident at the Festival of Thorns. She asked whether he should be taken into custody, but Kael said he would follow them to see where they went.
- When the argument in the tavern finally came to a head, the thug made some threats, flipped over some tables, and stormed out. Joining the man on the porch, the three of them headed away from the area. Kael and Tyrrox followed them to another tavern near the docks called the Siren's Cask. After a few minutes, they followed them inside, but didn't see any of them within the small establishment. They had a brief conversation with the gruff bartender before rejoining their companions to decide what to do next...
- On his way to meet the others at the temple where Rothan had awakened, Kael was met by Eliot Jaand of the Watch and told that the Prime wanted to speak with them. She would be at a tavern in the south market district from noon. They should be as inconspicuous as possible. After the group finished talking with Rothan, the decided to go see what this was about.
- While Lily, Ravina, and Tyrrox waited outside in the busy market, Taryn and Kael went into Sasha's Tavern. They made acquaintances with the bartender and the owner herself before Respina arrived. The Watch Prime told them that she had grave concerns: someone was attempting to undermine their efforts to prepare the city for the orc horde. There was a evidence of sabotage in several areas and she was suspicious of the origin of whatever malady had afflicted the Constable and his Second. She was planning to recommend the city be magically sealed but needed someone she could trust to investigate to find the culprits.
- During this conversation, a couple of thugs entered the tavern and began harassing the owner. Taryn noticed what appeared to be the bottom of a Many Eyes, Many Teeth insignia tattooed on the back of one man's neck...
- Rothan had been healed, but was still unconscious. The priest and his guards flew back to the city, and the group decided to continue on through the night.
- As they neared Rolessi the next morning, Tyrrox saw something like the mirage of a signpost and somone sitting by it - though it turned out to be a tree stump. Tyrrox heard someone's voice coming from somewhere.
- Once at the city, they found the gates had been sealed and so needed to traverse to the far side - though they did convince the guards on the wall to pull Rothan over.
- The city seemed to be making preparations for a seige by the orc force, which scouts indicated was moving closer.
- Taryn continued having his strange dream about some kind of card game with his former patron and a mysterious dark entity.
- The group was notified when Rothan awoke. When questioned about what had happened, he told them about arriving in Kelsguard, meeting up with a treacherous man called Aulthust, the portal in the bowels of the keep, and the demonic entities coming through it.
- The group left the keep and returned to the abandoned village, setting up camp for the night in the empty Dark Pine Inn. During the night, they were visited by the strange old woman looking for her son, whom they'd seen at the keep some weeks ago. Kael tried to get her to leave, but she appeared inside his room, near the injured Rothan. Unnerved by the intrusion, Kael called for the others and continued to yell at her to get out.
- The group found a wagon they could use to transport their unconscious patient, and started off toward Rolessi in the rain the next day. When they made camp that night after a hard day, they found that Rothan's corrupted injuries seemed to be worsening. Afraid he wouldn't make it to the city, Kael and Ravina wind-walked to the Temple. Ravina brought one of the priests back while Kael attempted to retrieve horses but found that the gates were being barred and reinforced - and the guards were refusing to open them.
- After arriving, the priest consecrated the area and suggested the use of a magical artifact to concentrate their healing magic to a potency that might be sufficient to clear the cursed wound. As they began, however, they found themselves attacked by demons, and the writhing wound itself seemed to be resist their efforts. The ritual was ultimately successful, healing the corrupted wound and bleaching everything in the area a brilliant white.
- Having fought off the attacking sigil and eventually dispelling it, the group passed through the door and descended into a round chamber connecting three large tunnels and containing a misshapen arch they believed was probably the former portal to Ver'Sheole. In addition, they found a large demon corpses, and a living and possibly conscious but completely unresponsive Aegis Rothan - a man that had disappeared from Igveston months ago.
- As the group tried to bring Rothan out of his stupor, they became aware of a number of lesser demons converging on their location. They closed what doorways they could, and carried Aegis back up into the keep.
- Noting some supernatural wounds that resisted healing, the group decided they needed to get Rothan back to Rolessi - for healing and, hopefully, answers...
- The next morning, the Watch Prime came to escort them to the White Hall. Once there, they met again with Mayor Dale and Lord Magnar as well as a couple of the Talonwings who had recently returned from a scouting mission. After reports were exchanged, the Mayor asked if the group had any particular advice with respect to where to focus their energies. While the party admitted the rise in recent violent crime was troubling, they felt that ensuring the city was as prepared as it could be to deal with the orc horde was the most critical concern.
- The group then went to the Iron Hall to speak with the assassin they'd captured after the previous night's ambush. He didn't have much info for them, other than to say that they had been hired by someone called Black Shade specifically to kill them - and that he expected additional attempts soon.
- Meanwhile, Kael had received a letter from an elder in the elven settlement of Velgrin detailing a past relationship and a clue as to the possible whereabouts of Kael's father. Kael told the group he would be pursuing this lead, as it was his reason for being in the region in the first place. Lily, however, saw another troubling aspect to the letter: it mentioned a great "mother tree" with large, reddish, 7-pointed leaves. Leaves identical to the one the pixie had shown her which was starting to become brown and brittle. If the corruption was also in the south forest, that would suggest it was nearly everywhere.
- Feeling there might be some connection between Ver'Sheole, the events at Saint Orvusk, and what they first encountered at Fort Kelsguard, the group decided to return to the latter. Within the bowels of the keep, they found a green, glowing icon of a two-headed serpentine creature shimmering before an iron door. As they approached, the walls around them began to crack and decay, and, just before it lashed out at them, they heard its words: "My power is growing"...
- On their way back to the inn from the White Hall, the group quickly found themselves under attack on a street in the Shops District by a coordinated force of assassins. The resulting skirmish was brief and intense, but they managed to stay on top long enough to outlast their assailants. When representatives of the Watch arrived and inquired as to what had happened, the group explained the situation. One of the attackers that was alive but had been knocked unconscious was taken into their custody.
- The group continued back to the inn where they asked the innkeeper who had delivered the message Ravina had received. The innkeeper told them it was one of the city couriers who usually worked for House Magnar.
- The group split up in the gallery and spoke to a few others present, including the Watch Second Wencia Naldibar, and Osiris Knell, a resident wizard. Also in attendance were a few nobles they recognized, including a young man who has a beef with Kael over his interest a certain member of House Barens, and a woman they'd seen acting strangely at the Magnar City Social earlier in the year.
- When the hearing concluded, the group met up outside the gallery where they were approached by Heglan Foula, one of the nobles in opposition to Julius Nevarg's push for increased internal focus. He offered the party a substantial sum to "investigate" House Nevarg in search of conflicts-of-interest that might call into question the house's motivations.
- Meanwhile, Lily had been "called" back into the darkened gallery by a pixie who came to ask her about what she and her companions did up at the monestary at Saint Orvusk. He told her that their actions had had some effect on the ongoing corruption, but that it wouldn't be enough to prevent its worsening.
- The group then left the White Hall and headed back to the Baron's Tower to ask the innkeeper about who had given him the false message when they suddenly found themselves under attack...
- Kael and Ravina went to the Temple of the Golden Sun to report the situation at Saint Orvusk to the clergy there. The priest they spoke to was a little confused about their reports of Orvusk's grave being broken into because, he told them, Warult Orvusk was buried there in Rolessi.
- Lily returned to House Dyn'Talor to request they send a message to their members in Igveston about the growing orc problem, and they had a short conversation about the fey of the Charothi Forest.
- Later, the group received a message from Tyless Vallane requesting their presence at the ongoing hearings at the White Hall that night. The hearings were a part of the continuing debate between where enforcement resources should be allocated: within the city where violent crime was rising, or focused outward where reports of orc activity had people on-edge. When they met up with Tyless Vallane in the gallery, however, he told them he hadn't written the message and wondered what duplicitous entity wanted them at the White Hall...
- After a brief conversation with the captain of the military caravan, the party contined back to Rolessi. There, they split up and made reports about the gathering orc horde to Kael's contact at the House Vallane Adventurer's Guild, the Watch Prime, as well as Mayor Dale and Lord Magnar. Overall their reports seemed to be believed, but questions remained...
- The group descended to the fleeing caravan and engaged the orcs and monstrous wolves attacking it. They were just starting to gain the advantage when one of the orcs, apparently a druid, turned into a massive bear and toppled one of the wagons. The group managed to fight off the bear and the remaining orcs, allowing the remaining wagon to continue toward Rolessi.
- The following morning, the group had left Igveston and was travelling toward Rolessi when they spotted smoke rising some distances to the south. Knowing they were seeking signs of the orcs they'd been told were massing in the region, they decided to detour and investigate.
- Upon reaching the locale, they found a massive orcish encampment on the borders of the Charothi Forest, spilling onto the western Cyrran Plains some miles east of the village of Etteseph. Among the orcs they found ogres, monstrous vultures, and signs of seige weapon construction. Perhaps most interestingly, they found that the horde seemed to be commanded by a group of hobgoblins who themselves were lead by a human. Using his ethereal ability, Kael entered the commander's tent and saw a dwarf there he recognized from the Magnar City Social some weeks previous.
- Having attainted this intelligence, the group left for Rolessi. Travelling eastward across the plains, they came upon a small detachment of the Reaches Military being harassed by orcs and monstrous wolves...
- The party regrouped and decided they would make their way back to Rolessi. Figuring that Igveston was on the way back to the larger city, the decided to stop in and have a drink at the Laughing Jack - and to take a look around to see if there were any further signs of disturbance there.
- They spent some time talking with Jack about recent goings on, and learned that overall things were calmer than they had been. Taryn asked Jack about some divine "issues", Kael danced to the amateur musician playing that evening, Ravina played cards with some locals, Tyrrox met up with some old buddies from the Briglau House Guard, and Lily made her way to the Magus Academy to check in on Valthious.
- Despite the overall urgency of their present situation, the group realized they were all pretty tired (and that Kael was pretty drunk) and so decided to go ahead and stay the night in Igveston and head home in the morning. That night, Taryn once more found himself in a dream he's been having more and more frequently - a revisiting of the afterlife...
- While Lily and Taryn inspected the dagger they'd found in the abbot's back, Kael, Ravina, and Tyrrox descended into the catacombs. There they found the bodies a few orcs and hobgoblins and a number of scattered bones decorated with golden runes.
- Meanwhile, Lily and Taryn heard a banging sound which they traced to a set of large double-doors that had the familiar eye-tooth symbol painted over them. When they called out to whatever was inside, the pair received a two-word reply: "save us".
- Scouting ahead, Kael descended to the bottom of the crypt, where he found more bodies and a group of five glowing, skeletal guardians positioned near one of the far tombs that had apparently been broken open. The whispered chant they'd been hearing seemed to be coming from these beings.
- Taryn pulled the door open. On the other side they found a large meeting or dining hall containing dozens or hundreds more bodies, all of it shouded in a thick, ghostly mist. The distressed spirits of the deceased seemed trapped and confused. Taryn and Lily performed a kind of musical 'last rites' for them, and felt the ghostly presence fade from the room.
- Having decided not to engage the skeletons without their companions, Kael, Ravina, and Tyrrox made their way back into the monestery. After some discussion, the group decided to head to a library they'd found while searching the place. While Lily and Taryn spent some time learning about the history of the place and the saint for whom it was named, Kael, Tyrrox, and Ravina took one of the volumes recording who was interred into the catacombs and returned to them, trying to determine who might be buried in the far tomb. As they examined the grave sites, they heard growing whispers and something scraping against the stone drawing near...
- Standing over Lily as she climbed out of the blood pool was a massive stone giant, accusing her of the evil twisting the place. He called down magical fire upon her as well as the ghosts and bodies, banishing the corrupted spectres and sending Lily diving for cover.
- Ravina and Kael made their way back to the courtyard to see if they could find Lily. Taryn and Tyrrox were still upstairs in the abbot's chambers when his ghost appeared - unmoving and floating over his body slumped over his desk. They spoke to it and it answered, but they couldn't understand it. When it made no aggressive move, they looked at the dagger in his back, noting that it bore a symbol of Many Eyes, Many Teeth.
Back in the courtyard, Lily attempted to convince the giant that she and her friends were not responsible for the state of the place as he pressed his attacks - eventually convincing him to stop. After a final threat, he and the two other giants that arrived began burning the blood and bodies - turning the entire courtyard into an inferno.
- Once the fire burned out and the giants left, the group discussed what they had seen and tried to piece together what happened here. Making their way to the broken-down door leading into the catacombs beneath the monestary, Lily heard a voice echoing up from it: "The sacred ground has been broken, and now the living must return to it."
- As the voice echoed through the stone courtyard, red lightening began to arc from the floating ghost to several of the bodies, which seemingly spawned horrifically corrupted ghostly creatures which floated, oozed, and clawed their way toward them. Taryn, Ravina, and Tyrrox headed deeper into the settlement after Kael, who was following the trail of blood.
- In the uppermost room, the group found a sigil oozing blood and burning brightly on the wall. Its potency was so great that even looking at it was difficult and disorenting. With some guidance from Taryn, Tyrrox was able to enter the room and smash through it - disrupting its magic but producing powerful electrical discharges and a gush of blood.
- Meanwhile, Lily found herself in a room of complete darkness with a pair of voices asking her who she was and what she wanted. The voices spoke some form of ancient draconic and identified themselves as a "great serpent". They didn't get far in the conversation, howevern when she suddenly found herself submerged in blood. Swimming up and out, she found herself back in the (relative) bright light of the Saint Orvusk courtyard, with a booming voice demanding answers of her...
- The group continued away from the forest up into the mountains. As they approached the settlement, they began to discover signs of violence. When they reached the monestary, they found it littered with bodies.
- They noticed a pool of still-liquid blood standing in the area, with streams connecting to most of the bodies in a somewhat odd fashion. As they investigated, ghosts of some of the dead monks and townsfolk began to appear - obviously maddened.
- As the ghosts attacked, the party reacted. Ravina was able to turn several of the ghosts, and Tyrrox managed to obliterate another's manifested form. Kael set one of the bodies on fire, resulting in a ghost that burned with ghostly flame. Taryn discovered that by separating a body from the pool of blood, the ghosts would calm.
- Lily then attempted to dispel any magic on the blood, but when her spell completed, she vanished. Also convinced the trailing pool of blood was at the root of the "problem", Kael took off into the monestary, following the "trail" to see where it led.
- Back in the courtyard, Taryn, Ravina, and Tyrrox were still dealing with a couple of lingering ghosts when they heard a booming voice from above them...
- The group resupplied and headed out of Rolessi to the woodlands to the west using Ravina's Wind Walk spell.
- The Charothi Forest is old, thick and has a very heavy canopy, so they weren't able to see much from the air. When they caught sight of a wisp of grey smoke, the descended to investigate, finding a couple of humans breaking camp in the late morning.
- They spoke with the humans - Eddard and Frennel - for some time, and learned that they and two previous traveling companions had been attacked by orcs on their way to Velgrin.
- While they spoke, a number of fey creatures appeared - warning them of a darker threat to which the orcs are merely an overture...
- After camping for the night, the group made it back to Rolessi. Their plan was to see if they could find someone to implement a more permanent solution to the problem at Ver'Sheole and then find some way to move against the growing orc presense.
- Rolessi, however, seemed to be in a state of social and political turmoil. In general, much of the populace seemed to be a little on-edge. The PCs reports of orcs to the west had developed into all sorts of rumors, and several sudden assassinations had made many feel unsafe. The leaders of the city were apparently engaged in heated disagreements about whether the primary focus should be on internal or external problems.
- Lily and Taryn spoke with Lady Wyrra of house Dyn'Talor about the nature of the rift they'd found in the ruined keep and the anti-magic field that was currently containing it. She told them that her house would see what they might be able to learn and hypothesize about possible solutions, but that few would be as capable as they (the PCs) were in actually acting against the forces at work.
- The city had sent out several militia parties to investigate reports of problems in the region - and some had not returned. After some discussion, the group decided they would head to the remote settlement of Saint Orvusk, which had been cut off from outside contact for some weeks amid reports of unusual orc activity...
- Lily, Tyrrox, and Ravina were upstairs battling the hordes of demons rushing out of the previously-sealed room. They were managing to keep most from escaping, but some managed to push their way through.
- Trying to stay focused, Taryn dropped the key and headed deeper into the room - trying to get closer to the rift before triggering the anti-magic effect. He was unexpectedly pursued, however, by a pair of devils that suddenly appeared.
- Kael, meanwhile, played as though he accepted the hezrou's offer for aid in defeating the more powerful demon while he too maneuvered further into the room.
- Fighting broke out between the two most powerful demons in the room, but the most powerful demon present seemed intent only on tempting Kael - presenting him with powerful artifacts and an implicit promise of great power. Taryn, on the other hand, was struggling against the devils to get the orb out of his pack. Seeing Kael less harassed by enemies, he threw his pack to his friend. Kael caught the bag, which interrupted interaction with the demon. Within that brief moment of clarity, he pulled out the orb and shattered it.
- The resulting shockwave plunged the room into darkness as all magical and supernatural effects were extinguished. The group hurriedly withdrew, occasionally being buffeted by demons also escaping.
- Near the surface, they reached the edge of the anti-magic effect. Outside they found a dense magical fog and the distant sounds of battle. As Ravina cast a Wind Walk spell to aid in their flilght from the region, they caught site of the bronze dragon, still very angry at the intrusion...
- After some discussion and further study of Lily's map, the group decided to explore another possible entrance to the dungeon vaults: a secret passage that seemed to originate from another building. After finding that route impassable, they resigned themselves to the "main" entrance and decided to rest for the night. Passing through the streets again the next morning, they found them thick with an unnatural fog and could hear the sounds of some commotion in the distance - at least some of which was certainly the dragon.
- The plan for the dungeon vaults was this: they would break the seal and fight off the demons just long enough for someone to get near the rift and shatter their anti-magic orb (an object they'd picked up back in the horde of the dragon they'd fought in Velgrin) - believing that rift to be the source of the "wrongness" and hoping that the anti-magic field would seal it up at least for a while. They would then do their best to flee on foot until they escaped the magic-void area and could use spells and magical equipment to enhance their escape - hopefully avoding the dragon. They would then return to civilization and tell others what they'd found and what they'd done, and advise them that they had no way of knowing how temporary or permanent their "solution" might be.
- The warding seal on the vaults seemed ready to give and it collapsed immediately on contact with Lily's Dispel Magic spell. The door itself unexpectedly disintegrated, and demons began pouring out - though most seemed more interested in escape than combat. While Lily, Tyrrox, and Ravina fought with the fleeing hordes, Kael and Taryn fought their way down to the dungeons below. There, Taryn found himself with a familiar red key and a mental nudge toward the malfunctioning portal, and Kael was addressed by a Hezrou telling him he would need its help to destroy the Glabrezu now approaching them...
- Though they could still hear the pounding of the dragon above them, the group decided Lily should cast her Legend Lore spell to learn more about the place they've found themselves in. In so doing, they learned that the deep interior of this keep was once the lair of Lochthuun, the legendary hydra, and that its death apparently tore open a rift into the lower planes which was the origin of the contaminating evil of the region.
- Deciding they needed to see what was actually going on in the dungeons below, Kael activated the ethereal ability of his armor and passed through the door. On the other side, he found several dozen demons, a malfunctioning portal, and the abyssal rift floating above the perfectly-preserved body of a massive hydra. The group now needs to decide what to do about the situation to prevent the situation from worsening and to keep the cult from abusing it...
- As the Mafka zealots launched their attack and the roaring creatured bellowed from outside, Ravina began her spell to de-petrify the goblin leader. As the creature's warnings grew closer and more angry, the zealots retreated. Ravina completed her spell and managed to restore the goblin chief to life, though he was not too happy to see his saviors. As the building shook, they all moved further into the structure away from whatever was outside.
- The goblin chief stopped his aggression against the group, but insisted they part ways. At Lily's convincing, he indicated the way toward what the goblins called the "Deep Evil" - which was down in the lower dungeons and vaults of the keep. They made their way down, hearing the furious pounding overhead, and found a sealed door bearing an evil, pulsing rune...
- The group awoke to find themselves surrounded by goblins. They were approached by one of them - Tofkag - who turned out to be the leader of one splinter of a local tribe. In exchange for their help in de-petrifying their leader, they told the PCs they would lead them to the keep by ways that would avoid the more hostile goblin factions. They spoke with Tofkag for some time about his tribe, the keep, and the "Deep Evil" he said dwelled beneath it.
- Making it to the keep the following day, they made their way into the ruin. Within the CourtHall of the primary tower, they found the statue of the former leader of the goblin tribe - as well as some of the Mafka zealots Tofkag had warned them about. The altercation was only beginning when the building was shaken by a tremendous roar from overhead...
- After a considerable conversation, the rest of the party managed to convince Taryn that going after the Orb was too dangerous and put the rest of their mssion in jeaopardy - though Tyrrox tended to think they could defeat the goblns.
- The group continued northward to the Navlin forest - a cool, pine-covered region leading into the foothills of the Elmhine mountains. Inside they found the slaughter of a village of some kind of humanoid mushroom race and had a run-in with some territorial canine humanoids. Deeper still, they found that the forest was corrupted and diseased, and they began encountering bloated, corrupted, undead, and unusually aggressve animals.
- On the far side of the forest, the group located the old elven road up into the mountains that would take them to Ver'Sheole. As they climbed, they found evidence of several recently-used humanoid camp sites and even caught site of someone else on the road.
- Near the top, as they pressed on into the night, the group was ambushed by a goblin warband, which they managed to fight off.
GM's Note: This session had two pretty serious combat encounters, and I was very entertained by how much terrain factored into both of them, as well as the previous river-ambush encounter. We also did an interesting encounter-setup-contest between the PCs and the opposing force for one of them to determine who started with the high ground and prep time.
- The group fought with the goblins on the high bank and the monstrous elder water elemental that had appeared in their midst. The tactical advantage the goblins had proved to be very effectve, and the tide of the combat didn't turn until Taryn pulled out his orb and used its powerful breath weapon.
- It was then that the sole surviving goblin in its area - a spellcaster of some apparent power - took notice. Using a potent stunning spell, he froze Taryn, took the orb from his hands, and disappeared into the grasslands before any of the others were aware of what had happened.
- Now deprived of his second source of power, when he came to the panicked Taryn insisted that they follow the thief. Kael quickly found that the trail suddenly vanished a few hundred feet from the site of the encounter, however. The group interrogated one of the subdued goblins and found that the spellcaster, called Akrisk, had taken over their tribe some months ago - though he couldn't tell them much about his abilities. After releasng him, the group tailed him back to his warren - Ravina's divination having suggested this would be the best way to recover the artifact. There they found a large triibe inhabiting a cavernous hollow in the ground in a small, hilly region of the grasslands...
GM's Note: Ever since Taryn had found that Orb of Dragonkind and I ruled it had actually be held for some of ts abilities to be used, I have been mindful every time he uses it. Sooner or later, I knew that something smart enough to recogniize its power would take interest and try to deprive him of it. As this particular NPC spellcaster was very powerful, I knew if he saw it, he would make a play for it - and I'd given him a couple of spells that would give him a shot. Even so, several things had to go just right for him to be able to pull it off - and I didn't expect it to actually work. So now the players are on a little detour from their time-sensitive misson, and they're having interesting coversations about how and whether to try to get it back.
- Lily had a conversation with the innkeeper Helia, giving her a few more details than they'd told most of the townsfolk. She also asked if anyone unusual had been through town, and after talking to a local farmer, they discovered that someone matchng the description of the missing Aegus Rothan had been seen several months ago.
- Using some magic from Ravina and Kael's sense of direction, the group headed north toward the Navlin Forest and the road into the Elmhine Mountains that would lead them to the abandoned Ver'Sheole keep. The river, however, kept pushing them further west, and they eventually decided to cross at a ford, where they found themselves ambushed by goblins...
- As the group left the library, they found a young elven woman weeping at a run-down shrine originally devoted to Corellon Larethian. As Lily engaged in conversation with her, it became increasingly clear that something was wrong with her. The woman became increasingly agitated, and apparently reached a breaking point when an unearthly shriek came out of her. The sound was loud enough to vibrate the surrounding structures - and attract the attention of the bebilith that had entered the Courthall.
- Lily attempted to ignite the webs the spider-demon had constructed across the street, but found that they would not burn well. The party had just begun hacking their way through when the spider burst through the large, half-open doors of the building. Kael fired arrows and Lily summoned a celestial creature to distract the monster as they made their escape.
- Back in town, the group rested at the inn and told the townsfolk some of what they found at the keep on the hill. Most were troubled at the news, but few seemed surprised. Taryn had another chat with a strange but familiar swordsman, and Lily also was visited by a strange old woman whom she later decided must have been the hag she and her friends had encountered when the first arrived in the region. Apparently she came to tell them that orcs were massing in the western corners of the area, organized by something claiming an eye/tooth symbol...
This game has been going for a while, and I found it very satisfying to (finally) get to bring in a hook from all the way back at the start of the campaign. This narrative thread was so old that we've added 2 players to the group since it was on-screen. When the PCs had spared this hag and saved her "pet" hydra, she told them she would not forget their kindness - and has now made good on that by alerting them to a growing problem they otherwise had no way of knowing about.
- Though wearing down quickly, the group continued the fight against the demons until their leader noticed the monstrous demonic spider trying to gain entry to the hall - at which point it fled and its remaining lackies went with it.
- After taking a moment to regain their strength, the party decided they would make a search of this main structure of the keep. Its upper floors contained the bodies of quite a few dead demons, the most of which were piled before the door of a small study. Having discovered there was someone inside, they had a brief conversation through the locked door before he vanished. It wasn't until later that Lily realized who it was: Aulthust, the marked man.
- The group picked the lock and searched through the room, finding that the man was apparently concerned with books on elven lore and history and something pertaining to a dwarven settlement - and they learned a few tidbits from the open books they found and decided they would head to the keep's library. There they found more info about the keep they're heading to - Ver'Sheole - and saw more evidence of Aulthust's search for information on a place called Ur'Galek...
- Unable to trace the tattooed man (suspecting he was an illusion) and aware that demons in the streets around them were closing in, they made the decision to smash their way through a window of the large, central building.
- Once in position, Tyrrox shattered the glass and metal of the window and everyone scrambled up and through it. Though their efforts were well coordinated, they soon found themselves under attack and pressed between a gang of demons from inside the building, and the monstrous, demonic spider from outside...
- The party gathered themselves together and made their way deeper into the keep. They found the central building structure - likely the lord's manor and court they were seeking. Between them and the entrance, however, was a great deal of webbing they believed was probably from the massive demonic spider Lily had seen earlier. From the attic of a nearby tavern, they were able to get a slighly better view of the area. They were deciding whether to go through the webs, traverse the rooftops over them, or smash their way through one of the high windows when they caught sight of someone moving in the abandoned city: a tall man with a curling tattoo of a two-headed dragon on his face...
- The group was continuing its struggle against the Gelugon and its Bone Devil minions when a small horde of Babau demons were alerted to the situation. Taryn had managed to distract and anger the ice fiend - which was both good and bad. As the Babau rushed in, the Gelugon once more blasted the entire area with a wave of frost, further wearing down the already-battered PCs and the demons alike. The PCs collectively decided to let the mortal enemy fiends take out each other while they disengaged.
- Unfortunately, the injured Kael found himself pinned down against one of the buildings in the street as the fight between the outsiders raged around him. Taking aim at the Gelugon's head, fortune smiled on the desperate ranger - giving him a perfect shot that felled the devil. As it exploded into shards of ice, the Babau horde chased after the remaining Bone Devils, leaving the PCs alone on the frozen streets...
- As the group proceeded deeper into the fort, Kael found a town-square area that contained a fountain - all of it frozen over with a thick layer of ice. The bodies of dozens of devils and other monstrous humanoid creatures littered the ground. There was a sudden tremor and a red, electric glow "awakened" the ice devil lying in a far corner, which then summoned several more fiends to its aid.
- The group struggled to reunite and coordinate its efforts against this threat, but a building collapse resulted in something of a bottleneck in the street. Ravina was KO'd attempting to keep the creature from concentrating its attacks on the injured Kael, Lily is having some difficulty getting into position, and Tyrrox has been tied up with a pair of bone devils. The gelugon has proved itself a formidable opponent, and while the acid breath from Taryn's orb was effective, the ice devil returned in kind with a blast of frigid air...
The battle continues...
- After fighting off the orcs, the group stayed the night at the Darkpine Inn as local celebrities. The next day they made their way into the pine forest and up to the sealed keep. The forest was unnaturally dark, devoid of animal life, and host to shadowy beings that lingered just at the edge of their perception.
- Upon arriving at the keep's walls, they found that the doors of the gate had been broken but wedged back in place, and that something had gouged abyssal words into the stone wall. Lily was able to read the writing, but when she tried to tell Kael what it said, something began to affect her mind or perception. Believing him to be a threat, Lily attacked Kael - stabbing him with her sword. As the others attempted to discern what was happening and talk her down, she appeared more and more disconnected from the present situation. An enchantment-breaking spell from Ravina eventually returned her completely to them.
- Meanwhile, Taryn had found a way into the keep. Climbing a tree that had fallen against the wall, the group was able to easily bypass the gate and the 15' wall it was set in. Once inside, they found the streets littered with half-completed statues of people (which they suspect may be victims of some unusual petrification effect) and the dead bodies of several devils. The only living thing they encountered was a senile old woman who didn't seem to know much about what was going on.
- After the old woman wandered off, the group decided to press further in, searching for the lord's manor...
- The party continued to engage them undead leaders as the orc horde descended upon the village. Some well-placed blows, a summoning spell, entangling vegetation, and a breath weapon kept the raiders from reaching the town and sent them fleeing back into the wilderness.
- After the battle, Taryn once again noticed a strange flash in the dragon orb he had been carrying - it was accompanied this time by a voice and a summons. What he found when he answered was a sort of meeting place for the current owners of the orbs - though this was not at all to say they were "friends".
- One of the villagers did give them a bit more info about the keep - but mostly they weren't sure what was going on. The keep had suddenly ceased opening its gates and no human sounds are heard coming from within. The darkness that has settled upon the pine forest has kept most of the villagers away from it.
- As the party continued more earnestly engaged the raiders, they found the two lead orcs to be a considerable challenge. By the time the rest of the band was reaching the village, only one of the wolves had been killed. Lily sent a sonic bolt through the remaining wolf and its orc rider. The stroke felled the latter, but then that a strange, red static seemed to pull it back up from the ground, it's eyes glowing bright as arcs of brilliant red electricity shot between the tall spires of the keep on the hill behind them...
- The group was talking a bit more with the locals - trying to get a feel for the village and whatever is going on there - when they suddenly found themselves under attack by some raiding orcs from the plains to the west, and by shadows from the pine forest at the edge of town...
- Having discussed their next move, the party made plans to seek out the keep called Ver'Sheole: if Many Eyes, Many Teeth had interest in the location, they wanted to reach it before the cult did.
- They consulted with Tyless Vallane again about what the House Vallane Adventurers' Guild knew about Ver'Sheole, which, unfortunately, wasn't much. It was an elven keep located in a pass up in the Elmhine Mountains that has long been abandoned. An old "road" leading up and out of the Navlin Forest should take you to the keep if you can find it.
- Tyless was a bit more help in planning their route, however, knowing more about the Reaches than any in the party. He told them the fastest way would likely be to go north through the town of Blosam and then east to the Navlin Forest and the mountains, but, he said, if they took a slightly longer route through Fort Kelsguard, they might be able to find useful information in its library. Feeling like they might need more info to find the place, they opted for the latter option.
- On the way to Kelsguard, the party found the remains of a wagon and the bodies of two men apparently attacked by orcs. Tyrrox happened to notice a letter among the tattered clothing of one of the men - it was addressed to the constable at Rolessi and detailed a call for help from Fort Kelsguard, saying that the keep had cut itself off from the village outside and that they suspected their paranoid ruler had finally gone mad.
- They arrived at the village of Kelsguard just after dusk and made their way to the only establishment that seemed to contain any activity - a reasonably-sized inn called Darkpine run by a somewhat cantankerous woman by the name of Helia Twill. Lily did a good job of presenting the party to the suspicious strangers in the best possible light, but while Helia did tell them that something was certainly wrong, she refused to go into any detail. Instead, she told them that if they wanted to find out what was going on, they needed to go to the keep and look for themselves...
- Tyrrox brought the nearly-unconscious Eliot Jaand to the watch-captain Wencia, who was sure that he'd been drugged. She asked Tyrrox some questions about the situation and was alarmed at the mention of demons.
- Taryn caught up with the woman in the purple dress talking in an alcove with a dwarf. He heard parts of their conversation, including mention of Malefes, some sort of deal, and an elven keep in the eastern mountains called Ver'Sheole. Tyless Vallane later brought up this name again, and wondered if it was another designation for the same keep Taryn had been researching.
- Lilly spoke to Lord Magnar about the magical mark on the floor of the hall, which turned out to be the symbol of Many Eyes, Many Teeth. She suspected a woman in a yellow dress as the source of the mark, and was able to learn that she seemed to be connected to lesser-noble house of Nevarg.
- Fredrick Thullus of the Reaches Arms approached Taryn, Tyrrox, and Kebrand Brightwinter about some help the House Vallane Adventurers' Guild could be to him. Apparently a contact of his at House Briglau in Igveston had news of increased orc activity and an intentional rock-slide bearing the eye-tooth mark.
- As Lily was beginning her performance, Taryn found his way into the library where he spotted a woman in a dark purple dress apparently stealing a book from the library. He did his best to apprehend her, but some confusion with the guards and some subtle magic allowed her to slip away and he lost her in the crowds outside.
- Lily noticed some unusual activity from the stage involving a woman in a bright yellow dress, who was apparently leaving the party as she was finishing her set with Julius Nevarg. As they neared the exist, she saw a young woman in a dark purple dress approach and hand her something. She also saw Taryn apparently searching urgently for someone or something - and he was a cloaked in shadow, meaning he had activated one of his more potent magic items.
- Meanwhile, a fight broke out near Tyrrox between a dwarf and a drunk, and he spotted two men escorting an apparently-drunk guardsman out of the hall. When he approached he was able to see the that guard was more dazed than drunk and so intervened. The two men made it into the hall outside before Tyrrox caught up with them and, when pressed, revealed themselves to be quasits and flew away - causing a small amount of commotion with the nearby guards.
- After spotting some strange marks appearing on the floor, Kael - who'd previously been enjoying the evening with Gella Barens (a young noblewoman he'd met in Igveston) - began to get a hunch that something was wrong. He met up with Lily as they approached the Balcony where Taryn was scanning the room for his quarry...
[Keara] Ravina - Dwarven cleric of Moradin
- Six months after the attack at the Festival of Thorns, the PCs find themselves invited to the Magnar City Social - a yearly gathering of the nobility and honored guests - for their efforts in stopping the rampaging beast and the subsequent investigations into the activity of the cult known as Many Eyes, Many Teeth.
- Lily and Tyrrox were greeted as local celebrities, Ravina chatted about her home city with a dwarven jeweler called Pierless Gray, Kael ran into an old friend, and Taryn spoke with some of Dyn'Talor's court, a man concerned with Magnar's defense of the city, and Tyless Vallane, who told him a particular book Taryn was looking for might be found in the Magnars' library.
- Several groups of NPCs present managed to hold off the demon hordes long enough for the group to engage and defeat the massive, half-demon hydra and close the portal in an epic battle. Taryn was slain in the fighting, however, and the number of other casualities is as yet unknown.
End Chapter Two
- While the group was still investigating the safehouse they'd found, a local street gang arrived and attempted to give them some trouble. They failed.
- The group learned from the gang's leader that a man called Dralt seemed to be behind a few recent incidents. Dralt told his gang to "take care of" anyone messing with this house.
- The group returned to the main part of the city and met with Respina, the Watch Prime. During the conversation, the group Many Eyes, Many Teeth came up. The Watch was aware of a gang that used that symbol (and that they'd been responsible for some festival vandalism in previous years), but didn't know anything that made this group any different than any other group of troublemakers.
- The next day, the final processions began with Tyrrox playing the part of Cyrus Thorn (an honor he'd won by winning the tournament). Lily found Gable Magnar at a table with Phicious Vallane and, having finally cornered him, found out a bit about his previous association with Many Eyes, Many Teeth.
- They were still talking when "Cyrus" and the illusory hydra representing Lockthuun arrived in the town circle. People were beginning to crowd the area, anxiously anticipating the final drama and the banquet to follow. When the hydra reached the top of the hill, however, it winked out of existence. There, a gate opened and out came a massive, demonic hyda - all too real.
- The group spent the evening partying and celebrating the victory, though Lily left a bit earlier than the others.
- The second day of the festival was a massive collection of street parties characterized by large amounts of inexpensive food and drink and accented by flashy illusions.
- During the festivities, the group noticed certain individuals contaminating the drinks of the party-goers. These seemed to coincide with unexplained bursts of anger and street brawls. The helped to break up the disturbances and relayed what they knew to the Watch.
- The group pursued a couple of the perpetrators, but failed to capture any. They did discover a chest and magic circle in a condemned building in the northwest area of town.
- The Festival of Thorns began. As the first day progressed, the street party became more and more active, but the main attraction was the Knight of Rolessi tournament held that evening.
- Tyrrox entered the tournament, which was an officiated series of duels that were more and more augmented by magical/illusory "special effects" as the rounds progressed. Tyrrox won the tournament, defeating a local half-orc bouncer by a narrow magrin. Due to his victory, he is to play the part of Cyrus Thorn in the upcoming reinactment on the third evening.
- The rest of the party spent most of the day relaxing and enjoying the festival.
- Lily and Tyrrox went to meet with high priestess Heldrith Gedra about recent events and to ask about the Marked Man (whom they'd learned had met with her). She told them that he'd been asking about the nature of 'godhood', specifically how gods ascend and/or fall from godhood.
- Taryn and Kael went to the Black Bottle & talked to a card shark about the fight (which had involved the Marked Man) that had happened a few months previous.
- The party learned from Phicious Vallane that, if they wanted to talke to Gable Magnar (a "black sheep" of House Magnar whom they believe may have had connections to the Marked Man and/or Many Eyes, Many Teeth), their best bet would be at the banquet held on the last night of the Festival of Thorns.
- The group fought off the wyverns and met a man called Xerxes Palias, who was apparently a griffin-rider associated with Rolessi's forces. He invited them back to a place called the Armsyard, which was something like a permanent army encampment / training ground outside the city.
- The group met Anthaan Vallane and Silas Wilhelm there, and the group talked about recent issues and current concerns.
- The party then continued into Rolessi. They met up with Ubrus Marc at the Temple of the Golden Sun. He hadn't seen the Marked Man, but his "friend" at the temple said he'd come to discuss some theological issues a few months back. The party also spoke to the Watch and learned that the Marked Man had been involved in a nasty fight at the Black Bottle, which resulted in three deaths.
- Kael visited the House Vallane Adventurers' Guild and has decided to join it.
- Feeling the time had come to follow their leads toward Rolessi, the group finished up with their immediate concerns in Igveston and set out, leaving some advice to a few in the now politically-unstable settlement.
- They had been following the road south into the night when they came upon a two-headed giant sifting through the remains of what was probably a caravan. They had a brief encounter with its "piggy", and ultimately circumvented the scene rejoining the road further south.
- The party continued travel for another day and a half when they came upon an injured griffon-rider trying to fight off a small group of wyverns...
- After pursuing a couple of individual goals, the party decided to return to Nephrim Keep the following evening, looking for the old man they'd met previously. They didn't find him, but they did find a black cat that turned out to be one of the bird people. She told them that House Meric had instructed her associates to kill all members of House Xerus. Taryn had reason to suspect that they might not all be dead, and the bird woman suggested that perhaps her sister had used "the artifact" to transport them to another plane instead. The party has no particular way to determine where that may have been, however.
- The next day, the group rescued a very intoxicated but alive William Xerus from the dungeons below the burned-out estate - doing so invisibly so as not to attract attention. He was brought to House Dyn'Talor at the Academy as well. After pastries.
- Feeling pressed for time on other fronts, the party decided to leave Igveston in a couple of days.
- Tyrrox was asked to help rebuild morale at House Briglau after the werewolf attack had resulted in the deaths of several important figures. He was later honored with a give from the founder's armory.
- Taryn had a somewhat awkward reuinion with Celia at The Corner House - a dining establishment for very private meetings. She continued to try to convince him to stay in Igveston and became fairly upset, but ultimately resigned to his departure and attempted to enjoy the evening.
- Lily was asked to perform at The Silver Stag (a social club of the nobility of Igveston). She managed to convince the performers' liason that she had very limited time, and he made some drastic cuts in the schedule to fit her in the following night. Lily performed amazingly well, and her fame in the city continues to grow.
- Lily and Tyrrox talk with Valthious who tells them of the difficulties in curing lycanthropy. While they're talking, a bell begins ringing and they go to investigate, seeing many of the guards heading back to House Briglau. They get there in time to stop a wounded werewolf from escaping from the estate - suspecting that it may be guard who was previously feverish.
- Kael and Taryn are with Miala Xerus at her estate, and find that it is on fire and crawling with fire elementals and assassins - one of which was a humaniod bird of some kind. As the three tried to escape the burning keep, the bird-woman managed to stab Miala in the back. There was a green flash and she burst into flames, leaving behind only a few ashes. After this happened, the attackers began to disperse, leaving the keep in flames.
- The party reassembled and discussed what to do next. Valthious is concerned about the political turmoil these recent events will cause. He suggests keeping Tievain's wereabouts and the existance of William a secret. Kael seeks vengeance, and Taryn seems inclined to agree. Lily and Tyrrox however, are still keen to follow the tenuous lead on the "marked man" that they recently discovered.
- The party arrived in Igveston, where they were greated by Alphast awaiting his report on the mine, as well as some of the House Briglau guards were informed Tyrrox that the captain needed his help. Tyrrox and Lily went with the guards, Taryn and Kael went with Alphast.
- Taryn and Kael reported what they knew of the mine, and enjoyed some hospitality at House Alphast
- Tyrrox and Lily learned of some problems at Nephrim Keep and some strange attacks elsewhere in the city - some creature which they were to hunt down.
- As the evening wound down at House Alphast, Miala Xerus interrupted and requested the presence of Taryn and Kael. Once at their estate, she told them that Lord Tievain had been missing.
- While investigating, Lily and Tyrrox were attacked by a beast, which Lily recognized as a werewolf. They eventually brought it down, and, realizing it was a "person", Lily suggested they take it to the Academy (which was nearby) to see about restoring it.
- At House Xerus, Taryn and Kael investigate a wrecked room where Tievain was last known to be. When the absence of signs of struggle prompted Kael to suggest that perhaps Tievain became something, Miala told them of the house's lycanthropic curse.
- Miala, Taryn and Kael were in the dungeons talking about William (who'd been comfortably confined there for his and others' protection). When the were heading back up, they found the house on fire...
- As the group surveyed the mine full of troglodytes, they encountered another trog hunting party returning to the caves. There was a brief skirmish during which one of the trogs yelled to the others that they were under attack.
- A dominant troglodyte figure appeared at the mine entrance telling whoever was out in the woods to leave or be hunted down and devoured by his tribe.
- There was brief, shouting exchange of questions between the party and the troglodypes, during which the tribe came under attack by a giant, black worm-like creature.
- The party decided to assist in killing the beast to aid in parlaying with the trogs.
- After killing the worm, a brief conversation ensued (mostly with a shaman of the tribe called Mikka). The trogs had been lead to the area by the dragon Mishveera and, while they weren't particuarly thrilled about it, they weren't in a position to make the long journey back to their homelands (even if they wanted to).
- The group told them of human interest in the mine and suggested some future bargain could be made, but got no commitment from the trogs who still seemed decidedly unfriendly if not outright hostile.
- The party decided to return to Igveston.
- Paks arrives in Velgrin and meets up with the rest of the party
- The group ties up loose ends in the village and then heads north through the dense, swampy forest toward the site of the mine Reynold Alphast had tasked Taryn with investigating.
- A few miles from the mine, they are attacked by a small troglodyte hunting/ambush party; the group fights them off without too much trouble. Lily spots one running away into the marsh.
- The party arrives at the mine and, from a distance, is able to see that it is now inhabited by an entire tribe of troglodytes.
- The party reunited in Velgrin, each glad to see the others were still alive.
- Lily organized a grand performance of the tale of their defeat of the dragon Mishveerra.
- The group examined the treasured they'd recovered from the dragon's hoard
- Taryn, Kael and Tyrrox were confronted by the leader of a tribe of some sort of amphibious creatures who seemed unhappy with their presence. The group agreed never to return if the creatures assisted them in returning to the surface, though that meant leaving some of the treasure behind.
- From the caverns, Lily found her way into the buried ruin of an ancient elven city. There she was confronted with some bitter elvish ghosts. Lily was able to talk her way out of any hostilities and told them of some recent events. Nearby, she met up with Voru - the great cat they had seen previously - who guided her out of the caverns by way of passages beneath the lake, and into the Charothi Forest to the south.
- On the shore of Lake Eire, Paks met up with Orvia and her force who were pursuing the kobolds, driving them away from the elvin settlement. She cast some blessings upon them and opted to wait at the shore that they may all return to the village once their work was done. When nightfall came, however, they still had not returned...
- Having fended off the kobolds, the party took some time to catch their breath and plotted to confront Mishveerra. Working with a druid and a cleric of the village, they made preparations the following morning to descend to the dragon's lair beneath the island.
- On their way into the depths, they encountered a giant eel-like creature which offered information in exchange for a strong magical item. The party gave it a magical dagger (the one that had been used to kill Elivius Morran) and it warned them of a "dark power" possessed by the human who was with the dragon.
- When they arrived at the bubble that encompassed the lair, they witnessed a gate opening to one of the lower planes and several vrocks came through. As they engaged the vrocks, the dragon attacked them from behind.
- Taryn decided now was the time to use his orb, and successfully dominated the dragon, directing it to enter the portal. When it crossed to the other side, however, his control over it was broken. She called back through to a man called Lurathi. The two agreed to some sort of deal, and the man appeared, shattering a black sphere on the ground just as Mishveerra leapt back through the portal.
- When it broke, the black sphere sent out a shockwave which created a massive anti-magic field.
- As Taryn, Tyrrox and Kael engaged the dragon - now all stripped of any magical or supernatural abilities - Lily chased after Lurathi, who left the bubble and began to swim. She wasn't sure how she did it, but she swam for a great distance, eventually catching up with and killing him in a cavern above the submerged ruins.
- The group just managed to kill Mishveerra, but they are now trapped beneath the lake with no magical aid. Curiously, the clearly supernatural bubble that they occupy has not collapsed, and is only very slowly leaking...
[Steve] Paks - Human Cleric of Pelor
- The party fought off kobolds while Mishveerra stalked Kael
- The dragon caught and attacked Kael, but by way of some considerably luck, he survived while the dragon believed him to be dead.
- Taryn had a brief altercation with the bard in the dragon's lair before swimming out to rejoin the others - with the dragon's crystal ball.
- The party talked with the people of Velgrin, trying to convince them to act against the dragon now that it was wounded. Some seemed to agree, others seemed to think it was too risky.
- Meanwhile, the dragon, knowing Taryn was a cleric, was demanding he heal her - suggesting that he owed her for sparing his life. After some stalling, Taryn did what he could, but when he was unable to repair her eye, she left in a rage.
- The party was preparing the town for an offense against the dragon when she suddenly arrived, demanding the town turn over the "hunter" that had shot her eye. About that time, another scout came running into the gathering circle, reporting that the kobold tribe was, once again, launching an attack against the settlement.
- Not wanting to abandon the town, the party discussed what they could do about the dragon. It seemed unwise to confront it directly. They considered trying to convince it to leave - perhaps with tales of the treasures they had been seeking themselves.
- The party spent the next day looking around the town. Unfortunately, spending so much time in the town, coupled with some particular things Taryn happened to say out loud gave away a certain secret. They had just met a girl called Sedine at a place in the village called the Well of Shadows when the dragon crashed through the canopy and demanded the artifact from Taryn.
- The encounter started with some uncertainty, but, seeing few other options with respect to protecting his companions, Tyrrox began attacking the beast.
- Mishveerra - the dragon - largely ignored all of the PCs except Taryn until a Kael put an arrow through her eye. Worn down, and now significantly injured, the creature decided the advantage was, surprisingly, no longer hers and remaining was a significant risk. She had pinned her quarry to the ground, and so simply took the the air with her prisoner, and soon was out of sight.
- Mishveera dove back into the lake, and swam to her lair beneath the elven village. When Taryn awoke there, he found himself in an air pocket within a large, ruined building with the dragon and two others: a sly-looking human musician, and a stern, elderly elven woman.
- The party left the city of Igveston, heading to the elven settlement Velgrin which is located on a lake bordering the Charothi Forest.
- In the forest, encountered a kobold hunting party which had partially trapped a large feline. Defeated the kobolds and freed the cat, which lead them to a kobold encampment on the lake shore. Bypassed encampment, group was able to activate the "way" to the elven village - a path which rose from the water
- Settlement showed signs of recent damage, and many of the townsfolk seemed nervous or wary. The group learned from a young priested named Sedine that only recently an odd, combined force of kobolds and troglodytes had attacked the village. The elves were overwhelmed, but were saved in the end by a huge green dragon - who has since all but declared herself ruler of the settlement.
- The dragon soon came looking for the party, demanded they present themselves to her, and proceeded to interrogate them as to who they were, where they came from, what they were doing, etc. The party told her they were looking for Kael's father (which wasn't untrue...). The dragon told them they were permitted to remain in the village "for now"...
- Kael found his wolf and a treent (who turned out to be a dwarven druid) fighting cultists in the Banshee's Wood.
- The group met an old, poor man claiming to own Nephrim's estate living in the sewers underneath the keep. The party agreed to, at least mention the case to the local magistrates.
- Once confident the city has itself in order, the group plans to leave Igveston.
- Taryn tried to salvage his date at Hilleston Hall, but was unsuccessful as he was called away.
- Lily exhausted herself fighting rogues and an illusory dragon at Nephrim Keep, holding them off just long enough for Taryn to arrive.
- Tyrrox patroled the Common Quarter for more basilisks, and rejoined the other two as they investigated a concealed passageway beneath the abandoned keep.
- party talked, spent a couple of days pursuing individual angles
- Taryn made preparations and took Celia Rynowen to the Hilleston Ball (as they had agreed). Toward the end of the night, Taryn gets stabbed by the vengeful doppleganger that had taken her place.
- Tyrrox and Kael are accosted by the House Briglau guard as they needed assistance. Found portion of common quarter that was too quiet and full of statues. Encountered a feindish basilisk and evidence that it may have been summoned by the ritual of a few imps.
- Lily totally rocks the house at the Laughing Jack and makes money before she, too, was found by the Briglau guards whereupon she went to investigate some commotion at the Nephrim Keep.
- The party regroups.
- Lily assists with rebuilding the civic district and pursues mysteries surrounding Many Eyes, Many Teeth and the marked man - which she learns is called Aulthust.
- Tyrrox assists House Briglau with training and bolstering their militia - which is now the main military presence in the city. His efforts result in the Caprinae, a sort of brotherhood within the house militia.
- Taryn boosts morale and his pockets, and impresses some locals.
- Kael unwinds and makes a "friend".
- The party talks to Celia - a psychometrist - about the unusual crossbow bolt that was shot at Tyrrox back in Ettaseph. They find out that it was owned by a man called Maff, who seems to be connected to Many Eyes, Many Teeth as well as a group of bandits.
- The group decided to make their way up to the place where they believed the current head of the Academy was being held. When they found her, she suggested they should follow her to where Jekri had gone - to retrieve some kind of artifact that would help him use the Arch.
- The party decide instead to try to find the power source of the machinery, which now seemed to be operating out of control. They found what would have been the power source swarming with Formians, which seemed to be colonizing the upper levels of the Academy. A massive gear portruded from some sort of portal, but it didn't seem to be driving the machinery as much as the machinery was now pushing against it.
- Deducing that the machinery was now powering itself, they followed it back down to the Arch itself, where they found Jekri, the headmistress, and quite a few devils. The arch seemed to be partially powered, but Jekri clearly wasn't happy with its progress.
- The party shattered a kind of spiritual energy repository which was a part of the machinery as the devils and Jekri began to engage them. The portal deactivated and a massive and maddeningly deformed skeleton crashed through the wall of the Academy, collapsing around it.
- Seeing that his plan had failed, Jekri fled the Academy. Reinforcements from House Briglau arrived.
- The next couple of days were spent doing cleanup on the city from the aftermath of these events. Both the Academy and the Hall of Three were significantly damaged, and lost a number of notable leaders.
- Following, the party were guests of honor at a party held by Miala Xerus. The noble houses seem to be gaining prominence in the city.
End Chapter One
- Lily and the others guessed that the key impression in the cover of the book they'd found was made for the key the mephit had given them. When they put it into the book, an opalescent sphere enveloped them for a moment, but the only further effect was the sudden arrival of an ice devil.
- Certain this book was the key (ha!), Lily continued to try to activate it properly while the others held off the devil.
- The party eventually incapacitated the fiend, but, knowing it would soon revive, they decided to flee the library - taking the book with them.
- They eventually found themselves in a relatively secluded room with a large statue of a dragon holding a glass-like green orb. Lily and Kael continued to examine the book, but Taryn was interested in what they'd found. As he approached, the statue spoke, asking him if he desired the orb and warning him that, if he decided he did, it was a decision that could not be reversed. Feeling they needed every edge they could get to combat the current threat, Taryn took it.
- It took both Lily and Kael a few minutes to figure out the book's function, but, when they did, they discovered that placing the attached bookmark in one of the pages (each of which depicted a very specific locale), placing the key in the cover would transport the book and those nearby to the place indicated. Removing the key reversed the effect. In discovering this, they traveled to an ancient dwarven corridor with some sort of distorted or slowed time effect. Inscriptions suggested the place was "waiting" for some divine intervention.
- They studied the book for some time, trying to determine which place the professor they sought (an elf called Valthious) might be in. Ultimately, it was Taryns luck that lead them to him.
- When he realized the group was not sent by Jekri, Valthious was very happy to see them. He was being kept prisoner as and expert on cosomology and the interplay of the planes. Jekri wanted to know if and how the Arch could be weaponized - specifically, made to catasrophically implode.
- Valthious lead the group to a good place to rest - one of the more peaceful locales in the book - and gave them a scroll that could be used to allow their weapons to overcome the resistances of the fiends they faced.
- When the group returned to the Academy, the situation seemed to have worsened. The walls of the tower shook, and an unearthly shrieking could be heard echoing through the halls - over an above the relentless grinding and pounding sounds of infernal machinery...
GMs Note: I'm quite proud of the artifact I created and introduced in this session, dubbed the Book of Urzen'Tu. The book is a large leather and metal bound volume, covered with runes and with a carved resting place for a key in its cover. It has a large, finely-woven bookmark attached to its spine.
Inspired by Myst (one of my favorite cosmologies), the book contains detailed descriptions of hundreds of very specific places - each of which composes/occupies a (relatively) small pocket dimension. Placing the bookmark at one of the location descriptions, closing the book and placing the key in its place in the cover causes the book to instantly transport itself and those nearby to the location described. Removing the key reverses the effect, transporting the book and those with it back to the material plane.
- The party left Jekri's presence and had a brief meeting. While bringing others to "inspect" the premisis might be a good idea, they felt the situation was more urgent that that course of action (alone) suggested.
- The party decided to search for a person called Vex, who supposedly knew where to find a man called Valthious who was imprisoned.
- The group caught site of a person matching Vex's unusual description outside some sort of devilish counting house.
- Vex told them Valthious was being "kept" in a library of one of the other academy towers.
- The party found their way to said library, where they found a large book with a carved resting place for a bronze key...
[Brandon] Jekri - villain
- Deciding the machinery they saw was attempting to activate or power the Arch, they decided to try to hunt down its own power source. After a brief altercation with a formian taskmaster and its servitors, the group began ascending the tower, following the machinery.
- The party encountered several more unusual rooms where mortals were engaging in a variety of distorted behaviors, carefully watched by devils.
- Eventually, the party found themselves in a great hall-like room several floors up. It was populated with a number of well-dressed mortals, but no devils were seen. The hosts of the room flattered and begged the party to stay and socialze with them. Kael and Taryn seemed particularly persuaded, Kael by a man lauding his obvious leadership, and Taryn by a beautiful young woman who desired his company. In the end, it was Lily that all by dragged the others from the room.
- It was on the 15th floor that Taryn happened upon an ice devil standing guard outside a significant-looking room. He was accompanied by Jekri.
- Around this time, Lily had met a mephit who gave to her a key, asking her to "rescue" a professor by the name of Valthious. It mentioned that a person(?) called "Vex" would know where to find him.
- The group parlayed with Jekri for several minutes - at a safe distance of about 70 feet. Jekri told them he had no interested in Igveston itself, but that the Academy was rightfully his. He also promised them his activities would not affect the surrounding city, and that, if they truly could not be persuaded otherwise, they could bring a small contigent in to "inspect". Tomorrow.
- as the angel, called Ceria, had burst in, the meeting erupted with outbursts, which continued until a new figure appeared - some kind of fiend called 'Lavarent' - operating as an ambassador for Jekri.
- Ceria's cohorts began to assault the newcomer once his nature was revealed, but Miala demanded Taryn and the others stop it - which they managed to do, after a fashion. The fiend did little more besides warn those present that any attempt to interfere would be met with resistance. This did little to shake Ceria's resolve.
- At this point, the meeting began to fracture. Rothan, seeing little more he could do, departed after being confronted by Tyrrox. Reynold and Miala were still unhappy about the interlopers, but recognized they could do little. The PCs seemed inclined to, if not join the angel, at least operate in tandem.
- The angel informed them that she and her forces planned to march on the pit immediately. The party then decided to try to find their way into the academy from the underground.
- Ona called for volunteers at the Hall of Three to aid in the assault on the pit. It so happened the Batu, after being instructed to deliver a letter to the Hall, had managed to secure a room there for the night. Upon hearing the summons, he eagerly joined the cause to show his strength.
- Sensing some cunning in him, Ona discussed their strategy and the two decided a flanking maneuver would be most beneficial. Since Ceria and her forces were drawing most of the attention, Ona, Batu and their guard managed to scale to the bottom of the pit from the opposite side - where they encountered the barbed lord devil the party had previously encountered. He was standing near two, twisted bronze columns which had some sort of metal clamps fastened to them, with ropes trailing into some sort of mirror-like object.
- The party managed to break into the Academy from below. Inside they found that it had been completely infested with devils who seemed to have forced or enticed the mortals within to engage in all manner of unseemly behavior. In the main hallways, the encountered massive, infernal machinery into which some unlucky mortals had already been grafted. Beyond it, in a large open chamber, they could see the Galdzuri arch, a golden-purple aura pulsing around it...
[Kevin] Batu - Sylvan Elf Barbarian
- The party spent some time discussing what to do with Morran's body. They quickly decided they wanted to use 'speak with dead' to try to learn more, but they were considering certain logistics.
- The group ultimately decided they wanted to use the spell in the presence of the Hall of Three as well as some of the local nobles in an effort to unify them against whatever was going on.
- After some doing, they convinced Miala Xerus to arrange for a midnight council meeting.
- The party asked Morran about what was going on at the academy and what it could mean if the devils' efforts were successful. Most of this was stuff that the party had already learned, but they wanted the others to be able to hear it straight from Morran.
- While they were still talking, representatives from House Briglau burst in, lead by a wild and angelic figure - saying that if the local law would not cast out the devils, they would take matters into their own hands.
- Aside: An elf called Batu (Kevin) arrives in town, only to find the gates closed. He has a brief altercation with a racist bartender and meets up with a dwarven cleric.
Next Session Theory: Friday, Oct 18th.
- The party heard some hell hounds approaching and decided to split up and make their way back to the Laughing Jack
- Kael went to the temple to speak with Ona Macrath about what was going on in the Undercity (but not about Morran in particular). On the way there, he met a young woman who seemed interested in him.
- After discovering where Kael was staying, the woman - actually a doppleganger - took on Kael's form and went back to the Laughing Jack, where it killed Elivius Morran. Before it could escape, however, the party caught up and killed it as it fled.
- Tyrrox finished his community service and returned to the Hall of Three to retrieve his weapons that were being held. Upon arriving, he was challenged to a duel by Aegus Rothan, one of the more militant priests of the hall. After the fight, Tyrrox was invited to eat and drink with the hall soldiers. During the conversations, Rothan mentioned that he'd encountered an ibixian before - a man he called Kiveg, who was supposedly Tyrrox's uncle.
- When the group reassembled, Taryn told them he'd had a dream about Morran in the undercity and thought he knew where to go - a place called The Junk Room.
- Kael helped the group find the market that was near the place. When they arrived, they found the proprietor, and old woman, being harrased by a few armed thugs. Taryn managed to talk them down.
- The group found out from the woman that Morran had come to talk to her, and that he wanted some help healing a kind of magical wound. She didn't seem happy about the visit.
- Kael decided to see if he could find out where the thugs went. The group caught up with them near their hideout in the Undercity, and a fight ensued. After defeating the thugs, they found a familiar tattoo on their foes, and someone in an old cloak and fine robes tied up inside.
- The group shut themselves in the tavern, hoping they weren't seen by the hell hounds and bearded devils running by outside. In the back room, they found a crevince in the earth behind the loose wall paneling. They began to tear off the boards and squeeze through the narrow passage when one of the bearded devils burst into the building.
- They managed to fight off the devil and escape into a vacant alleyway and head back to the nicer section of town.
- The group went to the Hall of Three and spoke with Ona Macrath about the devil incursion. She says it will take a few days to prepare to march on the invaders.
- The group then dispersed. Lily wanted to study some about an ancient arch Ona had mentioned, Taryn decided to try to divine a course of action, Kael decided to return to the Undercity to gather more information about the devils, and Tyrrox still needed to finish his "community service".
- They met with Ona the next afternoon, and she told them that there were some in the hall that were a little less hurried to engage the devil forces - so there may be delay as powers-that-be decide on an "appropriate" course of action.
[Tim] Kael - Half-Elf Ranger
- The group catch sight of one of the men they'd overheard heading back to the Civic district. They followed him back to the Knight's Chamber, but didn't directly talk to him.
- The following day, the group encountered him talking to one of the local nobles, and they spent some time chatting with an elderly man of House Alphast.
- The group decided to return to the Undercity in search of information. They end up in a small hole-in-the-wall tavern, but find the patrons dispondent. They were still trying to get them to talk when they were attacked by a pair of imps and their lemure minions.
- Taryn had taken the bartender outside for some fresh air, and happened upon a giant hole in the middle of the undercity - filled with devils and enslaved commoners. The two hurried back to the tavern, but not before raising the alarm in the pit. Back at the tavern, they were met by Kael, an old acquaintence of Taryn's - just before they heard the baying of approaching hounds...
- The party met with Miala Xerus, who paid them some gold up front and offered a bounty on any particularly relevant information they could uncover. She wants to know what is going on in the city.
- Miala has heard some interesting rumours - including that Morran was seen heading into the poor quarter and that the Hall of Three might have set up the bombing on their temple themselves.
- The group is to perform for house Xerus in 7 days - and deliever their news to Miala.
- After meeting with Miala, the party decides to start by heading to the poor quarter to see if they can get some trace of the schoolmaster. They ended up at a run-down "inn" in the poor quarter called "Rest for the Weary"
- Lily overheard a meeting between two locals and someone from out of town mentioning Devric
- After hearing the Hall guard was entering the premesis, Devric ran out of the room downstairs; Lily and Tyrrox followed him.
- Taryn lingered behind long enough to encounter the ghost they'd previously seen. They had a brief conversation about the now-departing intruders, and it seemed to go well until Taryn mentioned a woman he'd seen in a painting downstairs. This upset the ghost terribly and caused it to wail uncontrollably.
- Downstairs, Devric used some sort of potion to activate the arcane circle, and images of rocky prominences jutting up from a fetid sea began to take shape in the mists above the floor, eventually revealing a massive hydra and a pair of disembodied voices. The barrier between the worlds seemed to weaken, and water began pouring onto the manor floor - along with several small demons.
- Meanwhile, the Hall guard arrived outside and were busy attempting to cross the courtyard while the keep's guardian seemed disinclined to allow them.
- Taryn caught up with the others downstairs in time to be mutated by corruptive energies which were now pouring from the circle. Lily tried to convince Devric to end the ritual, but the man seemed to be becoming more and more mad.
- When the ritual did finally end a couple of rounds later, Devric collapsed on the floor, chuckling madly to himself. The Hall guard finally gained entrance, searched the place and took all those present into custody.
- The party was taken to the holding cells in the basement of the Hall of Three, where they were held until trial. The trials were held individually, and involved each of the accused accounting for his/her actions to a group of assembled clergy whereupon one was called to make a final and swift judgement. In general, the judges agreed that the party's statements were basically true and that they were only guilty of breaking and entering.
- After the trials, the group encountered Miala, a noblewoman who had previously attempted to contact them, and they agreed to meet with her later that evening.
- The party followed the others' lead into the abandoned keep. They avoided the treant guardian in the courtyard and made their way to the large manorhouse between the two large towers.
- Inside they found the place had been disturbed recently, but only on certain places. A noteworthy feature of the entry/foyer area was the fact that the carpeting and furniture had been shoved to the edges of the room to make way for an arcane circle which had been painted in red on the floor. There was also a red eye painted on the wall in once corner.
- The group was making their way upstairs, when they were ambushed by some invisible rogues. They fought them off enough that the rogues retreated. Upstairs, they found a room that was strangely undisturbed, clean and in good order. Upon leaving the room, however, they were ambushed again, this time by a more coordinated attack. The ensuing fight proved difficult.
- As the encounter was wrapping up, another man arrived upstairs. He seemed startled to see them, but quickly regained his composure. He seemed to be the "leader" of whatever was going on, and he offered them a considerable sum just to walk away. While the party was still interrogating him, another man came running in, telling them that the Hall guard was coming..
- A message had been left for the party from Miala Xerus, a noble of the ruling House. She had something she wanted them to do and that they would be paid for the efforts. The message stated they were invited to the Xerus Estate, but the Hall guards outside insisted that Miala was no present and that they would not be allowed inside.
- Encountered a bit of a commotion outside the the Hall of Three, where a priest or paladin called Ona was irate - insisting on taking a contingent of armed guards to the Magus Academy, forcing entry and demanding answers from those who were clearly responsible for the previous night's attack. She was arguing with another priest she called Ivan, who insisted she should not act rashly.
- The party had written a letter to the Master about the magical crossbow bolt that had been shot at Tyrrox in Ettaseph - wanting to know more about it and if who had fired it could be tracked down magically. They decided they'd go and see if they could get anyone's attention from outside. They managed to attract the attention of an old priest called Occulous. He seemed a little crazy, but was generally conversive. He apparently had nothing to do with the sealing of the grounds and was interested in the crossbow bolt, though the wards on the grounds prevented them from passing it through to him. He did say he would try to get Master Morran their message, but he didn't expect it would be paid much attention.
- The party returned to the Xerus Estate to try again, but they were once more told Miala was not present and that they would not be granted entry. They then decided to take a closer look at the unoccupied keep Bradley Durn had told them about (and where they expected the ghost they'd encountered previously had come from). While looking around, Taryn witnessed some suspicious figures sneaking into the keep by way of the second floor of a neighboring house.
- The group entered the house and were attacked by some thugs with a tattoo of the symbol of the eye with the tooth they'd seen before.
- Spent some time at The Laughing Jack making friends with the proprietor.
- Did a little poking around town. Planned to go to the Magus Academy, but discovered it had been unexpectedly sealed off following a heated argument at a counsel meeting the previous night.
- Talked their way into the Keep District of the town. Escorted by a young guardsman by the name of Bradley Durn who seemed to be connected to House Briglau. He told them some basic info about the estates in the district, and about the nobles who live there.
- Lily talked to a priest called Salemnor at the Hall of Three (a temple to St. Cuthbert) about getting some historical info on the town and its nobility. He told her it would take a few days and told her of the fees required.
- Later that night, they witnessed a couple of large explosions at the Hall of Three. They rushed to the scene and attempted to help the efforts to contain the insuing chaos.
- the party tied up some loose ends in Ettaseph after having aided in solving the treeant problem. they stayed for a couple of days to help with some aftermath and to talk to a few more locals.
- one man they met was Ulbrus Marc, a cleric of Fharlanghn, who was traveling through the area. By the end of their conversation, however, his jovial spirit had become worried and he informed them he was heading back to his homeland of Uldul Ferrik immediately.
- the party caught up with the cleric again the next day, whereupon he told them he was concerned about their description of the man with the two-headed-dragon tattoo. Apparently there was some lore in his town related to multi-headed serpent - regarding it as an ancient evil.
- the group, however, continued to Igveston to see if they could find out anything about a man they'd heard of with a different mark: an eye and tooth motif, as well as to, perhaps, seek information about the lost dungeon they're seeking.
- shortly after arriving the in the city (late that night), they were accosted by a ghost who behaved oddly and was complaining about intruders in his house and insisting the group do something about it.
- party returns to town and, with the help of a young woman called Relia, tells the tree lord what they had found, pleads that the humans are not responsible, and negotiates for the release of the remaining women the trees are holding captive.
- party enjoys and evening at Loreth's tavern, where they are harolded as heroes by the locals
- On the way back to their inn, Taryn and Tyrrox are attacked by a sniper using and explosive crossbow bolt and several shadowy goblinoid figures - all seeming to be orchestrated only to leave a message: "You have wandered into our midst; we are always watching"
- The party questioned some locals about some iconography they've encountered (an eye with a tooth), and also some involvement in recent events.
- The party learned from some of the townspeople that the bandits were suspected of having taken up residence in the exhausted silver mine a few miles outside of town. That didn't make much sense for what was known about the bandits, but if the dryads were being held anywhere nearby, it seemed the most likely.
- They headed out to the mine to investigate, and encountered kobold traps and a small band of the creatures as well as some malnurished wolves they seemed to have been keeping.
- As they were finishing up, a dryad came stumbling out of the cave, begging them to return her to her tree far to the north. They led her out of the canyon, but they became suspicious when she insisted on the group escorting her all the way to her home tree, refused to return to town and claimed to be too weak to use any of her own abilities. Lily cast Dispel Magic on her, and her dryad visage dissolved revealing a hideous hag, which shrieked and then vanished.
- The party returned to the mine. Inside, they were attacked by more kobolds before they stumbled into the mine's primary denizen - a massive, 6-headed hydra.
- The ensuing fight was viscious, but ultimately the massive beast was brought down, whereupon the hag came shrieking from one of the side tunnels, cursing the party for killing her pet. Knowing they were in no shape to continue fighting, Taryn offered the hag a deal - he would keep her pet from dying if she would give them the dryads.
- The hag told them she only had one dryad, and, after retrieving it, she and the newly-revived hydra disappeared into a deep pool of water. It wasn't until after they'd gone that the party saw pieces of finely-polished wood, punctured with massive teeth marks and oozing sap, scattered around the beast's lair...
|Saturday February 9, 2013 at 6:00pm||new campaign, d&d, cyrran reaches, game session notes||Comments (0) »|
System: Dungeons & Dragons v3.5
Setting: The Cyrran Reaches
Players: Sheri, Tony, Adam
[Adam] Tyrrox - Ibixian Fighter
[Tony] Taryn - Human Cleric of Olidammara
[Sheri] Lily - Human Bard
- Party traveling with small caravan (lead by a man called Ruglan), is waylaid by bandits. After fighting them off, they arrive in the settlement Ettaseph
- Spend some time talking to people in town, learning some interesting things about the Old Oak Inn, Loreth's Tavern, the Orchard and the settlement in general.
- The town is attacked by treants, who seem intent only on capturing the women of the village.
- When the treants' leader comes to the village, it wants to speak with someone no knows. With the help of a local druid, they learn that the person in question was a centaur who helped establish the old "accords" between the humans and the fey of the Charothi forest. More pressingly, however, it seems that some dryads had been kidnapped and would soon die if they were not found...