Pathfinder Greycloak Campaign

Episode 19

Episode 19: 9/19/09

The Party:
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/3-3
Nineve, human knight/6
Xicar, human cleric/6
Haroldur, human wizard 2/cleric 4

Mossad is very concerned about what we have to say. We present him with our evidence – the charred parchment, and hope he believes us. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to. Mossad sifts the letter himself, and after a few moments tells us to get what rest we can here at the Cabal – he’ll take care of this. We’re keyed up from our adventure, but exhausted from our long and frantic journey, and it IS the middle of the night, so we head off to get some sleep (in our REAL rooms!)

A frantic Hezzrak wakes us early in the morning. He insists that we come down to the crypt RIGHT NOW because he has something to show us. He pesters and pushes us into the depths of the crypts, and then shows us… absolutely nothing important. After some antics, we piece together that the town guard is currently at the Cabal searching for us, and Mossad has sent Hezzrak to hide us in the crypt. About an hour passes, and we are summoned from the crypt to Marten’s office.

Mossad is there as well. Marten restores us to our positions as Greycloaks and returns our stuff, and we earn Influence for our deeds. Then he leaves, without saying much to us. Mossad helpfully fills us in. The Cabal is protecting us because Justice Ironbriar has moved against us in the night and has sent half the Ministry of Justice after us. They are currently trying to figure out what to do with us. Since we need more hard evidence to clear our names in the eyes of Istivin’s authorities, Haroldur suggests we go to the lair of the the Undead Lord Ondore, now a mohrg, which we assume must be Lillybrook Manor, to look for clues. This sounds like a pretty good idea to Mossad except for the fact that the city is crawling with guards looking for us. We’ll have to sneak out.

We make preparations (including having Remove Disease cast on a few of us who are feeling rather unwell), and discuss tactics for escaping the city and confronting the morhg, Ondore. Xicar comes up with the idea to cast Searing Light into Captain Lorring’s sword (a spell-storing longsword!), since that spell is particularly effective against undead. Also, a few days ago when Haroldur and Sarek were researching the Nerull human sacrifice runes, I checked out the history of Lillybrook Manor. I share what I learned.

83 years ago – the Lillybrook Manor is built by Vorel Lillybrook. Construction is partially funded by an unknown outside source.
63 years ago – Lillybrooks living in the Manor perish mysteriously over the course of a few years, seemingly from the ravages of disease.
30 years ago – Vorel’s great nephew Traver Lillybrook (Ondore’s father) and his family move into the manor; Ondore Lillybrook is born.
14 years ago – The servants’ quarters at the manor are destroyed in a fire. Ondore’s mother commits suicide by flinging herself from the Conservatory window, and Traver kills himself. Ondore is taken by a fleeing servant to Istivin to be raised by relatives.
1 year ago – Ondore returns to Lillybrook manor and begins restoration work.
8 months ago – Ondore found dead.
5 months ago – Ondore’s body stolen (from second funeral, see Episode 11 )

We finish our preparations and begin our attempt to sneak out of Dura.

We begin our escape in a civic quarter. Civic quarters are home to government buildings, temples, and trade houses. Guard patrols are heavy here, as well as being more alert, making hiding difficult. However, the tall, ornate towers, bridges and sculpture gardens make vaulting from building to building or scrambling up a wall a fairly simple affair. We escape the civic quarter without incident.

From the civic quarter, we find ourselves in a slum. Guards rarely enter the squalid slums. Crumbling old buildings, flop houses, run-down taverns and other seedy establishments dominate this quarter, along with tenements filled to overcrowding. The thugs and criminals of this quarter have little use for social niceties, but respond well to strength and bravado. Streetwise individuals may easily find dives that the guards avoid, side alleys, and other ways to keep out of sight. We round a corner and are face-to-face with an accident: a cart has overturned, and a small contingent of patrolling Ministry of Justice agents has stopped to assess the situation. It’s terrible luck, and of course they recognize us and drop what they’re doing to give chase. We scatter like quail and after several very tense minutes of ducking down alleys and hiding in plain sight, we manage to lose our pursuers. We escape the slums and find ourselves in a poor quarter.

The poor quarter is an impoverished area home to laborers and the downtrodden. Failing businesses, warehouses, and seedy taverns populate this quarter. The poor folk here pay little attention to genteel language, but this quarter provides ample opportunities to blend in with the crowds of laborers, or slip into a rowdy tavern. Our bad luck follows us here as we encounter a group of town guard. Fortunately, these guys will usually seek any excuse to avoid a fight, and we manage to convince them we’re not worth it. We get away from them, but a few blocks later a swarm of rats suddenly pours out of a sewer grate, sending the crowded street into a panic. Xicar doesn’t move in time and gets slightly trampled by the fleeing mob, but I realize that we can use the sewers to escape this quarter – there’s no way we’ll find guards down there! It’s hard to convince Nineve, but we all hop down the sewer and once I get my bearings, we’re home free! We emerge in another civic quarter.

We spot a group of soldiers patrolling a little ways up the street, but we manage to avoid their notice. At last, we find ourselves at the gates of Dura. I bribe an urchin to make a small disturbance and we slip past the distracted soldiers guarding the gate with ease.

We escape Dura and reach the boundaries of Istivin at dusk. A little ways outside of the city, we find a farm family to stay with for the night by passing ourselves off as traveling priests of Pelor. The evening takes an awkward turn when Haroldur suddenly drops the Pelor bluff and starts trying to convert our hosts to Wee Jas, but we leave in the morning after a great breakfast.

After several hours of hiking, a storm rolls in. The clouds hang oppressively low in the heavens as we pass through a singularly dreary tract of country. At length we find ourselves within view of the House of Lillybrook. An unredeemed dreariness seems to hang over this part of the countryside. The manor’s principal feature seems to be that of excessive antiquity. Minute fungi overspreads the whole exterior, hanging in a fine tangled webwork from the eaves. The manor clings remarkably to a sheer cliff overhanging the dark waters of a small lake far below. The foundation stones of a ruined outbuilding thrust up from the weed-choked earth like rounded and decayed teeth. Several large, ragged black birds perch on the old stones, eyeing us warily.

In front of the house, we find a neglected hedge maze that appears to house a mausoleum at its center. We enter and wander around for a few minutes, eventually finding a weeping marble statue. Just as we’re moving past the statue, we hear a strange rustling in the bushes… a spellstitched ghast, accompanied by ghouls, bursts through the maze and attacks us! It’s time to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and we’re all out of gum! The West Side Wee Jas crew (complete with hand signs) cleans up, and we move on towards the crypt.

Two corroded bronze doors carved with the Lillybrook crest bar our entrance to the mausoleum. I begin to pick the lock, but then Haroldur remembers we have a Lillybrook key! We try it and it works! We advance down the stairs and arrive at an octagonal chamber in the depths of the crypt. Three crates full of completely normal dirt are in the center of the room. Shipping manifests are tacked to the outside of the containers. I take samples of the dirt while paranoid Nineve stabs the dirt to ensure nothing is in there. Nothing is. I also collect a shipping manifest. As there is nothing else of interest here, we exit the crypt.

It starts to rain as we pick our way through the ruined hedge maze and approach the house. Politely, we ring the doorbell. No one answers, so we go in. The doors close ominously behind us. The entry hall is large and lofty. The windows are long, narrow and pointed, reaching upward to a vast distance from the black oaken floor. Dark, stained draperies hang upon the walls, and moth-eaten, rotting trophies hang crookedly here and there. Upon entry, Haroldur and I smell the faint scent of burnt fur. Suddenly, Haroldur dodges out of the way and swears the stuffed manticore head on the mantle has lunged to attack him, but he as avoided it, saving the party! We smile and nod and move into the parlor.

The dark paneled parlor seems unaccountably gloomy, as motes of dust drift through the air and settle on the dilapidated remains of a once magnificent piano. Hezzrak bangs on the keys, but mercifully no sound comes out. Suddenly, Xicar inexplicably begins waltzing with an invisible partner, but comes to his senses after a few moments. We shake our heads and move on.

Nineve hears some scratching behind a side door. She opens it and finds a washroom. An ancient metal washtub stands against the far wall, a ring of mold crusting its inner surface. Several eyeless, tumor-covered rats are scrambling frantically within the filthy basin. We leave them and advance to a gloomy lunge.

A sagging couch slumps in one corner of the lounge, opposite a grand fireplace. Motes of dust and ash skitter and swirl along the warped floorboards near the hearth. Xicar is suddenly seized with a sense of impending doom and tries to push us all out of the house. Nineve restrains him, and after a few moments he regains his composure. We move on, through a damp, mildewy drawing room and into the library.

The door to the library creaks loudly as we open it. Feeble light struggles to illuminate rotten books, sagging shelves, and stained rugs and tapestries. Oddly, amongst this gloom is a splash of bright color – a red silk scarf is draped over the side of a fallen and molding chair. I attempt to sift the scarf. When I pick it up, a shriek startles me. Then, I see Lord Ondore’s face as he suddenly wraps the scarf around my neck and chokes me to death! I pass out. Xicar heals me, and Nineve and Haroldur tell me I strangled myself with the scarf – she had to cut it off my neck! We quickly leave the library and move to a stairwell that takes us upstairs.

We pass through a landing and enter a small, unremarkable bedroom. We advance through large double doors to a musician’s gallery. Large dusty windows dominate the curved wall of the gallery. Despite the heavy glass, we can hear the rising wind and the branches of the trees crashing together in the yard outside. Aside from the mold and dust of ages covering the room and several ruined musical instruments, nothing is remarkable. We continue on.

Nineve gets bored first and opens the door to another fungus-covered bedroom. Suddenly, she slams the door shut and starts clawing at her own face! She regains her composure and starts to complain about the fungus attacking her and causing boils on her face. She also mentions a child. Before we can make sense of her ramblings, Hezzrak comes up the stairs, eating cancer rats. I try to dissuade him, as they are CLEARLY diseased, but then I remember that outsiders are usually immune to disease. I shrug and tell him he can eat what he wants.

We wander into a gallery with covered portraits on the walls. We uncover the portraits and the room grows icier and icier…until they explode outward in a shower of freezing dirty water. Afterwards, I feel ill, but I try to shake it off.

We move on into a completely preserved bedroom! However, the lack of dust and mold does nothing to dispel the bewildering influence of the dark and tattered drapes which, tortured into motion by the rising tempest outside, sway fitfully to and fro. Haroldur rushes to a writing desk in the corner and appears to contemplate stabbing himself in the throat with a large splinter of wood, but then decides against. We move on.

Nineve and I force the door to a small bathroom. An iron tub, scaly with rust, squats in the center of the room. The floorboards sag and bow with the tub’s weight. Green scummy water fills the tub to the brim, and dribbles over the side to pool on the floor in several nasty puddles. As I approach, the floorboards crack and give way! I barely manage to jump back in time to avoid falling through the floor. The tub falls into the cancer-rat bathroom below and explodes in a shower of water.

There’s only one more door to investigate. We open it and find ourselves in a large bedroom. Everything in the room, including the bed has been torn to pieces – with one exception. A portrait hangs backward, untouched. Xicar turns the picture around and claims to recognize the beautiful woman depicted therein. As we turn to head back down to the first floor, Xicar inexplicably kicks Nineve down the stairs! Then, he turns on me with his shortspear! He shouts “Traitorous women! You filthy whores! I’ll kill you all!!!” We easily restrain him and Nineve intimidates some sense into him.

We abandon the idea of going back downstairs and head up to the attic, which is full of steamer trunks. Among the random luggage, we find a well-appointed study which has an amazing view of the lake at the bottom of the cliff several hundred feet below. We proceed cautiously. Scorch marks mar the walls. A battered telescope stands in one corner, and a trapdoor leading to the roof is tied closed. I sift the scorch marks and witness a brief scene: A man and his wife are arguing. She is accusing him of something; he denies it. She throws a lantern at him and accidentally catches herself on fire… Just as I snap out of it, Nineve flails about like she’s on fire and throws herself out the window! I toss one end of my troll gut rope to the boys and dive after her. Luckily, her armor had gotten hung up on the ornate roofing, and I barely manage to rescue her before she plummets of the cliff to her death! We climb back into the study, regroup, and head for the assumed safety of the basement.

We find ourselves in a vast kitchen which is damp and completely dark. It’s silent at first, but soon the walls are alive with the sound of hundreds of diseased rats. We brace for impact. Several large cancer rats like the ones we saw in the bathtub emerge and approach us. I cut two of them down, but then 2 large swarms pour out of the walls and over our party. The clerics detonate negative energy bombs and we are soon saved from what would have truly been a fate worse than death! We leave the rat-ridden kitchen and investigate an unremarkable servants’ quarters, complete with rusted, sagging bunk beds.

Moving on, we find the rotting pantry, which is filled with dozens of blind, bloated, diseased rats. The stench is horrible. Despite the smell, I take a moment to closely observe the rats. They appear to be suffering from some kind of bubonic plague variant. We all realize we’re feeling less than stellar, all of a sudden. We’re concerned and quickly move on.

Next we find an ancient wine cellar. Haroldur and I poke around and identify 8 bottles of non-vinegar that are probably worth something. We collect them and move on to a ruined workshop.

Broken glassware, shattered pottery, and rusty tools litter the floor. Suspicious crates of dirt, similar to the ones we found in the mausoleum, stand in the center of the room. As we’re looking around, Xicar suddenly falls through an unseen trapdoor and disappears! Hezzrak spots a darkened doorway behind Haroldur and starts down the stairs he finds. Meanwhile, I locate the release mechanism for the trapdoor that claimed Xicar. After a brief conference with Nineve and some crate-shuffling, I open the trap door and send her down to the cavern below, riding a crate, Dr. Strangelove-style!

Haroldur disappears down the stairs with Hezzrak and calls for a locksmith. Usually that’s my cue, but through the open trapdoor I can see a skeletal figure menacing Xicar and Nineve! It’s the morhg, and I’m not really surprised to see it’s none other than our old friend Lord Ondore. On hearing this, Hezzrak whizzes past me and flies down to the action. I call for Haroldur to quit being such a baby and get his ass down the hole like everyone else, as I line up the morhg in my Line of Lightning Sword sights. Reluctantly, Haroldur flings himself down the hole, clockwork wings flapping.

Xicar accidentally blinds himself with his own spell, and Morhg Ondore and Hezzrak point and laugh (who can blame them?). Flame leaps from Morhg Ondore’s fingertips as Nineve is fricasseed! Things are dire. In a truly unimpressive display of lightning, I zap Ondore and teleport into a flank behind him. Nineve throws herself at Morhg Ondore with the last of her strength, and then I draw Captain Lorring’s longsword (previously prepared by Xicar!). I savagely slice through his undead body and discharge the stored Searing Light. The glory of Wee Jas and Xicar’s plan rips through his husk, destroying him utterly.


Episode 18

Episode 18: 8/23/09

The Party:
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/3-3
Nineve, human knight/6
Sarek, human wizard/6
Xicar, human cleric/6
Haroldur, human wizard 2/cleric 4
Enoch, human sorcerer 1/monk 5

The next day we travel with the survivors from the ruins of the keep back to the hunting lodge. That evening, Vander approaches Nineve and mentions some helpful things he remembers about working with the cultists and Akasha, the leader. It seems she HATES silver! It’s a strange thing to remember, but it struck him as odd and for some reason stuck in his mind.

As we’re all sitting around the campfire, I notice the strange dog is hanging around the edge of our camp. It shrinks into the woods at my approach, but I leave it some food and I notice it back again a few minutes later, eating.

As we’re heading off to bed, Zollara appears! She looks concerned. She says, “Your resilience and courage will see you through the trials ahead.”

The Choosing:
Ashe – The Trumpet
Nineve – The Teamster
Haroldur – The Sickness
Sarek – The Tangled Briar
Xikar – The Waxworks
Enoch – The Desert

The Spread:
The Paladin…....The Teamster….... The Cricket
The Locksmith…..The Eclipse…..... The Hidden Truth
The Liar…...... The Rakshasa ….. The Survivor

Zolara interprets our reading:

(The Past) “The Paladin represents strength in adversity. In this case I see one of you standing in victory over a fallen superior, perhaps an instructor or or father? The locksmith grants the keys to unlock destiny. He grants the tools but not insight as to how they may be used. One of you will unlock secrets from your past. The liar represents treacherous love, deception that pits brother against brother or father against son.”

(The Present) “The Teamster is a driving external force that keeps you going, no matter what. The Teamster exhorts you to continue on, despite the self doubt and loss of purpose shown by the Eclipse. Elsewhere, the Rakshasa sits upon the backs of its slaves, imposing its will on them, opposing your every move, from the shadows.”

(The Future) “The Cricket represents travel, in this case, a speedy return home. The Hidden Truth has the power to reveal secrets. I see family histories revealed in a new light to allow you to see past the obvious to the greater truth, and dark secrets hidden within.”

Then, faster than you can say “Oops, forgot to mention the GRW!”, she’s gone.

The next day, we part ways with Vander, Edain, and the other survivors and begin the 5 day journey to Turtleback Ferry. We’re not in a hurry, so I have plenty of time to spend with the strange dog that keeps following us. We win him over after a day or so, and he starts actually traveling with our group. I’m delighted that he’s traveling with us, but the next day, he seems incredibly nervous. I get the sense that he’s trying to get us to take another path. Intrigued, I follow the dog and lead our group down a smaller game trail that takes a slightly circuitous route around (rather than through) a valley before rejoining the main trail at the top of the ridge. I’m feeling a little irritated at myself for allowing a flight of fancy to add 45 minutes to our hike that day. As we crest the ridge, I pause a moment to take in the surroundings. As I glance back, I spot a grey render lurking in the valley below. My original path through the valley would have taken us right into its territory! I give the dog a few pats and continue on our journey. Thanks to him, we avoided what could have been a serious encounter with a very dangerous creature.

A few days later we arrive at the tiny hamlet of Turtleback Ferry. We all buy riding horses, practically gorge ourselves on a hearty home cooked meal, and spend a welcome night in warm beds. The next day, the dog brings me a dead chicken, and I have a slightly sticky encounter with an irate farmer. I apologize and pay him 5sp for his chicken… and he suddenly offers us some more chickens “for the road”. We take him up on his offer of a few fresh eggs, and spend our last night at his house.

After a hearty farmhouse breakfast, we head out to Istivin. We travel through rural but civilized lands for a few more days and finally arrive at the city walls. We take a winding path through the lower tiers of the city and make our way to the Cabal, purchasing some badly needed fresh clothes along the way. The journey through the city takes about two days.

We finally arrive at the Cabal and are greeted by acolytes who are happily surprised to see us. We have about an hour to get situated before we’re summoned to Marten’s chambers.

Marten is pretty put out at us for vanishing on him, and, more importantly, The Ministry of Justice, and specifically Justice Ironbriar are after us for questioning regarding the events at the Sawfish Boys slaughterhouse. He asks us why he SHOULDN’T just turn us in. We present our arguments, with varying degrees of success, before Nineve jumps in and actually tries to INTIMIDATE him! It’s a great performance, but it was doomed from the start. Marten is none too impressed, and we are taken into custody by Legionnaires (who are polite). We are escorted to a nearby prison facility, and handed over to those authorities. They shackle us and admit us to our cells.

After a few days we are transferred to a smaller jail. That evening, we are taken to meet Sheriff Hemlock. The Sheriff tells us he has specifically requested our transfer here to his jail and proceeds to explain why.

Apparently, there have been a number of murders in the city of late that have our names all over them. Hemlock produces a note from the most recent murder. It is battered and written in blood. It reads “You return, and now the chase begins. I am simply what you have made me, O my masters!” Apparently it was attached to the victim with something of Sarek’s. Clearly, we aren’t involved, but whenever Hemlock tries to look into the murders, his investigation is inexplicably blocked by someone higher up the chain. He asks if we’d be willing to investigate for him, and of course, we’re in no position to disagree.

Hemlock takes us to a lumbermill. At the bottom of the logsplitter is the nauseating mess of what used to be a person. Apparently this was the miller’s wife, Cassandra Vinder. Despite the gruesome scene, this isn’t the murder he’s interested in.

We head upstairs and find another body, Embedded in the corpse’s sleeve is Sarek’s missing dagger. Carved into the corpse’s chest are a set of mysterious of symbols. Sarek can’t identify the symbols, but he’s sure they’re related to ritualistic human sacrifice. I sift to to find out some information, but I don’t’ get much. We discuss the murder and its similarities to other murders in question. We are told a survivor from another attack is being held at a local sanatorium. We decide to visit the survivor at the Saintly Haven of Respite while Hemlock cleans up the lumber mill mess.

The survivor’s name is Grayst Savilla. It takes some convincing, but we are eventually admitted to see him. He’s a wild-eyed fellow drooling on himself. He shrieks as we approach, but Haroldur seems to calm him down. Suddenly, he starts spouting nonsense. Between thrashings and mumblings, we get “He, he, he said you would come! He said that the victims are the harvest of seeds you have sown!” and “When the harvest is done, you shall remember him forever and, and, and”. Several minutes of screaming later, we get “the Misgivings shall, they shall be his throne, and there you shall bow before him!” He then collapses to the ground and lies still. Enoch and I recognize that he’s still twitching slightly as Xicar moves in to check if he needs healing. Suddenly, Grayst the Mad lunges at Xicar and bites his hand! Enoch leaps in and restrains the crazy and Xicar tries to calm him down again. He spouts more nonsense, and then Sarek stuns him with a Word of Authority. While he’s out, I heal check him and determine that he is suffering from the advanced stages of ghoul fever. The friar runs into the room and starts apologizing, swearing he didn’t know, and he had no idea Grayst would react so strongly. We promise not to make a fuss and leave the sanatorium.

We are reutnred to Hemlock’s smaller prison facility. Haroldur manages to convince Sheriff Hemlock to allow us to stay in a large communal cell instead of our individual ones. We pass the evening discussing our leads and options: basically none.

Sarek and Haroldur are interested in doing some research at the library. Amazingly, Hemlock manages to arrange this, and the next morning we are returned to the Cabal (under supervision) to research the arcane runes found on the bodies. We discover that these runes are related to a Nerull worshiping death cult and prevent spells such as Raise Dead, Speak with Dead, etc., as well as damning the soul to Nerull’s realm. We share this knowledge with Hemlock, who is disturbed by the news. When we return to our cell, we find a package from Mossad! There are of course no weapons or anything, but it does contain a few essentials – better food, spellbooks, holy symbols, etc. Tucked inside the outer packaging is a crumpled scrap of paper that reads “Hembly farm” in scrawled blood. No one knows how the bloody note got inside the package.

We find out where Hembly farm is and convince Hemlock to equip us. Then we head out, under guard of course, to the boondocks where Hembly farm is. On the way, we are regaled with tales of the shocking boredom of rural life by one of the guards, who is a local. The guard mentions that if anyone knows what’s going on in these parts, it’s Farmer Gump. At this, naturally we stop by and talk to Farmer Gump. He thinks it’s a bit odd that he hasn’t seen the Hemblys around int he past few weeks. Gump mentions that he warned the Hemblys not to live near the Misgivings, a local haunted house. Haroldur inquires rather directly about the Hemblys and the history of the Misgivings, an old Lillybrook homestead. After an awkward and tactless interrogation, we leave and are led to the Hembly farm.

We come to a large cornfield and are told it’s the Hembly farm. The house is apparently in the center of the fields. I stand on Enoch’s shoulders to orient ourselves, and then we head in the direction of the farmhouse. At one fork, we encounter a scarecrow shaking violently. We approach it and Sarek discovers that is in fact a human in the advanced stages of ghoul fever. We’re about to leave the person there and move on when we’re ambushed! Several scarecrow-ghouls break free of their bonds and attack us! We wade through the ghouls and manage to only lose one of the guards, even though a few do get bitten. An eerie silence falls over the cornfield. This is an unsafe place for anyone, especially unseasoned adventurers. We send the remaining guards back to town with the surviving scarecrow guy and move along.

A little while later we come to another scarecrow ghoul ambush. Enoch gets five-across-the-eyes and Xicar gets paralyzed from behind, but we finish off the ghouls before they finish him off. At length, we come to the farmhouse and barn in the center of the cornfields.

The smell of death hangs heavy in the air. The barn is constructed around a 12 foot tall stone head, all that remains of an ancient statue. Inside, it is a macabre tangle of bones and animal (mostly) carcasses. Ghouls are obviously lairing here, but none of the foul beasts are occupying the place at present.

We press on to the house, where the stench of rotting death is overpowering. We move to the kitchen and find another rune-caved corpse. Before we can investigate, I hear movement in the adjacent bedroom. I hiss a warning and Enoch sees a foot climbing out the bedroom window. In a moment, we’re outside, battling the foul creature on the roof of the farmhouse. I climb the pillars of the porch and find myself facing a ghast. He opens himself up for an attack so I slash him as he shoves me off the roof. He rears, calling ghouls out of the corn. Soon, I am up on the roof again, locked in battle with my sworn enemy. More ghouls climb out of the well and attempt to pull Sarek and Enoch down to the watery depths. Fortunately, they don’t manage to move the unusually tall humans. Nineve, Haroldur, Xicar and Enoch battle the ghouls, and Sarek offers ranged support to me as I battle the ghast. Eventually, Sarek vaporizes the ghast and we all prevail.

Back in the house, we search for clues and find a note. It’s crumpled and written in blood, like the others. It reads, “You fools! You left them unprotected! Now I will take them from you one by one, until you come to me! Who will burn next? The scholar? The Dwarf? The Sheriff?”. We have a brief pow-wow and decide to return to the city to warn our friends. I sift on the body and we discover that the killer must be a mohrg.

We rush back to the city, arriving very late at night and check on Tamklar. He’s fine, though he almost puts an axe through Xicar’s skull for busting in on him at this time of night. We quickly explain and bustle Tamclar and his family over to Alastar Land’s place. We rouse him and take them all to the Cabal for safekeeping. Then we go to Sheriff Hemlock’s place.

Our stomachs sink as we find his door is open. We burst onto a gruesome scene, much like the other rune-carved corpses. Enoch fishes some burning papers out of the fire, while we check on the mutilated corpse of the late Sheriff Hemlock. Among the papers is a badly burned letter, but I examine it and use Sift to read its original message:

Your Honor, Lord Justice Caradoc,

It’s taken me some time, but I’ve finally managed to determine who has been obstructing my investigations into these strange murders. I fear a sinister and calculating mind has both perpetrated these killings, and endeavored to obscure them. A dear friend, whom I hesitate to name, has brought me information and evidences that point to a horrifying possibility. If he is correct, and I fear he may be, these murders are much more than the work of a simple madman. He has brought to light the facts that my, and many other, investigations have been misdirected, denied, reassigned, and otherwise defeated by note other than the direct intervention of Lord Justice Ironbriar, Justice of Dura and 7th Justice of Istivin, capital city of The Kingdom of Caledon. I await your direction in this matter.

Your loyal servant,

Giles Hemlock Sheriff, Whietwall, Dura, Istivin.

Of course, this pivotal evidence is merely circumstantial, as it requires a person with the ability to sift in order to decipher any meaning from the scorched and ruined scrap of parchment. Nevertheless, this could be enough to at least clear our names with the Cabal. Besides, we all decide it’s not wise for us, currently prisoners, to be hanging around the murder scene of our current jailer… We rush back to the Cabal, rouse Mossad, and tell him everything.


Episode 17

Episode 17: 8/15/09

The Party:
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-3
Nineve, human knight/5
Sarek, human wizard/5
Xicar, human cleric/5

The sun rises over the rim of the valley as we finish placing the last stones on Captain Lorring’s cairn. The sunlight turns the heavy smoke still drifting across the valley from the ruins of Blackwall Keep gold and crimson in the early light. The few surviving rangers and convicts share a solemn moment of silence over their fallen leader. Edain, his arm in a sling and his face badly burned, turns to us and mentions that someone should say a few words for the Captain.

Skill Challenge! A few kind words.
We’re on the spot and we hardly knew the guy, but as professionals, these survivors-turned-funeral-attendees are looking to us for peace, comfort, and profound insights on the nature of mortality. Drawing from our deep well of experience in service to the goddess of death, we take turns addressing the group and manage to put in a stirring eulogy for Captain Lorring. Edain offers us the Captain’s sword (a +1 Spell Storing longsword), which we graciously accept.

Xicar finds some time to talk to Captain Lorring and confirms that the dragons do seem to be working with the orcs. The orcs have become much more organized in the last 6 months or so, and Lorring suspects the appearance of the dragons around the same time is related to this change in orc behavior. They discuss some details of Lorring’s proposal to strike at the orc leadership while the bulk of their forces regroup.

Sarek finds Black Bart working among the convict teams and pulls him aside. He commends Bart for doing such an excellent job, and, in an uncharacteristic move, rewards him with a necklace of dragon teeth reclaimed from the wyvern cave.

I look around for my dog and realize I haven’t seen him in a couple of days. He must be in the woods. After we set out for the orc caves, a few of us notice the elven hound shadowing us from the woods. I leave some food out for him at the edge of our camp that night.

FLASH FORWARD We finish of the half-dragon arcanist and advance to a large chamber, deep in the cave. The chamber is basically empty. It’s lit by a large fire, and orc bedrolls and supplies are scattered about. Like the rest of the cave, this chamber reeks of foundry smoke.

The chamber slopes upwards. At the far end, three orcs spot us and the hostilities begin. Suddenly, orcs and goblins pour in from all sides – an ambush! It’s a long and grueling fight, but we manage it.

We advance down a passageway that seems to be the source of the smoke. Emerging from a tight corridor filled with choking smoke, we find ourselves in an exceptionally warm chamber…

At the far end of the room, crudely formed iron racks suspend stony black and red ovoid objects over a large, tended fire. Could these be dragon eggs? Suddenly, an incredibly cute red dragon hatchling hops up to us and seduces Nineve into attempting to feed it. Then, it tries to take her face off with its flashing teeth and claws. Two other hatchlings, as well as two hellhounds are drawn to the commotion and join the fray. Waves of fire wash over the party as we battle fiercely on. Soon, a red dragon wyrmling flies over to join the fight. Swords flash and spells fly as we are locked in a life-and-death struggle with what are essentially dragon TODDLERS. However, they’re so evil and dangerous that when the last one finally falls, we’re just happy to be alive. Several wounded wyrmlings manage to flee the chamber during the battle. We smash all of the dragon eggs – no sense taking any chances.

Moving on, we climb up some crude steps into a large cavern. Fire from huge cauldrons casts dancing shadows on the rough stone walls. Along the edge of the chamber, a large gathering of orcs of all ages and stations look down on us, just watching. We cross the wide, recessed floor of the cavern and can’t shake the feeling of being in an arena. At the far end of the room, seated on an iron and bone throne, is the first old orc we’ve ever seen. At our approach, he gives a nod, and several orcs and ogres jump down and charge us. So much for diplomacy.

An orc battle royal ensues, where groups of orcs and ogres jump in and attack us in waves while the crowd looks grimly on. During the battle two of the wyrmlings that escaped our wrath earlier fly into the cavern and perch on the old orc’s throne. For some reason he shouts in rage and kills one of the wyrmlings, while the other flies beyond his grasp and exits the cavern. The last champion to fall is an orc riding a dire boar, and we survive by the slightest margin. Exhausted and battered, we wait in tense silence for another challenger to appear. Suddenly from behind us, we hear one person clapping in slow, grim applause.

We turn to see the old orc, now standing in front of his throne, applauding us. He was obviously once tall and broad shouldered, but his thin frame is now hunched and bent, and long stringy white hair hangs around his face. When he has our attention, he stops clapping and begins to speak:

“Congratulations, pinkskins. You’ve done what old Kroghut could not.” He thumps his chest dramatically, indicating he must be Kroghut. “You’ve freed my people from the tyrant, and I expect, destroyed the other pinkskins in the bargain. We will fight you no longer. You have bested my champions, and you have surely brought burning doom upon my people. Go now. Your work here is done. My people will not hinder you further. Were I you, I would scurry back to the walls of the pinkskins so that you might die heroically at their sides when their doom comes on fiery wings.”

He sits back down with a note of finality, and we are aware that the conversation is over. After a pause, we turn around and leave the cavern the way we came in, watched grimly by the orc crowd, our footsteps echoing loudly off the walls of the silent chamber.

Once free of their oppressive stares, we heal up and discuss our options. We realize we don’t really have any. We’ve accomplished our mission – the orc leadership is definitely broken, and the dragon-orc alliance is almost certainly on the out since we smashed up the hatchery. We decide there’s nothing left to do but return to Blackwall Keep, so we head out.

The first half of our journey goes uneventfully, though we’re all tense over Kroghut’s parting words. No one is in the mood to talk, and we travel for hours on end in silence. I notice the elven hound periodically, watching us from the woods.

As we travel from the orc hold through the deepening shadows of the mountainous foothills, around late afternoon of the second day, a flicker of light from a high distant peak catches our eyes. Far off, the peaks are barely visible on the darkening horizon; mostly screened by the hills and pine forest at the far end of the valley. Suddenly the peak flickers back to view, a brief glow touches it and fades away.

We continue on, trying not to think about what this might mean, when suddenly, a great light appears in the low place in the hills where the orcs make their lair, and the gathering evening clouds turn golden. Faintly, in the distance we hear warning trumpets sounding,and drums booming and echoing along the rocky foothills as the glow fades, then flares again, even brighter than before.

We press on towards the keep. An hour passes. Distantly we can see something; a spark of fire low in the sky rushing towards us and growing ever larger and more bright. Before long, so great is its speed that the fantastic shape of a fiery dragon appears over the tall trees. Soon the roar of the dragon’s terrible approach grows loud, and the rocks turn red as fire beneath the awful beating of its wings. Roaring it sweeps over the valley, leaving flaming desolation in its wake. We crouch behind what cover we can find as it flies past us, perhaps 100 yards to our right. Frightened, but with no other options, we continue our desperate march towards the keep.

We’re still several hours away from the keep when the valley trembles with the dragon’s approach. Things happen quickly as we look on helplessly from the far side of the stony valley.

As the dragon wheels to swoops upon the keep, a hail of dark arrows leap up and snap and rattle on its scales, and their shafts fall back kindled by the dragon’s breath, burning and hissing into the swift running stream at the base of the keep’s walls. At the twanging of the bows and the shrilling of the trumpets the dragon’s wrath blazes to its height, til it was blind and mad with rage.

Green and scarlet fire leaps from the dragon’s jaws. It circles for a while high in the air above the keep lighting all the valley; the trees shine like copper with leaping shadows of dense black at their feet. Then down it swoops straight through the arrow storm, reckless in rage, taking no heed to turn its scaly sides towards the foes, seeking only to set the keep ablaze. Fire leaps from thatched roofs and wooden beams, and hard stone flows like wax as it hurtles down and past and round again, breathing gouts of terrible fire. Back swirls the dragon. A sweep of its tail and the tallest tower of the keep crumbles and smashes down. Flames unquenchable spring high into the night. Another swoop and another, walls crumble and towers spring alight and fall, burning. The silhouetted figure of Captain Lorring can be seen urging his men to fight on. Still, no arrow hinders the dragon or hurts it. Men jump from the walls on every side. Weapons are flung down and the dragon vents its full wrath upon them at its leisure.

At last the dragon circles the blazing keep with a broad sweep of its dreadful wings. It swoops to snatch at a pair of fleeing figures, and then roaring and belching fire, spirals up through the low clouds to vanish into the darkening night sky.

With heavy hearts, we continue onwards to the now destroyed keep. When we finally arrive late at night, the keep and most of the valley is still ablaze. As we arrive, we find a few of the rangers and convicts have actually survived the attack, Vander Anderhof among them. Vander is with a group of people searching the rubble near the ruins of the wall, evidently for survivors. Another group of 4 or 5 is huddled around a still form near the base of one of the walls.

As we approach this group, we are shocked to see they are gathered around Captain Lorring, who is pinned under a huge piece of stone. He’s dying, but still cheerful. He sees us, and insists on knowing if the orcs have been stopped. We tell him their leadership is broken and they’ve been thoroughly routed. Upon hearing this, he coughs out a “Jolly good show, chaps” – his last words.

The rest of the night is a blur of activity – putting out fires, tending to the dead and dying, and trying to rebuild order in the wake of utter destruction. We learn that Astrid was taken by the dragon in his final dive, and that Black Bart died defending her. Jarkardos was killed when his tower fell, his remains were found in the wreckage of the stairwell. Parne and Torkan were killed defending the walls, and Orin, Astrid’s brother, died in the subsequent fires. Edain and one other ranger have survived, along with a mere 15 of the convicts.

After the last of the bodies has been buried, the survivors salvage what they can from the wreckage. We find the leg for 31E that Jarkardos was holding for us in the ruins of the observatory tower, along with a large golden scarab (a spell-sink scarab). We also scavenge:

a Sepulchral vest
oil of Greater Magic Weapon +2
potion of Greater Magic Fang +3

Talk turns to what to do next. Obviously, we will return to the Ruby Temple in Istivin, but what of the survivors? Vander and the rest of the convicts refuse to return to the city, i.e. prison. Edain proposes they take up residence at the Broken Bow lodge until the Keep is rebuilt, if that ever happens. Until then, they can continue the rangers’ work of maintaining the frontier by keeping the orcs, ogres and goblins in the mountains where they belong.

This sounds like a reasonable plan. With things pretty much wrapped up at the ruins of Blackwall Keep, we agree to set out with the survivors for Broken Bow lodge in the morning.


Episode 16


The Party:
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-3
Nineve, human knight/5
Sarek, human wizard/5
Xicar, human cleric/5

The giant falls, the keep’s defenders sally forth, and the siege is broken. We rush down the hill and start stabilizing the wounded convicts. Edain, Astrid, and Black Bart have come through the battle okay. As we’re seeing to the fallen and wounded, a group of riders approaches from the keep.

Their leader introduces himself as Captain Lorring and seems surprisingly cheerful, but quite crestfallen when he realizes we haven’t brought any luxuries from Istvin with us. We patiently explain that we’ve been out of supplies for almost a week and fighting for our lives through orc-infested countryside to get here and save his ass. He immediately stops sulking. After surprising Haroldur with a congratulatory slap on the back and handshakes all around, sprinkled with lots of “Jolly good show, chaps!”, he leads us down into the keep. As we’re passing through the courtyard, we notice 3 of the Sawfish Boys among the convicts. They seem to notice use, too. After we get cleaned up and settle in, we go to see Jarkardos.

Jarkardos is a middle aged, dark haired human. He is charming and friendly, and politely invites us up to his office. His lab is littered with automaton parts, clockwork horrors, and clockwork beetles like the one 31E carries. Jakardos explains he’s been expecting us. We chit-chat a little about his collection and he shows us how the clockwork beetles are navigation devices of some kind. When placed on a map, they spring to life and skitter off to a precise location – each beetle seems to be keyed to a certain place, and will plant itself on that same place each time. The beetles also seem to be sensitive to the scale of the maps, so if the beetle is keyed to a distant location, but the map it is placed on is a detailed, small-scale map, the beetle will run off the map, off the table, and across the floor, presumably in the direction of it’s marked destination. It really is quite intriguing!

After an appropriate amount of chit-chat, we get down to business. We fill Jarkardos in on 31E – his missing limbs, memory loss, strange protocols and references to people and places that don’t currently exist… the artificer is intrigued. He agrees to help us (for a price), but needs 31E’s exact model number… and of course we don’t know it. Sarek sends to Mossad for information:

Convicts delivered. Freed keep from siege from giant, orcs, ogre. Ranger outpost sacked, loss of life great. Can you ask 31E his model number? Praise Wee Jas.

Moussad answers:
Good work! Model number? 0FB3A4F3D4, why? When will you be returning to the Cabal? Praise Wee Jas!

With that sorted, we head back to our rooms. As we’re returning to our chambers, we’re approached by Captain Lorring. He requests our help in getting the keep squared away over the next few days… we agree to start work on the various issues tomorrow morning. However, we don’t even make it to our lodgings before the first problem presents itself:

Rebuilding the Wall: Tamklar vs. Rangers!
The rangers and Tamklar are discussing the rebuilding of the keep’s walls. Tamklar is suggesting making improvements to the wall which would make it stronger and better, but would take a little longer to build. The rangers want to rebuild the wall exactly how it was, as quickly as possible. The rangers seem to think that Tamklar’s plan is over-engineered and will waste valuable time and resources. Tamklar points out that if the keep’s wall had been properly fortified in the first place, they wouldn’t be wasting time and resources rebuilding it now. They argue back and forth a bit and we attempt to convince the rangers to do it the right way: the dwarf way. Unfortunately, the ranger foremen and their convict laborers will have none of it – a hastily built wall is better than no wall at all. We fail to convince them to heed Tamklar’s advice.

Next up: R-E-S-P-E-C-T (for the dead)!
Looking through the wall’s rubble onto the remains of the battlefield, we can see a crew of convicts carelessly shoveling dead bodies into a mass grave. We hurry over to them and find out what they’re up to. The convicts complain to us about heavy work and the daunting number of bodies that need dealing with. They claim they don’t have time to provide proper burials for each of the fallen. We instruct them on the appropriate, respectful way of dealing with battlefield graveyards, trying to impart to them a sense of honor and duty to the dead. I don’t feel like we’re getting through to them, though. In the end, they follow our advice mostly because Nineve is really scary when she threatens people – nobody wants to find out what comes after “or else!” But, at least we succeed in seeing that the dead are properly buried!

Evening falls and Captain Lorring has broken out the reserves to provide a great meal as a victory celebration for the survivors. A raucous party ensues. We relax a little for the first time in weeks, and everyone enjoys themselves. The whole keep sleeps in later than they probably meant to, but the next day we’re back at it, helping out.

Talk of Surrender
Despite last night’s party, there’s talk of surrender among some of the convicts. They see defeat as inevitable and they’re wondering why Captain Lorring doesn’t just give in to the orcs and flee the keep instead of being slowly ground down by them. A couple even propose slipping out of the keep and taking their chances in the wilds instead of being trapped behind the walls again. It takes some stern words, but we manage to convince the convicts that they don’t stand a chance outside the keep walls by themselves.

Lazy Lumberjacks
One of the keep’s rangers directs us to a copse of trees where a group of convicts is supposed to be harvesting timber for the repairs. However, the sounds of woodcutting are intermittent at best. We find Parne and Torkan, the barbarian Anderhoff brothers, among the layabouts. When the Anderhoff boys see us, they perk up and try to look busy. After some displays of strength and pointers on how to work smarter, not harder, we’ve whipped those convicts into shape and they’re deforesting the countryside like pros!

On our way back to the keep we notice one of the convict gangs assigned to dealing with the corpses is returning from the battlefield, laden with spoils. Here and there we spot a thick orcish armband or torc, and several convicts have armed themselves with particularly fine examples of orc weapons. Each has a heavy pouch tied to the belts that clinks with newfound coin. They’ve clearly been looting the remains on the battlefield. We stop them and explain the difference between looting for personal gain (bad) and reacquiring useful items for the survival of the group (okay). We’re sure to speak slowly and use small words. Eventually, we get through to them, and they agree to turn in their loot to the keep’s treasury so it can be distributed as needed among the group.

It should be noted that throughout all of this, Nineve is constantly flirting with Vander Anderhoff, Buttercup-and-Westley style. She barks orders at him, like “Polish my armor, swine!” or “Fetch me that water jug!” and the like, AND HE DOES IT.

At the end of the day, Captain Lorring rewards us for moving things along from his cache of useful things: (Magic bag! Magic bag!)

Nineve: CLW potion x2, Everlasting Rations, Resist Fire potion, letter of recommendation (good for +1 influence with the Cabal)

Xicar: CLW potion x2, Scroll of Mass Snake’s Quickness, vial of Black Veil powder, Pearl of Power lvl 2

Sarek: 2nd lvl scroll, 3rd lvl scroll, Quall’s Token Whip, Scroll of Dismissal

Ashe: CLW potion x2, Amulet of Toxin Delay, Naivia (MW Comp. longbow +3), letter of recommendation (good for +1 influence with the Cabal)

As we’re thanking him for our rewards, he mentions he’s looking for a resourceful group like ours for a “small task”. He wants us to slip into the main orc stronghold and take out the leadership of the tribe while the larger orc force is regrouping in the woods. He would also like to find out more about the dragons seen among the orc forces, since this is pretty weird. We agree this is probably a good idea, and there really isn’t anyone else handy who can do it. We tell him we’ll leave in the morning.

That evening we meet back up with Jarkardos. He produces a leg that will fit 31E. He also recommends we get some scrolls or spells of Repair for healing the automaton. Unfortunately, Jarkardos won’t part with the leg for less than 5,ooo gp. We tell him we’ll discuss it with him further after we get back from our task for Captain Lorring.

In the morning, we leave for the main orc camp. Following Lorring’s directions, we ride through the mountains for about a day and a half and at last find ourselves at the entrance to the orc cave. Since the main orc force is still slowly regrouping farther down in the valley, the “main orc camp” is sparsely populated, as advertised. That’s always a good sign. I scout ahead, but clumsily. I spot some sentries just inside the cave, but they see me, too. They shout and throw stuff at me as I schlep back to the party to let them know about the sentries, and, oh BTW, they know we’re here.

We enter the cave and the sentries are waiting for us on the other side of a rather inconveniently-placed 20-foot chasm. We exchange fire and Xicar fills the cavern with a cacophonous roar which stuns the vermin.

We soon tire of fighting from a distance. Nineve throws herself down to the bottom of the chasm and Xicar follows suit. 10 feet of falling damage? That’s gonna leave a mark! I opt for the express route and leap gracefully across the empty space, drawing my swords in a flourish as I land cat-like on the other side. Sarek provides artillery support as I cut through the remaining sentries. Nineve and Xicar scrabble at the walls of the chasm like rats in a bathtub. The orcs keep coming, but eventually we kill them all, and get everyone past the chasm. A quick healing break and we’re ready to advance down the corridor, deeper into the cave.

Suddenly, two flaming hellhounds streak towards us. Gouts of flame erupt from their glowing maws, and envelop me in fire! Then, a half-dragon arcanist like the one we faced while taking the ballistas during the siege appears in the corner and blasts the party with a fireball! The battle is joined. As before, these guys pack some serious firepower, and things get pretty heated. Sarek makes a big stink(ing cloud), which of course sickens everybody. Xicar chases the arcanist around, threatening(?) him with his dagger. Sarek takes pot shots at the enemy caster while the rest of us stagger around, retching. It takes FOREVER, but we eventually finish him off.


Episode 15

Episode 15: 7/18/09

The Party:
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-3
Haroldur, human cleric/5
Nineve, human knight/5
Sarek, human wizard/5
Xicar, human cleric/5

We’re still reeling from our battle with the ogre matron when Zasalamel appears on top of the barn! He declares that we have been judged and found wanting. Again, he accuses us of being servants of chaos. At this point, we know he can’t be reasoned with, so we wade right in. As usual, he puts up a fairly tough fight, but disappears before we have a chance to defeat him once and for all. We grumble about his random attacks and crazy conspiracy theories as we head back inside the barn to tend to the survivors.

In cages inside the barn we find two prisoners, Edain and Orrin. Orrin is a teen with a broken arm. His family runs (or more accurately, ran) the hunting lodge. He also turns out to be Astrid’s brother. Their reunion is hardly happy, but they do seem glad to see each other. Edain is a ranger from Blackwall keep and was captured when he left the keep for the lodge. He is missing his left foot. He tells us the ogres cut it off a day ago and ate it in front of him. Nineve nods knowingly, but the rest of us cringe in disgust and try to change the subject.

While the humans converse amongst themselves, I notice that the strange dog I saw in the cage earlier is in fact an elven hound! It’s not very happy at the moment. I spend some time interacting with it and manage to calm it down somewhat. I let it out of the cage and it slowly wanders off, but stays close to the lodge.

Orrin breaks the news to Astrid that their parents didn’t make it. She takes it really hard. We attempt to talk her through the pain and ease her suffering, as is our duty, but her grief is too great. Overwhelmed by the events of the past few days, she sobs inconsolably, and we eventually leave her to be alone with her sorrow.

Once the excitement dies down, we remember why we initially came here – supplies! We search the lodge and find food, along with several caches of the ogre’s spoils:

obsidian statuette of a hunting dog
bent silver crown with opal inlays
bone wand with spiral gold inlay (CMW)
scroll of Fire Shield
dirty moonstone
scroll Lesser Restoration
potion (Blur)
iron-bound chest containing 600 gp
pair of silver chalices
Everfull mug with Dwarven runes
scroll Bull’s Strength (D)
copper inlaid trumpet
gold anklet with inset bloodstones
cloak (of Resistance +1)

We get the prisoners fed and settle down for the night. That evening, Zollara appears.

The Choosing:
Nineve – The Cyclone
Haroldur – The Paladin
Sarek – The Keep
Ashe – The Uprising
Xicar – The Forge

The Spread:

The Winged Serpent ….... The Crows …..... The Keep
The Liar ….............. The Carnival ….. The Cyclone
The Juggler …........... The Forge …..... The Fiend

Regarding the past, the Winged Serpent represents knowledge and prudence – the lessons and training that have allowed you to come this far. The Juggler represents those who play with the lives and destinies of others – misaligned The Juggler falters and tragedy is assured for those whose lives he meddles in. In the present, the crows are a dangerous bunch who violently take that which is loved. Here I see 3 where once there were 4, but misaligned they may aid you despite your misgivings. The Forge represents dangers that require many sources of strength to overcome.
As for the future, the Keep may be taken literally here – as an indication that you will reach your goal. The cyclone represents a force that tears through all opposition – but not a natural force – one that instead comes from an intelligent being. The Fiend indicates many deaths in a great calamity and a great intellect behind it.

We go to bed that night with Zolara’s calamitous predictions echoing in our minds.

After breakfast the next morning, we head out in the direction of the keep. As we arrive in the valley containing the keep, we find it besieged by scores of orcs, goblins, ogres, and the like. I start scouting as evening falls. After moving along the ridge for a short time, I find a supply camp filled with orcs and a giant of some description. This camp is buzzing with activity, as if they are preparing to move. Further up on the ridgeline, I find another camp with siege weapons manned by goblins. There is a thin reptilian figure that seems to be in command. I head back and report my findings. We discuss tactics and decide to wait until the giant and its entourage move out of the supply camp, then raid the camp to arm the convicts. Then, we’ll attack the siege weapon camp and use the ballistas to take out the giant.

As predicted, when dawn breaks, the giant sallies forth towards the keep, and we enact our plan. At the supply camp, we encounter the rear guard of orcs, ogres and goblin scouts. The little resistance they offer is swept aside and we easily take the camp. We outfit our convicts and take what food can be found. Nineve raids the horse pens in the back of the camp and locates one among the sorry, malnourished lot that used to be a trained warhorse. She mounts up and we move on.

As we approach the siege camp, we can see the giant and his entourage have made it about halfway to the keep. Large, bat-like creatures wheel through the air above the various orc groups.

In the siege engine camp, we find 3 ballistas, each manned by a goblin squad. Two hellhounds guard the base of a watchtower containing 2 goblin archers and a tall reptilian leader. We charge up the hill and the battle is joined. The reptilian, a half-dragon arcanist, throws fireballs around while hoards of goblins swarm me and Tamclar. Nineve keeps the hellhounds busy while Haroldur and Sarek focus their attentions on the tower. Eventually, the casters burn the tower down, exposing the half-dragon leader. At length, we take control of the siege engine camp, but not before Nineve loses her mount and we all get quite singed.

Our army of convicts, led by Black Bart and Edain, rush the hilltop and cheer our victory! We quickly man the nearest ballista while our convict army prepares to defend our position. Tamclar’s extensive engineering knowledge comes into play and he directs us as we all work together to fire the huge machine. We alternate between firing fire pots at the incoming orc warbands and sinking spears into the massive giant.

After a few hits, the giant turns around, enraged, and starts barreling towards us. Fortunately for us, he’s quite a ways off and encumbered considerably by the heavy armor he’s wearing. We struggle to fire the ballista quickly and accurately, and soon the giant is close enough to start throwing trees at us. He nearly hits us once, completely demolishing our ballista. Fortunately, there were three of them on the ridge, so we move to the next one and resume our assault. Just when we think things can’t get worse, a red wyrmling, about the size of a very large dog, starts circling above our position and breathing fire down on us! The giant is almost upon us. We’re about to break and run, but fortunately, our parting shot brings the juggernaut down with a tremendous crash! The wyrmling flies off, and we’re safe!


Episode 14

Episode 14: ?/?/09

The Party:

Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-3
Haroldur, human cleric/5
Nineve Floret, human knight/5
Sarek, human wizard/5
Xikar, human cleric/5

[Note: It’s been a long time since we’ve run this campaign, and a new player has joined the group. Since it’s been so long, we just dropped his new character right into the story as though he’d been there all along.]

As we finish exploring the small tomb, we’re set upon by more orcs and goblins. Some of these orc leaders are incredibly strong, and this is a really tough and lengthy fight. After the battle, we return to check on our convicts and Astrid. One of the convicts managed to kill an escaping goblin, and they all start complaining about being taken, shackled and unarmed, through goblin-infested forests. Led by a man called Black Bart, they start to raise a ruckus, but we manage to quell the mutinous dogs.

It’s now evening, so we camp at the shrine for the night. We spend half of the next day reinterring the exhumed remains and directing the convicts to bury the bodies of the orcs and goblins. Around mid-afternoon, we head in the direction of the hunting lodge.

Before long, we hear the distant sounds of woodcutting. Wary of what me way find in this orc-infested territory, I scout ahead and discover an orc, goblin and ogre logging operation. They appear to be erecting a roadblock on a part of the trail that leads through a gorge. I report back to the group and we prepare to crash their party.

Sarek sneaks up to the top of the gorge and kicks things off with a Fireball. We all scramble up the roadblock (eventually). Tamclar maims the ogre erecting the roadblock, but he eventually escapes, limping off into the woods as we turn our attention to the veritable swarm of orcs that’s threatening to overcome us. It’s a very tough fight, but at last, the final orc falls.

Victorious, we press on and come to a clearing in the forest. It seems quiet. Too quiet. As we’re looking around, we notice blood on the grass. Upon closer inspection, I recognize the tracks of a limping ogre! Buoyed by the prospect of finishing off the wounded ogre, we walk right into a trap – literally! Tamclar steps right into a bear trap and can’t move.

Suddenly, goblin archers appear in the woods nearby. I work on freeing Tamclar while the others battle the goblin menace. Through the confusion, I hear several orcs and an ogre running through the forest towards our convicts! I shout a warning and Xikar, Nineve and I take off to help. Sarek (who doesn’t care about convicts), Haroldur and Tamclar(who don’t run very fast) stay behind to finish off the goblins.

While we rescue the convicts, Haroldur steps into another bear trap! Fortunately, Tamclar mightily pries it open and frees the unlucky cleric. We manage to save all but one of the convicts. During the fight, Black Bart helped us out by strangling an orc with his bare hands. After this, I seriously consider lending Bart my longsword, Aernin, Rite of Law, but after much deliberation, and dissenting opinions from the party, I decide against. We bury the bodies of the deceased and set up camp for the night. That evening, we use up the last of the food for the prisoners…

In the morning, we press on to the hunting lodge, hoping to at least find supplies. As we approach the lodge, we hear the steady sound of wood chopping coming from the barn. The path leading up to the lodge is littered with bear traps, and Nineve almost steps in one! We approach cautiously and are set upon by 2 goblin wolf riders and some orcs. We’re in a bad spot – all spread out, so this fight is tougher and longer than it needs to be. The wolf riders escape into the woods, but instead of being angry, we’re just glad to be rid of them. We’ve really got our hands full with the orcs.

Suddenly, we notice the chopping noises coming from the barn begin to be punctuated by cries for mercy, and we all have a sick feeling that whoever’s in there isn’t cutting up firewood. We finish off the last of the orcs and hurry over to the barn.

The area is littered with body parts, strung up or nailed to trees, the building, anything convenient. The outside of the barn is covered in orc graffiti, written in blood. The front of the barn has doors which open out from a second story hayloft. Haroldur decides to use his clockwork wings to try to jump through the doors into the loft. The rest of us quite sensibly elect to go around to the other side of the barn, where the doors are on the ground floor.

We burst onto a grotesque scene. In the corner are crudely constructed cages. Some are empty. One contains a terrified human teenage boy and a man with a dirty, bandaged stump where his left foot should have been. Another contains a strange looking dog, which seems very upset. The interior of the barn is littered with body parts. Bits of several dismembered corpses are everywhere, and I do mean bits – it appears the ogres have been taking their victims’ limbs off a few inches at a time. In the center of the barn is a bloody chopping block. A recently-deceased human is tied to it, surrounded by three ogres. One of them holds a bloody cleaver.

Both parties spend a silent moment staring open-mouthed at each other in shock (and for us, revulsion). The sound of Haroldur futilely flinging himself against the closed hayloft doors (again) snaps us out of it, and we wade in. The ogres are brutal, but we fight savagely, enraged and horrified by the gristly things which have happened here.

Sarek throws down a fireball, which drives the ogres into a frenzy. In retaliation, the ogre with the cleaver attempts to hurl it at us, but misses! The cleaver sails from the ogre’s hand and somehow boomerangs directly into his stomach! He promptly starts bleeding to death. We capitalize on this opportunity to finish one of the ogres off quickly. As we’re cutting down the accidental seppuku-ist, Sarek casts Tasha’s Hideous Laughter on one of the remaining ogre threats. What Sarek lacks in cross-cultural understanding he makes up for in obscene gestures, and the ogre collapses to the floor in gales of laughter. I rush in and tickle his kidneys with my swords while the rest of the party deals with the last ogre, who has decided to leave the barn all of a sudden.

As he’s making his exit, he receives some parting shots from Tamclar and Nineve. They’re not enough to take him down, however, and he runs outside the barn… calling for his ‘mammy’? Our curiosity piqued, we all peer outside the barn. We look on in horror as “Mammy”, aka the most grotesque, obscene and unnatural creature we have ever seen, erupts from the lodge.

Her thin, stringy hair is pasted to her head and face in sweaty black mats. She is wearing a dirty, ratty red sarong, which, although it must’ve been fashioned from a giant’s bedsheets, is woefully inadequate to cover her enormous bulk. Purple scars and boils mar her dull, blubbery flesh. She looks as if she smells like week-old dead fish. I am suddenly glad that we are upwind.

She begins to loudly berate her son in a voice that is somewhere between a belch and a raspy cackle. Terrified, the wounded ogre starts to run off. Around this time, she notices us. Tamclar very sensibly takes the opportunity to shoot the fleeing ogre in the back with his trusty crossbow, which finishes him off.

She lurches towards us, vomiting zombies in a spray of sticky spittle. Xikar bravely wades in, and casts Bleeding Touch out the foul she-beast. Unfortunately, she takes exception to this assault, and chomps him! As she munches thoughtfully on her bite of cleric flesh, the hapless victim wriggles away and escapes to a safe distance. Sarek Webs the ogre matron just as her zombie minions close in on Haroldur, who has stopped jumping at the hay loft doors and re-joined the action. Haroldur and Sarek handle the zombies while the rest of us shoot at the trapped ogre matron from a distance. She struggles futilely in the Web while we pepper her with arrows. Drawing on her impressive size and strength, she eventually breaks free of the Web, but to no avail. Weakened by her struggle, she finally collapses under our onslaught. Victory is ours!


Episode 13

Episode 13: 3/7/09

The Party:

Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-3
Haroldur, human cleric/5
Nineve Floret, human knight/5
Sarek, human wizard/5

Zolara interprets our reading:

The Choosing:

Sarek: the Midwife
Haroldur: the Owl
Nineve: the Mute Hag
Ashe: the Queen Mother

The Spread:

The Foreign Trader….......The Dance….....The Unicorn
The Eclipse…..............The Forge….....The Keep
The Joke….................The Midwife…...The Winged Serpent

Past: The Eclipse shows a loss of purpose driving you forward in hopes of finding direction. Misaligned as it is, The Joke shows us that you have been tricked by someone – but even they cannot foresee the consequences.

Present: The Dance represents the intricate balance of life and death – it represents your group – as you enter The Forge. Dangerous events surround you taht you must overcome together. The Midwife tells of new arrivals – though they may not be welcome.

Future: The Unicorn grants that which you seek. However, The Briars represent a considerable barrier that must be overcome. The Keep symbolizes quiet strength – but so close to the Unicorn it should be perhaps taken literally instead – as the keep you currently seek. The Winged Serpent represents prudence. But misaligned as it is, the coatl warns of the dangers unforeseen.

We’ve made camp. Sitting around the fire, our conversation drifts to Tamclar’s wavering faith. Despite a slight misstep by Nineve, we manage to have a stimulating religious conversation, which gives everyone plenty of food for thought as we head off to bed.

Dawn breaks and we head out, but unfortunately I find it impossible to lead the group through the wilderness effectively while also preventing my party and our convicts from actively killing themselves. I spend all day saying things like, “No! Don’t eat that!” and “Wait! That’s poison ivy!” and we end up wasting a day wandering through the wilderness. At the end of the day I’m frustrated with our lack of progress, but fortunately I have little time for self-chastising as we spend another evening chatting with Tamclar around the fire. We talk late into the night, and in the end, he announces that he has resolved his issues and decided to stay with the church of Wee Jas. This is great news! Buoyed by our success, the next day I’m feeling very confident in my woodsmanship and we make terrific progress!

Unfortunately, on day three of our journey I am struggling to make headway with our group through the dense forest. We’re lost, and we’re running low on food. Preoccupied with putting us back on the right track, I neglect to pay attention to the signs of danger around us. Suddenly, we find ourselves at the entrance to a wyvern’s cave!

The criminals run from the clearing into the cover of the forest, but our group has been spotted. We get a few shots off at the wyvern, and suddenly it dives at me, attempting to snatch me into the air! I manage to twist out of its grasp at the last second, and it flies past us, just as it’s mate emerges from the cave!

Nineve charges the wyvern on the ground, but stumbles and misses. Nineve is taking a beating from the wyvern at the cave entrance, so I charge forward and deliver a telling blow, wounding it gravely. Sarek summons a hellhound, which joins the fray at the cave entrance. Working together, we manage to finish it off.

While Nineve and I are fighting the grounded wyvern, the airborne one continues to menace the rest of the group. Sarek blasts it with a bolt of lightning, but then it swoops down and snatches up Haroldur. The cleric struggles, but the wyvern is making off with him. Out of nowhere, Tamclar shoots the beast down with an expertly-placed crossbow bolt, saving Haroldur and the day! We loot the Wyvern’s cave and find:

700 gp
400 sp
Sandals of Sprinting
some valuable cleric’s vestments
a jade pendant
a Lesser Crystal of Life-Keeping
a magic Crystal of Glancing Blows
a CLW potion
a scroll of Invisibility (arcane)
a scroll of Remove Paralysis (divine)
Panpipes of Sounding

In all, it turned out to be a profitable excursion. As an added bonus, I finally orient myself and recognize this cave as one marked on our map! I feel like I’ve gotten us back on track, and as evening starts to fall, I know we’re nearing our goal – the hunting lodge, where we will rendez-vous with some of the rangers affiliated with Blackwall Keep. We decide to camp in the shelter of the cave. Near dusk, we hear the baying of hounds and oafish, inhuman laughter mixed with cries for help. It sounds close. We leave the convicts at the cave and investigate the nearby commotion. In a short distance, we come upon another clearing.

Two ogres and their pack of hunting dogs have treed a naked human and are making obscene taunts at him. They don’t seem to notice our approach. Sarek pounces on the opportunity and nukes the clearing with a fireball, laughing maniacally. The charred corpse of the naked man falls from the tree. Several of the dogs also go down, and the ogres are singed and angry. Before the rest of us can react, the ogres and their remaining dogs are upon us. We fight valiantly and eventually put them down.

Looking over the bodies, it’s clear the naked human died violently in a fire… Puzzlingly, the ogres are clearly not equipped for travel, meaning that they must not be far from their camp. This doesn’t make sense, because Blackwall Keep is stated goal to prevent ogres and their ilk from settling this area…

We respectfully bury the human and head back to trail, but I can’t shake my growing sense of foreboding. Suddenly, everything in the woods looks suspicious. As we hike along in the gathering dusk, I spot another naked figure sprinting through the woods some distance away. I call out to the person, who cries for help and dashes towards us headlong. At the sound of my voice, another naked person emerges at about the same distance, and flees towards us, recklessly tripping and scrambling through the brush.

Suddenly, the source of the nudists’ fear becomes evident as goblins on wolves appear over a small rise. One of them, clearly the leader, calmly levels his crossbow at the first fleeing human and shoots him in the back – the man collapses about 20 yards in front of us. The image of the midwife appears to Sarek, and he feels more resilient (gaining DR = his WIS modifier for this encounter). The mounted goblins seem surprised to see us and charge forward, warning us away from their kill. We notice the leader is riding a hellhound. They fire on us and the battle is joined. Incensed, we rush in and slaughter them.

After the panic of battle dies down, I hear something in the woods, just the slightest quivering. Silently closing in on the sound, I find a naked female elf crouching under a bush, shaking. Speaking softly in Elven, I coax her out of her hiding spot. I suppress a gasp as she crawls cautiously into view. She has been badly tortured, recently – her eyes are gone.

I wrap her in my cloak and we heal her as best we can; we can’t restore her sight, but at least her other injuries will no longer trouble her. She can hardly speak as she’s still quite in shock, but we manage to make out that the hunting lodge has been overrun. We try to reassure her as much as possible, and bring her back with us to our wyvern-cave camp. Nineve tends to the girl, who mutely allows herself to be fed, clothed, and put to bed. She moves like a frightened animal. The rest of us explain the situation to the convicts. Surprisingly, they seem to pity the girl and appreciate the gravity of the current circumstances. They give us no trouble, and we all pass an uneasy but mercifully uneventful night in the wyvern cave.

Morning comes and the girl seems to have recovered a bit. She tells us that her name is Astrid. A few nights ago, orcs, goblins, and ogres attacked the lodge, and captured and tortured the residents. She was taken to an old ranger shrine in the woods, blinded, and released to be hunted. She suggests we check out this shrine for clues to the attacks, or perhaps even survivors.

The shrine isn’t included on my maps of the area, but following her rough directions we eventually discover it. At the shrine, we find orcs and goblins milling around, desecrating the shrine and exhuming the graves of the rangers buried here. A building to the side of the shrine is a smoking ruin. As we approach, the goblins spot us and shout, “Kill the pinkies!” Thinking quickly, Sarek casts Wind Wall to protect us from the hail of projectiles that soon follow. Nineve receives a vision of the Mute Hag (and gains DR = her WIS modifier for this encounter), and the battle is joined.

The orcs and goblins try to pick us off from a distance, but their attempts are thwarted by Sarek’s Wind Wall. They soon become frustrated and charge our position. We make quick work of them.

After the battle, a search of the granite shrine in the center of the area reveals a concealed mechanism. Everyone stands well back as I activate it – and a hidden stairwell descends into the earth under the shrine! We move down the stairs and enter an ancient burial chamber, obviously for some sort of barbarian lord. Centered on the back wall is an altar. The chamber seems to be guarded by immobile skeletons, keeping mute vigil over the tomb. As we approach the altar, the dust-shrouded skeletons move to an uncanny semblance of life!

We dispatch the undead guardians and find:

2 MW scimitars
a suit of +1 half-plate
a +1 helm of defense
an ornate short spear (+1 Orc-Bane)


Episode 12

Episode 12: 10/11/08

The Party:

Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-3
Haroldur, human cleric/5
Nineve Floret, human knight/5
Sarek, human wizard/5

We’re just finishing up with Filge’s pets when suddenly we hear the elevator returning from upstairs! We scramble into a defensive formation. The doors open to reveal four more cultists. Fortunately, we have the tactical advantage. We corner them in the elevator and cut through them like a knife through butter. At the end of the skirmish, we hear horses and a commotion upstairs. Nineve and Haroldur head up to investigate and hold off any over-zealous authorities while Sarek and I examine the altar for evidence.

Using Improved Sift, I see a vision of Filge and a buxom shrouded female in the midst of what appears to be a reanimation ceremony. A loud crash (sounds like us) breaks Filge’s concentration and the spell goes awry amidst much cursing and calamity. On the altar, we find diamonds and the remains of diamonds (about half are intact), along with a partially-charred scroll of Raise Dead. We net:

2100 gp in diamonds

I put everything into an evidence bag and we join Nineve and Haroldur upstairs.

Nineve has skillfully convinced the mounted city guardsmen of the truth – that we are here on business with the church of Wee Jas, and have captured the Sawfish Boys for assisting with illegal necromancy. We notice that Kinto is missing from our group of captives, but the other three are still there. The guards take our prisoners into custody and we are escorted back to the Ruby Temple with only moderate hassling. We check in with Mossad, heal up, and go straight to bed!

First thing in the morning, we’re summoned to Marten’s office. I’m pleasantly surprised to find my favorite uncle, Justice Ironbriar Justice of the District of Dura, is also there. Unfortunately, my bright mood evaporates as it becomes clear he is not visiting, but in fact here under rather unpleasant circumstances. He inquires about our involvement in the deaths of Captain Tevlis and his two (secretly treacherous) guards, and a challenging conversation ensues.

The interview does NOT go well. We are implicated in the deaths, and Uncle Ironbriar, who could never be accused of nepotism, demands our arrest. Just when I think this can’t get any worse, Marten uses his considerable political clout and refuses to allow us to be taken into custody, assuring the Justice we’ll be secure in the custody of the church. Suddenly, the city jail is looking like a better option…

Uncle Ironbriar leaves and Marten lays into us, suspending our Keeper status! After a thorough dressing-down, we leave and meet with Mossad. He explains that he’s still in our corner, and will try to get to the bottom of this complex situation. I hand over our bag of evidence to Mossad and thank him for his support. We go have breakfast in the mess and return to our quarters – only to find our things have been relocated to the acolytes’ quarters! We trudge down to the common sleeping area and begin our new, mundane tasks as acolytes. Yay.

Our first task: The Potter’s Field. Cremation and entombment cost money that is rarely spent of the poor, Instead they are buried in the potter’s field, left to decompose, and the graves are eventually re-used, over and over. However, it takes skill and careful cataloging to prevent disturbing previous graves that have not had time to rest sufficiently. We spend all day in the archives going over the complicated plans so we can find an appropriate resting place for this week’s batch of deceased peasants. We give the burial orders, but a few days later we hear there were some problems with the plots we ordered for a few of our charges…

Next up: The Drowned Son The eldest son of a well-respected family loyal to the Cabal has drowned in the river – they desperately want him raised as they feel he perished before his time. They cannot afford the Commune spell, nor the cost to raise him, but they are insistent. They have been loyal parishioners of the Cabal for years, and we are keenly aware that mishandling this situation could cost the Cabal valuable members. We almost feel like Keepers again as we make our way to the somber house. Through sensitivity and patient understanding, by the end of the afternoon we convince the family to let their son go.

Then, we’re back to playing corpse-jenga with: Cataloging Catacomb 7A As is to be expected, the catacombs of Whitewall become overcrowded from time to time. When this happens, acolytes are sent into older catacombs to catalog the remains therein and determine where there is room to inter additional remains. This week, that’s us. We get to brush up on our Profession: Gravekeeper skills and spend several days carefully cataloging, reorganizing, and cleaning this section of the catacombs in preparation for future use.

During our “adventures in acolytism” in the Temple one day, we hear Marten curse and then stagger backwards through a doorway, clutching a fresh, bleeding wound in his shoulder. Naturally, we’re intrigued. Resisting the urge to start chanting “Fight! Fight! Fight!”, we sidle in closer for a better look. Moments later 31E hobbles into view, eyes red and weapon bloody! Marten sees us and demands we deal with our “rogue construct”. 31E matter-of-factly informs Marten that he cannot give him the key-plate under any circumstances, and demands to be taken to the Exarch at the Grand Terminus immediately. It’s a tense situation, but we tread carefully and manage to talk sense into both Marten and 31E. Marten reluctantly agrees to allow 31E to retain the key-plate (to Icosiel’s tomb in the Whispering Cairn see Episode 8), and 31E agrees to cooperate with Marten and the Cabal’s clergy (on the condition that said cooperation will not violate his programmed directives). We all gain 1 influence point.

The next day we’re back at it with: The Sickly Girl A young girl is very ill and near death. We visit the home to discuss arrangements with her family and ease their grief, but while we’re there, I happen to notice that she’s suffering from Red Ache, the same disease that almost claimed Tamclar’s wife. I bring this to everyone’s attention, and suddenly our focus shifts from easing her passage to bringing her back from the brink of death! We give her family detailed instructions on how to tend to her, and with some magical assistance and our careful ministrations, in a week or two the girl recovers and the family members all become loyal followers of Wee Jas!

A few days later we are assigned to investigate: Missing Gravediggers We receive word that several gravediggers have gone missing in Whitewall this morning. Gravediggers vanish from time to time in the Whitewall, so this isn’t terribly unusual. Occasionally, gravediggers turn to tomb-robbing and attempt to make off with their ill-gotten gains! We’re sent to get to the bottom of it.

When we arrive at the scene, we quickly rule out skulduggery. It looks like the workers were digging a grave when the floor collapsed beneath them. They must have breached the vault of an old crypt, not listed in the records. It appears they may have fallen in. We tie a rope to a piton anchored to the secure part of the floor and descend into the pit. We find a shovel on the floor directly under the hole, and at the other end of the room, two dazed-looking gravediggers. They don’t seem to notice us, which is odd. Just as we’re trying to figure out what’s wrong with them, my heightened hearing detects an incoherent babbling off in the distance. It’s so distracting! I’m forced to stare off blankly into middle distance while the rest of the party addresses the gravediggers.

Luckily, I snap back to reality just in time to brutally lay into an Allip. After it is dispatched, we turn our attentions towards the skeletons which start to pour into the chamber. We’ve got a lot on our hands, suddenly. Honestly, it’s the most excitement we’ve had in weeks. It becomes too much for Sarek to bear. Crackling with unspent magical energy, he fireballs the place without warning, which takes care of the skeleton problem but also immolates the hapless gravediggers, unfortunately. We climb out of the vault, seal it up temporarily, and report back to the Cabal.

That evening Mossad asks to speak with us. Marten is still very irritated with us, but Mossad hates to see our skills going to waste on mundane tasks. He recommends we leave town for a while to let Marten and the general political climate cool off a bit. We agree and make preparations to leave while Mossad works on finding a reason for us to be gone.

Meanwhile, Sarek and Haroldur have also noticed some of their inconsequential personal items are missing. We’re a bit concerned when we realize that someone is stealing from us. Our thoughts turn to the usual suspect – Hezzrak. We lure him out of invisibility with a game of chess, but we quickly become convinced that he’s not the one behind the thefts. Sarek cleverly convinces him to help us find the culprit.

The next day, it’s back to business as usual as we’re tasked with cataloging the remains found in the newly discovered crypt. We toil for days and produce a accurate and beautifully detailed record of the entire area. Around this time, Sarek receives a Sending from Lazare:

“A friend, Jarkardos, may have insight that can aid you in solving the mysteries of 31E37 and the Cairn. Go to Blackwall Keep.”

We relay this message to Mossad. He thinks Blackwall Keep is a perfect destination – a potentially dangerous journey, but remote enough so that the trip there and back will give things time to calm down in Istivin. He tells us he’ll look into this possibility.

A few days later, Mossad approaches us with a plan! Blackwall Keep is on the frontier of orc and goblin country. Because of this, detail on the Keep is dangerous and maintaining a sufficient garrison is always a concern. In fact, garrisoning Blackwall Keep is so dangerous, violent, convicted criminals are frequently offered the option to serve at Blackwall instead of going to prison – if they are still alive at the end of a two-year tour of duty, they are freed. Some choose to stay on at Blackwall and become part of the elite group of rangers which manage and run the Keep. It happens that a group of such criminals is to be dispatched to Blackwall Keep presently, and Mossad has arranged that we are to be their escort.

Additionally, it would seem that Tamclar, who has been studying in the Temple, is running into some difficulty. Mossad has observed that our favorite dwarf seems to be struggling to balance Our Lady’s tenets with the deep-seated cultural and ideological ways of his people. Noting that Tamclar is the type that prefers deeds over words, Mossad suggests that he shoud take a break from his scholastic endeavors and accompany us on our journey to the Keep. Perhaps he can find his way more easily in a forest than in a library…

We set off the next day, with Tamclar and our company of criminal scum. They’re unarmed and shackled together, but there are about 50 of them. About half an hour outside of town they make their first attempt at a mutiny. Fortunately, we’re able to intimidate them into submission – for now. This will no doubt prove to be an interesting journey. I lead us through the woods and we find a place to camp for the night. Just after dinner, Zollara appears to us and offers us a reading:

The Choosing:

Sarek: the Midwife
Haroldur: the Owl
Nineve: the Mute Hag
Ashe: the Queen Mother

The Spread:

The Foreign Trader…......The Dance….....The Unicorn
The Eclipse….............The Forge….....The Keep
The Joke…................The Midwife…...The Winged Serpent


Episode 11

Episode 11: 9/20/08

The Party:

Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-2
Haroldur, human cleric/4
Nineve Floret, human knight/4
Sarek, human wizard/4

We proceed down the stairs after Vander Anderhoff. Just as we’re leaving, we hear armed men running to the front of the building. Captain Tevlis of the city guard, accompanied by two of his men, bursts through the door. He demands we cease and desist. We try to convince him that his goals and ours are not mutually exclusive. He concedes, but insists on accompanying and keeping an eye on us while we investigate the slaughterhouse.

We decend down the stairs and Vander is waiting for us in ambush with several of his brothers! We rush into combat. As Nineve and I flank Vander, a vision of The Twin appears to me, and I gain a mirror image, meaning my foes will strike the image at least half the time! Haroldur and Sarek take on Vander’s burlier, angrier brother, Parn. Nineve eventually convinces Vander to surrender to her instead of dying on her blade. Haroldur finds himself in a bad spot and flees across the slaughterhouse… only to run into another of Vander’s barbarian brothers, Torkan! The cleric whittles him down eventually. In the meantime, the city guards turn on us and their erstwhile leader! Captain Tevlis, totally caught off guard, gets stabbed in the back by his own men and goes down. The guards are dealt with. Sarek also falls, but I manage to navigate the treacherous gauntlet of chutes, platforms and machinery, making it across the slaughterhouse floor just in time to save the wizard from certain doom. As the battle wraps up, we stabilize the three unconscious Sawfish (Anderhof) brothers, time them up, and hang them by their bonds from the line of meat hooks in the ceiling. Then, we proceed deeper into the slaughterhouse in search of Lord Ondore’s missing body.

As we’re exploring the warrens of the slaughterhouse, we stumble upon an ogre, who attacks! He catches me on his hook, but fortunately, Nineve disarms him of his weapon before he has a chance to drop me into the mysterious vat of bubbling slime he’s presiding over. As Nineve and I are battling the ogre, the 4th member of the Sawfish boys, Kinto Anderhof, sneaks up behind Haroldur and Sarek wounding them as he sneakily attacks them! Nineve and I finish off the ogre and turn our attentions to the last Sawfish boy. We quickly subdue, deprive him of nearly a dozen sharp knives, and tie him up with the rest of the Anderhof Brothers.

At last, we enter a room obviously used for illegal necromancy and other foul-smelling evils. Disturbingly, the walls of this chamber are lined with familiar-looking cylinders – acid zombies! We’ve all been through this drill before, so rather than waiting for them to burst out and attack, I pop the cylinders from afar with my bow, and surprisingly, the zombies slump lifelessly to the floor amidst the crashing of shattered glass and splashing, green fluid, probably acid.

Throughout, I can hear frantic chanting in an adjacent room, followed by some panicked-sounding but fluent cursing. Something must be going poorly… Suddenly, our old friend Filge the Necromancer bursts into the room. He must’ve heard our approach because he doesn’t seem particularly surprised to see us. He animates the zombies with his familiar “Arise, my beautiful monstrosities!” line. Then he runs away like a little girl.

The battle is joined. We mow through the zombies and chase after Filge. We burst through a door farther down the hallway and find him – with some friends. Filge and a closely hooded female seem to be arguing over the shambling, reanimated corpse of what used to be Lord Ondore. Two acid zombies, amassive skeletal monstrosity, and two cultists (from the shadows!) attack us. In what is becoming a disturbing trend, Filge uses foul magics to escape our wrath. The female and Lord “Shambles” Ondore escape up an elevator of some sort at the back of the chamber while we are locked in a battle royale with the rear guard. Between Filge’s pets, the cultists, and Haroldur’s uncontrolled spider swarm, it’s a tough fight, but we somehow manage to stay up and put them all down, only to see Ondore’s body, and its thieves, escape!


Episode 10

Episode 10: 8/9/08

The Party:

Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-2
Haroldur, human cleric/4
Nineve Floret, human knight/4
Sarek, human wizard/4

Zollara interprets our Harrow reading:

“Through your aid and prudence one who was lost without hope of salvation has been allowed to bring forth information from the darkness of forgotten history. One who has watched his comrades fall and was thought lost forever has been found. Elsewhere, a woman of dark power masks herself and shapes the events that will divide your future. A safe journey leads to a place of fellowship and camaraderie. Four crows, brothers in violence, plot in the depths where none who are led emerge alive. Within this place, a dark soul awaits the creeping touch of true corruption.”

Our return trip is uneventful, and we arrive at the Ruby Temple in Istivin without incident. We return to our cells to recover from our journey and await debriefing.

In the morning, we give Mossad our full report. Privately, I also turn over the curiously sinister box with the writhing runes. With these formalities out of the way, I find I’m feeling slightly adrift, like I may be losing my focus on Wee Jas after our recent adventures and departure from monastic life. I elect to spend 2 days in meditation to refocus on The Lady’s will. During this time, Sarek undergoes the ritual of the Ruby Initiate.

At the end of my meditations, I take 31E with me and we pay a visit to the (really creepy) lab of [[Dr. Morgus]]. The ‘good’ doctor is completely disinterested in the construct, but he takes my nutritive goo samples and says he’ll get back to me. He snatches the vials from me and immediately begins experimentation; he shooes us out of his lab without even looking up. 31E seems to take it all in stride (which is impressive, as he only has ONE LEG!!!), but I’m glad to leave the freakshow lab and go about my business.

The next day, I meet with the completely disinterested Marten and obtain a writ to undergo the Ritual of the Deathly Scholar, as well as the Ritual of Intuit Pattern. At dusk I head down to the crypts to learn these new secrets. Later, back in my cell, with my new found power I am able to finally translate the rune above the inactive portal in Icosiel’s tomb – “Amsophar”! I’m quite pleased with this bit of progress. Just as I’m putting my notes back in order, Dr. Morgus’s 3-legged hunchback appears and informs me that the Doctor can create an elixir which will permanently grant 5 HP to the user, at the cost of 1 pt. of Influence (for Morgus’s time). Unfortunately, I am no longer in a position to benefit from this discovery, but I share this information with the others, and Nineve and Haroldur each get a vial of the elixir.

Days pass and we begin to fall back into the routine of temple life, when we are summoned to Marten’s office. He assigns us to oversee Lord Ondore’s funeral (pt. 2), and introduces us to Myra, a severe-looking middle aged woman. He informs us that Myra will be observing us for a while. We hardly have time to ponder the meaning of this new development, as we are ambushed on our way out of Marten’s offices by an attractive young woman who introduces herself as Eledara Lillybrook. She pleads that the decision to leave her uncle Ondore in the realm of the deceased be repealed. She is quite animated and insistent. I swiftly lose interest – we’ve heard sob stories like this one a thousand times. As she shamelessly throws herself at Sarek and Haroldur, I notice she has a tattoo underneath the glove on her left hand, but I can’t quite make it out… Haroldur takes the bait and agrees to meet with her privately. I roll my eyes and stalk off to the requisitions officer. I put in a request for a wand of CLW and supplies for Ondore’s funeral tomorrow, and then spend the rest of the day in the library.

I’m looking into Jodai, a forgotten god of luck who is enjoying a popular resurgence among the commoners. Jodai is Chaotic Neutral (the worst kind!) whose portfolio is Luck and Games of Chance. His followers hold lotteries where they redistribute church donations to a few lucky faithful.

Meanwhile, apparently finished with his private audience with Ms. Lillybrook, Haroldur works with Advocat to determine if there’s any way to reinterpret the ruling on Lord Ondore. I’m a bit surprised by his tenacity, actually. However, he eventually runs up against the brick wall that is Marten, and eventually must admit defeat. The next day, he breaks the news gently to the crestfallen Elidara, and manages to make his failure to reverse an irreversible ruling seem like Marten’s fault. She gives him a small token of her appreciation for his efforts – a mundane ring bearing the Lillybrook crest. Humans are so melodramatic!

It’s the day of Ondore’s burial, so in the evening we proceed to the graveyard to preside over his second (and hopefully final) funeral.

Nineve gives a truly moving service, but it is once again interrupted by that interloper, The Hawk! Chaos erupts as thugs and zombies appear out of the woodwork, and the hearse bearing Ondore’s body takes off suddenly and crashes through the crowd!

The crowd surges forward in panic, and Nineve magically doubles in size, striking out at The Hawk, his followers and anyone looking suspicious. I manifest Expeditious Retreat (thanks to Zolara) and dash off after Ondore’s renegade hearse. Nineve, Sarek and Haroldur are reluctant to let The Hawk’s meddling go unpunished, but with some prodding from the ever-present Myra, they join in the chase. Some of the villains had crashed a carriage in the roadway in a well-coordinated attempt to impede our pursuit and make good their comrade’s escape in Ondore’s hearse. Fortunately, giant Nineve rights the toppled carriage in no time and Haroldur and Sarek use it to advance the chase. They soon overtake me as I sprint through the city after Ondore’s corpse.

We race through the streets, weaving through traffic and dodging obstacles. Sarek and Haroldur manage to catch up to the hearse and stop the escape – Nineve and I run up just in time to butcher the villains. Some of the men are dressed as thugs, and some are in robes. We do manage to subdue one of the band and take him as prisoner, along with the hearse-driver, who has clearly been charmed. However, a quick search of the coffin reveals that Ondore’s body is missing! We head back to the Ruby Temple with the hearse, the coffin, our prisoners, and the bodies.

Once we arrive, Haroldur and Sarek immediately set to the unsavory task of torturing the captive thug for information. Sarek is enthusiastic about the prospect… Maybe we should start calling him Sarek the Sadist… Nineve, the charmed hearse-driver and I rush inside to report to Mossad. We quickly explain the situation, and he meets us outside to search the hearse for clues while we remove the bodies. Mossad finds an empty potion vial and several black feathers. We commence investigation into the whereabouts of Ondore’s body immediately.

Haroldur and Sarek learn that the thugs were hired from the docks in Cliffside, and were told to steal the hearse. The captive claimed he saw some of the men in rust-colored robes pour a vial of oil on the corpse, which then promptly shrank to an impossibly small size. One of the robed men had a crow with him; he tied the tiny shrunken corpse to a crow’s leg, and the bird flew off.

In the hearse, Mossad and I find muddy bootprints, but upon closer examination, I determine the boots were caked in mud AND cow manure – which is rather unusual. Also, we notice the robes on the bodies are stained with blood along the hem… We conclude the robed men must’ve come from one of the local slaughterhouses. We’re about to split up and search all the slaughterhouses in the area when Mossad wisely suggests we interrogate one of the robed corpses using Speak with Dead. He finds an acolyte to cast the spell for us and we learn that the villains were supposed to rendez-vous at the Sawfish Boys’s slaughterhouse. With the help of the Cabal’s resources, we soon locate the establishment in question. We have no time to lose, so we set out for it immediately.

The Sawfish Boys are an unsavory lot of brothers, but as they fulfill a need, their brutish behaviour and questionable exploits are tolerated. When we arrive shortly after dark, the building’s lights are off and things are quiet. I scout the perimeter, but we decide to take the direct approach and knock on the door. A man who calls himself Vander Anderhoff answers, and we use our authority as agents of the Cabal of Wee Jas to convince him to let us have a look around. He is quite congenial, chit-chatting with us as he leads us to his office and shows us around. Next, he starts leading us down some stairs. Just before we reach the stairway, his veneer of civility drops. He draws his rapier and calls his dogs!

A pack of hounds, led by a dire wolf, bursts out of a room some distance behind us, and we are trapped between the beasts and their master. We beat up on Vander, but are unable to finish him off before he escapes down the stairs. However, the hounds are giving us some real trouble, so we are forced to let Vander go as we turn our attention to the vicious dogs. It’s a very tough fight, but after what seems like an eternity we managed to finish off the beasts. There’s no time to rest and regroup, though, as Vander has escaped into the bowels of the slaughterhouse…


I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.