Shadows of the Rift

Session Forty-Six
Civil Disobedience

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14 Chillwind 508

It is late. At Red Wolf Hall in Kalimsport, as Surm and Rilka come downstairs into the common room, Mõrvar, Savaric, and an obviously inebriated Halvor come walking in from outside.

Rilka spies a private room off of the common room. She goes to the front desk and arranges for its use. She sits down at the table.

Savaric asks, “Do we need to arrange for rooms?”

Surm says, “Mõrvar will, if he’s staying here tonight. Let’s sit and talk, things have come up.” Surm sits at the table and waits.

Mõrvar secures a room for the night and stabling for his horse. He will then sit alone at a table. He appears to be deep in thought.

Rilka comes and tells him that they’ve secured a private room and that they need to talk. Mõrvar rises and follows Rilka to the private room.

Surm stands nervously. Two issues have come up for you to consider. One, I have decided to separate from the group. Mõrvar, you seem unhappy with everything I do and say. You treat me as though I am the cause of everything that is wrong in your world, I don’t know how to get through to you, but you don’t seem to want me to anyway. The best solution I could reach was to take myself out of the equation. If I’m not part of the group, I can no longer vilify you, ignore your wishes, force you on quest you don’t want to go on, or any of the other selfish things you accuse me of. Where the group goes now and for what purpose is up to you three, I no longer have a say and will no longer stand in Mõrvar’s way.”

“Two, the sage we came to see has been taken from a dig site by orcs, reportedly to one of their islands. If we want the obelisk translated, he must be rescued. I have taken the lead on the rescue mission. I have been entrusted by the University to recruit a group of heroes to rescue the sage. Until I reach the city of the dig site and speak with the surviving guide, I won’t know how many heroes I need, but that is a seven day ride from here. That means this news is already a week old and by the time I get there, he will have been a hostage for two weeks at least. So, time is crucial, I will be leaving in the morning. I would like to hire your group to assist, I’ve worked with you all before and can trust you." Surm stands straighter to attempt a posture of leadership. “If you sign on, you will be working for me, I am in charge and decisions are mine to make. I will invite input, but it’s not up for a vote.” Surm sits down and breathes, slightly shaking from nerves.

“I’m all for helping you, but I’d like you to inform the university that two Orcs helped you in this mission. It’s hard enough on Rilka and I without this tribe making us look worse,” Savaric says.

Mõrvar stands up, tears in his eyes, and says with great pain. "Without you, there is no group. Why you can’t sit and discuss our issues I don’t know. I cannot let you separate from this group and go alone. If I am not there to protect you, then at least the only people I trust to are.” Mõrvar begins crying. “Now you force me away? I disgust you that much? You hate me that much? You need this group more than I, and they need you more than they need me. It is clear I’m the odd man out. I will leave you alone Surm, stay out of your way, never to bother or upset you again.”

Mõrvar pulls Deathblow from his back and places it, his ring, and his amulet on the table in front of Surm. “At least take these. If you no longer wish for me to protect you, then use these, too.” Mõrvar turns and leaves the room.

The group is at first left dumbfounded by the outburst. But then Savaric heads upstairs and talks to Mõrvar. He convinces him to come downstairs and take this quest as an opportunity to reconcile things with his brother. Mõrvar contemplates this and decides to follow Savaric downstairs.

The group, now Rilka, Savaric, and a very withdrawn Mõrvar, decide to accompany Surm on his quest to rescue the sage. Surm stresses that Mõrvar must vote to go because he wants to, not because Surm forced him to—that’s the point of him doing it this way and leaving the group.

Surm stresses that time is of the essence—they’ve already lost two weeks and it is a week’s journey to Asdari, where they will get more information from the guide that survived the attack. He is inclined to recruit more help once they get to Asdari. Also, he announces that Alasir and Mahgnus has elected to follow him out of the group, in order to help protect Surm and to ensure he travels with those he trusts. They have, however, indicated that they are willing to continue their usual duties for as long as needed during the transition. Rilka indicates that she’ll probably need to pick a new sergeant for the troops.

Mõrvar and Surm continue to argue. Surm stresses that what he’s doing is “giving you space—do with it what you will” and emphasizes that it is Mõrvar’s decision whether to come or not.

Surm offers 500 gold pieces in compensation plus “reasonable” expenses as payment for the quest. Savaric asks about the spoils of war and Surm indicates that the University makes no claim on the spoils of war. However, Surm does stress that there will be no reward until the sage is returned.

Rilka dismisses Surm, who goes to his room. He tells Mahgnus and Alasir what transpired and asks them to wait to tell the other soldiery about their separation until things get worked out.

Meanwhile, in the private room, Rilka, Savaric, and Mõrvar discuss the need for this “cooling off” period and the fact that family is important. Mõrvar brings up that he’ll need to see the armorer before he leaves as he’s got custom armor in the works. He also thinks that the party might be interested in hiring Beldis for this mission. Rilka is extremely dubious of that proposition and they end up talking Mõrvar out of that idea.

They also discuss the fact that Surm is currently handling their group funds. They’re prepared to allow him to continue to do so until the group (hopefully) gets reconciled.

What about Alasir continuing to control the troops? Rilka thinks that it would be best to keep things as they are for now. She also stresses the need to keep arguments away from the troops—to maintain a unified front. After they meet, she goes to find Sum.

“We accept your terms. Alasir will be nominal head of the troops. We won’t be informing them of the split,” she says.

“Alright,” Surm says. “That brings me to a touchy subject. Group funds. Do I cut myself out a fourth of them or do I keep them altogether but continue to have a vote on how they are spent?”

After a brief discussion, it’s decided to keep the group funds intact and that Surm gets a vote in how they are spent, erring on the side that, at some point, the group will come back together.

Everyone goes to bed after a long, emotional, day.

15 Chillwind 508

The group—and Surm, Mahgnus, and Alasir—pick and go as if everything were normal. Mõrvar leaves a message with the innkeep for Beldis, saying that he may be back in a couple of weeks. The entourage then starts to leave town, with Mõrvar stopping off at the armorer making a similar two-week arrangement. They leave the city along the Southgate road and leave out of the south-east gate.

Along the way, Savaric tells Alasir that there’s no hard feelings and that he appreciates him looking out for Surm. Alasir says he appreciates that.

The entourage passes through a manned checkpoint into Kuskar.

18 Chillwind 508

The eastward road turns south at the mountains. They pass through a guarded mountain pass of Acheran soldiers.

19 Chillwind 508

The road takes the party to the city of Zyend. They pay gate takes and decide to save time and pass through the city instead of going around it.

22 Chillwind 508

That afternoon, the entourage arrives at the gates of the city of Asdari. They pay their gate fees and make their way inside. Surm gets information on the location of the University.

The University at Asdari is not quite as grand as the one in Kalimsport, but it is not small, either. The monitors come by and help direct them to Rahin Noorasi. Noorasi is apparently a Fellow of the University, an administrator and donor, not a sage. They are taken a very well-apportioned office and introduced to a well-dressed man with a neat goatee. Surm apologizes for their road-dust but they are in haste and explains their purpose there. Noorasi seems very snotty toward the half-orcs but is otherwise helpful. He indicates that the guide, Achir, is recuperating in the temple of Azumazran. He arranges for a guide for them by the name of Halim, whom he places at their disposal.

Halim guides them through the streets. The young man is very impressed with their retinue and makes a great show of clearing the street for them.

The temple of Azumazran is a very ancient and well-apportioned structure. Large columns inlaid with gold and ivory adorn the entrance and many people are coming in and out. Inside are men and women in blue and white robes and long hair and beards, covering their hair with hoods and turbans, ministering to people as they come in. There are robed figures praying at a great flame in the center of the sanctuary. One of the turbaned priests approach Surm, Rilka, Savaric, and Mahgnus (who came inside) and identifies them as strangers. He asks if they need help.

Surm identifies himself as representing the University of Kalimsport, presents his letter from them, and indicates that he understands that they are caring for a guide named Achir from an expedition that was set upon by orcs. They would like to see him. The priest reads the letter and agrees to let them see Achir.

The priest leads them to a back-room where a hospital has been set up. Several cots are laid out with wounded people and priests are tending to them. One such person is a man who looks like he has suffered from exposure and from being beat about. He looks up at the party in confusion and the priest says, “Achir, these people have come from the University. I believe they wish to speak with you about the sage that was taken.”

Surm introduces himself and the others and says that, indeed, he’d like to hear what happened. “They came in the night,” Achir begins and describes the raid of the orcs on the camp. Apparently there were about twenty orcs altogether, and 5 game riding in on Gortheks, great beasts that are crosses between rhinoceroses and buffaloes. Kerendal only had a guard contingent of 6, so they were vastly outnumbered. The other survivors were a guide named Azura Mirasi and a guard named Angelet Nyweth. Apparently the leader of the raid, Balug, was impressed with Kerendal because he wouldn’t back down and took him. Achir saw them get back on their boats and head out. There was also drumming with the orcs as well. They flew a standard with a red flame on it.

After questioning Achir, Surm asks Halim if he knows any experts on Orcs. Halim says that he knows of one, but he sounds a bit dubious. Surm asks him to tell him who it is and he says she’s a bit notorious. Apparently her name is Noor Khandasi and she can be found at an inn known as The Hydra. “Is it on the bad side of town?” Surm asks. “Well, it’s not on the good side,” Halim says. Surm wants to be taken there, so Halim agrees.

The Hydra is a dilapidated inn in an impoverished part of the city. It bears a sign with a multi-headed reptilian beast over the door. Raucous laughter can be heard from within. Surm, Mahgnus, Rilka, Savaric, and Mõrvar dismount and head inside. Mõrvar immediately heads to the bar and orders a bottle of whiskey. Surm, infuriated, goes over and tells his brother that they are on the job and to put the whiskey back. Mõrvar is sullen and doesn’t respond very well to Surm’s demands. The two go outside and argue, with Surm insisting, as his employer, for Mõrvar to fall in line with everyone else or to quit the job. Mõrvar looks for support from Rilka, but Rilka says that Surm is acting like an employer. Mõrvar sullenly falls in line. They reenter the common room and Halim points out Noor Khandasi sitting at the back of the room.

Noor Khandasi is an Acheran woman with a long scar across her face and outlandish clothes. She looks up warily as the party approaches her table. “Are you Noor Khandasi?” Surm asks.

“I am,” she says.

Then Surm makes introductions and indicates that he represents the University of Kalimsport and needs an expert on Orcs for a rescue expedition he’s heading up. He gives a brief rundown of what’s happened and what he needs. Noor indicates that her information doesn’t come for free. Surm counters that she may be compensated if it turns out her information is good, but not before. Noor doesn’t seem to like that proposition. She brings up that the University probably has deep pockets and that there is probably a reward for participation. Surm allows that there is, and that he’s prepared to offer 500 gold pieces for participation in the expedition. Noor likes that proposition better than the thought of “maybe” being compensated for her information at a later date. She’s in.

The red-flame standard that Achir spoke of indicates that this is the Bloodflame Clan. They are based out of Karsk, a orcish settlement on one of the Islands of Urkhan. They are known to take slaves for their own purposes (labor, breeding, etc.) and for sale to the Tarsians. They are apparently led by a Orc called Gorruk. Noor has not heard of Balug. Karsk is a settlement carved out of an old set of ruins. She has never raided Karsk itself—she usually hunts in smaller groups.

Surm feels like he need to recruit more help. Noor doesn’t really have any recommendations—she usually works alone. She keeps eyeballing the two half-orcs warily. They’ll also need a ship to sail over to Karsk. Noor has a small craft that can make the journey. Surm intends to rescue whoever the orcs have—not only Kerendal and the two women, but anyone else enslaved. That means the ship may be overrun. That means they may have to have a specialist force—small, but elite. And not bring the soldiery.

They agree to meet Noor at her craft, the Azure Dawn, in two days. She says she’ll have her ready in one day. Then the party leaves to make plans to recruit more help. They also decide to have two soldiers volunteer to stay behind with the ship so that they have someone they can trust there with Noor’s crew.

Halim leads them to a reasonable inn, the Arrow of Lightning. Halim is then dismissed with the request to meet them back at the inn in the morning. Then they get the retinue situated into rooms. Mõrvar buys a bottle of whiskey and heads to his room. Rilka calls for two volunteers to stay with the boat during the mission. Tarben and Sorcha step forward. Seemingly unsatisfied with the results, Rilka offers a raise in pay of 1 gold per day for the duty. Then everyone volunteers. Surm asks Alasir to pick from the volunteers. He chooses Sorcha and Einar. Tarben looks frustrated and Surm claps him on the shoulder, telling him that his initial volunteering did not go unnoticed.

Mahgnus, Tarben, and Rilka are sent out to look for recruits, as are Surm, Alfhild, and Savaric.

Surm’s group gets a lead on someone called Scarlatta the Quick. She is apparently a capable adventurer that fits the bill for what they are looking for and is trustworthy. She apparently travels with a group calling themselves the “Bronze Griffons.” She is staying at the Copper Flagon. They head in that direction.

At the Copper Flagon, they ask the barkeep to point out the Bronze Griffons. He points out a group of four sitting in the common room. One is a large human male wearing a holy symbol of a set of scales with a sword as the fulcrum. Savaric points out that this is the symbol of Barthal, but Surm disagrees. There is also a petite Acheran woman and an Elven male. Finally, there is an athletically built female with a wicked smile who is apparently telling a joke. As the party approaches, she finishes the joke and the Griffon’s all laugh.

Surm clears his throat to get their attention and asks if they are the Bronze Griffons. The elf allows that they are. Surm says that he is looking for one of their number, a Scarlatta the Quick. They all look to the woman who told the joke and she protests that they only just got into town, that she didn’t do anything to get them into trouble. Surm assures them that he is not with the Watch. He represents the University of Kalimsport and is here to inquire about her interest in a job. She invites him to sit and assures him that anything he has to say can be said in front of her friends. Chairs are brought for the others as well.

Surm explains the parameters of the mission to Scarlatta and she seems thoughtful. She indicates that she does not work alone and he assures her that there are others on the mission and he lists them off, including Noor Khandasi. The other woman, the Acheran, indicates that she’s heard of Noor Khandasi, and that she collects Orc ears. Surm takes this in stride and says that she apparently knows the area and a great deal about Orcs and that is why she is on the mission. He was unaware of that habit.

Throughout their conversation, he is aware that the paladin (who may or may not be of Barthal) and the Elf have been having a “conversation” of their own, with the paladin nodding “yes” to the Elf and the Elf making signals of reluctance to the paladin. Finally, the Elf relents and says aloud, “We may be willing, as a group, to take on this mission.”

Surm demurs, saying, “Alas, I have room for only two on my boat.”

The Elf sighs after another look from the paladin. “We can provide our own transport. We would still like to join in the rescue.”

Surm brightens. “That’s excellent. I can offer you 250 gold as reward, payable on the return of the sage. Of course, we plan on rescuing all we can.”

The Elf looks pained. “That is acceptable,” he says.

Surm asks what they have to offer, as he was lead to believe that Scarlatta offered stealth (which was why he was there). The paladin, whose name is Alban, is a paladin of Barthal. Surm seems shocked. The Acheran woman, Prana, is a “master of illusions.” The Elf, Jalynel, lists himself as a fighter that can provide “air power”, but doesn’t elaborate.

Arrangements are made for the Bronze Griffons to meet the group at the Azure Dawn tomorrow morning and Surm, Savaric, and Alfhild take their leave, quite pleased with their results.

Meanwhile, Mahgnus, Tarben, and Rilka follow a lead on a stealthy elf by the name of Tarquinn who frequents a tavern by the name of the Bloody Unicorn. When they arrive at the rough-and-tumble tavern, they are directed to a very rough-looking elf sitting at the back of the room. As they approach, the elf keeps his eyes on Rilka while addressing Mahgnus, who does all the talking.

Mahgnus introduces himself as representing his employer, who in turn represents the University of Kalimsport. They are hiring for a rescue mission into Karsk. The reward is 500 gold pieces and reasonable expenses for a being of his talents. They were wondering if he would be interested. Tarquinn continues to stare at Rilka and says, “I don’t work for Orcs.”

“Aren’t you cute,” Rilka says.

Mahgnus looks back and forth between the two of them and says. “I have obviously wasted your time, sir. This is not the job for you. Good evening to you.” They make their way toward the door, with Tarben and Rilka forming a barrier between the elf and Mahgnus.

“Wait a minute, I am interested in your job!” the elf says, indignant.

“No, I don’t think you’re right for the position,” Mahgnus says, bustling out.

As they make their way out, the elf calls out, “You’ll be sorry you didn’t hire me, lousy Orc lover!”

Rilka and Tarben remain on high alert as they make their way back to the Arrow of Lightning. Mahgnus comments that he thinks he got some bad information.

When everyone returns to the inn, they compare notes on their relative successes and failures. Rilka goes upstairs to inform Mõrvar of what has transpired and to see if he wants to meet their recruits. He seems disinterested and smells of whiskey. Rilka leaves him to it.

23 Chillwind 508

Arrangements are made for the majority of the soldiery and the porters to stay at the inn. After breakfast, Rilka kisses Kortash goodbye, and everyone heads to the docks. Einar and Sorcha will accompany the rest of the party to the docks. They head to the slip where the Azure Dawn is docked. It’s a fairly dilapidated little ship. They are met on the deck by a swarthy man without a shirt who gruffly asks them their business. “You must be the northerners then,” he says when Surm introduces them. He lets them on board. Noor comes up and welcomes them on board as they see the Bronze Griffons approach. Introductions are made all around.

The Griffons will be sailing in a ship called the Ivory Horn. Noor gives them coordinates for their captain to follow as to where to weigh anchor off the coast of the island where Karsk lies as a rendezvous point. The Griffons wish everyone safe journey and head off to their ship. Noor pulls up the anchor and ships out.

1 Harvest 508

The week of sailing is cramped, sweaty, and uncomfortable, but otherwise uneventful. Noor’s two crewmen keep to themselves and are never introduced. Land is finally sighted and the anchor is dropped off the coast. When Surm expresses dismay that the ship is harbored at the island, Noor is sharp with him about not wanting to run her ship aground. They’ll have to take rowboats from here. That’s going to slow down the rescue operation considerably.

After some thought, Noor sails around to the other side of the island, with the Ivory Horn following, and puts in at a lagoon, a natural harbor. It’ll mean more hiking through the jungle, but at least they won’t be sitting ducks in a rowboat. They all disembark from their respective ships and begin hiking through the jungle, with Savaric and Scarlatta taking point. Mõrvar and Noor believe that it will be 10 to 15 miles to Karsk from here. They start heading southwest through the jungle. Savaric has Ghost guard the ship along with Einar and Sorcha.

As they hike through the thick vines and foliage, everyone questions Jalynel about his choice of weapon—a lance. He says that he has a mount—a griffon. The rest of the party is a bit incredulous. He explains that he can summon it twice per week. Still, the party is a bit dubious of his claim.

At the end of the day of hard hiking, Savaric finds a clearing in which to camp. He finds signs of tigers, Orcs, and Gorthek which have traversed through the campsite in the past day. He decides to find another campsite. As the sun sets, he finds another clearing that seems less well-trafficked.

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Interlude: At Red Wolf Hall
Private Conversations

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14 Chillwind 508

Alasir and Alfhild get the soldiery into formation as the train heads to the inn. Alasir makes it clear that they are still on the job until they are dismissed.

The Hall is located near the city center, not far from the University. One can see the University’s amphitheater up on Sage Hill from the inn.

Red Wolf Hall is a very nice inn with many creature comforts. The innkeep, a ruddy-faced man with a receding hairline, does make it clear, however, that he does not allow lodging in his common room. Rooms will have to be secured for everyone. Fortunately, rooms appear to be available, though people will have to share and it will be tight.

The common room seems lively, filled with well-to-do travelers and visitors to the city center, as well as their retinues. There is a small stage in the common room that currently appears to be empty.

After a brief discussion with the innkeep, it is ascertained that there are 9 private rooms, 3 small suites, 2 average suites, and 1 Luxury suite. Rooms, meals, and stabling are secured for two days. Once room assignments are made, the soldiers head out to the common room, with the exception of Halvor, who heads out the door.

Rilka nods her approval. She arranges for a personal bath & laundry service. As the guards and gear get settled, she touches Surm’s shoulder and says in a low voice, “It would be good for us to talk. Let me buy you something to drink.”

Surm says, “I’d like to get the obelisk to the sage, it’s going to take time to research. I’ll go make those arrangements now, you hold down the Hall in case someone returns, probably in trouble. I’ll take Mahgnus and Alasir with me.”

He begins packing. Before he leaves, Rilka points out they should also arrange for rooms for Savaric and Mõrvar. “Savaric intends to bring your brother home tonight.”

Surm says, “That’s not what I understood, Mõrvar plans to stay out on his own and I thought Savaric was too. But, we can book Savaric a room if you think he’ll return without Mõrvar.”

Rilka replies, “He said he was accompanying Mõrvar to let him blow off some steam, then they were going to catch up with us. I assumed that meant later on tonight.” She pauses, “Although perhaps you are both expecting that process to take longer than I was.”

Surm arranges for a room for Savaric on his way out with Mahgnus and Alasir to visit the University.

After a quick bath, Rilka waits in the common room and keeps an eye on things. She doesn’t distance herself from the guards, but is relatively quiet.

When Surm returns a couple of hours later, he finds Rilka. “Rilka, may we speak privately in your room?”

Rilka nods and rises from her chair. They head upstairs to talk.

Later, when Rilka and Surm re-emerge and head downstairs, Rilka will speak briefly with Kortash and invite him to share her room that night. Kortash gladly accepts the invitation.

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Interlude: At the Fat Hero
Drinks with a Tryst

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14 Chillwind 508

After stopping off at the armorer’s so that Mõrvar could place place an order, Savaric and he head to the Fat Hero.

The Fat Hero is located near The Jetties, which is essentially a city park located between the east and south gates of the city. A waterfall is formed here through the city walls where the Lesser Mondira River meets the Arahani River. The water is gathered in a smallish (but deep) lake. The lake is surrounded by park lands.

The inn looks slightly dilapidated and in ill-repair. It could definitely use a paint job. A sign hangs out front depicting an obese man practically busting out of a suit of plate armor. Savaric and Mõrvar can hear raucous laughter and music coming from inside the common room. They can also smell sweat, cheap ale, and the faint odor of cat piss in the air over the smell of river water from the Jetties.

Inside they see a common room filled with working class, and lower class, humans, half-orcs, half-elves, dwarves, halflings, and even a few goblin sidekicks. A raggedy human bard is playing a fiddle on a makeshift stage, narrowly dodging debris being halfheartedly thrown at him by the goblins. A balding, eye-patch wearing half-orc is behind the main desk.

As they walk in, Mõrvar tells Savaric to watch out for thieves. He stops just inside, his chest bowed out, and scans the room for female companionship. A surly-looking dwarf with a puckered scar for a left cheek scowls at Mõrvar as he walks in. Morvar gives him a death stare and the dwarf backs off, muttering into his drink, clearly shaken by the look. Mõrvar spots a comely woman sitting on the lap of a bald bruiser, though it’s clear she’s a “professional.” He also sees an attractive woman wearing black and silver leathers sitting at the bar. She appears to be half-elven and wears a longsword and dagger at her side. She seems amused by the antics of the goblins and appears to be drinking alone. Mõrvar selects a table and settles in, keeping a hand on his belt pouch. He asks Savaric to secure them rooms for the night.

Savaric, for his part, does not secure rooms. He’s hoping to return with Mõrvar to the Red Wolf Hall tonight and join the others. Savaric returns to the table with a pitcher of ale. Soon, they are joined at their table Halvor, one of the soldiers in their retinue.

“I told you all to set up at the Red Wolf, what are you doing here?” Savaric demands.

“We’re all set up, sir. We were dismissed and Master Mõrvar said something about free drinks,” Halvor says.

“Master Mõrvar obviously isn’t feeling well. Here is your free drink," Savaric pours from his pitcher, “I hope you’re as interested in bring him back as much as I am,” Savaric says.

Halvor sips from his mug, “Emotions are running high, to be sure. Maybe some hearty taverning will do the man some good. I’m happy to help in any way I can to make sure he makes it home safe and sound.”

“Still not sure what to say to get some sense in his head, but I suppose we have some time to come up with something," Savaric says.

Mõrvar sees Halvor and shakes his hand in welcome. He then makes his way over to the bar and the comely half-elf. He asks her what she’s drinking and orders the same for himself. He also sends a bottle of whiskey over to Savaric’s table. She’s having ale and happily takes the offered drink. She introduces herself as Beldis.

The two converse with each other in Tradespeak for a time, enjoying each other’s company. Mõrvar keeps an eye on his companions, making sure they always have drinks. He watches his own drinking, however, not drinking as much as Beldis or his companions.

Beldis is an adventurer between jobs. Her last adventuring party broke up over an argument about dispensation of the shares of the last take. She’s in town looking for a job and a party—she usually doesn’t work alone. She’s done work as a scout and, occasionally, as a thief. She’s Boraelan by birth, but has traveled around quite a bit.

She urges Mõrvar to drink—she doesn’t like to be the only one drinking.

Mõrvar has another drink, but can tell that Beldis is drunk. She asks if he’d like to go upstairs and Mõrvar says that he would. Mõrvar sends another gallon of ale to Savaric’s table.

Savaric and Halvor see Mõrvar heading upstairs with the half-elf woman as another gallon of ale reaches their table. Savaric hears a whispered Message in Joslac not to follow them up.

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Beldis is sleeping peacefully. Mõrvar collects his things and makes sure nothing is missing. All is intact. He heads downstairs and leaves word with the desk that he can be found at Red Wolf Hall. He finds Savaric and says, "I believe it’s time to move on to the Red Wolf. I am done here.”

“Excellent, let us get back to the others,” Savaric says.

Halvor, for his part, is happily drunk. The three of them head back to Red Wolf Hall.

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A Tale of Three: A Drop of Blood
An Open Contract

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24 Starfall 500

Over the past couple of weeks, the party has been busy. Althessamari has managed to open the chest they procured from the Tarsian ship. It contains a pouch with 100 gold pieces and a bloodstone. They take the bloodstone to one jeweler who swears that the stone is only costume jewelry and only worth 5 gold. The party doesn’t believe him and take it to another jeweler, a Kelwyn Sells, who gives them a fair deal of 50 gold pieces for it.

On this day, Elhana is heading to the Alehouse of the Cats to meet her friends. Suddenly, a halfling appears out of nowhere and throws herself into Elhana’s arms and whispers “BK 27894”. Elhana also notes that the halfling has slipped a key into her hand. The halfling has blood all over her. Then, just as suddenly, a crossbow bolt is shot into her back. Elhana looks up in time to see a cloaked figure making its way quickly into a a nearby ally. Elhana picks the halfling up and carries her into the Alehouse, ignoring the gathering crowd and shouts for the Watch.

Althessamari and Lee Xin see Elhana carrying the halfling and are dumbfounded. Althessamari clears off a space on their table and Elhana places the small woman down. Althessamari checks the halfling for signs of life, but has bad news—the halfling is dead. She pokes her head out the door to see the gathered crowd and a small Watch contingent, in the livery of City of Kalimsport, coming down the street. The Watch split, some going into the crowd, the other half coming into the Alehouse.

The lead Watchman comes up to Elhana and asks, “Do you know this halfling?”

“No. She gave me a number,” Elhana says.

“A number?”

“I don’t know what it means,” Elhana says.

“Do you know who did this?” the Watchman asks.

“A man in a cloak. They ran into an alley,” Elhana says.

Althessamari says, “I’m sure our friend can show you what alley and can corroborate with other witnesses.”

The Watchman turns toward Althessamari, scowling. “What’s your name?”

“Althessamari.”

“Stay here.” He then directs Elhana to direct him to the alley where she saw this cloaked man. She does so and the watch checks it out. The other Watchmen come up and the they have a private discussion. Finally the lead Watchman tells Elhana and her friends that they may go if they wish. They pick up the halfling’s body and take it with them. Then the Watch heads out, assuring everyone that the magistrates will be notified.

The three friends discuss these recent events. Althessamari brings up the possibility that the number the halfling recited could be a chest number from the Bank of Kalimsport. The key that Elhana got has a matching number etched on it. They decide to head to the Bank and see what’s in the chest.

They head to the bank via a circuitous route, in case the cloaked figure is following them. The Bank of Kalimsport is a grand building with lots of people coming in and out. They are approached by a well-dressed man who asks if he can help them. Althessamari asks if she can see her chest. They are brought to a back room where Althessamari is asked to sign a ledger. She signs illegibly and and then is taken to a sitting room where a small chest is brought to her. She opens the chest with her key and inside are three items: a map, a contract, and a pouch of 50 gold pieces.

The map has two notes on it. One indicates a secret entrance at the Morose Demon. The other indicates a Shrine of Kysk. Althessamari and Lee Xin know that Kysk is also known as Lord Blood, a god of death and murder and is often followed by assassins. The contract reads as follows:

Be it resolved that the undersigned Parties, who shall hereafter be referred to as “The Party” shall be entering into an Agreement with the Undersigned, who shall hereafter be referred to as “The Benefactor” for their mutual Benefit.
In short, The Party shall retrieve the Artefact known colloquially as “The Circlet of Persuasion” from the Cult of Kysk, located (as discussed by the undersigned parties) beneath the City of Kalimsport in exchange the sum in total of one hundred gold Florins. Fifty gold Florins will be paid in advance and fifty more will paid by the Benefactor upon delivery of the Artefact. Delivery of the Artefact is to be made as soon as humanly—or demi-humanly—possible. The Benefactor can be found most days at the esteemed University of Kalimsport and can take delivery of the Artefact there.
This Agreement is entered into by all Parties with sound minds and hearts, unclouded by drink or magical coercion on this Eighth Day of Starfall in the Five Hundredth Year of the Age of Tears.

Maerin Bevans, Master of Artefacts, University of Kalimsport (Benefactor)
Polla Codswoddle, Scout (Party Member)
Arla Steelshield, Knight of the Shield (Party Member)
Ozymandius of Iosabail, Wizard (Party Member)
Mavis Trevan, Scribe, University of Kalimsport (Witness)

The party decides to follow the map and fulfill the contract. But first, they decide to gear up before heading over to the Morose Demon. After gearing up, they head over to the Temple District where the Morose Demon stands. It is a ramshackle dive bar owned by an ex-priest, at least according to the information they’ve gathered.

As they head toward the tavern, Althessamari and Lee Xin spot someone following them. They lead the man into an alley and ambush him. Elhana shakes the man up while Lee Xin stuns him and takes him out. Althessamari stabilizes him. The man has a small blood drop tattoo on his face. They find no poison on his weapons. Lee Xin puts on his masterwork studded leather while Althessamari tries to hide the body.

They finally arrive at the Morose Demon. They head into the alley behind the tavern looking for a secret entrance. They do see a cook throwing out potato peels. They fail to find an entrance, finding only food droppings and old jugs. A large man pokes his head out of the back door and castigates them for lingering around his alley. He tells them the entrance is around front.

Elhana takes the lead and they go around front. The large man acknowledges them as they enter. Lee Xin and Althessamari go to the bar to secure the gambling room while Elhana sits a table. A drunkard comes by and harasses Elhana, wanting to start a fight, and punches her in the face. This starts a free-for-all in the tavern. In the meantime, Lee Xin and Althessamari have made arrangements to rent the gambling room. Elhana makes her way to the room to meet the others.

Once they get in the room, they search it out for a secret entrance. They don’t find one. They venture out into the tavern again as the fight rages on. Elhana searches the privies while Lee Xin and Althessamari search the kitchen. No luck in either case. They come back to the gambling room and search again. This time, they find a secret entrance beneath the table. They head down and shut the entrance behind them.

They find themselves in a largeish chamber with “Bayrd Davys waters his beer” scrawled across the wall in Tradespeak. The room smells of sewer and leads to a smaller chamber and some tunnels, according to the map.

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Lee Xin searches the chamber out, but finds nothing of interest. They head into the smaller chamber and find alternating black and white tiles on the floor, but nothing else. The tunnel circles around and they head to down to a larger chamber where they are met with a swarm of rats. Althessamari tries to distract them with the ghost sounds of dogs barking, but this doesn’t seem to work. They eventually defeat the swarm through brute force. Althessamari searches the chamber for anything of interest, but finds nothing.

In the next chamber, they encounter a creature that Althessamari identifies as a Cave Fisher, a crab-like monstrosity with a filament that it shoots out to draw in prey. They defeat the creature, eventually, and search out the room. There is a bloody drop painted on the far end of the room, with a cloud of insects gathered around it—as if it were painted with real blood.

The next chamber is apparently empty. Lee Xin searches it out, but finds nothing.

Before entering the next chamber, Althessamari hears clicking sounds coming from it. They decide to press on. Inside they find giant ant! They fight the large monstrosity and are victorious. Lee Xin searches the room out and finds nothing.

They make their way down to another chamber small chamber and encounter another Cave Fisher, which they defeat. This chamber has “Daveth Pynrose is a poof” written in Ornish across the wall. After this fight, Althessamari administers some healing spells. They search the room and find nothing of interest.

In the next small chamber, they encounter some giant centipedes. These they defeat handily and search the room. They find nothing. They then backtrack and head for another series of chambers. In the hall along the way, they encounter another Cave Fisher, which they defeat. In the chamber, they find six Dire Rats chewing on some refuse. They defeat the Dire Rats and search the room—they find nothing of interest.

They then backtrack to the room in which they fought the first Cave Fisher. Lee Xin removes the armor he’s been wearing and they take another passage, heading to another series of chambers. They head into one chamber and discover that it is empty. They search it out and find no secret entrances or other things of interest. They decide to head straight to the Shrine of Kysk.

Along the hallway, they pass a spot where someone has scrawled in Ornish “The Overlord sucks griffon eggs”. They also pass a small water leak. As they get closer to the shrine, they can hear chanting. They approach stealthily and see a figure standing with his back to them in the doorway. Lee Xin sneaks up behind him and punches him out. The man falls.

“Intruders!” comes a call from across the room.

Lee Xin rushes inside. From across the large room come two more guards. In the center of the room is a stone table with a man lying on it, strapped down. Three cultists are gathered around the table. One is wearing a circlet and is holding a short sword over the prone man. The cultists turn toward Lee Xin as he runs in. His companions follow close behind.

Soon the guards join in the general melee as Lee Xin, Elhana, and Althessamari engage with the three cultists. Finally, the three companions are victorious and the cultists and guards lie unconscious on the floor. They free the man strapped to the stone table, who appears to be drugged. He’s wearing nothing but a loincloth. Althessamari asks him his name and he says his name is Lavan.

They take the circlet from the lead cultist. There is a brief debate on whether or not to keep the circlet, but it is decided to go ahead and turn it in to the sage per the contract. The strip the cultists and guards down and collect their weapons and armor to sell. They then head out through the secret entrance in the Morose Demon, treating the drugged cult victim like their drunk friend.

The barkeep stops them on the way out and berates them for not ordering drinks often enough for his liking. Then he lets them go.

The three friends head to the Alehouse of the Cats, renting a carriage to do so. It’s early evening at this point and the streets are going to be dangerous carrying all of this loot. Once they get to the tavern, they craft a note for the Watch to go and collect the cult and send a street kid to deliver it.

The man that the party rescued is Lavan Dormas. He’s a cartwright and lives in the Southern Market District of the city. He was apparently kidnapped while coming home from a tavern. They offer to escort the man home and he gladly takes them up on the offer.

25 Starfall 500

The three friends meet once again at the Alehouse of the Cats before heading over to the University. There they ask for, and are led to Master Maerin Bevans. The party tell their story and explain how they came upon the contract and the money and, finally, produce the Circlet of Persuasion.

Master Bevans seems impressed with the story and tells him that he is prepared to honor his end of the contract. He pays them the remaining 50 gold and asks if he can have contact information in case he has other dealings that he can call upon them to help secure. The party give him contact information for each them and their business is concluded. The three head back to the Alehouse to celebrate.

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Interlude: Answers
A Stormy Confrontation

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14 Chillwind 508

Outside of Master Yew’s home in Kalimsport, Mõrvar brings up the possibility of changing the party’s group name again, as well as the sigils for individual party members on a group banner. He would like the matter settled.

Rilka likes both “Winter’s Storm” and “Northern Storm” as a name. She is less concerned with an individual sigil. She’d rather look like a unified group, rather than have multiple symbols/sigils on everyone. And her vote still hasn’t changed—she’d rather have a single symbol on the banner than individual sigils. It’s simple, easier to recognize, and striking.

Savaric doesn’t care. “If we do change it he likes Northern Storm, Winter’s Storm, and Winter’s Warriors in that order,” he says. Savaric agrees with Rilka, “The individual symbols you made for us all were cool and we can still use them if we want on our own time. I think the single knot design was best, putting all the symbols make it look a bit too busy.”

So Mõrvar says that that means that the new group banner is the Shield Knot without individual sigils by a vote of 3 out of 4, as Surm never cast his vote, leaving the name down to Surm’s vote as it is deadlocked.

Surm says that he like neither of the names (Winter Storm or Northern Storm) as “storm” has a negative connotation. “Like we’re here to storm the castle or storm the south. It sounds aggressive to me and that’s not what we are about,” he says.

Mõrvar says, “I disagree, tainted has a negative connotation, but I don’t think Storm does. I think Winter’s Storm says exactly what it says. A storm spawned by winter. Northern Storm may have that connotation, like we are storming the north. If you disagree with Storm, then give us something other than ‘I don’t like it’ because right now 3 of us do.”

Surm says, “Maybe I should pout and threaten to leave the group since my opinion is being disregarded. I seem to recall someone else acting that way when three voted against him, the very same person now embracing the majority rules rule…interesting how that works. After all your whining about being ignored, about how the name and flag should represent all of us equally, and now you take a dismissive and impatient tone with me…I guess as long as the vote goes your way, then majority rules is fine, all four being equally represented has suddenly become less important to you.”

Surm narrows his eyes with his best “I’m burning a hole through your skull glare” and says, “I have nothing to offer, three to one it is, name Your group what you will, brother.” Surm walks away to contemplate alone.

Mõrvar says, “Really? I just agreed with you that you may be correct with Northern Storm possibly carrying a negative connotation. Secondly, I didn’t dismiss anything you said, I disagreed with your statement about Winters Storm and while disagreeing realized that I might actually agree with your statement about Northern Storm. I’m pretty sure that’s not dismissing anything but rather the opposite and giving your statement recognition.”

Mõrvar looks at Rilka and Savaric, and asks “Am I wrong with that assessment? And as far as the flag, the entire fact that we even looked at and considered a standard with sigils was 100% because you (Morvar points at Surm) wanted to see what it looked like. I tend to agree with Savaric that it made it look to busy, but we at least took a look at it and gave it thought before we said we like the flag without better. What upsets me is that no one ever entertains the ideas or desires I have and never even takes them in consideration. But, go ahead and give me shit about it. Obviously my feelings mean nothing here. Apparently I’m just some dumb brute who hates the world and cares about nothing."

Mõrvar, with a very upset and very hurt look on his face, mounts his horse, and begins to ride away.

Savaric says to Rilka, “Well this is fucking awkward…”

Surm turns around and says, “The reason I’m so angry with you…” He sees Mõrvar mounting to leave, and screams "ARE YOU EVEN GOING TO LISTEN TO ME? YOU RANT FOR DAYS ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS AND I’VE DONE NOTHING BUT LISTEN AND TRY TO UNDERSTAND, EVEN WHEN I DISAGREED I STILL TRIED. NOW ITS YOUR TURN TO LISTEN AND YOU’RE TOO SELFISH TO GIVE ME THE SAME COURTESY. GET OFF YOUR HORSE AND SHOW ME YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOU’VE BEEN PREACHING! OR RIDE AWAY AND SHOW ME WAS JUST MANIPULATION TO GET WHAT YOU WANT!”

Surm’s face is red of embarrassment for having an outburst in front of Master Yew’s house and looks around for some place to go hide, but he just stands in the street shaking, waiting to see if Mõrvar dismounts or rides away.

Rilka looks between the two brothers, then says in a calm, even tone, “This is neither the time, nor place, for this conversation. We need to secure either lodgings for ourselves and the company or make encampment outside of the city.”

Mõrvar turns his horse so that he is facing Surm. He is clearly upset and looks to be in physical pain as if he is holding back either an outburst of anger and aggression or an outburst of tears and agony…hard to say.

He takes a deep breath to calm himself, and in as a calm of a voice as he can, while looking directly at Surm who just tried to burn holes in him with his eyes, Mõrvar states:

“I have spent my life protecting you, following you, trusting in you. I have put your life before mine every day since we last saw Father. I have been hit, stabbed, sliced, and blown up trying to keep you as safe as I could. Every time we have gone to battle, my first, and only concern has always been how to keep you alive. When you or anyone else in this group have made suggestions or had ideas, we have thought about, talked about, and analyzed them. We have discussed them thoroughly. With the exception of the group persona and my reasons for wanting to change it, or if we are knee deep in shit and need a plan to get ourselves out of it such as Yrda, not once has this group respected me enough to sit down and discuss those things that I have an interest in. Not once have we really talked about if there is a way that we all agree upon to accomplish the things I wish to accomplish. Not once have we analyzed or thoroughly discussed all possibilities. Not once have I felt any support from you, brother, whether you agree or not with my ideas, to bring it to the table and give it the same treatment as we do with all other ideas, or desires. Not once have my ideas even been entertained. Maybe they are impractical or impossible, but we will never truly know because you guys won’t give it a chance to be discussed. I expect support from my brother, to at least be heard out, and not shot down off of assumptions or lack of interest before discussing it. So, go ahead and be angry, be upset, be hurt, because that is how I have been feeling for some time."

Surm says: “Do you want to know why I was so angry that I blew up? When I voiced my opinion about the group name, you countered with, ‘the 3 of us agree’. As if that settled it, as if all of sudden, you, Mõrvar, have always embraced the majority decision. You’ve rejected 3-1 time and again, and then threw it in my face when it worked in your favor. That’s what made me so mad. Like you haven’t spent weeks complaining that 3-1 dismisses you and your feelings, but when its me, then its a perfectly suitable tool for resolving disputes.”

“But now, you have the nerve to sit on your horse and accuse me of not supporting you! I guess planning an expedition to a cursed island to retrieve a magical boost to your strength doesn’t count as support in your mind. I guess loaning you the money to craft your special sword was selfishness on my part. I suppose, even though I didn’t agree with your business model, offering you the 14,000 of my share so you could go ahead with your plan because it was that important to you was just me being a complete bastard!”

“And as for ‘following’ me and ‘trusting’ me, that is a joke. If you did follow and trust me, we wouldn’t even be having this argument because you would see that everything I do benefits you. You don’t trust me, you wouldn’t even let me handle the negotiations of the items from our last haul. You had already appraised them and given me the numbers, yet, when the time came for his man to do it, you had to stand over me and supervise even though I asked you not to. That’s not trust! If you trusted me, you wouldn’t feel belittled by the group name, you’d recognize that it’s just business and it benefits you. If you trusted me, we wouldn’t have spent countless hours arguing about your business venture, you’d have let it go a long time ago. The fact is, Mõrvar, no one supports you more than I do, and no one trusts me less than you do. I’m sorry you feel otherwise, but you seem to give me no credit for anything, and short of cowing down to your every demand, I don’t think your low opinion of me and the horrible way I treat you is likely to change.”

“Don’t respond now, think on what I’ve said while we find lodging as Rilka suggested. Separating from the group in anger before we have a base of operations to meet is foolish.”

As Surm and Mõrvar continue to argue in front of their retinue, Rilka’s hands tighten on her horse’s reins and she sits up even straighter in the saddle. At Surm’s last words, she takes a deep breath, then repeats evenly, “Let’s go find lodgings. Now.”

The soldiers are all shifting nervously in their saddles during this display. Alasir rides up and down the line, trying to instill discipline, and doing a fair job of it, but it is apparent that everyone is uneasy in the face of the ensuing drama.

Finally, the procession starts to move out. Surm does some asking about for lodging near the University and settles on Red Wolf Hall, a well-to-do establishment. Mõrvar asks for some place “good for a traveler to raise hell and cut loose”. He settles on an inn called the Fat Hero, located near the Jetties.

Rilka says she wants to get their entourage off the street and secure safe lodgings … and their belongings. There’s already been one theft, she doesn’t want another. “It may also be difficult to fit a group of this size into a single inn. We may have to try several before landing on one with enough rooms.”

Mõrvar, who still looks as if he is steaming inside says, “You’re right, probably not enough room for us all. Guess I’ll head elsewhere tonight.” He turns to Alasir, “Once they figure out what they are doing with you guys, if you are any of the men are up to it tonight, I think the Fat Hero is calling my name.” Mõrvar then looks at Surm as he begins to turn his horse in that direction.

Surm says quietly (shaking his head sadly): “I guess your going to reject me then, my advice means nothing. Farewell and watch your back brother. I honestly hope you spend this night with someone you do trust, it is a dangerous city and you are going to a dangerous place.”

Mõrvar says “I never rejected you, it is the other way around. I have told you what bothers me, what upsets me and what hurts me. In response you justify why you do what you do and how it shouldn’t. You villianize me. You make me out to be the bad guy and try and make me feel like it’s all my fault. You even throw petty things like the standard at me. Hell, I spent countless hours working on developing one standard for the group. That turned into developing personal standards for each person. I have gone through more than five different versions of a group standard before three of us finally agreed on something, and you take that as a win for me? You say that voting worked in my favor for that? Yes, you have taken us on expeditions to benefit the party, but I wasn’t the one who asked for going to a haunted island. I am not the one who asked to go a dwarven stronghold. The things I have asked for have been either thrown to the side as trash without any consideration, or has been a fight just to get you three to even see my point of view. Never has it been, hey, lets talk about this and give it a fair assessment. I don’t remember saying I had any desire to stay at some fancy inn. Hell, as usual, I don’t remember you even asking what the rest of us wanted or where we wanted to stay. You care so much about wanting to rub elbows and being seen as one of these fancy rich fucks that you don’t even toy with the idea that some of us might not want that lifestyle. I am a northerner, and though there are things about these southern folk I do appreciate, such as their acceptance of our kind (Morvar points back and forth between he and Surm), there are things I despise. You drag us all over getting us these “jobs” but typically you don’t even ask if we want the jobs. You just assume we do. You do it to build vanity, brother, not for the best interest of the group but for the best interest of you. It is your best interest to make me as powerful as you can to protect you. Never have you wondered if what we do is in my best interest. I am not saying I won’t follow you on your journey to be a southerner, but what I am saying is it would be nice if at some point you would take a look at other’s desires, and maybe treat those around you as equals. You are so caught up in being one of them, brother, you forget your really one of us. I am tired of being disrespected. I imagine you’re sitting there and still have no idea what I am even talking about. Tonight, I don’t want to stay in some fancy inn surrounded by elitist snobs who think they are better than everyone else because they were born privileged. Tonight, I stay with assholes and cutthroats. Perhaps a good bar room brawl will erupt. Hell, maybe I’ll even wake up stripped of everything I own and left for dead. That has to be more entertaining then what can be found at the Red Wolf Inn. In fact, (Morvar looks around at the entourage) are any of you interested in joining me at the Fat Hero? If so, drinks are on me.”

The soldiery continue to look uneasy in their saddles. Alasir looks from Surm to Mõrvar to Rilka to Savaric and back again. “Sirs? Are we being dismissed for the evening? Are we still proceeding to inn? What are our orders here? None of us are going to leave until our job is done.” He says this last part with a stern look back at the troops.

Surm looks as though he might respond to Mõrvar, then simply gives up with a sigh.

Surm says to Rilka, “Emotions are high, you take command of the troops. Dismiss them now or have them finish their duties as escorts, but let’s move.”

Savaric says, “You guys go get settled at the Red Wolf. I’ll go with Mõrvar to the Fat Hero so he can blow off some steam and we will catch up with you.”

Rilka speaks directly to Alasir. “Your orders are to first provide escort until we find a safe place to secure lodgings. Once there, then you can arrange for the guards to take leave.”

She turns towards Mõrvar and Savaric and says crisply, “Start looking for us at Red Wolf Hall. As I said before, we don’t know if that’s where we will end up. I’ll try to leave word if we have to look elsewhere.” Rilka then begins moving her horse forward.

Mõrvar and Savaric turn towards the Fat Hero as the procession turn toward the city center and Red Wolf Hall.

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A Tale of Three: Cry Freedom
A Rescue

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17 Starfall 500

It has been a week since our heroes’ last adventure. They have cashed in and split their treasures and once again find themselves enjoying each other’s company at the Alehouse of the Cats in Kalimsport.

Their usual barmaid, Gwynfer, is not her usual perky self. She seems…distracted. She gets their orders wrong and is friendly, but only on the surface—not like usual, when she genuinely seems happy to see her favorite customers. Althessamari asks her if something is wrong and the barmaid comes clean.

Apparently her brother, Jory, didn’t come home last night. Jory is a dock worker, a longshoreman, and he usually comes straight home after work. But he never showed and Gwynfer is worried sick. Lee Xin and Althessamari ask her some more questions about his habits and it is revealed that he works with some men named Domwald and Walsey, but Gwynfer doesn’t know where, just somewhere on the sprawling docks of Kalimsport. Gwynfer bustles off to help some more customers and the three friends agree to help Gwynfer by finding out what happened to Jory. They’ll start by tracking down Domwald and Walsey.

Althessamari goes to Gwynfer and lets her know what they plan to do. Gwynfer is pleased and thanks the group for their efforts.

Elhana, Lee Xin, and Althessamari then head down to the docks to begin asking after Domwald and Walsey. They don’t really get a bead on the two longshoremen (Elhana’s method of interrogation is particularly ineffective), but they do hear that there have been more disappearances on the docks.

As they are making their way around, Lee Xin notices a small boy passing him and then running away from him. He looks down and notices that his pouch is missing. He takes off in pursuit, yelling for the others to follow. The boy jumps across a gully and Lee Xin follows. Elhana has trouble with this, but Althessamari doesn’t. The boy then tries to climb a fence, but doesn’t clear it, allowing Lee Xin to catch up and grab the boy by his ankles. Althessamari shows up and does the same thing. The boy thrashes about calling the two a couple of “weirdos”. Finally Elhana catches up and intimidates the boy into giving up. He hands over the pouch and gives them some information.

Apparently a Tarsian ship, the Black Moon, is in dock and is pressing people into service. That’s why people are disappearing. The boy doesn’t know where on the dock the ship is. The group finally lets the boy go.

The group then decide to start asking around about the Black Moon. They soon find themselves in a hairy situation: they are in a narrow street and a man pops out of an alleyway ahead of them. Two more pop out behind them, pinning them in. They have short hair and beards. They all draw scimitars and come at the three with violent intent in their intense amber eyes.

The fight is short, thanks to Elhana and Lee Xin’s fighting prowess and Althessamari’s spellcasting assistance. Two of the three attackers are down and out and the third drops his sword and surrenders. From him, they learn that the Black Moon is docked in the southern part of the docks, near the Southern Market District of the city. They tie the man up, along with his comrades and leave him in the alleyway. Then they head to the south end of the docks to look for the Black Moon.

After some searching, they come across a ship with a black crescent moon carved into its prow. Althessamari and Elhana hang back while Lee Xin does some reconnaissance. Lee Xin watches in secret as three figures depart from the ship. One is a broad-shouldered woman with long braids in her hair, festooned with beads, gemstones, and shells. She has olive skin and intense amber-colored eyes. A second figure is male, also with long braids in his hair that are filled with beads, gemstones and shells. His forked beard is also decorated in the same fashion. His frame is thinner and more wiry than the woman’s. The third figure is decorated in much same manner as the other male, with a forked beard and long, decorated braids. He also sports a long scar on his left cheek. The three stride confidently off of the ship’s gangplank and head off into the dock district toward one of the taverns there. Lee Xin stealthily makes his way back to his companions and reports what he saw.

They decide that if they are going to hit the boat, now might be time while those three are off the ship. They are hoping that it was the main officers of the ship taking their leave and only leaving behind a skeleton crew to man the ship in their absence. Lee Xin will go first since he is the stealthiest, followed by Althessamari, and finally Elhana. They will approach in the water and climb up the rigging onto the deck. Althessamari will distract any crew on the deck with a Ghost Sound of “Hey!” and a whistling sound to draw their attention to the street.

They slip into the harbor water and swim to the ship and then climb up the ship’s rigging on the Black Moon’s deck, not without some difficulties. However, they all eventually make it. Much to their relief, they find no crew on the upper deck. They quietly pull up the gangplank. Then Lee Xin stealthily makes his way to the staircase leading down to the lower deck.

As he heads down the staircase, the monk sees a crewman heading toward the staircase. Lee Xin quickly moves to meet him and catches him off-guard. He makes quick work of the crewman, but alerts another man who was patrolling on the same deck. Elhana and Althessamari make their way down to the deck to assist. Between the three of them, the crewman is dealt with quickly. Lee Xin makes a point of catching the crewmen and gently laying them down before letting them hit the deck floor. The staircase continues down to another deck. Lee Xin follows it down, quietly.

He makes it to the next deck unseen or heard and sees two more crewmen. He sneaks up behind one and surprises him. Elhana and Althessamari follow shortly behind and begin to engage the other one. Once again, they take out the crewmen, with Lee Xin gently laying their unconscious bodies on the deck. From below they hear the sound of moving metal—like the shaking of chains. There is another short staircase leading down to yet another deck. Lee Xin follows it down. The others follow him.

Lee Xin emerges on a smaller deck and finds himself face-to-face with another crewman. The fight is fast and furious, but once again the monk emerges on top. He gently lays the crewman down on the deck. Then he hears another sound—snoring. From multiple sources. He goes to the end of the deck to check it out.

Meanwhile, Althessamari and Elhana see a line of people chained to the side of the deck shaking their chains. There are 15 people chained up there altogether—including Jory Grybbin. There are halflings, a dwarf, an elf, half-elves, and humans. Males and females. Althessamari asks them to keep it down while they try to find a key to get them out. Sure enough, they do find a key on the last crewman that Lee Xin had taken out. They unlock the chains and free the prisoners, who reveal that the Tarsians are actually slavers.

Lee Xin goes to the end of the deck and sees about a dozen hammocks hanging in the alcove formed by the end of the ship. All full of sleeping crewmen. He quietly backs away and informs his companions. “We need to get out of here. Not that way. We don’t need anything that way,” he says, pointing at the other end of the deck.

At this point, all three companions notice a cabin at this end of the deck. Althessamari goes to check out the door. It is locked. Never one to let that deter her curiosity, she picks the lock and opens the door. It is a small cabin, modestly furnished. They search it and find a secret compartment in the wall. Inside the compartment, they find a small coffer. Althessamari takes the coffer as “compensation” for the misery these people have caused.

The companions then round up the prisoners and head back up to the upper deck and carefully replace the gangplank. They then depart from the ship and make their way to the Alehouse of the Cats.

All of the prisoners thank the companions profusely for saving them. Apparently they were all taken on the docks of Kalimsport within the past couple of weeks. They all then head back to their homes. Gwynfer thanks the companions as well and has a tearful reunion with her brother.

View
Interlude: On the Road to Kalimsport
A Southbound Journey

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1 Chillwind 508

The party leaves the city of Aldasar behind through the south gate and heads down the road toward Kalimsport, the “hub of the world.” The day is windy and, typical of the month, a bit chill. Alasir has the troops in formation around the wagon and Rilka and Mõrvar ride at the head of the procession.

People come into and out of the city along their path and largely have to go around their entourage as they take up most of the available space on the road. Toliver Yew doesn’t seem to mind. He’s beaming ear to ear as the procession makes its way through the city and down the road and only lets go of his grin when the people start to dwindle and the sun starts to go down.

The party makes a camp on the roadside, with Mahgnus’ efficient guidance, and watches are established by Alasir and Alfhild.

The night passes without incident.

3 Chillwind 508

The past day and night have passed much like the first, though Toliver’s mood is not as bright without the light of public attention to illuminate it. This day is particularly quiet, with little to no traffic on the road. However, one person of interest catches the party’s eye…

Meeting the entourage on the road from the opposite direction is a man on a heavy horse with chain barding. He bears a lance in the crook of one arm and a banner bearing two symbols in the other: a white star and a brass dragon. A heavy steel shield is slung on the side of the horse along with his saddle bags. He wears banded mail on his body and a scimitar at his side. His suit of armor includes a conical helm and a metal veil that is currently hanging off of his face. That face bears a neat beard and Southron features.

Mõrvar knows that the symbol of the brass dragon represents Azumazran, a good Southron deity. He also knows that based on the style of the man’s armor, and the metal veil, that he is probably Acheran. Acherans wear veils when they go into battle to symbolically blind themselves to the violence that they are about to do.

Surm knows that the symbol of the star indicates that he is most likely a cavalier/knight of the Order of the Star, an order whose members devote themselves to various religions.

The man pulls his horse over to the side of the road to allow your troupe to pass. As the entourage pulls up beside him, he calls out in Tradespeak, “May the Light of Wisdom shine upon you!”

Rilka nods at him as they pass and replies in turn, “And may your heart be filled with Courage.”

Mõrvar simply nods his head but keeps an alert presence as they pass.

As the troupe passes, he, too, watches warily as it goes by. Once he has room to traverse again, the knight returns to the road and starts continuing on his way.

5 Chillwind 508

In the middle of an early morning thunderstorm, you arrive at the gates of the city of Pylar-Holton. Pylar-Holton straddles the borders of Leilior and Ornis, with the town of Pylar on the Leilioran side and the town of Holton on the Ornish side.

Toliver Yew informs Surm that he has some business he’d like to attend to in the city.

Mõrvar and Surm discuss the possibility of moving around Pylar-Hollton, but as it fords a river, that makes things tricky—especially with a wagon. There will be gate fees at both Pylar and Hollton. Surm asks if Master Yew will be paying the gate fees for the escort and Yew responds, “We didn’t negotiate my paying of your travel expenses when we discussed our terms."

“Very well, Captain Rilka is not one to quibble over a few coppers," Surm says.

The gate guards inform them of the gate fees and shrugs apologetically. “Everything is high these days. Even taxes. Times are tough these days in the city.”

Once the gate fees are paid, the entourage makes it way into the town of Pylar. It’s a nice town, settled on the River Ornis. They see the pennants of the city depicting a white stag, rampant, on a green field, snapping in the storm winds. It’s raining pretty hard as the storm blows through.

Master Yew directs the procession toward a nice section of town, near the temple district. Once there, he asks for a halt in front of a particularly fine home with a circular drive. Here he disembarks from his wagon and tells them that he is heading inside. He should only be a short time and that the procession should wait. Thunder rolls and the rain falls down in a sheets.

Mõrvar tells Surm, "We are his escort, perhaps you and I should accompany him to this home. Never know were another impression or contact could be made.”

Surm calls out to Master Yew, “Master Yew, do you need escort inside?”

“I don’t anticipate any troubles, but it would be a nice front. Sure, maybe a small show of force would be appropriate,” Yew says.

Mõrvar dismounts as if there really is no question, and positions himself to escort Master Yew as if Mõrvar was his personal bodyguard. Surm dismounts to go, but looks to Rilka to see if she is coming. At Master Yew’s words, Rilka dismounts as well, moving to walk step-in-step with Surm.

Mõrvar, Surm, and Rilka all fall into step to escort Master Yew into the house. The four of them approach the house’s front door at the portico and Master Yew raps on the door. It is answered by a young woman in a maid’s outfit. Master Yew announces himself as “Master Toliver Yew and escort.”

The young woman curtsies and invites them all inside. They are directed to a small parlor off the main entrance where a sideboard with a decanter of brandy sits as well as a small tray of cheese and bread. Yew helps himself to the food and drink and takes a seat.

Soon after that, a tall thin man comes into room dressed in fine clothes. He has a large mole on the end of his nose. “Toliver, you’re soaked to the skin!” the man says, shaking hands with the Ornish merchant. “Have some more brandy to warm you up!” The man pours himself a glass and sits down across from Yew.

“Connall, it’s raining outside, of course I’m soaked,” Yew says with some gravity, but with a smile. He sips his drink. “This brandy is excellent by the way.”

And the two gentlemen begin a conversation as old friends, completely ignoring the three escorts in the room.

As the two catch up and reminisce, Yew manages to secure an exclusive contract to sell Connall’s silks at market in Aldasar. Finally, the two say their goodbyes and Yew, all smiles, heads back out to the horses.

By this time, the rain has let up and the sun is poking out from behind the clouds. It’s chilly, though, especially for those still wet from the rain.

The procession now heads to the Great Bridge and crosses the River Ornis into Hollton.

The gate into Hollton charges a tax of 3 copper per person, 8 copper per livestock. As they pass through, they are welcomed into Ornis. Master Yew has no business to conduct in Hollton, so they are free to pass through and continue on their way for the rest of the day.

7 Chillwind 508

It’s a windy day as they wend their way down the road and see, perched up on a nearby hill, shining in the noontime sun, [Tower Iosabail], one of the fabled Towers of Wizardry located throughout the continent, where wizards and sorcerers gather to ply their craft and learn new spells.

9 Chillwind 508

This morning on the road, they arrive at the gates of Glofthall. The pennants bearing the green field and golden boar’s head snap in the crisp breeze. The guards announce the gate fees of 2 copper per person and 3 copper for the livestock.

Surm manages to convince the guards that the wolf will be on its best behavior. It is treated as livestock.

Glofthall is a large town, pleasant enough, but they see a lot of its citizens eyeballing them as the procession makes its way through town—not in an unpleasant way, but in a gossipy way. Signs indicate that there is a pass that leads west through the nearby Slayt Mountains that leads to the town of Wycliff in Eacenia. Also, apparently the town is ruled by a Baroness whose hold is in the center of town on Baron’s Hill.

They pass through the town and arrive on the other side without a hitch and continue down the road.

10 Chillwind 508

It’s a moderate day, weather-wise, when they arrive at the gates of Laketon around noon. Laketon is just off of [[King’s Lake]], the second largest freshwater lake in the known world. The road passes through the town and they are asked to pay the tax (2 copper per person, 3 copper per livestock). Once again, Surm convinces the guards that the wolf is not a safety issue. The procession makes its way into Laketon, with the guards assured that the wolf will be well-handled. As they make their way through the winding streets, they can see that Laketon is a prosperous town and proud of its proximity to a natural attraction.

14 Chillwind 508

The morning is windy and a bit warmer than usual as they approach the great port city of Kalimsport. There is a long line of people waiting to get into the city. Laborers, merchants, entertainers, courtiers—people of every type vying to pass through the gates. To the west is the Sea of Jirra; its salty air is carried on the wind.

Eventually, the procession makes its way to the head of the line and to the North Gate. There you are met by City Watch soldiers in Kalimsport livery: A white field with a blue dolphin emblazoned on the front. While some of the Watch deal with Toliver Yew and his declarations concerning imports for sale, another address the party and their gate taxes. “5 copper per person, 1 silver piece each for your livestock. And 1 silver for the wolf as well,” a guard says, eyeing Ghost warily.

After paying their gate fees, the party finds itself in the city of Kalimsport. Kalimsport is a city like no other. It’s huge, its crowded, it’s bustling with life—and it’s a day before market faire—so crank it up a notch or three and you get the idea.

Traffic is thick in the streets with other wagons of merchants trying to get to the market district to set up for the faire. Visitors have come from miles around to see the faire and all the entertainments it provides. Speaking of entertainments, street performers are on every corner, juggling, singing, playing, trying to pry coppers from passersby. The noise is deafening and the stench is blinding. It takes forever to make their way through the streets as Master Yew’s wagon is slow on the best of days and glacial in this situation.

Alasir does a good job of ensuring the soldiery keep close to the wagon and keeps an eye out for any ne’er-do-wells that may have an eye on the merchant’s few goods he has left.

Eventually, the entourage makes its way to the city’s Southern Market District. Once there, Master Yew brings his wagon to a stop at a modest home with a small fountain out in front of it. As he disembarks from the wagon, he calls Surm over to him. “I suppose we need to settle up. That was 19 silver per day, right? Follow me.” And he starts heading toward the house with a large key ring in his hand.

Mõrvar dismounts and follows, checking his belongings to see if anything is missing. Now that he’s able to look, It does appear that in the crowded press of people on the way here that his sack with his soldier’s clothes got torn away from his gear somehow. He announces this fact to the group.

“Do you know where you last left it? I don’t know if I can track with all these people,” Savaric says.

“I’m sure it was ripped off in the crowd. Who ever made off with it is lucky I didn’t see them, or I would have detached another head from it’s shoulders,” Mõrvar says.

Mõrvar and Surm follow Master Yew to the house while the others wait behind. He takes his key and unlocks the large lock on the front door and lets them inside. He bids them to wait a moment while he lights the lamps, as there isn’t much light. He does so and then leads them into a sitting room.

The sitting room is simply furnished—it is nice, but not extravagant. He once again asks them to wait while he fetches their pay. He then brings them back a pouch full of silver coins. “Nineteen silver per day for thirteen days. Our bargain is complete,” he says, smiling. “My trip to Aldasar has been a very profitable enterprise indeed. Should I travel again, may I call upon you?”

Surm says, "Of course, and may we call on you as our guide to Kalimsport, we’ve never been this far South and it’s always good to have a local friend?”

“Certainly,” he says, “What sort of direction do you need?”

“Well, directions to the University of Kalimsport would be helpful. I am seeking a sage by the name of Mandreth Kerendal,” Surm says.

The merchant gives Surm the directions he seeks. The University is near the city center, sitting upon Sage Hill. The two men take their pay and exit the domicile toward their procession.

View
Session Forty-Five
Final Death

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28 Transformation 508

The Lich has just Teleported away after a battle with the party on the grounds of Lord Cannach’s estate. The party is debating what to do next…

The debate is whether to track him to tonight or in the morning. And whether or not he teleported to his phylactery or not.

Rilka asks if there is anyway to keep him from casting Teleport again and the possibility of counterspelling it (by casting Teleport at the same time) comes up. So they discuss buying a Teleport scroll and using it against the Lich.

Mõrvar asks Surm about Ulfric, the son of Ulrich of Barth that was sacrificed, according to the folios they found. Apparently Mõrvar remembered their uncle Thormax talking about an Ulfric in regard to family history. Surm gives Mõrvar a blank stare and tries to keep his composure, as Surm was not discussing their findings in the folios with the other party members.

Then Surm comes upon the idea of shutting him up—keeping him from verbalizing the spell. They could buy a scroll of Silence and cast it near him to keep him in its spell effect, but disallow him from resisting it. In this way, he could not verbalize his spells to cast them. The trade-off is that anyone else in the area will not be able to cast spells either. At first they think about casting it on something on Mõrvar since he will be up in his face and will keep the Lich within the radius. Mõrvar doesn’t like that idea because he wants the ability to cast his spells.

They go and report to Lord Cannach the results of their battle and their future plans.

They decide to forgo taking watches with the guards as it will leave them fatigued the next day, so they leave that task to Lord Cannach’s house guards.

When they get a private moment, Surm takes Mõrvar aside and pops him upside the head. “I haven’t talked about that shit with the others! That was a private conversation! Don’t talk about shit I haven’t talked about with the others!” Mõrvar actually manages to look chagrined.

29 Transformation 508

Surm heads to the University to talk to Mother Olanan about some leads on some Silence scrolls. The others stay behind in case there is any danger at Lord Cannach’s estate.

Surm rides into the city, pays his gate taxes, and goes to the University. Once there, he walks to Mother Olanan’s cottage and raps on the door. “Enter,” she says from inside.

“Mother Olanan,” he says as he steps inside.

“Master Ulrich,” she says, looking up from her desk.

Surm takes a seat and catches her up on the events involving the Lich since their last meeting. “So he got away again. I don’t where he went, but I imagine he’ll be coming back,” he says as he sums up.

He also brings up the fact that Savaric’s arrows seemed to have no effect on him. Is this a power of the Lich or was that a spell?

“Ah,” the priestess says, “that could be amongst his powers because, like many undead, he could be impervious to piercing weapons. It could take, say, a bludgeoning weapon—and a magical one at that—to do him harm.”

“My first priority is Silence. I’m looking for a Silence spell to stop him from casting Teleport again, should we meet him combat for a fourth time,” Surm says.

“I see,” Mother Olanan says. “I take it you’re wanting this in the form of some sort of…”

“Scroll or wand,” Surm says, nodding, “preferably something in multiple scrolls or a wand with multiple charges since it lasts only a short time.”

“I take it time is of the essence,” she says.

“We’re hoping to track him today,” Surm says.

“Normally I would like to help you in this regard myself. I am a scriber of scrolls in my own right. However, I do not current have that spell in repertoire at this time, and therefore it would take me a day to have it available. That would delay you, which I do not wish to do. However, there are many shops in the marketplace which would be able to assist you in a more timely manner. I can recommend one that is a fair dealer, but they are a dealer. Abad and Lida’s Scriptorium.” The priestess/sage gives him directions to the shop—it lies in the University district.

Surm thanks her and bids her good day. He then leaves the University and heads for the Scriptorium.

The shop is marked out front with a traditional swinging sign that reads, in Tradespeak, “Abad & Lida’s Scriptorium”. However, there is also a stone obelisk with Acheran characters in front of the shop marking it as such. Surm heads inside and sees behind the counter a balding Southron man and a Southron woman behind the counter with him. People peruse glass cases with various scrolls in them. Behind the counter are pigeon-holes containing scrolls. There are books in cases around the room. There are fine quills on display.

“Welcome to the Scriptorium! How can I help you?” the man says as Surm walks in.

“Are you Abad?” Surm asks.

“I am,” the man says.

“Ah, I am in need of scrolls. I need Silence spells,” Surm says.

“I see. Let me check my inventory,” Abad says. Then he calls to the woman in a language that Surm doesn’t understand and the woman heads into the back room of the shop. After a few moments, she returns, nodding to Abad.

“We do have such items,” Abad says.

“Excellent! Do you have three?” Surm asks.

Abad turns to the woman. She nods.

“Only scrolls?” Surm asks.

“That is my merchandise. It is my specialty,” Abad says with a bow.

“Then I would like to purchase three of them,” Surm says.

“I see. Then that will be 450 gold pieces,” Abad says.

Surm pulls out his Rod of Wonder. "Perhaps you would be interested in purchasing this and will defer some of the cost. I know you deal primarily in scrolls, but you are in the city and do business with other merchants. This, my friend, is a Rod of Wonder. "

“May I examine it?” Abad asks.

“Please,” Surm says and hands it over. Abad looks the device over and hands it back, whistling.

“That’s quite an item,” Abad says.

“It’s quite an impressive item,” Surm agrees.

“Come to my office,” Abad says and leads Surm to the back of the shop.

The office has a desk and a couple chairs. Abad takes a seat and offers one to Surm.

“I usually don’t like to do this size of dealing at the public counter,” Abad says.

“I completely understand,” Surm says.

“This is quite an offer you’re making with this rod,” Abad says, “in light of that, I’m prepared to give you the scrolls and more than half the rod’s worth. To be sure, I stand to make quite a tidy profit on this rod. Never let it be said that Abad is an unfair dealer.”

“No, never. In fact I was given word from Mother Olanan that you were exactly the trustworthy sort,” Surm says.

“I have dealt with the University many times,” Abad says, nodding.

“You have that cash on hand?” Surm asks.

“I do,” Abad says, a little warily.

“Well, here’s my situation. I don’t want to carry that kind of cash out of the city by myself. So, I’m prepared, because I’m in a hurry, to accept this offer, but ask that you hold my pay-out. I’ll take the three scrolls and return for the cash,” Surm says.

“I am amenable to that,” Abad says.

“Do you need me to sign anything? I am Surm Ulrich, if you need a name. You probably don’t need anything signed since you’re holding the rod…” Surm says.

“No, I don’t need anything signed. I’ll just hold the rod,” Abad says.

“Very well. I will take the scrolls and return,” Surm says.

“Very good,” Abad says.

Surm collects the scrolls and says, “I will be back as soon as I can. Feel free to sell the rod if you wish.”

“I will start making inquiries,” Abad says.

“You go ahead and do whatever you’re doing,” Surm says. “And you can hold my platinum.”

Surm leaves the shop, crying out about how fair a dealer Abad is, telling all who will listen.

While he’s in the city, Surm heads over to where Toliver Yew’s tent was sent up in the marketplace. He sees Yew packing up his tent into his box wagon. Surm rushes over and says, “Master Yew!”

Yew looks up from his work and says, disappointed, “Oh. You’re a day late.”

“I am a day late and I bring bad news,” Surm says.

“This is frequent,” Yew says, obviously put out.

“It’s becoming that way,” Surm says. “Our dealings are not yet complete; we are still wrapping up our dealings with Lord Connach. However, I wanted to inform you as quickly as I could and to let you know that, while you are under no obligation to wait, should you decide to wait for your escort, we are prepared to knock another 20 silver per day off of the price. That brings it to 19 silver per day. As soon as I leave you, sir, we set out to track this enemy, and hopefully deal with him in finality. If you can’t wait, I understand, and our apologies.”

Yew mulls this over.

“Have you already sold all of your wares, sir?” Surm asks.

“Very nearly,” Yew says. “How long do you think this will take?”

“Unfortunately, this fellow is wily and is quite troublesome to track,” Surm says.

“He’s very troublesome to me, I can tell you,” Yew says.

“Well, if you decide to wait, I’m sure, well, I can’t make this promise, but, if you decide to wait, if we are more than three days, Captain Rilka will still escort you free of charge,” Surm says.

Yew seems pleased at this prospect. “I will wait,” he says.

“Very good, sir,” Surm says, and hops on his horse with a sense of urgency and speeds out of the city.

Meanwhile, at Lord Cannach’s estate, all is quiet. Surm makes it back and reports that he has retrieved the needed scrolls.

The party gathers at the site of their battle last night and put Savaric on the trail of the Lich. He finds a trail and he and Ghost begin to follow it, with the party following close behind on horseback.

He follows the trail through the fields outside the city. It follows a circuitous route back toward the city wall—not to a gate, but to an older part of the wall. It doesn’t appear to be very well patrolled. The smells of the city are particularly ripe here. It’s probably the “bad” part of town.

Savaric looks around the area outside the wall for signs of the Lich. He finds a bit of tattered cloth caught in the stones of the wall, like someone climbed the wall and it got snagged along the way. They speculate that the Lich climbed over the wall and walked to Lord Cannach’s from somewhere within the city. Mõrvar suggests that he may be hiding in a graveyard.

Surm suggests that Savaric use Ilona and climb the wall. Ilona says, “Yes! Yes! Why don’t you use me?” The wall is about 15 feet high and made of rough stone. It will take about a minute for him to climb it. They decide to have Savaric climb over the wall and attempt to pick up the trail on the other side. The sorcerers can Message to him to keep in contact in the process. Then the rest of the party can come around to the city gates and catch up with afterwards.

As Savaric is climbing up, Surm spots a helmet coming toward him on the catwalk. He Messages Savaric to stop climbing, that someone is coming. Savaric holds strong to the side of the wall as the guardsman passes, clearly bored and scraping the tip of his spear against the stone of the wall as he passes. Soon, the guard is out of sight and Surm Messages Savaric that all is clear. Savaric continues his climb up the wall.

When the ranger gets to the top of the wall, his ring makes him invisible. Then he examines the catwalk for signs of the Lich. He finds nothing. Looking down below, he sees a hovel, some piles of garbage, and beyond that a narrow, trash-ridden street. He climbs down the wall and starts looking around for a trail. He finds a very faint one. He finds a piece of garbage and marks his trail. Then he starts following the faint trail.

Surm Messages Savaric to get an update on what he’s found thus far. He tries to get a sense from Savaric where in the city he’s located, but nobody knows Aldasar that well. Surm suggests he figure out where he is and get back to them so that they can come into the city and find him. Savaric leaves the marked trail behind and looks for a landmark, or a sign, not trusting his diplomacy to ask for directions.

About two blocks away, Savaric sees the hanging sign of a tavern. Its scratched up and barely legible Tradespeak script says “The Dented Mug.” It also has, affixed to it, a dented pewter mug. He reports that he spots the tavern as a landmark. He’s told to sit tight outside the tavern and the others will meet him there.

Surm, Mõrvar, and Rilka head around to one of the city gates and pay their gate taxes to get in (along with the taxes on the horses) and make then make inquiries about The Dented Mug. One of the guards says, “You don’t want to go there, sir.”

“Well, unfortunately necessity dictates that I go,” Surm says.

The guard begrudgingly gives him directions. Surm thanks him for the directions and for the warning.

As the party follows the directions, they notice the quality of the city starting to decline. The streets are narrow and in disrepair. There are far fewer guard patrols noticeable. People keep to themselves and don’t make eye contact. They look at the party leading their horses through the narrow streets and then look away quickly so as not to draw attention to themselves. Surm averts his eyes while Mõrvar gives people dirty, nasty looks. But, eventually, the party does see the sign of The Dented Mug.

Meanwhile, Savaric hangs out outside the tavern. Inside the tavern is a lot of raucous laughter, what sounds like fighting, and loud music. Savaric fights off the temptation to go inside, but does look inside the windows. A couple of people are thrown out while he waits.

The party sees Savaric standing outside the tavern and they reunite. They head back to the pile of refuse and the marked trail. Surm casts Detect Magic to see if maybe the phylactery is hidden in the area. Savaric begins to follow the trail and gets as far as the street before losing it. There is just too many people that have gone through there and it is too difficult to get a distinct trail.

Rilka suggests that maybe someone saw the Lich—he is pretty distinctive with his blue, glowing eyes and such. They go back to where the trail starts and look about, noticing the hovel again. Surm wonders if someone lives there. He goes to the hovel and knocks on the frame of the curtain-down. An old, humpbacked woman pokes her head out and peers at them.

“Hello. I’m Surm Ulrich. I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions,” Surm says, smiling.

She says nothing, but puts out her hand, expecting payment.

“Ah, of course, I don’t want to waste your time. You’re obviously busy,” Surm says, and drops a silver piece in her hand. The coin disappears and she asks, in a gravelly voice, “What do you want to know?”

“I was wondering if you noticed any strangers passing through your alley, or climbing the wall? Dressed in tattered black robes? Perhaps during the night? Perhaps with strange-looking, as if they glowed blue. Probably an intimidating fellow. Chill you to the bone,” Surm says.

She puts out her hand, hands him back the silver, and says, “No, no, I didn’t see anything. Go away.” And she shuts the curtain.

Surm pockets his silver and takes a gold and pokes his head into the curtain and says, “Good madam. It is of dire importance that we find this fellow and stop him from terrorizing others.”

“Only a fool seeks out Death,” she barks.

“Captain Rilka and Company is that fool,” Surm says. “And we seek out Death to put a stop to him.”

Surm leverages his fame of being associated with Captain Rilka and Company, and his particular affinity for Aldasar, as well as pulling out a second gold piece and tells her, “Captain Rilka and Company intends to destroy this creature so that it will terrorize Aldasar no more. But we need your help. In no way will it track back to you. I don’t know your name, nor do I want to.”

“I don’t want it coming back here,” the woman says.

“Our intent, dear lady, is to destroy it. Its trail comes here. It will come back—unless you help us,” Surm says.

She takes the gold and says, “It comes and goes from east.”

“From the east. When’s the last time you saw it?” Surm asks.

“Last night,” she says.

“Leaving the city? Climbing over the wall?” Surm asks.

“Yes.”

“You didn’t see it return?” he asks.

“No,” she says.

Surm knows that east of their location is the religious district of the city. Mõrvar knows that east of there are some of the larger temples in the city as well as a large necropolis known as “Sadum’s Hill”.

Surm thanks the old woman and they step away from the hovel. Then they discuss their next move. They debate whether or not they want to head to the necropolis now or watch Lord Cannach’s. Do they think it will be better if the LIch knows that they are on his trail so he doesn’t head back to Lord Cannach’s. Surm suggests leaving a message on the wall letting the Lich know that they are on to his path that will make the Lich run to his phylactery to make sure that it is secure. This could also make sure that he doesn’t bother Lord Cannach as the Lich will know that the party is not there.

So Mõrvar writes him a note in Elven, “Followed your trail to here,” and draws a picture of a nut and signs it “Mõrvar Ulrich.” They then post this note to the wall and start heading toward the necropolis.

Along the way, they decide to stop off in the University district to recruit the help of Mother Olanan. She sees them in her cottage.

“Did you find the scrolls you were looking for,” she asks Surm.

“I did. I found the scrolls, but I’ve discovered that the Lich is actually in the city. We followed his trail back to the wall. And rumors say that he comes from the east. And we know that there is a necropolis to the east and we are going to go there,” Surm says.

“Ah yes, Sadum’s Hill,” Mother Olanan says.

“Yes. We have left a message for the Lich at the wall so that he will be alerted that we are on to him. Hopefully he will not go back to Lord Cannach’s and will, instead, check to see that his phylactery is safe,” Surm says .

“I see,” Mother Olanan.

“So we are going to hit the cemetery today. And we wanted to see if you would be able to lend a hand, as we are about to enter the realm of quite a few undead recruits,” Surm says.

“Oh, well,” the priestess says.

Rilka suggests that if she can’t get away herself, if there is another cleric she can recommend, that would be helpful as well. Mother Olanan says that it’s not that she can’t get away, it’s just that she is primarily a scholar, not a “field cleric” and, as such, the spells that she has on hand are not of a combat nature. However, she is ready and willing to help as she can. She does have the ability to the Turn Undead and to channel positive energy. Surm says that if she feels she is prepared to help, then they will be happy to have her. She asks to be allowed to get her things.

She goes to a cabinet and puts on a silver holy symbol, a ring, a cloak, grabs a staff, and a satchel and says, “Shall we?”

The party then proceeds toward Sadum’s Hill.

As they approach the gate to the necropolis, they can see large mausoleums, large tombstones, obelisks, edifices, some very old and some more recent, There is a ten-foot wall around the necropolis that looks to be locked at night. They start investigating the outer wall that corresponds to the direction facing the hovel to the west of the cemetery. Rilka finds a smear of ink on the outer wall. Surm does not Detect Magic emanating from the ink. The party speculates that the Lich may be trying to recreate his spellbook. Surm knows that if he were to purchase or steal the accoutrements he could write down the spells he has prepared to do just that.

Savaric finds a single, bony footprint near the wall. They go inside (leaving the horses outside) and start trying to find signs of the Lich on the other side of the wall. Savaric finds a trail of bony footprints. Mõrvar pulls out his dwarven warhammer. Surm points out what Mother Olanan said about bludgeoning weapons and the undead. Savaric follows the trail and the others follow him.

Rilka commands her horse to guard the other horses and Mõrvar does the same with his steed.

As Savaric follows the trail, they see people paying homage to others at gravesites and various trails and paths leading throughout the necropolis. Finally, the ranger leads them to a mausoleum. Once there, he also finds a slightly older second trail, leaving the mausoleum. Both trails are coming and going from the mausoleum, but the other one is definitely an older trail—probably two or three days old. Mõrvar believes that he planned to come here straight out of Leodin.

The party then debates whether or not they want to go in and get him or if they want to find his phylactery first. Mother Olanan confirms that they do not wish her to Turn him and make him flee—but perhaps they wish her to help handle any other undead that he has raised.

The mausoleum is a large box-shaped building with iron doors. Savaric starts checking the doors for traps. He finds no traps but does discover that the door is slightly ajar. He listens and hears nothing on the other side. Surm casts Silence from the one of the scrolls on the iron door. He slaps Savaric on the back and points to the door. Savaric opens the door.

A bar of sunlight falls into the room, but the half-orc has darkvision so he has a clear picture of the room anyway. There is a stone slab in the center of the room and standing at the slab is the Lich. Sitting on the slab is an open book. Also sitting on the slab are a series of quills and vials of ink. He says something—but no one can hear it as he is within the radius of the Silence spell.

Mõrvar moves forward with his hammer with a big smile on his face and attacks the Lich, smashing him twice. Surm moves out of the range of the Silence spell and then uses the Wand of Magic Missiles against the Lich. Mother Olanan moves forward and touches Mõrvar, giving him a Resistant Touch. The Lich then fills the area with negative energy, causing the Mother, Mõrvar, Rilka, and Savaric pain. Once again, Savaric is shaken by the presence of the Lich and is negatively affected by his fear of him. Rilka comes forward and attacks and hits him once, but then misses. Savaric waits outside with Edgefrost drawn.

Rilka swings again and hits once, then twice. Savaric continues to wait. Mõrvar attacks with his warhammer once again, and fells the Lich.

Savaric starts searching the room. Surm casts Detect Magic and starts looking about the room. Everyone can see that there were vases and other such vessels on pedestals around the room that have been violently knocked to the floor. Surm detects magic in the corner of the room. Investigating, he finds a loose stone in that area of the room. Looking for traps, he finds the corner of a piece of paper poking out from beneath the stone. Surm is a aware that there are spells that are magical symbols that, when gazed upon, trigger magical effects. Unfortunately, it not as easy as simply crumpling up the piece of paper and not looking at it to get rid of. It usually takes the expertise of a expert trapfinder to get rid of such things.

Surm warns everyone about the trap and steps out of the mausoleum. Mõrvar follows him, taking the nascent spellbook with him. Savaric follows, leaving Rilka alone with the trap.

Once outside, Mõrvar casts Read Magic on the spellbook to see how far the LIch got in completing his spell book. It appears he completed two spells, Create Undead and Eyebite. He had started a third, Magic Jar. Then he decides that he and Savaric should clean out the mausoleum before Rilka reveals the trap and possibly destroys it so they clear out the quills and inks and Savaric and Surm search the room. Amongst the inks and quills they find a vial with a clear liquid inside it and a piece of cured leather. They then leave Rilka alone with the trap.

Rilka casts Bless on herself and then flips the stone. She sees a magical sigil written on piece of paper and feels a pulse of magical energy burst through the room. And nothing else happens. Beneath the paper is a hole and within the hole is a tiny, metal box on a thin chain. It glows with a strange, purple-black luminesce about it. She picks it up and takes it to the others.

Surm looks to Mother Olanan for instruction on how to destroy the phylactery. She says that as far as she knows, there is no special way to destroy the thing, that they should be able to just smash the thing. So Surm suggests that they put it on the slab and have Mõrvar smash it with his hammer.

They set the phylactery on the slab and then Mõrvar pauses in thought. “Goodbye, Ulrich of Barth,” he says. Then, finally, he raises his hammer and brings it down on the tiny box. Then brings it down again. Then he brings it down a third time and the purple-black luminesce gathers and scatters and then dissipates. A foul wind blows through room. Mõrvar has a look of satisfaction on his face. Rilka says a prayer to Bruni and Mother Olanan says a prayer to Cereth. In the remains of the phylactery are two shredded scraps of paper. Mõrvar gathers them up and uses his Acid Splash to destroy them.

They opt to leave the Lich’s corpse in the mausoleum and leave. Mõrvar chops the head off the body. Mother Olanan asks if anyone requires if anyone requires healing, but no one takes her up on it. Surm asks the priestess if they are done. “If we destroyed phylactery, which we appeared to have done, then I believe we are done.”

“Finally? It’s done?” Surm says, incredulous, hardly believing it.

“Based on my knowledge of these creatures, yes,” Mother Olanan says.

“Then we’ll gather the broken pieces of the phylactery, Mõrvar has the head, we’ll take these to Lord Cannach and we’ll declare it done,” Surm says, triumphant.

They leave and shut the doors of the mausoleum.

“If it comes back after this, it’s a different lich,” Surm declares.

The party leaves the necropolis and head back toward the city center. They take Mother Olanan back to the University. As Surm turns to leave her, Mother Olanan tells him, “There’s a deeper story with this Lich, isn’t there? But it’s your story to tell, not my story to take. Should you ever want to tell it, you have an open ear with me.”

“I just don’t know the story yet. That’s what I’m hoping to find out. We have a collection of his writings we’re deciphering. We’ll investigate from there,” Surm says.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious, I wouldn’t be a scholar if I wasn’t a curious soul. But if in your travels you come back to Aldasar, feel free to call on me,” she says.

“I’m fairly certain I will be back,” Surm says.

Rilka thanks her for her help and gives a donation to the temple of Cereth.

They then head to Abad and Lida’s Scriptorium. Surm heads in with Rilka in tow.

“Ah, Master Ulrich,” Abad says as he heads in.

“Abad, I’m here to collect,” Surm says.

“Excellent,” Abad says, “Come with me.”

And they all head back into his office. Surm introduces Abad to “Captain” Rilka. Abad hands him a pouch with the agreed-upon funds of 570 platinum. Surm thanks the man and they head out.

The group then heads to the bad part of town and remove the note they posted on the wall. It’s already covered in garbage. Surm goes over to the old woman’s hovel and knocks on the frame again. She pokes her head out and he tells her thank you for her help, that “it is done.”

She looks wide-eyed and says, “You killed Death?”

“Well, he just looked like Death,” Surm says. He gives her five gold for her trouble.

She takes it and says, “I thank you.”

“I thank you for your assistance and your bravery,” he says.

And, finally, they head out of the city and to Lord Cannach’s estate.

At the estate, they are announced and the nobleman comes out to meet them. The party is all smiles and Surm announces that they come victorious.

“Victorious? This is fine news!” Lord Cannach says.

And Mõrvar produces the severed head of the Lich and Surm produces the smashed phylactery.

“So that should be it. If there is a Lich on your property, it is another Lich,” Surm says.

Lord Cannach chuckles at that and says, “This is definitely cause to celebrate. You seem hale and hearty. There seem to be casualties.”

“We caught him unawares. He did not expect to be caught in his lair again,” Surm says.

“Please come inside, rest. We simply await the return of the goods and the soldiery. Welcome back!” Lord Cannach says.

So the party heads inside the manor house and rests.

30 Transformation 508

Surm heads back into the city and goes to the University. He wants to employ a sage to look into Ulrich of Barth and any information he can get before he leaves in the next day.

The soldiery and the workers Lord Cannach employed to gather the goods from the Lich’s lair return on this day. When asked for a report, Alasir reports that all was quiet. Rilka and Surm report to him that the Lich has been found and destroyed and that they will be heading to Kalimsport. He takes this all in stride.

The party figures that the trip to Kalimsport will take about 13 days, so long as they stick to the road. That’s going at the speed of Toliver Yew’s wagon.

1 Chillwind 508

Lord Cannach has received all of his funds from his buyers, so all pay outs have been made. Surm shakes Lord Cannach’s hand and says that it’s been a pleasure. “Perhaps we’ll swing back by here when we return to Aldasar,” Surm says.

“Feel free to,” Lord Cannach says.

A runner is sent from the University that information is available from the sage. So, as they are going to have to go into the city to pick up Toliver Yew regardless, they all load up and head into Aldasar. The entire entourage heads to Master Yew’s tent. Surm heads to Master Yew and says, “We’re here. We’re done. I have to make one stop at the University and then we’re ready to go.”

Master Yew looks surprised. “Well!”

Surm introduces Captain Rilka. Yew goes a little wide-eyed and then says, “Yes. Well. I didn’t realize the troop was so big. Yes. Well. Good. So, you said you have to make a stop?”

Surm flags Mahgnus over. “This is my man, Mahgnus. He’ll be happy to assist you in any way until I return.”

Mahgnus nods curtly.

“Good. Good. I just have some last minute preparations and then I’ll be ready to go,” Master Yew says.

Then Surm and Mõrvar head to the University and meet with the sage that Surm hired.

“I have found some information that will be of interest to you,” the sage says.

“Excellent,” Surm says.

“You asked about Barth,” the sage says. “Very difficult finding references to Barth. The only references I found was to a village that no longer exists. It was located near the Slayt Mountains. It was a Duindir village. It lay to the north of modern Leilior at the northern end of the Slayt Mountains.”

“What became of this village?” Surm asks.

The sage shrugs, “It’s lost to time.”

“But it was just a village,” Surm says.

“Yes,” the sage says.

“Of no importance?” Surm asks.

“None that I could find,” the sage says. “However, the references I found were to an Ulrich of Barth. He was a notorious adventurer.”

“Notorious?” Surm asks.

“A hard man. A wizard. He traveled extensively. He apparently had several sons. It’s hard to say how many, but more than one, according to the tales. He sought infamy,” the sage says.

“Not fame? But specifically infamy?” Surm asks.

“Yes,” the sage says.

“Wizards,” Surm says, with disgust.

“He was active some 400 years ago,” the sage says. “Some tales say that he achieved immortality. That’s all I was able to find in such a short time.”

“Genealogy? Names of the sons?” Surm asks.

“Once again, in such a short time? No,” the sage says.

“I would like you to research this Ulrich of Barth. Specifically relations, family. We’d like to see the family tree and where they are,” Surm says.

“That would be interesting,” the sage says. “That could take some time.”

“Alright,” Surm says.

“I can work on that,” the sage says, confidently.

“Very well. I am leaving the city and heading south. But I will be this way again and then I will pay and see what you have learned,” Surm says.

“Very well,” the sage says. “That is acceptable.”

The two shake hands and Surm gets the man’s name, which is Levan Elhan.

Mõrvar puts out his hand as well.

Surm introduces himself and Mõrvar does as well. The sage raises an eyebrow at that.

“I suspect we’re related,” Surm says. “So I could tell you that some family currently resides in he north. Jossia.”

“Ah. That could make things more difficult,” Levan says.

“More difficult?” Surm asks.

“There are fewer family records in the Northron lands for me to access,” the sage says.

“Then is this even doable for you? Should I go north and seek a sage there?” Surm asks.

“I said, difficult, not impossible,” Levan says.

“Very well. We will swing through and see what you have found when next we come to Aldasar,” Surm says.

They take their leave of the sage and head back to the market district.

Master Yew’s preparations are complete. Alasir has the troops positioned around the wagon. Surm rides alongside the wagon while Rilka and Mõrvar ride point. And the procession heads out of Aldasar on the way south towards Kalimsport.

View
A Tale of Three: Infestation
A Beginning

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8 Starfall 500

Althessamari, Lee Xin, and Elhana Yarrowyn are all sitting in their favorite tavern in Kalimsport, the Alehouse of the Cats. Their usual barmaid, Gwynfer, comes by and brings them drinks. She is her usually perky self, bringing them their usual fare without having to be asked.

The party notices a dwarf sitting nearby crying into his mug of ale. He’s obviously drunk and speaking loudly. “Ruined! It’s all ruined!” he cries into his brew. He looks up and sees the party staring at him. “Ruined!” he says again. He gets up and drunkenly wobbles over to their table, kicks over the fourth chair at the table and sits himself down. “It’s all ruined!”

Lee Xin finally can’t resist any more. “What’s ruined, sir?” he asks.

“My mine! It’s ruined!”

“Why is it ruined?” Althessamari asks.

“It’s infested,” the dwarf says, casting his head down.

“With what?” Lee Xin asks.

The dwarf gets a disgusted look on his face and growls, " Kobolds. "

“What happened?” Althessamari asks.

“We were mining for ore in mine when we break open a fissure into a new cavern. And out they come. Kobolds. And my men, they took off. Now they’re everywhere in the mine,” the dwarf says. He eyes Elhana’s curved Elven blade. “Say, you’ve got a pretty fancy sword there. How would you like to help me with my kobold problem?”

Elhana looks a bit surprised that the dwarf is addressing her, but says, “Alright.”

" I’d pay you, of course. Never let it be said that Bogrund Blackhammer doesn’t pay for services rendered. I’ll hire all of you. How does 25 gold apiece grab you? " the dwarf says.

The party discusses it briefly and agrees to help Bogrund with his problem.

“Excellent, you can find me here when you’re finished,” Bogrund says. “My mine is due east of Kalimsport at the base of the Jorani mountains. About ten miles out of town.” He gives them some landmarks and directions so that they can find the mine. “Be careful,” he says, “Those kobolds are crafty bastards.”

So after a brief discussion about their supplies, the party leaves the city by the Eastgate road and heads off to Blackhammer’s mine.

As the sun is sinking beyond the horizon, they come upon a small mining camp. There is a sign written in dwarven that says “Blackhammer’s Mine.” There is a tunnel dug into the side of the mountain.

As night is starting to fall, the three decide to make camp and tackle the mine in the morning. They set three watches for four hours apiece, with Althessamari watching first, Elhana watching second, and Lee Xin watching third.

During Elhana’s watch, she hears movement come from behind her—the sound of claws moving on stone. She turns and sees a short, reptilian creature with red scales and a snout full of sharp teeth—a kobold. It’s holding a spear menacingly and charges at her. The two begin to fight.

Lee Xin is awoken by the conflict. Althessamari is blissfully unaware. He goes to investigate just in time to see Elhana obliterate the kobold with her sharp Elven blade.

“Do you need me to guard with you for rest of your shift?” he asks.

“No, I think I’ve got it,” Elhana says.

The rest of the night passes without incident.

9 Starfall 500

Althessamari wakes up to find the kobold corpse in camp. She hears from the others on how it came to be there. They check the creature’s body and discover a pouch with a silver piece and a tigerseye gemstone. They decide to let Elhana carry the treasure they find as she has a masterwork backpack. They then head into the mine.

Elhana and Lee Xin lead the way, the tunnel being wide enough to accommodate them. Althessamari follows behind. She casts Light on one of the monk’s shuriken. When the tunnel widens into a chamber with pick axes on the floor and a mining truck. They can veer left or right; they veer left, forming a “bubble” around Althessamari along the wall.

As they go along, they hear movement up ahead. Lee Xin throws his lit shuriken into the darkness. They see two kobolds, surprised by the sudden light. Althessamari casts Light on Elhana’s breastplate, extinguishing it from the shuriken, placing the kobolds in darkness once more. The creatures charge toward them, but in a fury of blows, Lee Xin manages to fell both of the creatures. They collect more silver and minor gemstones off of these creatures.

They continue to head left down the corridor. Elhana hears a noise up ahead. They opt to keep going. Althessamari casts Guidance on Lee Xin and Elhana. A pair of Kobolds charge toward them from the darkness—one hits Lee Xin with a spear. They pair off with the monk and with Elhana. Lee Xin takes out one and Elhana takes out the other. They collect more silver and minor gemstones off of these creatures.

They continue down the left side of the cavern. As it curves around, Elhana and Lee Xin are pelted with stones, doing some damage. They hear kobold voices from the deeper darkness. They continue further and are charged by three kobolds. Althessamari attacks one with her longsword, but misses. A kobold pierces Lee Xin in the kidney with its spear. Lee Xin then takes out the kobold. He then quickly takes out Althessamari’s kobold as well. Althessamari takes out the last kobold. They collect more silver and minor gemstones off of these creatures.

The group ventures forward and comes to the end of the tunnel. They backtrack a bit and venture into another part of the cavern and take what they called the “middle” tunnel.

This tunnel is not as worked as the mining tunnel—the floor is rough and it is more cavern than tunnel. As they venture down the tunnel, Elhana hears six of the kobolds talking up ahead. Althessamari casts Guidance on the party and they move forward and engage with the six kobolds. After a few exchanges, they are down to the final two creatures on Althessamari. Lee Xin flanks Althessamari’s kobolds for a tactical advantage. Althessamari critically hits one of her kobolds, doing massive damage and dropping her sword—then one of the spirits that haunt her throws the sword 10’ away from her. Lee Xin grapples the final kobold, holding it in place. Then Elhana critically hits it, turning it into a bloody mess. They collect more silver and minor gemstones off of these creatures.

They recover Althessamari’s sword and continue through the cavern. They hear three more kobolds up ahead. The oracle casts Guidance on each of the party members and they all move forward to engage with the creatures. Althessamari decapitates her kobold, Elhana takes out her kobold, and Lee Xin takes out his kobold. They collect more silver and minor gemstones off of these creatures.

They continue to a fork in the cavern. They can go straight or they can go to the right. They opt to go straight. The cavern narrows to where they can only go one at a time, so they opt to go Elhana, then Althessamari, and then Lee Xin As they move forward, they hear a ‘click’, some distant clanging, almost as if pots and pans were hitting each other, and then the ground moves out from under Elhana as she falls into a pit trap. Althessamari narrowly dodges falling into it herself.

They lower a rope to allow Elhana to climb out of the trap. Althessamari figures out how to reset the trap and does so. They then opt to take the other tunnel.

Once again, the tunnel narrows to where they have to take it one at a time. This time, they hear another ‘click’ and a cone of fire fills the corridor. Everyone dodges out of the way and narrowly misses taking the brunt of the damage.

Althessamari casts Cure Light Wounds on the party. As they continue, Lee Xin starts looking for traps.

The come upon a sizable chamber. Toward the rear of the chamber is an antechamber filled with sunlight from a hole in the ceiling. The main chamber has a pile of coins and gemstones scattered on the floor. Lee Xin searches the room, but finds nothing than what is obvious.

They go through the treasure found on the cavern floor. There is fifty gold, fifty silver, 1 amethyst, 1 amber, 1 onyx, 1 star-rose quartz, 1 moonstone, 1 smoky quartz, 3 agates, 2 blue quartz, 2 lapis lazuli, and 3 tigereyes.

Elhana ventures to the hole in the ceiling. There is a pile of stone that is climbable to get up to it and she does so after a couple of tries. She pokes her head out and sees mountains, sunlight, and a few eagles flying.

They decide to go back to the tunnel with the pit trap.

Althessamari springs the pit trap and then Lee Xin and the Oracle jump over the pit. Elhana climbs down into it with a rope and climbs back out.

As they continue down the tunnel, they start to hear rhythmic chanting of kobolds down the corridor. They decide to charge in after getting a Guidance spell from Althessamari. So they charge into the room and see a large green kobold wearing a headdress sitting on a makeshift throne of cobbled-together stones. Before him are four kobolds bowing to him obsequiously, rhythmically chanting to him. When the party comes bounding in the room, they all look up at them and the kobold on the throne points at the interlopers and says something in their language. The four bowing kobolds attack.

Lee Xin makes quick work of his foe, taking him out quickly. The kobold on the throne stands and looks like he attempts to cast a spell on the fast-acting monk—but to no avail. The others focus on their opponents. The kobolds have no weapons, but they do have sharp claws. The kobolds are quickly dispatched as the spellcaster repeatedly attempts to cast spells, but no avail.

Lee Xin moves in to grapple with the spellcasting kobold and puts him a hold. Elhana moves forward and attacks the held spellcaster then Lee Xin attacks the spellcaster within his grasp and feels him go limp in his arms.

The party collects more silver from each of the creatures, as well as more minor gemstones. From the spellcaster they collect two scrolls, a bag of caltrops, and a vial of silversheen, as well as a small-sized light crossbow. They also get 54 gold pieces. Althessamari casts Read Magic on the scrolls and discovers that they are scrolls of Mage Armor and Vanish.

When the party emerges from the mine, it is afternoon. They make the long walk back to Kalimsport and arrive there after nightfall when the city has closed its gates. Althessamari tries to sweet talk their way in, but the guards won’t have it. So, the party camps outside.

10 Starfall 500

That morning, the party reenters Kalimsport and pays their gate taxes. They head to the Alehouse of the Cats and hope to see Bogrund Blackhammer there. Sure enough, the dwarf is there, apparently nursing a hangover with a bowl of porridge and a piece of bread. He’s glad to see them and even more glad to hear that they were successful. He seems a little fuzzy on the details of the deal he made with them but says, “Let it never be said that Bogrund Blackhammer backed out of a deal.” They opt to back to his office to handle their business.

Bogrund leads them to an actual office with a sign out front. Inside, they find another dwarf recording figures in a ledger. This dwarf expresses surprise at seeing Bogrund and Bogrund gruffly says that he has business with these folks and he’s not to be disturbed. He takes the party back into an office that is furnished with fine, dwarven-made furniture. He opens up a strongbox and takes out 25 gold for each of them. Then Althessamari brings up the treasure they found with the kobolds and what is to be done with that.

“Well, if its fine with you folks, let’s consider that to be hazard pay. I’m fine with letting you folks keep it. Those kobolds are crafty little bastards and you folks risked much by facing them,” Bogrund says.

The party is well pleased with the arrangement and thank the dwarf for the consideration. They all shake hands and leave the dwarf’s office, happy with the results of their first adventure together.

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Session Forty-Four
Ulrich's Return

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11 Transformation 508

The newly reunited entourage arrives back at Lord Cannach’s estate. There he arranges for the party’s horses to be well-cared for and for them all to be housed and cleaned up and rested after their battles. There is to be a celebration in honor of their defeat of the Lich. Dinner will be prepared and the villagers that are also staying with him will be in attendance to dine with their liberators.

At one point in the preparations, Lord Cannach takes Surm aside and asks him if they collected all of the treasure from the ruin or if a return trip is order…

Surm says, “We have returned with the most portable treasures found. There are still furnishings of an antique nature, tools and equipment for alchemical and magical creations, and a vast library of books we were not able to decipher. We have brought a sampling of books for appraisal to give you an idea of what remains. At your leisure, I would like to have your people appraise some gems, jewelry, and the books so we can agree on a valuation of what we have returned with. If our cursory appraisals match with your experts, then I have been given leave to make an offer for your consideration that I believe you will find profitable and will save time for Captain Rilka.”

“I have some people in mind to do that very thing. I’m sure we can come to an agreement," Lord Cannach says.

The two adjourn to one of the side rooms of the estate were the goods have been laid out to begin their negotiations and appraisals while dinner is being prepared.

Surm also suggests that Lord Cannach send a regiment to Leodin to secure the hamlet and mines. It is currently unoccupied making the storehouse easy pickings for scavengers. Lord Cannach reveals that he has already sent a contingent of soldiers to do just that.

In the course of the appraisals, the question of the worth of the folio comes up. The man that Lord Cannach has doing the appraising manages to break the cipher that they are written under and announces that it is written in High Acheran. He also advises Lord Cannach that the writings are "worthless, the ravings of a deranged mind. Whoever this Ulrich was, he was a sick individual and you would never be able to sell these parchments for any sort of profit.”

Surm keeps his composure at the mention of the Ulrich name and he notices no reaction from Lord Cannach.

After the negotiations for the treasure and appraisals are complete, Surm offers to take the “worthless” writings off of the nobleman’s hands as they may serve as inspiration for Surm’s re-telling of this tale. Also, if he has no objection, he would like to send some of their soldiers to retrieve a journal of similar writings that was left at the ruins that would complement the folio well. Lord Cannach has no objection to him taking the folio of the “odious” writings nor in Surm sending soldiers back to the ruins to retrieve the journal. He does take the bard aside and tells him, “A more suspicious man, a more paranoid man, than I would make more of the interesting coincidence of this villain’s name and that of my benefactor. I am not a paranoid man. I count it an interesting coincidence and nothing more. I doubt a conspiracy would be so…obvious…as that. Have no fears on that account, my good man.” And he shakes Surm’s hand vigorously and smiles.

“I appreciate your faith Lord Cannach. I assure you the name is coincidental, but, I will confess, that coincidence does drive me to attempt to make sense of his mad ramblings and shed some light on this mystery.”

Surm excuses himself and finds Mõrvar. He tells him about the folio and tells him to take four soldiers and go back and get the journal from the ruins.

Mõrvar tells Alasir to ready four of the troops to ride with him and informs the remaining six that their number one priority is to guard Surm. Mõrvar bids the others goodbye and makes ready to ride in haste back to Leodin. Savaric says he will ride with Mõrvar and makes ready to move. Alasir sends Einar, Sorcha, Garth, and Halvor to ride with Mõrvar and Savaric. The six of them leave Lord Cannach’s estate at a gallop. Lord Cannach’s soldiers probably have a four-hour head start on them.

Surm then updates Rilka on the what was found out about the folios and where Mõrvar and Savaric have gone. Rilka raises an eyebrow but says nothing.

After the dinner, but prior to the end of festivities, Surm asks Lord Cannach to join him in the parlor where the goods have been laid out, saying, “Let’s inspect our boon again, shall we?” The nobleman agrees…

Later, Surm comes to Rilka with the good news. We have been given a bonus for a job well done; in lieu of the 500 gold pieces, Lord Cannach has gifted us four magical items off the top, before the split: Savaric will receive the flaming bow, Mõrvar will receive the Rod of Wonder, I will receive the Cloak of Resistance, and you will receive the Amulet of Natural Armor."

He continues. “Lord Cannach says that he will need to wait for the sale of the items in order to cash them out. He simply does not have that much coin laying about. However he is agreeable to allowing our group to purchase from the remaining magical items before offering them to merchants in the city as I propose. He also appreciates our generosity in allowing him to lay claim to the furnishings in the lair. I waived our claim to the remaining furnishings in recognition of the cost of experts for appraisals, hauling things in and out of the city, the general hassle of collecting what’s left in the lair, and his generous gift.”

Rilka clasps Surm on the shoulder for an excellent job of negotiations. “It sounds like Lord Cannach was well pleased with our success.” She says she is interested in purchasing from the remaining magical items, as may be others in the group.

“Since half our party and guards have now departed the City, we’ll need to figure out where we’re going to stay or wait until they return. Will Lord Cannach let us stay in his keep? Set up an encampment on his grounds? I don’t want to tax his hospitality…”

Lord Cannach overhears Rilka’s concern and says that he is happy to let her and her group encamp on his estate until her other soldiers return. “It’s no trouble at all. It’s the least I can do after such a successful partnership. Besides, I have to wait and pay you until after the goods are sold anyway. You may has well stay.”

Surm asks Lord Cannach if he could recommend a trustworthy and reasonably priced sage to research an artifact for us. Surm produce the green obelisk and show it to Lord Cannach. “This we found on a our previous venture. I would like to get the writings deciphered. I believe it is an object from an ancient civilization known as the Aedonii.”

Lord Cannach seems very impressed with the obelisk and its origin. He says that he would love to hear the story of how Surm acquired such a find. As far as a sage, he doesn’t know many—doesn’t have much call for them in his business dealings. But he did run into one at a dinner party not too long ago. Eoin Clyne was his name. He has a post at the University at the center of the city. He seemed very learned on a great many things and a interesting dinner guest. Reasonably priced? He couldn’t say. But if he can’t translate your obelisk he may be able to direct you to someone who can.

“Am I able to enter the university to call upon this sage? If so, may I use your name as a referral?” Surm asks.

“You can enter the public forum of the university and ask the monitors for Master Clyne. They will fetch him for you. You may certainly use my name as a referral,” Lord Cannach says.

Surm then gives an accounting of Karak Tuvar and the mysterious chasms throughout the fortress. He plays up the web shooting terror shrouded in mystery from deep in the chasm, and their luck of stumbling on to the obelisk, “a less perceptive group would have missed it completely, and yet, one might say it wanted to be found. Was it a lucky glance or an alien power from the obelisk that drew Savaric’s eye? I hope a sage will help answer these questions.”

Lord Cannach seems to enjoy the tale.

12 Transformation 508

That morning, Surm discusses with Rilka as to whether they should invest into research on the obelisk or not. " The Aedonii are an ancient race, so who knows what secrets it may reveal. I also believe a sage will almost pay us to get to study this thing, " he says.

Rilka thinks that there could be many secrets to be found in the obelisk. “While we are in a city with sages, we should explore further,” she says.

Surm, Rilka, Alasir, and Tarben all leave Lord Cannach’s estate and head into the city to go to the University to visit with Master Clyne.

At the forum of the University, there are monitors wearing black robes fluttering about, fetching things for the sages and asking people if they can be of service. Surm flags one down. Rilka keeps watch if anyone is taking an undue interest in them or their artifact.

One of the monitors approaches and says, “How can help you, sir?”

Surm says, “I am looking for Master Clyne.”

“Very good, sir. What can I say this is regarding?”

“An ancient artifact.”

“Very good, sir. Who may I say is calling upon him?”

“Surm Ulrich.”

“Very good.”

“Sent by Lord Cannach.”

“Ah, very good, then.”

After about ten minutes, a gentleman in fine robes, handsome in a close-cropped beard, in his early 30s comes walking up and introduces himself as Master Clyne.

Surm shakes his hand and says, “I’m Surm Ulrich. Lord Cannach says you’re the man to talk to.”

“Ah, Lord Cannach. Throws a very nice dinner party. So, walk with me,” the sage says. He leads the way, walking through the grounds.

As they walk, Surm says, “I have an artifact that I need translated that is of Aedonii origin.”

“That’s very interesting, indeed,” Master Clyne says. “There’s not very many such artifacts floating around.”

“And yet, this is my second time coming across one,” Surm says.

“Indeed,” Clyne says, clearly surprised. “If I may ask, where did you find such an artifact?”

“In the abandoned fortress of Karak Tuvar in the Daggerspine Mountains,” Surm says.

“Karak Tuvar? That’s a dwarven name,” the sage says.

“Yes, I don’t believe it was part of their treasures. The fort had been befallen some sort of attack. A natural disaster. Many chasms had opened, shifting some of fortress’ foundations. In one of the chasms, we saw this obelisk sticking out. So it had been buried even before the dwarves had been there,” Surm says.

“Well. What makes you think the artifact is Aedonii?” Clyne asks.

“The writing on it,” Surm says.

“It has script?” Clyne aks.

“Yes,” Surm says.

“Well, unfortunately, I am not versed in Aedonii script. However, I can tell you who is,” the sage says.

“That sounds like the information I need,” Surm says.

The name that Clyne provides is Mandreth Kerendal. He is with the University of Kalimsport. According to Clyne, he is the foremost expert on Aedonii script.

“Thank you, sir. What do I owe you for your time?” Surm asks.

“Ah, it is nothing,” Clyne says.

Then Surm, Rilka and the soldiers make their way out of the University.

13 Transformation 508

Surm, Alasir, and a couple of soldiers head to the marketplace looking for someone that is going to be heading to Kalimsport that may need protection along the way. Surm finds a merchant that is heading back home to Kalimsport. His name is Toliver Yew. He has a tent erected in the marketplace. Nearby is a box wagon. Surm and his entourage approach.

Yew is a short, pudgy man who sells a variety of brass items: lamps, trinkets, statuettes, etc. Surm makes his approach and introduces himself an asks him if he is heading back to Kalimsport soon and if he’s in need of an escort.

Yew gives Surm an appraising look and asks, “Who told you that?”

“Gentleman on the street, when I was asking around. Said you was heading back.”

“Well, I am,” Yew says, grudgingly.

“Well, will you be in need of escort on the dangerous journey all the way back to Kalimsport. I assume with a fortune from your all your recently-sold wares,” Surm says.

“Who told you about my fortune?” Yew asks, instantly suspicious.

“I’m assuming you did business well is all. No one told me,” Surm says.

“Well, yes, I did well. I’m a good salesman,” Yew says, chest swelling.

“Yes, I could tell when I walked up,” Surm says reassuringly.

“Well, I could use some guards. And I have heard your name bandied about,” Yew says. “What do you charge?” he asks, a hard look in his eye.

Surm does some quick calculations and comes up with a figure. “59 silver pieces per day. And for that, you get trained guards and expertise. Captain Rilka. Master Hunter Savaric. And Mõrvar, the White Death.”

“59 silver per day?” Yew says. “Alright. Done. I leave on the 20th of Transformation.”

“Do you want us to meet you outside the city gates or do you want us to meet you here and escort you through the city?” Surm asks.

“Escort through the city,” Yew says. “I want to be seen with the great Captain Rilka.”

“Excellent. You have hired well, sir. You will be the envy of all the other caravans headed south,” Surm says. Then he and soldiers take their leave.

When they get back to Lord Cannach’s estate, Surm takes Mahgnus aside and arranges to pay the soldiery.

14 Transformation 508

After an uneventful three-day ride from the outskirts of Aldasar, Mõrvar, Savaric, and the four soldiers arrive in Leodin in the morning. When they arrive in Leodin, they see the soldiers bearing the livery of Lord Cannach gathered around something near the center of the hamlet.

Mõrvar dismounts and instructs the soldiers to wait. He asks Savaric to do the same. He then makes his way to the gathering.

Lord Cannach’s soldiers are all dismounted and gathered around what appears to be one of their own. He appears to be dead and frozen in place, standing, with a look of horror on his face. Another of the soldiers is shaking his head in dismay.

“What happened here?” Mõrvar asks. He notices that the soldier shaking his head has pissed himself.

One of his comrades steps forward, a sergeant by the look of the stripe on his tabard. “We fanned out when we arrived early this morning, searching for any signs of interlopers. Rhudiard here,” he indicates the frozen man, “went to check out those houses.” He points to a line of houses. “He apparently encountered who he thought was an old man in rags coming out of one. He went to intercept him and ask him what he thought he was doing here when the man accosted him, yelling at him in the Court Tongue. Fortunately, working for a lord we’ve all picked some up and were able to understand him. He was yelling ‘Who robbed me? Who dared to accost my sanctuary?’ Well, Rhudiard was just standing there, shaking in his boots, but he managed to tell him it was Captain Rilka and the bard, Surm Ulrich. This seemed to anger the man further as he screamed ‘You dare mock my name!’ and then he slapped Rhudiard. Then he was stuck like this. Cilin here,” he indicates the man that’s pissed himself, “tried to come and separate the two but he got within yards of the old man and turn around and ran.”

Cilin, just shakes his head and says, “I…I didn’t know what else to do. I…just couldn’t face him. His eyes…those glowing eyes…”

“The man in rags just turned around and ran into the woods. The rest of us were trying to see if there was anything we could do for Rhudiard,” the sergeant says.

“What language did he speak?” Mõrvar asks.

The sergeant says that he spoke in High Acheran. It’s been the language of the royal courts since the days of the Acheran Empire.

Savaric dismounts and heads toward the group, ordering the soldiers to stay on alert. Once he gets to the group, he asks how long ago this happened and what direction the “old man” headed.

Mõrvar tells Savaric to track him—but do not engage. According to Lord Cannach’s soldiers, the man in rags headed almost due north. They came in from the northeast corner of the village. Mõrvar knows that High Acheran is the courtly language of the Southron nation of Achera, which used to have an empire that stretched almost all the way to Jossia. Savaric starts to track, taking his wolf Ghost with him. However, he advises Mõrvar that they will need the rest of their party. “I don’t have any magic arrows and I don’t think I can track this guy forever without being unnoticed. If he headed due north he won’t immediately danger anyone in the area. Giving us time to gather the group,” he says.

He finds a trail to follow and starts following it into the surrounding woods.

Mõrvar sends two of the soldiers, Garth and Halvor, back to Lord Cannach’s, to report to Surm that the Lich is back. They start riding back to Aldasar as fast as they can. He then has the other two soldiers, Einar and Sorcha, coordinate with Lord Cannach’s sergeant to set up a camp and form a defensive perimeter around the village. He then catches up with Savaric.

Mõrvar informs Savaric that he has the soldiers setting up a defensive perimeter because engaging with the Lich will just get them killed. “Also, this is a sensitive situation. Surm and I have recently learned this Lich is an Ulrich…..relations, I don’t know, but I must find out.” He, like Savaric, goes about trying to be stealthy in the woods.

Savaric says, “I understand you would want to look for answers on this matter, but we already killed him once. I don’t think he will be interested in a family reunion. Our best hope is that we can keep him away from any other villages until Surm figures out how to keep this guy down. As is, our only hope is to figure out where he is, where he is going, and take him down. Until then we are all in danger.”

“Don’t need to engage him unless I do. Twice I have faced him, twice I have bested him. Perhaps he will be more inclined to talk first this time. He isn’t a mindless undead, he’s intelligent,” Mõrvar says.

“This is a bad idea, we don’t even speak his language. He isn’t going to work with us, he is only going to be interested in killing us. Again, I don’t have magic arrows so this isn’t going to work in our favor. We need to retreat and regroup,” Savaric says.

“You have Edgefrost and we aren’t losing his trail,” Mõrvar says. “We can’t afford to lose him. Go back if you wish, but I’m not going to let him get away. I’m sure we will have to kill him again, but we are a week away from Surm and Rilka at the earliest. If we regroup, hell be better prepared. If I can learn anything from him before we kill him, it could help.”

Savaric then hears movement ahead of him, about a hundred feet from his current position.

Speaking in a hushed tone, Savaric says, “Quiet , Mõrvar, there is something up ahead.” He quietly draws Edgefrost as he asks Ilona to grant him invisibility. He also commands Ghost to hide.

Ilona giggles with delight and is happy to make Savaric invisible. Ghost hides in a nearby thicket. Mõrvar tries to hide.

Savaric then sees someone in black moving a hundred feet ahead, moving away from him. Mõrvar casts Message at Savaric and whispers “You sure there is something out here? I don’t hear or see anyone. I think I we need to hustle to catch up. We have a general direction. We are wasting our time and we are going to lose him.”

Savaric whispers back, “No, I see someone up head. We should silently track him. There is no way we can get the drop on him from this far back and he may hear us if you travel too close.”

The person in black has moved fifteen feet further away at this point.

Mõrvar Messages to Savaric, "Where is he? Should I keep moving or stay here? Is it him or someone just catching our attention?”

Savaric whispers, “No I don’t know, you should stay here while I try to catch up with them to make sure, just come closer to keep me in range of our link. Hopefully from back here they wont detect you.”

Savaric moves forward a bit faster, closing the gap between he and the man in black a bit. Mõrvar sneaks a bit closer in the direction he last saw Savaric and whispers his intention to do so to Savaric.

Savaric sees the form stop and turn around, facing in Mõrvar’s direction. Mõrvar now sees the form as well, about a hundred and five feet ahead of him. It turns and stares in his general direction—but not directly at his hiding place. It has baleful, glowing blue orbs for eyes and a deathly gaunt face. He is dressed in tattered black robes. He calls out something in a language neither of them understand—the only word they understand is “Ulrich”.

Mõrvar whispers to Savaric, “Stop and hold still…I see him.” He then uses the Message spell to speak to the figure first in Elven, then in Abyssal, then Leilioran, then Josslac, then Urkhani, and then Tradespeak in hopes of communicating with him. He asks him, “What is your full name?”

Then he whispers to Savaric, "Close in very carefully to just outside of his negative energy range which I think is 30 feet. Move to behind him so that if comes to attack me, you can come from the other side and be out of his spell direction. If he attacks me, attack him.”

When Mõrvar speaks in Elven, the figure responds—in High Elven. “I am called Ulrich of Barth, by those that dare utter my name.”

Mõrvar has never heard of Barth. He whispers to the figure once again, in Elven. "Why are you here? What are you looking for? What is your purpose? Answer me Ulrich of Barth, for I am not to be trifled with.”

The Lich responds, “You are insolent, mortal. I answer to no man. I am the stuff of nightmares, whelp.”

In the meantime, Savaric sneaks up behind Ulrich just outside of the thirty-foot range. As far as Savaric can tell, Ulrich has not heard him—he certainly hasn’t acknowledge his presence.

Mõrvar then casts Vanish and moves stealthily thirty feet to left of his current position. He Messages Savaric where he is and that they may be getting close to attacking him, but to stand by and wait for him to order the attack. He notices the Lich’s eyes flick over in that direction, but settle back where he had been.

He then Messages the Lich once again, in a calm and confident voice. "Ulrich of Barth, you know not who you even speak to. What exactly makes you think I am even mortal? You are an intelligent being; surely you know that even you can be destroyed, so why tempt fate? It is in your best interest to appease me and answer my questions. It isn’t wise to be hostile to an unknown entity whose abilities are beyond your comprehension. So, tell me, Why are you here? What are you looking for? What is your purpose?”

The Lich guffaws: “You use the simplest of spells to communicate with me and hide like a squirrel in the woods and expect me treat you with the respect of an equal?” He laughs. “An unknown entity whose abilities are beyond my comprehension? You are a fool with delusions of grandeur.”

Mõrvar then Messages again with a degree of cockiness: “It appears to me you were attempting to stealthily make your way through the woods I didn’t know that an all powerful immortal would need to be so careful. This squirrel has cracked your nut twice now. Your negative energy, walls of fire, fire elemental, Zombies and Ghouls have not come close to stopping me. Perhaps I made a mistake, I thought you were intelligent. It seems after facing me now on two different occasions you would have learned it is not you that should be feared. I don’t need more than simple spells to deal with you. My patience is growing short. I will give you one last chance before I turn your corpse into my nut to do with as I please. I only give you what little patience I have because you call yourself Ulrich, and I find that most interesting. I know that name very well, but not because of you. If you want to continue insulting me, then don’t say you haven’t been warned when you face my wrath yet again. So, for the last time, you can amuse me and answer my questions and satisfy my curiosity or you deal with me toe to toe. Remember, it isn’t me who attempts to hide like a coward behind a wall of fire. Now then, Why are you here? what are you looking for? what is your purpose?”

The Lich says. “By your words, I have puzzled you out. You must be one of the thieves and murderers who came to my sanctuary. Are you Captain Rilka or are you this Surm Ulrich I’ve heard about? Why would I reveal myself to criminals?”

Mõrvar whispers, “No thief came to your sanctuary, and I am neither of them yet in a way, I am both of them. Let us learn about each other.”

The Lich looks over at Mõrvar’s position, crying “No thief?!?!” He is clearly enraged.

Meanwhile, Ilona tells Savaric that he is about to become visible again. “Should I reapply the spell?” she asks.

The searing rays of fire come flying out of the Lich’s hand and hit Mõrvar’s position, striking him hard and true. Mõrvar casts Vanish and moves to the right.

Savaric attempts to overrun the Lich and knock him over. He manages to overrun him, but not knock him over. As he runs by, the Lich attempts to touch him, but misses. Mõrvar then casts Bull Strength on himself. The Lich then gestures toward Savaric and he and his gear morph and meld into a dire rat. He scurries away from the scene of the fight with the sound of Ilona in his mind saying, “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…”

Mõrvar casts True Strike and makes his way stealthily toward the Lich. The Lich is looking around and he says in High Elven, “Come out little squirrel!” He continues to look around.

Mõrvar attacks with Deathblow twice, dealing a great deal of damage. The powerful attack seems to shake the Lich up a bit. “I am no squirrel, I am Mõrvar Ulrich, twin son of Death!” he declares. Mõrvar hits him again for a great deal of damage and intimidates him again, keeping him in a shaken state. Then the Lich casts a spell defensively—five magic missiles spring forth and do minimal damage to Mõrvar. Mõrvar heroically goes next and attacks, yelling, “You will bow to me!” He attacks and hits the Lich again, continuing to keep it in a shaken state. The Lich casts defensively again. Beams of fire spring out from the Lich’s fingers and strike Mõrvar, doing a modicum of damage as Mõrvar manages to bypass some of the flames.

The Lich then attempts to touch Mõrvar and misses. Mõrvar then attempts attack him, misses, attacks again, and hits, felling him once again. He decapitates the Lich.

Savaric, still a dire rat, comes out of hiding. Mõrvar approaches Ghost and attempts to get Ghost to follow him, but is unsuccessful. Mõrvar shrugs and says, “Come on, Savaric.” He grabs the Lich’s corpse by the leg and starts dragging it out of the woods and into the village.

Mõrvar meets the perimeter guards, who are wide-eyed. He finds Lord Connach’s sergeant. He tells him, “Sergeant, I suggest you clean that place out while you have the chance because I don’t know how long this fucker’s going to stay dead.” He goes to his soldiers and says, “You guys, we’re here to secure the journal.” He throws the body up on Savaric’s horse.

“Yes, sir,” respond the soldiers and they mount up.

“Let’s get there, let’s get it cleaned out, and let’s get the fuck out of there before nightfall,” he tells the soldiers. They start heading toward the mine and the Lich’s sanctuary.

They go to the mining camp, then into the mines and then into the sanctuary. Mõrvar has the soldiers fire arrows across the entryways in case the traps have reset themselves—they have not. Mõrvar nudges Savaric-Rat and asks him to see if he can track the Lich and see if he rematerialized here in the lair and if he came from inside here. Savaric has a hard time tracking on the stone floor of the sanctuary—but they do find a lead-lined open panel along one wall in the pentagram room.

Mõrvar goes back to the mining camp and searches through ashes of the Lich’s previous body and finds nothing but ashes. Savaric searches as well and finds nothing.

Mõrvar, Savaric, and the soldiers head by to Leodin. He goes to the Sergeant and once again urges he and his men to head out, telling him that he will vouch for them if they head out. “I will not be here to save you if the Lich returns,” he says.

“You will vouch for us with Lord Cannach?” the sergeant asks.

“I will,” Mõrvar says.

The sergeant gives the order for the soldiers to mount up and move out. The load up the paralyzed man onto the back of a horse.

So Mõrvar and his soldiers and Lord Cannach’s soldiers all start heading back to Aldasar. Along the way, Mõrvar starts trying to peruse the notes in an attempt to decipher them. Despite all of his efforts, he cannot decode the notes.

Mõrvar also takes the Lich’s body and ties behind his horse and drags it behind them. He is carrying Savaric-Rat as he rides.

15 Transformation 508

Mõrvar and the sergeant’s troupe meet the group the Lord Cannach sent to collect the goods from the Lich’s sanctuary en route to Loudin. Mõrvar holds up the LIch’s head and announces that they need to turn back, that the village is not safe. The sergeant says, “Yes, it is not safe.” The gatherers turn their carts around and they start heading back to Lord Cannach’s.

17 Transformation 508

In the morning, Garth and Halvor come riding at breakneck speed up to the estate. Rilka and Alasir go out to meet them. “Master Mõrvar asked us to come meet with his brother,” Garth says. Surm comes and Halvor reports that “The Lich is back.”

“The Lich is back?” Rilka says, incredulous.

“The Lich is back. Apparently there was an attack on one of Lord Cannach’s soldiers,” Garth says.

“We were told to ride at top speed to report,” Halvor says.

Rilka realizes that Lich’s are the masters of life and death that have rejuvenative powers, but how those powers work, she is unsure.

“Where are Mõrvar and Savaric and the other two guards?” Surm asks.

Garth says, “They sent us to make report. Apparently the Lich went into the woods. Savaric went to follow-up.”

“Follow-up?” Surm asks.

“On where the Lich had gone,” Halvor says.

“Following the Lich?” Surm asks.

“I believe so?” Garth says. “We were sent to make report. We’re not sure what happened after that.”

Rilka begins cursing in several different languages.

“When we got to the village, Lord Cannach’s soldiers were surrounding one of their own. The soldier had been paralyzed by who they had assumed to be an old man rummaging through the village. But the old man was speaking what they called ‘The Court Tongue’ and struck the soldier and he was paralyzed,” Halvor says.

“Is he alive?” Surm asks.

“We’re not sure,” Garth says. “He’s frozen in place.”

Surm knows that the paralysis could be a spell or a spell-like effect and that the man may not necessarily be dead. It may not necessarily be permanent.

Rilka tells Surm to get ready to talk to Lord Cannach and Alasir and to get the soldiery ready.

Surm goes to find Lord Cannach. He finds the jovial nobleman who greats him heartily. “Surm! Good to see you!”

“Yes, Lord Connach,” Surm says.

“Have the men already returned with your journal?” Lord Cannach asks.

“No, some of the men came back early to make report,” Surm says. “It would seem that the Lich has reappeared. And it would seem that upon his reappearance back at the hamlet, he has already accosted one of your men. But I’m told that Mõrvar and Master Hunter Savaric are trailing it.”

Surm can tell that Lord Cannach is trying to keep his composure. Surm reassures the nobleman that they will be going into the city to do research to find a definitive way to keep the Lich down and that they will stay on-task until this issue is resolved. Two of their men are already on it, at great peril to themselves. They are seeking sagely advice on how to definitively destroy this creature, since apparently removing its head and burning its body is not definitive. They will not leave this task undone.

“We honor our contacts, sir,” Rilka says.

Lord Connach takes a deep breath, nods, places his hand on Surm’s shoulder and says, “What do you need from me?”

“Right now, all we need to do is research,” Surm says.

“We’re worried about our companions, we’re worried about your men,” Rilka says.

“As am I,” Lord Connach says.

“Anything that can come back from being decapitated and ashes, we need more information about,” Rilka says. “So if your resources can help us get this information quickly, that would be very helpful.”

“Well, this is outside my usual circles of influence,” the nobleman says.

“My initial thought was to return to the University. Master Clyne. He referred me to someone with the obelisk. Maybe he knows of someone in this area,” Surm says. “And we might purchase some of those magic items now on credit, before you’ve sold everything else, before everything is sold, as some of those things may be useful against the Lich.”

“Very well,” Lord Cannach says.

Surm has Garth and Halvor report to Mahgnus to get their pay. And then he and Rilka head into the city to go to the University to meet with Master Clyne. They pass through the forum, bypassing the monitors, who attempt to stop them, but Surm waves by them and they go straight to Clyne’s office. They knock on the door and hear a voice say “Enter!” They then go inside.

They see Master Clyne at a desk look up and blink at them owlishly, like he’s been reading for a long time, and he sees them and says, “Oh, Master Ulrich.”

“In all urgency, I need the foremost, most knowledgeable person on Liches in Aldasar today. Right now,” Surm says.

“Liches, you say?” Clyne says.

“Yes,” Surm says.

“Specifically, how to make them stay dead,” Rilka says.

“Yes, because apparently cutting off their head and burning the body doesn’t do it,” Surm says.

“Here on this campus, one of the Masters on the campus is also a priestess of Cereth. Her name is Fiona Olanan,” Clyne says.

“Can you get us there immediately?” Surm asks.

“I can walk you there,” Clyne says.

“How much do I owe you for your time,”

“Well, this appears to be an emergency,” Master Clyne says.

“It is, but this is twice that I’ve come to you and you’ve sent me to other sages. I assume you have some sort of finder’s fee or something,” Surm says.

“A full fee would not be applicable for such a service, but if you wanted to pay me a gold, I would be satisfied,” the sage says.

Surm pays him the fee.

“I thank you,” Clyne says and leads them to another building on the campus.

He takes them to a small building and knocks on the door. A female voice calls, “Enter!” Clyne pokes his head in and says, “Mother, do you have a moment?” The others get the impression that ‘Mother’ is her religious title. She is probably a Prioress, meaning that if she were not also a sage, she would probably run her own church. She says, “Yes, come in.”

Master Clyne opens the door and says, “These guests have an emergency that I thought you might be able to help with.”

“By all means, come in,” Mother Olanan says. Master Clyne excuses himself and Surm and Rilka thank him as he makes his way out.

Mother Olanan is a thin woman of middle years. Her hair is pulled back in a severe bun. She is wearing white robes, trimmed in gray.

“What can I do for you?” she asks.

Surm tells the story of Leodin, of how they found the Lich and how they thought they destroyed but it has apparently returned and how they are now looking for a way to definitively destroy the foul creature.

Mother Olanan leans forward on her desk and says, “A Lich is a foul creature indeed. They have done foul deeds to achieve their form of immortality. For each Lich these acts of depravity are different. And these acts have probably driven them insane. But for all of them, on act is always the same. It has probably created a phylactery that houses its soul. And when its body is destroyed, it recreates it. The only way to truly destroy him is to find its phylactery and destroy it.”

“What would it look like?” Surm asks. “Would it radiate magic?”

“It would,” Mother Olanan says.

Surm and Rilka discuss the various items they found and whether they radiated magic or not to see if anything they found could be such an item.

“How long does it usually take?” Rilka asks.

“Anywhere from one to ten days,” the priestess says.

“What would it look like?” Surm asks again.

“It could take many forms,” Mother Olanan says, “It could be a small box, a gem, a ring.”

“Where would the body recreate itself?” Surm asks.

“Near the phylactery,” Mother Olanan says.

“Then we must not have found it,” Surm says, “Because if he recreated himself near the hamlet, then its somewhere around there.”

“He’d want to keep an eye on that,” Rilka says.

“I’d assume so,” Surm says. “But I don’t know. Is it something he’d want to keep near?”

“It’s something he’d want to keep safe,” the priestess says.

“But’s not something he’d necessarily have to keep near,” Surm says. “So whenever he died, he’d be recreated wherever it is.”

“Can it be destroyed in the traditional way? Does anything special have to be done? If it’s a gem, can we take a hammer and crush it?” Surm asks.

“I don’t believe so. It’s simply a magical container. It has scripts of paper inside,” Mother Olanan says.

“So how can it be a gemstone?” Surm asks.

“It’s part of the ritual that creates it,” the priestess says.

“It will radiate magic just like anything else radiates magic?” Rilka asks.

“I believe so,” Mother Olanan says.

“Will it radiate evil?” Rilka asks.

“I believe so,” Mother Olanan says.

“I might be able to find it that way,” Rilka says.

“Is there anything else you can tell us?” Surm asks.

“Avoid its touch,” Mother Olanan says.

“What was reported to us from some of the guards was that another guard was paralyzed,” Surm says.

“That’s from its touch,” the priestess says.

“Is that temporary? Is he dead? How can we help him?” Surm asks.

“He is likely alive,” Mother Olanan says.

“Will the paralysis wear off?” Surm asks.

“It will not wear off, but it can be removed through magic,” Mother Olanan says.

“Do you know someone who can remove it?” Surm asks.

“I could such a thing given time to prepare,” she says.

“It will take three days to get there and three days to bring him back here,” Surm says.

“That would be time enough,” Mother Olanan says.

“Well, if you could prepare, that would be greatly appreciated. And I’m sure Lord Cannach would greatly appreciate it as well, as it is one of his men. So what do we owe you for your time thus far?” Surm asks.

“What you are doing is a service, but I, too have to provide services. My time is worth 3 gold,” the priestess says.

Surm pays her and thanks her.

“If the Lich has already reformed a body and we destroy the phylactery, does that still kill him?” Surm asks.

“No,” the priestess says.

“His soul will just go back to his body,” Surm says. “Will he know his phylactery has been destroyed?”

“He may,” Mother Olanan says.

“So he’ll just make another,” Surm says.

“He may, but the steps involved will be very difficult and costly for him,” Mother Olanan says.

“But he would be eager to do that, wouldn’t he?” Surm asks.

“He would be eager,” the priestess agrees.

“So destroying it is not enough; we have to make sure that he’s dead and then destroy it,” Surm says.

“They are difficult,” the priestess says.

“So I’m learning,” Surm says.

“So this man of Lord Cannach’s,” Mother Olanan says, “he’s being returned?”

“I’ll have to go get him,” Surm says.

“Come for me here and I will be ready,” the priestess says.

Rilka and Surm make their exit and head back to Lord Cannach’s estate. They report to the nobleman what they learned from the sage/priestess. They also tell him that she has agreed to dispel whatever foul enchantment has befallen his man. They will leave in the morning for Leodin.

Surm and Rilka exchange some magic items and Surm takes the rod of wonder into the city and sells it. Then they come back and purchase from the magic items collected on the quest. They are able to pay in cash instead of on credit.

18 Transformation 508

As preparations are being made for Rilka and Surm and the soldiers to head to Leodin, a great mass of riders approach Lord Cannach’s estate. It is the workers Lord Cannach sent, his soldiers lead by the sergeant, the remainder of the party’s soldiery, and Mõrvar, dragging something behind his horse and carrying a dire rat and a severed head.

Lord Cannach, Surm, Rilka, and Alasir go out to meet them. Rilka hugs Mõrvar and then punches him. “He came back. And so they know that we killed him, I drug his ass back,” Mõrvar says proudly.

“Where’s Savaric?” Rilka asks.

Mõrvar looks at the dire rat. “Savaric and all his items was turned into the rat. He knows who he is. He’s just a rat. No sooner than Savaric entered the battle, it happened.”

Rilka starts cursing.

Mõrvar turns to Lord Cannach. “I hope you don’t hold your men accountable for not following your orders, but I don’t think they would have survived if they had. I ordered them to come back with me. I do not think they would have been safe. in fact, one of your men has been paralyzed.”

“We have someone coming for that,” Rilka says.

“I hope Mother Olana is ready today,” Surm says.

Lord Cannach says, “I thank you for keeping the safety of my men in mind.”

“I think that was the point of our job to begin with. Protect your assets,” Mõrvar says.

Mõrvar reveals that he believes the spell cast on Savaric was Baleful Polymorph. Surm believes that it’s going to require a Break Enchantment to remove the spell.

Mõrvar tells Lord Cannach that he wanted to bring proof that he brought the bastard down. Surm says that their research has revealed that destroying the body isn’t going to work, that they’re going to have to destroy something called his phylactery that’s housing his soul and reconstituting his body.

Lord Cannach says that as far as bringing back the body, “The word of your troupe is still golden with me.”

Plans are made to burn the drug body of the Lich.

The party’s first plan of action is to fetch Mother Olanan and bring her to Lord Cannach’s estate. Perhaps she knows of someone that can cast Break Enchantment. Surm is going to need to cancel, or at least postpone, the job he arranged with Toliver Yew.

Surm takes Alasir and two guards with him to see the Ornish salesman. Rilka goes to fetch Mother Olanan.

Meanwhile Mõrvar stays behind at the Lord’s estate. He arranges to get cleaned up and get his clothes cleaned. The Lord’s staff end up putting the Savaric-Rat in one of the Lord’s kennels, as it is a disease-ridden creature. Mõrvar lets them.

Rilka heads to the University and ignores the monitors in the forum. She goes straight to the Mother’s cottage and knocks on the door. A voice calls “Enter!” and she opens the door slowly and sticks her head in.

“Mother,” Rilka says.

“Yes,” the priestess says.

“Our friends have returned and they have brought the gentleman that was paralyzed,” Rilka says.

“So soon?” Mother Olanan says.

“Yes, they ran into trouble, and our friends almost immediately came back so they weren’t that far behind. They are at Lord Cannach’s estate. We were hoping you could come and examine him,” Rilka says.

“Yes, of course,” the Mother says.

“Our other companion was turned into a dire rat,” Rilka says. “Some sort of Baleful Polymorph spell. Do you know of someone we can hire to come and change our friend out of this horrible shape?”

“So he was transmuted?” Mother Olanan says.

“Yes,” Rilka says.

“I may know someone who can help,” the priestess says.

“Well, we’re hoping to get our friend transformed back before taking care of this Lich and his phylactery once and for all,” Rilka says, “So time is very much of the essence.”

“I see,” Mother Olanan says. “There is a wizard by the name Ianes Redstaff.”

“Is he here at the University?” Rilka asks.

“No, he’s in the University district, but he’s not part of the University,” the priestess says.

“Well, I need to see him. May I escort you back. And perhaps we can stop at Master Redstaff’s along the way?” Rilka asks.

“Very well,” Mother Olanan says. She collects a satchel and settles it across her shoulders and walks with Rilka to her horse and two set off. Along the way, Mother Olanan says, “That is a Northron symbol, is it not?”

“Yes, I am a cleric of Bruni,” Rilka says.

“Courage, is it not?”

“That is one of his domains. Protection as well.”

“Um. A worthy domain.”

“I believe so.”

“That, too, is something Cereth would share.”

The two discuss theology a bit while they ride through the streets until they come to a ramshackle house with a sign out front that reads, in Tradespeak, “Ianes Redstaff, Wizard”.

“Do you know Master Redstaff?” Rilka asks.

“We are…acquaintances,” the priestess says.

Rilka knocks on the door. After a moment, the door opens and a man with long frizzy hair and a frizzy mustache and goggles stands there and says, “Yes, yes, yes!” in a slightly irritated voice.

“Master Redstaff?” Rilka asks.

“Yes,” the man says.

“I am Captain Rilka Lazarsdottir. I was hoping to find you. Mother Olanan said that you might be the wizard I’m looking for,” Rilka says. “One of our companions has fallen under a baleful transformation spell. He has been turned into a dire rat. That needs to be remedied as soon as possible. We’re actually going back there now. I’m bringing the Mother. We’re going back to Lord Cannach’s estate.”

“Lord Cannach?” Redstaff says.

“Yes, he’s the man who hired us. We’re taking care of a bit of a Lich problem,” Rilka says.

“Lord Cannach? Well. Huh.”

“Will you at least come back and examine our friend and see if there is anything you can do to help him?” Rilka asks. “He should not be a dire rat. I understand that we need someone that can cast Break Enchantment at a fairly high level. Would that be something that you might be able to do?”

He strokes his mustache. “I will help.” He goes back inside for a moment.

The Mother stands there and shakes her head. “Your mention of the lord probably did it.”

“Good. I don’t care why he comes. I need my friend not to be a dire rat,” Rilka says.

“Master Redstaff is a bit, mercenary, in his practices,” Mother Olanan says.

“Ah, so not so much on helping those in need,” Rilka says.

After a moment, the door opens and he’s got a battered wizard’s hat on his head, red battered robes, and he’s still wearing his goggles. He shuts and locks his door, drops his key in his pocket, and says. “Let’s go.” So the three of them head to Lord Cannach’s estate.

Meanwhile, Surm heads to the marketplace with the soldiers in tow. He heads to Master Yew’s tent and approaches the merchant. “Master Yew, sad news. Circumstances have arisen out our control and the last job we did was not as complete as we thought. Apparently Liches return quite frequently. However, we are going to complete the task we were hired to do for Lord Cannach, but it may interfere with your timeframe on leaving. I don’t know how set in stone your timeframe on leaving is and I cannot say on guarantee how long this will take. I am hoping we can get back by the 28th. If things go smoothly, I am hoping that we can put a final end to this creature. Because of the embarrassment this causes us and the inconvenience this causes you, then I will knock 20 silver off per day. You will still be escorted out of the city and into Kalimsport by Captain Rilka and Company. If you cannot wait, I understand. My apologies.”

Yew seems to mull this over, and then says, “Done!”

“We fully intend to find you here the 28th. If we are not back the 28th, apologies, but I will come and see if you did stay and we will honor our deal. If not, perhaps we will look you up in Kalimsport and we will regale you with tales and have a time of camaraderie. Good day, sir.”

The two groups arrive back at Lord Cannach’s estate at roughly the same time. Mõrvar has gotten cleaned up and is presentable. Lord Cannach comes out to meet his new guests.

Rilka takes Surm aside and warns him that Redstaff has been referred to as “mercenary.” She doesn’t know what he’s going to charge for his services.

Surm observes the wizard looking around, and gets the impression that he is mentally putting a price tag on everything that he sees.

Rilka channels energy to cure Mõrvar and Surm casts Cure Light Wounds on him.

The Mother says to Rilka, “Show me to the stricken man.”

Rilka goes with her to the parlor.

Redstaff claps his hands together and says, “Yeah! Show me the rat!” Surm gives him a cold look.

Surm takes Rilka aside and wants her to make it clear to Lord Cannach and Mother Olanan how much concern they have for his man. And then he says, “I go with, Redstick was it?”

“Staff. Redstaff,” the wizard says, clearly agitated.

Rilka, Lord Cannach, and Mother Olanan go into the parlor where the soldier is standing, frozen in time. The priestess goes forward and starts examining him. She steps back and says, “He’s alive.”

“Thank the gods,” Rilka says.

Lord Cannach sighs with relief.

Mother Olanan asks the two of them to stand back. She then casts a spell and suddenly the man starts moving again. He cries out, and says, “It was terrible!”

“Very glad you’re safe,” Rilka says.

“Come, Mother, let me speak with you a moment,” Lord Cannach says. And the two step aside to speak.

Rilka helps the soldier sit down and asks if she can perform a healing on him. He says she may. So she channels energy and heals him. He feels better. She sits and chats with the soldier as Lord Connach and the Mother speak privately. Rilka gets the soldier a drink of water, which he takes almost greedily.

Meanwhile, at the kennel, Surm asks Mõrvar why Savaric is in the kennel. Mõrvar says it was funny and that the nobleman’s staff insisted. Surm turns to the wizard and asks if he has a first name and that his name is Surm Ulrich. He says his name is Ianes. “So Ianes Redstuff, what do you think?”

Mõrvar lets Savaric out of the kennel.

The wizard gives Surm a side-eye, but says, “Well, he’s definitely a rat.”

“Yeah, of the dire nature. Formerly a half-orc. So can we fix that?” Surm asks, slightly perturbed.

“That’s what you’re here for, isn’t it?” Mõrvar says.

“Yeah, I can do that,” Redstaff says.

“Well, let’s do it,” Surm says.

“Well…” Redstaff says, clapping his hands together and scrunching up his face, “…my services don’t come free. So there’s a bit of business talk we have get cleared up first.”

“Let’s talk,” Surm says.

“Let’s talk,” Redstaff says. “Now Baleful Polymorph is how this occurred, at least, that’s how it was described to me, by your other half-breed woman.” Mõrvar gives him a dirty look at that description. The wizard continues. “This was done by a pretty powerful spellcaster.”

“This was done by a Lich,” Surm says.

“A Lich?” Redstaff says.

“Yeah,” Surm and Mõrvar say.

Redstaff says, “So we’re talking, this is probably going to cost about 805 gold.”

Surm says, “I was watching you as we were walking through the estate and on the estate so I know that you’re recognizing where you are and who you’re assisting right now, so, how about we cut that price down to 400 gold and we get you a better introduction to Lord Cannach than ‘hello, goodbye’ and maybe, if you’re successful and impressive, will get you on the lord’s shortlist for his magical needs. That’s half your asking price but maybe a very influential patron.”

Redstaff says, “Six hundred and your fancy introduction.”

“Alright, but that’s the final price and you do till its done,” Surm says. “If this enchantment survives your breaking, you’ll keep trying until it doesn’t, at no extra charge.”

“And I’ll stay with you till it’s done,” Mõrvar says.

“Alright, clear out of the way,” Redstaff says, and he rubs his hands together.

He stands before Savaric-Rat and makes some gestures and says some mystical words and suddenly Savaric stands before them. In his mind, Savaric hears Ilona says, “Oh thank goodness.”

Surm summons Mahgnus and he fetches 60 platinum for Redstaff. Surm pats Savaric on the back and says, “I’m glad you’re back.”

Surm escorts Redstaff to the parlor and Savaric and Mõrvar follow. In parlor, Rilka is chatting the soldier, Rhudiard. Surm goes up to him and says, “Welcome back, soldier.” Rhudiard says, “Thank you.” When he sees Mõrvar he says, “Thank you, sir, for bringing me back.”

Rilka says, “Rhudiard was conscious the entire time.”

Mõrvar puts his hand out and says, “You’re welcome.” Rhudiard takes it.

Surm introduces the wizard to Lord Cannach. “Savaric has returned to us courtesy of Master Ianes Redstuff. Lord Cannach, Wizard Extraordinaire.” Redstaff bows with a flourish and doffs his hat.

Lord Cannach says, “Thank you, Sir Wizard, for your services.”

Redstaff says, “All in a day’s work, Lord Cannach. If ever you need the services of a mystical nature, you may call upon me in the University District. My card.” And he produces a card with a flourish of his sleeve, which Lord Cannach takes.

Mother Olanan shakes her head with disapproval.

Mother Olanan says, “Well, if that is all I have work to get back to at the University.”

“Would you like me to escort you back?” Rilka asks.

“If you would,” the priestess says.

The wizard says, “I understand you have a Lich problem.” His pronouncement is met with an awkward silence.

Lord Cannach says, “Had. Had a Lich problem.”

Mõrvar grins.

The wizards says, “Well, as I said, if you ever have a problem of a mystical nature, fell free to call upon me.” He turns to Rilka. “May I get an escort back to the city?”

Rilka nods.

Before leaving, and out of sight of Lord Cannach, Rilka welcomes Savaric back and then punches him. Then she leaves with the priestess and the wizard.

Surm excuses himself and he and Mõrvar head to their tent at the encampment on the lord’s property. Surm kicks everyone out of the tent so that it is just he and his brother inside. He asks Mõrvar for the journal. Mõrvar hands him the journal and then Surm slaps him with the journal. “What the fuck are you going after the Lich for? Damn!” he cries. “Did it occur to you that you may die? Did it occur to you that you may get Savaric killed or turned into a rat?”

“This Lich is going to find out that not even he can escape death,” Mõrvar says.

“That was extremely stupid,” Surm says. “And unnecessary.”

“We stopped him,” Mõrvar says.

“You came back looking like shit,” Surm says. “Which tells me you got close to getting killed.”

“But I didn’t,” Mõrvar says.

“But if you had, what would have come of Savaric? He would be a rat in the woods, we’d have no way of knowing,” Surm says.

“He’s resourceful, I’m sure he could have figured it out,” Mõrvar says.

“Yes, I’m sure he could have survived as a rat in the woods,” Surm says.

“I’m sure he could have figured out a way to communicate,” Mõrvar says.

“If he could get to us,” Surm says. “I’m sure he scurry back into the hamlet without the soldiers cutting him down. ‘Oh a dire rat! He’s full of disease!’ You think he’s going to be able to sit there and wait on us to come back?”

“We cannot control everything,” Mõrvar says.

“You can control what you do!” Surm says.

“Yes, and I killed him,” Mõrvar says.

“Or you could have just done what you were there to do and come back and said the Lich is back and as a group we could have gone to get him,” Surm says.

“We wouldn’t have necessarily known where he was,” Mõrvar says. “We tracked him.”

“Which you shouldn’t have done,” Surm says.

“Savaric attacked him, he attacked Savaric, I attacked him,” Mõrvar says.

“Which would have never happened if you hadn’t have chased him down,” Surm says.

“We wouldn’t have known where he went,” Mõrvar says. “It would’ve have been another week before we’d have gotten back. How much more prepared would he have been for us? How many ghouls?”

Surm sits down with the journal and tries to decipher the notes. He tosses the folios at Mõrvar for him to look at.

Later, Surm speaks with Lord Cannach and purchases the Headband of Vast Intelligence on credit. He also tells him that if he wants to send workers to the Lich’s lair to withdraw the goods, that their troupe will escort them their in the morning.

Savaric goes into the city and buys some magical arrows. Rilka returns from escorting the wizard and priestess.

Both Surm and Mõrvar contemplate how long a wizard can retain his spells without a book. Apparently, he can retain it until he casts it. They check to see if Lord Cannach has already sold the spellbook and it turns out that he has.

19 Transformation 508

The troupe, some of Lord Cannach’s soldiers, and a group of workers head out from the estate toward Leodin in the morning. Along the way, Surm works on translating the folio and the notes.

Mõrvar warns Alasir that the Lich cannot be affected by any of the soldiers that do not have magical weapons—which is the majority of them. And he also warns them not to get touched by the Lich. Alasir nods, taking the warning seriously.

Mõrvar greets the sergeant of Lord Cannach’s men and the sergeant says that he hopes they don’t run into the same trouble as last time. Mõrvar chooses to ride point. Rilka keeps her eyes peeled and makes the rounds through the entourage. Ghost trots on the outskirts of the entourage. Surm casts Magic Missile into the Ring of Counterspells.

25 Transformation 508

The entourage arrives in the hamlet of Leodin.

Over the course of the journey, Surm has manage to translate much of the notes and the folios. The “journal” is primarily notes on anatomy, how organs react to various stimuli. It appears that he was into vivisection. The sidebars are various rants about how the voices won’t be quiet, how he’s going to get revenge on so-and-so, “they’ll see—they’ll all see!”, etc.

The folio is a bit scattershot with more rantings and ravings. various diatribes about people that slighted him in some fashion, pontifications about his impending godhood and his conquering of the North and then his sweep of south and his march on Asdari. Once he gets used to the style, Surm can make sense of the folio. There are two main sections. One is plans for the building of the sanctuary. The second is the means of a ritual—known as the Ritual of Becoming or the Ceremony of Endless Night.

In Mõrvar’s opinion, this Ulrich is the one that has caused their “taint”, he is the reason for the life that they have had, he is the reason their family outcast them, he is the reason they were forsaken by Aeth.

The ritual has three main parts: Part the First is the body, Part the Second is the soul, and Part the Third is the phylactery. Then one performs the Ceremony of Endless Night.

Surm looks for details on the phylactery. It is a sealed metal box containing strips of parchment. There is a drawing of the box. Surm shares the details of the phylactery, but nothing else of the papers.

The first part of the ritual involved summoning a heresy devil. According to his notes, the price the devil imposed upon him was sacrifice of one his sons—which he paid. His son was named Ulfric. The sacrifice was to summon a warmonger devil to unleash on a temple to Azumazran. The process he went through to prepare his soul for transference into the phylactery was journeying to a magical pool, desecrating it, drinking from it, and letting the now-corrupted waters flood his soul. According to his notes, the nightmares began after that…

Surm seems to recall their Uncle Thormax mentioning an Ulfric when talking family history

The second part of the ritual was preparing his body for transformation. He had spend a lot of money on exotic herbs and such for the elixir. Then he had to prepare the herbs of unlife which are grown in the corpse of a person of noble birth slain by his own hand seeded by his own blood under the light of the full moon. Then he had to make the water of unlife by soaking the corpse of a good-aligned person, once again murdered by his own hand, in unholy water, for seven days and adding this water to the elixir. Finally he had to make a torch of souls by binding the soul of a good-aligned person to a black sapphire worth a 1000 gold pieces and this gemstone would be used to heat the elixir during the main ceremony.

Then the phylactery is made.

During the main ceremony, which must be performed on desecrated ground, the phylactery must be placed on an altar. Then the soul must be prepared for its journey by whatever method suggested by the heresy devil. Then the elixir of life is prepared and heated by the torch of souls and drank.

This is only the beginning.

While the body is being wracked with the pains of its impending death—and hopefully, undeath—the potential Lich must complete the ritual that will place his soul within the phylactery. If he fails, then all his preparations are for naught.

Both Surm and Mõrvar are disgusted by the lengths the Lich went to in order to achieve its ends and do not share this with the rest of the group.

At Leodin, the group head for the central market hall and search it out for any signs of disturbance. They also fan out and search out the village. It does appear that some of the homes have been ransacked. The storehouse seems to be fine. Surm checks the food stores for any signs of discoloration, but doesn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. He calls over the sergeant and tells him that it is suspicious that the houses were broken into but the food was not, so as a safety measure, it would probably be best if no one ate the food. The sergeant says, “Very well,” and passes the word along to the rest of the entourage.

Rilka isn’t really seeing a pattern in the ransacking of the homes—she’s not seeing a lot of stuff missing, just a lot of things pawed through.

They decide to head into the forest. They order Alasir to have the soldiers set up a perimeter at the village and then the four of them start tracking into the forest. Savaric follows the trail left by he and Mõrvar over a week before. Surm casts Detect Magic along the way in hopes of finding the phylactery, thinking that perhaps the Lich has hidden the device in the forest.

Savaric manages to find his way to site of the previous battle. There are burn marks on the trees and signs of battle. Surm detects no magic in the area. Savaric tries to find another trail leading to the northeast. Savaric follows the trail for about a quarter mile and comes to a spring. In the spring are some flat stones. One has been overturned. Surm still detects no magic. Where the stone was, there is a square indention that is now filling up with water.

The party theorizes that after he was killed, the Lich materialized with his phylactery in the sanctuary, took it with him when he left, hid it in the forest in the spring, returned to Leodin, harassed the soldiers, and was heading back to collect it when Mõrvar and Savaric came upon him and Mõrvar killed him a second time. Savaric looks around for another trail and finds two—one heading back toward the hamlet of Leodin, another toward Aldasar. The trail to the hamlet is about a week old. The trail to Aldasar is about two days old. Now they believe that the Lich as rematerialized again and gone back to Leodin first, ransacked the homes, and then headed to Aldasar—and he has a head-start on them.

Mõrvar wants to ride hard for Aldasar and find the Lich. The party discusses what to do next—leave the soldiery and pursue the Lich? Split up and track him while looking for the phylactery? They finally settle on riding as fast as they can back to Lord Cannach’s in anticipation of the Lich attacking the nobleman’s estate. They explain the situation to Alasir and have their soldiers sit tight in Leodin. “May Bruni bless you and the entire group,” Rilka says.

“I will not disappoint,” Alasir says.

Surm goes to Mahgnus and says, “If we’re all dead when you get back to Aldasar, I guess split up the group funds amongst the men and yourself.”

“Oh, don’t talk like that, sir,” Mahgnus says.

And the four of them take off back to Aldasar.

28 Transformation 508

The party arrives at Lord Cannach’s estate late in the afternoon. Nothing seems out of the ordinary. Lord Cannach comes out and looks concerned.

“What news?” he asks.

“Well, based on the Lich’s trail, we were afraid he was coming back this way,” Surm says. “So we got back here as fast as we could. We left our men with yours, cleaning out the mine.”

“We’re glad to see you’re safe,” Rilka says.

“We were afraid, that based on encountering your men earlier, and their liveries, that the Lich may come to Aldasar,” Surm says.

“That’s troubling,” Lord Cannach says, “though we’ve had no trouble thus far. With sending some of my soldiers to Leodin, I do have a reduced contingent here.”

“Well, unless your soldiers are magically armed, they won’t be much help. They need magical weapons to strike this creature,” Surm says.

Mõrvar says, “He may be out there right now, watching.”

“Let’s start making a plan, then. Our only hope is that he comes here, otherwise we have no trail,” Surm says, “And we just left the only one we had.”

The party and Lord Cannach then gather and start making plans. First of all, they have the peasants working his lands gathered up and moved to the manor house. Lord Cannach says that he has seven soldiers at his disposal, but they do not have magical weapons. They may be able to be used as eyes on the ground. Surm believes, based on his writings, that he will definitely come after them. What they’ve done to him will be considered a personal affront. This leads to the idea of trying to bait him into coming, using themselves as bait. Finally, they decide to camp outside the barn on Lord Cannach’s property, with Savaric and Mõrvar hiding in the darkness, ready to ambush. Rilka and Surm will be laughing and having a good time at the Lich’s expense, trying to lure him in. One of the soldiers will be dressed in Mõrvar’s clothes, sitting around the fire, ready to run when the attack comes. Rhudiard volunteers for this duty. Surm also has his crossbow ready with a tanglebolt loaded and ready to fly.

Everyone gets into position and the waiting begins. Finally, later that night, they all hear a voice call out speaking in High Elven, say “Hello squirrel.” Savaric can tell that the voice came from about 100 feet away. He casts Gravity Bow. Mõrvar hears the voice about 60’ away. He casts Vanish and moves 10 feet back and five feet to the right. Surm casts Dancing Lights around where Mõrvar was. Rilka casts Bless.

Rilka starts heading in the direction of the voice. Mõrvar casts Bull Strength on himself and sneaks toward the voice, still invisible from the Vanish. Surm readies his crossbow and tells Rhudiard to head for the house. The voice calls out again in the same language, saying “Captain Rilka, Surm Ulrich, come face me!” Savaric has Ilona make him invisible and he stealthily moves closer to the voice. Rhudiard heads double-time toward the house.

Mõrvar waits for Rilka to pass him so that he can see in the light of her falchion to attack. Surm holds his attack as well, as he doesn’t have a target. Rilka holds her move and attack and calls out, “So you’re looking for Captain Rilka, are you?” The figure steps forward into the range of Savaric’s and Rilka’s darkvision. The sight of the Lich causes Savaric to be shaken. He says to Rilka, “Which one are you?” And Rilka says, “Does anyone understand this guy? All he says is ‘blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…’” Surm discerns the direction that the voice is coming from and moves his dancing lights there. As soon as he’s in the light, Surm fires his crossbow and hits the LIch with a tanglebolt. Rilka moves forward. Mõrvar moves forward stealthily and attacks. “Hello, nut!” he cries as he attacks. Rhudiard exits stage left. Savaric fires two arrows at once and then fires again and again. The arrows bounce harmlessly off the Lich.

Rilka attacks the Lich twice with her Falchion and hits both times. The Lich then channels negative energy, but Rilka and Mõrvar manage to resist some of the damage. Savaric tries to command Ghost to attack and commands his bow to activate its flame power. Ghost, however, is uncooperative. Mõrvar attacks again, twice, and hits twice. Rilka notices that Mõrvar’s attacks are not as effective as they should be. Surm drops his crossbow and pulls out his Wand of Magic Missiles and casts it at the Lich. The Lich is hit with five Magic Missiles.

Rilka hits the Lich with her Falchion twice. The Lich attempts to cast a spell through the entanglement of the tanglebolt and manages it. Then he tries to cast defensively. And the Lich disappears.

Mõrvar casts Light on his greatsword. Rilka stabs the air around her to see if he just went invisible. Rilka uses her armor to fly around and look around and try and see him. She doesn’t see him. The others discuss the fact that undead can be more vulnerable to different types of weapons, slashing vs. bludgeoning or what-have-you. The Lich doesn’t seem to be bothered by piercing and Mõrvar’s slashing weapon didn’t seem to be as effective. The party then settles in to debate their next move.

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