Shadows of the Rift

Rage and Raven: Temple of Vengeance
Part One

7 Awakening 508

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At the Dragon’s Flagon in Kalimsport that evening, Lenoria secures a private room while Rhain decides to sleep in the common room. Both decide to wash the stink of their ship passage from Jirra with a hot bath. After their baths and a hearty dinner, they discuss the possibility of finding new jobs in the marketplace the next day. The common is busy with various merchants and travelers. There are mostly humans here, though a few dwarves and halflings come in through the night.

Finally last call is sounded and preparations are made for those that are staying in the common room to bed down for the night. Lenoria says goodnight and heads up to her room. Tables are moved and bedrolls and put down. Finally the door is barred and Rhain settles in for the night.

Later that night, the big man is awakened by the sound of a halfling’s foot scraping a window shutter as he makes his way none-too-stealthily out of a window. The barbarian quickly makes his way across the room, dodging sleeping bodies and grapples the halfling down. The smaller man attempts to get away but fails. Rhain pins the halfling to the floor and demands “What are you up to thief?”

“Me? I…I was just going out for some fresh air!”

At this point, other sleepers are starting to stir. Rhain quickly checks for his own pouch, finding none. “You there!” He points to one of the other guests. The other man asks, “What do you have there?” “A thief. Hold him down while I search him.” The other man checks himself first and apparently doesn’t like what he doesn’t find because he comes to help the big man hold the halfling down. Rhain searches the smaller man, who protests loudly of his innocence through the whole affair. Finally, Rhain throws several pouches and a small knife onto the bar—after. pocketing his own pouch from the stolen loot. He then shoves the halfling out the open window. “If I catch you again, I’ll kill you,” he says to the form running in the darkness. Everyone collects their pouches and few men pat the Northron on the shoulder. After giving one of the other halflings in the room a dirty look, Rhain goes back to sleep.

8 Awakening 508

That morning, one of the victims of the theft, a cheesemaker named Rolyn buys Rhain’s breakfast and accompanies him and Lenoria at the meal table. He’s an amiable sort and hopes to secure a deal with the Dragon’s Flagon to supply their cheese. After a pleasant meal, the two adventurers part ways with the farmer and head to the marketplace to look for work.

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The best job they find is guarding a caravan for a merchant by the name of Danwyn Rosell. A midsize troupe of wagons (five) is heading to Crownport and needs a band of fifteen guards. The guards will be lead by a Kuskar by the name of Luvar Cruzo. The pay is three silver pieces per day, with food on the journey. The caravan will be returning, but there is no contractual obligation on the return job. Both Lenoria and Rhain debate whether to return to Kalimsport with the caravan or stay in Crownport and look for work. At any rate, the caravan is leaving the following day from the northwest gate. So the two sign on and decide to move out from the more southerly Dragon’s Flagon and into an inn closer to the northwest gate—the Enchanted Staff.

Fortunately, the innkeep at the Enchanted Staff didn’t seem to recognize Rhain—as Rhain had previously been thrown out of the common room there for brawling. Nevertheless, the two enjoy a nice evening there with entertainment from a female half-elf bard and go to sleep in comfortable beds.

9 Awakening 508

This morning the two pick up their horses from Corwyn’s hostelry, as well as a day’s refund from their previous payment and head to the northwest gate to meet up with the caravan. The two meet Luvar Cruzo, a brusque man with a magnificent mustache who tells that as long as they fall into line, there should be no problems and directs them to their places. Rhain immediately begins to check out the various females in attendance—both caravan staff and guardswomen. One guard catches his eye and he immediately begins to strike up an acquaintance with her throughout the day. He name is Eva and she has been on a number of guard duties and “exploration” gigs. Rhain manages to flirt with her and avoid the stern gazes of Luvar throughout the day. Meanwhile Lenoria discusses the various threats to the caravan with the Kuskar: hobgoblins, bandits, etc.

Finally, the caravan calls a halt in the evening and circles up to form a camp. Rhain is called to task by Luvar for falling out of line to talk to Eva, though the big man assures the guard leader that he was merely keeping an eye on potential threats. That night, both Lenoria and Rhain try to maintain friendly relations with their fellow guardsmen on their watches. Both agree that the job is pretty boring.

11 Awakening 508

The past couple of days have passed pretty much the same as the first. Rhain has continued to try and make time with Eva while evading Luvar while both he and Lenoria have tried to keep their wits about them during the boredom of the job. The only difference to mark this day is that Eva asks if Rhain where Rhain is staying in Crownport. She says that she usually stays at Silvercask’s when she’s in the city and suggests that he stay there, too. She also indicates that she’ll be following the caravan back to Kalimsport. It’s easy money. Rhain is non-committal about his future plans but says that she should save them a place at Silvercask’s when they get free of the caravan.

The caravan pulls into Crownport a couple of hours after sundown that evening. Eva indicates that some money probably changed hands to allow this happen. Nevertheless, the guards all follow the wagons to a warehouse in the market district and stand guard as the goods are unloaded. Finally, Luvar Cruzo calls for those that want their pay for this leg of the journey to come with him. Rhain and Lenoria come with him and collect their nine silver and indicate that the caravan shouldn’t wait on them to return. The two then head to Silvercask’s to meet Eva.

The two arrive at Silvercask’s Nimble Cartwright, a comfortable inn near the warehouse in the market district. Rhain is in a celebratory mood and buys ale for the table. Introductions are made between Lenoria and Eva, though the former soon gets the idea that her company isn’t required and makes her way closer to the stage to watch the bard, leaving the barbarian alone with the guardswoman. Soon the two head upstairs to her room.

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Lenoria watches the bard spin tales and sing songs for a while and then buys the performer a mug a ale, who takes the drink in stride and toasts her with it. Between sets, she invites the man, a human, to her table for drinks. He takes her up on it. He’s a handsome man, a bit older than her—though not by much. His name is Frandwyn Dell. He notes that she is Sianaean, though is not familiar with the term “Lightbearer” when she brings it up. She brings up the fact that she and her companion are adventurers looking for work that is a bit more exciting than guarding caravans and thought that maybe a bard, such as he, may have heard of something that could pique her interest.

He gives the question some thought and says that he has come across something that could be of interest, but it’s not local. It could require some travel. . .“Nevermind that,” she says. “Go on.”

In Tarsas, in the Et’tir Mountains, is an abandoned temple to Shazira. During an ascension of the church of Irthani and a decline of Shazira, the temple was raided. The priests of Shazira were routed and their idols were toppled. However, according to some, there was a secret chamber that the priests of Irthani did not find that held some of the secret treasures of those evil priests, including a final sanctified idol of Shazira that the good priests did not find. This rare find would be worth much to the right buyer. . .

The bard would be willing to give directions to this temple for a finders fee of twenty gold pieces—but would be willing to negotiate with the comely priestess over. . .breakfast. Lenoria agrees to spend the evening with the bard and goes to his room for the night.

12 Awakening 508

That morning, after not-so-fierce negotiations over breakfast, Lenoria gets Frandwyn to give over the directions to the temple for a finder’s fee of ten gold pieces. Eventually Eva and Rhain come downstairs for breakfast and then part ways, Eva heading back for the caravan and Rhain to hear about the new work that Lenoria has somehow lined up overnight. The two go to Lenoria’s room where she tells the story as related to her by the bard about the temple. After hearing the story, they decide that they need to recruit a rogue—and decide that Alun would be perfect for the job. They also remember that he and his sister, Kerra, were heading to Crownport last they heard so that they might be in the city.

They decide to gather up their belongings and seek out their former compatriots. Lenoria begins to make inquiries, having their first names and descriptions only. But luck seems to be with her as someone recognizes the Lanyons, saying that if they’re in town, they’re probably at the Ebon Hound. So she and Rhain head in that direction. Sure enough, they see the brother and sister team in the common room, both surprised and dismayed to see them. Rhain wastes no time in setting up the job for them and soon begins laying out what they need, specifically a rogue they can trust, which is Alun. Alun seems flattered, and enamored with the thought of treasure, though his sister seems skeptical—still if her brother is in, so is she. So with the Lanyon’s in, they head up stairs to Alun’s room to plan out the details.

After settling the details of the journey, the four head out to sell off Rhain and Lenoria’s horses and to find a ship willing to sail to Imth in Tarsas. Kerra also clues them into the state of the economy in Crownport, that it will be better to buy food here as there is a surplus of staples (foodstuffs, cloth, etc.) and so it is cheap right now. That’s music to party’s ears. So they stock up on rations while they’re at a discount. She also tells them that in Tarsas things will be hard—foreigners are not protected under the law there so if they get in trouble they could be treated badly—maybe even enslaved. At least, that’s what she’s heard.

They do manage to secure passage on a ship sailing to Imth, The Blue Seeker, captained by Araldan Rosewell, a half-elf. It can leave this evening with the tides if the party is ready. They are, so they pay their fees and load up on the ship for a night journey out of Crownport toward Tarsas.

14. Awakening 508

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After two days of sailing, the ship arrives in the port at Imth in the afternoon. The ship is boarded by dark-skinned men with long, braided hair and forked beards. Their hair is festooned with beads and jewels and jewels. After they negotiate the various taxes and fees with the captain, they turn their attention toward the passengers. “Foreigners, eh.” they say in a thickly-accented Tradespeak. “Well, watch yourselves here, barbarians.” Rhain attempts to engage them in banter, asking if their country is not friendly, but they’re having none of it. They turn on their heels and stalk off after taking their exorbitant gate fees.

Once they exit the ship, Lenoria begins asking about for a friendly inn. After avoiding the “Amorous Demon”, they are directed to the Naked Shepherd, a foreigner-friendly inn run by a half-elf female by the name of Phamea. Rhain seems to have noticed that Tarsas runs on a caste system denoted by the various hairstyles employed by the people around him. Phamea seems to have assimilated into the merchant class of the city, wearing the braids and beads, but is friendly and does not upcharge the obviously foreign party before her. “I was a foreigner once,” she says.

Once the party gets settled into their rooms, they come down to the common room to get a meal. There seem to be a lot of travelers in the inn, more foreigners than locals, but still a fair amount of locals. A pair of said locals come stumbling toward their table, one following behind the other, obviously trying to hold the larger, drunker one back. The drunker one comes up and says something in Tarsian to table, but his eyes never leave Lenoria.

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand,” she says.

The other man looks pained. “He says ‘How much for the Sianaean harlot?’”

“Tell your friend to leave,” Lenoria says.

“I’m trying!” the other man says and tugs on the arm of the larger man, who makes a circular motion at his face, obviously indicating Lenoria’s tattoos and saying something in Tarsian.

At this point, Rhain sighs, stands up, and points at the door. Lenoria looks around for the innkeep, who is making her way to their table. She then looks the drunk man dead in the eye and says, in Sianaean, “Go. Away.”

The man looks to Rhain, then to Lenoria, and to Rhain again, and then goes back to his table. The innkeep arrives and apologizes. “He’s such a troublemaker. I’m sorry you had to deal with that.” Lenoria shrugs it off and decides to head to her room. Everyone else follows suit.

15 Awakening 508

That morning, the party loads up and finds a muleskinner that happens to be foreigner-friendly and does not overcharge them for a mule to load up their gear for the coming journey into the mountains. After loading up the mule, they head south out of the city toward the temple, according to the directions given to them by the bard.

It’s a warm day and pleasant the day passes without incident. That night, the party makes camp, establishes watches, and passes a pleasant spring evening, camping in the woods.

16 Awakening 508

That morning, the party breaks camp and continues on their way through the forest. That afternoon, a boar breaks out of the foliage and attacks Rhain. After a tough fight, with both Rhain and Kerra getting gored, Rhain finally finished the beast off. Lenoria applied her healing magic to the injured warriors. On the up side, the party did manage to save a day of rations by skinning the beast and cutting a day’s worth of meat off of the carcass.

22 Awakening 508

The party has been traveling through the forest for a number of days. The weather has been pleasant; early springtime sunshine and mild nights. They’ve managed to travel without being accosted for nearly a week. Today, the terrain has changed as they’ve entered the foothills of the mountains and left the forest behind.

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As the group travels through the hills, their complacency is challenged by the twang of a longbow and the snap of a missed arrow striking the earth near Lenoria. Suddenly, they hear war cries from ahead and behind them as two hobgoblins begin changing toward their group. Alun begins throwing daggers while Rhain moves to the hobgoblin at the rear and Kerra moves toward the hobgoblin at the lead. Lenoria casts her goddess’ blessing over the party. As Kerra and Rhain take on their respective hobs, Lenoria soon learns that she is still the target of the archer located on a nearby hill. Alun continues to throw daggers at the lead hob. Soon, it falls as Lenoria climbs the hill to face the archer. It draws a longsword and cuts her down. Kerra moves to take on the archer as well. Rhain takes out the rear hob and moves to take on the archer with the others, finally cutting it down with a mighty blow.

With all three hobgoblins down, attention is now paid to the fallen Lenoria. Rhain gives Kerra a potion to administer that he had gotten off of an assassin on a previous adventure. He was pretty sure it was a cure potion. Kerra gives Lenoria the potion—it is a cure! Lenoria comes to and asks what happened. The rest of the party catch her up on the result of the ambush. . . TO BE CONTINUED

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Session Twenty-Four
The Demonic Depths

23 Illumination 508

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The party stands in the entryway of the central pyramid at Salvi, deciding their next move. Passageways beckon to the left and to the right. A hideous demonic statue, its arms outstretched and its hands forming some sort of baptismal font dominates the room. Savaric searches the statue but finds nothing out of the ordinary. The ranger then looks for tracks in the dusty entryway, but finds none. The party then decides to head left, with Savaric leading the way.

After following a long corridor, the half-orc comes to an arched doorway leading into large room, the boundaries of which reach beyond the limits of Savaric’s darkvision. He can see disturbing, somewhat primitive wall paintings of priests summoning demons and having congress with them and not much more. Surm summoned forth dancing lights and cast them into the room to shed more light upon the subject.

With more light shed upon it, the party can discern that the room is a huge sanctuary, supported by pillars painted with pictures similar to those seen by Savaric on the walls. In the center of the room is a huge stone altar with bones chained upon it. At the rear of the room are two, separate, steel doors and a large hideous demonic statue. After some debate, the party decides to head toward the left-most of the steel doors as Savaric checks the path for traps. Surm sends the dancing lights toward the altar and statue in case anything untoward should happen there.

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As the party slowly makes its way through the room, Surm sees shadows gather at the altar, coalescing into a humanoid form with dully glowing eyes. The form howls and then flies toward the party! It has a form similar, but not exactly the same as, the shadows that the party has fought before. The glowing eyes are filled with anguish and hate. The party takes up positions surrounding the form and begin to do battle. Brother Thorne’s prayers seem to have little effect upon the creature. It touches Rilka, sapping her of her health and vitality. But, finally, the creature is dispatched with an angry blow from Rilka’s glowing blade.

Finally, the party makes it to the steel door, finding it devoid of traps and unlocked. Savaric opens the door and looks down a long hallway, noting a couple of arched doorways and another steel door. The hallway curves back down to the left and looks like it curves down further away to the right, around the other side of the sanctuary.

The party then decides to search the altar in the center of the sanctuary. They note that it has grooves etched into it, designed to catch blood and funnel it into receptacles at each of the four corners. Brother Thorne prays for the soul of the departed sacrifice victim on the altar. The party also searches the bronze idol and finds nothing of interest. Surm goes ahead and opens the other steel door, which opens into the long hallway that Savaric has already looked down. The party then spends more time in the sanctuary as both Savaric and Mõrvar search out the entire room, finding nothing.

Next, Savaric is sent through the right-most steel door and into one of the arched doorways in the adjacent hall into a room dominated by a large, dried-up fountain. Rotted cushions litter the floor. More arched doorways lead to the left and curtained doorways lead up into another chamber. A wooden door leads down. The party decides to leave the fountain room for later and follow the hallway down around the sanctuary. Savaric leads the way.

At the end of the hall, the corridor the curves again and ends in a broad staircase leading down with a wooden door beside it. The door opens into a large linen closet with several large cupboards filled with ancient, well-made linens. The closet has another door that corresponds to the wooden door in the lower part of the fountain room. The party takes this shortcut back into the main corridor and checks out the steel door in the hallway.

The door is declared unlocked and free of traps, so Savaric opens it and enters. It appears to be a dressing chamber of some sort, probably for the priests of the temple. There are six large wardrobes in the center of the room, each with sets of well-made (if ancient) vestments inside. There are also dressing tables along the walls. No one, including Brother Thorne, can identify the religion being practiced here.

The final arched doorway opens into a large dining room with two long banquet tables dominating the room. A sideboard is set at one side of the room and fraying rugs are set upon the floor. There are arched doorways to the right of the room.

The party decides to leave the dining room for now and follow the hallway along the other side of the sanctuary wall. Following the corridor, they find that it curves once and ends in a broad staircase leading up.

Now the party decides to return to the dining room and search it more thoroughly. As Surm and Savaric begin to search, Savaric sees a shadow break away from near the sideboard and begin to glide toward Surm. An alarm is called and the party converges on the creature. Though Surm is injured, Rilka manages to dispatch the creature. The room is searched and two sets of silverware are taken from the sideboard.

The arched doorways lead into a spacious kitchen area filled with old utensils and such. A steel door leads off from the top of the room and arched doorways lead off from the right into the fountain room. The party searches the kitchen and the fountain room, finding nothing of interest.

From the fountain room, the party enters the curtained-off room at the top. The curtains break away with age and decay revealing a spacious bedroom with a small bookcase, a bronze bath tub and large bed. The books are fragile and written in an unknown script, though many are illustrated and obviously erotic in nature. A debate ensues as to whether or not it will be worth their while to take them, and it is decided to leave them.

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The party then returns to the kitchen and searches the steel door. No traps are found and the door is unlocked. Inside is a storage room with barrels and broken sacks of old grain and such. Surm and Savaric search the room and find nothing. Mõrvar, on the other hand, is convinced that something is in this room and takes a long time searching it out. At first, he finds nothing. But finally, after much trial and error, he does find a secret door behind the barrels.

Savaric finds no trap on the secret panel and opens it. It opens into a narrow corridor leading back down toward the sanctuary area. He leads the way, looking for traps. Eventually, the corridor leads to a locked steel door. The half-orc checks the door for traps and finds none. Surm steps forward and begins fiddling with the lock. After much trial and error, he eventually trips it and opens the door. At this point, Mõrvar announces to everyone that it is probably nightfall.

The door opens into a long room with a trapdoor in the floor at the end of it. There are three cupboards affixed to the walls. Inside the cupboards are three sets of ancient clothes, three belt pouches with 10 gold, 10 silver, and 10 copper pieces each, and weapons. The coins, of an ancient and unknown mint, are taken from the cupboard. Mõrvar wants to take the ancient weapons, as they may be of worth (two are deemed to be masterworks), but he is persuaded to let them be for now as this may be a good place to hole up.

Savaric checks the trapdoor for traps and finds none. He opens it and looks down and smells a whiff of the sea. He also sees the interior of a cave.

The party decides to camp inside this room. They go back and shut the secret door in the storage room and assign shifts for the night.

24 Illumination 508

After an uneventful night, Savaric goes down the trap door ladder. Surm sends down his dancing lights behind him. The rest of the party follow soon after.

Once down in the cave, the party can see that there is an underground river nearby to the trapdoor ladder. There is a rowboat beached nearby. Behind them is a worked-stone wall and a steel door. The large cavern is supported by natural columns. It is damp and smells lightly of ocean. Mõrvar immediately goes to check out the rowboat.

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As the rest of the party decides what to do next, Brother Thorne calls out to Rilka. Emerging from the camouflage of the gray stone of the cave is a oozy creature who attempts to slam into the female half-orc! As the rest of the party takes up fighting stances and begin to engage, it becomes apparent that the creature’s ooze is acidic and can damage their weapons and armor. Surm identifies the creature as a " gray ooze " and tells everyone that its touch is acidic and that it is immune to fire and cold. It attacks Mõrvar and attempts to encompass him but fails. Rilka changes her weapon, protecting her magical falchion and attacks with her longsword, losing the weapon but finally vanquishing the creature.

The party then decide to check out the door. Savaric checks the door for traps and finds none. Surm picks the lock and trips it. Savaric looks in to find a modest room with a table and chairs with two cupboards and another steel door leading out. Surm and Savaric search the room, finding more ancient clothes and weapons in the cupboards, as well as belt pouches with the 10 gold, 10 silver, and 10 copper denominations. Once again, the half-orc checks the next door for traps and finds none. Surm unlocks the door.

The door opens into a long a corridor. Gazing down, Savaric can see where the corridor continues or one can turn left. A debate ensues as to whether to turn back and go upstairs—the most likely course of action that their predecessors from the journal took—or to continue in these underground chambers. Finally, it is decided to find out where all of these corridors lead before heading back up.

The party decide to take the side corridor leading left. Savaric leads the way looking for traps—and finds one. Surm attempts to disable the trap, but fails—but fortunately does not spring the trap. He tries again—this time springing it. A large axe swings down from the ceiling, narrowly missing the sorcerer. The trap does not reset itself. The party continues down the hall, making their way around the ominous weapon.

Finally, the party comes to a dead end. Surm and Savaric search and Surm finds a secret panel in the wall. No traps are found and the panel is opened. It opens into yet another long corridor leading to the left and to the right. The right corridor ends in a broad staircase leading up. The party decides to leave this for now and return to the previous corridor.

The corridor turns twice, ending in a steel door. Before approaching the steel door, Savaric pauses, sensing the presence of magic. Surm searches the area and, in fact, finds a magical trap, which he then disables, saving his friends the trouble of having the area filled with fire.

Savaric then searches the door for traps and finds none. Surm then approaches and begins to disable the lock on the door when a magical arrow of acid appears and embeds itself in Surm’s chest. The party manages to neutralize further damage with water, but Surm is quite put out with Savaric’s trap-finding ability. Finally, Surm manages to unlock the door and open it.

Inside the room are a variety of objects on stone pedestals:

  1. Bronze sculpture of a warrior woman
  2. Jade sculpture of a cat
  3. Coral sculpture of a dancing girl
  4. Bronze sculptures of two comely courtesans, one male, one female
  5. Painting of a weeping man
  6. Ivory and copper necklace with matching bracelet
  7. Coral necklace with matching earrings
  8. Silver armbands etched with dolphins
  9. Jade and silver brooch
  10. Silver dragon ear cuffs

Surm and Savaric search the room for traps and find none—though they do find a secret panel at the top of the room. Searching the panel for traps, they find one and Surm manages to disable it. They open the panel, revealing a smaller room with 4 bags set upon the floor and another set of pedestals and objects:

  1. Gold wristbands with emerald insets, etched with wyverns
  2. Platinum scepter with gold inlay
  3. Gold armbands etched with griffons
  4. Gold and silver and pearl inlay shadow-caster of woodland animals

The bags are revealed to be filled with more coins, of various denominations, of that strange mint. Mõrvar returns to the first room and appraises the various items on the pedestals. After a brief discussion, the party decides to leave their finds here, as it seems to be a safe room and the traps have been found and disabled.

The party then go back to the stairs and travel back up to find that, as suspected, they are the broad stairs they found beside the linen closet. They then go back down the stairs and follow the final hallway to its conclusion, where it ends in a steel door. Once again, Savaric checks its for traps and Surm unlocks it—eventually, after much trial and error.

The door opens up into a holding chamber with ringed with a series of barred cells. Several of the cells still hold the skeletons of humans. Savaric and Surm search out the room, finding nothing but a cabinet filled with old torture implements. Brother Thorne says a prayer over the souls of the fallen prisoners while Rilka insists on Surm unlocking the cells with remains in them to search them out. Mõrvar wants to use his acid splash on the lock to unlock them. Finally, the party decides to give it up and head to the next level of the pyramid. . .

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Session Twenty-Three
Beset by Shadows

21 Illumination 508 (10:00 am)

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After establishing their base camp on the Isle of Salvi, the party begins to fight the terrain of the forest and head toward the ruined city. The forest is eerily quiet—no creature sounds save those made by the party. After trudging about eight miles through the forest, several of the party notice a figure in the brush staring at Surm. Then, the hideous form rises up, its head comprised completely of a maw of teeth surrounding a single eye and attacks! After a hard fight, Savaric finishes the creature off.

Surm and Mõrvar identify the creature as a Div, an Aghash to be specific. The creature is from another plane of existence and is the embodiment of the “evil eye”; it also has a special hatred for the beautiful people of the world, wishing to curse them in heinous ways. After a brief discussion of what to do next, they decide to hack their way back to their base camp, making a trail. Mõrvar helps by splashing sorcerous acid along the way. They leave the Aghash’s body behind and hack their way back toward the camp, lighting their way with Surm’s ioun torch as the sun sinks behind the horizon.

As they hack through the heavy growth, Mõrvar, Savaric, and Surm notice a shadowy limb move away from the trees toward Rilka. A fight with the incorporeal shadow creature ensues, leaving Rilka weakened, her strength sapped by the cold touch of the creature, but Mõrvar eventually slays the creature. The party continues to hack their way to base camp.

When they finally arrive at the camp later that night, they build a fire to keep the shadows at bay and establish guard shifts. After a long day of battle and little progress, they settle in for a night of rest.

Savaric and Surm are awakened by the shouts of Brother Thorne shouting about the “Light of Halor cleansing the darkened corners of this realm!” Savaric leaves his tent to see what the trouble is and Surm wakes his brother, Mõrvar as he goes to do the same. The priest is facing another one of the shadow creatures. Another fight ensues and the creature is finally dispatched.

The party decides to build more fires to spread the light around so as not to be caught unawares by the dark creatures. Rilka is also awakened and alerted to the danger.

The party is awakened again during Savaric’s shift, as he is accosted by one of the shadow creatures. This one shrug’s off Brother Thorne’s initial attempt to burn it with Halor’s light. Mõrvar eventually strikes it a killing blow.

Fortunately, the rest of the night passes without incident.

22 Illumination 508

The next morning, the party packs up some of their gear, leaves some of it in their tents, attempting to anticipate what will be needed in the journey ahead. They then start heading down the trail that they have carved into the forest. After heading the eight miles down the carved trail, they begin hacking again through the overgrowth. A couple of hours into the trailblazing, another shadow creature makes an appearance. A fight begins and this time Surm dissipates the creature. The party makes it another eight miles or so through the forest as the sun begins to sink behind the horizon.

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Finally, they see a pair of strange obelisks marking the entrance to the city. A wide avenue stands before them. The obelisks are marked in a language that is unfamiliar to all of them, including the priest. As the sun is rapidly setting, they party decides to find shelter quickly. They duck inside a nearby home and search it out quickly. Finding little of interest and nothing dangerous, they decide to hole up in the living room. The party establishes a series of guard shifts and decides to rest for the night.

During her shift, Rilka is attacked by a strange dog-like creature with hand-like paws that blinks in and out of existence. The creature speaks, swearing vengeance on those that strikes it. Savaric finally strikes it down and decapitates it. The rest of the night passes quietly. . .

23 Illumination 508

The party emerge from their makeshift camp into the city and begin making their way down the avenue toward the main pyramid. Along the way, they encounter a long-dried fountain flanked with a pair of dead trees. From the shade of the trees emerges a shadow creature that is quickly dispatched.

Approaching the pyramid from the north wall, there is no entrance. There are elaborate wall carvings depicting demonic figures devouring sacrifices being offered by men and women in elaborate headdresses. The party follows the wall to the east and eventually to the south before finding a set of open double doors leading inside.

The double doors open up into a smallish room dominated by a demonic statue with outstretched cupped hands that form a font for anointing oil or water. The red and gold paint is faded with time. Long abandoned wall sconces dot the walls. Hallways branch out to the left and right of the room. . .

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Session Twenty-Two
Wheeling and Dealing

15 Illumination 508 (10:00 am)

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The line of folks waiting to pass through the gates at Jenna is quite substantial as it is Market Day. Wagons laden with wares to be sold crowd the road and horses jostle pedestrians who await their turn to pay the gate taxes. Finally, after waiting a couple of hours in line, the group make their way through the gates, pay their way, and arrive inside the city.

Saren leads them through the city toward his sister livery station where they will drop off the rental horses. Rilka asks if he has any suggestions for inns and he points out that they are passing the Whistling Hunter as they go through the eastside of the city and that the Dusty Cartwright is in the market district, near the livery stable. Rilka thanks him for the information. Finally they arrive at the stable and the party collects their gear and thanks Saren for his services. They then decide to haul their gear to the nearby Dusty Cartwright for rooms. Mõrvar and the half-orcs throw intimidating glares at people who cross their path as they haul their many belongings across the busy streets.

At the Dusty Cartwright, they discover that the inn only has two rooms available—it being Market Day, accommodations are scarce. The group decides to take the rooms and double up. The innkeep will provide cots for the extra person in each room. Once everyone settles into their rooms, they decide to meet together in one room to discuss their next plan of action—namely, what goods will be sold at market.

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After the discussion, the group heads out into the market place to begin selling their wares. Surm asks the innkeep if he knows of any vendors of exotic ivory or gemstones and he replies that they are in luck, with it being Market Day and all, such a vendor is in town and not far from the inn. The innkeep gives them a couple a names and sends them on their way.

At the ivory dealer, Surm tries to talk up the price of the Slurk tusks that they had collected in the mountains, but the dealer would only give them their market value. They next make their way to a dealer in clockwork devices to sell off some excess mechanical gears, a key, and a music box they found. Then they make their way to the gemologist to receive coin for some gemstones that they had acquired. The gemologist is fair dealer and gives them what they had appraised the stones for.

By this point the sun has begun to set, but vendors have begun to put out torches and continue to do business into the night. The group now make their way to Scribner’s Hill and begin to inquire of its citizens about who to see about curse removal—the concern is the hat that seems to have permanently attached itself to Rilka’s head. They are given the name of Brunhild Corth a wizard who is associated with the University. In fact, she has rooms near that institution where she can be found.

They follow the directions that they are given and arrive at a narrow building in a crowded neighborhood. Surm knocks and the door is answered by a slightly disheveled woman in robes with spectacles worn at the end of her nose. “Yes?” she asks. “Can I help you?” Surm explains that they are there because they were told that she could remove curses. The woman avows that she has performed that spell from time to time and invites them inside to discuss it.

Inside her home they see that it is cluttered with papers and books but also contains a large perch on which sits a formidable hawk which watches them as they enter. She sits them down and they further explain that the curse appears to be on the hat that Rilka is wearing. “Ah,” Corth says. “I will be able to remove the curse enough to remove the hat, but not permanently. Do not place the hat on your head again once it is removed,” she explains. She also states that she will need to review the spell as she has not cast it for a while and will be available in the morning. So the group says that they will return then to actually have the curse removed. For the service, Brunhild will charge 280 gold pieces—upon delivery of the service, of course.

Before leaving, Surm asks for recommendations for purveyors of magical wares. Brunhild recommends a Danu Berstrom for magical potions and trinkets and a Aethel Troos for magical arms and armor. Both are colleagues of hers and fair dealers. She gives them directions to their shops in the market district and bids them good luck.

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Walking along the well-lit streets of the market district, the group make their way to the shop of Danu Berstrom. First they ask to sell off some of their more magical wares, namely a scroll in their possession. Danu offers to see them in his office, if they leave their weapons with his associate. The group agrees and leaves their formidable armory with the associate. It turns out that the scroll is of flaming sphere. But, Danu gives them a fair price and a deal is struck. They inquire after items that can improve attributes or offer protection. Danu says that he has nothing that can help in that regard, but he can help on the front of protection. He has rings that offer protection of various degrees. He also has a brooch that can offer protection specifically from magical missiles if that is a concern. After hearing the prices for such trinkets, the group decides to wait and see what sort of armors the group can afford with their newfound wealth. They bid Danu goodnight and say that they may return.

They then head to the shop of Aethel Troos to see what sort of weapons and armor she has to offer. Rilka inquires after a falchion and, as luck would have it, she does have a magical falchion (+ 1) that glows with the light of torch. They also inquire after armor that reduces the arcane failure chances for those that cast magical spells. The best that Troos can offer is mithral armor, that is more lightweight than regular armor and thus offers a reduction in that regard. She has a magical mithral chain shirt and regular mithral chain shirt to offer. Savaric inquires after a magical composite longbow. She does have one in stock that he can purchase. In the end, the group purchases all of these items.

The group then returns to Danu Berstrom’s shop where they pay him to identify some of the potions that they have acquired, as well as a wand. The wand Is wand of cure light wounds, though it has been heavily used—many of the charges have been used. The potions are of mirror image and true strike. The group decides to keep all of these items and not sell them to the dealer. They ask Danu for advice as to acquiring something to raise attributes and he suggests talking to a sage.

At this point the group decides to return to the Dusty Cartwright for a meal and to turn in for the evening.

16 Illumination 508

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First thing in the morning, the group returns to the home of Brunhild Corth to get Rilka’s hat removed. Brunhild lets the group in bright and early in the morning and sets Rilka down on a stool and gets to work. She waves her hands over the half-orc’s head and says a few words and reaches down and lifts the hat off of her head. Happy to have the cursed item off, the group pays the wizard. Surm inquires about sages in the area and Brunhild puts them onto the path of Cuthmund Weldwyn. He has an office on Scribner’s Hill.

The group heads to the office of Cuthmund Weldwyn. They find his shop high on the hill, near the University grounds. They open the door and a bell rings revealing a cluttered office and a young woman working at a desk. She looks up, distracted, and welcomes them. Surm asks if she is Cuthmund Weldwyn and she says that she is not. Surm states that they have been sent by Brunhild Corth to see him. The young woman says that she will announce them. She then heads to a back office for a few moments and then returns and says that Master Weldwyn will see them.

Cuthmund Weldwyn is an older man with long hair and large sideburns. He welcomes the group into his cluttered office warmly and bids them welcome. He does mention that is not often that he has those of the " Urkhani persuasion " in his office, indicating Rilka and Savaric. Rilka responds that it is not often that they meet with scribes—meaning sages, but accidentally insulting the man with the wrong title. Surm acts quickly to try and recover the situation and get to the point of their visit. He explains that they are looking for some magical means to increase strength, and perhaps find hordes of treasure along with it. Weldwyn seems to catch his meaning and says that he can perform these researches for the fee of 15 gold pieces per day. He will, of course, attempt to be expeditious in his endeavors. If they are staying here in the city, he can send word to them when he finds something of interest. A deal is struck and introductions are made all around.

As the group is leaving, they decide to look for something to occupy their time while they wait for the sage to find their information. They ask about and discover that there a couple of bounties being sought for local bandits to be brought to the authorities alive. One is being sought for 30 gold pieces, the other for 50. Names and descriptions are provided. They also discover that a local farmer named Fenrik that is seeking help with a beast that is slaughtering his livestock. They decide to pursue this option.

The group is dressed in their “Captain Rilka” uniforms (as their other clothes are currently being laundered), so they go with this persona. As they approach the land to which their information led them, they see a group of farmers gathered around something in a field near the edge of the forest. Surm begins calling out “Make way for Captain Rilka! Make way!” This gets everyone’s attention and a path is cleared, revealing the torn remains of a draft horse.

As Savaric begins to assess the area for tracks, Rilka begins asking questions about the attacks. Apparently over the past five nights livestock have been attacked out in the fields. Fenrik hasn’t been able to figure out what’s doing it so he’s sought help. Whatever it is it’s large. Savaric confirms this with the size of the tracks, though he can’t discern too much else. He can, however, pick up a trail that leads into the forest. Also, whatever this is it has torn apart the horse with tooth and claw and has eaten the meat. Surm declares that Captain Rilka and her crew will hunt this creature down, much to the delight of Farmer Fenrik.

Savaric follows the tracks through the woods to a moss-covered hill with a large cleft cracking its outer face. The half-orc has now determined that the tracks are definitely canine and large and a quadruped—the assumption is that this is probably a dire wolf. The group pauses before approaching the cave to form a plan. They decide that Savaric and Surm will sneak into the cave and try to take the beast unawares. Rilka and Mõrvar will wait just outside the cleft, on either side of the opening, ready to strike in case the creature comes out.

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Savaric and Surm approach quietly through the cleft in the hill’s face. Surm stops once he runs out of light but the half-orc continues on into the darkness, aided by his darkvision. Both can hear the soft snores of some creature sleeping soundly. Savaric can see a large wolf, its head propped up on its paws, snoring soundly. The half-orc draws his longsword quietly and approaches, careful not to wake the great beast. Closer and closer. Quietly, he takes a deep breath and plunges his blade deep into helpless creature, over and again, killing it. Announcing that its safe, he then begins the work of taking the creature’s pelt and teeth.

“Make way for Captain Rilka!” Surm cries as the group returns to the group of farmers who are still congregating around the horse carcass. “What’s this?” Farmer Fenrik says as Savaric presents him with the pelt and teeth from the dire wolf. And then Surm then entertains the farmers with the story of the how they encountered a much more lively dire wolf and vanquished it. The farmers are enraptured by the story and by the pelt that comes with it. Fenrik says that he doesn’t have much in the way of gold to repay them for their service. Surm assures him that it is not necessary, that someday Captain Rilka may call upon him for a favor one day and that will be repayment enough, to remember the story of the red-eyed dire wolf. The farmer then bids them all farewell and “may the gods smile upon you!”

The group then returns to the city and pick up their laundry and return to the Dusty Cartwright. There they recount to all who will listen the story of the dire wolf. Mõrvar also finds companionship in the form of a young woman named Seela, who seems very impressed with the group as a whole and Mõrvar in particular.

17 Illumination 508

The next finds the group hanging out at the Dusty Cartwright for a while. Seela joins them, much to Mõrvar’s delight and Surm’s consternation. He worries that Seela is not only diseased but also after their money. However, as far as he can tell, she only seems impressed with the group and taken with his brother. Unknown to Surm, Mõrvar has asked Seela to find a friend to accompany his brother, perhaps loosen him up a bit. Seela responds that she’ll see what she can do. After a while, the group decide to leave the inn’s common room for a while and look for something else to do.

At Rilka’s request, they look into finding a shrine to Bruni. Unfortunately, none can be found—most people respond that they don’t even know who that Northron deity is. Savaric decides that he wants to fight, so Surm decides to accommodate him by looking for some sort of underground fighting ring. He asks about and finds out that one exists in a dive bar on the west side of town called Graywolf’s. He’s to ask for someone named Rollgut when he gets there.

Graywolf’s lives up to its reputation as a dive. All manner of scum are sharing drinks here. The place looks rowdy and dirty. The barkeep polishes mugs with a dirty cloth. They ask about a “Rollgut” and the barkeep indicates a half-orc sitting in the back corner of the room. The group approaches. “What do you want?” he says.

Surm says that his boy here (indicating Savaric) is looking for a fight and that he heard this is place for it. Rollgut asks the other half-orc if he’s ever been in a fight. Savaric nods. Bare-knuckled? Savaric nods again. Seemingly satisfied, Rollgut offers to lead them downstairs, apparently where the fighting takes place.

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Down in the basement, there is a gathering around a fight in progress. A makeshift booth has been erected to take bets. Rollgut leaves the group and gets into a discussion with another man, apparently about Savaric. He returns and says that the kid can fight and, as he’s a newcomer, he’s got 3 to 1 odds. He’ll be fighting that man—the half-orc points out a large man who is stretching In a corner of the basement. From the size of him, he could be a Northron.

While Surm and Mõrvar place bets at the booth, Rollgut explains to Savaric that no armor or weapons or magic is allowed in the fight. Savaric says he understands. The others return and help strip Savaric of his armor and weapons—and Surm surreptitiously casts a mage armor spell on him in the confusion. Meanwhile, the other fight ends and Savaric and the other man—who is apparently named Wulfgar—are lead to the fight area.

The fight is announced by a halfling with an amazingly full-voice. As soon as he exits the ring, the fight is on. The two exchange a series a hard punches and near-misses—even with the mage armor, it appears that the two are well-matched. However, then Savaric deals a crushing blow that leaves the other man reeling on his feet, staggered. It’s apparent some real damage has been done. Surm calls out for Savaric to back off and he does. Wulfgar puts up his hands in surrender and the halfling comes forward yelling “Wulfgar has forfeited! Wulfgar has forfeited!” A companion of the big man comes forward and pulls him away from the ring. Savaric’s companion’s go to join see if they can help—except for Mõrvar, who goes to collect their winnings.

Surm offers to assess the damage done to the man, as he has skills in healing. Wulfgar’s companion lets him. He has suffered internal bleeding but it appears to have stabilized. He has also, obviously, been pummeled pretty well. He offers his “Northern brother” a potion to help with the healing—Wulfgar takes it. Its helps with the pummeling damage but not with the internal bleeding (that would take a lesser restoration). Surm tells him that they are at the Dusty Cartwright if they want to look them up for a drink. They do not get to see many of their northern brethren these days. It turns out that Wulfgar is one of the Ros tribesmen of that region. Wulfgar reaches up and shakes hands with Savaric. Before they go, he notes Rilka’s symbol of Bruni and says that he is an “honorable god”, though he is not a worshipper.

The group take their winnings and head back to the Dusty Cartwright. There Seela is waiting for them with a friend—Kaydra, whom she introduces specifically to Surm. Rilka buys a bottle of good wine and Surm decides to go to bed. Kaydra is decidedly put out, but Mõrvar manages to entertain both women through the evening, ending the night once again in Seela’s bed.

18 Illumination 508

The following morning, Cuthmund Weldwyn’s assistant is awaiting them in the common room of the Dusty Cartwright. “Master Weldwyn has some information that may be of interest to you.” The party all accompany her back to Scribner’s Hill. There they are met by the sage who greets them warmly, but gets right to business.

He has found some journal fragments from an Eacenian cleric of Ithya, Cwenwyth Coulstan. She traveled with a band of explorers who had traveled to the Isle of Salvi to map the ruined city there. Coulstan was the sole survivor of the expedition and her journal fragment from a hundred years ago is the only remaining relic. The expedition was made up of two warriors, Aine and Fenalla Morren, sisters from Leilior; Caldriel Woodspring, an Elven scout; Matyas of Otori, a Kuskar Wizard; and Cwenwyth.

According to the journal fragment, Aine bore a belt that granted her “great strength, belying a woman of her size.” Also of interest:

  • Fenalla is described as wielding a sword named Edgefrost that “bathed itself in ice."
  • Caldriel bore a suit of chainmail that he claimed belonged to once to a celestial.
  • Matyas is described as bearing a ring that allowed him to slip away from conflicts when the need arose. This ring is also described, interestingly, as being a “companion” to Matyas.

The expedition met its end exploring a tower in the ruined city of Salvi. Cwenwyth escaped and made her way back to Eacenia and retired from adventuring, according to the library’s records. She had barely made it out of the city with her life, much less with the intact journal. According to the record—she wanted to remember her friends but forget their violent ends.

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The sage also provides a copy of the actual journal fragments in question, detailing some of what the group encountered in the haunted city. Based on the findings of the journal, which described shadowy forms that sucked the life force and vitality from its victims, the party decided it would be in its best interest to find a priest to accompany them on the expedition. They decide to approach a priest of Halor, Lord Sun, for this particular journey.

From Master Weldwyn’s office they head across the city to the religious district to approach a priest of Halor with their offer. The temple to Halor is an open air affair with a large obelisk that acts as a sundial. Priests in red robes, trimmed in white, roam the area, speaking with worshippers and counseling those that seeking the god’s healing light. The party approach one such priest and ask to see if there is a priest among their number that quests. As a matter of fact, there is one, Brother Thorne, who has just recently returned from such an outing. Brother Thorne is pointed out to them and the party approaches him. After confirming his identity and that he does, in fact, conduct quests on behalf of the church, he offers to speak with them away from the temple. He takes them to a small office area away from the main shrine.

Surm describes the gist of the quest and the terms—a share of the treasure outside of the four main magical items. They essentially want a priest to help protect them while they are treasure hunting. The city is probably too big to eradicate all of the “evil” within, but this they can, perhaps, do. Brother Thorne is in. Introductions are made all around. They will be leaving within the next couple of days, so provisions will need to be bought soon. Brother Thorne will do so.

The party leaves the temple to go buy their own provisions in the marketplace. Afterwards, they then head to the harbor and meet with the harbormaster to find a ship that is slated to go to Tipoli, the nearest port city to Salvi. The Blackmore Lady puts out the next day. The group then heads out to meet with the captain of the ship to negotiate the price of passage. They find the ship, meet with Captain Danwulf Heldane, and make the arrangements. They also make clear that there is a fifth member of their party who will be meeting them tomorrow. So long as they pay, Captain Heldane has no issues.

The group then heads back to the temple of Halor to find Brother Thorne to tell him that they will be leaving in the morning. He seems surprised but says that he can make those preparations. He will meet them at The Blackmore Lady in the morning.

They then return to the Dusty Cartwright. There, once again, Seela is waiting for them. That night Mõrvar tells her that they are going on a quest and they will be leaving in the morning and that he hopes to see her again when they pass through Jenna again.

19 Illumination 508

The next morning, Mõrvar says goodbye to Seela. Then everyone hauls all of their belongings out to the docks to meet The Blackmore Lady. Sure enough, Brother Thorne meets them at the docks in front of the ship. The group boards the ship and the priest pays his way. Soon after, the ship sets out from the harbor toward Tipoli.

The day’s journey is largely uneventful, though it seems particularly hard on Surm, who spends most of the day feeling ill and fatigued.

20 Illumination 508

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On this day Surm is feeling much better and seeks an audience with the captain. He wants to know if the captain knows of any who would be willing to sail directly them to Salvi. Captain Heldane says he doesn’t know too many mad enough to travel to a haunted island. But that he might be willing to, if the price is right. The two enter into negotiation and arrive at a deal. For fifty additional gold pieces, the Captain will put off at a reasonable distance from the island and have the first mate row the party out to the island where they will make a base camp. After ten days, the ship will come back. If there is no signal fire, the ship will come back in another ten days. If there is still no signal fire, then the Captain can assume the party isn’t coming back. But if there is a signal fire, the Captain will send the first mate out again with the dinghy to fetch them. The group also purchases 10 more days of rations from the ship’s stores for Brother Thorne.

21 Illumination 508

About ten in the morning, land is spotted and a hush falls over the crew. The Captain tells the group that the first mate is ready. Everyone gathers their gear and gets lowered into the dinghy and into the water.

The island is eerily quiet. So is the first mate. She rows silently toward the island. No sound is made but the oars through the water. Finally, landfall is made on a wide beach and base camp is made. The first mate wishes them luck and crawls back into the dinghy and begins rowing back toward The Blackmore Lady. Soon, the party is alone on the island.

Or are they?

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Rage and Raven: A Risky Business
Summary

4 Awakening 508

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That morning, at the Dragon’s Flagon in Kalimsport, Alun and Kerra Lanyon bid Lenoria and Rhain Ortha good journey, as they decide to move on and look for work separately. Rhain takes some offense, but not too much, and then he and Lenoria make their way to the marketplace to shop and to look for work. In the course of exploring the southern marketplace, Lenoria hears about a Talyk Skewes, a businessman who holds court in main market district in an exotic rug shop, who is looking for “talent”. As this seems to be their best prospect outside of manual labor, the two decide to cross the city and explore the option.

It’s noontime by the time the two cross the city to the main market district. Skewes’ rug shop is near The Enchanted Staff, the inn that Rhain had been thrown out of previously, so they have a landmark with which to find the place. The shop itself is large, though not ostentatious. Outside are few of the shop’s wares on display as well as a boy, about thirteen, hawking the wares of the shop. He cries out about the exotic rugs from Sianae, Tarsas, and Kuskar. Rhain approaches the boy and asks if he is Talyk Skewes.

“Oh no, I’m not Master Skewes.”

“Well, we’re here to see Talyk Skewes.”

“You’ll need to go inside, then.”

So the two head inside the shop, where there are more rugs on racks and on the walls. They are met by an unctuous man in fine clothes who asks if may be of assistance. Rhain once again asks for Talyk Skewes.

“And what may I say this is regarding?” asks the salesman.

“We heard that he is looking for talent.”

“Very good then. Wait here.”

After a short wait, Rhain and Lenoria are led into a small office made smaller by the crowd of men inside.

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They are met by a round man, bald in fine clothes with a slightly oily disposition. He takes each of their hands and introduces himself as Talyk Skewes. A large desk dominates the background that is flanked by two armed guards in fine, loose-fitting clothes that Rhain notes probably cover armor. Sitting beside the desk is a small, nervous-looking man facing the two newcomers. Rhain and Lenoria introduce themselves to Skewes and then Rhain steps forward and introduces himself to the seated man after he is not included in the introductions. The seated man is taken aback but indicates that his name is Ervyn Grybbin.

Rhain and Lenoria take their seats. Skewes takes his seat behind his desk and begins without much preamble.

“You’ll have to forgive some circumspection on my part. I have many rivals in my business ventures and I wish the details of this venture to remain vague unless we come to terms.”

“Rivals in the rug business?” Rhain asks.

“Ah, my other business ventures. I have many fingers, many pies. Rugs are just one of them. At any rate, I beg your pardon. Master Grybbin here is one of my agents. I will be sending him to conduct some business for me to a certain city. He will conduct said business transaction, then return to me. I wish him to travel in safety to said city, conduct his business successfully, and return to me safely. That is the nature of the job I propose. Safeguarding Master Grybbin as he conducts my business.”

“Bodyguards, then?” Rhain asks.

“Essentially, yes.”

“How much are we paid?”

“Ah, bluntness. I like that.”

“Seems the most relevant question. . .”

“Twenty-five gold up front. Twenty-five gold upon Master Grybbin’s safe return. I have arranged for the travel expenses for Master Grybbyn and his escort. I estimate that it will be not a bad payment for three days work.”

“Three days?” Lenoria asks. “Will be traveling overland or by ship? What about the stabling of our horses? Does that count as travel expenses?”

“These are details, my dear. We have not come to terms, yet,” Skewes replies, smiling. " What sort of skills do you bring to me? I can tell that you, dear lady, are Sianaean and, unless I miss my guess, an adherent of Imtiau. But you, " he says, pointing to Rhain, “I can see are a Northman but I know not what skills you may possess.”

“My axe. Daggers. My fists. But mostly my axe.”

Skewes nods. “Very good, then. Fine skills for a bodyguard. So, do the terms of the job seem amenable to you?”

Both Rhain and Lenoria nod in agreement.

“Very good. Your skills seem to be in accordance with my needs. We have come to terms.” Handshakes are shared all around.

“Now,” Skewes says, a frown creasing his round face. " I must bring a bit of unpleasantness to our friendly gathering. In completing this task for me, I consider us all to be friendly. But this must be said. Master Grybbin will be carrying a sum of funds upon his person in order to complete his duties. Should you, my friends, decide the allure of this sum to be too much and decide to take it and betray these friendly feelings we have nurtured. Well, let’s just say that I have many connections throughout Tarsas, Sianae, Ornis, Kuskar, and other lands and that it will be difficult to find future work of any nature. I hate to bring this up, but, again, I feel it must be said. But enough of that.

Master Grybbin will be setting sail on The Remedy tomorrow morning for the city of Jirra. You may find him at the docks on the morrow. The journey to Jirra should take most of the day tomorrow. He will be attending an auction in which he will be acquiring an object for me, a magical orcish holy symbol. Once he completes his task, he will re-board The Remedy and return to Kalimsport. I do not anticipate any hiccups on the journey, but as I said, I have many rivals that would love to see me fail in whatever business transaction I attempt. "

“This ship, The Remedy, is it your ship?” Rhain asks.

“It is not my ship but it is a ship I’ve employed many times. The crew and captain are trustworthy. But they will be taking on other passengers.”

“What about stabling for our horses?” Lenoria asks. She attempts to make the case for that being part of the travel expenses for the trip. However, Skewes dismisses her argument. “Stabling your beasts is your own affair. However, I do know a man who will treat you fairly.” He gives her the name of a hostelry that he recommends.

At that, Rhain and Lenoria rise to leave with a promise to meet Grybbin on the docks at the The Remedy in the morning.

Next the two fetch their horses and belongings from the Dragon’s Flagon and meet with the hostler that Skewes recommended. The man, Corwyn, was more than happy to accommodate the duo’s horses, even going to far to accept payment for one week with a promise to refund the difference should the two return sooner. The hostler even agrees to hold the belongings that are in the saddlebags. Then the two decide to take up residence at an inn closer to the docks. They pick The Shattered Club, a meaner inn than the Dragon’s Flagon, but clean enough for their purposes.

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At The Shattered Club, they see more of a racial mix than at the other inns they’ve stayed at. There are half-orcs, dwarves, half-elves, and humans in here. Many are obviously sailors and rough folk. The common room is loud and rowdy. A barely-passable bard plays on a corner stage while the sailors dice, laugh uproariously, drink, sing, and employ the trade of both men and women of the night. Rhain and Lenoria order the fish stew and some ale and take a table in the common room.

As the two enjoy their dinner and discuss their new employment, an altercation breaks out across the room. A dwarf and a half-orc call out drunken insults to each other. As the crowd eggs the on, the insults become less and less funny and more and more bellicose, the dwarf has finally had enough. He hurls his wooden tankard and beans the half-orc upon his head. This appears to be the unwritten signal for a general melee as fights suddenly spring up all around the common room. The innkeep, an older red-haired wench, takes up a large club from behind the bar and begins clouting those that get too close. Lenoria and Rhain sit in idle wonderment at the violence that has erupted around them.

The door to the kitchen springs open and out comes a heavy-set man wearing a dirty apron. “Gods be damned! Not again!” he roars and wades into the melee, men and dwarves and half-orcs bouncing off his thick gut and fists as he tries, unsuccessfully, to break up the fighting. A man falls into Lenoria’s lap and is pulled away by another who punches him in the face. Rhain manages to dodge a falling man who careens toward their table. So far, neither have been pulled into the fight.

Lenoria looks across the room to the bard, who cowers further into the corner, protecting his instrument. Rhain debates trying to make his way to the stairs and up to their room, but decides its too far. Instead, both of them decide to make their way to the bar where the innkeep is racking up an impressive tally. After narrowly dodging another combatant, the duo make their way to the innkeep. “Are you still serving?” Lenoria asks. The innkeep looks at her incredulously as she beans another drunken brawler. The cleric gives her a silver and the innkeep serves them up two mugs of ale.

The two watch the fight for a few moments from the bar. It’s starting to die down a bit as some of the more drunken of the fighters pass out. Rhain jumps up on the bar. “Is anyone here from The Remedy?” He receives no response. “Oh well. I guess I don’t have a side,” he laments as he continues to watch the fight from the bar. Finally, the brawl dies down to nothing, with the remaining combatants giving up and Laris, the cook, stomping into the kitchen after giving Lenoria a curious stare after she makes some comments about the fight. The innkeep lets them know that Laris is going to charge those that pass out in the common room for sleeping there, as well as for the broken furniture and such. He doesn’t hope to get much out of the sailors—as they tend to disappear on their next trips—but he gets what he can the next day. Rhain and Lenoria then make their way to their rooms for the night.

5 Awakening 508

The next morning finds Rhain and Lenoria on the docks looking for The Remedy. They find ship along with Ervyn Grybbin waiting for them. He is waiting with a leather satchel with an elaborate inset lock and another bag. After an awkward greeting, Ervyn pays them their 25 gp due to them as the first part of their payment. Rhain and Lenoria then fall into line surrounding him and the merchant’s agent then calls up to the ship, announcing himself and that he has business with the captain. A half-elf peers over the ship’s deck and lowers a plank to allow them aboard.

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Once on board, they all can see that other passengers have arrived as well. One is an attractive woman with reddish-brown hair and a mole on her cheek. Another is a paunchy, well-dressed man with sideburns and a mustache. Another is a weather-worn man in his thirties with a longsword and leather armor and traveling clothes. Another is a blonde, matronly woman in fine clothes. As for the crew, they seem to be a hard-working efficient lot. Mostly human, but with a few half-elves and even a halfling among them.

The three are approached by a straight-backed woman accompanied by a barrel-shaped man. The woman introduces herself as Captain Tamsyn Yew and the man as her First Mate Branek Venton. “I’m given to understand from Master Skewes that you have security concerns you wish to discuss. Come to my cabin.” So the three follow Captain Yew and Master Venton to her cabin.

All settle into the cabin and the Captain gets down to business. “I understand you have a parcel that you wish to keep safe. And that these two must be your personal security. Is that correct?”

Grybbin simply nods.

“If you wish, I can keep the parcel in my care for the duration of the voyage.”

“That will be amenable, Captain.” As Grybbin passes the satchel over to the Captain, he adds. “I would not suggest anyone tamper with that lock, by the way.” This solicits a raised eyebrow and nothing more from Captain Yew.

With their business concluded, the three leave the Captain’s quarters and Grybbin says he’d like to go up on deck to see the ship pull out of the harbor. Lenoria takes the lead and Rhain follows Grybbin.

The rest of the passengers, with the exception of the weather-worn traveler, seem to have had the same idea as Grybbin. All are leaning against the guardrail and watching as the ship pulls away from the great harbor of Kalimsport, greatest port in the known world.

While Lenoria stays with Ervyn Grybbin, Rhain decides to chat up the attractive red-haired woman, who introduces herself as Meliora. The two share a few awkward words, where the woman reveals that she is visiting family in Jirra. Little more is said and Rhain makes his way back to the others. As the ship breaks away from the harbor into the open sea, the heavy-set fellow attempts to introduce himself to Grybbin, but Rhain inserts himself between the two. The man indicates that his name is Caswyn Pynwarden and that he is a man of business. He apparently owns an alchemist’s shop in Jirra and had been conducting business in Kalimsport, establishing connections with herbalists and such. The conversation is brief and decidedly awkward, as Caswyn attempts to talk around Rhain’s bulk. Eventually, Grybbin, Rhain, and Lenoria head down into the galley.

Rhain and Lenoria encourage Ervyn Grybbin to take the lead in conversations if he wishes, otherwise, they, as the bodyguards, are going to steer him away from people as potential threats. Grybbin says that he will try, revealing that he is relatively new to his position, though Skewes is trusting him more and more with new jobs. This will be the first auction he has actively participated in, though he is familiar with the process.

The weather-worn traveler comes down into the galley and gets a snack and props himself into a seat and begins to doze.

The blonde matronly woman comes downstairs and seats herself at the table. She addresses herself to Grybbin. " You work for that Talyk Skewes, don’t you? "

Grybbin asserts that he does.

“My name is Angelet Rosewall. I’m a weaver. I’ve been trying to get my designs into that rug market he’s cornered.”

Grybbin nods. “It is a tough market to enter these days. The competition is fierce.”

“Indeed,” Angelet says and leaves the galley in a huff.

Soon, Meliora comes down and grabs a bite to eat. She joins them quietly at the table where Rhain attempts awkward small talk once again, and then she leaves. Finally, Grybbin grows tired of staying in the galley and wants to go up on deck. “Let’s get some fresh air,” he says.

Once up on deck, Lenoria notices that Meliora is missing. While Rhain waits with Grybbin, Lenoria does a quick sweep of the deck. No Meliora. She then goes down and listens behind the door to Captain’s quarters. No noises there. She then goes down to the cargo hold.

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First Lenoria casts light upon her holy symbol and begins to search out the hold. As she begins to search, she hears the noise of movement. Suddenly she cries out in pain as blade penetrates her back! Lenoria turns and faces a petite short-haired blond woman wielding a short sword. The cleric yells “Assassin!” as she begins to engage her. However, the assassin proves to be too skilled and cuts Lenoria down.

Meanwhile, Rhain hears Lenoria‘s shout from below decks and grabs Grybbin, heading down into the hold. Once he gets into the hold, he sees Lenoria’s inert form bathed in light and blood. Going to investigate, he sees a shadow move. He strikes swiftly, attacking half-blindly with his axe, surprising his target. He grinds the assassin down with his axe, her body slumping into the light.

Rhain calls up for help, for the ship’s doctor. Some armed sailors come down to check out the shouting and say that they’ll get the Captain. Rhain curses them, says he needs the doctor, not the Captain. While the sailors go to fetch the officers, Rhain takes the opportunity to check and take the assassin’s belt pouch. It contains a vial, a supply of gold coins, and a set of tools. These he pockets. Soon the Captain and First Mate arrive, demanding an explanation of the situation. Rhain tells them what happened. The First Mate is apparently skilled at healing and goes to stabilize Lenoria’s wounds. He then assesses the assassin—she is alive, but barely. The assassin is then divested of her weapons and armor and taken to the bilge where she will be secured and guarded.

Rhain then asks if there is a place where Lenoria can be placed to rest. The Captain offers her quarters. He then asks for Caswyn Pynwarden to be sent there as soon as possible. Soon Rhain, Caswyn, and Grybbin all meet in the Captain’s quarters with Lenoria’s unconscious form resting on the bed. Rhain asks Caswyn to confirm that he is an alchemist and Caswyn corrects him that he owns an alchemist’s shop. He knows a thing or two about alchemy, but he has a staff that knows more. Rhain wants to know if he has something that can help Lenoria. Caswyn avows that he may have something in his cargo that may help. He seems a bit reluctant to fetch it until Grybbin assures him that he will be compensated for his trouble. He then goes to see what he can find.

While Caswyn looks for something to help Lenoria, Rhain gives Grybbin the vial he found on the assassin and asks if he knows what it is. Grybbin says that it must be a potion of some sort but knows nothing more. This seems to frustrate Rhain, but Grybbin says that potions are not his line. Soon Caswyn returns with a potion that he administers to Lenoria that revives her and mostly heals her wounds. Rhain has Caswyn appraise the assassin’s vial and he asserts that, while he can’t analyze it without equipment, he thinks that it is similar to what he just gave Lenoria. Grybbin pays the man five platinum pieces for his trouble and he leaves.

The three then go up on deck and talk to the Captain about the missing Meliora. The Captain sends some men to begin searching the ship for the missing woman. Meanwhile, Rhain goes into the galley and confronts the weather-worn traveler who never left the galley throughout the altercation with the assassin. The man simply shrugs it off and says that he likes to stay out of trouble.

The three wait on deck as the Captain’s men search the ship. Soon, they are presented with the what the men find—Meliora’s dress and a reddish-brown wig found down in the hold. They decide to go to the bilge to revive and question the assassin. The Captain allows it.

Lenoria uses the healing spells granted to her by her goddess, Imtiau, to revive the assassin. She is reluctant to talk at first, but Lenoria manages to intimidate her into spilling her secrets. She works for a man called Gerens Belyarrow. Grybbin confirms that this is one of Skewes’ rivals. The assassin was hired to take out Grybbin so that he could not complete his assignment. As far as she knew, Gerens has no agent at the auction. The group has no further questions for the assassin and leave.

Once outside the bilge, the Captain asks if they are satisfied. The response is not really, but that they got all the information they could out of the woman. The Captain indicates that the assassin will be turned over to the authorities in Jirra when they put into port. Rhain wonders why the Captain doesn’t just hang her while they’re out at sea, before they put into port. After a moment’s discussion, the Captain is convinced and has the First Mate make the arrangements for execution.

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As the ship is being guided into the port at Jirra, the Captain conducts the execution of the assassin, Meliora Trevarrow. Other ships watch on in interest as the woman is hung from one of the yardarms. The other passengers on board the The Remedy watch, mostly white-faced and in discomfort, with the exception of the weather-worn traveler, who takes it all in with detached indifference.

Finally, the ship puts into port at Jirra. As they disembark, the group is stopped by Caswyn Pynwarden, who offers to treat them all to dinner tonight. Grybbin accepts and arrangements are made to meet at six bells at the Viridian Chariot, a well-to-do inn where the group will be staying. Pynwarden is pleased and makes his way into the city. The group does the same.

The Viridian Chariot is a very fancy inn near the city’s center in Jirra, at the base of Charter Hill. Grybbin pays for a suite of rooms as well as for a change of clothes for Lenoria and Rhain, as theirs are blood-spattered and in need of mending. Baths are had as well and at six bells Caswyn Pynwarden comes calling. He suggests dining at a tavern called The Cat and Bear near the harbor and Grybbin seems amenable. A carriage is waiting so the group load up and head out.

The Cat and Bear is a well-to-do establishment in a well-lit neighborhood with a high militia presence. Well-heeled patrons wine and dine in the posh tavern. Pynwarden is a good host, suggesting food from the menu, engaging in convivial conversation, and ensuring that they all have a good time. However, long into the dinner, Lenoria notices that Caswyn has just slipped something into Grybbin‘s drink. She nonchalantly overturns the drink, making it look like an accident, and notes the look of annoyance on Caswyn’s face. She then hints at Grybbin that they need to go and, thankfully, he seems to take it and agrees. The three leave the tavern in a hurry, much to Pynwarden’s consternation. Rhain asks if Grybbin wants him to ask Pynwarden what it was he was up to—indicating that there are ways to make him talk. Grybbin says he just wants to get back to the Viridian Chariot.

Back at the inn, Lenoria searches the room for anything out of the ordinary and finds nothing. The three hole up for the night in Grybbin’s room, with Rhain and Lenoria sleeping on mattresses on the floor in front of the door and window.

6 Awakening 508

During the day, the three hang out in Grybbin’s suite, with Lenoria using her prayers to purify their food and water against contamination. They also make arrangements for a carriage to take them to the auction house at six bells. They decide that they will take all of their gear to the auction and not return to the Viridian Chariot for the night in order to throw any more potential assassins off the trail.

At six bells they meet the carriage down stairs and take it to the harbor district where the auction house is. The auction is going to take place in a small warehouse. Other carriages are parked outside. Some have coats of arms, others are public carriages such as what the group took. Grybbin pays the driver to wait on them to conduct their business.

After presenting his credentials at the door, Grybbin and the two bodyguards make their way inside. The small warehouse is tidy and neat. Seats have been laid out and small stage erected where the lots will be presented. Guests are milling about, waiting for the auction to begin. It looks like others have brought bodyguards as well. Grybbin takes a deep breath and introduces himself to a few people before settling into a seat near the center of the room. Rhain takes a seat beside him while Lenoria continues to roam about the room. Soon, the auction begins.
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Most of the lots are sculpture and pieces of art. These are high worth items and this is clearly and exclusive auction. Finally, the item Grybbin is waiting comes forward. The Symbol of Sanguine Protection. It is a silver holy symbol of a spear head. Bidding begins at 5000 gold pieces. At first there are several buyers, but soon this whittles down to three, then down to two—Grybbin and a middle-aged Southron man with a mustache. In the end, Grybbin gets the piece for 12,000 gold pieces. He seems pleased.

Later, all of the participants wait to be called into the warehouse’s office to settle their account. They wait to hear their lot number called. Finally, Grybbin’s number is called and the three go into the office. Grybbin removes a silver key from his pocket and unlocks the satchel, removing a stack of platinum coins and an assortment of expensive gemstones. After a long period of assessment by the auctioneer, the account is settled and Grybbin takes possession of the piece, locking it in his satchel. The three then head back to the carriage, escorting Grybbin.

They decide to take rooms in The Hare’s Meadhall, a comfortable inn there in the harbor district. They once again take a suite but Lenoria and Rhain sleep on mattresses on the floor of Grybbin’s room, on guard for trouble. The night passes without incident.

7 Awakening 508

The group boards The Remedy early in the morning. Captain Yew has taken no further passengers for the return to Kalimsport—no one has asked after the display in the harbor upon their arrival. The journey to Kalimsport is uneventful and a welcome respite from the excitement of the initial journey. They arrive at the port city at sundown and take a carriage to Talyk Skewes’ rug shop in the market district.

Skewes welcomes the adventurers and his agent, clearly pleased to see him and that his mission was successful. He gladly pays Lenoria and Rhain for a job well done. Rhain and Lenoria tell Skewes about the assassin and the possible further attempt by Caswyn. Skewes allows that he knows Gerens Belyarrow—that he is indeed one of his most hated rivals—but that he knows nothing of this Caswyn Pynwarden. The bidder at the auction is probably Kalib, an agent for one of his lesser rivals.

Skewes clearly wants to get back at Gerens for trying to thwart his ambitions and kill Grybbin. He indicates that his sources tell him that Gerens is seeking an object to place on the market. Would they (Lenoria and Rhain) be interested in finding out what that object is? The two demur, saying that their talents do not lie in spying. Skewes says very well, that he will keep them in mind for other work. He asks if they’re staying in Kalimsport. They say that they are, so he says that if he has work, he will find them. The two also negotiate the sale of the assassin’s lockpicks with businessman as well. As they go, Grybbin thanks them for saving his life.

After their business is concluded, the two decide to head back to the Dragon’s Flagon for a drink.

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Session Twenty-One
Something to Prove

11 Illumination 508 (cont’d)

After dinner with Lord Coln and the party’s business is conducted, he decides to turn in for the night. Surm asks if Riverton has a library and the nobleman responds that the town does not but he, himself, has a modest one. It is mostly made up of the journals of various hunters and such, detailing their kills and their travels. The group asks if any of them were supernatural in nature and Lord Coln replies that, yes, probably some of the creatures were supernatural, especially those hunters that went close to the Rift. Savaric asks if there are any tales of werewolves. The lord does not know. At any rate, Lord Coln bids them good night and gives them permission to peruse his library if they wish.

The group takes this opportunity to discuss their future plans. Surm wants to go to a larger city, one with libraries and sages. He hopes to find a magical item to quest for in order to boost his strength. Rilka wants to find a bank in the city to store some of their riches. Savaric wants to make a home base of some sort, perhaps a buy a home. Mõrvar proposes staying in one area and becoming well-known. Surm disagrees with this proposal—he wants to establish a more far-flung reputation and leave with the people’s good will behind them. Bounty hunting is also proposed by Mõrvar as a possible profession, which is agreed upon by most of the group, though no one has any idea how to break into the trade. It is finally agreed to leave in the morning for Jenna, the nearest large city, and see what it has to offer.

12 Illumination 508

The party leaves Lord Coln’s lodge and travels down the pass into Riverton. They immediately visit a livery in town and negotiate a price to rent horses to use to travel to Jenna. The stablemaster, Saren, will accompany the troupe to Jenna and charge them 4 copper pieces per mile per horse (not counting his own horse, of course) for the journey. This price seems amenable to all involved, even Surm, who also negotiates the sale of the his mule to the man for a more-than-fair price. Saren says that he will be ready to ride by this afternoon, so the party asks if they can leave their gear at the stables while they wait. The stablemaster says they can, so they do, while the party leaves to buy an additional tent and to wait at a tavern. Throughout their negotiations with Saren both Surm and Savaric notice that while the man is friendly, he seems a bit wary of his half-orc patrons.

After buying their tent in the marketplace, the party is looking for a tavern at which to wait out the day. As they make their way through the town, they come upon an alleyway and a large vacant lot. From a group of people gathered in the lot, the party clearly hears a voice say “Just stay down, half-breed!” Savaric and Mõrvar approach the group, with Rilka close behind. Surm reluctantly follows, not wanting to get involved.

In the lot is a gang of about six men surrounding what looks to be a half-orc wielding a scimitar and wearing spiked hide armor. Two men are lying on the ground bleeding, forming a gap in the circle through which the half-orc is visible. Savaric and Mõrvar approach the group and one of their number acknowledges them, motioning to another of his comrades who turns to face them. “You asked for a half-breed?” Mõrvar asks, innocently, and Savaric says that he finds that insulting. Finally, after a tense, silent stand-off, the gang moves to attack and a fight ensues. While the party mostly sticks to non-lethal damage, the half-orc at the center of the conflict seems to have no qualms about shedding blood. He manages to down one of his opponents while the party manages to subdue the rest. Savaric ends the conflict by tackling the final opponent and locking him in manacles.

While the others attend to the wounded and decide what to the captured man, Mõrvar asks the half-orc what started the conflict. “I was walking down the street and I would not yield.” He turns to address everyone and says in Tradespeak “I thank you for your valor,” and then turns to the half-orcs and says the same thing in Urkhani. When Mõrvar acknowledges the same in Urkhani, the half-orc seems surprised and pleased and responds in that tongue “Ah! You speak a civilized tongue!”

When the half-orc notices the others deliberating over the fallen man, he walks over and spits on him and says “Come, let’s live this one in the dirt where he belongs and get a drink together.” As everyone gets ready to go, Mõrvar goes to the man, applies his chill touch to him and whispers “Next time be more careful who you’re prejudiced against. Now take your friends and leave.”

As they make their way to the nearest tavern, the half-orc introduces himself as Marek. He hails from the village of Karsk in the Isles of Urkhan. Everyone else introduces themselves and they all find themselves at The Ancient Toad, a modest rustic tavern. They all settle in around a table and someone asks Marek what his profession is. He says that back home his is a warrior and a raider; that he is currently on a quest. After a pregnant pause, Mõrvar asks him what that quest is. Marek leans in conspiratorially to tell and then seems to think better of it. “Drinks first!” he says and takes everyone’s drink order, calling a wench over. He also seems to take an interest in Rilka, referring to her as “m’lady”.

After everyone has had their drinks, he once again leans in conspiratorially and reveals to them his quest. In Karask, he is a member of the Black Talon clan. According to Black Talon clan lore, this “hero” Darkbane slew the clan’s priest of Saarask back in the day, an orc called Truarsk. If Marek can spit in the eyes of the paladins of Barthal and desecrate the tomb of their hero, the slayer of Truarsk, then perhaps Marek is more than a useless half-man after all. . .Marek has traveled a long way to Riverton to complete his mission and return to Karsk with proof that he has completed the deed—a relic from the dead paladin’s casket. The end of his quest is finally in sight. He will impress Gurach with his prowess and his strength.

After he finishes his tale, Marek takes a long pull off his mug and eyes the party. “I think today was a good omen. I have been given capable friends to share my burden. This quest will not be easy. But, with help, perhaps I can succeed.”

Surm is not buying any of it. “No.”

Mõrvar seems skeptical as well. The two half-orcs are silent.

Marek seems to sense their reluctance and mistakes it’s source. “It is also said that the hero’s treasure has been buried with him.”

Surm rolls his eyes. “Oh, and graverobbing as well.” Mõrvar says that the party has already made arrangements to move on to the next city and that they have other plans.

Marek seems put out by this, but then recovers and orders another round of drinks. “Very well. Then another round for my friends and benefactors.”

The party stays for another round, but after a whispered discussion regarding the implications of being seen with Marek in public and his chances of success, and the chances of the two half-orcs being cast as innocent bystanders in court of public opinion of Marek’s crimes, Surm says to Marek, “You know, we can’t leave until we get your word that you will not do this quest.”

“What do you mean?” Marek asks. “What does this mean for you?”

Surm goes on to explain how they would all, especially Rilka and Savaric, could be implicated in his crimes if he were to get caught—and that there was a. high chance of him getting caught. Plus, that it was simply a bad idea. The risks were too great for too little reward. He could bring the paladins of Riverton down on his clan for this quest. Eventually, Marek rises, places gold for the drinks upon the table, takes up his backpack and gear, mutters “You have my word,” and leaves the tavern.

After a brief discussion, it is decided to take Marek at his word.

The party finishes their drinks, during which time RIlka reveals that she cannot remove her jaunty hat—the one she found down in the ruins they discovered in the mountains. Mõrvar theorizes that it is cursed and that a remove curse spell will be needed to remove it. Everyone—except for Rilka, of course—seems fairly amused by the situation.

After drinks, the party head back to the stables where Saren is putting the finishing touches on the readying the horses. Soon, they are leaving Riverton behind, with Saren leading the way and setting a brisk, but far from breakneck pace. The late spring air is warm and weather is fair. The rest of the day and night is uneventful and pleasant.

13 Illumination 508

This morning the two parties part ways with wishes for mutual good journeys.

The travel toward Jenna is pleasant and warm, as has been the usual on this journey. The day goes by without incident and the party stops at the end of the day to make camp. Saren anticipates making it into Jenna the following morning. As the party is making camp, Surm notices something up in the trees stirring the branches and taking in a large breath—something large, green, reptilian, and scaly. . .

Another pleasant spring day of travel with Saren leading the way to Jenna.

The evening brings a surprise as the party meets another party of adventurers on the road wishing to share a campsite. This new party is traveling on the road toward Riverton and is lead by a woman wearing a longsword and a breastplate who greets the party with a “Hail and well-met!” The group acknowledges the greeting and the woman asks if they can share the campsite for the evening. Surm allows that they can, that there would be safety in numbers. The others come forward and begin making camp and introductions.

The woman leading the band is named Bayhild. Her companions are Wulf, a wiry man dressed in leathers; Cynric, a smallish man in long blue robes; and Gisel, an attractive young woman with a lyre who wears a motley-colored cloak. As the groups settle in to camp together, Wulf begins sharpening his knives, keeping a wary eye on Savaric’s new-found snake companion, Victor. Gisel entertains the company with light music. Cynric begins studying a tome on his lap. Bayhild sits quietly. The other group begins to mingle quietly, with Mõrvar taking a special interest in Gisel the bard.

Rilka approaches Cynric and asks if he is a spellcaster. He acknowledges that, yes, he is a wizard. She begins to tell him about her problem with her hat and asks if he can help. He shakes his head and seems genuinely sad that, alas, it is not within his power to help. She says “thank you anyway” and pulls away to let him continue his study.

That night, the two parties join each other in guard duties and Mõrvar joins Gisel in her tent.

14 Illumination 508

The next morning the two parties part ways with wishes of good journeys. Saren then continues to the lead the group toward Jenna along the road.

At the end of the day, as the group is making their evening camp, Surm notices a large creature—a large, scaly reptilian creature—above them, rustling the branches of the trees, and taking in a large breath. He yells for everyone to move and take cover and suddenly he and his brother are engulfed in an acidic cloud. Savaric begins firing arrows and Rilka takes cover behind one of the large forest trees. The beast then begins to swoop into camp, attacking Savaric. The ranger continues to pelt the thing with arrows while Surm fires his crossbow and both Rilka and Mõrvar attack the beast as it descends. Finally, Mõrvar manages to deal the killing blow the beast and it falls from the sky into the campsite. At this point, a disheveled Saren is coaxed from his hiding place.

Savaric identifies the beast as a Forest Drake, a degenerate cousin to a Green Dragon that plague the deep forests. He then expertly skins the beast and takes the teeth and talons. Unfortunately, he manages to mangle the acid glands of the creature when trying to extract them.

After the excitement of the battle, the rest of the night passes without incident.

15 Illumination 508

This morning sees the group arriving at the eastern gates of the city of Jenna.

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Rage and Raven: Ill Met in Kalimsport Part Two
Part II

2 Awakening 508 (continued)

Kerra brings up exploring the rest of the complex before plunging headlong into the tunnels. The rest of the party of party agrees. They make their way up one of the unexplored passageways to a door. Alun checks the door and opens it, and then shuts it quickly. There are two of the reptilian creatures in the room beyond. Rhain takes up the point position just as the door opens again to reveal one of the creatures ready to attack.

Rhain dispatches this one quickly. The other one does not advance, but instead throws a javelin into the barbarian—surprising and angering him. Rhain advances into the room, as does Alun and Kerra. It manages to drop its club in the melee but attacks effectively with its claws and bite, much to Rhain’s dismay. Kerra finally finishes it off. Lenoria gathers everyone together into the range of her positive energy to help heal them.

They eventually make their way back to the entry chamber and check the remaining the door that they had not checked before. Alun finds no traps, but does find that it is trapped. He decides to use one of the keys that they had found on creatures they had killed in the “throne room” before. It works—and seems to trip a second mechanism that he had not found. He suspects that there was, in fact, a trap that he had not found. Everyone takes a step back as he opens the door. Nothing happens.

The open door reveals a narrow passageway that leads into to another unlocked door. This door leads into a larger chamber with iron chains set into the walls and a distinct odor in the air. An archway leads into another room, also odiferous with iron chains set into the walls. This room has a hide pallet with crude metal tools set upon it. The floor and walls have coppery stains set into them. No other exits lead from the room. The area seems played out, unless there is some secret passage that has yet to be revealed. Alun searches out the room and finds nothing of interest.

The party decide to climb their rope out of the entry chamber and make camp and try the tunnels in the morning.

3 Awakening 508

The following morning, the party reenters the ruins through the entry chamber, down the rope, and then makes their way to the tunnel chamber.

The tunnel is wide enough to allow them to travel two abreast and descends at a fairly steep angle. Rhain and Alun take the lead with Kerra and Lenoria following. The going is slow as the floor is natural stone, not worked, and quite uneven.

As they make their way down the tunnel, suddenly the two men cry out in alarm as two man-sized insects emerge from a cleft in the ceiling. The many-legged creatures have venom dripping from their large mandibles. Fortunately, the foul creatures are soon vanquished, curling up in the rictus of death.

The party soon find themselves in a larger chamber filled with thin, tooth-like stalactites and stalagmites. It’s difficulty to maneuver in the room without getting caught up in the thin protuberances. The chamber winds in either direction, left or right. They decide to veer to the left.

As they lead the stalactite/stalagmite chamber, they begin to hear voices in the chamber ahead. Lenoria casts light on a sling bullet and flings it into the chamber and then begins to cast guidance on everyone.

In the light come two figures that look like dwarves, but their skin has a grayish sheen and their eyes seem to absorb the light instead of reflect it. One has a light crossbow and the other wields a heavy shield and a warhammer.

Rhain hurls a javelin into one of the strange dwarves and then hides. Everyone else hides as well. The dwarves emerge from the chamber to investigate. Rhain then surprises the dwarf with the crossbow and disarms him. Then he trips the dwarf with the warhammer. As that dwarf tries to stand, he disarms him as well. The dwarf that had the crossbow then punches Rhain in the face. Alun then throws a dagger into the dwarf that had the warhammer, felling him. The other dwarf goes to get the fallen warhammer, but Rhain trips him and Kerra strikes him down. The party then loots them for their armor and weapons and belt pouches of gold.

The party continue down the passage to the left and then hear more voices, as well as a whip snap. Once again, Lenoria casts light upon a sling bullet and flings it into the chamber, revealing three of the strange dwarves—two armored up and armed with warhammers and one without armor and armed with a whip. Before them are chained and bound 3 goblins, one of the reptilian creatures they had encountered before, and a strange dark-skinned elf.

The party move forward and engage with the dwarves, eventually defeating them all. Rhain kills the bound reptilian creature without hesitation. Alun finds keys to the chains on the dead whip wielder and tosses them to the barbarian. After a brief consult with the party, he releases the bound elf, who cautiously makes his way out of the cavern and away. As for the goblins, Rhain begins stacking various burdens upon and makes it clear that if they don’t carry them, they’ll meet the same fate as the reptile.

Deeper in this chamber, they find a pile of gear—probably the former belongings of these slaves. Lenoria casts detect magic on the pile but detects none.

Gathering the bound and burdened goblins, the party make their way out of the chamber, continuing their way through the tunnel. Alun and Lenoria stay in the back with the goblin train while Kerra and Rhain take the lead. Once again, they hear voices as they approach a chamber. Lenoria casts light on a sling bullet and flings it into the chamber, revealing two dwarf sentries, who approach ready for a fight. They are soon dispatched. This chamber has a tunnel leading away that is blocked with a. makeshift barricade. Two pikes have also been erected with the heads of two those dark-skinned elves mounted upon them facing the tunnel. The main tunnel continues on, which the party follows.

Continuing down the tunnel, it begins to take a distinct slope downward. The party also begins to hear the sound of metal striking stone. They can continue down the slope or take a side tunnel. They decide to take the side tunnel. This tunnel leads to another pair of dwarf sentries, which are easily dispatched. Exploring the two side tunnels from the sentries, the party finds a chamber being used as a storage chamber. Various barrels have been placed here. Some contain ale, some contain dried sausages and the like. Rhain decides to leave the goblins here while they explore some of the other tunnels. He re-secures them hand-to-foot and gives them some of the food they found.

Heading down another side tunnel they find a chamber mainly occupied by a spring-fed pool of water. Here everyone refills their water skins. The party then head back to the storage chamber and collect their goblin porters and decide to head back toward where they first headed “left” to check out a different side chamber.

This tunnel seems to be circling back to the stalactite/stalagmite chamber. But before it does a hideous, carapace-covered monstrosity emerges from the ceiling and flings some sort of fibrous filament at Rhain. After a desperate fight, Kerra finally manages to disembowel it.

After circling back to the entry tunnel, the party decides to head back and not explore the caves any further. There’s no telling how much deeper into the under-dark they’ll end up delving and they’re woefully underprepared for that. Besides, they have plenty of armor to sell for profit here. They back track through the ruins to the original entry chamber and climb out, hauling up the armor with the rope. Rhain drops the key to the shackles down to the goblin once everyone else gets out and the rope is hauled up “Don’t you follow us. I’ll kill you.”

They finally arrive back at Kalimsport around sundown. They pay their gate taxes go to the various markets to sell off their goods for a pretty good profit. They all then go to the Dragon’s Flagon where Rhain buys ale for the house “To a successful quest!”, winning him the goodwill of the bar patrons for that evening.

Everyone discusses their future plans. Lenoria says that she goes where the goddess wills it. Rhain just wants to go where the party is and where his gold will take him. Kerra wants to head back to Crownport at some point. Rhain asks the barkeep where people can look for work and adventure. He indicates that the marketplace is where postings are made and news is discussed, or maybe bards have news of adventure and such. So Rhain and Lenoria say that they will go to the marketplace in the morning to seek out their next adventure.

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Rage and Raven: Ill Met in Kalimsport
Part I

1 Awakening 508

It is New Year’s Day in Kalimsport and it is an inauspicious start of the year for Lenoria. After an ill-advised political argument with two Sianaean merchants in the common room of The Elixir and the Prayer, she now finds herself on the run through the streets of the city, the merchants shouting imprecations at her as she bluffs her way past a baker bundled down with his wares. She turns a corner finds herself in a cluttered alleyway. She tries to climb over the clutter, but to no avail. She turns to see the merchants arriving and drawing clubs, smiling, as they call her a “disloyalist bitch” in Sianaean.

It is a rough morning for Rhain Ortha as well. He has spent the night in an alleyway with his horse after being kicked out of the Enchanted Staff for starting a drunken brawl. He awakes in the small alcove he settled himself into the night before to see a young Southron woman with raven tattoos on her face run past him being chased by two wealthy-looking men with clubs. Where he comes from, two men chasing a woman can not be up to any good. He hefts his weapons and steps out into the alley behind the men.

One of the men notices the big the Northron stepping out into the alley and nudges his friend to get his attention. The men take in both the Southron woman and the Northron man surrounding them and one asks is this is a robbery. Rhain responds that he was wondering the same thing, with two men chasing a woman down an alley. Lenoria says that it was a difference of political opinion. One of the men in the middle agrees, stating that this is a private matter. Rhain shows no sign of leaving. So one man says to the other, “Come, Renzo, let’s get back to the ship.” The other man, Renzo, asks Rhain, “Will you let us pass?” After a second’s consideration, Rhain says, “No,” and attacks!

One merchant goes for Lenoria, while the other, Renzo, goes for Rhain. The merchants prove to be more formidable than either combatant thought. Nevertheless, the barbarian makes short work of the two men after Lenoria manages to break her weapon trying to dispatch her opponent. Rhain quickly takes the two men’s belt pouches and ushers Lenoria out of the alleyway. The two introduce themselves as they walk and decide to split the proceeds from the belt pouches once they find a place to sit. Talking along the way, they decide to head to the first tavern they find, The Two Talismans.

At the tavern, they split the gold found on the merchants—a whopping sixty gold pieces total. They celebrate with some food and drink and decide to celebrate New Year’s together. As the two continue to get acquainted, and the bar fills up with local patrons celebrating the holiday, they notice a pair of travelers come in. One, a young woman wearing a longsword, a shield, and a breastplate, is accompanied by a slighter companion, a man wearing a short sword and studded leather armor. They occupy a nearby table and attempt to converse in low tones, though it is hard in the noisy tavern. They have to raise their voices to be heard by each other, allowing Lenoria and Rhain to overhear their conversation. . .

“. . .it could be our chance," says the young man.

“Could be dangerous. . .”

“Yeah. . .but there could be treasure as well. Maybe some priceless ancient trinket or some such.”

“Or maybe goblins. Or worse. Where is this thing, anyway?”

“Ten miles south. In the foothills. Near a crystal formation. There’s a pit, maybe an old air shaft or something. We can lower a rope and go right inside. Take a look around. Climb back out. No worries.”

“We’ll need rope.”

“Among other things. We’ll provision in the morning and then head out. Come on, sis. It’ll be great!”

“No, it probably it won’t be. But I’ve got your back and I’ll be there.”

Lenoria and Rhain give each other significant glances. After a brief discussion over whether or not to invite themselves into the expedition or to simply take it out from under them, the two decide to team up and approach the two young travelers about joining them.

Lenoria interrupts their conversation, indicating that she couldn’t help but overhear their discussion and that she felt that she and her companion could be of some assistance, considering the possible danger involved. She seems to win the brother and sister pair over, despite some disconcerting asides from Rhain (where he brings up both the sister’s reluctance to go and the fact that it would be better to have he and Lenoria’s cooperation than their competition). The two introduce themselves as Alun and Kerra. In the course of the conversation, it is revealed that Alun is a scout and that Kerra is skilled with a sword. Lenoria reveals herself to be a priestess of Imtiau—a fact that seems to take Rhain by surprise.

After agreeing to go on this expedition together, Rhain suggests further cementing their camaraderie by spending the day together at the New Year’s Faire and by taking rooms at the same inn. Everyone is amenable to the idea and, after consulting with the barkeep as to available inns in the city, they decide to go to the Dragon’s Flagon near the south gate, being as how they’ll be exiting the city to the south anyway.

Lenoria leaves the tavern and collects her horse from the stables at the Elixir and the Prayer, heading back to the Two Talismans to meet back with the others. Then they all leave for the Dragon’s Flagon to secure rooms for the night before returning to the city center for the Faire.

At the Faire they all eat, drink, and play games and generally enjoy all of the entertainment provided. There are minstrels and jugglers and puppet shows and the like, as well as many merchants hawking their wares. Alun and Kerra are fairly frugal with their funds, but Rhain, flush with his new-found gold, seems determined to enjoy himself at the Faire. He pays a copper for nearly any game of skill he can find, winning numerous trinkets and dolls along the way. Finally he finds a game more to his liking—an axe throwing competition. His prowess with the weapon gets him to the final round, but he falls short—much to his dismay. He tosses his many, lesser, prizes and remains in a sour mood for much of the afternoon.

Along the way, Lenoria engages in conversation with the brother and sister duo, discovering that they originally hail from Crownport. Alun also reveals that he discovered the hole en route to Kalimsport with Kerra, though they did not have the means to explore it at the time so he waited to bring it up to his sister. In the meantime, Rhain finds another competition to test his mettle—the Taber toss. Once again, his strength manages to get him to the final round, but, even after Lenoria bestows the luck of her goddess upon him, he falls short of the final win. He drags himself off of the field, wishing to “bear his shame alone.” Lenoria tries to cheer him, though he broods for the remainder of the day.

Finally, after a full day of celebration, the new companions head back to the Dragon’s Flagon to rest for the next day’s expedition. Lenoria ends the day with special prayers of thanks to Imtiau.

2 Awakening 508

The newly-formed party head out first thing in the morning from Dragon’s Flagon and out of the south gate of the city. From the guards at the gate, they learn that the exit will have them entering the country of Kuskar. This means little to the intrepid adventurers and they move eagerly to the south in search of treasure and adventure.

Travel is slow, as neither Alun nor Kerra have mounts (unlike Rhain and Lenoria), but by midday Alun announces that they have reached the crystal formation that he’s been looking for as a landmark. Sure enough, they can see the sun glinting off of crystals embedded in the side of a large boulder. Alun indicates that the others should hang back as he checks out the hole first and he cautiously approaches the area near the boulder.

The others watch as Alun drops to the ground near the landmark, presumably at the site of the hole. Soon, he rises and makes his way cautiously back to the assembled companions. He says that he could see debris from where the hole had fallen through and a stonework floor below. He also says that he thought he heard movement down below. Something is down there, but he couldn’t get a good look at it. It’s decided that the rest of the party will approach and see what they can see.

Soon, everyone is gathered around the hole. Lenoria picks up a nearby stone and says a brief prayer over it. It is then engulfed in light. She casts the stone down into the hole, lighting up the entire room. In the light they all see a hideous, reptilian humanoid that hisses in the light and ducks out of sight as quickly as it can.

A knotted rope is quickly secured to the side of the hole and Rhain quickly climbs down into the lit room. It is a largish chamber, wider than the light given off by the stone thrown by Lenoria. Mosaics line the walls that depict the reptilian humanoids supplicating themselves before shadowy shapes floating in the sky. The floor bears a shallow pool, full of debris from the hole above it. Two archways lead to the west while a door leads to the north and another door leads to the east. Alun says that the humanoid ducked to the east. Rhain declares the way to be clear, so the rest of the party make their way down the rope.

Once everyone is down the rope, Rhain encourages Alun to lead the way. The scout chooses to start with the archways to the west. He leads down the hall, with Lenoria lighting their way with her prayer. He finds that the two archways meet in the same hallway and that hallway continues down and turns left back toward the direction of the room they just left, ending In a door. Alun checks the doors for traps and to see if it is locked. Satisfied on both counts, he opens the door to reveal a long, narrow chamber with mosaics on the walls depicting the reptilian humanoids in underground tunnels marching to war.

This room has a door to the west—presumably leading back to the entry chamber—and a door to the north. Alun checks the door to the north and finds that it is locked. He says that they can turn back and go another way or he can try to get past the lock. They opt to get past the lock. So he pulls out a leather pouch full of small tools and he works on the lock. Click! The lock is turned and they continue through the door into a hallway that ends in another door. Alun once again examines this door and opens it up into another long, narrow chamber.

This room bears mosaics with the reptilian humanoids engaging in ecstatic dances—some of them highly disturbing in their explicitness. Another door lies to the south of the room. Alun once again examines it and finds that it is locked. He uses his tools on the lock and once again conquers it. The door opens into a very short passage to another locked door. Alun stands in the passage and uses his tools on the lock. He then opens the door—and shuts it quickly. “There’re three of those things in there!” Everyone backs up into the narrow chamber and Rhain positions himself in doorway in hopes of bottlenecking any attackers in the passage.

Sure enough, the barbarian is accosted by two of the hideous creatures. Both are dispatched, one at a time in the bottleneck. “I thought you said there were three,” Rhain asks. Alun affirms that there were three. Lenoria offers to heal the barbarian, who bows his head and accepts. Then the party makes their way through the short passage into the room where the creatures came from.

This room is similar in size to the entry chamber. It, too, has a pool in the center of the room. Mosaics on the walls depict the creatures worshipping shadowy figures emerging from the sea. There is a door in the north end of the room. Alun checks out the door and, satisfied, leads the way through it into a long hallway.

The hallway ends in another door. Alun gives it his usual examination and opens it, revealing a small room filled with the debris of a fallen wall. Another door greets them on the far side of the room. Alun checks this door as well and declares it free of traps and unlocked. The party moves on into another, longer, hallway.

As the party continues down the corridor, Rhain decides to try and track the missing humanoid. Sure enough, he finds a track—probably made by the dusty debris from the previous room—leading down the hall. When the corridor leads to a fork, he is able to track the humanoid down one of the forks into another locked door. Alun makes short work of the lock and opens the door into another narrow room. This room bears mosaics depicting the reptilian humanoids enslaving other primitive humanoids and leading them into underground chambers. At the southern end of the room is a door and an archway. Another door leads to the west. Rhain finds another track that leads them to the archway, so they continue in that direction.

A short corridor leads to another door. Alun checks it out and the party continues through it into a largish room with bare walls and a floor full of filthy cloth pallets. Another archway leads to the south.

After following a brief, slightly turning corridor, the party finds themselves facing a door and a portcullis that lead into the same room. Through the portcullis they can see into the room and its three occupants. One is seated upon a throne made of discarded bones. It wears a skull headdress and is obviously in a position of authority. Another is a hulking specimen of the reptilian humanoids that the party has encountered thus far. The third is another of the hideous creatures, pointing frantically in their direction. The figure on the throne motions toward the party, speaking words that are not understood, and suddenly both Kerra and Rhain feel fear and a lack of hope creep into their being. The larger creature begins moving toward the portcullis.

The party retreats all the way back to the narrow chamber with the enslavement mosaic. There, Rhain, having shaken off the effects of whatever the enthroned creature had done to him and Kerra, prepares to bottleneck the coming attack in the archway. As expected, the brutish creature makes his way up the passage and through the archway. Rhain meets him in combat and eventually vanquishes him, though not before taking a crushing blow from the creature’s club. Lenoria attempts to heal him, with only modest effects. Kerra gives him a vial whose contents revitalize him considerably.

Before exploring the rest of the complex, the party decides to take on the enthroned creature and his lackey. A head-on attack is considered to be best. The party then heads back through the archway, through the pallet room, and into the corridor that leads to the throne room. Here Lenoria bestows the blessing of her goddess upon the party and divine luck upon Rhain who will be leading the attack.

Rhain springs into action. Running into the room, he barrels past the lackey and attacks the enthroned creature, slaying him so quickly that he doesn’t even have time to rise from his seat. Soon, the lackey is slain as well. Keys are collected from their corpses, though no other treasure can be found.

The room has two archways to the west. Alun once again leads the way, taking the north-most archway into winding corridor that leads into an empty room. Another archway leads to the west and a door leads to the east. They take the archway to the west, which takes them into a longish corridor that ends in a portcullis. Gazing into the room, they can see it is one of the narrow chambers with another mosaic depicting the reptilian humanoids eating the flesh of some large, prehistoric creature. Another portcullis is embedded in this chamber’s western wall.

As they open the portcullis leading into this chamber, they hear the portcullis on its western wall begin to open and two more of the hideous creatures emerge to engage with them. Soon, they are defeated as soundly as their brethren and the party move on to see what was in the room from which they emerged.

This room is another of the larger rooms, like the entry chamber, with a pool in the center and a mosaic depicting the monstrous creatures worshipping shadowy forms emerging from flames. A door in the southern end of the room leads back into the corridor from which the party came.

Frustrated with the strange design of the complex, the party decides to backtrack all the way to the narrow room in which they defeated the brutish specimen of the creatures. From there, they take the southern door and go down a winding corridor into a small room in which a tunnel has been dug into the eastern wall. After dispatching two of the hideous reptilian humanoids guarding the tunnel, they decide to see what lies beyond in the tunnel. . .

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Session Twenty
Feathered Fury

7 Illumination 508 (continued)

Examining their new finds, Surm and Mõrvar determine that the scrolls are for the spells Detect Undead and Color Spray. Surm also examines the music box for traps, but finds none. Rilka opens the music box to find a padded lid with the mechanism inside it. If the small key on the side is turned, it plays a lullaby. She then dons the jaunty hat before joining the others in re-exploring the previous room.

As Rilka watches for intruders, the party re-searches this room, finding nothing further. They then move back to the kitchen, where they had previously encountered the angry spirit. They search out the room under the half-orc’s watchful gaze but find nothing out of the ordinary.

Next they check the larder next door to the kitchen. Surm checks the door for any unexpected traps laid by the Jinkins, but finds none. Inside is a great deal of mold and fungus draped over opened barrels and crates. A door leads out of the room. Surm, Mõrvar, and Savaric check out the room while Rilka waits in the kitchen. Savaric finds an unopened barrel and goes to check it out when he hears a “pfftt” sound and a spray of spores flies past him from the mold that covers the barrel. Suddenly, a tendril springs forth from the mass and attempts to hit the ranger. Everyone moves out of the larder and back into the kitchen to regroup.

After a series of experiments with the mold, they determine that it can fire a narrow stream of spores about 30’ from its core at the center of the larder—including through the open kitchen doorway. It seems to be able to detect movement more than sight. Mõrvar uses his magic to pick up a fork in the kitchen, enshroud it in light, and then drops it in the center of the larder. The mold lashes out at the fork while Savaric fires an arrow into the mold. It penetrates the plant, seeming to anger it as its tendril lashes about in agitation. His shot not only pierced the mold, but embedded the arrow into the barrel, which develops of slow leak of whatever it contained. By the smell of it, probably mead. Savaric continues to fire at the creeper from outside the range of its spores (which Surm has determined are probably used to lure its prey closer using some form of hypnosis). Finally, the creature stops its agitated movement and all is quiet in the larder.

The party then searches the larder again and finds nothing but a now-empty barrel of mead and more mold and fungus. Surm makes a show of checking the door for traps and opens it, revealing a staircase heading down.

The party follows the staircase down into a cavern chamber filled with mushrooms of various sizes, from the tiny to the twenty-feet-high variety. Savaric senses movement in the mushrooms. The party continues forward, but warily. Finally, Rilka senses movement as well as one of the mushrooms rushes forward to attack. It has a huge, bulbous purple head and four lashing tendrils that it uses to attack. After a brief fight, the fungus goes down and the party begins to search the chamber in earnest. Savaric finds some skeletal remains wearing a chain shirt that is in good repair and a small, grey prism-shaped stone. When he picks up the stone, it seems to flare into flame and begins floating in a circle around his head! The flame gives off light, but no heat. He clasps the floating stone again, which douses the light and ceases its orbit. Surm reveals that the item is probably a ioun torch, a burnt-out ioun stone with minimal power. In the discussion that follows, Surm ends up with the ioun torch and his brother, Mõrvar with the chain shirt. He decides to carry his scale mail. There is another tunnel leading out of the room, which the party decides to follow.

This tunnel leads back into the mushroom-filled chamber that was seen below the catacombs they had found earlier. Surm and Rilka hang back while Savaric and Mõrvar decide to search out the chamber. As Savaric explores one of the clusters of mushrooms, he, once again, senses movement. He turns to see a creature that looks like a lumpy albino toad, the size of a man,, with long tusks. A slurk! It leaps toward him, its mouth opened wide. Savaric engages with the creature while Mõrvar comes to his aid. Rilka and Surm start coming closer to the battle, careful not to run too fast on the slick, mold-covered floor. As the half-orc engages with the enemy, Surm arrives before Rilka and casts a magic missile, felling the foul beast. Afterwards, after a party discussion of the relative worth of ivory and bone, Savaric decides to de-tusk the creature in hopes of selling the bones.

The party makes their way back into the complex and back to the room where they had encountered the Leshy before. It still seems to be guarding the northern door, frantically waving its tendrils as people come closer to it. After a brief discussion over the merits of possibly fighting the Leshy for access to that door, the party decides to leave it and move on.

They return to the large marketplace room where they had first arrived. From here, they go through the other set of double doors into a cavern tunnel. They follow the cavern tunnel to its end, where they encounter a suspended mine car on a steel zipline leading to a receptacle far below. They check out the gear box of the line, determining that there must be some sort of controls for the mine car. Mõrvar goes to check out the actual car when he is forced to jump back as the car suddenly goes careening down the line and crashing into the receptacle below. Apparently, there were no brakes. . .

The party returns to the marketplace and decide to begin their ascent out of the ruins. When they climb out and to the other side of the rock slide that brought them into the complex, they find that it is evening time. They decide that it would be better to camp back below than out in the open pass, so they once again descend into the marketplace.

8 Illumination 508

After an uneventful night, the party climbs out, once again, onto the pass. After traveling for most of the day along the passes, higher and higher into the mountains, with the air getting thinner with each step, Savaric find signs of griffons inhabiting the area. He determines that they are probably a bit higher up than where the party is now. He collects the feathers, leaves the spoor, and leads on. After a short time, they find a steep trail leading higher into the mountains. Mõrvar once again uses his magic to handle the rope and grapple, securing the grapple at the top of the trail to aid in the climbing. Savaric leads the way, heading up the trail.

The trail ends in at a steep cliff, about 10’ high. At the top of the cliff is a nest with two griffons tending it. They shriek in anger as Savaric hurriedly heads down the trail to warn the others. The two griffons take to the air and swoop down upon the both sides of the party at the pass below. Mõrvar manages to dose two arrows with the sleep poison secured at the alchemist shop in Riverton. He fires one at the griffons on their initial approach and misses. The griffons attack with beak and talon, fierce in their anger and indignation. Mõrvar manages to get another shot off with the second dosed arrow, hitting one of the griffons. However, as the poison needs time to work, it is hard to tell if it will be effective before the fight is done. Finally, Rilka manages to slay one of the beasts, its body falling far down below into the lower passes. The others concentrate on the one remaining, finally allowing it to meet the same fate as its mate. “So much for the griffon’s mane,” someone quips.

Rilka follows the narrow trail and climbs up the cliff into the nest to retrieve a single griffon egg. She places it in the specially-made satchel, gathers more feathers for Savaric, and makes her way back to the others.

By the end of the day, the party has made it back to the hole where they fell into the dwarven ruins. They decide to make another camp there that night as well before leaving in the morning, hopefully figuring out how to get past the natural slide that took them into the ruins in the first place. Mõrvar comes up with a plan to create a secure platform across the hole so that they can climb up the slide without falling through the hole. They decide to use the workbenches from the smithy down below to make the platform. With both Rilka’s and Mõrvar’s engineering know-how, they should be able to pull it off.

Once they climb below again, they make their way to the smithy, passing the still agitated Leshy along the way. They leave the Leshy alone and stop only to gather the large workbenches, dragging them back to the first marketplace room. There they make their camp for the night.

During the night, Savaric notices movement in the room. He wakes the others and can see where one of the doors leading out of the room has been shut. They all go to check out the next room to see who it was, but find no other sign of passing. Other than that, their night passes without incident.

9 Illumination 508

That morning is a lot work, hauling equipment and themselves up through the hole, then the workbenches as well. They manage to secure the workbenches and create the platform, according to Mõrvar’s plan, and make their way up the slide. By this time, it is afternoon. They continue down the pass toward Lord Coln’s lodge.

10 Illumination 508

After a cold, but uneventful night, the party continues down the pass. Finally, in the afternoon, they arrive at the make-shift bridge they had built out of pitons and rope. Only one of the two mules they left behind remains. There are signs of a struggle and blood. Everyone crosses the bridge successfully, passing the equipment over as well. After collecting “Pack”, they move on.

Shortly before making camp that evening, the party comes across the site of the battle they had with the female ogre on the way up the pass. Nothing much seems to have changed at the site.

11Illumination 508

Breathing begins to get easier as the party leaves the higher passes by noon this day. That afternoon finds them on the outskirts of Lord Coln’s lands. Here they are greeted by guardsmen who escort them into the estate. At the door of the lodge, they are met by Leofric, who has them wait in the entry way for his lord (the party is quite dirty and bloody and moldy). Lord Coln himself meets them and congratulates them on their success, leading them into the parlor for a bit of celebration. He invites them to have a drink and sit and he goes to fetch them the payment that was promised. He returns with a leather sack containing 350 platinum pieces and places it on the table for the party to take. Savaric gives the Lord a griffon feather as a souvenir. They tell him the story of what they found and how they vanquished the pair of griffons—he pays rapt attention to the tale. Surm, after Lord Coln brings up that they were every bit as good as their recommendation, asks the nobleman for his own letter of recommendation, which Lord Coln says he will draw up. He also offers to allow them to stay in his home tonight and bathe.

That night, the party is treated to a sumptuous dinner and drinks in Lord Coln’s dining hall. Afterwards, they have more drinks in the study. Surm, who has been studiously watching his own alcohol intake this evening, then approaches the nobleman about purchasing the slurk “ivory”. Between the alcohol and Lord Coln’s own disposition, he acquiesces to buy two of the tusks at 300 gold pieces each. He pays the party in a red garnet and a violet garnet, stating that he is low on coin at the moment due to a certain purchase he has just made.

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Session Nineteen
Exploring the Ruins

7 Illumination 508 (cont’d)

After gathering their treasures, the party approaches the wooden double-doors in the northwest corner of the subterranean chamber. Savaric searches the door for traps and finds none. Then he cautiously pushes the heavy, slightly warped doors apart.

The doors open up into a large rectangular chamber. More piping lines the eastern ceiling, leading to, and through, a door in the northeast corner of the room. Another set of doors are set into the western wall and in the northwestern corner. The room is has several mine carts, some overturned, others upright, filled with unprocessed ore. The gleam of minor gemstones flicker in the sorcerous light provided by one of the Ulrich brothers. Mold and fungus gather in patches on the walls and the floor.

Savaric, Surm, and Mõrvar enter the room and begin to search. Surm is accompanied by Rilka, who guards his back. As the party moves slowly about the room, Savaric sees some sort of creature dangling down from the overhead head pipes, reaching out toward Mõrvar. Then he feels a tug on his belt pouch. He turns and sees a small, slightly demonic looking creature with large ears and a mouth full of sharp teeth. It’s wearing some sort of tool belt. The creature gasps as the half-orc swings at it with his sword, yelling that “They’re things hanging from the pipes!”

Mõrvar turns and sees the creature behind him, who has just dropped down from the ceiling. A dagger flicks out toward him and he manages to get out of its way. Surm and Rilka turn toward the ruckus and start to move into action. The half-orc crosses the room the quickly to assist the ranger while Surm begins to ready a spell.

The creature across of Savaric bites him viciously but for very little effect. Meanwhile, Surm hurls a ball of sorcerous frost toward his brother’s antagonist. Soon, both creatures are dispatched and the party are looking over the bodies. None of them had encountered such creatures before. Surm determines that the tools they wear around their belts are essentially lock-picking tools, so his brother collects them for use, and to possibly sell in the city.

Savaric checks the door in the northeast corner and finds no traps. However, he cannot open it as it appears to be blocked with a pile of cold slag. With that exit being blocked, the party decides to try the door to the west. After the usual searches, the ranger opens the doors into a cavern tunnel extending to the left and to the right. Not wanting to go wandering around a cave complex, the group decides to try the northwest door. Once again, Savaric makes the usual searches and opens the doors into a smaller, circular room.

There are doors at the north, west, and east sides of the circle. Near the center of the room is a flat, stone altar. Near the altar are a ring of lit braziers. Above them, the ceiling is nearly black with soot. Some kind of writing is smudged with soot onto the northern door. The party enters the room cautiously and carefully and begin to search it out.

The altar has symbols etched into it depicting an armored dwarf, a swinging hammer, an anvil, and much smaller dwarf-like figures. The door is smudged in soot with characters that none of the party can read. The eastern door has heat emanating from beyond it. This room also has bears patchy colonies of fungus and mold in the far corners and on the walls and floor. Savaric attempts to search the eastern door, but nearly burns himself in the process. Deciding that the writing on the northern door may be a warning of some type, they decide to try the western door.

These doors open up into some sort of catacomb. Surm sends in some magical light so that they can see inside. A narrow corridor goes north and south, with another corridor leading straight ahead into an alcove. The alcove is lined with biers filled with bones and the remains of burial shrouds. Fungus and mold also line the walls and ceiling. They then to decide to split up. Savaric, using his orcish darkvision, heads to the south while Surm and Rilka head to the north with the light.

Savaric turns the corner and sees that the corridor ends in another alcove. The walls are lined with biers and with phosphorescent fungus. The center of the alcove is occupied by the stone effigy of a dwaven warrior, standing on a stone anvil. He bears a shield with some sort of inscription and a metal hammer. Taking in the sight, he decides to report back to his companions.

Meanwhile, Rilka and Surm explore the northern corridor. Turning the corner, they, too, see that it ends in alcove lined with biers and phosphorescent fungus. However, this alcove’s back wall is actually a railing, similar to what one would see on a balcony. Surm hangs back in the light while Rilka moves forward to use her orcish sight. She notes that the balcony overlooks a steep 20’ drop to a cavern below. The cavern is covered in an eerie glow, probably provided by the rows of man-sized mushrooms that occupy much of the chamber. The smell of fungus is strong here and the stuff probably lines the floors and ceiling of the chamber.

By this time, Savaric and Mõrvar have caught up with the others. They decide that they don’t wish to explore the cavern at this time, as there is now telling how deep into the mountain it may go. They decide go check out the stone effigy that Savaric had found.

Surm translates the inscription on the shield from High Dwarven: “Ye that would inherit this weapon, bring me that marvel which can swallow a city, yet can be swallowed by an ant.” The party determines that this probably means water. After a brief discussion, it is determined that Savaric should put some water on the statue’s mouth. Surm backs up into the nearby corridor to avoid the effects of any traps sprung while Savaric steps forward and pours a bit of water on to the carven dwarven lips. A small metallic “click” is heard and the hammer shifts position in the dwarf’s hands. The half-orc takes his prize.

No one can determine what sort of metal the hammer is made of, though it is clearly not steel or iron. After a brief discussion of party treasure distribution, Mõrvar ends up with the hammer. Finally, the party decides to return to the circular altar chamber and continue through the northern door.

After checking the soot-covered doors for traps, Savaric opens them up into a larger, also circular, room. The center of the room is occupied by a raised platform holding a circular table lined with chairs that are thrown about and in disrepair. The floors, ceiling, and walls of the room are covered in mold and fungus and mushrooms grow in batches in the corners. At the far end of the room is a strange creature. It is small, but humanoid, with a large mushroom cap housing sets of misshapen eyes. The cap splits into a wide smile filled with flat, fungoid teeth. Its limbs look like plant stalks that wave out from its stalk-like torso. It waves its limbs at Savaric and slowly makes its way across the room.

The creature finally stops before engaging directly with Savaric. It begins to clear away fungus trails on the floor in the shape of some sort of script. No one can read the script. The creature seems to grow more agitated, its stalks vibrating and waving about as the party attempts to communicate in the various languages known to them—to no avail. It tries to write something else in the floor in some sort of incomprehensible script. Finally, clearly frustrated, the creature returns to the north end of the room and takes up a position near the northern door.

Savaric reveals that the creature is probably a sentient fungus known as a Fungus Leshy. They are guardians of groves of mushrooms and other fungi, protecting and nurturing the colonies. Surm speculates that it may be trying to warn them away from the northern door. After a brief discussion, the party decides to try the eastern door. As they cautiously make their way into the slick-floored room, the Leshy continues to keep his vigil at the northern door, its torso waving back and forth in an alien dance.

Savaric checks the door for the usual traps and opens it into a smaller, square room with counters and a hearth—probably a kitchen. There is a table in the center of the room, surrounded by discarded chairs. Various cutlery and utensils litter the floor of the room. Pipes run in the ceiling and into a small pump near a basin at the corner of the room. There is a door in the east end of the room and in the south end of the room. The party cautiously makes its way inside.

As Savaric begins to search the room, starting with the central table area, Rilka and the others make spread out in the room, taking a look around. The half-orc is looking under the table when he notices that a cloak draped over one of the discarded chairs begins to raise, revealing the form of a hunched figure. All of them begin to hear a wailing moan as the cutlery begins to rise off of the floor. As the others stand watching, waiting to see what happens next, Surm quickly makes his way to the southern door and through it. Suddenly, the cutlery flies through the air, attempting to strike the others. Savaric attempts to attack the floating cloak and Mõrvar moves to close with their foe. The cutlery flies again and then Mõrvar attacks the apparition with a powerful attack. The cutlery falls to the floor.

Mõrvar gathers up the fallen cloak and the party makes their way through the southern door to follow Surm.

Meanwhile, Surm finds himself in a forge. There are several, lit forges in the room, as well as several tubs that have spigots attached to pipes running into the chamber. There are cobwebs and fungus throughout the room. The western door is blocked by two hot braziers burning in front of it. One of the southern doors is blocked with a pile of cold slag while another stands closed.

With everyone getting a better look at the room, it appears that smears and lines in the fungus on the floor indicate that there has been in movement in the room recently. Further, Savaric spies a pair of eyes spying on them from the pipes at the south of the room. Suddenly, flasks of acid begin flying from the cover of the pipes and splashing to the floor. The party engages with the creatures, which take full advantage of the cover provided by the plumbing. Finally, the creatures are dispatched and are revealed to be more of the creatures encountered previously, also hiding in the pipes.

Suddenly, another of the creatures emerges from the non-blocked doorway to the south. This one is obviously female and is a spellcaster, filling the south end of the room with multicolored light, blinding and stunning Rilka and Savaric. Mõrvar and Surm engage in battle with the creature, finally taking her down. The two half-orcs eventually recover from their spell-induced daze.

Finally able to search the room, Surm discovers that the brazier have been rigged to burn anyone who tampers with them. Further, he finds a crossbow trap set up beneath one of the tubs. They also find various masterwork artisan’s tools for weaponsmithing in the room. There are also other works of metal found in the debris near the forges: a battleaxe, a heavy crossbow, and a well-made scabbard. The party then decides to check out the room where the female spellcaster came from.

This room is dominated by three large metal tanks, each with plumbing attached to them. The low, metallic hum of industry fills the room. The floor is slightly slick with water slowly leaking from the pipes. In the far corner of the room is a scattered alchemical lab. Once again, the party encounters a pair of the small, acid-hurling creatures in the plumbing, quickly dispatching despite the cover provided by the pipes. After dealing with the creatures, the party searches the room. Rilka discovers a secret compartment containing a small music box, some discarded gears and other mechanical parts, two scrolls, a small key (like for a cabinet or wardrobe), and a jaunty hat. The group then settles in to decide what to do next. . .

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