Campaign of the Month: September 2018

Shadows of the Rift

Session Eighty-Nine

The Quill is Mightier than the Sword


22 Harvest 509

The Crimson Cord is in Almathriel, guests of Lord Paranthiel Springvale. They are discussing the next mission they plan to undertake—finding and removing the threat of Sakka the Grim, an elven sorcerer who is plaguing the Queen of the Sun, Moon, and Stars of the Elves.

The party is also awaiting the arrival of their guards, which should take place in about eight days’ time. They are traveling overland to the elven capital from Khazak-Ur.

The party discusses the merits of visiting with the Queen either in public or in private, in open court or in a private audience. They eventually decide that Lord Springvale and Surm and can arrive in open court, place word of what they are attempting to do in the ears of the audience, and hope that Her Majesty takes the initiative and calls them in for an audience. The next occurrence of open court is Harvest 27th.

They will also start a buzz in the noble community about Lord Springvale’s dealings with the Cord and how they are being called in to take care of something “important.” This will be done primarily by Lord Springvale’s majordomo, Elbereth Calidor. She has connections amongst the “help” in noble society which will be the best conduit through which to seed information that needs to the get to the nobility.

The party also has Mahgnus arrange for a camp situation for the troops when they arrive. They also decide to purchase a banner around which the camp will rally and it will be marked for those to see who they are.

27 Harvest 509

Mahgnus has made arrangements with the city bureaucracy to bivouac the troops outside the city, near the south gate. Permits are made and paid for and the banner has been commissioned to mark the site for the troops.

That evening is the time of the open court. Surm and Lord arrive in their finery to the event. The are many carriages coming up to the wing of the palace in which the event is held. Surm is resplendent in a set of robes which bear an magically animated design upon their face. Lord Springvale is dressed in a colorful court-appropriate outfit.

They are led through line to the entrance where the two are announced: “Lord Paranthiel Springvale, Lord of Valehome, and Master Surm Ulrich, Voice of the Crimson Cord.”

There are many dignitaries and noble folk milling about the lavishly decorated ballroom. Gauzy streamers festoon the ceiling, as well as small floating lights that illuminate the scene. The two meet several people while mingling.

  • Drannor Raltoris, an old friend of Lord Springvale’s.
  • Nidrol Fennys, a rather snotty and hostile nobleman, apparently one of the old cronies of Lord Springvale’s former beau.
  • Ysildea Beirieth, another old friend of Lord Springvale’s.
  • Ayda Liafiel, a rather hostile and haughty noblewoman.

They also note that Surm is not the only non-elven guest to the festivities. Baldin Windskipper, Herald of Ebongate, is announced from the entryway. She is a very friendly and gregarious halfling woman. At one point she approaches Surm and introduces herself. She has heard of him and the Crimson Cord.

Finally, the royals make their appearance.

  • Pantantriel Theisadalra, Prince of the Stars, ruler of Almathriel
  • Irinriel Thisadalra, Princess of the Moon, heir to the Ruby Throne
  • Imraela Theisadalra, Queen of the Sun, Moon, and Stars

They take their seats on a raised platform and a receiving line forms for courtiers to greet them. At some point, Surm is mingling through the crowd, the Princess of the Moon makes eye contact with him and smiles.

Throughout their mingling, it is clear that Elbereth did her work well. Rumors are already circulating among the nobility that Lord Springvale is planning something big with the help of the renowned adventuring company. Further, it is clear that the fame of the Crimson Cord has even reached the heart of the elven nation.

Later in the evening, Surm and Lord Springvale are greeted by the Princess, who acknowledges recognizing the Crimson Cord. She makes some reference to having been away from the capital for awhile, coincidentally she was apparently in the “the North” (Jossia), though she does not elaborate. Surm and Lord Springvale take the opportunity to indicate to her some of what they intend and how they hope to be of service to her mother, the Queen.

Finally, the evening starts to wind down and everyone starts to head to their carriages and back to their estates.

29 Hearth 509

Lord Sprinvale receives an official summons from Prince Pantantriel for a meeting in the palace. The summons is for himself and “the Crimson Cord.”

30 Harvest 509

The rest of the guards of the Crimson Cord arrive in Almathriel to their camp. Savaric has hunted for fresh meat and is providing kegs of ale. Rilka checks in with Tarben on religious matters. A joyous reunion is had.

1 Hearth 509

Surm, Rilka, Savaric and Lord Springvale return to the palace to meet with Prince Pantantriel. They meet in a conference room in the palace; the Cord, His Highness the Prince, and a retinue of the Prince’s guards. The Cord are dressed in their “Captain Rilka” gear and holding their signature weapons. They note that even though they are meeting the Prince and ruler of the city, the guards do not seem to be worried about them keeping their weapons. Here they discuss the mission that Lord Springvale is commissioning the Cord to undertake—to take care of the “problem” with Sakka the Grim.

Throughout the meeting, the Prince never seems to acknowledge the half-orcs, though he shows them not ill will either. They all discuss the mission and the experience of Quintrell Borathin, the Queen’s Guardsman who was killed by Sakka the Grim and later reincarnated into a halfling by a druid. The Prince, in the end, acknowledges that this would, indeed, be a great boon to Her Majesty and will gladly carry the news of it to her ears. The meeting, overall, seems to have gone positively and in line with the Cord’s plans to help Lord Springvale.

After the meeting, the guards are given leave and the main coterie of the Cord go to the Goblin and Mug to find Quintrell to let him know that are moving forward with the expedition. From him, they find out that the site of the battle he had with Sakka and his beast took place about a hundred miles north of the city in the forests between Almathriel and Imdarinis. As they all sip on their dishwater-tasting ale, Quintrell also reveals that according to rumor, Sakka actually resides on a small demi-plane of his own design. He must use some sort of portal or extra-planar magic to travel back and forth with himself and his creatures.

Quintrell agrees to camp tonight with the guards outside the city and to depart with them tomorrow. Rilka also camps with the guards—Kortash in specific.

Surm goes to the Spire Ring and purchases a gate scroll.

2 Hearth 509

The party departs Almathriel in search of Sakka the Grim. They travel in a column through the forest, due to its thickness. Quintell apparently travels with a set of darts and a board on which he practices his throwing. He and Savaric have a game during one of the breaks in travel. Savaric places a fine showing, critically hitting the board in the bullseye. Quintrell is impressed.

4 Hearth 509

After a couple of days of travel, the party is attacked in the night by a band of werewolves. The party is handily victorious with no casualties or injuries. Savaric tracks the source of the band, finding tracks leading northwest. However, he is persuaded not to follow them, as it is a distraction from the matter at hand.

7 Hearth 509

In the afternoon, Quintrell notifies the Cord that they have reached the site of the battle in which he was killed. Looking about the area, the party finds a nearby pond where old tracks have led. Surm casts detect magic on the pond and does sense a magical aura indicating conjuration magic emanating from the pond. After a bit of planning, he and Savaric decide to cast invisibility on themselves (though Savaric uses Ilona to do this) and walk into the pond holding hands.

As they submerge themselves in the pond, they find that they emerge, after a disorientating shift, from the pond on the other side of a planar barrier. They rise and find themselves in a swamp. On the shore, they see a band of goblins—but goblins unlike any they’ve ever seen. These seem to be mutated in various ways: wings, extra limbs, etc. Savaric resubmerges into the pond to return to the others to report what was seen.

As the others make their way through the pond, Surm casts black tentacles on the band of goblins and manages to get them all grappled in the mystical appendages. He then casts a fireball on the restrained goblins. This manages to take all but one of them out.

They also decide to leave Sorcha, Leif, Sigrid, Garth, Burask, and Jerrik behind in the “real world” to guard the horses and equipment.

They take the goblin prisoner and try to question him. He only speaks goblin, however, and Savaric is the only one that can speak to him. When asked about the location of Sakka the Grim, the goblin tells Savaric that he can be found “in your bunghole.” They finally intimidate him into giving more information—though only that Sakka is deeper in the swamp. Savaric punches the goblin out.

Savaric then tracks the goblins as Surm goes invisible and flies as a small bird to get the lay of the land. From his point of view, he spots, far ahead of them, a hut nestled in the swamp. He also sees a large, quilled beast (probably the famed Bandersnatch from Quintrell’s story) roaming the swarm between them and the hut. There is a also a clearing in the swamp between the party and the Bandersnatch.

After a bit of discussion, they decide that taking out the Bandersnatch might be a good idea and that the hut may be their ultimate destination. They formulate a plan to lure the beast into the clearing where the party can ambush it. Rilka will use the flying ability of the celestial armor to lure the beast and hopefully move fast enough to elude it.

The party sets their ambush and Rilka flies forward to entice the Bandersnatch. She is successful—but the beast is far faster than she anticipated. Further, it is able to launch its quills into the air as massive missile weapons. She is struck by one—and it is incredibly painful. Still, she manages to fly into the clearing, leading the creature hot on her heels.

The ambush is strung. It is difficult to fight—to close with it and strike it with a melee weapon means being pricked by its mighty quills. Tarben manages a critical hit on the creature, but injures himself in the process and Quintrell fires at it with his bow, hitting it in the eye. Surm blinds it with gloomblind bolts. Savaric finally gets the kill.

One of the quills is stuck in Rilka, but Savaric manages to remove it without injuring her further. They also notice that the creature was wearing a collar of some sort—it resembles a ring of thorns. Surm casts detect magic on the collar and determines that it emanates enchantment magic capable of controlling the creature and sending the creature’s current status information to another person.

The party now discusses what their next move is…


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