Campaign of the Month: September 2018

Shadows of the Rift

Session Eighty-One
Secrets Beyond the Gate


12 Transformation 509

The party has just defeated a slew of possessed duergar and their intellect devourers. One has escaped into the next chamber. Savaric pursues his quarry into that room, through two arched doorways. Entering the room, he sees only a closed door and a long-discarded duergar corpse. He begins exploring the room for secret compartments and bumps into something in the doorway that he can’t see. He backs off and is clawed by a formerly-invisible intellect devourer! He fires a barrage of arrows into the creature and slays it.

Meanwhile, Rilka is guarding the open doorway in the previous room while the others wait for Savaric to search the area.

They retreat into the larger room where they battled the other duergar and head into the smaller adjacent room that Rilka has been guarding. The southern wall has a locked door that Surm attempts to open with the make-shift key they found—but he breaks the key! Fortunately, he has the mending spell and repairs it, and then tries again. He opens the lock successfully.

Savaric searches the way down a short corridor into another small room. This room is found to be empty, save for another locked door. Surm unlocks the door and Savaric and Rilka proceed into a long, narrow room—Rilka casting detect magic and Savaric looking for secret traps or passages.

Rilka detects a magic aura in the area just as they are assaulted by a fireball that ignites right in their midst. Savaric manages to save himself with his quick reflexes, evading the explosion completely. Rilka is well-served by her quick reflexes as well, though she does get more mildly burned. The conflagration reveals an illithid standing toward the back of the room, waiting for them.

As the other members of the party, Surm, Kortash, and Burask, file into the room to help deal with the new threat, two more fireballs ignite, engulfing them all. Most manage to not take the brunt of the assault, but Kortash is badly burned. He retreats into the previous room. The explosions reveal an additional two illithids in the room.

After a brief battle, the party’s superior numbers and Savaric’s wizardry with the bow bring them victory against the mind flayers.

Savaric searches the room and finds a secret panel in the wall. Opening it reveals a narrow corridor. Rilka casts detect magic down the corridor and detects the presence of a magical aura. Surm steps forward and attempts to identify it—only finding that it is a strong aura; he cannot determine the type of magic being employed. He then, with the encouragement of his friends, casts dispel magic against the likely trap. The magic dissipates.

Savaric makes his way down the corridor, looking for more surprises. The corridor leads to another door. Rilka discerns a magical aura on the door. Surm comes forward to identify it and, once again, determines that it is strong but cannot identify the kind of magic being employed. Again, with the encouragement of the others, Surm manages to dispel the magic on the door. It is unlocked.

Savaric opens the door and proceeds into the next room, which is empty. Rilka detects no magical auras—but does notice that as Savaric is moving about the room, he tends to avoid the center. When she points this out, Savaric doesn’t know what she is talking about. Surm comes in and begins looking around and discovers that there is an illusion in the center of the room hiding a large cabinet made of the same strange metal found throughout the complex. He tries to get the others to see it—Rilka’s senses manage to penetrate the illusion, but Savaric still doesn’t know what they are talking about—the room is clearly empty.

Surm opens the cabinet, revealing its interior to Savaric as if a portal had opened in the center of the room. Inside the cabinet is a large chest made of the same strange metal, a rack with a number of wands handing from them, and another rack containing a collection of scrolls. They still discern no magical auras in the area. Surm determines that the Ysar could be using a spell called magic aura to mask the magical auras in the room. It is actually a fairly simple bit of sorcery.

They empty the cabinet and begin going over the contents. The chest is not locked and contains a great deal of strangely minted oval coins of platinum, gold, and silver. There is also an assortment of gemstones and some vials containing magical potions.

They decided to take their finds back to the camp and stash it there—it will soon be time for Surm to collect Mõrvar from Kalimsport anyway. Surm wants to use the Ysarian teleportation device they found in one of the chambers. He steps onto the platform—and a series of images begin speeding across the back wall of the room. He concentrates and the images stop on a view of the campsite pulled from Surm’s mind. Savaric walks through the image and instantly finds himself in the camp—scaring a few of the guards by his sudden arrival.

Surm uses the Agent’s Clasp to message Alasir about the arrivals of the others. He sends the others through in the same manner as Savaric—but when Kortash and Burask try to follow Rilka through, they are stopped—Surm can only send one at time or it breaks his concentration. Finally, after everyone has made it through, he sends himself to the University of Kalimsport.

Surm heads out onto the grounds to find his brother, Mõrvar. Mõrvar gives Surm some teleportation scrolls and returns the crystal ball. Mõrvar also shares the information he has gained concerning metal golems. According to the sage he spoke with, if this Ysarian construct acts like ones in their time, then it will be very hard to damage except with the hardest weapons (damage reduction vs. adamantine), it may be immune to most magics, and may also be able to breathe a poison gas.

They head to the Market District to gather magical and adamantine arrows for Savaric to help in their fight against the golem. Surm messages Rilka (through Alasir) that they will return to the camp in the morning.

Meanwhile, Savaric goes hunting for some rabbits to placate the young pyrohydra with that is living in the caves near the Ysar complex. He goes in and, after a while, actually manages to get the beast to act in a friendly manner toward him. He leaves the cave and goes hunting again with an impatient Ghost.

13 Transformation 509

This morning, Surm and Mõrvar teleport back to the camp and meet up with the rest of the Crimson Cord. Surm begins identifying their magical finds. They also spend a good deal of time planning against the golem.

They eventually decide that Surm will return to the harmonious crystal room and gain true seeing from one of the crystals. They then head to one of the more central chambers—where they had previously found a large, alien throne—and begin exploring again from there.

Savaric and Rilka search an adjacent door and open it, leading into another room. Surm can see—though the others cannot—that there is an invisible duergar in the doorway. He tries to warn everyone as it runs a gauntlet toward Burask, who is standing in front of Surm, guarding him. The duergar attacks Burask, rendering visible, and the others work quickly to dispatch it, though it cut a nice slice out of Burask.

Surm casts black tentacles into the room ahead in case there are other threats. Rilka and Savaric carefully step into the room, trying to avoid being grabbed by the magical appendages. Rilka can discern, by the curve of various tentacles, that four other figures have been captured by the spell. She immediately goes in to try and slay them. Mõrvar steps in and uses storm step to cross through the tentacles (and the trapped figures) to the other side. He heads up into an open doorway to another room.

Meanwhile, Surm, Kortash, and Burask, head around to try and get to the other side of the tentacle room through an adjacent corridor. They find that the corridor opens into a room with strange, metal furniture—and two illithids! The three engage the mind flayers who notice their entrance and turn to approach in kind.

Mõrvar, in the next room, sees a strange tableau: there is some sort of planar gate at the far end of this room. In the center of the room is an Ysarian crystal sculpture of some sort, its abstract design slightly disturbing to the eye. Also into the room are three intellect devourers and two very sinister looking illithid-like creatures, but with tails and spiked tentacles. Mõrvar is assaulted in both mind and body by the creatures and one of the duergar that has followed him into the room from tentacle room. He calls out that he found the gate and he tries to make his way back out of the room without being surrounded.

Meanwhile, the tentacles continue to squeeze the trapped duergar which force their parasitical intellect devourers to emerge into the tentacles. Rilka continues to fight, as does Savaric. As Mõrvar storm steps into the tentacle room from the gate room, Savaric fires at the intellect devourers and duergar in pursuit of Mõrvar.

Surm, Kortash, and Burask, finally dispatch one of the illithids, but the other one has made his way into the tentacle room. Savaric makes short work of the creature in a rain of arrows.

The entryway to the gate room is now guarded by intellect devourers. Surm casts black tentacles into that room, trapping the aberrations. The two large ilithids escape the tentacles and move toward the gate. Then, the party lines up in preparation for Surm’s other plan—a dimension door bringing most of them right up to the illithids!

They fight one of the illithids, bringing him down fairly quickly, leaving only the intellect devourers trapped in the tentacles and the last strange illithid. Surm glances into the nearby gate and sees what looks like a vat with a giant brain resting in it. As the party turns their attention to the final illithid, Surm and Rilka feel a force try to grasp control of their minds…and both realize that the power came from within the gate…

Session Eighty
Delving Deeper


11 Transformation 509

The party is in a chamber containing five glowing crystals, each launching beams of energy to the center. Then the crystals begin to shudder and a narrow hole seems to be ripped through the scrim of reality. The tip of a large pincher begins to emerge from the rip in the air…

Rilka steps forward and places her enchanted falchion between one of the beams and the center. She is nearly pushed back from the force of the power, but holds steady. The hole through which the pincher protrudes stops growing, though the appendage continues to grope about.

Surm casts dispel magic on the crystals. The beams stop, the crystals stop shuddering, and the hole in reality closes. The pincher, cut off from its host, drops in a bloody mass to the floor.

Surm, Rilka, and Savaric then debate on whether or not to take the claw out of the complex, back to camp, and destroy it. They are concerned with the possibility of its owner scrying it and finding them to look for revenge. Surm identifies the creature as a glabrezu demon from the Abyss. They ultimately decide to remove the claw and burn it outside.

Kortash and Burask carry the claw as the party, with an intellect devourer held in a stasis field, backtracks to the entrance of the Ysar complex. As they descend into the cavern where they fought the pyrohydra, Savaric is approached by an angry young pyrohydra. He attempts to calm it with his ranger abilities, but fails. Eventually, he manages to calm the angry beast down and give it some food, allowing him to catch up with the others without the creature pursuing them.

When the party emerges from the mine entrance to the camp, they find that night has just fallen. They explain the situation to Alasir, who orders guards to set up a bonfire for the party. Surm tells the story of what happened, but in a very dry and matter-of-fact manner. Still, most are suitably impressed with the way the Cord handled the demonic entity.

That evening, Surm is scried by Mõrvar, who communicates what has been happening in Kalimsport and also asks to be teleported back to join the others in a day. At Savaric’s prompting, Mõrvar is also asked to conduct research on iron golems while he is in the city.

The party then has a debate on what to do with the pyrohydra youngling they have discovered, but come to no real conclusion before calling it a night.

12 Transformation 509

The party wakes the next morning more refreshed and ready to face the horrors of the Ysar complex. They debate some more on what to do to handle the iron golem sentinel that they have encountered, but come to no real conclusion. Ilona advises Savaric to use her to sneak past the golem—he should do it and not tell the others, because they’ll just tell him ‘no’. Savaric, instead, suggests the idea to the others and finds the idea rejected.

Surm leaves his specimen in stasis with Mahgnus for safekeeping before returning to the complex.

When they enter the caverns before the Ysar settlement, they find that the young pyrohydra is sleeping. They continue on to the complex. They return to one of the “hub” rooms within the complex and enter a chamber a that they have not explored before.

This room’s stone walls, floor, and ceiling is filled with crystalline veins. In the center of the room is a plain stone panel, 5’ by 5’. Rilka detects a moderate magic aura on the panel but can tell nothing more. Surm does the same and determines that the magic is based on conjuration—which could mean teleportation of some sort. But it could also mean summoning. Savaric begins searching the room and finds that, when he touches the panel, magical energy starts to flow into him, making his hair stand up on end. Surm steps forward to test out and finds the same—but also can tell that the magic is tapping into the same source that he uses to fuel his own magic casting. He steps examines the panel further and discovers its purpose.

Though it is of an entirely alien design, the panel and crystalline veins seem to be linked somehow to form a magical teleportation device that will allow an arcane spellcaster to stand on the panel, select a location, and teleport there. They must concentrate to activate the device and to select their destination, but they could conceivably travel to anywhere on this plane of existence. It is a one-way trip for one person.

Nothing else of interest is found in the room.

They move on through one of the additional unlocked doors and enter an empty chamber. From there, they descend into the room in which they destroyed the carnivorous blob. They decide to search the room, now that the threat has been dealt with. As Savaric conducts his search, three of the possessed duergar emerge from a doorway adjacent to the room. They end up chasing one of the duergar into the next room and Burask is mortally injured, but miraculously saved by Rilka’s efforts. Eventually, the duergar and their intellect devourers are dispatched.

Savaric finds a secret door in the room and the party follows him into a new chamber containing four thrumming crystals, their hums in sync with each other. They opt not to disturb the crystals, though they did detect evocation magic emanating from them. They carefully move on through one of the doors into another “hub” room containing several doors. According to their previous interaction with the duergar priestess, they are in an area that is trapped.

Detecting magic, Surm determines that a moderately strong aura is located in the center of the room. He uses his arcane mark to mark the edges of the aura, making the possible trap visible.

They move on through another door and come to a large room with strange, crystalline mosaics embedded in the walls. Inside are seven of the possessed duergar—which are eventually dispatched after a long battle…

Session Seventy-Nine
Harried Harmonies


11 Transformation 509

As the party stands in the room with three dead illithids, Surm and Savaric search and loot the bodies. All they carry are the dark cloaks and the strange serrated swords they have encountered before. Rilka is still injured from her encounter with the carnivorous blob. Surm asks her if she wants to pull back and leave or stay. She says she wants to stay. Savaric pulls out his wand of cure serious wounds and gives her some healing, but her life-force is still drained.

At the north end of the room is a portcullis. They peer through it to see walls with veins of multicolored crystal. In the center of the room is a large metal humanoid construct, seemingly made of the same strange metal that is used on the doors. They decide to leave the golem be.

They, instead, open the southern door to reveal a room with more of the crystalline veins running through the walls. The floor is comprised of tiles of different sized and different colored crystals. Savaric heads into the seemingly empty room to search it out and, after a couple of steps, feels a wave of magic wash over him, filling the room. Suddenly appearing in the chamber are three large creatures—skeletal with cadaverous insectoid bodies that include a long tail with a stinger. As the party engages with one of the monstrosities, the other two disappear. Savaric finishes off the creature with a barrage of arrows that send it flying back. The other creatures seem to have left.

At this point, the party decides to backtrack to the entry room of the complex and try another door that was left untouched on their previous foray into the Ysarian city. This door opens into a small, empty room. They then return to the room with the strange statue and head into a door they left behind. This reveals a room occupied by three of the foul intellect devourers that they have encountered before—only this time, they do not have duergar hosts. The party goes in and does battle with the creepy aberrations. Two are completely slaughtered, but one (dubbed “Thad”) is mostly intact—having only taken damage from Savaric’s arrows. Surm draws the gold rod given to him by the scholars at the University of Kalimsport and says the command word. Thad’s corpse is suddenly enveloped in a clear sphere of magical force that can be moved by Surm’s mind.

They open a door at the north end of this room to reveal with crystalline veins running through its walls and a series of multi-colored crystal tiles set into the floor. Surm casts detect magic and determines that the floor is, indeed, magicked. He decides to try and dispel the magic instead of possibly summoning more strange creatures to fight. After two failed attempts to dispel the magic, he gives up. Rilka enters the room and springs the trap—summoning two of the strange bony, cadaverous insectoid creatures that they encountered before.

As the fight rages on, Surm realizes that these are summoned creatures, and thus can be dispelled. He casts dispel magic, sending one of the creatures back from whence it came. He casts again, dispatching the second one as well.

Taking the south door of this room, the party discovers two more illithids, which are quickly dispatched. This room has a doorway leading to another room.

This room is dominated by a large metal and crystal abstract statue (8’ tall and 5’ wide). It radiates a faint magical aura. There is another door beyond the statue. After examining the statue extensively, and being disturbed by its alien design, the only thing that is determined about it is that is is eerily warm to the touch. They move on to the next door, which is locked—though, with the makeshift key they got off the duergar, Surm makes short work of it.

Opening the door, another long, narrow room is revealed. The center of the room holds five large crystals arranged in a square, with the fifth crystal in the center. The crystals are about 1’ wide and 4’ tall. They are clear, but iridescent. Surm casts detect magic on them and determines that not only are they strongly magical, but their type of magic is shifting wildly.

Surm enters the room. As soon as he hears his footfall hit the stone, the crystals start thrumming in discordant frequencies. After various experiments with the crystals, it appears that they do nothing but hum as soon as a sound is discerned in the room. Nothing blocks Surms path to the next door. Rilka hits upon the idea of trying to match the tone of one of the crystals to see if that does anything. After a bit of persuading, Surm pulls out his flute and matches his tone to one of the crystals.

The crystal begins to glow and a Surm is then bathed in energy from the crystal. He feels a force within him making him stronger and he finds that he can direct it to where he needs it most—though the effect is probably temporary—only lasting a day. He decides to make himself physically stronger.

He tries another crystal and finds that its energy, which also emerges from the crystal and blasts him, is for healing. Excitedly, Rilka tries singing to the tone and succeeds in healing herself of most of her life loss.

They try a third crystal and Surm is blasted with negative energy—draining him of both life and vitality. He has lost the temporary boost to his strength as well. He matches tone with the healing crystal and restores himself.

Needing to know what all the crystals do, Surm tries a fourth crystal. This one bestows true seeing on all in the room (Rilka, Surm, and Savaric—the half-orc guards remain in the previous chamber). This, too, is known to be a temporary effect—lasting only about half an hour.

Finally, there is the fifth and final crystal. Surm matches its tone and energy shoots out from it to the other crystals, pooling the energy in a nexus above the fifth crystal. Suddenly, an image appears in the air above the crystal. It is a fearsome sight—the creature is grotesquely large with four arms—two puny, but two huge and ending in lobster-like pinchers. Spines line its back and horns top its head.

Everyone in the room hears, in their mind, a terrible voice saying something in a language that none of them understand. Surm tries to communicate with it, to convince it that they can’t understand it. The creature repeats his words, clearly frustrated. Surm tries to communicate some more, but to no avail. It finally just utters an unknown, but curt, phrase.

Then the crystals begin to shudder and a narrow hole seems to be ripped through the scrim of reality. The tip of a large pincher begins to emerge from the rip in the air…

Session Seventy-Eight
Deeper and Deeper


11 Transformation 509

As Rilka and Surm make ready to return to the University and then return to the Ysarian complex, they are approached by a harried young half-elf woman asking for Mõrvar. In the course of the conversation, it is revealed that her name is Ariana Oland and she is a member of “The Brotherhood (she’s going to have to speak to Morvar about the name)” and that it’s important that she speak with him. Surm indicates that he is not here in Kalimsport, but that they would be seeing him very soon. So she convinces them to pass on her information.

Another member of the Brotherhood, named Liran Rimsey, a chandler (or candle-maker), has not been at work in several days. He was supposed to attend a meeting of the Brotherhood at The Torn Grimoire, a tavern on the east side of Kalimsport, but he did not show. His wife says that he has not come home, either.

Ariana thanks them for passing on the information. They have notified the City Watch, but watches are not investigative organizations—they just keep the peace. And, they probably aren’t going to help a half-elf anyway (at least, according Ariana). She also indicates that Mõrvar can come to the Torn Grimoire to find her if he needs more information.

Rilka and Surm return from Kalimsport with Kortash and Burask in tow. When they return, the soldiers of the Crimson Cord are holding a line at the entrance to the mine side-by-side with Doranthanel’s mercenaries.

The two half-orc brothers are regaled with welcomes from their comrades-in-arms while Surm and Rilka update Mõrvar on the news they received from Ariana Oland, his Brotherhood recruit, concerning the missing Liran Rimsey. Mõrvar decides that he needs to go to Kalimsport and deal with this situation quickly. So he convinces Surm to teleport with him back to the city with his horse and the crystal ball they acquired in the Tomb of Secrets. The two brothers teleport to Kalimsport, though Surm returns after an hour having purchased more teleport scrolls.

The remaining Cord members (Rilka, Surm, and Savaric), along with Kortash and Burask, descend back into the mine and return to the Ysarian complex.

They decided to take another route this time, going through one of the locked doors near the entrance. As per usual, Savaric is checking for traps and signs of secret passages while Rilka takes up Mõrvar’s usual role of casting detect magic along the way. After Surm unlocks the door with the make-shift key they found on the duergar, Savaric opens the door.

The walls of the room beyond are filled with veins of crystal. There is also a cloaked figure—an illithid—apparently feeding on a duergar. They attack and soon dispatch the strange aberration. Surm collects its strange, serrated sword. From here, they move on to an adjacent room.

This room is dominated by a large pool of crimson liquid ringed by bricks of the strange soft metal they’ve encountered on the doors of the complex. When they enter the room, the liquid rises and reveals itself to be a sentient blob!

After a hard-won battle, in which Surm figures out that cold will do the most harm to the creature, and that it can be contained by a wall of force, the blob is defeated—but not without cost. Rilka, who was struck by the bizarre creature, had her life-force drained severely.

The party backtracks a bit and tries a different door. This door opens into a small room containing another illithid! Surm quickly shuts the door and the group has a conference on what to do next. They decided to head into the room—and find that another illithid has joined the first!

After a brief battle, the party dispatches the foul creatures—though they are stumped as to where the other illithid came from. Finally, Surm figures out that the northern wall of the room is an illusion, hiding a doorway into another room. He struggles with getting the others to realize this and finally just dispels it.

The secret doorway opens into a room containing a statue, standing about 8’ high and 5’ wide. It is comprised of odd, disconcerting, curves and angles. Staring at the piece too long almost makes one nauseous. There is another arched doorway leading to another room beyond.

The room beyond is empty, but does have two doors leading out of it. Surm unlocks the locked northern door and reveals an empty room, though it does contain three more doors to traverse. They take one of the northern doors and it leads to a short corridor, ending in a locked door. They decide to try the other northern door.

This one leads to a room with a portcullis to the north, a door to the south, and three illithids conferring together in the middle of the room.

In the course of the battle with the creatures, Kortash is blinded by the powers of the mind flayers. Rilka, however, when the battle is done, is able to cure him of his malady.

Session Seventy-Seven
A New Threat Appears


10 Transformation 509

Continuing through the Ysarian complex, having just defeated two more duergar possessed by the hideous intellect devourers, Mõrvar searches the bodies of the slain dwarves. He finds a make-shift ivory key on one of them. This is given to Surm. The party decides to backtrack and deal with the duergar in the “portcullis room” they first encountered when they entered the complex.

After a brief battle, the duergar—and the intellect devourers within them—are defeated. After searching the room and finding nothing of interest, the portcullis is wedged open by a pin found on the device and Kortash and Burask are assigned to guard that entryway.

Passing from the portcullis room and into an adjacent empty room, the party carefully makes their way with Savaric searching and Mõrvar casting detect magic. From the empty room, they travel down a corridor ending in a shut door. Savaric opens the door carefully and spies three of the possessed duergar inside a room whose walls is lined with crystal fragments. He quickly shuts the door as the duergar look in his direction.

The party then lines up for an assault on the room. They find that more of the duergar has entered the room from an adjacent room, making seven of the creatures altogether. Also, the light from Rilka’s weapon reflects off of the crystals, attempting to disorient everyone within. In the course of the fight, Surm turns the tide by casting a Wall of Bone to separate the groups of duergar, making them easier to dispatch.

Eventually, the duergar are defeated, as well as the foul devourers that occupied their bodies.

After searching the room, as per usual, the group descends into the room from which the extra duergar came. The room is searched and found to be empty. From there, Rilka searches an arched doorway leading into another room. She sees four, strange, cloaked figures standing in the room. One of them turns toward her and she hears, in his mind, “Turn around and say nothing.”

Savaric immediately goes and notifies the others. When they regroup and enter the room, there are no figures. Savaric searches the room and finds nothing of interest. There is a door leading out of the room, but it is locked.

Surm uses the make-shift key they found and unlocks the door. This leads into a small room with discarded duergar bodies strewn about the room in various states of decay. From here is another locked door, which Surm opens. The door leads into a narrow, but empty room decorated with mosaics of strange angles and designs on the walls.

Savaric checks out one of the doors in the room, finding it to be trap-free and unlocked. This leads into a seemingly empty room. They enter the room and Savaric and Mõrvar search it out. Savaric finds a secret panel in the floor. Inside is a chest.

The chest is locked, but Surm (after a search for traps) unlocks it. Savaric opens the chest, seeing a variety of items, strange coins, gems, and a large red gem. Savaric instantly feels something pulling on his essence, trying to draw him into the red gem, but he manages to fight off the sensation. Surm examines the gem and determines that it is a soul-trapping gem.

Among the objects are strangely designed wands of various crystals, an assortment of vials, and scrolls. Surm identifies the objects as magical and determines their purposes.

From this room is a door to the north and a door to the west. They are searched and determined to be trap-free. Savaric opens the door to the north and peers inside. The next room has a group of duergar surrounding a female duergar in ceremonial robes. They don’t appear have the slack-eyed look of the possessed duergar.

Surm thinks the group should parley with the aware duergar. The party gets ready for attack and they enter after Surm announces in undercommon that he wishes to parley.

The female appears to be in charge. She is a priestess of some sort—she wears a strange symbol attributed to some demonic force.

The duergar have been here for a few weeks. About a week after they occupied the area, a vortex opened in one of the deeper chambers and the intellect devourers and their masters came. They don’t know much about the masters, but they seem to have mental abilities and also devour the brains of their victims.

The duergar and the Cord negotiate an alliance—they will escort this contingent of duergar out of the complex and the Cord will have access to treasures found.

Savaric is sent to look for Kortash and Burask, to make sure they’re alright, now that they know that another danger is wandering about the complex. He makes his way back to the portcullis room and finds that two cloaked figures are leaning over the unconscious forms of the two half-orcs, tentacles emerging from their hoods that are wrapped about the two guards’ heads.

Savaric attacks and quickly dispatches the two cloaked figures. He examines the the half-orcs and finds that they are unconscious and near death. He runs back to the rest of the Cord and reports. They and the duergar make their way back to the portcullis room and they see the prone bodies of Kortash and Burask for themselves. They escort the duergar the rest of the way out of the complex.

Outside the complex, the group sees the infant pyrohydra, fat and sleeping corpse of its parent, apparently having cannibalized the corpse for food. The duergar are escorted to the deeper cavern and part ways with the Cord.

The party returns to Kortash and Burask. They decide that Surm and Rilka will teleport back to the University of Kalimsport with the half-orc guards to get help. They’ll also take the body of one of the strange hooded creatures for identification. They also take one of the strange serrated blades the creatures are carrying. Mõrvar and Savaric will return to the surface to the camp. Surm uses his Agent’s Clasp to contact Alasir and lets him know that there is an additional danger and to watch the entrance with Doranthanel’s help.

Back in Kalimsport

Rilka and Surm, along with the inert bodies of Kortash and Burask, arrive at the University of Kalimsport dorms to get some assistance. Kortash and Burask are placed in bunks, along with the covered body of the strange creature which assaulted them.

Surm tells Rilka, “Go to the temple and speak with the Abbot. Remind him of who we are and of our current crisis. Say something like, ‘after the impressive display by Bishop Lynel Winnarrow at Cranbarrow Keep, we knew Halor would be able to help our friends.’” That should spark his memory of who we are if he didn’t remember already." Rilka leaves for the temple of Halor.

Surm grabs the first person he sees and say, “You must retrieve Mater Kerendal and inform him that Surm Ulrich has just teleported into the dorms with an extra-planar mystery. I need him, the local expert on extra-planar beings, and the Chancellor if possible to come and meet me here immediately. The lives of two men are hanging by a thread.”

Surm waits in dorm room with the two half-orcs and the strange corpse. Soon he is joined by Master Kerendal and a strikingly beautiful woman with pale skin, dark hair, and whose eyes are two different colors—one blue, one green. Kerendal introduces her as Haether Dallen, a Professor of Philosophy, Metaphysics, and Comparative Religions from Yew College within the University.

“Professor Dallen is probably our most experienced lecturer in the matter of extra-planar beings,” Master Kerendal. “She is also immediately available,” he says with a smile.

Professor Dallen nods. “I was given the impression that this was an emergency of some sort?” she asks, her voice resonant.

Meanwhile, at the Temple of Halor, Rilka waits as the Abbot, Eddard Elbrynn, is fetched. Soon, she is led to Abbot’s chambers in the temple. The Abbot greets her, stating that he remembers her as being a member of the Crimson Cord and inquires as to the nature of her current emergency.

Surm says, “Thank you for coming so quickly.” He pulls the blanket off of the strange corpse.

“These were seen squatting over my friends, one on each. Now they won’t wake up and our curative and restorative magics seemed to have no effect. We need to know what they are and what damage they may have done to save my friends. All I know is that they seem to invade your mind, do have magical abilities, and per an on-site witness, arrived through a vortex of probable Ysar origin. Oh, and wield these strange serrated blades. My companion is retrieving a priest of Halor, but if you have any knowledge of these things and their mode of attack on my friends, that would be helpful.”

Professor Dallen goes to the corpse and begins examining it. “I have read of such creatures in some ancient and forgotten texts, but never thought to actually set eyes upon one,” she says. “You have stumbled upon something exceeding rare—and dangerous.”

She points to the creature. “This is, I believe, an Illithid, a creature possibly from another plane, possibly from simply so deep in the underground kingdoms we know not from where they come. They are cerebraphages—brain eaters—as well as being slavers. They serve their own dark purposes, purposes unknown to us.”

“I’m not sure what they may have done to these two. There are no wounds, so I don’t think they tried to devour their brains. They could be under some sort of psychic duress. It is also possible that the Illithids attempted to implant some sort embryo within them. We should probably get them to our Department of Medicine and see if the healers there can make a determination.”

Surm agrees to transferring them to the Department of Medicine.

“Professor Dallen, if you and your colleagues in Medicine can collaborate and help my friends, then the Crimson Cord will officially donate this ‘Illithid’ to you and your department for study.”

“After you have reported off to whom ever is in charge in Medicine, I would appreciate a report from you on everything you know or suspect about these creatures. We’ve slain two, but there are still two unaccounted for and I have a team still on site and at risk of attack. Plus, the vortex through which they reportedly arrived is still active, more could come.”

Surm also tells her about the intellect devourers they’ve encountered. Surm leaves a note for Rilka at the gate telling her where they’ve moved them to.

Professor Dallen says, "We will certainly do everything we can for your friends, regardless of the donation. Though the thought of being able to examine this creature is exciting—let’s get them squared away first. I will prepare a brief on what I know of these creatures—it is not a lot. They are so rarely encountered. But I will give you what information I can.

“The Intellect Devourers are another creature, related to but not entirely the same as, the Illithids. Some say they spawn from the same plane of existence. Others say they are from elsewhere, but have shared interests and abilities and are just natural allies. Regardless—that you have encountered both means that your troupe may be in a very dangerous site indeed.”

Surm uses the clasp to message Alasir. “Alasir, we are in Kalimsport, Kortash and Burask are being assessed at the University. Remember, there is still an open vortex down in the ruins, so, we can’t be sure that only two more Illithids are running around, they could bring friends. Ask Morvar to keep watch all night on that entrance, he needs very little sleep.”

As Surm waits, Professor Dallen brings him the following report: A Report on the Illithids

Meanwhile, at the temple of Halor…

Rilka replies that she is pleased that the Abbott remembers her and the Crimson Cord. She is exceedingly glad he would see her at such short notice.

“The temple has assisted us on many dire-filled occasions. Obviously, the affair with Bishop Winnarrow here in Kalimsport, but also in Aldasar and Jenna. While assisting an expedition in the elven lands, two of our number were attacked by horrific creatures.”

She explains the situation, including what has already been done to aid the brothers.

“If the damage is of a mental nature, what has been done appears to be outside of my abilities. I’ve come to ask for Halor’s help.”

The Abbot says, “I know not what I can do to help, but I will bring Halor’s blessing with me. Take me to the two fallen men and I will see what I can do.” He grabs a cloak and staff and motions toward the door.

When Rilka and Abbot Elbrynn arrive at the University, Surm catches her up on the situation.

Soon thereafter, an Esteemed Sage from the Department of Medicine, Gerens Meary, approaches you all. “I’m afraid I have some grave news,” he says. “It is our belief that something has been implanted into these two men’s brains. According to Professor Dallen, it could be the young of these strange creatures you have brought our attention to.” He sighs and rubs the bridge of his nose. “Our chiurgeons could try and remove the parasites—but there is much risk. Should we fail, the men will be mentally disabled, if they survive at all. Magic may restore their faculties, if they survive. It’s hard to say. We are prepared to try if you give us leave.”

Even with Rilka’s dusky green complexion, her sudden pallor is obvious. “If those abominations have done as you say, I see no option but to remove the parasites.” She turns to the Abbott. “Is there any way you might assist? I realize that there may be little the power of Halor can do to remove the parasites from our friends, but my hope is that any potential damage could be repaired”

The Abbot says, “I will make myself available for the healers. Please, Master Meary, take me to the victims and the chiurgeons and I will provide whatever assistance I am able.”

Master Meary escorts the Abbot to the surgical rooms where Kortash and Burask are lying in state.

Surm and Rilka wait in fretful anticipation for the outcome of the surgery.

The University does what it can to make their wait comfortable, bringing them food and beverages and providing a comfortable room to wait in.

It’s a long wait.

After about 6 hours—which brings them to after sundown that day—the Esteemed Sage, Master Meary, returns with Abbot Elbrynn.

“It was a delicate procedure for both of them, and it was touch-and-go for a bit with Kortash, but we manged to remove the parasites without destroying their brains. Abbot Elbrynn here has performed a Restoration on both them and so there should be no residual damage. They are resting comfortably and should be able to leave in the morning.”

“The creatures in their brain were devouring the matter of the organ. It was—gruesome—to behold. The creatures still live, but are currently being held in an alchemical fluid. They are very—hearty.”

“At any rate, your friends will live and even thrive after the experience. Thank whatever gods you give homage to for that.”

Rilka clasps the hands of both men in turn. “Thank you both. We owe you much.” She turns to Master Meary. “Can they see visitors? Or do they need to rest?”

“It would be best to let them rest. They’ve been through an ordeal,” Master Meary says.

Rilka nods, “I see. Well, then we’ll see them in the morning.” She turns to the Abbott, “May I escort you back to the temple?”

Surm updates Alasir: “Kortash and Burask had to undergo surgery to remove parasitic embryos from their brains presumably implanted by the Illithids. Then receive divine restorations to repair the damage. Their survival was a close call. It’s imperative that you not be taken unaware by these creatures. We can not undo the damage caused in the field and even here it was narrow chances. We got lucky. Keep the entrance lit and covered by range weapons. These creatures attack telepathically. Alert the elf camp too.”

Along the way back to the temple of Halor, Rilka thanks the Abbot again. “We will soon return to the East, but I would like to meet again with you tomorrow. I wish to make a donation to the Temple in recognition of all that has been done.”

“That would be appreciated. I will see you then. May Halor’s light illuminate you all and bring you healing.”

“And may your heart be filled with Bruni’s courage and valor.”

Rilka heads back to the University to talk with Surm about their plans for the morning. Now that it’s just the two of them, she’s clearly unhappy about not getting to see Kortash until tomorrow morning.

They discuss the donation to Halor and the need to purchase more teleport scrolls.

Surm will asks professor Dallen if she has any use for the remains of Intellect Devourers? If yes, does she have a means of preserving them for transport. If so, then then will attempt to collect a body for her, intact if possible.

Professor Dallen says, “We could use a specimen in the department, if possible. However, I do not wish you put any of your team in undue danger to secure one. But, an intact specimen would be quite useful for research in a variety of fields.” She will check with the Department of Magical Artifacts to see if they have something that will help with that and get back with them in the morning.

11 Transformation 509

Rilka gets up very early in the morning and quietly leaves for the infirmary, leaving a note for Surm.

One of the Healers with the Department of Medicine lets Rilka into the infirmary. Both of the half-orcs are awake and having a light breakfast. They are lying in beds but seem to be okay. They smile as she comes in and Kortash and says, “Hey.”

Meanwhile, Surm is approached by Professor Dallen. She hands him a golden rod, etched with arcane runes, with a clear crystal at its tip. “The Department of Magical Artifacts gave me this. They are sometimes used by the Department of Natural Philosophy to collect specimens.”

She gives him the command word for the rod. “It has a range of about 40 feet. It will place the specimen in temporal stasis AND place it within a telekinetic sphere for transport. The bearer of the rod will be able move the sphere with their mind. The specimen will be preserved until the effect is dispelled by our people here at the University.”

“The rod can only be used once. They are very expensive and difficult to fashion, so please be careful with it.”

“Is this to be used on a live specimen?” Surm asks.

“Not necessarily. In fact, a live specimen will probably be too dangerous to bring here. No, the stasis field will keep anything from happening to the dead specimen—deterioration, further damage, that sort of thing. The telekinetic sphere will make it easier to transport.”

Back in the infirmary, Rilka smiles at the brothers in return, then sits down carefully on the edge of Kortash’s bed. “Hey,” she replies, laying a light hand on his arm. “It’s good to see you.” Rilka looks at them both, “You had us worried.”

Burask smiles and points at his brother. “I blame him,” he says, smiling. Kortash makes a face at Burask in return.

“In all seriousness, the Healers described some of what happened to us, but neither of us remember much,” Kortash says. We were guarding the exit to that room, like you asked. Next thing either of remember is a searing headache and someone jumping us. I vaguely remember seeing tentacles, like on the squids we see at the docks of Aldasar. I thought I was dreaming—or having a nightmare. Anyway. Next we’re smothering and more pain. Then, we woke up in here." Kortash shrugs. “Guess we didn’t do a good job guarding.”

Burask says, “I keep telling him to stop beating himself up about it. We weren’t expecting trouble from behind, with you lot clearing it out. And how could we have anticipated THAT happening? We did the best we could, as always.”

Rilka meets Kortash’s gaze, “Guess we didn’t do a good job of clearing it out.” She half-smiles, but her eyes betray the stress and exhaustion of the last 24 hours.

To both brothers, she says “We kept fighting more of those brain creatures and trying to explore the site.” She briefly explains finding the hooded creatures and the duergar priestess. “After talking to the priestess about what she and her people had experienced, Savaric ran back to check on the two of you. He saw two of those abominations standing over you and killed them. None of our healings or restorations seemed to help, so Surm and I brought you to the University where the chiurgeons and the temple of Halor were able to revive you.”

“The plan is to take care of some business here in the city, then teleport back to the site later today.’” Rilka briefly takes Kortash’s hand in hers, then stands. “If either of you feel like walking around Kalimsport this morning, then you’re welcome to come Otherwise, we’ll all meet back at the University when it’s time to leave.”

Both brothers are up for getting up and walking around. They’re rested up and ready to leave.

Surm and Rilka head out to buy the needed scrolls and make a donation of 800 gold to the temple of Halor. While in the Temple District, Rilka checks in on the progress of her shrine. It is coming along…ground has been broke and things are progressing as they should. They head back to the University to pick up Kortash and Burask and teleport back to the campsite in the elven lands.

Session Seventy-Six
All in the Mind


18 Starfall 509

The Crimson Cord and its entourage leave for Almathriel to gain more information about the next step in Savaric’s quest.

21 Starfall 509

The Crimson Cord arrives at the city of Osandar, capital of Yulania. The troupe encamps outside of the city before moving on.

26 Starfall 509

While crossing Yulania toward Borael and the city of Ebongate, Sigrid comes across a pointed, leather wizard’s hat discarded in the dirt. There is a note written in High Acheran inside: “The Night Walker cannot be slain until the Silver Boar lies in blood.” They contemplate its meaning briefly (mostly Savaric) and move on.

27 Starfall 509

The troupe arrives at the southern gate of the city of Ebongate, capital of Borael. Once again, the troupe encamps outside of the city walls before moving on.

28 Starfall 509

The troupe arrives at the mountain pass that crosses into the elven lands. The far side is guarded by a squad of elven soldiers in livery marked with silver moon, full, on a black field. They are questioned briefly as to the state of their business, but are allowed to pass through.

30 Starfall 509

While traveling through the thick elven forests, the troupe is set upon by six dire wolves. However, between superior skills and numbers, the beasts are easily dispatched.

1 Transformation 509

In the morning, the troupe arrives at the walls of the city of Almathriel, capital of the elven nation. The high, white walls, seamless and beautiful, are covered in ivy and gleam in the morning light. Guards in the livery of the silver moon line the walls and staff the high gate.

After entering the city, Surm asks about for directions to the Mithral Dagger.

As they make their way through the paved streets of the city, some marvel at the elven architecture, buildings which work with nature instead of against it—trees that are utilized as part of the structures through which they are built. Elven construction tends to be on the tall and narrow side, as opposed to the short and squat side of Northron construction. The entire cityscape is dominated by the view of a great white spire jutting up from the center of the city.

It doesn’t take Surm long to get directions to the Mithral Dagger. The inn is a modest affair, built into the trunk of a great ancient tree. Inside one can already hear the sounds of music and camaraderie coming from the common room.

The innkeep, a half-elf with bushy sideburns by the name of Claudio, is happy to set them up in what rooms he has remaining. He has 4 singles, 2 4-person suites and room in the common room for any remainders after the room shuts down for the night.

Mahgnus makes the arrangements with the innkeep as the gear is being transferred to the rooms with the help of some local help (the Cord is going into one of the suites while Alasir assigns some of the guards to the singles and the remaining to the common room. The second suite will be Alasir, Mahgnus, Alfhild, and Sorcha.

Rilka stows her stuff in the suite, then heads down to the common room. She thinks It sounds it’s pretty active. Morvar will follow Rilka’s lead. He is feeling something strange….happiness. Morvar thinks he likes elves’ free-flow lifestyle. In fact, Morvar plans to partake in Elven drink. He wants to join in with the energetic fun, and practice his Elven tongue that he took that he has never used, other than trying to understand Drow.

The common room has several empty tables and booths to accommodate the large group. A male server, a young elven lad with brown hair and wide lavender eyes, takes your drink orders with a smile.

As far as available libations, there is Boraelan white wine, a local red wine, Absinthe, and an Ornish Ale. Savaric buys the table a bottle of the red and Rilka toasts the table. As the troupe lingers in the common room, ordering food and drink, the server, Lysander, proves to be friendly and eager to please. Looking about the room, there are mostly fellow travelers about the common room. A pretty good mix of people and races, though the party has the only half-orcs in the room—save for the bartender. He’s a large, taciturn man with a buzzcut and deep green skin.

Some people of note:

  • A halfling male with dirty blonde hair wearing leather armor and short sword with a grim, determined expression as he downs his ale.
  • A female elf in simple robes with matted grey hair and striking amber eyes sitting alone, her eyes scanning the room as if looking for someone.
  • A female half-elf with an angular face, white-blonde hair, and dark blue eyes who wears banded mail and has a rune-covered bastard sword resting on her table. She sometimes cocks her head to herself as if she is listening to someone, though she is sitting alone.
  • A male elf, tall and thin with wheat-blonde hair and light green eyes dressed in silk robes. He sits alone, sipping on a goblet of some unknown beverage, taking in the room.

Rilka spends her time hanging out with the Cord and with Kortash. Savaric takes in the room and hangs out as well. Morvar seems intent on the other guests—especially the two females (the elf and the half-elf).

After lunch and drinks are had, Surm says “Let’s attend to some business. Tomorrow a guide by the name of Rilolwe Opaleyed will meet us here. She was a member of the earlier expedition that was forced to leave. She has first-hand knowledge of what happened at the ruins and will be able to take us there. Also, there is a small mercenary squad led by an elf called Doranthanel Splitbranch sent to essentially watch over the former camp. So, if anything recent has happened, he should be able to update us.”

“Secondly, since we all agree on the upgrade of Alasir’s position, let’s pull him over and make the offer.”

Surm walks over and invites Alasir to join them at their table for some business talk.

Alasir brings his chair over and listens.

Surm says: “Alasir, the Crimson Cord has decided to invite you to be a Peripheral Member of the group. With this status change comes a change in how you’re paid and the compensation of the troop. If you accept, you would no longer receive a daily wage, you would no longer get the 3% bonus of coin, but you would now receive one share of our total haul from our various ventures. We will divide the haul into five shares. You will pay your troops out of your share and you will set the pay rates. Does this arrangement interest you?”

  • The total haul is split into 5 shares: Morvar, Surm, Rilka, Savaric, and Alasir (Alasir no longer earns a daily wage; no longer gets 3% of total coin)
  • The 4 of the Cord drop 10% each of their shares into a Group Fund
  • Alasir retains his full share, but pays his troops’ wages

Alasir blinks a bit in surprise. But then nods. “I think I could very much work with this arrangement. The proposal is unexpected, but certainly not unwelcome. I accept.” He puts out his hand to be shaken. Everyone shakes his hand and an accord is reached.

Surm says, “Great, that’s settled then. Hopefully, Alasir, the extra income will give you more autonomy with equipping your team and a better ability to purchase magical items. Now, I need to shop for scrolls. Specifically, fire protection. I’ll be back later.” Surm excuses himself, invites Mahgnus to come along if he wishes, then heads out.

While Surm is out, Morvar checks out the female elf’s sword from a distance. He can’t make out enough of the runes to discern any meaning. He also checks out the females.

The one with the sword has sharp, angular features and white-blonde hair and deep blue eyes. She is very pretty, but also looks strong and competent—she gives off the vibe of seasoned adventurer. The other has matted grey hair, but her face is young. Her eyes are a striking amber color and she has a sharp nose. She has a more “wild” look about her. Probably not as pretty, but perhaps more striking. She looks uncomfortable in these surroundings.

Rilka whispers something in Kortash’s ear and the two go upstairs.

Morvar decides to get up and get a closer look. He approaches the adventurer with the sword, hoping to get a good look at the runes. The sword itself is a bastard sword, probably forged from mithral.

“What do you call it?” he asks her.

She looks up at him, giving him side-eye, and says in Tradespeak. “It calls itself Aerená’forlíga’dalonel. I call it ‘Chaossong’.” The word she uses is Elven. It translates roughly into “The Blade of the Song of Greatest Change”.

Deathblow, in Morvar’s mind, says. “The sword’s a prick. I don’t like it. Let’s leave.”

Morvar says to Deathblow telepathically, “What a pussy name for a sword…..what makes it a prick? Is he one of those snobby goody goodies?”

Closer to the sword, he can tell that the runes are for enhancement, conjuration (summoning), conjuration (teleportation), and evocation (chaotic).

Deathblow says, “You have no need to associate with such a being. Let’s leave. You have me. There is no need to examine this sword further.”

“I do have you. I am curious about the woman, and the sword I believe says a lot,” Morvar responds. He smiles at the half-elf and says, “I am an admirer of fine swords. I crafted mine myself. His name is Dodsstoten.” Morvar puts his hand out as a friendly gesture (and only as a friendly gesture), “And I am Morvar Ulrich.”

To Deathblow he says: “I have a feeling the sword isn’t the only prick at the table, and I am not talking just about us”

She takes his hand in a firm grip. “Brandella Mornglow. Dodstotten? I don’t recognize the tongue.” She cocks her head as if listening to something. “You forged that yourself? Impressive.”

Morvar converses in Elven. “It’s Joslac," he says, referring to the word. Smiling still, Morvar will say, "It translates roughly to “Deathblow.”

To Deathblow, “I believe she is listening to her sword. I am sure it’s telling her how big of a prick you and I are too.”

Morvar will continue, “It is a pleasure to meet you Brandella Mornglow, and thank you for allowing me a moment to admire The Blade of the Song of Greatest Change. It is a very fine and interesting sword. I am sorry for interrupting your evening. May you have a wonderful rest of the night.”

“You as well, Morvar Ulrich. Go in peace.”

Morvar then moves on to the amber-eyed elf woman. “Good evening, how are you doing tonight?” he says as he sits down beside her.

She turns her amber eyes on him and narrows them. “I am fair. You are very forward. What do you want of me?”

Morvar slightly grins, “I couldn’t help noticing you seem to be uncomfortably awaiting someone. Thought I would come keep you company.” Morvar will then look around as if scanning the room, looking for someone to approach the table. “Seems whoever you’re waiting for stood you up.” He then turns to her, piercing her amber eyes with his crystal blue eyes, “So what brings you here?”

She looks about the room again and then focuses back on Morvar. “I see you came with companions. Are you adventurers? I could use some help, to be honest and I’d be willing to pay. Unless…” She backs up a bit. “You’ve already been hired. By…him. I’ve said too much.” She rises to leave.

Morvar will pat the seat she just stood from and with a smile, say, “Please…sit. At least allow me to introduce myself and perhaps buy you a drink before you leave.”

She sits, but she still looks wary. “I’m not thirsty. Who are you?”

“I am Morvar Ulrich of the Crimson Cord. Who is..him? I know no one by that name.” Morvar says with a touch of humor.

She looks around the room again and whispers, “Sakka the Grim. A sorcerer I have crossed. Who may have hired you and your friends to kill me. Has he?” She looks at him intently.

Morvar, will straighten into a business demeanor, and in a very serious and business tone will say, “Ma’am, I assure you, if I, or any other member of the Crimson Cord were hired to dispatch of you, there would be no where you could run, no where you could hide, and no one that could protect you from us completing that task. Furthermore, you and I would not be sitting here having this conversation because you would already have been dealt with.”

Morvar then resumes his relaxed posture, returns his smile to his face, and ask her, “So tell me how you crossed this Sakka the Grim,” he asks, inflecting ‘grim’ with a mocking aspect “and why he would want to harm such a pretty little thing like you?”

At first she looks horrified as you describe your business to her but then she looks relieved.

“The sorcerer killed a member of the Queen’s Guard who had ventured into his domain. His friends brought him to me and i restored his life. Now, he will live his life as one of the Vale Folk, but it is as Glorindiel wills it. Sakka saw it as thwarting his will and is now coming after me.”

Glorindiel is the elven goddess also known as “The Gatekeeper.” Her symbol is a golden key. She is the goddess of doorways, portals, thresholds, and the transition from year to year. Glorindiel concerns herself with transitions. Change is a constant and Glorindiel can bless it or ignore it, depending upon the needs of Fate, Time, and the Gods.

“So you have the ability to return life?” Morvar asks with sudden interest. “How is bringing a halfing back from the dead undermining his will?” And then with a curious look as if something just occurred to him, “Queens guard? What is the queen to do about this?”

“Well, if the goddess wills it, and if the dead wish to return, then yes. Not always in the manner that they expect, as in this case, but yes. But you see, I didn’t bring a Vale folk back from the dead. I brought an elf back to life as a Vale folk. And Sakka wanted the elf dead. Thus, I subverted his will. As far as the Queen, I know not. I have tried to stay out of such affairs for a long, long time.”

“Interesting… seems to me that he wanted an elf dead, and a dead elf he got. You didn’t return an elf back to life….but rather a halfling," Morvar says. “So tell me, what kind of hiring are you looking for and how much were you willing to pay for that work?"

“Of course, people like Sakka never see it that way. They see it only they way they want to see it.” She shakes her head, exasperated. “But I was hoping for some protection. I am traveling from here north to Imdarinis. It’s about a 12 day journey and I was planning on standard rates. Three silver per day per guard.”

“When do you intend on leaving?”

“As soon as I hire some protection.”

Morvar will smile, “So you know who I am, what’s your name?”

She looks at him a little exasperated. “My name is Arianel. Are you and your friends interested in helping me?”

“Let me talk to them”, Morvar says as he stands. “We are here on business, but that doesn’t mean upon conclusion of this our current contract, we cannot take on another. Once we have discussed the matter, I will let you know.”

Morvar then nods his head and heads upstairs to find Surm.

He goes into his brother’s room and wakes him. “Brother, I believe I have stumbled into a major opportunity to spread our name here.”

Surm groggily says, “Yeah, I know, we’re heading to Ysarian ruins tomorrow for a local Nobleman. That should do quite a bit for a getting our name out locally. I wish you had paid attention when we had this conversation days ago instead of waking me up in the middle of the night for me to explain it again. Goodnight.”

“Besides that!”, Morvar will say. “I just met a woman looking for protection from a sorcerer.”

Morvar informs Surm of the conversation and claims, following up with, “Her statements about staying out of or meddling with the affairs between this Sakka the Grim and the Queen and their perspective domains, leads me to believe that there may be a problem for the Queen. This is the opportunity I see, investigating this further, and if an issue does pan out, once we are finished with this contract, perhaps using our success here to offer our services to the queen to dispatch of this sorcerer. This woman looking for protection, I believe could prove to be a good source of information and contact for this. Just not sure how to handle providing her protection to gain her trust. She’s very…hmm..suspicious, and it took effort to even get that info out if her.”

Surm rises partially out of bed and says, “Perhaps she is suspicious because you … ‘in a very serious and business tone said, “Ma’am, I assure you, if I, or any other member of the Crimson Cord were hired to dispatch of you, there would be no where you could run, no where you could hide, and no one that could protect you from us completing that task. Furthermore, you and I would not be sitting here having this conversation because you would already have been dealt with.”’

“You basically made us sound like mercenary assassins for hire. Not really the reputation that I would like to spread. Also, not a good opening line if you are wanting to be hired to protect this person. Were you trying diplomacy or intimidation? I wouldn’t be surprised if she left right after you came up here.”

Surm continues, “I’m not sure how you expect to get involved? It seems she is looking for someone right now. We leave for the ruins in the morning and we can’t promise her a time of return. What is it you want to do? Split up? You take some guards and head North with her while we go to the ruins? We can’t abandon our current mission, I’ve already made arrangements, besides, this is kind of a ‘Holy’ quest to both Savaric and Rilka, not sure that they would appreciate a delay any more than our employer.”

“If you decide this important enough that you do want to split up, make sure and do some research on this ‘Sakka the Grim’, make sure he is real and get any other details to verify her story. Her story may not be true, because after your meeting with her and the veiled threats you threw out, if she still wants to hire you she is either desperate or crazy. You should confirm that she’s not crazy and all this is made up. Otherwise, I feel for her and you can present it to the group in the morning for a vote, but I’m pretty sure they’ll both want to head to the ruins and get this done first. I know I do. If she can wait for our return, then we could look into it.”

Morvar says, “I don’t want to delay or split, unless the split is allowing Alasir to decide if he wants to take the job and send men with her. I would like for you to use your diplomatic gift and talk to her. See if you can’t probe her for more information. Decide if you think she is crazy or not.” He continues, “If there is a conflict between the QUEEN and this sorcerer, wouldn’t it be worth a bit of your time to talk with her?”

Surm says, “There is nothing to be done tonight. I can’t hit the streets trying to confirm her story in the middle of the night and we leave in the morning. It will have to be investigated when we get back.”

Morvar will return to the common room, find the woman and say, “Unfortunately, we leave for business tomorrow. We will not be able to fulfill your job opportunity at this time. I am sorry for your situation.”

Arianel says, “Well, thank you anyway,” and turns her attention elsewhere. Morvar heads back upstairs to go to bed.

2 Transformation 509

As the troupe is making preparations in the morning to leave, you see a small brown falcon fly through the common room, circle twice, and alight on a beam above the majority of the party. Striding into your midst is an elf woman, pretty, with wavy blonde hair, green eyes, and fair skin. She wears a mithral breastplate over her leather traveling clothes. A large, elegant curved blade—similar to a scimitar, but with a thinner blade—is carried on her back.

“You must be the Crimson Cord,” she says in Tradespeak. “I am Rilolwe. Lord Springvale sent me to guide you to the site. Which of you is Surm Ulrich?”

Surm will step forward and introduce himself extending a hand. Then he introduces Savaric, Morvar, Rilka, and Alasir. “We are ready to leave.”

Rilolwe shakes everyone hand and says to Surm, “My Lord Springvale extends his especial greetings to you, Master Ulrich, and his blessings for a successful expedition. I have my horse waiting outside and we can begin as soon as your troupe is packed.”

She makes a short chirping sound and the falcon flies from the high beam and lands on her outstretched arm. “I’ll await you all outside.”

She turns and heads out.

Once the troupe is loaded up, she begins leading you around the outer ring of the city, the Traveler’s Ring, toward the Eastern Gate. The Traveler’s Ring houses most of the non-elven population of the city, as well as most of of the working class. Eventually, your column passes through the gates and into the thick primeval forest that comprise the wilds of the Elven Lands.

Rilolwe is quiet through most of the ride, occasionally sending her falcon out for flights and having it return. She casts speak with animals to communicate with the bird to get a sense of what it has seen when it goes out on these excursions, essentially scouting ahead.

At the end of the day, the troupe makes a camp and Alasir sets up the usual watches. Rilolwe sets up her small sleeping space and has Alasir add her to the roster, which he does.

The night passes without incident.

7 Transformation 509

The troupe has traveled several days through the forest with Rilolwe. She is fairly quiet, speaking only when spoken to. She is efficient and good at her job. Her falcon, who is called “Swiftwing” is her boon companion.

While the troupe is traveling through thick wood, but the further east they go, the Riftpeaks loom larger on the horizon.

On this day, the troupe come across a tree in which a dead body is hanging from a rope. From the looks of it, it’s been hanging there for weeks. It was probably a human from the looks of it. The clothes have mildewed and rotted and there is a wooden sign tied around its neck with the word “theef” written in Tradespeak on it.

Other than that, the day passes without further incident.

9 Transformation 509

On this morning of travel, the troupe breaks free of the forest and into the rocky foothills of the Riftpeaks. Rilolwe says that by noon they’ll encounter the camp outside the Ysarian site.

True to her estimation, around midday, the troupe begins approaching a small encampment of about a dozen or so warriors. Three approach the troupe on horseback.

The lead rider is a handsome elf with brownish-blonde hair and blue eyes. Accompanying him are two other elves, a female with a greenish tint to her blonde hair and a male. The encampment flies a banner of a manticore on a red field.

The four main members of the Cord ride out with Rilolwe to greet them.

“Mistress Opaleyed, it is a pleasure to see you,” he says in Elven, which Surm and Morvar understand but the half-orcs do not.

Rilolwe returns the greeting, barely remembering the elf, Doranthanel’s, name. She indicates that she has new orders per Lord Springvale and produces a writ for Doranthanel to look at. It essentially states that the Crimson Cord and their troupe are here to clear out the ruins and that they are to be allowed entrance to the ruins for that work. Doranthanel seems to believe that everything is in order and mentions that it should be tough work, considering what he has heard and that it is good that they brought “the brutes,” indicating the half-orcs in the party. He then asks which of the brothers is Master Ulrich, the leader of the Crimson Cord.

Both brothers ride forward, with Morvar wearing a scowl on his face and riding just ahead of Surm. Doranthanel reiterates what he and Rilolwe discussed and asks if they wish to join camps. Morvar and Surm bring in Alasir to this conversation—and Alasir emphatically does not want to join camps. So Mahgnus and Alasir start making a camp between the elven mercenaries and the mine entrance, which is now more clearly visible. A narrow 5’ wide shaft enters the side of the mountain.

Surm asks about the mercenary’s banner. Doranthanel indicates that it represents his first kill. They now fight under his banner. They have no name designation—only the banner. Surm hasn’t heard of the troupe and Doranthanel explains that they mostly work in the elf-lands, that they have more of a reputation there.

While the camp is being erected, Morvar goes amongst the elves, sharing war stories and such. The leaders of the elves eventually have them stop and get back to patrolling.

Surm asks if the mercenaries have seen any sign of the dangers reported by the fleeing expedition. “Only some eyes watching us from the shaft at night,” he says. They do not venture into the shaft as it is not part of their contract. Surm speculates that the eyes probably belong to the duergar they were warned about.

Eventually the camp is set up and the Cord reconvenes for some planning. Surm doesn’t quite trust the elves, things seem on the up-and-up so far. He doesn’t want to take all of the guards into the shaft—maybe only two or three. The rest will be outside if the elves get antsy or turn on them. He doesn’t want the guards to be outnumbered. Everyone agrees that this is a sound plan.

Eventually, they decide to initially just have Savaric and Morvar go inside and scout out the place. Morvar can use an arcane eye spell to look ahead of the Cord’s position. They have a description of the route from Rilolwe. Essentially, you have the mine shaft descending for about 2000 feet, ending at a dead end. In the side of the shaft’s wall at the dead end is a fissure that leads into larger caverns. That’s where the entrance to the Ysar ruins are—as well as the pyrohydra. It is from this fissure that Morvar will send the arcane eye to scout ahead.


Savaric heads into the mine first with a two minute head start. Then Morvar follows. When they get to the fissure, they change roles. Morvar casts his arcane eye spell and sends out the sensor through the shaft. There are a series of turns in the tunnel, which is quite wide (approximately 15-20’ at its narrowest). Eventually, the tunnel opens into a large cavern. There are tall pillars supporting the cavern, between which sits a sleeping pyrohydra. Along the left-hand side of the cavern is a natural ramp that leads up to a balcony of sorts. Upon the balcony is a rune-covered archway opening into a set of stone stairs leading down.


Descending partially down the stairs, he comes to a door and a corridor. The door is made of some strange metal the cannot readily identify. He follows the corridor, passing a portcullis, and arriving at another door of the same strange metal. He returns up the corridor and back into the cavern. He descends from the balcony and travels further into the tunnel.

Beyond the cavern is a second cavern with a more lively pyrohydra, looking about. In a small nest is what appears to be a young pyrohydra, the size of a halfling. The tunnel descends further into the mountain. Morvar follows for as long as the spell lasts, finding no more sign of duergar or more creatures.

He and Savaric return to the camp and report what they found.

The group then spends some time discussing and planning their next move. Do they attack tonight while the thing sleeps? What about the other beast? Where are the duergar? Are they within the Ysar area? Who do they take with them?

They decide to take Kortash and Burask with with them—both of the half-orcs can see in the dark, as can the rest of the Cord so they won’t have to use a light source and reveal themselves. They finally hit upon a plan—various preparation spells will be cast before entering the fissure. Then Rilka will cast silence on herself, creating a stealth-zone in which the rest of the party can travel. Once they get inside, Savaric will sneak up to the balcony for overhead shooting. Kortash and Burask will, once the ruckus starts, head to the archway and guard it against any incoming duergar from the Ysar complex. Morvar will lightning step through the creature and get flanking with Rilka, who’ll position herself in a ready position as well. Surm will be lobbing spells from the rear.

Everyone feels like it is a sound plan and so they prepare themselves to make the descent.

When they arrive at the fissure, they hear breathing coming out of the fissure. Morvar sends his arcane eye in to scout it out and discovers that the formerly sleeping pyrohydra is awake. They decide to retreat and regroup, to make a plan B for an awakened pyrohydra.

They eventually come to an accord on a secondary plan and decide to strike in the morning, regardless of whether or not the creature is awake. Alasir assigns the usual watches and everyone settles in for the night.

During the night, at the first watch (Alasir, Kortash, Tarben, Halvor, and Morvar), Halvor is viciously attacked by an invisible duergar with a dwarven war axe. The duergar smells of rot and decay and is quite difficult to kill. The rest of the camp is roused as the fight goes on. The elven camp come to see what the ruckus is and join the others in watching, as the creature is surrounded and more fighters will not help the situation. Halvor is dragged out of the combat and replaced with another of the Crimson Cord guards. Finally, the duergar falls—and bursting from its body is a strange aberration…

It looks like a small brain, pink and glistening, standing on four, clawed legs. It attempts to attack not only with its claws but with spell-like abilities. It confuses Kortash, causing the half-orc to hit himself with his own weapon. As the fight with this new creature rages on, they discover that its hide is hard to penetrate with conventional weapons and it shrugs off most spells. At one point it shrieks in anger—telepathically to all that can sense it—as Rilka deafens it with the thunder of her weapon. “You will pay for that, surface dweller!” it “speaks” in undercommon, which Surm understands. Finally, Surm manages to blow up the creature with a final spell.

Rilka uses Bruni-given insight to discover that this creature is called an “intellect devourer” and that its strange race may not even be from this world. They den alone or in cities of their fellows, venturing out and “wearing” people to enact their cruel, vile, and orgiastic desires. Their victims never survive the process.

Meanwhile, they collect the duergar’s items and identify their magical properties for treasure. Rilka thanks Doranthanel for sending his troops over to help, though there was nothing they could do. Surm does the same. He says to think nothing of it. Surm asks if they had encountered anything like that while guarding over the site and Doranthanel emphatically says that they have not.

The rest of the night passes without incident.

10 Transformation 509

Once again, the Cord plus Burask and Kortash descend into the shaft to take on the pyrohydra, and the new threat of the possessed duergar. Morvar sends his arcane eye inside to discover that the pyrohydra is sleeping again and that the portcullis room in the Ysar area contains two, strangely inert, duergar.

They go with plan A—and it goes off without a hitch.

Savaric gets into position overhead while the others do so on the floor. Once the signal is given, Savaric begins firing into the beast—killing it in about 6 seconds with a barrage of arrows forming a “smiley” face in the side of the creature’s hide. After the anti-climatic battle, they hear the other creature moving toward them through the deeper cavern. They take up positions to ambush it when it emerges into their cavern. Once again, a barrage of arrows fells the monstrous creature.

They go into the deeper cavern and find the young pyrohydra. Savaric tries to communicate with it via his ranger abilities, but it still tries to bite him and breath fire on him with its seven small heads. He feeds the creature trail rations, which seems to placate it somewhat. They leave the creature, thinking to return to it when they finish exploring the ruins.

They decide to send the Agent’s Clasp back to Alasir so that they have a means of communication with the outside—and Alasir can warn them of any treachery on the outside. Finally, they descend down the stairs into the Ysar ruins…

Savaric hears movement beyond the first door that they come to. They decide to check it out. Morvar opens the door to let Savaric fire inside. Inside are two of the rotting duergar. Savaric fires and the battle begins.

As others try to get inside and take out the duergar, Surm and Kortash watch the hall to ensure the other door or portcullis doesn’t open and allow more of the creatures to attack them from the rear.

Soon enough, the duergar (who are unarmed) are defeated—but in their place are their intellect devourer parasites. These are eventually dispatched as well.

Now the Cord stands in the bloody, rot-filled room and contemplate their next move…

Session Seventy-Five
Answering the Call


22 Longday 509—Afternoon

Savaric has gone inside the shrine at the behest of a mysterious old woman. Surm, Rilka, and Mõrvar are about a 100 yards into the woods, standing around the crisp remains of the last Inquisitor tied to a tree.

Mõrvar relates to the others the encounter with the demon as he was torturing the Inquisitor and the final immolation of the man during the battle.They determine that it was a Babau demon—a low-level demon usually created from the souls of lone killers. They are usually employed as assassins. Surm notices that while the man is completely burned, the tree to which he is tied has nary a singe mark upon it. Mõrvar doesn’t seem very impressed but Surm and Rilka insist that they are dealing with the interference of a powerful being here…perhaps Jörn himself. Mõrvar decapitates the ashy remains.

Savaric emerges from the shrine with Ghost as the others make their way back to the clearing where the guards are gathering up all the goods from the fallen Inquisitors. Alfhild and the others have returned with the Inquisitors found horses as well.

Savaric relates to the others his experience with Vigdis Blooddrake within the shrine and tells them of the prophesy she saw concerning him and the Spear of Salvation. Surm recalls the Aedonii stories and mosaics of underwater creatures—mosaics that related both adoration and terror regarding these creatures. Surm has also heard of Ysarian steel, but nothing more about it.

The Cord debate what to do next and whether or not the forces of Jörn are involved and actively working against them in this.

They finally decide to head to Josemeedt and make a show of force against the Jörnites there, making it known that they have defeated the Inquisitors and the “Darkshadow”, hopefully forcing the cult to back off from taking their revenge on the Cord—at least for a while.

They finally make a camp outside the shrine and, that night, further discuss their plans for treasure distribution. The night passes without further incident.

23 Longday 509

That morning, Savaric reveals that he is no longer having the prophetic dream that has been plaguing him since his revivification in the Tomb of Secrets. However, he feels like “something” is causing a pressure in his head. Rilka performs a detect magic on his head and is momentarily blinded by the overwhelming aura of power. Surm tries heroically to look and determines that is divine magic of a divinatory nature—he theorizes that perhaps it is knowledge hidden in his mind of how to make this weapon waiting to be unlocked when the time is right.

This does not reassure Savaric.

They spend the day traveling quietly through the Jossian forest westward toward Josemeedt. That night passes without incident, save for the witnessing of a comet passing overhead.

26 Longday 509

After several quiet days of travel, the party arrives outside the wooden palisade of Josemeedt around noontime. Surm gathers up the symbols of Jörn and hangs them off of his saddle. According to his plan, he is going to ride forward of the party in a display of strength, making it known to any hidden Jörnites in the settlement that the Inquisitors are no more and the Darkshadow is dead. Just before the party is to go in, Mõrvar decides that he wants to be the one at the front, and takes over the plan. Surm lets him and falls back.

Mõrvar, flanked by the Cord and the troupe of guards, rides slowly through the settlement. Shopkeepers and traders emerge, stopping their dealings to gape at the display. It very much sends a message of “don’t mess with us.” Eventually, they come to main hall of the settlement where they are met by the Steward of Josemeedt, Brun Thandirsson. He acknowledges that he has heard of the Cord’s exploits and remembers them from their last visit to the settlement. But, as last time, he asks that they have their armed force camp outside of the walls. They are welcome to trade as much as they like, but the encampment needs to be outside. It is clear that the Steward is intimidate by the display of power of the Cord, but is determined to do his duty to the settlement.

Mõrvar flounders a bit, looking back to Surm for guidance—but Surm just waves at his brother to continue. He wanted to lead—then lead. Mõrvar indicates that the Cord will do as asked and asks for directions to the hall of Yülthn. The Steward indicates the needed hall. Mõrvar also announces the death of the Jörnite Inquisitors and assassin—which is met with some bewilderment and congratulations by the assembled folk.

Alasir comes forward to Surm and offers to lead the guards off to set up the encampment outside the walls. Surm nods at him to do so and Alasir makes those arrangements as the main Cord moves forward to the Hall of the All-Father.

The Hall of Yülthn has a large common room with an adjacent longhouse with living quarters inside. Rilka catches one of the common room servers and gets them to fetch the priest for the Hall. They are soon met by a woman with dark hair and grey eyes and the customary crooked staff of a priest of Yülthn. Her name is Katla Stormheart. After a brief exchange, she takes them into one of the inn’s rooms to have a private conversation. Surm tells the story of their encounter with the Jörnites and with the green gemstone and the mission of Grimnir Erolsson, her predecessor. Mõrvar turns over the holy symbols to her. She takes the symbols, promising to have them melted down. She is disturbed to learn that someone here in the settlement is heading a cult to the Sly One—but all she knows now is that it is a blacksmith; there are several in Josemeedt. She remembers seeing the men with the cassocks in the common room, but they claimed to be pilgrims of Saemundil—she thought nothing of them at the time. She promises to share their information with the temples of Ketill and Saemundil here in the settlement.

As far as Grimnir Erolsson, all she knows about him is that he had left on some mission and never returned, thus she was summoned to fill his place here. She did here that he was headed for Saemundiljeim—perhaps he left out of Rosemeedt? But Surm remembers he was supposed to head north, not west. She shrugs. Her understanding was that he headed west.

After leaving the symbols with Katla, the rest of the party spend the afternoon trading in the settlement or staying in the camp outside the walls. Mõrvar mostly sits in the camp and broods. Rilka buys traditional Jossian meat pies for everyone (stuffed goat’s stomach’s with meat and herbs). That night, everyone spends the night in camp and Kortash and Rilka spend the night together.

27 Longday 509

The Crimson Cord sets out from Josemeedt to Kalimsport, figuring that they can use their University contacts to get more information on Savaric’s quest.

The day goes by mostly without incident, with the exception of coming across the remains of an old battle at which Savaric finds a bag of wooden toy soldiers. These he decides to keep to give to the orphans back in Yrda.

29 Longday 509

As the troupe makes its way down the road through Leilior, they encounter two men wearing the livery of a white winged horse on a black field. Surm recognizes the symbol as belonging to a minor noble by the name of Eoin Ma’Phorick. The two men are looking at a piece of parchment, looking at the passing riders, and then back at the parchment.

As they pass, Rilka inquires as to what they are doing and they inform her that there is a bounty on this bandit. They show her the parchment and it is wanted poster. They are seeing if any of the passers by fit the description of the wanted man. So far, they haven’t found him. She wishes them good luck and the troupe continues on its way.

Other than that encounter, the day passes without much fanfare.

5 Starfall 509

After crossing through Leilior and Ornis through the past week or so, the troupe finally arrives at the gates of the magnificent city of Kalimsport around noontime. The troupe head into the city through the gates and make their preparations to stay at the University of Kalimsport, per their previous arrangement. Surm has Alasir give the troops leave and informs him that they will be staying in the city for eleven days, but asks him to check in every five to see if there are new instructions or situations. The troops head out with Alasir in the lead. Mahgnus opts to stay with Surm and the rest of the Cord at the University.

Surm speaks with Master Mandreth Kerendal about looking into the matter of the crystal spearhead as it is supposedly of Aedonii make and he is an expert in Aedonii affairs. Kerendal is happy to help and tells Surm to give him a week to see what he can find. Surm also gets the name of Selevan Vosper, an expert on Ysarian culture, to get information on Ysarian steel.

Surm goes to see Vosper, a mousy little man with thinning brown hair, a mustache, and a paunch. Vosper tells him that he could look into the matter, but informs Surm that his best bet would be to contact Lord Paranthiel Springvale in Almathriel. He is an expert in Ysarian antiquities and, frankly, wrote many of the treatises he would be researching. Surm, slightly incredulous, avers that he will do so.

Meanwhile, the rest of the cord look into securing various magical accoutrements around the city. Rilka also files the paperwork to get a tenancy agreement to erect a shrine in the Temple District of the city. This is after Surm manages to get her the needed references in the form of Master Kerendal, Lady Gynn, and Lord Cranbarrow.

11 Starfall 509

Surm gets word from Master Kerendal that he has some information that may be of use to him.

Cassite is a rare element only found in the deepest reaches of the underground kingdoms. The secrets of its use were thought lost with the Aedonii. However, a dagger manufactured some fifteen years ago in Khazak-Ur has been uncovered. Its actual manufacturer is unknown.

The dagger is known to bear the following mark:


Crafting with Cassite Crystal is a delicate process—failure by 5 or more will result in shattering the crystal.

Weapons forged from Cassite have the following properties: +3 to confirm critical hits due to never losing their edge. It ignores the armor bonuses from all armor and deflection bonuses. It also reduces the creation cost of magic weapons/armor by 15%. Weapons made from Cassite Crystal have a hardness of 30 and hp of 10/inch and is assumed to be of masterwork quality. However, Cassite crystal will shatter on a confirmed fumbled attack roll…

Armor imbued with Cassite has the following properties: Hardness 30, hp 25/inch, offers SR 20 to the wearer, including against magic missile (as the shield spell). Armor imbued with Cassite is automatically assumed to be of masterwork quality. However, if protecting against a confirmed critical hit, the crystal will shatter…

Surm thanks the sage for the information and offers to pay, Master Kerendal insists that it is nothing for the group that saved him from an orc pit.

15 Starfall 509

As the troupe is scheduled to leave the next day, and they have heard nothing from the city about Rilka’s application, she and Surm head to the Hall of Records to inquire about Rilka’s tenancy contract for her shrine. They eventually get to see a clerk by the name of Tamsyn Wyndle. After a lot of bureaucratic maneuvering, they manage to get her a tenancy contract and a building license so that she can begin having the work done.

16 Starfall 509

Surm speaks to the sage Belurian Springstorm, the elven liaison in the University, about the possibility of teleporting to Almathriel. He’d like to have a reference to use for familiarities sake in the spell. Springstorm does have a painting of a park in Almathriel that he could use as a reference. Surm decides that he, Rilka and two guard volunteers will travel ahead to visit with Lord Springvale about Ysarian steel. Tarben and Halvor volunteer to accompany them.

That morning, Surm casts the greater teleport from the scroll and takes them to the park in the elven city of Almathriel. They arrive on target, in a small clearing. A gleaming white spire dominates the skyline. They see a couple of elves that take notice of their arrival start in surprise, but continue walking down their path.

They emerge from the park and Surm starts making inquiries as to location of Lord Springvale’s estate. Soon, enough, he gets the information—it’s not too far away from the park. So the four make their way toward the nobleman’s residence…

Later that evening, the four return to Kalimsport through a teleportation circle located on the campus of the University, startling the University monitor assigned to watch the circle. They return to the rest of the party.

Surm explains that they have made an arrangement with Lord Springvale. He has a job that they want the Cord to do—there is a site of Ysarian ruins that have been overrun by “dusky skinned dwarves” and “pyrohydra” and his expedition has been chased off. He wants the Cord to clear it out. If the Cord does, then he will provide the Cord a source of information on Ysarian steel. He will also split with the Cord, 50/50, any Ysarian antiquities found within the ruins. Lord Springvale is not interested in incidental treasure found on the dwarves or with the pyrohydra.

The ruins are located east of Almathriel, the elven capital. They will begin traveling there in the morning. Once there, they will head to the ruins and begin their work.

Interlude: The Shrine
The Profound and the Profane


22 Longday 509—Afternoon

The party all stand outside the shrine of Isranthr, tired from their exertions after the battle with the Inquisitors of Jörn. Ten dead, or dying, bodies lie about the hill. The guards all look about, smiling, proud to be alive and to have survived such an epic conflict. Kortash even has a rueful grin as he clutches his ruined abdomen.

Mõrvar, Garth, Sigrid, and Halvor continue to hold the manacled and gagged inquisitor.

All is quiet. A murder of crows fly off from the nearby trees. A figure emerges from within the shrine, leans against the open door, and appears to lazily munch a bit of meat from a drumstick. She is an older woman, with short white hair and leathery skin. She wears a leather apron over a simple gown.

After collecting the pieces of his bow, Savaric asks, “Anyone know who this is suppose to be?” He hobbles to the foot of the hill with Ghost, clutching the base of his back that he strained during the battle.

When Savaric get to the bottom of the hill, Ghost sits and wags his tail, his mouth open in a doggy smile, looking up at the shrine.

The woman calls down. “I’ve been expecting you, Twice-Born. You’ve taken your time and brought uninvited guests to boot. Come on up. Bring the wolf. He looks hungry. I have some scraps for him.”

She turns and goes back into the shrine.

Savaric looks to Ghost and gives a quick snap. “Come on Ghost,” and starts up the hill to enter the shrine.

As he enters the shrine, his nose is hit with the smell of woodsmoke. There is a small hearth at the back of the room with a low-burning fire. There are blankets intricately woven with hunting scenes hanging on the walls like tapestries. There is a boar’s head mounted on the right side of the building, and a drake’s head mounted on the left. There are two comfortable chairs situated in front of the hearth. To the right of the room is a wooden work table with worked skins stacked upon it. To the left is an altar with a beautiful longbow, decorated with gold inlay along the wooden shaft, mounted above it, but below the drake’s head.

True to her word, she sets down a pewter plate on the stone floor of the shrine with what look like scraps of meat and bone for Ghost. Then she sits in one of the two comfortable chairs and motions for Savaric to take the other.

“Sit, Twice-Born. We have much to discuss. The gods are stirring and, I don’t know about you, but they’ve been keeping me up at night. My name is Vigdis, by the by. Vigdis Blooddrake.”

Savaric motions to Ghost, letting him know it’s ok to go ahead and eat. The wolf turns to the plate and goes to it with gusto. He heads to his chair and offers his hand, “I’m Savaric, and I, too, have been awoken.”

Vigdis takes Savaric’s hand and shakes it as Ghost chows down on the scraps. She settles back into the chair.

“Your coming was foretold to me in visions. As was your purpose. There is an abomination coming. A great darkness that will engulf us all, hunter and prey alike, if you fail.”

She takes a deep breath and stares steadily at Savaric. "In my visions I saw a weapon—a spear. It’s haft, silvery grey, with the runes of The Hunter engraved upon it, as well as those of the sorcerers who have imbued it with magics. Its jagged head is a fiery orange crystal. The Spear of Salvation it will be called, for that is its purpose. To save us all from the abomination that comes.”

“This is the quest that Isranthr has set before you: to find the materials and ensure that this weapon is created and ready for when it is needed.”

““The haft is of Ysarian make—their steel is hardest and tempered with magical fire.”

“The point is made of a rare crystal, difficult to shape, but forms a powerful weapon. The Aedonii knew the secrets of its cutting.”

“Together, the power of the Ancient Ones will be placed together and bound in sorcery to forge the weapon of our salvation.”

Savaric, in turn, explains the dream that he has been having every night since he was revived in the Tomb of Secrets, presumably by Isranthr.

You are on a ship, a keelboat, with a band of Northron warriors. An old man is at the rudder, guiding the ship through a turbulent sea. The skies are a deep red marked with black clouds of soot floating on the strong winds. Looking ahead, you see an island on which a tall mountain spews lava and smoke through its top. In your hand is a metal box with runic symbols etched on its face.

Suddenly, the ship is rocked by an impact. Looking behind you, you see a fiery stone embedded in the hull of the keelboat. The men are pointing at the beach of the island where you see a group of giants with fiery hair and beards gathering stones and throwing them at the ship.

The old man tries to change direction and move the boat away from the beach, but the ship is moving too slow. Another boulder strikes the aft of the boat, pummeling the old man at the rudder and carrying him overboard as it smashes through the boat. The craft begins to sink.

The warriors begin abandoning the sinking boat and jumping into sea. You follow suit, leaping into the warm water surrounding the island.

The box is pulled from your hand by some unseen force and suddenly its contents burst from its prison: a deep green gemstone, shining with eldritch light beneath the waves. You, and it, sink lower and lower into the churning waters, almost as if pulled by the same unseen force that pulled the box from your hands.

The warmth of the waters fades as you feel the pressure of the water close in upon you. The sea grows cold, colder than the coldest Jossian winter. It occurs to you that you will not be going to Valhalla, will not be dying a warrior’s death.

By the green light of the rapidly sinking gemstone, you catch a glimpse of great, muscular tentacles—larger than anything you have ever imagined. Turning to try and swim against the implacable force, you struggle against the pressure of the cold waters but to no avail. Giving yourself up to your fate, you turn and face the horror on the floor of the sea. You watch as the gemstone settles onto the sand beside the abomination, only illuminating parts of the beast—but enough to instill a primordial dread that freezes you in place, unable to do anything but continue to gaze upon the fell creature.

But then, your horror grows as you see a great eye open within the mass of tentacled flesh. It focuses on you and you feel your body go limp in abject, hopeless, terror. One of the smaller tentacles reaches out and caresses your cheek. You sense satisfaction and subtle mockery emanating from the creature.

Then the flesh parts and reveals the great, hungry maw with rows of jagged teeth…and the eye focuses beyond you, toward the surface as it smiles.

Savaric also tells the woman about the green gemstone they found so long ago that they sent with the priest of Yülthn to be destroyed. Does she think that the gemstone in the dream is the same gemstone?

“While I have no knowledge of this gem of which you speak, I think it is possible that it is the same artifact. I cannot say with any certainty. It was not part of what I was shown.”

On the subject of Vigdis’ vision, Savaric says, “This seems straight forward enough. Can any Ysarian make the haft? Who is to bind the weapon together?”

“There have been no Ysar since before the Rivening, my boy. Some say they were wiped out. Some say they became the Elven race, while the Aedonii became human. I don’t believe that. The Aesen made we humans, that is what I believe. So the other is probably only the stuff of legend as well. The only truth is that the Ysar are no more. As far as who is to craft the weapon, that is for you to discover or decide—the gods are not going to give you every answer—especially not a god of the hunt. You will have to find your answers. Hunt for them, as it were.”

Savaric asks, “Is there any way you could draw the spear from your vision? If we track down someone that knows anything do with this it might help them. Even a rune from the haft.”

She chuckles a bit, shaking her head. “No. I am not an artist and I would not be able to capture what I saw, other than with the words that were placed in my heart to tell you. Have faith. You will know what needs to be done when the time comes.”

“Am I to just continue as normal until these items fall into my lap? Where do I even start looking?”

The old woman looks at Savaric, a bit perplexed. “You were chosen for a reason. Look at the information you have been given. Think about it. Think of it as following a trail. You are on a hunt, Twice-Born. The most important one of your life. No, nothing is going to fall into your lap. You have to think. You have to work. You have to struggle. That is our lot in life. That is what life is—struggle. In the end, that is what you chose, is it not? To continue your struggle?”

She closes her eyes and sighs. “The Aedonii and Ysar are long dead. But some of their secrets remain. Perhaps that is the beginning of your trail.”

“Well, I’m sure my friends are wondering if I’m safe in here with a strange woman in the middle of the forest. Before I go, tell me, how does The Hunter retire his weapons once they have served him?”

Vigdis chuckles. “You are safe. For now.” Then she frowns. “Unless you fail to fulfill your bargain with Isranthr. Then, you may not be so safe.”

She smiles again. “But, you asked about retiring weapons. It is an odd question. I’m not sure there is much in the lore about it. But, I would say that you should return it to the fires of creation. Return the sword to the forge-fire. Return the bow to the flame and to the ash with which to sow new wood. That is what I would do.”

Savaric pulls out the collected pieces of his bow and stands, “Then I suppose Isranthr’s fire would be the best fit.” He pauses for a moment as he stares into the hearth. “As for our bargain, it doesn’t seem safe is an option either way, but what fun would that be? Either build the spear to fight this new threat, or die without it. Are there no other agents of Isranthr headed toward this same goal? It seems odd that something so important would be left to the chance of one person.” With a small wind up he tosses the bow into the fire, then turns to Vigdis, only half expecting an answer at all, before approaching Ghost.

“You’re asking me to know the entire plan of a god? You give me too much credit,” Vigdis says, chuckling. “Perhaps you sell yourself short. Perhaps the Hunter is a gambler at heart. Who am I to say? All I know that is that there must have been some reason why he decided to intervene and bring you back from Eydis’ judgment, Twice-Born. Go with the blessing of Isranthr and the hope of old Vigdis.” She smiles at Savaric and motions toward the doorway.

Savaric says farewell to the old woman and exits the shrine.

Meanwhile, outside the shine…

As Savaric heads up the hill and enters the building, Rilka starts moving through the guard, gathering people together as needed for the healing power of Bruni. She lingers a bit longer at Kortash’s side, squeezing his arm tightly before moving on.

Mõrvar, from the bound body of the last Inquisitor, tells Surm, “There is no King here to keep me from questioning this one. I need time alone with him. By the time I am finished with him, he will want to tell me any and everything we want to know, as did the last one of these pricks did. It’s not going to be pretty, but I am tired of these assholes. If you have any reason not to let me have this one, it better be good and you better speak up now.” He also indicates that he’s going to drag the prisoner off to do what he’s going to so no one has to see it…unless they want to watch.

Surm says, “Everything ‘we’ want to know? There is nothing ‘I’ want to know from him. Jörn sent their big assassin and we beat him, I’m content with that, I have no need to seek revenge against an entire religion and wage war. I’m uncertain what information you’re looking for other than to get revenge for this attack on us? But, the assassin who attacked you is dead. The assassins who ambushed us are dead. Don’t seek out more problems, we find enough trouble without searching for it.”

Surm tells Alasir to put the guards holding the prisoner to work securing the perimeter and helping round up gear and horses.

Mõrvar says “There is still one more out there somewhere. This one assassin didn’t take it upon himself to gather eleven inquisitors and attack us. We are already at war with Jörn, and I intend to end it one way or the other. Give me the broach, keep track of me just in case.”

Surm says, “We’ve accounted for all the Inquisitors who came out to the woods after us. We know he sent two back to Josemeedt to await the woman. There are no more out here based on the numbers we had. If you believe there are more then we weren’t made aware of them and you shouldn’t go off into the woods.” Nevertheless, he hands his brother the Agent’s Clasp to wear.

Mõrvar drags the Inquisitor off into the woods about a hundred yards. The prisoner is be gagged and cuffed. No one is inclined to follow and watch.

Mõrvar telepathically says to Deathblow, “It would not shock me if there was another one or two of them out here. Keep aware, we know there is at least one more that was with the group.”

As Mõrvar is securing the Inquisitor’s gagged and bound form to a tree, he sees the man close his eyes as if in silent prayer over what is to come. Mõrvar begins applying his grave touch abilities and working to demoralize and demean the man further. Soon, it is clear that the Inquisitor is frightened and wants to flee—but cannot—which feeds more into his fear. Then Mõrvar begins intimidating the man in earnest…

“This all started when your cult assassinated the King of Yrda and tried to frame us…the Crimson Cord. Unfortunately for your band of thugs, it was the Crimson Cord you tried to frame…”

As the words wash over the panicked the Inquisitor, Mõrvar feels a change in the air pressure and suddenly appearing beside the tree, practically in Mõrvar’s face, is a demonic creature…

The demon stabs at Mõrvar with a barb-tipped spear, but the point glints off of the plates of the Eldritch Knight’s armor.

Mõrvar attacks with Deathblow, the greatsword’s blade cutting through the creature’s slime-covered hide. The slime is acidic and attempts to eat through the magic-imbued steal. Mõrvar hears the frustrated howl of the greatsword in his mind and sees smoke coming off of the surface of the weapon.

The creature drops it’s spear and cowers before Mõrvar’s onslaught, clearly wanting to flee but somehow unable to.

Surm hears the sound of conflict come from the woods where Mõrvar dragged the prisoner.

Mõrvar suddenly feels an intense heat flash near him and sees the Inquisitor become immolated in a column of flame that is gone as fast it came. The smell of burnt flesh wafts into his nose and he sees that the Inquisitor has been burned to a crisp. The demon continues to cower at Mõrvar’s feet.

Infuriated, Mõrvar swings down on the demon with his full might. “Really Jörn, this is the best you have? Even your demon cowers before me!"

As Mõrvar hacks twice into the demon, Deathblow bellowing in his mind, the gleaming blade smoking with acid droplets burning into the steel, the rendered shell of demonic flesh disappears with a whiff of sulfur as the second slash penetrates.

Surm comes barreling through the woods with the Handler’s Clasp in hand, with Rilka not far behind.

Mõrvar picks up the discarded longspear that the demon left behind and tells Deathblow to activate its flaming property to burn the acid off, which it does. Mõrvar casts a quick detect magic on the longspear, but does not detect any magical properties on the item. He asks his sword if its okay and Deathblow says, “I am fine. None of the acid burnt through my protections, though my finish may be marred.”

Surm and Rilka arrive on the scene. They see a body bound to a tree, burnt to cinders and smelling of roasted meat and sulfur, Morvar kneeling next to a discarded longspear on the ground.

Session Seventy-Four
The Battle at the Shine


21 Longday 509 (10 pm)

The Crimson Cord and their entourage is encamped in the forests of northern Jossia. Approximately two-and-a-half miles to the north of them is an encampment of Inquisitors of Jörn, led by a man known as “The Darkshadow.” Some two-and-a-half miles north of them is a clearing with what is assumed to be a shrine to the god Isranthr, the Cord’s chosen destination.

The Cord is planning their next move against the Inquisitors. Mõrvar has a plan involving using the crystal ball to pinpoint the location of the Darkshadow, teleporting in, and taking him our, thus demoralizing the Inquisitors. After about two hours of discussion of various options, they decide to try and use their crystal ball to scry the Darkshadow to get a better idea of his current position. Surm performs the hour-long techniques to enact the device—but to no avail; their prey has resisted the effect. They elect to try again.

Meanwhile, Savaric and Rilka work together to get the guards into good positions to avoid an ambush by any incoming Jörnites.

So once again, Surm tries to scry the Darkshadow. After an hour, the murky clouds within the crystal fail to part—the Darkshadow has resisted the effect once again.

It is now approximately 2:30 am. They decide to go to sleep and regroup again in the morning.

22 Longday 509

After getting adequate sleep, the Cord awakes the next morning a bit late. The spend a good part of the morning with another planning session and finally decide to press forward through the forest towards the shrine. They move in 3-person column, leading their horses through the thick foliage with Savaric moving about 100’ ahead and Mõrvar about 50’ behind him, casting detect magic to look for any invisible foes.

About noon, the troupe comes to what appears to be the remains of an encampment. There is an extinguished fire pit and a cleared area. Savaric looks for tracks in the area and determines that a group of about 11 led horses north from here about 4-5 hours ago.

The troupe regroups and follows.

As the party makes it way through the forest, Savaric calls a halt and returns to the rest of the troupe. He tells them that he might be able to use the forest itself to scry upon the Darkshadow. So he casts his forest sense, calling upon the spirits of the trees and mushrooms and other fungal growths of the old forest to give him information on his quarry. But once again, the man seems to shake off the effect.

Savaric returns to the head of the column and they continue through the forest.

As the troupe makes their way, and Savaric is pretty sure he can see the clearing with the shrine emerging through the trees ahead, Mõrvar spots the aura of magic within the radius of his spell.

“Ambush, Savaric!” he cries, giving his companion the second he needs to react as the Darkshadow emerges from behind some nearby cover and attempts to backstab the unsuspecting ranger.

The Darkshadow gets his attack in, but it is not nearly as devastating as it could have been, as Savaric is able to turn the blow away from his vital organs. Mõrvar starts moving forward to help. Alasir gives the order for the guards to attack and they all start moving forward or firing their bows as appropriate. Mahgnus keeps his head down in hopes that it will be over soon.

Mõrvar attacks the Darkshadow, hitting him once with Deathblow, its triumphant cry of blood-lust echoing in his mind. Savaric punches the would-be assassin in the face.

The Darkshadow attempts to perform some sort of spell-like ability, but Mõrvar takes the opportunity to attack him and delivers a pretty solid blow.

Everyone else continues to try to move forward to help, but the difficult terrain of the foliage is impeding any kind of fast movement in the rapidly unfolding battle.

The Darkshadow gets another blow in, but he is finally finished off by a magic missile from Surm. Mõrvar, as per usual, decapitates the body and then strips it down of its belongings. He then places the head in the corpse’s crotch as some sort of sick joke. They catalog and take his magic items and then Savaric takes to a tree to see into the clearing with the shrine.

He sees a rather shallow hill topped with a squat, square building. Surrounding the hill, Savaric sees ten figures trying to hide, though he manages to spot them. He climbs down from the tree and reports back to the others.

The Cord conducts another planning session and decide to have Rilka fly in with her armor and land on the shrine. She will then cast a bane spell to cover all of the Inquisitors. Savaric will fire on them from the trees. The rest of the troupe will surround the area from the trees. As soon as the Inquisitors start to move and reveal themselves, the guards from the trees will fire and/or start moving to attack (as will the members of the Crimson Cord).

Rilka flies out from the trees toward the shrine and Savaric begins shooting the Inquisitors—a bit early, strictly according to the plan. Rilka alights on the roof as three of the Inquisitors at the front grunt and are thrown out of cover from being hit by Savaric’s arrows. Rilka performs her bane prayer and Savaric fires again, as does Leif. Most of the Inquisitors hold their position, except for the now-visible ones who perform a series of spells and litanies, allowing them extra defense and to create magical copycats of themselves to confound their enemies. They also cast hold monster on Leif, paralyzing him in place. They attempt to do the same to Savaric, but he manages to shrug it off.

The rest of the troupe are desperately looking for the hidden Inquisitors, but are having a hard time. They can hear the sounds of battle toward the front of the hill, but nothing toward the sides or the back.

Savaric fires on one of the Inquisitors on the left side of the hill, revealing him to that contingent of the troupe, opening up that theater of the battle.

Rilka joins the fray at the front of the hill.

Leif eventually shakes off his paralysis and rushes forward with the rest of the front contingent, who has, by this time, emerged from the trees.

Two of the Inquisitors at the front have cast a spell that allowed them to place flames on their obsidian daggers.

Surm emerges from the left-side contingent and spots the Inquisitors at the rear of the hill. This allows him to attack them with admonishing rays and reveal two of them to the rear contingent of the troupe.

As the front contingent is being attacked, the right-side Inquisitors reveal themselves as they move to help protect their brethren. The right-side contingent of the troupe emerge from the forest in pursuit.

As the melee is now engaged at all points in earnest, the battle becomes an epic slog. The Inquisitors use their litanies and spells to increase their defenses and to create copycats, making them harder to defeat. Kortash is disemboweled by an Inquisitor—he still lives, but is not doing well. Savaric’s flaming longbow crumbles to ash in his hands, the result of overuse (a fumble). Rilka calls upon her faith in Bruni to summon a guardian dire bear to aid her in the fight. Mõrvar, Garth, Sigrid, and Halvor, all work together to subdue an Inquisitor and get manacles on him. Alfhild is seen has a harbinger of death, as in every combat she joins, an Inquisitor dies.

But, in the end, all the Inquisitors, save the one that is manacled, are dead or dying. The Crimson Cord stands on the now-quiet battlefield, triumphant, if tired from a long, hard-won, battle.

Session Seventy-Three


18 Longday 509 (Yrda)

It is night in the village of Yrda. Surm and Mõrvar Ulrich teleport into the village center from Kalimsport. Surm hopes to make a dramatic and mysterious entrance—but ends up startling the two guards posted nearby. They nearly attack the two brothers, until they are finally recognized and directed to the feasting that is taking place in the main longhouse, a celebration in honor of the arrival of the rest of their troupe. Sullen, Surm makes his way with his brother to join their compatriots in the longhouse.

Inside, the majority of the village is feasting on mutton, mead, and locally-grown vegetables. There are more people than Surm and Mõrvar remember from their last visit. The room smells of roasted meat, sweat, tallow, and stale alcohol. At the head of a long table is King Sigurd, a young woman at his side, and Savaric with Mirka. Rilka has apparently not joined in the festivities—Savaric later reveals that she is holding vigil at the shrine of Bruni.

Sigurd spots the Ulrich brothers and hails them, makes them welcome. He has some of villagers move to make room for them at his table. They sit and and Sigurd asks them what they have been doing since they were last in Yrda and where they go to next. So Surm tells the tale of their clearing out of the Tomb of Secrets—an exciting tale that bends the ears of all at the table. He also says that they will be going to the shrine of Isranthr next, on a holy quest for Savaric. Everyone is very impressed and hails go up for the Crimson Cord and Savaric the “The Twice-Born.”

Soon the feasting is done and everyone disperses. Surm returns to the outskirts of the village to the Crimson Cord encampment while Savaric heads home with Mirka and Mõrvar leaves with one of the serving wenches.

19 Longday 509

Early that morning, Mõrvar is awakened in great pain—someone has stabbed him! He looks around, but sees nothing. His gear seems to be in place—but someone has definitely tried to kill him. He picks up Deathblow—who is chuckling. “What’s so funny?” Mõrvar asks the greatsword.

“The little minx in hiding in the corner,” the sword says, clearly amused.

“What?” Mõrvar asks.

“She stabbed you and is waiting for you to open the door,” Deathblow says, continuing to chuckle darkly.

The sword directs Mõrvar to the proper corner and the Eldritch Knight levels the blade in that direction. “You best come out or it will go worse for you,” he says.

The serving wench, Fala, comes charging out of the shadows with a shortspear. After a few passes with the flat of Deathblow’s blade, Mõrvar manages to knock the woman unconscious without taking any more cuts from the spear.

Mõrvar picks the unconscious woman up and carries her across the the village to the Crimson Cord encampment and deposits her in Surm’s tent. He wakes his brother up and, in an agitated manner, explains to Surm, what transpired. The two arrange with Mahgnus and the guards to have Fala bound and guarded. Savaric and Rilka are also sent for. Mirka accompanies Savaric. Surm goes into the village and gets and Sigurd, thinking that whatever justice needs to be meted should be done with his oversight.

Surm asks Sigurd what he knows about Fala—which isn’t much. He believes she’s been in the village about a year. He doesn’t really know that much about her.

After Sigurd is brought to the encampment, Surm and Mõrvar return to Fala’s home and cast detect magic while Savaric searches the place for anything of interest. Nothing of interest is found. Returning to the encampment, they cast again on Fala herself. On her, they discover that her cloak clasp is magical as well as two of her rings. Upon further examination, the rings are determined to be a ring of protection and a ring of chameleon power. The clasp is an agent’s clasp, allowing her to communicate with a handler with a matching clasp. It also broadcasts her status to that handler. Which means that someone knows that she was knocked unconscious.

Surm decides to try and scry the holder of the matching clasp with the crystal ball they acquired in the Tomb of Secrets. They go to the longhouse and view the the crystal. After about 10 minutes, the cloudy vision clears and they see a hardened human man sitting in a longhouse, eating breakfast with a couple of other men. The other men are wearing dark religious cassocks. The man pushes his food away and says the to others, “Come. We must get into position. They will be heading to the shrine of Isranthr soon.” Then the vision fades.

Clearly, Fala was able to get information to the man about where the Cord was heading next.

Surm heads out about the village to gather information about Fala from the villagers. Rilka, Savaric, and Mõrvar stay behind with Sigurd to question Fala.

Rilka prays to Bruni for healing for Fala and revives her. She looks about nervously at her captors, but says nothing. It’s clear that Mõrvar wants to torture the woman for information, but Rilka refuses. She eventually intimidates the woman into giving up her information.

The men in the cassocks are probably “inquisitors”—religious specialists that root out infidels within and without the cult. She joined the cult of Jörn (“The Sly One”) through a meeting with a blacksmith in Josemeedt that held gatherings in secret. She was told to watch for information on the Crimson Cord and when she passed on her information she was told to kill the Ulrich while she had the opportunity. She was then to go to Braith and wait for further instructions at the Laughing Ogre. She also promises that “The Darkshadow will bring you ruin for what you have done.” Further questioning reveals that the hardened man seen in the scrying is probably this “Darkshadow”—an assassin in service to Jörn. He and the inquisitors have probably been dispatched for retribution for the Crimson Cord’s actions against the cult—they had previously wiped out an entire temple of priests in the west of Jossia.

After Rilka and Mõrvar argue about whether or not Mõrvar can have some “alone time” with Fala, Mõrvar gets fed up and punches the bound woman and leaves.

Two hours later, Surm arrives and gets caught up on the information they managed to glean from Fala. Surm was only able to find out that Fala had lived in Yrda for about a year and mostly kept to herself. Most people believed that she was from “the west” and that she was fleeing some sort of trouble that people were too polite to ask too deeply about.

Everyone involved agrees that they have gotten all they can out of Fala (except for Mõrvar, who is convinced that if he only had some “alone time” with her, he could get better information out of her…). Sigurd has the woman taken to the center of the village. As she is dragged through the streets, the people begin to gather—with Surm’s inquiries earlier in the day and it being a small village, rumors of Fala’s iniquity had begun to spread. Sigurd then addresses the assembled villagers, reminding them of the adversity that they have faced at the hands of the followers of the Sly One and that this women tried to bring more woe upon them by trying to murder one of their own, a hero to the village. That will not stand. Sigurd then has her brought low and decapitates her with his axe. Her head is then placed on a pike at the village entry with a sign of Jörn placed upon as a warning to others like her who would come to bring trouble to Yrda.

The party then gathers and discusses their next plans. Will they go to Josemeedt—-where they suspect this “Darkshadow” and his inquisitors were? Will they press on to the northeast and continue to seek out the shrine to Isranthr? What will they do with this clasp? Mirka says that she has some idea where the shrine is and gives them a description—but that still gives them about 60-70 miles of forest to cover. Savaric invites Mirka to come with them, but she politely declines, citing her duty to the village. She does seem to be bothered by something though, and the two do go to her home and talk privately.

She tells him that she doesn’t think he realizes how important it is that he was brought back to life by a god; that he is god-touched. The fate of world is now entwined with his. That’s huge. It’s big. And she’s scared—because she’s had thoughts that, while she’s never asked anything of him, that maybe when he got tired of wandering, he would come back here and stay with her. But now, she doesn’t think that’s possible. Savaric assures her that anything is still possible and everything will be fine. She seems reassured but gives him a token, a simple silver necklace, to remember her by.

Meanwhile, the others have made plans concerning the return of the wet nurses to the south. Surm and Mõrvar will teleport with the wet nurses to Asdari and then to Kalimsport, buy new scrolls in Kalimsport, and teleport back. The two Ulrich’s make their preparations, take Pratha and Fionna and depart.

Rilka heads to the temple of Bruni and makes a tithing of 40 platinum pieces for the continuing defense of the village.

Savaric spends some extra quality time with Mirka.

After a couple of hours, the Ulrichs return. The party regathers and decide to set off for Josemeedt. They intend to find this blacksmith that Fala mentioned and perhaps root out the cult of Jörn there and get more information on what is going on.

As they set out, Surm decides to put on the Fala’s clasp. He immediately receives a message. “What has happened? Where are you?”

He answers, “I was captured but I escaped. I’ll have another opportunity to kill the Ulrich.”

Later, he receives another message. “Negative. Opportunity blown, fool. Your role is finished. Await orders in Braith.”

Surm takes off the clasp.

After a bit of discussion, they decide to veer away from Josemeedt and head northeast toward the shrine. Along the way, Rilka looks for ambush spots.

When they make camp that night, Surm takes out the crystal ball and scrys the man again. He sees him, his face illuminated by the flickering light of a campfire. Two shadowy forms are near him. He apparently sends two of his followers, “Ajax” and “Warnock” back to Josemeedt to intercept the “little fool” who is returning there and will likely “ruin everything.” Surm is satisfied that their ruse worked—for now.

20 Longday 509

The troupe continues to travel across the plains of Jossia. They make camp that night and plan to continue in the morning.

21 Longday 509

On this day, the troupe hits the edge of the forest to the east of Jossia. Rilka climbs one of the trees to try and get a view of the surrounding land. Savaric begins tracking. Rilka doesn’t see much from her perch and Savaric sees evidence of small game, deer, and a bear.

Savaric tracks the bear and uses his ranger abilities to communicate with it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have very useful information for him—or he doesn’t know the right questions to ask. It’s hard because the bear isn’t very smart. Eventually, he lets the creature go on about his business.

Surm scrys the man again—but the man seems to notice. While riding through the forest, he looks up at the magical sensor and smiles. Surm says to him, telepathically, “I don’t suppose you’ll tell us where you are?”

“That’s not really my style,” the Darkshadow responds. “Seen enough?” he asks after Surm pauses for a bit. Surm breaks off the contact.

When Savaric returns from speaking with the bear, Surm uses his sorcery to turn into a bird and flies reconnaissance while Savaric has Mõrvar cast fly on him while Ilona turns him invisible to do the same. Surm spots the riders some 12 miles to the north of them while Savaric spots a clearing with a hill some 15 miles to the north them—a possible shrine site. The two make their way back after making note of landmark to find their way back to what they had spotted.

The troupe regroups and rides north to follow the riders. Around sunset, Savaric flies up again and spots a thin wisp of campfire smoke coming up from the some two and half miles from them and about two and half miles from the clearing.

Surm tries a couple of times to scry and finally gets through. He sees the Darkshadow once again gathered by a fire pit with two shadowy figures. “They’re not far from here. They’ve been watching us. It won’t be long now. We’ll see it coming—they are not known for subtlety.” He claps one man on the shoulder, leaves the fire pit and clambers into a nearby tree, settles into the branches, apparently to rest.

The group then discusses various plans of attack and whether or not to strike tonight. Savaric seems inclined to bypass them altogether and go to the clearing and see if it is the shrine. But the others want to take out the threat first. Alasir says that the guards would be willing and able to help if there is light to see by—there is a lot of cover with the trees and it is night time—only the half-orcs can see. Rilka can cast “daylight” on a first approach to help.

What will the Crimson Cord ultimately do?