Campaign of the Month: September 2018

Shadows of the Rift

Session Eighty-Eight

A Debt is Paid

spear_of_salvation.jpg

15 Harvest 509

The party has returned to Khazak-Ur after having dinner in Almathriel with Lord Springvale and Valerian Tarsinia, a potential buyer for the dragon egg that they acquired deep beneath the dwarven capitol. The party retires to their rooms at the House of Warship.

16 Harvest 509

Savaric goes into the markets of the dwarven city to commission a necklace to be made for Mirka. He originally wants a silver compass that magically always points to him—but finds that such an item may be too much gold for his tastes. The magical proprietor, Phaedre Silverspike, suggests finding a more mundane jeweler and silversmith.

He finds a jeweler by the name of Tolman Glittergem who has a half-elven silversmith on-site that could meet his needs. Savaric decides on a silver compass pendant with a small ruby chip to represent his heart. The “compass” always points at the ruby chip. This comes much closer to his needed price range and will convey the same message he wants to convey to Mirka—that she can always find his heart. The necklace will be done in three day’s time.

After their shopping spree, the party teleports to Yrda to visit for a short time. Rilka, Kortash, Savaric, Surm, and Gwyn (one of Surm’s new cohorts) make the journey.

They arrive in the center of the village and momentarily startle two guards that are patrolling the central square. The two Northron men wear symbols of Bruni around their necks. Soon, they recognize the Crimson Cord and offer to help them in any way they can. When asked if they wish to see the king, Surm says that they probably should. One of the guards, a young man named Taos, offers to lead them to where Sigurd is seeing to the finishing touches of a new wooden wall around the village.

Sigurd is pleased to see them and offers them the hospitality of the village. He also offers his sympathy for the break that the group has had with Mõrvar. Most of the troupe will be staying overnight, but Surm and Gwyn will be leaving in the evening. Sigurd vows to make space available in the main longhouse for Rilka and Kortash and, with a knowing glance toward Savaric, assures them that Savaric will surely have space in the Hall of Ulfethinn.

Surm takes Gwyn on a tour of the village, stopping first with Rilka at the Hall of Bruni. Savaric goes to find Mirka.

At the Hall of Bruni, the head priest, Dag Falcorsson, welcomes them and gives them some news of the village. As per their previous instructions, the village is being fortified and all strangers are being watched. They don’t want a sneak attack by someone claiming to be their friend. Mirka takes the fellow cleric aside and asks him about any news of a man bearing a strange symbol causing trouble in the Northron lands. Surm and Gwyn leave to continue their tour of the village.

Dag tells Rilka of a tale that a passing skald told of trouble in Rosemeedt on the western coast. Apparently a strange man, in tattered clothes and bearing a greataxe, emerged from the sea covered in ice. He passed through the town, laying waste to all in his path as he made his way out of Rosemeedt. He did, indeed, wear a strange symbol about his neck. Rilka makes note of this information to pass on to the others. She then goes to the central sanctuary of the hall to pray.

Surm and Gwen tour the village and look in on the orphan half-orc babies that they left here some weeks ago. Both Jewel and Cord are doing well and the village as a whole has rallied behind their care. The babes are said to bring the “luck of the Crimson Cord” with them to the village.

Meanwhile, Savaric finds Mirka working on the roof of the entryway to the Hall of Ulfethinn. She notices his approach and deftly leaps down from the low awning. She embraces Savaric and tells him that she has some work for him to do inside. Savaric eventually catches the innuendo and follows her inside to her chambers.

After Savaric’s “work” is done, he tells her of their adventures and the dire portents that have been following them of late. Mirka acknowledges that she can tell that a “storm is coming” but is unsure as to what that means.

That evening, a feast is held at the Hall of Yülthn where Surm is called upon to tell them tales of their adventures. He does a fair job—not up to his standards but more than entertaining enough for this friendly audience. Mead and ale are passed around, along with roasted meats. When asked about her impressions of this village that call the Cord heroes and insists that that they are “home,” Gwyn acknowledges that Yrda is very “quaint.”

After the festivities, Gwyn and Surm teleport back to Khazak-Ur. Rilka and Kortash bed down in the longhouse while Savaric accompanies Mirka back to her chambers.

17 Harvest 509

In Khazak-Ur, Surm goes to the Halls of the Maker to speak with the dwarven priests there about portents of evil and of any news of this murderous man with the greataxe. He speaks to a priest named Fangrim Slatedge. According to the priest, the “Anvils” have seen signs of grim tidings. According to some, The Haduarkan should begin preparations to “return to the bosom of the earth” and that the coming evil is “not a dwarven matter.”

Surm is very dissatisfied with this answer and leaves. He later receives a sending from Rilka via the Agent’s Clasp and he teleports back to Yrda to pick the others up. This time, he brings his cohort Uther.

Upon arriving in Yrda, Rilka, Kortash, and Savaric all gather with Surm and Uther and return to Khazak-Ur.

Rilka goes to the common room of the House of Warship and asks for tidings of trouble from the bards that have come there. They do mention that there have been troubles, but mostly in the human lands to the west.

Surm returns the clasp to Alasir and shares all of the information they have been gathering with him.

18 Harvest 509

The group continues to stay at the House of Warship in Khazak-Ur, waiting for the pieces of the Spear of Salvation to be completed. Savaric picks up his finished necklace for Mirka.

20 Harvest 509

Finally, the group receives word from Tasvian Hammerfall that The Conclave of the Forge have finished the spear pieces.

The group is brought to the central forge where the work has been done and see, sitting on a cloth that has been lain across a folding table in the center of the chamber, is the shaft of Ysarian Steel and the spearhead of orange Cassite crystal.

Savaric reverently approaches the pieces and picks them up. His eyes go start to glow with a strange orange light and he moves away from the table and sets the pieces before him. He then begins to recite prayers in Jossian to the Northron gods: Ulfethinn the Thunderer, Isranthr the Hunter, Saehildr the Flashing Blade, Saemundil the Guardian, and to Bruni the Brave One. He then takes the pieces and melds them together with his hands. The pieces—steel and crystal—mold together as if made of clay and fall into place. Savaric sets the completed spear on the floor and then recites prayers of thanks to each of the same entities. Finally, his eyes return to normal and he finds himself, bewildered, sitting before the completed Spear of Salvation.

Savaric apparently has no memory of saying the prayers and forging the Spear. According to him, he was in the clearing outside of Isranthr’s hall. There, the god thanked Savaric for his work and indicated that his debt was paid, but that the gods would have him fulfill one more task, though he has no debt to pay. Keep the Spear safe until such time as it is ready for him to use. He will know when that time comes. Savaric agrees to do this. Then, the half-orc wakes up sitting on the floor before the completed Spear.

Rilka thinks that Savaric is destined to hunt down this evil.—including the strange man who is wreaking havoc across the lands. Surm is not so sure…he thinks that they are to wait for the time to come. His point is that they don’t “know” anything and that this weapon is for something far worse than that man. Savaric is inclined to hunt down the man. Perhaps the man is a precursor to what is to come and if they can eliminate him, they can stop the evil.

Savaric also shares with the others what he knows about the spear—how it is a powerful artifact against aberrations dedicated to Chaos and that the spearhead, while powerful, can be broken by an ill-placed strike.

The Cord return to the House of Warship with the Spear, after first thanking the Conclave of the Forge for their work.

Back at the inn, the Cord discusses what their next plans are.

Surm reiterates the doesn’t think that they should hunt down the man with the greataxe. They should keep the spear safe and save it for something bigger.

Rilka disagrees: from a strategic point of view, it makes more sense to hunt down the man and deal with him in anticipation of dealing with this coming evil. Savaric is inclined to agree with Rilka.

Surm says that they should rely on their faith and wait. They have been charged with fighting a war, not preventing it. To him, having faith in their gods means standing back and doing what they are told, despite what their own urges tell them.

Rilka concedes that they can’t prepare for the coming evil without more information. Surm suggests that they pray for guidance.

So where will they go next?

They decide to go to Yrda again, first. Savaric wants to give Mirka his gift. Rilka opts to stay behind. So Surm, Savaric, Uther, Bragara, and Darvin teleport to Yrda. Surm introduces the new members of the Crimson Cord cohort to the village while Savaric finds a leatherworker to make a special sheath for the spearhead of the Spear of Salvation. After those arrangements are made, he goes to Mirka to give her the necklace.

Mirka, for the first time since Savaric has met her, is speechless. She embraces him and takes him back to her chambers.

Rilka, in the meantime, fasts and meditates on the problem and prays to Bruni for answers. As she meditates, she finds the world around her fade away and she sits in the Hall of Bruni with a familiar figure. He warns her that she has been calling in a lot of favors of late. She acknowledges this as truth but shares with the figure the confusion and ambiguity of purpose that she is experiencing now in regard to the coming evil. The figure tells her that the gods try to let their charges work their own wills on the world and do not act directly. That figuring out that purpose is part of the journey to the Halls of Aesenjeim. Rilka acknowledges this as truth, but nevertheless seeks guidance. With a sigh, the figure tells her that they are not yet ready to meet the Harbinger. “Travel, quest, grow stronger, and when the time comes you will face him when you have strong enough.” Rilka then finds herself sitting in contemplation, alone, in her room.

Savaric is spending the night in Yrda while Surm and his cohorts return to Almathriel to call on Lord Springvale. The elven lord is delighted at always being surprised by who comes with Surm when he visits. Springvale reveals that he has received an offer from Valerian on the dragon egg: 5000 gold pieces. Surm is unsure as to whether or not that is reasonable offer. Lord Springvale says that he is not sure either, but does know that griffon eggs tend to go for 3500. He also says that Valerian wants the egg before it hatches, not after. This gives Surm pause—why would she want the egg only before it hatches? At any rate, he tells Springvale that he will discuss the offer with the others before committing to it.

Surm also asks of any rumors of dire portent that Springvale may have heard in Almathriel. The nobleman does reveal that there was an incident in the northern port city of Celandacair. The Rose Guard was sent from the capital to help with a rampage that was occurring in the Celandacair docks. Apparently a band of cultists, being led by a large human with a greataxe, were rampaging on the docks and stole a ship. There were some twelve to fifteen cultists and this mighty warrior who, by the accounts Springvale had heard, was unstoppable.

This rumor disturbs Surm. He theorizes that perhaps the warrior was trying to make his way to the Eastern Wastes without crossing the Rift. He thinks that this warrior, whoever he is and whoever he serves, is heading for Godscar—an ancient ruin in the heart of the wastes. It is also the site at which the ritual for which the Cord is searching for components is to be completed in order to achieve the power to “walk among the gods.”

21 Harvest 509

That morning in Yrda, Savaric picks up the completed leather spear sheath. Surm makes several teleport trips from Almathriel, to Yrda, and to Khazak-Ur, eventually getting everyone back to the dwarven capital.

As the Cord relaxes in their suite, discussing their various options and the information that they’ve gathered, Savaric recalls that the dwarves existed before the Rivening—unlike the humans and the elves, at least, according to popular lore. This leads to speculation that perhaps they hid in the mountains during that cataclysm as well.

Rilka asks if all the gods of the various pantheons are sending messages to their priests. Savaric wonders if there will be different weapons made by different pantheons to face the coming crisis.

Eventually, the discussion comes to the perennial question: What’s next?

They have information on how to acquire the Heart of the World for the ritual that they have been seeking components for. This would be of use to their friends at the University of Kalimsport and to the dwarves.

There is also the lead on Sakka the Grim that Mõrvar wanted them to follow when they were on the way to the Rift. Perhaps seeking out this sorcerer will help the Cord get in with the Queen of the Elves? This Sakka is reputed to have killed a member of the Queen’s Guard. Perhaps this is a problem they can help Her Majesty with?

Do they want to take the offer on the dragon egg? Or make the offer elsewhere—like say the Overlord of Kalimsport? They end up deciding not to take the egg to the Overlord. There may be more questions than they want to answer there.

Surm, Darvin, Savaric, Uther, and Rilka teleport to Almathriel to visit with Lord Springvale. There they learn that Lord Springvale doesn’t attend court formally anymore. A bit more prying gets him to admit that long ago he had a dalliance with the Prince of the Stars, Rintheril Theisadalra (a non-inheriting son of the Queen of the Sun, Moon, and Stars). The dalliance ended badly and Springvale was embarrassed and never returned to the court. Apparently, the Prince ended the affair harshly and quite publicly.

Surm urges Springvale to return to court, but with a “win” under his belt. He needs to make a grand re-entrance to court society. Springvale promises to think on it.

The party also show off the Spear of Salvation to the nobleman, who is highly impressed.

After meeting with Lord Springvale, the party heads out to hit the streets for rumors of Sakka the Grim. They learn that the Sakka is a sorcerer that lives in the northern forests of Saelfsidhedal. He is said to control a demiplane of his own that serves as his lair. He has some sort of grudge against Her Majesty the Queen, though no one is sure why. Further, it is clear that “Sakka” is not this figure’s real name.

The party approaches Lord Springvale and Surm asks if he can talk to his friends from court to get more information. He says that he will, but it may take a few days.

Surm also has a new suit of nobleman’s clothes tailored for him for Almathriel. The clothes have a magical design that blooms and shifts as he wears it. It is very chic.

After Surm is measured for his new suit, the party teleports back to Khazak-Ur. There they talk to Alasir. The guards are to start marching toward Almathriel with Surm’s cohort. Rilka puts Tarben in charge of the daily devotional exercises to Bruni.

They check out of the House of Warship and pay the hefty bill. They then bring Mahgnus back to Almathriel with them. There, they are welcomed to stay with Lord Springvale as they wait on more information and for the rest of the guard to arrive.

As the sun begins to set on Almathriel, the party goes to the temple of Celandian, the chief elven deity, to see if they have any dire portents of what is to come. The temple is located in the nearby Rose Ring of the city. The temple is actually a sacred grove with tall, thin columned gazebos placed throughout. The columns have carvings of elves, leaves, and stars upon them. A priestess approaches them, wearing the white robes of her station. Her name is Larinis.

According to Larnis, there are dire portents “writ upon the stars.” An evil comes that will “blot out the sky” and “it’s Harbinger walks the earth.” They have been charged to gather their magics and to have the Queen gather her host to prepare for the coming battle. Rilka and Savaric tell her of the Spear of Salvation and Larinis nods. “It is fitting, that the children of the Aedonii and the Ysar should band together to fight off this evil.” When asked about the Ysar, she tells them that they are said to worship creatures “of the stars and waters.”

After speaking with Larinis, Rilka thinks that it would be good idea to forge alliances and pass the word of the coming danger.

22 Harvest 509

As the group waits for more information from Lord Springvale’s contacts, Rilka recalls that the druid that first told them of Sakka the Grim was named Arianel and that she had reincarnated the Queen’s Guardsman into one of the Vale Folk. Perhaps they can find this halfling and get more information.

They hit the streets and learn that the former Queen’s Guard that is now a halfling is named Quintrell Borathin and can often be found at the Goblin & Mug tavern. He lives in the Traveler’s Ring of the city.

The party heads out to Traveler’s Ring to find the halfling. The Goblin & Mug is a bit of a ramshackle place. The barkeep is a half-orc with long mutton-chops. A drunken human bard performs in one of the corners of the common room. A couple of humans are sitting together playing dice. An elf sits at a table with a half-elf woman in a low-hanging bodice in his lap. And a halfling is playing darts alone in another corner.

The Cord introduces themselves and asks if they can talk to him. Quintrell acquiesces and takes a seat, after throwing his darts expertly at the board to free himself of them.

They sit down at his table, where he has a sizable tankard sitting. He takes a sip from the tankard and asks them what they want to know. They ask him to tell the story of what happened to him in the northern forest.

With a sigh, Quintrell tells how he and a courier named Celand Fornis were traversing the forest when a huge beast emerged from forest. It was big and bore large quills on its sides. Quintrell tried to intervene, but fell. It happened quickly. Then, he woke up—like this. He points to his now halfling self. The druid that saved him, Arianel, saw the sorcerer, Sakka the Grim, emerge from the forest while Quintrell was fighting the beast and make off with the courier. Arianel concentrated on helping the fallen Guard and reincarnated him as a halfling. The sorcerer apparently told the druid as he disappeared that he would have his revenge for her working against his will. He made his way back to Almathriel and tried to continue in the Guards, but it was clear he didn’t belong. So he “retired” and now spends his days here. At the Goblin & Mug, even if he is short of stature, the patrons don’t look down on him. it’s been three or four months since the events in the forest now.

Rilka goes to the bar for drinks and is flirted with aggressively by the half-orc barkeep, who introduces himself as Trost. Rilka rebuffs and takes their drinks back to the table. Throughout the conversation at the table, she looks up to see Trost waggling his eyebrows at her.

Surm asks for a complete description of the quilled beast and determines that it was probably a Bandersnatch—a powerful fey hunting beast. It has little to no weaknesses and is a fierce creature.

Have there been ransoms called for those this Sakka the Grim takes? None that Quintrell is aware of. Have others been taken? Quintrell doesn’t know.

Quintrell asks why they want to know all this and Surm reveals that they intend to find and deal with this Sakka the Grim. If that’s the case, Quintrell will guide them to where Celand Fornis was taken. He wants to help deal with this sorcerer who killed him and took the elf he was in charge of protecting. The Cord accepts his offer and will keep in touch.

As they leave, Rilka refuses to look toward the bar at Trost, but can feel his eyes on her.

That evening, Lord Springvale tells them of the information he’s gained from his friends in the elven court. Sakka the Grim has plagued the Queen for about a century now. He waylays travelers, couriers, and the like, seemingly just to be an irritant. He is reputed to be quite insane and is reputed to have strange creatures under his command. Apparently, the was cast out of the elven court, as well as exiled from the elven lands, for practicing dark magics. He vowed his revenge upon leaving. This former nobleman was called Branderis Voltaran, Keeper of the Seal before his exile and subsequent name-change to Sakka the Grim.

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