Campaign of the Month: September 2018

Shadows of the Rift

Session Seven
Savaric: Monster Hunter

21 Awakening 508 (cont’d)

The party is running from the burning remains of Quain Keep, with Savaric covering their tracks. They frantically run north along the Mondira River, looking for a ford. Once the fording point is found, they make their crossing, with only Savaric being unhorsed. As the sun rises, they camp in the wilderness of eastern Jossia, hoping that the ranger’s efforts have been enough to deter Quain’s soldiers from finding them.

25 Awakening 508

Over the course of several days, the party runs across the wilderness of Jossia to the southwest toward the highlands of northern Leilior. Finally, the arrive at the Ros River. There they find a river ferry they can signal to cross the river. The ferryman lets them know that the town, Stavan, is beset by a “beast”. The local inn, The Green Maiden, closes when the sun goes down. The local lord, Ulliam Stavan, has placed a bounty of 100 gold marks for the beast’s hide.

Arriving at the Green Maiden, the party is met by the proprietor with a bit of consternation over the half-orcs. However, his wife convinces him that with the larger matter of “the beast” that it would be wrong to turn away strangers so close to nightfall. The nervous man acquiesces. The party (covered in soot, dirt, and blood) order baths and rooms (with much complaint at the prices by Surm) and settle into the modest common room.

Despite their questioning (and some intimidation of traveling farmers by Mõrvar), the party finds that the locals don’t want to talk about this “beast”—except for the proprietress of the inn. She is more than happy to discuss it, almost gleeful. The Beast has haunted Stavan for generations, scaring children and adults alike. It has only been in the past month that attacks of livestock have been happening, attributed to the legendary creature. The strangest part of all is that all the blood is drained from its victims. The most recent attack was at Bowlan Greenbough’s farm where he lost two sheep to the Beast.

Surm removes the bounty poster from the tavern wall and announces to all that will hear that Savaric the “monster hunter” who defeated the minotaur under Grundr’s Teeth, will claim this bounty. He buys a round of Tarsian wine for everyone in the common room.

26 Awakening 508

The next morning, after breakfast, the party begins exploring the area, questioning the victims of various “Beast” attacks. At Tannen Corley’s farm, Savaric finds a partial track and determines that beast is bipedal, has clawed feet, and is of medium size. The only clear pattern that emerges from their numerous questions is that something is coming out of the western woods to prey upon the livestock. And whatever it is is either quite strong or has help.

That night, Surm buys a round of Yulanian wine for every one and the party celebrates the free meal that is given to them as the “monster hunters” friends.

Lord Stavan pays the party a visit, wanting to cast his eyes on the “monster hunter” that has come to his village. Soon after taking his seat, Surm and Mõrvar begin to try and up the take of the bounty, first swearing that their comrade, Savaric, the slayer of “Bulvi’s Wolf”, seldom worked for under 500 gold pieces. The Lord reminds the party that he is not hiring a monster hunter, that he is offering a reward for whomever can kill the beast. Nevertheless, he may be persuaded to up the bounty to 150 gold Marks. He then takes his leave of the party.

27 Awakening 508

The party finds a commotion in the common room the next morning—another farm has been attacked. The crowd leads the party Hapner Plowred’s place where two cows have been drained of blood. Savaric finds tracks leading once again into the western woods. The villagers stay behind, whispering amongst themselves as the party ventures into the woods, following the trail of the Beast of Stavan.

ChupThe trail leads about a mile outside of town to a large hill with a narrow cleft worn into its side. The cleft is only about three feet wide, though it stands about six feet in height. Savaric ventures into the small cave where he finds two creatures lying on the floor. One is medium-sized, the other smaller. Both are bipedal, reptilian creatures with iridescent, color-shifting scales and spiny protrusions coming from their back. One, the larger of the two springs up with a predatory hiss and lunges at Savaric. The ranger tries to dodge but is grabbed by the creature, who brings him forward and starts to suck the blood from his body in rapturous frenzy.

Meanwhile, Rilka grabs Savaric to pull him from the cleft in the hill. Savaric desperately tries to disengage from the creature and finally does so, allowing Rilka to yank him from the cleft. The creature steps out of the cave to continue his attack but is slain by the party. Then the other emerges and, despite its great speed, is quickly dispatched.

Mõrvar Ulrich is determined to search out the cleft while Surm wants to go and collect their bounty. While Mõrvar searches, he hears what could be voices from behind the small cave. His curiosity piqued, he rejoins his companions to tell them of his find.

Rilka and Mõrvar find another cave entrance on the far side of the hill. Inside the cave are three passages. The two approach cautiously, listening for voices, but hear nothing. Savaric and Surm stay behind. Mõrvar lights his spear with magic and leads the way down the left-most passage, listening. After a few twists and turns, as well as a descent, the two find a damp, mossy chamber with four mounds situated around a platform on which sits a long box. The box has bronze runes fitted on all sides, writing from a language that neither understand. Mõrvar approaches the box, but does not touch it. Finally, the two decide that this was not the source of the voices and that to leave the box untouched would be best.

Returning to the first chamber, the two now try the middle passage. This passage double-backs on itself several times as it descends into the hill. Eventually the two come upon a grisly sight—a man’s corpse lies in the corridor, his head crushed by a stone. It looks like the body has been stripped and left to rot in the tunnel. Both can hear the faint sound of voices coming from further down the corridor. Fearing more traps, the two exit the tunnel with the body, thinking that it may be that of the soldier Kirlan that had gone hunting for the Beast.

Now Rilka and Mõrvar try the right-most passage. This one is marked by its dampness and sharp descent into a chamber whose floor is mostly covered in water. The clear water of the pool fills the chamber nearly to the walls, leaving a three-foot walkway around the room. Near the water they find piles of dung, indicating that something has been using this as a watering hole. The two back out of the passage and return to the surface.

Mõrvar wants to check the source of the voices while Surm wants to go collect the bounty, as does Savaric. Rilka agrees to stay with Mõrvar while the sorcerer and the “monster hunter” return to Stavan to turn collect the bounty and return the body of Kirlan to Lord Stavan.

Surm and Savaric head into the village to find Lord Stavan. As the sorcerer and the half-orc approach the village, they start to draw a crowd. Whispers of “monster hunter” and “two beasts” can be heard from the group as they approach the village and Lord Stavan’s manor. At the manor house, Surm and Savaric enjoy Lord Stavan’s hospitality as they discuss the bounty and the fact that there were two beasts, not just one. Lord Stavan sees the sense of upping the bounty and pays them in both gold and with a silver torq, a piece of jewelery that the nobleman reassures Surm is not a family heirloom. They also discuss the hill that the other half of the party is exploring. It is known by the locals as Corocal’s Barrow and is said to be haunted. No one approaches the burial place of the ancient king. No threat has ever come from there other than ghost stories told about campfires and taverns. After being fed and bathed, the two make their way back to the hill where their companions await them. Kobold

The party decides to camp in front of the cave entrance to see if anything emerges at night. The camp’s light is away from the entry way, giving the half-orcs space to see at night with their darkvision. During Rilka’s shift, a strange-looking creature emerges from the cave. It is a small, reptilian humanoid carrying a spear and a shield. As Rilka stirs the others, it is joined by a companion. The two converse in an unknown tongue. They finally seem to notice the camp and approach on the attack, but both are quickly dispatched by the party.

Session Six
Fire and Sorcery

21 Awakening 508 (cont’d)

The roof is lit by bright, instantaneous light that Surm identifies as a “Flare” spell—a low-level cantrip. Suddenly the roof is covered by volleys of arrows apparently being fired from the walls that run parallel to the keep. The party makes their way through several volleys to the edge of the catwalk on the keep to find cover from at least one side of the archers. They use their wand of healing along the way to keep everyone moving from the numerous hits of the arrows.

After several volleys have passed, a voice calls out from below. “This is futile! The only way to avoid death is to throw your weapons over the side of the keep!”. Mõrvar and Savaric answer with shots toward the archers with longbow and crossbow.

A voice identifying himself as Lord Quain calls out demanding to know who they are and what they hope to accomplish by this. Surm answers that they are the Peasant Liberation Front and they are tired of the way that they are treated by Lord Quain.

In the meantime, Mõrvar and Savaric make their way to the torches left by guards killed on the northwest side of the roof. Mõrvar uses sorcery to take one of the torches and then casts it into the hole they had previously made in the roof, catching a tapestry on fire near the mezzanine.

As Surm lists the demands of the PLF, Lord Quain screams “You dare! Men, kill them all!” Shouts of “Fire!” and “Sorcery!” emerge from the hole as Mõrvar continues to cause a torch to dance about the guards attempting to put out the fire in the mezzanine.

At Quain’s order, men start emerging from the towers and volleys of arrows are let fly—even at the risk of killing Quain’s own soldiers. Surm and Rilka fight off guards at the northeast tower while Mõrvar and Savaric shoot at the guards in hole. After Surm and Rilka dispatch their guards, Mõrvar and Savaric start making their way back to the tower. Surm and Rilka enter the northeast tower and head downstairs into the keep while Mõrvar and Savaric intercept the guards that are coming from the other towers and converging at the northeast.

Inside, Surm and Rilka make their way through the long corridor that comprises “Tower Hall”. The corridor makes a perimeter about the keep, allowing only two entrances to the guard towers. Muffled shouts are heard from deeper within the keep. Surm decides to stay in the keep while Rilka doubles-back to the roof to aid Savaric and Mõrvar. She bolts the tower doors behind as she makes her way up. Surm finally finds an exit from “Tower Hall”—only to find it guarded. He bars that door and returns to the southwest tower to ponder his next move.

In the meantime, Rilka has returned to Savaric and Mõrvar, who have dispatched more of the guards. They decide to head into the keep and catch up with Surm. Smoke is starting to pour out of the hole in the roof.

Meanwhile, Surm has climbed to the top of the tower and sees a series of lights of illuminate the roof from above. The sorcerers both identify the spell as “Dancing Lights”, another low-level cantrip, probably meant as a signal or temporary illumination of the roof. Surm drops down to the catwalk, stealthily evading the guards that are gathering around the hole in the roof. Surm makes his quiet way to the northeast tower—his original entry point into the keep and the only tower without barred doors. As he makes his way down, he bars the doors behind him, effectively trapping eight of the guards on the roof.

Rilka, Savaric, and Mõrvar, meanwhile, have dispatched a pair of guards in the “Tower Hall”. They find the barred tower door of the southwest tower and decide to make their way back to northwest tower to secure that door. At the other end of “Tower Hall” they find a guard, which the three quickly dispatch. Savaric enters the tower and bars the door. They are then met by Surm who has secured the northeast tower.

The reunited party emerges from the “Tower Hall” into a foyer. Directly across from them are two guards hacking at the other hall entrance with axes. These guards are quickly dealt with by the party.

The foyer has two arched doorways as well as the doorway leading into the center of the keep. There is also an open set of double-doors leading to the outside. Smoke is pouring into the foyer from the central hall. Muffled shouts are also heard from within. Surm decides to check out one of the arched doorways.

In the gloom of the smoke, three figures emerge from the center of the keep and are killed—two are guards but one is a finely dressed woman with a purse and no weapons. Though she was killed by Rilka, Mõrvar quickly takes time to search her body for valuables, taking her jewelery and purse.

Mõrvar rejoins his brother in the next room, a kitchen with a pantry and nearby servant’s quarters. The pantry has a staircase leading down, which Mõrvar decides to investigate. Surm decides to search the other side of the foyer with Rilka while Savaric joins Mõrvar in the basement.

Finding a locked door, Mõrvar attempts to open it by casting “acid splash” on it indefinitely until the lock is eaten through. Inside he finds a wine cellar. Taking several bags from his pack, he takes some of the bottles. Across from the wine cellar, Mõrvar also finds the keep’s well. Meanwhile, Savaric searches out a storage area filled with old furniture, paintings, festival decorations, and the like, finding nothing of interest.

While Mõrvar and Savaric search out the basement, Surm and Rilka search the other side of the foyer. Here they encounter and search a small library, a lush receiving room, a study, and a well-searched closet. Finding nothing of interest, they re-emerge into the smoky foyer, discouraged. Determined to find something of value for all this trouble, Surm attempts to enter the main hall but turns back due to the smoke.

Savaric and Mõrvar return from the basement and search the library, closet, and study again. This time Mõrvar finds a secret compartment in the study desk containing a pouch with 50 gold coins and a compartment in the bookcase that conceals a book. The party reunites in the smoky foyer after hearing several loud crashes from the second floor.

Surm drags the body of whom they assume to the Lady Quain into the main hall while Rilka throws two guard bodies outside into the torchlight. The two guards are fired upon by arrows. The party decides to exit the keep through the northeast tower.

After climbing to the top the tower, Savaric climbs to the roof of the tower to see a guard dangling from one of the walls, trying to escape the fire that has already caused two parts of the roof to collapse. The party then stealthily makes their way along the catwalk to the far end of the keep, away from the soldiers that are gathered below to catch their comrades. They climb down the keep wall on knotted rope—except for Savaric, who falls trying to climb the wall without the aid of rope.

The party then trots to the broken section of wall where they first entered the keep, depending on the fire to maintain a decent distraction for the soldiers on the ground. Both Surm and Savaric fall from the wall as they make their way out of the keep, with Savaric needing to be healed by the wand yet again in order to continue. They make their way to their hidden horses and ride out as fast as they can with Savaric attempting to hide their tracks. They plan to find a ford in the river and head south to the city of Skeene in Leilior.

Session Five
Quain Keep

21 Awakening 508

Mõrvar Ulrich and Rilka remain on the northeast tower of the keep wall. Quickly, each dons a soldier’s overlay while Mõrvar prepares a ruse with his magic and his own guile. Using a spell, he transports a torch east, and then north from the tower while shouting that the intruders are heading north. In the meantime both Mõrvar and Rilka spot torches heading her way down the keep wall. They hear a shout to head toward the north and north-east towers, that the intruders are escaping. The ruse has worked—all too well. Soldiers are beginning to gather at Rilka and Mõrvar’s tower!

In the meantime, Surm Ulrich and Savaric find themselves in a lighted corner of the keep facing soldiers as they emerge from their barracks. Savaric dispatches one as Surm attempts to put out the torch with his cold magic. The torch sputters and Savaric fights on as more soldiers begin to emerge from the barracks. Surm summons a fire beetle to assist Savaric. Savaric fights on. Finally Surm manages to put out the torch, throwing the corner into darkness. Then he casts a Ghost Sound to give the impression that they have run around the corner of the barracks. Finally, he casts a whisper on the wind toward Mõrvar and Rilka to tell them that they need help below.

By this time, Rilka and Mõrvar have descended from the tower and the eluded the gathering soldiers at the wall. All four sneak carefully across the courtyard as soldiers gather from both ends of the barracks and make their way northeast at the command of a voice that rings across the keep. The soldiers are commanded to enact “Drill A”. Keeping to shadows as much as possible, the band hug the wall of the keep proper, making their way west toward the gates. As they make their way, they hear the shout of “who goes there?” from one of the soldiers on the wall. Mõrvar manages to bluff his way past, saying that he is “checking the perimeter”. The man on the wall corrects him with disgust, telling him that he is either to gather at the front of the keep or at the northeast tower. Mõrvar assures him that he will do just that and the band continues to sneak across the darkened courtyard.

Finally the party arrives at the northwest tower of the keep proper. Gazing around the corner, they see more torches and soldiers gathering at the keep’s gate. Rilka climbs the tower and sets up a grapple and rope for the others to climb—but not without nearly falling in the process. The others scramble up the rope onto the roof of the keep. Here they see walkways emerging from each of the four keep towers and a wood beam/tile roof. At Surm’s suggestion, the party makes their way to the center of the roof and starts removing tiles. Finally, they come to the wooden planks of the roof. Surm attempts to remove a plank, using the grapple to pry it loose. He does so—but also jars the gathered tiles as well. Gazing into the keep, the party sees soldiers beginning to gather at the tops of the stairways near their entry point through the roof. They have been detected.

Soldiers begin to emerge from the towers. The party runs into the nearest tower as the other soldiers arrive right behind them. They bar the door shut as they run down the stairs of the tower.

Once they reach the bottom of the stairs, they can either exit the tower via a door or continue down a set of stairs. They bar the door and head further down. Finally they are met with a locked door. Using the grapple as a pry bar, they manage to pop the locked door open. Moving on, they find another locked door. Prying this one open as well they find themselves in a small dungeon comprised of three empty cells and no other way out. With no other options, they make their way back up the stairs of the tower.

As they pass the first barred door at ground level, they can see that soldiers are attempting to hack through it with an axe. They can also hear a man identifying himself as Lord Quain assuring them that they “may find mercy if they surrender themselves. Otherwise, they will surely find nothing but death.” They continue up the stairs to emerge again on the roof.

This time they are met with a retinue of archers and spear-men. Rilka fights her way through one side while Savaric fights his way through the other. The tide of the battle turns against, even with Surm and Mõrvar casting spells to assist their friends. Surm is forced to used the healing wand that he had purchased in Sarra the previous day to keep Rilka in fighting shape. He runs back and forth between Rilka and Savaric, keeping both the warriors alive as they finally turn the tide of battle back to their favor. Rilka and Savaric eliminate the archers and spear men, leaving the roof momentarily empty—but only momentarily…

Session Four
Almaric's Proposal

12 Awakening 508

After camping en route from sunken temple back to Josemeedt, Mõrvar has a vision again from the imprisoned Seal of Akthalos. Both he and his brother, Surm, are wielding stones, conquering all manner of enemies and slaying them before them. Orcs, elves, dwarves, and men fall before their, and the stones’, might.

13 Awakening 508

That sundown, the party returns to Josemeedt. They are met, once again, with stares and speculation, especially having come back with the priest, Grimnir Erolsson. That night, in the common room of the hall of Yülthn, the party discusses their options and the various merits and setbacks of Almaric’s proposal. The foreigner even approaches them at one point but is told that they are still discussing the proposal.

The party also discusses Grimnir’s plans concerning the stone. He will gather a party of men, perhaps some of the warrior-priests of Saemundil that reside in Josemeedt, to take the artifact northwest to be destroyed. He offers to allow the party to go but Surm Ulrich declines, stating that the stone has had too much influence already over his brother.

14 Awakening 508

Surm Ulrich and Mõrvar Ulrich take the various goods recovered in the temple around to the vendors of Josemeedt to trade for cash and supplies. In order to sell tapestries at the Meedt, Mõrvar must meet with the Trademaster to establish himself as a vendor. The Trademaster drives a hard bargain with the sorcerer, finally demanding 4% of his take as the Meedt’s share. Later, Mõrvar manages to barter the tapestries to Korl Bransson, the horsetrader, for 8 fine horses.

That evening they approach Almaric about his proposal. Allowing Mõrvar to do the talking, the party listens as he tells the foreigner that if they determine that his tale is true and the book is his and that they recover it, the party will gladly sell his Grimoire back to him for 100 gp. Almaric does not like the sound of this deal at all, offended that his tale is called into question and that the party continuously pries into affairs that, to his mind, have nothing to do with retrieving the Grimoire. Further, put in those terms, he is afraid that the “price” for the Grimoire has become negotiable and will rise at a later date. The party is disconcerted by the man’s hesitation to divulge his background but agree to pursue the proposal and retrieve the Grimoire from Matrim Quain.

15 Awakening 508

The party first decides to head to the city of Sarra, some 11 miles south of Quain’s keep. According to Almaric, the keep is due east of Josemeedt, 5 miles from the Mondira River that marks the border between Jossia and Borael.

16 Awakening 508

The party continues to travel toward Sarra.

17 Awakening 508

The party continues to travel toward Sarra and arrive at the Mondira River. Here they decide, instead, to travel north and find a village or a bridge at which to ford the river. This location may also prove to be a “getaway” spot in the event that the heist of the Grimoire goes badly.

18 Awakening 508

The party continues to travel north along the river. Across the water they spot a tower flying the colors of the queen of Borael. Finally, near sundown, the party reaches a fishing village at the mouth of the river. They send Surm into the village to check it out.

The village, Filnas, straddles the river. There is a main bridge that is manned by Boraelan troops. These troops serve Queen Beatrix Marat of Borael. They collect taxes for Her Majesty from all those that would cross into her lands. Surm leaves and reports back to the party that perhaps this isn’t the place they want to cross—it is small and they will be noticed in the crossing. They decide, instead, to head to Sarra where at least they may be lost in a crowd.

19 Awakening 508

The party heads south along the river toward Sarra.

20 Awakening 508

Around midday, the party reaches the junction of the Ros River and the Mondira River. Around a natural harbor formed by the conjunction of the waters stands the city of Sarra. The city flies the banners of both the Queen of Borael and those of a black falcon on a field of blue. The party purchase a ferry ride across the rivers and are met by Boraelan soldiers at the harbor to collect entry taxes. Rilka declares her flask of mead as alcohol under their tariff and, rather than having her pay, the soldier merely pours out the flask. This seems to anger Mõrvar more than Rilka.

After a bit of asking about, the party heads for the Crimson Goose, a “reasonably priced” establishment to stay the night. The Goose is a busy establishment that seems to cater to humans, elves, and dwarves. The half-orcs receive some stares but not the open hostility of Josemeedt. Savaric buys a round of drinks for a table full of dwarves after greeting them in their own tongue while Mõrvar attempts to woo a elf maiden. Savaric is the more successful of the two, securing an introduction to a dwarf called “Throndin” while Mõrvar receives nothing but haughty disdain.

After discussing various plans of action, Surm decides to seek out a shop of arcana in hopes of getting information on Almaric and to secure healing magics. Mõrvar woos another girl in the common room, this time setting his bar a bit lower, and succeeding. In the meantime, Savaric passes out in a drunken stupor.

At the arcana shoppe, Surm discovers that much of Almaric’s story was true. His master was a man called “Bulsara” who was murdered, apparently by bandits, on the road between Sarra and Northold. This occurred about 10 years ago. The current Queen has reigned for 15 years, so Surm supposes that Almaric (whose full name is Almaric Amberscale) may not have had any proof against Quain. The proprietor also sells him a wand of light healing that can used 42 more times Cure Light Wounds. Surm trades a mithral bracelet for the wand.

Once the party gets back together at the Crimson Goose, it is decided that they will approach the keep on the following day.

21 Awakening 508

Initial reconnaissance of the grounds of the keep indicate that it is surrounded by a perimeter of farm land extending about a mile from the main keep walls. Various cottages dot the lands, probably homes for the serfs attached to the lands. The keep itself sits on top of a hill overseeing the lands.

The party waits until nightfall and then sends Savaric to scout ahead. He sneaks up to the walls and makes his way around to the rear of the property where he sees that a portion of wall has worn away, making it only 15’ high instead of the 20’ of the rest of the wall. The guard towers house two men each. One man will stay in the tower while the other walks the wall at irregular intervals. The towers stand 10’ higher than the wall. There are 6 guard towers in total, including the gate towers. Savaric reports back to the others.

The party decides that the 15’ high section of wall will be their entry point. Perhaps the irregular intervals of the soldiers indicates a lack of discipline that the party can take advantage of. First Savaric goes up, securing a grapple and rope for the others to use. Next comes Rilka, followed by Surm Ulrich, and finally Mõrvar Ulrich. Each manage to stay silent and dodge the scrutiny of the wandering guardsman—until all are on the wall. Then, from an adjacent guard tower, they hear the sound of “who goes there?” Surm, thinking quickly, casts a spell and the sound of dogs barking and running away fills the night. After a heart-wrenching few moments, the party continues down the wall toward the north-east gate.

The last one to enter the tower is Mõrvar. The sound of his entry is heard by the guard on the platform above them. He looks down with a cry of alarm, followed by “INTRUDERS!”. Mõrvar stabs him with his longspear. Surm and Savaric continue down the tower while Rilka and Mõrvar face the incoming soldiers. After dispatching two more soldiers, Mõrvar and Rilka are left to cover their exits from the tower…

Session Three
Return to the Temple

5 Awakening 508

After emerging from the Temple, frightened by the power and influence of the green gem, the party travels eight miles away to camp. The plan? Go to Josemeedt and look for answers. They haul the bodies of the party they found inside up on their mules and head east.

6 thru 8 Awakening 508

Travel to Josemeedt.

8 Awakening 508

The party arrives in Josemeedt and are met with hostility and suspicion. Part of this is due to the fact that they are a band of strangers hauling a pair of dead bodies on their mules. The other part is due to the fact that two of their band, Rilka and Savaric, are Half-Orcs.

The party ties off their mules in front of the Hall of Yülthn. Mõrvar Ulrich and Surm Ulrich decide to go inside while the Half-Orcs wait outside with the mules.

“It’s shameful that the people of Josemeedt allow such scum within its walls!”

Rilka and Savaric turn to find a young Northron man staring at them belligerently. Rilka decides to ignore the young man, maintaining a soldierly mien, while Savaric levels an intimidating stare at the man and snarls. “Then leave. Now.” Properly cowed by Savaric, the man skulks back into the gathered crowd.

Meanwhile, Mõrvar and Surm are inside the hall, a raucous tavern full of travelers hoisting ale and laughing boisterously. The two are approached by a older man with a crooked staff. “Be welcome in Yülthn’s Hall, travelers!” The two explain that they have come with the body of a fellow priest and a tale to tell. The priest, who introduces himself as Grimnir Erolsson, offers to go outside and identify the bodies.

The three exit the hall to find a hostile crowd surrounding the Half-Orcs and a scowling young man fading back into the crowd. Grimnir identifies the priest as “Gunnar” and said that he and the others had come to Josemeedt with a map looking for information on the area presented. He arranges to have pyres built to burn the bodies and to have the mules stabled. Grimnir then brings the party into the hall to talk.

Grimnir leads them into a private room in the hall. He looks uncomfortably at the Half-Orcs but says “All with the blood of men in their veins are welcome in Yülthn’s hall.” Surm and Mõrvar explain how they found the bodies and where, as well as what they encountered with the strange green gemstone. Grimnir reveals that Gunnar was on some sort of mission from his temple, a mission to “find a great evil before it was too late”. He suspects that this gem may be what Gunnar was looking for. Grimnir also believes that the temple may have belonged to the Aedonii, an ancient race that lived before the dawn of man and that this evil may be as ancient as it is powerful.

Grimnir also identifies the symbol of the ring of flame as being the symbol for Jörn, a lying and murderous god who may, or may not, be the son of Yülthn. So if that cult is aware of the gem, they must not have it. Grimnir does not know what the stone is or what it is capable of, but thinks he knows of one who does—a hermit by the name of Karse who was a priest of Yülthn. He lives north of Josemeedt.

Grimnir asks the party if they would be willing to return to that temple, if he had a way to contain the gem. The party acquiesces. So, Grimnir announces that they may stay in the common room of the hall and have food without charge. The party can re-provision with the various vendors in the Meedt. The next day they will travel to see Karse and go from there back to the temple.

While shopping, the party is interrupted by the same youth from before, now accompanied by two friends. “Hey, scum! I’m surprised that your friends haven’t stabled you with the other animals!” Mõrvar steps forward, and with an intimidating air, warns the group off. “Go away. Leave us alone.” The group, cowed by Mõrvar’s dangerous look, leave.

That night, the party is approached by a foreigner by the name of Almaric who offers them a job that is “less than reputable”. Apparently a Boraelan lord by the name of Matrim Quain has taken a grimoire that rightfully belongs to Almaric. Almaric claims that it once belonged to his master and should have been passed to him but it was taken by the same “brigands” that killed his master—brigands he believes were sent by Quain. Quain has the grimoire and apparently moves it from estate to estate, hoping to keep it out of Almaric’s hands. Almaric thinks it is currently being held at Quain’s keep, to the east of Josemeedt, just beyond the Mondira River. He also warns the party not to be foolish enough to open the grimoire and that they will know it by its clasp of twin dragons. The party tells him that they have another task to take care of first but if Almaric is still in Josemeedt when they return, then they’ll talk about it then.

9 Awakening 508

The party spends most of the day traveling north to Karse’s hermitage, a small cottage nestles between two hills.

Karse is an irascible old man, annoyed at having visitors. Nevertheless, he listens to what Grimnir and the party have to say. He believes that the gem is one of five Seals of Akthalos. It is sentient and quite evil. According to what is known of the The Aedonii, the bringing together of these seals would bring about a cataclysm. Grimnir believes that Gunnar’s mission was to find and destroy this Seal. According to Karse, it would take something powerful to destroy such an artifact—such as molten lava or a volcano.

Surm feels that it is isn’t the party’s problem to take care of the gem, but that if they can contain the gem, he’s willing to help Grimnir collect it. The rest of the party agrees. Karse gives Grimnir a thrice-blessed box in hopes that it will contain the gem’s evil influences. Tomorrow, the five of them will travel to the temple to collect the gem.

10 Awakening 508

The party travels from Karse’s cottage toward the temple.

11 Awakening 508

After another day of travel, the party reaches the temple’s crawlspace by sundown. They decide to camp and enter the temple in the morning.

12 Awakening 508

The party, with Grimnir, enters the temple.

Mõrvar has a vision of himself, a crown upon his head decorated with a glowing green gem, sitting upon a throne as throngs of people bow before him. He keeps this vision to himself.

Before heading straight to the green gemstone chamber, the party decides to check out the rest of the temple. While in the sanctuary, they cast light upon the bloody skeletons across the pit. Grimnir doesn’t seem to mind the sorcerous nature of the light, being more curious than afraid.

On the other side of the temple they encounter a dining hall and a kitchen and a parlor before coming to an impassable cave-in. Turning back, they come across a scriptorium. Most of the scrolls dissolve in their hands, but one survives. It is written in an indecipherable script but is obviously magical in nature.

Mõrvar has a another vision of himself, this time opening a secret door in the depths of the temple, revealing piles of treasure within.

Coming back to the sanctuary, the party decides to take care of the bloody skeletons before heading down to the gemstone chamber. After successfully defeating the creatures, they cast the bones into the pit.

Finally, the party descends into the depths of the temple.

Once below, they see the bones of the Aedonii that were disturbed upon their last visit. Mõrvar informs the party that he doesn’t think it’s a good idea if he goes into the chamber. He tells the rest about his visions—including about the secret treasure room. Sure enough, the party finds the indicated secret door but it opens into a corridor, not a treasure room.

Traveling down the winding, switch-back corridor, the party encounters a series of traps along the way, including a 5×5′ pit that party must leap across (to varied success) and a poisoned dart—which reduces Savaric’s health severely. Eventually Savaric, who has been unsuccessful in finding any of the traps, finds a secret panel in one of the walls.

Deciding to continue down the corridor before exploring what is beyond the secret panel, the party continues down the hall. Eventually the corridor ends in an trapezoidal room. The party goes into the room to check it out when a portcullis falls, trapping everyone but Surm in the room. Eventually, the stout half-orcs and Mõrvar manage to lift portcullis and wedge a crowbar into the groove long enough to get everyone out of the room. The party then decides to check out the secret panel.

The secret panel opens into an octagonal room into which Rilka steps. Mõrvar stands ready with his long spear behind her. As she walks into the room, a Dretch Demon materializes in front of her in a cloud of its own stench. Her guts are shaken with fear as it attacks. Mõrvar continues to attack from behind with the reach of his spear. In short order, the demon is dispatched and the party continues into the treasure room.

After divvying up the treasure, the party then decides to go into the gemstone room. Mõrvar stays back with Rilka while Surm, Grimnir, and Savaric (who has recovered from his poisoning) proceed. Once they get into the altar room, Savaric has a vision of himself wielding a mighty sword with a gemstone set into the hilt decimating armies before him. The gem also heals Savaric, seemingly drawing life from his companions to do it. Grimnir works on getting the gemstone out of the altar. Grimnir seems to pause as he goes to place the stone in the box so Surm takes it and the box from Grimnir and shuts the gem inside. Surm then has a vision of he and his brother conquering thousands. Disturbed by the visions, Surm directs everyone to get out there.

Finally, the party reunites and then exits the temple.

Session Two
The Darkness Within

5 Awakening 508 (continued)

…The party leaves the room with the statue and enters a wide sanctuary split by the 5’-wide rift. The room is distinctive with 5′ × 5′ alcoves along its left side, the walls of each adorned in the nightmarish tentacle motif of the pillars. Rilka and Savaric lead the way, looking ahead with their darkvision, while the two sorcerers ( Surm and Mõrvar ) remain behind, lighting their way with the eldritch glow of magic upon Mõrvar’s spearhead.

Finally, the party comes to a halt at a scene of carnage. Five lifeless bodies lie on the ground before them. Two of them are warriors, marked as such by their weapons and armor. Another carries a crooked staff in the manner of a follower or priest of Yülthn. The two others are skeletons, covered in slick blood—both wear ragged chain armor and carry rusted, broken scimitars. While Mõrvar contemplates the scene, Rilka declares that the men were fighting the skeletons, citing her soldier’s training for her authority—an assertion with which Mõrvar concurs. Further, it appears that the follower of the All-Father had attempted to use holy water on one of the creatures. The blood on the skeletons is much fresher than that of the wounds on the men, which Surm ascertains occurred a few days ago. The sorcerers speculate that perhaps ritual magic was used in the case of the skeletons. In the meantime Savaric has determined that bloody trails lead from the skeletons into the darkness up ahead. Searching the bodies of the fallen, Surm finds another map to this location—this one more professionally made and using Josemeedt as a landmark. He also finds more holy water as well as assorted traveling gear.

While the party debates the grisly scene before them, they are interrupted by the sound of click-clack-clanging coming from ahead, further into the sanctuary. The party immediately goes on their guard as, emerging into the light, they see three armored, bloody skeletons coming towards them, weapons raised to attack. Rilka manages to dispatch hers with her falchion, though she notes that the bones are hard to cut with her blade. Savaric attempts to do the same to his creature but his blade is impeded by the lack of flesh on the bones. Mõrvar attempts to keep the third at bay with his long spear but fails as it moves in to attack. In the meantime, Surm had managed to take a flask of holy water from one of the bodies, water which he flings at the skeleton on his brother. It recoils in pain but continues to advance. Rilka moves to do battle with the creature fighting the humans—allowing Savaric’s foe to take a swipe at her with his blade. Savaric fells his skeleton while the others destroy theirs. Finally, the party bloody and tired, the battle is done.

More sounds of click-clanging are heard on the other side of the rift. Mõrvar casts light upon a stone and throws it across to light the area. Three more skeletons are scene advancing from alcoves across the way. They stop their advance at the rift. After an attack by Mõrvar with his long spear, the skeletons retreat to their alcoves, only to be spelled to destruction by Mõrvar, who lobs acid at them.

The party advances further into the sanctuary, wondering why people are seeking out this place of darkness—and just how many more have maps to find it.

At the north end of the sanctuary, they find a broken obsidian altar, carved with the same strange tentacle motif found on the pillars. Rilka inspects the altar and finds that it has grooves made to collect blood. Skirting past the altar through a doorway made narrow by the rift, the party finds themselves in a vestibule. The rift ends here in a 10’ wide pit. The floor and walls are covered in mosaics depicting tall, thin priests summoning tentacled clouds of darkness from the skies.

Moving on, the party enters a vestment chamber. Desiccated wardrobes hang open, revealing ancient rotten robes that disintegrate at a touch. Mosaics in the room depict tall thin priests being dressed by pages and servants wearing spiked, oppressive collars. The party must choose to continue to the east or west side of the structure. They choose west.

The party enters a wide, oddly-shaped corridor. Mosaics along the walls depict shadowy forms in the sky smiting armies upon the ground. From here the party decides to check out what is beyond a rotted wooden door. Entering, they find an receiving room with two rotted armchairs and an ancient sideboard. There is an arched doorway to the north that opens into a bedchamber. Delicate tapestries depict a tall, thin priest being crowned by shadowy figures in the sky. A large bed, a gold-trimmed basin table with a tarnished brass basin, a desk, and a wardrobe fill the room. The desk holds ancient parchments, crumbling to dust, covered in indecipherable marks and sigils. Extensive searches reveal nothing of interest in the room.

Leaving the bedchamber and returning to the corridor, the party arrives into an antechamber with an iron spiral staircase leading down. A rotted wooden door marks the south wall. Mosaics depict more of the tall, thin priests bowing before shadowy figures in the sky. The door reveals a long hallway lined with dormitory rooms, none of which hold anything of interest, save mosaics on the ceilings depicting tentacles descending down. After an extensive search of each room, the party heads down the spiral staircase.

The staircase descends into a large antechamber with mosaics depicting more of the strange thin priests bowing before shadowy figures in the sky. There is a corridor leading west. Following the corridor, the party comes upon a series of cells, each guarded with a locked door and a portcullis. Continuing down the corridor, they find a large room with a rotating table in the center. The table has leather binding straps upon it. Along the walls are chains and manacles. A wooden cabinet holds the rusted implements of torture within it. The party, save for Mõrvar, is appalled—though he does reiterate that there is something creepy about this place overall.

Nevertheless, they decide to open one of the cells. After ;Mõrvar and Rilka demonstrate their strength, they manage to open the rusty portcullis and break into a cell. Inside is the skeletal remains of an unusually tall and thin humanoid—not human. The party, despite an indifferent Mõrvar, decide to take out all of the bones to inter them outside the temple.

As Mõrvar heads toward the spiral staircase, he sees a vision of a tall, thin priest unlocking a secret panel in the wall opposite the corridor and heading inside. Mõrvar then sets down his load and goes to the wall—and sure enough, there is a secret panel. The others come with their burdens and ask him what he is up to. He tells them about the vision and the secret door. The party is instantly on its guard against whatever gave him that vision. Nevertheless, Mõrvar convinces the party to check out what is beyond the secret panel.

The party continues down a wide corridor until their way is blocked by a collapsed debris and a crawlspace. Crawling through, they find themselves in a partially collapsed chamber another altar in the center of the room. The mosaic on the floor here depicts a massive, tentacled beast. The walls have mosaics depicting this beast destroying cities and people. Set into the altar is a green gemstone, pulsing with green light. The room grows warm.

Mõrvar has another vision, this time of a tall, thin priest casting spells through the green gemstone and burning through warrior after warrior on a field of battle. This causes a great deal of consternation in the party—as well as fear. Suddenly, Mõrvar feels re-energized with life while everyone else feels a cold pain enter them. Surm declares that they need to get out of here now—that this gem is not good and who knows why it wants Mõrvar. He doubts that they have the power to destroy it—an utterance upon which the room starts to grow cold, convincing the party to leave with haste through the crawlspace. They decide to leave the bones behind.

Arriving at the sanctuary once again, the party is met by two bloody skeletons, returned to life! They once again strike them down. Continuing on, they discover that the skeleton that Surm had splashed with holy water did not rise—prompting Surm to sprinkle holy water on the fallen skeletons. Mõrvar casts their bones into the rift.

Surm thinks that the party should collect the fallen men and go to Josemeedt to find a priest of Yülthn and let them know what they found. He doesn’t want to loot the bodies to get the goodwill of the priest. So the party hauls the bodies up and out of the crawlspace and out of the temple. Dirty and tired, the party finds themselves outside in late afternoon with three dead bodies and a lot of unanswered questions.

Session One
The Sounds of Battle

4 Awakening 508

The battle against the massive wolf is done and the party buries Soderic upon a nearby hill. As Savaric finishes saying words over his brother, the sounds of battle are heard coming from a nearby rise. The party investigates.

Upon the rise the party spies four massive Urkhani (Orc) warriors felling a human in robes. Savaric calls to them in their native tongue to “Stop!”. This seizes the Orcs’ attention and they begin to charge. Mõrvar strides forward, an intimidating scowl upon his countenance. This brings the leader of the charge up short, forcing him to declare that “this” is their kill. In the meantime, Surm has summoned a fire beetle to fight in his defense and it chooses this moment to appear in front of the Orc leader and attack. The melee begins in earnest.

At the end of the battle, the Orcs lay dead and the party is licking their various wounds. It was a hard-fought battle of magic and blade.

After looting the Orcish bodies, the party checks out their kill. Two humans lay dead—one a warrior and one in robes. The robed one carries a Masterwork dagger with a ring of flame etched upon the blade. The symbol is meaningless to all. Further, hidden upon his person, is a crumpled bit of parchment that looks like a map of some sort. After investigating the map further, Mõrvar determines that it points to a gully some five miles from the site of the battle. After a brief discussion, the party decides to pursue what the men were looking for on the map.

After a short trip to the gulley on the map, the party discovers a crawlspace into the hill. Savaric finds no tracks leading into or out of the crawlspace. Discovering that their battle with the Orcs had taken a lot out of them, the party decides to camp for the night and attempt the crawlspace in the morning.

5 Awakening 508

Rilka leads the way into the crawlspace. It is 25’ wide but only 3’ tall. The path begins to narrow and decline almost immediately. Soon the way is blocked by what appears to be a broken and fallen pillar with strange, disturbing tentacle motifs carved into it. Passing by the broken pillar, she finds that she is sliding down into stone room! Savaric slides quickly after her down the decline while the sorcerers manage to brace themselves and lower a rope down into the chamber to climb down.

In the chamber, the party finds another pillar with the disturbing carvings and Mõrvar insists that something wrong with this place. They appear to be in an antechamber of a much larger room that is split by a 5’ wide rift. Exploring around a corner, keeping clear of the rift, the party finds an alcove decorated in mosaics depicting people bowing to shadowy forms in the sky. There is a statue of an unusually thin, bearded man in robes at the center of the chamber…