Campaign of the Month: September 2018

Shadows of the Rift

Session Fifty-Nine
Trouble at Home


26 Changewind 508

After bidding their troupe of guards farewell, the four key members of the Crimson Cord turn and leave Soos, heading west toward Aeth.

They travel for about half a day, until the sun starts to set, and then camp for the night. The night passes without incident.

27 Changewind 508

They continue to travel west across the northern plains toward Aeth. The day passes quietly, as does the night.

28 Changewind 508

This afternoon, as they make their way west, they are met by a traveling smith, a dwarf by the name of Nimor Grayslate. He drives a square box-wagon hauled by a pair of cantankerous mules. He travels the north, mending various works of metal and performing other works of smithing for folks that may not have a smith in their village. He likes the travel, even if he doesn’t make much in the way of coin. It’s a living, which is more than some folks can say…

Mõrvar says to Surm, “Perhaps this dwarf can be of use with information on upcoming expeditions.”

“I really don’t see much opportunity with a traveling salesman. It’s not really something we should discuss with random people we meet in the wild.”

“Perhaps we should direct him to Soos, now they are preparing for war,” Mõrvar states. Mõrvar asks the dwarf, “What kind of materials do you have to forge?”

Nimor says, “Mostly pig iron, some steel, bits and pieces of other metals for mending.”

Surm waits impatiently.

Rolling his eyes at Surm, Mõrvar will say, “Soos might could use your craft.” Mõrvar will point the direction, and bid him good day.

Nimor shrugs and loads himself back into the wagon and trundles off toward Soos.

29 Changewind 508

Another quiet, cold day on the plains of Jossia

30 Changewind 508

They’ve now entered the wooded foothills of Grundr’s Teeth, the northern mountain range along Jossia’s western coast. It’s cold, as icy winds blow off of the mountains down into the foothills, though the large, evergreen trees act as somewhat of a break.

1 Awakening 509

They spend the first day of the new year traveling through the wooded foothills. It’s cold, but not as cold as it could be—or will be—when they travel more northerly still.

2 Awakening 509

They have now entered the mountains proper and are on their way to Aeth, which lies at the foot of Sigurthmun, the tallest peak in the known world.

They follow a little-used pass through the mountains that will take them to the foot of the great mountain. They are surrounded by the not-insignificant other mountains of the range as you pass through. Sheer cliffs enclose the pass like indomitable walls, broken only by the occasional shelf jutting out high above them.

As they travel through the pass, with Savaric scouting ahead, they all (except for Mõrvar, who’s busy brooding), see, up on one of the ridges above them, an 8’ long, 4 1/2’ tall white wolf, readying for a pounce. Savaric also sees a second large wolf on a ridge slightly ahead of them, also readying for a pounce.

Savaric shouts “Wolves!” as he looses a volley of arrows at the wolf directly above them. The arrows ignite as they leave his enchanted bow. After his first two shots, the wolf falls, then he turns and fires three more arrows into other wolf. That wolf turns tail and runs up into the ridge from which it came, disappearing from view into the cover of the crags.

Savaric attempts to climb the ridge to pursue the wolf, but has trouble gaining purchase. He lets everyone know that another wolf took off into the ridge, so keep their eyes peeled.

Mõrvar will confusingly say, “Wolves? Running away?" He looks around him, confused. “What it the hell are you talking about and why are you foolishly trying to climb that rock?” He is now looking at Savaric, still oblivious to everything that just happened. Mõrvar will then point to Ghost, “Your wolf is right there!”

After the party explains what happened, Mõrvar attempts to climb the ridge. Once he gets up there, he sees no sign of the wolf. He climbs down.

Savaric determines that these must have been Winter Wolves, a type of intelligent worg. What they were doing up here, he has no idea.

They decide to move on to Aeth.

They travel down the pass another couple of hours and then it narrows. At the end of the pass are two sentries and a banner depicting a black spear on a round shield with a red background—the banner of Aeth. Mõrvar and Surm ride forward to introduce themselves.

One of the sentries recognizes them as the Ulrich brothers. He allows them to enter with welcome. He also indicates that King Alrik is ailing. The other sentry clearly doesn’t recognize them.

As the two ride through the village, it has clearly been growing since they left. Buildings are being reinforced and there are more of them. They head for the King’s longhouse at the center of the village. When they arrive, they hear a voice call out behind them: “Well, what in the Underworld is this?”

They turn and see their brother, Ren, coming to greet them. After they embrace and hail each other, Ren inquires as to whether or not they have seen their mother yet. They say they have not, as they have business with the King. He urges them to do so as soon as they complete their business—she’d love to see them. Then he leaves them to it.

They are recognized by the sentry at the longhouse door and admitted inside. There are a couple of the local warriors conversing in the longhouse near the area that is the King’s residence. They look up as the Ulrich’s come in and great them with welcome. They discuss the King’s illness a bit with the warriors, who speculate that since he took a wound in their last battle, he simply hasn’t recovered due to his advanced age.

Surm knocks on the door and they hear the King call for them to enter. They see the once-hale man propped up in a great bed, looking much older than the last time they saw him. A pretty young woman sits nearby, knitting quietly.

Alrik greets the Ulrich’s warmly and bids them come closer. After they exchange pleasantries, Surm gets down to business. He tells them of their plans in Soos, of the raid against the frost giants, and the plan to unite the villages of the far north. He also tells him of their need to capture the Skull of the Viper God for their own purposes.

Alrik appreciates the audacity of the plan and the cunning of having their own motives coupled with those of their allies. He also likes the idea of Aeth participating—there will be much glory for the village. He tells Surm and Mõrvar to go to the people Aeth and ask for volunteers to go on the expedition. He would be willing to spare 50 of their warriors for the journey. Surm can tell that, despite the old man’s bluster, he is sad that he is too weak to go out and make the call himself.

After Surm and Mõrvar leave, they speculate on the nature on Alrik’s illness. Mõrvar is convinced foul play is involved. Surm is not so sure. They then head to their mother’s home.

Hilda Ulrich greets her sons warmly. Mõrvar acts awkwardly nonetheless. He did kill her husband, his father, after all. The three chat for a bit and they learn that Ren is doing well, even thriving, despite having lost his arm. This is largely due to the woman in his life, Sulva.

Meanwhile, Savaric and Rilka ride into the village and head toward the center. They are warmly greeted by the villagers they helped liberate.

That night, the village has a great feast in honor of the party’s homecoming. King Alrik is brought in and propped up in his great chair. The Crimson Cord is seated to his left and right. There is a skald present who retells the story of the village’s liberation at the hands of the party that is now known as the Crimson Cord. Plenty of mead is shared as well as good food.

When the proceedings start to lull, Alrik signals Surm and he rises and gets the attention of the room. He then makes his proposition regarding the frost giant raid. He speaks of the glory to be had in the expedition, the success rate of the Crimson Cord, the partnership and bravery of the Soodthyngs, and the ability to boast of slaying frost giants.

After he is finished, a burly, slightly drunk warrior stands, holding onto the long table. “I, Karthan, will go.”

A woman rises. “I, Brythia, will go.”

In all, 57 Aethyngs stand up.

Alrik nods his approval to the party and the celebration begins in earnest again.

Soon, the King starts to fade a little and a couple of warriors nod to each other in understanding. They rise and lead the King out of the main hall and gently guide him back to his residence area.

The party approaches the village’s priest of Yülthn and consult with him about the King’s illness. He confirms the speculation of the warriors that spoke earlier—he took an injury in a previous raid and never quite recovered from it, probably because he is quite old. Yülthn could probably heal him, but the priest would need to have a hundred gold pieces worth of diamond dust to complete the ritual—which is more than this poor village can afford.

Surm takes the party aside and presents a plan. He wants to use their greater teleport scrolls to teleport to Kalimsport, get the needed components, and teleport back. While in the city, he can purchase another set of greater teleport scrolls to use as their contingency plan in the frost giant stronghold. It’s an expensive proposition, but will buy them a lot of goodwill in Aeth,. The party decides to go for it. They will do so first thing in the morning, before the volunteers gather to march to Soos.

The party separates to their respective places to spend the night in the village.

3 Awakening 509

Early the next morning, Surm and Savaric use the greater teleport scroll to travel to the campus of the University of Kalimsport. They then travel to the Bank of Kalimsport and withdraw some funds. Then, to a scriptorium to purchase two more greater teleport scrolls. Next, they go to the market and purchase the diamond dust spell component. Savaric makes a stop off to buy more arrows. They then find a secluded spot in the city from which they can make their return to Aeth.

Meanwhile, the volunteers begin to gather at the village center. After a series of boring speeches wishing the volunteers well and praising their bravery, Surm and Savaric make their arrival and head to the King’s longhouse. They grab the priest of Yülthn along the way.

They give the priest the diamond dust he needs and they go in to visit the King. The King wonders why they aren’t out seeing the volunteers off and Surm says that it would be better if the King did that. The King demurs, citing his health. Then the priest comes forward and completes his restoration prayer. Immediately, the King looks more hale and smiles, saying that perhaps he could come out and see them out after all.

King Alrik comes out and greets the volunteers, to many cheers and bellows of “Hail King Alrik!” He gives them a rousing speech and the column starts heading out of Aeth, east, toward Soos.

10 Awakening 509

After nearly a week of travel, the only thing of note this day is that the party see a great eagle flying overhead. Is it an omen? It is difficult to say. The column moves on…

11 Awakening 509

This evening, as the party makes camp, Savaric finds a holy symbol of Jörn buried in the earth where he is helping to pitch the tent. After the initial panic and wild speculations, the party decides to keep it and Mõrvar puts it in his backpack.

13 Awakening 509

As the party is making camp on this night, Surm encounters a hidden bear camp in the area. He disarms it and casts it aside.

14 Awakening 509

The column from Aeth finally makes it to the village of Soos. There are other encampments established outside of the village proper, flying a variety of war banners.

It is decided that Surm and an Aethyng named Brythia will represent Aeth in the war council being gathered in Soos.

Surm and Brythia head into the longhouse where the leaders of the other clans have gathered. After a couple of hours, a plan of action is formed: The war bands will attack the harbor at Jarlheim head-on while the Crimson Cord, with an elite team of Aethyng warriors, depart during the chaos, and try to (1) cripple the heart of the frost giants by taking on their leadership and taking their war banner and (2) find the artifact that they are looking for. Surm is able to sell the other war leaders on the Crimson Cord portion of the plan and they agree. They are to leave at first light in the morning.

Before bedding down for the night, the elite squad of Aethyngs are selected: Karlthar, Dagmar, Svenlars, Wulfram, Tjarl, Hrolf, and Larna.

15 Awakening 509

The ships of the united coalition of Northron villages sets off from Soos toward Jarlheim at first light.

That night, one of the warriors on the crew of the longship spots an approaching craft. As the rest of the crew witnesses its approach, cries of fear begin to go up. The ship is a longship, constructed in the Northron style, but made entirely of bones. It cuts through the cold waters slowly, but inexorably, toward the gathered coalition. As more warriors gaze upon it, more cries of fear and calls that it is a “bad omen” go up.

For it’s part, the ship itself poses no other threat than its eerie presence. No undead warriors or monstrous threats appear on its shadowy decks. It just slowly passes by, bringing despair and consternation in its wake. Savaric is not immune to the fear the ghost ship cause and is shaken by it, himself.

Finally, the ship of bones passes into the night. Kremlach does what he can to restore order and morale on the ship, but some of the warriors are shaken by the sight of the apparition.

16 Awakening 509

A sudden blizzard blows up on the water, blinding the navigator and slowing all of the ships as they cut their way through the Swordwind Sea to the north. After a few hours, it abates and the ships continue on their way toward Jarlheim.

17 Awakening 509

After a day of high winds, which accelerated the fleet toward its destination, the coalition of Northron raiders see the harbor of the frost giant settlement.

The Northron ships begin to ship into the narrow harbor of the city. The ship from Soos veers toward the east so that they can deposit the Crimson Cord and their elite Aethyngs away from the main force.

As they approach, they see three frost giant warriors on the shore. Savaric begins firing at them as soon as he gets within longbow range. He fires an impressive volley of arrows and one of the giants falls.

Session Fifty-Eight
Northward Bound


16 Changewind 508

In one of Lord Cannach’s drawing rooms, the principals of the Crimson Cord gather to discuss the day’s activities. Rilka begins.

“It’s been an interesting morning. I did have a letter waiting for me from Mirka. She found homes for both of the children in Yrda.” Rilka smiles and adds, “And she sends her greeting to you, Savaric.”

Rilka passes around the letter.

Dear Rilka,

I am pleased to hear that you are doing well and that the Gods continue to work through you. Bruni has truly found a worthy servant.

I have spoken with two families here in Yrda and persuaded them to take on the children in question. Surna Brunosdottir is a fine woman with a strong backbone who will be up to the challenge. Kila Stromsdottir is another fine woman with a large heart who will also be a fine mother to one of these unfortunate orphans.

Fortunately for these babes, this village has had our example to lead the way against prejudice to allow them to have a home here. That, and Ulfethinn has lent thunder to my voice and squelched any doubts these women may have had along the way. Regardless, the deals have been struck and the children will have a home waiting for them in Yrda.

Will your group be bringing the children yourselves or will you be sending them another way? It will be good to see you. The village is thriving under Sigurd’s leadership. We are at peace—fortunately there has been no retaliation as yet from the Jörnites, but we are ever-vigilant.

May the gods bless your journeys. Say hello to Savaric for me.

With joy,


“Sounds like she looks forward to your next encounter, Savaric," Mõrvar says teasingly. “Perhaps we should stop by and see how they are doing in Yrda anyway.”

Surm says, “Well, thank you for sharing your letter with us, Rilka, I’m glad Mirka was able to make arrangements for the orphans.”

“While in the city, I was able to purchase two scrolls of ‘Greater Teleport’, it seemed smart to have a back-up. I assume see you and Mõrvar are without your swords that ‘flames’ are being added? Two day wait? When we pick up the weapons we can purchase more rations, we are not out yet, but I prefer to stock up before we head North.”

“One other thing for the group to think about, I’ve considered the option of not taking our men North of Jossia. Since, worst case scenario we cannot guarantee their escape, we should leave them behind. Perhaps we attempt to organize a raid and sign on with one of the raiding crews.”

“Yes, we delivered them to be worked on, however,” Mõrvar is obviously frustrated, “We had to take them to different shops, and I would not be surprised if I have issues with the shop I took Deathblow to.”

Rilka looks squarely at Mõrvar. “Well, as I gathered from the kinds of questions you had to ask to find someone who could even pick up your sword, you may very well have issues. What exactly have you done to Deathblow? Judging from the reaction of the first tradesman, it’s not pleasant. If one of us had accidentally touched it, would we have been harmed as well?”

“Harmed by touching it?!? What exactly happened at the shop?” Surm asks.

“Nothing any different than touching Savaric’s ring does to us,” Mõrvar looks offended. “My sword is aligned in unison to me, just as Savaric’s ring is to him, just as that miserable scabbard presumably is to that Paladin.” Mõrvar turns to Rilka. “Hold Savaric’s ring, and I’m sure that’s what the shop keeper felt. The magic and its tuning is too much for you to want to bear as Deathblow most likely was for him.” Raising an eyebrow at Savaric as if a thought just came to him, “Though, it probably wouldn’t bother Savaric.”

“Hmm, this makes me even more curious to what work has been done to the sword. Are you saying your sword has consciousness like Ilona or that paladin’s scabbard?” Savaric asks.

“Yes, he does, why?” Mõrvar asks. “This is the whole reason I constructed him; to serve me when blood is to be shed. He has multiple abilities to aid me. Soon, he better have flame as well. If we would have known we were doing this before we left Kalimsport, I would have had my contact take care of this there, and this non-issue wouldn’t be an issue.”

Rilka says, “The issue is that you didn’t tell anyone what you did. If you’ve created a sentient magic weapon that is aligned to you, for the protection of us all, we needed to know that. What if we needed to visit a Temple of Skondir to obtain more information about the Heart of the World? What if we needed to seek healing or restoration from priests of Halor or Cereth? We would have been taken completely unaware by their reaction to Deathblow. At best, that’s how trouble gets started, and at the worst, people get hurt.”

Mõrvar looks dumbfounded,“You mean to tell me that if there was an issue with me walking into the doors of a Skondor temple, it would be because of Deathblow? You don’t think it would be because of me? I am not sure how that makes any sense. The only way that Deathblow would be an issue is if A) they touched him, which won’t happen, or B) they do a detection of alignment of some sort, in which Deathblow would be the least if our issues. I really don’t understand why this is such a huge issue with you, and it’s very offensive.” Mõrvar looks hurt. “You act as if I don’t take things into consideration when in reality, I consider everything. I already took precautions if I need to conceal Deathblow. I already considered situations that puts me around those jackasses who think their holier than everyone else and their shit smells like roses. This is why several times I’ve said we need to be discreet with the Heart quest, and find inside contacts, not try and make a deal for it. They won’t give us the time of day anyway. It’s a fucking Dwarven secret we aren’t even supposed to know.” Mõrvar is getting frustrated, “What the hell has happened to you guys? Why the fuck do you care about all of these other people and how they might feel about us? Where were they when our parents turned their backs on us? Where were they when inns didn’t want to accept us because we were half-breeds? Where were they when Aeth and Yrda were taken by war lords? Who stopped the blood beast from murdering people? Who destroyed the lich? Sure, the Bronze Dragons helped with the rescue, but we could have done that without them. Hell, I would have preferred it that way. Then I could have gotten rid of that arrogant scabbard. Instead, one day it may become an issue for us, or at least me, if we ever cross paths again.” Mõrvar at this point is turning red with anger. “What fucking happened to us?”

Mõrvar looks at Surm as he calms himself, “Who stopped Father from killing you for something that wasn’t your fault? Who has been there EVERY time you have been in trouble?” He then looks at Savaric. “Who put their life on the line with no help when the lich polymorphed you, to protect you from what he might do next?” He turns to Rilka. “Who stood with you while you buried your stepfather wishing his own biological father loved him even half as much?” Talking to all of them, he says “Who always puts themselves between you and danger, regardless of the odds or threat with no regard to his own well-being?” Looking a little detached, “Yet you constantly question my motives and intentions and now even care more about what others might think or how they might react to you than you do about me.”

Rilka holds up her hand. “Before you start yelling at everyone in this room, I was the one who said there was an issue. Not Savaric. Not your brother. If you have a problem with what I said, then lay it at my feet. Don’t attack them because you’re angry. I strive very hard to protect our group from danger. It is my calling and I have been blessed by Bruni to have some talent in this matter. So, I am concerned when I believe that our actions, or even inaction, threaten that protection. What happened today was a shock. The situation was one that could have caused problems for us all if that sword came in contact with the wrong person. You said you’ve already taken precautions to conceal Deathblow, so you also knew that possibility existed. Why didn’t you then think to mention its existence to anyone else? To us, the very people who fight side by side with you?”

Mõrvar replies, “We went to see a tradesman whose job includes the same making items such as Deathblow. I didn’t break any laws, I didn’t threaten him, I didn’t rob him, I wasn’t even rude to him. It’s not a crime to have a difference in beliefs. I did nothing to harm him, and Deathblow did nothing to harm him either. In what situation would any of this get us ‘into trouble?’ There is no reason to have to tell you what I do or how I spend my money, or what abilities my weapon has. Someone else coming in contact with Deathblow is not different than if I were to have come into contact with that stupid fucking scabbard, or Savaric’s ring. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean I have anything against the person who owns or wields it, unless of course that item or weapon is a holy item that’s purpose is to destroy me and my kind. Deathblow isn’t a holy weapon and has no specific purpose other than to aide me when it’s time to fight. There is nothing about him wrong, or unethical regardless how you may feel. Now, if the time comes I decide to give Deathblow a purpose, then, yes, I believe I would have an obligation to alert you before I did so because then his chosen purpose could potentially impede us on something we may be trying to accomplish. For example, if his chosen purpose was to kill all paladins, then you would need to know that so that it would never be a good idea for me to walk into a temple full of paladins, unless of course we were there to kill them anyway. However, that isn’t the case, he doesn’t have a specific purpose, there is nothing wrong, unethical, or even harmful about him unless of course he’s being wielded in combat, then the harmful part is a different story. Rilka, I love you. You are my sister. You are my family, more so than any other bloodline relative other than Surm. I trust you. I have no idea what you have spent your money on to better prepare yourself for combat, and I don’t believe you need to tell me either, unless what you have done has a similar affect to what I just described about an item or weapon with special purposes. For all I know your falchion could be an intelligent weapon, and I could care less unless it had a specific purpose. I trust you and trust that you would understand that, just like I expect you to trust me. Never have I put us in a situation that put this family into harm’ way, at least not that I know of. I still haven’t either. The paladin from the Bronze Griffons and I have very different views on life, morals, and values, yet we worked together. I don’t have a problem with him, unless he makes me his problem. I hate his scabbard but that doesn’t make me hate him. And I would like to point out the only reason I hate that stupid fucking scabbard is because it’s an ungrateful, disrespectful, mouthy asshole. So, again, I don’t really understand why you are so upset. Would you feel the same if I was a paladin and he was a holy weapon? Would we be having this same conversation?” Mõrvar stands waiting for an answer.

Rilka returns his look. “You didn’t answer my question. You took precautions to conceal your sword. You knew it could cause trouble for our group. Why didn’t you say anything to us?”

“I did answer you! He is only an issue because you are making it an issue. There is no reason for him to cause us trouble. Again, he isn’t a holy or unholy artifact. He doesn’t have a special purpose to kill or destroy specific people or religions. He is no different than any other magical item we have other than he has awareness around he and I that benefits me in combat. When I say I took precautions to conceal him if needed, I am not talking about his abilities, I mean him, all together. Never will I have to walk into a place that wants us to hand over our weapons and be without mine again! I could be carrying him right now and not a single person in this room would know or be able to detect him as long as I was alive. As a matter of fact, once I earned a bit more coin, I was going to surprise you all with weapons that I could keep concealed for you in the same event that we enter an area that doesn’t allow weapons so that none of us are ever without the ability to defend ourselves again. Now, you haven’t answered my question: if I were a paladin, and he was a holy sword, would we still be having this same conversation? Or, is the answer no, because that would be the acceptable status quo as to where I am not?” Mõrvar is staring a very daring stare right into Rilka’s eyes.

Surm interjects, “How exactly are you able to conceal him? I would like an explanation of that especially in the scenario you describe – we are ordered to hand over our weapons – and you plan to disobey that order, then you put us all at risk. Now my safety is contingent on your ability to conceal your weapon, so, I want to know exactly what magic or ability you claim to have that I am putting my trust in.”

Mõrvar will smile, at Surm, turn to Savaric and say, “Savaric, I think we all would agree that your ring being an intelligent item, would give off a very powerful magic radiation, agreed? Will you allow me to use her, and your powerful magic bow, for a very quick demonstration? I promise on my life nothing ill will come to either one of them.” Mõrvar stands holding his hand out.

Ilona says in Savaric’s mind : I don’t want to go! I don’t like him and I want to stay with you!

Savaric hands over his bow and says, “Ilona doesn’t want to be apart of the demonstration."

Mõrvar, with a bit of frustration, says, “Very well, doesn’t really matter, I just wanted to demonstrate that it matters not how powerful of magic the item is.” Mõrvar removes his masterwork leather backpack bearing the Ulrich sigil.

Mõrvar opens the backpack, then reaches inside as if opening something else, and then simply slips the entire bow into the pack. Mõrvar follows that up by taking off his ring of protection, Belt of Giant Strength, and Cloak of Resistance and places every bit of it into the backpack. He then seems to seal something in the backpack up, closes the pack, and with a huge smile on his face says, “That should be enough magic to make it highly detectable.” He then tosses the backpack to Surm and says, “There, brother, find the items, or even just detect the magic of the items that are in the bag. If any of you can, I will give you 100 GP each. Go ahead, detect magic, search it.”

He then states, “As long as I am alive, only I can access it’s contents. Detect Magic and Identify will not even penetrate the bag. All items I just placed in it are completely undetectable, even if somehow in some way someone actually finds a way to detect magic on the actual backpack, which is very unlikely. I have tried to find a way for all of us to be able to access the contents, but so far, I haven’t found a way yet.”

Mõrvar then sits, crosses his legs, and just smiles.

Rilka, who has been observing the demonstration, just shakes her head. “Mõrvar, you were the one who began this entire conversation by saying that there may be trouble because the nature of your sword required you to take it a disreputable shop. By your very words, you prove my point.”

“But to answer your question. If you were a paladin and you created a sentient holy sword without telling anyone, I would still have an issue. We were just in an city of drow. An entire civilization of evil creatures. Carrying around a powerful sword that radiated good could have easily caused trouble for us.”

“You are the alignment that you are. As am I. These are things we know and can account for when deciding what best course of action we should take. What battles we should fight. What paths we should choose. But even now, your very attitude about this conversation makes me wonder if you intentionally disregard the potential impact of your decisions or you really just don’t understand.”

Mõrvar says, “If Saveric took his ring to the half-orc that has my sword, he would respond the same way as the tradesman responded to my sword, yet we don’t seem to have a problem with Savaric’s ring. My sword does not radiate holy or unholy, even in a temple of paladins or antipaladins. It is no different than I am, probably does not even radiate as strongly as I would. The same tradesman we took your sword to may even react the same way to Savaric’s ring. I know that both Surm and I did. And it bothers me that you call the entire underworld of drow evil. That is a very generic and blanket statement. I am willing to bet you that the majority of those people are not so different than us. Born into circumstances and adapting to survive in them. This thought of Good and Evil is just really fucking stupid to me. What makes some ass wipe who worships some god that the general public thinks is some goody two-shoe better than someone like me who sees no “god” worth following in my eyes? Does that make them better than me? Because for some reason they are put on a pedestal as some great person who stands for the people, they should get better treatment than someone like me who thinks their shit stinks like everyone else? I’m fairly confident in making the statement I have had more than my share of playing hero and saving people. All four of us here have. Just because someone claims to be a good guy doesn’t mean they are any better than me. Hell, half of them probably were not born in the same circumstances Surm and I had to deal with. I am willing to bet that the “Good Guys” in the north where we are from are more in tune to yours and Surm’s beliefs than many of these people here. Does that mean these “Good Guys” are better than the North’s “Good Guys?” It’s all a matter of perspective, beliefs, values. My values and beliefs which Deathblow is in tune with are obviously different than the guy we went to first. In another area of the world, the half-orc may be the norm, and the other guy might be the shady guy we have to find. Does that make these people here better than those people there? If you start talking about religious practices and beliefs, then I could see a valid argument from you, because now you’re aligning with deities. If I come across someone from Jörn, you can bet your ass I am going to kill the evil slimy bastard. I trust your Bruni more than I would ever trust those fucking pricks. Why? Because they tried to fuck me. The Bronze Griffons religious practice, no idea, and could care less. I’d work with them again, have no problem with them, and understand that they most likely have a different philosophy than I do. Now, might have problems with them because of that fucking scabbard. it would probably push me past my boiling point listening to his fucking BS. Hell, I rank that scabbard right there with Jörn as my favorites to hate – ungrateful piece of shit. My point is, if anyone is going to have a problem with my sword, then they already have a problem with me. I am willing to bet we have more items between us than my sword that could cause us just as many “problems” or “hassles” that we don’t even know or think about. So, again, why this is such a big deal to you is beyond me. Just because someone doesn’t like it doesn’t make it wrong, illegal, bad, evil, or give cause for someone to have to “take action” or put us in a situation. If that was the case, everywhere we went we would have issues, because I guarantee you that every inn we go into, every tavern we visit, every city we enter has many more people and items with much more extreme philosophies then us, and they seem to live side by side every day."

Rilka speaks very slowly, choosing her words carefully. “Mõrvar, as much as you want it to be otherwise, this is not a conversation about good, evil, or valuing one person’s beliefs over another. This is about protecting the group. This is about knowing what may put us in danger in any particular situation. This is about understanding that decisions made by one of us might impact everyone. Clearly, this is not what you want to hear right now. I can only pray that you will take what I’ve said to heart.”

Mõrvar says, “Rilka, what you’re saying is that everyone of us should know every thing each other is carrying. As I stated before, something you think may have potential harm to the group I, or the rest of the group might not. Likewise, something I, or the rest of the group might think is harmful to the group, you might not. Therefore, what you’re saying is that we all need to know every little thing that everyone of us is carrying at all times.”

Mõrvar looks at the other two. “So, does anyone else agree with this? Do we need to take a vote that we all need to share every single item we are carrying with us at all times and have absolutely no secrets about it from each other, ever? This would even include exactly how many coins and what variety of coins we are carrying. If someone knows that one of us is carrying a large amount of platinum, it could cause us trouble with a bandit raid.” Mõrvar then pauses, “I guess this would include all members of the Crimson Cord, including our soldiers. Does anyone here know what they may have bought with their money that might cause us trouble?”

Meanwhile, Surm has cast detect magic on the backpack and discerned no magical aura. Looking inside, he only sees a Water skin, 2 smooth waxed stones, 50 feet of knotted rope, a grapple, 4 days of trail rations, a bedroll, and a blanket. No sign of the items that his brother has just placed inside the pack.

Rilka glances at Surm and Savaric and shrugs. “If you wish to continue this conversation, then I will do so. However, I believe that it has gone as far as it can.”

Mõrvar again turns to Surm, “Any luck there brother? I didn’t think so. So, to answer your question, yes, I totally plan to be prepared when someone won’t let us in somewhere armed, or asks us to hand them our weapons. Of course, if it’s city watch or something that takes all of our stuff, that’s a different story, but I have been considering doing the same thing to a pocket in a pair of pants. It’s just terribly expensive to do what I had done to that backpack.”

Surm says, “I guess I can see Mõrvar’s point of everyone not needing to constantly update each other of every little thing we do. However, I don’t understand your reluctance to explain what was done now that you’ve been asked? Why is it still such a guarded secret?"

“Whether or not you, Mõrvar, think we should be concerned about what was done, whatever happened at the Craftsman shop and the subsequent Craftsman of questionable ethics (even you suggested he may cause you problems when you go to retrieve the sword) has given Rilka reason to worry. But rather than explain what you had done, you continue to keep it a secret and just get angry because you feel like she doesn’t trust you. But, you display your unwillingness to trust us by not divulging the information when requested. It makes me concerned that if you feel the need to keep it a secret when asked, and you felt the need to develop a special backpack to hide it, that it is something we should be worried about, otherwise, why hide its abilities from us?"

“You keep comparing it to Savaric’s ring, but we’ve met the personality of the ring and are aware of its capabilities. Savaric also doesn’t feel the need to hide her abilities from us. Make your ‘its the same thing’ argument ring true, and let us know what Deathblow’s abilities are and pass him over so we can meet this new personality that is traveling with us. Because, if he is sentient as you say, he has a personality. I don’t think its unfair to ask to meet a new member of the group.”

“Also, what did you do for this backpack, or is that a carefully guarded secret as well?”

Savaric says, “I agree with Surm, I don’t feel it’s necessary that we all update each other on everything we are doing, but it’s obvious why Rilka is concerned about it. I’m just tired of all the secrets. Why are there so many side bars between individuals in the group. If we are family, when is anyone hiding secrets, why is it such an issue to be open and honest about what’s going on in our personal time? No, I don’t want to hear about the gooey details of Rilka and Kortash, that’s reasonably personal if she doesn’t want to share; but you did spend a large amount of coin to keep this a secret from everyone, including us.”

“Deathblow very much enjoys the thought of blood running down his blade. He is still learning that there is more to surviving than just killing whoever is in your way, or who you don’t like, but at this early point in his awareness, that’s what he looks forward to. His conscience is his newest ability, so he is still really in his infancy of the learning process. Because of this, I was careful when constructing him not to allow him to have such an ego that he could wield himself. Therefore that is not an issue. He isn’t strong enough to just lunge out and hit someone, unless of course a mindless zombie is wielding him I guess,” Mõrvar chuckles.

He continues, “I only allowed him the ability to communicate telepathically because you do not know what kind of personality you’re going to get, regardless of how you’re aligned. You can thank that arrogant scabbard for that. I didn’t want to create something that could cause us problems by voicing opinions or threats for all to hear, so that isn’t a problem.”

Mõrvar begins to grin, “And though I find conversations with him….mmmm…rather enjoyably humorous, once he became aware, it didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion that until he does learn, conversations with you (looking at Surm) and Rilka would probably not be pleasant experiences for either of you (referring to them and the blade). I have no issue with you meeting him when I get him back, at this point, though, I believe that neither of you two will want to be in contact with him for very long for two reasons. The first, because I believe you will feel the drain such as we did with Savaric’s ring. Secondly, because he is very blunt, and will most likely tell you that you are not worthy to wield him and demand you put him down. Until he learns more, I can see him being a bit abrasive toward you. For this reason I figured it wasn’t time yet. As far as Savaric, I doubt there will be any issues between the two of them, though I am not sure how good of an idea it would be for Savaric to possess both the ring and the sword at the same time. But, again, for these reasons I didn’t say anything as of yet, and still, not an issue. I mean seriously, when is the last time anyone of you ever even touched him? Wait, I can answer that, never.” Mõrvar says with the very slightest sarcasm.

Mõrvar then describes Deathblow and his various abilities.

Mõrvar follows up by saying, “I will say that you would appreciate Deathblow doesn’t want anything to do with the Dragon Orb either. And I have been considering all that was said in our last conversation about it. That’s all I want to say for now about the Orb. Just let me think on it some more. Good points were brought up and I just want some time to consider them.”

“Now, as far as my backpack,” Mõrvar begins to stretch a large grin across his face. “Intriguing isn’t it?” He says as he looks at Surm. “So to answer your question brother, yes, I have full intentions on being prepared and the ability to be armed even when we enter a place that wants us to be disarmed, or anytime anyone asks us to hand our weapons over. Of course, if it is a city watch or someone else taking all of our stuff, that is a different situation. I have actually considered having a pair of pants made with a pocket that does the same thing just in case of a situation such as that, however what I did to that backpack is extremely expensive to do.”

With a victorious, “point-proven,” smile, Mõrvar begins to explain, “Outside of being a masterwork backpack that perfectly centers the weight of the bag, it also has concealed within it another pocket, very hard to find. It is called a “Bag of Concealment” and even if the concealed pocket is found, it appears only as a concealed pocket. Only I can access the pocket and retrieve the true contents. Even if by some measure, someone was to figure out the bag itself was magical, they could only detect the magic of the bag, and the contents within would still be undetectable. Therefore, regardless, no one but I could, or would ever know, what contents are hidden within the pouch.” He continues, “I have searched for ways to allow more than one person to be ‘keyed’ to the contents of the bag, however I have been unsuccessful. As long as I am alive, only I can gain access to the contents. There is not other way for anyone else to do so, unless I willingly gave up the connection to someone else, but then I would lose the ability to gain access. The only other way is if I were to die, then the next person to claim the bag would be the one connected to it.”

Mõrvar then states, “What is amazing about this concealed space is that, much like Surm’s bag of holding, it can hold a lot of stuff. The mouth of the concealed pocket can expand up to 4 times it’s size to allow large items to be pushed in. I may have picked a bad location for the pouch, not considering whether or not I could access the hidden compartment and utilize the expanding ability. The space within however is 70 cubic feet and can hold up to 500 lbs. of weight.”

Mõrvar continues, “This allows us to greatly increase our carrying capacity, and have whatever we are carrying completely undetectable by anyone else. I was waiting for the right time to show you guys, and as the situation presented itself, here it is. If I had the coin, I would have made one for each of you, however, this is the most expensive thing I have ever purchased—even more so than the 9,000 plus I have put into Deathblow.”

“So, what do you think?” He asks with confidence.

Surm says, “I am confused why you think Deathblow would be a ‘drain’ on Rilka and I, but not to Savaric. Last I heard, you and Savaric were not in tune, unless Ilona accepts you as a wearer and I didn’t realize it? Seems strange that Deathblow is tuned to you and Savaric, but Ilona is only tuned to Savaric.”

“Two, based on the information you just gave us, you would’ve been smarter to share from the beginning. Now Rilka’s concerns are legitimized. If there were a situation in which you fell unconscious and someone, me for example, had to pick up your sword, then felt the drain and the telepathic verbal assault. I may have tossed it aside as being cursed, since the experience would have been unexpected and I would have expected that you would have warned me of the changes. Without warning of what to expect, there is no way to predict my reaction. It would have been molded by the situation. You may have taken other people’s reactions into consideration, but you did not consider every possibility. More than putting the group at risk, you risked losing your new precious sword. Just understand, keeping big secrets like this is risky. Its impossible for you alone to predict every circumstance, that is why we are a group. If you are going to keep things from the group, don’t be surprised when we are unprepared to help with whatever situation may arise simply because we were uninformed. In my theoretical scenario, I may have caused you to lose your new sword simply because I didn’t know you made the changes. Keep us out of the loop, we can’t help you.”

Surm also reflects on his knowledge of the arcane and comes to the conclusion that such a bag would have been constructed through the use of spells like magic aura, fabricate, and secret chest.

Rilka speaks up again. “Mõrvar, I do appreciate you sharing this with us. My hope is that you are upfront about such things moving forward. Right now, it feels like we are only having this conversation because you got caught.”

She glances at the backpack, “I would also advise against putting your sword inside if someone asks us to hand over our weapons. At that point, if we’re not turning our weapons over, we’re preparing for a fight. And if you decide to magically hide your weapon while the rest of us are turning ours over, it will go poorly for all of us.”

Mõrvar says, “To answer your first question. You and Rilka tend to be very structured. Without structure and whatever sense of code you go by, you both become edgy. Also, you both tend to try to maintain a sense of balance in everything we do. I on the other hand, see structure can be beneficial at times, but there are other times where that structure is a hindering, and gets in the way of efficient progress. Unlike you, I don’t have patience for a lot of the stupid shit people do. I realize I am a bit more temperamental then you two are, but some shit just gets annoying. Savaric on the other hand, well, he seems to just go whatever direction the wind is blowing. Have you ever seen Savaric not get along with someone? Of the four of us, I believe Savaric may be the only one of us that would fit in with whomever he is around, regardless of their beliefs. Deathblow may not be super excited to be within his possession, but I get the feeling he wouldn’t mind it either.”

“To answer your second thought, what is the likelihood we would ever be in a position where I fell unconscious, and we were in a situation where you couldn’t get me up then and there, and had the safety to grab me and my belongings? Let’s be quite honest, if we were ever in a situation in which I fell, and you couldn’t get me up there, then there is probably more to worry about then whether or not you recover any dropped items. If I fall in combat, and you can’t get me back up and we are in a situation where you have to grab me and run, you’re not going to have time to grab my sword, and there is a good chance I, or we, are dead anyway.”

“As for putting my sword in my bag if someone ask for it, Rilka, I don’t think you understand what I mean. If we are going to enter a temple or we are going into an place where we expect that, my hammer will be all they see me carrying. It would be completely ignorant for me to do something like that in front of them. Where would that make sense? The point is for them to not have an idea. Otherwise, everyone and their dog will know my backpack is magical. Not what I want.”

“As for your comment Rilka, this is a prime example of having to have this structure, or control over knowing. The time would have eventually come, however I didn’t feel the time was now. His awareness is still pretty new, and I am still trying to help him adjust, and learn there is more to life/awareness than hack and slash. Sometimes those whose views we don’t agree with can still be allies and help serve our own interest. Likewise, sometimes those whose views we agree with are sometimes the very ones that need to be disposed of because they are the ones who are impeding us. He still has to learn and understand that. Regardless what you think about me not telling you, the fact is, I didn’t think it that big of deal and saw no reason to bring it up at this point. In the future, perhaps once his reasoning begins to take shape, sure. If the time came I decided to give him a special purpose, then definitely. Now, with what he is, not a big deal. You say the only reason we are having this conversation is because I got ‘caught’. I really don’t give a shit that you were there to learn. I am frustrated that I had to go find someone else when I could have easily had this taken care of in Kalimsport with no trouble at all if we had known we were going to do this to begin with. I understand plans were not prepared then, but I am not one who likes to just find someone to toy with something I have put a lot of time, money and effort into without knowing who the fuck they are. Truth is, the only reason why we are having this discussion is because you had an issue with something I still believe isn’t an issue, for all of the reasons I have stated previously."

Mõrvar then looks sternly at all three of them, “I have never lied to any of you. I have never tried to deceive you in any way. I would like for any of you to think of one time, just one time where I intentionally lied to you. No doubt there are times where we have had miscommunication or misunderstandings in which we gave each other corrupted or completely wrong information by mistake, I think we can all agree those things happen. What I am saying, is name ONE TIME I have ever intentionally and maliciously lied to any of you. When I say this whole situation to me, in my mind, was a non-issue, I fucking mean it. Name just one time, and I will remove myself from ever having a vote again in the Crimson Cord because then obviously I am just a lying son of a bitch who hides important information like items I possess from the rest of the group with the least care how it effects them, thus I don’t have the best interest of the Cord in my heart and shouldn’t have the right to vote. Hell, I’ll even remove myself from the Cord if that’s what you want.” Mõrvar’s voice, obviously frustrated and angered, begins to rise, “PLEASE, JUST NAME ONE FUCKING TIME!”

Surm says, “Mõrvar, this behavior, right now, is where the concern comes from. You are currently standing there, angry and cussing us, your family, over what? An imagined slight! Nobody called you a liar! The conversation was quite calm for a moment. I gave an opinion that you rejected. Rilka an opinion that you rejected. Nobody yelled at you, got angry, or cussed out. And nobody called you a liar.”

“Yet, somehow, that’s where you’ve taken this and have become irrationally angry. So, I think the concern for us is not lying, it’s questionable judgement on your part. When you act like this, unprovoked, over some insult that only exists in your mind, it shows you do not have a level head that thinks things out completely. So when you’ve made mysterious alterations to your sword and are acting secretive about it, but then demand that we trust you, that you’ve taken all precautions, I think of the way you are acting now and have so many times in the past. You show time and time again that calm, rational thought is not your strong suit. And as much as you claim to have our best interest in mind, you are quick to lash out in anger against us.”

“Everyone has flaws, and two of yours are rashness and arrogance. Two qualities that have lead you to make bad decisions that have created problems for the group as a whole in the past. If you’re honest about the past, then you should easily understand why we’re guarded.”

“So, you have a choice; accept that we have different opinions than you and recognize nobody made any demands of you, only made our preferences known and you have the option of respecting them or rejecting them. Or, stubbornly stand your ground now, and challenge me to ‘name one time I caused the group trouble’, and deal with the fallout of that conversation. But we don’t have to go there. I’d rather not, but I will if you want me to. I prefer we end this conversation before it gets worse.”

Mõrvar, who is visibly upset, returns all of the items that were in his bag. Looking at Savaric, he says, “As I promised, no ill would come to it.”

Looking at the group, he then states, “If you have a weapons or gear you want stored in my bag for one of those occasions, it would be a good idea to get it to me before we leave the confines of our ally to head North on our journey.”

Mõrvar then simply gathers his things and heads towards the door.

No one stops him and he leaves.

Surm turns to the others and says that something that Savaric said earlier stuck with him. About not having any secrets. So reveals that he had the sages at the University there in Aldasar working on family trees for himself and Mõrvar. They trace their lineage back to the lich, Ulrich of Barth, whom the Crimson Cord killed her some months back. Surm was embarrassed and ashamed to admit the connection.

Rilka reassured him that no one can choose their bloodline or their progenitors. But you can choose your family. And that who are is dictated by what you do, not by your blood. So Surm shares the large parchments mapping out the bloodlines of the sons of Ulrich and some of the highlights of the information he has learned of their lines, such as the tragedies that have befallen those of his own line and the fact that it also spawned a legendary paladin.

They also discuss whether or not they wish to take the guardsmen to the far north to face the Frost Giants and how they want to handle the escort of the half-orc orphans back to Yrda. After some debate, they decide to leave the guards behind after they know where to go to find the Frost Giants. The guards could work with Lord Cannach or find other work until it is time to pick up the babies in the month of Ardor. Then they’ll travel to Kalimsport and Asdari to pick up the children, with or without their mothers, to return to Yrda. Mahgnus will see to all the arrangements and Alasir will command the troops.

Surm calls Mahgnus and Alasir in and explains the plan to them. They agree to it and Alasir vows that it will be done as they say.

Surm, Rilka, and Savaric then go to Mõrvar’s room to explain the plan to him. Mõrvar’s only concern is that if there is a land-born way to access the Frost Giants, then they should keep the guards in play. Surm says that they know this isn’t the case, but does agree they need more information before they cut ties with the guards just yet. So, the Cord is in agreement that they will set the guard loose before taking on the Frost Giants.

That night at dinner with Lord Cannach, Rilka asks about the young survivor of the attack at the mining community the last time they were in Aldasar. Lord Cannach reassured her that the young lady was doing fine, being raised by one of the temples and would move on to an apprenticeship and a good life.

Surm broaches the topic of the guards coming back to Aldasar and taking up work with Lord Cannach after they head to the far north. Lord Cannach says that, of course, they may. Their Captain Alasir can coordinate with his man and work it out at the time.

The jovial proceedings are interrupted only once by Lord Cannach himself, who addresses the table.

“My friends, please forgive if I overstep my bounds and speak to something which is not my concern. But I could not help but notice a measure of strife in my drawing room. Is there anything I can do to ease it?”

This pronouncement is met with an embarrassed silence that is broken, finally, by Rilka, who states that sometimes even families have quarrels.

“Too true,” Lord Cannach agrees. “I mean no offense. It is only because I consider you friends that I wish to mend it. We will speak no more of it.”

He calls for more wine and the dinner progresses.

After dinner, everyone settles in for the night after a very long day.

17 Changewind 508

The party spends the day in quiet ease on Lord Cannach’s estate. Ilona manages to get Savaric to play with her out in the trees, going invisible, and then visible again, for a while.

That evening, they have another pleasant dinner with Lord Cannach and adjourn to their rooms.

18 Changewind 508

Rilka and Mõrvar head into the city to pick up their respective weapons. Rilka asks Mõrvar if he wants her to accompany him to get his weapon back from the disreputable dealer. If he’s expecting trouble, he might could use the help. He seems indifferent and says that she can if she wants to. She says that she’ll meet him back at the manor and he seems just as fine with that idea.

Rilka goes to her dealer and picks up her newly enflamed falchion and then she returns to Lord Cannach’s manor to await Mõrvar’s return.

Mõrvar heads into the ramshackle part of town where he found the half-orc weaponsmith that he left Deathblow with. He finds the half-orc at his makeshift forge. The craftsman spots Mõrvar, smirks, and rises to meet him.

“I’ve come for my sword,” Mõrvar says.

“You got my money?” the half-orc asks.

“Yes,” Mõrvar says.

“Let’s see it,” the half-orc says.

Mõrvar pulls out the money and shows it to him. The half-orc nods and heads back to a shack and returns with Deathblow in his hand. He looks at the sword, then at Mõrvar and says.

“I tell you what, keep your money. I’ll keep the sword.”

Mõrvar then proceeds to tell the half-orc what he’s going to do him in no uncertain terms and how he’s not even going to pay him the rest of the money for the sword and how the half-orc is going to turn over the sword right now.

The half-orc pales and hands over the sword. “Get out of here and don’t come back,” he tells Mõrvar. Mõrvar hurls another epitaph at him as he leaves.

Bah. I was hoping for a bloodletting, Deathblow says in Mõrvar’s mind.

I was hoping he would stand his ground. I would have ended with you chopping his body into small enough pieces to feed his furnace. Mõrvar says.

Mõrvar heads back to Lord Cannach’s manor to meet with the others.

Once everyone is reunited, the Crimson Cord loads up and heads away from Lord Cannach’s manor and from Aldasar, following the road north through Leilior toward Jossia.

That afternoon, the troupe encounters the town of Kivley. They opt to save their money in gate taxes and go around rather than through.

Later that evening, the troupe pitches a camp on the side of the road. Mõrvar calls Surm over for a private conversation. Surm admonishes him, stating that in light of recent discussions, he may not want to have yet another private conversation away from the others in the Cord. Mõrvar states that this discussion is between brothers. Surm says that supposedly they are all family and that, again, what has gotten everyone in trouble lately is keeping secrets. Mõrvar insists that this is nothing hurtful, and Surm insists that this isn’t the point—it’s the perception of it that makes it hurtful. Mõrvar then invites Rilka and Savaric over to the conversation.

Mõrvar then proceeds to “introduce” the party to Deathblow, offering to let each of them hold the greatsword. He offers it to Surm first, who declines, citing the fact that “he’s already heard that he’s a jerk.” So Rilka takes the sword. She instantly pales and feels weaker and hears a male voice speaking Joslac in her head stating that “if this is what family feels like, he wants no part of it.” He also states “I thought your kind were more bloodthirsty.”

They then pass the sword to Savaric. He, too, pales and feels weakened. On top of that—Ilona is having none it—screaming in Savaric’s mind to drop the sword. Deathblow is roaring at him to take off the ring. Deathblow calls him puny and unworthy to wield him. Savaric is unimpressed and hands the sword back to Mõrvar. He again offers the sword to Surm. Finally, Surm takes it. He, as the others, is weakened by the sword. Deathblow again bemoans that if this strangeness is the bond of family, he wants no part. He demands that Surm hand him back to Mõrvar, who seems amused at the entire affair.

The party doesn’t have much to say after this demonstration of Deathblow’s personality and they all head back into the camp.

The night passes quietly.

19 Changewind 508

That morning, the troupe bypasses the city of Skeene. They travel on toward Braith along the road throughout the day. That evening, they break for camp and Mõrvar spends the evening mingling with the troops.

The night passes without incident.

20 Changewind 508

That afternoon, the troupe arrives on the outskirts of the city of Braith. Rilka, Mahgnus, and Sorcha head inside to by a supply of rations before the troupe heads into Jossia. Mahgnus manages to talk the merchant into delivering the bulk order to the troupe waiting outside the walls.

The party also discuss their future plans. Surm recalls that there is a raiding clan, the Soodthyngs, that reside in a coastal village in northern Jossia called Soos. Mõrvar knows where the village lies. Between the two of them, they can guide the troupe there. It is entirely possible that the Soodthyngs have fought and raided against Frost Giants, according to Surm. The party decides to head north to Soos after going to Yrda. They load up their supply of rations and leave Braith.

That night, the troupe makes a camp and the night passes quietly.

21 Changewind 508

After traveling that morning, the party comes to the river Ros, where they must ford across to enter Jossia. Everyone but Kortash crosses with no problems—Kortash takes a tumble and ends up wet and cold.

The troupe camps on the other side.

22 Changewind 508

Shortly before noon, the Crimson Cord arrives in Yrda and are given a hero’s welcome by King Sigurd, Mirka, and the townsfolk. Sigurd reports that the village prospers and has actually grown a little since the party was there last. He also announces that there will be a feast in the longhouse that night. Rilka excuses herself to go to the temple of Bruni while Mirka and Savaric flirt with each other and Savaric gives her a pegasus feather, which she places in her hair. Townsfolk come forward and shake everyone’s hand and clap them on the back, offering to let the Ulrich brothers stay in their homes. Mirka tells Savaric to come up to her temple tonight. Rilka is determined to hold vigil in the temple to Bruni.

Later, Rilka and Savaric head over to the temple to Ulfethinn to see Mirka. Rilka explains the situation with the quest and the plan to send the guards after the orphans. She inquires about the wet-nurse situation and the adoptive mothers. One woman will be able to nurse the babe herself. The other will not and will require a nurse. Rilka says she’ll pass that information on to Mahgnus. Then she leaves Savaric to be alone with Mirka.

That night, a feast of meat and mead is had in the longhouse. Sigurd has the Crimson Cord seated on his left and right, places of honor at the table. Surm tells the story of their upcoming quest and Sigurd asks the gods to bless their journey, for Bruni to give them courage, Ulfethinn to give them thunder, and Yülthn to give them guile.

As the feast dies down, Rilka heads to the temple for her vigil and prayers, Surm and Mõrvar head to the townspeople’s homes, and Savaric is taken by the arm by Mirka to her temple.

23 Changewind 508

The troupe leave Yrda, heading north toward Soos. Over the next few days of travel, Savaric desperately tries to convince Surm to give him another pegasus feather, but Surm refuses. The nights are quiet, if cold, in the west-central hills of Jossia.

26 Changewind 508

In the afternoon, the party arrives on the outskirts of the village of Soos. They can men gathering, noticing the large entourage of soldiers approaching their town. Surm and Mõrvar ride forward, with the rest of the troupe following, as a group of warriors from the town step forward, their leader striding ahead in turn.

Surm hails the people of Soos and announces that he is Surm Ulrich of the Crimson Cord and that they are there to make a business proposition with the village. Village leader who came forward, a powerfully-built, grey-haired man with a double-bladed axe, says, “Ulrich? I’ve heard that name.”

The man, Kremlach, has heard of them and what they did in Yrda some months back. He is willing to listen to what they have to say. He invites them to come to their longhouse to talk. Surm asks for permission for their soldiers to come into the village. Kremlach says that that will be alright. Their reputation precedes them and they will be welcome.

In the longhouse, the main party is met by Kremlach, an old woman named Dorya, and an old man named Sigmun. Other townsfolk are also there to witness the meeting. Kremlach invites them to sit at a table and Surm tells them why they have come—about their quest for the Dead God’s skull and their theory about the Frost Giant’s connection to it. He wants to join a raiding party to the Frost Giant lands, taking the fight to them, and get this skull in the process.

Kremlach confirms that they have fought the giants that fly the banner of the viper skull—he calls them Jarlites. They apparently hail from a place called Jarlheim, a ruined city that they have made their home in the frozen north. The Soodthyngs have raided the Jarlites, but most retaliatory raids to retrieve goods and people, attacking the outskirts of Jarlheim or just Frost Giant raiding ships—not striking into the heart of the place, like Surm is proposing.

Surm proposes that they meet with the other village leaders and put together a coalition to attack the Frost Giants together. Kremlach says the idea is ambitious. The other area villages think that the Soodthyngs are mad for even doing what they do now. No one has proposed banning together to attack in force. Kremlach is for it. Dorya is tentatively for it. Sigmun thinks its foolhardy. But apparently, two out of three carries it, because Kremlach says that Soos is behind the endeavor and promises 100 men, a longship, and the use of auxiliary ships to carry others that are recruited that do not have their own ships.

Surm decides that he wants to go to Aeth and recruit his own people to go on the endeavor. Kremlach believes that, with his own reputation and the reputation of the Crimson Cord behind the endeavor, he can convince enough of the other villages to participate to make it a worthy showing. There are four other villages that he can think of that are regularly raided by the Jarlites and each can probably contribute as many men as Soos. If all will participate, that’s 500 warriors heading north against what they estimate is 150 giants.

The Crimson Cord make preparations to start heading west to Aeth while Kremlach sends runners to the area villages to send their leaders to a meeting at the longhouse in Soos.

Rage and Raven: The Curse of Punari (Part III)
Part Three


3 Ardor 508

The party, made up of Tag, Rhain, Lenoria, Regna, and Tavayne, all set out from Asdari with 2 carts and mules to venture into the jungle toward the mountains to the south.

For the most part, the journey this day is uneventful. It is Achera in summer, which can be warm, and the jungle is moist, making it sticky and miserable. However, no encounters are made.

8 Ardor 508

After traveling for several days through the thick jungle, the party makes a disgusting discovery. It happens when Tag throws himself into yet another small stream of water in hopes of cooling off. Rhain has been walking beside the carts as well, preferring his own stride to riding in the cart. Both men discover that they have been attacked by ghost leeches! Large, translucent bloodsuckers that can be deadly if untreated, the leeches have glommed on to both, presumably from the water. They manage to detach the disgusting creatures from both themselves and the mules.

As a result, Tag takes to riding in the cart and they also check themselves and the animals after every water crossing.

15 Ardor 508

That night, during Tavayne’s watch, the party is alerted by the bard’s yells and the sounds of battle. A huge, living mound of vegetation is attacking Tavayne! The party finally manages to slay the shambling mound, but it is a hard fight.

The rest of the night goes by much more quietly.

20 Ardor 508

As the party is making their way through the overgrowth, they are set upon by a band of 3 dire apes! The primal primates descend in force from the canopy and attack with ferocity. Nevertheless, they are soon dispatched and the party continues into the jungle.

22 Ardor 508

Finally, the party emerges from the thick jungle canopy into the bright sun. The mountain pass lies before them.

As they traverse the narrow pass, they come to an area where they are ambushed by a band of Ogres! The giant humanoids have the carts surrounded all sides, with two Ogres in the ridges above the pass and two more coming from in front and behind.

Despite the long odds, the party emerges victorious and slays all four Ogres.

Inside an nearby cave, the party discovers a hoard of treasure collected by the Ogres. Along with coin and gems and weapons, there are many more mundane items that were clearly part of the gear and goods of a good number, and wide variety, of travelers.

Among the items is a puzzle box that fascinates Tag for a good while, until he finally opens it, revealing a small, green, leather pouch with an intricate wolf pattern embroidered on its face. Tag believes he recognizes the symbol as belonging to a Eacenian family that is associated with a tragedy of some sort. He takes the bag and puts it on.

Regna is more dubious and wants to check it for magic—and possibly curses. Tag lets her examine the item with her magical abilities—but won’t let her hold it. She then, sure enough detects not only magic but a curse laid behind it. She believes that the pouch is going to cause Tag’s clothing and armor straps and other gear to start rotting off his body.

Tag, for his part, wants to keep the bag and doesn’t want to believe Regna.

The party decides to camp in the Ogre cave for the night and press on in the morning.

23 Ardor 508

That morning, Regna manages to remove the curse on the bag. Tag still opts to keep it.

They move out from the Ogre cave and up the pass to the monastery.

Later, they arrive at a plateau where a cross-shaped building of sandstone sits, it’s domed roof gleaming in the sun.

The perimeter is checked and it is determined that the building has but one viable entrance. There are arrow slits to allow light and air into the building, but not proper windows. The party lines up: Regna Tag, Lenoria, Rhain, and finally Tavayne. Regna is detecting magic while Tag looks for traps and other such secrets along the way.

After traversing a long corridor, they arrive in a largish room adorned with mosaics depicting the symbol of Dhakranism (an 8-colored swirl in a circle), the monk Shandor in various martial poses, and serene landscape scenes. In the center of the room is a statue made of bronze of an Acheran monk in a ready pose. There are stone benches along the walls.

And coming toward them five skeletons adorned in the tattered robes of Shandorian monks.

They dispatch the skeletons relatively quickly and then notice a pile of treasure discarded in the room. The treasure is collected and the party moves on.

In the next room, they find that there are murals painted on the walls of people taking tea and serene natural landscapes. There is a wooden sideboard at the on the east side of the room. There is a low, wooden table in the center of the room with the remains of a porcelain tea set sitting smashed in the center of it.

In this room, Regna hears the stones calling to her and manages to find a hidden panel with a chest inside. The chest is full of treasure. They combine their hauls and move on.

They explore a few more rooms, noting the variety of mosaics on display and encounter nothing further for awhile. Some of the doors are stuck, but Rhain manages to make quick work of them.

Finally, they arrive in large room where rotted straw mats litter the floor. Murals on the wall depict Shandor in various poses of meditation, as well as serene landscape scenes. Here are 5 more of the strange skeletal monks—though these seem to be of a higher order than the ones previously encountered.

After dispatching the skeletal monks, they find a hoard of treasure cast about on the floor of the room.

Session Fifty-Seven
The Touch of Evil


8 Changewind 508

The party receives their final requested report from the sages at the University of Kalimsport. They have also received all of the magic weapons and armor they’ve commissioned and have done all of their shopping. They are coming up on their agreed upon “month and a day” for free room and board, so they decide that they will move on in the morning. But to where?

After much debate, they decide to pursue the clues found for “The Dead God’s Dark Breath.” To their mind, they have the most information available on this lead and it doesn’t take them off of this plane. Rilka wants to travel north to Aldasar and see if Mirka has written her a return letter concerning the half-orc orphans. Surm wouldn’t mind stopping there and checking in with the sage for whom he left an assignment. From there, they can continue into Jossia and pursue this lead concerning the Frost Giants.

But first, they’ll go to Crownport and see if this Londra Walera with the University of Crownport has any information they can use. It’s practically on the way.

9 Changewind 508

Before leaving the city, Mõrvar tells Beldis goodbye. She wishes him a safe journey.

The party leaves the city of Kalimsport with their entourage. It is quite an impressive column of riders. Savaric and Mõrvar take point.

That afternoon, Savaric and Mõrvar spot what looks like a fallen animal in the tall grasses along the road up ahead. Mõrvar casts message to inform his brother what they are doing and the two ride forward to check it out.

As they approach, they can see that it is a winged horse—a Pegasus. Savaric can see that one of its legs is turned in an odd fashion. It is struggling to rise. Mõrvar attempts to approach the animal to see if he can help. It begins to rear up and goes ballistic as Mõrvar approaches. He backs off and the animal calms, watching him. Savaric approaches and it remains calm. The ranger suggests that Mõrvar go back and report to the others what they’ve found. Mõrvar does so.

When Mõrvar reports what they’ve found, Surm decides he wants to see this and possibly help. He decides to ride over and check it out. Alasir sends Sorcha and Tarben to protect him in case this is bait for an ambush.

Meanwhile, Savaric has continued to try and calm the Pegasus. When Surm arrives, the two decide to try and splint the animal’s broken leg. They collect extra spears from the guards and the two set to work. They manage to make a workable splint and Savaric helps the animal stand. It drops a curtsy to Savaric and then to Surm. It then toddles off a few steps and flaps its great wings, taking off into the sky.

Afterwards, Surm collects four feathers from where the Pegasus lay. He gives one of them to a protesting Savaric.

The party regroups and continues north up the road to Aldasar. The rest of the day passes quietly and without incident.

10 Changewind 508

That morning, the party arrives at the gates of Crownport, the capital of Ornis. After paying their gate fees, they set up rooms in Charon’s Faire, a very posh inn near the University. Surm arranges for 5 rooms and 2 suites for all the guards and the party to stay in, as well as a banquet for the evening meal. He also arranges for Mahgnus to pay the guards. Then the party heads to the University to see Professor Walera.

Londra Walera is the Head of the Artifacts and Antiquities department of the University of Crownport. She meets with the party in her office in the administration building of the campus near the center of the city. Surm introduces them as the Crimson Cord and gives her the background of their quest and need for information. He also indicates that the scholars at the University of Kalimsport said that she was the foremost authority on the serpentfolk.

Walera admits that she has given the serpentfolk a great deal of study and that the University of Kalimsport actually consulted with her on their report for the Crimson Cord. She believes that they are on the right track with citing the “Dead God” as the serpentfolk’s Viper God, slain around the time of The Rivening. The only clue to its whereabouts is this unsubstantiated report of Frost Giants using a viper’s skull as their banner—which is unusual. She also admits that her knowledge of the serpentfolk is gleaned with an eye to protect from them—not to gain information from them. They view humankind and other surface dwellers as inferiors and with maleficence. When asked for a referral to someone for information on Frost Giants, she assures them that the information they have is probably the best they can get. The Frost Giants hail from parts unknown, beyond the known lands of Jossia to the north. It is uncharted territory.

Outside the University, the party debates on their next steps. Mõrvar thinks that they should get more information before heading into the uncharted northern lands beyond Jossia. Surm keeps reminding him that they’ve done all the research—the lands are uncharted because no one has researched them. But Mõrvar is convinced that maybe there is a raid survivor or some-such that could give them more information on the Frost Giants. The debate then veers into the possession and use of the Red Dragon Orb. Savaric suggests that perhaps they can use it against the Frost Giants and Mõrvar warns against it, admitting that he has been studying the Orb with the scholars of the University of Kalimsport. He thinks it is dangerous and shouldn’t be used—but alternately, only used in an emergency. It is unclear precisely what Mõrvar thinks. It is only clear that, in his mind, they should retain ownership. He puts his foot down when Surm suggests that they sell the Orb and be done with it. Both Surm and Rilka feel that the only profit they could gain from the Orb is to sell it, as it is too dangerous to use or carry and that they aren’t interested in the ritual of the Aedonii obelisk. Mõrvar says he is interested in the ritual and will not sell the Orb. Savaric still needs persuading either way. The debate breaks down and everyone decides to head back to the inn for the banquet.

The guards are thoroughly impressed with the multi-course banquet at Charon’s Faire. A fine time is had by all. Surm orates a magnificent toast to all and everyone is stuffed by the time the meal is through.

11 Changewind 508

After a light breakfast, the Crimson Cord all load up and head out of Crownport, continuing north toward Aldasar. Around noon, they arrive at Glofthall, but make their way around the town and continue on.

12 Changewind 508

The day and night pass quietly, with only the passing of Tower Iosabail marking the passing of the day.

13 Changewind 508

A quiet day of travel and a night of camping pass.

14 Changewind 508

The party arrives at the twin cities of Pylar-Hollton. At the gates of Hollton, Surm manages to talk the guards into letting Ghost, Savaric’s wolf, in for free. They pass through Hollton, then through Pylar, making the official crossover from Ornis into Leilior. They then continue on. That night, camp peacefully.

15 Changewind 508

Another quiet day and night of travel and camping passes.

16 Changewind 508

The Crimson Cord finally arrives at the gates of the city of Aldasar, capital of Leilior. Before entering the city, they seek out the outlying estate of Lord Cannach, their friend and benefactor from a previous adventure here. He welcomes them with open arms. After visiting with him and swapping stories, it is decided that the entourage will camp on his grounds and that the party will be his guests in the manor house. The party thanks him and goes into the city to conduct their business.

The party decides to split up. Surm and Savaric go to buy scrolls of Greater Teleport (part of their getaway plan against the Frost Giants) and then to the University to seek out a sage that Surm had set upon a task the last time they were here. Rilka and Mõrvar go to leave their weapons to be given the “flaming” quality and to go to the Postal Guild to pick up the letter from Mirka. They will all meet back up at Lord Cannach’s estate.

Surm and Savaric have no problem finding a suitable scriptorium to purchase the proper scrolls. The only “rub” is that there is a slight economic inflation in Aldasar right now and everything is more expensive. There’s nothing to be done for it though, and the scrolls are purchased. They then make their way to the University, with Surm clearly acting more and more uncomfortable with Savaric’s presence.

They seek out the sage Levan Elhan. When they are brought to his office, he seems excited to see Surm and a little surprised to see Savaric. It’s clear that whatever information he has for Surm is of a sensitive nature. Surm politely asks Savaric to respect his privacy and wait outside. Savaric reluctantly does so, but listens at the door.

The sage brings out several large sheets of parchment and shows Surm all of his research on the family lines of Ulrich of Barth, each sheet being the family lines of each son. He shows Surm the line from which he is descended and goes into a little bit of the story of that line—and how it is marked with tragedy. It is also the only line which retained the name of Ulrich. The sage speculates that Ulrich may have conceived this son, the youngest, while in transformation into a lich, thus marking the line with darkness. He hands all of the research over to Surm, who is impressed with the results.

Surm reunites with Savaric and the two head back to Lord Cannach’s estate.

Meanwhile, Rilka and Mõrvar head over to a weaponsmith to see about getting their weapons worked on. They take Rilka’s falchion without a problem, but when Mõrvar hands over Deathblow, the smith turns pale and drops the sword, saying “By the gods, what is this thing?”

“My creation,” Mõrvar says.

“Well, I can’t work on that. You’ll have to take it elsewhere. Probably the night market.”

Irritated, Mõrvar snatches up his blade and leaves, with Rilka following wondering what in the world Mõrvar has done to that sword of his. He goes about asking for someone with little scruples and no conscience with the skills to work on his blade. He finally gets a lead on a half-orc in a bad part of town. Rilka comes along to keep an eye on Mõrvar.

The directions Mõrvar is given leads them into a run-down portion of the city. Tumble-down buildings and shacks litter the landscape. Behind one of the run-down buildings is the half-orc smith. He asks to see the blade and Mõrvar hands it to him. He grips it without a problem.

“Yeah, I can help you. You got money?”

“Yes, I have money,” Mõrvar says.

“Good. 3000 gold.”

“You overreach. 2500 gold.”

“I don’t think you’ll find too many willing to work on this sword. 3000.”

“I don’t think you get much business. You’ll settle for 2500.”


“Fine. 2700. I’ll pay you when the job is done.”

“Half now.”

“I’ll give you 1300 now, the rest when its done.”

“Do you think I’m dumb? That I can’t count?”

“1300 now, the rest when its done.”

“Fine. Be sure and bring that money. Or I will find you.”

Mõrvar and Rilka leave the half-orc with the sword and head back to the manor.

Rilka asks Mõrvar what he did to the sword. Mõrvar is reluctant to give a straight answer. Rilka is obviously steaming. “When were you going to share this information? With us? With your brother?”

Mõrvar remains adamant that he’s done nothing wrong. Rilka continues to steam all the way back to Lord Cannach’s estate.

Rage and Raven: Curse of Punari (Part Two)
Part Two


26 Illumination 508

Lenoria, Regna, Rhain, and Tag are all on board the Fogbringer en route to the city of Asdari in Achera.

The ship encounters some high winds, which, unfortunately, originate from the opposite direction and impede the progress of the ship. The captain, Bartz Boilston, lets them know that this will probably delay their arrival in Asdari by a day.

27 Illumination 508

The ship sails into a bank of heavy fog, thwarting navigation and impeding the ship’s progress even further.

28 Illumination 508

The ship eventually emerges from the fog bank and progresses toward their destination.

29 Illumination 508

Tag is up in the crow’s nest with one of the sailors when when they spot a ship approaching. The sailor pulls out a spyglass and checks out the ship and starts calling out “Black flag! Black flag approaching!” This spurs a great deal of activity on the ship.

Tag asks what “Black flag” means and is told it means pirates. Weapons are being brought out of a locker for the crew.

Meanwhile, down in the hold, Rhain comes up to see what the ruckus is about. When he hears there could be pirates, he returns for his weapons and armor and tells Regna what’s going on.

The party gathers around the captain to find out what they should do. The captain assumes that they will wish to defend themselves. Rhain says that if they defend the ship, they should get a discount on their passage. Rhain’s blatant mercenary tendencies offends the captain and the captain says that if they don’t wish to defend themselves, that’s their own business. Lenoria attempts to placate the man and manages to get him to say that they can negotiate a price after the fighting is done. Rhain isn’t satisfied with this and stations himself at the door to the hold while the others take up battle positions. Tag hides near one of the masts to get into a good sniping position. Tavayne climbs up into the rigging, takes out his fiddle, and begins to play, inspiring the crew to do their best against the marauders.

Soon, the Fogbringer is rammed by the other ship and lines are thrown over. The Fogbringer is boarded by pirates. The marauders seem to be berserk with a killing rage and are tough opponents. Rhain enters the fray when he sees that Lenoria is threatened and Tag fires his crossbow with deadly aim at those that accost Regna. The melee is crowded on the deck of the Fogbringer and when one man falls, another is ready to take his place.

After the party has taken out about half a dozen of the pirates, they hear a cheer rise up from the crew of the Fogbringer. The crowded deck seems to be clearing out a bit. Tag hides and climbs up the mast. He sees the pirate captain limping across the deck to the his own ship. He takes a shot at him and hits him in the rump. Another cheer goes up from the crew of the Fogbringer. The pirate captain is ordering his crew to retreat and they make their way back to their ship. The party manages to attack a few of them as they make their way over. Regna attacks the pirate captain with Magic Missiles. Finally, the pirate ship pulls away and is too far away to attack.

Captain Boilston makes a speech thanking his crew and the party for running off the pirates. He orders grog all around in celebration. There were some injuries to his crew, but no deaths, fortunately. He informs the party that they just fought off Captain “Whiskey” Jakin Tallfellow of the Thorny Rose, a notorious pirate out of the Jirran Freeholds.

Lenoria and the captain go to his cabin to discuss their compensation for fighting off the pirates with the crew. After a tense negotiation, the captain agrees to forgo half of their passage fees and he’ll agree to have them on the ship again.

Meanwhile, Tag is having a grand time relating his role in fighting off the pirates—especially shooting “Captain Bolt-Butt” with his crossbow. Regna and Rhain return to the hold to relax.

30 Illumination 508

The sailor in the crow’s nest spots some flotsam in the water near the ship, directing the helmsman to avoid it. Tag looks over and sees the corner piece of a chest floating in the water. Sunlight gleams off of something metallic inside the corner piece. He begs for help in getting the flotsam. Lenoria offers to cast Water Walk on him to let him get it. Tag jumps at the chance to walk on water.

Lenoria casts her spell and Tag starts walking on the water beside the ship. He points out the damage the pirate ship has done to the Fogbringer and the barnacles on the side. Then he goes up to the flotsam and scoops it up. Inside the corner piece he finds two metal boot heel plates. He takes them and discards the remains of the chest. He keeps walking on the sea until the spell gives out and then clings to the side of the ship until he is hauled back up.

Lenoria determines that there is mild magic on the boot heel plates. They take the plates to Regna and she determines that they could allow the wearer a bonus to their stealth (+2). They will just need to be placed on someone’s boots with cobbler’s nails. Unfortunately, Tag doesn’t wear boots—except for that one time, back in Crownport.

The rest of the day goes by quietly—except for Tag telling his story of the pirate battle again.

1 Ardor 508

Today brings heavy rain to the trip. Everyone keeps under tarps or in the hold, delaying the journey.

2 Ardor 508

The rain finally lets up and, that afternoon, the ship arrives at the harbor of Asdari. After paying their “gate” taxes, the party manages to find rooms at The Topaz Dagger. They then discuss their next moves.

According to the map they were given, it is 80 miles to the monastery from Asdari. They will be crossing jungle to get to a mountain pass. After much debate, they decide that they will buy a cart with mules to haul food and supplies on instead of buying riding horses. They also decide to rent chests with the Bank of Asdari to hold some of their goods in while they are gone. They head out to the market district to secure all of the supplies that they think they will need for the journey and for the expedition.

3 Ardor 508

The party sets out of Asdari toward the monastery.

Rage and Raven: Curse of Punari (Part One)
Part One


25 Illumination 508

That morning at breakfast, they spot Tavayne and Tag buys his breakfast. Then he informs the fiddler that it’s decided: he’s coming with them, “being as how Rhain couldn’t come up with a good enough reason for him not to go.” Tag tells the minstrel to buy a horse—Rhain will probably gripe if the man doesn’t have a horse and slows everyone down. The minstrel says he can probably do that.

The group goes to sell off some of their magical items and then they head to the University. Once there, Professor Walera introduces them to an Ornish Shandorian monk by the name of Brayden Varrow. The monk tells them a story:

A certain Shandorian monastery was extremely prosperous some two hundred years ago. They were renowned for being the purveyors of the Mountain Panther Style. The abbot, Punari, grew vain and greedy and strayed from 8-fold Path. One day, a powerful cleric of the Way came to the monastery and quarreled with Punari, chastising him for his vainglorious ways. Punari grew angry, and in his anger, killed the cleric.

When word of this atrocity spread, the monastery was shunned. The prosperity dried up. Punari hoarded his riches in his monastery and ceased taking pupils. One day, a visitor came to the monastery, an old crone. She came to see Punari. Twice, the monks turned her away, but on the third time, they allowed her inside. Once inside, she revealed herself to be a sorceress, the sister of the murdered cleric, and battled all of the monks inside, including Punari himself. She defeated them all, cursing them to unlife forevermore and left the monastery to rot and ruin.

Varrow wants the party to retrieve a sacred tome that details the Mountain Panther style. That is all he wants. Should the party find the vaunted riches reputed to be hidden in the monastery, they are welcome to them. After negotiating with the group, he also agrees to pay them 1000 gold (100 platinum) regardless if they find anything in the monastery.

The monastery lies in the Hanan Mountains in southern Achera, some 80 miles from the city of Asdari. The group will sail from Crownport to Asdari, then travel to the mountain pass that leads to the monastery. The monk can provide a basic map to the monastery. The group will know the tome by the symbol of a mountain panther etched on the clasp of the tome. The group, in the end, agree to take on the mission.

After leaving the University, Tag runs to catch up with Tavayne, to stop him from buying a horse. The others go to secure a ship for Asdari. Tag barely manages to stop the minstrel from buying a horse and actually manages to get a potential buyer for the party’s present horses.

Meanwhile, Lenoria manages to secure passage on the Fogbringer, captained by a ruddy-faced ginger-bearded man by the name of Bortz Boilston. They plan on leaving tomorrow at first light.

The group spends the rest of the day provisioning and making preparations for their journey.

26 Illumination 508

The group boards the Fogbringer and, one by one, pays the agree-upon 30 gold fare for passage to Asdari. Rhain complains the whole time. Tavayne counts out the sum to the silver piece. Tag sets about exploring the ship. Tavayne finds a place to settle and starts composing a song.

As the ship sets sail, the group notices that the crew is human and that the ship seems to be sound.

Rage and Raven: Beneath the Skin (Part Six)
Part Six


15 Illumination 508

After spending the day shopping for magic armor and other sundries, the party spends the evening at Lord Waylund’s manor for the celebration of their liberation of the slaves from the hobgoblin lair.

The celebration is essentially a feast held in the party’s honor. Tag is pleased because Lord Waylund was even able to secure some baijiu. It is a joyous celebration that is only brought down slightly when Joia introduces a toast to “Foranella”, which is taken up by the rest of the former slaves. Lenoria asks who Foranella was and is told that she was a slave like the rest them who was killed as soon as it was revealed she was a sorceress.

Lord Waylund also presents the four party members, the “liberators”, with Medals of Service, a Yulanian honor. They are gold medals with crescent moons embossed on the face. Even Rhain is impressed—though mostly with the fact that they are real gold. Tag takes to wearing his right away and wants to know how far it will impress people.

After the celebration, everyone settles in for the night, content and happy.

19 Illumination 508

After continuing to stay at Red Wyvern Manor as the rest of the former slaves move on and return to their lives, the party finally collect their refurbished, newly magicked armor and say their farewells to Lord Waylund. They load up their mounts and head west from Osandar, back toward the old Acheran fortress.

22 Illumination 508

The journey to the fortress proves to be uneventful. They arrive at the fortress a little before noon three days later and hitch their horses to a copse of nearby trees. Rhain checks the area for signs of disturbance, but sees nothing. Looking up at the fortress, no one sees any signs of sentries—except for Rhain, who says he sees a shadow move up on one of the guard towers. They send Tag forward to check it out.

Tag stealthily approaches the fortress and enters the courtyard. He sees three indistinct corpses being pecked at by buzzards in the courtyard—corpses that were not left behind by the party last time they were there.

He enters the laundry room and pulls out the stone in the wall they had removed earlier and gazes inside—no sleeping hobgoblins. He heads up into the nearest guard tower and finds nothing but the bloated hobgoblin corpse they had left behind. He looks at the other guard posts for guards and sees nothing but diving buzzards. He waits, watching for twenty minutes and sees no signs of guards.

He finally stands between the crenelations and jumps up and down, trying to get his friends’ attention.

Lenoria spots Tag and tells the rest of the party that he’s trying to get their attention. Rhain takes this as a signal of trouble and mounts up to charge in. The rest of the party, Lenoria and Regna, follow.

Rhain charges into the courtyard, expecting trouble, but only finds the three corpses. His charge disturbs the buzzards, who fly off, revealing the remains to be those of hobgoblins. Their gear has been stripped from them. Tag calls down to them that they sure got here fast. He reports that he’s seen nothing as far as guards.

They decide to check out the north wing, where the twenty-eight hobgoblins were sleeping before. All they see now are the remains of some pallets and nothing more. They check out the now empty north-central tower. They they re-check the north-west tower and find only the corpses of the hobgoblins the had killed before. They speculate that it must be as they suspected—the hobgoblins took the deaths of their leaders as a reason to leave. The party decides to take the “Prince’s exit” through the south wing back into the crypt and try to find this horn.

The party inch of the anterooms that did not bear secret doors—finding nothing. They recheck the main mall of the crypt—finding nothing. Rhain takes a nap in the main room. Tag continues to the weapon rack—finding nothing. Lenoria distributes the luck-blessing of her goddess, Imtiau, in hopes of gaining her aid. Nothing.

Finally, when everyone is at their wit’s end, Regna discovers an anomaly in the stone at the bend of the one of the secret passages between the antechambers. They call for Tag, who’s still fiddling with the weapon’s rack. Tag finds a secret door—and a trap. The halfling manages to disable the trap, which would have dropped stones on people’s heads surrounding the secret door.

The door opens up into another corridor which leads into another antechamber with a sarcophagus. Tag checks the corridor for traps, but he finds none. They open the sarcophagus and Tag jumps in, looking for secrets. They find the remains of a soldier with a magical scimitar, kukri, an Elysian Bronze breastplate, magical ring, magical boots, and a horn. At last, they have found what they have sought!

They collect everything and make their way out of the crypt and out of the fortress. They decide to make their way southwest, back toward Crownport.

Along the way, they come across a burned out house and the remains of a greenhouse, which Tag checks out. Other than that, the journey bears nothing more of interest.

23 Illumination 508

As the party travels on this day, they spot a body discarded in the tall grass. Rhain identifies right away as that of a hobgoblin. Tag checks it out and confirms it. It appears to have already been looted.

Later that day, they cross the river at the Yulanian border. Tag shows off his medal with pride and talks to the soldiers about being a Yulanian hero, but the soldiers do not seem very impressed. Finally, the party makes its way into Ornis.

24 Illumination 508

As the party rides to Crownport, they hear fiddle music up ahead. Tag and Lenoria identify it as tavern music—and quite good. As they get closer, they see a fiddler walking toward their destination, dressed in the colorful clothing of a minstrel. As they pass, the fiddler nods and Tag calls out that they are the heroes of Yulania, deemed such by Lord Rollo Waylund. The minstrel asks where they are staying and Tag asks the same of the minstrel. The fiddler says “Kerevon’s” and Tag says that that is where they are staying. Soon, the fiddler is out of earshot.

By late afternoon, the party arrives at the gates of Crownport. After they gain admittance, they head to the University and present their story and the horn to Professor Walera. She makes the agreed-upon payment of to the group for their find and asks if she may call upon them for another job. Lenoria asks if she has one in mind and the professor says that, indeed, she does. However, her colleague will have to give them the details in the morning. They arrange to meet again at 10 bells.

Regna has yet to discover what the ring and the boots they found in the crypt do, so Tag puts on the boots—they contour to the size of his feet. Then he leads the way, marching to Kerevon’s, trying to get into the mindset of the boots’ former owner.

Once the party gets settled at Kerevon’s, a modest inn on the harbor, the party settles into the common room. Tag asks for some baijiu, but is disappointed to find out that the inn doesn’t serve it. Lenoria buys the table some wine, instead. There is a female bard singing in the corner of the room, from whom Tag asks for an Acheran camp song. She says that, alas, she does not know one, but she does know an Ornish camp song. What about a Yulanian camp song? She says that she could sing a Yulanian camp song. Pleased, Tag accepts the Yulanian camp song and tips the bard a gold.

Soon after that, a breathless fiddler comes stumbling in the door—the same man that the troupe had passed coming into Crownport. Tag is jubilant. “Hey everybody! The fiddler’s here!” he cries.

Tag clears out space at their table for the exhausted minstrel, who thanks him profusely and sits. “I caught the back of a merchant’s wagon to get into town before sundown. It was a bumpy ride,” the man says by way of explanation.

When asked about what he was doing, the minstrel says that he travels from place to place, playing music, wooing women, wooing men, having fun. Tag buys him dinner and the minstrel thanks him, asking Tag about this “hero of Yulania” business, wanting to hear the story. Tag gears up to tell the tale with his usual exuberance, but Lenoria interrupts to have Tag make introductions around the table. The minstrel’s name is Tavayne Findarrow. Finally, Tag settles in and tells the story of how they secured the horn and liberated the slaves and saved Lord Waylund. At the end, he displays his medal as proof of his honor.

When Tag is done, Tavayne is impressed. He asks permission to immortalize the story in song. Tag says that “of course” he has permission and assumes that the man is coming with them now to write the song with Tag. Rhain says “no,” but Tag isn’t really listening to him. Lenoria is hedging and Regna doesn’t say much at all. Tavayne says that he would be willing to come, but only if the whole group is willing to have him—he doesn’t want to cause any strife. Tag assures him that there is no strife, he’s welcome to come, that Rhain just says no to everything. Lenoria suggests that Tavayne let the group discuss it among themselves. Tavayne takes that as his cue to leave and bids the group good night.

The group discusses Tavayne briefly, with Rhain saying he doesn’t like strangers because they might turn into snakes. Regna seems fairly indifferent, as does Lenoria, though she wants Tavayne to be made aware that he doesn’t get treasure shares or anything like that. Tag assures her that he won’t and he and Regna head upstairs. Rhain and Lenoria linger in the common room. Lenoria dances badly with some of the men in the room before heading up to bed.

Rage and Raven: Beneath the Skin (Part Five)
Part Five


3 Illumination 508

The four companions bring the bodies of the hobgoblins into the guard room. Tag listens at each of the doors, but hears nothing beyond them. He opens the north door and finds a bed, barrels, and shelves containing various jars of pickled meat. He determines that the barrels contain beer. Checking the other door, he finds a privy.

Throughout this thorough search, Rhain impatiently states repeatedly that he wants to check the hall. Finally, when Tag is done, they decide to follow Rhain’s suggestion.

Going down the hall, they come to another central room with alcoves, which is thoroughly searched. Nothing of interest is found—though Tag is fascinated by a locked, but empty, weapons rack. Why would they lock an empty rack? There must be something there, he reasons. Try as he might, he finds nothing there. Regna detects no magic there either. Nevertheless, he decides to keep the padlock he takes from the rack, just in case it’s important.

Listening at the doors that lie in each direction here, Tag hears muffled noise coming from beyond the eastern door. He opens the door and starts exploring. The others hang back, far more cautious.

The door opens into a corridor lined with cell doors. He can now tell that the noise he heard was a voice, female, with the lilt of a Valish accent, demanding that they be fed. The voice is coming from the furthest door. Tag returns to the others to report what he’s discovered.

This puts the group into a quandary. No one likes the idea of leaving a prisoner to the hobgoblins (though Rhain seems fairly indifferent), everyone recognizes how much more difficult getting out of the keep stealthily it will be lugging a prisoner around. They decide to leave it for now and come back to her when they find the horn.

Checking the western door, they find a relatively clean room with old implements of torture on the walls. They find a door with a passage leading up into the south wing of the keep—a “prince’s exit” from the dungeon. They return to the dungeon and explore the south corridor from the central hub. There they find two solitary cells and what they assume to be a “VIP” cell. Tag opens them all and searches them, but finds nothing of interest.

Finally, they open one door that is not a cell and find a staircase heading down. While Tag and Regna linger above to search out the cells, Lenoria and Rhain head downstairs. Rhain and Lenoria enter an anteroom with murals depicting a thin man in long robes with a staff holding a balance on them, and murals of a large black bull. Lenoria can’t place their significance and Rhain is indifferent. They continue onward to find a larger room with more murals and a winding staircase heading down. These murals depict more of the thin man with the balance and staff and the black bull, but also depict a kingly man, a white stallion, a white heron, and beautiful Southron woman. Lenoria finally places it as the various aspects of Azumazran, Azumartuk, and Azunapath, the main deities of the Acheran religion. They are depicted as guiding souls into the Acheran paradise, Bethaizu.

Lenoria goes to the fetch the other two adventurers, while Rhain, tired of waiting on them, heads down the staircase. Eventually, the others catch up to him, as the staircase is long and winding.

The staircase finally ends in an enormous chamber, decorated in bas relief carvings of the Acheran deities in various aspects. There are four smaller chambers on each side of the long mall area, each with a stone sarcophagus. The long chamber ends in a narrow alcove.

The party cautiously makes its way down the main chamber. Tag lingers behind, checking out the bas relief carvings to see if they yield any treasures. It is he who notices a shadowy form move out from one of the antechambers toward the party. He calls out a warning, allowing Lenoria to have her guard up as a wraith attacks her. Rhain takes the opportunity to attack as it crosses the room to get to the cleric of Imtiau. Tag runs to Regna with a vial of Oil of Magic Weapon. Regna moves in toward the incorporeal undead creature with her newly-ensorcelled weapon. Tag heads to another alcove to see if there is another wraith coming. Rhain re-positions for a flanking maneuver. The wraith tries for Lenoria again, but misses. Lenoria tries to attack the wraith, but misses. Tag tries to open a sarcophagus, but fails. Regna tries to hit the wraith, but fails.

Lenoria goes for another hit, but misses Then Rhain swings and connects with the wraith. The wraith tries to touch Lenoria again but misses. Tag keeps trying to open the sarcophagus, but fails. Regna misses the wraith again. Rhain hits the wraith again. This gets the wraith’s attention and hits Rhain, draining him of strength! Regna misses again and Rhain hits it for a final time, making it dissipate.

Meanwhile, Tag is still trying to open the sarcophagus. Regna goes over and helps him and they get the lid off. Rhain stands watch and Lenoria stands with him.

Tag jumps into the sarcophagus feet first and looks for its “secrets”. Inside is the tattered remains of an Acheran soldier and various weapons and armor—some masterwork and magic. They go to each of the antechambers and open the sarcophagi and let Tag jump inside. In each, they find an assortment of magic and masterwork weapons and armor of Acheran style, but no horn. They do find a couple of secret passages that lead around behind the antechambers, but nothing more.

Stymied by the lack of the horn, they thoroughly search the main room. They find nothing. Rhain gets bored and starts to take a nap. Everyone is getting frustrated but they can’t seem to find the tomb of the commander that is reputed to have the horn. And the hobgoblins are going to be rising soon.

They decide to leave and come back. Maybe with all of their leaders slaughtered, the remaining hobs will decide to leave this place and they can search again later. They head to the cell where they heard the prisoner, checking the other cells along the way. They are all empty. Now they hear a second voice in the cell with the first, telling her to pipe down before the hobs decide to get violent.

Tag is moving forward to see what is going on, but can’t see through the window in the door. Rhain moves forward and takes charge. He peeks inside and sees eight people inside a large holding cell: several humans, a half-elf, an elf, a dwarf, and a halfling. Tag notices that the lock is filled with junk. After speaking briefly with them, he determines that they are all slaves of the hobgoblins. The halfling, Joia, is happy to provide information, though one of the humans, who identifies himself as Waylund, cuts to the chase and tells Rhain that if he helps get them out of there, he will pay them 500 gold when he gets back home to Osandar. That gets Rhain’s attention, but he insists that if he lets them out that he’s in charge that they better do what he says. They all promise to do so.

Tag manages to unclutter the lock without ruining his tools and they all set off out of the keep. They all carry as much of the loot they can manage and get it on to the hobgoblin’s horses and lead them out of the keep. Then they all head east toward Osandar as the sun sinks into the western horizon.

4 Illumination 508

The following day, after an uneventful night in which everyone took part in guard shifts, a review of the food situation reveals that they are going to be short before they get to the city. They decide to have Lenoria and Waylund ride ahead and bring food back from Osandar for the rest of the group. Waylund indicates that he has to resources to make this happen.

After Lenoria and Waylund ride off, Tag needles Dayla, the elf, incessantly about Waylund. She works for him as a cook, but she will reveal nothing about the man and it is driving Tag to the brink. He also talks to Joia, being a fellow halfling and traveler, such as himself. Dayla finally breaks and reveals that Waylund is actually Lord Rollo Waylund of Red Wyvern Manor in Osandar. He didn’t want to reveal himself in case the party wanted to try and ransom him for more money. Tag thinks that “Rollo” is a funny name, but is intrigued by the fact that they rescued a lord and the promise of glory that will bring.

While the rest of the party waits on relief from Lenoria and Waylund, they spend half of their days allowing Talinel, the half-elf, to hunt to supplement their meager supplies.

5 Illumination 508

Meanwhile, Lenoria and Waylund make it into Osandar and to Red Wyveryn Manor, where they get cleaned up and Lord Waylund orders his men to make a wagon full of supplies ready to ride out at first opportunity. Lenoria asks about his family and Lord Waylund says that he lives alone with his ailing mother. The two ride out with the wagon and four other guards.

7 Illumination 508

Lenoria and Waylund catch back up to the party with their wagon full of food. The party is very happy to see them, as Talinel’s hunts have barely sustained them. Fortunately, there has been no sign of pursuit from the hobgoblins.

10 Illumination 508

The entire entourage arrives at the gates of the city of Osandar. Lord Waylund pays the gate fees for all and they make their way to Red Wyvern Manor. It is a modest manor in the city—the grounds are by no means extensive, but are well-maintained.

Tag has already been talking up to the others the idea of a party to celebrate their liberation and so they all manage to talk Lord Waylund into throwing one. He says it will take a bit of planning but he will throw one on the 15th of Illumination. He also welcomes them to modest accommodations in his home—he doesn’t have enough guest rooms for everyone, but he does have a small ballroom where people could bunk and two guest rooms that could be shared.

Tag wanders the house and finds the small ballroom—as well as a bedroom housing a bedridden old woman. He leaves that one alone.

Rhain is taken aside to an office by Lord Waylund and given a sum of 50 platinum pieces.

Over the course of the next few days, the party sell off items, separate magical treasures, and Rhain goes to a temple and gets his strength restored.

Session Fifty-Six
Heritage Lost (Part Two): Restoration


17 Longnight 508

At the University of Kalimsport, the Crimson Cord discusses their provisions situation in regard to their upcoming expedition to Cranbarrow Keep. They also discuss their past experience dealing with incorporeal creatures and how to deal with them. They decide to reach out to the dwarven prioress of the shrine to Skondir, Torga Sphereflint, in order to establish relations with her, and to see if she can secure them some holy water with which to fight the ghosts and spirits haunting the keep. Mahgnus and Surm Ulrich will go discuss the matter with the prioress.

The shrine to Skondir stands in Kalimsport’s temple district. It is an open-air building with no walls, only columns. in the center of the shrine is a working forge and an anvil which stands as an altar. The two men find the prioress, dressed in red robes, conversing with two other dwarves. They approach her, and Surm introduces them politely and indicates why they are coming to her.

The priestess agrees that it sounds like a noble cause, but admits that she is confounded as to why they are approaching The Maker with their inquiry. Surm, silver-tongued as ever, indicates that, as Skondir values making goods that last and excellence in craftwork, that the Crimson Cord wanted only the best in craftsmanship. The prioress seems to accept this explanation, and asks how much holy water did they need and when did they need them. Surm settles on ten flasks by tomorrow morning. The prioress indicates that she can produce only five by tomorrow morning, and only if he can provide twenty-five gold pieces of powdered silver for each flask in order for her to make it. If he can wait another day, she can make all ten. He commits to the five for tomorrow and say he will get back to her about the other five and he and Mahgnus return to the University.

Surm discusses his arrangement with the rest of the Cord and they decide to delay their expedition for another day so that they have plenty of holy water.

18 Longnight 508

The party all head to the market district and go to a shop that sells various spell components to procure the powdered silver necessary for ten flasks of holy water. Savaric stays back at the University and takes advantage of their hospitality.

Surm and Mahgnus then head out to the shrine of Skondir to deliver the powdered silver and pick up the five flasks of holy water and the news about the decision to wait for the five additional flasks on the morrow. The prioress offers to allow the two men to watch as she makes the holy water this morning. Surm and Mahgnus watch as she places a silver bowl of water on the anvil/altar and says prayers to Skondir over the water while adding the powdered silver. A soft glow suffuses over the water and then she pours the water into five flasks. She wishes the two men to have The Maker’s blessing on their journey.

19 Longnight 508

The party gets up early and they, as well as the entire guard contingent, heads out to the shrine of Skondir to pick up the remainder of the holy water from the prioress. The prioress provides the five flasks and again blesses their endeavor. The troupe then rides out of the city and toward Cranbarrow Keep. Elizir rides with Surm and directs the way to the keep, which lies some ten miles outside the city. Both Rilka and Surm note that the old man seems to have the shakes as he rides.

After a couple of hours, Elizir indicates that they are approaching the keep. As they approach, they can see that the central portion of the structure has completely collapsed, forming a large pit in the center of the keep. Some of the party can see, floating over the pit, a strange, multi-colored miasma. Savaric can see forms floating in the miasma. As they get closer, Surm and Mõrvar speculate on the nature of the miasma, thinking that it is residue from the alchemical explosion that took place here five years ago and that stepping into it could have unknown, dangerous effects. As far as getting rid of it, it would probably take multiple castings of greater dispel magic.

The troupe comes up close to the keep and sets up an encampment. Surm notices Elizir eyeballing the tower balconies and asks what he sees. The old man says that he doesn’t remember there being statues up there before. Looking up, sure enough there appear to be human-sized statues lining the balconies, four on each one. From further back on the approach, it was hard to make out details, but from the encampment, one can tell that they have a winged, demonic aspect to them.

Once the encampment is established, Mõrvar, Savaric, and Rilka start heading around the side of the keep to try and find an entrance allowing them to avoid the miasma-laden pit. Elizir mentions that the only other entrance he knows of is a secret passage leading out of the keep through the dungeon but the dungeon lies where the pit is. The passage opens up in the side of the hill.

As the three make their way clockwise around the keep, four of the statues off the southwest balcony suddenly leap off of the edge and swoop down toward them. An alarm is raised by the encampment and Surm shouts to Alasir to have the guards train their bows on the set of the “statues” on the southeast balcony.

Meanwhile, Savaric, Mõrvar, and Rilka square off with the four gargoyles. While Mõrvar and Rilka go toe-to-toe with theirs, Savaric withdraws from his, trying to get a decent shot off with his bow. The gargoyle takes to the air in pursuit, easily closing the gap. Meanwhile, Mõrvar and Rilka handily defeat their foes, allowing Savaric to lead his to them and he finally gets a shot off, finishing off last gargoyle.

As that fight took place, the gargoyles on the southeast tower leaped down from the balcony, flying toward the encampment. The guards fire their arrows at the gargoyles, but all of the bolts and arrows bounce off their hides ineffectively. Surm casts two admonishing rays at the creatures, which hit home, however, knocking two of the creatures with hard blows. The gargoyles land and the guards begin attacking the creatures with their melee weapons, ganging up on the four creatures with a vengeance, Alasir calling for the guards to “Attack!” Surm calls forth two more admonishing rays to help with the fight. The gargoyles apparently have had enough, as they take to the air to flee, allowing the guards to attack them once again. One of the gargoyles falls from the sky as three of them fly off. Surm then summons forth a fireball and blows them out of the sky. He then orders Alasir to have some guards mutilate the bodies to make sure they are dead.

Mõrvar mutilates the bodies of the fallen gargoyles at their end of the keep and the three head back to the encampment to report on what they encountered and to check on the explosion they heard. Surm explains what happened for his part of the battle. The three then return to the side of the keep to continue their exploration.

As they make their way around to the side, they see four more statuesque forms on the northwest tower. Savaric says he’s going to save time and go ahead and shoot one. Putting action to his words, he does so, and it falls from the tower, but the other three come swooping down. A fight ensues, wherein Savaric trips his foe, making it fall prone, a fact that Mõrvar exploits as he slays the creature. The party makes short work of the gargoyles. Mõrvar uses message to report to Surm that they killed more gargoyles. However, in the process, they also find a window that they can use to get inside. Surm and Elizir come and they make their way inside the keep through the window into the kitchen.

The kitchen is dusty, filled with rusty tools and discarded utensils. They decide to head up through the door to the servant’s quarters. As Savaric gets ready to head through the door, an insubstantial, translucent figure suddenly floats up out of the floor and appears before him and reaches out and touches him, making him feel corrupted and unclean. Mõrvar steps forward, Savaric steps back, and Elizir runs to the back of the room, shivering and whimpering. The party fights the ghost, eventually making it dissipate, but not before its corrupting touch affects Mõrvar as well. Rilka performs her healing magic on everyone and they move on to the servant’s quarters.

As they make their way through the west wing of the keep, they find no more ghosts—only dusty, empty rooms. The storage towers have old clothes, artwork, festival decorations, and the like. The dining room is mostly destroyed, though there is one surviving sideboard with the Cranbarrow crest carved on it.

As they get closer to the pit, Rilka casts detect magic on it—detecting a magical ambience about the miasma. This gives both he and Mõrvar food for thought about the magical effects of the miasma, making Mõrvar thinking that the reason the effects are unknown is because the effects are random and temporary—transitory and impermanent. This makes everyone feel a bit more confident about being able to explore the underground portion of the keep.

They climb the stairs in one of the side towers to the roof, cross the roof, to the next tower, and lower Rilka and Mõrvar down on a rope to the balcony, to check out the ballroom. While checking out the balconies, they discover that the gargoyles have their stashes of treasures there. Gold, platinum, silver, copper, gemstones, and jewelry for the taking. They collect the treasure as they make their way around the keep. As they make their way across the roof, Rilka notices four flying forms, gargoyles, flying off from the northeast tower in a northbound direction. The party speculates that perhaps they are fleeing, thinking that perhaps the violence done to their fellows was too much for them to handle.

They enter the east wing through the maids quarters and begin exploring the ground floor in earnest. When they come up on the chamberlain’s quarters, Elizir perks up. He goes to a chest and opens it, taking out a ceremonial dagger and a pouch. Then he goes to a desk and takes out a large, pewter seal. He fingers it pensively for a moment before placing it in the pocket of his cloak.

They make their way into the library, a larger room filled with dusty Ornish books of philosophy, natural history, poetry, and the like. Suddenly, another translucent form materializes from the shelves, moaning at the party. Surm yells for the party to take their positions. Savaric backs up and readies his bow. Rilka and Mõrvar take up flanking positions. A fight ensues, in which the spirit attacks Mõrvar, exerting its corrupting touch. Finally, the party take out the ghost, forcing it to dissipate.

Rilka applies more healing magic and the party makes their way into the drawing room, which is mostly destroyed. They then do the same trick they did on the west wing to access the second floor of the east wing and explore the master suite of the late Lord Cranbarrow. They search out the room, thinking that they may find the signet there. They find nothing of interest.

Finally having searched out all of the available rooms of the keep, the party discusses what to do next. They decide to use the secret passage Elizir mentioned to go to the heart of the pit and see if they can find the body of the late Lord Cranbarrow and the signet ring. They will simply have to risk the exposure to the miasma.

Elizir leads them down from the keep, where they pass the encampment. Surm notifies Alasir of what the new plan is and directs the guard captain to keep an eye out for any returning gargoyles or other threats. Alasir says “Yes, sir.”

The former chamberlain takes the party to a small copse of trees and brush on the side of the hill on which the keep sits. He starts clearing away brush, and the party helps him. Finally, the cleared brush reveals a steel grate, which Elizir unlatches and opens. Surm asks if there are any traps in the passage and Elizir says that there is not. The party enters the passage, with Mõrvar leading he way, light cast to illuminate his way, followed by Rilka and her glowing falchion, then Surm, Elizir, and Savaric at the rear.

The tunnel is a narrow, stonework affair and fairly straight. After a while, it starts to widen a bit and Mõrvar and Rilka start to feel and smell an uncomfortable, slimy smell in the air but feel no ill effects. Surm says to continue on. As they continue, they all feel the strange closeness in the air and suddenly Rilka and Surm start hearing the sound of a wailing cat start coming from Elizir’s arm. Looking at him, he stares horrified at his arm, rolling up his sleeve, revealing a cat’s mouth, inset into his arm, mewling pitifully at everyone. Elizir can barely contain his horror as Surm tries to reassure him that the effect should only be temporary. They continue traveling down the tunnel.

True enough, the cat’s mouth disappears from Elizir’s arm as they travel. They come upon a wider portion that looks like a room that’s roof has fallen through. They navigate their way around the debris. As they do, Surm and Savaric spot the skeletal remains of a hand poking through some of the debris. It is not wearing a ring. Using Mõrvar’s engineering know-how, they decide to start clearing away the rubble. But suddenly, Elizir calls out “What is happening to me?” while eyes suddenly pop out all over Mõrvar’s body and start blinking, and Savaric turns into a fish.

Mõrvar starts laughing at the predicament. Rilka cuts the top off of her waterskin and throws the Savaric-fish inside the water. Surm turns to look at Elizir (Mõrvar doesn’t have to turn as he can see all around him now), who is now incorporeal. He warns Elizir not to put his hand into the stones, as they don’t know when this is going to wear off and he could trap himself. Rilka mutters to the Savaric-fish how he owes her a waterskin now.

Surm realizes that he has a Locate Object scroll that could be used to find the signet ring. He casts the spell and it leads him to a pile of debris. Those party members that can, help with clearing the debris. Eventually, Mõrvar loses all but two of his eyes, Elizir becomes substantial, and Savaric emerges whole from Rilka’s waterskin. They finally find the remains of the late Lord Cranbarrow and the signet ring. They gently remove the remains from the debris and remove the signet ring from his finger and give it to Elizir for safekeeping.

Meanwhile, an arm with a hand attached to quietly grows out of Savaric’s chest under his armor. Savaric keeps this fact to himself.

Mõrvar wonders aloud at what can put these ghosts out of commission all at once. He and Rilka bring up the fact that ghosts can rejuvenate unless they are put to rest. So the party speculates on what will put these spirits to rest—getting rid of the miasma? Allowing Lord Cranbarrow to reclaim the estate? Burying all the remains?

As this is occurring, Rilka is casting detect undead around them in the pit. She does detect the spirits—and they are getting closer, converging on their position. They pick up the remains of Lord Cranbarrow and start heading out of the pit through the tunnel.

As they run, they hear moaning coming from behind them. Surm’s hand starts smoking, as if it had been on fire but was just extinguished. By the time they get to the edge of the miasma, Surm’s hand stops smoking.

They stop at the end of the tunnel and regroup. They decide to leave the remains there and go back to the encampment. There they will notify Captain Alasir of the new plan. They will leave the guards and Savaric behind to watch the keep. Surm, Mõrvar, Rilka, and Elizir will all return to Kalimsport to fetch young Lord Cranbarrow and to find a priest to cast the greater dispel magic spells to disperse the miasma. They will inter the older Lord Cranbarrow and have the younger formally reclaim the estate. Hopefully all of that will put the spirits to rest. They can also notify Lady Gynn of their plans and allow her participation if she so desires.

They leave the remains and put their plan into action.

The party arrives at the gates of Kalimsport near sundown. After paying their gate taxes, they separate—Mõrvar heads off to see Lady Gynn and to notify her of the plans, including for everyone to meet at her estate. Rilka and Elizir go to the Hall of Records to find Lord Cranbarrow to notify him of the events to the day and to fetch him to reclaim his estate and return the signet ring to him. Surm goes to the temple of Halor, Lord Sun, to find a priest powerful enough to perform the needed spells to clear off the miasma.

Mõrvar is admitted into the Gynn estate, having been recognized from his previous visit. He is brought into Lady Gynn’s sitting room where he meets with the noblewoman and describes the events of the day. She comments that she was right to hire the Crimson Cord for this particular endeavor. She is well-pleased. She is also amenable to having everyone meet at her estate this evening.

Rilka and Elizir head to the Hall of Records. The half-orc lets the old chamberlain do most of the talking and they are speedily admitted and taken to the young nobleman. Rilka introduces herself as a member of the Crimson Cord, which puts Lord Cranbarrow at his ease and he meets with the two outside the Lands office. They describe for him the events of the day and Elizir presents to him the signet ring. The young man takes it, with a solemn air, and says that he will, of course, accompany them to the keep. He must fetch his horse, as he usually takes a carriage about the city.

Surm goes to the temple of Halor, which sports a large sundial outside the main building which serves as a sort of public park. There are lesser priests outside, but Surm wants someone of import. He goes inside and is immediately approached by a priest who offers greetings. Surm asks to speak with someone in charge and explains that this is matter of grave import involving a magical accident that needs to cleaned up and public safety is involved. This persuades the priest to take Surm to the Abbot, who is in charge of the temple. The Abbot meets with Surm and seems familiar with the Cranbarrow story. He agrees that something needs to be done, but indicates that the spell is beyond his own power. He will need to consult with the Bishop. Fortunately, she is available, if Surm is willing to wait. Surm indicates that he is and the Abbot excuses himself. After about ten minutes, the Abbot returns with a woman who introduces herself as Bishop Lynel Winnarrow. She says that she agrees that something absolutely needs to be done about this matter. She will prepare her prayers and be ready to assist them first thing in the morning. Surm seems disappointed about the timing, but acquiesces and promises to come by at first light.

Everyone meets at Lady Gynn’s estate, where Surm announces that they will have to wait until in the morning to enact their plan, as the Bishop of Halor will need to prepare her spells. Mõrvar and Rilka decide to head back to the keep to notify Savaric and Captain Alasir of the new plan. Surm will ride out in the morning with everyone else.

20 Longnight 508

It’s a dreary, midwinter day Surm, Elizir, Lady Gynn and her entourage, Lord Cranbarrow, and a priest of Sadum that he commissioned for the occasion all head to the temple of Halor to pick up the Bishop Winnarrow. The Bishop is up and ready to go and they all ride out of the city for Cranbarrow Keep.

When they get to the keep, they receive the report that the night was quiet. Rilka, Surm, and Mõrvar escort the Bishop to the tunnel so that she can get to the heart of the pit to begin her castings. As they enter the miasma, Rilka develops a ten-pound cancerous tumor on her arm. Finally, the Bishop begins her spells and the party can feel the miasma fading away. Afterwards, Rilka notices that there is no more moaning—it’s quiet. Surm notices no more shadowy, translucent forms flitting about. The spirits seem to be gone. They all head back to the encampment.

Once there, Lord Cranbarrow makes a speech, thanking both the Crimson Cord and Lady Gynn for enabling him to reclaim his lost heritage. He encourages both of them to call upon him if he can ever repay that debt of gratitude.

Elizir brings up that there is one thing left to be done for the late Lord Cranbarrow. Surm indicates that he wasn’t sure if that was to be a private affair or not. Young Lord Cranbarrow says that it would be an honor if the Crimson Cord and Lady Gynn attended the internment of his father. So they collect the remains of Lord Cranbarrow and head to the mausoleum where the priest of Sadum performs the proper ceremony to inter the remains of the late Lord Cranbarrow.

Afterwards, when everyone is milling about outside the crypt, Lady Gynn pulls Surm aside and asks him how she can repay the Crimson Cord for their fine services. Surm demurs, indicating that they did not do this task for money or treasure. Lady Gynn smiles and says that in that case they are free to call on Lady Gynn should they find themselves in need.

Surm takes Elizir aside and gives him a sum of cash—44 platinum, 265 gold, 166 silver, and 30 copper. He says that this in his take for coming along, enduring the ghosts, and leading way. When he was found he was penniless and living on the streets. He could use this to help his lord rebuild or to stay off the streets. Elizir nods and says, “Many thanks. I will.”

Surm also speaks with the Bishop of Halor, indicating that should the need arise, she can call upon the Crimson Cord. They will be in Kalimsport for a time and can usually be found at the University.

Finally, everyone loads up and returns to the city of Kalimsport, this chapter closing and awaiting another one to begin.

Rage and Raven: Beneath the Skin (Part Four)
Part Four


3 Illumination 508

The party has taken the southeast tower of the fortress, having snuck in invisibly through the courtyard and fighting their way to the top of the tower. Now they debate what to do next as they lay low on the crenelated roof of the tower. Most of the party want to go back below, while Rhain wants to take a go at the Hobgoblins on the southwest tower.

The party apparently takes too much time debating as a hob from the southwest tower starts coming over, having spotted something amiss on their tower. He comes ambling down the catwalk toward the southeast tower while the party quietly tries to take up hiding positions behind the crenellations. As the hobgoblin guard comes up onto the tower’s roof, he’s ambushed by the party—they make short work of the beast.

Meanwhile, the ruckus has alerted the other hobgoblin who was with him on the southwest tower. That hob starts heading down the stairs into the tower. Rhain bolts down the catwalk to catch up while Regna follows more slowly. Tag and Lenoria check out the body of the fallen hobgoblin guard.

Rhain manages to catch up with the guard down in the south wing of the fortress. He attacks as Regna catches up. Soon, they take out the guard, who is considerably tougher than his companion. The rest of the party catch up soon after and they gather in the south wing.

From there, the party decides to try and take out more of the tower guards before moving on to the dungeon area indicated on their map. They don’t want the tower guards to get alerted and be waiting for them when they come out. They decided to sneak across the open atrium toward the northeast tower. They then opt to sneak across the open courtyard to the tower itself. Tag goes first.

When he gets inside the tower, he finds that there is not a way into the north wing from the tower, like there were in the southern towers in regard to the south wing. He also manages to alert a guard up in the tower, who calls down in the guttural tongue of the goblins at Tag. Tag manages to grunt convincingly and placates the guard up above, apparently satisfying the hobgoblin’s curiosity.

Meanwhile, the others sneak across the courtyard to the northeast tower to join the halfling. As Lenoria makes her way across, the guard from the tower shouts down at Tag—apparently thinking he’s going to do something about what he saw. Rhain sprints up the stairs and meets the hobgoblin up top, tripping him so that he can get into a flanking position as Regna follows up behind him. The two manage to slay the hobgoblin.

When Lenoria catches up, she uses her goddess-blessed powers to heal Rhain and Tag from their wounds of the previous battles. Regna examines the stones at the bottom of the tower, adjacent to the north wing, and says she thinks they could be loose enough to wiggle out and access that wing without going through the front door. Tag starts wiggling the stones quietly. As he clears out a few of the stones, some light from the tower falls into the wing and sheds light on about twenty-eight sleeping hobgoblins, all lined up on pallets on the floor in the room. Momentarily panicked, Tag starts quickly putting the stones back in the wall, saying “We don’t want to go in there.”

They change their plan. They head back up to the top of the northeast tower and then Rhain runs across the catwalk to the two guards on the northwest tower. The hobgoblins notice the barbarian running toward them and come out to meet him at the entry to the tower. He overruns the hobgoblins and sets Regna up to flank them. Lenoria casts spiritual weapon to attack one of the hobgoblins. After a brief battle, the final guard falls after an attack by Lenoria’s spiritual weapon.

The party loots these bodies, allows Lenoria to cast healing on them, and then decide to walk down the catwalk toward the now-empty southeast tower. They head down and cross the open atrium and Tag goes forward to check what are marked as conference rooms on the map.

He hears two forms snoring in one room, nothing in the middle room, and a single form snoring in the third room. They decide to leave the sleeping hobgoblins be for now and head to the kitchens. There they see the cook and his assistant asleep on the floor. They then check the dining hall, finding it devoid of hobgoblins but filled with dirt, dust, and debris. They head back through the dining room to the kitchens and Tag and Rhain deliver a coup de grace to the cooks, slaying them in their sleep.

Tag checks the library door and hears murmured chanting coming from there. Whoever it is, he’s awake and may be a spellcaster. Lenoria disguises herself with props from the various slain hobs and with magic as a hobgoblin and attempts to throw whoever is in the room off guard while Rhain enters invisibly to attack him with bull strength on. The plan is a success—they make short work of the hobgoblin spellcaster and loot his body.

They return to the conference rooms, allowing Tag to stealthily open the door while Rhain enters and delivers a coup de grace to the sleeping hobgoblin. The ruckus apparently disturbed someone they hadn’t heard in the middle room, because a the door opens. Tag is watching the door for just such an eventuality and throws a flask of alchemical fire into the doorway. A large hobgoblin wielding twin sickles emerges and starts attacking with gusto, despite the flames from the fire. After a short melee, Rhain manages to finish him off. Tag once again stealthily opens the final conference room door and Rhain goes in to coup de grace the two sleeping hobgoblins. They loot all of the bodies and create a stash in the east wing of the fortress.

They then head to the door marked on the map as the dungeon entrance. They open the door to reveal a steel grate that overlooks a set of handholds bolted to the wall of the shaft heading down. Lenoria casts light on Tag’s mace and they open the grate and start climbing down, Tag leading the way, followed by Rhain, then Regna, and finally Lenoria, who shuts the door behind her.

The shaft leads down into a small narrow stone corridor. The walls are damp and the air is musty. There’s only way to go so Tag starts heading down the corridor. There are small sets of stairs taking the corridor down as they go. They also spot a narrow alcove, about the size to house a man-sized person, cut into the wall. They figure that it’s meant to house a guard should the need arise. Tag checks the alcove, but finds nothing amiss.

As the corridor circles around they see that the corridor continues on, that there’s another alcove to the side, and diagonally across from the alcove is a shut door. Tag checks the alcove for any secret doors or compartments, but finds none. Tag then opens the door to find five hobgoblin guards—four seated around a table and one standing.

The guards start running toward the door and are met by a bottleneck from Rhain and Regna. Two of the hobs are dispatched when a third comes forward and slams the door shut. Rhain attempts to open the door, but can feel the hobgoblin pushing it back. Finally, the hobgoblin is overwhelmed by Rhain’s strength and moves back, allowing the door to open. The party rushes in and dispatches the remaining hobgoblins. Rhain mutilates the bodies after their looted and Lenoria applies more mystical healing as the party looks around to assess their new surroundings and to wonder what the guards were doing down here.