We have finished searching the ruins. Turns out it was probably a temple of the Adonie, an ancient race long extinct. I am troubled by this green gem we found, Karse suggests it may be one of the “five seals of Octholus”. Whatever it is, it seems to be evil and alive. It has made mental connections with Me, Morvar, Savaric, even Grimnyr the priest, offering great power and worship by others. To my knowledge, only Rilka has yet to be tempted by it. What’s most disturbing is that it has concentrated most of its efforts on Morvar, whom I am afraid is more than a little tempted by the gem’s offers.
I hope to leave it behind with Grimnyr in Josmeet at the “All Father’s Hall” and convince the group to take up Almaric’s purposed quest. Although he can not validate his claim on this “stolen” book, it seems a safer prospect than joining Grimnyr on his quest to destroy the gem, I want my brother away from it.
[II] Keep Burning We were hired by Almaric to liberate a Grimoire from Lord Matrim Quain. Apparently the book belonged to Almaric’s former master. We tried, we went in without a plan, people died and things burned. We did not find the book and had to run south. I’ll not dwell on this failed quest any longer.
[III] The Bloodbeast While heading South, we laid over in a small village of Lord Staven. They were plagued by some sort of beast. I played up Savaric as a “Master Hunter”, and we were hired. Turned out to be a beast and a covey of Kobolds to top it all off. We were paid well, along with a letter of reference from Lord Staven. A little fame is good.
[IV] Captain Rilka is Born On our way to Skeene from Staven, we got caught up in a carnival troupe. Sigh, carnival folk, a dishonest lot at best, deceiving their patrons for their coin and smiling all the while. Once we reached Skeene, we separated from the troupe and made our introductions to Lord Donat, Lord Staven’s friend. He had no immediate work for us and suggested he hold over at the “Nine Sisters”, a reasonably nice inn. I was content to sit and wait, or even see the city; however, the others had heard the siren’s call of the carnival and were determined to waste time and money at the “show”, I stayed in. Of course, as usual with these types of people, the carnival attracted trouble which Savaric helped quell but brought our little group to the attention of the head “carni” herself, Almara Delisen. Now our group has been hired to investigate a murder supposedly perpetrated by one of the beasts of the carnival, a Sphinx. Normally I would have walked away from the whole situation, but the money was good. Of course, Almara starts off attempting to assert the innocence of her folk by keeping secrets from us, the people she hired to prove the Sphinx’s innocence, what a great working relationship. It seems the accused is nothing more than an illusion, which if she just tells the authorities, that proves that the murder was a frame job since all clues pointed toward the Sphinx specifically, but no, we can’t reveal that secret, it would hurt business; because a man-eating Sphinx doesn’t hurt business. I developed a cover story for a group to give us a more professional bearing with the local authorities, Captain Rilka and her “Red Cloaks”. I thought it was impressive and Captain Feldayne took us seriously; cooperation with the locals is always a good thing, building relationships is useful. Through many days of annoying investigation and close calls, we discovered the whole thing was orchestrated by some “Shiver” pushers, some kind of drug ring. After busting this case, now we have great relations with the local authorities and were able to disconnect from that damn carnival, and have a job opportunity suggested by Lord Donat with a Lord Coln in Riverton. But first, we will head North to fulfill our obligation to Almaric, since his man Hakak came all this way looking for us, and find out what Lothar wants, perhaps to make amends, Morvar doesn’t think so, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt. When we get back to Skeene, we’ll escort the Gearwright brothers to Riverton, since they have a boat.
[V] Homecoming After arriving at Josemeedt and the Hall of Yulthn, our business with Almaric is quickly settled and we leave him brooding with his companion Hakak. Savaric is able to track Lothar and his crew into the woods. After a couple of days, we catch up to them. Lothar’s purpose in looking for us is to demand a “weregildt” at the price of 500 gp. Naturally Morvar balks at this and things become more tense. After some discussion, we part company from Lothar without paying the “weregildt”, but combat did not ensue either, so it was a good encounter. Lothar did inform us of Aeth’s current plight, we have decide to go to Uncle Thormax and learn more. After a warm reunion with Thormax, we learn of Aeth’s loses due to a raid by a Warlord Magrathar and his demon summoning witch. This is our opportunity to reconnect with Aeth and the family. Of course, Morvar is resistant to the whole idea, but he is playing along begrudgingly. After a meeting with king Alrik Brytagsson, our group will assist Aeth against Magrathar. King Alrik now sees the benefit of two sorcerers when his army if facing a witch and her demon. Naturally, we are not readily accepted by the village yet, so our group will work as a scouting party for the moment. The king also agreed to a highly reduced price for the “weregildt”, so after paying 50 gp to Lothar, we are also on our way to making amends with the family. Morvar is fighting me on every attempt to reconnect with our people, I don’t know why he insists on holding on to the hate, its not healthy. After scouting up the mountain pass and dispatching several ambushes, we found were Magrathar’s army is encamped. Morvar and I sneak past the army to the first palisade, climb over, and enter the slave area. We make contact with skaald named Rathic and make arrangements for a slave uprising to occur when Aeth attacks. We return to king Alrik, inform him of what we saw and the plans we have made. The king likes our plans and after a few days preparation, we are in motion. Our group sneaks past the palisade and organizes a few slaves for a rush on the gates. Once the battle out front starts, we easily overtake the guards inside and open the gates. Among the slaves was our brother Ren, but our mother is rumored beyond the next palisade. As we are fleeing with the refugees through the battle, I am able to get to king Alrik and inform him of our success as we hear shouts from the rear of “Demon!” I convince Alrik that all warriors with cold iron weapons must engage the demon while the army and refugees retreat. King Alrik hands me his battleaxe of cold iron; then he and I surrounded by his personal guard head for the front line as the army retreats, my little group is nowhere near me, I am no warrior, how did this happen? After encountering the demon, I am able to deliver a massive blow with the axe to its back, it then turns on me. I narrowly dodge a lethal blow from it’s gruesome halberd and the king’s guard is able to hack it down from behind. That makes me a hero, right? We all regroup in Aeth, Magrathar’s forces do not follow. King Alrik then announces that Morvar and I are welcomed back as Aethyngs, this is what I was hoping for, acceptance. Why is Morvar so unhappy with our good fortune? New plans are made for a raid on Magrathar’s keep. Our group decides to move quickly in hopes of infiltrating the keep and killing the witch before she can summon another demon. However, the keep is well protected and it took us longer than planned to get inside. We entered just after she released the demon again. We found her and Magrathar in the main hall, battle ensues and we are victorious. Magrathar and the witch are dead. At first, I am concerned how we are going to escape past his remaining army, but the shouts of “Demon!” and sounds of battle outside seemed to have settled that, the demon became free-willed once the witch was dead and turned on the army. We found our mother with some other slaves in the basement of the keep. We made contact with King Alrik and were able to arrange escort for us, the slaves, and the remnants of Magrathar’s army that surrendered to Morvar, the sorcerer slayer of Magrathar and the witch. Some magically theatrics helped seal the deal. After a search of the keep, I found the “Crystal of Pentharic” and the ritual to use it in the witch’s room. This is how she summoned and controlled the demon. I have not revealed this information to the others yet. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with these things. It is both dangerous and valuable if used. If used, it should be carefully planned out and only in extreme circumstances, but if I can use it, so can Morvar. He rarely plans or takes care with anything he does. He is very impulsive and quick to anger. Releasing this demon should not be a rash decision. I would bring it to a party vote, but if the vote is divided, the party may become divided; it is a powerful artifact after all, and power has a way of affecting people, even good friends. Perhaps I should wait until I decide if I am even willing to risk using the crystal. If am not, then I will dispose of it in secret and the problem will never plague our group. If it is worth risking, then I will bring it for a vote.
[VI] Trophy Hunters We said our goodbyes in Aeth and picked up our stuff at Uncle Thormax’s cottage. I told him of the crystal and demon and asked his advice. His only advice was that it is risky and that he wouldn’t use it. No other warnings, no more urging one way or the other. So, I’m still debating in my own mind as to what to do.
We traveled to Braith, sold our horses, booked passage on the “Wave Raker” with Captain Gail to the city of Jenna. From there, we set out on foot on the East road. Only one incident, a single wolf attacked during the night and was dispatched by Savaaric. Strange to me that a lone wolf would attack a camp. I must observe Savaaric for any signs of disease or infection as he was bitten by the wolf and I am suspicious of its health. Other than that, we arrived in Riverton with no troubles and are heading for the lodge of Lord Coln to hire on as Griphon egg hunters.
Hmmm…Morvar was strangely quiet and amenable for the trip. Just an observation, perhaps sailing suits him.
[VII] Trouble Avoided We completed our business with Lord Coln having retrieved a Griphon egg among other trophies from the mountain. We left his home with a signed letter identifying us as capable and trustworthy hunters. After leaving his lodge, we got rooms in the town while we prepared to travel back to Jenna. While out about the town, we encountered a half-orc surrounded by eight men. I had intended to keep on walking, but Rilka, Savaaric, and Morvar all took exception to the treatment the half-orc was receiving, something about him being a “fellow outcast” or some similar notion.
After dispatching with the gang of ruffians, the half-orc offers to buy us drinks. While drinking, he get a little of his history and his future plans. This fool wants to enter the shrine of a local Paladin hero, loot it, and spit in the eye of the corpse. On top of that, he invites us to join him in this glorious quest. As this clearly does not interest us, I decline and make him swear he will not attempt to do such a thing. He gives his word and leaves angrily. We all agree to trust his word and move on with out business. I am glad he was reasonable, it would have been sad to have to turn him in. There is no way we would not gain guilt by association, we helped in a fight and two of our party are half-orcs. The local authorities would have tracked us down as accomplices for sure.
[VIII] Journal Fragments After a mostly uneventful ride, just a minor incident with a drake on the road, we finally enter Jenna. We sold our treasures and trophies, bought some magical weapons and armor, and finally got that stupid hat off Rilka’s head, never put on a hat you found in a dungeon. We employed a sage, one Master Weldwynn, to do some research on other magical gear we might seek out. He found a journal fragment from Cwenwyth Coulstan, the lone survivor of a failed exhibition to the Isle of Saulvi. She mentions magical items held by her party that presumably remain on the island plus the unexplored ruined city that they barely entered before meeting a fatal end. That city will surely hold some mysterious wonders to be found. Along with the imagined treasures of the ruined city, the journal speaks of several encounters with undead. To deal with that particular danger, we have invited Brother Thorn, a priest of Halor, to join this quest for an equal share excepting the specific items of the previous adventurers which we are going to retrieve.
After some negotiation with Captain Heldane of the “Blackmore Lady”, and the exchange of gold, we have arrangements for drop off and pick up on the Isle of Saulvi, which I am assured no other sane captain will take us. On Illumination 20, we set foot on the beaches of the Isle of Saulvi and watch the “Blackmore Lady” sail away, leaving us to our fates. I am certain we will succeed where the previous group failed.
[IX] The Gate Our trip through the jungle was wrought with perils and slow due to the growth. We found the city and the pyramid. Upon entering the pyramid, we were greeted by a grotesque statue, presumably the deity worshiped by this long dead society. We set about with a systematic search, bottom to top. We encountered many more shadows and found quite a large treasury. We found libraries of ancient scrolls and tomes written in a long dead language and so fragile they crumbled when handled.
A most suspicious encounter came in the form of an intelligent raven with the ability to go invisible. It has taking a liking to my brother and has given us clues to what awaited us at the top, however, I believe it knows more than it is revealing, and its manner seems malicious to me, I can’t get comfortable with its presence in our group, it disturbs me for some reason.
We were forced to rest for the night just after reaching the top. A most unfortunate shadow encounter left to many members of the group weakened. The next day, we found the “gate” that Fer-Fer, the raven, had mentioned and the bodies of the last group to explore this pyramid. Around them, scattered gear, presumably the items we came seeking. But in the center of the room, a pulsating, blood filled pentagram which immediately sickened and unnerved us all, Savaric most of all. Then it appeared, an amorphous mass of flesh with many fanged mouths, it came from the “gate”. As our warriors formed a semi-circle in the door to await the creatures approach, I charged in and out of its path. Thankfully, it considered me of little threat and continued on to the rest of the group. I did then the only thing I felt I would be of any use to the group, I used the scroll we found and animated the skeletons of the previous group and sent them into battle. I suppose in a strange way, I gave them a chance for revenge against the creature that killed them.
The battle was long, desperate, and took a heavy toll on Rilka, but we were triumphant. I just hope Brother Thorn can reconcile with the necessity of raising the skeletons to aid us in that fight and the practicality of keeping them for the long haul back through the jungle.