A testament to change (a failure of fate)

Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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Quest for the Angel's Tear

THE PARTY MEETS


As newly-inducted members of the Titanite Society, the members of the party converged on Wayford. There were two groups from small training camps: from one came Jason and Gwarryn Byrsodepsis; Wraya, Daughter of Apollo; and Corbin Thresher. From another came Zaylan DeVries, Henry Oldrey, and Timothy Vizjeri. They met at the Surly Bison, which could just as easily have been a descriptor of the proprietor; the smaller party arrived first, and when joined by the larger, both groups recognized the gems carried by the others.

The inn was quiet, as was the town, because trading season had not yet begun. It was early spring, and the roads were still muddy and difficult for wagons. While waiting for their contact from the Titanite Society, they were approached by someone affecting the mannerisms of an old man. The “old man” noted that it was quite unusual for people to be gathering in a group this size outside of trading season and wandered off, but it wouldn’t be the last they would see of him…


THE QUEST


Soon they were joined by a man named Phalyn, who revealed a piece of titanite and called himself “the Blade of the East.” With the aid of a magical item able to prevent eavesdropping, he gave the new party their mission:

Nineteen years ago, the stars aligned and a child was born who has the potential to be one of the Great Heroes, able to bring about a new Age of Prosperity. The oracle who noted his birth gave her life to keep him hidden, blocking the view of the stars’ alignment from other eyes. Now, other forces seek him, and they watch the powerful members of the Titanite Society. Thus the great task of finding the destined child and bringing him safely back falls to new, unknown members.

Phalyn directed the party to the grave of Marian Oris, a warrior of ages past, and a martyr and saint. She was a member of the Order of Lightbringers, and fell in battle single-handedly fighting off four bulettes for two hours, while wearing nothing but a robe and her sword, to buy a village time to evacuate. She was in possession of an Angel’s Tear which, when held by the prophesied child, would reveal him. Unfortunately, it is not known what happened to her crystal; but fortunately, her spirit is known to appear at her grave to those who are pure of heart.

Phalyn was able to provide little more information beyond this. All that was known is the age of the child and that he was born somewhere in the Kingdom of Berth or in the Valarian Valley. He left the party with vouchers for horses from the Mighty Thunder stables, some notes about the areas in question that would be in the saddlebags, and asked them to contact Thomas Underrock in the city of Beryl, a week and a half away by horse.


A GRAVE ASSAULT


The party approached the grave of Marian Oris, whereupon she arrived and said that she left the Crystal with the head priest of the temple of Ares, 3.5 leagues to the northeast. After she appears and offers this knowledge, the party is besieged by skeletons, zombies, and a ghoul. The skeletons are armed and armored, and appear to have been waiting, while the zombies are created from other bodies in the cemetery. After the group sends the undead back to rest, they see the “old man” running off into the woods. Though Gwarryn’s wolf Drust follows his scent, the trail stops cold, as if the man just disappeared.

Alarmed at what the man might have overheard, the party rushed back to Wayford. They obtained the horses from the stables while asking around about the temple of Ares. They learned that the temple is a barracks carved into the base of a large hill, and has been out of use for over a generation. They set out immediately for the old temple to make up as much ground as possible, and camped in the woods that night.


THE TEMPLE OF ARES


As they camped, the fire was approached during second watch by a hooded man. Jason was on watch, and though cautious, he welcomed the newcomer to share their fire and some refreshment. The man called himself Markel, and kept his hood low about his face. He claimed that these were his woods, and soon was joined by a companion: a large brown bear with a leather harness that had a titanite stone set into the chest, carrying in his mouth a dead hobgoblin. Thus reassured, the few members of the party awake asked him about the temple. Markel said he knew of it, and drew them a map of the interior as he remembered it. Though he kept the hood of his cloak low, his intimate knowledge of the temple when it was in use led the party to believe that he was one of the rare elves in the Society. Markel offered to keep watch for the rest of the night and guide the party to the temple in the morning, and the party gratefully accepted his assistance.

The group tied the horses up in a grove away from any of the paths commonly used by the hobgoblins and entered the temple. While searching the entranceway and adjoining rooms, they found and defeated several hobgoblin guards, a handful of goblins, and a few goblin dogs. They also found a room whose door had been plastered over, and battled the giant crabs dwelling within. They found a silver holy symbol of Ares, as well as several small magical items. The battles had taken their toll, and rather than progress further into the old temple, they set up a small camp in the hidden room and rested for the night.

The next day, they entered the deeper recesses of the temple. Although they had a map which would guide them to the sanctuary, the easy paths and rooms were blocked by fallen rubble and they had to travel around the long way. They defeated more hobgoblins and found a sealed room with an inscription sacred to Ares on the door, a fresco of the god of war vanquishing an army of gorgons and medusae. Inside the room was four statues and four decorative weapons; each statue had upturned hands, and at the base of each was a different animal. The party was trying to place different combinations of weapons in each statue’s hands, with no success. While looking at the mural, Corbin noticed that the picture offered clues, showing different types of gorgons with heads corresponding to the animal statues being killed by different types of weapons. After placing the weapons into the proper statues’ hands, a door in of this room unlocked, offering the party access to an inner chamber where the walls themselves were a depiction of the tenets of Ares’ faith. It was a training room, where one could teach the important stories of the faith to acolytes who could not read. The walls themselves were enchanted to change images at a touch. Inside a dais in the center of this room was a collection of scrolls and potions, and a warhammer made of a strange metal, unlike anything anyone had seen before.

The party continued down the corridor, and outside the sanctuary of the temple were attacked by several large cats and some hobgoblin archers. After dealing with this threat they entered the sanctuary, where they were clearly expected. A group of hobgoblins fighting in formation with large shields and spears was waiting to greet them, and behind them was an ogre, a hobgoblin shaman, and a warrior – the leader of this pack. This was no ordinary tribe of hobgoblins, as they were too well-armed, well-armored, and well-trained. Never before had any of the party heard of hobgoblins using a phalanx formation. However, Jason had been magically enlarged by Timothy and was able to hold the attention of the phalanx and break it up while the Henry, Corbin and the others worked around the flanks. As the spear-wielding hobgoblins in the back of the phalanx withdrew and drew javelins, the leader approached the large paladin. Jason and Gwarryn flanked the leader and killed him, while Henry flew into a frenzied rage and went toe-to-toe with the ogre and then went after the shaman, who had managed to split the party with fear-inducing spells.

After all of the hobgoblins were dead, the party checked the remaining rooms in the temple. In one, they found a large locked chest containing a large amount of silver in the same coinage as the hobgoblins were carrying, some gems, a letter written in a strange language, and the Angel’s Tear in a small pouch. (It is worth noting that the hobgoblins did not have the key to this chest—Zaylan opened it.) In the other, they found a chest guarded by a gargoyle, who moved from his perch when presented with the holy symbol of Ares and the strange warhammer from the archive room. The chest contained a few other magic items and a silver altar set. With their task complete and the Angel’s Tear in hand, the group left the temple.

Upon magical inspection, the letter was a request to find a crystal matching the description of the Angel’s Tear. It promised a large lump-sum payment as well as continued fees for guarding it, and was signed with an arcane mark sigil. The coinage was from the east, possibly the northeast.

The party traveled to Wayford to purchase supplies and convert some of the silver to something more manageable to carry (they found some jewelry available), then set off for Beryl via the crossing at the ruins of Lodrin Village.

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The Journey to Beryl

THE RUINS OF LODRIN


The party reached the ruins of Lodrin Village after about a week of travel. After they crossed the bridge over the Jesibil River and set up camp in the ruins of the inn – the only structure still standing. That night, they were assaulted by a force of hobgoblins, with their shields all bearing the same crest as the shields of the hobgoblins in the temple of Ares.

The fight raged, as both groups seemed evenly matched and defenses had the advantage. The hobgoblins sent in wave after wave of low-ranked fodder, some of whom were snared in Gwarryn’s entangle spell. Others fired crossbows from a safe position, while some had stealthily hidden in the reeds waiting for one of the adventurers to pass by so they could throw an axe at their vital organs. Henry flew into a berserk rage, hacking through those in his way and… also biting them, much to the surprise of his companions (and the hobgoblins, too). Hobgoblin shamans and sorcerers joined the fray, sending magic missiles and fear-causing spells against the adventurers. The spellcasters quickly found that their usual tactics were of no use against these well-trained hobgoblins: they were warded against both Timothy’s acid and Wraya’s fire. They were soon joined by a large hobgoblin warrior, clearly the leader of their group. In the chaos of the fight, some of the hobgoblins withdrew and the party, though they’d sustained no small amount of damage, regrouped to battle the leader and his personal cleric and sorcerer.

As the hobgoblins fell and the party emerged victorious, they surveyed their claimed prizes and found another letter in the same strange language. It was written in two different hands; one was an order to be at the crossing of the Jesibil River to stop the people matching the description of the party, and gave notes about the party’s fighting tactics and common attacks. The second was a note that the loss of the crystal was an expensive blow, and failure to recover it would not be tolerated. This note was signed by Grumush of the Legion.


ENTERING BERYL


After spending the next morning in recovery, the party set back on the road for Beryl. Upon reaching it, they found an extensive (and rather silly) list of laws posted. After paying the gate tax, they asked the guards for direction to Thomas Underrock’s establishment and an inn where they could stay. The guards directed the party to the Wagon Wheel as an inn where they didn’t have to worry about things like fleas, and raved about Underrock’s beef and barley stew. After obtaining rooms at the inn, the party split up: Jason and Corbin went to visit Underrock, Timothy visited the local sister branch of the Collegium, Wraya and Henry went to the travelers’ shrines and the merchant district to purchase local clothing, and Zaylan and Gwarryn went to the merchant district to sell the gems that the party had collected in their battles.

Jason and Corbin: Jason and Corbin went to Thomas Underrock’s famous restaurant, and while waiting in line Corbin got the proprietor’s attention. Underrock noticed and recognized the titanite set in the pair’s weapons, and pointedly scurried back to the kitchen to “add some spices to the stew.” Jason and Corbin ordered bowls of stew – indeed, the finest they’d ever had – and at the bottom of Jason’s bowl was scratched a brief message: “172 King’s Way, all, 4 hrs”. The two ordered a large kettle of stew and carted it back to the Wagon Wheel so the rest of the group could bask in its glory.

Timothy: Timothy visited an artificer at the wizards’ tower in hopes of gaining the knowledge he would need to begin enchanting items. He was given a price for a tome that would guide him on the right path.

Wraya and Henry: After Wraya visited the small shrine to Apollo, she and Henry went to the merchant district and procured clothing in the local style for everybody.

Zaylan and Gwarryn: Zaylan and Gwarryn found a gem merchant who turned out to be an honest sort, providing accurate pricing for the gems and jewelry that he was shown. He purchased the lot for a good price, and mentioned that he had buyers for obsidian until shortly after trading season started, since it was uncommon, and that quartz was currently a hot commodity.

Everyone reconvened at the inn in the early afternoon and over stew shared what they had learned. Jason and Corbin told everybody about the scheduled meeting. The party allocated money from the sale of the gems to Timothy, as that knowledge would be of great benefit to everybody. Most of the party changed into the local clothes, though Gwarryn would purchase an additional outfit later. The party again split up to take care of personal errands and agreed to meet at King’s Way before the meeting.

Jason visited the shrine to Apollo and left a small offering. Zaylan visited a small, out-of-the-way “curiosity shoppe,” and the eccentric old woman who owned it was able to identify a magical dagger that would not otherwise respond to magical identification. She offered him a trade of some useful items, and asked him to come back if he found anything else interesting. Timothy went back to purchase the tome of artificing, then paid the city’s bordello a brief visit.


A MEAL WITH UNDERROCK


The party regrouped at King’s Way and went down the street to the residence in question. The door, its knocker a large wooden spoon, was answered by a huge guy – most unexpected, when the resident is a halfling. He showed them in to Underrock’s large dining hall and bade them have a seat. Underrock joined them shortly, and after a quick barrage of “little people” jokes in which the halfling gave as good as he got (and showed that he was a man who did his research), they settled down to a fine meal. Underrock insisted: “You can’t talk business on an empty stomach.”

Underrock was a master chef, and the food and drink were from his private stock. Everyone ate better than they had in quite a long time… perhaps ever... and Underrock managed to put away twice as much as anyone else. (No one is quite sure how.)

While dessert was being prepared, the halfling got down to business. His trusted agents had checked out the birth records of the small towns and farmsteads in Berth, and while four children were of the proper age, he had determined that the one the Titanite Society sought was none of them; therefore their goal must be in the Valarian Valley. He had prepared a cover story for the party. The Valley was an exporter of much of the fresh food in the region, and Underrock purchased his directly from some of the farmers there. In fact, he had recently been expanding and spreading out his purchases, so he was buying from all of them. The people of the valley were somewhat guarded, though, and most travelers and merchants could only enter as far as Valor Hold. The party, therefore, would be Underrock’s agents, renegotiating prices with each of the farmers. This would give them an opportunity to observe the people at every farm and test the youths of the right age.

Dessert and an after-dinner brandy were served, and the generous pour of the potent liquor was enough to render most of his guests quite drunk; fortunately, Underrock (ever the consummate host) had guest rooms already prepared.

The party rose to a breakfast of crushed oats prepared by the doorman, gathered their goods, and ran a few more errands. They met Underrock’s doorman at the city gate and received a list of all of the farms from whom Underrock purchased, as well as the writs that would allow them entry into the Valley itself. They set off once again down the road…

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One Day in Beryl

Forum Post

While waiting for the proper time to leave Beryl – so they would arrive at Valor Hold at the proper time – the party had a day to kill. Here’s how they spent it.

Jason visited the temple district to learn about this region’s gods, and spent some time tending the small shrine to Apollo.
Henry went to some seedy bars to see if he could learn something about the hobgoblins that were being thrown at the party like fodder. They were organized, funded, and well-equipped, which means somebody might have heard something.
Gwarryn picked up a map and researched the area’s flora and fauna.
Timothy studied the manual of item enchantment, and sought enchanting (or at least reasonably-priced) company in the evening.
Corbin wandered the city talking with others who appeared to be adventurers, with whom he swapped stories and tips, and children, in whom he hoped to foster the same excitement for adventure that he had as a kid.
Zaylan bought a light mace and practiced using it.
Wraya did nothing in particular.

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Searching Valor

TO VALOR HOLD


The party left the east gate of Beryl around midday. They traveled three and a half days along the road north, and spent the night at the crossroads with an eastern split towards Valor Pass – though the night passed as uneventfully as the others in this stretch of their journey, they could not shake an unspecific creepy feeling at this crossroads.

They took the fork east and traveled an additional few days. Outside the pass they met a caravan driver who warned that there were bandits active near Quarry Way.

The party entered the Pass, and during fourth watch that night, Wraya and Gwarryn heard a strange song high above them. They felt a minor compulsion to sek out the source, but both managed to resist the pull. When they mentioned it in the morning, Henry said he had heard something a rumor about this sort of thing in Beryl, but the guy from whom he’d heard about it had fallen and hut himself while looking for the source.

As they traveled on, they were halted late the next morning by the “old man” who had been shadowing their path. He introduced himself as Viscoth and said that he had already kidnapped the boy we were looking for, and offered the party whatever they wanted in exchange for the Angel’s Tear. He offered knowledge, he offered power, he offered money. Some of the party seemed to be considering the offer carefully, rendering Jason utterly aghast. Viscoth had paralyzed Corbin, who had drawn his weapon and was approaching. The discussion drew on as Gwarryn was attempting to draw out any possible information; he was able to confirm that Viscoth was from the east as the party suspected, and he seemed to have political power there as well as magical. Then Gwarryn, who was keeping the Angel’s Tear, tossed a different stone to Viscoth – and it passed right through him, giving away his illusionary or ethereal nature. At this, he realized the gem thrown at him was a fake, and sent in two harpies and a manticore to attack as his presence vanished from view.

The party dispatched their monstrous foes, though not without sustaining some fairly substantial injuries. Gwarryn collected the tail spikes the manticore had flung at the party, as they had magical properties and could be useful later. Everyone’s wounds were healed as best as could be done on the road and the party set off once more, hoping to make Valor Hold before nightfall. En route, they encountered a makeshift toll booth manned by some shady-looking fellas. These men requested a 3gp toll. -After sending someone back for a shitload of dimes- The party paid the toll, as it was better to avoid this fight than start another so soon after being pounded on by the manticore and harpies. Their leader stamped the papers from Underrock with some symbol and let the group pass.


VALOR HOLD


They arrived at Valor Hold near sundown, and the gate guard recognized the symbol: it was the sigil of Grimin’s Riders. He snickered and said that some of them make a little extra money on the side by charging tolls of unsuspecting travelers. He told the party to stay at the Targe Mahal, a local inn, for the night. As they were breaking their fast in the morning, soldiers entered and informed them that Tain Markel requested a meeting at noon. In the meantime they would be escorted by a soldier if they had anything to do in town. Shortly before noon they were escorted from the inn deeper into the fort, and met with Markel in the officer’s mess. He was suspicious: a boy was kidnapped from Hillside Farm (confirming to the party what Viscoth had told them), harpies and a manticore show up in the Pass, and suddenly a group of well-armed adventurers who can handle those monsters appears in town on “unrelated business” requesting passage into the Valley. Aben Sist showed up at the meeting and, after reviewing the party’s documentation from Underrock, approved their access into the Valley despite Markel’s misgivings – they would be allowed to enter the next morning.

The evening was spent in planning. Everyone was there, since Timothy was unable to find a brothel. (He’d hoped to leave a venereal gift for Grimin’s Riders via the women there to thank them for setting up the tollbooth in the pass.) Some in the party believed that Sist was planning a setup of some sort: why make them wait until tomorrow? There was also discussion of whether or not the group should split up in its investigation, and if so then how they should split. They knew of several locations where the child they sought might be… assuming that Viscoth had kidnapped the wrong child, without the Angel’s Tear to guide him and indicate the right person. First was the village of Green Pasture, the nearest village to Valor Hold. There were two farmsteads about midway through the Valley; these were a nexus of several farms, but not quite a full village. The one along the northern valley slope was Hillside Farm, which is where the kidnapped boy lived. Finally, at the furthest end of the valley was Ridge Peak.


THE VALARIAN VALLEY


The next day, the party was met outside the interior gate by 20 members of Grimin’s Riders. They were to escort us to Thomas’ Ferry, where they were headed as well. This fed the suspicions of the party that they were being targeted, but none of the Riders appeared nervous or otherwise ready for an attack. Four more outriders joined them at the mouth of the Pass, where it widens into the Valley. The party made conversation with the Riders about their current task, and learned that the Riders were headed to Ridge Peak and that the ferry was paid for all the way there. It seemed people were a little on edge about the kidnapped child, and they were being sent to keep an eye on the eastern pass into the Terem Mountains near that village, Old Road Pass.

At Thomas’ Ferry, they met Thomas Slington, an energetic halfling who subtly presented a Titanite stone when he recognized the stones carried by the party. He launched his boat once everyone was aboard, and Gwarryn approached him in the wheelhouse for a lengthy conversation. They discussed the children in the valley of the proper age, and Slington said that he had put together a list of possible kids. There were two in Ridge Peak, seven at Green Pastures, and the boy kidnapped from Hillside Farm. Slington said that “if he was a betting man,” he thought the son of the blacksmith at Ridge Peak was a good candidate – he was strong, smart and charismatic. He also said that the children at Green Pastures had watchful eyes on them. The party adjusted their plans: they would take the ferry all the way up to Ridge Peak and work their way back towards Valor Hold. In the middle of the night, Slington briefly stopped at his home along the Fuller River and picked up a list of the children to give to Gwarryn.


RIDGE PEAK


At Ridge Peak, the detachment of Grimin’s Riders went to the eastern pass and the party went into town. Gwarryn, Corbin and Henry took the Angel’s Tear to the Blacksmith’s shop to test his son; Jason, Wraya and Timothy went to the Mayor’s house to perform the required negotiations for Underrock and make preparations to test his daughter, the other Ridge Peak child on Slington’s list. (Zaylan was skulking about, subtly keeping an eye on all of it.)

While Corbin distracted the Blacksmith with talk of weaponry, Gwarryn approached his son about mounting a gem into the hilt or pommel of his sword (which he’d borrowed from Jason). When the young man touched the Angel’s Tear, it began to shine—but not the blinding glow that we were told to expect with the prophesied child held it. While he definitely had good potential, Gwarryn should probably have taken Slington up on that bet.

Meanwhile, Jason was negotiating with the mayor and trying to stall for time while Gwarryn tested the young smith. He and the others were observing the mayor’s daughter as well; she was a pretty but incredibly timid girl. While Jason’s extensive Paladin training included the diplomatic arts, he’d never before been a merchant – he never really tended the family business. He managed to secure both an increase in quantity and a discount on the barley Underrock was buying from the farmers around Ridge Peak, whom the mayor was representing as a collective, but was less sure what to do when the mayor proposed adding some of the regional goat cheese to Underrock’s regular order. A message arrived from Gwarryn via a mouse as Jason continued to stall for time over tea and chat, claiming that the person authorized to make that sort of decision was taking care of something else and would be there soon; the note said that they would be by shortly, which meant the young blacksmith was not the one. This mouse spooked the mayor’s daughter and she dropped a teacup in her haste to climb a chair to get away from it; she was clearly not the one, but they would test her with the stone anyway. As Timothy mended the teacup, Gwarryn arrived. He gave the Angel’s Tear to Wraya to take into the kitchen and test the girl, and concluded negotiations with the mayor.
The stone didn’t even flicker.

As the negotiations concluded, there was a commotion outside: horsemen rode into town from the pass. A few of Grimin’s Riders had come back to town: goblins had attacked the pass, and they had the kidnapped child with them! Gwarryn was enlarged by one of Timothy’s spells and silenced the crowd’s rumblings; they would prepare to defend the town, while the newcomers would go to the pass and help. The townsfolk lit an emergency signal at the ferry dock, which would alert the men at Valor Hold to trouble in the village, and readied their steel.

At the Old Road Pass, night was falling as the party helped the Riders finish off the goblins that were somehow holding the road, preventing the Riders from pursuing the child. There they learned from the division leader that the child was being held by hobgoblins bearing the mark of the Legion, which they now knew very well. They learned that the hobgoblins went up the pass towards an ancient Dwarven fortress.

The leader of this band of Riders said that they could find some help from one of the trackers in the Riders who was familiar with the pass and could guide them to tunnels underneath the fortress. Corbin insisted that they should leave immediately, they needed to stay on the trail of the hobgoblins. The Rider said the pass was treacherous and it would be wiser to wait until morning. Jason agreed, and Corbin spat that the plan – and the paladin – was cowardly but he was overruled. The party began to make preparations that evening to storm the castle…

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The Fortress of 101 Hobgoblins

INTO THE FORTRESS


The party surveyed the situation as they girded for battle. They were outnumbered over fourteen-fold by the hobgoblins alone, and said hobgoblins were entrenched in an ancient dwarven fortress. Needless to say, things looked grim. Still, they had no choice: Viscoth’s hired crew had kidnapped one of the youths that could be the child for whom they were searching, and he had to be rescued. Viscoth could not be allowed to get his hands on the destined one.

A frontal assault was out of the question – they would be slaughtered. Fortunately, they had a knowledgeable guide: a scout in Grimin’s Riders knew of tunnels that would lead them into the bowels of the fortress, and from there they could ascend and deal with the hobgoblins in smaller numbers than their full army. This was the approach they chose.


CINDRTHRIL’S DEPTHS


They entered a tunnel system 3 hours up the mountain path and swam under a rock barrier to reach an entrance to underfortress. They cut their way through several rooms and hallways of hobgoblins and their goblin lackeys, climbing ever upwards and slowly but steadily whittling away at the army they knew lay before them…


THE ABSENCE OF PLUMBERS


Soon they reached a large multitiered ramp, wide enough for two men abreast. Could this have been a path leading from the fortress down to the stores deeper in the mountain? The party didn’t have much time to contemplate the possibility, because barreling down the ramp came two… flaming barrels? As the party climbed the winding ramp, killing more hobgoblins and goblins, they heard from above a thundering roar and more barrels crashing their way. Some of the barrels exploded when they crashed into someone, and some were stuffed full of goblins – most died on their careening, bumpy ride, but a few were well-padded by their comrades’ corpses and survived to harass the unlucky adventurer who couldn’t avoid their path. The barrels came faster and faster as the party climbed, separated by ill fortune with barrels and armor encumbrance. When they reached the top they were greeted by a giant hairy ape, who roared and retreated up another ramp. Fighting fire with fire, Timothy enlarged Corbin, who went toe-to-toe with the beast and took it down.

The party, now all at the top of the ramp, paused a moment to catch their breath – but not too long. They were deep into enemy territory. They set off through the corridors once more, cutting down the goblinoids in their path, and sending a few screaming into a chasm as they overcame one of the fortress’s natural defenses. They climbed a tall ladder, now on the main floor of the fortress, and faced down a group of goblins and hobgoblins. In the melee, one of the goblins managed to light a large explosive near a pillar. As it came down – and the ceiling with it – the party ran forward… only to found themselves:


OUTNUMBERED, OUTGUNNED, AND CORNERED


As the dust from the crashing passage cleared, the party found themselves in a corner of the fortress’s main courtyard, surrounded by the remaining dozens and dozens of hobgoblins in this century of the Legion. Certain they were staring down their own impending demise, the heroes nonetheless gritted their teeth and stood side-by-side, their backs to the corner; if they were facing death, they would face it on their feet in an effort to rescue the kidnapped youth, and bring down as many hobgoblins as they could with them.

Directly across the courtyard from the collapsed passage was a half-dozen hobgoblin cavaliers riding ankhegs. Several decades of hobgoblin legionnaires and archers were arrayed in the courtyard. Atop each of three archer towers in the center of the courtyard was a wizard, a shaman, and an archer. Behind the towers were two catapults. Beyond all of this rose the fortress and the mountain, a winding ramp leading into the fortress. A scorpion was set up on the ramp at each end of the courtyard, high above, with firing teams taking aim. These artillery pieces fired heavy armor-piercing bolts which could stick into and slow down their targets. And somewhere, watching, was Grumush…

A pack of goblin dogs rushed in to harry the party as the cavalry charged, and Timothy enlarged Jason to meet them. Jason also donned the Angel’s Tear as a pendant, hoping to both draw fire from his comrades and tap into any additional divine favor it might offer – they would need every advantage they could get. While the lances of the ankheg-mounted hobgoblins bit deep, Jason, Corbin and Henry were able to unseat and slay the cavalry. The scorpions had opened fire and were tearing into Jason, the largest and most inviting target, who gritted his teeth and refused to be slowed by their weight.

With the cavalry down, the legionnaires advanced – and the heroes rushed in to meet them. Most of the decades were swordsmen, but there was a decade of archers in the back that continually peppered Jason with arrows. The party split: Zaylan and Gwarryn, who had taken the shape of a large cat, climbed atop the archer towers to stop the mages and shamans, while everybody else split up to kill the legionnaires as quickly as possible. Wraya was hard-pressed to handle the wounds of this pitched battle, as both she and Jason began expending their divinely-granted healing power. Timothy had cast nearly every spell he had prepared, and was swinging his short staff. Henry, Corbin and Jason split to divide the attention of each decade.

Slowly, the forces arrayed against the party fell… but they all exacted their toll in blood. Every member of the party was heavily wounded, and healing magic was in short supply. As the last of the hobgoblins in the courtyard fell – save one, who was offered mercy by Corbin if he surrendered – and the party took cover from the scorpions behind the archer towers, drumbeats began to ring out from the fortress above: now that the heroes had been softened up and expended nearly all of their power, Grumush and his personal guard, the elite members of this century, were entering the arena.


GRUMUSH


Gravely injured, pinned down by the scorpions, and without almost any spells or other powers available to them, the party was in a pretty bad spot as about 30 hobgoblins marched out of the fortress. They had to plan, and find the best way to defeat Grumush with their limited resources. While taking stock of their situation they caught a stroke of luck: one of the scorpions jammed. Still, the drums of Grumush’s march down the thankfully long and winding ramp were beating ever closer…

Timothy, who had already cast every spell he had memorized, had perhaps one trick left up his sleeve. However, he needed the Tear, which meant he needed Jason’s trust – no small thing after his apparent eager bargaining with Viscoth in Valor Pass. Still, he had to try, and he presented to Jason the scroll he had written that would be the center of his plan: shocking grasp. Jason grasped the plan, so to speak, and with Apollo’s gift of vision he was able to ascertain that Timothy was not evil. Knowing that at desperate times sometimes desperate actions must be taken, he entrusted Timothy with the Tear… though he said that he would stay near him and reclaim it after the plan was executed. As Jason gave the wizard the Tear, Wraya looked on in rage…

Timothy read his scroll, stood up and shouted to Grumush as his company came down the mountain face: “YOU CAN HAVE THE TEAR! WE’RE DONE! JUST ONE REQUEST: COME ON DOWN HERE AND LET ME SHAKE YOUR HAND!”

Unfortunately, Grumush’s reaction to this was exactly the opposite of what Timothy and Jason had hoped: he ordered two decades of his men to march at double time, and he and his elite guard lept from the ramp, floating slowly to the courtyard floor!

With the plan a bust and his spell still charged on one hand, Timothy gave the Tear back to Jason, who again donned it. The party prepared for one last stand. As the two groups closed in to do battle, the heroes learned they were not alone: their guide had commandeered a ballista on the wall and fired it at the ramp as the marching hobgoblins passed the remaining scorpion! The ramp crumbled and those hobgoblins would be no more trouble.

Grumush had surrounded himself with warriors and several spellcasters, all of whom were maintaining enhancement spells on the mighty centurion. Corbin and Jason, who called upon Apollo to aid him against this foe, engaged Grumush while the rest of the party began to take out his support. While everyone was locked in melee, a stealthy hobgoblin who had escaped from the battle at the ruins of Lodrin crept in and stole the Tear right from around Jason’s neck – despite it being over 10 feet off the ground due to the enlarge effect!

Even with some of his shamanic support gone, Grumush was too great a threat to ignore: with everyone in the party grievously wounded, he knocked Gwarryn unconscious. As Wraya used her healing gift to stabilize his wounds, the cocky thief attempted to backstab Jason with a poisoned knife.

Though Grumush dealt out deadly blows, the combined force of the whole party soon staggered him, and he fell. With him dead, Jason turned to the thief, weapon ready, and demanded the Angel’s Tear. The hobgoblin, surrounded, dropped his weapon and gave the tear to Jason. Unwilling to kill an unarmed foe, and indeed weary of bloodshed – as well as weary from bloodshed; his armor was riddled with slashes and arrow holes – he began the long journey up the ramp into the fortress to find the captive. The thief took this opportunity to run away more quickly than anyone in the party could follow.

At the top of the ramp was the Rider who had guided them up the mountain and fired the ballista at the hobgoblins on the ramp. He was cutting the ropes that bound the captured young man. Seeing that he was safe, Jason touched the Tear to his forehead…
...but the stone did not react.

Though happy that they were able to save the youth, Jason was crestfallen that he was not the destined one. He noticed the slight look of disappointment on the paladin’s face and smiled: “You must be looking for my sister.”


FALLOUT


It was at this time that Wraya reached the room. She accused Jason – to whom she referred only as “Paladin” – of being careless with the divine gift of the Angel’s Tear by giving it to the wizard, and blamed him for its near-theft by the hobgoblin. Despite Jason’s protests that he trusted Timothy and his plan and insistence that the thief would have managed to get the stone from anyone if he’d pulled it from his neck at that height, she reiterated that she did not think the Tear was safe with him and would not budge: she swore an oath that if he gave Timothy the Tear she would demand to be the one to carry it. Jason, bewildered by her lack of trust in the traveling companions they’d grown to know and unable to guess on what plane that kind of vow made sense, refused. The two decided to pray to Apollo for guidance, and in their prayer both felt that Henry would keep the Tear safe.

Still, the damage was done, and despite having won the day it was under that cloud of mistrust that the sore and bloodied party staggered down the mountain to Ridge Peak…

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Destinies Discovered

TO HILLSIDE FARM


After coming down from Cindrthril to Ridge Peak, the party recuperated while waiting for the ferry. After it arrived, the party and the rescued boy rode it a day to Thomas’ home. Corbin and Drust stayed behind: Corbin to help Thomas with ferry repairs and maintenance, and Drust so that he wouldn’t scare the livestock at Hillside Farm. Everyone else rode north to the farmstead.

After a tearful reunion with his family, Nerick took the party to where he knew his sister Ariella would be: a cave a few hours’ walk north. She spent much of her time there, he explained on the walk. He said everybody there knew she was special, and he said he knew he would have to keep an eye on her and help keep her safe.


A SHINING HOPE


They reached the cave to find her inside, deep in prayer at a plain stone altar. Rousing her, the party gave her the Angel’s Tear—which shone with a blinding light that coalesced into a pendant. This was proof: Ariella was the Destined One.


...AMIDST GATHERING DARKNESS


While the party promised to explain what it all meant as they walked back to Hillside, any chance to explain was cut short as soon as they exited the cave, as Viscoth was waiting for them. He sought to woo Ariella to join him: “I will make you an Empress,” he said, promising riches and power; “these people only want to use you.” As he skillfully wove partial truths of the Titanites’ plans and intentions while promising nobility and untold wealth, the party realized something: Ariella’s choice of destiny had to be made with free will. They called Viscoth on his half-truths and requested time to explain their own offer to her. This seemed to amuse Viscoth, who assented to return on the morrow for her final decision.


A CHOICE


Ariella’s head was swimming; she was near to shock after this whirlwind of major happenings. She walked back to the farmstead alongside Nerick, who worked to calm her. Upon their return, she and Nerick went home while everyone else prepared for a feast to celebrate Nerick’s safe return. During this time the party surveyed the perimeter for threats, and Wraya had a discussion with Ariella’s great-uncle Jake. He was an extremely old man, both wizened and grizzled, who drank directly from a jug of incredibly potent moonshine. He seemed to know something of Ariella’s fate, and said that she had to leave the valley as soon as possible. After their talk he left the village on foot… curiously, humming “Waltzing Matilda” as he walked away.

After the communal dinner, Jason asked Ariella if they could talk. She had begun to process the earlier shocks. He explained what the Angel’s Tear was, and about the Ages of Prosperity... and that she had the power to bring one about, if she chose. “I can’t promise you an empire or riches… and I can’t promise you that there aren’t people in our Society who won’t try to use you, as Viscoth said. I can’t promise you that the road ahead will be safe, or short. But I can promise that we are working to build a better tomorrow. I can sense that you’re a good person. I felt that in the cave. I have faith that you will make the right decision.”

Ariella wanted to pray on the choice, and Jason asked if he could join her. Rounding up the party to keep an eye on them from a discreet distance, the two went to an old willow tree just outside of the farmstead. This tree exuded an aura of peace, and both Ariella and Jason knelt and prayed. Hours passed, until finally at approximately 1am she stood, ready to go home for the night.

Sleeping in shifts in a guest bunkhouse, every member of the party was awake and ready by mid-morning. As Ariella joined them, Jason asked her if the night had helped clarify things, and if she had made her choice. Viscoth took this opportunity to appear: “Yes… Have you chosen?”

“I… don’t want an empire, or money. So yes, I have chosen. I will stay with them.”


DEMONIC RAGE


Viscoth grew visibly enraged, the first display the party had seen of any emotion but “smug superiority.” “So be it!” he snapped, then muttered an incantation and disappeared. The air filled with brimstone as a fiery rift opened in the center of the farmstead, from which emerged a Vrock and two Babau.

The villagers scattered as the party closed in to engage. As the yawning maw of the rift came together once more, the demons summoned more Babau to join them. Jason stepped up to challenge the Vrock, while Henry, Wraya, and the others spread out to keep the Babau away from Nerick and Ariella. As the fight ensued, most of the party found that their weapons, even enchanted as they were, could not harm the Evil creatures. Ariella closed a hand around the Angel’s Tear and prayed, and the party felt themselves infused with holy energy that would give their blows strength to penetrate the demonic defenses. As the summoned Babau began to close on Ariella and Nerick, Timothy tried a desperate move and successfully dispelled the summoning incantation, sending them back to the Abyss. The other fighters sent the remaining demons screaming back home in a more old-fashioned manner as Zaylan crept up behind the Vrock, striking at its vitals while it focused on Jason, who would in turn drive his hammer home when the Vrock’s attention turned away.


A NEW JOURNEY


The urgency of the situation now dawning upon her, Ariella packed her bags and said her farewells to her family. Nerick insisted upon traveling with the party as well.

They rode south, back to Thomas’ ferry, to find that he, Corbin and Drust had been busy as well. The bodies of ogres and goblins were piled high. They had come up the river on a raft, but were stopped in their tracks here. Unfortunately, the ferry had been damaged in the attempt, so Thomas had to finish repairing it. He recommended disembarking in Green Pasture and meeting Rorik Steelsunderer at The Ancient Mug. The party got a good nights’ sleep as Thomas’ father kept watch outside; he set up an emplacement for a crossbow as large as he was, and vowed they would be safe. Since the party had seen this crossbow’s wrist-thick bolts embedded into rock, they could believe they would be – or at least that they would be awakened by a ruckus if anything should happen.

After an uneventful night, they set off for Green Pastures. When they arrived at the end of the day, Corbin stayed on the ferry with Norgrid while everybody else went to the Ancient Mug. They shared the good news with Rorik that the kidnapped boy had been saved, and shared his fine dwarven ale. Nerick tried to keep pace on drinks with Henry, but found himself on his back while the evening was just getting started. Rorik, recognizing their titanite stones, allowed them to stay after close for further discussion. The party was understandably sensitive about the potential for ambushes both in Valor Pass and at Lodrin Village, and sought knowledge of another way out of the valley. Rorik said he’d heard of an old Dwarven tunnel to the north; it passed through the mountains and exited near the Burning Light of Apollo Temple. There, they could cross the old dwarven aqueducts that spanned the Jesibil River. They thanked him for the advice, though Wraya was a bit reluctant to travel back, and lodging for the night.

The next morning, Timothy and Nerick took Norgrid outside of town for an ostensible scouting mission. Once away from the city, Timothy sent Norgrid ahead to scout and exhorted Nerick to kill him: he was a hobgoblin, nothing but a threat. Nerick uncomfortably declined; he was unwilling to shoot him unarmed, and went back to the city. Timothy ended Norgrid’s life with a scorching ray. When he returned to the rest of the party, he said that Norgrid had run as soon as he had the opportunity. ...Not everyone believed him.


THE SILENT TUNNEL


Everyone journeyed north; they arrived at the tunnel at sunset. The entrance was sealed with a heavy stone door. It radiated divine magic, and no amount of force could budge it. Under examination with true seeing, which Gwarryn cast from a scroll, dwarven runes appeared: “Only those blessed in Moridin’s way may enter.” Timothy pulled out a flask of whiskey and his jeweler’s hammer – similar to a smith’s hammer, of course – and sipped from the flask as he tapped the door with the hammer. It slowly rumbled open. The party set up camp just inside the door, which closed back up after a half hour.

After a night of sleep, the party walked down the tunnel. Small sealed stone tombs lined the walls, 3 paces apart; on each was inscribed in dwarven its occupant’s name and a brief history. After a full day of travel they reached a chamber with short stone beds, and passed another night somewhat uncomfortably. Halfway through the next day’s walk, the tombs ended. Around what felt like mid-afternoon, they came upon a body in the open in a niche where a tomb would go. There was archaic dwarven writing etched into the wall: this was an architect or engineer of some sort, and the only other phrase that could be made out was a reference to the “end of an age,” “end of an era,” or perhaps “end of an empire.”

After another half hour, the party came to another magically-sealed door. Timothy’s whiskey and hammer did not open this one, and Gwarryn’s last scroll of true seeing did not reveal any clues on this side of the door. He and Henry quickly traveled back to the body… and found further glowing script here.

According to the runes here, this dwarf was Morin Underthane. He was a king and an architect of renown, and he presided over the downfall of the dwarven kingdom. He saw the withering of his society through corruption and greed; he believed there was some sort of outside influence. During a series of battles, Underthane realized what was going on and attempted to stop their development projects and pull the society back together. (Cindrthril was one of these projects.) When this failed, he exiled himself because he believed it was his own failure, and left to die among the oldest ancestors. He hoped he would be sealed away until a better time.

When Henry lifted the magical pick next to his body, the bones and armor crumbled into dust, and the runes faded away except one word: “Hope.” There was a box next to where the body was, and inside was two rings, a crown, a brooch, and an amulet. After some discussion – would he want them to use these to bring about that better world for which he hoped? – Henry and Gwarryn took both the pick and the box back to the door.

They tried “Hope” as a keyword and the door did indeed open. While the door opened on a dreary evening, they could see a beacon of light blazing in the distance: the Burning Light of Apollo Temple. It was still three days off, so the party camped inside the door for the night. The pick was discovered to be known as the Pick of the Dwarven Kings: in addition to being a mighty weapon, it also recounts – and records – the history of the dwarves. The next morning they set off, and traveled three uneventful days.


THE BURNING LIGHT FLICKERS


They arrived at the stone pipes of the aqueduct; the Pick said this place was a reservoir to turn something into lush farmland. Below was the Sun and Water Shrine. They crossed the aqueduct, and as they approached the temple Wraya was recognized by one of the priests in the Garden. He welcomed her back and invited her and Jason to High Sun services; acolytes would tend to their friends and show them around the Gardens and the Shrine.

Wraya and Jason cleaned up and went to High Sun service. At High Sun, the sunlight came down through the Offering Lens, which focuses the light into a strong beam; in most temples, this is used to burn incense or other offerings upon the altar, but at this Temple a line is formed and everyone bares their chest and stands under the beam, burning their chest. One’s ability to tolerate this pain is considered a measure of their faith. The High Priestess Sol Serine stood underneath the beam for 10 minutes. Most priestesses managed a few minutes; Wraya stood underneath for 9 minutes before voluntarily stepping out. Jason, shocked by this display, managed only 30 seconds. This didn’t seem to him to fit the profile of a god of healing…

Visiting some of her friends around the temple and arranging for horses in the morning, Wraya noticed that all of the Poseidonites were gone… and there were no men anywhere, either. She heard that many people had been sent out on distant missions, just like she had. She didn’t see any other pilgrims, either. All told, there was a lot that just didn’t add up…

After the sun fell, any pretensions at holiness left the temple grounds. Jason and Wraya, sensitive to the divine, noticed immediately that this no longer felt like a temple to Apollo. The party, in discussion in the pilgims’ quarters, decided it was time to collect their horses early and leave. Quickly.

They packed up their gear and exited the pilgrims’ quarters at sundown…
...to find Sol Serine and several women standing outside waiting.


RETRIBUTION


Sol Serine accused the party of disrespecting their hospitality and swore they would face justice – at which point both Wraya and Jason recognized that she was truly a priestess of the Cult of Erinyes. “You could have been one of us!” she screeched at Wraya. “You enjoy the High Sun ceremonies, and delivering swift and deadly justice! But you are too blinded by your light to see!”

The party moved forward to engage the priestesses and fighters, urging Nerick and Ariella to stay back in the pilgrims’ bunkhouse. As they advanced and began to cross weapons with the forward line of fighters, Sol Serine, clad in a thoroughly evil and twisted armor, was receiving buffs from her attendant priestesses. Though slowed slightly by a few hold person spells from the priestesses, the party cut down the front row of cultists: Corbin swept their legs out with his flail, and Henry used the mighty Pick of the Dwarven Kings to end their lives. Through all of this, Wraya’s eyes never left her desired foe.

As the party closed on her, Sol Serine threw some sort of device towards the door of the pilgrims’ quarters and readied herself for battle. Lashing out with her mace and the claws of her armor, her blows strengthened by the spells of her comrades, she was a one-woman wrecking crew who stood toe-to-toe with Wraya, Jason and Henry. She channeled her dark power into mighty crushing strikes, and with every blow she landed, her wounds closed. As they tried to reduce Sol Serine’s reserves, Zaylan, Gwarryn (who had shifted into the form of a bear) and Corbin slew the priestesses that accompanied her, and Timothy moved back to examine the device she had thrown.

As the priestesses fell before Corbin’s flail, Zaylan’s swords, and Gwarryn’s bear hands, Sol Serine was the last of her band remaining… but she was no less formidable for that. Even surrounded, she was barely slowing down. The claws of her armor inflicted some sort of pestilence in Wraya as they ripped into her, which Jason was able to cure with the power of Apollo. Soon they heard a shout from Timothy, who had discovered the purpose of the device that the high priestess had thrown—when it burst open a portal to the demiplane of retribution, and a grasping tentacle had wrapped around Ariella’s waist as she stood in the doorframe!


ONE LIGHT SNUFFED


At this, Corbin and Gwarryn broke from the battle with Sol Serine and began sprinting back towards the pilgrims’ quarters. While Nerrick grabbed her arms and futilely tried to pull her back, Corbin wrapped his arms around her and strained against the pull of the tentacles. With the help of Gwarryn’s shapechange-infused strength, they managed to slow the terrified Ariella’s inexorable draw toward the portal’s maw. While the four struggled against the tentacle, Timothy began to examine the portal to determine how to close it.

Sol Serine continued her grim assault on the warriors around her, but the combined Apollonian healing magic of Wraya and Jason was enough to keep them on their feet. Although Sol Serine’s wounds closed with every strike of her mace, she had exhausted her profane channeling powers and her vile healing could not keep pace with the damage dealt by Henry and the two Apollonians. As her cultists’ enhancement spells fell, so did she.

Wraya could not exult long in her long-awaited victory, however: though the high priestess was dead, the dire threat posed by the portal remained. Timothy continued to study the gate for a way to close it, but the tentacle was slowly and steadily dragging Ariella and the cluster of bodies around her, despite their best efforts. As the others began running towards the portal, Gwarryn was beginning to draw close enough to the gate that the negative energy pouring from it began to singe his fur and blister his back.

Timothy realized that because of the device used… the portal would be impossible to close from this side. Furthermore, no amount of physical strength brought to bear against that tentacle would be enough to keep Ariella away from it. He gathered his courage and leaped through the gate, and as the raw magical force of the plane of retribution wracked him, the last view everyone had was him weaving a magic circle that contained the rift from the other side, cutting it off from the material plane… sealing himself there as well.


RAGE, RAGE…


Corbin was… stunned. He and Timothy had grown close during their nights keeping watch together. He stalked away into the church, desperate for someone on whom to take out his rage.



Outline only beyond this point:

Jason follows Corbin, they end up in the dungeons under the temple, where some of the Apollonians and Poseidonites were kept. Jason recognizes some, and stays to free and try to heal some of them. Corbin leaves and goes to the the chapel, but is barred from it by one of the priestesses who has shut herself inside. He grabs a large brazier and begins carrying it toward the Gardens. Jason hears the commotion and follows, confronting him. They argue: “YOUR WEAK GOD LET THIS HAPPEN!” Jason refuses to allow Corbin to destroy the Gardens.

The next morning, in thanks, the freed priests offered the party the Ritual of the Shrine. At sunrise the first light hit the crystal orb and a beam of light passed across all the party members - though it skipped Corbin - giving them a blessing of light. The Poseidonites conjured horses of water and the Apollonians a chariot of light, offering the group transport to the nearest major city so they could be on their way.

They arrived at the Great Temple of Apollo in Hancher, to find Phalyn waiting for them. He didn’t expect them for another month, and was surprised it was Timothy who had sacrificed himself, he thought it would be Jason or Wraya. (He had a book of prophecy that had foretold the cleansing of the temple and someone’s sacrifice.) He said Viscoth was the last Destined One, who had gone into the East but rumor said had been turned into a vampire. He offered a few options for the party’s next task: find a sword from the heavens, a lost temple that would serve as a seat of power and a holy focus for the hero, or kill a local nobleman (Wladimir deVries) who had been said to be consorting with demons. He said the elves might have legends or records that would help track down the sword or temple.

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The Downfall of Wladimir deVries

Rough draft from my notes, to be fleshed out and written later.

Contact will meet us at The Locker: tall man, striking red hair
The Locker’s next to a skin coloring place made out of an old ship: Ex-Trireme Tattoos
Inside the locker, they see a tall man with shoulder-length red hair and a goatee. Finely-dressed, rapier, cloak, nice hat.
Introductions
Redcliffe family – renowned horses
Back room of the Locker
Zaylan’s name came up in discussion – “Hey, I know that name”
Wlad bought his way onto the Assembly a while back. Ruthless. Last time someone questioned, ~30 ended up head-staked in front of the castle. Holds his position through money and fear. Nobody knows where the money comes from, but there are rumors…
Kellin offers lodgings at the Redcliffe estate – accepted
Corbin heads out of the room and sees an elf, who notices his Titanite
Elf trying too hard to pass for human, a piece of titanite set into a ring – waiting for the back room to open up
Hands Corbin a scroll tube
6 monetary writs, 2k gold each
Corbin grabs 2, unnoticed in the smoky room
Everyone else pulls one
Redcliffe Manor: meal
Wraya brews potions, Jason talks to Nerick and reads the book of prophecy, everyone else drinking and talking
Nerick drinks a bit and goes to bed

Half-day’s ride
Message from Zaylan – appreciates looking after his companions, but has to do some things Discussion about killing Wlad. Kellin says it’s personal, he and Zaylan will be fighting over who gets to kill him. Wraya offers to heal Wlad so they BOTH can kill him. Jason takes a ride to pray for guidance, disgusted at the discussion—vengeance, not justice.
Afternoon in town for most
Writ comes for Kellin
Head of the Trader’s Guild – Richard – was found guilty of conspiring against the council, sentenced to hang in 2 days
Kellin knows he’s straight-up, not conspiring against anybody – need to rescue him
Kellin looks into it: constabulary wouldn’t arrest him because they couldn’t prove anything, so he’s being held in the old Slate estate, a former noble family that was supposed to be “in league to overthrow the Assembly” and butchered to the man about 6-7 years ago
Scouting elf: front, back, kitchen doors. None are visible to each other. Balcony on third floor, four guards with mail coats and crossbows. Four guards at front, two at back, one at kitchen. Guards by stables, roving mounted patrol. Maybe a half-dozen inside. Didn’t see Richard on the top floor, but there’s an entrance to the cellar in the kitchen. Lawn is flat field; hedge and gate. Kellin recognizes the sketched livery: wealthy house, said they made their money in piracy and bought their way in. Cutthroats. When this estate was taken, they butchered with smiles on their faces.

Assault on the house
Climb over the wall, but noticed and a signal flare goes up
The men in the guard uniforms were street urchins dressed up and given weapons
Real guards were hiding inside the stablehouse: Pirates and more traditional armsmen
As they fell, the last two ran but were captured
Tie up a sellsword and knock him unconscious
Fight over letting the pressganged urchins go
Collect Richard – enchanted in stasis, left alone in the house

Enchantment on Richard dispelled; he starts to wake up
Hanging the next morning, Jason goes to see who they hang: the sellsword… and Richard’s family

Zaylan and Jason talk about Kellin – they know something’s up and he’s faking knowing anything about the Titanite Society, but since his story about his fiancee’s death checks out, his motivations are pretty clear, so they decide to play along. He thinks he’s using the party, but they know they need him too – he has contacts in the region, and they all want the same thing.

Wlad’s party:
Kellin + Wraya (date), Jason bodyguard
Eadric (posing as Elven ambassador who doesn’t speak common), Henry bodyguard
Zaylan enters – dead silence

Jason and Henry sent out between the outer & inner walls
Young noblewoman tries to get herself insinuated as Eadric’s date, he works her out to a balcony and tries to Charm Person her – she makes the save, he passes it off as a kiss
Kellin + Wraya posing as young lovers
Wlad approaches Zaylan – “So you’re back” “I figured out I was on a bad path” “Bad paths end at the worst places” “That’s why I was getting myself off it” “I may have a… job for you”
Jason notices that ~60 of the servants outside aren’t really servants – they’re fighting men in disguise. Total 400-500 servants. One or two in each retinue – not in a group
Kellin + Wraya go out in the garden “for some fresh air” – Wraya sees assassins creeping in with blackened swords

Clock tower chimes 11pm, and all of the fighting servants start moving to the carriages
Jason bluffs – knucklecrack & nods at one of the “servants,” gets a headnod back
Hear death gurgles from the area, sees men in armor moving with military precision

Kellin talks to his dad, tells him to get out – “what, you think I’m going to let them do this alone? Get your big brother out of here”
Kellin in bathroom – “Two words, who’s your target?” “Who else?”
Get in to him before his mages are able to seal the sanctum. North tower

Jason and Henry – 7 or 8 people scaling the wall, a few other adventurer-types

Crossbowmen scale the balcony and take out the guards – Wraya and Henry cover Corbin
Vlad bolts to the back

Eadric flies off to harry and slow the mages sealing the sanctum

Rest of the party works their way down the long hallway, killing each of Wlad’s sons (whom he’s left with guards) as they pass
Kellen collected the scalps of each of the sons
Party reaches the north tower sanctum and stop the magi sealing the door
Inside, Wlad was at the back of the room with his remaining sons. A large calling circle was in the center of the floor, with four summoning circles around it. Animated statues began walking towards the party, and as the party passed them and the summoning circles, he summoned devils. From the large calling circle he brought forth a large bone devil.
Party splits up, some on the large devil and some against Wlad and his sons and guards at the back
After the devil was sent back to hell, the party reformed to deal with the humans
Wlad distracted Kellen with an illusion of his dead fiancee
Killed Wlad’s last remaining sons, but he flew into the air, out of the range of anything the party could do—but he could fire spells down at them
Kellen pulled out the bag of scalps and dumped them out, taunting Wlad
Wlad descended, viciously felling Kellen with vampiric touch – but coming within range of Henry, who was able to grab hold
The rest of the party pummels him, and Zaylan puts his rapier through his heart

Kellen was on the wrong side of death’s door on the floor, but in desperation Jason pumped him full of divine energy and through the grace of Apollo managed to bring him back, though he was in bad, bad shape.

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Embassy to Rolandstahd

Again, just a rough draft from my notes, to be fleshed out and fully written later.

The exhausted party is relieved in guarding Wlad’s north tower by a group of soldiers, but they were not allowed to leave the grounds. In the large hall where the ball was, the lords of Hancher have set up a council to determine the next regent. After much discussion (read: bickering and politicking) a minor lord from north Hancher, along the lake, stood up and claimed to be the most qualified because he was the most independent, as he didn’t owe any favors to anybody. He ultimately claimed the regency by the “will of the people,” asking the sole man in the room whom he identified as “of the people”: Corbin. When the other lords objected, he split the large table in half with a single strike from the point of a dagger. The battered party was given leave to return to Redcliffe Manor to recover. After all, they had to be whole and able to properly enjoy the parade and celebrations that would be held in their honor.

After a few days of recovery, they were awarded medals of honor for their service to the people of Hancher. Much revelry ensued, most of which will never be remembered by those that partook of it. Each member of the party was awakened the following morning with a message requesting their attendance at a meeting of the council of lords the following evening.

As they waited in the antechamber to be admitted to the council room, Jason revealed that they knew that Kellen was not a member of their Society... but despite what the paladin thought was an obvious need for cautious tongues, Eadric gave away the group’s name.

Before they could discuss further, they were ushered into the council chamber. Rolandstahd had sent a request for help sometime in the last year of Wlad’s reign, but the despot had hidden this request and never answered it. Damon vowed to send help in the form of wood, a much-needed commodity in Rolandstahd, and a diplomatic envoy. For this purpose, he proposed the decorated… Kellen Redcliffe. Steamrolling Kellen’s objections, he continued, declaring that he was going to begin raising an army to “bring peace to the nearby countryside.”

With this shocking pronouncement, he adjourned the meeting and summoned Kellen and the party to his private office, where he revealed himself as an operative of the Titanite Society. Jason was incredulous that they were discussing matters like that with someone who was not a member of the society, and Damon directed him to a specific section of the book of prophecy:

“The crimson bluff shall crumble, but be rebuilt in the light as a foundation of the Hero’s destiny.”

Damon gave the confused Kellen a necklace with a titanite stone and requested that the party travel to Rolandstahd, acclimate Kellen to the Society’s workings, see what was wrong in the city—and help, if they could. They agreed, as they were planning to travel north through Rolandstahd anyways, to a library in the Northern Elven Woods. A caravan would take them north to his holdings the next day, and from there they would travel north by boat to Rolandstahd. Jason lagged behind after the meeting and showed Damon the Dwarven crown, noting that if the Society is looking to build a wide base of nations to support the Hero in her destiny, it might be good to keep an eye out for any dwarves worthy of the crown. Damon didn’t know of any, but Jason wanted to make sure somebody in the Society outside their party was aware of the possibilities.

On the ride to Damon’s docks they tried to explain about the Society, but Kellen wouldn’t hear any of it. He was thankful for their help in killing Wlad, but he had no interest in anything but returning to Hancher and going back to his life. When they reached Damon’s land they found he’d significantly expanded his shipbuilding capabilities: he had 20 drydocks. Six barges were loaded with lumber for Rolandstahd, and a caravel was ready for the embassy as well. It would be a five day trip across the lake to Rolandstahd, and the party traveled in style. Instead of a large hold, the caravel was set up with luxury guest suites.

About a half-day out of port, Phalyn dropped in for a visit. (Notable to Kellen and most of the crew because, of course, he arrived on horseback. The rest of the party pretty much took it in stride.) He gave Kellen a familiar-looking necklace: the one he thought he inconspicuously dropped overboard at the docks. (It had caught on the anchor.) He could see he was in denial, despite the prophecy, so he gave him a more worldly reason to join. He described an old Hancherian law called the “Writ of the War of Hancher,” which was a rebellion of nobles against the council. One section says that the duties of the first son of noble families are to continue in the father’s political footsteps; the second son would join the army; the third son would join the church; and the fourth was to be conscripted in an old society. While this society was no longer a functioning entity, they had been subsumed into the Titanites… and Kellen was the fourth son. Kellen refused to believe this and headed above deck.

Phalyn told the rest of the party to meet with Eadric’s mentor in the elven lands, and he would guide them to the library where they might find information on this Sword of the Heavens and Temple of the Hero. Further, he brought some news of the troubles in Rolandstahd. It seems that some time back, a member of the royal family ate half the council. He couldn’t get much more information before he was warned by his contact to get out of town before he was discovered.

While most of the party was below with Phalyn, Kellen tried to make his escape. His family was known for their horses, of course, and Phalyn’s was a fine specimen… so he tried to ride it, but the horse wouldn’t even let him on its back. Desperate, he decided to dive into the sea and swim back to Hancher, but the horse bit the collar of his shirt just as he was about to go overboard, pulling him back on board.

Phalyn left, urging the party to be careful in Rolandstahd. Kellen tossed his necklace over the side of the boat again—but when Corbin reeled in his fishing line and it was on the hook, he dashed belowdecks and barricaded himself in his suite.

As the convoy continued north, the crew grumbled about there being more rats than usual on the ship. On the fourth day, a ship of the Royal Navy of Rolandstahd showed up on the horizon, and the crew started to look a little sick. As they began to collapse, Henry recognized the ship: it was the RRN Havoc: a warship!

Though the Havoc could be approaching to receive the diplomatic envoy, the crew being incapacitated at the same time was too coincidental for anybody to believe this was anything but an attack. Jason and Wraya recognized the illness as a dose of Jamer Leaf, which is normally used as a sedative or anesthetic. Jason and Corbin dragged the sleeping crew belowdecks, Henry dropped the anchor, and Eadric cut the sails (given his lack of nautical experience, he took the directive literally: he flew up the mast and cut the ropes, so the others pulled the canvas belowdecks with the crew). As the Havoc pulled alongside, its crew armed and ready, the party arrayed themselves at midship, with Eadric at the stern ready to level magic fire at the warship’s passengers at the first attack. Unfortunately for this diplomatic envoy, the Rolandstahdians weren’t interested in talking…

The buccaneers swung across as soon as the ships were even, followed by Rolandstahd marines; mages and the ship’s officers remained on deck. The mages, which remained on the Havoc, countered the powerful spells that Eadric and Wraya tried to fling across the gap. The party began to whittle down their foes’ overwhelming numbers, but at a cost: they were spread out across the deck of the ship, Zaylan was surrounded, and Wraya was unconscious. The unlikely pair of Corbin and Jason stayed back-to-back at midship, crushing the enemies that foolishly surrounded them. Eadric, isolated at the stern and with little in the way of combat experience or remaining spells, conjured the illusion of a demon and scared away some buccaneers around him as he scrambled overboard, climbing the hull of the boat to escape the battle. In the confusion of the melee, some buccaneers slip belowdecks and tie up the sleeping crew. As they returned, the officers swung across to finish what their men apparently could not. As soon as they landed, the hold grate burst open and the deck was swarmed by wererats and dire rats. A tall hooded officer threw back his cloak and revealed himself as a half-dragon werewolf, but despite his fearsome appearance he fell quickly to the painful dual strike of a divine smite from Jason and a deadly precise piercing by Zaylan’s rapier. Eadric climbed back up on the deck of the ship as the Havoc drifted closer, threatening to crush him, but found himself cornered by some marines and a lieutenant… and was knocked unconscious. While he was revived by a healing burst from Wraya, he was entirely out of spells, so he surrendered to the lieutenant and remained at the stern. Meanwhile, the wererats were piling on anybody they could surround, and Jason and Corbin were on the other side of a bludgeoning than they were used to, courtesy of the ship’s captain, who fought with his bare knuckles. The party, wounded to the limits of their endurance, slowly felled the invaders, and the mages ordered the Havoc to retreat for Rolandstahd.

The party freed the crew from their bounds and waited for them to awake. Wary of the wounds inflicted by the wererats due to legend, Jason, who was immune, and Eadric, who had not been hurt by the rats, tied the others to their beds that night until the Jason and Wraya could heal the infections the next day. While Kellen and Zaylan were able to hold off the effects, Wraya and Corbin were transformed into wererats… and Wraya remembered it.

The next day, their wounds healed, they sat down to think about the attack. Why did they attack the ship? Was it because it was a diplomatic envoy, or because they were members of the Titanite Society? How did Rolandstahd know about their mission? It could be that Damon was in on it, but that was unlikely. A close advisor or a council member could have alerted Rolandstahd. It was also possible that someone in Rolandstahd was scrying on them. The plan upon reaching Rolandstahd was to act as though they had not been attacked at all, and try to gauge the response and surprise of the people there. (Jason, unwilling to be a party to the deception, would be staying on the boat.)

As the convoy pulled into Rolandstahd, they saw six ships: two frigates, two ships-of-the-line, and two man-o-wars… and Zaylan saw the Havoc among them. One frigate, the RRN Lemure, approached and hailed the caravel. In port, the diplomatic envoy was received by three members of the royal family and a nervous-looking third of the council. They said that they were happy to reestablish ties with Hancher. Kellen apologized for Wlad’s failure to respond to their request for aid, and asked if there was anything they could do to help. While they said everything was fine, Zaylan thought there was something a little off. The Rolandstahdians said lodging wold be provided, but since they were unaware of the envoy’s approach, they would need time to prepare a proper welcome banquet, which would be held the next evening. Both Zaylan and Kellen get the feeling that this is a bald-faced lie, that they knew they were coming, but they stick to the plan and play along. They accept a carriage ride to their provided quarters, and Eadric follows the carriage. The others split up: Henry to visit his mentor and Corbin with him, and Wraya and Jason to the Temple of Apollo. There they both hear the same story about what happened in Rolandstahd:

About six months ago, someone new showed up in town with a seal of nobility and old proof of being a member of the royal family. He claimed he had a more pure claim to the throne than the current branch of the royal bloodline. The magi tested him and the Temple of Apollo cast their most potent divinations, and both confirmed that the newcomer’s claims were legitimate. The council sent envoys to their old allies, including Hancher, but none responded, so it was their armies against those of the royal family. Unfortunately for the council, the royal family has strong connections to dragons, and in fact the original founders of Rolandstahd were dragons. Phalyn’s story was confirmed: the newcomer turned into a green dragon in the council chambers and ate most of them. The fighting between the armies was quick and bloody, as the dragon was able to finance a hoard of mercenaries with his horde… not to mention the power that a dragon’s support can offer an army. Once his rule was secure, the new king brought in a massive influx of wealth. There were more drydocks and more ironworks than ever. Armies were being raised, and any able-bodied mercenaries found plenty of work. The people of Rolandstahd enjoyed the benefits of a prospering economy. The mage’s guild had stood with the council and lost political power as a result; the temples all took no side in the battle. Henry and Corbin learned from their Titanite contact that a decent-sized faction of the council’s navy may have escaped; they were suspected to be in the northeast portion of the lake. They used a sending spell to communicate the situation in Rolandstahd to Lord Damon back in Hancher, who directed them to continue as planned for now. And so they planned for the welcome banquet, possibly to enter into an alliance with a vicious chromatic dragon…

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