The longest winter

Murder in Harrow's Edge
A trip to the 'Free Villages' (part one)

The Party:

Daveak Swordhand (Played by Paul)
Elden Spirefield (Played by Matt)
Frank Wyvern’s Tooth (Played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore (Played by Leanne)
Marellian Ironcore (Played by Dave)
Rayne (Played by Amanda)

After receiving a note from Solien Terrie, Frank assembles the party at the Townsend Soup Kitchen.
He and the two girls tell the others that their spying on the Orcs went reasonably well, and they managed to find out that the Orc King has sent a diplomatic envoy to Flint-Harrow to discuss some kind of treaty. Marellian is met by one of the priests, who wonders why they haven’t seen him around the temple in the last week. Marellian replies that he was on a spiritual retreat (he had really been locked away in his uncle’s magic laboratory dissecting a clockwork creature). The Priest tells Marellian that he must try harder to embrace compassion, and then he wouldn’t need to keep being on retreat. Then finally he might manage to gain communion with their god, and be able to cast miracles (priest spells).

Daveak introduces his new Wolf animal companion to the party, who he has decided to call Dark Fang. The wolf promptly ‘marks his territory’ over Marellian’s robe. Marellian is suddenly glad that his new familliar is an owl, and not a cat…

As the Party is bickering, Solien Terrie enters the soup kitchen. She heads over to them, but seems distressed. Frank asks if she is all right, and she starts sobbing. When she has composed herself, she explains that the reason she asked the party to meet with her is because her brother, Tolen, is dead. She believes that he was murdered, as the ‘authorities’ in the village where he lived have refused to give her any information, other than he supposedly froze to death, and refused to let her see his corpse. She wishes to find out what has happened, and the party are the only people she knows who have any skill in investigating these things. They seem to justify this claim by bombarding her with questions regarding the facts of the case, but she is unable to give many answers, other than he had no enemies that she knew of. She tells them that she is due to take a shipment of goods to this village, called Harrow’s Edge, and would like them to come along. The general consensus is that the party would help solien, and Rayne even suggests that Tolen may in fact be alive and missing rather than dead, especially as Solien has not been allowed to see the body. This seems to cheer Solien slightly, and she tells them she will see them in three hours at her warehouse.

The party turn up at Solien’s to see a couple of carts pulled by Yaks. solien is the driver of the first cart, the second is driven by a bald man she calls Haggle. There is a seat next to each driver, and two seats facing backwards at the rear of each cart, so everybody can have a seat. Dark Fang runs alongside the cart. As they leave the Township, nobody checks to make sure they are not being followed, but then why should they?

The carts are driven north west, along the route used in years gone by to bring the coal back from the now abandoned mine. Solien seems lost in her own thoughts, and nobody attempts to make conversation. Eventually they come to a stone bridge that crosses the Meltwater river. Solien tells the party to keep an eye out for trouble, as this area is supposedly haunted by the ghosts of the dead miners. She then explains that due to this superstition, when she takes this route she is pretty sure nobody from the Township would follow her.

For some reason, the party decide that there must be a troll under the bridge, and Frank is sent out to look. Daveak explains that if there were a troll, Dark Fang would have smelled it’s foul scent and be growling, but Frank goes to look anyway. Solien drives on, possibly regretting warning a party of adventurers to look out for possible trouble, and Frank follows on foot.

Over the other side of the bridge, the trail forks, and Solien explains that the northern fork heads to the mine. Several members of the party get a feeling of being watched, and Daveak gets off the wagon to scout around. He finds tracks that he is sure were made by zombies, although they are quite old. Solien asks why the party are suddenly geared up for a fight, and they tell her they feel watched. She nods, and tells them that this area has that effect on some people, which is why it is considered to be haunted. Once again she drives off, and Daveak and Frank have to follow on foot. She takes the western fork, and the carts head out into the tundra.

Marellian is sitting up front, next to Solien, and sees her take out a small globe. She tells him that it is a ‘Homefinder compass’, and was a gift from someone called Zoastrian. She explains that all she has to do is place her hand atop the orb and think of her destination, and it will put forth a small ray of light in the direction you need to go. She demonstates, and a thin beam of light does indeed show a path. she hands it to Marellian and asks him to think of Harrow’s Edge. He does, but nothing happens. She explains that he is unable to get a trail because he has never been to Harrow’s Edge. The orb may only be used to find your way to places you have already been before.

Solien seems in a chatty mood, and tells Marellian that Zoastrian is a mage who was supposedly once a member of the Archivists guild, but was expelled some time ago (or so he told her when she asked). He often turns up in one or another of the free villages, but does not live in any of them. He seems to have some fixation about ancient races that disappeared long before Humanity arose, and it is probably this fixation that got him expelled from the guild, as he has no interest in the Lands of Summer like the others in the guild.

Daveak and Frank are alerted (maybe by Dark Fang, or possibly because they are in their element outdoors) to the fact that a hunting Frostdrake has spotted the carts, and is homing in on the Yaks. They warn the others, and the party prepare for battle. The Frostdrake is prevented from reaching the Yaks by Frank and Dark Fang, but Frank takes a couple of wounds from it’s claws. Elden charges it from the second cart, before Rayne uses her mask to drain the life from the Frostdrake, and the drake’s corpse is butchered for various parts by Daveak and Elden.

Skirting the northern outskirst of the Tundra, the carts come to a steaming river. Solien explains that this river is fed from a hot spring nearby, and freezes over downstream. The party are worried that the bridge is out, seeing only a small pile of wood and a fallen tree, but Solien explains that the tree is the marker for a hidden ford, and drives the cart across to show them. The cart appears to be held up on the water by some clear solid surface. On the other side of the river is a rocky outcrop from which a frozen waterfall is suspended. Solien drives the cart behind the icy tendrils, and through a cave into a natural canyon, in which sits Harrow’s Edge.

The carts are stopped by a local constable, who explains to the party that any weapon bigger than a dagger is to be surrendered tot he armoury, where they will be issued with a token for redemption on their departure. Swords may be worn ceremonally, provided that they are tied into their scabbards with wire to prevent their being drawn (which will be done in the armoury). Frank is not happy at giving up his great axe, but hands it over while glaring at the minion. He uses his intimidating prowess to bully the constable into getting his superior, Sergeant Bickler.

Bickler seems made of sterner stuff, and attempts to stonewall the party when they begin asking questions about Tolen’s death. Unhappy with his answers, they decide to head off to where the village’s dead are interred. Before they go, Solien tells them that she will not be going with them, as she has some tasks to do, and shows them where her house is. She asks that if they find anything, they come and tell her. She also reveals that she has arranged accomadation for them at ‘The Grizzled Veteran’, which is considered one of the better Inns in the village.

At the caves of the dead, Marellian and Rayne begin questioning a priestly official, who refuses to let them in to look at the dead in his care. He does admit that Tolen’s body is within (which puts paid to Rayne’s theory) and tells them that the body was frozen solid when found. Further questioning reveals that there have been several bodies found like this, and when the party try persuading him that this looks suspicious, he finally lets them see the body (although he doesn’t allow the wolf in with all the bones…)and leads them to it. The body has thawed, leaving Tolen unmarked by any wound.

Leaving the (mostly unhelpful) priest behind, the party decide to look around the section of the village which is described as ‘the bad section’. There they talk to a street sweeper who tells them he found a body in a similar state to that of Tolen. He desribes seeing a woman leaning over the corpse, but who ran off when he yelled, and vanished in a dead-end alley. They have been given the name of a woman called Agli, who was a witness to the most recent killing, and the street sweeper gives them directions to her abode.

Agli is a fortune teller, and tells them that Tolen was one of her clients before he died. She told him he would meet a mysterious woman, and it seems he did. Agli also tells her story of meeting the killer. She and her man friend Mocko were out walking, when a woman appeared from out of nowhere. Agli swears that she wasn’t human, as you could sort of see through her: She was terrible to behold, with wild hair, and thin as a corpse. Agli also remembers that she was wearing a gold locket. Agli admits she ran from the woman, and thought Mocko was behind her, but he had been caught.

Leaving Agli behind, the party move on to a shopkeeper called Fabindar, who found Tolen’s body. Fabindar seems proud of the celebrity he has become, and his story becomes more elaborate, informing the party of supposed places where other bodies were found, until they realise he is telling tall tales. They do get a truthful description of the woman though; Raggedy looking, with long hair and a torn dress.

Realising that they have ended up close to Solien’s house, they decide that they should inform her of the bad news. Daveak volunteers to tell her what they have found out, while the others head to the Grizzled Veteran to discuss their plans. As expected, Solien is devastated once more by the confirmation of her brother’s death after Rayne had built her hopes up he might still be alive. Daveak beats a hasty retreat to rejoin his fellows at the Grizzled Veteran.

At the Grizzled Veteran, the party talk to Marto and Filena. While discussing what they had found about the killer, several pieces jog the innkeepers’ memories. They remember serving a young woman with a golden necklace, and tell the party what they remember about her. It is a sad tale about a newly married girl who loses everything over the space of a year, and slowly slides into depression and drink. The Girl’s name was Azrea, and the necklace was a gift from her mother, who died shortly after the wedding. It was the only thing she had left and would not part with. Marto tells the party that the girl has not been seen in over a week.

As they are digesting this news, a street urchin delivers them a message: Written on a scrap of paper are the words; ‘I know who the killer is. Afraid for my life. Meet me at midnight in the old warehouse’. They sense that this message is a trap, but decide to go anyway.

Rayne and Loraella try to scout out the village armoury to find a way to get to the party’s confiscated weaponry, but find it hard to get in. Marellian solves this problem by casting charm person on a guard, and sending him in to get all the weapons for the party. So armed, they make their way to the old warehouse.

Inside the warehouse, a scruffy looking man is waiting, but he seems uneasy. As he spots the party, he backs away stuttering. Eventually his will breaks, and he blurts out; “I’m sorry, they made me do it!” and runs out of a side entrance.

From out of the shadows step a gang of ruffians. The leader tells the party that they are fed up with strangers poking their noses into other people’s business, especially as the bad area is ‘their turf’. The party attempt to find a non violent means to placate these thugs, but one of them, a sorcerer, fires an electrical ray from his fingers, and the fight begins.

This is the first time the party have faced magic during combat, and they are frustrated in their efforts to get to the two enemy spellcasters by the rest of the thugs. Eventually, their superior fighting skills win through, and one of the enemy spellcasters, a female wizard, flees. The sorcerer is killed, and the remaining thugs surrender. They tell the thugs that they will let them live if they give over all the treasure they have stolen from their victims, but the leader tells them that all the treasure goes to ‘Bickler’. Frank curses that he knew the slimy sergeant was a crook, and the party kill the thugs.

However, as the fight with the thugs was going on, a ghostly presence appeared behind Marellian. Turning, he is confronted with a wild looking woman in a torn dress. She tells him; “I’m so cold!” His first thought is to cast burning hands, thinking that would warm her up, but he thinks better of it, and his compassionate training allows him to instead offer her his robe to wear, telling her this would keep her warm. This simple act of kindness puts the restless haunt to her rest, and she fades away, leaving Marellian’s robe to fall to the floor, inside of which is a golden locket.

The party make their way back to their rooms at the Grizzled Veteran, where they make plans for dealing with the corrupt sergeant.

To be continued…..

View
The Shadow Road
(Paths of the Dead part 2)

The Party:

Daveak Swordhand (Played by Paul)
Elden Spirefield (Played by Matt)
Frank Wyvern’s Tooth (Played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore (Played by Leanne)
Marellian Ironcore (Played by Dave)
Rayne (Played by Amanda)

Daveak, Elden, Frank, Loraella and Rayne turn up at the council chamber after a council page has finally caught up with them to remind them of the councils call. There they find a sheepish looking Marellian wilting under the steady glare of Warchief Amstar. She is not happy that his stray ‘pet’ has caused so much havok in the township. With her is Councillor Kinkaid, but he lets her do all the talking.

Warchief Amstar starts out by asking if any of the party members know of a man named Pawdle Wherrit. After receiving blank looks, she explains that she is responsible for the security of the Township, and this Wherrit has been telling a tall tale that might concern security. Wherrit claims to have found a mysterious road that lead him underground from the Cracked Hills all the way to nearby the gate of the Township. If this tale is true, Amstar is concerned that enemies might use it to gain a sneak attack on the Township before they were spotted. She asks the party to investigate, and bring her their findings. She offers them a reward of 500gp each.

The Party ask where they might find this Wherrit, and are told that he was a member of the prospectors guild, so they might find answers there. While answering their queries, Councillor Kinkaid reveals that he has spoken with the Ranger, Wandel Windrider, who told him that the party were not trustworthy, and that Wandel was setting up his own adventuring party who would be available for work. Loraella tries to pin the blame on Elden, but the party are not convinced. She tries explaining it was meant as a joke, but Daveak reveals that he had told Wandel he would see him alright, and this ruse of hers has cost both Daveak and the Party honour.

The Party make their way to the Prospectors Guild, where they try to find out more about Pawdle Wherrit. They are told that the guild considers him to be at best insane, at worst a coward who tells tall tales to avoid the fact that he has lost his nerve and came back without any finds. Wherrit has been expelled from the guild, and may be found drowning his sorrows at a cheap tavern called the Copper Scuttle. They ask what he looks like, and are given the description that he is bald, with a white beard and has large ears. Thanking their informant, they leave for the Copper Scuttle.

At the Copper Scuttle, they have a look around. Daveak believes he sees a man who closely resembles the description they were given, and makes his way over to find out if he is right. Frank heads for one of the serving girls, leaving it up to Daveak to find out the heart of the matter. Rayne sits quietly and listens in on a conversation between a few of the tavern Patrons, while the three half-elves are momentarily stunned by the sights and smells of the place.

Daveak asks the drunkard he has singled out for his name, and his guess is correct: The man reveals himself to be Pawdle Wherrit. Pawdle asks Daveak to buy him a drink, and in return he will tell his tale. Daveak attempts to bargain with Pawdle, telling him he’ll buy him a drink after he’s told his tale, but Pawdle refuses to talk unless he has a drink in front of him. While he is getting a dark ale for Pawdle the others watch sit nearby and await the tale.

Slurring his words, Pawdle tells his story. He claims that he was out prospecting near to ‘Dragonscar Ridge’, an area of the Cracked Hills which is quite distinctive. One day he was wandering around when the ground opened up beneath his feet, and he thinks he fell around 100’ down a crevasse, although he blacked out so is unsure.
When he regained conciousness, he found himself lying on a cobbled surface, in what seemed to be a tunnel, lit by a faint glow. He assumed that he’d fallen into some Dwarven working, either left behind before the Great Winter, or a product of Geldan’s Gulley. After wrapping a makeshift bandage around his wounded head, he set off in the direction where the light seemed brighter. The tunnel seemed straight and level, and he was sure that he could see brighter light ahead of him. but then, the whispers started. They came out of the gloomy spaces at each side of the tunnel, where he could not see. They sounded malicious, and in some dark tongue, which scared him quite a bit. He began to walk faster, but the whispers got louder, and he was sure he could hear footsteps following him, so he began to run.
After some time of running (how long he is unsure, as he was suffering from concussion)he came to the light at the end of the tunnel, and he was amazed to see the outline of Flint-Harrow ahead of him. Staggering out of the tunnel, his stamina spent, he fell into fresh snow. when he got up again, and turned around to see what the exit of the tunnel looked like, all he could see was an unmarked hill, with no sign of a tunnel mouth, or his footprints.

Pawdle then tells Daveak that when he told his tale in town, he was considered to have been delirious from his head wound, or driven mad by his isolation. worse still, his standing in the guild is gone, as they considered him unfit for the job, and his wife left him. all he has left is to sit here in the tavern and drink away his troubles.

Daveak informs Pawdle that word of his tale reached the ear of the Council, and they have sent the party to look into his story. Pawdle asks Daveak that if they are going off to investigate where he fell in, could Daveak find Pawdles hunting knife, as it was his fathers, and means a lot to him. Daveak agrees, and Pawdle seems a lot happier.

As they leave the tavern, they discuss where they are going. Daveak reveals that he knows the area and it should only take about a day to get there. Marellian stops them before they decide to leave, telling them that he remembers reading about similar experiences by poeple who were near death. They speak of seeing a road stretching before them, and Marellian wonders if this man merely saw such a road while delirious. They listen to this, and decide to speak with a priest of the temple of Death to gain more information.

Marellian seems agitated as they approach the temple of Death, and has to be cajolled into going forwards as their speaker. At their knock, a priest of Death answers, asking if they require his services for an funeral? Marellian explains that they have come seeking answers regarding a road that those close to death find themselve on. The priest seems to know what Marellian is getting at, and invites them in. Marellian is hesitant to step over the threshold, but the priest tells him that, contrary to popular belief, the god of Death is not evil, and does not actively seek the death of people. Indeed, he is patient, and knows that all things will die in time. Reassured, Marellian joins the others, as the priest leads them to a meeting room.

On hearing the tale of Pawdle Wherrit and his road, the priest agrees with Marellian. He tells that such a road is known as the ‘Shadow Road’, and is the journey that all souls must take at the end of their lives. Sometimes, those who are near dead, but not yet ready, are able to travel the other way and return to the living.

Daveak tells the priest that the Council are concerned that such a road could be used by an enemy force, and could anyone use it? The priest replies that if this were the Shadow Road, then only those near death or dead would be able to use it, but that there are writings that tell of a plane of thought that is brought into existance through Needs and Desires. The Ancients used this plane to move themselves across continents and enabled them to perform impossible tasks. It might be that Pawdle Wherrit has managed to access this plane and was able to ‘Think’ himself a way home. If so, he would be the first human to manage this. The priest offers to send one of his brethren to see Pawdle Wherrit. He suggests that if nothing else, it might ease his troubled mind and show him a way to get back to his old life. Thanking him for his time and his offer, the Party leave, and prepare themselves for the journey to the Dragonscar Ridge.

It takes them the better part of six hours to get to the Cracked Hills, and they soon find themselves at the bottom of a vertical face of rock. Daveak explains that they are on the bottom side of Dragonscar Ridge, and must climb this rockface to get onto the ridge proper. By now they have all heard the legend that the ridge was made by two fighting dragons sliding along it’s length and creating the rockface by crashing along it, but those with geography knowledge know it merely to be a geological faultline.

Frank, Rayne, Loraella and Elden easily climb the rockface and stand on the top of the ridge, but Marellian and Daveak are unable to make it: Daveak due to his cumbersome armour, Marellian just because of his lack of climbing ability. After a long discussion which frustrates Frank, Marellian gives his rope to Daveak, who ties one end to an arrow and shoots it up to the others. Daveak is then able to climb up, but Marellian needs to be helped as he goes. Finally they are all standing on the top of the ridge.

As they head southwards, everyone except Marellian sees an odd sight: It appears to be snowing in an area some 6’ wide. The sky around them is overcast, but there seems to be no sign of snow anywhere but this small area. Marellian doesn’t see what the others are talking about, and moves closer to the snowstorm for a better look. The others look on in horror as a form is revealed inside the snowstorm: A rotting corpse, its flesh falling off it to reveal bones in some places. Frost and ice cling to its hair, and its eye sockets glow with blue-white light. It claws at Marellian, and he feels its icy touch leach vitality from him. Reeling from its attack, he casts burning hands, and it screeches in pain at the hated fire. The others join in the attack, and the Frost-Wight falls to a blow from Elden and his faithful greatsword. Marellian reveals that he has heard of such twisted creatures, created from a person who dies from the intense cold magic sent down from the Ice Queen. He says a small prayer over the corpse, and the Party move on.

Suddenly, the ground beneath Daveak gives way, and he falls into a crevasse. Luckily he is only slightly bruised from the fall, and is able to move. The others ask if he is alright and he replies he is, to which they ask if he sees a road. He doesn’t see a road, and he has only fallen a slight way, so they decide this is not the crevasse Pawdle fell into. Daveak is able to climb out, and they continue onwards, but this time more wary of the ground.

As the ridge climbs slightly, they come across a most unusual sight. Someone seems to have made several snowmen and set them in a ragged line facing the north. Marellian wonders if these are the mythical Wandering Snowmen, and decides to take a closer look. The others warn him to come away, but he is curious and wanders closer. Nothing happens, but while Marellian is the focus of the Party’s attention, Rayne finds herself pushed from behind, and falls into a crevasse. Loraella and Daveak both seem to be smirking, but Frank takes his ire out on the nearest Snowman. As he hits it, the snow sloughs away to reveal a metallic ball-like creature, which attacks him. all the other snowmen also shed their snowy cover, and reveal themselves to be some kind of Clockwork Horror.

The Party finds it hard to do much damage to these metal balls, but Marellian uses his expertise in taking things apart, and manages to slightly disable one, slowing it down. He tries again, and receives a small electric shock, but the creature seems to have stopped working. Flushed with his success, he moves onto another of the creatures, which Frank and Rayne had been battering. He opens up a small panel and pulls at some machinery, and this one seems to lose control of its direction of travel, and floats off aimlessly. Seeing this, Loraella also begins to disable the things, and the remaining creatures whizz off, leaving their disabled collegues behind. Marellian decides he would like to examine one in his lab back in town, and it rolls it into a sack for a stronger party member to carry for him.

Daveak manages to find some footprints, and follows them to a small camp. However, the camp looks abandoned, with tools lying about in the snow and the tent open to the elements. Daveak looks in the tent, and finds a bottle of strong liquer. He holds it aloft in triumph, before stowing it in his gear. Back outside, Frank finds the gaping hole of an opened crevasse, and decides to see if this is the one Pawdle fell down. He finds it an icy slide of about 100’, and lands at the bottom unharmed. Yelling up to the others, he tells them he thinks he’s found the right crevasse. Daveak asks him if there is a road down there, but he seems to be in a cave. The others decide to all slide down to see. Rayne is last down, after trying to find a safer way down.

The bottom of the crevasse is rocky, and stretches off around a corner. Daveak sees a trail of blood, and the party follow it. As they round the corner, they see that the blood trail ends at a frozen corpse: The corpse of Pawdle Wherrit. Daveak searshes the body, and finds the hunting knife he was asked to return to the Pawdle that they spoke to in the tavern, but they all wonder if the Pawdle in the tavern is real or some kind of Doppleganger.

Loraella gives Frank her potion of Spiderclimb, and he climbs the icy slide with the rope wound around his waist. He asks the others to tie the body onto the rope, and he hauls it to the surface. One by one he pulls the others up, until they are all back at the camp. It is late in the day, but they head back to town, Frank carrying the body of Pawdle Wherrit, Daveak the sack with the clockwork horror.

Their first stop back at town is the Temple of Death. There they speak with the same priest, and show him the body of Pawdle Wherrit. He does not seem surprised, telling them that in extreme cases this type of reincarnation has been known to happen. The God of Death has given Pawdle Wherrit another chance, and he should take it.

Returning to the Copper Scuttle, they find Pawdle at his usual table. Daveak returns him his knife, to which Pawdle takes off his shoe and gives Daveak the small gem hidden in the sole. Frank moans that they should have checked the body, as it maybe had the same gem onit, but nobody takes him seriously. Daveak tells Pawdle they found no road, and that he must have been transported through the goodness of the God of Death. Pawdle replies that a priest of the God of Death spoke to him earlier and said something similar. Daveak suggests that instead of moping here about his old life, he should take this opportunity of a second chance and make it count. His words seem to animate Pawdle, who decides to try and win back his wife and old job.

The Party then return to report to the Council. They explain that there was no road, just the visions granted to those near death of the way to the ‘other side’. Warchief Amstar is glad to hear of this, but also chides the Party for their recent adventures in Orc held lands. It seems the Orc king has sent an embassy to Flint-Harrow to try and negotiate a treaty, and that the embassy have complained about the Party’s behaviour and the massacre of Orc workers. Daveak and Marellian storm out, telling the Warchief that Orcs are not to be trusted. The others remain, and demand their payment, which she grudgingly gives them. Seeing relationships with the Council have soured, they take their leave.

Later that night, they meet up to discuss their plans. Frank, Loraella and Rayne decide that they should find out exactly what the Orcs are up to with this talk of treaties, and make plans to spy on the Orcs. Daveak tells the Party that he wishes to leave town for a while, and will look in the wilds for Orc movements, while searching for an animal companion to help him in his questing. Marellian asks Elden if he would help drag the clockwork horror to his lab, where he will attempt to discern the nature of these strange things. Elden says he has nothing better to do, and picks up the sack. They all agree to meet up in seven days to discuss what they have found.

Marellian and Elden take the sack with the Clockwork Horror to an old mentor of Marellian’s called Covenas. In his lab the two mages dissect the creature, while Elden sits by idly. As they get deep inside the creature’s torso, Marellian makes a grisly discovery: The center of this being houses a living brain. Covenas isn’t sure what creature it comes from, but from his old library he has drawings of various humanoid brains, and this seems to closely resemble that of a Gnome…
While the two work, elden is drawn to an old book, titled ‘The paths of the Dead’. He flicks through it until he comes to a fragment of verse from before the Great Winter. It reads:

“I walked upon the Shadow Road, my feet they drew me on,
but when I looked behind me, the Shadow Road was gone.
And so I seek it skill, but the road I never find,
for a part of me is looking for the me I left behind.
Beware when you walk on the Shadow Road, my friend,
for the you who enters on it won’t come out the other end…”

View
Chasing a Whisper
A killer Kitten in Flint-Harrow

The Party:

Daveak Swordhand (Played by Paul)
Elden Spirefield (Played by Matt)
Frank Wyvern’s Tooth (Played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore (Played by Leanne)
Wandel Windrider (Usually N.P.C., but played by Dave at his request)

A summons from the Council arrives for the party members. The Council are interested in their trip into the Orc lands, and would like their explanation of what is going on. Strangely, Marellian is nowhere to be found, until Wandel suggests looking at the Townsend Soup Kitchen and Compassionate Church complex.

Turning up at the Soup Kitchen, Frank heads for the serving girl and asks her what the soup of the day is, while Loraella confronts a server and demands to know where her brother is. The Server rather abruptly tells her Marellian is on retreat, and walks off to serve a down and out. Put out by his manner, she sits at a table and waits for him to serve her. When he gets to her table, He tells her that he knows she is not destitute, and so she should not expect a free meal. She repeats her question, and this time he elaborates. It seems Marellian was wracked with guilt over his lack of compassion towards the Orcs and Goblins, and he is on a spiritual retreat to become a better person. Loraella shakes her head at his foolishness, but before she can complain further, the party hear screams coming from nearby.

Daveak, Wandel and Elden are first on the scene. They see a young woman running away from an alley, where an old man lies covered in blood. Two priests are running towards the old man, so they stop the woman instead. She tells them she was walking with her father and young daughter when a glowing creature pounced on them. It mauled her father, and picked up her young daughter, carrying her away in its mouth. She is too upset to continue, so Daveak talks to the priests. Just as he gets to them, Loraella and Frank meet up with them.

The Priests are curing the old man, but they tell Daveak that the creature is the Hellcat kitten that Marellian brought back with him. They wanted to banish it, but he had some foolish notion that it would make an experiment of nurture verses nature. It seems nature won. The creature has begun to attack people. The senior priest asks Daveak to find the beast, and either kill it or return with it so that they can banish it to its home plane. The party decide that it would be best to undertake this task, as one of their own was responsible for the beast being in town.

Daveak, Wandel and Frank all look for signs of the Hellcat, and Daveak soon finds its trail. He tracks it to a shadowy alley, where it is startled by the party and drops the young girl. Elden is assigned to return the girl to the Temple, while the others stalk the Hellcat. Frank and Loraella follow it onto the rooftops, while Daveak and Wandel keep track of it from the ground. The Hellcat leaps from roof to roof, followed swiftly by Frank and Loraella, until Loraella misses the next roof, and clings to the overhang to save herself from a nasty fall. Climbing down, she sees Frank leap and miss the next roof, but he manages to land safely with only his pride hurt. THe Hellcat leaps again, but doesn’t reach the next roof, instead smashing through an upstairs window of a merchant’s house. Wandel and Daveak reach the house, and Wandel takes up a position guarding the rear of the house just as Loraella and Frank reach the front door. As they ready themselves to enter the house, Elden runs up, having left the girl in the care of the priests. He joins Frank and Loraella as they go inside, while Daveak keeps an eye on the side of the house.

On first glance, the inside of the house appears to have been ransacked, but the merchant is there moving stuff about, and it is merely his accustomed mess. He is startled to hear that the Hellcat has smashed into his dwelling, and lets them go upstairs, telling them that his porter is asleep after a busy night. They creep upstairs, wary of ambush, but the hallway above them seems empty. Elden hears noise from behind a door, and opens it to reveal three thieves trying to open some crates. The lead thief tells the others to flee, while he whips out his rapier and attempts to hold off Elden. Loraella is busy peering round another door, but Frank sees Elden and his attackers.

As the first thief jumps out of the open window, Frank runs into the room. He leaps out through the window behind her, and they both land in the alley behind the house. She runs from him, but Frank is quicker, and tackles her. She manages to stab him with her dagger, to which Frank head-butts her. He doesn’t know his own strength, as his blow kills her.

Elden fends off the two thieves, but one of them is quicker, and wounds him. He manages to kill the other, but takes another hit. Meanwhile, Loraella discovers an open skylight, through which the Hellcat has escaped. She returns to the hallway at the same time that the porter opens his door. Seeing her, and hearing the noise from the strongroom, he deduces that she is one of a group of thieves that are robbing his master. He starts yelling for the watch. Loraella, not managing to persuade him otherwise, decides to escape the same way as Frank; through the open window. She yells at Elden to follow, and he is torn between wanting to finish off his foe and leaving. In the end he follows Loraella, leaving the remaining thief to face the watch.

Wandel hears a noise behind him, and turns to see the Hellcat jumping across a roof. Wondering how he missed seeing it leave the house, he yells out to the others while firing at it. He misses, but Daveak is able to hit it from further away, which seems to offend Wandel. Daveak explains that he concentrated on archery while Wandel took up the sword, and this explanation is accepted. Frank quickly searches the body of the female thief, and they all run after the Hellcat again. The chase remains on ground level, and the Hellcat jumps down, realising they can spot it easier when it is on the rooftops. It slinks away around a corner, and they lose it for a while, but the tracking skills of the two rangers and Frank means it does not escape them for long. Daveak finds a broken sewer grate, through which the Hellcat has passed. The party follow the Hellcat into the sewer system.

They find themselves on a ledge about two feet above the sewer. Splashing noises can be heard as the Hellcat makes its escape. Something pushes at Elden from behind, and he finds himself in the sewer, making quite a splash. Loraella and Daveak look around innocently. Elden glares, but decides as he is now in front, he will take up the chase, and wades through the foul water in the direction of the Hellcat. The others follow from the (cleaner) ledge.

They are passing an intersection when a swarm of rats stream out at them. Loraella is at the rear, and she pushes Daveak forwards into the sewer in her excitement. They manage to make light work of the rat swarm, and continue on. Elden finds a doorway in the side of the sewer wall, and they peer through to see the Hellcat in a passageway. It flees, and they give chase again.

This passage seems to be some secret thieves’ Hideout. There is a manhole to the street, but it is closed and the Hellcat has no means of escape. Instead it turns on Elden, seriously damaging him. Loraella opens a door to reveal a ragged man. He is upset that she has disturbed him, and tells her this is his home, and to go find her own. Not wanting to anger him further, she closes the door and joins the fight.

Elden fights for his life, and deals the Hellcat serious wounds in return. Frank joins him as they slug it out with the Hellcat, and it falls to another of Elden’s uncannily lethal blows. There is a discussion concerning skinning the Hellcat, and Wandel moans that he deserves the skin as they have still not paid him for his services. While this discussion is going on, Frank decides to open another door. Behind it is a small room, in which is a slim, pretty young girl. Frank attempts to make small talk with her, assuming her to be harmless. He soon realises his mistake, as she produces a stiletto dagger from out of nowhere and stabs him with it. Shocked, Frank swings his axe in defence, and kills her. He suddenly begins to shake all over as the poison on her blade begins to take effect. As his legs give way, he searches her, revealing a vial of greenish fluid.

Daveak and Loraella suddenly realise Frank has not returned, and look into the room. They see Frank as he slumps to the ground, and Daveak rushes forwards to help. Daveak is able to use his healer’s kit to stop the poison affecting Frank further, and Frank is able to get back on his feet. Loraella spots a chest as Daveak is helping Frank out of the room. She opens it to reveal a heap of gold coins, and begins stuffing them into her sack. Realising she would be unable to take them all, she calls in the others, and they share out the coins she couldn’t manage to take. Wandel is elated to finally get payment , and settles with Daveak that they will split the money from the Hellcat’s skin 60/40 in Daveak’s favour.

As they are returning to the Compasionate Church complex, Loraella decides on a bit of devilry. She pick-pockets Wandel of 100GP, wanting to plant it on Elden before Wandel realises it. Unfortunately, Elden wanders off to check on the young girl that he brought back, and she is unable to plant it on him. Wandel realises that one of the party members has pick-pocketed him, and severs his ties with the party, telling them that sword brothers must be able to trust one another. Daveak berates Loraella, but she is adamant that it was Elden who took the money. Daveak offers Wandel 100Gp from his share of the money, but Wandel will not be placated, and stalks off, vowing to set up his own adventuring band instead…

…As a Council page turns up to ask them why they have yet to report to the council as ordered.

View
The Valley of the Wyverns
(be vewwwy, vewwy quiet, we're hunting Wyverns...)

The Party:

Daveak Swordhand (Played by Paul)
Elden Spirefield (Player absent; played as N.P.C.)
Frank Wyvern’s Tooth (Played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore (Played by Leanne)
Marellian Ironcore (Played by Dave)
Rayne (Played by Amanda)
Wandel Windrider (N.P.C.)

continuing from ‘Following the Orc Map’

Bagrob’s Cave is a hive of activity, as the Party prepare to brave the next leg of the map. Everyone is interested in the boxes that lie scattered around the cave after the battle the day before. Loraella opens a box to find part of some strange plant, that is identified as a ‘Musk Creeper’. She asks Marellian if it would be of any use in his magical or alchemical workings, but he is unsure. Daveak opens a box to reveal a painting. Looking at it closer, he sees that is of Flameguard Keep, and there are three figures in the foreground; a Dwarf, an Ignoi warrior, and a small female in the robes of the church of Wisdom. The scrawl in the bottom corner reads ‘Heading out to scout the pass’, and is signed ‘Tufty’. This causes confusion, as it would have been painted the day the white riders were swept to their doom by an avalanche, so how could it have turned up here…

Marellian opens a box and peeks inside. He comes face to face with a kitten. It has had all it’s fur shaved off, and has a napkin tied round it’s middle. It meewls faintly at him, and he picks it up. It is shivering, and tries to crawl inside his robe, so he puts it inside his backpack to keep warm. Frank doesn’t think Marellian is showing much compassion for being a priest, and asks him what he’s going to call his new pet. Marellian says he’ll think it over. While waiting for Marellian to think up a name, Frank decides to open the next box; which contains a clockwork toy. As the youngest party member, he has to put up with the others ribbing him about finding a toy, but bears it well. Rayne picks a box, and hears the chink of coins inside. Smiling, she rips it open , but the coins are made of Tin, and are quite worthless. Elden takes the next box, which is full of giant apples, the size of melons. He’s not sure if they are edible or not, but takes them anyway. Frank opens the final box to reveal the skeleton of an angel, complete with wings.

Veiwing all their new finds, Loraella asks Marellian if any of it is magical. He detects an aura covering everything, including the kitten. The only thing that comes to mind is that everything has passed through the outer planes to get here, and some trace of the journey still clings to them. Marellian then realises that the kitten must have been hungry, as it has eaten all the trail rations in his backpack. Frank remarks that he can smell a bad odour coming from the backpack, and that Marellian had better not have had his spellbooks in there…

Leaving the cave behind, they pass under the shadow of the Wyvernhorn peak, and start on the second part of the trail. Daveak sees an arctic hare, and manages to bring it down. He offers the kitten a leg, and to his amasement, it swallows the leg whole. It then claws for the rest of the carcass, which it gulps down. The others exchange worried glances, but Marellian is uncaring. He tells Loraella that he had a dream during the night, in which his slain bat told him he could undertake a ritual to summon another familiar to join his cause. He also decides to call the kitten ‘Whisper’.

Across the valley, the party spot a lone Orc, looking up at the sky. Frank and Daveak attempt to sneak up on him, and when they get closer realise that the Orc is surrounded by Goblins carrying nets. The Orc seems to be bait for a Wyvern, whereby the Goblins will attempt to capture it. Marellian calls out to Frank, asking what he’s seen, and alerts the Orc to their presence. Frank quickly points to the sky behind the Orc, saying; “Look up there!” And both he and Daveak snigger at the look on the Orc’s face when it thinks the Wyvern is approaching from behind it. Luckily, neither the party nor the Orc and Goblins are in the mood for a fight, and the Orc wyvernhunter moves off. The party continue northwards along the trail.

As they reach the northern end of the valley, Daveak spots several large bones sticking up out of the snow and ice. While investigating these bones further, Marellian declares that they are the bones of a long extinct creature known as ‘Horses’. He claims to have read about them in a book once. Apparently these Horses were a staple food of Wyverns, before dying out due to a lack of grazing pasture. The others listen politely to his lecture, while the kitten (which seems to have grown larger) chews on a bone. Frank spots the entrance to the cave marked on his map, and they move on.

Inside the cave, Wandel once more takes on the duties of ‘Torchbearer’, while Daveak and Loraella take the lead. They take a fork to the right, but Rayne decides she would prefer the left hand fork, and sneaks off quickly. As she nears a side passage, a sound like a woman’s scream alerts the party, and they come running. Rayne enters a cavern off to the side of the passage, where she is nearly deafened by the loud shrieking of strange mushrooms. Marellian makes a joke about there not being ‘mushroom’ in here, which seems to set the creatures into an attack. Frank rummages around in his backpack, and finds one of the flasks of oil Marellian made for him. He throws it at one of the mushrooms, and acid sprays most of the colony. Elden dives in to attack, but is struck by a stinging blow from a flailing appendige, and suddenly feels weakened. Luckily the acid eats through all the mushrooms, and Daveak looks at Eldens wounds quickly. He realises that Elden has been poisoned, but he does not have an antidote. Elden appears to shrug it off, but it is obvious he is not as vigorous as before.

The tunnel forks again, and Loraella, Daveak, Wandel and Frank take the right hand fork; while Marellian, Elden and Rayne go left. Loraella creeps along stealthily, and doesn’t spook the colony of bats roosting in the cavern ahead. Daveak and Frank are not so lucky, and the Bat Swarm swoops them, blooding Daveak before Wandel waves his torch at them and Frank swats them. Daveak uses his healing kit to staunch the bleeding wound, and Loraella scolds them both for being so noisy. Apart from Bat guano there is nothing of use in this cavern, but it takes them a while to sort out Daveaks wound. Meanwhile Rayne sneaks through the tunnels until she reaches a large cavern. There she sees a large pile of bones, and smells something foul. In this cavern is the Ettin that Daveak had been warned about. She manages to hide from it while she studies her foe. Marellian and Elden follow her path, and are not at all stealthy. The Ettin sees Marellian and smacks his lips: Food!

Marellian thinks about charming the Ettin, but as it looms closer he realises that it is simply too big to be affected by his spell. Rayne sneaks around behind it, while Elden attempts to shield Marellian from its Morningstar. The Ettin switches its attacks to Elden, and deals him a couple of hefty blows. Rayne fires her crossbow from behind, but Ettin hide is so tough that it doesn’t even notice her bolt. Marellian, sensing that his defender is severely wounded, moves backwards until only Elden is in range, and uses the power of positive energy channeled through his holy symbol to heal Elden. This is enough to keep Elden alive, as the Ettin hits him again. Elden deals the Ettin a vicious blow, and Rayne manages to hit it again with her crossbow. Marellian again heals Elden, and this is just enough to stave off death. Elden again deals the Ettin a hefty blow, and the creature finally falls. The other party members arrive just as Elden deals it the death blow, and He stands bloodied but victorious over the greatest foe he has fought to date.

While Daveak and Frank help bandage Elden, and Marellian channels yet more energy to heal the wounded, Rayne sorts through the pile of rubbish the Ettin had collected from the bodies of the slain. She finds a wooden mask that looks like it would have belonged to a shaman of some kind. Without really thinking, she asks Marellian if it is magical, only to notice Loraella’s covetous gaze at it as he examines the Mask and tells her it is. She thinks twice about putting it in her backpack, and wears it instead.

Heading back down the tunnels, the party take the last remaining passage, and ahead of them they spot a figure examining the cave walls. As they get closer, the figure is revealed as an Elf. Loraella greets him in Elven, and is tiold he is Finrothin Branathol, of the house of the Shaken willow. She is concerned for his safety, telling him they have fought strange creatures in these tunnels, but he is dismissive of it, telling her the Orcs have been most genial hosts. He explains that he has only recently begun his work of deciphering the cave drawings, as the map he was supposed to have received never got to him. Loraella glances guiltily at Frank.

Meanwhile, Elden is boasting to Marellian that he saved Marellian’s life, and had completed a vow of honour passed down through three generations to repay the debt his family owed the Ironcores. Marellian does not wish this to be continually brought up, so charms Elden and gets him to never bring it up again, as they are all friends looking after each other aren’t they?

The Elf is intregued by Loraella talking in Elven, to which she replies she is half-elven. He dismisses this , telling her it is as a drop of rain falling in a stagnant pool. She misunderstands his sarcasm, thinking he is praising her heritage. Daveak however, understands only too well the Elf’s mocking tone, and distrusts him (as he does most things Fey). He looks around to see a way of colapsing the ceiling of the cave to bury the Elf. Loraella continues speaking, asking what the Elf is studying the cave drawings for. He replies that a mysterious benefactor contacted him, wishing him to conduct a survey of these cave paintings to try and understand the earliest histories of the Orc race in this area. This cave is sacred to the Orcs, as it contains the shrine of one of the race’s first heroes who became a god. Marellian declares that Orcs are evil and must be destroyed, to which the Elf replies that he has seen his own race destroyed by one of nature’s furies, and wanting to destroy another race seems like a peety squabble. He tells the party that to him, who has lived near a thousand years, they all seem like restless children. Loraella asks him who his benefactor is, and he gives her the name ‘Tujo’. Someone asks if the Elf would be able to identify the items they found in Bagrob’s Cave, and he is willing to do so. He tells them that all the items come from the Planes, including the Kitten, which he calls a Bezikira, or Hellcat. He warns that should the kitten grow to adulthood, it would become a ravenous killer, it’s favoured prey being humans. Marellian is dismissive of this, telling everyone that his nurturing would overcome it’s vicious nature.

They wish the Elf well in his work, and take the passage that takes them back outside. It is early evening, and darkness is creeping in. Rayne is happiest in this light, and proceeds ahead of the rest. She fails to notice the Wyvern swooping on her position. The others do, and cry out, while Daveak fires an arrow at it. The Wyvern grasps Rayne in a clawed foot, but she uses her escapology to wriggle free before it takes her too high. Elden rushes to her aid, and it turns and swoops on him next. His greatsword thrusts into the beast as it passes, and Daveak, Marellian, Loraella and Rayne all hit with missile weapons. Wandel bemoans his luck as all his shots miss. Frank, fittingly, is the one to deliver the death blow, leaping onti it’s back as it swoops past, then burying his axe into it’s neck. He jumps clear as it falls dead, and then claims his Wyvern teeth. Daveak takes some scales to fashion into armour at some later date, while the stinger is hacked off for Marellian to use in some alchemical way.

Congratulating each other, they head back down the trail, and back to human held lands. There they find Hibbing Thorne waiting for them. He is glad to see they have succeeded in stopping the Ettin, and gives Daveak his prize: An Efficient Quiver. He tells the party that should they ever need his services, they should call on him. They wave him goodbye as they head home to Flint-Harrow.

View
Following the Orc map
losing a close friend is never easy...

The party:

Daveak Swordhand (Played by Paul)
Elden Spirefield (Player absent; played as N.P.C.)
Frank Wyvern’s Tooth (Played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore (Played by Leanne)
Marellian Ironcore (Played by Dave)
Rayne (Played by Amanda)
Wandel Windrider (N.P.C.)

While waiting for Elden and Wandel to recover from the serious case of Mind-fire fever, Marellian busies himself making another batch of acid. Despite his attention wandering, he manages to make a large enough batch to fill three flasks. He also makes something special (but this will have to be revealed later…)

Daveak attemps to retrace his steps, intent on finding the people who gave him such potent liquor, in the hope of getting some for his friends. He fails to find them, as they have moved camp, but does run into a rather strange Halfling Druid called Hibbing Thorne. Hibbing explains that he has been talking to the trees, and they are upset about an Ettin who is uprooting several of their fellows in a valley to the north west. Daveak deduces that this valley must be the one on the map that Frank found of the Orc city site. Hibbing tells Daveak that if he and his friends manage to kill or drive off the Ettin, Hibbing will give Daveak a magic quiver.

Frank has a discussion with Marellian concerning the map he found during the battle of Snowbold Lair. They agree that the party should investigate further, and bring their evidence back to the council.

The party meet up at the hospice, where Elden and Wandel are finally fit to be released. Frank and Marellian explain their plan to go north and see what the Orcs are up to, and the others go along with it. Marellian also gives Loraella the ‘something special’ he has made for her; a set of very fine clothes. Loraella thanks him, and wonders how to return the money she pickpocketed from him, especially as buying all the materials has made him broke.

Travelling north into the Buried Peaks, they find the start of the Orc trail marked on Frank’s map. What is not marked on the map, however, is a sentry post with a guard compliment of ten. Marellian’s bat familliar finds the sentry post before they wander unknowingly onto it, and they make plans to either assault it or sneak past it. It is decided that they will send Marellian’s bat around the back of the post to serve as a diversion, while they take the front entrance. Their plan is foiled by the appearance of an Orc ranger, who is out hunting for the pot. She takes aim and shoots down the hapless bat, making Marellian charge haphazardly around the back to try and save it. Wandel follows Marellian, while the other continue with their assault on the front of the post. Seeing that there is a large signalling mirror sited on the tower, they instruct Rayne to cast her darkness over it, which she does. Two of the Orcs do indeed try to signal with it, but are unable to, due to the darkness hanging on it.

Marellian sees the Orc ranger picking up his bat, and attempts to Charm her. His attempt fails, and she fires upon him. Seeing the characters over-running the tower, she then turns to flee. Marellian and Wandel are slower than she is, and she begins to outpace them.

Meanwhile, Frank and Elden storm up the ramp and attack the guards in the tower, while Rayne and Loraella fire missiles at them. Sadly, the cover provided by the tower’s walls mean they are mainly misses, but Frank is in his element hacking away at the defending Orcs. The two Orcs who were attempting to signal give up this task, and jump out of the rear of the tower; hurting themselves, but managing to escape Frank’s axe. Not for long though, as he bull rushes the last guard standing, and pushes it off the rear of the tower, leaping out after them and managing to take one as it tries to run. Daveak, who had run around the tower in order to help Marellian, shoots the last Orc, but the Ranger appears to have escaped. Not for long, however, as Marellian sees footprints in the snow, and the ranger jumps out from behind the tree she was using as cover. By this time the others have caught up, and it is Rayne’s crossbow bolt that finally kills the Orc ranger. Marellian continues to beat the corpse with his quarterstaff, until it is a bloody mess. The party then have a small service and cremation for the Bat familliar. Tears drying, Marellian vows that the Orcs truly are without compassion, and all deserve death.

Heading further along the trail, they come to a fork in the path. In the middle of the fork is a tall pole, from which hangs a gibbet. Caged in the gibbet is a Dwarf. At first, they believe him to be dead, but a closer look reveals he is still alive, but barely. Marellian stands under the gibbet and channels healing energy into the Dwarf. The Dwarf is hardly impressed, claiming that such an act has merely prolonged his agony. Frank climbs the pole, and lowers the gibbet to the ground, where Rayne picks open the easy lock and frees the Dwarf.

The Dwarf explains that he is Thurri, son of Garris, of the halfaxe clan of Geldan’s Gully. He and his troop were out looking for his missing cousin, when they were attacked by Orcs. The wounded were carried to this area, where they were placed in Gibbets for the amusement of the Orcs and Goblins passing by. He seems to be the only one left alive. The party ask if he wishes to join them in hunting and killing Orcs, and he is sorely tempted, but needs to return to the Gully to inform his kin of his troop’s fate. He gives Marellian a talisman of the halfaxe, telling him that if he is ever near Geldan’s Gully, to give the talisman in at the gate and a member of the clan will come forward to repay their debt. He waves goodbye and starts off south.

The party decide to take the right hand fork, which takes them to the Goblin quarry. There they find Human, Goblin and Orc slaves being whipped by Bugbear overseers. When freed, the Humans are grateful, but the Goblin and Orc slaves turn on the party when they are freed. Marellian wonders if these Humans are in fact the missing from Flint-Harrow, but they tell him they are from the free village of Falling Leaves, that has been overrun by Orcs and destroyed. He tells them that they will be welcomed in Flint-Harrow, but one old slave reveals he ran away from Flint-Harrow years before, after the philosopher’s revolt was put down by Akizellian Ironcore. Once again the Ironcore name comes back to haunt the siblings, and Loraella has to pretend she didn’t hear anything. Luckily, Marellian does not reveal he is the grandson of Akizellian, and the old man and the other slaves set off south to see if his words are true.

While exploring the quarry further, they come across a golden circle, inscribed in the rock. Marellian is asked to examine it, and declares that it is some sort of Gateway linked to the hells. Rayne jokes that it is her way home, but nobody really wants to see if they can make the trip. As they are examining it further, it seems to shimmer, and a Barghest steps through from the ‘other side’. It snarls at seeing intruders present in the quarry, and attacks.

During the fight, Frank manages to trip the Barghest up, but it still manages a couple of bites before finally dying under the weight of blows rained upon it. Daveak asks Marellian if there is any way to close the Gateway so that no more will come through, and he figures out that Frank would be able to use one of the flasks of acid to disolve the gold ring, thus destroying the circle and with it the Gateway. While they manage this, Rayne decides she likes the look of the Barghest’s leather armour, which seems to be infused with shadow. Marellian confirms that it is indeed magical, and she takes it with her.

Loraella finds some kind of railed cart transportation system, and the party pile into a cart and speed off downhill towards the site of the Orc city. Using this method, they avoid any patrols, and enter the city site undetected. They surprise a group of Orc labourers attempting to sort a load of wood, and Daveak remembers that the druid warned him about the Ettin tearing down trees for some unknown purpose. Surely this is where those trees are ending up.

While the party fight the group of labourers, the rest of the Orc non-combatants flee, and Marellian is the only one to notice. He rages that there are too many getting away that should be killed, and the party quickly leave the city site to seek out more victims.

Further along the trail, they find a group of Orc workers digging a long trench to divert water from the icy pool to the city site. On seeing the party they flee, but all but one are shot in the back as they run. The last one flees into what on the map is entitled ’Bagrob’s cave’, and the party follow him in.

The cave is lit by rushlights, and canvas drapes are swagged over poles, to make the interior look more like a caravanserai than a cave. A dusky voice calls out; “Well, hello darlings, have you finally come in to see me?” Revealing Bagrob, a large fleshy bundle reclining on a sedan, attended to by three half naked Orcs of surprising beauty (well, for Orcs anyway). Marellian is still hurting from the death of his familliar, and all he can see is Orc before him, so he shoots at Bagrob. To the party’s amazement, she seems to inflate until she fills the whole cave, and from a Gateway between her legs issues forth four strange red skinned creatures covered in blood and fluids. These Unborn ones (which the party point out should be called just born now) try to prevent the party from killing their mother, and each time they are killed, Bagrob issues forth four more.

During the fight, Frank recieves a Sending from Bagrob. He finds himself back in his mother’s womb, struggling to be born. A dusky voice tells him that it is not his destiny to be born, but to join those who never were, in the belly of the all mother. Then he hears the chanting of a human priest, and the dusky voice cries out at being denied her sacrifice. Then there is light, and air, to which Frank comes out of the sending.

As she realises that the party are overcoming her unborn warriors, Bagrob sends a foul wind that sends Elden and Wandel falling to their knees retching. The others seem made of sterner stuff, and are unaffected. They kill the last of the unborn ones, along with the Orc attendants, and Frank once again uses his leaping attack to jump over the unborn ones and bury his axe into Bagrob, stopping her from summoning more unborn ones. Bagrob is finally ‘slain’ by a crossbow bolt, causing her to explode outwards, covering the canvas with gore. The party look around at each other, wondering just what Bagrob really was.

After the exertions of a whole day battling Orcs, Goblins, Bugbears and a Demoness, they decide it would be best to rest and recover, using Bagrob’s cave as a base, before going onwards to the Wyvernhorn peaks and beyond the next day. As guard duties are issued out, others look into all the boxes that have been left as tribute to Bagrob by her admirers…..

To be continued…

View
The Shade of Bone
(paths of the dead part one)

Characters:

Daveak Swordhand (Played by Paul)
Elden Spirefield (Played by Matt)
Frank Wyvern’s Tooth (Played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore (Played by Leanne)
Marellian Ironcore (Played by Dave)
Rayne (Played by Amanda)
Wandel Windrider (N.P.C.)

Upon their triumphant return from battling the Orc and Goblin horde at the Snowbold lair, the party are brought before the council. There is talk of issuing them medals, and a parade in their honour. Loraella murmurs to Daveak that it would be pointless giving Marellian a medal, as he’d just give it away to some poor person. Talk of these things is brought short by the sudden appearance of two militiamen, holding between them a bloodied figure. It seems this young prospector is the sole survivor of a group of fourteen, and was just found at the gates, where he asked for help before collapsing. Councillor Kayedd heals him, and he haltingly tells his tale.

The young man is Hadrian Viscount, and he tells of camping in the Buried Peaks while looking for resources. His group had set camp for the night, when they heard a rockfall nearby. What they had taken to be a hill turned out to be some kind of man made structure, and part of it had recently collapsed, revealing to them a hollow interior. Their leader, a man called Arty, told them that untold riches awaited them inside, so they went in to explore.

Hadrian tells: " We all lit torches, and went inside, awed by the murals on the walls and the mosaic floors, a sure sign of the wealth awaiting us. But, before we found any riches, the things in the place found us. Jeri was torn apart in a heartbeat after stepping around a corner. Something took Ralph from above, and we heard his terrible screams, but never found him. Strange creatures swarmed over Kit and devoured him as we tried to beat them off. In the end, we broke and ran as fast as we could back the way we came. I guess I was the fastest runner, because I was the first out. I made it back to camp, but was the only one who did. I didn’t stay there, but started back here as fast as I could in the darkness.

At the sound of untold riches, Daveak and Frank become very interested. It takes very little persuading for the party to go out and find what happened to the rest of the prospectors, and destroy whatever evil lurks in this uncovered tomb (For this is what the sages on the council believe the structure to be).

Following the directions they have been given by Hadrian Viscount, the party find their way to the abandoned camp. Marellian sends his bat familiar (which he tells the others he has decided to call ‘Bassball’ (Bassba for short). The bat flies around the area, uncovering an entrance in the side of what seems to be a partly collapsed hill. Sending the bat in ahead of them, they inch forward, Daveak in the lead, with Wandel again acting as torchbearer, with Rayne and Loraella behind him. Frank and Elden seem eager to hang around Marellian and guard him. Marellian senses this has more to do with him being able to heal them.

The first room they come to is 30’X30’, and made from stone blocks. In the center of the west wall is a stone statue. On examination, it appears to be an ancient male figure, stooped over by age, with an inscription on the base. Marellian is able to decipher the ancient script to reveal the lines ‘Evermore we learn the truth, never to return to youth’ . While puzzling over these lines, Marellian taps the statue, but pushes a bit harder than he needs to. The Statue moves slightly, in a clockwise direction. Seeing this, Elden pushes the statue round clockwise, and the party hear a grinding sound off in the depths of the tomb. Elden is scolded for being rash, but simply shrugs. A paranoid Frank runs back to check their exit is still open, and returns relieved that it is.

There are two passages leading off from this room, and they decide to go south. This leads them to a second room, with an alcove in which stands a second statue. Marellian again examines the statue; this time of a large figure, arms crossed over it’s chest and with a stylised mask covering it’s face. The inscription on this statue’s base reads; ‘All emotions laid to rest, ready for the final test’. Marellian tries to turn it clockwise, but finds that this statue turns anti-clockwise instead. Again there comes a loud grinding noise from deeper in the tomb.

There is a door in the western wall of the room, and Loraella examines it for traps. Wandel remarks that if the prospectors came through this way they would surely have set off all the traps, to which the others scornfully reply how little he knows. Some traps, explains Rayne, reset themselves, while others may be set to go off when passed over a certain number of times. Wandel goes red and shuts up. However, Loraella finds no traps, and pushes the door open to reveal another room. They send the bat through, with Marellian urging it to especially check the high ceiling for lurking monsters. The door slams shut when Loraella lets go, so they jam it open with a rock that Frank goes out to get. On finding the room empty, Rayne skips through, and warns the others that the floor is wet and uneven. A couple of characters slip on the wet floor, but none of them fall over. There is an exit north from this room, and again Marellian sends the bat forward to check for lurking monsters.

The corridor turns west, and in the middle of the passageway lies a body. It is lying face down, and it’s back seems to be shredded by claw wounds. There are weals around it’s throat. Daveak examines the corpse, and finds that it has something clenched in it’s right hand. Gently prising the clenched fist open, he reveals a gold pendant (which is appraised by Marellian at a value of around 500gp). Wandel tells the party that he recognises the corpes; it is Arty, the leader of the group who they are here to find. When asked how he knows this, he reveals that he used to do some scouting jobs for the prospector’s guild, and he knows quite a few of it’s members. Frank asks Marellian if he would like to say some prayers over the body, but Marellian simply replies no. They leave it where it lies, and continue onwards.

The corridor then turns south, and opens into a large room with a vaulted ceiling. Marellian’s bat makes out two figures clinging to the roof, so Daveak lights an arrow and fires it at these figures. They are revealed to be chokers, which Marellian describes in fine detail, having read all about them in a book. They are easily despatched without injury to the party.

Elden asks Frank for a boost up to see what treasure the dead Chokers have in their lair. He grabs a brass mug, but loses his grip and falls, bruising his ego. Rayne gets boosted up next, and dislodges a large pouch of gold coins, which spill over the floor. She gets a fire opal pendant, and passes Loraella a pearl drop ear-ring.

There is a door in the western wall, which is again checked for traps. Finding none, it is opened to reveal yet another room. In the center of this room is a large stone sarcophagus, which is decorated with scenes of courtiers and the symbol of a black moon. Three of the party are needed to open the lid of this sarcophagus, which reveals a Mummy. Marellian, Rayne and Elden are paralysed by fear, but Frank, Daveak, Loraella and Wandel manage to defeat it without any help from their fellows. Daveak finds a cold iron masterwork longsword, which he gives to Wandel. Wandel declares that at last he has received some loot from their adventures, to which Loraella replies it’ll be the only thing he’s likely to get from this place. Daveak also finds a ring, which he gives to Marellian. Marellian deduces that it is in fact a magic ring of protection, and puts it on. For once his spellcraft is proved right.

There is a door to the north, which opens easily. This reveals a corridor that turns west yet again. The stone slabs of this corridor are in an alternating pattern of black and white. Finding no traps, they carry on (and luckily avoid the trapped slab that neither of the rogues spotted). This corridor leads into a large room, with a statue on the western wall. Further examination reveal a further two statues, in alcoves. The western statue is examined, revealing it to be a hooded figure, face uncarved, holding out one hand in a beckoning manner. The inscription on it’s base reads; ‘If you wish to flee time’s grip, into the cracks you have to slip.’ After further examining it is determined that if a heavy weight is placed in the statue’s outstreched hand, it drops slowly. The party decide to leave this until they have examined the other statues in this room, one in an alcove to the north east, and one in an alcove to the south east. The statue in the north-east is a head only, atop a pedestal. There is an inscription on the pedestal which reads; ‘Always restless, round and round, into dust the world is ground.’ Marellian ventures that if this head is rotated maybe the world would be destroyed? But the others think this is too far fetched. They leave it alone for now, and examine the southern statue. This is a large black shere, which has an aura of necromantic magic. There is a small depression atop the shpere, and silver lines spiral around it. There is also an iscription which reads; ‘The spiral of eternity, it turns for you, it turns for me.’

Thinking about the necromantic energy emanating from the sphere, Marellian pulls out the flute he found in the Dryad’s cave. He reasons that as this also has a necromantic aura, something might happen if he plays it. The flute in fact summons a skeletal rat, which climbs up his leg, much to his dismay. The rest of the party begin laughing at the sight of their mage attempting to ‘shoo’ the rat away, but in the end Marellian realises he has summoned the creature, and it sits upon his shoulder. They then send the bat to reconnoitre the two corriodrs leading off this room, one north and one south. Seeing the southern corridor is shorter and leads to one room, they go south.

The short corridor does indeed open up into a room. a large chamber some 50’X50’ with a vaulted ceiling. At the far (eastern) end is a giant slab of red stone, which covers the entire wall. Looking closer, they se that the floor in front of this slab has two further slabs of rock, one white and one black, that have sunk down into the floor. Thinking about the two statues turned and the grinding noises, they deduce that turning the statues must drop the slabs. They decide to go back and turn another statue. however, the statue they decide upon is the head. Turning it clockwise they hear the sound of chains raising something heavy, while turning it anti-clockwise they hear the clunking sounds of bolts being thrown.

Returning south to the large chamber, they find that the stone slabs have been lifted, and that there is now a large black stone slab across the eastern wall. Frank is sent back to turn the statues again, as he is the fastest runner. As he turns the statues, the slabs drop. Marellian worries what might be behind the slabs, and tells Frank not to turn any more statues. instead, they go north.

The north corridor they take turns back east, with several doors leading off. They stop at the first one, and Loraella checks it for traps. She manages to find one, but while trying to disarm it sets it off. The poisoned needle narrowly misses her, and she unlocks the door. It opens onto a room filled with bones. A pyramid of skulls dominates this room, and when Elden enters, they animate and fly at the party. Frank, Elden and Daveak fight them off, but it is Marellian, holding his holy symbol and channeling his God’s power, who destroys them all. Sadly, this power also destroys his skeletal rat, much to Frank’s dismay.

While continuing along the passage east, Wandel falls into a pit trap, as the slab he steps on suddenly pivots under him. He is unhurt, but finds that he is not alone in the pit: in here with him are the bodies of two of the prospectors. The others tip the slab up and throw him a rope, and he climbs out. Edging around the slab, the party make their way onwards.

The passage ends at a ‘T’ junction, with a door north and south of them. They decide to try the nrthern door, which is locked. Loraella tries to unlock it and fails. Rayne then tries, and manges to unlock it. The door opens inwards to reveal a 30’X30’ room with tapestries hung on the walls. In the center of the room is a stone sarcophagus. There is another door in the southern wall, in the opposite corner to where the party have entered, and they send the bat through. It comes back after seeing four ghouls. Elden is standing by the door, and also sees the ghouls, and he rushes off while drawing his sword to do battle. The others do not follow him, but instead concentrate on the sarcophagus. This one has decorations of chariots and warriors, and has a black sun motif. Frank, Daveak and Wandel prise off the lid, revealing another Mummy. Again three characters are held fast by fear; this time Rayne, Marellian and Wandel. Daveak fires arrows at the mummy, but fails to hit it once. Frank has better luck, and luckily the others join him as the fear wears off. Marellian once more channels his God’s energy, but this is not strong enough to destroy the mummy. Frank becomes enraged, and trades blows with the mummy, killing it but being wounded quite severely himself. Meanwhile Elden has taken on all four of the ghouls and lived, but he is also severely wounded. Marellian uses his God’s healing energy on Frank and Elden, but fails to heal all their wounds.

Rayne and Loraella look into the door in the south that they missed by going into the Mummy room. This opens to reveal a small area lined with shelves, upon which are urns and caskets filled with ashes. They rejoin the others as Marellian finishes his healing energy. The party move off through the room with the dead ghouls, and Frank wonders why there are four dead ghouls lying here, having missed seeing Elden fighting them. The ghouls had been snacking on the bodies of several prospectors, and it becomes clear to the party that they are unlikely to find any left alive. They leave this room and head north, to where the passage turns east yet again. At the end of the northern passage is another door. This door is also locked, but Loraella manages to open it. This reveals a large room, with several sacks lying in the north east corner. Daveak, Elden and Wandel examine these sacks, disturbing spores of mould that make their breathing difficult. They manage to exit the spore filled area, and shut the door behind them. They continue east along the corridor, coughing as they go, until they rejoin the others,

They find another door in the north, this time it appears to be simply stuck. Frank manages to push it open, revealing a company of skeletal soldiers standing to attention. The skeletons do not animate, and the party decide it would be best not to enter the room in case this triggers their animation. Frank closes the door again. they continue eastwards.

At the end of the corridor is a door in the southern wall. This reveals a small chamber in which is a final stone statue. This statue is of a woman, with arms outstretched as if imploring for help. An inscription on it’s base reads; ‘Waiting for that fatefull day, when all colours fade to grey.’ They decide it would be best not to turn the statue, as they have been battling foes and are worn out. instead, they retrace their steps to where there is a second southern door, which they think joins up with the first entry room. Their deductions prove correct, and they leave, deciding that it needs several clerics to deal with the undead infestation of the tomb.

On the way back to the Township, Elden and Wandel begin feeling unwell. Daveak examines them and discovers the spores from the mould has infected them with mind fire disease. They are in a stupor, and need help to get them back. Marellian guides them all to the Compassionate church’s hospice, where the clerics promise to help them. The others are checked over, but are ok, and are free to return to the council chamber to report on what they have found….

View
Battle of the Snowbold Lair
A rage of Orcs (part 1)

The party:

Daveak Swordhand (Played by Paul)
Elden Spirefield (Played by Matt)
Frank Wyvern’s Tooth (Played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore (Played by Leanne)
Marellian Ironcore (Played by Dave)
Rayne (Played by Amanda)
Wandel Windrider (N.P.C.)

Having captured the rogue trader, the party makes their way back to Flint-Harrow. With them goes the Snowbold prince, Yupp-Tar, to speak to the council regarding his people’s plight. As the group enter the Township, they meet up with the two missing members, who moan about people going off on adventures without them.

At Councillor Manos’ office, they find that the council is already in session, so they hurry to the council chamber. There they find the council debating some minor point of law. Councillor Whern asks what the party are doing barging in on a council meeting, and there is an uncomfortable silence, before Marellian finally speaks for the party. He accuses the council of failing to provide aid to their allies, which puzzles the council members. They have not heard any mention of the Snowbolds having problems. Councillor Manos then explains to the council of the rumours he had come across regarding the trading of weapons, and that he sent the party to find out the truth of these rumours. The party then explain that they did indeed find a trader, Kindle Burdick, in the process of selling weapons to the Snowbolds, but that there is a valid reason for this, as the Snowbolds are under attack by Orcs and Goblins. Prince Yupp-Tar then makes his plea directly to the council for their aid.

Warchief Amsta Tyke makes the suggestion that this would be a good opportunity to give her new untried warriors some combat experience, and that her son, Cruller Tyke would make a good commander. Prince Yupp-Tar tells the council that he would prefer to have people that are already known to the Snowbolds in charge of these warriors, and suggests the party be put in charge. Head Councillor Ore remembers that the Ironcore siblings’ grandfather was a renowned hero and leader of Township troops, and puts Marellian in overall command (to much sniggering from the rest of the party). Marellian explains that (being more like his father than his grandfather) he is sworn not to hurt peoples. Loraella tells him; “They’re not peoples, they’re goblins!” which flummoxes him. Having a crises of faith, he begs for time to consider, while he goes off to speak to a superior of the church. The answer he is given reveals that goblinoids have a lack of compassion, and if he cannot get them to repent their sins, they must be destroyed. Feeling better at these words, Marellian accepts the council’s commission, and leads the Township’s half-Orc troops to battle. Kindle Burdick is placed in the Township’s cells until his future trial.

After a forced march to the Snowbold lair, Marellian sets up his forces in a pincer formation to cover the diverging tunnels from which the enemy will arrive. In the right hand pincer, Command of the (slightly unhinged) Tempest troops is taken by Frank, the Hound-nose archers are commanded by Daveak and the Tyke troops are made Marellians bodyguard (which pleases their haughty nature enough to stop them bickering about their primacy). The left hand pincer consists of the Greatfist warriors, led by Elden, the Bloodhearts led by Rayne, and the Cottar sneaks led by Loraella. The snowbold warriors are held as a reserve force, as they are armed only with makeshift weapons. Marellian explains his battle plan: The left flank is to hold the line.
The right flank is set up to catch the orcs coming from the right in a pincer, being the first group that was spotted. The archers were to weaken them, then when the enemy closed in on the archers, the Tykes and the Tempests lay in hiding down the side tunnels ready to leap out.

As he finishes, the scouts Loraella sent out return, informing them that the enemy has been sighted. Marellian brushes himself down, and heads forwards to give the enemy a chance to surrender.

Using his magic, Marellian projects his voice down the main tunnel, inviting the leader of the enemy forces to parlay. An Orc chieftain comes forwards, and the two eye each other up and down. Marellian tells the Orc that if he and his troops do not give up their warlike ways and embrace compassion he will have no chioce but to destroy them. The Orc replies that these lands will soon be Orc lands, and all the occupants of the lands will be slaves of the Orc king. Seeing that the Orc will never embrace compassion, Marellian shoots his crossbow, wounding the chieftain. The Orc retreats, shouting that for such an act Marellian and all his troops will die. He yells out in Orcish for his troops to destroy the defenders of the Snowbold lair.

As the Orcs advance, Rayne realises that it might be possible for the ceiling of the tunnel to one side of her troops to be brought down, thereby protecting her flank (and splitting the Orc forces). she calls on the Snowbolds, who quickly run up and set about the rock with their hammers. Before the Orcs reach the defenders, the Snowbolds complete their task, shutting of the tunnel. Marellian hears the sound of falling rock, and wories what his friends are up to. Like all commanders, he realises that his careful plans may have fallen apart by the first shot of the battle.

As the only humans, Daveak and Wandel are unable to see much in the gloomy caverns. Rayne gives Wandel her everburning torch, and tells him to be a light bearer for Daveak. He thanks her and heads off to the other group, telling Marellian of Rayne’s idea for the tunnel. Realising his manouever will not work with the tunnel now closed, he tells Daveak to fire and retreat, so that the warriors behind him would take the enemy’s charge. Daveak says that he will retreat while he thinks there is still enough time left. Frank’s troops are eager to engage the enemy, and close up with Daveak’s, making it harder for the archers to retreat.

Meanwhile, Rayne, Loraella and Elden see goblins pouring out of the twin passages ahead of them. They use their missile troops, and wipe out the goblins in one passage, leaving it’s Bugbear leader with no troops to command. Rayne then attacks the Bugbear, and kills it in seconds, to cheers from her troop. Elden leads his troop into battle agains the remaining Goblins, where he outperforms his men, making them a little grumpy. With supporting fire from Loraella’s troop, the goblins are wiped out, and Elden takes on the Barghest leading the Goblins, killing it with ease. There are mumbles from his troop that he is a glory hound, and they head off on their own, to join the battle they can hear in the other tunnel. Rayne goes with them, but her troop remain to see if there are any goblin stragglers up the tunnel.

The right hand group has a much larger enemy force to fend off, with several groups of Orcs and Goblins. Daveak and his troop continue firing on the Goblins down a passage to the right, as Frank’s troop head north to take on the main Orc contingent. Sadly the goblins, although much reduced in number, are faster than Daveak anticipates, and swarm his men as they retreat. a group of Orc howlers slam into Frank’s troop’s flank, and some of his men are killed; the first casualties the defenders have taken. Frank himself is wounded, but manages to reform his troop alongside Daveak’s troop.

Marellian’s Tyke warriors demand that he let them join in, and he relents. They swarm forward, but this prevents Daveak’s men from retreating further. The stress gets to Marellian, and he faints. Fearing that their commander has been brought low by enemy magic, Prince yupp-Tar rushes to Marellian’s side, and tries to wake him. His Snowbolds also try to join the battle, making the passageway extremely congested. when Rayne and the Greatfists come down the passage from the other pincer, they find themselves unable to join the battle. when the others return from their now cleared tunnels, Elden finds this situation funny, and begins to taunt ‘his’ Greatfist troops. a slanging match ensues.

The snowbolds again ease this situation, by breaking through the sidewall of the tunnel so that the troops may gain more space to pass through. Rayne is about to rush through to join combat, but Elden pushes her aside. She refrains from carving the skin off his back, and instead uses her athletic prowess to vault over the back of a Tempest warrior. The Greatfists continue to slag off Elden, saying that he prefers to push around little girls than be a good leader. Elden replies that he would duel the lead Greatfist after the battle was over.

At this moment, Marellian awakens to the gentle slaps of prince Yapp-Tar. He reassures the prince that the enemy magic has weakened enough for him to get up. He asks prince Yapp-Tar if the battle is over, but sadly it is still going on. As they watch, the full force of Flint-Harrow troops push the goblinoid army back, and the Orc cheiftain is killed. The remaining Goblins turn to flee, and are struck down as they run. An Orc battle priest tries to sneak around, but his clearance of the fallen tunnel with magic is too late, and he is shot by Loraella. Frank charges in and delivers the death blow. When the tally is counted, the Party’s troops have in the main only taken minor wounds, and a few dead Tempest beserkers, but have wiped out the goblin host. Prince yupp-Tar and his Snowbolds hold a grand feast to thank their liberators…

…While a lone Barghest slinks off in wolf form to inform the Orc King of his army’s defeat.

View
Missing characters..
(Or, what Elden and Daveak did next...)

There is a tradition that started with the first group of Holy Winter players, that when a player is unable to play a session, their character is deemed to be either ‘too drunk to be able to adventure’, or ‘there in body, but too hung over to contribute to the adventure’. One good example of this was during the adventure of the ‘Snowcat Hunt’, where a player was late turning up. His character spent the first day of the adventure tied onto a sled, pulled across the snow by the other characters, while he slept off his drink. So, to continue this tradition:

Elden:

After waving goodbye to the rest of the party at the end of ‘Dark Water’, Elden went on the mother of all benders. Maybe he was drinking to prevent the nightmares of black tentacles reaching for him from out of the inky water, or just in celebration of being alive. Whatever the reason, it was said by onlookers that his partying would not be out of place in the temple of Agriculture and Fertility.

His generousity made him many new friends, all eager to join him in his revellry. As he weaved his way from tavern to tavern, a few stayed with him, preventing footpads from relieving him of his purse. He heard many stories, from tales of woe and missing people, to fantastic tales of wandering snowmen and ghost ships sailing across the snow. One even told of some master thief, known as the Red Rose, who (it was claimed) stole a chest of money from under the bed of the enforcer of the merchant’s guild, while the enforcer and his mistress were asleep on the bed.

At last, his money pouch emptied, he returned home, to recover. Missing the bedroom, he instead fell asleep on the hearth-rug, where he remained comatose throughout the day. So deep was his slumber that he never heard the loud knocking of the council page on his door. By the time he finally woke, his adventuring friends had already set out to the Snowbold lair, to confront Kindle Burdick.

Daveak:

The sights and sounds of the Township can be a little overpowering for more sensitive souls, and so it was with Daveak. Solitary by nature, he slipped off into the surroundings to find a little peace. He wandered about happily for hours, checking on the local fauna and flora, and enjoying all that was good in nature.

Finally, he came across an encampment of charcoal burners, who welcomed him and offered him food. Accepting their offer, he found himself wolfing down a hearty stew, and, as the sun set, one of their number produced a flask of ‘Charcoal filtered Voddie’. The flask was passed around the circle of men, and Daveak enjoyed the burning feeling as it slid down his gullet. Unused to such a potent brew, he was soon fast asleep, and the Charcoal Burners gently picked him up and put him to bed on a spare pallet.

The next morning, he woke first, and was embarrassed by their kindness. He quietly slipped away from camp, and wandered further. Soon, he heard the sounds of marching feet, and slipped onto his belly to peer over a ridge of rock. There below, he saw a group of goblins, hauling a large cage. A large Orc overseer with a whip was pushing them to march faster, and thanks to the teachings of his old mentor, Daveak was able to make out it’s words: It was telling them to move faster as the Master’s messenger must have his mount. Then, Daveak realised what was in the large cage: A wyvern, bridled and saddled. He waited patiently for the large group to pass, the slid his way back down the ridge, and begun to make his way back to Flint-Harrow…

View
Rogue Trader
(And not the warhammer 40K kind)

Characters present:

Frank Wyvern’s Tooth (Played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore (Player absent, but played as N.P.C. by her request)
Marellian Ironcore (Played by Dave)
Rayne (Played by Amanda)

It has only been two days since the party’s return from the Shrine of the Lady of the Healing Waters, but a lot can happen in two days.

Marellian has discovered a new calling, and has begun his training as a priest of the Compassionate Church. He has, however, failed to reach communion with his new god, and remains unable to cast divine spells. This set-back has not dimmed his enthusiasm, and he is even more determined to uphold the morals and tenets of his new faith, in order to become a better priest.

Frank has learnt to channel his rage in new ways. He has been practising a move he calls ‘The Wyvern’s Spring’, in which he leaps into battle, axe raised above his head. When he tried this in the practise ground of his clan’s holding, his opponents found it terrifying.

Daveak has been practising with the bow, and has managed to increase his rate of fire. He has decided to concentrate on his Archery, rather than get into melee combat, reasoning that the others in the party are more melee focused. He has also been taking in more knowledge about the geography and nature of the land.

Loraella has realised that she enjoys seeking out and finding traps. Indeed, her recent dabblings in trap finding and opening have honed her instincts, and she now has an uncanny knack of getting out of the way of blast effects. Since the revelation of her old clothes being given to charity, she has avoided her brother.

Elden has been practising his swordplay, and can now deliver a more powerful blow (at the expense of accuracy). He is hoping that this will lead into a great sweeping blow that will cleave through his opponents.

Rayne has now found her feet, and is no longer content to be the junior member of the party. She wants to be treated as an equal to the others (to which they reply they’ve always treated her as an equal, but she’s been quiet and thoughtful rather than being ignored).

A council page has been searching for the party all day, but has only managed to find four out of six. Those he has found, he informs that they are requested to meet with Councillor Manos (Prospector’s Guild) in his private offices.

When they arrive at the offices, they are met by a scribe, who goes off to inform the councillor of their arrival. He returns quickly, and informs them that Councilor Manos will see them shortly. Frank takes this opportunity to visit the office privvy, while Loraella listens in on the idle chatter of the two militiamen guarding the offices. Rayne wanders round the room inspecting the rich furnishings, and Marellian waits patiently for the councillor to arrive.

In a short while, Councillor Manos appears, and asks them to join him in his private office. There he tells them that he has heard some disturbing rumours, and would like them to investigate the truth behind them. He explains that it has come to his attention that certain members of the merchant’s guild have been breaking the Township’s trade treaty with the Snowbolds, by selling them weapons and armour. Such violations of the treaty could have terrible repercussions, as it could threaten the safety of the Township. Snowbolds and Townsmen have been in peace for years, but if they are armed, the Snowbolds could decide to take by force what they usually trade for. Manos asks the party to look into these allegations, and bring back their findings to him, so that he can put this matter before the council.

Marellian asks if Manos has any specific leads, to which he replies that his scribe has a list of those merchants licensed to trade with the Snowbolds (It is not said, but implied that a non-licensed trader would have been discovered by now). Leaving Manos’ private office, Marellian goes off to speak to the scribe. Rayne uses this unwatched moment to have a peek around the rest of the offices, and finds a map with a highly detailed surrounding area to Flint-Harrow on it, which she discretely pockets.

The scribe informs Marellian that there are currently five merchants licensed to trade with the Snowbolds, and gives him a piece of parchment with five names scribbled on it. The party decides to go down the list in order, although Marellian has a gut feeling about one of the traders, one ‘Kindle Burdick’.

The first trader they track down is Travis Redbird, of the Ridbird Trading company. He is a jovial man, quite portly, with a bushy black beard. Frank and Marellian decide to play ‘Good cop, bad cop’ on him, while Loraella distracts his customer and Rayne searches his wares. The rather intimidating figure of Frank is enough to make him confess all his sins, but trading weapons to the Snowbolds is not one of them. They find that he is selling the Snowbolds foodstuff that is considered unfit for consumption by rich townsfolk. As they are leaving, the customer is heard demanding a refund for spoiled food, to which Frank once more leans on the trader to gain the customer a full refund. Rayne then remarks that maybe they should ask him if he has any idea who would be likely to sell arms to the Snowbold, to which he replies Darnel Ericole is known to be in financial difficulty, and is on the verge of selling up. He would be the most likely.

The next trader on the list is Solien Terrie, a pale, blonde woman who sniffs a lot. Here, Frank tries a different tact, and goes for a charm offensive. To his (and everyone else’s) surprise, it works wonders, and Solien opens up to his flattery. She confides in him that rather than being a trader, she is more a transporter of goods. When asked who she transports goods for, she confesses that she is in fact an agent for the Free Villages, a group of hamlets made up of people who have fled the oppression of guild law in the Townships. She begs the party not to reveal her secret, as in the past the guilds have sent armies to crush all who oppose their way of life, the last being under the leadership of Akizellian Ironcore (The grandfather of the two half elf siblings in the party…). Marellian is suddenly rather uncomfortable, and Loraella pretends not to have heard Solien’s words. Rayne, meanwhile, has been looking around Solien’s workplace, and finds sleeping pallets. Solien explains that she helps people escape from the Township, and that these are some of those who are declared as ‘the missing’ (but not all). The party tell Solien that her secret is safe with them. As they leave, Frank realises that they forgot to ask Manos how much they would be paid for this job. He then muses that he’d like to visit with Solien again later, but this time on his own.

After two strike outs, they move onto number three on the list, Marybeth Townsend. Marellian tells them he’s sure she has nothing to do with selling weapons, as she’s one of the main benefactors of the compassionate church, and runs the Townsend soup kitchen. for the sake of completeness, they carry on to the soup kitchen, where Marellian is greeted by Priest Token, one of the supervisors of the volunteers at the soup kitchen. Marellian explains that they are on a special fact finding mission from the council, and wish to speak with Mistress Townsend, to which the priest leads them off towards her private dwelling. Rayne decides to stay behind and speak to some of the down and outs in the soup kitchen, hoping to find some gossip regarding missing people.

Marybeth Townsend is aghast at any suggestion that her mission to the Snowbolds would be supplying them with weapons. She explains that she takes donated clothes (such as those Marellian gave her), food and blankets to the misguided creatures, and talks to them about the god of compassion and a vision of a fairer world for all. Frank speaks up, asking if she knows of anyone who would sell arms, to which she asks him his name. when he tells her, she comes over all tearful, explaining that fifteen years ago, a young half-Orc woman was brought to her door heavily pregnant and in danger of losing her life and that of her unborn child. It seems that her family had some silly idea that she should give birth without aid, to show the strength of her blood, but the baby’s father brought her to the mission for help. Marybeth’s late husband callled upon the power of the god of compassion, and the child was delivered on her kitchen table (where they were presently sat around). The parents named the child Frank in honour of Marybeth’s husband, and it was Marybeth who ushered Frank into the world. Marellian and Loraella both wipe away tears at this happy reunion.

While this revelation is going on, Rayne is talking to a young woman called Aliusa, whose husband is missing. She tells Rayne that he is the only one of the missing who was not last seen in the Township, as he was one of a bunch of charcoal burners who set out over two weeks ago. The rest have returned, but they were unable to locate her husband, Pinner. She describes to Rayne the clothes her husband was wearing when she sent him off, and Rayne realises that these clothes match the description of the clothes of the corpse the party found on their first adventure. She asks Aliusa if anybody is looking into the missing people in the Township, to which Aliusa replies there were two militiamen looking into it, but they have now gone missing too. Rayne tells Aliusa if she finds anything out about her missing husband, she will return .

Next, Rayne talks to an old man called Tormand, who claims to have once been a miner. He tells her that he has been unable to work since he came face to face with the dead of the (now abandoned) mine where the Frosterlings performed their unholy ceremony. He claims the restless souls of the dead still haunt the mine, and that is why the mine was abandoned. Rayne politely makes her excuses, convinced the old man has lost his mind.

Finally, Rayne talks to Wandel, a young ranger who is down on his luck. Wandel claims to know the area around the high pastures and the Snowbold lair very well, and tells Rayne he often saw Kindle Burdick and his porters struggling through the snow, heavily laden with goods. When Rayne asks how often , he tells her Burdick travels to the lair at least once a week. Rayne decides to hire Wandel, as Daveak the ranger is not with the party, and they haggle over his fee. In the end, Rayne manages to get him for three gold pieces, and 5% of any treasure they find on their adventure. She tells her new hireling to follow her, and she’ll introduce him to the rest of the party.

Frank, Loraella and Marellian are still sitting round Marybeth Townsend’s kitchen table when Rayne appears, Wandel in tow. She explains what she has discovered, which reminds Loraella that she overheard the two militiamen back at Manos’ office talking about two of their number who had gone missing, and been declared deserters. Apparently, there was now a reward for their return, dead or alive.

Marellian is glad to hear that Rayne has found someone who is looking for a missing person with clothes that match those they found, and he hurries off to fetch the clothes. When he returns, the party go off to see Aliusa. Seeing her husbands clothes, she is quite distressed, telling them that she knitted those woolen mittens herself. Upon hearing that his body was found in the shelter wood, she asks why a charcoal burner would consider going into the wood, where the spirit of the wood is known to guard against desecration of it’s trees. She asks the party to find out for her why her husband was there, and they say they will try to find the answer for her. Leaving her to her grief, they set off to find the next name on their list.

Kindle Burdick’s shop premises is in the lee of the trader’s hall. It is closed up, and when the party knock, nobody answers. Frank knocks louder, bringing out an old woman from a neighbouring building. she tells the party that mister Burdick is off trading with the Snowbolds, and left only this morning. They spend a while to consider their options, while the old lady wanders off again. In the end, they decide to break into his shop to find any evidence of wrong doing. Loraella keeps a lookout, while Rayne easily picks the lock. With Loraella still lurking around outside, the others have a look around the shop.

Rayne considers that Burdick might have trapped his shop in case of snoopers, and carefully searches around for traps. Instead, she finds a secret trap-door under a large table, which Frank and Wandel move out of the way. Lifting the trap-door, Rayne and Marellian look into a secret cellar where empty weapon racks line the walls. There is also evidence of mineral oil, used to keep weapons from rusting, found on the table they have just moved. They all agree that this evidence is not strong enough to convict Burdick, but it does look highly suspicious. Marellian suggests waiting for Burdick to return, and force him to reveal his secret, but the others believe it would be far better to catch him in the act of selling arms to the Snowbolds, and Wandel tells them he can lead them to the Snowbold lair easily. At that moment, Loraella enters the shop, telling them that the militia were coming. Rayne uses her innate ability to call down darkness, and they all hide under her magic while the militia pass by. Making sure nobody is watching, they slip out of the shop, and Rayne locks the door behind them.

The trail to the Snowbold lair winds north east, and soon they enter the area known as high pastures. There, they meet a shepherd, who tells them to watch out on the trail ahead, as he’s seen wolf tracks. Wandel is confident that wolves would not attack an armed party, and they continue onwards. Pretty shortly the trail slopes down from the high pastures, and they walk along the ‘Last Doggie Trail’. Rayne wonders if the traders would have set traps for anyone following them, and spies out the trail. She finds no sign of traps, but does see a small camp, that seems to have been overrun. Dead bodies lie scattered around, and tents have been flattened. The bodies, upon closer inspection, are of Dwarves. Frank finds one who is not yet dead, and uses first aid to stabilize the unconcious Dwarf. Marellian then calls upon the power of compassion to heal the Dwarf, but his feeble efforts are only enough to raise the Dwarf to conciousness. The Dwarf asks them who they are, to which Rayne asks who he is. He gives her a dirty look and replies that he asked first.

On hearing that they are adventurers from Flint-Harrow, he replies that he doesn’t know what is worse, the fact that Goblins managed to surprise him, or that he was saved by ‘Humans from Flint-Shallow’. The party do not pick up on his mis-pronounciation of the Township’s name, but instead ask why he and his fellows were here. The Dwarf, whose name is given as Garian, replies that they were a scouting mission, out to see what had got the goblins all stirred up. Goblin raids have become more frequent around the Dwarf holdings lately, and they wanted to know the reason why. Frank asks why goblins would be raiding so close to this area, to which Garian sniffs, and says that he smells the stench of Orc upon Frank. Frank replies that he just smells something foul about the Dwarf.

At that moment, there is a ‘twang’ of a bowstring, and an arrow flies past. Garian growls that the Goblins have returned. A group of Goblins, riding Worgs, bears down on the party. Unseen by Marellian, four more Goblins appear from behind the party, taking aim with their crude bows. Marellian tells the others to ensure the wounded Dwarf is in the center of the party, but Frank leaps off in a rage, striking at a Worg while unseating it’s rider. Rayne spots the Goblins in the trees behind the party, and fires her crossbow at the one who looks to be their leader. Her shot goes wide, but alerts Marellian to the threat behind.

The Goblins fire their bows, but hiding in the snow must have warped the bowstrings, as all their shots go wide. The same cannot be said of the Worg riders, as one of them strikes the wounded Garian, killing him instantly. Wandel strikes the Worg closest to him, while Rayne’s second shot finds it’s target, wounding the Goblin leader.

Marellian runs wildly towards the Goblin archers, and uses his magic to knock two of them unconcious with a spray of colour. The other two are shaken to see their leader felled, and fire wildly, missing again. Frank chops soundly at the Worg, killing it, but gets hit by it’s rider’s short sword. Wandel again hits his enemy, but fails to kill it.

Marellian repeats his feat of magic, this time on the other two Goblin archers. With the threat of arrows gone, Rayne attacks the Worg riders, hitting one with a flank attack, and killing it. It’s Worg bites Frank, injuring him quite severely. Frank returns the favour, killing it with a mighty chop of his axe, while Wandel finally kills his Worg adversary. The last two Goblins are killed with ease, but Marellian complains that they should not be killing sentient peoples. He ties up those his magic felled, using their own ragged clothing as ties. Wandel winks at Frank, and takes Marellian off, leaving the others to give the tied up Goblins the death blow.

Finally, they arrive at the entrance to the Snowbold lair. There, two large Snowbold warriors stand guard. Rayne is all set to attack them, but Marellian convinces her that it would be best not to, as they are still considered allies of the Township. She relents, and lets him speak to the guards.

It seems the Guards do not have much of a grasp on the trade tongue, but seem to think that the party are part of Burdick’s entourage. They let the party in, gesturing off to where the trader and his porters are meeting with the Snowbold hierachy. As they make their way through the lair, the party realise that the Snowbolds seem frightened of something, and are preparing to leave suddenly. Larger warrior Snowbolds seem on edge, as if they expect something terrible to happen to them.

The party enter the chamber where the Snowbold king is entertaining the trader delegation. They enter just as Burdick shows the king a rather nice leather belt, complete with scabbard and sword hanging from it. another of the Snowbold nobles is testing the sharpness of an axeblade with his thumb. They have managed to catch Kindle Burdick in the act.

Marellian announces that Kindle Burdick is under arrest, for breaking the laws of the Township regarding trade with the Snowbolds. The Snowbold king, Yap-Tar, is a better speaker of trade tongue, and tells the party that the Snowbolds have been trying to ask the council for aid for weeks, but only Burdick would help, and only then by selling weapons. Yap-Tar explains that the Snowbolds are under siege from a large Goblinoid force. This force is led by someone called ‘The Graveller’, an Orc king. The Snowbolds are a peaceful race, but have to defend their homes from this menace. The party realise that if the Snowbolds should fall, not only would Flint-Harrow loose a good trading partner, but gain a strong foe close to it’s borders. They agree that they should return to the Township with Burdick, but that a Snowbold Emissary should also accompany them, along with a ‘gift’ of a large assortment of gems, to plead with the council for aid.

Yap-Tar sends his son, who is well versed in the trade tongue. Burdick and his men go quietly. Wandel bemoans the fact that they haven’t found any treasure on this adventure, and he has risked his life for the party for the grand sum of 3GP.

To be continued…

View
Dark Water
Tendrils of corruption

The Party

Daveak Swordhand (Played by Paul)
Elden Spirefield (Played by Matt)
Frank Wyvern’s Tooth (Played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore (Played by Leanne)
Marellian Ironcore (Played by Dave)
Rayne (Played by Amanda)

It was been a week since the party investigated the problems in the heating system. During this week, Marellian has been extremely busy. Not only has he managed to scribe several scrolls, he’s also created a flask of acid in his magic laboratory (bedroom). During the time he’s not been secreted away, he’s also been volunteering at the soup kitchen, where he was attempting to find out information regarding the missing people. Being naive, he accepted an invitation to join the compassionate church. Embracing their tenets of faith, he gives half his money to the church, and donates old clothes he saw lying around the house. Unfortunately, some of those clothes belong to his sister…

Meanwhile, Frank has been trying to get a job as a door bouncer, without much luck. he does get asked if he’d like to partake in a bit of cage fighting, but thinks it too similar to his childhood get togethers with relatives. Later in the week, he accepts an invitation to join his cousin’s betrothal party, where he gets asked to join in with a mock battle to take his cousin’s bride from her family, as part of the wedding ceremony. He says he’ll think about it.

Daveak spends the week wandering about in the wilds surrounding Flint-Harrow, where he practises his wilderness craft. He ventures back into town to buy some new weapons and other items of equipment, including a new shaving kit. He is curious to see some of the town’s paupers coming out of Marellian’s house, dressed in Loraella’s clothes, but sees Marellian waving them off, and decides not to inquire.

Where Rayne spends the week, nobody knows. The secretive Tiefling goes to ground, and cannot be found in any of her usual haunts. Not that Elden cares, for he has spent the week carousing and wenching in one of the more expensive (and cleaner) drinking establishments.

Finally, at the week’s end, the party (apart from the still missing Rayne) are reunited in the council chamber, where once again they are faced by Councillor Parathion and Andrews. There is also a member of the Archivist’s guild, who calls himself Havant. He explains that the rags found in the rust monster’s egg chamber could very well be remnants of fine tapestries from the lands before winter. During the clean up operation of the egg chamber, workers of the cinder path guild uncovered a passageway down into the depths. If this is where the rust monster came from, there may well be some buried building under Flint-Harrow. He asks the party to find out where the tunnel leads to, and if there are historic finds, to return with them, so that they may be studied.
Naturally, the party asks what this job pays, and are told that it would depend upon what they returned with. This is not good enough for them, so the Archivist offers 75GP each as a flat rate. Marellian readily accepts the offer, to the horror of the rest of the party. It appears that his acceptance was for all the party members, so they are unable to negotiate further. Marellian is oblivious to the dark looks that are thrown at him.

Andrews takes the party back to the egg chamber, where they can see a tunnel leading down. Bits of mashed eggshell cover the walls and floor of this passage, making it difficult to traverse. Daveak lights one of his torches, and leads the way. Loraella is put out by this, telling him she should be in front of the light. There is a discussion about the merits of low light vision compared to torch light, and Daveak is relegated to the rear of the group. At this moment, Marellian tells his sister he had something important to say to her, but he has forgotten it. Loraella tells him not to worry, she’s sure he’ll remember it soon.

They continue down, until the rough passage turns into a far grander affair, with dressed stone walls and flagstone floor. It opens out into a large room, with a passage leading East and West. The roof of the room seems to have given way in places under the weight of earth above it, and there are piles of rubble everywhere. Bits of other debris are mixed in with the rubble. Daveak begins searching the rubble, while Loraella searches for anything that might harm the party. Frank idly moves a bit of rubble around with his foot, and uncovers a small statuette of ivory, depicting a hooded woman holding a jug. He picks it up, much to the chagrin of Daveak (who thought he’d searched that bit and found nothing there).
At that moment, Rayne appears. When asked about her lateness, she merely shrugs her shoulders. The party decide not to make too much of an issue of it, and continue on.

Turning East from the first room, the party follow another corridor of dressed stone walls and flagstone floor. This leads into a second room, some 40’X40’. The middle of this room is sunk a few feet lower than the rest, with dark, slime-covered tiles. They hear the dripping of water. Elden decides to jump into the sunken area. He skids upon the slime, but keeps his footing. Where he has skidded, the tiles underneath seem to be in a mosaic patern. He begins to wipe more of the slime off the tiles, revealing a depiction of a water nymph frolicking with a male figure. Daveak and loraella check out the walls, and see that under the grime there are scenes of woodland glades and forest pools. Rayne merely wrinkles her nose at the slime.

Heading South, They reach an area of corridor with several doors. Daveak decides to try the door on the East wall, which opens into a small stone ‘priest cell’, with a long stone shelf running along the rear wall. He deduces that this shelf must have once been a sleeping platform, and takes a closer look. To his delight, he manages to find an ancient copper piece, wedged into a crack in the stone.

While Daveak is investigating the small cell, Loraella and Frank take the door on the West wall. In this larger cell is a small cot type bed, a chest of drawers, a desk and a chair. Loraella discovers that one of the drawers is stuck closed, and Frank heaves on it to open it. Inside the drawer is a leather pouch, with a brass ring inside it. He grins at Loraella, and flexes his biceps. Elden examines the desk, but all he finds is a dried up old inkwell.

It seems that all the doors on the East wall are to small ‘priest cells’, while the other door on the West wall opens into another larger cell, in which is a cot bed, a chest, a stool and a bookcase. Elden goes to look at the bookcase, but the scrolls rolled up on it’s shelves are too delicate to open, in case they are destroyed (this does not stop Marellian, who attempts to read one. He sees an ancient pre winter date and three lines of scrawled script, before it crumbles to powder). Loraella studies the locked chest, finding a poison needle trap. she feels this trap is beyond her capabilities, and calls her brother over. He manages to disable the trap, and she then realises she is unable to pick the lock. Rayne saunters over, and picks the lock, with a wink at Marellian. Inside the chest is a rather nice dagger and a bottle of some substance. loraella reaches in and takes them.

Carrying on further along the corridor, they come to a final door. Daveak smells a stange smell seeping out from this door. Warily, he opens it, to reveal a square room. A compase rose is inlayed upon the floor tiles and a pedestal stands in the center of the compass. The strange smell seems to be permeated in the wooden panels of the walls of the room, and they finally realise that the smell is of incense. Still wary, loraella studies the pedestal. There is a small octagonal depression in it’s top, as if something was once inset there. She asks Marellian if he thinks this pedestal has to do with magic, and he replies that it is probable, but he is unsure the exact details. They decide that if they find something with an octagonal shape, they will return here to try it.

Heading back to the North, they come across a large room. It appears that half of the room was destroyed by a landslide of rock, soil and ice. Wooden benches and tables are scattered around, and beakers, plates and cutlery lie where they spilled from the tables. Also in this room are five strange glowing bugs, which the party attack.
Just as Loraella is firing upon one of these firebugs, Marellian tells her he has remembered what he was going to tell her: He has given away all her old clothes he found lying about the house! She nearly misses from the shock, but puts her fury to good use, and kills the bug. Later she and Marellian have a heated discussion about other people’s stuff (and to teach him a lesson, she picks his pocket of some gold, to replace her missing clothes).

The firebugs are killed easily, with only Elden taking damage, which Frank attempts to heal. He binds Elden’s wounds, but when Elden and Frank go to investigate the rockfall in the far side of the room, they discover it is home to a nest of giant ants. These creatures are hardly a threat, and are easily killed. Marellian mentions that all these creatures are unnaturally sized, or distorted in some way. He asks Daveak if he sees this, but Daveak does not answer. Rayne looks around at the cutlery, but decieds it isn’t worth collecting. Marellian picks some up instead.

As there is no way to continue further, the party return to the first room, and take the West passage. This turns North, and opens into a large square room. This room seems to be a lot colder than the rest of the complex. They search the room, and Frank finds a razor. As they search, a misty figure appears from out of thin air. He is lean and strangely elongated, but the half-Elves recognise him as the spirit of a full Elf. His lips do not move, but the party hears the words; “Help me!”
When he sets eyes upon the ghost, Marellian faints.
They stop to listen to the Elf spirit, who explains;
“Long ago, this place was known as the house of Well-Spring Hope. A temple and shrine to the Lady of the Healing Water, and a place of great renown. The wealthy and powerful would come here to relax. Then, one day, a great evil befell us. A creature of darkness and corruption was released into our water system. Before we became aware of it, it had poisoned the minds of many of our customers, and enslaved the minds of many of our staff. One by one we fell to the monster’s enslavement. The bath house gained a fell reputation, and people shunned it.
When the cataclysm struck, the bath house was covered over with rocks and ice. But we who died in the rubble were still not freed from our enslavement. The creature still holds us in thrall. It lurks in it’s inky black pool, and it’s tendrils seek out new life to corrupt. Please, I beg you; kill it, and end our torment. If not for us, but to prevent others falling to it in the future.”

They ask where this fell creature lurks, to which the spirit replies it is in the water supply to the rear of the complex. Elden asks what the creature is called, but the spirit does not know if the creature even has a name. Elden then asks what the spirit’s name is, but the spirit has been dead so long it has forgotten it’s own name. It then cries out;
“Oh no, it knows I’ve warned you. It’s coming for meee…”
An inky black shroud covers the wailing spirit, and it disappears from sight.

After this revelation, the party discuss what they should do. It is decided that they will explore further before confronting the beast. Instead of taking the passage that leads towards the rear of the complex, they turn East. This passage then turns to the north, where it leads into another square room, with a passage to the East. There is a tapestry on the north wall, which rayne goes to investigate. She is sure she can feel a breeze coming from behind the tapestry, and goes to move it. As she pulls on the tapestry, she is struck by some form of magic. Luckily, she is able to shake off it’s effects, causing it to merely dissipate in a flash of brown light, accompanied by a puff of dun coloured smoke and a loud bang. This startles the others, who were going to look down the Eastern passage. They see that Rayne has pulled down the tapestry, revealing a passage leading North. Rayne, Elden and Frank take this North passage, while Marellian, Loraella and Daveak take the East passage.

Rayne, Frank and Elden find that this passage leads directly to a great expanse of water. Fearing that this is what the Elf spirit meant, they quickly turn around and jog back to the others. Marellian is still slowly inching his way down the East corridor, and is amazed to see them back so soon. They tell the others what they have found, and the party carries on.

The Eastern passage turns North, and terminates at a long hallway. Along the walls of this hallway are hung the remnants of fine tapestries. Daveak and Loraella beging to take down the tapestries, and store them in sacks to take back to the Town. The others are eager to carry on, and the party takes an exit in the north wall. This also leads to the large area of water. They walk along the long, narrow walkway that runs East-West, looking around. They see another exit to the West that they have not yet explored, but before they get to it, Rayne looks into the black inky depths of the water, and a tentacle snakes out and tries to wrap around her. alerted to her cries, the party notice other tentacles whipping towards them. Marellian tries to see what is on the far shore, but his attention is focused on a large shape moving in the water. He and Rayne both see something resembling a large bloated squid with long rubbery tentacles, and a large bulbous form. One of it’s baleful eyes locks onto Marellian, and it snakes a tentacle his way.

The battle is fierce, but mainly one sided. Elden gives the thing a couple of powerful blows, while Frank throws the flask of acid that Marellian had created during the week (to their surprise it works). Finally, Frank enters the Orc rage of his heritage, and deals the creature it’s death blow. Only Frank is wounded by the thing, and then only slightly. All in all, a truly heroic encounter. As it sinks beneath the water for a final time, Frank slumps, exhausted by his rage.

Rayne, Elden, Loraella and Daveak decide to continue onward to the West, to see where the passage leads. Marellian stays with the exhausted Frank, and thinks up a way to get across the water. He asks Frank if he would be able to cross on a rope walk, explaining that he could enchant the rope to cross the water, feed through a ring bolt and return to this side. That would make a crude rope bridge fof Frank to cross. Frank tells Marellian to do it, while he recovers his strength.

The others find an old office, which smells of rat pee. In the center of the room is a large nest made from the papers of the office. In the nest are 7 dire rats, which swarm at Elden as he rushes in to slay them. He takes a few bites, but the combined attacks of Rayne, Loraella and Daveak help him to defeat his foes. Daveak finds a magic scroll in the nest, Rayne and Loraella find fine cloth, and Elden finds a wool tapestry that has been soiled by the rats. They return to the water area just as Frank is crossing on Marellian’s enchanted rope bridge.

Frank makes it to the far side, where he sees the remains of several bodies, whose blood has stained the walkway. Shattered statues lie in disarray, and bones lie scattered. Elden asks across the water how the statues got shattered, but Marellian explains that if the residents were possessed by the beast, they would have gained unnatural strength to pick up and smash the statues, even if the exertion killed them. Frank searches around, and finds a statue that the creature was unable to destroy. It is of the same hooded woman holding a jug, but the base of the statue is octagonal. Holding it above his head, he shouts back that he has found it, then carefully places it in his backpack, and returns across the rope bridge.

Hastening back to the room with the pedestal, they place the statue in the hole in it’s top, and stand back. At once, the room fills with the fragrance of flowers, and clean water pours from the statue’s jug, filling the pedestal with water. The faded colours of the tiles seem to brighten, and the walls lose their sooty streaks, to reveal painted frescoes of pastures and meadows. It is not just the room that is cleaner, for with it the party’s clothes and armour shines clean, while Elden and Frank’s wounds are healed. With this miracle, the party quickly fill their waterskins with this holy water, and make their way out. As they walk back to the entry tunnel, they see that their are signs of renewal everywhere. The sunken bath is now full of clean water, revealing bright mosaics of frolicking Nymphs and Satyrs. Frank and Daveak decide to have a shave in the bathhouse. Finally, they leave, and return to speak with the council.

The councillors are happy that the party have stopped this strange thing from corrupting it’s townsfolk, but are still wary of sending people down to the bath house. They have instructed the cinder path to seal up the passageway. they are interested in the possibilities, but need to know more about this lost goddess the party claim the bath house is sacred to. Councillor whern suggests sending someone to speak with the Dwarves, to which he is reminded that the last envoy to the Dwarves returned shaved bare, and that he is still devoid of hair some 14 years later. The party is told to go and rest, until the council decides what to do next.

The Archivist guild takes all the items the party discovered, and tells them that they will be paid in good time. They each get the 75GP Marellian aggreed upon.

Elden asks everyone if they would like to accompany him to his drinking haunt, but when he looks round, Rayne has disappeared again…
Marellian discovers that his money pouch is torn, and he has lost some gold. he assumes that it ripped when he fainted and fell over in the rubble . Loraella smirks behind his back, his missing gold in her money pouch.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.