The longest winter

Biological cleaning
if you go down to the woods today....

In Flint-Harrow

With Elden still in the glass house after his AWOL fro the guard, the rest of the party are at a bit of a loss regarding continuing their mission to find Zoastrian. Marellian is looking through his uncles old journals, trying to discover anything regarding his uncle’s deathbed confession, while Frank, Rayne and Elana are in the kitchen, being fed by an attentive Wilson.

Suddenly, there is a knock at the front door. Wilson opens it, and calls to Marelian that one of his friends has come to talk to him. Marellian wanders to the door, where the Halfling Druid, Hibbing Thorne, waits. Hibbing tells Marellian that he has recently returned from visiting the peat cutters (As Marellian had asked him to look over the place and try to ascertain why the dryad was so twisted) . He was on his way back home, but strange and unknown trees had refused him entry to Shelter Wood. Worse still, when he attempted to make contact with his teacher and superior in the Druid Circle, he was unable to reach him. He asks Marellian if the party can help him, as something is seriously wrong in the Wood.

The party are quick to agree to Hibbin’s request, and they set off at once. However, when they get to the township gates, they are accosted by Orcs from the embassy. The Orcs are reluctant to let Marellian leave town while there is still the matter of his trial still to clear up. Frank solves the problem by insisting he will bring Marellian back, on his honour. Given Franks word, the Orcs allow the party to leave.

In the wood

The party and Hibbin quickly reach the outskirts of Shelter Wood, where Hibbin points out several strange trees. He swears that these trees were not there a few days ago, but they look to the party as if they had been standing for decades. Rayne sends her Raven familiar off to see what it can find further into the wood, but it is shortly attacked by a flock of larger, violent, Red Ravens, and has to beat a quick retreat. These birds circle the party, guarding the tree tops so that neither Raynes Raven or Marellians Owl can scout ahead.

Sighing, Marellian starts to traipse through the trees, only to stop suddenly when he spots an unusual looking vine snaking it’s way towards him. Before it can reach his feet, he blasts it with his burning hands spell, setting it ablaze. The trees all seem to lean away from the heat, and the party manage to advance further into the wood.

As the foliage of the wood changes to yet another strange looking set of trees, the party notice that all the branches of these trees seem to be shaking, although there is no sign of wind. Suddenly, the branches whip forwards, throwing sharp dart like needles at the party. Hibbin, Marellian and Frank are hit, but only take minor wounds, and the party skirt around this area without getting too close to the trees again.

After working their way around the dart throwing trees, the party come across a tree whose girth is a tremendous size. Hibbin swears that this tree was never there before, although it looks centuries old. It bears strange large pods which darken as the party watch. From these pods emerge strange human-like shapes, but without proper faces and brown skinned. These pod people attack the party, some using whip-like arms as weapons, while others fire sticky sap from knotty holes in their heads. Once again, Marellian uses his burning hands to great effect, setting fire to the pod people and their mother tree. The party leave, behind them sounds of dying pops from burning pods and their occupants.

As they near the center of the wood, which Hibbin informs them holds the druidic circle, the party discover a large nest, in which are a couple of very large eggs. All thought of climbing the tree to retrieve these eggs are lost when the parent bird comes back; it is an enormous Gore-Crow, with a 30’ wingspan. It settles over it’s eggs and watches the party, but makes no attempt to attack them, so they decide to leave it alone, and continue onwards to the druid circle.

The Druid Circle

The trees around the Druid Circle are covered with some unknown glowing fungus, and blobs of slime cover the ground. In the center of the grove, where once the standing stones stood, is now a sickly green glowing gateway to another dimension. Trapped in this portal are the figures of a druid and a wolf. Hibbin tells the party that the Druid is his mentor, Gorlaus Bitterleaf

Standing just to one side of the portal is another Druid, this one seems more like a wild man of the woods than Hibbin and his mentor. He is accompanied by his animal friend; a huge Dire Bear, which lumbers around the grove. It is soon obvious that this wild Druid is responsible for Hibbin’s mentor being trapped in the portal, as he taunts Bitterleaf, who is unable to reply.

At Hibbin’s distressed urging, the party rush straight in to attack. Frank pits his strength against the Dire Bear, while the others fire missiles at the mad Druid. It soon becomes obvious that Frank has met a fierce opponent, as the bear grabs him in a hug and squeezes. Meanwhile, the others realize that the mad Druid has protections of his own, as their arrows fail to penetrate his bark-skin defence. Hibbin creeps around the grove, trying to find a chink in the enemy’s defences, while Rayne uses her Death mask to inflict damage on the mad Druid. It seems he will be no easy take down, as he is still able to cast a spell to enlarge a patch of entanglement that he had put in place earlier. This makes it harder for the party to get to him, but Marellian uses his burning hands once more to burn through the patch. Rayne uses her sorcerous powers to summon a snake to attack the Druid, but he replies with a summoned creature of his own, and she realises that his powers outstrip hers.

With all his strength, enhanced by his rage powers, Frank is able to throw off the Dire Bear, and attacks it with his axe. Although it manages to swipe him with it’s paws and open up deep gashes on him, his axe bites true, and he kills it. Severely injured, he can only watch from afar as Rayne goes toe to toe with the mad Druid, backed up by Hibbin and with Marellian and Elana giving support with missiles. Luckily, Raynes speed and shadow armour keep him at bay, while she slices and her raven pecks at him. Finally, the mad Druid falls, but upon his death, the gateway falls in on itself, taking Bitterleaf and his wolf with it. Hibbin cries out in shock, but his mentor is gone.

With the gateway gone, the strange plant and animal life from the other dimension quickly fade away, and the last of the green slime is eaten by a white pudding that ambles around the grove cleaning up. Hibbin informs the party that he had better stay in the grove a while until tings get back to normal, and thanks them for their help. The party return to flint-Harrow….

Back to Flint-Harrow

The Orcs are happy to see that Frank has kept his word, and Marellian is back in town to face trial. However, the Township is restless after the death of Head Councillor Ore, and various firebrands and agitators are stirring up the populace. With elections of the new council only days away, old rivalries are rearing their heads, threatening the peace tha Ore forged in all his years of office…..

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A Home and its possessions
Paths of the dead part 3

The Party:

Elden, the half-Elf Warrior (played as N.P.C.)
Elana, the Chronoid Time-theif (played by Leanne)
Frank, the half-Orc Barbarian (Played by Steve)
Marellian, the half-Elf Cleric/Wizard (Played by Dave)
Rayne, the Tiefling Sorcerer/Rogue (Played as N.P.C.)

The outer gates of Flint-Harrow open up to admit the party; Allowing them access to the area of no mans land. The first thing that strikes them is the Orcs have been busy: The new Orc embassy has been completed in the time they have been away, and dominates the north of the area. To the south, the alms house looks as ramshackle as it ever has, giving comfort that not everything has changed while they were away.

As they pass by the Alms house, movement from the Orc embassy catches their eyes: An Orc guard scurries off suddenly , no doubt to give word of their arrival. A beggar sits outside the alms house, and Marellian moves closer to give him some gold. The beggar catches hold of Marellians sleeve, and in a whisper warns him that there are some people out to make trouble for him in the Township. Marellian asks why he has been given this warning, and the beggar replies that Marellian has always been good to the down and outs, so they kept an eye out for him, to warn him if things were amiss. Marellian thanks the beggar, and the party move towards the inner gate.

The guards at the inner gate are smirking, and one pulls Elden to one side. He tells Elden that the captain is pretty annoyed with Elden for going on adventuring without letting anyone in the guards know. Elden has missed a lot of duty, and the captain isn’t happy about it. The rest of the party are quite surprised by this exchange, as Elden did not tell any of them about his job with the guards. Elden tells the party that they had better continue without him, and rushes off to see if he can placate the captain….

The remaining party members decide that they had best report their news to the council before doing anything else, in case they end up in someone’s bad books like Elden has. Marellian agrees, but insists that afterwards he must go to the compassionate church to report back to his superiors. Frank is quite comfortable with doing this, as he seems to be dreading having a family talk with his wife and father…

The council chamber has only a few members in it. Councillor Kinkaid explains that this is partly due to the early hour, and partly because Head Councillor Ore is on his deathbed, and the others are all squabbling over the upcoming elections. He, Manos, Parathion and Whern seem to be holding the council together at this time of upheaval. He motions the party to begin their report, but they are disturbed by the appearance of a legal advocate. This advocate is here to proclaim that Marellian has been accused of war crimes: that he did shoot a negotiator from the Orcs at the battle of Snowbold lair while the negotiator was under a flag of parlay. That Marellian and his friends did make off with an item of religious and historical importance to the Orcs, namely the death mask of Wild Hunter. These and other lesser crimes have been lodged

Elana moves closer to the advocate, intimidating him a lot, and he explains that he is just the court messenger. The Orc embassy lodged the papers with the court weeks ago, and informed the court by runner when they spotted the party strolling back into town…

The council get the advocate to agree that the party need time to work out a defence for their case, and possibly hire an advocate. The court will not be able to meet until the party finish their important work for the council. After the advocate leaves, the party ask what important work the council has. Councilor Kinkaid just smiles and tells them that they’ll think of something to stall the court. Meanwhile, he asks they finish their recital of everything that has gone on.

After the long recital is over, the council seem shocked at the news. They don’t seem too happy that they will have to rely on Zoastrian; someone thrown out of his guild. None the less, they charge the party with tracking down Zoastrian, and finding out how to vanquish the Dark Water beast. The party tells the council that they will try their best, but they are unsure how to find this elusive figure.

After the council dismiss them, Marellian declares he is going to the Compassionate Church. Having nothing much else to do, the others go with him. Unfortunately, the first person they bump into at the soup kitchen is (now archpriest) Token. He berates Marellian for bringing shame on the church, and tells him he should never have been allowed to stay in the church after the debacle with ‘that hell damned cat’. Marellian has no idea what Token is talking about (The others do though, and remember it was Token who was angry at them back then); as far as he is concerned, Whisper is running around somewhere free and happy…..

The Deacon comes to the part’s aid, telling Token that he is needed urgently in the infirmary. He also informs Marellian that his uncle, Covenas is very ill, and that Marellian should go to visit him as soon as possible. He tells Marellian not to listen to Token: he is a deeply troubled young man who needs better guidance. As far as Deacon is concerned, Marellian has far more compassion than Token will ever have, and it is that which makes him ideal as a priest of the compassionate church, not how well he can say his prayers and recite the tenets. He tells Marellian that although he knows Marellian has done nothing that he should be ashamed of, it would be better if Marellian keeps a low profile while he has a court case hanging over him, and keep away from the church for a while. Marellian is sad at this, but his reply is cut short by a distressed father, who asks the party if they can help him. His young son, Jascen, is missing . He was supposed to be going to a party with a new friend, and never returned. When the man went to the address, a big bruiser told him there was no jascen known there, and there was never any party. He asked the guard to help, but they returned to him saying that although there was a young boy of jascen’s description in the house, he did not answer to that name, and claimed not to know anything about the man who claimed to be his father, telling the guard the poor man was delusional. They told the man not to waste their time.

The party agree they will help the man, and set off for the house. Marellian casts detect magic, and is sure that the place reeks of necromancy. Rayne sends her Raven round to look in the windows, and through it’s eyes spots a very large and fat man who seems to be a butler behind one of them. She sends it round the other side of the house, and spots a young boy who matches the description the man gave them. He is reading a very thick book: something that no child of eight from a poor family would be able to do, even with the new school recently founded by the compassionate church….

The party decide to keep watch on the house, to see who comes and goes from it. They use Rayne for her superior hide in shadows and her bird familiar for this task,while Marellian decides it would be best if he went to see Covenas.The others decide they will go with Marellian, as they would be too conspicuous watching the house.

Upon arriving at Covenas’ house, they find the door is open, and Marellian walks in to find the family retainer, Wilson. He is carrying a tray of hot food, which he was about to take in to Covenas’ sick room. Marellian accompanies him, while the others have a gawk about the place.

Covenas is lying in bed, ashen faced. He sees Marellian and beckons him over. Wilson puts down the tray, and retreats, to give them some privacy.

Covenas grabs hold of Marellian’s hand, and apologizes to him. He explains that as a young man he idolized the General, and when the General died, he used his arts to make a clone. something was flawed, however, and the clone turned out nothing like the General in manner, being evil and mad. The clone managed to flee before Covenas could do anything to change it, so instead he concentrated on figuring out what had gone wrong before he made another clone. The second clone he made was better, but it still wasn’t the general come again: That clone was Marellian…….

Covenas asks Marellian to forgive him, but dies before Marellian can answer. Numb, Marellian opens the door to admit Wilson, who tells Marellian he will take care of the funeral arrangements . Marellian agrees, and walks out, with the bemused party members wondering what has gone on.

Marellian is shocked: his whole life has been manufactured. Numbly, he follows the others, as they decide now would be a good time fro Frank to be re-united with his family…

Frank’s wife, Maula, is glad to see him, and she is heavily pregnant. Frank wonders how when he’s been away from so long, but she reassures him that they made the baby before he left. She is sure that it will be a son. Frank remembers the words of Bagrob in his out of body experience and shudders. He goes to look for his father.

The Old Half-Orc is glad to see his son, but Frank is worried. He asks his father about his decision all those years ago to go to the human priest. His father tells him that the priests of the Half-Orcs told him that it was for the gods to decide if the infant lived or died, and they would not help, so he rushed his wife to someone who would. Frank asks him about the things Bagrob said about his ancestor, and his father maintains he had no idea.

FRank asks his father to help him, and they agree to visit one of the priests to discuss this curse and try to lift it together. Frank says his goodbyes for now, and the party head off to meet up with Rayne.

Reurning later to Rayne, they find from her that a man and woman came out of the house. They seemed to be interested in several beggars, before returning home with one of the beggars in tow.

Deciding it’ now or never, the party break in: Rayne picks the lock, and opens the door carefully. The room behind the door is dusty and unused. Tracks lead through the dust, leading towards a corridor. Rayne creeps forwards, while the others examine the room. The floorboards are rotten, and damp stains the walls. They realise that they will have to tread carefully.

Rayne listens at a door, and hears the noises of two people in the room behind it. It seems from the noise that they are engaged in sexual intercourse. One voice tells the other that it is much more fun in this new body. Rayne quickly tells the others what she has heard, and Marellian realises that the people in the house are all victims of some kind of possession, similar to a magic jar spell. This means that the party will have to disable them without hurting them.

The party come up with a plan: Marellian’s colour spray spell will be able to knock them out, and the others can tie them up. Sadly, Marellian forgets to watch his step, and steps on a broken floorboard. The couple in the room hear the noise, and jump out of bed, but Marellian is able to cast the spell in time to knock them out before they know what is going on. The others tie them up in the bedsheets, and Rayne picks the door lock to lock them in.

The next room they come to finds the young boy that Rayne’s familiar saw earlier asleep in bed. Rayne once again uses her lock picking to lock the door, and they move on. They come to a long hallway, with a door on the opposite side, and stairs down at the end. Rayne sneaks over to the opposite door and hears the voices of a boy and a girl. The boy calls the girl ‘Mother’, and tells her that this body was the only one they could get for her. He explains that a young body will last her longer. Rayne sneaks back to the others and explains what she’s heard, and they use the same technique again to disable the pair of possessed children. Marellian hopes there aren’t too many more, as he’s running out of spells.

They proceed down the stairs, to reveal a large room. The large butler is holding a struggling down and out, while a slender man holds a wand, and chants. A swirling, insubstantial figure floats about the beggar, seeking ingress. Hurriedly, the party step in to free the beggar.

During the fight, Rayne manages to break the slender man’s wand. At once the swirling form breaks apart, and drifts downwards into the floor. The big man and the slender man both fall to the ground in a faint. When they awaken, they are mystified as to where they are and what they have been doing. Marellia surmises that breaking the wand broke the spell of possession. He interrogates the slender man, who admits that he broke into the old house in search of treasure, and the last thing he remembers was picking up a black gemstone. Marellian organises a quick search for this gemstone, but it is nowhere to be found.

They return Jascen to his relieved father, and make sure that the others are fine, then return to dig up the floor of the house. Under the floor they find the bones of several humans, which they gather up for cremation in the temple. Hopefully this will prevent further possessions. Marellian tells the homeless men that they have saved if they need anything to go to the compassionate church and tell them he sent them. The party head off to find Elden….

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A night on the Ghost Barge
season 3 opener (part 2)

The party:

Elden, the half-Elf warrior (played by Matt)
Elana, the Chronoid Time-thief (played by Leanne)
Frank, the half-Orc Barbarian (played by Steve)
Marellian, the half-Elf Cleric-Wizard (played by Dave)
Rayne, the Tiefling Sorcerer-thief (Player absent: played as N.P.C.)

As the barge sets sail, the wintry landscape seems to blur, and in it’s place are visions of other lands. The party sees all manner of strange places, including a vast desert, a shining city, a grassy plain and a vast forest. In some of these places, people can be seen walking around and going about their everyday lives, but none of them seem to see the ship, or hear the party.

While traversing a shadowy, misty place, a vortex of darkness forms off the starboard bow. Shadows pour forth from it’s dark maw, and head straight for the ship. They take no action against the ship’s crew, but are drawn somehow towards the party.

The party fights them, in total silence all around, and none of the crew seem to notice (or if they do, they do not come to the party’s aid), but go about their jobs as if there is nothing happening aboard deck. Elden, Frank and Rayne, in the bow, bear the brunt of the hand to hand fighting, while Elana and Marellian use ranged attacks. One of the shadows comes near to Marellian, but instead of attacking him, goes for Elana. Elana’s magical nature seems to give the Chronoid some sort of immunity to it’s life draining touch, or maybe the fact that Elana does not age is behind it.

The shadows are vanquished, and the party are relieved to find themselves uninjured despite the ferocity of the shadow’s attack.

Marellian attempts to speak to the captain of the Ghost barge, but the captain either does not seem to hear him or deliberately ignores him. Inspecting the crew closer, Marellian determines that they are not quite in the same reality, as a sort of ghostly glow surrounds them. This would explain why they were not attacked by the shadows.

As the night wears on, another vortex opens up off the port side of the ship. This time, winged snakes of some unknown type fly towards the party. Again, they seem to ignore the crew, and again Elana seems to be a greater target then Marellian, who is standing closer to one of the snakes. Elden asks Frank if he can make a snakeskin coat out of the dead bodies, or maybe a winged cape.

The last of the winged snakes is killed, and once more the party seem to have escaped serious injury. Marellian, however, has used up several spells fighting off the shadows and snakes. He hopes that nothing else disturbs their journey, but his hopes turn out to be short lived…

Shortly before dawn, a third vortex opens ahead of the ship, spewing out winged devils. They swoop down on the ship, and two of them lift Elden up. Realizing that he will be lost in time forever if they carry him off, he struggles against his captors. Luckily, the rest of the party also realize this, and concentrate their fire on these two devils, causing them to loose their grip on Elden enough for him to squirm free. The party quickly make short work of the devils, and anxiously await the dawn.

As the first rays of light fall upon the land, the party once more see the familiar tundra of Qulom. The frights are not over though, as the ghost barge sails right through the body of a grazing mammoth. Luckily, the mammoth is unharmed by it’s passing, although the effect is quite unsettling on the party. As dawn arrives, they find themselves in a familiar part of the land: Dragonscar ridge. A gangplank is set down on the ridge, and the party disembarks. Marellian whispers to the captain that he will find some way to free the crew from their cursed oath. As the party step off the gangplank, it is withdrawn, and the barge fades from view as the day washes over them.

An hour later sees the party looking at the gates of Flint-Harrow Picking up their pace, they stride towards Home at last…….

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A big surprise and family ties...
Season 3 opener (part 1)
Frank:

The first thing Frank notices when he awakens is…. He’s naked.

The second thing he notices is…. It’s really hot.

The third thing he notices is…. He’s suspended by manacles, hanging from a stone outcrop that seems to be oozing some sort of fluid.

A voice from off to one side says; “Mistress, this one stirs.”
Looking in the direction of the sound, Frank sees an immensely tall and fat abyssal Orc. It wields a barbed whip, Which it uses on Frank.

Another, familiar voice replies; “Ah, Gidrak. you find your way here at last.”

Frank is confused at this, as he thinks the voice must be talking to someone else. Squinting, he makes out the massive bloated form of Bagrob, reclining on cushions.

“Yes,You. Your ‘Human’ name is nothing: a falsehood given to hide you from your true destiny. But you were mine from the moment you were conceived. Gidrak, I name you!”

Seeing Frank is still confused, she prattles on;

“There was a time, long ago, when the race of Orok were sorely beset. Their numbers dwindling and foes all around. They called on me for aid, and I, as goddess of fertility, gave them this boon; That they would become fecund, and grow to maturity faster . In exchange, every eleventh child would be stillborn – mine, to serve me as an army of unborn here.

Half Orcs were nothing to me; inferior and weak. Until one such called out to me in time of need. He asked me for aid in saving his family from Wyverns, and promised me the boldest of each generation of his line for champions in my Unborn. I was intrigued, and granted his prayer. Since then, until you, they never let me down."

At this, a grizzled Abyssal Orc champion walks into sight. There is something vaguely familiar about him, but Frank does not understand why. Until Bagrob greets the newcomer as ‘General Wyvernstooth’. Frank’s Unborn Uncle strides towards him, and spits on him.

Bagrob continues; "For his sin of denying me my due, your father has cursed your line. There will be no children born to your family.

Your only way to save the unborn son growing in your wife’s belly is to take your father to my temple, and sacrifice him to me by your own hand.

Do this, and I might even let you have my other toys back."

She gestures, and Frank’s eyes are drawn to a writhing fleshy pillar,which Frank senses somehow to contain the missing souls of his cousin and his new bride…..

The constant whipping finally causes Frank to pass out…

The Party

Frank awakens once more; this time to find he’s in a soft bed with silken sheets. More confused than ever, he looks around, to find that Marellian, Elden and Rayne are also within this sick room. An Elven nurse is busying herself around the patients. She seems glad to see that Frank is awake, but makes the mistake of telling him not to get out of bed just yet. He attempts to anyway, and manages to stand, although he is very weak. Soon, the others are also awake, and likewise try to get up. The nurse explains that they were all in a coma for a couple of weeks. Marellian looks around, and asks where his sister is. The nurse says that the four of them were all they found alive…

Marellian is distraught, and refuses to believe that his sister is dead. The nurse has no answers for him, but suggests that the queen will have more of the story. Marellian demands they go to see the queen right then; despite the nurse telling them they are all to weak, they manage to stagger out, Elden and Frank holding Marellian up betwwen them.

Outside the sick room, they find themselves in a familiar place; the Elven settlement they had travelled to. A large scorched area is alll that is left of the place where Loraella and the mad half elf called Feannar were standing when the Heartwood gem exploded. The nurse explains that the area was much worse, but Elven magic is repairing the damage to the plant-life.

Queen Fealinnar steps down from her throne to meet the party, and gives them her condolences for their loss. Marellian tells her that he doesn’t believe his sister is dead. She explains that they found the body of Fuddlemore, the Gnome about 30’ away from the blast, impaled on a tree limb, but that they did not find the bodies of her son or Marellian’s sister. Priests have also been unable to contact the spirits of the pair either. Marellian takes this as a sign that Loraella is not dead. The queen asks them to follow her outside, as there is something unexplained they need to see.

A tree in the courtyard is split in two, and in the middle of the tree is a statue of some kind. The Queen says that they have no idea how it got there, and it is not any statue they possessed. Marellian goes up to the statue and touches it: At his touch the statue speaks!

“Marellian. You are Marellian.”

Marellian replies that yes, that is his name. To which the speaking statue tells him; “You are our Brother.”

The party are shocked: what can this be? Is it truly Loraella?

It replies; “Call us Elana.”

However, the statue also calls Queen Fealinnar ‘Mother’, explaining that it contains the memories of both entities who perished with the destruction of the Heartwood Gem. It then says; “Memories tell us we should wear clothes.”

After the shocked party have given the creature suitable clothing, it follows them inside, where queen Fealinnar asks them the reason why they came to visit in the first place. The party explain about the buried shrine, and the creature who lurked there. They tell her about the strange insects that were able to poison humanoids and turn them into slave-like zombies. They tell her about their journey, with the Dwarves battling the Rock-Terror, and the Gnomes suffering the Clockwork Curse. And they ask her if she, or any of her advisors, can give them any information to help them in their quest.

Queen Fealinnor tells them a story about the four seasons; two gods and two goddesses. She then goes on to explain that there is only one person who would be able to tell them more, and tells them the tale of Zoastrian. She tells them that they possess something that would interest him enough to talk to them, and gestures at Elana…

Having found out all they can, the party is anxious to get back to Flint-Harrow. After all, they have been gone a while, and who knows what might have happened? Queen Fealinnor Is quick to suggest a way to get them home quicker: She explains that long ago a ship’s captain asked leave to navigate through waters the Elves claimed. In exchange, he gave a vow to come whenever the Elven ruler called: This vow still holds. The tales call sightings of this ship the Ghost barge. It being mid-winter;s night, They will be able to travel on the ghost barge for one night, and be at Flint-Harrow the following morning.

She warns the party that on no way should they leave the barge until morning, or they would find themselves lost in the mists of time…

After calling the barge, Queen Fealinnor turns to Frank, explaining that she has not truly thanked him for saving them from the Misty Malaise. She gives him a magic item: ‘The Horn of the Tempest’, saying that only one with great endurance can use it to it’s fullest potential.
(Elden mutters how come nobody ever gives him any magical swords….)

The party board the Ghost barge, and it sets sail….

End of part 1

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A Misty Malaise
Season 2 Finale

The party:

Elden Spirefield, Half-Elf fighter (played by Matt)
Frank Wyvernstooth, Half-Orc Barbarian (played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore, Half-Elf Rogue (played by Leanne)
Marellian Ironcore, Half-Elf Cleric/Wizard (played by Dave)
Rayne, Tiefling Rogue/Sorcerer (player absent; played as N.P.C.)

Fuddlemore, Gnome Monk/Sorcerer (N.P.C.)
Algrammar, Human captain of the ‘Merry Rose’ (N.P.C.)
Cilarelis, Captain’s wife (N.P.C.)
Jodrel, rescued sailor (N.P.C.)

After seven days more at sea, the ‘Merry Rose’ pulls up at the single dock that serves the hamlet of Rayside. Captain Algrammar thanks the party for all their help, and wishes them good luck in their travels, for here the ship will stay while he makes repairs. fuddlemore explains that the rest of their journey will be afoot anyway, and that this is the closest the captain could have brought them anyway. Jodrel is tearful at going ashore, as it marks the end of his sea-faring days. Marellian tells him if he journeys to Flint-Harrow, he’ll be able to have a good life, and Fuddlemore suggests that maybe he could become a riverman instead.

After so long at sea, the party are a bit unkempt and smelly, so decide to find a place where they can rest up and make themselves more presentable. Marellian stops an old washerwoman, and asks her where they can find a good inn or lodgings. She tells them that they would be best to go to the ‘Blue Bonnet’, where they will be able to use the steam room. She even suggests that if they want their clothes cleaned, that she will do their laundry for them. Marellian thanks her, and asks for directions to the Blue Bonnet. She points it out to them, and they head for it.

Upon setting foot inside the Blue Bonnet, Marellian receives a shock, as the proprietor shouts at him; “You! you’ve got a nerve coming back here after the damage you and your friends made last time.”

Marellian protests that he has never set foot in the place before, but the man calls him ‘Ironcore’, and that he’s heard all his excuses before. When Marellian still protests his innocence, The man sends his pot boy out to fetch the magistrate and the town guards. The party are still trying to protest the innocence of their friend when the guards turn up.

The Magistrate is fairly level headed, and explains that in order to sort things out he will hear both sides of the argument before he hauls anyone off to jail. The proprietor of the Blue Bonnet repeats his tale, that this ‘Ironcore’ and some of his friends (including a half-giant bard of all things) were previously lodged in his inn, where they caused such a ruckus one night that the amount of damaged caused was nearly enough to close down the place. This Ironcore and friends then ran off in the night without paying, leaving him with a hefty bill.

The Magistrate next turns to the party, who explain that they are from Flint-Harrow, and have never set foot here before today. They explain their recent missions, and that the captain of the Merry rose would surely vouch that he picked them up some time ago far to the east.

The Magistrate then asks the Proprietor if he can in fact prove without a doubt that ‘Ironcore’ is the same person he believes was there previously. With a grin, the Proprietor replies that he can indeed: for Ironcore got his serving girl pregnant, and that if anyone could prove it, she can.

The girl is sent for, and her face lights up when she sees Marellian, believing that he has come back for her. Marellian again explains that he has never met her before, and she bursts into tears at his supposed betrayal.

The Magistrate asks her if she is sure he is the same man, and she says that she has a way to tell. She takes him off (with Loraella as his safeguard) to see for sure. The rest of the party hear her say; “Oh, What a letdown.” and she returns shaking her head, explaining to the magistrate that this is not the same man at all. Marellian is somewhat relieved, if a little embarrassed.

The Proprietor is crestfallen, and laments such a cruel trick of fate. He will never see the money to pay for the repairs, and will go out of business. The party take pity on him and , as this Ironcore must be an as yet unknown family member, Marellian and Loraella give him enough money to help him repay his debts. In gratitude, he insists they stay for free in his best rooms.

Loraella and Rayne make use of the lavish bathing room while Frank and Marellian loosen up in the lounge bar. Elden stays in his room ‘sharpening his weapon’. Marellian strikes up a conversation with the old woman who is doing the cooking and tries to get her secret recipe, but she is too wily for him, and ends up making him feel embarrassed. Believing the old woman is making a pass at him, he quickly gives his excuses and heads off to his room.

The next morning they set off for the Frozen Forest in search of the Elves. Marellian and Rayne use their familiars to fly ahead and warn them of any danger, and this saves them several encounters with hostile monstrous wildlife. After half a day of trudging, they reach an area of the forest which has managed to hold back the advance of the ice. Here; in a clearing, they find the Elven dwellings. The only problem is, the dwellings all seem deserted. As they begin to search, they all feel uneasy, and are unnerved by ghostly touches.

Hunting through the settlement, the party come across a rather unkempt half-elf. He seems a little ‘touched’, claiming that the other Elves disappeared and left him alone, and that as such he is the king of the forest, and the half-elves in the party are his subjects. He declares Elden to be the captain of his guard, Marellian his chancellor and Loraella his herald. Upon seeing Frank, however, he screams that the enemy is within the settlement, and demands Elden kill the invaders. The party try to explain that Frank is not an enemy, but the mad half-elf points at Frank and demands he begone. With a flash of light, Frank vanishes. (Rayne quickly hides, in case she’s next…)

While the half-elf party members try to placate the mad half-elf, Frank finds himself drifting in a misty plane. His surroundings are vaguely similar to the ‘real world’, and he seems to be unable to touch or manipulate anything. Through the mist ahead, he can see glowing forms wandering aimlessly. One of these comes close, and he recognizes her as Elven.
She introduces herself as Queen Fealinnar, the mother of Feannar (the mad half-elf the party found). She apologizes to Frank for her son’s actions; explaining that, in a way, it is all her fault.
Fealinnar explains that the Elves had been slowly dwindling, and as they grew less and less, the parts of the forest they were able to keep alive dwindled with them. In the end, it was decided to use the Heartwood gem to open a Gateway to the Elven Havens, and leave the world as did their teachers, the ancient race known as Wen, before them. Unfortunately, her son thought (wrongly) that as he was only half Elven, that he would not be able to travel through the Gateway. In the middle of the ritual to open the Gateway, he wrested the Heartwood gem from his mother, causing the ritual to go awry, and leaving the Elves caught in between planes. Fealinnar tells Frank that although they are unable to free themselves, as Frank is not of Elven blood she can banish him from the ritual, causing him to return to the prime material plane close to where he was. She tells Frank that the party must somehow get the Heartwood gem away from Feannar, as his madness is feeding the spell, which in turn is feeding his madness. Only if he is freed from it’s hold will the spell be broken and the Elves returned.

Fealinnar banishes Frank back to where he came from. True to her word, he reappears just outside the hall where the party met Feannar. Elden is outside ‘doing the rounds’ as ordered by Feannar, and soon gathers the others. Frank explains what he has found out, and the party decide to bring Feannar out into the open to try and get him to give up the gem. Loraella sneaks back into the hall, hiding in shadows, and listens to Feannar as he moans about everyone leaving him. Using a soft voice, she is able to coax him outside, but he insists on holding her hand. As they pass through the doorway, the others group up on him, and tell him to give up the gem. He refuses, believing they are all out to get him, and wrestles with Loraella over the gem. He says;“If I can’t have it, none can!” and destroys the Heartwood gem.
There is an almighty explosion, vaporizing him and Loraella in a magical conflagration. Fuddlemore, caught unawares, is hit by the blast, and sails backwards through the trees, and the rest of the party are all rendered unconscious…..

To Be Continued…

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Going with the Floe

The party:

Elden Spirefield, Half-Elf fighter (played by Matt)
Frank Wyvernstooth, Half-Orc Barbarian (played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore, Half-Elf Rogue (played by Leanne)
Marellian Ironcore, Half-Elf Cleric/Wizard (played by Dave)
Rayne, Tiefling Rogue/Sorcerer (player absent; played as N.P.C.)

Fuddlemore, Gnome Monk/Sorcerer (N.P.C.)
Algrammar, Human captain of the ‘Merry Rose’ (N.P.C.)

After Algrammar has checked over the boat and given his dire prognosis, Marellian and Frank come up with a cunning plan to repair the Merry Rose: Marellian uses his weaving skill to make a framework up over the holes, and Frank uses his leatherworking skill to cover the framework with skins, which are then caulked to make them water-tight. Algrammar is pleased with these repairs, and is willing to set sail once again.

The wind is once more favourable, and they make good speed. Algrammar steers them through several channels in the Ice floes, always heading in a westerly direction. Frank decides he’d better take up a look-out position, and climbs to the top of the mast, where he perches quite comfortably (much to the disgust of the bird familiars).

Shortly, frank spots thrashing shapes in the water ahead, and calls out to the others below. Marellian spots the shapes, and declares that they are Orcas. However, as they get closer, the Orcas seem much too large; Captain Algrammar goes pale, and declares them to be the ‘Hounds of the deep’, the children of the Sea God.

The ‘Hounds’ have been fighting over the remains of a shipwreck, and disperse as the Merry Rose nears. Loraella spots movement on a piece of flotsam off to one side; someone is still alive! Carefully the boat nears the flotsam, and the survivor is pulled aboard. His name is Jodrel, and his tale is a sad one.

After hearing Jodrel’s tale, The party are understandably keen to drop him off as soon as possible, but captain Algrammar is certain that he is safe for the moment. The Hounds are said to always leave one survivor alive to tell the tale, otherwise these tales would never be told. Until Jodrel sets foot on a landmass, he will be safe. Luckily, the client who ordered all the cargo aboard lives on an iceberg, where he studies the flow of the bergs, and so this will not count as landmass either. With this reassurance, the boat continues onwards.

The rest of the voyage is quite boring for the party, with Frank’s spotting of a large polar bear the only interesting thing to see. Just as the party are starting to regret the voyage, Algrammar lands the boat in the shadow of a large iceberg, telling them they have arrived at their destination.

The party and Jodrel help Algrammar unload the cargo, and Elden uses his experience to make sure the sledges are loaded evenly. Frank, Elden, Jodrel and Fuddlemore each grab a rope, and begin to pull the sledges across the ice to where their client lives.

With the flurries of snow kicked up off the ice, and the constant whiteness, the party do not spot the bear that has been following them until it attacks. Strangely, it seems to be wearing some type of clothing, and is carrying a giant axe. Sadly, the bear does not realise how strong the party is, and is killed quickly. Upon it’s death, it shape changes back to that of a fair haired man. Captain Algrammar is saddened, telling the party that it was in fact a polar were-bear, possibly starving, or just maddened enough to attack when it should have known better. These creatures are usually reclusive and stay well clear of humans.

They trudge onwards once more, as winds howl around them whipping up more snow. Suddenly, there is a slight hissing noise that is impossible to pinpoint. Before they can figure what it is, the ground opens up in a hiss of steam and melting ice. Captain Agrammar falls into the hole and comes face to face with a Remorhaz! It strikes at him, injuring him, before the party can come to his aid. Frank is tempted to jump on it’s back and ride it, but is put off by it’s boiling hot scales. He hits it a couple of times with his axe instead. Elden thrusts his greatsword into the beast, but it is Marellian who takes the kill, much to the surprise of everyone (including Marellian).

After pulling Captain Agrammar out of the hole, he thanks the party for saving his life, and confesses; The cargo is a ransom demand, for Zilrus (the person they are taking the cargo to) has the captain’s wife as hostage. He begs the party that if anything should happen to him they will continue onwards and free his wife. The party aren’t too happy that Agrammar didn’t tell them the truth beforehand, but understand his motives, and agree to his request. They travel onwards.

Shortly, they come to the fortress in the iceberg where Zilrus has made his home. Wandering the perimeter of a lake that steams with heat, they find a bridge that leads inside. Here, waiting for them, is Zilrus. He is glad that they have brought the provisions, but even more pleased they have brought themselves, as he is hungry. He calls his pet frost salamander, and it attacks.

During the fight, Elden strikes against Zilrus, damaging him direly, but is struck by Zilrus’ claws, and paralysed by the freezing venom they contain. Luckily, the rest of the party drive Zilrus off and kill the frost salamander before further harm can come to Elden, and they wait for the poison to wear off, healing themselves before searching the stronghold further.

In the lair of the salamander, they find the corpses of several mangled victims, who appear to have been frozen before death. All have looks of terror on their faces. They also find a room full of crates, with a rowboat nearby. Breaking open the crates they find arctic exploration equipment.

As they continue to explore, Loraella is suddenly alerted to a suspicious cavern ahead. She finds a trigger that would roll a huge shere of ice into the room as soon as they entered. She disarms the trap, and they continue on. Frank looks at the spheres of ice, and is tempted to roll them down the chute into the cavern, but thinks better of it in case they need to escape back through it quickly.

They next come to a room that has a collection of hunting trophies lining the walls. Loraella again becomes aware of a trap in this room: two suits of armour are suspended above them, and would fall onto them if they stepped onto a touch pad. She disarms this trap, but they have spent too long here, and the monsters in the next cavern have become aware of their presence. These Yetis attack, but the confines of the chamber restrict them, while the party work together to defeat them.

Loraella heads south-west, but finds a door of solid ice ahead. They confer, and decide to leave it alone for now, instead exploring the other passage they saw earlier. This leads to Zilrus’ living quarters (where he lurks, invisible, on the ceiling). While loraella and the others explore, Zilrus creaps up on Elden, hatred driving him, and hits Elden with his rod of the icy prison. Elden is covered in a layer of ice a foot thick, while Zilrus escapes once more from the party’s wrath. Luckily, Elden has a ring of warmth, which protects him from the ice, and he is thawed out quickly. He expresses a wish to stamp out Zilrus, and Marellian heals up the party once more, before they head back to the ‘trophy room’.

Zilrus is waiting for their arrival, and casts ice storm at them as soon as they enter the room. They rush him quickly, and batter at him mercilously. He has no answer to their sustained attacks, and is quickly killed. upon his death, the magic that has kept the ice door is broken, and it melts. Walking through, they arrive at a cavern, in which are several coffinlike slabs of ice; similar to that which covered Elden earlier. One of these is Captain Agrammar’s wife. When thawed out, she is found to be alive, but barely. She is exhausted, and traumatised, but Marellian uses his healing skill and his energy surge to help her regain some of her strength. Packing everything up, they begin the trek back to the Merry rose. There, Captain Agrammar loads up once more, and sets sail for the mouth of the river Muskwash, which, according to Fuddlemore, is the closest they can get to by boat to the Frozen forest. In the Frozen forest, he claims, is a settlement of Elves.

to be continued…

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A short sail
an encounter with Tritons

The Party

Elden Spirefield, Half-Elf fighter (played by Matt)
Frank Wyvernstooth, Half-Orc Barbarian (played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore, Half-Elf Rogue (played by Leanne)
Marellian Ironcore, Half-Elf Cleric/Wizard (played by Dave)
Rayne, Tiefling Rogue/Sorcerer (played by Amanda)

Fuddlemore, Gnome Monk/Sorcerer (N.P.C.)
Algrammar, Human captain of the ‘Merry Rose’ (N.P.C.)

Three days have passed in Skerryport. Marellian has spent most of that time with his nose in a book. Frank and Elden have done the rounds of almost every bar and whore house, while Rayne and Loraella spent their time wisely, repairing their equipment to make sure they are well prepared for the coming trip.

Rayne revisits the Bloodfinder, and returns with disapointing news. She doesn’t share it with the rest of the party, so I will not write it here. Needless to say, she is quite happy to be leaving on the ‘Merry Rose’.

Captain Algrammar is pleased to see them all on time, and casts off. The harbour is clear, and he has paid his mooring fees, so there is nothing to impede them as they sail out of Skerryport. Nobody bothers to look behind as Skerryport slides out of view, as they are all eager to reach the Elves after this long search.

The day goes well, and the boat makes good speed. Captain Algrammar asks if anyone would be able to spell him for a while so he can get some rest, and Frank volunteers. Sadly, Frank has no expereince sailing a boat, and without the party realising it, turns it around the way they came. Luckily, he manages to keep clear of the icebergs known as the ice islands, but shortly afterwards his sterring brings them straight towards the shore! Luckily, members of the party realise this time, and yell at him that he’s sailing the wrong way. Fuddlemore takes the tiller, and sets them back on their original course, but they have lost a lot of time and miles.

At dusk, a storm blows in behind them, pushing the craft along faster and faster. Frank is sitting astride the prow, and spots a slimy green rope that has been attatched around it. Sure that the rope was not there earlier, he goes to investigate, only to find a water elemental that attacks him. At the same time, a group of Tritons make their assault. Two are under the boat, attacking it, while the other two fire missiles at the party.

As Marellian and Loraella fire missiles at the Tritons, elden Rashly jumps into the water to engage with one of the Tritons attacking the boat. Despite the freezing cold water, and the fact that he is out of his element, he is able to hit the Triton. Rayne summons a dolphin to help them, and it bashes at the Triton with it’s nose.

Frank finishes his battle with the water elemental, only to realise there are three more of them pulling on the rope. He cuts the rope, and they whirl off trailing the rope behind them. Captain Algrammar is hit by a Triton’s bolt, and calls for help as he doesn’t have strength enough to keep the tiller on an even keel. Frank runs back , using his strength to aid Algrammar. Loraella manages to kill one of the Tritons, while Elden finishes off the one he is fighting beneath the boat. Taking a deep breath, he swims under the boat to take on the one on the opposite side.

More excellent markmanship from Loraella and Marellian finish off the third Triton, and Elden heroics prevail against the last one. Sadly, it seems that his exertions have been too much for him, as he is unable to swim to the surface, and begins to drown!

Fuddlemore, Holding a rope for Elden to grab hold of, sees that Elden is too tired to surface. He yells for help, and Rayne summons another dolphin, to pick Elden up and deliver him to safety. Coughing and spluttering, he is brought back aboard. Captain Algrammar, Frank and Elden are all healed by Marellian, and the boat limps for shore.

The next morning, the storm has blown itself out. Captain Algrammar examines the damage and suggests that it is too much to repair quickly. The party decide what to do about it….

to be continued…

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Happy as a pig in....
Frank's Birthday treat

The (birthday) Party:

Elden Spirefield, Half-Elf fighter (played by Matt)
Frank Wyvernstooth, Half-Orc Barbarian (played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore, Half-Elf Rogue (played by Leanne)
Marellian Ironcore, Half-Elf Cleric/Wizard (played by Dave)
Rayne, Tiefling Rogue/Sorcerer (played by Amanda)

Fuddlemore, Gnome Monk/Sorcerer (N.P.C.)

After defeating the Tech-Gnomes (and finding Fuddlemore’s Cat), The party head off to Skerryport, where they aim to find a boat, and get Fuddlemore to some of his people.

Fuddlemore shows them a quicker way to get down from the plateau; an ice slide made by the young monks for pleasure. He insists it is quite safe… As he slides down at rather a fast speed.

Frank and loraella make it down the slide safely, but Elden goes too fast and overshoots, landing in a large pile of snow. Rayne and Marellian have difficulties, so Rayne causes a ‘Drench’, to turn the slide into a water chute, making their way down easier.

After pulling Elden out of the snow pile, they make their way along the trail to Skerryport.
They soon come across a recently abandoned farmstead. The front door is open, and pigs can be seen rooting around inside. Frank declares that as it is his birthday they should all join him in a traditional birthday celebration of ‘Catch the pig’. He challenges Marellian to a match.

At first, the pigs seem to be too slippery to grab hold of, but it is Marellian who manages to grab hold first. Sadly, he is unable to maintain his grip, and the pig escapes him. Frank eventually wins, whereapon he tells the girls it is their turn.

Frank warns Rayne there is to be no using her claws, but it seems she doesn’t need to use them anyway, catching the pig faster than Loraella can manage. Elden and Fuddlemore both turn down a chance to play; Elden is sitting on the wall keeping watch, while Fuddlemore cites his diminutive size as a hinderance. Frank takes this news well, and takes on Rayne in the final.

It seems by this time that the pigs are exhausted, as the both players catch their pigs easily. Frank picks up both pigs and takes them inside the farmhouse, where he finds a nice straw bed to kip down with them for the night. The others find a small loft up out of the way, while Rayne and Elden decide that they should keep a watch.

During the night, Elden and Rayne hear a shuffling noise coming down the trail. Fearing it is undead, Rayne casts Disrupt undead at it, but nothing seems to change. As it comes into view, it appears to be a human woman, but her face is twisted in a rictus grin, and a crazed glint is in her eye. She lurches forwards, and attacks them.

Elden seems to make short work of it, dealing her a fatal blow almost instantly, but to his amazement she continues to attack, raking him with her nails. Luckily, Elden seems to be immune to the grinning madness she is carrying (possibly because he is mad enough already…) Again and again both Elden and Rayne deal significant damage to her, but she continues long past any time of death. Rayne begins to wonder is this woman is a type of undead after all.

Alerted by Rayne’s cries, the others awaken and hurry out to help. Loraella puts an arrow clean through the woman, and she still continues her attacks. Then, suddenly, she drops down dead. Frank wonders what all the fuss was about, and Elden shows him the ammount of wounds that he and Rayne have already given her. Frank shrugs and explains that some Orcs fight on after the death blow is dealt: it’s just a form of battle frenzy.

The next day, the party continue onwards to Skerryport. They have been travelling for a short while when they come across a posse of men and women, armed with farm implements and other makeshift weaponry. The farmers explain that the Grinning man has passed close by recently, and they are out hunting down all the mad ones his passing has created. The party tell them that they had a run in with a mad woman the previous night, who they had to kill. Marellian explains that they buried her ouside the wall of the farmstead. One of the farmers is worried it might be one of his family members, but the party think that it is unlikely, as the woman doesn’t look similar to any of the people in the posse. Thet wish the farmer posse good luck and warn them to be careful, before heading south once more.

Early afternoon sees them reach the gates of Skerryport. Two bored looking Tiefling guards stand idly by the gate, and they appraise the party as they aproach. One spies Rayne, and asks her where she’s been all his nine lives (to which the other stifles a laugh). Rayne is quite indignant, to which he explains he was just having a joke, as she is a new arrival to what is the home of Tiefling kind in this land. He asks her who here ‘Sire’ is, and she tells him she has no idea, so he advises her that (should she wish to find out) she should visit the Bloodfinder, who will be able to find out using a bit of her blood to seek out her bloodline.

The party are told that there is a flat fee of one gold per head to enter Skerryport. They seem okay with this, until they find that the guards have taken into account the party’s familiars. Rayne and Marellian send their birds away, so in the end only Fuddlemore’s cat is counted. Fuddlemore pays for all the party, saying it’s the least he can do after they saved him, and they enter. Marellian asks the guards where they can find a boat, and they tell him that if the party need a guide, they would be best to visit the Bawdy house, just inside the gate on the left hand side. There they will be able to hire a Bawd to show them around. Marellian thanks them, and the party move on.

At the Bawdy house, an emanciated looking Tiefling sits behind a desk, chewing on a quill pen. The party ask for a guide; he writes down their names, and ollacates them ‘Peaches’. Peaches turns out to be a young girl of about 12, who seems much more worldly than her apparent years. She leads the party around Skerryport, pointing out all the places of interest. Rayne asks where the Bloodfinder is, and Peaches leads them there, but Marellian is sidetracked by a group of Tiefling females dancing to the beat of a drum played by a young male. An added attraction for him is that the girls are all dancing naked. He then makes a (foolish?) gesture off appreciation; giving them money, and they all flock around him. As he trns redder and redder from their suggestive comments, the young male with the drum is annoyed that he has taken away the dancers, so the party quickly pull Marellian away from the girls and follow Peaches to the Bloodfinder.

Rayne steps inside to meet with an aged Tiefling who is the keeper of the bloodlines. He asks her to cut herself and drip some blood into a dish. He then pours the blood from the dish into the center of a large plate which has a mutitude of dried bloodstains spaced around the rim. He explains that the blood of her progenitor will call her blood to it, and from that he will be able to determine whose blood she bears. Rayne and the Keeper sit silently for a while waiting, but nothing happens. The Keeper explains that it may be possible that they do not have the blood of her progenitor due to some mishap or other, and that he can make enquiries through summoning rituals on her behalf to see who her progenitor is, but it will take a couple of days. She agrees to return in three days, and takes her leave of him.

Peaches leads the party down to the harbour, where Fuddlemore asks leave to board a Gnome ironclad, and is granted. He spends some time with the captain, leaving the party to their own devices. Frank asks Peaches if there are any decent inns, and she takes them to the nearest one.

Fuddlemore catches up with the party, and explains that he has sent messages back to his order regarding the Tech-Gnomes. He explains that in order to visit the enclave of elves he knows of, they would be best to take ship east. Once again, Peaches comes up with the answer, telling them about a captain Algrammar who needs help to take a cargo east. They visit him, and he agrees to take them to where they need to go in exchange for their help in getting his cargo to it’s recipient, a hermit who lives on one of the large ice islands where he studies the lives of the icebergs.

(Sadly, technical difficulties brought this session to an early close….)

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Gnome Improvement?
Into the Tower of Tufty

The Party:

Elden Spirefield: Half Elf Fighter (Player missing)
Frank Wyverstooth: Half Orc Barbarian (played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore: Half Elf Rogue (played by Leanne)
Marellian Ironcore: Half Elf wizard/cleric (played by Dave)
Rayne: Tiefling rogue/sorcerer (played by Amanda)

Fuddlemore: Gnome monk/sorcerer (n.p.c.)

The party ready themselves to climb the stairs to the top floor of the monastery. Fuddlemore tells them to be on their guard, as the Tech-Gnomes may have patrols out. As it is, there is only a lone watchdog that comes to investigate, and Frank is able to kill it quickly. It is not one of the explosive type, for which they all breathe a sigh of relief. Fuddlemore studies it intensely, explaining that the Tech-gnomes had only used clockwork beetles before his capture, and this was a step further. Obviously their technological expertise is increasing the more they experiment. He wonders what else the Tech-Gnomes have created…

Heading south along the cloister walk, they come to a round tower, in which is a defaced statue with an offering bowl in front of it. Fuddlemore explains that there are four of these towers, meant for meditation purposes, each with a statue of one of the four founders of the monastery. Elden investigates the offering bowl, and finds that it contains a necklace of shiny stones, similar to a prayer bead necklace. He takes it, while the others prepare themselves for some kind of holy backlash, but nothing happens.

Headed west from the tower, they reach a room which has been completely trashed. The remains of a barricade lie scattered about, and the contents of the room have been reduced to splinters. Fuddlemore explains that this was the abbot’s office, and the teachers made their last stand here when the Tech-Gnomes went on their mad rampage. He wanders around the room, deep in his memories of that terrible day. The party search around, but there is nothing left in this room of any use to them. Stirring Fuddlemore from his memories, they quickly leave.

To the west they find another tower, exactly like the first. Elden looks into the offering bowl and finds a small statuette of a black dog, which he takes, again without harm. Fr4om here the cloister walk turns northwards, where they come to a doorway that leads to the dormitary.

In the dorm, there are three Tech-Gnomes, similar to those they faced downstairs. There is also a newer, improved version that tells them their resistance is useless, and to submit to the power of Tech-Gno. Obviously, the party have no intention of submitting, so a fight ensues.

The fight is quite even for a while, until Frank manages to destroy one of the old style Tech-Gnomes. It explodes, causing severe harm to Elden, along with injuries to Frank and Marellian. Fuddlemore pulls Elden from the fight, trying to staunch his wounds, and uses up his healing kit on them. Marellian uses his acid burst to blind one of hte other older type Tech-Gnomes, and while it flails about wildly, they retreat out of it’s explosive range and pepper it with long range attacks until it is destroyed. Frank and Rayne take on the new type Tech-Gnome, which does not explode when it is destroyed, and the last Tech-Gnome explodes without causing too much harm to the party. Even so, most of the party have several wounds, and are out of healing. they search the dorm, but all they find is a faded picture on a wall that has a signiature on it that reveals it was painted by Tufty. Sadly, someone has attempted to wash it off, so the party do not know what the painting was.

North of the dorm is a third tower; again, similar to the other two. Elden looks in the offering bowl, but it is empty. Fuddlemore takes down a brown robe from a peg, saying,“ah, I wondered where this had gone.” He explains it is one of the monastery’s Monk’s Robes, which are magical in nature. Putting it on, he appears much happier than before (and much more monk-like). The cloister walk turns east, and the party continue on.

Halfway along the walk, there is a bridge heading south, which is made out of metal and ends at a thick metal door. Fuddlemore tells the party he doesn’t remember this being here before, and they surmise it must be the entrance to the tower of Tufty. They are aprehensive about going into the tower while so beaten up, and leave it for later, instead continuing towards the last tower. As with the other three, the statue has been defaced, and Elden looks into the offering bowl. It is filled with a green liquid, which he thinks might be a healing potion. Marellian is concerned, as it looks like acid, but after a more detailed check, decides it is healing potion, and they all take a drink. This heals them slightly, but as Marellian is out of spells and they are all still injured, they decide to find a safe place to rest up and take on the tower in the morning. Fuddlemore suggests that the Tech-Gnomes had left him for a long time in his ‘prison cell’, and that it would make a good defensible place should they come looking. They can think of no other idea, so go along with his plan.

The next morning, healed up and ready, the assault the tower of Tufty. With a Knock, Marellian opens the door, revealing a semi-circular platform with stairs on one side going up, and the other side going down. At the far side of the platform is a large area left open, housing the gigantic form of a metal being, shackled to the wall of the tower with metal coils that seem to have fused into it’s skin. The floor they are on is level with the being’s waist, so they decide to climb up a floor to see it face to face.

the top floor of the tower is again semi-circular, but with a clamp projecting outwards towards the giant being. It’s tongue is clamped into this clamp, making a bridge of sorts into the beings mouth. The party do not like this idea, and unclamp the tongue, allowing the giant to release a mighty scream. Cringing, Elden guards the stairs against anything that comes to investigate, while Marellian attempts to talk to the giant. A voice projects into Marellian’s head, saying simply; “Free me”

Marellian wonders how the party would be able to free the giant, and uses acid to dissolve one of the bindings shackling it to the wall. This works for a moment, but the binding repairs itself very quickly, and Marellian does not have enough acid to burn all the bindings. In the end, they come to the decision that the bindings will loose their animation when the Tech-Gnomes are dead.

On the bottom floor, the party find the six Tech-Gnomes that were the originators of the Clockwork curse. They are also the most advanced Tech-Gnome forms, each having experimented upon themselves constantly to bring their dreams to fruition. The ring-leader, Atcham Spring-lock greets them, asking them if they have come of their own free will to be upgraded to the power that it Tech-Gno. Marellian answers him with an arrow, and the fight begins…
(GM’s note; this is the second time Marellian has shot someone while they are talking terms….)

At the far side of the chamber, two of the Tech-Gnomes are upgrading a third. They are adding extra arms to it, making it a formidable foe when finished. Frank rushes them, and engages them in hand to hand combat, but it is Rayne who strikes the first blow, using her Death mask to destroy the one known as Lubricant Pull-Rod. The other, Bender Cog-Turner, uses it’s springy legs to leap up to the floor above; Frank uses his raging leaper power to follow it and continues the fight there.

Loraella fires her missiles at Tyrell Patchet, while Elden engages Cardin Crank-arm in melee combat. Atcham spring-lock fires a bolt of electricity at Fuddlemore, but the Gnome monk is able to close with him and uses a flurry of blows on him. Marellian uses magic missiles, and then gets into close range to use his burning hands. Meanwhile, on the level above, Bender Cog-turner changes into a ball and weaves away from Frank’s swinging axe. This makes Frank mad (or madder…) and he strikes the ball hard, splitting it apart, and destroying Cog-turner. Crowing, he leaps back down to attack The Tech-Gnome that was being upgraded.

Elden finally strikes a telling blow on Cardin Crank-arm, who had been fending him off with it’s multiple arms. Marellian, who had just got into position to take out both with burning hands, has only Atcham Spring-lock to aim for instead, and is sucessful in dealing enough damage to destroy it. Loraella’s arrows finish Tyrell Ratchet, leaving just Gyrate Fly-wheel, whose upgrade had failed to be completed in time. Frank manages to destroy it (with help from Rayne and her Abyssal claws), To which Marellian hears a “Thankyou” from the metallic giant being as it’s bindings are destroyed, allowing it to return to it’s own plane.

Fuddlemore tells the party that they have done a mighty deed, and that the souls of the Gnome monks have all been freed from the terrible blasphemy of the Tech-Gnomes. He asks only for one thing from them; could they get him to Skerryport, where there is a Gnome ironclad ship serving as an ice-breaker to keep the port clear. Marellian asks him about the Elves, and Fuddlemore replies that in order to find the Elves, they will need to take ship west. Skerryport is therefore a good place for them to go, as it has the biggest port on the coast. also, should the party help Fuddlemore get to Skerryport and talk to the Gnomes aboard the ice-breaker, he will come with them to show them the way to the Elves.

And so, the party set forth once more, headed south , to Skerryport…

To be continued….

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Running like Clockwork
The fate of the Gnomes is revealed

The Party

Elden Spirefield (player missing; played as N.P.C.)
Frank Wyvernstooth (played by Steve)
Marellian Ironcore (played by Dave)
Loraella Ironcore (played by Leanne)
Rayne (player missing; played as N.P.C.)

Arissa (N.P.C.)
Fuddlemore (N.P.C.)

After a good night’s sleep, Marellian prepares his spells for the day, and then reads out what he can from the shredded journal. He is confused by the fact that he has read the passages in a random order. Shrugging, he puts the papers away, and the party prepare to leave the shelter of the ruined watchtower.

Shortly after leaving the watchtower, they come across strange regular patterned shapes in the snow. They set about uncovering some to reveal worked stone blocks. Marellian is excited, wondering what ancient city these once belonged to, but there is no way to work this out, and the party do not have the time or manpower for an extended dig, so leave them for some future expedition.

After a few hours of wading through the snow, The party spot a large herd of elk making their way north-east. Frank decides to hunt one down, but his scent carries on the breeze and gives him away. The elk herd run off, with Frank chasing. The others call him back, explaining it’s not worth the energy to chase them, and he grudgingly returns. He explains that it is his birthday tomorrow, and he fancied something tastier than trail rations to celebrate it with.

A few miles further south-east the party spot a figure running towards their direction. It is apparent that this figure hasn’t seen them, and it is stumbling and holding it’s side. As it gets closer, they see that it is a human male, with dirty clothing and an unkempt look. He sees them too late, and a look of fear crosses his face, before he realises they are not part of the group following him. He begs the party to save him, explaining that he will be burnt on the sacred pyre for running away. As They take this in, they hear the sound of hunting dogs, and a trio of handlers with their hounds come into view. The leader of the hunters calls out to the party, congratulating them on capturing their runaway, who has led them quite a chase these last few weeks.

The leader of the hunters, whose name is Druses, explains that they are from a place called Eldrene. Arissa murmurs that El-Dren-eh means the wounded land, which surprises the hunters. Druses asks her how she knows the ’king’s tongue’; to which she replies that in her land it is the ‘noble tongue’, and as she is of the noble class, she is expected to know it. One of the dog handlers mutters to Druses that Arissa has ‘Fire kissed hair’. Marellain asks if there are no red heads in their land, and Druses explains it is very rare, and seen as a gift from the fire god they worship. There is a prophecy about a ‘Queen with fire kisses hair’ who would come from afar and be found by a fool. Elden wisely holds his tongue about which fool did the finding…

The party are reluctant to let the hunters take the runaway serf back, and are suspicious about Druses asking Arissa if she would accompany them back to their land. Arissa is torn between staying with the party and being feted as a queen in a land that is solely human. In the end, her prejudices win out, and she decides to leave with Druses. Marellian tells Druses that the party will accompany Arissa to make sure she will be alright, but Druses tells them Eldrene is many days to the east, by the God’s forge mountains. Marellian still insists they could go there, but in the end the party decide that if the hunters stay with them until they reach the white crystal cliffs, that will give the party time to know them better. Arissa, to her credit, claims the runaway serf as her servant, saving him from any harm. Druses is not too happy, but cedes to her wishes.

As the white crystal cliffs come into sight, Druses insists they must now head eastwards, and bids the party farewell. Marellian still has his doubts, but waves them goodbye with the others. He tells Arissa if she ever needs them all she needs to do is write. Arissa thanks him for his kindness, and heads off east with the hunters. Elden is relieved he no longer has to babysit her as she had no combat skills.

The party head southwest, in order to find the pass that leads up onto the top of the white crystal cliffs. Now that the cliffs are close by, they can see a large black cloud that seems to hang atop the plateau. Marellian muses that maybe it is a sign that the gnomes are busy working up there.

While heading southwest, the party meet a small group of fur clad figures who are travelling north east. several of the figures are pulling sledges, while others are at the helm of dog-sleds. The first thought is to hide and see who it is, but Marellian thinks it might be gnomes, and hails them. The leader pulls back his fur hood, to reveal a human face, blond haired and with a beard. He answers Marellian’s hail and tells them he is surprised to see travellers this far north.

After introductions, the party find out that this is a small band of Ignoi from the Rheon clan, led by a warrior named Toracteha (Tor for short). Tor asks them if they have ever dealt with the tribes before, and the party shake their heads. Tor calls for a yurt to be raised, and gathers them inside to get to know each other better.

A strong drink, called Charka is brought out in drinking horns. Tor explains that tradition and ritual is very important to them, and that the Charka must be sipped while discussions of news are exchanged. The party tells him a brief version of why they are headed to see the gnomes, and he replies that the tribe has traded with the short ones before, but that the black cloud put them off this year; there have already been too many ill omens. He explains that the tribe are split and wandering (according to tradition) after the death of the chieftain. The band here are his family and retainers. In this way there is no blood spilt between the main rivals for the cheiftaincy.

Tor explains they are headed northwards following the migration of the Elk. It is early this year, but he has seen ill omens; 3 days ago they saw the ‘Grinning man’, which everyone knows is a sign of doom. Luckily the Grinning man was headed southwest, and did not veer towards them. The party reveal they have not heard of the ‘Grinning man’, so he tells the the tale of the Grinning man.

After the Charka is drunk, the trade of goods is made. Elden finds that Tor has a greatsword that his grandfather took from the body of a half-giant he had slain, and trades it for some jewels. Some other trinkets change hands, but Marellian had talked earlier about reading about something in a book, so Tor brings forth an ancient heirloom: a very old book. He reveals that he will trade it for something just as valuable. Marellian asks if he may have a look at it first, and discovers it is a Tome of understanding- a very valuable book indeed. He doesn’t have anything valuable enough, but Loraella does… so he manages to persuade her to trade her gem of true sight for the book, and gives her a magic ring instead.

While Marellian is trying to persuade his sister to give up her most valuable item, Tor invites Frank to come and stay with his family next year at the ‘Great Thing’. Frank asks what sort of thing, and Tor explains that after a year of wandering, the tribe meet to pick the new Chieftain. There are games and hunts and trials of strength; he’s sure Frank would enjoy it. Frank aggrees, and asks where it is to be held. Tor tells him that ‘He who was left behind’ knows the way. On seeing Frank’s puzzled look he explains that is the name they call Ambassador Garthane of Flintharrow.

The yurt is pulled down, and the tribe members hug all the party members, and wish them good luck with their task. Tor waves them off with a ‘Make sure you come see us next year’, which Frank has to explain. Elden thinks that the tribespeople were very friendly, but Rayne is a bit annoyed that one of the small children kept trying to pull her tail.

Finally, the party reach the marker that shows the trail up to the plateau, only to find the trail has become overgrown. Luckily, Frank can read the signs of where it was, and they climb the cliffs quite easily. It winds it’s way up a switchback in the cliffs which may be traversed two abreast, with good footing. They make good time, but at the top are met with the black cloud, making it hard to see far ahead.

While making their way through the smoke, they find a smoke mephit. It teases them and tries to have fun at their expense, but luckily Rayne speaks it’s language, and tells it they will not put up with any of it’s tricks. It moans they are no fun, and wanders off to find easier targets. As it leaves, it mutters it hopes they go round in circles in the smoke, but Frank’s trailfinding is good enough for them to reach the outer wall of the monastery easily.

On finding the gate, Marellian calls out to the Gnomes for help, but there is no answer. The Gate to the complex is barred on the inside, but Marellian uses a knock spell to open it, and Frank pushes it open. As they enter the courtyard, they are met by two clockwork hound Watchdogs, one of which howls at them, a sonic attack that staggers most of the party. The other lashes out at Elden with it’s tongue, Tripping him.

Frank charges the howling watchdog, and smashes it to bits in two hits. This causes it to explode, showering Frank with debris. Meanwhile, Elden struggles to his feet, while the watchdog bites him. Marellian, Rayne and Loraella, wary of an explosion, back away from the battle, using long range attacks, while Frank flanks the watchdog, hitting it and causing another explosion.

After the battle, Marellian heals Elden and Frank, before they explore further. They find a small building to the south of the courtyard, and a larger one to the north, before a strange headless creature, stitched together from various pieces of flesh comes shambling round the corner of the building at them. This flesh golem flails at the party, slamming Elden with both arms and sending him backwards. Marellian uses his acid darts on it, while Rayne uses her Abyssal claws and tears into it. As it falls, a small flying eye with clockwork wings comes flying into view. It surveys the party, before darting away again. They all look at each other, wondering what is next, but nothing else happens.

Wary of further attacks, the party explore the courtyard further, but there is nothing else to fight. The small building turns out to be a smithy, complete with a mechanical smith, but the smith does not move, even when they touch it. Marellian surmises it must be ‘turned off’. With nothing else of interest left, they head to the door of the larger building.

This door is also locked, and Frank asks Marellian to do his knock spell again. Marellian replies he only had one prepared, so Frank readies his axe to smash down the door, knowing it will attract too much attention but having no other option. Luckily, Marellian suddenly remembers he has a scroll of knock in his possession, which allows them to enter quietly. They find themselves in a corridor which ends at a ‘T’ junction. From this junction the passage west has two wooden doors on the south side, and ends at an iron door, while the passage east has one wooden door on the south side, and also ends at an iron door. Using her new ring of x-ray vision, Loraella determines the first door to the west is a cloakroom, while the second door west seems to hold a stairway. There is another of the headless flesh golems in the stairway armed with a mop and bucket; it seems to be cleaning the floor. She is unable to penetrate the thick metal of the iron door.

Rather than open any of these doors, the party decide to check the door to the east. Once more Loraella uses her x-ray ring, revealing what was once an office, but now seems to have iron bars penning in an old Gnome. Happy to have found a Gnome at last, Marellian decides they should open the door and talk to him.

The Gnome tries to hide as the door is opened, but appears when Marellian starts to talk. He is relieved to see them, and asks if they can free him. Frank uses one of Marellian’s vials of acid on the bars, weakening them so that he can snap them off (although he thinks he could have bent them apart easily anyway) so that the Gnome can exit.

The Gnome is in a bad way; he hasn’t eaten in days, and survived by licking condensation off the window. Marellian offers him food, and heals him. He reveals that he is callen Terelinn Fuddlemore, and was a teacher here at the monastery. He tells them he is possibly the last surviving Gnome here now, and tells them the tale of The Clockwork Curse .

Terelinn is able to supply the party with details of how the monastery is laid out, and they decide to head straight upstairs, where they believe they will find further evidence of the clockwork Gnomes. As they head for the stairway, they are met by two of these Gnomes. They each have weapons grafted in place of hands. One of them yells to the party there are no limits to the power of Tech-Gnome, and they both attack.

It seems that the Gnome’s statement proves false, as they are both taken down easily by the party with only minor injuries caused. Marellian heals these scratches, and they prepare to climb the stairs….

To be continued..

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