The longest winter

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…

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…

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…

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….)

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….

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..

A time gain on the Plain
Heading South

The Party

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

The party stand around in the cavern, wondering who has taken General Ironcore’s war desk, and what type of creature lies dead on the floor. Frank offers to give someone a boost up to see if they can climb the vertical tunnel. After a boost up they all realise the tunnel is too slick-sided for climbing. Marellian asks for quiet so he can scribe his spider climb scroll into his spellbook, explaining that if he manages to copy it first, he can cast the scroll on one of them, allowing them to traverse the climb easily. Frank fancies playing spider, so Marellian casts the spell on him. After a bit of wandering around on the ceiling to get used to the feeling, frank shoots up the tunnel. He arrives at the top to find himself inside a rather large and well built Igloo. It looks like several people were here for quite some time, but cleaned up after themselves, leaving nothing behind. Just for the hell of it, frank skitters around over the ceiling of the Igloo for a while, before a faint call from below reminds him that he’d better throw a rope down to help the others up.

After the rest of the party have been pulled up the rope (some easier than others), Frank shows them the tracks he found leading out into the snow of the Plain of Soot. There are several sets of rather large, three-toed creature tracks, that end in a place where snow has been swept away as if by large wings. Marellian declares that these creatures must be a species previously unknown to science, as nobody has any idea what sort of creature would make such tracks. Sadly, as none of the party has any means of flight, they are unable to follow where these creatures went, although Marellian does send his owl familiar off to see if it can find anything of note. While they wait for the owl to return, the party decide to rest in the Igloo and prepare themselves for a long trek southwards to where there should be an old ruined watchtower.

Marellian’s Owl returns with no sign of the creatures they were hoping for, but it does reveal that the Igloo is some ways south of where the paths out of the Sundered Valley come up. They estimate that by coming up this way they have shaved a day’s travel time off their journey. Fed, fortified and well rested, the party set out in a (nearly) southwards direction, following the clifftop of the Sundered Valley. The Plain of Soot itself seems to run off eastwards for a few hundred miles, so keeping the valley edge in sight would prevent them losing their bearings and wandering around aimlessly.

After some time walking, the party are ambushed by a pack of Abominable Snowmen, who were camouflaged in the snow. Marellian casts burning hands, burning the first Yeti, but it seems unafraid of the flames and continues to attack. Rayne calls upon her Abyssal heritage, and grows claws, with which she hits the second Yeti. Elden misses with his club, and yet again bemoans the loss of his greatsword, as the Yeti deals him a mighty blow in return. Frank and Loraella chip in, before a second burning hands spell from Marellian causes one of the Yetis to flee. Rayne uses her sorcerous powers to summon a Fire Beetle, and it’s bite burns a Yeti, causing it to flee as well. Elden attempts to hit, but even a touch of destiny provided by Arissa fails to help him enough, while Rayne hits a Yeti with her Abyssal claws again. The third Yeti runs, but one remains, taking hits from Frank and Loraella, before a second touch of destiny allows Elden to finally hit, and Rayne’s claws finish it off. Frank skins the Yeti corpse after Marellian and he discuss the magical properties of Yeti fur in protecting against cold. Arissa asks Frank if he will make her fur mittens and boots from the Yeti hide.

As they continue their trudge southwards, they keep an eye out in case of more attacks, but the Yetis seem to have been driven off by their defences earlier. Instead, their Sharp eyes spy a lone figure, mounted on an Elk, headed towards them from across the Plain. As it gets closer, Marellian hails it, bringing it to them. Marellian then notices that the Elk is in fact undead, and the rider upon it is sheathed in an icy armour. glowing red eyes stare at him , and a dusty voice says; “You are brave to cross the Plain of Soot, Mortals. foolish, but Brave.”
For some reason, this seems comical to Frank, but the others are wary of this strange figure. Marellian explains that they are on their way to see the ‘gnomies’, to which it nods it’s head. It explains;“Your quest meets with my queen’s favour. The Darkness within your town is not destroyed, but grows anew. As does that which you faced in the Dwarven stronghold. The children of the Corruptor must not be allowed to roam free, or else all my Queen has done to preserve this land will be for naught.”
The party are confused, having been brought up to believe that the Queen of the Ice was evil and wished to destroy all life. The knight of Ice shakes his head; “How quickly you mortals forget. Once there were four Godesses, each resposible for a season. The sun God sought to destroy the seasons, wishing to keep his reign constant throughout the year. He had fallen under the sway of the Corruptor, and was vanquishing other Gods in order to bring this to pass. My Queen did what she did to prevent him from destroying all the Gods. If she had not, you would all be under the heavy hand of a singular, mad God.”
The party ask how they can destroy the Corruptor’s children, but the Knight of Ice explains he cannot answer that question, for it would allow the Corruptor free reign in the mortal realms. What little he has given them is not enough to ‘break the rules’ regarding immortal intervention. He wishes them well, and vanishes in a flurry of snow and ice.

After a short discussion regarding what they have just heard, the Party head southwards again. It is not long before their sharp eyes make out a huge bulk moving slowly across the plain, leaving a wide trail of thick ice behind it. This monstrosity is a Glacier Toad, one of the Ice’s most enormous creations. Wisely, the party decide to try and creep away without attracting it’s attention, but Marellian is not very good at sneaking away, and it begins to head towards them. Frank shouts for them to run, as it’s ponderous bulk should be unable to keep up, so run they do. Luckily, Frank’s guess proves correct, and they outdistance it, arriving at the Shieldwall Hills safely. Elden is exhausted by the long run; possibly an effect of his energy drain from the wraith in the caverns the night before. Arissa supports him as they walk slowly south, looking around them for a place to rest.

Pretty shortly, Loraella and Rayne, scouting around, each find a hole in the side of hills. Frank and Marellian think the two holes are connected, so one goes to each hole. Frank bellows into one hole while Marellian listens at the other. Sadly, all Marellian can hear is a hissing sound, as he disturbs a Cryo-Hydra. Luckily, he is able to call for help before it emerges fully from it’s den, and Rayne grows her Abyssal claws once more as she steps in to help. Elden rushes in at the sign of battle, but is badly bitten by two of the Hydra’s heads. Marellian uses up his last Flaming hands spell on it, while Frank takes a raging leap, and gives it a good solid hit. Elden, bleeding heavily, manages one last swing of his club, and luckily kills the beast before it is able to hurt him further. Marellian gives him first aid, before the party enter the Hydra’s lair to see what treasures may be contained in it.

After assuring the rest of the party that the Hydra is a solitary beast, Frank and Marellian usher them all into the Hydra’s lair. There, amongst the regular items, they find a pitted Longsword, which they give to Elden. There are also a set of Bracelets and a ring. Marellian is able to determine that the bracelets are greater bracers of archery (which Loraella takes), but is unable to identify the ring, so he pockets it for later study.

With the Hydra’s lair explored, the party decide to look in the other hole. There, they are attacked by a couple of Derro. Marellian tries to talk to the Derro, but they are far to insane and haughty to talk to ‘abovesiders’, so he resorts to using his wand of magic missiles on them. Rayne summons a large black dog to attack, and the Derro are easily despatched. Before they can explore further, another pair of Derro charge at them, but they too are quickly cut down. Finally, they reach the lair of a Hag, who rakes Frank with her dirty nails, before Marellian uses his wand again. Sadly, this seems to be the end of his grandfather’s wand, as it starts to smoke and turns black. Luckily, Elden with his new sword, Frank and Rayne flank the hag, while Loraella uses her new bracers to feather it with arrows. The Hag soons succumbs to it’s wounds, leaving the party to hunt it’s chambers for more loot. Among the spoils are several magic items, which Marellian examines. He is able to determine that there is a set of studded leather armour +2 (which Frank takes), but is unsure regarding a magic cloak and staff. He tells the others he needs to cast an identify spell on the other items, but he has no spells left for the day. Luckily, the ruined watchtower is not too far ahead, and they decide that it would be a better place to rest than a cold cave.

When they get to the watchtower, they are pleased to see that one part of it remains in a fit state for habitation. Upon entering, they see that someone has been here recently; firewood has been stacked up, the place is clean, and there is a table and chair that have been dusted. In one corner is what appears to have been a sleeping pallet, but the bedclothes have been shredded by some angry creature. Also scattered around are several pieces of paper; these have also been shredded, and some are badly singed by fire. Picking up the pieces, and finding some that are still legible, the party are finaly able to read part of The Shredded Journal .

To be continued…

Coming up empty
Beaten to the loot?

Party Members

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

A discussion takes place in Arroyo concerning the return of the two young men. They seem to be unperturbed by their brush with death in a giants cookpot, and want to go with the party. Luckily, their mother is a stern woman, and forbids it.

Bad news for Elden, as he attempts to replace/repair his greatsword. The village smith is unable to repair the sword, and does not have the skill to make a new one. The party do ask Elden if he wishes to stay behind now that he only has a club for his weapon, but he is hopeful that he will find something on their journey.

Once more the party leave the village of Arroyo, determined this time to leave the Sundered Valley behind them. They again head north, and travel further than they had previously. Marellian sends his owl to search ahead, and it signals it has found something: In the sidewall of the valley there seems to be a very large ancient skull of some unknown creature. The party are very excited, hoping this is the first part of the riddle they heard (all except Frank, who seems more interested in whether the skull has any teeth).

Frank climbs up into the skull, revealing that there is indeed a cave opening inside the eye socket. The party assemble in the socket, and move further into the cave. Loraella and Rayne creep silently forwards, followed by Frank and Marellian, with Elden and Arissa at the rear. They notice that the floor of the cave is littered with bones, noticably lizardlike in features.

At the far end of the cave is a mass of webs, in which lurks a giant Tarantula. Upon seeing this big spider, Marellian is suddenly smitten with an urge to run away (he maintains that it was an urge to go check on his familiar when questioned about it later). Frank rushes in to attack, but is overcome by nausea due to its barbed hairs . Loraella and Rayne stand back and use their ranged weapons, while Elden attempts to push past them go engage in hand to hand. Arissa seems revolted by the thing, but instead of her usual scream, she goes into some sort of mystic trance. She mutters some unintelligable words, after which she faints. A glowing ball of light then bursts over the spider, stunning it for enough time for Frank to overcome his nausea and whack it. With Frank and Elden hitting it, and the two rogues firing bolts, it soon dies of multiple injuries. The party then wonder where Marellian has got to, and go back to find him. He seems to be whispering (he maintains to his familiar) “It’s not going to get me, it’s not going to get me.”

After clearing the webs away from the rear of the cave, the party descend down a small passageway into a series of natural looking caverns. Rayne and Loraella go forward once more, but are soon attacked by two Cloakers (one of which turns out to be a dancing image ). The Cloaker begins to moan, causing Rayne to become panicked, but Loraella seems unaffected and shoots at it. Frank and Elden run in, but Frank is also panicked by the moaning, and ends up causing damage to himself. Hearing the moaning, Marellian runs off down a side passage, but Arissa follows him, only to find him in a faint. He shakes him awake, and they return to help with a lucky shot from Marellian’s crossbow felling the creature.

a short while further into the caverns, Loraella hears a faint gibbering coming from up ahead. A strange amorphous shepe filled with eyes and mouths comes sliding along. It fires a stream of spittle at her, which misses and lands sizzling on the cavern floor. Luckily, the party seem unaffected by the wierd noises it makes, and soon make short work of it. Marellian remarks that these are indeed the halls of fear and dread, so the catacombs of mindless hate must be nearby (he also wonders how the servant got through all these monsters in the first place, but there is no answer that anyone can give him).

After a bit more exploring, the party are confronted by stalagtites that suddenly open out to reveal strange tentacled creatures. There are at least six of these that come flying down at them, but Frank and Elden cleave through most of them, while the rest fall to crossbow bolts. Marellian is sure these things have never been seen before (at least, he hasn’t read about them), so asks Frank if he will carry one in a sack for further study when they get back home. Frank is ok with this, providing Marellian supplies the sack.

They wind their way down numerous inter-connecting passages, until they come across a group of skeletons. Marellian takes charge, brandishing his holy symbol and his holy light dismisses them all (healing party members in the process). Further on, they meet a Wight, which attacks Elden, draining him of energy and health. Marellian assesses him, but declares there is nothing he can do to heal the damage, which requires a restoration spell. Looking decidedly paler, Elden wonders if he’ll die, but Marellian assures him that the Wight did not do enough damage (and if it did, he’d come back as a Wight himself anyway..). Frank finds a ring on the Wight’s finger, which he asks Marellian to examine. Marellian studies it for a while, declaring that it is a ring of spell storing . Frank asks if he can use it, but Marellian replies it is only worth something to a spellcaster, so Frank gives it to him.

As the inter-locking passages come to an end, the party are confronted with a Wraith. Elden is unable to hit it, as he does not have a suitable weapon, but a combination of Marellian with his holy light and Frank with his magic axe prevent it from harming Elden further. The party are then assaulted by many Zombies, which revives Elden’s mood, as he can happily cleave through them. With these foes easily destroyed, they find themselves nearing the end of the caverns.

Their journey through the caverns ends with an unhappy discovery. The cavern in which the desk was once stored has been looted! There is a strange corpse on the ground; it is covered in wiry short hair, has large eyes, an apelike face, and both hands are missing. Studying it, Marellian realises the hands were cut off after death, due to the small ammount of blood. It looks like this creature died from a broken neck; and indeed, above it there is a vertical passage which seems to have been ‘melted’ through the rock. There are marks on the floor consistant with the dragging of an object to the passage. The party decide they will climb this vertical shaft, but the questions remain; who could have done this, and how did they know the desk was in this cavern?

To be continued….

Arroyo Tales
A history lesson?

Party members:

Elden Spirefield (played by Matt)
Frank Wyvernstooth (played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore (played by Leanne)
Marellian Ironcore (played by Dave)
Rayne (player missing; played as n.p.c.)
Arissa Stowe (n.p.c.)

Following the Mayor’s call, the villagers of Arroyo have gathered in the long hall to hear all about these strange visitors (the party) who he has been talking to. He begins by inviting Marellian to speak, and tell the villagers who they are and where they are from. Marellian is not the best public speaker, and waffles on for a bit without getting to the point the mayor requires, so he asks Loraella to simplify things. She merely says that what her brother said is true, confusing the villagers further. In the end, the mayor has to explain himself that these people are all from Flintharrow (cue intake of breath) and that among them are those with the names Ironcore and Spirefield….

After the indignation and shouting has died down, The mayor explains that apparently nobody realised that there were people left behind when the army pulled out, and that there should be no ill will towards these adventurers because of their family past. One young man in particular wants to talk to Elden; his family name is Halfspire, and they claim to be decended from the child of the mistress of captain Spirefield. The other party members do see some vague resemblance to Elden, but the young man is clearly all human…

Mother Henda, the eldest villager, says that now that’s all settled, she can go back to her work, but asks the party to come visit her when they have time, as she would like to talk to them without everyone fussing around them. Frank thinks gallantly about assisting her home, but she doesn’t wait for his help, vanishing before he can offer. One fairly large villager stops Frank to ask about half-orcs, preventing him from catching her exit.

An old timer approaches Marellian and Loraella, asking if they are truly decendants of general Ironcore. Marellian insists that the general was his grandfather, and the old man asks if they will talk with him in private, as he has something important to discuss. Frank tags along, suspicious of anything that takes party members off alone, but his fears are needless. The old man merely wishes to talk about a secret his family have kept down the generations. He tells Marellian and Loraella the Ironcore legacy.

By the time Marellian and Loraella return to the long hall, the excitement of their hosts has dwindled enough for them round up the other party members and leave quietly. They reassure the mayor that if Arroyo doesn’t want Flintharrow to become aware of it’s existance they will keep it a secret, and mention the alliance of free villages to him. He tells them it would be best to stay silent for now, and thanks them for their understanding. They then head over to Mother Henda’s house.

Mother Henda invites them in and they sit round her table. She spends some time quietly looking at them, and the party members begin to think she’s a little senile. Then she tells them not to believe everything that they have been told regarding Arroyo. After the was was ended, there were many who didn’t want to return to the hidebound way of life in the Townships. They managed to evade the roundup and made a life for themselves here. Over the years, in order to feel better about themselves, they concocted a tale of abandonment, and told it so much that they started to believe it themselves. However, as all these tales start with a grain of truth, there may have been some who were genuinely left behind through no fault of their own, and who joined up with the others after the village was started.

This tale of conflicting versions of the same origin story confuses the party, and while they are trying to make sense of it, Mother Henda makes them some tea. During their time sitting drinking tea, Mother Henda’s cat familiar jumps on Marellian’s lap. Mother Henda asks him where his familiar is, and he replies that he left it behind when they entered the Dwarf tunnels, as it was no place for an owl. Mother Henda wonders why he hasn’t called his familiar now that they have left the tunnels, as it’s presence would benefit Marellian greatly. Marellian admits he hadn’t thought about it.

While Marellian is petting her cat, Mother Henda goes off to an old chest, bringing back a scroll that she says might help him in his quest ahead. Reading the sigils on it, he discovers it is a scroll of Knock. He thanks her for the gift, but wonders how soon they can leave with the villagers all interested in them. Mother Henda says that it is easy to creep out of the village, as she has done so many times. It appears that she is friendly with the necromancer who they were warned to stay clear of. She tells them that he offered to marry her once, as she is as close to being dead as some of his undead. He prefers the company of the dead to that of the living, but is willing to talk to anyone who is pleasant to him. Frank tells her that they were told nobody had ever left the village, and she reveals that two young men are currently missing, having gone over the wall a couple of days ago. She asks the party if they will have a look out for the two lads, and send them home if they find them. They tell her that they will do so, and take their leave of her.

By the time they leave Mother Henda’s house, night has fallen, and they decide it would be a good time to see if it is easy to slip over the wall. As mother Henda said, it is very simple to do, and they all leave the village unseen. Elden muses that if monsters did want to attack, they could easily invade the village just by sneaking in, which is a saddening thought. Marellian calls his owl, and after being reunited, the party set off north once more.

A few hours later, having found little evidence of the traps supposed to be scattered around, they spot the ruins of a large settlement to the north west. They scout the ruins, but find that everything has been scavenged bare over the years. Frank finds tracks leading south that could belong to both zombies and skeletons, and they wonder if they should go visit the necromancer. A party discussion concludes with the idea that they should use these ruins to rest a while, as they left during the night without much rest.

In the morning, Frank finds yet more tracks, two sets of which belong to humans. Thinking of their promise to locate the missing village boys, they follow these tracks west. The tracks end with what appears to be an ambush by giant sized tracks, which lead off north west. Following the tracks leads the party to a large cavemouth, which they conclude must be the giant’s lair. Readying their weapons, they carefully enter.

A short way inside the cave, they come across two hill giants. Loraella sneak attacks one, while Frank chops at the other. Marellian casts a spell, turning the giant that his sister attacked into a friend, meaning Elden has to turn his attention to the one Frank attacked, and Rayne uses her Death mask to drain it of health.

Marellian tells the (now friendly) giant that they are here because his people took swome of their friends, and that they would rather get them back without having to kill giants. While the giant is digesting this conversation, Frank and Elden kill the other giant, while Loraella bemoans her lack of success with the crossbow. All the while, Arissa has been hiding behind a rocky wall, too afraid to help out even if she could. Elden jokes that maybe she could use her scream as some sort of sonic energy attack. Frank is about to laugh, when an angry giant appears around the corner in front of him, disturbed by the noises the party are making. Frank leaps onto the giant’s shoulders, hoping to overbalance the giant, but it grabs at him and tears him free, swinging him at Elden. It misses, and Frank lands on his feet like a tumbler.

Elden charges in and attacks the giant, wounding it. Enraged, it swings it’s club and sunders Elden’s greatsword. Dismayed, Elden falls back and Frank takes over the fight. Elden has to resort to using a club to hit with, and the two of them trade blows with the giant, while Loraella and Rayne both fail to find the target with their bows. The Giant retreat, and when the party follow, find that there are more giants down the passage. The friendly giant tells Marellian that the two humans are in the chamber behind the giants, waiting to go in the stockpot. Marellian asks him if the body of the dead giant would be an acceptable subsitute, and it pulls the body off. As the party disengage, the friendly giant takes the wounded giant off to talk. There are yells, and a smack of a club, and the friendly giant comes back out with the two boys. He tells Marellian that there are now two bodies to go in the pot. The party thank it, and leave quickly, before Marellian’s spell wears off.

With Frank quite badly wounded, and Elden mourning the loss of his greatsword, they decide it would be best to go back to Arroyo with the boys, to make sure they got home ok. Elden asks Marellian if he has a spell to repair his greatsword, but Marellian tells him it seems to be beyond repair. The boys tell Elden there is a smith in Arroyo that might be able to help him, which cheers him up a little. At mid-day they return to the wall, to the astonishment of the watchers who had no idea they had left….

To be continued…
Away Ye go!
Season Two Begins at last!

The Party:

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

It has been just over a week now since the party was involved in the titanic battle to defeat the Rock-Terror, and there is still no sign of Daveak returning.
The Dwarves of the Gully are much more friendly and happy now that the evil has been banished, but the Elder offers a word of caution: The RockTerror has only lost it’s body, and the evil that animated that body will slowly regenerate itself until it is strong enough to reform. Hopefully by that time there may be found a way to banish it forever. Therefore they hope that the party is successful in their quest, for it is the same kind of evil that lurks yet in FlintHarrow.

They are unable to help the party in their search for Elves. They explain that Dwarves and Elves don’t usually have much in common, and stay away from each other. Gnomes, they explain, have always been more in touch with the Elves. The only Gnomes they know of live in a monastery to the south-east that used to trade with the Gully before the RockTerror destroyed all the passages that ran that way. The only way to get there now is to cross the Sundered Valley and find a trail out on the eastern cliff face, but the Dwarves tend not to travel much now, so are unsure what dangers the valley might hold. The party decide that they will brave whatever lurks in the valley, and the Elder provides them with an escort to the nearest valley entrance.

As they walk through the tunnels of the Gully, they see many abandoned tunnels, some flooded, others are partially or fully destroyed by cave-ins and rockfalls. The leader of their escort shakes his head, and explains that such is the damage caused by the RockTerror in their lands. The Dwarves of the escort are very alert and wary as they travel, and the leader explains that although the RockTerror has been vanquished, there are still many Bodak left roaming about in the tunnels. Sadly all these were once dwarves, some of whom may even be relatives of the escort, and finding them all will be a long and sad job.

All has been quiet along their journey, and they finally meet with a pair of Dwarves who are warriors of the fort guarding the valley entrance. The leader of the patrol dismisses his men, but he continues on with the party at their request to help them with leaving the fort. He is just explaining to the pair of Dwarves that the party were instrumental in defeating the RockTerror, when there is a crash, and a pair of Bodak explode through a boarded up tunnel in front of him. Frank and Elden battle one, while the Dwarf is aided by Rayne (after she puts on her mask). Loraella fires an arrow at the other Bodak, but the melee prevents her from firing more. The fight is over almost before it had begun, with the pair of Dwarves puffing as they run up, to be scolded by the Escort leader. Looking ashamed, they begin to repair the breach, while he takes the party onward to the fort.

As they leave the darkness of the tunnels behind, the three half-elves all take a deep breath; the first fresh air they’ve smelt in over a week. Thinking it a sigh or relief, the escort leader explains that the Bodak don’t like the sunlight, so will not be seen again. He ushers then through to the fort, where several herdsmen are watching over Dwarf cows. Tools and equipment seem scattered about haphazardly, and the patrol leader tells the party that they should take whatever they need to help them on their journey (to which Frank decides a cow might be nice..) and they all stock up on provisions.

The party are just about to set forth when the patrol leader offers them a few words of advice. He explains that the valley is littered with traps from the time of the war, and that the Dwarves have never managed to find all of them, so to be alert at all times. Once they manage to find a trail out of the valley, they should head south-east until they see some white crystal cliffs; the monastery is atop these cliffs. He wishes them good luck, and gives Marellian a flask of Dwarf ale, saying he’s heard the lad has taken a liking to it. Marellian thanks him, and the party set off. As they turn to leave, the Dwarves all give them a solemn salute, hands on breast, and bow deeply.

Night is falling as they reach the marker stones that signify the edge of Dwarf territories in the valley, but they decide to press on. Only Arissa does not have any kind of night vision so Elden stays close to guide her in the dark. It is not too long before the eagle eyed Loraella and Rayne find the first trap; a pressure pad that Marellian is able to disarm easily. Some time later they find a tripwire strung between two trees, and that is also disarmed. Other traps are also found, including one that is dismantled to gain a rod of shock

They continue on north-east until they come across a dead body. Nearby is a hole or cave of some kind. A search of the body reveals two short swords, and a backpack full of rocks. Frank muses that maybe these rocks are valuable, but they are loathe to lug a load of rocks around, so leave them be. Marellian is about to peek into the hole when Loraella (who had wandered off a short way to look at a tree) is attacked by three dire bats. Seeing her outnumbered, he rushes over to save her, but gets tangled up in his own feet, and falls flat on his face. While the others draw weapons and go to her aid, two more dire bats swoop down on them. One of the three attacking Loraella sees the prostrate form of Marellian, and swoops down on him. Marellian casts burning hands, and fries the bat, which falls nearby. A swift clout with his quarterstaff kills the bat, and Marellian slowly and carefully goes to help his sister, who has taken a wound from a dire bat bite.

Frank takes a mighty leap at one of the swooping bats, and lands sprawling atop it. The extra weight causes it to drop to the ground, where he proceeds to beat it to death. Elden is strangely unable to hit the other bat, and Frank and Rayne have to help him defeat it. Loraella and Marellian defeat the others, while Arissa stands around unable to see anything in the dark except the smouldering corpse made by Marellian. Frank decides the leathery wings of the dire bat would make a good cape, and so cuts them off. Marellian tries to heal Loraella’s wound, and makes a good job of bandaging it.

After the long day, and the tough fight, the party are quite tired, and decide to rest within the cave, which turns out to be the bat’s daytime roost. Marellian gains some bat guano for his spell components, while Frank fashions a rough cape out of the batwings.

The next day, the party set off well rested, and soon come across a group of men who are mining yellowish rock out of a hole in the ground. These men are not pleased to see strangers, and accuse them of being spies for the others. The party have no idea who these others might be, but are not in the mood to fight, and so continue on, leaving the men to their digging.

Marellian is in a playful mood, and with his sister watching out for traps, decides to have a bit of fun with her. Using his mage hand spell, he lifts a rock up in front of her and chases her around with it. At first she thinks she has set off a trap, but as she races past him, she sees the look of concentration on his face, and gives him a slap. His concentration breaks, as does the spell, and the rock drops. She scolds him, but only lightly, as she is glad to see this spirits have improved after a week cooped up under stone.

Later, the party spy some sort of ruined building, with two men searching around in the rubble. They seem friendly, and explain that they too were greeted in a less than friendly manner by the miners. One of them explains that they are scavengers, salvaging anything they can to sell to others. The party let them have the two short swords they found on the body earlier, and in exchange, Marellian is given a tatty looking piece of paper that the scavengers have been unable to read. He examines it, and discovers that it is a scroll of spider climb, which they tell him he can have with their compliments. They warn the party that if they continue onwards in the north east direction they were headed in they will come to the lair of a necromancer, and that it might be better for them to turn more eastwards for a time. Thanking them for the warning, the party do indeed turn eastwards, until they come to the east sidewall of the valley.

They follow the wall of the valley northwards for some time, until their sharp eyes spot movement ahead. Part of the valley wall is in fact a man-made structure, atop which can be seen several human faces peering down. The party hail these people, who seem amazed that they aren’t monsters. They roll down a rope ladder for the party to climb the wall, and welcome them to the village of Arroyo.

The party notice that all the men standing guard atop the wall look almost alike. They also don’t seem too bright, but are certainly enthusiastic. When asked how often the village gets attacked by monsters, they shrug and say that it’s never happened yet. They just got told to man the wall and watch out for monsters. A couple of them usher the party onwards to meet the guy in charge. He just happens to run the local tavern. As they walk through the tavern door all talk inside stops, and all the patrons stare at the strangers.

The guy serving behind the bar is the mayor of the village, Elias Fleebane. He is distrusting of strangers, and becomes even more so when he hears they are from FlintHarrow, and the names Ironcore and Spirefield are mentioned. It transpires that these villagers are decendants of the camp followers and invalids that supposedly got left behind to die when the army of General Ironcore pulled out of the valley. One of the drinkers tells that his grandfather was born several days after the army left, to a woman who was the lover of Captain Spirefield. All his family are named Halfspire. Things are starting to get rowdy, so the mayor tells the party that they must attend a village moot in the long hall to hear the grievances of the villagers, and make amends for their ancestor’s betrayal….

To Be Continued….

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