The longest winter

Holy Winter- Reboot
A blog for our Skype RPG campaign
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cries in the night
adventure 1

The party:

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

Intrductions:

After a few weeks running meaningless errands, and guarding empty offices, the party are summoned to the council chamber. There, they are let in by two half-orc guards. At the end of the great table sit councillor Kincaid and head councillor Ore, along with a scribe to take notes.

Councillor Ore tells the party; " We have had a request from the peat cutters to find out what is stalking their camp each night. Men have been going missing, some have returned after a couple of days, but two have never returned. Those who have returned seem strangely lethargic, and they are suffering from lack of production. Several of the men had complained about an eerie whining moan that kept awaking them during the night. We need you to find the cause of this, and end it. There will be a reward of 1,000GP in total should you manage to discover and end this nightly pest."

Marellian begins asking questions concerning the job, and the peat cutters, to which Ore looks a bit flummoxed. He turns to Kincaid and asks, “Why is Calpurn here? Shouldn’t he be looking after the religious needs of the town?” to which Kincaid replies that this is Calpurn’s son, Marellian, and that Calpurn is dead some 17 years.

The party then ask whether they can be supplied with extra trail rations and ammunition for their bows and crossbows. The scribe issues them with a requisition form to gain what they have asked for from the stores. He quietly says that all expenses incurred will be taken off the reward money. It seems nobody either hears or cares about this, as they accept and leave.

The trail to the peat cutter’s camp is well travelled, and has been gritted for ease of travel. The partry seem in high spirits to be out from the claustraphobic atmosphere of the town, and make good time. After about two hours, they are within the borders of the Shelter Wood, when Frank and Daveak spot a splash of crimson red in the whiteness of the snow ahead. As they get closer, they realise it is a body.

Frank approaches the body and pokes it with his axe. It doesn’t move, and he sees that it has been killed by a savage slash to the throat by long claws. Bite marks cover the corpse, and it’s face has been savaged so much it is unrecognisable.

Daveak finds a trail of dripped blood, and tracks of some large creature. He begins to follow the tracks, but stops when he hears a low growling sound. From a tumble of rocks springs a Dire Wolverine, the size of a bear. It goes for Daveak, but he jumps back from the reach of it’s sharp claws. The party all pile in to help Daveak against the beast, and it is finally killed by a discharge of magic from Marellian, to the surprise of nearly everybody (including Marellian).

The party then discuss what to do with the corpse. Frank is all for burning it, but the others discuss whether it would be best to take it with them to the camp, in case it is one of the missing men. In the end, they decide to take the clothes of the corpse for identification, and allow Frank to burn the body. With this completed, they continue on their way.

After a further two hours of travelling, Frank smells the smoke from the camp’s cooking fire, and the three half elves hear men’s voices ahead. Two men seem to be discussing cleaning their tools before night. Marellian calls out to them, much to Frank’s annoyance. The men are delighted to see the party, but arre a bit put out when Marellian asks to speak to Andiron. They ask why he wishes to speak to just him, to which Marellian replies he had heard Andiron was in charge (a snippet he had picked up in the council chamber). They grudgingly agree, but say that everyone mucks in equally. Marellian diplomatically then says he’d like everyone to be there, which brightens them up again.

Inside the bunk house, The party meet all the remaining peat cutters. Andiron introduces himself, and the others. He explains that they are short staffed, as the men who went missing have decided to go back to town, rather than face more nights out here. Elden mutters that he wishes he’d known that before they set out, so they could have interviewed the men in town, to which Andiron replies they had given up waiting for the council to act. He then explains that the first man went missing from the tool shed one night, but that others had been inside the bunk house. After a fine evening meal, the party ask Andiron to show them round, so that they can plan where to patrol that night.

While showing the party where they dig the peat from, the sharp eyes of the adventurers make out shapes of bodies preserved in the peat. Andiron helps them dig out the two bodies, little more than flat outlines. It is suggested that these may be the cause of the nightly hauntings, and Frank once again suggests they burn the bodies. It is finally decided not to just yet.

That night, while patroling the south east corner of the camp, Loraella sees a dark misty shape drifting aimlessly towards where her half brother is sitting. Fearing for him, she rushes towards him. Meanwhile, on the south west side of camp, a dark shape drifts towards Daveak, an act that catches the eye of Frank, who is up a tree. Frank jumps down and begins to stalk the dark shape.

Marellian sees the shape drifting towards him, and recalls that he once read in a book about such a creature; an Allip, the spectral remains of someone driven to suicide by a madness that afflicted it in life. By now, Elden has seen the creature, and fires an arrow at it. when his shot passes through the creature, he realises that nothing he posesses can harm it, and keeps his distance. The creature drifts off to the north east, away from Marellian, and Loraella berates him for putting himself in danger to get a closer look at it. Meanwhile, the other Allip has drifted towards the bunk house, and seems to be screaming silently at the window. Frank and Daveak keep a respectful distance, and it slowly drifts off to the north east. The party follow the two Allips, but give up when their quarry get too misty and fade from sight.

Upon their return to the bunk house, they are confronted by the sight of one of the peat cutters apparently sleep walking, wearing only his small clothes. They wake him , and he is understandably perturbed to be out and about when the last thing he remembers was going to bed. The noise wakes the other peat cutters, and Andiron asks the party what they have found out, and why one of the men is being manhandled in only his briefs. Luckily, everyone calms down, and the rest of the night passes without incident.

The next day, Frank gets his way, and the two bodies found in the peat are cremated. One of the peat cutters sets off into town with a cart load of peat, and the others dig out more. The party wander around looking for anything unusual, but all seems quiet. They discuss what to do the next night, as they are still unsure if burning the bodies would stop the haunting. The general consensus is to stay inside and watch, but Daveak, perhaps because of the overcrowding upsetting his solitary nature, elects to stay in the tree that Frank had used the night before.

That night, there seems to be no sign of the wandering Allips, but Daveak hears an unearthly song of misery. Due to his previous experiences against Fae creatures, he realises it is the song of a Dryad, but it seems twisted somehow. He he fails to respond to it’s woes, and it seems to get louder and more eerie. He goes to the bunk house to tell the others about it, and Marellian, listening from the doorway, falls under it’s spell, and takes off to the north east. Loraella mutters under her breath, and sets off to bring him back, followed by the others.

In a small wooded glen, they catch up with Malellian, who wakes from his enspelled trance, just as Frank, Elden and Loraella are taken by the song. They march off into a small opening that yawms open in the north west. Marellian and Daveak quickly follow them, but Frank’s long strides take him further than the others, and he passes out of Daveak’s sight in the gloom. Marellian attempts to disrupt the spell on his half sister by using a cantrip called ‘ghost sounds’, and miraculously suceeds. As he crows about saving her, she retorts, “About time it was the other way round for once.” Daveak manages to catch Elden, and grapples him to the floor, waking him from his trance. The party then chase off after Frank.

They find Frank in a small hollowed out area, with roots and twigs seemingly forming a loose cage , as well as the two missing peat cutters. One of the peat cutters has be driven close to insanity by the Dryad’s song, but the other is more interested about getting away. As they escort these men back out, thet realise that the roots have intertwined to form a barrier, preventing exit. Marellian attempts a burning hands spell, but barely manages to scorch the roots. Frank and Elden resort to more mundane weapons, and quickly turn the barrier to tinder.

As the barrier falls apart, the Dryad makes her appearance. Some ancient curse has transformed her into an undead creature. Stepping out from the wooded wall behind Daveak, she narrowly misses him with her long nails. His cry of shock alert the others, and she falls quickly to the party’s blades, with Loraella making the killing blow. Elden, meanwhile, is annointing his blade with holy water to make it more potent to such an undead creature, but by the time he has completed the task, the battle is over.

The battle over, the party decide to take the peat cutters back to the bunk house, but the mad one rushes off, fearing to step outside the Dyad’s lair. They find him in a room which is a parody of a tree’s canopy, with branches upon which hang trinkets that the Dryad has collected from her victims. Loraella takes a silver comb, encrusted with moonstones, Marellian takes a curious flute carved from bone, Elden takes a strange looking rusted gauntlet, Daveak takes a necklace threaded through shiny stones, and Frank takes a large leather belt.

The peat cutters are overjoyed that their ordeal is over, and Andiron gives the party a small bag of gold that they have all saved up. Loraella takes it quickly, and counts 25GP through the cloth. The party take the poor mad peat cutter back to town, and leave him in the care of the Temple of compassion.

The adventure ends with the party still unsure who the dead body was, and they still have the clothes to try and identify it by.

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Letting off steam
second adventure

The party:

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

It has been a couple of days since their return from the peat cutter’s camp. During this time, Marellian was studying the items that were found in the lair of the undead Dryad. He gives his verdict on them, but a couple of characters feel they need a second opinion.

A young Tiefling rogue, called Rayne, joins up with the group after finishing a ‘re-education course’. Frank seems to take a liking to her, and she is admitted to the party without much fuss.

While wandering the streets of the Low Quarter, Daveak announces his intention to have his new necklace appraised by a jeweler. Marellian has told him it is a necklace of strangulation, and his is unsure what to do with it. He spies a merchant’s shop, and wanders inside, hoping to find directions to the nearest jeweler. The rest of the party follow him inside, where they discover a seller of foodstuff. Elden seems interested in the merchant’s wares, but after finding out there is a jeweler in the next block, Daveak is keen to go.

Meanwhile, Marellian (who is sulking outside because they want a second opinion) overhears two old ladies talking about missing people.Thinking back to the dead body the party found on their way to the peat cutter’s camp, he asks them if they know of any themselves. When he inquires, they tell him that many townsfolk are frequenting the soup kitchen set up by the compassionate church, and some of them have most likely wandered out into the snowy waste to either end it all or find work elsewhere. At that point, the others return from visiting the jeweler’s shop.

It seems the jeweler had examined Daveak’s necklace, and informed him that it was in fact an old piece, used by druids to train their apprentices. The wearer of the necklace would be able to approach wild animals without spooking them, as the necklace masks the scent of the wearer. As an added bonus, this meant that the wearer could not be tracked by scent. Daveak informed the jeweler that he had been told that it was a necklace of strangulation, to which the jeweler laughed. Hearing this, Elden becomes suspicious that his find is more than just a rusty old gauntlet.

With time on their hands, the party decide to visit a nearby inn, where they find an empty table. The Inn seems very quiet, with only three or four patrons, but it is early in the day. Daveak and Rayne go to the bar, where Rayne is mistaken for a child by the barmaid. Service seems very slow considering they are the only ones asking for drinks.

One of the council’s half Orc guards enters the inn, sees the party, and strides over. Without introduction, he simply tells them they are wanted in the council chamber, and walks out again. They scramble to folow, calling to Daveak and Rayne at the bar. The barmaid watches them go, still without pouring their drinks, and bemoans to herself that she should have asked for the money up front.

Out in the street, they follow the guard, when a hissing sound can be heard. Suddenly, a jet of steam envelopes the guard, scolding him quite badly. Daveak applies first aid to the guard, while the others examine the source of the steam. It would seem that one of the pipes supplying heat to the town has burst, and looks as if it has rusted through. The guard stoically continues on to the council chamber, without even thanking Daveak.

In the council chamber, they are met by councillor Parathion, who introduces a young man with her as Andrews. Councillor Parathion is from the Cinder path guild, who are responsible for the township’s heating system. She explains that several of the pipes have been found to have rusted through, which should be impossible, as they were created centuries ago and protected from such an occurance by magic. Something is causing the pipes to deteriorate, and she asks the party to look into it. She reassures them that during their time in the area affected the heat and pressure will be reduced, as a precaution.

Elden takes this opportunity to ask councillor Parathion about his rusty gauntlet. He figures as a member of the magic guild she should be able to identify it. She tells him it is a gauntlet of rust, which will protect him from any attacks that might cause rusting. It also allows him to use a ‘rusting grasp’ once a day.

The party realise that the councillor has yet to discuss their payment for the job, and ask her how much they will be paid. she replies that they will each get 50gp, which divides the party. Some think that this is fair for four hours work, while others think it should be more. Rayne attempts to bargain with the councillor, with great success, and she is forced to admit that she was also saving part of the reward as a surprise. On completion, they will each get a minor magic item. This cheers them up, and they are eager to be off. Andrews, who is one of the team that monitors the heat system, leads them to the access point nearest the breaches.

Andrews leads them down into a small room which is an access point to the heat system. He produces a small wand, which he calls a ‘spell-spanner’ (to sniggers) and explains that this deactivates the wards on the door, allowing entry. After showing Marellian how it works, he wishes them good luck, and heads off. Marellian tries it on the door, which opens. Loraella decides she will go first to scout the way.

A short way inside the doorway, Loraella discovers faintly glowing runes, which she cannot decipher. She calls to her brother to take a look. He tells everyone that the runes themselves make no sense, but they seem to have magic embued in the writing. Elden touches the runes, and a small bolt of elecricity sends him sprawling back. Marellian then decides to touch the runes with the end of the spell-spanner, and melts the end of the spanner. Frank can be heard back at the doorway saying; “Idiot”. He and Rayne join the group, but as they near the runes, Rayne feels a little queasy. This makes the party paranoid about traps, but Marellian suggests that it might have something to do with her demonic ancestry making her more susceptible to the runes. They pass by the runes without further ill effect.

After exploring a couple of areas without noticing anything, they come to an intersection. Frank looks down a corridor leading east, and spots two strange worm-like creatures that appear to be feeding on the metal plating of the corridor. Daveak, Elden and Frank rush into melee, while the others ready missile weapons. The first worm falls easily to Daveak’s longsword, while Frank and Elden take care of the other. During the fight, Marellian lets off a crossbow bolt, which clatters harmlessly off the ceiling. The shock of realising he could have hit one of his friends sends the mage into a faint, and he falls back into a puddle of water. Loraella scolds him for his foolishness, after she has slapped him awake. Frnk asks if anyone has a bag they can put the bodies in, to take them back for identification, as he’s pretty sure nothing like this has been seen in Flint-Harrow before. Loraella gives him an empty sack she was hoping to fill with treasure.

Frank, Elden and Rayne take off down the corridor east, nimbly stepping around the rust affected areas. Meanwhile, Daveak, Loraella and Marellian take a corridor north, where Daveak comes face to face with a large monstrous centipede. Marellian charges in, wielding his wooden quarterstaff, and deals it a sound blow on the head. Elden, on hearing sounds of battle, takes an intersecting corridor, hoping to catch whatever foe the others have found from the rear, while Frank and Rayne continue onwards east, where they find a further three of the strange worms.

With a stupendous blow, Daveak kills the monstrous centipede, just as Elden appears to join in the battle. Frank and Rayne find their three opponents fairly easy, and Rayne kills two to Frank’s one. The room in which they found these worms is a dead end, so they retrace their steps until they rejoin the others. There, they find that Daveak has carved the corpse of the centipede, and everyone is eating barbequed leg of centipede. Frank takes two, as he’s worked up an appetite.

Elden remarks that they must be pretty close to where the half Orc guard was scolded by steam, and maybe they should look out for breaches in the pipe ahead. Travelling east, they find such a breach, and when they look into the hole, find a nest of small monstrous centipedes. They take no time at all in squashing these vermin, and Marellian finds a pair of boots inside the centipede nest, which he shakes the rubbish out of, and puts on. He then asks his sister if she can help him with the laces, much to the party’s amusement.

Further on, the corridor opens into another small room, in which the party finally encounter rust monsters. Elden, emboldened by the fact his gauntlet gives him immunity to the monster’s rusting attacks, charges in. He is the only party member to go into melee, while the others stand back and shoot. Elden kills one of the rust monsters, while the other takes a few hits from crossbow bolts, and finally falls to Marellian’s magic missile. Elden has taken a couple of bite wounds, but he doesn’t ask for aid from Daveak, instead marching on to find more foes.

Loraella, who has been watching out for further runic symbols, finds yet another set in the corridor wall. As before, these runes make Rayne feel queasy, but there is no further danger from them. Marellian remarks that maybe their potency has dulled over time, and this is one reason why there are now rust monsters running about in the tunnels. Frank asks him why the monsters would be able to survive, given the heat supposedly in these tunnels usually, but Marellian has no answer to that. Their conversation is brought short by Elden, who has found another rust monster ahead. He kills it with one mighty blow, before the rest of the party have even readied their weapons.

Finally, the party reach a large chamber, riddled with rust. There are several spent pupae casings lying around, and bits of old rags and linen scattered around. Rayne steps into the room, and peers through one of the holes in the floor. Below her, she sees an enormous rust monster, it’s feelers gently turning some of the thousands of eggs that make up it’s brood. Rayne realises that if these eggs were to hatch, the whole heating system would be destroyed.

Elden takes the lead, jumping down onto the giant rust monster’s back, and plunging his greatsword into it’s segmented body. Frank jumps down too, but tries to ride the rust monster as if it were a mount. It is unsure if Marellian meant to jump down, or simply fell through a hole, but he bravely faces the rust monster, while squishing eggs underfoot. the others stat in the chamber above, and fire down onto the rust monster.

Elden gives the rust monster a death blow, and is crushed as it topples over on top of him. Frank manages to dive clear. After a brief discussion about leaving Elden beneath the body or trying to dig him out, the party decide to save their comrade, and Frank cuts off the giant rust monster’s head. They climb out of the hole, and make their way back to the surface. There, they are met by Andrews, and after taking Elden to be looked after by clerics of the compassionate church, they return to the council chamber.

Councillor Parathion is pleased to see that they have returned, and doubly pleased that they thought to bring back bodies of the strange rust worms. She tells the party she cannot be sure, but the worms seem to be a mutation from rust monsters. The immense size of the rust monster head they brought back also gives her cause for concern, as these things are not meant to grow that large. There is still a mystery as to how they got into the system in the first place, and how they managed to survive there, and eat the magically protected metal. she decides to shut off that portion of the system until a guild repair team have been in and cleaned it up. Thanking the party, she allows them a lucky dip into her bag of minor magic items. Loraella is first, and gets a potion of spider climb. Daveak gets a potion of sneaking, Elden pulls out a ring of warmth, Frank gets a wand of detect magic, Marellian fumbles around until he pulls out a scroll of magic weapon, and Rayne gets an ever burning torch. As an added bonus, the councillor gives them a +1 shield, deep red in colour. The party scratch their heads at this, as none of them see the need to use shields. It is suggested they could sell it, or wait until a new member of their team was to turn up.

With another adventure over, they still have not found anyone who could identify the clothes they took from the corpse in the Shelter wood, have vague hints about missing people they are yet to look into, and now are left wondering how rust monsters were able to get into the heating system.

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Dark Water
Tendrils of corruption

The Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rogue Trader
(And not the warhammer 40K kind)

Characters present:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued…

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

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

Elden:

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

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

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

Daveak:

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

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

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

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

The party:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Characters:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The party:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued…

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

The Party:

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

continuing from ‘Following the Orc Map’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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