Trials & Trails

Episode 5: "All's (un)Well in Mageswell"
And it stoned him (and her, as well)

Finbaar’s need for a water breathing potion, combined with Tiskus’ (sudden) need to discern the meaning of a broken tablet dropped in his lap after a night of heavy libations, leads the party to the magical city of Mageswell, where the great dome protects the good (and vaporizes the evil). A mundane journey leads the group into the the Sparkling City on Kor Kolvast (Sorcerer’s Lake). Once inside, various things happen:

THE GROUP: After some time at Mageswell, the party meets up (through Rafos) with the Xorsbottom family, who are awaiting the arrival of their cousin, Delia, who is set to wed Lord Mercor Foeblade in 10 days. The Fab Four travel NE along the Plinth Road, where they find Delia’s abandoned cart and horses. Long story short, seems the bride to be and her party of 6 trained warriors were waylayed by a Medusa with siren-like powers. The group engages the magically-protected creature, using her own gaze to turn her to stone, thanks to Tiskus’ quick thinking and Telvas’ handy mirror. Delia is found buried alive, being used, evidently, as a life-source for the Medusa. The poor warriors, alas, are statues in her garden. Of note: Finbaar’s hand is turned to stone in the encounter, shillelagh with it, gaining him a new nickname (“Stonefist”), and limiting his shapeshifting ability (you can’t fly with one wind made of stone). The somewhat grateful Xorsbottoms grant signet rings to the non-Mageswell residents, and promise Tiskus a future favor. The party also earns 20 coins and a horse.

On the individual front:

FINBAAR: The self-taught druid visits the Temple of Ga, the Sun God, Father of the Cosmos. Here, he learns the Staff of Kyume may not have been Kyume’s at all. Evidently, the thing belonging to someone, or something, else, as the Black Obelisk informs him. Nevertheless, the Relic-Staff proves valuable to the party as a bargaining chip, allowing them to loan it to the University for 6 months of study, in exchange for a “Flask of Breaths,” which will allow the Druid to conduct his part of the ceremony during the Festival of Ribbons three weeks hence, in the Onall valley. He also gains much needed coin for the party (500, to be exact).

TISKUS: An unidentified novice drops a bag containing pieces from a larger tablet, plus Csonka’s signet ring. The pieces form the edge of a greater piece, and contain writing in Elvish, Dwarf, Woodland script, and ancient Maglamese, which reads, “…when the eye of the Plem is fixed firmly on the Dem-…” The Elvish script forms the symbol of Chaos, while the ancient woodland script, according to Rafos’ training, contains the number “6” (not 8, you moron). The Dwarven icons remain a mystery, though TIskus’ former classmate, Foscoe Borgia informs him that one “Alex,” in relics, specializes in such things.

TELVAS: The warrior makes an acquaintance, one Pakrad Ghukasian (aka “Swiftsteel”), from Epid Sal, who seems to be interested in adventuring with the now well-known Spinner. Later, in Mageswell, our Elf warrior befriends the wisecracking Fulmer and his dimwitted partner, Josh, who have have managed to smuggle poisonous Red Lotus into Mageswell, to deliver to an unidentified recipient 3 days hence. Telvas arranges to meet with the duo in a week or so back in Felston to discuss the smuggling trade.

RAFOS: Feeling claustrophic, the woodsman wanders the streets of Mageswell, eventually spending some time among the intelligentsia in the coffee house district, where he hears serious discussions of the political situation in Epid Sal. Seems King Hurlen Haggis is making some sort of moves against Baroness Stone to gain access to “The Pass.” He also hears discussions of the Dwarves of Bronzecliff, specially trained dragon fighters who haven’t actually fought a dragon for 200 years (though there are rumors of such things spotted near the fortress). The Ranger’s concerns about incursions from the westland Elves of Mirrorgrove, not to mention goblin activity within the great wood, and the peculiar smell of decay just north of Felston, gain no new information. To be expected, one supposes, as no one cares for the wood until the wood spits out bad things.

GOINGS ON:
FELSTON: The extra-dimensional fissures that spit forth Mist Wraiths have created great demand for woodland guides, in order to keep Felston’s hunting industry afloat. The city continues to grow. Sapari Elves from the south have opened up a spice shop, specializing in Elvish Agh’Chvorlav (or “good salt”).

THE ONALL DELTA: The Festival of Ribbons is less than two weeks away.

LORD FOEBLADE’S WEDDING: The party has been invited by the bride. The wedding was scheduled 5 days hence, but has been delayed to coincide with the Festival of Ribbons.

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Episode 4: "Blood Forest of the Dead Druid"
Freeing the Finneroak

The Fab Four’s next escapade involves strange doings in the Finneroak, a perfect patch of hunting ground utilized by nearby Felston. A red mist has appeared and expanded, creating deadly, dark, thorn-like hedge plants within the trunks. Gruntorm Drunkseeker once again asks their aid.

Things start off with a “FLUMPF!” as, when Tiscus “boldly enters the mist” pits appear beneath him, dropping him down unceremoniously. After Telvas enters, acclimatizes and hauls him out, the party makes their way through the thick, heavy fog.

Finding the well-known paths suddenly gone and replace by new ones, the party follows Finbaar’s shape-shifted lead, to eventually come upon a four way intersection. Summoning aid from Mestamilsa, the spirit knowledge, Finbaar determines they must proceed left. All is not well, however. A ghostly voice echoes through a rising wind, ordering them to leave, terming them all “corrupters.” Neverethless, the group presses on, warrior Telvas in the lead.

Eventually, they come to a clearing containing a tremendous, spreading Krystaltree. The usually beautiful appearance of the tree is marred, however, by pieces of dead goblin strewn about its branches, as well as a tremendous blood stain on its trunk. Telvas’ warrior training puts 2 and 2 together, leading his gaze to follow a clear print trail to a point above his head, where a huge, camouflaged lizard creature bounds out of the branches!

The battle is brief, but intense. In a fit of somewhat misguided bravery, Tiscus draws the creatures attention, and ends up hurled into the thorn bushes. But his maneuver allows the rest of the party to shine. Rafos fires his deadly bow from behind the party, while FInbaar swings a swift shillelagh. Using his characteristic spins, Telvas manages to swing and slip behind the creature, setting up a surprise attack. The combined efforts of wood and steel send the creature to the ground.

Seeing the guardian Gilk (as they would later determined it was called), the party determines that “this must be the place.” Using Rafos’ historical knowledge of the legendary druid Kyume, plus Tiscus’ arcane training, they determine that the Krystaltree (so called for its secreted, crystalline sap), which is wavering in and out of time, is the key to the mystery of the Blood Red Mist. A ritual is in order. Ticus knows, however, that the ritual WILL summon additional guardians. Further, he will need Finbaar’s help in completing it (AND it will cost TIscus his spellbook). This leaves the ranger and warrior to proect them.

Yet, it must be done. So they do it. Rafos takes up residence in upper portion of the tree, while Telvas waits, below. The ritual begins. From out of the mist, a group of wraith-like figures appears and attacks! Their howls tear through the very souls of the heroes, but they continue fighting, holding out. Eventually, the wraiths are dispatched and the ritual is completed. An extradimensional doorway into the great tree itself is found.

Within the tree, they locate the remains of Kyume, the ancient caretaker of the forest. As Finbaar takes up the druid’s magical staff, he is filled with the memories and spirit of the long dead guardian. Kyume, it seems, died before he could select and train an heir. For ages, his body lay in his home within the timeless, created space of the tree. But his spirit wandered, unable to depart until his mission was fulfilled. Eventually, he was driven made, and used as a tool by dark forces of the underworld. His spirit began to see ANY intrusion into the forest as a “corruption.” Finally able to send his essence into the outside world, he created the bloody mist, bringing the blood wraiths into the world, as well as the Gilk.

However, thanks to Finbaar taking up the staff (and the mantle of Wood Warden), Kyume’s spirit was put to rest. The blood mist, however, was another matter. Over the course of the next few weeks, the party traveled from place to place within the Finneroak, conducting additional cleansing rituals, restoring the wood to what it was. As it stands now, the corruption seems to be gone. There have been reports, however, of random fissures sending Red Mist Wraiths into the world. The locals preach vigilance, and watch their backs.

When the party returns to Felston, they are rewarded again by Drunkseeker. and made “Knights of the Rock.” They bring back some valuables, a couple of magical items, and a great story to tell everyone.


INTERLUDE:

Tiscus: Csonka has not returned to Felston as yet. He is not overdue by any means, but, of greater concern is that he has sent no messages, either. On a separate note, you have been offered work as a smith in the local foundry. The foundry is next door to the new spice shop, where you’ve noticed the beautiful Elven woman, Meira Ereil.

Finbaar: the Festival of Ribbons is due to take place back at Onall, in three weeks. As a local hero, you’ve been asked to solicit the Vardagyuns’ (dolphins’) blessings. This requires creation of a water breathing potion. If you wish to conduct the ritual, that is.

Rafos: you’ve found signs of Goblins active in the western reaches of the wood, near the Hulon Cut, a deep, forested chasm. You also found another discarded Grey arrow in the Finneroak, not far from where you found the bow. The Militant Elves of Mirrorgrove seem to venturing much further east than before.

Telvas: A group of Sapari (city elves, like yourself), have arrived at Felston to set up a spice shop. The extended family includes a young woman named Meira Ereil, who seems to have taken an shine to you (much to the chagrin of her father, Terym).

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Episode 3: The Tiger in the Maze
Welcome to the wandering wizard

Drunkseeker’s summons results in a strange commission for the party. Seems the self-appointed “Baron” of said “Fortress” has lost his pet tiger, and the tiger (said to be “totally docile”), has attacked hunting parties in the nearby Waverwood. Gruntorm wants the thing destroyed.

But, of course, the party has other things in mind. Wardens of the wild. Rafos and Finbaar, want to determine the sudden change in the “docile” creature’s behavior. After some bait and switch, the tiger is found, and it is clear to them that it has been “possessed” in some Arcane way. In need of an expert, they locate the only mage in town, Tiscus, who has arrived at Felston in answer of a summons from his mentor, Buskor Csonka. As Csonka is not due to arrive for a few days, Tiscus takes on the task of freeing the tiger from its enchantment.

Investigation into the tiger’s living conditions reveals that its food was contaminated (though by whom and why, no one is sure). Tiscus devises a cure, but he’ll need to lure the tiger into a ritual circle to complete it. Since the tiger is still very dangerous, the group devises a clever maze within the forest, sending the creature right at Tiscus.

Unfortunately, things go awry. The Tiger eludes the last portion of the maze and attacks Tiscus (who is narrowly “saved” by Telvas). In a fit of fear and adrenaline, Tiscus changes the incantation, killing the tiger.

Disheartened by their “failure,” the party refuses the commission money, even though, as far as Gruntorm is concerned, the efffort was successful. In the aftermath, the Druid and Ranger return to the wild for a time, while Telvas and Tiscus enjoy the meager amenities of Felston.


INTERLUDES:

TISCUS: When Csonka arrives, he informs Tiscus of an important archeological find related to “the Elders,” a mythological group of “super beings” some scholars believe tried to destroy the world, long, long ago. Csonka informs Tiscus that he has gathered information on a find that could reveal some secerets. He asks Tiscus to “clear his calendar for some intense study,” and promises to return “soon” to discuss his findings.

TELVAS: Through his carousing and keen ears, Telvas learns that the tiger’s trainer disappeared from his job several weeks before the pet went rogue. He was replaced by a woman named Taya Valsmith, a tall, striking woman who quit the job and disappeared just after the tiger “turned.”
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Episode 2: "The Summer Gang"
The creation of a nemesis

Finbaar, Rafos and Telvas join forces once again, this time to dispatch a group of bullies harassing villagers near the Fortress Felston. A gang of toughs under the employ of Thorne Summer, the Black Sun, has encroached on the outlying farms, extorting crops, money, and whatever else they can take. The three take up residence near Broad Creek, where they ambush Summer and his motley crew, sending most of the 20 toughs to their doom. The Black Sun gets away, of course.

Words gets back to the “Baron” of Felston, Gruntorm Drunkseeker, who summons the trio for an audience in his “royal presence”

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Episode 1: "The Siege From Within"
Things go BUMP! in the forest

A trio of unlikely heroes comes together in the Finneroak, where Druid Finbaar has made camp near the Lumenspring to gather herbs. The self-taught master of the wild literally runs into Telvas, a wounded Elven warrior who is obviously seeking a place to hide (but from what?). In any case, Finbaar tends to the Elf’s wounds (to include a huge gash across his brow).

The duo becomes a trio when Rafos the Ranger reveals himself and his missions — seems there have been problems near the Kohara, the dense wood (sometimes called “The Suicide Forest”). The spirits protecting the wood have been “acting up” (or so the local hunters day).

The three decide to investigate. In short order, they are drawn into the wood by the Syrins, the dryadic spirits of Kohara. Hopelessly lost and, at one point, beseiged by the normally peaceful spirits, the trio makes their way to the wellspring, the Dul’thur, a magical pond that fuels the pristine wood. Within the pond they find the source of the Koharran spirits’ antipathy—a water elemental has taken residence within!

Through a combination of druidic ritual by Finbarr, combined with the subduiing techniques of Ranger Rafos and Warrior Telvas, the trio expunges the corruption from the pond. The Dryads transport them to the wood’s edge, grateful, but warning them to stay away nevertheless. In any case, the three heroes from disparate backgrounds begin to forge a bond.

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