Trials & Trails

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.

View
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”

View
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.”
View
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).

View
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.

View
Episode 6, Part 1: "More Than They Can Chew"
Following the jerky to the jerk

After spending an additional day in Mageswell, where Tiskus uncovers more information about the tablet fragment (namely that the dwarven symbol stands for the great God of Law, Kranrik), the group travels back to Felston in search of more coin prior to heading to the Onall Delta for the Festival of Ribbons (as well as the coincidental marriage of Delia and Lord Foeblade). An overdue shipment of jerky from the south nets them a job with Gruntorm Drunkseeker, who seeks information as to its whereabouts. Sans Telvas, who has a prior engagement with Red Lotus smuggler Fulmer, they head down the trade road, seeking out clues.

Before long, they discover sign that the jerky shipment wagon stopped at Waystattion Deer Horn, where it rendezvoused with a second wagon from the eastern hills. The wagon then headed directly westward, toward the Ribbons, the three estuaries feeding the Onall valley. The party finds the wagon abandoned at riverside, horses long gone, with plenty of goblin tracks about. However…

The group’s investigations reveal that the goblins literally walked right into the river, and across the bottom of it (evidently). Discovery of a pair of glass vials stuck in the river mud indicates magical potionage (which coincides with findings in Mageswell, of “scads” of missing water breathing potions obtained by a forged request from Csonka).

Though certainly curious about the overall picture, the party’s main focus is on the goblins. Thus, Finbaar turns turtle and makes his way across (slowly…). Once there, the druid of the deadly shillelagh finds obvious goblin sign. The rest of the group (to include retainer Shyk Wisecleaver), turn the wagon into a makeshift raft, then head across, clutching each other in semi-huddle fashion as the boat falls apart. They leap off the last rail just as it disintegrates, and everyone is on the far shore.

Once there, Rafos uses his Rangery skills to get them on the right path. But, with night coming on, and no sign of their quarry, they make a clever campsite in the evergreen forest west of the river. The night passes uneventfully. The morning, however, is another story….

While Tiskus is taking last watch, invisibly perched in a tree, he catches sight of a goblin group, with a few worg riders. With everyone else hidden and snoozing, he attempts to get their attention using a tossed pebble with a light spell on it. His aim is true, but not perfect. the party is awakened, but the goblins catch sight of the light. They stream over to investigate.

What follows is a complete goblin bashing, the kind that promotes hubris (as we shall soon see). Finbaar Stonefist delivers deadly blows with this shillelagh, while Rafos sprays arrows, Shyk provides cover and support, and TIskus does he best “death from above” leap onto the back of…nothing. The mage FLUMPHS to the ground, landing next to a somewhat surprised Worg.

A dozen dead goblins and 3 dead Worgs later, the party, having chased off the last two goblins, decides to make a stand in the wood where they are, with full knowledge that the goblins WILL be coming back, with reinforcements. What follows is more than they bargained for…

The goblin troupe they destroyed, evidently a scout group, belonged to a greater contingent. Over 30 goblins come back, supported by 3 Shaman casters. The party stands fast, taking down several members of the vanguard, only to be overwhelmed by their own sense of invulnerability. Surrounded and outmanned, they see no other recourse but to surrender. They are then stripped of their belongings and marched through the wood to The Rock, a large formation, out of which flows a gentle stream.

But within the rock, hidden inside its natural cave formations, lurks an old foe—Eldabon “Summer” Thorne, he of the Summer Gang. The obvious leader of the goblin encampment, which seems to consist of elements of several tribes, smiles broadly at this unexpected boon.

View
Episode 6, Part 2: (Even) More Then They Can Chew
A second helping

As Telvas negotiates his way into a possible position in the Red Lotus trade via Fulmer (and a 250 coin fee), Finbar, Tiskus and Rafos find themselves imprisoned in the lair of Eldabon Thorne and his newly acquired minions. The smooth-tongued mage’s entreaties are silenced by both Thorne and the threatening looking Witha, a prospective torturer of the troupe, which avoids the rack (or whatever she has in store), due to a rapid timetable Thorne and his motley goblins seem to be on.

Long story short:
*As Rafos and Tisky distract Witha and the gobbies, Finbar goes full horse and sprints his way right out of the lair, eventually diving from the second story right into a nestling stream below. Left for dead after a blade and arrow caressing at the hands of greenskins and needle goblins, the druid meets with certain death and is sent back to the world of the living, where he washes up in the swamp far from his captors, still breathing and severely beaten.

*Rafos’ endures a similar fate, except death sends him back a changed person. The soft-spoken ranger returns as some sort of evil avatar, and, in a moment where he, Shyk and Tiskus seem to have talked their way into negotiations with Thorne, slices Witha’s throat. Smoth move—Witha is Thorne’s consort. His witnessing of her death effectively brings about an end to all negotiations, forcing Rafos and Shyk to beat feet in the direction of the already hoofed-out-of-there Finbar. While Rafos eventually escapes to the woods, Shyk is pincushioned as he slides down the pulley-chain in the escape chute. Scratch one hireling.

*When Tiskus comes to, he tosses on the invisibility mask (spell), and literally walks out of the lair (or rather, eventually shimmies down a silk rope). He locates his spellbook, procures a few choice group items, and heads for civilization.

The group of four finally comes together at the festival of Ribbons, where Finbar, who is Flaskless (i.e., missing his magical flasks, which puts getting back his staff in jeopardy), donates all his funds to obtain a needed potion to complete his task.

Meanwhile, Tiskus calls in his favor from Delia Xorsbottom (now Delia Foeblade), meets with Lord Foeblade himself, and gains the loan of three veteran warriors to help the Fab Four return to Thorne’s hideout to steal back their stuff (including said flask).

Some concerns arise, however, foremost of which is the Foeblade soldiers list among their number one Jaeel Deerclan, former friend/peer/?? of Telvas, who REALLY, REALLY has a bone to pick with the spinning swordsman. The group makes sure to keep the two apart as they arrange a resupply in nearby Briarhollow. The adventure ends with Tiskus bringing Foeblade’s contingent into town to meet up with Fin, Rafe and Telv, then set off for the goblin lair.

In the meantime:
*Thorne’s “timetable” is obviously skewed by the group’s escape and slaying of Witha. But what was he up to, and what was the effect?

*Finbar has found his stone paw is quite the burden, and makes plans to have the curse removed (without just chopping the hand off, of course).

*Telvas is nowhere near the coin he needs, but Fulmer has agreed to arrange a meeting with his contacts if the elven blade wielder can steal Gruntorm Drunkseeker’s ledgers and deliver them to him within a month.

*Tiskus’ magic draws unwanted (albeit temporary) attention from a bureaucratic demon . down below. No real price is paid for the attention, save loss of a position with legendary chef Jacques Dufresne.

*Rafos’ existence is now dependent on slaying an innocent monthly, lest he return to the abyss. Now that he’s clearly a not-so-good guy, that abyss is looking pretty…warm…

TIMELINE:
Adventure started: end of April.
Time passed: 5.5 days.
I
Next adventure starts: “May” 5th. A blustery day, with rain in the forecast.

View
Episode 7: "Serpentine Fire"
Death comes in twos

The party’s plan to raid the Goblin encampment mixes victory with defeat, as, after botching the approach, they slay 30 needle goblins, but lose a party member to a poison dart. Here’s how it goes down:

The raid
(1) “Learning the ropes”: Nightfall. Finbar and Rafos shimmy along the ledge of The Rock, well below the goblin overlook, keeping completely out of sight (and catching sight of a single goblin worg rider entering the lair from the [they believe] well-guarded stream entrance). The shapechanging druid turns stone-fisted squirrel, and scampers his way up to the ledge in front of the lax goblin guard-point, where he manages to stealthily screen his efforts to tie off a rope for his compatriots. As he waits, Rafos gathers the party, below, sending Tiskus up first. Unfortunately, the mage is less than stealthy, and causes the just-fixed rope to come off, sending it tumbling back down. Rafos fires an arrow with a second rope attached, which Finbar grabs and ties off. While Finbar and Tiskus wait, above, Telvas begins his climb.

(2) “Rolling an ill-timed fatty”: While Telvas makes his way up, Finbar, who’s been keeping tabs on the goblin watch inside via an unused porthole, shapechanges back into the little vermin—except this time, it’s not so damned little (fickle Gods and their stupid, mercurial power-granting). Having turned into a slightly fatter than normal rat, the Druid nevertheless tries to squeeze through the hole, where he gets stuck, then pushes through, then takes out part of the wooden hole, falls through, makes a lot of noise, and ends up alerting the one non-sleeping goblin guard. The bone-gnawing minion of the Needle tribe jabs his snoozing friend awake, and, despite Finbar’s heroic leap to silence them, they sound the alarm.

(3) “Fire GOOD! (and bad):” As Finbar grapples with the goblin guards, Tiskus manages to open the barred door from the outside, wrenching his shoulder in the process. But it’s just in time for Telvas to come spinning in, doing what he does best. One goblin head flies off. He then charges through the inept weaponeering of the mage and druid (who end up attacking each other), and handles the last Needle guard. Two slices. Two heads.

Unfortunately, the alarm has sounded, and a horde of screaming Needlers is charging down the central passageway. Meanwhile, there are indications that even more are coming from a second direction. Yum! More heads!

But, one problem at a time. Tiskus lights a fire, over, under, around, between, and generally all over the first goblin mob, scorching them all into ashes. Scratch 15 gobbies. Luckily, there’s 15 more coming from the south, where Telvas mightily takes up a defensive position…which the second group promptly ignores, streaming around him like he’s a rock in a fast moving stream. All too quickly, Fin, Tiskus and Telvas are in it to their necks.

By this time, hireling Jaeel Deerclan has made it to the top, and has entered the fray. The fighter bares her blade. Meanwhile, Telvas does his spinning swordplay, and Finbar, swings his shillelagh. The gruesome twosome are both wounded by the needles, Worse, some of the wounds come from those pesky poisoned darts Needle goblins are so fond of. Telvas shakes his off like a boss. Finbar? Not so bosslike. For the second time in a 10 days, the druid has a face-to-face with death. This time, the reaper takes his due. The druid falls limp and stiff as the stone of his left hand.

Meanwhile, Tiskus decides, “Fire=good. More fire=better!” and sends a fireball into the melee. scorching every single goblin, while wounding both Telvas and Jaeel. The warriors survive, but Finbar’s remains are scorched beyond recognition.

Still, victory is victory, sooty or otherwise. As the only remaining foe, a dwarven lieutenant, rushes out in fear, the party licks their wounds and prepares to check out the caves.

Oh…and Rafos and the remaining hirelings finally make it to the top, only to witness the results of wizard’s bar-b-q.

(4) “Stuff regained!:” The party locates most of the missing items (though not the Flask of Breaths). They also find a hidden treasure sack containing a map, some wooden figurines and some thieve’s tools. Judging from the map (and Tiskus’ studies), someone was seeking a monastery called Kalhatan, located a few days northwest of the rock. The party decides this is worth a look.

So….

…after spending two days in the rock due to bad weather (during which time FInbar’s remains are buried in the valley below the Rock, and many goblin heads are mounted on poles on the ledge overlooking the valley), the party regroups, sans the hirelings, who decide hanging around with these guys is dangerous. They are augmented by one Ed the Barbarian, a former prisoner of the goblins nabbed while guarding (ineptly one supposes) a caravan. Having nothing better to do (evidently), Ed joins the group on its quest to find Kalhatan, which goes like this:

Finding Khaltan
(1) “Why climb, when you can fall?”: A 3-day journey into the wilderness takes 5 days, as scout Tiskus becomes distracted by flora (or something of that sort). The party locates the HUGE sinkhole (let’s say valley), inside of which a thick canopy stands, obscuring said ruins they are trying to locate. From their vantage point, they see evidence of recently shed snake skin, something big…really big….much bigger than average, actually. Faced with another climbing situation, each hero enters according to his desires. For Tiskus, this means crashing through the canopy to a spot halfway down, on a limb. For Ed, it’s a hardy climb down (and a fall from halfway). For some strange (yet logical) reason, Telvas and Rafos use a rope, though Rafos is left carting his dog down, and also has some difficulties finding the floor. Nevertheless, there they are…somehow all alive.

(2) “Hello and goodbye:” Once down, the group is immediately aware (thanks to Tiskus), that there are multiple beasts in the area (the so-called, “Dweller in the Wood,” which the mage remembers from the Kalhatan legend). It isn’t long before said Dweller appears. As Tiskus holds tight in the canopy, eagle-eyed Ed spots the camouflaged lizard making its way toward the spell-slinging leaper-mage. Rather than attacking, however, the creature slinks away when Telvas draws his shimmering sword. As Ed watches, the creature disappears into the canopy. The party moves ahead slowly, on their guard.

(3) “Hello again…from both of us…”: As Ed and Telvas and Rafos’ dog, Corg (who is not a Corgie), come forward, Ed catches sight of a second lizardy-thing obscured in a thick bramble of growth and vines. Even as the barbarian reacts to this new foe, the original beastie initially spotted drops to the ground near Telvas (yum! a head to sever!). The battle is joined, but soon turns deadly for our intrepid crew.

First off, Telvas, who is delivering deadliness in spades, is grabbed by the creature, which has clamped down on his sword arm. In danger of being dragged off and eaten, he wisely lets go of his sword, then faces off against the beast mano-a-jawso, with Rafos and Corg giving support. Eventually, the combination of swings and arrows (in particular that last throat shot by the bow-wielding ranger), sends the creature down. Lizard #1 is out. Telvas, who really values his sword, begins slitting the beast open to find it. He’s pretty sure the stuff’s going down nearby, with lizard #2, Ed, and Tiskus, but hey—he wants that sword, so, slice, slice, slice.

As for those other folks:

Ed and Tiskus deliver a series of blows and magic at the creature, but find its ancient scales nigh impenetrable. Worse, Ed is deeply wounded by the creature’s long teeth, and is bleeding out. Even so, at one point, it appears they have the thing beaten, though at a price. The wounded lizard snatches Corg in its jaws and turns tail to eat somewhere far away, in silence.

But Ed can’t have that. He grabs the lizard’s tale, putting its attention back on him. The creature whirls around and delivers a crushing bite to his midsection. Near death, the barbarian yowls in pain. Thankfully, Tiskus, who has once again faceplanted on a leap from a high place, manages to throw yet another magic missile, putting the beast’s attention on HIM now. He, too, is wounded by the enraged creature. Worse, his attacks don’t seem to be harming it.

Bleeding Barbarian Ed attempts one more swing at the lizard-thing. But he is wounded and weak, drained of too much blood. His blow misses horribly, and the lizard puts him out of his misery. It turns back to do the same to Tiskus…only to be throat-shot by Rafos.
Evidently sitting out of the goblin brouhaha has improved his aim

Scratch lizard #2. And new party member Ed, whom death decides to take into his sweet embrace.

Aftermath
And so, beaten up twice in the last week, the group makes camp, resting, searching the area. They soon find the “old stones” located in the map, the remnants of a city, to include a strange obelisk situated in the center of a fallen temple. The obelisk has weird symbols on each of its 8 facets, and 8 round stands below each facet. The adventurers know the four figurines they found in the sack they located at The Rock must be placed in the Obelisk stands, but they do not yet know in which spot.

It is here we leave them, contemplating their next move…while divvying up Ed’s stuff.

New questions, concerns, etc.:
Jaeel gave a masked Telvas a really hard look before she departed. Did she recognize him? And if she did, why didn’t she act right then and there?

Finbar’s stone hand is buried along with its body, despite the brief consideration by Telvas to turn it into part of a weapon. There are thoughts within the party that somehow, said hand might have magical properties. But what kind would they have been (or might they still be)?

Csonka’s disappearance looms large in the mind of Tiskus, as does his plan to create magical items via ritual. For now, though, the riddle of the obelisk remains. Could this somehow tie in to Csonka’s pursuit of the mysterious “Plem/Demurgos” relics?

Rafos has about two weeks to locate and kill another innocent, lest death claim him as his own. Normally, no big deal. But the group is one week deep into the woods. It’s going to be a close call.

Poor Ed, we hardly knew ye. But the party gets a two-handed axe out of it (and some rations). Ed smash!

TIMELINE:
Adventure Start: May 5th
3 days to Rock
2 days at rock
5 days to Khalhatan

Current date/time: May 15th, Late afternoon

View
Episode 8: Yurith's Tomb, part I
Deadfalls and dead things

The somewhat battered party meets up with new arrival “Shadow,” a well-dressed, unruly-haired halfling from Wellspring (which happens to be near Mageswell). Shadow has lost his entire adventuring party, and is stuck in the ruins of Khalhatan, where, he informs the group, the lizards do not prey. In need to additional manpower (even a half-man, at that), the party welcomes him and his thieving skills to the expedition.

Their first priority is figuring out the obelisk puzzle, when they do through a combination of wizardly knowledge, knowledgeable discussion, and some bit of dodging various trappy things. Tiskus activates a bit of lightning, a bit of darkness, and a bit of trepidation as he places the figurines — each a representative of the godly pantheon — in the cup-like settings that fit the opposite of their aspect. VOILA! The obelisk opens!

Once inside, the party discovers the bodies of dead monks in worn, ratty robes — except for that one pristine robe worn by a tome-clutching skeleton. After a bit of checking here and there, the group discovers the mechanism to open and close the Obelisk, giving them a perfect place to rest and recover before venturing onward. They also discover a good bit of treasure behind a hidden panel, to include some coinage, a magical dagger and a magical whetstone.

After some perusal of said tome, which relates the history of Khalhatan under the reign of Yurith, the party sets forth on the second leg of their journey in this pit-city, the tomb of the dead ruler himself. The book warns that Yurith’s obsession with immortality, as well as the legend of the Mud Sorcerers brought about the doom of the city. Created the pit actually. Oh, and it summoned the lizard things, which are called linnorms. Why the lizards don’t enter the ruins is another matter — and a happy discovery. This means they only have to worry about the tomb (the entrance to which Shadow has already located, as noted by the great, big, stone that read, “DO NOT ENTER THE TOMB ON PAIN OF DEATH”).

This tomb actually does turn out to be a pretty big worry, as the expedition quickly finds out. Upon entry, Shadow skulks about, and locates a nasty deadfall trap. Tiskus divines a magical door to the west, as well as a magical sarcophagus. The nature of the magic becomes obvious when the mage gets within a few feet of the sarc, when a slew of Darkmist Zombies and Skeletons materialize!

It’s a hardy battle, which features a zombie tripping a trap, Rafos getting piledriven into a column, and Tiskus being shoved into a makeshift drowning pool of nasty, black water. The party adapts and overcomes, however, thanks to the martial displays of Telvas and Rafos, as well as some nice maneuvering by the thief and some spell slinging by the wizard. No one dies, which is a nice change from what’s been happening lately to our intrepid semi-studs.

Not that they don’t try to keep the death toll rising. As they explore one of the three exits from the area, they find yet another pit trap, which nearly claims the life of Shadow, who loses his bow in the evidently bottomless hole. After a battle with a pair of life-sucking Dark Wraiths, the party obtains a wax dragon, inside of which is brass skeleton key (or rather, a brass key with a skeleton head. But no tomb, as of yet.

More cautious, and rather more creative now, the party finds another innocuous room with a suit of armor just standing there…hangin’ out…doing nothing…Telvas knows better, however, and decides to hammer the armors’ feet to the floor with a pair of spikes. Good thing. A magical trap activates the suit (just as Telvas is finishing his work). Since it can’t move, however, the group has a good laugh at the guardian’s expense. They add insult to injury later on, when, after the suit has pulled its own feet off, Telvas tosses a sarcophagus lid on top of it, crushing it completely. A narrow passageway leads off into the darkness behind the false sarc. But, as there are more obvious ways to leave the room — including a wide set of steps with a huge, blood-red skeleton in it, the party leaves that for another day.

Which leads to the battle with Veluta, the guardian wraith of the tomb. After dealing with yet ANOTHER pit trap (with various levels of success and danger), the party takes on the skeletal warrior. It attempts to hit a summoning gong, but Tiskus, always on the border of foolhardiness, snatches the thing out of its way. He pays for his move by getting his bell rung, but survives the blow (and moemntarily prevents the gong from being sounded). Of course, the thing does sound anyway, and POOF! a pair of shadow hounds materializes.

At this point, the combat turns into “whack a halfling,” as Shadow darts in and out of the battle, getting in a few good licks, sundering Veluta’s armor. The enraged guardian turns his attention to the “shrimp,” and chases him about the chamber, to little avail.

Meanwhile, Rafos, Telvas and Corg take advantage of the misdirection, handling the Shadow hounds, sending them out of existence. When the group finally gets its full attention on the (at one time) well-armored foe, they take it down for good.

As the session comes to a close, we find our stalwarts a bit beat up, by now in possession of yet a second key — an Iron Skeleton key found inside a magical, glowing brazier. They assume the two keys will work on the magical door they saw in the entry chamber. Before heading that way, though, they take some time to heal up and gather their resources. The one question on their mind at this point is likely, if this was the guardian, what in the world is the nature of what it guards?

Adventure start: May 15th.
Time spent adventuring: 1 full day
End date/time: May 16th, evening

NOTES:
Rafos has two weeks to kill an innocent.
Shadow lost his ranged weapon, but has done well without it.
Tiskus is either the bravest or the most foolhardy mage ever.
Telvas just keeps on spinnin’, man.

View
Episode 9: Yurith's Tomb, part 2
Play that mummy music, dark thing

After recuperating from their battle with Veluta, the party investigates the passage away behind the fake sarcophagus across from “Bentbroke Stakefoot,” the dead guardian. The danger is the entrance itself, an area caked with a charnel dust pressure trap, which Shadow finds and avoid. Beyond the door, a pair of locked trunks in an obscene mural room depicting a necromancer raising skeletons beneath a grisly, muddy sky. Long story short: Telvas ends up wolfing down some charnel dust (and passing some along via unwanted mouth-to-mouth with Tiskus). But the rearming trap is down, leaving shadow to take care of a dart trap, as well as am explosive, wax rune trap (which he “takes care of” by springing it, and blowing up the chest.

It all turns out to be semi-worth it, as the group finds a LOT of loot, including a Life Stealing Mace and a scroll of protection versus undead (fancy that!). After an entirely too long discussion about which coins to carry and which to leave behind (2 hours), the party finally sets out for the tomb proper.

Initially skittish when they find a set of strange symbols emblazoned on the magical doors (which, somehow, open with non-magical keys), the party eventually simply puts the keys in and unlocks the door (an act that is greeted by a tremendous MOAAAAAAAAANING from beyond the threshold). Beyond the heavy, steel doors, green light cascades from arcane braziers, casting light on a wide set of stairs. The stairs lead to the tomb of Yurith himself, who had arisen, and girded himself with a potion of damage resistance (though, of course, nobody knows that initially). After a brief trade of villainous “I-shall-destroy-you” versus heroic “no-you-won’t, vato” remarks, the battle royale is joined. It quickly turns DEADLY!

As Rafos swings the life stealing mace, augmented by Telvas’ sword, Shadow and Tiskus draw the attention of the semi-mummified Yurith. The mummy thing delivers a fear-causing keen that sends the mage running out of the tomb, leading Telvas, who has already dispatched a group of skeletons with a deft seep attack. to (eventually) square off against him, near solo.

Things get bad quickly. Rafos’ mace keeps stealing life from him instead of his enemies, pushing him close to dropping. Telvas, meanwhile, is subject to the slash and rot attacks of Yurith, who drains blood and life from him. Shadow gets raked by a band of skeletons and beats feet out of there. When Yurith reveals a formerly hidden surprise (a minotaur skeleton emerging through brick wall), the group takes it upon themselves to beat feet out —except for Tiskus.

The mage stands fast, covering his allies’ retreat, delivering a massive fireball that singes the minotaur and takes out the remaining skellies. The mage suffers a confusing maze effect from the minotaur that sends him INTO the room with Yurith, who does his best to take the mage out with a rotting claw. But Tiskus winks out of existence before his eyes, going invisible.

Meanwhile, the singed minotaur races after the retreating party members, running into Telvas, who has turned around to help the mage. With a cleaving, upward slice, he turns the bill-thing into a pile of charred bones, then flies into the room to come face-to-face with Yurith. The spinning swordmaster puts up a good fight, but the mummy lord’s powers prove to much for him. As his teammates watch in horror, he shrivels up before their eyes. Yurith hurls his dessicated body to the ground, then turns his attention on Shadow and Rafos.

Meanwhile Tiskus checks out Yurith’s sarcophogus. Is the battle still going on? Sure, it is. But, hey—maybe the bad guy left behind some sort of secret weapon that might kill him. Maybe he left it in plain sight. Maybe he’s really that dumb.

But, no…

And so, the battle continues. Shadow takes up the fallen Foeblade, and faces down Yurith. The creature lifts the halfing by the throat, threatening to drain him of life…

But Shadow runs the creature through, piercing his heart with the Foeblade. With a groan and a strange smile of victory, Yurith falls.

The reason for the grin becomes clear. As Yurith was passing from this not so mortal coil, his essence, a combination of magic and sand, flowed out into a pile of bones in the minotaur chamber of bones. Clearly, his plan is to enter the bones there and reanimate—as a DRAGON!

The fateful transformation never occurs. Tiskus continuesto burn the bones with mage fire, while Rafos enters and swings the life stealer at the pile. Unfortunately, the mace draws the last of Rafos’ life, and he plops over, just as the last bit of fire destroys the bones.

VICTORY! Albeit at a cost. For, while Telvas pulls through from his injuries, Rafos does not, joining poor Corg in the afterlife.

In the end, the group finds in excess of 16,000 coins value of treasure, which they cart on an 8-day journey back to civilization (passing up investigation of a mysterious megalith). As they mend their broken bodies, they contemplate their next move, likely an excursion north, to find Csonka!

Adventure start:
16 MAY

END: 26 MAY

View

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