Into the Wild, ACT 1, Four Heroes Indeed

 

Into the Wild, #1

The Siege of Fort Ogrehead

Herein lies the tremendous adventure of a group of commoners who became Legends in the lands in and beyond the borders of Cellinor.

Odis and Pepper Odis, and his most pungent purveyor of pesticide…Pepper D. Skunk (also known in educated circles as an Odoris Maximus, or the Highland Stink Badger…yes skunks, according to the nut case who wrote that wiki article, are known as stink badgers!!!)

Odis MacCloud is a proud farmer from the Highlands of where ever people speak with a Scottish accent, and one with the land.  He is also quite a competitive sort, and is always in competition over the size and flavor of the produce of his farm.  He plays the bag pipes and is trying to learn the banjo.  He’s an alchemist seeking the ultimate fertilizer, and in brewing such concoctions, discovered the explosive power of fertilizer chemicals.  His hot peppers are unequaled…or at least he would like to think, and he is in a fierce but friendly competition with Farmer Fergus MacKenzie over the size of their Honey melons!  The skunk keeps the pests out of his field, which he just loves.  He’s basically a hillbilly with a sense of duty to the land and nature.  I think he’ll make a perfect adventurer.

Every time he goes to the county fair, he adds a verse to his favorite tune.  The tune these words go to this Scottish folk song (and themesong to the Outlander show on Starz):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbG65TUeoPU

Bolvist, The Half Orc, find his story in the Gazetteer

Mesilla, The Druid She’s  been at the outpost working on staying away from the city because she doesn’t trust the King and his Flame. She feels that  he’s hiding something and doesn’t want to wait  around her whole life. Something speaks to her when she’s out working the fields. She feels at home with the plants, Nurturing them and helping them grow. Some days she is drawn to the forest. She never enters but feels that the truth is hidden there. The trees have witnessed it all…they know. They have seen the ages come and go. And they must hold the secret of what happened…..

Taryn Ballast, The Ranger, Character has not shared story with the other characters just yet…

Introduction

It’s been a grueling and miserable six months out here on the frontier.  The “Inner Wilds” they’re called, where the Light still casts it’s glow, but just barely. Past this, the Outer Wilds, full of rumor, of mystery, of gut wrenching terror to many. Despite this, Fort Ogrehead, your home for  a little while longer at least, is a waypoint for those seeking to search for ancient riches along the frontier. The Light knows that these can be quite lucrative, and for some, quite deadly. The lands on the frontier are ripe for investigation. And investigation into Kasillian ruins can often bring back treasure, if one survives the inhabitants that dwell there.  Others have a more sensible approach. The fort is stocked with both supplies and those outfitted to begin permanent settlements elsewhere. Rich land grants, given only by Cillandrial Nobility or the Royal Family permit those few to establish a settlement, and right now, the Fort is packed with those interested in going with them. From craftspeople to Servants of the Flame, everyone is either here for adventure, or to protect the realm.

You’ve worked and toiled in the heat and dirt.  And it’s time to collect.  Tonight, it’s payday.  As the rain pours, and the storm builds, you’ve got warmer thoughts on your mind. You’ll meet that miserable bastard you’ve been sweating for, Benedict Lemure at the Buccaneer’s Bodice, the only decent pub here at Fort Ogrehead. And finally, you’ll collect.  A fortune awaits you. It’s what you’ve been waiting for, to start your own adventures.

Just thinking about the last six months makes your blood boil.  Whatever it was you have helped Benedict do, much of it you know was under the guise of the Flame’s insistence that local areas be searched, and items of “interest” brought to Cillandar. You’ve done your share of menial jobs to repair masonry and toil the fields, but there were other, more hazardous “scavengings” as Benedict calls them.

You’ve definitely earned your shares.  But what will you do with them? As you walk into the Buccaneer’s Bodice, the familiar wood carved leggings dangle above you.  You tap them for good luck.  You’ll think about your earnings in the morning. Tonight, you’ll going to drink up and celebrate!

But before you can do that, you must gather for the Ordination and Transcendence Ceremony as all must.

The Transcendence

Mud soaked and mud caked. The streets awash with the  accumulation of garbage and unwanted debris.  Greasy films cover puddles as the rain pours down. Thunder is heard in the distance, and lightning often streaks the sky. Fort Ogrehead is under siege, by a torrential storm. 

You’ve gathered, as all in the Fort must, to watch the Ordination of Cardinal Bellock.  Second Order of the Flame, and the High Inquisitor of the Thor Valley. On a raised platform, a woman sits, her head is bowed.  Members wearing the Order’s Colors, Deep Green and Silver stand at attendance. A makeshift tarp covers the platform, but it isn’t working very well. Rain falls in rivulets through gaps, dripping off the chins and arms of those standing.  Behind him, on a simple wooden stool sits Cardinal Bellock, on either side of him you recognize a couple of the rich nobles recently arrived from Cellione. Your employer, Benedict Lemure, stands at the ready on the pulley, as the Transcendence and Ordination Ceremony is about to begin.

During the ceremony, you couldn’t help but notice looks between several members of the various groups in the Fort.  These groups do not often have anything in common. Curious.

At the close of the ceremony, the spectactors march off through the muck and grime. Through the downpour you notice that the Shield members of the Fort do not all seem to be in attendance, neither is the Captain of the Guard, Flemin. All of the nobles are loaded into their arks, carried back to their lodgings by their servants.  Many of the commoners that pass you, explain their joy in the transcendence of the man.  Others simply nod their heads, or are silent. The rain, the thunder and the sounds of metal and wood creaking echo throughout the cramped Fort.  Tonight Fort Ogrehead is home to many different groups, and it is packed solid. Even your lodgings were hard to come by, one of the few benefits of working for Benedict.  There are many different merchants and craftspeople, all of course claiming to have come from Cillandar, or Cellione.  Not likely you think, knowing the danger of the road and the cost associated with traveling along it with protection.  The nobles here, you know, have come to inspect their land grants and to check on the status of those in their pay and service setting up both a Stronghold and a working colony in the Inner Wilds.  Then there are those like you, that seem to be just here, working, perhaps just wanting to be where the adventure is.

The Buccaneers Bodice

Some of you listened to Macavoy’s ridiculous tales. Others of you enjoyed Clyde’s Pit Critter. You collected a few rumors, and bonded with a ranger named Ferris, and a few other regulars.You all reveled in the Skunk Dance which became a tremendous sensation. IN fact, I am told it is still sung in the Thor Valley, long after these tales end.

Sing me a song

Of an odor so strong!

Oh, could that stench be I?

No, its me friend

Who followed along

Over the mountains so high!

Look away look away

to sunniest days

Think on our honey and bees

 Never dismay

 for we’ve plenty of hay

Think on our milk and cheese

To go to the fairs

And brag on their wares

The envy of all was nigh

Mom’s melons were large

So she put ’em in charge

To see ’em delivered to the guy…

Who’d measure and weigh

An’ never forget the day

That Odis and Pepper came by

Life on the farm

Will do ya no harm

 If it’s the right life for ye

 Life on the farm

 Will do ya no harm

 It’s the life for Pepper and me

For the love of that skunk

With all of her funk

She’ll keep pests out of my field!

I’ll care for and feed

and Tend her every need

For she increases our annual yield.

Still others of you listened to the teller’s tales.

Everyone knows the Thor Valley is rich, rich farmland.  So why wasn’t it settled? Well, I’ll tell ya! The valley is chocked full of crags, fissures and caves, just ask your friend  Benedict there. His Darkened Mother that spread her legs for him dwelt there.  These blasted demons, foul orcs and goblins, they trace their lineage all the way back to the End Days they do.  There are now different tribes, but when they want to, they will organize. And the only way to get them to work together is the Immortal Orc.

What’s that? It’s their IDOL it is! I had an uncle at Fortress … that had a run-in with them many a year ago. He told me all about it. They carry their dead Orc Chieftain around in an ark, the Shamans talk to it, and they blasted speak for it. What the immortal chief “says” the orcs do. Get it? Light or no, if those Orcs ever decide to stop killing each other and attack us, they’d only need that IDOL to unite the tribes.  The Captain needs to recruit more raiding parties, instead of sitting back on these defenses. One day, we’re all going to pay!!!

The Siege Begins!

As you enjoy the company and drink here at the Bucanneer’s Bodice, the rain continues to pour. An occasional drip, drip falls and is audible over Eksel’s Harp.  From outside, you hear a faint scream.  Dismissing it as typical night time noises here in the keep from someone with too much ale in them, you then hear another, coming from another section of the Fort.  This gets your attention. Mugs are set down, and revelers look around at each other. Just then, a body bursts right through the roof of the Pub!  It lands directly on the table where several Halflings sit.  It’s obviously a dead corpse, and has been dead for some time.  Across the room, others land, it’s as if bodies are falling from the sky right through the roof and into the bar! All around you people scramble and scream, outside you hear more, much more.  Several people, their witts now gained again, walk over to inspect the corpses which lie in heaps of unnatural twists.

“What in the Nine Hells of KET” whispers Clyde….

The corpses animate and attack!  Each of you springs into action choosing to outright attack these creatures.  Even the ranger risks his life by coming face to face with the Undead!  With a little help from each other, the party destroys the creatures.  They realize that these bodies were once part of  a scouting group sent out from the Fort to investigate the Thor Valley. The half orc smartly bangs a table through the wall and opens up  a pathway to an entire adventuring supply store!  Looking through, he realizes the Fort is overrun by goblins, and orcs as well.  Some are dragging people off, others are killing. It’s chaos outside. You hear the sounds of a young child below. The alchemist lowers a rope and pulls Jill and Jeffer Storm up!  Boy, are they grateful!

As you examine each other, you all realize that you have something in common, at least for now.  Each of you is owed money by Benedict, and each of you is in the middle of a siege.

First order of business is to bar the door and to quiet the Third Order of the Flame who insists that you all have stolen your newfound gear.  The ranger heads upstairs and comes face to face again with another quick zombie.  As he lays dying, the zombie leans over him and as his back is turned exposes just enough for the thief to find a pressure point.  The druid heals her partner and they discuss options while viewing the ensuing mayhem below in the streets.  The thief decides that a trip to Benedict’s is in order, and he expertly navigates his way there.  He comes across a dissettling execution and finds Benedicts Workshop destroyed, Benedict murdered, and his workshop looted.  Luckily, all those foot massages helped, as he notices fresh mortar.  Behind a wall, he’s discovered Benedict;s true treasure haul. He returns to the Bodice as he knows that the others give him a better chance of surviving this event.  No one is going to give any pity to a half-orc tonight!

Once back, the group realizes that Benedict’s stash is all they will ever get of their earnings and they open the contents to discover: sword +1, ring of protection +1, hat of disguise, and boots of an elvish nature that Lemure used to sneak out of places where he owed people money, 5 gems. 1230 gp, 330 pp, Land Grant for the Lake Haven/Twin Tower Region, See Map, a NOTE,  and a metal box that seems to have no opening mechanism.

The party opens the first tube to discover that in addition to a glowing magical trove, they have also hit the lottery!  Something which few have ever held, and that which no commoner could ever hope for.  An unregistered land grant, with the official seal of Borindin.  Whosoever binds their name(s) to this document shall own the land listed there!  It’s the opportunity of many lifetimes!

The druid is curious and decides to open the next. But she cant read it, so she hands it to the half-orc.  As he heads the letter, mouths open.  It appears Benedict was indeed a traitor.

To BL,

The time has been set for the invasion of Ogrehead. Leave the Western walls weak so that we may take more prisoners to the remainder of the troops at HILLOC. After bombardment, we will center our forces there while leading a distraction at the front entrance.  We expect that your list is accurate. If you do well, you will be handsomely rewarded when 51 falls too.  For now, maintain your allegiance and stay put. Bombardment will commence at HighNight. I’d recommend you staying in your workshop. Make your kin proud so that once they take control, you will not be killed according to the Immortal Orc’s wishes.  Nor those we serve.

For the Darkness to Come

M

The Plan

There’s a lot to take in.  Many soldiers are running toward the front gate, many have gone towards the western walls, where you know Benedict left things deliberately weak.  Others have head to the Temple of the Order of the Flame, perhaps to protect Cardinal Bellock as the Flamist who condemned you said they should.  You consider heading there, but then you remember that the group of Hypogriffs you have heard the fort uses to escape are not always kept in the Orders Courtyards.  This is not a guarantee of escape you think. You try to figure out how to escape this mess and you discuss the zombies and the note.  Jeffer tells you that he knows where Hilloc is! He heard his father talk about the waterfall at the back of the cave. He also remembers his father working on the well and how his father heard the falls in the tunnel below the city.

You give a thrilling speech to the members of the bar still hiding. Clyde and Melancholy are swayed.  Both know they must leave with you to remain safe. Macavoy stays, still confused by the fact that Odis’s skunk dance has saved his life, but the Teller, an old man and a dwarf complete those who agree to come.

Carefully making your way into the night, the streets have eased up a bit with activity.  You are nearly to the well, when rounding a corner, a group of goblins and their attack dogs notice you. The leader points and mutters to his partners.  Before you know it, you are under attack again.

Will this night never end?

 

Session 2, Into the Wild: Escape For Some

Meet the NPCs of Into the Wild

Macavoy-Offering a “Stiff One” to the party whenever the shit hits the well bucket, Macavoy seems to have a Flask of Limitless Spirits.

Melancholy-One day, Melancholy will be famous in Cillandar during an historic moment in the Touching The Flame Inn and Gentlemen’s Bar (Known to the locals as the Touching Her Flame, or THF). For now, she’s a downhome commoner, keeping the ale flowing and the patrons happy.

Clyde Bunderhoff-One of the better bar owners one will find in the Inner Wilds. Proprietor of The Buccaneer’s Bodice, Clyde is also well known collectively for his Critter, known as Clyde’s Critter, which he keeps in his bar to amuse customers.

 Flemin-A dwarf Shield member who holds considerable authority with his men. Flemin was freed from his imprisonment by the party, and seeks an audience with Commander Eminides, immediately.

Bearclaw-One of Flemin’s best soldiers, Bearclaw is one of the few half-orcs in his majesty’s service, and the only one who has received Borindin’s Brand.  How or why isn’t clear, but he is well respected and displays it proudly for all to see.

Njord-A simple dwarf mason, who at a time of need, helped the party seal a tunnel that would have given the Fort to the Tribe of the Immortal Orc.

Order Elite, Enlil- A rather pompous fellow who first witnessed the party’s thievery during the invasion. 

Introduction

The din of battle rings in your ears, while the constant rainfall drenches you.  With those you have convinced to follow you at your heels, you quietly lift the bars of the Bodice’s door, and steal out into the night.  For a while, all is quiet, save the sounds of your feet splashing in the dirty puddles between the fort’s cobblestones.

Just ahead is the well; down it you have decided to go. 

The battle seems now to be contained in certain areas. You hear what can only be death screams far off in the direction of the main gate.  Shouting from the South of the Fort.  The rain and wind still muffles all, but it sounds as though, perhaps, things are being decided, for either the villians, or the Fort.

Ahead, a still lantern hangs high on it’s pole, it’s light gleaming over the wells edge.  As you motion to each other, you begin to cross, but just then, you are spotted.  For at that exact moment, a lurking and hunched group of foul and deformed goblins rounds a corner across the square.  One of them hold is holding onto a mangy dog who is pulling at it’s ropes, snarling and sniffing in your direction.  All of the creatures  are like the others you have seen tonight, unique in their deformities.  However, even through the pouring rain, one figure stands out, wearing some-kind of spiked headdress.  It seems to be riding atop another dog, but this one is much bigger.  The hands on your backs from those who you have been guiding, tighten and clench.  Somebody whimpers as they realize what you already know. You cannot make the well in time….

The Teller’s Last Words…

“You want to know why these lands havn’t been settled before hey? Everyone knows the Thor Valley is rich, rich farmland.  So why wasn’t it settled? Well, I’ll tell ya! The valley is chocked full of crags, fissures and caves, just ask your friend  Benedict there. His Darkened Mother that spread her legs for him dwelt there.  These blasted demons, foul orcs and goblins, they trace their lineage all the way back to the End Days they do.  There are now different tribes, but when they want to, they will organize. And the only way to get them to work together is the Immortal Orc.

What’s that? It’s their IDOL it is! I had an uncle at Fortress … tat had a run-in with them many a year ago. He told me all about it. They carry their dead Orc Chieftain around in an ark, the Shamans talk to it, and they blasted speak for it. What the immortal chief “says” the orcs do. Get it? Light or no, if those Orcs ever decide to stop killing each other and attack us, they’d only need that IDOL to unite the tribes.  The Captain needs to recruit more raiding parties, instead of sitting back on these defenses. One day, we’re all going to pay!!!

Dorimir and then Dormir

As the party rounds a corner, they spot a gaggle of goblins on the opposite side.  This scout party is stealthy and lurking about.  One of them sits atop a large dog, another restrains one with a makeshift leash.  The rider wears a large and protruding head dress made of bones.

On the opposite side of the street, a man in robes has just finished inspecting the body of his adversary, an animated corpse.  The body landed in his chambers, and the fight continued outside into the street. It is Doromir the Wizard, who often entertains the Fort’s travelers and nobles alike with his many illusions and magical shows.  But alas, just as the party thinks they may have avoided the goblins and will make it to the well, poor Doromir is spotted.  Seeing potential allies across from him, he rushes the gaggle and puts many to sleep, including the headdress wearing leader.

The party joins the fray, and slays all but two of the goblins, who rush off once Bolvist the thief kills the slumbering the She-Goblin. As a half orc himself, he rcognizes several markings on her person.  First, he notices she wears the bones of her leader in recognition of past honors.  All of the bones are human, save for one, which is unknown to the party. A tattoo also appears on her shoulder naming her NEE ISH, famous and protected sister the head shaman of the Immortal Orc himself!

With no time to waste, the party makes it’s way down the well, as the battle above continues to wage.

Down the Well…

Water pours down in rivulets.  You descend the ladder nearly 40 feet before reaching the bottom and make your way in shin deep water avoiding the larger drop offs as Jeffer directs you to the area his father spoke about.  You find it easily, there is an area of rubble near a support beam that branches off into a natural cavern.  It’s hard to see beyond, but you’re fairly certain you have enough room to walk upright.

A little further…

A small chirping noise comes from the water at your feet.  You recognize it immediately as the same as the one from Clyde’s critter in the Bodice. Down at your feet is a much smaller version.  It’s tentacles are wrapping around your boot straps, but it’s so small that it isn’t doing much other than annoy you.

“Oh look, another Critter!” whelps Clyde, “Hey, try to catch it would ya? I’d have twice the patronage with twice the Critters!”

Mellisande kills it with her blade and it gives a slight gurgling noise which seems surprisingly loud down here in the crisp air.

A little further….

There is a  ripple on the water in the cavern in front of you. As soon as it appears it’s gone.  The water here seems only a few feet deep, but it’s hard to tell with the uneven terrain.  This area seems to have not been reached by the well-makers. There are no more support beams or scattered materials in the middle of use.

A Chuul launches itself out of the water! Scoring multiple hits on the thief, Bolvist is entangled in it’s grip and begins to die as the tentacles wind their way around him, paralyzing him.  As the creature begins to descend with it’s meal though, Melissande casts Entangle, and the party goes to work.  They kill the creature, which they learn in it’s death throes speaks some very ancient form of common, but is hateful of surface dwellers, nonetheless.

JRR’s Got Rabbit Stew, We’ve Got Lobster Stew

“Glad I took that brick of butter from the larder, before we left,” says Clyde!

“Puttin a yittle of dis, woulja?” mumbles Macavoy, tipping his flask into the stew.  Little did the party know that one day, this dish would be famous in the Thor Valley, known at a later time as Butt’n’Chuul.

“I’m starved,” you all think, “It’s been forever since I had lobster!”  With a solid DC check of 25, the party creates the most fabulous meal ever experienced in Cellinor, or anywhere else for that matter, inside of a well.  They recuperate well, and gain a LEVEL to boot! While dinner boils, the ranger takes some of the paralyzing agent from the creatures tentacles and Doromir inspects the creatures abode.  They find a copper ring belonging to Jill and Jeffer’s dad, among several coins and a potion of underwater breathing.

Behind them, the waterfall is louder.

The Waterfall

Once again, Bolvist’s orcish ears are put to good use.  Through the waterfall, he hears the sounds of orcs, and reports what he hears to the party.

“Blast that foul bug!  Why must we be under the whip by such a Gods Forsaken creature. I’d put him under my boot if…

“You lie Yargug! You fear the thing as much as we do…”

“Why can’t we just kill this lot now.”

“You know the Master will not have it.”

“I’m tired of having those choking demons here.  They aren’t our kind.

“Shut up Grumjaw, and play your bones.”

“I am you louse covered worm. I’m just passing the time”.

“No you ain’t. You’re going on and on about things. You do as you’re told. Next Night is the real invasion anyway.  That’s when we get our fill. I’m going to take three heads for my belt. If the master finds what we’re after, I’ll take the lot!”

“The Master won’t let you see the first wave.”

“Oh yeah? See this mark? That’s right Geranck. The Immortal One chose me.”

“Manyara’s pets will probably gobble you up before you break the wall.”

Laughter….

The party begins to investigate, stealthily peering through the veil of water, they discover a gigantic pit in the middle of a dark cave. Crude ladders rest against the wall.  Immediately, the party is noticed by two guards from the adjacent chamber, but Melissande has a trick up her sleeves.  She signals to the two orcs who chase her into the waterfall. They stop at the water, as if they have seen a ghost vanish.  Just then, Taryn looses a bolt through the falls, and the other is struck down!

Taryn rushes forward and inspects the pit. Peering down, he can’t believe his eyes.  41 of the remaining soldiers have survived their imprisonment.  They are chained to the walls of the pit, lying in their own filth, starved and tortured. 

Doromir guards the approach as the others set to work.  Using ladders and the keys from the guards, the party releases the thankful prisoners, as Flemin and the grateful Bearclaw are led through the waterfall by Mellisande.

Just as the rescuers and the prisoners pass the waters though, Doromir sees trouble coming and casts sleep once more.  But this time, there are too many foes! He runs for the falls. From the inside the party loads up their weapons and waits for the attack as the confused orcs begin to decipher the clues of what just happened. Then one spots the bodies of their comrades, and wet footprints.

As the orcs begin to look into the waterfall, the party flees into the tunnel! As all hope looks lost, Njord tells them that the tunnel can be sealed if they time collapsing the supports at the exact moment.

As the orcs rush forward, the party bangs the support beams out of place. Rubble and tons of earth collapse on their foes, and seal the tunnel from the invasion force.

The party has not escaped, but they’ve helped others do so!

Behind them, the well entrance looms, and for the first time in what feels like days, they see the sunshine of a new day on the tunnel’s stones.  They’ve survived.

“I’ll be recommending you for the King’s Medal as well as the Brand,” says Flemin as his tears streak layers and layers of dirt and blood from his face.  “Is the fort yet taken?” he asks.

A Golden Sunrise and a Silver Flame

From the East a sliver of light appears.  For the first time in days, the rain seems to have stopped.  A golden ray of sunshine begins to light the trees on the hills North of the fort.  From afar, you hear the sounds of cheering. It’s the sounds of men.  And they are celebrating.  It looks as though the dawn has come, and the battle is over, at least for now…

“I must see Captain Eminides, immediately,” says Flemin. 

Notes:

Clyde sent me this link, he’s the one on the left wearing the bow tie. Enjoy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYLnDEODDvY

5200 Level 2 Feel free to adjust your powers, feats, skills. I recommend putting ranks in cooking as you seem to have an affinity for it. Let’s call it a class skill now, house rule.  Add thorns to your brambles, and take a feat or two in tunnel collapsing,  etc…

I changed some of your XP awards totals as follows…

XP Totals: 3100 Chuul, 500 Bringing Njord and the other NPCs with you, 1000 Setting up the Two Guards  for ambush 1500 Freeing the Shields  200 Comforting the NPCs and persuading them to stay out of harm’s way. 100 Taryn for trusting his gut with the soldiers  100 for consoling Jill and Jeffer and asking them direct questions.  200 Dorimir for standing guard (party might have been caught without doing so) 100 for Mellisande’s cool waterfall ushering thing.

Total: 6900 +5200= 12100.

You are about 1200 shy of 3rd level. FYI…Consider options and character traits, etc as we have a couple week break. There should be opportunity to use gold for a variety of things (ie scrolls, potions, weapons, etc) in the next session, but that’s a choice you’ll have to weigh with others.  Feel free to max out what you can, you’ll need it.

And always remember, when someone says their dad died, ask “How?”

🙂 T

The Back Side of the Land Grant entitled “Northern Thos Quadrant, Section 32-B, “Tower”

The King’s Land Act of 87

In accordance with the laws and wishes of our Lord, Haidius Borindin, Slayer of the Wyrm and Bringer of Light, it is hereby decreed that the following rules, regulations and statements issued forth are to be deemed accurate and punishable when not adhered to by any citizen or other race which habitates or trespasses on the King’s Land. Furthermore, these 9 items collectively will be henceforth referred to as the “King’s Land Act” and will serve as an impartial document to be used during any Inquisition of the Order, if the need arises for one.

Item 1: It is hereby ordained that the King’s Land is any known land seized, settled or discovered whether held by known races, “wandering tribes and groups” or not, so long as this land is not categorized as land belonging to said groups with which a treaty of the Realm exists.  It is furthermore executed that any member of the Realm may seize land from any group or “wandering tribe” in the name of the King provided that that member adheres to both the Code and the Order’s decree for the treatment of “wandering tribes and groups” unless a treaty exists which allows this group or tribe to live and habitate on the land in question in a manner inconsistent with the Code and the Order.

Item 2: When any member of the Realm decides to claim a parcel of land and declare it as “King’s Land” that member must report the claim and pay taxes and compensation in accordance with the Land Tax Act to the nearest Dispatching Outpost within a full cycle after making a successful survey of the land to be claimed.  Both the survey and the claim should be on file and both must be within one full cycle of each other.

Item 3: Members of the Realm may use any and all Before Days structures to build on, around or take material from. However, all items of a magical nature are considered “property of the King” and must be given to the nearest Outpost for inspection. Failure to immediately have items inspected may lead to forfeiture of the Land’s claim.  If a member deems an area unsafe, that member should immediately report it to the nearest Dispatch and leave the area until it is deemed safe by Lighted Militia or SHIELD troops.

Item 4: Members who decide to settle land for which a claim exists may decide to recruit Celn citizens to work, farm, or industrialize the resources found there.  A “Plan of Settlement” should be reported to the nearest Dispatch Office and filed therein.  For colonies larger than 1,000 citizens, a meeting with the Land Accessor must be held in Cillandar.

Item 5: Citizens who chose to apply for a Plan of Settlement must commit to the safety and well-being of the Celn citizens that move there. The Lord(s) of this plan must see to the well-being, safety and education of these citizens as well as provide them a place of worship.  Whenever possible, citizens working on a Land Grant should have access to clean water and livestock, and must have a well maintained and fortified “Keep” for defense.  See the minimum requirements for Keep functioning in the appendix.

Item 6 In order to establish trade and provide cultural exchange with the intelligent beasts of the Wilds, a representative from the nearest Dispatch or Outpost should be present whenever treating with various groups or wandering tribes. Any grant which attempts or does in fact make treaties with tribes or groups without Celn representation from a Dispatch or Outpost is forfeit and those acting in these interests without advisement and representation of the Realm are subject to High Inquisition.

Item 7 Taxes are to be collected in the form of one copper for every Pockens ( A pockens is the financial compensation associated with the amount of wool it would take to make one regular sized shirt). A record of the Land Grant’s earnings should be kept on file with the local Outpost and proper taxes collected and kept current.  Failure to keep taxes collected and current will be grounds for termination of the claim.

Item 8: Should a disturbance in the Land Grant occur, the complete and irreversible forfeiture of the Land Grant will occur provided a High Inquisition has ordained the disturbance to be detrimental to the Kingdom. It is therefore recommended that Lords of their grant keep their citizens safe, secure and responsible.

Item 9: Any landowner in accordance with this document will be entitled to no more than five seats in the Assembly of Cillandar, and will retain all powers theretofore sworn to this membership.

Into the Wild   Session 3:

Bellock’s Possession

Introduction

“We have valuable information for the Captain. We must get to the Captain’s Tower immediately,” roared Flemin.  “By the Light, our friends’ deaths will not be in vain!”

Although the lieutenant spoke with a determined tone, his gaunt face and body gave away the torment he and his comrades had received. You held these men up as they limp and meander their way along.  They cover their faces, unable to see in the bright light. Waiting in a pit for death, or worse, to have their soul taken and body animated to fight against their own friends.  It wasn’t hard to imagine how a soldier’s last act could have been to cut a message into his abdomen: A clue Doromir found earlier.

Walking through the bloodied and rubble strewn streets of Fort Ogrehead, you’re greeted by those Celns who have survived the night.  The children come with you, refusing to leave Melissande’s side.  But the others depart, Macavoy joins Clyde as he heads off to determine what’s left of his bar and you hear something about a drink mumbled under his breath.  People are shocked to see so many of these familiar faces in the condition they are in.  If they only knew you think…

The sun is shining.  It’s hard to believe that just 12 hours ago, you were just like so many of these people here, working for a living, adventure more a spoken dream than a reality. Now, here you were assisting the King’s Shields after rescuing them from Darkened orcs and goblins!

Ahead, a guard stands at Haven Tower.  Suddenly, his eyes grow wide. His mouth drops. “Lt. Flemin?”

“It’s me kid. Stand aside, we need to see Eminides. And, kid.  41 double portions of our best rations.  On the double!”

Eminides and the War Council

The party returns Flemin and Bearclaw who both get a serious Make Over, NPC Edition.  Flemin and Bearclaw debrief with the Captain. And you learn of the following:

*The goblins are not running the show. Thri-Kreen from the East are involved for daytime forces.  A mysterious hooded figure has made undead of the men.

*The enemy has air support of some kind. This is why they are not worried about Tiresias leaving the Fort via the air.

*Outpost 51, in the Southern Valley may have indeed fallen.

*The enemy is seeking certain items, and the same man named Tiresias that the Cardinal wants, which they believe to be at the fort.   They have no intention of holding the fort for long as they know it can be reclaimed by Carr Thos infantry and ballistics in less than a week.

The party is given the express thanks of the soldiers. They are each allowed to take one masterwork weapon or armor from the armory.  They each receive the Hero’s Medal, and they are each given the Honor of choosing The Brand. None do.

A Case of The Blues

A shrieking cry is heard which sends a spine tingling tremor down your backs.  Gripping the balustrade, but mindful to keep your neck back for goblin  or orc arrows, you peek out into a clowdy sky.  Two large shapes streak in and out of clouds heading towards the Fort, and grow more and more detailed in the sky. They move with the unmistakable grace of dragons, dragons with mounted riders.  One of whom carries the white flag, the white flag every Celn agrees to honor in combat by his majesty’s decree!

A horn sounds, but Eminides just stands, watching. The figures grow until they spiral above the tower in which you now stand, and with a thud that shakes mortar and stone, the two land in the courtyard. As arrows tighten, soldiers still shrink back.  Many are simply frozen in place by the dragon fear. 

“Hold your Fire, you see the Flag. Hold still Good Celns, this is your majesty’s mandate!” roars Eminides from behind a pillar.  Flemin, and Bear Claw join his side. Through his helm, Flemin winks at you and gives you a motion to stay put. “Look’s like a bad case of the blues, boys…” They walk out into the courtyard to face the foes.

Both dragons are young and blue, elegant specimens rarely seen, and never by your eyes or anyone you know.  They are beautiful and yet frightening but not as you remember in stories. They snap and snip at each other, and hiss in the direction of soldiers hiding behind barrels of weapons on the battlements. Atop one of them sits a goblin, unlike any you have seen last night, save one. He seems much larger than he should, but his goblin form is unmistakable. Another goblin rides with him, this is the flag bearer and he immediately dismounts.  The White Flag of Safe Conduct is held aloft for all in the fort to see. Atop the other wyrm, sits another rider who holds the reigns of the dragon, but says nothing.  He wears what looks like simple robes, pulled over to hide both face and body.

The flag bearer dismounts and meets Captain Eminides, careful not to get too close to the biting jaws of the twin dragons.

“You stand in the presence of Nee Shen, Shaman to the Immortal Orc Tribes, Ruler of this Valley.  You will lay down your Fort to us, Captain.”

“This is what you have come to say?” roars Eminides.  “A couple of pets, a hooded coward and a fat goblin and you think we’re laying down our weapons to you? This flag is meant for those with a conscience and purpose upon this good land, Blighted One. This. Is. Cellinor! And we aren’t accustomed to assaults or threats. Why have you attacked His Majesty’s town of Haven and from where have you invaded his Majesty’s Valley?”

The goblin seems unimpressed nonetheless. “We have your women, children, on their way to Almagesh, they will serve the Thri Kreen well. Last night was but a taste, tonight, you will all be given the reward of lining our stew pots. My master has one choice for you to consider, but one only.”

“And who might your Master be, fool?” Eminides asks with a nod to the hooded figure.

The goblin continues without answering. “Give us the Sage. Tiresias. We WILL discover his location here.  We have  the means now.  He will not be able to escape, nor shall any of you by air or on foot! Do that, and we will simply make meals of you, and sell your women and children in the markets to the East. If you do not, well, my Master will make Soulless of everyone here tonight.”

Eminides whistles to a man atop the tower wall, who tightens his bowstring. “You little Darkened bastard.  We have honored your flag. I’ll give you just a 10 count before I fill you with holes. Even these beasts have been placed at a disadvantage here! Now be gone filth!”

“My master will take him, Commander. And you will live to see us peel the flesh off the bodies of those you care about.” The goblin  returns to his saddle atop the beast, and begins to climb, but as he looks around, his eyes accidentally land on you.  He looks towards the first rider and signals in your direction.  The rider turns his gaze towards you, and the dragon lifts off unceremoniously, it’s wings cause debris to scatter the courtyard. Instead of flying upwards though, it flies towards you, hovering so that Nee Shen and his rider are within earshot.

“YOU!!! YOU ARE THE MURDERERS OF MY WIFE/MY SISTER (the same word in both Hillbilly and Goblin)! YOU WILL BE HUNTED. YOU WILL FIND NO REFUGE! TONIGHT, YOU WILL WISH YOU HAD NEVER COME TO THIS PLACE!” The tiny creature seems nearly comical in size, but yet commands an authority. 

The dragons pull upwards, with a blast of wind, your hair flattens against you and dust swirls.  Screams and gasps come from somewhere inside the fort, as their departure must have no doubt mortified those who saw them.  All must be doomed.

“It looks like you know how to make enemies, too, my friends….” whispers Eminides, lost in thought. “I’d recommend getting a decent meal, and some new gear.  Your stuff smells like the sewer!” He gives an awkward chuckle. “For not, good Celns, tonight, we die in brotherhood. To serve the Light, there is no greater reward, even if we must die in the Dark.”

“Meet back here if you wish to join our defense. If not, I will understand. I wish you Safe Passage however you spend this night. Go in the Light, Celns, while it lasts.”

A Low Time for  a High Inquisition

As the party attempts to understand these latest and dire circumstances, they begin to get serious about leaving, and fast. But the day is still young. First they pay a visit to the Cellinor Land Surveyor’s Office.  After magically sealing their bond to Land Grant 21-B, they head out to purchase other supplies.

BONG!!!! The Flame’s Bell rings out, and the non-military members of the Fort must meet in the Plaza of Heroes.  Atop the central meeting stage, is Cardinal Bellock, Enlil, and other nobles.  It is a tumultuous crowd!

Gingrich’s Speech

Citizens of the Realm!!!! They are hiding something. We all know there are hyppogriffs here at the fort. Why can they not use these to let us escape! The demons have gone for now, but they will be back! The Captain is hiding something I tell you!!!

 

I will give 50 gold to any man or able bodied woman even who joins us.  It is the will of the Flame to assist your nobles.  I am one of the Elite of Cillandar.  I must be returned to the Capitol so that I can speak at the Assembly and send more troops.  What say you Eminides, would you have your Nobles slain when we could report what is going on here and have help arrive?

Eminides’ Speech

Listen to me carefully. Nobles, commoners, adventurers! Lend me your ears! Our fort was nearly overtaken last night.  But that was not the intended outcome.  This was a diversion. Meant to scare us.  A liason of our enemies forces offered our terms of surrender last night. Silence. He reads from a dirty scroll: “Give the fort to us now, and we will only make Undead of the adults. We will eat your children and spare their Immortal Soul”. There are gasps and crying.

Our scouting force was captured, many slain, and many became Soulless.  Our enemy has bombardment weaponry.  This wave was meant to scare us.  The next will be to take us. WE MUST PULL TOGETHER or BE OVER RUN.  I have always run this fort with Honesty. I tell you now to brace yourselves. Our nearest brother, Outpost 51 may already be over run.  During the battle, we sent a scout and he returned only just alive enough to tell us three words. “51 is gone”.

The entire fort gasps.

We are on our own. Even if the winged steeds could circumvent the enemy, there is no time.  We must repel this invasion. And we must do it together, without aid from our Cellinor Brothers elsewhere. Each able bodied man and woman is to report to the Central Barracks. Captain Flemin and Captain Bearclaw will outfit you as best we can. You will then receive an assignment. Children are to be brought to the Central Tower by Mid NOON. Kiss your wives tonight good Celns. Fight for their Honor with us!!!!!

Enlil’s Turn

The Darkness surrounds us my children, but so does the Light! These foul creatures are only here for one reason.  They are here because they wish to find the traitor Tiresias!

Enlil comes forward,  and gives evidence of what the party has done. He testifies that he witnessed these Orc Lovers stealing and killing easily. Clearly, they are much more equipped than they appear to be.  He grabs their gear and if possible the note from Lemure.  He will read it aloud.  If he is able to take the note, Enlil will read it to the entire audience. Even Bearclaw and Flemin’s testimony will not be enough to stop their imprisonment before Inquisition (DC 30) without note (DC 24)

The party is taken into the dungeons below the Cathedral of Light, and subjected to Bellock’s rhetoric while being stripped, searched, and mistreated. They await their execution in bonds and shackles.

 “Again we see Havenos, there is nothing you can possess, which I cannot take away. ” The DM

A Sip of Macavoy’s Special Brew

Macavoy is taken prisoner and thrown into the cell next to them. “Fine mess you’ve gotten yourselves into again….time for a drink, I think.” He begins to open a bag, first he pulls out a flask and takes a drink, and immediately disappears!

Then, he pulls forth many items….(Bag of Holding) “I am here not just for you, my friends.  I am here for the Lighted Treasures. The real reason for this invasion.” He opens up the chamber door and leads the party into the treasury.  Superceding various traps, he enters the vault. “You should still come too! Duh…”

Treasure Vault of the Cardinal

Macavoy seems to know exactly why he is here, and what he is looking for.  “I recommend you peeking around.  Light knows what ol’ Bellock has in here, but grab it fast, we are leaving soon…”

The party finds…

*A letter addressed to Cardinal Bellock detailing information about Land Grant 21-b.  It’s current occupation is unknown but estimates of a force of 6-12 estimated in order to take.  Possible one of the Towers of Kasille?

*A magical sword displayed in an elegant way.  The sword glows a dull red and radiates tremendous magic.   A magical ring, helm, potion and scroll.

*A map which Macavoy immediately views and possesses. He shares with you that this map, and Tiresias are what the invasion is all about.  The map seems to be only a part of something larger, and has odd markings around it showing an image of a lantern glowing.

*A script of a diary from a notable explorer known as Lestor  Copperpot along with his map. The diary entry informs the reader that Copperpot has found one of the Lanthorns of the Heroes.

*A metallic box that when opened activates a mechanism showing several celestial spheres in motion over a period of time.  It seems to suggest a period of 3 years before the world is enveloped in either extreme scorching heat, or utter darkness.

Unfortunately, for the party, Bellock, Enlil and several others of the Order have arrived just as they are leaving.

“Hello Brother Ignotus. It looks like your drinking problem has finally caught up with you. Children of Light, do not be deceived by this man’s lies. He works in the darkness. Stay within the Flame’s light. Even in death, you will be among us. The Dark Lanterns are a dying breed my friend.  Where ever you have hidden Tiresias, it will not matter. The Ketians will find him. . They will take this fort, they will take Tiresias. But Cellinor will take it back. I have told you before Ignotus, the darkness cannot hold that which is in the Light. Your sister, Ignotus, gave me much power. Would you care to see?”

During the battle, when things went poorly for Bellock, he began  to read from a scroll. As Enlil was struck down, he yells: “You would leave me here after all I have done for the Flame, for You!!!?” Nonetheless, the party is able to disrupt the powerful spell just in time, and escape, before Bellock and his soldiers can find them. Thanks to Macavoy’s Flask of Invisibility!

“The Dark will take you! The Darkness will take you!!!!!” yells Bellock as you rush out into the open air of the cathedral.

 

Session 4 The Battle for Haven

As the storm continues to pour and picks up, grey skies once more billow into the valley.  Orc fires and orc noises reverberate in the valley below the fort. The party joins Flemin, Bearclaw, Eminides and Macavoy for the report and THE  plan to survive the night.

  1. REPORTS

*The encounter with the Blues is discussed. Flemin mentions that the goblin obviously was granted a favor to “look good” in front of his forces.   The dragons are obviously controlled by something. The hooded figure, the leader of the operation, seems to be in control.

*Eminides is aware that the party has tokens that were found in Bellock’s Treasury. They are entitled to keep them so long as his scribes may make copies of the maps and letters. The magical items are theirs.  He notes that Melissande carries the standard.  One of them carries the helm, and that another bears a sword.  It reminds him of the Plaza of Heroes statues in the Grand Harbor of Cillandar.

*Report from Flemin and Bearclaw: *Outpost 51 gone. Heard over comments made during captivity.  Bearclaw knows the number of Orcs and Goblins are near 200 for goblins in total, and near 100 for Orcs.  There are others that seem to be in control.  A necromancer would come in and choose those to make undead.  This creature was always hooded, and spoke in a whisper.  Bearclaw believes her to be a female.  Another figure seems to scare everyone and deals directly with the “bugs” or Thri-kreen slavers. Everyone they encountered bows before it, and it gives severe headaches as it moves around.

*Billingsweed is summoned to the Battle Room (drums begin to beat) he calls the party My Lords.  Eminides notes this, and asks.  Billingsweed refuses to reply under confidentiality rules, but Eminides notes why. “So, we’ve been busy, my friends! So happy it was you, instead of that pig, Bellock!”

*Goodly cleric offers to bless the party.

*Tiresias: The sage and who he may be will remain a secret with Eminides. Even Macavoy does not know who Tiresias is, simply that he is important.

“My Lord, why not try to take the non-combatants  via the few hyppogriffs we have left?” “The Blues control the skies.”

*Indi Ilium: Eminides wants to know where he is. Indi Ilium is a very clever rogue and merchant and has perhaps found a way of escape from the fort. He is a Marco Polo of sorts. If so, he wants the party to locate him as a possible way to get the noncombatants out of the fort.

The Plan, Yes Another One

Eminides addresses those solemnly as he gives his plan.

We will lure the goblins and orcs into the back gate. It still appears in disrepair.  Goblin scouts have been circumnavigating the perimeter all day.  During the battle, the Immortal Orc shamans will stage their ritual, enciting the Orcs and Goblins to Battle.  A small contingent of guards will stay back and guard the Innocents in the Tower Dungeon. Macavoy and Telkineel will set up and arrange the forces there.

The majority of our forces will surprise the Immortal Orcs by spearheading an attack directly at the ritual.  We will establish a “crit box”,  while Bearclaw and Flemin attack the central Shaman Circle. Once the idol is destroyed, the Orcs will break up and the battle will be won.

“We have seen you in action, My Lords. There is something special about you.  We would be honored if you fought by our side. We know you have done much for us already, and we ask no more.  Tonight, we are all in this together, we hold you to nothing.  Whatever you decide, you have our respect! If you wish to come with this, on this suicide mission, make sure to report back here in time within the next two hours.  May the Light protect you, while it can!”

Looking For a Way Out, One Last Time

Taryn decides that he will search Indi’s residence with Telkineel, a fellow elf ranger.  They head down to his shop, and find it in shambles. This in particular is not surprising giving the recent attack, however, they find dead merchants who are only recently murdered, within the hour.  Telkineel immediately becomes suspicious and draws his bow.  So does Taryn.  They head into the back of the empty shop and find a ladder into a basement. Blood and other evidence of battle lies around them. Indi’s shop is completely empty.

Turning a corner, Taryn and Telkineel discover a floating Indi moaning in agony. Before Taryn can move away, however, the transparent creature eating Indi grabs him and sucks him in. Telkineel immediately leaves quickly to alert the others!

Luckily, Taryn’s party arrives quickly and does battle with the cube. Although another cube presents a serious challenge, they defeat the cube with Melissande earning honors of the fatal blow.

A gelatinous cube seems to have ruined Indi’s leaving, although it would appear that others have indeed escaped. By evidence left, boot prints and a holy symbol left inside the cube, the party realizes that Bellock was the one who escaped. He must have freed the cube that Indi used to guard the portal and left, but not before nearly dying himself.  Several other traps were not deactivated. Pressure plates that shoot crossbow bolts giving Melissande her first damage of the campaign!.

Indi survives despite being found half inside the cube. He will bear the scar of this near death experiment with gelatinous cubes his entire life.  When rescued, the party realizes he is a wealth of information and may aid them in merchant and trade affairs once they establish their Settlement in the North.

On a Wing and  a Prayer


The party returns to the tower intent on aiding the Offensive.  While Macavoy guards the Dungeon Tower, the party and their Celn Shield allies position themselves for the mission they hope will save the Fort and their lives.

Taryn devices a clever plan. He convinces Eminides to loan him one of the only remaining hyppogriffs so that he can drop a flaming oil barrel on the idol.  Eminides agrees and using the last of Macavoy’s invisibility flask, he makes himself invisible.

Once the ritual begins, the party rushes out, Melissande uses her polymorph self power to survey the field as a bird. Taryn drops the barrel on the idol, damaging it severely and nearly killing the Immortal Orc circle. Bearclaw, Flemin and Bolivst charge into battle. 

The crit box holds over a hundred of the enemy at bay, including one really nasty orc warrior dying to get in. As the orc shamans attempt to confuse and charm the party, Bolvist kills in close.  The idol however begins to form into a living breathing creature. A mummy of tremendous power causing fear to those around it as the circle of their protectors closes.

Taryn, his package deliversed becomes visible, like Wonder Woman in her hippogriff jet outline.  In horror, he now sees the blue dragons chasing after him controlled by a hooded figure on the bluff.

Below, within the circle the outline of a door appears.  Out steps Tiresias.  He hands his staff to Bolvist and tells him,

“The time to trust in men has come again. Give this to Melissande, tell her to use it to Light the way.”

Tiresias then begins a massive and colossal transformation. His body grows into a gigantic golden dragon.  Even in the awe of this event, the party can tell Tiresias, this massive beast, is as old and tired in this form as he is in human form.  With a shuddering quake of earth, the dragon launches itself into the fray above.

Taryn, no longer engaged with the blues, returns to the battle, and lands in the fray. Overhead, the skies crackle and shudder with the exchange of powerful attacks.

One blue drops to the ground, blasting earth like a meteor.  And then, in short order another as well. Tiresias has won the battle of the skies!

The Battle of the Bluff

The mummy begins to coalesce, it’s red eyes glowing with evil intent, an aura of fear filling those with dread.  Just then, Doromir is able to find a final charge on his wand of magic missiles.  The damage is just enough!

A force of immense pressure fills your ear drums.  As the idol falls, a concussion of air blasts outward in a wave which nearly knocks you off your feet.  Orcs, goblins, and Shields stand in confusion.  As if on cue, the goblins and foul orcs begin to back away and then run.  Cheers erupt from the few soldiers left standing.  The enemy retreats!  The battle has been won!

However, one lone battle continues on the bluff overlooking you. 

“You ancient worm! I have come to the surface for this. You are sickly. You are weak. You are dying!”

It’s Tiresias, but he is no longer in dragon form.  He is casting some spell at his adversary, the hooded one.  A bolt of energy surges out of his fingertips, but at the same time, a concussion erupts around him.  Both of the attackers fold and drop to the ground.  As you watch, you realize another figure has yet to flee. 

It is a woman, pale and sickly, elvish ears, her hood is pulled back. Around her, the enemy flees on either side, like a boulder in the middle of a stream. In front of her she holds several zombies on chains. They begin to move into the direction of Tiresias.  She releases the chains, and the creatures tear towards his fallen body.

Luckily, Eminides men get there first and they cut down the zombies in time to save Tiresias. But it’s too late. Tiresias calls, not to the soldiers, but to the party!

“This is as it should be…no do not waste your healing arts on me, good witch of the wilds.  There is no art which can keep me from the darkness now. My race was never meant to live on.  I have endured far past my time.

Forgive me Heroes. Loneliness is a powerful shield for the armor of anger.  Listen to me, seek the lanterns, and there is hope. It has been foretold. The Heroes will rise once more.  The answers lie on the Path and in the Library, many seek it, but it will not open until it is ready. When the time comes, you will know how to find it. I. am. Not. The . Last …of .my .kind.”

The Colors of Cellinor!

Off in the distance, a horn bleats.  Turning, all watch as winged forms appear in the skies. What’s this?  More enemies?  But slowly, the fear of the few remaining warriors turns to unadulterated joy.  Someone yells, “Look, the King’s Colors! The mighty Green and Gold of CELLINOR!!!” As the forms draw closer, it appears as a wing of griffons.  The foremost rider is magnificent, dressed in regal plate mail, the Awakening Tree brightly emblazoned on his chest.  Behind him, other riders in gleaming mail land, on cue, they dismount and form a box around the winged griffons who look worn.  Together, they pull swords and hold them at their side.  “Make way for his majesty, Lord Genoran!”

The prince of Cellinor, Lord Genoran himself takes off his helm. He takes in the entire scene. Slowly a smile spreads over his face as he announces to all:

“Stories of our  demise have  been greatly exaggerated. 51 still stands, as does the Might of Cellinor!!!!!!!!”

Where is Captain Eminides?   Who is now in charge?  “My Lord, I am”  barks  a weak voice stepping out from the crowd. A weakened and bloody Eminides lives!

The Feast and the Sponsor

He calls Billingsweed  into the battle room and magically seals his hand a task of sponsorship!

“It is a goodly land.  It has it’s many issues.  But, we will fight back the Darkness in time. I have witnessed your courage for our land.

I WILL BE YOUR SPONSOR.”

Before he announces anything to the mass, Genoran pauses briefly. He seems to consider his words carefully.

“You have witnessed a grand event tonight, and you are no longer simple followers of the Faith. Oh, my father has heard these many reports. Whether true or not, we have a Kingdom to run don’t we? Be careful of who you mention my friends, the Order’s Law is Celn Law and these so called “Dark Lanterns” are put to death, mercilessly. You are now Nobles and Lords, and as such you are expected to keep the politics for the sake of the realm’s stability.  Do what you will in this changing time, but be good Lords of the North. Whether for personal glory, for personal gain, or for the Sake of All (he gives  a facetious wink) care for your lands and vassals.  You are no mere common folk, forever more…”

To the crowd…

“These men are Heroes of the Crown. They are fully pardoned, by the power granted to me by his Lord, my father, Haidius Borindin. I further understand that these Lords are in need of vassals for a rather extraordinary expedition to colonize a rich area North of Carr Thos.  Perhaps, some of you would care to join them…”

During the feast, the party is approached by many who wish to travel with them stating their case for the benefits they can bring.  The party will have it’s pick of the litter, thanks to the Prince’s sponsorship.

But tonight is meant to celebrate.  And the celebrations begin with two ballads.

Believed to be the last remaining oral piece of the Kasillian Age, the Ballad of Light and Darkness is said to be a song of the common people.  Few material cultural works exist from that era, and the Age of Simplification destroyed most of what might have been left after the war.  However, the Ballad of Light and Darkness became an oral tradition, one in which the Order of Flame, could not quite eradicate.  Strangely, the Ballad does not describe the victory of the Lighted Folks as described in the Liberation Scroll, but rather  a “Darkening” and the rise of Heroes to fight as was done in the past.  For this reason, it is considered blasphemous unless performed in Celn tradition and in the proper military context. When heard, the metaphor of the Heroes and their “Path” has spurred numerous Celns onto battle.  It is often played before a great conflict, and always sung after a tremendous victory.

The Ballad of Light and Darkness

 

When Gaians hide from Lighted Day

When Erebus , in Night, holds Sway

When those above are shown the way

To dark and deep, forgotten Ket.

 

When Heroes sleep, but rise once more

When  Sages reveal our ancient Lore

When great Kings and Queens  from distant shores

Awaken from their peaceful reign.

 

When silhouettes  a Ring of Three

There will in time, come Darkening

When lands do swell from what does breed

Below, in chilled and frozen seed.

 

When the words of Kasil are unknown

Protecting those who rise to throne

When Heroes deeds will make it shown

The road to the Path of Light.

 

A Time for those to pay the price

Of man’s betrayal committed thrice

The Lords of Darkness wait to rise

Commanding hordes to battle.

 

Listen to the Sage’s verse

Not prophets speaking soothing words

To aid us All, a few must hurt

Make idols new; then ruin’s curse.

 

The Warrior shall be duty bound

His weapon rests upon the ground

His mortal wounds  shall bring him down

And he will rise anew.

 

The Trickster’s tool provides the spark

Between the Sunlight and the Dark

His hooded visage is  the mark

His time will come again.

 

Great Mother’s blood will play a part

Her enemies fear a noble heart.

To end the Dark, the Light will start

Her nature’s noble passage.

 

The Dying God is he who bleeds

In search of knowledge that he needs

For surely it is he who leaves

Upon the table scrolls of reeds.

 

The Hero’s Journey is complete

In tome and deed  the past does meet

Those Heroes from a distant land

With knowledge  lost once in defeat

 

The shape of destiny may be

And time not just a memory

Open eyes in Sunlight and you’ll see

The path of  untold victory.

 

Hold true with those in righteous might

Beware the traitors of the Night

Seek flame upon the path to fight

The Enemy within the Light.


During the feast, the party is gifted with a song by the most noble of bards, Tuatha Ulraiecht.  Sung in the grand tradition of Cellione’s famous oral verse, this song dedicates the defeat of the Thor Valley Immortal Orc Tribes by the Lords of the Northern Tower, the “Twilight Force” (or other…). It is dedicated to His Majesty, Lord Genoran, who rode through the night to defend the Green and Gold of Cellinor’s flag.

The Ballad of The Battle of Haven

 

Once was a maiden of virtue

Her name Melissande, she’d yell “Fork you”.

With a pitchfork in hand

She takes shit from no man

And doesn’t stay home on the Flames’ curfew!

 

Then there’s a ranger  named Taryn.

Who’s blade glows when a wyrm is nar’ him.

He’s often near dying

Or off somewhere flying

Just be careful when you shoot his direction.

 

Lord Bolvist never shies from the fight.

Enemies die, but he’s still Upright.

He’ll make Chuul stew

Like his orc mother used to

His past is dark but his future is bright!

 

And lo did the enemy come!

Foul beasts that the Daylight does shun.

With weapons of war

They hungered for more

Good thing we had Macavoy’s rum!

 

These Heroes did look for an exit

Said Taryn, “I think we should check it.”

So he found a big cube

And got stuck in it’s goo.

It’s not the last time he’ll be near death, we reckon!

 

Our brave Captain developed a plan

To attack the only way that we can

Said Melissande, “I’m a bird!”

And then she yelled dirty words

Who’s to say war is meant for a man?

 

Good Taryn had just nearly died

But an idea he wanted to try

So he found a big drum

And he drank some more rum

Climbed on and he went for a ride.

 

Now Bolvist, he knew what to do

Said he, “Flying is for you!”

I’m going to use this here ring

And stab the darned thing

That is making my life rather blue.

 

Then suddenly,  all felt the might

Of dragons in battle and fight

O’er head they did battle

While below shields did rattle

The Dark felt the power of Light!

 

But below things were not going well

The idol was starting to swell!

So they looked around

And guess who they found?

A mage with one decent spell!

 

And that’s when the Mummy did fry.

But Mellisande wasn’t able to  cry.

For when you float in the back

During a large scale attack

Be a log fast or you are going to die.

 

But then all did suddenly notice

A body, above, good Tiresias.

As he lay dying

Our Lord came  ‘a flying

As the foul demons of night ran from us.

 

And lo we did see our Celn colors!

The Green and the Gold like no others!

Secure is now Haven

And Thanks we have gave Them

The saviors of Haven’s

CHILDREN and MOTHERS.

 

With a graceful bow, good Tuatha the Bard finishes as the citizens of Haven yelp and applaud. Lord Genoran nods in validation of the tremendous deeds set forever in beautiful rhyme. For some who now hear it, it is considered the most famous of the  “Twilight Force” (or other) tales. As all good Celns know however, it was only the beginning of their great deeds to come. But those are tales for another time!

INTO THE WILD, Session 5: The Twin Tower

 

Lessons Learned

During the feast, you notice Flemin and Bearclaw are not in attendance. Tuatha Ulreicht presents the Twilight Force with an amazing ballad.   As more and more potential vassals approach the new Nobles of the Twin Tower, the party begins to develop a plan for their hopefully soon to be acquired home.  Using Clyde’s brewing ingenuity, and connections made to farmers, dwarven craftsmen, and their pull with the Shields after the rescue, the party will establish their homestead in the North with a strong military and some strong ale!

Later that night, back in the Guard’s Tower, the Prince and Eminides discuss many of the more salient points of military importance. 

*Shee En has been used for information about those who attacked the fort.  Discovered is that the Orcs found something, something that recently appeared  in their domains deep in the caverns in the mountains.  Simply, it’s referred to as The Hole.

The Challenge of Champions will be held this year in Carr Thos.  Genoran hopes the party will make a good showing as it’s in their backyard now and will give much notoriety to their domain.

*The party discusses the trip with Indi Ilium and learns of the Pass of Laedras, a treacherous canyon in the mountains above the Blue Aluene.  This pass is controlled by the Blue Elves, who have been treated with by Borindin, and should be at least impartial neighbors. A swamp lies to the East, and is surrounded in mystery.  A path along the Aluene brings one to the Valley of the Twin Tower. Past that, the merchant believes there are many tribes and cultures to treat or trade with, as well as a body of water known as “The Scar Sea” that may be a productive port or at least a waterway for use.

*Macavoy wishes the party good journey. He will be investigating the map and it’s sign that might symbolize a “harbor”.  He leaves the bag of holding in their possession.

Melissande tucks Jeffer and Jill into bed, and Bolvist commands he not be disturbed until the ale houses open.

And they wake up to the sounds of commotion! Genoran’s announcement that they would leave in the dawn to find the Thri Kreen and save the noncombatants was a distraction to rat out a mole. Of course the Prince of Cillandar would never feast while his loyal subjects were taken to the Sea of Sands! Not only have Flemin and Bearclaw lead a successful mission during the night to bring home the survivors, but they’ve also found the mole attempting to tell the enemy they were coming.  You notice that Telkineel was also gone. The mole is TELKINEEL! Within just a few minutes, he is interrogated by the High Inquisition and given a sentence of Remittance to the Flame by hanging. Despite the party’s best efforts to keep him alive, he will be hung. Nonetheless, as he is about to die and offered one last chance to speak, he chooses to speak to the party.  Calling them forward, he says with great clarity with his final words, “Elora Moonshadow IS alive. She lives.” With tears in his eyes, he ignores their pleas for more information and nods towards the hangman.

From his torture by the hands of Eminides’ “truth seeker” it appears that he was captured while in the wilds after being exiled from the Blue Elves Nation several years ago. His family has been imprisoned and kept by the Necromancer. Why he was exiled was not information he would discuss under any torture. He was told by those holding his loved ones that if he gave certain information to them regarding the Fort’s doing and goings on, his family would be spared.  

In the morning, the new Lords gather those who they intend to take with them to their new homestead, and head off for Carr Perrin.  Flemin wishes them good journey but unfortunately must report to Cillandar for a special assignment chosen for him specifically by Prince Genoran. Genoran leaves for the Southern Valley to head an offensive there known as the Southern Spear.  Troops from Carr Thos will be arriving shortly to fortify Haven.  A group of the nation’s toughest will investigate rumors of Shee En’s information.

Carr Perrin

The road to Perrin is uneventful. The land in the wilds is beautiful and full of delights.  Waterfalls, and sheer mountain craggy walls and cliffs border lush valleys.  It is a farmer’s delight in the neverending spring of this section of the realm.  It’s the nation’s breadbasket to be sure.  The party stops for the night at a small outpost along the road. The members of the Shield Infantry here are none too professional, but they are handled by Bolvist and Melissande and soon the caravan is asleep and then, rested.  

Within a few hours they make Perrin, it’s generous walls gracing the mountain it’s built from.  Extravagant flora line it’s ruin base and waters  flow through gaps splashing into the rocky hillside below.  Carr Perrin, known for it’s extensive and advanced sewer and water systems borrowed from the Kasillian structures found there, is a tremendous beauty for such a small city.  Set against a magnificent peak, Perrin is a city of splendor.

Entering the main gates, the party notices they are watched with suspicion. Signs of missing children line the streets and vendors are none too easy with their mannerisms.  Something has the populace paranoid in Perrin. Nonetheless, the party decides that they have other pressing matters, and that they do. Not wanting to become embroiled in something here in Perrin, they send Doromir to locate some magical needs while Bolvist heads over to various shops.  Within an hour, Doromir arrives back but he’s not alone.  Hanging on him is a woman who garbles her name as “Greasy Grelda!” with a loud and raucous roar.  As the two love birds give a new name to “role playing” in front of you, the party decides to settle their community outside the city for the evening.  Bolvist returns to the city, and heads to the local bar known as The Rusty Sabre.  As he enters, he sees none other than Greasy Grelda herself, the proprietor, wrapping herself around another young lad.  “Poor Doromir,” he thinks, “we might need a cure disease scroll now…”

Bolvist’s Mighty Challenge

“If anyone can take this gold from me there’s a lot more for ye.  Take your best shot!”

“I can!” someone shouts, but one by one, they fail to hit the Half Orc, let alone do a lick of damage.  Just as Bolvist is beginning to think these weaklings won’t be of any use as NPCs to shield him from evil creatures that Tom dreams up, a much older man approaches.

“I’ll take your challenge there, Master Orc.” And he lays a solid fist to Bolvist’s jaw.

“Want a job?” Bolvist grins.

“Name’s Harquin.  But, most people just call me Q. I fix things. Make things.  I’ll travel with you. You are the ones heading to the Twin Tower, aren’t you? You’ll need someone like me I’d wager.”

Before leaving, Bolvist finds another willing to travel with him.  A kid named Dusty, whom Bolvist nicknames Scruffy, whispers that he’ll tag along but that he’ll meet the Half-Orc outside the city in the morning.  He looks around warily.  “Just the kind of guy I’m looking for,” thinks Bolvist, “You’re in, kid, but try not to bring your baggage wouldya?”

As Taryn and Bolvist rendezvous, Taryn explains how he too was successful finding some henchmen, a few rangers willing to brave the wilds.  They leave the city gates behind, confident that the morning will bring them good fortune.

Dawn’s rays reach the tents and spread across the vast forest around them.  The new community of the Lords of the Twin Towers awakes.  As they leave the city’s vicinity, Scruffy arrives, just in time with a quiet look back.  And so does another, Captain Gundar.

“My Lords, the Governor of Carr Perrin, His Grace, the Honorable Horace Del Lentios, wishes you a safe journey. He apologizes he isn’t able to greet you personally on your way off, but sends me in his stead.  He looks forward to hearing of your safe passage to the North and perhaps a new trade partner once your lands are settled.  Please be mindful on your journeys. These lands are unhospitable outside civilized areas.” He looks back at the city walls. “Even within them, sometimes…”

“Again, safe journey, my Lords!” And with that, he reins his horse around and gallops back into the city’s gates with his guardsmen in tow.

The Pass of Laedras

Into the mountains trudged the explorers. Wagons, horses, families and men.  The vestiges of civilization left behind, the road began to grow more and more in a state of disrepair.  With Q’s help and that of his pal Smunch, and a whole lot of elbow grease, the caravan pushed on, higher and higher into the mountains.

“The Pass of Laedras is ahead,” informed Indi. “Soon we will come to the most gregarious portion of the Aluene canyons here.  The water is swift and the cliffs are sheer. The bridge here will save us nearly a week of passing over the mountains, and countless lives we would be sure to lose to the denizens of this foul hills.  The Blue Elves guard tower will be visible first.”

However, thanks to Taryn’s good intuition, something didn’t seem right. The bridge, suspended by metal wires, seems to resemble less of a bridge and more of a trap.  A shadow passes overhead, visible only to him.  What could be going on? And where are the elves?

The party heads back and asks Q to create a unique item for them, to lock the collapsing bridge together. “Smunch, bend!”  Smunch makes quick work of this, and as they lock the mechanism in place, a flock of vicious harpies attack!

Led by a clearly malignant leader, they sing a song of enchantment, but the party does not fall for any of it. In fact, they are all immune! One day in a ballad, Tuatha will refer to it as “The Miracle Over the Aluene”. The battle commences, and the party uses an amazing sleep spell to trap one of the harpies in it’s own cage.  The others are destroyed as well. The party is shocked to see their hideous forms turn back into those of beautiful maidens as they fall into the Aluene, only to be swept away lifelessly.  The party leads their community safely across.  The guard shack holds several wonderful treasures, including a dagger +2, Longtooth and Leather Armor +2. It is deserted and has been for some time. Where are the elves?

Road Construction, Detour Ahead

Before long, the party discovers that the Pass of Laedras isn’t the only area the Blue Elves have neglected.  As they wind their way north, the barriers built by the elves have eroded, The Aluene has flooded and brought the marsh much closer. The dry land that Indi expected isn’t there. The party has no choice but to navigate the treacherous swamps ahead!

The path is difficult and Loyalty is low.  So, Melissande decides to take bird shape and scout ahead.  She learns that the swamp is far reaching. The party can either press on into rough conditions, or it can take a detour into a more wooded and dry portion of the swamp.  They decide on staying with the swamp, and it’s only because of Taryn and Melissande’s great perception that they nearly avoid death by a giant underwater carnivorous plant.  Whew!

As night comes on and spirits are dismal, suddenly, a green hill appears. They’ve reached the end of the swamp. The valley is ahead! Rounding a corner, the last rays of the day striking the far edge of the tree line, the party sees the Twin Tower rising majestically in the distance.  A tremendous waterfall cascades in front of it. Can this really be theirs for the taking?  Setting a watch, the party begins their last night in the wilds before their exploration of the Twin Tower.  In the morning, spirits rise. Surely, this rich valley will bring fortune to all.

Naughty Gnolls

Unbeknownst to the party however, at least one group of savage beasts intends to keep them from taking the tower.  When the heroes approach the far tree line, they are met with arrows. And more arrows! Leaving their wagons behind, they move forward and our met by a giant Ogre, and his bugbear backups.  They play cat and mouse until they are close. And then they strike.

But the Heroes of Haven have another idea in store. Setting up a natural barrier, they keep the gnolls’ arrows at bay, and ensnare the Ogre and bugbears in roots. 

The plan works, and even Scruffy survives! Good job Scruffy!

Once the gnolls are defeated, their camp is discovered.  After searching, the party realizes that these monsters have not moved for several weeks, and they have not eaten.  These gnolls were near starving, and yet they remained.

The mysteries of the tower begin, as the party crosses the bridge and enters the grand stairs.

A Stone Cold Home Coming

The castle is breathtaking.  It’s majestic and somehow seems immune to the years.  Pausing to check their gear, they enter the front gate, only to find skeletons lie strewn around the floor. With some detective work, they learn that some of the skeletons seem to be exact duplicates of the others.  They even seem to be wearing the same gear and wielding the same weapons.  The method of death is certainly trauma caused by some of the other weapons found amongst the other bodies.  Those dead killed themselves some long time ago. But why?

Taryn begins to climb the stairs and finds a newly deceased body of a gnoll. It is facing the exit and has a gnoll arrow embedded in it’s back.  It seems to be dead only for several weeks.  Strange….

Then Taryn enters the second floor, and finds a landing outside what looks like a noble ball room.  He takes in the view, and then looking up takes in the gaze of an 8 legged wyrm! A basilisk gazes at him and attempts to turn him to stone! With a DC 15, Taryn ruins Tom’s plan ( with a 15 roll!)to take out the party one at a time, without them knowing how each member was turned to stone.  With the party now on guard for this creature, they explore the eastern portion. Bolvist remembers his ring, and finds the basilisk about to ambush the party once more.  Instead, they draw it out and begin the battle!

Melissande meets the creatures gaze, and is petrified as is Bearclaw.  Taryn uses a mirror to attempt to use the creatures gaze against it, but once Melissande is petrified, he realizes her salvation lies only in the creatures blood!  Although the creature is close to escape, Bolvist ends it with one final attack whispering his signature catch phrase…

“Sneak attack!”

The party has just survived it’s first foray into the tower.  Has killing the basilisk brought them closer to ownership?  What else awaits them in their new home?

“Elora Moonshadow lives! She lives!”

Jasper, Jesse’s character enters the story…

Behind the scenes here…

In the order, you’ve received training and conditioning.  However, you know that your “POWER” comes from something, somewhere else.

As a monk, you are selfless, and yet, the order has trained you that in this regard there is a life secret. It is the ultimate element of the enlightenment of your people.  And it is simple.

Flesh is only a vessel for the real energy of the universe. Magic and the healing arts and the physical POWER of the world is manifested from WILL. 

Selfless energy directed towards the good of all is your creed, your objective and your focus in meditation. It is what validates your desire to be one with those around you, to give, to receive, and to allow that to flourish that is meant to be. The hallmark of neutrality and the acceptance of the order of it as well.

Your order believes that many years ago, in the ancient past, mankind knew little of this secret, despite it’s efforts to tame it with religion and politics and tool.

You have been having recurring nightmares for many seasons, similar in scope and emotion to the one I have sent you, and it is this that has forced you to leave your secret monastery.  You know, that meeting this group is essential.  You don’t know why, but you’ve realized that it is part of something larger, and something beyond your control. Do you trust it? Can you? You search for enlightenment.

The SPIRIT of your order grants you your power to do amazing deeds, well beyond what your flesh can do alone.  Part of the rumor of your order is true. There is a magical object at the center of your monastery’s power. You are not meant to know this, and yet you do. In one event, of which you again felt compelled, you witnessed the inner monks of your order in ritual around a brilliant lantern deep in the hearts of your mountain home.  When you brought this up to the elders, you were persuaded to leave.

This event has challenged your thinking. But the idea of revealing it to anyone else is not central to your values.  Where does true enlightenment live? Where is it to be found?

Perhaps, the path to enlightenment is closer than you think…

 

The Path of Light

Session 6 and 7,Into the Wild, 

Aveldir  Haerelben-Mistress of the Castle. Aveldir was a green elf who fell in love with Aveldir.  Their only child was Alorus.

Alorus Hearelben-As he once proclaimed himself to be, The Dragon of Hearelben Castle.  What became of his family is now known to the party, however, how it happened, and what effect this had on the elven empire to the East is unknown.  Although there seem to be several clues in his diary.

Alorus Demorian, as he was once painted.  A serious and introverted young half elf.  The party discovered the portrait along with his journal and several fragments left behind in his secret, and guarded, study chamber.

Elora Moonshadow-As shown in a beautiful frescoe in the lower dining hall.  Despite the nature of the age of the castle, this image stood the test of time, appearing as though painted only recently.

Who is Elora?

Some Monk in Your Trunk

The battle with the basilisk was rough, rough enough to bring the party back to their camp for a rest.  With a highly frustrating entrance by Tuatha, who feels as though he cannot adequately create their legend in song without being “there”, Bearclaw decides to remove himself and Tuatha, and help the Lords of the Towers keep control both inside and outside the Keep.

Later that night…

Bearclaw  informs them of good news.  Q along with some Smunch power have uncovered foundations to build off of in a grid near the castle. The foundations should save a significant amount of time and money.  Q thinks that in just a few weeks, they can have basic structures erected in a small town.  Melissande’s farmers have deduced the valley is made of highly productive soils, and in fact shows evidence of hybrid domesticated plants sometime long ago.  The more they search, the more they realize, this place was a highly productive valley.  Things are looking good.  Bearclaw however, has his concerns about Scruffy, who appears to be becoming agitated and aloof.  Bearclaw lets the party know he will keep his eye on him.

The party is about to re-enter the castle, when they are approached by a bare footed man.  “My friends, without Bearclaw, you may need extra assistance. Perhaps, I can help.”

“And who might you be?” snips Bolvist.

“Why, Jasper, Master Orc. Just a simple wanderer seeking enlightenment.”

“What trunk did this fella pop out of? I don’t remember approving any ‘Enlightenment’ on our list of needs with Billingsweed”, thinks Taryn. But out loud, he says, “Well, Monk. The evils in this castle are not meant for the feint of heart.”

“How do we know you’ve got what it takes?” puts Bolvist simply.

“Well, if it please you, I will happily show you,” whispers the soft-spoken monk, his arms still folded in front of him…

Bolvist takes a swing, but the monk lays a solid blow on the orc.  It’s obvious, the monk can hold his own!

“Looks like you’re useful,” says Mellisande. “Just be careful when I cast area effect spells, ok?”

A Ghastly Surprise!

The party reenters the keep. And this time, Bolvist makes sure to diagnose various gnoll traps overlooked before with the battle with Bassie. Luckily, he catches a few widowmakers.  While searching the upper grand chambers, the party encounters a strange scene through one of the withered doors.

In this foul smelling chamber lie the bodies of many dead and decomposing bodies. The smell of death hangs everywhere. The bodies are all lying face down, one has a few arrows in it’s back. Another has a dagger embedded in it’s thigh.  They are scattered around on the floor in various positions, twisted unnaturally. Whatever battle occurred here appears to have been more recent than in some of the other areas of the castle.

The party begins to look around and is attempting to determine what happened.  Suddenly, Bolvist notices something.

“Everyone, why are their faces all looking downward?”

“Oh! Look some treasure,” thinks Melissande. 

That’s when the ghasts spring their trap.  These highly intelligent undead creatures gain a surprise round, but THANKFULLY for the party, most of them had just stepped out of their reach. Unbenownst to the party, this trap was created for these creatures and was meant to contain them in this room.

Jasper nearly perishes in the assault, and surely would have.  However, Taryn, as usual, wades into harm’s way, drawing their attention just long enough for the monk’s colleagues to pull him to safety. Luckily for Taryn, his guess was right. He manages to stand just beyond their reach. The Twilight Force has done it again!

They search and discover an odd journal, several portraits and a staircase leading upwards. 

Perhaps, the most interesting find is a portrait of a man holding a journal. And of course, on a desk in this secret alcove, lies remnants of the journal itself! On it’s cover is the mark for “dragon”.

From the Writings of ‘The Dragon”

My power grows. It grows with each life and soul I take.  The power of the three is all around me. Once I was brave enough to harness it, my life, like their will, grew beyond the limitations of my flesh.  I am more now. Much more than flesh, and bone.

Am I evil? Perhaps.  Is it evil to want power? Is it evil to recognize it’s untapped potential in the blood of those subjects I take it from? Perhaps.  But then so is the evil found in the oppression of that power by our leaders! The hypocrites!

This place is a perfect place for my research. My subjects come so willingly. With the valley’s production, I’ll have all the workforce I need.  At times I think they almost want to bind their wills to me!   In time, I will return to Alliotus, and I will establish a new elite among my people, in time they will come to see that there are only two ways. The way of power, or the way of enslavement.

The riddle of the portal still alludes me. I have tried the feeble and the brave. Neither can pass. I know this place will be a keystone when the three rise once more.  I intend to be ready. I intend to take my place among them. I have sacrificed much to do so.  But it will be worth it. When the darkness comes to us, I will take my place among their elite.  I will rise among them!

The bastard! That bastard Moonshadow has foiled my plans. Tonight I wait in the tower, while my subjects, my sheep, plan and plot to overthrow me! Even from here, I see their torches. I hear their pathetic pleas and bickerings.  Such dull lives, such dull souls.  I should have chosen my last victims more carefully, and now the ruse is up. 

But all is not lost! Tonight, I can complete the ritual! I will use those sheep I have chained and complete it myself. I will follow the path of The Three! Moonshadow will learn to regret his treachery.  His daughter will give me much power. Her death will be the gem in my crown! I may not be able to access the path yet, but in time I can return. It is time.  One path is now closed to me, but the path to immortality begins tonight!

The Kasillian Chapel

Few artifacts, and nearly no known artwork survived the Great Simplication of the Order’s rise to power in Cellinor.  However, the party has, in fact, found a treasure like none other.  A magnificent chapel, dedicated to the lore and legend that they have heard so much about. How much of it is truth? How much is legend?

This grand and once beautiful chamber must have been a place of great splendor.  Around the room, statues and other ornaments still cling to different columns and corners, although nearly all have been partially destroyed.  Nonetheless, it is clear that whatever purpose these artifacts served showed an amazing respect both positively and negatively for the dragon.  Their frescoes and facades litter the walls, and although only fragments remain, one can easily see that the reliefs show a grand battle where dragons of multiple chromatic hues fought dragons of metallic ones.  Dark and cruel looking demons clearly sided with these chromatic dragons, while the metallic reptiles stood guard over the various races of humanoids. one scene in particular shows what looks like members of elves, dwarves, humans and other half-men surrounding a tree under seige by a host of wicked and cruel dragons. However, the greatest and most magnificent portion of this room is not on a wall. Above, the chamber’s ceiling shows an immense and stunning view laid out in many panels.

Scene 1: Man and Gods. Man has walked away from the Gods. Gods are angry.

Scene 2: Gods are creating dragons. Dragons of metallic and chromatic colors are sent to destroy mankind. 

Scene 3: The Gods of Light, turn to Gods of Darkness in a pact.  Double Headed Demon with hyena heads, a large devil with horns, wielding a spiked mace/scepter.

Scene 4: Three women ride into battle against the Gods.  The Gods of light are struck down.  The Gods of Darkness make a pact with the Three.

Scene 5: The three, with help of the chromatic dragons attack  mankind. The metallic dragons side with humanity.

Scene 6:  The Heroes arise and defeat the Three.  Interestingly, instead of weapons, each bears a single lantern.  The last panel is unfinished…

See You on the Flip Side

Dodging a delayed blast fireball trap most likely left by the person known as Alorus, Bolvist leads the party to the third and final major floor of the castle.

The party searches high and low, and discovers this area again littered by more of the doubles skeletons, as well as gnoll bodies and their doubles.  And then, magnificently, they see a grand circular portal, etched with the concentric circle rings, before them.  Amazingly, the portal is OPEN! Taryn discerns that based on his calculations and knowledge of elvish history and craftsmanship that this castle was most likely built around this internal circular structure, and throughout the years various holders of it added on.  The last to be done was perhaps 200 years ago and is clearly of elvish design.  Taryn thinks this would have been about the time that a young Borindin was rising to power in Cellinor.

A large circular chamber lies before you. it’s rich stone and the excellent craftsmanship of the rock is remarkable. the rock is so well wrought it seems as though it isn’t hewn at all. in fact the rock the chamber is made of appears as if it was once liquid and has solidified into perfect symmetry. a large trackway lies above and below and an enormous circular portal appears to have been rolled along it. on the ceiling above the statue, the chilling image of the concentric circles. three rings one within the other etched into the stone in a perfect circle.  this one, however, is closed. in front of you, in the middle of the chamber is a colossal statue.  men and women surround a grand tree made of beautiful marble.  despite their many poses, and positions, each is looking in the direction of the entry, directly at you. as if this wasn’t eerie enough, many skeletons litter the floor around the room, as with other areas of the castle, the tell-tale signs of  battle is everywhere.

A faint cracking sound. Simultaneously, all of the mouths in the faces in the statue begin to open. Together, they speak in an eerie and monotone voice.

The Path of Light is lit for thee.

In every toll, there is  a fee.

If thou beist pure of heart,

Be sure to cleanse your evil part.

If thou be evil in your deed,

To smite the good is what you’ll need.

Appearing before the party, are the coalescing forms of their polar opposites! Each appears to be exactly like themselves, only their eyes glow with a green glow.  They bear the look of unfeeling golems as they take their positions for battle. None speak. And the party enters combat, against themselves!

The battle is going well, both sides using Melissande’s spells to traumatize and nauseate their opponents.  Lots of puke chunks! And then, Doromir finds himself in the line of fire!

Poor Doromir, suddenly, both his Evil side, and his Good side are struck down simultaneously by the party’s “twins”. Strange they think? Why would they strike down both?

Unfortunately, there is nothing anyone can do for poor Doromir.  His exploromiring days are over, as both of his bodies disappear!

In nearly the same instant, the party stand victorious over their slain doubles. They too vanish, as a voice reverberates from many voices around the chamber, “Welcome Heroes! The Path awaits you!”

The party feels lighter, and they are surprised.  The battle doesn’t seem to have altered their alignment, but rather each feels a warmer sense of self, sense of purpose.  There is a new sense of duty to each, not foreign, but new.

Crack!!

From above, the concentric circles begin to slide down forming three cylinders, one inside of the other.  In the narrowest, middle cylinder an opening, and in the opening what looks like a stairwell going up. This is clearly the first time, this portal has been opened…

 Hero’s Chamber

Ascending the stairs, you take in the stale air of a chamber which appears undisturbed for quite some time.  as you reach the landing, you realize you stand in another circular chamber. this one however contains a circular portal, closed in it’s southern wall. an image is etched into the stone of this portal of a tree. each branch bends low as hands reach up to the them.  in brilliant craftsmanship the branches seem to shine upon their outstretched hands.

four other statues stand around the room.  the first is that of a warrior with his hands outstretched, palms upward. the second is a woman, bearing a staff. Her finger points to a stone bowl at her feet.  the third is a hooded figure, his face is concealed by the stone carved robes he wears.  he points to the portal before you. finally, there is a fourth figure, his flowing hair lifelike almost, next to him cut from stone appears a table with amazing detail carved into the stone of various laboratory equipment. an area of the table approximately 2 feet wide is left bare.

Soon, the party has figured out that the four statues seem to somehow represent themselves! Each statue’s clue leads them to the understanding that they must each give something for the portal to open. Melissande relunctantly gives her blood into the vessel with Bolvist’s help. Taryn places his sword.  Bolvist inserts the cube and turns it, while all eyes turn towards Jasper.

“Scroll of reeds?” he whispers. “But my friends, I am not the wizard!”

“Do you not have something to which the verse refers, Jasper?”

“Well,” Jasper considers keeping things a secret, but he has decided that perhaps his destiny, his search for enlightenment does lie on the same path. “I have this!” He shows the party a scroll he took from the elders of his order. “I’ll tell you the story some other time, perhaps.”

Jasper places the scroll on the statue’s table.

Crack!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Twin Tower, and  The Path of Light

A dazzling and brilliant light emanates from within the circular portal. The glow is nearly more than you can bear and you look away.  You struggle to shield your eyes, and a lone silhouette begins to emerge. The figure is a spectacular statue, made entirely of metal.  A warrior in full regalia and armor with the image of the Tree of Awakening emblazoned on it’s chest, identical to the suit of armor showed to you once by Tiresias. It seems as though the strength of the light is diminishing for now you can see the figure clearly. It is so completely life like. Beyond it, there appears another circular chamber. In this one, on the floor gleams a disk similar to the one you saw in Fort Ogrehead, when you lost Bellock in Indi Ilium’s basement. This one however, glows far brighter, like a smaller version of the sun on the hottest day. You stare again at the statue before you.

It’s eyes begin to glow a deep penetrating green. For a moment, it looks as if it is attempting to move;  it bends forward on one knee and bows! And then, it speaks!!!

“Welcome my Lords of the Lightened Age. Long have I waited for you….”

Talos, the Ancient Guide

My name is Talos. Your guide, Noble Heroes. How fairs my Lord, Master Tiresias?”

Talos asks several questions of the party.

You do not seem to be as formidable as….as would be expected. In which lands of Gaia do your subjects live? Have many Kasillians survived the Darkening? In what year did the light return?”

The adventurers are surprised that this creature made of metal appears to have a wide range of emotions and concern.  He seems to feel a sense of sorrow at the loss of Tiresias, and is utterly worried about the time frame the party constructs for him.  Producing Icarus’ machine, they show Talos the contraption. He is even more concerned after seeing the time dials along it’s side.

“This is incorrect.” He tells you. “The device is meant to mimic the lighted sphere we live on. Gaia,” he points to the surface of the sphere, “and Erebus”, he points to the inner portions of the mechanism’s sphere.  “According to our best scholars of my age, the sphere will meander back and forth.  Perhaps once more, perhaps this is the last. Do you see? Gaia will grow dark at least once more, the Darkening will return, but this time, it looks like it will be too late.  And now that the portal is open, the Ark will not survive it again!!! Tiresias must have known this. And yet, here you are. But why?”

The more the party talks, the more devastated he seems to be, dropping to one knee, he asks, “Then, the Light returned, but they carried on, forgetting the Ark, forgetting to Awaken us! But why, why would Tiresias and the others not open the Path?????”

As if in answer to his query, he stands and whispers to himself…

“You do not bear the Lights of the Tree? No, good Masters, you do not!”

“Then, something has gone wrong with our plan….The Traitors must have sabotaged more than just a few of the harbors.  There must be a reason why Tiresias would not have trusted others to walk the path!”

The party asks several more questions of Talos.  Taryn shows him his sword. 

“Yes, noble Warrior. This sword is familiar to me, but it is not as I remember.  It is a Serpent’s Blade.  To fight the Darkened Wyrms, you….your namesake, The Warrior, once bore it in battle.”

“But, what is this? Perhaps, all is not lost!” Melissande shows Talos The Staff of Tiresias. “Oh, noble Lady! Oh Great Mother.  All is not lost yet!” Talos puts forth his arms in request of the staff. Melissande hands it to him.  As Talos turns it this way and that, tendrils of the wood begin to turn and twist on themselves. The shape of a lantern begins to appear. The staff has become a new artifact, and from it emits beautiful light.

“The Darkness comes for us all, my friends.  We now have but one choice. You must find the other lights, before the Lords of Darkness do. You must seek out the Lanthorns, and bear them on the path.”

After several more questions, Talos lets the party know of several details:

  1. The Ark is nothing less than the accumulated will, art and knowledge of the Gaians, the very polar opposite of Erebus’ wealth and being.
  2. This place they now stand is not like theirs. It is not a place in space or time as they know it. It was constructed as such.
  3. He cannot guide them as he was meant to now. Although he can tell them that each of the 12 waypoints are meant to test the Hero’s in some way, he cannot aid them in this resolve.  He also cannot tell them if the path no longer holds other secrets that the Three may have been involved in.
  4. Talos knows that the darkening comes again, but knows that fate is now tied to the Path. Once opened, the wisdom, the will, and the souls of an entire age and beyond is at stake. The Darkened Lords of Erebus will stop at nothing to gain access to it.
  5. The Ark does not exist on our “plane”. It is like the path, separated from space and time. Only successfully navigating the path will unlock it.
  6. The path, and Talos will await for them, until they are ready to walk it. They may walk a portion at a time, or they may walk the path all at once.  So long as they bear one of the lanthorns, they may walk a portion of the path, but until they find all of them, they will not be able to complete the journey.

Talos also tells you that Icarus’ calculations are incorrect. There should be about 12 years until the Darkness returns, but within 3-6 the world will begin to grow colder, day will end sooner, and crops will fail.

A View to the Kills

The party realizes that they must first clear the tower. Perhaps then, they can collect their thoughts and take in all there is to know. They collect their items from the hero chamber, bid Talos farewell for now and exit.  Behind them, the various portals close once more, they are happy to know that once past the tests, they will not have to complete them again. Returning to the southern tower, they climb the steps, noticing that with each step, the temperature drops…

A biting cold and bitter breeze blew through the open cracks and broken windows atop the landing. Coming to the top, you beheld a hideous sight. Put simply, around you are the remnants of what must have once been a dreadful torture chamber. A blood stained stone table equipped with chains rests in the middle.  Bones and other weathered debris lie strewn about in cluttered piles. There are several pieces of jewelry and coins scattered here and there as well as a few weapons, a helm and other items. The luster long gone, these objects have long been covered with years of tarnish and the film of moss and mildew. A single stone chair resembling a crudely fashioned throne rests against the far wall. To either side, a skeleton hangs manacled to iron rings in the wall. One of them wears a crown, the same crown depicted in the portrait found below, while the opposite skeleton still bears a bejeweled necklace. 

The party enters combat, despite attempting to communicate with the ghosts! (They can’t quite make a 32 DC!) Once they realize that both ghosts will be too much for them, Melisande begins to put together a story  from clues gathered, and she realizes that their only hope is to take one of them down, quick.  As Bolvist lays dying, or stands dying, the party puts an end to Moran’s suffering.

Moran’s ghost falls to the floor. In an instant, Aveldir stops her shriek.  Closing her mouth, she looks over at her partner’s body and floats to him.  Gently, she places his dying body in her arms. The once terrifying demeanor on her face, is now gone. Left is the beautiful elvish face of the portrait from below, the portrait of a noble lady.

“Moran!” she cries, “You have found peace at last. Peace, my love!” With these words, his head leans back and the spectre begins to dissipate. In but a moment, it is gone. Finally, she looks around and turns to you. “Long have we suffered here. Long have we watched others…suffer. I beg of you, end mine as well. If thou beist true of valor, end my pain!”

At her request, and with tears in their eyes, the party strikes her down. Her agony released is nearly tangible, something feels lighter here.  A great evil has been undone! But, Aveldir does not disappear as Moran had.  Her voice, this one sweet and melodious fills the walls, while her spectral figure, majestic and beautiful hovers over where she was slain.

“Noble Lords. I thank you! Before I rest, know this! The girl, Elora, lives still. Taken by our son, Alorus.  She loved him, and like us, she was betrayed.  Seek her, save her. Make right what we could not.”

With that, the apparition disappears. Within but a few minutes the chill is nearly gone, and looking around the party realizes they have found quite a bit of loot! Dagger of Venom +1,Robe of Shadows ,Ring of Water Walking   Ring Gates-Very powerful item, an arm, or voice, or item can be extended through, but not the entire body. However, items passed through and left in the next place find themselves back with the owner in but a few seconds.

And then Melissande begins to investigate the amulet around what was once the neck of Aveldir.  “Jasper, come look at this, it appears to be a mind reading device of some kind,” she says.

“Are you sure your skill to identify isn’t based on intelligence?” whispers Jasper, but nonetheless, Jasper, enamored with the necklace, places it on his head.  What he hears is silence, and  that is very different than what everyone else in the room hears!

What Everyone  Else Hears:

“Time Flies Like Arrow. Fruit Flies Like Bananas.”

And then another voice, unmistakably familiar….

“Finally! Someone can hear me! Where the hell am I? Bolvist? Mellisande? Taryn? Did I accidentally put myself to sleep again?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

To be continued….

The Order of the Enlightened Spirit

In the vast frozen lands in the southern hills and ranges that lie before the sky reaching Inpenetrable Mountains, to which only the Lords of Ket themselves are said to travel, lie several distant outposts.  Most of these are steeped in legend, and perhaps nearly all do not exist.  If they had begun, whose to say that they could escape the glowing eyes of the foul demons that lie in the Frozen and Darkened Lands of our world.  Whose to say that these outposts haven’t in fact joined forces with them? 

No group is perhaps more whispered about, then the Order of the Enlightened Spirit, despite the fact that little is known about them. 

It is said that it began with a few of the nobility of Cellione, disenfranchised with the luxury and wealth of the growing civility we know as Cellinor.  For once, the commonwealth was established decades ago, those that do not provide that which many need to live, often live lives longer and fairer than those that do.  Others rumor that there was a faction in the Order of Flame, that the Enlightened Spirit began as a protest to the strict doctrine that has become commonplace and perhaps necessary in a realm as vast and as new as Cellinor.

Regardless, the Order is said to be unreachable by foot or steed. High in the mountain passes and glaciers of our southern borders, well beyond the watchful eyes of the SHIELD patrols there, the Order of the Enlightened Spirit keeps their secrets to themselves, revealing them only to those brave enough to seek them.  Rumors abound that they guard a unique magic.  Others rumor that their powers  are only a ruse to keep would be enemies at bay.

Members of the order are said to be encountered only very infrequently. In fact, to date, only two encounters can be spoken of, and neither come from reliable sources. 

Encountering a Monk of the Enlightened Spirit may very well give a new definition to what A LIGHT in the Darkness of our world means….

 

Talos’ Vision…

You try to take in details other than the words but things are too blurry to do so.  you can see nothing. shadows of dull hues, blurred into nonsensical shapes. all you can discern is that you are in a vast and dimly lit chamber, and there is quite a bit of movement around you from persons or creatures unknown.  your perception begins to  narrow to what is directly in front of you.

you find yourself before several people or beings of some unknown race. at least one voice, familiar.  in the heat of battle, you have heard voices like these before.  they speak in agonized whispers, in a distressed monotone. they are the voices of the condemned.

“the light fades.”

another voice. “the hordes of erebus will be over the walls within the hour.  the lords of ket are upon us. we cannot wait any longer.  we must light the path, talos.”

“but my lord, the heroes have not returned.” 

“nor will they. their mission has failed.  our latest scouts have told of overwhelming odds.  the traitors have been defeated, but the heroes… have failed.” you hear several gasps as the tense voice speaks.

there is a pause, while something far away resonates like a  thunder clap.  a different voice now, “those harbors that have escaped the traitors should hold during the darkening as we have prepared. the others….will not make it.”

“the condemned slaves of ket” whispers the first voice. “an unfathomable treachery. the gods of light vanquished, while the lords of darkness given the world. what have we done?”  an uncomfortable silence follows.

“not us, my friend, the three did this.  we have been betrayed.”

“But what news from our lords, the four?”

“none. it can only be that they have perished, their lights are lost to us.  our latest intelligence tells us atropos and perhaps iggwilv or clothos as she is now known, have fallen.  news of the third, however, has alluded us.  the traitors’ plot deceived us all.  the ark will close for some, but it will not open now. closed to our enemy, and closed to us, tiresias! we are doomed. ”

“not doomed, there is but one hope, left. we can transcend their power. we can send it on the path.”

“the world will soon go dark, tiresias!  gaia will be taken and Erebus will have  it’s  way. there will be no way to bring our people back!”

there is a troubled silence, and then a rushed argument from many voices.

 “when the light returns, others will rise.  in this time, we will have a window  to find the keys the traitors took from us.  we can raise the heroes once more.  they will open the ark, for us.”

“and how will they know what they are to do? who will we trust to lead them. how can we trust after this day?

“Good talos. you must already know, who.” silence. “one must stay within the path to light the way.   one who is immune to time’s passage.  one who is immune to power,  to loneliness. ”

slowly, the voice answers…“I understand, my lord….   But who will..?”

“…and one must stay behind, remaining in the darkness until the light returns.  one who also can survive time’s passage in more than man’s years.”

“but My Lord! you will surely be hunted. they will find you!”

there is a pause, and a gruff voice speaks, “the dwarves can be trusted with this task. my guard and I can remain!”

“No, master dwarf.  worthy though you are! it is I who will not be going with you.  the others and I have decided to stay. it is as it should be. our kind is adverse to letting fate decide. time is not to us, what it is to man.”

“but how? how will you survive the darkening? what of…?”

“the tree, pelonius. the tree  is not yet gone entirely.  it will protect us. the path will need guardians to stay behind now after this  folly.  when the darkness fades away to light, i will search for what we need to open the path once more.  I will stay, as will abraxas, and the others. we are the only ones suited for the task.”

“but will abraxas keep his word? what of gulgol?”

 “trust a dragon?” a mighty laugh erupts, but it fades in equal measure. “Their only hope lies in the path now. it is their  salvation, as it is yours. they all know this.”

“But my lord, the lanthorns are lost. the keys have been taken! how will you find them?”

“I will bring those with me that are young.  with the last light of the tree, we will be as a light in the darkness .  they will learn our ways. heroes will rise once more. we will find what has been lost. 

“that will take decades, perhaps centuries!  even once the light returns… what if the darkness comes again before you do?”

“and what choice do we have, pelonius?  the lanthorns are but a vessel.  the keys are but a tool. those we bind will know what to do, because they will be who is needed.  it is why the path was made.”

several seconds pass. the voice of talos speaks, “then, this is goodbye, my lord.  goodbye for now.  i fear that I will never see you again.”

“no, good talos.  when next we meet, you will still be as you are. As will our people.  i will be that which time will make me.   I am a weapon talos, as are you.  and a weapon shall do  it’s work.”

“yes, my lord. I will guide our heroes when they have come.”

“then may the light guide you, and may the time pass swiftly until the light returns for us all.”

 

“Let the Ale Guide You!”                    Into the Wild, ACT 2,  Narrative Interlude

…During your evening in the castle, another group of your new community was sitting around the campfire keeping the mosquitos at bay.  If you had been there, this is what you would have heard….

“Smunch no like bugs. Bugs make Smunch blink. Blink make Smunch mad!”

“Oh, simmer down you overgrown talking boulder,” whispered Q curling deeper into his hooded coat, “these things couldn’t break your skin if they were four inches long.”

“Let’s be mindful of what we wish for, Master Q,” suggested Njord.  “Lest we forget this valley is still an unknown to us.  Until we establish our colony here and begin to produce food and provide for our safety, we should not tempt fate to bring us mosquitos of unusual size.”

“There is no fate, but what we make,” came a voice from next to him. It was the simpleton, the former Order of Silver, the cleric that Macavoy had recommended take his place.

“Spoken like a true Flamist,” said Q. “But, if the Flame’s doctrine must travel with us, then so must their ways. We’ll all be pulling our weight, not just sharing our willpower for the ‘betterment’ of this community. Those who can’t or won’t, need not apply.” He winked and kicked a small sleeping body next to him snoring loudly.

“Eh? I’ve told you those documents are in or….”, snorted Billingsweed and he fell back to sleep.  Many around the campfire laughed.  Despite the dreary conditions, the community was filled with excitement.  Each had hopes of a new life and riches too.

“Well, then you’d better all do something worthy of song.” Came Tuatha’s shrill voice from behind them, “And if you’re lucky enough, perhaps, I’ll immortalize this adventure.”

“For once someone around here is making sense!” shouts Gingrich from inside his makeshift tent.  Gingrich had insisted that several of his accompanying journeymen build this for him during the afternoon, and he had been refusing to come out until the “Twilight Force” (he always seem to say this with a sarcastic grin) cleared the castle.

“Speaking of safety Q,” began Bearclaw  ignoring Gingrich as usual.  He spoke in his scratchy orc accentuated common, “What did you think of our location for the town square? It’s got defensible space on the river side at least.”

“Yes, it does, but it will need some serious fortification to the north and south.  Rock reinforced with mortar.  Smunch and some machinery should be able to handle that.  We’ve located enough rubble and debris to mix with mortar. This side of the hills looks like a good place for limestone I should think.   Should be done in a week, I’d say with at least something that can stop an orc…”

“I resemble that remark, Q..”

“Yes, you do…” whispered a rather haughty voice from under piles and piles of blankets.  Tuatha had stepped back from the fire, complaining of smoke, but during the evening had come back and forth swatting at the mosquitos that found him whenever he did.

“Well, let’s make it happen, Captain Bearclaw, chimed in a rather positive Clyde, the once proprietor of the Buccaneer’s Bodice.  “We made a discovery ourselves yesterday, although you lot may not find it fascinating, I know our Lords will.  The grains growing wildly in this valley are interspersed with phenomenal elvish barley.  They are perfect for the brewing of fine ale!  Why, in just a month, I can have a batch ready that will rival any ale in Cillandar! We are all going to be rich, and supremely merry my friends!!”

“Speak for yourself, Master Alesman. I find it completely fascinating!” roared Njord. And all laughed again.

As the conversation wound down, several drew themselves up and said their “’Til Dawns”.  ‘Good Night’ was an unknown in Cellinor.  Once it was just the sounds of the flames licking over the piles of branches, the noises of the valley at night came back. “So, what do you think is out there?” said Melancholy with a shiver.

“Just about anything you can imagine, my dear”, said one of the rangers who had come with Taryn.  He was an elf named Laetis. “My people claim there are many monsters among the wilds, but there are also many unknown civilizations as well.”

“You mean others dwell in these forests?”

“Oh, yes. I’ve heard many rumors of whole elvish kingdoms hidden deep in these forests, some are ruled by others halfs as well, the halflings. Centaurs. Then there are the tree people, the pixies, the sprites, brownies.”

“Sprites!  Darkness take you Laetis, quit telling bedtime stories,” came one of the stone masons.  “Next you’re going to ask me to sit on your back and ask Ol Fafnir what I want for Riftenaught!”

“He speaks reasonably,” and this time all were surprised to hear Tuatha’s voice in agreement.  “There are many legends of these parts about the forest beings.  Although I enjoy them, they still do not captivate my audiences though like the lost colony.”

“The Lost Colony?” said Njord.

“Gentlemen, lady (nodding to Melancholy who had stayed up after all), you do not imagine we’re the first humans since the Great Simplification to venture into these wilds do you? Why even Borindin himself, along with Indi Ilium back there attempted a grand journey through these parts. Besides, didn’t you hear our Lords last night. This whole valley, this mighty Castle, was once a part of the elvish kingdom, Yoes’elhan.  Once rivaling Cellinor, it prospered for hundreds of years but fragmented after internal conflicts.  Now, we know of only one of their communities, the Blue Elves, and those who have joined the Celn Nation for generations.  Through their stories, we know there are others, but we do not know of where they are or what they do.”

“Why would they do that? Why not treat with us? Trade with us? They would prosper!”

“Perhaps, perhaps, THEY do not see it that way?” It was Laetis again. “My people have told stories and have many legends. The elves in the wilds do not wish to communicate with Cellinor.  They will not even take in their own kind now.”

“That’s ruthless,” said Melancholy.

“No, Melancholy, ruthless is Transcendence, ruthless is denying the right of those that Cellinor takes in to keep faith in their gods.”

“Blasphemy!” It was Erondin Frome  of the Silver Order.  “The worship of the Gods became the destruction of our world. Do not claim otherwise standing next to the ruins of it. The Flame is the only true Light in this forsaken land.  Without the Flame to guide us, Cellinor would not be, nor would you and I be anything but a simple peasant planting in between land wars of those claiming to have a ‘God’. How do you think you were cured after the battle of Haven, eh? How do you think the men rose against a greater force? A God? The Flame guides us all, gives us all, whether you want it to or not.”

“Maybe so,” whispered Q.  “But I’ll tell you one thing. Out here, out in the wilds, the Flame can only give us so much guidance.  Out here, best keep your wits about you.”

“And pray to the Flame that our Lords secure the valley soon.”

“Then our Ale can guide us!” laughed Njord.

“Then our ale can guide all of Cellinor!” laughed Clyde, and they all laughed with him…

Lords of the Northern Cairn

After establishing a settlement in the northern wilds, our heroes attempt to fulfill their destiny in a world of changes.

Session 8, Carr Alpha

The party returns from their night of terror in the top portions of the castle. Back in camp, they discover that Scruffy has not been acting like himself.  Suspicious, Bearclaw discovered that Scruffy was going through some changes on the full moon! It turns out, Scruffy is a wearat!

The Twilight force confronts Scruffy, and with Bolvist taking charge, they decide to watch him carefully, but keep him in their employ.  This puts them in disfavor with some of their subjects, but it’s a choice they can afford to make with their recent prestige.

Melissande realizes that there is one section of the castle still to be explored, and the party returns with some of their rangers and soldiers to clear out the debris.  Bolvist finds a trap door in the last explored tower, and an enormous mechanism opens to what the group believes may be hundreds of undead.  With no immediate threat to their holdings, they close and lock the door behind them. Finally, feeling good about their clearing of the Twin Towers, they exit out onto the front steps as Tuatha announces the Lords of the Northern Cairn have begun their reign! 

“My Lords, will thou choose the name of thy Province?”

In honor of their fallen comrade, Doromir, the party declares that the name of their new home will henceforth be known as “Carr Alpha!”

Positive Energy!

Now that the task of making safe the settlement’s keep is done, the party invites their subjects into the castle. Farmers and their wives, infants and children spread out and make their beds.  A sense of calm can finally be felt as Laetis, one of the elven rangers, makes a fire in the central grand chamber. Many sing  elvish songs, dwarvish songs, even Jeffer and Jill celebrate with some music of the smaller folk.

A Promise Kept

The party lays out a map with Q and determines the buildings that are to be constructed.  An alehouse, two breweries, defensible walls, and other projects will help the party maintain a safe place to manufacture an ale that will rival the best in Cillandar.

“And where shalt thou build our Theatre, my Lords?” mentions a smiling Tuatha Ulreicht, his mouth full of stew.

“Uh….oh uh….”, begins Bolvist glancing at the others.

“Man who asks tough questions, make answers tough.” Wafts the voice of Jasper….

“Well, it’s right here of course!” says Taryn. “See, Tuatha?”

Melissande points quickly to a place on their map where they had decided to build a warehouse. “Here is the theatre, Tuatha! You will not see it’s equal in the North!”

“That’s because it’s the only one in the North,” whispers Q to Bearclaw.

“Excellent, My Lords.  My first performance will feature a stunning portrayal of your victory at Haven!”

“Better to make play with others, than play with oneself.”

And thus the new citizens of Carr Alpha drift into a peaceful slumber, with more than one dreaming of the part they would play in Tuatha’s first performance.

 

The  First Decree

Later the next morning as the sun’s morning rays rose up the steps to the walls of Carr Alpha, the contingency of this new settlement knelt before the four Heroes of this new land.    Surrounding them were Gingrich, Bearclaw, Billingsweed, and others.

“Let it be known,” began Billingsweed in his high pitched voice he reserved for his most official of functions.  “that the Lords of the Northern Cairn, Carr Alpha, do hereby select their leadership on this 23rd day of March, in the year 218 of our great Lord’s reign,  King Borindin, of the Great Realm of Cellinor.”

In addition to the declaration of a Plaza of Heroes and the founding of the Temple of Light, the party chooses it’s leadership.

The Order of Flame ends the ceremony with a reading of the Liberation Scrolls. 

Border Patrol

As Clyde and the farmers begin the work of a first batch of brew, the party considers it’s many options as new leaders. First, they discuss the clues they’ve gathered about Alorus.  Whatever evil befell this castle when it was last occupied, seems to have moved on.  But what of the creatures shambling below the trap door? Best to leave it be for now.

Importantly, they also decide that walking the Path of Light is not part of their immediate journey.  Melissande is proud of her comrades. The new approach of the party, to let sleeping dogs lie, seems to be working well.

Taryn believes that soon they must gather information on their neighbors to the East, the Blue Elves. If only to establish a trade route, at some point the party must discover why their guard post and other public works have gone derelict.

In the end, the party realizes that securing the immediate borders of their valley from potential gnoll problems is for the best.  Their sponsor will arrive in months and will expect to see progress to justify investment.  Cillandar will soon require them to fulfill their noble duties there as well. So, with work begun on their new settlement, and Njord securing the masonry work in the castle, the party heads out with Tuatha in tow, atop a horse. Into the wild they go….

Broke Monk Mountain

At a rise ascending the hills on the northern side of the valley, Taryn stops the party.  “Ahead, the lake is visible. It’s beautiful! See beyond those trees?”

“Ay,” said Bolvist, “but look here.”

They all stop to find a muddy area where many tracks of the now recognizable gnolls seem to be going in many different directions.

“What are you doing now,  Taryn?” said Melissande.

“Gnolls leave traces other than prints,” said Taryn smelling a blade of grass. “As they are canine in nature, one can detect trace patterns of their behavior in their scat. It’s a measure of their fear.” He sniffs and looks puzzled. “These gnolls were anxious.  They were waiting here for a while, hiding from the direction of our new home.  Perhaps, they were waiting for the others to return. However, they were afraid. Why, I do not know yet.”

“When gnoll has bladder problem, urine trouble, ” Whispers the familiar voice on the wind.

“Thanks for the help Jasper,” remarks Bolvist.  “Well, let’s stick to the shadows and make our way to the lake.  Keep your eyes peeled and Master Ulreight, let’s keep ourselves right on top of that horse and as quiet as possible, please.”

“But of course, Master Orc!” Tuatha replies. He smiles and makes a Cillandrial bow while atop the saddle, however, in so doing he accidentally spurs the horse on.  It’s not until Taryn grabs the reigns and whispers soothing words that the horse slows and resumes a calm pace again.

The party gives each other looks. “I’m starting to have issue with our chronicler,” said Bolvist, passing Taryn and Jasper, who had each decided to walk alongside Tuatha’s horse for awhile.

“I once had issue with my beard, but then it grew on me.”

What IS THAT VOICE?” Tuatha yells, hands outstretched.

Further on, the party discovers a new staging area for the gnolls.  But this time, they discover tracks that look as though large scars have been made in the soil.  Cautious, they begin up the granite hillside. The sun directly overhead, the party ascends well into the hills, and makes their way to a saddle, where the lake comes into view. Beyond, where the two peaks meet, lies a magnificent view, past their valley, into the wilds beyond the borders of Cellinor.  Walking to it, guiding Tuatha and his horse, the wind picks up, and suddenly they hear a shriek on the breeze.  Louder and louder it grows, and then the beating of enormous wings!

“There!” yells Mellisande. “Over the ledge! They come!”

Two shapes rise above the edge of the far side of the saddle.  First one, then the other, their magnificent forms casting two serpentine darkened patches  against the brilliantly lit hillside beyond. With claws outstretched, two wyverns come bearing down for Tuatha, who sits atop his steed spellbound at what is transpiring. 

Before the party has time to react, one of them, legs outstretched, lands atop the horse, gripping it in it’s talons. With wings beating the dust in swirls around them, it extends it’s cavernous maw and roars, “LEAVE NOW,  MEN. OUR FOOD!!!! With eyes gleaming a bright green, it begins to carry the horse away, Tuatha caught in between!

Bolvist rushes out to pull Tuatha off the horse. However, he discovers too late that Tuatha has tied himself to the saddle quite tightly in order to keep the allusion of controlling the horse better than he actually can.

“Experience points!” cries Mellisande, rushing into battle. And the fight is on.

Melissande springs into action, the familiar bear form beginning to take shape, she lunges at the wyvern’s mate.  Bolvist too leaps into battle, drawing his falchion, he strikes a devastating blow. Taryn draws the Serpent’s Blade, and strike’s home! The wyvern looses it’s perch and begins to fall over, but with the horse still in it’s grip, Tuatha finds himself under the massive weight of both creatures.  With a look of fear, Tuatha attempts to draw a dagger in his belt, but lifts it up to discover it’s been broken in half.  With a look that can only be described as confused horror, he feints, his limp body resting alongside the horse about to be crushed by it’s sliding body.

“A broken sword is pointless!”  Jasper then lunges over bodies and steed, and lands atop the wyvern’s back as it was still gripping the horse!

“YOU DIE!” comes the wyrm’s inhuman voice. Immediately, the wyvern pulls away and leaps over the ledge flying away from the cliff. Down it plummets, but Taryn is able to hit it with a bolt before it gets too far.

With Jasper holding on, trying desperately to strike a death blow, the other wyvern escapes as well, yelling and shrieking for it’s mate. But before it goes, it grabs for Melissande yanking her along with it.  Down the two wyverns  fly, a rider atop one, and both with the bodies of Melissande and a horse in their grip.  The monk lands a stunning blow at last, and while Mellisande takes the form of a bird, it’s body falls to the ravine below with a crash!

But what became of Jasper?  Just as the monk landed his blow, he utilized his amazing talents to scramble along the wyvern’s spine, up and up he climbed until at the end of it’s hindlimb he lunged for the cliff face.  With a smack, he expertly gripped it’s outcropped rocky side, stopping his slide.

Mellissande flew off to join the others, but Jasper was not alone.  With the dwindling rays of sunshine shining upon him from above, he pulled himself up, one handhold and ledge at a time.  A shadow cast itself across him. It was the form of the dead wyvern’s mate.  Seriously hurt himself, he seemed to reconsider a desperate attack. 

“I….WILL…..FIND….YOU…..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” And the creature flew off, higher into the clouds that covered the upper reaches of the mountains beyond.

Meanwhile, atop the ledge where the wyverns first attacked, the Twilight Force was awakening Tuatha with a salt stick.

“Eh??? I told you Gingrich, I don’t swing that wa…..where, where am I?”

“Calm, Master Bard,” soothed Melissande, “You’ve survived a terrible ordeal.”

“Yes,” said Taryn, trying not to smile and winking at Bolvist, “You nearly died.”

“Twice,” piped Bolvist without breaking a smile.

“Uh yeah, twice!” began Taryn, again. “Luckily, for you though, we were here this time.” Taryn winked at Bolvist as he brushed some dirt off his leather armor.

“MY LORDS! MY NOBLE GRACES!!! Why, until this day, I have heard of your deeds, but now.  As a recipient of your gracious protection, MY LORDS! I will sing of this day for the grandest in Cillandar!” Tuatha bowed.

“What do we do?” muttered Bolvist to Taryn. But Melissande was already kicking the backs of their heels with her foot.

“Bow, stupid!” She whispered, taking a stab at a poor ceremonious bow, in the Cillandrial fashion of course. Bolivst and Taryn attempted the same.

“But what of our Noble Monk, Master Jasper?” cried Tuatha, looking around. “Certainly, he survived the battle too!” He spun in circles and eventually, turned and stared into the faces of the heroes, seeking an answer.

Behind Tuatha, at that moment, Jasper breached the ledge, and hoisting himself up came and stood just behind the bard.

“I’m afraid he did not make it,” replied Bolvist keeping eye contact away from Jasper and doing his best not to laugh.  “His last words, were “Tell the Bard, …

“Did you hear the one about the Monk who had his left side bitten by a wyvern?  He’s alright now.”

 

Twas the Night Before Rift’enaught

Sung in the Cillandrial Fashion by Tuatha Ulreicht,

‘Twas the night before Riften, when all through the realm

Not a thought was a stirring, except  from Jasper’s helm.

The wood planks were nailing, the rafters hung with care

In hopes that beneath them, ale soon would be  there;

While Gingrich lay sleeping all snug in his bed;

The Heroes dreamed of the monsters that were dead;

But mamma Melissande sadly didn’t have any of these,

So she wrestled us up, said “Let’s get some experience points, please!”

 

When up on the hillside there arose such a clatter,

I sprang into battle to see what was the matter!

With my blade drawn, atop steed, I flew like a flash,

Tore into the fray and threw steel from it’s stash.

The sun on the backs of the wickedly beasts ,

Their teeth looked like daggers, seeking a feast,

 

When what to my wondering eyes did appear,

But a bare footed monk, jumping up on it’s rear!

He was a little old driver so lively and quick,

His robes caught the wind, and we saw Jasper’s dick!

 

More rapid than eagles, another wyrm  came,

Thus my Lords shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Bastard,  Now Demon,  Now Scaly Backed Snake!

Let go of  the Great Bard, the horse you may take!

To the top of the ledge! To the top of the cliff!

Now fly away! Fly away! Fly away all!”

As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the clouds, the coursers they flew

With their talons full of Melissande, and Jasper there too—

And then, in a twinkling, I heard through the mist

The strikes thrown by Jasper, as he used Stunning Fist!!

 

As I drew forth my blade, and was turning around,

Down the cliff face the serpents did twirl with a bound.

Garnished with scales, from their head to their tail,

They dripped red from the blood which blew back in the gale;

From the wounds that Lord Bolvist had struck from below,

They did dash away, dash away, with the monk still in tow.

His eyes—how they twinkled!  His dimples, how merry!

His robes blowing open, his chest was too hairy!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard on his chin with the wind seemed to go;

 

As Taryn did aim, he did mumble through teeth,

“Why doesn’t that damn monk wear more than robes underneath!”

He took out a bolt and aimed at the wyrm’s belly

Just missing Melissande, who thought she saw jelly.

But no, it was blood, from the bolt of the elf,

And he probably thought, “Well, she’d shoot me herself!”

 

Then the monk gave a wink and a twist of his head

With a last blow, I knew, the wyvern was dead;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work

And jumped from the creature; as it’s mate went berzerk.

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

He did pull up his robes, so his junk wasn’t exposed.

He sprang up the hillside, to his team gave a whistle,

Down flew the druid on the wind like a thistle.

.

And no words were exclaimed, but somehow we did hear—

“Happy Riftenaucht to All, Did we bring any beer?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s