Before the Great Swamp there lied the Strange Weird

Before the Great Swamp there lied the Strange Weird

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  1. TerraDave
    TerraDave
    The Melkar prize is won, you are sort of immortalized and Rake rewards you all by not claiming 25% of the treasure and helping cover your costs of living. He also offers membership in the Order.

    From a hand-scribed brochure that the “gnome” Mr. G keeps a copy of:

    Quote Originally Posted by brochure
    Based at the Citadel, the Calborian Order embraces Chaos and those bettering aspects of war, wandering, wealth, luck, music, dancing, and daring.  Individuals should have personal freedom, the opportunity to advance with due reward, and recognition for achievements/glories/riches/ won.  When the brothers of the Order go out on missions or after they graduate, they are expected to give the Citadel a tithing and can keep the rest.
    It is unclear if anyone accepts the invitation. You spend your time Northall or the Citadel. Three months pass. All of you, but Jin, has 1000 gp.

    End of Tamoachan
    Downtime



    The Ninth month of the year 565 of the Current Age ends with the Great Dwarven Beer Festival.

    Muk spends his time making his muscles huge and modifying his armor so it still fits. Mozok embraces quiet contemplation, apparently.

    When you see Curt, he seems to be practicing his hand-writing. Or focusing on one of his items from the Shrine. Where did Curt go, and that 5’ dwarf come from? Speaking of which, Curt tries to get Emrick to share a copy of one of his rituals.

    And Curt is not the only one who needs Emrick to share. Jin spends weeks and weeks ignoring his obligations to the Order trying to work a deal where he can get a shield that can let him get the drop on Curt, or any threat. He then spends a few weeks making some magic armor as part of the deal. It takes an unusual amount of discipline for the Chaos priest, and it is his luck that allows the ordeal to end before he snaps completely. But to make the armor he also needs Emrick to share.

    Thanks to Jin, Emrick looks for books that are probably not actually in the Citadel. He makes inquiries about Gafalax the Green through various channels. He finds a chest—the Melkar prize chest—and thinks to himself, there is something about this chest.

    Eventually a letter is delivered via Alston (the lawyer) to Emrick.

    Spoiler:
    Dear Emrick

    I was quite relieved to see that you survived your journey to the Citadel and that distant pyramid. Though I suspect I was not the only one watching you. Simón remains a threat, but his brother’s return and the foiling of his recent plans constrains his actions.

    In what seems like another life, a few centuries back I did meet Melkar. Powerful, but without quite the style or sadism of the Ambers. Though he is the one that became the incarnate. He was known to occasionally do the right thing, albeit with limited enthusiasm.

    I know not what to make of this “Order” and the warlock and former spy who founded it. Beyond its self-promoting founder, its seems to consist of a “gnome” that is not a gnome, an actual gnome, and a shape-changer with some psychic abilities. In addition to a former pirate with which I think you are well acquainted.

    For the time being, I am sure that interesting opportunities will continue to come your way. You must continue to be vigilant wherever you are. Worry not about me, I will contact you when the time is right.

    -Gafalax

    ….

    Mr. G bugs Rake a few times about the dwarf “that shorter warrior want reading stuff, he learn stuff and do magic with it”. Not that he would normally care, but there is something that might be worth going through, and Rake doesn’t have the time. Not with expanding the order and trying to figure out what happened to Simón. What was it again? And what has happened to Jin?

    Larissa, who got her commission and then immediately set out to gamble and deceive (only deserving targets) her way around the continent, suddenly puts a message in Rake’s head.

    Spoiler:
    “Three big items stolen from three separate locations. Artifact grade weapons rumored. Can’t be you? Will follow up. You better tell me if it is you.”


    Rake has no idea what this is about.



    Shortly thereafter he receives a letter, delivered via Alston, his lawyer.

    Dear Rake

    Congratulations on your recent prize, I know it was long in the making. I still remember clearly when the four of you (or five including Goober) freed me from my prison in that terrible Castle, then almost got me killed several times over the next few days. It was quite an adventure.

    As you are probably aware, three powerful weapons have been stolen from three distinct and secure locations, one of which was in Faenne. In fact, I have been contacted by a charming associate of yours on the matter, quite out of the blue. But what makes this most interesting is that my own diviners say that

    “one who brought you from other worlds and those that helped him finally claim a long-sought bounty hold the key to whence find these three weirds”.

    I arrive in Northall in a few days. I may sail right past your secret castle on the way, but tis a secret tisn’t?

    I look forward to our reunion and meeting your other charming associates. While it may go without saying, the items are quite valuable and there is a unique opportunity here. If my guess is correct, you may wish to have said associates prepare for a long over-land trip.

    Sincerely

    Keera,

    Chieftess, Clann Kildarin, Second of the Four Queens, Lady of Carikk, etc. etc.


    Alston and Mr. G may very well mention the letter, and the latter may note that he is mentioned in it (albeit not the name used) and share other details.

    Again, Rake is not really sure what this is about.
  2. TerraDave
    TerraDave
    One joins the Order! It is Curt...Rake has a famous bias against halflings, but he seems pleased that another Warlock has joined. As Curt has time to spend around the Citadel, he has a chance to get to know the quick witted, if somewhat mercurial and abrasive, spell-sword better. He likes telling the story about the pirates and commanding multiple ships. And about his travel across worlds, which involves a big colossus among other things, and how he was betrayed by that other halfling...
  3. Jin Abackis
    Besides Jin, Curt did seem the most astute of the group. To Curt: I’m sure that after years in the Order, you will agree – there is nothing to regret and little to correct.

    Rake likely provides some insights regarding the Order to Curt (and maybe the location of the secret library):
    1st Precept
    What those who hold high places dream is order, the cunning know is merely the prevailing form of chaos.
  4. TerraDave
    TerraDave
    At some point, Emrick gets access to the notes in Rake’s prize chest. Mostly the arrogant observations of Melkar, plus some encrypted ones Emrick hasn’t figured out yet. But there are intriguing parchments.

    Rake finely meets Keera and Mr G passes on some key information provided by the Queen. Three items have been stolen, and the one clue is a poem:



    From it they surmise that the feather reference is to a “white plume”, and conviently, Emrick ahd found a map to such a place in the prize chest, and even more conveniently, when Muk sees the map, he actually knows where it is in the Blight. Not far from his homeland of shamanistic orcs. They also learn that the K is the sign of “Keraptis”, and Emrick reads them the legend of this strange and ancient wizard, also found in the chest.

    Clearly, Keera’s diviners where right, this group may be able to find the three stolen weapons. There is just the details of the reward, which Rake has negotiated. They get to keep all the treasure, except the three weapons…Anyways, they are graced with Keera’s company, and she explains that no one (else) seems to know where the weapons are, though hunters have scattered across the land looking for them. She also explains how one was stolen from Northall, one from Watercross (home of the famous university) and one from her land of Faenne.

    She returns to clarify, and they all have to stand again…that she speaks for the Lord Mayor, the High Chancellor, and the King of Riftsedge, as well as for Faenne. Jin gets all snippy about the terms, and she refers him back to Rake, who later yells at him. She leaves, but the issue may not be completely resolved. Before she leaves, she has a wizened man and woman take a good look at the party.

    Rake does break down and give them a few hundred gold for supplies. They stock up! Horses, and a riding pony and dog, mules, rations, and more. Eventually they set out, heading for the Blight.


  5. TerraDave
    TerraDave
    After days of travel in the Nearblight, they come upon a camped caravan. Whose members are being attacked by trolls! As most of the party wonders what to do, Mozok charges in! He is followed by a Muk hasted into a chopping machine by Emrick, a flying Curt, and a lighting bolt hurling Jin. Mozok is surprised by the trolls regeneration, and almost felled by their many attacks. But fire is found, and the trolls defeated soon enough.



    With this they make a heroic return to the Keep. Still remembered for their past warning about the kobolds, a feast is held in their honor. Various people ask them questions about their exploits, including a man with a pipe.

    They head into the Blight. Somehow they realized they were being followed (natural 20). Then somehow Curt followed them while flying. Then Curt somehow noticed the fortress of the hobgoblin slavers. Then somehow the slavers found them (again) and attack.



    Fighting in some ruins of ancient origin, Muk bears much of the initial attack as the 8 hobgoblins riding dire wolves sweep in. Muk, a guiding bolt from Jin, and a blessing from Mozok finish off the hobgoblin captain. Emrick puts more to sleep. Survivors flee. One is interrogated and sent back with the captain’s head.

    This does not deter a second wave, which also includes hobgoblin captains riding sabre tooth tigers. As the dire wolves come for Jin, he counters with a maximum sonic blast. Curt battles one of the captains from his riding dog, and then almost drops Mozok for good measure. This battle turns out much like the first one. Then the third wave arrives. Led by the hobgoblin warlord in his direwolf drawn chariot. The hobgoblin leader salutes them, saying he knows who they are, and promises them safe passage near his fortress.

    They continue through the Blight. A few days later, approaching a shadowy forest, a distant figure beckons them. Facing highlands on one side and wastes on the other, they have few choices. The shadows of the forest distort what they see and induce confusion. Then the displacer beasts start to attack. The strange shifting tentacle cats catch a confused Mozok, and it takes several blasts from both the magic missile and lightning bolt wands, plus some hypnosis from Curt and the slashing of the two warriors to drive them off. Not kill them, most survive, but the party gains a reprieve.

    They realize they are close to the day called The Crossing, when the barrier between the world of the mortal living and the shadowy places beyond gets thinner. Muk absolutely says he is not scared, as he starts yelling about the need to retreat. Eventually they decide to tie themselves together, light lanterns, and advance further into the warped forest.

  6. Jin Abackis
    12 initiative for Jin.
  7. joeg625
    5 for initiative
  8. TerraDave
    TerraDave
    You continue into the shadowy forest...

    As Jin took the lead to move on, the marching order is:

    Jin
    Mozok
    Mozok
    Emrick
    Curt
    Muk,

    You have light sources lit and are tied together (with 20 feet of rope between). The strange affect of this place is getting stronger.

    Suddenly, huge, strange, spiders emerge and attack! Everyone but Jin is surprised. Then, they vanish!

    -Mozok and Jin's horse hit once (7 dmg each, 1 con save each), Emrick is hit twice (14 dmg, 2 con saves with advantage).

    Jin can go!. You need to make a wisdom save and a save for the horse. If it makes the save, then animal handling check or just get off the horse.

    (On the map, you don't see the spiders, that is were they vanished. Grey terrain is difficult, only path is normal.)

  9. joeg625
    Emrick feels kind of woozy from the first bite, unless the righteousness of his Paladin companion somehow helps him. (rolled a 12 for the 1st bite while burning a luck die, and a 19 on the 2nd)
  10. Jin Abackis
    20 Wis save for Jin.

    14 Con save for riding horse (assuming +2 from being next to Mozok and + 1 Con from the standard stats for a riding horse).

    If the horse is still alive, Jin dismounts and slaps its rump to move it away from danger if possible. Jin moves south a little staying next to Mozok. Jin casts Spirit Guardians (3d8 damage, half on Wis save, if any spider starts its turn or moves within 15 feet of Jin, if the spiders reappear in the same spots this should get 3 of them).
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