The Tale Thus Far...
It all began on a blustery spring morning in ER 2994. Kyndalyn the Younger, accompanied by Rowan and two militia members, interrupted Rosë, Marcus Tiro, Lew and Garrick at breakfast. Gnolls had been spotted and their help was needed. Less than an hour and a very difficult battle later, one of the militia members lay dead and several of the party members were near death. The gnolls were defeated, but the cost was steep. They found a crude map on one of the gnolls, indicating several possible campsites around Glynden, but did not have a chance to follow up on the lead.
Recovering from their wounds, the party learned that two local children, Wynda and Meikos, had gone missing in the abandoned mines northwest of town. They decided to go after the children instead of tracking down the gnolls. They found evidence of the missing children in the 2nd mine trace. Entering the mine, they discovered undead miners and huge spiders, which they handily defeated. They continued on, but disaster soon struck!
While trying to cross a yawning pit, several of the party members fell into the hole and giant rats attacked soon after. When the blood and dust cleared, Marcus Tiro and Garrick, childhood friends, lay dead. The rest of the party, weakened by wounds and inflicted with rat fever, spent a miserable night in the infirmary while the rest of the town toasted the success of the Swords of Glynden
, an adventuring group made up of several well-to-do townsfolk and their retainers. The Swords
had tracked down a large band of gnolls and destroyed them.
The following day, Garrick and Marcus Tiro were laid to rest. One, Quintus Scipio, whose cousins had gone missing in the mine, interrupted the ceremony. He and his brother, Sextus, demanded the remaining party members assist them in recovering the children. Although irritated by his abrupt manner – Lew, Rowan and Rosë agreed. Returning to the abandoned mine, they searched high and low, finally discovering a hidden portal, which led to an abandoned complex deep within the mine. Skeletal archers, more undead miners and a stuttering human necromancer soon assaulted them. After a hard fight, they emerged victorious and discovered a nefarious laboratory, with all manner of alchemical substances, vials and equipment. They also discovered large amounts of food, water and mining equipment.
Stripping the dead necromancer and taking along a large chest, the party retreated from the mine. Rowan and Quintus stayed to keep watch on the mine, while the remainder hustled back to Glynden to refit and gather additional supplies. They arrived back in Glynden, only to find a major barbarian incursion was in the offing. After a hasty conference with Father Thomas – Lew, Sextus and Rosë returned, joined up with Quintus and Rowan and ventured back into the mine.
Rowan discovered the unholy power of a shrine dedicated to evil (to his dismay) and they finally found the children. They hustled the kids back to town, where they discussed the shrine with Father Thomas. He told them it was a shrine to the Cult of Ashai
– an ancient assassin’s cult – and advised caution. They returned to the mine, mindful of the need to get back to Glynden before the arrival of the barbarians. They discovered some notes, a map and a journal kept by someone known only as “R”. They also discovered over 150 solidii worth of treasure (a veritable fortune)! Continuing on, they encountered a pit trap and some additional zombies. The ensuing combat left Rowan on the brink of death and Rosë badly wounded. Discretion being the better part of valor, they limped back to Glynden.
Barbarian warbands milled about town for a while, looking for something or someone then faded into the woodwork. The party prevailed on Father Thomas to accompany them to the ruined shrine. They arrived to find the laboratory cleaned up and cleaned out. When they attempted to enter the shrine room, a large band of undead attacked them, led by the rotting corpse of Luc the Necromancer. A very tough battle ensued and the party was victorious, thanks in large part to the help of Father Thomas. Exploring further, they found another secret door, which lead to a long underground passage that seemed to be the result of a long-dry underground river. They followed the passage for an hour before turning back.
After seeing Father Thomas safely back to Glynden, they decided to follow-up on some clues in the journal and explore the 5th and 6th mine traces, where a band of miners from the Monrovian Highlands were said to be working. Part way there, they ran into a barbarian warband led by Kothric, the son of a chieftain who was betrothed to Asralla (Rosë’s former lover). A running battle ensued and the party managed to capture Kothric with minimum damage (due in large part to Quintus’ Sleep
spells). Following the battle, they learned much of Rosë’s amazing past. They returned the barbarian warrior to Glynden, then were tasked by the Council of Elders with transporting Kothric halfway to the Western Wilds and releasing him. They started to notice that one or two large ravens seemed to be shadowing their moves.
During the journey, Sextus and Quintus earned the barbarian warrior’s trust and he told them that the warbands were searching for a totem known as the Artosiak
. As they released him, the poisoned arrow of an unknown assassin struck Kothric down. They attempted to heal him, but were forced to leave by the arrival of dozens of bloodthirsty tribesman. An epic chase began, with the party fleeing and the tribesmen hot on their trail. They took refuge an abandoned legion hill fort and slowly retreated as the barbarian warriors hacked at them. Rowan and Rosë discovered Asralla, Rosë’s one-time lover, hiding in the ruins and hauled her along in the retreat.
Just as the party was brought to bay, Asralla called upon the power of the Artosiak
to transform into a great dire bear. The barbarian’s shaman responded by calling on a spirit bear. The two massive creatures raged against each other while the party and tribesmen hacked at each other. After a brutal fight, which left almost two-score tribesmen dead, the remainder of the barbarians fled and Asralla slumped to the ground, dying. With her last breath, she bade Rosë to care for their infant son!
Scarcely believing they were alive and badly wounded, the party found a hiding spot under a small church to Osirian within the ruins. Quintus, with the Artosiak
faced down a large band of barbarians, trying to convince them that an unknown assassin had brought Kothric low and they meant the barbarians know harm. Just when it looked as though Quintus would be slain, Kothric revealed himself and the sorcerer was saved! The barbarians took their totem and retreated. The party, after poking about the hillfort for a short time and discovering an ancient burial crypt, hastened back to Glynden. They arrived to discover Quintus and Sextus’ father in a coma, that Sabrina Scipio had run off with Orsen Jucadius and that Quintus’ one-time lover Abrigal had disappeared!
They decided to resume their exploration of the 5th and 6th mining traces and discovered an abandoned mining camp just outside the 5th mineshaft. Exploring the shaft, they found lots of abandoned mining equipment, but no miners. They also discovered that someone or something was following them around the mine, setting traps. Exploring further, they ran into a group of small reptilian creatures that used magic and shot lots of crossbow bolts. Rowan remembered them as kobolds. After a hard battle, they defeated some kobolds, but found the mine to be riddled with small tunnels – too small for them to clamber about. They had captured one kobold and decided to take him to Glynden for questioning. During the return journey, a large raven swooped down and attacked the kobold, delivering a fatal shock to the poor creature!
Everyone fired at the bird, which managed to escape, despite several hits. They spent several days refitting in town, during which time they discovered that Quintus’ father had been poisoned. Quintus accused Josephus of Bremerton of using the herbal painkiller Krithroot to poison his father. During the “trial” that followed, Josephus as acquitted, although Quintus still had grave doubts about the woodsman.
The party decided to travel to Oar in order to:
- Find out more about the Cult of Ashai from the library in the Cathedral of Oar
- Try to reconcile Lew with is brother Marcus
- Warn the trading caravans coming from Oar about possible bandit attacks, since the caravans are the lifeblood of Glynden
The journey towards Oar proved both dangerous and heartbreaking.
Several days out of Glynden, the discovered a wrecked carraige belonging to the Cassuvius Family and several dead retainers near a beautiful picnic spot. Rowan determined that Gnoll bandits were responsible for the attack and the party trailed the bandits to their hideout...a crude cabin and barn in the midst of a ruined villa. A quick recon revealed at least half-a-dozen gnolls plus at least one human.
The party put together a hasty plan of attack and assaulted the compound. From the beginning, things went badly, and then got worse! Most of the bandits resisted Quintus' sleep magics and quickly counter-attacked. Rosë soon fell the to combined attacks of a pair of human rogues and most of the others were badly wounded. They soon heard cries for help from several women.
The gnoll leader, a huge brute dubbed "Scarnose", threatened to kill the captive women if the party didn't back away. Sextus tried desperately to save them, but the viscious gnoll cut the throats of Calian Cassuvius' three daughters before his horrified eyes!
Quintus fell shortly thereafter and the party retreated into the woods. Lew and Rosë in one direction - Rowan, Sextus and Quintus in another. All were badly wounded and it looked like the end was near!
Fortunately, the bandits decided to take their loot and flee, concerned about facing more searchers and/or rescuers. They took the goods they could easily carried and fired the rest. A heavy rainstorm prevented the fire from spreading into the woods and gave enough cover to the party to escape detection. Rowan, returning to the scene of their defeat, found one of the girls, Drusilla Cassuvius, barely alive with a terrible throat wound.
Lew was able to save the girls' life, but the wound was beyond his power to heal completely and she remains mute. The aftermath of the battle saw fierce debate on whether the party should turn back or continue. Drusilla made it clear that she did not want to return to Glynden, but was evasive about her reasons. In the end, they decided to continue on, after resting and healing.
Several party members returned to the site of the carraige wreck to bury the dead there and ran into an irrascable old trader, Lathan, and his overloaded mule Bogwell. They invited the strange old man to share their camp, swapped stories with him and traded coin for some the mountain of goods he had strapped to Bogwells' back. He drove a hard bargain for some items and let others go for a fraction of their worth. He cooked the group breakfast the next day and departed towards Glynden, carrying letters for Kyndalyn and Father Thomas.
All agreed that he was more than he appeared to be - a feeling confirmed by the fact that most of the items he had either sold them or handled the night before now bore faint magical auras, including: Crossbow bolts for Quintus and Sextus, handaxe for Rosë, a satchel of writing utensils for Quintus, Rowan's battered short sword, a large frying pan and a comb for Drusilla.
Shaking their heads, the party continued south.
After several days, they came upon the dead bodies of several retainers of the Swords of Glynden
. The tracks Rowan read pointed to an ambush by gnolls. The gnolls had won and continued south. They buried the retainers and continued. A day later, sharp eyes of several party members prevented them from walking into their own ambush!
Four gnolls engaged the party from either flank, but without the element of suprise, the party emerged victorious with only a few scratches. They barely had time to savor their victory, however, since several of the gnolls had broken contact and fled towards the ruins of Greenspire. Soon, horn calls and gnoll howls echoed across the hills and a huge gnoll warband (about 40) began pursuing the party!
The chase was on, but the gnolls soon ran the party to ground. Selecting the best defensive ground they could and making a quick plan, the heroes turned to fight. Osirian
smiled upon them - for a combination of good magic use and good luck soon eliminated about 1/4 of the gnolls. Then "Scarnose" made an appearence and rallied his troops, forming a dozen into a wedge to charge the party and demolish them!
A critical hit by Quintus with an ensorcelled crossbow bolt and a well-timed Hold Person
spell by Lew on "Scarnose" broke the gnoll's spirit and the remainder of the warband broke and ran. Howling in triumph, Rosë leapt forward and hewed the head from "Scarnose". To his amazement, the head shimmered and changed into the bloody visage of a young, dark-haired human male. Quintus and Sextus noted a momentary look of shocked recognition on Drusilla's face.
Gathering what equipment they could, they beat a hasty retreat before the gnolls could regroup. Before they departed, however, Rosë grasped a dull black stone dagger pendant from the ruin of "Scarnose's" body and a shimmering portal opened in the air over his head! Rowan, thinking quickly, slapped the necklace from his hand and the portal soon dissapated. They took both the head and pendant with them.
As they traveled, virtually everyone felt that they were being watched. Quintus was afraid the necklace was the source of their unease, so they stashed it and then made camp some distance away.
After dinner that night, Quintus and Sextus questioned Drusilla about the dead human. Reluctantly, she told them that it was her stepbrother, Acrius' head and that discovery confirmed her fears about her stepmother's involvement in her abduction and her sisters' murders! Most of the party slept very poorly that night, haunted by dreams of a dark portal and dull stone dagger aimed at their hearts!
After a hard days' march, they succeeded in finding the caravan, which had encamped in the ruins of Greenspire. Among the loot they had taken from the body of "Scarnose"/Acrius was a missive from "R" to Skilorn, the bandit chieftain, imploring him to leave the caravan alone on the northern journey. Apparently the message had been delivered, since the caravan had arrived unmolested to that point.
Drusilla refused to enter the caravan encampment, since her erstwhile fiance, Tomas "The Bull" Nacalius and the other Swords of Glynden
were traveling with the caravan.
Lew and Quintus found a church knight, Pantonius of Tyrial
, and persuaded him to carry several messages to Father Thomas in Glynden. Rosë and Rowan took all of the gear they had acquired through several victories over the gnolls and tried to sell it to a halfling trader from House Schulcross. The trader drove a hard bargain and Rowan ended up trading everything for a Sythian horsebow and 50 arrows!
Quintus ran into an old friend, Tomas "The Bull" Nacalius and exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes. Following that encounter, angry and irritated, he drug Lew to seek out a halfling merchant that traded in ores. He discussed the possibilities of forming a trade alliance with Ollandia of House Battenhorn, but received no firm commitmets. He did get Ollandia Battenhorn to agree to meet with his sister, Luella, once the caravan reached Glynden. Returning to the rest of the group, Quintus was highly skeptical of Rowan's trading prowess (or lack thereof).
Continuing on their journey to Oar, the party spent almost 2 weeks traveling down the old legion road through abandoned countryside. They took a short pause while Quintus concentrated on a growing feeling of power and found himself able to call forth a new spell, Alter Self
. The magic proved valuable, since they soon found themselves being shadowed by a band of gnolls with huge hunting wolves. Neither side attacked, however, and once the party, ever alert for an ambush, passed over a large stone bridge in the midst of a ruined village, they saw no more of the gnolls.
Finally, they reached the edge of civilization in the form of the Two-Headed Stag Inn and Wayhouse
, a small fortified inn run by a father and daughter. They slept in beds for the first time in weeks and Sextus challenged the resident saar
bard, Brigit, to a bard's duel. Attempting to defray their expenses, Quintus bet on his brother. It was a close affair, but Brigit proved victorious, much to Quintus' dismay! Brigit ate breakfast with them the next morning and gave them some pointers on dealing with Oar's volatile political scene.
They set off again on the morning of Midsummer's Eve - a holiday - and several felt homesick about missing the celebration they knew would be taking place in Glynden that night. The weather was warm and rainy and the group soon came upon a young farmer with a broken down wagon. After overcoming initial suspicions, they helped the farmer, Kordas, fix his rig and they agreed to travel together the rest of the way to Oar. The young man talked their ears off, especially after Lew straightened his wrenched back. He began calling the young priest the "Miracle Worker", much to Lew's chagrin!
They finally arrived in Oar and, after finding lodging to be much to pricey for their depleted purses, sought sanctuary in the Cathedral of Oar. They discovered that the Bishop, Attelus, was ill with a strange malady and that Brother Patroclian, who was known to Lew, had been installed as Abbot. Over a delicious dinner, they met the others of the Cathedral heirarchy, including Sergeant-Brother Fortian, the younger brother of Pantonius of Tyrial
. They discovered that Marcus, Lew's brother, had been sent to the Jewel City of Beryl by the Abbot to seek help for the Bishop.
Early the next morning, a breathless young acolyte - Viato - burst into the guesthouse they were staying in and told Lew that he must come to the Cathedral Foyer. Lew followed Viato and found a large crowd of crippled and disease-afflicted wrethces calling pitifully for "Brother Lew the Miracle Worker"! It seemed that Kordas the Farmer had been busy telling all who would listen about Lew's powers. Despite Lew's best efforts, the crowd soon became frantic and rushed him, grasping at him for a piece of clothing or some other bit of comfort. Lew fell to the ground and came close to being crushed. Only the timely arrival of his friends and Sergeant-Brother Fortian saved him from an almost certain doom at the hands of an adoring mob.
During the commotion, Drusilla slipped away, leaving a note explaining that she needed to seek her friends on her own and that her presence endangered the rest of the party.
Somewhat chastened by the Abbot, the group went into the city via a small postern gate to avoid being seen around the front of the Cathedral. They were amazed at the size and scope of the city, but also somewhat put off by how dirty and seedy it appeared. They discovered curio's dealer, Lonic, who agreed to identify their accumulated magic items for a stiff price. They also learned to avoid roving gangs of the two main political factions - the "Greens" and the "Reds"!
After discovering the nature of the items, they decided to sell the cooking skillet (+10 to cooking checks) and the leather satchel (refills with parchment each night if one sheet is left in). They received about 15,000 denarii worth of mixed coin for their efforts - more money than any of them had ever seen. They also discovered that Rowan's short sword was a "bonded weapon", that a ring they had taken from "Scarnose"/Acrius Sestius was a magical ring of protection and that Rosë's axe could magically alter size between a hand axe and a great axe! While they were marveling at their good fortune, a young lad ran up and thrust a missive into Quintus' hand which bade them meet Drusilla at the Lusty Whale
tavern later that night!
This missive leaves off at the end of Session 12
- more adventure coming soon...