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Aphonion Tales: Adventures in the Spice Lands and the War in Hanal, a tween and teen D&D game (edited notes, posts Tuesdays, most recent 3/7/23)


Session 10 (Sept. 13, 2020)
[There was a little change in the group's composition around this time. Moonlit Snow left the group roughly around this time period; Ravokris, an elven wizard, joined in this session. After this point, the group has basically been stable.]

26 Tar-Skard
They keep heading north; the bears keep accompanying them. They keep giving the bears some food, and the bears continue to accompany them.

Ravokreth joins up with them—he was traveling in the wilderness, and they’re traveling in the wilderness, and he seemed friendly.

Marching order:
Noah up front
Cart with Ravokreth
Iados Rein

That night, there’s an encounter. Very heavy footsteps approach. Thump-thump-thump.

Noah calls out in Giant. “Who goes there?”

“Me Thog!” [I think "Thog" and "Daisy" are the same giants as Floyd and Margaret from a couple sessions ago, but the names were forgetten.]

“Thog! I’m Noah. I saw you on a date.”

“Yeah… yeah… I remember.” Thog seems sad.

“Fly-y thing came. Shot Daisy. Came this way. I’ve been following ever since. Put Daisy back at parents. Had to pull giant arrow out. Me find them. They rude to me—I be rude to them.”

Noah tells them about the uruks.

“No urk came down. Just big spear. You think they came here?”

“A couple days ago.”

Thog meets the bears, and pets them. “Bears good. Bears guard lair.”

Thog tells them about 7th Region. They don’t take many slaves now, but they take captives. They’re now out of the 7th Region—this Region 6.

“They attack you?”

“They mostly were going after me.”

“Who your enemy? They charge more than I can count to capture.”

Noah hastily draws out the raven taking flight. “They’re the northern house people.”

“Hanal? Never go to Hanal. Hanal very dangerous,” says the 14 foot tall giant.

“Okay. Be careful. Not want to lose small friends. I find ship. I hit—not care if Region 7!”

27 Tar-Skard
Day and night pass peacefully.

28 Tar-Skard
They have not gone far when they come across the second of the ruined caravan. Equally smashed, many dead guards. There is horse meat, but it’s getting to be inedible. Same type of uniforms on the guards.

The PCs search the caravan for food. This one has had its cargo taken. But they do find some hard tack, fresh water, a barrel of pickled sardines.

Noah succeeds in grabbing a fish, only to topple into the Great River. He cannot swim and is floundering badly. Elyn points out the problem to the bears, and the bear swims out, grabs Noah by the scruff of the neck and carries him to the shore.

Noah trades lessons in strangling for lessons in fishing from Elyn.

Ravkoreth casts a shocking grasp at the river in an effort to fish. All sorts of rainbows spiral through the water, and 12 fish float to the top. He snares the dead fish out of the water, brings them over, and lays out the fish between Elyn and Noah.

29 Tar-Skard

30 Tar-Skard
Another day passes peacefully. Towards the end of the day, they find the remains of the third caravan. This caravan has been torn apart most completely. And this time, there are corpses that are not guards. Also, it was clearly a running battle for at least a mile.

Ravkoreth fishes again, with Shocking Grasp. Little mini-lightning bolts expand out, each hit a fish, and then carry them back. There are six fish.

31 Tar-Skard
They hear rapid, heavy footsteps approaching.

“Hi. You stop here. Trolls.” Thog points back the way he came. “Okay. Thog stay here. Thog good guy. Thog help you if trolls come near. Bears good, trolls bad.”

They wait a while. No trolls come. But they hear sounds up ahead some ways. After a bit of time, Thog goes back to scout. “Trolls killed several deer. Trolls go back to cave. You go now. Thog go back to Daisy. Thog not catch flying thing.”

The group hurries on while the trolls are at their cave.

1 Zar (Midsummer day)
There is a considerable cacophony to their right, away from the river. The bears come in and walk closer to them. There are dozens of voices arguing; they’re not speaking Common or Elven. Noah and Ravkoreth go to scout, trying to be a little stealthy.

There are 30 goblins in a clearing, squabbling like mad. Periodically, the chieftain (they think) waves a piece of paper. Then the rest of the goblins shout and squabble even more.

Noah suggests that they cast some light to project a shadow, and yells, “Goblins, it is I, the Great Goblin!”

Noah proceeds to tell the goblins that they must unite and all yell together. He tells them they must yell at the sun to make it go away because then good things will happen.

Whimsey’s laughter is heard in Ravkoreth’s ear, and the shadow becomes much larger and much more goblin-like. Whimsey seems to favor Noah greatly, and is reshaping him to look like the Great Goblin. They’re all looking at Noah, but they’re looking above him. After a moment, the shaman slowly falls to his knees and responds in broken Common. “The sun? The sun, Great Goblin?”

“Yes, you see I have seen a future where the sun attacks the goblins.”

“So we yell at the sun?” (Another interjects “It always burns us!”)

“But in the future it may incinerate all of you. But if you yell at it enough, each time it will disappear. So you must yell at the sun.”

“Then we should abandon this and ignore it.” The shaman shakes the paper.

“Show it to me so I can decide.”

The shaman gives it to another goblin, kicks him forward. Noah takes the paper. The paper says in three different languages, of which he reads one (Common), “By command of Great Lord _____, of Region 7 of the Argoni.” It offers a great reward and has a pretty accurate woodcut of Noah. It says that he accidentally escaped from a noble who would like him back, and the Seventh Region has been commissioned to capture him.

“It was brought to us by one of the flying ships. They’re dropping these off as they fly along this route, saying that there is a reward, and they must not reach the North. They are dropping it everywhere that there might be ones who would serve it. But we will yell at the sun instead.”

The goblin voices are raised in unison: cursing the sun.

2 Zar
Day passes uneventfully.

At night, they see a voller floating overhead. It’s moving steadily south, along the path.

3 Zar
Day passes peacefully.

4 Zar
The cart is bracketed by three black iron javelins. Floating above the caravan, wings pinioned out, is a large and very elderly harpy.

There is a chemical smoke coming out of the ground where the javelins hit.

“Surrender your valuables or die!”

Noah starts berating her. She says that her javelins are poisoned with deadly scorpion poison.

“Besides it’s not as bad as taking on 30 drowan guards. And those all got taken out by that monstrous one and its servants that teleported in.”

Noah intimidates her into flying off.

5 Zar
Passes peacefully.
[End Session 10]

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Session 11 (October 11, 2020)
6 Zar
Marching order:
Noah with bears
Ravroketh on cart
Elyn in rear


7 Zar
Day passes peacefully.

At night, while they are in their camouflaged camp, a harsh scratchy voice addresses Elyn on watch. “Excuse me, have you happened to pass a large contingent of escaped goblins?”

“We didn’t realize they were escaped.”

“Master has sent me to fetch them back. Master has use for them.” The creature is about ten foot tall, with chicken legs, some feathers, and clawed hands. “So… where were they? You said they saw them.”

“About 5 days south, along the river.”

“They ran away from the master. I need to fetch them back—I can’t run away from the master, as he has my ring. By now, they will have appointed their own chief.”

Noah asks Elyn about the tracks in the morning. He’s concerned about the tracks. But they don’t follow up much. (They avoided conflict with a vrock, which would have been dicey.)

8 Zar

Day passes peacefully.

9 Zar
They follow the path, and abruptly, the path starts to be paved, with a little slant so the water will run off. Just beyond the headwaters of the river, there is a stockaded fortification with troops, in house colors—probably of the local duke.

Noah proposes hucking Metsuke into the fortification. Elyn nixes this idea, but sends her ferret to look at the colors and shields for heraldry and to see what sort of armor the leader has (to try to figure out how important they are).

A small group of three horsemen come galloping out from the fortification. Their leader has arms, with a sheaf of corn and a pizzled hog rampant on his shield.

Noah hails them, says that they are mercenary guards protecting a shipment of spice.

“I am the squire of Volkin, and I serve the Earl of Bountiful. It is his lands that you are entering. What merchant do you represent?”

“Jebediah Cinnamontree. We have 600 pounds of cinnamon bark and 400 pounds of powdered cinnamon.”

The guards look through the cinnamon.

“Have you had issues with smuggling?”

“With improper produce. My earl wishes to… do you have any salt with you?”

“No, we ran out. Why?”

He doesn’t answer. They dip a talisman in the spices, and then say that they’re welcome to pass and enter Canberry. Ravokris identifies the talisman as a talisman of poison detection.

Noah continues to question the squire, who says that everything is fine, while appearing a little nervous, especially about the coming of winter.

Noah nicks himself with a silver knife and then passes it to the squire. The squire nicks himself and hands back the knife.

They continue along the paved road. This area is well patrolled, and there are no risks.

Noah asks Ravokris if he can tell anything about the squire from his blood, as well as asking if he can tell anything about Noah from his blood.

Ravokris claims that a small mouse appearing with a thumbs up indicated that he was indeed a wererat, and that they both are wererats.

They travel further into Bountiful. By the time it gets to be late afternoon, they have passed several small farm villages, mostly corn and hog farms. They see a few wagons and carriages, and occasional patrols of troops.

The small road merges into a larger road, also paved; there are sign posts with mileage indicators.

During the night, a small form appears to Ravokris. “What should we do with this? Should we make him a wererat? Or perhaps it would be more funny if we made him a weremouse?”


“Oh, we will have so much fun with him.”

(Ravokris gets 1 dot of favor of Whimsey.)

They stop at a roadside inn.

14 Zar
They arrive at Canberry City—an enormous walled metropolis of some million people.

Noah starts declaiming about having arrived from the Spice Lands, bringing salvation from bland food, after he arrives at a marketplace.

About the third time he repeats the word “salvation,” a priest of Glordiadel in white robes with a gold sun disk hurries up, accompanied by two guards who are likely paladins.

“Have you registered with the Archduke’s merchant council?”

“Yes!” says Noah.

“Your writ, please?”

Noah starts trying to improvise a writ.

“Are you trying to forge a document in front of us?”

The priest blows his whistle.

The rest of the group scatters.

Noah gets arrested.

The priest thinks that he was committing heresy.

They agree to march Noah to the merchant council, where he can apply for a temporary license.

Elyn says, “I knew this would happen! Walled cities are cursed. Nothing good happens in a walled city.”

Noah is marched to a marble building in the high city.

“What’s your name?”


“What’s the name of your business?”

“Cinnamontree Cinnamon—Good Since the Last Time We Got Raided.”

“A very long name, but very well.” Scritch scritch scritch.

They have a conversation in which Noah keeps digging, suggesting that there might be no good reason the Archduke should rule. After a moment, the priest asks that his blood get tested, and they cut his hand.

Noah then starts trying to convert everyone to Whimsey.

Noah gets charged 5 sp for a merchant’s license. He starts trying to offer a bribe, and the priest gestures for him to to be gagged.

Meanwhile, back at the cart, while the others are nearby… They take the cart to a different part of the city. Elyn gets a merchant’s license, a recommendation for a stall with good traffic, and sets up in stall 36. They start selling cinnamon.

Back at Noah: he’s gagged but not fully arrested. He sits down and consults the ancestors. They advise him to stop talking and to behave like a merchant. Noah complies, and the situation gradually improves.

They sell 4 pounds for 130 silver, out of a purse that does not seem large enough to hold 130 silver, to a well dressed gentlelady from the upper city. Noah puts aside 78 silver for their employer, and 52 for them.

Over the next 6 days, they sell about half of the cinnamon, getting about 7500 sp; they send 60% back to Jebidiah.

Next session begins on the night of Zar 20.
[End session 11]


Session 12 (October 25, 2020)
Night of Zar 20
During the day, Noah tries to identify whether he can find some customers who are nobles, but he doesn’t see it.

As the darkness gathers, Noah can hear intermittent distant giggling. As the evening deepens, Noah begins to feel a growing urge for cheese. Iados, who is who he was talking to, sees Noah changing… but it’s not horrible. His ears are getting bigger, and rounder, and his skin is taking on a greyish tint, and he’s wiggling his nose. Noah demands cheese from Iados. (Iados, draws a dagger.) He then slaps Noah, and says “snap out of it.” Noah is demanding cheese above all else. A little sparkly cloud of dust falls on him from the ceiling, and a giant eye winks at Iados.

Noah is a bipedal, human-sized mouse at this point.

Iados rushes down to the common room, throws some coins on a table and gets a hunk of cheese fresh cut from the wheel behind the counter.

Iados sprints in, and throws the cheese at Noah. Noah immediately chows down, and expresses rapture at the experience of eating the cheese.

Ravokris hears giggling and a voice saying, “well done.”

In the midst of eating the cheese, Noah finishes his transformation and becomes a large mouse, which runs out of the room squeaking as he goes.

Iados tells Ravokris and Elyn that Noah has turned into a mouse. Elyn’s response: “Ugh. Not again.”

Deep in the inn, they hear a couple of shrieks.

Noah races into the kitchen. (Iados is racing after him.) The cook, likely the wife of the innkeep, and a young woman with her shriek as he enters. The inn staff are panicking, while also worrying that people will hear about the mouse.

Iados tries to smooth the situation over, explaining what happened and handing some silver to the innkeep to pay for any food that gets eaten.

The innkeep ushers Iados and the rest into the kitchen (hoping they can deal with the mouse).

There are crumbs all over the place as Noah goes to town on the food. He continues squeaking and munching, and has no thoughts for anything else.

Iados smacks him with the flat of his rapier, but Noah ignores both that and the rolling pin blows from the innkeep’s wife.

Elyn offers to give him his dictionary back if he comes back to the room. Noah-the-mouse lunges at Metsuki, trying to eat the ferret as well as the other random food.

Ravokris just watches with a wry grin on his face.

The innkeep slips in and hands Elyn a canister.

“What is it?”

“The hottest spices I have.”

Elyn starts spraying like mad, and Noah tries to squeeze through tiny gaps, eating like mad.

The spiced food tastes terrible, so the mouse starts spitting the food out. Noah is exceedingly thirsty, so he looks for water—bursting into a barrel, expecting water, and causing an eruption of flour instead.

He bursts into another barrel, but this one has sugar. He just starts chowing down on the sugar.

Iados notices scores of normal mice entering the room from every direction, and gather around Noah. He responds by dragging Noah out of the kitchen, and back up to the private room.

When the Violet Moon finally sets, Noah is lying in ripped clothes, with extreme vague and incoherent memories of a party, fire, great food, and bizarreness.

Nobody tells him what actually happened.

(They have all attracted the attention of Whimsey at this point.)
(Noah is now a weremouse.)

Zar 21
Noah strikes up a conversation with a young man with a military bearing—Henry Overfifer, and asks if he knows anyone of who would know something of heraldry. Henry is little more than a child, but has a strong military bearing nonetheless, and he leads Noah back to his house to introduce him to his mother’s bodyguard, Dame Brenda.

As they walk, Noah tells him the story of the strange symbol.

“So… you were deprived of your birthright.”

“I suppose, and even of knowing what my birthright might be.”

“Yes, I can see that. I hope that Dame Brenda can help you.”

He leads Noah into a large manor house, in the heart of the city—not the palace, but nearby, and through a series of offices. Henry leads Noah into a small office off the main room.

“Dame Brenda Blackash, this young merchant has a question of heraldry for you.”

“I don’t expect anyone will attack the Lady Mayor today, so yes lad, how can I help you?”

Noah shows the symbol to Dame Brenda, and tells her that he is told that it was of a House of the Green of Hanal.

“This is the symbol of one of the Houses of the Flights—one of the houses involved in maintaining or operating the voller fleets.”

“Which one, however… that would be harder to figure out. If you were kidnapped from Hanal, that suggests that your family was at one time in high favor of Queen-Empress Thyastis. There are certain Strom names that are mixed blood.”

“Strom names?”

“Titles are different in Hanal. Covs are the equivalents of dukes or grand dukes. The Vads are equivalent to dukes or strong earls. And Stroms are the equivalent of barons, or perhaps counts. Is this a symbol you have seen, or just one that you remember?”

“Mostly one I remember.”

“It is likely then, that this symbol means you belonged to one of the houses of the capital of Hanal. And that your family had enemies. You would need to travel to the capital of Hanal to find out for certain.”

Noah thanks her and rejoins the rest of the group. He tells them of what he has found, and that Hanal is known as a danger zone.

They sell the rest of the cinnamon by the 1st of O-Zar, just after the fall solstice…. And a full Violet Moon.

O-Zar 1 evening.
Noah is baking a (not very good) cinnamon cake, and suddenly starts craving cheese.

Elyn says, hey, there’s lots of cheese in your room in the inn. She leads him into the room, and slams the door behind him.

There was cheese in the room, which Noah starts eating immediately. Noah starts celebrating-- the party from last night must be resuming! And his speech gradually faded into excited squeaks.

They lock the door and wedge it closed. Noah keeps trying to force his way through gaps that are much too small.

Noah notices a window and tries to escape through it. Meanwhile, Iados disguises himself as a cheese, and lures Noah as bait. Noah charges after the cheese.

Iados runs away, traveling as fast as he can. But Noah starts raging, and starts to gain on Iados. Ravokris chases after Noah. An illusion of a cat covers Ravokris, courtesy of Whimsey. The cat chases the mouse, the mouse chases the cheese, and Whimsey says “You chose them well!”

Iados leads Noah out of the city through the gates. The guards at the gate shoot crossbow bolts at Noah, one of which bounces off him but looks like it should have hit. Meanwhile, a veritable horde of mice is now chasing after the cat chasing the mouse chasing the running cheese.

By morning, they are miles into farmland, the whole cavalcade still running along, until Noah wakes up as himself, totally exhausted, lying in a cornfield.

The mice disperse in all directions.
[End session 12]


Session 13 (November 8, 2020)
[This session begins with a PC being rather improvisational and things getting a little weird as a result.]

O-Zar 2
Noah proposes doing a Morgrothian ritual to try to find his mentor.

The rest of the group is nonplussed.

A group of farmers have gathered and are watching them having a bizarre discussion.

While Elyn tries to gouge out Noah’s eye, a group of horsemen, dressed in white and led by a priest, gallops up.

“Stop in the name of the Archduke! Stand!”

Everyone except Noah runs into the cornfield leaving Noah alone in the field.

“What is going on here?”

“I was trying to remove my eye with the help of the woman running into the cornfield as part of a Morgrothian ritual to try to locate someone.”

“Why would you mention the name of the Lord of Death?”

“Mostly, because it’s his kind of ritual? Would you call it a Glordiadelian ritual just because you started using it?”

“We would not use a Sytryan ritual, or a Paranswarmian ritual, or a Morgrothian ritual for any purpose.”

“But I need to locate my friend who I have lost?”

“Why do you not consult a psion, instead?”

(A discussion of what psions are ensues.)

They move into the city to meet up with the psion tower. “Let me get a Master farsensor. If you have a clear image, it should be fairly easy.”

“So, you’re looking for this friend—no, mentor—hold a clear image in your mind and tell me something about him.”

Noah describes his mentor, the Wolf-eyed Man.

“He is in a stone cell, in a tower, in the capital of Hanal. The surrounds tell me that he is not in the imperial prison, but the prison of one of the great houses. As he is unarmed, he is not a guard. There are others with him—a woman of middle age, striking features, but badly injured, perhaps tortured. And a young lass, no more than 6 or 7 years of age.”

“Are there any banners nearby?”

“Let me see what I can find… “ He begins to breathe deeply and focuses some more. “It is the manor of the Vadess Zena Zitrian, also a crozier, a pirate-knight if you would, a privateer. She is a distant cousin of the Queen-Empress.”

Noah asks the paladin. “Do you know any way that the journey to Hanal might be made safe?”

“The simplest way would be to take service with a caravan heading through the City of Gates, and thence to the City of Enclaves. From Enclaves, you could purchase passage in a trade voller to Hanal.” He directs them to the hiring hall for mercenaries.
* * *
“We have a caravan of 40 wagons heading north to Enclaves. 10 sp a day for work as guards.”

The group agrees. They fill out the complement of guards, and the wagons are fully laden. As soon as the sun rises, they’ll depart.

“We don’t really expect trouble. We’re not going far enough east, where we’ve heard there’s trouble. But we’ll be taking the main road to the City of Gates. Should be straight-forward.”

(Noah buys a masterwork cheese knife for 150 sp, so he’s prepared to defend himself from living cheese.)

O-Zar 3
They head off to the north.

After a while, all of the wagons are crowded off to the side of the road. Meanwhile, some singing and chanting—strange singing, can be heard. The drovers stuff their ears, and offer balls of wool to the PCs to stuff their ears with. There is a strange three-sided person spinning at the front, and fanatical religious people following, singing and famished. The procession is clearly religious, clearly not Glordiadelian, and it passes in peace.

The journey will take a total of 9 days.

As they travel, they can see mountains looming ever larger as they approach.

Eventually, on O-Zar 12, they reach a pass in the mountains, and a City completely occupies the pass, with walls closing off the pass entirely. They resupply, and leave within hours to the north.

As evening sets on O-Zar 13, Noah pulls out a cheese knife. “I can smell you, cheese!” He realizes that he only has the desire for cheese when the Violet Moon is full. He’s gradually transforming, and running around with the cheese knife, trying to hunt the cheese monster. Multiple people are sort of staring at him, thinking that he’s drunk.

As he’s transforming, Noah rushes into the forest nearby. Everyone follows. Noah, in part-person, part-mouse form, squeaking like mad as if he thought he was talking, climbs up a tree and starts eating nuts like mad, horrifying the poor squirrel whose tree it was. He wipes out the poor squirrel’s supply of nuts, and moves on, looking for more nuts.

Ravokris levitates him and just keeps him floating in the air so he can’t do any harm.

While he’s levitating, a bear wanders up. “Oh, I remember when I was first one of us. Say, does he belong to a sept? Nah, I guess not. If you need a little help, my cabin’s down this way. Twenty years later you have pretty good control.”

As Noah scrabbles in the air, a group of tiny fey begin dancing and playing tiny bagpipes. One of them cries, “no rest until dawn!” And they dance until dawn, and the spell’s duration is extended until dawn.

Noah derangedly concludes that he is the were-cheese, and has been all along. He then kills the cheese costume, while it’s floating on an invisible servant.

The senior guard organizes them, and they begin travelling further.

The first 3 days north of the city have no other disruptions.

[End Session 13]


[Back from vacation and resuming normal posting schedule]
Session 14 (November 22, 2020)

O-Zar 16
The caravan continues north towards Enclaves, three days north of the City of Gates.

Noah is ranting unintelligibly about cheese.

Noah bets Elyn 50 silver that he won’t eat any cheese in the next two weeks.

In a quite forested area along the road, a group of heavily armored men on dark horses are riding around a woman dressed in black robes with skulls on her robes.

They pull to the side of the road to let the caravan pass. “Do you have any dead with you that need tending?”

Noah criticizes their sartorial choices, saying that there are too many skulls on her robes.

After some conversation, they realize that she’s a priestess of the dead, taking care of the dead, in service to Morgroth in his role as Lord of the Dead. Noah apologizes in Orkish, and she replies, “I accept your apology, but if you have no dead, we have no truck with you.”

Three extremely peaceful days pass.

O-Zar 19
They reach a crossroads, with an extraordinarily tiny thorp. There’s an inn, a tiny temple of Glordiadel, and not much else. The caravanmaster buys out the whole inn and offers rooms for anyone who wants them.

Noah slips off and goes to the tiny temple of Glordiadel. He asks the priest: “I think I might be a lycanthrope. I’m not certain, but I figured you’re more likely to know than anybody.”

“By all means, come up to the altar. The simplest test would be to try to cut yourself with something other than cold iron or silver.” He hands him a slender long pin.

Noah tries to poke himself. It does not go.

“There’s a rainbow sparkle, so I’m not sure you’re a normal lycanthrope.”

“Oh, I think it might involve… oh, I’m not supposed to mention her name in your temples.”

“Ah. Yes, we thank you to not mention her name here. I could give you a potion to suppress normal lycanthropy, but I can do nothing for lycanthropy associated with her. Not even the elves can do much about her attention.”

Noah stalks back to the inn and yells at the rest of the party for not telling him. He challenges Iados to a drinking competition and Elyn to a duel. The drinking proceeds apace, and Noah and Iados end up very soused.

Noah consults with his ancestor spirits about fighting elven rangers. “Don’t do it. It’s a bad idea. Don’t do it.” (His ancestors have experience with very specific elven rangers.)

Iados starts distracting Noah and friends by sleight-of-handing a coin around—but the coin actually teleports. A framed drawing of Iados magically appears. Iados picks it up, looks at it, folds it into a paper airplane, and throws it away… and it just flies away, going going going.

Iados interrupts Noah and Elyn. “I think something might be up. And don’t fight—it’s dumb.”

Eventually, the caravan rolls along.

O-Zar 25
The Violet Moon is full. The caravanmaster, with Noah’s cooperation, chains him up. There is some betting on what he’ll become—some betting on rat, some betting on wolf, etc. When he becomes a large mouse, the house wins, and the caravanmaster collects everyone’s money. The caravanmaster feeds him some cheese, which makes him really excited.

The caravanmaster gives Noah 31 silver—his share of the bets. “You’re a mouse, lad. Not a rat at all. And your singing voice is to kill for.”

O-Zar 27
They see a puce and teal flag. They are now three days from Enclaves. They travel safely within its outskirts.

O-Zar 30
The outer wall of Enclaves is higher, thicker, and encompasses a larger area that Canberry City. There are heavily armed and armored guards on the wall, and a few flying ships patrolling above the wall.

They head to the South Water gate, after a pretty cursory inspection by the guard captain. They pass into the City of Enclaves.

The City of Enclaves sits on the eastern fork of the River Coldrush. It is composed of 64 different enclaves, each a semi-autonomous area with its own ruler.

The caravanmaster pays them off for their service—270 sp each. There are a bunch of docks. Various grifters try to get them to buy services.
[End Session 14]


Session 15 (December 6, 2020)

O-Zar 31
They decide to take a voller to Hanal, if they can find one that will book them passage.

They are immediately told that there are 4 Enclaves with voller towers: Glittertowers, Sparkledome, Northern Aurelian, or Zorplona Moriquendarim. They decide to go to Sparkledome, and they pay a small amount for a barge ride. The voller tower can’t be missed. There’s a tall tower rising above the enclave.

At the base of the tower, there’s a glass area with a number of desks set up, each with a different logo on the front and someone behind them. One is obviously of the Noldar, based on its runes, one with a flying whale, one with the word “Transport,” and one with a coat of arms. They head to the whale one. “Welcome to a Whale of a Trip.”

Noah says he’s looking for passage to Hanal. They have a cargo ship leaving the next evening, with additional room for passengers. It’s going to the capital, of course, and charges 40 sp per person.

They agree.

The voller line will allow them to spend the night on board if they like.

The voller is very striking. It’s huge, it has a side paddle that doesn’t look like it could do anything. It also has strange weapons mounted on the foredeck. They’re shown to their cabins, which are scaled for gnomes, although they do fit. The crew are all gnomes.

Noah tries to contact his ancestors.

Their advice: “Trust no one who swears to the Green until you find your family.”

They load the ship overnight, with strange wheeled things rolling up and dumping things on board.

The next day, they fly off. The ship is disconcerting, with things happening for no apparent reason and neither rhyme nor reason. The crew posts watches in crows’ nests.

They pass north and west of the Crystal Cities after about 4 days of flight. On the night of the first day north and west of the Crystal Cities. Even though it’s night, the lookouts cannot help but noticing that they’re being paralleled by an enormous brass dragon—age category 11 of 12. It’s looking at the ship with an interested expression.

“Looks like someone threw all their cogs and gears together to make something new. Hello, little creatures!”

They greet it.

“I prefer my tiny little friends to stay alive. Do you know what your flying into?”


“I guess it’s still Hanal. It’s a wonder of all of the gods you haven’t been attacked yet.”

“What’s your name?”

“Zymantis the Powerful. And who are you?”

Iados says, “I’m McPerfectus the Amazing.” A little silliness ensues.

Noah asks, “Have you been watching over this area for a while?”

“Yes, I’ve been watching their civilization collapse.”

“Have you seen any rookery groups? The ones that have the big flying eagles?”

“Nothing is safe from the Queen-Empress forces now, and they have always been secondary in this area, but I have seen them.”

“Have you seen any flying this banner recently?”

“Yes, both ships and skyships. You’re coming into a war lad—a civil war. There’s nothing civil about it, though. I’m trying to move my people out of the way, but do you know how hard it is to move little people with children?”

They tell some jokes, which the dragon loves.

“You must be careful, lads. I’m trying to move my people to the edges of the Crystal City. If you happen to pass through the southern mountains, you’re welcome to join my refugees.”

The remaining days pass. They arrive at the capital of Hanal on 9 Ghast.

As they sweep in over the capital city, there’s a dour air over the whole place. As they tie up, a group of heavily armed men approach. “Who do you stand with?”

“We’re merchants! And these are passengers?”

“Who do you declare for? Do you declare for or against the Queen?”

“Uhhhh… for?”

“Good! You can live.”

Elyn mutters how this is the sort of thing that happens in walled cities. It’s how walled cities work.

Noah asks, “Do you know of Vadess Zena Zitrian?”

“Of course. Are you hers?”

“Sort of? Could we get an audience with her?”

“She waits on the Queen most days, but you might be able to get a meeting with her seneschal at her manor. He can contact her if it is of sufficient urgency.”

There are troops everywhere in the streets of the city. Noah has a vague feeling that his uncle may have been a general in the legions—may still be a general in the legions, but he cannot remember his name. They get directions to Vadess Zena Zitrian’s manor.

Many vollers fly above the city, most flying unrelieved Green banners, though some show Green banners with a crest upon them.

This city is large—not in the way of Enclaves, but it’s a large city. And they make their way into the royal quarter, and see both the normal troops of the Legions, and others wearing noble crests. They also pass various blasted manor houses, some of which have a strange rune placed on them.

At the manor house, Noah says that he wishes to speak to the Vadess’s son, and that a friend of his might be wrongfully imprisoned here.

The Vadess’s son comes to the gate. “I am the na-Vad. I know you! You look like hell! What happened to you? And why are you asking after my mother as if you were some stranger?”

“I lost my memories. I don’t know you. I was memory wiped at some point.”

“That must have been when your house was taken. I completely understand. Come in, come in. Oh, this is difficult.”

He leads them up into a sitting room trimmed entirely in green. Something about it seems vaguely familiar, but Noah can’t put his finger on it. He thinks he’s been there before.

A servant brings them flutes of wine and passable pastries, although not up to the standard but for the war.

“So you have no memories?”

“Vague memories, and then being moved, and then waking up in a forest.”

“They must have lost you. When your family house was taken, and your mother kidnapped, you were kidnapped as well. It was widely believed that they had killed you, because they never tried to ransom you, only your mother. Your father paid the ransom. But they’re entrenched at your family manor now, they have not dared to return to the capital. You’re the son of a strom.

“There is no safe way for you to reach your family lands now. When the Queen-Empress has crushed the enemies and restored order, it would be easy. But now… you would have to be able to sneak through 350 miles of territory, much of it hostile.”

“Could I get a sending or something, let them know that I’m alive?”

“We could approach the Temple of Paranswarm and see what they can do.” He pauses. “You know that the whole country is on a war footing? There are rebels on the west, but Inquisition troops have also landed in the East. They seem to be getting some cover from both the Noldar and Eldar men-of-war, separately. We are forced to assume they may also be hostile, though why we cannot understand. And as you know, the Queen-Empress’s younger sister Anastasia has gained the alliance of the rebel Covs, Vads, and even some Stroms. She has fled the Empire, travelled far to the south of even the Barrier Mountains, where she has established a government in exile. It is not that you do not expect sisters to have some rivalry, but tearing an empire apart over it is still much.”

“While I was in the wild, I met a man who had weird eyes. Out of pity or something greater, he helped keep me alive. A seer found his location, and it seems he has been locked up here. If he has committed a crime, I will not stand by him. But if it is a misunderstanding, I would wish to clear that up.”

“I know the one of which you speak. He has sworn to the Red. While the Queen-Empress wishes all of those put to death, we have kept him and a companion here as they seem right enough. We cannot let him go, but I can take you to see him in the morning. The Red and the Green dwelt together for hundreds of years, though the Red rarely declared openly. Our hope is that when all of this is resolved, the Queen-Empress will see fit to pardon those who swore to the Red but killed no one, like that one.”
[End session 15]


Session 16 (December 20, 2020)
10 Ghast
They all awaken and have a war breakfast with the Na-Vad. There’s no sign that there will be a shortage of food, but the noble houses are being careful anyway because there’s a war on.

They rise early, travel to the Church of Paranswarm, observe the last ritual of the night. The Na-Vad speaks to the priest.

“You have survived a serious attempt at an assassination, then?”

“I guess that’s right.”

“Well, there have been so many assassinations of late, and kidnappings—among the nobles, among the youth--, and then the chivalry departing suddenly. I understand you want to make a sending to your family.”


“Prepare it and I will send it.” The priest turns to the rest of them. “I see no holy symbols of Paranswarm among you. Be careful throughout the city. And be even more careful if you enter Inquisition held territory. You flew in?”

Noah presents the sending text: “This is Noah, I have survived the kidnapping. Currently in the capital with the na-Vad Zitrian, Attempting to better understand the civil warfare. Hopefully soon enough reunion can occur. Was found in the Spice Lands.”

The priest goes to attend his business; he will make the sending in the evening.

The na-Vad Zitrian continues to mention how troubled he is as they go to meet with the prisoners. He cannot free the prisoners, but he can allow Noah to meet with him. He doesn’t understand why the chivalry have departed in the time of the Empire’s greatest need, the Inquisition has landed 25,000 troops even though Hanal has always been a loyal Paranswarmian country.

The na-Vad leads them all into the depths of the manor, into the modest dungeons underneath. There are cells for a dozen prisoners here, including one occupied by the wolf-eyed man and the woman. “Ten minutes, no more. This will be reported to my mother any way, and I do not wish it to be too long.” The guards withdraw with the na-Vad.

“I am surprised to see you again, but pleased to see you in control of yourself and with companions.”

“Things have been weird. We started off as mercenaries, dealing with remnants of the Hanalian army. Trying to help them return here.”

“So, they were defeated in the south?”


“Why do you ally with the Red? It seems the main thing driving everything apart is that conflict—the House of Red and the House of Green?”

“That was the traditional divide. But the two largest covates that have defied the enchantment are of the Red.”

“Defied the enchantment?”

“I know that you cannot retain this, but I know that the woman who sits on the throne is not Thyastis’s daughter. Thyastis’s daughter is in exile, and the Queen-Empress is an imposter. I can only hold that in my mind at some times, and I know you may think me mad.”

“Is there any chance that this will end without one group destroying the other? I’d prefer if this could end with some sort of uneasy peace? And if she isn’t who she claims that she is, who is Princess Anastasia?”

“Nature tells me—you know my connection to nature—that she is not a natural creature that sits on the throne. And Anastasia is a natural creature. There is no connection between the two.”

“There is not much I can do for you.”

“There is nothing you can do for me. The Vadess intends to turn me over to the Inquisition, assuming that eventually the Inquisition will side with the Queen-Empress.”

“What does the Inquisition want?”

“I assume the same thing I do, to stop the imposter, but I do not know for sure. You could try to speak with them. They are encamped east of here.”

“And what of your companion?”

“I am Amelia, I was Thyastis’s Archamaga. I do not have his vision—it is as if I vaguely remember the new Empress when she was in court, a quiet girl. She has no use for Thyastis’s people. She drove us away from court, I came to my old friend, and we were arrested.”

They leave the dungeon and the na-Vad tells them that they are welcome to remain here as long as they like, and their rooms will be kept open for them.

Noah says that he’s thinking of going to speak with the Inquisition, to find out what they know and why. The na-Vad encourages him, and asks Noah to tell him if he finds out anything.

They decide to wait until the evening, when they can get the results of the sending, and then head east to the Inquisition.

Within an hour, Noah cannot remember that the Queen-Empress is an imposter. (Elyn writes down in Elvish that the Queen-Empress is an imposter.) By the end of the second hour, everyone has forgotten.

They go to the temple that evening. “I reached your parents’ priest and he spoke with them and they responded: 'Thank the gods. Do not attempt to reach us. Bandits, rebels, and monsters between you and us. Remember: you are the na-Strom. Stay safe. Love, Mother and Dad.'”

They spend the night at the Vadess’s manor.

11 Ghast
They set out towards the Inquisition army—east and slightly south. The area is so heavily militarized, that other than getting stopped a couple of times and checked, they can make it through the day without any difficulty.

12 Ghast
Towards evening of the second day, they come across a burned thorp—burned to the ground.

Elyn says, “Looting anybody?”

“Normally I just don’t participate in looting sessions, but this is not…” says Noah.

Elyn is stopped by the fact that in the midst of the destroyed houses—they were destroyed from above, and there’s an odd rune burned into the ground in the middle of the village. Elyn recognizes the rune as elven. She calls for Ravokris to come over, and he approaches cautiously.

Ravokris recognizes that rune. It stands for “Forbidden!”

Elyn and Ravokris insist that Noah investigate first. Ravokris can feel a strange pulse of magic-maybe divine—coming out of the rune. Ravokris casts detect magic. Immediately, an about foot tall etheric figure appears—an elven figure in the outfit of an officer from Singing Leaves. It appears and begins to speak clearly in ringing tones, “Abomination has been committed in this place and has been scourged by order of the Queen of Singing Leaves. This area is forbidden until time has passed for clerics to cleanse this area.”

They all rapidly withdraw from the village.

This is particularly weird, because there is almost nobody of elven blood in Hanal. They felt the need to bombard it from the air. As they leave, Elyn says, “If the elven people burnt it, it probably deserved it.” At the same time, she’s troubled.

Noah looks through the village, looking for corpses. A first pulse of energy passes over Noah, and then the second propels him out of the village and there’s a loud announcement in elven, “Forbidden!”

At that point, Elyn and Ravokris decide to come in, wondering if it’s only elves that can approach. An unseen force picks Elyn up and carries her out. A voice whispers, “Forbidden.” As Ravokris approaches, he hears a voice say, “Are you certain?” He says “yes,” and the energy pulses cease to affect him.

As he approaches, he sees that the blast center is some sort of strange altar, the strangest he’s ever seen. It is not Morgrothian, but is extraplanar. There’s conjuration magic here, mostly broken but not entirely. Ravokris touches it with his hand and begins casting Identify. He can feel horrible energies passing over him as he touches it. When he finishes casting the spell, a vista opens in front of him—an entirely featureless gray plane, with no life at all, and a hunger clawing at him. He then hears a woman’s voice, breathless. “Restore me, bring me into your plane, I will bring you up to levels of power unheard of.” He can feel the evil pouring out. “Restore my places of power. I am She of the Bone. Restore my places of power. I will make you my consort. Come to me, serve me.” He senses a strange force strengthening his will, and rainbows appear in front of him. He thinks his Goddess is protecting him. He cannot withdraw his hand however. “Serve me!”

Ravokris says “no.” He is thrown 190 feet back and everyone else is knocked back and to the ground. Ravokris lands well in a roll and is not struck dead but does take 24 points of blunt damage, leaving him barely conscious.

Noah tries to rush the symbol, but it continues to push him out.

Ravokris takes a short rest and mostly heals up.

They send the party animals to try to disrupt the rune so they can get to the smashed altar. A crab, a dire ferret, and a mouse approach.

Meanwhile, Iados is watching all of this. As Ravokris is thrown screaming through the air, Iados makes a spot check and fails miserably. He’s taken completely by surprise as all of a sudden two knives come over his shoulder missing terribly. Iados disengages and runs forward. As he turns around, he sees a crazed looking human, in ragged clothes, emaciated with hunger, with two daggers out.

Iados drew his rapier, missed, and then got stabbed. The poison on the dagger causes him to collapse.

Ravokris sees this happen and shouts, “Knife guy!”

The knife guy starts dragging Iados into the woods.

Noah rages and charges. He swings his axe at the enemy’s leg, trying to avoid Iados with his axe. He snakes the axe around, hitting the peasant for 16 points of damage. The villager stabs back at Noah, who barely makes his save against the poison.

Ravokris sends a firebolt sailing past the villager.

Elyn shoots the villager with her bow. She does 12 points of damage, dropping the villager.

Noah leaps forward and tries to save the villager, but he’s already dead. And then Noah yells at the corpse, “you were our best lead.”

Elyn makes sure they don’t abandon Iados.

Noah drags both the corpse and Iados back towards the group. He then hurls the corpse towards the altar. The body dissolves into mist which is sucked into the altar.

Ravokris’s familiar, a crab, is able to approach and starts scraping the edge of the rune. They remove the elven rune that’s blocking the village. It takes about 40 minutes.
[End session 16]


Session 17 (January 3, 2021)

12 Ghast (cont’d)
They discuss options: ignore it; tell the Hanalian government; charge the altar with an axe; investigate the area further; or tell the Inquisition. Over Elyn’s strenuous objections, they decide to have Noah charge the altar with his axe.

Noah rages, then charges the altar. He gets a 19 on a Wisdom save: a misty figure of an elf appears and says, “no, no, no, no…” but he rushes through it anyway and reaches the altar. He gets a 1 on his attack roll, and his axe twists from his hand and flies into the woods. He’s standing, unarmed in front of the altar, and there’s a mist surrounding him. He gets a 15 on a Constitution save, and he stops moving entirely.

Noah can feel something rummaging around in his brain. “Hmmm. What can I do with this if I take it over. It’s very limited.

“I can kill lots of people.

“Unfortunately, you’re incapable of travelling to Canberry and destroying the artifact that they intend to use against me. Are you capable of conquering this plane of existence? No, let me see…

“I could raise a dread horde, and conquer a 100 cities…”

Elyn rushes forward. She approaches Noah, and then she makes her Constitution save as she escapes the mist. Elyn grabs Noah and tries to drag him away.

As she drags him out of the mist, he starts to move again and there is a hideous howl coming out of the altar and they are hurled through the air. They take 17 points of damage each as they land.

Noah finds that his mind has come back to itself.

Noah recovers his axe. He notices that there are some more figures moving around out beyond the area. It looks to be another emaciated figure like the one that tried to kidnap Iados. Noah calls out, “Hello there. If you tell me everything you know about this cult, maybe you can leave with both your legs.”

The emaciated figure, with one hand that looks more like a tree branch than a hand, charges him. He claws at Noah with his bizarre looking hand. He does 6 points of damage, and Noah needs to make a Con check, but comfortably passes as a wave of hunger and weakness passes over him.

“You serious, buddy?” says Noah, who can now see that his teeth are sharper than human normal. Noah grabs him by the throat. “So then. Maybe I pegged you wrong as being part of a crazy cult. I’m now probably going to take off one of your fingers as part of this…”

A little voice says from nearby: “They don’t speak anymore, the few that survive.”

“Do they understand anything?”

“Fear, hunger, a desire to destroy.” A less than a foot tall figure in brown and green comes out.

“Are you a fey?”

“I am! You recognize me? Whimsey be praised.”

“You follow Whimsey?”

“Many of the fey do.”

“We tried to destroy the altar.”

“Oh, stay away from that thing. It will kill you or possess you. Most of the humans in the village died when the Light of Eiru bombarded the village from above. Eventually, he’ll grow roots into your hand if you keep holding him.”

Noah chops the prisoner to death—he reverts to normal humanity as he dies, and seems to look at him with thanks as he dies.

“My tribe is all but dead. This cult is everywhere, everywhere. I can’t quite figure out what happened with the Queen-Empress—I think I should know, but I can’t put my mind on it.”

Noah signals the rest of the group over.

Iados and the faerie begin having a pillow fight of sorts.

The faerie then summons a feather cannon by casting a spell—it’s more of a mortar than a cannon. Ravokris lights the fuse on the mortar, and a huge shower of brightly colored feathers come down on all of them.

They hear a sound in the distance—Rooor, rooor, like horns. The fey says, “We must move, we must move. They’re coming! There are eight more coming, that’s too many. I can cover our tracks, but we must move quickly.”

They escape, with the fey casting Pass without Trace.

“What were those?”

“Those were the villagers that survived outside the village. They were already hunting. And now some of them have become war beasts.”

They head eastwards, with the fey riding in Ravokris’s pack.

They’re in their standard marching order, Noah, Ravokris, Iados, and Elyn. They pass near another farming village, but it seems to still be a regular village, with no altar to evil gods or the like.

They move through the woods for the rest of the day before camping for the night.

The night passes peacefully.

13 Ghast
Day passes uneventfully.

14 Ghast
They hear the tramping of feet and the jingling of harnesses. A large body of troops—more than 100—in green surcoats over plate breastplates, walks nearby.

“Who do you swear allegiance to?”

“The Green, the Green.”


“And the Queen-Empress.”

“Excellent, excellent. Be careful. If you seek to reach Bratveld, it is behind lines controlled by the Inquisition. The Strom of Bratveld is fallen—he was taken by the Inquisition, with insufficient troops, and treated as a heretic.”

Noah’s family knew the Strom of Bratveld. They were social acquaintances of his family.

“If you are civilians, they will let you in, but do not show weapons to Inquisition troops. They have gone mad, utterly mad. We do not know why they are here. But we are patrolling against further advances. If they advance, the general has substantial forces to repulse them, and we have a special weapon. I am sorry, young sir, if any members of your family fell.”

“If the Inquisition forces are numerous enough, wouldn’t that mean that you would face too much danger. Perhaps we could work on behalf of the general to find out what the Inquisition is doing.”

“You offer to spy for us? We accept your offer, may the Great God of Darkness protect you. Here, take this token.” He hands Noah a small chip of green crystal. “It will allow you to send us a 25 word message.”

They march on. About a mile past the Hanalian lines, several men dressed head to toe in black step out of the trees—literally.

“In the name of the Holy Inquisition of Paranswarm and on behalf of the Inquisitor General, what is your purpose here?”

“We are here to meet with the Inquisitor General on a diplomatic mission. We’re interested in understanding what the Inquisition is about. We hope we can defuse fears about that.”

All of them but one step back into trees. “I will escort you to the Inquisitor General’s encampment.”

He leads the way.

There are various flags above the encampment—unrelieved black, and black with lightning bolts on it. After a bit, an adjunct comes back. “The Inquisitor General will see you. I suggest your companions remain here and be fed by the servants unless one of them has particular information of value.”

Noah is taken to a pavilion, in which there are maps laid out on tables with various markers on them. A person, clearly at least a knight, is looking at the map. Noah can see various stromates listed, including his family’s.

“I am Noah, I am the na-Strom of Arundall. Many years ago I was kidnapped, and I had much of my memory wiped. I have returned to find the country in such dire straits.”

“In war, you mean.”

“In war, indeed. The people are scared of the Inquisition. As much as they know, it is that enough of them are no longer faithful, or that there is some fault of the faction that the Inquisition opposes. I desire to know the truth of this situation, because I think that if handled poorly, this could be more than just an internal war, but if handled well could be ended quickly and victoriously.”

“My good young lord, there is no question of the faith of the overwhelming majority of the people of Hanal. But I have been assured by the Protector and Defender of the Faith, that much of the chivalry here and the Queen-Empress are heretical, and that some have formed an alliance with something so abominable that it has no name in our annals.”

Noah describes the burnt out village.

“There are two men-of-war—one of Singing Leaves, and one of the House of Aufaulgautharim, that are circling and bombarding the heriticus of the worst nature.”

“But if your mission opposes the Queen-Empress, then why have you not allied with one of the factions?”

“We are trying to reach the Cov of Bormark. But we can’t concentrate our army—they have a pound and a half of bonedust, which they obtained from another heretical group in another land. So we need to keep our forces dispersed, and we have not been able to link up with Bormark yet. It is a very difficult thing. We can allow the elven strikes, because we cannot stop them, and that is understood. But open support from the forces of Light would turn some of the faithful of Paranswarm against us.”

“I have heard from an ally, close to nature, that there is some sort of enchantment involving the Queen-Empress.”

“I must admit, I cannot hold onto what you just said. But the Protector of the Faith has instructed us, and we must obey. And the hereticus… I do not even understand the evil that they are.”

“But to the uncorrupted villages, this seems like a plot to join one of the factions. From the other perspective, if the Inquisition backs anyone faction, it risks a faith schism.”

“I cannot deny the accuracy of your words. However, I can tell you that we have been instructed that additional troops are reluctantly being committed by the Holy See, and we have licensed diabolists preparing to summon squads of bearded devils.”

“Is there any way myself and my allies can serve in your pursuit of serving Paranswarm, by identifying the true state of faith of the Queen-Empress and some of her nobility?”

“I am a military commander. We have not found anything that can shake the faith of the people in the Queen-Empress’s camp. It is noteworthy that both of the major covs who have turned against her were not in the country at the time of the succession. You might try to join your family and ask them to not take up arms against us. Any who take up arms against the Inquisition… must be dealt with firmly.

“Between the two, they destroyed 13 villages that built these altars. You must not approach any of the blasted areas.”

“What worries me,” says Noah, “is how quickly that has spread.”

“We believe that there is some sort of influence being spread and we find it impossible to insert agents.”

Noah meets up with the rest of the group. “This might seem crazy… but I think we need to get Glordiadel and his faith involved in this. Surely if Paranswarm’s Holy See were capable of understanding some form of offness with the Queen-Empress, then the high officials of Glordiadel would surely be able to detect it as well. Now, I understand that the risk involved in this is massive. Glordiadel is a god of compassion, but not necessarily of action.”
[End Session 17]


Session 18 (Jan. 17, 2021)
[I began playing Sister Agnes, a sort of semi-PC, semi-NPC cleric to support the party, in this session]

15 Ghast
Noah is from the Stromnate of Arundall, about 8 days journey away.

Sister Agnes, a heavily armored nun of the Order of the Weeping Woman, asks if she can travel with them. Her convent was overrun, and then she joined up with the Inquisition, but she finds an Inquisition camp disquieting and would prefer to travel to closer to her family’s lands.

The first two days of travel are behind Inquisition lines. Things seem close to normal, although under Inquisition control. The villages carry on like normal, going about their farming. After they cross out of Inquisition controlled areas, they see people looking more furtive.

17 Ghast
The villages controlled by the Queen-Empress have been significantly depopulated of men of prime fighting age—whether they have been conscripted or slain, who can tell.

That evening, Noah ties himself to a tree. Sr. Agnes prays for him, asking her lady to cry for his state.

Noah is trying to gain control over himself as he changes. Elyn is trying to hinder him, as is Ravokris. Iados tries to help, as does Sr. Agnes. Noah spends some time maintaining control, but it slips away after a couple hours and he rampages some. (Next time he gets a +2 to his save.)

Early in the night, while Elyn is on watch by the fire, under a full blue moon and full violet moon, a shadow passes across the faces of both moons. Ravokris is deeply asleep, but sits bolt upright and leaps to his feet. The veins on his head are bulging out. He starts running around in circles, staring at the sky and futilely making gestures at the sky, before he comes to his senses. Elyn clams that the shadow must be a dragon, but without even attempting to identify it.

18 Ghast
Peaceful day and peaceful night.

19 Ghast
Peaceful day, but as they pass through more of these lands, they see villages that are badly mistreated. Ahead, they see a walled estate in the valley, with manned walls. The banners show a sprig of purple grapes on a green background.

Noah hails them. “I’m looking for the Stromate of Arundall.”

“Three days further north. This is Pallennvalley. We still stand!”

They travel on.

In the early hours of the morning, there are ten or twelve flashes of purple light in the direction that they’re traveling.

20 Ghast
Peaceful day, peaceful night.

21 Ghast
Peaceful day, peaceful night.

22 Ghast
After a day’s travel they arrive at the outskirts of the Stromnate of Arundall.

A troop of guards with an eagle rampant on their banner greet them. “Na-Strom? Your parents had hoped that you would not make the journey here. We remain unbothered by both sides, but that’s surely just a matter of time.”

“Yes, but I had to investigate the Inquisition and then come here.”

The patrol continues, but they send the houndmaster to lead the group back to the castle. They arrive at the castle shortly, after a trip with a laconic houndmaster.

As they arrive at the castle, Noah feels the grip on his mind easing a little. He remembers the castle a little, with a few memories of things he did in the castle. It’s a medium-sized motte and bailey, with a lot more people under arms than Noah is used to, and many of them militia raised in levies recently.

“Your parents. This way.”

As he sees his parents, Noah can’t remember all that he should, but he remembers having a good relationship with them and has a flood of strong feelings. They are bent over a map with the captain of their men-at-arms. His mother looks up. “You came, in spite the danger.”

“Yes. I ….”

“I’m glad you came. These are your boon companions?”


“I’m glad you all came. We have been safe so far, but the Queen-Empress has asked permission—in a way that is not a true request—to station a voller squadron here.”

“You cannot say no, but if you do, you’re making the Stromnate a target.”

“And going against Mother Church itself. I’ve been around a long time, but I never expected to have to choose between my country and my faith.”

“It’s certainly not something any would wish.”

“We hope the fighting won’t make it this far north, or that it will be stymied by Pallenvalley, which has more men under arms than we do.”

The captain is sent out.

“They attempted to replace you. They sent something that looked like you, but it was not you, as the bishop’s enchantment showed. We think this has something to do with the cult, but we do not know how. Certainly, the Queen-Empress does not follow the cult…”

“When I was taken, I remember seeing three with raven tattoos.”

“The Guild. Strange. It’s not their ordinary dealings.”

They welcome all the guests.

A feast is served—albeit a bit sparse, because of the fear that a siege may be coming.

“What can we tell you that will help you, son?”

“How have things in Hanal gotten so bad?”

“There were hints of this for years. When the first cultists were eliminated by the prior Inquisitor General, we were not sure that they were not simply people who had become ill-favored. And then some of our people were found celebrating strange rites. We heard reports from our neighbors of similar things. Thyastis tried to do what any good monarch would do. And now her daughter is caught up in it, and will not allow the Inquisition through to purge the cult. But she would not, and now we have this.

“Unfortunately, your younger brother is trapped at the Academy. He is safe, so far, though I do not know he will remain so. So far, both sides have avoided attacking the Academy. We will not ask you to travel through this war-torn mess to try to bring him here—and he might not be safer here. Do you know why the Inquisition is so insistent? Is it just the cultists?”

“It is the cultists, but I think there is something more. It is a strange time.”

“Perhaps your group could go into the northern portion of the Stromnate. That’s where we located cultists before. If we can ascertain that there are no heretics in our lands, we may be able to get the Inquisition to turn aside.”

Sister Agnes warns them that the forces of the Queen-Empress have engaged in some atrocities, including attacking a convent of the Weeping Woman, ostensibly for refusing to allow them to occupy it for strategic purposes but actually because the Abbess was sheltering some of the little people.

23 Ghast
They travel north on horseback to the north of the Stromnate. There are corpses here, blasted from above—in about the same place where the flashes of purple light struck. They were villagers, but they were blasted from the air by energy weapons. They had strange weapons, and disturbing scarification that was self-inflicted.

Noah suggests searching the bodies—“don’t steal anything, but look it over.”

Some of them are normal people, but with scarification. A couple of them, however, are translucent, and one of them has a blue glowing fire in its heart. Those last ones were blasted by the energy weapons. Some of the scarification matches symbols they saw on the foul altar.

There is some sense of good at the edge of the periphery of Sr. Agnes’s sense, when she detects evil and good. Not too far outside that area, she finds a small girl, about three years old, clutching a church icon. She is quite deceased, although not hit. She had her throat slit when the attack occurred.

They bury her and take the icon.
[End session 18]


Session 19 (January 31, 2021)
23 Ghast (cont’d):
The icon is clearly an icon of a minor saint, and it contains a relic of the saint. Sister Agnes cannot identify which saint.

Noah proposes a plan: making himself bait to draw out the cultists, take some prisoners, and then investigate from them. There are only 4 villages in the northern part of the Stromnate, all fairly isolated.

Noah consults with some of his ancestor spirits. “I apologize for disturbing your wandering through the spiritual realms. I need to understand what has afflicted this land to best aid it. Do you know which of these villages were our people’s?”

“The two furthest north are where our people were driven by the end.”

“Do you know if either is currently afflicted with the corruption of the cult that we faced?”

“The ancient abomination has afflicted one of the villages of the humans and one of the villages of our people.”

“The Abomination of Shurr?”

“No, much older than that thing. This is an ancient abomination.”

She indicates which two villages on the map: the human village Windermere, and the orcan village Urmkirkey. Draycott and Ironhaven are the uninfected villages.

Noah remembers, vaguely, that the northlands trade for food, and produce iron ingots which are sold south to the government’s need for iron.

24 Ghast
They arrive at Windermere at the end of the day. Windermere is a small village; it has a squat stone tower, and a gate and stockade, though the tower does not appear to be occupied.

The gate guard recognizes the na-Strom, and immediately abandons his post to lead them to the headman’s home—a largish log cabin. There is a Paranswarmian chapel that appears as abandoned as the tower—though not obviously desecrated.

The headman ushers them in. The headman and his presumed wife are middle aged and welcome them in to sit by the fire.

Noah tells them that he has a fragment of a foul altar.

“Oh my lord, if you have a piece of a vile altar, you must seek out a hierarch of the Church to deal with it. You want nothing to do with the cult, my lord—there has been much trouble here in the north.”

The circuit priest happened upon a dire bear that mauled him. That happened in the spring, and they sent two requests for a new circuit priest, but none has come, which has made the cult worse. Sister Agnes notes that this means that either the messengers have been waylaid on the road, the replacement circuit priest has also been murdered, or the Bishop of Zandiker (a city beyond the Stromnate) has been corrupted. Zandiker is a fairly major city, the capital of a Vadnate not far along. It is near the stromnate, and right close to where the lines of the Inquisition are, so it’s unclear what its present situation is.

Noah passes through the village talking to other people in the same way—dangling the bait.

The chapel is not despoiled, but clearly has not been used in months. There is still host in the tabernacle, still sanctified, but untouched. Sister Agnes seeks out the poorest of the village, giving them a silver piece each and crying for them. Elyn pesters her along the way.

Ravokris’s fey friend says, “This place is awful. No life. No joy. What can we do? Should we create a whimsical effect or wait until we’re attacked later tonight?”

“Let’s create a whimsical effect.”

“And I remember, we cannot say we are Whimseyites. Let’s give them confections filled with laughter and joy, to amuse the children.”

The fey invokes Whimsey mightily while doing this.

There is a flurry of trumpets, and some colorful lights. And wherever they go, the children find that they have confections with them, and when they eat them, they experience the fey magic.

Noah heads to an iron pit, with Iados tagging along irritating him. The rest of the group is in eyesight, but not near. Noah is blithely talking to the miners, but Iados sees the mine foreman working Noah around to turn his back to the altar that they assaulted, which is hidden in a pile of tailings. The mine foreman is walking him to another pit to show him the tunnels. A couple of miners following them are putting down their tools and putting their hands near weapons in their belts. As they’re about to push Noah into a pit, Iados charges in, rapier and dagger in hand, and shouts a warning. As Iados approaches, one of the miners charges Noah and tries to push him into the pit. Iados runs him through with his rapier, doing 17 points of damage. He dresses up his other dagger as a cheese.

Noah rages, and says, “Take the foreman alive! We need him to question. The other two, you give working class people a bad name.” He cleaves into the other armed mine worker, hitting him twice for a total of 30 hp, cutting him in twain.

Ravokris blasts the other mine worker with Aganazar’s Scorcher, crisping him up and killing him. His body literally is burning and hanging off Iados’s rapier. Then, inexplicably, his dead body turns to glass.

Noah says, “Surrender now, and we can talk later.”

The foreman tosses a mottled pebble into the pit. “Unseen one who walks among us, help me now to strike down the na-Strom!”

Almost immediately, a humanoid form with a blue flame burning in its breast fades in. He strikes Noah for 13 points of damage, although Noah uses his rage power to reduce it to 5. There is also blue fire dancing on Noah’s flesh, but it doesn’t seem to be burning him—it almost seems to be making him cold.

Iados rams his rapier into the blue-flame heart, doing 12 hp damage. Blue flame runs up the rapier, rushing off the blade of his rapier and up his arm, making him feel cold.

Elyn shoots the blue-flame figure with her bow. Her first shot does 9 damage, but her second goes wide.

Sister Agnes casts Hold Person on the foreman, but he saves successfully.

Noah strikes the blue-flame figure, getting a critical hit and doing 24 damage. The head of his axe now also has blue flame on it. He strikes again, doing another 15 damage. The creature collapses, but the blue flame heart continues to burn. As it collapses, it says, “Fly, fool!” to his human servant.

Ravokris sends an unseen servant to try to trip the foreman. The foreman tries to flee, but tumbles down face-first and rolls straight into the pit. There is a ragged round of applause from the other miners.

The other miners are very pleased, and tell Noah that he must destroy the altar, which they show the location of in the tailings. “They cover it with this so that when the crystal ships fly past so they can’t see it.”

Noah says, “of course, lead!” He then takes a big chop at the altar.

“He’s been feeding sacrifices to it and empowering it—we were too scared of him to do anything.”

Noah hacks the altar apart, and brings the pieces to the headman. “We will take it to the bishop.”

Sister Agnes casts a magic circle, binding the blue flame within it and pulling it off her companions.
[End Session 19]

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