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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 30 (September 5, 2021)

15 Chund
Noah attends court. There is a fair amount of coming and going, mostly of representatives of other countries who are concerned about the possible fate of Hanal.

Noah addresses the Princess and tells her that they had previously been doing mercenary work in the Spice Lands, where there were many stragglers of the Hanalian army there and also the orkish group that they made peace with. He suggests that it might be feasible to recruit them from the banner of the false Queen-Empress to her service.

“How strong was your sense of the hold that the Queen-Empress had on their officers?”

“They seemed loyal to her, but long-since eclipsed by loyalty to their troops, and many of the officers did not survive the battle.”

“So your sense is that these are free agents?”

“Primarily so. They may have some inclinations towards their own survival, but they are primarily free agents, trying to understand what’s next for them.”

The Princess calls out. “General?”

An armored figure approaches. “Your majesty. We could attempt to recover these troops, but if they have truly become mercenaries… we may be better off hiring Vultures. As much as I do not trust their steadiness, they are closer.”

“I do not want to leave any of my people abandoned in a foreign land.”

“Of course, your majesty. Young man—how many of them do you estimate survived? We know that four field armies of chivalry and two field armies of heavy infantry were in the army, but that they lost the battle.”

Noah weighs this, thinking about the fact that that represents some 30,000 regular troops plus auxiliaries. “I would wager that some 9000 survive, primarily from the heavy infantry. The chivalry took heavy casualties.”

“But you perceive no command and control structure in place?”

“It seems that they survive as a squad here, a company there. While they add up to 9000 in total, they are not a single united army.”

“It would take time to organize them, your majesty. I suggest that we send 100 people under your colors, by voller if our hosts will provide it, under your colors and perhaps those of the Kov of Snatterkaz. It will take time, but between loyalty and offer of payment, we might be able to gather some.”

Noah adds, “The last of our work as mercenaries was bringing spices north from the Spice Lands, from which we made a small fortune. I think that bringing the troops north with a large caravan of spices could make a good deal of money to support the cause.”

The group departs to their townhouse without a clear decision having been made.

* * *

Noah talks about the nightmares he has about people dying to the Blooddriven.

Iados raises the concern that some of the stragglers may be evil.

Noah turns to Ravokris. “You know elf stuff… wait, I don’t mean something like that. Do you think people here from the elves would be able to tell the high elves of the vollers in Hanal about the cultists shielding their altars with lead, so we could let them know about how they’re summoning creatures without the elves being able to find out about it?”

“One of the vollers I saw is from Singing Leaves. They have an embassy here in Canberry City.”

“Time to get our game face on. We need to get ready to go talk to the elves at the embassy without them thinking that we’re cultists when we talk about it.”

Noah drags Ravokris along to the Singing Leaves embassy.

Sr. Agnes heads to the lower city to engage in acts of charity and healing.

Iados heads out into the upper city and engages in shenanigans. He recruits someone to help him gin up a gambling game.

* * *

They approach the embassy of Singing Leaves and address the guards.

“Hail and welcome.”

“We’re here on behalf of the Hanalian Embassy.” Noah shows his token. “We have some things to tell you about the things you’re doing in Hanal.”

“Let me call for the House Captain.” After an elf in a starched clothing approaches, he continues, “these persons would wish to speak to the Ambassador.”

“Ah, do come in. And your names are?” The elf clearly is focused on Ravokris.

They introduce themselves, with Noah introducing himself as the bodyguard to Ravokris.

“Let me see if there’s a spot on the Ambassador’s schedule.”

The embassy is very elegant, with music being performed within. After a little while, he announces them to the Ambassador, who is in a courtyard with trees. The Ambassador is at a nine-foot tall crystal harp, and Ravokris believes him to be a Sea Elf.

“Cousin. What brings you to us?”

“We have information to bring you about the high elven vollers that have been active in Hanal. Firstly, we know about your mission fighting the cultists there. It goes deeper than you can imagine. The Queen-Empress serves the same master. It goes all the way to the top. Second, you know how you’ve been detecting evil altars and striking them from the skies? They’ve been hiding them under sheets of lead, so you can’t find them. You need to do something about that. Also, they’re planning an ascension.” Noah keeps babbling on, interspersing helpful things and random comments. He mentions both the removal of the bonewater dust and clingfire from the enemy.

The Ambassador addresses Ravokris psionically, and after verifying their bona fides, continues.

“We have a man-of-war and a schooner bombarding those cults. Also, our accursed cousins of the Kinslaying have an armada as well. We are well aware of who the cultists serve.”

Eventually, Noah greatly offends them by mentioning Morgrath.

“We do not say the name of the Enemy, nor the name of the enemy you struggle against.”

“We just say that we struggle against the false Queen-Empress of Hanal.”

“The Queen-Empress of Hanal serves the most ancient of evils. But I would not say their names, nor those of the lesser evils like the Betrayer. But I will not say the names of the Pariah Deities.”

“Do you know their names?”

“We know both their use names, and their given names. But I will not say them, because I do not wish to give them power. But I will tell you what their use names are, and tell you what we know of their plans, if your master gives his permission.”

He consults with Ravokris.

“There are three of them. They are that which directs this disaster in the North, they are that which directed the war in the Spice Lands, they are that which directed the attempt to invade an entire country that contains an ancient gate. They are called She of the Bones, who leads them; her companion is called the One Beside. And the third of their number, who we think may possibly be in the process of betraying them, is called the One Other. They have destroyed six planes on their way here, before we stymied them in the First Age.”

At that point, Noah wanders off. The Ambassador commiserates with Ravokris about the difficulties of dealing with Noah.

* * *

Iados distributes some coins as largesse is the lower city.

The Guild contacts him with hand signals. “Who are you, and why are you here?”

“Who are you?”

“I represent the Guild.”

“Prove it.”

“Come with me then to the under ways and I’ll prove it.”

Iados throws him a silver coin and dismisses him, and he heads away.

* * *

When Iados discusses this, Noah suggests that forging ties with the Guild could be useful to the court in exile.

The group discusses some more, and then decides to head to the Spice Lands to gather up the rest of the army that fought there.

The Princess Anastasia arranges a fairly quick voller trip to the Spice Lands, and then they will be on foot in the Spice Lands.
[End session 30]

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Session 31 (September 19, 2021)
16 Chund

Noah gives the rest of the group armor with Hanalian symbology on it, and encourages them to wear it while representing Princess Anastasia.

The rest of the group largely agrees.

Noah also suggests using magic of Whimsey to disrupt their enemies.

The flight to Cese Mai is about 4100 miles, so it will take roughly 20 days. The Vad is accompanying them, taking his military voller.

Noah asks Ravokris whether he would be willing to use the helm again to make it speed up and Ravokris says that he is, but only as a last resort.

2 Tar-Chund
After 18 days of uneventful travel, while they are in the Spice Lands approaching Cese Mai, the lookout gives a strange cry (probably in the battle speech of the Vad’s house). The captain looks off the port side with a spyglass. He orders the voller to increase speed and for the crew to ready the ballistae.

They see a strange ship the like of which they have never seen. It has a strange bag of air floating above its deck, and the crew are humanoid ratpeople.

The Vad’s priest identifies it as a plague ship.

Noah suggests to Ravokris that this might be an emergency, and Ravokris grudgingly agrees. The captain says that at the current rate they are closing, it will take them 20 minutes to reach range of the disease globes.

When the skaven are almost within range, they come within view of one of the few vollers still in the air over the Spice Lands. That voller is an ordinary human-styled voller, but it is crewed by rakasta.

Noah asks, “Do you think that if we mirrored the rakasta voller’s broadside we could take it down?”

The captain replies, “We don’t even know how they fly—they have no black boxes to make them fly.”

The Vad’s priest speculates that puncturing the bag above it might help.

Two globes of disease burst on the deck, clearing both crews of the rear ballistae and killing two crewmembers.

The captain of the rakasta ship is obviously a paladin of Glordiadel, dressed in fancy clothes that are brilliantly white and trimmed in gold. They ram the rat ship. After some combat and some rat people are carried back, a robed rakasta throws a fire ball at the bag above the skaven. An enormous calamitous explosion erupts, and the flaming rat person ship plunges to the ground.

The rakasta ship is largely on fire, though still flying well.

“We must help that ship!” says Noah, and the vad agrees.

The rakasta captain reports that this is the third of those ships that they have downed in recent days, and that they will gratefully accept aid. The vad’s voller climbs up above them, and dumps drinking water on the burning ship, greatly aiding them in their firefighting.

They accompany the group’s voller back to Cese Mai.

4 Tar-Chund
As they travel, they note that many of the plantations have been reclaimed by the wilderness in the six months since they were last here. Cese Mai, however, seems to be rebuilding and repairing. The city also has several new mercenary groups augmenting its guard—recruited from some of the Hanalian remnants.

They return to the same inn that they stayed at before, where the innkeep is happy to see them.

Noah gives the innkeep a small bag of silver in thanks.

The innkeep reports that there is discussion of a permanent alliance with the South Kingdoms. Indeed, it is only since that has begun to be discussed the skaven have started attacking them. Some people fear that the skaven are preparing for an actual invasion. Even the bishop has started to become concerned. He suggests the group pay a courtesy call to the bishop, which they agree to.

They also note the presence of a person in the uniform of a lieutenant of the Hanalian infantry, eating with a local woman. Noah approaches him, and says that he represents the Queen-Empress-in-exile’s court and suggests that he and his allies rejoin the Hanalian cause to retake their homeland.

“I have taken service with the city, and though I remember fondly my homeland, I still do not understand why I was invading here in the first place—there is a fog about the whole thing. There is an encampment with perhaps a full legion; they have a ‘general’ commanding them, though I am sure he was no more than a captain before they were captured. They have since been given their liberty—you might talk to their leader. As for me… we are to be married in six months. I do not intend to return.”

Randall the Purified is both the archbishop of Glordiadel and the regent for young Henry, the titular ruler. Randall is new as archbishop; there was a different archbishop six months ago. It’s slightly awkward that he is both archbishop and a member of the royal household, but since he will not remain as regent, it’s accepted.

5 Tar-Chund
About half a day’s ride out from the city, the group approaches an encampment. There are fields being worked outside the encampment. There are also people keeping watch.

Noah greets them, tells them that he is Hanalian, of the same blood and history as them, and that with their aid they can retake their homeland, and that his plan could make them all rich.

They say that they must speak to the general, but that they can show him to them. (Noah gives them each 5 silver as largesse.) They travel across hoed fields where new plants are growing.

“They let us out of the prison eventually, and you gotta eat. Can’t blame them for holding us for a while—we killed a lot of their civilians. I don’t know why.”

They find the general, who is also doing work in the fields.

He recognizes Noah’s heraldry.

Noah tells him that Hanal’s higher-ups have degenerated into an even greater evil and depravity, and that he has entered the service of the Princess Anastasia’s court in exile. He also tells the general that the Queen-Empress has entered alliance with the most vile and evil cult.

The general is surprised to hear that the Princess Anastasia lives. “We had been told, when we were marched through the strange light, that she had been murdered by assassins…”

“She still lives. We believe that her enemies wanted her thought dead.” They show the general the tokens of the Princess.

Noah describes the group’s success as mercenaries escorting spices north. He suggests that they could make a deal with the remaining plantations, and carry the spice north to support the retaking of Hanal.

“We were sent here to capture an artifact. You know—there are at least a few other groups. I will happily join you. I was not meant to be a farmer. That is not something my family did in Hanal City. I will follow you, but we are only 1000 men. You will need more than that.”

“We also know of a group of orcs that I hope that we can bring in.”

“There are several other groups of a few hundred each, with their own officers, that we could not bring in. Some have turned bandits. Others simply remain separate.”

Noah talks about bringing them in. He also talks about uniting them with the Inquisition army and support from other allies, and mentions that they have destroyed the most dangerous of the false Queen-Empress’s weapons.

The general is very interested.

Suddenly, two tiny darts strike Noah and Ravokris. They each need to make poison saves, which Noah makes easily (taking 13 points of damage) and Ravokris fails, collapsing unconscious but only taking 9 points of damage.

Iados and Elyn see that one of the farmers nearby who was just hoeing, is slipping the blow gun back into the handle of his hoe.

Elyn tries to treat Ravokris, and Sister Agnes casts Lesser Restoration to heal the poison. Noah is stomping around the fields trying to find the assassin but ineffectually.

Sister Agnes says, “I will heal Ravokris. You must find the assassin before he strikes again.”

Elyn whispers, “It’s that man over there, pretending to be a farmer.”

“I suggest you head in his general direction as if you don’t know where he is, and then take him alive.”

Elyn follows the plan and grabs him suddenly.

He is taken by surprise by the grapple, but calls out “For the Queen-Empress and the Bones!” and spits at her, with teeth flying out of his mouth as he does, probably the verbal component of a spell. Elyn dodges her face out of the way.

Noah searches for a second assassin—two darts, two assassins, he reasons.

Iados shoots the grappled assassin with him, hitting him for 16 points of damage.

Sister Agnes detects poison and disease, and detects disease and poison. She sees another one with disease and poison in his hoe moving stealthily towards the general. She interposes herself and denounces the assassin. Noah rushes him, grabs him, and throws him to the ground.

Noah starts threatening him as he holds him down. The assassin repeats the same words and spits at him, but Noah makes his save easily.

Noah keeps punching the one he has captured in the face. He seems remarkably durable, though—his face seems to bend around Noah’s fist.

Elyn also notes that the one that Iados shot, which Sister Agnes stabilized, is slowly losing his form.

“How much does the Queen-Empress know?”

“She knows that we failed; she knows that you are here, for we have seen you.”

The general’s medic attends to Ravokris and murmurs, “Those are imperial intelligence, sure as I’m alive.”

Sister Agnes sees that there is clear, glistening ichor from the wound. “I think they’re doppelgangers.”

Noah tries to get them to switch sides. They agree. He suggests that they could be useful for the Princess Anastasia’s intelligence apparatus and asks Sister Agnes if she can put them in a zone of truth. She agrees to do so the following day.

Sister Agnes removes poison and disease from both Ravokris and Noah, and points out that they may be obligated to turn them over to the Archbishop.
[End session 31]


Session 32 (October 3, 2021)

6 Tar-Chund
They plan for the interrogation of the doppelgangers. Noah will be good cop, Elyn bad, and Iados will pretend to be a secret infiltrator serving the Queen-Empress.

Sr. Agnes casts zone of truth. They both fail.

“What are your names, you two?”

“Corporal Fredrick. He’s Lonzo.”

“How long have you worked for the Queen-Empress?”

“Her advisor spoke to us before we traveled south with the advisor, and he gave us instructions.”

“Were you doppelgangers before you left Hanal?”

“No, the priest of the Pale Bone gave us a silver liquid to drink. It hurt tremendously and changed us… You don’t want to ever drink that liquid. We were to maintain loyalty to the Queen-Empress.”

“Were you telling the truth when you offered to switch sides?”

“Yes. We have no love for the Queen-Empress after what she did to us. But who wants a doppelganger?”

“What can you tell us about the advisor? What did he look like?”

“Very pale—ivory white, you might say. And he looked like what the stories say that elves look like—I’ve never met an elf, mind you.”

Ravokris tells the rest that the Noldar—the first elves to switch to Morgrath—and their chief servants, the twilight elves and the shadow elves would match that description. The advisor now clearly serves only the Goddess of the Pale Bone.

They don’t know who any of the other doppelgangers were, but they did see 14 vials. Their vials were smashed after they drank the potions, so they wouldn’t know if there were vials before that. The group presumes that there must be at least 14, possibly more doppelgangers.

“Do you have any loyalty to the Goddess of the Pale Bone?”

“No, we hate her for making the potion we drank, but we are compelled to serve. Any of her greater servants can force us to obey them, and we would have no choice.”

“Did you report to anyone? Any leader in the field?”

“We used to—there was a lieutenant in the command group—but not since the great battle. The soldiers we met were tougher than we expected.”

“Where is the command group now?”

“All dead.”

“What was the army’s objective?”

“There was an artifact in Seachen we were to capture. We never reached it though—we couldn’t break through.”

“Are there any doppelgangers like you infiltrated into the Princess Anastasia’s council?”


“I think we can trust them.”

“You shouldn’t trust us! We can be compelled to obey any of the Goddess of Pale Bone’s greater servants!”

* * *
They spend a while discussing what to do next.

They decide to send Iados out with Mitsuki and Ravokris’s familiar crab as a scouting group, trying to find the orc community they met the last time they were in the Spice Lands, while the rest of the group travels along more slowly with a supply wagon.

Shortly after Iados heads off, several people notice that there is something shimmery in the forest, making the whole forest seem a little shiny.

Iados speculates that this is about fairies, talking to Ravokris’s crab.

Once the rest of the group points out the shininess, Sr. Agnes casts detect good and evil, and senses a diffuse holiness in the woods about them, but concentrated on the path ahead of them.

Ravokris advocates going to the Sunken Lands, because a whispering voice told him this in his ear.

They follow the path, which slowly turns over the course of several days, during which they encounter nothing dangerous. They come to the banks of a great river, but the path continues directly over it, sparkling all the way. Noah hacks at a tree to try to make a bridge of sorts. A voice starts criticizing him as soon as he starts cutting, and tells him to take the magic bridge instead. “I know her pretty well, being a brownie and all.”

After some discussion, they cross the magic bridge. As the last of them finish crossing the river, the sparkles behind them disappear.

They proceed onwards. After night falls, a large table drops out of the sky, and a variety of dishes drop onto the table without spilling a drop.

Noah says, “Well, this is very nice. Thanks Whimsey! Or whoever the patron of this is. Compliments to the chef, that’s what I mean.”

Sister Agnes heads to the far side of the road, eats cold rations, and reads scriptures of the Weeping Woman. After Noah notices, he stops eating and comes across and joins her.

After another 12 days of travel, with a table of food dropping each evening, they come to the edge of the Sunken Lands.

18 Tar-Chund
They have a tremendous vista on a canyon hundreds of miles wide and long. A long stone staircase switches back and forth down into the canyon. The staircase is cut stone, but ancient. The group follows it down. The deep, jungly forest below has different trees from anywhere else. They are palms and tropical fruit trees, heavy with fruit. When they reach the bottom, the path continues, but the sparkles are gone.

Noah knocks on several trees, calling out to any fairies or spirits within, but gets no response. Iados cuts open a fruit, and takes a nibble, finding that it tastes very good. It seems larger and more pure than any they have seen before. Elyn noted two separate pairs of hooves that have moved away very rapidly. They look like they ran, but since they are clearly separate pairs on opposite sides of the path, they must be two bipedal, hooved creatures.

There are birds and a small number of other animals in the forest, and there are signs of fruit that has been eaten by the animals. Iados leaves a small cut of food on the ground and a small lizard comes forward and eats it.

As they proceed along the trail, a humanoid figure with goat legs, covered in splotches of paint and carrying a staff with a multicolored spray of flowers at the top steps out of the woods into the trail.

“Hello!” says Noah.

“Hail!” says the satyr.

“Why did the great Whimsey lead us here?”

The satyr nods deeply at Whimsey’s name. “You look for lost ones?”

“Lost ones?”

“Lost people. In armor. Deep in jungle, in sleeping cloths.” The satyr continues to answer, in broken Common.

“Is there anything dangerous in the forest?”

“Yes. Green. Dangerous. Big like me.” He makes a gesture with many fingers.

“Oh, like skitter-skitter web.”


“What is your name?” asks Noah.

The satyr jumps back, looking afraid and horrified.

“No, not your true name. What can I call you?”


Iados asks. “If you don’t mind, could you give us an explanation of the forest and its people?”

“Ah. History! Many many turns ago, rock, big rock, sunken lands. Then: trees grow, brush grows, life comes, we follow, cousins follow, cousins follow. Then, many fear. Because of. Others fear because of,” gestures spiders. “We ask our Lady for protection.”

“What happened to the rock?”

“Other end of Sunken Lands. We make offerings of fruit and flowers to make it never move again.”

After some discussion, they figure out that “cousins” means centaurs.

“Do you know who cut the stairs? They do not seem like either satyr work or centaur work.”

“Short ones! Fur on faces. Very strong.”


He nods. “They come. They want rock that made place. Say very valuable. Lady talk to them. Lady talk to their holy one. She tell him they should leave. Their holy one tell them. They very mad, but they go.”

They also tell us that the spiders came 500 years ago, crawling down the wall without stairs. If they get too numerous, they would drink all their blood. But they don’t want to try to kill them all because they are part of nature.

Noah asks, “What happen if Big Lady not keep you safe?”

“We die.”

“Why would you die? Why would you not live like the others of your kind?”

“Others? There others?”

“Yes. And there is a great kingdom of your cousins.”

He is clearly surprised.

Noah worries that the big rock might be part of the Goddess of Pale Bone’s plans. He asks to be shown to big rock after they see the Hanalian refugees. The witchdoctor says that the Big Lady won’t mind if they see the rock—as long as they don’t try to take it.
[End session 32]


Session 33 (October 17, 2021)

19 Tar-Chund
As they head to the Hanalian refugee encampment, Noah asks the satyr leading them who is in charge, so they might be able to set up embassies. The satyr is confused by the whole concept and says that they don’t need to talk with anyone. Noah also suggests that they could get involved in fights up in the lands above.

Eventually, they reach some armored men guarding the path. The group approaches, with Noah and Iados in the lead.


“Greetings. We mean you no harm and bring you good news.”


“There’s fruit!” interjects Iados.

“The true Queen-Empress is willing to recruit you all, and lead you out of this valley to reclaim Hanal.”

“The Queen-Empress sent us here!”

Noah keeps trying to recruit them, but they think he’s trying to turn them against the Queen-Empress.

Sister Agnes interjects, arguing that a Queen-Empress condemned by the Holy Inquisition for demonism can’t be the Queen-Empress. They seem confused and suggest that they talk to the colonel.

The encampment is well-ordered and consists of several hundred troops. Noah estimates that it’s the remnants of a single field army, though obviously mostly

The colonel is an older man, with a favor in green on his breast. He mentions that they are trapped by mists—whenever they try to leave, they enter mists, which turn them around and lead them back to the encampment. He assumes that it must be a magic effect, but their magi are all dead and their priest can’t dispel it.

Noah tells him that they serve the Princess Anastasia, and that they think they could lead the army out. They begin telling him about the civil war, and the Holy Inquisition’s siding against the Queen-Empress for her demonism. The colonel calls for his priest, who is haggard and overworked.

“If we are to accept this… then we must be loyal to the rightful heir, though I find it hard to even think that.”

“The usurper has powerful magic to control the mind, as well as assassins among the army units to maintain their loyalty.”

“What do you propose then?”

Noah explains his plan.

The colonel is agreeable, but they keep being turned back by the mists—both when they attempt to climb the stairs and when they attempt to send scouts up the cliffs.

Sr. Agnes suggests that the mists may not impede them if they are trying to leave to follow the Princess Anastasia.

They agree, and when they try to leave this time, the mists do not block them, but then form behind the army to shepherd them out.

Whimsey plays around with them: Noah grows a prehensile tail. Iados begins sprouting bat wings. Sr. Agnes responds by putting on a spiked bracelet, twisting it against her wrist, and praying quietly to the Weeping Woman while engaged in some mild mortification.

Elyn notices some compound eyes up ahead. They keep going, and then the spider charges them.

Elyn shoots it with her bow as it charges, hitting it for 5 damage. Iados gets knocked forward by the spider onto a trap on the road, and he plunges down a chute.

Ravokris burns it with a fire bolt. Sr. Agnes casts beacon of hope. Noah bounces his blade off its chiton with the first attack, and then hits with the second. The solifugid bites Noah.

Ravokris burns it with a scorcher, and Noah stabs it repeatedly. Sr. Agnes heals Noah for 12, and then the solifugid hits Noah twice, one critically. Noah takes 43 points of damage.

Iados at the bottom of the chute is surrounded by animal bones. But he also sees 4 glowing spheres off to the side. Elyn comes down to join him, and identifies those as eggs. She also concludes that they’re close to hatching.

They finally kill the spider. Noah tries to cut out its venom glands, and successfully recovers one.

Elyn and Iados light the area below on fire, burning up the eggs.
[End session 33]


Session 34 (November 14, 2021)

20 Tar-Chund (Lammes)
The group discusses the fact that it would take approximately two months (55 days) to travel across the Sunken Lands to reach the rock that carved out the Sunken Lands.

Noah makes some oblique invocations of Whimsey asking that they be carried by giant eagles. Ravokris and Elyn both hear a strange voice in their ear, asking if they were willing. Elyn immediately responds that she always is, and Ravokris just says “yes” definitively. Immediately after, there is a sprinkling of rainbow dust over both Ravokris and Elyn, and they fall to the ground and start elongating. Giant, long limbs sprout from them, and they become weird creatures like centipedes with giant limbs. Elyn dashes, and finds that she moves at twice the speed of a horse.

Sr. Agnes rides on Elyn, as does Iados. Noah mounts Ravokris. But then, as Elyn expresses discomfort with the idea, they transform back into their normal forms.

Finally, they head up the stone staircase out of the Sunken Lands.

They expect a trip of about 8 days to make it to the orkish tribe they had previous contact with.

The group heads in the right direction for part of a day when Elyn hears heavy tromping. She recognizes it as the giants that they met much farther north. Finally, a group of 5 giants crest over the pass—the two that they recognize, plus three littler ones.

“Oh! We know little people.”

They have a friendly conversation with the giants. Noah asks if they might want to join their war in Hanal. The two older giants express some interest, but say they need to talk to their parents first.

Several days pass as they travel.

25 Tar-Chund
As they walk along, a shadow falls over them of an enormous chariot being drawn by 4 griffins.

“You there!” someone calls down.

“Have you seen a group of giant children traveling through here?”

“In fact we did!”

“Which way did they go?”

“Before we tell you that, who wants to know?” asks Iados.

“Naleander the Witch.”

Noah points. A small bag of silver drops to the ground.

“Pray that you did not lie to us.”

“Before you go, did you know that the Queen-Empress is a demon-worshipper?”

“Yes, it’s obvious. But it is pointless. She is uncontrolled. She will not be tolerated. You must be disciplined, and control your urges.”

The rest of the day passes peacefully.

26 Tar-Chund
Aware that they may have betrayed their friends (but without intending to), Sister Agnes casts sending as soon as she has it prepared: “Naleander the Witch is after you, knows position, Has chariot, upset. If you did something to upset, make up for her, powerful. Or flee.”

They receive the message back: “Uh-oh - thank you, we's keep going fast and change direction. Not giving back cat, she was mean to it. We run.” (They get a bonus 50 xp for warning their friends.)

Several days later, they reach the edge of the ork tribe.

28 Tar-Chund
Noah asks to speak to the chief. The buildings are more substantial, there are more people, and there are rudimentary fields and many pigs.

“Ah! You return! You were right. The humans do not mind us taking this land and being here and farming, as long as we do not raid.”

“I have a proposal for you. As it turns out, the Queen-Empress is a demon cultist.”

“Demons not good. Not good.”

“True. So we’re trying to reform the legions here to retake Hanal for the Princess Anastasia. You could return to your old homes. Also, there is much money to be had as we move spices up to Canberry.”

“Clever disguise. Some farmers pay us to protect them from bandits, because so many bandits. We not bandits any more. I give 6 regiments.” That’s 600 orks.

Noah says that they will begin the trip back in 40 days, to give them time to gather up more stragglers.

Sr. Agnes suggests that they could send around companies of soldiers to bring in the rest of the stragglers, now that they have something of an army.

“Yes. We do this. But… there strom 4 days northeast. He is arrogant, not treat with us. And he has adjunct—adjunct have strange eyes.”

He calls for the shaman. “Avoid adjunct. Avoid. Much more powerful than me. I could feel it.”

“I still want to reach the strom.” Noah says.

“Strom powerful.”

“Do we know the strom’s name?”

“Strom Amrapt. Lyan of Paranswarm, powerful warrior.”

“Does the adjunct know the downward arrow?”

“No. Magus. He had a priest as well, but priest died in battle despite not being at the front.”

Sister Agnes explains the importance of not seeming associated with chaos—a Lyan of Paranswarm is neither good nor evil, but utterly dedicated to law.

Noah decides that he needs to cut off his own tail, to avoid being perceived as a creature of chaos. He does so, and Sister Agnes heals him and reassures him. The tail crawls away, with the bloody injury at the end of it stopping bleeding.

It’s now clearly independent of Noah, and becomes something of a pet for Ravokris.

Severed Hand -- HD: 7 HPS: 35 AC; 14 St. 6 Int: 15 WI: 15 Dex: 15 Con 10 Char??? Friendly, enhances any spell you cast while wielding the hand and tail like a wand by +1 level / +1 competency bonus, etc. It CAN be healed separately.

They head over towards the Strom’s area. The four days of travel are uneventful.

At the end of the 1st of Raz, they arrive at an encampment. It is extremely well-disciplined, with sentries who have crisp, pressed uniforms, tents in regular rows, and a larger tent in the center. They are flying banners of Hanal, of Paranswarm, and of a specific noble. Iados notes that there are pit traps placed to the east, south, and north of the encampment, although strangely not to the west, which is the direction they’re approaching from.
[End session 34]


Session 35 (November 28, 2021)

2 Raz
Noah talks to Ravokris about renouncing Whimsey. Sr. Agnes gives him some advice on ending his apostasy, hopefully in a way that is not fatal. Sr. Agnes suggests confessing to a Paranswarmian priest, but choosing the priest very carefully—and perhaps having her sound the priest out about it first.

Iados guides the group through the southern approach, bypassing the pits as they go. About 40 feet away, a voice calls out, “Halt!” Uniformed soldiers at the gate are clearly observing them carefully.


“Who approaches the encampment of Strom Amrapt?”

“I am Na-Strom Noah of Allendale. I come as a representative of the Princess Anastasia.”

“The traitor?”

“There are complicated matters that must be discussed in private with the Strom.”

“You are of the blood. Will you give us your parole that you mean no violence?”

“I will.” Noah whispers to the rest. “No violence, understand? But still investigate the adjunct.”

Noah and Sr. Agnes are led in to see the Strom. The others are admitted within the outer perimeter, but not permitted within the inner perimeter.

The Strom greets Noah, who remembers him vaguely from childhood. The Strom knows Noah’s father well and knows Noah from childhood. Noah says that there are private matters to discuss with the Strom, and he negligently dismisses the junior officers when Noah asks. He says that he’s working hard to figure out a way out of their current situation, and Noah says that’s part of what he wanted to talk about.

Sr. Agnes asks for permission to call a blessing of the Weeping Woman to protect against chaos, and the Strom readily agrees. He mentions how glad he has to be with a cleric of any sort, since his died in the battle—after being with him for decades. (Sr. Agnes offers a prayer for his memory.) She casts a magic circle, warding against fiends.

Meanwhile, Iados, Elyn, and Ravokris are walking around the encampment, talking to soldiers. Iados asks if there is a mage here, and is told that the Queen-Empress’s adjunct to the Strom is the only mage among them. They attribute much of their survival to the adjunct’s magic, though more to the Strom’s acumen in command.

The adjunct has taken a small squad to the north to see if there’s a way past the trolls to the north that are cutting off their further progress north. The soldiers expect the adjunct to return within a few hours.

Meanwhile, Noah is explaining to the Strom about the chaos cult devoted to the Pariah. He then says that the Queen-Empress is in league with the cult, and may be the source of the corruption or may be a doppelganger placed on the throne. There’s a surge of red light at the magic circle, nearly overwhelming Sr. Agnes. The Strom spins and reinforces it with his circle of law, hedging out the force. He sends some soldiers to check on the north side of the tent, and they report a black shadowy form over a stone with a blue flame in it. Noah starts shouting orders to not touch it, because it can possess people. The Strom charges it, sword drawn, and quickly dispatches the shadowy form, but the blue flame still glows in a stone on the ground. Sister Agnes asks for things inimical to a creature like that—holy water and a blessed holy symbol of the Lord of Orderly Darkness. She then casts banishment, and the blue flame winks out.

Iados, Ravokris, and Elyn travel north to a rude encampment of a group of trolls, taking about two hours to get there. The trolls are huge rock trolls, ranging from 13 feet up. A figure in mage’s robes is, in Giantish, exhorting the trolls to attack the encampment. The trolls are becoming worked up at the mage’s words, beginning to talk about taking blood and flesh from these invaders in their lands. Ravokris can understand this and translates it to the rest of the group. One littler troll is bothered by this, but he’s being overridden by the chief. Iados is positive that the mage is the adjunct. Iados grabs the group and seeks to hurry them back to warn the camp.

The Strom says that it might have been able to possess him if it had come upon him unaware, or while sleeping, but it could not when he was ready and prepared. They explain that’s why they created the magic circle. Noah also suggests that this may raise questions about the loyalty of the adjunct, since he is the representative of the Queen-Empress. The Strom agrees that that is a concern. They assure him that there must be a cultist or cultists within the camp, because they have only seen those demon stones in the possession of cultists.

Iados, Ravokris, and Elyn hurry back into the camp, warning that the rock trolls are coming and that the adjunct convinced them to attack. The Strom realizes that the adjunct must have sensed that the demon was dispatched and then sought to have the trolls attack. He orders the light powerbows repositioned to defend the north approach.

Noah and Sr. Agnes head north as a picket of sorts. Sr. Agnes intends to attempt to dispel a suggestion if that’s causing the trolls to come in, while the rest of the group prepares for an assault.

As the enormous rock trolls begin approaching, Noah calls out to them to stop, in Giantish. The small one in the back stops, but the others keep going.

Noah offers that they may abandon the camp within three nightfalls, and that draws the interest of one of them with bones in jewelry, who begins almost negotiating.

At this point, the biggest one and some of the others enter range and Sr. Agnes casts dispel magic on them, while Noah explains what she is doing. Sr. Agnes feels a surge of magic as she casts the spell at 4th level. Almost all of them stop and seem confused, but the largest one and one other keep coming. Noah and the chieftain charge at each other.

Iados scatters ballbearings in front of the other one who’s charging, and stops that one, but the chieftain ignores it completely and seems to be in a rage. Noah slashes it twice, doing substantial damage.

Sr. Agnes casts Remove Curse on the chieftain hoping that it will help.

The chieftain hits Noah twice with its axe and bites him, dealing heaps of damage, though reduced by Noah’s rage.

Elyn shoots the chieftain with her long bow, missing once and hitting once for 11.

Noah misses once, then gets a critical hit, dealing 34 hp of damage in one blow.

Iados moves out of the danger zone and then looks around, trying to find the adjunct. He doesn’t see him in the open and heads into the trees to search for him there. He sees no sign of him, and is pretty sure he isn’t here—unless he’s using an invisibility spell.

Ravokris casts Agannazar’s Scorcher at 3rd level at the chieftain. The chieftain rolls a 1 on the save and takes 24 hp of fire damage.

Sr. Agnes heals Noah for 17 hps of damage.

The chieftain hits Noah for a total of 26 hps of damage, after the substantial reduction for resistance.

Elyn shoots the chieftain again twice, doing 22 hp and bloodying it.

Noah smacks him twice more, doing 34 hp of additional damage.

Iados is in the trees when a crow speaks to him. “He flew north! He flew north!” The crow has an odd rainbow sheen to its feathers.

He thanks the crow, which responds, “Welcome you are. Peck his eyes out!”

The troll chieftain finally falls. Sr. Agnes promptly casts Spare the Dying on it.

Iados tells the rest of the group about what he heard.

They speak with the shaman, who is willing to lead the rest back if the army is heading north anyway. Sr. Agnes points out that she thinks the magus cast a spell to control them, and that if they want to get revenge, they could come north with us. The shaman is interested in this, and asks for three days to heal the chieftain up and to try to talk sense into the chieftain. The trolls then drag the chieftain back.

At this point, the Strom’s army is happy to join up with the new army and march north with them.
[End session 35]


At this point, we're almost caught up. There's only one additional session that's happened that hasn't yet been posted. I'm curious if any of the readers of this thread have a preference on whether I continue posting entire sessions in one post, or split them up to continue posting once per week. I'm leaning towards splitting them up to keep the posting schedule more or less regular, but I'd be happy to defer to strong preferences.


Session 36 (December 12, 2021)

3 Ras
Several days pass peacefully in the Strom’s camp.

5 Ras
Iados wakes up and his wings feel stronger. Noah tries to caution him about the risk of flying and drawing the attention of things that might try to eat him. Later, when he’s alone, Iados tests his wings and finds he can now fly, for about 14 minutes at a time. He can fly at a speed of 40’, 30’ if he were wearing heavy armor.

The group travels over to where the trolls are. The shaman is still haranguing the chieftain. When he finally seems ready, he stands up, stomps his feet, and informs his people that they are heading north with the Hanalians. It takes them all of 15 minutes to strike their camp.

The shaman is named Wanjin; the chieftain Packe.

* * *

The next month is largely occupied with organizing the army, putting together a spice caravan, and so forth.

Noah seeks out the Vad’s priest and seeks absolution. He says that when the group was first in the Spicelands, he was more foolish than he is now, and had a dalliance with “the Goddess who shall not be named.”

“You had a dalliance with her??!!”

“No, no! A religious dalliance.”

“Ah, I see. She’s not unknown for that sort of thing.”

“As part of this, I contracted a form of lycanthropy—I am a weremouse.”

“Well, they’re usually harmless, except to food. They’re rare. I did know a were-dachsund once…”

“I’d like to remove this condition, as well as formally converting back to Paranswarm.”

“Ah, you want to renew your faith in the Darkness. That we can certainly do. So… your faith in Lord Paranswarm can be strong, but … have you been a lycanthrope for more than two weeks?”

“Yes, the only priest we met immediately was a minor one who could not help.”

“For more than a month?”


“Then I fear that you are a faithful weremouse in service of Paranswarm. We can work to help you control that better, though.”

* * *

Over the first week, a handful of stragglers drift into the camp, including a tinker, who modifies Iados’s armor to allow his wings to fit properly.

The second week is also peaceful, with some woodsfolk coming in to sell them turkeys. More small groups trickle in, though they’re starting to peter out. So do a variety of sutters—maybe not originally attached to the Hanalian army, but seeing opportunity, they decided to take it.

In the third week, the Strom calls them in to the command tent. “Our scouts report a substantial force marching from the north. We don’t know their allegiance.”

Noah suggests that Iados fly forward to investigate.

Iados finds a large company of cat-people, with some riding tigers. One of them comes forward, wearing the Downward Arrow of Paranswarm. Iados says that he is with a large spice caravan.

They have him approach a Dowager Plar of the Spicelands to address through a curtain. “My husband was Plar of the Twelfth Plantation of Cese Mai. I went north with my cubs to Canberry to stay safe, and my husband died defending the plantation. I gather that some of the plantation remains intact. Do you have room in your caravan for more spice, and the forces to defend it?”

“We do.”

“I will have my steward arrange matters for you.”

They arrange to escort their spices north. Noah also suggests that some of the Dowager Plar’s forces might be interested in joining them in their ultimate goal to unite with the Inquisition to rout out the demon followers in Hanal. The captain says that the Dowager Plar will likely send additional troops with them; she was shaken by the loss of her husband, but all the more so by the loss of her eldest cub.

Three days later, the steward arrives to negotiate the spice consignment. “The Plaress wishes to give to you five wagons of spice. The rest were fire-bombed, and the manor house… well, we are rebuilding a place to stay within the ruins. We would offer you a third of their sale price, and pay for 250 of the mercenaries that came south with us to return with you, along with 20 of the blood who are among the finest scouts, though not mighty warriors.”

Noah negotiates up to three-eighths, with a promise extracted to use the scouts only in their roles, not in open combat.

(Noah also gives him 100 silver to help with the rebuilding.)

Three days later, five carts, each with its own driver and an armed crossbowman, 250 mercenaries, and 20 very lightly built catfolk, hardly larger than hobbits. The scouts place themselves under Iados’s command.

They also make a trip in to Cese Mai to buy as much spice as they can, and they fill up a wagon with spices (50 pounds cinnamon, 2 pounds cloves, 500 pounds rosemary, 20 pounds of pepper, 200 pounds mustard grains). Noah also makes a visit to Jebediah, the spice plantation owner they worked with before. He is happy to send another partial wagonload, and also to coordinate with his neighbors (75 pounds of cinnamon, 500 pints of lemon juice, 200 lbs of oranges, 85 pounds of thyme. 40 ampoules of orange wine).

By the first of the month, they’re ready to march north. The orks and goblins joined them, the trolls arrive with two ogres and two war elephants with multiple tusks.

The journey to Canberry City will take approximately 210 days.
[End session 36. We're now up-to-date, and will post new sessions as they happen, splitting them in half to keep a roughly weekly posting rate.]


Session 37 (January 9, 2022)

1 Ke-Ras
The army/spice caravan begins its long march north.

Encounters rolled by ten-day-long week.

Nonetheless, they had no encounters on the entire trip north. On the 14th of Vaen, the caravan arrives in Canberry City. They have marched through the winter and into the early spring, spending most of the deepest winter marching in the subtropical areas of the Spice Lands. They are now heading into the campaign season, when armies can move and fight more effectively even in the north.

There is a bustle going on in the City. There appears to be a large contingent of the Ecumenical Council present. The Inquisitor General of Northern Drucien is there representing Paranswarm, many Glor’diadelian clergy, etc. Much to Ravokris and Elyn’s disappointment, there is no representative of Whimsey. There is an emaciated man wearing a red amulet, who is given a wide berth, so might be associated with Whimsey—Ravokris thinks he might be associated with the Mad God.

Noah meets with the Inquisitor General and reports. The Inquisitor General tells him that there will be a push shortly, with some support from other Paranswarmian nations and in conjunction with the plans of the Archduke of Canberry’s cabinet. He also informs them that in the time they have been abroad, the Archduke of Canberry has begun styling himself as Emperor of Southern Drucien.

Noah declares 3 rules for the war council to come: 1. No blurting out. 2. Show respect. 3. If you have a crazier idea than normal, run it by Noah or Sr. Agnes first.

Iados decides to fly patrols over the war council. Meanwhile, Elyn and Ravokris say that they’ll be ready to attack as soon as they’re told to do so. Who or what they expect to need to attack at the war council remains unclear.

A crystal voller settles in from above, and a number of figures descend on flitters. One is the Princess Curinirim, and another is the Proconsul of the Enclave of Zorplona-Moriquendarim, representing the Noldar and the other elves of Morgroth.

There are representatives of two groups of elves that are kept carefully separated, because the delegation of Eldar from the Forest of Singing Leaves and the Noldar might descend into the blood madness if they spoke directly at all—and even a third group from the Crystal Cities that can, marginally, talk to either of the other two groups.

The Empress of Hanal, as she is now being styled, greets na-Strom Noah and thanks him for his efforts.

She exchanges pleasantries with the Emperor of Southern Drucien.

She tells the war council that the capital of Hanal has been fully slaughtered, offered as a sacrifice to the eldritch. They will likely need to establish a new capital. Also, while two of the Eldritch are expected to be excluded altogether by an artifact, the third—the One Other—is now entirely within these planes, in the guise of Arthranax. He came in by stealth at the same time Gunnora, Sytry, and their followers arrived. But the followers of the other two of the Eldritch continue to plot and struggle. Taking Hanal back will cut off the snake at the head.

First, they discuss the current state of the war in Hanal. The troops of the Inquisition are bogged down in the East; they hold the east of Hanal, but they cannot advance. The death flight of the High Lady from Aufaulgautharim destroyed about two field armies of the enemy. The Archbarony of Ecsilias struck at a weak kovate in the south, and has retaken it.

The Inquisitor General says, “We can gate your force forward, with a war voller of the Noldar on the left flank and of the Eldar on the right flank. They must of course never meet, because while their lords can control themselves in the presence of each other as long as they do not interact, the bloodmadness could easily take their followers and drive them into disastrous conflict if they even approached each other. The Archbarony of Ecsilias will commit an additional field army—another 5,000 troops to augment your 2,000, with the guarantee of safety of the Archbarony itself from Canberry. We can also provide some chivalry—400 Lyans of Paranswarm and 450 Knights of Valor from our comrades in the Light.”


[Session 37, cont'd]
“When we kill the false Empress, many of the troops will rally to our flag,” says Noah.

“But in order to accomplish this, we must deal with the former Proconsul of Zorplona-Moriquendarim, now fallen entirely to corruption. We have sent no fewer than 4 specialized assassination teams against him since he became immobile beneath the city. Only one even reached his throne room, and it too failed. To defeat him, you must now enter into the city. The elven vollers can bombard the energy barrier until it falls, though even their bombardment will not keep it down for long.”

“Then we must find a way to take down the barrier permanently.”

“Indeed, na-Strom. You must move in quickly, with your officers and such of your troops as you can. You must then take down at least 2 of the 5 towers that support the energy dome around the city.”

Noah discusses the need to cleanse Hanal post-conquest, but also to avoid killing as many people as possible. The Noldar provides them with scrolls that will enable clerics to detect Eldritch, as a variation of detect good and evil.

Dame Brionna, the Captain of the Archducal Guard, offers to equip the army with 10 groups of her special investigation teams. They agree to augment those with coercers from the SHH to increase their capabilities to interrogate.

Noah also makes a pitch for Hanal to renounce serfdom after the reconquest. There is some discussion of this, but no firm decisions made.

“There are 300 blooddriven within the city, some of considerable age. There are also some soldiers of the false queen-empress, and likely some raucous cultists. Those would make for appropriate targets.” The war council discusses the blooddriven—corrupted entities that drink blood, combining many of the worst features of both vampires and werewolves. The Empress Anastasia says that she never approved of the controlled releases of the blooddriven, but her mother stuck to tradition. Now, she fears they were always agents of the Eldritch. The blooddriven are made from humans, and grow more powerful and cunning as they age. The oldest blooddriven are powerful foes.

One of the Noldar comments that they, once, encountered a blooddriven that had once been a stone giant. It was extraordinarily difficult to defeat, but they were able to do so by bombarding it from the air.

The Armies of Hanal were huge, with the Iron Legions of Hanal feared throughout the North. They likely would have expanded across the entire north if not for the Crystal Cities.

“The larger island southwest of the Hanalian mainland is now almost entirely under the Kov of Snannurkaz. The Kov of Bormark has taken his city and the city of Ulrich into rebellion against the usurper. Also, Ecsilias has taken the city of Meziya on the coast. We could gate you in to either Meziya or Snannurkaz’s holdings.”

They consult a map. The Emperor of Southern Drucien suggests that they enter in near Meziya, so they do not need to cross the substantial channel, and then cut northwest to Dwarf Mountain, where they will be able to resupply from the Underdark and as necessary rest and recuperate, before pushing westward to the capital. Noah endorses the plan, after consulting with the dwarves to make sure they can have adequate supplies there. The dwarves, who had not said anything up to this point, promise that if the army reaches Dwarf Mountain, it will have all the supplies that it might need.

After the war council, Noah expresses his rage at the fact that they were unable to save the capital city, with just about everyone there dead.

After gating to Meziya, they will have about 350 miles’ march to Dwarf Mountain, and then another 350 miles’ march from there to Hanal City.
[End session 37]

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