Byzantium on the Shannon I


First Post
We're back!

I hope the folks who used to read this thread on the old messageboards will come back as Keith has worked so hard to catch up after numerous setbacks personal and private.

For those of you who remember where we were, Keith will post the newer stuff on: . That should start today!

This thread, if I'm not kicked off by an admin, will be used to re-post all the stories from the very first episode: "Ye Olde Adventurer's Tavern Goes to Hell" I'll try to post a couple a day until we get caught up.

Those of you interested in Palaestra should check out our campaign site:

Just to set the story off a bit, Palaestra is a game about a clash of cultures. On one side is the Empire of Iconium, a monotheistic, imperialistic human society. On the other is a more open, chaotic, and magical realm of Faerie. It is a game of magic and intrigue, hope and sorrow, humility and hypocrisy.

The game began with the characters heading to the city of Tavia, located in Thessala, the northernmost province of Iconium. Thessala is regarded as somewhat "wild" by the standards of Iconian city-folk, but much of the area has been settled for generations. The long border with Faerie means that fantastic creatures often sneak over the boarder to raid. Disputes between human, orc and Cimbri are not unheard of, but full-scale battles are fairly rare.

Tavia is noted as the first large city on the trade routes from Rolgulka. Cimbri tribal lands also border Thessala - notably the Credi, a powerful Cimbri people. This area is known for the slaves and slavers that come via Rogulka and the fine cloth produced by Tavian craftsmen -- made from wool harvested by the Credi. Credi wool is some of the most valuable in Iconium. The city is governed by Baron Severus Aprenos, who serves Count Pardus, a liegeman of Duke Dragases.


When starting off a new D&D game after being away from the game for many years, I decided to play with the two stereotypes of D&D (dungeons and taverns) in a hopefully unexpected way...
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First Post
Episode I: Ye Olde Adventurers' Tavern Goes to Hell

The Characters

Ingolf Egilson -A dashing, silver-tongued Ljosalfar (elf) of indeterminate means and skills, played by Keith Martin (Bard 1/Rogue 2)

Aoelif Snorrisdottir -A proud, if headstrong, female fianna, also a Ljosalfar, played by Jess Hanna (Ranger 1/Fianna 2)

Zaccara -A somewhat unkempt and brusque man-at-arms, played by Jon Hanna (Fighter 3)

Martaine - A devout servant of the human god Logos, played by Sean Holland (Rogue 1/Templar 2)

Nicasia Xerecian - The best-armed prospective nun anyone's ever met, played by Laura Holland (Rogue 1/Sorcerer 2)

Theodorus Commenos Alexius - A well-educated and well-spoken noble wizard played by Steve McDonald (Noble 1/Wizard 2)

Time Elapsed: 3/13/495 A.I. (Anno Imperialus)


The characters first met on the road towards the border town of Tavia, when all were forced to take the same detour around a washed-out bridge and through a small village along the way. The village was large enough to sport two inns, the signs of the White Bull and the Red Bull, but the White Bull was so popular and busy that the footsore travelers were forced to seek accommodation in the much less appealing Red. The sign outside featured a large red bull forcing himself sexually upon a white bull, and the common room was inhabited only by a drunken, aged elf woman, apparently sleeping off her excess of ale - in the excesses of her ale!


Albacorabraxamas, the gnomish innkeeper, provided hot if somewhat suspect provender, and the characters sat together as far from the snoring and smelly elf woman as the could. As the future party members were getting to know one another, the innkeeper revealed the source of his feud with the owner of the White Bull (the were brothers, and he felt he had been cheated out of his inheritance) and complained loudly that the dwarves he was expecting had not arrived. Soon after, the besotted elf awoke and began pressing her company upon Martaine, offering to tell his fortune. He declined, but Aoelif accepted, and was told by the old woman that she would soon face "Great danger but also great rewards." Ingolf noticed that this was suspiciously like the fortune she had apparently foretold the innkeeper, and so he also paid a silver to discover that he would soon face "A time of trial, followed by great wealth." Ingolf declined the old hag's offer to "earn back his silver" and managed to suppress his gag reflex. Soon enough, nearly the entire group had been informed that they were to face "great tribulation followed by a vast treasure," or words very much to that effect, and they all began to dismiss the old woman as a fraud. In the meanwhile, Aoelif and Nicasia became interested in the slipshod construction of the inn, and noticed that what they had at first taken to be wooden beams were, in many cases, carven stone plinths of the sort sometimes seen in old druidic sites.

About that time several things happened. Aoelif began reading the runic fragments on the stones, and the somewhat smelly but definitely ugly human fighter Zaccara came through the door, bellowing for ale and dinner. Aoelif was able to piece together bits of warnings and a name from the now broken standing stones - Svear the Beautiful. Nicasia and the wizard also noticed the runes on the stones, but could make little of them.

The elvish crone descended on Zaccara almost at once, and his fortune was (not surprisingly) revealed to be striking similar to our own. She made him the same offer she'd made the rest of us, to earn his silver back, but the seemingly hard-up newcomer agreed. At about that moment, Aoelif gave a startled cry from the back of the room, and the old woman vanished, or faded, and her seeming ghostly form told Zaccara that if he could manage to lay her to rest, she wouldn't be forced to kill him, whereupon the entire inn dropped through the earth and came to a crashing halt somewhere below. Needless to say, the characters were more than a little bit surprised by this turn of events.

The group quickly concluded that the inn had been built atop some ancient cave or crypt, the roof of which had finally given way under the weight of the inn. A quick survey of the situation revealed that a falling plinth had crushed the hapless Albacorabraxamas, and that the kitchen was on fire. Some small space was available outside the inn's rapidly collapsing walls, and so the group moved out of the building. Then Aoelif quickly related what she'd learned from reading the fragments of the runes still visible on the ancient stonework: the inn had been built on top of the barrow of none less than Svear the Beautiful, a particularly horrible and evil servant of Balor, as well known for his penchant for rape as for his great ugliness.

Ingolf remembered songs about confirming his horrible nature. Svear was an incredibly ugly ljosalfar that joined with Balor early in the High King's reign. As Aoelif reported Svear was known for kidnapping young elf women and doing horrible things to them, but as one of Balor's chief's, little could be done to stop him. The story goes that when his eye roamed to the daughters of the Cimbri queen Bodiciea, she proposed a marriage in order to save her daughters -- or so she thought. On their wedding night, Svear drugged Bodiciea and raped her daughters anyway. Bodiciea managed to escape, raised an army of her kinsman and sacked Svear's castle.

Speculation that the group was within the barrow itself was more or less confirmed by the sudden appearance of a number of skeletal warriors, all bedecked in bronze and steel harness of many years gone by. These warriors were quickly dealt with, most being taken care of by the mighty arm of Zaccara and the twin swords of Aoelif - especially after it was revealed that the "nun" carried a sword and the nobleman possessed a powerful wand of Magic Missles! The group agreed to seek to leave the place as soon as possible. A passage was found on the far side of the inn that, after a short distance, led to a second branching passage. Talk of immediately seeking the exit was set aside when it was pointed out that the ghost promised death if she was not properly laid to rest.

About this point, by the nobleman discovered a skull set deep into a niche in the wall. It began to talk and quickly revealed that this was, indeed, the barrow of Svear himself. The skull went on at length about Svear's great hoard of treasure and magic spear, as well as his "wives" and where all of these things might be found. He also related that Svear himself, in shadow-form, was still lingering about, seeking release from his imprisonment. Release that could only be gained if a certain mystical condition was met: he needed the hair, freely given, of three elven princesses in order to pass on to the final rest. Not far from this spot, the party discovers the locked cells which contained Svear's "wives" - ghoulish creatures, twelve in all. As the group prepared to destroy these monsters, the door to Svear's final resting place itself swung open, to reveal mounds of treasure as well as the rotten corpse and enchanted spear of the fiend himself. Finally, the ghostly hag, no longer haggish but young and beautiful, reappeared, and revealed that she was the daughter of Bodiciea, the elven woman who had finally overthrown Svear and imprisoned his spirit. She pleads once more with the company to disinter her bones, which were resting uncomfortably beneath his coffin, and properly bury them.

"Here! I was here all along, my mother never found my bones beneath the tomb Svear had built for himself. In her anger she cursed my murderer's spirit to be forever locked in this room until three golden tresses from three Faerie princesses were laid at his feet -- something she knew would never happen. She did not know I lay under this stone. My mother ended up damning both our spirits! Free me free me now!"

When the group demurred, she became very wroth, and moved to attack them, but Martaine through the power of his faith was able to drive her away. Finally a plan was concocted to deal first with the shade of Svear, and then his ghoulish wives. As the plan was put into action, however, the doors to the various cells sprung open and Svear himself arose to do battle. The party found itself caught between 12 hungry and insane ghouls and the potent shade of Svear. Before weapons could be raised, the shade spoke, offering the same deal that the skull had promised: return with the tresses, freely given, of three elven princesses, so that he might pass fully into death, and he would relinquish both his treasures and his enchanted arms, as well as the bones of Bodiciea's daughter. Ultimately a deal was struck: the group agreed to his terms, and the fianna swore on the bones of Finn to return, though it grieved her to do so. In return Svear offered up the bones of Bodiciea's daughter on the spot. After this parley the group quickly were able to find the exit, and returned to the village to see the smoke and fires of the burning inn building still rising from the pit into which it had sunk. All agreed to travel on together for the time being, and began making plans to journey on to Tavia.

Notable Quotes

"You'll pay me to sleep with you?" - Zaccara to the crone (Jon)

"Okay, that cover's blown…" - Nicasia, the woman who claimed to be headed for the nunnery, as she draws a hidden sword (Laura)


First Post
Episode 2: Cold Duck, Pistachios, Cheese and Beer


Ingolf Egilson (Bard 1/Rogue 2) - Keith Martin

Aoelif Snorrisdottir (Ranger 1/Fianna 2) - Jess Hanna

Zaccara (Fighter 3) - Jon Hanna Martaine (Rogue 1/Templar 2) - Sean Holland

Nicasia Xerecian (Rogue 1/Sorcerer 2) - Laura Holland

Theodorus Commenos Alexius (Noble 1/Wizard 2) - Steve McDonald

Time Elapsed: 3/14 — 3/16/495 A.I.


After recovering their horses from the opportunistic innkeeper of the Red Bull, who was intent on auctioning them off (believing everyone in the White Bull must surely have perished), the group headed on towards Tavia once more, stopping to camp along side the road.


The next day, they came upon the first signs of human civilization - a small village, complete with a chapel, the beginnings of an imperial road, and a milestone from which they discovered they were only six miles away from the city.

Several of the locals, upon learning that the group was bound for Tavia, encouraged them to support the Lavender faction in the upcoming chariot race, and Ingolf became interested in this idea when he learned that the charioteer was a Cimbri. Martaine took a moment to chat with the local pastor and pray at the chapel.

The rest of the party briefly talked with a traveling dwarven merchant who was, unfortunately for the group's olfactory organs, transporting a large load of musk-ox wool toward the city. The dwarf, Oskar, discussed his frustrations with the complex tax laws of the human empire but clearly looked forward to the profits he expected to reap from the tough ox hides once he'd sold them. The group, holding their noses, bid him farewell and quickly covered the final few miles into Tavia before the noon meal.

Tavia was bedecked all in its celebratory finery when the group approached, with many banners and pennants visible glorifying the empire, the church and Saint Petronella, whose feast was approaching. At the city gate the guard informed them that their best bet for lodging was to be had at the Bad Pony, an inn close by the Cimbri gate. The inn's sign, portraying a pony delivering a solid kick to the nether region of its would-be master, was easy enough to spot, and the group found stabling and accommodation there at a reasonable rate.

While they munched on cold duck, pistachios, cheese and beer, the group learned that the chariot race inaugurating the festival of Petronella was to be that very afternoon. The two Alfar as well as the human warrior Zaccara elected to head for the race grounds, and after Aeolif was generous enough to secure a bottle of excellent wine they headed back out of the gate, in the company of a satyr, named also staying at the inn.

Meanwhile, Martaine headed for the nearly completed cathedral in the center of the city to present himself before the Metropolitan and offer his services as a teacher. Although he was not able to meet with the Bishop, Martaine did meet Father Photus, the priest responsible for the local orphanage. Photus relayed that in the event Martaine was unable to find employment in the cathedral school as he hoped, his assistance was more than welcome working with the orphans. Martaine took the opportunity to pray before heading towards the fairgrounds without the city walls to find his newfound friends once more.

Theodorus for his part visited the College of Abjuration, a huge, 8-story maintained by the college of wizardry. He unfortunately made a rather poor first impression, and the dean of the college seemed less than impressed with Theodorus' plan to study the sorcery of nearby Rolgulka and his reference to Tavia being in the dark "hinterlands" of the Empire. Nevertheless, Nicodemus, the dean, did affirm Theodorus' right to study at the college, assuming he could pay of course. He also added a warning -the college only accepted students who were also devout churchgoers. Theodorus made a few attempts to smooth over his initial miss-step and then left for the upcoming chariot race.

Nicasia took advantage of the temporary chaos to slip off alone and get a feel for the layout of the city. She walked from quarter to quarter, marking the boundaries of the noble district, merchant's district, laborer's district and the slums as she went. Although Tavia was not as clearly and distinctly segregated as Iconium, Nicasia was easily able to discern the seedier parts of town as well as the more genteel. After her little walkabout he elected to join the others at the race.

Theodorus, Martaine and Nicasia had little trouble spotting the satyr that accompanied the others from the inn, and soon all were deeply embroiled in the placing of wagers on the upcoming race. The satyr seemed a bit short of coin, and tried to place a bet with a small ivory trinket depicting a sylvan god of fertility, but the bookmaker balked at this offer. Zaccara bought the item from the faun and finally all bets were placed. The race itself did not go as many of the group were hoping, and in the end the chariot championed by the orange faction, representing the guildsmen and merchants of Tavia, had the victory. Zaccara won back the money he'd invested in the ivory statue and had the statue to boot; Nicasia, who had carefully hedged her bets, broke even, and everyone else lost money, a largish amount in some cases.

While the suddenly poor members of the group were deciding what to do next, a member of the guard approached with an offer. Part of the feast celebrations included a tournament of arms, in which volunteers representing wolves would attempt to steal sheep guarded by members of the baron's own household. The "sheep" were nothing but bags of wool, although each contained a reward of some sort and one, if stolen, would give the successful wolf the chance to participate personally in the upcoming mass. After securing the assistance of the satyr, the group decided to try this tournament which began early the next morning, and retired to their inn to plan and celebrate.

A few choice spells were selected and the outline of a plan was formed - the speedy satyr would attempt to grab the sheep while the others held the guardian shepherds at bay. As all plans, this one quickly disintegrated on contact with the enemy, and soon the field was little more than a pitched melee, which the crowd seemed to enjoy immensely. With a few well-executed spells and some solid blows from their padded clubs, the party managed to remove three "sheep" from the circle, and although one member of the "wolves" was rendered unconscious in the effort, fully three times that many "shepherds" were similarly out of commission.

The baron himself opened the bellies of the sheep and presented the prizes to the assembled group - a silver bracelet with charms representing Saint Petronella, which went to Nicasia, a bottle of fine perfume made by the baron's wife which was awarded to the satyr, and a grand prize of full board for the entire group at The Partridge, Tavia's finest inn, along with the chance to participate in the morning mass for a single member of the group.

The party returned at that point to their inn, and briefly discussed possible dispensation of the bones they were still transporting. No resolution was reached on that issue but it was decided to wait for the upcoming druidic festival concerning Arleta's Well before doing anything.

Notable Quotes:

"Are you a Justinian by any chance, brother?" - local Templar and "Shepherd" after being laid low by a vicious sneak attack by the club-wielding cleric Martaine.

"No, I'm a Valerian, but I come from a city parish." - Martaine's reply.


First Post

I'm SO happy to see this story hour is back! I was worried your house had collapsed below ground or something...


First Post
Episode 3: Treat with Lightning, or Three Arms, No Waiting

Thanks, Blarg! It's great to be back....

And now...

Three Arms, No Waiting

After their triumph in the Shepard's Tournament, the characters elected to reward themselves with an evening of merrymaking and feasting at the Bad Pony, where they had (for the time being at least) taken up residence.


After their triumph in the Shepard's Tournament, the characters elected to reward themselves with an evening of merrymaking and feasting at the Bad Pony, where they had (for the time being at least) taken up residence. The next day, all decided to attend services at the Cathedral in celebration of the Feast of Saint Petronella. Martaine was elected to represent the group in the service and discharged his duties well. The group enjoyed watching the procession of human nobles into the Cathedral, and everyone was a bit taken aback at the presence of two Rolgulkan nobles, both ogres, who interestingly entered in the presence of the former Earl of Tavia, Iustus.

After the homily, a young human girl entered leading a (presumably tamed) lion on a lead, representing Petronella's humble shepherdess origin as well as the details of her martyrdom. There was a bit of commotion during the offering, when the male ogre, Lord Vihar, presented the church with a rich tithe - several hundreds of gold pieces at a minimum. Things were further disrupted when he spoke before the entire assembly, offering to the Bishop a plot of land in the Valley of Thunder, which apparently is his family's ancestral home, on which to build an abbey or monastery where human and Rolgulkan alike could study the word and faith of Logos. No one was quite sure what to make of this offer, least of all the Bishop, or of the ogre's insistence on kissing the aged cleric's ring before resuming his seat. Finally, after a few frantic hand gestures between Ingolf and Martaine, the Bishop got the idea and things were more or less restored to normal.

Back at the Bad Pony later on, the Rolgulkan's offer was on everyone's mind and the conversation revolved around their true motives. The issue of Bodiciea's daughter came up once again, and Ingolf and Aoelif both elected to make the journey to the nearby Cimbri kingdom of Credi to discuss matters with the druid there in hopes that the remains could be laid to rest during the festival of Arleta's Well. Zaccara, Nicasia and Martaine offered to accompany the two Alfar on the journey, but Theodorus had pressing business in Tavia to deal to and so had to beg off the journey.

None of the humans in the group had made the journey into faerie before, and all were somewhat overwhelmed at first by the vibrant, lush landscape that greeted them on the second day of their ride. The feeling of being in a living and growing world grew every stronger as the group passed deeper into the faerie realm, and it was only the sudden and unexpected crash of a massive rock or boulder into the path in front of the lead horse the disrupted the tranquility of the journey. In moments, a huge three-armed giant had blocked the path before the five travelers, and in broken Gaelic it demanded tribute before allowing the group to pass on. Although the group were not adverse in principle to the idea of tribute, the tribute demanded - namely, the creature wanted to eat on of their number and his mount - was a bit more than they were willing to pay. A quick attempt to fool the Athach into thinking that a wagonload of fat human merchants was just behind the group failed, and negotiations at that point broke down rather suddenly, and battle was joined.

A battle of five against one is generally a short and lopsided affair, but not when the one stands a full 18 feet in height with the superhuman strength to match. The group held nothing back; Nicasia peppered the creature with her magic while Zaccara and Aoelif moved to engage. Aoelif hurled two javelins of lightning at the beast but neither found the mark. Zaccara engaged it boldly from the front with his shield held high, and suffered terrible blows from the thing's massive club in so doing. While Zaccara was being pummeled, Ingolf moved quickly into a flanking position where his natural affinity for finding an opponent's weakest spot could come into full play. Zaccara and Ingolf thus were able to wear down the Athach slowly, while Martaine and Aoelif did there best to add to the creature woes and distract it and Nicasia maintained the barrage of magic missiles. Zaccara was laid low after suffering numerous bruising blows from the Athach's club, and Aoelif was nearly overcome by the creature herself when it finally fell.

A short search uncovered the creature's crude lean-to and it's disgusting larder of other, less fortunate travelers, along with the treasures the beast had gathered to itself. The bodies of its previous victims were removed from the beast's lair and laid side-by-side for a funeral pyre by Martaine and Ingolf. The creature's treasure was stowed away and it's head removed as proof of the mighty deed before the pyre was fired and the group continued on the way towards the castle of king Arcois.

Several hours later, the group was met on the road by two of the king's warriors. The two cimbri were quite impressed with the slaying of the Athach, even more so when Ingolf, in proper bardic fashion, bragged of the group having felled the creature with no losses themselves. The two cimbri offered to herald the group's arrival and assured them that King Arcois would offer a rich bounty for the slaying of such a troublesome pest. The group met briefly with the druid Deune, and related the tale of Bodicea's daughter to him. He assured them that her bones could be properly laid to rest during the festival and encouraged them to relate this tale to the King, as Bodicea was his ancestor and anything regarding her and her daughters would be of interest to him. The King himself met with the group and presented each of them with a gift of jewelry in accordance with their character and participation in the battle. After all had agreed that he was generous and wise, they retired to his hall for a feast in celebration of the Athach's death. During the feasting, Ingolf explained to the king the events surrounding Svear's shade, Bodicea's daughter and the party's need to secure the tresses of three faerie noblewomen in order to break the curse that held Svear imprisoned and so fulfill the terms of their bargain with him. Despite Ingolf's initial misgiving, King Arcois seemed to understand the situation well and offered to speak with his daughter on their behalf. He did so, and she also spoke with the party, agreeing to help them if one of them could bring her a draft of water from Arleta's Well - which was the traditional reward for anyone wining one of the three contests held be the druids in connection with the festival. The contests - a bucket race open to women only, a spear throwing contest, and a greased pig catching event - all seemed within the scope of the group's abilities, and Ingolf avowed that they would do their very best to come first in at least one of the challenges.

With that, the tired but hopeful group dispensed for the moment with the weighty matter of shades, ghosts and ancient curses, and got down to the present matters of wine, beer and venison, and the promise of warm beds and the king's hospitality.

NPCs Encountered

Arcois -- King of the Credi. A barrel- chested cimbri with two lighting bolts tattooed on his chest, giving him the power to cast lightning bolts.

Nectu -- The king's independent, golden-haired daughter.

Deune -- Arcois' druid.

Lord Vihar -- a Rolgulkan warlord. He's 10' tall with tusks, horns -- 700-odd lbs. of incarnate menace. Surprisingly, Vihar is an eloquent creature. He controls the Vale of Thunder, the pass through which trade passes between Rolgulka and Tavia.

Lady Zlata -- Vihar's wife? A Rolgulkan noblewoman, strangely dressed in the height of Iconian fashion (XXXXLT sized.)

Earl Iustus Avouris Pleustes -- the one-time ruler of Tavia. The Earl has a lot of holdings in the area, still very much a force to be reckoned with.

Various members of the imperial bureaucracy in Tavia- the kritai (judges) and the secretariat (the accountants)

Old One

First Post
Fails Will Save...

I was going to let you post more before jumping in, but am unable to restrain myself any longer:D!

I am glad to see one of my all-time favorite story hours finally making their way to the new boards! I hope that everything is OK now with friends and family and the adventures of the mixed Faerie-Iconic crew will continue!

Too many plot arcs still dangling out there...

Welcome back!

~ Old One

Good Grief

Take a few meagre months hiatus from 'my soaps' (ie: Story Hours) and just look what happens. Things go all to heck, or something.

Glad that I arrived when I did, even better to find that the original will be here in all it's glory, so I can hopefully catch up!

I'll chime in that this is most definately one of my favorite Story Hour Threads.

Hatchling Dragon



This is one of my favorites as well! I read Old One's reference to this campaign in his thread this morning (love the Faded Glory too Old One), and it reminded me that Byzantium hadn't been around for a bit. Glad to see it back!


First Post
Re: Fails Will Save...

Old One said:

I am glad to see one of my all-time favorite story hours finally making their way to the new boards!

Me too! One of the greatest, finally returned! I'm so looking forward to the return of another of the best!


First Post
Episode 4: Curse that Swine!

Thanks all for your kind words!


A few days went by, during which the group continued to enjoy Arcois' hospitality if not his actual presence. The days were easy and light and the nights taken up principally with feasting and story telling. The death of the athach, it seems, was an even bigger accomplishment than the group first believed. After a few days, the King prepared for the journey to Arleta's Well for the upcoming festival, and the party decided to travel with the Cimbri.


After an uneventful journey, the hillside containing the spring that fed Arleta's Well came into view, and all could see that the water flowed from a depiction of the Cimbri goddess Brigid. Arleta, the story went, was a young Cimbri woman who lived during the great war between the Seelie elves and the kingdom of Balor. A great battle was fought near the area, and the young shepherdess drew water to bring to the fallen warriors from both the Seelie and Unseelie courts. All who accepted her kindness were miraculously healed, and after her death (some claim by treachery) the well was venerated and some of the locals claimed she must have been divine. A small cult sprang up to worship the new demigoddess, and although it never attracted more than a handful of priests, many of the local Cimbri made offerings at the well. Eventually, the festival of Arleta's Well became an important part of the local Cimbri calendar, and numerous Cimbri nobles and factions would meet there every spring to celebrate.

Tents were pitched and camp was made, and over the course of the next day many more Cimbri from the nearby kingdoms of Helveti and Dumbrani joined the festival. The atmosphere was much like a fair, the wine and beer flowed freely, and the Cimbri were just as free with their company and favor as they were with the wine. Several Cimbri approached the members with trysting cookies -- wafers stamped with Brigid's visage and a seam for easy breaking. Taking half of a wafer was to accept a proposition from its giver. Ingolf at least did not pass up the chance for an assignation or two, although his human companions were seemingly a bit bashful. The King's bard announced that the festival of the well would begin the next day, and the first competition would be the dreaded greased pig contest. All of the characters seemed to realize that this was the best chance to secure a draught from the well and so claim a tress of hair from Nectu, the daughter of the Credi king, and so all agreed to enter the competition.

That evening, they feasted yet again with Arcois, and Zacarra of all people was propositioned by a somewhat drunken Cimbri woman. The rest of the group continued to enjoy the King's hospitality, and when Zacarra returned a few hours later, Ingolf noticed the women he'd met exchange something with a Helveti woman for a single gold coin. His curiosity piqued, he elected to shadow the Helveti woman to see what he could learn, but she spotted him tailing her and challenged him. Ingolf maintained that he was only seeking a discreet spot to answer the call of nature and she at least seemed to accept this explanation. She moved on towards the pavilion of the Helveti king, but Ingolf decided not to press his luck at that point and so returned to his friends. On being asked, Zacarra affirmed that he and his "date" had exchanged locks of hair. Ingolf and Nicasia both warned him that this could be of some occult or magical significance, but Zacarra couldn't imagine that anyone would actually pay for the chance to work magic on him, and seemed unconcerned, so Ingolf let the matter drop.

The next day was clear and bright, a good omen, and the field for the greased pig contest was prepared. The rules were simple - a contestant needed to hold onto the pig and maintain sole possession of it for a ten-count to be deemed the winner. No weapons or armor could be worn, nor magic employed - although cheating in this regard was well known and usually ignored or even expected. The contestants - Ingolf, Zaccara, Martaine, Nicasia and Aoelif, as well as a half dozen Cimbri and one halfling - were arranged in a rough circle around the cage containing the greased piglet. The Cimbri ollave (cleric) of Arleta who was the sole acolyte of that demigoddess removed the cage and the match began!

It appeared at first that it would be over in a trice when the human fighter Zacarra immediately managed to tackle and hold the pig right off. The ban on cheating was short-lived, though, when the halfling contestant revealed his sorcerous powers by Dazing the hapless fighter. The pig leaped free and dashed across the field with nearly everyone in hot pursuit, although Martaine did pause long enough to deal the treacherous halfling a wicked kick widdershins, despite his protestations that "All I did was cheat! Just a little cheating is all!"

Aoelif revealed her fenian abilities at that point by making a mighty leap nearly thirty feet to tackle the squealing piglet, but his greasy hide proved too slippery and he shot free once more, bolting for the corner of the pen. Humans, Alfar and Cimbri all gave chase, and many an elbow was flying to boot - all to the raucous cheers of the assembled crowd. In due time, Ingolf, Aoelif, Martaine and Nicasia all attempted to seize the pig, and a few even managed to hold onto it for a second or two, but the squealer's greased hide always enabled it to wriggle free. Any pretense at civility or sportsmanship went out the window, as the contestants spent as much time tripping and tackling anyone who got near the pig as they did trying to catch it themselves. Eventually, a few of the Cimbri were knocked insensible, and Zacarra finally managed to seize the poor piglet in what amounted to a death grip, whereupon the exhausted oinker finally surrendered to the inevitable and gave up his struggles. A huge cheer went up, and Arleta's ollave proclaimed Zacarra the winner.

The group approached the well, whereupon they learned that Zacarra was the first human in eight years to have won a draught. He took the silver cup presented and scooped out his reward, then raised it high and proclaimed that in honor of his new Cimbri friends, he would offer it to Nectu, King Arcois' daughter. Everyone applauded this act, and Nectu rewarded the kneeling Zacarra with a single one of her golden tresses. (The first of three the party needs to free the shade, and complete their agreement from the first adventure.)

That evening, the beautiful Nicasia was entertained by a slightly mysterious Cimbri sorcerer, and she spent a great deal of time in his company for the next few days. He offered to use his considerable magical knowledge and powers to examine the two magical items the group had secured from the Athach, and they learned that the one was capable of casting Cure Light Wounds many, many times, while the other held a relatively fewer number of Invisibility spells. Ingolf spotted the woman who'd procured Zacarra's hair later on in conversation with this Cimbri, but he learned nothing more about her.

The next day many entered the spear throwing contest, but despite a strong start by Martaine, no second draught from the well was forthcoming. Instead the victory went to an Alfar ranger woman that had suffered mightily at Aoelif's hands during the greased pig contest. She elected to drink the draught she'd won herself, leading to some speculation among the group that she suffered from some infirmity or another. Finally, the bucket race was run, and Nicasia and Aoelif both fared poorly, losing out to a small but lithe Cimbri commoner who offered her well-draught to the aging Ollave of Arleta, who offered to take the young woman as a student on the spot. Everyone was much encouraged by this turn of events, as the priesthood of Arleta had seemed somewhat threatened before this event.

That evening Ingolf entertained the Helveti encampment with a retelling of he and his companion's rescue of the bones of Bodiciea's daughter from the barrow of Svear. He approached the daughter of the Dumbrani king, who was present due to her betrothal to the Helveti prince, and discussed with her the issue of Svear's geas and the oaths sworn by the group to free Bodicea's shade. She told him that in her homeland was a high and difficult mountain, with a single standing stone on the peak, presumably placed there in some ancient age. Local legend claimed that if a willow branch that had touched that stone was placed under the bed of a newly wed couple, they would get a son on their wedding night. She avowed that, in exchange for such a willow branch, she would surrender a braid of her hair.

Notable Quote

"If I can't get to the pig, then I'll kick the cheating halfling in the jewels!" -- attributed to more than one character.

NPCs Encountered

Arcois -- King of the Credi. A barrel- chested cimbri with two lighting bolts tattooed on his chest, giving him the power to cast lightning bolts.

Nectu -- The king's independent, golden-haired daughter.

Deune -- Arcois' druid.

Kerwyn -- A glimmerglas, warden and knight-protector of the High King Finvarra.


First Post
Episode 5: Shadow of Delenach Mor, or Zacarra's Third Horse


Ingolf Egilson (Bard 1/Rogue 3) - Keith Martin

Aoelif Snorrisdottir (Ranger 1/Fianna 3) - Jess Hanna

Zaccara (Fighter 4) - Jon Hanna

Martaine (Rogue 1/Templar 3) - Sean Holland

Nicasia Xerecian (Rogue 1/Sorcerer 3) - Laura Holland

Time Elapsed: 4/1 — 4/20/495 A.I.


After their relative triumph's at Arleta's Well, the group decided to act on the Dumbrani Princess' offer as soon as possible, and so elected to journey back to the human city of Tavia for provisions and supplies before heading off to the Dumbrani highlands to try their hand at mountain climbing. The trip back to the city was short and uneventful. Business in the city had slowed with the end of Saint Petronella's feast and fair, and thus there was ample space available at the Bad Pony, where the party once again took up residence.


Over the next few days each member of the group tended to his or her personal business. Aoelif seemed content to spend her time escorting Ingolf about the city and he was happy for the company of his own folk. Ingolf elected to convert some gemstones taken from the athach's lair into coin. As he had no guild connections, the only member of the jeweler's guild present in Tavia wanted to charge him a usurious twenty percent surcharge! Ingolf declined this offer and instead sought out the dekkalfar (dwarf) merchant he'd met on the road weeks earlier, who he'd heard was still in town. This dwarf, Oskar, was happy to exchange some gold coin for Ingolf's gems at a much more agreeable rate of exchange. That done, Ingolf procured himself a horse, as well as a second animal to bear his luggage, (a choice that would prove fortuitous as it turned out) and went about making preparations for a mountain climb somewhere in the Cimbri kingdom of the Dumbrani.

Martaine met with Father Photus, the head of the church orphanage, who provided him with a small sleeping cell and an offer of lessons in the Rolgulkan tongue in exchange for Martaine's offer to teach the arts of illumination and calligraphy to some of the orphans. While at the orphanage, Martaine also briefly met Baroness Galla, who was present making a very public gift from the baronial coffers for which Father Photus was deeply grateful. Martaine related tot he good father his need to travel for a fortnight before beginning his classes to which the kindly cleric agreed.

Zaccara, by happenstance, encountered the "Lady" Zlata, the ogress consort to Lord Vihar. Cormac, the Cimbri innkeeper, reported that she seemed strangely taken with the scruffy human warrior, and went so far as to buy him a rather pricey bottle of wine. Ingolf noted sourly that he'd not offered to share it, but made no inquiries to Zaccara about the meeting.

Nicasia was somewhat scarce during the few days the group was in Tavia, as she seemed to enjoy exploring the town further. She did join the others for dinner with their errant friend Theodorus, who'd not accompanied them into faerie. He was interested to hear the story of the athach's death. For his part, he'd been wined and dined by the Tavian nobility for several days. Everyone, it seemed, was eager for news from the capital, and he had the most recent gossip. He declined the group's offer to join their next foray into faerie but avowed he'd see them all when they returned.

Once the spoils of the athach's lair were divided, Zaccara bought a fine horse and the rest of the group made other purchases. Finally, after four nights in the city, the set out for the Dumbrani lands, five adventurous companions and seven animals including Martaine's mule and Ingolf's packhorse. The were bound for a small village known as Phelan in the Dumbrani highlands, not far from the Vale of Thunder and the Rolgulkan border. Phelan was the settlement closest to Delenach Mor, the "Mountain of Lightning" they intended to climb. It wasn't long before they were riding through foothills and even higher mountains as the worked their way deeper into faerie. A few days into the trip Martaine noticed one morning that the crossroads they'd camped near the night before was a crossroads no longer – the path that crossed seemed to have vanished in the night! Although the humans were a tad unnerved by this, Ingolf simply remarked that it must not have been an often used path to have disappeared like that and seemed to think nothing of it. Later that day they came across some barefoot tracks in the mud along the side of the trail. Aoelif identified them as goblin footprints and Martaine suggested the might be escaped slaves. No one in the group had much love of slavery or slavers and this discovery was a bit troubling.

Not an hour later, Ingolf spied the glint of metal in the sunshine just over the crest of a large boulder alongside the path. He said simply in a low voice "Ambush" as he turned his mount off the road and into the forest. A voice called out loudly in Rolgulkan, demanding to speak with the group. Ingolf called out telling the voice to speak on. Near the boulder he spied an armored bugbear, largest of goblinkind. The bugbear claimed to be looking for escaped slaves, and Ingolf avowed that he'd seen no sign of them. The bugbear called him a liar, Ingolf called him a dirty slaver bastard, and Zaccara strung his bow while Aoelif drew steel. Martaine tried to translate the exchange for Nicasia and Zaccara's benefit, but only seemed to understand the Rolgulkan word for "bastard." The tone, however, was unmistakable.

Zaccara and Ingolf both let fly arrows and moved through the forest towards the would-be ambushers. Aoelif, in proper fianna fashion, just charged towards the closest visible bugbear while Martaine and Nicasia made hasty passes through the air to summon magical aid. Zaccara and Aoelif were the first to meet the enemy, whereupon Aoelif discovered to her dismay that there were a few more of them than first seemed apparent – and the others had crossbows, with which they quickly peppered her with bolts. Wounded but undaunted, she leapt to engage and found herself dueling a sword-wielding slaver atop the boulder from which they'd mean to ambush the group. Zaccara and Martaine quickly joined the fight as well, Martaine slaying stone dead his first opponent with a massive blow from his warhammer. Ingolf and Nicasia peppered any visible targets with arrows and magic. The fighting was intense but brief, and by the time Ingolf dropped his bow and drew sword to engage it was all but over, the survivors having turned tail and run. Their leader tried to do likewise, but Zaccara sprinted after him and slammed into the goblin from behind flinging him to the ground. He quickly surrendered.

The slaver lead the group to the remainder of his slave coffle, four pitiful, scrawny goblins. Ingolf gave them a bit of food and their freedom, warning them not to trouble the local Cimbri. The ran off after delivering a few choice kicks to their former captor. After that, the bugbear told them where his loot could be recovered and laughed at Ingolf for having given the keys to his strongbox to the freed goblins. His laugh quickly turned sour when Ingolf demonstrated how little he needed a key to open a lock. Finally they told the bugbear he'd best make tracks back to Rolgulka and turned him loose, though his chances of surviving the trip unarmed and wounded seemed slight.

That afternoon, the group finally came across the Cimbri village of Phelan. In exchange for a few silvers they had a hayrick to sleep in and several mugs each of good new beer. Two of the local Cimbri warriors took an interest in their story regarding the slavers and Aoelif joined them to hunt for any others nearby. They found nothing but a few tracks, all headed away from the Dumbrani lands. The locals seemed somewhat amused by the group's stated intention to climb Delenach Mor, and regarded the willow branch story as something of an old wive's tale. They warned the group that the mountain was a dangerous place, closely tied to the Unseelie fae. They also suggested that the group would do well to seek out an elderly bard named Uwen. Local legend claimed he'd once been a famous harper, but had lost his voice many years ago to one of the leanan sidhe (a sort of faerie vampire.) His house could be found near the base of the mountain. The stone the group sought was a bit harder to reach, being well above the tree line.

The next morning the group rode through the forest in the direction indicated by the Cimbri. Ingolf was playing a tune on a tin whistle when a low voice from above remarked simply "That was nice." No one in the group could see anyone or anything nearby, until Aoelif noticed that a large spruce at the edge of the clearing seemed to be looking at them. No one was sure what this creature was, exactly, but it admonished them not to cut any living tree in the forest and pointed them towards Uwen's stone hut. Apparently the tree had once enjoyed hearing the old bard play.

Uwen's hut, it turned out, was easy to find – but deserted. Of the bard there was no sign, but he'd seemingly left in a hurry, not even bothering to take his meat from off the spit over the fire, which was long since burned out. There was a jagged hole in the thatch roof and Ingolf found a few alchemical reagents in the ruin of the hut's interior. Nicasia examined them and said that it seemed as if he was trying to concoct some sort of antitoxin from locally available herbs. Aoelif examined the jagged hole in the roof but couldn't make much of it, and even the thatch that had been ripped out was missing. She returned to ask the spruce tree if it had seen anything unusual. The old tree offered that a shadow had passed over the forest from time to time, but it had never looked up to see the source. Everyone found this news to be most troubling. Delenach Mor was turning out to be more dangerous than any of them had guessed.

The made camp under the eaves of the forest that night. Though it was cold, they made no fire, fearful of what might see it as well as not wanting to anger the strange talking spruce. The pre-dawn light was showing in the east and Ingolf and Zaccara were standing watch together when they both heard an odd thrumming, followed by a leathery snapping noise from above. Before either of them could raise the alarm, the sudden screaming of a terrified horse woke the other sleeping members of the group. Ingolf and Zaccara raced towards the horses in time to see a huge reptilian shape crush one of them to the ground. It was winged and covered in greyish scales, at least 30 feet from its snout to the tip of its serpentine tail, with which it was repeatedly striking the terrified horse. Both man and elf alike froze at the sight, and after a moment the creature rose heavily and with difficulty beat its massive wings, bearing the corpse of the horse – Zaccara's own, they later discovered – into the air.

After rounding up the other horses, which took several hours, the group took stock of the situation. It was at least a day's climb to the spewing waterfall where they expected to find the standing stone they sought. The horses might make the trip up, but if the wyvern reappeared, racing pell-mell down the mountainside on the back of a panicked horse did not seem like a good idea to anyone, and the only trained warhorse in the group was Zaccara's – currently wyvern food. As to fighting the beast, they had little desire to do so, though if it came down to it the group did have one potion of Neutralize Poison. Finally the decision was taken to leave the horses below and make haste to finish the errand they'd come for.

The climb proved easier than it first seemed to be, and a short distance up the mountain they came across a corpse which seemed likely to be that of Uwen. He'd been stung by the wyvern but had escaped and hidden before he was overcome by the beast's venom. On the body they found a single vial of alchemical antitoxin which they took. Although they kept their eyes skyward much of the day, there was no sign of the wyvern. The waterfall where they expected to find the stone was easy enough to see, and to hear when it couldn't be seen, and late in the day the group finally approached their goal.

The water sprung from the side of the mountain and flowed a short distance before plunging off a 40 foot cliff in the first of several falls before it made its way to the valley below. In the middle of the stream was a standing stone and several moss covered and spray-slick stones were set in the stream, making a line from the near bank to the base of the stone. The whole scene fairly proclaimed it's fae origins, and Aoelif and Ingolf realized that it was not a Cimbri site at all, but an Alfar holy place. Ingolf at first tried a little simple magic to touch one of the willow branches they'd brought to the stone, but as soon as he did so there was a crack of lightning above and the spell suddenly ended! Ingolf watched as the rushing water quickly swept the branch over the falls onto the rocks below. Aoelif offered to cross the stones with the bundle of willow wands, and so a rope was made fast around her waist, with the brawny Zaccara anchoring it while Martaine, Nicasia and Ingolf kept a wary watch skywards, with crossbows and slings in hand. Aoelif reached the stone with ease, and noticed the lightning bolt and hammer runes carved into it. She touched each of the 5 remaining willow branches to the rock, and each time she did so there was the crack of lightning in the sky followed by thunder.

When she turned to make her way back, though, she slipped and fell into the rushing current. Zaccara leaned back hard on the rope and just at that moment everyone heard the same low thrumming noise Ingolf and Zaccara had heard the night before. With a leathery flap the wyvern descended from the clouds close overhead and dove directly towards Zaccara. He gave a last heave pulling Aoelif towards him and threw himself flat to the ground as the wyvern raced past, raking out with its talons as it did so. They narrowly missed, and as the creature climbed back into the air, Martaine, Nicasia and Ingolf all let fly with their weapons, several found the mark. Aoelif scrambled for her javelins and Zaccara unslung his shield and drew his sword, bracing to meet the creature's next attack. As soon as the wyvern was upon them again, the entire group let fly once more, Martaine with his sling, Ingolf his bow, Aoelif her javelin and Nicasia, as ever, with a volley of magic missiles. Zaccara dealt the thing a massive blow with his sword as it once more narrowly missed him with a rake of its claws. At that point Martaine called out for the blessing of Logos, whereas Ingolf decided that this was as good a time as any to recount the names of alfar warriors from ages past who'd done battle with the dragons. The wyvern dove again, and Zaccara dodged its claws again, but this time in settled in front of Ingolf, who scrambled to get clear of the beast as quickly as he could. As he did so it lashed out with its massive jaws and dealt the elf a brutal blow. He had wits enough to fire a last arrow, however, and it sunk deep – deep enough, in fact, to drop the already wounded beast. Zaccara leapt forth at once and hewed the creature's head from the serpentine neck.

With that, the group made their way back down as far as the tree line and camped. The next day, they decided to seek out the wyvern's lair before descending. Aoelif spotted a small cave and they cautiously entered, but no further foes were to be found. They did find the remains of a few of the creature's other victims, including an ogre from Rolgulka who was wearing a small black stone bearing the emblem of the dead Unseelie king Balor. Zaccara took a great interest in this for some reason and so Ingolf gave it to him. They also recovered a modest treasure from the corpses and a damaged strongbox that looked to have been snatched along with the mule that had borne it. On the way back down the mountain, they stopped long enough to bury the body of Uwen, and Ingolf asked Martaine why he insisted on saying the human last rites over the body of the Cimbri bard. Ingolf was a little put off by Martaine's insistence that even the faerie are the children of Logos but they didn't argue for long. Finally the group packed up and headed back to Phelan, Zaccara riding on Ingolf's pack horse.

Notable Quote: (Zaccara and Ingolf debate the disposition of 20,000 copper pieces.)

I: "We should leave this behind for.."
Z: "...Logos."
I: "Thor!"
Z: Logos!"
I: "Thor..."
Z: ...and his father, Logos."


First Post
Episode 6: Balor's Brood, or Aoelif, Man's Best Friend

Time Elapsed: 4/20 — 4/27/495 A.I.


The characters rode back to the small Cimbri village of Phelan where they spent the night before pressing on to Dumbrani Rath, the holdfast of the Dumbrani king.


The journey was uneventful, and they were warmly greeted by the Dumbrani king Donn and his daughter Brianne. On seeing the head of the wyvern they'd slain on the slopes of Delenach Mor, the king feasted them and offered a bounty, which all and sundry proclaimed as a generous gift. Ingolf, as the one who struck the final blow, was given the honor of removing a single slender tress of Brianne's hair, and she also gave him a carved bone scroll case to carry it in.

During the feast, the Grand Druid Krossbyr arrived in the form of a great wolf. Once he resumed his normal form he was greeted warmly by the king, though he was treated somewhat with awe by the assembled feasters. The fenian warrior Aoelif asked to speak with the Druid about a personal matter. She seemed distressed about something, and it became apparent that she was only in human company at the command of the captain of her fianna warband. Krossbyr asked her why she had been given this task and she replied that her captain felt she was too one-sided in her opinions, and needed to meet and spend time with humans in order to better understand them. The druid seemed to think her captain a wise man and commented that she should consider the actions of her companions before she judged them too harshly. At this point, Aoelif confided in him the nature of the group's quest for the hair of three faerie princesses, and expressed her doubts that the other people who were involved had good intentions. The locks of hair were required to release the shade of Svear, the lieutenant of the dead unseelie king Balor. His shade had promised much loot in return, but Aoelif had no desire for wealth - she was involved only because of the oath she swore to ransom the mortal remains of Bodicea's daughter, so that her spirit might be laid to rest. Aoelif seemed most suspicious of the human fighter Zaccara, and asked the grand druid to question him.

Even under a magical compulsion to tell the truth, Zaccara avowed that he respected Aoelif's oath and would help her to see it fulfilled. She seemed somewhat mollified at that, but took apparent umbrage at the Grand Druid's comment that her captain was much wiser than she. As she turned to leave, Krossbyr called her back abruptly and chastised her for her lack of respect. Finally he dismissed her, but suddenly he spoke in a loud voice, apparently very angry at some comment, though no one had heard her speak, and said that perhaps some time spent as a loyal and humble servant would change her attitude. Krossbyr leveled his finger at her and in a flash Aoelif was transformed into a hound! This was more or less the signal that the feast was over, and it was time for the human, alfar and newly doggish adventurers to depart before their welcome was even more exhausted. The group departed that very night.

Ingolf took care to tend to Aoelif in her new form and she stuck close by his side. On the road back to Tavia he told her that he would find some more level-headed Druid who could undo the spell, and Martaine commented wryly that he was gladdened to learn that such abuses of power were not confined only to the priesthood of Logos. But the last evening spent on the road back, Krossbyr reappeared. He briefly lectured Aoelif on her lesson in humility and then restored her to her natural form, whereupon he changed himself into a raven and flew off with no further comment. The company reached Tavia the next day, and made their way to the Bad Pony, where they found a letter from Theodorus. The letter requested they find Theodorus at a particular location, and so the group decided to meet with their one-time traveling companion.

The young nobleman had secured an apartment in a much nicer part of town, very near the citadel. He even had a servant woman waiting without the door who offered to wash the feet of the travelers. The two elves were somewhat confused by this, but the humans seemed to regard it as customary. Zaccara particularly was enjoying the foot-bath, until the servant asked him about the webbing between his toes! As surprised as Martaine, Nicasia, Ingolf and Aoelif were to hear about this, Zaccara was even more astonished. No explanation seemed likely to reveal itself in the hallway, though, so the group decided to enter Theodorus' new apartments and further discuss things.

Theodorus complained loudly, and to unsympathetic ears, about the drudgery of being wined and dined by every gossip-hungry noble in Tavia. Finally the issue of Zaccara's webbed toes was raised and at that Theodorus perked up sharply and began to question him. Zaccara, it turns out, had no memory of most of the last two years. He'd been a seaman in the Imperial Navy, and away from his galley when a sudden squall blew up. He remembered his skiff being swamped and washing up on an unknown stretch of beach. His next recollection was simply of the road to Tavia - of how he came to be there, he had no clue. Theodorus was very intrigued by this turn of events, and asked permission to examine the warrior more closely. He then produced a scroll of some sort, intoned a spell, and began to examine the back of Zaccara's neck. In short order, he announced that he could see some sort of tattoo, invisible to everyone else. Martaine also confirmed that he could detect some sort of enchantment on Zaccara, though he could not give any details about its exact nature.

Theodorus sketched the tattoo, and Ingolf and Aoelif were alarmed to see that it was the symbol of Balor. Everyone remembered how Zaccara had wanted to keep the stone symbol they found in the wyvern's lair, and suspicion once again fell on the unkempt human. Then Zaccara claimed he'd only been interested in the symbol because Lady Zlata, the ogress consort to Lord Vihar, had flashed the symbol to him and seemed to recognize him! Ingolf asked why he hadn't mentioned this before, reminding the human that Zlata and Vihar were Rolgulkan nobles, not exactly friends to human or elf either one. At this point, Theodorus commented that Lord Vihar had been courteous enough to him when they spoke!

At this point, Ingolf began to suspect the whole group was in league with Rolgulka, but he remembered the Grand Druid's truth spell and believed that Zaccara at least was unaware of his tattoo. Zaccara claimed he had no idea why the Rolgulkans were interested in him, but said that Lady Zlata seemed to recognize him somehow. The men of the group decided to retire to the public bath house nearby so the travelers could be refreshed, but on the way yet another player in the mystery was revealed.

Ingolf spotted a young Cimbri male preparing to ambush the group in one of Tavia's parks, and Theodorus gave his perch a magical shove. The half-elf hit the ground running but a quick Command from Martaine brought him to a halt. The party tried to question him, but he would give no answers, aside from whispering in Cimbri that "she" was watching. Ingolf assumed he meant Lady Zlata and so they forced the Cimbri, Tavis by name, to accompany them to the baths. There he revealed that "she" was not Zlata, but his lover - or former lover. He related that some months earlier, he and his fellow brigand Marya had waylaid Zaccara on the road to Tavia. Zaccara had a faint memory of being chased by the Cimbri. Tavis claimed that after Zaccara had fled, they found a strange black stone in the belongings he left behind, and that the moment Marya had touched it, she'd - changed. She called herself "Eagon" now and talked only of tracking down Zaccara so she could "get his body back." Eagon told Tavis that she would return Marya to him once Zaccara was found, but he did not believe her fully, most particularly after she revealed sorcerous powers and burned down a human village on the way to Tavia.

Ingolf recognized that "Eagon" was not a name, but rather a title - Balor's personal bodyguard were called the Eagon. Tavis claimed that "Eagon" needed to get Zaccara back and would not risk harming him. So the group formed up into a small knot around Zaccara and headed back towards Theodorus' apartments. On the way, they all heard a small voice from an unseen source whispering in their ear to "return him to me" and - most tellingly - "I have the third braid - we can make an arrangement." The group hurriedly dashed the rest of the way to Theodorus 4th floor rooms, burst in yelling to Aoelif and Nicasia to grab up their armor at once. Very quickly the tale spilled forth, and Theodorus, on realizing he had numerous windows open to the street, told his servant to close them. She had hardly been out of the room for a moment when all heard a sickening cry. Theodorus looked into the street-side room and saw her motionless form lying beneath an open window!

In moments, all hell had broken loose. Ingolf strung his bow and dashed to a far window, scanning the streets for any sign of a possessed Cimbri rogue. Zaccara, not content to be protected, seized up his sword and pushed out past Theodorus into the room, as did Aoelif. Martaine intoned a quick Blessing on the entire group. Nicasia grabbed some flour from the camp supplies thinking to douse the invisible attacker with it. Again came the whispered message "give me back my mount!" - this time much less patient, much more threatening. Zaccara didn't take kindly to being called a pack animal, but as no one could see anything, no one was quite sure how to proceed. Theodorus announced that their was no magical effect within the room that he could detect, when suddenly a brace of Magic Missiles came through the open window to strike him and Aoelif both!. Ingolf spied the flying Cimbri and loosed an arrow, which missed, and then things really began to heat up. Theodorus and Nicasia both let fly with Magic Missiles of their own, Nicasia from her innate powers and Theodorus from the potent wand he'd used once before, and all seven of the arcane orbs hit the mark - hard. "Eagon" howled in rage, and unthinkingly loosed a spell through the open window, bathing everyone in the room except Ingolf in sorcerous fire. Theodorus, barely still on his feet, called out to her that she'd roasted Zaccara, the man she wanted to capture, and the Cimbri howled in rage once more. Suddenly, Aoelif took it into her head that she, too, could fly.

Calling on the power of her fenian training, the Alfar woman made a magnificent leap through the open window to grapple the flying sorceress. As she bore "Eagon" to the ground below (far below), Theodorus and Nicasia continued the barrage of Magic Missiles, until the possessed Cimbri intoned a spell - and vanished, leaving Aoelif clinging to nothing. Everyone quickly descended the stairs to find Aoelif unhurt and the Cimbri woman gone. Of her lover Tavis no sign could be seen, he had disappeared early in the confrontation. As the group stood discussing what next to do, they heard a scream from less than a block away and ran to find the source. An Imperial Luminary lay dead in the street, his skin a blight of pox blisters and sores. Theodorus mumbled something about "Necromancy" and Ingolf spotted the Cimbri again, flying towards the top of the city Cathedral.

All six members of the company gave chase at top speed. "Eagon" loosed a sickly green arrow at Aoelif, but it missed and struck the earth harmlessly. Zaccara and Ingolf both sent arrows winging towards the Cimbri woman, but neither could find the mark. Finally Theodorus called one last time on his wand, and five glowing and deadly orbs of magic power smashed into the Cimbri, she gave a cry - and tumbled from the cathedral roof. The group reached the still twitching body just in time to see a black and malevolent shade rise from it — a huge shadow with a gaping maw and mail formed of minature skeletal hands — suddenly settle into something held beneath the palm of her glove.

Theodorus rushed to the College of Wizardry to summon aid, while Ingolf very quickly searched the body, and upon finding a long braid of blonde hair, thrust it into his pouch. When the human Wizard reached the scene, he used his magic to discover a small black stone, a stone engraved with the symbol of Balor, in the still-clenched fist of the dead woman. All were careful not to touch it. The Wizard instructed the members of the group to come to the College of Wizardry the next morning to explain these events, and also suggested they do something about the corpse slowly cooling at the base of the Cathedral wall.

Notable Quotes:

"Not that I would want to cause any dissension between you and your friends!" — Lord Vihar, after telling Theodorus that Zaccara bore an invisible mark on his neck

"I don't know what you are talking about. I found the Unseelie, like lord Vihar, to be quite eloquent and to have treated me better than the Seelie, in many cases." — Theodorus

"Nice to see abuses of power are not limited to the Church of Logos..." — Martaine, Templar of Logos upon seeing Aoelif be turned into a hound by the Grand Druid Krossbyr"

"Rrrrrrr, ruff, ruff!" <pant, pant> — Aoelif, after casting dispersions upon Grand Druid Krossbyr's loyalty to Faerie.


First Post
Episode 7: Rekoning at the Tomb


Ingolf Egilson (Bard 1/Rogue 3) - Keith Martin

Aoelif Snorrisdottir (Ranger 1/Fianna 3) - Jess Hanna

Zaccara (Fighter 4) - Jon Hanna

Martaine (Rogue 1/Templar 3) - Sean Holland

Nicasia Xerecian (Rogue 1/Sorcerer 3) - Laura Holland

Theodorus Commenos Alexius (Noble 1/Wizard 2) - Steve McDonald

Time Elapsed: 4/27 — 4/29/495 A.I.


That same evening, the entire group retired back to the Bad Pony to discuss these events. Numerous theories were put forth as to what, exactly, was going on. It seemed clear to everyone that Zaccara had been possessed at some point by the same spirit or soul that possessed the Cimbri woman Marya, the spirit of one of Balor’s personal bodyguard, the Eagon. Ingolf put forth the theory that this person had been scrying or otherwise observing the group for some time, and Nicasia pointed out that no effort to conceal their true mission had been made. After equal amounts of discussion and wine (and prayer, for the humans) the group elected to retire.


The next morning a message came from the College of Wizardry, directing the party to meet not there but instead at the office of the city Magistrate, at 10:00 AM. During breakfast, the group discussed exactly what to say, and with a good deal of guidance by Nicasia, ultimately decided to tell the magistrate simply that Marya, a Cimbri woman with apparent sorcerous powers, had attacked them in Theodorus’ apartments. When she was driven off, she slew the luminary. The group gave chase, spotted her atop the cathedral, and brought her down, at which point her possession became apparent when the two spirits changed places (the spirit in her body and her “true” spirit in the stone.) At that point, we summoned help from the college of wizardry to deal with such powerful sorceries. No mention of Tavis, Marya’s absent lover, or of the Eagon, or of Svear’s Tomb, was to be made. In the middle of the conversation, Martaine suddenly began discussing utterly mundane matters and announced that he wanted to bathe before presenting himself before the magistrate. He suggested that Zaccara do the same and the group headed off for the bathhouse.

On the way, Martaine revealed the reason for his abrupt behavior – during the conversation he had become aware that someone was scrying the group! Theories as to who it could be abounded – the College of Wizards, perhaps, or maybe the Eagon had possessed someone, or perhaps he was somehow able to observe Zaccara even from its current “container” – the black stone. All were unnerved by this turn of events but it was decided that the less said the better. Finally everyone was assembled and ready to meet the magistrate, and so the party made their way to his offices in the wealthy section of town.

Magistrate Cyrus met the group in the hall and ushered them into his chambers. Theodorus seemed quite familiar with the imperial official, and they were, to all appearances, on very good terms. Also present were Brec, the Baron’s ljosalfar bard, and Father Gennadius, the curate of the cathedral. Sylvain, the wizard’s apprentice that had secured the “possessing stone” the evening before was not present, although there was an empty seat at the table. Cyrus explained that he’d been informed of the events of the evening before by the college, and had changed the time and place of the inquiry as the death of the luminary made it Imperial business. He also wanted to wait for the arrival of Nicodemus, the Dean of the College of Wizardry. Nicodemus had only returned to Tavia from business of his own in the countryside that morning, but Cyrus seemed to think his arcane knowledge would be useful in getting to the bottom of the matter. As he had not yet arrived, however, the Magistrate pressed the group for details of what had happened. He particularly wanted to know what we expected him to tell the widow of the luminary killed the night before.

Martaine did most of the talking. He told of his chance meeting with the others present on the road to Tavia, and how Theodorus had elected to remain behind when everyone else made an extended trip into faerie for the festival of Arleta’s Well. After the travelers’ return, they sought out their former companion and were telling tales of their journey when the Cimbri sorceress, who slew his servant woman, attacked them in his apartments. The company gave battle, driving the woman off, and then pursued her. They heard the scream of the dying luminary and investigated, ultimately spotting the woman atop the cathedral building and bringing her down (breaking seventeen roof tiles in the process, the curate was quick to point out.) At that point, everyone witnessed the exchange of souls or spirits between the woman and the black stone she held, and deduced that she had been possessed. It was then they decided to involve the College.

Cyrus of course asked why the party had been attacked, and Ingolf offered that perhaps the group had made some enemies during their travels in the Cimbri kingdoms. Brec, the Baron’s bard, wanted to know where exactly they’d traveled, and Delenach Mor was mentioned as well as the Dumbrani lands and the Credi King’s hall. Brec seemed unfamiliar with the legend surrounding the stone atop Delenach Mor and so Ingolf enlightened her. Martiane mentioned that the symbol of Balor had been seen on a stone atop the mountain, as well as being inscribed on the “possessing stone” and from there the suggestion was made that perhaps some sort of Cult of Balor was behind the attack. Brec and Ingolf had to explain exactly who Balor was, whereupon the curate blessed himself several times and Cyrus seemed quite displeased.

Just about then, Nicodemus, the Dean of the College of Wizardry, came into Cyrus’ office. He a small leather pouch levitated in front of him carried by an Unseen Servant and the dean bore a pair of heavy gloves, and was still somewhat dusty from his journey. Cyrus gave him an abridged version of what had happened, and asked if he’d examined the stone yet. Nicodemus replied that he had not, but said that he had it with him and was prepared to see what he could learn. “My apprentice Silvain informed me of some of its dangers,” he said, “and warned that it could only be safely handled with proper protection, which he provided.” With that, the human wizard lifted one of the heavy leather gloves, pulled it onto his hand, and immediately gave a horrid, strangled cry!

Nicodemus clutched frantically at his throat as an explosion of blue-black foam erupted from his lips and he fell, convulsing, to the floor. Almost as a man the company reached for a weapon – which of course none of them were carrying, as it is not considered meet to go heavily armed to an interview with Imperial officers. Cyrus leapt from his chair and yelled at the curate to summon aid, but in a minute it was all over – the most powerful Wizard in the entire province of Thessela lay dead at his feet!

Cyrus pulled the glove from the dead Wizard’s hand and turned it inside out to reveal a wicked looking needle, still dripping with some unknown venom. Ingolf inverted the bag onto the table and out fell a Continual Flamed rock and a note, written in Gaelic, which read simply “If my master cannot have it, no one will.” For a moment all stood wondering at the stone, then Martain sagely remarked that the Continual Flamed rock had been placed in the pouch in case a Detect Magic was cast on the bag. The Eagon was certainly in possession of another host - probaby Silvain!

Magistrate Cyrus went bolting out the door at once, after ordering the rest of the group to follow him to the College. Everyone reached the street just in time to see the top two floors of the College of Wizardry explode in flames.†

They ran towards the burning tower only to be met by a flood of humanity rushing out of the flaming structure. To no one’s surprise, several of those fleeing cried that Silvain had “gone crazy.” Several members of the group sprinted toward the entrance, cursing their lack of armament. Zaccara was able to secure a sword from a guard who was unwilling to enter the burning building himself. The first floor, it developed, was actually the shop of a bonded master of the Chandler’s guild, who operated it as something of a “general store” – specializing in items purchased from the alchemists and wizards of the College. Here Ingolf and Aoelif secured a few swords, and followed the sprinting Zaccara up the steps. The top two floors of the building were given over to Nicodemus for his personal apartments. On the steps leading to the penultimate floor, a wounded apprentice or servant was found, and here Martaine stopped to do what he could for the man. Everyone else continued up and found massive damage, more wounded apprentices, and an open window. The Eagon, it seemed, had fled once more. The group did what they could to minimize the damage and managed to salvage Nicodemus’ spellbooks and a few other items. They also took note of a chest, open and obviously looted. Something had been removed from a secret compartment – a Rod of Cancellation, one of the surviving wizards revealed.

Meanwhile, on the street, the civil authorities had responded, and a fire brigade was on the way. Once the survivors were removed and it was determined that the Eagon was not in the immediate area, Cyrus asked the group to return to his office. The magistrate was visibly shaken by the preceding events, and it was Brec, the Baron’s bard, who assumed responsibility for tracking down and eliminating the Eagon once and for all.

Once everyone was back outside, Brec asked Martaine and the others to accompany her. Ingolf suggested they could all use a drink, and so the group went to The Partridge, a rather upscale inn near the Magistrate’s office. There Brec put forth her opinion that the group had been less than completely honest with the magistrate, and asked them – Martaine specifically, if there were any honest reason for their evasion. Martaine dissembled a bit, but did allow that the talk of a cult of Balor was intended to divert the issue from the real facts. Eventually, he confessed that Zaccara had been possessed by the Eagon for a time, and that the group had withheld information in an attempt to protect him. No one, the templar declared, wanted to see the inquisition in Tavia. Brec agreed, but then wondered aloud to Martaine exactly who he thought would come to investigate rumors of a Cult of Balor?

The group realized their mistake in ever bringing up that name at that point. Brec entreated them to either reveal the whole truth to her or else undertake themselves to stop the Eagon as soon as possible and head off any rumors about a Balor cult or anything of that nature. Everyone quickly agreed, to the point of deciding to depart that very night, and Brec volunteered to “run interference” and keep Cyrus from further involving the darker side of the church of Logos.

After the Alfar woman departed, Ingolf explained his theories to the group: the Eagon sought to recover Balor’s Spear from Svear’s barrow. That, Ingolf believed, was the point of the whole exercise. The fact that the Eagon had offered to make a deal with the group concerning the three tresses of hair needed to free Svear’s shade seemed to confirm the idea that he meant to gain entrance to the tomb. The group’s refusal to bargain forced another approach, hence the threat “If my master cannot have it, no one will.” The theft of the Rod of Cancellation was the final confirmation. It was decided that the group would strike out at once for Svear’s tomb, nearly two days ride away, and try to destroy the “possessing stone” and the Eagon along with it.

Preparations were hastily made. Martaine procured some Holy Water from the Cathedral. Aoelif arranged for herself and Ingolf to retain their “borrowed” weapons for a bit longer, as the group was a bit short on enchanted arms. Martaine and Theodorus also were able to secure a few choice scrolls, and so the group left Tavia once more, headed back down the same road on which they’d originally ridden into town, in the hopes of stopping the Eagon and either destroying or otherwise dealing with Svear’s shade.

The journey itself was uneventful, and the travelers saw no one else on the road until they drew close to the sign of the Red Bull Inn. Near the remains of the White Bull, or rather the large open hole in the ground where the White Bull had once stood, Ingolf spied four cimbri spearmen and a woman that he recognized from the festival of Arleta’s Well. It was, in fact, the same Helveti woman who had paid a gold piece for a single lock of Zaccara’s hair (adv. 4)! Everyone had a bellyful of treachery by this point, and it was decided to make a wide detour around the group towards the back side of the barrow hill, where the group had originally emerged back into the daylight after their first foray into Svear’s tomb.

It soon became apparent that they’d been spotted, as the four Cimbri warriors and the female began slowly advancing down the hill, obviously searching for them. Ingolf instructed everyone to hide and take cover as best they were able, and all did so. When the woman was within an easy bowshot, he cried out to her in challenge. She and her warrior retinue all took cover, although only the cimbri woman had any real skill at concealing herself. Ingolf made a small gamble, and asked why she’d been scrying them, and her reply indicated that she was, in fact, at least connected to whoever had been spying on the group.

The woman, who was named Laria, agreed to discuss the issue with Ingolf, and the two met at the halfway point, both acutely aware that they were being carefully watched by the more-or-less hidden members of the other’s group. Laria indicated that she had been sent by the king of the Helveti (a local cimbri kingdom that nominally included the ground they were standing on) to learn what she could of the events at the Inn of the White Bull. She confessed that the court sorcerer had been scrying Zaccara thanks to the lock of his hair she’d secured. She seemed aware of the nature of the barrow, but not the occupant, and related the story of a group of dwarves who’d come to work on the inn but who had vanished after they entered the barrow (seems poor Albacorabraxamas died just about 2 days too soon.)

Ingolf hit on what would prove to be a fateful plan. He proposed to the rest of the group that they enlist the aid of the woman Laria and her men in exchange for a share of whatever loot was recovered from Svear’s tomb. Zaccara balked at first, but Ingolf pointed out that it was either that, or fight all five of them – now or when the group eventually emerged, presumably worse for wear, from the tomb itself. After a bit of negotiation, a deal was struck: Laria would see that Zaccara’s lock of hair was returned or destroyed, and post her men about the entrances of the barrow to stand guard. She herself would join the rest of the group on the foray into the crypt. In return, she would have one share of the treasure for herself, and one for her men to divide. A generous offer, one that amounted to 25% of whatever loot was recovered, although any and all magic items were specifically exempted – her shares were shares of the gold and jewelry only.

Once the deal was made, the group elected to enter the barrow at once. Laria and her men had seen no sign of a human wizard entering the crypt, though everyone realized he might well have done so invisibly. Potions were quaffed and spells were cast, one of which was immediately useful when six skeletons arose to confront the group as soon as the descent into the barrow was complete. Only Martaine was visible to the undead, and he called on the power of Logos to dispatch them on to their eternal rest with spectacularly effective results — shattering the skeletons to flinders! Ingolf scouted ahead carefully and as silently as he could. Just outside the entrance to the tomb proper, he came across a troubling scene: the charred corpses of several of Svear’s ghoulish “wives.” The door to his final resting place remained securely closed and the lock had not been tampered with. The conclusion was an easy one to make:

The Eagon was already inside the barrow, hidden or invisible somewhere in the dark hallways underground...

Ingolf hurriedly whispered his fears to the human wizard Theodorus, who cast a “See Invisible” spell. Not long after, he spotted the invisible Eagon hiding in a side passage, with a hostage from the College of Wizardry. Although the Eagon must surely have spotted Theodorus, the later gave no indication of his ability to see the unseen. The group concocted a quick plan – Ingolf would pick the lock to the tomb, and as a man they would rush inside and close the door behind them. First, however, Nicasia used a charge from he wand of invisibility on Theodorus, who elected to remain behind to keep tabs on the Eagon.

No plan, however well-laid, survives contact with the enemy, and this one was no exception. As soon as the door to the tomb proper was open, the Eagon came down the hallway with his invisible charge in tow. Most of the group quickly dashed into the tomb, but as the Eagon rounded the corner, Theodorus decided to take advantage of his position to once again use his potent (and rapidly discharging) wand of magic missiles. The Eagon roared in pain and rage – and quickly used a Dimension Door to escape from the immediate danger he was in. Everyone dashed into the tomb, whereupon Theodorus shouted out that the Eagon was standing on Svear’s coffin – behind the shade itself. Although the Rod of Cancellation was not in sight, none of the group had any doubts as to his intentions.

The huge Shade of Svear arose and demanded the locks of hair – indeed, he seemed quite surprised as to who was presenting them, apparently expecting not the party of Zaccara, Aoelif et al but rather the Eagon! Zaccara, heeding Theodorus’ warnings, drew steel and moved towards Svear’s shade. Laria, the cimbri agent of the Helveti king, nocked an arrow and prepared to loose it at the first sign of the possessed human wizard. She didn’t have long to wait, for the Eagon appeared a moment later as he began an attack spell, and Laria loosed at once, striking home and spoiling his spell. With that, battle was quickly joined on three fronts. The Eagon roared in rage and commanded Svear’s shade to kill the very people who had come to release him from his curse. The undead servant of Balor seemed fixated only on getting his incorporeal hands on the locks of hair in Ingolf’s purse, and so he hesitated a moment – but only a moment. With a wave of his hand, he released his ghoulish wives from their cells and moved himself to attack. With rather curious results.

In the far corner of the crypt, a pale, wan form arose and took shape before the eyes of all assembled. She was unmistakable to all who’d seen her before – it was the ghost of Anrid, Bodicea’s daughter who’d spent so many long years entombed with her tormentor and the spirit whose bones the party laid to rest. She leveled an icy stare at Svear and proclaimed that Hel had put a single condition on her pleas for revenge – Svear must break faith one last time – which had just done by attacking the very people who’d come to free him. With that, the drew a ghostly blade and lunged at the shade.

The group quickly found itself in the middle of a three way combat. Through the still-open door of the tomb came Svear’s wives, hungry for the blood and flesh of the living. From the dais where his coffin lay the Eagon prepared to unleash another spell, and in the middle of the room Svear and Anrid were engaged in their last conflict. A barrage of missiles, magic and otherwise, were flung from Ingolf, Laria, Nicasia and Theodorus to strike the Eagon, who fell before he was able to teleport away once more (presumably to possess the young apprentice still cowering in the hall outside the tomb.) At the door to the crypt, Martaine held forth the holy symbol of Logos, preparing to summon for th the god’s favor to banish Svear’s wives – but before he was able, one of the ghouls latched her teeth firmly into his arm, and he found himself paralyzed and helpless! With a word, Theodorus put forth his power and trapped all but one of the ghouls in a magical web – but the one that he failed to ensnare quickly dispatched him as well! Nicasia and Laria were able to pull the two paralyzed men out of immediate danger, but in the meantime another of the ghouls extricated itself and moved to the attack.

In the center of the room, the battle raged between Aoelif, Ingolf and Anrid on the one side, and Svear’s shade on the other. Zaccara grabbed Svear’s spear from atop his coffin and rushed to the attack as well, and quickly found himself weakened by the undead touch of the fiend’s shadowy fists. All the combatants quickly discovered that even their enchanted arms could rarely damage the shade, passing harmlessly through his ghostly doby more often than not. Only Anrid’s equally ghostly dagger seemed able to easily damage him. Nicasia and Laria were able to dispatch the free ghouls without too much difficulty, but Svear himself battled on. Ultimately though, the weight of the odds against him proved too much, and Aoelif had the satisfaction of feeling both her attacks strike home. Svear’s shade fragmented into a thousand obsidian slivers which swirled briefly about the room before fleeing together into his coffin.

Anrid spoke briefly to the group. “Place the locks of hair upon his coffin, if you would not be foresworn, and fulfill your part of the bargain. As for myself – Svear granted me my revenge when he turned on you, and I am satisfied. All these grave goods are yours, as he promised – including his mighty spear.” Zaccara hefted the weapon in question and asked what, exactly, it was. “You will find that it’s power reflects the skill of the wielder. It was forged by Balor himself, and it is as Unseelie as he. . .” With that, she faded away.

Only two tasks remained – to load up the rewards, and to dispatch the “possessing stone” – into which the spirit of the Eagon had fled once more, when it’s most recent host body was slain. The first duty was left up to Ingolf, who had become the group’s treasurer of sorts, and he made plans with Laria as to how her share could be selected. As to the second task, Zaccara had already recovered the Rod of Cancellation, and without any ceremony he pressed it to the enchanted stone. There was a dazzling display of magic power as the Rod released it’s sole charge of magic-destroying energy, and then – nothing happened! The damnable stone remained, as black and potent and worrisome as ever.

† I want to thank Mike Schapira for helping with the very meticulous behind-the-scenes plotting that went into the events that transpired at the Wizard's College the previous night. Even though the PCs might never find out exactly what occured, Mike helped me work through the Eagon's plotting and actions and the reactions of the Wizards within the tower. Thanks!

Notable Quotes:

"We're all gonna' die!"

"Hey, we're still alive!"

NPCs Encountered

Cyrus — Magistrate of the Green Ward of Tavia

Nicodemus — the poisoned dean of the College of Wizards, Tavia

Father Gennadius — curate of the Tavian cathedral

Brec — bard and advisor to the baronial court

Anrid — Bodociea's daughter, the wife of Svear and a ghost

Svear — the shade of a once-powerful unseelie fae

Corann, Duff, Kelwin, and Quinn — Helvetii warriors

Laria — Agent of Emrys, King of the Helvetti

The Eagon — one of the bodyguards of Balor


First Post
Episode 8: It Ain't Over 'Till it's Over...

Time Elapsed: 4/29 — 5/22/495 A.I.


The group quickly concocted a division of the spoils that would leave Laria’s men, who’d certainly faced the least risk, with most of the heavy lifting duties. The jewelry and most importantly the magic treasure remained firmly in the hands of those who’d come face to face with the Eagon and Svear’s shade itself. And what treasure it was – masterfully crafted torcs of gold and silver, holy symbols of the Aesir deity Loki, goblets and chargers of beaten copper and silver, a suit of red, dwarf-forged mail, an enchanted sword, arrows, vambraces and other items. Everyone was busy discussing the division of the loot, as well as what should be done about the stone that still, so far as they knew, contained the soul o the Eagon, when suddenly Martaine gave a stifled cry and cast some warding spell on himself.

The other members of the group turned to see him drawing his weapon all while looking at the quiescent stone with concern – and just then Nicasia dove for the cursed rock. Martaine tried to reach it himself, but Nicasia reached it first, and seized it in her hand with an odd expression. Once again, all saw the black spirit of the Eagon materialize, this time from within the stone, and it enveloped the human sorceress’ form. For a moment, a struggle of wills seems to take place, and suddenly the spirit returned to the stone. Nicasia, for her part, stood with a stunned expression on her face, still clutching the Eagon’s magic stone. That situation was corrected when Ingolf’s whip cracked her hard across the knuckles and she dropped the stone – only to see Aoelif dive for it with the same strange look on her face. This time the Eagon proved to be of stronger, and all saw his spirit replace that of the alfar warrior!

The rest of the group sprang at her as one. Zaccara unthinkingly thrust at her with his newly won spear, but on seeing the horrible, bleeding wound it made he dropped it and moved to tackle her instead. Ingolf lashed out with his whip to deprive Aoelif of the stone, but it was too late, she was already possessed. The other members of the group cuffed the poor elf repeatedly, with fist, sap and whip, disrupting her spell casting and rapidly rendering her unconscious. The cimbri woman Laria proved her worth yet again when she quickly gagged the still struggling fianna (Eagon?) and in short order her unconscious form was bound and blindfolded as well. The group quickly packed up the treasure, informed the four cimbri warriors above that they could collect their share (copper and silver coin, mostly) at their leisure, and set out for Tavia once more. Laria elected to accompany the group as far as the city, concerned with the final disposal of the Eagon’s spirit.

Before passing through the city gate once more, Laria and Nicasia concocted a disguise for the still possessed Aoelif and managed to pass her off to the watch as a badly wounded member of the group without revealing that she was bound and gagged as well. Once she was secured in the stables of the Bad Pony, Theodorus and Ingolf made haste to the citadel to summon the Baron’s bard, Brec, in the hopes that she could effect the return of Aoelif’s spirit to her body. After greasing the palms of the Baron’s gourmand of a door warden with gold (and his pallet with sweets) Brec was quickly located practicing archery in the castle yard. She agreed to follow the two footsore travelers back to the inn to learn what could be done.

Zaccara and Martaine were all in favor of destroying the stone once Aoelif’s spirit was removed from it, though the human priest expressed his doubts that it was within the group’s power to do so. Brec, however, was more interested in simply securing it somewhere, believing that, if a cult of Balor were truly on the rise, she might one day wish to interrogate the spirit currently possessing Aoelif’s body. This opinion raised considerable debate between those who sought to destroy the stone and those who saw the wisdom in Brec’s plans.

Ultimately, a plan was settled on. Brec prepared a cell in the lowermost chambers of the baron’s donjon, a cell she believed sufficiently remote as to prevent the Eagon from exerting the sort of compulsion over anyone that it had been able to exert on Nicasia and Aoelif. In this cell a wooden cask was prepared, as well as a quantity of the strange poured stone, still in it’s liquid state, that the human empire used in some of there construction. The entire group, including Laria, were led into the cell, along with the still bound and gagged Aoelif and the stone itself. It took several attempts, but ultimately Brec was able to dispel the possessing effect long enough to return Aoelif’s spirit to her body and the Eagon’s to it’s stone, which was quickly dropped into the cask via magic and then sealed in poured stone. The door to the cell was locked and Brec secured the key from the gaoler.

Brec congratulated the group on there success, and expressed her amazement that the Rod fo Cancellation had failed to destroy the Eagon’s stone. Once the group was refreshed and cleaned, and Aoelif’s wounds were properly tended to, they all gathered with Brec at the Partridge, Tavia’s finest (or most expensive, at any rate) inn. Over a fine meal of fowl and venison, Brec heard most of the details of the tomb that had been withheld earlier, and she made the group an offer of employment. Brec, it seemed, was concerned that the delicate political balance between the Empire, the Cimbri and the Rolgulkans was ripe for an upset, and she feared the possibility of outright war between faerie and humans in Thessela province. She needed operatives, preferably human and fae both, who were willing to help her stave off an open conflict. After some discussion, all agreed to her terms. She provided the key and directions to a private countryside manor the baron had bestowed on her and indicated that she would be in contact with the group in a few weeks time.

Laria having departed to return to the Helveti king, all that remained was to divide the spoils. Zaccara had already laid claim to Svear’s spear, and it was counted as his full share of all treasure, being most likely worth everything else combined. The suit of mail went to Martaine, who decided that the addition of faerie-forged steel was no affront to his typical armor of faith. The shortsword proved to be perfectly balanced for throwing, as well as able to burst into flame on command. Aoelif claimed it as her own, along with a silver and obsidian wolfs-head cloak pin. A set of magical bracers of armor went to Nicasia, as well as a valuable golden torc with ruby insets, and an odd amulet carved in the likeness of a turtle went to Theodorus, who also claimed the holy symbol of Loki, intent on studying it. There were also two arrows, carved with alfar symbols, which we retained as property of the entire group should they be needed. Also held as communal property was a beautiful masterwork helm, worked into the likeness of a raven’s head and chased with gold, easily the most valuable piece of non-magical equipment recovered. At Martaine’s suggestion, it was decided to hold this against the need of a masterful gift for some Cimbri king or lord. Finally, Ingolf had uncovered the secret of a small onyx dog statue, causing it come become a fully animate and strangely intelligent hound. As the hound seemed to take a shining to the bard, he claimed that as his share of the magic recovered, as well as a mundane but beautiful and valuable silver torc with stag’s heads worked into the tips.

NPCs Encountered

Brec — bard and advisor to the baronial court

Anrid — Bodociea's daughter, the wife of Svear and a ghost

Corann, Duff, Kelwin, and Quinn — Helvetii warriors

Laria — Agent of Emrys, King of the Helvetti

The Eagon — one of the bodyguards of Balor

Fronto — The immensly fat gatekeeper for the Baron
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First Post
Episode 9: How NOT to Succeed in the College of Wizardry

Time Elapsed: 5/22 — 5/29/495 A.I.


Several days after the internment of the Eagon's stone and the division of the spoils, Martaine relayed to the rest of the group that they had all been commanded to appear before the Baron himself in court the next morning. Everyone made a point of washing and selecting appropriate garb, and special care was made that the fianna did not expose a bit more of herself than the assembled nobility of the empire would tolerate, and the entire party made there way together to the citadel the next morning.

In the great hall of the keep were assembled a number of Tavia's better-heeled citizens, including all of the nobles with properties within the city walls as well as a few that apparently lived in the nearby countryside. Before the assembly, Brec gave a carefully worded yet dramatic retelling of how the party members all originally met on the road to Tavia, and touched lightly on the finding of the barrow and the quest for the three tresses of hair - which she claimed were needed to "put the trapped spirit in the grave to rest." She gave simple details of the group's travels through faerie and claimed that they had made some enemy there who followed them back to Tavia and was responsible for the damage to the College of Wizardry as well as the death of Theodorus' servant and the city luminary. She hinted that this enemy was envious of the treasure the group hoped to win at the end of their quest, but at no point did she mention Balor, the Eagon, or provide any details of possession or anything of the sort. She concluded by explaining how the party had vanquished their enemy, recovered the treasure, and pointed out that sharing it with the servants of the Helveti king would help enhance the relationship between Tavia and the cimbri.

Finally she produced a scroll which named all of the characters as friends of the Baron's household, and explained that it would be posted in the hall of the keep. The Baron personally greeted and thanked each member of the group in turn, and everyone adjourned for a bit of socializing and general low-key revelry.

Theodorus and Nicasia seemed most at ease with the assembled nobility, and each made several introductions that might serve them in the future. Theodorus learned that the new master of the College of Wizardry was to arrive within a fortnight, and he began making plans for a proper first impression. The remained of the group principally enjoyed (yet another) free feed and wondered to themselves how long their good fortunes would last. Ingolf and Aoelif began planning a bit more "rustic" of a celebration, and when the official gathering had ended they revealed to the group that they were throwing a party in two weeks time. This was to be in thanks to Aoelif's newfound human friends, who had helped her fulfill her oath to return to Svear's tomb.

Ingolf's idea of a successful celebration could be summed up fairly simply: plenty of ale and wine, plenty of music and merrymaking, and no-one sleeps alone when the partying is through. To those ends, he and Aoelif hired the barn of the Bad Pony inn for the sum of 60 pieces of gold. Cormac the innkeeper was only too happy to oblige the group, and he provided a great quantity of ale as well as a few local toughs to act as bouncers in the very probable event that a fight broke out. Ingolf ultimately spent another 65 pieces of gold (all but 25 of it actually Aoelif's) to ensure there would be ample musicians present, and to hire a number of the most expensive prostitutes he could find. These he instructed to give particular attention to Martaine and Theodorus. The "formal" guest list was actually rather small, being confined to the immediate members of the group, plus the satyr known as Vasto, Magistrate Cyrus (reported by Theodorus to be fond of his ale), Captain Troilus of the city watch, who was acquainted with Zaccara, and Commodus Marcelus, the victor of the spring chariot race. Not unexpectedly, when the evening of the party arrived, the actual number of people that showed up was somewhat more than the ten invited, probably by a factor of 12 or so. In short order, Vasto had struck up an sort of impromptu musical group and everyone who wasn't busy drinking was dancing. Captain Troilus took the opportunity to reacquaint himself with Boris, the head bouncer, a rather enormous orc or possibly half-orc hired by Cormac. Boris and Troilus seemed to know each other well, as might be expect from the captain of the city guard and a member of the local thieves' guild. Magistrate Cyrus and Ingolf played at dice and worked at drinking one another under the table, Aoelif danced like a dervish, and in generally everyone was having a spectacular time. Even the normally stoic Theodorus allowed himself to be lured away by one of the "working girls" and disappeared into the inn proper, though Martaine proved to be remarkably resistant to their attentions.

Sometime after midnight, an enormous wagon, large enough to be properly thought of as a wheelhouse, rolled slowly through the city gate, past the inn, and into the city. Though few of the by-then besotted and exhausted revelers much noted it at the time, when the wagon returned in a half-hour or so to stop just outside the courtyard of the Bad Pony it began to draw more attention. When the large door on the side opened and a large, seemingly metallic object apparently levitated itself to the ground outside, the attention turned to fascination. When this object slowly unfolded itself into a 12 foot tall mechanical construct that looked like some demon of iron, the fascination turned to an admixture of panic, drunken confusion and fear. And when the huge metallic figure opened its iron jaws and bellowed out "Theodorus" - most of the revelers, having likely never heard the name before, relaxed, resumed drinking, and watched to see what would happen. Theodorus, for his part, was still busy in an upstairs room of the Bad Pony, and realized too late that he'd inadvertently chosen a spectacularly bad time to break his usual rule against whoring - for the new master of the College had just arrived.

Ingolf could barely contain his amusement when Theodorus came bolting out of the inn, still tucking in various articles of clothing to their proper locations, while the two (!) young women who'd led him astray happily called his name out of the window. While everyone assembled watch, the iron guardian reached into the wheelhouse and produced a strange gilded chair, which it fastened to its own torso with an audible click. Then the creature reached almost gingerly inside the dark interior of the wagon once more, and cradled in its iron arms was a wizened, scowling and legless man, quite advanced in years and very unhappy looking. No one present need have been informed that this was master Basil himself, newly appointed dean of the Tavian College of Wizardry. The guardian placed the old man carefully into the chair, and he proceeded to chastise Theodorus thoroughly for failing to be in residence at the college upon his arrival.

Theodorus realized quickly that it was no time to protest that the new master had arrived ahead of schedule, and excused himself back to the college as tactfully as he might to set things right. On top of everything else, it seemed that the apprentice responsible for door warden duties that evening had flatly refused admission to master Basil, a fact which had not pleased the old man in the least. While Theodorus was off making the appropriate arrangements, master Basil accepted a bowl of beer from the remains of the evening partying and questioned several of those present regarding Theodorus. His friends all embellished their tales about him admirably if perhaps a bit too enthusiastically to truly fool the old man. Within a half hour, Theodorus had returned to inform Master Basil that everything was in readiness for his arrival and the guardian-cum-sedan chair construct made its way across town with the wheelhouse bringing up the rear.

At that point the beer was more or less exhausted, to say nothing of the beer-drinkers, and things began to quiet down. Martaine noticed during the commotion that once again, someone was scrying the group - specifically, Zaccara's room at the Bad Pony. Speculation that they were looking for the spear was rampant, and eventually Martaine and Zaccara elected to move it from the inn and hide it in a little-used store-room at the orphanage.

The next day the group was to learn from Theodorus that Master Basil was so eager to assume his new duties that he lectured for 3 hours the previous evening on Transmutational Alchemy, much to the delight of the apprentices (Most of whom rarely had the chance to stay up until 5 in the morning,) and that much to Theodorus' relief, Basil's impromptu questioning of the apprentices had turned out quite satisfactorily.

That morning, the new Master commanded Theodorus to arrange for the appropriate introductions, and also attended the meeting of the Bishop's Curia, where he caused something of a stir by not only leaving early, but by doing so without the Bishop's leave. Master Basil, it seemed, was far less concerned with pomp and circumstance than was his predecessor, the late Master Nicodemus. In fairness, Theodorus felt that this was to be expected from a man who explained his choice of magical disciplines by pointing to the stumps of his legs and quipping "If I hadn't been an Invoker, that damn thing might have eaten more of me than it did!" As to what, exactly, the thing that ate his legs was, Theodorus elected not to inquire.

Not long after these events, Ingolf and Aoelif ran into Brec while out riding, and she suggested to them that they should contact Lord Vihar (!) who was apparently having some troubles with bandits and necromancy in part of his demesne. She stressed that she had no desire to act as a go-between for the group, and that any commission they accepted from Vihar was strictly between the Ogre Lord and themselves. Ingolf and the alfar bard spoke privately together before he and Aoelif rode back to town to discuss Lord Vihar's request with the rest of the group, though he did not relate anything of his conversation to the others. In general, everyone seemed interested in hearing the Ogre's offer, though of course all (with the possible exception of Theodorus) suspect he has some ulterior motive behind his interest in them.


First Post
Episode 10: Into the Lands of the Necromancer

Time Elapsed: 5/29— 6/08/495 A.I.


Lord Theodorus arranged for the group to call on Lord Vihar at “his” estate in Tavia. Vihar, it turned out, spent only a few months every year in the city, and so he tended to stay on property actually owned by Earl Iustus. The Ealr was Tavia’s former feudal lord, with whom Lord Vihar had enjoyed many years of close association before the events that led to Baron Flavius’ arrival in Tavia. The group members made themselves presentable and headed to the noble quarter for dinner with the Ogre lord.

They were greeted at the door by a dour-looking orc in Lord Vihar’s livery, who asked their names and ushered them into an entrance hall. There yet another orc, this one well armed with wickedly curved scimitars and wearing gilded ringmail armor, watched them with a wary eye while a servant was sent for Lord Vihar. The Ogre appeared shortly, dressed in scarlet finery that served to make him even more imposing than normal. He lead the party past a large mosaic, only partially finished, which depicted Vihar clad in gilded armor and wielding some great throny mace in battle with a huge red Dragon. ‘

He offered refreshment and the group partook of his brandy and wine while attempting to make some “small talk” with their nine foot tall host. Vihar’s difficulties with the social graces were impossible not to notice, as he clutched a heavy black glass mug of brandy – a tankard to any of the humans or evles present - in a hand that made it look like a thimble. Still, it was equally clear that he strove to maintain human custom as best he was able, and certainly none of the very small and insignificant feeling members of the group were about to comment on Vihar’s lack of subtlety.

He asked the group about their latest escapade, and seemed particularly interested in discussing what, if any, treasures they’d recovered. Ingolf and Martaine both worked to change the subject to less dangerous matters, and before long it had drifted into other topics. Finally Vihar led the group into a dinning hall, the walls of which were covered in a staggering array of trophies from Vihar’s numerous adventures and hunting expeditions. Greatest among these was the gem-encrusted skull of a great dragon, presumably the one depicted in the mosaic. It seemed increasingly as if Earl Iustus’ estate was given over to Lord Vihar on a more or less permanent basis, as no trace of the Earl’s household or belongings was in evidence. Even the heavy gold and black volcanic glass dinnerware seemed far better suited to Vihar than to the Earl.

Dinner consisted of a whole roast pig and numerous side dishes, including eels, potatoes and cabbage with soured cream and paprika in everything. Once at table, any pretense of courtly grave was dropped by Viohar, who tucked into his pork with gusto and bid his guests to do likewise. After the main course was cleared away, Vihar made his proposal to the group – 2000 pieces of gold in advance, plus 500 per person and another 2000 bonus at the end of the escapade if they provided particularly useful information. The job in question was more of a scouting mission than anything – find the stronghold of a Necromancer who had been plagueing the trade routes for the last few years, learn what there was to be learned about him, hopefully capture one of his officers, and return. As to the Necromancer himself, Vihar regarded him as nothing more than a jumped-up bandit lord, of the type he’d seen come and go many times.

This one, though, seemed to be smarted and better organized than usual. For the past 5 years his band had slowly risen to power in the mountainous border region where the lands of the Dumbrani, Iconium and Rolgulka meet. He had a substantial following of well-organized and intelligent troops. His raiders made it a point not to attack very large caravans and they tended to raid slave caravans for new recruits. They also made it a point not to prey too heavily on the local settlements, buying from them rather than raiding, and as a result had some local support.

Some of the local settlements, though, had lately reported that someone had been raiding their boneyards, and Vihar feared that the Necromancer was building an even more extensive force, which is what lead to his increased interest in settling the matter. Vihar’s own elite guard, the Immortals, had been dispatched to see what they could learn. Orcs lack a certain subtlety, however, and they had torched several local villages that were less than cooperative, which only served to drive the other settlements to greater support for the Necromancer. Vihar had no doubt that his Immortals (one of whom, Arkon, was the scimitar-wielding guard that initially met the party at Vihar’s front door) could defeat the bandits in battle – once their base of operations could be found. Since the local peasantry was already disinclined to help Vihar, he had elected to keep the Immortals out of the area until he had more information.

As Vihar’s offer seemed generous enough, the group quickly agreed, whereupon he supplied them with a map and his personal sign, the latter rather painfully branded into Ingolf’s palm. The alfar bard was not particularly pleased at being permanently identified as in Lord Vihar’s employ, but at the moment there was little he could do about it. After a dessert of some rather odd-tasting custard, the group made their excuses and set off to purchase supplies and make preparations.

As the Undead were likely to be involved, several potions and scrolls of restorative magic were at the top of the list. Once these itmes, as well as a new warhorse for Zaccara and rations and feed in general were secured, the group headed out towards the Rulgulkan border. The trip was well over a week, most of which was not on the well-paved roads of the Empire but the dirt cart tracks of the hinterlands, but eventually the group passed out of the Empire of man and back into the no-man’s land between her numerous faerie neighbors. After dealing with some greedy spriggan bandits by promising a tithe of any treasure won on their return trip, the group was firmly in fae territory, and a few days later drew close to Wojdar – the first village within the Necromancer’s sphere of influence and one still somewhat loyal to Vihar.

Despite this fact, it seemed prudent not to immediately reveal the true purpose of the group’s visit to the area, and so a tale was concocted. Theodorus and Nicasia, the story went, were idle human nobles seeking to hunt Dire Boar in the area. Zaccara was their bodyguard, Theodorus their priest, Aoelif their hunter and Ingolf their interpreter. This was the story told to the orcish gate guards at Wojdar, along with Ingolf’s embellishment that he meant to cheat the humans out of their gold when he got back to Tavia, thrown in at the last moment (and without the rest of the group’s knowledge) in an attempt to win some respect from the orcs. Eventually a price for a nights lodging was agreed on, and as there was no proper inn the group was quartered in an abandoned house. They had a chance to meet Slava, a priest of The hanged God, and orcish deity who required his prospective clergy to hang from the neck by a rope for at least 48 hours before he would accept them. Slava still more the signs of his hanging in his crooked neck and rope-scar, not to mention the fact that the severed noose from which he’d hung was still around his neck. He was, to say the least, a disconcerting host.

Slave revealed, to the discomfort of his fellow orcs, that lately bodies had been disappearing from the sacred grove where the adherent of The Hanged God were hung after death. He also warned the group about the necromancer and told them to avoid certain areas while hunting so as to steer clear of his bandits. Ultimately, Ingolf decided to reveal some more of the truth to Slava, and told him that the group had been dispatched by Vihar to scout out this necromancers troops. This Vihar had done out of his concern for the local villages. Slava didn’t seem to buy Vihar’s motive, but he recognized Vihar’s symbol. He told the group that he would not lend them any guides, as he did not want to bring the wrath of the Necromancer down on his people, but he did tell them where the sacred grove was. The group elected to begin searching there at once.

The grove itself was a mile or so from Wojdar, and was an eerily gruesome sight. Several huge and ancient oaks stood in a loose circle, and ropes beyond counting hung from the branches. Some of the oldest looking ropes still had nooses tied to their rotting ends, but many of the newer ones had been cut about 10 or so feet from the ground. Numerous odd markings were also found in the soil, and Aoelif eventually realized that they were the marks made as if by some giant had been raking the soil into a pile. There were no bodies, but only a few scattered random bones.

What had happened seemed obvious enough – someone, or something, had cut down the bodies still hanging, then proceeded to rake the bones and other remains into a pile. Not far off, near a stream, Martaine found a few more bones and a huge footprint. Aoelif determined that something had walked down the stream bed, and a few hundred yards off ingold uncovered a huge bag or sack that had seemingly torn and been discarded. In the water next to it were numerous bones. These Martine collected and returned to the circle of trees. Darkness was approaching, and the group decided to return at first light in the hopes that either Aoelif or Theodorus’ canine familiar could find a trail to follow.

Slava was pleased to learn that the group had restored some of the bones to the sacred grove, and rewarded them with a single potion of curative magic. The next morning, the party set out again with full provisions, and Theodorus’ hound quickly found a scent, which he followed straight into the heart of the Rolgulkan mountains. The scent proved to be a strong one, and the group followed it all day. It lead after a while to a narrow road, or wide game-trail, that went up the side of a mountain in a series of switchbacks. With sunset upon them, the group made a cold camp in the middle of this trail.

Less than an hour before sunrise the next morning Ingolf’s sharp ears detected the sound of a troop of some sort coming down the trail above. He quickly and quietly roused the group and in short order a small company of orcs being lead by what appeared to be some sort of shaman were seen coming down the road. For their part, the orcs cried out as soon as the group was spotted and charged ahead. Ingolf and Martaine answered with arrows and spells while Zaccara gave his new spear it’s first combat trial, and in very short order the orcs lay dead or dying except the shaman. He crushed a vial of something in his mouth, though it seemed to have no effect, and he was quickly surrounded and subdued.

Will this shaman be the servant of the Necromancer the group hopes to capture? What sort of giant is cutting down and hauling off the bodies of dead orcs to be raised as a skeletal army? What was Lord Vihar's *real* reason for sending the PCs off into Rolgulka? And what about those spriggans? Keep reading next week and find out . . .

NPCs Encountered

Slava — Priest of the Hanged God, headman of Wojdar

Arkon — Captain of the Immortals, Vihar's elite guard

Lord Vihar — Ogre Mage Lord of the Vale of Thunder.


First Post
Episode 11: "To the Pit!"

Time Elapsed: 6/08 - 6/09/495 A.I.


Upon being interrogated, the orcish captive revealed that his name was Dusan. He was reluctant at first to volunteer any information, aside from the fact that he was a devotee of Nyag, the orcish god of undeath. When he was confronted with the option of either talking and being allow to go free, or else being turned over to Lord Vihar, Dusan quickly changed his tune and became a veritable font of information.

Dusan was a servant of Kamak, a female hobgoblin cleric and one of the Necromancer’s underlings. He had been on patrol with his troop of orcs gathering bones with the help of a hill giant named Jolgeir. Recently Jolgeir and half of Dusan’s forces were dispatched back to Kamak’s encampment, where she is preparing a huge charnel pit integral to a ritual the Necromancer intends to perform in three days time.

This ritual, which requires not only a tremendous amount of dead bodies but also the presence of various undead, will summon one of the “Great Worms of Nyag” – a gargantuan undead serpent capable of creating nearly limitless numbers of undead troops. The Necromancer, who Dusan believed to be a half-orc, planned to use this new army of the dead to establish a permanent kingdom in the area.

Finally, Dusan gave the group information concerning the numbers of orcs and hobgoblins present at Kamak’s encampment, and also drew a crude map showing the locations of the camp where she was preparing for the arrival of the Necromancer as well as her permanent hideout. Dusan warned the party that the giant Jolgeir and his pet wolves would most likely be guarding the top of the mountain pass they were currently headed towards, and through which they had to travel to reach either Kamak’s fortress or her current encampment.

For their part, the group remained true to their word and released Dusan once he’d surrendered all of this information, although they did relieve him of his weapons first. Once the half-orc shaman was well on his way, the company resumed their climb, with the rogue Ingolf scouting a short distance ahead. Ingolf, well aware that stealth is less useful against a foe that could sniff him out, rode ahead rather than skulking, and nearly rode into a lupine ambush when two enormous wolves leapt at him from the underbrush. The alfar was barely able to control his mount, and rode back to his friends with the dire wolves in hot pursuit. Along with their howls, the group could hear the sounds of extremely heavy footsteps coming down the path towards them.

The two wolves reached the party first, and attempted to flank. Ingolf was borne to the ground by the leader and badly wounded before Zaccara put the spear of Balor to good use and slew the beast. The other wolf took longer in his attempts to circle the party, and Aoelif and Zaccara both were able to intercept it. They slew it just as the first hurled boulders from the onrushing giant crashed into the midst of the group, wounding Martaine and sending everyone scrambling for cover. Once his supply of missiles was exhausted, Jolgeir rushed towards the group with a low laugh, clearly relishing the coming combat. Zaccara and Aoelif engaged at once, and Theodorus attempted to ensnare the 10’ tall humanoid in a Web. Nicasia maintained a barrage of magic missiles while Zaccara and Aoelif occupied the giant’s attention. Both were sorely wounded when suddenly Zaccara saw a choice opening in the giant’s defenses and thrust his spear cleanly through the thing’s throat and out the back of his neck, killing him instantly.

Zaccara and Martaine elected to dismember the gigantic corpse, to make any future animations more difficult. Ingolf quickly located his over-sized hut and ransacked the giant’s treasure, a large collection of gold and silver coin, as well as a few gems, all contained in a magical bag of holding. At this point the entire group elected to rest and recuperate before pressing on towards Kamak’s encampment, though they had as yet no clear idea of what they would do once they reached it.

The group moved some distance form the giant’s hut and camped for the night in the sparse woods. Ultimately, the decision was taken to attack Kamak’s camp, hopefully disrupting the preparations for the summoning ritual and delaying the Necromancer’s plans. The next morning, the party rode towards Kamak’s encampment, with Ingolf scouting ahead – this time afoot and with all the stealth he could muster. The precise location of the camp was easily determined by noting the huge numbers of circling vultures overhead – no doubt drawn to the charnel pit being prepared for the summoning.

Ingolf crept to within a stone’s throw of the pit under the cover of the woods. What he saw nearly turned his stomach – a huge pit filled with every manner of dead body, both human, orc and animal, being guarded by a contingent of squinting orcs and their hobgoblin superiors. As Ingolf watched, one of the hobgoblins drew a powerful looking composite bow and felled one of the feasting carrion birds, adding yet another corpse to the pit. Ingolf crept back and reported his findings to the rest of the group.

A plan of attack was put together. The group would maneuver within striking distance of the guards, using cover and Nicasia’s wand of invisibility where necessary. Theodorus would signal the beginning of the attack by ensnaring what appeared to be the commander’s tent with a web spell, hopefully also entrapping the worgs lying nearby. This would also have the handy effect of dividing the encampment in two, causing delays for at least half of the orcs (unless they chose to cross the pit full of dead bodies.) As everyone was moving cautiously into position, stifling their gag reflex brought on by the stench of the pit, the apparent commander of the guard began rousing the sleeping orcs in several of the tents – it seemed that it was time to change the guard.

The group quickly realized that they would get no better chance to launch their attack than during the general confusion while the guards were arming and armoring themselves, and so they put their plan into motion. Theodorus ensnared the command tent and both of the worgs, but also unfortunately laid a portion of his web over the still smoldering cookfire. Ingolf, Nicasia and Martaine launched an opening salvo of arrows and crossbow bolts which eliminated several of the guards while Zaccara and Aoelif charged the nearest group of groggy, newly-awakened orcs.

As soon as the battle was joined in full, Ingolf and Theodorus could make out the harsh voice of the hobgoblin commanders calling out in alarm, and it became apparent that Kamak herself was trapped in her tent by Theodorus’ web spell. That bit of success was offset by the fact that, from a cage in the midst of the charnel pit, two emaciated, howling undead emerged and began making their way at once towards Zaccara. These could only be the wights that Dusan had warned the group were integral to the completion of the summoning ritual. To make matter worse, from out of the ground in front of Kamak’s tent suddenly erupted a bizarre, three-armed, three-legged creature the likes of which none of the group had ever seen. Its intentions as it dove back into the earth and began burrowing towards Theodorus were clear.

The campfire ignited Thedorus’ web, freeing one of the worgs which immediately launched itself towards him. Zaccara left Aoelif the onrushing orcs to deal with, and moved to position himself between Theodorus, the worg, and the rapidly approaching wights. Ingolf also charged out of his hiding place, singing a rousing alfar battle hymn, and moved between the wights and the mage.

As the orcs closed with Aoelif, Theodorus was forced to the ground by the worg and expelled the last charge from his potent wand of magic missiles against the creature. Martaine closed the distance towards the wights, and called on the power of his god to dispel the living dead creatures. Both of them were cowed by the glory of Logos and turned to flee. Ingolf and Zaccara combined to fell one of them before it could even move, and a moment later as the second fled past them they dealt with it in similar fashion. Aoelif was holding off a horde of orcish warriors with a little help from Theodorus’ sleep spell when suddenly, Kamak’s summoned ally burst from the ground between her and Zaccara. Inspired, perhaps, by his success against the giant, Zaccara wasted no time in driving his spear full-length through the creature’s body, with dramatic – and fatal – results.

Then the real carnage began.

Zaccara waded into the orcs like a man possessed, wielding the spear of Balor in both hands, and bring a degree of slaughter to the squinting, unarmored humanoids that no one- not even Zaccara himself - expected. Aoelif, Ingolf and Martaine did their best to keep up, but in short order the ground was littered with so many orcish bodies that the battlefield looked more like a slaughterhouse. The remaining orcs, on seeing this carnage, wisely opted to turn tail and run, and a few of them managed to escape.

Kamak herself never entered the fray. Finally free from her enwebbed tent, she lauched an ineffectual spell at Zaccara, but on seeing her minions driven like cattle, she opted to exercise the better part of valor herself and she, too, fled. Ingolf and Aoelif gave chase, but the crafty hobgoblin downed potions of invisibility and flight in order to make good her escape. Theodorus intoned a quick scroll he’d prepared while still in Tavia, and was able to pierce the veil of Kamak’s invisibility, and so the chase was on . . .

Notable Quotes:

"To the Pit!" -- the players refrain whenever an orc was slaughtered.

NPCs Encountered

Dusan — Priest of Nyag, turncoat

Kamak — one of the Necromancer's captains, a cleric of Nyag

Jolgeir - giant, pushing up the dasies.


First Post
Episode 12: Zlata's Surprise

Time Elapsed: 6/09 - 6/21/495 A.I.


The chase, as it developed, was only on for a step or two. Despite Ingolf and Aoelif’s protests, the rest of the company decided that trying to chase down Kamak would not be worth the trouble. She had a substantial lead and knew the area, not to mention the fact that she was invisible and flying. So it was decided to quickly loot her command tent, round up any available horses and head back towards Tavia, by way of the orc village of Wodjar.

Aside from a few scrolls, the only loot of consequence to be had in Kamak’s tent was the bizarre necklace that the Necromancer used to teleport across great distances. The half-orc Dusan had explained this artifact, and related that in order to function it had to be draped over the neck of a zombie or other undead creature, which was destroyed in the teleportation process – a procedure Dusan had referred to as “Necroporting.” The group hoped that by capturing this necklace as well as various other religious items, they had postponed or prevented the summoning ritual. These treasures were loaded up and the trip back to Tavia begun. Although the entire group were watching constantly for signs of Kamak or any other of the Necromancer’s forces, none were to be seen.

The trip back to Wodjar was largely uneventful, until the sudden arrival of some strange burrowing beast with an apparent taste for horseflesh spelled doom for yet another of Zaccara’s mounts. Zaccara was lucky to escape with his life after his horse was bitten nearly in half by the creature, and when Aoelif and Theodorus’ mounts both spooked and ran, the seemingly insensate beast turned on the rest of the group with tooth and claw. Martaine and Ingolf quickly moved to flank the thing, and Nicasia rained down a volley of magic missiles. The creature shrugged off blow after blow, pressing it’s attack regardless of the odds weighing heavily against it, and after a few moments of fierce combat it was finally slain. Ingolf removed a portion of the creature’s hard, shell-like back plate as a trophy and tied it to his saddle horn before the group moved on.

At Wodjar, the orcish shaman Slava greeted the group warmly and they related to him the unfortunate news regarding the remains stolen from the village “cemetery.” At Ingolf’s suggestion, Slava made a show of cursing the group and driving them out of the village, in the hopes that the other villages would think he was displeased at their attack upon the Necromancer’s forces, in the event he had agents among the populace. In truth, the priest of the Hanged God was pleased to learn of the blow struck against the servants of Nyag. Before “driving them out” he also told the group that a company of Vihar’s Immortals, along with his consort Zlata, were encamped near the trade road. Slava’s last words to the group warned them not to trust Vihar’s “witch.”

Late that night, camped alongside the road through faerie, the group became aware that they were, yet again, being scried. This time, however, the unseen observer chose to reveal himself – it was the Necromancer himself, with many questions. He demanded to know who had employed the party to spy on him and disrupt his ceremony, and offered outrageous sums of gold for the party’s loyalty. No answer to his questions were forthcoming, though, and when he saw Zaccara’s spear, he seemed to believe that the cult of Balor had sent the group. This notion was reaffirmed by Theodorus, and the Necromancer swore that Balor could not destroy the cult of Nyag, saying that he had failed during his reign and would fail again – despite the current Rolgulkan nobles that had flocked to Balor’s cause. This last statement did little to reassure the group, most if not all of whom already had grave suspicions about Vihar’s intentions. No further disturbances troubled them that evening, however, and in the morning they resumed their march towards the Iconian frontier.

Early the next day the group came across the Immortal’s bivouac: five large white canvas tents surrounded by a silk “privacy fence.” Ingolf couldn’t help but get the feeling that the company was expected. Arkon, the twin-sword wielding orcish commander of the Immortals, met the group at the edge of the encampment, and showed them to a tent where they could make themselves presentable before being escorted to Zlata. He warned them not to eat of the food in the tent, claiming that it was for members of the Immortals only. As this food proved on closer inspection to look very much like dried orc flesh, this commandment was not difficult to obey.

The party then proceeded to get their story straight, well aware of the possibility of being overheard by the orc guards without the tent but unable to really do anything about it. The general consensus amongst the members of the company was that neither Zlata nor Vihar could be trusted, but it was to Lord Vihar that a complete reckoning of what had been learned was due, not to Zlata. Ultimately it was decided to fill her in on the basics, leaving out the sensitive issues of the Necromancer’s contact with the group and his “Necroport” abilities.

Finally the party was presented to Zlata in her pavilion. She received their report earnestly after warmly greeting both Theodorus and Zaccara. She also penned a letter to her “husband” Vihar, purported praising the group’s thoroughness, and received from Martaine a hand-drawn map detailing what the group had learned about the Necromancer’s area of operation. Once the business was conducted, Zlata relaxed a bit. She provided a stout fortified Iconian wine to everyone present and discussed her own travels back to Rolgulka and the Vale of Thunder to prepare Lord Vihar’s holdings for his eventual return home. Zlata pressed the group to accompany her the rest of the way, as they had given there report to her and Arkon regarding the Necromancer, and she seemed dismayed by Ingolf’s insistence that the entire company travel back to Tavia to report personally to Vihar himself.

Zlata insisted that the group remain in her encampment for the night at least, and as there seemed to be no easy way to avoid this, all agreed. She feasted the company (presumably not on food reserved only for Vihar’s Immortals) and was as charming as a 9’ tall, boar-tusked woman can possibly be. She also seemed quite content to be away from her “husband” Vihar, and made rather blatant advances on Ingolf. The young alfar bard had no particular desire to become the subject of a bloody tapestry on the wall of Vihar’s summer home, so he declined adamantly, pointing out to Zlata that Vihar would need to exercise only the least part of his famed might to quash Ingolf like an insect. Zlata at that point asked Ingolf how he would feel about reporting to her concerning Vihar’s movements – who he was sleeping with, who he was meeting with, and so forth. She offered him a rather heavy looking pearl in return for any intelligence he could provide, and so Ingolf accepted, grateful to have the conversation deflected from the prospect of becoming Zlata’s paramour. Zlata also took a moment to remove Vihar’s brand from Ingolf palm with a kiss – a turn of events that was unexpected if not welcome.

Rebuffed by the comely elf, Zlata turned her attention to the spear-wielding, foul-smelling human fighter, who at first blush seemed a more appropriate choice to warm her bed in the first place. Zaccara had none of Ingolf’s misgivings and rapidly accepted the ogress’ advances. He also allowed her to handle his spear, not for the last time that night as it turned out, and all were a bit concerned when they saw exactly how Balor’s weapon responded to her touch, becoming larger and even more sinister looking. She told Zaccara to expect the spear to grow in power as he advanced his own skill, and she also made an offer to have Balor’s mark removed from his neck. This intrigued him more than anything, and he promised to speak with her further in the future.

After more wine was served and food consumed, the group was shown to a tent for the evening, apart from Zaccara, who was lead of to whatever fate awaited him by Zlata’s eunuch butler, after receiving a stern lecture from Martaine (followed by a Bull’s Strength when the priest could not dissuade Zaccara from his sinful course of action.) None of the group were particularly thrilled with the idea of spending the night in the middle of the Immortal’s encampment, but all were in need of sleep. Ingolf summoned forth Cu Dunn, his magical onyx dog, and instructed him to wake the group if he detected anyone sneaking around the area of the tent. With that, the group apart from Zaccara fell into a heavy sleep, aided in some cases by the large quantities of wine they’d consumed, wondering what would become of Zaccara and if perhaps they entire company had made a grave error in ever speaking with Zlata at all.

Zaccara, for his part, did not reappear until the next morning. None in the group failed to note that, not only was he dressed in the height of Rolgulkan fashion, he hardly stank at all. As the group made ready to depart, Zaccara proved to be something less than gentlemanly about the whole affair, and related the tale of his evening’s experience thus:

“Well, first off that big nutless mountain of flesh that waits on her, I forget the name, first off he took me outside the camp down to that little stream and told me to undress. I went for my sword, but he got all upset an’ said I had ta’ wash up before Zlata would see me. That sorta’ made me mad, ya’ know, cause I don’t much go in for that fancy stuff, plus I’m thinking, she’s an ogre, right? But I figured I could go along this once. So I got naked and hoped in the water, and that bastard took my clothes and burned ‘em!”

Nicasia and Theodorus, at least, were actually somewhat relieved by the revelation that Zaccara’s lousy garments wouldn’t be making the trip back to Tavia with the rest of the group. The fighter continued:

“So then he scrubbed me damn near raw, and gave me this get-up to wear. Somebody remind me to change into something else before we meet Vihar. Wouldn’t do to greet the man in clothes his wife give me. So anyway, after that, they put this stinking stuff on me, some sort of perfume I guess, and took me to her tent. She was dressed in some bit of silk or other, but not for long, heh.”

Aoelif interjected her disgust at Zaccara’s willingness to sleep with the ogress, which prompted Zaccara’s final revelation and nearly sparked a brawl between the two: “Funny thing, that. Guess the old orc was right, Zlata is a witch after all. After we got down to business she did some sort of magic. Guess what Aoelif, she made herself look just like you! It was great!”

Only the sudden appearance of Arkon prevented the pair from coming to blows. It seemed like a good moment to depart, and so the company mounted up and left the Immortals camp behind them. Zlata, being a late riser, didn’t bother to see them off. The remainder of the trip back to Tavia was peaceful, aside from Zaccara’s constant baiting of Aoelif and her continued offers to settle the matter with steel.

Footsore, dust-covered and weary, the group arrived back in Tavia in a week’s time, after paying off the spriggan hiwaymen they’d met on the trip into Rolgulka with “one tenth” of the loot they’d recovered. By amazing coincidence, Ingolf convinced them, this amounted to nothing but one large sack of copper coins – which the two shape changing giants were pleased to get. Back in the city, the gave a report to Vihar, turned over the “Necroporting” necklace to him, delivered Zlata’s letter, and by and large were glad to be done with the affair. He paid them the full agreed upon amount, as well as a bonus, but left them with a tremendous number of unanswered questions regarding the what they’d just done on his behalf. As it is generally unwise to pry into the affairs of the nobility, and double so when the noble in question is 10’ tall and muscled like a young god, the group decided that the answers could wait for another day.

Notable Quotes:

"Bwahahahaha" -- the players, sans Jessica when Zlata polymorphed herself into Aoelif for her lovemaking session with Zaccara

NPCs Encountered

Lady Zlata— Vihar's consort

Slava — Priest of the Hanged God, headman of Wojdar

Arkon — Captain of the Immortals, Vihar's elite guard

Lord Vihar — Ogre Mage Lord of the Vale of Thunder.

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