Erkonin (Campaign #2) [Session 45: Rajalmin's Agent]


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 11: We Found Some Gnolls

Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk (Way of the Sun Soul)
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter (Champion)
Mia - Firbolg Druid (Circle of the Land (Forest))

GM - Everyone Else

26 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 27)

We headed out from Erlin very early in the morning. The kids that had fled to the city to warn them of the gnolls had traveled six or seven days on the road and a day or two (or maybe more -- they were in a panic and not paying attention) off-road. They had been able to tell us where we should leave the road, so we knew what landmarks to be looking for.

As we rode along on the loaner horses from the guard, we talked about what we collectively knew about gnolls. In addition to the very common knowledge (they often travel with hyenas and there are multiple different kinds of them) - Elderron was able to tell us that because they are, literally, demon-spawn, they generate weird effects in the area around them. The effects vary but include roaming packs of hyenas, unnatural spoilage of food, freaked out animals, strange human behavior, etc. Gnolls are destroyers -- they leave behind a swath of destruction. They don’t loot or pillage, they simply kill and destroy.

We made camp after an uneventful day of traveling. As we were choosing a spot for our camp in a large grassy area with a stand of trees in the distance, we noticed that the stand of trees looked like giant skeletons, swaying in the wind.

Vinya, Elderron, and Mia went to look at the giant skeletons, while Aldalomiel, Marxine and Lamie stayed to set up camp.

As we got closer we could see that the trees were really birch trees -- deciduous, so their leaves had fallen by mid-winter. Elderron didn’t get the sense that they were magical or that there could be a magical effect that would do this. Vinya broke off a twig. Mia had never seen birch trees that looked like this and was suspicious.

But after a bit, we realized that there was nothing here but weird looking birch trees. So we went back to where the party was camping -- cold and dark because we were actually out looking for an enemy army and wanted to break camp early in the morning.

The night passed without incident.

27 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 28)

We broke camp really early to head out quickly. The first half of the day passed without any incident at all - the road paralleled the river (more or less) and it was all quiet.

About lunch time the road went through a gulch with cliff faces on either side of it. At one point, on opposite sides, we could see carved faces on the walls of the cliff. These were not like Annam’s Face (the giant face in the cliff we saw when we first emerged from the Fomori cavern system in this part of Urnod) -- Annam’s face is a natural feature that just looks like a giant face and took on religious significance (in deep history) because of that. These are really detailed carved faces, a la Mt. Rushmore. One of them had its mouth open and was yelling. The other had its face turned slightly away and its mouth closed. The faces were different -- clearly these were representations of different people. The faces were incredibly lifelike. Their eyes were open and they were looking at each other, but there was no indication of superiority or rank between them. Marxine got the sense that these were really old carvings.

At the same time, we heard a really low-pitched sound in the air -- so low we were feeling it more than we were seeing it and it was hard to localize the source of the sound.

We also saw some fortifications at the tops of the cliffs.

Vinya rode a few steps forward and said “Hello” in all the languages she knows (Common, Elvish, and Celestial). Everyone else in the party followed suit. There was no response from the faces.

We were on the main road from Erlin to Lonoj (and then on to New Arvai, one of the biggest cities on Urnod) and there is a fair amount of traffic along it. If there were any danger or threat in this, people would know (and the road would be somewhere else). Particularly because we were only a day and a half from Erlin.

We continued on our way and the rest of the day passed without incident.

We made camp out in the open, so we could see any enemies coming toward us. The night was dark -- the new moon is only a few nights away and there was little light in the sky.

The night passed.

28 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 29)

The morning dawned a bit warmer, but dry. This was an almost springlike day, but overcast. We proceeded through a stretch of trees and dense forest. Just off the road in the middle of this dense forest was a bare patch about half an acre in size -- in the middle of that patch was something grey and large. We stopped to take a look.

The large grey thing was a gargantuan statue of a winged lizard frozen in position. The bare patch was completely bare -- not even a bit of grass or the smallest start of the forest encroaching on it. The edges of the patch were very crisp and clear -- abrupt even -- and there was nothing inside it except bare earth and the statue. The statue was shockingly realistic -- or it was originally. It now showed signs of long-term weathering and rain but it was clearly of an ancient dragon. It appeared that an ancient dragon got turned to stone during the Giant-Dragon War.

Mia couldn’t get a good handle on what was keeping the ground barren but it was utterly so -- the earth itself was hard, ossified, with a texture like sandstone, though the statue looked more like granite.

Vinya climbed up the statue to see if it let her see above the trees, but it wasn’t tall enough. So Elderron sent Oda up above the trees looking for any sign of the gnolls. He didn’t see anything.

We resumed proceeding and the rest of the day passed. We made camp in the open after the forest thinned out -- dark and cold -- and the night passed as well.

29 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 30)

We broke camp on a cold and drizzly morning. Oda flew around to take a look while we were doing so. Mia was with the horses getting them ready and the rest of us were rolling up bedrolls.

Elderron, Elama and Aldalomiel felt the ground moving and a horrible, beaked thing, a bulette, came up out of the ground on the other side of the horses. Its giant beak snapped closed, but it didn’t manage to catch or hurt the horse it was near.

Aldalomiel took a shot at it, bouncing an arrow off the thick armor between its eyes. Elama cast a guiding bolt right in its face to try and scare it away -- hitting it and setting it to sparkling and glowing. That made it easier for Elderron to hit with his chromatic orb, which he had doing acid damage. Nice.

The horses, not being stupid, scattered -- the one next to the bulette dodged away and didn’t get eaten by the monster as it fled. Four went in one direction and two in another.

Without a horse to try and eat, the bulette attacked Mia and hit her, hard. Aldalomiel did a sharpshooter shot at it, hitting for a whole lot of damage. Marxine rushed up and attacked with the new battleaxe she’d picked up in Erlin but just missed with both her main attack and her action surge.

Marxine: I’m here to be bitten.

Elama, watching Marxine’s blows bounce off the thick armor, cast bless on Aldalomiel, Vinya and Marxine.

Vinya attacked and missed with her quarterstaff, but got in a good kick at it. Elderron hit it with a higher level magic missile.

Mia moved around so that she and Vinya were flanking it, then hit it with her shillelagh. In doing so, she was hoping to be behind it and not its target.

Unfortunately, it tracked her as she moved and it attacked her again, dropping her with a huge bite from its beak.

Aldalomiel took another shot at it -- getting a critical hit with an arrow to the eye that dropped it mere moments after it dropped Mia. The arrow went through the eye and well into the brain box.

Elama rushed over and performed CPR on Mia by casting healing word on her.

While Elama was helping Mia to her feet, the rest of us rounded up the horses. Fortunately they were well-trained guard horses and hadn’t stayed panicked for long.

Mia, Elderron and Marxine rested for an hour while Vinya, Elama and Aldalomiel soothed the horses and broke camp. Then we headed out on our way.

The day passed.

In the evening, we made camp. As we were setting up, we saw something the size of a small hill floating toward us from the east about 150 feet above the ground. It was once a hill with a human-scale tower on top, but now it was uprooted from the ground and floating upside down, so the tower pointed toward the ground. The tower was broken. It was floating in a sort of random walk, but was not drifting entirely randomly or blowing with the wind.

Elderron sent Oda up to take a look at it and report back. Oda’s report conveyed that there were no floors in the tower -- it looked like it had been hundreds of years abandoned. It wasn’t clear whether it had been broken before or after it began floating upside down. The top side of the hill (what would have been the bottom when it was right-side up) looked like earth that has been ripped out of the ground. There was no sign of vegetation or life on that patch of floating earth.

Marxine: This is some wizard naughty word.

Elderron and Mia agreed -- both of them had heard about wizards floating towers using some sort of high ritual magic. Clearly something had gone wrong with the ritual, which was why it was upside-down.

Elderron: I want to go up there.
Vinya: Me too! How do we get there?

We all wanted to get up to the floating tower, except Marxine who thought it was irritatingly whimsical, but we couldn’t figure out how to get up to it. The floating island moved out of sight while we talked about it.

The night passed without incident.

30 Marroin 749 (Campaign day 31)

The next day we woke to a much colder day with snow falling. As the snow accumulated on the ground it was red.

Marxine: That’s gnoll naughty word.

Oda went up to look ahead. He saw a semi-fortified ranch about a half a day south of us, with cattle inside the walled fortification. On the very distant horizon, he saw a wisp of smoke.

We mounted up and rode hard and fast to the ranch, getting there in a couple of hours, rather than half a day. We saw a group of people on horseback moving cattle toward the fortification. We rode up to them fast, waving our arms and yelling about gnolls.

As we rode close, we saw a couple of people with crossbows on top of the wall.

We told the people on horses, most of them human though there was a half-orc and the group was led by a tiefling, that an army of gnolls was coming and they should probably get out of their way.

Tiefling: Mr. Alzey probably won’t want to leave.

They took us with them to the ranch. Once there, Elderron sent Oda up to look again to see if the gnoll army had moved in our direction since this morning. The rancher, Alzey Telsom, pointed out that armies don’t move all that quickly, not even ravaging armies. They were probably two days or more away and it would probably take us about a day to get to them.

Marxine, to the rancher: Do you know of anything between here and there?
Mr. Alzey: Our neighbors, if you like. They’re in a less defended settlement. No walls.
Elderron: They’re two days away?
Mr. Alzey: If you ride as hard as you were when you arrived here, it’d be about a day. If you’re coming back we can give you fresh horses. [looking at Mia] We even have one that will do for you.

We accepted their offer of fresh horses and headed out, riding as fast as the horses could manage. As we got closer the smoke in the sky got clearer and nearer. We also noticed that the snow fell looking like normal when it first landed but it lay on the ground bright scarlet, then it crusted over with a red-black like a scab.

As we got close, just after sunset, we stopped and tied up the horses. We talked about what we need to know for Captain Althorn in Erlin -- he wanted to know numbers, location, armor and arms, movement direction, etc.

We decided that Mia (in the form of a hyena), Vinya (with invisibility cast on her), Elderron (with Oda in the air), and Aldalomiel would go sneaking to scout the camp and get the informaiton. Elama and Marxine stayed with the horses and made a base camp, basically by sitting down and declaring the space “base camp” and making it a space Aldalomiel could lead us back to. Elama climbed into a tree. Marxine did not.

Many of the people in the stealth party stepped on twigs or immediately found a patch of dry leaves and rustled through it. Mia, with hyena senses, realized that the gnolls’ hyenas smelled like smoke and human blood and she did not. She sat down. Aldalomiel and Elderron realized they were not being quiet and sat down with her.

Vinya, invisible, was more sneaky and she went into the camp and got a good look. She counted a total of 24 hyenas, 38 gnolls, 6 human-sized walking mouths (the description the boys in Erlin gave was very accurate) with 4 legs, 4 arms and a mouth that opens vertically downward.

There was no sign of human life remaining in the settlement. The gnolls were milling about burning things and eating what they found. As she watched, Vinya saw that there were some smaller groups within the larger assembly that seemed to stick together.

She figured out there were four groups -- the main body of the army and three splinter groups. None of those groups were patrolling at this time, but if they were to send out an advance band, it would probably be one of the splinter groups. Of course, it occurred to her that there might be an advance band on the move already. Some of the gnolls were surrounded by packs of hyenas. There did appear to be some leader-types. One appeared to be in charge of each of the smaller groups and one who was in charge of the whole army, who appeared to be in charge because he was bigger and tougher looking.

They had no siege engines or complicated weapons -- they were armed with spears and poorly-made longbows. There was no sign of magic, except the maw things.

They had clearly thoroughly sacked and destroyed the ranch and were probably going to be moving on before too long. Gnolls don’t loot -- they kill and destroy and burn. If there was any treasure in this ranch it would still be in the ranch when they leave.

Vinya circled the ranch -- it was clear that they’d come from the south and were heading north. They would get to Mr. Alzey’s ranch first and then Erlin a few days after that.

She went back to where Mia, Aldalomiel and Elderron had stopped and tapped Aldalomiel on the shoulder.

Vinya: Let’s go back.

Back with the others we discussed the situation. It appeared that the smaller advance bands would leave first, heading off on different tracks heading in the same direction. If one of the advance bands found something, they’d make a lot of noise and get a lot of attention, then the other advance bands and the main body would follow.

We talked some about what we knew of gnolls, based on general knowledge we’d gained in our lives. There are some special gnolls, the ones accompanied by hyenas -- if those gnolls kill someone and the hyenas eat what they kill, the hyenas will then become gnolls. This is how they reproduce. Vinya had seen four of those gnolls with the hyena packs around them. She’d also seen several that looked really scarily fast and some that looked like they might be stealthier or sneakier than others.

It appeared that each of the advance squads included 8 gnolls, 1 demon, and 4 hyenas. Of the 8 gnolls, one was a speedy gnoll, one was a sneaky gnoll, and one was a brawny breeder gnoll.

We also had heard that everything eaten by the Maw Demons, the proper name for the walking mouths, winds out in the gullet of Yeenoghu, the demon behind, and empowering, gnolls.

We sent the information we had on the dragon paper back to Captain Althorn -- including numbers of the whole band and the various special kinds we’d seen, the structure of the army as far as the advance bands (and the composition of the advance bands). We also included that Mr. Alzey Telsom’s ranch was in their direct line of march toward Erlin and was probably going to be their next target in a day or so. We said that we were going to be at Alzey’s ranch, but if they needed us to be elsewhere, including back in Erlin, they could let us know and we’d go where told.

After sending the dragon paper on its way, we rode as hard and as fast as the horses could manage through the night back to the ranch. We got back in the morning to find that all of the cattle had been brought into the fortified compound.

1 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 32)

We talked with Mr. Alzey about the defense of the ranch. He said they’d have ten people on the walls with crossbows, who would then fight if the gnolls got into the enclosure. There was also Mr. Alzey, his wife, and their grown son.

Elderron: How many people were at that other place?
Mr. Alzey: There were more people, but they didn’t have walls.
Elderron: Oh.

We talked with Mr. Alzey and some of the ranch hands about whether we could find a pressure point to ambush them before they got to the walls of the ranch -- at least in part because Marxine and Vinya wouldn’t be at their most effective fighting from the top of the walls.

After some discussion, three of the hands agreed to come with us to provide fire support. But they were not going to stand and fight. If things got ugly or turned against us they were going to return to the ranch as quickly as possible. The hands knew of a place between Mr. Alzey’s and the destroyed ranch with cover and a choke point so we could set up an ambush. It even provided places where the least stealthy among us could find cover.

They led us to a gulch two miles from the ranch -- about 20 minutes to half an hour, depending on how fast we moved. The ranch hands set themselves up on a bluff about 30 feet up -- it was not an unclimbable cliff -- an athletic person with a move and a dash could get up from the base, but it gave them a good vantage point and that would give them a chance to get away if someone started heading in their direction.

The party took up positions in the brush on either side of the gulch. Vinya and Elama were on the same side the ranch hands were shooting from. Elderron, Mia and Aldalomiel were on the other side. Marxine was in a patch of brush a little closer to the direction they were going to be coming from.

After a while the gnolls arrived -- there was a big, sharp-toothed guy with four hyenas around him (a breeder gnoll), a maw demon, a speedy gnoll, a sneaky gnoll and five regular gnolls. They were absolutely not expecting an ambush, so we had them surprised for a few seconds.

Aldalomiel, from cover, took a shot at the breeder gnoll and got a good hit to kick things off. Elama moved out of the brush and got behind some rocks then dropped a shatter spell on top of the breeder and the four hyenas, killing the four hyenas immediately. The ranch hands on the top of the gulch focused their fire on the breeder, seeing where the party was attacking, and each of them hit, dropping it.


Mia cast plant growth on all the remaining gnolls, and the plants around and under them got hard and spiky, making difficult and damaging terrain around them. Vinya moved across the gulch and into the brush on the other side. Marxine moved out to the edge of the spike growth and dodged, waiting for one of them to cross the spike growth and come to her. Elderron cast a web spell on some of those in the plant growth -- to space out when they could come in our direction.

Aldalomiel took a shot at the sneaky gnoll from her position in cover. Elama cast her spiritual weapon next to the same one and shot a lightning bolt out of the storm cloud, but it missed. She then hit it with a sacred flame. The crossbowmen again followed Aldalomiel and Elama’s lead and shot at the sneaky gnoll. Only one hit, but that shot dropped it.

Huzzah again!

The gnolls started shrieking and gibbering and “laughing” like hyenas.

One of the regular gnolls ran straight through the heart of the spike growth toward Marxine, ripping himself apart on the thorns and spikes, dropping a few feet from her. Another one ran through the thorns and spikes, taking a great deal of damage on the way, but made it all the way to attack Marxine, hitting her with a spear. One of the regular gnolls and the maw demon were stuck in the web and remained there, struggling against the sticky webs. Another actually had a brain cell fire and it stepped out of the spike growth by the most direct route and ran around it to get to Marxine, attacking and hitting her.

Mia stepped out of the brush and took a crossbow shot at the speedy gnoll, stuck in the spike growth and web. Vinya stepped out of the brush and attacked the smart one that had skirted the spike growth with her quarterstaff and a kick. Elderron threw a cold chromatic orb at one of the ones stuck in the web -- it breathed in the ball of cold then coughed out a cloud of ice crystals as it expired.

Marxine hit the one in front of her with her new magical axe. Despite a great and damaging hit, it stayed, swaying, in front of her, nearly dead.

The speedy gnoll, the only special one remaining, managed to get out of the webbing, but didn’t think to avoid the spike growth (or didn’t notice it). He ran forward toward the party, ripping and tearing himself apart on the spikes and dying on the way.

All that was left were two of the regular gnolls and the maw demon -- and the demon and one of the gnolls were restrained in the webbing. The one that was free to move was clearly nearly dead.

Aldalomiel took her shot at the maw demon, hitting it solidly. Elama’s spiritual weapon hit it next the lightning bolt hitting it with a great deal of force. It sagged in the web then began to turn to a nasty slimy liquid that then evaporated away.

The crossbow-wielding ranch hands focused their fire on the restrained gnoll and dropped it.

The last gnoll tried to keep up the yipping and gibbering but looked distressed and didn’t manage much volume. He also didn’t manage to hit Marxine. Mia dropped it with a crossbow bolt.

In all, the advance party managed a round of the yipping and chortling. And, of course, there was Elama’s shatter spell.

We listened to hear if more were coming.

We heard that same shrieking and yipping coming from a path off to the right of the gulch, heading this way and maybe a quarter mile away.

We were discussing whether to try to take out another advance party here or retreat back to the ranch. (Note: I think we’d decided to retreat back toward the ranch.)

log in or register to remove this ad


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 12: Gnoll Army - Defeated!

Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk (Way of the Sun Soul)
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter (Champion)
Mia - Firbolg Druid (Circle of the Land (Forest))

GM - Everyone Else

Note: Before we started playing, Mia's player told us that she was going to have to bow out of the campaign for personal reasons. The rest of the table agreed to continue with a five person party.

1 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 32) (immediately after)

We decided that instead of returning to the fortified ranch immediately after the gnoll fight, we’d move along the gulch toward where they were coming from, so they wouldn’t see the bodies of the first advance party of gnolls and be alerted to an ambush.

We spotted another advance scouting band coming along the gulch -- the composition of the band was the same as the previous one -- one breeder (with four hyenas), one speedy gnoll, one sneaky gnoll, one maw demon, and five regular gnolls. Unfortunately, we didn’t hide nearly as well, so they spotted us fairly quickly and started screeching and chortling and howling.

Alda took the first shot at them and hit the breeder solidly. Marxine got her second wind, to help her heal up from the previous fight, and then ran out into the middle of the gulch to draw their attention, the started dodging and dancing around.

The breeder gnoll took Marxine’s bait and ran to her and attacked -- but it missed because she was dodging. The sneaky gnoll moved forward and shot vaguely in Marxine’s direction with its longbow.

Vinya ran out and attacked the breeder and hit it with both her quarterstaff and a punch, joining Marxine in the middle of the gulch. The regular gnolls, seeing the bait there, moved toward Vinya and Marxine but couldn’t make it all the way to them.

Elderron had found himself a position on a hillock in the gulch while we were waiting for them to arrive. He stepped out from behind a rise and tolled the dead on the breeder, then ducked back into cover.

Mia cast a spike growth centered on the speedy gnoll, hoping to have the same excellent results she had in the previous fight. The speedy gnoll, the sneaky gnoll, the maw demon, three regular gnolls and two of the hyenas were all in the spike growth.

The two hyenas in the spike growth were smarter than the gnolls in the previous fight. They saw that the ground around them was spiky and painful, and sat down, refusing to move at all. The other two hyenas, outside the spell area, also saw the dangerous ground, and ran around the area to attack Vinya -- both of them hit her.

The speedy gnoll, not as smart as the hyenas, took a great deal of damage running through the spike growth, then it attacked Marxine, hitting with its first swing. The second swing was very vigorous and forceful, but also entirely wild and missed entirely.

The maw demon took its cue from the hyenas and refused to move.

The ranch hands with their crossbows up on the rim of the gulch sent some of their shots to the breeder gnoll and some to the sneaky gnoll. Aldalomiel took out the the breeder with a perfect shot that went right into its eye, then she moved her hunter’s mark to the speedy gnoll.

Marxine hit the a gnoll right in front of her solidly. Vinya lamely hit one of them (it was a hit in a critical spot, but not a good hit) then used a flurry of blows to drop the two hyenas that had circled the spike growth to attack her.

The sneaky gnoll moved to Marxine and attacked her, hitting her solidly. The two regular gnolls not in the spike growth rushed Vinya and Marxine.. The regular gnolls attacked using spears. Marxine was hit hard by one. One hit Vinya. The other two were so wild with their attacks that it was almost impossible to know who they were targeting. One seemed to have targeted the ground with a powerful blow.

Elderron came off his hillock and cast magic missile on the sneaky gnoll, dropping it. Mia cast shillelagh and then used it to attack one of the gnolls that were mobbing around Vinya and Marxine.

The hyenas in the spike growth continued to sit there, unwilling to move through the painful ground. The maw demon did as well.

Elama cast sacred flame on one of the gnolls on Marxine and Vinya, hitting it with some radiant damage.

The crossbow wielding ranch hands moved along the top of the gulch and started shooting at the maw demon, since it was being a sitting target for them. They did it a lot of damage, setting it up for Aldalomiel to move her hunter’s mark over to it and drop it with an arrow right into its heart.

Marxine attacked the one that was between her and Vinya, taking advantage of having it flanked, and hit it well, twice, using an action surge to do so. That gnoll went down. Vinya turned to another one and hit it with her quarterstaff, but missed with her punch. The gnoll survived.

Which was a genuine pity, because another gnoll was able to find a position of flanking against Marxine and hit her very hard. Marxine looked fairly rough at this point. Another gnoll missed Vinya.

Elama ran over and healed Marxine, who was looking a lot better after that. The crossbowmen started working on the hyenas sitting in the spike growth -- hitting one of them well, but not dropping it.

Aldalomiel moved her hunter’s mark to the gnoll that had hit Marxine so hard and shot an arrow that went through its neck and into the back of its skill, dropping it instantly. Marxine took an opportunity attack from one of the gnolls to get flanking on another one, but then missed with her swing. Vinya took advantage of the flanking Marxine arranged to hit with her quarterstaff and attack with a flurry of blows.

She dropped one of the two remaining gnolls, but one remained standing. (There was also still a hyena in the spike growth.)

That last gnoll stopped its screeching and laughing and listened for a bit. Then it attacked Marxine and missed.

Elderron tolled the dead on the last gnoll but it didn’t quite drop. Mia let the spike growth drop then used her shillelagh on the last gnoll and dropping it. Marxine took one of their shields.

Mia looked at the last hyena, the last member of this advance party still alive, and tried to talk it out of being a gnoll-associated hyena. Before the hyena had a chance to repent its ways, the crossbowmen on the wall dropped it.

We immediately headed back toward the fortified ranch -- we got our horses and went back to the ranch.

The gnolls had to come through the gulch to get to the ranch -- so we left the bodies to distract them (Vinya figured they’d eat them) as they headed toward Telson’s Ranch. Mr. Alzey Telson and his wife Timma were happy that none of us were dead. So were we.

We told them what we saw and what we fought and rested for a bit, hoping to have a chance to get our breath back, gather our energy and prepare for the main body of the army to arrive at the rance. As we rested, Timma Telson showed up with two greater healing potions.

Timma: You look really beat up. Take these. You’ll feel better.

Marxine and Vinya drank the potions.

We were able to rest for a whole hour before we started hearing the screeching of the gnolls coming through the gulch toward the ranch. They were about fifteen minutes away when we started hearing them.

During that time, Marxine asked if they had any options for ground fighters, as neither she nor Vinya are at their best fighting at range. They loaned her a crossbow and Vinya a longbow.

Marxine: Well, it’s better than nothing. But not by much.

They also showed us the defenses they had behind the gates, in case the gnolls breached the gates. If they did, Vinya and Marxine would get off the wall and join the defenders at ground level.

The party took up positions on the wall on either side of the main gate, along with ten crossbow-wielding ranch hands, including the three that had been with us out in the gulch.

Elama cast a fog cloud about eighty feet away from the base of the wall.

Elama: I don’t know why the storm grants me this spell, but dammit I will use it!

By the time the gnoll army made it into range of the crossbows, long-range fire had whittled the army down to 10 gnolls, 10 hyenas, two maw demons, three speedy gnolls, two breeders, and the pack Alpha (not a flind).

Elderron shot one of the regular gnolls with a firebolt, but not for much damage. Aldalomiel missed with a sling bullet. Vinya hit with her unfamiliar longbow, but not for much damage. Marxine, on the other side of the gate from Vinya, missed. The crossbowmen shot at the closest targets, the speedy gnolls that were rushing the gate, and dropped one of them. The crossbowmen on Mia and Marxine’s side of the gate all missed.

Mia: Good practice round, guys! We’ll get them next time.

The hyenas rushed the wall, some of them getting right to it, but they were unable to do anything but mill about and chortle. The Alpha moved forward and began to dodge and weave, bracing for attack. The rest of the gnoll army moved forward as far as they could -- mostly rushing toward the gate rather than merely toward the wall.

Mia threw a moonbeam on the Alpha. Elama cast sacred flame on one of the hyenas, which was in range for her. Elderron cast magic missile on the Alpha, doing a nice amount of damage. Aldalomiel put her hunter’s mark on the sneaky gnoll that had already been hit by one of the arrows earlier and fired off a sling bullet at it, getting a crit. Unfortunately it didn’t drop, so Vinya took a shot at it to far less effect than Aldalomiel’s shot. Marxine missed with a crossbow shot at one of the regular gnolls.

The two speedy gnolls, got right up next to the gates, but had had to run their fastest to get there. The crossbowmen focused their fire on them and dropped them both.

The rest of the hyenas joined their packmates at the base of the walls and were unable to do anything there. The Alpha took some damage from MIa’s moonbeam then he moved closer and dodged again, as did the maw demon.

Mia moved the moonbeam back onto the Alpha then called out encouragement to the archers on her side of the gate.

The gnolls made their way up to the gates and started hacking at them with hand axes.

Elderron traded places with one of the crossbowmen and shot an Aganazzar’s scorcher that caught three of the regular gnolls -- all of them survived, but looked and sounded very pained. Aldalomiel got a critical shot on the same speedy gnoll she’d been shooting at -- caved in his chest with a sling bullet. Nice!

Elama: WTF was that?

Aldalomiel then moved her hunter’s mark to the other of the speedy gnolls.

Vinya, once again, got a nice hit with her arrow, but it paled compared to Aldalomiel’s prodigious shots. The archers on Mia’s side of the wall responded to her encouragement and took out a gnoll. The archers on Vinya’s side did as well.

The Alpha once again took damage from the moonbeam spell -- then he ran out of it toward the wall and dodged. The maw demons also moved up, finally getting near the wall themselves.

Mia dropped the moonbeam spell and cast an entangle spell on the area right outside the gates, to keep the gnolls from breaching the gates. Only one of the regular gnolls at the gate eluded the clinging and grasping vines. That one moved back, away from the gates, to get out of the spell’s area.

The Alpha got up to the wall and started attacking the gate with a glaive. Elama tried to cast a guiding bolt on him, but missed. Elderron cast another Aganazzar’s scorcher, catching the leader and a couple of the regular gnolls. The regular gnolls were both dropped, but the leader survived.

Aldalomiel shook the foundations of the world by missing with a sling bullet. Vinya got a nice shot on a gnoll near her.

Marxine, with a target finally near enough to use a preferred weapon, threw a handaxe at the Alpha and dropped him!

The crossbowmen on the wall took out the gnolls in the entangle spell.

The maw demons, seeing the Alpha dropped and most of the gnolls dead, started to flee. So did the regular gnolls and the surviving breeder gnoll and speedy gnoll. The hyenas milling about at the base of the wall started running away.

Elama cast a sacred flame on the maw demon.

Elama: That’s right! You better run!!

Elderron cast magic missile on the same demon, hitting solidly. Aldalomiel, Vinya and the crossbowmen all focused their fire on the breeder gnoll, but weren’t able to drop it.

Marxine finally got a crit with a crossbow (actually with any weapon on a 19, because she’s a Champion Fighter), but unfortunately it did very little damage.

After the gnolls got out of the range of our crossbows and bows, we jumped off the wall and mounted horses. We chased down and killed the demons, gnolls and the breeder gnoll. The hyenas we didn’t worry about.

Mia said that away from the gnolls and the influence of Yeenoghu the hyenas would revert to their natural state.

The Telsons told us that the people in the other settlement probably have some stuff and gold. They asked us to escort them to the ruined ranch.

We did so.

At that ruined ranch, we found mostly burned buildings. One of those buildings had a brick vault in it. Inside the vault we found some coin and some items. The Telsons wanted to keep the money and the art pieces in the vault, but said that we were welcome to keep any of the items we found.

The first thing we found was a maul bracketed to the wall over the vault. We also found two pairs of gloves, a flute, and three potions.

After we identified the items and discovered that the maul was a +1 magical weapon and one of the potions was a potion of supreme healing, we figured that the ranchers had forgotten (or didn’t think about) what was in the vault when they were being attacked by the gnolls. Either that or they couldn’t get to the vault in the assault.

The items were identified as:

+1 Maul (Marxine)
Gloves of Thievery (Elderron)
Gloves of Missile Snaring (??)
Pipes of the Sewers (Vinya)
Potion of Water Breathing
Potion of Animal Friendship
Potion of Supreme Healing

The potions were kept as party treasure. It’s possible that Alda kept the gloves of missile snaring, on the theory that she could supplement her ammo supply with them, but my notes don’t say that for sure.

After all of this fighting, Mia told us that she’d been getting weird dreams and signs that her people needed her back. She’d just intended to leave for a little bit to take care of the ogres she’d been following when she found us. She handed Vinya a handful of goodberries.

Mia: Remember, they’re only good for 24 hours.
Vinya: I had something to give you.

Vinya and Elama hugged her, and then Mia headed out toward Tash, across country, to get back to her people.


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 13: Ghouls In The Storm Sewer

Dramatis Personae:
Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk (Way of the Sun Soul)
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter (Champion)

GM - Everyone Else

1 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 32) (immediately after)

We took a long rest at Alzey Telson’s ranch and the night passed without incident.

2 - 6 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign days 33 - 37)

We left the next morning to head toward Erlin and hopefully meet up with the force from Erlin. We travelled without incident or trouble until we got to the valley with the two faces on either side of it.

There we found Erlin’s guard setting up a defensive line when we got there around mid-day.

We told the leader of the unit that we’d killed all the gnolls, except a few hyenas. They looked quite relieved at that. We also told them that we hadn’t backtracked them at all beyond the ruined ranch, so we didn’t know where they’d started or if there were people who needed help.

A party went out to go backtrack the gnolls. We travelled the rest of the way back to Erlin with the rest of the guard. While we traveled we asked about the dragon statue and the valley with the faces.

The valley is called the Valley of Argument. Those of the longer-lived races knew that the faces were moving and the droning deep noise we could hear changed over time. It appeared that the faces in the walls of the valley have been and are having an argument in archaeological time.

The dragon statue had been there since the Giant-Dragon war and was once an ancient dragon.

We also asked about the floating upside-down tower, but they didn’t know anything about that.

Once we were back in Erlin, around sunset on 6 Blizzarin (Day 37), we went to talk to Captain Althorn.

Vinya: We just went ahead and killed the gnolls. With the help of Mr. Telson’s ranch hands who were great with crossbows.
Captain: I’ll keep that in mind.
Vinya: [waits for more reaction than that][waits some more]
Marxine: So I think we were owed more money.

We each get another 10gp, which is what we’d agreed on.

Vinya: You can reach us at Garlin’s, until we leave town.

We headed down to the docks to arrange passage down the river. There weren’t any boats heading in that direction for six days, alas. So we arranged to be workers on a boat, The Reed, leaving in six days (on Day 43).

We were looking at six days of downtime in Erlin.

When we got to Garlin’s, he pulled a card out from behind the counter and handed it to Marxine. She showed it to us -- it was a divination card in style, but it clearly showed a photorealistic image of Marxine herself standing on a causeway with water on both sides of her during that golden hour in the afternoon when the light is so gorgeous on everything. It was clearly a painting, but incredibly detailed. She was wearing armor and with weapons, a greataxe and a maul, slung over her shoulder. She looked like she was walking or going somewhere.

Elderron recognized the location as one of the causeways connecting Pelsoreen to the mainland.

Elderron: Have you ever been there?
Marxine: No.
Elama: We could take a boat there from New Arvai.

The back of the card had an abstract design -- it wasn’t similar to any elven motifs or dwarven motifs, or to the fomori design elements we’d seen in the caves. The card itself was of indeterminate age.

Up in our rooms, Elderron checked the card out. It was very faintly magical and on thinking about it he remembered that he’d heard of these cards. They attach themselves to people and follow them around. They’re harmless -- showing a possible fate or future.

7 - 11 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign days 38 - 42)

During our days of downtime, Elama went to talk to armorers about what can be done with the Bulette armor and learned that the answer was “Nothing in six days.” Then she asked about what to do with the basilisk venom glands she’d collected.

She got referred to Jamil, the sage we’d eaten Mahassari food with, or Thierry, the magic stuff seller.

She decided to go to Jamil, who looked at them, carefully, handling them with forceps and having a protective shield in front of his face. He gave Elama 50gp for them.

Jamil: I did some research on that dragon if your friend wants to come back.

Elama went to get Aldalomiel, and other members of the party, so we were all together visiting Jamil.

Jamil told Aldalomiel that the dragon’s name is Sossonatissis, an ancient and powerful blue dragon who was an adult before the Severance. He goes by the moniker The Blue Death. He lives mostly in the Scoured Hills on the other side of the mountains to the east of Tash. He occasionally gets obsessed or focused on a particular goal or idea. He’s been known to suborn entire tribes of dragonborn and to hire mercenaries from other planes. He’s also created draconic servants -- not dragons or dragonborn but other draconic entities. He was left alone for a long time after the Fiend Wars because he killed very many fiends, including devils.

Aldalomiel: The information my friends and I found was different from that.
Jamil: He’s been known to spread disinformation.
Aldalomiel: We will have to do more research, then.

We talked some about how to get that information to Aldalomiel’s friends and learned that Jamil had some of the dragon pages (like we’d gotten from Captain Althorn). We bought one from him for the entire party.

Aldalomiel bought three for herself -- one to send to the friend who researched the blue dragon for her and one to send to her vanished girlfriend, with a blank sheet for a return message.

Elama showed him a book that she pulled out of her pack.

Elama: I found this in the temple that I trained in. It won’t hold marks of any sort of pen, ink, pencil, paint or any writing implement at all.
Marxine: Have you tried other ways of making marks?
Elama: I’ve tried every kind of writing instrument I’ve encountered.

Vinya took a dart from her belt and with the tip scratched some marks into one of the pages, marring the paper. Elama closed the book -- when she opened it again, the marks were gone.

Jamil: I’ve never seen anything like that.
Elama: Me either!

Jamil asked about our plans and we said we were leaving for New Arvai on the 12th of Blizzarin. He asked us to do a favor for him -- he had a box that needed to be delivered to the Head Librarian at the School of the World in New Arvai. He said that he couldn’t leave Erlin because he had responsibilities and asked if we could deliver the box for him.

Vinya: We can take your box.
Jamil: It’s currently sealed.
Elama: I assume you want to keep it that way.
Jamil: It’s better for the contents if you do.
Vinya: Is there anything we need to know about the contents? For its safety and ours.
Jamil: It’s a very old history book -- 400 years old. It’s about the Kotimanov succession wars.

Not something any of us were terrifically interested in.

Much more interesting -- Jamil offered to let Elderron copy spells from his spellbook pretty much freely.

We left Jamil’s and went into a montage of time passing:
  • Elderron learned and copied spells from Jamil’s spellbook
  • Aldalomiel spent the time writing letters on her dragon paper and meditating in one of the city’s parks
  • Vinya sparred and worked out in a dojo with other monks
  • Marxine did Marxine things, nonspecific
  • Elama gave small items to squirrels and sent them on their way, then, after an hour or so, used Locate Object to find the items.
After dinner on 11 Blizzarin (Day 42), so the evening before our boat The Reed was to be leaving in the morning, Captain Althorn showed up at Garlin’s.

Captain Althorn: Some people in the city have been disappearing in Angler’s Ladder over the past weeks. Can you look into it?
Vinya: Our boat…
Captain: I can ask The Reed to wait a few days while you deal with this.
Elama: Let’s move. I don’t want to just sit here.

So we began to walk and talk with the Captain toward Angler’s Ladder while he explained what was going on. People on their way to or from late or very early shifts at the harbor have been disappearing, mostly between Angler’s Ladder and the Harbor district. We asked him to take us to where the most recent disappearance had happened. All that was left behind was a foul, foul smell.

Captain: Some of the guards looked around a little, but they were unable to track whatever did it because the smell was too strong for them. It should have dispersed by now.
Vinya: Were there any witnesses?
Captain: In some of the cases witnesses have heard a choked scream and bad smells. One witness reported hearing the sound of bestial eating, but they didn’t want to investigate.
Vinya: How frequently have these disappearances been happening?
Captain: They started just before you got back from Telson’s ranch, when the guard was short staffed. A couple of guards disappeared the night before you returned. Then one the next night. Another one the night after that. The night after that three people disappeared. Last night four people.

When we got to the location where one of the most recently missing people was last seen, we saw an entrance to the city’s sewer system.

Elama: Be bored or go into the sewers. Tough choice.
Captain: This is more like a storm sewer. It’s not that bad.
Vinya: How big an area are the people missing from -- just right around here?
Captain: No. It’s probably 20 blocks or more, with multiple access points to the storm sewers.

We looked around for blood -- Vinya and Elderron both spotted a dried smear of blood around the sewer entrance, heading in.

The Captain said he was going to set up a cordon around the area where people had been disappearing and encourage people not to go into the area -- but he knew it wasn’t going to keep everyone out as some people live and/or work in that 20 block area.

We headed into the sewers -- Elama fired up her glowing sword and also cast a light spell on her shield. Elderron cast mage armor on himself.

The storm sewer had narrow walkways on either side of the running water. Vinya tested the depth of the water with her extending rod and found it to be several feet deep. We went some distance into the sewer, following the intermittent smears and splotches of blood.

After a time, the whole party, save for Elama, was surprised by a swarm of very gaunt, humanoid-ish figures swarming up out of the water onto the ledge with us -- clawing and biting at us. Because we hadn’t noticed them in the water, most of them were attacking the back of the line of us (Elderron, Marxine and Aldalomiel).

Their surprise attack got in a couple of hits on Elderron and Elama.

Aldalomiel cast zephyr strike, so she could move away from the three on her, and dropped the one nearest to her with two arrows. Marxine got a critical hit against hers -- it survived but was cut from collarbone to pelvis. Vinya, as usual, missed with her quarterstaff but managed to land a punch. Elama cast her spiritual weapon and it shot a lightning bolt at the one attacking Elderron. Then she cast sacred flame on the one that was attacking her.

Elderron cast a new spell, fireball, placing it with surgical precision but not much power. It was a relatively weak puff of fire, but it hit four of the monsters without any of us being put in danger. Two of the ones in the fireball dropped in flames, so it was definitely a serviceable fireball.

They attacked and Vinya and Elama were both hit.

Aldalomiel shot one, softening it up for Marxine, who then dropped it with her first attack. Then she attacked the other one right next to her, cleaving it in half, the pieces falling into the water. Vinya dropped the one on her with the quarterstaff (which actually hit something!) then dropped the one that had been attacking Elama with the first punch of her flurry of blows. She was able to do a graceful maneuver to get to the one that was attacking Elderron and hit it as well. Elama then dropped it with her spiritual weapon.

With the last one dead, we looked again for the blood trail we’d been following. Elama and Vinya spotted it. Aldalomiel missed it. Before we continued on our way, we waited for 10 minutes while Elama cast a prayer of healing.

We continued on, following the blood trail, up the storm drains, away from the river. We came upon a pile of bloody bones, clearly gnawed on, with scattered viscera around. Bloody footprints of bare feet with long claws, continued up a narrower feeder pipe with water that we had to walk through (no ledges on the sides of it). We continued up that feeder sewer. There were openings in the walls where other, still smaller, pipes flowed into the feeder sewer we were walking through.

As we walked, we started to smell something absolutely foul, like days-old nasty death, and were all looking around for the source. Vinya, Elama, and Aldalomiel managed to hear something coming down one of the smaller pipes.

Aldalomiel backed up a few steps so she could look down a side passage and saw two of them coming down the hall.

Aldalomiel: There’s something back here.

She then put her hunter’s mark on the closer of those two and dropped it with her first shot, then fired her second shot at the other one.

One, reeking with a foul odor, came out of a side passage and attacked Marxine and another reeking one came out of a side passage and attacked Vinya. Both missed. Then some regular ghouls came out of a different passage, attacking Vinya and Marxine. Marxine was hit by one of them.

Marxine, not happy at having been hit, attacked the smelly ghast, hitting with both of her attacks. She followed that up with a surge of additional attacks, hitting it two more times and dropping it! Beautiful work.

While we were still appreciating Marxine’s awesome performance, two pale, translucent figures drifted out of the walls -- they looked humanoid, but their bodies trailed off into mist. One of them hit Elama, who did her retributive lightning shock against it in response. The other one missed Marxine.

Elama cast a new spell, spirit guardians, and was surrounded by little balls of light that shot out lightning flashes and small crackles of electricity when they hit enemies.

Aldalomiel moved her hunter’s mark to the ghoul fighting her, drawing a short sword. Unfortunately she missed with both of her attacks. Elderron cast magic missile on the spectral enemy near him, doing a lot of damage.

Vinya hit the smelly ghast on her with her quarterstaff, doing a stunning strike. When it was stunned, she used some of her ki energy for a flurry of blows. It took a lot of damage, but was still standing at the end of it. It then took damage from the spirit guardians.

The ghouls on Vinya then attacked her, hitting her hard. Marxine was hit by one of them. Aldalomiel was wildly missed.

Marxine attacked the one threatening Elderron, dropping it. The spectre on Elderron was dropped by Elama’s spirit guardians. Elama then cast sacred flame on Vinya’s stunned ghast -- it shrieked and flared with the radiant flames, then fell. Then she cast healing word on Vinya, who was very grateful.

Elama then moved so that all of the ghouls on Vinya were in the area of her spirit guardians. Aldalomiel drew her other sword and attacked her ghoul, dropping it. She moved to the ghoul that kept hitting Marxine and hit it solidly, but it didn’t drop. Elderron, finally without anyone in melee with him, cast a scorching ray, hitting Marxine’s ghoul with one ray and one of Vinya’s with two. That created the possibility for Vinya to drop one of the ghouls on her and hit another of those.

Two of the remaining ghouls on Vinya were dropped by Elama’s spirit guardians. The last ghoul left on her attacked Elama and hit her. The ghoul on Marxine and Aldalomiel attacked Marxine and got a hit.

Despite that, Marxine attacked the spectre -- dropping her shield and attacking with the battle axe. She hit it twice and dropped it. Elama cast sacred flame on the one in front of her and Vinya, dropping it, then moved, with her spirit guardians, back toward the last remaining ghoul (the one with Marxine and Aldalomiel). Aldalomiel hit it twice, with her hunter’s mark on it, and dropped it.

Elama listened for noises and heard some, similar to the claws in the pipes that we’d heard just before they attacked from the side passages. Vinya peeked down a side hall -- she didn’t see anything but she also heard the scrabbling claws that sounded like they were coming toward us.

Elama extinguished the light spell on her shield and the light from her sword. Aldalomiel cast pass without trace and we started sneaking down a side passage, still following the blood trail. Because of Aldalomiel’s spell, we were all incredibly sneaky, even Elama and Marxine.

We followed the passage for about five minutes, with occasional glimpses of the blood trail and the smell of decomposition and death from the ghast. We got to the edge of a large junction, where several passages intersected with one another. The floor of the junction was lower than the level of the passage we were in and it was filled with rubble and debris and detritus that had washed into the drain and accumulated.

Inside the room were a lot of ghouls, some of which smelled terribly, and possibly a few of the translucent spectres.

We ended there on the edge of the junction -- Elama has five minutes left of the spirit guardians. Aldalomiel has 55 minutes left on the pass without trace.


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 14: On the Way to Lonoj

Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk (Way of the Sun Soul)
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter (Champion)

GM - Everyone Else

11 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 42, night) (immediately after)

We had been fighting ghouls and ghasts in the storm sewers of Erlin and had followed the stench of ghast and a blood trail from the sewer where we’d had a pretty big fight to the edge of a large junction area in the sewers where several pipes flowed into an overflow area. There was some rubble and debris that had washed into the sewers on the floor, lots of ghouls (the stench indicated that some of those might have been ghasts), and maybe some spectres barely visible on the edge of the room.

We watched the ghouls milling around a bit and realized that we were in a safe place -- they weren’t going to inadvertently stumble on us and if they did we were in a defensible position -- so we decided to give up on the remaining time with Elama’s spirit guardians and Aldalomiel’s pass without trace and take a short rest. During the rest we observed the room and talked strategy.

Elderron: I think we can announce our presence with a fireball.

We all agreed with that strategy.

Elama blessed Marxine, Vinya, and Aldalomiel. Marxine quaffed her potion of giant strength. Then Elderron proceeded as planned -- with a very big booming fireball.

That blew up three of the ghouls right out of the gate. The spectres, which had no idea where the big boom had come from, moved away from the source of the fire.

Aldalomiel took a shot at one of the ghasts, the smelly ghouls, and missed once then hit solidly. It made angry noises as it turned toward where we were cloaked in darkness.

Unlike the spectres, the ghasts moved toward us. One attacked Marxine and one attacked Vinya. They established the pattern for the undead for most of the combat -- they missed.

The mysterious, not-spectre incorporeal thing flew over to where it could attack either Marxine or Vinya. It swung wildly, missing both.

Elama observed that there were four things bunched up right in front of Vinya and Marxine (two ghasts, one ghoul and the not-a-spectre floaty thing) cast a shatter spell, calling on the divine energy of the tempest to do as much damage as possible. One of the ghasts was immediately killed. The others were badly hurt, but didn’t drop.

The rest of the ghouls started moving in our direction. The Swol Ghoul that survived the shatter spell and one of the others attacked the unarmored elves (Elderron and Vinya). They missed horribly.

VInya dropped a ghoul (not Swol Ghoul) with her quarterstaff, then summoned her ki and stepped back a few feet so she could shoot a sunbolt at the floaty incorporeal thing (the wraith). Marxine then hit the incorporeal thing with her magic maul and dropped it. Woot! Then she attacked again and dropped the ghast in front of her.

Elderron misty stepped to get out of the front line then cast toll the dead on the ghoul that had attacked him.

The spectres, which had fled to the other side of the room when the fireball went off, came back, moving about halfway (or slightly less) and dodged. Aldalomiel, seeing this, put her hunter’s mark on one of them and shot it twice, dropping it. Elama cast a guiding bolt on the other spectre, hitting it and leaving it with a glow that would make it easier for others to hit.

Marxine and Aldalomiel were attacked -- Marxine by three ghouls -- but with all those attacks swinging around, only Marxine was hit and she was only hit once. After Vinya popped a ghoul a couple of times with her quarterstaff, Marxine dropped Aldalomiel’s ghoul with her first swing and Vinya’s with her second, leaving only two, both unhurt. At least until Elderron magic missiled one.

The remaining spectre, still glowing from the guiding bolt, attacked Vinya, but continued with the monster’s theme of missing all around. Aldalomiel put it out of its undead misery with her first arrow. Her second arrow dropped one of the two ghouls.

The last ghoul hit Marxine, then we all piled on it with gusto until Marxine knocked it down and continued attacking it until it was really entirely dead.

We explored the room. Elama spotted some stuff down one of the sewer passages that led into the room. Lots of stuff.

569 cp
6502 sp
2069 gp
75 pp

5 art pieces, each worth 250 gp: 1 robe with silver embroidery, two silver necklaces with bloodstone pendants, 2 gold birdcages with electrum humanoid skeletons with bat wings inside.

Elderron, seeing the birdcages: I’m keeping Oda in his pocket dimension.

We also found some items, which we identified later:

1 Potion of Healing
1 Potion of Greater Healing
1 Rod of Alertness (very cool item)
1 Spell Scroll of Banish Shadow, which might have been more handy earlier
1 Mystery Key (has a chance to open any lock, but it only works once)

Elama lit up her sword and her shield and went to look at the puddle of super-darkness. The magical light dimmed in the area of the puddle.

Elderron recognized it for what it is -- a shadowpool, a portal to the Shadowfell. Unlike portals to more distant planes, it doesn’t take a lot of magic to make a portal to the Shadowfell. All it takes is for the arrangement of things in this plane and the Shadowfell to match up and align, and to stay aligned for a number of weeks. It’s possible to break a shadowpool by breaking up the correspondences. A dispel magic on top of that will completely deactivate and destroy the portal. Breaking the correspondences will keep it from getting worse and keep things from coming through.

Hearing that breaking up the match between this plane and the Shadowfell was the first step in getting rid of the shadowpool, Marxine started bashing on the walls -- but in a smart way so as not to bring anything down on our heads. Elama considered shooting a guiding bolt into it, but decided against, because she might need the spell power later. Vinya fired a couple of her radiant sunbolts into it -- they disappeared into the darkness, but there was no effect.

Elama found an exit from the sewers that didn’t involve trekking all the way back to where we’d entered from. We emerged from that in Rivergate, pretty near to the guard house. Handy!!

We went to talk to Captain Althorn.

Vinya and Marxine: There were a lot of ghouls and ghasts.
Vinya: And Elderron, tell him about the shadowpuddle.
Elderron: There was a shadowpool. A portal to the Shadowfell. We broke it up some, but it needs permanent dealing with.
Althorn: Oh. Yeah, the people up in Promontory won’t be happy.

We left him muttering about the people in Promontory. Vinya, Marxine, and Elama went back into the sewer to keep an eye on the shadowpool and make sure nothing came through while Elderron and Aldalomiel went to find Jamil to see if he could help.

Aldalomiel: We thought you might want to look at the shadowpool. And maybe you can close it?
Jamil: One moment!

He disappeared back into his house for a bit then came out dressed for the sewers.

Aldalomiel, Elderron, and Jamil arrived at the scene of the shadowpool to find Marxine, Vinya, and Elama moving the rubble around and breaking walls.

Marxine: We’re improving things.
Vinya: The hydrology…

Elama offered to help Jamil as he pulled out a scroll of dispel magic. He thanked her but declined the offer, then read from the scroll. When he got to the end of the spell, the pool disappeared entirely.

Elama: Do undead usually make those pools?
Jamil: Wraiths and other free-willed undead do.
Elama: Where did the wraith come from? How did he get here to start making it?
Jamil: Who knows?
Vinya: It’s easy to dismiss it that way. But not helpful.
Jamil: I’m not dismissing the question. It’s just not readily answerable.

We went back to Captain Althorn to report that the shadowpool had been entirely dispelled. We gave him all of the copper that we found and a lot of the silver (all but Elderron’s share of it). Vinya and Aldalomiel also contributed a chunk of their gold shares. That was to be used as restitution and assistance for the families of those who were killed by the ghouls.

As we left, Elderron realized that if he worked at it all night (and slept on the boat the next day) he could copy another spell or two from Jamil’s spellbook. With Jamil’s permission, he went that way while the rest of us returned to Garlin’s.

The rest of the night passed without incident.

12 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 43)

The next morning, Vinya stopped at the guard house to talk to Captain Althorn on our way to The Reed.

Vinya: We’re getting out of your hair. Maybe you don’t hate adventurers so much after our help.
Althorn: Whenever adventurers are around, there’s grumbling from on high.
Vinya: Right. Well, we hope we’ve left the city better off than when we arrived.

Then we got on the boat and The Reed sailed away.

The day aboard ship passed uneventfully. As did the night.

13 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 44)

The next day on the boat we were approached by a mountain dwarf merchant named Ullard Stonebright. He offered to pay us to escort him from Lonoj to Torm Brinnom.

Elderron: What’s torn britches?
Marxine: A dwarf stronghold.
Vinya: We have a box to take to New Arvai. But we don’t have any particular reason to think it’s pressing.

He offered again to pay us, 100 gp each.

Vinya: That’s way more than we made for killing a whole passel of ghouls.

Marxine was obviously, and vocally, very leery about going to a dwarf stronghold.

Vinya: Maybe we can just go to the door and see him inside -- we don’t need to go into the stronghold at all.

Vinya, to Elderron: Do you have something that would let you talk to someone a long way off?
Elama: I can do that. Tomorrow.

The rest of the day and the night passed without incident.

14 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 45)

The next morning, Elama used a sending spell to talk to Jamil.

Lamie: Hey! Is there any rush for us to get the box to New Arvai? We may have a job.
Jamil: As long as you don’t destroy the book, there’s no real rush.

We asked Mr. Stonebright if we could have a little time to caucus about taking his job. He said that was fine as it would be several days before we got to Lonoj.

Over dinner, Vinya looked at the coins we got from the shadowpool. Some of them looked old. When she examined them more closely, she saw that two of them said they were from Ambernock. She consulted with Elderron and he said that Ambernock was the city that was where Embernook is before the Severance.

She put those two coins into a very special place so they wouldn’t get accidentally spent.

15 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 46)

The next day, we sailed past an old ruined fort or castle on a hill. The captain of The Reed, Tulia Shirvon, a water genasi, said that it went back to the fiend wars. She said that some nobles, or people who wanted to be, built it.

The boat wasn’t going to stop, so we marked it on our map for possible future exploration.

The day and the night passed.

16 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 47)

Elama cast augury to ask if taking the job as guards for Ullard Stonebright is a good idea. She got the answer “weal”.

Elama: Good!

We decided that while we respect Marxine’s concerns about going into the dwarf stronghold, Torm Brinnom, we also respect 100gp each and the agury. We’ll just do our best not to have to go inside.

Vinya: Mr. Stonebright, we will do your thing.
Stonebright: Excellent! I figure that with a dwarf in your group, I’ll be in good hands. Even with all the elves.

Ullard Stonebright told us that we’d be getting onto a different boat in Lonoj to take that river up into the mountains -- as far as where the river turns to the west.

We continued to sail along. Elama cast water walk on herself and Vinya and they walked, or ran mostly, next to the boat for a while.

17 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 48)

Early in the morning, as we were waking up and shuffling around to get coffee and stuff, the boat entered a section that was a bit choppier and more characterful.

Marxine: We’re gonna die!!
Captain Shirvon: No, this is fine.
Elama: I can cast water walking.

As we were dealing with the river being somewhat rougher, we heard shrieking like something being tortured coming from the water. As the boat hit the water, as it bounced and jostled along, the water screamed.

Vinya went to look over the side of the boat.

Elama: What’s that?
Captain Shirvon: Oh, it happens.
Vinya, thinking back to sailing this part of the river in the other direction: I remember this. I remember a stretch of screaming.
Elderron: The Screaming Rapids.

We noted the screaming rapids on our map.

The rest of the day and the night passed without incident.

18 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 49)

The day and the night passed.

19 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 50)

After breakfast, while Vinya, Aldalomiel, and Elama were working on deck (Elderron and Marxine were down below), Vinya spotted two huge shapes coming through the water toward the bow of the boat. Two huge shapes with lots of heads.

Vinya: What the hell’s that?! Elama! Aldalomiel! Look at that!

Her shout got the attention of the sailors and the sailors banged a bell to get more attention from the rest of the crew and the captain. A bunch of sailors, as well as Elderron, came out of the lower decks of the ship.

Elderron: Well, I guess I’m going to have to fireball one.

Which he proceeded to do -- to good effect.

The one that Elderron cast fireball on swam right up to the bow of the boat and attacked a sailor. The other one was just a little too far away.

Elderron let us all know that they need to take fire damage in order not to regenerate. Otherwise if you kill a head and don’t do any fire damage to the beast, two heads will grow back.

Elama held onto the mast and cast call lightning, striking the hydra with a lightning bolt.

Aldalomiel cast hunter’s mark on the one that was fireballed and shot it, missing once and hitting. Vinya used her radiant sunbolts, summoning her ki to shoot that injured one four times -- she hit three times and one of those was a critical hit. Unfortunately the head she was shooting at didn’t die. Marxine charged up the stairs from down below and hit the hurt one, finally killing one of the heads. Then she did an action surge to attack again but wasn’t able to drop another head. (Note: Apparently two heads had already been killed.)

The sailors, seeing that they had people willing to run toward the hydras on board, ran away to the other end of the boat. The captain, on the other hand, pulled out a crossbow and shot the hurt one.

Elderron backed away from the hydras and cast a magic missile that he turned into fire damage on the hurt one -- cauterizing the wounds from the heads that had been killed.

Both of the hydras, with all of their heads, attacked Marxine, who was all alone up there right next to them. Marxine took three hits, but was still standing at the end of it.

Elama cast a healing word on Marxine then called a lightning bolt out of the clouds onto both of the hydras.

The one that was already wounded died, its body sinking away into the river.

Elama: Woo! I didn’t expect it to die like that.

The other one lost a head to the lightning bolt as well!

Aldalomiel, going all David and Goliath on it, used her sling on it twice and took out a head. Vinya shot four sunbolts at it and took out another head. Marxine got one hit and then got her second wind and healed up a little bit. The captain missed with her crossbow. Elderron cast a fireball toward the back of the hydra -- which cauterized the wounds where the heads had been killed but didn’t hit either the boat or Marxine.

Distracted by the pain of its wounds, the hydra missed Marxine with both of its attacks.

Elama threw a lightning bolt at it, then hit it with a spiritual weapon. Vinya only hit with one of her four sunbolts. Marxine hit twice. Elderron finally dropped it with a fire magic missile.

Vinya, to the Captain: What happens when these things show up and you don’t have fighters aboard?
Captain: It’s never really come up.
Aldalomiel: You might want to consider it.

The rest of the day and the night passed, without incident.

And there we ended.


569 cp (given to Captain Althorn)
6502 sp (1300 for each of us -- only Elderron kept his share of the silver)
2069 gp (413 for each of us)
75 pp (15 each)

5 art pieces, each worth 250 gp: 1 robe with silver embroidery, two silver necklaces with bloodstone pendants, 2 gold birdcages with electrum humanoid skeletons with bat wings inside. (There’s one piece for each of us. Vinya would like one of the necklaces as her share of the arts.)

We also found some items, which we identified later:

1 Potion of Healing
1 Potion of Greater Healing
1 Rod of Alertness (very cool item)
1 Spell Scroll of Banish Shadow, which might have been more handy earlier
1 Mystery Key (has a chance to open any lock, but it only works once)


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 15: Class War

Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk (Way of the Sun Soul)
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter (Champion)

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)

20 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 51)

We continued sailing along on the Reed to Lonoj. Mr. Stonebright, our employer, told us that he was going to arrange a boat and then land transport from Lonoj to Torm Brinnom, the Dwarven stronghold we’re going to be escorting him to. He said he had some planning he was going to need to do.

Vinya: Are you going to need help?
Stonebright: No, I’ve got this. But it’s going to take a few days.

The rest of the day and the night passed without incident. As did the next day and the night.

22 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 53)

The Reed pulled into a slip in the Lonoj harbor in the mid-morning and we debarked.

We stood around contemplating getting rooms in an inn for the few days we were going to be waiting for Mr. Stonebright to make arrangements for us to go to Torm Brinnom.

Vinya: Maybe we should stay in the same inn he does, so he can find us.
Elderron: If we work for him, can he pay?

Vinya found our employer and asked for a recommendation of an inn. He said he was going to be staying at a place in The Slips called the Soaring Gull, so we decided to stay there as well. We went with him to the inn.

Elama: What is there to do in this town?
Stonebright: The usual things you find in most towns.
Elama: Erlin was very boring.
Vinya: What makes Lonoj Lonoj?
Stonebright: Facet Square.
Vinya: Let’s go there!

We arranged for our rooms then followed directions, and the sound of bustle and goods being bought and sold, to the very large open-air market that is Facet Square. Elama scurried around looking at all the things she’d never seen before. The market had one sector where people were specifically selling gems and jewelry, and we were told that was how the market started, but all manner of goods were being sold from foodstuffs to common pottery to exotic wares from other continents.

Elderron bought himself some very fine clothes, so he could look like a proper fancy wizard.

As we walked around through the gem and jewelry markets we noticed that there were arguments going on in a number of the gem cutting stalls. It seemed like the workers were trying to negotiate for raises. As we listened more closely to this we noticed that the workers didn’t appear to have any leverage because the bosses were colluding with one another.

Marxine: The merchant class is keeping people down.

We asked a little about the government of the city, just talking to people in stalls. We learned that the government is a mercantile oligarchy. It’s ruled by a Council of Guilds with a mayor that serves at the pleasure of the council. Mayors tend to stay in power for a while because the council values consistency in the governance of the city.

It seemed that the people complaining were mostly gnomes and dwarves, so we got concerned about this being racial oppression as well as the class oppression, but it became clear that the workers mostly worked for people of the same race and argued with their bosses whoever they were.

Marxine was a miner in a Dwarven stronghold, working for a mining company - she recognized the struggles of labor versus management, even though she’d been more at the getting the gems out of the mountains side of the process than gemcutting, jewelry making, or jewel selling.

We went to find a place to have dinner just away from Facet Square in Orbi’s Round, one of the neighborhoods where the workers live. We didn’t go far before we found a bar with a lot of noise and bustle for the size of the establishment -- the Silver Loupe. Most of the furniture inside was sized for gnomes and dwarves. It turned out not to be overly crowded, but the crowd inside was festive and jovial and happy.

We went in, the largely elf party getting some strange looks and a beat of silence before people went back to eating, drinking, and talking with one another as normal. It seemed as though they weren’t used to seeing non-locals in the bar any more than they were used to seeing elves.

Elderron said a greeting in gnomish to the first gnome he saw. Marxine rolled her eyes. Both of them were hearing pretty normal bar conversation. Elderron approached the bartender, a gnome who was short and wiry, even by gnome standards

Barkeep: Welcome to the Silver Loupe . How can I help you?
Elderron: We’d like wine and food.
Barkeep: There’s a table in the corner that you folks might be comfortable at. I’m Smolly. How can I help you?

We ordered ale and mead and wine and meat and potatoes and veggies and cheese and bread -- each of us according to our preference. We were served a very good meal, especially for the quite modest price Smolly asked for the food. The meal was delicious and a bargain. We had found ourselves a really nice local spot.

Smolly, to Marxine: Why are you in here? We don’t normally get new people. It’s been four years since we’ve had new people.
Marxine: You must have a reputation and draw in new customers.
Smolly: Well, okay. New people usually come in with locals though. Like they’re brought in by someone who’s a regular. We don’t just get people coming in on their own. That’s been a long time now.
Marxine: I’m from a stronghold on the East side of the continent.
Elderron: It seems like there’s been complaints and commotion. Maybe we can help?
Smolly: The jewellers and gem-cutters are up to their old tricks. They’re colluding to keep wages down. And they have a blacklist, so workers who complain too much are getting blocked from working anywhere.
Vinya: How long has this been going on?
Smolly: It’s been building for a year but it’s coming to a head now as even the most skilled workers are not able to get higher wages anywhere. I hope you bought what you want today.
Vinya: Do you think something is going to happen tomorrow?
Smolly: Well, last time this happened, 50 years ago, the workers went on strike and got some concessions from the owners and the guilds. I don’t think the owners want to have to do that this time.
Elderron: Are the workers suffering or living in squalor?
Smolly: Well, they’re not selling their kids like they do sometimes in New Arvai…
Elderron: Selling their kids?
Smolly: Yeah.
Elderron: I’m from Pelsoreen. My parents sold me three times.
Smolly: In New Arvai kids get sold to the gangs. That’s how the gangs do most of their recruiting.
Vinya: What do you expect to happen tomorrow? Another strike?
Smolly: Yeah. Probably stores tomorrow will have hard times with staffing and staying open. People who want to shop will have to cross picket lines and the shops will have to find scabs to do the work. Depending on what happens after that, there may be other unpleasantness.
Elderron: In the Chimney Shell neighborhood?
Smolly: Probably there will be some shenanigans there, but mostly in the Square at the retail end.
Marxine: If the retail workers can get the manufacturing workers on their side, that would give them more leverage.
Smolly: They’re trying.
Elderron: Where do the guildmasters live?
Smolly: Blossomside.
Vinya: This happens every human generation?
Smolly: Yeah, about that. It just spreads -- one or two of the owners get the idea and then it spreads out.
Elderron: The businesses are doing well, but the guilds don’t want to share the wealth.
Smolly: No. They never do.
Marxine: That’s the point of capitalism -- to grow wealth.
Elderron: We’ll keep our eyes open tomorrow.
Vinya: And eat this lovely dinner.

The lovely dinner was followed by an almost magical strawberry cake (in the middle of winter!). After dinner the bar got quieter.

Marxine went to the bar and bought a round for some of the dwarves to get a more explicit idea of the workers’ plans, but though they accepted the beers they didn’t talk about what they had in mind for the strike the next day. She gave them a power fist sign and then walked away.

Vinya, to Smolly as he came to bring more drinks: Are there any elf communities in Lonoj?
Smolly: There’s a little group of wood elves in Blossomside, near the greenspace in the city.
Vinya: Do they also work in the jewelry trade?
Smolly: Not necessarily.
Marxine: Maybe they grow the strawberries.

We finished eating and then went back to the Soaring Gull for the night.

Vinya and Marxine contemplated going and finding trouble on our way back, and Marxine watched for people milling about or moving, but she didn’t see anything but the place emptying out.

The night passed without incident.

23 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 54)

The next morning we heard rumblings even in the Soaring Gull about goings on in Facet Square. The departure of several of the ships in port was being delayed because many of the people who would have been sailing out wanted to take gems and jewels with them and the shops were closed.

We ate breakfast and headed to Facet Square. Many of the major entrances to the Square, especially those near the gem and jewelry stalls, were blocked by picket lines -- striking workers with signs. There were also picket lines at some of the larger jewelry shops. The signs had slogans demanding fair wages, freedom to negotiate, and an end to blacklists for qualified workers. They were in gnomish, dwarvish and common. The dwarven ones were blunt and to the point. The gnomish ones were cleverly worded calumnies. In either language, when a specific person was called out it was for not supporting fellow gnomes or fellow dwarves. They were evoking the strong community leanings of both the gnomes and the dwarves and calling out people for failing to abide by that.

Elderron looked around for the union leaders and organizers as well as the city watch and what the guild leaders were doing. The city watch wasn’t interfering with the picket line or the people crossing it. They were clearly there to intervene only when things got violent. They didn’t appear to be at all inclined to harass the striking workers or kick their heads.

Elama: What’s our goal?
Elderron: Have we chosen a side?
Marxine: <<laughs>>
Vinya: I’m with Marxine.

The striking workers had mostly blocked the entrances to the square near the gem shops - the other shops selling general merchandise and food were still open and doing business without crossing the picket lines.

Elderron: I’d like to go to Blossomside and see the other side of things -- get a sense of what the guilds and merchants are going to do.
Vinya: Yeah, see what they’re planning in response.
Marxine: I’m staying here.

So Marxine stayed in Facet Square while the rest of the party headed to Blossomside. We agreed to meet up at the Silver Loupe for lunch. Elderron was looking for guildsmen, members of the merchant-owner class, having conversations. Maybe a tavern to have a late second breakfast where people might be meeting. Elama and Vinya noticed a cluster of wood elf homes in a greenspace. They also noticed a lot of people in the street, some of them heading toward an upscale bar, that had a lot of noise and bustle coming out of it, though the sign on the door said that it was closed.

Vinya, to Elama: Clairvoyance would let us look into the bar.
Elama: It’s a great spell. But I didn’t prepare it today.

Vinya looked around for an alley or side window or something where we might be able to get close and overhear something. We found an alley on the side of the building where we could stand without being totally obvious about it. And from there we could hear and see a little bit.

There were a lot of people in the bar -- clearly merchants and gemcutters and jewelers -- guildmasters and shop owners and business owners and silversmiths. We heard some argument about what to do. It was clear that at that time they were not planning to give into the strikers.

Vinya took a peek in through the window looking for Mr. Stonebright, our employer, but didn’t see him.

We heard some talk about breaking the strike -- some people mentioned the name Armok, wondering what his thoughts were, asking what he’s doing. It was clear that his suggestions and ideas were going to carry a lot of weight.

Vinya: Any idea on how to find this Armok guy?
Elama: Maybe he’ll show up.
Vinya; We can wait for about an hour before we’re meeting Marxine and there’s only one entrance to the bar. Let’s mill around on the street and try not to be too obvious about it.

About 45 minutes later we saw a dignified looking, old, dwarf man, with an ornately braided beard and ornate robes, flanked by two much younger, similarly dressed dwarves who looked like they might be related to him. We realized as he entered the bar that none of us who were there could understand dwarvish. So Elderron cast comprehend languages and tried to listen to what was being said in the bar.

Unfortunately he couldn’t hear very well. The rest of us who could hear better couldn’t understand the languages being spoken. We collectively got the sense that there was a question from Armok and agreement from the assembly.

Meanwhile, back in Facet Square, Marxine was antsy and anxious because she’d done this before and it had gone poorly for her. She was milling about, keeping an eye on the guards around the picket lines, nervous they’d be doing something to attack or harm the picketing workers.

As she was keeping an eye out, she saw about a dozen orcish guys with leather armor and shields barreling toward a picket line a few hundred feet away.

At her top speed she was going to get there about 40 seconds after they were going to get there, which meant that they were going to have plenty of time to hurt a lot of the picketers. Some of the people on the picket line, seeing the orcs coming, changed their grip on their signs, ready to swing them in their own defense. Some of the picketers scattered.

Marxine ran that way with her shield ready, prepared to come between the workers and the orcs. She was also prepared to try and rally people back to the picket lines.

The orcs arrived at the picket line well before Marxine could -- she could only watch them attack the protestors. Two of the protestors were dropped hard -- it was clear to Marxine that the orcs weren’t pulling their blows. They didn’t care if they killed people. The orcs were indiscriminate in their attacks -- they hit anyone in or near the picket lines, including one of the guards, who they dropped.

Much of the line, and the guard keeping an eye on it, broke and scattered. The orcs didn’t put any effort into killing the ones who were dropped but they didn’t care about avoiding lethal damage either.

After breaking up the picket line, the orcs waded into the square toward some of the lines picketing specific shops. Some people were trying to help the picketers. Many were trying to get away. Marxine ran in their direction.

As Marxine got close, she dropped her shield and grabbed the magical maul with both hands as she met up with the orcs in the middle of the square. She hit and dropped one of the orcs with two blows then dropped another one with a single blow.

Marxine was so caught up in the fight that she was taken aback and surprised to see a tall, pale, thin human-looking man who ran into the fight at about the same time she did from the other side of the orcs. He stopped about 15 feet away from the group of orcs and dark, skeletal wings came out of his shoulders and he was surrounded by a terrifying aura. Three of the orcs looked rattled by him and attacked Marxine, but only one hit. The others turned and attacked the winged guy, and he was hit three times.

Marxine didn’t have time to figure out the guy with the skeletal wings -- she just kept swinging. She hit one of them twice -- the second shot knocked his head right off. The winged guy started laying into the orcs with two-handed swings with a longsword. He dropped two of the orcs that were attacking him. As he hit them, there were little flashes of light. He was also not trying to do non-lethal damage.

The two remaining orcs on Marxine hit her once between them. The winged guy was hit a few times by the several orcs on him.

Marxine dropped another one with her two hits and the winged guy, who appeared to be doing shots that flashed with blackness and a bright energy (both radiant and necrotic damage at the same time), dropped two of them, one with each blow.

After another couple of shots from the orcs on each of them, Marxine hit her remaining orc once but didn’t drop him. The winged guy dropped one then got a critical hit and did a paladin smite pulling down radiant energy that exploded in a big ball of energy. He then turned and looked at the one remaining orc, on Marxine, and growled something in orcish.

The orc wet his pants, dropped his club and ran away.

Winged guy: You fight well, tovarisch.
Marxine: Thanks for the help.
Winged guy: They needed stopping.

There were still a few protesters around -- most of them scattered but some had not. Some of the people who had been knocked down by the orcs were getting help -- folks were helping them up. Medics were hovering over a couple of the others.

Marxine, looking around: Are you helping these people? Are you staying around?
Winged guy: I can stay here. You appear to have picked the correct side.
Marxine: These are people trying to eat. The bosses are taking from them.
Winged guy: The world could use more people fighting for them. Where are you staying?
Marxine: The Soaring Gull
Winged Guy: I’ll find you there later.
Marxine: What’s your name?
Winged Guy: Erloto.

Meanwhile, the group trying to do surveillance and reconnaissance in Blossomside (and mostly failing) headed toward the Silver Loupe to meet Marxine for lunch armed only with one name, Armok, and the sense that the people in Blossomside had been in agreement with something he’d suggested.

On our way back to the bar we saw a beaten up and bedraggled orc running to Blossomside, though it didn’t go to the bar we were at.

Marxine and Erloto went to where the picketers and guards had been injured. Erloto went around laying hands on the injured, healing their wounds. Marxine took one of the injured people to the Silver Loupe, considering that a safe place where the person could get food, drink and tending to his wounds.

Marxine noticed that no one came to take care of the orcs.

We met up at the Silver Loupe.

Vinya: We got a name. You got a friend.
Marxine: You can tell by the blood -- some Pinkertons came to crack down on the protestors. I cracked back.

We told Marxine about what we heard, about Armok, and the distinguished dwarf with the two associates.As we talked we figured that the agreement we heard was about bringing in the brute squad.

Marxine: That would be a dwarf -- ending a strike with mercenaries.

We all agreed that bringing in brutes like the orcs on the first day of a strike was not okay.

Marxine went to talk to Smolly.

Smolly: Good to see you here again.
Marxine: I wish it was better circumstances.
Smolly: It could have been worse -- though two innocents died. And one of the guards.
Marxine: Have mercenaries been called on strikes before or is this the first time?
Smolly: It’s been done before, but this is the first time it’s been this quick. And that was as violent as it’s ever been.
Elerron: Who’s Armok? We saw a richly dressed dwarf…
Vinya: With two younger dwarves -- maybe his sons or nephews.
Smolly: That was a son and a nephew. Yeah, that’s Armok Fireruby.
Marxine: There’s an aristocrat name.
Smolly: He’s the head of the Jewellers’ Guild. His brother was the head of the Gemcutters’ Guild. His nephew is the head there now. His son is an up-and-comer in the Jewel Merchants’ Guild.
Elama: Are we going to kill this guy?
Vinya: Well, that’s not the plan.
Elderron: What can be done then?
Vinya: Maybe we can be guarding or helping the workers -- fighting the mercenaries.
Marxine: We don’t have time for a revolution.
Vinya: Maybe we can negotiate with Armok. If we could find an edge against him, leverage, to get him to back down…
Elderron: So we need to find people who might have leverage….

We talked about the possibility of getting his class allies disgusted with him for being so crude.

Elama: Do we have proof he hired the orcs?
Elderron: He arrived and talked and got agreement. Then there were orcs.

We talked about the fact that there was a human guardsman among the dead and decided to go talk to the guard. At the guardhouse, we noticed that there was a lot of busy-ness and commotion. We got in by throwing Captain Althorn’s name around.

Elderron looked around to see if there were any picketers being thrown in jail and saw none. He also didn’t see any orcs. But the guards were tense at having lost one of their own.

Elama: Hey, guys! Why are you so busy?
Marxine, Vinya and Aldalomiel: <<facepalm>

The reaction from the guard we were talking to was a three second pause.

Guard: Fustercluck in Facet Square.
Elama: We weren’t there. She was. <<pointing to Marxine>>
Marxine: Sorry about your comrade.
Guard: We want to find out why they killed him. He wasn’t a threat.
Elama: Do you have any orc corpses?
Guard: ….
Elama: I’m a priest. I can speak to dead people. Tomorrow.
Guard: Let me see if I can get you in to talk to Captain Toris.

The guard went deeper into the guard house then returned a couple of minutes later with a human man with greying temples, in his mid-fifties but still pretty trim, and introduced him as Captain Konasik Toris.

Captain Toris: You want one of the orc corpses.
Elama: Tomorrow. We want to know who hired the orcs.
Captain: We want to know that too. If we can figure out who did it, we can present a case to the mayor and the guilds. We can make sure this asshat gets punished.
Marxine: Even if they have money and influence?
Elderron: We’re here to help you.
Captain: Our guy wasn’t there but to keep order. He didn’t sign up to fight mercenaries. He wasn’t armed or equipped for that.
Elderron: So bringing in the orcs was crossing a line?
Captain: Yeah. It was. If two groups are going to fight each other, they need to make sure no one is caught in between.
Marxine: Only one side wanted to settle things this way. You’re not interested in the dead workers?
Captain: I’m being practical. Them having killed the guard is how to get justice -- if we can figure out where in the guilds this came from. The guilds won’t care about the dead workers but they will care about a dead guard. You can get justice for them by getting justice for my guy.
Marxine: Yeah. It just sucks.
Captain: Yeah.
Vinya: Any suggestion on where to begin?
Elama: There’s this Armok guy.
Captain: Armok Fireruby?
Vinya: Maybe…

Captain Toris then described perfectly the older, ornately-dressed dwarf we’d seen, as well as his two companions. Vinya told him the little we heard from the bar up in Blossomside.

Captain: Armok has a reputation as a ruthless dwarf.
Vinya: That would go with bringing in orc mercenaries on the first day of a strike.
Captain: Yeah.
Vinya: Where does he live? How can we find out more about him?
Captain: I don’t know a lot. I do know that the Firerubies aren’t in Torm Brinnom because the other dwarfs didn’t want them there.
Elama: Isn’t that where we’re escorting that guy?
Vinya and Elderron: Yes.

Torus gave us directions to the Fireruby estate.

Vinya: I bet there are big, conspicuous ruby-looking gems on the gate columns.
Elama: Is that a dwarf thing?
Marxine: If you’re an naughty word.

We left the Captain and headed toward the bar that the elf contingent of the party had been at in Blossomside to see if they’d opened by now. They had and it was less crowded open than it had been when it was closed earlier.

Armok was not still there.

Elderron, before we went in: Are we going to go in and ask a lot of questions?
Vinya: I think just listen for a while.
Marxine: If we talk to any of these people, I’ll go insane.
Vinya: But you can listen?
Marxine: Yes.

So we went in. Though there are a large number of dwarves and gnomes living in Blossomside, the bar was mostly sized for humans. We went in and got beverages and some bar food. This was a very rootsy-tootsy bar, with a bard playing a harp very poorly in the corner, and the food and drinks were expensive. They were not, however, any better than the food and drinks at the Silver Loupe. The only difference was that we paid a lot more here in Blossomside.

Elama and Elderron both noticed that the beverages tasted exactly like the wines they were drinking at the Silver Loupe. Exactly. They also noticed that there were no labels on the bottle. They pointed this out to the others, very quietly.

Vinya: I dislike these guys even more.
Elderron: So what are people paying for up here?
Vinya: They’re charging what the market will bear.

We then started to listen to what was going on in the bar. Aldalomiel heard a human a couple of tables away talking to his companions.

Human: I can’t believe the goons Armok hired got that out of hand. I also can’t believe so many of them wound out dead.
Marxine: <<suppressed cackle>>

We asked the bartender if he knew who that guy was but he had no idea. We watched carefully to see if the bartender gave the guy any indication that we’d inquired, but there was no communication.

Elama quietly cast thaumaturgy and created a whispering next to the guy’s ear that said, “This is your conscience. You are guilty of those deaths. Go confess your sins.”

After a few seconds of that, the guy sat up straight and looked around startled. The guy he was talking to looked puzzled at his companion’s behavior, but didn’t appear to be able to hear the whispering himself.

After 10 seconds of the whispering in his ear, the guy freaked out and fastwalked out of the bar. Aldalomiel put her hunters’ mark on him as he left.

We ended there, planning to let him get a little bit ahead of us before we left to follow him.


  • Lonoj in Brief.pdf
    85.7 KB · Views: 342
  • Lonoj.jpg
    809.1 KB · Views: 281


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 16: What’s Dwarvish for naughty word?

Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk (Way of the Sun Soul)
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter (Champion)

GM: - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)

23 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 54) (immediately after)

A few minutes after the guy who had been talking about Armok walked out of the bar, we followed after him, trying to be subtle. Aldalomiel, even aided by her hunter’s mark, lost him in the crowd, but Elama spotted him at a distance down the road, so we were able to follow him without being noticed.

We were expecting him to perhaps head to the Fireruby estate, but he made his way out of Blossomside to Facet Square. He went into a two story haberdashery, Turlont’s, in a side of Facet Square that is not dedicated to gems and jewels. There were no picketers outside the store, but someone had planted a sign out front calling on them to support the strike.

We watched as he entered the building -- after a few minutes lights came on upstairs -- but we could see that the shop was still open. Vinya and Aldalomiel walked around the building looking for alleys and other exits or entrances to the building.

While they did so, Elderron, Elama, and Marxine went into the shop under the guise of Elderron looking for cufflinks to go with the fine clothes he’d bought himself when we arrived in Lonoj.

Shopkeeper, a human woman: Welcome to Turlont’s.
Elderron: Might you be Mrs. Turlont?
Shopkeeper: Yes, yes I am.
Elderron: I’d like to peruse around. I’m interested in fine things.
Mrs. Turlont: Please look around.

Elama started grabbing cool things she found in the shop and putting them on Elderron -- cravats and tie pins and cufflinks and scarves.

Marxine: Can we get a man’s opinion?
Mrs. Turlont: Certainly.

She went upstairs and then returned with the guy from the posh fern bar in Blossomside. He stepped into the room adjusting his clothes slightly -- his clothes were as nice as the very nicest stuff in the shop. He began offering cogent fashion opinions and pointing Elderron to options at a variety of price points. He also talked to Elderron a bit about what he liked and was interested in -- he wasn’t simply pointing out the most expensive items in the store or aggressively upselling but pointing to things that Elderron might like. Everyone but Marxine got the sense that he wasn’t scheming or being an oily salesman -- he genuinely wanted a happy customer. Marxine saw him as a social climber.

Turlont pointed Elderron to some cufflinks inlaid with mother of pearl owls, which Elderron bought. Elderron praised the shop and Turlont’s help in spotting the owls.

Elderron: How are you being affected by the strikes?
Turlont: Not too much really. We don’t make things here and we don’t primarily sell jewels or gems. We only have a couple of workers come in from time to time--mostly it’s me and my wife. Our supply is going to be affected eventually and foot traffic is down in the Square.

Marxine asked about the fighting earlier in the day.

Turlont: Bloodshed like that is bad. And bad for business. Especially in the shops selling finer goods.
Elderron: How uncivilized…
Turlont: The violence was unnecessary, but there are those who don’t want to pay their help... and they don’t want others to pay either.
Elderron: Were there fatalities?
Turlont: A couple of picketers were killed. What bugs me most is that a guard was killed.
Elderron: That’s dreadful! Who was involved? Were picketers and owners actually fighting in the streets?
Turlont: Some of the gem people thought they could get the strike over more quickly by hiring someone to come in and beat up the picketers.
Elderron: That’s unfortunate.
Turlont: Yeah. It’s just going to agitate the strikers and make it go longer. That’s if there aren’t repercussions from that guard being killed. Maybe that will shorten the strike.
Elderron: That’s to be hoped for.
Turlont: I don’t expect it.
Marxine: Why not? You don’t expect the guilds will face repercussions?
Elderron: What about the captain of the guard? Is he going to favor the guilds too?
Turlont: I expect Captain Toris will be displeased.
Elderron: Does he have authority to do anything?
Turlont: He may be able to make a case to the Guild Council, but he’ll have to be sure of his evidence.
Elderron: Are there rivalries in the Council or are they pretty united?
Turlont: There are some merchants and guilds where you want to be very careful around the leadership. I’ve had friends who found themselves sharply undercut to the point of not being able to sell at a profit. One I was closest to was a milliner, so not even in the gem business directly.
Elderron: Are the guilds you are talking about here the same ones being picketed?
Turlont: Yeah.
Elderron: That explains the brute squad, then.
Turlont: There’s a strange combination of self-assuredness and desperation.
Elderron: Desperation? How?
Turlont: They hired orcs. They can’t have had an expectation of finesse or subtlety.
Marxine: It says they don’t want to negotiate.
Turlont: Yeah. The message is to conform or get beaten down.
Elderron: Whoever hired these orcs is clearly not much for negotiating this strike.
Turlont: He’d be willing to negotiate if there was no danger of losing.
Elderron: I guess they thought the orcs would cause fear and he’d get leverage against the picketers.
Turlont: Or break their will. But given how well the exercise went for him, I don’t expect it to have worked.
Elderron: Fear can be a useful tool if used properly.

They thanked Turlont and prepared to leave. Marxine didn’t think it appropriate to jump on his chest so she turned back just to ask another question.

Marxine: I think I know something about the guard being killed. If you or some of the people who’ve been screwed in the past aren’t free to take action, maybe we can. We can help fix the power balance.

Turlont looked at Marxine for a second then his eyes got wide and there was a spark of recognition.

Turlont: You were one of the one who killed the Spearbreakers! I would love for the Guilds to get it through their heads that the Firerubys are greedy and bad for everyone else’s business. The dead guard may be the last straw.
Marxine: I’m hoping to help the guards get justice, so the dead picketers can get justice.
Turlont: I hear things. I do business with the Jewelers’ Guild. Other merchants don’t know how ruthless the Firerubys are. They don’t know that Armok has a son and a nephew rising in other guilds.
Marxine: Who can we talk to to connect the Spearbreakers to the Firerubys?
Turlont: I can’t help with the Spearbreakers. I have spent too much time avoiding interactions with the Firerubys.
Marxine: If any word gets back to you, let me know. And if you hear of trouble coming for you let us know. We’re staying at the Soaring Gull. We don’t want you to be a victim because you talked to us.

He did give Marxine a bit of information about the Firerubys.

Armok Fireruby is the head of the Jewellers’ Guild. They get the raw gems out of the ground and to the Gemcutters.

Artock Fireruby, his nephew, is the head of the Gemcutters’ Guild.

Kurkul Fireruby, his son, is up-and-coming in the Gem Merchants’ Guild.

Marxine, Elama, and Elderron left and met up with Vinya and Aldalomiel outside. Marxine told us that she was meeting with someone who’d fought alongside her at the Soaring Gull. So we decided to forgo the delicious dinner we knew we’d get from Smolly at the Silver Loupe and went for dinner at the Soaring Gull instead.

At the Soaring Gull, we ran into our employer, Ullard Stonebright, who was looking pretty discombobulated.

Elama: Hi, Mr. Stonebright. What’s wrong?
Stonebright: There’s a lot of tension and upset around. I’m sure you’ve noticed. I’m having a bit of a hard time finding anyone who wants to sail toward Torm Brinnom.
Elama: All the hubbub in town has to do with the jewelers. I don’t know that it would stop people wanting to leave the city. We’ve been looking into it and hearing the me out…
Vinya and Marxine: Fireruby.
Stonebright: They didn’t get far. I’m not surprised you’re hearing their name.
Elderron: Why?
Stonebright: They were notoriously ruthless and greedy. The other clans in Torm Brinnom kicked them out.
Marxine: Does hiring orcs also sound like them?
Stonebright: Uh...possibly?
Elama: Don’t dwarves hate orcs?
Marxine: I have more of a grudge against Firerubys.
Stonebright: It’s not universal. Some strongholds have had real problems with orcs since the Severance. Others haven’t. Since the Severance, the orcs are no longer so driven to violence by their gods. Some have changed, some haven’t. That’s the real variation, I think, not the dwarves.
Marxine: The Firerubys hired orcs to break the strike.
Elderron: What do you think of that?
Stonebright: I think that won’t end well.
Elderron: Do you know them?
Stonebright: They were kicked out before I came of age. But the interactions I had even with the children of the family were unpleasant. They’re the sort that give all dwarf merchants a bad name.
Elderron: Did he give Torm Brinnom a bad name?
Stonebright: I was young and that was all happening among the elders. But even the kids were unpleasant.
Elderron: Do you remember names?
Stonebright: <<thinks for several moments>> Ar...Artok maybe. I remember him being a self-important bully.

We made a bit more small-talk then Stonebright headed up to his room and we stayed in the tavern for dinner.

Vinya went to talk to the bartender, since they always know about things in their cities.

Vinya: Are there resident orcs in town?
Bartender: There’s a band of orc mercenaries for hire, the Spearbreakers. They do most of their work out of town, guarding caravans or ships on the river.
Vinya: How do we get in touch with them?
Bartender: They’re in Ash Hill.

He gave us directions into the right part of Ash Hill then suggested that from there we could ask someone for directions. Vinya thanked him and went back to our table.

After dinner, a very tall, slender, exceedingly pale man came in and greeted Marxine. He looked like an albino with white skin, pale hair, and very pale blue eyes.

Pale man: Greetings, tovarisch. I am Erloto Oddrnov. That was brave. It is not everyone who will stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
Marxine: I HAD to.
Vinya: You have to help people.
Erloto, still looking at Marxine: It’s good to have allies.

Marxine introduced us.

Elderron recognized him as a fallen aasimar -- a person of celestial heritage who has been touched by darkness or turned to evil. He couldn’t understand how it worked that Erloto was helping people.

Elderron: Erloto, tell us about yourself.

He told us that he’s from Kotima -- several months travel by boat away from here. It’s also called the Broken Continent. Kotima has families of aasimar diplomats and envoys. He noticed Elderron’s wariness and said that he had fallen from the grace of his Planetar guide and the Celestial hierarchy by refusing their pressure to do good only by taking a very broad view. He preferred to help the needy and oppressed right in front of him.

Erloto handed Marxine a sheaf of papers -- handwritten notes about justice and helping the downtrodden. Everything she needed to become a paladin and take the Oath of Liberation, if she so chose.

Elama: Do you understand things about Celestial and otherworldly stuff?
Erloto: Some….
Elama: Can you take a look at my book?

She pulled out her book that wouldn’t retain any mark and showed it to him. He looked at it, flipping through the pages, looking at some of them very closely.

Erloto: Maybe it’s already full.
Elama: But it’s empty.
Marxine: What do you think we should do for this town next?

Erloto talked to us for a bit to get a sense of the information we’d gathered.

Erloto: I think maybe if you can get pressure onto the other members of the guilds they are trying to lead that could cut them off from their political power. If you can convince those three guilds to stand up to them, that would put a lot of pressure on them.
Elderron: Pressure in what way? What do you think about propaganda?
Erloto: It might work.
Marxine: And pointing out they killed a guard…
Erloto: If you can find clear evidence linking them to the death of a guard it could cut their legs out from under them.
Elderron: Where can we find these Spearbreakers?
Erloto: They’re in Ash Hill. Be careful, the Firerubys are not very nice and if you press them they may become desperate.
Vinya: It seemed like Armok Fireruby got agreement about bringing in the Spearbreakers from the other owners and guildsmen.
Erloto: Did he get consensus or just present them with a fait accompli?
Vinya: Good point.

Erloto left shortly after that, Vinya walked with him for a bit and they talked. Then he left the inn and we retired to bed. The night passed without incident.

24 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 55)

Our first step in the morning was to go to the guardhouse to talk to Captain Toris and to talk to one of the dead orcs.

We got there and found the captain looking haggard.

Vinya: What’s up, Captain? Is everything okay?
Captain Toris: Things aren’t worse.
Marxine: We have some information -- do you know anything about the Firerubys’ past?
Captain: Your people operate on a different timescale than mine. (Reminder: Captain Toris is a human.)
Marxine: They were ousted from their stronghold for the things they’re doing now -- ruthlessly trying to manipulate the market in their favor, driving people out of business. That sort of thing.
Captain: Interesting.
Marxine: It’s kind of their MO.

We asked to see the corpse of one of the orcs then and he took us to where they’d kept the corpses.

Elama started to put candles around the corpse, as part of casting speak with dead.

Elderron: Can anyone speak orcish?

He cast comprehend languages to solve that problem. Elama suggested to Marxine that she not be in the room, because the orc would know if an enemy was present and might refuse to answer, or to answer truthfully. Marxine reluctantly agreed to stand just outside the door, monitoring the proceedings from just out of site. Captain Toris, however, stayed in the room with us as an official witness of the proceedings.

Elama went back to setting out candles and cast the spell. We had five questions.

Elama: Who hired you to fight the picketers?
Corpse: The dwarves.
Elama: What was the name of the dwarf who hired you?
Corpse: Aaarrrmooooochhh
Elama, after consulting with the party: What was the entirety of your contract?
Corpse: We was told to hurt as many protestors as possible as badly as we could.
Elama, after another consultation: Who negotiated the deal within the Spearbreakers?
Corpse: Kronsk
Elama: How do we get in touch with Kronsk?
Corpse: Go to the Spearbreakers and talk to Kronsk.
Vinya: That’s straightforward.

After the ritual was over, we left the room and talked to the Captain about how he’s feeling about things now.

Captain: I don't know what to make of that Dwarven name. This was the third goon from the left so he may have just repeated what he heard from other Spearbreakers.
Vinya: It sounded like Armok to me.
Captain: I wish it had been more clear.
Marxine: Our next step is to go talk to this Kronsk guy. He may not want to talk to us if he’s going to be dragged into court for killing a guard.
Captain: It’s probably going to depend on what he tells us. If the contract didn’t say anything about the guard -- whether hurting them or avoiding doing so -- it may not land as badly on the Spearbreakers as on the Firerubys. But let’s see what he says.
Marxine: I’m going to keep that in my pocket for when we talk to him.

We headed off to Ash Hill to find the Spearbreakers. Ash Hill is a run down neighborhood, there was more poverty and hardship than we’d seen anywhere else in the city.

As we walked we decided that our best bet for getting in to talk to Kronsk would be to say that we wanted to hire the Spearbreakers for a job.

We followed the bartender’s directions as far as they took us then stopped a roughed up looking goliath with a limp and Vinya asked where we could find the Spearbreakers to hire them. He looked at us for a moment, then looked around and pointed in the direction of the city wall.

Vinya: Are they outside the wall or up against it?
Goliath: No. Just that way.

A couple of minutes later we found a seedy looking house with a fence around it. Over the gate were a pair of crossed spears that had been fractured but not entirely broken.

Elderron cast comprehend languages quickly, then Elama stepped forward to knock on the door. Marxine
stayed at the back of the party.

After a bit there was a voice from inside the gate.

Orc: What you want, elf?
Elama: Hi! We want to talk to Kronsk.
Orc: Why would Kronsk want talk to you?
Elama: We want to talk about what happened in the Square.
Marxine, pushing forward: We want to talk about a job!
Elderron: Do you want gold?
Orc: The Square? Why you want talk about Square?
Elama: We want to know who was responsible so they can be arrested.
Marxine: NO!
Vinya: Who hired you? We want for that person to be arrested!
Orc: You wait.

After five minutes of waiting and four minutes of Marxine being sure we’d bungled it, the orc came back.

Orc: You want talk Kronsk, when door open you step in. Close door. Put your weapons on ground. You in robes, put wand, staff on ground. When other door opens, step through. Leave stuff on ground.

We nodded. Shortly after that, the door opened in front of us. We followed the instructions -- we stepped inside and saw a single orc standing, unarmed and unarmored, by the inner door. We also saw a lot of murder slits around the side and inner walls. Everyone in the party set their weapons down. When we’d done so, the orc opened the door and pointed to the inside. We went where we were pointed and stepped out into a large courtyard. The door closed behind us.

A large and burly orc was walking toward us, with two more orcs behind him. He had a great axe over his shoulder, as did the other two orcs escorting him. He stopped about 15 feet away.

Kronsk: I am Kronsk. Who are you? [he turned to Marxine] You let one run away.
Marxine: I had things to attend to. I am Marxine Deepfoot, Miner and Warrior.

We introduced ourselves.

Marxine: Things are whacky in town. You’ve noticed, I’m sure.
Kronsk: Things are muddled.
Marxine: We’re not here to fight. We want to settle the town down. We want to get to the people who are the root of the problems.
Kronsk: We were hired by Armok Fireruby to hurt as many of the picketers as we could as badly as we could.
Elama: Did the contract say anything about the guard?
Kronsk: We were told to commit the most mayhem possible. We were not told not to harm any person, group or place. Precision isn’t our strength.
Elderron: You were just following orders.
Kronsk: Doing what we were paid to do.
Elderron: What was the form of payment?
Kronsk: Gold.
Vinya: I suppose it’s too much to hope that anything was written down.
Kronsk: We shook hands.
Vinya: Would you be willing to tell this to Captain Toris?

Kronsk looked at Marxine.

Marxine: We’re not after you. We’re after the guys who set you on that mission, because they set you up.
Kronsk: It is much easier when we’re just protecting a boat or caravan.
Marxine: You’re not happy about what you did either…
Kronsk: Fighting is what we do. But feh.
Marxine: I’ll be on your side. Vouching for you.
Kronsk: Wait one.

He went back into the building on the other side of the courtyard. He came out a few minutes later with two more orcs.

Kronsk: Let’s go talk to the Captain.
Marxine: Yeah!!

We retrieved our weapons and we all walked together through the city to the guard house in Thivvel.

Vinya talked to him about the Spearbreakers and the work they do as we walked through the city. They mostly work guarding ships and caravans -- mostly between here and Torm Brinnom or between here and New Arvai. Kronsk’s grandfather was the first of the tribe to move into Lonoj, though they’d been doing the work for a long time before that.

We got to the guardhouse in Thivvel -- we decided to go around Blossomside rather than risking alerting the Firerubies to what was going on by walking through the wealthy neighborhood with the Spearbreakers.

Captain Toris greeted us outside the guardhouse, having seen us coming. Vinya asked Kronsk to tell the Captain what he’d told us. He did so.

When he was done, Captain Toris sighed and asked if Kronsk would mind coming in and telling that story one more time, so that he could have someone write it down. Kronsk agreed to do that.

Marxine: Can I have a copy of that testimony?
Captain: I can arrange that. It will take a little time though.

We left Kronsk with the Captain and headed toward Chimney Shell to see if we could find an older dwarf who might remember the Firerubys. On the way we decided to stop by Turlont’s shop to see if he could recommend any blacksmiths. He said no. So we proceeded on to Chimney shell.

Marxine asked around for the master blacksmith, THE guy. We were pointed to the shop of a dwarf who had been smithing in Lonoj for 150 years and in Torm Brinnom for some number of years before that. One of the people we asked told us that if he was willing to say that he’d taught you, which he wasn’t always, it was definitely a good mark on your skills. This was definitely the right guy for us. His name was Gimarul Hammerhammer.

Vinya: A true blacksmith’s name.

It was not hard to find Hammerhammer’s forge -- it had two hammers over the door. We found a very burly, ripped looking dwarf with not much hair and a very trim beard.

Hammerhammer, to Marxine: What are you doing bringing elves to my shop, girl?
Marxine: They just started following me.
Vinya: Or something like that.

Marxine introduced herself and they shook hands. Hammerhammer’s grip was strong but not brutal. Marxine shook her hand out.

Hammerhammer: Ah, I didn’t break anything.

Marxine put down her shield, taken from a dead gnoll, and told him that she wanted an upgrade. He recognized it.

Hammerhammer: Why are you carrying that piece of shite?
Marxine: I took it from one I killed and haven’t had a chance to get something better.

Marxine: I hear you learned our craft in a stronghold. So you know your naughty word.
Hammerhammer: Lots of people learn in strongholds.
Marxine: But not out here.
Hammerhammer: Sometimes people do things for reasons that work out for them.
Vinya: So you’re making better money out here?
Hammerhammer: I thought I would.
Elderron: What’s holding you back?
Hammerhammer: In the stronghold, there were whole clans of people who have been smithing for 200 years. Here it’s just me.
Marxine: Clans from Torm Brinnom don’t get out much?
Hammerhammer: You know how dwarves are. It’s a matter of comfort. Some people don’t fit in.

After a bit of talking, Marxine asked about the Firerubys.

Hammerhammer: I thought you might be asking about them. What do you want to know?
Marxine: We know their behavior here is part of a pattern. What started it?
Hammerhammer: It started with greed. There is little they won’t do if they think it will make them richer. There were rumors they had arranged deaths of other dwarves. By the time I left no one would go on a mining expedition or a trade caravan with them -- it was not uncommon for them to return and their partners to be lost.
Vinya: Didn’t someone tell us that the former head of the Gemcutter’s Guild died -- and now Armok’s nephew Artock is the head of it?
Hammerhammer: I don’t follow Guild politics. At least not in other guilds.
Vinya: Do you have anything for someone like me?
Hammerhammer: I mostly make armor. Which won’t be useful for you. [turned to Marxine] But I can’t let a dwarf leave with that piece of naughty word.

He handed her a shield with two hammers painted on it.

Hammerhammer: Take this. I insist.

Then he picked up her gnoll shield and bent it double over his knee. Marxine asked to pay and he refused to let her. They bickered over that for a bit.

Elama then pulled out the bulette hide she’d collected off the bulette we killed. Hammerhammer was very interested in that and thought he could make something good for her with it, but it would take time and the services of a master tanner as well.

Elama: We’ll be coming back through Lonoj after we take Mr. Stonebright to Torm Brinnom. We can pick it up then.

(He’ll sell one shield to Elama for 250 gp and have three others to sell for 500 gp.)


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 17: Dwarven Oaths

Dramatis Personae:
Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk (Way of the Sun Soul)
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter (Champion)

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)

24 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 55) (immediately after)

As we left Hammerhammer’s smithy, we talked about next steps. We thought about looking into suspicious deaths among the merchant class. VInya thought she understood that the former head of the Gemcutters Guild, replaced by Artok Fireruby (nephew of Armok), had died.

We thought about going off to talk to Captain Toris, but realized that it was near dinnertime, so we decided to hold that for the next day and went back to the Silver Loupe for dinner. As we went, we passed through Facet Square -- there was picketing going on, but there had been no major actions like the day before. Marxine noticed that morale was still good among the picketers.

When we got to the Silver Loupe, the people there recognized Marxine as someone fighting on their side and she was greeted warmly.

Smolly: Some of the merchants are negotiating with the workers -- they’re breaking ranks to increase wages and provide better conditions.
Vinya: Huh. Cool!

Marxine told Smolly what we’d been working on as far as finding information that would cause the guilds to step away from the Firerubys.

Smolly: The other guildsmen are undercutting Armok and the other Firerubys by coming to the table. I’ve heard of one or two merchants offering concessions to workers who’d been employed by other people.
Elderron: I wonder what Fireruby thinks about this.
Smolly: I don’t know what to expect from Fireruby, either the clan overall or the few doing most of their Guild business.
Vinya: What do you know about the death of the former head of the Gemcutters’ Guild?
Smolly: Well, I know she was a very old hill dwarf. I thought she died of old age. Her clan is still here, but I don’t think she has any immediate relatives in town.
Elderron: Where does the clan live?
Smolly: Not too far from the Firerubys.
Elderron: What was her name?
Smolly: Thodrina Frostgem.

Marxine went to talk to some of the dwarven workers in the bar. They said they were surprised that things were happening in their favor so quickly.

Elderron, to Smolly: Who’s been increasing pay? We’d like to know what changed their minds.
Smolly: There’s a human named Cordun Emmlin, a gnome named Skorada Stickyfingers Orindon, a hill dwarf named Molg Faceteye, and the Frostgems.
Elderron: Thanks!
Smolly: We aims to help.
Marxine: You really have.

We enjoyed the food for a while then Vinya asked one of the workers if Marxine’s friend Erloto had helped to broker the deals between the guildmembers and the workers. The workers said they had the sense that the guard had evidence from the Spearbreakers that he was going to present to the Council.

After dinner, we went back to the Soaring Gull and the night passed without incident.

25 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 56)

We had breakfast and then headed out to the guardhouse to talk to Captain Toris. We immediately noticed that he looked less stressed than he had been.

Captain: Good morning.
Marxine: You look good.
Captain: It’s amazing what happens when you act as though there aren’t powers that be that will stop you from doing the right thing.
Elderron: Do you think you have enough of a case for the jury? Will it convict?
Captain: Interested parties within the station have passed word about the information we have to the guilds.
Elderron: Have you heard about what happened in Torm Brinnom?
Captain: I know he had some problems there.
Elderron: Talk to Hammerhammer.
Vinya: It was thought that Armok was responsible for the deaths of other dwarves. Have there been mysterious deaths among the guilds that the Firerubys are in?
Captain: There haven’t been any unexplained deaths, no. But some interesting and disturbing property crimes.
Marxine: Property crimes?
Captain: Stores burning down in situations where one of the guilds have discouraged a full investigation. We haven’t figured out whether that was from the entire Fireruby clan or just from the upper echelons.
Marxine: Do you know which people have had places burned down? Can we get names?
Captain: I can give you names. The victims have been mostly humans.
Marxine: Elves and dwarves hold longer grudges.
Captain: The Council of Guilds is meeting this afternoon -- this will be on the agenda. The other guilds are not happy.
Marxine: We’ll talk to the store owners who had their shops burned down. If we shore up their resolve maybe they’ll be willing to testify.

He gave us two names: Tara Grastim, a milliner, and Dallatin Turst, a dry goods merchant.

A dry goods merchant seemed like quite an outlier in the Fireruby’s sphere of influence -- gems and jewelry -- so we went there first. We found Turst in Naggedon. His place had been burned down one year before and we followed Captain Toris’ directions. We found a stone building under construction, with masons (mostly human) under the direction of a person who was clearly the master mason. There was someone else there who we assumed was Dallatin Turst.

We talked to Turst about the circumstances leading up to the fire that had destroyed his building. He said that he had provisioned a Fireruby caravan going to Torm Brinnom. Armok Fireruby said he needed a little float on what he would pay, but he would make enough money to pay the full bill when he sold his goods. But when the caravan returned, Turst didn’t get paid, even when he asked for the money he was owed. When the Firerubies came to him to get provisions for another caravan, Turst declined to do so, because he was still waiting to get paid for the previous one. Right after that, his shop was burned down. He felt somewhat lucky that no one was hurt.

Marxine: Captain Toris is reopening the case and reinvestigating it. Without restrictions from the guilds. The Firerubys world is crashing down. You should get the word out to your guild.

He agreed that he would consider it.

We then headed to Facet Square to go to the shop of Skorada “Stickfingers” Orindon, a gnome dealing in flashy and gaudy, but well-made, jewelry.

Skorada: Top o’ the day to you! How can I help you?
Marxine: We want to talk to you about the strike.
Vinya: And why and how you resolved it with your workers so quickly.
Skorada: Oooookaaay….
Marxine: What brought you to the table so soon?
Skorada: It’s one thing to stick with your guild, but when you find out your guild is killing people. That’s another thing. I chose not to stand with them when I found that out.
Vinya: How did you hear about them hiring the Spearbreakers?
Skorada: If I hadn’t been in that fern bar in Blossomside, it still wouldn’t be hard to figure out who hired them.
Elderron: Was it the elder Fireruby or one of the younger ones?
Skorada: Armok is the older one, he was the main force. He arrived at the fern bar with the two youngers, Artok and Kurkul.
Elderron: Would you like to see him removed from your guild and from the council?
Skorada: The number of guilds on the council varies. Right now there are twenty-seven guilds. Of those there are twenty-four votes to exile them. How many more beyond that will depend on how many meet between now and the Council meeting. Or in the case of my guild, the Jewelers’ Guild, he’s already been voted out in a meeting held in private.
Vinya: Has he been informed?
Skorada: That is in progress.
Elama: Why are you called Stickfingers? Do you really have stick fingers?
Skorada: You get your hands caught in the vise one time--ONE TIME--and a nickname sticks.

We left for Blossomside to see what was going on at the Fireruby estate. When we got there, we sauntered past the gate, through it we saw that the shutters on the house were closed and the shades were all down. Four grim looking guards stood at the front gate.

Elama: It’s almost like they’re expecting trouble.

The estate had a wall around it, solid and high which made it impossible to see in except through the gate. We walked around the estate, casually as possible. We could see an upper story and the roof of the mansion inside, but we couldn’t see any activity or movement. Around the back we saw a second entrance, clearly a trade entrance -- less grand and a wider gate. This back entrance was also guarded by four guards. They also looked grim, even by dwarf standards.

Aldalomiel noticed that they didn’t appear to merely be grimly waiting for bad stuff to be coming from outside their compound, but were more broadly unhappy with what was going on in their life.

Through the gate, we saw that there was some activity in the courtyard. There was a cart waiting with some chests in it, but it wasn’t anything like big enough for the whole clan to be moving. Marxine thought Armok was leaving because of the heat. Vinya, considering the grimness of the dwarves on guard duty, wondered if he was being kicked out of the clan.

We decided to head to city hall to see if we could pick up anything about, or at, the council meeting. We then realized that we didn’t really know where that was. Vinya went back to talk to the guards outside the back of the Fireruby estate.

Vinya: Can you please point us in the direction of the Council building? I love architecture and really want to see the building. Do they let visitors in?
Guard, looking puzzled: Really? It’s that way. Turn left after ten blocks.

The council building was really bland with the only windows clerestory windows at the tops of the walls.

Vinya, still playing idiot, architecture-obsessed tourist, went right to the door of the council building and asked the person at the entrance if we could go in and look around.

Vinya: I find government buildings so interesting, don’t you? I’d really love to look into this one. Is that possible?
Guard, looking over his shoulder, then back at Vinya, puzzled: Umm, there’s really not much here. I’d be happy to let you see it, but the Council is going to be meeting in just a few hours and I can’t let you in. If you come back tomorrow…
Vinya: Oh, well, shoot. I don’t know if we’re still going to be in town tomorrow. Can you at least tell me what the building is like inside?
Guard, still just puzzled: It’s a room. With some smaller offices around it. There’s a table. Come back tomorrow if you can.
Vinya: I definitely will! Thanks!

We found a quiet place not too far from the council building and Elderron sent Oda to fly up and look through the clerestory windows of the building. He saw a conference table with 27 chairs around it. There were additional chairs lined up on the side of the room, that we surmised were for witnesses who were going to speak to the council.

We decided to head over to the same bar we’d seen the guildmasters meeting at the day of the Spearbreaker attack, the fancy fern bar, which was just a couple minutes walk away. It was the closest restaurant/bar/eatery to the Fireruby estate, but sadly not very close to it (several minutes away). As we went in that direction we saw a group of well-dressed people of a smattering of races, humans, dwarves, gnomes, elves, a halfling, all moving in the direction of the Fireruby estate. We let them go by then casually sort of went in that direction, staying back and trying to be subtle about it. We noticed other people standing and staring, or openly and obviously following the group.

When the group arrived at the front entrance to the Fireruby estate, we noticed that there were only three guards at the gate now. Most of the party went to the back of the estate, thinking that there would be some action back there -- probably an attempt to flee. Vinya stayed at the front to see what happened with the group.

After a while a female dwarf who looked to be about the same age as Armok came to the gate with the fourth of the guards who had been on duty there. She spoke with the well-dressed group in a quiet but very intense conversation. Vinya heard one of the group say that they had come to tell Armok that he was no longer the head of the Jewelers’ Guild.

Fireruby Matriarch: By telling me, you have told him. We will not contest this.

Hearing that, Vinya circled around the building, without crossing in front of the gate, and joined up with the others in the back. We stayed back there until shortly before the council meeting. As we hung out, Marxine and Vinya saw movement through the back gate inside the estate. We saw movement and one of the guards headed toward the front.

Elama started casting clairvoyance.

Elderron sent Oda toward the front of the house to see what was going on up there. He saw a mature dwarven woman, escorted by four guards, head toward the council building. Oda followed them to the building then watched through the window. Elderron could see the people in the council room and we were hoping that Elama would be able to hear.

Unfortunately, her spell failed and Oda was unable to hear anything that happened. We figured that there must be a spell or something blocking anyone listening in on the proceedings.

Elderron continued to watch. He saw the meeting coming to order, then the dwarf woman walked in without her guards. She insisted on speaking to the council before any of the witnesses, talking intensely and fiercely. She looked scared and uncertain -- maybe of what the council would do, maybe of Armok.

The dwarves among the council and sitting in the witness chairs, were stunned by her words, their jaws literally dropping. After that there was some explanation from the dwarves to the people of other races, then everyone seemed to be stunned and surprised.

She spoke for another minute or two, then there was animated discussion among the witnesses and the council, while the woman left the room. A moment later Elderron saw, through Oda’s eyes, as she left the building with her four guards and turned down the street toward the Fireruby estate.

Vinya moved to the front of the building, while the rest of the party stayed in the back, and hid up between the Fireruby fence/wall and the neighboring estate. A few minutes alter the dwarf woman got to the front entrance. One of the guards opened the gate. When she entered, two of the guards stayed at the front gate and the other two went in with her. Vinya noticed there were six at the front gate now -- four facing in toward the house and two facing out to the street. Like they were trying to stop something from coming out of the house even more than they were trying to stop something from going in.

Elderron had Oda fly around the house looking for windows, but they were all shuttered or shaded. Vinya saw a glimpse through the gate of people taking a chest out to the cart we’d seen before. It looked like it had seating for three people, and there were three chests on it. It had been moved from the back of the house to the front and looked like it would go out the front entrance. Oda could see more clearly, so Elderron noticed that it wasn’t a very high quality cart -- not better or fancier than the ones we’d used between the Knot and Tash.

Vinya ran to the back of the estate to tell the others what was going on in the front. Then she ran back to the front without seeing if they were following her. Oda saw some dwarves leaving the mansion -- it was Armok, Kurkul, and Artok, only in ordinary trader’s clothes -- not the finery they’d worn when we saw them days ago.

Elderron conveyed to Marxine what he was hearing, repeating the unfamiliar dwarvish words as best he could, but Marxine couldn’t understand him. It definitely sounded like there was argument. And Armok giving orders, but no one was following them, then the realization that he was not in charge anymore. There were guards on the doorstep of the house, to prevent the three of them from going back in.

Armok, Artok, and Kurkul climbed onto the cart and the woman led the cart to the front gate. The guards opened the gate and she led the cart out onto the street. Once on the street, she started speaking forcefully in dwarvish.

By that point Marxine and the rest of the party had moved to the front of the alley between the Firerubys and their neighbors. Marxine heard the woman name each of the three men fully, not just their given names and clan names, but the names of their ancestors going back several generations.

Fireruby Matriarch: By the forge on which your souls were made and the hammer that made them, you are cast out of this place. You are no longer of us.

The cart then started moving away from the house, generally in the direction of Silent Up and the main city gate. Armok, Kurkul, and Artok weren’t going meekly -- they seemed more angry than humbled or shamed -- but none of the three were fighters and they went.

Oda flew after the cart until it had left the city and turned down the river in the direction of New Arvai. Then he returned and reported to Elderron what he’d seen.

Maybe an hour and a half after the cart left, Captain Toris and a group of people, which Elderron recognized as the council members, arrived at the Fireruby estate with a large contingent of guards. We stepped out from our secluded alley so we could see better and Captain Toris waved us over to him.

Captain Toris: You know the Firerubys kicked Armok, Kurkul, and Artok out?
Vinya: Yeah. We saw them leave.

The dwarven woman came out of the house and came to the gate.

Fireruby Matriarch: Captain. What is the council’s decision? We have kicked the offenders out of clan and city.. The offer of restitution is sincere and still stands. We have learned from talking to him that our entire clan was not exiled from Torm Brinnom, just those three. They lied to us and betrayed their whole clan. If the council has determined to exile us from the city, we will accept that.
Captain, to Marxine: She said something about a hammer and forge of souls.
Marxine: Yeah. That’s how dwarves are made.
Captain: So if she’s swearing by that it’s a big thing?
Marxine: Yeah.
Captain: I wanted to hear that from someone not from Lonoj.
Marxine: I was positive something bad was going to happen until she said that.
Captain, to the Fireruby Matriarch: We accept the justice you have dispensed within your clan and we accept the restitution you offer. Furthermore, no one in your clan is allowed to lead a guild in this city, nor may their children or grandchildren.
Vinya, to Captain: Does the restitution they offered include the dead workers or does it only go as far as the dead guard?
Captain: The individual guard’s family, and our widows and orphans fund, will all receive money. All of those who work for the clan will receive better pay. There will also be money for the families of the dead picketers. There will be no punishment for the Spearbreakers except that they are not allowed to take jobs within the city.

He took us back to the guard house and paid each of us 250 gold pieces for the help we’d given the city.

Vinya: Is the strike over?
Captain: Artok, Kurkul, and Armok were the main drivers and instigators of the merchants and bosses refusing to back down and refusing to negotiate. With them gone, the workers will once again be able to negotiate for better pay and working conditions.

We headed then to the Silver Loupe to relax and hang out. There was a big shout when we entered. Smolly waved us over to the bar.

Smolly: A bunch of the people chipped in with a bit of money and some of them had things sitting around that they didn’t have a use for and they thought maybe you did.
Vinya: Oh, that’s not…
Marxine: I’ll respect their kindness and we’ll accept their gifts.

Smolly put a chest on the counter (it had 1000 gp in it) and three magical items which, when identified, turned out to be an Elixir of Health, a Rope of Climbing and a magical flail, a Flail of Warning.

Vinya and Marxine each stood around for the whole bar, then the whole party decided that would be from all of us. (So we spent 10 gold out of the chest they gave us.) Some of the people there bought us drinks. And we celebrated and partied until late in the night.

We stumbled our way back to the Soaring Gull to find Mr. Stonebright waiting up for us.

Stonebright: Good news, everyone! I’ve found us a ship to Tuntori. The Riverspark will leave tomorrow afternoon -- the captain is a hill dwarf so I expect no problems on the way.

We got the details on when and where to meet him to board the Riverspark and headed off to bed.

And there we ended.


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 18: Traveling the Aralin River


Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk (Way of the Sun Soul)
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter (Champion)

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)

26 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 57)

Bright and early the next morning, we planned for how to spend our last few hours in Lonoj over breakfast. The Riverspark would be leaving in the afternoon for Tunturi so we had a little time.

Vinya wanted to visit a magic item shop among other things. We asked at the Soaring Gull, and then at Smolly’s, for a recommendation. Smolly sent us to a shop run by his cousin. Vinya bought a cap of waterbreathing, since we were going to be on a boat for a while.

We walked around Facet Square and did some general shopping -- arrows, warm clothes (since we were heading into the mountains), etc. As we were walking Vinya suddenly remembered that she’d told the guards at City Hall that she’d come back if she had time before we left town.

So she scurried that way, with Elama to keep her company, while the rest of the party continued to stroll around the now-quiet Facet Square.

At City Hall, Vinya went back into her Architecture-Obsessed Tourist act and ascertained that there was, in fact, some sort of spell on the hall that blocked scrying into the council chamber. Which is what we suspected. Apparently it was cast long ago.

After that we all assembled at the Riverspark in the early afternoon to meet Mr. Stonebright. We were introduced to the captain of the Riverspark -- a hill dwarf named Captain Strongaxe. We observed that Mr. Stonebright didn’t have any cargo -- he was not heading to Torm Brinnom with a cargo of goods to sell. He had some personal possessions, but nothing resembling trade goods

Marxine noticed that Captain Strongaxe...had some sort of tense reaction to Mr. Stonebright. It seemed to be entirely on the Captain’s side. Mr. Stonebright appeared to be totally trusting of Captain Strongaxe, but the Captain clearly did not share his regard.

Before we cast off, while Mr. Stonebright was getting settled in his cabin below, Marxine talked to Captain Strongaxe dwarf-to-dwarf. Though a hill dwarf, he had some family who live in Torm Brinnom (as sort of resident aliens). He’d heard of Marxine’s stronghold, Torm Hastraf, near Tash, though he’d never travelled that far. Torm Hastraf is a large stronghold, with 18 clans in it. Torm Brinnom is rather smaller with only 10 clans.

After a bit of conversation, when they were comfortable with one another, Marxine turned the conversation toward our employer.

Marxine: What vibes are you getting off Stonebright?
Captain: I don’t really know him, but the story is he’s supposed to have killed someone in Torm Brinnom and is now persona non grata there. I did not ask him to swear on the forge and hammer but he said that he would swear that he did not kill anyone.
Marxine: I’ll keep that in mind.
Captain: Either he’s bad enough that he’s willing to lie in an oath on the forge and hammer, which would make him very dangerous, or he’s been framed and there’s a bounty on his head unjustly. Which would make him dangerous to be around.
Marxine: We’ll keep that in mind, and keep our eyes open, but we want to stick with this job for now.
Captain: Fair enough…
Marxine: Either he’s very confident that he’s got evidence that will exonerate him. Or he’s very stupid.
Captain: In my experience those go together.

After that we cast off for a 10 to 12 day trip upriver to Tunturi, where the river would become impassable and we’d have to continue our journey on foot.

Once the boat cast off and was sailing, Marxine went below. Vinya, Aldalomiel, and Elama spent most of their time on deck during the whole trip.

The rest of the day and the night passed without any incident other than watching the city slide away behind us and the countryside roll around us as we sailed toward the mountains.

27 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 58) (Day 2 of the 10-12 day journey)

Early the next morning, the party members on deck noticed a small irrigation-type canal that went off to the side of the river -- it was clearly diverting water from the river. About 150’ from the riverbank, water was shooting into the air in a spray like a geyser. There didn’t appear to be any settlements or houses or structures nearby.

Elderron sent Oda over to take a look -- as he watched through Oda’s eyes, Elderron said that there was a pipe at the end of the canal that turned upward to the sky and the water was shooting up out of that.

Elama turned to a nearby crewman: Hey, has that been that way for a while? Do we need to fix that?
Crew: Been that way for a long time.
Elama: How long?
Crew: 100 years or more. Have you seen the floating islands?
Vinya: Yeah.
Crew: There was a guy who had one tethered here and needed water. Then the island floated away and the pipe sheared off.

We decided there was no harm in the geyser -- no one further from the river needed the water from the irrigation canal and the canal wasn’t taking enough water from the river to matter downstream. And the boat wasn’t going to stop anyway.

So we sailed on.

Just after dinner, as people were preparing for bed, Vinya and Elama, still on deck, noticed two roundish humanoid shaped things the size of a house heading toward the river and the ship.

Vinya, to a crew member: What the hell’s that?
Crew: Captain! Hill giants!!

The rest of the party came up on deck as the captain did.

The giants were walking toward the riverbank, making a line so that they’d be near to the boat. Vinya moved to the side of the boat nearest the giants.

Vinya, to the Captain: Are they going to attack?
Captain: Probably.

Vinya held a shot with her bow for one of them to make an aggressive move toward the boat or anyone on it. Elama also moved to that side of the boat and waited to see what they’d do.

Aldalomiel, perhaps having more experience with hill giants, didn’t wait for them to act. She fired two arrows at one of them, hitting with both.

In response, the giants threw rocks at her -- from 200 feet away -- both of them hitting her squarely with large rocks that knocked her out almost immediately and punched holes in the deck of the ship.

Vinya took her shot against one of them and hit, but barely noticed that in her concern for Aldalomiel and her stress about the damage to the ship. The hull wasn’t breached at all, just the top deck, and the ship continued to sail -- moving closer to the giants.

Marxine encouraged the sailors to move the boat to the other side of the river, so we’d be further away from them. Vinya took two shots with her bow, against the same one she and Aldalomiel had already hit, hitting with both of them. Elama cast a powerful healing word on Aldalomiel, who stood up and then started to dodge. Elderron took a shot with his longbow, hitting once on the same one.

After Elderron’s attack, the giants stopped moving and we could hear some guttural conversation between them. The one we’d been shooting at made an angry gesture at the arrows sticking out of his body and then stomped away over a hill. The other one looked at the boat, then at his disappearing friend, then back at the boat. Then he turned and trudged after the other one.

Vinya: Does that happen often?
Crew: Not often. We should definitely stay alert. They may be back.

We helped the crew keep watch, with some of us hanging out on deck, for the rest of the night. But it passed without another visit from the hill giants, or any other incident.

28 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 59) (Day 3 of the 10-12 day journey)

In the morning, after breakfast, we heard a shout from a watchman in the bow.

Crew: Slicks!! Slicks on the water!!

We were all looking around in some confusion, except Vinya who’d experienced these before when sailing along this river to get from the monastery in the mountains she’d started her monk training in to New Arvai and the Chiaroscuro Temple where she’d finished it.

A moment after the crewmember’s call we suddenly were seeing around us a snow-covered forest with a majestic, huge tree that had a rainbow bridging between it and the sky.

Before we could really adjust to that, pretty as it was, we were back, sailing along the river with forests passing by on the riverbanks.

Vinya: Can we go back to that?

Then we were back in the snowfield and there was a beautiful crystal palace visible, with the huge tree distant in the background.

Aldalomiel recognized it as matching the descriptions of Ygdrasil, one of the outer planes. (A chaotic, chaotic good plane)

Captain Strongarm: Sometimes on the river there are patches--slicks--that are something like windows to another plane. They can be really bad. This one was nice. No way to tell.

After that we enjoyed the balmy (especially for mid-winter) weather and the rest of the day passed without incident.

At bedtime, we saw a very ancient and very ruined castle on a bluff that overlooked the river. Elderron sent Oda to investigate and saw that the castle was surrounded, and in places encroached on, by wild forest. It was clearly abandoned.

Vinya: We need to go on a history tour, y’all. Visit all these great ancient places we’ve seen. Maybe we could fix up part of that castle and live there.

We sailed on into the night, which passed without incident.

29 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 60) (Day 4 of the 10-12 day journey)

The next morning dawned grey and crappy and rainy and everyone was grateful that the Riverspark had the equipment and supplies necessary to have done rough patches to the deck where the hill giant boulders had broken through.

Elama and Vinya stayed on deck, despite the rain, but everyone else was inside. In the morning, they noticed some structures on the sides of the rivers -- arches on either side of the riverbank, opposite each other, and massive stone stubs in the middle of the river. Like there was once a bridge here.

Vinya looked for where a road might have gone from the side of the river, if this were, in fact, a bridge, and saw some hints of a road -- an area where the trees were slightly shorter and maybe thinner, that went inland and along the river, possibly toward the castle we’d seen .

Vinya marked her map of the continent with the bridge, the road, and the castle we saw the day before.

The ship sailed on.

Toward bedtime, the river started getting a lot more rough, like we were approaching rapids. Vinya remembered these, and the canals that bypassed them, from her previous trip on this river. Captain Strongaxe ordered the Riverspark to the far bank and weighed anchor.

Captain: For what I need to do here, I need light.

Then we all went on with our evening.

30 Blizzarin 749 (Campaign day 61) (Day 5 of the 10-12 day journey)

The next morning, we could see why the captain had pulled to the side of the river and anchored for the night -- there was a canal with a lock that went around a cataract on the river. Getting the Riverspray into the lock took a bit of maneuvering. Going through the lock and the canal took about an hour -- there were some people there with a team of oxen to help move the lock gates and to help move the ship into the lock and out into the main canal.

Vinya and Elama, at least, watched with interest.

Around toward bedtime, we passed the remains of another ruined bridge, stubs of the supports in the river bed and arches reaching out from the shore. Vinya tried to look for a road and saw the traces of one through the forest. It looked like it could also lead to the castle we’d seen.

After that it was bedtime and the rest of the night passed without incident.

1 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 62) (Day 6 of the 10-12 day journey)

It was crappy and rainy again, so Vinya set up a tent-like structure on deck and she and Aldalomiel hung out there for the day watching the shore go by and the rain. Elama mostly basked out in the rain, letting it soak her hair and clothes.

Vinya: Well, at least Lamie’s happy.

Just at sunset, the captain pulled to the side of the river again.

2 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 63) (Day 7 of the 10-12 day journey)

The next morning, the Riverspark went through another canal with a couple of locks around a cataract in the river. The canal was on the same side of the river as the previous one. Once again there were people and oxen who clearly worked at the canal assisting travelers through.

Despite our travels upstream and closer to the mountains, the weather was getting even warmer. It was still raining, hard enough that even Elama went below, leaving Vinya and Aldalomiel in the tent on deck.

Just after dinner, there was a cry from the lookout.

Crew: Slicks!!

Moments later all around, there were gears turning, fast and slow, intricate connections between the large and the small gears as far back as we could see. Aldalomiel and Vinya, out on the deck, were seeing the gears but feeling the rain on their faces.

Then we were back on the river.

We went through several patches of what Elderron recognized as Mechanus, the plane of pure law. During one of the passages, Vinya reached out and tried to grab one of the gears, but only managed to grab some rain.

After we got through the slicks, the night passed without incident.

3 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 64) (Day 8 of the 10-12 day journey)

The day dawned cooler and clearer and it wasn’t raining, finally. Elama came back and spent the day on deck again, along with Vinya and Aldalomiel. Elderron was on deck and enjoying the very nice day. Only Marxine was down in her cabin.

Right after we got out on deck, Vinya saw a winged reptilian creature flying toward the ship.

Vinya pointed it out to the others.

Elama: Is that what it looks like?
Elderron: It looks like a winged, reptilian, flying creature. But it only has two legs. I don’t have a good feeling about this.

It was definitely coming toward the ship with something that looked like intent, though it was about 320’ away when we noticed it.

We alerted the crew and the captain. Captain Strongaxe sent the deck crew below while he stayed on the deck to man the helm.

It was flying very fast toward the Riverspark, coming in hot. Aldalomiel readied a sling bolt for when it came within range. Vinya readied a radiant sun bolt for when it came in range (apparently she rethought that because she fired an arrow later).

Elderron prepared a slow spell to hit it with if it came within range. Marxine used the Rope of Climbing to climb up the mast -- she got about half-way up before it started to come in range of the various held actions.

It was coming in fast when Elderron’s slow spell caught it -- it actually slowed down so suddenly that it looked confused.

Elama cast a guiding bolt that did it a great deal of radiant damage and left it marked for Aldalomiel’s sling. Aldalomiel hit it twice, one a critical hit that did it a huge amount of damage. Vinya, having thought better of the sun bolt, shot it twice with her bow.

Then Elderron cast a magic missile spell on it -- peppering it with four darts. Marxine, at the top of the mast, was able to throw one of her hand axes at it and dropped it!

It landed in the river just in front of the boat with a great splash.

The sailors pulled the corpse in, which allowed Vinya to recover her arrows and Marxine to recover her hand axe.

The crew said that they were going to sell the wyvern parts, including the venom from the sting -- we only spent a second deciding how we felt about the moral ambiguity of selling the poison before we decided we were fine with that. It’s a natural product and not an inherently evil one.

The rest of the day passed without further incident, except the sailors harvesting valuable parts off the wyvern corpse.

4 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 65) (Day 9 of the 10-12 day journey)

The Captain told us over breakfast that we were making great time up the river and that he expected we’d get to Tuntori late in the afternoon the next day. Unless something weird happened.

We talked a little amongst ourselves and realized that throughout the trip Captain Strongaxe had been interacting with Mr. Stonebright as little as possible, though Stonebright wasn’t avoiding him at all.

In the mid-morning, Elama, Aldalomiel, and Vinya were all out on deck watching the river flow past us. They all saw a ripple in the water that turned into a still space in the current. Then a face that looked up at them and blinked.

Vinya: There’s a person down there! We need to rescue them.
Crew: That face is seen very rarely. It never moves or does any harm.

Captain Strongaxe said that he’d seen it once in the time he’d been on the river.

The rest of the day passed without anything happening.

5 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 66) (Day 10 of the 10-12 day journey)

In the evening, after a quiet day of traveling, the ship pulled into Tuntori, a small town.

Before we debarked, Vinya recommended that we stay at the inn she and Hragdor, her first teacher among the monks, had stayed at on their way down the mountains and down the rivers to New Arvai, a place called Allerd’s.

Stonebright accepted the recommendation of Allerd’s.

He paid the Captain and went to collect his few bags of personal belongings. When he was dealing with his things, the Captain took the party aside and gave us 500gp as our share of the sale of the wyvern parts. We thanked him, then most of the party went to help Mr. Stonebright as he got off the ship.

Captain Strongaxe pulled Marxine aside and said that we deserved more than he’d been able to give us. Since he couldn’t afford to give us more gold, he offered her something else.

Strongaxe: I can write you a letter of recommendation to my clan living in Torm Brinnom. You’ll have a place to go if things go badly for your employer up there.
Marxine: Thanks! That will be a big help.

We then all left with Mr. Stonebright and went to Allerd’s inn. Allerd was a human male in his mid-thirties who walked with a pronounced limp, but otherwise looked physically quite capable.

Vinya got the sense he recognized her from her trip through town almost two years ago. They talked a bit about what had been going on in the mountains since Vinya left.

Mr. Stonebright said that in the morning, he was going to rent a wagon and some horses, if one of us knew how to drive one. We all turned to look at Marxine.


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 19: Talking and Walking

Dramatis Personae:

Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk (Way of the Sun Soul)
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter (Champion)

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)

6 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 67)

The next morning, Vinya went to a shop and bought some arrows first thing and then we got into the wagon that Mr. Stonebright had rented and headed out on the road toward Torm Brinnom.

The road was quiet and not well travelled (this is still winter after all and we’re heading into the mountains). The day passed without incident until we’d started looking for a place to make camp.

We found a place with a tumbledown well about a hundred yards away from the road. We went to check it out while Stonebright stayed with the cart near the road and started making camp. There was a piece of wood board leaning against the wall of the well. The board, weathered and old looking had worn painted letters that read “True answers. 1 gold piece.”

Vinya shrugged and threw a gold piece in the well.

Vinya, quietly to the well: Is Mr. Stonebright a murderer?

Voice, whispering only to her: He is a heartbreaker. Not a murderer.

Vinya quietly told the others what it had said.

She decided to test the well, since we didn’t have any idea if that was actually a true answer. So she threw in a gold piece and asked where she’d started her training as a monk. The gold piece flew back out of the well and hit her in the chest.

Voice: You know the answer to that.
Vinya: I was checking if you do.
Elderron, throwing in a gold piece: I’ll ask that. Where did Vinya first study?
Voice: If she hasn’t told you that she studied at the House of Sky and Stone you should ask her why.

When Elderron relayed the response, Vinya confirmed that the answer was correct.

Elama and Vinya nudged Aldalomiel from opposite sides, urging her toward the well.

Vinya: Ask about where your girlfriend is.
Aldalomiel, throwing in a gold piece: Where is Lothiriel?
Voice: Castle Dante in the Feywild.

Vinya threw in another coin.

Vinya: How is it that you do this?

The coin shot back out of the well, but didn’t hit her.

We went back to Mr. Stonebright and made camp for the night. The night was quiet and relaxed.

7 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 68)

The next morning, before breaking camp, Vinya and Elama went back to the well. The sign had fallen over face down. Vinya tried to stand it up as it had been again. It tilted slowly then fell face down again.

Elama, throwing in a gold coin: Thanks for the info.

The coin landed with a thunk. Vinya looked in the well -- it was dry and she could see a glint, as from a single gold piece, at the bottom of the well.

They went back to camp and helped load the carts and make ready to head out.

Vinya, to Mr. Stonebright: Have you heard of this well that answers questions?
Stonebright: No, but I was in a hurry when I came through here the first time. I didn’t pay attention to much off the road.

Elama: It doesn’t seem to last long.
Marxine: We as a group got three questions -- ignoring when it got cheeky with Vinya’s test question.

We headed out and everything was quiet until lunchtime.

Around then, Aldalomiel noticed some large figures in the woods ahead of us and slightly to the side of the road. They weren’t walking or going in any direction -- milling around and then being still.

We pulled the cart off the road and found Mr. Stonebright a safe space away from the cart and away from where we thought any battle would be. Aldalomiel cast pass without trace and we snuck up toward them, hoping to ambush whatever it was.

We saw four ogres, sitting around a dead and mostly dismembered deer. They clearly hadn’t noticed us and, aside from being ogres, there was nothing that was directly harmful about them.

Elama stepped forward into the clearing.

Elama: Hey, guys!! What’s up?!

The ogres turned to look at her, jaws dropping open.

Elama: I didn’t know you were eating. We’re just passing by.
Ogre: What you want?
Elama: We just wanted to know if we could go by. Do you need anything?
Ogre: We good. We killed deer.
Elama: Excellent. We’ll just go on by then.

She came back to us and said that they were going to take a moment to put that together. We quickly got the cart and Mr. Stonebright and rode by where the ogres were sitting a hundred or so yards from the road, moving by without stopping.

Elama waved as we rode past.

The ogres nodded, one waved a little, and they went back to eating their deer. A good minute later, when we were well down the road, they burst out onto the road with their clubs in hand roaring in our direction. When they saw how far away we’d gotten, they looked confused, then shuffled back into the woods.

The rest of the day passed without and we made camp in a nice spot. The night was quiet and pleasant, if cold.

8 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 69)

We headed out in the morning very early and passed into a deep valley where the sunlight had not yet gotten to the bottom of the valley. Riding our cart in the pre-dawn gloom in this valley we saw a waterfall. It took a moment to notice something odd -- the water was flowing UP.

Elama: Well, that’s something you don’t see every day…
Vinya: This looks like wizard stuff. Elderron?

Elderron recognized it as a standing magical effect. Vinya didn’t remember seeing it when she travelled this way out of the mountains. About the time that Vinya was wondering why she hadn’t seen it, the sunlight finally reached down into the bottom of the valley.

When the light touched the waterfall, it began to flow normally.

Vinya: It would be so interesting to put something that floats, like a cork, into this river and see if it just goes back and forth or if the water eventually makes progress out of this field.

We continued on our way. A few hours later we noticed a shadow pass over us and looked up to see a dragon-shaped shadow. It waggled its wings at us as it banked around, clearly turning to come back toward us.

We got Mr. Stonebright out of the cart and about 100 feet into the forest, in a safe place under a tree with low-hanging branches.

After a minute, we heard something coming along the trail.

Presumably the dragon: Hello, the wagon!
Elama: Hi!
Dragon: What are four elves and two dwarves doing here this time of year?
Elama: We’re going to Torm Brinnom. Do you live around here?
Dragon: Yeah. Ish.
Elama: Is it okay if we pass?
Dragon: Yeah. I like the dwarves. And not in an eating them way.
Elama: We can’t see you.
Dragon: Yeah. I saw you hunkering down and didn’t want to alarm you any more than necessary.
Elama: Yeah. We saw you flying overhead.
Dragon: I was backlit.

Elama crept forward and saw a young silver dragon curled up in a cat-like pose.

Elama: You’re not as big as I thought you were.
Dragon: Everyone thinks we’re all as big as my grandma. My name is Tultorla.
Vinya, who crept up herself: How long have you been living around here?
Tultorla: Just a couple of decades. My grandma said this was a place I could live, and she’d definitely know.
Vinya: Have you been running into any problems?
Tultorla: There’s a red dragon south of here. He’s much bigger and more dangerous than I am. I stay clear of him.
Vinya: Where’s your grandmother?
Tultorla: Up in the Icerasps. I’m here just enjoying the cold and the mountains.
Vinya: It’s beautiful up near the House of Sky and Stone.
Tultorla: Yes.
Aldalomiel: Do you know anything about a well a couple of days from here that tells the truth?
Elama: It answers questions for a gold piece.
Tultorla: Oh, that. I believe that is something one of the Fey is doing out of a sense of whimsy. Maybe the Keeper of Secrets.
Vinya: If you need us or if there’s something we can do to help you, please let us know.
Tultorla: I will, thank you. I’m going to go over that way to take off -- because I don’t want to upset your horses.

She then went down the trail away from us until she was almost around a curve in the road then she took off with a leap and a huge flap of her wings.

We gathered up the cart and Mr. Stonebright, and continued on our way.

The rest of the day passed without incident. As we rode along, we talked to Mr. Stonebright about how long this trip was going to be and learned that it’s about a month’s travel from Tuntorla to Torm Brinnom, which is about what Vinya remembered. Though since she and Hragdor, her first teacher, had been going downhill it might have been a bit faster for them.

9 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 70)

We got on our way in the mid-morning. The road was getting steeper and colder as we went, and we were glad that we’d gotten warm, winter clothes for the trip.

In the mid-morning, we saw a clearing a couple hundred feet off the road with a circle of 9 stumps all sawn off at the same height. The circle was close to perfect and the height was exactly the same for all of them. We estimated that they’d been cut off a decade or so ago.

Vinya went into the circle and got a feeling like when a thunderstorm is looming and smelled ozone. She looked carefully at the stumps and saw writing on them in Sylvan. It read:

Not all roads are laid on the ground
What you leave behind will take you home

Vinya left her shawm in the middle of the circle and stepped out of it. A single note was played on the shawm then it fell silent on the ground. She went in and picked it back up.

Elama took her book, with pages that won’t take a mark, and put it down in the circle. It was picked up by invisible hands and the pages were flipped through.

Elama went and collected her book.

Elama: Vinya, cast see invisibility from the rod of alertness.
Vinya: Good idea!

She did so. She saw the stumps all connected by invisible lines on the ground, both in the circle around and with lines across the inside of the circle connecting each stump to each other stump. She also noticed something on top of every stump -- a circle. None of this was raised -- it was like the lines and circles were painted with invisible paint.

Marxine took out the card with her image on it. The last time we saw it, there was an image of her on the causeway in Pelsoreen. This time it showed her in a circle of stumps, holding a card, which had an image on it of Marxine in a circle of stumps, holding a card ....

Marxine: Huh.

She put the card into the circle. Nothing happened so she retrieved it.

Vinya took the letter she’d received that invited her to go to Tashimeet at the Knot for the Feast of Stars and set it down in the circle, staying next to it. She could see letters forming on the paper, but nothing that wrote them. The writing said:

P.S. Your path still lies ahead of you.
P.P.S. It’s good the dwarf joined you.

Vinya told the others about this message and we agreed that it was interesting. We also agreed it was good Marxine joined us. But we weren’t sure what to make of it.

Vinya, to the circle: Is there something we’re missing or that we should do here?

There was no response. So we got back on the cart and continued on our way.

During the afternoon, we saw a huge wall across the valley, sized to keep out giants. It was completely collapsed in parts and partly worn down in others. It looked ancient. We continued on our way, riding along as the road passed through one of the collapsed parts of the wall.

The rest of the day passed quietly and it was a restful night.

10 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 71)

The next morning dawned a bit warmer than it had been, a nice respite from winter in the mountains. As we headed out from our camp, we went into a glacial gorge -- a valley with a wide bottom and steep sides. The glacier had long retreated, but we saw that the walls of the valley sparkled so we went to investigate. There were quartz crystals sticking out from the walls of the valley, rounded and smoothed by the action of the glacier.

Elderron, to Mr. Stonebright: Are these of value?
Mr. Stonebright: It is not gem quality, but people in the stronghold will crush them into powder and use them on grinders and polishing cloths. They will pay for them.

Elderron, Elama, and Vinya each grabbed a couple of the stones. Vinya grabbed a couple of hand sized ones to sell and another one that fit neatly into her palm, to keep.

While we rode along, we talked with Mr. Stonebright about why he needed to get back to Torm Brinnom so urgently that he was making this trip in the winter. Since he clearly had no cargo or goods.

He told us that his clan has been feuding with another since he left. The other clan, the Turnstones, were demanding that he, Mr. Stonebright, stand trial for the murder of one of their sons in order for there to be peace. And the leaders of Torm Brinnom just wanted peace between the clans.

Mr. Stonebright was returning to stand trial.

Vinya: Do you have any evidence or anything that will prove your innocence?
Stonebright: Only, that I didn’t do it. I admit that I jilted my bethrothed, but I did not kill her brother.
Vinya: Did he confront you after you jilted her?
Stonebright: He was there. I left. They say I threw him off the wall of the stronghold.

He looked at himself, thin and clearly not nearly as strong as is typical for a dwarf.

Stonebright: I’ve never had the physique for that.

He looked at the four elves in the party for a moment.

Stonebright: It’s so easy for you elves to deal with these things. We dwarves have arranged marriages -- the goal is to have children and rebuild the clans and the strongholds. It’s very important. My clan arranged for me to marry one of the daughters of the Turnstone clan, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. They would have done better to have asked me to marry her brother. That I could have done. After I left, he was found at the base of the wall outside the stronghold.
Vinya: So someone from his own clan could have done it, if they found out that he was not interested in marrying a woman to build up the clan?
Stonebright: Perhaps. I do not know.
Vinya: Or perhaps he could have thrown himself off.
Stonebright, looking more sad: Perhaps.
Vinya: When you ask us for help, you get the full service package. At least from me. I will help you however I can. If you didn’t kill him, you shouldn’t be punished.
Stonebright: Thank you.

The day passed while we had this conversation. We made camp and passed a pleasant and uneventful night and evening.

11 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 72)

The next day we had an uneventful day of travel until it was time to find a place to make camp for the night. We found a clearing where all the grass had been turned to stone. We made camp, with one of Elderron’s tiny huts. The night passed without incident.

12 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 73)

As we were wheeling the cart to the road the next morning, we were surprised by a 20’ tall grey humanoid stepping out onto the road in front of us.

Elama: Hi!! Why do you block the road?
Giant: <<said something in Giant>>

Elama cast Tongues then asked the Giant to repeat himself.

Giant: What are you doing here this time of year?
Elama: We’re on the way to Torm Brinnom. Just passing through.

The giant looked at the party, focusing on Mr. Stonebright.

Giant, to Elama: Ask him if he knows the way.
Elama, to Stonebright: He wants to know if you know the way.
Stonebright: Tell him I know the ways both long and short.
Elama, to Giant: He says he knows the way. The shortcuts too.
Giant: We would not have you where we live come the Festival of Rain.
Elama, to us: He wants us not to be in his territory on the Festival.
Giant: Take the tunnel that is longer than it seems. He knows it.
Elama, to us: He said something about a tunnel that is longer than it seems.
Stonebright: I know it. Tell him we’ll be there just before the Festival.
Elama, to giant: He knows. We’ll be there in time.
Giant: Good.

The giant then slid away into the woods and the rocky crags of the mountains.

We continued on our way and got to a valley with petroglyphs carved into the patina on the rock walls of the valley. Giant sized petroglyphs.

We stopped for lunch and while we were resting, Vinya started drawing the petroglyphs. Copying them into her sketchbook.

Elama and Marxine recognized these and knew that they had deep religious significance, possibly magical significance as well, and copying them might actually cast a spell.

Elama, to Vinya: Hey, maybe you shouldn’t do that.
Elderron: Maybe draw them out of order. Or mess them up a bit.

Vinya did that, but drew the most interesting of the figures. She noticed as she did so that some of them looked very old, but as though they were still being maintained. Some of them looked very new. And they covered all the span of time between.

The rest of the day and the night passed.

13 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 74)

The day was notably warmer still than it had been in previous days. It was rainy and slushy and generally crappy out. The grizzly grey, rainy day passed into a grizzly grey evening and we made camp.

The night passed without incident.

14 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 75)

The morning was quite a lot colder, by at least 20 degrees, but at least it wasn’t raining. Vinya dried off the horses and we broke camp.

As the day passed, it just got colder and colder. Later in the day it did snow.

The cold night passed. With us in a climate-controlled tiny hut.

15 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 76)

In the morning, as we were breaking camp, a single humanoid figure walked toward us on the road from the direction we were heading in. He was dressed elegantly and expensively, though his clothes didn’t appear to be especially warm. His clothes were blue and black and white and his skin was pale blueish-grey.

He stopped well away from the party -- at a non-threatening distance.

Him: Hello, travelers!
Elama: Greetings! Do you come from Torm Brinnom?
Him: Alas, I do not.
Elama: I didn’t think anything else was up here.
Him: I have been sent by my mistress to walk on this road. There are often people who overestimate their abilities or underestimate winter in the mountains. There are deals to be made.
Elama: What kinds of deals?
Him: The deals are not to my benefit, but to my lady’s and to the people who make them. If they keep them.
Vinya: Why does everyone keep being surprised that we’re traveling this road?
Him: There’s very little travel in the winter. But there are always some people who will try.
Vinya: Do you make it colder around you?
Him: No.
Elama: I think we’ll be fine.
Him: Very well.

He left, continuing down the mountain.

We broke camp and started out. As we did so, Elderron thought about it for a bit then decided that he might have been an agent of the Tundra Queen. Vinya remembered the lore in her village (on the other side of these same mountains) warning people not to make deals with blue-skinned strangers, but she didn’t know about the Tundra Queen. Elderron told us that the Tundra Queen is a Fey noble mostly active quite a ways north of Embernook. This seemed to him to be very far south for her.


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 20: Helping A Friend

Dramatis Personae:
Aldalómiel - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)
Elama “Lamie” Galanodel- Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest)
Vinya Anar - Wood Elf Monk (Way of the Sun Soul)
Elderon - High Elf Wizard (Loremaster)
Marxine Deepfoot - Dwarf Fighter (Champion)

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: This session was held on Discord.)

15 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 76) (immediately after)

As we walked along, we talked about maybe trying to meet up with the Walking Man, Falaggo, again and possibly see about getting a short-cut to Torm Brinnom. The timing was right, the full moon would be the next night, but unfortunately we hadn’t seen a single side road the whole way.

So we weren’t going to be able to be at a crossroads on the full moon.

We kept our eyes open though, and the day passed without incident.

We made camp and the night passed without incident as well.

16 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 77)

We headed out in the morning. After a few hours of travel, as we went up toward a mountain pass, we saw ahead of us, crossing the road, a large wagon with a yoke that looked as though it was over the shoulders of a pair of oxen (as far as being at the right height) but there were no animals in the yoke. There were five human-sized figures with black-feathered wings walking around the cart, one where the heads of the oxen would be and the others around the wagon itself. They were traveling off-road and heading generally northward.

On the cart there was something large that was bundled up with tarps and tied down with ropes. It was shifting and stirring slightly. Elderron spotted a silvery-blueish flash as the shape under the tarps shifted around.

Vinya, when Elderron said that: They haven’t caught our dragon friend, have they?
Elderron: We need to talk to them.
Elama: Hello!! Travellers!!!

They turned toward us. We could see that their faces were gaunt to the point of skeletal. One of them straightened and stepped toward us.

Winged humanoid: Good noontide, travelers.
Elama: Where are you going? We are on the way to Torm Brinnom.
Winged humanoid: We are on our way to the north. We are taking this :):gestures to the large wrapped shape on the wagon::) to our lady.
Elderron: Who is your lady?
Winged humanoid: We serve Vortana Verdi. We are returning this to her.

Elderron recognized this as the name of a Fey Noble, and whispered this to us.

Elderron: What are you transporting? It must be of great importance.
Winged humanoid: She has not told us why she wants it. We believe she is endeavoring to make a point.

Most of the party was trying to see what was under the tarp during this conversation. Marxine, on the other hand, was checking them out to see how they were armed and what their fighting capability was. She didn’t see any weapons, but they did have long claws and obviously sharp teeth.

Vinya, having not seen anything but with some strong suspicions: We hope you have safe travels. We’ve been meeting some very interesting people in these mountains - a blue skinned guy who wanted to make a deal, a stone giant, and a really nice Silver Dragon named TULTORLA WHO WE SAID WE WOULD BE HAPPY TO HELP.

She was shouting the last part loud enough to be heard by whatever was under the tarp. As she shouted those last words, the figure under the tarp stirred feebly. At the same moment, the winged figures leapt into the air.

Vinya: And we’re off…

Mr. Stonebright slid off the cart on the side away from the attackers and hid underneath it, as we’d been teaching him.

Aldalomiel took two shots with her longbow, hitting the one we’d been talking to twice despite the great distance (almost 200 feet) to the things. Vinya shot the same one with her shortbow, and got one hit, then moved forward 35 feet.

One of them moved and dashed and flew right into Vinya’s face, but wasn’t able to attack her after moving so far. The others moved up to where they were 100 feet away, spread out into two groups of two on either side of us. Then they pulled feathers out of their wings and threw them at Vinya. Fortunately all of them missed, though one was close.

Marxine moved up to the one on the ground and attacked it, getting one good solid hit. Elama moved up near Vinya and cast call lightning. She hit the wounded one with a lightning bolt. Elderron cast a fireball that got two that had not been hurt at all -- they weren’t killed, but large chunks of them almost sublimated, vaporizing away.

Aldalomiel again got two hits with her arrows.

Vinya suffered from ill-effects because of being so close to one of them, but she was still able to hit the one on the ground in front of her with her quarter-staff twice and then with her unarmed strike.

That one then turned around and bit her, then clawed at her with razor-sharp talons. The damage from the actual claws and teeth wasn’t so bad, but there was a lot of necrosis and withering that went along with it and Vinya was immediately dropped.

Marxine was hit by one of the feather-darts thrown by the ones in the air and found herself becoming exhausted. Despite that she attacked the one that had taken Vinya out, hitting it once. She got a second wind, but didn’t get any additional hits.

Elama healed Vinya and then dropped the one that Aldalomiel and Vinya had initially hit (one of the ones in the air) with lightning from the Call Lightning. Elderron followed that up with a lightning bolt, though he changed the damage to fire damage because Loremasters are awesome that way. Unfortunately he was only able to hit one that was previously uninjured, but it took lots of damage from the fire. Aldalomiel took a couple of shots at the most injured one, but it did not drop.

Vinya stood up, then hit the one that had dropped her twice with her quarterstaff. Then she did some patient defense, in hopes of not dropping again.

One of the ones in the air broke away from the others and landed in front of Elderron, attacking with claws and teeth, and the other two threw feathers at him. Elderron was able to use his shield spell to keep the attacks from hitting him. The one on the ground attacked Marxine and missed.

Marxine hit the one that she and Vinya were on twice, doing a lot of damage. Elama cast a spiritual weapon on the one that was attacking Elderron, then she called lightning on the most hurt of them -- which was left very wobbly shading to barely not dead. Elderron used misty step to move 30 feet away from the one one the ground then he firebolted it for 10 points of damage. There was a terrible shriek from it, but it didn’t die. Aldalomiel put her hunters mark on the one on Marxine and Vinya and dropped it with a well-placed arrow. Then she turned and fired at the one Elderron had just shot with his firebolt and dropped it too.

Vinya, seeing that she had no immediate opponent and figuring that the others had things in hand, ran as fast as she possibly could toward the wagon, getting well more than half the way there.

The two creatures in the air threw feathers at Elderron, hitting him for quite a lot of damage and a level of exhaustion.

In return, Marxine threw her handaxes at the most damaged of those two, dropping it with her first axe. It fell out of the air in a spiral. When it hit the ground it shattered into a cloud of sleet and ice. She threw her second axe at the other one in the air but missed. Elama hit the last remaining one with a lightning bolt from her spell, but it didn’t drop. Elderron followed that up with a magic missile spell, altered to do fire damage, that it didn’t like at all, but it didn’t drop. Aldalomiel moved her hunter’s mark and shot at it twice, finally dropping it.

Vinya got to the cart and pulled the tarps and bindings off of Tultorla. She was bedraggled and exhausted near to death. Vinya removed the ropes that were holding her down.

Tultorla: The Tundra Queen sent them. She has a hate on for my grandmother for some reason.

The others came close, after helping Mr. Stonebright out from under our wagon.

Elama stayed with Tultorla while Vinya went to check out the oxen. She offered a treat (or as close as she could come, which was crushed hardtack) to one of them, holding it on her hand in about the location where an ox’s head would be, but there was no reaction. Elderron came over and after a bit of observation realized that the oxen were something like the effect of a Mordenkainen’s Faithful Hound spell, but created by the yoke. They have no independent action, but will follow someone who leads them.

The yoke and the cart were both of obviously fey design and decoration.

We took a short rest while we discussed how to proceed.

We decided that we’d take the fey cart with the magical yoke with us and Tultorla could just ride on it and stay with us until she was feeling better. We used the tarps to disguise the cart a bit, though we realized with a bit of dismay that it wouldn’t stop someone who knew the cart from scrying on us.

After our short rest we continued on our way along the road, and the day passed without incident. We made camp that night, but without a tiny hut, since Tultorla wouldn’t be able to stay in it with us.

The night passed without incident.

17 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 78)

The next morning, before we left, Elderron examined the fey cart and the yoke. It appeared that the yoke was activated by connecting it to a hitch. We decided that, despite our concerns about scrying, we’d continue with the fey cart and the phantom oxen at least until we got to Torm Brinnom.

As we travelled, we noticed that Tultorla was perking up some, though she still didn’t feel great.

The day passed without incident. Despite not having a tiny hut again, the night did as well.

18 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 79)

In the morning, as we were waking up, Tultorla informed us calmly that there were stone giants around, just shadowing us.

Vinya: I wonder why? We’re doing what they want and continuing on our way out of their territory.
Tultorla: Some dragons and some giants still have bad feelings toward one another even these thousands of years after the war.

We continued to break camp. Just as we were getting about to head out, Elama used thaumaturgy to make her voice very loud.

Elama: Good morning, Mr. Giant!

There was no response and we headed out onto the road. Between the dragon we were traveling with and the giant or giants shadowing us, the day was eerily still and quiet.

We made camp and the night also passed completely without incident.

19 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 80)

The next morning, as we broke camp, we talked about the fact that we had 10 days to get out of the giants’ territory. Tultorla, who was feeling still better, flew and looked around as eyes in the sky getting an aerial view of the surrounding area.

She landed back on the cart and told us that she’d spotted a shorter route to a tunnel, but it might not be the same one Mr. Stonebright was planning on using.

Vinya, to Mr. Stonebright: Would that be okay with you?
Stonebright, after consulting his map: Yes. I can work with that.

Tultorla’s route involved going off-road. We checked to make sure that both of the carts were equipped with sled-runners if we needed them. Both were, so we felt good about going this new way.

We headed off in that direction and had no problems with the wagons off road. Tultorla occasionally flew up for a moment or two to help us scout out the best routes. She was also feeling enough better that she walked with us, rather than riding in the cart, to make it easier for traveling off road.

The day and the night passed quietly.

20 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 81)

When we woke and made breakfast the next morning, a couple of stone giants came to the edge of our campsite.

They said something and none of us could understand. So Elama cast tongues, then spoke to them, inviting them to repeat what they’d said.

Stone Giant: Are you lost?
Elama: We are heading toward a shorter route to get out of your territory sooner.

Mr. Stonebright offered to show them a map, but they clearly didn’t understand the concept of maps.

Giant: So long as That One :):gesturing at Tultorla::) is with you, we are concerned.
Elama: She’s the one who told us about this shortcut.
Giant: We do not trust That One or those who befriend it.
Elama: She’s cool. You’re cool. Why can’t everyone get along? What do you fear is going to happen?
Giant: We are not happy about it walking on top of our mountains.
Elama: Yeah, but that was a long time ago.
Elderron: We understand the old scars.
Giant: We hope you are not being led wrong.

We told him where Tultorla was taking us. He did know the way and he agreed that it would get us to Torm Brinnom, if Mr. Stonebright can open the way. He said that he could.

We headed out on our way, with Tultorla walking along with us. She was feeling much better.

Tultorla: My grandmother said that adventurers were the best investment she could make.
Elama: You’re going to stay with us for the rest of the trip right? I like talking with you.
Tultorla: I’ll stay with you until the tunnel to Torm Brinnom. I could be less conspicuous if I were older.
Elama: How?
Tultorla: If I were older I could look like a humanoid.
Elama: Why would you?! You look awesome!
Tultorla: It’s easier to spend time with humans and other humanoids in their form. There’s less gushing over how awesome we are.

We continued to proceed. After a while, we noticed that we weren’t being shadowed by the Stone Giants anymore.

Despite their absence, the day and the night passed.

21 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 82)

The day was a little colder than it had been in previous days. Tultorla used some dragon paper she retrieved from somewhere and sent a letter to her grandmother to let her know about the winged-things sent to capture her and also about how helpful we had been to her. She got all of our names to include in the letter to her grandmother. And, she said, she’d be able to send us messages with dragon paper with our names.

The day passed without incident until shortly before sunset. At that point, Tultorla showed us a cliff-face with the shape of a stone arch carved into it. (Like a bas-relief of a masonry arch.)

We said goodbye to Tultorla.

Vinya: Be careful and watch out for those things. And other agents of the Tundra Queen. And call on us if you need us.
Tultorla: I know how they work now and how to stay safe. I will contact you again someday, I’m sure.

With that she flew away.

After she had left, Mr. Stonebright took something that looked like a cameo, only the image was of a stronghold, out of his pocket. He used that to tap on some of the carved “stones” in the arch. After a minute there was a gust of wind and the inside of the arch opened to a wide valley. On the other side of the valley, there was a large mountain with a horizontal slit carved into it.

We goggled at this.

Mr. Stonebright: This is old, old magic.

We walked through the arch, stepping through it to the other side of the mountain.

Vinya, looking ahead: How did they do that to the mountain?
Stonebright: Dwarves can be very persistent.

We made camp not far from where we stepped out onto the road on the other side.

The night passed.

22 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 83)

The next morning dawned a little warmer and drizzly. We headed out. After a couple of hours, six dwarves on stout ponies came by. Five of them pulled out crossbows as they approached, but didn’t point them right at us.

Marxine tried to shove Mr. Stonebright down into the cart, but he resisted her.

Stonebright: If I’m hiding, it will be worse.

They came closer, with their crossbows pointing down, clearly not expecting trouble.

Dwarf: Good morning.
Elama: Hello!
Dwarf: It’s been a while since we’ve had an elf, let alone :):he made a show of counting::) four of them. Why are you here?
Elama: We’re escorting someone here.
Dwarf, studying the fey cart: That’s an interesting cart.
Vinya: Some fey creatures with wings attacked a friend of ours. We rescued her from them and got this wagon in the process. We’re thinking of selling it.

He proceeded to talk us more or less out of selling the cart.

Dwarf, looking at Stonebright: He must be the one that hired you?
Vinya: Yeah.
Dwarf, to Stonebright: Welcome back. Glad you enjoyed your trip.

They rode off and we headed on our way. After they were out of sight Vinya turned to Mr. Stonebright.

Vinya: What did they mean by you enjoying your trip?
Stonebright, after a moment’s thought: I don’t think they meant anything.


We continued on our way through the valley, making camp at sunset. Mr. Stonebright told us he thought we’d get there mid-day the next day.

Vinya asked him what we should expect when we arrive. He said that he would most likely not be arrested immediately. At most the guards will escort him to his clanhold. His family will be expected to produce him for trial.

Vinya: How long until the trial, do you think?
Stonebright: Probably not long, since the elders and chiefs of the other clans really want the feuding to stop.
Vinya: How will the trial work?
Stonebright: I hope some people in my clan will argue for me. I’m not good at that.
Vinya: How can we help you?
Stonebright: I’m probably not going to be allowed to leave my clanhold, so I don’t know how I’m going to be able to talk to people and find witnesses.

We offered our assistance with that. And with arguing in court if necessary.

23 Dorrinin 749 (Campaign day 84)

As we got closer to Torm Brinnom, we noticed that the slit in the mountain was about 50 feet tall. The road led up the mountain toward a gate that looked like they knocked a section out of the bottom of the slot -- the gate was 75 feet tall and the top of it was more or less level with the bottom of the open slit in the mountain.

We also noticed that there were more and more dwarves on the road as we approached the city gate.

As we entered through the gate, the guards stopped us. Mr. Stonebright gave his name. They clearly knew his name and who he was, but there was no move to arrest him at all.

Guard: Mr. Stonebright, go on through.

We went on through. The road was in a deep canyon-like slot that was 20 feet below the level of the floor of the hold. Over the course of a quarter of a mile, the trench rose up until it was at the level of the floor and it went out into a large largely open area with a lot of smaller buildings in it. There was also one larger building, about the size of the Fireruby compound in Lonoj. Beyond this open area were 10 large clanholds. Each of them was many stories tall and Mr. Stonebright told us that they also continued underground. The compound in the common area was where the hill dwarves live.

The 10 clanholds were arranged in a kind of arch around the open, common area. Stonebright lead us to the third one from the left, taking us right to the gate.

At the gate, he spoke to the dwarves on guard.

Mr. Stonebright: I’m Ullard Stonebright. I would ask that my companions be admitted as my guests.

The guards asked us to wait and some of them disappeared. After a while they returned with a matron who said that Ullard Stonebright would be allowed to have guests. However he would not be allowed to leave the compound.

At that the gates to the Stonebright clanhold opened in front of us and we rode in on our carts.

Once we were inside the compound, we had a bit of a drive to the house.

Vinya: Who can we talk to to help you? Your mother? Your father? I don’t know how this dwarf stuff works.
Ullard Stonebright: Tanlot is our Elder. I will ask if you can talk to her. I don’t know who would be in town now.

We went inside and were greeted by an elderly dwarven woman. She greeted Stonebright a bit tensely, but it was not cold or unfriendly. She told us that we’d be able to come and go as we pleased, but that Ullard would be expected to remain in the clanhold. He has already fled once.

The dwarven lady, and a couple of other dwarves who showed up, began to talk to Marxine about where she was from (Torm Halstraf) and her clan, the Deepfoots. As have other dwarves we’ve met, they recognized that stronghold life is not for everyone. They were also horrified that as a miner, she was not treated well by her employers. They clearly felt that it reflected poorly on her employers and not at all poorly on Marxine. Eventually, after a bit of discussion, they realized that they knew some of Marxine’s people in Torm Halstraf.

Once they had sorted out that connection to her and her people, they were more welcoming to the five of us.

And there we ended.

An Advertisement