Adventures in Thargothras

Session 6
The Rot Hag's Cabin

Since five members of the party returned to Whitefield on Pasaday, Tertiar 25, they had a little more time to work on their personal interests before Allen, Erosia, and Seralyn return with a great many boons and gifts on Ividay, Quartar 3. Gabriel Button left for a few days (Quartar 5-18), leaving Vaelin in charge of his duties with assistance from Stephen Cypress and Seralyn. During that time it was discovered that someone had dug up the Borsteads' turnips. The investigation has been postponed for now.

Skyler built a second and third dojo, and began costruction on a labyrinth, while Felicity began construction of an office and a brewery, the first of which was completed on the 12th, and the latter of which was not finished until the 28th, when the party returned from their main adventure.

On the evening before the 25th, Caleb's friend Morys Tabard's sister Rose was kidnapped, and the matter was brought to the attention of Allen, and through him to the rest of the party. A day and a half was spent tracking the hags' tainted kappa minions to a cabin at the edge of the Swamp of Ghosts and the fringe of the Gravewood. It was on the way that they encountered two peaceful kappa, one with the powers of illusion, who warned them of the curse of madness that the hags had inflicted on its kin. Later, when they encountered a squad of seven tainted kappa, they managed to reverse the effects after using nonlethal combat.

Upon reaching the cabin, they snuck to the door and nearest windows to listen to a conversation unfold between Rose, Granny Willow (a storm hag and leader of the coven), Jorba the Rotten (a rot hag and the owner of the house), and Wicked Peggy Knucklebones (a green hag). At the end of the conversation, combat began, and the hags were quickly overwhelmed. Granny Willow escaped on her broom, and Jorba broke a Violated Horn (of which she likely only had one), but Peggy tried to escape through a window and fell unconscious as Felicity hamstrung her on the way out.

After the girl was confirmed to be safe and free of her cage, the party tied and interrogated Peggy Knucklebones as to the location of her "sisters." Granny Willow's whereabouts were narrowed down to the edge of Lake Audrey, while Jorba could be anywhere within walking distance of a town where beautiful elven women (who smell of perfume and pox) can receive healing magic. After some cryptic mention of the Mother of Woe (a probable Tower Hag, the mightiest of their kind, known for collecting the teeth of human children), the interrogation was over and Peggy was executed by Felicity.

The party searched the premises to find the treasure listed below, and returned home on the 28th, and that's where we left off.

Treasure:

Armchair (10 gp), needs reupholstering, and cleaning.
Sedan Chair (100 gp, 60 lb), all wooden, needs cleaning.
10 x Workbench (30 gp) = 2 Goods each for building any rooms that include a workbench in their description, limit 1 per room unless stated otherwise.
Plain Tapestry (50 gp) claimed by Vaelin
Iron Cauldron (16 gp, 40 lb), sized to cook a small creature, lid included.
Barrel (2 gp, 30 lb)
Ladder (10') (2 sp, 20 lb)
A somewhat rusted cage, holding a young child (Rose). DC 12 to pick the lock, DC 23 Str to break the cage without hurting the child. Destroyed.
Silver statue of a dragon (65 gp)
Clay Pitcher (2 cp, 5 lb)
Clay Tankard (2 cp, 2 lb)
2 x Sack (1 sp, 1/2 lb)
Basket (4 sp, 1 lb)
Artisan's Tools (5 gp, 5 lb)
Miner's Pick (3 gp, 10 lb) = 1 Labor if used with sledge below, usable for two rooms in contact with the ground.
2 x Sledge (1 gp, 10 lb)
2 x Pitchfork (2 gp, 5 lb)
Lamp (1 sp, 1 lb)
2 x Pole (10') (5 cp, 8 lb)
4x Small Hunting Trap (live) (4 gp, 5 lb)
Handsaw (3 gp, 5 lb) = 1 Labor for building with wood.
Common Wig (1 gp)

Large Iron Box (2 gp, 100 lb) containing:
Masterwork Chainmail (300 gp)
Masterwork Morningstar (308 gp)
Cold Weather Outfit (8 gp, 7 lb)
Snowshoes (8 gp, 8 lb)
2 x Wooden Holy Symbol (1 gp)
Potion of Guidance (cr, 25 gp)
Potion of Resistance (cr, 25 gp)
Potion of Stabilize (cr, 25 gp)

Scroll of Glide (apg, 150 gp)
Scroll of True Strike (cr, 25 gp)
2 x Wand of Entangle (cr, 750 gp)
13 x Chisel (5 sp, 2 lb) = 2 Labor for building with stone if used with hammers below.
6 x Hammer (5 sp, 2 lb)
Copper brazier with religious markings (50 gp)
3 x Box of Charcoal (1 sp, 20 lb)
2 x Box of 20 Arrowheads (5 sp, 1 lb)
Flask of Oil (1 sp, 1 lb)
Flint and Steel (1 gp)
Iron Bar (1 sp, 5 lb)
Small Magnet (10 gp, 1 lb)
2 x Vial of Ink (8 gp)
Whetsone (2 cp, 1 lb)
11 x Sewing Needle (5 sp) = 1 Goods for any product made from cloth.
3 x Small Cask of Wax (2 sp, 5 lb) = 1 Goods for any product that requires wax (like sealing bottles).
13 x Bag of Iron Nails (5 sp, 1 lb) = 1 Goods for construction of a building
Bolt of Canvas (1 gp, 10 lb) = 1 goods for any cloth product or furnishings.
15 x Bag of Chalk (1 sp, 1/2 lb) = 3 Goods usable for any rooms that also require Magic to build.
Shears (5 gp, 2 lb)
Sickle (1 gp, 2 lb)
Bag of 20 Marbles (2 sp, 1 lb) = 1 Goods to build a Game Room if supplemented with the game boards and dice below.
10 x Game Board (1 gp, 2 lb)
Pair of Dice (1 sp)
29 x Bedroll (1 sp, 5 lb) = 2 Goods for constructing Lodgings or an Infirmary.

Bag of Chestnuts (1 gp, 1 lb), edible.
Bag of Dried Mushrooms (3 gp, 1 lb), edible but hallucinogenic.
Bottle of Brandywine (5 gp, 4 lb), edible.
Bottle of Good Wine (1 gp, 4 lb), edible.
Bottle of Honey (4 sp, 4 lb), edible.
Small Cask of Ale (2 sp, 8 lb), edible.

Small Iron Box (1 gp, 20 lb) containing:
464 pp, 271 gp, 88 sp, 58 cp

Bucket (5 sp, 2 lb) containing:
Agate (10 gp)
Amber (100 gp)
Amethyst (110 gp)
Aquamarine (450 gp)
A glass jar full of teeth (around 30) labeled “For the Mother of Woe”
Carnelian (50 gp)
Citrine (55 gp)
Freshwater Pearl (11 gp)
Garnet (100 gp)
Lapis Lazuli (7 gp)
Obsidian (10 gp)
Opal (550 gp)
Opal (600 gp)
Rhodochrosite (7 gp)
Rock Quartz (10 gp)
Rose Quartz (40 gp)
Rose Quartz (45 gp)
Smoky Quartz (60 gp)
Zircon (40 gp)
Zircon (45 gp)
Zircon (55 gp)

2 x Ballista (500 gp) – currently unusable but reparable. No ammunition. Value halved until repaired.
2 x Light Catapult (550 gp) – currently unusable but reparable. No ammunition. Value halved until repaired.
Rack of Firewood (1 sp, 200 lb) = 2 Goods for furnishings, building construction, or wooden products.
Rope Net (10' x 10') (4 gp, 40 lb) – in surprisingly good condition. Counts as 1 Goods for building Blinds.

Total treasure value (including conversion to capital): 11,810.14

Please comment below with what treasure you would like to claim. If two of you want to claim the same item, do not use the comment section to bicker, bicker IRL, please.

Karmic adjustments:
For everyone taking measures to ensure that no kappa were killed this session, everyone gains one point of karma. This is the only adjustment, and brings everyone to the listed totals.
Allen at 16
Erosia at 10
Felicity at 10
Joshua at 4
Seralyn at 16
Skyler at 9
Vaelin at 11

View
The Beginning

Ortsday, Tertiar 24, the year 930.

Picture, if you will, a dark office, lit by a single candle. The whistling of the harsh wind outside, audible through a crack in the window. The lack of noise than accompanies people, replaced by the hoots and howls of bird and beast. The creaks and clicks of an old building at night. The loud beating of a heavy heart, inside a man much older than he looks.

It began again, as these things did, with a letter written upon black parchment. To other viewers, anyone who hadn't taken the Oath, the page appeared as a perfectly ordinary sheet of white vellum, the words written upon it detailing only the most mundane and banal conversation the reader could think of, in perfectly ordinary black ink. To those who had taken the Oath, however, it would appear as it was. The missive would be placed in a black envelope of similar enchantment to the letter itself, sealed with clear wax that appeared to mundane viewers as a signet carrying sufficient authority to dissuade temptation of breaking the seal. These measures had thus far been sufficient to keep the secrets of his kith safe. He hadn't had to touch such an object in years, let alone write on it, but the letter sent to him merited a reply in kind, and a forwarding to others who had joined the covenant. An old friend, a comrade-in-arms, had sent him a warning written on the same material, begging him to spread the word, even though other, similar warnings had come from similar friends. Given his rank and position, he was privy to many rumors among the commonfolk and gentry alike, and if the rumors were true, there was danger erupting all over the kingdom. 

He checked his supplies. The pot of silver ink, which he normally kept hidden behind a loose brick, high above his bed, was half full at best; he would need to be sussinct. The black pages and envelopes, kept flat beneath a false bottom in one of the drawers of his wardrobe, numbering five. He would need to choose his recipients carefully, and send for more stationery when the time was right. The special wax, which he had managed to keep hidden in the gap behind a short drawer in his desk, he somehow had an abundance of. Were it not for the solemnity of the occasion, he might have chuckled at the sight. Had there been a wick inside, it could be used as an eighteen-hour candle. Unlike the rest of his equipment, the translucent block was truly a lifetime supply.

He dipped his quill into a pot of regular ink and began an early draft on a regular sheet of paper. He had to choose his words carefully before committing to his final dispatch. A meeting would need to be held to determine whether further plans should be coordinated. He stopped, considering the thought. The Night's Army hadn't had an official meeting in well over a decade. For some, it would be the first Moot. For others, it could well be the last. No two Moots had ever had the all of the same members present. The Night's Army was spread over a few generations, so even barring death by violence, a common end in their line of work, some members might receive Ortrul's Kiss by way of the passage of time. 

After finishing the letters, he stood up and took note of his surroundings. The light of dawn was beginning to show through the window, though not directly. Quietly, he lit a kindle-stick with the pitiful stump of the candle that had burned all night, melted a portion of the enchanted wax, sealed the envelopes, and burnt his drafts, collecting the ashes in a bowl, grinding them to the finest powder, and sprinkling half into the fireplace. The other half he mixed with water and drank. No member of the Night's Army lived to a ripe age without caution, and magic could do and undo many things. The letters, stark black to him and him alone, were shuffled into a stack of other pieces of mail to be given to a messenger today. As a final act to soothe his mind, he went to his private shrine in the lower floor, beneath the ground. Making sure no one was looking, he pressed a brick that looked like any other, and the wall swung open with a metallic squeal. He made a note to oil it when he had the chance. In the hidden chamber was his armory. Black armor and clothing, silvered weapons. The insignia of the Night's Army, to strike fear into the few enemies that actually knew of their existence. Everything was present and in good repair, save for the rough hinges on the door. He closed the door and returned to his room. It was time to sleep.


Dragonsday, Tertiar 29, the year 930.

Picture, if you will, a clear morning, bright sun shining down on a bustling town square. The laughter of a child, two old women trading gossip as they fill buckets at a well, talking over each other over matters that would be better whispered. A gentle breeze, stirring up the dust on the road, and the clopping of hooves as a letter carrier passes through. The smile of a man who has seen too much, but hides it well under years of professionalism.

It began again, as these things do, with a black envelope, from an old comrade-in-arms. After participating in combat against a pair of restless spirits a few days prior, it was all Gabriel Button could do to stop himself from reading it as he returned to Zelcir Keep with a stack of letters. What other horrors beset the kingdom so that he would receive a letter from the Night's Army? Was Whitefield merely one of many sites of supernatural carnage? After delivering the rest of the mail to its intended recipients within the keep, he went to his room and read and reread voraciously. A Moot, on such short notice? He'd need to leave someone capable in charge of his duties while he was gone. A few names sprang to mind, but better to have a coordinated team, starting with Cypress, Maclear, and Smith, whenever she returned from dealing with the plague. 

Dutifully, he retrieved his writing equipment from the various hiding places in his room, and after writing up a few drafts with ordinary paper, burnt soon after, he wrote the last few missives on the proper paper, with the proper ink, and prepared most of them to be sent out the next day. One message, however, could be sent immediately. He took the stairs to aviary on the roof. Gently, he took one of his older homing pigeons from its cage.
"Good news, Scrimshaw. You're finally going outside. I know it's been a while, but I'm sure you remember the way. I'll miss you while you're gone." He tied a tiny black scroll with silver script to the pigeon's leg, opened his window, and held back a tear as he watched it fly away.


Lastday, Tertiar 30, the year 930.

Picture, if you will, a small cabin in the heart of a forest, hidden from a distance by nets laced with branches and leaves. The musty scent of the forest floor, the calling of birds and insects, unseen among the trees and the carpet of fallen leaves. The narrow rays of sunlight interrupting the shadows, illuminating the ever-present dust and pollen in the air. A small room with shuttered, paneless windows, rustic furniture, and a rack of black weapons gathering dust, mounted on a wall. A dresser, carved by an untrained hand, warped with age, revealing a corner of black cloth in the bottom drawer that refuses to close. The near-silent wheezing of an old but loyal dog, as she sleeps on the floor in front of a lit fireplace. The inimitable smell of turnip and venison stew, bubbling in an iron pot, stirred by an elderly hand. The flapping and cooing of a bird coming to roost just outside, the dog's curious moan, alerting her owner. and an appreciative grunt in reply.

It began again, as these things do, with a roll of black parchment and silver ink….

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Session 5
Flowers and dead letters

On the morning of Felsday, Tertiar 22, the party had made it outside the gates of Port Westvale, only to find a mini-market in front of a closed and barred town entrance. It was explained by Anne Sulari that the town was under quarantine. Allen met an old friend, Joshua, who volunteered to help, and was answered with Elmegor Vant, who beseeched any volunteers to retrieve as many samples as possible of the Tellovari flower in the Bloodfire Marsh to assist the herbalists in making a medicine capable of helping the plague. After learning of the symptoms, the party determined that the strain of disease was probably artificial, and extrapolated (correctly, though they do not have any confirmation yet) that it could be the work of Kemassu, the Prince of Pestilence, working towards the Silver King's ends in some way.

The party began their quest, heading west and stopping at Camor Castle to sequester their refugees and purchase 27 doses of vermin repellent (with 1gp and 5 sp left as a tip), which, in a party of 8, meant between 3 and 3-1/2 doses per person for the trip. Anyway, between Port Westvale and Camor Castle, Allen cast Ereborn's Emergency Equine a few times to fetch Erosia from Whitefield. The next day, the party embarked across the Sassaran and into the Bloodfire Marsh, where they happened upon a small group of native grippli. One grippli spoke passable Common (albeit in a croaking voice), and offered to lead the party safely through the marsh to the "Fire Flower" as she called it, on the condition that the party collect no more than half the blossoms, as the flower was sacred and its ecology delicate. The party accepted the terms.

When the guide stopped, the party continued on a short distance to find a wheel-shaped pool, in the center of which was an island with the Tellovari, or Orange Lilac if you prefer. There was also a lot of brown mold and a 5-headed pyrohydra, which they knocked unconscious rather than kill in deference to its occupation as a sacred guardian beast. Having collected no more than half the petals, the party was led out of the marsh and returned to Camor Castle, from which the citizens of Radimyr were sent home upriver, along with everyone else in the party except Allen, Seralyn, and Erosia, who decided to deliver the petals to Port Westvale and try and get more information, find her father, and assist with the sick, respectively.

When the rest of the party arrived at Whitefield, they found a horse drinking from a trough, pulling a small wagon driven by a dead man. The wagon was carrying a curious box, and the driver a letter and some red chalk. Naturally, Gabriel Button was consulted on what to do with the box, which was, as evidenced by the letter, en route to Vroden, the necroturge in the Gravewood. Mr. Button agreed that the box should be opened carefully and at a safe distance from any villagers. Inside were two allips, which presented a nasty challenge to a party with only two magic weapons (Keiran the Black Blade, and a magic fang spell cast on Faolin), but Joshua helped draw attention, Audreyn assisted in some of Vaelin's attacks, and even Gabriel Button, once his fascination was broken, got a good shot in. Felicity helped immensely by cutting the aural threat in half with her countersong. The box, proven able to hold incorporeal undead, is still in working condition.

Meanwhile, in Port Westvale, Erosia assists in many, many heal checks, and gets free training with Sir Selnos as his reward. Allen receives a new spellbook from Elmegor Vant, and Seralyn gets to meet her father for the first time. Unfortunately, due to a mistake involving Tylenol PM and a rather exhausting work week, these events have not been roleplayed properly and must wait until another free day. Absent PCs are still given credit for their contribution to the safety of the town, but will have to be compensated with money or something instead of specific boons unless requested.

Because the PCs in Port Westvale cannot leave until it is cured of all plague on Alvsday, Quartar 1, they cannot make it home to Whitefield until at least Felsday, Quartar 2, or Ividay Quartar 3 (depending on method of travel), which is when the session will end in-game. Since that marks the beginning of a new month, it also means someone gets to draw a new event card. :)

Karmic adjustments:
Allen keeps his score of 15.
+6 karma to Erosia for his personal assistance in the recovery of dozens of plague victims, brining his score to 9.
+1 karma to Felicity for keeping herself in danger with no way to defend herself against the allips in order to assist her allies, bringing her score up to 9.
+1 karma to Joshua for volunteering to help Port Westvale at the first sign of trouble, and a further +1 for bringing his score up to 3.
Seralyn keeps her score of 15.
Skyler keeps his score of 8.
+1 karma to Vaelin for negotiating for the safety of his people and honoring his agreement, bringing his score up to 10.

View
Odigan's Plans
and how they might be disrupted.

It was an old trick, but an effective one. A quick trip away, a pilfered potion of flying and a pilfered potion of invisibility and a quick trip back, just a few feet higher than before. Lothligar watched as Ignidia threw her fit, scolding the remains of her army, now disjointed, never to be under her complete control again. The best she could do was hang on to as many goblins as she could afford to pay, and that wasn't many. He held in a chuckle as she stormed off into the sky to dive-bomb some unlucky wolf or whatever, and noted her path through the sky. Then he watched what the humans did while they thought they were alone. Satisfied with his observations, he flew away in the same direction Ignidia had gone.


Ignidia, stood over the wild horse she'd pounced on, now butchered and burnt, disdain overtaking and replacing her rage. She chewed thoughtfully on a chunk of its meat as she wiped her blade clean, searching memories that didn't belong to her for answers to the situation. Her reflection was interrupted by a familiar voice.
"Shi-Domas, I bring news!" came the nasal outburst from an empty patch of sky.
"Dammit, talk to me, not to him! I'm just as much a part of this as you now!"
Let me speak. The voice rose inside her like dead fish rising to the surface of a pond. Ignidia relented. This was a struggle she'd lost before, and had lost hope for ever winning. She relaxed her muscles and let the spirit inside control her mouth, passively listening to his words.
"Greetings, Lothligar. What news do you bring for us?"
Lothligar dismissed his invisibility with a grin. "I have a better grasp on who our friends really are." He casually tossed Ignidia the Gathering Stone from his pocket, which she caught reflexively.
"Indeed? Pray tell, and while we're here, can you also tell us what happened to the Radimyr Cabal?"
"The authorities caught on, and I almost managed to turn one of them with some trinkets and blackmail, but alas, his allies are many. Evidently I missed a siege that put everyone behind walls but me. And knowing what I know of the security protocol in the event of hostile forces, someone engineered that I be left out. There are supposed to be both audio and visual cues-"
"Come to the point, pig! Where are your minions?"
"I have only the five most promising youth, who I have spent a great deal of time preparing. The half-hearts were talked out of loyalty inside the keep during the goblin siege. I heard that the half-elf seer and the mystic repairman spoke out against our cause. And that cat-woman joined them. Even the Baroness's champion chimed in. My children held for as long as they could, but they lack the skill and talent to win in a public forum. But I have other news that might interest you as well…"
"This… this is a major setback, but not crippling. What is the other news, before we work on our battle strategy?"
"Bad and worse. For the bad, the humans are going to warn Port Westvale of our attack."
"Well then I want to know whether Kemassu has completed his mission. Is the port town significantly weakened that an advanced warning will result in surrender? Have they isolated themselves and do the soldiers stand sick at their posts? Will they fight to the last man? With a reduced army, I must know that we will meet little resistance, or I must abort the invasion."
"I don't know, but I'm sure the Prince will join your camp shortly. It's not like him to be anything but punctual, and he was due to leave behind a rotten shell of a town days ago."
"Hmmf. Well, we can't attack until we know, but hopefully we could still push for a bloodless surrender with the proper show of force. Oh, before I forget, I have some bad news, too. The false prophet is back. You know the one."
"What, you mean the little shepherd? That pathetic vessel may have power, but he's never figured out how to wield it properly. He's a shell, nothing more, and the worst he can do is-"
"We have seen what he can do, and he is no mere shell!" interjected Shi-Domas, jerking Ignidia's body forward as he spoke through her. "He can undo our work if we don't let him in on the plan, and even then, he may vex us out of spite! Have you forgotten what happened in Duunvarik Canyon? Auspice Cove? Terrace! Fucking! Island?!"
"Fine, those are all very good points, but at least he's predictable. Shows up, tries to speed up one of the manifestations — helping us, more often than not — and tries to get into the palace. Pity for him he doesn't know how. In any case, we can plan contingencies for his arrival at any of our operating sites."
Hmm. Wait, before, you said bad and worse. What's the worse news?"
Lothligar turned his gaze to the distance, and, after some hesitation, spoke through a gimace. "Nerith has activated one of the Black Blades."
Ignidia followed his gaze and stood beside him, staring at the horizon. "Shit. No way around that one. Even killing the bearer will only slow it down. Hardly worth the bother at this point. Might as well just try to contain or mislead it."
"Mmm-hmm."
Shi-Domas having returned control of Ignidia's body to her, she turned to face the Sultan of Famine once more. "Do you really trust Odigan's plan? I mean, if he was such a great fortune teller, why did he die so young? You always say he had the potential to be the most powerful of all of you if he'd had more time."
"You know, I've wondered that myself," Lothligar replied, his voice distant. "and my best guess is that it was somehow part of the plan. The notes he left don't mention it either way. And by now you surely understand how thorough they were. Besides, I'm not even sure he did die."
"But you said you found a body. His body. Unmistakably his."
Lothligar said nothing in response. He turned and produced a cigar from his pocket. Ignidia stared expectantly as he clipped the end, fumbled for a tindertwig, sat on the ground, lit the end, and took a few puffs.
"Odigan is a mystery to us all, young miss. I suspect he thought of a way to come back and is just waiting to make a grand reappearance. A big spectacle to show us up and make us humble. I mean, the rest of us found a way around mortality. Hell, I found mine by accident. You'd think the Suzerain of Death, who had time to write a veritable encyclopedia on how to conquer the world in every century leading up to the year 1100 would have a personal contingency. Then again, maybe his gift didn't include his own future. Now, instead of wasting time waxing philosophical on whether we're taking orders from a dead man or a liar, let's get to the most urgent question of all."
"What's that?" she asked, taken by surprise.
Lothligar pointed to the dead horse. "Are you going to finish all of that?"
After a moment of tension, looking from the horse to each other with narrowed eyes, both of them dove at the carcass, tearing at the flesh with their teeth and noisily gorging themselves and reveling in their competitive and predatory natures. After several minutes of ceaseless consumption, only bones were left.

Ignidia rose to her feet and spread her wings. "The sun's going down. Time for me to head back to camp. How about you go find Kemassu and see what I'm up against?" The first couple of flaps to get airborne were the hardest, but she was off the ground before she finished her request.
"Agreed!" he shouted, and with a click of his heels, he was gone.

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Session 4
Trials and Travels

On Satcoday, Tertiar 16, the day after the siege, Allen and Seralyn left Whitefield for an undisclosed location in the Vastwood. On the way there, they ran across a wild boar that died giving birth to six amphisbeana, two of which fought the party and their goblin escorts. The edifice was ancient, resembling an amphitheater or fighting arena, and overgrown until recently. There, representatives of all four races in Kellored's Horde, including Burshuk, Gnark, Kellored, Negost, and Tugruk, were present for a series of short depositions. Mormuk, a hobgoblin attorney, worked on behalf of the humans' innocence and safety, and helped explain the powers in play and the nuances of goblinoid customs and law. After determining the culprit responsible for the abduction and death of Martin Fliss as well as the human trafficking of the other abductees, an orc named Cruxer, who had to be ferried in by dire bat. 

On Alvsday, Tertiar 21, the two returned to Whitefield safely. After reading her mother's letter, she contacted Allen right away, insisting that something be done immediately to rescue her mother from Ignidia's clutches. It was shortly after that she examined her mother's possessions and weapons and armor superior to her own, and a great deal of money. 

The same day, after gathering the rest of the party, Vaelin interrogated Lothligar, with some other party members present, in the hopes of convincing him to help against Ignidia and her army. After some negotiation and payments, Lothligar learned about Keiran, took back the amulet of natural armor from Vaelin, got Vaelin to agree not only to drop all charges but award him with land after the assistance was rendered, and give him back his bag of pilfering. In return, the party learned some of the history and powers of the Gathering Stone. After picking up some war gear from his extraplanar apartment, including a helm of brilliance and boots of teleportation, he used his bag of pilfering to procure enough carpets of flying to carry himself, the party, and his five fanatics. Eight hours later, they arrived at Ignidia's camp, and Lothligar entered a heated exchange with her to distract her while Felicity and Skyler stole the Gathering Stone from her person. During that time, Seralyn got to chat discreetly with Wilhelmina, who had already achieved the position of bodyguard for Ignidia. Wilhelmina is evidently not under anyone's control, but is instead attempting to work as a double agent, looking for a way to give advance notice to any settlement before Ignidia attacks it.

After a hand-off, Lothligar dismissed the effects of the Gathering Stone and teleported away with it, leaving an angry half-dragon to bark a few orders and fly away looking for something to kill. Seralyn tried to talk a few goblin officers into going home, Vaelin disappeared for a minute, and then everyone who wanted to go home approached Port Westvale with the intention of making some purchases and getting a ride home.

During his time away from the party, Vaelin was at the top of a mountain, standing in the presence of Nerith, who told him of the significance of his sword, and marked him with a glyph on his hand symbolizing his power to sever connections between Thargothras and Dol'haddur exploited by the Silver King's agents.

Karma adjustments:
+2 karma to Allen for assisting in the prevention of a war with honest testimony, bringing his score up to 15.
Erosia keeps his score of 3.
+2 karma to Felicity for attempting a skill check of unknown DC at incredible personal peril for the sake of others, bringing her score up to 8.
Seralyn +2 karma for assisting in the prevention of a war with honesty, and a further +1 karma for trying to talk goblins into leaving Ignidia's army, bringing her score to 15.
+2 karma to Skyler for assisting Felicity's check (and sharing the risk), bringing his score to 8.
+2 karma to Vaelin for accepting assistance during negotiations and taking no unnecessary risks with the lives of others, bringing his score to 9.

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A town in peril
and a last, best hope.

From the journal of Elmegor Vant, Cartologer for the Parliament of Swords, on Lastday, Tertiar 20, 930:

A pall hangs over my precious Port Westvale, darkening our hopes as an overcast darkens the waters of the sea. I speak, of course, of the plague that pools in our streets and poisons our relations with our neighbors. Quarantine has failed, due to panicking minotaurs breaking down the ramshackle walls we have placed around the docks. Luckily, their dislike for the Viridonian inland keeps them within the city walls for now. The other demographics of our populace have proven more compliant, as Carmina has spoken to the crowds of loyalty and hope, and the importance of containing and curing our affliction. Earma enforces the embargo, and has managed to construct a new landing point for incoming ships, staffed with her ratfolk allies. Unlike their namesake rodents, they are reputedly clean and free of disease due to their strict hygiene regimen. Anne, despite similar protests, has managed to keep all but the most persistent pilgrims outside the gates (and all travelers inside), and sent for help from the Cloister a few days ago. I pray they will hear our plea and are willing to risk at least one among their number to assist our healers, who are currently overwhelmed.

Sir Selnos is untouched by the disease, due no doubt to his hearty constitution and the disinfecting qualities of alcohol. Either that, or his unwillingness to receive visitors has kept him unexposed.

I, for my part, have done no small amount of inquiry among our herbalists into what else may be procured for their efforts for a cure. My sources tell me of a rare plant colloquially referred to as the Orange Lilac, and my long forays into the library have revealed it's true name, Tellovari, and where it may be found in large amounts. I regret that the only source is far outside town, and I would only be able to send someone to retrieve it from the Bloodfire Marsh under some personal peril to themselves. Since I cannot in good conscience violate the quarantine and risk exposing the whole of Viridonia to danger, I will have to wait for visitors willing to travel to the marsh, search for and retrieve the herbs if there is to be hope for a cure, and an end to the quarantine before the entire town starves, revolts, or worse…

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Session 3
Tensions rise

We begin the morning of Felsday, Tertiar 2. With fourteen days to make preparations against Lothligar's cabal and prevent the apparent sacrifice of 20 people, the party decides to act normally until the day of the meeting, when they will fake an attack against the barony, herding everyone into the keep.

Until then, there are a couple of small problems the villagers need help with.

Seralyn decides to do a favor for Madame Raleigh, delivering a misplaced package to Olafmyr Gapas the Red, reputedly the most powerful wizard in the land (outside the Mystics of Burall) and brings Vaelin and Erosia along for the journey. After planning logistics, they settle on just going directly to the tower rather than try to catch up with the courier. The wizard tells Vaelin more about rakshasas and the danger they pose. They spend the night, sheltered from the fading cold of winter. On the journey back, the party encounters a lone centaur, who introduces himself as Artimeus, who explains to Erosia that a certain hand signal is frowned upon in centaur culture.

Meanwhile, Skyler, Allen, and Felicity task themselves with the recapture of Roland the horse breeder's prize saepino horse, Cupcake. Skyler tracks the horse to Milner Lake, where the horse has stopped to rest before possibly heading into the Thirsty Hills. Calming him with offerings of red apples, Felicity negotiates with Cupcake while Allen reads his thoughts to determine his demands. A larger pen, more mates, and large amounts of apples are promised, and Cupcake agrees to return. Roland pays 10% of the horse's sale value as a service fee.

After that, Allen works on his business at the observatory, and also spends a few days studying portents in the stars to quantify the threats to the kingdom. The results are as follows:
Bleed is at rank 5, Horde is at rank 4, and Undead is at rank 4, and the undead are a lesser threat than the horde.
Part of the reason the Bleed track is so high is the impending wave of magic emanating from a minor breach, a singular event which causes a great many mundane animals in the Vastwood to conceive magical beasts and give birth within the month. Luckily, this appears to be a unique event, not a recurring issue.

Felicity rents out her laborers with the hope that her and her team's usefulness will be noticed by the villagers, which she can use to curry influence among key citizens.

Vaelin, curious to learn more about rakshasas, asks Gabriel Button permission to research the creature in his library on supernatural threats. Allen and Seralyn come along, but only Allen and Vaelin find anything useful among the tomes. Seralyn does provide good company, though. Beyond that, Vaelin tends to his business within the keep. They learn mothing of rakshasas during their time there, but they do discover some important information – the rising number of magical beast appearances is tied to corruption from Dol'haddur, and two nearby locations have the ideal conditions for a stable gate/breach to the plane. Also, Gabriel Button has numerous redundant volumes on the detection and destruction of undead and lycanthropes, and a secret room full of silvered weaponry that he begs his visitors to forget for their own protection as well as his own.

Excepting the days she spends on the road or in the library, Seralyn spends her time making money with her small business.

On the day of the intended cabal meeting, Pasaday, Tertiar 15, Vaelin instructs the watchmen that an attack is expected, but that the militia in the watchtowers spread across the barony are not to ring the bells as part of their alarm as per usual, only lighting the fires and going door-to-door shouting the alarm. While this method takes much longer, Vaelin assures the guards that the alarm must be mostly silent to avoid tipping off the invading force that their presence is known. The real reason is that Allen has gone to a great deal of trouble to block visual cues of alarm (but not audible cues) from the abandoned farmhouse that holds the cabal meetings, which Lothligar is sure to be inside, oblivious, when the alarm is raised. The ploy works, and Lothligar does not head to Zelcir Keep with the rest of the barony.

The alarm goes off a half-hour earlier than planned. Evidently, the fake attack is interrupted by a real army of goblins marching from the east, having likely followed the Ashbryne River south from the forest they live in. They surround the serf-filled keep and begin a siege, though no arrows are fired from either side of the walls, save one. Attached to the arrow is a letter demanding the surrender of the "witches" that attacked the White Hands camp, and some conversation in goblin between Seralyn and one of the officers reveals that they are to be taken to Negost's lair for trial. Seralyn stalls for time, promising that she and Allen will come with them in the morning.

Having all of the serfs and no Lothligar in the Keep, Seralyn, Allen, and Felicity form a team (later joined by Audreyn) to let everyone know how dangerous it is to fool around with dark magic right now, and three fanatical cabalists take the bait and begin a verbal duel. The stakes, unbeknownst to the fanatics, are the lives of at least twenty less fanatical cabal members. The duel is intense, as the fanatics show much determination, though the defenders of the barony win almost every exchange. Finally, the crowd is swayed by the harsh reality that the only certainty in following under the Silver King's shadow is the casualties of war. During the duel, Vaelin makes note of the identities of the fanatics for later use.

Shortly after midnight, Ignidia appears on the scene, dropping Lothligar onto the keep's outer wall and landing on it herself, glaring at the people on both sides before choosing to kill one fifth of the goblins with no meaningful resistance. She festoons a nearby tree with their corpses and places an object (later identified as the Gathering Stone) at the roots of the tree, at which point all but a few goblins march to her as if in a trance. Many humans within the keep try to make excuses to follow her as well, but are stopped. The army marches north, and disappears over the horizon. The humans who fell under her sway and failed to hide it, guards, serfs, and freemen alike, are identified and held under lock and key, to be released only when the effects have proven to wear off. Others, better at hiding their motives, return home to collect wanted gear and discreetly march north later. Among them, Seralyn discovers after she and Allen return from their trial in goblin lands, is Seralyn's mother Wilhelmina. Allen, sympathetic to her loss, begins to formulate a plan to free Wilhelmina from Ignidia's sway, hopefully using the fresh resentment between she and Lothligar as a means to that end.

Lothligar, apparently being punished for his failure, is left abandoned by Ignidia at the keep, where Vaelin takes him into Dame Zelcir's custody. 

 

Karma adjustments:
+2 karma to Allen for creating a plan to bring everyone in the barony into one place overnight, without tipping off Lothligar, and a further +2 karma for volunteering to join a verbal duel to reduce the cabal presence at the risk of making enemies, and a further +3 karma for risking his life to accompany the goblins to trial, bringing his score up to 13.
+3 karma to Erosia for seeing a need for a secular healer and working to fill that need, investing his own resources in the process, brining his score up to 3.
+2 karma to Felicity for negotiating with Cupcake rather than simply allowing his capture and reporting his desires to Roland, and a further +2 karma for assisting in the verbal duel at critical points, bringing her score up to 8.
+2 karma to Seralyn for initiating a verbal duel to reduce cabal presence at the risk of making enemies, and a further +3 for agreeing to go with the goblins for trial and negotiating a continued cease-fire through the night, bringing her score up to 12.
+2 karma to Skyler for allowing Cupcake to walk home on his own rather than be turned into a tiny statue, bringing his score up to 6.
+2 karma to Vaelin for trusting the plan to fake a siege, and a further +2 karma for arresting Lothligar without compromising his position as a mole, bringing his score up to 7.

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A rude awakening
Long live the King?

William awoke on a stone slab, surrounded by chanting people and strange geometric patterns spread out in paint. This struck him as quite unusual for three reasons. First, he did not know who any of these people were, and second, he was not accustomed to sleeping on stone slabs.
Third, he was absolutely certain he hadn't been asleep. Really. He'd been standing in line for what felt like days and hadn't had to eat, sleep, or breathe, and everyone else in line was talking, like him, about where they had lived and the last thing they remembered doing before they died. Since it was not a single-file line, he had plenty of people to speak to, all strangers. The strange, but gentle creatures tending the line took the time to explain to everyone that they were in line for the holy judgment of Ortrul, so be sent to whatever afterlife they deserved. Also, this was the first time William had all of his fingers on his right hand, and a right foot (!) that didn't hurt his leg when he walked on it.

William sat up. The chanting came to a brief crescendo and stopped. He looked down. It was his old body. The one he was happy to have left behind, but now it felt… right. There was no pain. His right hand had hooked blades where fingers hadn't been, and he was… dry, but he wasn't thirsty. As he looked around him, he imagined slitting the throats of each person, and the spray of blood hitting his face, until he saw Master. He could never kill Master. He would fight to defend Master forever and without hesitation. Deep inside, something clicked, and something else snapped.
"You're a necroturge!" It wasn't anger, but revelation that gave strength to his voice. "And I'm… a zombie?"
"You are much more than that." assured the Master. "You are more than that. You have a mind of your own and the ability to advance yourself. You are a bodyguard, a scout, a spy, an assassin…"
William was puzzled by his excitement at the prospect of murder.
"…or even something specialized, like a kidnapper, if I need you to be."
"Yes, Master."
"You will start your first duty right away."
"Yes, Master."

William had been standing at the window for fourteen hours before he realized he hadn't blinked. He felt anxious, itching for violence, a sensation that had never occurred to him in life. He imagined that somewhere was a part of him that was free, that was still in line for judgment or off in some paradise, while his body was here, but he couldn't be sure. One of the Master's apprentices approached him and made conversation the next day. William hadn't moved from the window, and he still hadn't blinked. The apprentice introduced himself as Irving, and explained that another apprentice, Corben, had been the one to dig up William's body. William was a rarity, and met certain requirements for the very special kind of undead he had been made into. Strong and graceful, silent and deadly. William did not ask many questions. His gaze never left the window. Master had told him to watch for trespassers, and that he did. Irving told him that Master's name was Vroden, and that he was the great grandson of King Aldrax, and that he planned to retake his rightful place on the throne of Viridonia. William understood, but said nothing. Whatever Master wanted was fine with him. He hoped he wouldn't be asked to kill any of his old friends, partly because he liked them, and partly because he might enjoy it, and that made him feel guilty, but he knew he could never refuse Master. 

More days passed. Then, something different happened. One of the skeleton patrols didn't return from the northern edge of the woods. The whole tower went on high alert, and Vroden's apprentices were sent out to retrieve more corpses to replace the skeletons lost. Master came to William, and told him to investigate the patrol route and find out what destroyed or detained the patrol, and, if possible, track the perpetrators and report their location. William had never tracked anything before, but he somehow knew what to do, the same way he had woken up knowing how to use swords and bows, and how to hide his presence while moving. It was a whole new life for him, one that Master promised would last for as long as he was good at his job.

William took careful note of the wolf tracks and the three sets of more human footprints in the soft earth. North. Crouching in the tall grass like the lions that lived in it, he followed the footprints. Today, he thought, would be a long, long walk, but unlike before, he wouldn't have to worry about his unreliable heart and lungs getting in his way….

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Session 2
by Ruthie

After an uneventful trip returning the civilians from the goblin camp to their farms, our heroes wait for Allen to return. He arrives swiftly with a magical book gifted from the Tracker Hive in thanks for returning their egg.  

They return to Whitefield and check in with their families. Vaelin decides to experiment with the Hedron, but even after asking Kieran, his sword, it seems only to make steam and boiling water.

After meeting up, our heroes decide to attempt to track the missing bodies, but find that the the tracks lead far to the south. With their deadline quickly approaching, they decide to split the party.

Seralyn, Skyler, and Audreyn continue South, tracking the bodies. On the way they are ambushed several times by lions, but each time Skyler is able to distract the lions with his Goblin Jerky. However, when they are attacked by a Chortler, they are not so successful and are forced to kill the beast. After taking some of its hide, they continue on.

Eventually they reach a tower that appears to be under construction and surrounded by undead. Skylar sneaks around and overhears a small meeting, but there is little information discovered. Skylar, Seralyn, and Audreyn decide to travel back the way they came, as they believe assaulting such a heavily guarded fortress would surely be suicide. Nonetheless, they make a note of the location on their map so that they can return later.

Meanwhile, back in Whitefield, Allen, Vaelin, Felicity, and Erosia begin to investigate the strange cabal that possessed the Hedron. On the day before the full moon, they sneak out to the woods where the Hedron was found and discover a seemingly abandoned cabin. After mapping out the rooms and finding a poorly made sigil of the Silver King on a tapestry, they stake out the cabin until a man wearing robes arrives and enters the cabin to begin cooking,

Hatching a plan, Allen casts phantom steed, and Vaelin chases the steed while Felicity sneaks into the stable. Having heard the commotion, the man inside "Mr. Greg" comes outside, and talks to Vaelin, who claims to have "caught" the steed. Unfortunately, Mr. Greg sees through his deception, prompting Vaelin spin another lie about needing an alibi. Mr. Greg seems to believe him and invites him to attend the cabal meeting the following night.

The next night, Vaelin attends the meeting as instructed, with Allen, Felicity, and Erosia staking out the location as previously decided on. When Vaelin goes to the meeting spot with two silver pieces and a snack, he meets two acquaintances, Bridget Ailemer and Henry Barker, who give him a silver mask and  black robes and is taken back to the farm house.

Inside, Mr. Greg collects the silver and half of everyone's snacks. saying "Silver for the Silver King. Sustenance for his swift return." After a short amount of mingling, Mr. Greg invites Vaelin and two others back to the back room where he offers to take them on a "vision quest."

First he casts sleep on them, but Vaelin resists the sleep spell. Mr. Greg pours some liquid begins to inquire about the Hedron. He offers to trade Vaelin an item of his choosing for the Hedron, and eventually offers a +3 Amulet of Natural Armor. The offer is hard for Vaelin to resist, and refusing may break his cover, so he agrees, and trades the Hedron (which Mr. Greg knew he had on him) for the amulet. Mr. Greg then tells Vaelin to invite Felicity (who had been sneaking around in the stables) in to share in the snacks.

After he does and the two head inside, Mr. Greg waits outside a little longer when a red-winged figure clad in plate armor comes into view. She lands and he greets her as Ignidia. She calls him Lothligar and asks if the sacrifices are ready yet. He says that he doesn't have enough yet and that she should wait another week. She is frustrated and threatens him, but eventually agrees to his terms and flies off.

Upon hearing the name Lothligar, Allen immediately recognizes the name as belonging to one of the Silver King's disciples (one presumed dead), the Sultan of Famine.

After that, the Cabal meeting wraps up, and Mr. Greg — Lothligar — says goodbye to Vaelin, placing a hand on his shoulder. When Vaelin arrives home he realizes that Lothligar's hand was backwards, and, upon telling Allen, discovers that this is a sure sign that he is a Rakshasa. 

When the party meets back up, they share information and decide that they have to keep the townspeople from the cabal during the next full moon. They decide that they will fake an alarm and keep everyone safe inside the keep where they will attempt to dissuade them from further cabal activities.

 

Karma adjustments:
+1 karma to Allen for assisting Vaelin's lies against Lothligar (and protecting him by doing so), bringing his score up to 6.
Erosia keeps his score of 0.
+1 karma to Felicity for volunteering to expose herself to danger by being the first to spy on Lothligar, bringing her score up to 4.
Seralyn keeps her score of 7.
+3 karma to Skyler for using class abilities to avoid wanton killing of local wildlife, bringing his score up to 4.
+3 karma to Vaelin for placing himself at the mercy of an enemy and risking his reputation, but-2 karma to Vaelin for accepting a bribe to give away the party's bargaining chip with Lothligar, bringing his score  to 3.

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A meeting of chiefs
...and a call to arms

Chief Tugruk Bonearm, leader of the Spider Faces, subjugator of the White Hands, the Stonedrakes, and the Wolf Racers, chief by his own hand in the most sacred traditions of the Goblin Way (mostly murder), slayer of bears and wolves alike, builder of the most secure fort that goblins labor could make, the Spiders' Nest, owner of an almost unrivaled collection of well-sharpened knives, guarded at all times by his tribe's strongest, fastest, and most loyal warriors, was scared out of his damn mind. 

Gnark had returned from the White Hand encampment, leading a mere handful of wounded archers. Blipglick was dead. The spiders were dead. There would be no riding spiders in time to meet Negost's demands. And it was infamously unhealthy to disappoint her. Tugruk had heard rumors that she could peel off all your skin with three spoken words. That she could turn your bones into jelly or fill your mouth with ants, or enchant your toenails to tear themselves free and attack you in your sleep. And the worst rumor, the one driving him to the brink, was that she was arriving tomorrow for inspection and a progress report. 

There was nothing else for it. He'd have to tell her what Gnark had told him. The humans, and the elf-witch, and the wolf, and the catfolk. He had one night to come up with a convenient story that absolved him of blame, and then an elaborate plan for revenge, and make it sound so good that Negost would let him live with his toenails attached. Grabbing a stack of paper and some quills, Tugruk began to write. 

"Oh, mighty Queen of goblin-kind, the horrors I must tell you. I promise, by the end of this tale, you, too, will agree that our best course of action is swift preparations for tenfold vengeance against the human sof the south. Under the bright sun, the army of Viridonians marched on us unprovoked…."

 

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