Until Thy Kingdom Come

The Oraculum Scholastica, Part 2
Knallhart defeats the Speaker and his minions

Session Date: February 14, 2014
Game Date: Sarenith 13, 4712 AR

Armed with the knowledge extracted from Arema’s corpse, Knallhart heads towards the sewers. They find a copper yett barring their path and Sayaka takes a swing at it with her adamantine falcata. A tremendous shock sends her flying backwards. Though her mighty blade cut a large furrow in the yett’s cross bar, it remains standing. Ilya punches the yett and, though he damages it further, he also suffers a serious shock and the barricade remains. Finally, Szygy launches himself at the barrier, sending it flying off its hinges to lie sizzling and smoking in the sewer water covering the floor of the passage.

Knallhart continues past the destroyed yett and comes to an iron door barring further passage. Careful inspection reveals the hinges are attached to some mechanism built into the wall. Malgos cuts into the door’s frame with his adamantine nodachi and severs the mechanisms attached to the door.

The party continues on through a u-shaped passage. A door in an adjacent room leaks water into this passage. Ilya steps on a hidden and the door in the adjoining room springs open with a torrent of sewer water behind it. A door slams shut further down the passage. The door and mechanism which had been earlier disabled emits a horrible screeching noise but it remains open. Lodrin is knocked down by the tidal wave of sewage, offal and rat corpses, swallowing some of the mixture in the process. The rest of the party stays on their feat and moves quickly through the passage, only to find the way blocked by an iron door. Adamantine weapons make short work of this obstacle. Still, it is clear the passage would have flooded if the party had not disabled the other door.

Traveling on, the party comes into the main sewer tunnel. Aspen in the Fall turns into a bat and scouts the surrounding tunnels. He finds the secret door described by Arema’s corpse as well as a room filled with ghouls feasting on beggar corpses. The party decides to ignore this relatively minor threat and continue directly towards their goal.

The secret door reveals a passageway cut into the bedrock under the city. Faded stone mosaics with strange religious symbols cover the walls. Going down the rough hewn stairs, Knallhart discovers rooms used for the preparation of corpses as well as a statue of Choral the Conqueror. While the statue is more than 100 years old, it is far more recent than the rest of the area’s features.

The party spots a skeletal figure watching them from an open door way. The creature’s abdominal cavity is filled with rotting viscera that snakes along its spine and protrudes from its mouth in a twisted parody of a long tongue. Ilya somersaults over the creature, finding himself in a short hallway with four open doors. Ham charges the skeletal figure, holy fire tracing his lance, and obliterates it with one hit. Three more spring from the nearby tombs, surrounding Ilya. Ilya is paralyzed but becomes gaseous to prevent the creatures from taking advantage of his helpless state.

As the party focuses its efforts on these foes, Saalus checks a nearby hallway and sees a terrifying image—an undead creature nearly 8 feet tall, floating above the ground and with a fetus buried in its rib cage. The creature follows Saalus and touches him, filling him with negative energy. Saalus drops, unconscious, but miraculously survives the attack.

Attacked on two fronts, Knallhart fights back fiercely and is eventually victorious.

The tombs, statue room and dark chapel hold no other mysteries. However, along a hallway, the party finds a secret door. Abyssal amber coats the back wall of the room on the other side of this door. Several red oblong shapes rest in the amber. The party identifies them as sphexica eggs and Ilya proceeds to shatter them.

Shortly after this, the party comes to a huge cavern supported by stone columns. A fraying rope bridge connects the north ledge, where the party emerges, to the south ledge, where a bloody corpse rests on a stone table surrounded by candles. Water fills the bottom of this cavern. Bones float on the surface of the water, hiding its depth. Sayaka, benefiting from see invisibility_ spots a elderly man floating invisible above the bridge. This is clearly Zheik Isatas, headmaster of the Oraculum. She also spots an etheral spider-form on the far south side of the cavern. As the fight starts, the ethereal form scuttles off to the west.

Astoroth targets Zheik with glitterdust, revealing him to the entire party. Zheik dispels the glitterdust and flies forward, though he is still visible to Sayaka. Syzygy spouts wings and attacks the wizard. Meanwhile, two gargantuan worms swim forward in the water and burrow into the northern ledge. The worms have metal attachments to their tails that seem designed to deliver poison with a sting.

Lodrin dispels Zheik’s invisibility and the wizard is dropped shortly thereafter. Malgos, Ilya, Ham and Hyandaner take on the skeletal worms as two wraiths rise from the ground, draining vitality from Astoroth and nearly killing him in the process. While possessing a vicious bite and sting, the skeletal worms fall quickly and the party turns its attention towards the wraiths. Astoroth goes invisible but the wraiths pursue him regardless. Bent on destroying the Autarch of Arcadia, the wraiths’ focus proves their undoing as the party springs to Astoroth’s aid.

The wraiths are destroyed but Astoroth is still near death’s door, his vitality nearly sapped. Taking Lodrin with him, Astoroth uses dimension door to reach the surface. Once there, Astoroth and Lodrin run to the Temple of Abadar. One of the Abadarians has restoration preapred, which returns Astoroth’s life force. Astoroth and Lodrin then return to the party, taking advantage of the dwarf’s uncanny understanding of underground geometry to reach their destination safely.

Still in bat form, Aspen in the Fall uses mending on the bridge, making it safe for the party to cross. When they reach the southern ledge, the party realizes there are east and west branches to the cavern. An iron door sits on the south wall of the southern ledge. Bashing this door down, the party finds horrific experiments involving living creatures connected to various mechanical devices. Necromantic energies keep these unfortunate victims alive despite their horrific injuries. Shelves line the walls of this room filled with books. A number of these books form a valuable treatise on the art of necromancy. After taking Zheik’s remaining spell books from these shelves, and verifying that the Essarium is not among the shelved books, Knallhart torches the room and frees Zheik’s victims from their suffering in the purifying fire.

Unsure of where to go next, Lodrin casts locate object and determines the Essarium lies along the west branch of the cavern. Aspen in the Fall verifies there is a ledge along this branch of the cavern after it turns to the north. Szygy carries the PCs who cannot fly to this ledge.

An iron door is set into the north wall of this ledge. Ham detects several overwhelming evil auras beyond the door. The party also detects a magic aura on the other side. Lodrin, still using locate object, knows the Essarium rests beyond this door. After cutting through the door with their adamantine weapons, the party sees nothing but gray fog. The voice of the Speaker echoes in their heads, taunting them with promises of their imminent deaths.

The party charges into the room, which becomes visible once crossing the threshold. The room is decorated with red tapestries and strange artwork. A statue of a marilith rests in an alcove on the west side of the room and a statue of an umberhulk rests in an alcove on the east side. The Speaker, a huge nalfeshnee demon waits at a dais on the north end of the room. A hezrou demon and a vrock stand between him and the party. A sphexicon hides behind the Speaker. A dark shadow extends from the Speaker, coating the three other demons in a black film.

The party rushes into attack. Hyandaner moves in and casts dispel magic, managing to drop the unholy aura that surrounds the Speaker. Ham charges forward but stops as he travels too close to the umberhulk statue. Heproceeds to beat himself in the face with his lance. The vrock screeches, stunning Ilya and Malgos (?) though fortunately most of the party is out of range.

Other party members move in and the sphexicon casts a wall of fire that cuts through the party. Saalus dispels the wall of fire, Lodrin dispels the confusion inflicting Ham and Astoroth locks the Speaker down with dimensional anchor. Szygy flies in and pounces the Speaker, spattering the ceiling with the demon’s ichor. Then the hezrou speaks a single word, which is of such blasphemous power that it roils reality itself. Several of the party members are dazed and paralyzed. Others are just dazed. The lantern archons summoned by Astoroth are killed outright.

Hyandaner flies in and delivers a terrible blow to the Speaker. However, the demon responds with a spell that causes blood vessels to burst in Hyandaner’s skull, destroying his intellect. The hezrou grabs Malgos, causing the fighter to wretch uncontrollably. It then does the same thing to Hyandaner. Things began to look grim.

Teleporting right at the feet of the cruel demonic overlord, Sayaka raises her blade, both hands clenching her sword as it flashes down, crackling with a sapphire aura of annihilation. The power of Nethys floes through her arms balancing out the nauseous stench emanating from the hezrou. With heightened speed, she slashes down. The blade severs the huge porcine head from the demon’s massive shoulders. She steps back, watching the head fall to the ground as the beast crumples in a spray of black ichor.

Ilya furiously pounds the hezrou, his fasts blazing with holy light. Saalus then peppers the thing with demon bane arrows. It utters a cry of agony and then dies. Rather than face certain destruction, the vrock and sphexicon teleport away.

Knallhart recovers from the evil spells cast upon them before exploring a vault hidden at the north end of the room. There, they find the tomb of Choral the Conqueror, a tomb which lies empty. In addition to valuable treasure, they also find the Essarium.

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The Oraculum Scholastica, Part 1
Knallhart assaults a school of demon worshippers

Session Date: January 31, 2014
Starting Game Date: Sarenith 12, 4712 AR

Nym’s latest correspondence arrives, describing the horrors he has witnesses while spying on the Oraculum. Knallhart decides they can wait no longer to confront this demon-led organization. They begin final preparations and, while doing so, Aspen senses someone is attempting to watch him from afar. While there is no telling how long they’ve been watched, Knallhart hopes their lead-lined command center has concealed most of their plans.

That night, Knallhart rides hippogriffs to Restov. Arriving several hours past midnight, they travel first to the Temple of Abadar. They wake the clergy there and are able to convince them of the threat the Oraculum poses to Rostland and beyond. The head priest expresses regret he has not done more to stop this evil organization. To assist them in their quest, the Temple provides Knallhart with several scrolls.

Before Knallhart leaves the church, a small figure steps from behind a pew. His name is Ham Buttersides and he explains he has watched the Oraculum for some time, having suspected them of foul deeds but without the evidence necessary to justify an assault. He asks to join Knallhart in their mission and they readily accept the plucky gnome along with his heavily armored war pig, Thud.

The party approaches the Profunda Oculum, the headquarters of the Oraculum Scholastica, under cover of darkness. Once there, Ilya assumes gaseous form and stealthily floats about the place. He discerns four guards who guard the gate leading into the outer courtyard and four guards who watch the door into the Profunda Oculum. There also appear to be guards patrolling the halls within.

Ilya remains inside in gaseous form while the party coordinates an attack from without. Astoroth uses dimension door to transport himself, Malgos and Szygy into the antechamber where the inner guards wait. At the same time, Ralga floats several members to the top of the wall surrounding the courtyard. Tony the Tiger, Hyandaner, Lodrin, Sayaka, Ralga, Aspen in the Fall and Ham attack the guards without, while Astoroth, Malgos, Ilya and Szygy make short work of the guards within.

Moving silently through the compound, Knallhart and Friends come to Nym’s dormitory room. Nym is barely holding together but is relieved to hear his mission is soon over. He shows Knallhart the hidden door to the Profunda Occulum’s basement and then flees the compound, made invisible by vanish.

Knallhart uses the prayer-password and heads down below. At the bottom of the stairs, four grizzled mercenaries guard the lower section of the compound. Knallhart charges in and finds these hardened veterans more of a challenge then the inexperienced sell-swords above. Further, as the last one falls, a cry of battle is raised in a nearby room and eight more mercenaries charge into the room, wearing nothing but their nightclothes for armor. Predictably, all of the mercenaries are killed.

Knallhart moves on through several rooms, finding and killing more guards. They come to the T-section that connects to the sewers and Ham detects an overwhelming evil through the door leading into the Celestium. The PCs burst in and find two students munching on books. Knowing these students are hosts for sphexica demons, the party attacks. As the students are struck, their human forms split apart revealing gigantic wasps with a cluster of human eyes in place of a the usual, insectoid arrangement. One sphexicon is killed, dissolving into reeking goo. The other teleports away.

Moving further in, Knallhart comes into a room with a half-dozen cultists. Though somewhat prepared from the sounds of a fight in the other room, the cultists fall quickly before the sudden assault.

The PCs delve further in and come to a gigantic temple. A statute of an anthropomorphic snake radiates an evil aura out into the room. At an altar on one end, Arema, the spiritual leader of the Oraculum, engages a half-dozen more cultists in a religious ceremony. She greets Knallhart as if she has expected them the entire time, but Saalus sees through her ruse.

The PCs move into the temple and Hyandaner readies a dispel magic to disrupt Arema’s first spell. She casts and Hyandander responds with dispel magic, which is immediately countered by one of Arema’s magical rings. Blades of immense force spring into being, tracing a path through the PCs. Meanwhile, the cultists spring forward with spells prepared for the party’s vanguard. Tony the Tiger kills all three who move up to him.

The PCs move towards Arema and Ilya attempts to jump the 20 ft. high blade barrier, failing and taking massive damage. Astoroth drops a fireball onto the cultists. Finally Sayaka moves in and cuts Arema down with a massive stroke of her falcata. Though Arema and the cultits lie dead, Knallhart’s troubles are far from over.

Three vrocks descend from the temple balcony, benefiting from mirror image and other magic spells. One vrock falls to the ground from Hyandaner’s slumber hex. Szygy attacks another vrock while flying but falls himself when the vrocks use their stunning screech ability. One of the vocks finally goes down and Astoroth locks the other down with dimensional anchor. Unable to teleport away, the remaining vrock fights to its death. The third vrock remains sleeping until Sayaka finishes it with a carefully timed coup de grace.

Knallhart explores the rest of the Profunda Occulum’s basement but does not find an obvious route into another level of the temple. They free a prisoner who had investigated the Oraculum after the disappearance of her brother. They also come across Zheik Isata’s chamber and find a horrific display of vivisected animals kept alive by necromantic energy. Unfortunately, Zheik is warned of the party’s approach by his servitor wraiths and escapes via teleport. The wraiths also escape, moving within the walls.

Ilya opens the chest in Zheik’s room after convincing the party to move into the hall. He is nearly compelled to drink a goblet filled with lich dust kept nearby but resists the mental lure. The chest contains some coins and valuable books but no clear as to the Speaker’s location. The party also finds Arema’s chamber. Ilya is nearly slain by another trap but he resists the worst of the necromantic magic that traps her door. Though Arema’s room contains several elemental gems there is no clue as to the Speaker’s location.

Frustrated, the party finally investigates Arema’s corpse. Calling on the spirit of her ancestors, Ralga calls out to the evil cleric’s soul. Doing so, Knalhart learns the Speaker can be found in the ruins below, that the ruins are accessible through the sewer, that the entrance can be found past the u-shaped corridor and, finally, that the Speaker is a Nalfeshnee demon.

Exhausted, Knallhart presses on to confront enemies they know are waiting for them.

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Autarch's Journal (Foundation Day)

It began with the invocation at the steps of Knallhart manor, and the Hunt began, opening up the festivities of the holiday weekend everyone has been eagerly anticipating for months. Aspen decided to ensure everyone hunted humanely and according to the rules, while Tad tracked down some deer to put on the dinner table. Sayaka decided to enter the contest at the last minute. There’s a rangy old dwarf hunter who claims that he will be the one to take down a white stag that has been rumored to be in the area, winning the hunting contest.

Sayaka and Aspen come upon the white stag, but before anything else can happen a gigantic wolf emerges from the brush, savagely biting the blue-haired inquisitor with its foaming mouth. Luckily, Aspen was on hand and Held the insane beast, and a disgusted Sayaka asked and recieved permission to lop off its enormous head. The stag had bolted; the inquisitor had taken a shot after the wolf had been held, but missed badly and never recovered that particular arrow, much to her chagrin.

Carrying back the wolf, the dwarf saw them and was stunned, saying he couldn’t top that kill. Sayaka explained that it wasn’t really part of the competition; Aspen had held it, and it wasn’t something we’d eat anyway. Stubbornly, she turned back into the forest, searching for something even more elusive than the white stag, who the dwarf eventually shot and killed.

Smiling, she returned carring a large, ghostly white boar, shrugging her shoulders and winning the contest for most amazing animal killed. A fact she mentions approximately four times an hour for the rest of the festival.

And that’s such a small part of what occurred. We’d established that the imprisoned provocateur was an agent of Pitax, and threw him into the oubliette for a night, Saalus rescuing him by placing him in a more regular cell, hoping to get him to change allegiance. I remain doubtful, the man convinced that he had powerful friends, trying to trick Saalus into a “story contest” to escape his sentence. If we could convince him that his old masters now wanted him dead…

The guests began arriving: Mayor Ioseph Sellemius of Restov, disguised as a servant of his envoy, Garrick Dolomi. We play along, but I let Ioseph know I know, even if I only know because Saalus told me. Maegar Varn, who looks to have aged, the pressures of command heavy on his shoulders. He’s worried about that dicey ranger he’d been accompanied by, and doesn’t seem to enjoy ruling. Finally, Mayor Raston Selline of Mivon, the nation to our south. All three are Sword Lords.

We’re throwing down some gold to entertain them, but we want to make sure they leave with a good impression. During this already lavish festival, we’ll spare no expense on their entertainment. Pretty much, anyway.

That night, as we began the Armor Breaking Ceremony, my wonderful Puella Magi on patrol noticed a cluster of evil beings approaching. Even though this advanced warning didn’t result in, say, a surprise round or anything, it was good to know. They were Gonorrhea worshippers, and the lead witch Desecrated the place Ilya does the smashing, making the armor instantly reform into the death knight!

The citizens wisely fled, and the Autarch wisely dropped behind the platform as Syzygy and Ilya confronted the undead knight, who’d summoned his horse back. Syzygy’s talons failed to find much purchase, Ilyas punches fared better, and Hyandaner dispelled the desecrate. Syzygy and Hyandander get to the leader witch, who has 5 cleric minions with her, and take her down, disrupting spells at critical times with Saalus’s help and Human bane arrows.

Syzygy is cursed by a cleric’s touch after killing another one or two, abruptly frozen in time for periods of seconds, completely immobile. The death knight heads back toward the clerics, who approach and heal him. Astoroth unsummons Syzygy, summoning a Hound Archon instead, which charges ineffectually. Hyandaner avoids being touched by Stupidity, and it is Tony the tiger that brings down the death knight, who’s armor is again torn to shreds and locked up in seperate boxes. Aspen puts forth the idea of destroying it in the dwarven forge fortress.

You’d think that would have been enough trouble, but a guard runs up a little while later telling us a group of barbarians have taken over an inn and hurt a bunch of people. We get there, and it’s barricaded and people are bleeding. Saalus performs some acts of benevolent kindness, and I give the people inside a chance to surrender. A guy opens a window, displaying his genitals to us, and i barely stop from shooting as Ilya non-lethally stunning blows the man (!). Ilya performed a stunning blow on the barbarian by touching his genitalia.

Anyway, Syzygy busted down the doors and poof Fairy dust blinded a bunch and some dropped and they surrendered. We led them off, alive and bound, headed to the jail to face sentencing-hard labor in the labor mines. Astoroth grudgingly concedes Aspen’s desire for a non-lethal solution was clearly appropriate.

That Inn is now called the Broken Barbarian. It will have one of their weapons hanging over the door, or just some old broken weapon, and a picture of a group of barbarians kneeling subserviently to Knallhart.

That’s about the time Sayaka returned carrying the massive boar on her shoulders, only to have to listen to the Autarch inform her of not one but TWO violent occurrences that had occured while she had been out enjoying herself hunting. Astoroth continues for a few minutes before acknowledging he’s just kidding around, the help from the Puella Magi patrols was, if not invaluable, at least valuable. But still, hunting? really?

This next part, I think, happened the following day, Saturday.

Saalus recognized a certain nobleman standing in the crowd. Again he whispered the crucial information in my ear, and I approached one Landar Lebeda, a member of an Issian royal family, and the scion (heir) of that family, no less! He appeared embarrassed or perhaps worried, but I tried to soothe his fears and convinced him to participate in a manner befitting his station, as an honored guest. This was only an option because we knew his family was, 1, a possible rival to the Surotova family for the Issain throne, and 2, they were the least dickish and most “rostlandic”, or closer to the southern folk we’re allied with. He was invited to attend the dinner at Knallhart Manor later that evening.

Middle of the day, Autarch gives the state of Arcadia speech, with wild success. Nazi-like fervor sweeps through the citizenry, but this time harnessed for good through the power of friendship! Some women swoon listening to his dulcet tones.

Saalus talked with the mayor of Restov, the disguised Ioseph Sellemius, in private. During this period, extensive use was made of the lead-encased rooms in Knallhart manor, both the Command Room upstairs and the Vault in the basement. If only Dralt hadn’t been compromised, we wouldn’t have had to kill- well, we’ll get to that part soon enough. The vault held all the dangerous objects and valuable treasure. Anyway, possibly inside one of those very rooms, Ioseph warned that Issia was looking to take over Restov, supplanting him as Mayor, and were looking at us with worried eyes. Something to think about.

The feast is fabulous, with the meat brought back by the hunters cooked up by Aspen with the aid of the Autarch’s chefs. During the celebration, Garrick Dolomi, the envoy and outward “representative of Restov” (Ioseph is in disguise), recognizes the Issian I’d invited. “What is that filth doing here?” is something like what he yelled, pushing up from the table and overturning a bowl of delicious stew in the process. Unseen in the chaos, the Autarch had to have Syzygy gently lay a talon on the Queen’s shoulder to keep her from reacting to this blatant waste of food, while he stood up, and the room seemed to hold its breath.

“This festival is a celebration,” he began, and proceeded to explain about Arcadian principles, being an open and accepting society, everyone at this table was both my personal guest and the guest of Knallhart, and essentially everyone should be respectful of one another under my roof. It worked. There were grudging comments, “At least of all the shit-eating Issians, you’re the least biggest dicks,” was the effect of Garrick’s comment, returned by the Issian.

Again (i think) it was Saalus who noticed something crucial; that Raston Selline, the Mivon mayor, looked like he wanted to do the Issian harm, despite what had just been said. Astoroth took this as an opportunity to ask the Sword Lord with a reputation for… eccentricity, to speak privately. Heading into the command room, the Autarch awkwardly tried to find his footing in the conversation, but Raston made a comment about how the Issian would have been “Fed to the eels” or some kind of euphemism for killing someone. It was a great foothold into a long discussion of tactics. Essentially, the need for time so that we can build up our armies, and prepare for war against a numerically strong nation. I implored him not to poison or assassinate anyone until that day in the nebulous future (probably two years from now) when we’ll say OPERATION INFINITE JUSTICE or HAMMER OF GOD, whatever, and launch the agreed-upon assault. He was surprisingly rational, and made me feel confident in his ability as an asset in the upcoming struggle.

Meanwhile, Saalus is talking to the Issian, Landar Lebeda, and figures out that he’s not really spying or anything, but just wants to have a good time.

Towards the end of dinner, a Syzygyian Knight approaches, informing us of a strange occurrence in the Bardic College. When we hear Dralt’s name, we move, leaving the room abuzz with our sudden heroic departure. We found Dralt, trying to walk back to the manor and mumbling about “getting the book,” obviously dominated. We returned him to the manor, then set out again. Hasted, we ran the two blocks until we got inside, finding, if i recall, some dead guards, the first casualties of the festival.

We’d been told about a girl and a guy or two, rather vague. Saalus disguised himself as Dralt, pretending to return, whlle hiding the rest of us in a bubble of invisibility. He got us inside, sneaking past the things in the room… and the things were demons!

A succubus, and two vrock, large, vulture-faced, winged monters. What followed was a desperate, lengthy battle where I’m pretty sure everyone thought, at one point, I’m glad we’re not playing our cohorts. The ambush is sprung, and everyone attacks while a Hound archon is summoned in lieu of Syzygy, protecting us with its aura of good. It rushes in, getting nailed by a Vrock right off the bat. Ilya is punching and grappling the Succubus, who is sleeped by Hyandaner until a Vrock kicks it. Succubus-grappler. That’s a sweet title. That’s right up there with “Dragon-Slayer/Stunner”.

Tony is raking and a newly summoned Syzygy is clawing, both less the optimally effective against the supernatural entities. Succubus tries to teleport, but Syzygy lashes out and interrupts her, and Ilya grapples her and she’s out of it for a while, eventually slain. One of the other Vrock is slain after a long battle following, and despite Sysygy’s best attempt, the last Vrock concentrates hard enough to teleport itself the hell out of there.

We surmise they were part of the Oraculum.

Astoroth has Ioseph, mayor of Restov, sent for, so that he can see the remnants of the demons. He acknowledges the Oraculum is a problem, and gives us permission to deal with it, although he says if we’re caught and fail to destroy them he won’t be able to help us. So, yeah.

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Summoner's Log III

First, we found the kobolds pretty much destroyed, apparently by the trolls. Only their eggs remain. Aspen followed the trail southwest, but lost it in the snow. However, at the stag lord’s fort, we came across other footprints, and found an evil sacrifice within, belonging to some goddess ghonnerea or something. We followed their trail, which led to lumber camps and small towns, on the way back to our city.

We deduced that they were up to no good, both by the gruesome evidence they led behind, as well as gathering information from the places they visited. We finally caught up to them just a little outside Calliso, where they were dining with a farming family, completely unaware of the fate that was about to befall them.

Suddenly, most of the people in the room were dazzled by a burst of glittering dust, and adding to the confusion no sound could be heard from within the house. The evil priestess who apparently led this band of 6 other women dedicated to the dark cause must have been surprised. Within seconds, a monsterous creature had burst through the doorway, it’s scything claws reaching out at her while the monk ran in and started knocking heads, a gigantic bear appeared in a window and pulled a lady through… they tried to flee, but found the exits blocked by the bear, monk and magus. Capturing one, we used Ralga’s name in a ruse to learn more information, and then meted out our infinite justice. We took their heads, explained the situation to the farmers (having saved the family from a horrible fate, undoubtedly), and paraded the trophies through the areas the women had visited, trying to sew the seeds of discontent and rebellion.

I think our argument proved stronger.

We’d had to hook northwards to catch up to the ladies, so we started heading back down towards where we believed the trolls to be living. On the way, we passed through the location of the druid brother of Bokken. We were almost ambushed by four owlbears, but our perceptive party was able to see the trap, and we made short work of them.

Birds had begun to fly away, and we were suspicious. Following, we came to a clearing. Again, amazing awareness made us aware of a strange cloud floating far away in the sky, and Aspen warned of a creature sneaking up through the brush. The sparkling dust outlining the druid’s cat, Syzygy pounced and shredded the poor creature. Taking off with his magically-induced wings, he joined Hyandaner and Aspen, who’d transformed into an air elemental, countering the form of the druid who refused to come within 500 feet of us.

At extreme range, Saalus nailed the druid with an arrow, and Syzygy swooped down from above, the druid falling to the earth in a spray of gore. Then it rained magic items for a bit, mostly wands. Also, we got a treasure map.

Pleased with ourselves, we continued on toward the troll location. Along the way, we came across a group of gnomes, struggling to get their wagon out of a crack in the frozen river. Aspen eventually calmed their horses, and some rope-work by the monk ensured we were able to retrieve the wagon. There were several dead gnomes and a burnt troll corpse, I gave the wounded gnomes healing potions, and we learned a lot about the surrounding area from them.

Parting ways, we went to an old dwarven fort, where the trolls were said to lair, according to our new gnome friends. We hatched a bold plan, and with much foresight and skillful use of magic, we made it to the door of the fort without being noticed. Inside, we unleashed hell upon the trolls, felling 5 of the brutes and four of their foul dogs, knocking them unconscious and slowly burning them with acid and fire, except when Mortimer got flamey and smited them good.

We weren’t done; there’d been no sign of a troll reported to have two heads, who we thought might have been the leader. Exploring the caves underneath, we found we were wrong; two more trolls, the two-headed mutant troll, and a rock-skinned rock troll (yep) were in a chamber with a troll king, of all things! It had a huge glowing mace, and a necklace of fireballs, which it proceeded to hurl into the group as we came around a corner.

Luckily, Syzygy had already charged and, invisible, I made sure nobody snuck up on us behind, from a safe distance. The fireball hurt, bad, but undaunted we charged right in. Ilya was unscathed from the magical attack, and managed to disarm the leader, slipping the mace in his haversack. Syzygy and Tony raked and slashed the trolls and the two-headed troll to death, Hyandaner put several to sleep, most importantly the rock troll, and we once again ended up burning bodies of unconscious regenerating trolls.

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Taming the Stolen Lands

Starting Game Date: Lamashan 15, 4711 AR
Session Dates: August 18 and September 8, 2013

Reports of cattle mutilations and disappearances draw Knallhart to the farm communities on the western edge of Arcadia. There, they discover evidence werewolves attacked the cattle. Following leads from the local garrison, the party heads to a farm that appears abandoned. Inside the barn, bodies hang from rafter, their insides torn out. Szygy sneaks up and determines werewolves are waiting within. Saalus comes up to a crack in the barn and shouts a blistering invective inside. Several werewolves start on fire and the party attacks.

One of them, a female werewolf with black fur, drops outside into a flanking position but is killed. Another one with a battle axe and screaming in rage encourages his “brothers” to avenge the deaths of their kin before he too is killed. The others fight on doggedly but Knalhart is victorious.

Using her ability to speak with the dead, Ralga determines the werewolves hailed from Old Iobaria. It sounds as if there is no more to their pack.

The party returns to Callistro in time for the harvest. The story of the werewolves’ defeat races through town and lifts spirits. Also, the trade route with Restov proves particularly profitable that month.

After resting in town, the party returns to the wilderness in early Nesh, hoping to explore more of the Stolen Lands before the snow falls. They head in the direction of Khundakar, mapping as they go. As they explore the southeast region of the Narlmarches, they come across a wounded thylacine in a sinkhole. Aspen in the Fall calms it and heals it before it is lifted to safety.

Exploring the sinkhole, the party realizes it was caused by an underground tunnel that had collapsed. Finding one end of the tunnel, they explore deeper, eventually finding the ruins of an ancient Aztlani crypt. The party sets off a trap by using mage hand on a skeleton in the middle of a room wearing a magical copper ring. Several skeletons emerge from the gas and Ilya charges into their midst. Szygy forms the front rank of the party and they drop the undead guardians as the gas clears.

This reveals another skeletal warrior, this one glowing with shadowy blue flame. In a gravelly voice, he says he guards against the corrupting taint that infects the Stolen Lands, though he seems to consider Knallhart as part of that corruption. He attacks but is destroyed before he hits anyone with his powerfully enchanted blade.

Headingn south into the Narlmarches, the party comes across a dispute between a group of loggers led by a man named Corax and a nixie named Melianse. The loggers have removed some trees on the edge of the nixie’s pond and, in retaliation, the nixie charmed two of the loggers. Aspen is furious at the loggers’ callous treatment of nature but Knallhart promises to help them if they head to Callisto and continue their logging under permit. Melianse at first refuses to release the charmed loggers until her trees are restored. Astoroth promises to aid her, however, and she releases her victims based on his promises.

The loggers head to Callisto as the party goes west to speak to a druid who supposedly has tree feather tokens. There, the party notices they are watched by a satyr. Though he runs from the party, they are able to convince him they mean no harm. He says his name is Falchos and that he protects a dryad named Tiressia. He introduces the party to Tiressia who has obviously suffered some wounds from a recent battle.

She and Falchos explain there is an evil tree to the southeast that feasts on the flesh of dryads, also known as a scythe tree. The party heads that direction immediately. While passing through a clearing, an evil tree springs out attacking the horses first. The party surrounds it and Hyandaner eventually splits it apart with a mighty blow from Mortimer. Tiressia is overjoyed to hear the tree has been destroyed. She gives the feather tokens to the party who uses them to plant trees at Melianse’s pool. In turn, Melianse rewards them with a wand of grease and a ring of protection +1.

Having aided the fey, the party turns northwards. First, it follows the Skunk river into tazylwyrm territory. Aided by his magical lens, Aspen spots the taxylwryms waiting in ambush. Szygy sneaks around while the party prepares. At the chosen time, Knallhart attacks and, as usual, their foes fall before them. Though one tazylwyrm manages to grab Hyandaner while he is flying overhead, the party is otherwise unhurt. Looting the treasure gained by the tazylwyrms, the PCs find a map of the northern section of the Narlmarches.

Continuing their path north, Knallhart finds a large statue of Erastil. They clean the statue and Saalus writes a short prayer which Astoroth offers with sincerity. They party finds their slashing and piercing weapons gain the keen property. They make a note to move the statue to the Temple of the Elk found to the east.

Using the map, the party then explores a ruined keep. Aspen searches for tracks and finds evidence the area is inhabited by a boggard, a frog-like humanoid, and his pet slurk. The party approaches stealthily but the boggard notices their approach and calls for his slurk. The slurk fires goo at Aspen before it is mauled by Tony. Ilya jumps through a window of the ruined building and knocks the boggard unconscious.

The boggard seems to have a limited command of Common but Ralga uses her magic to impart full use of the common tongue. The boggard explains he was cast out of his tribe for trying to usurp leadership. The party informs him his slurk is dead, news which the boggard takes hard. Ilya kills the boggard to free him from his pain.

Moving again to the south, the party comes across an ancient elven structure before the Stone Tooth. The structure is circular with four outer towers and one inner tower. They catch a glimpse of a beautiful elven woman watching from the windows. They approach over a ruined wall to the south. As they do so, Aspen notices a creature watching from the southeast tower. Ilya kicks in the door of that tower to reveal a room with small furniture and scalps nailed to the wall. Astoroth casts glitterdust into the room which reveals a Small humanoid form. It bolts past the party, taking serious damage as it does so, before running up the stairs on the central tower with blinding speed.

The party follows it up to find the beautiful elven woman. She begins a captivating dance as the small fey creature jumps out the window, suspended by levitate. Another green skinned fey with poisonous claws and a pet assassin vine appears at the window. Several of the party members are enthralled by the dance, any attraction they feel for the woman weakening their mental resolve.

Ralga keeps her mind clear, however, and hacks into the fey woman with the ancient Azlanti blade. Astoroth dispatches the small, quick fey as it floats to the ground and then fires a bolt towards the window blindly, finishing the elven woman and her dance. The green-skinned fey is the next to die, but not before it poisons it Ralga. The vine survives a viscous attack from Hyandaner thanks to its immunity to electricity before it too is destroyed.

The party loots the keep and spends several nights there. While Ralga recovers from the poison with Aspens’s aid, the rest of the party explores the area around the Stone Tooth.

Once Ralga recovers, the party heads in the direction of Bokken’s evil brother, Ferral. En route, they are attacked by a large pack of worgs. The creatures grievously injure several sleeping party members before Knallhart proves victorious yet again. With snow on the horizon, the party decides to return to Callisto.

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Interlude - Desmus - Lamashan, 4711 AR

The Founding of Arcadia

After the destruction of the Stag Lord and his bandit minions, and the pacification of the evil menace lurking below the ruined town of Kingsholm, a portion of the Stolen Lands are once again ready to be reclaimed from the wilderness… although for how long remains to be seen. Kingdoms have a way of coming and going in this area of the world.

The Swordlords of Brevoy, in recognition for Knallhart’s heroic accomplishments in making this part of the world safe again for civilization and trade, apportioned a good deal of treasure and resources, along with a writ granting ownership of these lands to the new lord and ruler, Autarch Supreme, His Most Elequont and Munificent Majesty Adramelech Astoroth, and a Council of His choosing.

He began by tapping some of the finest heroic minds in the land, including the members of the badass adventuring party, as well as local talent like the infamous Oleg Leveton, the enigmatic Lars Sterich, and even employing the notorious halfling trader Kaydon Bale.

Legend has it that Autarch Astoroth recieved the idea for his realm in a divine dream sent by one of the gods, most speculation surrounding Callistria and Nethys. Another tale has it that Knallhart conspired deep into the night while awaiting an imminent bandit attack, and many a cup were drained whilst laws and ideals were set down. Whatever the case, when the leaders came together, the realm of Arcadia was truly born.

Aspen in the Fall

Aspen successfully trains a set of a half-dozen battle mounts for the party (they have riding horse stats but do not shy away from battle).

He then heads into the forest and communes with the friendly fey dwelling therein. They are unhappy with the new incursions into the forest but the druid mollifies their fears. Most of the fey refuse to discuss Nyrissa, expressing surprise and terror at the mention of her name. Those few who do speak, such as Perlivash and Tyg Titter-tut, explain Nyrissa has been bound to the Stolen Lands for ages. She often acts through intermediaries and dreams. Most who fulfill her will have no idea they are doing so.

The fey who are willing to speak of her are either unable or unwilling to say more.

Astoroth Andramelech

In his downtime, Astoroth talks with travelers, the sage, the cleric of Erastil if he’s in town, and especially our General and Lars and the halfling, trying to get a feel for the surrounding kingdoms, learning the names and cities and whatever stereotypes or cultural abnormalities the nations and peoples subscribe to. Just get familiar with things (Knowledge Nobility taken as a skill).

More actively, he visits with whatever populations of fey or interested humanoids that Marshall Aspen comes across, up to and including packs of wolves and the like, provided Aspen can act as a go-between. Give them a quick run-down of who we are, what we’re doing, and how not to get killed by us, basically our code of rules, but presented in a respectful and most of all logical manner. Astoroth is interested in learning more about them, their culture and beliefs, and welcome them to participate in the grand experiment of Arcadia, but don’t expect them to join. He is very clear about the changes that will be coming, but tries to mollify this by pointing out the lack of “bad” humans (bandits) and that we take care of whatever evil lurks in the heart of the wilderness, preying on both man and fey.

And almost every day, he takes a stroll through town, Syzygy at his side, talking to folks and especially children, trying to get them acclimated to the badass looking monster, bristling with taloned arms and chitinous plating. Occasionally dripping acid. If Syzygy agrees, which of course he will with his love of showing off, I’ll invite people to ask him to do tricks… ASK, never command. Astoroth’s companion likes the social niceties to be observed. But it will cut anything put before it, leap about… nothing degrading, just things that let it show off its moves.

Saalus

While Saalus works on establishing the new embassy in Restov he surreptitiously observes the book bindery. It has been burned to the ground. Locals say the fire started in the middle of the night but, thankfully, nearby buildings were spared.

The Oraculum is as present as ever in Restov, though none make direct contact with Saalus. Most citizens of Restov are deeply suspicious of the Oraculum, but there has been no allegations of direct harm. They have given generously to the most powerful families in the cities and have thus curried favor and protection.

Saalus learns nothing more of value from the headmaster except that Dralt’s former pupil has not shown at the academy, presumably because he joined the Oraculum. (Sorry—at work so I don’t have names either.) Saalus keeps his eyes peeled but does not see the student anywhere in the city. Then again, it’s a big place so nothing is sure.

No one knows how the fire started, though one beggar does state he saw some people in there the night it happened. He only says they were bad people and hints they were Oraculum members without saying so directly.

Saalus efforts to spark interest in Arcadia are wildly successful despite their subtelty (Rolled 17 for a Diplomacy check—guessing this gets you into the high 20s). Arcadia will gain a one time +2 Economy bonus for Turn 6 because of this.

Saalus meets with several high-ranking officials and friends of Ioseph Sellemius, mayor of Restov, though he does not meet with the mayor himself. Most are indifferent to the Oraculum, a few are vocally supportive and a few others are suspicious of it, though none directly oppose it. All questioned consider it a small, subsect of sages who have not caused any direct harm.

Everyone is supportive of Arcadia, including those who also back the Oraculum. Everyone also goes out of there way to remind Saalus of the great favor Restov has done for the PCs’ nascent kindgom. Everyone is openly critical of House Surtova, the current ruling power in Brevoy. No one expresses concerns of outside threats, though there is some mention of the troubles Maegar Varn is having with the centaurs of the Nomen Heights.

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

The small monetary boost provided by the trade route and economic boom has funneled money into the hands of the unwise. Carousing has reached new heights in Callisto and unthinking tourists have also come to visit. These newcomers show an unprecedented (at least in Arcadia) disrespect for the laws and for the women and men who seek to serve. Entrepreneurs seekeing to capitalize on the flesh trade open some of their own “discount” brothels. Standards for these houses are much lower than those allowed by the Callistria priestesses and several “servants” are beaten. One is even killed.

Ilya begins making visits. Bones are broken, drunken fools are publicly humiliated and the murderer is found and hanged.

The women who’d been involved in the illegal prostitution ring are offered menial jobs doing labor, or have the option of petitioning the brothels or any other business for employment. If they wish to become citizens of Arcadia, that is.

Letter to the Centaurs

Astoroth pens the following letter and sends it to the Nomen centaur tribe via animal messenger cast by Aspen:

Awe Inspiring Matriarch of the Noble and Brave Centaur Clans,

I deliver this message and greeting in peace, knowing full well some of the suffering your people have had inflicted upon them by humans past… and not so past. I beseech you for knowledge of a malignancy eating at the heart of the stolen lands that for all I know you alone may provide me, but I fully recognize any feelings of hesitancy or mistrust you may have, and will take no offense if you choose to stop reading. No response, after all, is a response of that is more clear than the flowery insincere language of so many nations these days. Actions speak so much more loudly that speech, and hope that you will allow us the opportunity to prove ourselves to you and your people.

As Autarch of the newly established Arcadia, I seek to reach out to those around me, the natural inhabitants of this land, to better learn how to live harmoniously with it, as well as provide whatever assistance we can with problematic situations. Recently, for example, we were forced to discipline some lumberjacks who’d invaded the glade of a nymph, and before that had to slay some dozen werewolves who’d begun killing our farmers.

There is something… Strange that I wish to ask you about. Certain… happenings. Glimpses of an evil. It is possible this is something the Centaurs are… uniquely in a position of understanding. I am fascinated by other people and cultures, and have found much to appreciate in that of the Centaurs of Nomen Heights. I especially appreciate the status of women such as yourself in society; I’ve always found it bizarre that humans don’t take more advantage of the smarter (and often harder working) half of their population, and we have helped to ensure Arcadia affords equal rights to all its citizens, regardless of race or gender. If you’d honor me with a discussion some time, I’d love for you to elaborate some of your customs to help make my own nation run more smoothly.

Again, I make these requests with the utmost respect, open heart and empty hands, but if I have provided any instance of disrespect out of my ignorance for your ancient and proud culture, I apologize.

If you read this but choose not to respond, any centaur bearing a white flag of truce will be allowed to deliver a message, all the way to the capitol if you so wish.

Autarch of Arcadia,
Adramelech Astoroth

So far, there has been no response.

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Kingsholm Cleansed

Session Date: August 3, 2013
Starting Game Date: Desunus 18, 4711 AR

Knallhart returns to Oleg’s and sends word to Restov of the Staglords defeat. In addition, they send gold with Kaydon Bale to purchase supplies. While waiting for a response, the PCs go to Nettle’s Crossing and throw the Staglord’s corpse into the Shrike River. Davik Nettles emerges and asks the PCs to throw a weapon into the Shrike River so as to receive his blessing. Ralga throws in an ordinary spear but Davik sends it back. Astoroth then tosses his masterwork light crossbow into the river and it is returned dripping with water and infused with magic. Davik Nettles slips into the water, decomposing instantly.

Knallhart travels to Kingsholm and heads into the crypts below the town. They travel past the room formerly occupied by the crypt keeper and find a room filled with water, giant leeches and leach swarms. Several islands dot the water covered magical wards. The monk bounds across the islands to the ledge on the other side of the cavern. He ties a rope that spans across the water. The party crawls across but Salus and Szygy fall in. The party kills the giant leeches with spells and weapons while water elements summoned by Astoroth and Aspen spin the swarms into oblivion. The party finds and removes a gem which controls the magic in the room before moving on.

The next room contains an old corpse and two blood-stained statutes. Szygy falls into a hidden pit trap. Panels open on the statutes and the walls and several mechanical creatures emerge. They attack but are quickly felled. The party collects the mangled remains of the machines, as well as some loot found on the corpses in the room.

The sound of rushing water in the next room is revealed to be a large waterfall that spills over a ledge before tumbling into a vorago. A creature steps from the water, with silver skin, white hair and eyes the light blue of a stream. His voice is melodious and reminiscent of a bubbling brook. He is wary of the PCs but Saalus calms him, speaking in Sylvan. He takes a particular liking to Ralga, saying his name is Sigur. Ralga favors him with a kiss and talks with him long into the night.

Sigur explains the crypt is ruled by Aegon, the former leader of the Four Pillars. The Four Pillars were an adventuring group that supported King Theron 500 years ago in his attempt to settle the Stolen Lands. According to Sigur, the passage to Aegon is guarded by a horrific spider. Sigur offers to reward the PCs if they kill this creature, but he warns them they should not waste time if they travel past the waterfall because Aegon will sense them.

Later, as they talk that night, Sigur confides in Ralga that Aegon was tempted by a powerful fey sorceress known as Nyrissa who led Aegon to betray his former master as well as his friends. Sigur is terrified to speak of Nyrissa for too long. After telling Ralga she and her friends should leave the Stolen Lands lest she draw Nyrissa’s wrath, Sigur steps into the falls.

The next day, Knallhart travels past the waterfall into a room covered with webs. A spider swarm and two humanoid figures, wrapped in webs and writhing with small spiders, attack the party. As the humanoid forms are destroyed, they erupt into spiders. A huge spiders lumbers up to a balcony edge and begins tossing webs down on the party. Ilya and Szygy rush up to the balcony while the rest of the PCs fight the foes down below. Victorious, the PCs search the area and find some treasure including a magical headband. Sigur rewards them with an enchanted mithril chain shirt before stepping into the falls.

Past the spider room, Knallhart comes upon a halfling female in chainmail. She tells them to turn back before they are killed. Tony senses the smell of the grave on the hafling and the party attacks. The fight spills into a larger room behind a pair of curtains, where two skeletal warriors fused to skeletal horses charge forward. Aegon, a grave knight wearing smoky, black armor and wielding a flaming great sword, rides into combat, mounted on an ephemeral horse.

The halfling is held to the ground by Ilya and torn apart by Szygy while Ralga, Aspen and Tony attack the skeletal warriors. Aegon fires gouts of flames at the party, but no one is seriously hurt. Wielding Mortimer, Hyandaner delivers a devastating blow to the grave knight and Aegon is destroyed.

The party loots the bodies and, finding a secret passage, heads down stairs into room with several sarcophagi. As Knallhart approaches, the ghost of King Theron appears. He tells the party they have freed his soul from bondage to the past and bequeaths upon the sword Merthuvial, also called Kingmaker.

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The Staglord's Demise

Session Date: July 27, 2013

Starting Game Date: Desnus 3, 4711

Using information from the infiltrators, the party prepares for an attack on Oleg’s. A group of pilgrims in cloaks rides out from the trading post while the rest of the citizenry huddle in Oleg’s house. Shortly after, the PCs use a mirror to signal to a copse 1000 feet to the south. A group of men and half-orcs emerges from the trees. They are lead by a large half-orc wearing a black bandana. Saalus identifies the group as Rorn’s Raiders and their leader as Rorn the Black, a fearsome brigand known for leaving no survivors.

Rorn’s Raiders approach the gate leading into the trading post, left slightly ajar. As they enter, the PCs begin their assault. Rorn falls into a deep slumber from Hyandaner’s spell and Aspen casts entangle, holding the rest of the Raiders in place. Astoroth blinds a number of them using glitterdust as Syzygy and Ilya rush forward, battering down the first line of foes and working their way back. Soon, all of Rorn’s raiders are dead, except for two which are kept for questioning. Before these scofflaws are hung with the others, they say Rorn received a tip from the Staglord that Oleg’s would be ripe for the picking. The final two brigands have little to add and soon join their comrades swinging from tree limbs.

The party departs for the Staglord’s Fortress, arriving after an uneventful 2.5 days. The fortress sits on a flat hilltop, surrounded by deformed trees with the cool waters of the Tuskwater to the south. A packed trail winds up the north side of the hill to the gate of the fortress. The party watches for a day, observing three guards in watchtowers and an oafish figure who stands on a roof and parades around with toys.

The next day, a troup of bandits heads towards the fortress and are ambushed by the PCs. Four are killed, one is left alive. Questioning reveals the password to get into the fortress. The PCs also learn the names of the Staglord’s three lieutenants: Auchs, a muscular, dangerous brute, Dovan from Nisroch, a skilled duelist, and Akiros Ismort, a Taldan with a noble bearing and mysterious past. The captive also describes a twisted old man who dispenses healing magic.

Leaving their captive manacled to a tree, the PCs approach the fort at night. Astoroth, Hyandaner, Ralga and Saalus approach along the packed trail while Aspen and Ilya approach stealthily along the hillside. Halfway up, undead hands reach up from the ground, grabbing for Ilya and Aspen. Aspen, Szygy and Tony make short work of zombies on one side of the trail while Ilya tears into another group, using his fists then switching to kamas.

The main group reaches the gate as Ilya fights off the undead below. After sharing the password, Saalus convinces the guard closest to the gate they have the best of intentions despite the late hour. The guard drops the bar off the gate and is torn to shreds by Szygy before he can even scream. The other guards on lookout scream a warning as the PCs pour into the compound. Ralga and Astoroth pepper the guards in the watchtower with missile weapons while Aspen, Hyandaner and Tony rush the main structure. Ilya, having disposed of the undead on the hill, rushes up to join the others.

Dovan wakes with the guards and unlocks the cage to the owlbear. The creature emerges, enraged, and focuses its attacks on Ilya. Dovan positions himself to flank the monk but the duelist falls in a deep slumber from a hex cast by Hyandaner.

Akiros emerges from the back but is ensorcelled by the magus and joins Dovan, sleeping on the ground. Auchs, enraged at the interruption in his sleep, begins making his way down. Tony and Aspen cut through the surviving guards, who make it to their feet but are overwhelmed by the wrath of the tiger and druid. Astoroth casts haste on the group, causing most of the party to move at lightning speed.

The Staglord, firing from hiding, nails Ilya with an arrow. After another shot, the monk goes down. Saalus faces the wrath of Auchs and is chased outside the compound. As if things could not get worse, lightning begins to rain down from the sky on exposed PCs.

Szygy attacks the Staglord while the owlbear swipes at new foes. Hyandaner delivers a deadly strike to the owlbear, channeling electrical energy through the blade, and then finishes the beast off. Ralga and Aspen both manage to channel curative magic into Ilya, bringing him back into the fight. The Staglord is cornered in a backroom and killed as he is swarmed by Ilya, Szygy and Tony. The two bandits above disappear from view.

Outside the compound, Auchs drops Saalus with a mighty blow from his greatclub and then turns his ire on Hyandaner. The lumbering brute is quickly put down, but lightning bolts continue to rain down from above. Aspen finally notices a sparrow sitting on the palisade logs, curiously watching the fight. Tony climbs the palisade and ravages the bird with his teeth and claws, but does not kill it. Ilya hits the creature with a spike, but it still lives. The sparrow flies off to meld with a large stone in the middle of the compound.

The PCs regroup and heal themselves as Ilya repeatedly punches the rock. Almost a half minute later, a grizzly bear emerges from the rock, unscathed. The bear has time to swipe at one of the PCs before the party takes it down with a flurry of attacks. Dying, the bear changes into the form of an old human male.

The party searches the compound as Aspen and Tony track the missing bandits. The pair find a tunnel leading south out of the compound. Aspen follows their tracks and finds the bandits behind a bush not that far from the fortress. The bandits refuse to surrender and one is killed while the other, Falgrim Sneech, is captured.

The party loads their horses with trade goods and other treasures found at the Staglord’s Fortress. They ride back to Oleg’s, laden with treasure. Once there, they send word to Restov that the Staglord is dead. Kesten Garress takes Falgrim Sneech under control and agrees to pay the PCs in gold instead of masterwork weapons. Over the course of the next week, a wagon is sent to the Staglord’s fortress and the rest of the loot is brought back.

The Swordlords, responding to the good news, send a substantial award to the PCs in the form of gold as well as a charter giving the PCs legal right to settle the Stolen Lands. While the latter is of dubious legal significance, the Swordlords also send a caravan of goods and settlers to allow the party to begin building their shining city on the hill.

Ending Game Date: Desnus 15, 4711

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Summoner's Log II

Session Date: June 22, 2013

Starting Date: Gozran 24, 4711 AR

We left the crypt to rest up; in the morning we were missing two elves with only a vague note giving a hint of their presence. We decided to venture forth, so as not to deny our companions satisfaction of taking part in the cleansing of the evil catacomb beneath Kingsholm. That and the promise of more and worse undead monstrosities awaiting us below, but we will only admit that to ourselves.

We began exploring the hilly land along the Shrike River; perfectly navigable except for the waterfalls looming in the distance… wolves circled our camp that night, but didn’t bother us. We proceeded onward, and found a tree in the shape of a claw, alone on a hilltop. We approached cautiously, but all that awaited us was a bundle of treasure stuck under the roots.

We encountered an undead abomination that haunts the old river crossing; the owner was slain and apparently came back to get vengence upon the Stag Lord (or at least lament his own demise and yearn for revenge). Aspen in the Fall had noticed some potential bandit footprints, which lead to the former ferry (or bridge?)-crossing. Now it was reduced to a lone rope stretched across the 200 foot wide river. Upon hearing of his plight, I reflected upon how lucky he was that we came along, since we had made it our business to put the living dead at ease and back into the state where they belong (death). I told him that we’d destroy the stag lord and avenge the crime that was committed.

Proceeding from there, we decided to hunt some elk, all of which apparently suffered from chronic wasting disease. Or rabies. Syzygy and Ilya tried sneaking up on them, but the silent monk snapped a few twigs on the way, spooking the giant beasts. He ran up and punched one, only to have the whole group go crazy and begin goring everyone in sight. Aspen had made it clear that only one was to be killed; Syzygy quickly dispatched the one dazed by Ilya’s punch, while Hyandaner fended off two that had targeted him. The monk grabbed another elk that was attacking him, and after the other two had fled Aspen spoke with the pinned quadruped. We basically just let it go, Aspen explaining that we were the top of the food chain.

Aspen found tracks leading into a titanic old sycamore tree. At the base of the tree, roots poked up and dark passages led into the earth. From earlier clues we knew this was a lair of the mites, and were resolved to exterminate them. We surprised the first two groups of mites, killing them without a sound. Under the tree lay a network of caves and tunnels. We heard screaming from further ahead—a kobold being tortured. We rushed in, slaying his captors and healing the cute but vicious little thing. I explained that we were its saviors, and that he could follow us if he wanted to see vengence smitten upon his foes. He was eager for that, and joined us.

We came to a ravine in the cavern system; a 30 foot wide chasm at least that deep. Rope loops were strung across the ceiling, presumably a makeshift monkeybars. The acrobatic Ilya weaved across the pit, only to have one of the rope loops fall away—a trap! He recovered, but noticed a giant insectile monstrosity approaching from the ravine below him. The huge centepede had two whip tails which cracked out at the monk, who deftly wove his way back to the chamber where we were watching this take place. We backed up, hoping to force the gigantic bug to come to us rather than engage along the ledge of a 30’ drop. We made short work of it, explored where it came from, got some loot and moved on, climbing the other side of the ravine to another tunnel.

This led to what amounted to their main force; 8 or so of the little critters hiding in a corner, led by another one riding a giant, mean-looking tick. Syzygy spotted them while continuing its amazing sneakfest, and surprise the ambushers had become the ambushees. The longest battle yet, the tick was particularly hard to put down and Syzygy was having the time of its life in an epic battle with another scythe-taloned monstrosity, only to watch as Tony ran up at the end to finish it off with a single bite. During the battle, a wave of a half-dozen giant centepedes (not as giant as the previous one) almost surrounded the brave/foolish summoner who’d stepped into the room to get a shot off with his crossbow, but Ilya and Hyandaner quickly took up position, allowing him to withdraw unscathed. Some kind of casting mite female led the centipede attack, but she was quickly dealt with by Ilya, Hyandaner and Tony.

We looted the bodies, searched the place, and other than a pile of centipede eggs, totally cleared the place out. Two objects of note were Oleg’s ring and a 250gp idol of a demonic face—a face our kobold told us was that of Sharptooth, the being they were forced to worship. We would later find out that these were indeed all the mites that threatened the kobolds—one of the main features of the next chapter in our story. This one ends with the fact that although I argued for the destruction of the centipede eggs, Aspen in the Fall was adamant that the vermin were just a part of nature. We’d found a wand of burning hands Hyandander was almost ready to fry those disgusting things with, but we respect the druid’s intuition about the natural world. Still, if there’s ever a report of someone being dragged off by gigantic centipedes… Aspen thought maybe you could eat the eggs, but when even the kobold refused, gave it up for a bad idea.

Our kobold has a name. Its Mikmic (McMc?) [Mikmek]

We continued on, McMik offering to lead us to the kobold’s lair. We got him to tell us about the layout of the lair, including a secret passage that only the leader was supposed to know about, and planted the idea that since he knew about it that kind of made him the leader. He was nervous to talk about it at first, but our displays of badassery against those poor little mites had left a great impression upon him, especially since I kept ordering him to keep his eyes open and watch what we did.

We decided to put an end to the tyrannical reign of the new kobold boss [Tartuk]; some shaman-type who made the clan sacrifice fellow kobolds to their dark “god”, Sharptooth, which resembled a bearded demon. I wondered if it might be good to let McMik proceed us, telling tales of our amazingness to the rest of the clan, and maybe spreading some of the several hundred copper pieces we had let him keep after clearing out the mites. However, total surprise does have its advantages, and I was persuaded that the direct route was probably for the best.

Once again, we were extra sneaky, making our way into the secret passage. In a chamber ahead, we heard screaming as a kobold was apparently dipped into boiling water. We rushed in, Syzygy at the ready, and were able to take out the obvious leader before the others knew what to do—I informed the kobolds that they were about to witness a historical event of some importance for their tribe, and we killed the shaman to death… permanently.

Sootscale, the former leader, came in and we explained what had occured. The kobolds were soon eating out of our hands, and I went to great lengths to impress upon them that I was their new lord, and that they must obey certain rules in order to continue surviving—and if they obeyed the rewards would be great—like these couple thousand of copper pieces that had formerly been theirs, been taken by the shaman, then looted by us, only to give them back to the kobolds—talk about generous! And some elk meat I believe. Anyway, they know to stay away from humans, not to harm, kill or steal from humans or human animals like cows and whatnot. Also, their caves are filled with SILVER waiting to be mined!

They asked whom they should sacrifice to Sharptooth: with a meaningful glance shared between the party, Ilya brought forth the Sharptooth totem/stature, and everyone bowed before it. I declared Sharptooth was dead, and Ilya crushed the idol in his meaty monk hands. The kobolds gasped, then cheered, elated to be free from having to sacrifice each other. They ran to get a mite prisoner, to torture in celebration. I looked around at my friends but saw no one seemed to have qualms about needless torture… as the mite was brought out Syzygy informed the clan that “All sacrifices are now for ME” and sliced the little thing’s arms off with its talons and bit his baby-sized torso into pieces, flinging bits and pieces around the room. I agree with his premise, although the route he chose was a little dramatic for my tastes. Hopefully they’ll think twice about torture and killing when they know that IT is the one who should be allowed to do the killing. They needed a new god to worship anyway.

We left, presumably in control or at least highly influential amongst our new little friends, but who knows for certain? We’ll check up on them periodically. In the meanwhile, we continued exploring the hills, making our way back to Oleg’s Trading Fort. Along the way, Aspen befriended some wolves and some thylicines (which had been eating the bandits hanging from the tree). The elk helped in both meetings.

Somewhere along the way, we encountered a group of hideous, floppy-faced giants inhabiting a small natural cavern. We destroyed them, and i think it was there we discovered the veins of GOLD.

We made it back to Olegs, had a good conversation with Lars about progress and future ideas, and asked him to recruit someone he trusted who knew about mining. We turned in some quests, let Oleg know about the kobold situation (its handled, and they’re on our side! no really!), and were weirded out by two suspicious guests at the latest celerbratory banquet (less festive without the bard). Someone detected that they were lying and being evasive, so they were impolitely escorted to a different room—freaking out some of the people dining with us. I told them to relax, everything is under control—we’re the good guys, remember?

I entered the room to a muffled scream and Ilya breaking the man’s leg. So much for the moral high ground. However, a quick search turned up the ubiquitious stag lord pin these fools love to carry, and after displaying the evidence and circumstances to the rest of the folks at Oleg’s, we quietly hung the two in accordance with the law of the land.

We had gotten information, of course. The Stag Lord was sending a group of bandits to attack Oleg’s tomorrow, assuming our group had left by 10 or so these two would signal the woods with a mirror, and open the gates to a surprise assault. I patiently explained this to everyone, even the eldarly humans who were almost panicky and wanting to leave. You fools, i thought, and “Good People”, i said, it was important that everyone stay inside Oleg’s—there were probably bandits out in those woods right now waiting to pick you off! Stay here, protected by the walls and the guards and most of all US. We thought to send out a small party in the morning masquerading as us, then proceeding with the signal. We’ve been waiting for a chance to cut the bandit numbers down, and now we’ll have that opportunity.

Ending Date: Desnus 2, 4711

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The Crypt Below

Game Date: 6/15/2013

Gozran 22

  • PCs return to Oleg with Tuskgutter’s corpse in tow.
  • Kesten Garess approaches the party with a letter from Lord Mayor Ioseph Sellemius.
    • The letter offers the party 5000 gp should they capture or kill the Staglord as well as the nebulous promise of future assistance.
  • The party is also approached by Vekkel Benzen, an old retired ranger who was lamed by Tuskgutter many years ago.
    • Vekkel offers his bow to the party and his services exploring the Greenbelt, though his injury reduces his value as a guide.
  • The party meets Ralga Turathel, a female elven oracle haunted by the ghosts of her ancestors.
    • Ralga offers to join the PCs on their adventures in hopes she may learn more about her dark past.
  • During that night’s drunken revelry, the party is acquainted with Thurigin, a nearly blind dwarf who tells the following story:
    • Thurigin’s great-great grandfather, Durgeddin the Black, was the chieftain of a clan of dwarves with a small holding in the northern reaches of the Five Kings Mountains.
    • After his clan was sacked by orcs , Durgeddin established a secret homeland named Khundrukar.
    • At Khundrukar, Durgeddin built the Forge of Fury, a powerful forge that made weapons of unsurpassed quality.
  • Thurigin’s search has led him to believe Khundrukar is built into the Stone Tooth.
    • The Stone Tooth is a large upthrust rising from the hills in the center of the Narlmarches.
  • Thurigin is not sure whether any of his people still reside within but would like the PCs to investigate.
    • Thurigin promises to forge the PCs a powerful weapon should they either bring back news that the dwarves at Khundrukar are safe or, if that is not the case, news that any invaders have been driven off.
  • Saalus tells a spell-binding tale of the victory over the werewolf and Tuskgutter to the rousing cheers of those gathered at Oleg’s

Gozran 23

  • The party travels to Kingsholm.
    • Upon entering the town, the PCs notice the pall that resided over the village has lifted.
  • The PCs begin digging out the rubble that was once was the church.
  • The party camps in the spot where they last spent time recovering from the plague.
    • There are no signs of disturbance in Kingsholm unlike the first night the party camped in the vicinity of the town.

Gozran 24

  • The party finishes digging out the rubble that was formerly the church.
    • Below a flagstone in the basement, they find a chest hidden by the townspeople who had perished in the basement of the church.
  • The party turns its attention to the graveyard to the south of town.
    • Aspen in the Fall finds the tracks of a small wild cat.
    • Creeping stealthily into the ancient mausoleum, Aspen Fall finds a bobcat feeding on the adventurers who had perished fleeing the crypts below.
    • Using a spell, Aspen befriends the cat, which tells him of a strange statue in the copse to the south of town.
    • The bobcat also tells of something in the middle of this clearing that has been feasting on the forest dwellers.
  • The PCs head into the copse and find a statue there of a noble-looking king.
    • Saalus is able to discern the writing at the base of the statue, which is written in ancient Taldan and reads: “Noble Lord Theron, Tamer of the Stolen Lands.”
    • A crude hole is dug into the ground next to the statute and a fraying rope ladder leads below.
    • Saalus uses a spell to repair the ladder and the party descends.
  • Syzgy is the first down and, as Astoroth’s tutelary descends, it is attacked by something in the cavern below, something with long arms, starfish-shaped palms covered in suckers and black rubbery skin.
    • Ilya follows and attacks the creature which has wrapped its arms around Syzygy.
    • Ralga descends, losing her grip and bringing Hyandaner with her.
    • Another creature emerges from the pool and attacks the PCs, though both are quickly put down.
    • The PCs find nothing in the creatures’ lair though several small tunnels reach back into the rock formation accessible only to a Small creature.
  • The party continues onwards and finds a hallway with several statues standing in front of crypt entrances. The statutes consist of the following:
    • Male human wearing plate armor wielding a longsword with long hair and fair features.
    • Female Halfling kneeling in prayer.
    • Elven female with short hair, high cheekbones and wielding a dagger and rapier.
    • Elven male wearing a robe and holding a book at his side.
  • The party explores the crypts, finding nothing in them, until they come to the crypt with the statue of the elven woman.
    • As Ilya approaches the crypt entrance, a gray skin undead creature with glowing red eyes springs out.
    • The party surrounds the attacker and brings her down before she can strike anyone with her foul touch.
  • Once vanquished, the undead creature changes into the elven woman depicted in the statue, though she begins rotting rapidly.
    • Ralga uses her connection to the spirits to ask the woman what would free her soul.
    • The woman responds: “Destroy the betrayer” before rotting away.
  • Continuing on, the party comes to a room with skeletal sage pouring over a book, mumbling maniacally.
    • Ilya attempts sneaking up on the creature, later identified as a crypt thing, but it notices him and teleports into the party’s midst.
    • Before the party can react, the creature screams “Begone!”
    • Most of the party resists the creature’s magic but Ralga is transported to the copse above and Astoroth is transported to a flimsy rope bridge suspended over a ravine.
    • A skeletal minotaur and four humanoid skeletons clatter out of a nearby crypt and join the fray.
  • Syzygy attacks the crypt thing and though Syzygy does significant damage to it, the crypt thing tears the eidolon apart with its bony claws.
  • Ilya is driven into a corner by the fear aura radiating from the crypt thing and is surrounded by skeletons.
    • Though he fights bravely, Ilya is brought down by the skeletal assault.
  • Astoroth falls off the rope bridge into the water below where he is attacked by an ooze.
    • Ralga runs down and rescues Astoroth by throwing a rope down into the water.
  • Saalus plugs several arrows into the crypt thing and brings Syzygy back into the fight with his healing magic.
    • Syzygy does more damage to the crypt thing before falling again to the crypt thing’s onslaught.
    • Saalus defends himself against the creature but is similarly put down by the undead monster.
  • Hyandaner and Aspen are left in the fight as Astoroth and Ralga make their way back to the battle.
    • Hyandaner drops the crypt thing before falling to the goring attack of the skeletal minotaur.
    • Aspen in the Fall finishes off the skeletons as Ralga joins the fight.
  • The crypt thing changes to resemble an elven mage before rotting away.
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