Zane: Age of Enlightenment

Sesssion 2b: Gone to Guecumar

The party has two days to prepare before the first caravan leaves for Guecumar. Thud decides that the caravan is currently lacking solid protection and so canvasses the area for some hired help. He manages to round up a ragtag bunch of miscreants that the group proceeds to put through a strenuous bootcamp for the next 48 hours. The recruits aren’t particularly adept at combat or physical exertion though they display a much more acute mastery of things arcane and natural, mostly thanks to Umalli and Grafton. Content that the recruits are at least adequate for the task at hand, the party leaves Varuna headed for Guecumar.

Two days into the journey, the caravan once again runs into the group of nomads who travel the area. This time, however, they seek assistance not strength. They first ask what happened to “Chief Buzzing Wasp” (Billywig) and Thud insists that he was left in charge of the group. The nomads are satisfied with the answer and lead the party to their current encampment. Here they find that the nomads’ shaman has fallen ill with a bizarre infirmity. Attempts to identify natural or supernatural causes fail until Grafton discovers the minor winter spirit oppressing the shaman. It explains the the shaman came into its cave seeking wisdom and left the place messy and “desecrated.” In retaliation, the spirit caused the shaman terrible cold and troubled sleep. Thud and Umalli intimidate the spirit into relenting. It will leave the shaman alone if either the shaman will go back and reconsecrate the cave or if the spirit can come along with the group and find a new cave. Thud offers to take the spirit on, but the rest of the group decides this is a bad idea and instead convinces the shaman to correct his mistakes. Hoerig and Darnis put both the shaman and the clan at ease about the situation before returning to the trail.

The caravan arrives at Guecumar and everyone gets to work immediately – except for Blaine who simply lazes around giving orders and in his desire for comfort manages to unearth a couple of worthwhile artifacts. Thud locates a diary containing some information about the last weeks of the 17th Chericlo Cavalry at Guecumar.

About 10 days into the build, strange things are happening by night. Tools are stolen, work is undone – even a building is collapsed! The recruits are able to spot some flickering lights that appear whenever misfortune is about to strike but it takes Grafton’s wolfish speed to finally chase down the source of the problem. Five creepily giddy fairies claim to be behind the trouble and will only stop if the PC’s play a game of “catch” with them. This of course means that the PCs must catch the fairies before the fairies’ pet orge “Little Boy” catches them!

The battle is raucous and frustrating – for several rounds it seems that only Hoerig can catch the fairies while everyone else catches earth-rending slam attacks from Little Boy. Nearly everyone is bloodied at one point or another. Finally, with a fairie in each hand, Hoerig distracts Little Boy and gets him caught in some bushes so the rest of the party can finish the job. Umalli’s Fire Warrior and Thud each catch a fairy. Grafton nearly kills one before Hoerig returns it to consciousness. With all the fairies caught, they promise to be good but it will be hard because the nearby temple “makes us mean.” As if on cue, the Temple of the Yuir Gods makes a triumphant return to the natural world and the party decides to investigate.

They are intercepted on the way to the temple by a harpy leading a band of wolves and giant minxes. The group seems to have the situation under control until the harpy begins to sing, pulling PCs toward it and transfixing them. The tide of battle is turned by Blaine who opens up on the harpy from concealment, giving Thud and Umalli a much needed chance to put the harpy down for good. Even after this happens, Umalli gets surrounded and dogpiled by no less than five minxes and wolves. Darnis’ judicious use of his Magic Weapon spell augments the attacks of the characters coming to Umalli’s rescue and the animals are defeated.

Once in the temple, the party comes across Nimiwi, a dryad who was badly injured trying to prevent a ritual from taking place within. She alerts the party to the composition of the upcoming fight and gives Grafton her totem. After a moment of planning, the party busts up the ritualists’ fun with great prejudice and furious vengeance. Blaine puts warning shots into two guard drakes while Darnis and Thud draw the attention of the cultists. Grafton uses his new totem to bring the freeze down on Berrian Truescourge, the leader, but ultimately Umalli repays the party’s efforts from the previous fight by utterly annhilating Berrian in a single round under a truly horrifying onslaught of lightning and fire. The cultists take one look at the pile of ash and ozone that was once their leader before promptly surrendering.

The cultists claim that Berrian was planning on creating a new elven state from the remains of Sedna using power gained from teleporting and summoning Feywild creatures. They also mention an important book of theirs was stolen a couple weeks ago – a book that helped them maintain control of the boundary between the Feywild and the natural world in this area. That book was called the Tome of Twilight Boughs and no sooner does the party realize that Shamgar destroyed the book does the temple itself teleport wholly to the Feywild once more. The PCs are now stranded in the Feywild, at the mercy of the temple’s inherent teleportation to return home.

To be continued…

Treasure:
  1. 1000 gp of residuum
  2. statuette of a couple embracing (100 gp) and a rare book of poetry (50 gp)
  3. 20 gp in coin
  4. 200 gp of Karma for helping the nomads
  5. a Winter’s Grasp Totem
  6. an Eifa Tree
  7. 150 gp worth of gems
Spent:
  1. 60 gp of Fame to attract recruits (Thud)
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Session 2a: The Land Down Under
Jesters hate being Dazed

Tullie, Billywig, Shamgar and Walt arrive at [[Ft. Kront]] and report to Sgt. Ruk for duty. He informs them that the undead assaults have not stopped completely, but have lessened. The orc soldiers chased a small band of them several miles into the forest, with the undead dropping limbs and weapons as they ran. He hope that the party can use the discarded bits as a trail to find where the undead are coming from. He also has sketches of some of the zombies and skeletons that attacked recently in the hopes that it helps the party somehow. Before the party can begin, however, [[:sgt-ruk|Sgt. Ruk] mentions that he has about a dozen green recruits that need training and field experience; the party is to take this ragtag band with them on their journey.

The party spends two days training the recruits – Walt teaches them perception and rudimentary arcana. Quickly and happily stepping into the role of drill instructor, Billywig pushes the recruits to the extents of their physical limits and teaches them the fine art of intimidating one’s foes. Tullie manages to get one or two to properly stalk live prey, both physically and with words. Finally, Shamgar rounds out their crash course education with basic dueling practice and first aid. With boot camp under their belt, the party and their recruits are off to find the undead menace.

The party locates the trail of organs and follows it for several miles. When it dwindles, Walt continues to track the monsters until they come to a split in the road. Unable to decide which way to go, Tullie scampers up a tree and finds the only route that actually goes anywhere. As they continue, Walt senses a henge and leads the party directly to where they were trying to go in the first place.

The cave at which they arrive is magically blocked – a vertical variant of the popular Wizard’s Arcane Debris. The party determines that a rune on the floor behind the door will open it, but no one can fit through the gaps in the bound rocks. Some quick thinking on Billywig’s part gets an enchanted lantern through the gap and opens the door.

The party is met quickly by alarm constructs, small flying creatures that emit ear piercing shrieks. Although difficult to deal with early on due to the constructs having cover behind arrow slits, the party deals efficiently with the little monstrosities – including the reanimated Duergar and the Patchwork Golem that join the fray halfway through! Sgt Ruk’s recruits do an excellent job holding one of the constructs at bay and get in a couple decent shots.

Exploration commences! Tullie finds a weird scrap of cloth that the Golem was using to hold itself together; a thin fabric adherent of sorts. A latrine and a rope bridge over a forest of fungi leading further into the dungeon are also nearby. Billywig flies himself and Shamgar over the pit while Walt and Tullie scamper across the bridge. Skeletal archers, an alarm construct and a giant ameoboid attack while Walt is stuck on the bridge, however. The archers are able to drop Walt but he is saved by Shamgar making judicious use of his giant axe and timely precision strikes by Billywig and Tullie. Billywig orders the recruits to open the next door and to their horror they find ritualists led by a small halfling attempting to functionalize undead! The recruits can’t quite handle the situation and the party is left to contend with the ritualists. Shamgar makes short work of all of them with his cold breath, though the halfling manages to escape to the next room after blinding Shamgar and Walt. Walt takes his personal vendetta out on the human building the alarm constructs and then chases the halfling into the next room.

He is surrounded by half-finished zombies who, despite having distinct tactical advantage, can not capitalize on Walt’s tired state and separation from the party. Tullie and the newly strengthened recruits break through the zombie bunchup and Tullie drops the halfling with her noose. Feeling the end is near, the party unleashes their best attacks, wiping the zombies out in a matter of round or two. The party claims some treasure and then proceeds down a tunnel to a very disturbing sight – there is a subterranean henge here but it is malfunctioning somehow. A great geyser of purple necrotic energy is erupting from the normally serene henge!

To be continued….

Treasure:
  1. the Patchwork Synthetic
  2. a Deck of Arcane Backlash
  3. contraband religious goods worth a bounty of 250 gp
  4. 20 gp found on the halfling’s body
  5. 250 “banked” gp worth of good karma for clearing out undead
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Downtime 1: Report and Assignment

Scene 1 – Ft. Kront

“Sir,” Thud salutes, “before we head back would you mind of some of your smiths fix up me hamma’s Sir?” He returns to an at-ease stance.

“You’ll have to bang out the dents yerself,” Ruk comments. “We don’t have enuff men for to have a full-time smith.” He points you across the main plaza of the fort and down some stairs to where the forge is maintained. The smithy is cluttered, dark and covered in a light layer of soot.

“Thank you Sir.” Thud heads down to the smith and starts to fill in small chips and cracks and clean his weapons and armor

Shamgar sat in the barracks of the common room, idly sharpening the blade of his axe with various grades of whestones. The ancient weapon never seemed to need any sharpening, but the process calmed him and allowed his thoughts to wander. “You know,” he began, speaking to whoever cared to pay attention to him, “Clearing out those old rotters reminds me of the last time I fought undead. I was working with the Band of the Hawk at the time, back when they were first starting out, and we got asked to go and scout out this little mining town near Hyloneme.”

The rasp of stone on blade continued for a moment as he gathered his thoughts, then continued, “The Band was just starting out at the time, there was only about seven of us, so we took any paying job we could get to put our name out there. The captain at the time- half elven boy named Nelson, hell of a leader -comes down to let us know that we’re to check out this town way out in the sticks. Says Hyloneme hasn’t seen hide nor hair of them in over a week, and there’s normally a load of gems coming in every three days.”

Putting his whestones away, he tested the edge of his blade before laying it across the table and continuing, “Anyways, we get there and find that the whole place has gone to the abyss and back. Bloodstains everywhere, brains and bits of organs splattered everywhere, but we couldn’t find a blasted corpse anywhere. So we set up for the night at the mayor’s place, really nice old mansion- nothing fancy but everything well made. I’m on watch with this kid we called Spots, not sure how he got the nickname. Really young but he could do things with a mace that could make an archdemon cry. He’s telling me about his girl back home when all of a sudden we see all these people outside the window! We raise the alarm and Spots rushes to secure the front doors but he gets there two late. Five wights come bustin’ in through the door and tear him to shreds. Didn’t take much brains to figure out what happened to the townsfolk, so we split into groups of three and went through the town and killed everything that moved. Lost two more men before the job was done, but damned if we weren’t all but given medals for that. I ended up leaving the band a few months later, started getting a bit too crowded for my tastes, but I still see them around here and there. Doin’ real well now, I understand.”

“Thats a pretty hellish story there mate,” says Thud doing his best to sympathize with Shamgar. He wipes some soot off his face and clothes. “Good to see a man like you survive that and its too bad you lost any men.” Thud gives Shamgar a hearty hand on his back.

Ruk also chimes in, speaking in the sort of cold steel tone that only a war commander would use for grief counseling. “Be glad you’ve seen ‘em alive, wizard. Seein’ ‘em agin dead is far worse. One o’ them zombie mashers out there was from my own clan. Got hisself killed by a she-bear. How ‘e ended up in that legion o’ the damned is beyond me.”

Blaine stands nearby leaning against the wall and absent-mindedly doodling in the dust of the barracks floor with the tip of his bow. Upon hearing Ruk’s interjection, he stops and looks up, scowling in worry and confusion. He addresses Ruk. “Have these disturbances been happening more frequently lately? It seems like you have had a bit of a run-in with them yourself, good man.”

“Once in a while,” Ruk replies. “They’re not well organized and never bear the same banner twice. Also usually not this big a number.” Ruk muses over this point much like the pugilist looks at the unconscious body of his opponent – more impressed with himself than concerned. “Mostly bags o’ flesh and walking bones. Stuff that can break and bleed. Nothing wispy like ghasts, thank… whoever.” Ruk avoids making comments that could construe him as being a devotee. “I heard say that there may be someone massing an army of these things in Haumea somewhere, but it’s just a rumor. Doesn’t matter anyway! Nuthin’ my men and I can’t handle.”

Shamgar grunted at the offers of condolences, a sound that could be taken as a thanks… of sorts. Things hadn’t ended well between him and the Band of the Hawk. A few of the new recruits that Nelson had brought in were amatuer cleric-hunters, and once he caught them giving him odd looks from time to time… looks he knew quite well, there was no doubt about whether or not to part ways very soon. He hadn’t gotten out soon enough, and he was pretty sure Nelson wasn’t pleased with waking up one morning to find that one of his sargeants had deserted in the middle of the night, and five men (all of whom had earned reputations as cleric hunters) all dead from melee combat.

He listened to Ruk talk about undead with a detached air, toying with several squares of fine cloth about the size of a handkerchief laid out on the table next to his whetstones, stretching them taut across stripped and smoothed branches and waving the construction idly back and forth. Obviously displeased with the results, he grunted and began making adjustments, changing the angles ever so slightly and attempting it again. Giving the contraption another wave he gave a slight grunt of satisfaction, very slight, before dismantling it and slipping it into his pack. He’d been working on it occasionally for almost a month now, and he was nearing perfection. Feeling a pressure on his lap, he looked down to see that Wolfgar had awoken from his nap and was in need of attention. A smile of genuine affection crossed the normally cold face as he grinned and scratched the tiny cub behind its enormous ears.

Blaine, curious, crosses the room quickly, creeping up behind the distracted Shamgar very carefully so as to not wake the animal snoozing happily on his lap. He leans in close behind him and snakes his hand about, careful to avoid the napping cub. Stopping a few inches from the cloth-and-stick contraption. He hisses quietly in his ear “What, pray tell, is that?”

Wolfgar sat up and yawned for a moment before settling down and returning to slumber. Shamgar seemed somewhat upset that his pup’s sleep had been nearly disturbed, but his attitude hid it quite well. “It’s a miniature version of something I’ve had an idea to make,” he replied hesitantly. “It’s going to be attached to a length of string which can be held or anchored. The cloth-bound end will catch wind and stay borne aloft.” Feeling as if this needed some explanation, he added, “I got the idea from watching eagles riding… what are they called?” he snapped his fingers repeatedly in irritation as he tried to recall a word, “Has to do with heat… hot air… Thermals! Eagles riding thermals.”

Scene 2 – Final Report

The party reports back to HQ cold and weary but ultimately not too much worse for the wear. Captain Masaki provides them warm drink and food upon your arrival. After giving them a little time to shake off the bitter chill, he requests the report on the sites visited as well as any recommendation as to where the settlement should be centered.

The door to the chamber opens, Hoerig enters, walking in backwards while trying to hold the door open with disheveled heaps of rolled up maps and mismatched sheaves of parchment bearhugged in both his arms. “I think, I think I’ve got everything you’ve asked for. Some of these maps aren’t that recent, but they’re pretty detailed fo…” He finally turns around, seeing the assembled group, and turns to the contact. “Oh, sorry, I can come back later if this is a bad time.”

“No, please, enter.” Captain Masaki stands and relieves you of a few of your parchments. “We were just discussing the ramifications of your success—assuming you came back of course.” A chair is placed at the table for you and mugs are moved to allow for your visual aids. “We are all very interested to hear what you have to tell us.”

“Well there was some nomads but they wern’t much trouble.” Thud interjects this statement nonchalantly.

“It appears you have done quite a bit of work with these maps. Impressive. Can you give us more detail on each location – whether it is suitable for a settlement or not? And what of Sgt. Ruk? Still alive and grumpy I assume?”

Blaine steps forward to assist the newcomer with some of his documents. He snorts and nods. “Correct on both accounts. As for the locations, well…” He gazes around at his comrades, looking at each of them in turn and frowning. He then lets out a heavy sigh.

“I would reccomend Gwe… Gwa…” Shamgar replied, becoming visibly irritated with his inability to pronounce the name. “Gwe… ca… mar.” He coughed with frustration and quickly glared about, daring anyone to comment, “The remains of an old town are still there. A lot of the buildings are in poor shape, but even the ones that would just need rebuilding still have their foundations laid.” After a moment to pause and let the information sink in before continuing, “We couldn’t find a ready source of water, though, so it might be best to send some people with some experience in digging wells..”

Hoerig rolls one of the larger maps out, faded in some spots but mostly legible. “Sorry bout that” he mutters as the ends roll over a parchment someone was scribbling on. He fishes through the pouches about his person for a moment, looking for something and seeming upset when a short, narrow tube scribed with runes is procured.

He leans away from the object as he utters a command word, “Montblanc” with fingers placed on specific runes. Everything seeming to be normal, he begins to update the map with the arcane pen, ink magically flowing out from the nib.

The assembled council nods, some whispering things to one another, others taking notes of their own. “We shall take your recommendation into consideration,” another one nods.

The meeting finished, the maps updated for the HQ’s records, Hoerig grips the pen again and utters another arcane command word, “Le Boeuf”. He arches one eyebrow, aware that something is wrong, and jerks the nib of the pen away from the map, towards his clothes. “Le Boeuf!” he utters again, not before a tiny torrent of ink cascades out of the pen onto his tunic. “It’s a nice tool, when I can get it to work…” he says to the onlookers, acting as if this happens all the time.

“Very well. This is what we have decided to do,” Captain Masaki states after some deliberation. “We will be dispatching two groups within the next 72 hours, as we wish to waste no time with either task. One group will be returning to Guecumar to begin building the settlement. Its mission will be to protect the builders from any harm while construction begins and assist in the build itself while you are there. A larger, permanent garrison will follow shortly. The second group is to report to Sgt. Ruk at Ft. Kront and follow up on the undead attacks. Since there are currently only 5 of you, we have brought in additional support.” Within a moment, four additional adventurers enter the room.

Walt Treestep enters.

Darnis enters the room using a greatspear as an impromptu walking stick. The spear has an innate glow that illuminates the large scar across his left cheek. After giving a quick nod to Captain Masaki, he finds a spot to wait for further instruction. While leaning on his spear, arcane energies seem to flow into the weapon from his outstretched hands.

Umalli the Mad emits a snort. His hair fettered with baubles and fetishes, the half-orc curls his upper lip and scans the room of recruits. “Anyone who wants to follow me will find a friend in Kord himself, I reckon.” Impressed with himself, Umalli leans against a wall, resuming his arcane babblings.

“Bloodhound” Grafton Hubert (David) is a older human (you think) dressed in an assortment of hides and furs and armed with a pointy stick. He stalks into the room and seems to be sizing up the other new arrivals.

“We have suggested groupings for you as well. You are not required to follow these groupings exactly if the other task seems more to your taste, but we must have at least three of you going to each location.”

Hoerig smiles at the council. “Guecumar it is.” He nods to those who’d be his companions.

Thud smiles at his assignment. “Good! maybe I’ll be able to find out why the 17th Calvary was stationed at Guecumar.”

Grafton nods in agreement. “Never been there. But been close. Know the terrain.” He pauses for a moment, waiting for someone – anyone- to talk. “We’re to help with the building and protect the settlers?”

Scene 3 – After the Meeting

As Shamgar leaves the meeting, he is approached by one of the councilmen. “I noticed that among your findings, you have acquired the Tome of Twilight Boughs? I have more than a passing intellectual interest in the book. A sort of personal side benefit of suggesting the Guecumar site. The tome indeed holds some power – power that you may find useful… If however you have no use of it, I will gladly take it off your hands for you.”

Shamgar met the man’s offer to take the tome with a threatening glare, his razor-sharp teeth seeming to become unusually prominent in his maw as he replied, “None shall take this book as long as I am its keeper.”

He is clearly taken aback at Shamgar’s ferocity but remains undeterred for the moment. “Think carefully, friend. Certainly your appearance makes things difficult for you.. and your choice of.. profession, shall we say? Not everyone is as easily convinced by your ‘wizard’ story. Having a book like this can greatly help your cause and I can help you master this book.” He meets your gaze. “I will not force my case anymore right now. You will seek my help soon enough.” With a flourish of his hand, he wraps his coat around himself and leaves.

Shamgar watched the man leave, anger bubbling in the back of his mind. He fought the urge to reach out and snap the man’s neck with one hand as he stormed off in the opposite direction, heading for the barracks. This was no easy dilemma, for certain. He would certainly not relenquish this book, not by any means whatsoever, but was destroying it the wisest choice? If the artifact was as powerful as the elf leader and the councilman made it seem, it would be an invaluable aid towards the pursuit of his goals, but if the power it held was as dark as the elves had told him, then it would certainly need to be destroyed. He decided to leave the building altogether and walk the streets, seeking out a secluded area where he could pray to the Battle Lord for guidance.

Hoerig watched the exchange from afar, hearing only the few heated words. Seeing the councilman walk off one way and the dragonborn another, the half-elf ran off in the scaly wizard’s direction, papers and maps sticking out every which way.

“Hey, wait up!” A metre or three behind him, Hoerig called out, shifting as much as he could to his left hand, arm, shoulder, and chest. “Magistrates like that tend to go a bit soft over time, I’d just as ignore him.” He held out his right hand. “Name’s Hoerig, you in the group going out to Guecumar again?”

Thud grabs Hoerig by the back of his neck “Trust me lil’ guy you don’t wanna get on his bad side.” He smirks a bit. “And I’ll be da one who shall be accompanying you to Guecumar,” he continues, letting go of Hoerig. “Shamgar over there is heading back to the fort though i wish he’d come with us; the council seems to see it fit he goes there instead.”

Grafton moves up quietly behind the pair, watching and judging the two Masaki said would be joining him on the journey to Guecumar. He silently eyed-up the two, evaluating their strength and dominace. So far, Thud seemed the clear alpha of the pack.

Hoerig chuckles. “Well, good to know, you’re right though, a man like him,” he points at Shamgar “seems like he’d be a huge asset to one’s team.” The half-elf grins, “Though I wager we’re more than able to handle what ever gets thrown at us. So, you’ve been up there before, anything specific we need to take or be prepared for? I wager you left out a few of the drier details when talking to them,” he jerks a thumb back to where the council had met, “and I’d rather be over prepared than caught unaware.”

While this is going on, Billywig approches Shamgar as he is about to leave. “Mr. Shamgar, Sir.” Billywig says, nervously. “I just wanted to say Thanks. You saved my life when we had that run-in with those Elves and I owe you for that. Just let me know if there is anything I can do to repay you.”

“Think nothing of it,” Shamgar rumbled nonchalantly in reply, “I’d never stand by and watch while a soldier gets killed if there’s something I can do about it- And it’s not like you didn’t do the same for me against that undead warlord.” He gave the halfling a quick nod before stepping out of the council’s building and walking into the winter streets, laden with drifts of snow.

Hoerig and Thud had made themselves known, so Grafton continued to keep an eye out for their fourth member: Blaine. He was unsure what to make of the comraderie between Billywig and Shamgar. But Shamgar was clearly the dominant figure, after his reaction to the councilman.

“Ok heres the gist of it mate.” Thud begins explaining the necessary preparations. “We’re gonna need to bring plenty of water and digging tools. We also should bring some lumber. There is an old barracks there thats mostly intact so we can rebuild that up.”

Shamgar made his way into the local park, currently seeming to be apparently devoid of inhabitants. The poor weather and the setting sun were probably the cause of that, he assumed. Tightening his cloak around himself he ventured deep into the park, intending to take himself out of the view of any civilian. That councilman had been a fool, thinking he could blackmail a battle cleric of Tempus. The last man that had attempted to blackmail him had wound up split down the middle.

He’d gained no honor from killing such a spineless worm, but he hadn’t had any choice. Kill or be killed, that was the law for divine casters these days. Feeling sufficiently secluded, Shamgar knelt amongst a stand of trees and drew his knife. It was no weapon, but it was sharp as the nine hells. Pulling off his left gauntlet, he quickly cut a gash across the back of his hand. The blood dropped onto the snow, melting it and staining it red. The spilled blood would attract the attention to the God of Battle more powerfully to his prayers. Planting the haft of his Namefather’s axe firmly in the ground, he knelt before the holy relic and began to sing a brief hymn to Tempus, quietly enough that the trees drank nearly all the sound, before praying to the Battle Lord to grant him wisdom in the matter of how to deal with the ancient tome.

As Shamgar kneels within the grove and completes the song, a gust of wind sprints through the trees. The Namefather’s axe falls backward on the flat edge of the metal, blade pointed straight up.

Thud hears a soft whisper in his head “I must take leave, Hoerig.” He pats the warlord on the back knocking him over as he heartily laughs. “I must resupply my special stocks.” He hastilly leaves the chamber and heads to the parks following Shamgars foot steps but try to make sure to stay hidden from notice. Finally catching up to him he sees Shamgar praying and watches calmly as the axe falls “Whoa – I guess Tempus still got some followers after the war.” He slowly walks up to Shamgar and kneels next to him “I guess I’m not the only mate who still prays; I couldve sworn you were just a war mage but I guess that means my old hunting skills are getting a bit rusty.” he chuckles a little “Would you mind if I joined you granted that I may have had more than a large part in purging the lands of religion.” He takes a deep breath. “I have found peace through that which I helped destroy.” He takes out a small symbol of The Raven Queen. “You know she led me here… to you that is,” ans Thud begins praying.

Shamgar lifted his axe from the ground and examined the blade in awe. A true sign from his god… the axe fell, and rather than hiding the blade- the destructive end- from sight as it should have done, it fell backwards and showed him the side of violence. The answer was clear; the tome must be destroyed. “I had a feeling about you… never would’ve guessed a follower of the Raven Queen… how portentious, though. I pray for guidance from Tempus for what to do with this book and my axe falls blade-up- something not normally possible- and a devotee of the goddess of death reveals himself to me. The book clearly must be destroyed.”

Pulling the tome from his pack, he throws it to the ground and swings his axe overhead, biting its blade deep again and again. Once the book had been reduced to shreds, shreds which he was careful to keep from fluttering away, he knelt by it and used his flint and steel to light it, then slowly fanned the sparks into life. As the flames consume the book, it screams. Not with sound sensitive to the ears, but with a magical resonance to those without formal training in Arcana. It is the scream of animal instinct, of power escaping a container not enlightened sentience, but a scream nonetheless.

In response to the horrible scream, Shamgar feels a chill run down his spine, the proverbial wall he had built up around himself and his emotions penetrated by it and instilling him with a brief sense of dread. Instinctively he clutched at the scale chestpiece of his armor. A number of the scales were almost unnoticably reddened, and if one were to take the time and examine it they would recognize that it formed an upside-down t. It was the closest thing to a holy symbol that Shamgar dared carry, bearing only a minor resemblance to the symbol go his god.( normally represented by an upward-pointed sword surrounded with flame). The touch of those scales brought him comfort and endurance, and he continued about his grim task.

He carefully nursed the flames until the book had been completely consumed, and once the ashes had cooled he scooped them into an empty pouch. I will spread a pinch of these ashes throughout my travels, never twice in the same spot. That way nobody will be able to ever recover enough of the book’s remains for anything but the most powerful of spells to restore it. He sang a hymn of thanks to Tempus for his divine guidance, then stood and stashed his axe.

Once Thud had finished his prayers, Shamgar extended a hand to help him up. “So how long have you been a follower of the Raven Queen?” he asked as he helped the man to his feet.

“I have followed her ever since a cleric of hers saved my life.” He points to his mask “This mask allows me to breath and The Raven Queen sent it to me in the hands of the ghost of a cleric that I had slayed not too long before.” He takes a deep breath. “She spared me from a slow painful death of suffucation and in return I devoted myself to her.”

Blaine exits the meeting hall, yawns mightily, stretches his arms, and gazes about curiously, surveying the scene. After observing the trio gathered in the courtyard for a bit, he begins ambling toward Thud, Grafton, Shamgar and Hoerig. He stands silently, arms crossed in front of his body waiting to be noticed, and softly clears his throat. When they turn to look at him he silently regards them, frowning, making eye contact with each of them in turn for a few seconds. Then he grunts, a sly smirk creeping its way across his lips. He simply states, “You’ll do.”

Thud looks at Blaine quizically, “What do you mean we’ll do?!” He breaks out into a large bellowing laugh. “I’mm interested in seeing how you and these green skins do!”

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Session 1: The Long, Cold Road
Setup

The PCs are given an assignment by their contact at the Varunal Expeditionaries to seek out and report on the status of 3 possible locations for a new settlement and arcane research facility. Each location had been abandoned for some time and only in the stalemate of winter is it safe to explore without engaging in border skirmishes with Quaor. They are also asked to check in with [[:Sgt. Ruk]] at [[Ft. Kront]], who has not reported back in months.

Site 1 – Guecumar

Tullie (Tiefling Assassin) locates a caravan headed up by a terse colossus headed toward Quaor in the general direction of Guecumar. The party signs on as guards (mostly) to help ensure safe passage across the cold plains toward Quaor. Along the way, the caravan encounters a band of nomads who demand a toll before they will allow the caravan to pass. Billywig (Halfling Sorcerer) flexes his arcane muscles and, aided by Shamgar (Dragonborn Cleric) and Thud Iron-Fist (Human Fighter), convinces the nomads of their strength. The nomads respect the show of force and leave peacefully. The party is dropped off near Guecumar with a note of credit from the colossus, but must still fight biting winds to reach their target. Failed attempts to build igloos leave the group shivering and ruin some of their precious travelling supplies. Still, they make good of what they have and reach the city.

Upon reaching Guecumar, the party finds the city structurally intact while most of the goods have been long since pillaged. The area is rich in magic, but lacking a fresh water source. The party stays in old barracks that once housed the 17th Chericlo Cavalry – men Thud knew well. In the middle of the night, strange lights from the north entice the party to enter a teleporting temple to the old elven Yuir gods. After solving a couple short riddles, they find a strange book called the “Tome of Twilight Boughs.” Unable to translate much of it, they grab the book and run as the temple once again disappears into the Feywild.

Site 2 – Lake Ashane

The landscape only grows more hostile as the PCs travel to their next destination – the shores of Lake Ashane. The party is attacked at dusk by hungry wolves seeking their food. The party easily dispatches the wolf pack and is able to restock using wolf meat and pelts to keep warm and moderately well fed. A makeshift raft carries them down the river to the lake itself.

Game is abundant and the land is fertile despite the cold weather elsewhere. The area is oddly temperate due to a strong nature spirit in the lake that protects the surrounding forest. Shamgar manages to catch a small fox cub he affectionaly dubs “Wolfgar.” In doing so, he stumbles upon a shrine to the nature spirit. He is unable to properly commune with the spirit and so arouses the wrath of its followers – a tribe of feral elves who have been kidnapping and magically brainwashing others to increase their ranks. The party manages to break the spell on two kidnapped elves and escort them to safety.

Site 3 – The Fyrward Foothills

It seems that the Expeditionaries’ sponsors are not the only ones interested in this old dwarven fortress! The rescued elves lead the party directly where they intended to go in the first place and back into the welcome arms of their tribe. The tribe, who call themselves the Sennhei, thank the party profusely for bringing back some of their lost alive. They explain that some of their number were “possessed by evil spirits” and broke off. This group – now called the Liirwel – operates out of the lake shrine and a ‘floating castle.’ The party believes this castle to be the Yuir Temple and shows the Sennhei the Tome of Twilight Boughs. The Sennhei beg the party to take the book elsewhere and destroy it for the safety of their forest. The fey magic that ties the book to the land is too strong and will not allow the book to be altered unless taken far away. After noting the strong defensive capabilities of the plateau but also the apparently frequent rockslides, the party leaves on the last leg of the journey – to Fort Kront.

Site 4 – Fort Kront

In an attempt to climb down a steep, snow-covered cliff, the party builds a large wooden toboggan and rides down. Unfortunately, the log is difficult to steer and the party is thrown out, losing more of their precious supplies in the snow. As they approach the fort, they learn that it is under seige by a legion of undead. The orcs and half-orcs in the fort are able to hold their ground but are too few in number to break the enemy leadership. [[:Sgt. Ruk]] orders the PCs to take down the skeleton warlord commanding the undead troops. Thud is shocked to learn that the warlord is none other than his old lieutenant from his time in the Chericlo military! He warns the others about the warlord’s tactics and only after a difficult fight in which both Thud and Shamgar are dropped does the party defeat the warlord’s bodyguards and prevent them from using the necrotic fonts set up nearby to continually reanimate the troops.

Treasure

An ritual scroll of Arcane Lock
Hunter’s Flint
Outdoorsman’s Conditioning
80 gp in ritual components (30 Religion/50 Arcane)
100 gp in nuggets and assorted coinage
340 “banked” gp (as renown for their exploits, payment from the colossus and fees from the VEx)

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