Zane: Age of Enlightenment

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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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 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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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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Downtime 2a

Before the party stands a menacing sight. A pool of brackish green water is surrounded by a slight circular hill of earth, maybe 40 meters in diameter. Standing within the circle makes one somewhat lightheaded. The light shines differently here, as if it were being refracted through water rather than air. The menacing part, though, is the geyser of purple-black necrotic energy erupting from the pool of water. This is a henge, but something is definitely wrong.

“What in the nine hells is wrong with this thing, Treestep?” Shamgar whispered in his rumbling baritone, resisting the urge to prod the foul surface of the pond with the haft of his axe. There was no telling what would happen if he did that. “This is your area of expertise, after all,” he grunted. He’d never even seen a henge before, all he knew about them were the bare basics… It didn’t take an expert to know that this was something horribly wrong, though. There might be a way to purify it, though, if he could just think of a way to be alone.

Walt looked at Shamgar, for a moment wondering how much his comrade knew of henges, and took on his usual sing-song voice, as if this henge didn’t scare the snot of him. “Hmmmm … I know very little of such things,” he lied. “I know that sometimes arcane energies can pool in certain places, but I’ve never seen such a place before.” He skirted the edge of the pool, making a sudden cartwheel to relieve some of the tention, but watching the pool intently all the while. “She seemed to be drawing energy from this thing, but I have no idea how.” He bent down, his nose an inch from the pool, staring intently. He sneezed (on purpose, of course), and smiled at the group. “One of the nice things about being a jester is that we don’t have to worry about where our power comes from … I like to think that it’s my incredible wit and dexterity.”

Splayed around the pool in various directions are even more pieces of bodies, but nothing coherent. As the PCs walk around examining the place, there is a sound like a wind blowing through a log and then a foot appears just a few paces behind Tullie. Nothing attached to it, just a foot. It doesn’t seem to have been used in a while.

Tullie looked over her shoulder and gave a look of disgust before turning around and bending down to pick up the foot. “Well, I think a hand would have been more useful…but I guess a foot will do,” she stated jokingly before tossing it over her shoulder. She stood back up and turned around, staring at the pool of water. Being the daughter of a succcubus and a very lonely summoning wizard left one with a fairly high tolerance for the strange, unusal, and downright macabre. “But I thought jesters knew all about these sorts of things?” she asked, moving towards the nasty water and grabbing the foot again on her way there. Curiously, she prodded the surface with the appendage’s big toe. The water ripples as the foot hits it and the toe wiggles and jerks slightly, but ceases as soon as it is pulled back from the water.

Shamgar grunted in surprise as he saw the dead foot come back to life, then just as quickly lose its vitality. Suddenly struck with an idea, he pulled one of the religious books they’d collected (a text of Bahamut, thankfully written in Iokharic) and announced. “I think I might be able to use one of the rituals in this book… it’s a pretty simple one, and it might be able to clear this up…” He approached the pond and began acting as if he were performing a ritual based off the Draconic script in the book, when he was in fact performing the memorized ritual to create Holy Water, burning incense as a component to empower the spell.

The necrotic energy erupting from the pool subsides, though the water itself is still brackish and murky. A faint necrotic aura is still detectable around the pool. The ritual works—for now.

Shamgar surveyed the pool with a mild grunt of satisfaction. He was a battle cleric, not one of those dress-wearing pansies throwing light beams around. But they were more skilled at magic, that was no doubt. Giving his area of expertise, there was no surprise that he hadn’t been able to completely purify the water. With another grunt, which a dedicated student of the half-dragon’s mannerisms would recognize as an indication of frustration, he turned and thumped his way back into the surgery room to see if these necromancers had kept any journals or left any paperwork around.

The main thing of note Shamgar finds in terms of paperwork is a letter addressed to Morgana stating “I am pleased to hear of your progress with the henge. I have no doubt you will be a fine arcanist, and that you will turn the tables on those who doubted you. Continue to contact me as you learn and I will assist you as I can.” The letter is signed with initials in Iokharic that would roughly translate to Common as “kE Qo’ “

Walt stood, patiently watching the others study the henge. He remembered a time, long ago, where he’d taken similar steps to figure out what they do. This one was different, of course (he heard they were all different in one way or another), but their curiousity made him feel nostalgic. For a moment, he considered what it would be like to create a Jester Court, right here, right now. What if he told his companions his secret? Just laid it all out, and shared the power with them? Walt laughed to himself (which was nothing out of the ordinary), shook his head (which was a bit odd), and stood silently watching the pool (which was, indeed, quite strange). You can only slice the pie so thin, he thought. No. Only I know how to harness this henge, so only I will do so. He looked around at Tullie and threw his arms wide, “Most jesters know nothing of such things, but I … well, I am a brilliant arcanist!” He did a standing flip, pretending for a moment to lose his balance and almost fall into the pool, then breathing heavily in mock fear for a moment for comedic effect. “I will use my incredible abilities and,” he smiled broadly, “powerful mind to unlock these secrets.” He took a bow, as if putting on a show (which, indeed, he was), and knelt next to the shore. His smile faded, and he began the difficult work of creating a new Charter with this henge. This shouldn’t take long …

The henge responds to Walt’s will, tentatively at first as if wondering what happened to the awkward halfling. This is, of course, silly since henges aren’t actually sentient. After a moment, the henge ‘forgets’ its previous paramour and slowly opens its secrets to Walt. As Shamgar leafs through pages and Walt communes with the henge, voices can just be barely heard coming through the entry to the cave.

Shamgar hurries back down to the henge, the papers that he had found upstairs tucked under his arm. Attempting to move as quietly as possible, he rounds up Tullie, Walt, Billywig, and the recruits. In a hushed growl he murmured to the group, “Some people are coming through the cave. We should get ready for anyone who might be coming through.”

Walt looks up from his work, a bit flustered and, perhaps, angry at the interruption. Oh well, he thought. Charters aren’t exactly precise. I suppose that will do. He stood and, to the surprise of his friends, he wasn’t smiling when he turned around. “There’s something wrong with this place. I tremble to think what could happen if it fell into the wrong hands.” Walt walked up to Shamgar, arcane energy arcing across his staff, and spoke in a soft voice that held as much weight as he could muster. “If these people know of the henge, they must be put down. We cannot just allow them to pass by us, for the sake of our world.” He lowered his voice further, with the intent of only allowing Shamgar to hear, “Truth be told, I’m not entirely comfortable with how much these recruits know.” Walt gave a meaningful look at the recruits milling around and tightened his grip on his staff. It sparked red for an instant, and Walt smiled.

Tullie gasped audibly at Walt’s thinly veiled suggestion. “But Mr. Treestep!” she exclaimed, placing one of her tiny hands on his arm, looking up at him with big sad puppydog eyes, “These men have worked really really hard and risked their lives to help us! Why would they betray us now?” She gave him a pout, but her free hand was held very casually at her side, ready to quickly draw her blade if need be. She had no particular love for these recruits, that was true, but she’d be damned if the time she’d spent training them for trickery would go to waste because of one crazy elf. Something about this man’s attitude made her slightly uncomfortable…

Shamgar reacted differently, snarling with disgust. “How far would you be willing to dishonor yourself to protect a pool of magic pondscum?” he growled, his own hand not so subtly grasping the haft of his axe. Tempus must surely weep to see such actions suggested, even in this age of so-called enlightenment. Many things were forgivable in battle or war, but even suggesting the idea of wholesale slaughter of men sent to be trained by you was simply disgusting. “Right now these men aren’t a threat to this pool, they probably don’t even know what it is. I was raised in a wizarding academy and I barely know a blasted thing about it other than what it’s called. A more certain threat is whoever those voices are that are approaching us… Odds are it’s not the WinterSmith and his little helpers coming to bless us with candy and toys for being good boys and girls.”

The voices grow slightly louder as they pass into the main hallway. “Someone’s been through here already – several someones, actually, and they’ve done quite a number on the place…” “By the Spiral Tower, what the hell happened to THAT thing?!” “What was it in the first place? No, I don’t even want to know. Let’s just keep going.” There are three voices and maybe 4-6 sets of footfalls echoing across the mushroom forest.

Shamgar frowned as he heard the voices approaching. “They’re getting closer, it doesn’t sound like they were involved with the necromancers here but that doesn’t mean they’re friendly at all.” He started moving up the natural-hewn corridor, motioning for the others to follow. “Walt, you and me take up spots by either side of the door. If they’re enemies, it forms a natural choke point where we can take them down. Tullie, you and Billywig hang back. Billywig can catch them at a distance, and Tullie can use her jumping-through-shadows power to move around in their midst and hit them hard while the rest of us distract them.” He nodded, drawing his axe and holding it at the ready in case it was needed.

Walt nodded, not surprised by the reaction. He had no illusions about the life of an adventurer, but he had a feeling that his companions still believed that good men never died for the greater good. Perhaps they just dig themselves out of their false graves, and into their cloudy kingdoms, he smirked to himself at the neievity. Walt made to move into position, but, guessing that he had another moment, he leaned across to his companions and whispered, “Magic pondscum it may be, but, to the bottomfeeders of this world, it may as well be gold. If word of this place gets out, we may find that we are guilty of more than merely half a dozen murders.” Walt began to turn away, then turned back again, “However, if you want those deaths on your hands, I’m willing to hand you the dishonor on that one.” Walt’s serious face melted away at that, and he giggled slightly and moved into position. A bit of mad prophet. A bit of unstable joker. He giggled again. My favorite combination.

As the group begins to slowly cross the rope bridge, they can make out some faces and outlines. The leading man is a half-elf; he wears leather armor and has a villainous-looking face with jet black hair and a goatee. He carries a dagger in his left hand. Behind him is a placid human in chainmail. He takes in the scenery with an almost unnerving calm. A figure in purple robes stands on the other side, apparently unwilling to cross the bridge. He calls a name and a large hawk appears out of nowhere, swooping him across the chasm on the other side, where Billywig and Shamgar landed initially. It disappears as quickly as it came. A cursory glimpse as he disappears into your peripheral vision reveals that he is a fairly young boy, maybe 15. The half-elf reprimands him “Pelagius! Stop it with the stunts already! If you get hurt your mother will visit upon me horrors the likes of which the world has never seen.”

As the half-elf nears the end of the rope bridge, the boy cries out, “Uncle Mir, I think I hear something. Wait!” There is a tense couple minutes. Nobody moves. A tiny black rock snake emerges from just under the surface of a patch of loose earth and skitters between Billywig and Shamgar. After a moment, the half-elf’s voice is heard again. “Don’t worry about it, Pelagius. The Moon rests in the Scales this night and Delban wears the Crown. There is no need for unnecessary violence.” There is the sound of a dagger being sheathed in a slim, metallic scabbard.

Shamgar tightened his grip on his axe, his lips pulled back to bare dozens of razor-sharp teeth in a silent snarl. This group was sounding less and less friendly with every passing moment. He wasn’t sure who Delban was, who this Pegasus kid was, or what all this talk about scales and moons was about, but none of it sounded good… and maybe just a little familiar. It did that thing, the one you had four of but everyone said the four like it was part of the other word. Either way, this kid seemed to be the weak point of the group. He was a skilled magic user for certain, but that wouldn’t do him much good with a blade to his throat.

Gesturing to Tullie, he motioned to the approaching group and indicated the kid, gesturing with a hand at about the kid’s height for emphasis. With a couple of ‘poof’ gestures, and a gesture that was unimstakibly ‘use your shadowy movey thing to get over to the kid, grab him and put a blade to his throat’. Shamgar was more than capable of using subtletey when called for, but he found the stick worked better than the carrot when you were as ugly as he was.

Tullie looked from Shamgar, to the kid, then back to Shamgar, raising her eyebrow at him. She crossed her arms and shook her head in defiance. She wasn’t going to take advantage of a kid, though she wouldn’t admit that she herself was still a child, then again, she did consider herself an adult woman.

“We can see you two back there!” the kid shouts. “Don’t think you can hide!” Then, as if to prove he’s not bluffing he continues, “Uncle Mir, there’s a halfling and a.. dragon? A halfling and half-dragon in that room and man, does that dragon have a big axe!”

Shamgar gave a grunt of annoyance at being discovered, lowering his axe but not stowing it. He assumed a posture that seemed more relaxed, but in reality his muscles were taught like a coiled spring. The kid at least wasn’t dangerous. Any decent warrior wouldn’t have given away the fact that he had knowledge of enemy positioning. “Who in the nine hells are you people?” he grunted, resting the haft of his enormous, immaculately maintained blade across his shoulder. 

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Downtime 2b

“Well,” Grafton mutters, “This is a fine mess Shamgar got us into.”

“Yea i have to agree with you there” Thud mumbles ” well what are we going to do with this tree?’ Darnis walks around the tree, trying to remember where he had seen it before. “Ah yes, this is an Eifa Tree, the berries can help replenish us and the leaves can be made into armor. From what I remember, this tree should be able to be replanted at the surface, which would give us a supply of its offerings. Although we aren’t quite able to get back to Guecemar at the moment it seems.” Grafton circles the tree, sniffing it occasionally. “We should ask the druid if the tree is hers. And we have these eladrin. Do we kill them?”

“I don’t think we kill them, yet, at any rate. They might not be trustworthy, but they have knowledge of this place that we don’t. Like maybe how to get out of here and out of their hair.” Hoerig turns to Grafton, “Think you can talk that dyrad back there into helping us out, she may be the only guide…” he looks back to the corner of the temple where the remaining Eladrin had been corralled into, stripped of weapons, ”...well, reliable guides we have at the moment…and maybe take Darnis with you, he seems to know a bit about the tree as well.”

“The rest of you, these Eladrin may have been doing some sort of foul religion craft, but they don’t seem to be heavily invested in it. Your thoughts on trying to get them to help us out of this situation, this is their home turf after all, and we’ve proven ourselves more than capable to ruining their day.” Hoerig grins at Umalli.

‘I do not recall them debating keeping the wolves outside alive.’ Grafton thought to himself. He motioned with his head at Darnis, gesturing towards the exit.

“So are you going to let us live or not?” one of the eladrin asks. “We’re not from the Feywild, you know.” states another. “This temple is going to warp back over at the full moon and we can all go home and.. forget this ever happened?” Recall that the moon is in its waxing quarter phase right now, meaning it will be a week before the next crossover.

Hoerig turns on the charm just a bit. “You can see we’re in quite a situation. Unknown wilds out there, and uneasy allies in here.” He points to the Eladrin speaker and his compatriots.

“Tactically, it would be wise for us to be rid of you, but I’d like to think Mama Eidaenda raised me to be better than that.” He smirks. “So, pray tell, is there anything you can share with the rest of us here to put our minds at ease, if we were to take on your help over the course of the following week? Otherwise…” Hoerig casts a knowning glance over towards Umalli the fey slayer, letting the unspoken threat hang in the air. He chuckles, “Displacer Beast got your tongue?”

“If this temple is so unstable, how can you be sure that it will teleport back at the full moon?” Darnis looks over at Grafton and mumbles under his breath, “Sounds like a ruse to try and save their own hide. Lets go talk to the dryad to see if she can help guide us while we are here.” He then walks down the hall back to the pool where the dryad was last seen.

Nimiwi has managed to pull herself up against a wall where she appears to be in some kind of trance. One eye opens at your approach. “That didn’t take you long,” she quips, “but did I hear right? We’re in the Feywild?”

“It would appear that way. I was hoping that maybe you would be able to assist us while we are here? The Eladrin are saying that the temple will teleport back at the full moon, although I am not so sure they can be completely trusted.” Darnis pulls a berry out of his pack from the Eifa tree. “Also, you warned us not to touch this tree, but I can see no reason for this. Does the tree have any special meaning to you?” He extends his hand and offers the berry to her.

Grafton grunts in agreement with Darnis’ questions then remembers some vague lessons in manners, “And my thanks for the totem. The hunt went well with it.”

“I’m glad it worked well for you,” Nimiwi continues, still somewhat dazed. She stares at the berry for a moment, a clear look of quandary on her face. After a moment, she sighs and accepts the fruit. She quietly whispers ‘forgive me’ in Elven to no one in particular and proceeds to methodically grind the berry between her front teeth, extracting as much of the juice and pulp as possible. Darnis recognizes this as a basic alchemical technique for maximizing magical potential of raw ingredients, although she doesn’t strike him as being much of an artificer beyond that. “I will not ask you what you do with the Eifa tree from this point forward but please plant it somewhere if it has any value to you. To dryads and most other fey, it is a sacred tree.

“Assuming we have to stay here the entire week, will the Eifa tree die before we can get it planted or can it live like this for that long? I would like to personally tend to it and ensure its safe arrival into Guecemar.” Darnis fondly remembered the Eifa tree that he tended to while growing up. It would be nice to have something to remind him of home.

Now as to the matter of returning home, the accursed ritualists are correct.” She hisses those last words. “The temple crosses the barrier at each moon phase – full, new and quarters. We need only last here long enough to ‘catch a ride back’ as it were.” As if struck, her face suddenly grows dour. The berry has obviously helped her regain mental clarity. “Who are you anyway? What are you doing out here?” She reaches for her totem defensively, and then remembers she gave it to Grafton.

“We’re helping repair an abandoned town. Told strange things were happening at the temple. So we stopped the ritualists.” Now the dryad has confirmed the story of the eladrin, Grafton turns and rejoins his pack, telling Thud what Nimiwi has said.

“Well we have to at the very least gather some supplies so we can survive here until the full moon”

“We should scout the surroundings. Make sure we’re not in anything hostile’s territory.”

“You’re in the Feywild,” Nimiwi manages a snort, “so you’re always in hostile territory. As long as we’re here, you should make the best of it. There are a number of resources here you may find helpful in rebuilding your town. I would be willing to help you locate and obtain them – with some conditions, of course.”

“And what praytell may these conditions be” A quizikal look cover Thuds face “I am sure we will be able to accomodate them”Thud boasts confidently “Oh and the Eifa tree, I think, with your permission of course, that it would fit perfectly in the middle of the town center as a symbol of the unity and co-exsistence we must hold with nature” he smiles.

Nimiwi is pleased at Thud’s idea. “Your appearance is deceiving, metal man. You look as through you rely on strength of body, but your mind may be just as sharp. My conditions are simple – a limit on the size of your settlement and a promise to stay away from certain areas of the surrounding wilderness. Civilization and freedom can offer each other many benefits.”

Thud takes out a small map of the area and a pen and ink “lets mark the areas now so it can be set in stone… so to speak.” he chuckles a bit “and on the back we can write out the contract” Leaving the alpha with the Nymph, Grafton slipped out to glance outside to make sure nothing overly dangerous was lurking outside the temple. He’d never smelt the Feywild before but all the hairs on his hackles were raised.He was uncertain if the eladrin would help them if they were attacked, but the extra hands might be useful. But he was not the one to try and win them over. Grafton sees nothing menacing outside at the moment.

“And just who in the wilderness is going to honor or even read that paper?” Nimiwi asks Thud in a similar tone of voice that parent would use to ask a child about her imaginary friends. “Paper may be fine when you have cities and governments to enforce such a thing, but out here no one owns the land or the rocks or the trees. We will need something a bit more.. binding. But let’s not be concerned about that just now. There are more pressing matters to deal with – the return of Berrian’s OTHER friends, for example.”

A serious look covers what can be seen of Thud’s face as he grips the hilt of his craghammer “What other friends do you speak of!?”

“He had contacts over here, of course. Not followers, exactly. More like business partners. I don’t know much about them, though. Still, anyone from the Feywild thinking about crossing borders into the natural world is probably not someone you want to immediately trust.”

“Well if he has friends here that could harm us we should hit them first before they even know were here.” Thud lets out a boastful hardy laugh and takes out his Craghammer and Heavy Shield “Now who’s with me on this! Lets strike the enemy at their heart so they are no longer a threat to our world!”

“A good hunt indeed,” Grafton agreed, “but we do not know where they are or where to begin looking. But we know it will be a week before the temple returns with us. That is a long time without food and fresh water.” The druid knew a few tricks to coax small spirts into leading him to water and cleansing water, but those required components. After a moment of thought he continued, “They might also have expected the temple to return and they might find us first.”

“You are most certainly correct, druid. They surely expect the temple to return. But if they are not already here now, then maybe the partnership is not so tight. In any event, you should go find food and water for us before it gets dark.”

View
Session 3a: The Pious
Now with +2 puberty bonus!

While examining the Mushroom Henge, the party is surprised by another group of adventurers, led by a Hyloneman half-elf named Mircolis and his human nephew Pelagius. The party attempts to hide, but Pelagius’ myriad of summoned creatures are able to spot them with plenty of time and distance between them. Mircolis’ group is not looking for a fight, however, and asks the party about the henge nearby. The party recounts the events of the last few hours and in return Mircolis offers them another job; another ruined temple nearby is also spawning undead. Mircolis’ group was unable to break through to it, though, and so could not investigate. He offers them the sum of 150 gp to travel with him to the ruins and deal with whatever is causing the undead uprising. The party agrees after a few more questions.

On the way to the temple, Pelagius’ swarm of rock snakes senses something. SEVERAL somethings, in fact. From behind rocks and trees, a skeleton raiding party that has been chasing Mircolis’ group appears. Swordsmen and archers led by a wight attack the group. Walt leads the countercharge and despite cartwheeling around several swords and arrows, it does not take the skeletons long to whittle him down, putting him in a very precarious position. Billywig perches atop some pillars nearby and hurls lightning with impunity for most of the fight. Havoc ensues when the wight numbs Shamgar’s legs for several rounds, preventing him from moving to help Tullie and Walt with the swordsmen. The assassin is followed closely behind by the swarm of recruits as she attempts to prevent Walt from meeting an untimely end. Both Tullie and Walt are bloodied multiple times and the recruits’ formation is completely broken, sending them scattering and rendering them useless. Eventually Walt and Tullie drop one of the skeletons, only for him to be reanimated by the wight! Shamgar and Billywig punish the wight mightily for this transgression. Goblin skeleton archers continue to dart between trees and fire but are wholly ineffective. Finally the two swordsmen fall under the combined assault of the three melee combatants; Shamgar and Billywig mop up the archers in short order. The party arrives at the temple but is too exhausted to continue and must camp outside the temple.

The next morning, Mircolis requests the use of the recruits and offers one of his own men in replacement. The party chooses Pelagius for his summoning talents. A holographic tile set maintains the barrier into the ruins, clearly place here by Hyloneme arcanists to prevent (or at least slow) the leakage of undead into the area. Once the party puzzles out the symbols, they are granted access into the temple. They also find an odd, gaudy cloak attached to a dead body outside of the temple ruins. The cloak instills Shamgar with a momentary thrill of bravado and flashiness as he dons it.

The party is met by several ghostly clerics who address Shamgar directly as “The White Dragon” and compliment him on the fine choice of bodies he has brought this time in sharp contrast to his usual load of garbage. When they ask if he will assist in the slaying, the time for discussion is over! The ghosts get the jump on the party and force them into a pretty tight corner, marking the frontline fighters and pounding the group with area attacks. Shamgar trades breath attacks with spectral dragonborn haunting the ruins but finds himself on the losing end. Walt makes a brilliant play against the bone warlord, dragging him away from Shamgar at his weakest moment with a haunting tune of his own. It also allows Tullie and Pelagius to launch a counterattack and with Pelagius blocking key positions with his summons, Tullie shows just how dangerous a connection to the Shadowfell can be. Billywig once again escapes nearly unharmed. Eventually, the party surrounds the warlord and drops him.

The temple contains mostly old, broken things with the exception of some recently consumed food scraps – far too recent for the ghosts inhabiting the temple. Walt locates another necrotic vortex like the one underneath the Mushroom Henge, this one leading somewhere in the Astral Sea. Nearby are some platinum bracelets and gold nuggets. They also find Content Not Found: Pious, a tiefling ghost who asks for their help. Though he has (mostly) gotten over the grief and suffering of being slaughtered at the hands of anti-religious zealots, his brothers in faith have not and continue to attempt to avenge themselves using the bodies of the dead. He asks the party to stand with him and convince his fellows once and for all to stop their madness and cross over to the next life. Unfortunately, the other ghosts are much stronger than Pious and it is all the party can do to keep him in his right mind in their presence. He gives up and crosses over alone, leaving the party to deal with the dead clergy. Several partially materialize and attack the party, wishing to claim their bodies. All except for Tullie, of course, who is only 15 and convinces the ghosts that they don’t want her body since she “hasn’t hit puberty yet.”

Shamgar wrestles with more dragon-themed enemies, attempting to forcibly rebaptize them in the hopes that it will force them to cross over. Walt and Pelagius together take on a couple rotting zombies and have little trouble keeping them under control, though not re-dead. Tullie occupies another two by herself. Billywig spends the first couple rounds running from one until his staff spontaneously discharges a tremendous blast of pent-up electrical energy from all those lightning spells and fries the monster. Shamgar also discovers firsthand some interesting properties of these particular undead – first, that they are wildly weak to thunder damage and that they explode when killed! Fortunately, no one is in the blast radius as Shamgar bats the abomination several meters away before it explodes in gore. Walt performs a similar trick later in the fight with another one. A final lightning bolt from Billywig’s new “boomstick” ends the fight.

Treasure: 300gp of Karma for putting the clerics to rest, albeit forcibly.
3 Ghoststrike Oils
+1 Staff of Storms
150 gp gold payment from Mircolis +25gp in nuggets
4 platinum bracelets worth 50 gp each
Grandiose Cape of the Mountebank

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Session 3b: The Panther Whisperer

Prologue

The party finds itself stuck in the Feywild for a week with nothing to do, so Nimiwi suggests a plant native to the Feywild that would help rebuild Guecumar – moonflowers. A tall blue-petalled plant with a long stalk, the moonflower radiates light whenever the moon is visible. The flowers are useful as streetlights and vermin control. While Nimiwi does not know exactly where to find moonflowers, she suggests that if the party explores the area long enough, they should find some. The group relieves the remaining eladrin of their weapons and gear and locks them in the temple so that they can not leave or reach Nimiwi. Darnis plants the Eifa Tree to keep it alive. Umalli stays behind to guard the place.

Day 1

Day one sees the group travelling to the south and west of the temple. The search is largely uneventful except for a road that leads to the west, presumably towards civilization.

Day 2

The party veers off the road when they notice an old abandoned mine complex to the south. About half an hour into the mine, the party finds a previously untouched and obvious vein of platinum across a series of precarious platforms. (Grafton? Blaine?) ties a rope around his waist and the rest of the party acts as a counterweight should problems occur. He does not get very far before one of the platforms shifts heavily and the party must pull him back to safety. Thud, unroped and in full armor, has no trouble crossing the platforms to the ore. He picks up a tool to begin loosening the ore, but stops when he sees the ore glowing strangely and a boot sticking out from underneath a rockslide. Unwilling to touch the ore, the group debates about how to proceed until Hoerig volunteers to handle the situation. Trusting in his normally annoying propensity to disrupt magical items, Hoerig begins mining the vein. Almost immediately, rocks fall from above and then stop in mid-air. Thud and Hoerig step back and in a moment, the rocks continue their descent. Once the trap has been triggered it takes very little time to harvest a good chunk of the platinum ore.

Fresh from their experience, the party continue on toward town. Where the road ends and continues toward a tunnel, a gnomish boy is surrounded and threatened by myconids – living, man-sized mushrooms. The party hesitates, not sure how to approach the situation (if at all) but Thud grows impatient and charges into the mess. Thud holds one of the more humanoid myconids at bay while Grafton launches seed grenades and vines into the midst of the myconids. He takes down a couple of living spores, but in doing so releases a mass of pollen and spores. The gnome boy coughs and chokes on the pollen, quickly going unconscious. Hoerig charges through the cloud of spores and administers a healing potion to the boy. Grafton, Hoerig and Thud bear the brunt of the attack while Blaine and Darnis deal with a swarm of not-entirely-sentient mushrooms reacting to chemical signals released by the other myconids. Darnis is bloodied several times but is personally responsible for the sauteeing of hundreds of tiny mushrooms. Hoerig and Thud falter briefly under the effect of some hallucinogenic pollen, but keep the myconids from break through to the back ranks. Once the swarm is defeated, Blaine moves in to add weight to the party’s counterattack, annhilating another guard. Thud takes the opportunity to land a terrible blow to the myconid leader and he retreats, swearing vengeance. Hoerig and Grafton easily mop up the remaining attackers, protecting the young gnome.

The gnome identifies himself as Nednis, a native of the nearby town of Tarmek. He admits to purposefully provoking the myconid’s nest since “there aren’t usually so many of them.” The party gives him a tongue-lashing (that may or may not have been very effective) and then learns that Nednis’ neighbor Willys grows prize moonflowers. Nednis leads the group to his neighbor’s house; the neighbor is not entirely happy to see Nednis safe. The boy continually harasses Willys, breaking windows and muddying up his home with his rough-and-tumble play. Willys shoos Nednis away and is initially unhappy with the PCs for their heroics, but softens a little when they express a desire to purchase some of his moonflowers. A fierce debate ensues in which Grafton and Darnis show off their superior knowledge of tending to obscure flora. Hoerig threatens Willys with bringing Nednis back to play. They wear Willys down to the point where he offers to sell them two dozen of the flowers for 20 gp. The PCs accept and politely take their leave. The party also meets a very colorful shopkeeper who sells them an enchanted hoe that ‘aerates and releases the inherent magic of the soil.’

Day 3

The day begins with the party coming across an abandoned town much like Guecumar. Around the town, bizarre amorphous will-of-the-wisp-type spirits roam. In the center of the town, a ghostly scene replays over and over again. A low-ranking seargent of the 17th Chericlo Cavalry stands over a mass of ethereal corpses, bemoaning his fate and inability to protect his men. The seargent repeats his speech every few minutes. Thud attempts to use his special life-sustaining armor (which contains an aspect of the Raven Queen!) to attempt to force the seargant to “cross over” but he ignores Thud’s commands. The rest of the group dresses Blaine in some salvaged military gear and he bluffs the seargent into thinking he is a superior officer. The seargant relates a tale of the Cavalry being teleported into the Feywild trying to banish the Living Spell but becoming disoriented and defeated. The group assures the seargent that he needs to return to HQ and report this situation and that they will ‘take over from here.’ The ghost crosses over, leaving behind a shield bearing the crest of the 17th Chericlo Cavalry – a rearing bull on a green field, surrounded by spears laced with waving blue ribbons.

Continuing their exploration, the party finds a brownie, back to a cliff, being threatened and stalked by two panthers. They move in to help, but Grafton determines that these panthers are in fact not wild but trained since his wild empathy has no effect. This realization triggers an ambush by two brownie rogues who are handling the panthers and the ‘cornered’ brownie himself! The rogues push Blaine and Thud toward the cliff, who must grab on to the edge to avoid falling into certain harm. While hanging from the edge, they are pelted by bolts from brownie magicians below, forcing them to move and dazing them. Meanwhile, Hoerig, Grafton and Darnis engage in a deadly dance with the brownies and panthers who tend to disappear and teleport repeatedly. The battle is long and difficult, with both Leaders expending all of their heals and both Blaine and Hoerig hovering nervously near death’s door. Once the rogues are gone, Grafton is able to tame one of the panthers. The magicians are nowhere to be seen.

Treasure:
The Shield of the 17th Chericlo Cavalry
400 gp worth of platinum ore
+1 Duelist’s Bow
150 gp of karma/good luck for saving the kid
130 gp

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Downtime3a

The sounds and ethereal lights of the cleric ghosts subside as the last one falls. The chapel is strangely still – the faint thrumming noise that the party ignored due to its constancy is now obvious in its absence. The powerful necrotic vortex still whirs in the silence, the occasional flash or spark is released and arcs across the room.

Shamgar held his axe tightly, having meticulously cleansed the blade in the water of the baptismal pool, whispering the words to purify the water and make it holy again as he cleansed the rotting flesh, disguising the rite by incanting the mantra in the language of the dragons. The water was nowhere near as powerful as the holy water he could have created by burning incense and incanting the full rite of purification, but it was strong enough to dissolve the rotting flesh still clinging to the ancient relic. Cleaning the weapon had let him focus his thoughts, to come to an important decision.

Having searched the building to contentment, the group returns outside where Mircolis and the rest await. “Well?” he asks. “We heard some shrieking and something flew out the window behind the temple. What happened?”

“Buncha’ ghost clerics,” he murmured in the accent he feigned in company too unfamiliar to be trusted, people found it easier to believe him a stupid brute and a hedge magician with that accent, “One’a em wanted the rest to let go, they decided they didn’t want ter and attacked us. We droved ‘em off, though.” He thumbed the blade of his axe, running the rough scales that lined his fingers and his palms across it slowly as if testing the edge, “But I gots ter stay fer a while. One thing them clerics said was that a white dragon comes here perdy often… confused me for him, each one of them. Could be that dragon and I have something we needs ta talk about, and I can’t leave without taking that opportunity.” Giving a glance around at the group, “I don’t expect y’all ter stay with me, I can forage and hunt well enough to keep myself fed for a few days. Just do me a favor and make sure the imp don’t put no bows or nothin in my pup’s fur,” he told them, giving Tullie a meaningful glare.

“Pfft,” Tullie scoffed, crossing her arms. “Like I would do such a thing. And besides, you think I’m gonna pass up the chance of possibly seeing a real dragon? I think not. I’m staying.”

Some of the recruits seem hesitant about the whole thing. “I’ve got kids,” one says. “I was just about to marry this girl and I’d rather not die first,” quips another. “If its all the same to you,” the tall one with the axe that is the de facto leader says,”we’d just as soon go back to Varuna. Or at least Ft. Kront.”

Shamgar gave the recruits a flat stare, scratching his chin as he spoke, “I said I don’t expect none of ya ter stay with me. The imp can stay if she wants, she’d probably just wanna stay even more if I told ‘er no. But meetin’ this dragon is my business, and ye can make it yer business if ye wants to, but I’ll meet this white dragon by me’self if’n I hafta. I can’t pass this up.”

“Ft. Kront, you say?” Mircolis replies. It would be good to resupply and find somewhere safer than these woods to camp out. We will return with you.” He then turns to the party. “Shall I take a message back for you?”

“Just make sure m’ pup’s bein’ fed,” the half-dragon grunted, picking a fleck of dust off the edge of his axe and flicking it away.

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