Dornath

OoC adventure log 11/6/09

So there we were in Brindol getting ready for the trip down to see The Dark Man. The previous day we had all gone our separate ways – John to see his halfling friend, Tor to the temple, Raughnall and Wolff to go bake brownies, Orrin with his not-quite-adopted little scamp. Later that afternoon we regrouped at Cicely’s tavern, which is just off the main square of Brindol. We observed a commotion in the square and when we checked it out it was Harrik (http://www.obsidianportal.com/character/15570) with a couple prisoners, all set up to have hisself a good ole fashioned lynchin’. Orrin recognized one of the prisoners as an old childhood acquaintance of his from the clansmen territories up north. As we approached he recognized Orrin and begged us to intervene, said he was innocent and that there had been a huge mistake. The group argued with Harrik for a while, but only after Wolff and his perfect hair made a rousing speech to the crowd did Harrik agreed to allow us to interrogate the prisoners. We all went back to the local jail while John snuck off to get Eofram, who came down to witness the proceedings.

Then Harrik put the prisoners in adjoining cells and we got to work. Tor performed a very impressive version of his discern lies ritual, with lots of smoke and pyrotechnics. We then asked the tough questions. It turns out that the clansdude had a pamphlet o’ vecna in his backpack, which he had gotten from a local clanspriest. He couldn’t read, so he had no idea what it was. He reported that the clansfolk were getting more and more enamored of Vecna, since the clanspriests promised Vecna would restore the clans to power and prominence and blah blah blah. Oh and he hadn’t heard any recent news about Orrin’s sister. The other guy was a tavern owner who reported Brindol defense force troop movements to a couple Guild cronies for a few gp. Harrik still wanted to hang’em, so we argued with him for a while. After a few skill checks he agreed to set one of the prisoners free. Tor wasn’t too happy, but the rest of us were remarkably okay with that solution (especially John). So we set the clansdude free and sent him over to Cicely’s tavern to help her packing up and told him to guard Cicely and the kid as they evacuated up north and around to Sevenoaks. With another disaster averted, our heros slept the sleep of the just, woke before dawn, and mounted up on the owls.

Just before we took flight, Wolff gathered us around and said (of course I’m paraphrasing here), “Guys let me give you a hypothetical situation. Let’s just say, hypothetically, that there was a powerful mage who was into portal magic. And let’s just say, hypothetically, that he was married and had a son. And let’s just say, hypothetically, that the son thought the portal stuff was cool and started messing around with it on his own. And let’s just say, hypothetically, that during one of these unsanctioned experiments the son hypothetically made a mistake that hypothetically resulted in his mother getting sucked through a hypothetical portal to her death. Just hypothetically. Look, it was an honest mistake it could have happened to anyone, it’s not like I had… I mean, it’s not like this hypothetical young son had any idea what was likely to happen. In any case, if you can imagine yourself in that position then you can hypothetically guess what the hypothetical young son did next. That’s right, he got the heck outta dodge, and hypothetically he hasn’t seen nor spoken with dear old dad ever since. So now you know what we’re hypothetically heading into – a Very Special episode of Life Goes On, where Corky kills Elizabeth, runs away from home, comes back 25 years later, and gets the everloving snot beat out of him by Drew.”

The rest of us took it pretty much in stride, since it did help explain some of the shadowy past of “The Fixer.” We flew down south following the road, then headed west. Wolff reached back into his memory, and eventually he found the path to the house of The Dark Man. As we dismounted and approached the house on foot, we were greeted by a most interesting Igor-type character. He had two mouths, and tentacles instead of eyebrows. He greeted us, talked to Wolff about what had happened since he left, and told us all about the wonderful “gifts” that had been given to him. Wolff told us that Igor was always eccentric, but at this point the wheels had really come off the wagon. In any case, Igor bade us welcome into the house and told us that he hadn’t seen the master for some time (bad!). However, he knew where the master was (good!). The master was in the study, and the only way to reach the study was through the lab (bad!). However, Igor could open the door to the lab (good?). Given that there didn’t seem to be any other way to do it, we told him to go ahead.

John rolled a group stealth check and Igor opened the door. Inside we saw an octagonal room where the walls, floors and ceiling were covered with what looked like undulating, squirming flesh. In the middle of the room a big tentacley thing with a central eyestalk was planted underneath a dark portal. On successful perception checks we could make out two additional forms to each side of the tentacle thing, one hominid-like and one not. John kept up the group stealth and we edged around the side of the room, vaguely squicked out by the feeling of stepping on moving flesh. Once we were fully into the room the door slammed closed behind us, and the eyestalk swiveled around. Roll for initiative! We could have had a surprise round given our group stealth, but instead Wolff announced in a loud voice, “I am Wolff, son of The Dark Man. I have returned and I seek an audience. We do not intend any harm, please let us pass.” The only answer he got was the sound of readied attacks, and so combat was joined.

John went first, and he attacked the creature to the left of that resolved itself into a gorilla with four arms and more rubbery skin than usual (henceforth called the ape). I’m not entirely clear who else was able to attack in the first round. When it came round to the turn of the tentacley thing (henceforth known as the Abominable Abomination, or AA for short), it stunned us all. Suck. Then the ape thing attacked John with all four arms and did a ton of damage. The other form resolved itself into a blobby thing with a lot of mouths, also known as a Gibbering Beast or Gibby for short), which moved over to stand by AA. Wolff (I think) saved, and cursed and attacked the ape. Orrin saved and charged the ape. Tor didn’t save, then Raughnall didn’t save, then John didn’t save. Then the ape attacked John again and took him to very few HP. Then AA attacked Wolff and his attack was against whatever was the target’s lowest resistance! Then Gibby went, and as a free action dazed everyone within 5 squares, and then as his standard attack hit everyone who was dazed with biting things coming out of our own skin, doing damage and ongoing 5. John went down. It turns out that was Gibby’s standard attack! He could daze us and attack all dazed enemies every single turn! Good grief!!

My memory gets hazy here, but things were looking really bleak until at some point Tor managed to pop his daily to give us all resist 5, which nullified Gibby’s ongoing damage. He also healed up John, and we all focused our attacks on Gibby. We eventually took out Gibby and the ape, and then the only thing left was AA. It was then that we discovered that AA had an insane number of HP (500? 600?), could teleport 3 spaces as a free action whenever anyone hit him with any attack, and when he was bloodied he sprouted two more eyestalks each with different initiative, so he essentially got three attacks per round. Again – good grief!! Basically the rest of the battle consisted of AA trying to hunt down Tor (to end the resist 5) while Tor ran away like a little girl, eating brownies like they were candy. As a strategy, it worked out fairly well for us, and on his last charge Orrin thrust his sword deep into the eyestalk. Bits of tentacley gore spattered everywhere, and we breathed a sigh of relief. In retrospect, given that these creatures were obviously The Dark Man’s prized specimens, we probably should have just knocked them out. Ooops. On the other hand, given that he was watching us the entire time and could have opened the door at any moment to stop the fight, it’s difficult to feel too bad for him.

On a meta-gaming note, Allan told us afterwards that AA was a 10th-level solo (the equivalent of five 10th level “normal” monsters), Gibby was a 10th level controller, and the ape was a 8th level brute. Allan didn’t actually intend for us to fight them head on – rather he meant for us to be severely harassed while we made a break for the door on the other side of the room. But he didn’t count on our bullheadedness! Also upon reflection it seemed to me slightly suspicious that there was a stunner and a dazer in the same group, something that seemed tailor made to mess with our uber-strategy of “Use Tor’s Daily.” :-)

In any case, after combat was done we all gathered around the door. There were eight locks on it, and a bunch of nasty-looking magical writing. It turns out that John had to make a Thievery check on each lock in succession. If he succeeded then that lock opened and he moved on to the next one, if he failed then he got zapped. AND, Wolff noticed that more shapes were moving around on the other side of the portal in the middle of the room, so we only had a few minutes to get the door open before more nasty stuff dropped on us. Wolff and Raughnall arranged themselves on either side of John, the idea being that if John failed a thievery check then they could attempt to shield him from the zap with an arcana check. The first time John got about halfway through when the dice gave up on him, and after he failed three times all the locks reset, and he had to start from the beginning. Luckily Wolff and Raughnall were on the ball, so he didn’t actually get hurt. The second time he ripped through all the locks without fail, and the door opened. DUN.

Inside we saw a comfortable-looking study, with The Dark Man and his associated servants, each more hideous than the last. The Dark Man was tall, bald as an egg (Wolff must have gotten his hair from his mother’s side), cool as a cucumber and totally unimpressed that we had just fought our way through his experiments. We on the other hand were ragged, bloody, and panting after having been nearly exterminated by what amounted to his pet potted plant. (Side note – just for the record, I WAS RIGHT! http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/nonplussed (Gee that’s a good idea Judson – go ahead and antagonize the DM some more. <imagines> Allan: “Okay so as you all leave The Dark Man’s house, JtB is extremely NONPLUSSED to discover that he’s um… dead. Judson: “Wha?! Why? How? Don’t I get a saving throw or something?? Allan: “Freak accident – spontaneous human combustion. Look, I wish there was something I could do, but I rolled a nat 20. No saving throw possible. And because it’s windy out, John’s ashes scatter immediately so no resurrection either.” Judson: “But… But… I spent all this time on a new character sheet for him! And what am I supposed to do while everyone else is playing?” Allan: “Well you could spend the time making a new character – maybe this time you’ll roll someone who isn’t such an effing know-it-all!”))

Anyhow, time for RP! Most of the conversation was between Wolff and his dad, and most of it was (as you might expect, given the situation) somewhat strained. The Dark Man was not particularly pleased to see his son again, at least not in the “crack open a beer and have a party” prodigal-son sort of way. At one point Raughnall (Martin) pipes up, “Oh man this is tense, I gotta say something to defuse the situation….. So, ummmm…. Hey Mr. Dark Man, how’s the wife? DOH!!” The actual dialog is of course lost to me – here are the high points as I remember them (other people should totally correct me if I’m wrong and/or add their own comments):

- The Dark Man was upset that we killed his experiments, we mollified him by pointing out that he gained some valuable knowledge as to their mode of attack and relative strengths and weaknesses.

- He asked why Wolff hadn’t ever tried to make contact with him. (Kids these days! They don’t call, they don’t write, for all he knew you were dead in a ditch somewhere!) Wolff responded with a rousing speech that he had dreamed of and dreaded this moment ever since he left. Not a dry eye in the place…

- Wolff appealed to The Dark Man’s academic interest, and told him that we had brought an interesting specimen along with (ie – John’s eye). The Dark Man flipped up John’s eyepatch, scraped around the socket with a scalpel, did a few other tests. He didn’t want to tell us anything, but I’ve never met an academic who could resist the “but you’re sooooo smart!” line. It turns out (once we got him into lecture mode) that it’s a portal to the Plane of Death, and it wasn’t put in John’s head so much as left as a residue after something infinitely more powerful was removed. Holy crapola! Supposition time – it looks like JtB was a mule for the Guild, they stuck some baaad mojo in his head and shipped him off to the Karatanians. Maybe the thing in his head was the source of the Karatanian’s army o’ monsters? In any case John would have made the perfect carrier, just like those sweet little grannies who swallow kilos of smack stuffed into condoms. And once the Karatanians had extracted the payload they tossed John aside and left him to die in prison.

- However, the Dark Man refused to tell us more unless Wolff agreed to return and be his apprentice. After much thought and deliberation (I’ll have more to say about this in a separate email) Wolff politely declined, citing his previous commitment – that is, his Fey Pact, the source of his warlock powers, which he made to the Lord of the Forest(?). Daddio scoffed at the mention of his pact (“acting like a trollop, making lifelong pacts with the first powerful thing to come along”), but respected his decision. There followed was some more speech-ifying from Wolff about the importance of experiencing knowledge first-hand by being active in the world, as opposed to merely studying it by holding it at a distance. You know, standard post-modern discourse on meta-ethics, the limitations of Hegelian idealism versus the obligations imposed by an over-reliance on the morality of empiric pragmatism, and the tautological fallacies implicit therein. Or something like that.

- We told The Dark Man about the attempt we made to contact the Ghostlord, and the appearance of Azar Kull. He said it was a good idea in principle, but when we asked if he would be willing to attempt a similar communique he declined. He said that although he wasn’t scared of Azar Kull he didn’t see the point in needlessly attracting his attention. He similarly declined to safeguard the phylactery for us while we were out and about. He also mentioned that the Ghostlord was totally out of our league – he would basically mop the floor with us if we tried to fight him directly.

- He then opened a portal to the outside, so we didn’t have to go back through his lab. Then just before we left he gave Wolff a diagram of runes in a circle. That diagram was basically his address – with that info if we come across any teleport rings in the future we should be able to use the diagram to teleport to The Dark Man’s backyard. Allan’s comment was that with our diplomacy checks and speeches and whatnot we had made a favorable impression on The Dark Man, but given his situation and his personality he wasn’t really going to go out of his way to help us, unless we were able to give him a good reason.

So for purposes of the next session, we can consider ourselves about to take our leave of The Dark Man. If anyone has anything else they want to ask him or things we want to discuss internally then we could RP that over email (if Allan agrees?). We also (AFAIK) have no idea what we’re going to do next. Some random thoughts:

- We should probably revisit the calendar and the invasion plan to see where things stand on a more global sense, maybe a short-term strategy will become clear. I don’t have the calendar in my folder, maybe someone picked it up? I think Allan was planning to post it to the wiki anyway.

- If we choose to continue to try to contact the Ghostlord, we could potentially flood the southwest region with tons of animal messengers, each carrying the same message: “Dear Ghostlord: Azar Kull and his minions no longer control your phylactery. You are free to withdraw your troops. Lions totally r0×0rz.” Or something like that.

- If we do end up fighting the ghostlord then we’ll want to do it away from his home turf (preferably on holy ground with lots of radiant damage squares), with some heavy duty backup, and after we’ve leveled. A lot.

- It occurs to me that events might find us rather than the other way around. I mean, we haven’t been exactly subtle about our exploits – flying around Brindol on owls flexing our thews, with our green-dragon-claw spiked gauntlets and Tor with his jaunty black-dragon-waddle cap. If Azar Kull has any spies or scrying ability whatsoever then he knows exactly what we’ve been doing, and may be plotting some sort of counter-attack specifically targeting us. It’s worth considering…

- Since we blew all our dailies, we may want to ask The Dark Man if we could take refuge in his house and/or camp out in the yard for, oh I don’t know, about 8.00 hrs or so.

- I can’t remember if we asked The Dark Man directly if he had any ideas as to the Ghostlord or Azar Kull or the invasion, or what we should do next? From a purely academic perspective of course, more as a gedanken-experiment than anything else. <ahem>

- Is Wolff’s mother actually dead? Or did she just get teleported to a different plane of existence? If she was married to The Dark Man then theoretically she would have been a pretty strong character in her own right. And we’ve all seen enough movies/tv shows to know that it ain’t over until you see the body, and often not even then. Did The Dark Man go looking for her? Would that be a possible personal quest for Wolff after we’ve taken care of good ol’ Blueface? We’ve got Orrin with his sister, John with the Guild, Tor with his necromancer, why not Wolff trying to find/save his mom?

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OoC adventure log 10/16/2009

It was a cold and windy night. As we stalked the deserted concrete corridors of learning, the echos of my footsteps sounded a mocking political smear campaign: “Flip-flop… Flip-flop… Flip-flop…” The taxidermy raptors in the display case and the mousepox culture incubating down the hall stood in mute testimony to the night’s dark fell dire fey events.

As we waited for the gathering to complete, we discussed tactics for the upcoming battle, and tried to explain 4e rules to my dad. Although he seemed a bit overwhelmed, he soldiered on nonetheless and acquitted himself quite well over the course of the evening. Then Allan spread out the battle map and we got down to bidness. We gave out a cheer when the owlriders came – four of them, all skilled in mounted ranged attacks. They approved of our plan, and were willing to serve as bait. We scouted out a shallow pond about an hour’s walk away from Rhest, and Raughnall prepared his water-lowering trick. He rocked his nature check roll, which meant that when the water drained out we got a 9×9 square of non-difficult terrain, which we arranged off to the side of the pond, such that the middle was surrounded by 10’ high walls of water, and the edge was bounded by the edge of the pond, which was then surrounded by swamp (difficult terrain).

We set the trap. First, we arranged ourselves for maximum effect and John did an assisted group stealth check (30!). Raughnall and Trellara were on the edge of the pond ready to cast ranged stuff. In the middle of the pond Wolff, John, Orrin and Tor were on a hillock. The owlriders lured the dragon and Wyrmlord perfectly so they flew low right over our heads. Then Wolff triggered his daily power, which allowed him to shift the dragon and rider down two squares onto the ground. Roll for initiative!

The dragon and wyrmlord won the initiative check, so they went first. The Wyrmlord taunted us defiantly and then hopped right back up on the dragon. Whups. So much for our grand plan to separate the two of them on the ground… He (the wyrmlord) shot two arrows straight into Wolff’s chest, doing a ton of damage and bloodying him immediately. Then the dragon cast a wicked zone of darkness, inside which he had total concealment (-5 for us to attack him or his rider) and anybody else inside the zone was blind (granting combat advantage). We settled in for a looong fight… The next turn Orrin found out the hard way that whenever someoen missed the dragon with a melee attack (fairly likely given that !@#$ zone of darkness) it got an immediate reaction tail lash attack. Then the wyrmlord targeted John and again bloodied him in one hit. Ouch. Things weren’t looking so good for our heros, so we started popping dailies.

First Trellara cast a daily (without sustain minor, which was important later) that gave the closest ally +4HP every time the dragon made an attack roll. Then Tor cast his daily with +5 resist, which also was able to knock the Wyrmlord off his dragon again. This time Orrin was in his grill, and it wasn’t so easy for him to get back up. John got the Wyrmlord with a crit, which (thanks to his shiny new dagger) dazed him for a turn. Then the dragon busted out his daily which was an attack vs. will to stun everyone in sight. It unfortunately got Tor so we lost our Pelor-inspired sustain-minor resist 5, but not Trellara’s +4 HP per dragon attack bonus. Then Tor cast the divine C.H.U.C.K. – my memory is hazy here, but I think we kinda ignored the dragon for a while and focused all our attacks on the Wyrmlord. Trellara’s daily kept the melee-types from going down, and our focus paid off when Orrin dropped the Wyrmlord (choosing to knock him unconscious instead of killing him).

At this point the dragon started having second thoughts, and positioned itself to make a run for it. By cleverly shifting instead of moving it was able to elude Orrin’s movement interrupt opportunity attack, but that meant it could only make a single move and ended up 8 squares away diagonally up and over. It still had 100HP left and we only had one turn to bring it down. Tor cast Command – and hit! There was some discussion about shifting it backwards vs knocking it prone. We finally decided to knock it prone, and everyone swarmed. We all spent our action points and made whatever attacks we could. I don’t remember who got the final hit, but we ended up doing an impressive amount of damage and took out the dragon before he could get back on his feet. WHEW.

Out of combat, time for RP. First we searched the Wyrmlord and the dragon corpse. Allan/Brian should correct me if I’m forgetting anything, but I believe we found a nice set of armor for Tor, a shortbow whose enchantment will be transferred to Orrin’s longbow, and a bag of holding with a bunch of cash from the dragon’s hoard. We also skinned the dragon just like last time, to bring back to Elf City with us. We tied up the Wyrmlord and Wolff busted out his brand-new interrogation daily (I see… FOUR LIGHTS!!). We got to ask six questions, shown below. Brian/Allan – could you fill in the blanks and correct me if I got anything?

1) Q: What is the one thing that the High Wyrmlord would most want us NOT to know? A: That he’s invading Elsvir Vale. Commentary: In future we need to add the qualifier “that we don’t know yet” or rework this question somehow. It did not have the intended effect.

2) Q: What was your plan for the Ghostlord? A: By stealing his phylactery we are forcing him to give us an army of undead to help with the invasion. Commentary: Cool! So the Ghostlord might not be a bad guy after all (well, apart from that whole being-a-lich thing)

3) Q: What is the connection between the Red Hand and the Arcadian Guild? A: They give us weapons, I don’t know of anything more than that. Guest commentary from JtB: Why doesn’t ANYONE know ANYTHING about the Guild??? They are evil! Evil! EVIL!!! (John wanders off to stomp some more spiders)

4) Q: What is the one thing we could do (that is within our power) that would most damage the invasion of Elsvir Vale? A: Stop the Ghostlord from adding his army of undead to the invasion. Commentary: Okay, so this is the answer that really drove a lot of our RP decisions for the rest of the evening.

5) Q: Tell us the name of every creature you know that is working to further the cause of the Azar Kull and the invasion of Elsvir Vale. A: A ten minute recitation of every single goblin, hobgoblin, wyrmlord etc that was known to him. Most importantly, no names of anyone we recognized that we didn’t already know about.

6) ??

When we were done with our six questions we gave the Wyrmlord over to the Elves for their justice. The Owlrider leader didn’t hesitate a second, and sliced him open from bottom to top with his longsword. Then John borrowed Chuck from Tor and finished the job with a squished skull. Raughnall and Trellar took the dragon corpse and started walking back to Elf City, while the others hopped on the owls and flew back to Rhest to make sure no stone was unturned. When they arrived in the middle of the lake, they found the tower a smoking, acid-pitted, claw-marked pile of rubble that was obviously the result of misguided draconic frustration. Good thing we didn’t decide to fight the dragon there! The hoard was gone, and we didn’t find anything else. After satisfying Tor’s curiosity, the heros headed back to Elf City, passing Raughnall and Trellara on the way.

At this point we took some time out for pizza, and Allan started furiously scribbling calculations behind his DM screen.

When we arrived in Elf City the party headed in different directions. John and Wolff went to see mumblemumblemumble the elf sage, who was the one person who might know something about his eyepatch. He took a look at the runes, then John opened up the eyepatch and the elf examined the interdimensional portal. After a while he told John to put the eyepatch back down, and he said that the magic involved in creating such a thing was very very powerful and very very evil. He (the sage) said he was not able to figure out why it was done, or what it was meant to accomplish. He said that he only knew of one person who would be able to tell me more, The Dark Man. He (the sage) furthermore said that he did NOT recommend that we seek this person out, as he was Bad News. Wolff concurred vehemently, and added that when he (Wolff) looked into the portal the face that came to him was that of The Dark Man.

Brief diversion about Wolff and The Dark Man. After lots of wheedling we discovered that Wolff wasn’t always sweetness and light and rainbow-colored ponies. In fact, hiding behind that golden crown of perfect hair is a veritable rats nest of tangled darkness. He (Wolff) used to be a student of The Dark Man, but they had a falling out and he (Wolff) fled to witchcross, where he was taken in by the Circle. We surmise that Wolff has since been working to atone for his previous badness, but The Dark Man still gives him the willies.

In any case, while John and Wolff were meeting with the Sage, Tor and Orrin paid a visit to the armorer who helped us out with the green dragon skin. It was finally decided that the armorer would take a week to make a set of black dragon-skin leather armor and have it sent down to Brindol by Owlrider when it was done. Tor also got a Jaunty Cap that was crudely fashioned from the dragon’s waddle. Meanwhile in the royal hut Trellara and Raughnall gave the Elf Queen a complete and total report on everything that had taken place in Rhest.

When everyone was done we were all summoned to the royal hut, and the Queen addressed us. She said that while her natural inclination was to remain neutral, recent events had shown her that that was no longer possible. She said that a contingent of elves had been dispatched south to Brindol to aid in the defense against the Red Hand. Furthermore she said that each member of our party was to be given an Owl to speed our travels overland. SCORE! In a moment of meta-gaming Allan told us that he had been keeping a running tally of all our actions with respect to the Elves, and we’d been given points for each success, including the funeral of Trellara’s brother. We apparently got a 15 (out of a possible max score of 20), which was good enough to convince the elves to help us out.

We spent another day in Elf City getting trained in the Care & Feeding Of Frickin’ Humongous Birds, and figuring out what we wanted to do next. There was much discussion of going back down the river by Drellin’s Ferry to go visit the Ghostlord, but in the end we decided that it was more important to get in contact with him as quickly as possible, and Wolff said that the Circle at Witchcross should be able to do that for us.

Brief diversion – retcon! Given that we spent some time in Elf City (and later in Brindol), we assumedly were able to walk around and take a look at the local wares. We also have a ton of loot that we haven’t really been able to spend yet. So you should tell Allan in general what you’re looking for in terms of magic items, armor or weapons, and he’ll let us know what was available that we could have bought.

So, onward to Witchcross. When we arrived we found it deserted, with only three of the inner circle left in residence. We gave them the phylactery and told them to send the following message to the Ghostlord, “The Red Hand no longer controls your phylactery STOP. You should feel free to pull back your troops at once STOP. Your actions will show us your true intentions STOP. We sincerely hope that you STOP.” The members of the circle joined hands into a (you guessed it) circle, with the phylactery in the center. They muttered their incantations and a GoogleMap™ of Elsvir Vale popped up overhead. They panned around and finally zoomed in on the southwest corner until we could see a sphynx-like structure that was the Ghostlord’s lair. At that point the picture blanked out to be replaced with a blue face that was obviously half-dragon. The only half-dragon that we’re currently aware of is the High Wyrmlord Azar Kull, so it’s a pretty sure bet that was him. He chastised the circle for meddling in affairs that they had no business being in and then started to reach for the phylactery. The members of the circle screamed in agony, and then just before his hand closed around the necklace the face disappeared and the three circle members fell down stone dead.

Ummmmmm….... well…... that was…... unexpected. We finally figured out that Azar Kull had the power to physically reach through the mental signal of the circle, and they killed themselves to prevent him from getting his grubby mitts on the phylactery. After a moment of shocked silence we retrieved the phylactery and prepared full funeral rites for the slain circle members. Now there was only one circle member left in the area, our old friend Zyrixa whom we rescued from the crypt of Rivenroar. Since we’d been meaning to go down to Brindol anyway to check in on Eofram, it seemed that the stars were aligned.

We arrived in Brindol in a much more heroic manner than when we last left. We circled around the city a few times in our shiny new owls, as Wolff’s hair was carelessly (and perfectly) blown by the wind, and Orrin flexed his mighty thews for the appreciative ladyfolk. Before we went in to talk to Eofram, Tor cast his ritual of discern lies, which effectively gave him a +40 insight for the rest of our conversation (hint – Eofram was telling the truth). We filled him in on recent events and asked him if there’d been any further news about the Guild or Xaivier’s key (nothing in either case). The one new piece of information that we got from Eofram was about the “Encryption Cardinal” from Xavier’s notes (the encrypted location of the cave of Fenris). Eofram told us that the encryption must have been done using the Conundrus Engine, which was an encryption device used by Dornath during the war. It’s a small box with lettered keys that can encode messages in an unbreakable code, which can only be decrypted by another Conundrus Engine. There were 5 of these boxes used in the war for passing coded messages. 3 were carried by generals and other high ranking officers in the field, including Xavier, and would have been destroyed in the Desolation Event. Eofram knows that another one was located in the capital of Sevenoaks, but isn’t sure where the fifth one was stored. The only way for anyone to decrypt Xavier’s code would be by using one of these Engines. Then there was some comic relief provided by John (we call it “comic relief”, Eofram calls it “breaking a priceless vase passed down through generations of my family”). Then we headed our different ways – John went to Smallville to talk to his halfling contact, Orrin and Tor went to have a beer with Cicily, while Wolff and Raughnall went to visit Zyrixa to give her the personal effects of the late Circle members, and to learn the recipe for those delicious medicinal brownies.

The last discussion that we had was about our next move. We all agreed that our next move should be to get in contact with the Ghostlord and try to get him to pull back the undead army. Although the three circle members were unable to withstand the power of Azar Kull, Wolff believes that The Dark Man is more powerful and may be able to get a message through where the circle failed. He (Wolff) is willing to pay the personal price required to face his old master if the outcome could be saving the world from evil. And John, while severely sketched about a magic dude who’s into powerful bad mojo, would really really like to get some answers about his eye, godsdammit. The Dark Man’s tower is in the forest just south of Brindol, so it’s a fairly quick trip. Our plan is to go there first, and if that scene turns hinky then our backup plan is to fly WSW, hopefully avoiding the Red Hand army already on the march, and go visit the Ghostlord in person.

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OoC adventure log 10/2/2009

When the Tower fight was over we were hailed by a group from the other building, where we could just make out a small figure flanked by two larger figures. Wolff hailed them in draconic, and after we failed to convince them that everything was okay, they told us to stay where we are. We pretended to misunderstand them, put the lizard skins back on and used a raft to get over to the other building. Our bluff and disguise worked again and we got within twenty paces before they caught on and Raughnall blasted them with lightning. Tor summoned his divine C.H.U.C.K and we got to work.

There were four ogres guarding the outside – figuring this was probably the last combat of the day (har, har, har), John blew through his dailies. We finally beat down the ogres, but the last one escaped into the building. When we got inside we found an Ettin and a hobgoblin mage. John did a sweet ninja move to jump down onto the last remaining ogre and knock him prone, then John cornered him and finished him off with (ta-da!) bluff to hide. Unfortunately at this point the mage dominated Orrin, and Orrin started attacking Wolff. The rest of us kept attacking the Ettin. Orrin failed his saving throw time after time, until finally (deciding not to push his luck) the mage ordered Orrin back into his room, where he disarmed him and locked him in a cage. After we dispatched the Ettin, we cornered the mage in his room until he decided to make a run for it. Note to selves – in future instances of cornering foes in rooms, whenever possible one of us should BLOCK THE DOOR. It’s also worth noting that despite Tor being dazed for 5 or 6 rounds and being knocked unconscious twice, somehow the combat-advantage grantin’ divine C.H.U.C.K. (sustain minor) managed to keep going through the entire fight. Gee, I wonder who had control of Tor’s character sheet? In any case, eventually Trellara got Orrin out of the cage and gave him his sword back, but the mage escaped onto the roof, until finally he jumped onto the docks, where he called for “his pretty.” We killed him shortly after that, but the damage had been done.

Out of an adjoining building came one of those same mutated half-dragon thingies that killed Trellara’s brother, with no pause to let us catch our breath. With all of us concentrating our fire on the dragonspawn thing, it actually went down pretty quickly, not nearly as bad as in the swamp. I think Orrin killed him with a crit on an opportunity attack. After the last fight was done Allan told us that this sequence was actually designed to be 3 separate encounters, where we healed ourselves in between each one. Whups. The good thing about continual combat was that Tor’s divine C.H.U.C.K. stayed with us, but the bad thing was that we burned through brownies like nobody’s business. Also, as a side note Tor was a monster this session – in addition to C.H.U.C.K. he must have crit at least 3 times, and he did essence of life down to 4HP to get Orrin back up and running.

After the final battle we divided the labor – Orrin and Trellara stabbed the eggs hidden in the dirt in the dragonspawn’s nest, John and Raughnall ransacked the building for treasure, and Tor and Wolff decapitated all the defeated foes and put their heads on pikes out front (each team playing to their strength). Then as the lizard men converged on us we arranged ourselves so as to be as impressive as possible and did a bluff check. It was long, drawn out and a very near thing, but in the end we managed to convince them that their god (the dragon) had deserted them and that they needed to follow him. They departed to the east with all due haste, and once they were out of sight we made tracks in the opposite direction. WHEW.

Among the treasure we found the following: - Lots of gold/silver, and a bracelet with a gem (non-magical) – Mark, could you tell me exactly how much gp so I can add it to the loot table? - Two silver cases (non-magical), one with a necklace in it, one with the imprint of where a necklace had been resting. We found a related note indicating that the necklace may be the phylactery of a Lich (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phylactery). Allan, my memory is hazy here – there are two necklaces, right? Did we finally work out that one is the real phylactery and one a decoy? Or do we not know exactly what’s going on yet? - A set of fancy bracers (magical) that gave John deja vu when he wore them. Maybe they give the wearer a second chance to do something? In any case, Orrin is wearing these now… - A cloak (magical) with lots of pockets that are deeper than you’d expect. John is wearing it, and for now he isn’t telling the others about the pockets. He is however going to practice surreptitiously placing objects into the pockets and taking them out again, to see if he could do that as (for instance) part of a theivery check or during combat. Almost certainly the cloak is some kind of bag of holding (woo-hoo!). - Plain, somewhat stiff leather armor (magical). John is also wearing this, but we don’t know what it does yet. The rest of the group is just happy that he’s finally covered up the codpiece. Allan, anything to add here?

In any case, about an hour after we left the lake we heard a draconic scream rend the night, which Wolff translated roughly as “F*CK!!” A little while after that we heard beating wings and John lead a group stealth check which we passed with flying colors. The dragon didn’t see a thing and flew on. We found a good place to rest and we made it through the night (thankfully) unmolested. DING!!!

Now it’s the next morning, and time to regroup. We all agreed that we need to go back and defeat the dragon (and his wyrmlord rider) before we can truly feel like our job here is complete. To that end we convinced Trellara to write a note back to the elves with the following: - A summary of the battles so far, including a description of the lich’s phylactery - A request for assistance with the dragon, specifically sending a few owlriders to force it to land and face us on the ground. - If possible the owlriders should bring a crapload of healing potions (whatever they cost, we’re good for it). - Oh and while you’re at it, could you also bring our wicked-awesome bad-ass dragon-hide Wolverine-claw guantlets?

Then while we wait for a response from the elves we’re going to scout out a good place to engage the dragon. What we want in particular is something with plenty of space for us to spread out, and not too much difficult terrain. Raughnall will prep his ritual to lower the water, so it’s not so swampy. Then we’ll lure the dragon out, and have the owlriders force it down to the ground, where we engage it. Now this is totally open to revision, if the owlriders think that would be too risky (if they’re likely to get killed doing it) then we can ask them to just drop off our supplies and then hang around to pick up the bodies in case of a TPK. It doesn’t really affect our strategy too much – if the dragon stays flying then we’ll use ranged attacks, it just means that Orrin in particular won’t be at his most effective.

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Letter to Saarvith

Letter found in Saarvith’s office in the ruins of Rhest:

Saarvith-

Take great care with the enclosed phylactery. I need not explain to you what the Ghostlord would do if he knew where I had sent his little bauble for safekeeping. Hide it somewhere safe- perhaps it could be entrusted to your dragon friend’s keeping? Keep it hidden until Brindol is taken. Should its owner recover it, the consequences to our effort could be dire indeed. -Ulwai

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JtB Journal Entry #7

Too much has happened since I last wrote, so I will summarize as best I can:

- At Vraath keep we defeated Wyrmlord Koth, and unearthed a treasure trove of information.

- We learned what caused the desolation event. Not the evil work of a corrupt and brutal guild, but a tactical decision by a seemingly well-intentioned leader with no other options available. My certainty in the evil machinations of the Guild was shaken.

- We learned of the coming invasion, and the certain death of thousands of innocents. I decided to put the Guild out of my mind for a while, and instead to do what I could to avert the coming tragedy. A nearby bridge was identified as a key pinchpoint for the army, so we decided to destroy it.

- On the way to the bridge we befriended an old giant named Warklegnaw, may his name be sung by the bards forever. He came with us to help with the fight.

- The fight at the bridge went spectactularly badly. Note to self – in the future, don’t jump from tall buildings.

- Eadric’s full treachery was revealed. I have to admit that even after my earlier bluster I was finally starting to trust the bastard. I was weak. And for my lapse poor Warklegnaw paid with his life, and we lost Xavier’s journal.

- In his final words, Eadric confirmed my worst fears about the Guild. More on this later.

- We regrouped after our resounding defeat, and we made a new strategy to bring down the vain and overconfident dragon. It worked perfectly – my serpent’s fang drank deep and delivered the final blow, after which Orrin cut out the vile creature’s heart.

- Jorr volunteered to track the traitor Eadric and gain what intelligence he could behind enemy lines. May the gods watch over him, and may his blade stay sharp.

- We headed back to Drellin’s Ferry and convinced the townsfolk to evacuate to Brindol or face certain death. We had only delayed the invaders by a few days, barely enough for them to get out.

- We also took the opportunity to interrogate the druid that Eadric had visited on our way through town. He was as shocked as we were to learn of Eadric’s treachery, and he had nothing to offer by way of explanation or possible motivation.

- The druid did give us more of those wonderful brownies, and he introduced us to a elven druid named Raughnall, and a human warlock named Wulff. Especially after our experience with Eadric, I am highly suspicious of all magic users. However, for the time being at least it seems that their interests coincide with ours. That is, the elf wishes to rid his homeland of the evil that has come to visit, while the warlock wants to protect his circle back at Witchcross. In these dark times we must use any willing ally, and they both have proved their worth ten times over in combat. Still, I must remain cautious.

- Then things got really weird. Don’t even get me started on the talking fish.

- We took the water route to Witchcross, and after some resistance we made it. Tor had a vision, and the circle had a prophecy. I’m sure it all makes sense to someone, but none of it changes what we have do.

- We cleared and burned the blockade, so now the northern route is clear. Those who can retreat will survive as best they can in the Clanlands of the northern tribes. Those who can’t will stay and fight.

- The druid has now led us into his homeland, our goal is to reconnoiter the ruined city that is serving as the temporary HQ and determine our next step. I hate these swamps – the mist conceals endless danger, sound echoes strangely, and my mouth and nose are constantly filled by vile insect swarms. How anyone can call these lands home is beyond my ken.

So, where does that bring us? I don’t know how, but I can feel the madness ebbing. Perhaps it’s the steady influence of my companions. Perhaps it’s these excellent medicinal brownies that our druid friend has provided us. Perhaps it was my all-to-brief time with the noble Warklegnaw. Whatever the reason, the fog is clearing. I still can’t face combat, I let Stabby handle that. But day to day, it’s getting better. Perhaps now is a good time to reflect, to gather my thoughts.

My memories of my past life are scattered and surreal. The Arcadian Guild was a good company, back when I started working. We made quality weapons and we sold them to the army elite, the people who were guarding our country. I first noticed something strange when our research department brought in some new mages. They were different than the rest, they kept their hoods up and didn’t speak much. That’s okay I thought, mages can be strange. As their sort became more numerous, I started gathering hints of a secret society inside the Guild, one that nobody seemed willing to talk about, whose members would advance far faster than their abilities or contacts could explain.

When the war came, it was heady times for the Guild – we won nearly every major government contract, and personally supplied arms for every important person. But I could see the inner group gaining in strength. Finally I decided to do what I could to figure out what was going on. In the desk of a co-worker, a friend of mine, I found a reference to the Fenris Initiative. When I confronted him about it his eyes got wide and he cowered in fear. He told me that he’d gotten in too deep, he couldn’t get out. He said if “They” knew how careless he had been, that his life was forfiet. He begged me to forget what I saw and pretend that nothing had happened. I calmed him down, assured him that I would be careful. He looked at me doubtfully, then turned and walked away.

Then there is a blank space, where my memory is just gone. I woke up in a Karatanian prison camp, half dead and with a blinding pain surging out from where my eye had been. My body had aged well beyond my years, as if they had taken my life force. The Karatanians used us for slaves, forced us to do all the dangerous or degrading work, and any that couldn’t keep up with their whips were taken away in the night. I never saw what happened to them, but I heard the screams, and the munching.

The only reason I survived at all was the giant that shared my cell, Crooktooth. He was a particular target for the guards’ abuse, since he was stronger and bigger than any of the rest of us. But he took everything they threw at him, and by night he taught me his language, and he taught me how to fight. I remember well how he would tell me “Surprise good! No one expect giant with daggers! You learn!” We made plans to escape, and I practiced opening the locks on our cell and shackles.

Then came the Desolation event, seared into my memory. The blinding light, the confusion and disarray. Our captors grabbed anything of value they could find, killing any prisoners they came across. Then we were overrun by the nightmare beasts, the ones we had previously only heard feeding at night. They were tearing everyone apart, friend or foe, and the guards started running. I got out of my shackles but I couldn’t find Crooktooth. I hid in a cesspool while the monsters finished their rampage, the stench concealing me while they sated their blood lust and moved on. I got some weapons and armor from a nearby body and I moved out in the opposite direction.

It took me years to get back to Dornath, surviving on my wits and occasionally my steel. Once back home I begged when I could, stole when I couldn’t, hiding in plain sight all the while. I tracked down every single name that I knew from my days with the Guild, and they had all disappeared. As if they never existed. Homes demolished, neighbors moved away, government records altered or destroyed. My last possible lead was an old-money family from Brindol that was heavily invested in the Guild, by the name of Rivenroar.

Now comes the supposition. As much as I would like to believe it, I don’t think Eadric was sent after me. I mean less than nothing to the Guild, otherwise I would be dead already. My name and my face have changed, so no one from my previous life should recognize me. No, Eadric was after the key and the journal. The problem here is that once we had it he willingly gave the key to Eofrom. Did he do that to gain our confidence? Did he assume that the Guild soldiers would be able to retrieve it at will? Or is Eofram in on the conspiracy? Based on my insight Eofram has always played straight with us, but I’ve been wrong before… Or maybe the Guild already has the key and what Eofram has is just a copy? With respect to the Guild, all indications are that it’s been completely taken over by the core of evil I observed. Also, I have no idea what they did to my eye, I can only suppose that I was the subject of some twisted experiment before I was shipped out. Perhaps I’ll start to remember more -

A scream rends the night, I must go.

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Wyrd Woman Prophecies

Two prophecies related by the Wyrd Women of the Circle of Eth at Witchcross. The first prophecy is said to involve the entire world.

Death is coming, moving inexorably toward us
Put into motion by the key to life or to death.
First will come the spirit of the mother to show the way.
Next will come the children, yearning to breathe free.
Finally will come the mother herself.
First will come the restless dead, hungering for life.
Next will come the fire, burning all it touches.
Finally will come the blackness, on the day of black sun.

The second prophecy is directed at you, or at someone you know personally:

Beware the bolt from above, which brings dreams of darkness.

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Letter From Eofram

Letter received from Eofram at Witchcross:

11 Pasturemonth, 1267

My friends-

I have received the two messages you sent by wing. If I understood your first message correctly, it sounds as though a dire threat has been awakened within the Wyrmsmoke Mountains, and that an army approaches. I could not tell from your brief missive whether this relates to our earlier troubles or the object that you had retrieved. The Council has mobilized the Guards, and called up the militia to stand with them. If the army marches to Brindol, I do not know if our walls will hold, but Pelor willing, we will be ready.

Your second message was equally troubling. My reading of it was that Eadric, your former companion, has betrayed us to the enemy. Can it be? At your suggestion, I have moved the object to a new location, which is known only to myself and one other person. I will not tell you more, lest the location be once again compromised, but the person who shares the secret is trustworthy, and will seek you out should the need arise.

I also understood your warning of the threat from within our walls. I admit I had earlier dismissed John’s fears as largely unfounded. But, with Eadric’s defection, the evidence now seems unassailable, and I have acted on it. Know that late yesterday, town guardsmen acted in a coordinated operation to take into custody the members of the Arcadian Guild who served alongside them. The Guild members did not go quietly, injuring several of the guard. Of the twenty Guild members who had been sent to bolster our ranks, fourteen were captured and placed in confinement. Two others were killed in the struggle, but another four, including their captain Garrick, escaped. Their current whereabouts are not known, although we suspect they are still in Brindol.

This morning a contingent went to the dungeon to interrogate the prisoners as to their purposes. All fourteen Guildsmen were found dead in their cells, tongues swollen and faces purple. Our healer determined that all had died by the ingestion of poison, which we believe had been secreted within a hollow tooth possessed by each man for this purpose. I conveyed a sample to Bazgan Firetamer, who identified it as Darkdream poison, a highly potent toxin which kills painlessly within moments. This mass suicide has convinced those who had decried my actions against the Guildsmen , Harrik Orenna chief among them, that the Guild did indeed have some execrable scheme to bring harm to our town. I believe that Brindol may once again be in your debt for your timely warning.

Please take this opportunity to send a lengthier accounting of your experiences. I believe that Vigor and the other messengers are trustworthy, so far as any can be trusted in these days. I am particularly eager to know what has become of Amery Vraath, as well as greater information about the plans of the horde you report is headed toward Brindol. I have also sent along two pigeons for you to keep me apprised of further developments.

May Pelor shine his face unto you in these dark times.

Eofram

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General Xavier Military Journal

Excerpts from the Military Journal of General Arrik Xavier

18 Meloramonth, 1252

We have been deployed, and marched across Dornath into Tarna. The Tarnacs have sent ten thousand troops to serve under my command, many of whom I faced in battle not ten years ago. But now we face a common enemy in the Karatanians, and war makes strange bedfellows.

Between the Dornathians, Tarnacs, and Fardwahs, my force is more than one hundred thousand strong. General Wilhelm commands a force of equal size, and marches to the south. We will encircle the Karatanians and crush them like a Colrani Pincer Maneuver on a massive scale. The tactics we have devised are sound. Once we engage the enemy, I will have a better estimate of their prowess, but I see no less than an 82% chance of complete success for our Allied forces.

22 Bloodmonth, 1253

We faced another contingent of Karatanians today. Their cavalry tactics are damnably impressive, and they rode circles around our own cavalry. Informed Sgt. Colins to double the horse training. Same story as the last two months. The K’s pushed forward with a predictable Ziegfeld Offensive, but succeeded in moving our front back several miles. We dug in, drove them back with a Willow Branch Maneuver. This dance grows old, particularly as the weather grows colder. The wind is bitter on these plains.

6 Horningmonth, 1254

Another goblin attack in the night. I don’t know how the Karatanians have gained their allegiance, but the greenskins are wearing us down. Three times this week, they have slipped through our watch, and attacked within the camp in dead of night. The men are fatigued from battles with the K’s during the day, now doubly so for lack of sound sleep at night.

One spot of levity in an otherwise dismal day. I have grown close to several of the men from Elsir Vale, as we talk about places we all have known. Eofram Troyas, Amery Vraath, Teleus Restan, old Sertanian, and I were sharing a drink and talk of home when the greenskin attack unfolded. The Elsir men jumped into action first, and led the charge to drive the greenskins back. When they returned to camp, Troyas tossed the head of an ogre to the ground and told me, “See sir, even in blackest night, we men of the Vale will be your bright spears.” And they are.

6 Fallowmonth, 1257

Yesterday a scout returned word of a strange cave. He sought shelter from the sun, and found a door, carved into the rock within the cave, with an enormous keyhole and strange carvings. My curiosity was piqued. I would ordinarily send my trusted Bright Spears to investigate, but they are leading an attack on a Karatanian camp. And so, after months staring at maps in camp like an old man, I longed to stretch my legs and my eyes, and went myself, along with Colonel Pelken and our bodyguards, as well as Lieutenant Astrel, a young man with great prowess and interest in things arcane.

(Here a square scrap of paper has been torn from the page.)

The locals call it the Cave of Fenris, and believe that it is the home of a great 5-headed wolf, called the Fenris, which slumbers until the end of days. The exterior of the cave was wondrous to behold, with carvings of great antiquity, and I longed to see within the door. Something about it held my attention, and insisted that I open it.

As we investigated further, in the nearby town we met a family that claims to have been the keepers of the Fenris Cave for one hundred generations. The patriarch, an elderly man with a gaze of steel, summoned us, and sat with me in silence for several minutes. He then told me through our translator that his god (whom he referred to as “Vanathor”) had told him that I was the the one prophecied to bring change to the world, and that I was destined to open the Fenris Door. He opened a carved box, and withdrew a key, placing it in my hand. Dumbfounded, I humbly thanked him and have now returned with my men to the cave. I know not what to make of this day.

8 Fallowmonth, 1257

Where to begin? We opened the cave door, and it was more wondrous, and more deadly, than I could have imagined. The complex behind the door was protected by guardians of stone and metal, fire and ice. My men and I used stealth and might of arm to make our way through the complex, the details of which I must be forced to recount at a future time. Of more than 20 men who entered the cave, only myself, Pelken, and Astrel survived. But I believe that the gains we made may have been worth the sacrifice of good men.

Two facts only will I document at this time. First, the artwork within the complex revealed many appearances of the creature the locals call Fenris. Many were of a five-headed wolf, but others showed a snake, tiger, or shark, each with five heads. Most prominent, however, were depictions of a five-headed dragon, which looked to my eye very much like the portraits of Tiamat I have seen within blasphemous temples. Astrel concurs, that these may be many aspects of the god we call Tiamat.

Second, upon reaching the heart of the temple complex, we found a great hall, with magical sigils covering the floor. Within this great hall were arrayed five enormous, scaly eggs, each nearly the size of a barrel. What Astrel could comprehend of the inscriptions indicated that these are the true children of Tiamat, which will someday hatch and bring about the end of the world. Beset by enemies, and not knowing what else to do, I directed Pelken to help me lift one of the massive eggs, and we ran from the temple, the guardians fierce on our trail. We slammed the door behind us and locked it, hearing the guardians howling with rage within.

We shall take the egg in secret with us back to camp, so that Astrel may study it. If these eggs are truly the children of Tiamat, the possible military implications are enormous, and should be further explored.

The precise location of the cave is below, encryption CARDINAL

AFLAFCNWEFSVADFLKNWOESVASKADNJVNADVIO ASDFJNVUWEJNKJHGHIUEHGRJNJNJHSGDFGHSUHJ DSFGJANNVHUIHWEHJHDJHVNDSFHAHVUHUHJHJA AKJFVIHEWUHJNDNFIOHBHJKHVCXZJHASDHIHJKH CVKLJADOIJJNGDHAJDFHIWHASDIOHJBVHIUAWEH ADFKLJBIUKTEHKHIADGKHBDIAOGGHDFHBKHJHDG GLKJSDOJINKSDFJKAFKLNJKVSDKJHFSDNJSDFHJS

28 Fallowmonth, 1257

Eight days ago, in the hills of Fardwahn, we faced down a regiment of Karatanians, in as fierce a battle frenzy as I have ever seen. Fully one half of their army was made up of creatures of nightmare- demons, walking corpses, writhing masses of black ichor, flying beasts with razored claws. The Karatanians are savage warriors, but they are still men. These were monsters, to whom the notion of fear is alien. The demons laughed as they ripped apart my men, and ate their steaming organs like candied sweetbreads.

This battle raged for nearly a week, and strained my ability to command, but, against all odds, we drove the enemy back. Our left column feinted, counting on the bloodlust of the enemy to draw it forward. The 3rd cavalry squadron rode from hiding, while the mages rained down fire in a Montreauche Strategem. I followed this with a Jomini Passant and a Boar’s Head from the ground troops to press the advantage. We killed thousands of their troops, but nearly as many of our own died in the process. At last, the enemy broke, but has taken refuge in the twisting valleys among the hills.

I have read the communiques from the other generals. I know that the demons that have aligned themselves with Karatania have become more numerous in the past three months. Somewhere in the Karatanian ranks, the demons pour through a gateway from a realm where their numbers are limitless. For each one we kill, five stand ready to take its place.

We are losing this war.

29 Fallowmonth, 1257

Another communique arrived from the southern front. Wilhelm’s army is broken. There is nothing to stop the Karatanians from marching across Deistricht and into Dornath. Sevenoaks will fall.

Haymonth 1, 1257

This shall be my last entry. I do not know if any will ever read my thoughts here, or the things that I have foreseen and written in my personal journal. A large part of me hopes that they will not. But, I shall confess my great sin here, in the hopes that the gods will know of my contrition and anguish, and see fit to grant me mercy upon judgment.

When this war began, I saw our victory in eight out of every ten paths. With each passing month, the paths of fate have converged, and our chances have become slimmer. I now see no course of action that will find Dornath victorious. No future in which our land is not a blighted haven for evil. No hope, save one. There is one path for which I cannot see the outcome, although I know that I will not live to walk upon it.

Lt. Astrel has continued to study the Egg that we removed from the Fenris Cave. He has learned that it is unlike a normal egg, in that there is no creature gestating within the egg. Rather, each egg contains a conduit to a realm of pure energy. It is from this realm, and by these conduits, that the children of Tiamat shall emerge at some time in the future. Astrel believes that the forces within the Fenris Eggs are held tenuously. Although the Eggs are harder than steel, given sufficient force to shatter one, the energy would pour forth.

We are losing our battles against the northern Karatanian forces, but we keep them engaged and unable to bypass us. By my reckoning, in one week’s time, the southern Karatanian forces will pass at their closest to us on their march to Sevenoaks. At that time, Astrel, Pelken, and I will carry the Egg to the highest hill in Fardwahn. There we shall use our combined might to shatter the Egg. Whether this will be enough, I know not. But there is no other path to follow.

I am about to sacrifice tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of the men under my command, in a desperate attempt to stop the Karatanians. My heart aches for each of them, their families, their wives and children. They are doomed, and I am the hand that wields the sword to strike them down.

I have permitted myself one selfish act. Yesterday I ordered my Bright Spears into a canyon in pursuit of a Karatanian patrol. I knew it was an ambush. I could read it as plainly as the book in my hands now, and yet my soldiers suspected nothing. I counted to one hundred, then sent reinforcements. The men fought back the demons, and recovered the broken bodies of the Bright Spears, as I knew they would. Eofram, Amery, Sertanian, and Teleus all survived, but barely. I have ordered them transported back to Dornath immediately for medical care. They are grievously wounded and may still die, but that is better than the certainty of death that awaits them if they stay. With them I will send these writings and some of my effects, in which I have secreted the key to the Fenris Cave.

Whatever evil I am about to unleash, I do so to avoid a greater evil to the land I love. May Pelor have mercy on my soul.

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Notes from Vraath Keep

Koth’s Notes

The most noticeable thing in Koth’s Warroom is the large map of Elsir Vale spread across the table. It has arrows and notations written in Goblin which indicate an invasion plan for the Vale. In addition, you find numerous communiques, notes, and plans. All are written in Goblin, and many in a rudimentary code. It takes a full hour to sort through all of the notes, but with the addition of the map, you piece together the following information.

  • The Red Hand horde is gathering at Cinder Hill, preparing to march on Drellin’s Ferry. They will eventually sweep across Elsir Vale, with a particular focus on Brindol. However, it’s not made clear by the notes what their interest is in Brindol. o The horde will begin marching from Cinder Hill in 4 days, and reach Drellin’s Ferry 3 days after that.
  • The horde includes several thousand goblinoid warriors, under the command of fanatical priests of Tiamat. o The horde has united dozens of hobgoblin, goblin, bugbear, and ogre tribes from the Wyrmsmoke Mountains
  • Four commanders, or Wyrmlords, lead the Red Hand: Koth, Saarvith, Ulwai Stormcaller, and Hravek Kharn. o Koth is the newest of the Wyrmlords. He was tasked with gathering information about Drellin’s Ferry in preparation for the assault. His was that Drellin’s Ferry will pose little resistance to the horde, and will be a good source of slave labor. Although Koth had intended to lead the attack on Drellin’s Ferry personally, his death is unlikely to affect much about the attack o Saarvith has been sent on a special mission to the ruined city of Rhest, former capital of the Rhestian empire. o There is little information about Ulwai Stormcaller, other than the name, and the fact that she is a female hobgoblin o Kharn commands the horde itself and is currently at Cinder Hill
  • The High Wyrmlord who rules over all of them is a fearsome hobgoblin with draconic blood named Azarr Kul. He is a powerful priest of Tiamat, who dwells in a massive temple somewhere in the heart of the Wyrmsmoke mountains. o Several dragons serve Azarr Kul as advisors and subcommanders. Only one is named specifically, a green dragon name Ozyrrandion, who has flown orders to Vraath Keep on several occasions.
  • Ozyrrandion is currently at Skull Gorge Bridge, a site about a day’s march north of the keep. o Skull Gorge is a wide chasm, which can be crossed only by this bridge. o Kharn knows that this is a choke point in the horde’s advance. If enemies were to destroy the bridge, it would take the horde several days to find a way around the gorge, so he has tasked Ozyrrandion with guarding it.

Treasure in Vraath Vault

When we ended last time, you had just raised the bars protecting each of three small rooms in the vault.

In the first vault room are 10 locked coffers. After finding no traps, John rubs his hands greedily, and his lockpicks seem to appear from nowhere. Each box clicks open in quick succession.

  • 6 contain coins. All told, you find 2500 silver pieces, 1100 gp, and 80 platinum pieces.
  • 3 contain legal documents- tax receipts, notes of credit (all expired), and other largely uninteresting pieces of paper
  • 1 contains the deed to Vraath Keep, recognizing the holder as the legal owner of the keep.

In the second vault room are shelves and shelves of books, as well as a writing desk and chair, and a box of candles. The books include topics such as history, law, military strategy, religion, etc. It’s a nice collection, and you may find some good information in them, although none of the books singly are particularly valuable. Two books, however, draw your attention.

  • The journal of Amery Vraath (detailed in an upcoming e-mail)
  • The war journal of General Arrik Xavier (detailed in an upcoming e-mail)

In the third vault room (the one that the skeleton of Amery Vraath was crawling toward) is a single enormous chest, banded with iron. It takes John several tense minutes to open this lock, but he finally feels the tumblers click into place. Inside you find:

  • The skull of a dragon. Jorr identifies it as a black dragon, probably fairly young.
  • Two dozen enormous teeth (each as large as a man’s fist) on a string. Jorr thinks that they belonged to some sort of huge humanoid. Probably a giant, possibly ogre.
  • A huge spiked gauntlet, as large as a man’s chest. Much too large for a human to wear, although whatever belonged to those teeth could probably also wear the gauntlet
  • A white, gauzy sheet, folded up
  • A fine, gold trimmed robe, folded up

On the body of Amery Vraath himself, you find a large two-handed sword, a longbow, a quiver containing two arrows, and a suit of chain mail.

After you pile up all of the items, Eadric dons his glasses, and identifies the magical ones: Xavier’s Journal, The Huge gauntlet, the gauzy sheet, the robe, the sword, the bow, and the chain mail.

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The personal journal of Eofram Troyas

The personal journal of Eofram Troyas
14 Fallowmonth, 1267

Pelor be praised, my prayers have been answered! Nearly all of our townsfolk have been safely rescued from the clutches of the greens that abducted them last week. Sadly, Kartenix, a prominent member of the Vigilant (and, I daresay, one of the few whom I truly respected), was executed sometime prior to the rescue mission. As sad and senseless as his death was, my heart aches most greatly for his son, young Thurann, who has survived his own captivity only to find himself orphaned at the age of eight years.

Although I mourn this loss to our community, we must focus on the better news, that of the safe return of six of the seven abducted. Truly my faith in the four brave men that rescued them was not misplaced. By all accounts, these four entered the crypts of Rivenroar, and faced down both greenskins and the restless dead without fear. And by the strength of their sword arms, their wits, and their faith in the Sun Father, they returned victorious. (Truthfully, their tales put me in mind of some of my exploits with Amery Vraath and the other Bright Spears during the early days of the War.)

In addition to rescuing our captive townsfolk, these four new citizens of Brindol returned with many of the priceless treasures stolen from the Hall of Valor (and are even now in the crypt once more to retrieve the rest). What’s more, they have also returned with a most puzzling mystery. Within the hilt of the General’s own ceremonial sword, which I myself watched him use on countless occasions to swear enemy leaders to fealty, these four found a previously undiscovered compartment. Resting in that place was a very odd key with five large bits on the blade, and a scrap of parchment with a drawing and notations in Xavier’s own hand. I know not what to make of these, although it seems clear that both the greens and the lords of the restless dead believed these to be very valuable in some way. I have secured these objects in a place of safety, which I will not record here.

The discovery of these objects raises many more questions than it answers. Is it possible that Xavier held some great secret of which I am not aware? I trusted Arrik with my life, and will never ascribe a sinister motive to him, but his concealment of an apparently evil object is most troubling. To further investigate this, I have dispatched two Lions to retrieve the other objects of the General which we dispersed after the War. I have sent Tori Suyani to check on Arrik’s personal effects which were sent to the Xavier family farm outside of Witchcross. And I have dispatched Tucker Ash west to Vraath Keep to retrieve the General’s campaign notes from Amery. (Although this episode has reminded me of my delinquency in corresponding with Amery. Has it really been eight years since we last spoke? Surely his giant problem has been resolved by now.)

One final piece of news. We have finally received a messenger bird from Sevenoaks, more than a week after we sent our rider. As I suspected, King Edwyn confirmed that the royal army is stretched far too thin in protecting our borders from the Karatanian threat, and that no military reinforcements will be forthcoming. He has, however, offered to send a squad of hired mercenaries to bolster our defenses. Given the recent success at Rivenroar, I am hopeful that there will be no further goblin incursions, but until the repairs to our walls are completed, any assistance to our defense is welcome news.

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