We are making some changes to image storage. You may see missing images in your image library. They are still there, just hidden and will be visible within a few hours. Please be patient. ×

Old School Hack--the Fictive Way

Four Priests
Settling down some post-blasphemy haunting.

Skritt was getting positively old when the Darkseer of Gorvale, Feldratch, told him that he would get a mission to potentially earn the favor of Dufell, Goddess of the Deeps. Skritt enthusiastically reached out to his comrades to come help out. Vayu, Ell, Wayland, and Tuleo joined him for his expedition.

Briefing by the Deepseer of Gorvale

Those that could not see in the dark got blindfolds, strips to cover the eyes that let them see in the dark. Feldratch told them that Valance Striker took a team of about 9 and invaded the Tomb of Dorellis, where the four high priests of the Dorellis temple were interred. Striker’s team looted the tomb, bringing light to all its corners and mapping it. Dufell animated her high priests to defend their resting place, but Striker cut them (and the other guardians) down.

When Striker’s team returned to the surface and boasted of their deeds, of course they were poisoned to death, and eaten by rats. A group of Dufell’s servants went to the tomb and rearranged it in the dark so it was no longer known.

Now, two years later, dreams indicated that the tomb was still desecrated and Dufell wanted the high priests to be returned to their slumber. They formed bodies of earth, which must be defeated or talked down, and their teeth returned to their burial shrines. That was Skritt’s mission.

Into the Tomb

The adventurers got on a balloon piloted by a blind goblin who used the echolocation of his pet bats to navigate. Down, to a fissure off the main pit, to the entry to the tomb. Skritt got a flare gun to use to summon the balloon back, and they bravely entered the tomb.

They found the central shrine of Dufell, and four shrines with frescoes and decorations indicating the nature of each of the four high priests.

  • Morfin, the Mechpriest (inventor of goblin war machines.)
  • Zelgraf, Lord Clawstinger (a badgerbee wrangler.)
  • Abbidex, the Drowned Priest. (Strange mystic focused on deep water.)
  • Soontek, Guardian of the Gate. (Earthbending temple defender.)

Soontek was guarding the gate area, and they did battle with him. Vayu used his connection to earth magic to slow Soontek’s killing wall-smashes and pitfalls long enough for the others to cut apart his improvised earthen body. Skritt returned his teeth to the wall of his tomb, and he was laid to rest.

Further In

The adventurers cautiously examined all the shrines, including the Dufell shrine in the center of the entry where the goddess’s depiction seemed enraged. Then they explored deeper in, finding walkways over what might be a badgerbee lair. They reached a massive ant pit, which Tuleo scouted by flying. Skritt saw almost-invisible goblin walkways, and the adventurers jumped onto the magic bridges and followed them to a dead end.

Vayu was able to sense a thin spot in the wall, he animated a massive rock monster. The rock monster and Tuleo worked together to dig a corridor in the wall, to another area of the tomb.

They found a tectonic orrerry with an animate mass of earth in the center, surely the remains of Morfin. They hit it hard with everything, and as it tried to pull together a defense they managed to tear it apart. Skritt gathered the teeth, and they moved on.

Wandering to the Skulls

They traveled the strange twisting passages, sure to resist the impulse to map it out as they traversed the endless dark. They found a room that spun, and only risked it once. They found the skull of a giant swallowed by the earth, that had served as a badgerbee lair.l Finally they found a rutting/battle chamber of the badgerbees, with over a hundred badgerbee skulls of different sizes.

The skulls were slurped back into the rock, but Tuleo managed to grab one and follow its pull through the compound back to where a reconstituted earthen Zelgraf was using the skulls as focal points to animate earthen badgerbee replicas.

They did battle with Lord Clawstinger, who summoned a replica of his massive badgerbee mount. Vayu flexed his power and the stone that was disgorging badgerbee copies gripped them instead, just long enough for the adventurers to bring Lord Clawstinger down.

Skritt bagged his teeth up, and they trotted back to the fourth site they had quickly passed while following the skull—a deep pit of water with amphibious eels around it.

The Drowning Quarry

Tuleo relied on the eels speaking the language of sea creatures, and he asked them to take him to Abbidex. They agreed. Wayland’s ring let him breath underwater, and Tuleo’s goddess mother Thogro let him breathe underwater, so they followed the eels into the dark waters.

At the bottom, Abbidex meditated. They proved they could wait underwater as well, so he graciously surrendered his head full of teeth to them. They made it out of the water in the surreal swirl of eels.

Tuleo asked an eel to show them the way out, and it obliged, skirting another nasty ant infestation.

Conclusion

They put all four priest teeth sets into the appropriate shrines, then Skritt went in to see the statue of Dufell. It was smiling, and it restored a measure of youth. They left the tomb, riding up on the balloon. They celebrated their success feasting on an immature hydra that had been slain and pulled up for bounty. Job well done.

View
Rarified Blood
The Royal Ward has secrets.

Common Knowledge

The High King Duventel used a cult of Oblivorix, the Forgetters, in his conquests. He fought a war for about 15 years to consolidate this area and others as his kingdom, and his Forgetters murdered everyone over the age of about 50, to suppress memories of the “good old days” and passed down knowledge. He’s ruthless, but the area is less violent now that it is unified.

The Forgetters are a pretty powerful cult in the High King’s government. That’s starting to cause some friction. Both the Forgetters and the High King’s armies are really tough, ruthless veterans.

This area used to be ruled by monarchs of the Kyvan Dur line. Nobody remembers much about them now, but even the name is a reminder of a golden age of prosperity and unity. Their bloodline was mingled with the blood of the gods, it is said. No one knows who their heirs might be, if anyone in the bloodlines even survived. Their empire fell about 800 years ago. There was fighting in this area, all around here, as they went down. Their former capitol, Delrethia, is in ruins not 50 miles from here.

The Job

A merchant named Elizer Hardel hired the adventurers. The Asylum of Kyvan Dur was a place where the Order of Whispers, a Cyclarian cult, took insane royals and nursed them through their lives. Towards the end, they became corrupt, and used the royals as studs to put royal blood in other noble lines, for an obscene fee. The asylum was destroyed by a wrestling dragon and giant, all within killed. Now Hardel has discovered there was possibly an underground part that survived.

His family passed down the secret of royal blood for 900 years. He has spent a fortune to research and find the location of where the asylum once was, and he’ll pay well if they go and explore it, looking for proof of his ancestor’s royal blood. Then he can raise an army and lead a local revolution. He offers 500 gold each, and a bonus for treasures and the jackpot (proof of his royal blood.)

He hired Disuke, a samurai; Sila, an orc; Ty, a duelist; Pith, a gnome with a voice in his head; Magnar, an ape warrior; and Zazskar, a shokoro infiltrator. The adventurers chose Disuke to lead them.

The Approach

About midmorning, the adventurers sent Pith and Zazskar ahead to scout. They spotted guards in black ponchos watching the entry to the caves, and recognized them as Forgetters. They continued scouting up in the ruins of the asylum, and found a gray blurbeast sunning and napping. Returning to their crew, they gathered and approached the ruins in force.

They hacked down the blurbeast, and three more attacked! The adventurers dispatched them, and investigated the secret trapdoor the blurbeasts revealed. As they headed down into the dark, the scouting gnome and shokoro found more of the blurbeast lair, and they slipped past as quietly as they could, following the stairs down into the dark.

The Padded Constructs

The stairs came out in a huge chamber. As they cautiously entered, blades and flame ready, a padded construct tried to hug their leader. Two more loomed out of the darkness to help as the samurai whacked the first one apart. After a pitched battle, four of the constructs lay shattered. Investigating, the adventurers found obsidian stones in the chest compartments, with the symbol of the Kyvan Dur asylum etched on them.

They crossed the room to check out another door, and found more constructs; after a brief and violent clash that left one in pieces on the floor, they withdrew and held the door shut; the constructs eventually gave up and returned to their passive state. The adventurers warily continued to explore.

The gnome felt the wrongness of the place, and the ghost of an orderly leaped out at them and fled screaming. These seasoned adventurers kept their cool, and continued.

The Shrine and the Peace Garden

They followed the length of the echoing hall, and the long corridor beyond, coming upon a shrine. They realized if they put their weapons and fire away, they would not trigger aggression from the padded constructs. Out of curiosity, they encouraged the gnome Pith to aggravate one; he was gripped, and carried to a peace garden, stuck to a pillar that magically held him while other constructs looked on. The walls were decorated with peaceful scenes.

The base of the 4 pillars had bones, and 2 of the pillars had desperate Forgetters stuck to them. The adventurers quickly realized each column had a command word that released its prisoners, and they rescued their gnome friend (then put him back up, to see if that would work, and released him again.) The constructs looked on, disinterested.

The adventurers released and questioned one of the Forgetter scouts, telling him they wiped out his people and finding out the Forgetters had “slithers” and more would come, and that they had not explored very far. They put him back on the pillar, after taking his costume. They also released his comrade and took his costume as well, then put him back.

They left the Forgetters stuck to pillars, and returned to the shrine.

Chambers From the Shrine

In one direction they found an antechamber with genealogy of the Kyvan Dur on the walls. They put a bar down on the double doors, so no one could come in from that direction.

On the other side of the chamber, they found a receptionist chamber with 2 more constructs. Every time they moved to go through one of the 2 doors in the chamber, the constructs got in the way. They withdrew.

The shokoro could not sneak past them, but the gnome could create blind spots. He took the shokoro and the samurai with him, and slipped through one door.They found the Warden’s office, where another orderly leaped at them begging for help, and fled shrieking.

The shokoro found the book with information on the breeding program, and the gnome picked the lock on the desk and got 3 bracelets with the Kyvan Dur asylum symbol on them.

Investigating the other room, they found a big bed and dresser; the conjugal chamber. They left it alone, regrouping out by the shrine.

The Royal Ward

They headed back to the alcoves with the constructs, who had forgotten about them. They headed down the corridor to stairs that wound down, and came to a glowing screen with the asylum symbol on it. With bracelets and obsidian hearts, they walked through without a problem, finding themselves in an ancient wrecked dining room.

The whole area was magically lit by moonlight—but then something wicked approached, bringing darkness. The warden greeted them, and two of the inmates attacked; the violent adventurers made short work of them, and pursued the warden through screens of impeding ghost orderlies. The samurai whacked him in half. The warden’s body began disintegrating, the dust flowing up the stairs. Grim, the adventurers continued on.

They moved through the play room, and the game room, finding the quarters of the creatures they destroyed. They continued on past the shrine, where the shokoro pulled off the silver globe marked with phrenology and moon mapping; the ghosts wailing for release there fled, and the globe seemed to lose its magic. The ape put it back on the altar and apologized to Cyclaria, and they continued.

Through the chapel, and now they were ghosted by a figure in white. Refusing to engage, they found the library at long last! They loaded up on over 40 scrolls of authenticated pedigree, and then they ran. They found the connecting passage to the dining room, and withdrew in haste, wildly successful.

The End

They got out and got 1,000 gold each from their employer, also selling the bracelets and obsidian hearts. Job well done!

View
Plusevian Plaza Part II
Appeasing the God of Rains

Bulls by the Horns

Continuing where Skritt, Vayu, Ellinda, Wayland, and Tuleo left off last time.

They headed down through the door with the stylized bull head on it, finding a junk room before discovering an arena style room. Wayland carefully listened at doors, but did not hear anything. One door led to a short corridor between rooms, the other was a broom closet—but one with a secret door at the back. In the broom closet, there were supplies to clean up after brutal battles, and Wayland helped himself to a few minotaur teeth.

Tuleo opened the secret door, and came face to face with a minotaur that had been waiting to ambush them when they went past. As that battle snapped into violent action, the other door popped open, revealing another minotaur that had been waiting to trigger the ambush! Vayu blocked off one door with ethereal thorns, and the minotaur had to pick through them to leap at the adventurers only to be hewn down. Tuleo made short work of the other minotaur, and the adventurers caught their breath before continuing on.

The Shrine to Pluves, God of Rains

They found a corridor that opened up from the arenas to the shrine of Pluves, God of Rains. An expensive idol shaped like a dodecahedron was on an altar in a strange chapel. They explored around the chapel, finding a preparation room and a hall of fungus where hornfrills grazed. Thinking they had an exit identified in case of need, and now knowing the location of the altar, they withdrew back to the minotaur arenas.

Mazes and Monsters

The adventurers navigated the minotaur maze using the trusty algorithm of following the left-hand wall, and they found their way to a long stone corridor. Skritt and Wayland (who constantly borrowed Ellinda’s ring of darkvision) scouted ahead and spotted the monstrous abomination they were here to slay. They crept back to their comrades, and had intense whispered conversation—interrupted by the monster’s attack!

In the narrow corridor, they fought for their lives and managed to bring the shadowed thing down. Pistol shots, god-like strength behind magic weapons, mystic bolts, and enchanted bladework carried the day. As Ellinda thrust the final stab into the obscenity, the entire group channeled their animosity towards it through the battle princess, and it died a writhing and horrible death.

As Skritt steeled himself to gut it and dig out three chunks of amber-like substance, others scouted the monster’s lair and found the well from which it had crawled up from a deeper place.

Apologies

Reluctantly, the company turned back from their explorations and returned to the Plusevian shrine. There, Skritt arranged the amber on the altar and apologized to Pluves, God of Rains. The rain stopped, the curse was broken, and a rainbow with twelve colors shimmered for a moment in the dimness. Skritt smiled, free of his curse.

Onward into Darkness

They returned to the monster lair, continuing past it down long aimless corridors. They found an entry into a fungaloid compound; wary and respectful, they withdrew. Realizing they could not be sure what time it was, they pulled back to the hornfrill territory, hiding in the great hall full of fungus as a hornfrill and calves wandered through. Wayland’s tracking identified how the hornfrills entered and exited, matching up with the outside entrance he found before they delved in the first place.

Escape With Trophies

They let the hornfrills go past, then headed out to clean air deep in the Pit shaft. They saw their goblin scout descending in his hot air balloon—noting they had some time, the adventurers decided to gather trophies.

Tuleo, Skritt, and Wayland headed back to the front entrance where they dropped a couple minotaurs with gunshots. There they encountered a handful of rats, and Skritt spoke for the group, telling of their mighty deed in slaying the alien thing, and intimidating the overwhelmed ratmen. They retreated, and Wayland used his expert butchery to take the head off one minotaur corpse, and the horns off the other. They staggered back to the rendezvous point just as the balloon was tying up, and they all floated back up to Assignation (except Tuleo, who flew up with his gristly prize.)

Again safe up in Assignation, out of the Pit, they celebrated and then went their separate ways.

View
Plusevian Plaza (Part I)
Adventuring in Assignation.

Skritt feels his age breaking him down, and wanted to break the curse from Pluves, God of Rains. So, from his base in Courvon, he gathered a group and traveled via ship and caravan wagon to Assignation. He took companions from the adventure slaying the Widow Dragon; his manservant Wayland, questing knight El, brawny wizard Vayu, and of course the godling Tuleo.

To avoid any entanglements from his past, Skritt took on the alias “Tirks.”

They traveled into Assignation, down the mighty avenue from the Gate, and settled at a drafty tavern, the Gambling Watchmen. They also contracted with a goblin fixer, who helped them with various arrangements for food, clothes, housing, and so forth. They rested for a meal at the tavern (their fixer brought them food from elsewhere), then they traveled past the Plaza (looking down into the impressive Pit for the first time) to the Winding Stair. They reached the Temple of the Healing Dark as the cleric staff were becoming active in the darkness.

Their fixer arranged them entry, and they traveled through the dark temple with goblin guides. They met a High Seer, and Skritt explained he sought shelter from Pluves curse and death from age. The others were dismissed, and the seer did a reading for Skritt. He said there was a dark monster around the temple to Pluves down in the Fringelands on the south side. Kill the monster, offer its heart at the Pluvian shrine, and that may do the trick. As for the other, after he’s done he can stay in the Temple and possibly become an acolyte if he is faithful enough.

Skritt hired a Pit guide, Svell, an odd goblin who arranged for them to meet him in the Plaza the next morning. He had a balloon ready, and they drifted down the the area of the Plusevian Plaza. He would return in 7 hours, and again at dawn. Then not any more.

Ambush at the Entry

Wayland saw evidence of large grazing herbivores, and found the entry they used. The party hid as a hornfrill and its calf came out to feed. Not wanting to mess with that, they skulked around to the main entry.

Tuleo led the way, finding it useful to be able to float when the pit traps opened below. As they approached a mural to see what it depicted, crossbows fired from a hole in the roof and from arrow slits flanking the mural, as reinforcements raced towards the battle from behind. The adventurers returned fire, and Tuleo punched through the mural to confront those firing through slits. The foes were hulking big man-rat-things, but the adventurers slew them out of hand (except the ones that managed to scramble away.)

Vayu blocked the route for reinforcements using an enchanted ethereal thorn wall, and they followed the tunnel behind the wall. Periodically they ran into clusters of flustered rat men, and they casually wiped out any that did not flee fast enough.

They found a barred door, and left it alone until they’d knocked a few more rat-men down. Then they opened it and explored, finding an alligator pit. Taking another tunnel from the pit, they found more rat and blew them away.

Rain fell in the stone tunnels, a leftover from when this area was full of holy energy.

Challenge of the Bull

Something roared challenge to them, and they ignored it until they encountered a rat who told them to go the other way. They let him live, and found their way to the chamber over the entry plaza. They saw two mighty minotaurs issuing challenge to them (but not seeing where they were.) Wayland and Skritt settled into position with their firearms, using their practiced skill as hunters. They blew the minotaurs away with a single crash of gunpowder, and the rat-men scattered as the minotaurs toppled gushing gore.

They explored further, and Tuleo grappled a rat-man to interrogate him. They found out the rats called themselves “Ratguard” and that their mighty leader had a wizard advisor. Also, the monster of shadow was beyond the minotaur maze, the minotaurs kept it out. The ratguard expressed some skepticism that they could successfully reason with either a ratguard king or minotaurs. They released him, and went back to the overlook to rest.

A Little Rest

Wayland wanted to rest and heal after a clash with rat-men earlier. While they were waiting, the complex’s defenses rallied, sending a massive wave of rat-men at them led by a minotaur. Close-quarters fighting in a gory stairwell saw the adventurers triumphant as Tuleo stood in the storm of blades and fangs and did not bend, supported by Vayu’s rock soldiers and others stepping in to help out. Skritt was knocked unconscious, but he recovered with minimal damage.

View
The Heart of the Matter
Adventuring in the Awesome Isles

The company approached San Pascal, a terraced city backed into hills. From the south, on a ridge 500 ft. above sea level, they looked down at the port. Seismic activity had battered this place as well.

Across a narrow channel, they saw a ramshackle fortress on the island. A bridge was under construction, but not far enough along to be useful. The company didn’t see any ships in the harbor.

Rather than risk people getting the wrong impression, Spender asked Captain Cadaver to wait in the hills. Also, the priest of Kytanlisk left us, but with bugs to keep us company. As they seemed harmless enough, no one objected.

The Finders Guild

The company (now composed of Wolf, Noran, Cole, and Spender) navigated the slums of the outer ring of the city, and as they moved into the more solid neighborhood with stone buildings, they interrupted a handful of looting wights that were picking through the ruins for coins. Casually dispatching them, the company investigated further and found a secret passage built into the street, a diamond with a circle within, and a water symbol.

Moving down into the tunnel, the company found a barred door, guarded by Bria, a woman in a turban and veil armed with scimitars. She let us in, explaining we had found the base of the “Finders Guild,” a group dedicated to fighting slavers and freeing slaves. Norrin was very excited, asking after his clan, but she didn’t know where they might be now.

Moving through the Finders tunnels, the company noted that they were blessed, by allies of the Finders. Saegrak and Mulvask were represented, but not officially affiliated. Bria explained that there were undead and demons plaguing the city now.

Pooling Research

The company moved up into a tower, where they met Headmaster Kenneth, a holy warrior of Saegrak. He explained that they sent a delegation of Mord and 3 others north to talk to the Disciple Malfas, but no word yet. Spender explained about the Assail and the wakening dragon. Everyone felt a pulse of energy from the north…

Kenneth suggested the company check out Nighfang Spire, Malfas’ tower. Over 1,000 years old, it was first occupied by a nameless cult in ancient times, worshiping an elemental dragon from the formation of the world. The cult was conquered by vampires at some point, led by Gulthas (who had delusions of godhood.)

Malfas, Disciple of Ezras, cleared out the vampires and took the tower for his own. His protective reputation and his fortune invested in San Pascal allowed it to grow. As a background figure, he was fair enough. Over time, he was increasingly distracted by his experiments, absent from city affairs, taking on the occasional apprentice. Then he disappeared about 20 years ago (it took years to even notice.)

After about 10 years of Malfas’ absence, a black dragon moved in to fill his role, providing a reputation to back off the neighbors. The dragon was allowed to raid neighbors and criminals, but it grew more bold, starting a cult and raiding more broadly. Just as San Pascal leadership was beginning to worry, Malfas returned. There was a huge battle, visible from the mainland, about 2 months ago.

One crazed cultist escaped, but the authorities executed him without finding out what happened in the spire. Then undead and demons started cropping up. A week ago, there was a pulse from the tower. A highly unusual hurricane hit, followed by earthquakes. Even with diviners providing some notice, it caught the city by surprise.

Nightfang Spire

The company socialized with the Finders until dusk, then took a ferry across the channel. The ferryman gave them 5 glow rods. Cole scouted out a spot to wait until morning, and they passed the night quietly.

In the morning, they followed the old road to a valley, where the walls towered around the spire. It was ugly, black rock with fangly protrusions out the top and an open roof. The company approached, and Cole’s scouting revealed carnivorous plants crooning, rooted in corpses. Spender suppressed the effect, and the company all approached a chalked outline of a portal.

Stepping through, they found themselves at the top of the tower, with the corpse of a dragon on its hoard and a few looting wights. The company made short work of them. Cole got a few gems, and Spender picked up a couple potions. The company explored deeper through a hole burned in the stone floor. Wolf’s fairy Ivan provided all the meager light the company needed.

Below, they ran into feral vampires, and slaughtered them out of hand. They found Mord, praying and repelling the undead. Convinced of their alliance, he noted he overheard the head vampire talking to one of the spawn in Draconic. All he caught was a name, “Gulthas.” Mord explained that the delusional vampire once worshiped Mulysantir, an ancient entity buried under this tower. The dragon was destroyed long ago, but its energy was part of some primordial power.

The company continued exploring, finding stone coffins with the likeness of mixed races atop them; elves, orcs, and humans mixed with reptilian features. They also found a tomb to Oggun Sathar, behind a scary door, and they left it alone.

They battled a sandy mummified creature and its minions; Noran charged through most of them, a hail of arrows from the lethal Cole cored their leaders, and Spender dispatched the sandstorm effect of their strongest.

Cole found a chest with some gloves that allowed him to store his longbow in an otherdimensional space. The company also found a terrifically expensive comb, and a ring that stored energy.

On the third level down, they encountered a workshop with unfinished sculptures, and also disturbed a mass of orcs. The gorilla-like monsters charged at them with abandon, and were hewn down. Berserking, the orcs refused to fall, but as Cole cored them and Noran crushed them with his bare fists, Spender sent a hail of explosive runes into their ranks. After knocking 11 of the orcs down, the breathless party withdrew to rest and heal.

After a brief discussion, the company agreed to send Cole and Mord out of the Spire. In case the company fell to whatever was below, that way some word would make it back to San Pascal…

View
Parting the Mists
Adventure in the Awesome Isles

Cole, Noran, and Spender rested up after the fight. (Unfortunately, Rory was found out as the worst sort of traitor for some reason, so Spender turned him into a toad and ate him, but kept his fancy armadillo hat for himself.)

Thorax and Captain Cadaver disembarked from ships in the harbor, making way for refugees. Captain Cadaver pretended to be a gravedigger in flashy clothes, collecting corpses and commandeering a cart with two donkeys (Edgar and Allan.) While Thorax inquired into current events, Captain Cadaver piled up corpses with Noran’s help.

Noran turned Eric over to his family and got a reward. James showed up with the cart full of our supplies, and Wolf along with other refugees gathered from the city. Pleased to have their cart of money and goods back, the Company took the Mirror of Boomaxle taken from the Ruins of the Bear and gave it to a refugee cleric of Boomaxle to take to a temple.

Spender asked who was willing to investigate events in the city further, and the party agreed. That night Spender commandeered Meleena’s tent—she was a drunk servant of the queen, who did not object, and Thorax spent the night there too. Others slept in the open, except Captain Cadaver, who enjoyed the company of the dead in the cart.

Into the City Again
The next morning Donbar, the dimensional wizard, rode into camp on his golem’s back. He consulted with Captain Skylar, of the Red Star mercenary company. They took a small entourage into the city, and Spender’s Company followed. Eavesdropping was difficult in the mist, so they approached to participate in the conversation as the group regarded the monoliths and the massive black pyramid (20 meters tall) thrusting up through the remains of the keep.

As they walked towards the center of town, Cole’s sharp eyes saw a bit of gold. He pocketed it.

Donbar had privileged access to dwarven history/memory (in their culture, the same thing.) Their most ancient writings had record of something like this, but those records were considered untrustworthy and possibly heretical.

Basically, long ago there were natives of these islands called the Assail. They conquered the proto-dwarves that lived here, and they looked like neanderthals with an extra joint on their fingers. The dragons came to the island to rest and heal in their war with the gods. The dragons killed the pantheon of gods with avatars that the Assail worshiped. The Assail gathered the corpses of their gods and conducted a ritual to absorb the remains of the cosmic energy to themselves, becoming undying enemies of the dragons as an eternal duty. Much later, the dwarves conquered the territory.

Malfas, the Disciple (considered by the Skylar to be a power-hungry jackass) may have done something to disturb the Assail, whose structures and soldiers plague Claveria. Of the 2,000 inhabitants of the city, maybe 1,000 will escape.

The Pyramid
Cole spotted an entrance to the pyramid. The Company decided to take a look on behalf of the island’s rulers. To prepare, Captain Cadaver raised a monster built of human corpses, named Agangle. Thorax noted there were no insects in the city. Then the Company ventured into the black stone pyramid.

They passed writing on the walls that they could not read, and as they explored they found five massive statues modeled on the Assail body types. Beyond that, they found an orrery of translucent illusion magic, with a seat in the center. One of the undying Assail spotted them, and vanished magically. Spender realized the orrery was set up to mirror the sky visible from here, today.

Climbing a ladder on the far side, Cole and Spender found a green crystal above a viewing chamber from the top of the pyramid. Spender tried counterspelling and energizing the crystal, and it drank in magic energy but was also willing to release a powerful charge. Cole heard from his goddess that the prey lie below this chamber.

This interference attracted the attention of a green will’o’wisp that they followed deeper into the pyramid. There they met the pyramid’s dark master, who telepathically communicated with the Company while three undying experts tended the crystal at the heart of the pyramid.

Spender chatted with Onos Al-Malik. Onos suggested only five of them were awake; the technician in the orrery, his three consultants tending the crystal, and himself. He apologized for the disoriented rampage of his troops earlier, and said that would not happen anymore. He seemed sad that the “servants” (humans) had been damaged by their arrival, as he would need them. He explained they had returned because they were summoned or beckoned, and their task compels them.

A female dragon on an island north of San Pascal was defeated by the Assail, but so few were left they could not kill her. They bound her instead, and she was working her way free. Their task was to deal with her.

No other tribes have awakened, but Onos planned to raise an army from here, resting and recharging, to march north. Just to deal with the dragon. Of course.

The Assail had armor resembling that of their constructs, and Onos had a bladed staff with a green orb much like their power source. Dessicated and withered, with broken bones and bodies in poor shape, the Assail were still connected to their power source.

Spender and Company thanked Onos for the conversation and headed out. One of the Assail technicians, from the Orrery, met them at the entrance. A weapon, dragon claw carved with an x cross-section blade and a curve, caused them trouble. Spender graciously took it with him.

Here is a map of the pyramid.

Next Steps
After a discussion with Skylar and Donbar, several things were decided. A small delegation would be left as everyone else evacuated, and they would continue conversations with Onos trying to learn all they could and being passive-aggressive (through innocent messengers). The mist allowed the Assail to know all that was done or thought within it. Messengers would gather enchanted dragon parts here in case fighting the Assail became necessary. Spender’s Company would head north to San Pascal.

Donbar headed off through the mist, so possibly the Assail knows all that conversation. Donbar prepared to leave, and after a night in town, Spender’s Company hit the road.

Before they left, Captain Cadaver animated a charred skeleton from the burning corpse pits to keep Agangle company.

The Road to San Pascal
Three and a half days of travel brought them to the south of San Pascal. During the journey they found obelisks thrusting up from the ground here and there, and a falcon was following and watching them. As they approached the northern end of the island, they saw trees lumbering very slowly north, and Spender sensed overlapping enchantments that used animals to spy on them and uprooted the local wildlife. Since they were on the Causeway road, built on a ley line, Spender suspected the dragon and Assail energy tug-of-war might be involved.

They reached a barricade south of town. A woman asked them to join the apocalypse, and Spender revealed they knew about the Assail and the dragon. The woman’s bodyguards started shapeshifting into dragons, only to be mowed down by archers as Spender turned the messenger woman (a mindless slave of the dragon) into a skink.

While the Company battered one young dragon down, Spender turned the other one into a turtle (possibly for questioning.) Then the falcon that had been shadowing them opened its beak like a loudspeaker, and the dragon started gloating. Spender blew the bird up.

That’s it until next time!

View
Death of the Widow Dragon
Destruction of the Elvenforge

Previously, the would-be dragonslayers were deep underground. Tulip, Vayu, Ell, Wayland, Skritt, and Either’ohr.

Tuleo Returns
Tuleo writhed free of the Fruum’s deadly grip, somehow slipping between dimensions with his cosmic powers flaring him to new heights of divine energy. As he became more corporeal, he homed in on a powerful mystic beacon, the mysterious volcano of the Elvenforge. He spotted a rock monster (made by Vayu) by the back door, and tread in carefully after his compatriots.

Following their dusty track, he came to the ornate door, and mustered all his god-like might to shove it open. That snapped the mystic door bar, and summoned a ball of flame from the copper network (to investigate.) He chatted with it, and it then went and got a larger more articulate elemental for him to talk to. The larger elemental left to notify the “Dragonites” that he required hospitality. The elemental was rude to Tuleo, because he spoke the language of the “swamp people,” and it figured all he wanted was food and a way out.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party sent scouts to check the disturbance, and Skritt and Wayland saw Tuleo. The party was reunited, and searched through the formerly locked complex. They found a room where servants had committed suicide by drinking poison, after they arranged their masters in the room next door.

Suicide Treasury
Glorious loot! Using Vayu’s ability to see magic, they homed in on the enchanted goods, dumping the dead off their treasures and playing magic-glam dress-up. They scored weapons, bracers, rings, boots, cloaks, books, shields; when they were done looting magic, they loaded up on gems, jewelry, and the like.

Stumbling out of the haze of the room where mummified flesh had turned to dust roiled up in the air, they investigated further. They found runes that were dimensional doors to more elaborate guest quarters, not accessible without the “keys.” Continuing to explore, they found a magnificent art work glade and chapel to Saegrak, Goddess of Winds. Offering their respects, they felt emboldened to continue.

Questioning an elemental they summoned from the copper network, they got a basic map of the mountain, and they were staggered by its scope. All this wealth and construction, and this didn’t even rate as a back door; they weren’t even on the map yet…

The Back Gate
Tuleo flew them down the swift-flowing stream one by one, past relief carvings of other races bringing tribute to the Elvenforge. Then, up the sweeping stairs to a massive chamber with a vast gate that had been smashed open from the other side by the incredible bulk of a dragon, centuries ago. As they walked through the broken gate in awe, they saw snapped dragonscales, deep scoring in the stone floor, blood sizzled into the steel/iron of the gate, and they tread softly.

The Armory Door
Deeper in, they followed an elemental who agreed to lead them to the sealed armory. Vayu’s navigation skills helped them manage the maze. When they arrived, after half an hour of walking, they found a lavishly decorated room worth easily a million gold in raw materials alone, and a massive stone block sealing the entrance to the armory. It looked like work with picks had been done for a while, and eventually after getting 2 meters deep the workers gave up.

The invaders summoned another elemental from the copper network, asking many questions. The elemental was blue this time, and told them the dragon Grizelle laired in the Greeting Hall (the elementals didn’t seem to want to talk about the dragon) and the Dragonites were at the Welcoming Gate (or something like that.) The elemental advised them to go to the central chamber, and descend until they reached the Well of Fire. This elemental seemed somehow smarter than the others.

Still waiting for the Dragonites (whatever those were) to show up, the adventurers posted watch and got some much-needed rest.

The Well of Flame
The elemental returned, anxious that they get moving to the Well of Fire. They reached the main chamber, awed by its construction and magic. One detail was that the construction was backwards to a tree city; if the shaft was a trunk, the platforms and ramps and so on would be around it. So the pattern was familiar, if majestic on a whole new scale.

They descended, noting a band of warriors crossing a narrow catwalk above, headed towards their back trail. Picking up the pace, they reached the bottom of the shaft, and could go no further.

An elemental opened a secret runic door in the wall, and they descended below the ring of the Forges themselves, into earth that was only kept cool by frost diamond clusters in the walls. They reached a door of magma, and it opened for them, frost cannons cooling a tube for them to walk through to reach a frost diamond room that rose like an elevator or bubble through magma to the throne chamber of Uriash, Prince of Flame.

The elemental prince was chained to a throne of fire by four enchanted cords; the entire copper webwork through the mountain was a prison to manage the prince and his elementals. He did not agree to open the armory for them, noting it was sealed even from the network. He did tell them that the blood of the dragon could free him, if it was poured on his bonds, and all he wanted was to leave. They asked the prince if there were weapons that could help them, and he suggested he was pretty much it; he did not seem to think much of their prowess and chances.

They also learned the Dragonites were pirates on ships Grizelle snatched and carried home. Slaves, there were enough for a breeding population, and Grizelle taught them elemental magic so they could use flame and manipulate Uriash’s servants.

He created a powerful magnesium-flare bright elemental to lead and help them, and they left as their crystal chamber of frost diamond began to melt in the presence of the prince.

The Drowsing Dragon
Following the elemental down secret maintenance tunnels for the elemental cage, they crept up to a balcony overlooking the drowsy dragon. Ten Dragonites had knelt before the dragon’s head, but two were gone; as they watched, the dragon ate a third, the life energy helping perk her up after a long sleep. Her slaves did not mind being eaten, it seemed.

One of her many lairing chambers, this one was breathtaking; cabins from wrecked ships around a vast melted couch of gold, molten cannons used for wall art (including a beautiful mural of what could only be Gris), enchanted objects driven into the wall in an area so she could rub them with her itchy back… Off to the side, a shanty town built from wood and sails of trophy ships.

The invaders withdrew and had a hurried whispered strategy session about what to do. Vayu found stone statues of elven heroes, and animated them to do his bidding.

The Roused Dragon
Gunfire roared, but as the metal slugs flattened on armor or flew wide, Wayland’s arrow pierced the mighty dragon’s eye. She reared up with a scream, and Tuleo was radiant, hanging in the air and channeling divine power into her ancient energies. Enraged, she pursued as Tuleo flew with a speed he unlocked through pure adrenaline mixing with the cosmos.

The dragon had to land to get through a narrow neck before reaching the central shaft, and from the balcony Vayu fired, and his stone statues leaped at the passing freight train of dragon below.

Gritting his teeth, Tulip flung himself down onto the dragon. A dagger was tied to one hand, he held a dagger in the other, and the mighty ghim hammer was on his back. He bounced off the scaled hide, blood trailing from his fragile skin hitting the scales, but he managed to dig his dagger into the wing membrane at the last moment; the dragon hardly noticed, it was fixated on Tuleo’s taunts.

Tulip loosed the hammer and pounded on its wingbone as it flared its vicious black and green flame all over Tuleo; surely even a demi-god would succumb to the potency of that attack! But he dove, unscathed, as the magma parted and blood fell around him, hissing on the bonds of Uriash. Tuleo suddenly felt very much in-between where he’d rather not be.

As Tulip smashed repeatedly at the dragon while gripping it’s wing, the rest of the adventurers raced over to get a good look at the mountain-trembling battle. Grizelle snapped at Tuleo, and surely this time he was lost in her maw. But he channeled divine energy within, shoving her jaws open and soaring free!

The dragonslayers fired another volley of blackpowder and shafts as Tuleo squirmed free of the dragon, snatched Tulip, and ascended. Mortally wounded, Grizelle cried out, and mustered impossible strength to keep fighting—

That’s when the whips of flame shot up out of the pit, and the freed Prince of Flame snatched the Widow Dragon.

Escape! For Some…
As Grizelle’s death shrieks rebounded through the mountain, it shook violently. A crack opened by the victors, and daylight was beyond; Uriash was not without honor. As they fled, they snatched at what baubles they could reach.

Meanwhile Tuleo shot up the shaft of the volcano as black smoke boiled up after, carrying Tulip. They darted out past the dirigible, surprised to see Effson skyship hovering over the cone! Then the first blast roared up after them. Effson leaped from the dirigible, and boonwings caught him and glided towards safety.

Hector leaped out too, but no boonwings caught him. With a scream, he fell, and the flames raced up to greet him…

All’s Well That Ends Well
Burdened with baubles and loot, sooty and weary and exhilarated, the companions made camp at a safe distance and much of the mountain listed and sank into what was likely a very hot pit.

They traded stories and gems, basking in the glow of their victory.

The adventurers were rich, and the Widow Dragon was no more.

View
Death Fog!
Massive Slaughter in Claveria

Afterglow
Our heroes just returned from the Ruins of the Bear and Maurice Lawson was in a partying mood because of their success. (Norrin, Cole, Spender, Wolf, and Fletch.) After a celebration, they slept it off. (Spender found a middle-aged woman who had a tent and a bed, so he could sleep more comfortably.) Fletch caught a cold or something from the last adventure, and Wolf decided to tend to him instead of moving on with the group.

The Adventure Goes South
In the morning, Spender asked around to see if there were any recent refugees from the north that might know more. Lawson pointed out a man in a fancy armadillo hat, Rory, who was one of the last to come from the north. Rory had a vague sense that a famous wizard tower fell, but he was on the outskirts of town when it happened and left out of prudence rather than finding out more or trolling for rumors.

Rory looked sturdy enough, so Spender hired him to carry his pack and to be his companion. Everyone was headed south to the remaining city on the island, Claveria. Lawson was going to wait for a few days to make sure everyone from the north that was coming could join his group, so the adventurers left without him. Norrin pulled their hand cart with the Mirror of Boomaxle and their various loot.

No one else was on the eerie and deserted road. Signs that people discarded their belongings as they approached the city grew more plentiful. Bandits thought about robbing the adventurers, going so far as to confront them with a flaming barricade, but upon second thought they decided not to actually launch an attack. While the adventurers explored an abandoned residence and resupplied, Cole ambushed the shadow that was trailing the group, meeting Gavin, a sharp-shooting local from an estate off the beaten path.

Gavin lost contact with the city militia (of which he was a member) and was keeping an eye on the road to keep the looting down, but that was increasingly unimportant as the scale of the disaster settled in. Things from underground attacked, maybe. Rumors and reports were confused, from the scant survivors.

Unsettled that there was no one on the road, still, the adventurers closed in on Claveria.

Claveria
The unnatural fog thickened outside the city, and the adventurers homed in on a bonfire outside the city walls. There they met Carmen, leader of the militia, a tough guy in his 50s. Gavin took the awkwardness out of the introduction. Carmen had about 50 troops. He said a mist rose after the earthquakes, and people were disappearing, there was heavy fighting against things from underground, and the undead were coordinated.

The adventurers asked for lanterns and oil, and offered to scout and report. They got directions and the rough layout of the city, and headed for Donbar’s Tower; a wizard who was into portals might know what was up here.

Heading towards the tower, the adventurers found 10 zombies clawing at a house, with a kid sniping from the balcony. The kiskov and cleric made short work of the zombies, and the vigilante kid, James, joined up with the party. They also rescued Eric, a rich kid; Norrin vowed to deliver him safely to his people.

After every fight with the undead, they lasted for about 5 seconds, then vanished into the air. They had a sort of geometric symbol carved in their forehead. Spender noticed a strange quasi-magic field lowering over the city, and Cole felt his connection to his god Preyvask strained.

Continuing on, the adventurers discovered a statue of a stone man was missing from the park; crossing the river, they found the stone man (a golem) smashing zombies in a recreational way. Chatting, the adventurers found the golem had smashed thousands of zombies. Escorted to the wizard’s tower, the adventurers found his apprentice clearing off the last of his things, leaving the city behind. The adventurers asked for resources to help deal with this, and got 3 pointy stones that could be thrown at the ground to drive off mental effects. They also found out the stone golem’s movements were bounded, and it was to destroy the tower when it was emptied, to leave no trace.

The Keep
The golem accompanied the adventurers to the keep, and smashed a hole in the wall so they could enter. They confronted a handful of looters and dispatched them, Norrin claiming a prize sledgehammer with a faint enchantment to help intimidate.

Spender sent James back to Carmen to recount everything the group had discovered, and to keep the plucky lad out of harm’s way as the adventurers continued to hunt for harm.

The keep was tottering after the earthquake, with evidence here as elsewhere that small things had burrowed up out of the ground.

Unsettled by the continuing emptiness of the city, the adventurers struck out for the marketplace.

Confronting the Dead
In the marketplace, the clock tower appeared to be an empty sleeve with a strange black obelisk inside it that had some of the geometric symbols vaguely resembling those on the dead. The caustic fog seemed to be a byproduct of the friction between the home dimension of the obelisk and the undead, and this dimension that was being invaded by its weird energy. As the adventurers looked around, a hollow suit of armor confronted them, flinging magic and slashing with a mace.

Spender desperately counter-spelled as Cole fired and Norrin charged in, with Rory taking pot-shots as he was able. The silent armor was defeated, but the adventurers could tell another obelisk seemed to be pushing up out of the ground. They debated what to do next, then decided to go down to the docks and see if people could be found and protected.

A grand melee roared around the road to the docks. Norrin charged through, tossing zombies with his mighty horns, and the rest of the adventurers ran behind him. They got down to the docks to see ships leaving and arriving, but the fighting was on the road, so they engaged in that battle to save the heroic defenders of Claveria’s corpse.

As the battle heated up, they were assaulted by magical darkness and unending waves of zombies. Then the zombies vanished, and a grotesque undead spider swarming with beetles reared up, slaughtering with impunity. The adventurers attacked, with Norrin repeatedly crashing into it as Cole fired a withering hail of arrows into the cracks of its armor. The beetles repaired the spider, so concentrated shooting cleared them off. Spender confronted the monstrosity, keeping it busy as Norrin gathered himself for a last charge, and together with Cole, put the thing down.

The battle was over, but the mysteries remained, as the fog began to thin over Claveria.

View
The Hammer Key
Out of the Mire and Into the Mountain

Another Expedition
As they fled from the Fruum, a tendril whipped up and snatched Tuleo, yanking him beneath the murk of the Mire. Unsure of how to even begin to mount a rescue, the others went on without him.

Meanwhile, back in MirePort, Skritt was kicked out of the house by Ashook over a little misunderstanding in taking care of the unconscious patients, involving a few of Kitten’s tasty little toes (that will probably grow back.) As he wandered, he saw Effson’s dirigible, and he climbed the wizard’s tower where it was docked to see what was going on.

He heard that Effson was taking Hector out to the Black Mire, and he asked to come along. For 50 gold, he got in; Hector felt cheated, that the goblin could travel so cheaply and he couldn’t. Skritt also met Either’ohr, a fey warrior, and his fairy Elim. Apparently the fey warrior was looking for more experience dealing with multi-dimensional beings, and heard there were gods trapped in the Black Mire.

They drifted out over the mists, using the boonwings to scout through the fog, until they found the party. Effson tossed a rope line out the window, and the goblin and the fey warrior slid down. They heard something sloshing towards them, and reunited with Tulip, Ell, Wayland, Vayu, and Winnie.

Fleeing the Fruum
They were exhausted but satisfied to find the boardwalk, and Vayu sussed out where they were. Pushing past the limits of endurance, they tried to stay away from the Fruum as it tore the swamp apart searching for them, even tearing up parts of the boardwalk.

They came to the intersection leading to the Frog God, and the relieved shokoro escorted them to the Frog God, past piles of their dead and the rest standing clear of the water.

The Frog God took the basket, put the amber in it, and gripped the rose; satisfied, it allowed Tulip to reach into its belly and pull forth a hammer marked with six master runes; the Key.

At that point the swamp trembled, and the Fruum attacked in force; they fled, as the gods wrestled behind them, heading towards Courvon (even though Tulip was frustrated they could not get his donkey and cannon from MirePort.)

Welcoming Committee
The ferryman wanted to overcharge them to go to Courvon, because they looked weird and dangerous. Vayu terrified him, and they headed over. The ferryman leaped out of the boat into the water, and they noticed it was quiet—too quiet. Then the ghim opened up with the organ gun from a rooftop! As bullets tore into the boat and slammed across the adventurers, they returned fire past the normal range of their weapons, and Either’or sent his fairy to harass the survivors manning the gun as more ghim popped up out of hiding, waiting for them to dock.

They leaped from their listing boat over to another docked boat, cutting it loose and escaping downstream. A couple miles later, they pulled out of the river on the Mire side and contemplated their next move.

Upstream
Tulip let the wizard examine the hammer, and learned it had 6 ghim master smith runes, and was an interdimensional key on three dimensional axis planes. Vayu animated a rock monster, who towed the boat up the river as the light faded from the sky. They passed Courvon in the breathing darkness, undetected, and continued up the river. They supplemented their meager rations with fresh fish and game, pleased to finally be away from the Mire as they continued up into the mountains, the rock monster dragging the boat up over rapids as needed.

They saw more and more evidence of ancient Elven shaping of this route, to the point where Tulip and Skritt found the remains of a watch tower and looted its armory of centuries-old wargear.

Finally they came to the back gate of the Senchillian Elvenforge, a wide round lake with a vast door on the other side. Wary of traps, they consulted the Key, and found that there was a back door. They closed in on a boulder, set apart from the river a ways back. It had a keyhole in it, and the hammer fit neatly, vanishing the solid rock into air!

The Elvenforge
Skeletons of elves were mounded against the boulder, unable to escape from inside. They pressed on into the Forge Mountain, finding intricate meter-across brass runes inlaid into the floor with brass tracery connecting them. Careful to avoid the runes and the pale plates set in the walls, they proceeded deeper, past the occasional charred bones.

They found a gorgeous ornate inlaid door welcoming visitors to the Elvenforge, and some fortifications protecting a landing where boats could go deeper in the complex. Getting up into the fortifications, they headed down into the chambers in the rock, unsure of what they’d find…

View
Smooth Sailing
Troublemakers just gotta make trouble.

Return to Mire Port
Back at Mire Port, Ashook looked after all those sick with the Red Flies problem, and Skritt, who was so despondant that he chewed off his own buds so he would not bring little goblins into the world cursed, and eating mostly sorrow stew, a goblin concoction of basement clay and rat blood.

Wayland and Tuleo recovered their wits, to find that Hector was hiring town criers to go to the roughest parts of Mire Port with crude drawings of Tulip and the tidbit that Tulip was wanted by the Pembriss Scholars, with a bounty for 10,000 gold pieces. A tent city of the ugliest thugs in Mire Port sprang up on the city side of the Cleansing Gate, waiting for the gladiator to return so he could be cashed in.

Meanwhile, Ellinda Silverkin came to Mire Port. She had a vision, or dream, about a dragon; she followed her instincts to Mire Port to hear about Tulip’s exploits from the town criers. From there, she checked who was new in town, and as she investigated, she found herself on Ashook’s property facing Geshinara. She asked to be in on the action, and she was told to wait in the basement of the mansion (staying clear of the nutter goblin) until Tulip could decide what to do with her.

That all changed when Tulip and Vayu got back from the Black Mire. They were held extra-long in decontamination in the Cleansing Gate, as a runner spread the news he was back. Wayland, watching the Gate, saw the commotion and went to the mansion to collect more firepower. They gathered at the Gate, along with over a hundred ruffians and cutthroats. With a grim screech, the gate was hauled open. Vayu and Tulip stood cornered, facing a massive mob of ne’er-do-wells.

Rumble at the Cleansing Gate
Combat was joined. As the tide of filthy humanity gushed at them, the adventurers snapped into action. Tulip tore them down with ferocious speed and savagery as Vayu’s constructs protected him; he intimidated the crowd, then tore the life from one of them with dark magics, resorting to his staff to batter them down. Yet more came, and more.

From the rear, Ell and Tuleo attacked, trying to thin the herd as Wayland fired into the mass. The battle churned, those fleeing and those rushing in a tangle of stinking thugs, blood spraying and bodies flying through the air as shouts and screams and the crunch of bone were lost in the roar of battle-mad fury.

Wayland spotted Hector maneuvering into position near Tulip and Vayu—atop the wall, safely out of the fray. He fired an arrow, pegging the seedy wizard (after Hector’s spell failed to disable the two brave adventurers fighting for their lives below.) Realizing their peril, Tulip and Vayu also attacked before Hector could stagger away. Tulip flung his massy sword, and it whistled past the wizard. Vayu’s mystic bolt and Wayland’s second arrow knocked the wizard out of sight, lucky to be alive.

The tide of battle well and truly shifted as ten griffon riders descended to preserve the peace. By the time the ring of griffons settled in the mostly abandoned area around Vayu and Tulip, the heroic adventurers as a group had defeated over forty thugs!

The rest of the adventurers sloped off, not wanting to be caught for questioning by the town officials and the Griffon Guard converging on the “disturbance.” Tulip and Vayu surrendered to the Griffon Riders, who pulled them up on the griffon mounts and flew them to the Skyview Tower.

Leaving Mire Port
There, they had a chance to clean up and bind their wounds, then they were shown in to meet with the Griffon Magus Cholran, an old man with long white hair. Cholran didn’t care much about the bounty, but didn’t want further disruption. He banished Vayu and Tulip from Mire Port. They were given supplies, and a chance to send a message about the success of the holy water to the temple in town, then they were flown out by the Gate Camp.

Word of their banishment spread fast, and the rest of the adventurers met them in the Gate Camp to strategize. Geshinara went back into Mire Port to run errands for them. (She was now pretending to be married to Ashook so she was a citizen, and not charged tax to go through the Cleansing Gate.)

Tuleo had a vision earlier, that if he was going to continue to call upon Thogro for mystic favors, he had to become her servant. He agreed, pledging his service and gaining her holy energies as a cleric. As he recovered from his strange conversion experience, a woman from the camp threw herself at Tuleo’s feet; called Castaway, she had amnesia from a shipwreck, but she felt she belonged to Thogro (and now to Tuleo as Thogro’s representative.) Tuleo didn’t care for her name; he said he would call her when he needed her, and she eagerly adopted the name “Whenynedja” or “Winny” for short.

A short time later, Geshinara brought them the amber they had previously liberated, and a wagon full of sand and rocks from the beach, that Vayu raised up into minions and guards. Geshinara refused to enter the Black Mire again, but she sent her folding boat with them for good fortune. Ell was accepted into the group, and they set out on the boardwalks of the Black Mire yet again.

Again With the Frog God
With the mass of sand and rock minions to stand guard, they slept securely on the boardwalk, and they were not troubled by monsters as they traveled back to the Frog God again. The shokoro were agitated and waiting for them, sensing the approach of the amber. They presented the amber to the Frog God, who emanated a dark glee; one artifact to go!

Following Vayu’s reliable map, they trudged endlessly on the boardwalks, finding the road to Courvon but turning back to the swamps, their task unfinished.

The Tree
They found a massive tree, unnaturally huge, looking like it could have been a source of wood for the enchanted boardwalk. Wayland hopped off the boardwalk to get a closer look, finding the vast bark etched with symbols of the ghim. As he was returning, he was attacked by a swarm of stirge that had been hanging under the boardwalk; he was on the edge of being overwhelmed when Tuleo swooped down and pulled him back to the boardwalk, where Vayu’s sand minions scoured the stirge off. They traveled a short way, then rested until Wayland recovered his strength. The journey continued.

The Graveguard
One night, they encountered a scout with a gator skull helm, one of the Graveguard. Tuleo pulled away from the group a space and had a long, productive chat with the Graveguard scout, learning that there were graves that belonged to the Graveguard that were sacred, and that they might have a bit of cannibalism going on, and that there was a fey lake where people disappeared for a year and a day, or sometimes forever. He got directions to the graves, and instruction not to go there. The curious scout left with the definite impression that these weirdos had a thing for baskets, that’s all they really wanted to know about.

The next day, they traveled to the edge of the boardwalk by the wetlands, and decided to retrace their steps and try to cut through the graves to get close to the lake instead of continuing by boat. Tuleo collected reeds, because his new follower knew how to make baskets, and they should have a cover story/peace offering.

They met with the arrogant and uppity Graveguard, and asked about baskets. Someone important from the camp (a magnificent spined fish skull helm) told them that the fey did have a basket. To justify all the questions, Tuleo (now the spokesman of the adventurers) explained they were basket connoisseurs, looking for exciting baskets in the Black Mire. The adventurers learned that the cannibals used the skulls of family to make braided-hair-handled skull “baskets” full of magic ju-ju.

Tuleo offered the now-unladen donkey and the modest reed basket Winny made in exchange for safe passage, and the Graveguard countered that they could not see the graves. All agreed, they were escorted around the Graveguard lands. They slogged through the marsh on the far side to where the boardwalk picked up again, and hiked along it to where Vayu’s mystic sigils from his last adventure in the marsh appeared on the intersection.

Confident they knew where they were, they discussed the prospect of striking out across the marsh in a boat and hoping to find the lake. Disliking their odds, they decided to return to the Graveguard and negotiate passage to a clear line of travel to the lake, in exchange for a bigger basket. Winny obediently wove a bigger basket, and again they found themselves talking to the prickly Graveguard. The curious scout returned, and agreed to help them. He turned his alligator helm sideways, hanging the basket off the snout and holding the other side for balance, and he struck out into the swamp with the adventurers at his heels.

Into the Black Marsh—On Foot
They passed the skeleton of a thirty foot gator festooned with skulls; a warning for the fey not to approach, and the Graveguard not to pursue into the swamp. After a six hour slog, they camped in the skull of a massive creature, risking a small fire. The curious scout pointed them south, and returned to camp the next day as they continued on. They used Geshinara’s boat, so they did not have to slog through the waist-deep murk. Sadly, Vayu had to leave his minions behind. Vayu used his navigational skills to keep them oriented south, and they continued.

The Fey Lake
Finally the marsh resolved into sawgrass on water, then lilies, then a mass of mangrove trees. Navigating between them, the adventurers found themselves on the fey lake once more; a thousand yards across, ringed in mangrove trees, decorated with lilies. They closed in on the “party cove” and saw a nixie, told her they wanted to speak with the king.

Meanwhile the little fellow on the big fish again accosted them, asking if they wanted to sell their boat; they declined. Soon enough the king made an appearance, parting the lilies, his stone basket boat gliding forward pulled by giant bass as nixies fawned around his waterplant throne.

King Fauchwizzle looked like a blueberry with long limbs. Nixies touched the group, and they could breathe water; they hopped in the water so Vayu could demonstrate the boat’s magic properties. The king agreed to trade with them, his boat for their magic boat (he was really excited to learn how it folded and unfolded) if they joined him at a feast. Reluctantly, they agreed, trading entertainment for the feast. They figured they’d show off what they were good at; katas, magic tricks, stories, and so on.

Party On
The party was wild, and half remembered. A vast turtle surfaced enough for them to have a party island in the middle of the lake. The fey braided Ell’s hair, then stole it all by morning so she woke spear bald. They seemed fascinated by Wayland’s fingernails and toenails, painlessly removing them and nibbling them then putting them back on before he realized what was going on. Tuleo wasn’t sure what they did, but he felt sullied and weird in the morning. For Vayu, they touched at and massaged his bones where they were closest to the surface of his skin, fascinated by how he was put together. For Tulip, they coated pretty rocks in their spit and piled them on him, making little stacks all over him over the course of the party. He woke naked and hairless on the basket boat.

Groggy, the party tried to recover from the fey feast. They noticed a statue that was eerie in its likeness to Tulip, made of the little stones that had been on him. It had some of his skin inside it (but he was uninjured.) It had claws that resembled goblin/human hybrid, and it had Ell’s hair. When Tulip looked in the eye socket, he saw the statue was empty.

Sufficiently creeped out by the weird little fairies, the party readied themselves to move as Tuleo verified that the fey mostly left Winny alone. He then poked his face into the water, still able to breathe air, and called out to the fey. A nixie popped up, and Tuleo invited her to adventure with him. He really troweled on the charm, and she agreed. He promised to protect her, and she gleefully left the lake (if they could go right away.) She said her name was Pippin. Tuleo asked her what they did to him, she matter-of-factly explained everybody had some of his blood to drink; the cosmic buzz was awesome!

The Fruum
Away from the fairies, the stone boat no longer floated. They trudged through the marsh, Wayland and Tulip balancing the massive statue of a basket, with the nixie frolicking in the waters of the marsh nearby. Then, a massive earthquake seemed to tremble the marsh; trees tilted in the mud, water danced. The nixie shrieked in pain and leaped up on Tuleo’s head.

A deep sound resonated, like “fruuuum.” A tentacle, 20-30 feet long and all black and unreflective, whipped up and assaulted them as they scrambled for a muddy hillock. More tentacles burst from the mud, tangling Ell; Wayland pulled her clear, and Vayu shouted for them to run as a vague memory of the shokoro servants of the Frog God stirred in his mind.

They sloshed as fast as they could through the waist deep water, and knee deep mud beneath, feeling the whole marsh alive and slithering below them. Winny was picked off, and as the nixie leaped to the boat for safety, Wayland and Tuleo fired on the tentacle. Severed, it withdrew, and Tuleo flew over to rescue Winnie as they struggled on through the marsh as fast as they could.

Eventually, on the edge of collapse, they had to stop their killing pace. Panting, they speculated on what that was, and what to do next…

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.