His Majesty’s Service, ACT 3, The Fading of the Light

Cillandar and the Challenge of Champions

A courier has arrived to give you an announcement. Listen closely as towsfolk huddle around you eager to hear too!

“Hear Ye, Hear Ye…The Challenge of Champions is only 7 days away!

Greetings citizens of the New Realm!!! The King cordially invites you to come and witness feats of strength, magic and wisdom as never seen.  If you are brave enough, you must enroll in the Challenge with the Adventurers Guild of Cillandar prior to the fortnight before the Challenge.  The cost to enter 1000 gp per party. The King will announce and introduce the Crown’s Heroes for the games at Opening Night, one hour past nightfall (here many whispers wonder who that will be! and cheering!)

Plague sufferers must not enter the city.  A full inspection is required at the harbor and outer city gates.  Failure to notify guardsmen of signs will resutt in immediate execution as per the King’s Mandate on the Plague. Citizens should be wary of any suspicious persons bearing the savage nature of our southern enemies the Ketians (here the crowd scorns and shouts!)

Gladiatorial matches of men and beasts begin after the Challenge.  Any who enter must forfeit their lives! (more cheering!). Come and witness the heroism of the New Age.  Come and partake in the games your King has created for his subjects, his majesty, the bringer of Light, the builder of a Nation, King Borindin!”

EPIC of the Godslayers

Although somewhere in another dimension, a short man in a boring teacher conference sits pretending to listen and doing other things besides writing the narrative of Heroic Characters, back  in the Known Realm, they are already composing songs of your glorious deeds!!!!

Here is a first sampling of what you overheard in The Ruffled Peacock Inn and Bar ( a favorite I am told of Flemin’s)  just a few short hours after your victory in the Challenge of Champions!

Rhett and Noah.  Good luck, best wishes, and we’ll miss you guys at the table! This EPIC’s for you!

The Epic Story of THE GODLSLAYERS AND THE CHALLENGE as sung by Bartolius the Bard of Cillanda

PART 1

Where once lived a mighty King who brought the land from the Night,

Where once traveled his Heroes, who  gave the Kingdom it’s might,

Where once was a Challenge, of deathly perils and beasts yet unknown.

Where the people did witness such glory, to give courage that coursed in our bones.

 

The Godslayers, sayeth the mage, as he reached for the Kingly sword on a knee,

“The Godslayers” thus shoutest the crowd, all hailed our heroes heartily.

But what kind of heroes were these, as the crowd besought their glistening mail?

Whosoever did sayeth these Lords would not on the Field rise to prevail?

 

Hockenbrecht, there was, a mage of reknown, who traveled the Land for a time.

His brand for the king, shone like Virtue, his legend forever in Rhyme!

And Laetis the Sleek, a ranger of Wilds, whose elven eyes take in all to see!

Spying enemies afar, O’ a plague to them, that crosses this Lord falsely.

 

Against green of bladed grass , Mustakakrish I viewed, a Wyrm’s blood courses his veins

Stood still in the Light of his adversaries,  all eclipsed by the size of his frame!

And beside him I heard from a lad through the cheers, that another was there by his side,

Casiopeia did take the field to Challenge her foes, amidst the applauding tide.

 

And last came the rogue, a beautiful scoundrel, whose garments were made all of mesh,

She lifted her gown, and thus we did behold the Legendary God Slaying Breasts.

And trumpets were heard, his Crowned Majesty rose, to give the decree for us all,

The Challenge of Champions and it’s Lordly heroes were for  Light’s glory willing to fall!!!!

 

And cheer we did then, as the Heroes did fade into tents made from cloth brilliant in hue,

But to what end we knew not, would our Heroes meet Fate or simply a Death not in view?

 

For once lived a mighty King who brought the Land from the Night,

For once rose his Heroes, who gave the Kingdom it’s might!

 

Morning winds did grow calm, and perhaps some did say that the Heroes had befallen the Test,

But emerged They did then and saw we did see the Medallion around Laetis’s chest!!

So cheer we did then! For Behold! we did see that the Heroes the Serpents did beat.

Lady Chance could not tame the Destiny call of Those who did give Her a seat.

 

As I stood in the crowd, my companions did yell of the dangers that our Heroes would know,

Of the Purple Wyrm, and the innards of Her, our brave Warrior Musta would go!

And later was told, that Wyrm fought with Wyrm amongst the cavities of Her deep Within,

But Musta did do what a lesser man could not, who’s Death inside Her guts might have been.

 

And lo we did Watch with a shuttering Heart to see Musta come out through the Door.

We did see his sign of True Bravery, hung on his neck thus adorned!!!

 

For once lived a mighty King who brought the Realms from the Night,

For once struck his Heroes, who gave the Kingdom it’s might!

 

Then was the chore of the perilous door and the slime that did sit just upon it.

But doubt we did not for escape did the Thief and the medallion she also did Donne it.

Lessa Summers did wave to her admiring Fans, and they knew she was loved by them All

She was asked for her Hand by a Lad, but  Lo! the Beauty did not seem to fall.

 

PART 2

 

And then to the pit did our Champions descend to face fire and the heat and the Flame.

But as we all know, all is Justice that Glows and our Heores did the Salamandar tame!

 Now, then came a time when a Priest for was sent to show Mercy and rescue her Men.

By the grace of the Flame their bars she did rent, earning ribboned reward for our Lords once again!!!

 

And the leader of woes, the Wrathful one chose to send himself to the edge of his doom

The rope Hockenbrecht clumb and his spells he did use with the power of not one mage, but Two.

 And lastly their came, a great Beast that was dripping with Bile The Bear with claws made of steel and Teeth to pierce Souls!

How did our Heroes escape the Savage from the Wilds? Oh Musta! So devious! Simply put him right into a hole!!

 

For once Ruled a mighty King who brought the People out o’ Night,

For once Hailed his Heroes, who gave the Kingdom it’s might!

 

Later that morn, we hearkened to hear That Magnum swords emerged thus Alive.

And then Skragga’s Minions with a shadowy Grin, But would we see our Heroes; our Five?

 

And from where I stood, I thought I did glimpse A silhouette of the Five Noble Lords!!!!

For out came the Heroes, glistened in sweat Faces rigid, and Righteous, and Bold!!

 Thus sayeth the King, that the Challenge is through And Behold! I place crown upon heads

Of our Gentle Lords, the Five Godslayer Lights For whom Destiny is now to them fully Wed!

 

Return to the Great City

The party makes it’s way on griffonback to the great city of Cillandar.  On the way, they hear an impossible story from Flemin and Maria who tell of a Wyrm, capable of magic and of a size to block out the sun.  Of how the Dragon attempted to take them, without immediate injury, of how their escape came only after a fall that should have resulted in their death, but only by pure chance were they saved through the trees.  Of how the Wyrm came back and of how they faked death.  Of her anger and mountain quaking roar. 

Harbor lights and city noise echo below as the flock soars into the castle’s inner courtyard.  The party is immediately set upon by a vast number of guard, but before too long, are brought to the King, with his treasure and appreciation. 

The PCs enter the King’s Talking Room.  A vast room surrounded by artifacts and texts of ancient knowledge, with fire roaring and the King’s eyes a blaze, the party tells his majesty of everything that has occurred. They discuss a group of southern adventurers rumored to take on the Ketians singlehandedly, destroying the great Hag Hyrdzag!  Of Del Lentios’s betrayal and fall into lycanthropy. Of the plague, and a possible cure.  Of the disappearances of settlements, of cults and New Gods, of the Ketians and their supposed spies. As the vast treasure is accounted for, Calyssa, the King’s daughter and the Legendary personage, known simply in the lands as “The Librarian” begins to investigate the Lanthorn, when her eyes fall on a text Hockenrecht had returned known to him as Iggwilv’s Demonicon.  Magical wards are put in place.  The party notices that the castle maintains a vast network of defenses, some of a mechanical nature they are unfamiliar with.  These protections are enhanced and the investigations into ancient lore are begun. An argument is heard between the King’s Bishop of the Flame Lord Belloran.  Belloran believes the book should be immediately destroyed as a false text of Gods which most surely brought destruction on the world in ancient times.  Borindin reminds him that when he was a boy, books themselves were never opened for the fear of what they might tell.

The party also learns of Geno’s royal heritage.  He was none other than Genovan, the King’s second born son, a mage of the realm. Borindin speaks of him and other matters related to war and the land deep into the night.  He offers wisdom and a curiosity that seems childlike at times, although there is no doubting his Majesty’s greatness of character and mighty leadership.

As the party is directed to lordly suites by Loyal servants, for the first time his Majesty offers the Brand. Several accept and recieve the magical bond emblazoned on flesh on the  upper arm in the morning.  The brand makes it impossible for the owner to harm his majesty in any way for any purpose. Indeed, nearly eveyone in the castle has one accept of course, the king’s son and daughter. The King does not seem to mind whether the members of the party recieve one or not, but in the morning, a faint twinkle is present in his eyes upon noticing several new brands among the Loyals.

After a feast of inner wild boar, the party is brought to the Royal Gate, where matters of state our addressed to assembled masses.  Here the party is called forth, given each a royal sword of such fine craftsmanship and asked for their name as the King’s Chosen for the tournament.  Hockenbrecht announces the group as “Godslayers”. The rest they say is history, as it is written in the Epic of the Godslayers for surely what will be generations to come.

As the winners of the Challenge of Champions (held only every five years) you are now recognized on sight.  Your fame preceeds you.  Dolls with your likeness are found in the hands of children in the streets and graffiti boasting of your many deeds appears in walls of alleys between brothel and inn. Does Lessa really walk on water?  Can Hockebrecht really speak with the dead?  Does Mustakrakish really descend from the great Wyrm, Abraxas, killed by Borindin himself in the First Days of the Realm?

His majesty, has asked you to accept his invitation to a Royal Dinner in your honor tonight, and will gladly provide you with royal suites again before the Battle of Heroes.

For only a Hero would risk their life for the advancement of skills and competitive spirit which keeps the darkness in the land at bay.

EXERIENCE AND TREASURE:

 

Well, there are none.  The Challenge is all for glory.  Experience however is huge, and I’m awarding you all a ton for kicking serious ass and working together as a team. Next session there are some in game opportunities to use your vast loot (127000gp) to buy some items purported to have magical means that rival the greatest weapons of the Old Age.  As to that we will see…

BATTLE OF HEROES, Adventure 5

The Battle of Heroes: Official DM warning….

 Ok amigos.  As you all know by now, “day 2” of Challenge occurs after the first Challenge Day whereby the Group earns the coveted King’s Swords.  Day 2 is the Battle in the arena where your character has an opportunity to be crowned by the King himself, as the one and only King’s Hero.  Commander Luger is the only surviving King’s Hero in the land except for of gcourse the King himself, but that is a very long story…

 A few hints, warnings, and details outside the game….

 1) All Heroes are chosen randomly except where later in the matches, only 1 opponent is present.  You will then battle that individual. 

2) Unless I tell you otherwise, consider each humanoid opponent to be a character with all of their abilities between level 7-9. If you decide to play/DM an adversary for me, make sure you keep the notes to yourself, but roleplay appropriately.

3) If you use a daily, it can not be used again in the tournament!  Encounters can be used each match.  Action points are awarded 1 per every 2 matches. Only one action point may be used in a match.

4) As usual, hp is halved.  Keep this in mind as your character can only go to negative 1/2 hp until they are destroyed.

5) Monsters and “odd occurrences” may be present in the game.  These are the products of the Gamemaster, Milroy Delosen.  He has been Gamemaster since most remember and it is rumored that even the King himself is unaware of the Gamemaster’s schemes.  Although far from predictable, the Gamemaster is believed to be fair in terms of the random nature of his “special happenings” which of course entertain the crowds tremendously.

6) During most Battle of Heroes tournaments, the Heroes fight against all manner of creatures brought from the inner and some rumor the outer wilds.  The animal handler for the King, Bilius Barnum is known to bring back creatures that he knows will interest the King.  Everyone in the Realms knows the King is a bit of a natureboy, and rumors abound that Bilius has outdone himself this year.

Any other questions prior to the challenge, let me know!

 

 

The Cillandar Gazette, Year 87 of the Known Age,

Late Summer Issue

The purpose of the Gazette is to bring knowledge to the citizens of our Realm Gallinor, in order to Light the Flame, and keep the denizens of Night at bay: By decree of his Royal Majesty, King Borindin, Lord of  Light.

Join the Lights.  Your Realm Needs You!

   Are you hungry for adventure?  Why venture into the ruins of the past without the power of the King to aid you?  Join the Lights and be rewarded.  Serve in the ranks of distinguished archaeologists recovering ancient tomes for the Librarian, or protect the passage of our grains from the southern lands on the King’s Road. Serve in the vessels that travel to distant lands or capture the beasts that threaten our borders or aid in the domestication of beasts.  Our Kingdom needs you.  Light your path!  For more information, see your nearest recruiting officer of Gallinor.

Meet a member of our Realm, Laetis’s Godmother, Dorothea Strahnger. 

As all in the Known Realms knows by now, the Great Lord Laetis was orphaned at a young age.  Most however, do not know of the woman who found him and took him in.  Laetis’s beloved “Nana” has been by his side during the entire Challenge of Champions.  King Borindin himself dined with her during the last challenge scenario. Her cheers for the Godslayers were heard often and early!  Mothers remember the lesson of Nana as you raise the warriors of our realm.  With greatness of the parent, comes greatness of child!

A message from our Bishop of the Flame, Belloran.

“I know all in the realms are rejoicing in the triumph of the Godslayers! For their name is apt, as worship to a god is both unnecessary and blasphemous.  In the sacred heat of the Flame alone, are we kept safe from the demons of Night’s folly.  For even just before their magnificent Glory, did the Godslayers take a knee before me and before nation and King alike swear their allegiance to the Flame!  So shall you all, keeping the nation of our King and of Gallinor a place of virtue and prosperity.  Keep warm the Flame in your hearts brothers and sisters! Seek out your Silver Flame Temple and tell your Priest of all you do for the good of his majesty and of the everlasting Torch that binds us all of good will!”

The Auction of Ahr

The Auction of Ahr this year will be held in the great Rotunda of the Harbor. Those wishing to sell merchandise have only until the Summer’s solstice to record their items for tax with the Merchant’s Guild of Cillandar.   Items of a magical nature must also be inspected by a member of his majesty’s Mage’s Guild for recording in the Great Halls of Records to assess their arcane origins from the Old Time.  Failure to report items properly is a Royal crime punishable by death.

Warnings and Law

  1. His majesty, King Borindin, reminds all citizens that signs of the plague include vomiting, diarrhea, open sores of the body’s orifices and decay of extremities. Any of these signs should be reported immediately to a priest of the Silver Flame.  Any persons in contact with an infected person must also report themselves. Failure to do so will result in death or banishment.
  2. Commander Luger reports that although rumors abound of Ketian penetration into occupied areas of Gallinor, our Realm remains safer than it ever has. Anyone producing rumors to the contrary may be brought to justice for encitement. 

Wanted:

  1. Governor Del Lentios: Governor Del Lentios is the former mayor of Carr Perrin, our beloved sister city in the Great Mountains. Del Lentios is a traitor to the Realm and Crown, having given himself to the Ketians for their unrighteous will.  He is accused of killing men, women and children while posing as city head.  Governor Del Lentios is wanted dead or alive.
  2. The enemy known as Red Owl is wanted alive by Commander Luger. Red Owl is the name associated with person or persons or beasts unknown which are wanted in connection with disappearances in colonial hamlets in the inner wilds. Red Owl is associated with cult and God worshiping magic. She is rumored to be a teifling, but may be in other forms as well.
  3. As usual, any member of the realm suspected of being involved in Ketian activities should be reported to a Lighted soldier immediately! 

Notices:

Members of the group, Skragga’s minions, which were disqualified in the Challenge of Champions tournament, have gone missing.  Information on their whereabouts may be brought to the Adventuring Guild of Cillandar. A small reward is being provided  by the wives of the adventurers.

Militia:  Members of our lights Realm, ages 18-24 (human) or 40-82 (non-human) may be called up to the Light soon for expeditions to unknown lands.  We know all citizens share in the desire of his majesty King Borindin to take these expeditions for the benefit of our people.

Wyrm Sighting:  Several Wyrms have been spotted in the local areas.  A large Black Wyrm has been  seen over Eastern waters and in the South.  Both white, blues and greens have also been reported near hamlets and villages in the Realms northern areas.  Our Kingdom has made no direct treaties with any dragons in Known years.  If you see one, you are advised to run and seek hidden safety.

The Parade

After a grueling contest, you are set upon a “float” and paraded through Cillandar.  The King uses this opportunity for a bit of PR and joins you with an enormous guard command.  During the parade, a group of orcs rushes from a small cottage door, a few pass the guards, and rub a gooey brown muck on several of your skins.  It wipes off and seems to do you no damage. Hockenbrecht studies it intently and determines it is organic in nature, but highly magical, which is usually polar opposites.  The orcs are slain by the guards before you can get information from them.

You are all invited back to your suites, given a royal banquet in your honor.  You see a play known as End Days wherein all manner of savage acts lead to the end of civilization.  The play is as old as anyone can remember, and you’ve seen many versions over the years yourself.  During the feast, Belloran discusses with Borindin the acts of paganism that abounds in the land.  His animal caretaker is also overheard letting his majesty know that “it isn’t meant to hold your majesty”.  Borindin’s reply is simple, it’s what the people need Billius”.

After the feast, Borindin reminds the assembled court members that curiosity, freedom, education and bold action keep civilization thriving.  Belloran rises and continues his speech while you all head to the Discussion Room.

The Discussion Room

During the discussion several key points come up you may wish to take note of:

  • The Wyrm encounter with Maria and Flemin is of serious concern as the Ancient Black could easily have made away with these two under different circumstances. Also, Borindin fears the Dragons as he has no alliances, or communication with them whatsoever. Furthermore, Dragons in the land have been keeping to themselves lately and this wonders Borindin and makes him anxious.
  • Belloran returns and informs the King of the paganism going on in the local areas. Belloran says that the king himself has evidence of these events possibly leading to the Doomsday.  Borindin believes that freedom of expression is what is needed to satisfy the Kingdom’s curiosity. Stopping that would bring motivations back to the darkness.  The King offers Soren as an example.  Belloran offers Zargon as an example. 
  • This leads to a discussion of the plague. Borindin reminds Belloran (who hints the plague may be the result of paganism) that the plague came from those originally whose villages were destroyed.
  • A discussion is made of the Northern Gate. Apparently, communication has been re-established with the command there.  All is well. The King is joyed to hear of this news.
  • Calyssa comes in to discuss with the King’s Mage, Moralus and Hockenbrecht, that the texts uncovered may lead to technological achievements never before dreamed. Calyssa reminds the king of the ship that was discovered by his chief archeaologist Duher in the Great Mountains. A ship found crashed upon a hillside peak.  Calyssa believes that if the mages can ascertain the main power source or magic to the ship, that a flying vessel could very well be constructed.
  • Ketians are discussed.
  • Finally, the King asks the party if they realize yet why he has allowed them into his inner circle. He declares that he knows his time is not forever.  He believes a time will come when others must take up the reigns and help his son. He fears the Ketians and believes that although he is optimistic about al he is doing, it worries that they may have influences he knows not.  He knows that there were once allegiances between giants, spirits of the elements and possibly even of Dragons and men.   If not them, then who?  He asks them to the roaring crackle of the fire if they would protect the Light when it matters most?
  • Borindin would like very much to have more information about the Ketians. He also believes that rescuing the southern adventurers is something that must be done.  He’s almost willing to go himself.  Commander Luger interrupts. He describes the frozen lands and the vast ice desert. He lets Borindin know that he is not willing to sacrifice any of his men on a suicide mission but that he will keep looking.  Perhaps, he says, Calyssa will make progress on her “metal men” with the new texts.
  • The King bids everyone a pleasant sleep and departs to bed full of thoughts.

The Auction

You gained the following items at the auction.  Please send me the amount of money you retained and make sure you write your item on your sheet.  When we shift to second edition, these items will be even more beneficial as you won’t have powers.  Please remember that in my thinking, magical items come and go.  Ie, don’t leave stuff hanging on your belt when you are hit by a fireball, in a pouch when you fall off a cliff, etc…

A Wand of Metal Attraction (charges unknown, possibly 3), A Nail of Building, useful in making awesome Gi Joe lairs under volcanoes and shit. Haha, Ice Cube which appears to freeze an unknown quantity of water instantly. Can be used once per week, limitless in uses.

A Wind Fan, A Spoon of Stirring, changes potions of one kind to another telling the user only if the new potion is beneficial or harmful, Ultimate Solution, Nails of sealing, Girdle of Many Pouches, Hockenbrecht?, Quiver of Ehlonna-Leaetis, Gloves of Thievery, Lessa, Shield of Throwing, Flemin, Executioners Axe +4, Mustakakrish, Darts of Homing (5)

And the legendary….

Deck of Many Things: We will discuss this further, but before you think you will become rich and powerful by pulling the cards, check out the generator Hockenbrecht discovered through his research in the Library.  He was only able to find  basic information on a pull.  All of you may pull but once, and death, loss of ability, and irreplaceable loss of all magic are only but a few of the permanent affects that you can get…

http://www.wizards.com/dnd/dmt/dmt.htm. Think before you pull.

Battle of Heroes, Round 1

Always this begins with the King’s Crowns chosen ambassador to lead the fighting with combat, in this case, Laetis..   Everyone takes their positions in the arena.  The crowd goes wild, mages on the left of the king.  Clerics on the right.  Scores of guards posted inside the walls.  Magical barriers placed around the King’s seats.

Laetis’ Nana is given the honors of announcing the first match.

Match 1: Laetis and the Otyugh.  Laetis wins.  It was close!

Match 2: Lessa vs. the Ogre, Squatch.  Squatch is angry that a human killed his brother.  He intended on taking it out on someone, but Lessa defeated him smartly.

Match 3: Musta vs. Sleesin, the Lizard Man: Musta wins. One round.  Need I say anything else?

Match 4: Flemin vs. the Owlbear: Flemin took him out! Period!

Match 5:  Maria vs. the Minotaur, Kaz.  Although despised by the crowd, Maria seemed to understand during the fight that Kaz was highly intelligent, and not to be trifled with.  When the King intervened to hear Maria’s request upon his behalf, he was so moved and tied to cultural tradition, he became her honorary apprecntice.  Kaz became her friend for life. Maria paid dearly for it, and took a seat amongst an admiring King to watch the rest of the match.  Nana took note that Maria might make a good match for Laetis, but Maria delared herself “taken”.

Match 6: Laetis vs. the Displacer Beast. Another close match costing Laetis the rest of his dailies! But, great play Jestre!  A tough couple of picks.

Match 7: Lessa vs. The Enormous Constrictor Snake.  Wow.  Honestly Noah, that was great play. Nice job of using your character’s attributes. I though for sure it was the toughest.

Match 8: Musta vs. The Manticore:  Musta dropped some serious damage and had to.  That manticore was riddling him with spikes!

Match 9:  Flemin vs. the …Rhett are you up?

Each match had a chance for a different event. Laetis was able to take out the displacer beast before the smoke would have given him virtual invisibility, etc. Nice job!

Here are the events I put in for your amusement:

Possible random events:

1 fire erupts through certain squares

2 smoke billows out from around the arena.  It creates a layer 3 feet high. Standing up exposes a person

3 collapsing towers, towers begin to rise up from below, they create a magical barrier, making it impossible for anyone to get beyond

4 smaller towers rise, they gleam with glowing black tar like globules.  Shooting them with fire of any kind creates a 2×2 explosion that deals +15 to Reflex 3d6+4 damage.

5 no event

6 a swarm of large grey spiders the size of rabbits is released.

During the match, the arena was shaken on several occasions. King Borindin is seen discussing things with Billius for a time.  Others have advanced too.  Skragga the Mage, Abraxas, the Dragonborn Pummeler, and even the King’s son, Cleric of the Silver Flame entered the competition receiving the sword to sword Honor before a cheering crowd. Don’t forget the elf ranger, who seems not to be trifled with.

Randomly the paths for round 2 will be:

Musta vs Skragga the Mage

Abraxas vs. Lessa

Winner of each will battle it out for shot at final match!

Laetis vs. Erelin the Elf (that was cool!)

Flemin (provided he wins one more match) vs. the King’s Son!

Winner battles it out for shot at final match.

Two more battles puts you in the final match.   Of course, there are even more random things coming.  Muahaha  May be the best win!

JUSTIN’S SICK EXPLANATION OF MUSTA’s BATTLES IN ROUND 1

Battle 1 Mustakrakish waited in the arena for his opponent, the crowd still cheering from the previous match.  He stood in the center and spun his giant executioners axe in his hands, the sun glinting off the jagged steel blade.  The gate rose and a lizard man walked out.  As the lizard man spoke his outrage about being treated like an animal and captive, Mustakrakish felt a small pang of sorrow and empathy for him.  He even, for a moment, thought about trying to talk and reason with the lizard man.  But when they locked reptilian eyes and Musta felt the palpable rage emanating from the lizard man he knew there would be no talk.

Musta smiled, his fangs glinting in the sun, as the lizard rushed to attack him.  The lizard got one good hit across Musta’s chest, forcing Musta to take a single step back.  Musta hefted his axe and swung it around behind him to bring it in an upward arc for a huge two-handed over-head chop which crashed down with all the considerable weight and might Musta could muster.  The lizard attempted to block but the effort proved futile.  The lizard man screamed in agony as it felt bone and sinew snap.  Blood fountained from the gaping wound that crossed from its left shoulder to right hip.   To finish the battle, Musta pulled his head back then snapped it forward and vomited acid all over the lizard mans body.  It took only seconds for his body to dissolve and his life to end. 

Musta held his giant axe over his head, his hands spread apart and roared his loudest dragon born roar.  The crowed erupted in cheers with the sight of a one round kill.

Battle 2:

After his rest and healing by the clerics, Musta waited anxiously in the arena for his next opponent.  Suddenly a blue magical dome covered the top of the arena but protected the crowd from being harmed.  At the same time black globules sprouted from the pillars around him.  Musta was confused by this but did not have time to think about it, as the gate opened and a snarling and enraged manticore burst forth.  It locked its eyes on Musta and roared furiously.  Musta roared defiantly back at the beast, letting it know he wasn’t intimidated.

The manticore charged forward then stopped abruptly, its head dipping down and tail flying forward shooting lethal barbed spines at Musta. Musta dodged as many of the spines as he could, but some were unavoidable and he took some heavy hits. Musta bellowed his rage and charged forward slashing at the left front leg of the beast, gashing it open. The manticore snapped his scorpion tale forward with lightning speed, catching Musta by surprise and stabbed him in his left shoulder. He ignored the increasing pain and continued the momentum from the first slash to carry his axe over to slash the manticores right front leg. 

Having both its fronts legs injured so quickly and jarringly caused the beast to collapse, but not before it took another stab with its scorpion tale, striking Musta in his right thigh.

Musta spewed acid out onto the manticores head causing the beast to scream in pain as it fell.

The beast stood up quickly though and lashed out with its scorpion tail, flailing it at Musta, shooting those barbed spines again. Musta was able to duck and avoid being struck but a pillar globule took a direct hit from one of the spines and exploded violently, causing a chain reaction up and down the whole pillar.  Waves of heat washed across the arena.  Musta used that moment of distraction, from the exploding pillar, to strike the manticore. If he missed this opening, he stood a good chance of losing this battle.  He was bleeding profusely from the many stab wounds he had taken and the thought of losing enraged the dragon born. Musta quickly brought his axe to bear and dropped a huge two-handed chop onto the beasts back.  The manticore roared and struck out with that deadly stinger again, but this time Musta was ready and spun sideways narrowly avoiding the blow.  Musta was invigorated by the turning of battle in his favor, causing his natural dragon regeneration to kick in and he felt some of his wounds start to close up and heal.  It also gave him a surge of energy which allowed him to use his spin from the dodge to carry his axe around horizontally into the right side of the manticores neck.  Blood erupted from the wound, spurting all over the sand. Musta yanked his axe from the wound then got nose to nose with the beast, so they could roar in each others faces. The manticore snapped its tail back to strike again, but not before Musta heard the satisfying sizzle of the acid eating away at the manticores brain.  The beast dropped dead onto the arena floor. The crowed roared its approval.  Musta stood tall and walked to the back of the monstrosity, hefted his axe one last time and chopped the end of the manticores tale off. 

Musta lifted the lopped off piece high into the air by the stinger, venom dripping out of the bottom, to the roaring approval of the crowd.

NOAH’s JOURNAL ENTRY FOR BATTLE The Diary of Lessa – (Round Two of the Challenge) – 8/20/11

Nam qui supersunt… Is that who I am speaking to? The last of the living, the last dredges of a culture, of a race and people now gone to the dust? These last few months have proved beyond any true explanation but now that we are the chosen, the ones called the “loyals” of a royalty that does not even understand the irony in its own existence, are we allowed access to a semblance of the truth of our situation – that precarious edge that we have walked.

I encompass this as the skilled power of that edge, as the shape in the night. Maria is the primal force, that rock that bridges my silence to a peace that even in her odder moments, tempers my thoughts. Such as when we were paraded through the streets in a mock enlistment of the King, did she live in the moment and truly embrace the crowd, the wild, and the frantic pace of this new world. “We are exchanging thought, creating a balance between their revelry and our discipline” she said to me as I patrolled the edges and watched her pull children to her, sign their dolls and give life through our deeds to the name of the King.  I haven’t seen her this thrilled, this excited, this involved in anything in years, not since she took the Pledge with that innocent look in her eye that reflected a will to establish herself by embracing the Balance. Loving the moment, living in the present… This is why I am with her and I am reminded of how, after all this, of walking through such terrifying parts of this plane, we still hone ourselves seeking a reason or thought that is constantly beyond us… Yet we still search and weight our deeds against it.

Maria with her honor, with that empathy with the primal and that force that swallows her, swallows me, swallows my companions in its strength. They pitted me against that Ogre and hearing him speak, I remember to being chastised for not truly understanding and I took pity… This is not the embrace of the void, of the present that she has pushed me to accept, but the look in the eye of a creature that made me think. Thus pity and mercy that was only half given.

This is why I love her and temper my approach, why I care: she took what I tried and amplified it, heard the Minotaur speak and didn’t just try but succeeded in understanding. “This is how we live… If we do not care about that, what else is there?” Her first words to me after that long night… Today I heard her cry to me out from the stands during my fight, and remembered her speech to the crowd “Let this beast, no, this BEING be granted amnesty and be a testament to the will of the King! To the greater purpose of the men and a representative of all that is just and right!” How many others would have turned to that crowd, raised her hands with her back to a “monster” and drop their weapon? I wonder what she finds in me…

The snake that I was pitted against, another monster to be culled. It coiled itself and struck stone as I vanished into the mist, I confused it with a cloud and strangled it with darkness. Its head ripped as I pulled and I felt its second skin come off as its body thrashed and ripped against my garrote and I remember looking up as I heard her scream at me and raise her hands in support, smiling broadly as its body rolled around me and she screamed with the rest as I stood shakily to me feet. This is the person I know and this is the battle I will fight: we are here because this is who we are, this is what we do, and we will continue to embrace this spirit at the expense of all else.

Our spirit, our will, makes it fitting to remember that we are the last of the living, the survivors of our birth and the heralds of an age yet to come. She tells me, looking over my shoulder and reading this, that it is also humbling to remember that this applies to us all. Those of us who survive, who live, will  usher in another age. I will add the thought that we are shaping what this will actually entail.

Battle of Heroes, Session 2 and Finale!

AKA “The Hullabaloo in the Zoo”: Finale to Battle of Heroes

As round 2 of the Battle commenced, a magical field was placed around the fighting zone.  Several Ketian suspects were executed to the delight of the crowd. The King stood and saluted the warriors as the matches continued.

First up was Mustakrakish vs. Skragga.  Yep… Skragga went down lightning fast, but he was not to be treated thusly.  While Musta turned to take in the adoring crowd, Skragga pulled a knife from his belt. But Musta dodged the blow, and knocked him out. Skragga was chained magically to the pillar.

Then was Laetis vs Erefin, the elf ranger.  Leatis in true sportsmanship defeated Erefin and seemingly gained acknowledgement from a foe who up until that point had given none.

Flemin battled Genoran, the King’s son, but fell in close combat.  He was healed and acknowledged his adversary from his place along the magical wall.

Lessa Summers battled Abraxas the Dragonborn fighter. But using her talents to hide and dodge, was able to damage him in a way that kept him from damaging her tremendously.  Lessa was victorious but seemed to upset Abraxas who was unhappy about her slinking around. The crowd, nonetheless loved her fighting style and cheered vigorously for her!

Rain clouds form and lightning tears the sky. It begins to rain. Puddles form in the sand of the arena.

Subsequently, Lessa went on to battle Genoran. After a close battle, Genoran was able to track her down and did enough damage to end the fight. 

Mustakrakish fought Laetis and again, although Laetis fought vigorously, Musta emerged victorious, lending a hand to his fallen comrade in the process.

Final Match

As Mustakrakish and Genoran took their places in the arena, Borindin rose and announced to the crowd the surprise he had in store for them when the games had ended. He wished them both luck and battle commenced.  Perhaps, someday the story of the battle will be told, but for now, it can simply be said that Mustakrakish defeated the cleric, and showing mercy, kept the final blow to a glancing shot.  The crowd cheered Musta’s victory, Billius emerged from the darkened gate below dripping blood and screaming “It’s loose,  by the Light, it’s gotten free!!!!!”

Rain pours.

A gigantic mouth envelopes out of the darkness, shaking Billius side to side and drags him back into the lower chamber. Suddenly, an enormous Tyrannosaurus emerges and makes a beeline for Skragga stlll chained.  He swallows him whole and seeing the King’s Son nearest chases him back into the darkened gate below.

Crowd is crazy. Clerics, mages and warriors run to form a protective shield around Borindin. Flemin stays to protect the king.  Kaz, sensing a warrior’s fight jumps to the arena and the Loyals chase into the darkness.

The scene below them is one of chaos. Metal bars are strewn around. Manticores and carrion crawlers, a Dire Bear, and a large male Lion are attempting to flee or fight.  The dinosaur is stomping through the watery muck towards Genoran panting and shaking in a cage below, trying to stay clear from the dinosaurs searching jaws.

Battle ensues and wth his last words Billus warns of a second beast, another T-rex.  Lessa attempting acrobatics crawls up and over the dinosaur but loses consciousness when the creature hits her with it’s tail, knocking her to the chamber walls unconscious.  As the water rises, the dinosaurs bring the fight to the fighters. Genoran emerges from the cage, comes to Lessa, and within a few rounds has disappeared!  Luckily, a member of the party is able to move around the enormous beast and keep Lessa’s head above water.

With swift and accurate arrows, and strong axe swings, Phineas and Ferb are finally vanquished, leaving a bewildered and troubled King, who finally managed to fight his way through the fleeing creatures above to the watery rubble below.  “Where is my son! MY SON!!!!!!” Yells the King.

And where is the son?

The Loyals will be taking a break now. With your new found power and glory you will all want to , like HOckenbrecht, find the training that works best for you to begin your Paragon Paths.  Obviously, the new fame and fortune you’ve found has done little to keep you safe, and it seems as though perhaps even more dangerous events lie ahead. You will need it for your upcoming adventures in October, December and February ish.  When you have found your path, be sure to let me know so  I can view your sheet (not to check on you but rather to know your powers better) and a bit of your storyline, if you wish.

Looking ahead for the Loyals, I have a possible set of adventures. Depending on your actions this could be changed completely, but since the Loyals won’t be playing for awhile I thought I’d give you something to think over:

Hell Hath No Fury  or other (Octoberish), 4th edition, Behind Enemy Lines or other (December ish), 4th edition, Crypt of the Devil Lich (February, just in time to get your heart broken), 2nd edition or 4th edition, player preference

A Message from Hockenbrecht…

Sometime after the Battle of Heroes, the serpentine owl, nicknamed  Hooter, by his majesty during a late night discussion, which you took from the Lost Caverns, appears at your side.  Speaking in a voice that is very familiar it begins…

Greetings Fellow Loyals,

 I am hard at work with Calyssa determining the origins and powers of Iggwilv’s Demonicon text we took from her Inner Sanctum.  I believe that our many adventures there may be just the beginning of the discoveries to come.  It would appear through my arcane research into the text that those in ancient times believed in the power of the Gods and worshipped them far more openly than we may have previously believed. Furthermore, we’ve found no evidence that the Silver Flame was even a  religion at that time.  As you know  I could be executed for this knowledge under Bishop Belloran’s authority so  I urge you to keep this potential discovery a secret at all costs until I know more.

Even more important to you all is the fact that Calyssa and I believe that these ancient Gods may have even granted powers to followers that extend beyond what the Templars of the Silver Flame currently possess. Perhaps Abar’s power is of this ancient class.   He did procure the plant that is affecting a cure to the plague after all.  I urge you all to be careful, but to take note of the powers you witness and return the knowledge to me when or if you witness it.

I also am concerned that Iggwilv may have been far more important and powerful than we assumed.  Her name idol and ensignia appear in more and more of our discoveries of items brought to us by Duher, the King’s primary archeologist.  Calyssa is discovering a possible connection between Iggwilv and other prominent names in ancient lore.  If Iggwilv was able to USE this text, and not simply study it, she must have been much more powerful than what we encountered in the Lost Caverns.

Lastly, we have created a task force to build a vessel  to the design specifications of the engineering texts we found.  If you could somehow harness a power spirit of wind or of flight or some other magical means  I am certain a vessel could be created capable of flight!

My arcane knowledge and power is growing as of late through study, and  I hear with your triumphs in the arena, and under it, yours has too. May the luck of our earlier adventures be with you.  Until we may battle together again my friends.

Hockenbrecht

P.S.  I’m not able to leave the laboratory right now, as my research here is extremely time sensitive and well, it’s complicated, however, the slug we found upon the walls of Tsocanth needs a new home.  It may be that it has some form of a restorative nature to the skin. Of that I can not be sure, but it does not appear to harm.  If you’d like to take him off my hands please send reply with Hooter and I’ll make sure he gets to you. He’s leaving tracks all over my damn spell book…

 

To Crown a Friend

Notification from His Majesty, Borindin,

Slayer of the Great Wyrm,

Bringer of Light,

To Loyals, AKA the Godslayers, Champions of the Land. (Follows is the hasty script of Borindin’s Chief Scribe and his official seal)

Fellow warriors,

          It is my great and sincere pleasure to introduce you cordially to Rilf Barrowson this Solstice Eve at my Tower’s Feast Hall. Rilf, as you all know, is an avid collector of fine antiquities. I believe you all have had some knowledge of him during the Auction of Aur, some days ago prior to the Battle of Heroes tournament.

          Rilf,  is a renowned thief, who keeps residence outside the city limits.  His Spottle games, I am sure, are well known to you, as they are known to all in the realm. Rilf has given some time and expertise to various items I have been brought recently by our Chief Archeaologist, Duher, who is currently on assignment elsewhere.

          Having been  in various matters recently involving the dealings with both the tyrannosaurs and the situation in Cillandar’s Harbor, I would like very much to have your presence here when we feast, so that you might meet the Master Thief, and share in our conversations.  It is my understanding that Rilf has dealings with various persons in the nearby countryside who could be of importance to you as you search for a more permanent residence.  And I know you will delight in what I have to show you during dinner.

          Please be prompt, as I am told Bishop Belloran will be giving the Dinner’s Prayer, and I know that Caseopia will find the message most Enlightening.

          I hope this notification finds you all in excellent health. I have enjoyed hearing tales of your glorious deeds in the arena and elsewhere.  I would like to, if I may, caution you to avoid certain areas of Cillandar’s Ward.  I have received information through Commander Luger that various persons have been reported speaking ill of the Godslayers.  Now that  your fame precedes you, it wouldn’t do to give an opportunity for those of ill will, against your graces.

          Until the Solstice…May the Flame keep you.

(the mood of the letter is more flattering and positive than Borindin is known for, and quite informal compared to previous messages you have received. Borindin sounds….happy)

B.

BEHIND THE SCENES

I’m sending out a chance for your character to help decide important events to come in the campaign.  

CLERIC

Belloran gave you the Lanthorn.  A magical item of tremendous properties.

Belloran will not make it back to Cillandar alive.

Should the Silver Flame be under serious threat of collapse, would Casseopiea take up the mantle or help protect it?

Or would your character let the Silver Flame go out, and seek guidance elsewhere? Would you consider any of the popular Cults springing up? Or would you perhaps, create some of those “retroactive laws” with the Silver Flame…haha

FIGHTER

When invasion comes to Cillandar, and things change politically, what would Mustakrakish do? Given that Musta is well known, popular (when he isn’t killing innocent Ghasts), and has followed in Luger’s footsteps as Champion. Would Musta be willing to lead forces into combat against a greater enemy? Leaving Krom to handle more of the “mission” things?

Would Musta be willing to be the target of assassination, unfairly, purposefully placing him in a position for some evil shit directed at him alone with dire consequences, or would he rather play it safe and seek the enemy out in his own terms, secretly?

THIEF

Do you see Scunch as someone who would give a rat’s ass about whether or not the world became a place of evil, or would Scrunch be willing to risk his life in order to save it? Would his deeds so far have been for personal profit, or would he have been part of a more secret society?

 Our next few sessions involve espionage and some careful maneuvering by the party.  Does Scrunch has any ties to local crime sindicates?  Thieve’s guilds? Does Scrunch have a past that brings him into contact with any of these forces?  

 Does Scrunch fly solo, or is there more to Scrunch then meets the eye? How much, if any, would you like Scrunch to be part of a more secretive movement against evil forces, or would you not want anything to do with it?

WARLOCK

As you can tell by now, I never miss an opportunity to sabotage the party. Of course, it’s all part of the story, and well, they all have to have adventures anyway…

My point is…

As you consider playing a warlock (which by the way I think is radical!), would you consider bearing a secret?  IN other words, are you willing to help me sabotage the party?  I promise your traitorous aims will not directly kill them, but I’d like you to basically be “working for” one of the traitors “Calychia”…You will be a cursed soul, who hears her speaking to you…at some point in the months ahead, you will help me provide a hook for the party to seek her out and destroy her.  During the battle against her, you will reveal yourself as the traitor you have become, but then may switch allegiance and “take her out!”

So, would you like to roleplay this warlock like that? If so, mum’s the word.  If not, let me know how you see your character fitting into the story arc. Playing a warlock is pretty badass and I’d like to see you get the most out of it. BTW, consider playing a tiefling as they really stack modifiers in 4e with the warlock…

HYPERION’S DISPATCH TO LOYALS

To Loyals,

From Hyperion, His Majesty’s Mage and Servant, Urgent.

The following letter arrived for you via courier just after returning to Cillandar. It was handed to you nearly the instant you landed.

 My fellow servants of the Flame. If you shall recall, after completing the Challenge of Champions, you were paraded through the city with much fanfare to the delight of the crowd and especially to Lord Borindin.  When the parade entered the Central Market Area, you were also swarmed by a troop of Bugbears who subesequently wiped a brown sticky substance on each of your skins. 

Both Hockenbrecht and I have been working diligently on what this substance may be.  I am sending you this dispatch because I believe I have recently uncovered it’s origin, and I urge you all to be cautious in your dealings. As you know I concern myself with many creatures and their ecologies, as I believe several species especially show more prominence in the fossil record and may shed light on our origins to this point.

But I digress.  To get right to the point, the substance is magical in nature and is also viscuous, having a certain acidic quality.  In ancient mention of Dragons, the substance is not unlike a fluid secreted by Dragons of a certain nature to mark their environments and thus learn of changes in their Domains.

 What I am saying is that the substance placed on you, may in fact be the markings of a Wyrm.  Furthermore, a Dragon of this capability must be very old, perhaps ancient in fact, and would be, if I may be so bold, beyond your Lordships capability to defend against.  I therefore urge you all to remain cautious and above all, protect yourselves as you and I may very well be Borindin’s best line of defense in the coming of troubles ahead.

As neither Borindin or those on his Battle Staff are aware of any of the more powerful Dragons believed to still exist from the Before Times, their motivations or their allegiance to either our LIghted Realm or to the Ketian uprising, I would have a sword on my hilt while sleeping if I were you.

 If I slept…Hyperion.

 

The Light Flickers

 

The Loyals and LIghts have been busy in the last year, serving the King in his various missions. The Loyals led a mission to Tsojcanth in order to return the legendary Dauod’s Wondrous Lanthorn, and bring back technologies lost since the  destruction of Iggwilv in the submerged city of her creation. Unwittingly, they came across the static body of Iggwilv herself, and in a terrible battle defeated her and barely escaped with their lives. The Light’s investigated the supposed ambition of a member of a new faith, a faith in a God, only to realize this faith was falsified, and discovered secrets of the ancient world and other mysteries of unknown lands. 

 Recently, disappearances have begun again.  Rumors abound of Ketian invasion, and Cult like activity in and around Cillandar are making some in the Silver Flame heirarchy concerned about the loyalty of the people.

A Minor Event on the Wall

The party is called out to assist a group of the King’s Shield’s attempt to clear a hive of giant wasps. The wasps have decided to use the Castle Tower’s outer wall as a location to place their nest.

En route, the Godslayers are welcomed by crowd member alike and singularly stalked through town by adoring fans.  Coming to the Eastern Gate, the party sees a tense sight.   Groups of Silver Flamists and groups of the new Cult of Zargon are being separated by Shield Militia.  Casseiopia gets the story from the leading Cleric in the area, Father Kenius.  Kenius tells her about a young girl who was approached by Cult members and who is now a member of the Cult herself.  The mother and father are not able to speak with her and things have erupted into a hotbed of hatred.  Many believe if Borindin were to acquiese, the Flame would execute the Cultists, without delay or hesitation as they have so many other blasphemers over the years.  Cassiopeia decides to discuss the matter with Belloran at a later time, and the party continues on to the wall.

As the party approaches they see scaffolding and ropes and look over to see several brave young Shields in combat while dangling from ropes with wasps while other members hack away at the nest material sticking to the surface.  As the party helps the successful Shields up they come face to face with their biggest fans! The Shield members who survived the encounter in the Dungeon Store Room with Primordia the cat, get autographs! One of them even has a tattoo of Musta!

CASIOPEIA GETS TO BUSINESS!

Casiopeia requests an audience with his majesty in order to understand and involve herself in the Cult and the matter of the young girl “taken”.  Borindin gives her approval to speak to the cult, but not to represent the Realm. The party uses Greasy Grelda and the resources they acquire in their time at the Rusty Sabre (Smudge’s sleeping quarters..) to learn of several things.   Casiopeia decides to talk again with the mother and father but when she returns to their living quarters, discovers that they too have joined!  Led by Caiopeia, the Loyals decide to exit the outer walls and approach the tent city of Zargon, in order to discover what is going on.  When they approach, they find members of the cult seemingly in mundane tasks.  They strike a gong letting the cult know that new members seek to have an “experience”.  Despite, Smudge’s attempt to infiltrate the area, little is gained, and after speaking with Mom and Dad, even Casiopeia leaves the tent city having found out little that might concern them further.

THE LIGHTING OF FLEMIN

By Borindin’s request, the Godslayers are asked to fly on his Wing of Griffons to Carr Perrin in order to give representation and credibility to the population there for the Lighting of Flemin.Flemin, who has recently been training personnel in the King’s Shields, and who has been growing in admiration by the troops, has been chosen by Borindin to replace Del Lentios, the traitorous rat lord that the Loyals previously investigated.  The party flies to Carr Perrin, uneventfully.

Once there, Flemin treats the party well, and asks them to stay on after the ceremony to investigate a few things.  Casiopeia recieves a note from Bishop Belloran, who came via land to Carr Perrin.  The Lighting begins as dawn creeps over the Ancient Everreach Mountains, thousands have gathered around the central marketplace within view of the raised dais.  During the ceremony, the Light’s Awakening traditionally starts things off.  The Head of the Order of the Flame chooses a worthy member of the community to return to life, symbolizing the life renewed by the leadership of the appointed Governor.  Things begin as Belloran has chosen a recently deceased member of the Flame to Raise.  A Lighted soldier, honored in life recently was killed on duty. His body lies across a pedestal, his family near and the multitude of citizens watching, as Belloran begins the ritual to return him to life.  However, something goes terribly wrong!!!

The body begins to writhe and suck in breath, typical in cermonies such as this.  However, the face distorts and wing like appendages begin to grow out of the spine of the man. As it begins to animate itself and stand, Mustakrakish plants his spear in it’s face, to the shock and awe of all, including Belloran!  The crowd, is clearly displeased with Musta, but Belloran steps in!

“Citizens of Carr Perrin!”, he proclaims, “Have no fear! For the Lord Mustakrakish has vanquished the Demon sent to take the body of your beloved Lighted Soldier! He has been called back to be with the Flame, and I know what you have witnessed today concerns you all!  There have been some here who have heard the rumors of the false prophet Zargon and the Cult that has inhabited the spaces outside the Great City of our Realm, Cillandar.   He claims to have worked miracles! (boo!) He claims to have worked healing magics! (boo). He claims to have worked through a God!  This is what the false Gods and Demons of the ancient world wrought! Stay within the light I implore you.  Do not walk from it, so that your fate will be darkened by the sinister and deviousness of man! Only through devoted Faith in the Flame are we safe from the Darkness!”  Cheering erupts, as Belloran is immediately escorted off the dais, still showing signs to those nearest that he is shaken up.

Casiopeia has never seen a failed raise dead ritual, nor evidence that the ceremony was performed incorrectly or incompletely by Belloran!

THE INVESTIGATION OF THE EXCAVATION AND THE HAMLET

Flemin asks them to accompany him on a couple of “errands”. First, he shows them a discovery made when he took over, an apparent excavation from the Wererats in a field near the town center.  The excavation shows a large disk 30 feet in diameter.  Evidence of tampering with the disks. Loose dirt around the disk does not seem to be stratified. Flemin is very concerned about the disk, and has sent word secretly to Borindin.  The party isn’t really sure what to make of things. No, it’s not flying saucers.

Flemin then shows them the disappearance of a local hamlet, further South of the Aluene before the Falls of Briminox. Casiopeia’s expertise as a healer helps her determine that several deceased have signs of post deceased wounds.  As if the wounds were made after death.  A small bump is found on the outside elbow and back of the knee as well as the back of the head by the hairline.  Another body, of an elderly man is found with no signs of obvious death, an amulet around his neck is made of concentric circles. No prints from any creature or man exists beyond those of the villagers who seemed to have congregated and then walked to the river. From there, no one seems to know what has happened….

FAREWELL TO CARR THERIS

The party departs in the early morn, but before leaving Belloran summons Casiopeia.  Casiopiea is given a direct order, an Order of the Flame to carry the Lanthorn back with her to Cillandar! Apparently, Belloran, brought the object with him to Cillandar to use it to impress the population and assist him in his support to crush the growing Cultists!!!! But, either unable to work out it’s magic or shaken up and afraid of it’s use after the failed ritual, he wants no part of it, and requests that Casiopeia take it with her, as he leaves via caravan.

Once airborn, the party makes all haste knowing that they must keep to their schedule if they are to arrive in time for the Winter Solstice Feast in Cillandar.  As they take off, the clouds sweeping over the Evereach coalesce, their colors milky grey and growing heavy with rain.  Cas makes it known that she possesses the legendary artifact, and growing concerned, the party makes a beeline to Cillandar, flying over the infamous canyons below carved from the meandering Aluene.

As  the party navigates the edge of the storm, figures appear on the horizon behind them, large, winged figures.  Wind and rain beat down on the party as thunder crashes and lightning illuminates the shapes growing larger. 

Figure 8 A Chase through the biting rain, the party flees from the hideous beasts, a rider set atop each.

Fast and furious come the pursuers, their shapes taking on an eerie insectile like form, a rider apparent now on each.  Quickly, the party decides that an arial fight is not to their advantage and decide to use a strategy that gives their lighter mounts an edge.  They fly into the winding canyon below, as the chasing riders gain.  Winding through the canyon, feet above the river, the party searches desperately for a place to land and that they might gain the upper hand in.  They find a cavernous entrance, and landing quickly move their mounts into.  Although the canyon they’ve entered opens to the sky above, it contains but one accessible entrance or exit, for both the party and the pursuers.

As the party hears the landing of large beasts, they see a huge insectile head emerge into the opening, it’s size like nothing they have ever seen.  Bones and other harnessing dangle from it’s hide like some sick mimicry at domestication.  From outside, the sound of chain and metal, swords being drawn.  Slowly, a form emerges outside, and a voice echoes across the canyon, around you, mightily as if from many directions.

“Godslayers they have now called you!!! For what do you know of the Gods or their MIGHT!!  Come hither children of the New Age and let me introduce you first to your new Master, and to the power of the Ancients!!”

“Suck my dick!” yells Caseopia!!!

“Cleric of the Flame, why don’t you bring the light to me, for it is only I who can bear it, and I who will choose WHEN to extinguish it, as I once did before. COME.”

“Dragonkind.  Sad you are. Just a throw away of what your ancestors wished for you. Discarded. Know you not yet of your Race’s true origins?”

and you…Forged Soul.  Your Awakening signals the Dawn of the Final Chapter in this World.  The way to survive it is through ME.”

Now, bring me the Light, so that I might ALLOW you the little time you have left with your insignificant king, in your insignificant world.”

As you prepare for the inevitable battle, the words echo around the canyon, reverberating off the sandy gravel and sandstone walls..  A figure does indeed emerge through the opening, it’s frame blanketed by a billowing gown.  One arm grips a sceptre, the other, cleaved off at the elbow, hangs at it’s side. A morose crown upon it’s head, the face all too familiar. 

“Genoris!” shouts Laetis, “No,  it can’t be!”

“The Light brings comfort  to the hopeful, but the Darkness brings POWER!”

 

Iggwilv is alive (or dead) and quite well, thanks of course to you all for setting her free in the Heroic Tier. Oh, she’s been up to some grand things, as she can’t wait to ascend to Godhood once more.   She and her colleagues have chased the party down to a river bed in the great Aleutian Canyons east of Cillandar and now have them essentially cornered, as their griffon mounts were simply no match for her insectile steeds, nor the demonic riders atop them. They chased you through the thick storm clouds on your way back from Flemin’s Lighting as the new Governor of Carr Theris. Will much of what you learned there be able to save you in your Paragon Path? Or will ultimately, the THREE TRAITORS rise once more, only this time to succeed in their determination to destroy the world as the cost for their ascension? She greatly appreciates your willingness to both A) hand over the Lanthorn and B) serve her in death.  

 

 

SPECIAL SESSION,  IGGWILV’S RETURN

AKA Death by the Aluene

Around the cavern walls echoed the voice of Iggwilv, l“GODSLAYERS THEY NOW CALL YOU!!!!! Muahahahaha…for what do you know of the GODS!!!! But that you have freed ME of my prison once more!!!! COME FORTH, SHOW YOURSELVES.  LET ME TELL YOU OF THE POWER OF THE ANCIENTS as I have your friend, Genoris…

Three Demonic Knights dismounted and drew swords of incredible ferocity from their sheaths. Jagged and made of an incredible forged steel.  The Knights themselves, seemed as forms of metal and parts bound together, with bony skulls of different animals for helms. Something glistening and dark inside the form, similar to their steeds but difficult to see in the tumultuous and pouring rain whipping itself around them. They moved unlike a man, but mimicked one’s form and movement. The party had not seen their like. Their mounts snapping and pawing restlessly, the Knights waited for their Master.  A hooded figure approached Iggwilv, speaking in Deep Speech, the mage overheard “For the ones I’ve discussed, I need them alive for the Darkening, for the others, destroy them. Bring the Lanthorn to me. You may have the one you seek for the factory.  He should prove powerful in your experiment.”

THE BATTLE

Mustakrakish and Scrunch did not fail in their designed plan to keep the enemy at bay outside the cavern entrance.  Each time the enemy came near, both fighters cunningly used powerful maneuvers to hold them at arm’s length.  Laetis expertly struck at the foes from afar, while Smudge waded first into the enemy lines.  Before the Mockery of Genoris (someone google “ Mockery Eberron” for a spoiler) was able to provide Iggwilv another humiliated corpse, he was struck down. His crown, a ruined interpretation of his father’s, falling to the sand and gravel, a scepter clattering amongst his evaporated form, falling in a heap at the foot of his enemies.

As his whithered face distorted into a death stare, for a brief moment, his former friend and companion, Laetis, saw him mouth the words “Thank you my friend”, and he was no more.

But then a form, lithe and seductive, creeping along the cavern edge, animalistic and perverse, she crawled along the sandstone walls, dominating several of the party, whispering words of direction to them.  Landing within the inner circle of the party she attempted to seduce the mage, singing the song of Iggwilv, something few mortals had ever heard, or ever will, the words still linger in your minds taunting you in your dreams!!  One day, perhaps, if you can handle the nightmares, the words of the song may be available to you, perhaps even help you in times to come.

The Muse she was called, and struck down she was soon by the party, falling into a pile of ash at their feet.

And then the first Knight fell, the metal and parts loosening and falling around him, as a humanoid form underneath began to transform.  A human, one of the Southern tribesmen perhaps, with marks on it’s elbows, and knees!!!!

Next, Scrunch decided to use his Bridle of Control and climbed aboard the insectile steed of the enemy.  Using great care, he used the steed to strike down the enemy Illithid, the visage revealed underneath the hood, before Iggwilv!! His race a mere legend in Gallinor, but tonight the Legend proved real! To what tremendous power could have brought him forth from the depths! And to what end?  Before his psionic powers could corrupt the power and sway the battle, they knew he must be destroyed! Just as two of the party were lying helplessly and Casseopiea was about to be swayed by the Dominating Powers of the Traitor Iggwilv, the Chasme attacked Scrunch, and Iggwilv entered the cavern, changing form into a hideous beast, “Cleric of the Flame, she called, come forth and meet the Power of the All Consuming Night! Give me the Lanthorn, or you will not just perish but serve me as a Mockery of your former selves, for an eternity of Mortals!” Her form blocked the rain from falling atop the party below, as her massive face lowered to the Cleric with a burning hatred for her faith!!

As the party sways the fight, Scrunch changes mounts and finds himself outside the protection of his friends.  As it looks as though Iggwilv’s attempt to retake the Lanthorn may in fact be thwarted, she offers the party a final demanding offer.  The Lanthorn, for a Life.

          With Scrunch dying, IGGWILV makes very plain her wishes  “Hand me over the Lanthorn you foul residue, or I will destroy this Soul-forged  and send him back to the Darkness where he first came from forevermore…  I will not offer this again.   Provide me the Lanthorn, live to enjoy Cillandar’s last days or I will kill this insignificant heap of scrap, and take it from your dead corpses soon enough!”

          The Godslayers didn’t hesitate. One by one they gave Iggwilv her answer.  And did everything in their power to thwart her. As the rain poured, and the life energy of Scrunch continued  to fade away lying in the sandy banks of the river Aluene, the rhythmic thrum of the rain beat down on his outstretched body, just out of sight of the party. As he clung to his last remnants of consciousness,  the Demonic Fiend brought her huge form to where she could look down upon him and where he could see her colossal form, pitiless and supreme. The Fiend stopped above him, eyes glaring at the party beyond.  Her great bastard sword, came down and cleaved his breastplate in two. Slowly she lowered her great and massive head down to his and whispered, “I was there at your creation, so shall I be at your destruction.” As the red eyes of Scrunch faded into oblivion, or some nether region we know not of, Iggwilv then turned her form to the others and bellowed “NOW GIVE ME THE LIGHT! Or I WILL MAKE CORPSES OF YOU ALL AS WELL!!!!! DO not interfere in the Re-Ascension of your GODS. I offer you  a chance to aid me in the Darkening of this Land once more.  To take your place amongst my legions.  My power will soon be restored, DO NOT STAND IN MY WAY!!!! GIVE ME THE LANTHORN or YOU WILL KNOW THE MEANING OF PAIN, DESPAIR and HOPELESSNESS.”

VICTORY …for Now

           As the party answered with a deafening battle cry, Iggwilv picked up Scrunch’s lifeless form and hunched down to launch herself to freedom.  But lo! The party would not have it, for cleverly they had disguised a plan and using the last charge of their Magnetic Wand, with one final chance, pointed it at Scrunch’s body, pulling him free of her powerful grip!!  Iggwilv, who was not to lose one of her favorite pets, scooped up ash from her Muse, and alighted to a position where she could take flight.

“YOU ARE ALL INSIGNIFICANT AND INCAPABLE CATTLE! YOU HAVE ONLY POSTPONED THE INEVITABLE. 

I WILL NOT TAKE OUR NEXT ENCOUNTER IN VAIN, MORTALS.  BEFORE THE SOLSTICE REACHES IT’S ZENITH YOU WILL ALL SERVE ME. THE LIGHT BLINDS YOU!! (a treacherous smile) TELL YOUR HERO KING THE DARKNESS COMES. HE IS TOO LATE…AND KNOWS TOO LITTLE.  TELL HIM THE CANDLE IS AT ITS END! YOU WILL BE  A MOCKERY OF THE NAME YOU DARE CALL YOURSELVES. AS WILL THE REST OF THE WORLD BE.  MY PASTURE!!!

Figure 15 Iggwilv’s Muse: Once a former Spiritualist in one of the many tribes in the Inner Wilds, she now serves Iggwilv, as a replacement for love lost.

Adventure 2: Discoveries At Home

THE LIGHT FLICKERS!!

As you wing your way along the great Aluene river, the sun shining on your dirty faces and it’s first rays glistening brightly off the now still metallic form of your friend and companion Scrunch (DM smiles here), you notice something amiss with the river.  Laetis, with his natural experience can tell that the river has left riser marks much higher than normal, and huge patches of mud along the banks where none should have been. The river itself is changed in hue, a darker color, a Greyish tone.

 Casseopia notices off to the North, in the sandy marshes, near the Sea of Gallinor, tiny white specks, the robes and tents glitter in the morning sun.  From your vantage point, the large congregation of those attempting to have their “experience” can be seen huddling and moving in the vast sandy clearing as if they were one large entity.

The thief, Smudge, views the Harbor and it’s coming and goings, and with an eye skewed to the opportunity, notices the activity is hurried or lessened then what he is used to.  Smudge, a traveler to many places within the realm, and some rumor without, seems to realize that something has changed in the manner in which the Realm does it’s commerce. The one exception seems to be a collection of several ships, heavy oar clad schooners the King uses for deployment of the Army, moves East, outside the Cillandar Harbor, towards the Island of Xendros, lost Entrance to the empire of the Drow, an Island which presents the last stop before the vast Sea of Gallinor, inhabited by ancient ruins and various denizens of size in the time since the End Time. To what end do they sail?

And from the South, Leatis, with his expert elvish, Marksman eyes, views the last traces of a dustcloud, with small whiffs of smokey tendrils, along the King’s Highway, that can only be the remnants of a contingent of Shields marching South to some unknown purpose.

And Finally, as your Wing descends into the unsteady and uncertain Courtyard of the Castle Tower, you realize that bowstrings are drawn, and swords are unsheathed, a massive shift in demeanor of the Shield to your departure just a week hence.  As you dismount, heavy with the burden of battle and weary, bloodstained from your victory against the traitor, Iggwilv, you are greeted by concerned soldiery and notice along the battlements, a double duty posted.  Mustakrakish, the Warrior Hero, notices immediately that the gates to the inner Castle Tower have been barred in new ways, and new wooden contraptions of a like you have never seen before appear posted around several of the lower armored tower stations. Are these the new “devices” Hockenbrecht and Calyssa have been engineering from the texts discovered in Tsocanth?

The King himself is standing at the ready.  As you land…you see his grave face, and the words bellow from from his lips that you all realized would come.

“Belloran, the Keeper of the Flame, and Provider of the Light to our realm, is dead.

 

Mission: Accomplished!

 

“What be your name lad?” asked the sultry sailor bringing his tankard to yours.

“Why, I be called Buccaneer Joseph the Clean,” said Rexlan with a wry smile….

 

Pirate Name Generator Code Names:

Rexlan-Buccaneer Joseph the Clean

Smudge-Brunhilder Long Heart

Mustakrakish- Sir Thieving Stubble

Casseopia- Second Mate Salty Arse

Laetis Fendral-Jack Drunk Wench

Warlock-Seamen Arthur Trencher the Made

Mike (aka Dragnar?)-Scribe Paul

 

WINTER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION

Casseopia is approached by Borindin, and asked to consider the position of Keeper of the Flame.  The position requires sacrifice and commitment. It also reveals mysteries that must be Kept.  Nonetheless, Keeper of the Flame is said to make a Person into a Conduit. And he cautions Casseopia to consider this strongly in her decision.

The party arrives just late as Laetis’s Nana is enjoying a dance with her Patron Saint Borindin himself.  The Shielded Mothers is being performed and this performance is even more bloodier than usual, the caretakers finding it difficult to wipe up the “blood” from the faces of the guests nearest the hastily constructed stage.  During the festival, the party meets Rilf Barrowson, a Master Thief of reknown, and his lady friend Merovia.  Merovia discusses with the party the various places within the city that they might consider to live temporarily.  She also enchants the audience at the table with stories and other facts about the understructure of Cillandar itself, facts that most in Cillandar would not be able to guess at. Her stories are as seductive and beautiful as she is, and all are enthralled.  Her research and investigations under the city are perhaps second only to Duher, Borindin’s lead archeologist.

The party is kicked off with the discovery of none other than Genoran himself, the missing king’s son, who finds himself in your presence once more bandaged and scarred. He is much changed since the last time you saw him lying face down in the rain flooded animal cages of the Grand Arena.   Thin and pale, and with a look of someone who has gone through a great ordeal, Genoran recants to you the events of his kidnapping that occurred during the Battle of Heroes. 

GENORAN’S TALE

As Genoran retells you the story of his capture, you listen and form a picture of the night’s events as Mustakrakish was receiving his Honors.  A group calling themselves the Harpers  released the Tyrannosaurs under the Arena and just as Genoran was finishing his Battle, and at his weakest, the party took up the call and chased the Beast deep into the depths of the complex in order to prevent loss of life.  The Harpers were clearly intent on drawing a diversion, their target, Borindin himself!  Nonetheless, something went wrong, namely that Borindin himself strove into the fray!  As the party waded through beasts of all manner brought in from the Outer Wilds, Genoran was struck down and disappeared before the last Tyrannosaur fell.  The Harpers took him and began a campaign of private ransom in which they attempted to trade Genoran for Borindin. 

As things were heating up to a final culmination, Genoran was able to escape and returned to a shocked and joyful King, several weeks ago. The arrival was kept secret so that the Harpers could be ferreted out more easily and the King’s espionage led to several discoveries.  Apparently, the Harpers consisted of a group from many different professions and walks of life.  They were believed to view and  keep peace within the Kingdom by serving goals and deeds that only they were privy to, but their aims had become anarchist.  The King discovered ties to a possible invasive force, he believes is the Ketian leadership in the South and from beyond the Sea as well as to the Cult of Zargon, which has become much too large of a nuisance for even Borindin to ignore.

As Genoran’s story closes, you can’t help but feel for the King, who just previously today had learned of the tragic resurrection of his son, Genoris, as the dread wraith named The Mockery, by none other than Iggwilv herself. 

THE MISSION

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LZcMv0H1bI

Faced with the possibility of an invasion from unknown forces or perhaps the Ketians themselves, something Borindin has long feared, and coupled with the recent events around the Realm, the party is needed now more than ever to resolve things close to home and discover the truths behind the Cult and the Kidnapping Harpers.

The party decides first to investigate the Harper’s Lair. Knowing that the Harper’s have moved  since Genoran’s escape, they do know that the Harper’s have dealings with shipping and often establish a “front” that looks like a place of business.  It is known through the King’s espionage that a grand meeting of the Upper Echelon members of the Harpers will be arriving for Winter Solstice celebrations in Cillandar and that a meeting of these members will take place in a fortnight. If the party can discover the place of this meeting, they can eliminate the group’s leadership and perhaps discover what they are up to.

 Disguising themselves as ordinary citizens of the Realm (thanks to some magical concoctions by Hockenrecht and Calyssa), they seek out a new Tavern known as the Tankard Slayers, located along the Wharf and entrance to The Harbor.  Inside they’re greeted by Melancholy Dawkins and saucy customers, served a Mustakrakish Dish, and bask in their secret glory as all around the newly constructed bar is painted fresh frescoes of the Legendary God Slayers, in positions of triumph during the Battle and Champion adventures. The party plays some Spottle, and tries some darts (using replicas of Mustakrakish’s spear of course). Casseopia gets a date and a Mustakrakitch.  The party discovers a door, a lock, and several holes used for spying. They also discover that the bar sits atop the water and that it is treacherous below, believed to be filled with hungry sharks that feast upon the trash dumped into it from the city.

As Mustakrakish arrives, the nearby patrons erupt and celebrate.  His arrival is an easy diversion for the party to learn several things more.

THE MENU

Casseopia Casserole- Makes you as warm as the Flame!

Mustakrakish Dish-Served blood red and raw, just as the Hero of the Realm takes it!

Fendral Funnel Cake- Take a walk on the elvish side of food.

Lessa Summertime Tea-This ain’t your Nana’s brew.

 

The party returns to The Rusty Sabre and finds a possible lead in Hank the Sun Tanned, a builder who does business along the wharf.  Greasy Grelda is only too happy to assist the party as The Tankard Slayers has stolen away her best band, The Bugbear Brothers, and she still hungers for a connection to Hockenbrecht. Through him they learn of the temporary way in which the bar was constructed and some of the possible internal secrets of the structure as well. On a hunch, Smudge infiltrates one of the suspicious looking ships, and to his astonishment, opens a case in a cargo hold containing white robes, identical  to the ones worn by the cultists!!! Setting a fire, and escaping, the others are ushered off by an alerted and anxious Shield force who  consider strongly putting them in a Cell.  Their identity is still hidden and tough times in the Kingdom often change the nature of punishment for crimes such as arson. The Captain, Tomas Courtnelius, serves in the Cillandar Voluntary Fire Brigade, doncha know.

Luckily, though the party learns that the Tankard Slayers expects some members of the different Merchant Guilds from far and away tonight.  The party creates a plan!

THE DIVERSION!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAYhNHhxN0A

This time, everyone is disguised. Many in the crowd compliment the now changed Mustakrakish, who is dressed in rag, on his perfect replica of what has come to be known as “The Great Elongation”.  The party, purchasing several key pieces of equipment needed for the mission (nice job Laetis!!!), take their places.  Smudge sets a fire down at the docks, and Laetis expertly puffs in a sleeping powder through the holes along the bar’s wall housing the door.  Smudge, arrives in time to use the key he had lifted earlier, and the party BUMRUSHES THROUGH!!! (I’m freaking  giving you guys a billion experience points just for that one!)

They find the bodies of three guards and are struck by traps along the door. Laetis uses a nail of sealing and the party gets right to work! They have entered the ancient structure of a guard tower, smelling the salty sea air below, they see movement and shadows disappearing. A wire dropping from the door to the chamber below alerts that someone knows their coming. They wind their way around the grand tower, Laetis is injured by a trap, and as he peers down can just make out a disk, 30 feet in diameter with concentric circles resting at the bottom of the tower and chamber below!!!

Thieves approach from below, and the party enters combat!

Figure 18 The Harpers Lair is discovered.  Members from all over the realm are destroyed in but a single night!

Forces of various classes spill from the bottom area, Clerics, Mages, Fighters.  Many different races, showing prestige and cultural signs from areas in the Known Realm!  Rexlan, and Mustakrish are devastated by Fiery Bursts and Icy Bursts, while Cassepoia is taken down by the thieves with deadly crossbows. She drops from the rope and as her body lies still is harmed even more by another barrage of deadly spells!!!

Nonetheless, the party begins to turn the tide. Thanks to some quick thinking by Smudge, Cassepoia is brought back by an administered potion, and the monk worms his way around the battle field.  The Warlock uses his blasts to control several fractions.  It becomes obvious that the members of the group realize their fate and the remaining survivors begin to make a beeline with acid filled tubes for the papers scattered among a table in an adjacent alcove.  Laetis is able to shoot the last one dead, annihilating the last of their adversaries for now!

THE DISCOVERY!

A ledger and several stacks of papers sit on a table. Among the items found on the bodies of import are a set of bracers, an amulet in a design that the Cellinor Authority wear, Longsword, and a helm. The circular chamber here appears to be a ruin of barracks, but is stacked full of non perishables and fresh water casks.  The sounds of waves slapping against something beyond an open entranceway seems as though it might lead to water, above the sounds of the door being broke open.

As Laetis, Smudge and the other members search the area, Laetis seems to notice something.  Some of the blood stains around the area they just did battle in seem older than those of the night’s battle. Laetis guesses they are about a week old, and there are obvious signs of a large scale battle!  In fact, tracks of blood and signs of bodies being dragged can be seen exiting into the hallway that seems to lead down to the shark infested waters.

Cass can tell that some of the blood is non-humanoid in nature!  And Mustakrakish and Rexlan spending many times in mock combat can see the signs of weapon marks on various parts of the building and structures. 

Lastly, as you examine your wounds, you notice everything in the chamber is covered with a thick layer of white dirt.  Looking around, it is now obvious that serious quarrying and rock construction had been going on here for some time.  The lines show signs of picking and smaller stones litter and debris litter the area.

Unfortunately, the ledger self destructed, but several (4) papers on the table survived.

One of these has the printed dates that Cassepoia notices coincide with some of the Cult’s possible activities.  From today’s date, there are three dates left on the paper. Tomorrow’s date and two dates in the following week.

Another paper shows a map with the locations of the Cult’s tent city circled in red, as well as the Grand Arena.  

A third map shows the island of Xendros marked clearly as well as different places in the Map of the Known Realm.  A circled X is marked by the River Aluene along the legendary Scarred Canyon to the East, another is marked in the Great Southern Mountains, and several more outside of Carr Perrin, Cellinor, and other places in the Inner Wilds, many of which are near civilized areas of other races.  A final X is marked on Cillandar itself with a number 3 next to it.

The final paper is written on paper not like the common paper used in Cillandar.  It is crumpled and bloodstained, and seems to have been in the form of a letter although to whom it was addressed to and from whom, is now clearly unknow. It was partially destroyed but on it is written these words:

“The Cult lives and…. below ..the experience covers….the secret….expedition through the scar…Sherserakshen…

“Resources of water and …..represent the first ……”

“Borindin’s death….Iggwilv’s return is…”

BEHIND THE SCENES

—————————————————————————————————-

TO NOAH

The pendant you wear upon your cloak begins to warm and glow, signalling the warning that no Harper ever wants to hear. A voice, cold and articulate, whispers…

“Be warned. Harpers are in danger.  Many are killed.  The Cause is in jeopardy.”

The Harpers, a group that is aligned with one of your characters, was tracked down to their lair last night, and subesequently destroyed in a heated battle.  It is unknown to you whether or not the entire force was destroyed, but Genoran himself, a member of the inner most circle and upper echelon of the Harpers is known to have been involved.  As you travel along your expedition, you recieve the message magically from the pendant you wear on your cloak, and feel saddened by the loss of people who share the same ideals as you do.

YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO GIVE ANY OF THIS INFORMATION TO THE OTHER PLAYERS..:) T

—————————————————————————————————-

The Cult, the Invasion and the Dragon

The party, hearing the noises from above, begins to gather up their discoveries and make their way to the boats. Laetis notices that bodies being consumed on the rocks of the cave by crabs bear the same mark as previous victims seen by the party, and also from the bodies of several of the “Knights” that collapsed after the river battle. Laetis takes a sample, the party exits the cave in the still night and docks elsewhere out of the range of the pursuers arrows and eyes.

As they make their way back from the docks though, they notice a commotion, and deciding to follow it see a horrific sight.  Cult members are being hung and murdered in the streets of the Merchant’s Quarter! Deciding to make their way back to the castle, the party does and is soon in the company of the king.

—————————————————————————————————-

Intro to the “Ketian Invasion”

In but a single day, the lack of available drinking water has turned the city into a City on the Brink.  In but only a single hour of your return, the merchants quarter has erupted and martial law has been posted.  It appears as though despite the lack of fresh water for the city, the Cult of Zargon possesses plenty.  No one in the cult is asking for any or wanting to buy.  Rumors now abound that the Cult may have even started the Greying of the River somehow.  As if that weren’t enough, the King has been informed in secret that the Plague symptoms are now reappearing. The situation is secret for now, but only just. 

It began with a simple act of frustration, and now has erupted into full scale murder.  Hundreds of Cult Members have been hung in the streets, their bodies massacred.  The skeleton crew of available Shields have been dispatched to investigate the city for information, and Borindin himself would like to first know of the operation in a stealth mission, before a frontal attack on the Tent City.

A single Shield member from the South arrived by horse during your absence and investigation.  The man bore a single phrase before dying “The Ketians have infiltrated the Southern Frontier. They are here as well!” When his body was attempted to be Raised by the interim Cleric for Belloran, one of the head Bishops, he began to turn into an evil, demonic beast.  This has been kept in strict confidentiality from the public at large. 

Rumbling underneath you shakes the dust off several weapon’s cabinets lining the Discussion room. Borindin turns towards you and asks “Tell me of what you have learned in your investigation of the Harpers?”

Next to him, Genoran sits still with many bandages.  Rumor abounds that the Silver Flamists are unable to cure his ailments. 

You tell the king of your discoveries and the information present to you.  He sits back, reading the paper remnants you were able to save. “This bodes ill. The Harpers must have ties to the Ketians, and an invasion force is only just beyond our reach. Surely the barges seen in our nearby Seas bring forces we have as yet to discover.  A group of Lights has been sent out to give us information, but without word from them, we are blind in the Light.  The Ketians are indeed planning an invasion, and it would seem, my death. Perhaps, these disks are a portal or Gateway similar to the one brought here by Asmodeus from his travels abroad.   Krom, I bid you to send a messenger with all speed to Cellinor, our sister city to the North. Tell the Governor there that he is to dispatch a barge of 400 Swords to reinforce our positions around the city. He should send another 400 by land, but they are not to travel along the King’s Highway and only by night.  That should reinforce us by 800 Swords within a three day period. May the light protect Cellinor. “

As you listen, a loud commotion erupts over the castle grounds.  Many voices in many directions are heard gasping from some unknown terror it would seem.  http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=gladiator+soundtrack&oq=gladiator&aq=1&aqi=g10&aql=&gs_sm=c&gs_upl=2746l3838l0l5725l9l8l0l3l3l0l203l701l0.4.1l5l0

Borindin begs you to follow him to the Tower Courtyard.  What should be the first rays of sunlight, is shaded. Looking up you realize that one of the three Moons is eclipsing the Flame.  Dark shades of Silver radiance cascade down and around everything.  As you stand in awe, Genoran murmurs “Our world is Darkening…”

The first moon now in position in front of the Sun, the land is Darkened a fraction and as the day progresses, horrified onlookers feel only a sense of dread and helplessness at their inability to understand this event. Laetis knows that the party needs information on celestial movements, and knows one such woman.  However, when he goes to find her he learns she has vanished some months hence.  Along with many other predictive souls lost of late, seems to be this Astrologer of a sorts.  Laetis knows he could find help elsewhere but comes back to help the party navigate the events at hand.

With the threat of invasion, and an obviously sinister secretive force, the party decides to make a plee to the inhabitants of the Realm. As Cass and Musta call out to the assembled masses come to hear the Hero and a Champion speak, they line for miles to receive the Brand, which magically seals the bond between the King and themselves. Many is the lad that approaches with both “Long Live Borindin and Love Live the Lady Cass and Lord Musta” on their lips!

While many are using the Brand as a newfound sense of patriotism, and many still flooding the ranks of the Militia being instituted under the Martial law, flocks of other town folk are now making their way into the Tent City in hopes of an “experience” to understand the goings on, or perhaps find peace or guidance. 

One man, clearly, is not happy with the Brand.  Laetis.  As he approaches his friends and compatriots he lets them know in no uncertain terms, that the act of the Branding is in disaccordance with the Freedom the Realm has offered.  He cannot consent to it, nor the actions being taking, and as elusive as ever, Laetis disappears.

The party robes up, quaffs potions to keep the mind clear as well as change their forms, and follows the many into the late afternoon towards the tent city. Hiding their weaponry and much armor they spend the evening gathering information. During the night’s late hours, Casseopia notices a familiar face. Merovia.  She stands and walks into the central clearning.  Her form descends right into the sand!

Casseopia follows her, and within a few seconds, icy tendrils form around her taking her down into the sand.  Soon to follow are the others who lost track of Cass at the sand, but noticed movement and other signs of her.  As each is taken up one by one from the massive tentacles of The Devourer, the Loyals are dropped below on the sticky and hideous surface. They sight before them is inconceivable at first.

Figure 19 The Devourer, a creature from the Underdark, brought to the surface during the Taking Time by an Illithid Pod in league with the Ketian Leadeship!

Suspended in rows and columns are bodies of citizens from Cillandar, Each body has tendrils coming out of the lining of the slick and fleshy walls that penetrate their lower neck, and which suction onto their elbows and behind their knees.  Above and around them are the shifty forms of crablike creatures,  insectile, in hideous blackened hue that click and clack as they move about the inside of the colossal beast.  But, what catches the immediate attention of all is the 12 forms, emerging from the darkness all around.  Tall and arrogant, posturing proudly, the Pod of Illithids views the party huddled in the middle with disdain, inhuman disgust.

The Warlock sees Merovia’s elegant form standing next to the Brain as if it were a cocktail party.  With his knowledge of the spoken and unspoken word, he listens:

Merovia: “I will dispatch with them once you are through.  I wish them to be unsullied for my arcana as the others were.  You may take the wretched item your Master seeks, it is of no use to me anyway, nor any of you. Your master should be glad they never learned to use it properly. If only someone had told them.” A subtle laugh here.

Elder Brain: “You will compensate us Gulgol. We are not here on Holiday, and have much work today to prepare for the rise of the Dark. Without more workers, we cannot ensure the proper protection at the Gateways. This is of benefit to us all.  You may deliver twice the allotment for this batch. They seem quite powerful, although looks are deceiving while one is standing in the right Light.” Here the Illithid nearly seems to be laughing at his own joke, and surely you sense a hideous humor emanating from the Pods shared consciousness.

With this, Merovia disappears into one of the tunnels stemming off in awkward angles.

As the battle begins, Smudge lays a terrible blow on the Elder Brain who is able to teleport from a safe distance.  Gaining the initiative, the Illithids lay the adventurers to rest, one by one. Despite the fact that 7 of them were minions, their initiative and powerful blast attacks sealed the party’s fate.

Retharan, the mage, looks around at the horror around him, and perhaps because of this or perhaps because of some other reason, decides to let the Darkness take him, or perhaps it was the Light?

Figure 21 The Elder Brain leaves with It’s prize.  The Lanthorn!!!

 

THE AWAKENING-Narrative Interlude

Nightmares of probing tendrils and slime covered walls closing in on the party fill your minds, as you struggle to understand the events that have brought you all to where you are.

And where is that?

As you open your eyes, you look around and see that you are placed, tied, gagged, bound and magically held on wooden planks. Each plank is roughly four feet long and behind you all is a door, with no hinges.  The wooden planks have been inserted underneath each door. This lifeline is all that holds you from falling to an abyss below, dark and menacing.

A voice fills the chamber, recognizable yet somehow more threatening than you remember. It is the voice of Merovia, the angelic and captivating Raven haired Lady Borindin introduced you to at the Winter Solstice.  Suddenly, you remember it was she who was supposed to help you find temporary housing in the city, her understanding of the ruins beneath the newer construction purported to be unmatched.  Musta hears her speech clearly, in Draconic.  But why is she speaking in this manner?

Suddenly, each door opens, and large, heavy and armor clad Dragonborn pull you up to your feet.  Your wounds have only just been healed, and standing brings pain. Your bodies are nude, save for the few small undergarments you wear below armor.  A half sunlit cave meets your eyes, which you must shield as seeing it hurts.  How long have you been asleep? You are not sure. One thing you CAN tell, the light is not full daylight. Is it the Darkening or approaching night?

You realize, with the smells and sights around you that you are in a tremendous cavern, overlooking the Great Sea. You think it must be upon one of the cliffs that run for miles along the coast to the North and South of Cillandar, but you aren’t sure.  You are brought to a pit, where the henchman tie you to metal rings. Merovia approaches, dressed in an elegant gown as if she were visiting the King at court.  Her eyes glinting with the look of one who has captured it’s prey.

“I have brought you here, sparing your miserable lives for a time, to do a task for me…Your consent, I am afraid, is mandated….” As she speaks, her form begins to glisten and sweat, small ripples of magical energy pulsate along her arms, her bare abdomen and her legs.  Her size and shape grow, an acidic stench permeates the cave, as her voice bellows words out in a hoarse, heated breath of vaporous green fumes.

“First, let me give you the bad news, mortalssss.“

“The man you know to be Borindin, issssn’t. I havn’t discovered yet who he isss, but that is not a concern to me.  He is not however in league with Iggwilv, or else the Lanthorn would have been taken from you long ago. Perhaps, Calychia’s influence has grown beyond my estimation, but that is of no concern to me.”

“What is of concern to you isss that you no longer possess the Lanthorn. An item that is as useless to me, as it is to Iggwilv or any of  the Threeeee, without the proper….channel. By now, you brave adventurersss mussst realize that you have given Iggwilv her freedom, by none other than Borindin’s imposter himself.  The War for Cillandar will begin soon, it is a war that has been fought many times, in many places, in many ways in the End Days.  Now that the Darkening has come again, it will begin again.  The only choice you have is how you will you face it.”

“I offer you a choice.  You may die. Here and now.  Join the many others refusing to assist me, watch me peel the skin off your bodiesss and take pleasure in your pain as I am often want to do. Or you may attempt to gain your freedom. And perhaps, for a time, fight the battle that Heroes once long ago fought as well.  “

“By now you must realize that Iggwilv’s return is only the first of two others. The 2nd and 3rd Traitor. The Fallen Godsss of the Ancients. The Legend Belloran preached as a lie to the masses, and Borindin verified by my authority.  For it was I who gave Borindin his throne, to serve me, and bring me power through the Flame.  The 2nd will return soon, and her machinations will begin with the coming of the 2nd Eclipse. When this happens, the world will begin it’s Darkening, and neither I nor anyone else can prevent the legions that will pour into the world, your so called Ketian myth.

I have prepared for this moment, but to one fallacy.  Iggwilv’s followers have taken something….from me.  Two hatchlings that are as rare to me, as the Lanthorn is to you. They must not be allowed to take full form in her Darkening.  This would present a hazard to me that is perhaps the only fear I am imbued with.  And I cannot have it held over me. 

This is the only reason you are not being implanted within the Illithids Devourer right now.  And your task is….an adventure I am sure you can’t refuse.

You will take the tunnels that exist between the mainland and the island, ancient volcanic tunnels from a time long gone by, which exist in secret from the Cillandrians. You will navigate through the passes, staying clear of the advancing army which is prepared as we speak to invade Cillandar. If you do as I say, you will regain the Lanthorn before it makes it’s way to Iggwilv, and this time you will use it to it’s potential. You will enter Iggwilv’s factory there and destroy my brood, something I cannot do because I cannot possess the Lanthorn myself.  If you accomplish this task, you will undoubtedly face Iggwilv herself, grown stronger in the days since your last encounter.

This time however, you will defeat her, before she takes her ascended throne. You will benefit me, and yourselves.  You will not stop the invasion, as the followers of Ket know the ascension of the last Two are coming, and their leadership will seek it’s own glory for them.  But, you will save yourself, by returning to me within a fortnight. And perhaps, you can spend your last days fighting against the armies that come for you all soon. For that I care not, but if you do not return, you will perish, 

In a manner, that I am sure, is not appropriate to that of…a Hero.

The dragon Gulgol reduces her form once more, her lithe and delicate body laid naked and bare upon the cavern floor. She walks over to a set of robes.  Dressing and throwing back her hair she calls nonchalantly to one of her guards.  He brings her a box, of ornate shape and another brings a ceramic jar.  The guard removes the lid of the jar, and produces a small brush covered in a thick, gooey brown substance.  Pulling your undergarments up to your shoulders, it wipes the goop on each of your arms.

Gulgol then pulls a wriggling and writhing form from the box, and places it on Cass’s shoulder, where the brown goo had been placed once before in the Parade of the Champions!  The grub begins to burrow into her flesh, crawling below the skin, up and up her shoulder, around the base of her neck and lodges itself into her spine. She screams out in agony, flailing against the bindings that hold her to the ring!  One by one, you all suffer the same fate, a slow sense of dread coming on to each of you as you realize that the grub has attached itself to your spinal cord, buried deep within.

“I have tracked you for some time and will again.  You have each been given a “friend to your end”.  A few treasures I’ve acquired within my dealings since performing duties to her coming …Majesty…Let me assure you they will be with you until you return to me for the only matching antidote that will force them to dislodge themselves and save you from succumbing to their…influence.

You call yourselves Godslayers. To live, and perhaps save your fair city, you must…BECOME Godslayers.”

 

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