Rodorsceaft: Pillar of Heaven

Daemon in the Wood pt 3
13 - 17 Hwyn-Braenar, 7 B.Blodd

Unable to wake the daemon’s victims, the party decided to secure them within a salt circle and continue their search for other survivors. After several hours and a scuffle with some rotting wolverines, they started hearing hoarse cries for help echoing through the woods. Quick as they ran to aid, Ishlin called a halt: something lurked in the brush, something guarding the cages in the trees from whence the calls came.

Four cougars, rotting, flesh falling off, waited to strike at anyone who would dare approach. Brennis, with typical aplomb, immediately brought the fight to them, charging in. Kyton attempted to fly above the monsters, but one leaped up a tree and pounced, dragging him back to the ground and mauling him. The party seemed in a bad way until one of the victims in the cages offered to help if only they would free him.

The newcomer proved strong and tough and, swinging a borrowed woodsman’s ax with ferocious strength, helped turn the tide; with his help, the party made quick work of the cougars and freed the other prisoners. One, unfortunately, was dead; the others were the man’s wife and daughter. He introduced himself as Gill Finch, the most recent missing farmer from Barley Row.

Gill was able to shed some light on what was going on. It seemed that a tall, smelly, scarred half-orc had been using the artificially-animate creatures to steal the townsfolk away in the middle of the night. His family had been abducted by all manner of creatures, large and small. They had been in those cages for days without food or water; sometimes the half-orc had come back and taken one of the prisoners away to the dext. Screams would follow, and the prisoner would not return.

The hour grew late, so the party decided a rest was in order. Brennis drew a large circle to protect them, and they slept, Gene, Ishlin and Brennis taking watch.

The morning arrived without apparent incident. Ishlin and Ioan woke to discover that they both felt awful, their minds clouded and their adrenaline pumping. Whatever was wrong with them, it was getting worse. Kyton was able to alleviate some of the worst of the suffering, but the trials of the preceding days had caused them all no insignificant distress. Worse, Gill, himself, was suddenly not feeling well either. While he had offered to accompany the party to the dext the night before, he had experienced a change of heart and asked to remain with his family.

Ishlin, acting on a hunch, surreptitiously tested him to see if he held the daemon, but Gill was able to cross the salt circle without difficulty. It was decided that he should go to find the other victims and get them to safety, if possible, while the party began the search for the half-orc.

They headed dextward, and a lucky break on Ishlin’s part got them a trail: a giant half-orcish footprint flanked by the prints of two huge wolves. Heartened, they moved onward, Simon’s Claw talking the whole time about how he “didn’t feel right.”

It wasn’t long before they found out why. Amidst a growing sense of foreboding, they came upon a strange object in a small clearing. Simon’s Claw fairly jumped out of Brennis’ hand at the sensation of evil pouring from the thing, a rough stone table covered with dried blood and … something else, something that stung like nettles when touched. Simon’s Claw identified this as essence of agony, and realized that that was what the half-orc was up to. He would torture his prisoners for days, bringing them to the edge of pain and death, and then bring them here, to this profane object, this Black Altar, and kill them painfully … and then extract that pain, in liquid form, to feed the daemon.

Repulsed, the party fanned out to check the area. It didn’t take long for them to come across a charnel pit, where the gnawed remains of two or three humanoids lay. All the while, Simon’s Claw was calling for the Black Altar’s destruction, a call to which the party acquiesced.

Unfortunately, the altar was not undefended: a pair of shadowy creatures emerged from it abruptly, their chill touch sucking the life out of the party. Fortunately, Brennis remembered the encounter at the Abbey and, acting on a hunch, doused the charnel pit with holy water. The shadowy creatures dissipated silently, and the Red Branch were able to apply themselves to the task of destroying the altar.

This grim task done, they continued to track the half-orc, whose trail now led treeward. They came across a small pack of not-dead boars, but were able to avoid them. Pressing on, they caught sight of the smoke of a camp-fire, half a mile away. More, the surrounding forest was eerily quiet. Not a single bird cawed, not a single insect buzzed, not a single rabbit made its way through the brush. It felt as though nothing lived in that patch of Diggswood anymore.

Kyton took to the air to investigate. They had found the half-orc’s lair all right, a rough cave in the foothills of the mountains of High Watch. But he was not alone: a pair of enormous dire wolves lay near the fire, still breathing, still alive.

Kyton had little time to investigate further, however; the half-orc caught sight of him and, raising a sinewy arm, called on the spirits of the trees to entangle the hapless bird-druid. Kyton dodged the grasping branches and made good his escape, winging back to his companions to tell them the news.

It was resolved to make their attack, though the light was fading. They pressed through the woods, attempting to sneak up on the shaman. Ishlin took aim at him and let fly an arrow …

... only to see it snatched out of the air. The shaman, it seemed, knew they were coming.

The battle was joined, as the huge dire wolves got up and charged, viciously attacking. The shaman called for a mist to rise in the middle of the clearing, obscuring him from the view of his attackers. This did not deter Brennis, who charged in … only to find himself paralyzed by the shaman’s dark magic.

And then, unexpectedly, the daemon chose to reveal itself. Gene’s eyes went black and he charged Kyton, stabbing the surprised druid. The rest of the party recoiled from this sudden betrayal, momentarily forgetting the other dangers and turning to subdue their former ally. Unfortunately, the daemon’s presence made Gene supernaturally tough and resilient; the fact that Ishlin wanted to keep him alive in order to fulfill Brother Didymus’ request further complicated things.

The wolves ran rampant, the shaman healing them and bolstering them, as the party continued to fight on many fronts. Thinking quickly, Ioan used a scroll to cast a magic circle against evil to contain Gene’s daemon-possessed body, neutralizing him and taking him out of the fight. Concentrating on a single wolf brought it down in relatively short order; it looked like the Red Branch was gaining the upper hand. Ioan used another scroll, this time to restore Ishlin’s health and strength; truly, it was looking like an easy triumph after all.

This impression was not to last. The shaman, rolling aside a pair of heavy stones at the entrance to his den, loosed a new threat: a swarm each of skeletal and still-rotting rats. It looked as though every rat in the forest had been slain to form the chattering, clacking, writing masses. Wasting no time, they moved to engulf the party, slowly creeping towards the magic circle to attempt to free the daemon.

Fortunately, Ioan had cast it some distance away from the cave, which bought the party time. Brennis discovered that he could stomp on the rats to crush them, and did so with relish; Ishlin finished off the swarm of bone rats with a shot from his holy bow. They did not fare quite so well against the corpse rats, however; they swarmed Ishlin and nauseated him. As a last ditch, Brennis reached deep within himself and drew forth his hidden ki to set his fists aflame; this was enough to destroy the corpse rats, some of whom fell mere inches from the circle of silver powder that kept Gene imprisoned.

During this time, the shaman had summoned another dire wolf, who raced to join the one remaining in combat. Under their combined attacks, Ishlin fell, badly injured. Finally, the shaman himself marched forward, bringing magical might to bear against the party. Brennis seized the opportunity and charged, striking a mighty blow which dropped the shaman just as the second great dire wolf fell. Ioan’s healing magic got Ishlin back on his feet.

Alas, it was not yet over. The shaman, in a last, desperate gasp of activity, played his hidden card. Calling on powerful dark magicks, he restored life to the two dead wolves. He collapsed in a pile as they shed their hair, their skin turning purple, their jaws stretching and their teeth growing.

Ishlin decided that the time had come to draw the sacred candle and light it. Sadly, one of the new horrors had other ideas. It rushed Ishlin, afflicting him with a paralyzing bite. Kyton, thinking quickly, released a flood of Primal power from the reserves of his being and attempted desperately to shape it into something to free Ishlin from his magical bindings. Fortunately, Kyton’s experimentation worked, and Ishlin was able to move again.

With that, he lit the candle. At once, it was consumed in a rush of holy power; a blinding burst of golden-white light filled the clearing. The two wolf-monsters burst into flame and crumbled into dust, utterly destroyed by the power of the Light. The daemon, likewise, was affected: under the blistering power of the candle, it burst out of Gene’s mouth, a snaking coil of black smoke.

Gene, once again in control of his own faculties, quickly left the circle, leaving the daemon to swirl there impotently, thrashing against the sides of its ersatz prison and crackling with electricity. The rest of the party turned their attention to the remaining dire wolf, quickly bringing it down.

At last, the fight was over. Though their injuries were severe, the party decided that they could not afford to lose any time. Simon’s Claw guided Brennis through the ritual of binding, and the daemon’s dark form was drawn into the clear crystal, which shrunk and darkened as the ritual completed. Finally, it appeared as a dark amethyst, with a swirling silvery mist inside.

Since the monastery was only a short distance away, the party opted to make the journey there before resting for the evening. Brother Didymus was pleased to see them, and thrilled that they had captured the daemon. Inspecting the prison, he assured them that it would be unable to free itself for some weeks.

After healing them of their injuries, Brother Didymus asked of them a final favor: since it was his task to guard the daemon, and since they had demonstrated themselves capable of dealing with it, would they not mind taking it to Lux? Though it could not be destroyed, perhaps it could be cleansed, if the full power of the Light were to be shone upon it. If the daemon could be cleansed, Brother Didymus’ task would be complete, and he would be free to leave this world and join his ancestors.

The party acquiesced, and then there was just one further order of business. Brother Didymus instructed Ishlin to go before the Dais of Samael and prepare himself, reflecting on the perfection of the Light and taking its attributes into himself.

Ishlin did so, and after a short while, Brother Didymus joined him. Asking him to kneel, Brother Didymus called forth the power of the Light. He drew what appeared to be a mantle made of light out of the air, and placed it around Ishlin’s shoulders, consecrating him as a paladin.

There was one final test to be passed, though, one final lesson to be learned. Brother Didymus explained that, though he now bore the Light, that every paladin knew that there remained darkness within them, a darkness that could never be truly defeated, only controlled. As he said this, a shadow started gathering in the sanctuary. As Brother Didymus pointed, the shadow solidified … into an exact double of Ishlin!

Brother Didymus explained that Ishlin could now fight the manifestation of his dark side, fight with it, overcome it and embrace it. The shadow-Ishlin loosed an arrow, which zipped unerringly towards Ishlin, trailing tendrils of shadow. Ishlin tried to return fire, but the arrow only passed ineffectively through is doppelganger.

As Ishlin charged his dark half, Brother Didymus again spoke, chiding: Ishlin could never destroy the lingering evil within him, only embrace it, accept it, and thereby master it. Understanding, Ishlin ceased his attack and literally embraced the manifestation, which dissipated.

Well done, said Brother Didymus, as he faded away. Well done, Ishlin Brightheart … paladin. The last word echoed throughout the sanctuary as Brother Didymus vanished.

The party decided to rest in the fire’s light that night, and woke up the next day feeling rejuvenated … though many of them still bore a strange malaise. Ioan proved none the worse for wear from his experiences with the rat swarm, but he and Ishlin both could feel the edges of the strange rage and insanity starting to cut back into their minds.

Still, they decided to start making their way back to River’s End. They stopped in Barley Row to let them know the problem had been taken care of. Burton was magnanimous but still curt; the Finch family was much more effusive in their praise, offering first their life savings (which the party generously declined, Ioan in fact slipping more money into the box) and then a pair of heirloom boots of elvenkind that had belonged to Gill’s grandfather, a ranger. This, the party graciously accepted, and then they left on their long trip back to River’s End.

They made it to the Count’s the following day. He thanked them for their efforts and awarded them a chest containing 25 bars of bullion, and also offered to arrange passage to Lux and a letter of introduction to the magistrates, if such was their desire.

Finally, as the day wore on, they made it back to the Brewhaus and Brenda, who tackle-hugged each of them as they walked in the door. Days of no word had worried her, and things had been afoot. First of all, Anchorite Linnaeus had been in asking them to stop by at their earliest convenience. Secondly, the Red Branch wanted their money, two thousand marks, which the party was now in a position to easily pay. Third, Lyssa, Ioan’s druidic lover, had been in and had left a note. Fourth, what did they want to do with that dragon’s egg? Because people had come in asking about it. What people? Well, just some men with a strange, trident-like tattoo on their neck.

Reflecting on this, Ioan left the scrollcase from the abbey with Brenda, and the party went to talk to the Anchorite. Upon catching sight of Ishlin, he immediately dropped to his knee. Paladins, it seems, are farther up the hierarchy than anchorites as far as the Church is concerned. His amazement only widened as he caught sight of Thorn of the White and Simon’s Claw. As they related their tales, he was by turns incredulous and worried. The tales of the abbey’s loss had been told in the big city, but the truth of the matter had never been certain. Likewise, this talk of walking corpses, or “necromancy,” as he called it, were disturbing. Those arts were supposed to have been long lost, and to see the daemon practicing them, let alone a living thing … very worrisome.

After listening to their tales for some time, the anchorite pledged his own service, and that of the church, to Ishlin, as befit his newfound station. Likewise, he offered to write a letter of introduction to the Arch-Praetor in Lux, and gave them some advice on getting by in the capital of the Solarian Remnant.

Finally, it was time to relax. Brennis headed off to the Smoke-Filled Room to kick back with Cutter Jack, and the rest of the party retired.

The following morning, as the members of the Red Branch were sitting at breakfast at the Brewhaus, the door burst open and several men, wearing black chain and colorful sashes, tromped in, accompanied by Constable Brondir, head of the Constabulary. Quickly and efficiently, these newcomers surrounded the Red Branch. Stepping forward, speaking formally, the apparent leader, a tall, balding man with a large, hooked nose, identified himself as Bassa Selim of the Dhal Dominion, and said:

“By the authority in me so vested, through the extradition treaties arranged through the Crown of Dominex, you are hereby placed under arrest.”

Red Branch Irregulars resumes September 2010

Loot

2500g (25 ingots) – 2000g (Red Branch fee to Brenda) = 500g
boots of elvenkind

XP

Brennis 2730
Gene 880 (RP)
Ioan 2730
Ishlin 2730
Kyton 2730
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2 May 2010
12 - 13 Hwyn-Braenar, 7 B.Blodd

The night passed uneventfully, the Flame of Samael burning true until the first rays of the morning sun streamed in through the ersatz skylight in the sanctuary of Diggswood Abbey. The Red Branch had placed their trust in the Light and received a blessing for their faith: though the ground had been uncomfortable, they woke up feeling exceptionally refreshed, though Kyton still suffered the ravages of the mummy’s black touch.

Ishlin and Ioan had received an additional omen: a dream of the winged being of light leading them through the sanctuary and into a hall of doors. Ioan paid it little mind; Ishlin, when he woke, found his mind and perceptions fogged and his body filled with adrenaline, as though a rage lurked just below his skin, ready to burst out.

With several possible paths to choose from, the party opted to return to the cafeteria, assuming that the kitchen lay beyond. Their assumption proved correct; though there was little of value in the kitchen, it was also devoid of any walking corpses or other dangers. A stairway led down to the collapsed root cellar, and another door led into the larder and storage area. The only thing of value remaining in the larder were two large bags of salt, which they appropriated. In the partially-collapsed storage area, however, they made a fortuitous find: axes and sledges, weapons that would potentially prove more effective against the hordes of horrors then what they had so far found.

Brennis was prepared, then, to take on the remaining “great evil” that Simon’s Claw had sensed; Ishlin, however, spoke up and mentioned the dream he had had, viewing it as a positive omen. The rest of the party acquiesced to investigate the remaining door at the far end of the sanctuary.

The door, crafted so as to appear unobtrusive to visitors to the temple, led into a long, narrow hallway, broken every twenty feet by a narrow door with a slot in it through which small items could be passed. The doors, interestingly, were able to be locked from either side, and each led to a small “cell,” of sorts, a tiny apartment just large enough for a single person to live and work. Indeed, some few of these cells contained ancient skeletons, clad in decaying monk habits.

The entire hallway, by contrast with the rest of the abbey, felt peaceful and serene, so the party pressed forward. Upon turning the corner, however, they came across a sobering sight: one of the doors had been shattered and scorched, blasted off its hinges by some unknown power. The cell within seemed empty, save for two interesting features on the upper floor: a pile of humanoid bones, and the remains of a runed iron hoop, three feet in diameter, shattered into pieces.

Before any of this could sink in, an apparition appeared. Bearded, tonsured, clad in robes and bearing a faint halo, the apparition said nothing; instead, it drew back a fist and smote Ishlin with the power of the Light!

Simon’s Claw called out to the figure, begging it to stop, but it pressed its attack, stunning Ishlin. Then, to everyone’s surprise, it mustered a bright flash of light and, chanting in Celestial, performed a turn undead.

When nothing happened, the figure paused with confusion. He asked the party to parley, to discern their intentions. Identifying himself as Brother Didymus, he stated that his task had been to guard the dark thing that had been imprisoned within the iron ring, a task that he had minded for centuries. He explained that, though the party had re-lit the fire on the Dais of Samael, Ishlin (at least) had also scanned as evil. Brother Didymus assumed that this meant Ishlin was being possessed by the daemon.

It seemed that, a few weeks prior, a large tiefling of frightening countenance had burst into Brother Didymus’ cell. Presenting a profane artifact, he had forced Brother Didymus to flee; when Brother Didymus had returned, the ring had been shattered and the daemon had vanished, fleeing the abbey where he had been imprisoned for so long.

The party offered to help Brother Didymus by finding the daemon and imprisoning it, if he would provide them with information on just how exactly to do that. At first, Brother Didymus demurred; he did not trust that the party would use the knowledge he imparted responsibly. Finally, after impassioned words from Ioan, he agreed to furnish the needed information on the condition that the party swear the Sacred Vow. Brennis declined, but the rest remained, and swore themselves to the service of the Light.

Satisfied, Brother Didymus provided them with information on the daemon’s weaknesses and abilities. They would know its host, he said, by its fiendish strength and its blacker-than-black eyes. It could not be killed, he said, only imprisoned within a specially-prepared gemstone, a Soul Prison, and only by performing a rite and extracting it from its host before the rite was completed. Finally, he provided the rite.

There are two means of forcing a daemon from its host, he explained: by beating it out, or by turning it out. In its true form, the daemon would not be able to act upon the real world, but nor would it be able to be influenced by anything save the holy rites.

Finally, Brother Didymus provided them with a Soul Prison that he had crafted centuries before, that they could find the daemon and trap it. What to do with after that, he was unsure; while the daemon would be held secure for some weeks within the prison, there was no known way to kill it. If they wished to cleanse the spirit and defeat the daemon, Brother Didymus suggested, then perhaps they should take it to Lux, the Solarian capital, where the best, brightest and most powerful servants of the Light could be found.

As the Red Branch prepared to leave, Brother Didymus stopped Ishlin, and made a proclamation: Ishlin had been touched by the Light, and had within him a great holy power: the mantle of paladinhood. Brother Didymus offered to help Ishlin wake this power if he so desired, so long as he passed Brother Didymus’ test. Brother Didymus would help Ishlin, he said, if Ishlin and his friends cleansed the remaining evil from the abbey, and if Ishlin was able to imprison the daemon without killing any host in which it resided.

The first task presented was fairly straightforward: there was only one area remaining that the party had not explored, only one last pocket of corruption to clear: the mysterious double doors that Simon’s Claw had warned them about. Checking the door, Ishlin found that it had been trapped, and recently, though the job was shoddy and easily handled. Grasping their weapons, Ishlin and Brennis kicked down the door …

... to find a room full of shambling, rotting halfling corpses, surrounding a nine-foot-tall, three-armed abomination of flesh.

As the zombies shuffled forward, Ishlin leaped back into action. Nocking an arrow, he loosed it to fly true, striking the hulk and disabling one of its shoulders. Enraged, it rushed forward to engage in melee, pushing the dead halflings aside with a horrible, gurgling roar. It struck at Gene with surprising strength, hurting him badly.

Worse, three of the dead halflings were much more energetic than the others, showing intelligence by rushing forward, tumbling through the fray, and flanking the party. These creatures, deeply aggressive, struck much faster and harder than the others, opening up a second front for the party to worry about.

Nonetheless, the party triumphed in the end, Ishlin bringing down the huge monstrosity in a burst of holy light and Kyton slicing the heads off the three aggressive corpses. The remaining mob pressed forward but Brennis leapt into their midst, drawing their attention and expertly dodging their fumbling, bony hands while he and the rest of the party picked them off one-by-one, or six-by-six.

As the last of the mindless corpses burned away into a pile of ash at the strike of the Thorn of the White, a scrollcase dropped to the floor. Inside was a collection of magical scrolls, as well as several pages of what looked like a diary. Unfortunately, as it was written in Celestial, there were none present who could read it.

With the abbey cleared, the party turned their attention to the larger problem: finding the daemon and the missing farmers. As it had been several days since they left Barley Row, they decided to send Kyton by air to see if any more farmers had disappeared.

Burton wasn’t pleased to see Kyton, brusquely calling into question the length of time it was taking to settle the problem. The residents of Barley Row had taken to sleeping together in a barn for protection, so there were no further disappearances to report, but Burton was eager for positive news so that they all could get back to routine.

Disgusted, Kyton made his way back to the abbey to rejoin his allies, and they struck out to continue searching the forest. The afternoon was fruitless; just before sunset, though, they came across an odd sight: a brown bear sitting motionless by a pool of water.

Ishlin attempted to sneak closer to get a better look, but stepped on a branch. At once, the bear fixed beady, glowing-red eyes on him, and lumbered to attack. Gene rushed in to cover Ishlin, and the stench of death rushed over both of them. The bear was dead, and rotten on the inside; it had been brought back to an awful semblance of life by the same magics as the corpses in the abbey.

Though the bear was strong, the skills of the party were stronger, and the monster was quickly overcome. The party pressed on through the woods, but the light was failing and they decided to pitch camp, Brennis creating a salt circle to keep them safe.

The following morning, Ishlin found that his anger and aggression had intensified; worse, his thinking was clouded, making it hard for him to focus. Worse, Gene was feeling similar symptoms. Simon’s Claw confirmed that there were shadows clinging to them, but it couldn’t identify the source; it was unlike anything it had ever sensed.

Regardless, it seemed like the only thing to do was press on and finish their quest. Back to searching; finally, they turned up with something. Low, incoherent cries for help echoed through the wood. Rushing to the scene, the party found cages, crafted of wood and bone, suspended up in the branches of two huge trees. Within the cages were visible the forms of prisoners; wandering the clearing beneath the cages were three black bears, bloated and rotting where they stood and yet still moving.

With no apparent recourse, the Red Branch engaged. They had the initiative, and were able to destroy one of the bear monsters before it was able to act. Ioan summoned a great beetle to capture the attention of one of the bears, while the rest of the fighters converged on the other, destroying it. The third bear went down as readily as the first two, and the party set to work freeing the prisoners.

They were almost too late; the people in the cages had suffered horribly, their skin flensed and scourged, their fingernails ripped off. They were covered with blood, starved, parched, emaciated; they looked as if they had been in the cages for days. Kyton tended to their wounds, but they remained unresponsive. A cursory inspection led the healers to the conclusion that they had been drugged or poisoned; in either case, they required more care than could be immediately offered.

The party paused to take stock. Somewhere in the wood, the daemon was creating these awful things. There were now innocents in danger, innocents that would need protection. And finally, Simon’s Claw reported that he could feel something awful, nearby in the woods …

XP

Brennis 1990 (RP)
Gene 1740
Ioan 1740
Ishlin 1740
Kyton 1740

Loot

Scrolls:
  • dispel magic
  • charm animal
  • control weather
  • invisibility purge
  • rusting grasp
  • stone shape
  • cure critical wounds
  • flame strike
  • restoration
View
25 April 2010
11 Hwyn-Braenar, 7 B.Blodd

The dawn broke, and with it came rain. After a simple breakfast, safely ensconced within their salt circle, the Red Branch applied themselves to the task of entering the ancient Solarian abbey in search of their quarry, That Which Slept.

Their first obstacle was a horrific sight to behold. The entrance to the abbey was defended; four shambling, rotting corpses wandered the valley in front of the entrance. Worse, though Ishlin’s arrow flew true, it seemed to have no appreciable effect. As one, the four horrid creatures turned and engaged.

After much gore and pus and splatter, the party stood victorious. But as they descended into the valley, a pall fell over them. Something in the air felt off; there was a wrongness, a chill, that penetrated them deeply.

Upon entering the ruined abbey, they encountered more of the walking corpses, this time accompanied by skeletons. One of the corpses charged ahead of the others, brutally engaging and injuring Ishlin before Brennis tore it apart with his bare hands (spraying ichor and gore all over the party). The other creatures engaged more slowly but no less recklessly, and in relatively short order the party was able to discern the appropriate tactics to use against the beasts.

The abbey’s entrance was a long, ruined hallway with a weak floor, sloping down. Ishlin led them safely around the weakest spots, and they descended a stairwell and entered the sanctuary of the temple at the heart of the abbey. The spacious, cavernous room was absolutely black, so Kyton cast light on an arrow and Ishlin fired it towards the nave.

What they saw disheartened them. Another mob of the rotting, shambling corpses waited by the dais, this time accompanied by a new monster: a big-toothed, purple-skinned wiry hairless humanoid. Heedless of the danger, Gene charged in; the new purple creature met his charge and bit into him, causing his muscles to lock up, rendering him helpless.

The rest of the party ran to the rescue before the purple monster could finish Gene off. Kyton summoned the power of nature; drawing on the fury of the storm high above, he blasted the purple monster with a powerful bolt of lightning that shattered it, likewise blowing a large hole in the roof overhead and letting the wan light of day shine down. With the new terror destroyed, the party made short work of the remaining corpses.

Taking a moment to rest, they searched the nave, finding nothing but rubble and the old Solarian altar. Leaving this behind for a moment, they arbitrarily decided to explore the sinstward wing, leaving the dextward for later.

The sinstward wing presented a dead end with a collapsed roof and a series of doors: a locked pair of heavy stone doors, and two individual wooden doors, once gilded, whitewashed and ornate, now showing the wear of hundreds of years of damp and murk.

The party decided to try the stone doors first. Ishlin got to picking; the rest waited and watched. Finally, after an extended effort, Ishlin managed to disengage the lock. They opened the heavy door … only to find a mummy, somehow come back to life, waiting for them. Simultaneously, another of the purple-skinned monsters, accompanied by a coterie of walking corpses and skeletons, emerged from the dextward wing and charged.

The mummy proved to be fiendishly strong and tough, delivering a mighty blow to Ishlin that brought him to his knees. However, quick thinking on his part demonstrated that the creature was vulnerable to fire. Kyton drew his flaming sword and struck viciously, driving the dessicated corpse back as the purple horror paralyzed Brennis and began to chew on him.

The party re-focused their efforts, and quickly brought the host of walking dead to the ground. Just as they were about to regroup, however, the mummy, which had retreated into the catacombs, returned … with another mummy! In desperation, Brennis called upon the ancient knowledge of his order and wrapped his fist in a sheath of flame, allowing him to strike the mummy for massive damage. In a single blow, he brought down both of the creatures. Unfortunately, Kyton had been not only wounded, but afflicted with some manner of unholy blight. His skin greyed and he began to shrivel, dessicating within like the mummies had been.

The immediate danger past, the group decided to take a rest, and then, rather than risking the catacombs, turned their attention to the other doors. Before this, Brennis created a salt circle to guard the stairs. Taking great care, they opened one door to find what looked like private chambers: a latrine, a dressing room, a closet, and finally a bed-chamber, with a long-dead skeleton under the blankets of the bed.

The party was about to leave well enough alone, but caught the scent of magic from the ancient body. When they tried to investigate, however, a new horror presented itself: a wispy, insubstantial hand shot up from the bed and drained some life-force out of Ishlin!

Ioan opted to use mage hand to lift the blankets and loot the body, but this only angered the shadowy, dark creature, which rushed to attack. Brennis, thinking quickly, dodged its ghostly swipe, and doused the remains in holy water, causing the creature to boil away. This allowed them the time to make a more thorough search of the body. On it, they discovered a magical periapt, an enchanted holy symbol, and a small silver key.

Next, they decided to take a moment and re-light the fire on the dais. For the first time in hundreds of years, the light shone from the Dais of Samael. As the fire burned, they felt the oppressive pall in their bones and souls lift away.

Heartened, they returned to the one remaining door, discovering that it led to the belfry. A small ledge ten feet up gave them reason to investigate further, and there, they found a bas-relief carved into the wall. A careful examination of the sculpture revealed a small keyhole, which the key fit perfectly, causing a section of the relief to pop out like a door.

Darkness greeted them on the far side, darkness pierced only by two glowing red eyes. When the eyes caught sight of Ishlin, who had taken the holy symbol and placed it about his neck, however, they turned green. The stone guardian recognized Ishlin as its controller and accepted his commands.

They had discovered the reliquary, and within it, the treasures of the abbey. These treasures consisted of a fine ivory bow, an ornate, alabaster harp, a small hand-sized Raptoran statuette, and a fine kama, which shrieked aloud when Ioan tried to pick it up. The kama, it turned out, had a mind - and voice - of its own, and it showed no fear of expressing itself at great length. It introduced itself as Simon’s Claw, and begged to be brought along to face That Which Slept, which, it said, was no longer in the abbey.

Gathering up the treasures of the reliquary, the party returned to the sanctuary, leaving instructions for the guardian to continue guarding the now-empty room. With two paths remaining to them, those being a door at the far end of the sanctuary and the dextward wing, they opted to explore the wing.

Care and caution served them well, as they checked room after room as the day wore on. Mostly, the found nothing: ruined furniture, decayed cloth, simple implements long-since rusted and useless. They did happen across the abbey’s sacristy, where the non-magical wealth was contained, and they looted it, finding a bracelet, a flask, a scarab and a portion of a stained-glass window, presumably representing Samael. Simon’s Claw warned them about a big bad evil near a pair of double doors, so they steered clear, instead wandering into the dining hall, where they encountered another of the purple monsters and a host of walking dead.

Ishlin took the initiative. Using the ivory bow from the reliquary, he nocked an arrow and loosed it at the purple horror. The result was spectacular: gold-white light erupted from the wound and the monster’s mouth and eyes, and it burned away from the inside, exploding backwards in a puff of ash.

With their new weapons, the party was able to handle the remaining pack of abominations with little difficulty. Ishlin’s new bow dramatically increased his effectiveness against the creatures, and Simon’s Claw enthusiastically brought itself against the terrors two by two.

The day had worn on, and the party had suffered fairly serious injuries over the course of their many battles of the day. Their supplies of salt running low, they decided to make camp on the dais, near the warming Flame of Samael, which mysteriously still burned, even though they had only furnished enough oil to last an hour …

In-between activities: Go through the potions and find out what’s good.

XP:

Brennis 2100
Gene 2100
Ioan 2100
Ishlin 2100
Kyton 2100

I split the RP bonus among everyone; I couldn’t pick a winner this week. IMPORTANT: Even if you have enough XP, you don’t actually level up until you’ve recovered all health, ability damage and taken a full night’s rest in a safe location (i.e. town).

Loot:
  • Thorn of the White: +3 holy burst longbow
  • Simon’s Claw: +1 intelligent kama
  • harp of dreams
  • Raptoran statue
  • lesser ring of the chameleon
  • Potions:
    • mage armor
    • shillelagh
    • spider climb
    • bless weapon
    • cure moderate wounds
    • eagle’s splendor
  • lead crystal flask with gold and silver filigree: 700g
  • portion of a stained-glass window depicting most of Samael: 300g
  • golden bracelet with emerald inlay: 750g
  • platinum scarab with ivory inlay and ruby eyes: 2000g
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11 April 2010
8 - 10 Hwyr-Braenar, 7 B.Blodd

A bit of deus ex machina, to begin the day. As the characters were having breakfast, Brenda came into work bearing news. Seems she’d had dinner with a “friend” the night before and had brought up the Anchorite’s auguries of the day, and her companion had had some insight to provide. What he revealed was a dirty little secret of the gnomes: the Daemons.

Armed with this knowledge, the party went to the Anchorite for further information. After catching the tail end of his morning service, they spoke at some length about demons and ways they could be fought. The Anchorite promised to provide them with blessed weapons and some of the Church’s cache to aid them in their quest.

They returned to the temple that afternoon, and Linnaeus made good on his promise, blessing their weapons and providing them with scrolls, rituals of protection, and a candle whose light would cause evil to flee. Wasting no time, they set out immediately towards the small farming community of Barley Row, roughly twelve leagues sinstward.

An uneventful night passed, and they continued their travels the following day. After a minor, easily-overcome skirmish with some overconfident bandits in the middle of a field, they arrived at Barley Row in the early evening. They were greeted coolly by Burton, a Cymru man unimpressed with the length of time it had taken the group to arrive. He told them that most of the disappearances had been people foraging in Diggswood Forest, but the previous night the Finch family, mother, father and daughter, had been stolen from their farmhouse. He called upon Billy, a big farmhand, to take them to the house.

The farmhouse itself, located at the forest’s edge, was unremarkable: a small, stone-walled, thatched-roof affair common to poor farmers. There were no real signs of struggle within; it appeared that the family had just gotten up and left in the middle of the night. The only unusual feature of the scene were all the animal tracks. Tracks were everywhere, tracks of wolves, tracks of cougars, foxes, even non-predatory animals like rabbits and deer. The tracks circled the house, but dissipated once they went into the forest.

The party decided to camp at the house in the face of the encroaching evening. Billy offered his family’s home and then took his leave, and Brennis used the ritual the Anchorite had provided to create a salty circle of protection around the farmhouse. They assigned watches and settled in for the night.

The night passed uneventfully, except for one strange occurrence. At one point during the night, the man on watch noticed a single wolf, sitting just inside the forest, watching him. The wolf did not approach the circle, and after a time, wandered off into the forest.

The following morning, the party resolved to head into the wood. They felt the best course of action was to sweep the entire forest, starting at the edges and moving in deeper, to attempt to find some sign of the missing townspeople and their captor. The first day of searching proved fruitless; the second day started out similarly uneventful, until the party encountered a half-orc druid previously unknown to them. He did not introduce himself, but spoke briefly about the temple which had been uncovered in an earthquake some time before and the evil it had released. After disclosing his location, he left, calling over his shoulder that the party should beware the walking corpses.

This warning in mind, the party approached the temple. En route, they encountered a strange and frightening sight: walking skeletons! They attempted to sneak past, but somehow the skeletons heard them and attacked. The fight went well for the party, and as the day drew to a close, they came into sight of the temple. Rather than entering the temple at night, the party created a circle of protection and hunkered down, warily keeping watch on the walking dead.

XP

Brennis 1160 (RP)
Ishlin 910
Kyton 910
Ioan 910
Gene 910

Loot

800 marks

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14 - 21 March 2010
An Interlude: 1 Cyn-Braenar to 7 Hwyr-Braenar, 7 B.Blodd

At the conclusion of the Mawr Helfeydd festival, the Red Branch took some time to regroup, regather and recover from the intense events of the preceding seasons. With no pressing matters to attend to and no new jobs coming in, the men of the Branch passed their days pursuing their own projects.

Ishlin trained with Cedrick the Bear, gaining more skill with the way of the bow, and hunted, and occasionally visited with Councilor Nyzomr.

Brennis divided his time between drinking and smoking with Councilor Oadlay, drinking and smoking with Cutter Jack, attempting to renew his ties with the monastery and attempting to locate his parents. On the latter two counts he was unsuccessful; the monastery doors remained closed to him and the walls silent, and the trail of his parents had long grown cold.

Kyton spent his time with the grove near Gerrard’s Cross, helping partake in the training of the young druids and rangers, all the while ruminating on the apparition he had seen during the night of Mawr Helfeydd.

Ioan, between time spent with his lover Lyssah in the grove, returned to the Conservatory to hone his skills. In addition, he was tapped by Councilor Goicel to fill in at the Opera House for an ill performer. His two-week run as the third man in Moriarti’s Chantez au Ciel was well-received.

Hershlag visited a healer in order to try and recover his memory. Shortly thereafter, he returned to the Brewhaus, packed his belongings and left without a word to his compatriots. He has not been seen or heard from since.

Gene, of course, spent his time working as a guard and occasionally taking meals at the Brewhaus with the Red Branch.

In the town at large, the populace returned to business as usual. The end of the harvest season meant an increase in airship travel as the traders and farmers work to move their wares to markets all over the branchlands. An increase in airship traffic means an increase in local prosperity; the inns are constantly full and exotic travelers wander the streets day and night.

In politics, Councilor Buglakk was tried and convicted of hiring the Tauren to assassinate Councilor Rhivleg. The assessed weregild ruined him and reduced him to poverty; his seat on the Council was sold to Councilor Montrose Graham, a wealthy eccentric.

Beyond that, it’s business as usual in River’s End, as the days grow shorter and the weather cools.

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7 March 2010
13 - 14 Mawr Helfeydd, 6 B.Blodd.

The start of the day found the party in the depths of the swamp, tracking down a strange feeling that the casters could perceive. Investigation led them deeper into the swamp, bringing them eventually to a strange dome of brambles, a thicket made of plants that ordinarily have no business in a swamp, surrounded by the stench of blood and swamp rot.

Kyton was the first to investigate, but upon pushing his way into the hedge, he was gripped with a fear so intense he could do nothing but flee. Ishlin tried next, and though he had difficulty making it past the thorns, he proved more stalwart and was able to shake off the supernatural terror. At the center of the thicket he found a strange, twisted tree with near-black bark, surrounded by thick vines … and skeletons tangled therein. Deciding it was best to back away and live, Ishlin and Kyton made their way back to the others, and decided all around to continue their investigation of the mysterious tree at a later time.

They hauled the bulette’s paw back to the halfling village and received their reward, a small chest with 8 bars of bullion within. Taking their bounty, they made their way back to River’s End.

An interlude …

In River’s End, Constable Gene had kept occupied by tracking “the” were-rat into its sewer lair and slaying it. On the heels of that achievement, he received word from his informant in the Perfectly Legitimate Businessmen, Vinny the Chin, that the tauren were in town and they were after one of the Council of Twelve. Because of his achievements with the were-rat business, Head Constable Brondir placed Gene in charge of a small detachment of the guard and charged him with preventing the assassination.

Upon returning to River’s End, the party and Brenda went shopping for the ball. They bumped into Gene, who filled them in on his adventures from the previous days, and also to their counterparts from Dark Moon House. They also were exposed to the wonder that was Ice Moons, a frozen treat provided by a gnome at the fair.

The following day, Brenda took the party to “the best tailor in the Rhysmarch,” a drow elf named Virek. Virek welcomed them into his shop and talked their ears off while taking their measurements, and then ushered them away, promising he would have their clothing ready for final fittings by midafternoon. The party spent the intervening hours shopping, visiting the apothecary to ready themselves for the Wild Hunt after the ball. A quick trip back to Virek’s provided them with fantastically well put-together attire, and then it was time to go to the party.

Brenda arranged a fine coach (out of her own wages) and off they went to the opera house. The music was audible from outside, but they didn’t have to wait long. A quick pass through security, in which their weapons were peace-bonded (and just as quickly un-bonded by a watchful Gene), and they were inside. The dancing was already underway; the bar and the buffet were set up and the best and best-dressed of River’s End were already hard at work socializing.

Ishlin made a beeline for the bar, where he was approached by Councillor Nyzmor, a fellow Thran. Nyzmor spoke to Ishlin about Thran things, including his general discomfort with the affairs of high society. Meanwhile, at the buffet, Hershlag and Kyton were greeted by Councillor Jommeju, a huge, boisterous, gossipy Ur-Skek. Hershlag made his way to the roped-off area next to the stage, and found another man, who identified himself as Councillor Buglakk, fiddling with a locked door.

Buglakk promptly shooed the inquisitive halfling away. Hershlag left, but went to collect Gene and Kyton; unfortunately, Buglakk was gone by the time they got back. They inspected the door, which Gene had previously secured, only to find that it had been unchained.

Meanwhile, Councillor Goicel had taken Ioan by the ear and was prattling on about music and theatre. It turned out that Goicel was a strong patron of the arts, who took in a large amount of money through the Opera House itself. Suddenly, the arrival of Councillor Buglakk was announced; this raised eyebrows among the party but they did not pursue the matter.

A backstage investigation by Gene, Kyton, Ishlin and Hershlag led to a short fight with ninjas in the catwalks above the stage. The ninjas were in their element and armed with poisoned hand crossbows, and so were easily able to elude the party. Meanwhile, Brennis and Ioan continued to talk with Goicel, and collected an agitated-looking Buglakk, bringing him to the bar.

Buglakk indulged very quickly in large amounts of Ur-Skek Ambrosia, a potent drink. As he quickly became inebriated, Goicel suggested they get him out of sight. They quickly brought him backstage, where he promptly vomited and passed out.

The party decided to casually mingle with the rest of the Council to try and work out just what was going on. Leaving Gene to stand guard over the inebriated Buglakk, they emerged back to the ball and started to chat.

They quickly found that the recent hardships in the council had centered around some kind of trade bill, the nature and sponsor of which was a matter of some circumspection. Brennis spoke to the Cymru Councillor, Oadlay MacFarren. Ishlin went back to talk with Councillor Nyzmor. Ioan leveraged his bardic whiles to dance with Councillor Rhivleg, a handsome older woman and heir to a trade fortune. Councillor Goicel introduced them to the mad Councillor Byhill. Brenda spent a great deal of time engrossed in conversation with Councillor Pyawi. Finally, they spoke again to Councillor Jommeju, who talked at some length about the trade bill and his general disapproval of those who tried to make money through dishonest means.

This was enough to confirm their suspicions, that Buglakk had founded the bill and had contracted with the tauren to eliminate some of his competition, but had reneged on his deal with them. Tauren honor would demand an example to be made of him; despite the general consensus that he probably deserved what was coming to him, the party resolved to do what they could to protect him from the assassins and bring him to justice. They went backstage to confront him, but he refused to confess to everything, instead getting back into the perceived safety of “the open” as quickly as possible.

Then, the feast began. Each of the members of the Council took their place at the head table and made speeches, one by one, as the food was brought forth and served. Councillors Gewaegue, Nhuayl and Lameyek went first, then Oadlay, Jommeju and Goicel. Udrat, Rhivleg and Nyzmor went in turn, and it was then that some in the party started noticing that some of the servers were taking an unusual interest in the proceedings.

As Buglakk stood up to make his speech, one of the servers threw off his uniform, casting aside the illusion that had been disguising him. Where a tall, bald human had once stood was now a bare-chested, muscular, tattooed tauren assassin. Yelling a threat, he charged the stage and made a death attack on the surprised, helpless Buglakk.

As Buglakk slumped into his seat, the party charged the stage. Though the assassin was boxed in between the party and Gene’s guards, other assassins revealed themselves and joined the fray. In the confusion, the assassin escaped, though the party was able to capture one of the tauren ninja for interrogation.

The evening ended with the arrival of the Constabulary along with the Council. Buglakk was taken into custody on suspicion of hiring the assassins and the characters were given the thanks of the Council for preventing the assassination and further harm to the guests and attendees. Gene took custody of the captured assassin as the party departed to head for the woods to meet Rothgald and Legandir to embark on the Wild Hunt.

Loot:
800 marks

XP:
Brennis 1025
Ishlin 1275
Ioan 1025
Kyton 1275
Hershlag 1275
Gene 1475 (RP bonus)

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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