It's War!

Riol's Favor
Boon or Bane?

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February 7th, the PCs leave “The Thrown Gauntlet” and walk back to “The Regal Gardens” inn. Once there, Tansy pays for last night and prepays for the next 7 days. Most of the group goes about their business awaiting the next part of the plan. Tansy and Belamdil go to bed to catch up on much lost sleep. Reeve, however, summons Kealani to his room.

During their conversation, Reeve reveals that Master Rosenridge was the one who hired the guild to steal the skulls. Reeve also informs Kealani that the guild threatened the life of Guardian Frostbrand to ensure Reeve’s compliant nature with the whole encounter. Kealani’s reaction was anger. First that Tansy wasted “the favor” on information that they already knew instead of using it to retrieve the skulls. Second that the guild was threatening the life of innocent who was not involved, a Paladin no less. Kealani is committed to destroying the sage, his apprentice if necessary, and to the dismantling of the Riol’s guild thieves and would-be assassins.

Kealani reports that the sage’s assistant, that morning before dawn, traveled through back alleys and side streets to the “Thrown Gauntlet”, but shortly after entering came back out angry and empty handed. He then returned to the university. Reeve assigns Kealani to keep surveillance on the apprentice. If he returns to “The Thrown Gauntlet” and gets the skulls, take them from him, but, Reeve is uncertain how culpable the apprentice is and instructs Kealani to not harm him is possible.

Reeve then travels to the shrine of Glo’ir and informs Guardian Frostbrand of what happened and how she was targeted. She fears attempting anything within the city against the Sage or the Guild could be foolish, the government is quite corrupt. She agrees to help in any way she can, though. Reeve returns to the inn to get some sleep.

That night, Belamdil dreams…
A young girl is being chased across a field and harassed by a cloaked figure; you cannot see his face in the shadows of the hood. He is wearing black leather gauntlets and he is holding a golden torch with blue flames. An owl sits on a nearby tree branch observing the scene, beneath the owl is a shadowy, bipedal beast. The cloaked figure drags the girl to the beast. It begins to devour the girl in a bloody display, her screams drowned out by its snarls and the crunching of bone. As it feasts upon her flesh, the cloaked figure seems to grow more formidable in your sight.

February 8th:

The PCs split up. Reeve, Belamdil, and Enoch gather information about Master Rosenridge from the University guards and learn he spends much of his time with Lady Mycroft, a recently widowed noble woman who frequents parties and is not well respected. They also notice Kealani circling the University grounds and overhear the guards commenting…“There’s that hawk again” “Yeah, its the same one as yesterday.”

Tansy and the rest travel about the market selling loot and making purchases. Then they all meet back at the inn. That evening, Reeve summons Kealani off the apprentice and sends him to the Mycroft estate to watch for the Sage. This upsets Kealani as he thinks the apprentice should be apprehended once he picks up the skulls, but he agrees to do as Reeve suggests.

The PCs go to the University to check in with Isaac Reis. After bribing the gate guards to allow them entrance after the grounds of closed, the PCs arrive at Mister Rosenridge’s office. Isaac, surprised to see them, invites them in. They question him about his progress and how long Mister Rosenridge might take with his research. Isaac assures them that he is working diligently, scouring the new books that they retrieved, but he can not predict how long it might take. He suggests that they return the morning of the 10th and he will contact Mister Rosenridge for an update and inform them that morning. During this exchange, Belamdil was able to detect just the slightest twinge of fear in Isaac’s eyes each time Rosenridge was mentioned. After leaving the University, he shared this information with the others. This all seems to cast more suspicion on Mister Rosenridge, but the party still has nothing that can be classified as evidence of any wrong doing.

Tansy hits the streets that night to learn whatever she can about Rosenridge and the Lady Mycroft. She learns nothing of Rosenridge, but does discover the next “big event” the Lady Mycroft is likely to attend is a party being held by a Mister Winston Blake. She learns that the event will happen on the 12th at an event hall, “The Famous Lute”.

That night, Belamdil dreams again…
You are looking through someone else’s eyes. You are crawling through a tunnel, waist deep in water. You emerge into the bottom of a small, stone chamber, the bottom of a well perhaps. Looking up you see torch light from an opening about eight feet up, you hear a girl scream and the snarling of an animal. You climb quickly out of the shaft and are surprised by your last sight – talons pierce your eyes and screeching fills your ears. Blinded, you fall. Then you awaken as if landing in your bed.

February 9th:

That morning, Reeve and Tansy take separate routes to gather information. Reeve is seeking symbols and standards pertaining to Lady Mycroft, Mister Winston Blake, and who bears the golden torch with a blue flame per Belamdil’s request. He learns that the Mycrofts are represented by 3 bronze crosses on a red field. That Mister Blake uses a silver wagon wheel on a blue field, and the golden torch with a blue flame represents Baron Robert Mantle who has a keep and hamlet about 50 miles NE of Balkenport along the coast, still in Balkenshire.

Tansy learns of Mister Blake’s various business holdings and his where his modest home is. That he is a social climber seeking to enter the nobility and is willing to spend every last dime to achieve this goal. She also infiltrates and investigates “The Famous Lute”. She sneaks around learning the layout before she is caught and run off.

The PCs regroup at the “Regal Gardens” to share information around noon. Belamdil then reveals his dream and his concern that Lortranna may be in trouble. That this Baron Mantle is involved in some sort of unholy “deal” and somehow Nok’rosh is involved. He sends Tansy out to try and find Lortranna.

Later that night, Tansy finally gets a lead on Lortranna. A shifty fellow, who spent most of their time together admiring Tansy’s new ruby ring, claimed he had seen an elf woman with a symbol matching that of Faeramriel. He believed he could find her and would be willing to help if Tansy would do him a favor. He introduced himself as Bolt, and he wants Tansy to take him to “The Thrown Gauntlet” for introductions to Riol’s group. She agrees and tells him to meet her at “The Regal Gardens” when he had the information.

February 10th:

Bolt awakens Tansy early that morning stating that he has found Lortranna, that she is heading out of town and if they hurry, they can probably catch her at the North gate. Tansy quickly alerts the PCs and throws on her things, Bolt waits downstairs. As they come down stairs, Bolt gives her panicked “halt” sign while he hides and peeks out a window. He waves Tansy over, points out two men standing across the street from the Inn and identifies them as Prothero’s boys. He explains they are a rival guild to Riol and believes they are watching her.

After some discussion on how to handle this situation, Reeve decides to simply confront the two men. Reeve exits the Inn and heads directly toward them. As he approaches, the two men vacate the area in opposite directions. The PCs then proceed to the gate with Bolt sticking close to Tansy’s side explaining how he just saved her trying to further ingratiate himself to her.

Lortranna is found at the North gate, Belamdil pulls her aside and explains his most recent dream. He informs her that he will assist with her quest. The two of them determine that the ritual is likely to take place during the full moon giving them a few days. Mantle Bay is about a 3 day walk from here. Belamdil says that he has business to attend to, but to look for him by the 14th. Lortranna agrees and thanks him for the help.

Bolt then reminds Tansy of their date tonight, and separates from the group to prepare. He will meet her at “The Regal Gardens” at nine tonight. The PCs begin walking back to their inn when Belamdil notices a shimmer in the air above Tansy. It is determined to be a scrying sensor. Tansy immediately loses her cool and determines the source must be her new ring and attempts to remove it. She then learns that she can not remove the ring the Riol gave her. After more investigation and thought, Belamdil determines that the ring is not only protective, but seems to be a modified Jailer’s ring. At this point Tansy becomes quite irate and begins screaming at the nigh-invisible sensor over head and threatening to cut off her own finger to remove the ring. This causes quite a commotion in the streets and draws a lot of attention. The group final gets Tansy back to the inn and Belamdil assures her that he can attempt to remove the ring in the morning and convinces Tansy to not remove her own finger.

That evening, Tansy’s mood shifts again and she actual fixes her hair and dresses up for the meeting at the “Thrown Gauntlet”. All through the afternoon and the evening, it is hard to tell if she is angry at Riol, impressed with Riol, attracted to Riol, or all three combined. Bolt arrives just before nine, cleaned up and dressed to impress. He is very excited about this opportunity. Once again, before leaving, there is concerned expressed by Praxith and Reeve about Tansy going without an escort, and the discussion begins on how the entire group should covertly tail her. After many eye-rolls, Tansy agrees that the group can station itself at a near-by tavern called “The Clever Bunny”. The group then sets out.

Upon passing the “Bunny”, Tansy and Bolt continue on their own to the “Gauntlet” while the others crowd into the “Bunny”. It becomes quickly apparent that the “Clever Bunny” is a whorehouse with strippers and drinks. Reeve, Enoch, and Ethrias remove themselves from the premises and take up station on a bench across the street. The others, however, enter and take a table. It becomes quickly apparent that they are not welcome to just sit and visit and had better order drinks. Belamdil buys a round and after some time, more drinks are brought, even though they were not ordered. Belamdil just keeps paying and the waitress keeps delivering.

As Bolt and Tansy enter the “Thrown Gauntlet”, they fail to notice a hawk perch itself over on the roof over the door. The place is crowded and jovial, Tansy does notice that there are several pairs of eyes about the room that take notice of her and Bolt and track their movements. Tansy approaches the barkeep and before any requests can be made she is told, “Ah, he is expecting you, have a seat.” They sit under the watchful eyes of the common room.

After a few moments, a female half-elf approaches the table, introduces herself as Telent, and offers to escort Tansy to Riol. Bolt immediately stands with Tansy expecting to follow and Telent indicates that just Tansy should come. Bolt begins to protest, reminding Tansy that they had a deal and he is expecting a meeting with Riol. Tansy asks if he can come to which Telent replies, “I was told to not deny you any request, but I wouldn’t advise it.” Tansy takes the hint but Bolt does not and he requires much reassuring that Tansy has his best interest in mind and is not trying to renege on the deal. Tansy is then escorted upstairs, between to orc guards, and through a door. Telent holds the door for Tansy to enter and then excuses herself, leaving Tansy standing alone.

The room is ostentatious to say the least. Fur carpets, a horde of paintings and statuettes to decorate the room, the door way to the next room is covered in multi-colored sheer silk curtains. From the curtains Riol emerges wearing a very expensive and flashy robe and slippers on his feet. He warmly welcomes Tansy and leads into the curtained room where she sees more fur rugs and mounds of cushions and pillows for lounging. She also sees a small table set with a very fine meal, wine, and candle light. Riol insists that they eat before business, escorts her to the table and serves her.

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"The Thrown Gauntlet"
Stolen Skulls!

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The party enters Balkenport on February 5th and decides to split up. Reeve, Kealani, Tansy, Enoch, and Ethrias travel to the shrine of Glo’ir while Belamdil, Blane, Liathis, and Praxith secure rooms and store gear at “The Regal Gardens” Inn.

At the shrine of Glo’ir, Reeve, Ethrias, and Enoch greet Teressa warmly. Reeve and Teressa share information and a prayer is spoken for the fallen Paladin, Ewen Silverflame. Tansy once again hangs in the shadows, remaining on the edges of the small group, bowing silently, yet keeping one eye open to see if anyone notices her bowing and praying. Even Kelani is focused on the prayer and pays her no mind.

At the “Regal Gardens” Inn, the group is unloading. As they try to move the large mirror upstairs to one of their rooms, an employee offers to assist. With Blane and Praxith at the front, the employee and Belamdil carry the back. They navigate the stairs and doors, inching the mirror into the room. As they begin to set it down, the employee drops his hold, grabs Belamdil’s sack of skulls, and bolts down stairs. Belamdil and Blane give chase. They manage to follow him through a crowd, into an alley, and pull him down as he attempts to climb a wall. After some struggle, Blane pins the thief. Belamdil learns that he tossed the sack to a compatriot in the crowd and that he works for a man named Tethion. Belamdil then releases the thief as agreed in exchange for the information. The thief assures him, “It wasn’t personal, we were hired to get those skulls.”

After all have regrouped at the Inn, Tansy gather’s information on Tethion while Reeve and Belamdil deliver the books and notes to the sage. At the University, the gate guards complain about another late night delivery but reveal that this is usual for Mister Rosenridge. At the office, the PCs are greeted by Isaac, the apprentice. He takes the collection from the PCs and tells them that he expects his master back tomorrow evening. Even under Reeve’s suspicious eye, Isaac seems truthful and sincere.

Tansy learns on the streets that Tethion is a street boss in the thieve’s guild and can be found at the “Thrown Gauntlet” Tavern on the South side of town.

Much to Tansy’s annoyance, the group will not let her investigate alone. Tansy, Ethrias, and Liathis move in to the Tavern to scope it out while the rest of the group loiters outside, periodically sending Enoch in to inconspicuously check up on the inside crew. He fails to remain inconspicuous and unwanted attention is drawn resulting in the entire group being invited in to have a sit down with Tethion.

After much posturing, Tethion agrees to arrange a meet with the boss in exchange for the name of the person who gave them Tethion’s name. Belamdil reveals the description of the thief that robbed him, and Tethion is satisfied with that. At this point, the PCs are aware that the entire tavern seems to be members of the Guild.

Entering from a back door is Riol Wearn, leader of the thieve’s guild and dressed in a Shakespeare style stage costume with floppy hat and feathered plume. He uses large gestures and melodramatic emoting during the conversation. He will not reveal who hired him to steal the skulls nor will return the skulls, but, if they can survive the Gauntlet, he will grant them a favor (which could be information or a requested prize). He reveals that they may only take 3 items each (a pair of boots count as one item by the way). He pulls out a flute, plays a jolly tune, and leads them down into the basement of the Tavern. There he reveals a trapdoor and ladder descending into the gauntlet.

In this chamber they see, Jowan, the thief Belamdil identified, he is wearing only a light grey shift. A robed elf woman, Lortana, wearing a symbol of Faeramriel greets Belamdil in “Dreamspeak” and reveals her purpose to him. She tells him of her quest to assist a farmer in retrieving his daughter from their lord Baron who has taken her as an unwilling bride. Faeramriel revealed to her that she would find the information she needed here to help him. “One of my dreams I interpreted as, ‘the golden winged flower would find the key to release the harried damsel’, but I do not understand it, so I came on faith that all would be made clear at the right time.” Belamdil informs her that he believes his sister is the answer and that Lortrana does not need to enter the gauntlet, they will retrieve the needed information. Lortrana thanks him as she was not looking forward to the gauntlet and doubted her ability to survive it. She offers to wait for them and will pray for their success.

Riol announces, “Jowan, you must retrieve the blue disc of forgiveness; Tansy, you must get the green emerald of favor; Lortrana, you will want the bone scroll case, it contains a map and key that you need.” At that, Lortrana informs Riol she will not be entering and excuses herself. Riol says sadly, “You owe me nothing, so, you are free to go.” To the others, “Let’s begin, Jowan, lead the way for our guests!”

Looking defeated, Jowan sighs heavily and descends the ladder with Riol and Tansy hovering over the trapdoor entrance looking down upon him. As Jowan nears the bottom, scythe blades at three different heights slice through Jowan’s body. Jowan screams and his bottom falls to the bottom while spatters of blood fly up on o the faces of Riol and Tansy. Riol grins looking at Tansy and says, “The Gauntlet is deadly, use more care than Jowan did.” The PCs then descend the ladder with Tansy taking point searching for traps.

The gauntlet is littered with trapped halls, walls, and rooms. The traps range from irritating causing minor wounds to summoned Outsiders and animated constructs. There are scatter random treasure to entice those of a roguish nature to continue deeper. There are also false treasure to try and confuse and deceive the PCs from achieving their goal. However, after twelve hours, the PCs emerge from the depths of the Gauntlet holding their sought out rewards.

After bathing and having their diseased soaked clothes burned, the PCs are lead into the common room and served breakfast. Their companions are lounging around the room, having never left while the PCs were inside the Gauntlet. Few other patrons are in attendance as “The Thrown Gauntlet” seems to be more of an evening establishment.

The room begins to fill with thugs and one shuts and locks the front doors. Then two orcs, heavily armed and armored walk in followed by Riol, wearing trousers tucked into knee high boots and a billowy blouse with lacy cuffs. He is wearing a very wide brimmed, maroon colored musketeer style hat with two foot long purple feather plume. “You survived!” he exclaims excitedly, bows, removing his hat and sweeping his plume along the floor.

Tansy invites him to join them at the table. Riol hesitates and eyes Reeve, taking a measure of his demeanor. Then, he marches to their table and sits down. “It seems you were all quite disgusting when you emerged, but did you get it?” Tansy says, “the statue?” as she sets it on the table. Riol sits back and smiles, “the Golden Rogue, most don’t go that deep in the gauntlet. Congratulations, you may keep everything you found.” “Did you find what you were looking for?” Tansy then sets the two emeralds on the table and say, “which one do you need?” To which Riol responds, “You tell me.”

Everyone at the table studies Riol’s poker face looking for some tell as to which emerald they should give him. Only Tansy is able to detect the glance he gave the smaller emerald, which she then presents to him as the Emerald of Favor. Applauding, Riol asks what the favor shall be.

After some friendly banter and multiple prompts from Riol of “…are you sure?” It is settled, Tansy asks, “Who hired you to steal the skulls?” Riol says it was Master Oswald Rosenridge, the sage from the university. The PCs suspicions have been confirmed. Riol then asks, “Tansy, if you would agree to perform a service for me, I will give you another piece of juicy gossip that I think you need to know.” After some thought, Tansy declines. Riol is clearly saddened by this. Tansy states, “I just don’t think I can afford the cost of that offer.” To which Riol responds, “It could cost you more to not know.” Yet, Tansy will not acquiesce and Reeve seems to be uncomfortable at the talk of working for Riol. Riol stands up, walks around the table to stand before Tansy saying, “I would like to give you a gift,” he holds out his hand presenting a ruby ring he is wearing (large like a class ring). Tansy slips the ring off his finger saying thank you. Riol says, “It will be useful to you, many people will recognize my ring.” He then removes his hat sweeping it wide while he bows to kiss Tansy’s hand, slapping Reeve in the face with his plume. He then bids them farewell and exits the room. The doors are then unlocked and the PCs return to the “Regal Gardens” Inn.

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Lair of Ulikras "The Harvester"
Vampire Nest!!!

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(January 23rd)
Once settled into the “Regal Gardens” Inn, the PCs traveled to the University in Balkenport. They were greeted at the gates by a young student, Ansel Parker, who escorted them to the “Hall of Sages” to speak with Master Oswald Rosenridge, the University’s resident expert on Necromancy.

The PCs were met by Master Rosenridge’s assistant, Isaac Reis. After a brief discussion of the black pearls, Isaac asked the PCs to either leave the pearls with him or return after 9pm and Master Rosenridge should be back. The PCs elected to return rather than leave the pearls.

That night, the PCs met Master Rosenridge, a handsome middle-age man with thick black hair pulled back into a long pony tail and pale skin as if he had spent many hours indoors working by candle light and very little actual Sun. He was wearing black robes as typical of the Reglosian university system, with a gold necklace holding two rings, one of platinum and one of steel.

After introductions and pleasantries, a detailed discussion of the black pearls and their demonic origins, Master Rosenridge says, "I believe the pearls contain captured souls. However, without more research, I would not want to speculate on what would happen if a pearl were to be destroyed. Alas, the University is limited on available research. But, I do know of an ancient Necromancer, Ulikras “the Harvester”. He was rumored to have an extensive collection of research in the Necromantic arts. Some of it may be helpful."

Master Rosenridge directs the PCs to the small village of Ravenrest. The lair of Ulikras was rumored to be in the towns old cemetery. Rosenridge also warned the PCs of possible vampire activity due to reports of missing persons in the village.

Master Rosenridge requests everything found in the library of Ulikras. However, at this point, Reeve attempts to diplomatically explain that if anything radiates an evil aura, he will not be handing it over for study, but keeping for disposal. At this, Master Rosenridge attempts to convince Reeve of the folly of such an undertaking, the lost knowledge is unacceptable. Reeve, ever the Paladin, will not budge on this point and Master Rosenridge finally acquiesces. Tansy leaves the pearls with Master Rosenridge for study and Reeve informs him that Teressa Frostbrand, a local Paladin, will come to claim the pearls should they fail in their quest and never return.

Approximately one day NE of Balkenport, following the coast line, the PCs enter the village of Ravenrest. A small village with one tavern/inn, “The Chubby Possum”. The PCs talk with Miss Hafwen Phrys, the proprietor of the “Possum”. She tells of 3 missing a children and a couple of “adventuring types” that went looking for them. She points at Reeve’s symbol stating, “The man was one of your people, one of them Paladin types.” “They’ve left with a local tracker, Thilis, two days ago, but I don’t expect we’ll be hearing from them again,” she adds sadly.

The PCs move on to the cemetery about 2 walk from the town. Reeve and Kealani do a fly over the cemetery and find one child hiding among the tombstones. With some difficulty due to the presence and charm of Kealani, Reeve finally coaxes the girl from her hiding place. She tells of how her, Aedan, and Tamisin were playing in the woods nearby and were captured 4 days ago. That the creatures would beat them, set them loose at night in the cemetery and hunt them. She managed to hide and the beasts gave up the hunt when the Sun rose. She also tells of a woman in the cells that has been badly mistreated. The party sets up a small base camp at the edge of the cemetery while Kealani flies the girl, Eseld, back to town.

As the party awaits Kealani’s return and the sun is setting, a woman’s scream can be heard in the distance. At this, Praxith begins to insist that the group begin a search and rescue. Reeve advises against this stating that they should wait. Praxith becomes increasingly more agitated and adamant that the party move as more screams can be heard. She begins marching into the cemetery as Kealani returns and the Sun finally sets. This forces the group to action at night.

As party searches for an entrance to a lair in the darkness, they can hear movement in the distance, seemingly just out of the light radius. They come across a large pit, probably some sort of sunken in mass grave. Screams can be heard more clearly from here. Kealani leads the party into the pit as Reeve covers the rear of the group against whatever is moving in the darkness.

As the party carefully descends, Belamdil slips and tumbles into the bottom of the pit, stopping against a massive pile of bones. At that moment, Kealani announces he is detecting an evil presence, pointing to the pile of bones.

As if on cue, the bones rise into a huge monstrosity made of random bones, its huge maw opens and lets out a bone rattling cry, ribs forming its teeth. But, as the fight begins in the pit, Reeve is set upon by a creature from the darkness. A gaunt, pale, feral looking man with fangs. Filthy and stinking, it leaps at Reeve.

Belamdil unleashes Searing Light upon the undead monster as Kealani and Blane hack away. It is felled as Reeve and Ethrias deal with the feral spawn at the top of the ledge. With a smiting blow, Reeve strikes the creature and it dissipates into a gaseous cloud and floats away.

At the bottom of the pit, a cave entrance is found leading to a ladder. The ladder descends into a tunnel with only enough room to advance one person at a time. Once again, Kealani leads the way. The entire group is caught one at a time in a teleportation trap. They reappear in a darkened cells. Tansy makes short work of the locks. In the cells they find the young boy, Aedan. They also find a naked, beaten, bitten, and unconscious elf. She is roused with healing spells. She introduces herself as Ritriel. She and Ewen Silverflame, her Paladin companion, and Thilis, their guide from the village, entered this underground lair in search of the children but were set upon by many vampire spawn. She does not know where Thilis or Ewen are. She has been held in this cell, beaten and fed upon, tortured for sport. Tansy gives her some of her own clothing and the group begins to search for a way out.

They scout through doors and into halls. They find coffins set into some walls. They are forced to walk single file and are set upon by vampire spawn it seems at every turn. Tansy gets separated from the group and enters a lit room. It appears to be a library, a dead body is on the floor, a small girl curled between its legs. A ghostly form kneels over the body holding aloft a holy symbol of Glo’ir over the small girl. Light is emanating from under the prone body. As Tansy turns over the body, she sees a glowing holy symbol around its neck. She takes the holy symbol of Glo’ir off the body, upon doing so, the ghostly figure stares deep into her eyes, then glances down at the girl, then stares hard at Tansy again, then looks upward and rises through the ceiling, vanishing. (Tansy believes the ghost has given her charge over the small girl)

Taking up the girl and the holy symbol, Tansy returns to the group. It is revealed to Tansy that the holy symbol holds some power as a magical artifact. She learns the girl is Tamisin, the final missing child. Ritriel identifies the body as that of Ewen Silverflame, her Paladin companion. The group decides they must find the way out, get the children to safety, then return to vanquish all the vampire spawn, which is proving difficult as they assume a gaseous form when defeated, only to return later.

Tansy, Belamdil, Reeve, and Kealani take up the search for an exit as the rest secure themselves in the cell room. Spawn are fought and gassed along the way, but a door and stairs leading out through the floor of a tomb are found. The party reunites and begins a run for the door, but are set upon at every corner and from behind by vampire spawn. Kealani is taken to the floor and fed upon, Belamdil is fed upon, Praxith is dragged away and nearly taken except for quick action by Blane. The party becomes divide with spawn on all sides and in between the two groups. Tansy uses the holy symbol to attempt to turn the vampires away, but only one flees. When Belamdil regains his footing, fatigued from the blood loss but determined as ever to get his group out, casts Disrupting Weapon and wades in to the fray. He utterly destroys five different vampire spawn before his spell ends. The party makes it up the stairs, out of the tomb, and into the daylight. They return to the village.

That night, they gather the entire village into the two largest building in town, the “Chubby Possum” and a warehouse. The party divides into these two buildings and organize the villagers into watches for fear of vampire attack. But the night passes without incident.

On the morning of February 1st, Belamdil heals people and restores some lost Constitution from the vampire feeding for he and Kealani.

The party returns to the lair hunts down vampire spawn. They manage to destroy 5 more during the day, but have to return to the village before nightfall.

On February 2nd, the final vampire spawn is found and slain. Through the next day, the party loots the lair gathering everything back at the village.

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The Road to Balkenport
...a distraction?

owl.jpeg Before leaving the Hamlet of Ebon Stone, Belamdil had a dream…

Belamdil, “You come upon a tree. Sitting in a nest in the tree is a large owl eating baby sparrows. Three adult sparrows lay dead on the ground under the tree.”

While on the road traveling, Belamdil shared his dream with his companions. With his interpretation and input from his friends, Belamdil concluded that the sparrows represented the Orwain family, relatives of Sir Arduin Orwain, because of the message in the tomb that referenced leaving a key to “Darkheart’s Black Spire of Sorrows” in the “sparrow’s nest.” It is assumed that the nest refers to Sir Arduin’s home. The owl is the sigil of and may represent the deity, Nok’rosh, god of the veil. His followers are devoted to seeking knowledge to horde for themselves to gain profit and power. No other insight was gleaned from the dream at this time.

After reaching Mortham Tower, the party secured lodging and hit the market that evening. In an effort to maximize time since it was approaching nightfall, the party divided. Reeve, Tansy, and Ethrias took the evil artifacts to a local shrine of Glo’ir where they met Tavion Shieldreaver, the Paladin keeper of the shrine. Stories were exchanged and the artifacts left in his care.

Meanwhile, Belamdil and the rest began selling the gear taken from the Anti-Paladin and her crew. After selling the horses, Blane was shouldered by an armored man walking by. The man then accused Blane of being a moron that should watch where he was going. Belamdil and Liathis both saw the man purposefully walk into Blane. Praxith attempted to intervene and cool tempers. The armored man told Blane to get his whore under control and apologize or he would be taught a lesson. Before Blane could respond, the man pulled his sword and issued a challenge by the count of three. A crowd then formed a circle around the two men.

While the crowd was forming, Belamdil was pushed out of the forming circle, away from his friends. Belamdil yelled to alert his companions. Although Blane heard Belamdil’s alarm, he was also aware that the armored man was about to strike. Blane pushed Praxith from between them and the armored man delivered a massive strike on Blane, this was going to be lethal.

Liathis was unable to push through the crowd to reach Belamdil, so she began throwing magic missiles to assist Blane while Praxith delivered healings to Blane. The armored man struck down Praxith in one blow before turning his attentions back to Blane.

Belamdil then felt a hand on his shoulder and a blade in his back. A man’s voice whispered in his ear to “remain calm and quiet.” Then, a portion of the crowd encircled Belamdil and his assailant. They moved Belamdil away from the street and into an alley.

Remaining behind Belamdil, the man said “Listen priest, you need to stop following me. This is my find. Leave it alone. This is your only warning. Next time will be lethal.” Then the cloaked man fled down the alley. Once he was out of sight, the thugs encircling Belamdil simply backed away and melded into the streets. Belamdil then returned to the crowd around the fight.

Belamdil was able to push his way back in to the circle and assist in the fight. At one point the armored man had dropped all except Belamdil and he was about to strike. Belamdil then channeled energy and all his companions rose back to the fight. Blane finally struck the armored man down after a long and mostly one-sided battle. Liathis then screamed obscenities at the fallen man and kicked him in the crotch while he was down. This drew a mostly negative reaction from the crowd. The companions quickly vacated the area as voices where heard among the crowd requesting the city watch.

When they returned to their inn to meet with Reeve and Tansy, men were already inside telling the story of the fight in the street. They also easily identified Belamdil, Blane, and Liathis as the folks who “beat the man and then kicked him while he was down.” The party decided to take their meeting upstairs and away from the common area.

They discussed the encounter, an obvious set up, but by who and why? Who was the cloaked man and what was his “find”? Which of their many quests was crossing this man’s path? The only clear message was the dream indicating that the Orwain family was in trouble. The group believed Sir Arduin was from Thiama, but without some research, they have no idea where in Thiama.

The next day, the group sailed across the lake, then traveled another three days to Balkenport. They arrived on January 23rd, sought out a shrine to Glo’ir and met Terresa Frostband who directed them to get rooms at “The Regal Gardens” Inn near the university. She will then take them to the university in hopes of finding a sage to assist with Black Pearls.

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Ebon Stone
Village held hostage?

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While traveling the road to Mortham Tower on the lake, the group spies smoke rising in the distance. They discover a hamlet with a burning storage building. Mr. Brooks, the town spokesman assures the PCs everything is fine. After attempting to inquire more about the circumstances of the burning building, the hamlet’s constable, at direction from a mysterious cloaked figure, orders the PCs to move on, “You have disrupted the hamlet long enough!”

Suspicious, the PCs leave by the road, then circle around behind the hamlet. Tansy uses stealth to approach a barn and discovers villagers, mostly children, being held hostage. With some scrying, Belamdil is able to see Mr. Brooks being threatened by an armored woman with a wolf on her shield. Reeve recognizes the wold sigil described as that of T’lath, a despicable deity and direct enemy to Glo’ir. He determines the woman must be and Anti-Paladin.

A plan is thrown together and the group attempts to sneak up on the barn as Reeve hovers overhead on Kealani. The main group is spotted and 5 orcs rush out to meet them. Reeve, initially wishing to help his friends is redirected by Kealani to the barn and to face the Anti-Paladin.

Reeve encounters the cloaked figure, a half-orc spell caster and the Anti-Paladin. The battle is fierce and deadly, but Reeve triumphs over the Anti-Paladin and skewers her unconscious form on the ground. Kealani is satisfied with this.

The cloaked half-orc is bound and unconscious. Two orcs are allowed to leave by Tansy and Belamdil as Tansy finishes off two of their fallen comrades. The hostages are reunited with their families and all thank the group for the rescue, but stay clear of Kealani as he has retained his bipedal form and is somewhat intimidating to the villagers.

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End of an Epoch
Catching Up ...

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Transition 28 – The party entered the tomb of Sir Arduin Orwain in the ruined village of Strathmore in the Nemora Wald. The tomb had already been unsealed and entered. Evidence found included an open sarcophagus, a busted statue with the wall behind knocked in exposing a hidden tunnel, and a dead halfling. As the group began to search the small tomb, they were attacked by Wraith Wolves. During the battle, Tansy was slain, but Reeve prayed for Glo’ir to intervene.

As Tansy walked down a dark city alley, heading toward a door with light emanating around its edges, a golden hawk dropped from the sky, clutched her, and carried her into the air. Her next memory was waking on the ground in the tomb, listening to Reeve’s prayers of gratitude.

The party finished scouting the tomb, they found skeletal remains, formerly chained in front of a large stone, but carelessly thrown to the side. Charcoal and parchment were found at the site as if someone had made a rubbing of the carvings on the stone. After some time of study, Trevor and Belamdil were able to decipher the writings and discovered that part of them were a map, but with no frame of reference, they were unable to determine where.

I have hidden this map to Darkheart’s lair in the tomb of my master and friend, Sir Arduin Orwain. He ordered me to destroy the map and Torband’s key, but I couldn’t, knowledge is too valuable a tool to be destroyed, and yet, dangerous in the hands of one like Darkheart. So I have hidden the key in the Sparrow’s nest and the map within these patterns in hopes that Faeramriel will guide someone worthy to find them and bring to light whatever knowledge may be hidden in Darkheart’s “Black Spire of Sorrows”. I myself am too afraid to even attempt to enter his lair; I leave it to you, whom ever may be reading this message, and pray that you will not misuse whatever you may find. Faeramriel guide and bless you in your search for those secrets.

Along with the rubbings, the party did find a black, adamantine ring, with an inscription in the band written in Thiamish, “For my one and only love.” This is assumed to be the anti-magic ring they came for. The party quickly returned to Rumex to await the return of “The Greymoon”.

RUMEX

While waiting in Rumex, the group decided to clean up and rest. During her spa day, Tansy discovered that she had acquired a new tattoo. Upon her back are outlined hawk wings in a golden ink that seems to glow. When she finally revealed her new tattoo to Belamdil and Reeve, Reeve became excited and informed Tansy that she has been blessed and chosen by Glo’ir. Belamdil, slightly more reserved about the discovery, suspects that “used” may be the more apt term than “chosen”. Reeve has begun educating Tansy about Glo’ir in an effort to convert her to his religion. Tansy is listening, but still scared and confused by the discovery.

At the temple of Mytris, the group is disappointed to find that the temple has no solution for the black pearls and removal of the trapped souls. Vicar Victoria suggests seeking the lost library of Ulikras “the Harvester”. An infamous necromancer rumored to have extensive research in all things necromantic. Perhaps his notes may reveal a solution. He was rumored to live around Balkenport. Tansy feels compelled to accept this quest and the pearls are returned to the group. However, the temple of Mytris did confiscate the Black Axe from Reeve siting it would be better kept under guard than wandering with him. Reluctantly, Reeve agrees.

Reeve also receives a message from Alcinous Grivas. This name is unknown, but Reeve agrees to meet with him. Turns out, Alcinous represents a small group of men who seek to join Reeve in his quests. They all had friends and family at Chalex Tower and were told by Greathelm how Reeve defeated the demon and freed all the residents from torturous unlife. They pledged themselves to his cause that night.

January 3rd, the group decided to send Trevor and Reeve’s new found followers into Arda disguised as a spice merchant. Trevor is supposed to gather any intelligence on the situation and on a way to gain audience with the king so they can deliver the ring in hopes of dispelling whatever hold the Baroness has over him.

January 8th, “the Greymoon” arrives in port. Repairs are finished and tales are told. January 10th, they set sail for Drobetta to deliver a package. Grieving Persius, Tansy orders they ship out without cargo. Much is discussed about the future of “The Greymoon” during the voyage. And although the decision is clear, Tansy is reluctant to make it, and so the discussion is tabled.

In Drobetta, all sorts of things go wrong. The package turned out to be a magical assassination attempt and Blane was held as the guilty party for a short while. The group found the guilty party and presented evidence satisfactory to the Constable. Then, Lysandra was kidnapped out of a tavern and had to be rescued off a fleeing ship. It was a deadly battle for the group, Reeve came very near death, but ultimately, the group prevailed. And finally, Tansy had to face the truth, she could no longer Captain a ship she was never on. Tansy sadly relinquished “The Greymoon” to Persius with the understanding that he would use it to smuggle for the rebellion against the Baroness. Persius assured her he would, cut the current crew loose, and began recruiting sailors more suited to his new course. A few of the old crew joined the group in their land journey across Thiama to reach Balkenport.

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The Nemora Wold
To lift a curse?

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On December 7th, “The Greymoon” set sail with cargo for Dorminia. A few hours out from the port of Rumex, the PCs and party were dropped off on the coast a the southern most edge of the Nemora Wold. “The Greymoon” sailed on.

With no real direction, the group heads for the center. Along the way, the feeling of the forest closing in on them becomes very apparent. A times, foliage and limbs seem to fall directly at them. The party is ambushed by goblins, attacked by dire wolves, giant spiders, and encountered a strange animated tree that allowed them to pass on since their goal was to lift the curse on the forest.

During their travels through the forest, Typhon was slain during a dire wolf attack. His companion, Ajax, seemed un-phased by Typhon’s passing and insisted that the group press forward. Rydan collected Typhon’s backpack, but his weapons and armor were left behind.

The party found some ruined structures and began investigating. Tansy stirred up a wasp nest and became their target. She was chased to a river, followed by Reeve, Rydan, Belamdil, and Trevor. Once she was in the water, the wasps changed targets and began attacking anyone within sight. During the chaos, Rydan was surprised by a giant crayfish that dragged him back into the water. Reeve dove in to search for Rydan while Belamdil dove in to escape the wasp attacks. The crayfish attacked Reeve and they exchanged blows. The crayfish gave up after taking a couple of massive hits from Reeve and swam away.

After emerging, the party learned that Reeve had no luck and the Trevor had been attacked by the wasps. Belamdil was able to revive Trevor, but, even after finding the crayfish’s probable lair, no sign of Rydan was evident. The party decided they may have better luck if they lifted the curse on the forest and tracked back to the ruins. Ajax was not waiting when they returned.

The party found a central wall and gate, managed to climb the gate, and entered a central grove containing a giant oak tree surrounded by a high, thick wall of thorns. Ajax was found inside the wall and rejoined the group. Four structures were found at compass points around the tree, but no clue as how to enter through the thorns.

The party decides to search Typhon’s body for a clue past the thorn wall. After tracking back through the woods, the group finds a wand tucked into Typhon’s belt. Upon returning to the ruins, Belamdil is able to use the wand to open an archway through the thorn wall.

Upon entering the presence of the Great Oak, the presence of evil is palpable. A large black axe can be seen buried into the trunk of the tree, a sound sizzling sound can be heard as a small stream of smoke rises from the entry point. Dark, black ichor oozes from the wound in the tree’s trunk.

Immediately, Ajax moves and wrenches the axe free from the tree. Reeve advances calling for Ajax to release the axe. With a look of glee, Ajax swings on Reeve, and the battle begins. Calling upon the power of Glo’ir, Reeve attempts to “smite” Ajax. But Reeve quickly learns the evil nature of the axe as he is wounded several times.

After Tansy moves to flank and with spell support from Belamdil, Reeve finally dispatches Ajax, narrowly avoiding death himself. The axe is recognized by both Reeve and Belamdil as the axe from Reeve’s vision. The evil nature of the axe causes Reeve pain when he attempts to retrieve it. The party wraps it in blankets, but the axe blade eats through with acid. Reeve is careful to carry it by the wrapped handle.

Tansy, hoping that the curse is now lifted, leads the group back to Crayfish den. They do dive and find a sunken alcove and the body of Rydan, long dead. His body is retrieved and buried on the beach. The party then begins a solemn journey out of the Wold toward the coast, evil axe in hand.

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Time Passes
I fell behind on log posts.

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The party has saved the young Corban Siderian!

Belamdil used his priestly magic to cure the poison killing the boy. However, the would-be assassin escaped. Tansy had Persius put a bounty on her, but nothing has turned up yet. The assassin stole the letter from Magister Siderian, so young Corban refused to join the PCs, he was having trust issues at the time. But he did release Cristian Radford to Belamdil. The PCs sent a letter explaining the situation to Magister Siderian. He was none to impressed.

The party survived Chalex Tower!

The tower was found abandoned, the occupants slaughtered and rising as zombies. Reeve had visions of quests to come. He delegated one to the party’s new companion, Garin Greathelm, a paladin of Glo’ir. He will undertake the rescue of captives taken into the Drow realms under the mountain. The PCs returned to Rumex turned over the “evil artifacts” taken off Matxal (the outsider) to the church of Mytris. The church has promised to see to the reoccupation of Chalex Tower.

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Port of Dorminia
Safe Harbor?

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Upon arrival to Dorminia, Persius and his men went ahead to secure safe docking for the former pirate ship. However, due to not fully trusting Persius, Captain Tansy sent Blane along to keep an eye on him. Blane’s upstanding nature got the better of him and he was unable to ignore the things happening in the unscrupulous surroundings of the meeting Persius arranged. The deputy harbor master was insulted and required a larger bribe than normal to let the ship enter port unsearched for pirates.

As the group approached the city gates, a man inserted himself among them. Before inquiries could be made, the group was surrounded by a gang of thugs demanding that Atrino come with them. The man, Alex Atrino, told them to be gone, he was with friends. A fight then commenced. The group defeated the gang, but was assured that their boss would hear about this. Alex thanked the group and left, but did pay their gate entry fees.

Captain Tansy delivers Ulpius to his mother. The meeting was cold and conducted quickly, paying a reward of 5pp and escorted the party out.

The group then met with Magister Siderian only to learn the Cristian Radford was taken to by his son on a gladiator tour. The guards are released to them as promised. Belamdil interprets the Magister’s nightmares as a warning of his sons impending doom. The Magister writes a letter to his son and insists that Belamdil and his friends find his son, save him, and escort him home. Cristian will be released to them with delivery of the letter. Belamdil agrees and the Magister states that he will owe him. Tarsius escorts the group back to their ship to see them off.

Once they return to the ship, Captain Tansy learns of three sailors who have bailed and a rescue mission in progress for Liathas. She can’t leave until crew returns and she recruits new sailors, they are just too short handed. Tarsius seems quite perturbed and leaves to report this delay in the rescue of his son.

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At Sea
Captain Tansy?

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On November 13th, at 4 am, the party has sailed out of the port of “Crag-Haven” on the stolen ship, “The Pillager”. After sailing aimlessly for several hours, a mob of 9 crowds around Tansy and Belamdil to ask what the plans are now. Tansy informs them that they are going to head for “Dorminia” in Reglosia. Many of the small group are opposed to this idea.

After the brief meeting, an inventory of the ship is conducted by Belamdil. Tansy and Chief Cob consult maps in the captain’s cabin. There, the chief asks Tansy what her intentions are as far as leadership on this boat. Tansy decides to declare herself captain.

A public forum is called at which Tansy asserts herself as captain and takes a vote on their destination of Reglosia. The decision is for Reglosia by almost 2/3. Belamdil successfully smooths things over with the dissenters. At this point, there is no imminent threat of mutiny. But a handful of former slaves and former pirates are not excited about their destination. The chief navigates a course, poorly, and Tansy successfully pilots the ship to get them on their way.

That night, a derelict ship drifts up on “The Pillager”. Tansy is awoken by the night watch. She sends one for Belamdil in the hold, who, along with Belamdil, brings the rest of the crew to see the “ghost ship”. After rounding up volunteers, Tansy leads a boarding party. They are quickly set upon by ghouls. The fight begins to go poorly for the party, but Belamdil unleashes the energy of Faramriel, and the ghouls drop. The fight is over, but the loss of one crewman weighs heavily upon the rest and murmurs among the crew circulate questioning the fitness of Captain Tansy to lead.

The next day the Captain orders rest after the long night. During this time, Reeve comes forward to the Captain with the Chief and reveals himself as a Paladin from Antares and his encounter with the former Baroness’s armies and tactics. He also pledges himself to the cause of rescuing their friends from slavery. Reeve also spends the day speaking to the crew on the Captain’s behalf, attempting to smooth over the grumblings after the death of Apius. Typhon, another crew member rescued from the Pits, pledges his support to Belamdil in the cause of rescuing friends. Reeve encourages caution when dealing with Typhon, he remembers him from the Pits as angry and out of control.

The following day, a drifting tender with 4 men is spotted and rescued. Persius, a smuggler until recent events removed him from his ship, introduces two of his fellow crew and one Ulpius Flaco, a nobleman from Reglosia. Ulpius assures Captain Tansy that if he is safely returned to Reglosia, his mother will give her whatever reward is asked. Although the circumstances are sad, Persius and his men are a needed addition to the Pillager’s crew as they have been functioning below the minimum required compliment of sailors. They seem to fit in easily with the existing crew.

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