Ilderan Tales

The Importance Of Freeing Earnest

Volunteering for the first watch, Spooks sits against the low flame, allowing his Orcish eyes to adjust to the darkness. The winds are too calm, the stars are not in their right place, and save for the low, feline growl that suddenly eminates out of the darkness behind him, not a single animal can be heard.

In mid turn, and before he can sound an alarm, a monstrous, padded tendril whips out of the night sky and smashes Spooks in the face, sending him toppling back over his post and into the dirt. Following close behind emerges a dire creature – an eight foot long feline with ice blue eyes and a second tendril curling and shifting from its shoulder. The distinctive flicker of the foe in and out of sight, padding slightly in almost every direction at once confirms the worst – a displacer beast.

Scrambling from the ground, Spooks lets loose a blast of cold breath that hits the beast, causing it to slow just enough for him to step out of range of the flailing tendrils that miss him by mere inches.

Winnifred, closest to the battle, awakens and immediately lunges at the giant cat, only to be caught unprepared for its ability to phase in and out of this plane, her axes missing their target. Saena is next to launch an attack, her elemental lightning connecting with the creature and causing it to sizzle and burn, while out from the forest two large wolves menace the displacer beast from behind while Corrin tends to Boba with his healing belt. Boba, now healed, and Elias, now awake, lay into their foe with fist and iron.

The fierce but quick battle rages on in this manner for almost no time at all, but what seems like forever: Winnifred keeps it off balance with her axes and Elias with his longsword, while Saena and Spooks flank using their element might of lightning and flame, the only things seeming to do notable damage to the creature. After taking a few more hits, Spooks steadies himself and unleashes a final cone of fire breath that surrounds the massive cat, and when the smoke clears, nothing is left but charred bones.

The night returned to its eerie calm, hearts and minds beginning to settle, Winnifred takes the second watch while the group attempts more sleep, soon followed by Boba, both scouts reporting nothing of note throughout the night.

The next morning the heroes break camp and again head off towards the ruins. They do everything they can to quicken their pace, hoping to arrive by nightfall and beat the slavers from completing their evil purpose. By the time they lose the light and are forced to make camp, they are a mile out from the ruins, which glow dimly in the distance.

Saena sets herself for first watch, the group now more alert to the beasts and monsters so close to the ruins. Luckily, nothing eventful happens in the first few hours of the night, and soon Saena is relieved by Winnifred. After some time, her eyes adjusting to the odd darkness, Winnifred can make out a shape in the distance. She wakes Spooks, who has excellent night vision, and he informs her that it seems to be a cart and donkey, but the form is being greatly distorted by the odd magical resonance of the plains. They opt to sneak in for a closer look, and confirm that the figure is indeed a man with a cart and donkey, and they appear to be stuck in the mud. Spooks tells Winnifred that while there is some faint magic coming off the stranger, the cart is afire with hidden magic. Soon, they make their way back to the camp and alert the others.

After some discussion, Elias leads the group cautiously back to the old man. Corrin casts invisibility on himself and scouts ahead, returning with the knowledge that the entire cart is full of oddly shaped and coloured flowers. Saena and Elias both realize that the flowers are a local oddity, a medieval form of natural balloon, and upon conversing with the traveller (whose name is Earnest), the heroes help him and his cart out of the mud and leave him to his own stubborn, magic-grass eating mule.

Feeling that they should not delay any longer, and now weary of patrols thanks to Earnest’s cautionary tales of his once competition Piotr, the adventurers set out to the ruins before dawn. From even one hundred feet out, the old stones are lit up in the night sky: old stones hover and glow, warding spells dance across their faces, and the campfires of a mostly Orcish mercenary force guard the outer most perimeter, blocking their path to the open gates below.

Fearing that the slaves are already inside, the group inches closer to a ridge just beyond view and hatches a plan to gain access to the quarry…

Run For The Ruins

Their clandestine mission from Malia set, the brave adventurers choose to fortify themselves with dinner, and remain at the Red Owl Inn until they can sneak out into the night more unnoticed. Spooks offers to identify Corrin’s newly acquired magical items as general magical tools – a healing belt and Archanists’ Gloves. Under the din of the various travellers, story tellers and musicians, Elias informs the group of his special mission for Sir Bart, and offers any who choose to help a share of the glory.

As they consider Elias’ offer, the hour has arrived to head to Toad House. However, due to the upcoming festival, the streets are not as deserted as they had hoped: the streets are bustling with people preparing their shops and city watch patrolling. Working their way through the crowds, the group cannot help but hear the rumors circulating about the fire that started on the other side of town. Townsfolk attribute it to everything from a dragon to Scything Crag to a fire-breathing cat…

Working their way through back alleys they quietly arrive at Toad House around midnight. Toad House is an alchemy shop just off the central square of the market place, hidden just out of sight from the standard merchants. The House reveals itself to be part of an old manor (which has been long torn down), and stands as one of the older buildings of Malkara. For those that take the time to look, it’s patched roof and odd shape draw the eye to the windows (those few in the city paned with glass) and the lanky, long bearded alchemist puttering around within.

Elias, Bobba and Corrin decide to go in first, while the others stand watch outside. For those who thought the exterior odd, the interior draws wonders: a tiny, crowded room home to a variety of experimental alchemaic equipment, a skeletal cockatiel, dusty books, and notably a jar filled entirely with blue eyes, each that seem to follow the onlooker. Hardly looking up from his mortar and pestle, the shop owner directs the group through the back of the shop, up a rickety ladder (once the grand stairwell of the manor) and through a thick, wooden door where they are greeted by Malia in an oddly contrasting simple bedroom. On her request, Elias sends for the rest of the group, and the meeting soon begins.

By dim candle light, Malia tell the group that she appreciates the work they have been doing to rid Malkara of slavery. While she typically is work-for-hire, she has a keen interest in seeing this come to an end in the region. To this point, she has been gathering intelligence on local slave trades and routes, and has found that certain shipments heading from the south to the Crag have been going missing, and that her sources have confirmed that the next large shipment is due to head to the Catala Ruins, home of the ancient Ica Ostai Tower, where their bodies and souls will be used in some sort of ritual meant to open a mystical gate buried deep in the bowels of the earth.

Malia also reports that rumors are circulating that may or may not be related to this that in the Axeveil region, a party of adventures met, battled and defeated a small hoard of skeletons and zombies, indicating that someone has been practicing the forbidden art of necromancy. With this knowledge in mind, the group resolves to ambush the slavers at the Ruins after they make landfall at the Bay of Stone. We arrange passage on a boat that will take us to the Ruins directly, and lay in wait. To aide us in our mission, Malia gives us six pearls to purchase supplies with, and we take our leave.

Still into the wee hours of the morning, Saena and Elias opt to gather whatever information they can from the locals about the region the group will be heading to. Most of the info is relative to the trip, news about local politics, rumors of battles along the way, and ultimately that the road leading to the Ruiuns along the Elfendar Forest is relatively clear. By 4am, Saena and Elias are laying by the hearth of the Rampant Hero.

Meanwhile, at Bobba’s request, he, Winnifred and Spooks head to the temple to prepare and search for information of their own. Unbeknownst to the others, Bobba’s plan to do this was to sneak into the Lady Marella’s chambers, wake her, and ask for advice on the upcoming adventure. The following conversation, comprised mostly of unrequited advances, hushed laughter from the hallway and less that controlled yelling gains little for Bobba, who retires with the others to sleep before they embark.

As soon as the sun settles in the sky and the shops open, Corrin (who had purchased rooms for the travellers at the inn) heads down to the market to purchase supplies. Satisfied, he finds Elias and Saena asleep by the fire, and offers them their beds for a few hours while the others gather. Corrin pushes directly to the temple to collect the others and while Bobba stayed behind for morning prayers they meander only slightly long enough to give the remaining party enough time to rest their eyes before they head to the boat. The party notes that through the night Shayama has disappeared, but knowing her habit of this and her many dealings in Malkara, they are sure they will meet her again.

The boat that awaits them is small, but the entire party manages to fit aboard along side the “captain” Mikaus and his first mate, and large, scarred ogre named Umalog. Soon, supplied up and course set, the Stealer of Dreams sets off. The river runs long and they pass many trading villages set up along the large trade routes, who mostly get supplies ready to ship to the Edamos Keep and local lumber merchants. It takes them a sold half day to make it to the mouth of Gemrik’s Breath. Their journey is thankfully uneventful, and between short naps Saena helps Umalog with the sails while Mikaus works the rudder. The one exception to the monotony of the journey is the appearance of a white, fully-saddled war horse swimming its way to the opposing shore. Not to how to take the omen, the group decides to press on.

Into the following evening, we spot a faint corona over the next horizon, which Mikaus identifies as the Tower, and that it is time to make land. Stopping briefly at an old dock, we have enough time to gather our supplies before the ship is already on course back down the river. Taking shelter under the crest of a hill just beyond the Tower, we decide to make camp. Spooks takes the first watch, Winnifred the second and Bobba the last.

Setting himself up next to only the minimal fire, Spooks cannot help but notice that everything about this area seems just a little off: the stars do not seem in their natural place in the sky, the ground does not feel right under his feet, and even the grass seems to grow differently than it does away from the Ruins. Just as he notices that there is not even the familiar sound of evening insects, Spooks catch a flicker of something from the corner of his eye. He turns quickly to peer into the darkness, when his ears perk with the sound of a low growl drawing dangerously close…

Barging In

Written in Ink

After discussing the options before them, our brave adventurers decide to first drop of the package, containing a book, to Kabu in Theringrad and then head for Yllaina’s village. They board a barge heading for Theringrad called the Crown of Flame, a rather run down looking boat piloted by Captain Crosar. In addition to the plentiful cargo aboard, there are two other passengers, Sir Leon of the Dawn Star Templars and Zaphira, an ambassador from a cabal of mages who wish to join the Theringrad Spellbinders Ring.

Along the way, we find out that Sir Leon, wearing non-regulation armour passed down from his grandfather, has been tasked with looking after the roads and waterways, patrolling them and keeping them safe for travellers. Although he has been a knight for only a couple of weeks (since the Templar orders were founded) he has experience in fighting, having taken part in the war where he was badly scarred by a Crag beast. Our heroes tried to recruit him to aid in investigating Yllaina’s village but he must first consult with his superiors in Theringrad.

Zaphira is a force mage who, along with her fellow cabal mages, was a mercenary in the Samarese City States. It has been a bit too peaceful there lately so they decided to come to Temir to join the TSR, who are always looking for skilled magical mercenaries. Her arm is covered in tatoos representing “fair kills”, those she has killed that had a chance to kill her. There are dozens of these marks.

While crossing the scarred plain, the barge is stopped by a chain across the river. As Captain Crosar brings the boat to a halt, thirteen hobgoblins can be seen on the banks, brandishing bows and spears. Their leader demands the Crosar hand over half his cargo plus one of the passengers since they are all feeling a pit peckish. Crosar, choosing discretion over valour, hides in his cabin, bolting the door shut.

After a brief conference, Jarven leaps over the side of the ship, attacking the leader head on and followed closely by Dreg who smashes through the railing. The rest remain aboard, shielding Yllaina and taking care of the archers on the other bank. Jarven quickly cuts down the leader and along with Dreg, smashes all but one of the hobgoblins on their side, while Zaphira and Saebald launch volleys of Magic Missiles which cut down all the archers on the other bank.

The last remaining hobgoblin, Shu Ling (Resplendant Goldfish), wisely surrenders. He explains that they were Commona Tong bandits who were left there to rob ships that come along the river. Their partners are coming to pick them back up in a couple of days, heading back towards Satu Mare from Theringrad. They have not had any luck yet, aside from a priest they killed who was heading to Athtia to perform a wedding. They have his effects (cloth of gold vestments, silver chalice with lapis lazuli, and velvet mask with citrines) which the group takes with them. They decide to strap the hobgoblin to the prow of the ship as an early warning beacon/punishment and Zaphira adds six more brands to her arm.

After the fight, Yllaina seems petrified so Nick tries to comfort her and see what is wrong. It turns out that she was lying about the magical ruins near her village and about her grandfather’s sword. Neither of them exist. She was just desperate to get help and it seemed like the others would not have agreed to investigate without some sort of reward. Nick advises her to keep quiet about this and that he’ll try to smooth it over with the others later. Nick also learns more about Yllaina and her village. She is a middle child, with three older sisters (two married in the village and one left) and four younger brothers. Her village was mostly involved in logging and herbing along with some farming to sustain themselves.

Shu Ling is eaten during the night by something in the river, his lower half is mostly not there. They untie his remains and let them fall into the river. Aside from that, the rest of the journey is uneventful and our heroes arrive in Theringrad, ready to finish the first step of their quest.

Pirates, Punches and Parchments

Having concluded their business with the warrior woman Ruby, our weary heroes venture back out into the streets to return the news to Geoffrey, and as usual find his young boy Robert outside the Rampant Hero. After discussing their successes, they make plans to meet his father later that day, who returns that they should all meet at Hunter’s Hall later the following day. Elias, a born Ranger, insists he takes them to the hall right away to not only show them the location (should they become separated) but to exalt to them the pride of his brotherhood.

The once glorious hall, where Rangers met in secret to carry out peace and order in the realm, is these days not much more than a closed bar and run down museum, a fact which Elias is not proud. Expecting to find no patrons inside, the group is surprised to come across David Trelawne, captain of the recently docked Majestic Eagle. All flourish and bravado, Trelawne explains that he is in Malkara for two reasons – the upcoming festival and to have a regular meeting with the head of the Rilador, who have been settling in for the winter. He bears no new news of Tacros since the gates have been closed, and along with his manservant Smith soon takes his leave.

Wishing to return the sword Aria to its rightful home, Elias seeks out the attendant of Hunter’s Hall to present him with the treasure. Behind a modest desk, half dozing they find Boldo, who informs them that he does not handle general acquisitions. Elias, aghast that he does not know the legend of Aria, insists, but this only causes Boldo to become indignant to his plight and causes Elias to loose is composure and assault him. In an attempt to avoid too much of a scene, Spooks (in his new form) knocks out Boldo with a single punch, but Elias leaves him some gold for his troubles.

They regoup outside the hall and notice that Corrin has disappeared into the crowd, intent on telling our contacts when our next planned meeting was. After a quick search, they catch up to him but realize they need to accomplish some tasks beforehand. With this, Spooks and Bobba return to the Temple of Serik to look through their looted papers, which reveal some information about Eric’s grandfather Atherd, some love letters, and some personal correspondence, but not much more.

That evening, our heroes convene at the Inn of the Red Owl for their meeting with Malia. Despite their hardships, unintentionally compounded by the group’s efforts to help, Mikhail and Irena seem to be doing steady business that night. Drinks are ordered and a table is found off in a corner, and soon Malia arrives. It is accepted that, for the most part, the mess we caused has been cleaned up, so further business can happen. With that, she leaves a scrap of parchment on the table with the message: “Come to the Toad House at midnight”.

Lightning Round!
Written in Ink

How Nick knows Nyla:
They met in a fight against bandits. Nyla attacked Nick, thinking that he was a bandit. They then fought bandits together, defending Big Tom the merchant. (Brother of Big Chuck.) Nyla got injured, and Nick patched her up. They escorted Big Tom to Malkara, with Nyla joining them as a guide. Since the bandits took some of their supplies, they ran out of food. Nyla went hunting for some food, as she is an expert woodsperson, and encountered the Pigeon King, who attacked them for murdering so many of his people. (The Pigeon King is an 8-foot pigeon with half of his face missing.)

How Jarvan Knows Dreg:
Dreg’s boss sent him up to Taer Sulei with a band of mercenaries. Jarvan and Dreg became drinking buddies, becoming friends over many stories. Jarvan got a tattoo of a rhino on his ass. They both hated an asshole mercenary who was kind of a jerk, and didn’t obey the rules and ranks of Taer Sulei. Jarvan’s patience ran out, and he killed the mercenary for insubordination. Dreg saw it happen, but no one else knows about it.

How Nyla knows Jarvan:
Nyla tried to steal maps from Jarvan’s camp in Taer Sulei. Jarvan then tried to chase her down, but she crossed a lake and sunk his boat when he tried to pursue, and then captured Jarvan. They agreed eventually that they were fighting for a common cause. They went together and took out Scything Crag’s supply line. During that adventure, they came into some dire circumstances where their lives depended on Nyla trusting Jarvan. She was disinclined to do so, but her hummingbird landed on his shoulder – something that it never does – and she took it as a sign that she should trust him.

How Nick knows Dreg:
Dreg’s employer travelled to Makara to do a drug deal with Nick’s employer. This upset the Tanril Agezar quite a bit, as it meant that someone was boning in on their drug-dealing territory. They showed up and murdered Dreg’s Rilador boss. Dreg then hulked out and murdered all of the goblins brutally. Nick, having witnessed all of this, later found Dreg a new job with Big Tom. Dreg eventually travels with Big Tom back to Makara. Nick at this point needed desperately to leave the city, and Dreg and Big Tom smuggled him away.

At a bar in Satu Mare, Nyla and Jarvan intend to plan a caper of some kind. Jarvan gets hammered and they plan nothing useful. Big Tom shows up with Dreg, and Jarvan and Dreg get pissed together, like old drinking buddies should. Nyla and Dreg also bond over stories and tattoos. Nick shows up collecting alms, and recognizes Dreg and Nyla, and joins them. As they all leave the bar, 3 goblins of the Tanril Agezar attack them. One tries to climb Nick to get at Dreg. Nick lasers it in the crotch with his eye lasers, Nyla shoots an arrow into his throat, and Dreg knocks his head off like a croquet ball and Jarvan very conspicuously does nothing. The other goblins decide it would be prudent to flee.

MUCH LATER (in actual gameplay)
The four decide to hunt down the Pigeon King, as it is murdering innocent people. They travel up the river to the [closed] forest to hunt him down. Sunce they do not place the required amount of grain at the Pigeon King’s Black Altar, the Pigeon King begins to hunt them. They encounter the Theringrad Spellbinders’ Ring [TSR] who are trying to trap the Pigeon King for science. Nick’s feelings are that as long as he is off the road, all is well. Thus they team up with the TSR to find the Pigeon. The three TSR people are noobs, so they don’t find it, but it eventually descends upon the group. The Pigeon King immediately kills David (of the TSR) and the veteran caster amongst them immediately vanishes as combat begins. Nyla shoots the Pigeon king in his good eye, blinding him. Jarvan is pinned by his massive talon, and about to have his face pecked off. Dreg smashes its wing with his hammer, and Jarvan God-of-Wars the hell out of that shit, tearing off its leg and stabbing it in the heart.

They escort Alice, the remaining TSR person, back to Theringrad. She has conversations with David the whole way. They go to Satu Mare to collect the pay for killing the Pigeon King. En route, they are attacked by a giant snake. (Which is totally not an ankheg.) The snake sinks its fangs into Nick’s arm, and he totally misses it with his eye lasers. Nyls shoots it in the neck and it removes its fangs from Nick’s arm, coiling itself up. Nic heals himself and strikes at it with his quarterstaff. His staff whizzes past the snake ineffectually. Jarvan hefts his great sword and lops the snake’s head off. They all go back to sleep.

Curiosity... Well, You Know...
Legends of Majdan

Spooks had an idea, and that’s where the problems began.

After killing the Maylines, Shyama recovered a sword from their apartment which really peaked Spooks’ interest. The apartment wasn’t thoroughly checked through, and there had to be more to this sword. Logically, having been through all he had today, Spooks should have taken a break, gone for a rest, lay low. Sadly, he did not.

Backed up by his friends hiding in the alleyway across the street, and under cover of Corrin’s Invisibility spell, Spooks moved quietly through Mayline’s apartment, towards a desk in the bedroom. Both Erik and his Nana’s bodies lay where they had been left, and outside of the smell of stale blood, everything looked as it had several hours ago. While rifling through some papers in the desk, the doorway fills with the silhouette of a woman, and she’s not looking very happy.

While she isn’t able to see Spooks, she knows he’s there, so he starts grabbing whatever papers he can, throws them in his sack. A ray leaps from her finger, striking him with a sharp cold sensation, forcing him to shift into his cat form and try to make a run for it. He hops up to the window sill, and hops gracefully down into the alleyway, as the mysterious woman rushes over to the window, points a finger at him, and casts a spell. This is a spell he knows all too well – the Draconic spell Nana had used earlier, and poor Spooks begins writhing in agony.

Saena runs up below the window and causes a Sonic Snap beside the woman, diverting her attention away from the cat. She then goes to grab Spooks, but he lets out a column of flame, aimed right at the window. The room very quickly fills with fire. As Saena scoops him into her arms and begins fleeing down the street at top speed with Winifred on her heels, both desperately searching for a temple, Corrin runs up to the stairs leading up to the apartment, and lights the doorway on fire. The entire apartment is now aflame, smoke billowing out the windows.

As Saena gets to the Temple of Gulnoor, the Guardian of Travellers, the cat in her hands shapeshifts back into his Tibbet form, cold to the touch, not breathing. An orc priest rushes over towards the doorway, but it’s too late. Spooks is dead.

Boba and Elias start directing people away from the fire, doing all they can to minimize the number of casualties. They look around for Corrin and Shyama, but the two have disappeared, running as quick as possible in the direction Saena and Winifred had run. Halfway there, Corrin is grabbed by Winifred, her face red with anger, and she demands to know where the woman from the apartment had gone. A moment later, with Winifred taking off down the street, Saena gets to Corrin and demands to know the same thing. She tells him where to find Spooks’ body, and continues on down the street, back towards the apartment.

Corrin and Shyama get to the temple, and upon the sight of Spooks’ body, tears fill their eyes, and the two stand by the entrance in silence, waiting for their friends to arrive.

Nana hadn’t lived in a very luxurious part of town; pretty much all the surroundings building were made of wood. Half an hour after the fire was lit, it had taken several square blocks of the city, leaving a permanent scar on Malkara. Skeletons of buildings could barely be seen through the thick haze of smoke. The clouds began to darken, and out of nowhere, a torrential downpour began. Within minutes the fire is suppressed.

Corrin begins going through Spooks’ belongings, looking for any sign that he had found something worthwhile in Nana’s house. Saena walks in solemnly, reassuring the orc, Brother Alberto, that Corrin is a friend. Within the belongings, Corrin finds a locket and opens it, revealing a Tiefling woman. Saena demands to keep the locket – it’s the woman from Nana’s apartment.

Once their friends show up, Corrin and Saena begin pooling money to get Spooks reincarnated. Brother Alberto sends a runner to fetch a druid, Adros, to perform the ritual. Once he arrives, and the steep price of 1000 gold pieces is paid, Adros begins placing his hands on Spooks’ lifeless body. The candles in the room dim mysteriously, as Spooks begins to glow where the druid touched him, eventually glowing all over. His body is a white light.

The glowing white light elongates, from under 3 feet, stretching and stretching up to almost 7 feet, extending Spooks off both sides of the altar. He solidifies, and his scaly skin is now a greenish-grey, his eyes blood red, and his chest begins to rise, inhaling new air into new lungs. Spooks is alive, and he’s big. The small Tibbet is now a Half-Orc. Rising to his feet, eyes blank, he looks around the room wondering what has happened. Attempting the only thing he can think of in his state of panic, Spooks tries turning into a cat. Unsuccessfully.

At the Rampant Hero, a group of mostly-familiar adventurers walks in. They’re accompanied by a giant, who towers over the rest of the inn’s patrons. After a fine dinner of stewed hare and blue cheese, everyone heads to bed. Everyone except this giant. He’s still trying to get accustomed to everything.

Wandering down to the waterfront, past the ruins of several city blocks, Spooks stares out at the water’s edge. He passes a bit of time fishing, and notices a large warship entering the harbour. The Majestic Eagle, lead ship in a fleet of Pirate Hunters, is unmistakable even in the low lighting.

Day 24

After a thankfully uneventful night, everyone wakes up. Saena and Winifred wake up Corrin and Boba, and the four head off to look for Spooks; Saena by the water, Winifred by the scene of the fire, Boba and Corrin by the market and surrounding inns. Saena finds Spooks, who hasn’t moved spots all night, and starts talking to him about her past, how she is unable to be a pirate anymore. But she’s moved on, she keeps living, and he’ll learn how to as well. She forces him to head back; everyone will be worried about them. Saena notes the Magestic Eagle docked in the harbour. She knows that the Eagle regularly visits the home of the Rilador, Volos.
Over some breakfast, the party decide to go out in search of Brendor at the Knave & Wand, and Ruby at the Shephard’s Cellar, to help Jeffrey out some more.

Brendor is found without a problem. He’s seated, moping in the corner of the inn, the table covered in beer glasses. His giant blue hat, covered in stars and moons, makes him a dead giveaway. Corrin, backed up by Winifred and Saena, approaches to have a word with him. Upon mention of Jeffrey’s name, Brendor gets angry, and a spark appears on his fingertip. The tension is quickly relieved as the spark lights his long, scraggly beard on fire, and he puts it out with a splash of beer. While he talks a big game, Brendor doesn’t appear to be even remotely a threat to anyone, except perhaps himself.

After a short and slightly embarassing negotiation, Corrin convinces Brendor to meet with Jeffrey about a business proposition. He, followed by Winifred and Saena, leave the inn, drying themselves off from the beer that had been splashed and spilled on them by the clumsy wizard.

At the Shepherd’s Cellar, clearly an adventurer’s bar based on the astounding amount of weapons and armor that its patrons are decked in. Located beneath an old watch tower, the bar has many dark corners, and the tables are full of wizards, pistoleers, rangers and warriors of many races. At a table in the corner, Ruby is sitting, armed to the teeth, with a wizard in large voluminous red robes, staff leaning on the table. Saena, backed up by the large, imposing figure Spooks has now become, heads over to chat with Ruby about their mutual “friend” Jeffrey.

Despite the efforts of her friend, Audrine, Ruby is convinced into having a meeting with Jeffrey, just to hear out his business proposition.

Danov Unchained

Light shines in the moderately adorned windows of the Temple of Serik as the inhabitants, mostly priests and clergymen, attend to their daily duties. Breaking the calm, Saena and the group charge in through the doors, seeking shelter and respite from their most recent misadventure. They calm the onlookers by telling them that Boba has sent them, and proceed to recuperate until he arrives shortly after.

Meanwhile, at the now battle worn apartment of the once wizard Erik Mayline and his grandmother, Elias tends to the bound Malia while Shyama and Corrin search for any secret items of power and wealth. Malia shakily rises to her feet, and after a brief period of looting, is hurried out the door by the group. She leads them through a twisting path of back alleys to the warehouse district and into the small room of a large warehouse, made of crates and shipping containers, where she downs a restorative vial and takes a moment to steady herself before addressing her saviours.

Though still apprehensive about giving away her secrets, Malia does disclose that she was working qietly to investigate Mayline’s ties to the slaving rings in the area, but word got out and reached his grandmother, who had her kidnapped. Elias confirms that they will still meet the following night at the Red Owl Inn, and the trio leave to meet up with their compatriots at the Temple where they find Boba preforming his duties and Saena watching over those needed rest.
Elias, Saena and Corrin, now rested, decide to meet with Geoffrey’s agent outside the Rampant Hero, while Shyama slips off to check the magical and monetary value of the items we recovered from the Maylines. The agent ends up being Geoffrey’s son Robert, who has managed to inherit his father’s quick mouth and snub of authority. We arrange to meet his father and go inside to wait and have dinner.

Shyama, searching for a temple to help identify the magical items, comes instead to a book store run by an Outworld sage who informs her that most of the items are of mundane magical use. His exception is a dusty old sword Nana had in her bedroom, that ends up being Aria, the fabled sword of Athard the Patient. Shyama thanks him, pays a deposit of gold, and leaves to rejoin Elias at the Hero. Geoffrey arrives soon after and requests another favour – that they convince two associates to join his cause. The catch being that they will be less than willing to join his side as one, Ruby, is Geoffrey’s ex and they parted on less than amicable terms, and the other, Brendor, was cheated in a deal with Geoffrey some time ago.

The Lady Marila arrives at the temple and sets to find out what happened to the group. As Boba stumbles through his explanation, conflicting stories reveal that Marila had just arrived from the docks where she had met Danov and, not knowing how he had been injured, used her spells to heal him before departing. This new information is related to Elias and Shyama, who come into the temple a little later, and the entire group takes some time to exchange their new information.

The Mayline, The Witch, and Their War Dwarf

A single moment is all it takes to change the course of everything. One action, one movement, one decision, all taking but a moment…

In a moment, Elias had kicked down the wooden door, splintering it off its hinges and sending it crashing into the room. The handle ricocheted off and flew in an unknown direction, barely noticed by the two occupants: Erik Mayline and his grandmother (affectionately known as Nana).

Battle ready, Elias steps in, and instantly meets the steely gaze of Erik, who unnervingly makes no motion at his presence. As Winifred and Spooks climb in through the window, Elias levels his long sword. “Where is the woman, Erik?” With this, Spooks drops from Winifred’s shoulders and tucks himself up a coffee table, readying his attack.

Nana, who had been previously setting the table for afternoon tea, sets down her cup and responds “You stay out of my grandson’s business!” and with that, murmers ancient words causing herself to suddenly split into six mirror copies, each of which standing ready to defend her various curio cabinets and sundries from the interlopers. Now drawing his sword and readying his giant spiked shield, Erik moves himself between Elias and his Nana. “You better get out of my grandmother’s house” he threatens, and in that moment Danov the dwarf comes out of the back room, not sure of what is happening, but ready to fight to the death for Erik he readies his own shield and Dwarven battleaxe.

“Tell us where the woman is” calls Winifred, her own axes drawn and ready to fight. Spooks darts out from under the table and rushes under the legs of Erik. Erik takes a swing, hitting him clean with his sword Undaunted Spooks makes for the doorway to the room Danov entered from, turns on his paw, and blasts the trio with a cone of frost and ice, signaling the start of the battle.

Elias rushes forward and cuts into Erik with his mighty sword, while Winifred takes two mighty swipes at both Erik and Danov, of which only the dwarf is quick enough to avoid. Nana continues casting in the ancient language of Draconic, leveling a finger at Spooks and uttering the dire word for “pain”, which causes him to buckle in agony. At that moment, Erik also begins casting, and effect is gruesome: the blood begins to seep from his veins and travel the length of his sword, crackling with electricity as it goes and imbuing the sword with such power that when it comes crashing down on Elias it breaks through the defense of his shield and sends him staggering back in a blast of char and pain.

In the commotion, the group’s own casters enter: Corrin takes up position behind Elias and uses his healing belt on him, while Boba rushes to a position behind Winifred and uses his own spells to enhance her defense. Reacting to the sounds of heated battle, Saena also enters the fray, and blasts Danov with a bolt of lightning. At this point, Spooks has positioned himself further into the back room, and is cautiously waiting attack, when suddenly an arrow from Shyama’s crossbow whistles across the room and deflected off the Dwarf’s shield.

The mirror clones of Nana, each one shifting and materializing to confuse the group, all stop and stare at Winifred. As before, they point an evil finger to her and cast the same pain spell, causing her to cringe in anguish. Steel willed, Winifred continues to fight, barely dodging the electrified and now flaming sword of Erik Mayline. Sparing no time Elias, freshly healed, vaults over the table and plunges his sword into Nana – but only managing to take out one of her clones.

Her vision blurred by the pain of the spell, Winifred renews her attack against both Danov and Erik, and while she strikes the battle mage, Danov still manages to knock her attack away. The same is true with another bolt loosed by Shyama, but neither he, Erik nor Nana are able to avoid a crackling blast of lightning from Saena, who has moved closer to the combat.

Despite being hampered by another cone of cold and ice from Spooks, Erik sets his rage upon Winifred, who is too wracked with pain to get clear in time of his horrible crackling and flaming sword, which he proceeds to plunge deep into her chest. Her pierced body broken, Erik kicks her to the floor, standing over her. Without concern fro his own safety, in an instant Boba rushes through the throng, avoiding the swing of both axe and sword, and uses his magic to bring Winifred back from the brink of death.

Elias manages to cut through two more of the clones as a burst of colour and light from the fingers of Corrin sails through the room and hits Danov in the face, blinding him. Corrin then casts invisibility on himself and gets into another combat position while Winifred, still shaky from her wounds, manages to slice into Danov. As another bolt of lighting is cast by Saena, Shyama takes advantage of the Corrin’s spell and stabs Danov in the kidneys, causing him to finally begin to slump in pain.

From the next room, Spooks leaps up onto the table and then to the face of one of the Nana’s scratching and biting until she disappears, revealing herself another clone copy. With resignation, the remaining pair of Nanas back into the corner, whisper new words, and bring forth another copy to defend. Erik, realizing his grandmother is in the corner and his ally is badly wounded, turns to help, giving Boba the advantage needed to strike low and gravely wound Erik. As Erik crumples to the floor, Boba moves in and in one swift moment has sent his sword cutting down through the mage’s neck, killing him.

The air in the room becomes noticeably cooler as the Nana clones stop their shifting and moving and stare down at their fallen grandson. When her eyes raise again to the party, the cautious bemusement and focus that was once there is gone, leaving only cold, blind rage. Nothing seems to distract her now, not Elias moving into the back room, nor Winifred attacking Danov, and as it seems that she is about to charge one last, final attack, Saena expertly steps in and blasts her with a massive bolt of lightning, sending her back into the wall and leaving her a smoking heap on the floor. Spooks casts a cone of ice directly at Danov, which causes him to also fall to the ground.

With the core of the battle over, Saena moves in to restrain and gag Nana, who dies shortly afterwards from her wounds. Elias removes the hood from the woman, revealing her to be Malia, and he uses his own healing belt to heal her. In the commotion, it is revealed that the Draconic pain spell is still in effect, and that Winifred and Spooks have been fighting through it the entire time. Using all the group’s enchantment and healing devices, all but Elias, Shyama and Corrin rush to the Temple of Serik to try and find a healer to break the enchantment. With one last healing spell from Boba, they break away from him and rush to the temple, but luckily the spell wears off before they arrive.

Meanwhile, as Elias and Corrin are tending to Malia, Shyama moves to check on Danov, who surprises her by jumping up and leaping out the closest window to the street below. Shyama takes chase and attempts to fire an arrow at him, but it glances off his armour and, badly wounded, he manages to stumble his way onto the street and away from the heroes.

Call Me Mayline

Mikhail, owner of The Inn of the Red Owl, had not been having a good week. For some reason, everybody thought he could use their assistance lately, and none of it ever turned out very helpful. He was delighted to see that in his bar full of people, only one little pesky Gnome – Corrin – was here, and without his friends around, that Gnome couldn’t cause too much trouble. Mikhail would have had a heart attack if he were looking at the door, for a tailless cat had walked in, and began surveying the room with his multi-coloured eyes. Nobody really noticed the cat, for everyone else’s eyes were drawn unto a makeshift stage that was built, covered in several large drums.

Velosh, a famous bard in the region, was one of very few Orcish bards, coming from the distant western sea. A strange rune was centred on his eyepatch, covering his tattooed face; various animal hides and leathers covered him, and he held a small string instrument, playing a few notes in between furious beats to the drums. All of Mikhail’s problems had moved to the back of his head, for Velosh was debuting a lot of new material, and the Inn’s patrons were more than pleased.

After the show, Corrin makes his way up to the bar and compliments Velosh on the show, and invites him to come back to the Rampant Hero to meet his friends, some of whom he feels are worthy of a bard song. They head off, and upon reaching the Hero, Corrin realizes he has a slight problem… He doesn’t know which room his friends are in!

Naturally, after getting a few doors wrong, Corrin finally stumbles upon the perfect room: Saena is trying to sleep, and Winifred is standing in shock as Corrin leads a giant Orc into her bedroom. Spooks sneaks in behind them. After some convincing from Corrin, and a bit of protest from Saena, Winifred tells Velosh the story of how she saved Spooks’ life, at the cost of his tail. Velosh is not amused in the slightest by the story, and tells his own tale about a story of greatness, about the hammer of the gods and the forging of the world. As he finishes, he wishes them a good night and leaves, and Corrin and Spooks get shooed out of the room.

After a long day, everyone gets some much needed rest – though some more than others.

Day 22

Everyone gets up and discuss their upcoming meeting with Jeffrey over some breakfast. They split up for a few hours before the meeting; some go out for a morning stroll, and some go back to bed for a quick nap. They reconvene, and follow Jeffrey into the Rampant Hero’s safe room. Jeffrey isn’t looking so good this morning; he’s apparently had a falling out with some former friends of his, and needs the group to go talk to them, see if they’ll get back on his side.

He then fills the group in on more information about Erik Mayline; a description of Mayline, his Nana, and Danov, the crew that Erik surrounds himself with. He lives about a doctor’s office on Fountain Street, and does most of his business from there. The party decides to go find him immediately.

The house is easy to find. It’s made entirely of wood, and a simple set of stairs leads up to the second floor. The doctor’s office is next to a music school, and the sounds of a beginner violinist can be heard. There’s a simple abjuration, probably an alarm, cast on the door. With a bit of help from Corrin’s Spider Climb, Spooks does some reconnaissance of the house. Inside, an old lady is humming a lively tune, setting a table for three people to settle for afternoon tea. The interior, with it’s fancy rugs and expensive couches, looks quite different than the rundown exterior.

Corrin disguises himself and goes inside the doctor’s office, asking to make an appointment for a friend of his. The dentist inside, a human wearing a white coat, covered in blood stains, introduces himself as Holti Osterrson. The prospect of a customer coming in brings a big smile, ironically revealing three rotten teeth, to his face. Corrin tries to find out when the upstairs residents will be gone, so the noise won’t bother them, and Holti tells him it’s never a problem for them.

Shyama hides in the alleyway, as Spooks returns to the others to let them know the state of things. As they are heading back to Mayline’s place, a large carriage pulls up, and lets out three people. The first is a tall human with a large, bushy beard, carrying in one hand a huge spiked shield – perfectly matching Jeffrey’s description of Erik Mayline. The second is a Dwarf in full plate mail, carrying a crossbow much too large for him. His beard braided in four different ways and tucked into his belt – he matches Jeffrey’s description of Danov, Mayline’s right hand man.

The third person coming out from the carriage is a woman with a bag over her head, being dragged up the stairs by the Dwarf. Her voice is muffled as she tries to scream, but Shyama, who is hiding nearby, can hear it sounds vaguely familiar.

About half an hour goes by, and everyone shows up. Corrin and Shyama reveal that everyone is inside, with a female captive. At that point, they hear a loud scream from upstairs. Saena levitates Winifred, with Spooks held under her arm, up to the window and hurls them through it. Elias kicks the door down with such vigour that it falls off its hinges, onto the rug below, as he, Boba, Corrin and Shyama spill into the room, Saena sprinting up the stairs to follow.

Downstairs in his office, Holti Osterrson hears a crash from above, and the smile returns to his face. There will be blood spilled this afternoon.

Meetings, Meetings and More Meetings

While she was typically able to blend into a crowd, all eyes were on Winifred today. It may have been the two handaxes attached to her back. It may have been the long, flowing black cape billowing behind her. It may even have been the tangle of short black hair, usually kept in a ponytail, strewn across her sweat-covered brow. But all odds were pointing at it being the injured mess of a cat she had clenched tight in one hand, leaving a trail of blood behind them, and an older, bearded man, yelling and screaming at her to let him go, being dragged down the street by his belt. With nothing but a stump for a tail, Spooks had definitely seen better days. Mikhail, owner of the Inn of the Red Owl, clearly was not appreciating the public spectacle being made at his expense.

Approaching the Crimson Sail’s front entrance, Saena very quickly realizes her friends are probably not here anymore. The porch is a black mess of cinders and ash, the Half-Elf is talking to two very cross city guards, and the ogre is sitting outside looking incredibly sad. The scorch marks on his face help Saena put together the pieces of what happened. She heads down the street to the Red Owl, the likely spot her friends will have gone to.

Shyama, Boba, Corrin and Elias, heading down from their meeting with a man named Jeff, see Winifred hauling ass up the street towards them. “No time to talk!” she yells as she goes running by, and they follow her, Spooks and Mikhail up to the Rampant Hero Inn. Mikhail shakes himself free and runs back towards his Inn, hoping to finally find safety from this band of heroes who keep ruining his life.

Inside the Rampant Hero, Boba immediately starts tending to Spooks’ wound. Winifred starts explaining what happened at the Crimson Sail, and Spooks changes back to Tibbet form. Sven, the inn’s proprietor, runs up to Spooks and offers him a contract to work there; the Red Owl is going to have Velosh, so Sven needs the awesome fire-breathing, shape-shifting cat to compete. After a few drinks, the party returns to the Red Owl.

Saena has arrived at the Red Owl first, and she hears yelling, mainly Irina at her husband. Outside of the two of them, the bar is completely empty. As soon as she opens the door, Saena begins getting yelled at by Irina. Trying to apologize as best she can, Irina shoos her out of the Inn. Two steps outside, and Saena hears a very loud “YOU DITCHED ME!”

Leaving Winifred to yell at Saena about abandoning her and Spooks, Boba and Corrin head inside the inn. Boba tries ordering an ale, and Mikhail tells him to get lost, that he and his friends ruin everything. Boba yells back at Mikhail, and exits the inn. Corrin passes 50 gold to Mikhail and apologizes, then follows Boba out. Outside, Boba is approached by Jeffrey, ready to have their meeting. The problem, of course, if that the party also has a meeting with Malia at the same time. So they split off in two directions.

Saena, Spooks and Winifred head back to the Rampant Hero, where Sven let’s them know there’s a guy waiting in the back. Basically Jeffrey wants to take advantage of a job opening, but there are a couple issues. Firstly, while Chu had his minotaurs for bodyguards, he is sorely lacking in the protection department, and wants to bring the heroes on as a bit of muscle. Not exactly be seen with them, since their faces are now getting more and more familiar, but as indirect helpers.

Secondly, Jeffrey isn’t the only one going after the job; there’s a man named Erik Mayline after it as well, and he sounds like an even worse candidate than Jeffrey, based on everything the party knows about him. During the way, he did some terrible, unforgivable things, and Jeffrey doesn’t want him for a competitor. So he indirectly asks Winifred, Saena, and Spooks to “do a lot of people a favour”, and get rid of the guy. Jeffrey says he’ll buy them all lunch tomorrow, so they have time to think. They decide to find out more about Jeffrey before making any decisions about it.

Elias, Corrin, Boba and Shyama grab a table, and Mikhail serves them some beers without saying a word. Malia comes in, and suggests to the party that they’ve been causing quite the stir, and need to clean things up. She’s willing to act as a go-between for them and their “mutual friend”, since all parties have a mutual interest, abolition. She gives Shyama a blue handkerchief, and says to put it in the window 48 hours from now if we’re interested in pursuing this opportunity, and can clean up the mess we’ve made.

The group from the Red Owl heads over to the Rampant Hero, and everyone heads up to a room they’ve purchased to discuss the outcome of their meetings over a dinner of steamed goose and brandy. The room is lined with lead and cork, and Sven promises the group that there’s never been a scrying eye in the Rampant Hero, so their conversation will be completely private. After a long debate, the party again splits up. Corrin and Shyama head off to oversee what is happening behind Karnegrith’s. Spooks and Saena head off to see Diego, Saena’s contact at the Witch and Shield inn. Winifred, Boba and Elias stay behind to secure rooms for the night at the Hero.

At the Witch and Shield, Saena inquires about both Jeffrey and Erik Mayline. Diego and a friend of his, Charles, give them as much detail as they can. By the sounds of it, Jeffrey is not a serious threat to anyone. He’s by no means a good guy, having smuggled weapons and people during the war, but he’s still a small fish. Erik Mayline, on the other hand, is an incredibly dangerous wizard, and was sent behind enemy lines to kill innocents during the war.

Behind Karnegrith’s alchemy shop, Shyama hides in the dark, while Corrin disguises himself as a homeless Halfling. A couple strolls down the alley, looking like they’ve had a long night of partying. Upon reaching Karnegrith’s, the man, Ovallus, gives Corrin a gold and tells him to get lost; Corrin heads off to the edge of the alley, still able to see shadows of what’s happening.

The couple knocks on the shop’s back door, and a gnome answers. No names are given. A few minutes later, a hobgoblin strolls down the alley, eyeing everyone suspiciously, and holding his hand to his sword hilt. Nobody speaks until the last member of their party shows up…. it’s Malia! She looks impatient, looking around for one more person who is supposed to meet them. Ovallus begins talking about people who are set in place inside the palace, but it will still take a couple of weeks before things are ready. Malia shuts him up. Whatever their plan is, they can’t rush it, it’s costing them lives. She leaves, telling them she has a wizard to go see, and the other people clear off.

Shyama meets up with Corrin, and they start walking back towards the Rampant Hero, ready to break the news of Malia’s deception to their friends.


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