Ilderan Tales

Maybe going to Slaverpalooza wasn't such a good idea...

Having decided to infiltrate the Slaverpalooza, Asanja and Saena, being the slyest of the bunch cover as buyers with their pets, Kell and Ludo. Elias and Astaria pose as their bodyguards. After a week of travels, they make their way inside with the help of Malia and Asanja. They notice the place has been heavily guarded because of the recent attacks on slaves. While inside, the team splits up to gather information and find other things. Saena tries to find who is in charge and finds Danny et. al. and find out they are there, led by a woman with short grey hair, to start a massacre and ask Saena for her help. She calls for Astaria to help them plan.
Astaria is looking to make money to afford spells and things for the battle against the Wolf. Instead she acquires a stone to add fire power to her bow. A man tells her to follow him and leads her to Saena’s camp.
Elias with Elspie, Asanja’s new crystal parrot, went to find information. He hears talks of the disappearing slaves, hearing key names: Avvar Skadison burnt down a village, Beastal Warlusts is a captain for an unnamed leader. He notices an auction block and notices Aziz there as a guard. Aziz shows him to the auction master’s tent, where he finds Saena.
Asanja and Kell explore the area. Asanja is escorted by an orc to the Tent of the Wandering Night. The slave-filled tent contains Kengar, the Pirate from Saena’s past. Kengar complains that the orc found the wrong Kaleshtari, but asks Asanja about Saena anyway. Asanja states she doesn’t know her. Still skeptical of Asanja’s lie, he lets her go, but also sends attendants to follow her. Kell manages to bite the ankles of the people following her, flying off as Asanja runs away.
After hearing Danny’s team’s plan, the group decides to head out, passing Galinor, and discuss in a hut outside.
At around 2am, the group hears loud noises and fire from where the auction house is. By the time they get there, the place is filled with Chaos. Winifred is there and tells the team “you shouldn’t be here…”


Arriving back from their slow march to the Tor, the party splits off to their own devices:

Elias heads to the ranger outpost at the Keep to report his findings to Stonefist. When he arrives, he finds that Jax is not there, but a message is left that another group of adventurers had already freed the Raven. Realizing that all the Lich’s family are now free, doubt takes over and the ranger wanders his way back to his family home, not reappearing at the Tor for a few weeks.

Kell soon reports to the Tor as well, and in finding the same note left for Elias, makes inquiries about the other group of heroes and finds out they are the Heroes of Mistbough out of Therengrad. For the next few weeks, Kell opts to train with his friend Lucas.

Astaria stays at the Tor for most of the time, at first helping the newly freed slaves settle into their freedom and new lives in Endamos, and then spends most of her free time in quiet reflection, speaking with her mentor Jengir and training. She is also the first of the party to find the note left by Saena.

Asanja, wanting to be of more value to the group, seeks the help of Astaria’s mentor Jengir, to help her better understand her Kalistari nature, and to learn to fight better with her new blade.

Saena, feeling guilty for everything that has happened, decides to find out more about herself and her past. She leaves a note for the group to find, and sets off to the last place she knew her family lived…

Several weeks after their encounter with the Lich, the heroes have all made their way back to the Tor. Once everyone is together, Kell shows them the treasures he had taken from the Master of Morass’ vault: they all received 10 000 gold pieces for their travels, and then divided up a wide sword belt of giant strength, a behemoth belt of fortification, fancy dragonskin gloves with emblazed with the crest of an open hand, a once Riladorian pirate hat, and an amulet with the mark of some long lost house.

Astaria soon receives a sending from Magus Thrakun warning them that the Phalanx visited him regarding the questions he was asking about the Wolf, and that they implied they would be visiting the heroes soon. A sudden knock on the door does not bode well, but when it is opened it reveals a Kalishtari woman looking for Elias.

Elias introduces her as Malia, the woman who had originally hired them to free the slavers at the broken tower ruins. She informs them that around the same time, several key political figures had been assassinated, but her major news is something has been almost completely annihilating the slave trade – camps of slavers have been left as entire bloodbaths but with no bodies found anywhere. At this point, Elias tells her all about their adventures from tower, and about the Wolf and the vampire menace. Taking in this information, Malia surmises that they’re probably going to target the huge slave trade that she had mentioned months back.

She also mentions that there has been a rash of people having their shadows stolen. Pooling their knowledge, the adventurers hazard that this might be the Emiscari – a society of shadow mages from the Crag who are raised with no names. She has heard that this had happened in a western village named Treya, but the Heroes of Mistbough liberated the town. They ask her to broker as much information on this as she can, as there appears to be a connect to their group and those who most recently have had their shadows stolen.

As they speak, another knock on the door brings Evarel, an agent of the Phalanx. She is a taller, awkward lady with blonde hair, and is very clear with us that she is not angry with us, just that the Phalanx are also looking into the vampire mess and are looking to get as much information as possible. She informs us that the Raven rose from a Dwarven graveyard wwest of the Asaro Citadel, and that since the rising, heroes have been dying along the Archenbough, implying the start of a well trained army.

Elias tells Everal about Kevran and the Lich, and we learn this same thing happened approximately 1114 years ago, so information is sparse. To aide us, she gives us a small sculpture that acts as a war room: a Draconian spell that holds up to eight occupants and cannot be scryed. Afterwards, Jengir gives her as much information as he can about the Master of Morass, but keeps a bit from her about the position of the stars the night it awoke. Soon, she leaves, and we decide to head to the slavers market.

Out out brief candle
Or - the one where we help the wrong person

After the battle with the Neogi, our heroes regroup to heal, helping Elias and Asanja to stay on their feet in case they need to fight again.

Having confirmed that Jengir wasn’t dead there in that pile, they move on to find The Master’s cave, but they do so in camoflague. Elias smears some muck on himself. And most of the others follow suit to sneak past the Neogi and get to the cave the Master lives in… At least, to TRY and get to the right cave.

The group heads out, with various success on being stealthy, creeping along and seeing lines of slaves walking along in among the caves. Time passes and our group gets very deep into the Neogi territory, slipping past several patrols with Asanja in the lead. Tension is in the air.

Kevran and Astaria stay in the back where Astaria is keeping him calm and focused, but he gets agitated as he notices a group of slaves polishing coins. Astaria looks over and sees that one of them is Jengir. She leans forward and taps Saena to point out Jengir to her, Saena taps Asanja, stopping the group.

Astaria looks about and notices that there are no Neogi around, they seem to avoid the cave, but she also notices something unusual in the mud, a small and worn black scale. She looks at it carefully and determines that it is probably from a Dragon. She whispers to Saena “Are you ready to possibly fight a dragon?” Saena is not exactly pleased with that thought, hoping though that if there IS a dragon, that it is on their side.

Astaria sneaks forward, the group moving with her. The edge of the circle touches Jengir and the slaves on either side of him. One of them tries to get up, but Jengir stops them and the three become aware but strangely keep polishing the coins. Astaria mind links with Jengir and fills him in on the situation. He is not exactly pleased about the way this has gone but informs Astaria that The Master is a large Black Dragon and if the slaves see any other slave acting strangely, they run to get help. The situation seems… confusing.
Astaria jumps into the middle of the slaves and all are suddenly free from their mind control. “I’m going to try and get you all out of here.” She tells them. The circle won’t last much longer, but the plan becomes to get out as fast as possible. The problem then becomes: how to get everyone out of here?

Kell runs into the Dragon’s cave to look for a second exit, Saena asks the slaves if they can help at all and gives her Rapier to one of the elves. Asanja is confused as to what to do and moves into the circle. Elias is watching Kevran and trying to keep him calm but Kevran wants to continue into the cave.

Kell finds that the cavern is very large and full of treasure, a true dragon’s horde of coins, jewels, armour and swords, artifacts and other fancy things everywhere. But the one thing he does not find in this incredible cave of wonders is a second exit. He sees that the imprint left by the dragon is large, like, house size large.

He returns to the group to inform them of this then takes the desperate Kevran back into the cave with Asanja following.

Planning among the others is more like arguing. The group all have different ideas. Elias wants the group to rescue themselves, Astaria and Saena want to rescue everyone.

Kell and Asanja take Kevran into the dragon’s horde cavern trying to figure out what he needs there, he becomes more and more agitated the closer he gets. There are several McDuck’s of treasure around them including the burned out husk of a Warforged. Kell begins looking for anything that might be useful to the cause and takes a few pocketfulls of treasure.

Kevran finally moves over to a candle, steadily glowing blue in a corner of the room and simply snuffs it out with his fingers.

Asanja questions why but Kevran doesn’t know why. He questions why the dragon isn’t there, it’s shouldn’t need to hunt. He seems confused but nothing special is happening. He finds it… anti-climactic. His fingers are slightly burned.

Kell moves to the warforged to see if it can help it, or then if it can scavenge parts off of it, stealing the magic componants from the warforged.

As this happens, Kevran seems to snap back to himself. He starts talking about how ‘they’ buried his children and how he understands why they did it. He’s smoking, starting to burn and Kell and Asanja start backing away. His skin begins flaking off as he begins burning from the inside, though he doesn’t notice. He is talking about what he did to his children, his youngest. He suddenly remembers why the dragon is not there.

Kell moves between Kevran and Asanja who is backing away, still retreating towards the mouth of the cave.

Kell asks why the dragon wasn’t there and Kevran tells them that the Dragon did not want to be there for the part when Kevran wakes. He is an immortal. He begins moving towards the exit, his skin burned away. Kell sends Asanja to tell the others what is happening and continues leading Kevran out of the cave.

Asanja returns to the cave and tells the rest of the group to run, which, not surprisingly, they don’t do. Instead Elias heads to the cave as Astaria tries to put them to sleep and back away so the others can return to work. Jengir tells Astaria “Good Luck” but it sounds more like “Good Bye.” Astaria casts Protection from Evil on him.

At this point Kell emerges from the cave, walking backwards, followed by Kevran who stops and addresses the group. Who all seem… stunned. Saena asks what he is and he responds he doesn’t have a name, he’s just immortal.

He cautions them against fighting him. And speaks of his children again. He doesn’t seem to want to fight the group. He decides to free the group instead but at that point Saena speaks up and confirms what they all already know, that the Wolf, the Raven, the Cobra… they are his children.

Saena refuses to be helped by this thing. She is poised to leave and refuses to have him help her.

The others seem to be willing to go with the Litch but Saena refuses. Kevran, the Litch, snaps his fingers and a blast of silence flies through the room, deafening Saena. She remains standing but he tells them that if he knocks her out they will take her but they better do it soon because he’s getting bored.

Astaria turns and attempts to hits Saena with the bow but misses.

Kell steps between the two, shoving Astaria towards Elias and Saena turns and bolts out the door.

Without missing a beat Elias moves between the Litch and the rest of the group and Astaria turns and shoots Saena in the back with an arrow. Jengir picks her up and brings her back close to the others . They take the Litch’s deal, Astaria insisting that the slaves are brought with them , though two are trying to run. Kell and Asanja keep the two there.

There is a horribly disconcerting feeling when suddenly none of them feel like they exist anymore and then they do, back in reality with a unpleasant lurch.

Astaria moves to run to Saena but before she can get there, Kell hauls off and tries to hit her, but misses. Astaria takes Saena in her arms , removes the arrow from her back and heals her. Saena tries to get away but Astaria won’t let go despite Saena telling her to. Elias walks over as Saena tries to cast a spell to switch places with Kell but it fails and again she tells Astaria to let go but she doesn’t. Elias grabs Astaria and Saena frees herself.

The party is alive, but are they whole?

Something About a Crazy Old Man

Deciding not to waste any more time, the group sends Boba to the keep to update the rangers on the Wolf’s happenings. Meanwhile, the rest of the group make way toward Tharaka Morass to save Astaria’s friend, Jengir. The Theraka Morass is where the Neogi live – slavers that mind-control their victims, forcing them to do their bidding. And sometimes become food.
The group are stopped by a stagnant river, too sulphuric for life, to wide to swim. Kell takes his time to learn about the river, as the rest of the group notice a dock not too far away. Nearby is a cottage where a very old man lives. The old man is confused and forgetful, having gone mad through years of poor water and general elderlyness. Eventually, he introduces himself as Kevran. He agrees to take everybody across the river as the horses stay behind. While crossing the river, they notice the old man has a journal-like notebook, written in several ancient languages. When they get to the other side, Kevran insists on leading everyone into the Neogi, tapping trees as he passes by them, as if, although his mind had forgotten where he was going, but his body never forgot. As they approach the Neogi, the darkness deepens as the snow turns warm and brown. Staying quiet and careful as they explore the area, the adventurers see a Naogi and two ogres in the distance. Deciding to find another way in, Kevran leads everyone to the spawning pits.
In the pits, they find pools of larvae and baby Neogi swimming around. A pile of dead bodies are heaped in a pile of recently deceased. Astaria searches the pile for someone she might recognize, in case the quest turns out a failure. As she searches, a large Naogi appears behind them, spawning new Neogi. Astaria casts Circle of protection on herself to avoid it’s mind-control, and the group sets to work, destroying the Master. Kevran joins in, apparently a wizard. With his help, the group easily defeats her, as yet another creature emerges from the darkness. Asanja, Kevran , Saena and Astaria avoid its confusion and attack the beast, as Kell runs away and Elias is infatuated by a rock. Kevran gives the final blow to the creature and Saena takes out the final baby Neogi.
With no sign of Jengir, the adventurers heal their wounds and continue on their search.

Arvyn's Roadies meet The Wolf
Level Drain is a Disquieting Sensation

Shortly after Arvyn’s legendary performance for the Wizards pub in Therengrad, a messenger arrived carrying dread missives.

They were delivered in haste, one to each member of the party. The messenger fled before a tip could be offered.

The names of each member of the party, in a careful script, were written in ink black as night on the crisp parchment: Dreg, Jarvin, Arvyn, Nick, Sebald, Billy, Terrance.

With trembling hands the heroes cracked the seals and, with mounting trepidation, they opened their fearful messages.

Their contents, too horrible to be spoken aloud. Death threats, ransom demands, summons of the inquisition… the heroes would have received with gladness in exchange for these… these wedding invitations.

It was true, Dreg’s sister Juna was to be married. The party would have to face an evening of socializing and merriment for which they were wholly unprepared.

The journey to the wedding was uneventful. There was a brief visit to their young friend, the silver Dragon, and a conversation with some Rangers that were trying to pretend there weren’t any undead around.

The wedding went well. Two people got married. According to the invitations, it was the two that were expected to do so. Stories were shared, drinks were drunk, and vows were exchanged. Lovely times.

In order to ruin the event, Dreg’s uncles saddled him with an old family debt to recollect old grave goods left behind during the long wanderings of the dwarves during their exile, generations ago. Nothing about this seemed like a good idea. Buried things should stay that way. After an adequately long guilt trip, Dreg agreed and the party set off to do some grave robbing.

Unfortunately, some undead jerks had beaten them to it.

While on watch, Dreg was pulled by an ancient compulsion towards an area that was being cleared by a group of skeletons under the command of The Wolf.

It seems that the curse that currently possesses Dreg remembers being dismembered by The Wolf in its past life, and that was more than enough reason for Dreg to bash the vampire’s brains out.

Dreg charged, the other members barely catching up in time to see the first swing land.
Skeletons fell like dominoes, but they bought the Wolf enough time to open the vault he’d been uncovering.

While the Wolf, Nick, and Dreg exchanged blows, the vault rose and opened, exposing a Mummy cleric that turned out to also be Wolf’s sister and one of the Undead Generals.

About this time, the wizards had a chance to lay into the Wolf with enough magic missiles to make him worry for his survival. While it was fairly clear that the Vampire and the Mummy could probably kill the party, The Wolf would likely not survive the encounter, so they made a tactical teleporting retreat.

The heroes then returned via hard-march to the wedding to return the grave goods, worry, and sleep.

After The Wolf Moon

Finding a clearing at the side of the woods, the heroes make camp just off of the broken pillars, leave Boba to tend the horses, and head to where the X was drawn on the map. Trying to be as quiet as possible, they creep along the low grass and through the snow, keeping to the cover of the shattered ruins. On occasion, their movement is slowed by a member snapping a snow covered twig, but they make it to the edge of the snow just as the light of day sinks below the horizon.

Those with the vision can see that the snow ends in a perfect, iron circle, but everyone can hear a familiar voice asking “Do you think they’ll come? I had to kill a lot of people to lead them here…” The companion voice, also familiar, complains about being bored, but the first replies that it’s been a week of getting ready, not waiting. The first speaker is The Wolf, and his bored companion is revealed to be Winnifred sitting on a large rock.

At the sound of her friend’s voice, Saena advances in the dark, while the others take a more defensive stance. The Wolf perks at her arrival, and proceeds to move to the center of the circle, cut himself with blade and bleed on the iron, which begins to sizzle and dissolve. While he works, Winnifred draws her double small axes, which turn black in her hands.

Saena instinctively casts a lightning spell at the Wolf, who turns to mist to avoid it, causing Saena to swear under her breath. Elias draws his silver blade and advises Asanja to hold back and run if things go too bad, while Kell rushes forward directly, only to be tripped to the ground. Astaria draws her bow and takes her own position to attack.

Between pummeling Kell, the Wolf breaths a cone of ice at the group, freezing Astaria. Winnifred moves forward, but claims to be unable to see the group (due to a spell Astaria had previously cast). Saena switches tactics and blasts fire at the vampire, hitting him and halting the blood a little. At that point she notices that both the enemies are well equipped in new weapons and black armour for this fight.

From here, the battle reaches a full pitch, with every hero moving in to attack while attempting to avoid their own danger. The Wolf manages to knock Elias to the ground, and fights both prone Rangers at the same time, while still avoiding Saena’s attacks. Only then does the group make their first noticeable attack, when vials of holy water come soaring through the darkness from Asanja, striking the Wolf in the face and burning him.

The tide slowly turning, Kell breaks free from a meager attack from Winnifred and shiftsback from his animal form and rushes his opponent. Just then, Astaria recites powerful magical words, and forces Winnifred to flee from the battle. Elias takes the opportunity to heal and jump back into the fray.

The battle raged with the Wolf still having a tactical advantage until Saena stepped back and called out to ‘Elizabeth’. With that, she sprouts huge, black, bat-like wings, and her entire countenance turns decidedly more demonic. She hovers slightly in the air and as Astaria consecrates the battlefield, refocuses her attacks with a new power. Much to everyone’s shock, Elias also calls out to ‘Elizabeth’, and he also immediately turns demonic, but his wings are of the finest black feathers. He then charges in and slashes the wolf with his sword.

At this, the Wolf suddenly shifts his focus to Asanja, and attacks her, tearing through her armour and flesh in a savage attack. Demonic Saena and Elias push their attacks, but it is Kell that manages to grab a hold of the Wolf and allow an open assault. In the heat of the battle, they do not notice the mist rising from the blood stained iron circle materialize into the form of a woman until the Wolf identifies her as his sister – The Cobra.

The group split their focus on the two vampires, with little effect: The Cobra seems unfazed by Saena’s magic, and soon the Wolf breaks free from Kell’s hold and strikes him, knocking him out cold. The two argue a little until the Cobra insists they leave, and both teleport away from the fray.

Shortly after, Winnifred returns to the battle, and having been ordered to ‘deal’ with the group, decides to strike a bargain of mutual armistice than to continue to fight. Eventually, everyone reluctantly agrees, and Saena and Elias shed off their demonic forms, emerging back to normal and fully healed.

The heroes check on their injured comrades and talk briefly with Winnifred, who informs them of the Wolf’s plans to wake The Raven, then The Litch, and eventually wipe life off the land. In the meantime, they are waking ‘The Sleepers’, an undead army meant to keep anyone who would interfere too busy. It is also revealed to the group that the Wolf is in fact the weakest of the siblings, and that things are only going to get worse from here.

The night again quiet, and the party unsure of themselves or their next course of action, Elias orders them back to the tent to regroup.

Rescues, Ruins and Conspicuously Unearthed Tombs

Th’ day stairted wi’ a rescue. Sae ‘twas juist a normal day fur oor heroes. Wance thay hud destroyed th’ hive, th’ group retreated tae th’ lip o’ th’ forest, whaur thay fun asanja ‘n’ kell guarding th’ three individuals thay hud rescued fae th’ demons. ‘twas earlie forenicht by this time, ’n’ th’ group decided thair best shift wid be tae return tae thair campsite fae th’ nicht afore, ‘n’ git some weel earned rest. Saena cast her paukit hut, providing thaim a’ wi’ a safe space tae kip, ‘n’ atween astaria, elias ‘n’ kell, thay hud enough fairn fur th’ nicht. Sure thay wid be safe, th’ group then git tae ken thair rescuees a bawherr better.

(At this point Asanja put down her ale and decided it would be best to write in Common from now on).

The human couple they had rescued introduced themselves as Heras and Kella, farmers from north of Endamos, who, along with Kella’s brother and cousins, had been dragged into the woods, beaten, and then carried off to the demon hive. All they knew of their time in the hive was that it had been long, as they had been kidnapped early in the season.

The third rescuees is a quiet Kalashtari lady by the name of Kathelian. She is found meditating when the others wake, and Astaria does her best to engage her in conversation. They discover that Kathelian lives alone in the woods, and unlike Astaria and Asanja had devoted her life to the psychic aspects of Kalashtari culture. She is grateful to the group for rescuing her, as she can ‘think now it is quiet’, and whilst she does walk with the group for a while, she declines their offer of an escort. Kell tells the group she left during one of the nights on their way to the farm.

It is decided however that it would be safest to walk the farmers home. They show their gratitude by giving their rescuers a meal and some jam. Elias seemed particularly pleased with this last.

The next natural move is to head back to Endamos for news, as they have been away for a few days, and about a mile out they run into a Ranger Patrol. A Patrol of new recruits headed by Sargeant Breda, a no-nonsense gnome. She eyes up Elias, lets him know there is a message waiting at the fort for him, and then goes back to ignoring our heroes and bossing about her recruits. As this news only affects Elias and Kell, they head to the Keep, whilst the rest of the group strike out for the tower and the comfort of their own beds.

Elias arrives to find a patrol has returned with a message for him, written on a rag stuffed in a sealed envelope, delivered by a mysterious woman who carries a pair of hand axes. It says ‘the Wolf is heading to Uld Vroggen to find his sister.’, and contains a map with a large X marking a spot near ruins. It is simply signed with a W. Elias uses this opportunity to check the maps to find where the note could be talking about, but it is likely in the unfriendly country beyond the frontier, where the patrols don’t venture. Whilst giving his account of their time at the hive to Jaks, Elias also shares the content of his letter. Jaks agrees to provide horses and some operational equipment, but that is the extent of the help he can provide.

Unfortunately for Elias, his companions aren’t very pleased to hear about his letter. They argue about the best course of action, as between them they have enough knowledge of the land beyond the frontier to know it’s not anyone’s ideal destination. Some of the locals can be negotiated with, but this is usually done whilst they are chewing on your squishy parts. They also know that the pillars in the diagram are likely the remains of one of the greatest temples ever built, a temple to whom is knowledge lost in time.

Eventually it is decided that the best plan would be to get a good sleep in their own beds, and then set out across the Aelthindaar and towards what could be an encounter with the Wolf. The horses definitely help, and despite the snow they make pretty good time.

As they travel, they begin to find ‘evidence’ of the Wolf’s passage; scorchmarks, arrows in trees where victims attempted to fight back, and eventually the non-fresh bodies of the victims themselves, buried in the snow. These people are recognised as one of the missing Ranger patrols, some of whom are known to Kell, and he takes one’s family pin along with their money, to be returned to the families when the group make it back to Endamos.

Asanja, distraught at the sight, insists on building a marker to let other travellers know that these brave Rangers gave up their lives in this place, and she also prays to her god Dakarai, Lord of the Doors, for safe passage of their souls. Whilst she is busy with this, the more rational members of the group build a pyre to burn the bodies, to ensure they do not return.

Burning becomes a theme of the journey, as the group are sure to dispose of the animals and goblin remains they come across, to ensure they don’t find themselves under siege by a horde of vampire creatures.

Certain unscrupulous members of the party check the bodies for valuables before burning.

Once the Pillars are visible on the horizon, the group discovers an area cleared of snow, with a large, highly unnatural hole in the centre. Upon investigating, Kell discovers it leads to a small chamber – someone knew something was hiding here. Upon consulting their map, they know this isn’t the site marked by the X, but decide it is worth exploring anyway.

It is quickly decided that Elias and Kell will anchor a rope, so Saena, Boba and Astaria can climb down into the hole. Asanja acts as part lookout/part scout. Saena makes it most of the way down the rope, falling the last few feet, but is soon back on her feet. Boba is about halfway down the rope when he hears a curse word from above, and Astaria falls past, luckily caught by Saena. Boba decides he likes the look of this, and jumps off the rope for Saena to catch.

The chamber is made of smooth stone, and was once fully equipped, judging by the weapon racks, crates and other objects scattered around. Boba cracks a sun rock, allowing the little party to investigate their surroundings further. At the centre of the chamber lies a vault.

The vault and the chamber appear to have been created by magic a long time ago, and something was sealed in until recently. The only item of furniture in the vault is a wooden chair with no arms, and once Astaria has cast detect magic on it, a faint aura of transmutation. Boba decides to throw his pot at the chair, but it garners no response, so he despondently puts it away again. Upon further examination of the room itself, they discover someone has been carving on the wall, counting something; they got to 6 before stopping.

Meanwhile, Asanja has explored a little ways away from the hole, and discovered a whole mess of footprints, which looks like whatever was in the chamber may have assembled here. They appear to lead away from the direction the group were originally headed in. Once their companions are safely out of the chamber, Elias joins Asanja, and they discover that just over the rise there is an old cemetery that is now missing a good number of its occupants. They surmise that, given the empty weapon racks found in the chamber, they are likely now also better equipped than when they were interred. The tracks leading away from the graveyard indicate whomever this was was moving at marching speed, gone for a couple of days at most.

Whilst our heroes agree that this is very likely a problem, it is not the problem they travelled all this way to look into, and decide instead to head for their original destination; an X on a map, sketched on a rag and delivered in secret.

And we never went to Battle School
Or Slayin' a Hive by Disco Infernal

A wizard shows up at the almost-complete tower. Elias asks him what he wants. He was sent from the wizards from the coast. He has information about the hive. After rounding together Astaria, Asanja, Kal and Saena, he introduces himself as Marius Eventide. He tells everyone about the hive and its dangers.

The four adventurers and Ludo head out in the snow towards the demon hive. As they approach the cave, they notice the snow starts turning brown and putrid. As they get closer to the cave, the smell gets worse and the snow starts becoming too vile and sticky to actually be snow.

They notice the cave is guarded by a few drone demons. Astaria summons a fire mephit to distract it, drive it up out the cave and block off the way back in. As they rush into the cave, they find an open room, noisy and buzzing, adorned with pods containing figures. Upon closer inspection, most of the figures are dead, or almost dead, their bodies having been filled with tiny demon larvae. They find four mostly-alive bodies and free them: a kaleshtari, two humans and a knoll. The knoll is the only one capable enough to speak. Kal, Asanja and Ludo take the others back out the cave while, having convinced the knoll to help, he, Elias, Saena and Astaria go after the hive queen, using the knoll’s ability to smell out the queen.
Kal, Asanja and Ludo make it out of the cave easily, but once there, they are swarmed by demons. Kal tells Asanja and Ludo to run with the survivors as he tries his best to fend them off.

Meanwhile, Elias, Saena, Astaris and Greshak, the knoll, combat the hive queen. Astaria attempts a new spell, but winds up damaging her instead. Saena casts enlargement on Elias and he and Greshak hack away at the Hive queen as Saena and Astaria provide magical support. As Elias makes the final blow, the swarm that had been fighting Kal stops and falls to the ground.

The group thanks Greshank for his help as he walks away into the forest.

Five Short Graybles

By the following morning, all the members of the party were awake, cured of their paralysis, and that much closer to their respite at Endamos Keep. Once through the familiar city gates, the team takes stock of their needs and most set off to their own devices:

Astaria soon found that The Keep was too small for a professional bowyer, so she took to the private market and soon found a retired, one-handed mercenary named Garad looking to sell some of his gear. Agreeing to meet at the Lively Unicorn, he shows her a beautiful longbow, made of bone, that is more formed than sculpted. After showing her that it has magical, corrosive properties, he asks for 1000 gold. Only having 500 to spend, Astaria considers for a while, but eventually sells her composite bow to Garad to make up the difference. After a few days, she also receives a letter from Melena, and a sending from Magus Thrakun giving them a small bit more information about their demon hive quest.

Saena made her way to Triana’s pub to see if the brewmaster had heard anything about the demon nest. Aside from comments on the hard life of being a frontier farmer, there wasn’t much new news. Over the next few weeks, she practices her spellcasting, trains Ludo, and eventually came across some Kobold homesteaders on the edge of town who were looking to rent out an ancient tower at the edge of their property known as Keleson’s Tor. Looking to set up a place for her and her companions to rest (when able), Saena quickly negotiates with them for ownership, and soon sets to work making the weary structure more habitable.

Looking for a quiet corner to study continue her research, Asanya also finds herself at Triana’s. During her stay, she sends messages to her family back home and putters around town, doing odds and ends to pass the time.

Always his first stop, Elias makes his way through town to the family forge. He’s greeted by his father’s traditional bear hug, and says hello to his growing apprentices, including Kell’s ‘daughter’ Lucy. After some small talk, Elias shows them all Elysium Tempest, which one worker, Tolphad, recognizes as a magic dwarf-forged sword, probably commissioned for a noble 100 years ago. Elias’ (and Kell’s) next stop is the Ranger outpost to meet with Jax Stonefist, head of the region’s Rangers. They exchange information regarding Elias’ report on vampires, and Jax fills him in on reports from the Shadash Wastes, where a group might have had a hand in releasing the Wolf and his siblings. One of them, a bard named Nialarah Iargain Deo, happens to be in the town jail, and Elias resolves to speak to her before heading out of town. Before leaving he gives Jax Aria, the ancient TS sword he acquired in Malkara, as a gift to bring to the citadel.

Kell opts to visit his home outside of town and catch up with Lucy on current events. After visitng Jax with Elias, the pair lend their help to area patrols. Kell notes that things are far quieter than they should be, and on one of these patrols, Kell comes across a Knoll raiding party that had been massacred, their chieftain missing.

Unfriendly Neighbourhood Spiders, Man!

After a day of uneventful travels, the adventurers and the caravan drivers decide to settle down for some rest. Elias takes first watch, followed by Asanja. After a little while, Asanja sees something in the darkness grab at one of the drivers. She hastily kicks everyone awake.

Saena springs into action and runs off into the forest, followed by Elias and Asanja. Astaria wakes and makes her way into the forest at her own pace.

Saena travels into the forest, unable to see much. After noticing dark movements around her, she looks up to see an Ettercap, a giant spider creature, that spits venom at her. The venom slowly starts to paralyze Saena as she fights the spider with Ludo. Elias and Asanja join the fight as several smaller spiders start creeping towards them. Elias, Saena and Asanja continue to fight the spiders as they are bitten and poisoned. Astaria stays back to shoot arrows at the spiders, causing some, but little, damage. Eventually the four defeat the spiders, but Saena, Elias and Asanja are fully paralyzed. Astaria frees the surviving caravan drivers and drags her paralyzed comrades back to camp.


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