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Return to Therron

Wraithing Againtht Time
Okay, yeah. That was terrible.

Dax, Aureon and Neladrin faced off with four wraiths on the shores of Misty Lake. Being incorporeal and having undead traits, there was some concern about the battle, but it was unfounded. Between Neladrin and Aureon, they summoned three lantern archons to aid in the battle, and that turned the tides considerably. Only Dax suffered from the icy touch of the wraiths before the battle ended, draining his constitution and freezing his blood. However, before long the wraiths were nothing but smoke on the wind and a strange figure appeared, saluting the heroes, and leaving behind a flame tongue longsword. In the ancient battlefield they also found a gleaming steel shield.

Upon returning to Fort Thorn, the group was healed by the local priest and they were summoned by Captain Torlgrith to see a note that had been delivered (via a mangy wolf), requesting that representatives of the fort go and meet with “Oakbrow, humble servent of the vale.” With Neladrin muttering about druids, the group went off in search of Oakbrow.

It turned out that Oakbrow was indeed a druid, and concerned with the development of the road through the vale. He wanted assurances that there would be no major industry moving in, cutting down trees and mining the ores. If he could strike a deal with the good Captain, Oakbrow promised to be a friend of the fort and offer his assistance in any way he could. Returning to Oakbrow the next day with the captain in tow, the deal was struck and Oakbrow gave the group important information on the location of important resources, as well as a couple of areas of danger, where there was the existence of a lizardman village and a thriving hobgoblin camp.

Additionally, the group also sussed out the location of a copse of Black Ash trees, the sap from which is highly sought after for scribing arcane and devine scrolls. The also came across a rich vein of gold for which they have been told will fetch them a hefty 5,500 gp finder’s fee.

It is now nearly two weeks into the month, with only two weeks left before the road must be finished!

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Against the Current

After the successful routing of the owlbears, Captain Tolgrith was anxious for the group to continue, as their success had been legendary so far. Not only was a threat to the Vale destroyed, but the group had also managed to find a rich seam of copper in the hills to the north. Tolgrith made sure they were paid for their find, and then encouraged them to continue, perhaps investigating the source of the polluted waters of the Petal River, or to search for more much-needed resources for Fort Thorn.

Neladrin suggested that they investigate the source of the pollution. Looking over some rough maps of the Vale, he surmised that, clearly, the source of the pollution would be upstream from Mist Lake. The Petal River passed close to Fort Thorn, so the group would start there and head north into the wilds of the Vale, searching for evidence of what could be causing that pollution.

Prior to their departure, the group approached some merchants who were making their way west through the Vale, and enquired about the sale of the owlbear hatchlings. After some back and forth between Durno and the merchant, the hatchlings were sold for over two-thousand pieces of gold.

Whizzbang and Aureon stayed behind at the Fort, while Neladrin, Dax and Durno struck north, following the river. They had outfitted themselves for several nights under the stars, and when they started their travels the weather was bright and dry.

It was a few hours later that the group spotted a strange creature feeding on the remains of what may have been a deer. It looked like a pile of rotting vegetation and smelled like a dung heap. This thing spotted them (with whatever it used for eyes) and shambled towards them, gurgling a need for warm humanoid flesh. Dax sprang into action and punctured the thing with a well-placed arrow, but aside from his magic weapon’s electrical damage, the puncture wound didn’t seem to do much other than anger whatever this shambling mound of rotting flora was. Neladrin conjured up a field of black tentacles that wavered and shook in a wide radius between themselves and the mound, and the thing began to move around the obstacle slowly. Durno and Dax continued to attack at range, and Neladrin brought forth a summoned dire boar to help in the fight.

It was at this point that a hobgoblin ran forth from behind a large stone, complaining about something to do with “dinner”, and made a line straight for Durno. Neladrin, for some reason, felt that a fireball was good way to deal with this exceedingly minor single threat, and blasted the hobgoblin to smithereens. Unbeknownst to him, of course, were the three other hobgoblins still hiding behind the rock, two of which were also killed in the blast. The final one ran out to attack, though it was badly singed. Durno dealt with it easily while the boar and Dax finished off the shambling mound.

The group composed themselves and continued north, ending up spending two days in the wilds, heading further and further north into the surrounding mountains while finding no apparent source of pollution. The decision was to head south again, where they encountered (and quickly killed off) a group of hobgoblin scouts. Taking the hobgoblins’ patchwork canoe, they followed the course of the river south. As they neared Fort Thorn, they noticed a strange film over the water which grew more noticeable and more metallic in smell as they headed south.

They continued downstream for a while longer before pulling the canoe from the water and continuing on foot. As they neared the north end of Mist Lake, they came across a strange scene; ghostly figures were crossing the river north of the lake, and when they reached the other side they began fighting an invisible enemy. The figures were cast back, apparently slain, falling into the water and befouling it with their ghostly blood. These shadows continued to cross the river, get slain, and fall back, over and over again.

Durno recalled that this area was the scene of the largest battle in the war of the Vale between Chelaxian soldiers and the barbarians who once held claim here. What they appeared to be seeing was a ghostly replay of that battle, the dead Chelaxian soldiers filling the river with their blood which, for some reason, flowed north against the current.

Durno crept across a nearby bridge to get a closer look, and the shadows payed him no mind. He moved closer, and they still paid him no mind. Wondering what to do, he took up his spear and made a threatening gesture to the enemy they could not see.

Suddenly, appearing in a swirl of black vapors, several undead creatures were standing before Durno. They had the appearance of rough barbarians, but their eyes glowed with a malevolent gleam. They turned toward Durno and attacked.

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Beware the Hootgrowl!
...or, Something Stinks Like Wet Feathers and Fur

After a night of rest at the Fort, the decision was for Dax, Neladrin and Aureon to investigate the owlbear tribe while Whizzbang and Durnok would head out on the lookout for the rare natural resources required by Fort Thorn. The owlbears were said to be seen mostly in a forested area about seven miles south of Fort Thorn, so the three owlbear hunters struck out, following the river south for several miles before beginning to make their way inland. They were nearly to their destination when a large bear stepped out onto the wildlife trail they were following and reared up on it’s hind legs, clearly aggressive. It took Dax all of about three and a half seconds to cast a spell to charm the animal, and lo and behold they now had a bear companion to travel with them. Surely a boon.

About an hour or so later, they came across a clearing at the base of a stony hill. A dark cave entrance could be seen at the base of the hill, with large animal droppings, bits of matted fur and brown feathers scattered about at the entrance. The group approached slowly, Dax and the bear taking the lead. Inside the cave entrance, the bear spotted one of the owlbears they were hunting, and the two attacked each other. Dax remained behind his furry companion, while Neladrin stood just inside the cave entrance. Aureon remained further back, still, singing a song of courage to help his compatriots in the battle. The owlbear charged, slashing at the bear, who returned the favour. Frost arrows flew from Dax’s bow and soon Neladrin summoned two celestially-enhanced leopards to join the fight. More owlbears appeared, but with the combined might of Dax (himself enhanced by a Haste spell from Neladrin), the bear and two celestial leopards, the fight was over in less than a minute.

Upon investigating the cave, the group found three owlbear cubchicks which Neladrin knew could fetch a fair amount of gold on the open market. A stagnant pool in the main cave contained the remains of a scout that was unfortunate enough to fall victim to the owlbears, and while they recovered the body to return it to Fort Thorn, they found on it a few interesting baubles, including a masterwork longsword, a magical potion and a rare Cloak of Elvenkind.

Staying the night in the cave, the group returned to Fort Thorn the next day, flush with victory.

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The Bloodsworn Vale

After escaping Walcourt through the sewers and finding themselves a safe haven for a few hours, the group decided to skip town, and to the abyss with clearing their names. Durnokdisguised himself with his magical hat and took some time to retrieve the Terraken control amulet from the scholar they had left it with while the other commandeered a boat to take across the river and out of the city. They landed just south of Thieve’s Town, left the boat on the shore, and walked off into the woods.

They walked eastbound, planning on going through a pass in the Mindspin Mountains and eventually out of Varisia and into Namirath, where they would turn north and head into Lastwall. Neladrin had heard of opportunities for skilled mercenaries there, where the group may be able to do work for land, gold and title.

A week into their journey, they met with a small merchant caravan bound for Fort Thorn in the Bloodsworn Vale. The caravan hired them on as guards for the journey to Fort Thorn for a handful of silver. Along they way, the merchants whispered about how the Vale was haunted or cursed by the spirits of the Chelish soldiers and the barbarians they had fought during the Expansion Wars – the bloodiest battle of which was fought in the Vale.

Nearly fourteen days later, the caravan stopped on a ridge overlooking the Bloodsworn Vale. Nestled in the lush green forest below, surrounded by scattered dots of rose bushes, the peaked roofs of Fort Thorn could be seen, a few wisps of smoke rising from chimneys. It looked calm and serene. A short distance down the path, it changed from worn dirt to worked stone. A sign post near this new path had a notification on it, reading that parties interested in gold, land and title should speak with Captain Tolgrith in Fort Thorn. A few hours later, the caravan pulled through the fort’s gates.

The group said their goodbyes to the merchants. Being late in the day, they retired to the fort’s inn, The Boar’s Bones. Inside, the centerpiece of the common room was seen to be the wired-together skeleton of a great Dire Boar. The inn was run by a halfling and his two cousins, and was busy but not overcrowded. The folk were friendly, and the proprietor forthcoming with information. All in all, the Fort seemed to be filled with content, busy people.

Orrund, the owner of the inn and an older human man named Harold filled the group in on what was going on in the Vale. Captain Tolgrith had sixty more days to finish the new trade path through the Vale on the order of the Varisian king. If the path was finished on time, the king would waive taxes for the Vale for a year, allowing money to flow into the development of Fort Thorn instead of going to Korvosa. Work has been proceeding well, but recently a work party has gone missing and nobody knows their fate.

The next morning, the group presented themselves to Captain Tolgrith at the fort’s keep. A friendly enough man, Tolgrith was an experienced campaigner who was growing increasingly frustrated with the work through the vale. This latest event, the disappearance of one of his work parties, cost him eight good men. His scouts had returned earlier that morning to report what they had found – the eight men, pierced with small arrows and their ears removed. Tolgrith’s earlier thoughts of hiring professionals to help protect the vale during the path’s construction were now very important to him, and he promised all the support he could offer. Firstly, he needed someone to go an investigate the camp where his workers were killed and see what they could find out about the killers.

The party struck out right away, with one of Tolgrith’s scouts to show them the way to the camp where the workers were killed. It was several hours of walking, and the sun was near it’s apex when they arrived at the scene. The bodies had been cleared and buried by Tolgrith’s scouts, but dried patches of blood were visible on the ground where the men had fallen. Searching the camp, Dax discovered in some long grasses at the base of a tree one of the small arrows used to kill the workers. He was also able to find a small path leading southbound from the campsite into the forest. Gathering their things and what useful items they could find in the camp, they struck out to follow the path.

A few hours after humping through the woods, the group happened across a clearing, easily one-hundred feet across. In it’s center were two concentric rings of rose bushes with a path down their center leading to an open area in the middle, ringed with large stone monoliths. Dax, climbing a tree for a better look, could see a stone staircase descending underground in the middle of the rings. Showing remarkable foresight, Aureon cast detect magic on the pathway leading into the center of the rings and picked up two auras of magic surrounding a pair of rose bushes in the pathway. After some study, he discovered that they emanated faint auras of transmutation magic. He then sent forth an unseen servant to rustle these bushes, which instead triggered a snare trap set at the head of the pathway. The bushes did nothing when the servent passed by.

Finally, the group noticed the bushes transform into small humanoid creatures with angry red eyes, carrying bows. The fight was short and brutal, with the party dispatching three of these strange fey. Investigation of the circle turned up nothing save for the steps leading down into the earth.

At the bottom of the steps, they investigated two doors – the first leading into what looked like a hive for giant bees. The second door opened into a feast-hall of sorts, occupied by four creatures like the ones the group killed above. They sat around a large table on toad-stool seats. At the far end of the room was a tall wall of thick rosebushes.

They were in the middle of a raucous meal of roast meats, turnips and breads. After a moment of standing there, Neladrin could see what the fey were eating – the meat was, in fact, human flesh. The sprites took notice of the intruders, but did nothing. Aureon asked if he could join them, and with a laugh they agreed, but the bard ate nothing.

Finally deciding to move on, the group moved into a side chamber and found themselves set upon by two more aggressive sprites who were tending to a collection of small rose bushes. Dax, snared in a trap that flipped him upside down in the air, hung like a bat as he killed one of the fey. The other fell quickly as well, and with some held Dax got out of the snare, but was badly injured by the thorny line that had snagged him.

A shining pool of water in this chamber turned out to be the resting place of several thousand pieces of silver and some baubles and jewelry. Deciding to come back for them later, the party pressed on to another chamber where they found a gigantic rose bush. After some talk which involved climbing it, burning it, eating it and throwing Dax into it, Dax collected the beautiful, massive blooms from the bush and the group moved on, only able to head back in the direction they had come.

Passing unhindered through the feast hall again, the party made their way to a chamber filled with roots descending from an earthen ceiling. At one end was a door that led into the bee hive. With nothing of more interest here, they turned their attention back to the feast hall and the wall of roses. Aureon cast a spell of invisibility on Dax, who, with his ranger skill of woodland stride, passed through the wall of roses uninjured. While the rest were inspecting the wall, one of the feasting sprites called out to them saying “The King sees no one without a gift – I hear roots are in season right now, perhaps that would do?”

Several returns back to the root cellar were needed before a “proper” root could be found, but then the sprite announced that nobody could see the king without the blessings of his mother. Presenting a rose bloom from the giant rosebush they had found, the wall of roses parted and the group’s eyes fell upon the King of Roses, lounging on a giant oaken throne, busily stripping the meat off of a roasted human hand.

The King was incensed that his revelry was interrupted and demanded to know why the intruders were there. Neladrin said they were there about the dead workers, and the King scoffed and said that the workers were insignificant mice, and that what they did was vital to they fey. There was more discussion, some attempts at diplomacy, but eventually the King grew bored and screamed out to his fey servants to “KILL THEM ALL!”

The battle was fierce. Durnok immediately used one of the abilities of his bound vestige to sicken and nauseate the four sprites. Right after that, Neladrin launched a fireball into their midst, roasting two fey alive and severely burning the others. Quickly, the King cast a spell that created a wall of thorns to spring up around Aureon, Durnok and Dax, leaving Neladrin on his own with the King and the two remaining sprites. Once again, Dax used his woodland stride ability to pass through the thorns uninjured, and then used his bow to fell one of the remaining sprites. Soon, two fire elementals sprung into existence and attacked the King, conjured by Neladrin’s magic. There was no way for Durnok and Aureon to get through the wall of thorns, so they turned their attention to a neighbouring room to search for a way around.

Dax and Neladrin held their own against the King, fighting like a well-oiled machine. The elementals’ fiery attacks seemed to do little to the fey king, and Dax’s arrows, too, seemed to be harming the sprite less than they should. Neladrin, concerned for how the battle was going, called upon his conjuring abilities once more and soon a massive dire boar sprung into view. Not a moment too soon, either, as the King had used a magic suggestion on Dax for the halfling to dig into the poison foods on the table. Before he could, though, the boar scored a terrible hit on the King and the fey collapsed, his spells shattering.

Inside the chamber where Durnok and Aureon had gone, they found a chest containing fey and human ears as well as a sylvan tome of dubious magical rituals, a small box of gold pieces and 6 diamonds. In that room as well was a bubbling cauldron where the King had been brewing more poison for the tips of his sprite’s bows. Neladrin took the time to finish the brew while the rest of the group gathered together the coins and jewelry from the pool into sacks. They spent the night camping in the entry chamber and then struck back to Fort Thorn in the morning.

Captain Tolgrith was ecstatic, giving the group private use of the fort’s visitor’s barracks during their stay in the Vale. He then requested their help with other problems cropping up, including a bothersome tribe of owlbears and the mysterious fouling of the waters of the Petal River which happens for one day, on the same day, every month.

Agreeing to stay on and help, the companions were healed by the fort’s resident cleric and then retired to their barracks.

Little did they know that a flame of danger was growing elsewhere in the Vale.

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Escape from Walcourt
What is going on beneath the ancient estate?

After their arrest, the group found themselves imprisoned in Walcourt Estate, and ancient Korvosan manor now being used by the military. The top floors house barracks and offices, while underneath is a secure location for holding military prisoners. In the caverns beneath Walcourt, a small lake offers extra security against escaping prisoners, as the only way in or out is by crossing the frigid subterranean waters.

Held in separate cells, the group were stripped of their belongings and most of their garments. Fed regularly and treated rather well by the guards, they never-the-less plotted their escape. However, the captain had brought in a small stone object that seemed to neutralize any magical skills the group had, severely limiting their ability to get through the locked cell doors. The stone was left sitting on a ledge behind a small pot of glowing coals that offered dimsal light to the cells.

By removing their pants, the gnome Whizzbang tied them together into a makeshift whip. After a few attempts, he managed to knock the odd stone off of the ledge (as well as the pot of coals) and drag it to his cell. Tossing it far down to the other end of the cell block, Dax stuffed the stone into the far corner of his cell. At that point, the magic-using members of the group felt their abilities return.

Using a spell to open his cell door, Neladrin Uthuriel explored the room beyond the corridor where they were being held, and found an unconscious guard, keys for the cell doors still on his belt. Returning with the keys, Neladrin let the others out. Armed with only the sword from the unconscious guard, the group began looking for a way out.

The area seemed relatively deserted, though they did find more sleeping guards which allowed the heroes to outfit themselves somewhat with borrowed weapons and ill-fitting armour. Exploration of the chambers brought them to the underground cavern, but the decision was to see if there was an alternative way out of the caverns and also to see if their equipment could be found.

Further investigation (and some altercations with Asevean guards) allowed the group to find an oddly large well in one chamber. Easily 10 feet across, a large iron ring was fastened into the ceiling above with a thick rope running through it and down into the well. Dax investigated first, finding the remainder of the rope coiled at the bottom, and a tunnel leading off to a small chamber to the south. The rest followed, and they were able to climb another well at the south end of the tunnel to find themselves in an empty storage room. A single door led to the south, and they investigated.

On the other side of the door, they found two guards and what looked to be a magic-user of some kind working a spell over a table covered in many of the group’s belongings. The ensuing fight nearly brought about the end of our band of heroes, but eventually the guards and the wizard fell.

Their equipment reclaimed, a secret passage was discovered in the back of this chamber that allowed access into the Korvosan sewers.

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JAILED!
Our heroes... assassins?

The discussion with Polastur complete and the party filled in on the events leading to Poltur’s imprisonment of the villagers and flight to the islands, the group continued through the subterranean complex to find Poltur in the “Fluxhold” where he was attempting to find the amulet which would control the deadly Terraken.

The corridor they had to take led into a mostly-flooded chamber. In the waters, they spied the languishing form of an undead woman dressed in robes. She rose from the water, her skin grey and wrinkled, marked with barnacles, seaweed and tiny mussels. She introduced herself as Vintresk, the “pilot” of the Terraken, and demanded to know what the group was doing there. When Neladrin explained they were there to ensure the continued sleep of the Terraken, Vintresk announced that their goals were at odds, and she attacked. The creature flung lightning bolts at the adventurers, but was overall unable to deal out much damage as she was grappled by a small octopus that Neladrin summoned, while the rest of the party carved her to pieces.

Looting the undead’s corpse, the group continued along a long chamber towards a brilliant light. The light source, they found, was a massive water droplet suspended in a chamber where Poltur hurriedly used a scrying pool to search for what could only be the amulet, while at the same time trying to keep an eye on the group of adventurers. Dax and Whizbang snuck to the edge of the chamber while the rest of the group waited, and they readied their bows. Their shots struck fair and true, dealing a massive amount of damage to their enemy before the fight even truly began. Poltur backed away, firing off a shot with his own crossbow as Targas charged forth with his axe – and toppled sideways into one of the many pools of water in this room. Dax and Whizbang were able to plung more projectiles into Poltur before he could do much of anything. When he finally had a chance to act, he called out to “Shaquire” that it was free from it’s binding if it would aid him in battle. A water elemental suddenly burst forth from the suspended water droplet and attacked.

Poltur swigged back a potion and advanced on Dax, but not before taking a cut from Durnok’s whirling spear. The water elemental advanced on the closest opponent, Durnok, and slammed him with a crashing of water so fierce it felt like a solid wall. The narrow walkways of the Fluxhold grew slippery. Targas finally hauled his bulk from one of the shallow pools and hacked at the elemental with his battle axe, slicing clean into the outsider but looking to do next to no damage.

Whizbang’s crossbow, powered by a supernatural judgement of Bane on Poltur, missed it’s mark, as did Durnok’s spear. Poltur drew forth a keen rapier and jabbed it at Durnok but missed. A moment later, an alligator burst forth from the pool behind Poltur and dragged the man down by his velvet cape. Seconds later, the water frothed with blood and the traitorous rogue died. With that, the elemental flowed into another chamber and into the darkness – his master dead and freed from his binding, the creature was quick to take advantage.

The scrying pool showed the scene of a dry oubliette somewhere in the complex, at the bottom of it the half-rotted remains of a huge creature. As the elemental fled, the creature’s control over the water in the complex dissipated, and water began to fill the oubliette. There wouldn’t be much time before the Terraken was free once more.

Searching Poltur’s remains was a quick task, and the group found their way to the edge of the oubliette. It would be a short time before the undead dragon turtle at the bottom of the pit could float up and out, eventually finding it’s way to the open sea where it could terrorize and destroy at will – unless the adventurers found the amulet.

Dax and Neladrin summoned sea creatures to search the bottom of the oubliette, and one of Neladrin’s creatures found the amulet, and returned it to the surface where a summoned eagle took the amulet from the octopus’s grasp and returned it to Neladrin. The group fled the island quickly, stopping briefly at the Silver Reign where Neladrin examined the device long enough to learn how to tell the undead Terraken to “wait”, but for an indeterminate amount of time.

The group returned to the village of Chimera Cove as heroes, though the celebrations were short lived when the villagers learned that the terraken was awake and waiting underneath the islands. At any time it could burst forth and lay waste to whatever it found. The village elders explained that while nobody there actually knew how to use the amulet to control the terraken, they believed that Poltur had stolen documents collected by a scholar named Thandros in Korvosa to learn how to control the beast. If the group found Thandros, perhaps they too could go over his documents to learn the amulet’s commands.

The next day, the group caught a ride back to Korvosa with Captain Ironstone on the Adamant. Upon arrival in Korvosa, Neladrin, Durnok and Whizbang immediately went in search for Thandros while Dax and Aureon waited at the Rusty Spitoon.

While the one group went in search of the scholar, Dax and Aureon were laid under arrest by the Andoran militia in Korvosa… for the assassination of General Dakovya.

Thandros was found in his offices at the Korvosan University, and was shocked when Neladrin laid the amulet out before him – as far as Thandros knew, the terraken and the amulet were only legends, and not real. He poured over scrolls and tomes for a while before asking for 24 hours to find out how to use the amulet.

When Neladrin, Durnok and Whizbang returned to the Rusty Spitoon, they, too were arrested.

TO BE CONTINUED

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The Treasure of Chimera Cove - Pt2
How long can you tread water?

Having freed the villagers from their imprisonment at the hands of the hobgoblins, the heroes now looked across the choppy waters of the cove to the three islands barely visible through the fog and mist. The battle against the hobgoblins had been a bloody one, and the four companions and their werebear friend were taxed. The decision was made to rest until early the next morning when they would strike out into the waters of the cove.

The evening in the village was spent healing their wounds and studying spells to prepare for the next day. The silver line and holy symbol of Iomedae were prepared to be lowered into the cove on their way to the islands. Too soon the sun rose, the cove blanketed in thick fog and the waters off the shore of the village were rougher than the night before. How anybody could actually make a living fishing here was beyond the four mainlanders.

The group chose a small dory to make their way to the islands, the brute Targas able to row them through the rough waters fairly easily. Once in the center of the cove, Neladrin lowered the holy symbol on the silver line into the waters, and attached it to a float normally used to mark fishing nets. The waters calmed immediately, and jagged sea walls rose up from the depths to connect the three islands to each other, as well as the shoreline. The cove had essentially become a pool of water separated from the sea beyond the walls. As the seawalls rose, the water fell, nearly thirty feet. The sides the islands became tall, slick walls of rock and a massive cave entrance, normally below the low-tide mark, became apparent in the side of the island known as the Dragon.

The group had Targas row them up to the mouth of the cave and they peered within. Thirty feet across at the entrance, it widened once inside, the ceiling rising to, to a height of nearly one-hundred and fifty feet. Rocky paths rose on either side of the cavern to meet at the far end at a set of massive forty-foot doors that sat flush with the ceiling and ended about ten feet above the water level at the bottom. While the group took this in, they noticed three hobgoblins had made their way down to the bottom of the stone ramps and were calling to them in rough common if they were the reinforcements.

Neladrin called back to them to help out and throw a line – but the hobgoblins didn’t seem convinced and began attacking with thrown javelins. Targas pulled the oars as quickly as he could for the northernmost ramp while the others returned fire with bow and spell. Aureon charmed the single hobgoblin on the south ramp to leap in and help push the dory along while Dax and Neladrin peppered the other enemies with magic missiles, as well as a conjured celestial riding dog to nip at the hobgoblins’ heels. By the time the dory bumped up against the ramp, one of the hobgoblins resembled a pin cushion, and Aureon had charmed the third. With two charmed enemies waiting to do his bidding, Aureon ordered them to guard the dory and to practice treading water until the group returned. From the body of the dead hobgoblin and the belt pouches of the charmed ones, they recovered several useful potions.

At the top of the ramps, the group quickly examined a pair of contraptions that resembled ballistas crossed with trebuchets, and then followed a path past the massive doors. The next chamber was nearly as large as the first, and contained a fifty foot sloop lashed expertly to a stone pier. A tall, slender man dressed in finery stood at the end of the gangplank. When Targas noticed him, he roared out a challenge to “Poltur” and charged down the path towards the ship. Poltur – the man responsible for imprisoning the villagers and attempting to sell the secret of the islands to the highest bidder – laughed and ran on board, disappearing below deck.

The group made their way aboard the “Silver Reign”, and Aureon made himself invisible before scouting the cargo hold. The hold’s deck was littered with nautical gear, ropes and cargo, so it was difficult for him to move quietly. He was shot once with a small crossbow bolt from the shadows, but he did notice something moving in the forward part of the hold. Approaching invisibly, he found his quarry to be an odd smoke-coloured panther-like animal that shimmered and shifted, making it difficult to see properly. His blade coated in blue whinnis poison, Aureon approached carefully and struck – hitting an illusory image of the cat, but not the cat itself. His invisibility wore off, and the cat noticed him, striking back with feline fury.

The rest of the group charged below and Aureon was getting ripped to shreds, watching for Poltur as they dropped down the companionways at the bow and stern of the ship. Targas, Durnok and Neladrin’s conjured Lantern Archon attacked the strange smokey panther while Neladrin and Dax searched for Poltur – Dax having summoned a dog to help track the man by scent. Poltur was nowhere to be found, but Dax did hear a sound above decks and went back up to look. While he did not see Poltur, he was startled by the appearance of a ghostly spirit that only regard Dax curiously and with sadness.

Meanwhile, the rest slowly whittled down the otherworldly panther, but not before Aureon was badly injured and had retreated under the cloak of another spell of invisibility. By the time the cat fell, Neladrin had also returned above decks with Dax, who pointed out to the wizard where along the cavern wall he was hearing the footsteps of the invisible escapee. Centering a fireball in the area the sound was coming from brought no apparent results, and soon the footsteps could no longer be heard as Poltur retreated invisibly around to the other side of the chamber. The ghostly spirit vanished with the shake of his head.

Badly beaten by the shimmering Greymalkin, the companions watched as the beast’s dead body vanished in a whisp of smoke. Searching the ship, they discovered a hidden compartment inside a support stanchion. Triggering it’s door to open, Aureon and Durnok got a face full of stale burnt othur fumes and felt immediately weakened by the vapours. Inside the compartment, however, they found a beautifully crafted composite longbow and four silvered arrows covered in holy markings.

Healed by Aureon and Durnok (who had changed to his second daily vestige), the group continued, following Poltur’s tracks around the outside of the cavern, stopping briefly in what was an old barracks and was now apparently being used by Poltur and the hobgoblins (not a punk rock band from the 80’s). In the chamber they found more useful potions and some decent weapons and a handful of coins. Continuing on through the chamber, the companions travelled down a dark, steep set of stairs into a lower, dry canal which ended in a cave-in. To the side of the canal, though, was a set of ten-foot reinforced double doors and a series of three levers.

While the rest stood back, Durnok played with the levers which seemed to release a set of spikes from the ceiling when the levers were not pulled in the correct order. Finding the proper combination, the group quickly made it through the doors while the spikes were delayed by a time-release switch. The other side of the doors was a cavern which angled steeply downhill. Following the cavern (and now no longer seeing Poltur’s tracks), Targas triggered a trap which dropped two heavy stone doors behind and ahead of the group and released a torrent of sea water into the space between. The downgrade door was blocked, however, and left about two feet of open space beneath it. The water came in too quickly, though, and the chamber began to fill.

From somewhere, two sea-sworn undead soldiers appeared and attacked the group. Dax took a bad hit while the other soldier stabbed at Targas with a barnacle-covered trident. Durnok and Aureon dove under water to slide through the opening beneath the one door, but while Durnok made his way under easily, Aureon struggled – the half-elven bard had never learned how to swim. Neladrin, Dax and Targas battled the waterlogged undead while Durnok was tumbled down a steep slope and dropped unceremoniously into a round room which swirled with stagnant sea water and the fresh water coming from above. Vents in the floor prevented the room from filling. From a soaked table, two more of the undead soldiers stood and took up their weapons, and advanced on the lone binder.

Soon, Dax and Targas tumbled down into the lower chamber, the soldiers above having been dealt with. Aureon and Neladrin were still trapped in the water-filled chamber, however. The fight in the lower chamber was short lived, Neladrin escaped from the upper room, and the group found a release for the upper doors which dropped a rush of sea water, the destroyed undead, and a soaked bard into the lower pool. A collection of coin and gems were gathered from the undead’s belongings and the sodding companions continued through the caverns.

The next opening in the caverns was an old storage room. Using an unseen servant, Aureon scouted the room, looking through several open crates that contained weapons and coins, and triggered a tumble of rocks that crashed down from the ceiling. More coin and some interesting weapons were raided from the chests and crates, and the group moved on.

At a widening of the cavern, they were once again met by the spirit seen earlier on the ship, but this time he addressed them. He explained he was the grandfather of Poltur, and the one who constructed these chambers. The secret Poltur was selling was an amulet that controlled a the Terraken, a massive undead dragon turtle that had been created by a Chelish merchant decades before and which now remained trapped under the islands in a deep, dry oubliette. Poltur was attempting to find the amulet and command the cavern complex’s water elemental to flood the oubliette to free the Terraken. His plan was to then sell the amulet to Baron Vendikon – now dead at the hands of the companions. Poltur’s dead grandfather did not think Poltur would have any difficulty finding a new buyer for the control of the Terraken.

The spirit was deeply disappointed by his grandson, and knew the only way to stop him would be to kill him. When questioned, the spirit told the companions that Poltur was nearby, inside a chamber called The Fluxhold, which allowed Poltur to scry on various areas of the cavern complex. He was undoubtedly search for the amulet to control the Terraken, or perhaps attempting to find the command word to have the elemental in the Fluxhold flood the oubliette to free the Terraken. The group would have to hurry, if they were to stop him.

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The Treasure of Chimera Cove - Pt1
Something stinks... and it's not the fish.

After their successful mission in Piren’s Bluff, General Dakovya had another mission for his operatives. With information gleaned from a note and map found in Baron Vendikon’s keep, the General wanted the heroes to make their way to an old pirate camp and fishing village known as Chimera Cove. It would be a long overland trek and then more travel by boat, but the General was concerned about the note’s reference to “the terrible treasure”. The worry was that Cheliax was planning on taking control of a dangerous weapon and unleashing it on Asevea. This mission was to be run as a shadow operation – nobody was to know about it except for Dakovya and the heroes.

Dax, Neladrin and Aureon were joined by a new member of Dakovya’s troops, a human named Durno. Durno, a binder, would be a great boon to the group with his unique ability to bind with different spirits each day, giving him access to a wide variety of skills. There would be a day to relax and get some rest before the group would strike out for Korvosa (Korvosa’s coat of arms ) under the guise of going their for training. Once in Korvosa, the group would need to hire a ship to take them to Chimera Cove, a rough journey to be sure.

The journey to Korvosa, with a train of Asevean military troops and supply wagons, was slow and uneventful. The arrival in the city was a whirlwind and the group easily split off from the military train and headed for the docks in an attempt to hire a boat. They were pointed in the direction of The Rusty Spitoon, a sagging tavern on a large cantilevered section of wharf. Apparently that was where some crews and their captains spent their coppers on booze and gaming.

Aureon tried to purchase the barkeep’s finest wine, but was met with derision and asked to observe the tavern’s large collection of rum – and only rum. Snorting at this social faux pas, Aureon purchased a case of rum and loudly announced to the tavern that if someone could take he and his compatriots, first class, to Chimera Cove, he would offer the case of rum, plus another case, to the captain and crew. The first captain to come forward was a dwarf by the name of Derc Ironstone of The Adamant. He offered to take them to Chimera Cove for a final price of 7 gold per head, plus the two cases of rum. The Adamant sailed with the tide first thing in the morning, so the heroes better be on the ship or they’d be left behind.

The rest of the evening was spent at various watering holes around Korvosa, gleaning any information they could about The Adamant and Chimera Cove. After several hours, the group met where Aureon had been spending his time (a gaming house/inn called Maison des Rideaux de Rosbif) and took a room for the night.

The next morning, the group met Ironstone on the docks and they boarded The Adamant, a pot-bellied merchant trader that was in good condition, a hammer set proudly over the prow. The mate, a half-orc named Thurgh, showed the group to their cabin below (nothing more than a curtained-off area from the rest of the crew, much to Aureon’s dismay) and they set sail. The first two days were a brisk but smooth sail along the southern shore of an east-west peninsula, but as the ship passed around the horn of the peninsula and broke north for Chimera Cove, the waters roughened and the winds grew to a gale. Soon, most of the group was sickened and spending their days leaning over the lee rail, singing their guts to the seas or introducing themselves to the waves as “Ralph”.

Another two days passed before the islands of Chimera Cove came into view through the waves and fog. From the large main island, three smaller islands stood out stark and rough, the islands that gave the fishing village here it’s name, these islands being named the Lion, the Dragon and the Goat.

With the seas too rough to put into the docks at Chimera Cove, Ironstone sailed into the lee of the island and put in at a collapsing jetty opposite the small fishing village at the bottom of the bluffs on the other side. He would be sailing past again in six days, so they were to signal for him or he’d head straight on past.

As The Adamant made off, the group cautiously crept down the crumbling jetty to the beach, finding a wide trail that led up over a rise and through the brush that covered this side of the island. It wasn’t long before Dax, in the lead, found himself gummed up in something sticky and nearly invisible stretched across the pathway. Two monstrous spiders and their smaller companions raced in to munch on their catch.

The battle went quickly, with Durno taking a couple of nasty bites from the larger spiders and Dax spending most of his time trying to get out of the web. Neladrin’s fireball roasted the enemies as Aureon played his pan flute, inspiring courage in his allies. Soon the vermin were dispatched and they continued on to Chimera Cove.

On a bluff overlooking the village, they found the place oddly deserted. No smoke rose from chimneys, no boats were in the rough waters of the bay, and nobody walked the dirt streets. As they stood their looking over the scene, a lone man stepped out on to the trail behind them, filthy but wearing loose armour and a giant war axe slung on his back. He introduced himself quickly as Targas, and said he wasn’t looking for a fight, and was hoping the group was here to help free the villagers from the hobgoblins. He quickly explained that Poltur, a former resident of Chimera Cove, had returned from years being gone, and had brought with him a group of heavily armoured hobgoblins. They immediately rounded everyone up in the boathouse and Poltur left for the islands. It had been days, and Targas was concerned of the villagers’ well-being. With the groups help, they could free them all.

The group snuck down into the village and crept close to the boathouse. No windows and only a single set of double doors, the boathouse hung out over the rough water of the bay, the bottoms of boats suspended from lines inside visible under the the building that sat suspended over the water on wooden pilings. A plan formulated; Durno, with the aid of his magical Hat of Disguise, would wander close looking like an elderly villager, calling for help. She would get the doors of the boathouse open and the rest would attack.

First, though, the group grilled Targas for information. He had told them he had killed two of the hobgoblins who were patrolling and looting the village. When the group found one of the hobgoblin bodies, it had signs of blade injuries, but also had been clawed and bitten. After tensions rose and Targas was found to be hiding something, he let them in on his secret – he was cursed with lycanthropy and was a werebear. The group took this in stride, pleased to have such an intimidating brute on their side, and put their plan into action.

It went well until Durno came to the doors and they opened. A goblinoid hand shot out and grabbed him, breaking the Hat’s illusion. Before Durno could pull the hobgoblin out, the doors slammed and a beam was thrown in place to keep the door shut. Neladrin approached, and with the use of his Knock spell, they threw open the doors and Targas, in hybrid form, raced in to attack. The rest followed, Neladrin and Dax staying back to attack from range.

Durno, Aureon and Targas were thrown off by the ferocity and skill of the hobgoblins. Channeling the spirit of Paimon, Durno danced into combat and laid waste with his longspear. Targas roared his challenges and cut into the hobgoblins with his massive axe, and Aureon’s song of inspiration and stinging blade were a force to be reckoned with.

The hobgoblins did not lay down easily, however, and Targas, Durno and Aureon were all in dire straights by the time the fight ended. Well armed and armoured, the hobgoblins were the first difficult challenge for the group, and fear crept into their veins before the fight was done. Finally, though, Dax’s frost bow dropped the last enemy and they could relax.

The villages, bound inside the suspended catboats, explained to the group that Poltur was indeed trying to perform a ritual that would release a terrible danger upon the world. He had already left for the islands, and he must be stopped or Asevea will fall.

Imbibing healing potions and taking a brief break, the group prepared to head out once more.

GM’s Note:
I wanted to add some things here about this session. We had a lot of laughs, even at one point Darcy exclaiming that he had “broken” Jan, who was laughing so hard he couldn’t speak. The laughter in question was triggered by some suggestions for a brothel in Korvosa, including “The Hairy Starfish”, “The Hairy Dirt Button”, “The Hairy Bacon Sandwich” and “The House of the Roast Beef Curtains”. Though a name was never decided upon, my post above took some artistic license in giving the name of the gaming house/inn where the group stayed the night in Korvosa.

Jan, playing Aureon, was also heard to utter the words “And you all know how I love inbred midgets.”

I’d also like to say that I used to know a guy named Harry Dirtbutton, of the Connecticut Dirtbuttons. Though, we called him Harold.

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Tower of the Last Baron
Four hours in, things were exploding.

Session One
The Reclaimation of Piren’s Bluff

The session began with Neladrin, Aureon and Dax being called to stand before their commanding officer, General Dakovya, on the morning that the Asevean army was to begin their march against the Chelish-held border town of Piren’s Bluff. He explained that the baron of Piren’s Bluff was solidly on the side of Cheliax, and regardless of Asevea holding the lands around the keep, it would never be an Asevean holding with Baron Vendikon in power. The three soldiers were given the mission to infiltrate Piren’s Bluff disguised as guards of a merchant caravan ahead of the army, scout out the town’s defenses, sabotage them as they could, and ultimately get into the keep proper and capture or assassinate the baron. There were Asevean loyalists in Piren’s Bluff, and the group would need to track them down, and that they would be recognizable by sporting a sprig of mistletoe tied by a yellow ribbon.

Neladrin, Aureon and Dax arrived in Piren’s Bluff only hours before the approaching army and began investigating the town immediately. Their first stop was the local tavern, The Dead Well. Run by “Lucky” Ben Wilhuff, they could tell that Ben was upset about something, and that it had something to do with two men who were in the tavern, seemingly keeping an eye on everyone who came and went. Aurolea attempted to charm the proprietor into telling them what was going on, to no avail. However, Lucky Ben did manage to hand off a note to the trio that asked them to come back later, after lunch.

The group began to explore the town, eventually settling on investigating the local alchemist’s shop. It seemed the young alchemist was exceedingly busy bottling batch after batch of alchemist’s fire, which were then transported carefully up into the keep. The decision was made to sabotage the operation. Neladrin, an alchemist himself, knew of a way to force a container of alchemist’s fire to light prematurely. But first he would need some pure alcohol.

They ended up next door to the alchemist’s shop at the local herbalist. Hanging from the door was a sprig of mistletoe wrapped in a yellow ribbon. Identifying themselves as a forward scouting part for the Asevean army, the herbalist gave them what help she could, and said that the local blacksmith may be able to help them out as well. She was also able to provide Neladrin with a vial of alcohol.

Back at the alchemist’s shop, Neladrin distracted Argith, the alchemist, while Aureon poured alcohol into one of the empty alchemist’s fire containers. They quickly left, and returned to The Dead Well.

Once inside, they were able to have a quiet conversation with Ben, who explained that while he was not interested in politics, clearly the winning side was Asevea, and he wanted to give the group whatever help he could. All he could tell them was a strange phrase “Red Crow, White Crow”. He didn’t know what it meant, but he knew it was important to the baron and had something to do with the keep. While in the tavern, the Asevean army arrived.

Using the chaos as an opportunity to do more investigation, the group approached the blacksmith. Guards had been posted at the entrance to the smithy, who was busy stockpiling weapons and armour for the keep guards. While Aureon distracted the guards, Neladrin and Dax entered, noticing a sprig of mistletoe tied with yellow ribbon tucked into the corner of a dusty window.

Indentifying themselves, the smith was willing to help the group out with some arms and armour, a place to hide, if necessary, and also with some information that the village idiot, Bumbo, who worked at the dog yard, was more than what he seemed.

The dog yard nesteled up against the bottom of the keep’s curtain wall, and was nothing more than a shack and a rough fence. The man running the place, Tweiford Shenk, was kind enough to the undercover Asevean agents, and as they spoke, his assistant Bumbo tripped into view, insinuating himself into the conversation, asking questions about who the group was, why they were in Piren’s Bluff, all with an idiotic grin and a goofy voice. Aureon checked out Bumbo with his Detect Magic ability, and saw several auras of magic under the village idiot’s oversized cloak.

While they spoke, Dax paid attention to Shenk’s mastiffs, using his ability to speak with animals to glean information that there was some kind of hidden space underneath one of the dog houses that Bumbo retreated into every night. Aureon distracted Shenk by creating a silent image of a mastiff running down the street, and after Shenk ran off, she cast a sleep spell on Bumbo. Neladrin called the dogs off by summoning a celestial mastiff, and the group entered the dog yard, dragged Bumbo into Shenk’s shack, hogtied him and searched his sleeping form.

On him they found several enchanted items, including armour and potions, as well as a signet ring with the symbol of Cheliax upon it. While this happened, Dax investigated the doghouse and found a ladder underneath descending into darkness.

Dropping the sleeping form of Bumbo in first, the trio descended the ladder to find a dark tunnel leading to the south, under the wall of the keep. At the far end of the tunnel, two guards held positions at the bottom of a second ladder. Aureon slept them as well, slitting their throats as well as Bumbo’s.

This ladder led up into the keep’s stables, where the group took out two more guards. In the keep’s yard, they observed a wagon filled with alchemist’s fire next to a trebuchet. Using Bumbo’s potion of invisibility, Dax obtained 4 clay pots of alchemist’s fire, and then broke a fifth into what was left in the wagon.

A gout of flame shot twenty feet into the sky, blowing two guards out of a neighbouring watchtower and lighting the trebuchet aflame. Guards ran from the barracks and the keep, and under a spell of invisibility thanks to Aureola, the trio ran to the door of the keep and found it locked. When prompted for the password, Neladrin said “Red Crow, White Crow”, and the doors were opened. They slipped in, unseen.

The trio investigated a small portion of the first floor of the keep proper, taking out several guards without actually physically entering into combat themselves. As quickly as they could, they made their way to the second floor, where Neladrin cleared an entire corridor of keep guards with a well-placed fireball spell. More guards were felled with the last of the alchemist’s fire that Dax had grabbed from the wagon (the rest had been used on the way in, and on the keep’s main floor), and with the aid of Neladrin’s powerful Ring of Blink, they quickly investigated the second floor of the keep.

In the library, they uncovered what Neladrin believed to be a spell book, as well as a map and a note to the baron, speaking of despicable happenings on the coast northwest of Piren’s Bluff and a request for the baron’s aid.

The group made their way to the third floor of the keep’s turret, where they finally faced off with the baron. A skilled necromancer, the group was shocked when the man let loose with a lightning bolt, with Aureon’s deft dodging ability keeping him from taking the full brunt of the blast. With the baron were two brawny men in Chelish livery wielding poisoned falchions. Neladrin’s final fireball spell took out one of the bodyguards, and the second was felled by Dax and Aureon. The baron escaped through a dimension door before they could put an end to him.

Soon, though, Neladrin found a secret stairway at the back of the turret room and they ascended to a secret laboratory on the top floor of the turret. Here they found the baron feverishly putting the final touches on a massive flesh golem laying in the center of the room. With him was a flying red-skinned devil covered in golden runes. An attack was launched, and the baron was quickly felled by Aureon and Dax, who put his magical Rod of the Viper to good use.

Meanwhile, Neladrin was not holding well against the Crepitus demon, who later Neladrin would refer to as a “wizard eater”. The creature could resist magic, as well as bounce spell effects back on an enemy magic user. Neladrin was burned, cut and not holding up well before Aureon and Dax came to his aid, and the demon was quickly dispatched.

With proof of the baron’s death delivered to the Asevean army, the baron’s soldiers quickly abandoned their posts and surrendered to the Asevean army. The keep’s Guard Captain Blacklock contacted the invading force and offered to take command of the town and restore order in the name of Asevea—his loyalty was to Piren’s Bluff, regardless of its ruler, and he saw little need for the town to be burned to the ground in memory of one man’s hubris. The gates were opened to General Dakovya, and his army, and though the families and friends of fallen combatants still harbor some residual anger, for the most part the townsfolk and soldiers joined together in celebrating the end of aggressions.

The group made it back to General Dakovya and were lauded as the true heroes of the campaign and showered with gifts and praise. The general sent word of their deeds to the People’s Council in Almas and recommended them for honorary titles. Yet even as his men rejoiced, Dakovya moved quickly to fortify the town against the Chelish incursions through the Aspodell Pass which were undoubtedly already in motion.

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