Rising Through The Reaches

Diving into the Depths
Session Nine - April 13, 2017
Fiery debris rains down on Herrion from the sky, their point of origin a glowing red scar spreading across the cloudy sky. Your ears fill with cries of panic coming from throughout the city as people dash about, looking for some sort of escape. As well, you hear the faint sounds of battle—metallic clangs and cries of pain—slowly increasing in volume around you. You stand here, half-supporting the strange man—or creature—that also fell to the city.

 

The party spent some time arguing about whether to take the strange man to the "Cloudsire," they had learned about earlier—the large stone head near the northern gate—or to the prince's manor. Eventually, after an interjection from the strange man from the sky that the one he sought was "not of stone," the party decided seeking out the prince was the better option, despite their unease at the number of guards at the manor. The party then set off through the city, careful to avoid the main roads to keep their strange companion out of sight.

Later, as the party neared the central square where the prince's manor was situated, Ardeth—who was leading the party, primarily to keep his distance from the strange man who fell from the sky—noticed a strange scraping sound coming from one of the roofs above. At Ardeth's warning, the party stopped, and just in time—for there was some sort of foul creature none in the party had ever encountered before spread across a rooftop. The creature had translucent blue skin like that of their new companion, but that was where the similarities ended. The creature was almost formless, a blob of flesh with winding, multi-jointed limbs sprouting forth at random points. The party's companion, though still in pain, growled at the party to kill the creature before it killed them, a warning that they took to heart. 

After a very successful first firing of Harold's new, explosive, ammunition which split the strange creature into two charred and reddened blobs the party exterminated the creatures without difficulty. The creatures, after being defeated, crumbled into black dust that quickly blew away in the wind, explaining the black markings the party had seen on occasion on their way through the city. Before the last of the creatures was defeated, however, it reconfigured its shrinking form into a human head that spat out hateful words in a language that the party didn't recognize, but their strange companion did. 

At this time, the party's new companion finally introduced himself, and his situation to the party. He told the party his name was Saeyvithos darAqellim—or Saey—and he was a Cloud Dancer, a Cloudborn warden of the Sky Prison, and that the creatures that were falling from the sky and attacking the city were Cloudwraiths, creatures that hate all of those who live on the surface. With this knowledge in hand, the party continued forward in the direction of the prince's manor.

On the main road leading into the square, the party discovered a member of the city guard laying on the ground, injured. After a quick patch job by Sylthana the woman was able to explain that she had been fighting with her unit throughout the city, and that, sadly, she would not be able to help get them into the manor, her unit not being one of those set to guard it. The guard thanked the party and made her way off to return to her unit, leaving the party to finally enter the central square.

Once in the square, the party spent some time discussing their next move before Harold made the decision to approach the guards himself. After several long minutes of attempting to smooth talk the party's way into the manor, Saey joined him and was successful in convincing the captain to let the party inside. The party was then escorted into the comfortable, but not overly opulent, manor by several guards down into the basement where the prince waited in a large chamber behind a massive metal door set into stone. Inside the party found Prince Therric in conference with representatives from several other nations, including Calladai, Halaroth, and Oshnaluna. The prince, once he had gotten over the surprise of having several strangers escorted into his sanctum, explained to the party that he already knew about the Sky Prison, and that it had, at one point, been just one part of a larger whole, one that had fallen in the current location of Herrion over 1200 years earlier.

While Therric had information that helped the party he was not, in fact, the person that Saey was seeking, he claimed that Therric's blood did not "sing" to him. Therric explained that this was because he was an adopted member of his House, and that key parts of his family's genealogy had been lost in a disastrous fire some years earlier, meaning finding someone who might possibly have some way to reach the Sky Prison would be problematic. Prince Therric mentioned that there was, however, a repository of knowledge on an island in Virali Bay that had, a century earlier, fallen beneath the waves in a storm. The tower that held these documents was magically protected, so they should be preserved, but he had no way of reaching said tower. At this, Saey volunteered that he could get them down to the tower if they only had some way of reaching the part of the bay in which it lay.

At this impasse, the Calladaian representative stepped forward, mentioning that he was the captain of a ship that could take the party out to their goal. In fact, his ship was the only one at the docks that still had enough crew to set sail at this time. The party decided to take the man up on his offer and wasted no time in heading out towards the waterfront.

As the party made their way through the streets the party also noticed that the red scar in the clouds had faded to a near-invisibility with no more Cloudwraiths falling to the city. Content that the city would likely not be destroyed in their absence, the party boarded the Calladaian ship, which quickly set off across the water. While there was a brief moment where several party members—and crew members—were swept overboard by a sudden wave, the captain—named Rhothan—was able to successfully navigate to their goal in only a few hours without any deaths or any messes from Kalise.

Once anchored above their goal Saey perched himself at the bow of the ship and apologized to the party for any discomfort as his form stretched out, almost endlessly, until the entire ship was enveloped in a large sphere stretching out from Saey's still-humanoid body. Suddenly, as the sphere was completed, the entire thing suddenly plummeted down into the ocean at high speed, with water and ocean life streaming past as the ocean floor approached. Almost as suddenly as it had begun, their descent stopped, with the ship being less than a dozen feet from the edge of the Saey's "skin." Saey screwed up his face in effort and the edge of his form shifted to form a staircase that terminated at one of the leaning tower's windows, into which the party quickly entered.

Inside the tower the party discovered several floors with beds and other furniture, with scattered reading material, but it wasn't until they reached the top floor that they found something truly worth investigating. Along the wall near the entrance to the top floor the party was able to discover a loose stone in the wall that, once removed, revealed an icy blue stone that glowed a similar tone to Saey's skin—in fact, what little they could see of Saey's form out a nearby window almost seemed to be reflexively reaching to the stone as they examined it. The party pocketed this stone and continued along, discovering footsteps climbing the steps and eventually ending at the far wall on the top floor, upon which was scrawled a large rune that after a little bit of investigation the party was successfully able to decode and open, revealing a small chamber in which the desiccated corpse of a man was clutching a large tome. The party wrested the tome from the corpse—accidentally snapping off their arms—and found inside an incredibly detailed genealogy of the prince's House. They were able to determine that the corpse had been in this room for at least ten years and, going by the red powder on his fingers, had drawn the rune on the wall that had hidden this chamber from sight. As well, Ael'srill was able to discover a silver bracelet on the man's wrist that had the cold fire symbol emblazoned on it.

As the party began making ready to leave the tower suddenly began to shake around them, and water began to pool around the edges of the windows as the magic separating the party from certain doom began to break down. The party scrambled down the tower to their point of entry and leapt back out onto the Calladaian ship, upon which Saey almost immediately began their ascent, though somewhat slower, and more labored than their descent. As the ship finally breached the surface of the ocean Saey immediately snapped back to his normal form and collapsed into unconsciousness. The party arranged the Cloud Dancer into a slightly more comfortable position as Rhothan and his incredibly unsettled crew sailed the party back to Herrion, taking only slightly longer than the initial trip had taken.

Once in Herrion the party quickly made their way over the prince's manor and unloaded the large tome on one of the prince's scholars, who set out to compare it with other documents, looking for any possible living descendants that could provide some sort of method of returning to the Sky Prison and solving the current crisis.

END OF SESSION NINE
—TO BE CONTINUED


 



 

 

 

 

View
Haunting Herrion
Session Eight - April 6, 2017
The sunlight glitters as it meets the stark white walls that surround the city of Herrion. While far more compact than Valehallow, Herrion has it beat by far when it comes to verticality. The sixty-foot wall is dwarfed by glittering white towers and mansions that are visible even at this distance, you swear some of them seem to scrape at the clouds. The gates leading southward, and into the city, are wide open and seem to be waiting for your entry.

 

The party passes people find themselves to be not the only people entering the city of Herrion, with many travelers from many far-off lands also making their way into the city on the morning of their arrival. Once beyond the gates, the party found themselves in a large market square filled to the brim with stalls selling a wide variety of goods and visitors from all throughout The Reaches perusing them. As well, there were a great many guards dressed in both the grey garb of Herrion city guards, among others. At the far side of the square rested what remained of a massive black statue, the head of a grim-looking older man, large enough that were it not resting at an angle it would tower over the surrounding buildings. When pressed about the object, a young man in the square confessed that it had been there as long as anyone could remember and that it was just called "The Sire" or "The Cloudsire."

Before proceeding further into the city the party decided to make a quick stop at a stall selling various weapons. The stall was run by a gruff, but not unreasonable, woman by the name of Keelara, who provided the party with additional arms. Harold walked away with some experimental ammunition for his pistols, Kalise with some arrows that included a channel in which poison could be injected, and Ardeth with some unique knives for his growing collection.

The party continued to press forward into the city, with their ultimate destination being the warehouse near the waterfront where Eschana's goods were bound. Along the way, they stumbled across an herbalist's store, where the party spent a very strange period of time buying goods for far less than their market value from a man that seemed to be not all there. Presumably, he was also a customer.

After asking around, the party learned that shops specializing in gems and other luxury goods could be found near the prince's mansion, deeper in the city, which the party decided to visit next. Once the party arrived at the large square that housed aforementioned mansion, the party made their way to the less-impressive looking of the two stores that sold gem-related goods, but the only one that seemed to deal in gemstones rather than finished pieces of jewelry. Inside, the party encountered the shop's strange proprietor, an odd older man by the name of Olvos who talked circles around the party and sent the conversation spinning in strange directions. In fact, interacting with him—and learning that the iron ring he was carrying was some sort of promise ring—was enough to make Ardeth give up and retreat to the streets outside where he went and retrieved a couple of jobs from the local notice board: one for a local criminal and one for the elusive Shadow from the Silverwood. 

The rest of the party persisted in dealing with Olvos as the man revealed various facts about his life, including that he used to own a much larger and more successful shop before he got busted for "tax evasion" and that his wife apparently stabbed him at one point. In exchange for one of the organic crystals that Harold had retrieved from the Silverwood the man agreed to examine the stone he had found deep in the underground citadel below Valehallow. After some poking and prodding, Olvos determined that the stone was, in fact, a fossilized egg egg, with the strange markings wrapping around it being organic markings. He then polished the egg, wiping away the outer coating, making the green veins below properly visible. As to what the egg could hatch, however, Olvos had no idea, being a gem man and not an egg man.

With their business done in Olvos' shop, the party rejoined Ardeth and Eschana out in the square, where Ardeth was observing the mass of guards gathered around the prince's walled mansion. The local guards rebuffed any attempts from the party to learn what exactly was happening in Herrion, but when the party eavesdropped on a couple of Halarothian guards they learned that even they did not know why they had been carted off to the city with some sort of representative from their country. 

Not having any other business to take care of, Eschana suggested that the party finally make their way to the waterfront warehouse and finally unload her cart, to which the party agreed. After arriving at the warehouse that was Eschana's destination the party left their companion to do all the important work dealing with the owner of the warehouse to check out what ships were docked in the harbor. The party saw ships waving the flags of Calladai, Halaroth, Oshnaluna, and from the Imperial Capital of Ahraemis. One Halarothian guard was lazing about near his ship so the party decided to question him. The man revealed that even he had no clue as to why he and his compatriots had come to Herrion, only knowing that they had been ordered to do so by their captain. He did, however, know that a ship was expected from Valehallow that was running late. With nothing else the party needed from the man, they decided to rejoin Eschana.

While Ardeth was gung-ho about getting payment from Eschana for services rendered the rest of the party argued against it. While Ardeth was unconvinced he never did get around to requesting said payment from the young merchant he and the rest of the party did accept when she offered to pay for their meals and lodging at a local inn, the Golden Trout Inn. Once at this inn, the party encountered a couple of strange drunkards that compared Harold's small stature to that of a baby, among other remarks. As well, one of these men revealed himself to be a former member of the Herrion City Guard who had been fired for having sex with his captain's wife. Otherwise, this man had nothing to offer the party, proving to just be a strange distraction.

The party briefly settled into their rooms before preparing to set out to undertake other tasks, with Ardeth, in particular, wanting to pursue the local bounty he had learned about from the notice board. Moments after the party stepped outside, however, they noticed that others on the street seemed to be staring up at the sky with stunned expressions on their faces. When the party turned their collective eye upwards they saw that a large cloud in the sky seemed to be glowing red, almost as if on fire. As they watched, the cloud's glow grew more and more intense before dozens of glowing objects burst forth and descended upon Herrion. As the crowd around them began to panic, the party observed one of these objects crashing into an alley somewhere down the street. The party set off to investigate, carefully weaving their way through the thick crowd that had gathered around the inn.

In the alley, the party encountered a strange man dressed in ornate, white robes, with blue skin that seemed to be almost translucent. As the man shifted the party noticed a wicked red wound on his chest that appeared to pain him desperately. As Sylthana approached she felt the man fumbling up against her mind with some sort of magic, but whatever he was attempting failed. The strange man seemed to grow frustrated at this failure, but eventually, he began to motion Harold to approach. When Harold came within a few feet of the man—now on his feet, if somewhat unsteadily—the man exhaled a strange blue mist that filled Harold's lungs before being exhaled by Harold and inhaled by the strange man. With this strange ritual completed the man worked his mouth uselessly for a few moments, as if unused to speaking, before eventually speaking to the party in their common tongue. The man didn't provide much information to the party, simply demanding that they bring him to "the Sire" and that they needed to hurry because something called the "Sky Prison" was falling. The party decided to escort this stranger to the prince, who would be in more of a position to provide aid, despite their apprehension.

END OF SESSION EIGHT
—TO BE CONTINUED

View
Wandering the Wood
Session Seven - March 30, 2017
The morning sun shines onto the desolate town of Bellwater. Had you just arrived in town you would think it a pleasant, quaint town with its tidy buildings and well-ordered streets. Your activities the day before have proven Bellwater to be anything but, however. After taking your time to clear the streets of the products of the Scion’s foul plot your party took over one of the larger homes in the town to plan your next move. Roy volunteered to bring a missive back to Valehallow, and to Mayor Miria, while the rest of you press on through the Silverwood with Eschana, bound for the small city of Herrion. How long this motley collection of misfits will last none of you know, but you do know that it would be better to brave the dangers of the Silverwood as a group.


Mere hours after departing Bellwater the party encountered their first bit of strangeness for the journey. A strange whining sound echoing in the party's ears from somewhere off of the main trail they had been following with Eschana. Most of the party was against the idea, but eventually, Harold and Kalise decided to investigate further and were glad that they had done so because they discovered that the source of the distressing sounds was a dog—barely more than a puppy—pinned under a large branch. Kalise was able to successfully free the trapped canine, but they were still on the ground in pain. The duo called over Sylthana so she could heal the injured animal. While she struggled a bit in the task, the dog's injuries were not severe and Sylthana was able to heal them easily. The young dog proved himself quickly to be both tame and friendly, seeming to be quite happy to accompany the party back to the cart. The party quickly dubbed the dog Brusten and settled in for the next leg of their journey.

The party continued traveling until they reached a huge meadow in the center of the Silverwood. It was here that the party first made camp, setting up in as sheltered an area as they could find. After enjoying a meal of rabbits caught and cooked by Kalise and Ardeth, respectively, the party sat around the fire, preparing themselves for a night's rest when they were interrupted by Brusten growling and snarling at something hidden in the darkness. The party quickly whirled around, catching sight of three black-clad men attempting to creep up on the party—likely with ill-intent in their heart.

The party launched a volley of swift attacks that quickly incapacitated their newfound foes and Ardeth immediately led the party in interrogating the men. The party learned that they were a part of one of many bandit crews spread throughout the Silverwood, all led by a single leader, known only as The Shadow. The men had very few details they could provide the party on their crew's operations, but they did reveal that there was some sort of strange middle-aged man that lived alone in the forest, but additional details eluded them. After robbing them of all of their sharps the party decided to let the men go after they proved themselves to be blubbering cowards to the party. While not necessarily fearing retribution from those they had let go, the party still thought it prudent to move camp to another, more isolated, location before taking their rest.

Over the next several days of traveling along the main road through the Silverwood the party encountered, in various locations, small crystals placed almost randomly. These crystals emitted a light buzzing that all magic-users in the party were able to detect even from afar. On one morning, after breaking camp, the party discovered a strange bush on which a great multitude of these crystals seemed to grow from, though none of them emitted the telltale magical buzz from those they had encountered previously. Despite their best efforts, the party was only able to determine that this bush had been created by some kind of magic, but any knowledge past that eluded them. The party collected some of these crystals for themselves but eventually decided to leave it behind and continue on their way.

Later on, that same day, the party reached the bridge that would lead them to the very edge of the Silverwood, but before they could cross it they found themselves distracted by another buzzing sensation focused on a nearby cliff face. Upon examination, the party was able to determine that the cliff face itself was actually a near-perfect illusion. After probing the illusion for some time, the party heard a response from beyond: a voice calling out to them that they would open the door. Moments later the illusion was dispelled and in place of the cliff face stood a ramshackle hut, a young boy standing beyond the open doorway. The boy, Vidon, was disappointed that the party was not the return of his absent father, but it wasn't long before the boy warmed up to the party and invited them in for lunch. 

Upon entering the hut the party realized that the exterior of the building did not reflect the interior at all. Beyond the hut's threshold, the party discovered a large central chamber with several, equally large, chambers branching off from it. The center of the central chamber held a perfect scale representation of the Silverwood, and Vidon revealed that the crystals were used as a form of echolocation to keep the map accurate, which Vidon had taken to maintaining in his father's absence. The party also discovered a large bathing chamber, featuring plumbing more advanced than any in the party were familiar with, and inside the chamber, they discovered clothing emblazoned with the Coldfire symbol, the same symbol as was on the ring given to them by Eskaer. The party questioned Vidon, but all that the young boy knew about the symbol was that his father, and several of his friends, had often worn the symbol on their clothing. 

After bathing themselves—and Brusten as well, presumably—the party joined Vidon in the kitchen for a nice lunch of various foods that the boy had produced using some sort of magical pantry created by his father. Vidon revealed that his father, named Aveios, had left home almost a year ago in the company of several other people who wore the Coldfire symbol, only telling Vidon that he was leaving to "fight the good fight." Once their hunger was satisfied the party made ready to leave, passing by a large map of The Reaches on their way out. Vidon mentioned to the party that if his father had been home he could have "moved the house" and easily transported the party to various locations throughout The Reaches. 

While the party had many questions about Vidon's strange home, they still felt the need to press onward, so they bid the young boy farewell and rejoined the slightly less confusing world outside. The party's journey following this brief respite went by smoothly, after crossing the bridge and exiting the Silverwood it was a simple matter of following the road south to the city of Herrion, where the gates stood open, as if waiting for the party's arrival.


END OF SESSION SEVEN
—TO BE CONTINUED



 

View
Braving Bellwater
Session Six - March 23, 2017

The tension in the common room of the Bellwater Inn is almost palpable. The sounds from outside seem to have been silenced and the only thing you hear is the grating sound that Temmond’s dirty rag makes as it fruitlessly wipes at the counter, repeated again and again. The only light in the common room is that provided by a single light fixture hanging above, as the large fireplace remains cold and the sun outside has finally set, making the scene altogether more sinister.
 


In vain the party attempted to interact with Temmond, but the man continued to repeat a handful of phrases without any hint that he understood the party's words. After several minutes of this, the party gave up and decided to explore the rest of the inn, in search of any hint as to what was going on. Upstairs the party found four dusty, but completely empty, bedrooms. Eschana arrived in the midst of the party's search and revealed that the stablehand was in the same state as the innkeeper. The party also discovered a small kitchen pantry still full of preserved food downstairs. Not willing to risk sleeping outside in the Silverwood the party set up a rotating watch and settled down for the night in the rooms upstairs.

Sometime during Ardeth's watch, he began to detect a faint humming coming from somewhere to the north that drew his undivided attention. Once the humming had faded away and he was able to think freely again Ardeth decided to keep this event to himself, deeming it unimportant.

It wasn't long before the sun rose and the party found themselves preparing to push forward to Bellwater proper. After checking in once more with Temmond to make sure he hadn't grown more lively during the night and ransacking the kitchen for supplies the party set off down the road northward. The road to Bellwater revealed itself to be extremely quiet, with even the sounds of animals sounding far-off. As the cart continued down the road Ardeth once again found his skull reverberating with the almost pleasant hum coming from the direction of Bellwater. This time, however, the hum was accompanied by faint whispers that Ardeth couldn't decipher. Once again, however, he felt that this event was of no consequence and did not mention it to the party. As the party closed in on Bellwater these whispers grew in volume until he could make out the words: "Welcome home, be reborn, come to me," repeated again and again. Harold and Kalise noticed Ardeth's reverie but passed it off as Ardeth being his usual taciturn self.

Eventually, the party arrived at the wide-open gate leading into Bellwater and beyond it a barren street that obviously hadn't seen traffic in a long time. Once the party pushed farther into the town, however, they discovered the town's inhabitants to be alive and well—at least on a surface level. Once the party attempted to converse with these people they realized that they suffered from the same affliction as Temmond the innkeeper and his stablehand. The party continued through the town until they arrived at what was likely the largest—and most important—building in town. The party quickly discovered that the door to the building was locked and they collectively looked to Ardeth for assistance in picking it. Ardeth, however, was distracted and had difficulty understanding the party. Just when the party began to catch onto what was going on with Ardeth the man bolted away, heading deeper into town. The rest of the party chased in pursuit, leaving Eschana and her cart behind. 

The party eventually catches up to Ardeth at the entrance to a ragged, faded tent set up in a large common square. Ardeth finally mustered the mental strength to force himself to tell the party what he's been dealing with for the last few hours. During this conversation, several of the near-mindless townspeople begin shuffling close, surrounding the party—almost ushering them into the tent. As this happens Ardeth once again takes off into the tent, jumping down into a crude pit that has been dug into the dirt floor. The rest of the party quickly follow him into the pit, though perhaps a bit more carefully.

The bottom of the pit was filled with the scattered remains of other tents that have been crudely piled, possibly for this exact purpose. And the pit led into a tunnel crudely carved out of stone and dirt that extended into the darkness. Kalise lit several torches as she had done during their previous underground excursion and handed them out to the party members, preparing for some exploration.

Ardeth was growing more and more frantic, while he was in control of his thoughts and his body at the moment he feared that at any moment that would be taken away again. Before the party could make any concrete plans on how to proceed Ardeth's fears were proven right as he found himself knocking past his companions at a breakneck pace, heading into the darkness. The party chased Ardeth as far as they could, but eventually, they found themselves at a fork in the tunnel, with Ardeth's footsteps being so faint that they could be coming from either path. The party was quick in deciding to split up, not wanting to risk Ardeth stumbling into the clutches of whatever person or creature was causing all of this. 

Down one path Ael'srill and Kalise eventually encountered a large pool of a strange green fluid that seemed to have the same viscosity of water. When they dropped a torch in the pool to check if the liquid was flammable or not they discovered that the torch sunk very slowly into the liquid and did not go out. In fact, it illuminated a strange, round stone at the center of the pool that they could not see before. Ael'srill used their telekinetic abilities to remove it from the pool to investigate it later. They then continued forward down the only path available.

Down the other path Harold, Roy, and Sylthana found themselves traversing a far more regular tunnel as if made by tools rather than claws. Eventually, they found a door leading into a square chamber that seemed at odds with their surroundings. Inside the chamber were five corpses—all missing the back of their skulls—and five small insect-like creatures that shied away from the party members when they approached. Set into the ceiling was a strange magical device emitting light that Roy was able to determine was an ancient magical device used for raising and lowering things, and that it had been last used to raise this chamber. Not wanting to waste much more time they continued along the path, taking note that it was obvious that something had, in the past, been dragged from this chamber deeper on into the tunnel.

At this point the party rejoined, as both passages terminated in the same location, with a third pathway leading to where Ardeth must have gone. Down the final passage, Ardeth had regained enough of himself to slow his walk to a mere shuffle. As well, upon hearing the party's approach he began to call out to them, spurring them on to their final destination. The party found Ardeth at the entrance to a large chamber with something lurking in the darkness that almost seemed to absorb the light. The party planned to split up, with half remaining back to hold Ardeth from continuing forward, and half continuing to investigate, but in the shuffle Ardeth was once again compelled to rush onward, stopping at the edge of a cliff, only feet away from what they were seeking. 

By the time the party had regathered with Ardeth the form in front of them began to shift about, as if awakening. Before they could do anything, six monstrously large eyes blinked in front of them, emitting a powerful red light that illuminated the head of a giant creature the party did not recognize. The creature shared features with insects, crabs, and scorpions, but what the party found their gaze drawn to most was the creature's terrifying, open mouth. The mouth was ringed by innumerable needle-thin teeth and seemed large enough to fit a dozen people with room to spare. Worst of all, however, was that each of them was beginning to hear a small voice in the back of their mind telling them to jump in.

The creature, at this time, began to speak to the party via the telepathy that it had used to compel Ardeth to this point. It introduced itself as the Scion of the Brood and claimed that "all will become one with the Brood," including the party members. The party continued to press the creature and learned that the Brood was not a new menace, but one that had been beaten long ago and just reawakened. It claimed that the one who woke it up taught them to "sing" and had taken their daughter's far away. Eventually, the creature tired of conversation, and redoubled its efforts at control, attempting to force them to leap to their probable demise. 

The party was successful at shaking off this first assault and the Scion finally noticed that the stone the party was now carrying. It grew agitated and the party responded by attempting several times to smash the stone, causing the creature great distress. The stone grew heavily cracked and began to leak green light from its cracks, but eventually, the stone slipped away from their grip and tumbled away into the dark pit where most of the creature's form hid. At this, the creature turned again to attempt to control the party, succeeding in making Harold and Roy so enamored with the idea of joining the Brood that they attempted to make running leaps for her wide-open mouth. Harold was able to be restrained but Roy made his leap successfully and Ardeth was narrowly able to catch him by the wrist and drag him back up the ledge before things got any worse and the party finally set about trying to fight the creature.

The first few attempts at outright attacks failed to come close to hitting the Scion, and Ardeth found himself pinned under one of the creature's large claws, which could have spelled the party's doom were it not for Harold's quick thinking. Still feeling the aftereffects of the Scion's control Harold used those feelings to fuel his conversational skills to sweet talk the creature, putting the creature off guard and distracting it long enough for the rest of the party to nail some truly devastating blows, sending black ichor spewing forth from the creature's surprisingly frail form. It wasn't long before a final blow was struck and the creature crumpled pathetically into the pit below, causing Harold to shed a single tear of perplexing sorrow.

Ael'srill quickly retrieved the stone from below, careful not to touch it now that it was coated in the Scion's black ichor. Roy determined that this stone was a magical catalyst intended to change materials touching it, which was proven true as the party observed the ichor slowly slough off the stone, turning into that strange green fluid Ael'srill and Kalise had spotted earlier. 

The party backtracked to the square chamber from earlier in an attempt to use it to return to the surface but they could not make the ancient mechanism function so they pushed on to the point at which they had descended. In the pile of tents they had jumped into earlier they were able to find a crudely-made ladder constructed of tent poles and sticks that had gotten buried and the party set about using it to ascend back to ground level. 

With the townspeople that had gathered around the tent having dispersed in the interim the party set about investigating the town once again, to check for any changes. Once they had reconvened with Eschana she told the party that things had not changed drastically since they had all run off. She did mention, however, that she had spotted one of the townspeople convulse and collapse in an alley nearby, but had been too afraid to investigate. 

In the alley pointed out by Eschana the party discovered the corpse of a young man with the back of his skull blown out and a trail of blood leading into a nearby home. Inside the building, the party discovered another of those small insect-like creatures skittering around fearfully, which the party took out easily. There was nothing inside the building to suggest it was important in any way, so they decided that the creature had taken refuge inside out of convenience more than anything. 

The party checked back in with the building they had been investigating before Ardeth's episode and finally had Ardeth pick the lock so they could see what was inside. In one of the building's offices they found a middle-aged man dead in a chair, killed by a self-inflicted dagger wound, and several sheets of paper with writing on a desk. The papers revealed that a stranger wearing red and white robes had come into Bellwater some time before the harvest festival and offered his services in setting things up, at no pay. This, along with information the party had gathered up to this point, suggested to the party that there was no one left in Bellwater for them to save. That all the people they had encountered up to now had been victim to what had almost been their fate underground, joining the Brood. 

Solemnly, the party set about the grim task of killing the creatures that now roamed the town, as they were not people, and leaving them to live as they were was more dangerous than the alternative. This done, the party settled in to stay the night in the town, needing a rest after the long day they had been through.

END OF SESSION SIX
—TO BE CONTINUED

 

View
Sightseeing in the Silverwood
Session Five - March 16, 2017
While all of you have certainly had more comfortable rests you cannot recall a more restful one. Almost dying and then being temporarily imprisoned for the better part of a day can apparently do that. Whatever the case, the six of you awaken as the first hints of morning sunlight begin to stream through the curtained windows of Ali’s home. 


The party wasted little time in making their preparations to leave. The only reason they were not out the door sooner was the arrival of Ali's mother, Daraya. Daraya fetched a portrait of her teenaged son, Rogin, and gave it to the party so that they might recognize him if they were to happen across him in their travels. The party promised to keep an eye out, but weren't confident that this search would ever bear fruit. The party, not wanting to prolong their departure, bid Daraya farewell and left to make their way to the ferry docks.

The docks were still quiet when the party arrived, with only one ferry accepting passengers. The ferry set off from Valehallow without much dallying, and carriedits passengers to a rather small dock on the other side of the Ahraem River. While onboard the ferry the party had a rather colorful encounter with an elven drunkard—who Ardeth proceeded to rob—but otherwise the journey passed by without incident. 

Not wasting any time the party proceeded down the single trail that led into the Silverwood from the dock area, taking care to keep an eye out for any bandits or other unpleasantness. After several hours of this the party began to hear worrying creaking sounds from further ahead. The party crept forward slowly until they reached the source of these sounds, a large cart that took up the entirety of the trail. Before they could investigate for themselves a timid voice called out, asking if the party was bandits. Harold tried to play along and claim that they were, in fact, bandits, but the woman disbelieved and eventually the party conceded that they were not bandits. She told the party that her name was Eschana and that she was a merchant who was making her way through the Silverwood to avoid going all the way around but was growing paranoid thanks to the stories of bandits filling the forest.

The party asked if Eschana would be willing to give the party a ride, at least as far as Bellwater, to which she quickly agreed, thankful for the protection they would offer. The group continued along the trail for several hours more, engaging in idle chit-chat—or grim silence, in Ardeth's case. It wasn't long before the party encountered their first sign of some sort of strangeness. In this case it came in the form of a corpse along the side of the road—a young man with the back of his skull, and a not-insignificant portion of his back, completely missing. From all appearances, the man seemed to have only been dead a few days and in searching for any form of identification the party was only able to find a small coin purse filled with small stones rather than sharps.

At this juncture, Ael'srill decided to use their abilities to make contact with this dead man's spirit to expedite the party's investigation. With a little prodding, Ael'srill was able to reach the spirit and draw it into themselves so it could speak using their body. While the spirit was understandably confused by his current situation the party was able to glean some information from him. The man was named Kairos and was a tanner from the town of Bellwater where he lived with his sister, Kionne. His last memories were of going to bed the night before the harvest festival some five months prior. He remarked that he hadn't gone to the inn outside of the village with his friends, but otherwise there was nothing strange about that night that he could recall. He also admitted that he didn't know anything about why his body had a coinpurse full of stones. Deciding that they had all the information that they could get from the young man's spirit they bade him farewell, but not before promising him that they would see his body buried. Not having the tools to dig the man a grave, they piled stones over the body as best they could and continued on their way, with more questions than answers.

Later that day the party spotted a humanoid figure crouched in a tree quite a distance away that gave them pause. After some hurried discussion and quick decisions, Kalise fired a single arrow at the figure, striking home and sending them crashing to the ground, dead.

The party continued forward, more slowly now that they realized they could be walking into a trap. As they approached a bend in the trail several cloaked figures appeared behind them, pulling ropes that dropped several large logs onto the trail, preventing their retreat. These figures then melted back into the surrounding forest, leaving the party alone. Having few alternatives the party decided to continue forward with weapons ready, as prepared as they could be for what might be ahead. The party carefully rounded the bend and found themselves confronted by a group of three men—presumably bandits—with their backs to them, chatting amongst themselves. Wasting little time the party engaged the group in ranged combat, quickly taking out two of them and sending the third fleeing into the woods.

While puzzled at how poorly thought out this trap had been the party nonetheless set about ransacking the camp. Most interestingly the party found a locked chest in the largest and nicest of the tents, the party decided it would be best to take the chest with them and try to open it later, and retreated to the cart. Back at the cart, however, they encountered a bearded man, leaning casually against it. The man seemed unconcerned at the party's apprehension and even their threats, treating them like old friends rather than strangers. The man revealed his name to be Novoi and he noted the chest they were carrying, giving them detailed instructions on where they could find its key. When pressed on why he knew this Novoi brushed it aside and refused to give a straight answer. At some point Roy realized that Novoi's beard was, in fact, fake and proceeded to rip it from his face, revealing him to be much younger than they had initially assumed. Novoi seemed somewhat miffed, but—if anything—more amused at the situation. Harold then demanded Novoi hand over his scarf, which he did after only a little prodding, revealed a wicked scar running around his neck. Eventually, the party was able to extricate themselves from Novoi, but not before he asked them if any of the men they had fought had escaped, to which they admitted one had. 

The party continued along the trail, keeping an eye out for any more interruptions. As they closed in on their destination they found themselves near a landmark that matched the description provided by Novoi of the location of the chest's key. Novoi's words were proven true when the party found the key in the exact location as described, which they wasted no time in using, opening up their prize from the bandit encampment. Inside the chest the party was able to find 41 sharps, 5 strange iron ingots, and two seemingly blank letters bearing a stylized 'N' at the bottom as a crest.

At this point, the sun was hanging very low in the sky and the party was growing tired, but they pushed on, knowing they weren't far now from the village's outskirts. Within a few minutes, the party found themselves at the front door of a large building, which they realized must be the inn that had been described to them previously. While Eschana saw about getting her horse settled into the stable the party entered the inn to see about getting some rooms and a meal.

Inside the inn, the innkeeper Temmond stood behind the counter, distractedly polishing the same spot with a dirty rag, even as the party approached. Whenever prompted by the party the man would respond with some variation of the phrase "Welcome to the Bellwater Inn, can I get you a room?" but never moved from his position behind the counter. It seems that the mystery of Bellwater would not be solved as easily as the party might have hoped…


END OF SESSION FIVE
—TO BE CONTINUED






 

 

View
Traipsing through Town
Session Four - March 9 2017
You emerge from the magistrate’s office—map and documents in hand—and find yourself on a quiet street corner, brightly lit by the afternoon sun. Scattered about are members of the Valehallow militia—wearing green and red uniforms—that have obviously convinced the crowds you spotted through the window earlier to disperse, meaning the freedom of the streets is now yours.



Not in any rush to begin their service for Mayor Miria the party decided to first shop around town for some supplies. Their first stop was a small, somewhat shabby, tailor shop by the name of Fedorric's Fashions in which Harold purchased a dark blue cloak. He was able to haggle the price of the cloak down quite a bit by agreeing to wear a button advertising the tailor shop around town. Kalise attempted to ask some of the locals where she could find some sort of jewelry and accessory store but had no luck with the wizened old person she found herself in conversation with—she decided to try asking someone a little more aware of the world around them.

Ardeth and Sylthana had more luck in their mercantile adventures, finding a stall selling herbs in the  town square. Ardeth purchased a satchel of various Calladaian spices, and he was so pleased with this find that he did not even attempt to haggle with the owner of the stall. Sylthana, on the other hand, purchased some ingredients that, with a bit of skill, could be brewed into three or four healing potions.

Roy had some luck as well, finding a large pottery shop with a large number of apprentices being overseen by a stern master. Roy approached the master, intending to purchase enough clay to produce a decently-large—approximately three foot tall—golem. The master, however, revealed that he had a distaste for golemancers and cared far more about selling to those who would produce vases, pots, and other items of that nature. Sensing this, Roy spun a tale about how his companion Harold was looking to become a potter of this sort, and was able to purchase the clay for a good price. Roy told Harold about this tale, and asked him to remember it in case they ever encountered the master again, but Harold didn't seem entirely sold on the tale.

While traversing the town in the general direction of the richer quarter the party found themselves sharing the street with a young bard busking rather poorly. Most of the party ignored this young man and continued along the street, but Kalise, taking pity on the man, tossed a single sharp into the lute case laid on the ground. This sent the bard into a fit of tearful gratitude, as he sputtered words of thanks and affection to Kalise. He revealed that his name was Fiddi and that he was busking here because his uncle—the owner of a rather large jewelry store several blocks away—had driven him away thanks to his poor playing. Offering some final words of encouragement to the young bard Kalise rejoined the party as they continued down the street, towards the shop owned by Fiddi's uncle.

The shop the party found themselves in could better be described as an emporium for the great many fine pieces of jewelry and other expensive items contained within. Almost immediately after entering the party was set upon by the owner, Fiddi's uncle Iridon. Ardeth started conversing with the rotund Iridon first, looking to sell the heirloom he had convinced Hada to part with as payment several days earlier. The initial offers from Iridon were insultingly low, and after a few traditional back-and-forth offers Ardeth grew impatient and decided to try scaring the shopkeeper into offering a more fair price. The price eventually settled on was more than fair, including all of the sharps that Iridon currently had on his person, and a much less expensive iron ring he wore on his finger. He would have given more, had he not been more frightened of what his wife might think than he was of Ardeth's veiled threats of violence. Not wanting to break the man any more than Ardeth already had, Kalise bought a simple, but finely made, silverwood barrette at asking price. The party then left the shop, but not before Kalise asked the man to reconsider letting his nephew play in front of the store again.

Evening was settling over Valehallow so the party decided now would be a good time to check in with Ali, and make that soup recipe she had been so interested in. The party purchased the necessary ingredients on their way and it wasn't long before they found themselves in the middle of the goblin quarter by the river. Ali's home was a small, but comfortable, home beside a large headless statue of what is presumably a goblin man. The party knocked on the front door for several minutes with no answer and, fearing the worst, they opened the door. Their fears seemed to be realized when upon opening the door they were confronted with a dark red stain in the center of the floor.

Before the party could panic overmuch, however, Ali appeared on the stairs, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She explained that she had been painting earlier and had accidentally spilled some on the floor. Her mother was currently out in the market fetching some cleaning supplies and Ali had decided to take a nap while she waited. Ali ushered the party in without much hesitation, quickly presenting the party with the results of her earlier efforts. She had painted a group portrait of the party—including both Ali and Eskaer—entirely in red paint. The party's collective heart grew three sizes that day so they asked Ali to show them into the kitchen so they could prepare the meal. There was already bread set to rise in the kitchen so the party only had to focus on the soup itself. Ardeth took charge for this task, making sure that the party correctly peeled the potatoes among other tasks. Roy, against Sylthana's wishes, allowed Ali to peel a single potato, which she did rather poorly but with all fingers intact. At this point Ali grew bored with the preparations and asked the party if they wanted to play outside, which the majority of the party agreed to, leaving Ardeth to cook the soup alone—as was his preference.

The party played with Ali for the better part of an hour before her mother arrived home, cleaning supplies in tow. She introduced herself as Daraya and thanked the party for saving her daughter's life. She was so pleased with them that even learning that they had allowed Ali to handle a knife only concerned her for a moment. When Ali was out of earshot, however, she asked the party if they had spotted her son Rogin while they were below. Upon hearing that they had not spotted him she appeared to the party to be both relieved and disappointed, but she left things at that.

Eventually Ardeth had finished his work in the kitchen and called to everyone that it was time to eat. The party then shared a rather enjoyable meal with Ali and her mother, talking about nothing in particular until Daraya eventually retired to do something about that red paint in the hallway, which Roy followed to assist with. With her mother out of earshot Ali began to request that the party take her with them when they left town the next day, rationalizing that she was much smaller than her brother so her parents would not miss her as much. The party, agreeing wholeheartedly on something for perhaps the first time ever, told her that she absolutely could not come with them. They did, however, agree to come visit when they could, perhaps with souvenirs. 

With the disaster of the hallway dealt with Daraya returned to the kitchen and began making preparations for settling down for the night. While the home didn't have a whole lot of space she did bring down a large number of blankets and pillows for the party to use in the large hallway. The party finished cleaning up from dinner and prepared themselves for sleep, as ready as they could be for the next stage of their adventure.

END OF SESSION FOUR
—TO BE CONTINUED

View
Defeat and Departures
Session Three - March 2, 2017
The bench upon which the six of you sit seems to grow harder by the moment and the room grows ever colder but you’re nearing the end of your tale. The magistrate is now leaning forward so far he is almost doubled over on the tabletop – which you would find more amusing if this man was not the sole arbiter of your fate. The man reaches up with a hand to brush a stray strand of hair from his face but says nothing, trusting your party to continue with their tale. And so you do…

The six of you stand before the waiting maw that is the entrance to the final passage. The red glow up ahead reminds you of blood and fire, and the shadows cast by it seem to linger longer than seems possible. Those of you with arcane abilities feel the power of the magical energies at work here pressing uncomfortably upon your skin—whatever is happening in there will reach its climax very soon. 

 

Not wanting to risk waiting any longer the party immediately continue down the hall in front of them. They discover that the hallway is of solid black stone covered in vibrant blue runes that in many places have been defaced with a glowing red chalk. The hall's floors are covered with black dust and large, irregular stones and the ceiling of the hall is and indeterminate distance above, leading the party to the conclusion that until recently this hall had been hidden thanks to some sort of cave-in in the past.  Eventually, the party discovers a small side-chamber along the hall that contains a pump on its ceiling that links to an aquifer somewhere between the citadel and Valehallow itself.

It isn't long before the party reaches their destination, the open stone door at the hall's end that emits a powerful red glow and is the source of the strange chanting they have been hearing. After quickly ensuring that Ali is a safe distance away, in case anything were to go awry, the party approaches the door and takes their first look at what it is they have found themselves opposing.

Inside the chamber, the party discovers a group of ten robed fingers standing in a ring atop an intricate, glowing blue seal that is inlaid on the black floor. The figures wear white robes covered in red runes and the figure with the most intricately decorated robe stands at the center of the circle. The parties watch as the robed figures chant in a strange tongue of which they are only able to pick out one word, Averaak—which is a general term for a great evil that exists in many ancient languages. The magical energies at work in this room are visible even to those in the party that have no talent for magic, like Ardeth and Harold. The energies find their nexus with the central figure and as the party begins trying to decide their next move the energies reach a peak and suddenly three of the figures are twisted and compressed by the energies at work, eventually dissolving into nothing but pure magic which proceeds to infuse the central figure. This results in a huge flash of red light which temporarily blinds the party and sends them reeling.

After recovering from this the party tries to approach the cultists, who are so enraptured by their chanting that they are incapable of noticing them. They discover that they are prevented from approaching too closely, however, due to some sort of magical barrier that has formed itself around the circle. Wasting little time Kalise attempted to breach the barrier using a blast of fire but the spell's energies were only added to those already at work. Harold also made an attempt at shooting the central figure but was unable to make the shot. At this time history repeated itself and the party watched as three more of their opponents dissolved into energy and flooded into their leader. At this time the blue light of the run atop which these figures stood was beginning to fade and the party realized they were running out of time.

Quickly devising a new plan the party pooled together the gunpowder they had retrieved earlier in their adventure and used it to trace a wide circle around the barrier. Before the party could take their next step the final three members of the circle disappeared and infused their leader and the rune at their feet suddenly went dark and began to crack. Hoping to prevent things from proceeding any further the party quickly lit the gunpowder and dived back into the hallway to take cover. And not a moment too soon, for moments later a deafening roar filled their ears and the entire citadel seemed to shake as the powder detonated.

After the smoke began to clear the party cautiously made their way back into the room and found that while the explosion had dispelled the barrier the leader of the cultists was still standing. Burned beyond recognition with his robes hanging in tatters around him, but still standing. The man gazed at the party as the rune at his feet continued to crack and made ready to speak. Before any words could be said, however, Harold quickly took aim and fired a single shot that blew through the man's chest. The man became unsteady and blood began to spill from his mouth but still, he did not fall.

Only moments after Harold's devastating shot a red fog begin to slowly drift out of the cracks at this man's feet, filling his mouth and nostrils until it disappeared. The man cracked a sudden smile and the party watched in disbelief as his burns began to heal and the gaping hole in his chest started knitting itself together again. Eventually the party was left standing in front of a handsome young man with a mocking grin on his face and something dark in his eyes. The man made no move to attack the party, seeming to be more amused at what had already transpired than anything.

Eventually, the party cautiously attempted to probe the man in front of them for information. The only concrete fact the party was able to glean from this was that the stones left behind with the robes of the nine other cultists were the key to escape. Otherwise, he remained cryptic. He seemed amused when the characters asked after Dalayn and also when they asked him if he was Averaak. After some time, however, he seemed to grow bored with the party and waved a hand to summon a strange black door that led out into a sea of nothingness and sending a blast of fire up toward the ceiling, and presumably beyond, with a wicked smile on his face. As the man did this the party was able to see the man almost cast three magical shadows behind him, but they flickered out of existence almost before they could be seen. Once done with this little pyrotechnics display the man bid the party farewell before disappearing through his doorway, which promptly disappeared as well.

The structure around the party began to shake in distress but before the party could begin to figure out how the stones that Roy had gathered up functioned a voice spoke clearly, but weakly, in their mind. It was the lich they had met up above ordering them to return to him, with runes along the citadel's walls lighting up to lead them back. The party gathered up Ali and wasted no time making their way back to the lich's throne room.

The party discovered the lich to be in dire straits when they arrived in his throne room. His form appeared to be cracking and crumbling apart, and the light in his eyes was quickly fading. The lich petitioned the party to seek out "those who wear the symbol of the Coldfire," and presented them with his ring—which revealed itself to be emblazoned with the symbol of a blue flame with a star at its heart. He also tells them that, while there are none alive to remember or care, his name was Eskaer when he still lived.

With little magic left to sustain him, Eskaer continues by telling the party that while their involvement in the current situation might seem random they have been tangled up in it for much longer. At this time Eskaer's form deteriorated to the point that he could no longer speak, but he leaves each member with a final message that he tells them directly, telepathically. He also promises to guide them to their exit point before crumbling into nothing, with the last dregs of his energies leading them to one of the citadel's magical exits and bidding them his final farewell.

The party—Ali in tow—concentrates on the rune lightly scratched into the wall that matches one of the stones they took from below and with very little effort are able to teleport out of the citadel, appearing on a darkened field just outside of Valehallow. Looking around to determine their exact location the party discovers the glow of a fire just over a nearby ridge and quickly find themselves confronted by the still-burning remains of the mayor's mansion, with a fire brigade hard at work to contain the blaze. The party speaks to one of the members of this fire brigade and learn that they are the primary suspects and, not wanting to answer some awkward questions, the party attempt to make a quick exit. They are recognized, however, by another member of the fire brigade—the party's old friend Hada! Hada proceeds to loudly make the party's presence known to all in the region, which draws the immediate attention of Kensa and a large collection of her militiamen. The party quickly surrenders against these odds and allow themselves to be escorted away, with Ali being ushered off by others—to be returned to her parents.

It is here that the party ends their tale to the magistrate, having mostly caught up to their current predicament—sans an uncomfortable night sleeping on the hard beds offered in their cell. Surprisingly, the magistrate believes the party's story wholeheartedly but isn't sure if the mayor will be as open to listen. He promises that he will plead their case to the mayor, but since it was her home that burned down it will be up to her on how the situation is handled. Some time later the magistrate returns with the mayor, who speaks with the party in private. First, she asks them to examine the portrait in her locket and asks if the man they encountered below and the main in the portrait are the same. The party is able to quickly determine that that is indeed the case and tells the mayor that it is so, which she takes rather well considering it means her son was some sort of cult leader and is now possessed of some sort of dark power.

Miria quickly moves onto other subjects, telling the party that while half of the town believes they are arsons the other half believe Ali's fantastical tales of their actions in the citadel below. In order to placate those that disbelieve them she requests that the party does some sort of service for the Valehallow region, which they agree to readily. The party signs the necessary forms and contracts to get their belongings back and work on their task as official agents of Miria and take their leave.

The task that the party has been given is to make their way to the town of Bellwater across the Ahraem River and determine why no news has been heard from them in over a month. The journey is expected to take about a day but with bandits and beasts aplenty travel through the Silverwood is treacherous even for the most battle-hardened. 

END OF SESSION THREE
—TO BE CONTINUED

 

 

 

View
Descending into Darkness
Session Two - February 23, 2017

The hours pass as your group tells the magistrate your tale. You tell him of your tomfoolery at the inn, of your dealings with Hada and the investigation that followed. Throughout the telling he makes no attempt to interrupt or probe further, only occasionally squinting his eyes—sending flashes of bright energies through the tattoos that surround them—as if attempting to discern any falsehoods. At some point attendants bring food and drink out and lay them out on the table, but it has gone untouched so far. As your tale reaches the strange teleportation circle found in Dalayn’s chambers in the mayor’s mansion the magistrate motions for the group to pause, rubbing his chin thoughtfully with a gloved hand. The six of you take this brief opportunity to sate your hunger and quench your thirst, but eventually the magistrate once again focuses his gaze on each of you in turn. “Continue,” he says simply, and leans back to take in the next portion of your tale.

None of you have ever teleported before. At least, not like this. Darkness surrounds and consumes you and unseen claws reach through the skin and tear at your soul, ripping you apart piece by piece and then roughly reassembling you elsewhere. Just when each of you think you can take no more, that surely this must be the end of you, it ends. The claws withdraw and leave you whole again. The darkness, however, does not abate.

 

The party's tale picks up as they stumble about in a pitch black stone chamber. After some quick thinking Kalise is able to use her elemental magic to turn one of her arrows into a makeshift torch. Using the slight illumination offered by this torch the group was able to determine that they were definitely in some sort of underground complex, but the exit had been buried beneath centuries of cave-ins, meaning there was only one possible direction for them to head in. The direction the party found themselves heading in was also the source of some rather distressing noises, however, so the party moved forward with some trepidation, not wanting to stumble into something if they didn't have to.

As the party moved forward—after having Kalise produce a couple more makeshift torches—they eventually found themselves navigating a much more well-preserved hall. Their first discovery was a large stone door cut from stone from a far-off region of The Reaches. The party passed on attempting to open the door at the moment, however, and moved farther down the hall, finding a set of stairs that led deeper into the complex and a storage room just off from the main hall.

In this storage room, the party found a stash of supplies that had been placed in the room very recently. The supplies consisted of a variety of basic weapons and arrows and, more importantly, several large sacks full of black powder, that Harold recognized from his experience with firearms. Roy grabbed one of the swords scattered around for a little additional protection and the party collectively carried the hefty sacks away—taking care, of course, to keep them away from their torches.

At this point, the party eschewed descending deeper into the depths and instead doubled back to the locked door they had encountered earlier. Making quick work of the door's lock Ardeth ushered the party past the door, which revealed itself to be a large, circular chamber with murals depicting fanciful battles and other subjects adorning its walls. Most interestingly, however, was the large stone throne in the center of the room upon which rested a crowned skeleton wearing a simple silver ring. After determining that the ring was not of any particular value the party had Ael'srill attempt to commune with the skeleton using their abilities as a medium.

Rather than a spirit appearing before the party, as was expected, the skeleton itself began to shift and rise after Ael'srill's efforts. Perhaps hoping to stop this unsettling development before anything more could happen Harold immediately stepped forward and struck the skeleton with the sack of black powder he carried. However, this had the complete opposite effect. Rather than flying apart or crumbling to dust as one would expect from a pile of centuries-old bones, the skeleton's eyes erupted with a cold blue fire and its hand reached out and lifted Harold off the ground by the throat. The party made several attempts at forcing the skeleton—now properly revealed to be a lich—to release Harold that only ended in injury and embarrassment before Kalise stepped forward and attempted to barter with them.

The lich found this attempt amusing and with a little coaxing eventually released his hold on both Ardeth's sword and Harold's throat, deigning now to speak with the party. The lich was gruff and secretive but the party was able to learn a few facts from him. The lich revealed that the citadel they were currently in was ruled by the lich and that the lich's purpose was to keep something locked away—no more details on what exactly was locked away were forthcoming. They were also able to learn that the lich was not the legendary Prince Dalayn, nor were they the person depicted on the murals on the room's walls.

Before the party could get more information or extricate themselves from the situation the lich suddenly doubled over in effort and pain, the fires in their eyes becoming uneven and occasionally even burning out. The lich immediately demanded if the party was responsible for what was happening below, and when the party revealed that they had no idea what was going on elsewhere in the citadel the lich charged the group with stopping whoever was below from breaking the seal on whatever was imprisoned down there, lest they all die.

Not exactly being fans of dying painfully the party agreed to the lich's demands and hurriedly left the lich's throne chamber and descended into the depths of the citadel. Upon reaching the foot of the stairs the party found themselves at the mouth of several branching paths, down one of which they could hear the sounds they had been hearing off and on since they had arrived. This close to the source, however, the party was able to discern that there were two sounds coming from down the passage. One was the snarling and hissing that gave them pause, but the other was the panicked whimpering of a child. Wasting no time in devising a plan the party crept forward down the passage, eventually encountering a chamber filled with the tattered and bloody remains of clothing and the occasional bone, with a snarling creature at its center, obviously in the middle of devouring its latest meal. The creature was a twisted and feral chimera with the body of a wolf, the legs and claws of a lizard, and the head of a snake. The chimera's attacks were frenzied and the wounds were deep but thanks to Sylthana's healing abilities the group was successfully able to take it down.

With the chimera taken care of the party was now able to see that the source of the whimpers was a small goblin child who had hidden herself beneath a large burlap sack. While frightened the child took an immediate liking to the party and revealed herself to be named Ali and to be a resident of Valehallow—or Vayallow, as she put it—who had somehow fallen into the citadel and gotten lost. Taking the young child into their protective custody the party was determined to see her safely home and led her back to the beginning of the branching paths.

With three paths still remaining open to the party, with no indication as to which passage would lead to their goal the party split up to cover two of the passages, promising to regroup later. Sylthana, Kalise, and Ardeth found that their passage led to a stark white staircase that they seemed to make no progress in descending. And when they attempted to retrace their steps they found that they still could make no progress, they were trapped. Thanks to Kalise's magical knowledge the group was able to determine what kind of magic held them prisoner, and better yet, free themselves and reach the bottom. The small chamber the group of three encountered held only a single iron chest, locked by a mechanism similar to the door to the throne room above, which meant Ardeth was able to unlock it and open the chest easily. The chest held but a single sheet of parchment that held—in an ancient language known to Sylthana thanks to her studies as a cleric—a recipe for some sort of potato soup with the words "I found the real one, you're too late," scrawled across the bottom. Ali was excited at the prospect of eating some potato soup but the party was somewhat less enthused.

Down the other passage  Roy, Harold, and Ael'srill found a single chamber beyond a wooden door that at one time might have been sturdy but after such a long period of neglect shattered into splinters after a single kick from Harold. The room revealed itself to be a large bedchamber that at one time had probably been quite opulent that was still lit by some sort of strange magical candelabra above. The room held a variety of faded paintings on the walls and a single clear glass pane beyond which only a sheer stone wall could be seen. Ael'srill used their abilities as a spirit medium and was successfully able to summon the shadow of a spirit. This shadow was a young-looking man that seemed to be playing around with a crown set on his head and just, in general, acting pleased with himself. Not getting much in the way of answers from this Roy examined the room further and was able to find a mysterious switch behind one of the walls paintings that, when pushed, sent the magical candelabra spinning and blazing to life. After several moments of this the magical power seemed to coalesce into the pane of glass at the far end of the room. This glass then showed the party a series of images and sounds before abruptly stopping. These included: a birds-eye view of Valehallow; the lich from above in his throne chamber, still doubled over; and a chamber filled with a red haze, accompanied by mysterious chanting. Harold also found a small, shiny stone that he decided to take with him, perhaps he plans to start a rock collection?

At this point the two groups made their way back to the split in the paths and regrouped, sharing what little they had found. Having exhausted all other possibilities the party made their way down the final passage, eventually reaching a large chamber filled with cages large enough to fit a single person, all empty, and lit with a series of torches along its walls. Beyond this chamber, the group was able to see just the faintest hint of a red glow and a quiet murmur that some members of the party recognized as being the chanting they heard through the glass pane back in the mysterious bedroom. Realizing that whatever they were to face was just up ahead the party paused for a moment to prepare themselves…

END OF SESSION TWO
—TO BE CONTINUED

View
Victims in Valehallow
Session One - February 16, 2017

Foreigners call The Reaches a land of change and chaos. Of strife and progress. They scoff at the nations that have risen over the course of centuries rather than millennia. They shake their heads at the untamed, wild wildernesses that dot the land. And, secretly, they tremble as they consider some of the creatures that hide in its dark corners. Is it any wonder then, that adventurers the world over have taken to combing over this ancient land? Seeking to carve out something of their own. Glory, riches, power – The Reaches can give you all of it, and perhaps even take it all away.

This is the land that the six of you call home. At least you do for now. Your varied backgrounds are still a bit of a mystery to your newfound companions, but it’s looking quite like you’ll have plenty of time to discuss such matters in the future. 

From the warmth and comfort that only a prison cell can offer.

The five of you sit in a row along a hard, unforgiving bench while a man, dressed in well-tailored red and purple robes looks each of you in the eyes for a moment as if peering into your souls, looking for some nugget of truth. Eventually, the man stops and leans back, sighing. Without any preamble he says, “I know you burned down the mayor’s mansion, what I don’t know is why you did so. I have personally gone through your effects and found nothing suggesting you are foreign agents of any kind, which is what half of the town believes. Of course,” he smiles, “the other half of the town believes you to be heroes – quite adamantly in fact.” He leans forward again and gives each of you another quick glance, “So what I want from you all is the truth, from the beginning.” He pauses a second before adding, “And if you lie to me, trust me, I will know,” as a strange geometric tattoo flashes to vibrant life around his eyes.

And so, the six of you begin your story…



Three days earlier the six of you found yourself accidentally sharing a table at Queen Sarah’s Promise, the second best inn in town. Ardeth has been staying here almost a week, making ready to head out on the next patrol hunting bandits in the surrounding countryside, and growing every more impatient at the wait. Harold has been bouncing around for even longer, lining his pockets by gambling at any establishment that’ll put up with him. Roy has been in Valehallow even longer and is in no hurry to leave – whiling away hours of time studying at the local library of magical texts. The Farrora siblings Sylthana and Ael’srill have been bouncing around the town for a few days now, hunting for information and gathering supplies for the next leg of their journey. Kalise arrived but a few short hours ago, braving the strangeness of the city to sell pelts and herbs from her journeys. 


The party wasted no time in getting to know each other, having been forced to sit with each other at the second best inn in Valehallow thanks to a sudden double outbreak of food poisoning. That is to say that Harold wasted no time in pulling his new companions into a game of cards that he proceeded to win handily—perhaps by cheating. In the midst of this group bonding exercise one of the Queen Sarah's Promise's overworked servers approached and took the groups order. Harold offered to pay for the group's drinks and bread—perhaps to divert attention away from his cheating. Their drinks were quick in arriving but the bread was late thanks to some sort of interruption in the back, which the group decided to investigate once Harold had finished awkwardly slipping a coin right into the server's back pocket.

In the back courtyard of the inn the group encountered Hada, a dwarven woman who had run past panic straight to hysteria and was loudly decrying the inn's stablehands. The party—sans Harold, who had somehow managed to earn the woman's ire—was eventually able to learn that Dalayn, the mayor's twenty-year-old son had gone missing while out and about in the market square. Hada was directly employed by the mayor to act as an attendant for the young man and she held herself responsible for his disappearance. She also claimed that Dalayn was the sixteenth person of a similar age to disappear from the town recently and claimed that the disappearances were likely the handiwork of Halarothian spies—the party remained unconvinced on this point. After hearing the woman's plight the party heroically offered their aid, promising to find the young man. Ardeth—somewhat less heroically—extorted from the woman five sharps and a treasured family heirloom before he agreed to the job.

The group first made their way to the market square, where the young Dalayn had last been seen by the nervous wreck they had left behind. They approached the smithy on the far edge of the square and questioned the blacksmith, Lanach. The gruff man had little to offer the party—especially to Ardeth, to whom he took an instant dislike—only mentioning that the missing Dalayn had come in recently to buy out his supply of arrows, despite not having been known to do so in the past. He was also persuaded to hand over an unfinished dagger—lacking both hilt and edge—to Ardeth.

Determined to learn more on the enigmatic youth that they were seeking the party made their way over to the local library, tended by a friendly man by the name of Grivo. Grivo spoke fondly of Dalayn, being a frequent patron and occasional employee of the library. When pushed by the party to search for any records of books checked out by either Dalayn or any of the other missing youths Grivo was only able to find a handful of entries from several years earlier. These entries outlined a handful of books that those missing had in common. These books included: "The Adventures of Prince Dalayn, Demons: Named and Unnamed, Greater Magical Seals, Lesser Magical Seals, and a cookbook by the name of How to Cook with Five Ingredients or Less. The only one of these books that the librarian had ever read for himself was The Adventures of Prince Dalayn, a children's tale concerning a historical ruler of the region who sealed away a great evil. The historical prince also served as the mayor's son's namesake. Before the group left the library Grivo revealed that several months prior he had spotted the young Dalayn speaking with a group of people clothed in red and purple robes that reminded him of priests, though he had not seen them in Valehallow since.

With the knowledge they had gained from Grivo's records and lack thereof the party then made their way to the mayor's mansion on the outskirts of Valehallow. They were greeted by Kensa, the somewhat abrasive captain of the local militia—and sister to Hada—who tried to wave the group off. The party persisted, however, and were eventually allowed in to speak with Miria, the mayor. Once ushered in the group spoke only briefly with the mayor, due to comments from Ardeth that angered the woman. The mayor demanded that Kensa throw them out for this breach but Kensa disobeyed, giving the group ten minutes in which they could examine Dalayn's chambers before leaving, perhaps believing that they were on the right track.

Dalayn's chambers were comfortable and well-ornamented, but slovenly maintained. The group quickly discovered a torn paper on Dalayn's desk which included a portion of a rune scrawled across it. Before they could begin to determine this rune's use, however, the group spotted a mysterious young man clinging to the window frame, just outside of view. They did not remain mysterious for long, however. Upon being confronted the young man quickly spilled the beans. The man introduced himself as ARGUS THE ADVENTURER, and claimed that he would be the one to find Dalayn, claiming to know everything the party knew and more and that his appearance at the window was just a coincidence, him being much further along in his own investigation. Somehow, the party was not convinced. Eventually Harold engaged ARGUS in conversation, applauding the young man on his works and deftly steering him in the wrong direction, eventually convincing him to go to The Crooked Crow—the worst inn in town, and one of those currently affected by a spat of food poisonings—and order one of their specials. ARGUS then proceeded to fall from the window, leaving the party to investigate in peace.

Dalayn's room included the door to a closet that resisted the normal means of opening. Attempting to turn the knob only resulted in an unpleasant warmth. Eventually Roy was able to determine that the door's mechanism was magical in nature and could only be opened by drawing a certain rune on the doorknob. Namely, the rune that they only had a portion of. In order to reconstruct the missing portion of the rune Ael'srill channeled the local spirits to give them a brief glance at what the paper had been like before it was torn. Roy was then able to use this knowledge to draw said rune using the enchanted stone that he carried with him for his own golemancy.

The door now open the party was confronted by a new mystery. Rather than encountering a closet, as expected, they found themselves standing before a small chamber that radiated an abundance of magical energy. Quickly deducing that the room was some sort of short-range teleportation circle the group decided that they were already committed and pooled their collective magical talents in order to activate the teleportation circle, disappearing abruptly from the mayor's mansion for parts unknown…


END OF SESSION ONE
—TO BE CONTINUED

View
ADVENTURE START
Welcome to the Reaches!

Some information regarding the world:

Basic setting information: 
Generally fantasy flavored with a lot of different kingdoms. You can be just about any race from humans to more out-there things like dryads or fallen angels if you want to. The place we'll be starting in will probably be fairly diverse culturally and racially so there's no worry about your choice of background affecting your social standing… unless you do something stupid.

The country where we're going to at least do the introductory sessions is going to probably be vaguely European in nature, with obvious influences from other places.

The technology level of the world varies a lot, some places have begun to create basic personal firearms but for the most part you'll be encountering swords, crossbows, castles, etc… Though magic is ubiquitous and takes many forms throughout the world. The biggest effect of this magic is that long-distance communication is much more common than the technology level would otherwise allow, so the flow of information and culture is a lot more like the modern world.

A quick list of important facts about the setting (that your characters would probably know as common knowledge):

-The continent your characters are on is called The Reaches and is considered a bit of a backwater by the rest of the world since its oldest nations are only a few centuries old in comparison to the ancient nations found elsewhere.

-Deschaine (the big empire you start in) is big and scary and up until the last twenty years was pretty much always engaged in war with one nation or another

-The standard currency on the continent are silver coins called "sharps" that are produced solely by the Imperial Bank of Deschaine in the capital city. They are called that because the coins include an almost imperceptible slot in the center of the coin in which the minting information is magically imprinted. Sharps come in the increments: 1, 5, 50, and 500. The coins are all the same size and all are minted with the profile of the current emperor or empress on one face and the crest of said ruler's family on the opposite side.

-Normal prices of things. A good meal could cost anywhere from 1 to 15 sharps per person depending on the quality of the food and the place. An average horse would cost around 100 sharps while a high-quality war mount could cost almost 300. A nice two bedroom house would cost about 75 sharps a month to rent or about 1800 up-front.

For reference for pronunciation:
-People from Halaroth (Hal-uh-roth): Halarothian (Hal-uh-row-thee-an)
-People from Deschaine (Deh-shane): Desch (as in Deschman, Deschfolk), but generally people are more likely to describe themselves by their province or hometown, the imperial identity isn't that strong
-People from Calladai (Kal-uh-die): Calladaian
-People from Oshnaluna (Osh-nah-loo-na): Oshnali
-People from Eulidann (You-lih-dan): Eulidese

Any other questions please ask the DM!

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.