Kingdom of Isles

GM Journal - Troubles at Home p4
DRAFT - Troubles at Home p4

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GM Journal - Troubles at Home p3
DRAFT - Troubles at Home p3

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GM Journal - Troubles at Home p2
DRAFT Troubles at Home p2

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GM Journal - Troubles at Home p1
Troubles at Home p1

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After wishing the Argental Font to be beautifully integrated into the Artist District the heroes worriedly await the arrival of The Radiant Muse. While wording the wish as best they could the Muses nature is still fairly fickle and unpredictable.

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The wait seemed longer than it was but soon the now familiar figure of the winged matriarch of these elves could be seen flying with intent. Red faced and clearly angry she first lands near the exposed glass pyramid that represented the roof of the newly created Sun Temple of Ospalar.
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The elves nearby instantly drop to their knees as their “goddess” walks the perimeter of the structure, her hand gliding lightly along the glass surface. By the time she arrived back where she started her mood had changed. Anger replaced by a mild curiosity as she then turns to the “Outlanders” and purposefully approaches.

By the time she stood before the party Osond had arrived (at a run) catching up to his mistress. A look of concern on his face. The heroes were respectful with Din’dae and Grune leading the conversation and explaining briefly the effort of finding this lost temple and wishing it to a place where its beauty could truly be appreciated. Even Khaine and Almaran joined in adding tale of the wonderful mystic fountain in the chamber below and Khaine gesturing to the new entrance in a large stone pillar that led below ground. A brief pause, and it felt as if all held their breathe waiting her response.

“Show Me!” she commanded and immediately without insult Khaine and Almaran turned and led her down the stairs with Grune, Osond and Din’dae trailing behind her. All relieved that their plan was working so far.

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The after walking down the stone steps and through the restored hallway the are greeted by tranquil sounds of the fountain as they reach the temple itself.
ArgentalFount.pngAll were captured by the splendor of temple. Although they were nearly 50’ below ground, at this time of day sunlight filled the chamber with a prism effect from the glass pyramid to paint the walls in spots of color. The Muse moved in wonderment at the beauty, turning about slowly as she entered and eventually making her way to the fountain which seemed to have a rainbow hanging above it. Khaine was the first to speak saying that the Alliance thought it fitting that she be the first to drink from the waters here, to christen and bless this site of beauty. Before she could reply Din’dae produced a golden bejeweled goblet, filled it with the waters of the Argental Font, and on bended knee offered it to the Muse. Again there was a long pause, as she seemed to take a half step back from this pressure to drink. Osond seeing the moment in jeopardy offered to test the waters for her if she was concerned.

This was the push that she needed as she snapped at him for presuming she was concerned. See declared the honor SHOULD be hers and took the goblet and drank it down. At first she seemed pleased with herself and about to say something when her demeanor changed. She seemed stunned for a moment but recovered and turned away from the party. After a few deep breathes she turned back group, the edge of madness was gone from her eyes and tone of voice as she spoke. A single tear ran down her cheek as she spoke. She had a more regal barring and her words were measured but you could still hear a touch of sadness in them.

She first looked to Osond and said “you have served me better than I have desired for the fear I’ve caused you all to live under. I may never be able to repay that loyalty but I will endeavor to”. Then she looked at the Alliance and thanked them for clearing her mind of the madness with the waters of the Argental Font. Some of her memories were returning, including the loss of her sisters and her bouts of mad violence. While the pain is greatly dulled thanks to the waters magic, she would still need some time to process in peace. She would speak to them once she was ready. With that she glided out of the temple and departed for her aerie. Osond, bowing deeply to the Alliance before following behind her.

Breathing easier that the plan worked and the Muse was cured of her madness, the alliance considered their recent hard earned victories and planned their next steps. The Argental Font was reclaimed and a threatening faction defeated. Although there was a dangerous portent from Almaran of time running out, the Alliance decided they needed to take a few days to best prepare for what lay ahead of them. Aided by Almaran’s magic they would teleport to Acadimar for supplies and intelligence. Grune and Almaran would run point on this away trip with Khaine accompanying them as bodyguard and support. Din’dae opted to stay and watch over their gains in the Bantu Aspar to help ensure things will be stable upon the away teams return. Din’dae was concerned of other Aspari’s making a move or even the Midnight Brotherhood and Red Orcs.

A course agreed, they debriefed with the Boss, getting some valuable if dated intel. Also a name of a contact called Ingrid, and a sealed message for her. They pack some trade goods, and got a good nights. First light the following day they gathered. Din’dae wished his companions safe travels and warned his closes friend Khaine not to do anything too stupid and to keep his head on swivel. And on his shoulders as he and Din’dae were still wanted for treason by the Kingdom. To help hide is identity, Khaine stowed is Weldlander Armor and Ebon Fang. He traveled in simple leathers with his bow and kukri. Grune then cast a curse on him to disfigure his facial features. Din’dae made a few jokes but admitted Khaine no longer looked how many would expect him to. Satisfied they were ready the three gathered close and Almaran worked his arts.

Ancient_stones.jpgIn moments the three were somewhere else. Almaran had taken them to a place he had camped over a month ago just outside of Acadimar. A set of ancient standing stones he was oddly drawn to but never figured out why. They were in the foothills and out of the way so did make a perfect entry point for their return to civilization. The small group hiked down to the road from Dwarfwatch to the city and locked in their plans for entry and cover stories. A few hours outside the city they could see thick black smoke. Grune and Khaine knew that this far out there was nothing but homesteads and lone cottages. Grune wanted to investigate, but Khaine was insisting they needed to stay on mission. Almaran was the deciding vote and the three moved off the road along a trail that led towards the smoke.

War_Trolls.jpgThey heard screams and crying as they approached with caution. Through the treeline they could see a pair of War Trolls, terrorizing a family of four. The home was on fire with one troll holding up the body of very bloody man in on hand and resting on his great sword with the other. The other troll was verbally tormenting and toying with a mother wielding a dagger trying to protect her two children. Both trolls were laughing and enjoying the sport with one mentioning in the tongue of giants that “they were right, picken’s are great here”. Having seen enough, the heroes sprang into action. Khaine had never faced trolls before but the tails he heard never mentioned they wore armor and wielded arms. Grune and Almaran had heard these and warned that they are military and often used as personal guards or elite soldiers to evil leaders.

The trolls met incoming heroes quickly, one of them unceremoniously releasing his hold on the father who drop like a ragdoll to the ground, clearly dead. The war trolls true to their name fought with some cunning and battle awareness, trying to use their reach to go advantage. They also quickly recognized Grune and Almaran as casters and moved to circumvent Khaine to attack his companions first. Khaine was able to keep one from advancing while Grune and Almaran wer forced to deal with the other. While the heroes did bleed in the battle, through power of arm and spell and moving to a new now, they were able to defeat and destroy two creatures. They secured the area and after a brief talk with the mother escorted her and her children to a neighboring farm before continuing on their journey.

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Although delayed they arrived at the city gates at sunset. Almaran had taken Khaine’s magical items and shape changed into a bat. Then flew into the city to meet up with the others at the Silver Talon Inn. Grune and Khaine moved up the line with Khaine playing the role of servant to the dwarven cleric.
Tatooed_Mages.jpg As they neared the gates Grune noticed a mounted man in red robes. Upon further study it seemed this individual was casting detect magic and scanning those entering the city. Khaine was glad he had opted for Almaran to take his gear as and orc sgt named Kah-gul with a grey wolf armband proceeded to give Grune a hard time about his gear. Grune conveyed that he was Cleric of Ospalar from Dwarfwatch and was on a pilgrimage to her temple here in Akadimar. This got them grudgingly through the gates with most focus on the gruff cleric and little attention to his big deformed servant.

Once in the city, Khaine could not help be feel a bit nostalgic and at least a little pleased. The last time he was here the city had suffered a surprise attack and was licking its wounds. That was a few months ago now and most signs of damage had been repaired. The city was well on its way to seeming normal and busy. Save for the very obvious guard presence who would randomly stop people on the street, especially of those people were well armed.

Silver_Talon.jpgMoving with purpose and with Khaine’s knowledge of the city they make it to the Silver Talon and join Almaran at a table. The place is clean and frequented by the lower middle class. Mostly merchants and warehouse workers mangers and owners. Once there Khaine asks for a particular beer, the innkeeper seems surprised but says they are out of stock to which Khaine gives the appropriate counter phrase. The innkeeper then heads in the back for quite some time while other food and drinks are brought out. When he returns he returns to serving patrons at the bar only.

Ingrid_Red_Wolf_Agent.jpgAfter an hour a plain faced but athletic looking barmaid comes from the kitchen, drops down some drinks at a separate table, then approaches the heroes telling them their room is ready and leads them upstairs. Once in the room with door closed she deftly draws a blade and has it to Khaine’s throat before the others can react. She demands to know how they learn the pass phrase. Khaine waves off Grune and Almaran saying this treating is to be expect, with hands out to his side he gives his name and a quick recant of the The Bosses words and that he has a message for her. She looks into his eyes to get s sense of motives and to determine if he was bluffing. Seemingly satisfied that he is who he is she steps back with her blades disappearing back into her clothing. She then says “all clear” and a mage named Winston appears in the corner of the room.

For the next few minutes they gave official introductions and compared notes. Mostly Ingrid brought them up to speed on recent events in the city as that was the current focus. She stated while trade has picked up martial law is still in effect and the Knight Marshall’s private guard are increasing in number. Rumors are floating in about monsters in the countryside but nothing is really seems to be done about it. Also that members of her organization are specifically being hunted. The Grey Wolves seem specifically focused on counter intelligence activities. There are two leaders to this group, and elven woman known as Sylhouette. The other leader is Rugar Tooth-Slayer, the Master of Spears. They’ve had to work in smaller cells to protect themselves which has greatly hampered the level and speed of intel gathering.

The heroes state their mission and needs here, and that their planned stay will need to be brief as they are preparing to face a significant threat in the lost city. She understands and shares the message from the Boss included directive to help the heroes any way she can, but to not jeopardize her cover. Winston will provide a safe place for Almaran to work, and she will handle acquiring and selling through her contacts. This should limit exposure. She strongly encourages Grune and Khaine to make their trek to the temples as they said to the gate guard. The Marshal’s men have proven to be quite thorough and will surely send someone to follow-up.

With that she and Winston depart, the mage turning invisible before she opens the door. She laughs shouting “you’ll need more coin than that boys” and slams the door behind her. She can heard laughing and complaining to herself as she walks down the hall.

With that the heroes ponder in silence, wondering just what they have come home to.

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Din'dae's Journal 19 - Wished Waters
DRAFT Wished Waters

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Din'dae's Journal 18 - Consolidate and Neutralize
Consolidate and Neutralize

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We had made it back to Chimera Keep and after some artful casting of spells from Almaran and Grune, as well as a good nights sleep, it is clear now neither Khanie nor I were in our right mind. Even when we found proof that the vaults were all intentionally infused with Void Spores, I still could not at the time bring my self to believe. I am slightly ashamed at the thoughts I had about my trusted companions and grateful through much effort my mind has been freed. Hopefully Almaran can learn something from the black dragon skin journal that will help protect us from the spores, but for now its moving day.

The camp had been busy breaking down the contents of Chimera Keep and crafting large rafts to float over to the Artistic District. It was an impressive undertaking with both the remaining Farstryders and members of Veritas working side by side. Once loaded up I admit I was a bit nervous about crossing the water. We have yet to identify the huge creature that dwells its depths so its threat is still unknown. Fortunately the passage was uneventful and we made it with no losses.

gobpriest1.jpg Osond was there to greeted us and we made introduction all around, and reminded the camp leaders of the rules imposed by the Radiant Muse. There was no shortage of curiosity by the elves and soon pockets of trading was happening here and there. A good start to our consolidation efforts. We spent the day getting the camp setup, and I went over the security protocols with the watch teams. The Veritas members were seasoned soldiers, and the Farstryders were now use to my instruction and new what I expected.

The following day the Alliance once again set out into the city. This time to find the camp of the Steam Coast Trading Company. We discovered that there was a coup recently and their new leader Ivar was a right bastard and had been raiding other camps. He had a failed attempt on Veritas just prior to joining with us and word was he they had made a run on the pirates as well. The SCTc was a threat we needed to assess as it occurred to us that another Aspari could have seized control of that camp and is using them to simply create chaos, keeping us from our goals. In any case they were a concern that required our immediate attention to evaluate, dismiss or destroy.

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Even with the limited intel we had we were able to place the Steam Coast camp somewhere near the temple district. Took us all of the morning and a bit of the early afternoon to finally find their camp at the back of the reservoir adjacent to the temple district. The camp we found was very impressive and very defensible.

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They had made their camp in some ruins at the base of the cliffside protecting the rear. The area surrounding the walls where full of jagged rocks, thorns and low briars. There was only single clear path leading in or out of the camp. Using several ranger abilities and one elven magic spell I was able to scout the perimeter and gauge their defenses. Almaran summoned a mystic eye that allowed him to spy beyond the walls. What he saw shocked him and gave us all a sense of urgency.

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Shiro_Gok.jpgIt appeared that the Steam Coast had successfully moved against the Dark Harbor pirates. Many of the them were now held prisoner. That was not the cause of alarm, though. Almaran saw that Ness Ramora was among them and next in line to be whipped by the indentured and unhappy Shiro Gok. It was clear to Almaran by the 3 Legionaries pointing crossbows at Shirou that the swordsmans participation was under duress. He also noted the look of defiance in Ness’s eyes and knew that she would not let out screams easily and might by near death before she did.

A hasty plan was put together that relied heavily on surprise, speed and magic. May the Fickle Fox bless us for boldness, for this will be one for the archives as our plan was a frontal assault.

The five of us knowing, our parts, set to it. Almaran changed shape, took flight and cast a spell to Blend in with the afternoon sky. Khaine and I, riding a sprinting Moonshadow, had the dual task of charging the gates to draw attention from Almaran and a flying Grune as well as actually break them down for a hasty egress if needed. Khaine had anointed his blade with a blanch that would allow Ebonfang to bypass the natural hardness of the wooden gates and has such did tremendous damage on his fist strike. Still it took both of our repeated swings to splinter the gate timbers allowing us to squeeze through while still under fire of crowsbows.

Mystic_Barrier.jpgOn the other side of the wall soldiers were lining up to repel attackers and Almaran was able to create an opaque barrier between them and the gates as we broke through. This greatly reduced the numbers Khaine and I had to face. We focused our attacks on the Legionnaires as we knew they were the most loyal to Ivor. We also called out warning that we were merely here as retribution for Ivor’s forceful assaults against the other camps. That any who did not pick up arms against us now would be spared. Khaine and I could see some consider, but it wasn’t until the flames cleared after Almaran rained fire down on us and the enemies around us (twice) that several took our offer and fled. As it were, Grune had given magical protection from fire prior to the assault so we were all untouched by the searing flames. Not true for the those that had been near us. The ground was now littered with burnt corpses and it was enough to break the morale hired mercenaries.

This side of Almaran’s barrier was now manageable by Khaine, Grune, Moonshadow and me so the mystic flew deeper into camp to create more magical havoc and help free Ness and Shirou. The rest of us engaged the last three Legionaries, two corrupted blade bearers of Molgus, two prowling dire desert cats and of course Hannigan himself.

We dropped the Legionaries first, and then with a roar of challenge from Moonshadow my mount and I pounced forward to engage the approaching desert cats.
DireDesertCats.pngNature does not typically know good and evil, it merely displays an unforgiving cycle of hunter and hunted. Of predator and prey. These cats are one of the exceptions. Like Moonshadow they are of a breed that is smart and cunning enough to be self aware. Unlike Elven Warcats however, the Desert Cats relish inflicting pain and suffering before the slaughter. Being in their presence I could believe the tales, as these creatures exuded an evil about them.

Blade_Bearers_of_Molgus.jpgTogether Moonshadow and killed one of the cats as the Lt’s of Ivor approached. These blade bearers of Molgus had the stink of rot about them and a strange affliction upon their skin that looked like growing fungus. Their blades also seemed to carry a magical property to inflict disease as well. Whenever they struck me I could feel my body fighting off the effects. Thankfully, due to the protection magic Grune had provided, my body was able to do just that.

Grune approached to support Moonshadow and I as Khaine, who had hung back, charged an invisible Ivor. Apparently while I was distracted with my fight, the faction leader had taken a potion of invisibility and was stalking Moonshadow and I. Almaran had given us a heads up and Khaine had taken a draught of spirit sight allowing him to see and charge the would be backstabber.

The fighting was fearsome, and Ivor and his allies getting certainly giving as good as their were getting. Fortunately we had Grune who healed our hurts and kept us fighting. Eventually the numbers fell in our favor as I dropped a blade bearer and Moonshadow killed the last desert cat. I was surprised to see that Ivor, fighting one on one with Khaine, was not only still on his feet but holding his own. He clearly had skill, but not enough to win the day. Moments after Moonshadow and I killed the last blade bearer of Molgus, we saw Ivor try a crafty move leaping over Khaine in an effort to surprise him. However my friends eyes were too sharp and too blade too fast as he saw the move for what it was. Whipping his sword quickly overhead he sliced Hannigan in two causing a spray of blood followed by two meaty thuds.

What we expected to be an Aspari still appeared to be human even in death. Yet when his head hit the ground it cracked like an egg and this… goo oozed out leaving a hollow skull. Would could not figure out what this was so I have to wonder, did Khaine’s blow somehow liquify Ivor’s brains?

After that the fight was academic. Almaran had controlled and/or decimated most of the other forces on the other side of the barrier, allowing Shirou and Ness to arm themselves fight together with a few others against their former captors. In less than a minute after Ivor had fallen, the battle was over.

The camp was ours and the Steam Coast Trading Companies faction in Bantu Asparr… was no more.

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Din'dae's Journal 17 - Moving and Maddness
Moving and Maddness

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The events of the night before still weigh on camp and I notice the odd look some give Nik as he moves about his day. Even stops to enjoy the sun on his face when he thinks no one is looking. Being killed can have that effect on you.

Last night while we were planning to reveal Primrose for a fraud, apparently Nik had begin to see through Celia rouse as well. In a moment of panic the bitch bit and poisoned him, leaving him dying on the floor as she stepped out to turn the entire camp against us. When she caused the firey explosion during our battle, it had finished what the bite started. Nik had died.

We could not, would not except that. During our travels we had found a powerful piece of magic. A scroll to heal the body and rejoin its soul. It was one of a kind, ultra rare. He was more than a fellow castaway with an occasional barbed tongue, he was our friend and trusted ally. He was one of us. Thus It was an easy decision to make to use the scroll to return Nik to the living, Moneva willing.

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We had gathered as Grune led us through the words and we opened our minds to give whatever spiritual aid was needed. It reminded me of the ritual to cure me of my curse. It was unclear how many truly gave mental support to the effort, but the Alliance did. I for one felt… something. Like a moment skipped. However before I could dwell further, Nik took a deep intake of air and then coughed. The spell had worked and he was returned.

But as great as bringing back Nik was, we have much to deal with now. A handful of Farstryders left in the night and moral in camp was dangerously low. We tried to keep people busy to repair the damage and re-secure the camp but the truth was with numbers so low, we were no longer able to properly defend it AND send out exploration parties. Not to mention we now believed the Aspari threat was not just the work of a few serpentfolk trying to bring back a dead civilization, but the beginning efforts of true conquest by a race both alien and ancient. No, the stakes have been raised to an incredible level and if we are to combat this threat it is time to draw our allies to us. Starting with The Boss. veteran.jpg

For the first time since the very first visit we went to camp Veritas with little regard for stealth. We knew others may smell weakness in our camp so I plan was to join with the Boss and collectively move to the Artist district. With the remains of the Farstryders, Veritas and the elves, we would be a combined force to be respected by the others. First step was to secure this alliance and have Almaran use the All Seeing Eye to ensure all were who they seemed to be. After passing that test, thankfully, it was fairly direct matter of updating the Boss on recent events and our plan. He saw the logic and agreed, giving orders to begin breaking camp. They would arrive to Chimera Keep the next morning and begin preparing to move all to the Artist District. Approval for which we still needed to get form the Muse. Now seemed like the right time.

Artist_District.pngOn the way to the elves we stopped at the keep and updated Julivar and Nik. Nik seemed please about giving up his role as a camp leader. We grabbed a couple of porters and a lot of captured gear (arms, armor, scrap metal) and head to the elves. Although we had done several good deeds we though an additional gift of materiel they could re-purpose would go play well. It did, and Osond was able to negotiate approval with the Muse with some stipulations.

Statue_of_the_Elven_Hero.jpgThe area she has giving us is on the lake side adjacent to the Statue of the elven hero Jacara. I thought that a fitting location as it will serve as a great reminder of why we are here. To defeat the Aspari and keep their alien god from rising!

We agreed to the terms and after checking the site we decided to use the remaining daylight to pick up the undead’s trail from the Necro Manor. Believe it would be a more direct line to the Vault Julivar had fled from and hoping it was somewhere in this district or and adjacent one.

First_Vault_Entrance.jpgLeaving the porters behind to start prepping the new camp site, we left and found then followed the undead tracks for the better part of an hour before we notice something significant. Around 80’ up a nearby cliff-side a face was curved in the stone, severely overgrown with vegetation. We had noticed this in passing prior, but what made it unique this time was half the face was “swung open” like a large door. We could just make out an opening behind it. A cave perhaps?

We continued to follow the tracks which lead to a series of switchbacks. The elements had worn away most signs but we were able to make out the remains of stone stairs here and there. The path took us up the cliff face with the last switchback fallen away leaving us 20’ below the stone ledge that was right in front of the elven facade which we could clearly see was a stone door.

We climbed, while Almaran flew, up the distance and I cautiously peered inside. It was dark but the smell of a recent camp fire was evident. Clearly someone was home and were trying to remain hidden. I warned my companions and then stepped inside. I instantly felt observed and uncomfortable and called Moonshadow to follow me and protect my back. I knew I couldn’t count on the others to do it for me. Khaine with his wild tactics and I really didnt know Grune or Almaran very well. I can’t believe I have given them so much trust in the past.

As I moved further in, wondering why I was the only one inside, I heard a creaking then felt some loose debrief fall. It was the only warning I had to jump out of the way as a large stone statue fell to where I and Moonshadow had just been standing. I was about to yell at those untrustworthy layabouts for always putting me in harms way when the true threats revealed themselves. KECH!!

Kech_Hunter.pngThese semi intelligent pseudo simian monstrous humanoids have been nothing but a bane to us since we arrived in this city. Four from above readied bows now that they had dropped the statue, and six more stepped out of the overgrown foliage as if materializing there. An ability that still annoys me. With any luck we have just stumbled on their new lair and we can slaughter them all and bring a bit more peace to this region.

I called out to the others to move their arses, then mount Moonshadow to charge a group further in the tunnel reading bows. We sliced and claw one to shreds before Khaine even entered. He was fighting a little too close to me actually, not sure I like him on my flank like that. Least he entered, Grune and that Witch just hung back at the door while Khaine and I did all the hard work and took all the bow fire! Were they whispering to each other back there? Are they up to something? I think they are. I’m going to need to watch my back as this place is starting to get to them!

We kill the Kech and while I am eager move on Grune tries to tell Khaine and I that we are not right in the head, that there is something in the air here. Only thing in the air is his hot breath if you ask me. I feel fine and don’t appreciate long beard trying to confuse me. Ok, clearly there is something wrong with Khaine but pretty sure he was born that way.

Anyway, so the Witch starts speaking in super calm tones, and is even stops stating things with his double speak. Now I know something is wrong with him. I will keep my eye out and keep Moonshadow very close to him. If he tries something… well… lets just hope for his sake he doesn’t.

Kech_Lair.jpgI scout ahead… again… and come upon a large cavern with a few fire pits and the distinctive smell that it has been inhabited. I peak in and see the foliage is a bit light this deep in and the Kech everywhere. This seems to be their primary camp. I smile has I draw Windsplitter and attempt to sneak up on one. I should have told my team ahead of time but they will hear the fighting soon enough. Fighting started sooner than I wanted as a Kech I had not noticed see’s me and calls alarm. I really do hate these beast. Oh well, time to slay them all.

The fighting was furious and I seemed to be a magnet for their arrows. Even when Moonshadow ran up and I fought from her back, the Kech continued to pepper me with shot after show. Khaine oddly hung back with the others and I could not help think what they were up too. Then out of the blue Grune comes running up next to me saying he needs to touch me to heal me. BAH, you’ve never needed to before. I know magic, only aggressive or mind altering spells would require him to touch me. He is up to something and sees I am injured and trying to take advantage. I’m too smart for that, and don’t let. HAH. Stupid dwarf thinks he can trick me.

The fighting continues and muscle through the pain, I will kill these creatures on my own and then will determine just what that cleric…. What the!! He healed me? He finally a touch on me and it healed me. hmmmm… Crafty dwarf, I bet he switched the spell. If he things I am going to let down my guard now he’s as dense as the granite that birth him.

We kill the remaining Ketch and I down a potion of healing as the cleric approaches. Hah, don’t need you spell now! He channels positive energy to heal us all which is what he should have been doing before. He and Almaran are definitely up to something. Khaine sees it too I can tell, but he is acting too weird for me to trust his judgement. No I am in this alone for now.

sabosan.jpgAfter the fighting we take a moment to catch our breathe before pushing further into this dank space. We find the remains of a Sabosan. Man-sized humanoid bat like creature. It was full of Kech arrows. Further in we find the rest of these flying vermin whom attack us on sight. We defend ourselves from the evil creatures and destroy them all. Luckily Grune stuck to healing at a distance and refrained from any more of his trickery. Although him and Almaran were still thick as thieves.

Warrior_Defeating_Serpent.jpgFurther searching for the tunnels lead us to an antechamber protected by a stone golem. The undead tracks lead from the double doors but we had to get past this statue first. The golem itself was proving to be a problem for all of us save Khaine whose massive hits took chunk after chunk from it. In a moment of inspiration I called out in the ancient tongue of my people and commanded it to stand down. It seemed to recognize my bloodline, asking for the password. I fumbled a bit until I called Guardian in the old tongue. It stopped, and returned to its post leaving us to enter what we’ve come to call the Map Room. In it, we believe lays the portal to the Aspari City.

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Din'dae's Journal 16 - Snake in the Camp
Snake in the Camp

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It was barely noon when we returned to Osond and elves, gladly informing them that the Aspari undead Necromancer had been sent to Moneva for final judgement. He once again thanked us for our efforts and mentioned he would give word to the Radiant Muse of our deeds. We discussed at length whether to immediately continue our search for the vault or return to the Farstryder (and the Boss) to notify them of this new Aspari revelation. We decided taking a day delaying the search would not hurt and alerting others to the true threat was of more importance. For if we were to fall or be lost, someone must know the truth. That the world was facing and invasion by creatures of legend and myth.

We gather Julivar and made the arduous trek back to camp. We had worn quite the trail with our frequent crossing but it did not make the 2 hour walk much easier. We used the time to chat more with Julivar, asking her if she was familiar with any of the Farstryder names we gave her. She admitted to hearing of Nik, and seening Lord Primrose but only in passing.

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We crested a raise and could see Chimera Keep in the distance. We crossed the riverlet to our small island and I could see our new guest grow more apprehensive and excited. It seems she was concerned her tail would not be believed nor sure how she would be received. I wondered just what else of import she was holding anything back.
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2good.jpg We moved through the gates and called out greetings but headed straight for Primerose’s door. We waved for Dask to follow and found Nik already inside being berated by the minor noble. We quickly introduced Julivar who and tried to explain her tale. An effort she was surprising unsupportive about. I tried to encourage her but she merely nodded a bit meekly to what we said and only asked if she could be appointed with gear befitting her station and expertise. Lord Primerose seemed to want to dismiss her and quickly agreed signing a writ for her to see the supply master.

All_Seeing_Eye.jpg As soon as she darted out the noble rounded on Almaran asking in a near accusatory tone just where he got the All Seeing Eye? I was stunned! We had just told him an Aspari city was a live and active somewhere beneath the earth, that they were conspiring with other monstrous humunoids that we know attacked Akadimar and he was more curious about Al’s new babble!!

I started to loose my temper, which admittedly I have been forced to keep in check around Primerose as he has always rubbed me the wrong way. I was in the process of stepping forward and demanding this puffed up pheasant focus on the threat we have just laid out before him but Khaine grabbed my arm and shook his head slightly. It is rare that my good friend need check my anger, but I heeded his subtle consul and instead excused myself from the conversation.

I left the room with my companions only a moment or two behind me. We gathered back at the main tower within the compound that the Alliance used as its apartment and closed the door. I paced and started in on how infuriating and clueless Primerose was. That even HE should have seen the truth of our words and the threat they depicted. I did not see how even he could show no alarm and little belief for what lies below us. Yet again my oldest friend agreed with me but there was something in his words that finally caught my attention. Khaine mentions Primrose did not even blink at what we said, almost as if he already knew it to be true, and not that he didnt believe it. Plus he was more focused on the amulet and fairly dismissive of Julivar. A Farstryder that has just returned from an ancient Aspari city! He should have been looking to to chronicle her tale.

My head was still processing just what this could mean when Julivar entered. She had be properly appointed with high quality gear and seemed very pleased to again feel and look like herself. I rounded on her a bit harshly asking why she did not speak up during our talk with Primrose. She instantly became more somber and a bit concerned. She said it was something she heard about Primerose. He was injured during a hunt and lost some mobility in his right hand. He had learned to write left handed but this Primrose was using his right hand without issue.

The final pin set and the lock opened. I looked at me companions and Khaine said what we all were now thinking, we have been working with an imposter. An agent of the Aspari or an Aspari themselves. I gripped Windsplitter until my knuckles turned white, trying to keep that hatred from deep in my soul from springing forth and causing me to do something overly brash. I took a breath and said, we need a plan. One that ends with that thing bleeding on my blade.

Almaran mentioned we do not know how many here are not what they seemed and overs to use the Eye to see through any illusion. We agreed to do that first among the companions and then he would walk with me on on my evening rounds to check camp security. Looking at each of us we proved to be who were were so we opened the door to step outside. Guards had been placed at our door and a few more were walking the camp. When questioned the door guards said Lord Primrose thought they we would want our privacy and they were to keep us from being disturbed.

srpntflk2.jpg I just nodded and kept moving with Moonshadow and Almaran to the next group of men taking their ease around a fire. Al gave me the nod that they checked and we started to head to the next group when Primrose came out shouting we had betrayed the camp and were to be detained, we countered with a “Primrose has been lying to us all, stand down while we sort this out”. That is until Almaran turned his gazed to the noble and told me what he saw, a female Aspari in human clothes and wig. The option for diplomacy ended for me right then and there as I mounted Moonshadow and we charged for deceiver… charged for creature we knew as Celia!

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After that the camp became chaos with Farstyders choosing sides for or against and the Alliance trying not to kill anyone undeserving. Spells and arrows flew, fires began to burn unchecked and the sound of steal on steal rang throughout the courtyard. All the while my rage was singularly focused on the snake in front of me. Her taunting voice trying to lure me inside the room where I could see Nik lay on the ground motionless. I held my ground attacking with range when I could not clothes. I cloud see Khaine swinging the flat of his blade to knock foes senseless instead of taking their heads. No her plan would fail, she had been discovered and we would NOT destroy ourselves based on her trickery. I tautened back as we battled with words as much as we did with spell and blade. Then I used my Chameleon Step to close the distance and shoved Windsplitter deep into her torso. She emitted a satisfying choke of pain as I pulled the blade back out. She staggered back a step exclaiming we have won nothing and then all I saw was fire explode around me.

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When the smoke cleared the serpent body of of Celia lay on the ground. I smiled as I cut off her head and held it high for all to see the Aspari face. I called a stop to the fighting echo quickly by my companions. This bloody day was done but seeing the camp in shambles robbed me of the joy of Celia bleeding body at my feet.

Well… almost…

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Din'dae's Journal 15 - Revelations
Revelations

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A week had past without further sign or lead to Jemrand’s whereabouts. We sent word to our allies in other factions and even revisited the ambush location to try find any clue we might have missed but to no avail. Even our new companion Almaran the mystic was at a loss, unable to see a Now where our friend could be found. I would be dishonest if the loss of first Palomar and now Jemrand did not have a demoralizing effect on Khaine and myself and we got lost in ourselves for a time. Khaine spending long hours with his blade and I working with Moonshadow who had now grown to the size of a riding horse. A size that gave many in the camp some discomfort.

During this time it seemed that Lord Primerose had given us our space. This was after a less than empathic comment to the loss of our companion. Without Jemrand the haughty noble seemed to be pressuring and arguing with Nik a lot more. Oddly it was hearing some of the aftermath that sparked us back to life. We had a job to do. The loss of companions on such an important and dangerous endeavor is sadly to be expected and we could not loose more time to our grief.

With renewed determination we set out once more into the city heading first to see Osond and Cassandra in the Artist District as it add been several days since we spoke. Only a few minutes pass that district’s borders and we are alerted by sounds of something moving through the brush.

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Dressed in torn and ragged adventures clothing with leaves and cobwebs clinging to her long matted hair and hooded cloak, this half-elven woman comes stumbling from the undergrowth like a started animal. At first she seemed like she might bolt upon spotting us but instead runs to me as if seeking my protection. We take up defensive positions is preparing for her pursuers and still eying her suspiciously. After a few tense moments it was clear there were no threats in the area so we turned our attention to wild eyed girl.

Bedraggled and covered in small cuts and bruises, it was unclear she was able to understand us. It was Grune that checked her and noted she was under some malady that was effecting her mind. If we wanted answers we would first need to cure her of this condition. During his examination of her I spied a tattoo of the Farstrider Society on her left forearm but knew she was not part of our camp. Further some of her wounds seemed old. Who is this feeble-minded creature? What happened to her?

Thinking combined efforts of Osond and Grune can heal her we take her with us to the elves.

We spend the day there while the healers check her and females clean her. It is nearing dusk when Grune finds and informs us that they had identified what was wrong with her and with a scroll of Heal, cured the woman of a number of mental conditions. She was now cleared head and able to speak. As we got up from the campfire to follow Grune a scream was heard off in the distant and then another closer to us.

SerpentFolkZombie.jpg Figures began to lumber into view and at first I thought it was another raid be the Fallen, but the stench of decay indicated an undead assault. Slithering on rotting tails and decaying scales were groups of undead Aspari emerged! Chaos and death in their wake.

With the lives if innocent villagers at stake I quickly mounted Moonshadow and as one we rushed in to face these undead foes. My companions not far behind. However ever these undead where more powerful than those I had faced before. They were included wights and a mummy among them. Their stares and stench could paralysis a defender, leaving them helpless to claw and bite of the undead. Several of the villagers fell, and I was close as well, before we turned the tide, thanks largely to Khaine’s devastating attacks and Almaran’s well placed spells and summoned positive energy elemental.

The assault was city wide but slowly began to falter as the defenders pushed back and destroyed the undead from a distance with bow and spell. It was said that the Radiant Muse herself had joined the battle and met out terrible carnage on the attackers throughout the city.

Feeling that there might be a connection we sought out the stranger in hopes of getting answers. What we learned still rocks me to the core. The woman’s name was Julivar, and she spun a tale that spanned months of travel which lead her to two different Aspari underground cities. One still sleeping, yet another very much awake. The later is where her mentor Eano Kline and other Farstryders were being held captive. A city possibly below our very feet and assessable through a magic portal in a vault here in this district. She also shared that the Aspari were aligned with Minotaurs and possibly other legendary races. The undead we faced she believes followed her from the portal once this side of Underearth. She does not remember where the portal or vault is but perhaps retracing her steps will reveal something.

Our heads spund with these revelations. We had assumed that there were only a handful of Aspari, remnants of a dying race, seeking to wreak havoc in our world. Now we learn that what we face is far more grave. That we face a true world altering invasion by an enemy I can’t help but hate from the very center of my being. We left Julivar to rest as we planned our next.

After much discussion it was decided to instead follow the tracks of the undead. It is unknown how long the Farstryder wandered so the undead might have made a more direct path to the this part of the city. We follow the tracks that night which lead deeper into the district and to a large manor house the elves believed to be haunted and thus avoided. Now knowing where were are to go we set up perimeter guards and we get some rest. For at first light, we will see just what lies in that darkened manor.

DarkManor.jpgIt was early morning when we arrived at the estate. The sun was still low in the sky keeping this part of the city still in the shadows of the caldera walls. The morning mist hung heavy in the air and it was easy to see how the superstitious would think this place haunted. The undead tracks we followed lead directly here and we saw other older tracks leading here as well. Having an idea of what we faced our casters were able to properly prepare for this specific attack and Grune ask his god to hide us from the view of the undead. We then entered the manor tripping a simple Alarm spell which alerted those inside that someone was at the door.

We pressed against the walls as the sound of foot steps was heard approaching and a small horde of undead moved out to create any visitors. Clearly we were in the right spot. Due to the spell they did not see us but nor could we advance further without revealing ourselves. So with a nod to one another we began the fight in the foyer dropping the horde as quickly as possible. The zombies quickly dispatched we then faced the intelligent undead made up of a cyclops brute wight and several ghast. Their master, an undead Aspari Necromancy could taunts to us from deeper within the manor hidden from view.

We were pinned for while and could not got clear to move in as one. Changing combatants I engaged a ghast freeing Khaine to try and take the fight to the Necromancer. I told Grune and Al to keep an eye on my friend while I protected our flank. I lost sight of the fighting but heard sound of combat and casting echo off the stone walls. I could see Grune flinch in pain briefly and new Khaine had take damage. I faced the last ghast but it was cunning, it kept pulling back drawing me away from my companions. I could not leave it as it had eyes for the healer and mystic, but nor was I able to finish it quickly. All the while another round of spells and swings could be heard behind me.

Finally I hear Khaine shout in triumph which cause the ghast to look in his direction, I used that distraction to step in and finished the wretched thing.

The battle was won, but to our disappointment there was neither Vault nor Portal here. This treat was ended but our search would need to continue.

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Din'dae's Journal 14 - Red Herrings
Red Herrings

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Over the next couple of days we doubled our efforts to find Jemmrand. We discovered that the witch had another safe house outside the city so we head there. It was not close and the trek was arduous through the wild forested area surrounding the city where it was still clear winter was upon us.


MystMoore_Keep.jpg We spotted site of it just before sunset as we topped a nearby rise. The “safe house” was a large manor that looked to be part of a once grand estate. The estate proper seem to begin on the other side of a 40’ ravine. We could see a large wooden bridge with a set of some standing stones proceeding. The circle of stones appeared to be travels rest stop. A final rest for some as the remains of its last inhabitants could be seen frozen in ice and snow. On our guard we approached and were beset by metal cobras. Adamantine as Grune noted, and magical golems of some sort. Their metal hides turn most attacks save Khaine’s whose powerful swings were barely hindered.

In the end collected the now scrap metal that was the cobra’s and cautiously made our way to the bridge. Grune and Khaine gave it a once over while I looked down into the ravine. The trees obstructed most of the view so it was impossible to clearly see how far down it went. There was also some silvery-red filament along the cliff sides and on the trees. I had never seen its like before but it reminded me spiderwebs. My two companions deemed the stone moorings and wooden timbers seemed solid enough so I started to cross alone.

Demon_Spider_Riders.jpg I was 2/3’s of the way cross when we heard the noise. The sound of something moving from under the bridge in front and behind me. Their veil of invisibility dropping as they attacked, hands arcing with electricity as they let loose their spells of destruction. I flipped and spun in the air evading the two lightening strikes as the other 6 Demon Spider Riders crested the ridge from the ravine below. Their trap was sprung we caught in it. With spell, webbing and bow’s they assaulted us and the damned creatures were cunning as well. Keeping us at a distance, setting up lightening bolt cross fire’s and catching us in their webbing to good effect. Grune was very busy in healing our hurts, Khaine muscled his way out of the webs twice and I used my chameleon step to quickly close distances. Like always, it was a team effort to win the day, but won the day we did!

We searched the bodies and other than determining these creatures we’re demonic in nature there was no tie back to the witch so we pressed on. Passing the ominous looking graveyard and wildly overgrown garden we headed to the manor house proper. The structure had several breaches in it and clear signs of passage new and old. We entered the open door that was swollen in place form weather and created lights to see by. The place smelled of animals and earth. There was also an acrid aroma that stung the nose a bit.
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In the moist darkness of the entry way large mushrooms, 3’ tall had sprouted in the corners of this hall. Thinking back to Silent Isle I tried to get a better look at these fungi to determine if they were dangerous. They answered the question as they attacked firing globs of acid at use. Phycomids. Dangerous but no mobility so we try to finish them quickly with Khaine leading the charge forward, but they are not alone.
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Sliding from behind and underneath these fungi are dozens of tiny Choleric Oozes. They form into several swarms and attack as well. Their acidic touch burns and we do what we can to keep a way and put them down. All the while trying to avoid the acid flinging Phycomid’s. Again with the healing aid of Grune we stayed standing and destroyed these creatures but the sounds of our combat surely echoed in these halls. Any chance at stealth however, was lost so we simply push read for a fight. What we were not ready for was the greeting we got by the keeps more sentient denizens. 3 cyclops’s.

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Two clamoring up from massive holes in the floor and the third down a set of ruined stone stairs they greeted us with friendly calls and peaceful words. In our exchange they said they witch had stayed with them and beguiled them with her magics. They were happy she was gone to leave them be. They entreated us to break bread with them and exchange a tale or too. Clearly these were warriors and what little is know of them, eaters for sentient beings. We were suspect of their attempts at diplomacy. Still, we were seeking Jemmrand and if they could help us, and hated the witch perhaps they could be allies of a sort. As unlikely as that seems.

We shared the last bit of the Gargantuan Gator meat we had and told abbreviated versions of our travels. None of us were relaxed in spite of the friendliness of our host. They were… too friendly, and too close in these quarters. It took a lot to remain calm waiting for the other boot to drop. Drop it did as once the meal and the tales were done, the three giant siblings shared an odd look and a smirk with one another. Then their oldest brother claimed the formality and pleasantness had been met, and now it was time for THEM to eat. With that they drew weapons as did we and the battle began.

Grune, remembering his peoples lore taunted the leader while expertly evading his swings. The tankish dwarf even ran up the broken table like a ramp, launching himself at the leaders eye. It was all the big brute to block the attacked and view Grune with more respect. Unfortunately being the first giants Khaine and I had encountered we struggled a bit to get in close. Their reach and strength was major threat. I took and moderate hit and then dove under a massive swing of my foe to get close. I was then finally able to get some momentum with Windsplitter, delivering dozens of cuts both major and minor. Khaine however was unable to deliver his normally devastating blows on such a large and armored opponent and things started to look bad for us as our enemies were landing blows of their own.

With a Heroic effort I was able to drop mine before he felled me. Soon after Khaine finished his off and Heroically leaped in to swing on the leader. A massive hit but the brute still stood. Now with his siblings defeated, rage played on leaders face followed by a mystic gleam in his eye. “I see thine death, and my vengeance!!” he says as he starts a wide arcing swing. For a moment time seems to slow for us saw Grune, Heroically launches himself at the cyclops again, this time his hammer landing true in the creatures one eye. Stunned, it staggers back falls on its knees then face pants with a thud. Dead.

We take the time to care for our wounds and search this place but to know avail. It was our last lead and a dead end. Weary and dejected we head back to Chimera Keep where Almerean is studying that Eye. Hopefully he has had better luck that we this day as the witches words are beginning to ring true.

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