Grohnn

...WAIT FOR IT!!!!

As humdrum as things are at this point, with the group stopping for supplies and getting things in order for the preparations ahead, it is with a heavy heart that I must warn you all that things are going to be accelerating much more quickly than our group of heroes had ever planned. It is not their fault. They were just merely seeking their destinies. But perhaps it found them first…

Meanwhile, in Korzon…
everyone grabs supplies for their professions and even some proper food stock and libations for the ship and crew that are not like our hearty heroes, like hired hands and underlings.

Craig purchases a “pillow”, which is actually a woman but for all intensive purposes, is intended for the job of actually being a pillow. A contract was struck that was very specific and he pays her very handsomely. She also had the profession of tailor, so he bought her a crafting supply as well, along with a bed and room accommodations along with delivery & installation.

Rovalf purchases an alchemy lab, bed, linens/pillow (yeah, the normal kind), wardrobe, with an amazing lock. He also opts for delivery & installation as well.

Frank acquires a cleaning lady (Alice) and a service girl (Bianca) using WISH (his ring is now empty). Alice is an excellent cook and housekeeper, yet old and quite heavy.
However, Bianca is a gorgeous vixen with long, flowing red hair & green eyes, a master bard that will not harm or leave Franks side unless instructed, that is also a master dancer and master sex doll. She also is excellent at massage, singing, a hearty drinker, and storytelling.

Dimmorals gets treasure identified and appraised, selling some things and keeping the more useful things for the party. He also checks on the progress on the churches based in Loreau and Blight, donating 5,000 gold to their needs. He hires a male paladin and a female cleric to join him on adventures.
Afterwards he heads back to the ship to split with everyone their share of golds and gems, and introduces them to his new hirelings.

Drax goes to Hera. She’s out on a mission. Instead, he then seeks the audience of Axiom, and asks if he can do anything to restore his knowledge loss. “I can lick your toes,” offers the big, strange cat. “What does that do?” Drax asks. The cat gives a most obvious answer, “Cleans them, of course.”
In the company of the curious beast, Drax is now compelled to pet it. Axiom demands all the petting! He was always a big fan of it. Poor Drax had no idea that this cat had such a sinister, yet innocent agenda. How could he have known??
As he is now stuck here and can’t leave, the group, wondering what is taking him so long and what he is up to, listen in on the rings of communication and just can’t help but to laugh. They laugh…a lot. “Thanks for being so damned helpful, guys!!” Drax exclaims helplessly.
And then he gets an idea. Its pretty terrible, actually. Anyone with a heart full of honor and a sense of decency would relent its mention. But its the only one he has at this point.
“Merriam! Come to me! I need you urgently!” he sends one of the patrons to escort her here into the chamber where he is with Axiom.
When she arrives, he asks her to pet the big cat. Afraid, she is reluctant. But Axiom purrs heartily at her touch, and agrees that the two of them can be exchanged.
AND SO DRAX PASSES THE BUCK TO HIS FEMALE COMPANION, and leaves…
“Bye! Nice knowing you!” as he thinks to himself…[Wow, I am so glad she made some apple pie for me earlier today…]

Before heading to the ship, Drax seeks advice on preparations for dragon-specific encounters in the North. Everyone he asks tells him what they know to the best of their knowledge, however limited, also kinda baffled at the one person they would think should know more about dragons than themselves…
…and so he finds and purchases a number of “skins” in which to help with environments.

And with everyone accounted for…they all head to the North…
…little do any of them know that they will soon face the end of their journeys much, much sooner than would have ever been expected…

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And here we get a good look at the soul, bereft of all humanity
...wait what?!

Seeing something so majestic and wild as an elemental being bound in such a trivial fashion, Dimmorals objects, and voices his feelings, saying it is quite unfair to enslave it against its will.
An argument inevitably ensues, ending with Frank asking the elemental itself how true this claim was, “Are you being held against your will?” with an instant, unrelenting “YES.”
Frank, not wanting to be labelled the bad guy, feel guilty, or have this argument again (who’s to say what it really was?), releases the elemental from its ‘service’.
Almost immediately, houses are ripped from the ground, piers are splintered and thrown into the air like frayed, disheveled, unimportant and obscure confetti; and dozens of lives are lost as the once-enslaved elemental unleashes its rage on the coastal port.
Craig saw this unfold, and with a heavy, begrudged sigh, uses yet another charge of his wish, to undo the mistake that just happened. He knows they need the power of the elemental for their vessel. He knows that this is a common fate for most of its kind. And it really can’t be THAT bad a thing then, can it? Besides, look at what happens when it is left unchecked…

After the events that unfolded with the waters of the ocean, our hearty heroes decide against travelling to the abysmal island of the dead. They instead head up a little north to their base of EPOR, to get some rest from the crazy collection of outsiders and discuss a game plan on what to do next, and how.

Upon arriving, Dimmorals realizes that he has yet to place a church for his beloved Poseidon. He mentions it as he ponders where the best place would be to place it, and ends up arguing with Craig-who had decreed when EPOR was being erected that it would remain ‘non-denominational’. They get heated on the subject of town ownership and Dimmorals demands to see the deed for it. “Do you see how this place (world/universe) is tearing us apart?”-Frank exclaims.

A bit unnerved and perplexed, Dimmorals informs the others that he plans to stay here for a month to ponder things, and oversee operations of the base. His party mates interject, saying “You don’t want to help us save Kraytos and the realm? What kind of paladin are you?”
This touched on his pride a bit, as he pitched back with “Well, what is the plan of action, exactly? This on-a-whim madness hasn’t worked out that great so far. I need some kind of sanity here, and being pushed with everything, testing my faith and constitution so needlessly is only going to result in wrath. I don’t think I need to tell you who’s.”
Tormented from the statement that he cannot honor his deity in their home base, Dimmorals goes out into the desert to pray and seek guidance and the rest of the party prepares the ship for the journey ahead.

Craig goes out to send a message to Kraytos, concerned with the news that Drax brought them earlier. He is determined to learn more information on his favorite mages whereabouts. Luckily…he received an answer! It was a bit cryptic, but if his knowledge and understanding are correct, Craig believed him to be in a place called Magnus.
But it gets tricky. Apparently Kraytos is in the future, and they cannot call for his release. Kraytos insists on this, with no real explanation why.
After this interaction, Craig goes to his party mates and askes a very odd question-
“Are all of you prepared for the vastness of space?”
and an even more strange and confusing statement-
“I think Kraytos is the head of the Chaos Vail. He’s crazy enough to make that work.”

Getting nearer to being ready to leave, Craig has a change of heart and decrees to Velka that other churches can be made and offers plans for expansion on EPOR. He seeks out Dimmorals to let him know of these changes. At first, Dimmorals is confused on Craigs’ intentions, saying he will think about it. Of course, Craig wanting to speed things up and get immediate result of acceptance from his comrade, explains further that this is just a trivial thing that is already fixed and that they have more pressing matters to attend to, having the life of adventurers and great heroes. Dimmorals seems keen to the cause of seeking out and liberating Kraytos, as he had always been a good, honest friend to them all.

Last minute things first! Dimmorals drops a church in EPOR and gathers a few onlookers to show they should not be afraid. “Free water! And a word of wisdom from Poseidon! Come learn the life of the exalted and incredible force of the sea! It will fill your life with purpose and joy!” he exclaims and he shows the habitants the new grounds of his newly erected church, housed and ran by patrons, and more importantly-just as beautiful as ever.

They take the boat and head North to Skydawn Planetarium. As they fly, Craig finds secret joy in a handful of sand…casting darkness on grain by grain, and dropping them below from the ship along the way…and giggling at the chaos it creates…

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I got I got a pocketful of darkness
(...and a gargantuan air elemental, lets not forget that)

The party reaches the low-regarded Port Barrington. From what little they have heard of the place which was not exactly good reviews, they explore it with a hint of caution. As they enter its bustling main path to the docks, it is easily noticeable that every single pair of eyes present here are watching them intently.

After finishing up drawing plans for his boat, Frank takes them to a shipwright to get an estimate of cost for the raw materials. Drax and Dimmorals go with him, as they all agree not to split the party with anyone going anywhere alone, and partnering up is the best option so that they can watch each others’ backs.

Craig and Rovalf head to the docks towards the ships that look active, to talk with someone who may know a bit about this place, also to possibly get some information on this ‘island’ destination and maybe even find a ride to get there, if that is offered here, anyway. They learn that the ‘island’ is actually known as Island of the Dead and that it’s not particularly a vacation spot- in fact, not recommended unless you are on a suicide mission or bored, because there is not much there that is conducive to life or enjoyment whatsoever. But he does tell them they could catch a ride there in a couple hours, for no passage charge, as long as they all stay out of the way, specifically, not impede operations of the vessel or cause damage to it in any way. Unsatisfied with this information about the island, they head to the inn to talk with someone there.

As Frank uses a spell to fabricate their new transportation vessel, the shipwright and several onlookers are completely blown away by the spectacle! Upon finishing the work, in a mere TWENTY MINUTES, the shipwright gets on his knees and begs Frank to teach him how to do this! Frank simply answers, “All you need to do is be able to cast the spell called Fabricate.” Thankful and gaining a sense of newfound hope, the shipwright takes off his ring and gives it to Frank before taking off in a rush. Seeing that it had a glow of magical property to it, Frank identifies it and is pleased. BLG_SCHOONER.jpg

At the inn, Craig seeks out and finds Deaken Hardigan, the barkeep who claims to be in charge of Port Barrington. Rovalf leans against the bar with his back to it so he can keep an eye out and they are not ‘surprised’ by any shady characters (since as they entered, all eyes were on them), so Craig exclaims “A round for everyone!” and the patrons all scatter to get their free drink compliments of Craig!
After everyone settles back at their tables to go about their business, Craig and Hardigan talk about the purported “Island of the Dead” and not much more new information is discovered except clarification of its nature, how Hardigan claims to have escaped there (many locals say he’s a bold-faced liar on this), and that their is a King that resides over the island, wielding the powers of cold, negative energy, shadow, and darkness. Interestingly, Craig notices that Hardigan, has a quality in his expression of clumsy recollection. They head back to the rest of their party.

Frank explains that he now needs to bind an elemental to the ship, so that it can be powered, because this will effectively cut their costs considerably, not to mention having no need for fuel in the future. As he prepares, Craig looks at Dimmorals and jeers, “hey, Dimmorals! Why don’t you go take a dip in the ocean there, I bet it will make you feel amazing! It’s been a while, hasn’t it?” In response, of course “Yeah, I just might do that!”, Dimmorals goes to check out the coast and get his feet wet, so to speak.

He sees coral reef, a few sharks in the distance, and a deep darkness below. It looks like a drop off from the shelf here. He goes to check it out, of course. As he delves into the dark waters, he starts to feel wretched and ill…for a second, his memory fails him, and he can’t remember why or how he got here! He looks around…and what catches his attention is the sun beaming through the surface.

As he emerges to the surface, some of his party mates notice he is a bit disoriented, mainly Drax. “Hey man, your looking out of sorts, are you alright?” Since it appears his sickened state was noticeable, he decides to lay on hands himself, and with that, an eruption spewed from his face as projectile vomit sprayed all around in front of him. His memory wasn’t remedied by this, but he definitely felt right as rain.

After Dimmorals exits the ocean and comes back to the others, Drax decides he wants to investigate the waters and flies out to where it darkens and plunges in, once emerged he just lets himself sink, without fear of drowning since he could easily manage underwater. Surrounded by the dark waters, he immediately feels sickened. Sinking, surrounded by darkness, Drax sees nothing around and forgets why he is here or how he got here. His thoughts shut down, his soul goes silent.

Craig hears his thoughts over the rings of communication, and begrudgingly uses another charge from his ring of wishes. Drax appears beside him, and Craig starts ranting and raving his displeasure, and heads to the inn.

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We might be forgetting about something...
(just how far does this rabbit hole go, exactly?)

Having established resources, production, and fortifications, it goes without saying that our heroes’ new home in the south, now dubbed EPOR, has been focused upon intensely the last couple of days. While setting things in motion- arming its militant ready citizens, readying a farming system, and hiring a mage of Korzon for creating and iron wall structure- Drax grows more and more impatient.
He speaks his mind, with great enthusiasm, on how all this side detail, errands, and waiting is only making it worse for them to tie all the lose ends that were left with the Chaos Vail. Of course, even though our adventurers have been rewarded and titled for their efforts in taking down major operative activity within the great city of Korzon, where all have been heralded as Champions; Drax has not lost sight of the fact that they are giving the rest of the Order time to escape and disperse, which could potentially allow the C.V. to plant their roots elsewhere, to infiltrate other secret locations and make them much harder to track down or dig out. He calls his party members out to act upon this matter more urgently, “You do realize that what we once had as groundbreaking intel is becoming crap intel with every moment that passes, right?”

The group discusses possible options for continuing on this path, by ensuring better ways to discover them wherever they may go next, assuming that they are not ignorant to being discovered and being dealt the serious blow of the events that recently unfolded in Korzon.
All agree that perhaps the best way is to imbue mundane items with a scrying contingency, such as currency coin, and place them in target areas where they suspect would be the best potential locations for C.V. operations.

During this conversation, Craig is a bit distracted. A few thoughts surface to the forefront of his mind, and he checks on this. He uses an ability and inspects the C.V. cloaks, and asks for one of them from Frank, which is not a big issue. Drax, noticing the distraction on his face, asks Craig where his thoughts are, in which Craig answers “…investigating into something like detect magic, kind of a hunch right now, but when I know more I will no doubt share what I have learned.” Unbeknowst to his party members, there is something about this particular cloak that distinguishes it from the others that Frank has duplicated. Craig also saw some activity to the south with his ability, but brushes it off as it didn’t strike him as abnormal.

Following suit, Rovalf asks for a cloak so that he may inspect it. He taps into his strong knowledge and experience with Alchemy and discovers a very interesting and perplexing detail- the symbol of the Chaos Vail is written in blood…ANGEL BLOOD! he immediately informs his party members what he has just discovered.

At that moment, Drax decides to look into the spirit world, and is unnerved by what he sees. Since he noticed him looking that direction just minutes ago, he feels the need to ask-
“Craig?! Do you SEE this?!”
They compare what they have seen, with very different abilities. Drax could only describe what he was seeing as (a river of souls), flowing from somewhere ground level up and into the sky by the thousands. Craig saw a flux of energy being drawn upward like a spiraling tornado. After intense deliberation, they agree that “This could possibly be some kind of misdirection, to keep them from pursuing the C.V, but we cannot ignore this!”

Meanwhile, Rovalf and Frank are still discussing the matter of the coins. Rovalf suggests that the contingency on them involve the chemical compound of the angel blood, to activate them when near an agent of the C.V. The whole party still seems to be struggling as to what exactly they are going to use, because each stipulation they add to it will involve much more time in their creation, given that Frank is good at what he does, but he does not yet posses the powers of deific proportion!

And with that, our heroes go to investigate this river of souls, and this is where they all come face to face and meet the infamous Earthshaker, Ballaste Evencale. They cannot help but to question him on what he is doing with the souls, as they near the site, they can see that he is facilitating their movement up and into the clouds above. The Cyclopian primordial shaman explains to them that it is his small part in the big picture, that this must be done every century or so, or the world becomes overburdened with an abundance of souls, and it also frees them from a limbo of sorts and allows them to continue on where they need to be going. This comment starts a line of thinking in our adventurers that gets very deeply discussed very soon… 150661.jpg

As Drax is recognized by the Earthshaker and greeted as brother, he immediately demands an explanation (of course!). Ballaste reminds him of the time he spent with Moira in the past, and the training that was undertook left a brand of sorts on him, one that by reputation and investigation will label him as Clan Evencale (however accidental is was, it still remains fact). Drax is a little perplexed by this. He goes immediately to talk with Moira, against the wishes of his companions, who urge him to be careful with what he says to her.

His interaction with Moira is a bit odd, it turns out.
He greets her wholeheartedly, cheerfully, and asks her about charging his arc reactor to make it better. She warns that she possibly could, but because of her raw power and lack of knowledge with machines, that it could have a devastating effect on the device. He insists anyway, and she gives it a shot- (Unfortunately, her worries were correct this time, and his device is currently not functioning). He says “Hey, watch this!” and goes invisible, “Can you see me right now?” She looks him right in the face, with a curiously suspicious expression, “Yes, I can. I may be a bit crazy, but do not think me ignorant, Drax.”
“Oh? Watch what else I can do!” as he clumsily fumbles his thoughts a moment, trying to figure out his best way to challenge her, she grows increasingly suspicious and draws upon her own experience to investigate- “Drax, what are you doing? Why are you acting strange?”
As he answers her in a most peculiar statement, “Hey, Moira, exactly how much can you take?” she takes it as a challenge, of course, and displays something very few in existence have ever been able to witness (and live to tell about it, of course)..
She throws her arms out, concentrates her power, and bursts with the brightness of a hundred suns… increasing in strength and intensity until she supernovas and completely explodes, and he watches as all the pieces of what she once was dissipates and disappears into the air…

storm_elemental.jpg

In Draxs’ mind, he believes that he has eliminated her.
He lingers a moment, and another curiosity creeps upon him. “Kraytos! I must find him!”
He uses an ability to try and find him. As he watches in the spell, he sees Kraytos, imprisoned in darkness and weeping.
At this point, Drax cannot get a handle on his emotions. He considers confronting the Aspect of Hera herself, to free Kraytos, and aspire to become the “Anti-hero of Korzon”.
He talks with his party mates over the rings of communication and he makes his way back to them on these thoughts. His interaction with the Cyclopians here left him completely paranoid…not sure where to go and what to do, thinking that he’s tipped his hand to a guardian. Craig and Rovalf do their best to reassure him that he’s overthinking things a bit too much and that they just need to go out of the way for a bit and recollect themselves from a vantage point that is not under fire or under observation.
They plan to go south out of the ley lines to regroup and plan their next course of action…

And the conversation they have is deeper than it has ever dared to go…
What is this place, really?
Is it REAL?
Is it a PRISON of sorts?
Why are things so easy to come by, such as riches and aspirations?
Why are dreams becoming realities with so little effort?
When people wish to leave the continent to visit other places, why are they immediately advised against it, or told that other places are just so useless that its pointless?
Why does magic flow so effortless here that it’s ridiculous?
Are the agents of the Chaos Vail right in their convictions against destroying the harmony of this place?
Why is there no ancient history for this place?
Why are their ruins, and things happening with no rhyme or reason for them?
Why are there no other real up and coming adventurers beside themselves?

Some of our heroes are finally stopping to consider how very easy it is here to gain power and riches…and wonder why things here are so strange…
…and finally…
What if we are being built up to be consumed later?

magictop.jpg

How very bleak your perceptions are becoming, heroes…

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But first...
some odds and ends to take care of!

Meanwhile, at the small village that our brave heroes are starting to build up-
they check on Velka who is left charge to lead fortifications and oversee the happenings.
They hear mention of the sand-buried ruins of a city just a short stint southeast of them and decide its of particular interest to check out what is so very near their newly claimed stead.
Our hearty adventurers decide to take flight for a better vantage point.
What they see gives a small sense of caution, as they are apparently outnumbered by dozens of desert nomads of sorts, and Craig just heads down in a carefree manner-
“Hello, my friends!” he exclaims.
“Who are you? What are you doing here, and where did you come from?!” they are all apprehensive and reach for their weapons.
Using some abilities to bolster his position and lower their aggression, “No, No, you misunderstand, I’m one of you! Relax fellas, what’s the deal here, what are we all trying to do?”
They correct Craigs issue with the wrong attire, and hand him an outfit befitting a desert raider. Craig then calls his party companions down from above, triggering the nomads to regain their resolve and reach for their weapons again as new intruders are introduced.
“Who are you? What are you doing here, and where did you come from?!” once again…
“Guys, relax, they are here to help us, we are all friends here, calm yourselves, let’s all work together and gain treasures and glory for all!” Craig cheers.
Everyone seems calm for the moment.
It does not last for long..

“So you guys are raiders, eh? Where are some good places with lots of big tough monsters with piles of valuable treasures? Any of you know of something like that around here?” Craigs asks the nomads.
“Well, the closest thing is the Cave of the Earthshaker. But we are not insane.”
“Oh yeah?” Craig seems excited at this. “Well what makes him so powerful?”
“First off, he moves the earth with his hands and destroys whole regions with the wave of them,” they exclaim. “He can move the whole desert if he wanted to!”
“Hmmm, well that’s easy to deal with! We just gotta take his hands! YEAH!” Craig at this point is trying to inspire the nomads into some craziness, it seems.. “You know who else has hands? The DEVIL has hands! We just gotta cut them damned things off and then how will he use his powers? You see, glory will be had this day, fellows!”
Their apprehension and faces full of doom and horror start to soften…and is soon replaced with greed, excitement, and vigor- “Yeah!!!! We just take his hands!! Why did we not think of that before??”

As the nomads lead the charge through the desert south to the cave, Craig, Rovalf, and Frank take the rear and keep a small distance to get a chance to chat about the game plan.
Craig asks Frank, “Do you think you could take them all out with one fell swoop? Like, can you be SURE?” The look on Franks face tells Craig all he needs to know, and that perhaps that was a very silly question to be asking him.

Merely moments later, massive bolts of lightning from an unknown place plunder their way through the nomads, wreaking so much overwhelming destruction upon them that absolutely NOTHING remains…save a few darkened spots in the sand…in just a few seconds…

“So we are not really going down to the Cave of the Earthshaker, are we?” They look at each other.
It was decidedly not so at this point in time.
~~~~~~

They head back to the sand-buried ruins to give the news to the women who were left behind. And perhaps dispose of them?
As the news is broken to them, it seems that very few of them are rattled over it. One that is stricken with sadness decides to head to her quarters and take her own life…and then another joins her after some time passes and the first is discovered, she takes her own life as well, and they lie together…throats slashed open..

The remaining women talk with our heroes and decide to pack things up for a new life elsewhere…and the new up and coming town just northwest of here was offered. Craig tells them to ask for Velka, and they will be take care of…that is, set up for them doing their part for a community, of course! They all hole up in one of the largest buildings and make a fire for the night, since it was getting dark. The desert is not very safe for travelers at night, let’s not be unreasonable here!

Rovalf takes first watch, standing at the window to scan the vast dunes outside, and sees some lightning in the distance…strange…how it looked almost as if it were starting from the ground and reaching upwards…
Craig doesn’t seem very tired at this time. He talks with some of the ladies who are making beds in the sand. He rolls over a decision in his head as to what to do with these females…and decides that their strength and resolve in the face of all of this is what their new town truly needs. After all, how often is it that you find women who show evidence of being stronger and more talented than their male counterparts?

The women head off in the morning for their new destination. They leave the cart, and surprisingly, the adventurers go through some of it, but they do not take anything! They also find a way to send it along its way to the town, so that what is contained inside could surely only benefit the continuity of the up and coming town that they have just begun.

What comes of it, we shall see, in time…

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Chaos Vale logistics (cont'd)
Liberation has been attained!

After arduous investigation and interrogation, our hearty group of adventurers have managed to find a solution of sorts. As the Royal Guard closed in on the apprehended prisoners, time presses them to find a solution quickly. In his best efforts, Dimmorals prays to his deity and finds assured comfort in Poseidons presence!
He prays for the souls of the prisoners that they find the error in their cause and realize that all they have done was to terrorize and harm people, and that he guides them in his great judgement. The request was granted, and hereby changed the fate of the prisoners, given that Hera wanted their heads and to resurge them anew onto a path of service in the name of redemption. Instead, they are given a new path to pursue, and to fight against the forces that once drove them against the citizens of the realm.
The adventurers are justly rewarded, as all are given the title Champion of Korzon, in all of its perks which remain to be seen. In addition, a huge bag of coin equaling 10,000 platinum each.
It is a glorious day indeed! May the good hearts of all prevail!

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City on lockdown!
things seem to be moving at a faster pace during these times

Frank sounds the alarm as investigations reveal more information about the Chaos Vale operations. Activating some of his latest endeavors during community service, the city is placed on lockdown for the safety of all the inhabitants of Korzon. This denies all entrance and exit access to everyone. Teleportation and breaches are not advised!

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Chaos Vale logistics
...as discovered by the investigation of Drax the Breaker

Key infiltration points within the city of Korzon:

-Thieves Guild
*SOUTH
(Merrick Lenni)

-Park District
*SOUTHEAST
(Thom Jarvis)

-Tailor Shop
*CENTRAL
(Cordelia Monso)

-City Guard
*NORTHWEST
(Byron Warren)

-Trade Route
*NORTH
(Giles Vern)

Suspected Leader: Rhen Anders

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Hey, I don't think that's PAINT!
Tracking paths before the plan of attack (Part Two)
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We LOVE the smell of burning flesh in the morning!
tracking paths before the plan of attack (Part One)

That morning, the party awakens to the intriguing smell of Gan’s Bat Jambalaya.
He had already skinned and made preparations to the bats that the party had killed before reaching their caravans. Surprising himself with exceptional skill cooking this delicacy, it is soon discovered that upon feasting of this seemingly delicious meal grants the eater a special circumstance bonus that makes them feel lightheaded and amazing!

(Eating Bat Jambalaya grants +4 to all stats for 24 hours)

Moving on north into the mountains of Battikh,
Gan and Merida decide to investigate some ruins at the base of the mountain range.
ruins.jpg
With keen and experienced eye, they noticed that one of the vine-covered pillars was rather bulbous, and wiggling in a way that looked strange. Upon closer inspection, Gan realizes that it is a person inside, in serious trouble and fighting hard for their life. His enthusiasm to help the person may be a bit misplaced, however, as his hacking away at the plant to release the person inside also harmed them as well!

Avoiding attack from the vines on the opposite pillar, Gan frees a woman named Alestra that was trapped inside, looking very worse-for-the-wear.
Using his alchemy skill and herbal stock on hand, Gan makes a healing salve and offers it free to Alestra. He uses the first application of the jar and rubs in on her wounds to show how amazing its healing properties are. Merida suggests that she also fill her belly with some of the Bat Jambalaya while she rests, to fully recuperate and feel better. After talking a bit to see what she was doing out here alone and where she is headed, it is decided best that she join the group in the caravan, resting until they reach the mountain destination.

That night, as the group makes camp, building a fire, Gan and Merida talk more with their new friend; trying to discover her motivations and what abilities she possesses. Alestra demonstrates her mind powers a little, targeting a very large rock and making it explode into tiny pieces, merely by looking at it and using her force of will. This could be very useful, indeed, they decide!

Gan takes first watch as the ladies rest. He hears a fierce growling in the distance, from somewhat of a large wildcat. He decided to investigate alone, feeling confidant that some kitty cats would never get the best of him! He can see in the dark, after all!
About 100 yards from camp, Gan almost gets lost, his sense of direction failing him. Thank goodness the group made a campfire! He could see and smell it in the distance, reasserting his senses. Here he finds two Krenshar cats, growling, hissing, and fighting each other, baring their skeletal faces as he approaches. krenshar.jpg
Defeating them easily single-handed, he slays them in a barbaric manner, seemingly unaware of his advantage of strength over the natural critters.
Knowing that all meat is lost, he skins them, salvaging what is left of the belts and sewing them together to make two hide blankets. He decides to gift them later to Merida and Alestra upon reaching camp again, in the morning when all rest has been attained.

1 action point awarded to Gan Stormblade

During last watch, Merida spots a strange … tree? I know it sounds contrite, but yes, a tree. For some reason she noticed that it was in fact, moving! In danger of sounding insane or paranoid, she decides to confirm her suspicions that it is really in fact, moving around the campsites outer limits. She gets out her spyglass, wanting to get a closer look at it without actually getting close, because it freaks her out a bit. As she peers at it through the looking glass, she sees two eyes appear on it and blink! What is this crazy magic?! treespirit2.jpgShe wakes up the party just to be sure that any harm may not go unnoticed. Gan believes that it is merely a tree spirit, and goes right up to it, greeting it. With one of its upper willowy branches, it offers Gan a leaf. He receives this gift and as he turns to tell the ladies that its alright, just as mysteriously as it appeared, the tree vanishes from sight.

Already awake and with an odd start to the morning, they decide to make the last bit of the trip to their final destination, the mountain stronghold. Onward and upward! They soon reach the cave entrance and find that the opening is doorless, with only 2 guards outside on post. Alestra demonstrates more of her mind powers, making one pass out cold, and thralling the other, bending his will to her wishes. They have him open the inner door to the stronghold, allowing them easy access. Realizing he would not be her thrall for very long, Alestra alleviates his service by sending him back out on post by the other guard and knocking him out, too.

Venturing inside, they come upon a room that opens to a great hall, with tables abounding all around the room, encircling a metal throne. The tables have half-eaten plates and various supplies on and around them, as if some event happened that made the people leave what they were doing with haste. As the group starts taking things from the tables for their own purposes, they hear a dwarf laughing in the corner, sitting at one of the tables. He is pale and transparent, wavering in and out of existence as if … he were a ghost!
dwarf_ghost.jpg They sit at the table with the ghost, Keigann, aiming to talk with him as he urges them to drink with him. While talking, Alestra discovers the nature of Keiganns death, more information on Boulden (the leader the group is after), and clan Thunderbeard, which is the clan responsible for this very stronghold they have entered, it turns out. Boulden is said to be fearsome, murderous, and tempermental, while wielding the power of thunder magic, along with a legendary greataxe weapon. He demands unquestioned following of his minions, for them to carry out tasks without error, who are threatened with punishment of death if these demands are not met. While further prying on the subject of Boulden, their leader, Keigann seems to grow fearsome, talking to midair, at someone the group cannot see or hear. He mutters something about not telling any of the clan secrets before disappearing from sight. Abandoned at the table, the group decides to loot the supplies in the room, carrying it back out to the caravan. Expecting the guards to be out there on the way back out, they are surprised to see that the guards are now gone.


at this point the current players decide to go to bed, and at the same time player Archer joins in the game and only he and Gan remain
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to be continued…

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