The High Forest

The Northmen Cometh

205rivergard.jpg
The crystal waters of the Dessarin River gently slapped at the hull of the stolen keelboat as Kjorné propelled them toward the riverside keep with powerful strokes and colorful complaints. The water was otherwise still and the land open to the sky. Magnus took a deep breath of the fresh air; A slight breeze tousled the young warrior’s long hair. He smiled, preferring the feel of the wind in his face and the boat swaying under his feet to the overcrowded inns and stinking towns they had left behind.

They were all shocked to see the attractive sorceress behind the bar at the Bargewright Inn, barking orders and very nearly pulling out her hair. The temptress had traded her typically cool, seductive demeanor for one of a frazzled hausfrau.

Gora had apparently been entrusted with the management of the inn, and was searching for a set of important, and unfortunately missing, keys. Magnus shook his head at the memory. They didn’t have time for petty squabbling over some unimportant inn, or even an entire town. The gods themselves were being threatened by these elemental worshipers and their fanatical followers.

The ungrateful bitch didn’t even thank them for finding and killing the outlaw, Quanderil, and his lackeys for whom she had been searching the entire time she had been in the vale. Looking back, Magnus was glad they hadn’t gotten dragged further into the politics and troubles of that town. If they had helped search for those missing keys, or gone off to escort a caravan for a bunch of soft, whining merchants, then they surely would have died of boredom while the Nidhug devoured them all.

Magnus chuckled recalling Quanderil’s pitiful attempt to challenge them. The fat, green-skinned sailor ran like a coward, attempting to escape underwater. But they had destroyed him and every one of his shipmates. Unbeknownst to the barbarians, it was for this reason that Rivergard Keep, which they now approached, was not warned of their arrival.

“Why the fuck am I doing all the rowing?” Kjorné bellowed, breaking Magnus’ reverie. “Kodrir, can’t you, like, ask the fish to push us or something?”

The enigmatic druid shifted, rustling his feather-trimmed hide cloak. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

“What the fuck does that even mean?” Kjorné asserted forcefully, managing to preserve an air of genuine inquisitive interest. “Clearly hands are better in a bush then on a little bird.” the crass barbarian retorted, simultaneously grabbing his crotch. “Helson, why don’t you conjure up your unseen manwhore to row this thing. I need to save my strength.”

The demon-boy rolled his eyes and sighed. Again. “It’th a girl” he said, exasperated at the stale jest. “And the’s an untheen thervant!” he struggled with the common tongue from behind his oversized, pointed teeth.

Kjorné just chuckled in response, catching Magnus’ eye, shaking his head and nodding toward the tiefling. “Magnus, you take over then. I’d have piss-boy do it, but I want to get there before the sun sets.”

Magnus knew it was better not to try and argue with stubborn warrior and replaced him at the oar. They were so close, he didn’t know why Kjorné was complaining. But the barbarian’s pacing told Magnus that Kjorné was too anxious for battle to sit still any longer.

The riverside entrance to the keep was blocked by a chain that ran through the gap in the walls. Helson blasted the chain with an arcane bolt, shattering it with a small sizzling splash, just as a face peered out of one of the arrow slits to inquire into their identity. More bolts of energy exploded against the keep wall inches from his face, which quickly retreated.

The face quickly disappeared and Kjorné dropped beside his brother, synchronizing with his stride. The pair of barbarians strained against the oars, veins popping along their bulging muscles as they propelled the small craft, raising it further above the water as they gained speed.

Moments later, the keelboat hit the shore with enough momentum to propel its crew over the sides, into a wave of guards. More than a dozen clearly low-ranking thugs raced toward them, down steep stairs, set into the 20-foot embankment that ringed the shoreline and led up to the rest of the keep. At the same time, a handful of similarly outfitted bandits scampered out to the walls and began firing on the invaders. More fearsome warriors armed with swords bearing what appeared to be sharks teeth, and shields fashioned in the shape of a horseshoe crab shell were scattered throughout the mob.

Magnus and Kjorné dove headlong into the oncoming tide of defenders, slowing their advance and giving Helson time to create an explosion in their ranks, decimating them. Meanwhile, Fiori snuck around, picking off the archers on the walls and keeping his friends safe.

As the defenders thinned, another group of the tooth-sword-wielding warriors burst from the tower door to meet the attackers, but quickly fell to the druid’s conjured wolves and the barbarians’ swords. Shortly afterward, a splash was heard near the tower, but no fleeing enemies could be seen.

With the walls cleared, and no more defenders approaching, the northerners regrouped to formulate the rest of their plan for taking the keep.

View
Road to Womford

After The loss of Gurdis the group fell into a pitiful depression and lost the desire to fight on… Meeting a group of barbarians from the north they fell in with them on their way to Summit Hall. They told them of their adventures, the strange cults and monasteries. Drinking away their sorrows the barbarians left the weak willed party.

Thinking there was a connection between the visions they were having, and the cults the party described, the Vikings decided it was best to rid this land of them. They set out to find and destroy these accursed cults and find out what they were up to.

Summit Hall was filled more of the weak willed pussies that the Vikings had come to learn inhabited this new land. They talked a bit and had little effect on the hardened northerners. They decided to head South to Womford. The slutty woman told Kjorni of some guy named Quanderil that may have some connection to the cult or something like that… Kjorni only remembered part of what she told him, but he did recall she sucked a good dick.

They found the men away when they came to Womford and decided to have their way with their women. They finally found out some information and was told Quanderil was there.

Cutting down on the small talk Kjorni decided to throw a barrel of salted fish at Quanderil to let him know what he thought about diplomacy and the row began.
IMG_2363.JPG
Codpiece turned into an alligator and dined on salted fish and washed it down with some genasi. They took his boat and decided to head to an inn they could see across the river for some relaxation.

They went to Bargewright Inn and sold the cart and horses because I guess Kjorni thought it was gay to have them. Found out about some barge coming in to port in a few days. Decided that was boring and heard about another cult’s monastery in the middle of the river up North. Since that sounded like a good place to raid they headed there.
IMG_2365.jpeg
Coming upon a hoard of bandits and warlocks the Vikings crashed their boat through the chain barrier true to form and proceeded to raid the monastery.

View
Defeat at the Halls of the Hunting Axe
Paladin Paste

download.jpeg
In the back of the mausoleum, Crith, Quaf, Tamael, Gora and Gurdis found a promising-looking crypt carved in the likeness of a dwarven king in full regalia clutching a stone scepter in one hand and pointing toward the floor with the other.

Inspecting the floor, they noticed that the section in front of the tomb was different from the smooth stone that covered the rest of the room. The twenty-foot square section was composed of one-foot wide slabs, and had a conspicuous hole near the corner. While the others inspected the floor, Tamael noticed that the scepter was a separate piece of stonework that could be removed.

Several awkward moments passed, as the group continued to study the statue in silence. Then, uncharacteristically anxious to move on, Crith grabbed the scepter and jammed it into the hole in the floor. The stone panels sunk into the ground, becoming the beginning of a hidden staircase.

The wide stairs opened into an odd-shaped room. Set into the wall next to the stairs was a stone lever in the “down” position. Braziers similar to the ones above eerily illuminated a pair of large dwarven statues set into alcoves at either side of the room. The statues stood at attention, saluting the beautifully engraved marble sarcophagus against the far wall. Dwarven runes covered its surface, but nobody was able to read them.

Crith and Gurdis positioned themselves at either end of the sarcophagus and prepared to remove the heavy lid. However, before they could even attempt to lift the stone cover, the statues stepped from their alcoves and attacked!

11552010304_8f50c2a4fe_b.jpg
The warriors fought hard, but barely managed to scratch the stone sentinels. Quaf was nearly felled by a single blow from the creatures, and yet he fought on.

Gurdis called upon the strength of Tyr, and his sword blazed with holy fire. He felt the blade bite into the stone, at last inflicting a modicum of damage.

The dwarven statues responded, one pounded Tamael to the ground while the other directed a glowing gaze at the paladin that had wounded it. Immediately, Gurdis’ limbs got heavy, and he found it impossible to move quickly.

Realizing that they were outmatched, everyone began retreating to the stairs. Gurdis watched with confusion as his friends ran away, but decided he should follow them. His legs, however, seemed to prefer staying where they were. With great effort, he trudged after his friends.

The monks moved quickly, carrying the wounded and unconscious Tamael between them up the stairs and back into the crypts above. Gora followed, a few paces behind them. Upon reaching the stairs she turned back to the room. Gurdis’ face was a mix of pain and determination as he moved in slow motion. The slow paladin was so focused on the exit that he did not notice that he had positioned himself right between the animated stone dwarves.

With mechanical efficiency, the statues repeatedly brought down their mallet-like fists onto the oblivious paladin. Gora watched the life leave his eyes as he fell to the cold stone. She closed her eyes and turned away as the mindless sentinel carried out their single mission, grinding the paladin into a lifeless paste. Gora cringed as she heard his skull pop, biting back the bile that rose in her throat.

Unable to just walk away, Gora pulled a rolled up parchment from her pack and read the arcane commands from it, intending on transmuting the stone ceiling to mud. This, at least, would give the paladin some sort of burial while simultaneously harming his killers.

But that’s not what happened.

Uncharacteristically overwhelmed by the emotion of the moment, Gora misread a few key phases. Combined with her visions of the man being literally pounded into a paste caused the mud to instead gush forth from her mouth and nose, pouring down the stairs. Horrified and infuriated, Gora covered her mouth, turned and ran up the stairs.

Gora met her companions concerned gazes with an icy stare as she wiped her mouth with the back of her arm.

“Gurdis?” Crith asked.

Gora took a breath, as much to set her composure as it was to make sure her airway was clear. “He held them off so I could escape.” The lie came easily. She wouldn’t admit that she was unable, and unwilling, to ensure his escape. Especially if it jeopardized her own.

Crith nodded solemnly. “He died a hero’s death.” Crith then reverently removed the stone scepter that had revealed the secret stairway and stowed it in his sack.

“And, hey,” Gora added lightly as she walked away, “He’s buried with a King. That’s not nothing.”

Still carrying the unconscious (but stable) priest, they made their way in silence. Coming to a camp fire, and hearing laughter, they decided it was worthwhile to investigate.

A few small rabbits were roasting over the low fire while two large barbarians laughed and made vulgar gestures and comments involving the rabbit entrails and one of their companion’s mothers.

fireandice-campfire.jpgYeah, something like that

The downtrodden heroes shared their story with the boisterous barbarians. As they told of their encounters with chaotic, fanatical worshippers of the elements, the barbarians became increasingly more interested and attentive. Once in awhile they would interrupt to correct a deity’s name with one from their own pantheon, or comment about a similar experience they had.

It all seemed to align. The barbarians had encountered an ancient evil enticing villagers to drown themselves, been attacked by fish-people and even a kraken. They had fought creatures made of air, those that commanded fire, and those that lived in the rock. And all of this after living their lives thus far without ever encountering anything quite so fantastical.

The barbarians from Folksung decided they should escort these clearly weak individuals to their destination. Hopefully there would be someone braver and stronger at this ‘Summit Hall’ that could help them. Though they cared little for these people and their lands, their experiences troubled the barbarians. It seemed these elemental cults would bring about Ragnarök, whether intentionally or not, this must be prevented if at all possible.

After arriving at Summit Hall and meeting the “warriors” there, they decided that, combined with the signs and visions they had all had, they must take up the quest to either prevent this catastrophe, or die honorably in the final battle.

View
The Bridge to Beliard
Creepy Tinman, Acrophobia, and Tomb Raiding

201bridge.jpg
The fleeing heroes’ feet struck the dry, hard-packed earth in a rapid staccato beat as they worked to distance themselves from the Sacred Stone monastery. Quaf darted overhead, reporting both on what lay ahead, and what pursued from behind. Before long, the shambling mass of recently rescued slaves came into view.

The two groups collided with multiplied urgency. Many of the High Forest monks and their friends did what they could to assist the slower-moving townsfolk. It quickly became clear that they would not be able to outrun their pursuers. Someone mentioned that the Feathergale Society seemed to be enemies of the Sacred Stone monks, and quoting the old “enemy of my enemy” adage, suggested seeking their aid.

“On it.” Quaf replied without hesitation. Beating his wings hard, he lept into the air and quickly shrank to a speck on the horizon.

Now less one defender, the group quickly took stock of their surroundings and laid their plans. Sun called on his inner powers, obscuring the group’s passage, while Crith directed them in using the landscape to their advantage. Tamael saw to the wounded, while Gora and Gurdis prepared to defend them.

Hidden from view in the folds of the landscape, they heard the evil monks pass close enough to hear their breathing. Remarkably, the group remained silent and concealed, and the monks moved away. After a seemingly endless wait, they concluded that they were finally safe to rest – even if only briefly.

Rest, however, was yet to be had.

The ground trembled, sending dust into the air and everyone scrambling for footing. Suddenly the ground exploded, and two enormous insects burst through the crust of the earth, immediately rending with claws and sending corrosive spittle flying.

In the center of the confusion, an earthen-armor-clad warrior astride a bullette burst free of the earth, landing atop three of the former slaves. The rider proceeded to methodically skewer each of the fallen townsfolk with a long, wicked spear.

Furiously they fought against their burrowing foes. Crith attempted to knock the rider from his mount, but the man seemed to be able to root himself and become unmovable.

In the end, the creatures were defeated, but at a cost. Several of the freed slaves now lay dead – victims of a horrible and painful end.

A few hours later, the party managed to patch up the most severe of their wounds and regain some of their strength. Quaf returned with a pair of Feathergale Knights riding giant vultures. The townsfolk were anxious and apprehensive, but were reassured that the knights were on their side. When asked if they would bring the people to safety, they grinned and agreed perhaps a bit too readily.

They then made their way to the river, giving the monastery a wide berth. After deliberating on whether or not they could cross the river, they decided to make camp, then head north to the Stone Bridge in the morning.

At the end of his watch, Crith was surprised to find a suit of armor standing just out of arm’s reach, staring at him. The armor followed them as they began travelling to Beliard.

Along the way, they encountered a group of dwarven miners, who were returning from a pilgrimage to the Stone Bridge. They told the humans and their friends how Moradin himself had appeared on that bridge to rally the dwarves of the Ironstar clan against a horde of orcs. And how the founder of Besilmer – the ancient dwarven empire that previously spanned this region – King Torhild Flametongue died while battling a hill giant atop the Stone Bridge. They said that it is rumored that King Flametongue is buried beneath the Halls of the Hunting Axe, though despite numerous attempts to find his tomb, none have ever found it.

Gora’s eyes glitter, and she mouths the word ‘treasure’ excitedly to Gurdis, who sniffs his armpits and shrugs in response.

The Stone Bridge is a massive archway of smooth, fused granite – two miles long and four hundred feet high – spanning the Dessarin River. At only six paces wide, with no railings, all but Quaf (who dove and flew circles around the narrow bridge) crossed warily. Though all stopped to admire the breathtaking view of the valley.

Evening fell as they arrived in the village of Beliard, a pleasant-looking place an abundance of trees. They put up for the night at an inn named “The Watchful Knight.” Upon reading the sign, they all looked back at the mysterious suit of armor that had been following Crith all day.

The inn was full of rough-looking (though friendly enough) mercenaries and cattle drivers, and smelled strongly of leather and sweat. Gora interrogated the barkeep, and learned that the man she was looking for, Quanderil, was known to operate a keelboat on the river. She and her companions also heard more rumors of buried treasure in the old dwarven ruins of the Halls of the Hunting Axe, though they were warned to avoid the place – there’ve been reports of strange creatures, and many treasure-hungry adventurers have quested there and never returned.

The next day, despite the warnings, the group decided to investigate these ominous dwarven ruins. They were roughly along the way to Summit Hall, and the group was confident they could handle any creepy creatures and ancient curses they might encounter.

Arriving at the ruins, they were less than impressed. Piles of broken stones divided by gaps that were once roads or gardens sprawled around what was once a great structure. Though the evidence of its former glory was reduced to the tooth-like foundations of its sturdiest walls. At the center they found the remnants of a large building. Shards of stained glass still hung desperately to the crumbling walls. A massive dome once topped the structure, but had since collapsed.

p1081094223-3.jpgThe building had four entrances – one on each face – leading to a narrow, winding staircase down into the earth. At the bottom of each set of stairs, they found a nearly identical set of machinery. A large stone flywheel connected to a series of gears leading off into the wall and floor, where the rest of the mechanism was concealed. On the ceiling of each of these rooms was a different symbol. They recognized the symbol used by the earth cultists at the sacred stone monastery, and deduced that the others were symbols of the other elements.

Seeing the mechanism, Gora pushed forward. “Finally! I was born to solve puzzles like this.” After some investigation and experimentation, she and the group discovered the same elemental symbols carved into the flywheel, and how to make the wheel turn. They thought to align the symbol on the wheel to match the one on the ceiling, but the wheel would spring back to its original position as soon as someone let go.

The group split, someone going to each room, and simultaneously aligned the symbols in each room. As they did, a distant grinding and clicking could be heard. Each group still needed to prevent the wheels from springing back, though. Someone noticed a hole in the wheel itself, and wedged a climbing piton into it to lock the wheel in place. Spreading the news, the others did likewise.

Confident that they had solved the mechanical riddle, they set off to explore the grounds and were drawn to a cavernous structure built into a bluff.

Two alcoves flanked the entrance, each with a life-sized dwarven statue of an honor guard wearing full regalia. The statues must have once been impressive works of art, but had been badly weathered and vandalized over the years, and were now just barely recognizable for what they were.

The opening leads back to a hallway extending sixty feet back into the darkness, where it then turned into a staircase. There was a landing every twenty feet. At each landing was a stone brazier. As they went to light the brazier, all of the braziers burst to life, washing the room in a cool light from heatless, blue flame.

IMG_2354.JPG

At the end of the staircase, the room opened into a great hall filled with massive, square columns reaching all the way to the thirty-foot-high ceiling. Each column had an alcove carved into one half of each face. The alcoves contained tombs carved into stone effigies of the interred dead. Many of these tombs were broken open, exposing the bones of the dead within. The broken shards of the tombs littered the floor, crunching underfoot as the party began exploring the ancient tomb.

IMG_2353.JPG

View
The Sacred Stone Monks Part 2
Escape

monastery3.jpg
While the others labored, it became known that Tamael possessed talent as a healer. The monks of the Sacred Stone were not interested in enhancing their endurance through healing. They were, however, greatly interested in recovering from their trials more quickly, and being able to push themselves – and their initiates – farther. Due to this, they excused the priest from the arduous trials awaiting his compatriots, making him instead, tend to the increasingly hideous wounds of the fanatical monks.

After days of separation, Tamael was finally given a few moments of peace. He chose to take this time to seek out his friends. He hadn’t seen them around the kitchens, and seeing how the monks enjoyed tormenting themselves, he decided to check the dojo, next. He was glad he did.

When Tamael opened the heavy door to the dojo, he was greeted with a gruesome scene. The twisted body of a monk lay face down in a pool of blood in the center of the straw mats. The bodies of four other Sacred Stone monks lay scattered around the room. Amongst (and in same cases, under) them were some of his friends – the very heroes he was supposed to protect!

Tamael went to work quickly, seeing first to those most wounded. As soon as they were able, before uttering another word, they took what they could, and snuck out the dojo’s other door. As luck would have it, this joined a hallway near a side entrance, and they snuck out into the open air.

Quaf quickly spotted an alcove behind an enormous, natural stone pillar. Sheltered behind this barrier, they rested briefly, recovering from the worst of their wounds while Quaf kept watch from above. They were now decidedly in enemy territory, and without their equipment. And they had yet to locate the captive slaves.

Exhausted and battered, but not beaten, the band of emerging heroes cautiously – yet bravely – reentered the monastery.

M_African_Hanging.JPGSearching for their equipment first, they poked their heads into a distillery, leaving before the monks working there could see them (but not before Quaf pilfered one of the bottles of brandy). Aside from a magically locked door that they could not open, there was only one other room, which formerly belonged to the late abbess. The room was bare, with the exception of a plain desk, simple table and chairs, a sleeping pallet, and a few macrame wall hangings. In a utilitarian chest, they found a few valuables (800sp, 12pp, 12 turquoise stones = 10gp each), and a key on a hook by the door. They added the key to the one they removed from around the abbess’ neck and pocketed the coin and gems.

Without returning to the more populated half of the monastery, their only choice was a set of stairs descending below. There was a door at the base of the stairs, behind which they could hear low, guttural voices. Peaking inside, they could see an ogre and three orogs, sitting around and conversing in their own language. The group burst through the doors, taking the creatures by surprise and quickly dropping the large, flabby ogre.

“Haha, Drool, you pussy!” one of the orogs shouted as the ogre fell, even as he lept to avenge the incompetent guard. The orogs put up a fight, but were ultimately defeated by the weary adventurers. It appeared one of guards had been secretly stashing valuables from their captives under a loose flagstone beneath his bedroll (90gp, 40ep). One of them also had a pair of keys.

Hunger gnawed at their bellies and exhaustion clouded their minds as they wandered the caverns and passageways, searching for signs of life. Just when they thought they were completely lost, the reentered the guard room from the other side – ending where they began. Exasperated, but oriented, they continued their methodical (and monotonous) search.

They soon found themselves in a barrel-vaulted chamber that was obviously a crypt, but it seemed as if it had not been used in centuries. Niches along the walls held dozens of old skeletons, some with scraps of burial cloth still clinging to their bones. At the east end of the crypt stood a magnificent stone sarcophagus. As they fanned out to search the room, bones stirred and bodies rose to defend their ancient resting place. The adventurers were set upon by no less than a half dozen rotting zombies. Already weary, their limits were tested as the bodies continued to rise, despite taking lethal amounts of damage. Eventually, they managed to destroy the animated corpses and continue their search of the room.

One of the skeletons wore two rings (silver w/ rubies = 600gp, ring of fire resistance), but otherwise, there was no treasure. The elaborate sarcophagus was empty, though inscribed with the text: “Here Lies Samular Caradoon. Defender of the North.” Adding to their frustration was another magically locked door that proved to be an impassable barrier.

After a bit, less directionally challenged exploration of what was clearly a mine of some sort (though what they were mining, it wasn’t clear), they came to three rooms that had been excavated from the rock and sealed with barred doors. Using the keys they had obtained earlier, the party released seventeen captives, and were promptly showered with heartfelt thanks, and stories of how hooded strangers had abducted them from town.

One of the captives, a dwarf with an academic air about him named Bruldenthar, mentioned that he had travelled with the Mirabar delegation. He confirmed that they were ambushed, and by earth cultists. The cultists used his books as payment to pirates who ferried the group across the Dessarin river. Along the way, they were attacked by bandits flying on giant vultures, who had captured the delegate Deseyna Norvael. He also told them that there was nothing valuable in the mine, and that some of his companions, Rhundorth and Teresiel, were taken below and had not returned.

As they set out to lead the slaves to safety, a group of duergar intercepted them. Gora charmed one, using him to dismiss the others and act as an escort through the monastery. Luckily, the rest of the way was clear, and they led the slaves out the side door they had used earlier, giving them directions and promising to catch up quickly.

Sneaking down the dormitory halls, they tried the door next to the one they had bunked in while enduring their hazing period. It was locked, and none of the keys opened it. Gora convinced the duergar to stand guard while they broke in. As quietly as they could, they broke the lock and filed into the room.

Quickly, they searched, and soon found their equipment – but time was running out. They could hear the monks gathering outside, and beginning to demand entry. Kicking open a locked chest, they found some more coin (120gp, 90ep), some fine, cloth-of-gold priestly vestments (40gp), 2 gold bracelets (30gp each), and three scrolls (earthbind, Maximilian’s earthen grasp, transmute rock).

There was a commotion outside, and they evaluated their options. Weary and wounded, they decided not to fight the at least dozen-or-so monks (and who knows what other creatures) on the other side of the door, and chose instead to squeeze through the narrow window. Tossing whatever they could as obstacles, they made their way one-by-one through the window, with Gurdis and Tamael needing some extra shoving to get through.

monastery2.jpg

They tumbled onto the hard, dry earth and immediately began running (except for Quaf, who flew). The sounds of shouted orders drifted after them as they raced through the narrow ravine, trying to put as much distance between them and the monastery in as little time as possible, and rapidly catching up to the group of seventeen former-slaves, shambling their way to freedom.

View
The Sacred Stone Monks Part 1
Infiltration

220monks.jpg
After returning from the successful manticore hunt, Thurl Merosska – true to his word – awards his ring to the unassuming Tamael Talstag, who delivered the killing blow. Thurl would not have believed that this diminutive priest could have felled such a beast on what had to be his first flight if his men hadn’t vouched for Tamael. The hunters then returned to finish the final course of their feast, washing down sweet cakes with mulled wine.

The Feathergale Knights were kind enough to share their bunks with the adventurers, and offered them a filling breakfast the next morning.

“If you’re heading east,” Thurl said, catching them before they departed, “there is a monastery that we believe to be harboring evil creatures and vile men. I would very much appreciate knowing what is going on behind those walls. Consider it a repayment of hospitalities.” he grinned as he marked the location on their map. The adventurers swore they heard a dinging noise as he did so, and Gurdis mumbled “Quest Unlocked”, but they seemed to be the only ones to notice.

Just before leaving, Savra pulled Gora aside. She was giddy with the possibility of having another woman in the ranks, and offered to put in a good word with Thurl, if they wanted to join. She added, seemingly hoping to capture their interest, that the Feathergale Society had a secret mission to master the element of air in order to crush Waterdeep’s enemies and restore her to her former glory.

After hours of travelling north, around the vale, and across seemingly endless hills, they spotted a small group of local barbarians. The barbarians were only interested in throwing them off their land. Luckily, Gora blew them away. No wait – she blew them and they went away.

Not long afterward, the trail wound through ever-narrowing bluffs of windswept sandstone. As the trail had narrowed so they could reach out and touch either side, it opened into a hidden canyon nestled in the heart of the hills. A sprawling monastery with narrow windows and red tile rooftops stands in the middle of this natural amphitheatre, ringed by sandstone cliffs all around.

The weary group climbed the weathered stone steps up to a pair of heavy timber doors bound with iron studs. They pounded a hideous, gargoyle-faced knocker and waited for a reply. Moments later, a small panel slid open, revealing a scowling, golden gargoyle face. From behind the mask comes a female voice. “Yes? What do you want?”

Crith cleared his throat and stepped forward. “Ahem, yes. We have come from the High Forest to meditate with you.”

“I’m sorry. We’re not accepting visitors.” came the woman’s cold reply, followed by the sharp crack of the slat slamming closed.

Again they rapped the gargoyle knocker, and again the small portal opened. This time they inquired about the missing Mirabar delegation. Despite the woman claiming not to know anything, she made a glance to an unseen comrade behind the door that did not go unnoticed. Sensing her resolve wearing down, the party pressed on, insisting that they had come too far to go back, and wanted to prove themselves worthy as peers of the Sacred Stone monks.

The gatekeepers reluctantly let them in and led them to a large room with pillars in the corners, and a large stone altar in the center. There they spoke with a monk named Qabo, who interviewed them, asking them personal and uncomfortable questions all while wearing a smirk like he was enjoying their discomfort.

After agreeing to take them in, a pair of gargoyle-masked monks came and relieved them of all of their posessions. They were given robes to wear, and put to work in the kitchens. Food was at a minimum, and when they weren’t working, they were meditating or performing feats of endurance (things like holding buckets in each outstretched arm, or doing knuckle pushups over a crevasse). Sometimes both simultaneously.
The goal of these activities, they were told, was to exercise self-denial and self-reflection. After a few days of greuling physical activity and meditation, they were again called into the shrine to meet with Qarbo. He told them he had one last test, and guided them down the stairs behind the altar. The exhausted group followed without question.

As soon as the last of them had cleared the first few steps, Qarbo pulled a concealed lever in the corner of the rooms, collapsing the stairs and opening the gate to a cage containing an Umber Hulk. Luckily the umber hulk’s eyes had been damaged, and it was without its befuddling gaze. Unfortunately, its claws had been augmented with metal blades.

Amazingly, the unarmed party managed to dispatch the umber hulk without too much injury. After killing the beast, Qarbo re-enabled the stairs and muttered something about them “passing the test” and sent them to the dojo to meet the abbess.

There they met five monks. Two had already been beaten fairly severely by one of the others. As they entered, the monk they identified as the abbess called them forward one-by-one. Though Gora waved her hand and said something like “this is not the monk you’re looking for” and was skipped over, the rest were called up in turn. She gave each a beating and moved to the next. Sun tried to envelop her in darkness, but at the last moment noticed that the eyes of her mask were solid.

As the abbess was starting to become injured and looked like she might back off, Gora and Sun broke protocol and attacked her from behind, causing massive damage. The rest took the opportunity to unload everything they had, grinding the formerly formidable warrior-monk to a paste. They then dispatched the remaining monks and took stock of their situation.

Too wounded and weary to confront the remaining monks, they snuck out through a nearby door and took a brief rest hidden in the gorge.

Sneaking back in they came to a secluded room and made some macramé
resource_546f480454c36.jpg
Found the slaves and helped them escape.

View
Arrival in Red Larch
Rumors, Shallow Graves, and Feathered Knights

Red_Larch.jpg

Two groups of travellers with different backgrounds, but similar goals, arrived in the town of Red Larch shortly after breakfast. The mysterious wizardess and her companion, Servant of Mystery Tamael Talstag, entered town from the south, while the band of monastic brothers arrived from the north. Both headed to the center of town to get their bearings.

While the others observed the people and structures of the town, Gurdis gazed open-mouthed at the woman in ill-fitting leathers across the street. “Pretty Lady!” he exclaimed, like a child finding a copper piece. Crith and Quaf followed his gaze, but not his enthusiasm.

The woman noticed their gazes and brazenly strode over to them. “Hello, Handsome.” She smiled at Gurdis, who smiled gleefully back.

Introductions were made, and the monks explained that they were searching for a missing delegation from Mirabar. Tamael and Gora, as the woman had introduced herself, offered their assistance in hopes of achieving their own goals.

With little information to go on, the group started at the nearby Allfaiths Shrine, where they met a sweet acolyte of Sune named Lymmura, who was kind and likable, but not very informative. There they also met Imdar Relvaunder, a priest of Tumpus, and ally to the Order of the Gauntlet. He gave them an idea of some of the rumors in town, but nothing specific. He did, however, tell them that the delegation never arrived at Summit Hall, and was last seen in Beliard.

They then headed to Thelorn’s Safe Journey, a wainwright the monks had passed on their way into town, thinking that they may be able to find out more about the delegation. Thorsk and Asdan Thelorn, the proprietors, were friendly enough, but eager to get back to work. They didn’t have any additional information about the delegation, and the group was soon on their way again.

Figuring a social hub, such as one of the local taverns, might allow them to gather more information in less time, they allowed Quaf to convince them to enter the Helm at Highsun. This dimly lit, well-worn tavern was well populated with the local working class, unwinding after a hard day of work. The air was filled with stories, laughter, and friendly taunts.

Breaking from the group, Gora used her “charm” to interrogate the barkeep about a bandit named Quanderil. The barkeep, however, had more to say about his failed mercantile ventures in Waterdeep, and knew nobody by that name. Quaf took the opportunity of the mutually distracted pair to down the contents of the wizardess’ wine glass, and disappear back into the crowd.

Their investigation was interrupted when a loud argument broke out between a few human men and a larger, and more intoxicated, female half-orc. Crith, Tamael and Gurdis followed them outside and managed to diffuse the situation and question her about her travels and the delegation before she left. They learned only that she had brawled with some of the delegation guards near Beliard about a tenday and a half prior.

Asking around, they picked up several other rumors. Someone mentioned that a crate marked with a strange, triangular symbol resembling a mountain and containing a dozen beautiful dwarven books showed up in the cargo of a shady keelboat skipper. There was also a shepherd who had discovered four mysterious, fresh, shallow graves a few miles outside of town.

The party asked the shepherd about the whereabouts of the graves. He agreed to take them, but insisted they wait until morning. He mentioned that, not only was travel more dangerous these days – and more questionable travellers coming through town – but there were superstitious rumors, and even many the quarryworkers, who typically worked well into the night, refused to be out after dark.

The next morning, they gathered their things and headed out. It took a few hours to get there, but the shepherd led them to the graves, as promised. Beneath the simple rock cairns, on the barren hilltop, they discovered a male dwarf in artisan robes, a female human warrior in a red surcoat with a black axe – which someone identified as the uniform of the Mirabar army, a male human in white robes with black feathers on the shoulders, and another male human wearing strange armor apparently made of stone.

All seemed to have died from arrow wounds or crushing blows. When touched, the stony armor crumbled into sand, rendering it unusable.

While the rest searched, Quaf circled high above, keeping watch. While there, he spotted a prominent, pointed rock southwest of Red Larch, and a tower northwest of their current location, slightly out of the way of their travel between here and town. The tower was visible to those on the ground, and could be seen for most of the trip, but Quaf was able to discern that some of the large birds circling the tower seemed to have riders.

The shepherd explains that they are knights from Waterdeep who sometimes come to Feathergale Spire, riding flying monsters. But they keep to themselves. Intrigued nonetheless, they decide to investigate, since it’s not far out of the way.

Travelling northwest, they skirted the Sighing Valley with the help of their aerial scout, and approached the tower from the rim of the gorge. The wind blowing through the canyon sounded somewhere between a lover sighing, and a coyote howling. Eerie and foreboding, while at the same time piquing one’s curiosity.

A courteous young woman named Savra welcomed them at the tower’s gate, and invited them to meet with the Knight’s commander, Thurl Merosska. Thurl is a well-built man in his fifties wearing plate armor embossed with feathery patterns and a regal cloak with a feathered mantle.

He introduces himself as the lord commander of the Feathergale Society, and welcomes the newcomers to join their feast in celebration of the society’s tenth year. When asked about the bodies, his face darkens, and he warns them of a great evil lurking among the hills. Depraved cultists led by wretched monsters. He postpones further discussions until after they’ve feasted.

While the feast is prepared, the team explored the tower. Quaf’s pockets jingled more loudly the longer they searched. Besides the valuables and personal effects befitting of noblemen from Waterdeep, there was an intriguing letter found on what could only be Thurl’s desk. It read:

Merosska,
We are pleased to hear about the outcome of your altercation with the Black Earth cult, and we praise you for the capture of one of their prisoners. This noblewoman from Waterdeep has an interesting tale to tell, and we shall enjoy interrogating her further. Xeep a close watch on the Sacred Stone Monastery. I want to know what our enemy is planning next.
Your beloved queen,
Aerisi Kalinoth

During dinner, a sentry bursts in and announces that a manticore has been spotted. Thurl invites them to the hunt, removing a feather-patterned golden ring set with a garnet and offering it to whoever slays the creature. Eager for some action, the group agrees.

After a short chase through the mists that had settled in the valley, three groups of riders converge on the manticore and make short work of it. Thurl grants the reward, as promised, complementing the group’s abilities. He also asks if they might investigate the Sacred Stone Monastery for him. He suspects the monks are harboring evil.

On their way out, Savra pulls Gora aside and offers to meet with Thurl and request that he extend an invitation for her group to join the Society. She also confides that they have a secret mission to master the element of air and use it to annihilate Waterdeep’s enemies and restore her to her former glory.

View
The Journey Begins - Part 2
Beauty and the Priest

Tamael returned to his room and began fastidiously packing his travel bags. So intent was he, that he did not notice the figure standing near the hearth until she spoke.

“Going somewhere?” Came a throaty, feminine voice, full of suggestion. Behind her, in the fireplace, a blue flame hungrily consumed the last bit of what appeared to be a parchment.

“Mistress be merciful!” He shouted, dropping a pack of salted pork. “Who are you and what are you doing in my room?” the visibly shaken priest managed to demand with a small level of composure.

“Mistress will do. But I’m not exactly the merciful type.” she said as she closed the distance between them, putting her straining leather bustier at his eye level. She bent forward suggestively and pick up the package he’d dropped, then placed it in his hands. “You ought to be more careful with how you handle your meat… Servant Talstag.”

At this he blinked and stared at her, searching for some flicker of familiarity that perhaps he had missed in his surprise.

“No. You don’t know me.” She said, answering his unspoken question. “But you are travelling to Red Lark, in the Sumber Hills. And I just so happen to need an escort.”

Tamael tilted his head. “Uh, I think you mean Red Larch. But how did you-”

She placed a delicate finger on his lips to silence him. “Doesn’t matter. You have a mission for your Mistress. That is all that matters.” A blue spark jumped from her fingertip to his upper lip, causing him to blink and jump back. By the time he had regained his composure, he saw a black leather boot disappear out the door, followed by the mysterious woman’s fading voice. “I’ll be downstairs. Be sure to bring your meat.”

View
The Journey Begins - Part 1
The Monks

Earth.png

Living in solitude at the edge of the High Forest, a bandaged elven monk tosses in his sleep.

He stands powerless as the earth tears violently apart, reducing masterworks of architecture to rubble and swallowing thousands of innocents. Watching the spectacle from atop a large rock, carved with an unusual triangular symbol, is a male medusa. His eyes burn with jealous rage and his mouth is twisted in a mocking smirk. The snakes atop his head writhe and hiss euphorically.

Crith Blalath has had this dream before, but never this vivid, or for this long. Despite his monastic discipline, he was unable to wake himself.

Then Crith was suddenly lying on his back at the bottom of a shallow pit with the medusa standing over him. He extended a sympathetic hand to Crith. Crith felt a sudden and overwhelming hatred of those who take their natural beauty for granted, and moreso for those who flaunted it. Rage clouded his vision, of which the medusa stood in the center. A sudden fit of revulsion washed over Crith, and he swatted away the creature’s offered hand. Its snarling combined with the hissing of a dozen snakes followed him into consciousness as he awoke to see the branches stirring in the breeze above him. A breeze that was unusual this time of day, unless there was a storm coming.

Absently, Crith raised a bandaged hand to his scarred face, but was stopped by the mask he wore. It had been a long time – longer by Human standards – but he knew it was time to return to the monastery.

The monastery was crowded, and the calm that usually permeated this place was tinged with anxiety and anticipation – apparently he wasn’t the only one who had been disturbed by ominous dreams and visions. Additionally, two knights had arrived – one gravely injured.

Crith learned that one of the knights was none other than the boy he had once attempted to mentor. Though the discipline of a monastic life did not well suit him, it seemed that Gurdis had found his place with the holy knights of Tyr.

That evening, the monks gathered with their elders. “My brothers,” one elder began, “Sir Casivir has been too gravely injured to continue his quest.” He paused for a quick, silent prayer before continuing. “As friends to his order, and his squire,” the monk bowed slightly toward Gurdis, “we are honor bound to continue his quest. Among a mixed delegation from Mirabar, representatives from the Order of the Gauntlet carried the body of a fallen knight, who was to be interred with honor at Summit Hall near the Sumber Hills.” The monk paused again, this time for emphasis. “They have not arrived, nor have they been heard from or seen for over a month. Sir Casivir was en route to locate the delegation and provide them any assistance they may require.”

Without another word, Crith stepped forward and bowed deeply. Though long ago by human standards, time passed differently for the elves, and his still-strong bond with the man-child Gurdis (as well as another, more mystical force – fate, perhaps) compelled him to accompany Gurdis.

The elders bowed in return. “Brother Quaf. I believe your unique talents will prove invaluable on this quest. Will you join?” An affirming chirp came from the back of the room, and a bird-man in specially tailored robes bounced forward and gave a quick, sharp bow that reminded Crith of a cock pecking in the grass.

“So shall it be.” said the same elder. In unison the elders folded their hands before their faces and bowed. The rest of the monks bowed in kind. “Please gather your supplies and rest the night here. You shall depart with the rising sun on your back.”

View
This is my first log

well shiiitt

31p63WXzh2L._SY355_.jpg

View

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