This is the second great background i've read from Chrysalis700. I need to subscribe to your newsletter. Now that you've had more information come your way about the campaign and other characters has it changed your backstory any? It's a DM's dream to get such great detailed backgrounds, keep up the cool concepts.
Host of the HTL Podcast Series: http://www.holdtheline.com/media/category/htl-podcast.6/
I have received some new information on the campaign and some information on the characters. We will be having our first test game this Sunday and based on that test game we will see if it turns into a campaign or not.
The character concept does not actually change. The only thing that I piolitely requested is that Jenn is a 2nd cousin of Lady Moonfire.
I created a duelist as those were the more appropriate powers and fit her fantasy of being a noble.
Wow!!! Now this is what ROLEPLAYING game means. This is my first time reading such an extensive backround (and I play dnd 3 years now). You've got talent kid. Do not waste it. Have you ever considered being a novel-writer???
I have two after action reports written up of the adventures so far.
I am the groups note taker so it gives me the perfect excuse to write up the story as it unfolds.
I have a nice room in Loudwater. It looks over th river from the second floor. The staircase is rickety and the windows are small, the only heat and warmth in the room comes from a small fireplace which runs low at night. The bed is cold and damp to the touch. I was never one to sleep in beds.
I lived off the money I had made form the magical objects. I saved and scrimped, but thieves would not be accepted in this city. I had come to like Aleck. He was a friend even if he did not know it. Besides, how could I be a noblewoman's daughter if I did not have any idle money to spend?
There was a knock on the door and I opened it. My heart fluttered and went still like a scared bird, for it was Aleck. I smiled at him and let him in.
He explained that the well we had previously emptied was now glowing and that the rest of our acquiantances of our last adventure was at the Inn. I picked up my things and looking around the room one last time left its confining insides.
Kurufar had explained that the well was glowing and that we should explore it further. After some waiting we walked out and started our next adventure. I felt some hesitancy as this would mean going with the ranger and passing by the location where I had killed the goblin.
The first night we encountered a shadow passing over our camp. The dragon/like monster ignored us as it winged its way north. We played around and the ranger tried out his birdlike formations.
We reached the well and walked around. We were not sure what to expect so we carefully approached the well. The well was definitely glowing.
Aeliade, a nayad in the form of a woman swamped from the well. She was grateful for our assistance in clearing up the pollution of the past event. However, the water was cold. Too cold for a natural reason. The hoarfrost around the well crunched underfoot as we stood and listened to the explanations.
A dwarf called Dun from Loudwater was responsible. Aeliade did not know where the coldness was coming from, but it was our responsiblity to right this wrong.
We walked back to Loudwater and there we talked with Lady Moonfire about a dwarf. A man we would later know as Dorak Drake or ... . Lady Moonfire had a relationship with the dwarf and that relationship soured as Drake explored more forbidden arts. He left and was seen heading to Winterhaven and not heard from since.
We ventured towards winterhaven. As we progressed the weather went from a light chill of fall to brisk cold of autumn.
Winterhaven is a trappers community. The log houses are rough hewn and the roads are muddy. We walked on the boarded promenades and wondered who should we ask further about the tower and Drake. No-one seemed to have seen the dwarf and we ventured to talk with the local laird.
In the centre of the town is a moat and bailey and inside the bailey the local laird controlled the town. He was the sheriff and tax collector of the land. He did not know much only that the dwarf had left for the tower to North West of Winterhaven in the direction of the hills.
We bought winter clothing. I had never been so heavily wintered than when I was in these clothing. Already I was feeling warm as we trudged towards. the tower.
As we approachaed the frozen fingers of winter came upon us. The wind grew and the white haze that covered the hills turned itself from a chill wind to the frozen fingers of a blizzard. We kept moving forward the visibility going to near none. We were all roped together and working ahrd in staying together.
As we moved closer to the tower the wind and snow whipped us harder. The mage found out that the blizzard was unnatural and was fey made. As we noticed that it was illusion fueled the wind became less the pinch of the wind and ice became less.
We walked further, we could see the tower now. The rocks and boulders around us creating treatcherous footing. We were attacked on such a mix of calderas and river spat rocks by a group of incarnations of ice. They were supposedly ice fey, but thry looked like the undead encased in ice. We defeated them and then reached the tower.
The tower itself was surrounded by statues and each statue was greater in size than the last. I sought to go around, braving the gauntlet, but I ended up with the taunts of others failing. I went unconcious at one point and then fell down the ridge.
Finally I admitted my own defeat and climbed up the rope like everyone else.
The tower was ice encased and the only way we could get through was with the mages hands. I tried to lock pick the lock, but I failed the first time. Finally we opened the door and there was a golem on the bottom floor. Like the statues this one was frozen, but underneath its statuelike exterior a magical will stood. The mage pushed the golem into a corner as we ran up the two flights of stairs.
There were further ice fey on the second floor. Most of whom we dispatched quite quickly. The chaos creatures sought to come up from the stoves that had turned into portals to ice realm of the fey wild. We blocked the stoves and could hear the scrunch of chaos creatures as they were crushed against the blockage.
We found the mage's artefacts of magical research on the third floor. The ranger thought it amusing to pee on the magical circle while the rest of us sought out items among the rubble of his alchemical and magical research. Only glass and trinkets. Although the mage was enthused on finding three vials with an alchemical tincture.
On the fourth and final floor we found a gem that was ice encased. Attempts at burning away the ice, did not bring about any reaction, so we created from a sturdy bench a ram and rammed away the ice from the gem. Finally the shard was freed from the egg shell of ice and we could see the careful scratchings on it.
Whatever it had been was now the yoke of winter and fearful of what might happen they argued about who should touch it. While they were arguing I touched it. For what would be the worst thing that would happen?
I would soon find out when a creature materialised from the gem, the gem itself pulsing now like a heart and our mage cast fire on the centre of the gem and the creature. We fought the creature and I was one of the last to land a damaging blow on it. Finally the creature dead we stood and looked on what would happen next.
Like most events for our troubled group this one too started with an argument.
It was not about the the monster, for it was slain. It was not about the gem for it had been shattered. It was not about the winter for that was fading. It was about what to do with a golem.
While I rested and cut away burnt hair and mended broken clothes, my fellow women, the bard Ka'an and the mage Sari went about madly seeking knowledge to chain the golem to their will. Sari pored over the tomes that had survived the ransaking of the tower and sough out its name.
We left the tower, it's spiraled statues looking over the gauntlet of the road. The wind bringing with it an autumnal breeze as wound our way to Winterhave. That name and the golem itself eluded the grasp of our arcanists.
The moon was high in the cloud gilted darkness when we approached winterhaven. The deadened rustle of the wind could be seen in the glint of the tall grass and falled leafed undergrowth. While we looked on we could see the tops of heads of creatures appearing amongst the grass. They ran hither and thither and their quiet barks were picked up by the wind and thrown at us.
We approached and followed them and like snakes in the grass did they attack us on near the banks of the river. We readily fought these scaled creatures and won. A band of raiding kobolds, the kind I had seen before, they were smiply seeking to steal what they could not find.
As we stripped them of their valuables, our two arcanists sought to summon the fey by the river. We disagreed for we wanted the dryness of a hearth fire and the taste of warm food. The two with the accompanienement of the ranger staid at the river despite our enticements turned warnings and we went to Winterhaven and arrived at the Wrafton Inn.
In the morning our errant party members arrived in time of the scraping of the communal pot. It was a meaty stew which the ate and scraped the breakfast pot clean with the flat bread.
Considering the dangers of kobolds and the now near-cleared tower, we decided to talk Ernest Padraig, the Lord of Winterhaven. We went to the fortified manor and after talking with his manservant was able to gain an audience with his lordship.
During this time we had found out what had originally felt like mere days had turned out to be weeks. Nonetheless, we informed of the success at the tower and the defeat of the fey-wracked winter.
The Lord as a parting gift of money also raised to our awareness that Kurufar and his companion Falftrun who had been passing through before us had not been heard from. By this time it would have been a month and they would have come back, unless something had happened to them. The lord as a final piece of advise recommended we contact Ainad who often wintered at the inn.
Ainad was a large man, although I am tiny even compared with our human bard. Ainad,is local trapper who knew the region and its many secrets. When he was younger he and a few other had thoughts of hunting dragons and tracked an elderly dragon to the location of a dragon burial ground. While he never did dare to attack it, he knows the location and that's where he guided Kurufar and Falftrun.
Without much ado and even less farewells we tracked up north. The path that woul dhave winded us to the tower instead we held to the side of the river continuing up north until the river split to the East. We headed west deeper into the coniferous forest. Seeking out a river and this place of possible treasure and danger called Silverglade.
After a bit of false footing and treatcherous paths we reached the small lake by Silverglade. To the west of it echoed Ainad's tale of the dragon's graveyard.
As we approached the sound of excavation could be heard, the movement of ground and the grunt of men. A halfling sat on a rock near the outcropping from which we could see the clearing and the excavation. Four men worked in a pit 30-50 feet wide all the time supervised by a gnome with a terrible disposition.
Ka'an insisted on talking with the halfling and while she was distracting him, I crept along in the underbrush until I could see him correctly. The discussion was not going in Ka'an choosing and in a fit of pique blasted him with a spell. I also shot at the halfling near killing him and the rest attacked the camp. When the fighting had ended, two of the workers dead or dying and the other two surrendered. The gnome escaped and was given chase by the ranger who we would promise to meet later.
Kurufar and Flaftrun had been kept tied up in the tent and were eager to help themselves to the food and only once their stomachs were full did they tell us of what the gnome was seeking. Strangely they themselves staid silent on their purpose of coming to this remote location.
After a careful search we discovered a lockbox and inside the lockbox a mirror. As is usual they harrangued me on my skills with the bar and the tongue and yet eagerly sought to see the treasure in the box.
On stained straw a silver mirror lay. Kurufar and Falfrun explained that this was Mirror of Nirath, from the old treasure of the Kingdom. Whose kingdom I was unsure, but obviosuly had been left for many a century. On the bottom of the mirror is an inscription in a writing none of us have seen and between two shields, lies an orb of some make and manufacture that appears to be dangerous. Kurufar and Faltrun are silent on the dangers of the mirror and I have learned not to look into such things too deeply.
Among our search a kennel was found and a great puppy, badly treated and malnourished was found. Ka'an after great debate chose adopt it. I fear that she only adopted because Aleck would grow fond of it and raise it. Ka'an is a petulant person and I fear does not have the patience of training such a creature. Perhaps Ka'an will learn when it's her hand in the dog's mouth.
We left the excavation and trekked back towards Winterhaven, on our way to our final destination - Loudwater.
We were back in Winterhaven. The mirror was in Kurufar and Fhaltrun's possession. The two magicians were shut up in Fhaltrun's modest tower, doing research on the mirror and recuperating.
On the third day the ranger, Risk, returned with a wild story about a ruined fort with four goblins and a gnome. The gnome was the illusionist slaver who excavated the mirror of the Nerathian empire, wresting it from the bosom of the ground into his own clutches. He had carefully tracked the gnome from the previous encounter at the excavation to this strange location.
The ruin contained an excavation pit in its North West part, a shack nearby and a trap door which lead down into the subterranean rooms below. Risk, only scouted out the basic layout and nothing else.
While we argued, as we have a wont to do, the merits of exploring a location only one and a half days away from Winterhaven a messenger appeared searching for us.
He took us to Fhaltrun's tower. The tower was a squat two story, cylinder with a slight conical rooftop. It may have once been a mote in less civilized times, but now served as Fhaltrun's home. The 2nd floor of the tower was devoted a to a large living room and study. The walls around it were filled with books and curious. I had never seen so many books, while everyone was positioning themselves in the semi circle of chairs, I walked over to the bookshelf and picked up a random book. The writing was in a manner that made my head hurt and the image showed an image of a grotesquely overweight creature who held a sword and scepter. It looked like a mockery of the human form, with it's rictus face, cloven feet and ram horns. Orcus - Lord of the undead was written underneath. I closed the book, placing it back and sat down next to every one else.
The two wizards were looking healthier and less emaciated than the last time I had seen. Fhaltrun was slowing regaining his healthy paunch instead of sad flow of partial stomach. They sat in steeple backed chairs, carefully filigreed with runic inscriptions and arcane symbols. Between them on a lace covered table, the mirror lay. While we sat and wondered what was happening, Kurufar asked the messenger to bring us refreshments.
With the door firmly shut, we were explained that the mirror can be used in a ritual and could be potentially be very destructive. The inscription below the mirror spoke of about covering the world in Shadow.
The ruined fort Risk had found was an outpost of the Nerath empire. It's purpose was to be a bastion against the shadow world. A lock on the gate, so to speak. A world in which Orcus rules. I had heard of Orcus before, but decided not to speak for after all it would be hard to explain where the knowledge came from.
The fort had once been protected by an order of paladins, but no more. Sir Keegan went mad and his madness, he killed his children, murdered his wife and ruined the castle around him. He lived an unnatural long life until disappearing from the memory of hillfolk.
While the upper levels had been completely destroyed, Kurufar and Fhaltran conjectured that the lower levels were probably intact. The influence of the shadow world could also spread. They beseeched us for help and who were we to deny them the offer. We asked questions and the mention of Lathander's cult was in opposition to darkness and could perhaps seek to help us with their light of divine guidance. I did carefully ask about the Royal Treasury of Nerath of which the mirror was a part of. This was the final piece of information which seemed to tip us towards going to the fort and exploring. Not the civic duty, not the appreciation of the gods, but the promise of riches.
There was a bit of insecurity on who should do what and in what way. I advocated prudence. This lead to Risk storming out in his normal state of demanding we should venture forth immediately. I divided up the tasks, placing on my best political face. The kind I saw in Waterdeep by the rich and affluent. Ka'an went to seek information in the inn, checking for stories of cults, strangers and the fort. Aleck went to the laird of Winterhaven seeking finances and knowledge of the more official kind. Sari asked the sister in the local pastoral temple for help. I on the other hand, went in search of a smith to mount the amberite heart I had and to seek out the common stocks of adventuring equipment we would need.
When we left, we had received two healing potions and a scroll of invisibility from Kurufar and Fhaltrun, an amulet of protection from the sister of Lathander, and I a necklace with the heart clasped to it.
In the wilderness, I would ride Risk in his more bestial form of a white dire bear, the necklace nearly the size of my head, occasionally hitting my face and jaw numbing it, while the chain duck into the back of neck and shoulders. I have never worn a gaudier shackle, but I felt I had to for Ka'an eyed it with great envy and I could see her desire on having it.
We passed Silverlake and came close to the fort. The walls half stood like a proudly smashed bottle among the more rounded high hills surrounding it. Inside was the dig in the North West corner of the fort and shack next to it. In the middle in the ruined keep was a double doored entry to the catacombs below. From the catacombs two goblins would exit and patrol around the fort. We timed them and found when was the best time to attack them.
Attack them we did and they fell quietly and neatly. With our scroll of invisibility did we enter the hatch and progress inside. There was a goblin guard ahead of us and while I was approaching him, did I walk across the stone slabs which buckled underneath making me fall into a pit of teeming hungry rats.
The goblin was dispatched, but I was still brushing off rats. Rats do not need to see me and I had some scratches on me. I think the heart may have clubbed one of them. We had a bit of an argument afterwards. It was quite comical as most of us were invisible, with words like this and that way it was so amusing if it wasn't that we were trying to remain quiet.
Eventually a goblin stuck it's head out from behind a curtain and asked us to stop the incessant racket. Risk chased it and killed it. We search further into the complex. By this time we had little of the invisibility left. I had mere heartbeats left when I saw two goblin guards at a table. I approached one until I was a hairsbreadth away and fired my crossbow. Risk killed the second one. Their bodies hitting the ground almost at the same time.
There was a rustling from behind the curtain and a blood shot eye viewed us from the corner of the cloth divider. We killed and moved quickly into the next room. Sari killed two, Ka'an 1 and Aleck combating one by himself and a little hep from Sari, cleaves the final goblin into two. Before we could rest a second wave of goblins was attacking us. I took out one while Risk took out the second. Several more die by our hand.
As we are taking stock of our situation a goblin appears form behind a door, has one look at us and locks it behind him. I simply pick the lock and open it up. The room with bed linen and curtain partition was empty. Only under the bed in the partitioned area do we find any treasure a lock-box full of gold and a wand. I hand the wand to Sari and I could see Ka'an mouth twist into a grim line. She shouted and pouted, and i left the two to fight over the right to the wand.
We found a secret door which lead deeper down to the second level. We argued for a while whether we should follow the goblin chieftain or explore the rest of the floor. We explored the rest of the floor instead. Most of the floor was either abandoned or rooms that was no used to store refuse. Behind one door we do find a torture room. The thing more hobgoblin than goblin attacked Alec with a white hot poker, burning onto him a poker face. His body was covered in scars and stitches and he wore a red leather apron covered in gore.
The other inhabitants in the room was three goblin crossbowmen. One of them locked himself in a cage, while the other two took a covering position behind the torture table and other torture instruments.
Risk helps Aleck with the goblin torturer and finally dies in a cloud of flies summoned by Risk. After a moment of indecision I pickup the poker and hurdle myself across the rack and the many implements arrayed on it. I slipped and fell.
The fall was not what hurt the most, it was the poker already turning dull red, slipping down between my legs and burning down through to me. It hurt as much as the second, third, fourth, and fifth time put together when I was twelve. It of course never happened. It never happened when I was twelve. It never involved being held down and watching it bleed like it was doing now.
The goblins were dead or surrendered and I was ignored. I ignored the pain and moved on. We found a goblin in a cell nearby called Splug. He offered to show us a secret door. The secret door of the goblin chieftain. Ka'an ignoring everyone else insisted on finding more treasure.
Risk takes up the captured goblins and goes to the pit where there are three goblins working hard on it. We who had so carefully avoided them. Now wished to swagger and proclaim that we were the new owners of this fort. Risk offered them a few coins and with a rare gesture of goodwill sent them running.
We turned back down into the hatch, and I tried to ignore the deep seated hatred I was experiencing.
One floor down before. So far the goblins had switched to the undead and cultists. We met the undead paladin called Sir Keegan. He had killed his children and wife and all I could wonder was the idle curiosity of how did he feel. Did undeath deadened the senses or was this the punishment of his god for familicide.
We received a statue of Bahamut, the dragon of goodness. All I knew was that the temple was often covered in gold, but that felt like a lifetime ago. These statues were rough and were supposed to be used in fighting the hunger in the dark. How, I was unsure. Perhaps the hunger in the dark had an abnormal fear of dragon curios?
While we were moving along we encountered a door which someone had helpfully written the sign closed. This had Risk confused for a long time as he turned the piece of paper expecting a different message to appear. The paper confounded him. Behind the door was a corridor which was eerily clean, as I was ahead I soon found the reason a gelatinous cube of ichor, which grabbed me and would have killed me if Alek had not taken my place. He seemed to be in his element as he slaughtered the dungeon cleaner. There were two shambling horrors, but they were quickly dispatched.
The room from which the shambling undead appeared there were four sarcophagi. Two of them had been broken and their occupants we had already given a final death. The other two we forced open in the hope of treasures. Instead we had mummy rot and a few plain pieces of plain jewellery. The kind you would find on the streets next to the cemetery district in Waterdeep after dark.
We also found in a corner a chest with the embossed chest of Bahamut. The copper was burnished until it glowed. Inside were toiletries and a gold amulet with the name Dristan Keegan and a platinum bracelet with the name Kainam Keegan. Ka'an wished to have both items and wear them as hers. I left Alek and Ka'an to biker over the items as I searched the wall.
We found something unusual a wall which I could walk through and as should be expected was ambushed by four zombies. The armory room was filled with cobwebs and a disembodied voice rising from a suit of old, rusted Armour.
"What precedes you like a herald, wars are fought over it, can be found in the deepest of chasms and highest of mountains and yet cannot be touched, while still having immense value?" Reputation was what we answered.
The voice was silent and the suit turned into a black iron scale armor, which glowed with an inner red light. Alek as can be believed was overjoyed.
We headed back to the crossroads and took the main door. When we stepped inside the stone door slid closed behind us. The statue which was the sole occupant in the room started turning and twisting his sword. Alek was with me and Sari jumped through at the last moment. I ran to its pedestal, the sword was large enough and the speed strong enough to cause me to bleed from its nearness. Alek soon followed. We both sought something to stop the statue, but we could not find anything. I climbed the statue and threw my cloak over its face to no avail. I looked on cheered Alek as he ran across to the Statue. I sought to find something to stop the statue. The only hint was the alcove on the opposite side of the room.
Meanwhile Ka'an was using the power of salt and water to break through flagstones. I am sure she was very impressed in the knowledge that salt and water would wear down even the greatest of stone barriers in several thousand years. Unfortunately for those of us on the other side of this death trap we did not have millenia, let alone days to survive.
While Alek was eagerly bashing away the statue, climbed down to its arms and ran along the sword timing myself perfectly to jump into the alcove as the sword whistled and skittled past. Sari by now was blasting the statue with her powers. I found myself between two magical barriers. There was four cherubs holding water vases in the corners. As I looked at them I was splashed with fetid water, each one started spouting water.
Alek and Sari by now were destroying the statue. I could feel its rumble as the statue's sword graveled into the wall. Meanwhile Ka'an was waiting for something to happen after using up all of their salt and water.
I fear I had too much water as it was reaching around my ankles and steadily reaching higher. I sought to break the vases and all my strength was doing was denting them, with my crowbar not destroying them. Finally I was swimming, my hand held onto the ceiling as the water reached my finger tips, the pressure built in my ears.
Then there was a sudden drop of pressure and the water started turn and churn. I was caught in the water spout. The crowbar escaped my hands as I was dragged along the walls, it became a missile that hit me squarely in the face as I crashed into one of the vases a cherub held. My vision blacked out and I remember waking up on the floor. Water drained and dry heaving on the floor. The statue was armless. It's sword shattered into tumbled obelisk.
I took a moment to gather my wits before we plunged further into the dungeon. The second thing we found were ghouls, all but one were easy to dispatch and that last ghoul kept us all at bay for a long while.
I think the worst place found in the dungeon was after the ghouls. There was a small burrow hole which we crawled through. we were met with a horrific stench. The floor was covered in the purpled, visceral matter of dead bodies. One body would merge with the splattered internal organs of another. Ka'an took to the place, haughty perfect Ka'an with the madness of a muckraker seeking her treasure. She ripped into bodies and wrestled off valuables. For the first time in my life I would have been happy to leave the bodies as they lay. There was no pleasure outside of the few coins I collected. Ka'an found a bag of holding.
While Ka'an was seeking to pile over it offal I tried to push her in the stinking pile of humanoid venous and brown pudding. Instead of her going sprawling, I slipped head first into it. I gagged and vomited covered in human detritus. Ka'an laughed and pointed and even Risk had his mouth quirked in laughter. Can I hate someone who loves my misfortune so much?
Further along the corridor ran into steps and we walked down the steps. The room terminated in a temple of some kind. The floor of the temple was a mosaic of the visage of Orcus. The four pillars glowed with a sickish green light. In the center of it there was a circular staircase which led down. There was also two rivulets of blood from altar which channeled along into staircased pit.
Risk and Sari's imp created a diversion which gave me enough time to sneak into the temple. Just long enough to surprise and kill one cultist and nearly get killed by another. We finally defeated the cultists, the night gaunts and even the priest. All that was left was walking down into the pit.
Why do I pick to be the first perhaps it's because so far being the last is the coward's way. I chose to be first to experience it first, to see it first. This was one of the thoughts that went through my head as I walked down the spiral stair case as I came closer to the floor I could see a large pulsing pool below. A dais on one side and an altar on the other side. In front was a large black portal framed by a circle drawn into the ground. Behind me an ugly statue of Orcus squat.
The Orcus priest by the altar was praying and chanting, while reading his great hymnal. Surrounding me were large skeletons of contorted giants. Their bones twisted in the gruesomeness. I was pulled by mind and body into the circle to stand before the black portal. The darkness coalesced into ropes of shadow as they sought to drag me into the maw of whatever it was across the barrier.
Instead of cowering, I instead ran to the chanting priest and made a mad grab for the book of Orcus. While we fought Risk turned into a heron and swooped low, not to peck or to fight but loosen his load. I was glad he over shot his target, but the priest was now a white puddle of mess. As he screamed at the heron/Risk, I grabbed the book and ran for the relative safety of the statue of Orcus.
The statue of Orcus I realized was meant to hold the mirror we had rescued from a pit a long time ago. I ignore that and climb the statue. Risk and I are now in a perfect position to strike at our assailants. Alek is fighting the skeletons which keep rising again, Sari is attacking a wight, which is constantly raising the skeletons. Meanwhile the priest is screaming vile invectives at the heron.
The tide of battle was quick to turn to our favor as if we had never lost it. The wight was defeated while the priest from a hundred cuts was driven into the portal. His screams were short and anguish filled. Blind, hungry gods do not care for the nature of their sacrifices. While everyone sought treasure. I carefully tore off the covers of the book and threw them into the portal.
I have decided to keep the book. I am tired of being the weak one. I am tired of being the laughed at one. I am tired of being the revived one. Perhaps the book can teach me the power to be more than who I am or will ever be.
What did we do once the cultists were dead? We were left with a susurrus emanating from the portal. The black tentacled creature was there and it was still calling to us.
We had the responsibility to create a ritual to shut out the creature from this world. This creature of hideous strength. It was not in allegiance with Orcus, but aligned. It was an embodiment of death, darkness and servility.
We were to perform a ritual of light and life in this seachal. We stripped the corpses and created three piles. The first was the items of value, an elven cloak, a ritual book, and a tined dagger. The second, was the weapons we would not use, the rags of their bodies, the profane icons of their allegiance. The third was the bodies themselves.
Ka'an broke into song, a haunting song of two tones. We anointed the head and feet of the altar with lamp oil and threw upon it first the bodies. They smelled sweet, femurs and thigh bones snapping from the heat. We theee their weapons on the altar. Each of us were to think of something to sacrifice. Sari sacrificed a sprinkling of blood. Of the rest I was unsure as I was so focused on my own sacrifice.
I sacrificed the one thing I had. I sacrificed the amber amulet. The heavy pendant I had carefully carried with me. A lucky token that so far had tried to strangle me. A heart of a forest spirit Ka'an had hungered for. It burned bright on the altar, lights springing forth as Ka'an voice twined with the fire into words of making. The fire burned bright and then flashed into whiteness as Ka'an fell to the ground.
The whispers of the portal were silent. The room was no longer filled with baited dread, now just a cavern framed with a inky pooled portal. It took us a while to rest and gather our things.
Sari was curious about the portal as was I. She touched the portal with her magic and the desire to walk through over came her. We sought to reason her. Finally it took Risk and Alek together to restrain her. She spat and struggled with all her might. I tried sought to strike her to unconsciousness. Instead with an eldritch word she struck at me.
What do you suppose is the greatest fear if placed into flesh? Abandonment? Loss? These are simply symptoms of fear. True fear was as my world crumbled around me was to see my Master Jaher Treach. Many a night I had spent hungry. Many a night I ate my fill knowing that every morsel on my lips was taken from one of my brothers or sisters. We would watch as the most wronged would sit in the high chair with the crown of thorns on their head and have to pick the one to be punished. We would hold him or her down as punishment was meted out. We would hate the crown. We would hate the person. We would turn to love the cruelty. We would turn to love the power of dominance.
Master Jaher Teach. He would carry his leather whip and dagger girdled with his broad leather belt. We would learn the fear of seeing the whip and the loosening of the belt. I saw him. I saw his face. I felt his rough hand on my face. I felt the wrack of his scars on my body. I smelled his skin. I was and will ever be afraid of Master Jaher Treach.
I was cowering in a corner. Sari was dragged struggling up the spiral staircase and I was left in the corner of my childhood with its demons. Ka'an was the one who helped me up and walked me up the spiral staircase. I had trouble speaking and the animal was nearly out of me.
We walked out of the temple and found a disused part of the upper level. The doors which lead to the statue and water hazarded room was blocked. We were far too tired to argue and instead cleared out a corner of the dungeon and slept. I woke to Ka'an shaking me. I had been screaming incohately.
We looked around the space and the only exit was the door. Risk changed into a bug and crawled under the door. Behind the rubble a few hobgoblins were. As Alek pounded away at the door, we finally forced it open. The hobgoblins had run, but had bared the next door, which we in turn took to breaking open.
As the door opened a goblin arrow flew past our heads burying in the wall behind us. The force of Hobgoblins would have assaulted us if Sari had not cast her spells. The fight itself was cold and brutal and I took on the captain. I carved a path to him and when he turned to flee I killed him. We had routed the last band of hobgoblins.
Alek took a spear from one of the hobgoblins and among the treasure was a short swords. The sharded edge was nasty. Possibly some hobgoblin thought it an attractive knife. It was a short sword to me by pure length and heft.
Our final action before we left the fallen castle and its now well dead denizens was a talk with Sir Keegan. We asked him about closing the portal, for we had simply stilled it for a while and the creeping darkness could return - or worse could step out. We asked about the items of his children and he asked them not to be shown in his sight again.
With a bag of holding full and the sun slowly beginning to set across a dusk lit forest we started our slow journey back to Winterhaven. Along the horizon we saw goblin and kobold patrols. We could not even guess the numbers, for if the adage was true we could be seeing one of a hundredth of the true forces among the hills and dells.
We talked with Sir Padraigh and as the forces of evil had been abated. The villagers, who could feel the constricting of the throat slacken and thirst rise had a party. Every drunken time the story as told by Risk grew in narration and believability. I chose to spend my night drinking it away away from all. The cold winter night cut through my party clothes in all lightness. I had felt worse.
As we left the tavern the next morning. I did wonder where Ka'an and Risk had disappeared to. Both had been drinking late into the night and we had not seen them since. We were called by Kurufar and his companion to talk about a few items. Ka'an dog in the past few weeks had grown wild and feral. It was growing into a monster of a kind. Horns and the back had lost its shag and was growing scales.
Kurufar and Faltrun did not feel to have the mental or physical reserves to take care of something that was growing rapidly in size and aggressiveness. At the moment it was playful but aggressive. Soon it would be simply aggressive. They proposed that we talk to a man in Llorkh who would know more about the dog as he is a specialist trainer.
In addition, we talked about the portal and the decision was to go to Waterdeep and find experts in how to close a portal. We still had two tasks to do before going the route of Llorkh. I was opposed to going to Llorkh, but then again I was in my heart of hearts opposed to going to Waterdeep.
We split up, Ka'an and Risk too the devil dog with them to see the Nayad. We emptied out the bag of holding and took it with us. Ka'an insisted on keeping the gold which we left with Kurufar. I asked around at the tavern and with the help of my map and his guidance we had a route planned.
As we travelled to the warlock's tower, we started to see more goblins and bolds. No longer were they simply content on lingering on the horizons. They would come close, always staying well outside of spear shot or crossbow range.
The warlock's tower had two to three tents in front of it. Camped around it we could see movement, but not who. I volunteered myself to go closer and scout out. Sari disdainfully said I was a fool and that all I would do is get killed. In return I asked for her cloak. I snuck down and among the goblins. Inching my way to within ear shot of the camp.
As I was within ear shot I had to freeze for what was padding amongst the goblins, but a warg. Shaggier than a wolf and the size of a pony. It's paws would crush a man and the jaws would be strong enough to snap the back on a horse. I froze for a moment and then inched further. I could now see the banner of the goblins. The picture of a warg and the two hobgoblin bodyguards outside the tent. The commander I could not see and I dared not lift my head for fear of being seen. He was waiting for news from the boss. The last word was the raising of the wards by the shaman and then he promptly walked back into the tent.
I already lucky to be alive, slowly snuck away and came back. I told them what I had seen the hobgoblin commander, his two bodyguards and the numerous goblins and kobolds milling around. As they were so close to the entrance we could not simply sneak through the camp. Instead we went for sneaking up the tower.
We climbed up between the statues and approached the tower. Sari on the back of Alek and me raising her higher we snagged the rappel hook and started to climb up. Sari got halfway along before she slipped and fell. If Alek had not heroically grabbed out of the air like some ballroom dancer, she would be sorely hurt. Alek climbed up first and we followed being pulled up on his big taught muscles.
We searched the tower for anything, but couldn't find anything. There was only the golem to take care of. We blinded the golem with a sheet tied with weights on. While it was blinded I jumped down onto floor. I quickly espied what we had previously missed. A door leading down.
I quick ran down the steps and found a bed, washbasin and a door which lead further. The tapestries on the wall kept the chill out and might hold further portals. Sadly all the tapestry revealed was a naked wall. I opened the second door to find a room with ever-lit candles and rows upon rows of books. If Only I knew how to read beyond the occasional smattering of liturgical memorization. By the time I was looking at the library, Sari and Alek had arrived. We discovered the trap when Alek sprung it. Each item was trapped with a flame of fire. If you were to take a book the flame would burn you with its magical properties.
Fearful of what we were doing, Alek hid in the other room while we disarmed the trap. Sari found while cleaning the bookshelves of all possible books and items one fake book which lead further into the dwarf's inner sanctum. In the sanctum was a desk and Sari carefully disabled it. Inside the desk was his greatest prize - his diary.
Sari found out the relationship between Lady Moonfire, about her warlocking abilities and the rift that formed between to magically impassioned people. I could almost cry from loss. Almost. We escaped the tower the same way we came and are now on our way to Winterhaven.
After we had defeated the evil in Shadowfell Keep, there was a party for us at Winterhaven. We spent the night enjoyable carousing and at night having drunk far more than I should I sat outside in my night shift, looking across at the mountains and thinking of my childhood. The winter never bothered me and truly I was covered in a fine powder of snow that I had to shake off before going to bed.
While we were conducting our business looking at merchandise and haggling with the minutiae of how to divide our spoils, an emissary from loudwater came to us via Lord Padraigh's steward. We who were ready to bypass Loudwater and head directly to Llorkh, for we were looking at getting Ka'an's pet dog trained and from there ahead to Waterdeep. All our plans were laid aside as we were requested by Lady Moonfire to come forthwith to Loudwater.
With the emissary in tow and some of more or less sober from a night of muted festivities for there were still dangers in the hills. We returned to Loudwater with Ka'an's dog in tow. The creature had become ever increasingly large and now we had to keep it in a cage. Not only to contain but because it was becoming increasingly feral and ferocious.
At Loudwater we were rushed immediately to the mansion. Across carefully cleaned and polished floors we were taken in a our wintry wear directly to the waiting room. There we were offered a bit of a repast and allowed to shed our winter cloaks to wash our hands and faces in a silver basin. Risk was the most dirty of all of us for all could see the grime in funny wiped smears. I was amused as there appears to be a handsome elf somewhere underneath those layers of grime.
As we finished wiping away the vestiges of the road we were allowed through the waiting room into the drawing room. Across from us large bay windows framed the place and the numerous books were carefully on display. A fire roared in the hearth and numerous candles had been placed like million lights.
Two figures waited for us. Lady Moonfire in her midnight dress with silver stars. Across her head rested a graceful elven tiara. The carefully coiffed brown and blonde hair winking in the candle light.
Across from her stood a tall and majestic elf. He wore the pensive expression of a scholar and the long white hair of a sorceror. he was dressed in browns and even through th wear of the road had been carefully cleaned from his leathers, the dust was still apparent upon his shoes. He was there to ask our help.
He was a member of the Limbian Alliance and usually more merchant than a diplomat. Still he was here after hearing of our exploits and it was heroes such as us that he was looking for he politely inquired if our company had a name and truth be told we said we had none.
He polished over the matter, but the silent question still lingered as he explained who he was and what this was about. The alliance was between 3-4 towns. That of Loudwater, Winterhaven and Daggerford as well as the torps and smaller villages of the outlying areas. Trade was being disrupted and there were raids in the South and East of this region. They are not used to this kind of activity and need the help of brave adventurers such as ourselves to assist in this great quest.
Around Llorkh the woodcutting had halted and up in the North to Winterhaven the mining had come to a standstill. They sought to ask for our help and asked what did we wish in questions and in return. Like a gaggle of geese we bickered and argued and tried to push in questions. Finally, I had enough and said that we would with his leave come back for we were tired on the road and we would need some time to formulate a proper response.
He bid us farewell for the moment and we would adjourn to talk to him later on in the early evening. Perhaps for dinner? Lady Moonfire's sharp look said perhaps after then. We walked out of the meeting and headed to more pressing needs. We went shopping.
In the Green Tankard Inn we drank and Alek was busy into his third beer by the time all of us were there. Newly armoured and equipped we set out on parchment and quill our list of demands. Among the many decisions was our group's name - the Guardians of Greyvale
We came back to the mansion and were ushered into the same room which we met them previously. There was spiced elven wine and we tasted ours our of crystal goblets handed to us. I always envied Lady Moonfire for she had a finesse to her that in all my coarseness could never seek to emulate.
We gave them our demands of 5 horses, Writ of Warrant of Charter, and a request that afterwards we would have access and status for some and cold glint of coin in the hands of others. Coin could buy you the right titles and that access so I sought the glint of gold. We received our horses and 1000 gold pieces up front.
There was a promise of another 1500 once the quest was finished. We were also handed a Writ of Warrant of Charter. The Writ was important as that gave us wide rights of access and legality in the region. Something which was important if we ever came across the Law or needed to levy support from the populace.
We asked further probing questions, but simply confirmed what we knew. Small groups of people were disappearing and groups of goblins and kobolds were seen threading through the lands. They appeared to be scouts, perhaps of a larger force? This would be something we would know soon. I was already thinking of the conversation I had overheard in the goblin camp between the hobgoblin chieftain and his associates. There was a greater power at play and we would need to know who and what this power was.
Upon getting to the stables and looking at our gear for there was certainly a lot of it, we looked at a sledge for the cage with Ka'an's dog and for our supplies. Soon we discovered that this would be impossible with horses and reluctantly gave them up instead we took two sledges. One with the supplies for the dog and the other with two weeks of supplies for ourselves.
We left Loudwater behind us and trudged towards the east along the river. The old trade route was still visible here and there. We slipped and struggled on the day clear but hard work. Often sweat would run down my back like a cold knife as we progressed along. The river was no longer covered by a simple icy crust but by a strong icebound surface. Water was becoming hard to find for we had to take picks and excavate through the ice to reach the cold dark of the river. We also confirmed the goblin scouting teams as we saw them across the harsh moorland.
A bend in the river and past a small corpse of trees on the second day we came across a human camp. We could actually see the smoke and smell them before we could see the sight of them. Rough tents had been erected and lean-tos. As we approached more closely we could see them. The hardness in their faces, the hunger pinching. The absent minded scratching of wounds that were it not for the cold would be festering. I had seen this all before. I saw their hunger at us. I saw madness in the eyes of the older and the agedness of the young.
Before we could approach any closer we were stopped by two guards. They swagged and looked at us with hard eyes. They were eyeing us not from hunger, but from need. The clothes on our backs and the food in our packs. They hungered for it.
We were led through the camp to the largest of tents. Outside around a cooking pot people with nasty knives were carving up something to place in the stew. The men were loud, uncouth and well-fed. The flesh in their faces was red from exertions. The leader was a good head higher than the rest. He had a black beard and mustache and long flowing black hair that flowed behind his bald pate. The furs he wore were expensive and well mended. The sword at his belt and the heft of his build was more warlord than some soft burgemeister.
Ka'an approached and sought to use the honey'd words of a courtier to a pack of brutes. They looked at her and said her to hold her girly tongue in her mouth. Ka'an a woman who would never accept such rudeness sought to fight back with words and such. We asked some probative questions, but all they saw was the store of our items and the flesh of our bodies.
I saw the tattoos. I saw the welts. This was no group of ragged hobgoblins they were hardened not by regiments but strict punishments in hard gaols. They would not understand empty threats, appeals to civilized morality or vaunted intellectualism. For all they saw was the store of our items and the flesh of our bodies. We were soft and weak.
As the conversation devolved we became like a gaggle of silly geese. Bickering and fighting. Barsch was a bully, sneering and taunting us. Finally he said we needed to pay a tribute for us to be walking on his lands. That could be either Ka'an's fine pet or 250gp. Ka'an quickly jumped onto the offer of money for our lives. Meanwhile, the taunts of Barsch were having their effect on Risk. He was readying to attack.
The only news we received was this band of hundreds was Llorkh. There was no more Llorkh. Orcs had come down and raided the city. What more I did not find out for I had to hold Risk from physically attacking Barsch. Finally I could not take the petty bickering anymore and kicked Risk making him fall over. I said "that's enough!" and I was ignored. Sari paid one of the henchmen of Barsch. I saw his eyes, but I held my tongue. It was taking all I could to control Risk from murder and killing us all.
We were escorted from the camp as they allowed us to pass through their ranks. I saw the children from flaps of tents. I saw the eyes of men and women. All my companions saw was the loss of money and of pride. We were being followed a ruddy man with matted fur across his coat. His body covered in a leather jerkin. The guards left us at this point and they started to argue.
I raised my voice. I have never raised my voice to this group. I shouted at them for being children. For being irresponsible little children. For madness of their hollering. Of their behavior as rabble. There was no unity with them only petty squabbling. Ka'an took offense to this for I had too berated her oratory skills.
She said what was there I could do and I punched her. This was no lovely slap, between friends, this was a punch I had been trained to do. It was strong enough to break her nose.
That's when the mayhem started. Alek had to restrain Ka'an and I, and while I was readying for another. Risk slapped me. The slap echoed across the moors and I saw the guards who were looking on at us laugh.
I stormed off to the cries of Ka'an. I walked for a while and sat down behind a hill, my head swimming. Barsch was there in my mind taunting me. He was an odious man, but what made him worse was the biting torrent of voice on how vulnerable we were. How childish we were. All our weapons were simply sticks and the dragons we were vanquishing but shadows. I was playing with shadows.
The situation in the camp was dire. The people were starving. Their leader a bully, and I? What was I to do? I who had once been born in Llorkh, to now know that the people who I may have once known were dead. The people around me would not even recognize my name and what was worse the man leading them was like my Master Jaher Treach. What was I to do. This was the question which issued from my lips after patient waiting from Sari "What do we do?"
She misunderstood the question for she said I must apologize to Ka'an and the rest for making a scene. She looked at me strangely and we approached. Ka'an and I squared off against each other and Risk as the unhappy mediator was the first to apologize. Ka'an refused to apologize and I refused as well.
While I had been away they introduced me to Dogfit, a man with brown stained teeth and a wolfish complexion. He told us in brief undertones while being watched by our guards about the camp. It had only been here for two days. He was the man who looked at our dog and said it was a rare breed of draconic hound. A chimera of dog and dragon. Ka'an was overjoyed and I less so.
We moved away from the camp and set up our own a while away from theirs. Risk as as a dog overheard an argument on whether they should take us and our things. Our conversation on the other hand, would revolve around the refugees and what we should do. We talked about assaulting the camp and driving out Barsch. I was to ask what would be do after that and they all looked away. This was less about the people and more about the money for that too came up in the conversation. As dusk turned to night, we were left at the camp fire. Risk went on his nightly jaunt and I was left to mind the fire and stare in the crackle of the logs and twigs.
I would later find out that Risk sought to assassinate Barsch, or at least cause mischief. He squirted oil across the braze in the tent of Barsch and kicking it over, then fleeing as a dog back out of the camp.
It's on the second day when we come up with a decision on what to do. We decide to challenge Barsch openly for the leadership of the camp. We make Alek as gleaming as a champion can. There we marched in full battledress demanding to see Barsch. Ka'an spoke eloquently about the demands and promises. Each telling causing Risk to become more self assertive until we were promising the greatness of a city. All Barsch could do was demand some shred of proof. Something of actions instead of words. We had become a gaggle of geese again.
I stood to the side of this panoply. One one side was our forces small and becoming broken. On the other was Barsch and his cohort which had become ever increasingly resolute as the wilder and more agitated Risk and Ka'an sought to make it. The people were simply onlookers on this piece of street theater.
I, who had been born in Llorkh looked at this display. Our wave had broken against Barsch and now we were receding. I took of my cloak and let it fall.
I, who had been raised in Llorkh saw the resolution wane in my companions. I Took of my hat and gloves and unbuckled my sword belt.
I, who had felt the love of my parents, saw that not among the faces of the people. I took off my quilted cambeson and boots.
I, stood in only my shift and felt the final puff of heat from my body leave me. I took my sword. Only I was left in the circle for my comrades were draining away. I held my sword horizontally in front of Barsch and let it drop. "Pick it up." I said in a quiet voice.
Barsch looks at me with his sneer clearly on his face. He spins around and leaves my back to him and the smack of his tent flaps. Now I am not faced with my companions but his cohort. They look at me challengingly as I lower myself to my knees.
I have felt cold before. I was no longer here, but in Luskan. I did not see Barsch, but the suffering of others. I went through the hundreds of permutations there as my body slowly started to go cold. I held my shivering even if I could barely breathe. I saw that the only way to save my people was to rid them of Barsch, many would die in the long trek to Loudwater. They would spit my name, but they would live. I would prefer that to a people dead on this snowed knoll. My last vestiges of true memories would then die with them.
I picked up the sword. It was a good sword, the balance was right and I took my step toward his cohort. I was not seeing them. I saw my path and I saw it lead directly through Barsch's tent. They raised their arms. I took another step "I am not afraid of you."
Before they could lunge my arm was being held by a thick gauntleted fist. The metal squeezing into my wrist. I tried to move and I couldn't. I tried to struggle against and they held me. I could see Alek's face as he struggled me to the ground. I was being held down by Risk, Alek and Ka'an. I tore at them and they tore at me. My under shift ripped away with their mad scramble for dominance. Underneath they could see the map of my shame. The scars, the welts from the shackles of only six months past. Their rough hands over my skin. I saw not pity, just determination. My vision swam. I screamed.
It was a muffled scream, the sound. I heard myself choking, like I was being strangled. I heard the sound of my body beating against the ground. It went on for a very long time. In the end there were just screams. At first they were screams of pain but finally they changed and they were like the screams of a newborn baby. There was no grief in them. They were automatic. They went on and on. Each scream was exactly the same, like a machine was making them.
They held me like this until there were no more screams forthcoming. I struggled and rocked, but I could not lodge their weight off my chest. This is how they did bind me and carry me back to the camp. They wrapped me in a blanket and left me next to the dog. There was talk on whether to place me in the cage or not. But I was left to be next to the dog.
I tried to run away, but they brought me back easily. They talked to me as a child, the treated me like an animal. Risk would touch me and I would whimper. Alek's presence would cause me to scramble back as far away from him. The animal was truly out and I had become as savage as the dragon dog. I would rock myself to sleep with childish verses to only wake up screaming.
It was a very sullen time back to Loudwater. I did not speak to them and they did not speak to me. I had not been allowed any weapons. It was only at the town gates did they loosen my bonds. They whispered about possession and wondered if that was truly the truth. The child-Jenn of Llorkh had died on the snowy field outside Barsch's tent.