Age of Despair

Session #38
Crossing into Umbria

A terrible grating noise comes from the dome of darkness where the alter was. Kuni shoots an arrow imbued with daylight, bright as the noonday sun. The darkness disperses revealing a man standing
behind the altar, and a demonic figure at the side. The circle surrounding the altar is ringed with swirling blades, churning in a tornado of sharp steel.

I finish off the one harrying Dom and Cilka, Coy is down, I run to his side.

I stand protectively over Coy’s unconscious body, and smash through the monster that was threatening
him, then I move off toward the big baddies we just uncloaked from the darkness.

Cilka concentrates, throws her hands out toward the swirling blades circling the alter and yells someword in a weird growly language, the circle of swords stutters, flickers and disappears. I feel a surge of wellness sweep through me, easing some of the wounds I have taken. Feeling bolstered, I charge toward the circle, stopping at the edge and thrusting my attack intending to skewer the demon, but the tip of my sword slams into the glowing dome and stops dead, jarring me back on my heels.

Keth moves up to the circle, reaches both hands down, mutters in a deep monotone, braces himself and
heaves upward, tearing the very rock from the floor, shredding the circle. I immediately step through and smash into the demon, landing three cutting blows, that should have laid him low, the demon merely takes a half step back, shakes himself and resets his stance, barely injured.

The priest walks over to Keth, and with a blackly glowing hand, reaches through all his defenses laying its hand on Keth’s chest, Keth shudders, then crumbles to the ground.

The demon suddenly disappears from in front of me.

A thick, cloying feeling steals over my throat, I open my mouth to exclaim, but no sound emerges. Doing my best to ignore the nerve wracking sensation, I move toward the priest and bring my sword down upon him. Coy moves around the priest and shoves him between Dom and I, we take full advantage
of the move and lay into the stumbling priest. The priest takes the hits, regains his balances, closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, as if he is sucking in more than just air. I feel the newly restored wellbeing and energy see away, and weakening, I stagger down to one knee, my vision tunnels as the blackness closes in. My last thoughts are for my friends who I can no longer help protect.

I wake to Alaric’s concerned face hovering over us. The priest is well and done, Coy did not take kindly to the treatment we had received, they have learned better than to anger my close mouthed friend. We take what we can from the priest’s body and set about securing the church enough to get some much needed rest.

Coy lifts the trap door, hides his presence and checks to be sure the under-church is cleared. He
emerges from the under-church gingerly carrying a net wrapped, black stone statue. He tells me it is like the sheaf of wheat, but for the evil one. Alaric says that she is referred to as “The Dark Lady”, her name is unknown. Alaric, Coy and Gertie discuss what should be done with it. Coy does not believe it is our place to seek it’s destruction, unless directed to by Larani. Gertie is concerned it may affect us, just by being in our presence. Coy says with the protection of Larani, he is immune to its affects. He will carry it until we decide what we should do with it.

August 10th

Just before dawn some townsfolk peer in the door. I nudge Gertie to go speak with them, fearing I
might misspeak and elicit the wrong response. Gertie re-assures them and tells them they are safe, they offer what they can to us for food and drink. Gertie asks them to send for one of the townsfolk leaders to come and speak with her.

With morning fully arrived, we wake, much refreshed. The sick feeling that had been lingering since the fight began has eased, I am feeling much more myself, my wounds still plague me some, but I am greatly improved.

Cilka prepares to dispel the circle cast by the priest. The day long process of re-consecrating the church has begun. Not being of any use inside, I go sit with Coy who being the holder of the unholy statue has taken himself outside the church so it’s malign presence will not disrupt what they do.

The proprietors of the Fox and Glove arrive at the church midmorning with a much more palatable
second breakfast. We exchange happy greetings and partake of their generosity. Throughout the day townsfolk come by to share the news and the joy of their liberation. Gertie is invited to a council meeting being hastily arranged for that evening, as the holder of the crown, they seem to be deferring to her and looking to her for direction as a noble and a savior of Laibach.

We retrieve the horses and continue our work clearing the church. Gertie, Alaric and Coy go to the
council meeting at the Fox and Glove. In their infinite wisdom, they ask me to stay behind and guard the church.

My old comrade and leader, Venko stops by the church and we chat for a bit, he is curious what our
plans are regarding governing the town. I admit to not having much knowledge of any plans, and
suggest he go and partake of the talks that are taking place right now. He says he’ll be back and departs. When Gertie and crew return from the dinner, I tell them of Venko’s visit and suggest they consider involving him in the new government they are creating.

Keth spends considerable time imbedding the altar area of the church in his mind so he may return to
it magically. Keth and Coy travel to Passau to deliver a letter to Gertie’s father asking his advice and possibly his service in ruling Laibach.

Venko returns the next day and speaks with Gertie about his odd, but workable, ideas of government.
Gertie, bless her, is at least open minded though skeptical. The council and Venko both have some
time to think, pray and present their ideas. Gertie seems to favor a blend of council and noble rule, we shall see what her father recommends. Henryk returns with Coy and Keth, appearing suddenly in the lower altar room of the church. Henryk looks a touch unsettled by the magical nature and speed of the journey. Gertie describes the situation in Laibach and the different ideas for how it should be led. Henryk has struggled with his path, and is unsure if rule is the right direction for him. Gertie suggests that she appoint a new council, crown her father as duke, and we staying on for a few days to ensure all is settled, then moving on with our divine quest.

Oddly enough Henryk and Venko hit it off, they have compatible ideas on leadership and have come up
with some workable plans. Venko is appointed the new Captain of the Guard, the irony is not lost on us.

August 15th First Harvest Day
During the festival of First Harvest, Henryk is crowned as Duke and leads a procession to the church
starting a new tradition of worship on this day. Libations flow freely, it is a long awaited and well deserved day of celebration.

August 16th
We start our journey to Umbria choosing to travel by land using magical means to relieve our fatigue
and improve our speed. We make remarkable time, arriving in Prebold after one long day of travel. Unfortunately our dinner at the tavern is interrupted, we are less than cordially invited by armed guard to be interviewed at the castle by Lord Klement the leader of Prebold. Prebold, the city that bent knee to the Chalcedonian invaders, their leaders feel the need to flex their bruised egos at us. Dom discreetly drops out of sight, aided by a spell cast quietly by Coy. He follows along unobtrusively behind us. The guards pause at one point, counting our number twice. They are puzzled, but move us along. We are thankful for the lack of quick wittedness of our hosts.

We are brought to the main throne room, Lord Klement scolds us for lacking the courtesy of seeking
his permission to pass through his city. Gertie states that we have the writ of the Duke and so do
not require his permission. This statement is met with considerable displeasure. We are summarily
dismissed, but I think it is only because he does not think he could prevail against us. It is too bad, it would have been pleasant to teach him some much needed manners.

We do not get to stay the night at the inn, Gertie does take the time to stock up on her poison of
preference, she is feeling the need to drown away her outrage at our treatment. We stay in Keth’s
magic cottage and wake just as, if not more, refreshed than we might have if we had stayed at the
tavern. We travel along to Tergeste, we decide not to stay the night. Our reception was so welcoming at the last town, we don’t want to risk a repeat. We stay toward the hills, heading toward Batavium.

August 18th
We travel north of Batavium, and begin searching for a likely place to cross the river.

August 19th
Traveling along the river we continue to look for a crossing

August 20th
We were finally able to cross the river today, Keth assisted some of us with transporting magic, and
Alaric helped the rest by enabling the horses to walk on water. The crossing was challenging, but
relatively uneventful.

August 21st
Passing through the area we see no evidence of settlements, any buildings have long ago been
reclaimed by the earth and scrub.

That night Cilka perks up, she’s heard something. She describes it as shrieks and crashing. I am not sure she is fully awake, I hear nothing.

August 22nd
The going today is rough, we are passing through a rough mountain pass. We come across the remains
of a carcass, just bones left. Cilka thinks this is what she heard last night.

That night as Cilka and I are chatting while on watch, a huge rock whistles past me, crashing into the hut. Cilka is not so lucky, a rock smashes into her sending her forcefully to the ground, there is a lot of blood. I leap to my feet, shocked at the sudden and unexpected violence. I catch my wits and yelling I smash open the door of the hut, “we are attacked!”.

I swing away from the door and move a little way away from the hut, taking up a defensive position.
The thing that threw the rock lumbers up to me, it is huge and misshapen with a third arm. I evade one attack, but that extra arm is sneaky and gets a decent smack in. My companions are rallying, shaking the sleep from their limbs. Alaric is at my side and Dom circles around. I step forward and am able to land two solid blows on the beast.

Gertie joins us harrying the giant, we offer many targets and he takes full advantage. One more giant, again with an extra arm, comes up behind his buddy. Dom is stuck between the two of them. We work on the first furiously, Alaric strikes the telling blow and he goes down.

Coy, in his large form, circles around and grabs the last giant, holding him in place. Gertie and I rush in, this time I get to deal the final blow.

They do us the discourtesy of interrupting our sleep and they don’t even carry any coin, how
inconsiderate.

View
Session #36
A Dark Cathedral

Night of Aug 9 into Aug 10 —
We take a few moments to rummage in the room we’ve just cleared. Turning up mostly gold and platinum, partially replenishing our purses from the spell components we purchased for Keth.

In the next room we look through a doorway into a black abyss. There is some sort of spell cast on the threshold, the door is filled with a black fog. Keth stares at it intently for a short time, then steps through. But first, he checks for traps. He disappears from view.

I stand in shock, with a stupid shocked look on my face for a beat or two too long. Cilka waves her hands and mutters a bit, the fog drops away revealing Keth prone on the floor with a large doglike beast standing over him. The beast is ugly, with long sharp claws and glowing red eyes. Oh yeah, and it has a tail like a cros between a rat and a scorpion. Apparently it also spits acid, Alaric and Cilka, both standing in the doorway are hit with a stream of acid shooting from its slavering maw. They conveniently block the spray from hitting the rest of us.

I move up, but am apparently unnerved by the beast as my swing falls woefully short. Fire shoots from Cilka fingers, blasting into it with a searing flame, the smell of burnt fur fills the room. The thing looks like it just stepped out of a mucky pond, it’s dripping water and slime and seems to shake off damage from fire almost as if it were nothing. Cilka’s fire shoots awry, hitting Alaric, unfortunately the fire seems to work just fine on him. Dom has better luck, maneuvering behind the beast and dealing it several deep oozing gashes. This thing is tough, usually Dom’s blows and Cilka’s fire are much more effective.

As the thing maneuvers around to put it’s back to the wall we get some extra strikes in, he’s finally starting show a little the worse for waer. I finaly get one good swing in on the monster, it collapses to the ground, as it’s blood oozes out of its many wounds, it smoulders and smokes, small flames spring up around it. Coy quickly wraps it in the carpet it is lying on the smother the flames. What was this thing?

Alaric starts casting furiously, as Keth and Dom continue to weaken from the effects of the beast’s attack. Cilka springs forward with a potion to counter the effects. Their condition stabilizes, but they are left severely weakened by the experience.

Coy’s disturbing the carpet has revealed a circle freshly scratched into the floor beneath, it is a circle arcane in nature, most likely used to summon the demon we just killed.

The room we are in is opulent, fine furnishings, rich rugs and tapestries, at least until there was flaming blood and acid being sprayed around. There is a desk off to the side, with gold detailing and filigree work, one of the drawers is locked. Dom inspects the drawer looking to determine if it might be trapped. He sees a small rune faintly inscribed, Cilka casts dispel on the drawer, the runes are still in place. Dom fiddles with the drawer again and it explodes in his face, he is able to dodge back in time to miss the blast. The drawer is still in place, and still locked. Dom gets the drawer open, there are only baubles inside. Cilka has found a spell book and some documents on the desk that she has taken away to look over. We take a few minutes to look around, Coy finds a manticore nest at the top of another tower.

Coy goes in search of servants to try to get some questions answered. Felix (the duke usurper) is either in the tavern, or the church. We head toward the bridge, the plan is pass into town over the bridge, check the tavern for Felix, then head to the church.

We bluster our way through the guard at the bridge without shedding blood. Horse mounted, armored Gertie can be pretty intimidating, and we are on our way to see Felix un-delayed, at least so far.

Waiting for us in the main square is a line of huge lumbering men, at least one of them is flying. We found the manticore whose nest Coy discovered at the keep and a formidable robed creature, stony looking like the church beasts of old, we have found the Duke usurper, Felix. Keth works some of his magic, and tells us not to attack the four farthest to the left. They seems to be muddled, wandering and confused.

We move up, I set myself to defend. Cilka brings up a wall of fire circling the unconfused soldiers on the right. One of them targets a few of us with a spell, I feel the speed imparted by Cilka dissipate. The manticore and Felix are the only ones visible that we can attack right now, and the manticore is too high. I move toward Felix, catching his attention to allow my companions to move in next to me. He is wrapped in a shroud of silver shards, giving it an eerie beauty. Given his reputation of nastiness he doesn’t hit very hard, or maybe I was lucky. Gertie moves up alongside, between the two of us we should be able to deal the usurper quickly. As I think this, the ones trapped behind the wall of fire begin to break free, suddenly we are no longer five to one our favor. These things are so big, having the number advantage was comforting. Not only that, but the wandering confused one suddenly decides to take a dislike to Dom’s back and attacks. In the blink of an eye, we go from feeling assured of our victory to things looking rather grim. At least the other 3 confused ones have taken up arms against each other, something had to go our way.

I see Dom take a hit out of the corner of my eye, he wavers, but manages to stay up. The sounds of battle explode around us. Felix starts to flicker in our sight, sometimes there, sometimes not. Coy takes a hit and suddenly looks like he is moving through mud, his normally quick reflexes compromised. Others are feeling similar affects. Cilka’s voice crashes through the chaos, Felix reals back and suddenly diminishes in size, the others lose their immense forms as well.

Coy finally manages to bring down the gargoyle with a flurry of blows while Alaric dispatches one of the guards behind us. I rush forward and cut down another guard. Keth brings down the Manticore with a barrage of magical bolts. We quickly dispatch the rest of the guards, much easier to kill now they are their normal size. They are not carrying a lot, a cloak, rusty rod and a stone. Keth IDs the items to be a Rod of Ruin, Ioun Stone of Intellect, and Cloak of Magic Resistance. There is 100gp on the caster and everyone.

Next stop, the church to re-sanctify, then we are on our way.

Things appear quiet as we approach, we see two skeletal guards at the side door. Coy closes his eyes, opening his inner eye to see if he can sense what is inside. His eyes snap open, “We should go NOW” he says.

I drop to my knee, as always Hamanu comes to mind as I pray, invoking the Rod.

We quickly move toward the door, positioning ourselves to move in. Kuni begins her song and Cilka has once again quickened our reflexes. I wait my turn to enter the church to help with the purge. Moving through the doorway already are Dom, Coy, Gertie and Keth. I take my place beside them and mow through two of the skeletons with relative ease, then position myself to take out the next few.

I see the signature flash of Cilka burning hands being cast against our foe. Followed by a black oily smoke that erupts from ground at Cilka’s feet. It boils up, surrounding us in a horribly noxious, nauseating cloud. Just holding my sword becomes challenging. Gertie and Cilka fall, I barely keep my own feet beneath me.

A bloodcurdling scream cuts through the blackness, panic pierces my heart, my sword falls from my numb fingers as I turn and flee. Not one of my finer moments. Almost as soon as I clear the door I come to my senses and stop running. There is a blinding flash of light the explodes inside the church, I run back the way I came, my fear back to what it should be, fear for my companions.

The door is blocked by 3 more that are trying to get into the church, it is a sad day for them, I mow them down on my way by. The church is almost free of bad guys, only a few remain, harrying my companions. Dom looks hard pressed, I move around to his aid.

A terrible grating noise comes from the dome of darkness where the alter was. Kuni shoots an arrow imbued with daylight, bright as the noonday sun. The darkness disperses revealing a man standing behind the alter, with a demon at the altar’s side. The circle surrounding the alter is ringed with swirling blades, churning in a tornado of sharp steel.

I finish off the one harrying Dom and Cilka, Coy is down, I run to his side.

View
Session #35
Return to Laibach

July 26th
We spend the next two days in various preparatory endeavors with some of us using the time to assist the city in its recovery.

We will head to Umbria by way of Achau and then through Pola.

August 2nd
We have reached Achau, the city is badly damaged but many of the enemy have moved on. Orcs guard the villages outside of town and the few workers in the fields that were not overrun by the battle. We regret the need to move on without assisting those left under the tender mercies of these orcs, but our duties call and we must pass on by.

We cut through the mountains, briefly losing our way in a swamp outside of Celke, I am plagued by insect bites and am unhelpful in watching our surroundings.

August 7th
We are hailed by dwarves, Cilka is called by name surprising us, we did not expect to be called by name in the middle of a swamp. We are led clear by our old friends, and invited to join them for refreshment and to stay as long as we need, we are pleased to see Kalisto there to greets us with wine a meat. We tell the tale of our travel through the tunnels and some of our adventures that followed.

Cilka speaks privately with with Kalisto, returning in short order saying she thought this was a conversation that should be had by all.

Kalisto speaks of foreign visitors from the time when she was a visitor in the court at Umbria. The blind lady tells of a tragic expedition to Umbria that she believes was the cause of the split 300 years ago. She believes the emperor was seeking the central cathedral in Umbria as a start to his crusade. The foreigners came from Auvergne west of the Allemannic kingdoms. She says they were members of the conclave and this is the only reason she is still alive.

Cilka asks if they were going to move the stone, or claim it for their own.
The emperor’s purpose was dual, to both claim the stone and take it for his own to aide him in re-uniting the empire.

Coy asks if the emperor has a god or goddess that he served.
To some degree they were dedicated to the service of the trinity. The empress was a good woman married to a good man who was driven mad by misdirection and lies that led him to ultimately kill his wife and his son.

Coy asks if he was the one that insisted the gods treat them as equals, was he the cause of the forsaking? Kallisto doesn’t know, but the foreigners (Conclave members) were not seeking the threshold, they were looking specifically for arcane power, not a bridge to another world.

Coy suggests the motivation for the emperor’s journey may have been a ruse to get others in the party close to the threshold. Coy speaks to the dwarves of the state of Laibach, where things stand currently; who occupies it and how badly damaged it is.

Prebold has sworn fealty to the new duke, we discuss our options- do we try to liberate Laibach and if we succeed, will it hold? Are there those worthy and up to the task of keeping it free?

We plan the attack of Laibach, we’ll leave the horses in a secluded grove outside the town and make our way to the 20 foot high walls from the back. I will spider climb the wall, and secure a rope to aid the others up. That’s the plan, we’ll see how it plays out.

Turns out climbing the wall and setting the rope was the easy part. The guards on the far tower have spotted our companions that remain on the ground waiting to make the climb. I run toward them, trying to draw their fire and protect the climbers. Coy has jumped to the top of the closer tower and is dealing with the monsters there.

I handily scale the tower wall and dispatch the two crossbowmen with some pointy assistance from Kuni. Hearing movement and voices from below, I step through the trap door onto the ceiling, hanging upside down I attack. I could get used to this spider climb thing. They seem a tad disconcerted by being attacked by someone standing on the ceiling, I take full advantage, swinging at one of them as he reaches for his shield. Kuni joins me from the parapet and we take them out side by upside down side.

I burst through the door just in time to see it slam shut. An elvish blur streaks past me, not quite fast enough to stop them from securing the newly closed door to the keep. Coy decides to vault onto the roof, and immediately downs one of their archers. I am torn, window or roof? The quandary is answered when more appear in front of Coy, I go for the roof. Walking up the wall I position myself to lunge, unfortunately I miss, though not horribly so.

The others have moved up behind us below on the parapet, Dom leaps to the balcony and opens the shuttered door. Kuni and Cilka are not far behind.

Gertie comes soaring over around behind the unfortunate beast I am facing. She and I make short work of him. Gertie immediately flies off over the edge of the roof, suddenly my walking up walls does not seem as cool as I thought a minute ago. Coy’s got the last guy on the roof, I step off the edge again and swing around through the door pulling the ceiling move again, now I am cleverly positioned to avoid the pit, and get the guy at the edge of the pit, assuming he does not tumble in. Kuni peppers him with arrows and he tumbles down.

I maneuver toward the door, still on the ceiling, but can’t quite make it close enough to do anything. Fire is flying around, arrows aare shooting by, I hear clashes and crashes from inside the room, finally I get through after Alaric considerately clears the way, I am just in time to take the last swing at the last man standing.

View
Session #34

The Archon Rounds on Keth and in what might be elvish, resoundingly calls him out in a very displeased tone. Most of us do not understand of what he speaks, but we do gather that he is decidedly put out. Coy breaks in with a few words, and the Archon departs. We ask of our brothers in arms what distressed the Archon so. Coy tells us that it fell upon him to act as Keth’s morality, as Keth seems to have misplaced his, this is what angered the Archon so. Cilka casts us all a look of self-satisfied vindication.

Coy says there is battle in the distance, wizards may be working to dispel fire. We make our way through the alleys of the city, remaining somewhat mindful of the need for stealth, but making what haste we may.

Bodies litter the ground both in Chalcedonian garb and the garb of the watch. There are a few mixed in with a star patterned tabard we have not seen before. The stars are in the form of the trinity, we assume by the pattern that they are of the goddess and so would also be allies of ours.

We pass a building ablaze, lighting a wave of water that pushes its way through the doors and windows. The water turns a corner and progresses on, it must be being directed by some elemental force.

The city has been hard pressed, as we pass we see signs of days dead fire that has spent its wrath. The streets are lined with buildings only half standing, everything is coated in a layer of thick black ash. Sounds are deadened, as if the city were covered in a newly fallen snow, but this is a dark snow born of fire, ash, and blood.

We peer through an alley, a bright light spans the area before us cutting a divide between two opposing forces. We are well behind a line of skeletons and the like on the left and humans from Chalcedon on the right, they face off with a small mob of bedraggled humans wearing the remains city guard colors standing ready on the far side of the line of bright light.

Dom takes advantage of his orcish visage, to peak around the corner and report back what he sees. Keth using his description, bows his head in concentration, and a swath of tentacles springs up amongst the chalcedonians, throwing them into chaos. We make our standard preparations (buff up, buff up, they hate that!) and move into position behind the tentacled chalcedonians. Two of the undead have an evil glow to them, one turns and begins to move toward us.

The human defenders are hewn down, losing half their number in the first clash of arms. A wave of skeletal creatures circles us, I look toward the city guard despairingly over the bone white skulls of the enemy blocking us from their aid. Gertie runs toward them, skirting along the edge of the skeletons trying not to engage them as she races to aid the harried gaurd. We see a familiar banner waving amongst the line of the city’s defenders, it is Gertie’s father and his company that is threatened, adding another layer of desperation to the already hopeless situation.

Cilka cries out and from her out turned hands, a massive ball of fire shoots clear, bursting through the skeletons, decimating their number by well more than half. Cilka’s gleefull shout rings out in the aftermath, we may be able to save them yet.

My path, now cleared by the fireball, I ready myself to race to the aid of Gertie’s father and the city guard he is leading. Two of the skeletons are better equipped, we assume they are the leaders. One has moved toward us, while the other splits off the harry the city guard further. The one facing us shimmers in an evil glow, in its place we now face a monster twice the size with a gaping, tooth filled maw where its face should be.

I hear Keth’s chanting come to a crescendo behind me and a portal opens above the struggling skeletons, the figure that emerges glows with a glittery white light, hovering wingless above the strife. She is humanoid in nature, looking similar to our companion, Coy. She streaks off above our heads toward the backs of the Chalcedonians facing off with the city guard. I hear shrieks pierce the air as she clashes with the enemy.

Now that the sparkling lady has flown to Gertie’s aid, I decide to take aim at the skeleton closest to me, I must protect our casters. We’ll finish these off and move en mass toward the rest, clearing the way as we go. Dom’s knives flash, taking two down.

I have three lined up all nice in front of me, the large toothy monster has moved off toward the shrieking, I think the flying lady may have gone after their magic slinger. I swing, cleaving through all three, alas only killing the first, but all are looking the worse for wear. Two more are lined up on either side of Dom, I watch, screaming in helpless fury as Dom collapses beneath their blows.

I take vengeance on the two still threatening Dom’s prone form, he is down, but doesn’t look too bad off. I finish off the last of the first wave and find myself in a short lull. I turn, taking precious moments to asses. My companions are facing the female caster who is holding her own against them all. I cannot reach them and have any affect, so I chose to sprint to the closer one facing a conjured badger, which will then line me up nicely to go after the female mage, or would have if I’d been able to swing true. Gertie smites her and she falls, somehow even the best laid plans never seem to work as you expect.

Many of our number are down, but none critically so. Keth kneels before the elf he summoned, laying his hands upon her and chanting his healing spells. Once she awakes, Keth directs her to heal Alaric which she is able to do just before she is called home.

Coy climbs to a high vantage point to assess the state of the city’s defenses. We decide to head toward where they are bringing the wounded to see what help we can offer, but first Alaric gathers us close to channel a still much needed healing spell.

Albertus and Keth confer while Hendrick thanks us for our timely assistance. Cilka searches the female mage, she recognizes the her as Elsbeta. An unbidden shout of relief and exaltation meets her announcement, the evil dragon lady will plague us no more.

July 25th

A surprising number of the city’s defenses are still standing, though their integrity is questionable. The army is moving off, while the rest of the town still reels in the aftermath. We send word with the forces that the siege is broken, the general is dead, and we suggest they go to Achau.

Alaric, Gertie and I go to fetch the horses.

While we are working hard at collecting the wayward animals, Coy finds a covered over entrance to catacombs under the outline of the old church, there is nothing of note there, no underground alter desecrated or otherwise, and no roaming undead. Keth and Cilka discuss some arcane concerns, I am satisfied as it did not come to blows.

We realize that nobody took the time to search Elsbeta’s body. They speak of something about a circlet that might hold some important place in all of this, I care not as long as the evil witch is truly dead and gone.

July 26th

Cilka and Keth take the tongue and book to Albertus, ending (hopefully) one of the sources of strife in our band.

We plan to leave as soon as we are re-provisioned and make copies of the battle plans we stole from the general’s tent. We’ll head south, continuing our journey to the Threshhold.

Coy and Dom take advantage of some of this time to search the abandoned enemy camp for anything of interest that might be found.

Cilka returns from the meeting with Albertus with a leather papers satchel filled with vellum scraps covered in writing of unknown origin, she seems excited to have these in her possession, you’d think it a nice new sword or pretty dress from how she’s going on about them.

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Session #33
Saviors of Passau?

(still the night of 24 July)

As we approach the army camp, we hear a resounding crash near the city and those of us that can actually see anything report movement toward the south. The foe we face are well organized, more so than we’ve seen recently. They are patrolling their perimeter, Coy and Dom will distract them while we approach the command tent.

We hear shouts erupt spurring a flurry of activity among the tents, that’s our cue. We advance, as quietly as we can, thankfully Coy and Dom have created enough of a distraction, that our clumsiness is covered. The command tent is clear, we enter and quickly sort through as much as we can taking advantage of whatever time we risk taking. Coy and I stand guard at the tent entrance, my cloak with our enemy’s sigil proving a helpful disguise and may provide a few more moments.

We hear a scuffle behind us, Dom has restrained the… companion of the tent, she struggles, spitting threats at us. We seem to be in Clerian’s tent, his child of a bedmate clearly has a high regard for his ability with arms, she seems to think we’ll be punished severely for our audacity. We toss her out of the tent, set it afire and take off with as many papers from the war table in the tent as we could scoop up.

We head south toward the slave tents as quickly and unobtrusively as we can, though the time for stealth is rapidly receding behind us as the noise of the chaos we have already caused continues to cloak our actions. Speed will be our friend now as we try to free whatever slaves our enemy plans to send against us. The first section of the orc encampment does not seem to have any slaves. Looks like a warband as opposed to a tribe. 3rd camp is as large space wise as the first but only about a dozen tents spread out. As we approach we hear guards call out from the palisade, followed shortly by what is most likely a “hark who goes there!” in orcish off to our right. Our cover finally blown, we turn to face an ettin, a double headed oversized ugly orc thing.

I can’t even get close enough to hit the beast before my friends put him down, too bad we didn’t get to him before he raised the alarm. I move around to be sure he’s down for good, everyone else perks up looking both directions along the make shift palisade we are up against. Arrows come streaking out of the darkness from our right, from the left comes a loud rumbling roar. Right or left? The debate is over quickly as I opt to charge toward the source of the arrows, and let Coy and Dom deal with the loud one.

The ettin swings at me ineffectually, giving me a false sense of security. I follow him around the pit and manage to land a blow. Then he lets loose with this flurry of attacks and I crash to ground senseless yet again. I wake to Aleric standing over me, a look of concentration on his face. I hear Coy shouting off in the darkness, “this way!” as I stagger to my feet.

We collect around 300 slaves, and start to try to herd them to the ford. They are strongly motivated by their desire to be free of the orcs, doing their best to move quickly and stay together. We assist them crossing the water to safety. After sending them on their way, we turn back toward the city.

We see evidence of the carnage the city has seen embedded in the very walls surrounding the city, both the freshly dead, and the risen dead in equal measure. The fighting is now on the far side of the first bridge, the buildings have been crushed beneath the feet of the conflict. We see a blinding white light in the distance, illuminating the wall between the two branches of the river where several towers have toppled. Bursts of fire sear after images in our eyes, silhouettes of those fighting, and the dead and dying. The screams reach us across the water.

We cross the bridge and are hailed by a guard, we defer to Kuni, who unfortunately and very out of character, finds herself tongue tied. Coy tries to rectify the situation by shoving the guy off the bridge, the guard is more perceptive than most and manages to keep his feet. We scuffle with him, and quickly move on over the bridge. We head toward the flashes of fire, planning to take out the wizard, figuring that to be the best help we could give the troops.

We come into the town and find a large bat winged being wreathed in fire followed by a large hellhound and many smaller hellhounds, almost none of them are humanoid. At least they don’t look like they’ve just crawled out of a grave… We perform our routine pre-battle rituals of Rod invoking, and clustering around Cilka so we can all be speedy.

We are hemmed in on both sides by the buildings still standing. I briefly toy with the idea of going round and coming at them from behind through an alley, deciding to opt for the more cautious approach and stay together. I move up quickly as a web materializes around them sticking them in place. A cloud of darkness falls over the biggest nasty in the back as Coy steps up shooting lightening from his hands into their midst. They retaliate by breathing fire, wherever their fire touches, the webbing disappears in a puff of smoke. They are still constrained, but it will not be long before they are clear of the sticky substance.

I step forward and swipe away the webbing from the area in front of me with the flames on my sword as a large insectiod creature appears in front of one the monsters opposing us. The insect attacks the monster, maybe it’s something Keth called forth, though usually his are all glowy and sparkling white, this one does not have that comforting heavenly look to it at all. Alaric takes advantage of the path I cleared and kills the cat creature facing us.

The darkness in the back still shields whatever it is behind there, but now we are being stalked from behind as another wave of the hellhounds coming around the corners of the buildings we just moved past. Kuni and Cilka are back there, I turn and charge the one closest to Kuni and I trying to attract their attacks and protect my cousin. I swing true, cleaving the monster in two. I face the rest of them menacingly, standing between them and our less physically imposing companions. Kuni proves herself more than capable, pincoushining the remaining hellhound that had approached her from behind.

Dom’s arrows flash past me, burying all three almost to the feathers into the one that has moved up to my right. I step into the space left between two of the three and take them both out. I hear the fighting continuing on behind me, I need to go help Coy and the rest I left facing the huge thing in the darkness, but one still faces Cilka, I cannot leave her undefended.

I step forward and take out the last hellhound facing us. Cilka turns and runs toward our friends behind us, tearing a page from her book as she goes. A blinding light bursts forth, the warmth of sunlight shatters the darkness surrounding the winged beast. We see his back to us, all shredded and bleeding, he is preparing to launch his cowardly self into the sky. Gertie charges up to him and deals the death blow.

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Session #32
Race to Passau

Run Notes 9/30/12

Keth and I search the bodies while the others go to re- consecrate the church.

Bead – aura of conjuration

We set up camp in the church, which feels much better after the attentions paid to it by our more pious friends, not something I feel worthy to participate in, all I can do is try to make up for my own past.

Overnight there is a noise outside, the sound of a piece of metal dropping. Coy goes to check it out, and comes across a ragged man, not overly starved, but not well kept either. The man tells how they took most of the villagers to go work the farms, some of the more educated they took to the city. The humans that fought against us were forced into the fight. There was a ritual, some of the people were forced to participate in the sacrifice, murdering their own. More evil done against the innocent, every day our cause feels more and more clear.

We travel from Sedlec to Freidecth on to Passua. Along the way Keth communicates with Albertus to keep him apprised of our adventures. Keth mentions that he contacted Albertus, sparking a conversation of our differences in opinion and the conflict of our separate allegiances. Keth believes our actions to be extreme and in some cases and unfair. He has also been disrespected and often insulted. Despite this, Keth holds our group in high regard, believing our cause to be a good one and the message we bring of the Goddess to be worthy. He believes we have wronged Albertus, and he denies having “spied” on us for him. Keth says he was in communication only once with Albertus, informing him of our intention to destroy the heart. Alaric allows that we may have misjudged Albertus, though we felt vindicated at the time, given the impression of self-serving from Albertus and the attack we experienced so soon after.

After much discussion (some of which even I felt compelled to partake of) We decide to honor Keth’s belief in Albertus and attempt a truce with him assuming he does indeed share our goal of aligning against Elsabeta. Though we are cautious still.

24th of july night time

Arrive Passau planning strategy.

We decide to cross the river north of the city and head towards the fire on the hilltop a couple miles away. As we approach we hear a cutoff scream and coy, dom, kiki and cilka went ahead while the rest of us continued at a normal pace. Within moments coys voice floats back to us “demon, come quick” and we leave all traces of stealth behind and move forward.

Climbing the hill slows us down significantly, as I crest the hill I see a huge winged dragon awaits our loving attentions. He has been embattled recently, with a lopped off front leg and the remnants of a spear protruding from his shoulder, he will still prove a formidable opponent.

I invoke the Rod, then charge forward careless of my own hide, desiring only to protect my friends from harm. Sadly I prove less than effective as the monster’s tail lashes own knocking me senseless for a few crucial moments. When I come to I see the beast dripping its own gore and blood looming over me with my stalwart companions surrounding the monster, harrying it to distraction.

I brace myself and stand holding my weapon in a defensive position. I must have startled him, I guess he thought I was done for, he startles and whips around snapping a bite in my direction. I deflect and step to the side, the beast missteps and manages to chomp itself so hard he takes himself down, laying broken and bleeding out on the ground. Call me Callie, Dragon slayer! Able to instill fear in the minds of beasts such that they do our work for us. Yeah, that’s glory right there! I think I have a hangnail.

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Session #31
No Lich in Sedlec

July 22 –

The day dawned with us still in the company of these village refugees. They will continue North as we return to Sedlec. The track we followed kept us hidden from the city itself until we came fairly close. We thought to find a way over the walls in some neglected location, but our band was spotted as we crossed over a road. The garrison was clearly on alert after yesterday’s engagement, and sallied forth from the nearest gate as soon as we were seen. We hardly had time to dismount and seek a favorable ground before we were beset. The enemy vanguard consisted of a half dozen skeletal knights mounted on zombie steeds, along with a pair of Berbelang, an enemy we have come to expect in this region. The main force consisted of a small horde of Zombies and two squads of Skeletons, one infantry, one archers. Leading them was a robed figure, floating on air, in the company of two black-skinned bodyguards.

We were immediately attacked by the floating mage, who sent a fireball into our midst just as Cilka released the energy for her spell of haste. Most of us were badly burned, but Gertrude healed Alaric, who in turn healed us all. We were quickly engaged by the vanguard, and Clika created a wall of fire to prevent the rest of the undead from advancing on us. The skeletons fell before our soldiers, but the mage continued to rain fire upon our ranks. Blessings from Alaric and Kunigunda kept everyone on their feet, and I trapped the zombies trying to circle around Cilka’s wall in a circle of black tentacles. The Skeletons and Berbalangs were destroyed and the mage retreated with his bodyguards and remaining troops to the walls. It seemed strange that the mage employed only evocation spells to hinder us, and spells of no greater power than those I possess myself, but we could not see from the distance that it was in fact the lich himself. It could easily have been an apprentice or student sent to weaken us on our way in.

We moved to the walls and considered trying to use the summoned elephants to batter down the doors. Instead, the Coille climbed the walls and lowered a rope for the rest to climb. Once inside the city, we made our way to the cathedral, which seemed the center of activity. As we passed through the streets, we saw that there were no undead denizens in evidence. On our previous trip, sightings of the city’s inhabitants were common. As we approached the cathedral, we heard the sound of human voices.

The half-man snuck ahead and saw that there was a gathering in the main square before the cathedral, engaged in some type of ritual. We rushed forward to the square to put an end to their work. The cathedral featured a large five-pointed black star on the face of the building where the bone bell once hung. Some of those gathered before the church were undead, others were human. A few of these humans wore the colors of the Chalcedonian army, and these moved quickly to intercept us. Again, Cilka’s wall of fire and my tentacles cut the closest enemies off from any hope of reinforcement. Once the nearest enemies were dealt with, we turned our attention to the leaders of the mob. The mage was there, along with a fanatic who was whipping the assembled mob into a fury. We could see now that he was not elven, nor a lich. The Coille rushed past the defenders to the mage and killed the man outright, but then he and the half-man both fell to the wizard’s black-skinned barbarian bodyguards. As I was calling on the magic to summon forth Barnabas, I received a Sending from Alburtus. He informed me that Passau is about to come under siege by an army consisting of both orc and undead troops and that the city will likely be surrounded by tomorrow night. He was desirous to know if these forces might be under the command of Hywelledd allied with the Chalcedonian army. I responded to concur with his assessment, and to inform him that we had slain a green dragon in Sedlec, which was currently largely vacant of undead inhabitants. I also mentioned that the Order of the Star was mustering to move South, though he may not know much of the Order, and they certainly won’t arrive in time to help Passau. The battle quickly ended following the death of the bodyguards. The remaining humans had little interest in putting up a fight.

The faithful remained in the castle to reconsecrate the place, while others searched out the Hywelledd’s sanctum. They found only Petra, who told them that she was certain the Lich was dead. She felt a hole in her existence, her hate was gone, but she could not die. The Coille sent her to her rest.

We found a few pages of writing that seemed important. Some were written in Hywelledd’s native tongue and seemed to be parts of a journal. The others were in the language of the Chalcedon, and I expect they can tell us more of what happened here. I have reviewed the journal pages and they describe Hywelledd’s time in the courts and intrigues of Chalcedon. He was seeking records from the First Age, but was forced to deal with various houses of influence to obtain these ends. He related his experiences with some of these. While with the House of Chryselios, he traveled often to the site where Illium once stood. He sought out knowledge of the First Age, looking for any secrets from the time when the exchange of energy between realms was not obstructed. He believed that those ancients had found a way to postpone death indefinitely by using energies available from these other realms and sought a way to replicate this feat. It is clear from his writing that he was bitter and angry about the natural limitations imposed on certain schools of magic.

So what has happened here?

Hypothesis: Hywelledd discovered some method whereby he could postpone his own death by drawing upon energies from the Outer Realms. The focus of this magical feat was the heart that we possessed. When it was cast of the Edge of the World, it was also cast out of this Realm. Severed from his focus, he could not maintain his existence. But upon his dissolution, it is possible those undead creatures that he was responsible for did not dissipate. It is possible that he employed some agency other than his own power to create these undead. If this is true, then whatever mechanism was employed may now be in the hands of the Chalcedonians. Sedlec no longer has undead, Passau is besieged by undead, when previously no undead were present in the Chalcedon army. Circumstantially, we can draw a connection between these two facts, those we must admit the possibility that the Chalcedon undead were raised by priests from the rubble of Achau. Furthermore, Hywelledd searched the ruins of illium and did not find the Threshold there. So it seems that traveling to Illium will not benefit us if we are seeking the Threshol

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Session #30
Dragon!

July 21st
We hear a clanging as we approach the town, there is yelling, sounding almost like it’s coming toward us.

Dom dodges to the side, Gertie trips on him and falls loudly struggling to raise herself. She is spotted and decides to keep their attention on her by mounting and charging them. She thinks like I do.

Coy takes off on foot following her, he has the best chance of not falling too far behind.

They make short work of the orcs leading the slaves to the field, Coy disrupts an attempt by one to blow a horn, we have a few more precious moments of secrecy to secure the hostage town members and send them off with the field workers to escape.

Cilka casts haste and we start to move forward, I pause to invoke the rod. We face a line of orcs with one ogre on their flank. As we all move up to engage, Cilka shoots a stream of fire at the ogre while the others make short work of the orcs. I decide to leave the ogre to our ranged fighters, and take out the archer that is plaguing us from the back of their line. Gertie maneuvers in toward the ogre and calls to Star. Before anyone else can do much, the ogre is hit again by Cilka lance of fire and he tumbles down.

I attack the second ogre, who seems to have taken a shine to me, he grabs me in a crushing hug. Not quite as happy to see him I fumble through a few attempts to escape his grip. I hear the clash of arms all around me, I can only hope we are prevailing as all I can currently see is this brute’s smelly armpit. I try a few times to break free, finally I reverse his grip and hold him captive. My success is short lived, he breaks free. As we trade blows, my companions form up around us, they have made short work of the rest of the orcs and the last ogre. My cousin deals the death blow.

We sort out the peasants, freeing the ones held hostage to ensure the slaves best behavior. We have only spent a few moments trying to calm them down, when the dragon is sighted. We have been successful in our quest to attract the reptile to us.

We position ourselves, facing the beast as it wings its way toward us. We pepper it with arrows as it skims over our heads. Coy jumps down from his perch and just barely misses grappling it as it passes. I take another shot, and end up skewering my own foot. I really should just leave the bloody bow unstrung!

The dragon circles round and sends a scathing cone of acid, both Kuni and Cilka are hit hard. Somehow Star manages to dodge out of the way. Coy takes advantage of the dragon flying low to grapple it out of the air, I don’t know how long he’ll be able to hold it. I manage to scramble down from the building and limp my way over to the fight. I get there just in time, the bloodied dragon lashes out with claws, teeth and wings. He hits just about everyone around him, dropping Gertie and Coy. Keth flings up his hands shooting small balls of crackling energy at it, he drops. Dom steps in to finish it off while Alaric summons healing spirits to save our downed companions.

Dom and Alaric question the orc captives, trying to get as much information as they can about the castle and its defenses.

The orcs seem all too happy to give up their “betters” in the castle. Flourinus and a few undead flunkies hold the castle, the rest are with the army. They stayed to reap food to send to the army to the south, that is where Elzbeta is with the other dragons. Coy, on lookout, shouts down that ten riders are on their way from the castle.

We hide out in the remains of the barn, letting them approach. Cilka hastes us, I invoke the rod, we are as prepared as we can be. Kuni bursts out in song while Alaric crashes through the door, smashing into the first horse he sees.

These things are evil. Skeletal warriors on skeletal mounts. We expected 10, only 3 are visible, filtering through the decrepit buildings, trying to determine what has disrupted their meager harvest.

I follow Gertie, Dom and Keth out the door, Coy, Cilka, Kuni and go out the other side. I can only take one swing at the evil in front of me before it is brought down. I don’t even land my blow! One of the horse and riders took off on a wide circle back to the castle.

We decide to catch up with the refugees and spend the night in their company. We will send a message back with them to inform the army of our success against the dragon. Coy explains the way they should go to get to Legnicia. In the morning we take the castle.

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Session #29
Return to Sedlec

Run Notes 2012 08-26

A winged figure flies up from beneath the edge of the world, it circles around. As it approaches again, we see a claw reach up from the edge and dig it’s claws into the ground, it pulls itself up and over the edge.

They are about 100-150 yards away, we debate the merits of investigating. Inevitably, lack of reason prevails and we go to check them out. They might not be enemies, but given our luck, they probably are.

As we make our way down the steep rocky slope, more of them crawl up from the edge. Coy is uncharacteristically un-graceful in his descent.

Keth recognizes the things that have clawed their way over the edge. They are tall and skeletally skinny, red like old crusty blood. He says the are assassins by nature and have acidic skin. My blade is not going to thank me for this next fight.

Arrows fly as we advance, I see an arrow fly over my head and slam into the face of the one that is chanting. Keth makes an approving noise, which is followed by an, “ow!” behind me. Oddly I do not see another arrow, he shoots at least two…

Cilka waves her hands and a wall of fire springs up between us and them. We all advance, heading toward the edge of the firewall, she has cleverly placed it so they will be funneled to a certain area, hopefully.

Keth casts a section of tentacles, we see thrashing shapes through the flames of the wall, it looks like he has captured some, making it impossible for them to escape the fire.

I move around and shoot my bow, I have a bow! And I remember why I don’t usually bother to get the bloody thing out. Let’s go back to swords.

I have apparently moved too far over, I am targeted by the flying bat, he sweeps down and doesn’t so much rake me with his claws as grab and hold me. I feel my vitality seep away, when he lets go, I am weakened and hurting. One of his claws must have gone deeper than I thought, I feel a searing pain in my back now too…

A large black cloud of darkness springs up locking us all in blindness. We fumble our way out of the blackness to see most of the enemy have been laid low. We clean up the rest, we are an exercise in extremes this day, either hitting exceedingly well, or perilously poorly. We need to bring news of the source of the invasion of beasts southward to our allies. We rest the night and get an early start.

June 12th

Still cold

June 13th

Uneventful

June 14-17th

Slow going, I think Kiki is lost
June 18

Yay speedy today, back in the swamps

19th

Nothing new

June 20th

More tracks showing up, 2 marsh giant corpses gutted. Koy says there are killer frogs

21-22

Speedy!

23rd

Kiki isn’t lost anymore

24th

Bored now

25th

Are we there yet?

26th

Yay the beach!

We arrive July 10th. The voyage by ship was long and uneventful. We have decided to return to Koshlin hoping the coupe has taken place and Bertron is leader no more.

We go to a tavern, have some lunch and listen to the local talk, trying to sus out who might be in charge. For some reason the drinks were awfully expensive, but it was good to unwind a bit, though I think we may have left the place a little the worse for wear, I felt good about giving them more business though, they were pretty empty for lunch time.

Coy replenishes our provisions, it went pretty quick, or I may have dozed off a bit.

As we head out of town, we bump into Kuni on her way back to meet us. She has found out that Engle is in charge, gathering a force to fight on our side.

Coy and Engle discuss strategies, updating each other on what has transpired. He invites us to travel with him, but we must move quickly onto Umbria, so regretfully decline.

Gertie asks of Bertron, Engle says he confronted him, they argued and agreed to meet the next day to discuss. Bertron never came to that meeting. As was his wont when he was angered, he took a few trusted men and went on a hunt. None returned.

Coy and Keth go to speak with Soren, the librarian. They come back with a scroll that will allow one message to be passed from us to Engle. We stay overnight in the castle, planning for an early start the next morning.

We plan to travel to Legnicia and go around the mountains to avoid Accua.

We make excellent time, making it to Legnicia in 9 days. We see much activity along the way, troops assembling and getting ready to join the main army as it passes through.

July 20th
Tents surround Legnicia. We secure provisions, again at a higher price given the mobilization. Those of us that have a way with people get what news they can. The undercurrent from the commoners is as we would expect given the situation, everyone is nervous and not sure what is going on. They are afraid they are about to be abandoned as the order of the star is forming up and making to head out in the wrong direction.

Travel south and west is rumored to be dangerous right now, many stories go round about orcs, undead, bandits… anything that is scary is rumored.

We head out, while on our journey we start thinking of the Lich whose heart we threw over the edge of the world. Traveling to that town to rid it of the lich would take us out of our way by several days, but we cannot in good conscience pass this close and not do our best to rid the area of that evil.

We pass a campsite and a town that looks to have been overrun, though not in the same way the one taken by ghouls was, this appears to be orcs taking slaves.

One town we see off in the distance is not dead, it is active, though we can’t at this distance tell by what. We find an old barn to hunker down in while Coy, Kiki and Keth sneak off to scout out the town. They come back telling of orcs and a dragon spotted off in the distance. We plan our strategy, we’ll wipe out the town and set it on fire after rescuing the slaves. We hope the fire will attract the dragon so we can take that out before the army comes through.

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Session #28
To the Top of the World

Morning, 2nd of June
Little moon low, new tomorrow
Big moon is high

We travel more through the swamp; it’s still cold and wet.

Morning, June 3rd
This morning we see a bright light flashing over on the mountain range ahead of us. The light looks like it’s reflecting off of something; it lasts for a few minutes, then stops. We try to end our travel on a hill so we can watch for it again. Scattered around we see tracks left behind, marks almost as if something large was dragged through here. This is not a friendly place.

During our watch we see light moving in the distance, a torch or lantern, moving back and forth erratically. These lights continue for about an hour.

Travel continues in this fashion, picking our point where we aim to end travel for the day, avoiding anything that looks or sounds at all dangerous or intelligent (present company excepted, mostly).

Morning, June 6th
Both moons are either waxing or waning – no effect
Some are saying they smell an acrid tang to the air, I have no idea what they are talking about, though the air and water seem a bit warmer here. We hear the fearsome screech of one of the fishy ogres not far off. We brace ourselves.

They start off by tossing smallish sized boulders at us, but really when someone is throwing a boulder at you, do you really complain that it’s a little too small? Didn’t think so. And ow, they hurt. You’d think it’d be easier to dodge those.

I’ve noticed our friend Keth speaks with such precision, I think it would be nice if he shot the same way with that bow of his, though I have to admit those pits of his are handy.

One of them has gone cowardly on us, running and yelling its fool head off back into the swamp behind it. We can only assume to warn more of them of our presence.

I move up on their flank, and engage one of the monsters; they are even more smelly up close, though Cilka’s fire may have made that worse. Between the two of us, he is the first to go down.

These boulders are doing a number on us, knocking us down left and right. I see Rea move in protectively over Kiki and Gertie who have been knocked out. Rea earns her keep, dealing the death blow to the big smelly threatening them.

I move up to the last one without an opponent, knocking him down with a mighty blow. Gertie is up, calling to her horse and charging after the one that ran off.

Coy overtakes her and crashes on ahead, catching up with the cowardly snitch in short order. Keth takes another shot with his bow, this time he actually manages to hit the beast. I take a moment to make sure the one I knocked down will not get up again, and chase off after them, feeling a twinge of guilt as I go. This would never have bothered me before, maybe I am going soft with all this talk of a higher good and all.

Coy is down. Thankfully, Gertie has reached him and can at least take the monsters attention off him. My lovely and talented cousin not only keeps inspiring with her song, but also gets a great shot off with her cross bow (did you see that Keth?). Gertie takes a terrible blow and crumples to the ground. I race to her, but am too far away to get there, all I can do is watch and hope one of our healing magicy types can get to her. Cilka screams in anger and lashes out with her searing fire, scorching the monster that hit Gertie deeply, but he is still up. Fearing the worst, she closes in, desperate to save Gertie, the foolish brave little thing. The monster takes the bait and smashes a blow upon her, Cilka drops. I can’t tell how bad she’s hurt. The horse, Star is furious and manages to land a bite.

Keth deals the death blow and Alaric immediately does one of his mass feel better spells. I wait anxiously while they work their magic on our downed comrades, nobody looks worse off than Gertie, I am unsure if they will be able to save her…

It is touch and go, but our magic prevails and everyone is at least up, if not in great shape.

The ogre that had been hollering its fool head off is now alarmingly quiet. We know they are expecting us, we don’t know yet what we will be facing. We take a few minutes and Alaric blows through most of his healing to get us in the best shape we can hope for to face what’s next.

We are facing some really odd, misshapen beasts. They are vaguely human shaped, and are chanting in some kind of guttural language. They move around to the front of a haphazardly constructed structure made out of large pieces of ragged heavy canvas awkwardly sewn together. Keth creates one of his clouds, this one is green and smells terrible. We hear the creatures inside holler and squeal, one barbaric ogre comes crashing out in a rage and smashes into Coy, dealing him a terrible blow and he falls to the ground.

A small winged creature flies out from under the meager protection offered by the rough canvas tents. It fires off a small ball of fire at Cilka, stinging her smartly. Stupid little bat, she’s not someone I’d like to anger like that. Frustrated that she can’t hit the imp directly, she enchants a web across its path, handily ensnaring the raging barbarian as well. I move up dodging a javelin on the way and swing at the ensnared ogre barbarian. He screams in rage and thrashing, manages to break free of the webbing.

The imp has flown aside, avoiding the webbing, Cilka steps up toward it and lashes out with her scorching ray. The thing squeals in agony, but stays in the air.

Coy is back on his feet and takes his vengeance on the ogre barbarian that so easily knocked him out. I move around to help Kiki, who ends up not needing as much help as I feared. I see the hag peer at me around the pile of rocks, her gaze makes me shiver. Alaric moves up with me and we both take the attack to the hag. She carries odd weapons, a claw in one hand and some kind of strange blade in the other, it is dark in color and looks like no metal I know.

Cilka moves up behind us and uses her neglected burning hands. Unfortunately this does not have as much effect as usual, they don’t even stop their horrendous chanting. Suddenly the chanting takes on a different tone, they all turn and focus on Kiki, whose form shimmers before our eyes and collapses down into the shape of a toad. I am stopped dead in my tracks with shock, only the pit forming at their feet causing them to jump back snaps me out of my stupor. Alaric and I redouble our efforts, trying to rid ourselves of these evil things before we suffer the same fate. As I move in to my attack, Coy comes rushing in and shoves one of them into the pit cast by Keth. Kuni moves up and deals the death blow on the one Alaric is facing. Go cous! I have angered the hag, she hammers on me mercilessly, I manage to avoid only one of her blows and stagger under the weight of her attach, but am able to stay on my feet.

Gertie comes up behind her, the hag whips around and attacks, Gertie slashes back, we now have her surrounded. Coy reaches over Gertie’s head and grapples the hag, while I step forward and slam her repeatedly. Kuni deals her the final blow, that’s two cousin!

We search the caves, the hags had something of an alchemy shop going, though sadly they do not appear to have figure out how to turn anything into gold.

June 8th

Kiki becomes herself again, and without the toad as our personal bug trap we get to deal with mosquitos at night once more.

As we near the edge of the world we start to feel edgy, like something is not quite right, but we can’t put a finger on it. One night, Cilka notes that some of the stars are missing from the sky- the spear is no longer visible. We also note as we get closer, that the sky above the mountains is darker than the sky behind us. There are also no stars visible in that part of the sky.

Gertie keeps saying, “She is close”. In response to the spear disappearing she says it is because she is close that the spear is no longer visible. She also talks to me about when she was almost killed, that she was brought back because of the proximity to the Lady.

Overnight on watch, Coy hears a squeaking. He says there is something out there, but I can’t hear it or see it. He goes to hide and spy, I stand at the ready, worried for his safety. He comes back shaken, which is unusual for Coy. He says only that it was a very bad thing, when pressed, he mentions only a single glowing red eye, and a sense of dread.

As we get closer to the mountains, the sky is getting darker and darker- resembling the night sky more and more, even at the height of day. The mountains we climb are glacial and very cold. We keep spells cast on the horses and on Rea to help them survive in this unforgiving clime.

June 11th
We are one day away from a new moon

We see a huge crystal structure, a pyramid shaped almost like praying hands with an archway in front leading inside. There are prints leading up to and around the structure. As we get closer we see a statue of a man with wings on one side of the archway, the other side just the base remains, the statue has been sheared away. These things are still a ways off, as we get closer more details emerge. We see claw marks on the edge of the arch, and the statue is of a crystalline material. The other statue looks to have been made of ice.

As we step through the archway into the pyramid, the wind dies and the cold disappears. It is comfortable in here, almost warm. There is a smell of dung in the air, very much at odds with the crystalline beauty of the space. It seems like something unwelcome has taken up residence here, something powerful, able to melt and scratch crystal.

There is water pouring down in the back, into a hole. Concerned that whatever has moved in here might be hiding below, we attempt to sneak toward the back to take a look.

Our attempts to remain quiet are about as successful as usual, at least this time it wasn’t me! Suddenly a huge scaly thing appears, it has many spikey feet, is a cold blue but is radiating heat from its back. I can see no eyes of any kind, it is huge, towering above us.

We surround the monster and acting in concert and with the assistance of Keth’s conjured friend, manage to kill the beast.

Ther is a flash of silver light

A tall woman clad all in silver, carrying a spear walks out of the water fall. She tells us that it is difficult for her to be here, but worth it as she has not had supplicants visit her in a long time. She offers us a gift, and to answers questions we may have.

What do we wish to know?

What damage are the followers of the dark lady doing to her cause and what can we do?
They damage the few remaining places sanctified to her and her daughters, this hurts us more than her. These places can be re-sanctified by inlaying in silver the symbol of the trinity and pray over it. This must be done by one dedicated to her.

Gertie says she came because she was called, what does she wish her to do?
A: I have a gift for you, a weapon, a means to fight. Her sisters followers seek the stone that was gifted to man so they may open a geateway permanently to rule on this earth. It must be taken away, or destroyed. If destroyed, all contact with the gods will be lost. They do not yet have it, they seek it in it’s old resting place. She does not know where it now lies, only that is has not yet been found.

Cilka- can it be used for both?
It can be used by and for both sisters simultaneously.

Keth- How do we destroy the blight and restore Albion?
The blight was not made by the gods, the blight was brought about by those that sought to uncover an artifact from the creation of the world. The stone at the center of the blight must be destroyed or cast out, without that the blight will dissipate. The stone is not of the earth, it is from before the earth.

Cilka- is there anything the can help lead us in the right direvction to find the threshold?
I know it has not been lost from it’s resting place for long, but it’s hard to translate that into our time, but that is were others seak it already

Keth- Why did you leave?
Because foolish men thought they were our equals and demanded service from us from upon the threshold.

Coy- can I ask a boon? I would like to not go bad, I do not wish my curse to take effect too soon, can you help me?
Your people fled from their own nature after the destruction of the first temple at Illios because of what they saw as their role in that. I have no influence over the arcane, I do not bring it into this world. But, when I am granting the gift, step forward and I will do what I can for you.

Is there a place like this that your son would own? The son of the scroll?
That is my sister, one sister keeps the scroll, one oposes me. That one does not have a place like this.

Our mother set the arcane upon us, none of us know her.

She asks us to step forward with a blade. A weapon bathed in my blood will be the bane of dragons.

Kuni is asked to place her hand in, it turns silver.

Callie- Is there anything else that you can tell us that might help us?
She cannot think of another piece, but her imagination is different than ours.

In response to Gertie- We are tasked with bringing back the service to her and her sisters, reconsecate everything we can.

Coy- Would it make youhappy to have other of your followers visit?
Yes- but it would not nake her happy to have too many of her folowers die in the attempt.

She thanks us and retruns to the fountain.


Later that night, we travel a short ways along the rough ground of the mountains to a massive cliff or drop off. We cannot see anything but faintly colored lights or regions far below – too far to know how far down. With a mighty heave, Coy hurls the silver box from Sedlec over the edge – he said that he aimed “for those red lights, because it looked more ‘burny’”

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