Age of Despair

Session #45
An Ambush!

We hear the sound of low horn call out in a long low blast, it sounds like it is coming from where the dragon originated, maybe they are attempting to recall the beast.

Our plan is to harry the threshold thieves. We move into the hills, fumbling a bit trying to figure out which way to go. Alaric points out some tracks of what appear to be very large men.

Coy returns telling of around 5 giants in the group we are following, they make is much easier for them to carry the threshold, this dashes our hopes that they will be forced to move slowly, the giants gives them the ability to move much more quickly than we thought they would be able to.

Dom tells of another group that is moving up behind us, they also have a couple giants among them, we are sandwiched between the two, this could get interesting. Once they find the dragon, they will know we are here and will be looking for us.

We spend the night secure among the cliffs overlooking a ravine that we expect will fill with our enemy. This provides what is probably the best scenario for us to attempt to take the threshold. We have time to set up what we can to prepare our ambush, hoping to whittle their numbers down enough that our swords can handle the rest.

November 2

Setting some poles ahead of time, Cilka is able to cast webbing across the whole far side of the ravine, corralling them to come through to us in a more concentrated grouping, optimally setting themselves up to be targeted by more of our spells.

We start off hiding behind the rock outcroppings up on the path along the ledge of the ravine. As the enemy comes into view we gather together to be hasted by Cilka, then spread out, most heading down the steep slope to the ravine floor, Dom and Keth stay above, Keth to cast spells without interruption and Dom moving around the enemy so he can get behind them to flank.

The giants make it through the noxious cloud of gas that Keth has cast in their midst, many of the smaller ones succumb to the fumes. The giants lumber forward, moving much more quickly than their ungainly gate looks like it would allow.

A stream of fire shoots out across the ravine, it is not originating from Cilka like we are used to, it lashes into the webbing that is holding them back and corralling them, it looks like they will not be slowed for long. Cilka retaliates with her own ball of fire, taking advantage of their condensed numbers while she can.

Again, some go down, the larger stay up, and more come into view replacing the few we’ve managed to take out so far, we are in it for the long haul this time.

I scramble down the steep path to the ravine floor, we are facing an intimidating line of three giants facing off against Coy, Gertie, Star and Keth. I finally make it down the slope and over to the giants, who have been joined by their well armored commander, at least he had been shouting out orders, after my sword meets his chest, he’s not shouting anything anymore. Unfortunately I am not able to carry the blow through to the giant next to him.

Suddenly the giant I failed to hit freezes in place, apparently struck immobile from some friendly spell. Alaric slashes into the middle giant, repeatedly opening wide gashes, toppling the great beast with a thunderous crash.

Arrows fly thick through the air, another giant is down with a thud the shakes the ground, the rest of their number are quickly moving up on us. Another regular sized armored guy appears suddenly in front of me, in between me and the newest giant to come up to us, it is in my way, but before I can even ready a swing to remove him, Gertie slides in and he is no longer a problem. Now we just face this new giant, he is a different looking beast, with demonic armaments and nasty bone helmet that looks to have once been the skull and spine of an actual demon.

A huge ball of fire goes arcing overhead and blasts into the cliff above, I can only hope my companions waging their war from on high were under enough cover to weather that fire storm.

The massive demonic giant lashes out at us with its long spear, reaching farther and with more weight behind the blow than should have been possible. Gertie is hit hard, I see her go down just as the swing comes back around and slams into me, that is the last thing I remember for a short time…

I come to in a world of chaos. There is fighting all around and above me. I hear a pop as air is displaced and the familiar growl of the hound archon, a welcome sound to my beleaguered ears. I clamber to my feet, a moment to take stock, and I am running toward the last few bad guys left standing.

As I engage I take a few hits from the swordsmen in front of me, nearly falling again. Alaric has my back and instantly I feel better. Coy, Gertie and the archon take it to the archers. Alaric and I dispatch the remaining infantry and Coy continues his assault on the sorcerer. The archers decide to surrender and after some interrogation they tell us that the threshold has been taken to the temple on the mountain.

We decide to head out towards the temple, opting to heal and rest overnight and then assault in the morning. Traveling all day, we near the tall mountain that seemed to be the destination of the column of men and giants, but we know that the group hunting us is now nearly upon us.

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Session #44
Chasing the Ship

October 10

We are unsure of the wisest path to take, it is hard to say what will catch us up to them more quickly, ride over land, or tempt the windy fates at sea.

The patch of blue they are arguing over on the map looks kind of like a slug. We are at the tip of the antenna, we think the boat went south, down toward the bottom of the slug. Traveling by water may be the best course as we do not know the destination of those we follow, we’d be most likely to see where they go ashore if we are on the water ourselves.

Of course we’ll have to rid ourselves of the horses again, it is sad that this is the purpose we seem to be putting all our battle earned coin toward, buying horses then selling them off for less than what we paid.

We take to the tavern for the evening, hoping to find a willing fisherman to lend us their boat and maybe sail it for us as well. Visitors the likes of us are apparently not seen here often, we are the subject of much conversation and even more hard looks. They are not unfriendly, just cautious.

We manage to order up some food and drink, though Coy complains that he did not get what he asked for. I am pleased with my tankard of ale, I need little else.

We strike a bargain with a local fisherman and his crew, he sets a price of 2000 gold to put his boat and crew at our service for the next month or two. We offer an exchange that works in both our favor, we pay 1000 up front, and one of their family members takes our horses to sell for whatever they can get as the second half of their fee, they stand to make out quite well in this bargain, it saves us some of our coin, while taking away the problem of how to rid ourselves of the beasts without losing as much on the deal. It is a win win, and I think Hamanu would be proud.

The next day the weather starts to take a turn for the worse, we see rolling clouds on the horizon to the northwest. Afir shouts for anyone that cannot be of help, to get out of their way and suffer the storm below. We are tossed about in the hold, which is leaking cold salty water. I hear shouts from above, and frantic calling from the men. A cheer goes up followed by thumps on the hull of the ship. We hear more shouts and cheers, we later learn that Coy dove over the side to rescue a sailor that had been swept overboard by the storm. We are suddenly much more welcome and accepted.

We see a boat off in the distance, it does not appear to be the boat we are looking for. We decide to put into shore for the evening, even though it is only afternoon, we do not want to attempt to move past them while daylight may give us away, we will sneak past while it is still dark.

Keth coerces a conjured assistant to improve the wind and speed our way. The captain looks a tad nonplussed, but does not question or improved fortunes. Afir snuffs the lights and shoos us below decks, imploring us to be as quiet as we can while we make our way past the port. Coy remains above to scout the port with our spyglass as we silently pass by under cover of darkness.

We make excellent progress throughout the following days, we definitely gain ground, or water with the arcane aid conjured by Keth. There is now a pronounced current in the water, aiding our forward progress. Coy spies a dragon off in the distance over the water toward the southeast. Afir thinks it may be about two days away, we are pretty sure they do not yet know we follow.

October 28th
Big Moon is high, the small moon is just off New

Coy and I notice the dragon turn toward our little boat, start heading in our direction, then just disappear. This does not bode well.

We prepare ourselves as best we can given that we are on a boat. The thing appears above the prow of the boat and lets loose a blast of electricity that arcs through a line of us, starting with me and ending with Dom, Dom, Cilka and Alaric are all down. While I pray over the Rod, Keth raises his hands in a gathering motion, everything that is not tied down on the deck of the ship rises up and swirls together in swirling clump of wood chunks, loose barrels and small metal tools, with a pushing motion, Keth throws the vortex of implements into the dragon which lets out a angry roar, but seems otherwise unaffected.

I hear Keth shout out, “Callie, to me!” as he charges half the length of the ship, pulling the spell stone from his cloak, and a beam of green energy shoots out, hitting the dragon. The dragon staggers in the air, it’s wings become tattered and it screams out in anguish.

Coy is all big now, and has been given flight, he speeds toward the laboring beast, but is unable to land a blow. The beast has had enough of us, and turns to flee. Coy shoots some arrows after it, but is unable to hit it. I fear whatever it answers too now knows we are here and are at least a little formidable.

October 29

As we sail thru the swampy shoals Dom and Coy both spot the boat we are chasing up ahead at the beach. As we rush in the boat is brought to shuddering halt as a number of plant like monsters rise up around us. As I ready my weapon I am grabbed in its slimy claw. I try to break free but I slip in its grasp. Cilka mean while dispatches one with her flames. The creatures continue to grab at crew members and I get dragged down under the water, pulling my dagger and slashing away as if my life depended on it, which in fact, it does.

Suddenly the slimy monster lets me loose as it sinks into the dark water, one of my faithful companions must have landed a blow of some sort. I struggle in the water, my feet touch the bottom, the water is relatively shallow here, but anything over my height poses a real threat to my life with the weight of my armor dragging me down.

I manage to get my fingers latched onto the side of the boat, I try to haul myself over, but my strength fails me, one more attempt and I am up and back onto the deck. It looks like there are only two of the seaweed creatures left, I am heartened, they have done well without me, though I fear for the wellbeing of the fishermen who are unused to this kind of action. I stagger to my feet and haul my rusty ass over to the last monster still up, hoping to at least be a distraction and pull some of the blows, I am water logged, but relatively unharmed, much to my dismay.

Hey! My prayers are answered! I am locked back in the tender embrace of the last remaining seaweed creature, it starts to drag me down, but then shudders and goes eerily still. I push myself away, gasping for air at the surface. With one false start, I drag myself up and over the edge, everyone is now accounted for, the all but one fishermen that were pulled overboard have been brought back on board and are being healed. We’ll have to make it as good as we can for the lost fisherman’s family upon our return.

We were subject to an illusion, the boat we were following was never ashore at the beach, it was a trap to lure us into where the seaweed monsters could make their attack.

We are close, but not close enough, we have to continue to make as good time as we have been making to have any hope of catching them, and our conjured windy assistance leaves us after dusk tonight. We lay plans as the boats continue to vie for more distance, each pushing as hard as they can. We debate the merits of teleporting onto their decks and doing whatever we can to disable their vessel, though the dragon is still in the mix and our spells will be depleted. No options are optimal, but we must do whatever we can to free the threshold from their evil hands.

We ultimately decide that no plan gets us on board with any prayer of freeing the threshold. Everything we come up with equals us dead and them able to recover and follow through with their dark ritual. The frustration of having them in our sights, and being unable to deal them any real damage is a sickness inside our bellies, a futile rage burns within us.

November 1

Partway through the night, their pace picks up and their boat angles toward a sandy spit along the far shore. As we approach the moored boat, most appear to have gone ashore, the dragon circles overhead and lands to have its rider climb aboard. The reptile still looks a bit the worse for wear, which is heartening. They are scrambling to get the stone off the ship and organize its passage to wherever they are trying to bring it.

We arrange to be dropped ashore and for the captain to check the beach daily for our return to retrieve us if we prevail. He agrees to check daily for the remainder of the time on his contract, one month.

We put ashore and debark a little ways from the beach where the stone is being unloaded, doing our best to keep the innocent fishers safe from discovery and harm. We plan to sneak toward the enemy, and asses, hoping to find a worthy place for an ambush.

The dragon follows our ship as it pulls away from shore, but loses interest when it sees that we are no longer aboard. It starts sweeping the coast, looking for where we came to land. We have come to shore a little removed from the other boat’s landing site, hoping to lure the dragon out so we can kill it unhindered, dividing their forces.

We form up behind some rocky outcroppings, hoping to avoid the reptiles lightning strikes. We have been bolstered against this attack, but that only goes so far. True to its nature, the first flash of lightning crackles through our ranks, Coy is hard pressed though the rest of us have shaken off this first attack, the protections serving us well.

I hurry to catch up to Dom and Alaric that have hurried out to engage the winged snake. I circle round, hoping to provide some distraction so Dom can wreak the havoc only he can wield so well. The thing lashes out with claws, fangs and tail. Dom takes the brunt of it all, being the closest in, he falls. I begin my dance.

I take two quick steps in toward the reptile, slashing my burning blade against its scaly side, then spin away, avoiding the snapping jaws that dart around at me. Unfortunately my blade only glances across its armor, but I have positioned myself well, Coy is directly opposite me on the other side of the beast, we should be able to distract the thing for each other. We are also aided by the Hound Arcon sent by our lady to aid us. Alaric’s prayers to the Goddess have been answered to the best of her ability, her resources are slim and we are very far from her place of power.

Keth’s voice rises in crescendo and an elven maiden appears, spinning into a whirlwind of destruction, buffeting the monster’s tender eyes and nostrils.

Even when I have the time to actually swing the blasted beast right in front of me, I am only able to land one solid blow, the rest glance of the wyrm’s scaly armor. I did cut deep with the slash that hit between its scales, the beast screeches and whips its tail and wing into me buffeting, but not knocking me senseless. To my left I see the divine Hound Arcon crumple under the slashing claws.

To my right the swirling vortex of elven maiden casts another vortex of wind and sand, while Keth lets loose another volley of magic missiles bringing the beast down.

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Session #43
Hunting the Legion

September 13th
As we clear out to sea, we find the winds are non-existent. We make very little progress the first day. The ship has a crew of 15 who are pressed a bit the second day, which dawns stormy, at least there is a little more wind. We finally start to make good time south after our slow start.

Dom pitches in, trying to learn a little more of the craft, the crew is remarkably accepting of him. Coy, not as much, he ends up playing with the new spyglass up in the turrety thing.

October 1st comes and goes with us still asea. We celebrate the double full moon with slightly better grub to eat and some drink and song. Folks are in a festive mood, we worry we may have missed our opportunity to rescue the threshold, but we are hoping whatever they have planned is actually scheduled for the convergence of the new moons, which seems more likely.

October 4th
Cabasa is in sight, but so is another vessel on the horizon. It is a Chelcadonian military ship, which we hear is an unusual occurrence. We take the captain up on his offer to run us ashore outside of Cabasa, we do not wish to endanger the ship and her crew any more than we need to, and this saves us from alerting them of our presence.

Alaric gives us all the ability to walk on water, which saves the captain from having to go to close in. The captain has decided to avoid Cabasa, given the extra military presence.

Evening falls, bringing with it the promise of foul weather in the night. We are thankful for the hut and a relatively calm beach on which to cast it. The surrounding lands are mostly badlands and desert.

We nestle in for the night.

The weather has cleared overnight, it is a rather pretty day. We see a trail that heads in the correct direction, this will be a long hard march to make it in one day. Apparently we have gone soft, between our horses and leisurely cruise, all this walking is exhausting.

As we move toward the port, the lands continue to improve with irrigated fields with rich soil. The harvest has been taken in already, so we see little activity along the way.

The first thing we see as we approach Cabasa is the lighthouse. It is an impressive structure, stabbing up into the sky and is topped with a flaming gem. We might need to get that to add it to our collection.

There is a line of carts leaving the town, it seems that most are heading home for the evening. We go in search of an inn. Keth bribes a guard to direct us toward one of the nicer inns. These are showy guards, all decked in fancy uniforms, the insignia is Chalcedonian. They gladly take our coin and make their recommendations, we decide on the Fair Beacon and no one wants to be roomed with Coy after he consumes spicy faire.

The town is logically arrayed, in a grid pattern, even I can’t get lost here. There are statues throughout the city, though none seem overly religious in nature. It is fanciful and wondrous to us, the art is exotic in nature, representations of animals and sea creatures as well as humans and the marble depictions are brightly painted in many colors.

We find our way to the Fair Beacon and settle in. It’s nice enough that even Coy says he might trust the water. It’s really expensive to stay here thou…8 gold for all of us!! Certainly no sailors here. We head out to the crimson lantern. Its seedy.

I let the others do the talking, luckily I am unfamiliar with the local tongue, so even if I do get a little too far into my cups, chances are I won’t cause too much trouble.

Cilka is acting peculiar, she’s being friendly with these strangers, and she’s not even wearing her dress!

Keth is talking to some of the locals, oddly they seem to be getting along.

We manage not to embarrass ourselves too much, nor do we end up in jail. We even got some useful information, there was a big heavy object under a tarp that nobody was allowed to look at without being flogged. There is a blue dragon rumored to be around, and is said to sleep on a boat that is docked at the harbor. The less fancy dressed militants are much nicer than the foppy ones.

We split up, Gertie and Kuni goes to check out the local leaders, name dropping has its advantages, we hope. Cilka goes looking for a church, Alaric and I join her so she has some protection. Dom and Coy go to follow some military types around, I think I will avoid that detail, I imagine I would be less than helpful there… Keth goes shopping.

Alaric has prayed to Larani and has determined we are on the right course.

There are several old temples about that are in various stages of disrepair and outright decay. The first we visit was once a large impressive marble structure, now all that is left is the foundation. Next door is another decayed structure much the same, little of note remains. No one has ventured in here in quite some time, we see no evidence of hidden doors. Next we visit the one out by the docks, it’s on an small peninsula and sits above the city on a higher outcropping of rock. As we approach we see the pathway leading up to it is guarded. We are told the area is off limits, Cilka attempts to charm her way past, but is unsuccessful.

The third temple site is much like the first, a ruble ruin with little of note. This one at least has the vestiges of some interesting marble statues.

We are being followed by a raggedly looking fellow, we decide to play it casual and head toward the market area. We split up and make our way to the market area in different directions. Coy would be so proud of me, no one saw me! When we make it to the market we see the beggar still following Cilka. Alaric begins handing coppers out to beggars to get close and spooks the guy and he takes off running. Cilka decides to not cast her magic and he gets away.

Meanwhile back at the Inn, after much debate Coy, Dom and Alaric decide to go on a stealth mission to check out the temple on the hill that was so heavily guarded. We await their return, hoping we do not hear any evidence of their being discovered.

Kuni sings suggestively (not like that!) attempting to get folks talking, she sings of a mythical blue dragon in the hopes to get them talking of the dragon we know is in the area. I just drink and listen to my cousin.

She is quite talented, inciting the crowd who start shouting out dragon sightings and the absolute absence of any dragons, cause they don’t exist! Kuni draws it all out and finds that the sound of vast wings were heard the night that ship arrived and the silhouette of a winged beast was spotted over the full moon.

We follow the lead of one of the more assertive dragon spotters toward the wall of the city by the water, he points out claw marks on the wall that could only have been made by a large clawed beast, like a dragon. He and his friend argues over what might have made those marks, and if the dragon ever existed or just left, they both agree that the large force that came on those boats left by foot through the city. That large a force would have left tracks…

Tomorrow we’ll see if we can purchase a map and search the area outside the city for signs of the legion passing. We think they left approximately a week ago. We procure new horses, trading some of our jewelry and gems for six fine looking beasts. Keth and Coy find a map that will serve our purposes.

Dom managed to catch a word with our beggar friend who led him to a person known as “Silver Fox”. This person confirmed much of the story and is trying to secure us a guide, we plan to flesh out our rations and supplies and leave at dawn, hopefully with a guide. We toy with the idea of liberating and re-consecrating the church, but wiser heads prevail and we opt to rest up in preparation for our journey, we’ll be traveling hard to catch up with the legion and hopefully the threshold.

Otieno of Swentet is the name we are given by the Silver Fox, he may be able to act as a guide, but we have to get to Swentet first, then find him. If our path takes us that way, we will try to secure his services.

We make good time, but so far do not see much evidence of a legion passing through. Asking locals along the way tells us we are on the right path. The second village informs us that they took a turn toward the ferry to cut across, possibly to Clysma.

October 9th
We are moving away from farmland, the heat is oppressive as the climate become more arid.

October 10th
We enter Clysma toward the evening, it is awfully hot, Dom seems to be having the hardest time with it. Alaric does something that makes it much easier to stand the heat. Clysma is a small river town, much smaller than Cabasa. The building are open to catch as much of a breeze as they can, whenever there is one. We find the inn and settle down for the evening, asking for news.

The legion was well prepared, from what we are told, there was a boat sent ahead in pieces and assembled, waiting for their arrival.

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Session #42
Searching for the stone

In the dwarven city, we find a secluded place to discuss our situation.

Coy explains his theory that the light (at the top of the tower) has twisted the dwarves. Coy found no evidence of a connection between these people and Chalcedon, he hands over the stack of papers as he is done with them.

Gertie calls out that we really should leave… NOW. This brings to our attention a guttural, snarling, growl that we realize has been getting steadily louder and culminates in the should of splintering wood as the gate to the towers is smashed to bits from the inside.

Lumbering out of the destroyed gateway is a huge lumbering troll, muscles knotted. Behind him is another, this one is just as tall, but whip thin with a lashing tail. These are odd trolls.

I invoke the rod, not knowing what else might be behind the first two.

Our fears are well founded behind the first two, three more come into view through the gate, one looks much like the first, but has two extra arms and it’s mouth opens the wrong way, stretching wide from chin to forehead instead of cheek to cheek. The next one also looks much like the first, but it took me a while to realize it, I was so distracted by the tentacles it had for arms and the wide bullfrog like jaw. The next was even more disconcerting, it had the look of a huge dwarf, but it’s head was all round mouth without any eyes.

Cilka has taken the opportunity of them being all together to cast the first offensive spell, she stays true to her signature style and sends a raging ball of fire into their midst, then claps her hand gleefully, jumping up and down a bit.

Tentacle arm seems to be at the mercy of one of Keth’s confusion castings, he stumbles about a bit, then attacks the dwarvish one. The other three come toward us as we form up a line toward our left, trying to draw them and allow Dom an easy avenue to get behind them where he is most effective.

The first one out, the “normal” looking overly huge troll has come right up to me in a very threatening manner, I notice it is collared, and I am surprised to feel just a tinge of sympathy for this beast, I wonder what it once was, and what brought it to its current plight. I shake off those useless ponderings, step forward and land a heavy blow, it’s skin is very thick and tough, I stumble a bit, thrown off balance by the extra bit of oomph needed to withdraw my blade from its hide. The massive beast takes advantage of this and tries to trip me and send me to the ground, thankfully I am able to regain my balance and come back with another blow, I have definitely gotten its attention, it seems surprised I was able to cause it so much harm already.

Gertie has taken the attention of the tentacle one while Dom quietly circles around to attack it from behind. Coy enters the fray at my side. Dwarvish troll takes a couple of swings at me, but I barely feel it. I hear Gertie’s shout of triumph, I can only hope this means the tentacle troll is no longer a threat. Out of the corner of my eye I see flames leap up, just past the pillar, and arrowing straight toward the tower in a blazing wall.

I take the dwarvish one down with my next flurry of attacks, and pause a moment to take my bearings…

I know there were five of them, but I can only see the two we’ve taken out of the fight. The others must be behind the blazing wall of fire that I am sure Cilka had something to do with.

With a snarling, pain filled shout, the multi armed troll leaps through the fire wall and smashes into the hound archon, I find myself in the curious position of needing to dodge a sometimes companion of ours as the archon sail through the space in which I was just standing, he crashes to the ground beside me, looking a bit the worse for wear.

Similar howling snarls fill the air from both ends of the fire wall, it sounds like tentacle guy and whippy tail are both free of the fire as well.

I land several blows on tentacle troll, on the last swing I feel a surge of power from Fulgo as fire blasts from its tip as I swing it around searing the beast enough that it actually catches fire. It staggers under my blows. I seem to have irritated it, the monster focuses all its attention on me, lucky me. All four arms come arching in at once, raking and rending, then its ugly maw splits wide from its chin to the crown of its head, it snaps shut around me, finding all the chinks in my armor. Even I cannot withstand all these mighty blows, pain chases me down the darkening tunnel as I lose consciousness.

I wake to see my cousin bending over me, a look of concerned concentration on her face.

After we dispatch our enemies and Alaric heals us we hear that the dike to the lava lake has broken, coy and Keth go to investigate
We start trying to get people to flee the area while Keth comes up with a plan to solve the problem magically.
After dealing with the lava, Daris leads us out and we camp for the rest of the night
Cilka Keth Kuni and coy all seem to sleep badly and have nightmares throughout the night
After much arguing and deliberation we will hold onto the stone for now and use it to help us defeat Chalcedon.

After much discussion we decide to follow the route of the army to try to catch up with them to get back the threshold. We will rise before dawn and push hard to get as far as we can in our first day.

We ride until it becomes unsafe, the moons are low and do not grace us with much light. Keth’s hut is a godsend, we catch a quick respite, and move on again rising just before dawn, eating our food in the saddle. We enter into the mountains during the day today and keep pressing on.

September 7th
Today is much like yesterday, the grueling pace is starting to take its toll, but we are making excellent progress. By the end of the day we are sure the ocean is in the not too far distance, which means the encampment should also be very close.

September 8th
We wake and see the encampment in the distance, it is obviously abandoned. Coy makes his way down and finds that it has been empty for about a week. There are drag marks down to the ocean, but no boats are left handily beached at our shore, c’mon, would that really have been too much to ask?

We need to figure out where they went, I find almost a dozen silver pennies with unfamiliar markings on them. They are relatively new looking with sheaves of Grain and the name Cabasa embossed on them.

We head north to Batavium with the hopes of hiring a boat and learning more about the city named on the coins.

September 12th
We travel for four days at much the same pace, we wake on our final day of travel with only the swamp left to traverse before we reach the city. The water is brackish and finally opens up to only somewhat more free flowing water. The town is a series of small islands connected by little footbridges spanning the waterways.

Keth informs us that the convergence of the next two full moons is about 18 days away, it is our best guess that this is the date the ritual will most likely be held, and it does not give us much time to find them and liberate the threshold.

Coy and Alaric negotiate passage on a boat that Coy has picked out, he is rather particular about these things. We sell the horses (so long Shoe Leather), buy some rations and a spy glass, as well as a dagger for Gertie so she is never caught inside a giant troll with no dagger to cut her way out.

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Session #41
Evil or Misunderstood

September 2 -

After meeting with the Tutullius clan the previous day, Keth and Cilka bluff their way out of the Colius clan stronghold and then bluff their way into the strange holding of the Pinarius clan. Keth and Cilka manage to charm one of the lordship’s apprentices into giving them a tour of some portions of the clan household – built into a massive formation of stalagmites. Both notice the strangely afflicted look of the dwarves who live here and the seemingly very empty halls of the vast dwelling. Keth attempts to convince the apprentice (Scylla) to let them view the lava field at one end of the cavern from a high balcony, but they are put off until tomorrow.

Back at the Colius stronghold, the party discusses the strange nature of the dwarves here and whether the purple light shining from the peak of the Pinarius home is the direct cause of it. The party has an in-depth conversation with Darrus of Colius about the history of this city and his view of how it has changed over time – apparently sometime after the Umbrian Empire grew to it’s greatest power, the Pontus of this city grew more insular and inward facing. As they withdrew from running the empire, the humans took over (which led to the collapse of the empire and the great destruction / departure of the gods). In the Chaos of the Cataclysm, the Pinarius rose to power in Umbria by using their magical knowledge to seal the gates of Umbria to the thousands of refugees trying to flee to safety – it was at this time that the great purple beacon was unveiled as a sign of the Pinarius clan’s ascendancy. They have been the rulers (and protectors) of Umbria since. They did not seem to intervene in the most recent fight with Chalcedon however.

September 3 -

The entire party decides to “go see the lava field” from the Pinarius clanhold. Scylla is surprised by the larger party of tourists, but agreeably leads the party to the chambers of his lord Keratis, head of the clan. From there, they can look out from the balcony to the immense lake of lava that fills one end of the cavern. The party is surprised by a troll servant who brings out refreshments and acts in a docile, controlled way as it squeezes through small doorways and short ceilings. Cilka and Keth both determine that the source of power is not the light at the top of the spire, but only a floor or so above these chambers, while Gertrude senses that there is at least one evil being in the area, but not an “artifact of evil.”

Thinking quickly, Cilka feigns a faint, distracting Scylla. Coy proceeds to pummel him unconscious, while Domen lines up to ambush the troll servant when it looks into the chamber. After a few quick rounds of scorching rays, backstabbing and a whirling staff, the troll is quickly dispatched. Keth collects the strange, enchanted copper collar from its neck. The party now splits, Gertrude and Cilka heading back to ascend the main stair, while Domen, Keth and Coy rifle the master’s study and bedchamber.

Gertrude and Cilka run into a massive living stone statue at the top of the stairs who proceeds to being a merciless attack on them, while Keth and Dom start climbing a private spiral stair into the same room. A tough fight ensues, where the master and another apprentice change shape and hurl magical attacks at the party while the statue continues its assault. However use of a shatter spell and the rod of ruin carried by Domen destroy the golem, while Coy bludgeons the apprentice and Keth’s summoned demon grabs the mage (even after he shaped changed into a small, fast stirge). Attempting to settle the fight without killing the mage, Keth imprisons the mage in a conjured stone cell, and the party begins to bicker about the huge, luminous purple gem in the room, the mage’s spell book and what else should be done.

While Coy and Cilka step back down to the mage’s study to investigate his motivation, the mage destroys part of his cell and attacks the three other party members with strange attacks that transform a brazier into a flowing pool of fire and the floor into a pool of hot, entrapping tar. The two from below race back upstairs, and after Coy shatters another side of the cell with his maul, Cilka dispels more of his protective magics. Coy then knocks him unconscious and binds him hand and foot (and mouth). The party recovers, briefly attempts to negotiate with the bound and angry mage. Over the loud protests of Cilka and Gertrude, Keth scoops the massive gem into his pack and opens a hole in the wall. His magic allows the party to jump out of the tower and descend safely to the cavern floor.

View
Session #39

August 22 – 28

Travel to Umbria

August 29

morning of the 29th after much traveling we cross into Umbria thru rubble and ramparts

as we move into the city we see a fort a ways off with smoke plumes we leave the horses in a secluded area and begin investigating the surrounding buildings. We find what looks like it could be a type of temple with a number of daises that look like they may have had statues to the gods here. long since removed.

After much searching we find that there is a) a complete absence of magic and b) the threshold has been removed to …where? Dom finds goblin tracks…and we follow them into the hill.

We head down the stairs, they were once ornate and richly built, but have since fallen into decay. We pause on our way down, Dom warns us of a trip wire part way down. We hear rustling and movement up ahead and brace ourselves for an attack.

I pause for a moment to invoke the rod, I hear Kuni behind me break out in song while Cilka whispers
her familiar phrase that adds speed to our limbs. Coy expands, nearly cracking his head open on the
ceiling above, as we all move forward to the attack. I can’t even yet see what we are threatened by, this routine has become so familiar we all know our roles. We faced only two roughly clad little goblins and a hobgoblin, they don’t have a chance against us. Gertie opens the door on the far side of the grand room we have entered at the bottom of the stairs.

The room before us is a large pillared space with old, battered frescos along the walls. They must have been beautiful before they were defaced by the current inhabitants of this space. More goblins appear at the door at the far end of the room, Coy leads the way. Alaric alone moves through the door, I follow him, not wanting him to be caught alone and surrounded. More goblins and hobgobblins pour out of the rooms lining the short ends of the room, my companions come through the door behind me. They are conveniently arrayed in front of me, I wind up (missing my companions on either side, see Alaric, it is possible) and take out two and wound another in one massive swing. Arrows cloud the air, more of a nuisance than anything else. A few land, stinging like bees, I brush them off and focus on the dwindling enemies before us.

I move over next to my cousin to offer her what protection I can. Coy does one better and reaching over her head, smashes the goblins threatening her. As we finish off the rest of the hobgoblins, a few take off toward the stairs heading down on the far side, Coy and I take off to block their escape while the rest of the ones left in the side rooms are dealt with. Alaric takes a few moments to check out the small room off the pillar room, right across from where we entered. It is shrine-like with statues that have been smashed and a tiled ceiling with crystals set in the pattern of constellations.

The stairs lead us down into a crypt, the walls lined with buried dead and sarcophagi aligned up the
center of the room. I move halfway into the room, my companions moving along behind me. It is quiet
and restful in here, we may have ventured down here for nothing. Then an arrow flashes by, grazing me on its way. A horde of goblins and hobgobblins shimmer into sight surrounding us, here we go again!

We quickly deal with the beasts facing us, there are two archers ahead, taking cover behind a
sarcophagi. They lose their nerve and duck out, conveniently revealing the location of the secret door.

Alaric runs forward and reaching down just as the archers had done, opens the not so secret door. One of the archers hiding behind the door is surprised by Alaric, I move up behind Alaric and lunge past him with my sword, kindly relieving the goblin archer of any further worry and stress. The stairs continue the general downward trend, curving around and opening up into another room.

This room is octagonal with alcoves all around, except for directly across, there it is another door set in the wall. This room has something different, instead of more goblins and hobgobblins we are facing a troll.

A huge bearlike creature suddenly appears at the door across from us. It roars and a ball of fire comes racing directly toward me, enveloping me and those near me in a quick, but fierce conflagration. Once the flames subside, we are suddenly facing a wall of massive bugbears. Coy lobs a fireball of his own in retaliation. We are hard pressed against these great beasts, and even though fortune is guiding my blade this day, I fear it may not be enough. We take a couple of them down, but Dom falls to the troll as a wall of fire bursts up from the floor surrounding us. I am at the center and so do not take much by way of damage, but the fire blocks us from aiding Dom. Coy takes a deep breath and staggers through the flames, then shoves aside the troll that is menacing our fallen comrade. He shouts to Alaric for help to heal Dom.

A fiercesome demon appears, stepping through nothing right behind me. It is a similar to one we have
faced and fought before. Alaric shouts out a warning to me and attacks, I turn to defend myself as I
hear Keth’s voice shout out, “don’t attack that, it’s one of mine!”. I spin again and lash out at one of the last bugbeasts remaining. Gertie races through the wall, and is taken down by the troll. Alaric braces himself and steps through the wall, he is visibly shaken, but still up. Coy feeds Dom a potion. Alaric touches my shoulder and says, “Fly!”. I feel lightened as my feet lift off the ground, I wobble a bit, find my balance and shoot up and over the wall, attacking the troll. It spins and lays a solid blow into me, hitting me so hard a spin out of control, hitting the ceiling, my vision growing dim as I settle into a heap on the floor.

I come to, not much has happened since I went down, everyone still seems to be in much the same
positions. We are looking like a haggardly bunch, many of us are having a hard time just staying on our own two feet!

The Troll finally goes down, Cilka deals that fatal blow. Thankfully Lady Luck seems to have turned
away from both sides, as many attacks go astray, ours and theirs alike. I am flirting heavily with
unconsciousness, staying upright is almost beyond my ability, never mind actually doing anyone any
damage. The blasted beast is equipped with a nasty shield of fire, even not hitting it hurts! My head spins as that blasted shield takes its toll yet again, and I briefly lose my battle with gravity and fall senseless once again.

I wake again to much the same, bracing myself, I stand keeping my weapon ready. We are all surrounding these last two monsters and making little to no headway against them. We keep hammering away at the monsters, this is certainly a test of stamina.

A black rift opens up, the beast turns toward it attempting to make it’s escape, as it turns it exposes itself to our weapons and we finally cut it down before it can make good its escape.

View
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.

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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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