Dorset Style - 06. Kingmaker

21st Pharast 4714
Leave for Fort Drelev

Left Tatzlford after reports and request came in from the Kingdom.

Kisandra asks the PCs to rescue her father Terrion from the dungeons below Drelev Keep and her sister Tamary from the Tiger Lord barbarians, and also to remove Baron Drelev from power and seize control of the city of Fort Drelev, thus liberating its citizens from the baron’s despotic rule.
Dragonfly Cloak
A traveling cleric of Erastil named Borzaki makes a specialty of crafting magic items from giant insect parts. He promises to make a magic cloak for the first person who can bring him a large shipment of giant dragonfly wings. – Eastern side of the Lake, between lake and forest

Wanted: Slug Spit
Local alchemist and only slightly dangerous eccentric Chesk Umberweed promised a group of dwarves he could deliver some powerful metaletching acid, but he’s run out of supplies! He needs a dozen vials of giant slug acid as soon as possible. – southern end of marsh

Li’l Hooktongue
Upon hearing the PC Party are heading into Hooktongue slough area they are approached with a request: Although no one’s seen the legendary lake monster named Hooktongue in ages, the lake’s certainly rife with other monsters. Ambitious taxidermist Quanchy Veeliker wants to stuff one of the freshwater elasmosauruses that live there. – in the lake

Wanted: Speartooth
The saber-toothed tiger Speartooth has long plagued the hills west of the swamp. They say he’s killed and eaten a hundred people. So far, no one’s managed to bring the beast down.
Find Speartooth, kill him, and deliver his 22-inch-long fangs to the captain of the guard in any local city. – hills west of swamp

Road to Wyvernstone
The mayor (Loy Rezbin) of the village of Tatzlford wants to increase traffic and trade. He’s drafted plans for a road between his village and Wyvernstone Bridge over the East Sellen River, but he doesn’t have enough workers to start building the road. – by Ancestor Hold

Bog Mummy Terror
When recieving reports they detail that the local families of the border Narlmarches are being targetd with monster from the Hooktongue Slough, if the PC group is heading in the Slough prehaps they could look into this
Numerous families of local swampers and rural folk claim that something bad haunts the bogland on the border between the Narlmarches and Hooktongue Slough. Stories claim that bog mummies are rising from the muck to drown the living!

Chasing the wind

Jennavieve Kensen: Although public opinion is that Jennavieve Kensen is a spoiled princess, no one denies that she’s rich. Her latest obsession is a story about a herd of wild horses led by a magnificent stallion named Windchaser that’s said to live west of the swamp. She’s promised a sizable reward if someone can bring her one of Windchaser’s herd to add to her stable. – plains

Garuum’s Revenge

Since he was exiled from his tribe, Garuum’s festering anger has reached its breaking point. He claims to have found a “magic bug” and promises to give it to whoever can seek out the boggard tribe of M’botuu in Hooktongue Slough, kill its priest-king Sepoko, and bring his head to Garuum to feed to his pet slurk. – protruding island near Fort Drevlev

23rd Pharast 4714 – Dragonfly Glade

​An unusually beautiful swamp glade teems with Dragonflies of all sizes.​
This area of the swamp teems with dragonfly activity and has become a favorite hunting ground for boggards. Dragonflies of all sizes buzz and flit through the air in this unusually beautiful swamp glade – while most of the dragonflies are harmless (ranging from normal-sized up to a wingspan of 2 feet), eight giant dragonflies dwell in the glade as well. Constantly ravenous, these dangerous vermin swoop down to attack anything sizable they notice.

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30th April session
Invasion of the Drevlev Demesne

So we continue on in our boat after defeating the dragonflies.

Lake Hooktongue – largest body of water in Stolen Lands. Surface unusually calm and serene, 900ft deep in places, believed to be hangout of Water Wyrm Hooktongue. Big enough to carry off a bear, back has sharp spikes, not been spotted in a decade, other predators are also in lake, fishermen etc have fallen afoul of blood kamen (type of crocodile), also giant moray eels, also said to be freshwater elasmosauruses.

We spend a day travelling in the boat. As we get close to the Boggards, Cade points out that Mbutu (their name) means “those who swim in blood”.

We see something on dry land that looks very similar to the lizardfolk village. Possibly boggard village. This is called Bone Island. Bones everywhere, with the occasional human skull, but most bones are not human. There are boggards and giant frogs on guard, the rest of the boggards have vanished into caves (it looks like there’s a cave network under the village). We kill the guard boggards and their frogs and move across to the main village area. Tallis looks inside one of the mounds in the village. Excited buzzing of agitated insects from cages along the wall in the room inside. Dragonflies. Leather sacks of food etc on the floor. We go in. A bunch of boggards run past. We follow them. There are a lot of them bunched up protecting their king. We fight. There’s a lot of magic being tossed around. We kill their priest king and they surrender then tear apart his body. His deity according to his holy symbol was pretty obscure, demon lord Gogunta, Song of the Swamp, demon lord of amphibians and swamps. Wasn’t wielding her favoured weapon, he had a morningstar. Rena asks why they called him Heretic, its because he called out to the Legless One as he died, which is a Naga in the swamp, not their god. Eventually after much argument, 12 of them out of 51 survive who agree to not worship the evil deity, and they free a prisoner which is a bogstrider, its a sort of big beetle thing but sentient. Speaks Aquan. We talk to it. Ask if its tribe would be interested in being friends. He can’t speak for his tribe but happy for us to visit them to talk about it. They worship Gosray. Ka-Kekt is his name. Tok-Nikrat is its home. Cade escorts it out to safety and asks for directions to its home. We ask them all for info on the area. We learn about a few places. The boggards slope off into the wilderness. We investigate the boggards hideout. The boggards on Bone Island had potions and weapons, as did the rest of the wardens. In the throne room was an Icy Burst Morningstar, masterwork hide armour and light wooden shield, 2 cure mods, potion of sanctuary, wand of cure mod with 24 charges, wand of poison 9 charges (which we break). Treasure room – COINS 56 pp, 1,287 gp, 2,019 sp, 872 cp, ·five black opals worth 200 gp each, ·10 gold bracelets (each is decorated with a different forest animal motif and is worth 25 gp), ·a box of 12 Taldan-stamped gold ingots worth 250 gp each, ·a cask containing three doses of elixir of swimming, ·and a harp of charming bearing the likeness of Cayden Cailean.

We head off to find the ‘desperate people’ (refugees from Drevlev). 3 uneventful days of travel. We saw wild horses! Then we find the camp, very makeshift. Mixture of people here. 20-30-ish people. They’re arguing a lot when we arrive, no violence, but heated. Several different sides to the argument. Group of clerical types, street performers, and some merchants, in a corner there is a pile of belongings for around 6 people (clearly they have lost people). Arguing whether they should admit defeat and return to Pitax, or admit defeat and go to Drevlev, eventually they shut up an look at us. The clerics are of Hanspur from River Kingdoms (river god), they’re from Pitax. Rena asks what help they need. They were considering going to Drevlev because its better than being eaten by a Hydra. They’re outlawed in Pitax!!! Pitax is CN aligned, the King rules with an iron fist, most people are performers of some sort. Only a very small number have run away from Drevlev. Pitax is ruled by chaos and banditry, Drevlev is ruled rigidly by the Keep and you are executed rather than being allowed to leave. Hill giants patrol the streets at night. No money to repair the town properly, all the money goes to the Keep, despite continual raids by creatures of swamp. They are ok in this camp for a while longer, but lost 6 people to a hydra when they tried to head for Haven. They tell us that Drevlev Fort is in bad repair, everything was put into the Keep, the town is part built and largely empty. The Baron has a young lover, she is a Sukkubus and is behind all of the problems. They have allied with Barbarian Lords, leader of whom is looking for a legendary weapon that will make him unkillable. Drevlev was a plant from Pitax from the start. The wife and Baron’s main man (who is her brother) are pretty pissed off about the lover. 18 people here in total.

Rena Channels Positive to heal their injuries and then creates food and water for them all, they add a few things to make it more interesting.

They will take us to where the hydra is next morning.

Hydra – huge magical beasts, can smell you, see in low light and dark, they have fast healing related to how many heads they have got (12 heads = fast healing +12), you can sunder the heads, at zero heads it will die, they can pounce, snatch and grab, when head is severed 2 more grow back in a short period of time, fire or acid damage will stop this, they fight to the death. Hydra heads do have some value, a perfect one could fetch 1200gp, 600 for undamaged, 110 for a damaged one.

The night passes uneventfully. We set off into the swamp to find the hydra. We find it and kill it. We also get a perfect head. Rena casts Gentle Repose on it. We pick up our travellers and continue onwards.

Set camp for the night. Some of the performers are composing a song about us. We feel like we are being watched. On the wind, we hear the sound of a child crying, briefly. We leave the cohorts with the travellers and go looking. We find a small young girl cuddling a lizard. She’s not talking when we ask her questions. Just shakes her head. Then cries. Amina feels something is off about her. The way she moves is not a child’s movement. She takes Cade’s hand. We lead her back to the camp. She eats the food we give her and sits quietly by the campfire. She curls up to go to sleep. Next morning she comes with us, we head for the bog striders camp.

We hear shrill chirping, sounds angry at first but then calms down, then the one we know comes out to meet us and welcomes us. They don’t deal with many landwalkers but we have proven ourselves different and his father welcomes us. We have to explain that we don’t normally speak the language, only with magic. The child holds out her hand to Amina, who declines. She goes to Rosa instead. She keeps doing that with people. Bogstrider leader says there are many things in the swamp that are dangerous and is happy to tell us about them. A Queen bogstrider casts Create Food & Drink 3 times, for 3 people each time.

Dangers include Quicksand, constrictor snakes, zombies, basilisks, ahuizotl (aquatic beast, bear sized, dog face, large), giant leeches, boggards, calathgars (type of carnivorous plant – acrid scent of vinegar from shield sized blue blossom), there are pit traps, dark naga (lawful evil, detect thoughts but guard their own, love poison, spellcasters), giant slugs, swamp eels, green hags (forest crones, hate all beauty & purity, they can have class levels, disguise themselves as young maidens to seduce young men and ruin their lives, sometimes they eat them), bafidironds (plants), dracolisks, nuckelavee (undead combined horse and rider)), WOW, chulls, shambling mounds, spirit nagas (spellcasters, like poison, ability to charm) , tree ents, a hezru, supposedly adult black dragon(s) very rarely seen…..

Rosa sets up a telepathic bond between herself and the 3 leaders. We suspect this is a shapechanger, possibly even a black dragon. We think her holding hands allows her to understand what we’re saying. We’re trying to work out how to get it to reveal what its really up to. Rena has asked the ancestors and we know it has evil intent. Rosa uses spell Seek Thoughts on subject of it meaning to do us harm. She can’t get through.

The lizard could be an arcane familiar. She spends a good half of the day curled up under blankets, very tired. We try detect magic, it does have a spell on it, and it has magic items in the bag its carrying. Rosa has a level 2 enchantment on her today, and a level 1 conjuration spell on the girl. So we think its a green hag, seems the most likely. Rena casts a spell, and a unicorn appears in the distance. It comes closer but never too close. Sense motive on her and it’s really not right. She’s very excited and says she wants to go play with it. The unicorn shys away, but eventually it approaches her. She goes to pet it. As she does so, one of her fingers turns into green claw to strike the unicorn. The unicorn bleeds. She glares at Rena who falls asleep, then Amina who also falls asleep. Cade fights and Rosa wakes us with magic missiles. Tallis and Aria hear the fighting and come out. The hag is transforming into her real shape. We nearly lose Rosa, but we kill the hag in the end. She has a bag of holding type 2. In it is a bunch of potions and other stuff.

Phew!

We leave the travellers with the Bogstriders who will do their best to look after them, though they’ll have to earn their keep by helping find food.

So we set off to Drevlev, there is a Chull lair on the way there. Rena is keen to deal with them on the way there.

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17th April session

marsh.pngIn January someone travelling along the main road found a rotting corpse, and found a brooch which they returned to Peacehold – was a missing aristocrat who had gone to see the gem cutter in Varnhold, his brother rewards him for returning the family heirloom. No Rok egg for the big cookoff. Silver eels were got for the inn keeper. Spider silk was got for master weaver. We have a quarry for mineral rich mud. The merchant that we sent to Restov returns with an apologetic letter, “thanks for correspondence, and bringing peace with centaurs and finding missing Varnhold citizens, congrats on wedding, unable to attend for diplomatic reasons. Tensions are high between old Rostland and Issia and any excuse is being used by some people to start conflict and murder of any who disagree with them. Warns of some being nervous at our raid increase in power, and suggest we need to look to our borders and to those inside who do not wish us well. Traders with large guard contingents may be regarded as an invading force, so be careful.”

Eagles sent reps to us, 2 of them are working directly with us, can ferry people around etc. Eagles as a whole look after a greater area than our kingdom, but those who live within borders recognise our human kingdom, although they belong to the eagle nation, they are part of ours too.

December we hold wedding at old Sycamore tree, but it is looking a bit healthier than it did. There’s a kerfuffle. A branch of the tree drops onto an individual who was actually hiding quite close, looks like he was an assassin trying to kill Rena or Jayana. There is talk of how even Fate itself is on their side! The tree speaks in Common…“you’re welcome, glad I could be of assistance”. That startles people. Rena tells them that this tree which has seen much history and holds great wisdom, is a guardian for the kingdoms of Haven and Varnhold and it will guide our future. It is through wish of ancestors and wish of Erastil that this has happened." Lot of people come up and touch it or leave it a gift during the wedding.

Who bought the undetectable alignment potion?

We had sent out people to see what happened to Drevlev in March, and adventurers who vanished while checking out the final hex went in Feb. So we’re off to see what happened to them. Takes us a day to explore the area where they disappeared. Set up camp for the night. Quiet night. Part way through day we find some dead adventurers. Gully near Little Sellen river. Small island in river (15ft wide, 75 feet long). Pile of dead adventurers on island, also centaur and human bones there. We spot a large plant that seems to be moving as if its eating a beastie. It’s a giant Fly Trap. Planty creature, acidic digestive juices if it swallows you, can feel you approach and has quite nasty bite.

Search island after it’s dead, most of bones are centaur or human, find some coins, masterwork bastard sword with a rather nice scabbard, plus 2 magical auras – a helmet of comprehend languages/read magic and a rod of silent metamagic rod. Legend says this gully is a resource.

Bird arrives with a message for us (see GM post). We have to go to Taztelford. Apparently there are armies marching on it. We start sending messages to move the armies around. Then we call the eagles and head for Tatzelford via Peacehold. Aria and Tallis lag behind on foot as there are only 3 eagles.

Turns out the young woman with the news about the armies advancing is the youngest daughter of the nice guy from Drevlev. The Baron has put her father in the dungeons, and her sister is held captive. Her father refused to marry his daughters off to the barbarians. The group have allied with the Tiger Lord barbarians and some enormous trolls. She only had a slight head start over. How many? Attack by small army on defended settlement (Remembrance Hold) and a group to Taztelford. Group coming here is 25 human mercenaries and 6 immense trolls plus their commander. She thinks Drevlev is attacking to save himself, he surrendered to the barbarians so they wouldn’t wipe him out like they did the Iron Wraiths. Their master is the Lord of Pitax. They’re all jealous of our success. Her sister has been given away to the barbarians. She thinks it will be tomorrow. We send the children and Cassandra to Rembrance Hold as we think it will be safer. We have tactics!

Battle ensues. There turns out to be a stealthy barbarian caster with them. We beat them and check out the caster, who has a gem (elemental) and a cure mod potion that are magical. Oh and a masterwork composite shortbow (+3) and some cash.

So we go off to reinforce Remembrance Hold. We capture the leader of the retreating army.

He was the commander tasked with the attack on the settlement, but not the overall leader, that was the caster at Taztlford. Baron Drevlev ordered the attack. Aemon Trask was a mercenary employed by Drevlev. This guy is a resident of Fort Drevlev. They didn’t expect us to be so well defended. Doesn’t know what the aim of the attack was. We ask the Unicorns if he is evil, and yes he is. We don’t know if his words can be trusted. We tell him he is a prisoner of war, his future depends on how much info he passes to us about the Drevlev Desmesne. Most of this force were hired barbarians. Their town is smaller than Taztlford. He claims not to know how many people the barbarians have. Baron Drevlev is a vassal of Pitax but he doesn’t know how involved they are with this. He asks us to consider that the residents of Fort Drevlev are not guilty of their baron’s crimes. Rena judges him to life imprisonment under the care of Temple of Iomedae, until she decides he is either redeemed or irredeemable, if the latter he will be executed.

We ask Cassandra and locals for a map to Drevlev.

There is a bridge on the way out called Dragonstone bridge which would make a good trade route, so we will want to build a road there. Barbarian lands are mostly in the hills.
There are wild horses in south west plains. Marshland is where a lot of bog creatures and hostile tribes attack from. Cassandra’s sister has been taken by Armag, the Twice Born. Drevlev is a bully, he imprisons or kills anyone who disagrees with him, no-one is allowed to emigrate from the town. She really wants her sister and father rescuing. She will give us a map of the town, and thee is a lady in the town called Satinda Morn, she’s a brothel keeper, but she’s a friend of Cassandra, so a possible ally. There is a sense motive on her, she blushes and looks coy when she mentions Santinda’s name. She gives us a ring, tells us to thread a long stemmed flower through the ring and mention Cassandra’s name and she will help us. WE need to try and not get any Drevlev citizens hurt as this will make them less willing to be liberated.

So we go north around the top of the marsh to get to Drevlev. The keep is a stone construction home to baron and his allies and sod everyone else. There is only one tavern in the place. Bellweather’s Soup & Kettle in the east. Santina’s brothel is further west. There used to be a bigger inn, but it no longer functions. There’s a shrine – the Rat Shrine. There’s a smithy & stables. There is a temple of Erastil. A watchtower.

We send the armies home, we will be going alone. Lots of messages backwards and forwards as we prepare. We get a list of requests from people for what they want doing while we are over there. We get reports on Drevlev. Baron is probably cheating on his wife.

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Pharast 4714

14th Pharast

Towards the end of the fourth day after leaving Varnhold you reach area which the adventures went missing.
It takes one day to explore the area and find the dead adventures.

​The Little Sellen River narrows here as it passes through a gully between two rocky hillsides, flowing around an oblong island thick with vegetation. This island is only 15 feet wide and 75 feet long; the river narrows down to a width of 15 feet to either side of it. The cliff walls of the gully are 40 feet high and can be scaled

flytrap.jpg

Lurking amid the thick reeds, nettles, and blackberries that grow on the island is a single giant flytrap. The man-eating plant moves quickly to attack anything sizable that moves along the river; the confines of the surrounding gully allow the plant to snap and grab at targets on either side of the island, including those that cling to the cliff walls within 10 feet of the river surface.

Afterwards

Greetings, my liege lords! Would that I had the opportunity to contact you via missive in gentler times. Since its founding, Tatzlford has faced many challenges, but recent rumors of a much more disturbing sort abound. A woman has come to Tatzlford bearing warnings that, if they are to be believed, indicate we may face a terrible threat. She speaks of armies of bandits, hordes of barbarians, and worse organizing to the west beyond Hooktongue Slough. To date we have had no trouble with these elements, but this woman is quite convincing. She tells us an army is marching on Tatzlford. If this is true, we will need your aid in defending our homes. Please come as soon as you can.
—In good faith, your obedient and humble servant, Mayor Loy Rezbin

17th Calistril 4714 – Arrive in Tatzlford

They immediately gain the attention of everyone in town. Captain Coren Lawry,
commander of the Tatzlford guard.

Taken to Loy Rezbin and Latricia Evanore who have the young lady Kisandra Numesti with them.

Tripartite Quest: Kisandra’s Plea

This three-part quest involves two rescues and the defeat of a local tyrant.
Source: Kisandra Numesti.
Task: Kisandra asks the PCs to rescue her father Terrion from the dungeons below Drelev Keep and her sister Tamary from the Tiger Lord barbarians, and also to remove Baron Drelev from power and seize control of the city of Fort Drelev, thus liberating its citizens from the baron’s despotic rule.

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19th Rova 4713
GM record

Day of the Inheritor – not a national holdiay in Haven, but a celebration of Iomedae

Two days travel to Ghost stone.

Zzamas.jpg

​A strange, gray stone monolith, its sides polished and smooth, stands at the western end of a valley here.

Zzamas, the phase spider speaks very few words of Common and knows that most humanoids find her shape unsettling. As the scouts entered her land and attacked her due to her unsettling shape, she catured some and sent the others off – help her and she would release the captives.
Zzamas explains that several xills have forced her from her home, and she wants the PCs’ help to kill them. She promises a “fancy chest with stuff inside,” as payment for their help.​

MonstersT-Z.Xill.jpg
The stone is known by locals as the Ghost Stone, for at night, the air surrounding the stone within a 120-foot radius glows with a soft radiance, and strange, ghostly shapes of unnatural shape and posture flit and writhe through the air. The Ghost Stone itself is a spire-like structure with a dull point that stands 15 feet high.
An ancient elven relic, abandoned and forgotten.

Arrive back with the rescued explorers

22nd Rova – Linnorms Grave
23rd Rova – spot Wyvern heading to hunt the Centaurs, and A giant eagle flying home into the mountain areas.

Rumors and legends of a silver dragon named Amvarean are obviously out of date — the black dragon Ilthuliak slew the younger silver dragon many years ago and stole her treasure.
Giant Eagles to send representive on the 17th Kuthona 4713 (full moon)

Empty Dragon Lair, 25th Rova 4713

​Deep in the trackless reaches of the Tors of Levenies lies a large cave entrance. Within, a 50-foot-wide tunnel stretches 300 feet into the mountain before opening into a large, vaulted chamber 140 feet in diameter. Yet more impressive are the dry bones of an adult silver dragon that lie sprawled in the center of the cavern. ​

The dragon’s remains are not completely intact — the bones along the right arm and wing are strangely incomplete, as if they had been melted away by a powerful acid. No sign of the dragon’s skull remains at all — or of the dragon’s treasure. A a healthy scattering of silver and black dragon scales were found which the explorers had not seen them.

28th Rova 4713 – Returned to Varnhold.

29th Rova 4713 – ​The Disappearers

Blackstones Ford is now home to a band of cautious and cunning monsters who work together to lightly harvest vulnerable travelers — those too few to defend themselves or raise an alarm, or who can be lured away from their party — while avoiding pitched battles against strong, ready foes.

This “adventuring band” of eight monsters hails from a distant underground area. Looking at the mancles that were found with them, they were of a darklands design.

From the journals that were found, The Disappearers are group of escapees who were expermiments of a mad wizard. This group is now led by Iluith, a dark naga of malicious schemes and coldly clear-headed patience and foresight, who calculates consequences and risks, and clings to his “considered outcomes.” He never acts out of anger or to obtain revenge, only to exact whatever take in victims and booty can be managed with minimal riskof loss to the band (or chance of triggering a successful hunt for retaliation).
Dreeth, a cloaker was the aerial spy and “pouncer” of the band. Though Dreeth’s demeanor can best be described as permanently peevish and pessimistic, the drow spells quelled its paranoia and made it willing to work as part of a team, even eager to trust and bestow loyalty on Iluith.

Kaladryn is the band member considered next most useful by Iluith, largely because of his nigh-fanatical loyalty to the dark naga (his only friend during their long mutual captivity). Originally a svirfneblin, Kaladryn was transformed by the drow spells and fused with mindless, subterranean snake bodies into the likeness of a marilith. Kaladryn capably wields an array of deadly weapons acquired from victims of the Disappearers and is fully proficient in uses of his marilith body (constriction, tail slap, and slams), but he lacks most of the normal demonic abilities and spell-like powers.
The least useful Disappearer is Oront, a cyclops employed in battle or to overthrow and immobilize wagons and carts during attacks. Oront is far less brutish and stupid than he seems; he has a cruel sense of humor and a long, keen memory for smells, names, and faces.
The other four group members are its busy, oft-deployed “swarmers” and spies: a pair of chokers and a mated pair of tengus (Arainth and Rareezra). The tengus resent Iluith’s controlling influence and often play pranks, but they are so ruled by their pride that Iluith can easily sway them with flattery and rewards.​

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9th April session

We arrest the tanner who survived the Varnhold massacre. We interrogate him. He points the finger at some of the guards, who are also arrested and interrogated.

Note: River Kingdoms have very few laws, but major things are: what you take you keep, river freedom everyone has right of passage. They can’t tax you or bar you way but they can rob you. So we will need to heavily guard our boats.

We’re heading out to try to free our kidnapped rangers at Ghost Stone. In the hills between two lots of mountains. Directions take us to a place close to Ghost Stone, it’s very unnatural around there, we see a big spiderlike creature. Amina recognises it as a Phase Spider. They can phase between planes and have a poisonous bite. It asks us if we are going to help it. Says it was attacked but not killed and says some words we don;t recognise, Cade casts a spell to speak her language. Humanoids came to area and attacked her, she didn’t want to kill them, so she had to make ‘a resolution’. If we help her, she won;t punish them. She lives by a monolith, it’s good there, group of creatures from ethereal plane have come and taken over her homeland, they’re red, have 4 arms, they are chitinous. Medium sized, spiny, bright red, part human/reptile/insect, fanged mandibles and a scaly hide – probably The Xill. Known for implanting their eggs in helpless creatures that then hatch and consume host from within. Probably evil.

Rena says he assumes she will want to stay here afterwards, he asks that she shows similar restraint on any sentient creatures in future when she’s hunting, and we’ll tell our people to leave her in peace.

We can see the Ghost Stone from a way away, so we stop to buff up. We can see the Xill, they are wielding 2 swords and a shield, they are definitely intoxicated, behaving like they’re drunk, aggressive. This place is known to the locals, air around it 120 ft radius glows with soft radiance at night and soft shapes fit around in the light. It’s not an elf circle itself, almost like a foundation of a portal but not to the material plane, maybe another plane? Looks like it was part of something. No longer complete. Doesn’t appear weathered, stone is still smooth. The circle looks like it used to be a wall but it has crumbled away. We fight and prevail. It’s an ancient elven relic, was a portal to the ethereal. It exists in both planes, which is unusual. She’s given us a chest and freed the prisoners (who look a bit sheepish). Chest is a material component for a spell called Secret Chest. It’s clearly a humanoid wizard’s spell chest, over a century old. If it was a human, it’s probably dead. Notes in spell book are written in common.

We take our rangers home, exploring the area as we go. We go to look at the Silver Dragon lair, and they explore the rest. We see a wyvern out over the nomen lands, it lands and we don’t see it rise back up. We go over to Linnorm’s grave, see mastodons about, and a wyvern overhead, plus a giant eagle (it’s staying away from the wyvern’s territory). Giant eagles are loyal creatures if you make friends with them, supernaturally intelligent, protective of their mountain territory. We know they usually speak Auran. Tend to be neutral good. We look for an eagle to try and make friends with one. We also look for a wyvern to kill, as a good intro to the eagles. Heading up into the mountains, the eagles look to be close to the dragon lair. We see a wyvern and attempt to draw its attention so we can fight it. We shoot it down and it flies into a gully, so we have to go fetch it. There is an eagle watching us. So we put our weapons away. About 400 foot away from us. Rena walks towards it, the eagle watches as he approaches. It agrees to talk but is very wary. It says the wyverns have become more prevalent since the silver dragon died. Rena asks when that was and how it died. Silver dragon was called Amvarion, black dragon killed it many years ago and stole all her treasure (this was a couple of decades ago). The black dragon stayed around here but got bored and went away. Last seen about 6 years ago. Black dragon was called Ilthuliak. They say some of their kind in other areas have alliances with people like us. Rena introduces us all to the eagle (and mentions our gods where he thinks it will help). They will work for the best protection of the mountains, but they will need to be assured that we will respond if any of our people start to cause problems. Tehy say they don’t patrol the area near the Crooked River in the mountain, because it’s the territory of a mated pair of Roks. Near the human tower on the other side of the peaks to that, there is a set of vicious humanoid creatures near the Red Kiravoy river (he doesn’t mean the ettercaps), caves which go deep underground, group of monstrous creatures that prey on the ford there, they eagles can;t deal with them. They’re not allied with the Roks, but not a problem to them either. Rena asks if any creatures they are aware of that would be willing to help us. He will ask. He asks if we have a festival in deepest winter, does it fall upon a moon phase? Long Night is the first full moon in January, or they could come to the wedding at the ancient sycamore tree in December. They will come on the full Moon in December, 17th basically, so we’ll call that the date of the wedding. The Roks are not something we could make an alliance with, they’re just big birds. There are some owls in the Narlmarches, thinks their numbers would have been thinned out by the black dragon and probably the forest drake as well (which is no longer a problem, aha).

We take our leave and head for the silver dragon’s lair. Rena is considering buying a scroll of Resurrection to raise the silver dragon! It’s a big cave, with a 50ft wide tunnel that opens into a large vaulted chamber. Dried bones of a dragon in the centre of the cavern, not completely intact, bones along right arm and wing are melted, skull is missing. Under the dust and debris of several decades are a healthy scattering of black and silver dragon scales. Rena casts detect magic. Nothing.

We head back to Varnhold to sell some stuff. We go looking for a scroll. We need a gem to cast the spell. The gem merchant in Varnhold agrees to go to Restov to try and buy us the gem we need. Rena checks with the ancestors to see if : can the silver dragon be rezzed – yes, will she accept the resurrection if offered – yes, is the black dragon that killed her still in the region – kind of, if she returns to her lair will it attract the attention of the black dragon – eventually, is the black dragon in mivon – no, is it in the first world – yes, does the black dragon serve the fey queen as she is known, she is a nymph and her name is Nerissa – Ilith Nukook is an alley of Nerissa (ie yes), is the black dragon’s hoard still in this world – no. So that’s all organised, and the explorers go out to do some exploring for us.

We are going up the Varnhold ford (Blackstone) where the creatures are waylaying people. When we get there, there is evidence of more victims since we were last here. Head up into mountains to follow where they appear to be going back to. Up ahead of us, we can see creatures ahead. Some of them have bows. Amina and Cade can tell they’re Tengu, bird creatures, intelligent, insular, secretive, petty thieves, compulsive liars – not nice people. Dishonorable. Looks like an ambush. suddenly some others appear – they are aberrations called Chokers, natural sneak attack, can strangle with their tentacles and can see very well in the dark. One of them manages to hit and grab Rena. We kills them. Now where did those Tengu go? Ah, there they are. They appear and attack Amina. We kill them. These creatures do not fit the tracks we have been following.

We come across more things, some of us spot them, some don’t. One of them is a Cloaker, darkvision, shadow shift, can cause fear and nausea, it can fly, can engulf medium creatures or smaller, can disguise as cloak, sheet, manta ray. Kaladryn,, snake tail wielding 6 swords, longswords, Iluuth spell casting, Oront cyclops. They’d all been horribly experimented on bt some drow mage.

We win, and get da fat loots. Camp for the night, restful night. And then we go off to deal with the ettercaps. Lair is very close to river, little stream. Cave, no light source, so Rena casts daylight. We come across them fairly quickly. Place is heavily trapped but Aria is on the look out for them. Rena summons an earth elemental and sends it off to find and crush ettercaps. We wipe out the lot. Place looks like about 10 years ago it was probably a hideout for bandits, before we all came along and sorted out the bandits. Lots of rock fall,s probably caused by traps. Lots of traps of all kinds. It IS a good hideout despite the rock falls. They’ve been nicking food, about a month old, some of it is still edible. Signs of one victim of a trap. In the room with the fire, one of the boxes has a blue glow, there’s a dead dwarf in there, hand is clutching a glowing black metal war hammer. Adamantite with light spell on it. Also some coins.

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Find clues about the missing people
GM Log 13th Sarenith 4713

Having rest for two days with a feeling of being protected, the group are suddenly aware that they are being watched.

​This chamber’s walls are composed of burial alcoves. All are empty save for small stone shelf ledges holding assorted bits of pottery.​

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The walls of this chamber are covered in lime plaster and bear a series of frescoes whose colors are still vibrant. This artwork depicts one-eyed humanoids rendered in the same sway-backed style.​

​The frescoes are all in the ancient cyclops style and show scenes relevant to Vordakai’s life millennia ago. They provide glimpses into the ancient cyclops culture (ancient Iobaria’s culture).​

​Quest: Forgotten History – A description or copy of these frescos can serve to satisfy Tamerak Elenark’s request for information about ancient Iobaria’s culture.​

After Amina breaks down the secret door behind is a room:

​This chamber is empty. Its walls bear eye-shaped patterns and carvings, all of which seem to be looking at a point on the east wall where a single carving of a giant, stylized eye looms. The eye’s pupil is an intricately engraved relief roughly the size of the palm of a hand.​

​The eye carving to the east radiates strong conjuration and divination magic.​

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Cephal Lorentus – ​Varnhold’s wizard, birdkeeper, and master of dispatch. ​

After defeating Cephal using air elementals to help with noxious fumes, they travel to the “feasthall”

​*Feasthall*
This door opens onto a short dais looking out over a large chamber. Thick pillars ascend to a twenty-foot-high ceiling, while a wide stone staircase climbs to a darkened gallery above. The true purpose of the chamber is apparent from the great stone table running across its center. Dozens of seats have been set about this massive affair and propped upon them is a feast of horror. Each chair holds the corpse of a human locked in its death throes, its mouth agape in anguish, the top of its cranium brutally removed, and the brains within excised.​

The body seated at the head of the table is that of Maegar Varn himself.
Also present is a corpse wearing the trappings of a priest of the faith of Erastil — Maegar’s longtime companion, the cleric Caspar Morgarion.

​*Secondary Crypts*

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This crypt stretches into darkness. The floor of this crypt is strewn with rubble and the filth of opened graves. Sprawled on the floor is a fairly fresh corpse of a middle-aged Ulfen man, no more than a week or two old at the most.​

​Heading up the stairs in the Feasthall

This balcony has no rail — it overlooks the room below.

​Oculus Chamber
This octagonal chamber, which vaults to a twenty-foot-high ceiling, is composed of multiple slabs of opaque, white crystal fitted together to form a dome in the distinctive shape of an inverted eye, its gaze focused into the room below. This white crystal gleams with a subdued moonlike glow. The walls of the chamber are covered with arcane symbols, stylized line art, and images of cyclopes. A twenty-foot-diameter circle is incised into the stone of the floor directly beneath the great eye-shaped dome.​

​A burbling fountain and pool that stink of sulfur occupy the center of this chamber. A shallow channel cut into the stone of the floor passes beneath a pair of bronze double doors, funneling the foul-smelling water out of the pool to the east.​

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​This chamber stretches forward into darkness. A channel of sulfurous water runs down the center of the chamber into a placid pool tinged in red and surrounded by kneeling forms. Nearby sits a small stone shrine decorated with several freshly severed human heads. Just beyond this grisly altar, a hideous throne made of bones looms above the pool.​

This is Vordakai’s throne room—the chamber wherein he slept for countless ages and where he now toils on new plans of destruction at the behest of visions granted by the Four Horsemen. The stairwell once led to the top of the cairn but is now collapsed and useless.

Their bodies are the forms huddled around the central pool, eviscerated such that their entrails are laid out in intricate patterns sacred to Vordakai’s daemonic overlords.​

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2nd April session

Still in the temple. Hiding. We keep hearing “Vordecai”, an conversations in Cyclopian. We are being watched. We’re off to try and get out! In the temple, the lamps have been refilled and there is fresh blood in the chalice. We head for the doors we haven’t been through yet. We listen before we open them, but can’t hear anything. There’s a corridor ahead of us, we listen, and there’s a grim smell ahead. We reach a door. We open it. It’s a large chamber. There are 2 creatures in here, we think they are Soul Eaters. Worst of daemonic magic, can bind and devour souls. Serve daemonic lords, give up a portion of souls they consume to their master. Energy drains. Damage reduction but magic bypasses. We win. Move on to door in south. Into corridor with frescoes of cyclops. Lots of history, culture. Small room, more paintings. Big cyclops in next room. There’s a bench with vessels. There’s something behind the statue. There is a secret door. It’s locked. Amina breaks it down. In the next chamber there are eyes carved on the wall. There’s a big one on the east wall and all the others appear to be looking towards it. It’s got strong conjuration and divination magic on it. Cade tries to work out what it does. It’s not a magic item in itself, but it is linked to a magic item.

We try to work out how to activate it and what happens when we do. There are a list of questions we need to ask. Cade casts a spell to see if anyone has used it in the last 10 hours. Rena asks the ancestors. Not a portal to another plane. Focus that will allow something similar to teleportation circle. Is it activated by putting an item where the pupil is. Are we carrying the item? No. Have we seen the item? No, but we have seen a representation of it. Does it lead to where people of Varnhold are held? It’s one of the routes, yes. Does it lead to where Vordecai is? Yes. Is Vordecai person scrying on us. Yes. Is there another way to get there? Yes.

Amina goes down to the tar pit and looks across, she can see a door, and something vaguley familiar standing in front of it. It looks like a zombie, of Cephal Lorentus, the wizard/birdkeeper. We realise this probably means the Vrnhold folk are all zombies.

Rena summons 2 medium air elementals. Rena goes in with it to see if it will help him breath. Within 5 foot of it you can breathe ok. A combination of a telekinesis blanket, some levitates, and a fly, we attempt to cross the tar pit. We get over there. We start hitting the zombie. We kill him. We open the door. We drag his body with us. It’s still a bit smelly in here, but not too bad. Air elementals create a whirlwind to blow away the fumes. Cephal still recognisably him, with lots of bits including a masterworked dagger, spell component pouch, spellbook, magic bottle (Bilous Bottle). The air elementals go ahead and clear the air, don;t find anything ahead of us on the stairs which go upwards.

WE come to 2 doors. West is a corridor, east is a room with a dread zombie cyclops in. Guess which way we’re going? We open the door again and there are 4 of them. We fight mostly in the doorway, but kill them all. We move into the room. 20ft high ceiling, stone staircase to gallery above. Stone table in centre, dozens of seats, chairs each hold a human corpse (33), brains removed from top of head. Amina recognises some of the 33 people, including Maeghar Varn at the head of the table. Also Casper Morrigan the cleric, his travelling companion. Still 2 companions missing. People around table seem to be the more influential/knowledgeable people of Varnhold. Howitt Gurney & Willis Gunderson are not here. We go into the other room on the other side of the corridor while we still have Rena’s lion with us, there’s a corpse on the floor, middle aged man, this looks like Willis Gunderson. He’s probably been dead since just after they disappeared, the others were more recently dead. In each of the crypts, there are townsfolk. They’re cowering from the light. Floating above the corpse is a Troubled Soul. Looks like vaguely like WIllis Gunderson, its a Spectre, they generally have no memory of life, they hate the living, they form from emotions on death, will fight till they are destroyed, powerless in sunlight, they drain energy, they are incorporeal. We kill it, but not without damage. There are 42 people from Varnhold still alive, plus some more corpses. We have to leave them behind. Rena casts Resoration on Amina to repair some of the damage she’s taken. The balcony has no rail, we look straight down to the floor below. Nothing exciting in the upstairs room. Bronze door to the east. Octagonal chamber, 20 ft ceiling, inverted eye made of white crystal, moonlight glow, art on walls, 20ft dia circle in floor below eye dome. Detect magic reveals there is magic here. Conjuration and divination magic, overwhelming aura – this is the other end of the teleport circle! Steps going slightly downwards. There is a burbling fountain and pool stinking of sulphur, water channel goes under double doors to the east. The water isn’t moving properly. There’s something in there! It’s a Greater Water Elemental. When it soaks you, it gets rid of your magic, and it’s very hard to damage.

Into abnother chamber with a pool and a shrine with altar decorated with severed heads. There’s a familair looking raven. And Vordecai, a cyclops lich, but wasted a bit as if he’s lost power to what he was….

Wow, he was scary, but we beat him down. We find a round chamber, containing dozens of jars with a swirling light/smoke inside. They are ALL MAGICAL. There is also magical stuff on Vordecai. They are Soul Jars. Would be worth 5000gp each. We agree we should release the souls, after investigating whether we can use them to restore the people to life.

Vordecai’s eye was magical (its a minor artefact the Occulus of Abaddon, to destroy it – smashed by a bludgeoning holy weapon, wielded by permanently blinded humanoid or permanently blinded outsider), was carrying a soul jar (so that’s 43 total), lich phylactery which Amina punches into bits, there’s a treasure pile behind the throne, includes coins and stuff, a ring matching the Friend Shield one we already have, pouch holding 3 packets of dust of dryness, and a magical cold iron beastbane flail (belongs to centaurs). The occulus will fit in the slot to work the teleport. There’s also the bits of some spellbooks, which can be put together and sold.

wE DECIDE TO RELEASE THE SOULS ONE AT A TIME. None have gone mad, very confused, tell them one at a time what’s been happening. They’re very distraught. Looks as if only 87 people from the whole of Varnhold have survived. They’re all low level people. The soul jar that Vordecai had is Maestro Penrod, the scholar who they brought in to investigate the jade bracelet. We think it was Willis who caused all of this (the Spectre).

Quite a few of the Varnholders pledge loyalty to us. Rena replies that Maeghar Varn’s daughter is still alive, we need to get people out of here before we start worrying about this sort of thing. The people downstairs are terrified when we come down with the light. But they are reassured when the released souls arrive.

We get everyone across the tar pit, and then ask the blind person to destroy it with Rosa’s cane with Holy cast on it. We destroy it. Rena casts Purify Body on the blind guy. He’s no longer blind and his arthritis is fixed.

We get back to the centaurs, the horses are ok. We bring the bodies of the Varnholders back with us. We settle in the centaur graveyard. We send an animal messenger to centaurs saying Vordecai is dead, rescued a LOT of people from Varnhold including the person you were concerned about , would appreciate you coming to help transport them safely home. Message comes back that someone should be here within 2 days to escort us.

We stay overnight and then set off walking to meet them part way. And send a message back to Varnhold that we have killed the murderer of her father, retrieved bodies and returning with 84 of his people, and troops should make town ready for the return of its people.

Rena is doing blood spells to work out when people died to see who we might be able to bring back. They were all killed by a death effect and thus cannot be raised.

We get a message from Varnhold, lots of news, if you’re coming this way we will tell you, please get to Varnhold when you can. Group of centaurs come, they are uncomfortable around humans but understand that we have dealt with an ancient evil, and want to negotiate with us, they will come to the town with us. They go mammoth hunting near Linnom’s grave, Rena and Amina hunt with them, pick the weakest member of the herd. Lots of food!

We get back safely to Varnhold. Rena’s fiancee is waiting. The townsfolk go back to their homes, all their valuables have gone. Hogkeeper is missing. The Gnomish brewers survived, we give them their lockbox back. We return all the stuff that we found on the Spriggens. Fiancee offers to give up marriage but looks sad about it. Offers to be a vassal and run Varnhold. Rena says he would like to continue with the wedding and she bursts into tears of joy. We have no objections. Cade suggests it should be a large public wedding celebration.

Becomes a joint kingdom. In effect Haven gains 18 hexes.

Once the marriage issue is cleared up, the centaurs want to talk. They feel bad that they were supposed to set a guard over Vordecai, they have realised that now. We have done them a great service, and they wish to make a peace treaty with us. They would take it as a hostile act if anyone hunted, killed, skinned centaurs. Nomen Heights Varnhold had claimed, they want the Dunsward back for themselves. Rena suggests an alliance, not a peace treaty. All creatures within kingdom are subject to and protected by the law. Points out that if someone were to hunt a centaur, we would hunt and punish them as murderers, which covers every sentient living creature within our kingdom. Centaurs think the queen may be amenable to this. Rena says we will add shrines to Desna within Haven, we have work to do to undo the mistrust of millennia, but we have managed it with the fey, and we have taken action against any who have targetted the fey. We would be happy to see the centaurs roma haven freely. We find out a whole raft of issues from the Varnhold group that we left in charge.

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10th Sarenith 4713

Linnorm’s Grave

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The massive bones of a long-dead crag linnorm of incredible size lie upon a hilltop here; the bleached white ribs protrude up into the air like strange trees and the moss-draped skull provides nesting grounds for dozens of families of shrikes.

Isolated herds of mastodons graze in the hills and valleys of this area.

Valley of the Dead

​The entrance to this wide valley is marked by a series of posts decorated with bones and skulls every 50 to 60 feet—a wall of warnings erected by the Nomen that runs for the entire 6-mile opening to the valley. The Nomens call the lands beyond this valley “Olah-Kakanket” — the Valley of the Dead.

Beyond the warning wall of bone totems, the valley doesn’t seem much different than the surrounding foothills. Yet the further one travels toward the mountains, the more a strange feeling of oppression grows; the wind seems oddly muted as it f lows through the trees and grass, the birds and insects grow quiet

A mile past the bone totems, the first of the gravestones appears. These 6- to 10-foot-tall stone steles are badly weathered—many are partially or wholly collapsed, but each bears strange runes – these were identified by Cade as being written in Cyclops and listing ancient names.

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There are thousands of gravestones within the valley of the dead, but the cyclops bodies beneath them have long since decayed into soil—all that remains are fragments of bones.
At the farthest western point in the valley, where the ragged Tors of Levenies rise 300 feet above the surrounding foothills, a crack in the cliff wall allows a 15-foot-wide stone stairway to wind up into the mountains.

This area has two guardians – Dread Zombie Cyclops.
This path takes a circuitous route, winding back and forth over a length of 8 miles through the tors

Vordakai’s Island

At the end of the path they come to the Little Sellen River. There is a 100-foot-tall, naturally formed stack that rises from the center of a small lake.

The Little Sellen River’s average depth is 40 feet, but the black pool surrounding the island is much deeper. At its deepest point, the waters reach a depth of 120 feet.​ (​The Little Sellen River: The offshoot of the East Sellen river that branches further east at Mivon is known as the Little Sellen for its relatively narrow width; this river averages 90 feet across and 20 feet deep.​)

To the north, a jagged limestone cliff hems in the scene; a mighty waterfall rushes over the edge into a wide pool of black, frothing water. In the center of the black pool stands a massive, hundred-foot-tall limestone pillar of weathered stone—the last, lonely sentinel marking where the cliff’s edge once stood in an age long past. At various points on the island’s top, plumes of black smoke waft up into the sky.​

On the way to the shore there are a few signs of passage by at least three different creatures over the past several weeks. The oldest set appears to be a few human footprints. The next oldest appears to be a two larger set of humanoid footprints. The most recent, perhaps only a few days old, are of what appears to be an unshod horse.

The tracks are too old to establish where the creatures were going or to follow.​

As they approach the central island in the water approach the central island, the wyverns are swift to notice and swoop down to attack. The entire structure radiates faint transmutation magic.

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Having killed the wyverns that attacked ( one did try to fly off with Cade). Travelled across the river to the cliff, where they climb up to the cave. A naturally eroded declivity widens at the
bottom into a sheltered cave chamber here.

Collected within the hollow are the wyvern’s treasures. These include a tattered backpack holding a complete set of Ustalavic silverware worth 75 gp, a pouch holding 37 gp among other odds and ends, an old Frost resizing greatsword stamped with the Issian coat-of-arms, and a messenger’s parcel containing 5 green spinels worth 100 gp each.​

Heading back to the island in the centre,

​A natural cleft in the side of the tower of stone creates a sort of overlook here. The far wall contains a single stone door.​ It’s a 60-foot drop from here to the surface of the river, and the cleft in the rock itself is 10 feet high. The door in the back of the cleft is obscured by a curtain of vines.

​At the foot of the cliff, where the beach meets the limestone scarp, a dark opening in the stone beckons, partially obscured by creepers and dangling foliage.​

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Inhabiting this pool for many years, living off the abundantly available eels, is a fabulously rare species of river elasmosaurus—more (and larger) versions of these creatures dwell in the lakes of the Stolen Lands, and they are responsible for the rumors of sea monsters in areas like Lake Silverstep, the Tuskwater, and Lake Hooktongue. The dinosaur is ferociously territorial, immediately attacking anyone who enters the water and pursuing foes onto land for short distances if needed.

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​The construction of this chamber differs from those seen previously. The ceiling reaches to a height of twenty feet overhead and appears to bear many fractures in the rock. In the center of the chamber, two columns of mortared stone support a ceiling of strange, delicate arches of stone.​

As soon as any living creature enters this room, a dreadful summoned guardian appears in a burst of foul-smelling damp mist.

This monstrosity is a piscodaemon — a neutral evil fiend from the swamps of Abaddon. Appearing as a hideous cross between lobster, octopus, and man, the piscodaemon speaks telepathically to the intruders, demanding to know in whose name they dare intrude upon the inner sanctum of the Horseman of Death.

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26th March session

Setting off from outskirts of centaur village, to look into the mysterious Vordecai.

We’ve been told roughly where to head, we’ve requested an army to come down to Varnhold to keep it safe while it’s empty. Sorcerors coming from Firsthold (Oleg’s), and Rangers coming from Peacehold. Should take the Sorcerors 8-9 days to get down there, Rangers will take about 2 weeks.

We head off to the Valley of the Dead to look for the missing young centaur woman. We can see mountains ahead of us. Pass a notable landmark, Lenorm’s Grave, a cragmennon’s bones, huge, protruding bright white bones almost like trees, skull covered in moss, creatures living in and around it. Shrikes (birds of prey). Also see at a distance, we hear/see a herd of large creatures (mastodons). Go look at grave. There are made altars with gifts of meat and wine on them. Offerings in wine jugs are centaur origin, presented in a way that suggest propitiatory/appeasement. Hmmm, the centaurs think there is a powerful spirit here that they need to placate. Skeleton is of a type of evil and aggressive dragon type creature and an especially large one. Would have caused a lot of problems in the area when ti was alive. Nomen centaurs only came back here around the time of founding of Brevoy. There is nothing magical here, and no undead. Some of the food left looked like it was mastodon!

We avoid the herds for safety (for now) but Rena is keen to get them for the cavalry!

Day is otherwise uneventful.

No signs of civilisation, just the odd camp occasionally. It’s almost devoid of hostile creatures. Now into mountain territory. Heading into Valley of Dead, marked by posts decorated with skulls at regular intervals, 6 mile wide valley entrance so pretty obvious. We pass through that wall of totems. No magic on them. Strange feeling as if we’re being watched, oppression, even the wind seems oddly muted, very little sound from birds etc, and once we’re inside there’s virtually no sound at all. About a mile past the totems we start to see 6-10 foot tall gravestones, very badly weathered, some have collapsed, strange runes, some faded beyond recognition, some covered in lichen, no idea what language this is, very ancient. Looks like a language of the giants, possibly cyclops. Thousands of these things. In the far west of the valley, we see a sudden rise into foothills, and a path that leads there, to crack in cliff wall, stone stairway but very weathered. Where the gap into the cliff face, shadows at edge, 2 large creatures appear, Amina recognises them as cyclops. They can’t half hit!!!! We kill them but it was painful for Amina! Thank goodness for everyone else or she’d be toast.

Very long winding route, a mile along it already and no sign of it ending.

River cascading over side of mountain into tarn, island in middle, strange marker on it, tomb marker. Cade can only read the large writing on it, words corrupted, “something empire”….Detect magic from a distance, but we’re feeling magic radiating from the tomb. Is transformation magic. The river is the Little Sellen river, which would lead us back into our kingdom. Plumes of black smoke coming from top of island. Aware that guy who was interested in history was very keen on info on this period of time, Cyclops Empire was civilisation from Age of Legends, so prior to Thassalonian Empire (i.e. ancient history). It declined as humans came to exist in this area. Cassomaran continent (next door) has much more known/surviving from the Empire there , they were known as Coleran.

Have to leave horses here if we’re going onto the island. Walk down towards water, muddy waters edge, tracks here, no animal tracks, but 4 different creatures, oldest set are human from about a month ago, then 2 sets of larger humanoid footprints, then most recent maybe 4 or 5 days ago an unshod horse. Going to and from waters edge.

We unfold our folding boat. Water is very deep around island, looks black. Top of waterfall bluff looks like it’s same stone as top of island so they were probably joined by have crumbled. There is animal life on the waterfall side, but not on the island. Cade looks and thinks there may even be caves up there.

Wyverns as we try to cross. We go back to shore and fight them. Now we’re in the cave and find their stash.

Decide to go back to the island tonight, as the Ancestors don’t give any ideas that waiting will be helpful. Cade spots a hidden door 60 foot up, so he flies us up to that. 10 ft wide door leads to 10 ft wide corridor. Made for large people. Door not locked. Passage stinks of sulphur and tar. At the end of the passage there appears to be a blank wall, but the perceptive amongst us spot the secret door. Smell is getting worse. There’s a poison gas near that door. Rena tries to remove the poison from Cade, Aria and Rosa, but it only works on Rosa. They go back, Amina goes ahead, finds a bloody great tar pit. They turn back and go back to the beach. They go up the corridor (having found same footprints on beach) and find a broken amphora with runes on spilling contents on ground part way up. Symbols on archways are warding or alarm spell, but power has been expelled. Tracks of human go to amphora and retreat back to beach, the 2 large go outward only. Hoofprints only go inward. Rena’s theory – someone came here and stole a jade bracelet from the amphora, which then somehow ended up in the river and was found in Varnhold, and all the trouble started after that. We look at the rubble. We can see what’s happened – at top where rubble is there was space in the walls for 2 large creatures entombed, they broke out fairly recently (probably a month ago). Could easily have been those 2 cyclops. Chances it was Willis from Varnhold who came and broke the amphora and then lied about where he found the jade bracelet? We hoover up the loot from the amphora, Aria spots there is another jade bracelet – matches description of the item in Varnhold. Decorative engraving. It belongs on a finger, not a wrist! It is not magical. Some very ancient coins and stuff, about 200gp value. We move on. We get into a chamber, and oh heck, 2 more zombie cyclops. They’re motionless until we walk in, then they attack. We beat them. There is something ahead of us…a secret door. The alcoves are the same for the zombies this time. They were entombed alive, but didn’t struggle. There is the mark on the floor of where an unshod horse lay here and bled. So we try to open the secret door. We put the giant axes in The Bag. On the other side of door is big room, 30ft ceiling with stalactites, and a big pool with only a rocky ledge round the edges. There are stairs in the water to the north. Water looks pretty deep, movement in water but murky and dark so hard to see. Put some meat on the end of a rope and chuck it in the water. Brief tug, rope goes slack, meat has gone and a bit of rope. Rena uses mage hand to dangle another bit of meat on the surface. The beastie comes up, sees us and heads towards us. iTs a dinosaur-y thing with big teefs. Its an elasmosaurus. Stories about creatures in lakes (e.g. Tuskwater) bigger versions of this sort of thing there, mostly feed on eels etc, they’re very territorial. Its amphibious. We kill it. Amina investigates the stairs. Seems to lead north, goes about 140 foot, then it comes up. In a chamber, oddly shaped, steps down to bronzed double doors. Lots of pottery in the room stacked on shelves, all ancient designs. Go back and tell them what I’ve seen. The passageway on theother side fo the pond goes down to the river. So the underwater passe seems to be the way forward. Cade spots something shiny in the bottom of the pool. Its a tarnished belt pouch, silver raven figurine in it, and attached to the skeletal hand holding the belt pouch is a platinum and ruby ring (magical). Cade attempts to assess the ring. Ring means you are unimpeded by magic or movement restrictions. Amina takes it. We all swim along the passageway to the next chamber.

Pottery has lots of scenes of cyclops doing stuff, sometimes fighting with centaurs. We leave them for now and head for the double doors. They are stuck from the damp. However they’ve been moved in the not too distant doors. We push them open. A 10 ft high hallway ahead, 2 man sized statues depicting 1 eye humanoids in alcoves, and more of them in the room ahead. Signs of water damage in here, and like there’s a portcullis comes down. Aria can’t find a mechanism to set it off, but can see holes in ceiling where water comes in. We move up, Aria still can’t see anything, some of the statues have clearly been looted, armour or weapons missing. At the end of the room, there is a secret door that requires strength to push open, but that will trigger the trap. She thinks she might be able to disable it. Over 10k years ago this was the active empire. Aria disables the trap. We open the secret doors and the cyclops behind them start to move. we fight them.

We move up to the secret door at the end and push it carefully to open it. There are steps up. Double doors, north side of room, patterned tiles , pillars with leering fiends, painting of animals headed towards double shrines. All 3 altars have oil lamps on them, cup with dried blood less than a week, probably couple of days. Religion is to arch demon known as Charron one of horsemen of death, very obscure and ancient setup, magical keys to seal doorway. Aria stops us touching door. Searches around to find out how to disable trap on door. Aria thinks the 2 lamps and the cup with blood in it has something to do with the ritual to disarm the trap magically. She MIGHT be able to disable it manually. She does. Phew. Through the door we find an unfinished room, more bronze double doors and a passageway leading onwards. Stairs. Unfinished, they go nowhere. We check for secret doors. Nope. Next room along different, high ceilings, fractures in rock, ceiling is strange delicate arches, damp and foul smelling mist appears with something in it, lobster/octopus/man being, voice in our heads, “who dares disturb the inner sanctum of the horsemen of death”? Rena gives his name and says hes here to free the people of Varnhold.
Amina knows this is Piskodemon, evil being from swamps of Abaddon. It attacks. It is resistant to many types to energy damage. It has damage reduction 10/good. So good bypasses dr.

It casts a spell and raises a stinky cloud. Nauseates some of us. It beats the crap out of us and teleports Cade and Amina away. They turn up next to the centaur. Its a long and painful fight. Cade and Amina both reach point of death from poison, but stasis holds them at death’s door. Everyone holes up in the dead end room with the unfinished stairs for the night, Rena revives them with spells next day. They hear a cyclops go past and discover that the centaur has escpaed.

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