Off to explore D2 and hopefully run into the bandit/general woman who is Irrivetti’s enemy (although we doubt we will like her as apparently her objection to him is that he has taken control of all crime in Pitax, and she prefers her crime free range).
Hill giants are known as Tuskers. Chieftain is Cobmolek, ruled for many years, strangely handsome for a hill giant, he is responsible for all the destruction caused by his tribe. Hillstomper thinks they are probably south from him, in the hills.
We skirt round the edge of the mountain range, don’t run into anything problematic. To the south of this is hills. Towards evening, after made camp, there’s a disturbance before bedtime. Something coming towards camp. Smell of blood wafting towards us. Unpleasant smell on top of that. Probably human stumbling towards us. Male human stops just away from camp, very pale, blood and filthy bandages. Putrid smell and another odd smell, that is familiar from wounded soldiers, smell of approaching death. Fingers broken, nails removed, tortured, missing an eye, has been burned. Has been prisoner in Pitax for some time. Says hes escaped, left for dead because of wounds, but learned something that he needs to pass on. Rena casts Heal. He looks much better all of a sudden. He’d got intestinal wounds as well, but all this is now fixed. It’s surprising he survived this long.
He says he is a loyal servant of the kingdom, captured while spying. He has overheard that there is a plot to develop a poisonous weapon that will attack a large number of people. He managed to relay a message back to Madame, and she told him roughly where we were. Place called White Rose Abbey, it’s rumoured that the people working on this weapon are there. In close foothills to Thousand Voices Woods, so to southern side of mountains. (Roughly hex D4). We thank him. We tell him we see him home, Rosa will take him.
Rena sends separate report to Gorner about this spy of hers, she tells him that those injuries are designed to cause a long, lingering, agonising death. Also, White Rose Abbey – there is an elf [name] druid who says there is an area in that location where something is killing the vegetation on a hill near White Rose Hill. We find out some history about the Abbey. It’s not good. Possibly creatures from beyond the stars (with tentacles and stuff). Apparently there was also a benevolent water spirit under the abbey. Don;t know what happened to her. No further issues. We move on. Nothing during the day. In the evening, while we’re looking for somewhere to camp, we see a dead mammoth with multiple quills sticking in it, and damaged by fire (bigger than porcupine quills). There is a type of dragon which uses poisonous quills and fire breath, it’s called a peldua. Long necked lashing tail, back covered in quills, steamy breath, they generally found in pairs or very small group, hatred of anything weaker/smaller than themselves – they are large – very short tempered. Tails are most vulnerable bit of them. Any attack that is not an attempt to sever the tail, sunder combat manoeuvre with slashing weapon, enough damage in single blow to reduce tail to zero. There are signs of at least 2 of these creatures. Not flying. We track them towards their den. We beat them. Their hoard is mostly pretty things, mostly large piles of coins, some gems (no diamonds), masterwork dark wood lute, it’s very heavy this lot! Then we pitch camp for the night. Uneventful.
We move on to White Rose Abbey. It’s a bit wild now, but not quite as wild as it should be. Lots of vegetation on hill, overgrown trail that used to be the road. Stone wall around the edge. Once you get inside the wall, the air is thick and humid like a greenhouse, the vegetation moves without breeze, plants are excessive in size to what they should be. Any vermin we see are Rodents of Unusual Size. Pale yellow light from fireflies the size of apples. Definitely magical influence. eerie atmosphere. Boundary between the world and the first world is very thin here. 3 partially collapsed buildings near the outer wall. Probably a wayhouse for visitors, stable, wagon house. The white roses are a rare type of rose, typically used in flower arrangements for funerals or to mark sorrow. Rena takes a cutting. Eventually we get to another set of buildings as we walk around the wall. Also ruins. Looks like this was the winery. Entry into hillside here. The buildings are really rickety and risk collapse. We look into the cave. Very straight man made tunnel straight into hillside.We walk in. Weeds peter out quite quickly. Lots of alcoves in these tunnels, end in dead ends. Quite cool in there. Some of them still have tools and wine etc still in them. Rena casts purify on some wine and tastes it – it’s very very good. Barrels marked with White Rose symbol and another one for an organisation called the Star Stone Brewers. Part of Cayden Cailean, brewers across the nation, anyone can join, they teach how to make good beer and wine, and they can be useful in problem solving. Main function is helping find homes for orphans. Not above breaking the law to help rescue orphaned children. No mercy to those who take advantage of orphan children. Tunnel about 900ft ends in high cavern with crescent shaped pool, island in middle, covered in green mould and fungus. On ceiling are half dozen pin points of light that keep moving.
That fungus is being manipulated, not normal, but doesn’t seem to be an ooze or similar.
Light on ceiling are enhanced beyond normal will o the wisps. We move in to fight them.
A manifested ghost appears. Male halfling, looks to be monk and sorcerer. This is the gardener. He’s nasty. We dispose of him and the wow’s. We need to work out how to get rid of the ghost permanently. We look around for clues. The water in the cistern is very glowy blue. The water is somehow enhanced but we’re not sure how. One of the casks scattered around cistern has a secret hidden door in it. Aria checks it for traps and opens it. Inside it is a halfling sized hideaway. In there is a small bed of furs, a rod which he was wielding in his ghostly form, and a beautiful and intricate water clock. Rod is magical. It’s a metamagic rod of lesser quickening. Rena casts Ancestral memory. This water has special properties in making stuff e..g. fab wine, stronger potions. Neriads are water creatures, they have shawl with a portion of their life force in it, if you destroy it, they will take con damage till they die. The water clock seems to date from about the time when the gardener went mad. We look at it to try and drain some of the water out of it. Two auras in the water, one from the cistern and something else as well, when trying to close it, it resists the closing. Rena tries to identify the school of the aura, it’s living, not a magic thing. Rena asks the ancestors. Neriads can go into water elemental form. We think this could be the neriad. We put it into the cistern, and prepare for a fight just in case. Then drain the water into the cistern, and he channels positive energy into it. Slowly a beautiful naked woman appears in the water. She gets out of the cistern and says thank you. Rena asks if she knows how to lay the ghost to rest, she doesn’t know when he became a ghost. He had her shawl. She thinks something was in the cistern, but it’s gone now. It must not be let out. The sword of the Briar. She was the guardian of the sword. Her name is Evindra. It’s intelligent, very deadly weapon. Tied to it’s creator, who is in the first world. Nymph queen made it (i.e. fey queen). When it awakens we will see signs. It’s currently dormant and she was it’s protector. Can she feel its presence? She can’t. She thinks the fey queen probably sent for it, and whoever took it killed the guardian. Perhaps the minion she sent has deceived her
It’s been about half a century since the abbey was decimated. Ghost stories have been the last decade. She says the fey queen has long had an interest in the stolen lands.
She tells us about Nerissia, the nymph/fey queen…Nerissia wanted Briar, which was kept here, so probably whoever killed the gardener took the sword, but the minion has not given it to her yet. Nerissia fell in love with one of the Eldest Fey (most powerful residents of the first world, like demi gods). Count Ranalk was his name. She rose in power very quickly, so she declared herself one of the rulers, which didn’t go down well with the rest of the Eldest, sent a Jabberwock to slay her and exile her lover to the Shadow Plane. She survived, but has a hell of a grudge. She created her own realm called the 100 Breaths, it’s sort of a first world plane but very close to the material plane. Stolen Lands are very close to this. The neriad was ordered to guard Briar since before humans first came to these lands. She cannot disobey the order, she is sure the shadowy fey that brought it (from an eldest) would kill her. Sword is in form of a bastard sword, but when awakened it can change its form, and can kill denizens of the first world. It is filled with sorrow. It was the thing that enhanced the water.
Before the gardener came here, he was already on the verge of being excommunicated from the church of cayden caillean. But then he became obsessed with her, and then stole her shawl and tried to use it to bargain with her. Then he imprisoned her. Before that no-one would have known Briar was here. She could hear what he told her in the clock. He went mad. He threw Briar out of the cistern and she thinks used it to murder everyone in the abbey. She thinks its about a decade since he stopped talking to her. Its within the timeframe of the start of Irriveti’s reign.
Rena promises to get her shawl back. She suggests that the ghost may already have been laid to rest, as the fungus is turning back into normal fungus. Rena explains why we came here. She suggests she may be able to help. She thinks a trap would be laid in the main gate of the abbey, but there’s a hole in the ceiling here, you would go straight up into a well and out just the other side of the contemplation chambers, which are on the side of the cathedral, so if they were lying in wait for us they’d be looking the other way. Rena casts wind walk and up we go.
There are 2 shambling mounds in the graveyard so we avoid them. We go look inot the contemplation chambers. Not ruined. Just very dusty and not much in there. There is some movement and the occasional glint of sunlight bouncing off something in the belltower. We go up. There’s a man in a chain shirt keeping a lookout towards road, has a whistle and a short bow. Go down stairs. Bells are on floor, no stairs, so he used some other method to get up here, he didn’t walk. Rosa casts telepathy and then puts a geas on him to not raise the alarm. He’s wearing Pitaxian insignia.
We go into the cathedral. Rat bloke is up in the rafters. 4 guys in lighter armour like guy in tower and 8 in full plate. There are potions and stuff on floor as if they’re going to spring up at sound of whistle and drink invisibility….
We win. We save many of them from death and take them prisoner. They tell us that there was a plan to use Rena’s adventuring nature to ambush him, either to do it themselves or let the other creatures that were already here kill him and us. Their orders were to protect Getane.
We leave cohorts guarding prisoners and go to look in basement for wows and upstairs as well. There’s a bedroom upstairs, there are some books up here, drawer in desk has librarian’s personal journal, librarian was worried about gardener’s interest in dodgy topics, also a soggy book which was his apparently, its about astrology, astronomy and the stars, despite it having got wet, its worth 100 gp.
Next floor – desk, possibly leader of order, bloodstain on floor, Amina has sudden conviction as she goes through door, that some one has just sliced through my neck with a knife, eerie white scar on my neck as if it happened, Rena casts calm spirit. Nothing else happens. Rena tells everyone to go back onto the stairs.Then speak with haunt. Asks questions.
Who are you? High priest of Cayden Caillean.
How did you come to haunt? Murder of self and all followers in place, and ruin and abandonment of sacred place.
How can we aid you to your rest? Give my people the burial they deswrve, tell the story, and rededicate place
Where is the body of your murderer? Don;t know.
Any message you want to pass on to world before passing on to Cayden Caillean’s world. No
So we need to find bodies.
We go on to basement. Clay and stone ovens, tables, basins for washing, it’s a mess hall..
Long corridor with lots of doors offf it. Narrow cells and beds, blood everywhere. Skeletons here. Death and decay and terror. Lots of wows here, but normal ones. Amina kills them.
More stairs down. Wine cellar. Couple of bottles of really nice chardonnay.
WE dispose of the shambling mounds as well. Well, Cade does.
Then we look at burying the bodies and fetching the High Priest of Cayden Caillean to do the service etc. Wardens and were rat too. The gardener and high priest are already lying in the graveyard. Rena casts spell Call Spirit on the HIgh Priest and the librarian. They come and tell their stories ending with murder at hands of gardener. Didn’t expect what happened, very grateful to water spirit for the water that allowed them to make such exceptional wine. Amina makes notes. They are buried with due ceremony and HP suggests we have a drink in their honour. He can re consecrate the cathedral too. He says if we end up claiming the land, he would like to have this rebuilt as the centre of their faith. Rena says we will do our best to expand in this direction.
We teleport and fly people back to Sanctuary. Take the prisoners to Valourhold. Jail, lots of troops, and also hidden away so the prisoners less likely to be spotted. The Abbey will count as a temple.
On return to town we get wand of stoneskin with 35 charges from druid who wanted hillside sorting out.
The soldiers also confirm that the Rushlight festival is when the armies will move on our kingdom. Bless ’em, I think they like us.