The Dark Ages

Sad loss
Extract from Treen's journal...

There is so much happening in my mind everything is jumbled, we sadly lost a member of our party during this adventure. Tobias met a terrible end, but it was so because of his courage and character. He met his end scouting ahead to make sure we were not walking into a hornets nest.
Considering his previous exploits one would think him invincible, alas that was not the case.

A group of us set out to find the elusive druid grove but as we approached the place of the inn we found a lot of activity, the Goblyn and Orcs were building a fortification. We camped and Tobias decided to go scouting. He came back some time after with four human captives who we fed and somewhat healed. In the meantime we had taken out a Goblyn patrol.

Seems like Tobias freed the captives by collapsing a roof on some Orcs – wish I had seen that….

We returned to Enonia with our friends, learning they came for a village to the North. They had been attacked by Goblyns and forced to flee, one wished to return to see if there were any left. After some rest we headed North about two days later we approached the outskirts of a hamlet.
Tobias went forward and scouted, he did nt return when we expected. We waited a while longer and then approached the hamlet. The sight was not pleasant, in front of a barn were the remains of Tobias, given the beetles we came upon I can only hope he was dead before they started feasting.

We destroyed the beetles and found nothing else, although the member of the hamlet did express his gratitude for saving his and his companions’ lives.

We returned to Enonia and rested.

Some time later we headed East to find the grove, despite the lack of solid information we did find it. Some members of the party had a terrible time and found themselves being flung through the air, but Ceresaii was happy!

We thought about attacking the camp by the inn, but decided against it, instead Dargellen found signs of a patrol and we thought that would be a worthwhile target. We tracked them and thought we had the advantage, unfortunately we were wrong, they turned the table son us in the woods.
We did eventually win, but there were some serous injuries to our party, fortunately no more deaths. We tended to our wounded and made haste back to Enonia.

We have told Renauld of our findings and it seems that he may be taking them seriously ( he paid us a pittance for the information… ), we shall see.

These developments to the East are troubling, if the Goblyns and Orcs establish a base so close we are in for some rough times, the Troll may be our only hope to stem the tide, but I fear we have tread a path past him that will be discovered.

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Cull the forest and some strange creatures
An excert from Treen's journal

We assembled an interesting party, 3 thieves, a cleric and apprentice, a ranger, a druid and myself. We headed out of Enonia towards the Monastery. On the way we hailed the Striped Mage and this time he came down to see us. He seemed even crankier than usual; seems the Chaos followers have been bothering him. We told him about the forest room with the pillar and that sparked his interest, the pillar is some form of power cylinder. He would not elaborate more on what it was or could be used for, but he strongly suggested we did not mess with it. He refused to recharge my wand, suggesting instead I go to Irecia and study…. alright for him he can just float over the Orcs!

We carried on into the monastery to find Mazlor’s glyph had been tripped. There were a few remains of Chaos followers, nothing of value remained on them, which was somewhat disappointing to Kallister, Tip and Tobias.

As we did not have Mazlor or his ‘keys’ with us we had to take the long way round to reach the area of the forest. We got to the cavern with the raging river without incident but here we met a large number of the followers, with them were two magic users, seemed to be clerics. We made short work of them, sleep spells always works in these situations, unfortunately Cujo did take a lethal hit, a sad day for Jorann.

We proceeded through the caves to the river landing and boarded the boats, interestingly the band of thieves stayed together……. We explained to them that this ride may seem a bit weird but not to worry we would be with them all the way.

We made it all the way to the forest room without seeing anything but when we opened the door we were assailed by a disgusting rotten smell. The plants we had hacked before were decomposing, which was good news. We followed the path, Tobias went on ahead. He had slipped on one of the cloaks we had taken from the mob earlier, hoping this would provide him some protection. As we reached the Northern corner of the path we heard him scream and he was running back towards us. What followed was a strange site. A purplish flying creature with no wings appeared, an organic body grafted onto some metallic plate. There were mechanical and organic arms flailing, a strange chattering/shimmering/hissing sound emanated from it. I fired a magic missile at it and caused some damage, but it looked like it passed through some kind of shield. Dargellon’s first arrow bounced off the metal body. The sound changed and we saw a glow from the organic hand followed shortly by an arc of flame. We were all caught in the blast and suffered some damage. Dargellon fired another arrow, this one was true and the beast exploded, the mechanical parts falling to the ground. We examined the remains and found the mechanical arm to contain a poisoned needle.

Tobias had gone to the door, the rest of us proceeded to destroy the remaining plants, but after the first pulse of magic both Kallister and Tip decided to leave and join Tobias. Dargellon, Jorann, Ceresai and myself remained. We did manage to clear the remaining plants, no more mutants coming from this field!

We headed back to the door expecting to find the three other there when we heard sounds of battle coming from some distance off. When we reached the corridor we saw it was coming from the other end and floating there was another one of those purple tripods. We planned an ambush by the door, but it went the other way, we guessed Kallister, Tip and Tobias were the focus. We ran up the corridor and later found that the three of them had been having some fun. Kallister and Tip had stumbled upon a ritual involving a huge and heavy symbol of the three fingers. Tip had killed the leader with what looked to be a clean, powerful strike to the neck – the head was lying some distance from the body. They then killed the other three, who strangely did not attack them but did keep pushing this symbol at Kallister. Tobias had taken a serious blast from the tripod and was unconscious, but looked like he would recover.

Kallister had been removing the gold covering from the symbol, there was a considerable amount of gold and this would not be a quick task. I stayed to help her while the other explored the area, suddenly they returned and Dargellon was not looking good. He was pale, shaking and had malodorous pus and blood oozing from a rent in his right arm. The door to the North contained some ugly creature that had attacked them when the door was opened, fortunately it was chained to what looked like an alter, so could not follow them.

I poured a vial of Holy water on Dargellon’s wound but this had no effect. Kallister dug out two scrolls they had found and handed them to Jorann but there was nothing of benefit. We decided to head back to Enonia as quickly as possible and take him to the Temple.

As we entered the room of statues we found ourselves confronted by another group of followers, we dispatched them quickly, my sleep spell and Jorann’s hold significantly evened the odds. We bound one and took him captive. The remainder of the journey was long and uneventful, we tried to be gentle with Dargellan as we hauled him up and down the dungeon. He could walk but was unable to climb.

Darellon was clearly getting worse all the time. As we passed the Fountain of the Light we stopped to see if this would help. There were obscene symbols surrounding the entrance and several red candles burning in front of the door. Mazlor is not going to be happy. Ceresaii decided to kick them out of the way, unfortunately he tripped a glyph and was knocked unconscious, these followers have some serious magical powers among them. Drinking the water did seem to give Dargellan more strength. He plunged his arm into the fountain and the wound was cleaned and healed, however, the real damage could now be seen. The disease was spreading through his body and looked to be killing his flesh as it went.

We left the Temple and pushed through the night arriving at Enonia exhausted about 4am. We hurriedly explained the situation to the guard, who let us pass so long as someone stayed and explained what we had brought back, Jorann and his apprentice volunteered!

We did get Dargellon to the Temple and Averin did heal him and ordered several days rest for full recovery.

These followers are growing in number and the tripods are not easily defeated. The power cylinder may be a key but the Striped Mage warned not to mess with it, we have some serious thinking to do……

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Camping and Fishing by the Lake
At the Church of the Light in Enonia...

“I’m truly sorry, as I say, Deacon,” Ashaziel says apologetically to the frumpy, balding priest of the Light, “Burlok was a truly brave and pious man, and we are all sad to lose him.”

Ashaziel, a local peasant in his early 30’s, brushes his hand back over his forehead, all the way back through his mid-length long hair and finally stopping at the back of his neck, as if the act will help him draw forth his memories. “He was new to town and looking for a bit of adventure I think, you see… not that he didn’t enjoy his life at the church, he always spoke well of it and especially the good cleric Mazlor… and ever since I lost my mentor, Asgrim, I’ve felt it was time for me to be striking out on my own, but I’d never gotten up the nerve. So, in a way, Burlok is to thank for our leaving town in the first place.”

“Not that Burlok was inviting the tragedy that followed… He seemed to enjoy life, and certainly had a fine taste for, erm… strong spirits. But for some reason, he found my stories about all of the kinds of fish I’ve managed to catch at the local pond as a bit boring, though I can’t imagine why. At any rate, Grel the holy warrior and a fellow named Tip that also knows how to handle a blade had been planning on going out to take a look at that Crystal Lake that half the town seems to be talking about, so it seemed a great time for Burlok and I to join them.”

“Of course, we might have had to call off the whole thing if Kallista hadn’t just returned from deep in the Kingdom. Where the rest of us were down to our last coppers, and couldn’t afford the woolens we’d need to keep ourselves warm from the cold fall weather quickly coming on, Kallista had a nice pouch of gold and agreed to lend us the funds to get the necessary gear. She even hired a fighting man named Parix to come along, who seemed to me slightly… bloodthirsty. He scared me a bit.”

“At any rate, things were fine at first; we camped north of the old Inn our first night out, and the only thing strange we ran into the next day was a circle of trees that seemed to have grown extremely close together. Kallista investigated, and said that she heard a cranky voice say something like, ‘I can hear you but can’t see you’ when she got close. Since it seemed that we weren’t going to be invited in, we moved on.”

“That’s when tragedy struck. We saw what looked like a group of small statues standing in the distance but was in reality a large group of animated zombie corpses of ko-balds. Asgrim had told me of such things, but they were truly gruesome. Before we knew it, Burlok and Parix were down, and their flesh was being feasted upon. We fell back, and fortunately were fast enough to stay ahead of them far enough to set traps for them with oil and fire. Eventually we whittled down their numbers until my friends could finish them off with steel, and so we had won… or so we thought.

“The lake itself seemed placid and there were buildings to provide shelter when we arrived, but we wanted to explore the nearby cave we had heard about. Unfortunately, shortly after going in, the resident LIVE ko-balds didn’t seem too eager to let us pass. Instead, they wanted food, and our 2 days’ rations apiece wasn’t enough; they demanded ‘many much more’ of it, so I suggested we do what I do best… go fishing.”

“Fortunately, the lake is well populated with fish and a simple enchantment into the water put many of them quite asleep, and we were able to gather them into one of our bags. This seemed to do the trick with the ko-balds, and we made a rough agreement in which we would fill the bag again for them each time we wanted to pass.”

“Luckily, we were able to find some valuables further on into the cave, if for no other reason than to allow us to pay the toll sir Reynald has imposed to allow us back into town! Not so luckily, we were attacked at night on the way back here by the skeletons of the very undead that we thought we had destroyed! Being only 4 of us left, we ran away, then ran away some more! Luckily again, we were able to go back and recover our valuables the next morning.”

“So, as I say, we are sorry about the loss of Burlok. He was a fine drunk, er, cleric, and was a fine example of the best of the Church of the Light…”

Ashaziel’s rambling tale trails off, as he realizes that the Deacon he was been talking to has fallen asleep.

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Goblin Garden
(Annihilation of the Body Snatchers)

Monastery
[Mazlor, Jorann + henchman, Dargellon, Tobias, Treen + bodyguards, Cesarii]

We arrived at the Monastery without interference and were gratified to not perceive new signs of unholy ceremony – chiefly the vile candles and symbols from our last visit. Regardless, I embarked upon the first tentative steps to reclaim the Monastery, once again. Tracing symbols of holiness into the walls of the Monastery, I transferred the Light’s power and granted the Monastery a rudimentary ability to repel unwanted visitors.

I held out hope that I could regain energy in the Fountain Room and spread this defensive power throughout the Monastery, and so we repaired there for a time. Alas, we wert too oft disturbed by agents of Chaos. A pack of grub-worms and a mud-demon met their ends in the Holy Font, and nearly Tobias as well. The final disruption came in the form of thudding sounds by the stairs. Upon approach, we found a crew of the Green Iron Fist descending into the Monastery. Their minds were clearly possessed, for they paid us no heed, and proceeded inwards with nary a sign of acknowledgement.

Knowing their plight and thinking they could lead us to The Master, we fell in line with them. Down the crevice, through the cave, up the rope, along the stream, over the river, to the docks they went, losing most of their number on the way – some accidentally and some not so accidentally…At the docks, we even rode with them, as our numbers were too great for one raft and we had no mind to leave any behind there again! They made land at the other dock, walked up to the garden aviary, and descended in the guardhouse. They proceeded left into uncharted – and most certainly unimagined – territory.

Another ‘garden’ of sorts housed twisted trees with giant glowing pods. The ensorcelled goblins strode under them and were swallowed by them, like a flytrap. Dargellon shot a pod, which responded only with a drizzle of green ooze. Treen’s bodyguard joined, and they pierced perhaps a score. Yet, this was but a fraction of the whole, and so we cautiously made to manually smash more. Various strains of mutated goblins fell out and lay unmoving. We still faced no direct resistance and thus destroyed the majority of the room. However, there was a painful and disturbing throbbing emanating from a corner of the garden. We endured as best we could with our will and godly assistance, but eventually we could manage no more, and were forced to retreat.

Riding the river back, we had the rafts to ourselves, but the same could not be said of the river. Eerie and troubling lights flitted and flickered about. A familiar foreboding and fear gripped a number of us, and in the panic, we became separated. The raft with myself, Cerassii and Jorann’s henchman (?) was left behind. We could not bear to approach the glimmering lights and there was equally unnerving consideration of where our trio might try to barricade ourselves and survive a night Below. Mercifully, we summoned enough divine magic for myself and (?) to shake our terror. The unbeliever Cerassii was more resistant, so I channeled the Light’s power to incapacitate him instead, and thus we finally traversed the river, hours behind our comrades.

Reunited, we made to the Monastery entrance, finding the corpses of the goblins who had fallen prey to the Light’s wards. I performed prayers in the Fountain Room and restored the wards as we left. We had no desire (and in the case of Tobias, no coin) to pay Reynauld’s burdensome Entrance Levee, so we made to sleep just outside city gates. The guards liked not our intentions and shooed us away perhaps a half of a mile, where we passed the night without incident.

We returned to the pod garden and resumed our vandalisation, noting gladly that previously assaulted stalks appeared to be withering and dying. Tobias soon wandered astray, discovering both the source of the throbbing and its guardians. We dispatched these goblins quickly and turned our attentions to the source – a giant pillar of woe. Twisted, agonizing faces swirled about whilst it pumped out its bloody thrumming. Bodies and objects tossed against it were tainted in a peculiar way. I attempted to divine whether turning the Light’s power against it would be wise – but even this the accursed object sensed, and lashed out against, rendering my mind nearly empty. Though my companions sought to question me, I knew naught – not even whom they might be or our reasons for being there!
Holy water seemed to weaken the pillar, but it also must have alerted more guardians, for they burst in soon after. I hid behind the most capable looking fellow and observed the carnage. Lacking sufficient water to wipe the pillar out and not having faith in other means of harming it, we elected to leave it be for the nonce.

Blessedly, my mind refilled with my life’s recollections on the way home.

Mazlor,
Beacon of the Light

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Disturbing Times
Extract from Treen's Journal

There is so much to write, I am not sure all is clear in my head but I must note the recent events before they are lost forever.

A large group of us have decided to attempt to close the portal for good. Not wishing to sacrifice myself in the manner of Asgrim and as Parabellum could not give any details of what Asgrim was actually doning at the time we decided to try asking the Striped Mage. Leaving Enonia under the scrutiny of the alert guards we headed North. I hailed the Mage and he contacted me after I asked for help to close the portal. He did want to know how I knew about it and was skeptical until I mentioned the Master, at that point he told me to come back when we found the portal, no offer of immediate help!

We headed to the monastery and immediately saw it had been desecrated by the chaotic three fingered lot, there were burning red candles and obscene graffiti everywhere. Not much we could do but I think Alana did write some ‘anti’ graffiti! We headed to the crevasse, stopping by the fountain of the Light on the way. Curiously we found this burnt mass (it may have been human at some point) in the doorway. We removed it from the room and headed on. Reaching the river without event we found the rafts and headed on. We made it to the beach and mushroom field and started to explore. Coming across a small tunnel we disturbed some undead and the ensuing battle was interesting with ghould, skeletons and a rather stinky something. Good prevailed over Evil and eventually we had the place to ourselves (I think). As we explored more we discovered the source of the skeletons, an underground graveyard. Mazlor asked that we return the bones back to the graves, so after some sorting and digging we were done..

We reached a dead end in a tunnel, curiously it had a large stone block in front of it, with what looked like dried blood at the bottom and underneath. After some debate we decided to move. After Kjeld broke his pole trying to lift it we decided to push. An Elf spirit suddenly rose,thanked us for freeing her and then disappeared, we suspected she had become the somewhat smelly one. Underneath were some rotted silks and to Kee’s delight a clean looking long sword, with a dragon as the handle, spread wings forming the guard. Further exploration revealed the mines that had delivered the stone used to build the Monastery. This was it so we headed back to the rafts. We headed to the opening opposite the one we entered the cavern by and followed the river, suddenly we came upon a whirlpool and everyone thought we had found the portal. Suddenly Irem said this was not the portal and we should turn back, he offered no explanation and insisted this was not the portal. None of us wanted to enter anyway so we tuned back. We went to the dock by the cliff and suspected this lead to the columned room reached by the winding (sturge infested) stairway, we were right.

We headed to the ‘garden’ area and yes we heard the scampering of feet above us after we ran tothe tunnel. Jorann had this wonderful idea that the two of us should run out into the open, he would shield me and I put them to sleep. I know he and his God have vowed to protect Mages, but still…. Despite my doubts we went with his plan, mainly because he suddenly grabbed me and dragged me outside. Fortunately his plan worked, I escaped unscathed and he looked liked a pin cushion – ha! We moved on and came across a structure by the path, of course someone decided to open the door, this spiked beast rushed us and suddenly it was mayhem, once again Good triumphed. Beyond the structure was this fountain with a flowing back ooze, suddenly Kjeld rushed forward shouting something unintelligible and smashed it to pieces, no real answer to that. As this was a dead end we went into the structure and found a descending stairway, of course we went down. We found ourselves in the middle of an intersection, not wanting to open up more cans of worms we decided now would be a good time to loot the library. Unfortunately we opened the door with some difficulty and found it destroyed, something had exploded from the middle, Jorann was convinced there was still something of value to be found, but after extensive searching all we found was pulp.

By consensus now was the time to head back, we returned to the rafts and exited the monastery by the crevasse (no sturge this way). On our way back we noticed smoke to the West we went to investigate and then Dargellan noticed we were missing Irem and there were tracks heading West. We followed them and cresting the rise ahead we came upon a strange site, Irem was fighting Irem! Long story short one was held the other wasn’t, as we negotiated with this one several people came over the hill and clearly they were not coming to invite us for dinner. The ensuing battle was hectic. The ‘free’ Irem was running around insisting he was the real one and looking for a weapon, tow of the approaching party were magic user, druids or clerics I guess as I could not counter their spells. One cast a spell spell that caused use to attack someone other than him, Kee bravely through herself in front of my Magic Missile to save one of our party. I have to say this was a brave and actually very graceful move, she launched herself into the air, took the hit, rolled into the ground and came to her feet with her dragon sword in hand ready to cut swathes through the enemy. Eventually all that remained were the party (with free Irem), held Irem and a druid held by Kjeld. The held Irem was moving and suddenly he disappeared then above us cloud of gas was floating in the air. In the confusion the druid escaped and rand into the burning building, he was gone.

We regouped and Irem explained how he had gone to a meeting with the dark stranger and then the next thing he knew was locked in a strange building. He escaped by setting light to it and as he was running away was beset by his doppelganger. As we headed back to Enonia Irem said he thinks it would be a good idea if he went into the Kingdom for a while, Enonia was not a good place for him anymore. We paid our tax without bitterness, it seemed irrelevant under the circumstances.. Irem said he had some affairs to close out before he left ans so with heavy hearts we said our goodbyes. For a thief Irem had many good qualities, not that I would tell him that, maybe our paths will cross again.

So many strange things happening, based upon Irem’s explanation it seems Chaos is here in Enonia. Yinvax has been shunted off to the stockade and I don’t trust the new guy… maybe he is the problem.

Given that ‘Irem’ was not Irem and I am sure that the goblin we interrogated mentioned a whirlpool where you went through, came back and were improved I think we may have found the portal. I must see the Striped Mage as soon as I can, maybe I should ask him to recharge the wand, he doesn’t seem too friendly but surely that is a trivial matter for him.

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The Crystal Lake is discovered
An extract from Treen's journal

While talking to Ceresaii the Druid in the Mug and Pot I overhead a band of men discussing a map one of them had been left by his grandfather showing caves full of riches in the area. They all seemed rather keen to find these caves and from the conversation I heard they clearly had no idea of the situation outside the town.Ceresaii and I introduced ourselves and invited the group to join us in a drink. We explained to them the trouble we are having with the Goblins and Orcs. I mentioned the Dragon and Troll, they did go a little pale at this point. They showed us the map and it clearly showed some cave about a day’s walk South of the Dalewoods Inn in the woods. Despite the situation they were still planning to explore, I knew they would be dead within an hour if I did not go with them. We arranged to meet the next day and headed out of the East Gate, the guards seem to have increased and they are definitely watching more closely than before.

We went South of the bridge and made it to the Inn towards the close of day. They wanted to camp in the clearing, after reminding them about the dangers, we went South into the woods. We made camp and set up watches. Early into the watch we found ourselves surrounded by very large centipedes that appeared out of the ground. The situation was not good and rapidly became worse. While not strong, their bite was full of deadly poison. Three of our party died and I survived by the skin of my teeth because I had an anti-venom handy. These Southern woods are getting very risky, I think I prefer Goblins and Orcs to poisonous creatures.I was too sick to carry on so we returned to Enonia to rest, my fever lasted three days. By the time I had recuperated the gang had picked up three more adventurers and persuaded Sal to join us.

We headed out East again and the night by the Inn was uneventful. The next morning we headed South and before the end of the day came across a crystal clear lake, we spotted a hamlet to the East. As we approached the hamlet we could see it was almost totally destroyed, it seemed that the earth had been pushed from the lake like a wave. As I looked in the lake it seemed like a cone had been pulled from the bottom, I suspect this is where the Floating Tower came from. The earth had crushed all but three of the houses. We searched for a while there was nothing of note other than a rift leading through the hamlet heading East.

We camped for the night in the houses and the next morning followed the rift East. Shortly we came to a crevasse across our path, it was maybe 30-40 yards long. The Western side was a sheer drop, but the Eastern side sloped down underneath us. We walked around to the other side and tied several ropes together and two of our party went down. After an age Ceresaii went down to investigate and then shortly returned with them. Seems there were sounds of flapping wings further down. We decided we should explore further so all of us went down, two by two using the rope to steady ourselves, the slope was not steep, but was tricky.About 300’ down we came to what was effectively a fork. We picked a direction and entered a cavern and I heard Kobolds chattering, suddenly a few screeched at us and told us to go. We (wisely) held fire and talked to them, they definitely seemed scared of us and hungry, but there appeared to be a lot of them. We tossed in some rations and basically left them alone, one did warn us to be careful if we went below.

We headed back and took the other branch and entered another cavern (if only it had been full of Kobolds). At first we thought they were bats on the ceiling. As we moved forward we saw some large fungi. They stated to scream and suddenly there was a fluttering of wings above us, no bats here, it was those blood-sucking beasts from HELL. I cast sleep and they all fell, ahh so satisfying. Then more came we fought for a long time, they liked Sal, he was gorged upon and dropped, another of our party almost died. Finally we killed them (nothing like the sound of willow against a BLOOD SUCKING BEAST FROM HELL). Short work was made of the screamers and the wounded were given first aid, Sal brought our man back from the brink. About now we noticed we were walking on moss and skeletons. A search revealed a flask, dagger (glowed blue briefly when drawn) and a corroded tube, which I have.

We decided to press on for a while, what fortune we did… we found the Crystal Lake! Yes, it is a Crystal Lake. Down the passage we came upon another huge cavern, almost filling it was this mass of crystal, around the edge were broken chunks (Ceresaii and I collected quite a lot). We walked all the way around and found nothing of interest. The crystal was solid and after we had circumnavigated it someone suggested we go to the middle. With some trepidation I joined the exploration. The crystal held and we came upon a set of stairs that descended to the depths below.

The stairs came stopped at the intersection of two passages. We were a little disoriented at this point, no-one had a compass. Each corridor ended in a portcullis and about half way down was a statue. Investigating the statues we found them to be solid and appeared to be made of silver. Each was carrying a sword aloft. Ceresaii decided he wanted a long sword and promptly hacked (very noisily) at the first. He succeeded in breaking off a hand with sword. The hand looked to be encased in silver or something similar, the inside was brittle. The sword on the other hand was solid silver, Cerasaii chose wisely. Unfortunately he got rather greedy and decided to get more. As he was smashing at another statue four fire beetles arrive. Fortunately the other mage put them to sleep. We decided at this time to leave and head back.
We reached Enonia without incident, thankfully. The guards noticed our somewhat disheveled appearance and made some snide comments but we ignored them, how much fun a sleep spell would have been…….

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A Toast to Anya
Late at night at a tavern in Enonia...

As you enter the mostly-empty watering hole, you see the young man Dargellon sitting at a table in the corner, his unkempt black hair falling down almost to his reddened eyes. On the tabletop, you spot 2 bottles, one completely empty and one halfway finished. He waves an older man standing near the table to sit with his left hand, clutching a glass of some dark liquid in his right.

“Nice funeral, eh? It’s the least we coulda done for her. She went out like a flamin’ hero. Yeah, you heard right, I was there at the end. Heh, yeah, I guess I could tell the story… again.” Light from the nearby lamp seems to make the scar running up the side of his head glow as he leans back to begin.

“That spellflinger Treen told you true; we had gone out that morning to lay down a false trail for the orcs to follow. Mostly it was me and Irem and that new buddy of his laying the trail; Anya wanted to go get another look at what was happening at the hamlet. I hadn’t decided if I trusted her yet, but I gotta admit, between her attitude and her string of orc ears, I kinda liked her.”

“Anyway, when she got back, she was in a flamin’ fit over what the orcs were doin’ in the hamlet. Told us they were startin’ some mumbo-jumbo ritual that was buildin’ up to something big. We decided Anya and I would go back to that hamlet to see if there was a way ‘ta stop it, and Irem would go back to warn the others. Our horses would be spotted, so I handed ’Stomper’s reins to Irem and headed out with Anya on foot.”

“When we got there, we could hear the noises of the orcs gettin’ all worked up with this ritual they’d started. We couldn’t get too close without being seen, but even that far out I could tell it was one of the ugliest things I’d seen since those flamin’ flyin’ kobolds spat their goo in my face. The orcs had human prisoners trussed up in front of some warped spellflingin’ shaman, complete with a nasty-lookin’ staff with a flamin’ skull at the end, I think with one of those bloody eye symbols they use on it. Around him, there were these strange-lookin’ orcs that I’d swear looked half human, but also stronger and tougher than your usual orcs.”

“The ceremony was definitely buildin’ up to the end, judging by all the ruckus the orcs were makin’. I was desperate to try and stop whatever was going on, so I got my longbow ready and pulled out a silver-head arrow, hopin’ that even if I couldn’t hit anything from this far, I could maybe distract ‘em with the arrow, or maybe some light shinin’ off the silver. I pulled back and let it fly, and nobody noticed – it hit one of the buildings, but nobody even heard with all the noise. In the meantime, the shaman punches into a prisoner’s chest and pulls his heart out.”

“I felt like I was drenched in sweat by the time I had another arrow notched, and when I let loose it was a really bad shot, not even getting close to reaching the orcs nearest to us. That bastard shaman ripped out another heart from the next poor soul and held it high. We knew whatever flamin’ spell this ritual was starting was about to go off.”

“’We’re runnin’ out of prisoners,’ I growled as I tried to wipe my fingers dry. As I drew another arrow, I told Anya, ‘Anything you can think of that could help out…’ ‘Aim straight, shoot true’ was all she said. I drew back to my cheek and released.”

“Nearest I could tell, it slammed into the shaman square in the chest. At least, all that damn noise stopped. The last thing I think I saw was him falling, then I had dropped the bow and we were running hard as we could outta there. It wasn’t long before we heard the roars of their battle rage building up behind us.”

“For awhile, we thought we might make it, but one of their flamin’ patrols spotted us; a dozen armed riders. Anya asked what I wanted to do, and I said we should try and take one off his horse, then hop on and try to ride outta there. I set my halberd for the charge, and Anya guarded my back, but it was no good. They came in too fast, and a weapon cut into me about the same time that I got a good kick from one of their warhorses. My halberd didn’t come near to any of ’em.”

“I got up with a groan as their horses started to wheel around for another charge. I looked down to see how bad I was bleedin’, and I realized we weren’t likely to live through another pass. That’s when Anya gave me a good shove and yelled ‘Get back to them!’ at me. I knew what she was doin’, but my legs were moving before I could think to stop her, let alone realize that I couldn’t. She had raised her string of orc ears high and was shoutin’ battle cries at them at the top of her lungs. I ducked my head into the tall grass and ran like hell. I heard the sounds of Anya’s last stand behind me as I ran, trying to stay out of sight.”

“I managed to get back to the others unseen, along the way sucking down some of the healing juice that preacher Mazlor had given me to stop the bleeding. When I got to them, and they asked me where she was, All I could make myself say was, ’Anya’s gone’. Mazlor and I found the body later, everything but the head.”

“So here’s to ya, Anya,” Dargellon says, raising his glass in toast, “I hardly knew her, but she gave her life to save mine, even after I swore…” He trails off, a look of pain twisting his face, then drains his glass. Staring off at nothing, he begins again, speaking softly at first, but building in intensity: “Well, it’s a helluva way to go. Gotta hand it to her. Hit your enemies one last time, and save somebody to live to fight another day… Of course, we can’t all be as lucky as old Colgash, to walk out with a flamin’ army straight onto an open field and SIT RIGHT DOWN ON SOME DAMNED ZOMBIES…!”

He throws his empty glass at the far wall with all the force he can muster, shattering it. Ignoring the bellows of the barkeep, he slumps back down into his chair. “All over now. No goin’ back. It.. shoulda been.. me…”

His eyes roll back, and he passes out face-first on the table.

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An Unexpected Rescue
From Rhys' Journal

[January 27, 2011]

I have been abed with fever and . . . more unpleasant things . . . for the better part of a week. It is only now, my body finally clear of the contagion of the rat’s bite, that I can think clearly enough to write of the trek that landed me in this bed at the temple in Enonia.

Although Lars, Talos, and I, men of the wilderness all, were particularly interested in determining the truth or falsity of certain rumors about a druid burial mound in the forests north of what used to be the Wayfarers’ Inn, Mazlor, in his wisdom, and Shoeless Joe, in his greed, convinced the three of us it were better to make an expedition to the ancient dwarven mines to the south.

However, on the morn we were to start our trek, Shoeless Joe was not to be found. “Probably drunk in an alley somewhere,” muttered Mazlor. So to augment our numbers Mazlor hired three of the locals who have come to hold him in high regard—some quite high, as we were later to learn.

Chacci seemed a slight man, so we made him torch-bearer only. I was leary of arming Ralath with anything sharper than a club (the man drinks almost as much as Shoeless Joe, if that is possible) but he and Isty, a devout follower of the Light, we made our spearmen/bowmen.

The trip to the mines was uneventful. We entered from the south and soon uncovered the crevasse that leads into the deep mines. We brought enough spikes and rope to leave them there permanently, descended into the mines, and headed east down one of the major mining tunnels.

We made good time, and soon found ourselves in front of a massive spiked door, beyond which was a large room filled with iron tables and benches. There was another door in each of the four walls, and above each door was a strange circular crystal, sort of window-like, embedded with the three-fingered hand sign of the Dark Ones. While we were exploring this room, two rock-men emerged from the floor and accosted us, but they did not survive long under the scything of Lars’ blade or the crushing of Mazlor’s mace.

We continued east, and passing through another massive corridor, we came to another large room—this one with a tower in the middle of it, and a quarter-round tower in each corner. There were four doors in the center tower, one for each cardinal direction, and above each door another of those strange, window-like crystals embedded with an iron symbol of the Dark Ones. A similar door, and similar crystal, was in the center of each quarter-round tower, facing the tower in the middle. This all we determined after making a full circuit of the room. But we first had to deal with the room’s other strange occupant.

We heard the flat sound of metal against stone, like the regular stomp of one metal foot. It was out of sight but in front of us and drawing closer, so I tossed one of Chacci’s torches as far toward it as I could, and in the flicker of light we finally saw it: a metal sphere the size of a man’s head, bouncing in a graceful arch about waist high. As the torch passed over it, the strange sphere stopped and reversed direction, bouncing near the sputtering torch momentarily before coming back toward us.

We had all encountered the other spherical metal monsters of these passages before, so fearing we were about to be attacked, I nocked and loosed one of my cloth-yard shafts. The arrow struck true, but merely glanced off the smooth surface. The sphere came inexorably on, never wavering in rhythm, its pace almost casual. It came right at us—and bounded right through our group without so much as a casual touch. I shouted at it in elvish and then in orcish, but provoked no response. Had any of us known ancient dwarven, we would have tried that tongue. The sphere simply continued on in what we later determined was a regular circuit of the room.

The sphere, while odd, was apparently not a threat, so we turned our attention to the tower in the middle of the room. The door resisted both my attempts and Mazlor’s to open it, but Talos was successful—to his chagrin, as he was immediatley set upon by a swarm of human-faced worms. They shattered his shield, rended his flesh with their mouths, and knocked him down, unmoving, to the stone floor.

Mazlor shouted to Isty to toss oil on the things, and I followed with my torch. The scent of their burning flesh filled our noses as Mazlor and Lars hacked the remaining ones to pieces.

While Mazlor and Lars (and Isty, who was in awe of Mazlor’s healing powers—I’ve never heard anyone, not even Mazlor, chant “Praise be the Light!” so many times) tended to a comatose Talos, I attempted to capture the bouncing metal sphere in one of our large sacks. I fit the sack over the sphere easily enough, but immediately felt its strength. Rather than get dragged around the room, I let the sack and the sphere go. There would be other opportunities to learn more about these spheres later.

With Talos conscious at last, although pale and weakened, we made short work of examining the interior of the tower. A wrought-iron circular stair ran up the middle of the tower to the fifth—and top—floor. Small windows on that floor faced the quarter-round towers in the corners of the larger room. We found some gems in a chest in the top chamber, but—thankfully—no more worm-things. Judging the tower safe and secure, we spiked the doors shut and made camp for the night on the ground floor.

Had we not left the lantern burning, we might not have made our most significant find of the trip. Or, more accurately, we might not have been found.

It was Ralath’s ears that picked up the whispers during his watch, whispers in a musical tongue he did not understand. When he awakened me I, too, heard the whispers—and could not mistake the sound of native elven speech debating whether or not to knock on the door between us.

At this point, more than a week after my illness has passed, it is well-known in Enonia that we rescued two young elves, Avaren and Hiasur, from the dwarven mine. They were the remnants of a larger group who, many weeks or months ago, went into the mines to seal away the Dark Ones. Araven an Hiasur were sent with a contingent of six or so other elves to find the Dwarven Hall of Records. There was some kind of disaster, and this smaller group was separated from the rest of their party. They have been wandering the mines since, looking for a way out. They were weaponless and starving. How they have managed to survive boggles the mind, and they were surprised and relieved to hear that we knew a way out.

Later in the night, we heard one of the spherical, four-legged metal creatures enter the larger outside room, but we did not hear it leave. It came with another bouncing metal sphere. It was, of course, waiting for us in the morning. We prepared for it in the tower, hoping that when it attacked, it would not be able to fit through the door.

It fit through the door easily, attacking me instantly, but giving Mazlor and Lars the opportunity to flank it and attack until it, as usual, exploded with a rush of hot energy.

With almost all of us wounded in some way, and the elves weak and tired, we decided to head back.

In the large tunnel just before the way out, another guardian was waiting for us. It was accompanied by three more bouncing metal spheres. Again, it rushed us, and again we defeated it, taking more wounds, but none of us fell. The smaller spheres never attack, but since they apparently bring the guardians, they are just as dangerous.

The two giant rats waiting for us at the top of the crevasse were no challenge after the guardians, but the wounds they inflicted left me weak and feverish for days afterward.

I am not as fervent in my veneration of the Light as Isty or Mazlor, but I am grateful for the kind care I have received in the temple.

Talos and Teela, excited by the news that the elves were searching for the Hall of Records, have decided that on our next trip to the mines finding it again should be our focus. Teela has been there before, and mentioned many heavy stone tablets with dwarven writing. Talos believes whatever is written thereon could hold some key to vanquishing the Dark Ones. It will take many trips to get those tablets out of the mine, and a horse-drawn cart to get them back to Enonia. I would rather hunt goblins in the forests, but if Talos is right, then our expedition will be worthwhile.

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To Free some slaves and kill some Orcs
From Treen’s Journal

18th Day of Summer, Myself, Jorann, Mazlor, Talos, Irem, Dargellan and Oliphas, along with a multitude of hirelings and henchman set off for the hamlet to the West or Tangorin’s Tower. The going was slow, Irem had worked well at the market and with Sir Yinivax, but with a party of almost 30 and a large supply wagon there was no sneaking around! We took our horses, we may as well be somewhat comfortable.

The end of the first day saw us by the Inn, we did manage to manhandle the wagon through the woods around the Troll bridge. One of the hirelings spotted some flying creatures in the woods, naturally the two rangers went to have a look. Some while later they came back, Dargellan looking a little worse for wear, apparently these creatures were flying Kobolds that could spit poison (I thought the Kobiolds were wiped out byt the goblins….. they must have captured some and are now experimenting with them). No major harm done and we set watches and rested for the night. Two uneventful days later we arrived at the Tower, our base for the raid on the slave market.

We made camp here and then the seven of us went to observe what is happening at the hamlet, we had planned to arrive before the goblins and orcs and prepare a trap. Unfortunately as we approached we could see the smoke from campfires, our timing was wrong. We hung back and Irem went to investigate further. After some time he came back with Anya (as promised she did find us), things were clearly not as expected. We returned to camp and Anya explained there was something big happening, they had arrived some days earlier with lots of boxes, some celebration seemed to be coming soon. More unfortunately instead of being around 30 orcs and goblins, there was more like 90, a significant number being orcs. They also had roving horseback patrols consisting of 12 orcs.

After some discussion we decided to ambush one of the patrols and then wait for the goblins to leave with the humans and then take them out and rescue the prisoners. Anya knew the patrol route so befor daybreak a group of us went out to make an obvious trail across the path to lead the patrol into our ambush. This is where it gets a bit fuzzy, a lot happened quickly. Anya and Dargellan headed off to the hamlet to see what was happening, the rest of us went back to the camp to gather the troops. Having got the troops moving towards the ambush site we rode ahead. Fortunately Oliphas spotted the patrol, and gave us sufficient warning to prepare. They were extremely organized, keeping well out of spell range they surrounded us, then charged, we did get some spells off and cut the odds down but orcs on warhorses is not a good thing. Several got through and we took some damage, for somereason the leader decided to pick on me! Talos did manage to charm him which gave me time to remove myself, but he chased me. Eventually Talos, and I think Irem, tried to rush him. Then a strange thing happened, he saw them and immediately killed himself and then the few remaining orcs killed themselves. We did collect a few items, including nine warhorses.

Two orcs were asleep so we bound them and put them on horses to take back to camp, this activity did wake them. Suddenly a rather beaten up Dargellan appeared, there was no sign of Anya. He began to relay his story. He and Anya had seen two of the prisoners strung up in front of the large building and all the orcs were chanting. A shaman appeared and was clearly in the final throws of an unpleasant ceremony. Dargellan did manage to kill the Sharman with a shot through the heart (no mean feat as he must have been 150 yards away……) but not before the hearts of the two human sacrifices were ripped from their bodies (I hate orcs). Unfortunately this did stir the pot, Anya and Dargellan did manage to clear the area but were eventually found by a patrol. They were ridden down and Dargellan suffered a lot of damage in the initial charge. He told us how Anya then pushed him away, told him to run and then turned to face the reforming patrol……
We headed back to camp. Along the way one of the orcs managed to free himself and before we could stop him he rode off. We trussed up the remaining orc like a mummy, no way he was going to escape! Irem and Skallagrim had gone back to spy on the hamlet, Skallagrim returned to tell us a large party with outriders was heading our way, Irem was taunting them, but apparently nobody was giving chase. Irem retuned and said they went to the ambush site and picked up the bodies then left.

The question was no what? We knew the goblins came fro the woods and should be heading west at some point, if this was a regular occurrence then there should be a track somewhere. It was to the North. We found a suitable place for an ambush. Mazlor and Dargellan went back to the place where he and Anya had encountered the patrol. They found Anya’s headless body, our worst fears were realized, they brough it back, Anya was going to have a proper burial in Enonia. Irem watched the hamlet and after once again harassing the column came back to tell us they were on the move. We prepared out positions and waited. The weirdest thing happened, as we settled down Colgash suddenly stood up and said the earth was moving under him. Poor soul, he was sat upon two Damned. Unfortunately we could not kill them before they got Colgash. The hirelings were getting a little nervous but we calmed them down and soon we heard the goblins coming. The plan worked well, Talos entwined the front section, I put some to sleep in the middle, Mazlor and Jorann held a few and the archers significantly reduced the numbers. One of his body guards grabbed the held leader and chased after the remaining goblins who were running away. The body guard managed to rally them and during the ensuing melee I freed the captives. After some chasing Talos and Mazlor captured the leader and his bodyguards (Entangle is almost as good as Sleep).

We regrouped at the Tower and between the wagon and horses we could transport the emaciated prisoners with some ease. OUR prisoners took their place and carried the beams. We rested, fed and watered the prisoners and then made our way back to Enonia, fortunately it was free of any adventure, with a party this size and several prisoners things could have got very chaotic. As we exited the woods to the West we did spot a group of goblins tracking parallel to us who did not look happy, they left us alone but there are changes afoot.

As we headed into Enonia we met Sir Yinivax with some Royal Knights, he did not seem happy as he sighted the goblins, he knows the shaky truce is over, while he is happy we freed the human prisoners he is concerned that Enonia is now in grave danger. However, upon hearing we have a captured orc he brightens up considerably.. We handed over our prisoners and arranged to meet him shortly…. I fear some serious discussions and decisions are soon to be had.

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Off to kill some Goblins

(an extract from Treen’s journal)

I along with, Oliphas. Teela, Alana, Kee, Irem, Mazlor and Talos (a Druid who has joined our merry band of adventurers) went to rid the monastery of the deformed goblins and in particular kill the Shaman we had last seen on our trip to the crevice. After some discussion we decided to take a handful of henchmen with us to even up the numbers and prevent us from being mobbed.

We had a fairly uneventful trip to the crevice itself, four flying creatures decided to attack us, but they were quickly dispatched. On the way we did notice that the darkness pervading the monastery was dispelled in and around the room of the restored Fountain of the Light. Alas upon reaching the crevice we discovered the A-frame was totally destroyed and the ropes dropped to the bottom. Obviously from our last visit those chasing us had made their way up after us. Fortunately we had more than enough rope and tying some around the stone alter we could descend to the room below. With such a large group it took some time and clearly was difficult to be quiet.

Our original plan was to get to the upper room, cross the river and prepare traps at the tunnel entrances. Unfortunately the Goblins had other plans. As we entered the cavern and cautiously made our way through six goblins stood up on the other side of the river and started to fire crossbows at us. They were organized, working in pairs one as a loader the other to fire. Clearly our plan was ruined and we now had the prospect of a pitched battle. Fortunately we had more cover and managed to make it to the river and with our own bows we started to pick off the crossbowmen. Unfortunately more goblins appeared at the entrances of the tunnels and everything got a little crazy. We started to cross the river at the ford but it was slow going. Irem and Mazlor got across and had several goblins upon them, Irem took several serious hits before Alana could get across to heal him. The goblins kept coming, I put quite a few to sleep and Talos was liberal with his use of Faerie Fire. Soon three large mutated Goblins came out shortly followed by two more and the Shaman, who was carrying the wand we had seen before. As I readied Magic Missiles an arrow flew over my head, one of the Goblins had picked up a dropped crossbow! My Magic Missile was far more effective than I expected and immediately killed the Shaman. What happened next was even more astounding, all the goblins dropped their weapons in surrender and began to wail terribly. We quickly disarmed them and then tied them up, there was talk of killing them, but Mazlor and Alana had some misgivings about this, so we left them tied up, picking one to interrogate. Apart from the wand the Shaman had a pair of evil looking bracers, Talos did detect they were magical… food for thought!

From the Goblin we learned that the Shaman was communicating to the Master, the Goblins where being brought down from above ground to be made ‘perfect’. Apparently the journey to the darkness was by raft along the river flowing on the other side of the caves. We took the Goblin with us and he guided us through the caves showing us the living quarters of the Shaman. There we found his spell-book and a candlestick and added them to the haul. The walls were covered in old, filthy and ragged tapestries – they looked like they had been taken from the monastery above.

We headed to the river through the caves and came across two rafts, unfortunately they would only carry six each, so we sent three henchmen back to the cave with the goblin. We divided the party between the boats. the river was fast flowing so Teela and Kee manned the poles of the rafts. After some time and a rather turbulent ride we saw a web strung across the river. Teela and Kee did an excellent job in stopping the rafts. We tried to burn the web with torches, while it burnt the effect was minimal. Suddenly a wicked looking spider appeared by Kee, strangely it was on its back. Oliphas was about to strike when it disappeared again. Suddenly it re-appeared and lunged for Kee, fortunately missing her. As we struck at it Oliphas took off one of its legs, sending green sticky goo everywhere. Unfortunately this did not kill it and now it seemed enraged and Oliphas became the target. He would have been bitten had he not got his shield in the way at the last minute. The effect would have been fatal judging by the fate of the shield, it burnt up. We struck it some more (I tried to at least) and managed to kill it. We made a big enough hole in the web to get through and carried on. Eventually the river slowed down and we appeared to be in a vast expanse rather than tunnel. We explored the area and found it to be a large cavern, with a tunnel opposite the entrance we had come into. As we explored more we discovered a landing area and a cliff and then some of the large mushrooms. Some of the party thought they knew were this was, others were not sure. Oliphas pointed out it was getting late in the day and we should be heading back, not exploring more.

A long haul back up the river and we made it back to the landing stage. As we headed back to the cavern where we left the goblins tied up and our trusty henchmen we heard the goblins wailing again, this time it sounded happy rather than sad – the sounds of fighting could also be heard, not good signs. We rushed on to discover three mud demons, like the ones we have met before. We attacked them, normal weapons did not bother them and we soon discovered that if you sliced them up they just reformed. Teela put his hand in one to grab the jewel, unfortunately it reformed around him and he was temporarily trapped. Talos and one of the henchmen grappled this one and they eventually managed to push it into the river, where it was washed away. The other two were finally dispatched permanently by Alana’s Spiritual Hammer. Sadly the three henchmen we had left behind were dead.

I must sit down and talk to Teela about those Shaman items, perhaps we should see Parabellum?

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