View Full Version : Journal Darkhold. A custom AD&D 2E campaign

2018-12-11, 11:52 PM
This journal is up to date. We have bi-weekly sessions and I will try to update it as soon afterwards as I can. I am happy to answer any questions. Please let me know what you think! Enjoy :)

Background (the short version): Norath is a country whose bulk lays across the great river to the North, with the land of Darkhold being only a small strip of land on the south eastern tip of it. Norath was settled in approximately 90 AC (After Cataclysm). It was founded by a group of Argethian sailors whose ship was dashed on its rocky shores as they were exploring the continent's coastline farther north than had been previously done. Over a period of nearly 500 years the country of Norath grew from a small settlement to several dozen large cities spread over a huge swath of land.

In the year 570 AC from across the great sea to the East came a ship unlike any that had seen before. Its arrival proved to be an ominous event. It held the advance heralds of an impending army. Soon the Blackcloacks began to arrive, several thousand at a time. They immediately began a systematic invasion of Norath. The war lasted nearly 20 years as the Norathian people proved quite resilient in their defense of home and land. In the end, the Blackcloak's spellcasters proved too much and Norath was placed under the yolk of the Blackcloaks. Soldiers were garrisoned in every town and their people were placed in roles of leadership as the invaders began to suck dry the wealth of Norath.

Three years have passed since the war finally ended and the last of the resistance squashed.

2018-12-11, 11:55 PM
There are currently five of us, and two of us (Barton's and Gormless's players) have been here from the beginning. I am copying directly from our sheets on Roll20, so please forgive any errors or omissions on my part.

Current characters

Gormless (me): Human Druid

Gormless is the nickname given to a child who walked into town several years ago. He was alone, and no one knows where he came from or who his family might have been. He was taken in by an orphanage, but quickly withdrew into himself after severe abuse from other, older children. Gormless never fit in with any of the others, instead deciding to wander the area of Darkhold by himself. This has led him to be injured many times in his life, and he has not healed from many of them (limp, missing fingers, etc). It was his encounter with a starving wild dog that cost him his two fingers, as he foolishly attempted to feed it. Ironically, this is what awoke his interest in becoming a druid. Under the tutelage of Vernonia, he has become a slightly more open and friendly person, but still lags behind most normal people in his social skills. He also is still working on trusting Dreymond, as the latter used to practice Charm Person spells on him as a prank. Most of his waking hours are spent isolated in the most difficult to reach places near Darkhold.

Barton Sultana: Human Fighter

Born to a semi-poor farming family in a neighboring township, Barton was shipped off to live with his grandfather and his Aunt when he was 13. While working in the tavern/inn, he also took up the local guard up on their training program.

Mardok: Halfling Rogue

Son of a merchant's daughter and a man of ill-gotten gains, Mardok fell in with a group of street thugs after his mother's death. He learned it was better to take from the rich and soon found himself helping another group on their journey. The journey, fraught with dangers, brought him more perils and pain and loss of companions each day. Yet he had to go onward. He had a job to do (even if it was dodging the tails of creatures many times his size). He swallows his fears to help his friends

Taewulf: Elf Ranger

Awaiting bio


Umgarn's mother was pregnant with him when the cataclysm occurred. She wasn't yet aware of it and was visiting the city at the time. Nearly all of the rest of her clan perished. The only thing that gave her the will to overcome her despondency was the realization that she was with child.

Umgarn grew up in a world where every day was a struggle, yet his mother still found a way to bring moments of joy to him. He occasionally can be a prankster or flippant, when his duty can be set aside. When duty calls, he is all business.

Umgarn's mother, Dovona, was an early member of the Cult of War and Umgarn took up the beliefs as well. Umgarn has seen humans grow old and die and knows their lives are more transient than those of his race. It has given him an odd perspective and he will prioritize saving the young over the old. He takes a longer look at strategy, however and knows that the young must have someone to raise them.

Umgarn is a faithful member of the Cult of War and lives a frugal life. He rarely drinks alcohol, even when his comrades in arms are relieving stress, as he sees it as a waste of resources. He Carrie's everything he owns with him, except for a few small trinkets his mother keeps.

The Menagerie

"Squire" Leopold: Male Squirrel

Found alone on the road by Bellamin and Alistine, Squire Lee was delivered to the nearest person who might be able to heal him. Gormless is working to raise him and growing up a lot himself in the process. He also hasn't bothered to name him, planning to ask his friend what he wants his name to be whenever he can remember to do so.

Squire Lee loves nuts, they are his favorite thing. Ever. Of all time.

Eventually Gormless remembered to ask his little friend what he wanted to be named. He chose to be called Leopold with Squire as his official rank within the group. He always establishes that he is the boss animal of the group with any new additions to Gormless's horde.

Humphrey: Male Hummingbird.

A bird. Companion of Gormless

Cinnamon: Female Rabbit

A bun. Companion of Gormless

Retired players

Dreymond Dawson: Human Druid

Tahm Corbray: Human Bard

Rhorja S'Ein: Half-Elf Wizard

Rhorja is 14 years old, very smart, curious, sensitive, nerdy and bookish. Also teased, marginalized, profoundly lonely, and deeply bitter in a way he cannot even acknowledge. He has has a tough life so far, having been born the son of a young seamstress girl and a marauding Blackcloak soldier who cornered her one night as she was closing the store. Everyone knows this, and they whisper about his obvious half-breeding behind his back, when he is lucky. Though his mother loves him he is the living reminder of her dumb luck and an advertisement for her shame. Rhorja would like to ask her if, knowing the boy he has become, she would change what happened that night. He never will though, because its simply not fair. What could she do but lie?

The seamstress with the bastard half-breed son married whom she could; the foul-tempered village gravedigger. Rhorja’s step-father would drink and hit a wall, or the table, or his mother, or him, but mostly him. He explained to the boy that his very existence has ruined his mother’s life, and was now ruining his. This simple truth in contrast to his mother’s comforting lie was a revelation, and a nightly beating seem like a necessary social good. Then one night his step father drank but only wanted to talk; about death and the quiet simplicity of it, about the honor of completion, all things that only the gravedigger and the dead know. He claimed that death was a sort of gift, and later that night he smashed Rhorja’s kneecap with a shovel while the boy slept, presumably aiming for his skull, and presumably thinking it was a present for them all.

The next weeks were spent in the healer’s tent, who tried to mend his leg so that he could walk normally again but failed; it turns out the grave digger knows how to swing a shovel. The kids that didn’t tease him for being a half-breed now teased him for being a cripple. His mother retreated into her dismal life with her new husband, because what else could she do? The only person to reach into his pain and depression was Anoji, the old spell caster hermit, who sought him out in the dark one evening and claimed by the side of his bed that the boy was done with one life, and ready for another. There was nothing left of his old life for him here, he claimed, so the boy was to find him in the woods as soon as he could walk again. “There is a light in you that won’t extinguish, even if it should. That’s all I need” he said and shuffled off into the darkness.

So he went to live and finish healing with the hermit. It was true what the old man said; if anyone noticed he was gone at all, it was with feint relief, like a wound had healed. He didn’t belong there anymore, he belonged to this new world of mysticism and illusion and things we do not see but, if properly trained, we can control little pieces of. Anoji taught him confidence in his intellect, that there is power in books and learning, and that one’s past matters very little to their future. He taught the boy to walk again with a staff, "like a grand old wizard should." He taught him that pain has value and strength to be harnessed. He taught him basic magics. He taught the boy the charm person spell, and shortly thereafter his step-father was seen climbing the steep slate roof of his home in the driving rain, something no sane person would do. His neighbors yelled for him to come down but he seemed not to hear them as he negotiated one slippery step after another. When he fell he landed on his back, impaled on a fence post in the chicken coup below, with enraged hens pecking at this side as the blood filled his lungs and the life left his eyes. Everyone agreed it was a senseless tragedy, except the boy, who thought that perhaps, in a weird way, this was a present to them all…

That night, Anoji woke him from a sound, deep sleep, and told him:
“You may stay here and walk a dark path, wherein you use this new power to fill the holes in your heart, knowing full well they will always ache. This path is short and easy and ends in ruin. This was my path"
"Or, you may use this new power to leave. Leave the past and this hovel and your hurt and your crippling behind and go. Make something mighty of yourself. Make a man your mother would be proud of. This path is difficult and will take the rest of your life and I don’t know where it ends because I could never walk it. Can you?"

That was 5 months ago. The boy has been learning, getting steadier on his bad leg, and trying out his new spells on everything and everyone he can. He is smiling again. He is confident. He has a pack open on his bedroll, as though he is starting to pack for a long trip.

Bellamin Fletcher: Human Bard

Daring, charming, always a nuisance. Bellamin Fletcher, resident Bard at your service. I'll play a tune while Alistine empties your pockets. If we get caught, I'll talk my way out. Bellamin has always struggled to do what's right and provide for himself and Alistine, a relationship that sort of grew out of a long childhood friendship. His father was a solider, died fighting the Black Cloaks some years past. His mother disappeared one day, ran off on one of her drunken bouts no doubt. He's never been alone though, Alistine has always been there. Will always be there, and him for her. Young kids with nowhere to go, nobody to feed them, quickly leads them down the path of crime. Two of 'em working together makes it easy, especially when they're as charismatic as Bellamin. A quick song or two makes a simple, yet effective, distraction.

Alistine Gellantara: Human Thief (Deceased)

Wherever Bellamin is, I'm not far behind. Charming in her own way, but mostly leaves that up to Bellamin who has a knack for getting them out of trouble. She lived with her grandmother, Nerisora, until the age of 12, who died from a combination of a broken heart and illness. Alistine's mother died in childbirth and her father was never in the picture. Although she has no family, she's never alone with Bellamin always at her side. Bellamin’s father was like the son Alistine’s grandmother never had, she cared for Bellamin when his father was at war and his mother was off on a drunken rampage (again). After the death of her daughter and Bellamin’s father, Nerisora was never quite the same. She died shortly after receiving the news of his death.

Adorellan Taltaur: Elf Fighter/Mage

My life has been a simple one thus far. The only not so simple thing about is life in the mountains. The mountains are a remote region of the land, a home away from home. It can be a dangerous place but it is the only place that I can call home.

My early life was difficult. Being raised in such a harsh place wasn't easy. From such an early age, I had to be pulling my own weight and doing what I could to help our own little village thrive and survive. At first, it wasn't much. A chore here, a chore there, something that would allow me to contribute a little.

However, as I grew older, the tasks became greater and more meaningful, especially as I began to discover who I was. As a child, I loved fashioning 'swords' from what little stick there were around the place and have play fights with some of the other children. At such an early age, I seemed to show quite a bit of proficiency with these 'swords' but many suspected that was just because I was an Elf and that it is apparently an innate thing.

Not so much in this case.

Years later, I began training with actual weapons. Longswords and Daggers were the starting point and it was definitely clear that I knew how to handle them effectively. So much for it being because I was an Elf. Although, as time went by, I figured that could be just as true.

Several more years later found beginning to have a keen interest in Arcane magics. I don't know what compelled me to look into such intricate writings, but something did. For hours a day, I would spend my time pouring over tomes, the so few that were available, learning all that I could, practicing the simplest of cantrips and the simplest of spells.

It was at this point that something was revealed to me. It was at this point when I was ready to take control of my life that I learnt something interesting.

My village was apparently trading partners with a nearby Kobold village. This struck me as very odd and peculiar at first, but when I went to the village myself to do so trading on behalf of my village, it was not so bad. They were very welcoming, understanding and willing to help me prepare for the return journey to my village.

However, I was not wanting to go back yet. I had also been told of the growing threat of Orcs and wanted to investigate it myself. I set out north, explaining that I was simply going on a hunting trip. This 'trip' ended up bringing me far to the north, leaving me several hours from the Kobold village.

That was when I saw a column of smoke rising from near the village...worry and panic wormed its way into my being. Had the Kobold village been attacked and destroyed?

I feared for the worst and immediately began making my way back as quickly and cautiously as I could, completely unaware of the surprise that was going to be awaiting me there...

Urhzal: Human Cleric (Deceased)

Sold by my parents after a particularly bad mining accident took my father's arm and he couldn't work anymore. I was old enough to remember being sold to the Seekers, and don't really hold a lot of ill will towards my family for what they did. After all, my life would never have been this full of learning, and uncovering the hidden secrets of the world if thy hadn't.
I soaked up the training and desire to learn as though I were parched earth and it lifegiving moisture. I gained a deep craving to learn, explore, and protect those who were Seeking.
I was sent to find one such brother, the other half of my team, Pretaria who was taken months ago.

2018-12-11, 11:57 PM
Subtitle: Chance encounters

Alternate title: Barton takes a bath

The village of Darkhold goes about its ceaseless, daily routine. The day is just on the verge of getting dark as the late summer sun starts to touch the horizon. The various children of the village, most being without parents, are all studying or apprenticing under the adults. Rhorja neglects his duties tending a brewing potion to lead a group of bored Blackcloaks into the river chasing a illusory rabbit. The aged wizard Anoji is upset at the ruination of his potion and scolds the boy upon his return. He sends Rhorja off in search of more ingredients. Which he doesn't do. Instead he hides and begins to re-memorize his spell to have more fun at the cloak's expense. He fails to complete THIS task as well when several cries of alarm ring out from the Southern road. A group of the younger children were playing by the river when two of them got swept away by the current.

Wasting no time, several members of the village raced out to the river to effect a rescue. The younger kids lead the group to the far end of the lake. They tell the group that their minder, Yoneth, had gone racing off after the two that had fallen in and had come back to the village at his instructions. The strapping young lad Barton wades into the river and is also overcome. Finding a silver lining in his predicament, he reasons that this might be a very effective way to find out where the missing children went and allows himself to be carried away.

The others shake their heads and start making their way down the river on foot because drowning doesn't hold much of an appeal to them. After a short chase, they find Barton submerged under water and struggling to breathe. They make a human chain and fish him out just before he goes unconscious.

After a short recovery period, they are off again in search of the two children. The sun starts to set, and Rhorja leads the group along with keen elf's eyes. As they move through a thickening forest, another shout in the distance leads them to Yoneth. The boy is in a bad way. He is surrounded by a wolf pack and is severely injured. Barton charges straight into battle to help his friend. Dreymond (one of the druidic apprentices that joined the search) drinks a potion and immediately starts vomiting. It seems the potion was meant to be applied to a weapon, not imbibed... After a tough fight the group manages to fend off the wolves, sending them yelping back into the forest.

They leave Yoneth to head back to the main group still at the lake and continue on. Barton takes Yoneth's sword in case they run into more trouble. After a brief search they come across a body. It is child-sized but not one of the children and turns out to be a Goblin. Attempting to follow some tracks that lead away from the body, Barton again ends up in the river and is swept away. This time he manages to pull himself out before needing rescuing again. A young lass named Tahm who has been with the search party so far falls in shortly after while also crossing the stream. Thus the third of their four torches has been soaked through (Barton lost two during his swims). They return to the body and discover more tracks. After a short debate they decide to follow the ones that lead away from the river.

After a short journey, they come upon a cave dwelling. Inside they find evidence of inhabitants, mostly due to the smell. Yet more debating ensues and they decide to explore deeper inside. A goblin flees at their approach but luckily Rhorja had memorized a Charm spell and they convinced the aged goblin that they were here as friends. Her name turns out to be Mitzini and she is very nice to them, offering them hospitality in the form of some bony fish drying on a rack for dinner, They politely decline (not wanting a repeat of what happened to the poor druid earlier). She informs the group that she is waiting for her mate, Ankmin to return from the river with more fish. As the realization of whose body they had found sinks in they turn the conversation to the missing children. She hasn't seen them, only the scaly ones that live in a deeper part of the cave behind a collapsed tunnel. The group is worried at the new threat but can do nothing about it and leave her there to find out her partner's fate on her own.

Finally they get on the right track by stumbling across a hole in the ground that the kids had seemingly fallen into. A very worrying discovery indeed as they determine that it is right about where the "Scaly ones" should be. Barton tries to go three for three in the falling Olympics and manages to succeed when Tahm also climbs onto the weak vines with him still descending. They both drop and land in a heap. Not wanting to end up a broken mess (especially with a bad leg) Rhorja and another boy named Dreymond head off in search of either a rope or an alternate entrance. Instead they find Gormless! He has been faffing about in the bushes this entire time and is completely oblivious to the crisis. That doesn't stop him from immediately jumping in to help the effort, however.

During this happy encounter, Tahm and Barton explore the cavern and in the distance hear a scream. A child's scream... Barton being who he is, immediately draws his sword and charges to the defense of the children. Tahm is not far behind him. The scream came from Chad (one of the two children) who had just seen Anna (the other) get snatched by something in the dark. As he says this he also disappears into the dark and goes silent. Barton rushes forward and in the light of his torch he sees two scaly creatures dragging Chad behind them. Tahm catches up and with a gasp of recognition yells, "Kobolds!" Her cry echoes down the tunnel to where Rhorja, Dreymond, and Gormless are still searching for a way to reach the others. Dreymond, finally shaking off the lingering mental cobwebs from the ingested potion, turns some vines into a bridge which they use to cross the void.

The Kobolds confront Barton and Tahm and tell them that they do not belong in this place. Barton attempts to talk them down by claiming that the children don't belong here either and that he would happily take them away and not return. It doesn't back down. With a swipe of his sword Barton fells the creature and frees Anna. The other Kobold flees with Chad and raises an alarm. Yips and growls fill the air in a chorus of anger. Anna cowers at the sound. Tahm draws upon her musical talents to soothe the girl while the others go be heroes. Barton once again gives chase, only pausing to grab the axe of the dead Kobold as he passes.

Barton ends up in a large cavern with over a dozen Kobolds who feel that with their advantage in numbers the boy cannot possibly pose a threat. They are all carrying some form of mining implement and are spoiling for a fight. He pauses and again tries to talk the creatures down (and hoping to buy more time for the others to arrive). The three do manage to reach Tahm at about that time. Gormless finally grasps what is happening and gives a loud animalistic roar as he rushes ahead in hopes of startling the enemy. Rhorja takes Anna from Tahm and leads her out of the cave.

Gormless manages to catch up to Barton just as three of the Kobolds surround him. One of these jabs at Barton and draws blood, which sets the rest of them into frenzied motion at the sight. Barton reluctantly swipes at them more to keep them at a distance than actually injure them. Dreymond arrives and rummages around in his pack, looking for something useful. Gormless manages to slip past the crowd at the mouth of the cavern and make it over to Chad. Gormless is truly reluctant to even injure anyone during this rescue and hopes that by evacuating the youth this situation can end in a relatively bloodless retreat. His naiveté costs him as he is eventually forced to slay one of the Kobolds that attempts to recapture Chad. In fact he skewers it straight through the chest (no small feat with a scimitar).

Barton and Dreymond are barely fending off the rest of the Kobolds, still not really dealing any damage even on the rare occasions they connect. As the rest of the pack move in and cut off any escape a shout rings out from the back of the cavern and everybody freezes at the commanding tone. The shaman in charge of this mining venture makes his presence felt as Barton, Dreymond, and Chad become transfixed at the pretty, dancing lights hovering in the air. But Gormless is made of sterner stuff and quickly tosses the boy over his shoulder and limps away. He shakes the Barton and Dreymond awake as he passes. They understand not to waste the gift they have just received and leave without a fuss. As they pass out of the tunnel it collapses behind them to bar their reentry.

Regrouping at the hole that had given Tahm and Barton so much trouble the group takes stock. While they had a few scrapes and bruises between them there didn't appear to be any major injuries. A small miracle at the odds they had faced. As their voices echoed in the chasm more voices could be heard above. They called out and were relieved to see the face of Trivike, the village ranger. He just stares in stunned disbelief that these five managed to find the missing children before he himself did. Once they have all been evacuated from the hole, the group gets a hero's welcome and the praise of the Blackcloak Sergeant, Harold Ingmar. Chad is the Sergeant's son and he was sick with worry. As the group relates their tale, Trivike makes a hshing motion not to mention the Kobolds in the cave, but Chad informs his father of the "monsters in the dark". Barton is an honest youth and confirms this to be true.

Withdrawing from the uncomfortably large crowd, Gormless finds a secluded space and breaks down weeping. He feels awful about taking a life in combat. He wasn't as hidden as he thought and the rest of the group approaches him awkwardly. Gormless is adamant that killing those Kobolds was wrong and the rest of the group try hard to make him see the good he had down in the rescue. They slowly make their way back to the celebrating village bantering the entire way. Yoneth joins them as they walk and Barton returns the sword to him. Gormless even manages to crack a small joke about Barton's ability to hit anything with it. The group parts ways as darkness washes over the village.

End Adventure 1.

2018-12-11, 11:59 PM
Subtitle: Poetic justice

Alternate title: Battle of the bards

Tahm's recounting of the encounter in the cave has made the five of them minor celebrities in the village. Rhorja and Gormless avoid the limelight as best as they can (Rhorja by studying and Gormless by faffing about in the bushes like always). Barton is hard at work with chores and sword lessons.

After a brief meeting in the smithy Sergeant Ingmar tasks Gormless with finding Trivike as he is awaiting the ranger's scouting report on the worrying Kobold mine. Concurrently to this, Rhorja witnesses the strange dis-apparation of his mentor, Anoji. "Murkness, darkness everywhere!" He cries as he disappears. Rhorja searches the hut for a while in total confusion at this. While odd things happen to the old wizard all of the time this is something completely new. And now there is no one in the village with the knowledge to explain what might have happened. Also happening: Barton starts to cut wood for the inn. None of them can complete their respective tasks because a horn sounds in the distance. It is a summon to all of the Blackcloaks in the area. The latest supply shipment from the nearby town of Ellisport has not arrived as scheduled.

Most of the village comes outside to await the news that the horn brings. Soon they are greeted by seven soldiers limping through the gate all covered in a variety of bruises and cuts. These soldiers were not on a mere supply run but bringing in the weekly pay for the Blackcloaks and miners of the village, i.e., most of the population of the town. Barton and Rhorja move within eavesdropping distance of the group and listen in. They were ambushed along the road by a ragtag group of farmers and had the pay stolen. Two of their number perished in the defense. Sergeant Ingmar is disgusted. He glances around and catches sight of Barton. The Sergeant orders him to finding Gormless to help track down the thieves as no one has seen Trivike yet and there is no one else as skilled on hand. Barton does this and Rhorja goes to find Tahm in hopes that her *ahem* talents will prove useful. Mostly he just wants an excuse to spend time with her. She agrees when me mentions there is a good possibility that Barton might end up in the river yet again!

Gormless isn't too certain of his ability to track such a chaotic scene but agrees to help anyway. The four of them gather in the town common and prepare to depart with the Sergeant. They mount up and ride out. Barton expresses some reluctance at the thought of such a small group going after a band that defeated nine Cloaks but the Sergeant dismisses him. "If they are truly smart they wouldn't hang around the site of the ambush. It would be too easy to send a platoon after them. I suspect they are long gone." Sgt. Ingmar further expresses his opinion of the caravan's commander, Sgt. Akmoore (namely, that he is a weasel of a man and the circumstances of the raid are suspicious. Hence bringing a tracker along.)

Soon they reach the site of the downed tree. Gormless confirms that the tree was downed intentionally by a rope tied to it fairly high up. He finds a few sets of tracks leading away from the tree and stumbles across one of the horses used to pull it down. It is tame and he leads it back to the group (being a druid has some advantages!) As he returns the group hears another horse whinnying in distress from a ridge to the West. More sets of tracks lead them to an ambush that Gormless walks straight into (being a druid has some disadvantages!) A bolas smashes into his face as he examines a dying horse tied to a tree. Fortunately Rhorja was paranoid about this exact situation and had a magic missile sizzling at his fingertips and lets it fly at the massive, 7-foot-tall bugbear. Barton decides to yell like a banshee hoping to frighten it but it is far too stupid for such tricks and just ignores him. It DOES manage to draw out the remaining four goblins to join the fight.

I smash bones and drink you blood!" laughs the bugbear as it swings its club into the side of an accompanying Blackcloak. The sound breaking ribs can be heard almost back to town. The man somehow remains standing but is of little use for the rest of the battle. Barton takes advantage of the lack of attention in his direction and slashes viciously at the bugbear. Rhorja takes advantage of Barton's large frame and uses him to hide behind. Sgt Ingmar takes advantage of Barton's attack and fells the creature in one final strike. And just like that the battle is over. The goblins are disheartened by the quick dispatch of their leader and flee. Gormless decides not to attack them as the run by. Rhorja doesn't fail to notice this and won't forget about the perceived lack of conviction on the druid's part. But all in all the group acquitted themselves well and escaped without much harm. As they recover, Gormless does what he can to heal the wounded Blackcloak who fell unconscious as the adrenaline wore off. The only thing of interest they find on the bugbear is a beautiful purple gem. Barton pockets it with permission from the others (Gormless has no interest in money or trinkets, Rhorja will wait to see what it is worth before deciding what to do with it, and Tahm seems to have lost her voice).

A short time later they have managed to clear the road and get the wagon moving towards town again. They have carefully wrapped the bodies of the two young guards slain in the initial attack and are bringing those back as well to transport back to their families in nearby Merrin for proper burials. As the party travels along in somber silence Gormless manages to spot movement in a row of bushes ahead of them. A closer look tells him that it is none other than the two oldest kids from the village, Bellamin and Alistine. Which is not a surprise as they are never far apart and never far from trouble. He tells the others to stand down. "False alarm, it is those other two kids, I forget their names."

Bellamin and Alistine stepped out of the bushes with a theatrical flourish. "Guess I wasn't quiet enough," he says to her. "I told you they would hear us!" is her reply. "You never are," Gormless mumbles to himself. Rhorja just looks between the Tahm and Bellamin as they trade barbs and mourns the loss of a quiet afternoon. One bard is bad enough, but two? A short bit of banter later and Bellamin reveals their purpose. A baby squirrel, injured and near death. The duo had hoped a druid could save its life and had spotted Gormless heading this way earlier. He agrees to do what he can but feels it is best to take it straight to his mentor for the best chance of survival. The Sergeant finally has his fill of the delay and gets the group moving again. He dumps it into her confused hands and bolts out the door to the others. Her raised voice stops him dead in his tracks and he returns, sheepishly. "You just drop it off and run?" she queries. He relates what he knows and shes spends some time instructing the boy in caring for his new friend.

Meanwhile, Rhorja finds all of the uproar over a little rodent and goes back to his master's hut to see if the old man had reappeared yet. The two young lovers follow Rhorja hoping to glean more information on the wagon but end up being convinced to help the wizard figure out what happened to Anoji that morning. Alistine and Rhorja each eye the other and quietly decide that the other may just be a sociopath and need watching. Cautiously they enter the hut and find it undisturbed. Rhorja warns Alistine that there is nothing of value to steal. "I know, I've already tried," he quips. Which is enough to make Ali a little more at ease with the standoffish boy. At a loss for what to do next, they decide to ask Vernonia what she might be able to tell them. Her eyes go dim with memory. "I have not spoken to him since before the war broke him. He has been but a shadow of his former self." She gets a few more details of the events surrounding Anoji's disappearance but can make nothing of them. Her magics are different from his. "But I do know what happened in the war, just North of here in the city of Sethkar." She calls Gormless in from tending his new ward and relates the tale...

"The great city of Sethkar sits now in ruins, but once it was a proud and mighty city. It was dominated by a massive stone bridge that spanned the river at close to 600 feet long. This bridge is the only overland route from the main Norathian empire to the lands of Darkhold. The city became a hotly contested battleground as the Blackcloaks swept across the lands of Norath. In a desperate measure the bridge was partially destroyed to prevent the Blackcloak's advance, but they had powerful battlemages at their disposal. Anoji and two other mages combined their power and a great battle was fought over Sethkar. Powerful magics were unleashed that night, visible all the way to the old keep just up the road. After the battle, the two mages who joined Anoji had vanished, assumed to have been destroyed in the conflict. The entire city lay in ruins. Anoji's badly injured body was found several days later in the plains North of here. His sight was gone and his mind seemingly broken as all he could do was stutter incomplete words or thoughts. The ruins of Sethkar exhibited many strange properties in the months to follow, leaving both the Blackcloaks and the locals to avoid the place entirely.
"What sort of properties?" Bellamin asks.
"People stepping through open doorways to emerge on the other side as a puddle of blood and meat as their insides are suddenly turned outside"
Rhorja is stunned at the revelation. They resorted to transplanar magic. They were desperate enough to risk the tearing of this world...
"So it's an arcane trauma that he may be drawn back to. Pulled back, even." he muses.

With that, the group goes off to find Barton and Tahm to talk all of this through. As they depart, Vernonia has one last warning for them, "Be wary of who you speak to about Anoji. While there are others here about who know his past, many do not. Most simply think of him as an addled old man with a few dwindling bits of magic in his enfeebled body. The local Blackcloaks especially do not know of his role in the war and I trust you all to keep it that way!" On their way to the tavern they encounter Trivike, who waves Rhorja over. Rhorja is amazed that the ranger even knows he exists. "Young S'Ein, I have some items I wish for you to give to your master, Anoji. I recovered them from the cave where you rescued Chad and Annie last week." He hands the boy two pieces of parchment. Rhorja doesn't believe in the coincidence of this and examines the scrolls. On them is some form of Draconic script. Trivike slips off into the night as the group crowds around Rhorja.

Barton had returned to the inn and was immediately inundated with all of the work he missed while he was off playing detective. The tavern is packed with Blackcloaks. Even their leader Major Marcus is among them and is nearly blind with the amount of ale he has consumed. The sot even tries to underpay Barton who just rolls with it and as the night wears on starts switching out their change for useless currency he found on the bugbear. Tahm is on-stage entertaining the crowd to lots of raucous cheering. As she makes her way around the room, she is accosted by a couple of particularly drunk cloaks. Bellamin and Alistine enter at this point (Rhorja having too much on his mind and Gormless avoids crowds in general) just in time to see the crowd get rowdy and wade into the middle of it. Alistine tells the cloak grabbing Tahm to let go and gets an elbow in the gut for her efforts. Barton also attempts to get them calm and lead them outside but ends up taking a blow as well. All of the guards stand together as a unit now and are spoiling for a fight. Alistine pulls her dagger and again makes her demand. "Let. Her. Go." The tavern erupts, with the miners jumping up in defense of the ladies and the cloaks drawing steel as well. Fortunately Sgt. Akmoore arrives just in time and orders everyone to stand down. Sgt Ingmar also arrives and helps defuse the situation. Barton offers to take the punishment as it was his fault the men were so drunk. Major Marcus and Sgt Akmoore lead their men to the barracks to discuss the matter with Sgt Ingmar in private but not before promising that the two who drew weapons on them would be punished in the morning. Tahm thanks them for their assistance. Alistine waves it off, "I'm hot tempered, what can I say?" Barton shakes his head, bewildered that these two would bare weapons on a roomful of heavily armed and inebriated guards.

Tahm returns to the stage and resumes like nothing had happened. As the night winds down the various members of the town all drift towards bed. The night air is chilly. The next day did not hold the promise of peace...

End Adventure 2.

2018-12-12, 12:01 AM
Subtitle: Out of sight, out of mind

Alternate title: Rhorja experiments with mushrooms

A strange, warbling bird call pierces the dawn air and draws the attention of Sergeant Ingmar and Gormless (for different reasons). Ingmar casually strolls off into the bush. Gormless makes his own path into the forest hoping it is a new animal he can befriend. What he hears instead is a language he can almost make out. It is a conversation in Elvish between the ranger, Trivike, and the Sergeant. Gormless attempts to imitate the call to see how they react but is quickly caught by Ingmar. The man smiles when he sees the boy, not totally displeased with the intrusion. It was his intention to find him and the rest of the group and send them out of town and away from trouble for a spell. The druid agrees and runs back to the village to gather the others.

True to his word, Sergeant Akmoore is on the prowl for Bellamin and Alistine the next morning. He spies Barton as he does his morning chores and calls him over. "Those two brats that drew steel on my men last night, you will tell me their names." "I don't know their names, Sergeant. But I do know where they can be found. If you would like to leave a few of your men behind I can show you where they are likely to be. I know you are a busy man" Barton replies as he thinks about all of those defenseless farmers the man is probably on his way to extort. Akmoore leaves two men behind and gives Gormless a contemptuous look as the filthy child runs up to Barton. Gormless relays the message about the work and goes off to find Rhorja. Barton sets about tracking down Bellamin and Alistine and offers to let them hide in his room. They scoff at the woefully inadequate hiding spot but agree to meet with the group just outside of town. Tahm has lost all interest in adventuring and declines to join the group, leaving it up to the five of them.

Rhorja had spent his morning visiting the local cleric to see if she can shed any light on Anoji's disappearance. The only thing she could tell him was that it had happened before and that he had reappeared on his own a few weeks later and refused to say a word about it. Another mage had tried unsuccessfully to heal him and had come away from the experience changed himself. Anoji's mind seems to be fractured, compartmentalized, and on multiple planes of existence all at once. The only other help she could offer was in the form of a minor divination spell that she could help prepare with the proper ingredients. He considers this, thanks her, and returns to the hut. With no one in the village able to help with Anoji he decides to try translating the scrolls to occupy his mind. Gormless intrudes on his musings a few hours later and Rhorja happily agrees to come along.

As they converged on the village square at midday, they noticed the large caravan of wagons and crowd of miners preparing them. Three Gnomes were also hovering around as part of the expedition. Their leader introduced himself as Snertlingmarengiren. They are engineers who are there to assess the mine. After a short time Snert gives a sharp whistle and the miners start pulling the wagons. Gormless leads the group back to the mine with Bellamin and Alistine joining them on the way. Eventually they reach the mine and Barton, Aistine, and the miners set up camp. Bellamin questions Gormless about plants and Rhorja about magic. Both intentionally perplex him so they can go back to what they were doing (which was scouting and being snarky, respectively). Gormless finds a decent entrance for the carts. They decide it would be best to wait to enter the cave in the morning and set up next to the hole. The group pesters Snert to teach them some Gnomish. The night passes without event and the next morning they descend into the cave. As they debate who gets to go first (except for Rhorja), Bellamin grabs the rope and jumps in.

He proceeds to loot as much of the small cavern he finds at the bottom as possible as the others slowly climb down the rope. He sets off a trap and suffers minor burns for his trouble. As they all spread out, they find ruts in the ground and follow them to a collapsed entrance that will allow the carts access to the mine without being lowered. Snert is excited at the find and immediately gets to work planning the logistics of making a hole through it. Alistine also sets off a trap, this time a poison one. Rhorja fortunately has some plants that will help and applies those to the wound. Barton and Gormless keep exploring while the two lovers bicker about how to best open the chest while Rhorja watches them, bemused (he has done his one good deed for the week and feels no need to help further). Barton and Gormless squeeze through another small cave-in and come back to the area where Tahm had fallen in during their last visit. Now that they are back in familiar territory the group gathers together and at the last unexplored area: a deep crevasse. They descend into it and encounter a strange mold that explodes when warmed. So they need to find a way to kill it with cold. Alistine opines that if Bellamin stands close enough to it his heart will do the trick. They are having issues, it seems.

Bellamin and Alistine go back to Snert to see if he has anything that can help them. Basking in the quiet, the others check out the rest of the area still accessible. They find a skeleton, and a cave fisher. It decides that Barton would make a tasty snack and snares the young man as he examines the skeleton. Rhorja's magic missile doesn't do much more than make it angry and it proceeds to haul Barton off into the darkness. Barton eventually manages to struggle free and proceeds to take his revenge. Gormless tries to make friends with it to no avail (probably because Barton is hacking it to pieces). Bellamin and AListine hear the battle and manage to rejoin the group just in time to see Rhorja smack it to death with his staff.

They dissect it after a short bit of trouble where nearly all of their weapons get stuck to the web. Among the treasures they find are a nicely balanced sword for Barton and some guts for Rhorja to experiment with. The viscera of the creature helps get everything unstuck. Bellamin brings back some acid from the Gnomes just in time for it to not be useful. Oh, well. "...Alright. Wake me up when I can be moderately useful," he says and sits. And quickly stands as he realizes he can use the fisher's web as a rope once all of the adhesive is washed off. Then he gets his hands stuck to it and needs help. Gormless dumps a bunch of guts on his hands and lets Bellamin do the rest himself. Then he heals Barton from the fisher bites. Barton is more worried about the beautiful sword that somehow went missing in the water when no one was looking. *cough*

Meanwhile, Rhorja takes the acid and tries to dissolve the mold with it. Instead it eats through his quarterstaff and the cloth he soaked the acid in. Experiment number one is a failure. He moves onto number two, which is to wash it away in the stream. With the help of the Gnomes they devise a plan to wash it away with buckets of icy water. It goes off without a hitch and the mold slowly gets washed away. Rhorja had started to fret about the laws of thermodynamics but everyone just ignored him. As the Gnomes work on this task, Gormless keeps exploring. He runs into yet more mold and shrieking mushrooms that cause everyone to grab their ears. The can see another skeleton underneath them which gives off a faint magical aura. Barton rushes in to try and grab whatever is magical and gets lashed with mushroom tentacles. They aren't sticky, but they are poisonous. Barton immediately feels ill and Gormless assists him in retreating. The mushrooms advance and keep attacking. Ranged attacks were sufficient to kill the creatures without putting anyone into more danger.

The skeleton had bracers and a ring on it, both magical. Everyone spreads out to finish mapping the cave and Gormless finds even more mushrooms (glowing ones this time). Fortunately they don't try to attack him and Rhorja is able to identify them as useful for potions. Nothing else of note is found and the group decides to break for a much needed lunch back at camp. Gormless discovers another hole that leads into an unexplored section of the cave. They decide to leave it alone for now and focus on the cart entrance. "Beal and Aylie" go down first to find a path at Gormless's suggestion (he has yet to learn their names properly) because they are the best climbers and it would be something they would enjoy. Barton hacks a path through the brush. Gormless stands gard. Rhorja stays back to study but ends up daydreaming about Tahm instead. He asks the poorly socialized druid for advise on if he has a shot with her and gets a confused response of, "Have you asked her is you do?". Rhorja is stunned by the elegant simplicity of that approach and thinks it over.

Bellamin hears something moving during his reconnaissance and finds an arrow lodged into the ground. He reports back to the group worried that it might have friends. Snert is adamant that they get the entrance cleared and carts moved in before nightfall so they have a more defensible position. They all get to work. Gormless comes across the blind where the arrow was fired from and finds a few sets of Kobold prints that are too sporadic to track anywhere specific. The group settles in for the night. Squire Lee steals the dice Bellamin, Alistine, Barton, and the miners were using to gamble, mistaking it for a nut. Rhorja offers sarcastically to magic missile the little pest. Eventually they all sleep and leave two to watch in shifts. Shortly after midnight they are attacked. Barton impatiently charges off into the darkness after they get peppered with arrows. The miners and Gnomes stay behind to guard the carts while the rest chase after him. They can't keep up and are soon split as they chase after different targets. The Kobolds are being led by a massive, dual axe wielding creature with 4 arms and the head of a bull. Barton charges after it with Bellamin and Alistine following behind as he is their only source of light. Gormless comes upon one of the archers and wounds it enough to make it run. Rhorja stays back and tries to charm the "minotaur" but is unsuccessful. The spell does draw the beast's attention and it directs the nearby archers to fire on the mage. Bellamin and Alistine quickly dispatch all but one of the Kobolds and the last flees. Everyone lost sight of their leader in the battle so Gormless tries to chase it down in the direction it was last seen. Instead he finds the last Kobold and manages to tackle it. The group binds him and takes him back to the camp for questioning. It won't respond to anyone but Rhorja. He manages to bond with it and convince him that they are the best of friends.

Meanwhile, Barton and Gormless are inspecting the tracks that lead away from the battle. They follow it until they see the heavier, deeper tracks split into three pairs of normal Kobold tracks. Disturbed by this, Barton returns to camp with the discovery while Gormless presses on. He is more comfortable alone in the wilderness anyway and can move much more quickly on his own. After walking all day he comes to the edge of the Kobold's camp and sits down to wait. Even after they fire arrows at him he refuses to move until he is finally addressed. He requests to speak to the Shaman of their camp but has to make do with the leader of the boundary guard. He requests that they stop fighting each other and focus on trying to repel the Blackcloaks from the region. During his walk Gormless had time to think about all of the strife in the region and realized that the Cloaks were behind it all. Everything was out of balance and it was his duty as a druid to stop it. He promised to return to them with a bunch of coins as a good faith gesture. Which only leaves him to figure out his to convince his friends to not slaughter them on sight. He returns to the camp and is able to catch some of the conversation between Rhorja and the Kobold. Rhorja is trying to point out they could be allies but the Kobold claims his tribe could never be friends with allies of the Blackcloaks. Rhorja takes exception to this. Gormless notices and leads the mage outside to help him hatch a plan to return their prisoner to his village and earn some goodwill. Rhorja agrees.

Unbeknown to them Barton is also trying to free the Kobold during the night. Before any of these things can play out they are interrupted by a scream in the night. One of the miners got dragged into the back tunnel of the cave during his watch. With mounting exhaustion they once again gear up for battle. The screams lead them into a spider's nest. Gormless tries to befriend one of them and would have succeeded but the others decided a spider is not a pet and hacked it to death first. Bellamin really hates spiders. Rhorja also manages to magic missile one of them in midair as it leaps at Barton in the dark. The last one flees and Gormless follows to find a room filed with a tangle of webs. The others stay back and try to save the dying man. Rhorja manages to slow the poison with more herbs and they drag him back to camp before returning to burn out the nest. The last spider is nowhere to be seen. They divide up the odd coins they find and leave the pile of Kobold skeletons where they lay. After this they are finally able to rest and recover from the eventful series of nights.

End Adventure 3

2018-12-12, 12:04 AM
Subtitle: What dreams may come

Alternate title: Chipped Tooth

The next morning the Gnomes are eager to finish mapping the caves. Gormless volunteers to remain behind with the prisoner and supplies while the others explore. Once they are gone he leads the Kobold back to its tribe and sits down in the exact same spot as before. He presents the coins he also promised and is granted passage into the village provided he causes no trouble. He is not granted an audience with the Shaman, being told that "Shaman Gormin will decideth if he willth see youth or noths..." He expects that as a stranger he will be approached and so just waits by the central village fire. Mainly he is accosted by vendors. He drops a few coins on the ground and escapes in the ensuing chaos. He winds up at a dark hut with an angry, snorting 4-armed bull creature inside that roars at the intrusion. He is rescued by Elder Snitok. "Be wary of Thorden young one, he is not to be trifled with." "I was not trifling, he is the better. I am no match in combat for anyone here. I came to talk in hopes of peace." Gormless replies with gratitude. They begin to talk ad Gormless learns that the tribe is attempting to remain unnoticed. And that the Blackcloaks aren't the only threat in the region. A band of Orcs led by one called Broken Fang are threatening the camp from the North. In exchange for helping them defend against the Orcs Snitok infers that a deal might indeed be struck to drive out the Cloaks once the numbers are on their side. Snitok says Gormless should seek out the Norathian Brotherhood if he needs more allies (which incidentally, are on the other side of the Orc's lands). In the meantime his group would be allowed into and through the village to strike North if they chose. As he departs the village he buys a gift for each of the others to apologize for deceiving them.

Gormless returns to the cave at midnight and gathers the others. He passes out the gifts and tells the others that they have much to discuss. He is interrupted by a strange bird call on the wind. It is one he recognizes and he returns it with much better success this time. Trivike materializes out of the dark and lets the group know that he will be arriving in the morning with Blackcloaks in tow. Blackcloaks who are still searching for the two erstwhile lovers. Having little other choice the group goes along with the druid's plan to meet the Kobold tribe. Bellamin and Alistine are gone just as the sun breaks the horizon. Barton, Gormless, and Rhorja stay behind to greet the newcomers and pass on the relevant information. The leader of this band of Cloaks is indeed searching for the other two (mainly to gain favor with Sgt. Akmoore) and sends one of his scouts after them. The druid does his best to foul their backtrail but eventually they are tracked and confronted by two Blackcloak rangers. Barton tries to lead them into an ambush at the Kobold sentry line but is preempted by the arrival of Trivike, who knocks one out which allows the group to subdue the other. The elf then slips back into the trees and is not seen again. After an emotional discussion they decide that leaving these two alive would lead them to the Kobold village and Barton makes it look like they were killed by Orcs and hides the bodies. Then most of them get drunk on the wine they find on the corpses to ease their guilt over the act.

They arrive in the Kobold village without further incident and are greeted warmly by the merchants. As they get some much needed retail therapy Rhorja encounters the Shaman as he hunts for new spells. The shaman is cryptic but tells the lad that he and his friends have it in them to be the saviors of the land, but they will need courage to face the coming storm. It is fairly obvious which storm the shaman means. The Orcs are but a stepping stone to the future. The empire must be shattered for the land to be free. The group will learn more at the ceremony the following night. Rhorja shakes his head and wishes Gormless had handled this part.

Barton spends his time bringing firewood to the central village fire after buying a shiny, new sword. That night the Kobolds perform a massive drum and dance session around the fire. The younger of them argue about who gets the honor of hosting Barton in their hut overnight. Gormless stays awake after sleeping most of the day and hopes that he can hear an owl to befriend. What he hears is a loud signal horn indicating an attack on the village. Once again the group prepares for a midnight battle. Thorden and a band of warriors move North. Barton and Rhorja meet Gormless at the central fire and they go to help their hosts. Bellamin and Alistine have not been seen since visiting the drink shop earlier, to no one's surprise. The three arrive at the battlefield to find the Kobolds engaged with a band of Orc raiders. Barton charges straight into the fray and ends up flinging his sword straight past Gormless in his excitement and unfamiliarity with his new weapon. Gormless tosses a torch into the middle of the orcs to help blind them and then casts a heat metal spell on the armor of the meanest looking enemy. Rhorja hangs back and waits for a clean shot. Several Orcs and Kobolds fall as the battle is waged. Gormless inserts himself between the massive Thorden and the large Orc he is fighting and acts as a shield for Thorden to strike around. Rhorja spots nother magic caster and hits him with a new spell he acquired in the village. The acid arrow unfortunately doesn't spot the caster from summoning six mean worlves to join the battle. At least the largest Orc finally went down after having his torso start melting. Unfortunately for Gormless, four more Orcs stepped in to surround him as Thorden caught his breath! Barton charged in to rescue his friend. Gormless rushes to Thorden's side and heals him as he faces down all six wolves at once. With the tide turning against them the Orc mage flees. Gormless tries to chase after him because that had worked well in the past but lost him in the dark. The rest of the battle was a moping up action after that and Rhorja is the only one to sustain a serious injury after backing into an Orc and being brained from behind with a club.

The remainder of the Kobold village show up at the scene and begin gather their many dead for a funeral. They praise the prowess of Barton and the mighty magics of Gormless. Even so, the cost to the village was high. Fully half of the warriors of the village have been slain in the recent weeks. Thorden is given the honor of lighting the pyre and stands there stoically as the fire consumes his adopted family. Before the fire has even begun to burn out the Elder and the Shaman have picked out a new group of young Kobolds to begin training as warriors. They are anointed and led away to a remote location. The smoke from the fire also happens to draw the attention of a young Elf who is out hunting for his people. His name is Adelloran and he is a member of the Norathian Brotherhood (the largest group of people rebelling against the Blackcloaks). Curious, he comes to the village and asks what has happened. His people have traded with this village for years and he is saddened to learn of its plight. He arrives just after Bellamin and Alistine finally make their way out of a secluded hut. They are incredibly hungover but perk up at the mention of the drink the Shaman is brewing for them all. The group introduce themselves to the newcomer and prepare for the night. Adelloran is told he also is part of the coming ceremony.

That night they enter the Shaman's hut. They find him dressed in coyote skins and stirring an iron pot over a small cookfire. There are small candles strewn about and six cups set on mats of woven grass encircling the room. Shaman Gormin ladles a thick, green concoction into each of the cups and prays over them. They all drink their cups dry. The Shaman starts chanting and ringing a small silver bell every few moments in a slow rhythm. He begins moving around the room and snuffing the candles. They get a sense of time and space wavering as the candles go out, one by one. There are things in the darkness.

Gormless finds himself amidst a small cluster of tents set on a rocky ledge. A gaunt, greying woman in her 50s is busy grinding acorns into flour. The druid at first believes it the be his mentor. She looks up at him in surprise. "Oh? Who are you?" Gormless looks down at himself, to see if he has really changed so much in the past week. What he sees is a much younger version of himself. He looks up, and suddenly at his stiffness and looks into his eyes, " Don't ye remember, we was out on the river fishing and you speared a monster of a salmon. You was struggling wit it and your da moved to help you, but you insisted you could do it alone and as you struggled you slipped on a wet rock and in you went." Through a dry mouth he manages to get out a few words, "I don't. My first memory is of the forest. Cold and hunger. Many years ago." She gives him a short laugh, "But you only fell in two months ago... I've been crying near everyday. You don't know how bad I have been missing you." She waves her arm out to show him the camp. "We are moving camp to the Eastern slope next week. Game has been scarce since the war came to Darkhold." Still struggling to grasp the situation, Gormless asks the first question he can think of, the one that has haunted him for years. "What is your name? And da's? And mine?" I am your ma, but your da calls me Maisy still sometimes and and I just call him da, but his given name is Aerlyn and you... you are m' little Anders, don't you remember?" she answers, puzzled. "Anders, Maisy, and Aerlyn..." Not knowing what else to say, Gormless looks around the hut for anything familiar that might trigger something in him. Something does. A small squirrel comes bounding into the tent and perches on his shoulder. Seeing the squirrel, the woman's eyes get greedy. "What have you there, Anders? Looks like a nice fat critter for the dinner pot." He flinches back and protects his friend. Her flesh melts away as she lunges a him. "Give me that food, you brat, or I will have your father throw you into the river again!" He is surrounded by more creatures like her. Skeletons all reaching out to grab him and Squire Lee. As he realizes in horror tha his friend has been lost in the mass of undead he turns and plunges back into their midst, searching. The vision fades to darkness again and he is suddenly back in that Shaman's hut. A cup of cool water is offered to him and he gratefully gulps it down. He feels altered in some indefinable way.

The others slowly come to, some of them very ill in the aftereffects of the potion. Shaman Gormin tells them that what is coming must not be stopped. He has seen beyond this night and it saddens him. Outside a lot of angry voices break the calm of the hut and the number that aren't ill go outside to investigate. A large Kobold waving a white banner of peace is standing at the Northeastern edge of the camp accompanied by a small band of Orcs. Stiltz is there to issue a challenge to the current champion of the tribe. It seems he had previously held that honor until Thorden took it, along with his right eye. No amount of diplomacy from the group can deescalate the situation. Thorden must face the champion Stiltz has brought. Elder Snitok allows the challenge to stand and ritual combat commences. Barton stands as Thorden's second. Gormless issues a challenge of his own to Stiltz as the two combatants prepare themselves. The druid hopes that allowing the Kobold to beat him his pride may be soothed and the two groups can find a way to work together. Regardless, this first challenge must be settled.

The Orc initiates the battle by immediately trying to cheat. He grabs a burning log from the fire and tries to use it as a club. Thorden is able to keep him bottled up with his four arms but still sustains a few more injuries. A long, vicious battle ends with the Orc plunging his hand into one of the wounds Thorden acquired the previous night and disemboweling him. Thorden slumps and the entire tribe goes silent with shock. "You bring drink for me and friends!" The Orc demands with a grin, still holding the entrails. As Thorden dies, his body shifts into that of a deformed halfling. The group tends to his body while a few of the Kobolds go about getting the Orcs as drunk as possible. The rest of the tribe surreptitiously packs camp to be gone by the morning light.

Gormless departs the village to find some scouts who needed to be warned of these events before returning. What he finds is a massive army of Orcs (nearly 200 campfires) all preparing for a battle. In horror he makes hast back to his friends. While he is gone they run into a patrol of Blackcloaks that had drawn too near to the Kobold perimeter. This scouting party were out hunting a group a fugitives from the Empire. Fugitives that looked very much like the bunch of raggedy children standing before them. Our heroes launch a surprise attack and win without much trouble. They make it look like the Cloaks were victims of an Orc attack and then return to the village to slay the Orcs (who had finally passed out from the drinks near dawn) and make it look like the Cloaks had done it. Gormless returns just as the last of the Kobolds are departing the village. One of the scouts does find him before departing and relays that most of the internal fires of the Orc camp are unattended. Only the perimeter has any of their enemy around. The bad news is that Broken Fang is not among them and is most likely holed up in his cave in the Eastern mountains.

Gormless departs the village to find some scouts who needed to be warned of these events before returning. What he finds is a massive army of Orcs (nearly 200 campfires) all preparing for a battle. In horror he makes hast back to his friends. While he is gone they run into a patrol of Blackcloaks that had drawn too near to the Kobold perimeter. This scouting party were out hunting a group a fugitives from the Empire. Fugitives that looked very much like the bunch of raggedy children standing before them. Our heroes launch a surprise attack and win without much trouble. They make it look like the Cloaks were victims of an Orc attack and then return to the village to slay the Orcs (who had finally passed out from the drinks near dawn). Gormless returns just as the last of the Kobolds are departing the village.

Gormless departs the village to find some scouts who needed to be warned of these events before returning. What he finds is a massive army of Orcs (nearly 200 campfires) all preparing for a battle. In horror he makes hast back to his friends. While he is gone they run into a patrol of Blackcloaks that had drawn too near to the Kobold perimeter. This scouting party were out hunting a group a fugitives from the Empire. Fugitives that looked very much like the bunch of raggedy children standing before them. Our heroes launch a surprise attack and win without much trouble. They make it look like the Cloaks were victims of an Orc attack and then return to the village to slay the Orcs (who had finally passed out from the drinks near dawn). Gormless returns just as the last of the Kobolds are departing the village.

Gormless departs the village to find some scouts who needed to be warned of these events before returning. What he finds is a massive army of Orcs (nearly 200 campfires) all preparing for a battle. In horror he makes hast back to his friends. While he is gone they run into a patrol of Blackcloaks that had drawn too near to the Kobold perimeter. This scouting party were out hunting a group a fugitives from the Empire. Fugitives that looked very much like the bunch of raggedy children standing before them. Our heroes launch a surprise attack and win without much trouble. They make it look like the Cloaks were victims of an Orc attack and then return to the village to slay the Orcs (who had finally passed out from the drinks near dawn). Gormless returns just as the last of the Kobolds are departing the village. One of the scouts manages to find him before departing and relays what his team had found. The good news is that all of the internal campfires of the Orc camp are unattended. Only the perimeter has any of their enemy about. The bad news is that Broken Fang is not among them. It seems he has decided to hole up in his cavern fortress in the Eastern mountains and the group will have to infiltrate it if they want to slay him. Now certain of their next destination, Barton, Rhorja, Bellamin, Alistine, Gormless, and Adorellan strike East. They burn the remnants of the village as they walk away.

End Adventure 4

2018-12-12, 12:06 AM
Subtitle: Divided, we fall

Alternate title: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjIf507IQXU

Adorellan leads them to a small cave where they can stay for the night. Rhorja volunteers to cook for everyone. Barton and Adorellan go hunting. Alistine and Gormless head out to scout the way to Broken Fang. Bellamin sits and works on new songs. Being a bard in the wilderness with no one to perform for can be rough... After a few hours hike the two in the scouting party skirt their way around the Orc encampment and to the main entrance of the lair of Broken Fang. They make a difficult climb up and are able to survey most of the valley. A massive autumn thunderstorm is blowing in and the Orcs are pounding drums in response. Ill portents riding on ill winds. Alistine decides that they should turn back and Gormless agrees. Moving as carefully in the treacherous ground as possible they make it back down to the valley floor and start winding their way back to the others. After another short while the drums stop and the steady pounding of marching feet takes their place. Before they can return other human forms approach the camp. Unsure if it is their friends returning, the others are almost caught unaware by the shambling zombie couple and their zombie dog.

A short but intense fight later and they hew them down, with only Bellamin taking any hits. The disease-ridden blows are enough to drop him to the floor. "I... I blame... Rhorja." He moans from the ground. Even injured he loves to perform for a crowd! Gormless and Alistine arrive the next morning and he receives enough of Gormless's healing magic to nearly feel back to normal. They take the full day and night to rest and gather more supplies before heading off. Adorellan decides to part with the group for now in order to go warn his people about the incoming Orcs and the group bid him a sad farewell. They had only known each other for a few days time but they felt he had already become a valued part of their group. The remainder of the journey to Broken Fang's lair was uneventful. Alistine and Bellamin spent more time scouting for the secret entrance and discovered it a short distance from the gates. They all decide to observe the entrances for a while. During his watch Bellamin sees a wagon being led to the gate by men with dark cloaks. The dark-cloaked men deliver a large chest and depart. Worried at the thought of the Orcs being allied with the Blackcloaks, the group decides not to waste any more time and tries to enter the cave via the secret entrance. They are stymied in their efforts and resort to trying trickery at the front. Gormless tries to charm one of the guards there but fails miserably when the ELITE guards get suspicious of unknown children claiming to be friends of the tribe. More reinforcements show up after they dispatch those two. The group barely escapes after a bloody fight.

A brief rest later and the group starts discussing what to do. Gormless solves the debate by nearly falling down a shaft that seems to lead straight into the lair. It does smell horrid, though. Alistine tries to climb down but slips and falls. Bellamin and Barton quickly go after her. Once all of the group are down they discover that they are in a rectangular room with eight nearly vertical shafts (four large and four small)spaced evenly along the floor. The heat in the room is oppressive. More observation lets them discover that rhythmic pounding sounds can be heard from three of the four larger shafts. They are standing above a massive forge! Bellamin sends a magical servant down one of them bt it doesn't return. Gormless ties Squire Lee to a rope and has him sneak down one of the tiny, cooler shafts but the squirrel doesn't make it far enough to learn anything. They decide to try blocking the small vents instead to smother the forge fires. This works much better than they had expected. Two Duergar smiths climb the tunnels to investigate and attack the adventurers. They make things difficult for the heroes by turning invisible and popping up at random spots to attack. One heads back down the shaft in order to warn more guards, but the rope is cut and rocks thrown onto his head until he falls. They retreat back up to ground level to decide what to do next.

The baying of dogs starts to sound from down in the Valley as they gather a last few supplies before assaulting the shafts. This confirms their decision to press forward. Alistine manages to find yet another cave that they can enter through. This one leads the group to a rockfall and a large crevasse. After a careful scramble across they travel for several hours through a cramped tunnel. The sounds of pursuit have tapered off during this time and a quick rest stop is overdue. Pushing onwards they come to a fork in the unnatural tunnel. Both forks lead to barred gates. Alistine manages to pick the locks with ease. Behind the one they choose to go through awaits two more of the Duergar. Gormless gets himself beaten up badly again but they manage to take down one of the enemy. The other escapes by turning invisible. The room the battle took place in seems to be a hub and following him is impossible. There is a large mechanical lift in the center of the room, stairs leading up and down, a ladder leading up to a immovable hatch, and two more tunnels on the same level. Down the stairs gets the vote. It leads them to the forges and they quickly defeat the six remaining Duergar with only one minor hiccup of Rhorja's spell hypnotizing more of the party than the Duergar. Unfortunately other than mentally broken slaves they don't find anything of note. They free the slaves and continue to explore the forge room. It also contains a large fighting pit and a small alcove holding the Orc birthing rooms. The adventurers take mercy on them and leave them be.

They return to the double gate and lock it behind them to make a brief camp. Wary of danger and not wanting to tarry too long the group heads down the one of the other paths this level. It leads them down through a subterranean labyrinth. They realize the Orcs were trying to tunnel their way North before giving up and just marching overland. In another they find a roper but some brilliant magic by Rhorja (blinding light cast on its face) and Gormless (a flying insect swarm that it can't shake off) makes it a trivial fight. No one knows much about the creature but they harvest parts for later study before heading back to the double gate room. Next they decide to go up a different ladder near the crevasse they had somehow missed. Gormless attempts to open it by burning the hinges and a large fireball of expensive rum engulfs over the party. Oops. But they finally have unrestricted access to the upper level. The ladder takes them into a well-appointed room with chests of money and many fine magical trophies and scrolls. They upgrade their gear and flee into a secret passageway Alistine found as more guards come to investigate the noise in the room.

The short passage leads them directly to the throne room. Broken Fang and his retinue are waiting for them there. All of the magic users charm each other. Broken Fang is impressed with their abilities and wants to test them further. He pulls a lever and a pit opens in front of his throne. He invites them to jump down it to face their trial. If they survive, they can help Broken Fang cover himself in the glory of war. If they refuse, he can just smash them where they stand. Gormless volunteers to jump into the hole, still hoping for a diplomatic solution where everyone is happy and unified and getting along. He tumbles down and winds up in a rancid pool of muck. Rhorja's friend the Orc Mage helpfully casts a spell to make Rhorja safe as he falls into the hole and he lands in a separate room with a locked door. Barton descends by rope. Bellamin and Alistine head down and Broken Fan shakes his head as the bard stops playing his soft song in the background. He angrily smashes the friendly mage to death. Then he cuts the rope, sending the three on it tumbling down. Barton and Alistine end up in an intersecting hallway together. Bellamin is in his own room with a single door. The party has been split!

Rhorja decides that his usual choice of reading a book and waiting to be rescued is not the most prudent course at this time. He summons a Hobgoblin to smash down the door. With brutal efficiency it makes quick work of the door and leads Rhorja to a 4-way intersection. It steps on a trigger plate and is promptly smashed flat by the large stone that drops from the ceiling. The stone also blocks the entire intersection. Rhorja spends the next few moments changing his pants.

Gormless lets Squire Lee out to explore and hopefully lead them both out of the room. He comes upon a heavy barred gate. On the other side is a Half-elf who has also been trapped down here in a storage area by the Orcs. Her name is Yurial and she is a devout member of the Cult of Life. The two have a quick conversation before deciding to trust the other. For now. With no way to open the gate the two keep exploring their respective areas. Yuriel comes to a large stone blocking her path. A large stone with suspicious red smears on the bottom of it. Squire Lee finds another gate and goes through it. On the other side is a large 2-headed man breathing heavily. Squire Lee quickly retreats and tells Gormless this. They decide to try and find a different path. It leads him to yet another door! One the other side is Yurial. The combined efforts of the two are enough to break through it and they continue on together.

Barton and Alistine pick a direction at random and run into another door. Inside the room behind the door is a weird mass of flesh that attacks them when they approach. It injures Barton fairly badly before they manage to hack it to pieces. Barton only got hit because he was distracted by a hammering at another door in the room. Just as he and Alistine finish off the golem it is smashed down by an annoyed looking Half-elf and Gormless! Barton shakes his head at the sight. "Leave it to you to pick up a stray." The four of them continue onwards after a brief round of introductions and healing from the cultist.

Sounds of impact come from the chute above Bellamin's head. Very shortly after he recovers a body lands in a heap in the center of the room. Bellamin searches the body of the Orc mage for useful items as always. Then he follows tries to open the door. He just barely manages to dodge the fire trap that activates. He then hauls the body onto the trigger and barely manages to avoid it a second time. Fortunately the smell of the burning corpse leads the group of four straight to his door. Yurial proves her worth by smashing down her third door in a dozen minutes and the party grows. She then leads them back to the new stone that appeared in the tunnels not long ago.

Rhorja hears something large and angry sounding on the other side of the stone. It smashes something wooden against the stone in frustration and departs. Shortly after that he hears his friends from a different side of the boulder. Rescue has arrived! ...In about eight hours, which is when Gormless will have the necessary spells prepared to soften the rock. Barton reflects on an old proverb he knew from someone called Archimedes. "Where is a level? Did you find one? Who's Arachnipods?" asks Gormless from his meditation spot. Rhorja is increasingly convinced by the bizarre conversation on the other side of the boulder that this whole thing is a hallucination brought on by isolation. But they do eventually manage to make a wide enough gap that they are all finally reunited.

After a bit more searching of the maze the only two paths left to them lead them to the Ettin or a barred gate that leads to the fighting pit near the forges. Avoiding a fight for probably the first time ever they leave the Ettin and try to open the gate. They get help in the form of a Gnome who is being forced to work for the Duergars. He sneakily opens the gate for them and the group dispatches his guards. The group grows by yet another member. Pretaria agrees to help them escape if they assist him in finding his companion. They agree and escape the pit. Then they let the Ettin out to cause mischief.

They hide and slip past Broken Fang and his retinue as he comes down to finish them off. Broken Fang shows off for his men by singlehandedly battling the Ettin and dispatching it quickly. While the Orcs are distracted the group heads back up the stairs to the throne room level. Finding themselves in the slave quarters, they free as many as are able to move. Only a grubby Dwarf is capable of speaking and thanks the group for the rescue. Next they come to the kitchens and slay the Orc cooks. As an additional insult, they dump out the food and leave the bodies in it. They foul their water source too. Nothing lowers troop morale like lack of food. By this time Broken Fang is on his way back up so they make haste to lead the slaves out.

Gormless check some side areas while the herd of slaves shuffles out. Nearly giddy with the impending victory he yells out to Alistine and Bellamin about some chests he finds. Not a wise move as the sound alerts some guards in the throne room nearby. And Broken Fang down below. The full and final battle for Broken Fang's lair is joined. Between the horde of Orcs, the heroes, and the slaves, the battle is long and messy. It taxes the skills and prowess of everyone to their limits. Several of the slaves die by getting in the way or just being convenient targets for the Orcs (who really don't care who they kill at this point). Yurial also takes a nearly mortal wound from Broken Fang and spends the entire fight trying not to bleed out in a corner. Once most of the guards are dealt with the party targets Broken Fang in earnest and even he is brought low. One of the last Orcs immolates himself rather than be taken as a slave. The usual looting ensues. Not wasting any more time after that, the group finally walks out of the front gate to their first glimpse of the sun in too many days. As it sets they feel the first chill of winter in the air.

End Adventure 5

2018-12-12, 12:07 AM
Subtitle: More important matters

Alternate title: Gormless is an ass meaning "Donkey"

A serene spot by a river makes for a perfect camping spot that night. As he slumbers, at some point deep in the night, Gormless cries out softly. His body rapidly flickers through a series of changes, all vaguely animalistic. Upon being woken for his watch, he feels a new power welling inside him and knows he has finally grasped some of Vernonia's more challenging lessons. In the morning Yurial and the Dwarf lead the slaves North to the Norathian Brotherhood. Pretaria also departs to reunite with his people. The group decides to return to their village to rest, resupply, and decide their next move. Hopefully the cloaks have more pressing business than a few kids who caused trouble in a tavern two weeks ago. Gormless makes the trip easy by finding a few worker ants and using magic to make them large enough to ride. He turns himself into a donkey to provide Alistine a saddle, as well. Initially he offered it to Rhorja (because he was the lightest and Gormless still has a bad leg no matter what form he is in) but quickly learned never to bring up the subject of weight with her. Just one more of those social things he should know, but somehow doesn't!

They camp once more close to the Kobold mine so that they can be in the village early the next day. During his dawn watch Rhorja hears a growl and a wolf comes stalking into camp. Before he can even react to it Trivike also materializes. The wolf is his new companion. Also with him is Urzhal Retskor. Urzhal is searching for a Gnome named Pretaria, his teammate. He had heard the Gnome was freed from the Orcs recently and requested Trivike's assistance in finding him. The group gives him the joyous news. Urzhal offers his skills as a protector to the group as a repayment for the debt. The others welcome him into the team. Trivike informs them that things have rapidly changed in the small village since the discovery of the mine. They should now be able to enter the town completely unnoticed. But they should also be wary of the large army of Blackcloaks assembling just North of the village to assault the ruins of Sethkar. With nothing else of importance to discuss, Trivike departs. The group quickly break camp and head for the village. Rhorja is starting to get used to riding an ant and only throws up once!

Before they can reach the village they see dust on the horizon. Gormless scouts it out as a hawk and sees two riders making their way furiously towards the group. They hide in a nearby grove of trees and ensnare the sentries with more of Gormless's nature magic. Being unknown in the region Urzhal steps forward to question them about their intentions. They claim to just be doing their job, patrolling and looking out for danger, and had seen strange people riding strange creatures cross the path ahead. Rhorja charms them into thinking it was a big misunderstanding and they all depart as friends (once Gormless's spells wear off). The detour costs them time, and it is nearly dinner before they make it to the village proper. Anoji's abandoned hut makes a perfect base for the group. Gormless drops his treasure into the pile the others are creating and goes to seek out his mentor.

Gormless finds his mentor's hut deserted save for a beautiful barn owl staring at him with knowing eyes. It leads him around the wilderness near the village. Eventually he turns himself into a lizard and scrambles up a tree, to find another lizard waiting for him there. He finally figures out it was Vernonia all along. She is pleased that he has learned one of the most rare druidic gifts. They palaver about his time away and his vision. He debates about what he should do about undead in the North. She tells him not to worry about the specifics and instead focus on how the vision has helped him grow as a person. He asks her to tell him more about the Grand Druid and to send a message/request for aid in the war to him. She then drops the bombshell. Since the time of the Cataclysm the druids had seen their numbers dwindle (with there being no moon in the sky to power their magics properly). Nearly all of the rest had been wiped out by the Blackcloaks as they spread across the world. The elderly lady and the two boys she had been training were the only ones she knew of. If he wanted to create a new circle it would be up to him... He promises to learn all he can from her before she takes her final walk into nature. He can't quite look her in the eyes as he asks one more thing. His last request is for her harvesting sickle as a constant reminder of her teachings "and how you are basically my mother and all." She gives him a hug and bequeaths her father's ornate silver sickle to the boy.

Rhorja despairs at the mess in his master's hut. Bored Cloaks had made a proper mess of the place. Bellamin, Alistine, Barton, and Urzhal volunteer to help clean it up and improve it (plus Gormless, before he departed). They get to work and by the next day it is livable again. Rhorja spends the entire day struggling to identify the various magical items they had found on their journey. Urzhal practices his woodcarving with not much else to do. Alistine and Bellamin decide it is time to take the small fortune they had made and depart for the local capitol of Ellisport. The four staying behind bid them a tearful farewell and even Bellamin refrains from his usual glibness. Later that day, Gormless befriends a hummingbird and names him Humphrey.

Barton and Urzhal visit the tavern to talk to Barton's uncle. Barton helps him serve customers that day and waits until they have all left for the evening. He then regales his uncle with the story so far and asks for his advice. His uncle lets him know about all that has been happening in the village these past two weeks. Soldiers are massing to retake Sethkar once a new bridge has been constructed (hundreds are passing through the village every day). And the Governor of the region is visiting soon to give those troops a pep-talk. Not much else to be told other than that. Barton offers to invest most of the treasure he has found on his adventure into the tavern. He also offers to go South and get much needed supplies for repairs/expansions to both the tavern and Rhorja's wizard hut. Urzhal volunteers to help in the construction since he has a background in woodworking and building structures.

Gormless volunteers to fly ahead and place the order for the wood so it can be ready by the time the others arrive. While he is gone Rhorja makes friends with a Gnome named Mardok who was fleeing the Blackcloaks for stealing some food. The group grows by one. They all head off together the next day. They are challenged by the outriders of yet another convoy into the village, this one over 1000 strong. They stay that night in the village of Merrin, the original home of both Barton and Mardok. They stay with a friend of Barton's uncle, who also lends them strong horses to haul the lumber from the next village. They still have no word from Gormless who was supposed to meet them on the road already.

The druid had flown to the logging town of Sheridan to place the order. As he flies over the town, he spies massive swaths of clearcut forest. He makes a mental note of this before heading into town as a human. Some unhelpful locals finally point him towards the Empire's office at the edge of the town. Inside he meets Vira, the receptionist. He tries to place the order but is rebuffed. Unfortunately, all of the wood being logged is earmarked for the Empire's war efforts, and the Inn is not a priority even if it is being used by the soldiers marching North. He eventually talks (bribes) her around into letting him log the wood on his own, since she doubts a runt like him will survive in the "haunted forest". As thanks, he mentions that he knows a strong, strapping lad in need of a beautiful wife that would be arriving soon. Satisfied that he has solved multiple problems (Rhorja kept asking him advice about Tahm, so Barton probably needed his help finding a woman, too. And this whole trip WAS for Barton's family's inn. And he thought he had heard that marriages were usually arranged by friends and family. Gormless was really getting a hang of this mating thing.) he heads to a hidden spot at the edge of the village and observes the comings and goings. The next morning, with a storm raging on the horizon, he sets off, backtracking the path of the wounded loggers who occasionally had stumbled into camp the day before. After a short time, he stumbles across a wolf and its pet ranger, Danial. The man is confused to see someone as young as Gormless alone out here. He claims to be the chief forester for the Empire, and warns of danger beyond. Something is stopping the logging teams from going further into the region. After he departs, Gormless returns to town. That night, he unleashes the anger at the decimation of the landscape by calling down several lightning strikes on the army barracks where the Cloaks sleep. As they all pour outside in confusion, he sends a massive gust of wind through the interior, creating a mess and compounding the misery of the soldiers. He warps the door so that it can't be barred. He finishes off by making the building glow with an unearthly light to play into their fears of hauntings. Satisfied, he sleeps.

The next morning he ventures farther into the forest and communes with the plants there. They tell him of a massive stone creature deeper in. Before he goes deeper in he creates massive snarls of thorns and spike along all of the smaller logging trails. Encouraged by his success in deterring the loggers and the news of some sort of protector for the region, he transforms into a bird and flies over the area to try and spot it. He finds a wolfpack instead and decides to fly down challenge the Alpha for leadership of the pack as a wolf. As he fills his head with daydreams of his very own group of friends, he doesn't notice the boulder flying at his head. He tries to take cover by blending in with the other wolves, but a second boulder renders him unconscious.

He wakes in a strange place with bandages over his wounds and no one around. After going in and out of consciousness from the pain a few more times, he eventually is able to move enough to cure himself a small amount. From there, he changes through several animal forms on his way to the village. He arrives back at the village and keeps watch for his friends from his high up in a tree.

The others wake at the farm to find Rhorja already packing. He had a dream in the night telling him to return to the village and wait for Anoji there. They all bid him farewell and continue heading West towards Sheridan. Mardok tries to keep himself hidden as much as possible, afraid of being recognized and caught for his theft. They make slow time on the wet roads. A group of soldiers from Sheridan eventually pass them, looking severely haggard and disheartened. Barton leads the cart into town and secures quarters for the horses while Urzhal gathers information about the area at the local inn. They meet a wizard named Drakkos who is heading into the woods to find rare material components for spells. He inquires as to whether they would be willing to escort him since they are going that way for lumber anyway. They all agree to escort him and after a short night head upstairs to be ready to leave the next morning.

Gormless is happily reunited with the others outside the inn the next morning. Although saddened by Rhorja's decision not to join them he is nonetheless excited to be back together with Barton and Urzhal (Mardok is off on business of his own this morning and won't be joining the group just yet). After a quick and fruitless visit to the Empire's offices in the early morning they head Westward down the logging paths. Gormless causes further wicked, thorny plant growths to appear down the smaller trails as they proceed. After a distance they come into a valley of what seems to them to be beautiful fir trees, ready to be harvested. Gormless only sees a bunch of stumps and desolation and is confused when the others get excited by the logger's leftovers. He shrugs and starts to leave them to it while he deals with the wolfpack when Barton falls straight into an obvious (to him) pit. One of several dotting the area. Urzhal soon follow ssuit as he wanders around in a daze. Finally Gormless understands that they have all fallen prey to some sort of illusion or enchantment ad guesses that the ranger Danial had done this to protect the area. Gormless pulls Barton out and Drakkos dispels the magic of the area, revealing the desolation to everyone. They continue West.

An all to short time later they come across some short trees (stumps to Gormless) lining the path. These trees have doors in them. Urzhal, being a Seeker and thus curious about everything, opens one. Both he and Drakkos are engulfed in a blast of fire. They continue Westward. Now they are finally listening to the druid when he tells them not to touch anything.

Gormless leads them close to where he found the wolfpack last time and tries to summon them to his aid. No wolves appear, so he attempts to summon some boars instead. 4 massive boars immediately come trotting out of the woods. He sends them on a mission to harass the loggers closer to the town, but to also keep themselves from getting hurt. Soon the group is under siege by flying boulders and Gormless takes to the skies while the others hide. His raptor's vision quickly pinpoints where the stone giant is. As he lands the stone giant flees deep into the rugged territory away from the group.

Mardok manages to make his way through the forest and rejoins them at this point. After a short debate about whether to follow the giant or head back into town, they decide to visit the local ranger, Danial, before anything else. As they are heading back onto the main trail they hear loud cursing in the distance. Drakkos hears this and fades back into the forest away from the others as they all move ahead to see who is out here. Drakkos, fearing being found out by the Cloaks, disappears into the forest and is not seen again. Gormless bellows a greeting and hears the group in the distance freeze. One of them seems to have fallen into another of the pit traps that are ubiquitous in the area and has broken his leg. Gormless yells out that he is coming to help, and gets a grenade thrown at him for his trouble. They engage with a large patrol of Blackcloaks. Gormless controls the area well with magic, but Urzhal gets so overwhelmed he dispels it all. Fortunately by then they have thinned the enemy ranks enough to make the fight trivial. They rescue the lone survivor out of the trap he fell into, but the man dies of shock and blood-loss before they can heal him enough for questioning. They also find a strange repeating crossbow of the Sergeant who led the patrol, which Mardok claims.

As they are searching the area, a lone figure approaches them. He is a member of the Brotherhood on the hunt for Drakkos. It seems the mage had lied to them. When the Orc horde attacked, he turned tail and ran, leaving the others to get slaughtered. Taewulf, a ranger for the Brotherhood, was dispatched to hunt him down. Greetings all around, and the group grows by one. Gormless starts to realize his nickname might seem strange to all of these new people and asks Barton to come up with a proper one for him. Barton promises to think about it They make their way back to the main road still hoping to find Danial and figure out what is going on with this strange forest. Transforming into a dog, Gormless fails to sniff out the ranger amidst the multitude of human scents in the area.

As they march, an explosion rips through the valley. Birds and beasts start fleeing Westward as smoke starts to creep towards them. As they see the Eastern horizon come alive with a raging wildfire the group follows their lead. They make it to the foot of the mountains and begin climbing. It is nightfall by the time the reach a plateau at the top. They watch, horrified, throughout the night as the fire destroys what little was left of the valley. Another explosion wakes the group in the morning. A second fire line starts to burn from the Northeast, heading Southwest to meet the other wall of flame. Unsure of what to do next the group descends while Gormless scouts the area as a hawk so that they can decide on their next course of action. Over the fireline a massive army of Blackcloaks is following the fire as it advances. While descending, Mardok notices a large dark bird suddenly fly from one of the overlooking cliffs far to the West. Gormless also sees the dark shape flying towards the fire and flies over to investigate. Slowly the shape is revealed to be one of the Empire's dark wizards. Gormless is struck by several magic missiles as he gets close.

Down below, Barton and Taewulf discover gigantic, humanoid footprints. They follow the tracks which lead the group West. Taewulf tells Barton a tale about a forest goddess who had backwards feet, and if you tried to follow her you would just get farther away. Unfortunately the tracks end at a stone cliff, completely impassable for them. In the air, Gormless charges the flying wizard and manages to rake him with a talon, but only superficially. The wizard grins and turns invisible. Undaunted, Gormless changes shape into a bat and echo-locates the wizard's location. He is once again hit by several magic missiles. Gormless attempts something incredibly dangerous but very powerful (if he can pull it off). He charges at the wizard and as he collides with the wizard's body he twists himself into a venomous snake and strikes. Alas, the complexity of the maneuver and his lack of experience in bat form cause him to miss the wizard by a large margin and he plummets to the ground as a snake from over 200 feet in the air...

Taewulf at that moment happens to look up and is baffled at the sight of a gigantic golden eagle being pursued by a dark billowy shape in the sky. The eagle appears to be clutching a limp snake in its talons. Urzhal immediately recognizes the threat and dispels the magic allowing the Dark Wizard to fly. It plummets to the ground while Barton and Taewulf chase after it. Several streaks of light fly from over the ridge it fell behind and strike the eagle, to no real effect. Urzhal and Mardok go after the eagle (falsely believing it to be Gormless). Taewulf and Barton battle the grounded wizard and cause it to teleport away after a short but vicious battle.

The eagle crash-lands in a nearby cave. It is very visibly injured from the several volleys of magic missiles that struck it. Gormless stands up as a human and offers to heal his rescuer. The creature slowly morphs into an 18-foot tall stone giant and waves off Gormless's offer. He applies some herbal salve to himself and sits, cross-legged. In a language that Gormless has only heard his mentor and Dreymond speak, the giant tells the young lad that his name is Griznak and he is 800 years old. He has witnessed the moon draw close to the world and cause the Cataclysm and much more. He is a student of the Grandfather Tree, who has not spoken or bloomed since the Cataclysm happened 500 years ago. Griznak offers to take Gormless and his friends there to rest for the night. Fortunately, Urzhal and Mardok happen upon the two druids at that time. Barton and Taewulf find them shortly after that and they all depart.

The group, now larger both metaphorically AND literally, travels for several leagues with Griznak's dire wolves keeping watch over them. These were not the same wolves Gormless encountered. Their massive she-wolf leader stands over 8 feet tall. Once they approach Griznak's cave the wolves depart to prowl the forest. In front of the group is a waterfall like something out of a dream. Griznak says a word and an opening parts in the bare rock. As they all pass the foot of the waterfall, Barton takes note of several heavy timbers strewn about the riverbanks. A long staircase leads to an immaculate evergreen forest. The trees are well over a dozen feet in diameter each but are all dwarfed by the "Grandfather Tree". Its canopy stretches over 100 paces and its truck over a dozen paces thick. The tree has neither blossomed nor produced acorns since the cataclysm. Nor has it sprouted leaves, lost its fall foliage, or even changed colors. Gormless falls to his knees at the beauty of it. A giant face is carved into the trunk, but in such a way that it looks like a completely natural feature. After making themselves comfortable, everyone studies the tree in their own way, but ultimately no one ends up with any new answers. After they each finish night is falling and the time comes to discuss their options.

Griznak tells them of his student who left in search of a "nexus of places" in a great swamp nearby. His student felt it might harbor a way to restore the "Grandfather Tree" by providing a portal into the past. Urzhal perks up his ears at the mention of the swamp. "Many of my friends have traveled there and none have returned. It is cursed. But if it truly provides a way into the past..." "Why would we want to change the past? Barton asks. "I'm not too keen on tampering with the past either. It is against the natural order of things." Gormless adds. Mardok interjects, "Maybe the past has already been changed?" "Well I guess we could go back in time and prevent the Empire from ever being established. But I don't think it is a good idea." Taewulf says, before continuing, "What if we traveled in time to find out something useful to help us defeat them, instead of changing the past?"

At this point Griznak finally speaks up, "I did not wish my apprentice to go, not because I feared for her failure, but because I feared of mine own. I did not believe her training to be sufficient for the task she wished to undertake. I only told her I did not wish her to go, I never told her why. I believe it is the right path, even if it is a very dangerous path. Forward, I only see the swallowing darkness and the death of our natural world." With that cold thought they all make camp for the night and wake up from dreamless sleep completely healed from the run-in with the dark wizard. Barton brings up the lumber and Griznak allows them to take the fallen timbers, even providing a wonderous bad to put them all in and carry them without burden. Gormless casts a spell to enlarge some ants and they have the beams loaded in no time. The group departs with a final word from Griznak. "Nothing you do now will matter if you can awaken 'Grandfather Tree'."

With fresh determination the group rides out. They find a safe passage through the brunt remains of the forest and make a quick stop into Sheridan to retrieve Barton's cart and horse. After a long argument they convince Gormless not to destroy the mills. He is sulky and withdrawn for the rest of the trip back to Merrin, where they stay for two nights with Barton's friend Dupaul to rest and wait for cover of night and also better traveling conditions now that the fall storms have become more common.

Gormless, of course, decides not to take part in sitting around and heads North without telling anyone. He is determined to get the group back to Darkhold quickly so they can continue on to the Nexus. He finds a single checkpoint on the road between Merrin and Darkhold. Without mercy or warning, he calls down a massive series of lightning strikes and destroys it in an instant. He searches the bodies of the guards for any important scrolls or magical items. He even thoughtfully collects their coin-purses to give to the group. After returning late the first night he sleeps better than he has in weeks and spends the entire next day enjoying the splendor of the hills alone. As they all set out that evening, the Druid's secret mission becomes rather obvious to the others when they come upon scorched earth and desiccated buildings. A legion of Blackcloak guards and even one of the dark wizards is investigating the scene and are questioning every passerby. Barton manages to convince the guards they are just innocent traders and the group continues. Gormless regretfully sacrifices his ants after they are well out of sight to provide an additional distraction. The group is once again annoyed by Gormless's selfish vendetta, to which he just shrugs and claims he was just getting rid of the checkpoints they were worried about. Not his fault they waited an entire extra day and the Cloaks set it back up. He leaves them and goes off in search of Vernonia and his animals.

"Evil doings..." "Land is cursed..." "Sethkar is lashing out..." "No natural event..." "Second time this week..."

As Barton, Mardok, Urzhal, and Taewulf make their way through the overflowing village they sense a sadness in the common folk and an edginess in the soldiers. Barton asks his great-uncle Eli what has happened as he enters the tavern and receives a shock at what he is told. The young boy Chad, his father Sgt. Ingmar, Barton's friend Yoneth, and many of the villagers who had friends and family stationed at the outpost were also killed in the strike. Now the soldiers would be clamping down hard on the lands and people. Barton recovers from his initial shock and silently vows to have words with Gormless. Sooner rather than later. The Druid would have a LOT to answer for. Barton passes off the bag of lumber to Eli and is warmly greeted by Tahm, who is still there serving drinks and singing songs. She tells him the Rhorja wants him to visit right away. Barton finds Taewulf having an ale at the bar and gets him to come along.

Urzhal is observing the village commons and writing his never-ending notes when he sees a billowy figure riding a magical black stallion. The figure makes a beeline for Vernonia's hut. He finds Barton and Taewulf as they are heading to Rhorja's and warns them. They quicken their pace.

Mardok is sleeping in a cart when a boy of 17 in singed Blackcloak-issue garments rudely awakens him by gagging his mouth and putting a knife to his throat. "Where is that little freak? I know he left with Barton and I want to know where he is!" Mardok can only glare and gurgle until the boy removes his hand from his mouth. "I don't know. Have you tried the forest? He loves the trees." The youth pauses to consider and then goes slack as the oaken cudgel connects with the back of his head. Eli stands over him and quickly gets Mardok on his feet. "Go. Warn Barton that Bellamin is after them. That way."

Gormless, meanwhile, finds Vernonia's hut ransacked. Her meager possessions have been tossed about and damaged spitefully. She is nowhere to be found. With a darkening mood he sets off to try and find where she might have escaped to. He doesn't find her but does manage to track down his animal companions before a voice on the wind tells him to make haste to Rhorja's hut. He pauses, indecisive, before heading in that direction. He only manages a single knock on the door before Rhorja flings it open and violently pulls him inside. The others immediately berate him for his childish acts and tell him about Alistine and the villagers. Gormless angrily reminds them that they are at war and that if Bell and Ali had joined the cloaks then that was their decision, but it wouldn't stop him from fighting the enemy. Unable to fathom how his friend had become this stranger before him in so short a time, Rhorja meekly informs Gormless that Alistine and Bellamin were not members of the cloaks, but only sneaking into the camp to steal. Alistine had died instantly and Bellamin had only barely managed to survive. Gormless feels the color drain from his face and says that he didn't recognize them dressed as soldiers. "And what about the children?" Barton fumes. With a confused look Gormless denies there being anyone in the outpost but soldiers. Nothing will dissuade him from that belief, but he does wipe a tear from his eye at what he did to Alistine and promises the group he would do better.

With time running out Rhorja leads them down into an underground room he had discovered in Anoji's hut. He gives them each a useful magical relic and hurriedly begins casting a spell. As the portal opens he tells them to keep an eye out for Anoji, whom he has seen in the swamp in a vision. They all step through and find themselves on the edge of a marsh with the tower looming closer than any had ever seen it.

End Adventure 6

2018-12-12, 12:10 AM
Subtitle: Go then, there are other worlds than these.

Alternate title: Wibbley-wobbley, timey-wimey, spacey-wacey stuff

With their goal now in sight, everyone gets to work. Urzhal prepares a folding canoe that Rhorja gave them and Gormless giants a few water beetles to carry them over the deeper parts of the swamp. Unfortunately half of the group find it impossible to stay seated on the slick, glossy shells and are forced to walk for now. After a few hours they spy eyes watching them from the deeper pools of water. Gormless recognizes them as alligators and, as always, attempts to befriend one. It turns out to be not an alligator at all, but an owligator bear. The creature promptly attempts to eat the boy but Barton shoves him out of the way in time. More of the owligator bears join the attack and after a hard fought battle the group emerges mostly unscathed, albeit covered in ichor. Gormless skins one to make a new set of armor. Maybe even one for Barton as an apology. They decide to camp for the night in a raised patch of earth.

Large, leathery wings beat the night air during Barton's watch. The next morning they make their way to the island and go through a zone of cold. The island is enveloped in snow and ice as if in an orb. They make landfall and see the tower standing 80 ft tall in the center. It is a small area so before entering they explore the island. The only things of note are a cave that stinks like rotting meat and a glowing blue rock. Urhzal approaches the rock and as he draws close a growling comes from the cave. Experimentally he tosses a ball of snow at the rock. It disappears. A massive white dragon emerges from the cave. Most of the group flee in terror (except for Gormless, obviously). The druid attempts to talk to the dragon with flattery and promises of treasure. He too quickly flees as it charges angrily at him.

Fog walls and a field of grass are what await them on the other side. Gormless silently prays that he didn't just travel in time and mess with the natural order and refuses to open his eyes. Barton drags him after the others. A short walk leads them all to a black knight standing sentry in front of a bridge over a small stream. The knight challenges them but they all just walk over the water unmolested. Gormless tries to pick a fight with it to stall and an exasperated Barton easily cuts through the knight's flimsy armor. Taewulf distracts Gormless by pointing out a rabbit in a cave nearby. Gormless approaches and lets Cinnamon out to meet a new friend. The white, furry ball of death slaughters Cinnamon and Gormless furiously hurls fireballs at it. Barton and Taewulf move closer to slay the rabbit, while Urhzal leads a sobbing Gormless away. Unable to do more than scratch the beast Taewulf decides to disengage after accidentally sending an arrow deep into Barton as the small target moved quickly around the battlefield. Gormless hears his friend once again getting hurt because of his actions and decides maybe a different place is better for him after all. He rushes forward through the portal with Urhzal not far behind. Everyone urges Barton to just leave it but he insists on one more try. No one would ever say Barton Sultana ran from a bunny. The bunny launches itself at him and Barton's head flies off. His body slumps to the ground and Mardok and Taewulf stand in shock at what they just witnessed. Both of them know they will have nightmares at the sight and can only hope this was some horrible hallucination. They run for their lives through the portal.

Gormless comes out on the other side of the portal to find both Barton and Cinnamon already there, looking confused. Everyone else is behind him too. Peering around, they find themselves to be in the exact same area they were in before. The knight is at his post in front of the bridge, the rabbit in its cave, and fog surrounds them on all sides. They experiment with the portals and find that going back through the one they exited from leads them back to the white dragon. Going through the other one leads to being in stasis until everyone else goes through it. The only thing left for them to try is the cave with the rabbit. Not having enough arrows to safely kill it from afar, Gormless blinds it with a dust devil and bolts through to see what lies in the rear of the cave before anyone can stop him.

Unsurprisingly, the cave ends in more fog. Gormless keeps going but doesn't find anything other than featureless dirt and fog. He turns back reluctantly and regroups with the others. The next idea they come up with is trying to kill the rabbit with the knight's sword. Barton disarms the man (literally). He also removes the man's legs. Gormless gets queasy and doesn't understand the need to torture the poor knight. But something does change at this. Urhzal finds a gem on the ground. After Barton picks it up everyone tries the portal again and are finally transported to a new place. The suits of armor along the walls stand out most prominently and the group quickly realize they are inside a large circular building. Hoping it is the tower, they examine the armor while Gormless keeps watch. A quiet creaking above them causes the group to freeze. Gormless turns into a bat and flies upstairs to examine the area but before he gets very far a wall of ice blocks off the stairways back down. Ahead of him stands a suit of armor with glowing red eyes. It is grinning at him. Urhzal quickly dispels the ice and the others charge upstairs.

And very quickly all charge back downstairs and back through the portal at the aura of terror the fell knight exudes. They quickly regroup and camp for the night. After making a plan, Barton goes through the portal alone and tries to grab one set of the armor. He finds the knight downstairs but not advancing very quickly. Barton manages to secure the armor and quickly retreats. The others have been waiting for him for an hour inside the strange field, while he was only gone for a single minute. Urhzal is fascinated by this, but unfortunately the group needs to keep going. As one they touch the portal and face off against the knight on the other side. Gormless tries several of his classic magics (heat metal, faerie fire, summon insects) but find all save the swarm fail to have any effect on their enemy. Barton and Urhzal square off against the knight in melee combat as Taewulf attacks with arrows from afar. Mardok races past and up the stairs to slot the green gem into the door. The knight senses this and in a last desperate act causes himself to explode. Urhzal is incinerated. Taewulf nearly dies before Gormless manages to spend all of his cure spells on him to get the ranger back on his feet. There is nothing left of the knight except its sword and shield, which Barton claims.

Acting quickly, Gormless, Barton, and Taewulf takes Urhzal's body back through the portal in the hopes that he will reappear alive on the other side. Alas, it is not to be, and the consign his body through the other portal after stripping him of his gear and items. It would be wrong to leave him in this unnatural place. Better for him to return to his homeland, even if a hungry dragon awaits on the other side. Gormless then rests and spends all of his healing spells to get Taewulf back to full health and rests again. Barton and Taewulf practice sparring so Barton can learn how to use his new sword effectively. They all go back through the portal and meet up with Mardok upstairs.

The now unlocked door leads to a circular hallway with another door straight across from them. Advancing very carefully they proceed into the next room which turns out to be a banquet hall. Gormless sends Humphrey to scout each end of the hall. After several minutes the hummingbird doesn't come back from one end. Gormless goes to investigate with Taewulf close behind. They are greeted by a strange sight. Humphrey is suspended in midair, but still flying forward. The bird is confused, thinking it had been flying down a long hallway the entire time. As Gormless approaches, he sees writing on the wall and experiences a warping sensation. "Make it Four Words. Then you Walk Back." After sounding out the words (Gormless has always lagged behind in his reading abilities) and puzzling it over he tries turning around and walking backwards. Instead of returning to his friends he continues down the hallway and encounters a large, ornate door with inscribed runes and a golden keyhole in its center.

Mardok tries and fails to pick it, so the others return to the banquet hall to search for the key. As they do so, Barton opens a door and the group are swarmed by wights and ghasts. Gormless and Taewulf are paralyzed quickly and taken out of the fight. Barton gets energy drained by a wight bursting in from another door to his side and cleaves it in two in retaliation. Mardok races back to the group. The Gnome provides enough distraction that the two ravaging the stiff bodies of the druid and mage turn their attentions toward him, but are unable to strike the nimble thief. Barton continues to swing his sword with enough skill to take out another ghast, and a second wight in a pink dress and tiara that enters the room with a shriek. The arrival of Sullen Ravenspear, an imposing hulk of a man and priest of Istus. He quickly turns the fiends allowing Barton to dispatch them with ease and introduces himself to the group. Gormless, aware that the Empire was pursuing him and wary of newcomers, introduces himself thusly, "I'm errr... Zahl. Alis. Sorry, Zahlis. Oakleaf. My name is Zahlis Oakleaf." Grasping about for a name, the first ones he comes up with are the two people he caused the deaths of. Now he carries his two friends with him always and will never forget what his selfishness can cost others.

After a round of greetings the new group continues their search for the key. They encounter another wight but it is ineffective against the power of Sullen's god. Further exploration leads them to the servant's quarters where Barton pockets a bag of coins, a few rings, and a necklace. They notice during their search that Mardok has disappeared. A quick search reveals he is at the locked door with the key to open it in hand. A short staircase leads down. Mardok, Taewulf, and Sullen scout ahead while Barton and Zahlis bring up the rear. As they wait, the three at the front vanish around a corner. The three find themselves in a never-ending series of four archways that extend in each cardinal direction. Mardok tosses a small coin back the way they came and it comes flying through the opposite archway at them. Above each archway is a series of patterns. Nothing they try seems to get them out of this area.

Getting antsy, Zahlis and Barton move forward through the hall and end up joining the others. After several experiments Mardok runs down one hallway screaming for the wizard of the tower to reveal himself. A wizard does, and introduces himself as Brent, although he has no knowledge of how he got to the room or even who he is. He awoke in a room with dwarves and no memories a few days ago, and then was taken here in a flash of light. He can't help with the puzzle unfortunately. After some experimenting and studying, Taewulf snaps his fingers and draws a seres of lines through the symbols on the archways, which indicate a series of directions they need to take to exit the room. The 6 find themselves back in the hallway. Another short distance down a mouth shouts at them from the stone. Another riddle to solve, involving a series of letters, which newcomer Brent does with ease. It leads them to the end of the hall. A solid walnut door bars their way. Mardok attempts to pick it but is unable due to the complexity of the lock. Barton moves forwards to kick it down but Zahlis stops him, not wanting to be chewed on by an undead butler again. Instead, the druid warps the wood allowing them to peer inside and see a room devoid of anything waiting to attack them. Barton is given the go ahead to kick down the door and he does so with glee.

In the room there is a chessboard and a large tapestry along with two doors. Sullen hears chewing coming from one and smells a rotten odor emanating from it. Before he can say anything a dire rat appears in the middle of the room. The stench of it doubles both the cleric and Barton over. Zahlis attempts to befriend it but fails as it steps back and breathes fire over the group. It shrieks and two more appear. Brent and Zahlis bring a two pronged attack with irritation and an insect swarm and leave the rats open for big attacks from Barton and Taewulf. Mardok is unable to do much when his special crossbow seems to run out of fuel. After the initial surprise the rats are nearly a trivial fight and the group catches their breath. They open the door where they heard the gnawing sounds and find a closet with a few cloaks. Barton puts one on while the others spread out into the room.

They all make their way through the next door and into a small study. Brent finds a wizard's journal which Barton defaces, scrawling that "Barton was here as was Zhalis and Brent and Mardok Taewulf and Sullen!" Brent is not amused. Taewulf discovers a secret switch but Barton decides to first kick down the neighboring door. He fails, but fortunately the door is unlocked and Mardok opens it while shaking his head. Inside there is a cloak of displacement which Barton puts on over the other one. Zahlis pulls the switch and it leads to a wizard's lab. The massive space is filled with hundreds of books, weapons, and a shiny mirror with runes around it. Unable to decipher the arcane magics, the group decides to finish exploring the tower before returning here and figuring out the mysteries of this strange place. Taewulf finds another secret passageway leading down. Mardok leads the group and as they round a corner the magic of the tower shifts and Sullen fades out of existence, replaced by a grizzled old warrior hunting someone named Dragmore who slaughtered every one of the other soldiers in his comapany and left him with only one eye. He is confused, suspicious, and a little drunk. And is also from 3000 years in the future. A future in which the Empire has conquered everything and brought peace onto all of the land.

With a new member, they press on and discover a pulsing light, charged with electricity and giving off an ominous vibe. A brief debate makes the group turn back instead of pressing on, as Sullen is now gone and Zahlis is low on spells. They rest in the lab.

Upon waking, everything they have acquired in the tower is gone and they are all back at the portal where they fought the death knight and Urhzal died. Wolfe and Brent are confused when the other 4 have a brief moment of panic at the thought of fighting the Death Knight again. After being told they all either have to re-climb this tower or face a white dragon outside, the choice is clear. Back up they go. Taewulf tries to sneak upstairs but it spotted immediately by the knight. Even knowing the knight's strengths, weaknesses, and tactics this fight is not much easier. Zahlis attempts to warp the wood under its feet to send it crashing to the floor below while they run past, but the thick beams only bend heavily without breaking. The trio of Taewulf, Barton, and Wolfe all steel themselves against fear and hack away from all sides while Mardok pumps bolts into it. Brent's first few spells fizzle against the knight's spell resistance. Mardok decides to race for the door and open it so they can get through while Zahlis covers the group with an obscurement spell. The knight casts a wall of ice over the door to thwart their attempts. The distraction is enough for Barton and Wolfe to bring it down. It sinks to a knee and cackles madly. Zahlis knows what is about to come and quickly changes into a ram and charges. Although he hits the knight, it feels like running into solid stone. The knight doesn't budge and explodes. Wolfe, Barton, and Zahlis are all caught in the blast but manage to somehow survive. They retreat through the portal to the bunny zone and rest.

Once back in the tower they forge ahead to the dining room and deal with the wights. Zahlis prepared for this and set up a blistering wall of fire that set the room ablaze but kept them all out of harm's way, with only the young druid taking a single hit and getting drained from the negative energy. However, since the group was acting differently during this trip through the tower, they managed to awaken several gargoyles. They all move to engage, minus Zahlis who created a water tornado to extinguish the fire. Once the gargoyle's are dispatched (with the last turning to flee) they search the charred rooms for the key and the treasures they knew to be there from the previous searching. Unfortunately the blaze melted the tiara and fused some gold into a solid lump, but otherwise everything is recoverable. Taewulf even finds a rare bottle of wine that they all missed previously.

The rest of the tower is simple. The riddles are the same and the teleporting rats are gone so they collect the two magical cloaks, the wizard's journal, and the weapons and ready themselves to enter the portal. Zahlis, in his paranoia and reluctance to travel in time, casts both protection from lightning and fire on himself. They enter the room and time begins to distort. Arcs of lightning shoot out but pass harmlessly through them. Barton ages a few years, and a beard appears on his face. Zahlis disappears, only to reappear a few minutes later. Brent becomes an elderly man. Mardok is frozen, stuck in time. Wolfe is unaffected and strikes at the glowing ball but nothing happens. This continues for some time, as various members of the party fall in and out of sync with the ball of energy attacking them in the portal. It spits out fireballs and lightning, but only manages to damage itself with the errant magic. Wolfe eventually lands the felling blow, and the group are sucked into the portal.

End Adventure 7

2019-04-21, 11:31 PM

Alternate title: Wizards unite!

Barton, Brent, Zahlis, and Taewulf finds themselves on an ashen ridge, overlooking a field. To the North, an angry red smear lights up the night sky. Wolfe and Mardok are nowhere to be seen.

2019-05-19, 11:16 PM
Big update