The Shattering of Darkmoon Vale

Adventure Log 11: Ghast Dire Were-Woodchucks!
We have a mission!

Adventure Log: Desnus 21, Year 4712 AR, Fireday

Finally wiggling as much as the nets would allow, she pulled out the shard, opened her bag full of dwarven tankards, and shoved the shard into the cursed, animated tankard. As she handled the shard, she had a vision of the Irespan in Magnimar, but had little time to ponder over it as the tankard sprang from her hand with even greater strength than previously witnessed, busted through the nets, and began smashing the chains in an attempt to crush her head.

“You want it, Greypelt? Go fetch!”

The mug dove at Maurit’s head, but hit the chains instead, easily smashing the chains and leaving Maurit just enough of a gap to wiggle free. Enraged, Greypelt snapped, presumably, at Maurit’s face, but instead caught the mug in his mouth, probably damaging a few teeth in the process.

As Guy struggled vainly to break free of confinement, Nob, short on ideas, activated the treefeller, which began cutting through the chains. Meanwhile, Hugh pulled out his short-sword and pried loose one of the stakes holding the net down.

Greypelt, showing an unprecedented level of dexterity for a wold, released the mug and quickly snatched the shard from it with his teeth, flinging the shard it into the waiting hands of the hyena-headed goblin shamaness, Mother Mooneye. The goblin woman pulled a small red-and-blue sphere from a pouch at her waist and fit it into a socket in the shard, causing it to hum audibly.

As the treefeller finished sawing just enough of the chains to leave a gnome-sized gap for Nob to escape through, Maurit, now freed, ran over and picked up the mug where it had fallen inert. Hugh, standing, asked Graypelt why they wanted the shard. The wolf assured him that they wanted it purely for scholarly interest and that, now that the shard was in their possession, the party was free to leave peaceably.

Though Guy, still chained to the ground, inisted that Greypelt was lying, the goblins did, indeed, begin to withdraw. Then, without preamble, the earth rumbled and shook violently.

Everyone was knocked off their feet.

Trees toppled.

And great fissures opened in the ground right under the feet of the combatants. Nob, Egon, numerous goblins, and the nets all vanished into the fissures.

Hugh pulled a rope from his pack and tossed one end to Maurit, who dove head-first down the fissure nearest to her. The rope pulled taught a few feet above a ledge where Egon and Nob had landed. Maurit gave Egon a cursory examination, found him to no longer be breathing, and pulled off his slippers, making a mental note to come back to retrieve his body (for raising or eating, we are not sure) later. Finding Nob to still be alive, she pulled a curing potion from her pack, shoved it down his throat, and signaled Hugh to haul them both out of the chasm.

In the chaos caused by the earthquake, Guy saw Greypelt grab the fully-activated shard from Mother Mooneye and bolt. Reacting quickly, Guy hit the shard with a burning disarm spell, causing the wolf to drop the shard. As soon as Maurit’s head appeared over the lip of the fissure, Hugh dropped the rope in favor of his longbow and unleashed a volley at Greypelt.

Maurit ran flat-out after the wold and Mother Mooneye, now transformed into a giant hyena, kept pace with her. Both of them cornered the wolf just as he was retrieving the dropped shard…and just as bombs thrown by both Guy and Nob also hit. As the wolf and hyena burst into flames, Maurit, cringing from the heat, struck Greypelt with her claws, freezing him in his tracks.

Hugh fired a magical electrified arrow at the already crispy Mother Mooneye, striking her dead. Their leader fallen, the remaining goblins, those that hadn’t fallen into the fissures, scattered and fled.

Maurit then went “all alpha-predator” and ripped Greypelt’s throat out. She picked up the shard and began picking her teeth with it, coming to the sudden realization that it is the Shard of Pride, a fragment of the Sihedron which they had briefly discovered beneath Morningstar Abbey in Haggash. As she examined it, she again had a vision of the Irespan in Magnimar…specifically one of the ancient bridge’s massive pilings.

While looting Maurit finds a mask of the demon mother on Mother Mooneye’s body. Some debate ensues as to whether or not the mask’s ability to allow the wearer to breed with any animal would extend to undead creatures or to the normally infertile gnomes. While Guy pondered the possibility of Ghast Dire Were-woodchucks, Nob was quick to chime in…

“I wanna breed with anything! I need to breed! I’m getting a little long in the tooth so I need to find a nice young lass to force myself on.” Nob’s enthusiasm eventually won him the mask.

After finishing looting, the party headed back to Falcon’s Hallow to find it relatively undamaged by the earthquake. They return to the pathfinder lodge to find Elarius missing and the orphan-girl peacefully asleep on a couch. Suspicious as always, they searched the place and Guy found some bloody cloths in a trash bin. Presuming the worst, Guy took Larry’s alchemist book for safekeeping until he gets back, and Nob and Guy raided the stash of reagents (Nob emptying the bottom shelves and Guy cleaning off the top).

While the alchemist tag-team looted their employer’s laboratory, Hugh took a closer look at the bloody garments, finding them to be a dress and some sheets…and not Larry’s as they had assumed. Nob put on the mask and found that the girl was clearly no-longer pre-pubescent. He leaned in uncomfortably close to the girl to make sure the smell was coming from her, causing the girl to wake up. She seemed strangely unphased by the midget in a three-eyed hyena mask looming over her…

Hoping to confirm that the girl, whom they still thought might be a were-beast of some kind, had not done something unpleasant to Elarius, Maurit stepped outside and grabbed a passing villager who informed her that Larry left that morning heading “that’a’way”…

Maurit came back inside, shoved the gnome off the bed, and had a chat with the girl about “birds and bees and moonflowers and whatever other shit her mom told her about” and the practical reality that “now you’re going to bleed once a month”. Nob stood by giggling while they talked about lady parts, then fixed the girl with his best “gnome-stare”!

Adventure Log: Desnus 22, Year 4712 AR, Starday

After some rest and recuperation, Guy insisted that the party should return to the dwarven monastery to retrieve his bear cubs.

They head back into the mountains only to find that the monastery has collapsed completely after the earthquake. Guy and Hugh searched the rubble and found bear and wolf tracks leading away from the rubble. They followed the tracks up the mountain to a cave where they found the five bear-cubs suckling on a she-wolf. Guy consoled himself on the knowledge that they are apparently being well-taken care of and left the bears in the wolf’s care…

Crestfallen at the inopportunity to explore the monastery further, the party hit the road for Magnimar…

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Adventure Log 10: Sharpened Hoes
From the Rouged Lady, or the farming implement?

Adventure Log: Desnus 20, Year 4712 AR, Oathday

The party decides to head back to the barn and burn it down to destroy the evidence of the wolf attacks.

Leaving Elarius’s shop, the party sees a crowd gathering in the town square, many armed with torches or farm implements. Maurit slinks off to go perform a little arson as Hugh and Guy head closer to investigate the disturbance. A short man stands by a strange contraption and a pile of perfectly cut and split logs. Several representatives of the Lumber Consortium, as well as many townsfolk have gathered to watch the spectacle of the strange spinning blade cleaving through the wood.

They are intercepted by Colbrin Jabbs, the town butcher, who thanks them profusely for rescuing his son Mikra (Kimi told him) and tells them that “meat is on the house” for as long as they stay in Falcon’s Hallow.

As the party approaches, a girl steps in for a closer look, and, much to the horror of the onlookers, stumbles, falling towards the contraption…Hugh dives heroically knocking the girl away from the spinning blade, but taking a thrown log in the back.

Nob introduces Hugh to his “Tree Feller Mark 5” and, by way of demonstration, commands it to “go to town” on a table out in front of a nearby shop. The crowd stands by slack-jawed at his blatant disregard for them or their property. He then invites them back to his room at the inn to show off his collection of rusted springs, gears, and other useless junk. Guy, deciding that he’s clearly a threat to himself and others, and therefore interesting, decides to follow him.

Guy tells Nob about the old dwarven monastery and the many “contraptions” that the party found within that might interest him. Nob excitedly shoves his gears in a bag and heads for the door. They head back to Ray’s house, walking in on the corpse of Ray reading a children’s story about a man trying to sell caps. Nob grabs a book on metallurgy off of a nearby shelf and sits down to read.

Maurit, back at the farmhouse, hauls all of the corpses into the orphanage and sets it alight. She hauls the cow corpses into the barn, already rigged to burn, and kicks over a lantern, being careful to sweep up any wolf tracks around the place.

Hugh heads out to investigate the mass funeral pyre, trekking up the hill outside of town. He finds the place deserted, though the pyre appears to have more than enough fuel to keep burning for several days and close to thirty-bodies piled within. From the top of the hill, he spies a building, some ways off, also burning.

The party reconvenes at Ray’s house after a few hours to discuss their plans. Hugh suggests that they look into the possible werewolf problem with Graypelt. Guy suggests going around town with a knacker’s cart to collect any other bodies left over from the plague. Nob pushes them to head strait for the monastery.

They load of the knacker’s wagon and head out into the town to collect bodies. As they pass ’Lary’s shop, they spot a dwarf coming out. The dwarf stops in the middle of the road when the wayfinder at his belt begins glowing brightly, the needle spinning and stopping pointing strait at Guy. He immediately draws a dagger and slashes at Guy, screaming to the town that Guy is undead. Four other folks, armed to the teeth, run out of the shop, followed by Lary, just as Hugh steps in to Guy’s aid and knocks the dwarf to the ground. More townsfolk armed with hoes, pitchforks, and logging axes come running to the call.

After some intervention by Lary to calm everyone down, the two parties adjourn to the herbalist’s shop to hash out their differences. Lary informs them that the dwarf, the same Gambozl who wrote the book Ray was perusing, and his companions were on their way to Magnimar to investigate the possible return of the murderer known as the Skinpeeler.

Guy tells them all about the possible werewolf activity, and tells them about the girl they found. Maurit runs off to fetch the girl from Ray’s place. The dwarf and his companions excuse themselves, saying they need to be on their way, but Guy gets his autograph before they head out. There is much complaining about the dwarves’ rudeness after he leaves.

Maurit returns with the girl, unconcious and sick from belladonna poisoning, and Lary convinces them to leave her in his care. The party returns to the Rouged Lady and turn in for the night, intent on returning to the dwarven monastery in the morning.

Adventure Log: Desnus 21, Year 4712 AR, Fireday

Convening in the morning, the party heads for the monastery, taking the most direct route through the Darkmoon Woods. Shortly after they enter the woods everything goes silent, the birds, the wind, the trees, even their own footsteps.

Looking around for the source of the obviously magical effect, everyone’s feet slip on the ground which has become suddenly slick, and Maurit, Nob, Hugh, Egon, and Bernal fall into a deep pit with greased walls. Hugh, Egon, and Bernal all falling unconscious on impact with the floor of the pit, in a manner clearly not in keeping with the minor injuries they sustained.

Guy caught himself at the lip of the pit and, beginning to crawl away, found himself assaulted by a rain of blunted arrows and beams of greenish light from the surrounding trees. Nucanced but unharmed by the non-lethal barrage, Guy followed the assault to its source and found the trees filled with goblins. Crawling away, his hand suddenly slipped and he tumbled into a second greased pit.

The goblins continued to rain their blunted arrows and magical beams of enfeeblement, exhaustion, and admonishment down on the party, as if the pit were a barrel and the party some freshly caught fish.

Coming to his senses, Nob attempted to throw the Tree Feller Mark 5 out of the pit, then, failing that, sent his mechanical bird to fly up and set fire to the trees, sending many goblins leaping down. A few of the goblins were significantly injured by the fall, one, who fell not only out of the tree but into the pit as well, died instantly. The others, recovering from their landings set about staking chain-mesh nets over the tops of the two pits.

Maurit slapped Hugh awake and the two of them began attempting to burrow into the sides of the pit to get out of the line of fire.

The net in place, a dark man, with a dark mustache and goatee, and a dark coat, and, presumably, a dark purpose, strode to the top of the pit that contained the majority of the party and unleashed a brilliant spray of colors, incapacitating Hugh and Nob.

Another man, this one smoking a fat cigar and wearing a green ascot peeked his head over the side of Guy’s pit and attempted to charm Guy. In response, Guy lobbed a firebomb at the net over his own pit, but only succeeded in setting the grease-soaked sides of his pit on fire.

Edgrin, wearing his trademark flip-top smile, poked his head over the edge and conjured a torrent of water down on Guy’s head, putting out the fire, but causing the pit to rapidly fill up. Guy feigned fear of drowning, but Edgrin merely laughed and commented on how he knew that Guy didn’t need to breathe anymore. The man in the green ascot, taking the hint, pulled out a crude sword with an equally crude phallic symbol carved into it (which Guy recognized as a holy symbol of Ploob, a goblin deity known as the “three-legged mother”) and attempted, ineffectively, to command Guy.

Around this time, the magic that created the pits ended and the party rose gently up to the tops, where, even with the ground once more, they found themselves pinned by the staked-down chain nets and surrounded by a large posse of goblins and wolves, lead by Graypelt and a tall, female goblin with the head of a hyena.

Graypelt explained that the mother (the goblin-hyena creature) wanted the red metal shard that they had taken from the kobold king. He was quite forthright about the fact that “his pack” wanted the shard because it was a remnant of an ancient artifact and they believed it would give them the power to protect themselves from enemies like the kobolds. He went on to explain further that they did not wish to make enemies of the party, and had clearly gone to great lengths to capture them unharmed, even going so far as to hire human spellcasters to aid them.

Maurit attempted to hide the shard on her person, but had no way of concealing the powerful aura of magic it gave off, which Graypelt could apparently smell somehow. Finally wiggling as much as the nets would allow, she pulled out the shard, opened her bag full of dwarven tankards, and shoved the shard into the cursed, animated tankard. As she handled the shard, she had a vision of the Irespan in Magnimar, but had little time to ponder over it as the tankard sprang from her hand with even greater strength than previously witnessed, busted through the nets, and began smashing the chains in an attempt to crush her head.

“You want it, Greypelt? Go fetch!”

Next week…Cursed Mug + Artifact == Win

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Adventure Log 9: Where wolf?

Adventure Log: Desnus 19, Year 4712 AR, Wealday

Meeting in the morning, the party decides to head back to the Dwarven Monastery. Before that though, they head to Ray’s house to pay their respects to the dead, borrow some books, and possibly throw a kegger. They find ray’s body still slumped in his chair, a book across his lap. Bernal attempts to loot him and finds that he is animate, and stinks quite badly. Guy, recognizes another ghoul and apologizes for disturbing him. The undead Ray ignores them, continuing to read. Maurit gazes over his shoulder and reads aloud:
Glintaxe, mighty hero of the dwarven race,
Seeker of heirlooms lost without trace,
He ventured the deeps where old evil sleeps
He perished in the halls of some dark place.
His restless spirit still stalks the night,
His shining axe still glows bright,
I’ve seen his ghost, and this is no boast,
I’ve ne’er laid eyes on a more fearful sight.

Bernal inquires whether Ray is okay with his possessions being passed to his next of kin, starting a lengthy discussion about the nature of undeath and whether they have property rights. Bernal heads upstairs, finds some cedar chips, starts a fire, and starts reading. They swap the book Ray is reading and find that the book he had was a recently published pathfinder journal by Gambozl Flinteye, detailing his adventures tracking down the Magnimaran criminal known as the Skinpeeler and fighting ogres on Hook Mountain.

Bernal and Guy get into a chat about whether or not the other victims of the plague might have become ghouls and when the hunger might set in. Guy seems rather pleased by the opportunity to share his research into the subject of undead social adaptation. Bernal checks Ray’s kitchen and finds it completely devoid of any signs of meat or meat preparation. He heads next-door and purchases a kielbasa and a carrot. On re-entry to the house, Ray animates at the smell of the hot food and lashes out, seizing the carrot and devouring it with gusto.

They arrange for someone from the nearest tavern to bring large helpings of potatoes and carrots, then head out to look for other villagers that might be afflicted. They head to the outskirts of town to check to see if the nearby farmsteads have been cleared of the dead. They head to the first farmstead and find it half-burned down, smoke still rising from the roof, with a young girl sitting in a pile of ashes with a woman lying in her lap.

Guy tries to get the girl to calm down by presenting her the fennec, which completely freaks out at the scent of the girl. A quick inspections finds that the woman had some burns, but died of a broken neck. The rail-thin girl, who called herself Jeva, had signs of having been beaten, and claimed that “it was for my own good.” The party discussed what to do with her as they searched the area, finding several torn-up child corpses in the remains of the house. They find wolf tracks and begin discussing ways of identifying lycanthropes. Guy recalls that, despite the overcast skies, the previous night was a full moon. Bernal waxes wistful about lycanthropes and the undead.

They decide to head to the next farmstead, and find several partially eaten cattle littering the hillside. Continuing on they find the farmhouse abandoned, with signs of recent flight towards town, and several more dead livestock. Bernal suggests setting a trap for the presumed were-creatures that attacked the farms, perhaps with goats as bait.

They empty out a barn, set it to be readily flammable, and camp out in the barn. Late in the night, Hugh hears howling and sees a number of eyes glinting on the edge of his vision. He pulls out his glowing axe, as Graypelt stalks into the light. He tells them that his pack attacked the orphanage after catching the scent of “half-breeds and skinchangers”. The party dodges around telling him that they have the sole survivor with them, but do enlist the protection of his pack to watch over them in case any werewolves should attack in the night.

The party retires to the loft of the barn, where, before turning in, Bernal pokes Jeva with a pointed stick, just enough to draw blood, to see if she heals “too quickly”. The wound stops bleeding before they fall asleep, though whether this is supernaturally fast is hard to tell. During the night Maurit hears the girl crying and screaming, perhaps even howling, in her sleep, though come morning no one has turned into a furred quadruped.

Adventure Log: Desnus 20, Year 4712 AR, Oathday

The party awakes to find Graypelt and his pack gone and all of them still intact. They make their way back to town where they hit Elarius up for some belladonna. Bernal makes some tea with the poisonous berries and feeds it to the girl as a possible final test of whether or not she is infected. The girl’s eyes dilate and she quickly goes rigid, falling to the ground and convulsing. Guy steps in and administers some calabar bean as an antidote, unsure of whether the girl’s strong reaction to the deadly plant was due to her being a lycanthrope or just having a weak constitution.

Next week…more wolves…

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Adventure Log 8: Wolves, Bears, Souls, and Demon Butter

I’m tired and sick…I’ll clean up the prose tomorrow…

Adventure Log: Desnus 16, Year 4712 AR, Sunday

Party entered a room filled with a giant wall-sized forge. The choking odor of smelted steel tinged with burnt hair and flesh wafting on a foul wind. The jangling of heavy chains echoing ominously. A hulking dwarf wrapped in heavy steel links stood at the forge, pounding out a new link to the heavy chains that bind it. Black smoke rising from its smoldering beard, framing its freakishly contorted face in ashy darkness. At the foot of the anvil, whimpering and bound in chains is the last of the children.

Guy, Maurit, and Bernal Diaz strike up a conversation with the forge-spurned, learning that the links of its chains each contain an imprisoned soul, a concept that Bernal seemed to find quite pleasing. Bernal introduced himself to the undead menace as a member of the Brotherhood of Hypocrites and handed over the vrock-gizzard he was carrying, asking the forge-spurned if it would be kind enough to bind the souls that he had captured in the gizzard. The thing seemed pleased by the four souls offered him and by the party’s shared interests and offered to free the child if they would capture the soul of the dwarven abbot, Gristogar Ashbreath, who had somehow “bound his soul to flesh” and escaped the grasp of the forge-spurned’s god.

The party agreed and taking the forge-spurned’s directions to “head out and keep left”, they found the abbot’s quarters, along with the abbot’s body from where the abbot had apparently committed suicide using a mechanical hammer and anvil contraption to crush his own skull. Sulking in a corner of the room, they found a small misshapen homunculus. As Maurit set about looking the abbot’s corpse, Bernal leaped on the homunculus, catching it in his cloak. They hauled the thing captive back to the forge-spurned, and true to their bargain, the creature released the boy into their keeping and vanished, leaving its soul-forging hammer as a gift for Bernal.

They return to the corridor by the abbot’s quarters, but, seeing a cunning death trap involving a magnetized obelisk and a lot of headless corpses behind the next door, they decide that they should beat-feet out of there and get the kids and the cure back to Falcon’s Hollow before indulging their curiosity further.

They book it back to the entrance and up the ropes to where Graypelt and his pack were waiting. Maurit tossed the wolf the heads of the kobold king and shaman as proof of their success, as Guy interrogated the cagey animals to make sure that his bear-cubs were well. Graypelt showed them that the cubs were sleeping, kept in the care of a nursing she-wolf, and offered Maurit and Bernal their pick from the pile of loot he had piled around the mushrooms they needed, insisting that the wealth taken from the dwarves and kobolds was of no use to his pack.

As they talked, Graypelt showed a rather excessive level of interest in the “red pointy thing” that Maurit had taken from the kobold king, informing the party that it was clearly a remnant of ancient Thassilon and that he had great interest in such antiquities. When Maurit refused to let him examine the thing closer, he did not press the issue and offered to have his pack watch over them as they rested.

[[EdEd the goblin took his leave of the party to go give his tribe the good news of the kobolds’ defeat and subjugation. The party decided that they should get to Falcon’s Hollow ASAP, but did accept Graypelt’s offer to have his pack accompany them down the mountain. The party booked it down the mountain as fast as they could, with the wolves guarding their flanks and Guy, Maurit, and Hugh taking turns giving the kids piggy-back rides so that they could force-march for longer.

They stopped to rest for the night, broke their fast on the last of the bear meat (cooked in clarified butter that Bernal insisted was made from hezrou-demon fat), and bade farewell to the wolves before pushing on to the town.

Adventure Log: Desnus 17, Year 4712 AR, Moonday

The party made it to Falcon’s Hollow without incident. Seeing the signs of the substantial lumber industry in the town, Bernal covered the forge-spurned’s hammer and hid it in his bag so that so that it “could not see” the toil of the loggers.

Once they reached the town, Bernal rushed about, asking prying questions of every sick person he saw and trying to feed them the, clearly unpalatable, ironbloom mushrooms. When rebuffed by people in the streets he asked Hugh about the best inns or whorehouses and rushed off to the Rouged Lady. At the Rouged Lady, he pestered the, clearly ill, barmaid until he was allowed in to see the dame, who he found in even worse shape, lying unresponsive and barely breathing in her bed. He shoved the ironblooms down her throat, nearly choking her to death, and necessitating intubation. Guy finally caught up and complained to Bernal about him wasting their mushrooms, informing him that the shrooms were just one of several ingredients to make the cure, and lead the way to Elarius’s shop.

They reached Elarius’s shop and saw the long line of infected individuals blocking his front door. They made their way in the back again where they found ‘Lary, wearing a plague-doctor’s mask, mixing drugs at his bench, and looking likely to collapse from fatigue. Guy mixed up a caffeinated panacea for Elarius and the two of them got to work making cures. Bernal did the best he could to assist, then finally was kicked out of the way to go disperse the crowd. After a couple of hours the cure, in the form of a white powder compressed into capsules, was completed and they sent the kids out to deliver pills all over the town.

Guy mixed up some placebo pills and distributed them to the non-infected members of the town, particularly the wealthier citizens living up on the perch. The frightened lumber barons and shop-owners were quick to part with their money and Guy walked away with a tidy profit. By morning everyone in the town had been administered one or the other of the pills.

Meanwhile, Bernal headed down to the blacksmith’s shop, pulled out the forge-spurned’s hammer, and began making nails as practice. Falling into the rhythm of the hammering he soon found that he was unable to stop, driven on in his toil by the spirit of the hammer. Finally, near dawn, he collapsed in exhaustion, the hammer slipping from his grasp, and slinked back to the Rouged Lady to rest.

The party regrouped for breakfast and decided to stay in town to soak up the accolades for a while.


Final death toll from the blackscour plague, 31 villagers.

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Adventure Log 7: The Crown of the Kobold King

Adventure Log: Desnus 16, Year 4712 AR, Sunday

Kimi and Edgrin begin stripping the kobolds of weapons and armor, strapping it on and adjusting the straps to fit as best it can. As the party pokes around, another boy, Mikra, whom Kimi described as “not the sharpest knife in the block”, pokes his head out of the kitchen.

Kimi describes the dispositions of her three other friends, one, Savram having fled north when the kobolds attacked, a second, Jurin, having been snagged by mysterious chains shortly after they reached this level, and the last, Hollin, having been grabbed by kobolds before they exited the lower caverns.

They proceed north into an ossuary with many iron-barred niches, where they find Savram hiding behind a very large anvil. Kimi coaxes the boy out from his hiding place, at which point the large number of dwarven skeletons in their niches along the wall animate and begin to claw out of from behind the bars. Guy quickly makes some makeshift longspears using some 10-ft. poles and the kobold spears, and Maurit and Hugh systematically prod the skeletons from a safe distance until they stop moving.

They make their way out of the ossuary, now with three children and a goblin in tow, and head down a branching corridor. Ed informs them that the left passage leads to “scary dead things” that he and the children ran from before. Guy hears kobold voices from the doors at the end of the hall, apparently plotting rebellion against their ruler, a kobold named “Merlokrep”. Guy suggests that they should ally with the kobold malcontents and set up a new kobold king that listens to them. Ed suggests that he would make a good kobold king and runs back up the hall to fashion a mask out of a severed kobold face and Guy hands him a “fancy scholar’s hat”.

Ed knocks on the door and is greeted by Kerrdremak, who is clearly not taken in by Ed’s disguise. After some spluttering between the kobold and goblin, Guy steps in and negotiates a deal with Kerrdremak, to kill the kobold king, whom apparently acquired a “red-metal pointy-thing” that changed his behavior and caused him to order the eradication of all milk-suckers, and set him up as regent. He informs them that they caught one of the escaped children, who was being held downstairs, and that the other was dragged off by fire-breathing dogs.

Kerrdremak heads back into the room, and they hear a heated discussion with at least a half-dozen other voices, who are soon joined by several others, one of which seemed to object strongly to regicide. The party pushes into the room to “convince” the kobolds, Maurit puts an arrow through the loudest dissenter’s left eye.

The kobolds take the party “prisoner” at Guy’s suggestion and lead them north, down a rudimentary elevator, and on to king Merlokrep’s throne room, more kobolds joining the procession as they go. Kerrdremak offers a bag containing the cursed, animated dwarven chalice. The king, an imposing, muscular, red-scaled paragon of a koboldhood, rises and spits a glob of fire at Kerrdremak, calling him a moron for leading prisoners into his presence armed. The kobold honor-guard fan out blocking the other kobolds from engaging.

Maurit and Guy fire at the king, their weapons glancing off his hide harmlessly. Merlokrep swings at Kerrdremak, and misses, lodging his massive axe in the stone wall. Hugh steps up and cleaves into the king with his sword, followed by Maurit who comes in behind and paralyzes him. Hugh promptly removes his head.

Enraged by the death of their king, seven other red-scaled kobolds push past Kerrdremak’s escort and charge the party. Guy chucks the bag full of cursed mugs at one’s head, braining him and spilling the animated mug out to attack. Hugh takes a hit, but cuts his assailant in half with his counterattack. The party quickly dispatches the remaining assailants.

They hear a scream from up a corridor and Hugh and Guy charge off in that direction just in time to witness an old, white-scaled kobold cut the hart from the chest of a blond human man strapped to an altar and two others holding a red-haired boy, ready as a second sacrifice. Hugh storms in and cut all three of them to pieces before they could blink. They recover the boy, but find him to be catatonic and unresponsive.

Meanwhile, Maurit looted the king’s body, finding a long shard of coppery horicalcum which radiates an overwhelming aura of illusion magic. She carefully wraps it up and stows it away without touching it.

Guy claims the king’s crown and the party installs Kerrdremak as regent. A blue-scaled female kobold immediately comes on to Hugh, who rebuffs her, only to have her change her interests to Guy, who wears the crown who adds the koboldess, Vreggma, to his managerie.

They head out of the kobold warrens and back up the elevator, from whence they turn down a rough, smoke-choked corridor heading east. Peering through the smoke, Hugh spots a hellhound just before it attacks. Hugh takes a flaming bite and the brunt of the things fiery breath before chopping it up.

They press on into a room filled with a giant wall-sized forge. The choking odor of smelted steel tinged with burnt hair and flesh wafting on a foul wind. The jangling of heavy chains echoing ominously. A hulking dwarf wrapped in heavy steel links stood at the forge, pounding out a new link to the heavy chains that bind it. Black smoke rising from its smoldering beard, framing its freakishly contorted face in ashy darkness. At the foot of the anvil, whimpering and bound in chains is the last of the children.

Maurit identifies the thing as a forge spurned, an undead creature bound to collect souls for Droskar, the dwarven god of toil. Guy offers the thing the souls of Merlokrep and the other dead kobolds in exchange for the boy…

Next time: bargaining for souls…

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Adventure Log 6: Droskar's Crucible
"A goblin bard?! It's so cute he thinks he's people..."

Adventure Log: Desnus 16, Year 4712 AR, Sunday

The party made their way back down the mountain to the old monastery. Grabbing one of the fallen front doors, they made a bridge across the stagnant pool into the south-west corner of the place, entering into an old library covered with fungus.

Hugh peeked into the hallway, then discreetly opened the northern door into an old chapel, where they saw Bernel Diaz clutching and eyeball in his hand and searching the room. Hugh and Bernel exchanged greetings and the cleric explained that he was looking for “desecraters of the dead”…at which point everything went dark and a thing landed on Bernel’s head and began strangling him. Egon droped the thing with a quick crossbow bolt, only to have a second one drop from the ceiling. The creature missed Bernel’s head and was clawed to pieces by Maurit.

Guy identified the things as “dark mantles” and proceeded to dissect them, while Bernel turned the lights back on. Hugh spotted two more of the creatures on the ceiling and made short work of them with his bow.

Hugh and Guy told Bernel about the blackscour taint afflicting Falcon’s Hollow and the ironbloom mushrooms they had come to the monastery in search of. Bernel seemed strangely pleased by the thought of the deadly disease, and sniffed at the eyeball he was carrying (which Maurit recognized as a holy relic of Azathoth, a god of entropy and mindless destruction).

Guy stepped back to feed his bear-cubs while the others searched the room. They found some depressions in the anvil-shaped altar, but could discern no clear purpose for them.

Hugh headed out into the corridor and south to the door opposite the library. Egon popped the lock and the party stepped into a small sitting room with a table, chairs, a half-eaten crow, and a giant pile of rubble that fell on their heads as Bernel tripped a trip-wire.

Egon opens another door to the south, and was ambushed by a kobold, which Maurit quickly ate. Bernel knelt down, pulled out an old wizened, gourd-like, vrock gizzard, and kissed the kobold, drawing smoke from its mouth which he then spat into the gizzard, recapping it. Maurit recognized this as some kind of last rites meant to impede the spirit’s safe passage to the afterlife.

Backing out into the corridor, they headed north to a small room with a stuck door, in which, after some shoving, they found the dead remains of a dwarven suicide victim with a note reading “Forgive me, dark father of the forge, my toils shall never be enough.”

Across the hall to the south they found an old coat room, with a single ironbloom mushroom sprouting from a rusted nail in the wall. Gathering the mushroom, they headed north up the hall. At the next door Egon smelled urine, which he somehow identified as belonging to something large, predatory, and mammalian. After some discussion about how to befriend predators, Bernel stepped into the room and growled, attempting to sound “alpha”. A pair of she-wolves rose from behind a desk as he did so, and an abnormally large male came snarling from an adjacent chamber.

Bernel poured out an offering of pig-grease onto the desk and the large male wolf’s snarl turned to a chuckle. The wolf spoke, calling himself Greypelt, telling them that a tribe of kobolds in the caverns below had poisoned the aquifer that fed all of Droskar’s Crag, as well as the town’s wells, in an effort to kill off a tribe of goblins, Greypelt’s allies, with whom they were at war. Greypelt offered the party some ironbloom mushrooms, which his pack had been feeding off of to fend off the blackscour, in exchange for the party heading into the caverns below the monastery to root out the kobolds.

The party agreed to the wolf’s terms and headed into the next room, where they rappelled down the collapsed strairs into the caverns below. Bernel went down first and was met with several spears chucked at him by kobolds waiting in the wings. He charged, pulls out the eye of Azathoth, and allowed the dark god to have his way with the kobolds. The rest came down the rope after him, Egon jumping down and managing to shoot one of the kobolds in the eye despite the injuries he took in the fall. Hugh and Maurit followed suit and Bernel finished them off with another blast from Azathoth’s eye.

They saw a pair of goblins fleeing and scene and, giving chase, rounded a corner to see the goblins disintegrate and an evil hiss rise from the darkness ahead. A floating dwarven form shrouded in full plate came towards them, the air about it shimmering eerily, and the walls and floor sizzling and smoking where it passes. The thing’s boots scorned the earth, gliding a full foot above the masonry floor and trailing a glowing bloodletter axe behind it. They shot at it…and shot it…and shot it some more, Egon emptying his quiver. Finally with a popping noise, the floating suit of armor fell, leaving a large puddle on the floor.

Backtracking a bit, Bernel led the way into an ancient barracks, with rows of uncomfortable-looking stone beds, and was promptly attacked by a swarm of stirges which latched on and began to drain his blood. Guy promptly cleared the horrid mosquito-like creatures with a well-placed fire-bomb and patched Bernel up with a healing potion he whipped up on the side.

Hugh taking the lead now, glowing axe in hand, they headed north out of the room and proceeded up the corridor. Ahead they could see lights and hear the sounds of battle. Charging forward, Hugh saw a goblin fighting back-to-back with a human girl-child against more than a half-dozen well armed kobolds. Bernal invokeed Azathoth to “help the innocents” and Hugh charged into the fray, immediately downing one of the kobolds with his new axe. Egon followed, stabbing another kobold in the back with his knife. Bernal and Guy finished off the rest of the pack with blasts of fire and invocations to Azathoth.

The party then interrogated the goblin, who introduces himself as Edgrin and explained that he came to rescue the other goblins of his tribe who had been enslaved by the kobolds, and the girl, who introduced herself as Kimi and claimed to have come from Falcon’s Hollow the night before with several other children after over-hearing Elarius telling the party about the ironbloom mushrooms. Both were captured by the kobolds and had only recently managed a jail-break…

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Adventure Log 5: The Caves

Adventure Log: Desnus 15, Year 4712 AR, Starsday, Afternoon

Dwarves breath, or so one surmises, and where there are dwarves, there are mines, therefore, logically, there must be air-shafts which one could use to enter those mines. So reasoning, the party trekked up the side of Droskar’s Crag…

Egon, led the way, spotting a promising looking rock formation about halfway up the mountain, surrounded by a number of crude structures. After an hour of climbing, they came close to what appeared to be an old wooden stockade with broken gate, surrounding a number of stone and thatch hovels. Guy searched the ground and found some rather large bear tracks. They sneak up to the hovels and find a number of goblin bones, some broken and showing teeth marks, inside the first.

Luckily, grizzly bears are not stealthy. Egon spotted a large she-bear coming out of the cave and he and Maurit promptly peppered it with arrows, making it understandably angry. The bear charged and grabbed Guy, though Maurit downed the beast quickly with a well-placed claw. The bear was promptly skinned and removed of all useful materials (meat, fat, fur, claws, etc.)

They head into the cave and find five week-old bear cubs. Maurit asks if they can keep them and Guy pulls out his alchemy kit and tries to concoct a passable baby formula. Guy wraps the cubs up in his cloak and takes them along.

Egon spotted the sluices and other remains of a surface mine around the side of the mountain and they headed off in that direction. They found another, smaller cave entrance, only about three feet high. Guy spotted a cast-iron frying pan lying just inside and crawled in to retrieve it, at which point the oil in the pan ignited, and the pan flung itself at his face, burning him and searing itself to his flesh. Guy backed out of the hole, the pan still stuck to his face, where Egon promptly kicked the thing off, tearing a gaping hole in Guy’s cheek.

Egon crawled in, looking for traps this time, and found a partially tapped vein of silver, as well as some old rusted mining equipment.

Proceeding on towards the site of the surface mine, they find another cave, more of a shaft really, clearly cut, about 2 feet square, descending plumb into the stone of the mountainside. Guy uses lengths of string and rope to test the depth, finding it to be approximately 70 feet deep. Maurit climbed down to check it out, and spotted a furry corpse at the bottom, a dead stop with a dead thing in it. Finishing her snack, she heads back up. Climbing back down with a light, she sees that it is a test shaft, ending at the top of vein of coal.

Nearer the surface mine, they spot a halfling standing near the top of the sluice, about 50 feet further up the mountain side, staring intently at the ground, his hand near his knife, clearly ignoring them. Hugh draws his bow and calls out to the halfling, getting no response, but sees a rooster poke its head up from behind the sluice. Advancing towards the halfling, Hugh comes with spitting distance of the rooster, which charges at him, revealing itself to have a lizard’s body and bat-like wings. The rooster pecked at Hugh, and his flesh began to petrify, turning gray and rocky.

Cockatrice by horned freakHugh countered with a mighty blow of his greatsword. Egon then shot the bird, killing it cleanly. Maurit checked out the halfling, finding it to be petrified, but yoinked the kukri from its belt. She then grabs the 80-lb. statue for use as a lawn ornament. Guy stripped the cockatrice of useful bits (pretty much all of it).

As it was getting late, the party backtracked to the stockaded bear cave to set up camp. Hugh sets up where he can watch the monastery and notices a pair of dog-like creatures scamper out and towards the woods shortly after nightfall.

Desnus 16, Year 4712 AR, Sunday

They wake in the morning: bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and breathing. After brief discussion they decide to head for the monastery rather than poke around the caves some more.

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Adventure Log 4: Cursed Household Wares
Well That's Creepy

Adventure Log: Desnus 14, Year 4712 AR, Night

SoulspeakerInside, the cottage was dank, reeking, and filled with shadows. Haphazardly hung shelves lined the walls, covered in all manner of clay jugs, clouded bottles, strangely cut rocks, rotted bunches of herbs, and a museum of other crude curios and remnants of a bone grinder’s artifice. A rusted iron cauldron, with a mouth nearly 5 feet wide and a depth of at least 3 feet, dominated the hut’s single room, its ash-covered surface shaped with a relief of capering fiends and leering devils. Sounds of bubbling and boiling came from the cauldron, despite no apparent heat source. Across from the door, against the far walls, stood a high-backed chair made of wicker, the gigantic curved tusks of some monstrous beast, and thousands of human teeth. In the chair sat what looked like a corpse wrapped in filthy burial linens, its form padded with pungent herbs and sprouting patches of thick white mold.

As Egon contemplated flight from the creepy scene, Hugh strode cautiously forward. Carefully avoiding touching anything, he began to search the shelves. After about 20 minutes, he called Guy over, “Hey, is this it?” Guy compared the thing in the brine-filled jar that Hugh had found to the picture he had made of the ratstail root and nodded. Hugh called out, asking the unseen patron of the house if they could part with the root, then, receiving no response, placed a gold-piece on the shelf and handed the jar to Guy, who carefully placed the pickled herb in his alchemy kit.

Almost immediately Egon shouted as the large cauldron came to life. He fired quickly, missing the thing wildly, as the cauldron upended and spilled its boiling contents out onto Hugh and Guy, burning Hugh badly, then rolled over Guy, trapping him inside and closing the top like a hugh maw. Hugh and Maurit smashed at the thing with sword and claw, putting a couple of large dents in the side. Egon followed up with a pair of well-placed crossbow bolts, masterfully disassembling the thing.

Egon helped Guy to his feet while Hugh and Maurit approached the corpse in the chair. Hugh poked the body with his sword, making sure that it was not also animate. When it did not move, Maurit moved forward and began unwrapping the burial shroud. The only thing of apparent value they found on the disinterred body was a shrunken head, hung by a leather thong around the corpse’s neck. As Maurit examined the thing, she heard it speak to her in Necril, the language of the dead, explaining that it was a soulspeaker, a soul bound to carry messages for the bearer of the head. She named it “George” and took it for safekeeping.

After one last check of the hovel for possible dangers, Hugh suggested that the party sleep there that night to take advantage of the shelter. He was, unsurprisingly, out-voted…

They hiked through the dark woods for about a half of an hour before Hugh de Payen tripped over something lying in the trail. Bringing his light to bear, he saw the fairly fresh corpse of a man of elven descent, armed and armored, with its head caved in. Immediately above the body was a single arrow, lodged into a large tree at roughly eye-level for Hugh. lying nearby Egon found a bag, filled with heavy clinking things, and splattered with blood and brains.

After some suggestions that this was a clear sign that they should be somewhere else, Maurit stripped the body of its weapons and armor (and possibly other bits for a midnight snack). Hugh attempted to break off the arrow, and failed, attempted to strip its fletchings, and failed, and finally just yanked the thing out of the tree to find that it was constructed entirely of adamantine.

They pressed on and found what looked like the perfect campsite: higher ground, defensible, with a readily available stream. Of course, just as they found it, they heard loud crashing noises from the woods. Everyone dove for cover.

Guy snuck a peak and noticed a tall, hairy, hill giant wandering in the dark, stumbling drunkenly, and staring fixedly at the ground. The giant roared, almost a wail, and Egon was able to understand just enough to know that it was searching for…something…round…

Hugh decides to open the bag to see if what the giant lost was inside, revealing 3 large, heavy, gem-encrusted, pewter tankards, clearly of dwarven make…one of which immediately sprang to life and brained him on the head. He grabbed the cup and wrestled it back into the bag, cinching the bag shut tight.

Seeing that the giant was not paying them any attention, even with the clang of the mug against Hugh’s helmet, Egon suggested that they just go ahead and pitch camp.

The party made their way up the hill to the spot they had chosen. On the way Maurit noticed something glinting in the light of their torches and knelt to find a golden ring, large enough to fit around a man’s neck, lying in the mud. Guy broke out his supplies and whipped up a hangover cure as Egon shouted to the giant.

The giant stumbled forward, its eyes lighting up when it saw the ring, and accepted the panacea from Guy. Kardoblag, for that was the giant’s name, explained that he had met some ogres (“some little guys, but not as little as you”) earlier and accepted their offer to drink with them. When a jocular argument over how to properly roast halfling turned ugly, Kardoblag stove in the ogres’ skulls and started home. In his inebriation he misplaced his wedding ring (or rather, that he had quickly slipped it off earlier when he spotted a female among the ogres with “huge tracts of land”). Kardoblag was extremely grateful that the party had returned his ring, and had sobered him up. He feared it was bad enough getting home late. If he had returned to his wife drunken and without his ring he would not have woken up the next morning. Kardoblag thanked the party and told them that if they should ever need help, they should call on him at his house which was just over “that small hill there” (the mountain, Droskar’s Crag).

FINALLY, they made camp…

Desnus 15, Year 4712 AR, Starsday

During the second watch, Egon heard something moving on the trail in the night. He hunkered down in a defensive position and readied his crossbow, but nothing made an appearance. The party woke undisturbed, save for a large crow in a tree overhead.

After packing up, Hugh checked the trail and found five sets of shod, humanoid, footprints…too small to be human, not deep enough for a dwarf, and too large for a gnome or halfling…

They pressed on towards the dwarven monastery, following the same trail as the tracks. At the edge of the woods they spotted a fox with large ears and bright orange fur lying bleeding, its hindquarters caught fully in the jaws of a crude iron trap. Hugh and Guy moved to help the thing. As Hugh was prying the trap open, Maurit spotted a hobgoblin waiting in a nearby tree with a readied bow. She fired a warning shot up his nose, knocking him from the tree, where she and Egon promptly filled him with arrows. Two large razorcrows, over-large rooks with distinctive, jagged beaks and unkempt, oily black feathers, dove out of the tree towards the fox, clawing at Hugh and Guy’s faces. Guy promptly firebombed the birds, carefully avoiding Hugh and the fox.

The danger apparently passed, Guy carefully administered a healing potion to the fox, which he identified as a firefoot fennec. The fox seemed to really like the taste of crow, and staid close to Guy’s heels thereafter.

With fox in tow, the party continued to follow the trail up out of the forest and onto the slope of Droskar’s Crag. Sitting squat at the foot of the imposing mountain, the ruined monastery came into view between ancient gnarled trees. Made of simple stone blocks, worn smooth with the passage of time, the stout building was falling apart. Sections of the slanted shale roof had collapsed and portions of the outer wall had crumbled. Weeds and wild thorny plants ran rampant across the field leading up to the place, leaving only the slightest indication of a path that ended at the ruined front doors. Beyond, an overgrown yard sat in shadow. A few lone razorcrows roosted atop the tower and cawed ominously at those who would enter their domain.

The old path that lead up to the ruins ended about 50 feet from the monastery. Before entering the yard, the path passed between a pair of old stone statues. While one of them was little more than rubble, the other was relatively intact. The 5-foot-tall statue was incredibly worn but could still be made out as a dwarf holding aloft a great stone hammer, which Guy identified as a representation Torag, the dwarven god of the forge. Moss and creeper vines covered most of its surface.

Proceeding cautiously, the party circled the old monastery looking for other entrances. They noted collapsed towers with holes to the interior in the north-east and south-western corners of the place, and a large hole in the eastern wall of the courtyard.

They chose to enter the courtyard through the crumbling wall. Tall grasses and chunks of stone debris had all but overtaken the small yard. Off to one side, a wooden stable had collapsed into a mound of rotting timbers and moldy straw, the bones of several long-dead ponies peaking out from beneath the debris. Three doors exited from the yard into the monastery proper—a pair of double doors to the west, a single door to the north, and a lone door leading into the squat tower in the southeast corner. The bones of an ancient explorer lay next to a well by the north wall, his still-laden backpack still securely fastened to his back.

Hugh made his way around to the main entrance and picked up the tracks of the five creatures they had been following from the night before. The tracks ended at the center of the courtyard, surrounded by a large number of tracks, both reptilian and dog-like, coming from within the monastery. No further sign of the party’s quarry could be found. One can only presume that they were carried off, devoured on the spot, or somehow transfigured.

Faced with such signs, Hugh suggested that the party trek around the mountain to request aid of Kardoblag. Maurit and Guy proposed as an alternative that they should look for other caves on the mountain that might be providing ventilation or could otherwise serve as a back entrance to the dwarven mines which they suspected must be below the monastery…

Monastery

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Adventure Log 3: Taking up a Collection
Any day you wake up is a good day in the Pathfinders...

Adventure Log: Desnus 13-14, Year 4712 AR, Firesday

After some debate, the party decided to let their prisoner go his way in peace. Maurit and Guy dragged the bodies to the undercroft of the church and disposed of them as quickly and discreetly as they could.

That having been dealt with, Hugh, Egon, Guy, and Maurit agreed that they should take their leave and press on towards Falcon’s Hollow. Egon heard some muffled moaning and banging noises coming from the general store on their way out of town, but decided that he wasn’t feeling particularly heroic and refrained from informing the others.

The party trudged on through another long, wet day. Around nightfall the party reached Falcon’s Hallow, and, at a recommendation from Hugh, sought lodgings at the Rouged Lady, a local house of ill repute. Within they found that half the patrons and the doxies all had signs of sickness: ashen skin, rasping coughs, and blackened lips. They took two rooms at the back of the upstairs hall and had Hugh De Payen sleep on a chair in the hall to keep watch.

After an uneventful night, the party woke up and made their way to “Roots and Remedies”, the home and shop of the local herbalist, which also served as the local pathfinder chapterhouse. Seeing a small mob of sick people lined up outside the door of the shop, they circled around to the rear entrance where they met Elarius, the proprietor and local venture-captain, who was busy concocting various herbal treatments for the sick people outside.

Elarius was pleased to see them and quickly explained to them that the village was suffering from Blackscour, a water-borne fungal infection which had contaminated the village’s wells. He claimed to have found a purported cure for the disease in an old book he had borrowed from the lodge in Magnimar when he visited their to request additional resources from the Pathfinders. He apologized for using the party as errand-boys, but asked them to search for a number of rare ingredients needed for the remedy: elderwood moss (said to only grow on the oldest trees in a forest), ratstail (a tuberous annual currently out of season), and seven ironbloom mushrooms (“stunty little things that only grow in dark places thick with metal, a favorite among dwarves, or so I hear”).

Their mission clear, the party headed to the home of Ray Stanz, a local scholar and Egon’s cousin, to see if he had any ideas where such items might be found. Ray, who was also clearly infected, informed them that preserved ratstail was often used as a component in polymorph spells, and suggested that they inquire at the hut of Ulizmila, an old witch who dwelt in the Darkmoon Wood. For the ironbloom mushrooms, he suggested that they look in the old dwarven monastery on Droskar’s Crag. He claimed no knowledge of any “oldest tree in the forest” but directed them to inquire of Milon, an old woodsman at the Lumber Consortium camp on the eastern edge of the woods.

Ni knights1.sizedThey took their leave of Ray walked the twenty miles to the Lumber Consortium camp. Thankfully, it was only drizzling most of the day, rather than the heavy downpoor of the last two days. At the camp they spoke with Jarlben, the foreman of the camp, who was also infected, and got Milon to draw them a map to the largest tree in the forest (herring not included), as well as maps to the Ulizmila’s hut and the dwarven monastery. Not wanting to enter the forest at night for fear of woodchucks (or worse), the party stayed the night in the logging camp’s bunkhouse and set out in the morning.

Deciding to look for the tree first, the party headed off into the woods. Egon managed to spot a giant mosquito and scare the creature off before it could attach itself to Guy. Guy quickly whipped up a pair of citronella torches for the party.

Eventually they came to a place where the dense trees and thick brush of the forest gave way, parting seemingly in respect for the titanic darkwood tree that dominated the clearing. Several times taller than a temple minaret, in one direction the obviously ancient tree reached into the sky with branches like a giant’s arms, while in the other it plumbed the earth with roots thicker than a man’s waist. Its limbs broad and strong, its bark thick and so richly colored as to almost be black, and its leaves the size of bucklers, the giant thing
was less a tree and more a cathedral of boughs and branches.

Egon and Hugh spotted a patch of the moss they were searching for about 35 feet up the side of the three-hundred foot tall monstrosity of a tree. Hugh also pointed out a trio of decaying human bodies dangling from the lowest branches, though even these were a good fifty or sixty feet above the forest floor. As they were looking for a way up, a thing, bearing resemblance to a large snake with a pair of puny tyranosaurus-like arms, leaped from the tree at Hugh’s head. Unfortunately for it, it only managed to get a mouthful of mail before the party hacked it to pieces.

Guy the proceeded to harvest the poison glands from the thing’s throat, while Maurit clambered up the tree to collect the moss and throw down the bodies. They found a small handful of useful gear on the corpses, though some of it was damaged by the fall, and found an interesting signet ring bearing the mark of House Mondavik on the hand of one of the bodies.

The moss acquired, they pressed on, following Milon’s map to the witches hut. As the gloom of evening settled on the forest, Egon noticed a dim phosphorescence coming from beneath a boulder off to the right-hand side of the trail. Hugh approached cautiously, poking his citronella torch in just enough to see three small bodies crushed beneath the large stone, the glow apparently coming from their blood smeared on the rock and splattered on the ground around it, and not from, as Egon had suggested, some form of terrestrial anglerfish. Guy pointed out signs that the stone appeared to have been thrown to its current location from a point farther off the trail, and wisely suggested that the party should ignore the bodies and move on…

After another hour of walking, the sounds of the forest at night become suddenly distant as the trees part, opening into a small, almost perfectly circular glade. The nearest stands of pine, eyln, and darkwood—all typically sturdy woods—appeared to have twisted away from the clearing, as if bent by some impossibly strong wind or seemingly in an attempt to flee despite their paralyzed roots. At the glade’s center squated an ugly cottage, little more than a pile of twigs, shoots, and ivy stacked upon mud walls. From the thatched roof dangled bundles of gnarled roots, old dried beast carcasses, and knucklebone bangles, all clattering together like gruesome wind chimes. A dozen small thatched fetishes—each shaped like a tiny man, imp, or rearing serpent—stood propped in the yard, keeping guard before a rickety plank door.

Not one to be deterred by such theatrics, Hugh De Payen marched up to the door and knocked. The old, rotted door collapsed in splinters at his first blow. Inside the cottage was dank, reeking, and filled with shadows…

To be continued…

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Adventure Log 2: Chicken Boo
"He wears a disguise to look like human guys, but he's not a man, he's a chicken-boo..."

Adventure Log: Desnus 12, Year 4712 AR, Oathsday

Chicken boo 2Our heroes burst into the vestibule of Morningstar Abbey, and were immediately met by a pair of staff-wielding, robed men. Xxamtwiz fled before them, screaming that the party should “STAAAAYYY!” Hugh De Payen went down quickly under their flurry of blows. Maurit and Egon held their ground and managed to finish them off, discovering, in the melee, that the men were, in fact, very big chickens…literally.

XXamtwiz ran back and got Hugh de Payen back on his feet, just as five more of the bird-men came charging out of the nave. The first went down with one of Egon’s crossbow bolts in his head, and another was turned into roast chicken by Guy’s well-placed explosives. XXamtwiz disappeared in the ensuing chaos…

The bird-men finally defeated, the party made their way into the nave, where they found that the church floor had been dug up in many places, and they could still hear the sounds of pick-axes from below. Despite the party’s initial assumptions that the abbey was a church to Sarenrae, the altar of the church held statues to a variety of deities, and showed signs of great age. They poked their heads into the rectory in the back to find Father Dosol cringing on his bed, plugging his ears against the sounds of his church being destroyed. Blocking the rectory door with a large pew, they descended into the basement, Guy in the lead.

Guy snuck down the stairs and nearly tripped over a human-looking man with an incredibly long nose. The man apologized for bumping into Guy, in fluent and very formal Tien. Guy apologized for bumping into the man, with equal formality. They went back and forth, apologizing for quite some time…then Egon shot the man in the back.

SihedronBeyond the big-nosed man, two more chicken-men had finished digging a large hole in the back wall of the church basement. Hugh and Maurit rushed them. One drew a long, curved sword, but was quickly dispatched. The other produced a sword of solidified flame in one hand and grabbed a metallic object from the hole with his other. He lasted only slightly longer than his friend, but managed to knock out Hugh again with a well-placed blow before he too fell and bled to death on the stone floor.

As the last bird-man fell, he dropped a strange object, resembling a seven-pointed star the size of a small shield, with each spoke of the star being made from a different Skymetal. As Guy was handling the thing to appraise it, the star exploded, shattering along the seems between the various metals. The seven pieces flew out in all directions, vanishing before striking the walls. In the aftermath, everyone found themselves fully healed and somewhat stronger than before.

Egon quickly dispatched one of the long-nosed fellow, who had also been healed in the explosion, while Maurit and Guy paralyzed and tied up the last living bird-man. They dragged the bird-man upstairs, and, after releasing Father Dosol from the rectory, began to interrogate the both of them. Father Dosol proved generally clueless, apparently only recently freed from his domination by the death of the bird-men, and unaware of anything that had happened in the previous weak. The bird-man was equally unhelpful, either lacking the ability to speak or having taken some sort of vow of silence.

The party learned, from Father Dosol, that the seven-pointed object that they saw was a Sihedron, an ancient symbol of Thassilon representing the seven virtues of rulership: wealth, fertility, honest pride, abundance, eager striving, righteous anger, and well-deserved rest. The specific one they saw, large and made from seven different skymetals, might, in fact, be the original Sihedron, made by Xin, the first emperor of Thassilon. Father Dosol claimed to have no idea that a Thassilonian artifact lay buried beneath his church, but did point out that Morningstar Abbey was the oldest extant church in Varisia, older even than its northern rival Windsong Abbey.

Eventually, after many binary questions, roundabout answers, and some additional coercion, the party learned that the bird-men had come to the abbey to find the Sihedron, traveling all the way from their home in Tien to find it. The bird-men considered the Sihedron to be a holy artifact of their (undisclosed) faith, and had learned of its location beneath the abbey from a book called Milian’s Tome, which their leader had purchased off of a trader from Sandpoint. The bird-man being questioned claimed that, if released, he would return to Magnimar and attempt to locate a contact of the bird-men, a female Pathfinder by the name of Natalya Vankaskerin, at a place called the Shadow. Though, he implied, only their leader had ever spoken to this contact.

Exhausted from the lengthy, and complicated, interrogation, the party went aside to discuss what they should do now…and how to dispose of the bodies and their prisoner…

Chicken boo

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