Fractured Realms

Adventure Log 10
Adventure Log 10

Peak city
[Above is a picture of King Uridan’s palace as you see it through the Eye of the Planes (or the “cyclop’s eye” as you guys have been calling it.]

(From the tales told by Noddyl Talowyn, an Ihniko elf, once a pilindor of the tribe, then a legend in Ursa Major as one of its heroes (maybe), as he relayed them to his children in a Time of Peace after The Planes War:

“We, the other heroes and I, met in council with the regent, Coranil, and Tenebron, the Keeper of the Hate. We showed them a map of the old city, told them about our history with the Shadarkai and the Lich King, Thizeroth. My sister kept her eye on Varis even then.

“We gathered our things without much of a plan besides entering the city through Bells Gate. At the entrance, King Uridan’s Head Wizard, Cyderel, greeted us. He was dubious of the nositi orso’s chances. I was too at the time.

“Cyderel told us that he existed between the planes, trapped as a ghost on the magical fringe of what happened the day of the World Storm. He didn’t know what magic caused the protective shell around Ihniko to shrink and strengthen to seeming impenetrability around the palace. He told us that the magics on the Ihniko side were of the strongest wards and protections against all types of harm, except perhaps psychic. He also told us that there had been talk at the time of a new kind of residuum bomb the Aeristhyde were supposedly working on. Perhaps the Aeristhyde had finally created this device, but his best guess was that there was some kind of godly magic at work – either a high level sacrificial/pact like spell or direct imposition of at least one diety’s hand.

“Cyderel also revealed that the lich Thizeroth took up residence in Ihniko specifically to study the effects of that day to try to discover the elements that caused them, to backward engineer the destructive magics employed so he could wield their awesome power some day. [DM’s HINT: If there is someone who might know more about the shell and how to pass through it, it might be this lich.] Cyderel warned us not to fight the lich for he obviously was too much a match for us. He said if we faced him, the only thing that would keep him from killing us would be our usefulness to him and his maniacal schemes.

“Cyderel wondered if we might be able to bargain with the lich if we had his phylactery to use as leverage against him. The Shadarkai are back in the city looking for the lich’s phylactery, which is said to be a fist-sized sapphire that the Eternal King had hidden in the city somewhere. Supposedly one of Thizeroth’s minions moved the gem about every so often. Maybe the Shadarkai knew where to find it? Maybe they knew something else about the lich that you could use against him? Maybe we could sell out the Shadarkai to curry favor with the lich? Cyderel wondered all of this for our benefit, but he reiterated his caution about approaching the lich quite sternly, ‘Whenever you deal with powerful, evil undead, you must make sure they have good reason to keep you alive or you have a good way to kill them.’

“We thought the Shadarkai would know nothing of a way into the palace, though they did have their tunnels, city sewers which were fortified and expanded in order to fight Thizeroth’s army. [Streetwise/History] I wondered, did tunnels exist that went below the palace, providing a way into the underbelly of it? Cyderel did say the protection around the palace was a sphere though…

“So, we entered the city, unclear about how to gain entrance to the palace, but with a good deal of knowledge and certain to find undead eager to kill us. Right as we crossed the plane into the Shadowfell, and that awful miserable chilling feel of the place grabs you, we had to walk over the Ring of Bones that lines the city walls. Grasping skeletal hands and skeleton warriors sprang up to impede our progress and take our lives. We fought them back to death only to be charged by a herd of zombies. We mowed through them with little harm done to our party, until a flesh-crazed ghoul and a giant-sized zombie joined the fray. These two put some fear into us before we put them down for good.

“We rested a short while, finding no loot on the bodies. There never was on Thizeroth’s ‘subjects.’ We then moved on to Hill Street, past the statue of the Raven Queen, Shadarkai goddess of the Dead Realm and the Shadowfell. There, like she summoned them, a pack of ghouls, gnawing on some recent acquired meal emerged from a nearby house and came at us with what looked like a desperately insatiable hunger. They had a gruesome attack: once one of us was dazed by a strike of its claws, it would chomp its jagged teeth on us doing terrible harm. We were never too close to death, however, and the ghouls were eventually defeated.

“In the short rest that followed the battle, a few of us saw movement down an alley. We went to investigate that movement and wound up trailing someone, probably a Shadarkai, to a sewer grate. We then had a choice: 1) Follow/track the voyeur through the grate and into the sewers, or 2) go back to the house from which the ghouls emerged, or 3) embark on a new, as of yet undefined path.”

[Ihniko’s symbol, which adorns many Ihniko items, but most obviously their banners and clothing.]
Symbol

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Adventure Log 9.5
Adventure Log 9.5

So, we’re going to have to rewind a little from last adventure, because, since so much time has passed since we got in a real session, I juiced up what you are heading into.

If you recall (don’t worry, I know you don’t), the last post ended with this…
“In the morning, you are given a heroes’ feast. Gifts of food, fresh clothes, and equipment are given to you. Noddyl is presented with heirloom (read “legacy”) items from his people. You can sense the divide in the people’s belief in your ability to succeed in helping their situation or their king’s situation in any way. It is up to you whether you take heart in those who believe in the prophecy and see Varis (and, by association, you) as a savior type, or whether you are more pragmatic and think, even though you don’t like the way some of those elves are looking at you, they’re right, you guys are just a bunch of adventurers lookin’ for loot to collect and asses to kick, but you wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Two things need to be added: 1) Important information from the Record of Hate that Tenebron chanted to you that evening you were partying with hot elven chicks, and 2) a pre-mission meeting that is convened by the regent, Coranil, before the party leaves for the city.

1) As a reminder, The Record of Hate is the book of the wrongs committed against the Ihniko people, which provides details of their history from their arrival in Ursa Major to now. What Tenebron chants is an abbreviate version, but he gladly sits down with any and all who desire to know a richer version of the history of the land as he knows it. Where the narrative veers from perceived wrongs committed against the Ihniko, this is Tenebron filling in with anticipated follow up from the party. If you want to know more, ask.

The Record begins with the establishment of the Elves in Ursa Major through the wars they fought with the giant folk, the gnolls, and the orcs, while acting as a guardian civilization for the humans and Halflings and helping these races develop more advanced cultures.

Then there was the Call to Return Home by Lord Eladrin and the Great Schism between those who stayed (and were thereafter called Elves) and those who heeded the call (and were thereafter called Eladrin). [I encourage you guys to revisit (or visit) the wiki page and check out some of the history of the world (the top three links) to gain some clarity about all this stuff].

Fast forward about a thousand years – the Eladrin returned to Ursa Major and, over time, established an empire, the Aeristhyde Empire, under the rule of one High Lordess Ultenna. Their reign was rather shortlived, from an Elf’s perspective, that is. It ran for about 300 years but ended due to a combination of a transition of ruler’s, with Ultenna’s nephew, Aliszar, taking the throne, and the general rejection of the empire by so many.

Wars broke out at the collapse of the empire. The most notable of these, in the Record of Hate and from the perspective of the Ihniko atleast, is the War of Three Forests. This war lasted for over 100 years and included the Ihniko, the Shallanwode, and the Aeristhyde Eladrin (whose forest is the Hiverlynds of the Feywild, home to the Winter Court Eladrin, from whence they originated). Those from the Shallanwode sided with their Ihniko brothers for a long time, until their allegiance was somehow won over to the Aeristhyde and the Ihniko were confined to their tree-walled city.

The War of the Three Forests lasted over 100 years and culminated in the World Storm and the disappearance of the Aeristhyde Empire from Ursa Major for good. (However, Varis knows that noble winterkin eladrin dressed all in white, the color of the Aeristhyde empire, do infrequently visit the leaders of the Wode. While these visits aren’t official, they have the feeling of being so and for the purpose of state business. Those clad in the white of the Aeristhyde don’t bear the crest of the Empire, but that of The Winter Court. Below are pictures of the crest of The Winter Court and a signet ring bearing the symbol of the Aeristhyde Empire.)
Crest of the winter court
Aeristhyde signet ring

The destruction that caused the World Storm is believed to have started at Ihniko in a singular cataclysmic event that spread globally. The Ihniko believe the Aeristhyde are responsible for it, and they harbor a deep enmity toward the Shallanwode for their betrayal. If asked about how the World Storm was generated, they offer nothing but guesses about the kinds of magic involved as ultimately the power of it was easily beyond any of their understandings. Perhaps those in the King’s court know, as some of them are more knowledgable about such things. All the Ihniko you are with know is that the cataclysmic event devastated their city, killing 80% of their people instantly, and threw it into the Shadowfell. Another 15% of their people died in the storm and suffering after. Somehow their king and his palace survived, though it was sucked into the Feywild, where it was surrounded by a battalion of Aeristhyde who sit there to this day. It is believed that the protective magics that were placed around the city were somehow condensed, shrunken, or pushed in by the cataclysm and made stronger, in fact completely impenetrable. Weirdly, the
Palace and the hill on which it sits returns by the light of each full moon. It was only through divination magic of the Ihniko skadi (who, thankfully, was among the 5% to survive) that they knew what had happened to their king and his situation in the Fey.

The Ihniko who survived created a new camp for themselves outside of the city, just as the Shadarkai began to inhabit this place that had fallen into their realm. They came in great numbers and it did not take too long for them to become organize and begin building.

The Ihniko were two small in number to help what was happening. They were grateful when they realized the Shadarkai had no intention of spilling into the Prime Realm. Decades passed with the Ihniko keeping a sharp eye on the Shadarkai in their ruined home and helplessly watching the reappearance of their Lord’s palace every full moon. The Shadarkai renamed the city Wedburgh, rebuilt the city in typical urban fashion and gave their streets names that ironically mocked the relationship with the natural world the elves who used to live there had.

Roughly 100 years after the great cataclysm of the World Storm, a Lich Lord known as Thizeroth marched on the Shadarkai city with his legion of undead. He drove the Shadarkai out in a matter of a few years and established himself in the southeastern keep on the hill, which he had magically transplanted there from some other place. He took to calling himself the Eternal King, though the Shadarkai call him the Whispering Death, because of the whispered commands he gave his undead soldiers that were heard everywhere upon the battle field.

It has been almost 400 years since the Lich king, Thizeroth, took up residence in the city ruins, but he still resides there, according to the Ihniko. Thizeroth’s undead still roam the city, which is now a second ruin, freely. The Shadarkai had not been seen in the city for hundreds of years, but have been seen recently scurrying around the northern edges of the city. That’s the situation as it stand today.

Your party is now charged with the following mission. Try to enter the palace for two reasons: 1) to save the king, who is surrounded by a battalion of eladrin soldiers (They most certainly are winterkin eladrin, but are they Aeristhyde, meaning the empire still exists? If they are not Aeristhyde, are they part of the Winter Court of the fey?), and 2) to discover what else you can about what caused the World Storm with the hope that you may figure out enough about it to someday take down the storm walls and restore the natural order to Ursa Major. Of course, some of you are just in it to explore, kill undead, loot some treasure, and generally find adventure within the wooded walls of the once great city of Ihniko.

2) The Pre-mission meeting: Noddyl, as pilindor, or lead arrow of the tribe’s warriors is there, of course, as is Coranil, the regent, and Tenebron, the Keeper of the Record of Hate. A few other of Noddyl’s best are there, including his sister, Hillowyn, who is kind of staring at Varis, but not in a bloodlusty hatefilled glaring way like that other chic. (For a reminder of what Hillowyn looks like, see below.) These elves with Noddyl are the ones who will accompany you into what was the city of Ihniko.

Hillowyn

They show you the following map:

Ihniko map

To view this close up, right click on the picture and save it to your desktop.

Bell and Market Gates are still usable. Old gate is fallen in. You could also enter the city from the far east where there is a break in the wall. Remember, some Shadarkai have been seen in the northern sections of the city. The lich king, Thizeroth, resides in the keep in the southeastern corner (it is labeled “old church”). His loyal “subjects” roam the city freely. A hag is known to wander the eastern part of the city and even to escape into the forest now and then. Her cries can sometimes be heard for miles away, sending a chill in the spine of all who hear it.

This is where you guys ask questions and/formulate a plan.

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Adventure Log 9
Adventure Log 9

Ihniko elf

As told by Evrayn, elven skadi of the Ihniko people.

“The one of prophecy has come to our village, though he did not come with any pomp or honors due one who is said to correct the centuries old crime of the Aeristhyde. He came in the custody of Noddyl, our pilindor, the one the stars say shall accompany ‘he who carries the bear on his back’. I am ever thankful for the washer girl who noticed the mark, the constellation of Ursa Major, for we did not know how to interpret the words of our ancestor spirits until she saw the sign. There are many who do not believe, the regent for one. He even had our shameful Record of Hate performed for the nosit’i orso. The regent is so shortsighted, believing the war and its horrors to be so important. Just as our mad king. They would rather embrace death, though it is hard to blame them. We are surrounded with it, death, just as our king is surrounded by a battalion of Aeristhyde soldiers and has been for five centuries, ever since the Aeristhyde broke the world with their terrible magic. And all for what? For ‘the lost’, as they called us, to return. But the war is a far gone thing. The world turned after the World Storm, and it is ready to be turned again.

“It shall be turned by the nosit’i orso named Varis. He is from the Shallanwode. How fitting that those who betrayed us in our final hours should produce a son to rectify the evils of the Aeristhyde? And he does not travel alone. No, he came with three humans: an avenger of Ioun, a fitting companion considering the Aeristhyde’s hatred for knowledge; a cleric of Kord, for he comes ready for battle; a wizard, I think, as he must undo the magics of the evil empire; and a goliath, one of the old world, perhaps to remind the destroyers of the world as it was, before they turned it upside down with their lust for power, but this is true only in form. In the end, that one will not be with the nosit’i orso. The spirits have told me, his race prevents it. I have told the nosit’i orso as much. The spirits cannot be wrong.

“Oh, yes, I almost forgot the sleeping bard, another meaningful member of the company, full of portent, for this is the story of the sleepers who will awaken and remember the dawn. This is the story of the seasons that change though the stars are stuck in winter and how renewal, spring, is now, in these times, at this very moment, being painted onto the heavens. This is the story of how small men will grow to squash the giants who enslaved them. We will defeat the Aeristhyde and restore the integrity of this realm. Perhaps we will help restore balance to the Feywild as well. But these are far off aims. For now, let us hope they can help our king.

“How will they do this, you ask? That is a good question. The nosit orso even asked me. I was hoping he would have come with some kind of plan. Maybe the gods have yet to reveal it to him, or maybe he will come to it himself, or maybe the answer lies with one of those who go with him. Not the goliath, of course, but maybe one of the others.

“Tomorrow morning they set out for Ihniko city, our old home, a ruin of memory, a wasteland of fallen branches, a pit of lost civilization, now the home to the undead and a few stray Fey. The palace awaits them, though it appears again in three weeks time. The nosit’i orso must find a way to the king and then, he will know, if not in his mind, in his heart, in his soul then, what he must do. May the gods be with them. May Sehanine light the way in their darkest hours. May Corellon cast the grace of all Fey upon what they have undertaken to do.”

In the morning, you are given a heroes feast. Gifts of food, fresh clothes, and equipment are given to you. Noddyl is presented with heirloom (read “legacy”) items from his people. You can sense the divide in the people’s belief in your ability to succeed in helping their situation or their king’s situation in any way. It is up to you whether you take heart in those who believe in the prophecy and see Varis (and, by association, you) as a savior type, or whether you are more pragmatic and think, even though you don’t like the way some of those elves are looking at you, they’re right, you guys are just a bunch of adventurers lookin’ for loot to collect and asses to kick, but you wouldn’t want it any other way.

Stellarium ursa major

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Adventure Log 8
Adventure Log 8

Sylestra   autumnal dryad
The continued tale of the Heroes of Laranyss and their adventures in the deep Bone Forest, as told and later set down for the ages by Jan Weaversson Feys’kin.

“We were deep in the Bone Forest, walking alongside a stream on rocky, moss-covered terrain, to a city ruined in hatred and magic fire over 500 years ago. We began to hear a kind of music, put on by children’s voices, a sweet melodic humming, and then the splashing of water and a girl giggling. We were drawn to the honeyed scene of a forest nymph, rarest of beauties in the most secluded of wood, bathing in a swimming hole along the streampath, faeries attending her gayly and flying around her head like dragonflies or hummingbirds.

“The voyeuristic affair lasted a bittersweet moment, as the noise of our bold approach made her regain her modesty and cover her bountiful display. Her faerie court took positions like guards at the castle gate.

“My companions assured the nymph that we were noble in purpose and innocent of offense, indeed we hinted that we friends of the forest. She seemed to think we could help the forest heal itself if we helped her sister. Of what that help consisted we knew not and thought not to ask. Simple-minded heroes that we are, we only thought to serve. She was smokin’ hot after all. Her faeries excitedly cast their glamour upon us, and we took the shapes of eladrin nobles. She only said we would present better to her sister in the guise of the fey, and we, again, obliged unsuspiciously, because we are men with more trust than gold.

“When we met her sister, we found this winter mad nymph, or dryad witch, whatever, walking with a gang of wood woads, the most brutish of treecreatures. She instantly became incensed at our presence, seeing through the fairy glamour and being most displeased that we were not the eladring we were pretended to be. She and the woads beat us into unconscious submission, stripped us of our goods, and gave us into bondage, and you will never imagine who with… Why the very cyclops we were looking to find. We were a little worse for wear, chained to a wall on the inside of the cyclop’s cave and without our goods, but the nymph, Sylvestra, was there to unlock our shackles. Now tell me honestly, could there be any surer sign that Avandra was overseeing our every step.

“Some of us were stark mad at the girl for her earlier betrayal, but she was pleading to have our forgiveness. She honestly thought that sacrificing some eladrin nobles, AKA the Imperial Court of the Winterkin, to her wintermad sister would somehow free her of her magical insanity, and if it didn’t work, what were the lives of a few common mortals to the first offspring of Nature? She was also freeing us with the cyclops keys while her sister said goodbye to the damned creature. Plus, she was still smokin’ hot, and somehow she smelled like a field of wildflowers on a soft summer wind. I don’t know about the others, but I forgave her.

As she let us go, she explained that her sister had given us as a gift to the cyclops in order to get his help luring the real Imperial Court of the Winterkin to where they were. I don’t understand it all myself. Maybe one day I will.

“Well, we were in a dry cave, the floor was littered in the bones of animals and humanoids. Before she’d left, Sylestra told us where our belongings were, stashed behind a boulder along with the cyclops’ eye. Apparently, it wasn’t the cyclops actual eye we were after but an item. When we rolled back the boulder and retrieved our equipment, we found the giant’s treasure and his “eye”, a clear cut diamond lens in a leather headpiece with a patch for the other eye. It was clearly sized and designed for a two-eyed individual. We found out this must’ve been an item the cyclops made himself, as he had a whole workroom set up in that cave for the crafting of magical gems.

“No sooner had we found all this out then big baddy came storming in. He wielded a spiked club, big as our goliath friend. Twice he smashed that greatclub onto the earth and felled us all. His strikes were crushing, and we very nearly became more bones for the cavefloor. At the most dire point in the battle, the cyclops saw the eye on Sylus’ treasure disk and snatched it back, but only temporarily mind you. Our combined assault overwhelmed the giant at last and he collapsed in a heap.

“We were relieved for having escaped the nymph’s trap at last and to have the eye of the cyclops. We knew we were only a days travel south-southwest from the city of Ihniko. The question was, should we try to track the wintermad dryad and get our revenge, or track down Sylestra to see if she can answer our questions, or skip all that and head straight for the ruined city of Ihniko where surely legions of undead, and perhaps even more fey like the cyclops gemworker, await us.”
Cyclop narnia

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Adventure Log 7
Aventure Log 7

Maplethorn
As recorded by the Valorous Bard of Laranyss, Jan Weaverson Feys’Kin, after it’s first telling by the fireside of an encampment on the night concluding this narrative:

“The moontusk fever I had contracted in the Shallanwode infected me completely. My skin was sweating fire, and my muscles contracted in fits. Hair began to sprout in dense patches from my body, and bestial grunts and snorts forced themselves from my throat. I felt my bone structure changing in a matter of minutes. It was excruciating. At the same time, I was filled with this angry hunger, a rage that possessed my mind and drove me up in my twisted body, half man-half boar, out of my mother’s front door and toward the Bone Forest.

“I don’t remember much while I was in my animal form. My thoughts were simple. I recall brief images of the forest floor, the underbrush, other boar, and finally the battle that broke me from that madness, the battle that changed my fate forever, for it was in this battle I met a band of peerless adventurers.

“Among them was an alert and doubly-deadly elf from the Shallanwode, Varis, who I knew not before that day despite my time in the wode; a goliath warrior, Bie Gae-Al, a frighteningly tall and muscled warrior from far away in the High Peaks, wielded a greataxe with two giant hands that seemed capable of crushing rocks, or an enemy’s head, like rotten fruit; an avenger of Ioun, Andxor, who hailed from the Twin Cities and swung his greatsword each time with swift and fatal consequence. Sylus, the Roen wizard drew magical fire from thin air to strike down my bestial allies. Brandis, the battle-hardened cleric of Kord, from the Pennincula, lead the group, commanding the battle through his faith in his god and his steel.

“The group defeated my mad boar’s charge and the attacks made by the pigfriends I’d scruffed up from the forest and into a party in my hungry haste. They knocked me mercifully unconscious.

“I knew immediately my path lay with this new bold band of heroes. Their exploits, at best, could be the very record of legends, at least, a source of good humor and practice in the craft of tales-telling. I pleaded for entry into their circle, and they, having heard the recount of my own brave exploits in the Shallanwode, accepted me forthwith.

“Together we hiked back to my house, where I fetched my equipment, clothes,” he says aside with a wink, "as I was nearly as naked as the day of my birth, and other necessities.

“My mother, domestic goddess that she is and ever shall be, treated my new friends to all the good hospitality and country cooking that can be afforded on a weaver’s salary in these parts. She was ever grateful for the group’s saving me, and promised away my prized gauntlets. Alas, all loves end, and I parted gratefully with them.

“Before we all headed, glorybound, back into the Bone Forest, there was the matter of curing the fever from myself and Kord’s hand, whom I’d infected. Avandra was clearly overlooking the matter, as a high priestess of Sehanine, emissary to the Shallanwode’s sister convent in Roen, was staying at the Golden Bough. Varis (now going by the southern inflected, Var-ees), secured her assistance, but nothing more.

“Once freed from the bond of were-disease, Brandis and I recouped at my place. During this time, Derrick the Reeve, Captain of the Guard, paid a visit and presented the party with medals of commendation for their superior bravery in service of the town. These I became aware then were the very men who stamped back the most recent goblin incursions. Another sure sign of destiny unfolding, as my talents have not been paired with local-yokel, pie-in-the-sky types. These lads were heroes in earnest.”

“Yes, heroes we were to tread back into the Bone Forest and enter it’s deep heart. There, the plants themselves were alive with a kind of anger over a war long fought, won and lost, done. We fought off carnivorous vines and plant-man chokers who scaled up trees in fear of us like spiders. The only proper greeting we got was from a giant treeman, a treant so-called, Maplethorn, self-proclaimed keeper of the wood. He was in chase of a rebellious few trees who tried to drive us from even entering the woods, who cursed us as a pollutatant in the Elven tongue. He pointed us in the direction of the Cyclops Lair, where we would presumably find the Cyclops Eye, with which we will be able to see the palace of the Ihniko King. May fortune remain on our side, fair Avandra.”

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Adventure Log 6
Adventure Log 6

Boar
Bivouacked at the edge of the Bone Forest, the party smelled the moisture in the air and knew that rain was on its way. Varis led the others in creating a makeshift shelter from branches of the oak trees around them. In the middle of the night, the rain came, steady and even.

In the wet morning they set out, the rain falling under the canopy as if the clouds had nestled under the roof of leaves. The party walked west in a straight path across the forest, hoping that Jan, the weaver’s sick son, had done the same. There were few noises in the forest, as the animals remained sheltered and dry, but those that were heard sounded like medium sized creatures. Were they deer? Boar? Wolves? Their tracks were hard to find, as any depression became a muddy puddle, and there were plenty of those on the forest floor.

The traveled for two days in the rain. At the end of the second day, they reached a hill, the side of which seemed to extend as far north and as far south as they could see. It provided treacherous footing, but with some rope secured to the trunks of trees tied by their champion climber Al, they all made it to the top. Al climbed a tall maple, and through a hole in its branches, he was able to see the land was depressed on the other side into a foggy, dense, dark green forest. The grey Dwarfmoors lay far, far beyond it, the very edge of the horizon.

As the party was deciding where to camp, a charge of hooves sounded. Dire boars rushed out of the underbrush, their sharp tusks dripping with the frothy spit of an angry hunger. Leading the boars, was a giant boar with a strange and frightening intelligence in its eyes. Jan!

The boars pinched the party together, running the adventurers through and knocking them to the ground. The group was put on the defensive and nearly all felt the reaper’s closeness. Varis and Al were even exposed to the Moontusk fever, Jan’s disease. It looked like the end of the heroes’ campaign when Brandis, the leader and healer of the group, collapsed, nearly lifeless, on the wet earth.

But fortune smiles on the brave and player controlled. The turn in the battle came when Andxor guarded Sylus’ revival of the party leader. With Brandis up, the healing began in earnest and the boar party fell to the consistent fight put in by the heroes. Jan, however, had fallen. Brandis turned his healer’s touch to the diseased young man, and not a moment too soon. He was revived but feeling weak from hunger, the fight, and his illness.

What will the party do now? Jan is in their care, and the dense and dangerous remnants of the legendary Ihniko stretch out to the west.

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Adventure Log 5
Adventure Log 5

Serving wench

The party climbed back up the steep cave wall to the surface of the Bone Forest with their slaves, er, I mean, the freed prisoners in tow. Once they found their own tracks, they followed them away from the cave. Varis marked the trees, so a way back could be seen.

Camp was eventually set up, and the watches figured out, while from somewhere deep in the woods wolves howled, sounding a desperate call for the party’s blood. On the fourth hour of the watch, the sound of many feet padding over the forest floor signaled the arrival of a hungry canine pack. As they rushed in, the party rose to meet them. Out of oversight or neglect, an opening was found in the party’s defense of the families they guarded and a wolf attacked and killed one of the children. The mother shrieked in surprise and heartache, as the man stood stunned. The party successfully engaged and killed off the pack before it could cause any more casualties.

That battle seemed to be the last bite from a formerly embittered forest. The whole next day and night in the forest seemed more relaxed, as if the woods itself were grateful for having the goblin taint cleansed from beneath its branches. The third day brought the party out of the forest and into Larenyss. The families thanked the party, though it, like their time together, was colored by a somber sense of trauma and loss suffered by those who were the goblinoid’s prisoners.

In Derrick’s office, the party debriefed. Derrick promised them a ceremony in two day’s time wherein they would receive medals noting their heroism on behalf of the town. As they were wrapping up, a woman’s hearty sobs could be heard in the hall.

Upon investigating, they found that this woman, Hilda Bricker, a clothe maker in the northern part of town, has had her sick son, Jan, go missing. He had been sick with a fever and at times belligerent, aggressive. She said, on top of his illness, he had been drinking. Just last night, she’d gone to bed as usual. In the middle of the night, she heard some noises, but left Jan alone, mostly because of how rude, and even threatening, he’d been to her recently. When she awoke, however, he was gone. He’d taken none of his belongings, no gear, not even the bracers he’d brought back as prized loot he’d acquired in the Shalanwode. See, Jan had always fancied himself an adventurer, could use a sword and bow with the best in town, though he had no interest in the military. He was a part of the skirmishing militia, but it never held his interest in finding out what was really out there in the wide, wild world. So, one day he decided he would head out to find the adventure he’d been looking for in his life. He had to go no further than the Shalanwode, where he met a group of elves, a community who settled in the western part of the wood. While there, he joined them on a long hike- a long scouting mission that young elves go on to keep eyes on the boundaries of the territories they roamed. On their walk, Jan and his elf companions were ambushed by a group of boar monsters, something between men and dire boars. The elves and Jan put the boarmen down. Some of the elves mentioned a curse put on men who long ago lived in the forest and raped a druid. By the turn of autumn the men became boars spelled to roam the wild forest eternally. For his comradery and courage, Jan was given a pair of bracers. They were of fine elven make and lend strength to the wearer in close combat. Jan’s mother offers these as a reward for Jan’s safe return. (Her generosity in offering them to the party pre-questfullment was checked by Derrick’s caution to her).

Half the party took Urthrak’s body to the temple, where Urhtrak’s clansman, Theodin, was helping keep up the place. He was sullen at the sight of the dead beserker, but right away began preparations for a proper ritual burial, cremation in a ceremonially constructed forge. The party helped with this. Urthrak’s belongings were now Theodin’s to return to his clan. He agreed to do so, taking on what amounted to little more than a one way trip into Moradin’s Forge.

Varis and Al stopped by Wynne Daluth’s. Wynne remembered importantly that the wizard of Ihniko had told him he needed the cyclop’s eye in his possession to look upon the palace and find the king. Not much else but excited babble was gotten from the old man before the two adventurer’s decided to leave.

Reconstituted, the party went to the house of Hilda Bricker, found the tracks of Jan, and followed them to the edge of the forest where they camped the night (the very night they were originally slated to receive honors for their most recent heroics), preparing to delve back into the Bone Forest and prove their heroism once again.

Oh yeah, and at at one point, while enjoying an ale and a meal at the Golden Bough, Al put on his charms for Sognia in hopes of scoring with one of her beautiful young serving wenches. Unfortunately, Al is a goliath of little experience in wooing human women and failed to realize how uncomplimentary the suggestion that they could be bought would be. Sognia was put off to the point of getting some townwatch to remind Al of his manners and her prominent position in the town. Sognia now looks upon the party, especially Al, with a bit more uncertainty than she did before. Chanti, however, is looking to write a hit song about your victory over the hobgoblin slaverunners.

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Adventure Log 4
Adventure Log 4
Tar hobgoblin

Grak is Dead

After a thorough debate about the pros and cons of carting off all, some, or none of the corpses they made, the party decided to move far away from the cavemouth and spend the rest of the day nursing wounds from the battles fought. All but Al were floated to their campsite on Sylus and Brandis’ magical discs. The big man, nearly as comfortable in the forest as he is on the mountainsides of the Shieldwall, covered his own enormous tracks.

After a good night’s rest, the group was back at the cave. Varis snuck quietly into the cave and found a precipice. The sunlight that flooded into the doorway cast his shadow on the sloping ceiling. Darkness gathered below. Al joined him and the two heard noises. A shuffling of feet. The air became restless. Are those goblin voices? they thought to themselves, as javelins flew past and into the goliath and the elf.

A goblin party was lying in wait, engulfed in a hexhurler’s cloud on the cave floor. Two deathjump spiders clung to the wall ready to poison anyone brave enough to climb down their webs. A range battle ensued from the cliff’s edge with arrows, blots, and spells raining down on the goblins and javelins being shot back up. The spiders pounced on Andxor and after a few violent exchanges, the avenger went down, poison coursing through his veins. The party enacted a tactical retreat to the steps of the cave, drawing the spiders to them, and the spiders were more than happy to advance.

The goblins below were falling asleep and then dying under Sylus’ spells, while Brandis called on Kord to honor the raw courage of his comrades by healing them all, bringing Andxor back from the threshold of death only for him to fall down the cliff face, trigger the pit trap and land, unconscious again, in a shallow layer of slime. 35 feet above, the spiders were slain. Al showed everybody how to climb down and not fall off of spiderwebs, those things designed by nature to keep you stuck to them, and continued the killing down below. Brandis heroically fell beside the pit and threw his arm over the edge to cast a healing prayer that saved Andxor again.

The hexhurler, who had failed to engage the opposing controller with any luck, literally none, finally died.

In the furious few minutes after the party had recomposed themselves. They rested and healed, experiencing a Highlanderesque power-up that puts steroids to shame. Wondering whether more monsters lurked down one of the four tunnels that burrowed eastward, the more perceptive of the group heard what was likely a hobgoblin barking orders down a distant tunnel, then all heard a bestial bellow that said, “I’m hungry, and you smell like good cookin’.”

After a tense quiet, the monstrous enemies burst forth from the tunnel in a collective charge. The party was suddenly faced with a bugbear strangler, a hobgoblin gang leader, two goblin blackblades, and a feyspitter spider… ouch. The melee combatants pounded on each other, while the spider threw its acidic spittle on Brandis and Sylus who hung back. There was a point when the party was thinking, Are we in for a spanking the likes of which we just endured? The strangler had Al by the throat, prepared to make a meat shield of his limp body, but the adventurers turned the tide quickly and soon the spider was all alone, fleeing down a corridor to find the place where she would die.

They had done it; Grak the slavetrader and all his gang were dead!

As the party rested again, hoping anxiously that nothing else bent on destroying them would appear, cries from a woman and a man could be heard. The true freelancers they are, loot was gathered from the dead before they turned their attention to the living. A cloak (of Chirurgeon) and a pair of (parrying) gloves were lifted off of Grak. The party then followed the cries to a cavern about 60 feet in diameter. In the center was another web, this one covering a 20×20 pit in the floor where the prisoners were kept. The party cut through webs and freed the prisoners from the hole. The prisoners were, in total, a couple with their two children, Anix (9) and Lisle (6), and a woman with her son, Jarvis (7), all of whom were taken from Larenyss recently. The couple, Dan and Rebie, are in their thirties, and their happy you are there, but they are somber and exhausted, having feared for their lives for days. The woman, mid-twenties, doesn’t speak. All the children are quiet too.

The party’s spirits weren’t dulled, though. A boon of coins and two large gems were stashed in a chest in a corner behind the goblinoid comforts of home, ragpile beds. The whole glittering heap of coins looked all the more seductive in the soft yellow light of the magical floating lantern that hovered nearby.

“Oh, darling treasure, be my bride./ We’ll lay down in the place where the goblins hide./ Between us there can be no divisioner,/ no woman, no monster, and no living prisoner.”

Bugbear Deathjump spider

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Aventure Log 3
Adventure Log 3
Bugbear

Part I

The Ballad of Urthrak, Beserker-at-your-service

The band of adventurers, rested and healed after their battle with the wolves in the middle of the night, continued to follow the tracks of the goblinoid raiders. They were confronted by a patrol who heard the noise of the party (i..e., Al) from a considerable distance and set up ambush. 2 Goblin skullcleavers attacked the party head-on, 2 wolfriders charged into the fray, and 3 goblin snipers appeared from behind trees. One lone hero struck out deep into the goblin party. He was left alone, locking down a wolfrider and an archer.

The party beat down the goblins, causing one to flee. The mighty Urthrak had fallen. With the 1 goblin fleeing, the whole party took chase, leaving poor Urthrak to die during the vital tracking attempts. The tracking proved for naught however, as it was clear the single goblin had evaded the party, and Urthrak was, indeed, dead forever.

Part II

The Allegory at the Cave

Noticing the tracks were leading them astray of the path to the slavers’ cave, the intrepid adventurers backtracked and looted the body of their fallen comrade. They pushed their way onward through the dense flora toward the cave, the burden of returning Urthrak’s belongings to his family set firmly on their shoulders.

After a few hours of their forest hike, goblinoid grunting and the rattle of armor could be heard just past the trees. A small clearing presented itself, a large rock jutting out, denying the greenery around it. A hole in the rockface was staunchly gaurded by a platoon of hobgoblin grunts and a bugbear warrior. On the rock itself crouched 3 hobgoblin archers prepared to sink their arrows into the hearts of their enemies. In front of the bugbear lay the dead body of the goblin archer who ran from the bold adventurers.

The battle began with the hobgolin’s lone charge, reminiscent of Urthrak’s fatal attack a combat ago. After exchanging volley’s with the hobgoblin archers, Varis took the bugbear’s assault in the face. Al moved in to help the elf. Andxor jumped in, his full blade hungry for goblinoid blood. Sylus put a hurt on a third of the hobgoblin platoon. The platoon’s subsequent hesitation isolated their bugbear friend, who was eventually put down. Brandis’ healing hand kept the whole party in, as they moved in and eradicated the remaining gaurds and the archers.

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Adventure Log 2
INTO THE WOODS: Who Let the Dogs Out?

Wolf Wolf1 Wolf

After enjoying victory over the second goblin raiding party, the adventurers split the party; Varis and Andxor investigated the neighboring farm, while everyone else stayed behind to interrogate the prisoners.

Varis and Andxor found a barn and house so consumed by fire that it was more prudent to let them burn. They also found the bodies of the patrol and a few of the goblin raiders scatted around the grounds. It was a poorly organized battle, which obviously worked to the goblin’s advantage.

The first goblin prisoner was helped to consciousness by Brandis’ healing hand. Awake, the goblin was then subjected to threats and questions from Brandis and Bie Gae-Al. Sylus played good cop and earned the hope of the prisoner as he pleaded, “You let me go?” The unspoken answer to the question was, “No,” when Urthrak walked up, tipsy on fermented goatsmilk, and clubbed the goblin to death. It was okay though, the party learned what they wanted- that there was a sizable group but not an army of goblinoids in the woods and that they were stationed at two locations, at an encampment a day’s travel away and a cave one additional day’s travel. They woke up the second goblin prisoner and repeated the process of intimidation and torture, confirming what the first goblin had said. The party rested the remainder of the night and in the morning returned to Larenyss to report to Derrick the reeve.

Derrick was pleased to get a report that the party had killed or captured all the goblins they encountered, though the news about the other patrol’s slaughter was disheartening. He supported the party’s decision to pursue the goblins into the Bone Forest and pledge a small army of men if that is what’s needed to defeat whatever threat lie in wait at the cave.

The party caught up with Immeral, who passed a book on the Goblin Wars to Sylus. In it, Sylus learned about the goblin tunnels that held the great goblin armies. There was a map of where the cave was located in the southern Bone Forest and maps of twenty-five miles of tunnels. The tunnels reach into the Dwarfmoors and extend beyond the maps. Sylus also learned that the Goblin’s all marched under a warlord-king named Kazzog. His flag was a blood red background and a golden halfmoon goblin face, a profile of the goblin king himself. Sylus remembered that some of the goblins the party encountered did wear items with Kazzog’s face.

Brandis found out that Brother Rothsby was neither an alchemist nor a storer of potions. Remi, the trader, however, had the potions of healing the party was looking for, at 60, no 53, no 54 gold pieces per.

Varis knocked on Wynne Daluth’s door (despite the boarded windows). Wynne answered, allowing Varis into his home and a look at the treasures foraged from many an exploration (despite the fact that he could only stay for about thirty minutes). In short, Wynne told Varis that in the Bone Forest there is the ruined elven city of Ihniko still ruled by an ancient king who believes he is still in the Three Forest’s War and the king has a servant wizard who appeared to Wynne in ghost form, beseeching Wynne to cure the king’s madness and save the people of Ihniko. Wynne believes that the city exists somehow in the intersection of the Shadowfell and perhaps even the Feywild. He is very sad to see you go (despite his wife’s protestations to his “entertaining fans”. “It’s what you get for being the wife of a legend,” he had assured her).

Finally, the adventurers return to the quest at hand and enter the Bone Forest. Varis expertly tracks the goblins back to their midway encampment, finding the eight + the escaped hobgoblin commander amidst four large tents and an extinguished fire. The commander tried to parlay with the group, but all he got was fightin’ ‘tude in response. It took some doing for the group, who battled as if missing one of their number, but the goblinoids were all killed. Treasure yield was 3 potions of healing and 12 gold. Clearly more had been at this camp, the raiding parties stopped over here, but there are tracks of another kind, of humans here. The village prisoners have been taken this way.

The party continued their pursuit of the goblinoid gang until fatigue bid them stop and camp was made. A watch was determined, and during their second watch, a pack of wolves, hungry for a midnight meal, encircled the group. The lives of two (edit: oh, i’m sorry, three) party members were on the tips of the wolves tongues, but the tide of battle turned and the wolves were killed. No treasure was gained, but some battle experience and some wisdom for Varis about the anger of the Ihniko woods, as the wolves seemed to be filled with a rabidity he had never seen before.

Scozz, EXP total?

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