Fractured Realms

To Kill a King (a Lich King that is)
Adventure Log 13

Queen sharonaur

The adventurers were separately questioned by Falisar, First Mage and Council to the Ihniko King. Each was asked to stand within a chalk circle and be the subject of a ritual that Falisar cast to discern the truthfulness of the adventurers statements. He asked each in turn their origins, their relationships to eachother, their relationship to any Aeristhyde or eladrin, and what brought them to the Palace of the Ihniko King.

The heroes told of where and whence they’d come, they told of their chance meeting in Laranyss and their first joint mission there in riding the countryside of a small goblin threat. Some included the groups battle with the wereboar that became your sleeping bard. Some also retold of your encounters in the deep Ihiniko woods, where you were tricked, betrayed, by a forest nymph, where you killed a cyclops and won the “cyclops eye”, where you met the Ihniko people and learned of their part in the history of the Prime Realm. The party even reported on their meeting with the Lich. Though they used him to get into the Palace, non pretended to be willing to fulfill the Lich’s wish of handing him the Ihniko king.

Collectively you gained the trust of Falisar with your honest answers. He was surprised, particularly by the cleric of Kord, in your willingness to submit to the ritual to prove your earnestness. He assured you, however, that your testimony, even coupled with his, would not convince the king. What’s worse was that Idranyl, the king’s son, would follow his mad father fanatically to the end. Furthermore, Idranyl inspired in his men the same level of devotion he felt for his father. There was hope, however; Falisar had the ear of the Queen and the two nephews, First Knights in the King’s Court. Last to the party was an Acolyte cleric of Corellon Lorethian, spiritual prodigy of the High Priest Elliodan, who died in the War of Three Forests.

Though under guard by Idranyl’s men, the party enjoyed the company of Falisar, the young priest, and the queen. In the final two minutes of their last hour before the Ihniko King’s execution decree was to be carried out, they decided Falisar should put the guards to sleep, while the queen separates the king from his crown, which contains the magical seed of the protective shell surrounding the palace, an artifact imbued with all of the magic and a piece of the soul of Uridan, King of the Ihniko elves.

Falisar knocked the gaurds out, and the Queen (rolling a 20 on her Bluff against the King) left the royal bed chamber, artifact crown in hand. Everything was going according to plan until Idranyl came rushing down the hall with Tildanyl and Rilyn, the officer nephews. The nephews were quickly snatched up to the side of the party, and Idranyl, reduced to a side of one could only try to tackle down his mother as everyone ran past him, british bull dog style.

Idranyl was successful and held his prey down, a Hamlet straddling his Gertrude, but then BGA, the brutish goliath, separated the Oedipal youth from his mother, and the party fled whole. They fled directly toward the portal, hoping the Lich would take their “king”, Falisar with the artifact crown on his head, with the queen at his side and a low level priest as manservant. The armored and armed nephews, they figured would pushing it. Those two agreed to stay behind and keep Idranyl at bay. They agreed to pay whatever penalty to pay for the others freedom. It was a very weepy moment.

You all huddled into the portal, electric blue energy snapped, crackled, and popped around you and through you, then suddenly you appeared in a different space, back in the Lich’s quarters. he bought your Bluff. Well done!

“I see you brought my gift. Please hand it over and proceed toward the exit. It’s been nice doing business with you.” The Lich was, in his mind, a man of class and manners.

Almost immediately, however, the party attacked. They faced a line of gravehounds, being directed by a skeleton legionnaire. As the party moved in, and Falisar rushed to the side to engage and lock down Thizeroth, a shadowy mad wight emerged through the table and launched itself at those in the front. As everyone held down a solid defense, hounds began to fall at the counterattack. Two mummies then emerged from crypts alongside a far wall. They entered battle and did some serious damage to the Ihniko priest. Before he could escape into a more strategic spot, he was put down, his spirit returned to his gods. Varis nearly joined the Ihniko elf, but isn’t it the story of these two elves communities, that the Shallanwode survive when the Ihniko die.

All foes were destroyed just as Falisar overpowered and slew the form that was Thizeroth for the time being. You could almost see the spirit leave the corpseform and fly back to its phylactery. Have you seen the last of Thizeroth, you wonder?

In his palace you discover some good loot, a fine ring (250 gp) on Thizeroth’s hand, a fine goblet (250 gp) on on the table. 6 gems, each worth 100 gp. 300 gp. … of shielding +2, an orb of …, and something else. Can anyone fill in the blanks in the comments? THere are also some rituals that pertain to protections, teleportation, and portals.

You look out the windows and see the palace firmly planted back on the hill. Some among you have not had the privelege of seeing the palace from this angle for 67 years, though they’ve lived in it that long. The queen is tearfilled, having left her husband, duped him into parting with his crown. What ill effects might occur when such a measure is taken? It is an artifact linked with his life spirit. She reaches into her robes and produces a finely made bow. She presents it to Varis.

“This is one of Idranyl’s bows. Take it as a token of thanks for freeing us and for bringing hope that there may be peace between our peoples.” She embraces Varis in a warm hug.

You feel like champs, you’ve just gained a level, but you remember, you are in a city full of undead, whose leader you just killed, but whose undead enough to come back and try to kill you again before you leave the city walls.

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Adventure Log 12.6
Adventure Log 12.6

Andexor launches into a narrative about the times he has heard from long ago when elves were the guides of men. Idranyl and the guards are stonefaced, but the robed man, Falisar nods at you and smiles, saying, “It is heartening to hear you recall the times when the elves stewarded the Races of Light in the Prime Realm. You know your history.” He seems to want to say more but stops himself and looks over at Idranyl.

Then, remembering etiquette, Andexor introduces himself and the party.
Falisar responds with a nod, saying, “We shall see how well met we are in just a short while. Until that time, I am Falisar, Primary Advisor and First Mage to the Ihniko King Uridan. This,” he gestures to the longbowman with the icy glare, “is Prince Idranyl, the only surviving heir-”

“That’s enough, Falisar,” Idranyl interrupts. “You don’t need to tell them any more than they need to know.”

“It will take some time to prepare.” Falisar goes off into a far corner of the room, while the rest of you wait. He will take Varis first, not because Andexor, but because he is of the Shalanwode. He will than go in the following order: Andexor, BGA, Brandis, Sylus.

Falisar beckons each you separately over to a corner of the room away from the rest of the party and Idranyl and his guards, so your conversation with him is not entirely private, but cannot be heard by the others. He motions for you to step within a small chalk circle he has drawn on the ground. Four magical runes mark the outside of the circle, each in one of the four primary directions. After your take your place in the circle, Falisar begins to chant and throws a handful of what seems like pollen dust over you. Falisar’s chanting becomes more intense and the specks of dust begin to glow with a golden light as they fall on and about you. You feel nothing from the sparks on your clothes and skin, but you can trust Falisar’s magic has taken effect as his chanting stops and he begins to question you.

Falisar questions each of you [AND YOU MUST SEND ME A SEPARATE E-MAIL WITH YOUR RESPONSES] about: 1) where you come from, 2) your relationship to the other members of your group, 3) your relationship with any Aeristhyde or eladrin, and 4) how you got to the Palace of the Ihniko King. Falisar remains stoic no matter your responses until the end of his questioning, when he says…[I’LL PROVIDE THIS TEXT FOR EACH OF YOU IN AN E-MAIL at the conclusion of your questioning. I’ll also post a follow up to this after everyone is questioned, so everyone PLEASE write to me ASAP, otherwise this stuff will eat into our time on Friday.]

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Adventure Log 12.5
Adventure Log 12.5

Okay, so you are all in the throne room of the Ihniko king. From the last post…

“The party were cautiously let into Uridan’s many columned throne room. Eight elite archers stood next to columns. Two soldiers in fine elven plate, ornately decorated with a vine and floral design as well as the symbol of the Ihniko, stood in front of the king. A young elf, his greatbow in hand, stood proudly on the dais at the king’s side. A robed elf with a long crooked staff stood on the other side. The king, hunched in his throne, wearing silks of various greens with platinum threading and a tall golden crown, looked, from under darkened brows, at the party. Though the party had won entrance into the room, the feeling they got was clear, they had not fully overturned the suspicion of those within it.”

The guards are watching you. The two in fine elven plate are whispering to each other; one, with thin features, even for an elf, and a long sword in hand, gestures toward you as he talks, the other broader with a thin, two-handed sword hanging loosely in hand, shakes his head in apparent disagreement. The robed elf with the crooked staff is eyeing you and the king, seeming to see who will betray more with their words and expressions. The king, and the young elf whose bow is still being held tightly in his grip, an arrow in the fingertips of his firing hand, are both eyeing you with seeming contempt. This young elf you realize is wearing a thin crown of silver vines. His leather armor is very finely made and ornately decorated with the symbol of the Ihniko.

Your words seem to only make those around you pause, though what you’re saying in all true of course.

“My lord,” says one of the elves in plate, a tall elf with a severe look and long blonde hair, a long sword in hand, “What these men speak of explains the sights seen from the balconies of the palace. We have all witnessed the invasion by the Shadarkai and the war that then ensued with the undead army of the lich general. It all appeared to occur in far too fast to be real. Their explanation gives reason to believe it was real and not an Aeristhyde spell to contain us in a prison of confusion.”

“Knave, you know nothing of the magic of the cruel Aeristhyde, and you know nothing of these men. Do not try to council me in this manner.”

“My lord,” interrupts the robed figure. “Permit me to cast a ritual that will discern the truth of their words.”

“The Aeristhyde have ways around such magics. You know this, Falisar. Why do you suggest this?”

“My lord, we have encountered their deceptions before, and I am sure I can determine whether the Aeristhyde have interfered with the minds of these men.”

“Very well, but you will not taint my hall with their lies. Take them to a lower chamber. Idranyl and his men will go with you as protection. If there is trouble, dispatch them immediately and return here and I will do it myself.”

You are then escorted out by the young elf bowman and the eight archers with Falisar at the lead. You are taken down a spiraling staircase to a lower hall. The room is large 60 × 40. The ceilling is 30 feet up. There is cushioned seating with endtables gathered in various places around the room. There are a few bookshelves along the two long walls. There are tapestries hung on either end of the room on the short walls. One depicts elves at play in a forest scene, nakes amidst trees and lakes. The other end shows a great battle, elves clad in armore and fighting alongside humans against giantkin, gnolls, orc and goblinkind. The purpose of the room seems to be one of casual entertainment.
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Now, your arcana rolls tell you (I assume those who rolled share their information with the group): There is a way to enlarge the portal on your end, but there are two problems with this: 1) you can’t enlarge the portal on the other end, so you would end up with a funnel effect, where you could stuff all you wanted through the larger end, but it would all still have to squeeze out of the small end, and 2) you don’t have the ritual, and if you did it’s beyond your capabilities.
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So, whatayado?

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Adventure Log 12
Adventure Log 12

Lich king

At once the hag lifted the skirt of her tattered dress and a poisonous vapor exploded into the air, searing the lungs of BGA and Varis. As she retreated, however, Varis led the party in a swarming movement toward the wretched fey, and BGA kept his eye on her, chopping into her with his enormous axe when she lashed out at a nearby ally.

The hag proved somewhat slippery, though, as she escaped being pinned down by teleporting a short distance away after an unexpected sonic blast, a scream of horrific sadness and pain, that erupted from her throat and tore through those that attacked her at close quarters. She was lucky as well, redeploying her poisonous vapors twice more, a feat unheard of for those studied in the combatant ways of the fey witches. The party was nearly overcome as they surrounded the hag and she released her toxin for a final time, with all the party having to escape the vicinity or continue to suffer harm. Brandis himself was rooted to his spot, seemingly destined to die (once more) in battle, a heroic martyr emersed in the sacred act of battle. Kord blessed his faithful servant as his swift strike crumpled the hag into a pile, and her poisonous cloud disappeared.

All that while, back on the roof of the store house, Noddyl was keeping the hulking zombie at bay. When the hag fell, the zombie fell upon the heroes. Where had Noddyl gone? Was he eaten by the zombie in one swallow? Did he hide? Or run away? Dhalglish still hasn’t turned up…

The zombie was dispatched as an afterthought and the party gathered on the roof of the storehouse to look for Noddyl. He was nowhere in sight. As the group discussed their next step, undead of different types, skeletons, zombies, ghouls, and some dark, shadowy wisp of a figure, emerged from the streets and alleys connected to the marketplace. An instant later, a cyclops skeleton with a blue-glowing eye and a large undead doglike creature emerged from the battlement, atop which the Lich King Thizeroth stood perched, vulturously eyeing all of you.

Expecting to be threatened or squashed, Thizeroth surprised them with an invitation to tea. Seeing no other option, the party, escorted by the Lich King’s guards (i.e., the skeletal cyclops and his dog), entered the chapel, the foyer of which contained nothing but a glowing blue teleportation circle. Immediately, the whole group appeared in Thizeroth’s chambers and were welcomed at a long table, ornately set, and served tea by an unseen magical hand.

Though the tea proved bitter, according to Brandis’ brave report, the deal the Lich King proposed was even moreso. In his gravelly voice, Thizeroth explained that he knew the parties intentions, as he had studied the stars and knew the myths of the Ihniko from those he had captured, interrogated and tortured. He had also studied the magics that created the original destruction of the city of Ihniko and caused the tear in the three planes: the Prime Realm, the Feywild, and the Shadowfell. He was close to backwards engineering exactly how it happened and would soon be capable of replicating the terrible effect, but he needed more knowledge, knowledge that only one who was there and understood better the magics that were at play on that day. For this reason, Thizeroth stated, he needed the party to bring back the Ihniko King, Uridan. Uridan is mad, Thizeroth assured them, but he holds the key.

“Bring him back alive and I will spare your lives,” Thizeroth promised.

“But what will you do with this power?”

“Destroy the world,” replied the Lich King, “This one, and the next one, and the next one, and the next one, until they are all nothing but an ashen void.”

“How will you get us into the palace?”

“Magic, my dear boy. I told you, I have studied these magics for 500 years. You don’t do such a thing without learning quite a lot about something.”

“Well, why don’t you go yourself?”

“Because there are protective magics much more destructive regarding necrotic energy. If I were to pass through the portal I would be disintegrated instantly. For you, I can provide some protection, and as long as you don’t retune the portal, you will be able to return here unharmed. I cannot promise that you will remain unharmed, however, that is, unless you have the King safely bound and ready to be handed over to me.”

In all, a wholly fair bargain in the mind of a 500 year old, undead, egomaniacal wizard, but somehow gaining a pass on their immediate deaths as trade for the ultimate weapon of mass destruction and planar dismemberment didn’t seem right to the party. But without a moment to rest, think about it, or even resist, Thizeroth had the party agreeing to go along with his plan, as, at the very least, it promised to place them inside the palace of the Ihniko King, where they wanted to go.

The party gathered in the teleportation circle and were teleported into a large, empty hall. Statues of Ihniko elders and heroes were set into the walls of this room and seemed to watch the party. Before the party could move, the grand double doors at the other end opened slightly. They were hailed in an archaic form of Elven, the dialect of the Ihniko. Varis spoke up, introducing himself and his purpose, but before he could finish, arrows flew across the space. One zipped by him, but the other slammed into his shoulder. The grand doors were opened only to an arrow slit. The party tried to calm the Ihniko guards, but their efforts only seemed to heighten the tension between the groups, and the grand doors were shut.

After a time, the doors opened again, and with more measured and thoughful responses, the party explained their purpose, to help the Ihniko and free their King. They explained that they were not aligned with the eladrin, that they had, in fact, been sent by the only remaining Ihniko in the Prime Realm. They mentioned the Ihniko’s Record of Hate as proof of their contact with their people.

The party were cautiously let into Uridan’s many columned throne room. Eight elite archers stood next to columns. Two soldiers in fine elven plate, ornately decorated with a vine and floral design as well as the symbol of the Ihniko, stood in front of the king. A young elf, his greatbow in hand, stood proudly on the dais at the king’s side. A robed elf with a long crooked staff stood on the other side. The king, old, hunched in his throne, wearing silks of various greens and a tall crown with a large amber gem in its middle, looked, from under darkened brows, at the party. Though the party had won entrance into the room, the feeling they got was clear, they had not fully overturned the suspicion of those within it.

They explained the passage of time, the occupation of the Lich and his army, the crossing of planes, and the faces of a few in the room betrayed their belief in what the party said. The king stolidly stared at the group awaiting something to convince him he wasn’t still fighting a war he had to win.
Wood elf king

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Adventure Log 11
Adventure Log 11

The adventurers had fought off a pack of ghouls and chased a creature down an alley to a sewer grate. It became clear that creature was most likely a Shadar-kai, one of the people from the Shadowfell, a race devoted to the Raven Queen, Goddess of Death. The adventurers decided to return to the house from which the ghouls emerged, but on their way saw a six-legged, panther-like fey beast with two wickedly barbed tentacles stalking toward them.

Varis ran for the protection of the house, while Bie Gae stepped up to buffer the party from the shifty displacer beast. As Varis entered the house, he saw two ghouls, too enamored with the feast of what turned out to be Shadar-kai remains to have attacked the party earlier. The ghouls descended on Varis, one acrobatically leaping over a table in its desperate attempt to get to him.

The displacer beast was backed off and ran away near dead due to attacks from most of the party, but then another emerged from a side street and pounced upon Noddyl. In the house, with the help of party members who had rushed in to the house having been outside fighting the first displacer beast, the battle was turned against the ghouls and the ghouls were destroyed. Then everyone was free to focus fire on the second displacer beast, dispatching it, from unbloodied to dead, in one round. Go team!

The victorious adventurers boarded up the house from the inside and searched through what remained of the ghoul’s meal. On the body parts of the decimated Shadar-kai that were strewn about the sitting parlor, 100s of years into its final decay, the adventurers were rewarded with the following pickings: a suit of leather, 2 suits of studded leather, 3 daggers, 2 long swords, a scimitar (which turned out to be a +1 Luck Blade(what luck! but no wishes…ah, 4th ed.)), and 60 gold.

The adventurers decided to hold up in the second floor bedroom furthest from the stairs. While they slept, a Shadar-Kai party crept up the stairs and began searching rooms. The adventurers awoke and stood ready for a fight, but prepared to parlay. When they opened the door, Brandis boldly hailed them and began to negotiate a partnership.

Shadarkai ihniko

The Shadar-Kai were a strange lot, with tattoos, scarification, and punk hair styles. This group of Shadowfallen was captained by Baylin Tor, a tall, muscular man with a pointed black-beard and a severe face. Upon his bald head, his neck and face, were scars, both from war and by design. He wore a suit of fine mail, clearly magical. All of his soldiers wore leather or studded leather armor with black coats of arms displaying the insignia of the Raven Queen, a raven’s feather.

In the discussion, the adventurers revealed their affiliation with the Ihniko elves and admitted their two aims: 1) finding the Lich’s phylactery and, 2) ultimately, entering the ancient Ihniko King’s Palace. Brandis’ diplomatic speech, wherein he detailed the successes of the party, most recent of which was the dispatchment of a group of ghouls who had dispatched a small platoon of Tor’s own men, compelled Baylin to accept the partnership, though he still placed one of his men with their group as a failsafe against the liability the party represented to his own agenda.

Dhalglish, Baylin’s man, was of average height, but very slender, giving him the appearance of greater height. He wore leather armor and wielded a short sword in his right hand, a dagger in his left. A light crossbow swung at his side, and a shoulder bag hung round his back. He was always almost totally silent, and often he would simply disappear into the shadows and reappear out of thin air.

It was Dhalglish who navigated the sewer passageways for the party, so that they could find the Hag in the southeast part of the city. The Green Hag notoriously roamed the old market place, right outside the palace walls that protected the Thizeroth’s chapel home, and the party thought they could maybe pump her information? The motive was vague, but the aim clear, “Find the hag.”

Dhalglish disarmed and reset traps as everyone entered and exited the sewers. “I’m glad we didn’t try to head down into the sewers ourselves,” Andxor quipped as they climbed below the city. Varis, ever watchful, caught a good look at what Dhalglish was doing on the way back up, giving him a +5 Thievery check when attempting to disarm or set these traps in the future.

The party came up in the southeasternmost corner of the city. Having heard the group surfacing, four skeletons, who were roaming aimlessly beforehand, found a purpose. Varis and Noddyl took to the roof of a small store house and began picking them off as they approached, while other party members supported at range. Just as the skeletons were getting finished off, a 12 foot tall, hulking zombie ran-shambled out from the northeast and a woman’s cry for help was heard from the west. With the choice of engaging one of the following-

Tank2
Nicole hag

-they chose the potentially hot damsel in distress, despite the fact that she was probably the hag they had come to threaten/kill/negotiate with/all of the above. How would fate repay their potential chivalry? Once they arrived in front of her, her clothes tattered to nearly revealing her sexy bits, the beautiful woman’s frown turned into a hideous, wrinkled grin. The magic facade of her beauty melted away to reveal a twisted, old face. The saddening sob of a victim perverted into the insane cackle of a killer as the hag came to the glorious conclusion that her trap encouraged you all to position yourselves perfectly in her blast radius! Oh yeah, and there’s a hulking zombie on your asses! Wait, where did Dhalglish go?
Hag1

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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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