Schemes of the Lich King

Episode 5: Prison of the Archmage
Ancient prisoners of the Archmage are discovered

As the adventuring party of Wolfram Delmanse, Suriveth Varune, Kouro Marmai, Ellyna Dirkane and Dracovel Kilvesh took stock of their treasures from the chamber belonging to Khrissadi, the wizard, they ascended the stairs back to Boltstrike Pillar. They wished to recuperate and perhaps have some of their items examined by some experts. Sadda Treaspeak, the lead ranger at Boltstrike Pillar agreed to examine the items and tell them what they were, if she could. Whereas some of the items had to be looked at more carefully and need time to do so, she instantly recognized the axe. She pointed out the socket that appeared in the side of the hilt, stating that magic gems, or Soul Gems could be placed into the socket, creating new magical properties. These Socketed Items were well sought after by adventurers.

After learning what they had, the adventuring party returned to their quest and ventured into the darkness below Khrissadi’s secret lair underneath Boltstrike Pillar, they were uncertain what they would uncover. However, as intrepid adventurers, they were determined to seek out what lie underneath.

What they discovered was an ancient, underground cavern, the main area vast deep with what appeared to be the remains of some structure, long destroyed. From the cavern led 7 distinct tunnels and passageways, each to some new area. Upon investigating, the group found they were lain with traps, the creator obviously having a desire to keep intruders out. But each seemed to lead to some chamber that either had a prisoner or some item that was meant to be kept out of the hands of adventurers. Among some of the highlights:

  • Strange coins from an age long past with the image of a long dead emperor upon them. These were of great interest to Ellyna who obsessively gathered all of them.
  • One nasty trap over a chasm resulted in Ellyna losing the legendary weapon, Glaezentorg.
  • An unusual tree which grew which seemed vaguely in the shape of a woman.

However, the most interesting find was an ogre magi prisoner named Coldrage (later transforming into a more pleasing human form, Koldrag). Coldrage informed the adventurers that he had been imprisoned in this dungeon for well over 200 years as he had upset the Archmage over his research into Darveil and his use of the Shadow Prophecy, Book IV. Nearby, chained to a pedestal, right out of Coldrage’s reach sat the infamous book. After tense negotiations where Coldrage seemed to know a great deal about the Shadow Prophecy, the rise of the Burning Men and other unusual facts, they released him, unsure of what he would do, despite his promise that he would be willing to help them find Darveil as that was his life’s work prior to being thrown away in this dungeon.

Upon releasing Coldrage, he did turn into his more pleasing form and they existed together, returning to Sadda to see what other secrets she had uncovered. They needed to get back to Vessyrn’s flying skiff to take them back to Horizon so they could take the Harpy’s Wake back to Dragonmeet.

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Episode 4: Forgoten Evil
Exploring the hidden underground of Boltstrike Pillar

Suriveth Varune, Kouro Marmari and Ellyna Dirkane began to investigate the mysterious door in the basement of Boltstrike Pillar. When Dracovel Kilvesh, Wolfram Delmanse and Alcide Throckmotten arrived with Alicde’s Alcarast, the mysterious artifact, the Alcarast again began to vibrate. Within moments it opened the door that had been sealed for longer than anyone could remember.

Upon exploring the secret lair underneath, looking for what may have been a Tower Amulet, the members of the Half-Moon Exploring Company came to discover that it was still inhabited. What emerged from their investigation was that an evil sorceress named Khrissadi was using the area underneath Boltstrike Pillar as some kind of secret lair where she could conduct experiments, work on crafting news spells and relax as she had a number of fine furnishings, books and treasures. Most of the details came from a book of notes she kept that the adventurers found, as well as the prisoner, Farestel, who was rescued from her servitude.

84703.jpgSeveral rooms contained dedications to some strange entity. Runes decorated walls and an altar room seemed to be dedicated to an emaciated figure with a rotting ram’s head. Its name and purpose were unknown by any of the scholars in the group. But the symbol associated with this entity was equally as appalling as it was a rotting skull. Khrissadi seemed to dedicate a great deal of time and effort to items and runes to this entity.

A number of interesting treasures were found, guarded by undead and demonic servants. The most interesting of these items were a series of books in her library, on a variety of interesting topics. Khrissadi’s Library was mostly plundered by the explorers. Despite taking much of Khrissadi’s items and freeing her prisoner, Khrissadi herself never did appear.

Eventually, the Tower Amulet was discovered behind an elaborate, magical ward. Whereas this seemed to be the item that the goblins plaguing Boltstrike Pillar were looking for, the adventures found a further passage beneath the liar and decided they had the time to delve further.

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Episode 3: The Secrets of Boltstrike Pillar
Boltstrike Pillar reveals a hidden mystery

While in the city of Horizon the members of the Half-Moon Exploring Company waited for their local contact, Galdurgo, to see if he could find cheap passage to the Dire Wood aboard one of the several flying skiffs that were anchored outside the city. While waiting, the group went to the Lucky Lady one of Alcide Throckmotten’s favorite haunts where the group entertained themselves with drinks, gambling and watching sensual dancers.

Eventually, the group met up with Galdurgo again who took them outside the city, introducing them to an associate of his, Vessryn. Vessryn owned a flying skiff and was willing to take money to ferry them to the Dire Wood. The group eventually negotiated a different form of payment. They agreed to take a ring to Shadow Port and give it to someone Vessryn knew; a woman named Ursine who was a priestess there. To ensure that the deal was done, Vessryn cast a spell on Ellyna Dirkane, which marked her as having promised to carry it there.

Upon arriving at the Dire Wood, the adventurers set off into the forest, making their way towards Boltstrike Pillar. Aside the fact that Suriveth Varune was conducting covert business for the Prince of Shadows by dropping off a sword to a contact named Maewen, the group also decided they could try and use the place as a base of operations for their research into the infamous Hellholes.

Shortly before they arrived at Boltstrike Pillar, they were attacked by a group of goblins who, by the scars and tattoos on their faces, were in service to the Diabolist. Whereas the group managed to fight off the small goblin horde, they did manage to find several interesting pieces of treasure. First, a dagger named Deviant and a sheet of parchment with the drawing of a door and a drawing of an amulet. When studied, Kouro Marmari determined that the picture could have been a Tower Amulet.

When the adventurers finally came upon Boltstrike Pillar, they met Grimwalk, the dwarven master of the pillar, as well as his two assistants, Sadda Treespeak and Valorne Leafrunner. Looking around, the adventurers saw a small camp of close to 25 humans, half elves and elves, all forest warriors and rangers, encamped at the pillar, one of which was Maewen. Grimwalk explained that it was not uncommon for goblins, orcs and other violent creatures to make raids on those in the forest. But due to the magic of the pillar, they would be unable to enter. This was a gift, for better or for worse, from the Archmage someone who may want the pillar back.

When asked about the parchment they found, Grimwalk stated that there was a magic door in the basement of the pillar that nobody had been able to enter. The picture looked just like it. When asked if they could look inside, the adventurers were rebuked, with Grimwalk saying that the dangerous magic that kept the goblins out was also magic that would keep them out, ripping them to shreds if they tried to enter. However, after further conversation, Grimwalk agreed to allow the adventurers to become attuned to the pillar and use it as a base of operations for their research into Hellholes (and investigate the basement door) if they would perform an errand – go to a nearby outpost and deal with the orcs and goblins that had camped there.

As the team was getting ready to embark, Alice noticed that the item he had taken from the Diabolist, the Alcarast vibrated the closer it got to the pillar. Alcide theorized that something inside, perhaps the mysterious door, was calling out to the Alcarast. Perhaps what was behind the door housed the Tower Amulet, and perhaps it provided secrets about the Alcarast, something that Alcide had yet to uncover.

Meanwhile, Suriveth had found Maewen and made arrangements to pass off the sword to her. Other than that, Maewen had little else to say, not bringing attention to herself.

As the adventurers set forth towards the outpost, the Greenstrand, they made it there in a short amount of time, but as they approached, they heard noises of fighting, electricity, and most disturbingly, a dragon. Eventually, when they arrived, the entire camp was littered with orc and goblin corpses, showing signs of having been bitten, attacked by lightning and skewered by lizard man spears. Realizing that something had happened outside of the plan, they quickly looked around and found a parchment in the handwriting elegant and beautiful, likely addressed to the orc commander, that said that once the amulet was taken, to simply blow the whistle and a servant would come to collect the amulet. Of course, there was a Wood Whistle on the commander’s body. Alcide quickly picked this up.

As they were planning on scouring the area longer, Glaedwin Longclef noticed that the area that appeared to be the area of Boltstrike Pillar, was under some kind of lightning storm. It quickly occurred to them that whatever was here was now back at Boltstrike Pillar. With great haste, they made their way back to Boltstrike Pillar.

Upon arriving, they saw nothing but carnage. Bodies strewn about like children’s toys, what little sign of survivors were present were being snapped up and eaten by a large blue dragon that had clearly orchestrated the attack on Greenstrand. An epic battle took place with the members of the Half-Moon Exploring Company eventually coming victorious. Though, there was no doubt of their bravery, it was assisted by the massive and numerous wounds the dragon had already incurred from the fighting. And more fighting was taking place inside Boltstrike.

Finally, moving up the tower on the inside as whatever protections had been taken out, they came to the roof where they found Valorne and numerous lizard men in some kind of ceremony. Clearly, Valorne was some kind of traitor that was secretly in service to The Three. As Valorne shouted out how The Three would have this tower and the secrets within, the heroes were there to stop him. The fight was brief, but brutal, ending only when Valorne metamorphosed into some kind of draconic hybrid and flying away, no doubt reporting his altercation to his masters.

At the end of it, Grimwalk and Sadda gave their utmost thanks to the heroes and allowed them to have whatever treasures they had found, including the sword, Glaezentorg. Further, they agreed to let them inspect the mysterious door in the basement as it was evident that the Alcarast was the key to opening it. The next step, apparently, was to open that door and see what lie beyond.

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Episode 2: Navigating Dangerous Waters
Danger presents itself in many ways

As Ellyna Dirkane planned for her assault on the Burning Men that were headed for Dragonmeet she rounded up her friends to ensure they would help: Suriveth Varune, Dracovel Kilvesh, Glaedwin Longclef and Rignark, the goblin. Ellyna knew she could not do it alone and convinced her friends to assist in the grim work.

As Ellyna left her axe with Efflin, the blacksmith for sharpening, Glaedwin watched as agents of the Crusader arrived in Dragonmeet to round up troops. Sir Sivian de Blanc, the leader of the roundup, took an interest in Glaedwin and offered to assist him in Glaedwin’s attacks against the Burning Men. Taking him outside of town to meet up with the rest of his retinue, he showed Glaedwin how the Crusader dealt with enemies – placing them on burning stone carts and parading them around for all to see their suffering. He offered Glaedwin a potion to assist with his work – a small healing potion.

While waiting for the rest of her friends, Suriveth was approached by an agent of the Prince of Shadows who knew she was heading towards Horizon. He gave her a sword that needed to be delivered to some associates in that area and that she would receive more details once she got to Horizon.

That night the group met at The Liar’s Club where they then went to await the ship, The Mist, coming into Dragonmeet. When the ship finally came in, they waited and then assaulted the Burning Men. They won a hard fought victory but the leader of the Burning Men was able to breath fire and upon his death transformed into a being of pure flames, becoming a true burning man.

They then investigated The Mist and found little of interest on board. They did find a prisoner with shadow elf blood, a woman named Hassarah who said she was a prisoner, forced to work on an alchemical formula of alchemist fire. Taking pity on her, they released her and sent her to stay with Lord Barnaby Silverarch, and suggested she may be able to make her way to Mournscape, the capital of the shadow elf empire.

The following day they set sail on the Harpy’s Wake under Captain Arthix and Giannatella. They had the desire to research some of the stories of Hellholes that were migrating in the Dire Wood. They felt they could get to Horizon in about a week’s time but would require them to go through The Spray a dangerous and mystical island chain that was the doom of many sailors and travelers. Whereas Rignark was unable to come with them, Wolfram Delmanse, a poet and rogue, was able to follow along.

On their first night out, they were hailed by a passing warship, the Dark Mistress, flying the flags of House Bowerholdt as well as that of the Dragon Empire. After being invited on board, they met Sir Mordland Bowerholdt, his sister Algia Bowerholdt and their arcane expert, a satyrn sorcerer named Mystek. Sir Mordland explained that he was in pursuit of a ship of dangerous Burning Men on a ship called, the Mist, the very agents that the heroes had already dispatched. When they told Sir Mordland they had dealt with these agents, Sir Mordland asked about the group’s leader, a female with shadow elf blood who was an alchemist named Marshalla. Coming as a great shock that they had saved and released her, Sir Mordland seemed slightly upset but admitted that she was a ruthless and sneaky individual. With the meeting done, Sir Mordland sent them back to their ship so they could move on.

A few days further into the trip they spied a ship with no markings and with tatted sails. When Glaedwin looked with a spyglass, he noticed that the name of the ship was the Sea Bitch the legendary ship used by Sethrn Kildane in search of the lost city of Darkveil. This was an important clue for anyone who wanted to find the city as anything could be on board but the ship was considered a very bad omen by sailors. Whereas they did not actively follow the Sea Bitch, the ship seemed to be heading in the same direction as they were.

The following day when the storms began to rage across the sea. they knew they were getting closer to The Spray. The Sea Bitch turned sharply into the island chain which was far too dangerous for the Harpy’s Wake to follow. They pressed on through the storm, towards Horizon. The route that continued was the most dangerous storm any of them had ever traversed but Captain Arthix and his crew managed to get them through it with no losses. The following day they arrived in Horizon. They were amazed at the magical forces that swirled around the city, some of the buildings that hovered and the three flying fortresses that floated above the city.

Shortly after arriving, Suriveth was approached by a shadowy figure who told her that the sword in her possession had to be delivered to Boltstrike Pillar just inside the Dire Wood. Suriveth broke away from the rest of the party to go to one of the many libraries and research what she could about Hellholes, Boltstrike Pillar and the Dire Wood.

The rest of the party made their way to the fanciest tavern they could find and they found themselves at the Golden Whistle where they came across Galdurgo, a storyteller and rogue who explained about Hellholes, the tragedy of the Dire Wood and the ongoing feud between the High Druid and the Archmage over the land in the Dire Wood. When Ellyna remarked that getting to the Dire Wood appeared as if it would take close to three days, and one by horses, Galdurgo then suggested the idea of using a flying skiff to get there which would only take a couple of hours. He knew just the person to introduce them to and could let them off near Boltstrike Pillar . . .

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Episode 1: A Discussion of Hellholes

Events were underway to celebrate the newest members being inducted into the Half-Moon Exploring Company at The Liar’s Club. As the custom, the most recent inductees were to be present as a sign of good faith so that the newest members could see what they had to attain. However, Glaedwin Longclef and Alcide Throckmotten were excused as they had pressing business that had come up.

The day leading up to the grand celebration found Ellyna Dirkane at her stable, caring for her prize racehorse, Bakarash. As she spent the time ensuring he was in good shape, her friend Rignark came upon her, saying he was back in town for a short stay and that recent jobs had paid well. After a short conversation, they were come upon by a herald of House Valdemar requesting Ellyna’s presence at Midnight, the Valdemar estate in Dragonmeet. Count Wilhelm Valdemar had a proposal for her. Intrigued, Ellyna was also dismayed as she knew she had to purchase attire more appropriate for nobility. She immediately set out to find her friend, Suriveth Varune who had more knowledge of these things.

Meanwhile, Kouro Marmari was traveling through Dragonmeet with his companion, Dracovel Kilvesh, the shadow elf wizard. Dracovel’s nattering and chatter was almost completely drowned out by Kourio but it was thought that a better way to ignore him was to go to the Slippery Squid for drinks. At least there, he could meet up with Rosiland and engage in less elegant and less dull conversation than he was having with Dracovel.

As Kouro and Dravovel went towards The Squid, Kouro was distracted by a gull on the pier. The gull seemed to stare at him and Kouro entered a trance, again thinking of the strange symbol he had seen a few months before on Haunta Autumtide’s crate. The thoughts were more intense than before and it was clear the symbol had some deeper meaning.

Upon finally arriving, all the usual characters were there, including the scoundrel, Quiggley, but at least now Kouro could enact the second part of his plan[ paying a tart to take Dracovel upstairs for some private entertainment and keep him at bay.

After Suriveth and Ellyna conducted their shopping, they went to find Kouro, knowing that he spent most of his time at The Squid. Ellyna wanted as much back up at Midnight as possible, not knowing what Count Wilhelm had in mind. On the way to find Kouro, Suriveth ran into a scholar from the library and began asking of legends of the Dire Wood, a massive forest to the southwest. She asked if there was anything there worth exploring as she knew her own group had done very little in the way of exploration. The professor commented that one of the interesting rumors he had heard surrounded Hellholes and the strange stories of them forming in the Dire Wood but also how they were reportedly migrating. This struck Suriveth as fascinating and determined she now had the first project for her group to investigate.

After having a brief discussion, Kouro agreed to both the trip to Midnight as well as the journey to the Dire Wood, as it sounded like something that could prove interesting. But then the group remembered they did have to be at the Liar’s Club that evening for the induction ceremony. They figured they could slip away and come back, not wanting to miss the grand party. Kouro, already intrigued by the Hellholes, decided to go to The Liar’s Club and use the library in the basement to read up all he could on these strange phenomena. What he found was that these things were far more dangerous than first expected and rather than explore them, fully, a better idea may be to observe them from afar.

As they gathered at the Liar’s Club that evening, they saw the new initiates: Illrend, Jondil and Jondall, Midian and Pendergast. They all looked excited to become new members and the Liar’s Club was awash with excitement. Lucien Autumntide made an appearance as well as some speeches and left, as was custom, so that the members of the Half-Moon could cut loose and celebrate in only the way they could. After a few drinks, Suriveth, Kouro and Ellyna departed and went to Midnight to speak with Count Wilhelm.

As it turned out, Count Wilhelm’s proposal was simple: he was interested in having Ellyna train two new racehorses he had procured. Apparently, Count WIlhelm had an interest in competing in the sport and heard Ellyna was the best trainer and racer in Terros. Ellyna agreed and Wilhelm said that the horses would arrive in about two weeks which would still be about enough time for the adventurers to investigate the Hellholes and come back. Count Wilhelm also commented on Suriveth’s shadow elf blood and commented that he had a shadow elf guest staying with him, Sorenniel. Suriveth recognized the name and was excited as Sorenniel was the master of the Consort of Shadows, a secretive organization to which she belonged, whose goal was to bring power and influence to Silivrenniel, Queen of the Shadow Elves.

Upon returning to the Liar’s Club, the party was in full swing with Midian on task to set new records of alcohol consumption within the Half-Moon. While most watched with morbid interest, watching the orc’s excesses in action, Ellyna was distracted by the fire which seemed to form into the face of a dragon, specifically The Red of The Three. They spoke of rage, of Ellyna’s place in The Red’s schemes and most of all how Burning Men, agents of Elorg, were en route to Dragonmeet and would be here within a few days aboard a ship called The Mist. Elyna was committed to killing these agents and enlisted Kouro and Suriveth to assist.

The following day, after all the cobwebs were shaken loose from the night before, Suriveth sent a note to Sorenniel requesting a matting while Kouro went to Alivyre the Expert, hoping she would have some knowledge of the strange symbol Kouro continued to see. Further, Ellyna went to Captain Arthix to request the use of his ship, the Harpy’s Wake as they wished to chart a course to Horizon as it was close to the Dire Wood. Of course, this would take them through the mystical and unusual island formation, The Spray. Captain Arthix agreed that he would set sail in three days.

While Kouro spoke to Alivyre, she showed him an unusual dagger covered in symbols and with a socket in the hilt where something could fit. She explained that each of the symbols as some kind of symbol associated with the 13th major ‘icons’ in the known world. She pointed to one of the symbol’s, the one Kouro was so interested in, and mentioned that it was a symbol used by the Diabolist It was not actually her symbol, per se, but a symbol she had been associated with over the years..

Finally, with Suriveth’s evening meeting with Sorenniel, he slipped in through the darkness and they spoke of the future as well as what Suriveth’s plans were as he likely had need of her in the coming months to which she readily agreed.

The following day, however, Ellyna had The Mist on her mind as the ship would be in port soon.

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Prologue: A Taste of Dragonmeet
An introduction to some characters in the story

Haunta Autumntide was returning to Dragonmeet, her ship, the Hell’s Fury, laden with treasures she had discovered in her recent excursion. A grand parade was organized in honor of this event, organized by her father, Lucien Autumntide. Instead of merely offloading the treasures and taking them for examination, they would be taken down the main street from the docks, to the Great Hall for a public viewing before Haunta put them aside for further review.

0000q7e5.pngSuriveth Varune, Glaedwin Longclef, Kouro Marmari and Dracovel Kilvesh decided it would be exciting to view and went to watch the mysterious and exotic items transported down the street. While watching the impressive display, Kouro noticed one item, a crate, with a mysterious symbol on the side. It was at this moment he had a strange flashback or vision of a night, several years ago, with the caravan master, Philos. In this memory, he saw this same strange symbol on a book held by a dark visitor to the encampment. When he approached, Philos sent him away with a cruel and horrific gaze that was somehow, until this moment, seemingly erased from his memory. Staggered and stunned over the incident, Kouro mentioned this to his friends and thought it would be interesting to get a closer look.

Going to the Great Hall, all the items were on display as well as endless food and drink, titled ‘A Taste of Dragonmeet’ where numerous taverns were providing their wares, paid for by House Autumntide. While deciding to get a better look, Kouro was approached by a mysterious woman and told that the Prince of Shadows had need of an item on display, a ring that Haunta had brought back. Within a short amount of time, Kouro, Suriveth and Glaedwin formed a simple plan to take the ring and bring it to the woman at The Dirty Vixen, later that evening. While there a small group of halflings ordered Glaedwin a drink and seemed pleasant in their neighborliness.

Stealing the ring proved simple and Glaedwin went off to have a few drinks and something to eat until it was time to go to the The Dirty Vixen. Suriveth, Kouro and Dracovel went to the House of Lavations to partake in a well earned steam bath.

Meeting up with each other, they went to The Dirty Vixen to hand over the ring. While en route, they were attacked by the same halflings that had purchased Glaedwin a drink. It was clear they wanted the ring and little in the way of discussion would get that out of their minds. Eventually the heroes prevailed and quickly made their way to The Dirty Vixen.

Once inside they met Captain Arthix and Giannatella, the woman who sent them on the errand for the ring. She thanked them and further explained that the Prince of Shadows was smiling on them and wanted to offer them a ship to use when needed that would be docked in Dragonmeet more often than not. Giannatella was a representative of his in Dragonmeet and she and Captain Athrix would be able to provide some of his plans with them as well as take them from place to place on the Harpy’s Wake. As to the crooked halflings that attacked, Giannatella theorized they were members of a newly formed halfling criminal gang, calling themselves the Broad Toe.

Mysterious as this was, this seemed the norm for anything with the Prince of Shadows.

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