Schemes of the Lich King

Episode 11: The Longclefs of Foothold
Suspicious Dealings from a Familiar Trading Company

The arrival from Witchburn to Foothold was without incident. However, upon arriving in Foothold it was clear the city watch was collecting a steep entry fee into the city. Quick thinking from Ellyna Dirkane suspected that flashing her House Graystone Signet Ring would prevent them from having to pay. She was correct as the city watch ushered them through.

Glaedwin Longclef, who was very familiar with Foothold as he had spent several years coming through its gates. was instantly at home in the city, remembering fondly, the vast amount of halfling families that made their homes here. More importantly, his halfling nature of partaking in the food and drink had come back to him and he set out to get his fill. He also knew exactly where they could stay, The Scattering Rams, an inn and tavern where he was well known as a good customer.

While rumormongering in the inn, the adventurers discovered that there was a sizeable amount of attacks outside the city, attributed to bugbears, gnolls and other creatures. They were given the name of one of the local scouts if they needed more details; a trollkin ranger named Dresda would have far more details if they wanted to seek her out. They also discovered that the Longclef Trading Company was seemingly alive and well in Foothold, much to the shock of Glaedwin who seemed understandably upset that someone was trading on the good name of his family business, since he was the last remaining member of the family after their tragic end. Getting to the bottom of this was something he intended to do first thing in the morning. Of course, another piece of business the group had was delivering a box to Quanto Shortcoin, a favor they were doing for Alcide Throckmotten, which, in turn, was a favor he took on for Brit Shortcoin, back in Dragonmeet.

The group sought out Dresda late in the evening, and when they interviewed her at her favorite tavern, the Wee Lass, she commented that the bugbears and gnolls she had been encountering were bearing the same symbol that adventurers had come across in Witchburn, held by the bugbears they dealt with there. The tattered symbol of a single eye on a red background seemed to indicate that these creatures were in league with one another, united under the same banner. She also mentioned that there were other creatures that seemed to sometimes accompany them – she never got a good look at them but presumed they were undead, based upon the way in which they shuffled. But she had yet to kill one and bring it back for examination.

One piece of information she provided was especially helpful for the adventurers; the fact that the Gold Unicorn Collective, a trading group from Haven, would be arriving in town soon. The adventurers quickly decided that traveling back with them would be a good way to get to Haven. Since Glaedwin was on good terms with several of the members, including one of their caravan masters, Aerto Clearspeak, this would be a grand opportunity, indeed.

Prior to delivering the box to Quanto, it became apparent that Foothold was slightly different than what Glaedwin could remember. Minister Herne, the assistant to the regent, Duke Vellian Graystone was the de factor ruler of the city. Minister Herne’s numerous taxes and tax officers seemed to hold sway over the city, striking fear into citizens who seemed to be behind in payments. However, despite the dark rumors surrounding Minister Herne, he managed to bring Foothold and House Graystone out of the crippling debt they were under. Upon delivering the box to Quanto, it seemed as if he, Quanto, was a member of the tax guard as he was dressed in their traditional garb. Whereas the meeting went well, there was slight unease in the way Quanto acted. But he asked the adventurers to take something back to Brit when they next returned to Dragonmeet – a black pouch, sealed with a wax symbol. It was clear that Quanto was in some way associated with the Greenleaf Branch, a halfling family with close ties to one another and who was involved in a variety of Foothold business interests, both legitimate and otherwise.

The following day, Glaedwin went to the offices of the Longclef Trading Company with Ellyna. Suriveth Varune having little interest in business affairs instead went to the market area to play her songs and raise some spending money. When Ellyna and Gaedwin arrived at the docks where they quickly found the offices they were looking for, they encountered Podwick Longclef, a gruff and rude halfling who seemed more threatening than welcoming. He made it very clear that the Longclef Trading Company was his, that he was a true Longclef (despite Glaedwin never hearing about him) and that Podwick wanted nothing to do with Glaedwin. Vowing to get to the bottom of it, Glaedwin left but gave Podwick a dour scowl as he did.

While Glaedwin went off to drown his sorrows in the chocolate pastries of Foothold, Ellyna found herself buying needed provisions for their four day trek to Haven. On her way back, she encountered a crow that dropped an old rusty key at her feet. Knowing a portent from the High Druid when she saw one, she pocketed he key and knew it would be put to use later.

That evening the group met up with the Gold Unicorns and they agreed on a price for the adventurers to guard the caravan back to Haven. Aerto, who had a high opinion of Glaedwin, graciously accepted the help.

Later the adventurers found themselves exploring the under ruins of Foothold after hearing from Dresda that there were some interesting things to see. Their guide explained that the ruins went on for miles and eventually connected up with the dwarven cities and even an abandoned dwarven city. They decided this was definitely something they would investigate further, later.

That evening, through a series of chance meetings, they managed to get an invitation to an auction at the Duke’s residence. Sponsored by Minister Herne, the auction was established to sell off many f the Duke’s possessions, mostly art, small treasures and other items he clearly had no further use of. Getting a glimpse of the Duke, it was clear that he was mentally deranged and unable to speak for himself, even relying on others to assist him in eating and walking. Suriveth, however, was able to purchase an elven bow at a steal of a price, with others simply not aware of the item’s true value. The runes along the bow were unusual and not ones she could translate but Dracovel Kilvesh explained that they likely unlocked some kind of special power or ability.

The following day the group set out for Haven with the Golden Unicorns. The travel went without incident except for the third day when Glaedwin discovered a hunting lodge in a valley, not far from where they made camp. The lodge seemed abandoned but was also locked. When he explained what he found to the others, Ellyna came along and by chance decided to try the key that the crow had given her back in Foothold. To her excitement, the key worked, opening the mysterious door . . .

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Episode 10: Big Bullette
Monsters run rampant

As the adventuring company bade farewell to the Harlequin and Tankard Inn, they moved towards Witchburn which, according to their map was only two days’ ride. Their movements were largely uneventful except for the first night when Kouro Marmari went into the forest and seemingly communed with whatever spirits he spoke to, but the truth was that he suffered from a curse. He would turn to marble once a month on the full moon and by his calculation, this was the night. During his secret frozen status, he noticed a strange creature watching the group’s encampment. Unable to move his head to see, he could merely watch helplessly as the thing moved around him, watching his allies.

On the final day, the adventurers noticed a massive wagon with several drivers going in the same direction as they and when they approached, they saw the wagon was covered and they were unable to see what was inside. The secretive caravan master was harsh in his determination not to make idle chit chat, only that they were heading towards Witchburn to sell some livestock. Ellyna Dirkane tried to make a helpful suggestion that they give their horses more of a rest which the caravan master agreed to do.

In the hours leading up to arriving in WItchburn they noticed a large number of ships coming towards the city. It seemed as if something important and possible exciting was happening. This was confirmed when, upon arriving at the city gates, there was a line to get in. They learned that they had arrived during Baron’s Faire, a special time of year when merchants brought unusual animals and livestock to trade and sell to the very wealthy. Giant scorpions, two headed goats and even a bullette would be on display and, if they were lucky, they were told, a mermaid would be brought for sale. Immediately, Kouro was concerned about this as he felt that the High Druid would look down on such things. As it turned out, he was correct.

Finding there was a limited amount of rooms available, Suriveth Varune used her charms to secure a room at the Gilded Salamander but for better or for worse the only room left was the Prince’s Suite, the largest and most expensive room on the top level, for 20 gold per night. Fortunately, it was more than enough room to hold the whole party so she agreed.

Not long after getting in and looking down upon the crazed buying and selling of animals, Kouro noticed Glaedwin Longclef, a member of their party who they had not seen in weeks, roaming through the streets. He yelled for him and within a few minutes the group was reunited. Glaedwin explained that he has come in on a ship bringing their own livestock as he suspected they would be here. It was surely the Prince of Shadows at play, working in their favor. Koldrag mentioned he would see them later, at the tent of the Seeress. And he departed.

Noting this was only a stop en route to Haven, the group now had two pieces of business. They wanted to meet with the mysterious Seneale the Seer who had claimed to have have a prophecy for the adventurers, and of course, they were interested to see what kinds of animals were on display. There were no doubt scams such as the ‘lucky bees’ as well as the bunny that could talk and play chess as well as the incredible sleeping parrot, but there were also massive and frightening creatures, like the bullette, whose masters were the people met along the road earlier in the day. It was truly an impressive feat. Just as impressive was Baron Puno Graystone who was overseeing the festivities. This massive man was clearly a warrior of some kind and had the physique and disposition to show it.

Nevertheless Kouro decided this would not stand. He conspired with Glaedwin and Wolfram Delmanse to release many of these creatures. So in secret they released the bullette, the giant scorpion and a pair of giant bears. However, things did not quite go as well as the animals went wild and when it seemed like the bears would be content to stay put, a small explosion scared them out of the create – someone else was at work, with similar motivations as Kouro’s.

Chaos broke out as animals went everywhere and the adventurers, mostly who were unaware of Kouro’s plan, were left to fight to creatures. But Kouro, Glaedwin and Wolfram quickly realized they had to help else villagers would be trampled by the dozens. But the buellette was an imposing creature, indeed. Just when Suriveth and Draovel thought they had things under control, several bugbears came from behind one of the cages and revealed themselves as attackers. Apparently, it was this group that also wanted to release the creatures to cause as much mayhem and destruction as possible.

During the fight an amazingly few people were killed and they got to fight along side the Baron as he jumped into the fray. And Glaedwin, for his part, is one of the few adventurers to boast that he was able to ride a bullette. Kouro, kept seeing visions of the High Druid who managed to help him when things were looking bleak. Fortunately for Kouro, the guards who suspecting him of his involvement in the animal revolution, were convinced that the bugbears were responsible. In searching the corpses of the bugbears they had very little of interest but each had a small token that had an ominous eye painted on it. Perhaps this was some kind of clan symbol.

The Baron was very impressed with the adventurers’ ability to fight off the creatures and since he was none the wiser about Kouro’s, Wolfram’s and Gleadwin’s involvement in the mischief, he invited them to his manor for celebrations and food.

Stopping to have some drinks in the Gilded Salamander, Glaedwin got drunk and Kouro managed to purchased some Humming Frogs. The interesting frogs, when touched, each seemed to make some kind of humming sound, like a strange musical instrument. Kouro bought three for a silver apiece.

That night at the Baron’s estate, he showered them with food and drink and told them that whereas he was grateful for their help, there was the matter of compensating those who had lost their animals to the heroes. After some discussion, the adventurers agreed to come back in a few months and join the Baron in a hunt that would try and find creatures that would be suitable replacements for the beasts. All agreed, that is, except Kouro, who wanted no part in it.

The Baron brought out gifts for his new friends. Each person was given a House Graystone Signet Ring, which, while not magical, had some unique properties. They each had room for Soul Gems as well as bearing the symbol of House Graystone. The Baron explained that while in Witchburn and Foothold and the surrounding area, they would be looked upon with high regard. Of course, receiving the gift was a tacit agreement to help the Baron with his future hunt, so Kouro had to politely decline.

As the events wound down, the Baron asked Ellyna to stay the night with him, which she did, and numerous carnal pleasures followed that night at the Baron’s manor. The rest of the adventurers, however, went back to the Gilded Salamander.

The following day the group when to visit the tent of Seneale the Seeress. Once they got past the throngs of people who wished to hear their fortunes, Seneale had some sour news for the group. She explained that the region surrounding Haven was already doomed. The adventurers would be too late to prevent the area from falling into darkness. But they would still go in hoped of reversing the evil that had taken root there and they would no doubt be able to save Princess Argenta. Whereas this news was distressing, she was able to provide gifts to the heroes – things that had come into her possession that were somehow meant for them. She provided some small treasures to the adventurers. To Ellyna Dirkane she gave a map of Haven. To Suriveth she gave the Song of Silence. To Glaedwin Longcleff she gave the Prince’s Pouch. And to Kouro Marmai she gave the Mask of Mysteries. She also mentioned that the previous day Koldrag had come to her and she provided him with his own quest she sent him on. He would not see the adventurers again until they got to Haven.

Shortly after conducting their business with Seneale, the characters packed their things and made their way to Foothold.

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Episode 9: The Harlequin and the Tankard
A roadside inn is more than it appears to be

As Suriveth Varune, Kouro Marmari and Ellyna Dirkane listened to Koldrag discuss their next course of action, they reviewed their findings from the crypt. Certainly, the Ritual of the Sway was an interesting and potent find, and as one of the lost Rituals it would no doubt come in useful. Whereas they attempted to look at the other items found, they also counted the Soul Gems that were now in their possession. They discussed their approach to Haven and Koldrag suggested that there were really two options. Go along the safer route along the coastal road towards a town called Witchburn or go through the more direct – but dangerous route – through the forest. The group elected to take the coastal road. As Wolfram Delmanse and Dracovel Kilvesh ensured everything was ready to go for the following day, Suriveth recalled there was a collection of inns and taverns along the road to Witchburn, one of which was the Harlequin and Tankard Inn a place which was rumored to be a safehouse for agents of the Prince of Shadows.

The group’s travels towards the Harlequin and Tankard were uneventful. Taking two days by horseback to get to the roadseide collection of inns, upon arriving, the scene was inviting after spending several days along the wilderness. But the most interesting sight was a black carriage that was parked with the horses. Clearly someone wealthy and imposing was also staying in the area.

As Suriveth went inside, negotiating the room rates with the innkeeper, Smoltz, she gave him the secret sign of the Prince of Shadows and he reciprocated, telling her to meet him back in the lobby about 1 AM. He would have something to show her.

Ellyna and Kouro wandered into the common room where the inn’s entertainment, Renagello, provided bawdy tales and music. But Renagello was hardly the most interesting individual in the room. Instead, Kouro was drawn to a mysterious woman in the back having dinner, with her bodyguard nearby. Kouro introduced himself and after some time the woman grudgingly released her name – Feryl Valdrogen. She stated she was a traveler and merchant. Kouro, hardly realized that it was she was interrogating him as her bodyguard, Kursh, looked on.

Later that night when Suriveth and Ellyna went down to talk to Smoltz, he led them to a basement where he shared with them information about the surrounding area and offered to sell from a secret stash of items and purchase unwanted items of theirs. He also mentioned that his spies had gone through the black carriage, belonging to Feryl Valdrogen and discovered numerous secret compartments, one of which was holding diamonds but he wondered what items she actually had on her person as many of the compartments were empty. More unusual was that Feryl had stayed in a different inn each night she was in the area. It was clear to him she was meeting someone. He also suggested that someone who might know more was a woman and her companion staying at The Knave, a neighboring inn. The woman, Lady Henrietta Throckmotten, and her companion, Fiona, may have had words with Feryl. Ellyna and Suriveth were suddenly extremely interested in Lady Henrietta, wondering if she was a member of House Throckmotten and thus, a relative of Alcide Throckmotten.

The following day the group of adventurers went over to meet Lady Henrietta and her friend, Fiona. Getting to know one another, Lady Henrietta mentioned that she was a close friend of Princess Argenta of Haven and was delivering important news to members of the noble houses through the Dragon Empire. Fiona let it slip that the Princess was to be wed shortly. This was interesting news to the adventurers as they were headed to Haven to look into some secrets involving what they discovered in the Shadow Prophecy, Book IV. When Fiona heard Kouro’s name and saw that Suriveth was of shadow elf blood, she became very interested, almost excited. She stated that she had gone to see the Seeress of Withcburn, Seneale and she had made mention of a satyrn named ‘Kouro’ who had a companion who was part shadow elf. This, clearly, made Kouro and Suriveth very interested. They decided that a stop in Witchburn was well worth their curiosity. When Kouro attempted to take Fiona into the woods, he was rebuffed, getting the sense that Lady Henrietta would be . . . jealous as the two women shared a knowing glance at one another, telling Kouro all he needed to know about their relationship.

As the conversation was becoming more intense regarding the Seeress, a man stumbled into The Knave and appeared ill. When a patron went over to check on him, the man attacked, showing he was merely a diseased corpse – a member of the undead! Within moments the entire inn and the surrounding buildings were swarmed, under attack from an undead army.

As the adventurers teamed up with Fiona and Lady Henrietta, they came face to face with undead horrors, as well as some force that seemed to be from Lady Henrietta’s past, a sinister necromancer named Rosaro the Foresaken. Upon waging a long and bloody battle with these forces, bent on killing Lady Henrietta, the adventurers prevailed, driving off Rosaro and destroying his minions.

Resting at the Harlequin for an extra day, the adventurers bade farewell to their new friends but as Lady Henrietta and Fiona were set to leave, the female knight mentioned that the Seeress had some kind of mask that was in some way related to Kouro. As Kouro had a personal relationship with the Masked Ones he suspected this was some kind of portent. Ellyna asked Lady Henrietta if she would be willing to write a letter of introduction to her dear friend, Princess Argenta, vouching for the adventurers, which she gladly provided as thanks for their help against Rosaro.

Lady Henrietta also mentioned to Ellyna how impressed she was with her martial prowess and definitely hoped that she and Fiona would meet her again. The wanton look that was given told Ellyna all she needed to know about the motives of Lady Henrietta and Fiona.

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Episode 8: What Lies Beneath
An ancient catacomb reveals new inhabitants

As Koldrag sat with Ellyna Dirkane, Suriveth Varrune and Kouro Marmari, he explained that Magnimar was the site of one of his previous hidden locations, before he was imprisoned by the Archmage. There was a nearby cemetery that he used as a lair. Within the lair he had stashed away one of several Rituals , as well as some Soul Gems that were likely still there. Realizing there was no time like the present, they collected Dracovel Kilvesh and Wolfram Delamnse and set forth.

Bypassing and then bribing some of the guards that were nearby, they made their way to the mausoleum that Koldrag pointed out. Unearthing a hidden passage through the crypt, the passage led down into the earth. Traveling such a short distance before coming across some runes on the walls, it was quickly discovered that they barred Koldrag from going any further. He sketched together a map for them as to where he suspected his hidden loot would remain.

As the heroes progressed forward, they immediately discovered that they were not alone. A small army of undead waited to greet them as they progressed through the crypt. It was a hard fought battle but in the end, they prevailed but not before they realized they were dealing with serious danger down below. They did, however, come away with two items, a magic dagger, Spinner as well as the Tiara of Eliu.

Eventually, more fights and treasures were encountered, including trained rust monsters, and a magic sword as well as a small collection of Soul Gems. But when the characters went up against a necromancer by the name of Volgaroth, they faced true power as he had several undead attendants. Volgaroth was eventually slain and the evil he radiated came to an end.

They did discover several Soul Gems as well as the much sought after Ritual of the Sway, the very item they came to discover. With this side quest accomplished, they were now free to leave Magnimar and continue their trek towards Haven.

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Episode 7: Friends in Low Places

It was an exciting afternoon when Alcide Throckmotten returned from another one of his long trips. Suriveth Varune and Ellyna Dirkane were there to meet him at the Slippery Squid to tell each other the various adventures they had had. The ladies had brought with them the newest member of their circle, Koldrag. Upon meeting the mysterious Koldrag, Alcide instantly told him that he mistrusted him, stating that he never trusted anyone ‘prettier’ than he was. At which point Koldrag muttered that he assured him he was not . . .

When the conversation started to turn itself towards Darkveil, as it often did with Alcide, Koldrag suggested they speak of this somewhere else, where there were less ears. At which point they adjourned themselves to Ellyna’s abode outside of town. Upon getting to Ellyna’s stables and home, Koldrag began to explain how he was a scholar of Darkveil, revealed his true, horrific nature to Alcide, as well as the story of his release, and began to speak of the prophecies that they could, as a group, follow, to uncover the lost city of Darkveil. For there were clues to be found, important details to uncover and things they could find that would prepare them for such an undertaking. They agreed it would be good to start soon as Haven, their first stop, was so far away and the prophecy suggested that Haven may be under a time table if it were to fall prey to evil.

Gathering their forces, it was decided that whereas Rignark would be useful, Wolfram Delmanse may be more helpful in this situation. Alcide was insistent on bringing L’Gresh, his orcish ally. When Alcide went to find him at the Dirty Vixen, he found his friend busy watching the gyrations of the famous and sensual Tara-ka. Alcide waited but while he did, he spoke to Brit Shortcoin, the proprieter of the establishment and wondered if there were any jobs he needed done. Brit agreed and gave Alcide a box to take to his cousin, Quanto Shortcoin in Foothold as that was one of their stops.

Later that night, Alcide went to see Sorenniel, the shadow elf agent living in Dragonmeet. He dropped off some maps with the shadow elf and in return, Sorenniel gave Alcide a small pin that would protect him from being harassed by any shadow elf scouts that they would come across in their travels.

The following day they set out, on horse, towards Shaydenhall with the intent of selling the horses once they arrived. Whereas Ellyna was uncomfortable traveling with L’Gresh due to his former association with the Burning Men, her discomfort was eased when he explained that he had likely killed more Burning Men than she had, at this point. This seemed to do, even though she disputed his claim.

The only encounter of significance they came across was their third night out. Atop a ridge by the side of the road was spotted a ghostly and almost translucent image of a horse that Ellyna suspected could have been Severest, a powerful warhorse of legend. When following the image, the mighty steed disappeared but had brought them to a peaceful and safe grove that Ellyna took to mean a good omen and they stayed there for the night, peacefully.

Upon arriving in Shaydenhall the following afternoon, they unloaded the horses on members of House Waybore. They stayed at the Three Bells Inn a place familiar to both L’Gresh and Alcide as they were always welcomed by the owner, a raucous old crone named Lorath.

The following day they set sail for Magnimar but paid a higher price than normal as soldiers of the Emperor were also booking passage. It seemed that there were spikes in dangerous creatures roaming the lands near Magnimar and Foothold, specifically undead and other creatures escaping from Hellholes. The troops were desperately needed to replace those who had fallen, disappeared or deserted. This information certainly rang true to Suriveth who, in her investigation, had discovered similar information.

En route to Magnimar, Koldrag mentioned there was some other long forgotten aspect about Soul Gems that many no longer remembered. Specifically, Koldrag mentioned there were things, known simply, as Rituals that, if learned and done in conjunction with an unattached Soul Gem, could result in powerful sorcery.

Upon arriving in Magnimar, it was decided that many of them would break off and see the city, meeting up later at the Golden Dragon, a great feast hall. Meanwhile Alcide went to see his uncle, Eldred Throckmotten and saw just how badly things had degenerated as the families fortunes were rapidly dwindling and once fine lands were now being rented out to middle class merchants, just to make their monthly payments.

At the Golden Dragon, Suriveth decided to play for the audience to make some extra coins. While there she met a fan, Effrin, an elf who offered to sell her a healing potion at a greatly reduced rate. Meanwhile, the owner of the establishment, Presker, a surly half elf, was giving L’Gresh grief for ‘making eyes at light skinned girls’ like humans, elves and half elves. When Aclide arrived, he had to intercede before things came to blows, seeing just how bad the anti-orc sentiment had risen in Magnimar.

The following day Alcide went to a special shop he knew, the Spider’s Web where he met with the owner, Madame Curio, where he wished to sell his dagger, Deviant. Meanwhile, Koldrag mentioned to Suriveth that one of the aforementioned Rituals he had referenced was likely still here in Magnimar. Before he had been imprisoned by the Archmage, Koldrag had hidden a Ritual in one of the cemeteries in Magnimar. The Ritual, if learned, allowed the ritualist to perform a special sort of magical dance that could hold sway over an audience. He wondered if she would be interested in helping him recover it. If she helped, he would let her keep the Ritual as her own.

Suriveth most certainly agreed.

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Episode 6: Lessons on Darkveil
More is learned about the legendary city and plans are made

Upon leaving Boltstrike Pillar and heading back to meet Vessyrn for transport about his skiff back to Horizon, the adventurers bade farewell to Sadda Treakspeak. Upon meeting with Vessyrn and getting the transportation they needed, he reminded them of their promise to go to Shadow Port and hand over a ring to Ulsine, a priestess who lived there. Farestel, the elf they rescued, wanted to travel with them as far as Dragonmeet where he could then make his way back to the Queen’s Wood.

Before they left Horizon, they decided to sell off some of the treasures they did not need as they determined they would get a better price in Horizon than they would have gotten in Dragonmeet. Whereas they were able to pawn off some of the gems, Kouro Marmari was able to get a hold of a diadem that had an empty slot for Soul Gems. He negotiated a fine price for it from the jeweler while Dracovel Kilvesh and Wolfram Delmanse waited outside.. Suriveth Varune took Koldrag shopping for more appropriate attire which also allowed him to began to get accustomed to the outside world again. Additionally, Ellyna Dirkane was able to convince Galdurgo at the Golden Whistle to introduce her to someone who was in desperate need of purchasing dragon pieces. Upon meeting Sir Andreas Bliore, he was true to the stories about him. He paid a higher price than the items were worth as he was apparently assembling enough pieces for dragon scale armor.

The following day they set sail on the Harpy’s Wake in order to get back to Dragonmeet. The trip was uneventful and upon their return, they immediately set out to have the remaining items identified by Dova, the scholar at The Liar’s Club. She did identify them but the most interesting item was something Suriveth had an interest in; the fascinating Bag of Lost Things.

After it was decided that Koldrag would stay with Ellyna until he found a better place to stay, Ellyna negotiated the final details of the horse training she had agreed to do with Count Wilhelm Valdemar. Upon her return Koldrag mentioned that he noticed that Suriveth seemed to ‘have eyes’ for his current form. He asked Ellyna to inquire if Suriveth was interested in him, wantonly. Ellyna said she would look into it. It was then that the group realized that they needed to set sail for a short trip to Shadow Port to give the ring to Ulsine; in order to complete the promise they had made to Vessyrn. Kouro decided to take out some extra insurance as he did not fully trust Koldrag alone and asked Aliyre the Expert to have her contacts keep an eye out for Koldrag’s comings and goings while they were away.

The following day they set sail but not before Ellyna asked Efflin the blacksmith to look at her socketed axe, He was amazed to see such a fine item but told her it would be best to do so upon their return as sharpening it would take some time.

Upon leaving in the Harpy’s Wake, Captain Arthix and Giannatella made the arrangements and they began on their trip to Shadow Port. Shortly after they set sail, Ellyna mentioned to Suriveth the conversation Ellyna had with Koldrag.

What hoped to be an uneventful trip was interrupted when they saw a ship adrift in the sea. Getting closer they saw that the ship’s name was the Black Stone and that sulfuric smoke was pouring out from the decks below. Boarding the ship, they found no souls aboard but the captain’s log suggested it was a ship that had set sail from Port Shaw bringing barley to Dragonmeet when a wizard on board had a magical mishap, causing everyone to abandon ship. More details seemed to be unclear. They explored below decks and found a shimmering dark portal billowing forth sulfuric smoke from some other worldly location, clearly dangerous. They attempted to throw an item in and it merely froze in place for a moment before being instantly dragged into some unknown, inky blackness. After helping themselves to a few items on board, they left, scuttling the ship as they left. As it they watched it sink, they hoped this would be the last of it.

Arriving in Shadow Port, they were determined to get this deal taken care of quickly as they wanted to return to Dragonmeet and deal with the various clues and leads they had gathered. Suriveth first went to the Lazy Lich, a gambling hall where she knew an old associate of her’s, Glavron, would likely be entertaining himself. After checking with him and getting directions to the proper Primus temple where Ulsine would likely be, they were on their way.

Upon finding the mysterious Ulsine, late in the evening, she seemed to be entertaining herself with playing a solo game of chess. When they announced that they had word from Vessyrn, her eyes lit with excitement as it was clear they were in a romantic relationship. They quickly figured this conversation would not go well. And it certainly did not. The misunderstanding centered around Ulsine suspecting the adventurers were bringing good news, when in fact, they were bringing an unspoken tale of how Vessyrn was breaking off their engagement by returning the engagement ring. Ulsine went into a verbal tirade, immediately penning a response to Vessyrn but at this point the adventurers had enough of the whole affair and made their way back to the Harpy’s Wake with the intent of getting back to Dragonmeet.

Upon their return voyage, the only thing of significance they encountered was a large whirlpool where they had sunk the Black Stone. Moving along quickly and dark stares from Giannatella and Captain Arthix was all that was done about the matter. This would soon be known as the Black Whirlpool.

Upon returning to Dragonmeet, they met with Koldrag (who had not moved from Ellyna’s stables, apparently). He suggested that if they were to get to the heart of the Darkveil matter, one of their first steps would be to go to the area known as the Moonwreck as this is where Princess Argenta sat and who was named in the Shadow Prophecy, Book IV. It would be a long trip but the rewards they may be able to find before the Princess met her fate could be extremely valuable. They decided to set out for the long journey but would need a few days to collect their items and prepare.

One of the preparations they made was meeting with Haunta Autumntide regarding the strange box she had brought back a few months ago. Upon using the Alcarast to open the box, as apparently she had been unable to open it thus far, it was discovered that inside were a series of scrolls that seemed to reveal that Princess Argenta had a variety of items in her treasury that would aid in finding Darkveil.

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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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