Schemes of the Lich King

Episode 25: The Winter Witch

As Tomorachian settled into his changes that had to be performed due to the disease, Sarvass, he still needed time to recuperate. However, time was still an issue for the rest of the party and it was agreed that Brimley Oxheart and Ohrana would stay with Tomorachian while Suriveth Varune, Saerid Turquoise, Glaedwin Longclef, Koldrag and Wolfram Delmanse moved on. Ohrana indicated that she would be able to find them later.

So the heroes split into two groups with the larger group leaving Refuge and moving on towards the liar of Una Helta, the WInter Witch.

As the larger group pressed forward they quickly encountered strong, violent weather that was clearly the work of Una Helta. After an hour of trudging through the ice and snow, they were beset upon by a strange force, a powerful magic that formed a woman’s face in the snow and she spoke to the heroes, demanding to know who they were. They began to introduce themselves as they realized they were speaking to the Winter Witch, using powerful spells in which to communicate with them. In explaining who they were and what they were doing, seeing Blackrazor, Una Helta took great interest in Saerid, especially when he mentioned his wicked ancestor, Mezzilen, the traitor to his clan and a current servant of the Lich King. At this point, Una Helta’s avatar agreed to meet with them and asked for them to cross the ice towards a cave that would lead to a tunnel and she would speak with them.

Upon arriving at the cave, they noticed a floating light which seemed to gesture to them and drawing them deeper into the tunnels, leading, presumably, to the lair of the Winter Witch, her castle, Everwinter.

As they pressed on, they were waylaid by a group of demonic frost giants and a demonic ettin, clearly the work of the Diabolist. The fight was brief and had the potential to be very deadly as the frost giants were able to summon a purple worm, adding to the potential lethal encounter. But the heroes prevailed and were left wondering if the frost giants were enemies of the Winter Witch or if they were somehow her servants. Had they walked into a trap?

In one of the next chambers they entered, they found a sacred fountain which had numerous decorations, as well as fine murals on the walls, seemingly showing the great life that the Winter Witch had lived. However, the true purpose of the room was unclear. It seemed to be an unusual location for some kind historical chamber as its location was so remote that nobody would see it. However, it was left alone as the heroes did not want to risk offending their host.

Eventually, the lively light brought them to an underground throne room, again, another unusual location. Ahead, they saw a woman who seemed vaguely familiar as the face that had appeared in the snow storm earlier. On either side of her was an attendant. Una Helta welcomed them and beckoned Saerid to come forward. When they explained their plight, she agreed that she would give them Blackrazor, in order to allow them to better fight the forces of evil. However, she would want Saerid to agree to be marked by her as she wanted to ensure that they completed the quest and would make good on their promise to do good works. But as Una Helta was about to use her ice dagger to make her mark on Saerid’s hand, Suriveth heard some of the strange words Una Helta was using, identifying them as incantations to the Lich King. At this point, Suriveth warned Saerid who recoiled in horror from Una Helta. But it was soon revealed that Una Helta was not the Winter Witch, at all. When she dropped her illusion, it was revealed that she was Mezzilen, the dwarven lich in the service of the Lich King!

The fighting was fierce as Mezzilen had special necrotic worms, an eldritch slave and some skeletal hounds. Saerid, furious over not just being tricked, but specifically being tricked by his clan’s traitor, this battle would be a personal matter for him and the stakes were extremely high. Valiantly, they fought and even though they came out victorious in the end, destroying Mezzilen, they knew they had not seen the last of him as they had not found his phylactery, an item likely in the hands of the Lich King.

Searching the caverns, they did find the real Una Helta who was grateful for her release. She explained that for several weeks agents of the Lich King had taken over her palace and had been using her magic to torment and harm the people around her in her domain. Her gratitude included handing over the true Blackrazor to the heroes so that they may continue on their quest, as well as wisking them away to wherever they needed to go. For this they were thankful and vowed to stop the agents of the Lich King and find the secrets of Darkveil.

And thus ended Part I of the story . . .

Episode 24: Riding the Remorhaz

Settled in to the town of Refuge the members of the Half-Shadows began to understand the lay of the land. They were in an occupied area with agents of the Lich King fully ensconced, even though they would likely be leaving soon. Whereas they would be unable to openly move through the town, they did have the ability to take alleys and move through the outer parameter as the snow storm would likely obfuscate their movements. So long as they did not make scenes, they would likely be able to travel unfettered. They would need to avoid Lord Veldt’s underlings and whatever other agents he and his second-in-command, Wisp had lurking. The fact that a strange howling noise came from the keep periodically, was not welcome news.

The need to travel was important. With Tomorachian suffering from the effects of Sarvass, he would likely be getting worse. They had to travel somewhere that contained a repository of knowledge to help cure his illness. Obar, their dwarven host, mentioned there was the Museum of Knowledge, a repository of books, gizmos and other research items located on the edge of town. This massive structure was second in size only to the keep. If there were answers, they would be found there.

With members of the Half-Shadows traveling to the Museum, leaving only Brimley Oxheart behind, they trudged through the snow to make it there, only seeing one lone figure en route, a mysterious centurion with his face concealed by a metal mask, but the insignias he wore bearing allegiance to the Lich King spoke enough for the heroes to move past him without incident.

Upon arriving at the museum, the heroes quickly were introduced to the staff who were only three employees – Selzine, a librarian; Professor Kzollick, a master of technologies and a Muma, a master of the antiques. They explained that they would likely be able to help find some cures for Sarvass but it may take some research. While they did what they could, Glaedwin Longclef went on a guided tour of the antiques. Whereas the collection of ‘elven pornography’ was interesting in its own right, what truly kept his attention was a dwarven battle horn. The curator explained that this was intended for battles but also construction as it was capable of tearing down cave walls if given the proper attention.

Meanwhile, as Suriveth Varune and Tomorachian examined the books on the disease, pertaining to Sarvass, Tomorachian began to see patterns forming in the pages and sigils. Codes and ciphers became clear to him and he started to see the underlying messages that were hidden. In short, he suspected with some of the proper items found in the technological wing, he could put together common items to help form a cure for his disease, or at least arrest it. However, the cost to his humanity would be an issue. But then again, the ancient texts and the patterns he was seeing, was possibly part of a greater plan by Araponda.

The one piece, it was determined, that was actually needed for the procedure was a platinum valve. There was only one in the area and it was currently in the possession of Lord Veldt, the mysterious acting commander of the city, answering to the Lich King. Since Lord Veldt had taken away many of the resources from the Museum, they were lacking in staff as well as specific items, the platinum valve being one of them. It was clear they would have to get the platinum valve from Lord Veldt by penetrating the keep. Of course, this is likely where they would be able to find and reclaim the Staff of the Void.

On their way back to Obar’s home, they were beset upon by agents of the Lich King, vile spirits and undead energies that had zeroed in on their location. Whereas the creatures seemed weak (as they were so far from their master), the real challenge was not creating loud noises that would alert Lord Veldt’s troops. Once they were dispatched, the heroes quickly went back into hiding.

That evening, under cover of darkness, Wolfram Delamnse and Saerid Turqouise ventured towards the keep to see if there were any secret ways in. Saerid monitored the structure, which was dwarven design and surmised there would likely be a way in through the dungeon. Wolfram, by contrast, determined that there was a way in overland and made his way into the keep. He saw the treasury was heavily guarded and saw Lord Veldt in the throne chamber, receiving reports, surrounded by his centurions as well as terrified commoners, executing his biding. When there were those who displeased him, he opened a trap door where he fed them to some kind of a pet that was kept below. This would certainly be a challenge. To make matters more complicated, it seemed that Lord Veldt had a secret weapon – one of the Lich King’s most vile creations – a Headless Zombie. It was rumored that only 10 of these were ever created and that he had given them to his most trusted agents. It appeared that Lord Veldt had access to one which would have been a formidable opponent if they had to confront the creature.

Returning, both Wolfram and Saerid informed the rest of the group what the obstacles were. After much debate, it was determined that the group would go through the underground chambers and face whatever horror Lord Veldt had there.

Progressing through the dungeons and carefully making their way to the keep, it took several hours to quietly and silently move. Upon arriving they found the terrible pet that was in Lord Veldt’s dungeon – a ravenous Remorhaz. The creature was angry and sinister and attacked with fury and rage. Naturally, Glaedwin felt the need to ride the creature, as he was prone to try. However, it was eventually defeated and luckily the heroes had lured it far enough away to not create sounds loud enough to alert the guards in the main keep. After the creature was destroyed it was simple work to cause enough distractions to send Wolfram to the treasury and make off with not only the platinum valve but also the Staff of the Void, which was key to their plans. Now all that was left was to put Tomorachian through the procedure and move on towards Una Helta, the Winter Witch.

Icon Relationships for Next Session:

Suriveth: Elf Queen (7) Conflicted
Saerid: Dwarf King (8) Positive, Lich King (1) negative
Tomorachian Priestess (8) Conflicted, Araponda (1) Positive
Glaedwin: Lich King (7) Negative
Brimley: Dwarf King (7) Positive, Crusader (8) Conflicted

Episode 23: Schemes of the Lich King Revealed

Due to the illness that Tomorachian seemed to be suffering from, Ohrana counseled the rest of the Half-Shadows adventuring company that their movement towards Refuge would be slow going. There was no way to determine what route they could safely take that would move faster as they had to stop every few hours to examine and tend to the cleric. It was later that Ohrana diagnosed the illness he was suffering from as Sarvass, a disease that seemed to affect those who dabbled in the arcane or mystical arts. Recovery was bleak for such an illness but if there was to be any hope at all, they would have to move quickly if at all possible to get Tomorachian to somewhere which had a decent library or alchemical lab, such as Refuge.

While the group huddled together, discussing their options, they saw a long figure on a bluff nearby. Saerid Turquoise recognized that the individual was a dwarf so immediately approached the stranger to see his intentions. As he came closer, he noticed the newcomer was older, and clearly showed signs of having once been part of the esteemed city guard of Anvil. The stranger introduced himself as Brimley Oxheart and stated he was en route to see what had become of another dwarf he had a close relationship with, Denralla. Once Saerid explained the tragedy that had befallen her, Brimley asked if he could help in fulfilling her mission which was greatly accepted by Saerid and the rest of the Half-Shadows.

Travel was uneventful for the next day but they were slow with Tomorachian’s illness as well as constantly looking over their shoulders due to some of the powerful entities they had been angering in recent weeks. The Diabolist and the Lich King had both sent powerful adversaries to thwart the heroes and they feared more attacks.

Coming over a ridge, the following day, they came across a curious sight. Whereas the land surrounding them was pleasant and showed signs of the autumn season, there was a massive patch of land ahead of them which was completely covered in ice and snow, as if it was an island of frost unto itself. Worse, they saw a band of Frost Giants and an ice troll that seemed to be guarding a lone silverarch tree covered in snow. It was not long before the giants spotted the heroes and they charged into battle. Tomarchian, however, did not so much charge, as he did limp.

Upon defeating the evil creatures, Koldrag suggested that this was the work of Una Helta, the Winter Witch, who was behind this strange phenomena. Besides, this was the very thing that Vyper had been investigating for the Elf Queen. While the rest of the adventurers looked around for any signs, Suriveth Varune approached the silverarch tree, suspecting it could have been some kind of sign. In fact, it was, as the magic that had transported the cold weather here was able to be used in a backwards direction, allowing she and the rest of the heroes to travel closer to Refuge, something they desperately needed. Using her knowledge of magic and knowledge of secrets from the Prince of Shadows, Suri showed the others had to walk the silverarch tree.

Upon getting to the other side, Koldrag determined that they had, in fact, gotten several days further than they had been. It was night but in the distance they noticed the signs of life from the town of Refuge as they could see smoke from chimneys and lights from home fires. Traveling forward, they passed the craggy surroundings of the mining concern that was the lifeblood of the town. But they stopped when they found dead miners buried in the snow, showing signs of exhaustion and having been worked to death. It was then that they were beset upon by another agent of the Lich King, a necromancer named Wisp who had at her command a new form of undead, a ruthless and intelligent group of creatures known as the Kort.

The fighting was fierce as well as brutal as the Kort attacked with merciless efficiency, working together in concert. During the battle Saeird moved himself towards Wisp, who had taken a position on a bluff over the mines. While dealing her with her personal servants that protected her, he noticed that her powerful magic allowed her to sense the Staff of the Void that was on Suri’s person and Wisp was able to bring it to her. When she then decided to use the item on Saerid, he was shocked with a series of psychic attacks designed to kill him but whereas he was able to fend off most of the attacks, it was as if his mind was in Darkveil, the far away city they were trying to find. During these psychic attacks, he began to understand and see some of the secrets confined to the city.

Saerid learned the following:

  • Darkveil was intended to keep things in as well as out
  • Darkveil was a city not designed for humans or humanoid creatures
  • The denizens of Darkveil were still there, in some deep sleep
  • The Lich King and the Diabolist fully intended for the Half-Shadows to get to the city as the Lich King and Diabolist were barred from opening the doors and clearly their vile plan involved tricking the heroes to opening the doors for them.

Saerid was able to share these shocking details with his friends once the Kort had been dealt with and Wisp had retreated with the Staff of the Void. Of course, it was theorized that if she had taken the staff and if the plan was to allow the heroes to get to the city and open the doors, it was likely not long before the staff would be allowed to find its way back to their hands through the machinations of the Lich King and Diabolist.

Making their way to Refuge, but carefully, they found that it was a town under control of the Kort and their masters, likely Lich King loyalists. The people seemed to be going about their lives, albeit cautiously. It was then that they were spotted by a dwarf named Obar who quickly brought them into his home and into his cellar. He told them they would likely be killed otherwise and they should stay out of sight. Obar explained he was an engineer associated with the mining concern and that forces of the Lich King had, indeed, taken over the town. The individual in charge was a man named ‘Lord Veldt’ but Wisp was the enforcer of his laws. The people of Refuge were willing to put up with this as it was clear that Lord Veldt wanted supplies in the mine and would be gone within a week. Whether it was because forces would come to save the town or Lord Veldt would have what he wanted was irrelevant. But if the heroes wanted to stop them Obar would help and knew of people who would aid them.

Episode 22: The Battle for the Northern Colossus

As the Half-Shadows progressed towards their goal, the Northern Colossus, (the ultimate goal still being Refuge they had to keep watch for agents of the Crusader as they were concerned their previous actions of freeing Ohrana, could come back to haunt them. They chose to take the safer route and stay in the wooded regions in order to avoid detection.

During one evening Saerid Turquoise had a dream where an agent of the Archmage came to him. The agent told Saerid that an opportunity was coming to aid the plans of the Archmage and that it would present itself when another agent would come to collect an important treasure. In passing, the agent in the dream also stated that their ally, Dracovel Kilvesh was safe.

As they closed in on the outer edge where the Northern Colossus stood, they came across a band of hobgoblins marching in the general direction of the Northern Colossus. Keeping their distance, Glaedwin Longclef approached to get a better look. He discovered that the hobgoblins were not only well armed, but organized, which was not normal for the disorganized, ragtag lot. Further, they were transporting large battering rams, for some unknown purpose.

As they got closer and closer Tomorachian became sick with some virus that made him weak and lethargic. Ohrana stated that it was likely something temporary and that she would tend to him but it would make their travel somewhat slower.

As they finally got to the edge of the Northern Colossus, they expected to see travelers, pilgrims and adventurers come to and fro, but instead they saw that the road leading to the massive statue was littered with corpses, having been attacked, evidently, by hobgoblins, perhaps in league with the ones they had encountered previously. And when they came to the site, they saw a massive army of hobgoblins and xorn slaves that had set up camp all around the great wonder. They could tell that based upon the patrols they were seeing, it appeared that a main group seemed to wait behind while many of the groups wandered out in search of prey. The plan was then decided that they would attack, ridding the area of the forces of evil, once many of the patrols were gone, giving them an easier time.

That night, Ohrana took Tomorachian to safety as his illness was still with him. Saerid, Koldrag and Suriveth Varune attacked from the south and Wolfram Delamanse, Glaedwin and Denralla attacked from the northern edge as they noticed a massive gong under heavy protection and decided that was something they would want to take out of the picture.

As the fight got underway and the small but potent adventurers made their presence known, they soon encountered the leadership of the hobgoblins, a powerful demonic creature named Vallhe as well as a hobgoblin general named Rollick and a fallen lammasu named Uzune. The fight was a long battle that ended with the minions of evil defeated and Vallhe sent back to her plane of origin. However, one of the heroes, Denralla, fell in battle. Before they could take time to mourn her loss, they were beset upon by another foe – Greenvyle, a dracolich in the service of the Lich King who had been silently stalking them for several days. It took all they had, but Greenvyle, too, was defeated. Curiously, from the evidence gathered, it appeared that the Lich King was involved and that he and the Diabolist had formed an unholy alliance.

As they searched through the remains of what was left behind, they discovered that the gem that served as Greenvyle’s eye was the same color of green that appeared in Saerid’s dream from the Archmage. They took that into their possession, knowing someone would come looking for it. More importantly, aside from some of the treasures they discovered, one particular item was of great importance. Opening a chest, they discovered one of the items they sought for their excursion on the Path to Darkveil, namely the Staff of the Void. This would remove the need for them to go to the treacherous and dangerous city of Drakkenhall.

Gathering their hard won treasures and tending to Denralla’s body, they began to see a massive hobgoblin army forming, perhaps heeding some call from the forces that they had defeated. Realizing they were badly outnumbered by the forces of evil, they were preparing themselves for a last stand. But that is when they heard the horn of the elven rangers. The emissary from the Elf Queen, Vyper appeared on horseback with an army of the Elf Queen’s forces, ready for battle. What then followed was a massive force that went head to head with another force at the base of the Northern Colossus. When the heroes merged on the winning side of the elves, many lay dead but not in vain – the hobgoblin army was gone. However, there was yet another twist awaiting them.

Some of Vyper’s advisers were displeased with the Half-Shadows. There were scouting reports that an individual meeting Marshalla’s description had been seen and that this nefarious agent of the barbarian leader, Elorg, was in the area. The Elf Queen had divined that Suriveth was involved with this person of interest and was to be taken into questioning. Preparing for perhaps another altercation, cooler heads prevailed and Vyper allowed the group to go free but they had to move quickly. Vyper stated that she would try and explain things to the Elf Queen.

As they were preparing to leave, a dwarven sage appeared, introducing himself as Guulen. Saerid instantly recognized him as the one likely in service to the Archmage. After handing him the gem from Greenvyle, he thanked them and wished them luck on their quest.

With that, the group was prepared to move on to Refuge.

Episode 21: A Witch's Freedom

As the members of the Half-Shadows debated what to do about Sir Corliss and the fate he had in store for Ohrana, a simple investigation by Saerid Turquoise and Suriveth Varune, led them to believe that Ohrana may have been falsely accused or, at the very least, could have had some kind of relationship with Una Helta, the Winter Witch. Either way, when Sir Corliss and his men went to bed, Suri cast a spell that ensured everyone stayed asleep so that they could speak with Ohrana without interference.

Speaking with the accused witch was somewhat frustrating and cryptic, as Tomorachian soon discovered. All she would say was that she was certainly not a witch but that she was forbidden from speaking about what she was, what she was doing and what her plans were, leading several others to conclude that it would be more trouble than it was even worth to release her. However, the group did remain intrigued by her story and freed her when she admitted that while she was not a witch, she was, in fact, headed towards the frozen wastes, directly to the lands of Una Helta. However, once she was freed by Wolfram Delmanse, the group had to depart, quickly, lest Sir Corliss and his men chase them down.

While traveling west towards the town of Heldren, during one of the stops, Ohrana approached Tomorchian and expressed her gratitude, as well as apologized that she could not say more about her situation but she was forbidden. She did, however, present him a gift – an amulet (Amulet of Araponda) which was the symbol of Araponda. The amulet, while displaying magic properties, was an older symbol of the goddess and extremely valuable.

Eventually, the group came into the small town of Heldren where they resupplied on equipment that was needed for the coming trek into the cold wastelands to the west. While in the area they heard the rumors of bandits increasing their organization and efficiency as well as see that the weather had turned deeply cold, again uncharacteristic of the area and time of year. Further, they noticed a knight in the service of the Crusader but suspected he had no relationship to Sir Corliss or even knew they had freed the witch. Still, avoiding the knight was thought best. However, while resupplying their provisions, Saerid noticed some of the gold coins with the merchant were coins that had been minted by the Sons of the Mountain King. When asked, the merchant stated that indeed, dwarves had come through and based upon his description, it sounded like they were members of the Sons.

The following day they set out on their path and came across an ambush scene with overturned carts and deceased elven rangers. Upon getting closer, they discovered blasts of snow and ice which had led to the deaths. However, in investigating the overturned cart, ice-covered undead attacked as the bodies, prompted by the nearby warmth of the living, wanted the flesh of the living. It was a short battle and afterwords they noticed that there was likely one body unaccounted for based upon the number of horses and corpses. Quickly scanning for clues, Glaedwin Longclef found tracks that led into the nearby mountains. They chose to see if this is the hideout of the bandits as well as whether the missing individual was with the bandits as a hostage.

Eventually the group came to a ranger’s lodge across an icy river. Upon investigating, one of the rangers emerged but seemed hesitant to let the heroes come closer. When it became apparent that they were going to enter, the ranger retreated back inside, presumably to warn his associates.

Surrounding the lodge and forcing their way in, it was clear that those inside were not rangers, but most likely the bandits that had been plaguing the area. The leader of the bandits, Rohkir, was in the middle of discussions with a dwarven agent who ended up being a formidable foe with skills in not only martial weapons but also devious incendiaries.

Once the fighting was over and Rohkir and his men as well as the mysterious dwarf were killed, the group scanned the lodge for more clues. Naturally, they found the goods that had been stolen from the travelers but also a massive chest of gold coins containing 100 of the coins minted by the Sons of the Mountain King. Why the Sons were involved was a different matter – it was a mystery. Upstairs in the lodge, they did, however, find the prisoner – a female elven ranger named Vyper.

Vyper explained that the bandits were going to attempt to ransom her back to agents of the Elf Queen, for whom she was an emissary. When asked what Vyper was investigating, she stated that the Elf Queen wanted answers about the strange weather patterns that had been plaguing the area. After resting and cleaning themselves up, the group pressed on, with Vyper going with them for a couple of days until they were closing in on the Northern Colossus. Before she left, however, Vyper promised that the Elf Queen would repay their kindness and loyalty.

Icon Relationships for Next Session:

Glaedwin: Prince of Shadows (positive) 7; Lich King (negative) 1
Suri: Elf Queen (conflicted) 7
Tomorachian: Archmage (positive) 7
Saerid: Archmage (conflicted) 7; Lich King (negative) 1

Episode 20: Ironwall
An adventure, north of Ironwall

Prior to setting out from Forge, the members of the Half-Shadows had some final business to conduct. The long standing invitation from the mysterious dwarven organization, the Guild of Hammers awaited. Since it had been months since the invitation had been extended and since the members of the company had not yet approached the Guild, they felt that now was the best time to approach. Suspecting that Saerid Turquoise and Denralla would be most helpful in this discussion, they were recruited to do most of the talking, at least initially.

After some initial buzz by the Guild, the members of the company were taken to an audience with the Seer of the Guild, an ancient, blind dwarf with the ability to retell prophetic dreams. He spoke to the heroes of the role they had to play, speaking to Glaedwin Longclef as the man who ‘could see the undead.’ Aside from other vaguely worded prophecies, he provided them with the Fire Opal of Forge, an artifact with abilities to detect magic artifacts, hoping it would aid them in their quest to find Darkveil as he stated this was of extreme importance but filled with dangers.

Further, he explained perhaps one of the most troubling statements. He said that the Diamond of Destiny which protected the city of Dragonmeet from the ravages of the Lich King would be under attack soon and if it were destroyed by the Lich King’s agents, this would spell doom for the city. However, he went on to tell Tomorachian that if it were destroyed, this would reveal secrets for Araponda, something that all followers of the goddess would benefit from. Tomorachian would have to make a choice.

After leaving the Seer, the group returned to the dwarven council who asked the heroes to take a chest of jewels back to Princess Argenta. Since they were still filled with grief over what had happened with the Eye of Arik, they were hoping to regain her favor with some dwarven crafts and jewels. This was an important package that Saerid and the Half-Shadows were taking. After replenishing their provisions and one last stop at the Last Chance Tavern, they were on their way. There was a brief discussion of whether or not to go over land or go through the dwarven tunnels underneath the earth but in the end, it was determined that over land was the safest way to go.

Their stop in Haven three days later was brief but well received. The Princess was gracious and honored over the gifts the dwarves had sent and had a feast in honor of the Half-Shadows, continuing to thank them over their service in freeing the land from the evil that had cast a shadow over it.

Upon leaving Haven, their path was to take them northwest as they would travel beyond Ironwall into the northern wastes. It would be there that they would find a way to take Blackrazor from Una Helta, the Winter Witch. Dtermining Ironwall would be a good stop for a few nights, they made their way there with minimal encounters.

Once in Ironwall, the group spent a day or two shopping for more provisions and relaxing. Glaedwin tried to find some connections or others traveling north, in hopes that larger numbers would be a safer journey. Eventually he heard of Sir Corliss Waybore, a knight in the service of the Crusader who was going the same direction with some troops. After meeting Sir Corliss and determining that he was an honest, if not zealous follow of the Crusader, Glaedwin arranged for the two groups to travel together. Sir Corliss wanted to meet the rest of the group that evening as he had rented out the entire tavern for his men for a grand feast. Suriveth Varune managed to get in early to perform at the event but keeping a watchful eye over the soldiers and any interesting conversation that had transpired.

The following day, the group met up at the northern gates of Ironwall. They were surprised to see Sir Corliss not only with his men but also a large cart with a cage, holding a single prisoner. Claiming that the woman inside, Ohrana, was a witch being transported, it was something the heroes had not yet considered. They felt it was best to not speak to her even when she made a weak attempt to speak to Saerid.

Traveling for just two days, the destination would be the adventuring attraction, the Northern Colossus where the group would then part company. However, the group was beset upon by a group comprised of Ice Trolls and Frost Giants. Whereas it was shocking to see such icy creatures so far south, it was not something that they had time to truly ponder was all of Sir Corliss’ men were wiped out in the altercation except for a few scant survivors. It was at this point that Sir Corliss proposed a new plan: he would pay for the Half-Shadows to accompany him to the final destination which was about two days north of the Northern Colossus and four days out of their way. When pressed, he claimed that the witch, Ohrana, would be put to death and her soul would open a new Hellhole that the Crusader and his agents could use to invade the underworld and attack forces of the Diabolist.

This was an offer that the group would have to consider as it was not entire certain Ohrana was someone who should be subjected to the fate Sir Corliss had in mind for her.

Episode 19: Under Forge
Secrets of the Dark Tapestry are discovered

The dwarven scouts that led members of the Half-Moon Exploring Company to the gates of Forge were stern but polite (for dwarves). Upon arriving at the main gates of the massive dwarven city, those who had never been there before marveled at the majestic and ornate detail in the mountain carvings. Upon entering the tunnels to the underground city, it was evident that many traders, dwarven and non-dwarven, used these roads to conduct business and exploration.

Going past the numerous dwarven taverns and shops that lined the road to the city, proper, Saerid Turquoise reminded the group of the importance of finding the loremaster, Frockmeg, as he not only was to whom they had to deliver important treasures, but was also who they were told would have information on the Dark Tapestry.

Upon arriving in the true city of Forge, several of the adventurers decided this was a good opportunity to sell some rare items and attempt to find some better equipment for their adventures. As Suriveth Varune and Glaedwin Longclef were interested, in particular, Saerid showed them to a place he was familiar with, a knicknacker named Algrin who ran an establishment aptly titled ‘Algrin’s Store.’

Upon concluding their business there but before seeking out Frockmeg, Saerid decided there was another stop they needed to make. The mysterious and sinister item in their possession known as Bludhammer needed to be dealt with and Saerid decided that there was one group that would be best to leave it with – the Brotherhood of the Silent Voice. Since Saerid had a connection with these ancient warrior monks, they approached their monastery and after a brief negotiation, left the hammer with them but managed to eek out a few treasures from the monks as a sign of appreciation. It was here that the rest of the Half-Moon Exploring Company received their first education on the mysterious Mezzilen, the dwarven traitor now in the service of the Lich King. It was then that they went to meet Frockmeg.

Frockmeg was an eccentric and academic dwarf who worked in the vast libraries in Forge. Frockmeg seemed amicable even if his attendant, Helgrin did not. After presenting Frockmeg with the chest of treasures given to them by the dwarves of Haven, they then got down to business, explaining that agents of the Archmage sent them to ask about the Dark Tapestry. Frockmeg, alarmed that they would broach a topic in such a public location, dismissed all of his assistants except Helgrin and began to explain the dangers involved with the Dark Tapestry.

The Dark Tapestry, he explained, was something of a mystery. It was not an actual tapestry but would manifest like a constellation from time to time. There were numerous forces in the service of the Diabolist as well as the Lich King who were interested in uncovering its secrets, likely so they, too, could find the city of Darkveil. Agents of these dark powers, including the vile Black Lodge would stop at nothing to find it and had agents everywhere, as told by the prophecies, suggesting that allies would become enemies and traitors, thus few people could be trusted with such knowledge that had a habit of twisting and perverting those who came to understand such dark information.

Frockmeg did recognize that Saerid, with his unusual runes across his body and crackling energy, was someone with a special attunement and further recognized that he had gone through a ritual, readying him for understanding and interpreting the Dark Tapestry. Therefore, stated that he would have a guide ready for them in the morning who would take them into the ruins of a Duergar stronghold, a place called the Blood Ruins. There they would know the Dark Tapestry when they saw it and with Saerid, they could interpret the meanings that few others could. The guide, Frockmeg’s niece, Denralla, would meet them near the south gates of the city in the morning.

The following day the group gathered and did, indeed, meet Denralla. She was a proud scout, who had great familiarity with the ancient subterranean networks that connected Forge with the ruined under city that once belonged to the Duergar. Whereas she seemed to have little understanding of the Dark Tapestry, she was more than familiar with the Blood Ruins, the location they sought. Glaedwin Longclef, in an effort to get fresh with her, got more then he bargained for when she simply cut through the flirtatious talk and simply grabbed his manhood to judge for herself if the conversation was ‘worth pursuing.’

After these pleasantries were set aside, Denralla led them through the tunnels towards to Blood Ruins. After facing several challenges, including some wild umber hulks, the group came to the Blood Ruins, a former council chamber of a Duergar war council. On the ceiling above them was a black void that eventually began to come onto view for Saerid. Once the full vision came into view it was a constellation style map of the Dragon Empire. But before it could be fully studied, a Duergar warband came onto the scene, led by Helgrin, Frockmeg’s trusted lieutenant. Clearly Frockmeg’s reference to traitors was an eerie foreshadowing.

Fierce as the battle was, the members of the Half-Moon Exploring Company came out victorious with the Duergar dead and Helgrin dealt with permanently. As they caught their breath, the company knew it would not be long before more Duergar would arrive so they studied the map carefully. The constellation seemed to reveal the location of Darkveil as well as the items needed to get there. The full Path to Darkveil was revealed. At this point they made their way back to Forge.

Episode 18: The City of Cloud
Living in a floating city among the clouds

Knowing little of what to expect, the adventures associated with the Half-Moon Exploring Company, we boarded on a skiff and taken to the one of the floating cities of the Archmage, Cloud. Hosted by Javast, the second-in-command of the city, they were told little and explained that there was something of great importance they were needed for, with particular importance being given to Saerid Turquoise.

Once brought into the city, the group was taken to the Grand Palace which seemed to act as a place of not only administration but also learning as evidenced by the massive libraries as well as the numerous acolytes and attendants that seemed to roam through the halls. They were taken to a vast room which seemed to serve as a repository of books, scrolls, papers and items, all seemingly associated with the lost city of Darkveil. It soon became apparent as to why they were here as Darkveil seemed to again be at the forefront of people’s minds. It was here they were introduced to Lord Mayor Grayvon, the political and arcane administrator of Cloud who seemed cordial yet mysterious in his motives.

Grayvon immediately explained that he was aware of the quest the characters were on. Both Suriveth Varune and Glaedwin Longclef had been involved with this quest from the start and it seemed that Dracovel Kilvesh and Wolfram Delmanse were players, as well. The gathered papers, texts and documents were the culmination of centuries of research into the mysterious Darkveil, something the Archmage was interested in, as well. It seemed that the Archmage had reasons for wanting this city found as numerous prophecies were coming to fruition. Whether these were good omens or ill omens were not entirely clear. But it was evident that the Archmage wanted to be at the forefront of it. So through Grayvon, he was proposing that since the Half-Moon Exploring Company was already looking for it, perhaps they would be able to continue on, aided by the Archmage’s benevolent aid. However, there was a bit of a price. Further, since the Lich King as well as the Diabolist seemed to also be looking for the lost city, there was something of a time element involved.

As it turned out, Grayvon commented on the strange runes of energy that adorned Saerid’s body that he received during a surge of electricity. Grayvon mentioned that he believed this was yet another sign, beneficial to the discovery of Darkveil. The ceremony that he was suggesting was one that would give Saerid the ability to read and understand important clues. Specifically, there was discussion of the Dark Tapestry. Whereas the Dark Tapestry, an artifact associated with Darkveil, was theorized to be lost or not even a tapestry in a physical sense, Garyvon mentioned that he believed it was a real thing in the possession of Frockmeg, a dwarven leader in Forge. For the Dark Tapestry no doubt had many secrets to reveal. What followed was a discussion about the Alcarast, the sword Blackrazor as well as more esoteric concepts like the Caves of Chaos and places and things both possible and absurd. Further, Gravon mentioned Koldrag, who has been imprisoned by the Archmage several centuries ago for his role in the theft of the Shadow Prophecy, Book IV. Koldrag, an associate of the group and someone who Suriveth seemed smitten with (for an inexplicable reason) was also helping the group find Darkveil. It seemed agents of the Archmage had found Koldrag but not the book and whereas Grayvon seemed to have a dim view of Koldrag, he did agree to reunite Koldrag with the group.

But as to the matter of the ceremony, Grayvon mentioned that there was a traveling priest that had come to Cloud, someone who could assist with the ceremony, as this individual was also interested in finding out more about Darkveil. While Grayvon would summon this traveler, he needed Dracovel as there were matters they needed to discuss. Grayvon left the rest of the group to look at the materials while he mentioned that Cloud would be moving towards Anvil, somewhere that he suspected the heroes needed passage towards.

While Grayvon was away Saerid, Glaedwin, Suriveth and Wolfram began wading through the mountain of papers and research, realizing much of it was erroneous, foolish and downright wrong. When it seemed like hours had passed, Glaedwin had convinced Wolfram to explore the palace with him. Realizing the palace was massive – perhaps more so on the inside than it appeared on the outside – they did find numerous empty rooms but the most interesting discovery was a door in the basement covered in fantastic magical runes. Whereas they were not able to find any sign of Dracovel, they did discover that they were not prisoners in the palace as they thought they could have been.

Meanwhile when Suriveth looked through the various documents, she found a poem to ‘Little Leaf’ which was odd as it was a name that her grandfather had called her years ago. In the poem there was a mention of a ‘Jeweled Door,’ a name that had no real meaning for her but one she would commit to memory.

Upon Grayvon’s return, he had with him a new guest, someone he introduced as Tomorachian, the previously mentioned priest. It was revealed that Tomorachian (or ‘Tom’) was a priest in the Cult of Araponda, a faith dedicated to technology and change. Tom was friendly and amicable and explained he would like to aid them on the quest for Darkveil. Whereas he did not have a great deal of information to share, he did say he was dedicated and that his faith had sent him on the quest as they had been reading the signs and omens as well. When Grayvon was asked about Dracovel, he mentioned that Draco was no longer even on Cloud – which came to a surprise to Suriveth and Glaedwin who immediately suspected something was afoot. Grayvon assured them however, that Draco was on a special quest of his own, specific to the desires of the Archmage.

Tom suggested walking into the city and getting some fresh air as well as a drink, as the ceremony Saerid would go through would be an unpleasant one and perhaps a few drinks would be well received, especially as a way to get to know one another. When Tom mentioned that the place he found most accommodating in the flying city was a placed called the ‘Jeweled Door,’ Suriveth was immediately curious. While there, the group had a good time getting to know one another but more importantly, Suriveth found another clue from the Prince of Shadows.

Upon arriving back at the palace, the group was introduced to Koldrag, a seemingly gruff scholar who was immediately greeted passionately by Suriveth. Koldrag did reveal to the newcomers, Saerid and Tom that the form he was in was not his true form and that he was an ogre magi, which naturally raised some concerns. The fact that he was an enemy of the people of Anvil made Saerid even more concerned, quite understandably.

The ceremony was a dour affair as Grayvon and Tom cast an elaborate ritual that made Saerid’s tattoos and runes seemingly come alive with energy. The result was that Saerid would be able to read the Dark Tapestry and interpret some of its meaning. But for a month he would not be able to handle anything powered by Soul Gems as he would render them inert.

That night the group was shown to their suites in the palace where they needed some much needed recuperation and rest after the trials of the ceremony Saerid was put through. However, was Suriveth worked on some alchemical concoctions, the entire area exploded with an evil energy. The windows shattered and undead creatures swarmed through the walls, forming out of the very evil rocks that had crashed through the windows. This was clear work of the Lich King. He was evidently showing his bony hand by trying to stop them in his attacks. Whereas the battle was fierce, the heroes were triumphant in their efforts.

The following day, after dealing with the aftermath of the attacks, they were upon Anvil. Grayvon saw to it that the group was deposited on firm ground where they were intercepted by a dwarven patrol and marched a short distance to the gates of Forge.

Episode 17: Saving the Princess
In which the Palace of the Silver Princess is liberated

Continuing through the Palace of Princess Argenta, the heroes were in need of rest after expending all their martial and arcane energies on foul creatures and demonic entities. They rested in the bedroom of the court alchemist and laid low while they regained their energy. However, right as they were ready to pack up and continue, they were beset upon by not just one Hungry Star but a trio of them. Whereas the creatures were dispatched easily, they were now aware that powerful fell magic was in use somewhere in the palace.

Moving on, they encountered the palace garden. In a large, open air room, there was an indoor forest as well as overgrown gardens. But something more sinister had taken over as evil plants and sentient fungi had taken root as well as an Otyugh which proved to be a creature capable of great lethal prowess.

Moving on, and somewhat with the aid of Candella and Duchess, the group was pointed in the general direction of the throne room and they progressed, despite the protests of Glaedwin Longcleff who did not fully trust the pair of so called ‘ladies-in-waiting.’

The heroes eventually stumbled upon Princess Argenta’s bedchamber and found a variety of valuables that had not yet been pillages by the hobgoblins and other fell creatures that had taken over the castle. When Suriveth Varune peered from the bedchamber and looked across the scarred and dreadful land she spotted a sole rider on a horse that was slowly making their way away from the castle. hen the rider looked back, Suriveth and Glaedwin recognized the rider even at a distance. It was Marshalla, the mysterious alchemist in league with Elorg. It was evident that she was in some way involved with the fall of the palace.

Shortly after leaving the bedchamber of the Princess, the heroes came across a large iron door that had been covered in black, inky webs and a slightly sticky residue. It seemed as if it was a portent of great evil for whatever lie beyond the door. When the door was swung open, the heroes saw a wizard, later identified as Carthus, as well as a cambion assassin that identified himself as Davon the Reckoner, sent by the Diabolist to destroy Sir Bellivin. They were in the middle of a summoning ceremony and had the ruby bladed sword that Rowena the bard had counseled them on finding. As they tried to put a stop to whatever foul magic Carthus was using, their efforts were further impeded when Carthus summoned a Piscodaemon, perhaps one of the most fearsome creatures that they had yet encountered. Fortunately, once Carthus and Davon were dealt with, the Piscodaemon was also dispatched. It was greatly aided by the powerful arcane forces of Saerid Turquoise and his effective control over lightning.

Shortly after this harrowing battle, the heroes roamed further, encountering a few small battles with hobgoblins and other lesser dangerous creatures. But eventually the throne room was found and it was filled with statues of the court members. Sitting on the throne was My Lady’s Heart. Taking the advice from Rowena, Sir Bellivin used the ruby sword and destroyed the gem, releasing a cloud that seemed to free the court members from their stone-like state but also released Princess Argenta as well as Sir Ellis Remmy, her betrothed.

Once thanks were given and explanations were provided as well as the last of the evil creatures run off from the palace, Suriveth explained that they were members of the Half-Moon Exploring Company and the Princess not only rewarded them but took them to the treasury where they discovered what they were looking for in their quest to find out more about Darkveil: the Darkveil Amulet.

Saerid then accompanied the dwarves to an important meeting where they discovered their shame in what they had allowed to befall the Princess. Saerid was tasked with taking some important treasures to Anvil to hand over to Underlord Frockmeg. He agreed and since the heroes had discussed going to Anvil, anyway, this would be a good trip.

Meanwhile, Suriveth had gone to meet with one of the elven minsiters in Princess Argenta’s court, so that he could identify some of their unusual items they had found. He gladly explained what each did for them including identifying all the Soul Gems that were found. He also pulled her aside and explained that the Prince of Shadows was very pleased with her success and gave her a key to a secret location in Frostforge, a city in the northern wastes to the northwest of Ironwall. He suggested it would be a good place for she and her friends to go.

Not long after the great celebrations that were taking place in Haven, a darkness seemed to fall over the land. It was a floating city of the Archmage, Cloud. When envoys from the city came down, they wished to speak with Saerid and invited him, somewhat coldly, to accompany them back to the flying city to discuss matters of grave importance. Saerid and the rest of the group cut their merriment short and agreed to go with High Chamberlain Javast as his guests to the flying city..

Episode 16: A Demonic Presence

Continuing the exploration of the castle, looking for clues as to the fate of Princess Argenta, the adventurers ascended the secret passage into the upper levels, into the living areas. One of the first areas discovered was the alchemist’s lab. While rummaging around through the lab was fruitful in that it yielded some treasures as well as some Soul Gems, it also was the home to a rather lethal golem that attacked once the treasures were disturbed. Glaedwin Longclef got the worst of it but the rest of the heroes managed to defeat it and move on.

Progressing through the castle, a variety of more statues of residents were discovered but in the outer chamber of the court wizard, two unlikely people were encountered – a pair of women calling themselves Candella and Duchess. The pair claimed to be ladies-in-waiting to Princess Argenta but there was something about their stories which simply did not add up, such as their dress, their ability to handle themselves in a fight, as well as their lack of hard data about the rest of the castle. However, before they two could be deeply questioned, they checked in on the wizard’s bedroom, discovering that there was, in fact, a demon present, or more specifically, a Hezrou, posing as the sleeping wizard. The demon was a formidable enemy, as they soon discovered, as the creature quickly took out several party members, including the group’s wizard, Dracovel Kilvesh. However, the quick thinking of Suriveth Varune and Saerid Turquise (not to mention their powerful magic) dispatched the disgusting creature.

After dealing with the demon and dispatching it back to whatever abyss it came from, they did find some unique treasures (a Twilight Amulet, Gloves of the Rogue, and a Mark of Pestilence), including some Soul Gems. However, they decided to investigate the treasures more deeply later.

Continuing with the northern section of the castle, they found the chapel that was currently being desecrated by a unit of hobgoblins and bugbears. The battle was fierce but under Sir Bellivin’s leadership, they manged to defeat the foul creatures, even though several of the heroes were rendered unconscious. Shortly after this, they again asked Candella and Duchess the best way to get to the audience chamber and again the two women seemed to balk. Nevertheless, they continued with their investigation.


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