Schemes of the Lich King

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Episode 1: A Discussion of Hellholes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Episode 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 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 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 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 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 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 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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