Thursday, August 20, 2009

Episode 15: 7/18/09

The Party:
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-3
Haroldur, human cleric/5
Nineve, human knight/5
Sarek, human wizard/5
Xicar, human cleric/5

We're still reeling from our battle with the ogre matron when Zasolomel appears on top of the barn! He declares that we have been judged and found wanting. Again, he accuses us of being servants of chaos. At this point, we know he can't be reasoned with, so we wade right in. As usual, he puts up a fairly tough fight, but disappears before we have a chance to defeat him once and for all. We grumble about his cowardly tactics and crazy conspiracy theories as we head back inside the barn to tend to the survivors.

In cages inside the barn we find two prisoners, Edain and Orrin. Orrin is a teen with a broken arm. His family runs (or more accurately, ran) the hunting lodge. He also turns out to be Astrid's brother. Their reunion is hardly happy, but they do seem glad to see each other. Edain is a ranger from Blackwall keep and was captured when he left the keep for the lodge. He is missing his left foot. He tells us the ogres cut it off a day ago and ate it in front of him. Nineve nods knowingly, but the rest of us cringe in disgust and try to change the subject.

While the humans converse amongst themselves, I notice that the strange dog I saw in the cage earlier is in fact an elven hound! It's not very happy at the moment. I spend some time interacting with it and manage to calm it down somewhat. I let it out of the cage and it slowly wanders off, but stays close to the lodge.

Orrin breaks the news to Astrid that their parents didn't make it. She takes it really hard. We attempt to talk her through the pain and ease her suffering, as is our duty, but her grief is too great. Overwhelmed by the events of the past few days, she sobs inconsolably, and we eventually leave her to be alone with her sorrow.

Once the excitement dies down, we remember why we initially came here - supplies! We search the lodge and find food, along with several caches:

obsidian statuette of a hunting dog
bent silver crown with opal inlays
bone wand with spiral gold inlay (CMW)
scroll of Fire Shield
dirty moonstone
scroll Lesser Restoration
potion (Blur)
iron-bound chest containing 600 gp
pair of silver chalices
Everfull mug with Dwarven runes
scroll Bull's Strength (D)
copper inlaid trumpet
gold anklet with inset bloodstones
cloak (of Resistance +1)

We get the prisoners fed and settle down for the night. That evening, Zolara appears.

The Choosing:
Nineve - The Cyclone
Haroldur - The Paladin
Sarek - The Keep
Ashe - The Uprising
Xicar - The Forge

The Spread:

The Winged Serpent The Crows The Keep
The Liar The Carnival The Cyclone
The Juggler The Forge The Fiend

Regarding the past, the Winged Serpent represents knowledge and prudence - the lessons and training that have allowed you to come this far. The Juggler represents those who play with the lives and destinies of others - misaligned The Juggler falters and tragedy is assured for those whose lives he meddles in.
In the present, the crows are a dangerous bunch who violently take that which is loved. Here I see 3 where once there were 4, but misaligned they may aid you despite your misgivings. The Forge represents dangers that require many sources of strength to overcome.
As for the future, the Keep may be taken literally here - as an indication that you will reach your goal. The cyclone represents a force that tears through all opposition - but not a natural force - one that instead comes from an intelligent being. The Fiend indicates many deaths in a great calamity and a great intellect behind it.

We go to bed that night with Zolara's calamitous predictions echoing in our minds.

After breakfast the next morning, we head out in the direction of the keep. As we arrive in the valley containing the keep, we find it besieged by scores of orcs, goblins, ogres, and the like. I start scouting as evening falls. After moving along the ridge for a short time, I find a supply camp filled with orcs and a giant of some description. This camp is buzzing with activity, as if they are preparing to move. Further up on the ridgeline, I find another camp with siege weapons manned by goblins. There is a thin reptilian figure that seems to be in command. I head back and report my findings. We discuss tactics and decide to wait until the giant and its entourage move out of the supply camp, then raid the camp to arm the convicts. Then, we'll attack the siege weapon camp and use the ballistas to take out the giant.

As predicted, when dawn breaks, the giant sallies forth towards the keep, and we enact our plan. At the supply camp, we encounter the rear guard of orcs, ogres and goblin scouts. The little resistance they offer is swept aside and we easily take the camp. We outfit our convicts and take what food can be found. Nineve raids the horse pens in the back of the camp and locates one among the sorry, malnourished lot that used to be a trained warhorse. She mounts up and we move on.

As we approach the siege camp, we can see the giant and his entourage have made it about halfway to the keep. Large, bat-like creatures wheel through the air above the various orc groups.

In the siege engine camp, we find 3 ballistas, each manned by a goblin squad. Two hellhounds guard the base of a watchtower containing 2 goblin archers and a tall reptilian leader. We charge up the hill and the battle is joined. The reptilian, a half-dragon arcanist, throws fireballs around while hoards of goblins swarm me and Tamclar. Nineve keeps the hellhounds busy while Haroldur and Sarek focus their attentions on the tower. Eventually, the casters burn the tower down, exposing the half-dragon leader. At length, we take control of the siege engine camp, but not before Nineve loses her mount and we all get quite singed.

Our army of convicts, led by Black Bart and Edain, rush the hilltop and cheer our victory! We quickly man the nearest ballista while our convict army prepares to defend our position. Tamclar's extensive engineering knowledge comes into play and he directs us as we all work together to fire the huge machine. We alternate between firing fire pots at the incoming orc warbands and sinking spears into the massive giant.

After a few hits, the giant turns around, enraged, and starts barreling towards us. Fortunately for us, he's quite a ways off and encumbered considerably by the heavy armor he's wearing. We struggle to fire the ballista quickly and accurately, and soon the giant is close enough to start throwing trees at us. He nearly hits us once, completely demolishing our ballista. Fortunately, there were three of them on the ridge, so we move to the next one and resume our assault. Just when we think things can't get worse, red wyrmling, about the size of a very large dog, starts circling above our position and breathing fire down on us! The giant is almost upon us. We're about to break and run, but fortunately, our parting shot brings the juggernaut down with a tremendous crash! The wyrmling flies off, and we're safe!


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Friday, August 07, 2009

Episode 14: ?/?/09

The Party:

Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-3

Haroldur, human cleric/5

Nineve Floret, human knight/5

Sarek, human wizard/5
Xikar, human cleric/5

[Note: It's been a long time since we've run this campaign, and a new player has joined the group. Since it's been so long, we just dropped his new character right into the story.]

As we finish exploring the small tomb, we're set upon by more orcs and goblins. Some of these orc leaders are incredibly strong, and this is a really tough and lengthy fight. After the battle, we return to check on our convicts and Astrid. One of the convicts managed to kill an escaping goblin, and they all start complaining about being taken, shackled and unarmed, through goblin-infested forests. Led by a man called Black Bart, they start to raise a ruckus, but we manage to quell the mutinous dogs.

It's now evening, so we camp at the shrine for the night. We spend half of the next day reinterring the exhumed remains and directing the convicts to bury the bodies of the orcs and goblins. Around mid-afternoon, we head in the direction of the hunting lodge.

Before long, we hear the distant sounds of woodcutting. Wary of what me way find in this orc-infested territory, I scout ahead and discover an orc, goblin and ogre logging operation. They appear to be erecting a roadblock on a part of the trail that leads through a gorge. I report back to the group and we prepare to crash their party.

Sarek sneaks up to the top of the gorge and kicks things off with a Fireball. We all scramble up the roadblock (eventually). Tamclar maims the ogre erecting the roadblock, but he eventually escapes, limping off into the woods as we turn our attention to the veritable swarm of orcs that's threatening to overcome us. It's a very tough fight, but at last, the final orc falls.

Victorious, we press on and come to a clearing in the forest. It seems quiet. Too quiet. As we're looking around, we notice blood on the grass. Upon closer inspection, I recognize the tracks of a limping ogre! Buoyed by the prospect of finishing off the wounded ogre, we walk right into a trap - literally! Tamclar steps right into a bear trap.

Suddenly, goblin archers appear in the woods nearby. I work on freeing Tamclar while the others battle the goblin menace. Through the confusion, I hear several orcs and an ogre running through the forest towards our convicts! I shout a warning and Xikar, Nineve and I take off to help. Sarek (who doesn't care about convicts), Haroldur and Tamclar(who don't run very fast) stay behind to finish off the goblins.

While we rescue the convicts, Haroldur steps into another bear trap! Fortunately, Tamclar mightily pries it open and frees the unlucky cleric. We manage to save all but one of the convicts. During the fight, Black Bart helped us out by strangling an orc with his bare hands. After this, I seriously consider lending Bart my longsword, Aernin, Rite of Law, but after much deliberation, and dissenting opinions from the party, I decide against. We bury the bodies of the deceased and set up camp for the night. That evening, we use up the last of the food for the prisoners...

In the morning, we press on to the hunting lodge, hoping to at least find supplies. As we approach the lodge, we hear the steady sound of wood chopping coming from the barn. The path leading up to the lodge is littered with bear traps, and Nineve almost steps in one! We approach cautiously and are set upon by 2 goblin wolf riders and some orcs. We're in a bad spot - all spread out, so this fight is tougher and longer than it needs to be. The wolf riders escape into the woods, but instead of being angry, we're just glad to be rid of them. We've really got our hands full with the orcs.

Suddenly, we notice the chopping noises coming from the barn begin to be punctuated by cries for mercy, and we all have a sick feeling that whoever's in there isn't cutting up firewood. We finish off the last of the orcs and hurry over to the barn.

The area is littered with body parts, strung up or nailed to trees, the building, anything convenient. The outside of the barn is covered in orc graffiti, written in blood. The front of the barn has doors which open out from a second story hayloft. Haroldur decides to use his clockwork wings to try to jump through the doors into the loft. The rest of us quite sensibly elect to go around to the other side of the barn, where the doors are on the ground floor.

We burst onto a grotesque scene. In the corner are crudely constructed cages. Some are empty. One contains a terrified human teenage boy and a man with a dirty, bandaged stump where his left foot should have been. Another contains a strange looking dog, which seems very upset. The interior of the barn is littered with body parts. Bits of several dismembered corpses are everywhere, and I do mean bits - it appears the ogres have been taking their victims' limbs off a few inches at a time. In the center of the barn is a bloody chopping block. A recently-deceased human is tied to it, surrounded by three ogres. One of them holds a bloody cleaver.

Both parties spend a silent moment staring open-mouthed at each other in shock (and for us, revulsion). The sound of Haroldur futilely flinging himself against the closed hayloft doors (again) snaps us out of it, and we wade in. The ogres are brutal, but we fight savagely, enraged and horrified by the gristly things which have happened here.

Sarek throws down a fireball, which drives the ogres into a frenzy. In retaliation, the ogre with the cleaver attempts to hurl it at us, but misses! The cleaver sails from the ogre’s hand and somehow boomerangs directly into his stomach! He promptly starts bleeding to death. We capitalize on this opportunity to finish one of the ogres off quickly. As we’re cutting down the accidental seppuku-ist, Sarek casts Tasha’s Hideous Laughter on one of the remaining ogre threats. What Sarek lacks in cross-cultural understanding he makes up for in obscene gestures, and the ogre collapses to the floor in gales of laughter. I rush in and tickle his kidneys with my swords while the rest of the party deals with the last ogre, who has decided to leave the barn all of a sudden.

As he’s making his exit, he receives some parting shots from Tamclar and Nineve. They’re not enough to take him down, however, and he runs outside the barn… calling for his mammie? Our curiosity piqued, we all peer outside the barn. We look on in horror as “Mammie”, aka the most grotesque, obscene and unnatural creature we have ever seen, erupts from the lodge.

Her thin, stringy hair is pasted to her head and face in sweaty black mats. She is wearing a dirty, ratty red sarong, which, although it must’ve been fashioned from a giant’s bedsheets, is woefully inadequate to cover her enormous bulk. Purple scars and boils mar her dull, blubbery flesh. She looks as if she smells like week-old dead fish. I am suddenly glad that we are upwind.

She begins to loudly berate her son in a voice that is somewhere between a belch and a raspy cackle. Terrified, the wounded ogre starts to run off. Around this time, she notices us. Tamclar very sensibly takes the opportunity to shoot the fleeing ogre in the back with his trusty crossbow, which finishes him off.

She lurches towards us, vomiting zombies in a spray of sticky spittle. Xikar bravely wades in, and casts Bleeding Touch out the foul she-beast. Unfortunately, she takes exception to this assault, and chomps him! As she munches thoughtfully on her bite of cleric flesh, the hapless victim wriggles away and escapes to a safe distance. Sarek Webs the ogre matron just as her zombie minions close in on Haroldur, who has stopped jumping at the hay loft doors and re-joined the action. Haroldur and Sarek handle the zombies while the rest of us shoot at the trapped ogre matron from a distance. She struggles futilely in the Web while we pepper her with arrows. Drawing on her impressive size and strength, she eventually breaks free of the Web, but to no avail. Weakened by her struggle, she finally collapses under our onslaught. Victory is ours!


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Episode 13: 3/7/09

The Party:

Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-3
Haroldur, human cleric/5
Nineve Floret, human knight/5
Sarek, human wizard/5

Zolara interprets our reading:

[insert reading here!]

We've made camp. Sitting around the fire, our conversation drifts to Tamclar's wavering faith. Despite a slight misstep by Nineve, we manage to have a stimulating religious conversation, which gives everyone plenty of food for thought as we head off to bed.

Dawn breaks and we head out, but unfortunately I find it impossible to lead the group through the wilderness effectively while also preventing my party and our convicts from actively killing themselves. I spend all day saying things like, "No! Don't eat that!" and "Wait! That's poison ivy!" and we end up wasting a day wandering through the wilderness. At the end of the day I'm frustrated with our lack of progress, but fortunately I have little time for self-chastising as we spend another evening chatting with Tamclar around the fire. We talk late into the night, and in the end, he announces that he has resolved his issues and decided to stay with the church of Wee Jas. This is great news! Buoyed by our success, the next day I'm feeling very confident in my woodsmanship and we make terrific progress!

Unfortunately, on day three of our journey I am struggling to make headway with our group through the dense forest. We're lost, and we're running low on food. Preoccupied with putting us back on the right track, I neglect to pay attention to the signs of danger around us. Suddenly, we find ourselves at the entrance to a wyvern's cave!

The criminals run from the clearing into the cover of the forest, but our group has been spotted. We get a few shots off at the wyvern, and suddenly it dives at me, attempting to snatch me into the air! I manage to twist out of its grasp at the last second, and it flies past us, just as it's mate emerges from the cave!

Nineve charges the wyvern on the ground, but stumbles and misses. Nineve is taking a beating from the wyvern at the cave entrance, so I charge forward and deliver a telling blow, wounding it gravely. Sarek summons a hellhound, which joins the fray at the cave entrance. Working together, we manage to finish it off.

While Nineve and I are fighting the grounded wyvern, the airborne one continues to menace the rest of the group. Sarek blasts it with a bolt of lightning, but then it swoops down and snatches up Haroldur. The cleric struggles, but the wyvern is making off with him. Out of nowhere, Tamclar shoots the beast down with an expertly-placed crossbow bolt, saving Haroldur and the day! We loot the Wyvern's cave and find:

700 gp
400 sp
Sandals of Sprinting
some valuable cleric's vestments
a jade pendant
a Lesser Crystal of Life-Keeping
a magic Crystal of Glancing Blows
a CLW potion
a scroll of Invisibility (arcane)
a scroll of Remove Paralysis (divine)
Panpipes of Sounding

In all, it turned out to be a profitable excursion. As an added bonus, I finally orient myself and recognize this cave as one marked on our map! I feel like I've gotten us back on track, and as evening starts to fall, I know we're nearing our goal - the hunting lodge, where we will rendez-vous with some of the rangers affiliated with Blackwall Keep. We decide to camp in the shelter of the cave. Near dusk, we hear the baying of hounds and oafish, inhuman laughter mixed with cries for help. It sounds close. We leave the convicts at the cave and investigate the nearby commotion. In a short distance, we come upon another clearing.

Two ogres and their pack of hunting dogs have treed a naked human and are making obscene taunts at him. They don't seem to notice our approach. Sarek pounces on the opportunity and nukes the clearing with a fireball, laughing maniacally. The charred corpse of the naked man falls from the tree. Several of the dogs also go down, and the ogres are singed and angry. Before the rest of us can react, the ogres and their remaining dogs are upon us. We fight valiantly and eventually put them down.

Looking over the bodies, it's clear the naked human died violently in a fire... Puzzlingly, the ogres are clearly not equipped for travel, meaning that they must not be far from their camp. This doesn't make sense, because Blackwall Keep is stated goal to prevent ogres and their ilk from settling this area...

We respectfully bury the human and head back to trail, but I can't shake my growing sense of foreboding. Suddenly, everything in the woods looks suspicious. As we hike along in the gathering dusk, I spot another naked figure sprinting through the woods some distance away. I call out to the person, who cries for help and dashes towards us headlong. At the sound of my voice, another naked person emerges at about the same distance, and flees towards us, recklessly tripping and scrambling through the brush.

Suddenly, the source of the nudists' fear becomes evident as goblins on wolves appear over a small rise. One of them, clearly the leader, calmly levels his crossbow at the first fleeing human and shoots him in the back - the man collapses about 20 yards in front of us. The image of the midwife appears to Sarek, and he feels more resilient (gaining DR = his WIS modifier for this encounter). The mounted goblins seem surprised to see us and charge forward, warning us away from their kill. We notice the leader is riding a hellhound. They fire on us and the battle is joined. Incensed, we rush in and slaughter them.

After the panic of battle dies down, I hear something in the woods, just the slightest quivering. Silently closing in on the sound, I find a naked female elf crouching under a bush, shaking. Speaking softly in Elven, I coax her out of her hiding spot. I suppress a gasp as she crawls cautiously into view. She has been badly tortured, recently - her eyes are gone.

I wrap her in my cloak and we heal her as best we can; we can't restore her sight, but at least her other injuries will no longer trouble her. She can hardly speak as she's still quite in shock, but we manage to make out that the hunting lodge has been overrun. We try to reassure her as much as possible, and bring her back with us to our wyvern-cave camp. Nineve tends to the girl, who mutely allows herself to be fed, clothed, and put to bed. She moves like a frightened animal. The rest of us explain the situation to the convicts. Surprisingly, they seem to pity the girl and appreciate the gravity of the current circumstances. They give us no trouble, and we all pass an uneasy but mercifully uneventful night in the wyvern cave.

Morning comes and the girl seems to have recovered a bit. She tells us that her name is Astrid. A few nights ago, orcs, goblins, and ogres attacked the lodge, and captured and tortured the residents. She was taken to an old ranger shrine in the woods, blinded, and released to be hunted. She suggests we check out this shrine for clues to the attacks, or perhaps even survivors.

The shrine isn't included on my maps of the area, but following her rough directions we eventually discover it. At the shrine, we find orcs and goblins milling around, desecrating the shrine and exhuming the graves of the rangers buried here. A building to the side of the shrine is a smoking ruin. As we approach, the goblins spot us and shout, "Kill the pinkies!" Thinking quickly, Sarek casts Wind Wall to protect us from the hail of projectiles that soon follow. Nineve receives a vision of the Mute Hag (and gains DR = her WIS modifier for this encounter), and the battle is joined.

The orcs and goblins try to pick us off from a distance, but their attempts are thwarted by Sarek's Wind Wall. They soon become frustrated and charge our position. We make quick work of them.

After the battle, a search of the granite shrine in the center of the area reveals a concealed mechanism. Everyone stands well back as I activate it - and a hidden stairwell descends into the earth under the shrine! We move down the stairs and enter an ancient burial chamber, obviously for some sort of barbarian lord. Centered on the back wall is an altar. The chamber seems to be guarded by immobile skeletons, keeping mute vigil over the tomb. As we approach the altar, the dust-shrouded skeletons move to an uncanny semblance of life!

We dispatch the undead guardians and find:

2 MW scimitars
a suit of +1 half-plate
a +1 helm of defense
a +1 orcbane short spear


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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Episode 12: 10/11/08

The Party:

Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-3
Haroldur, human cleric/5
Nineve Floret, human knight/5
Sarek, human wizard/5

We're just finishing up with Filge's pets when suddenly we hear the elevator returning from upstairs! We scramble into a defensive formation. The doors open to reveal four more cultists. Fortunately, we have the tactical advantage. We corner them in the elevator and cut through them like a knife through butter. At the end of the skirmish, we hear horses and a commotion upstairs. Nineve and Haroldur head up to investigate and hold off any over-zealous authorities while Sarek and I examine the altar for evidence.

Using Improved Sift, I see a vision of Filge and a buxom shrouded female in the midst of what appears to be a reanimation ceremony. A loud crash (sounds like us) breaks Filge's concentration and the spell goes awry amidst much cursing and calamity. On the altar, we find diamonds and the remains of diamonds (about half are intact), along with a partially-charred scroll of Raise Dead. We net:

2100 gp in diamonds

I put everything into an evidence bag and we join Nineve and Haroldur upstairs.

Nineve has skillfully convinced the mounted city guardsmen of the truth - that we are here on business with the church of Wee Jas, and have captured the Sawfish Boys for assisting with illegal necromancy. We notice that Kinto is missing from our group of captives, but the other three are still there. The guards take our prisoners into custody and we are escorted back to the Ruby Temple with only moderate hassling. We check in with Mossad, heal up, and go straight to bed!

First thing in the morning, we're summoned to Marten's office. I'm pleasantly surprised to find my favorite uncle, Justice Ironbriar of the city guard, is also there. Unfortunately, my bright mood evaporates as it becomes clear he is not visiting, but in fact here under rather unpleasant circumstances. He inquires about our involvement in the deaths of Captain Tevlis and his two (secretly treacherous) guards, and a challenging conversation ensues.

The interview does NOT go well. We are implicated in the deaths, and Uncle Ironbriar, who could never be accused of nepotism, demands our arrest. Just when I think this can't get any worse, Marten uses his considerable political clout and refuses to allow us to be taken into custody, assuring the Justice we'll be secure in the custody of the church. Suddenly, the city jail is looking like a better option...

Uncle Ironbriar leaves and Marten lays into us, suspending our Keeper status! After a thorough dressing-down, we leave and meet with Mossad. He explains that he's still in our corner, and will try to get to the bottom of this complex situation. I hand over our bag of evidence to Mossad and thank him for his support. We go have breakfast in the mess and return to our quarters - only to find our things have been relocated to the acolytes' quarters! We trudge down to the common sleeping area and begin our new, mundane tasks as acolytes. Yay.

Our first task: The Potter's Field.
Cremation and entombment cost money that is rarely spent of the poor, Instead they are buried in the potter's field, left to decompose, and the graves are eventually re-used, over and over. However, it takes skill and careful cataloging to prevent disturbing previous graves that have not had time to rest sufficiently. We spend all day in the archives going over the complicated plans so we can find an appropriate resting place for this week's batch of deceased peasants. We give the burial orders, but a few days later we hear there were some problems with the plots we ordered for a few of our charges...

Next up: The Drowned Son
The eldest son of a well-respected family loyal to the Cabal has drowned in the river - they desperately want him raised as they feel he perished before his time. They cannot afford the Commune spell, nor the cost to raise him, but they are insistent. They have been loyal parishioners of the Cabal for years, and we are keenly aware that mishandling this situation could cost the Cabal valuable members. We almost feel like Keepers again as we make our way to the somber house. Through sensitivity and patient understanding, by the end of the afternoon we convince the family to let their son go.

Then, we're back to playing corpse-jenga with: Cataloging Catacomb 7A
As is to be expected, the catacombs of Whitewall become overcrowded from time to time. When this happens, acolytes are sent into older catacombs to catalog the remains therein and determine where there is room to inter additional remains. This week, that's us. We get to brush up on our Profession: Gravekeeper skills and spend several days carefully cataloging, reorganizing, and cleaning this section of the catacombs in preparation for future use.

During our "adventures in acolytism" in the Temple one day, we hear Marten curse and then stagger backwards through a doorway, clutching a fresh, bleeding wound in his shoulder. Naturally, we're intrigued. Resisting the urge to start chanting "Fight! Fight! Fight!", we sidle in closer for a better look. Moments later 31E hobbles into view, eyes red and weapon bloody! Marten sees us and demands we deal with our "rogue construct". 31E matter-of-factly informs Marten that he cannot give him the key-plate under any circumstances, and demands to be taken to the Exarch at the Grand Terminus immediately. It's a tense situation, but we tread carefully and manage to talk sense into both Marten and 31E. Marten reluctantly agrees to allow 31E to retain the key-plate, and 31E agrees to cooperate with Marten and the Cabal's clergy (on the condition that said cooperation will not violate his programmed directives). We all gain 1 influence point.

The next day we're back at it with: The Sickly Girl
A young girl is very ill and near death. We visit the home to discuss arrangements with her family and ease their grief, but while we're there, I happen to notice that she's suffering from Red Ache, the same disease that almost claimed Tamclar's wife. I bring this to everyone's attention, and suddenly our focus shifts from easing her passage to bringing her back from the brink of death! We give her family detailed instructions on how to tend to her, and with some magical assistance and our careful ministrations, in a week or two the girl recovers and the family members all become loyal followers of Wee Jas!

A few days later we are assigned to investigate: Missing Gravediggers
We receive word that several gravediggers have gone missing in Whitewall this morning. Gravediggers vanish from time to time in the Whitewall, so this isn't terribly unusual. Occasionally, gravediggers turn to tomb-robbing and attempt to make off with their ill-gotten gains! We're sent to get to the bottom of it.

When we arrive at the scene, we quickly rule out skulduggery. It looks like the workers were digging a grave when the floor collapsed beneath them. They must have breached the vault of an old crypt, not listed in the records. It appears they may have fallen in. We tie a rope to a piton anchored to the secure part of the floor and descend into the pit. We find a shovel on the floor directly under the hole, and at the other end of the room, two dazed-looking gravediggers. They don't seem to notice us, which is odd. Just as we're trying to figure out what's wrong with them, my heightened hearing detects an incoherent babbling off in the distance. It's so distracting! I'm forced to stare off blankly into middle distance while the rest of the party addresses the gravediggers.

Luckily, I snap back to reality just in time to brutally lay into an Allep. After it is dispatched, we turn our attentions towards the skeletons which start to pour into the chamber. We've got a lot on our hands, suddenly. Honestly, it's the most excitement we've had in weeks. It becomes too much for Sarek to bear. Crackling with unspent magical energy, he fireballs the place without warning, which takes care of the skeleton problem but also immolates the hapless gravediggers, unfortunately. We climb out of the vault, seal it up temporarily, and report back to the Cabal.

That evening Mossad asks to speak with us. Marten is still very irritated with us, but Moussad hates to see our skills going to waste on mundane tasks. He recommends we leave town for a while to let Marten and the general political climate cool off a bit. We agree and make preparations to leave while Mossad works on finding a reason for us to be gone.

Meanwhile, Sarek and Haroldur have also noticed some of their inconsequential personal items are missing. We're a bit concerned when we realize that someone is stealing from us. Our thoughts turn to the usual suspect - Hezzrak. We lure him out of invisibility with a game of chess, but we quickly become convinced that he's not the one behind the thefts. Sarek cleverly convinces him to help us find the culprit.

The next day, it's back to business as usual as we're tasked with cataloging the remains found in the newly discovered crypt. We toil for days and produce a accurate and beautifully detailed record of the entire area. Around this time, Sarek receives a Sending from Lazare:

"A friend, Jakardos, may have insight that can aid you in solving the mysteries of 31E37 and the Cairn. Go to Blackwall Keep."

We relay this message to Mossad. He thinks Blackwall Keep is a perfect destination - a potentially dangerous journey, but remote enough so that the trip there and back will give things time to calm down in Istivin. He tells us he'll look into this possibility.

A few days later, Mossad approaches us with a plan! Blackwall Keep is on the frontier of orc and goblin country. Because of this, detail on the Keep is dangerous and maintaining a sufficient garrison is always a concern. In fact, garrisoning Blackwall Keep is so dangerous, violent, convicted criminals are frequently offered the option to serve at Blackwall instead of going to prison - if they are still alive at the end of a two-year tour of duty, they are freed. Some choose to stay on at Blackwall and become part of the elite group of rangers which manage and run the Keep. It happens that a group of such criminals is to be dispatched to Blakcwall Keep presently, and Mossad has arranged that we are to be their escort.

Additionally, it would seem that Tamclar, who has been studying in the Temple, is running into some difficulty. Mossad has observed that our favorite dwarf seems to be struggling to balance Our Lady's tenets with the deep-seated cultural and ideological ways of his people. Noting that Tamclar is the type that prefers deeds over words, Mossad suggests that he shoud take a break from his scholastic endeavors and accompany us on our journey to the Keep. Perhaps he can find his way more easily in a forest than in a library...

We set off the next day, with Tamclar and our company of criminal scum. They're unarmed and shackled together, but there are about 50 of them. About half an hour outside of town they make their first attempt at a mutiny. Fortunately, we're able to intimidate them into submission - for now. This will no doubt prove to be an interesting journey. I lead us through the woods and we find a place to camp for the night. Just after dinner, Zolara appears to us and offers us a reading:

The Choosing:

Sarek: the Midwife
Haroldur: the Owl
Nineve: the Mute Hag
Ashe: the Queen Mother

The Spread:

The Foreign Trader-----The Dance-----The Unicorn
The Eclipse-------------The Forge------The Keep
The Joke---------------The Midwife----The Winged Serpent


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Episode 11: 9/20/08

The Party:

Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-2
Haroldur, human cleric/4
Nineve Floret, human knight/4
Sarek, human wizard/4

We proceed down the stairs after Vander Anderhoff. Just as we're leaving, we hear armed men running to the front of the building. Captain Tevlis of the city guard, accompanied by two of his men, bursts through the door. He demands we cease and desist. We try to convince him that his goals and ours are not mutually exclusive. He concedes, but insists on accompanying and keeping an eye on us while we investigate the slaughterhouse.

We decend down the stairs and Vander is waiting for us in ambush! We rush into combat. As Nineve and I flank Vander, a vision of The Twin appears to me, and I gain a mirror image! Haroldur and Sarek take on Vander's burlier, angrier brother, Parn. Nineve eventually convinces Vander to surrender to her. Haroldur finds himself in a bad spot and flees across the slaughterhouse... only to run into another of Vander's barbarian brothers, Torkan! The cleric whittles him down eventually. In the meantime, the city guards turn on us and their erstwhile leader! Captain Tevlis, totally caught off guard, gets stabbed in the back by his own men and goes down. The guards are dealt with. Sarek also falls, but I manage to navigate the treacherous gauntlet of chutes, platforms and machinery, making it across the slaughterhouse floor just in time to save the wizard from certain doom. As the battle wraps up, we stabilize the three unconcious Sawfish brothers, time them up, and hang them by their bounds from the hook line in the ceiling. Then, we proceed deeper into the slaughterhouse in search of Lord Ondore's missing body.

As we're exploring the warrens of the slaughterhouse, we stumble upon an ogre, who attacks! He catches me on his hook, but fortunately, Nineve disarms him of his weapon before he has a chance to drop me into the mysterious vat of bubbling slime he's presiding over. As Nineve and I are battling the ogre, another stealthy Sawfish brother, Kinto, sneaks up behind Haroldur and Sarek! Nineve and I finish off the ogre and turn our attentions to the last Sawfish boy. We quickly subdue him and tie him up with his brothers.

At last, we enter a room obviously used for illegal necromancy and other foul-smelling evils. Disturbingly, the walls of this chamber are lined with familiar-looking cylinders - acid zombies! We've all been through this drill before, so rather than waiting for them to burst out and attack, I pop the cylinders from afar with my bow, and surprisingly, the zombies slump lifelessly to the floor.

Throughout, I can hear frantic chanting in an ajacent room, followed by some panicked-sounding but fluent cursing. Something must be going poorly... Suddenly, our old friend Filge the Necromancer bursts into the room. He must've heard our approach because he doesn't seem particularly surprised to see us. He animates the zombies with his familiar "Arise, my beautiful monstrosities!" line. Then he runs away like a little girl.

The battle is joined. We mow through the zombies and chase after Filge. We burst through a door farther down the hallway and find him - with some friends. Filge and a closely hooded female seem to be arguing over the shambling, reanimated corpse of what used to be Lord Ondore. Two acid zombies, massive skeletal monstrousity, and two cultists (from the shadows!) attack us. In what is becoming a disturbing trend, Filge uses foul magics to escape our wrath. The female and Lord "Shambles" Ondore escape up a concealed elevator of some sort while we are locked in a battle royale with the rear guard. Between Filge's pets, the cultists, and Haroldur's uncontrolled spider swarm, it's a tough fight, but we somehow manage to stay up and put them all down.


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