Die in Battle, Do Us Proud

Session 1: The Ruined Mansion

A band of adventurers came together in a tavern in the city-state of Kaladon. They were:

An aging elf called Perrin Featherly approached them. He told them how, centuries before humans came to the region, the Shriekwood elves had fought a war against a sorcerer called The Wizard with the Silver Face. In battle, the wizard struck down the Elfqueen and took from her body the Oakleaf Crown, a symbol of power of her people. Shortly thereafter, he disappeared without warning, and neither he nor the crown were ever seen again.

Perrin then explained that he believed he had discovered the location of the mansion of the Wizard with the Silver Face. He wished to hire the adventurers to venture into the Shriekwood to where he believed the mansion’s ruins stood and, if it could be found, to retrieve the Oakleaf Crown. They agreed to perform this task for 100 gold pieces, with a 50% advance.

With henchmen and hirelings in tow, the adventurers set out to the Shriekwood, following the directions that Featherly had given them. They reached the ruined mansion by noon. Initial explorations revealed it to be the home of a harpy, a tribe of goblins, and various other monsters. They also discovered signs that a third party was inside the ruins, killing goblins with a sling.

A puddle of living acid dissolved Ethore. Goblin warriors slaughtered all but one of the party’s employees and rendered Clode Cavernesse unconscious. The adventurers crept back the way they came and returned to Kaladon to recuperate and reassess.

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Session 2: A Fire in the Night

The adventurers returned to Kaladon, lugging an unconscious Clode Cavernesse with them. They passed through an elf camp and arrived at the city’s East gate, where a pair of black-armored guards stopped them. The guards considered not allowing the party into the city for fear that Clode might be carrying some sort of disease. A bribe of 15 silver pieces enticed them to reconsider their diagnosis.

They returned to the Copper Cask, the inn where they were first hired. There, they met Narder Maley, the innkeeper, and Fenryl Two-Blades, his dwarf bouncer, whom they soon learned had no tongue. They also made the acquaintance of a pair of adventurers, Noid and Brick, who had recently accompanied a merchant caravan to the city from the South. After some drinks and some haggling, the two were invited to join the party.

The next morning, once Clode had recovered from his injuries, they set out into the city in search of supplies and information. Shoshanna went to the Church of the Keeper and met with the Mother Superior. The holy woman knew little of either the Wizard with the Silver Face or the Oakleaf Crown beyond the fact that they were both bits of elven folklore. She castigated Shoshanna for choosing the life of an adventurer, when, as a member of the clergy, she should have devoted her life to seclusion and study in a proper temple. Call it a difference of opinion.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party headed to New Stonehome, the dwarf district, to equip Fenton, recently (possibly accidentally) promoted from hireling to full partner. From a dirty, impoverished dwarf, Clode purchased a map that allegedly led to the lost entrance to Stonehome, where he claimed all the treasures of the dwarves were buried. A few questions later, the party learned the story of Stonehome:

Stonehome was a dwarven metropolis that existed long before humans came to the region and Kaladon was built. Thirty years ago, a terrible earthquake leveled Stonehome and killed thousands upon thousands of dwarves. The great gates collapsed, and the mountains swallowed the city. The survivors fled to Kaladon for sanctuary, and were given the ghetto of New Stonehome as a place to start over.

Sufficiently exposited, the party returned to the Copper Cask. Choice hired an axe-fighter called Thura as his henchman.

That night, the sounds of fighting downstairs roused the party from there sleep. They crept downstairs and discovered a pair of masked figures holding Narder at swordpoint. Fenryl lay collapsed nearby, bleeding from a wound. Before anyone could act, one of the intruders slit Narder’s throat. They then fled from the building, with the adventurers in pursuit. The adventurers managed to bring one of the killers down with an arrow. The other escaped. Before they could do anything else, another masked figure stepped out of the shadows and hurled a molotov cocktail through the Copper Cask’s window, setting the building ablaze.

Thura rescued Fenryl, Clode rescued the inn’s guests, and Choice rescued his belongings.

City guards and a bucket brigade arrived. Fenryl was whisked away for medical attention. The guards requested that the party come to the Castle Keep in the morning to be interviewed about the fire. While everyone was distracted, Noid examined the corpse of the one felled attacker. He noticed details in his attire—tiny hooks on the palms of his gloves, thin padding on the soles of his boots—that hinted the dead man might might have been a thief. He also found a massive tattoo on his chest depicting hundreds upon hundreds of swords and knives all clashing together.

Morning arrived.

Rather than keep their meeting at the Castle Keep, the party headed out the East gate. They briefly spoke with an elf at the camp. They learned that though the Shriekwood elves will come to the city for trade and diplomacy, they prefer not to sleep indoors, and so they maintain a constant camp outside the gates. This elf scoffed at the idea that the Wizard with the Silver Face might be a real person, or that the Oakleaf Crown could ever be found; both, she laughed, were fairy tales.

After a brief hike through the Shriekwood, the adventurers arrived once again at the ruined mansion. Arranged in an arc around the front door, there now stood several wooden stakes mounted with severed heads. A pair of goblins guarded the door. The party managed to kill one of the guards, but the other ducked inside before they could stop him. Rather than follow, they elected to climb the trees at the edge of the clearing and wait to see what happened next.

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Session 3: After Dark

The adventurers abandoned their spots in the trees and returned to Kaladon. At the Castle Keep, they met with Herred Guy, Captain of the Black Dragons, who asked several questions about last night’s fire at The Copper Cask. He then recommended an expensive hotel near the Castle Keep and sent them on their way.

As they made their way towards The King’s Blade, Brick was approached by a flower vendor who insisted that he had dropped something as he walked. The slip of paper she pressed into his hand contained an address and the message, “After Dark.”

Shoshanna secured rooms at The King’s Blade while the rest of the party went to visit the abandoned temple in Temple Square. It was a large, stone structure, entirely boarded up, with all identifying markings and religious iconography removed. They decided that the place’s significance could most easily be identified by Shoshanna, and so they returned to the hotel for the night.

They awoke before dawn. Junior purchased a city map from the hotel’s night clerk, and they set off for The Cuts, the city’s worst slum. At the noted address, they encountered Fenryl Two-Blades, a large, bald man, and a dozen-or-so armed thugs. The bald man refused to give his name, but identified himself as a local businessman, and a friend and colleague of both Fenryl and the late Nader Maley. He expressed his gratitude for the adventurers’ having saved both Fenryl’s life and the lives of the many guests at The Copper Cask. As a token of his appreciation, he offered them a single wooden coin marked with three connected rings, which he identified as his “marker.” He explained that it could be exchanged at the flower stall on Castle Hill for one favor. “Anything within my power,” he said. He refused to elaborate on exactly what that entailed, but he hinted that it was not slight.

At first, he was reluctant to tell the adventurers much about what had happened the night before. When pressed, he told them that the men who had burned down The Copper Cask belonged to an organization called The New Blades, a group with nefarious goals and an utter lack of scruples when it came to achieving them.

As dawn broke over the city, the adventurers bid adieu to the bald man, and set out of the city’s eastern gate, into the Shriekwood, and to the Mansion of the Silver-Faced Wizard. Along the way, Shoshanna told the story of the God-Emperor of Nol, whose abandoned temple now stands boarded up in Kaladon’s Temple Square:

For centuries, the Empire of Nol was ruled by living deity called The God-Emperor and governed by his priests. Practice of any other religion was prohibited, and the Priests of Nol waged constant war with nations and kingdoms that did not recognize the God-Emperor’s divinity. Sixty years ago, the God-Emperor was assassinated, and Nol erupted in civil war. The former Empire lays fractured now. In many of its former territories, worship of the God-Emperor is banned outright.

Rather than a repeated attempt at a direct approach, they opted to climb up onto the mansion’s balcony and gain access that way. On the second floor, they found a room that contained a single door and a statue of a knight. Brick, suspecting a trap, rigged a rope around the door handle and urged everyone to step aside. Choice was skeptical. He commanded Thura to open the door herself, and, ever-helpful, she complied.

So she died.

There was no time to mourn her passing. The group descended to the now-familiar first-floor of the mansion, where they dispatched a pair of goblin guards, and then to the basement. They discovered a secret passage, but opted to not explore it yet. Instead, they entered a room that contained three more goblins, one of whom wore several bits of jewelry and a crown, as well as a massive pile of coins. The other two goblins surrendered once the one in the crown was decapitated. The adventurers bound their prisoners and filled their packs with loot.

Choice examined the goblin’s crown, and declared it to be of elven-make.

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Session 4: Grinding Meat

After some discussion about how to handle the two captured goblins, it was decided that Fenton would lead them out into the forest and set them free. We can only assume that that’s exactly what he did.

Crown in hand, the adventurers returned to Kaladon. By the time they reached the city, the sun had set and the gate was closed, They set up camp near the edge of the woods so as to not be too near the elven encampment. The next morning, the gate opened and the adventurers followed a lumber cart into the city.

They headed to the address that Perrin Featherly had given them: a third-floor apartment in the Castle View district. There, they were admitted by his human wife, Mara Featherly. They sat down with Perrin. He told them how grateful he was to see them, especially after having learned that The Copper Cask had burned down. When the adventurers offered him the crown they had discovered, his disappointment was apparent. It was not the crown he was looking for. He thanked the group for the efforts and told them they were welcome to keep the advance, but he seemed to feel that their business together was concluded. They were not to be so easily dissuaded, and they offered to further explore the ruined mansion, in case there was anything they had missed. After some questioning, Perrin explained his interest in the Oakleaf Crown.

Perrin is actually the uncle of the current Elfking of the Shriekwood, a post elected by the heads of the eight elven tribes of the Shriekwood. From the time of the founding of the city-state, Perrin served as the elven ambassador to Kaladon. However, twenty years ago, when he fell in love with and married a human woman, the Elfking banished him from Oakleaf Tower and stripped him of his title. Perrin hopes that if he recovers the Oakleaf Crown, his people’s ancient symbol of power, he will regain his lost honor and be reinstated as ambassador.

Because of the Elfking’s repeated concessions to the Kaladonians regarding lumber rites in the Shriekwood, many of the Shriekwood elves are growing dissatisfied with their liege. Perrin fears that the situation is headed quickly towards a boiling point, and believes that his expertise is needed in order to ease tensions.

After two days of rest and shopping, the adventurers once again left Kaladon. On their way out of the city, they were accosted by three elves, who demanded to know their business with Perrin, whom they called “The Outcast.” They were satisfied (and even a little impressed) by Fenton’s claim that they were goblin hunters, and that Perrin Featherly was their patron.

Back in the Mansion of the Silver-Faced Wizard, they followed a secret passage to a room that contained a pool of clear liquid, at the bottom of which rested a single red gem. Experimentation revealed the liquid to be a powerful acid. Fenton and Noid constructed a spatula-shaped tool from some dislodged stone, and used it to scoop the gem from the pool.

Further exploration led them to a decrepit, abandoned office. In an old desk on the verge of collapse, Shoshana discoversed a wrought-iron key and an old letter. It told of a library hidden in the caves beneath Littlefang Mountain, and of a ritual to summon something called “The Elfsbane,” a creature the letter’s author cautioned was not to be trusted.

The adventurers came to a door upon which a message was carved in Goblin. Since no one could read Goblin, Noid opened the door, stepped through into the hallway beyond…and vanished, with a yelp. Bracing himself in the doorway, Brick leaned his head in. He found himself not in a hallway at all, but at the top of a deep shaft. At the bottom were several sharp metal spikes. The spikes impaled the skeletons of several goblins, and also, sadly, the corpse of Noid. He stared up at Brick with a look of utter shock on his frozen face.

They pressed on. Shoshanna’s key opened a door to a room with a large domed ceiling. Every inch of the wall was covered with skulls, running from the floor all the way up to the dome’s apex. The flickering of the torch caught a metal glint all the way up at the top. A large stone hand rested in the center of the floor. A human-like mouth was carved into its palm. Shoshanna took a seat on the hand, and the mouth immediately animated.

“Greetings, Master,” it said.

It explained that it can lift her up to the top of the dome, but that first she must answer one question: “What secret is hidden by the Silver Mask?”

“Human?” she guessed.

The hand squeezed shut, bursting Shoshanna like a jelly packet. When it reopened, the mouth was no longer animate. Fenton used his sword to fish through the pulverized bone and flesh to retrieve his comrade’s valuables.

With half their party gone, Fenton and Brick decided to return to the city.

They stopped for a drink to plot their next move and to recover from the day’s horrors. Across the room, Brick spotted a familiar face: Expertise, an old nemesis from his school days. She had recently arrived in Kaladon with her ex-husband and adventuring companion, the dwarf Farley, in search of work. After some tense, almost hostile negotiations, Brick and Fenton offered Expertise and Farley positions in the party. The next day, the four of them set out once again for the Mansion of the Silver-Faced Wizard.

This time, they descended into the caverns beneath the mansion’s basement. They discovered a flock of strange birds with mosquito probosces instead of beaks, and drove them off with arrows. In the center of the cavern floor, someone had painted a pentagram and several strange runes, and surrounded the whole thing with candles. Nearby lay a skeleton wearing ragged white robes and a silver plague mask. Fenton took the mask and noted that the skull that it covered was that of an elf.

One tunnel led to a pool bubbling with glowing blue liquid. Fenton filled a waterskin. Another tunnel led to a small chamber. A creature perched upon a ledge above them. It was enormous, ten feet tall at least, and though humanoid, had the skin and face of a salamander. An extra pair of arms hung off its torso, and a stripe of white hair ran from the top of its head all the way down its back. When they entered the chamber, the creature stared ahead, its eyes milky and blank, and gave no sign of having noticed of the visitors.

The adventurers began to back out of the room, but they didn’t make it far before Fenton fired an arrow at the creature. He missed, but it woke up anyway. Farley launched an arrow as well, and his found its mark. In return, the creature beat him to death. It turned its attentions to Fenton and Brick (Expertise had ducked back into the tunnel), but they managed to cleave it in half.

The survivors left the mansion.

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Session 5 - The Ones Who Wait and Watch

One morning, the dwarf Marley awoke to find a note left for him by his twin brother Farley, in which he explained that he and his ex-wife Expertise had decided to journey to the City-State of Kaladon to become adventurers. Suspecting that the whole thing was a plot to get out of a fifty-gold-piece debt, Marley set out in pursuit. Once he arrived in Kaladon, it took him about a day of asking around to be directed to the King’s Blade Hotel, where the two were said to be staying.

That same day, the party was visited by Captain Herrod Guy of the Black Dragons. He showed them a letter he’d received from one Balthazar Trenton of House Trenton Mining. In it, Balthazar wrote that one of their new mines had been subject to several raids over the past few weeks. People had been abducted and killed, and equipment had been damaged. Recently, one of the attackers had been killed; the body appeared to be that of an orc. Balthazar wished for the Black Dragons to be sent out to protect the camp. Because of the ongoing war between the Thieves Guild and the New Blades, the Black Dragons were already stretched to the limit, and so Captain Guy needed to outsource the task. He wanted the adventurers to determine the nature of the orc threat—his primary fear was that this marked the beginning of a new horde invasion—and, if they deemed it manageable, handle it themselves. In exchange, he offered to pay 5 g.p. plus expenses, with a 250 g.p. bonus if they could deal with the orc threat on their own. The party agreed.

As Captain Guy was on his way out, Marley was on his way in. Expertise informed him of his brother’s death, and did her best to console him. She needn’t have bothered. His primary concern, it turned out, was that he might never get his 50 g.p. back. For some reason, this endeared him to the rest of the party, and they offered him a spot on the team.

They booked passage on a boat headed up the Black River, and in an hour, they were off. On the way up, Choice sidled up to Expertise with some kind words and fruit, but she wasn’t having it. They arrived at the Trenton Mining Camp at noon. Expertise chose this moment to scatter her ex-husband’s ashes while singing a mournful dirge. It would have been rather touching had laborers not been unloading cargo right next to her.

The party met Balthazar Trenton, who was at first furious that his request for Black Dragons and Knights of Kaladon had been answered with freelance adventurers, but they managed to talk him down. He showed them the body of the creature they had killed, a grey-green-skinned, pig-faced humanoid. It corresponded pretty closely with descriptions of orcs that they’d heard. He told them a little more about the situation: the raids had begun three weeks ago, when they’d begun construction of a new tunnel. They always happened at night, and until recently, they’d had no idea who their attackers were. Four days ago, a miner had manage to strike one of them down with a pickaxe. Upon realizing what they were dealing with, Balthazar had halted all work at all the mines and called everyone back to the camp. The halted labor was costing him a fortune, and he was eager to resume work, but the prospect of an orc horde lurking just behind the next mountain was too terrifying. Further questioning resulted in a history lesson:

Before there was the City-State of Kaladon, there was Fort Kaladon, the northernmost outpost of the Knights of the God-Emperor. A century ago, an orc horde—called by historians and bards “The Hated Horde”—came over the Greyfang Mountains from the Great Desolation, intent upon invasion, slaughter, and whatever the hell else it is that orcs enjoy. An alliance was formed between the Dwarves of Stonehome, the Shriekwood Elves, and the Knights of the God-Emperor, and the Black River Treaty was signed. The three united armies were able to drive the Hated Horde back over the mountains. Not a single orc has been seen since…until now.

The signing of the treaty resulted in trade opening up, and suddenly Fort Kaladon became an important commercial center. A city sprung up around it. Fifty years ago, when the God-Emperor was assassinated and the Empire of Nol collapsed, Kaladon declared itself an independent city-state, which it remains to this day.

Thirty years ago, when an earthquake leveled the city of Stonehome and the dwarves sought refuge in Kaladon, they were granted it on the condition that they turn mining rights in the Greyfang Mountains over to the humans. House Trenton Mining now owns almost all those rights.

Balthazar introduced the party to Whispers Trent (no relation), leader of the Storm Company, a band of mercenaries tasked with guarding the mining camp. She had no interest in engaging with orcs, and was relieved that the adventurers were there so that no one would ask her to. She agreed to bring them out to the new mine that’s been causing so much trouble in the morning.

That night, the many, many dwarf miners at the camp got drunk. Junior and Expertise tried striking up conversations. The dwarves weren’t particularly chatty, but they did discover that at least some of the dwarves were bitter over the fact that they were now mining what they saw as their mountains for someone else’s profit.

Morning came, and they set out for the camp. At noon, they came across an enormous, three-headed, winged creature splashing in a creek. Whispers identified it as a chimera. Fenton managed to stay his bow, and they moved on.

When they reached the new tunnel—construction had only begun, and it was still quite shallow—they decided to set an ambush for the orcs, with Junior and Fenton acting as bait. The rest of the party arranged themselves nearby. Whispers found a nearby ledge, asked not to be disturbed, and went to sleep. Everyone else watched and waited. After a few hours, they heard the sound of the beating of giant wings. Fenton emerged from his hiding place and fired an arrow into the night sky. In a moment, everyone saw what he missed: a giant bird of prey, quite unhappy at being fired upon. It plunged towards them. Thinking quickly, Brick doused their campfire with a blanket. Unable to see them, the bird perched on a nearby rock for a while, and then left. As soon as it was out of sight, Expertise went at Fenton, weapons drawn. He survived, and so didn’t seem to take it personally. Eventually, everyone managed to calm down.

Whispers, awake, offered the party some advice: “The best thing is getting paid not to fight. The worst thing is fighting without getting paid.” Then she went back to sleep. Everyone else followed suit, except Choice, who kept watch. Some time later, he heard the sound of footsteps approaching. He woke the rest of the party, and they armed themselves.

Four figures in monkish robes emerged from the night. Marley spoke to them in orc, and they spoke right back in the same language. Choice bewitched one with a Charm spell, and they had a brief conversation.

“We are the ones who wait and watch,” it said. “When the nations of mankind grow weak, we will send fire into the sky, calling forth the Horde.”

It believed that that time was drawing near: the dwarves had lost their city, and the elves were bickering among themselves. One of the orc’s companions demanded to know why they’re wasting time talking when they should have been killing, and got a mace in his face for the trouble. So it was fighting time. The two non-Charmed orcs were defeated. The one still under Choice’s spell marveled at the party’s strength. Fenton chose that moment to show just how strong they were. Before anyone could stop him, he cleaved its leg from its torso. It bled to death.

Arguments ensued.

Examining the bodies, Marley found that each wore a clasp engraved with the image of hundreds of faces—human, orc, demon, miscellaneous—all pressed up against each other, all screaming. None of them recognized it.

When the sun came up, Whispers bid adieu and set off down the trail. The party followed the tracks of the orcs they had killed back to their source. After a couple hours, they came upon a doorway dug into the base of a cliff. Around the doorway were carved more screaming faces, much like the ones on the orcs’ clasps. Some discussion was given to whether the cave should be entered, but the party ultimately decided against it. They agreed that they had enough information to report to Captain Guy, so they traveled back to the Trenton Mining Camp. On the way, the encountered another group of the robed orcs, whom they managed to defeat without too much trouble.

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Session 6: The Life and Death of the Candlemaker's Apprentice

For weeks, a wandering chandler and his apprentice had been traveling through the Greyfang foothills, selling their wares in the remote farms and hamlets that dot the region. One night, while camped upon a hilltop, they were attacked by a group of unseen assailants. The master chandler commanded his apprentice, Beezus, to flee. She ran off into the night. When she returned to the camp the next morning, little remained, and there was no sign of her master.

Meanwhile, our party of adventurers returned to the Trenton Mining Camp. They told Balthazar that many orcs lurked in the hills and mountains around the camp. He decided that the time had come to abandon the camp, regardless of the loss in profits. He told the adventurers that they were welcome to stay at the camp as long as they liked, but that he did not consider himself or his company responsible for their well-being. He hoped to have his employees on the road in two days.

That afternoon, Beezus came out of the hills into the camp. She briefly met with Balthazar—he was not interested in buying her candles, and had not seen her missing master—who told her that she might wish to talk with the adventuring party camped at his doorstep. The adventurers invited her to accompany them back to Kaladon, where her master, if he lived, might eventually turn up.

Fenton went around asking Storm Company mercenaries if they wanted to sell him their weapons. They did not. Junior tried to recruit Whispers Trent and some miners to join their party, but no one was interested.

The next morning arrived with a thunderous hailstorm. The party set out anyway. After a few hours of trudging through the downpour, they wandered into the middle of a band of armed men whose faces were obscured by the weather. Interrogation was brief, but the men ultimately left them alone.

On the third day of travel, they came out of the hills and into a stretch of grassy plains. There, they encountered a group of humanoid creatures. Their faces were like goblins, but they were as tall as men, and covered in course fur. Attempts at parlay were brief, and violence erupted. Choice bewitched one of them and set it against its comrades. Eventually, all were dispatched, but not before both Fenton and Beezus fell to their spears and claws.

The survivors found little of value on the creatures’ corpses, save a single note, written in Goblin:

    To the Priests of the Blood-Thousand,
    The Elven civil war has begun. It is time to light the signal and summon the Horde.
    —The Bonechewer

Entering Kaladon, the party noticed that the Elven encampment at the East Gate was gone. They proceeded directly to the Castle Keep and related their experiences to Captain Herrod Guy. Their tales of orc priests disturbed him, but not nearly so much as the note they’d retrieved. He thanked them for their service, paid them their fee, and bid them adieu. If a Horde invasion was imminent, as it seemed, he had to speak with the Mayor-King (a task that he seemed to dread) and with the Knights of Kaladon. He would be in touch if he required further service.

Next, the adventurers went to see Perrin Featherly, whom they found with two visitors: Neptu, a priestess of the Keeper, and Alastair Finch, her bodyguard. They told a troublesome story.

Neptu was a missionary at the Oakleaf Tower, working to convert the elves from their worship of trees and butterflies and whatnot to the true faith of the Keeper. Two days ago, Analen Crookedwing, chief of the Crookedwing Clan, had called a moot at the Tower. She demanded that the Eight Chiefs of the Shriekwood vote to expel King Carufil Featherly from the Tower and instill her in his place. As a measure of her worthiness, she presented the long-lost Oakleaf Crown. Carufil was placed in shackles. Sensing a strong anti-human sentiment from the gathered elves, Neptu and Alastair took advantage of the confusion to depart.

Perrin expressed his concern for his nephew’s safety. What was more, if the adventurers’ claims of an imminent Horde invasion was to be believed, the Shriekwood Elves and Kaladon would have to stand together to drive it back, and he doubted that would be possible with someone like Analen in the Tower. He implored the adventurers’ (and offered them 100 gold) to rescue Carufil from the Oakleaf Tower, and they agreed. Neptu and Alastair offered their services as well.

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Session 7: Prisoners of the Elfqueen

Junior, Expertise, and Marley headed into the Shriekwood toward the Oakleaf Tower. When their second day of travel brought them close to the Mansion of the Silver-Faced Wizard, Junior suggested that they take a look inside; it was possible, he hypothesized, that Analen Crookedwing didn’t have the Oakleaf Crown after all, and if they could recover it themselves, it might help them in their goal of swaying the Shriekwood Elves. The party agreed to investigate the ruined mansion once again.

An incomplete map impeded their progress, and they were unable to find the room they believed held the crown. Their exploration brought them into contact with several decomposing corpses, a puddle of green slime, a pack of enormous rodents with milky eyes, and a flock of flying…something. Eventually, they abandoned their plan and proceeded on to the Oakleaf Tower.

A pair of soldiers guarded the tower. Marley, the only speaker of Elven in the party, convinced the guards to grant them an audience with Queen Analen with the proviso that they would leave their weapons behind. And so they were escorted to the throne room. (On their way in the tower’s front doors, all three noticed strange runes carved on the inside of the doorframe, though none could decipher their significance.) There, they met Analen Crookedwing, Chief of the Crookedwing Clan and Queen of the Shriekwood Elves, for the first time.

Marley told her of the orc horde they believed to be approaching. For proof, Expertise emptied her sack of orc faces. The party insisted that they were not representatives of Kaladon, but suggested that they could act as intermediaries in the brokering of some kind of truce or treaty between the elves and the city-state to mount a united defense against the orcs. Queen Analen sneered at the offer and insisted that the Shriekwood needed no assistance from the “defilers of Kaladon.” She accused the party of being spies and triggered a trap door, dropping them into a pit. She stood over them and began to work a spell. Marley gave an impassioned, indignant speech about the treatment of dwarves in Kaladon, but she was unimpressed. Her spell fired, and unconsciousness claimed all three.

They awoke some time later in dungeon cells, stripped of all their gear. There was a fourth captive with them, a goblin who identified himself as The Bonechewer. He told them (rather happily) that he was a spy working for the Priests of the Blood-Thousand, and that soon the orc horde would come, slaughtering the elves and setting him free. When they pointed out to him that it could take a long time for them to get there, he agreed to assist in their plan for escape.

Marley fashioned a grappling hook with shreds of their clothing and the hook from his shit-bucket, and used it to snare the cell key hanging on the wall outside his cell. The four jailbreakers did some preliminary exploration and found that soldiers blocked their way. They returned to their cells, taking care that they remained unlocked, and then called for a guard. When he came, The Bonechewer sprang out and ripped out his throat, but received a fatal sword wound in the process. The three survivors looted the guard’s body, and then crept along until they came to a guard room. They sprang in and immediately killed one of the two elves inside. The second one booked for the exit. Expertise tried to block his way, but he ran her through. Marley and Junior followed him out into the daylight and found themselves outside Oakleaf Tower.

Rather than follow the fleeing guard as he ran to the tower’s front entrance, they headed for the treeline and vanished into the Shriekwood.

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Session 8: Alastair Stands His Ground

Elves pursued Marley through the night, but he eventually made it back to Kaladon. In the common room at the King’s Blade, he met up with Neptu and Alastair Finch, and told them of his ill-fated journey to the Oakleaf Tower. Neptu helped him reequip himself (all of his possessions were taken by the elves). They checked in with Captain Herrod Guy, who let them know he was still working on convincing the City Council of the Horde threat. His two biggest concerns were that the Knights of Kaladon were woefully unprepared for war, and that the Minister of the Treasury was itching for an excuse to wipe out the Shriekwood Elves and claim the forest (and all lumber therein) for the city.

The next morning, they set out into the Shriekwood.

Neptu brought them to the camp of the Skyclimber Clan near the forest’s northern border. They found the camp nearly deserted, with only children and the elderly present. At first they were refused entry into the camp—Queen Analen had forbidden contact with outsiders—but Neptu was able to make contact with an old friend of hers: Savian Skyclimber, one of the clan’s elders. He agreed to meet with them under cover of darkness.

He confirmed what they knew of the deposing of King Carufil and the crowning of Queen Analen. Analen, he explained, sought to execute Carufil, but could not do so without the approval of the Eight Clans. The clans had gathered to discuss and vote upon this issue (that’s where everyone was), a process which he expected to take a full week. He confided his suspicion that Analen sought to to go to war with Kaladon, and that the execution of Carufil would be the act that inspired them. He believed that although not all the clans wanted war, none would violate law and tradition by going against the queen. Neptu asked for the location of this meeting, but Savian refused. “It is forbidden,” he said.

The party spent the next two days seeking other elves in the Shriekwood, but found none. When their supplies ran out, they returned to Kaladon.

They met with the Mother Superior at the Church of the Keeper and asked for an introduction to members of the City Council. She told them that she was a close personal friend of Minister of the Treasury Ithelm Rookhill. She agreed to meet with him on the party’s behalf.

They killed a day around the city.

That night, the Mother Superior visited the party, along with Ithelm Rookhill and Knight Commander Reynard Lott. Ithelm informed them that, true to his word, Captain Herrod Guy had warned the City Council about the orcs in the Greyfang Mountains. The Council was concerned about the prospect of committing to a military action in the mountains when the elves in the Shriekwood were posing such a threat, especially when they’d yet to see any proof that the orcs were in fact part of an invading force, and not just a lost tribe or raiding party.

He wanted the party to return to the cave they’d discovered in the Greyfang Mountains and thoroughly scout it. He wanted to know exactly how many orcs their were, what kind of equipment they possessed, what capabilities they had, and what their intentions were. He was willing to pay 100 gold apiece, provided they were able to accomplish it within the week. In addition, he could cover 100 gold worth of expenses (for travel, equipment, etc.).

The party agreed. In the morning, they bought horses and provisions and headed out of the city.

They arrived at the cave in the afternoon (after a nervous encounter with a giant flying something) and found a hiding spot from which they could observe its entrance. They watched it through the night and saw no activity. The next morning, they went in…

…and were promptly attacked by three orcs in dark cloaks. Marley got his brains rattled, but in the end they were able to kill one of their assailants and drive the other two off. Neptu advocated heading in the opposite direction, but Alastair wanted to give chase, so deeper into the caves they went.

Before long, they caught up with the two orcs, along with eight of their buddies. Alastair faced off against them to give his companions time to escape. The orcs crowded around him, hacking at him with curved daggers. He succumbed to their weight and collapsed onto a staircase, but kept fighting. On his back, he managed to swing his sword with enough force and precision that he cut one of them clean in half. This display of strength and skill was too much for the rest of the orcs, who retreated the way they came.

While this was going on, Neptu did some quick exploration. She discovered

  • a 15’ statue of a humanoid creature composed entirely of screaming faces
  • an altar
  • a mural depicting a beam of light shooting out of the roof of this cave high into the sky, and thousands of orcs and other beasties charging into battle.

The party reconvened outside the cave and decided to head back to the city.

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Session 9: The Amber Spotlight

Neptu, Alastair, and Marley rode hard back to Kaladon and rejoined their companions in the common room at the King’s Blade Hotel. As they described the past week’s adventures and misadventures, they were approached by a priestess and chronic eavesdropper called Chlamydia. She had opinions about the adventurers’ various quests, as well as a desire to enlist. The party is more or less a meat grinder at this point, and fresh meat is always needed, so they happily signed her up.

Marley needed a few days to recuperate from the injuries he suffered in the orc cave. The party used that time to get in touch with The Bald Man, their contact in the Thieves’ Guild, who owed them a favor. They asked him to use his resources to rescue King Carufil from the Oakleaf Tower, which he agreed to do. He would offer Carufil sanctuary within the city for one week, after which The Bald Man would consider his debt to the party repaid. This sounded fine for everyone.

Before leaving town, they checked in with Perrin Featherly. He was glad that steps were being taken to save his nephew’s life, though he was nervous about the consequences of seeking the aid of an organization like the Thieves’ Guild.

They chartered a boat which led them up to the Trenton Mining Camp, now abandoned. They convinced the boat’s captain to wait for them for one week, and then headed up into the mountains, where the orc temple waited.

Inside, they slaughtered many orc priests as they ventured from room to room. Eventually, they came upon a wide stone pedestal whose surface was made from an amber-like crystalline substance. A hole in the ceiling directly above it looked up into the night sky. This, they decided, must be the priests’ signalling device, and it must be destroyed. Invoking The Keeper, Neptu raised her mace high above her head and brought it down on the smooth yellow surface. It exploded in a flash of searing white light that left several members of the party temporarily blinded.

Further exploration of the temple led to the discovery of:

  • A suit of plate armor that at first appeared to be high quality, but upon further examination turned out to be made of polished tin
  • The orcs’ living quarters, empty
  • An enormous humanoid creature trapped behind bars (who they accidentally released, and then deliberately killed)
  • A wooden chest full of valuable jewelry

Pouches bulging with rings and necklaces, they crept back out into the night.

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Session 10: Littlefang

Satisfied that the destruction of the Amber Spotlight constituted an end to the orc threat in the Greyfang Mountains, Minister Ithelm Rookhill paid the party their promised 100 gold apiece, and the Trenton Mining Company sent men out to reestablish their camp in the foothills.

Carufil Featherly was liberated from the Oakleaf Tower by the Thieves’ Guild and returned to the city. He stayed in the safe house for a few days, and then went to live with his uncle, Perrin Featherly.

The party spent a week selling their loot, resupplying themselves, and healing up. Then they went to meet the former king of the elves. When they arrived, he was engaged in a fierce debate with Perrin, a debate which the adventurers were invited to weigh in on. Carufil wished to take control of the Featherly Clan and go to war against Analen Crookedwing and the Oakleaf Tower in an attempt to regain his throne. Perrin felt that because Carufil had been deposed legally, it made more sense for him to accept his new lot in life, and that peace between Kaladon and the elves should be achieved through diplomatic means. The adventurers agreed with Perrin, at least for the time being. This appeared to bum the hell out of the would-be king.

With no pressing business for the first time in a while, the party decided to seek out the secret library they’d heard about on Littlefang Mountain. After a morning of exploring the mountain’s forest, they happened upon a cave with some strange footprints around the mouth, and decided to venture inside. In the caves, they found:

  • A less-than-stable rope bridge
  • A small, deep hole in the wall, its sides covered with some sort of reddish fungus
  • A skeleton covered with red mushrooms that burst into clouds of spores when disturbed
  • A pile of bones at the bottom of a chimney
  • A corpse, a week dead, who carried a corn-cob pipe and a sheet of paper with the following text underlined: By breathing deep of the purple smoke, The Deer Wizard was able to enter the spaces between the worlds.
  • Some enormous rats
  • A huge spider
  • A small band of troglodytes, who kept an enormous stash of treasure in their lair, including three items of special note: a sword engraved with an image of a person burning at the stake, a battle-ax etched with dwarf symbols of royalty, and a pair of gauntlets, each with an ogre’s face drawn upon it.

Packs heavy with loot, the party headed back down the mountain into the city. While Brick and Marley turned in early after the exhausting day, Junior, Alastair Finch, and Chlamydia decided it was time to hit the clubs.

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