January 9, 2014 Meeting Summary – by J Le
“The further north you go from the hub of small cities and towns of Venir, the wilder and nastier things get. If you care for your lives, step not a foot north of Junction.” – Pop the elder, speaking to a group of druids in training (10 years After)
We head north. This time, on a mission from god… or perhaps a titan or some demon acting on a titan’s behalf. It’s even one step further back than that – we’re heading to Crystal Falls to get an old book for a Charduni librarian, who will then give us more information about how to get the orb for some shadowy ne’er-do-well called the Queen of Shadows, who will kill our dear Shadownspawn if we don’t. And who will probably re-raise the Devourer and destroy the world if we do. Damned orb of Shadowspawn’s is going to get us one way or another. Of course, Janella probably blames Tellius.
But to be honest, this is the kind of shit I really like, anyway. What else would we be doing if we weren’t out here trying to unravel plots and save the world from doom? Darning socks? Milking geese? Stirring soup? I don’t know what everyone else does, but this life on the edge of the blade is definitely for me.
Which brings us to the accursed Fort Jamal again. Janella has a feeling that we left some stones unturned inside those walls, but Serpy’s feathered friend, Sam, does a scouting report only to come back all agitated again. Looks like FJ is still under zombie rule, and none of us is too eager to trade left hooks with those rotting sacks of meat and claws anytime soon if we don’t have to. Plus, I’m still visited nightly by images of those hell-spawned creatures climbing down the castle wall head first and don’t need more dream fodder for my unconscious to use against me. We promise to revisit it on our way back.
“Of all the godsforsaken lands in this wide world of ours, the North has to be the … the.. godsforsakenest. Stay away from the North at all costs!” Rickolo the ranger, to his son, Chickolo, a ranger in training.
We continue north. En route, Shadowspawn regales us with some lore of Crystal Falls. According to legend, the titan Khadune was fighting a god in this area and the tip of the indescribably-huge titan’s sword brushed down against the town. It was the merest of ticks, but it cut a swath through the town and essentially decimated it. Titanspawn flooded in to finish the wreckage that Khadune had started, and Crystal Falls fell into ruin. CF had once been a place of fame, beauty, and architectural reknown before its collapse, stunningly situated on the edge of a couple of waterfalls. It was also well known for its impenetrable keep. This was the work of a group of mages in the service of a great Charduni dwarf leader, and it is this keep that we are heading toward to find a priceless Charduni tome for the aforementioned librarian. What could go wrong?
Two hours from our destination, things go a little sideways. We catch sight of a large murder of rat-beasts called slitheren on the road to our left. “Guys…stay low and out of sight” I whisper. Janella climbs up a tree.
Anyway, now it’s on, so the tree does seem to be a good idea, and I scramble up beside Janella. Serpy is hit with a crisis of diplomacy “Maybe we can parley with these guys. How do we know they’re hostile?” That point quickly becomes moot as the leading wave of slitheren that reach our tree get hot-fingered by Ms. Mageblood and toxically poked by my blowgun/flute. Meanwhile, the other five on the ground get swarmed as they press backs against a large boulder. Serpico and Shad S-P let some arrows fly to good effect but soon it’s down to fisticuffs. Some double teaming by the verminators has Serpenthelm taking big damage (again!) and hopes are starting to wane – that is, until a rousing little battle hymm is picked up by the incomparable Ronn Tellius! +2s for everyone! Hack a +2, bleed a +2; knee a +2, strike a +2 (sung to the tune of “Have a penny, leave a penny”)! The tide begins to really turn as the sorcerer in the tree drops a big, fat ball of flame in their midst and proceeds to roll it about our tree – several flee in conflagrated panic. Roused by Ronn’s soaring tenor, all of the Wu’Jen take their game up a notch, hacking, slashing, and blowing (c’mon, the blowgun!) with aplomb. Tellius enters the “End game” phase of the match with a frighteningly intimidating bardic display – he may be known and loved for his romantic balads and drinking songs, but the Ronn can match a chest-beating silverback gorilla for ferocious posturing when he has to! The seven slain receive the finest of military burials (toss into bush), and then we switch sides of the road and continue north, stopping for the night short of Crystal Falls.
Speaking of scary gorilla types, the middle of the night finds our brave party once more under assault, this time by a huge screaming primate called a Hill Howler.
• Fraidy-cats: Jan, Serpy, Vipette, and the Ronn (wonder if he’ll write that into a song?)
• unwavering, stolid, and determined: Gwynn and Shad. We used to dat shit.
On the front lines, it’s looking pretty rough: big bites and powerful claws rip into Janella and Serpenthelm, not helping them overcome their fears. But the gods are smiling on us as the behemoth gets his feet tangled and topples! Serpenthelm’s great axe makes it pay, and my backstabbing hatchet makes it pay the ferryman.
With this many survivalists in the band, we have no problems tracking back to its lair, where we find all manner of suits of mail and barding along with a chest containing a decent haul of gold and mountains of silver. A bit of goodberry healing by yours truly helps Jan and Serpy with their wounds, and at the crack of dawn, we’re back on the road to Crystal Falls.
Finally, we reach the town. We see the tower, our destination, lying on its side in the middle of the town rubble and do our best to sneak in undetected by the hosts of slitheren we see lurking about. Using “speak with animals”, I communicate to Sam the hawk what we need it to do: fly up with my silk rope in its beak, loop it around a bar on the top of the tower and return, which he does like an Olympian! Vipette hisses in my ear, “Humphh… yeah, but can he kill a hill giant!?!” Shadowspawn and Gwynn are up the rope in a flash, but things fall apart with Ronn’s attempt – 2 falls from 10 feet have us looking for alternate approaches. While we are mulling over pulleys, levers, hoists, and Rube Goldberg devices, who should suddenly appear beside us but your friendly neighbourhood fire drake. What’s that sound? Oh, it’s the odds of our success falling screaming down a well. However, this dragon is in the mood to negotiate. It turns out that it wants to get inside the aforementioned tower as well but can’t due to its oversized ass (and other parts, like wings). We are left with an offer that is hard to refuse: bring it a magical red stone from inside the tower and we’ll be released from the town; fail to do this mission, and we’ll be released from this mortal coil. Hmmm… I guess we’re looking for a rock!!