Scarn 16 After

Escape from the fallen tower
They will send more to find you!

We find our heroes swiftly retreating as a titanic battle of draconic proportions unfolds. Thankfully our back-up plan worked and we are still alive. Unfortunately, Shadowspawn, though safely back in the shadows, has grievous drake inflicted battle wounds. This same monstrous drake is now fully engaged by the freed acid spitting black dragon giving us the extraordinary opportunity to escape its wrath. With the exception of SS, we all run towards the northwest rocky outcropping looking for protection from the battle at hand. The drake, thinking to eliminate its nemesis in a vicious frontal assault, hurls itself at the black devil, who just manages to jump out of the way at the last second. The drake slams into the cliff face setting loose a shower of fiery debris just missing Ronn and Gwinn.

Mesmerized by the battle and afraid for my life, while in an all out sprint, I misjudge my leap across the titan infested sickly stream. Phew…thankfully I only get the end of my toe wet.

The black dragon takes to the air, circles and successfully strikes the drake with a 60’ ball of electricity. The drake misses badly in its counterattack. The enraged dragon yells “slitherin get me that red stone!” The black dragon flies away towards the northwest with the drake on its tail.

We continue escaping around the rocky outcropping and keep running towards what passes as a trail in these parts. It’s no more than a narrow track cleared by the slitherin of the worst wreckage from the titan war. We draw our weapons in anticipation of a slitherin attack. Jannela, ever resourceful, sends a big 5’ ball of fire ahead and above the path to annihilate our pursuers. The dry grasses and shrubs catch fire and the ensuing inferno, growing quickly, incinerates the nearest slitherin. The black dragon unbelievably continues to be successful in its battle with the drake. Again it discharges its acid breath at the drake. Again the Drake misses its counterattack! Shadowspawn, witness to the chaos, follows us within the shadow realm. The fire-ball is spreading fast and disintegrates the trail ahead of Jannela and Ronn. The two are forced to run through a circle of flames like circus clowns performing for a crowd! Through the flames slightly crispy, Ronn and Jannela are then ambushed by javelin throwing slitherin above the trail. Thankfully their aim is as bad as their smell!

Meanwhile Gwinn and I take a casual relaxed jog towards our rendez-vous destination keeping a wide berth away from the out-of-control fireball. We take note of Slitherin clerics who seem to be following our escape away from the battle.

The twin terrors swing back towards the tower. The Drake succeeds in clawing through the thick hide of its nemessis. A horrible screech fills the air. Ronn squeezes by Jannela on the trail and heals her burns with his magical touch. Jannela uses fire breath to extinguish three rapidly approaching slitherin. They die quietly, murmuring softly – no – more like screaming in agony! The drake gets in one last shot before the black let’s loose a deadly inferno. The drake explodes, and is no more. The aftermath of the blast is like Scarn day over the Titan sea. Fireworks rain beautiful embers over the slitherin hovels…cut to more screaming.

The black dragon though badly wounded flies towards us then vanishes into another dimension. In fearful disbelief, we all hear the black monster roar “they will send more to find you”. Such a lovely cheerful thought after all we did for it!

We are left wondering who? What? When? Why? And How?

We run. Jannela obsessively tries to use her magic items but finds they are rendered inactive by the red crystal. Ronn holds it for her and Jann observes a rekindling of her powers when the thing is 40 feet away. We run all the way back to Fort Jamal, set up camp and remain vigilant overnight. In the morning, on the way to Junction, we see 2 winged reptilian humanoids called Sand Wiverine. They have the ability to make sand storms and have really nasty breath.

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We had a plan!
Yeah, I've been in the middle of a drake/dragon fight.

New table. To be named at a later date. Matic has awesome friends!.

We start our session with Janella attempting to throw magic at the red stone, and after several attempts, is able to ascertain positively that it is red. At the same time, Gwynn tries to determine the new belt’s qualities… seems it’s got something to do with divination and maybe alteration, but that its already activated.

Everyone lies down and pretends to be comatose (although Janella and Shadowspawn chat quietly between themselves) while Tellius bravely runs away to talk to the junior undead to try to get descriptions for the artifacts in the vault. He returns with some mixed news, The good…. the red stone is not a red stone, it’s a red crystal and it’s called the Dragon Crystal. It is used to capture dragons (Titan’s Teats). The bad… there is no record of the other items, so we are still a little lost on that account. Also there are wards upstairs that will go off if we try to get out. The really good… there may be an exit from the service level out onto the cliff face.

Tellius also brought back a stack of notes that we study for hours. Janella deciphers a big chunk of text that describes ancient magic techniques regarding enslavement magic against dragons.
Specifically:
- the dragon crystal is akin to dragon kryptonite, I know, I know, “what’s kryponite?”
- you channel energy through the crystal to capture
- the dwarves experimented against a black dragon before the war
- information on method – not simple, involves drawing a pentagram and then casting “hold monster” spell
- release phrase is “I RELEASE YOU FROM YOUR BONDS” in ancient dwarven, spoken in the vicinity of the crystal

We also are able to gather some information about Drakes, specifically:
- Drakes hate dragons
- Drakes commanded armies of titan spawn
- They would sometime desert their posts or deviate from their path in order to fight dragons.

After another study session, we determine that the crystal can hold one dragon and that we are unable to determine if it is loaded with a dragon.

Tellius tires of studying, for the words are often long and mutli sylabic, and convinces the group that it’s time to get moving. We are able to make it to the service level without incident and, after determining which direction we are facing, head towards the cliff face.

We meet up with Schneider, the tall, derude? demon, and he trades information for his freedom. He shows us the exit to the cliff face in exchange for us removing the belt of compulsion which has been making him clean for the last few decades. Removing that belt was an ordeal and took most of us to get it done. Shadowspawn did most of the work and became familiar with the mechanism. Schneider informs us: “I’m going home” and disappears. We ran a few tests on the belt and at one point put it on Gwynn. Tellius finds a dwarven spell in a charduni book that compells Gwynn to clean. He reports that to not clean was painful, as was trying to remove the belt. Shadowspawn is able to remove it quickly without causing further harm, but not before Tellius and Janella jump on the oportunity to have their boots shined.

So here’s the Plan:

Shadowspawn into the Shadows with schneider’s belt – will attempt to put belt on the Drake’s leg.
Janella presents stone to Drake as a distraction
Serpenthelm and Tellius flank the Drake and play music to add some pomp and circumstance to the event, with the intent of adding rousing support to those of us who need it.
Gwynn, who has obviously been studying Tellius’ fighting tactics, elects to hide along the cliff edge.
If the belt works, we walk away, giggling
If the belt doesn’t work and we are able to release a dragon, we run away, laughing
If the belt doesn’t work and there is no dragon, we fight, swearing.
It was a good plan, honestly, a really, really good plan.

We peek out and look for the Drake who is not to be found. There are two guards paying little attention. Hoping to bluff our way out, we boldly descend to ground level. Gwynn hides himself as best he can and Shadowspawn slips into the shadows.
The guards notice us and sound a gong which quickly brings the drake to us.
He (she?) immediately knows some plot is afoot. His first question is where are the missing two members of our crew, which we were ready for and explained thet they had been slain while getting the red crystal. Then he asks why we have not collected their magic items… shit, didn’t think of that.
Janella places the stone on the ground and begins making a (hopefully) distracting speech about how truely awesome the drake is and how unworthy we are to be in his presence etc.,etc.,etc. Tellius may have been much better at this.
The distraction seems to work since Shadowspawn slips out of the shadows shouting something about seeing an eye in the crystal and manages to attach the belt to the drakes leg. He slips back into the shadows quickly but not without taking a nasty bit of damage from a bite. He’s the only person I know who has taken a bite from a drake and is able to tell the tale.
Once the belt is on, Janella enacts the spell to compel cleaning, but before the spell seems to have any effect, the drake lets loose with a gout of flame that is truely horrific and burns the belt off it’s leg.
As we are all losing our eyebrows, we realise that we have either grandly overestimated our abilities, or grossly underestimated the power of our foe, or most likely both. We are well and truely up a river of excrement without an adequate method of propulsion.
Sticking to the plan, Janella releases the captured dragon from it’s bonds (God’s Balls, a dragon!) and thankfully, the drake and dragon immediately begin to battle each other.
Serpenthelm is on the far side of the battling beasts, but Janella is able to whisper to her to go east and rendezvous with us south of Crystal Falls. With Shadowspawn slipping from the shadows in a very sorry state, the rest of us follow Tellius as he runs madly southward away from the drake’s explicit threat that he will not forget what we have done.

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The Saga Continues

the adventure continues…….

The group is within the base of the shattered tower. Within the living quarter areas, there stands an iron golem and undead Chitari dwarf. The dead creature is aniated, but mummified with glowing eyes. The creature looks up and requests a report. He talks to the disguised Ronn Tellius, with phrases like ‘The creatures needs to be isolated’, gesturing to the rest of the adventurers. Janella communicates with the bard, giving him the idea to say that he’s isolated the twoer.

The creature seems to accept Ronn’s presence, asking him to do the stonework. Serpenthelm falls and whispers at Ronn’s feet. Gwynn tried to sneak out, but noticed. Roon hits Gwynn, theatrically but without force. Janella looks on in rage.

The bard continues with his bluff, and manages to obtain a key from the creature, known as Kalben.

The group, lead by the Dwarf appearing Ronn, goes to the level of the vault. In front of them stands a heavy dose, with runes on the ground. The magic users recognize the runes, that channel an ancient magic. Serpenthelm is aware of these aged markings. A false wall is also identified. The magic users also note magic of transmutation on the door and wall. The warriors take a few moments to discuss their next move, although somewhat confused.

They return to the living quarters, and return to an area where another undead dwarf had been encountered. Ronn speaks to the dessicated dwarf, and asks for the key. The undead monster is impressed, as he never had a key. The remaining adventurers stand in the hallway, with falsely tied hands. The creature agrees to give the key, and takes us to the transport shaft. The golems take the remaining heroes to the cells. Serpenthelm, Gwynn and Shadowspawn are taken, while Janella accompanies Ronn and the dessicated dwarf.

The small band enter the vault, which has only one entrance. There are a number of alcoves, with vairious items. As well, there is a pedastal in the middle of the room, supporting a large red stone. The dwarf stays in the room. As Janella handed her staff to Ronn, the dwarf notices and reacts to stuch a move. Janella fires off a fire spell that causes no damage, while the whizened Chitari hits Janella hard, with a spell resulting in flying shurikens. Ronn casts a charm spell on the creature, and manages to talk down the undead monster. Rather than casting further offensive spells, he merely says’Get your slave under control’, and ties Janella hands. At this point, the creature leaves.

Ronn leaves to get the remaining adventurers within the cells, and explores the vault. Janella and Ronn cast detect magic, which detects the stone work laced with transmutation and enchangement. The various alcoves contained various items with certain protective wards. The red stone has a magical trap. The other alcoves contained a book, with a field trap, a cloak with a field trap, a helm with both a field and pedestal trap, and a belt with a field trap.

At this point, Shadowspawn was given the cloak and master thief tools to attempt to remove the book (which appears to be a tome of clear thought). However, his attempt fails, and strong winds appear. Although the first hit is avoided, the second strike is solid, and shakes Shadowspawn to the core. Ronn observes the mishap from behind the pedestal, as the others stand outside the room.

Ronn returns to the living quarters, to speak with the minor ranked dwarf. However, he opens the door, and is zapped. But, he does learn of a word of power, that works the vault room traps. He returns, and speaks the word.

The group easily grab the items.
The find a tome of clear thoughts; a helm with magic, worn by Gwynn. It is covered by a scene, with an ocean and a boat on it.
A cloak, that when Janella dones, turns him into a bat; known as the ‘cloak of the bat’ – polymorph into bat;
And finally a belt – Janella fails to understand it. There are symbols, that Janella can read, with the name of a Charduni Dwarf, and has divination.

Janella then takes hold of the stone, and Ronn prepares a ditty………

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Further into the tower

You unlock this door with the key of imagination.
Beyond it is another dimension.
A dimension of sound,
A dimension of sight,
A dimension of mind.
You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance,
Of things and ideas.
You’ve crossed over into… the twilight zone.

Imagine if you will, a world where odd creatures roam the countryside, striking fear in the hearts of the populace. Where drakes and dragons rule the skies and breathe down frost, fire and acid onto those unfortunate enough to be spotted. It is in this world that we find our unlikely band of heroes – A world well inside the twilight zone.

We start our adventure with Tellius receiving an Epic point for heroically implementing the brilliant idea from Gwynn and Janella to disguise himself as one of the wizards on the library wall to fool the librarian. Apparently it saved the group a whole lot of fighting, and made gathering information much easier.

After a quick bout of healing spells, Gwynn, Janella and Tellius, still in his disguise, head for the library to have words with Madge, the librarian. Meanwhile Serpenthelm makes dinner. Shadowspawn rests.

From the librarian, we learn a number of things:
There is no readily available information regarding the Queen of Shadows.
Spell tomes are kept in the vaults.
The levels of the base of the tower are:
Study
Kitchen Hall
Entry level
Housing
Lab1
Lab 2
Service level
Vault
The entry level is a trapped entry admitting dwarves only.
The red stone/gem is likely in the vault.
Madge doesn’t know anything about the white powder.

We do manage to find a book about the slytherin and although it’s not a technical book about them, there are a bunch of stories and we’re able to determine the following:
No concept of cleanliness
Speak common and titan
Fight in groups with 3-1 odds or better or from ambush
They can call upon a pack of rats
Scourge of the underwhelm
Some super rat men exist due to titan’s blood
Fear of starvation
Pray twice daily
Priests are Albino.

All very interesting information, but we’re pretty knackered, so after eating some of Serpenthelm’s stew, we head to bed and with only 2 hour watches, we all manage to get 8 hours of sleep, and are ready to go by 7.

We climb down a rope and the Drake, who is being fed by slytherin at the other end of the tower, gives us a bit of unneeded encouragement to get moving. The Drake assigns a pack of slytherin to escort us up the cliff face on an old platform used to haul goods. The huge 20ft wheels are pulled by the rat people and after a stop midway, we end up at the base of the tower. Gwynn tips the leader (hereafter known as Jimmy, the rat) with a bit of food.

The base of the tower is in pretty rough shape – lots of rubble, bushes and brambles over what used to be a nice stone floor. There is a kitchen building right next to the tower that is pretty much destroyed. We spend a bit of time searching around for another entrance, but find nothing of note except an indentation that may have previously been a cold storage cellar.

We throw out a couple of detect magic spells and can tell that there is a magic below us, but can’t tell what kind. We go down one level with Janella in the lead, and our ever brave Tellius providing the all-important rear guard, and find a beautiful staircase along the wall with a 10×10 landing at the bottom. The20ft tall tiled mosaics are spotlessly clean below a certain level. The floor appears to be covered in a pool of water, about waist deep with an open hole right in the center.

The water glows under a detect magic spell and indicates summoning magic is present. The hole in the middle of the floor has transmutation associated. We scrounge a few pots and a long board from upstairs and do some experiments. What we figure out is that we are screwed. We lose the board and one of our ropes to a tidal wave that takes them down the hole.

While trying to figure out another way to get to the next level, we meet Schneider (a stocky 5ft humanoid with his ears ticking straight out from his flat, furry face sporting catlike eyes and fangs) when he pops up from the hole in the floor and walks across the water to the landing saying; “who is messing my floors?” A green gas with a smell of chlorine wafts over the area and cleans the floor, removing all the dirt.

Tellius, with an uncharacteristic act of insight, disguises himself as the wizard from the library and nonchalantly walks across the water. We all try to follow but are informed that test subjects much be bound. Shadowspawn deftly transforms his rope back into binding sized lengths and after being bound we are all down through the rabbit hole.

At this point our group is split up. Most of us go down a couple of levels and stop at a floor with Iron Golems – looking like traditional dwarves, but larger. One takes each of us and leads us away.
Tellius goes down only one level into a room with 4 stone statues of winged humans and 4 hallways. He manages to figure out how to get to the same level as the rest of the group.

Meanwhile the rest of us are taken by the golems, down a hallway, past three cages, turn right, end of hall and put into a cell. Janella and Shadowspawn are unconscious when Tellius finds us and tries to figure out the runes on the doorway. Eventually he goes and asks the golems and they tell him to “trace the runes”… so Tellius comes back and bravely traces the runes. The first rune renders everyone into an unconscious state of stasis, but at least we are levitating. The second rune makes the door disappear. Tellius brings us all out into the hallway. The third rune lowers everyone to the ground and wakes us up.

We start to explore and glance into the adjacent cells to see many different creatures – minor demons, magical creatures from other planes, angelics – most we have no idea who/what they are.
Tellius leads us to the elevator where we are challenged by the golems. Tellius takes us up to the living quarters one at a time. Schneider comes in and cleans under Janella and Gwynn.

Once we are all together, we head north. The first door on the right brings us into a room which we search. We find a magic robe which provide +2 to all saves. And after disarming a trap on a chest upstairs, we are in the possession of a fancy mage’s outfit and a magic book. Tellius takes both to help with his disguise. We try to open the book, but it gets a little dicey with the powerful magic, so we stop.

Next we head south. Tellius, feeling invincible in his new outfit reaches to open the door only to be hit with a bolt of electricity. Janella uses mage had to open the door. We find an undead Dwarven mage sitting behind the desk. Tellius bluffs to find the grand wizard Dalben’s quarters.

We eventually find Dalben’s and after disabling a fireball trap, enter the anteroom. A clay golem recognizes Tellius and lets us into the next room. Tellius leads the way followed by Janella, Gwynn, Shadowspawn and Serpenthelm. We enter a very large room with a fireplace, fancy rugs, large bookshelves, a seating area with couch and chairs, a big fancy meeting table with chairs, covered in books and scrolls. There is an undead mage leaning over the table looking at well-worn books and a 2 1/2ft iron golem cleaning stuff up.

It is here we leave our beleaguered heroes, with many questions unanswered and many questions unasked. Just another day in the twilight zone.
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Into the tower...

And with some clever engineering and more than a little rope-burn, our hero Ronn Tellius was finally raised into the fallen tower.
Now, to remind the humble reader, when we last left our party, they were in the process of raising themselves into the top of the fallen tower. Navigating a fallen tower certainly isn’t as easy as it sounds, the near 90 degree incline of the place meant that walls were now floors and ceilings, and the titan forsaken sword that knocked the place over didn’t even have the common courtesy to make sure the doors were left on the lower side of the thing.
This meant that the first obstacle the adventurers had to overcome was the door about 10 feet in the air. Not so fast though, there was the small matter of this being a former mage’s tower, and that could only mean, with all likelihood, that the doors were left with all manner of horrific defensive runes scrawled all over them. Janella started to mutter in her fiery elven manner and shoot various magics at the door to determine what sort of threat might reside on the door’s mundane-looking surface. As it turned out, the door was far from mundane, but contained some foul form of evocation that only careful study and experimentation could suss out of the woodwork. We were soon shown the extent of Gwynn’s extraordinary arcane talent as he solved the problem with a deftly thrown rock directly to the handle of the door. As the rock connected, the door suddenly erupted with a bitter cold blast extending straight away from the door. It was about now that Janella remembered a spell that could help us and with some exaggerated arm waving, the door fell open. Serpenthelm was tired of the heroes trying to climb over each other and suggested they stack some furniture to climb into the doorway. Gwynn and Janella lead the way, with Serpenthelm and Shadowspawn climbing up next. After a few attempts to climb up into the doorway with his compatriots, Ronn Tellius decided, bravely of course, to stay behind a guard the entrance…
There was sounds of commotion coming from the doorway above, as apparently Gwynn and Janella apparently woke something in the next room. A few seconds in, Ronn decided it would be a good time to have a quick tune on his flute, something inspiring he’d come up with back at Junction. The majestic song rose up into the entrance to the next chamber, and was surely the reason that some fell beast finally fell to Gwynn’s darts.
The combat was ended suddenly as janella unleashed some of her magic into the last monster. Ronn assumed it was a distinctly fiery spell, with the wave of heat that emanated from the entrance.
Gwynn climbed down to check out the corpses and Ronn fell while trying to climb through the door chimney.
Ronn was able to finally climb to the next entrance, and Gwynn leapt up and handed Ronn a ring to ensure the next descent was easier. Gwynn and Serpenthelm proceeded to search the room and we discovered a few items of interest. The ring of jumping, one of the monsters had quite a nice sword, and a journal. The soldier’s journal described the plight of the guards leading up to the war with the Titans. The journal also curiously mentioned an Iron Golem which served as librarian, that couldn’t possibly foreshadow anything.
The door this time was of the trap door variety, and shadowspawn decided to take matters into his hands, and climbed up on some furniture to jimmy the lock. The lock clicked, and we were through to the horizontal spiral staircase that used to lead up to the guard room we had just come through.
As the heroes climbed along the staircase they could hear skittering sounds, and the sound of objects falling.
We soon met the librarian. She was quite pleasant, well, assuming iron objects in the form of ladies can be called “she”. After some pleasant death threats, Ronn was able to disguise himself as the mage Cuthred, one of the wizards from the time before the Titan conflict.
Some questioning revealed that the object of our original desire was inside a giant sphere of energy, that can only be opened with the “key”. The key of course having been only in the posession of the master wizard of this establishment, Dalben. While in the library the heroes did some reading, because, why not? Turns out the skittering creatures were the de facto gophers for the iron librarian (song idea?) And fetched the heroes a journal of the library and biography of Dalben. There were tattered maps as well, which showed that the tower complex descended into the cliff face, with labs below the ground level.
All finished with reading for one day, the adventurers opened the next trap door, thankfully the traps were pointed “out” from the library so the heroes could slip through. The next room was fairly uneventful, a few dead bodies some shiny loot (a lense of detection).
The next room opened up into the other side of the broken tower, much like the other side, it was littered with dead slitheren. At this point it ws decided that camping out for the night was the best idea, with the heroes likely heading out to the cliff face the following day to hopefully discover an entrance into the tower’s substructure.

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Running north to Crystal Falls
The roundabout route

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!!

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Adventures in Urlisia

The loose knit group of Wu’jen often would observe Shadowspawn writing in a small journal in the wee hours, by the light of the embers of the dying fire. They realized he preferred to keep his thoughts extremely secret, as they watched him toss each sheet into the fire once it was filled with his writing…….

“Another diary entry, to keep the thoughts from running rampant. Blasted Orb!!

Met up with Hagrin at the Angry Dwarf, with Serpenthelm, who directed us to a Charduni Dwarf Cleric, with the hope that she may know further of this foul orb I am to find. Managed to get solid information. After a productive afternoon, thought I was due a break. Enjoyed a few quiet moments, a decent brew and watching the rest of the group.

Ronn, that insufferable blowhard, chatted up his sweet heart, and whipped the crowds into a fury, regarding them with tales of our adventures, and further degrading that rediculous Captain of Junction. Gwynn aided in his own way, astounding the rabble and climbing up into the shadows. Titans’ Teeth, glad that Serpenthelm’s performance didn’t derail the evening too much. At least Ronn’s voice is pleasing.

Jenna, a ‘contact’ of Ronn, apparently had space above the bar, and was kind enough to let us bunk for the night.

In the morning, Janella and Serpenthelm tried to take a closer look at the portion of skin I had removed from the bizarre creature within the Fort. All Janella encountered was a headache, and a mouth full of sickness. As one, our party headed off to the temple, and eventually negotiated the underlings to finally meet the aged cleric. She was an elderly dwarf, with glasses, and a nose buried in a tome of Charduni history.

Serpenthelm and Janella seemed to exchange glances, at which point Janella asked about the Orb. The dwarf reported that she was aware of the myths and legends of the Terstin Orb. It apparently was in the possessioon of a Demon, known as the Queen of Shadows. The Devourer had taken her out of a prison, according to lores of old. This demon had the ability to imprison the dead, and had a weak influence on the physical plan. [Is this the source of my abilities? Is she the creature I encountered?] A Charduni hero (is there such a thing?) had stolen the Orb, and hidden it. It sounds as though it is now in a labyrhinth, with monsters and traps, protected by runes.

The elderly cleric then stated that any further information would require a return of our services. She requested a book from a wizard tower, in Crystal Falls. Apparently, a magical book known as “The Telerie” (prized by the Charduni) was last seen there before the Titan War. As this is the only lead regarding the ultimate location of the Orb, I gladly accepted the mission. Gwynn did glare at me, afterwards.

I also showed her the skin and needle-like beak from that creature in the fort. She looked through a few of her books, and found a good likeness as a line drawing. It is known as the “Spawn of the Devourer”, which can create the undead. The one we encountered was young, but powerful.

We began to head out of the temple. Janella went to the nearby market, and obtained some salts and herbs to fix and cure the tattoed flesh. Sertpenthelm stayed behind to do research, presumably on some kind of Arcane Knowledge. Gwynn, Janella and Ron seemed to explore the town on their own.

I went to check on Elsa, my fair Rova contact. As always, she could ‘read’ my situation. Although she knew some of the myths about the Orb, they did little to reassure me. The Orb can bring the apocalypse; ’ has been lost and find how to get it from the orb’; it can free a titan. Of course, she would not accept any gratuity, so I dropped a few gold outside her door. If only our lives had been different….. But enought of pity. Wretched orb!!

We meet up at the end of the day, at another dive, the Barley Punch. Gwynn entertained his ‘friend’, Milla; we decided to stay the night there.

The next day, we headed out for the Wizards Twoer, north of Junction and the fort. The day was quiet , and arrived outside the Fort by the late afternoon. Set up camp that night, with spells and animal campanions watching over us.

During Gwynn’s watch, he heard rustling and suspected creatures stalking. He woke up the group, although Ronn and Serpenthelm must have hit the mead a little too hard over the past few days. Although the moon was at quarter strength, Janella fortuenately cast dancing light, and Gwynn cast entangle. The entire group was fully awake, to recognize those blasted blood sprites heading at us (the Children of Gormath, the Devourer!!)

Quickly, battle commenced. Janella and Ronn drawing blood first, whereas I missed with my daggers (I need to practice!). The group manages to decimate the pack of vile creatures, without a single wound to ourselves. [They may try my nerves at time, but I would not travel with any others] As always, Gwynn finds the bright side, and harvests their bodies for poisons.

And yet, I can only keep thinking about this blasted orb……."

Another page torn and tossed, another spray of ashes and sparks wafting in the light of twilight…….

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The Escape

The Liberation of Fort Jamal
Part III-The Escape
Upon defeating the great horrible monster that was systematically zombefying the occupants of the dungeon, our heroes took the time to lick their wounds and prepare to relocate these four score individuals off to safety.
One of the stricken forts-folk was liberated from his horrible predicament in the stockade by a timely flip of the latch, and his wellbeing was verified by Serpenthelm’s obvious knowledge of the healing knowledge.
Among the captives was a youth of passable flouting skill named Ereint. The youth claimed he had been held for approximately two days, though time’s passage was hard to judge in the dark dungeon. Ereint had decided to visit the village, but was snatched by Lizard folk and thrown in the dungeon to await a bored out brain cavity.
Gwynn and the dashingly able Ronn Tellius decided to humour the boy with some words, and discovered the leader of the military contingent, a man by the name of Lt. Strum.
According to the good Lieutenant, the Fort was set upon by flying beasts, whilst giants simultaneously wrecked the fort’s gates, allowing some sinister reptilian folk inside to summon the horror the Wu’Jen had just slain.
Lt Strum also informed us that the Prince was raising an army with the intention of moving south, against the better wishes of his advisors who pleaded delay to give time for envoys to seek help from the Dwarves to the north.
A few words with the resident Smithy revealed that Dyfel had refused his orders to use the mysterious white powder in his work.
A strategy was formulated to move the survivors out in groups of five, optimizing the ratio of soldiers to non-soldiers to increase the survivability of the captives.
It was time for our WuJen to emerge from the basement. We advanced upstairs behind a bold Mageblood with her hot hands at the ready, and Gwynn slipping around in the shadows. To our maximum horror, we discovered one of the new undead residents of Fort Jamal feasting upon one of his compatriots. Mageblood made short work of the pair, with her devastating burning hands.
What a strange revelation these new cannibalistic urges the undead are now displaying. Our brave party continued the advance upstairs, with the intention of removing whatever foul minions still remained in the manor house.
The Wu’Jen entered the main foyer, Mageblood followed by the great and talented bard Ronn Tellius. Mageblood had her burning eyes on an undead at the opposite end of the room, and neither her nor the handsome and gifted Ronn Tellius noticed another of the fell beasts descending the stairs to their flank.
The initial flame blast thrown from Mageblood caught the first undead unaware, though Ronn was set upon and paralyzed by the devious ghoulish beast on his left.
Meanwhile Gwynn dashed out straight for the front door to secure it, while Serpenthelm entered the fray. We must also not forget the brave straight shooting from Shadowspawn that averted most certain disaster for the party. Mageblood was set upon next, and unable to resist the paralyzing bite of the undead beast. Without the uplifting song of our inspiring hero, surely the party was doomed!
But not today, surely Enkili was with us as Shadowspawn’s arrows found their way home, and Gwynn proved too quick for the unhuman quickness of the undead monster’s attacks.
And with a final and decisive swing from Serpenthelm’s axe, the party was left with a few moments to gather themselves, and recover from any lingering paralysis.
The Wu’jen made their move out of the back door from whence they first entered the building. The plan was for Mageblood to use her pet flame sphere to hold back, and hopefully, distract some of the monsters while we made our escape. We entered the alley and started shuttling the survivors towards the gate in the wall. It must be noted, that the Fort was in a state of utter chaos as the seemingly more intelligent undead feasted upon the less mobile brainless zombies that stumbled around the fort.
The heroes encountered two more of the beasts as they worked to move the captives out of the fort. They were dispatched with suitable (read: burning) prejudice.
The Wu’Jen and the survivors managed to make it to the trees, while only having to stop to smash in the skull of one more of the gruesome new denizens of Fort Jamal.
The Wu’Jen then parted ways with the survivors, advising them to take a south-westerly route around the Titanspawn hold to the south. Our party took the south Easter route, with Junction as their destination.
Along the road our party encountered a large tree. The tree was immune to all of our Bardly heroes’ charms… suspicious indeed.
The party carried on and arrived in Junction. The local constabulary apparently had it out for Ronn, as he allegedly “struck” the captain of their guard during the festival. Our bard had to settle this, and decided mimicking the captain, and ordering the soldier in question to cease and desist was the best option.
The party decided to check in on Smithia, who thankfully was almost done her dreadful task of working with the powder for the Prince’s armies. She did reveal that the target of Shadowspawn’s crusade was likely the Tursten Orb, a great relic of dwarven lore.
The party said their goodbyes, slept a great and wonderful sleep in the inn, and moved on back to Urlisia.
We leave our party in Urlisia, with Serpenthelm and Shadowspawn on their way to a Charduni library to unearth more about the Tursten orb to discover its location. Later that evening, our protagonist, the charismatic and ever resourceful bard prepared to wow the patrons of the Angry Dwarf with a show they’d tell their children of…

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Excerpt from the personal journal of Janella Mageblood, 16 After

God’s Balls! Tellius almost killed me again.
At Gwynn’s insistence, we tested the brown potion. There was no real point carrying it around if we didn’t know what it was going to do. We set up a pretty cascade of articles and poured the potion over a dagger, which ran onto Gwynn’s hand, then onto Serpenthelm’s magic arrow, then onto some grass and finally onto Tellius’ shield. Both the wooden items bent and warped indicating that the potion warps and bends wood. One small mystery solved.

We headed for Fort Jamal off road by 30-90 ft. It was tough going, but at least we were quiet. We arrived just as my stomach started growling for lunch. We noticed in the far distance some of those damned “bat people” flying what appeared to be a search pattern, I don’t know if it’s us they are looking for, but if it is, they’ll need to come farther North.

We had been to this fort before – a couple of years ago. It was a bustling, crowded place of about 400 people. As we approach the fort we noticed markers on the road. As far as we could tell the markers “used to be used for when a place was quarantined”. Great.
I took the lead as we approached with Tellius right behind me and Gwynn in the back. Serpenthelm sent in Sam (the eagle) and when she came back, she was nervous. We could all could tell that there is something ahead, something not right.
We all moved to within 500m of the fort. We could see that there was a 200m clearing around the fort and it sat on higher ground. Gwynn went forward to scout the area. He reported that the guards are not guarding and the main gate is ajar enough for one person at a time to sneak through.

Tellius and I approach fort appearing wounded. We get to within 50m from doors before we see our first guard. It doesn’t look right. No wonder Sam was nervous – all the guards were going in the same direction (clockwise). The guard stopped and turned its head and we got a good look at it… not human, totally pale, looks undead. It let out an unholy screech and jumped over the stonework and started climbing down the wall head first. If there is one thing I’ve learned, when something crawls down the wall head first, shit is about to hit the fan. And it did.
Tellius and I eventually took out the first guard, but just as we finished it off, a second guard came over the wall. Tellius bravely ran away but I wasn’t fast enough and I got hit by the second guard. I hit it back and it also got whacked by Serpenthelm, but it was an epic shot from Gwynn the pierced the guard betwixt the eyes and put its soul to rest.

By this time we were a bit away from the fort and did a bit of investigating. The undead appear to be old guards, but without their old gear – no spears, shields nor swords – but with enhancements like claws. I called forth a detect magic spell and could sense something, but couldn’t tell what kind of magic it was. There was one other freaky thing… on the back of the head there was a perfectly round one inch hole and you could see inside, not that there was anything to see… no brain, just an empty skull. Other than that, no other markings, just some minor scratches.

We dragged one body to 80ft from the tree line and went back into the trees. We watched the guard rotation to see if they would fill the gaps left by the two guards we took out. They didn’t.

I was pretty beat up from the skirmish and needed a little help from the others. I don’t feel like I’m poisoned. We cleaned my wounds and I cauterized them with my burning claw. (13 +1 +3 from Gwynn) Gwynn cast light healing on me which made me feel a bit better.

Shadowspawn went “into the shadows” and explored the fort.

He came back and reported that the gates were warped (the brown potion?), place is completely undead, warriors and regular folk, walking aimlessly.
There is no food and all supplies are missing. Inside the Manor house, the upper levels are all empty, and the lower level has been empty for at least a week.
All pretty bleak, but then some good news, on the lowest level he found 50 people still alive, however they were being guarded by a 9ft tall humanoid with 2 arms, 2 legs and 4 tentacles. The creature appeared to be feeding off the people.

We made a plan:
First, fast stealth around fort to the back
Second, enter via the back door
Third, go through service entrance, close door
Fourth, close door to dining room
All this had to be done in the 45 second gap in the guard rotation.
We did it with 26 seconds to spare.
We didn’t encounter any undead on our way into the Manor house.

We went down to the storage room (the lowest level) with me in the lead.

It’s all a bit fuzzy since I was still feeling some effects from dealing with the first two undead, but with a group effort, we killed the humanoid, but not until it dealt a bit of damage with it’s tentacles.
We opened the holding pens and released the 50 people being held there.
They didn’t know too much except that some lizard like creature had summoned it and that when it killed you, it killed you fast and turned you into a zombie.

I’m feeling tired, I’ll write more tomorrow.
J

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Serpenthelm's dying
Meeting 5

July 29, 2013

Serpenthelm’s dying!

While trying to put as much distance between themselves and the sinister militia as possible, Ronn updated us on his (thankfully short-lived) experience as a prisoner in their camp. Along with the rest of us, Ronn had barely savored the victory against the bats, goblins and giant when winged creatures suddenly materialized. The winged creatures must have taken invisibility potions, which became ineffective during an attack. Targeting the famous bard, they disabled and captured him with a poisoned needle. The rest of us tried in vain to stop the villainous creatures from flying northward with Ronn in their clutches. What seemed to be moments later, Ronn was unceremoniously dumped into the enemy camp. Through a drug-induced haze, he was able to take note of the really scary stuff going on.

Regally dressed humanoid lizard creatures appeared to be in charge. They looked wealthy and powerful and their lodgings were the largest in camp. These suspicious and furtive creatures didn’t have the happiest of dispositions. Ronn couldn’t tell how many lizard creatures were around but he also saw more giants, bat people and many types of goblins. Some of them were riding huge oversized wargs. The camp seemed racially divided. Most obvious of all was the early construction of siege engines! Cages hanging from trees and stockades were holding various types of people and creatures prisoner. Many slaves were working at cutting down the forests. Wood likely used for weaponry.

The lizard people came over and had short words with the big bats that had captured Ronn. Speaking in Venirian, the lizards indicated they weren’t pleased with the trouble Ronn might cause. Responding softly in their particular batlike way the bats stated they thought the other humans would come after him and could then be captured as well! Temporarily done with Ronn, he was thrown into one of the cages hanging from the trees. This is where later, invisible Gwinn finds Ronn, picks the lock and gets him out of there with the help of more invisibility potion for Ronn, the brown greasy vial for the squeaky locks and a flying potion.

Back in the forested rocky foothills, the newly reunited quintet elected to move north as quickly and surreptitiously as possible. Janella, Shadowspawn and Serpenthelm hear a horn followed by barking. Still flying, Gwinn takes Ronn further north then comes back one by one for Janella and Shadowspawn. The gang decides that ranger Serpenthelm should lay a false trail back to the east-west road so that we might all evade the would-be pursuers. The potion for invisibility lasts 15min. Gwinn manages to just drop Ronn off before becoming visible. Ronn messages Janella to take the flight potion and pick up Serpenthelm once she’s done laying the false trail.

Meanwhile, Serpenthelm approaching the east-west road is spotted by 2 more of the nasty vicious bat creatures. Alone and more than a little concerned for her safety she opts to take her enlargement potion to increase the deadliness of her great-axe. She waits until they fly within reach and with a mighty swing decapitates one bat and on the second try, eviscerates the other. Sadly, the ugly thing managed to get its own strike in before its demise.

Janella arrives in time to see the victorious assault on evil. Together they decide to continue laying a false trail towards the road. Again they hear the dogs, only to realize that they’re Wargs and they’re getting closer. They hear the trumpet again and it appears the enemy has been fooled into following the false trail. Moments from the east-west road, J and S are spotted by 6 hobgolblins, 6 goblins, 1 lizard creature and 1 bugbear about 180ft in the distance. Oh Titan! Janella sends a ball of flame toward the 14 creatures in the hopes that the flame will slow them down. It works! Shouts and swearing are heard! Some, (who clearly don’t know anything about tracking) break trail to go towards them. J and S are able to lose the vile beasts due to their stealthy crawling though the brush but 3 Wargs ridden by goblins are able to follow their scent. Our heroes look in vain for pine resin or water to mask their smell from the Wargs. Janella drops a smelly handkerchief to confuse them while the two veer off towards the west. The Wargs are getting closer! Now is no longer the time for stealth! Now is the time to run like the mother of a Titan! Janella starts to fly as Serpenthelm lumbers clumsily along still under the effects of the enlargement potion. They leave food scraps to entice the beasts, which slows 2 out of the 3. Still one goblin-riding Warg comes on. Serpenthelm turns to fight and scores a direct hit. Woefully she does not stop the Warg who rears up and bites the valiant half-elf. Its goblin-rider gets in a piercing hack as well. Janella throws a flaming sphere while Serpenthelm’s attacks lands another hit! Still not deadly enough as the Warg pounces again and again wounds the wounded desperate ranger! Janella gets a deadly sneak attack in with her claws The Warg dies and falls to the ground pinning the goblin beneath it. The other 2 Wargs who had stopped for a nibble now gallop up and encounter the flaming sphere just managing to avoid the deadly inferno. Serpenthelm is attacked again by a goblin and falls hemorrhaging to the ground. Janella in desperation wills the inferno towards the murderous goblin and successfully incinerates it while singing the three remaining devils. One of the Wargs gets hit again by Janella who then falls and is hit herself! The riderless Warg flees while the enlargement potion finally expires on Serpenthelm and she shrinks down to normal size. The remaining Warg and goblin attack one final time. Once again Janella moves her fireball into their path successfully igniting and burning to a crisp the greasy creature. The riderless Warg backs off snarling and runs away. Turning to Serpenthelm, Janella desperately tears through her slain companion’s pack looking for the magical Titan berry wine. She finds it and dribbles into her mouth. Death is narrowly averted, for now. Using the remaining effects of the flying potion, the two soar away to join their companions pausing long enough to give 2 more bat creatures the slip. Once together their faithful companions use their magic and charms to heal Serpenthelm and Janella.

Ronn, Shadowspawn and Gwinn were just starting in on the second bottle of wine after a hot meal around a cozy fire when the two maimed warriors arrived. Their ease soon turned into a bee-hive of activity as all recognized the necessity of putting many miles between themselves and the malevolent militia. Gwinn pulled up his sack trap diversion and rope traps and the group set off. Not that they needed any encouragement but Shadowspawn reminded his friends that if he did not lay his hands on a certain orb, he would die! It was now 5:30pm. The group decided to travel north towards the nearest fort to warn its inhabitants of the treacherous proceedings the monstrous neighbors are planning!

The Wu’jen had traveled an hour and a half when two big bats are spotted circling around them. Weapons are drawn once again. Gwinn does a guidance spell and Ronn sings an inspirational medley. The song inspires the battle weary troupe. Two bats cast spells of entanglement, which they manage to avoid. Gwinn moving deftly darts between the trees and a 30ft rock. Bat one summons a swarm. Serpenthelm moves away from the entangled area and misses her shot at the first bat. Janella moves and hits the bat hard causing the swarm spell to dissipate. Ronn attempts an unsuccessful confusion spell. Bat2 zooms down from the sky and throws a small elemental fire as it approaches. Gwinn gets in a direct hit with his cross bow. Serpenthelm shoots and kills bat1. Ronn gives special powers to Shadowspawn who hits the small elemental fire cast by bat 2 and disperses it. Encircled, Bat2 has a fatal encounter with Gwinn’s deadly arrow.

The looted bat bodies hold nothing of value except one brown vile each. Gwinn drinks one hoping to better understand the magic within. Sadly an upset stomach is all that is gained for his valor. Our cache from the looted bodies now includes 4 brown vials and 2 clear ones. The brown vials appear to be useful for oiling the hinges of Ronn’s tree cage but that’s all. Serpenthelm and Ronn bury the bats and later Serpenthelm joins Gwinn in meditation.

The troupe camps just off the road. A watch is set. Shadowspawn wakes us when he hears what appears to be a party of about 12. Goblinoids, a Warg and a few hobgoblins are moving north on the road. Silently, we shrug our shoulders and go back to sleep.

We’ll wait to see what morning will bring.

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