The Calm within the Storm

The Crashing Storm

Having defeated the Devil General, the group assumed command and ordered the army stopped, and the highest ranking lieutenants or sergents meet with them on the platform holding the planning and tactical tent.

Vefore the meeting the group guickly searched through the information in the tactical tent. They found numerous lists, cataloging the armies provisions, personnel, command structure, and unit purpose, but found little about the plans for what the army was to do. Sandolin discovered a hidden switch at the edge of the fire pit in the center of the tent. After checking it, he oused the switch, revealing a hidden pillar that rose up out of the floor of the platform. Opening it up, they found a series of documents written in Infernal and an demon imp with a heavily gemmed collar. putting the imp back to deal with later, Bellamin was able to decipher the documents to be a series of communications that described a running bet between what seemed to be several devils. They appeared to be betting on who would arrive and conqure their destination first. They had little more time to discuss this as the officers for the remainder of the army began to arrive.

At the midnight meeting, Regred and Wikket explained what had happened and who was now in control of the army. This was supported by the eyewitness accounts of several of the guards that survived the fight with the former general. From the officers, they learned that the army was never told a destination, just heavily drilled on close quarters fighting and seige equipment. Several days ago the General returned and ordered an extremely hasty march to the west. The officers said they were never told where they were heading, and that many of them had no knowledge of the world outside the lands of House Black. Most of the army was conscripted with in the past year, officers were promoted from men who had preformed the best.

Quickly deciding what needed to be done, the officers were ordered to return to their men and prepare them for an inspection in the morning only a few hours off. At that time, Wikket and Regred would address the men and explain what was happening. During the meeting, 2 of the officers were noticed to be unhappy with this seeming change of command. Tharimil and Sandolin followed the 2 men back to their barracks to over hear what, if anything they had planned. After stealthily climbing up the sides of the one of the barracks, they listened in, one of the officers grumpily began the process of getting his men ready, the other discusses with a couple of his men about deserting the army in the morning after the inspection. Sandolin and Tharimil both returned to the group with this information.

Deciding neither was a lingering devilish presence, the group returns to the imp. Upon closer examination, it reacts badly to light, and doesn’t seem to respond to anything a demon normally does. Bellamin also comments on the oddity of a demon being held captive in an army run by a devil. Normally, the two evil creatures detest each other so much, they will attack each the other kind even if there is a better target for both of them around. They also determined the collar was magical, but would have to wait until tomorrow for Bellamin to have the spell memorized to identify it.

At the inspection in the morning, Regred and Wikket outline the changes to the massed troops. They also explain what they believe the army was intended to do, Seige and Sack House Green’s city of Keadle. From the Communications they found in the tents, they believe there is a sister army, racing to the same objective. They offer to allow any that do not wish to fight to leave, but those that wish to be true heroes, and defend innocent people against this evil should stay. After the rousing speeches given, over 90% of the army chooses to stay and fight the good fight with them. New commands are given, and a new course for the army is laid out. The decision is made for the main army to make straight for the City, while our heroes travel ahead and attempt to intercept the second army in much the same way they had this one.

The group leaves, hoping the men they put in charge will lead the army well. Bellamin takes the collared imp along with them in order to determine what it is. After identifiying the collar, they determine that it records sound around the imp for a short time, then forces the imp to hop between planes to go to a specific individual. Once there the collar plays the recorded message back, and then the imp returns. Each of the 10 gems seems to go to someone different, but the collar doesn’t show Bellamin which individuals there are. It also appears that because the collar is forcing the imp to use powers inate to itself, either the collar has driven the imp completely insane or perhaps just feral. Because all of the messages found with the imp seem to have been trascribed by hand, Bellamin thinks the imp may have been used as a sort of messenger between the armies.

The group devises a fictitous message and with Tharimil coaching Bellamin to mimic the voice of the Devil they had just killed, they send several messages to the each of the different gems. They hope this might sew a little confusion into the leadership of the army, and at best, if those leaders send their imps away, might disrupt the communications of the armies as a whole. After traveling several days, the group finally comes across the tracks of the second army, which are already several days old. Knowing they have little time, the group pushes their horses on through the nights to try and catch up to the army before it reaches Keadle.

After pushing their horses and themselves for 3 days, they finally arrive at Keadle and the second army. They come in sight of the city and see similar platforms that supported the barracks and tents of the army they had taken over, but were now transformed, from 2 of them, several catapults and ballista launched flaming bolts and wall shattering rocks in a heavy rain. On another platform, the telltale bursts of power indicated numerous sorcerers and wizards plying their craft. Beyond these platforms, a sea of men pressed forward toward a crack in the wall.

Moving fast, the group dismounted, armored up, and began sneaking through the high grass that surrounds all of Keadle. Approaching the rear most platform, several keen eyes spotted a guard patrolling the backside of the platform. Tharimil and Sandolin moved forward and got under the platform, listening for other guards on the platform. hearing a few more near the front, they decide to climb up and take the first guard out. Unfortunatly for Sandolin, the guard notices him climbing up and quickly shouts that they are under attack. Tharamil and Sandolin quickly silence him but have to take his body back to the ground and pull it under the platform while more guards rush to the commotion.

During the confusion, much of the group begins to creep forward in the grass. As several of the guards return to their posts, 2 remain behind to look for their missing comrade as well as guard the area. With the rest of the group joining them, Tharmil and Sandolin carefully sneak up and strike the 2 guards and with Zubrod, Regred and Bellamin providing assistance, eliminate them without a fuss. Bringing everyone up onto the platform, they sneak around the corner and approach the entrance to the tent that is on the platform. Peeking inside, they rcognize the layout as similar to the Tactician’s Platform they found most of the plans for in the previous army. They see spotters at one edge facing the battle, writing things down and handing them to pages. These pages run to nearby scribes who recopy the small scraps of paper onto parchment, the pages then run and throw the parchment into a 10 foot around flaming brazier set in the center of the platform’s floor. Just as the fire touches them, the parchments disappear in a puff of smoke, much faster than it could be burnt.

Trusting on the orders from the Duchess to sway the loyalty of the troops, the group boldy enters the tent, reading the proclimation and to stop doing everything. All of the pages and scribes in the tent turn and look at them dumbfounded, but one of the spotters near the front continues to scribble something down, trying badly to hide the fact that he is doing it as well. When commanded a second time to stop, he turns and snarls at the group, throwing the piece of paper towards the fire but misses. Ryan charges him drawing her axe, as well as Ogio, several others move around the tables to get the piece of paper he threw and any others from being sent into the fire. While Ryan charged the spotter, his jaw extended and claws grew from his fingers to swipe at her. Ryan charged full into him and pushed the creature straight off the edge of the platform landing on him with her full weight.

Others of the group rushed to the edge as Ryan and the tainted man fought below them, Fireing arrows or what ever they could at him. with Ryan’s blows in addition to this ranged assult, he was quickly cut down. After talking with the pages and scribes, they find out the man they killed as the one in charge of the attack. he was a liutenant of the armies’ general. It was some kind of punishment, as the general and the remainder of the liutenants cut their way into the breech in the wall some 30 or 45 mins prior, soon after the crack had been knocked open. Regred decided to remain behind and command the army while stopping the assault.

Everyone else plunged into the battle ahead to catch up to the General and put a stop to him. As the moved into the battlefield they dodged falling chunks of masonary as well as exploding spells, slowing picking their way across the dead. Bellamin whispered a few words to his raven and set him aloft, and when the group got within sight of the walls a great cheet went up from the assembled warriors. Several shouts of a prophetic bird announcing the Heroe’s of House Green were arriving were heard amongst the crowd. After getting through the breeched wall, the group headed quickly through the streets, towards the keep. They were only sidetracked a few times to deal with some other lieutenants still on the streets, killing and spreading fear.

Finally arriving at the keep in the center of the city, they found the gates unguarded and smashed open. Mangled bodies lay against walls still slick with blood, the heroes tread carfully into the keep and followed the trail of carnage to one of the staircases that lead downwards and was normally locked shut with a gate. here more bodies of guards were piled, appearing that this was another bottleneck they had been able to hold for a short time. Continuing down the stairs, the group reached the strange shrine with 4 doorways, and again a roomful of bodies. Just as they were about to begin climbing the blood soaked stairs towards the Hall the duke took them to last time, one of the soldiers on the ground wheezed. Wikket rushed to him and found that he was still alive, thought gravely wounded. Binding his wounds and moving him carefully to a comfortable position, the soldier said the attackers had just broken through the defenses perhaps 10 mins ago. They had taken the duke up with them, he asked them to go quickly and try to save the duke.

The heroes ran up the flights of stairs that took them to another place, higher than the actual keep, upon making the last few turns, they began hearing the sounds of fighting and roaring as well. They finally made it to the hall only to find the body of the duke thrown against the wall, his chest bloody with the medallion he had used jammed half-way into it. Further in, appeared to be a discarded human skin laying shreded on the ground, on the floor, they saw the statues that before had moved, lying shattered in large chunks across the floor. And dominating the room lay a huge Blue Dragon, gashing covering most of it’s body, with it’s head being held down on the ground by several of the devil’s lieutenants while the general itself hacked away at the dragon’s neck.

With a few shouts, the group rushed into the fight, several of the lieutenants breaking away from the dragon to fight and protect their master. The devil, itself ignored the group, intent on cutting the dragon’s neck. The fight is quickly brought to him, with Ogio and Ryan surrounding him and inflicting heavy blows on him. Bellamin fires a spell from his scrolls, and the devil screams in rage and frustration, it appears as if it’s chest is push into itself and then begins to fade away until all of it’s body follows suit.

The remaining lieutenants scream in pain and begin to claw at themselves mindlessly falling over dead soon after. Wikket runs to the aid of the blue dragon, but she lifts her head and thanks the group, not for saving her, but for being in time to save the city. She knew her time was ending soon and she has no regrets, as Wikket tries to think of a way to save the dragon, he notices the numerous wounds on her body still churning with the fragments of the devil’s blade. He turns his attention to Ogio that had been hit with it, and digs out the fragments before binding his wound to heal. At peace with the knowledge that the City will live on, the dragon, whom the Duke of Green had called Mother, passed away.

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The Cresting Storm

A few days of searching through the markets in Shadom and everyone in the group has spent their writs. They make ready to leave recieving from the Duchess, Two long scrolls with banishment type spells on them. One with arcane spells and one with divine spells on it. Wikket and Bellamin were chosen to carry their magically respective scrolls.

The Group set out west from Shadom along the roads. Passing a few people heading into the city, and surrounded by the huge trees, the land seemed the picture of peace, not one that seemed about to plunge the known world into a mighty war. Several days of travel pass uneventfully as they make their way west. On the morning of the fifth day from Shadom, Tharamil and Sandolin notice someone approaching through the woods north of them. Slowing the cart for a moment, Ryan and the rest of the group look for this mysterious newcomer. Tharamil heads forward a bit and hides, while the rest of the group sees a woman in a flowing dress running through the underbrush of the forest as if persued.

Running onto the road, she suddenly stopped as a Black-clothed person appeared in front of her on the side of the road crouching. Though speaking in a low whisper that most of the group couldn’t hear, Tharamil was close enough to hear him speaking in a strange language he did not understand. The woman spat a reply back to him in the same lanuguage that everyone could hear, and Bellamin, thanks to his helm, could understand. “I will not go with you and your trash, or return to your fool god.” was her response. With that the man in black stepped up and struck her across the face, almost knocking the woman down.

At this point the group could stand by no longer, Tharamil firing an arrow from the shadow of the tree he was hiding by stuck the man in black in the side. As the group moved in to engage the single person, several individuals were shot at by other people in black standing on trees a little ways into the forest. They then seemingly teleported surrounding Tharimil as well as engaging several other party members and surrounding the woman. Regred was able to hold one of the enemies around Tharimil to releave him of some pressure. Ryan noticed while charging the main black-clothed man that they were not attempting to wound the woman, as though they were attempting to capture her. They were able to knock her out just as Ryan charged the main guy preventing him from picking her up. Ogio assisted Tharimil in finishing off the guy on him and then attacked the one picking up the woman. Ryan finished off the main guy very quickly, thanks to several arrows sticking out of him from Sandolin. With the battle turning against them, one of their number threw something at the Held individual only to be shot down by one of Bellamin’s spells. Ogio finished off the last one standing while Wikket tended to the unconscious woman. While preparing to capture the held individual, he suddenly fell over, dead.

Investigating the body, they found a needle like dagger in his neck, some simple tests by the cleric determined the presence of a powerful poison on the knife. The group also found 4 more unused poisoned knives on the assailants. By this time Wikket had awakened the woman, who introduced herself as Patrice Mastriani. The group asked why she was being chased, she explained that she was a member of a Dragon Clan and that was why she was hunted by agents of someone she refused to name. She thanked the group for saving her but declined to join them, she said she was heading east and south, looking for the court of the Lord of the Dragon clan. During the conversation Sandolin noticed ahead of the group, a bobcat had slipped out of the woods on the north side of the road and had sat down in the road, watching the exchange. Patrice addressed the animal bowing slightly and thanking it for it’s presence and the protection of Marvin. Turning back to the group, several members her for information about Marvin and the bobcat. She explained that Marvin was simply himself, a powerful individual and the Lord of the Dragon clan. She did not know exactly what connection the bobcat was, but it was often seen as a messenger and around events that Marvin was interested in. The group mentioned that they had seen a bobcat like that at other times. Considering this, she wished she had someway to thank them properly, but in her present state she had little to offer. She gave a token that would signify the assistance they had given her if they could present it to the Lord of the Clan. Without anyone jumping to take the ring she offered, Wikket stepped forward to accept it. Bidding each other farewell, Patrice headed east along the road that the group had come from.

The group pushed on for another 2 Days before reaching the edge of House Black territory and the location of where the first army they were looking for was to be encamped. Unfortunatly they came upon and empty marshalling field. Signs of war preparations were all aorund the camp, but it looked as though everything had been packed up in a hurry and moved out. From what was left, the group could see that the army had been training in some kind of seige attack; wall scaling, ladders, possible ram usage. The tracks of the army were terribly easy to follow, even though Zubrod was not with them (he’d stayed behind in the city at one of the temples because of something he had ‘caught’). Hopefully he would be able to catch up to them since he was riding considerably lighter than the rest of them.

The group moved on, camping briefly when able but trying to make up ground on the army. On the third night, they finally caught sight of campfires in the distance. Instead of camping for the night, they pushed on closer. They finally determined the fires they were seeing were still moving even in the night and were able to get about 2 miles from them before they began to worry about anykind of rear guard. Tharimil slipped of his horse and headed forward while the rest of the group slowed down to match speed with the main army. After a couple of hours searching, Tharimil found a small rear guard of 3 riders. Rejoining the group, they discussed what to do and decided just to approach the guard, show the sealed document from the Duchess and request to be taken to the commander of the army.

Riding up to them with Regred and Wikket in the lead, the rear guard called to them and lit a pair of lanterns, Regred explained the situation and though two of the guards seemed wary, the sergent of them readily accepted what Regred said and ordered one of the guards to escort them further in, to the General’s platform. As the group followed their guide into the heart of the army, they saw that the army was being hauled along on very large platforms. They passed one that appeared to have a large barracks built on it and was being drawn not by horses but by a pair of humongous spiders. Wikket and Regred engaged the guard in conversation about the army in general. He revealed that the army had done extensive training for sieging walls and close-quarters fighting, most of them were conscripts, originally farmers or crafters pressed into service for the House. He did not have a great deal of information about the General, saying he didn’t usually mix with the men, but the sergents and captains were all promoted from amongst the men, even though the captains had taken to spending less time with the men as well…

By now, They had reached the rolling platform that the guard identified as the General’s platform. He called up to one of the guards on top of it and he used something on a pedestal to lower a ramp that the group rode up onto and then up to the top of the platform as well. On the platform a large cloth tent was there, several cooks tending to pots just outside it. Stepping up to the flap doorways, Regred read aloud the proclimation from Duchess Black, while the rest of the group drew weapons and prepared to assault the tent.

Bursting into the tent, they were greeted with somewhat drowsy half-naked men, and several naked women. Upon seeing the fully armed individuals rushing at them, the half dozen men’s features quickly distorted, growing large claws on thier hands and wicked looking fangs from distended jaws. From a gilted divan, a slow laugh came as a young man languidly waved to the ceiling covered in hanging chains. The fight became horrifically brutal as tainted minions lunged at Ogio, Ryan, and Wikket in the front. Several of the gurads, seeing what the commanders of the army had become, joined the group in fighting them. The Chains along the ceiling began moving of thier own accord, sprouting razored barbs and lashing down at everyone in the tent. Outside, Tharimil and Bellamin snuck around the side of the tent, while Sandolin went around the opposite side. Slicing open the side of the tent, Tharimil and Bellamin entered the tent, Tharimil striking the unprotected backside of the changed men and Bellamin began slinging spells at the General, most of the magic splashing off of him. Wikket attempted to banish the devil general from the scrolls given to them by The Duchess, but the magic was turned aside again. Sandolin cut another opening into the side of the tent and several other guards from the platform entered the fray.

Between the chains above them, and the gaping jaws around them, The group did not seem to be in a good situation. Several of the guards that had come to support them had been merciliessly torn apart. Wikket had been heavily wounded but had managed to pull back before the worst happened. Several of the lesser demons had been felled between the mighty blows of Ogio’s sword and Ryan’s axe. Tharimil’s blade and Regred’s magic had also taken a toll on the devils, but most of them still stood. The general had backed away from his divan while he laughed and commanded the chains above him. Sandolin however, had slipped outside again and cut another opening near the general’s backside. Sliping through unnoticed, He lined up a near-perfect strike, driving his blade through the general’s chest and dropping his body to the ground. While the rush of victory filled them, the general’s body began to laugh and then split open at the back. Climbing it’s way out of the general’s body was a misshapen grey thing. Bleeding openly across it’s entire body, the chain’s from the ceiling began to coil down around it, covering it like cloth. In an unholy voice, it taunted them and promised to give them a slow death. As it begain to focus on Sandolin, Bellamin drank a potion to Strengthen his mind, and then cast a Banishment from his own set of scrolls. The magics began to take hold around the devil as a small rift opened behind it, gusts of magical power that touched nothing but the creature pushed it closer to the rift. A quick glance of his shoulder, and the creature’s confidance turned to terror, screaming and frantically clawing at the ground. Bellamin, with a clear view into the rift, smiled as he recognized it to be the home plane of Edrahil, the Celestial Halls of Peace. With a final gloat from Bellamin, the devil was finally pulled free and thrown into the rift, which sealed quickly after. The remaining minions screamed as in pain, clawing at themselves, then suddenly fell down, limp and lifeless.

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The Gathering Storm.

Once in Shadom, the group decided to split up for a few days researching and looking for leads.

Regred went into the Magic quarter looking for fellow Sorcerers to meet, he didn’t find any, but did catch a glimpse of the duchess and her strange adviser. He met a friendly sorcerer on the second day who was on his way out of town, and on the third received a message from him that the army of Shadom was conscripting Sorcerers and recommended he leave town quickly.

Ogio went into the western quarter looking for information about his sword and dreams. He met a Seeress there who told him to follow his dreams and to try to free the Duchess from her dreams as well.; He went looking for the duchess on the second day and helped Ryan and Zubrod study the keep on the third.

Bellamin spent the first day researching Devils and Prophecies, but was stopped at a strange road block in the middle of the city. He then consulted with the Temple of Edrahil on devils in the area. On the third day, he returned to the temple with Wikket for a meeting with the Head Abbot.

Sandolin went looking for a rogue guild in the city and only found a wink and a nod (knowhatamean, saynomore, saynomore); on the second day, he bought some info on the city itself, finding that the entire city worked like one big guild, all paying a portion of their profits to the Duchess. He also caught a view of her and her advisers’ scraggly burning beard.; on the third day, Sandolin relaxed a bit.

Ryan went looking for smiths to swap stories with, and found an Elf that was happy to talk, and for a bit of gold, told her about the preparations for War and the massive drive for weapons and armor. On the second day, she went looking for the shipping methods, looking for an easy way to disrupt it; and on the third, helped Ogio and Zubrod study the keep for a way in.

Zubrod spent the first day relaxing and played ball kicking with some kids in the inn district. On the second day, he walked around the keep looking for possible ways in and spent the third day planning with Ogio and Ryan how they might get into the keep.

Wikket spent the first day browsing for scrolls and witnessed an interesting bidding war for a scroll of Greater Planar Binding; on the second day he visited the local Temple of Edrahil about any prophecies and returned on the third day with Bellamin to meet with the Head Abbot.

From the Head Abbot of Edrahil’s temple, Bellamin and Wikket learned that the Gates at each point of the city, as well as one below the keep served to shield Shadom from any kind of Extraplanar incursion, it also kept unwanted creatures from out of the city. Though he was skeptical of the information that the two presented about the duchess’ adviser. He was also able to provide an scroll that showed what he thought might be the prophecy that the group had heard rumors of. Copying it down, Wikket and Bellamin mused over it’s full meaning and thanked the Abbot for his assistance.

Able to see no other way to speak to the duchess, the group decided to set up and ‘ambush’ for the duchess as she left the keep in the morning. Ogio planned to call out to her, about the dreams the seeress told him she was having.

Setting up early in the morning, the group watched as the guards opened the main gates to let the Duchess and her bodyguard out into the city. Ogio moved first, calling out for her attention, The Duchess appeared visibly shaken and held her head. Her adviser placed an hand on her and spoke softly to her, this seemed to allow her to regain some composure. Ogio continued shouting to her, about the dreams he was told she was having and that if he would be allowed to speak it could end the nightmares. As guards moved to restrain Ogio, the group could see the effect the Ogio’s words were aving on her. Her adviser called to the bodyguard to move them back into the keep while the deep hood of his cloak fell back from his face.

The group could clearly see the face of the devil, he appeared to be just like the one that had attacked them on the plains outside Edril. Seeing as this may be the only chance they get, Zubrod struck first, firing a pair of shots into the creature. The group followed suit, moving to engage it as it shouted out to the bodyguards to kill the group.

The bodyguards appeared confused and did not move to engage these unknown assailants, instead looking to their duchess for direction. As more arrows hit the devil as well as some magical attacks. The thing reached out to the duchess, ordering her to give a command. Though she seemed to be fighting the commands at first, she eventually ordered her bodyguard to defend her and her adviser from the attackers. Ryan charged into the middle of them, through spear-point and sword-cut, to engage the devil directly. Ogio followed suit as well as the rest of the group focusing on the adviser and trying to minimize attacks to the bodyguards.

In the middle of the group, Ryan was taking a beating as well as Ogio, after several deep hits, Ogio fell to a slash from behind. As Wikket, Regred and Bellamin rained spells on the creature, Ryan made a final desperate strike and cut deep into the devil. With a mighty scream of pain, it fell to the ground, defeated. The bodyguards shouted with surprise and the duchess collapsed into a heap at her feet. Later descriptions of the Adviser labeled him as a very attractive Elven man, that suddenly became the monstrous form upon death.

Quickly the group was pulled into the Keep with the Duchess and the body. While they waited for the Abbot of Edril’s temple to arrive, Wikket tended to the unconscious Duchess. The Abbot appeared chagrined by the unnatural body he saw upon arrival. After tending to the Duchess, he had a group of other priests visit the warding arch that was under the keep to find it broken and desecrated. In an audience with an emaciated Duchess, she had information found in the adviser’s office brought in. She described her own experience as a walking nightmare since she had met the charming elven man. Using the notes, the group was able to reconstruct a build up of massive proportions, where the Generals of Edril thought they were facing 2 moderately sized armies, in truth there were 10 1000-man sections, 3 more reinforcing the 2 that the group knew of, 2 more heading towards Keadle, and 3 encamped on the eastern side of the North river, near the Lizardman kingdom.

Even worse news, the commanders were people that the duchess did not recognize. Information from the keep Guardsmen indicated they were individuals that had recently come to power in the city but had all quietly slipped out of the city in the past several days. Notcing the names, Bellamin recognized some syllables from the language of devils, He theorized that these individuals could actually be devils as the adviser was.

While the Duchess could not spare anyone to go to the armies and disband them, she requested the group to do so. She would give them Writs ordering control of the army to the group, and as reward for saving her, and also as payment to do this, she gave each member a sealed writ for 10,000 Gold worth of items from any merchant in the city. Thus the group departed the keep, to prepare for their next goal: The disbandment of a 10,000 strong army and the dispatch of their Devilish Commanders…

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Smoke on the water.

After arriving back at the Army Fields, south of Edril, the group met with the same unnamed officer in the non-descript command tent. Advising him of all that occurred in Keadle. The officer was unsettled by this talk of a prophecy and that the eight members of the group were somehow connected to it. This also brought up the issue of the fallen Zubrod.

The officer, seeing the need for a living Zubrod, wrote a note and sent it to the Temple tent authorizing his resurrection. Ryan had already taken his remains there and waited until while the priests began preparing the rituals. It would take a full day for the Magic to complete the task.

The group restocked supplies and also consulted with the officer about what the plans for the army were. They learned that the army massed on the edge of House Black’s forest had not moved forward but had done a great deal of shifting, they were now split into two main forces with a slight breach between them. The officer requested the group undertake a mission to journey into House Black lands and attempt to reach Shadom and if possible find out information about what House Black’s intentions were. As they were leaving, the officer pulled Tharimil back for a moment and spoke a few quiet words to him privately.

Before the party left the tent city, they waited at the temple and witnessed Zubrod’s emergence from the ritual wrappings around his body. Upon emergence, everyone noticed a very slight difference in his stature… He had become a halfling. After a testing the body out for a bit, Zubrod found he hadn’t lost anything in the way of skill, so the group decided to head out. Based on how the Black army was situated, the group had 3 possible paths into House Black lands, out along the plains area between Houses Green and Black to the west, sneaking along the river that marked the eastern edge of the lands of Edril, and lastly, trying to sneak between the two camps of the army and directly into the forested area.

The Party headed east and upon reaching the river, headed south into the heavily forested lands of house black. Staying within sight of the river, they continued south and during the night were attacked in camp by a huge spider being ridden by a drow. As it jumped down from the trees to attack, Zubrod ((i think)) shot an arrow straight into the riders head killing him near instantly. As the group began fighting the spider, another assailant attacked Tharimil at the rear of the party, this one riding a monstrous scorpion. While Ryan and most of the group focused on the huge spider, Ogio broke off to engage the scorpion and it’s rider. A brief battle continued, with the spider trying to ensnare victims in it’s web and repeatedly failing. The scorpion could not find a chink in Ogio’s armor and was struck dead by his blows. Tharimil slipped around one of the large trees in the area to sneak up on the rider and strike his back to bring him down just as the spider was being finished off.

The group moved on quickly knowing they didn’t want to be found near a dead patrol, and after several more days of following the river, they heard shouts and whistles ahead of them in the forest. The more stealthy individuals quietly moved forward to see what was happening and found a small dock with a Ship and a barge moored at it. Several warehouses stood nearby, as well as what appeared to be an inn with stables. Zubrod moved closer, seeing dockhands loading cargo onto the barge. Continuing into one of the warehouses on the edge of the docks, he checked several of the boxes, finding them full of foodstuffs.

Finding nothing of interest, he headed to the inn, Filled with a large number of sailors drink, gambling, and eating heartily. Zubrod asked some of the men about the captain of the ship at dock, and they told him he was upstairs, but probably wouldn’t want to be disturbed. Uncaring, he headed up the stairs to find a hall with a number of doors to the side, checking the first he found it locked and proceeded to the second, finding a very attractive halfling woman wearing very little. And promptly forgetting anything about what he might have been planning, decided to give his new body a spin….

After waiting outside and getting no signal from Zubrod, Sandolin and Tharimil were getting a bit bored. Tharimil decided to sneak onto the ship and see if he could find out what they were transporting. Sneaking up onto the ship, he went down into the hold, a few men left on board were gambling in a corner, the ship was empty however, possibly just unloaded. In the very bottom hold, using a flask of oil, Tharimil started a small fire and then snuck out. By this time, the rest of the group had moved up to the edge of the forest with Sandolin to watch things unfold. Seeing the fire beginning to spread on the ship, Bellamin decided to make sure and help it along and cast a fire spell into the hold of the ship through a porthhole. The sailors inside the ship that had been fighting the first fire suddenly had too much to deal with, one of them ran out to get help, shouting a screaming all the time. Tharamil had moved over to the barge and on the edge of it, set several of the boxes stacked on it a lit as well. By the time the sailors were running out to the inn, they had to fight with the dockworkers for buckets to put out the flames on both vessels.

As Zubrod had been finished off and paid up, he headed outside to a scene of pandemonium. Tharamil and himself, stealthily rejoined the group and they retreated back into the woods, They had also seen a road heading away from the dock area to the west. The group headed west and then south so they could meet up with this road out of sight of anyone. Another day of travel lead them to a crossroads, one of the signs pointed east to Shadom. The party headed east and after just another 2 days on the road, passing by alot of people traveling both directions, they arrived at the gates of Shadom. Entering into the city, they were greeted by the guards and advised about the inn district in the center of the city. Where the group headed directly to get a room and take stock of the best ways to handle their problems in City.

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As Inevitable as Death and Prophecy

Traveling south towards Keadle, the group got to know their new acquaintance, Tharamil. Several days out from Keadle, they spotted a tall tower to the northeast, but simply took note of it as they had more pressing business. Even though they passed the days with nothing to see but flowing grasslands and blue sky, their senses were not dulled. Which was very fortunate when they were set upon by a pair of lionesses barely a day outside of Keadle.

A vicious fight ensued, with one lioness almost dragging Sandolin off his horse. He got away and led the cat on a chase while firing arrows at it’s ally. The group focused on bring the first cat down and then the one chasing Sandolin. After which Wikket patched up an almost eviscerated Sandolin and they approached Keadle.

Not sure of how they would be received at the city, Zubrod decided to travel ahead with Bellamin riding magical mount he summoned while the rest of the group waited an hour away from the city. As the two approached the gates, they opened without anyone calling out to either traveler. Coming closer they saw a figure waiting for them, Zubrod recognized him as none other than Fai Udaski, the duke of House Green. He greeted them happily, but showed concern for how few there were. He asked if more were coming and seemed very distracted while muttering something about a prophecy. Zubrod confirmed there were others, but they had waited at a distance not knowing how they would be received. The duke seemed visibly relieved and asked to have them come up to the city. Zubrod dictated a note to a scribe the duke brought out and gave it to his wolf companion and asked the wolf to return to the group and give the note to the dwarf.

After the wolf left, Zubrod and Bellamin pressed the duke for more details about the Prophecy he mentioned but he would say no more about it until the remainder of the group arrived. After a couple hours of waiting the rest of the group arrived and the Duke lead them through the city. Upon entering, the group saw a massive spectacle. The streets were crammed with people, and as the gates to the city closed behind them and what appeared to be the entire city guard fall into parade step behind them, they realized they were the guests of honor in the parade through the city. The procession made it’s way through practically the entire city, winding back and forth, and all along the route, stood people cheering and shouting for them, sitting on roof tops and hanging from balconies. The keen ears of some of the group even heard snippets of conversation from the crowd, mentioning the ‘Mother’s Prophecy’.

Upon arriving at the castle, the Duke lead everyone inside, but instead of sitting down to discuss what was on everyone’s mind, there was an enormous banquet already prepared for them and the nobility of House Green. The were introduced and seated at the dukes table for the party. Though food was brought out, the group was allowed to mingle with all the nobility, some jumping into the temporary spotlight, while others pulled back to the edges of the crowd. After the feast and most of the nobility had left, the Duke continued the party well into the night, evading most attempts to press him into revealing more about this prophecy. He asked everyone to enjoy themselves with everything he offered. Almost everyone of the group did so well into the night before going to rest. Tharimil, stayed up a while and scouted around the castle noting the presence of guards and servants in the castle.

In the morning, after everyone woke and cleaned up, the group gathered and went to the Duke almost demanding answers. The Duke, agreed to take them to let them meet someone that knew more about the prophecy than he did. Down the stairs and past a set of guards that Tharimil had seen the night before. Down a flight of stairs and past what appeared to be a small altar and up another set of stairs, the group followed the Duke. After walking up considerably more stairs than they remembered the castle having, Bellamin pressed the Duke about where they were. He was quite sure they could no longer be in the castle. The Duke merely smiled as they came to the top of the stairs. A very old guard was seated in front of a gate, seeing the Duke he jumped up and stammered a greeting, saying he did not expect to see him so soon. The guard turned to open the gate, and the Duke lead everyone inside to a massive hall. Easily thirty or more feet tall, a hundred or more feet long, and 40 feet across, the hall was empty and almost silent. Small alcoves to the sides held statues with unrecognizable features. The Duke proceeded down the center of the hall, pausing only to pull an amulet of some kind out from underneath his tunic. Chanting a short passage as he walked forward, the group noticed two huge statutes at the end of the hall, their hands locked together above a center doorway, had turned their heads to look at the group walking down the hall. Their eyes were glowing blue as the Duke pricked a finger and wiped some of his blood onto the clear gem in the center of his amulet. The stone seemed to absorb his blood and as he held up the amulet and finished the chant, the gem flashed a bright red. The eyes of the two statues flashed this same red color then turned their heads back to look at each other and they stopped moving. Once closer, Wikket noted that the statues seemed to be early depictions of the gods, Hasha and Zeran, though they were missing what are normally considered the god’s signature weapons.

The Duke lead them into the doorway underneath the grappling statues, and into a small, barely lit room. The sole occupant, an elderly woman with strange blueish skin seated on a low couch. ‘Mother’, the duke said, ‘I have brought them. The Protectors.’ She turned to address the newcomers, smiled slightly, and dismissed the Duke. Obviously unsettled by this, the Duke stammered for a moment before leaving the room. Once the Duke had left, The woman, who never introduced herself, answered some of the groups questions, though definitely not to their satisfaction. She did reveal there was some presence driving House Black, and that it might be the start of this issue. Their presence, and the hope they represented, would protect and ensure the continuance of House Green she explained. She seemed to be some kind of seeress, though her vision of the future was imperfect. She said they need not remain in the city, but their arrival was enough to provide the city with hope to continue on the path it had set itself on.

Getting no more answers from her, the group took their leave and rejoined the Duke. He did not press them for details but simply lead them back down the stairs. On the way down, Bellamin questioned the Duke more about the location of where they were at and where the other stairs led, the Duke said the other 3 staircases lead back to Castle in various places. He lead them up a different staircase to prove it to them.

The group spent a few more days in Keadle gathering supplies and researching some connections to House Black. After confirming the Duke was not in league with House Black, and even obtaining a written note from him to deliver to The Council in Edril, the group left Keadle. After several days of travel, during one watch, Ryan and Zubrod heard a strange popping sound near the camp, but nothing approached the camp, or was there at dawn.

Several more days of travel and they had almost reached Edril, when the group was suddenly ambushed. A large lion with slightly red-tinged fur and strange bony protrusions thrusting from it’s head, spine and shoulders rushed out of the tall grass. At the same time behind them, a red skinned humanoid with similar bony parts and a large glaive rushed the group. Firing several arrows at the lion, both Zubrod and Sandolin wounded it. Tharimil fired on the humanoid wheeling his horse around to face him. Ryan and Ogio, leapt off the wagon to charge at the humanoid as he struck Tharimil. The lion jumped and slashed Zubrod but couldn’t pull him down. Bellamin and Regred cast spells on the glaive wielding creature, only to have them turned away by some sort of repulsion.

Zubrod pulled his horse away from the lion, continuing to fire arrows at it as Wikket rode up to strike it. The lion ran after Zubrod, raking him with claws but still failing to pull him off the horse. Ryan and Ogio, with excellent tactics pinned the humanoid creature close between them while most of the group focused on the crazed lion, damaging and weakening it with spells. Instead of trying to move away, Zubrod bravely stood his ground and fired more arrows into the lion hoping to kill it. Sadly it did not, and the lion grabbed Zubrod in it’s massive jaws and pulling him to the ground tore his body into several pieces. The humanoid creature, surrounded and hard pressed disappeared right from between Ryan and Ogio. The group turned all attention to the lion and quickly brought it down. Reflecting on the battle, Bellamin was able to recal the name of the creature they had faced, a Barbazu, a hateful soldier devil.

Though they had lost one of their own, they collected his items and body, perhaps the clerics for the army would be able to do something for him…

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TO WARS!!!

After waking up from a fitful night’s sleep in a crumbling old temple, Everyone climbs onto their mounts and wagon where appropriate. Unfortunately, Regred and Nanoc have come down with some sort of cold and are alternately puking off the back of the wagon and groaning trying to get more sleep. This at least provides a little bit of sound to the otherwise near silent forest. Another days trek northeast into the forest and the group notices, they seem to be traveling along some kind of path in the forest. Instead of having to wind their way around trees, there is a clear path through them, easily wide enough for the wagon maybe even two, side-by-side.

Zubrod rides ahead, scouting for any changes in terrain, he sees the path becomes more solid, and what look like cobblestones start appearing in the ground. Soon after, he comes to the edge of the forest and finds himself looking out across a humongous ruined stone city. The remainder of the group catches up quickly to see the city. The buildings are of rough cut stone, with vines covering the walls and streets. The have stumbled upon what looks to be one of the main city streets that appears to go straight to the center of the city, where four miles distant, they see a large pyramid dominating the scene. The nearest buildings to them are only one or two stories tall, most without roofs, to their right, perhaps only a mile distant they see a tower that might be four stories tall still standing. After taking in the view while discussing what to do, they also notice a second tower similar to the first far to their left across the cityscape. Though they can find no magical residue, or traps along the road at the edge of the forest, the group decides to skirt along the edge of the city looking for the most direct route to the nearby tower.

They find an alley way the wagon will fit in that seems to be the closest entrance near the tower, and as they wind their way through the vine covered streets listening intently for any sounds. Almost to the tower, they near the exit of one of the alleyways to find a completely empty street, no vines, plants or debris on it. Even the fronts of all the buildings have been scoured clean. Looking up and down the street, they can see nothing that might have caused it, but they see the street runs straight to the tower. As they pull the wagon out of the alley and begin heading toward the tower, the group see that inside the buildings and the alleys, the vines and plants grow right up to the edge of the street then stop. The cut a few of the plants to see if there is anything special about them. They conclude there isn’t anything different, when they notice a metal helm floating about ten feet in the air.

Uncertain of what this could be, Zubrod and Ryan slowly approached on foot and just as they neared the helm, Zubrod noticed something wrong. Just in front of them, he could see the ground wobbling as he was looking through sluggish water, he pulled Ryan back just as a huge mass surged forward at them. The entire street seemed to wobble forward and once in motion, the group could see the almost transparent mass of slime filled the entire street. Quickly, the group pulled their free horses into empty buildings on the side of the street. Ryan ran back and began unhitching the horses from the wagon since the street they are on isn’t wide enough to turn around in. Ogio hopped down out of the wagon to help as Zubrod and Wikket begin firing shots into the block of slime from inside the buildings they have taken shelter. The slime advances on them and futilely tries to reach into buildings to get them, but cannot. With the horses unhitched and safe, Bellamin enlarges Ryan and with Ogio’s help, she is able to pull the loaded wagon back into a nearby alley. Bellamin cast a flaming sphere into the slime while the rest of the group continued to pelt the slime with arrows, rocks, and whatever else they have. As it slides back and forth trying to reach something, the slime begins to fall apart and eventually just collapses into a spreading puddle of nothing.

Sifting through the remains, the group pull out a bunch of arrowheads, a grappling hook Zubrod had thrown into it, and a metal helm. They pulled all the horses and the wagon out and made their way to the ruined tower. About three stories tall, they climbed up into the crumbling second floor, finding what appeared to be a ruined laboratory of some kind. Shattered glass and bowls on a stone table as well as empty book shelves, as they searched the building, they found underneath some stones a tattered and fragile book. After being examined by Zubrod and Bellamin, they figured out that it was a spellbook written in Orc. Moving it gingerly, they packed it in the wagon so that Bellamin could study it at length later.

Finding nothing else of value, the group headed north staying on the vine covered side roads and alleyways. They found numerous other ‘cleaned’ roads like the first one, but did not find any other Slime blocks. Eventually they reached the base of the pyramid, an enormous Ziggurat 300 feet tall with steps carved into the front of it. Climbing the steps brought them to a platform at the top with stadium like seating on the sides and back of the platform. Even here the vines had covered almost everything and in the seats, trees could been seen growing. In the center was a small dais with two empty pools in it, along the backside of the dais was a raised wall about 10 feet tall and in the center of the wall hung a large block of ice with a sword sticking out of it.

Stating with a surprising amount of bravery, Sandolin declared he was going to pull the sword out. No one readily jumped to disagree with him, he searched for any traps on the sword itself. About to grab the sword, Wikket stopped him for a moment, using a flask of oil, he poured directly on the ice and lit it, though the oil burned off, the ice itself did not melt. Seeing nothing else they could do, Sandolin grabbed the sword and began tugging at it, after several tries he was finally able to pull it free. In addition to seeing the blade was a Greatsword with an inscription written in Celestial which bellamin translated as “The wind of Winter blows lightly from the south”, the ice block began to rapidly melt away until a male elf fell out of the block. Laying almost motionless on the ground, he was missing his right arm but breathing. A few moments later he woke up and after getting up, he introduced himself as Van, the one-time ruler of the now-ruined city. After short discussion, Sandolin noticed a bobcat slinking out of the trees growing among the seats of the amphitheater. After casting a spell that recreated a metal-like right arm, Van took notice of him as well, complaining to the cat, asking if Van should feel grateful to him? After some more grumbling, He thanked the cat’s master, ‘Marvin’, before holding up his new arm and casting another spell merging into a flash of lightning into the sky.

Sometime during the last exchange, the cat slunk off out of sight, Zubrod and Sandolin investigated that area as Bellamin climbed to the top of the northern side. He saw two more ruined towers, one to the east and another to the north. As he looked west towards the second tower the group saw when entering the city, he also saw a large cleared space, with hundreds of brightly colored tents gathered. Calling to the others, they all went to look, Zubrod was able to identify the markings of many orc tribal clans. One thing he didn’t understand was why them seemed to be together, he said that when gathered together normally orcs only fought each other. and they would never willingly set up camps next to one another. They also spotted an all black tent near the edge of the camp, several riders were seen heading quickly towards that tent from outside the camp.

The group headed slightly north around the orc camp and made it to the western tower while discussing what to do. It was decided to camp at the tower, then check the other towers before heading south east and back towards Grice. The next morning Sandolin described having strange dreams about desolate empty locations, ruined castles and burnt out forests, ending a keep made of Ice in the middle of a desert with a huge lock on the doors to the keep. A little freaked out by the dreams and blaming the sword, he gave it to Ogio, the fact that Sandolin couldn’t even use the blade was certainly a factor as well. The group picked their way through the city to the other two towers, finding only broken stone and fragments of former use. They left the city and headed east into the forest. Trough the forest the trip was uneventful, though Ogio began having similar dreams to those described by Sandolin as well.

Once out of the forest, they made good time east on the way to Grice but found it just as empty as they had left it some 3 weeks earlier. A quick trip up to the mine north of grice revealed some disturbing results, the entire mine had been collapsed on itself. Thinking again about the encampment of Orcs, the group set off for Stalag across the plains. On watch alone one night, Zubrod saw the same floating castle in the sky, hanging there for only a few minutes before disappearing again. With no one believing him, again, they continued south until they came across a group of orcs. several wagons and a group of outriders.

The riders swung out to meet them, unfriendly and gruff they said they were moving quickly to meet up with the Hound Duke. When questioned about their business in the area by Wikket, they became restless and told him it was nothing for him to care about. Suspicious of each other, Zubrod certainly didn’t help the situation by insulting the leader and when called out by him, Zubrod moved up to the front to insult him again, the situation rapidly deteriorated into a fight. Sadly, exhausted by hard riding the Orcs were no match for the group which quickly struck down most of their fighters, when the leader attempted to run, they brought down his horse and tied him up. The rest of the caravan had redoubled their speed, so instead of chasing them, the group collected eleven of the riderless horses.

Stringing the horses together with rope from the wagon, the group traveled into the basin around Stalag. After about a days travel, with the height advantage of the wagon, they saw that Stalag itself was under siege. Hundreds and hundreds of Orc tents, many of them, the same ones seen in the ruined city. A quick discussion and the group decided there was no way to reach the could try and go around and find a way into Stalag, they worked south only see more tents ringing the city. Everyone decided it would be best to head south and try to get relief forces from Edril.

Though the week and a half of travel didn’t do the horses a great deal of good, the bags of decent feed that Ryan had brought, helped the found horses remarkably and they were actually able to sell the lot of them for a decent price. Enough to get the Sword and Helm they had found identified as well as buy an extra pearl incase they found something else.

What the group found in Edril was far more disconcerting. Edril was a city preparing for war, and it wasn’t heading north to Stalag. In their absence, the Dukes of House Black and Green had left the council, and removed all of their people from the city. Nearly one quarter of the city stood empty. After being gone so long, everyone took the time to do a bit of training and research into the events. It seemed that Black and Green had seceded from the council and were now threatening war against Edril. Criers stood on every street corner calling for volunteers for the war and bills had been posted on every empty place that could be found on walls. Every bar and tavern was filled with all manner of youth toasting each other and boasting about how many traitors they would kill.

During their training, both Ryan and Ogio were approached by older warriors asking if they planned on joining the armies in any capacity. Sandolin found that the previous residence of Duke Green was completely empty, devoid of furniture, art, or anything. The group also found that the Duke of House Gold had been made head of the army until the crisis was over and that he was mustering the army on the south fields of the city. After discussing this with some of the group, they decided to head to the training and supply fields, searching the mass tent city, they found what seemed to be a headquarters tent, but were rebuffed and directed to a nearby recruitment tent. Though apprehensive of being assigned to just regular army, Sandolin went through the basic testing for recruits, which he almost felt was a joke. He was certain that Bellamin could beat the proctor of the exam in hand-to-hand, and might have bet that Regred could too even if he was still sick in the wagon.

Pulled aside by a page, Sandolin was directed to an observer in the rear of the tent. The observer didn’t introduce himself, but asked if Sandolin was alone, or if there were other people with him. After the brief questions, he was given a note and directed to another non-descript tent with a knotted rope in three colors outside it. After finding the tent, Sandolin and Wikket went in, leaving most everyone else outside. They met with an officer in the tent, handing him the note, he opened and read it and brought the two over to a map hung along the inside of the tent. It showed Edril as well as the lands surrounding the main cities of House Green and Black, Keadle and Shadom, respectively. The officer also explained that on the border of Shadom, House Black had begun massing an army, but just stayed there, they had made no pushes out of their claimed territory. Nothing had been seen or heard from House Green, they were previously some of the best horse traders in the area, but had pulled all of their flocks into their massive city.

The two listening also got a bit of history about what had actually happened regardless of what the flyers said. About 3 weeks ago, without any warning both House Green and Black had removed all people and property from Edril. No explanation was given, and any attempt to contact them or open any sort of dialog was not answered. Messengers sent to Keadle and Shadom did not return, finally an envoy from Green and Black was seen riding together and set up a small pavilion in the middle of open territory, like an invitation to meet a little over two weeks ago. An envoy from Edril was drawn up, with members from each of the remaining houses, they rode out and met with them. After four days of no word, a messenger was sent out to request information. What he found was a slaughterhouse, it appeared that all of the delegates from both sides had attacked and murdered each other. Even delegates from the same side had attacked each other, no one was sure what to make of it. Then the first troops in Shadom appeared on their borders. The remaining dukes on the council decided to take no chances, and called up the formation of this army.

The officer commented that if only they had someway of opening up contact with House Green to find out what had happened, they would be in better shape. Remembering that Zubrod was lesser nobility in House Green, Sandolin volunteered they might be able to get to the City and speak with them. The officer left them to discuss this option with his superiors. Having been nearby and overhearing the conversation, Tharimil came over to talk to Wikket and Sandolin, he was another recent recruit that was deemed too valuable for regular service, but he hadn’t been assigned to a task yet. As the officer returned, he said he had gotten approval for the group to head to Keadle and attempt to enter the city and make contact with the Duke there, Fai Udaski. The officer also asked to have Tharimil accompany them as well.

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Portents and Temples

After mining what could easily be picked up and carried out of the mine north of Grice, the group had collected 270 lbs worth of Mithril (135 actual lbs.). In addition to Ryan attempting to very poorly hide a little mithril on her person, they were also getting a little worried about what might happen should the townspeople or someone else stumble upon them taking a nip of metal from the mine. They headed south and had Sandolin sneak into Grice to see what was happening. Suprisingly, the town was completely empty. No people, no animals, no momentos or knick-knacks in the homes. The only things remaining was some furniture and dust. Much to Bellamin’s sadness, the library underneath the mayor’s home was also removed. Zubrod found a large path of tracks heading out a hidden gate in the back of the town wall into the forest. Shrugging a little at the odd paranoia of the townspeople, everyone continued southwest back towards Stalag.

On the trek down, during one of his scoutings, Zubrod spotted something strange in a copse of trees they would pass near. Trying to approche carefully, he was suddenly attacked getting a gut full of arrow. Wounded but not incapacitated, he turned his horse and raced back to the wagon while more arrows fell around him. After taking a moment to tend his wound, the group changed directions to try and come up on the opposite side of the trees. As they approached the tres, hotts and calls were heard and a large shifting of people was heard. With their keen senses Zubrod and Sandolin estimated the number of bandits to be around 20. The group decided in this case, descretion to be the greater part of valor and cut a wide path around the trees. They continued through the open plains until reaching the Mist-filled depression surrounding Stalag, camping that night on the edge of Mist, on Wikket’s watch he saw a great white light pass across the sky and go down in the distance northwest of Stalag. Questioning Bellamin who was on watch with him, It seemed that only Wikket had seen the light, possibly a sign from one of the Gods.

Continuing their journey, the group reached Stalag without event. They spoke with the commander sharing the events they had found in Grice and asked if anything more could be done in the area. the Commander admitted that while they had cleared the east, south, and most of the western lands around Stalag of the Undead, thery were having more trouble to the north. They were holding against them, but could not make much progress in driving them completly back. Though they offered to help in that respect, Commander Wilhelm Foley requested they try to get further north of the undead and see if there was some greater cause that could be forcing the undead south from the mountians.

While also in Stalag, Wikket consulted with the local Priests and some of the Battle wizards about the sign he had seen. Others in the city had also seen it, and while possibly a sign from one of the gods, if it was some object from the heavens, they speculated that it would have landed northwest of the city, at perhaps a weeks journey.

Wikket asked the group to travel with him to investigate the sign, other information was found that a passage around the mountain range to the north might also be found on the western edge of the range. Heading west and then more northwest out of Stalag’s basin, the group also decide it would be prudent to bury the mithril incase some tragedy befell the wagon or horses during the journey. Marking the location on the large map Bellamin had taken from the Necromancer weeks ago, they buried the metal outside the basin in the middle of nowhere. Finally they reached the site of Wikket’s sign, a huge burnt out gash in the land. Easily a quarter mile long, earth had been piled up as if a god had reached down and pushed it aside like loose dirt. Though long burnt out, it was easily seen whatever had done this had been so hot as to ignite the very earth and stone it had landed on. Looking around the end point, they found no evidence of what could have caused such destruction until Zubrod’s tracking ability lead him outside the crater and found strange tracks. Thin legs had pressed deep into the ground and following them suggested a creature of immense size, with an easy stride of more than 15ft. The group decided to mark the location on Bellamin’s map and head north towards the mountains, following their primary goal from the Commander.

Heading north for several more days, they entered once more into the mist as the terrian became foothills approching the mountain range. They climbed in and out of the mist as they went along the hills. Finally they found the entrance to the pass through the mountains, though filled with mist, it wasn’t as deep as they had been traveling through. As they entered the pass, they also found the ground covered in bones, orcs, humans, elves, dwarves, even some unrecognizable skeletons on the ground. Moving through the pass was eirely quiet, the crunch of bones below the wheels and hoof of their movement. At several miles in length, the pass must have been the site of some great battle… or horrible massacre. In the midst of their crossing through the pass, Sandolin spotted something amongst the rock walls of the pass. Cackling gleefully, they saw the crazed hermit from Stalag, “DEATH!” he screached, “The pawns go to their death happily ahead of them!” before leaping agilely though the rocky cilff walls. Though a little unnerved by his statement, they pressed ahead and left the pass to find a huge valley within the mountian range filled with what appeared to be an ancient forest.

Camping at the edge of this forest, the group set up watch. During the night, the group was awoken by watch as three huge centipedes came up out of the pass behind them seeking an easy meal. Snatching weapons and armor, the group fought the monsterous creatures, slaying two, and wounding the third before it ran from them. In the morning, they packed up and headed into the Forest ahead of them. The strange mist continued even here, winding through the ancient trees they looked for signs of life, but saw only a few birds flying above the tree canopy. Several Days of travel in the forest yeilded little other results until the group was suddenly set upon by two ogres and a chained owlbear. Springing into action, Regred held the one holding the owlbear as most of the group moved to engage the 2nd ogre. He grabbed Ryan to squeeze her into submission, but an enlarge spell from Bellamin helped Ryan fight on a more equal footing to the ogre. While the owlbear drug it’s helpless master across the ground, the group pelted it with arrows and a few spells, eventually bringing it to the ground. Ryan with assistance from the rest of the group killed the ogre brawler, while his friend ran away, back into the forest, getting a few arrows in the rear for his trouble.

Continuing on in their haphazard wanderings the group came across a ruined stone building. After some searching and a little scraping at vines, they discovered murals on the remaining will depecting the Blessed Edrahil preforming some of his miracles. Figuring out that it must have been some kind of church, Wikket consecrated the ancient alter. Upon doing that, the low mist receded quickly out of the effect of the spell. Amazed at the effect, the group decided to rest there for the night.

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C.S.I. Grice

Wikket seems to have gotten capral tunnel syndrome from spending 3 months writing up scrolls, but he has a nice new horse to show for it. Sandolin managed to steal his way into not quite an unwelcome status in Stalog, but it was highly recommended that he go steal stuff somewhere else. He spent the remaining time in Edril stealing as much as he could. He ended up not being arrested, so that’s a good thing.

Our intrepid adventurers have reunited in the town of Grice. Even after a not so impressive Diplomatic display by House Blue, we were still able to convince the mayor to let us go investigate the mine to see if we could determine what happened to the miners.

Once at the mines, the Mayor freaked out and ran, they also discovered that Nanoc probably needs some kind of anger management. The mayor’s horse probably agrees as Nanoc took a swipe at it when the mayor rode by. At the entrance, they discovered the mine doors had been blasted open from the inside. There were humanoid footprints wanding around and then went back inside. Some of the prints ended at a wall. This drove Sandolin a bit nuts because well, he thought there had to be a door there. Anyway, the group starts mapping and investigating the mine and discover it is infested with large spiders. With little trouble, the group dispatches the spiders for the most part. They burned their webs and discovered the bodies of several miners. As they reached the lower levels of the mine, a huge mutant super spider attacked them. Fortunatly they were able to kill it. Investigation revealed this spider was definitely not natural in origin.

On the last level of the mine, we found massive amounts of mithril still in place. A passage had been opened into a Huge underground cavern. The group decided to stay at the mine and pull out as much metal as they could for a week.

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Strange Travelers

So few of our intrepid adventurers decided to leave Stalag early, Ryan and Ogio had splurged and bought a cart and a couple of horses to pull it, which Regred and Bellamin took advantage of to ride on with. Zubrod on the other hand had purchased himself a horse and came along as an outrider.

Before setting out they tried to find the strange rat-man in the crumbling north east section of the city. They do find his hovel, but not him, and with zubrod’s amazing tracking skills, it is determined that he left about a week ago heading north out of the city and towards the mountains.

So The motley bunch heads east out of Stalag after leaving a message for the rest of the party. The group sets their sights on Grice, while making their way through the greenish mist that still surrounds Stalag. They do not encounter anything strange or dangerous and after a few days of travel and they make their way up out of the basin into clear air.

Another week of travel, passing the occasional farm house and fields, nothing even remotely hostile approaches the group. On one of the last days before reaching Grice, the group does see a large ship sail out from beyond a small forest. The ship turns and sails towards them. As it approaches, the group saw that the ship is sailing through the ground as if it was cutting across waves of water. Also, the earth behind it collapsing back together as if nothing had happened. The ship slowed down and a Robed figure shouted down from the deck. Introducing himself as ‘William the Wonderous’, he inquired if any of them knew where Edrahville was, he hadn’t been to it in some time, and had thought it was around this area. Though the group didn’t know of that specific name, they did tell him about Edril, where most of them were from and gave him some general directions to it. William thanked them kindly and shouted around the deck. The ship began to move off to the south as ropes jumped to the strange wizards commands.

Finally, the group makes it to Grice, They were greeted by the town guard and allowed inside, they talked with the guard about any strange events recently and were told they should probably talk with the mayor. After having a nice meal at the inn, the group took a couple of rooms and bedded down until the next day and their meeting. They met with the Mayor of Grice who told them about a few of the problems around town, the nearby mine had been shut down after a string of strange deaths, there is also occasional river pirate trouble, which in turn caused problems with the Lizardmen Kingdom on the other side of the river. Nothing else major had been happening, although they haven’t had any news of edril or any other cities for some time. The group informed the Mayor of the troubles in Stalag, and of general news of Edril. They also asked about purchasing the Mine since it had been shut down. The Mayor couldn’t authorize that since it was under control of House Blue and the regent of the land had left town to head to edril recently. Asking about the history of the mine, the Mayor said he would give them access to the towns library, and there was also one of the surviving miners that lived on the edge of town. Bellamin stayed to look through the library while the rest of the group headed to see the miner.

Bellamin came across a few interesting tidbits in the library, one was that the current Mayor has had the position less than 2 months and the previous mayor was the regent and traditionally the regent and mayor have always been the same person. The regent was also the man that signed the order to seal the mine and he did it less than a week before leaving for Edril. The second thing Bellamin came across was a large, dusty tome titled ‘Cronicles of the Dragon Wars’ and the introduction lists the author as Edrahil.

Meanwhile, everyone else finds the home of the surviving miner, Gregor, a surly and damned ugly son of a bitch. After yelling at them for a bit to leave him alone, the group convinces him they are not here to make fun of him or to call him names, but genuinely want to hear his story. As one of the survivors of an attack, Gregor describes what lead up to it. The miners had dug down to a 6th shaft (level) when the attacks began, this was approximately 6 or 7 months ago. The attacks were infrequent and no one died just lights going out and someone being hit a few times before the were found alone and scared by other miners. Digging continued and around 3 months ago a 7th shaft was begun. This is when the attacks began in earnest. with in the first week 3 miners were dead with no trace left. In the next 2 weeks more of the miners disappeared, sometimes body parts, an arm or a foot were found, other times only blood splattered rocks. The last attack Gregor was involved in, on the 7th level, their lanterns began to gutter out. Himself, his son, and his neighbor, Samal, ran for the elevator up. Something grabbed Gregor and spun him around cutting his face while gripping him, his son leapt at the thing hitting it with a pick. Gregor watched the darkness as it wrapped around his son and split him apart as the light went out. Samal had grabbed Gregor and pulled him onto the elevator and up and out they went. The mine was shut down and a sealed with a wall the next day. Ryan also asks Gregor what was brought out of the mine, he coughs conspiratorially a few times, then offers to show them what was mined. Being careful to watch the windows, he pulls a brick out of the mantle of his fireplace and withdraws a hunk of soot covered metal. After brushing it off, he shows it to the group. A large chunk of silvery metal he cradles in two hands. He won’t let them touch it, and even though unfamiliar with the exact metal, Ryan can tell it is lighter than it’s size belies.

With all the information they can get from him, the group rejoins Bellamin and decide to head up to the mine before heading back west into the mountains. They also let the guards know about their companions that should be following them. heading north a few hours they reach the mines entrance about a mile from the river side. Going up to the entrance they find the it covered with a thick metal door that has been bolted into the rock with numerous bands both vertically and horizontally. Seeing no quick way into it, they decide to move on to the west.

Traveling a few more days the weather cools off, but they don’t run into anything strange, until coming across a mule and wagon in the middle of the plain. as they approach a single Goblin hops out the back and Cheerily greets them, and they find out he is traveling salesgoblin. Merik announces he has lots of wonderful knives, just right for their cutting needs. A little nervous about the situation, Ryan checks the wagon, but only sees dirty goblin sized things in it and figure he seems to be legit. After talking with him for a bit, they find out He was kicked out of a place north of here called ‘Cool’. He’s not sure how long he’s been traveling but he has seen sky island twice in the time. He also seems desperate to sell them something, and Regred flips him a gold piece for amusement.

Continuing on, that night on watch, Zubrod sees in the distance to the east what appears to be a Castle floating in the air, but it only stays there for about 10 mins before disappearing. A few more days of travel and the group gets into the foothills of the mountains, Suddenly a large rock crashes down near them as they are ambushed by a single giant. Quickly the group rushes to the giant while Zubrod fires arrows from horseback. A crushing blow is landed on Ogio, but Ryans good footwork and hits on the giant bring it’s focus to her. a few good spells from Bellamin and Regred as well as a few more arrows fell the big brute. With Ogio severely injured and an unknown land ahead of them, the Group decides to head back to Grice and wait for their fellow adventurers before heading back to the mountains.

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Trackers, Owlbears, and Necromancers, Oh My!

The Group found the nearby graveyard without trouble. Sandolin went into the graveyard and determined the location of the metal probe planted in this graveyard. It was already churning and the graves were filled already with the inky crap. Wikket decided it would be a good idea to try to capture some of this extra-planar inky ‘ectoplasm’ in a vial. Unfortunatly, he was grabbed and immediately started getting sucked in. Wikket was pulled out of the inkiness by the efforts of Nanoc and Ogio.

About this time, 20 skeletons began coming in to come kill whatever was there. The group assumes this was because trying to break their homes. At this point, Wikket redeemed himself by totally wiping out one of the 2 groups of ten with an impressive turn. In the mean time, Sandolin was beating on the probe and was barely managing to damage it. Nanoc put the final damage on it to make is stop grinding. While Sandolin stopped to look around at the graves, while Nanoc (in a an already raged state) decided to threaten him for not hitting the object again. So, Sandoling decided to move away from the angry barbarian, at least until he calmed down a little. The rest of the party finished off the last 2 skeletons that were remaining at this point. We dug up the probe and recovered 3 magic items (chain shirt, full plate, longsword) from the remains.

The group headed back to Stalag and updated Tawney. While in town, the rogue and cleric went looking for someone to identify magic items they found. Most of the powerful magic users had left with the Commander several weeks earlier. They did hear a rumor of a crazy man that lived in a ruined section of the city. They found the rat man in one of the few buildings remaining in the area. According to Sandolin later,to say this guy was crazy would be an understatement. He was completely out of his mind. After talking with him, and after his ‘discussion’ with ‘Marvin’, he agreed to identify the magic items. For the sum of 10 cracked black pearls, he was able to identify the items by rubbing rat meat on the items and licking them. While a bit gross, it seemed to work for him. Anyway, the items were all High-Quality, so they were happy and divided them up. Sandolin got the sword, Ryan got the plate mail and Nanoc got the chain shirt. Tawney also asked that they head out into the wild to catch up to Commander Wilhelm Foley and give him the new information about the graveyards.

While they felt it sucked trying to find someone with a 2 week head start, especially in the thick mist. Anyway, Zubrod did a fine job of tracking the guys. The group came across some undead owlbears which we were able to kill. Of course, Nanoc and Zubrod decided to take their revenge and sit out a round when the last owl bear was attacking Sadnolin. Anyway, we killed off the last one. Wikket decided he wanted some rotten owl bear meat to take back to the crazy guy, so he was a bit smelly. The group continued tracking until the discovered a huge number of undead in an organized encampment.

The group saw that no matter what this couldn’t be good. So, Zubrod and Sandolin were sent in after Wikket did an invisible to undead spell to them. They wandered through several hundred undead and found the necromancer they had seen back in one of the graveyards. They also saw a cave with humans in it and what appeared to be a barricade. TheyHeaded back to the rest of the group to make a plan. Bellamin sent his rat into the cave with a note. We discovered they were Commander Wilhelm Foley and the contingent that left Stalg with him. Together they formulated what they feared might be the dumbest plan in the history of plans.

They did the undead invisibility spell on everyone but Ryan and walked into camp to find the necromancer right before the attack. Ryan however circled around the camp to create some kind of distraction. After finding the necromancer in some kind of magic circle or barrier, Sandolin disarmed one of the magical wards on the circle protecting the necromancer. Unfortunatly, He got fried by a secondary lightning ward and lay there twitching for a while. At that point, Bellamin shocking grasped the back of the necromancer’s neck and Zubrod plugged 2 very fine arrow shots into the back of his head. This made one very dead necromancer. The undead started attacking anything near them and dispersing now that they were no longer being controlled. We ran for the caves and spent the next little bit in there while the more powerful mages wiped out any undead that approached the cave.

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