NIL

Chapter 1: The Ancient Castle

The Journey North

Sir Dorian, right-hand man of Lord Roland’s now-deceased father, was sent on a mission to recruit a group of capable and trustworthy men to investigate a newly-discovered castle in the Northland mountains, just a day’s travel from Eoh. Count Ernar Fostrin, through his contacts, is able to secure a position as the expedition’s lead, and everyone else is tasked with his protection. Corgan, an old acquaintance of Sir Dorian, is brought in, along with Corgan’s most recent traveling companion, Octavian. In addition, two dwarves, Tolth and Glirn, are brought in, as well as a Lowland elf that nobody seems to like.

The group sets off, and on their way to Eoh, they come across a group of dwarves sent by Lord Rogrim. an opposing noble who seems set on stopping the group from reaching the castle. After the battle, Octavian learns that Tolth has a secret.

Finally making it to Eoh, they recruit Erg, an Open-sky Orc that was part of the group of miners that discovered the castle. They travel to the castle where Fostrin quietly disposes of Erg and they begin their exploration, running into a lost farmer/fighter by the name of Aleksei. Having been separated from his friends and being hopelessly lost, he joins the group in the hopes to make it back home.

The Castle And Its Bowels

A giant is encountered, but left to its own devices. Apparently, these devices involve eating a rope bridge. The group is effectively stuck in the castle.

In the lower levels of the castle, they meet Ceracia, a prisoner of a group of Orcs. They dispatch the goblinoids with little difficulty (though Tolth falls in battle) and Ceracia reluctantly joins the group, trust being a big issue at this point.

The goblinoids had been blasting their way to the lower levels of the castle, so the group finishes what they started. Beyond the collapsed walls, they make a discovery: an ancient chamber, containing carvings and symbols that suggest that Aedon was no greater a deity than any of the smaller ones being worshipped in the land. In the carvings, all of the deities, Aedon included, are prostrating themselves before the avatar of an ancient elvish lord.

Not only that, but the sealed chamber contained an elvish skeleton in ancient armor, a magical ring on its finger and an ornate dagger where its guts would have been. At this point, Ernar attempts to ditch the group, recruiting Ceracia and Glirn with the promise of bringing back Tolth. Their attempts to leave the castle end up making things worse as several towers collapse, ending the narrative of Tolth and Glirn.

Meanwhile, the rest of the group has ventured deeper. They discover an ancient rune on the floor of the castle from which salt water appears to be pouring. They delve further and find a circular room containing the names of ancient heroes etched into the walls. Some undead then crawl from the pool in the room’s center and encourage the PC’s to move on.

Eventually, the lower levels of the castle lead to a river which in turn leads to caverns. Count Ernar Fostrin is lost to the group when a rope bridge fails to support his weight.

As they rest, Ceracia hires the group in the name of Lady Korax to which they agree with little fuss.

Traveling onwards into the caves, the group discovers an advancing column of Deep-dweller Orcs. Corgan scouts ahead from the group and is not seen again. His last words to the group are: “I’ll be right back.”

Flash!

Suddenly and without warning, Valcina and Bohees appear out of nowhere in a flash of fireworks and confetti. Moments later, the elf vanishes in a puff of equally jovial smoke, only to have Rexar standing in his place. Before anyone can actually figure out what is happening, the Orcish column sends out strike teams against which the party defends.

As moving forward is no longer an option and going back is a dead-end, the group decides to go up and finds a crevice among the stalagtites that leads to the surface. They climb through to an abandoned village where they spend an evening, then almost die in a fire.

The Deep-dweller Orcs appear to be moving through the mountains as well as beneath them, and so the party decides it must make a quick escape. Aleks finds a carriage being pulled by Owl Bears, so this becomes the vehicle of escape. A Wyvern is loosed on the characters and an epic fight ensues down the mountainside.

Almost losing Rexar, the Wyvern is felled just as the carriage careens across an ancient, broken stone bridge. Reasonably far from the advancing Orcs, the party rests, nearly getting wiped out during the night by harpies nesting underneath the bridge.

The Journey South

Climbing down and heading south, they encounter a “heroic” hobgoblin who is reputed for having slaughtered many innocent people. Oddly, no one seems to have a problem with this and happily sit with him by the fire. Rexar promptly poisons the shit out of him and Valcina takes possession of his black scimitar.

Moving on, the party discovers that there are several columns of advancing Orcs, and they are all heading south. A side-effect of Valcina picking up the black scimitar seems to be that everyone now knows heroic tales about her, and the advancing column of Orcs stops to admire her. During this very bizarre encounter, they meet Stag, a mercenary who was staying in a village the Orcs burned on their way south. Having been hit by a poisoned arrow, he awakens to find himself surrounded by Orcs and a small rag-tag group of adventurers. He joins the rag-tag group. Whether or not this was the wisest choice will never be known.

The Orcs find themselves entranced with Valcina and she manages to convince a few to take their own lives. Before things turn into a bloodbath, a figure in white armor rides up and orders the Orcs to kill the party. The Orcs awaken from the reverie and squads are dispatched to hunt the now-fleeing group.

A scuffle in the woods has the party emerging victorious, but trapped between to advancing columns of Orcs. They travel south, wondering how they might outrun the golinoid army and warn the land, when they reach the south mountain wall. An ancient tower leads up to a ruined stone city where they also discover a docked airship just as the Orcish army finds them.

The Flight Home

The party launches the airship despite not knowing how to operate it. As they plummet through the sky, they manage to get it airborne just as a young black dragon catches up to them. The ship’s lower levels house a canon which Valcina attempts to load with the black scimitar, to no avail. Octavian recovers it.

With Rexar at the helm of the ship, they race towards Sulosia as the dragon tears apart the ship. With a well-timed maneuver, they fire the canon into the dragon’s neck after it rears its head.

Now free of both the threat of the dragon and the comfort of control, the ship soars out-of-control towards Lake Sulosia. Farewells are said, spells are cast, and the party braces for impact.

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Chapter 2: Unfolding Pages

The Return

The party crash-landed in Lake Sulosia just outside the main city under the watchful gaze of the city guard. They were quickly fished out and brought to Lady Korax’s estate thanks to Ceracia, where they were given accomodations and supplies.

There, they are given leave to request magical items from the sorcerer Agagrim, a very reluctant and uncouth man who ultimately does as asked. While there, Valcina takes this opportunity to see if she can’t get her memory back, and so, while in possession of the Dark Blade that causes insane popularity, she has her mind scanned and probed by the old sorcerer.

The next day, the party awakens to find the magical items as they requested them. However, what awakens them is the noise of a tower collapsing, and they soon learn that Agagrim, who was residing in Green Briar all this time, has died and his tower has collapsed. Shaken but not deterred, Lady Korax hires the party to go to the monastery of Desormonom to retrieve a book that may have something to do with the castle that was found in the moutains.

The party gathers the remainder of its needed supplies and heads for the college of the mages where they teleport to Green Briar, shaving two days off their journey.

A Grave Matter

Between the monastery and Green Briar lies the town of Rain Vale, through which the party travels. It is a dark and stormy night, however, and it is only when the carriages are halted halfway through town that the party realizes the place is overrun with undead. The horses are either killed or spooked, leaving the heroes stranded and forced to fight their way out.

And fight they do! They take to the slick and dangerous rooftops, using distractions and brute strength to make their way through to the edge of town. They manage to break free of the town and make the rest of the journey to Desormonom on foot.

Out of nowhere and for no discernible reason, Rexar is suddenly grabbed by the upper torso of a grey-skinned woman who disappears with him as suddenly and inexplicably as she appeared. The party does not break stride.

A Monastery Interrupted

They reach the monastery to find it has become the site for the refugees of Rain Vale. The area is ill-suited to house so many, and the head Abbott has forbidden anyone from staying within the monastery itself. Instead, people are housed on the grounds and in the adjoining buildings.

The party members decide to make themselves useful while waiting for a meeting with the Abbott. Aleksei helps with gardening to provide food while Octavian helps with the healers and the healing of the wounded and Valcina scouts with Bohees.

Eventually, they meet with the Abbott and learn that the book they requested was stolen by bandits. As a sort of mixed blessing, the bandits tried to escape from the monastery’s catacombs and never re-emerged, so the book is likely still down there. Taking Jamieson as their guide as far as the entrance to the catacombs, they head down.

They find that the floor of the monastery catacomb entrance has a massive rune on it not unlike the one they found in the castle up north. Pressing on, they convince Jamieson to come adventure with them beneath the catacombs. It turns out badly, and they find themselves forced to decapitate him when a wight turns him into a monster.

Again, without breaking stride, they reach the final vault of the catacombs where the bandits remain still — as statues. Octavian is the first to discover the cause of this, a discovery which costs him his life: a basilisk roams the vault. After a brief struggle, the rest of the party manages to slay the beast and return with the statues of Octavian and the bandit that had the book.

As they return to the surface, however, they realize the undead from Rain Vale have mobilized and are attacking. What’s worse, there’s been a sighting of Southland orcs moving up the coast towards them. Taking a carriage, they charge off into the undead with the goal of slaying the five that apparently control the columns of undead.

They slay two of the five creatures before beating a hasty retreat back to the monastery. Though the other three monsters are still controlling some of the undead, the death of the other two is enough to provide everyone with a safe exit. Abandoning the monastery, the refugees head north while the party heads northeast, to the city of Bren.

The State Of Affairs

They reach Bren to find it in a strange state of martial law. There are guards everywhere, readying for war, but the houses and homes appear abandoned and empty. They meet the captain of the guard who requests their presence at the church of Aedon, but through disagreements, they end up fighting. The fighting stops when the combatants reach an uneasy truce.

Meanwhile, Nuna and Tosser get themselves thrown in the dungeons where Nuna discovers that Lord Rogrim, their competitor from earlier, is also a captive. He informs Nuna that the head priest has usurped his position and has been kidnapping people and locking them in the church. When he tried to resist, he was thrown in here.

Nuna frees them both and he tells her to inform the captain of the guard that he has been freed. They and the party end up in the slums of Bren, where they meet the Queen of Bones, a blind elvish oracle. From the slums, they plan to retake power from the priest and a revolt breaks out. In the fighting, the party manages to fight their way into the church to find that the basement has been transformed into something akin to a vampire factory. The townspeople are all being turned into vampires.

Fire ensues, just as a man in shiny armor, backed by worg-riding elves, arrives in town and charges in. The party grabs some boats and heads down river, only to be split by the current.

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