Ashfar

The Wave 28
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Session 3-1
The Battle of Saragost

Our heroes spent a fortnight in Saragost preparing themselves for the coming invasion. Valadria, Dernham, and Meldiriel spent several days researching in the Hall of Echoes, and Meldiriel and Dernham were each promoted to honorary captains of the city watch. In addition, Some evidence was discovered linking Count Crastic to the duergar by Dernham, and Meldiriel discovered reasons to doubt Sir Jeren Falconio’s loyalties. However, neither had enough information to prove anything.

Firedrake 7, 2721 – 5:00 pm

Having discovered the location of a Saragost Node under the city, Dernham led the others down into the Saragost sewers. Soon, they arrived at a conspicuous iron door covered with a relief depicting starlight shining on evil creatures. After a few failed attepts to open the door, Meldiriel touched the Sword of Starkweather John to the door. They heard a loud click, felt a wave of magic, and the door opened.

Inside, they saw a Magic Circle of Protection expire, and several shadows rose up from the ground and attacked them. Though the shadows tried to drain the life from them, our heroes prevailed. Funakoshi alone slew 3 of the fiends. The threat dispatched, they realized the room was in fact a node. It featured the same stones, one for each constellation. Knowing they had near access to a node made each of them feel a little safer, in spite of the large army of duergar waiting to kill them tomorrow.

Firedrake 8, 2721 – 9:00pm

The army that was bred in the underground caverns surged across the upper world. Rank upon rank, legion upon legion of grey warriors, remorseless and rhythmic as a vast machine, marched across the land. Chain mail and axe blades that had never seen the sun before now gleamed in the daylight. Shrunken, deformed faces snarled out at the world, tiny eyes screwed up in disgust at the unusual brightness. As you looked at this army of stone-grey soldiers, you knew one thing for certain. They would not be taking prisoners, nor would they be offering terms. They intend to take what they have come for.

In the rear ranks, you saw a strange sight. Burly duergar are carrying sedan chairs, draped with black and purple silk, decorated with woven silver thorns. These must be the commanders of the army, kept veiled from the last rays of the sun. There can be little doubt that Drow occupied these transports.

Lumbering along within the ranks of duergar were several massive figures. They had bodies like those of pale, flabby giants but their heads were bulbous metal spheres, like helmets. From the necks of the helmets extruded pipes that sunk into the flesh below, with discolored veins spreading out from the entry point. You had never seen such creatures before and can only guess at what they may be.

Darkness was gathering fast. The streets that had been so noisy and full of life were deserted of everyone save the patrolling guards on duty.

Outside the walls of Saragost, in the red rays of the setting sun, the enemy had come into view. The grey legions, flanked by the helmeted shambling giants, advanced towards the city walls with a slow inevitable march.

Head guardsmen shouted orders to waiting archers and creaking ballistae were wheeled into place. Quivers full of arrows were brought out of storage and the smell of wood smoke was strong in the air as the fires were lit under cauldrons of oil.

From the grey hordes beyond the walls, a low rumble began to rise. It was unclear at first what this was. You realized that it is the sound of thousands of grey dwarves making the same guttural, growling sound, like wolves about to kill. The earth vibrated with it.

Then, a single clear female voice rang out, which wasn’t that of a dwarf:

‘People of the City! Know this! We, your future masters, are not without mercy. Cast down your weapons and admit us without bloodshed! What good will it do you to waste the lives of your fighting men in a futile effort? Will you blindly serve these lords of yours, who are sending you to your deaths? Or will you rather accept us and be treated kindly under our rule?’

‘This army you see before you is but the merest shard, the tiniest splinter of the Chthonic Alliance, a group led by the Terror itself, born according to prophecy. Thousands stand here; tomorrow, they could be tens of thousands! Did you perhaps hope for victory? Hope is a bitter blessing. Certainty is better. We promise, as a race that honors law, to treat you mercifully if you spare yourselves this fight. If you know your history, you know that we never break our promises.’

‘I say truly, to those who now heed me, that the future for you is a good one. In years to come you will tell your children that you made the right choice, the truly brave choice. For, if you had not, you would have had no children to tell, but only the unending darkness of a fool’s grave. Would you rather have the cold earth for a blanket and worms in your eyes, or a warm fire, a mug of ale and your children’s laughter in your ears?’

‘Choose! Lay down your arms and drink with us this evening as kinsmen, or fight and fill the gutters of the city with your hearts’ blood! Five minutes you have to decide and that is all!’

An uneasy murmur ran the length of the walls. Men glanced at one another, not wanting to be the first to speak. The voice had clearly unsettled them.

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Session 3-0
Out-of-Game Session

Rose 17, 2721 – 9:00 pm

You are assembled before the Council of Saragost, who watch you in silence, waiting for their leader to speak.

‘After receiving your troubling report from Bronce’, Grandlord Yomah begins, ’we began making preparations for the defense of Saragost. However, we wanted to take this opportunity to personally thank you for risking your lives to warn us. You will receive a more… economical thank you as you leave.

‘You may like to know that Captain Severin has made a full recovery. Lady Arigane and her Order have been able to trace the poison to Drow origin. The assassin you captured committed suicide shortly after regaining consciousness.’ Grandlord Yomah pauses solemnly for a moment. ’Since you have already proven yourselves as useful, we would like to ask for you to stay and defend this city in any way you can. We wanted to take a moment and tell you exactly what you can do to help.

Sir Jeren Falconio speaks next. "I am in charge of the details of the military defense of Saragost. We will of course need every able-bodied person helping during the fight. However, we have an opportunity to place our trust in you, as it is unlikely the same people who warned us of the invasion would also be duergar spies. Therefore I have two opportunities for you.’

‘If any of you have leadership potential, I will need strong leaders to support me during the attack. If you would like to help with this, you would need to begin training with the men under your command now, so that they trust you when the duergar arrive. Also, in light of the attempts on your lives, I have placed Captain Severin in charge of rooting out any potential duergar spies. He asks that any of you willing to help in his intelligence gathering report to him. as soon as possible.’

‘If any of you prefer to fight with your minds’, Michael Dunsany says, ‘you are welcome to research the duergar, drow, or any other lore you require in The Hall of Echoes. In addition, Lady Arigane has offered the use of the Order of the Prism’s facilities for arcane research should you require it.

‘There is also one final favor we must ask of you.’ Grandlord Yomah rolls out a map, which you immediately recognize as the island of Chillhame. Towns and villages are marked on the map; you notice that almost all of them have been marked with a ring of blue ink.

‘These,’ Grandlord Yomah explains, ‘are the settlements which have now been warned of the invasion by yourselves, or which our messengers will soon be reaching. Thanks to your efforts, almost all of the island is prepared to face the coming threat. There are, however, exceptions. The villages of Astercote, Chalksmere and Vannondale have all been… strangely uncooperative. Our messengers report that Chalksmere is barricaded and has a warning sign before it, while the people of Vannondale appear to have given up talking to outsiders altogether. As for Astercote, we have heard nothing at all of it and the locals are muttering strange things.

‘These are not mere hamlets that might have been abandoned overnight. These are villages of many hundreds of people. We are gravely concerned, not only to know what has become of them, but also to alert them to the coming danger. Our messengers are efficient but they are not fit to send on expeditions into the unknown. We must therefore call upon the services of those who have aided us in the past.

‘We request that you ride out to these lost villages, investigate what has befallen them and ensure that the townspeople are properly notified of the invasion. We need the troops those towns will provide! We have precious few days left to us before the creatures from the north will begin their march across the island. Go quickly, for many lives depend upon it.’

‘We will keep you appraised of events here,’ adds Lady Arigane. ‘When the enemy is sighted, you will be the first to know.’

Count Crastic clears his throat. ‘It will also be a good thing, in our collective opinion, for you all to spend time outside the city instead of remaining continually in Saragost. It appears there are some here who do not appreciate the service you have done for us and would very much like to have quiet words with you about it. We would rather have you alive. There will be enough martyrs soon enough, I fear.’

Your business concluded, you are shown out by the footman, and each offered a pouch containing 100 GP.

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Session 2-2
Sounding the Alarm

Rose 13, 2721 – 11:00 pm

The group arrived in Churney-on-the-Green well after dark. As they were taking in the strange sights of the town, the grass and roots below them began growing up around their horses holding them in place. Everyone but Funakoshi jumped off their horses before the roots could grab them.

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Meldiriel noticed a cloaked figure that had cast the spell. She said “We come in peace”, and laid her sword on the ground. The cloaked figure stepped forward and introduced herself as Jass Cromlin. She snapped her fingers and the roots released Funakoshi and the horses. In a very friendly manner she welcomed them to Churney, and offered to give them a tour and a place to rest for the night.

At this point, Meldiriel began explaining the reason for their trip, warning Jass to take precautions and showing her the letter. Jass took the warning very seriously, and assured them that she would make sure Churney was properly defended. She invited them to stay for the night, and offered to feed them and provide fresh horses.

Rose 14, 2721 – 7:00 am

In the morning, both Valadria and Meldiriel felt very ill, though Meldiriel was holding up much better than Valadria was. Meldiriel went to ask Jass for help. She said they both had a nasty case of diphtheria, and with a quick spell, they both felt much better. After packing up some supplies, the group headed out for Hockton Barrow.

Rose 14, 2721 – 2:00 pm

Arriving in Hockton Barrow, it was apparent that the town was preparing for some kind of festival. The group learned that today was Hockton Barrow’s quarterly games. The two taverns’ rivalry came to a head each quarter, and the town expressed that with challenges of strength, agility, and fortitude. However, in true Hockton Barrow spirit, the main event was the archery contest, which was open to outsiders as well as long as no magic was used. The prize was the best crafted bow of the season, enchanted by an expert artificer. The town’s headsman would be quite busy until the conclusion of the games, so the group would need to wait until after the games to warn anyone about the duergar invasion. Valadria and Meldiriel decided to join in the archery contest.

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Both of them made it through the qualifying round easily. At the start of the scoring round, a hooded stranger offered to shoot last of all, with an added smirk. Valadria scored a respectable 6 points, but was outmatched by some of the villagers. Meldiriel however scored an impressive 13 points, and was the clear leader until the hooded man took his turn. Meldiriel noticed him casting a spell silently before firing his 2nd and 3rd shots. The judges awarded him a score of 15.

Meldiriel, backed up by Valadria and Funakoshi, explained to the judges that they believed he was cheating, and recounted what they saw. The stranger, while snarky, was cooperative in the judges cross-examination. Eventually, the Judges ruled that the stranger had cheated. Meldiriel heard the stranger mutter “You haven’t heard the last of this” just before he stalked away towards the northern gate. Traben decided to follow him.

After tailing him to the gate, Traben was suddenly struck with some kind of magically enhanced arrow and decided to retreat. Meldiriel was given the Masterwork bow, and was congratulated by the headsman himself. Meldiriel quickly explained to him the true reason for their visit and show him the letter. He began to make preparations for reading the town, and offered them master bows if they desired them. Guessing they could make it to Saragost around nightfall, the group decided to finish their trip tonight and left Hockton Barrow behind.

Rose 14, 2721 – 9:00 pm

A few miles outside Hockton Barrow, the group discovered a raided wagon that was being accosted by an ogre and a handful of goblins. They could hear cries for help from inside the covered wagon. Our heroes dispatched the goblins quickly, and the ogre soon after that. The man they saved introduced himself as Barnabas, and he asked for their help in getting to Hockton Barrow with a shipment of arrowheads. He offered to pay them 70 GP once they arrived if they would protect him and bring the bodies of his companions to be buried. They agreed to help him, knowing that Hockton Barrow would need to arrow-heads in the coming fight.

Rose 14, 2721 – 11:00 pm

Just as they began to see the lights of Saragost in the distance, a mailed rider approached them, his shield bearing the Saragost coat-of-arms. He introduced himself as Captain Severin and explained that he had been sent by the council to escort them safely to meet the Council. Though Meldiriel was suspicious of him, the group decided to follow him.

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As they neared the city, The saw a flood of tents and camps outside the main gates. These people were refugees from the towns and villages of Chillhame, denied entrance to the city because of strict rules that govern admission. Saragost, being a walled city that is already heavily built up, only has so much space to go around. Captain Severin sighed and explained that it is Saragost policy not to admit anyone who cannot contribute to the economy. ‘What that means is, the commoners get taxed to build a city so fine they’ll never get to see it, much less live in it.’

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Severin took them to the less popular western gate. He was quickly able to vouch for them and gain passage into the city. Severin pointed out The Tower of Undying Light as where they were going to meet the council at. However, he was taking them down narrow, winding alleys instead of main streets.

In one of these alleys, Dernham sensed something was wrong. He heard three crossbows fire, some groans of pain, and saw a crossbow bolt strike Severin in the side. Severin turned around in confusion, then passed out and fell off his horse. Two men fell out of windows on each side of the alley, once with a gangrenous cut, the other with a bolt in his foot. Traben and Funakoshi determined they were unconscious, and Valadria and Dernham realized Severin was in the same condition. The third assassin had already fled. The group collected one of the wounded assassins and Severin, and headed for the Council.

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After explaining themselves to the guards and being admitted, they quickly explained themselves to the Council, showing the letter as evidence. The council was gravely concerned by the news of of invasion, as well as the attempt on their lives. Obviously the duergar already have spies and agents at work in the city. Grandlord Yomah asked the the heroes stay in town for the time being. They would likely have need of heroes like them again soon.

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Session 2-1
Sounding the Alarm

Rose 11, 2721 – 11:00 pm

Funakoshi shared with the party that while he had been searching near the old windmill, he noticed it was guarded by several trained dogs. In addition, despite the worn condition of the windmill, there was a very high quality lock attached to the door. Traben and Meldiriel wanted to check it in the morning, but the rest of the group just wanted to get moving. The sooner they warned Saragost the better.

Rose 12, 2721 – 8:00 am

Leaving Bronce, they discussed which path to take. Once again deciding that Saragost was the most important to warn, they decided to ignore the minor outlying villages and just head straight for Saragost, only stopping in the 3-4 towns on the way. Dernham had reservations of his own about this decision, but he could see the logic of this decision.

After a couple hours of travel, the group noticed an overturned wagon and a woman standing next to it groaning and holding her side. Meldiriel noticed that the earth wasn’t churned up like you would expect after a cart crash. In fact, it looked like the cart had been wheeled up and gently tipped over. Meldiriel recommended that the group ignore her and move on, but Dernham and the others wanted to help (for a price, said Traben). As the group approached the woman, two well-armed men stepped out from behind the cart and demanded the group’s valuables. Funikoshi started a fight that lasted only moments, and resulted in the deaths of the two assailants, and a new suit of armor for Dernham.

Rose 12, 2721 – 3:00 pm

Later in the afternoon, the group arrived at Lichgate. The town appeared to be mostly a set of walls around a market, and most of the people lived on the farms that surrounded Lichgate for miles. After asking a guard for directions, they met with Apple, the Halfling sheriff. She listened intently to their story of the duergar invasion force and the letter fully convinced her. She recommended however that they stay and warn the Lichgate council, though it would take her a day to assemble them. The group decided that they could not spare a day and left.

Unable to reach Lower Scumsgrove before nightfall, Valadria was able to find a good campsite in the Frost Forest. The next day they were able to make it to Scumsgrove. Seeing how seedy and gross the town looked, Meldiriel decided to go with Tibbers straight to the other side of town. She could not stand being around so many filthy humans and half-orcs.

Rose 13, 2721 – 3:00 pm

Traben, being excited to be in a town that appeared to be filled with so many like-minded people, found warnings against theft in the secret thieves cant on nearly every storefront in town. Traben and Funakoshi decided to go to one of the local inns for information, why the others waited outside. Traben was able to gather the mayor of the town was a puppet, and the real rulers were the guild of merchants. In order to meet with them, they would need to speak to the constable, a man known for his enjoyment of brutal killings.

Funakoshi stepped out of the bathroom and into a troublemaker, who tried to start a bar fight. Funakoshi, being an accomplished martial artist, disarmed and wounded two of his assailants in a flash causing the others to flee. Traben was able to negotiate a guide to the barracks, and off they went.

Funakoshi was the only one brave enough to enter the barracks. After he entered, he felt he hadn’t been brave enough. The men before him were extremely well-armed and armored, and looked to be the kind of people who enjoyed murder. During a very tense conversation, Funakoshi was able to convince him of the duergar invasion and he led them to a meeting with the guild of merchants. Once again convincing them, they responded with verbal thanks, as well as a heavy sack of gold for each person present. After leaving town and meeting back up with Meldiriel and Tibbers, the group began the journey once more.

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Session 1-2
The Gathering Storm

Rose 11, 2721 – 3:00pm

At the news of missing children, Meldiriel, Valadria, and Dernham quickly offered their help in finding the child. Encouraged by this, the town leaders began splitting the town into search parties, quickly deciding to come back later to discuss the sword. Children were far more important. A rolling thunder could be heard in the distance. A storm was brewing.

Content Not Found: sam was assigned to a group searching near the windmill, while the rest of our heroes went to the mine, accompanied by the Constable, Davon Gaskell, and his Deputy, Morton Gimbert. Arriving at the mine, they search the abandoned buildings outside, but it was quickly apparent they were empty. As they approached the entrance to the mine, it began to rain. It began lightly, but soon became quite heavy. The group moved into the mine to look for clues.

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Soon after entering, it became apparent to everyone that Tibbers would much prefer to be out in the rain than in a muddy, enclosed space. Secretly agreeing, Valadria instructed Tibbers to wait for them outside the mine. Tibbers left happily.

Valadria, Dernham and Meldiriel discovered a room full of molding straw and rotten stacks of bags and barrels. Dernham thought it must be the old stable for the ponies. Meldirel opened a cask of wine turned vinegar, and Valadria got a face full of moldy oats when a bag ripped open. Dernham thought better about about perusing.

Meanwhile, Traben went around the corner and found a room sporting an iron vault. This was likely where the gold bars were stored after they were smelted. stepping inside to take a closer look, he discovered a recently burned candle and a disturbing message etched in the floor.

Help
Hobgoblins
P + J

Realizing this explained why the kids were missing, he went back to the group to show them what he found. The constable and deputy asked them to keep looking, while they were going to collect the other search parties and bring them here. Now alone, our heroes continued deeper into the mine.

Rose 11, 2721 – 5:00pm

A little way farther into the mine they found a split in the cart path. the path to the left continued an a normal incline, but the path to the right became very steep. Traben noticed the track was set to direct carts to the right. After backtracking a bit, he noticed marks in front of a blocked up cart, as well as another set of blocks, that suggested there had been another cart in front of it. As it was not here, it must be deeper in the mines. The logical choice was to follow the path to the right.

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After another 80 ft or so, they came to a large, square shape vertical shaft. The cart path ended abruptly at the shaft, and the missing cart was there, hanging precariously. To the right, a circular room house a large wheel with places for men or ponies to spin the large wheel. The wheel was connected to a chain moving along the floor and into the wall in the direction of the shaft. Traben realized it must be a lift or elevator of some sort.

Suddenly, a grisly figure rose out of the floor. The semi-transparent man was dressed in traveller’s garb, but his face was contortus in a rictus grin, and a ghastly slash went across his throat from ear to ear. He gave a soft, but frightful moan and pointed at the floor. After a moments hesitation, Meldiriel inspected the cart, thinking there might be something in it, but it was empty. Dernham suggested there could be a body at the bottom of the shaft, belonging to this poor shade. After a few moments, the ghost drifted silently into the floor, and the mine became as silent as it was before.

Deciding that the alternate path could contain a way to the bottom that didn’t involve a vertical drop of unknown height, they decided to investigate the path to the left. After only a few feet, they came to a mined out room sporting the end of the cart track and two frenzied hobgoblins. Meldiriel tried to negotiate with them, but they seemed scared out of their minds. A minute later, the hobgoblins lay dead, and Valadria and Meldiriel were tending to the minor wounds of the party.

Moving back to the shaft, Valadria magically gave the group the ability to climb on any surface, just like a spider. Removing their gloves and boots, they began their long descent into the depths.

Rose 11, 2721 – 6:30pm

After 150 foot climb, they reached the bottom of the shaft, which was flooded. The water was cool, murky, and about knee deep for all but Traben, who was up to his waist. A single opening led away from the shaft.

As she moved to the opening, Meldiriel nearly fell over something in the water. Kneeling to find out what it was, she lifted a badly decomposed body from the water. Valadria started feeling sick. The body beared a stark resemblance to the grisly specter they met earlier. After searching the body and the water around him, they found his badge of office, marking him as a tax collector from the capital city, Saragost. Deciding to come back to bury him later, Valadria cast a spell to slow further decay, and Meldiriel held onto the badge.

As they advanced further down the path, the water got substantially deeper, so that Traben was riding on Durham’s shoulders, and the water was up around everyone’s chest. Soon after, the passage widened, with a small outcropping that was above the water. On this outcropping, there were 3 Hobgoblins as well as a small boy who was hog-tied and gagged. The hobgoblins already had their swords drawn and from the looks on their faces, knew they had the high ground.

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“I am Talks-With-Fists”, the largest Hobgoblin began. “We will give you back the human boys only if you bring us gold. Let’s say about,” the hobgoblin made a face as if he were imagining the largest number he could, "2000 gold.

Traben, still riding on Dernham’s shoulders, asked, “Where is the other boy?”

“He is further in the mine with the rest of my men.” Traben did not believe him, and said so.

After some further conversation, the group told the hobgoblins that Traben and Meldiriel would go back to the town and collect the money, while the others stayed to ensure the boys were not harmed. However, after helping Traben back to the shaft, Meldiriel crept back to behind the group, out of sight of the hobgoblins.

Traben climbed the chain to the top of the shaft with relative ease, but at the top, he felt like he had forgotten just how far away the edge was from the chain. He leapt for it, came up short, but managed to catch the mine-cart hanging precariously over the edge. Though it wobbled ominously, Traben was able to pull himself to safety.

Going outside the mine, he met the villagers waiting for news. After recounting his story (including the tax collectors body) to the mayor, priest, and some others nearby, the mayor decided to start a collection from among the town. The leaders went about starting this process, leaving Traben to ponder if he should have revealed the body at this point.

Meanwhile, Meldiriel was trying to decide what to do. Deciding a frontal assault was too much risk, she look at the water. Murky as it was with sill, she should be able to swim under the surface without being noticed. She submerged herself and swam. When she surfaced, she found herself past where the hobgoblins were out of their sight. Though her friends heard and saw her, the hobgoblins remained unaware.

Before her she saw 2 passages, 1 straight ahead, and the other to the right. The small current in the water was definitely moving to the right, and it quickly came to an area that looked weak and cragged. The other also seemed to end quickly, but as Meldiriel got closer, it seemed the path turned down sharply, becoming submerged. She swam into it, keeping her hands on the ceiling, and it rose back up letting her into a room with stale air and absolutely no light. She climbed out of the water and walked slowly forward in the blackness. After only a few steps, she found a wall with a small boy curled up. The boy seemed petrified with fear. Meldiriel knelt to comfort the boy, and though he seemed eager for her company, he was not willing to go anywhere.

Traben and the villagers had managed to put together only 300 gold pieces. Traben was trying to put it in many sacks to make it look like more. While he was working, Father Bronson arrived with a chest with another 400 gold. These were the combined offerings of the village to help pay for the repair of the church. He would rather worship in the rain than lose these 2 boys.

The constable and his deputy would carry the gold down the mine, Traben guiding them. Some men from the village would operate the lift for them. Traben left instructions not to operate the lift for anyone but him or his party. With these ominous words, they decended back into the flooded mine.

Rose 11, 2721 – 8:00 pm

After reaching the bottom of the shaft, Traben and the Constables met up with the rest of the party near the Hobgoblins. The Hobgoblins directed them to place the chest on the dry ground. The other hobgoblins looked ready for a deception, but Talks-with-Fists was only interested in the chest. He opened it and made a show of trying to count it. However, despite the chest only containing a little over 700 Gold, He proudly accepted that it was all here.

Talks-With-Fists said that they could have the boy once he and his men were safely outside the mine with the Gold. Though Dernham put up some resistance, Traben stopped him, know that nearly the whole town was waiting outside. The Constables were to carry the gold up to make the exchange. The hobgoblins entered the water with weapons drawn, holding the boy barely above water. Shortly after the group started heading back towards the lift, a loud crash came from ahead, and a wall of water appeared rushing towards them. The group was quickly overtaken and lost track of where they were in the rushing tide of water.

Meldiriel heard the crash, a rumbling, then another crash, followed by a gurgling from the water in front of her. Eventually, some light came from ahead of her, and her elvish night vision let her see the room she was in. It was a small room, with the only entrance being the rapidly lowering water that she had swam in initially. Deciding to investigate, she magically bolstered Jed’s courage, and instructed him to follow her directions.

They left the room, noticed the light coming from the previously blocked passage to the left, and saw the party, the Hobgoblins, and the Constables slowly getting to their feet, all soaking wet. The Party and Constables drew their weapons, but the Hobgoblins had no weapons to draw, they had been holding them during the rush of water. After a short attempt from the Hobgoblins to flee and grab their weapons, they surrendered. After entrusting the gold and the boys to the Constables and helping them to the lift, Meldiriel and Dernham executed the Hobgoblins.

Dernham and Valadria then began to explore the room they had been washed into. Valadria found a gate leading to a wide staircase that looked as if it might lead to the surface. Dernham found a letter on a nearby podium. The letter was in undercommon, and only he could read it.

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Realizing that this was bigger than they could handle, the group decided to go back to the Golden Nugget and explain the letter and the room they found to the mayor. He called a town meeting asking the town what they wanted to do, and the group made several recommendations to flee for the capital. After some back and forth bickering, the mayor took the group aside and offered them horses to go and warn Saragost of the invasion and any other towns they could along the way. Deciding to wait until the morning when they were rested, the group turned in for the night, reflecting on the strange circumstances that put them in the current situation.

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Session 1-1
The Gathering Storm

Rose 11, 2721

Dear friends, Let me tell you a marvelous story. It is the story of heaven come to earth, the epic struggle between the light above and the darkness below. It is the story of of heroes, unwitting, and even unwilling, fighting and struggling to save everything we know.

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The beginning is foggy, even in the memories of the heroes themselves. They arrived at a circle of stone’s shrouded in mist. None of them had any memory of how they got there, but they knew they felt at peace in this place. They looked around at each other, not knowing each other…yet.

Spread around the circle they stood:
-Dernham, a Templar of the goddess Mysila
-The Lady Valadria, Marquess of Farpoint in Caldraza, and Druid of the Forest of Meere
-Tibbers, the Brown Bear companion of the Lady Valadria
-Meldiriel, the Elven Crusader of the goddess Alterran
-Funakoshi, Kenjon of the secretive Eagle Order
-Traben, a gnome skilled in the art of “Asset Relocation”

As they stood around recovering from shock of not knowing how they arrived, they heard a female voice call to them from the mists.

The time of The Equinox is come. My children… I am sorry. I have done what must be done. You deserve answers. I am far… too far from you. You must learn who you are. The land is yours. The people are yours.

This place is sacred to you. Sacred to the stars that you are. There are other places like this. From the time when people remembered. Heed me now. If any of you should fall, then bear him to the stones, and the soul will be able to enter the flesh… once again. But make haste, for flesh that is spoiled can never be made whole.

Know this. There is a force against you. Already it gathers, already it senses your return. Seek The Sword of Starkweather John… it lies near, waiting to be claimed… when that is found, you may begin to understand, to remember.

With those ominous words, our heroes were left alone and confused in the light of a brand new day.

Rose 11, 2721 – 7:00 am

As the mists cleared, they saw they were on a small island very close to a mainland. A sandbar allowed passage to the mainland, and they could see a settlement in the distance. Deciding it was the best place to begin the search for the Sword of Starkweather John, they headed for this settlement.

However, shortly after crossing the sandbar, a black mist arose around them. The mist formed itself into dark humanoid shapes. The shapes turned into fully formed goblins! The goblins shrieked and moved to attack.

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Moments later, it was apparent the dark goblins were no match for the heroes. After a quick burst of healing from Meldiriel, the heroes traveled to the settlement, which they discovered was called Bronce. When they asked a passerby where they were, he told them, Bronce, on the island of Chillhame. Valadria Remembered that Chillhame was an island to the west of Caldraza, and considered to be a “frontier country”.

The group decided to take a short rest at the local inn, the Golden Nugget and try to learn what they could. Traben and Funakoshi were able to gather some general info:

• The headman of the town is Murphy Goodchild. He lives in a large stone house at the west end of the village.
• The local priest is Father Bronson and he uses his own house for religious services, since the church collapsed and the village cannot afford to build a new one. The town worships the gods of the Pantheon. Alteran is the patron god of the region.
• The island where the stone circle stands is called the Tump.
• Other towns around this area have been attacked from time to time by monstrous humanoids such as goblins and orcs. Bronce has always been left alone.
Starkweather John was a hero of old time, who came to the village near the end of his life, to fight some dark enemy about which little is known. He was victorious but the poison in his wounds eventually overcame him. He died in the village and was buried nearby, up in the hills. Nobody ever goes up there these days, as the hills to the west are dangerous – there are savage humanoids up there, which make trouble for the villages round about. Knowing the ways of monsters, the tomb is probably desecrated by now.
• The town was prosperous until the mines ran out of gold; then it was left to rot.
• The mines are not safe. They were dug too quickly, without proper planning. A hundred years or so ago, there was a rainstorm that went on for weeks and the lower levels were completely flooded.
• The ghosts of dead miners now haunt the old mines. Nobody ever goes up there.
• Nobody here has ever heard of shadowy goblins appearing out of the earth and attacking people. They are quite willing to believe in them, however.

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After some discussion of what they learned, Valadria, Dernham, and Meldiriel decided to go check out the tomb of Starkweather John, while Funakoshi and Traben decided to hang around town to try to learn more.

Rose 11, 2721 – 10:00 am

A short hike into the nearby woods was all it took to locate the tomb. The tomb was very basic, Consisting of only 4 slabs of stone. Meldiriel noticed an inscription on the tomb, covered in moss. Valadria was able to magically generate some acid to clean the moss off of the inscription. The inscription, in common, read:

_Stranger, trouble not the bones,
Resting here beneath these stones.
Here lies one of mortal part,
Who held a star within his heart.

And when They come that came before,
The Stars shall fall to earth once more,
To stand against Her might again,
Who rises from Her sleep profane.

And when conspirators assail,
The throne, then these may yet avail,
To cast from his exalted place,
The foe that bears a dead king’s face._

As the group decided to open the tomb, Traben and Funakoshi discovered some more rumors back in Bronce:

• Father Bronson has several illegitimate children in the village. They say he is not really a priest at all but an impostor playing the part of one.
Starkweather John’s tomb has a curse upon it. The last person who tried to break into it was turned into a ghoul. He still haunts that spot to this day.

Opening the tomb, the group discovered that robbers had already struck the tomb. Only a jawbone, femur, and hand remained. However, near the tomb, Tibbers drew their attention to a scene of violence: blood and gore covered the grass, javelins stuck into trees from opposite directions, and 2 sets of tracks leading away from the scene. One of the trails led out into the wilderness, the other seemed to lead in the general direction of the mines of Bronce. The group decided to go back to Bronce to share what they learned and see what the others had discovered.

Rose 11, 2721 – 1:30 pm

Traben and Funakoshi decided they should go to the church and talk to the priest, as they had learned some suspicious things about him. Upon arriving, they saw the the villagers had not exaggerated the damage to the church. Though the walls were sound, the roof was mostly laying on the floor of the church. a few moments after they arrived, Father Bronson arrived and greeted them. Funakoshi, who had been planning to “shake down” the priest, now hesitated because of his initial friendliness.

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After a few moments of awkward conversation, Father Bronson invited them to his home to speak further. However, as they neared his home, the others arrived from the forest. Meldiriel, feeling drawn by a sense of longing, veered away from the others to visit the church. Valadria followed, and Durnham as well. Seeing this, Father Bronson apologized and headed to the Church, saying he needed to greet the faithful.

Meldiriel, arriving first, was overcome by a sense of belonging. She knew this wasn’t just religious conviction (being no stranger to it as a crusader), but this was as if something that belonged to her lay very close. When Valadria and Dernham arrived, she was already moving away the rubble in the center of the ruined church, clearing out an area. Father Bronson arrived, not quite understanding all the strange behavior of the new arrivals.

Meanwhile, Traben and Funakoshi had decided to check out some of the dwellings in town to see if anyone was hiding anything, be it secrets or valuables. The priest’s house showed no signs of hiding places, or even security. The mayor’s house, though having more basic security, also seemed to be plain and empty of secrets. They decided to join the others at the church.

It was a strange scene indeed. Meldiriel looked like she was trying to stab the Flagstone floors with her dagger, having cleaned the central area of the church around her. Father Bronson was protesting to having his church violated, though not too loudly as Valadria and Dernham ran interference. Meldiriel, a crusader herself, kept assuring him that no desecration was taking place, but she still quietly prayed for mercy.

Finally, her dagger caught the latch under the secret flagstone. A hush fell over the group as Meldirial removed the false flagstone, and gasped. She reached in, pulling out a very mundane looking, but very well-cared for sword. Father Bronson looked on with awe. Meldiriel asked, “Did you know this was here? Do you know what it is?”

Father Bronson said he did not know it was hidden here, but he knew what it was. However, they needed to speak with the mayor before he said more. After they agreed, they went and found Murphy Goodchild at the Golden Nugget. Father Bronson whispered an explanation to him. His face went serious and he came up to Meldiriel.

“What do you plan to do with the sword?” Murphy said. Meldiriel explained that she believes it belongs to her and that she planned to keep it. Murphy pleaded with her not to take it, saying the sword was their only protection. He reminded them about the bands of goblinoids that attacked all the surrounding settlements. He said they were only safe because of the sword, and if the sword left, they would be vulnerable again.

As townspeople overheard, they began to watch the exchange, until a small crowd of people had formed. Most seemed to know what the sword was and many seemed to agree with Murphy’s explanation of the protection of the town. Meldiriel asked again, “What is this sword?”. Father Bronson said that it was indeed the Sword of Starkweather John.

As the crowd was murmuring and our heroes tried to decide what to do, a woman came into town frantically asking people something in a hushed whisper. After everyone she asked shook their heads, she noticed all the people standing around. She said, “What’s happened? Have you heard something about my children?” Murphy asked her what she meant and she explained that her sons, Jed and Callum, went foraging early in the morning. They were supposed to have returned by lunch, but now its almost dinner-time and she has seen no signs of them.

The townsfolk were murmuring loudly. The newcomers had spent a great deal outside of the settlement at the same time the children turned up missing. Now, they strolled into town wanting to remove a priceless artifact after digging up the church. Our heroes began wondering how to get themselves out of this mess…

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