Bloodright : Rise of the Border Princes

Paths of the Fallen

“Nations, like stars, are entitled to eclipse. All is well, provided the light returns and the eclipse does not become endless night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul.”

1st of Greenflocks, 1049 TR :

The Beginning of the End

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

30th of Frostend :

Bring Out Your Dead

“If it were possible to cure evils by lamentation and to raise the dead with tears, then gold would be a less valuable thing than weeping.”

27th of Frostend :

The Blood of Roses

My father used to say there are four things that tell the world who a man is: his holding, his mount, his consort and his boots.

9th of Frostend, 1049 TR :

Shadows in the Vale

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

27th of Alturik, 1049, TR : The group spent several days helping the colonists settle into their new home. They discovered the snowreach-rangers had allowed Umberto to bring a small troop of scouts to the castle, where they would help protect the area. He answered several questions regarding the area, telling the rumors of Mahb the Mountain, a giant seen only on misty fog-bound nights that wailed and cried through the night.

Fangrik had the subdued griffon Brightfeather dragged into the cellars and stuffed into the Griffon Pens below the castle, effectively trapping it until he could gain its trust and train it as his own mount. He distributed several lesser magicks to his followers, the Gnolls, including leather armor and spears.

Lord Taumus of House Daure fed his Ghost Horses, and spent some time poring over the maps and local history tomes.

Ash Cogward started to work with the village smith in cleaning the castle smithy, though it was mostly destroyed, and planned on how to build an alchemists shop in the wreckage.

Drew the Avaricious helped organize the guards and asking about local trade goods.

After several days, the group met and organized the colonists and castle inhabitants in a group meeting that packed the Great Hall. Nilfur the Bold was made the Castellan, while Sir Roderick the Green was made the Captain of the Guard. A Village Council was formed, placing Tomas the Priest, Master Pol Marblehold and Farmer Hamdil Cathen as the lead members of the village. The colonists were offered whatever supplies they might need from the castle’s extensive stores, to rebuild the village as a place of commerce and safety. They were also allowed to pick their own future homes from the ruins of the village, and be exempt from taxes until next harvest. Each farmer was offered 30 acres of land (excluding the orchard). Market days were declared to be in Spring and Autumn, with local Coun cil meetings at each full moon. Everyone left content.

The group followed their maps and found a copper deposit high on a neighboring western mountainside, and made plans to travel north and east to the village of Frosthelm to seek new allies.

1st of Frostend : Following their maps, the group travelled for several days, and managed to uncover two more resource sites; a Dark Wood grove that might be harvested for their rare wood, and just south of the village of Frosthelm, a collection of the rare Frost Berries, that Ash had been seeking, which granted a 25% discount to making potions and healing kits. The group also secretly visited the Quarry marked on their maps, finding the place guarded by a small force of ogres and hobgoblin engineers who were busy mining something.

3rd of Frostend, the group arrived at the outskirts of Frosthelm, finding the place under siege by a force of over one hundred orcs, from The Bad Moon Tribe. They had encircled the village in small groups of ten in each, having burned-out the nearby farmers, before surrounding the fortified hold and begun preparing siege equipment’ ladders and an onager…

…to be continued…


“Take a look at a castle. Any castle. Now break down the key elements that make it a castle. They haven’t changed in a thousand years. 1: Location. A site on high ground that commands the territory as far as the eye can see. 2: Protection. Big walls, walls strong enough to withstand a frontal attack. 3: A garrison. Men who are trained and willing to kill. 4: A flag. You tell your men you are soldiers and that’s your flag. You tell them nobody takes our flag. And you raise that flag so it flies high where everyone can see it. Now you’ve got yourself a castle. The only difference between this castle and all the rest is that they were built to keep people out. This castle is built to keep people in.”

22nd of Hammer, 1049 TR : The continuing adventure, wherein the Fierce Creatures slip over the pass and survey the village of Shadowfang – “Pebble” and its fortress Stonefist – Gateway to The Mark for the first time. They found a hidden, broken way into the castle, wending their way through the UnderCellars, and up into the castle itself. In their journey, they discover that the ancient founders of the castle’s cellars were not human, but some sort of “snake-men”, and they have left their mark on the ruins.

In the upper Bailey, they trick their way through the outer buildings and walls, and sneak directly into the Great Tower, confronting the local nobleman, Lord Urrevor Koth and his small army of hobgoblin and gnoll mercenaries. Taking the soldiers apart, unit by unit, they are able to capture the castle, and take the surviving mercenaries prisoner, offering them positions as soldiers in the castle garrison. Also, the group rescue several prisoners, including on Umberto, a local leader of the Snowreach Rangers, and several young women servants, from Tir Feldar.

Returning to the depths, they confront several senior soldiers and casters allied to the local lord, a hobgoblin shaman of the Ice Goddess, Enkara, who escapes, and a necromancer, Vistola, the Gray, whom they slaughter along with her wolf and elemental guards.

The group then returned to Tir Feldar, making a snow sledge with a pair of Ghost Horses as draft animals, and offered to hire several girls to help in taking care of the castle proper. First, however, they decide to take an extended trip to the capital at Pelargir – City of Ghosts, to officially lay claim to the castle and nearby lands through their Charter of Rights and Entitlement.

They undertake a harrowing journey through constant snows, along with Lady Alimira of Blackhill, intent on making a detour to take her to her home north of Pelargir. Several cold days later, the group pulls into the capital, and manage to get an audience with Lord Ciramir, presenting their Cahrter, and recieving a small force of spearmen led by Sir Roderick the Green, who is hosting a collection of colonists raised by the Charter’s sponsors. He has sufficient monies and supplies for the group for the Winter, and is ordered to make ready to leave in a week’s time. The group then spends a couple days resupplying themselves, procuring some arcana and other goods, and then left north to the Northern Border Lords.

Along the journey on their snow sledge, they encounter an ambush by a young red dragon that is laying waste to the region, but escape and continue north to the Jarldom of Blackhill, discovering that Alimira was secretly the local Jarl’s daughter. They are treated well, informed of the depredations of a marauding red dragon, and told that their help in rescuing the young heir, has ensured the Jarl’s and his fellow Lord’s assistance in some future task. The group then returned south, taking another short trip into the Great Basin and a hill west of the road, where they uncover one of the lost gates (the Autumn Gate ) accessing The Phookas realm. They re-enter the capital, claim their goods and colonists, and left as a large caravan of guards, wagons, carts and pack beasts on the journey back to The Howling.

Returning to Tir Feldar in late Alturik, the group gather their servants, and plan for the harrowing multi-day trip over the pass. First, they pay the locals to make a hasty repair to the bridge over _Red Gorge _ just south of the town, taking a couple days to rest. While this is occurring, the adventurers travel up the pass to Summit Tower, and clear the caltrops scattered across the roadway of the pass. Then, Fangrik with Ash on his back, clamber up to the top of Summit Tower, and begin a dangerous combat in the ruins of the tower’s top chamber. Subduing the creature, named Brightfeather, they use rituals to bring the creature down off the tower, tie it in ropes and bring it back down to Tir Feldar as a trophy. They then buy numerous chains to more securely bind the creature, along with a small flock of sheep to feed it.

The next day, the group slowly wound their way up the dangerous snow-bound Snowreach Pass, reaching Summit Tower some days later, tired and exhausted. They sacrifice several sheep in a feast (and for the hatred-filled Griffon). While resting, the group explores the ruins of the mining camp, entering the abandoned mine, and exploring further into its depths. Ash uses his technical knowledge to activate several rusty mechanisms to help them. Deep in the depths, they uncover a trapped Nixie, Invee Ablehas – “Lilac Moon”, and skillfully manage to free her from her prison, though she promises to help them in return when she can, giving vague directions to her home “…some miles to the north, under the mountain…”.

The group hurried down the south side of the pass, making good time, before arriving late in the morning to Stonefist. They settled the colonists in teh castle offering supplies from teh castle to help, and went to sleep after a long, exhausting journey in late Winter.

Beyond the Gate of Winter
“The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck.”

“The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck.”

1st of Hammer, 1049 TR : Leaving behind a noble lord of the elven tribe bound to The Phooka, the group slowly wound their treasure- and supply-laden caravan of horses through the Gate of Winter, single-file.

Beyond the Gate of Winter, the group encountered a snowy, hard-blowing storm across a high mountain valley, somewhere south and east of The Trackless Heights. Located just north of a broad forest vale, the stone archway faced a rugged series of stonelands. Far to the north, west and south lay a series of harsh snowy mountains, while east were the vast stretches of a thick pine forest. Off to the south-west could be seen, however, a pass rising into the vastness beyond.

Making camp around the portal, the group placed their horse-lines inside the woods, and sent Fangrik off to investigate the nearby terrain. He returned a couple hours into darkness, with a report of ruined warmachines, bits of rusted weapons and bones to be found everywhere; they were at the site of a great battle fought many centuries ago. The group settled down, and placed guards.

Less than an hour later, a pair of slavering trolls burst into the horse-lines trying to take down a meal. They were attacked, but the PCs found they ignored most wounds, healing almost as soon as they took damage. Eventually Lord Taumus of House Daure discovered the value of his fire spells, and once bloodied, the starving trolls turned and ran. Fangrik loped after one, however, and slew it, and the group burned the corpse with torches, slaying it utterly.

2nd of Hammer, 1049 TR : Travelling up into the pass to the south-west, the group soon encountered a pair of stone giants playing “catch” with immense boulders. Content Not Found: kuck spoke with them in Giant, and the group quickly became friendly enough with them, by sharing food and drink. Gromm and Islander were young, but had chosen to leave their homes deep in the Trackless Heights, searching for a place to call their own. They gave directions to the nearest human community, the Lordship of Frisia, located some three days journey south through the pass.

4th of Hammer, 1049 TR : After another couple days of travel along the faint trail leading over the pass, the group camped over-looking an unknown forested valley. Snow continued to fall., and the weather remained harsh, with icy winds blowing up from the south-east.

Once more, during the night, a pack of four trolls tried to slip into the camp to get some horses, but Fangrik sniffed them out. Fireballs, Burning Hands and hard driven melee assaults proved enough to bloody three and chase them away, while one fell to the axes, spears and guns of the players. While the corpses burned, the group decided to hunt the others down, and forestall any other nightly attacks (plus the chance of loot).

Tracking them to their cave lair, they found a rudely appointed place with leaf and hide beds, and smelling of carrion. The group continued to employ fiery attacks, and carefully cornered each one, slaughtering the lot and burning their corpses with flames. It was noted that the trolls all seemed unusually gaunt and starving. Located in a large trunk half-buried by debris, they found a mass of gold and platinum coins, and an unknown potion bottle. The group returned to their camp and their servants, and slept quietly the rest of the night.

5th of Hammer, 1049 TR : Another exhausting day of travel, highlighted by crossing the main pass around mid-day, the Fierce Creatures managed to find their first real site of civilization, the town of Frisia. Nestled on a ridge just below the pass, but above a vast swath of pine woodlands, the town’s smell of woods smoke and flickering fires in the fading daylight were so welcoming.

Approaching across the frozen moat, they encountered a pair of guards at the gate who asked their business. Lord Taumus presented their charter, explaining he was seeking lodging for the night and trade with the town’s craftsmen. The guard looked over the charter, and quickly organized an escort to the lord’s keep, taking them directly there.

They soon met with the local lord in his own hall, one Lord Niklas Friger, and his retinue, including the enigmatic Milkan Federman, his advisor and court mage. The group were warmly welcomed, fed, and given lodging in his hall for as long as they might need. In particular, he related to them the trip they might need to claim their holdings at Stonefist – Gateway to The Mark. He mentioned a tradepost two days south, at Fort Vakhund, followed by a three day trip west to Tir Feldar. Beyond, they were informed, lay the villages of Havenford and Fellwater, and then numerous small thorps and travel inns until, seven days later, you could reach Pelargir – City of Ghosts, capital of Cygnus – The Swan Kingdom along the Darkwine River.

6th of Hammer, 1049 TR : The group gathered supplies in the early morning, and then left Frisia early enough to get a good start on the trip south. Numerous woodsmen were encountered, heading along the road before travelling into the woodlands, but the trip proved quiet.

7th of Hammer, 1049 TR : Arriving in the dark, dragging their carts and string of horses through the snow, the PCs managed to reach Vakhund. The trade site was open, and after paying a small fee (4 gps!), they were given a clay token stamped with the date, showing the payment was complete. The group chose a spot “less filthy” than most, and arrayed their horses and carts around their camp.

Eventually, another caravan arrived from the west, coming in late, but they were known to the guards at the tower, and after some talking, settled in for the night. Squirrel tried to sneak close, but wasn’t able to hear much beyond casual talking about happenings to the south. Just as the PCs put down their heads, a shadowy figure appeared at the edge of their firelight, revealed to be a gray-skinned, pale goblin, named Mortzva. After quick introductions, (and food!), they spoke with Mortzva about their travels, and he sagely warned them against hunting trolls. He told rumors of “…fire demons raiding Tir Feldar on Nightmares!”, but the group dismissed this fact as fancy. He also claimed a local band of orcs were raiding the area, known as “The Swift Axes”. The group then settled in.

Suddenly, Fangrik noticed Mortzva sit upright, nose and ears twitching. He looked at Fangrik with alarm, and then scampered into darkness, with a whisper of “Ocrses Comes!”. Suddenly, two bands of orcs broke into the clearing, one aiming towards the caravan, while another charged into the players. A sudden fireball from Lord Taumus slew many, and a sharp skirmish ensued, with the slow death of the raiders. Taumus noticed human archers among the raiding orcs, who quickly slipped into the darkness. Among the other caravan, the attackers broke away suddenly, and when the PCs arrived, they found the caravan master, one Master Rothammer dying from a poisoned wound, which no one was able to help stop. They had taken his daughter.

The players quickly found that the caravan was headed to Frisia where the master’s daughter was to marry a local merchant’s son, securing an important trade deal, and binding two important merchant families. The group spoke briefly with Sir Stiegler Stalwart, the local noble lord, and when they expressed an interest in pursueing the raiders, he promised to look after the group’s servants and stock for three days, before he would send them back towards Firsia.

The group set-out almost immediately, leaving Squirrel, Aaron and Kruck behind to watch the groups belongings, while Fangrik sniffed after them, leading Ash and Lord Taumus in pursuit. They travelled quickly (at least as fast as Cog would let them) along the frozen stream, that led back deeply into the woodlands for several hours. Eventually they reached Mejketek, close on the heels of the orc raiders.

Approaching the three goblins in heavy furs on watch, the group asked after the orc raiding band, and was ushered in to see the great goblin chief of the Mudroots, Cherktrag. After concluding the PCs would pay to follow after the orcs, the old maester summoned a pair of large mammoth tusks, and proceeded to (for a handful of copper and silver coins) summon a ritual linked portal.

8th of Hammer, 1049 TR : As dawn was breaking, the group watched a portal appear between the tusks, and the three slipped inside. Beyond was another snowy forest glade, and the portal had opened between the massive skeletal remains of a mammoth. As though keeping watch over the portal, its bleak bones were festooned with tied ribbons of cloth and feathers. The tusks provided the gateway into the rest of the world. Beyond, a trail led off into the forest.

Following the only trail they saw, the group quickly entered another clearing, this one dominated by a massive earthen, snow-covered mound with a central pillar of raw stone. On either side were smaller stone barrows, and beyond lay a crude wooden building with a mud and stone chimney. On the far left of the mound, lay a barred prison wagon, its wheels removed and placed on stone blocks. Several guards kept watch on the opening to the large earthen mound, eyeing the party.

Fangrik charged to the attack, the others following suit. With more orc warriors appearing from the barracks (?) building, along with a horde of skeletons from the left-hand barrow, and then soon more orcs and leader types from the other barrows, the group was quickly swarmed and overwhelmed. Try as they might, they could not get away. Eventually, Ash turned invisible and slipped away to the west, while Fangrik managed to lope off into the eastern forest. Taumus fell to orcish mangs, and was captured. Collectively, the group was eating their carefully hoarded Norish Apples at an incredible rate, and one of them saved Taumus’ life, bringing him back from near death to unconciousness.

Fangrik and Ash wandered the forest, trying to find each otehr, but failed, with Fangrik fidning his lone status disconcerting. He is, after all, a pack animal.. Eventually, Fangrik stole as close to the barracks as possible, spying within. He noted Taumus was being kept in the prison wagon along with an older couple and a dwarf, chained to the bars. Within the barracks, he found a single room filled with orcs, goblin servants, and a couple human archers. They were eating and drinking and gaming over handfuls of copper coins. Beyond, a large room held what appeared to be oxen. One side had a collection of trade goods. and ale.

By midday, Ash and Fangrik found one another again, and planned a raid to free Taumas and the others. They noted which orc bore the warning horn that seemed to summon the skeletons, and using the cover of the prison, they crept close to the three guards. Talking quietly toa bound and gagged Taumas, they slipped underneath the prison wagon, and while Ash fiddled with the lock, Fangrik charged the three guards to cover him.

They cut down the horn-orc, but he still managed to get a call out, summoning more orcs and the skeletons from the closer barrow.He got the door open, and went directly to Taumas, tossing the old woman a knife to cut his bonds and then moved to unchain the dwarf. Taumas slipped out, casting his few remaining powers to help keep the guards at bay, while more skeletons climbed out of the one barrow to join the fray. The dwarf quickly tossed the old man on his back and ran for the forest, followed by Ash. While Fangrik tossed the old woman on his back, Taumas cast one last spell and then the group ran fro the forest’s edge. Their enemies did not follow them. Prison-Break successful!

9th of Hammer, 1049 TR : Taking a long rest, the group made a pitiful camp off the east of the bandit’s holding, sharing their food and Norish Apples liberally. The prisoners introduced themselves as Marriana Applecross and her husband Ulrich Applecross. The dwarf was Nilfur the Bold. Needing rest afer their long ordeal, they camped for most of the day, healing wounds and planning on how to proceed.

That night, the group planned to steal the horn from the guards before they could warn the camp, with Ash proving his skills by stealing Fangrik’s own spear, right from his hands before he realized it. It was like magic, apparently. Endure Elements was cast on the prisoners and players to keep them warm despite a lack of blankets and real winter clothing. The older couple remained behind, while Nilfur said he would see about foraging for some berries or something to help.

The three adventurers slipped close to the three guards, and Ash quietly managed to grab the Horn from the guard holding it, before he noticed. A grand melee ensued, wth all three warriors falling to the player’s spears. Moving inside the larger of the mounds, they found a charnel house, and fought a couple more guards and a shaman, later identified as “Pejznog”. The fight was brief, but fierce, culminating in a fight over the bound person of Evanna RotHammer, the young lady they had intended to rescue all along.

Looting the chambers, they recovered an assortment of looted coins and jewellery, but little else. Their young captive revealed that the orc “chief” was actually a shaman, and the one they’d just slain was known as “The Flayer”, or his assistant.

The group returned back to their small camp, now laden with some supplies and blankets, and soon came upon a group of seven orcs holding the old senior coupe hostage, readying them to become a meal. The group charged, and in the opening round, Nilfur came charging from the woods brandishing a heavy club to assist the PCs. The fight proved relatively quick, wiht two trying to flee, but they were hunted down by Fangrik and slain.

Nilfur armed himself with orcish armor and weapons, while the group passed-out supplies and made camp. They soon returned back to the bandit’s camp, entering the small barrow where they knew the chief laired, and slipping down into its depths, past the door and into a series of cleared catacombs, now turned into a living quarters. They quickly cornered a pair of guards in a narrow chamber, and making short work of them, proceeded to killing the chief himself, Gnarg. In addition to several scrolls written in Giant, they recovered a Vicious Spear +2 wielded by the chief, and they secured another cache of supplies, including a large number of polearms, some gems and jewellery and a large collection of Arcane components for ritual casting (1500 gps worth!). In one small chamber was a permanent Linked Portal, but the group knew neither where it went nor had the means to activate it…

Returning to the barracks behind the main mound, they barged in, and discovered it was more like a mercenary tavern, run by a “retired” orc bandit and his companions, named Dzeegle. After some coins got them some roast pig and ale, the group returned to their camp, gathered their followers, and made their way back to the old chief’s lair, where they reted in relative security underground.

10th of Hammer, 1049 TR : After a peaceful night, the group discussed their options. Deciding to get more information, the group used Taumas’ Comprehend Languages ritual, and deciphered the scrolls. One was a Ritual – Raise Dead, while the other was Ritual – Linked Portal. Both scrolls could be employed as books, but were written in giant and slightly above the player’s levels. The other was a letter written in Giant that was from one Vistoli to Pjznog, talking about their communal successes in raising undead forces in The Master‘s name. It discussed, in a formal manner, the various herbs and materials recently found useful (wherein Nightshade featured prominently), and related _Vistoli’s_ efforts in creating a “Shield” ritual.

After Taumas managed to stop choking on his tea, the group realized this might be the same “Master” they’d encountered on the other side of the mountains…

From there, the group investigated the portal link at the mammoth, where they came in, and then returned to the barracks. The denizens of “Dzeegle’s ignored them, mostly concerned with their gambling and drinking. Dzeelge himself was approached and informed of the recent demise of the local “landlords”. They all seemed rather uninterested. They discussed where they were, exactly, discovering they were i something called “The Tassel Forest”, about four day’s ox-wain journey north-west of Frisia. Yes, that Frisia.

Eventually, they managed to negotiate buying the prison wagon, some supplies to turn it into a sledge, and a pair of oxen for two platinum coins. Fangrik gave them a handful of coins for some blankets and ale to assist their followers in their trip. They spent the remaining day turning the wagon into a sledge with pine runners, and rested that night in the chief’s lair, once again.

11th – 14th of Hammer, 1049 TR : Travel through the forest was hard, but uneventful, amidst the constantly falling snow. By the 14th, they reached Frisia, and again spent the night in the local lord’s hall, reunited with their servants and friends. Apparently, Kruck had grown weary of waiting, and had chosen to wander east, looking for clues about his kin. He promised he would return when he had some answers… They expained the destruction of the orcs in the northern woods, and were rewarded with a scroll from the Frisian Content Not Found: mangai for 100 gps in local services and supplies for destroying The Swift Axes.

15th of Hammer, 1049 TR : Using their reward, they resupplied and stocked-up in foodstuffs, blankets and other goods, adding to the pile of supplies they had on the sledge. Nilfur offered to stay as a guard, and the old couple promised to help cook and do basic chores for the band until the adventurers claimed their landhold at Stonefist – Gateway to The Mark. The group then set forth down the trail they had come previously, several followers and an oxen sledge richer.

16th – 17th of Hammer, 1049 TR : The trip had been uneventful, with no traffic due to deepening snows. Despite the danger, they encountered a deer herd around noon of the 17th, and Fangrik returned with a buck for dinner that night.

Reaching Vakhund again, they managed to convince the guards they were who they said they were, paying an additional 13 sp for the ox-wain and other passengers. Their camp was cold, but uneventful.

18th of Hammer, 1049 TR : Travelling on across the Treecut Creek and its toll bridge, they made good time making camp without incident. That evening they met Mortzva again, who talked about the dangers in Tir Feldar, and pleaded ignorance regarding “The Master”, but cryptically stated that sometimes it was best not to look too deeply or ask too many questions… He happily shared their venison and made pleasant small-talk about the weather, eventually being shown Fangrik’s new spear, and offering to “decorate it” with some goods from his pack for a small fee. Fangrik bought various feathers, beads, and colorful leather strips for a handful of coins, while Ash bought the goblin’s _Potion of Healing. It proved to be a restful, dreamless night.

19th of Hammer, 1049 TR : The group managed to travel without incident, passing traces of a herd of elk. The group contemplated how many deer and other wildlife were travelling from the mountain heights, searching for food.

20th of Hammer, 1049 TR : The trip to Tir Feldar finally ended as the sun was descending into the distant mountains over Pelargir. The small village seemed smoky with fires from its stone hearths, and was surrounded by snow-covered terraced fields of grapes and numerous stone-marked pastures for its local goat herds.

A series of screams reached the ears of the party, revealing trouble ahead. About a mile off, they saw a woman come running from the broken western gates, followed promptly by a horseman, wreathed in flames and riding a white-glowing black horse with a skull for a head. The beast rode down the woman, lancing her, and then wheeled and rode back into the village. Leaving the servants and wagons behind, Ash and Taumas dismounted and tried to help the woman from death’s door, while Fangrik loped into the village. Passing into the center of town, he found things broken-up, screams and sobs from various houses, and five women tied by their hair to the central well. In the distance, about a dozen flaming figures could be seen riding hard for the eastern pass up The Howling. Their speed was immense (24"!), and they quickly rode out of site.

While the others entered the village, and began taking in the situation, Fangrik cut the women from the well, and asked what was going on. “It’s The Ghost Riders, my lords… please don’t eat me…”. The group managed to get the attention of Dierdrui MacFeldar, who brought them to the side of her dying father. Having taken a wound early in the bandit’s raids, in early Echos, it had gone septic and was poisoned. There proved to be nothing the adventurers could do (a frelling 1 – critical failure on a Healing Check), but they made him comfortable, and gathering their servants, left for a night in the inn to rest.

21st of Hammer, 1049 TR : The group awoke the sounds of a loud clamour and the inn abuzz with word of Reeve Fionn’s death last night. Some glanced at the adventurer’s with fear, but none said anything openly. After breaking their fast on cold roasts and tea, they began to plan for the following night’s attack.

Fangrik scouted off towards The Howling, but found no tracks of any kind, hinting the skeleton horses rode above the ground. Taumuas noted they raiders didn’t leave any melted snow behind, hinting their flames weren’t real, and they realized demons wandering into town every other night to tie up people, take some away and torture the others was odd demon behaviour. After talking to the others about the bandits, particularly to _Diendrui after her father’s death, they learned that the radiers only killed people who fought back, and had long since slaughtered the town’s militia and almost anyone who had the desire to fight. Active resistance to the threat was limited to barricading themselves in their homes and repairing the gates every so often. The raiders took whatever they wanted; foodstuffs, ale, textiles, and sometimes, maidens from the houses they robbed. They came almost every other night…

Plans were made. It was decided to use one of Ash’s Magic Circle rituals to seal the western gate, and bottle them with an ambush at the eastern one. Discovering exactly what they were was difficult, but Taumas’ superior knowledge of undead hinted that making the circle impervious to “Natural” creatures probably covered everything. The group spent a couple hours preparing for the fight, and made sure their followers were safely secured in the inn.

Hours passed, and eventually when the sun began to go down, sending its light across the western mountains, a group of riders quickly approached from The Howling, using their “floating” ability, and leaving a trail of snow behind them. As they approached the village, they split into two groups, probably to best to hem their prey in, by entering through both gates. The group on the west side approached the gate carefully, gabbling back to each other in vaguely Goblin speech. The group noticed the “falmes” were orange cloaks and brightly colored feathers and cloth that waved and moved with the movement of the horses, making it seem like they were on fire.

As they entered the village gate, they dropped a ram being held by the two front riders, and rode forward with some degree of caution. The group leapt out and attacked them with spear and spell, blowing their Horn of the Horde, which confused the skeleton horses severely. Dropping a fireball and opening a Fountain of Fire among them, they quickly chewed into their ranks, taking out first one rider, and then severely wounding and slaying the leader in their midst. As their riders fell from the saddles, each mount ran back to The-howling, abandoning the battle. With all three remaining riders aflame (for real), and bloodied, they fled back after the riderless horses. To the east, they tried bashing in the warded area with their own ram, but quickly abandoned the ram and the idea, and fled back up the valley.

The adventurers stripped off the armor and weapons of the leader and his warrior, and revealed to the local villagers that the “fire demons” were just cleverly disguised hobgoblin warriors. Lord Taumas offered the weapons and armor of the fallen to whomever wished to take up the mantle of a warrior and bring the fight to the bandits… Silently, everyone stared down at the ground, weeks of desperate fighting having battered the spine from them. Eventually, his rousing speech led one lone young man to take up the fallen troopers weapons and armor, and the local militia now had a single recruit…

The village gathered together at the inn for a night of celebration, each one thanking the PCs for tehir efforts. But the Fierce Creatures knew this might only be a lull before the full might of these bandits came down upon the adventurers and the village like a Hammer. They needed a plan…

Into the Feywild

““Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring…”

Wherein the adventurers journey to a realm of the Feywild, protected by The Phooka, an ancient Fae and Guardian of his own Realm of the Feywild. The true origins of The Panoply of Narwen are revealed, and an opportunity to enter the northern wilderness of Cygnus – The Swan Kingdom, bypassing the snowy passes of The Beast Shards is granted.

The Panoply of Narwen
"Keys to the Feywild, Keys to Danger and Wealth"

27th of Uktar, 1048 TR, Late Evening : The mystery surrounding Brightflame was an unanswered question, and the group discussed their knowledge of the issue. They realized, they had never pursued the Maid Thelka, and what she might know of the issue. The group visited The Broken Hilt Tavern, and after meeting with the patron of the place, managed to bribe their way into getting her exclusively to themselves for the evening. Over honey mead and fine wine, she answered their questions, and laid out what little she knew.

Her grand-mother, the Widow Parikin was once married to a great local ranger, by the name of Corvan. In addition to the lost secret of harvesting Norish Apple, he was said to have access to teh Feywild, and was on good terms with the elves. They both shared ancient tales of the elves and other beings with her, and chief among them was the tale of The Panoply of Narwen.

Narwen, it seems, was a great Druid from a forgotten Druidic Circle (its name lost to history). He was said to have great power and riches, and chief among them was his “Panoply”, a collection of relics and lore that brought him strength. These relics were said to be tied to the ancient elements, and acted, in some fashion, as a key to his realm of power. It was believed, this was in the Feywild. She claimed, according to her grand-mother, that the sword, Brightflame was a key to finding the Panoply, gathering them, and then using them to access the Feywild and its many riches hidden there.

Suspecting the sword and Panpoly were somehow tied to the blue flame seen in the Spirit of the Wood Inn, the group decided to investigate the ruins and see what they could do to collect the relics. They selected supplies, and planned to leave on the morrow.

28th of Uktar : Travelling through the snows of the deep woodlands south of Paradise River, the group reached the ruins of the Spirit of the Wood Inn. Searching the place, they cleaned the area around the flames, and Ash boldly presented his blade, Brightflame to the great bronze bowl of blue flames. The Whisp appeared, and after a soft, sigh, disappeared and reappeared next to the door. The group gathered and followed, where it disappeared and reappeared again outside down a path. Following the Whisp off into the forest, they eventually, after some hours reached a strange glade.

The spot was an open forest clearing, though the hold of Winter was broken here, with everything rimed in frost, but the deep snow kept at bay. It was dominated by a crude stone altar built as a dolmen – a stone slab supported at either end by smaller stones in its center. It was flanked by two rough stone monoliths, with whorls and pictures chiseled into its surface in spiral patterns. The alter and entire glade near it, was over-grown with a thick growth of vines and tree-roots. Just beyond the altar, lay a massive stump, cleaved and hewn as though once having been a massive ancient pine tree, broken-off above its roots.

Approaching the altar, they were swiftly surprised as a large viny growth rose from the area and the mound of vegetation began to try and engulf the characters, one-by-one, while it sprouted little thorny growths, some spewing lightning, and others shooting poisonous barbs. The group, using fire and thunder attacks did extensive damage to the creatures, eventually hewing them apart and burning the growth to charred timbers.

Fangrik and Kruck dug about in the ashes around the altar, finding nothing of note, while Taumus and Ash searched the altar and flanking menhirs. The two scholars found the pictograms to be runes of some sort, ad using their ancient knowledge of Draconic, translated into a series of poems, believed to be the locations of the other relics of the Panoply.

Two miles towards the sun’s first fires, the earth’s embrace will still its ire.
A league to the south in sacred mother’s home, the royal water is returned to its own.
Southeast four miles the image flies, atop forest giant in azure skies.
Lofty stone reaching higher, holds in its grasp the sacred fire.
Six miles and some at forest’s heart, where name and namesake no longer part.

The group puzzled over these riddles, and examining their map, decided they were direct guides to the artifacts. They decided to camp around the tree stump for the night, and held a “cold-camp”, watching for intruders or Whisps.

29th of Uktar : Heading east, they broke camp searching for the first of the riddles, and found the small cave burrowed into a steep embankment, right where they expected it to be. Inside, they found the slaughtered, frozen corpse of a cave bear, and behind it, a small stone shelf holding an open wooden coffer meant to hold a wand… now empty. The Wand of Earth’s Ire was missing. Despair struck the group, as they realized they might have waited too long. They searched and found tracks of four horses, and several booted feet, one of which was small and booted.

They followed the third clue, which they felt was closest according to their maps, and quickly found themselves in a large stand of older growth forest, with tall cedars. Carried on the breeze, a strange thumping sound was heard, and it led to a massive, hollowed cedar tree towering above the other trees nearby. A truely massive forest giant, its hollow center was obvious, and among the lofty branches at its height, was a heavy leather case, swaying in the wind and thumping on the hollow tree.

Fangrik quickly scampered up the cedar’s side and noticed there was something tracking him from inside the tree. He reached the scroll case, and grabbed it to be confronted by a large insect-like creature that tried to eat him. After attempts to lay eggs in him and tear off pieces of his flesh, it took a couple swift spear thrusts to the noggin, and fell off the tree to its death. Fangrik returned to the ground and opened the case to reveal the Codex of the Firmament, which was given to Aaron to take care of.

Heading back to the Druid Grove, the group planned to re-think the 4th clue from the central location. Along the way, they tripped over an ambush of half-a-dozen hunting goblins, though only one escaped, the others were slaughtered. The group eventually reached the grove and thinking through the fact the clue had no directions or distance, they decided it must be here somewhere. Fangrik climbed up to the top of the right menhir and, sure enough, in a hidden niche at the top lay the Breastplate of Sacred Fire, which Kruck claimed.

The group decided to sleep , and camped back at the forest stump again…

The Master Behind the Maze
"There is always two, the student, and the Master..."

23rd of Uktar, 1048 TR : The group convened with Drew the Avaricious, getting him to hawk there few treasures, and arranged to have their rooms and warehouse slot for another ten-day. They began interrogating Lady Alimira of Blackhill, finding-out her past, and any reasons why she had been kidnapped, and by whom. She wasn’t much help, but the group concluded that she had been valuable enough that the kidnappers had insisted she not be harmed… and getting goblins not to eat her or otherwise do anything to her meant they were highly motivated by someone not to…

Then the group realized something. The goblins from The Monastery of Magos had only had a few handfuls of copper coins among them, but also had a cache of silver nuggets in their possession. The only other silver nuggets they’d found, were being mined by the goblins in the “Goblin King’s Mine”… Someone had been paying-off the “Monastery Goblins” with silver from the “Goblin King”… Perhaps the rumored “Master” was, in fact, real…

While the rest busied themselves with various personal tasks, Ash Cogward and Fangrik decided to go to Quarrytown and see what rumors they might uncover. They wandered about, and eventually settled near the fire in the central tavern they’d visited before. As night grew dark, they listened about for any rumors, hearing about the magical properties of the local baker’s bread (drugged?!?), and the mystical man who lives high on the Quarry’s heights, one Goazaar. SOme claimed he was a mage, others a priest of Magos, the God of Magic.

The pair then clambered up to Goazaar’s shack high on the side of the quarry, and found the old man blowing smoke-rings on his veranda, despite the cold. After a few passing insults, (apparently he finds it insulting everyone thinks him both a mage and a priest… “I mean, can’t an old man just enjoy the stars at night without being labelled a wizard or some such”…) they settled into a casual comradeship, and the pair were able to get a promise from him to help answer some of their questions, if they would get the local courtesan’s free of their contracts from their “master”…

The pair returned to Quarrytown and headed straight to the Courtesan’s Guild’s tent, where they paid 1 gp each for the privelege of a lady’s companionship… “appropriate” to their tastes. Larkka, a tall petite blond took Ash, and Tokanu, a buxom brunette to Fangrik, each into their private chambers. Fangrik tried to get his girl to talk, but she was insistent upon having a go at him, so he wrestled her into her sheets, tying her up and gagging her. Taking her into Ash’s chamber, he found his attempts less than successful, with Ash helpless, having been wrestled into a compromising position, while Larkka had her way with him. After waiting for the two to finish, he Fangrik smuggled Tokanu outside and had her point-out “The Master’s” tent, meaning Rikar the Raven. She warned that they’d never get close to him, since he always escaped every attempt on his life, having his “Ravens” sacrifice themselves to get him away…

24th of Uktar : Letting the girls go, they returned from Quarrytown, stopping long enough to acquire some rolls from the bakery, just as it was opening, and slept a few hours in The Palisade before returning back to The Keep.

With the dawn, the group met again in The Inn of the Prancing Pegasus, and compared notes. They decided teh best way to keep Alimira safe was to hide her “in plain sight”, keeping her as though she were just another of Lord Taumus of House Daure‘s servants. They rented a couple cheap apartments along the southern castle wall of the Outer Bailey in The Keep, since it would save money, and moved the girls into it. They gathered some supplies (along with a thick winter coat for Alimira), and left the girls, under _Alimira’s_ care, a pouch of coins for incidental expenses (21 gp, 20 sp and 40 cp). The group made preparations to return back to the site of the orc ambush, since, it seemed, this was possibly the back entrance to the Goblin King’s Mines they’d looked for but never found.

25th of Uktar : Despite the hard, blowing storm outside, the group headed back up the trail into the mountains above Quarrytown, looking for the site marked on their map with a mining symbol, or, at least, the pile of orc corpses they’d left by the roadside. At the site of the frozen corpses (now half-buried with snow and solid as rocks), they left the trail, and headed into the forest.

Up the trail they found an old mine-head, with tumbled shacks, and a guard watching just inside the open mine beyond. Fangrik snuck up along the mountainside, and just as he thought he was being sneaky, heard Ash and Taumus just behind him, which, of course, alarmed the guard. He shrieked a warning about there being “…thirty intruder elves and an elephant!”, and a battle began. After promptly removing the guard at the entrance, the group found a winding cave entrance shorn with timbers, that opened into a large cave organized into a camp. In addition to various supplies and a warm fire with supplies of firewood, they found a pair of horses, about a dozen bandits and a mage. The cave was sealed by a large porticullis.

While Fangrik struggled with the gate, eventually performing a heroic effort to open it (a 20!, and assisted by Squirrel, who also got a 20!), Kruck, Aaron Fisher and the others slipped into the chamber and laid into them with spells and blades. Ash disabled the portcullis open with his thievery skills and the battle turned very strongly against the bandits, despite their apparent skill at arms. Indeed, during the fight, they showed great skill and co-ordination in their defenses, with halbardiers guarding the archers and mage, while a leader-type warrior waded into the fray with zeal.

Finally, their forces being taken apart by spells and ranged attacks, the mage and a couple of his followers tried to employ a floating elevator platform to slip down into a lower cavern. Fagrik, in a brave display of acrobatic prowess, leaped over one of the pack horses, and landed next to the fleeing troop, taking one archer with his spear. As they dropped into the pit, he scaled down the chain easily, skewering the mage and crouching over the body, frightening all of the survivors. Taumus blasted one archer from the pit’s rim into charcoal, and by the time it reached the bottom, the survivors had surrendered. Fangrik noted a pallet along one wall of the chamber, sitting on a stone shelf to the north, along with a collection of supplies. Several other passages led from the chamber. He gathered the bodies onto the platform, and with Kruck’s help managed to get the platform pulled back up into the upper cave.

The group sealed-off the platform mechanism, tied-up the prisoners, and piled the bodies outside in the snow. They secured the belongings of the dead (including 118 sp, 12gp and various weapons and armor), and piled them next to the other supplies in the chamber, and tied-off both horses, intending to use them to take these valuables back down the mountain. Then the group settled into a lengthy interrogation of the prisoners.

The survivors (one archer and a pair of halbardiers), claimed to be soldiers from Cygnus – The Swan Kingdom, who were under orders from the now-dead mage to watch Frandor’s Keep and its trade for some purpose they weren’t privy to. They had come to this cave, following the mage, slaughtered a half-dozen orcs in the cave, and dumped their bodies down into the pit. It seemed the mage had been meeting with someone (or something) down below, and had been camping here ever since. Something about their stories, however, did not seem right. They were lying about one aspect of their story, but the group couldn’t tell which. The group secured them tightly and setting a guard, slept.

26th of Uktar : Taking a careful extra time (and thievery check), Ash made certain the prisoners were tied tightly together, and then the group left Squirrel to keep an eye over them. The group then gathered aboard the platform, and travelled back down into the lower caves. They found a large open cave that had evidence of mining work. Along the north was a stone shelf with an old pallet, and several collected supplies in a bundle. The entire floor of the cave was covered in milky water about an inch deep. The roof was strewn with glittery pockets of gold that Ash quickly determined to be iron pyrite.

Gathering the supplies and spreading the valuables among the group (oil, lantern, sacks, rope and a bunch of relatively new miner’s picks), they started moving methodically through the deeper mining tunnels, finding evidence of extensive mining in pockets. Eventually they uncovered a chamber holding six skeletons armed and standing, looking in all directions. Fangrik approached, and from among them a black cloud appeared, slowly moving towards him, before forming into the shape of a large humanoid monster with black skin and bearing a massive rusted iron morningstar. They identified it as an Nighthaunt Oni. It breathed on him, stunning him. Combat ensued.

In the fight, a series of sharp strikes against the orc skeletons and the massive black figure that was able to stun them with its vaporous breathing, and oddly dreamlike qualities. Eventually the skeletons were all defeated, and the black figure fled, turning into black vapour before slipping away down a small, narrow tunnel deep in the mines… the group believed they had met, The Master. Aaron performed last rights on the orc skeletons (using Elvish traditions…).

Searching the remaining mine tunnels after a brief rest, they slipped back out of the mines, gathered their supplies in the upper caves, and took the rest of teh day to sleep and discuss other options.

27th of Uktar : Returning down the mountain, they brought the prisoners to the attention of the Captain of Storm Tower, where they had to explain why the men were tied-up. Fangrik reminded Taumus to keep it simple, which helped speed the process. They were given writs for 10 sp for each as a bounty. They returned back to teir apartments, checked on the girls and spent the night in the Inn of the Prancing Pegasus, feasting and taking their rest in warmth and good company.

Discussing their options, they contacted Drew to get some money on the weapons and armor they’d collected, though he convinced them to keep the two horses at least until Spring, since they were free to maintain, and the group would get good money for them then, if they didn’t want them anymore, since caravans and mercs would likely be looking for new mounts.

They also thought about the other question on their minds… what about Brightflame?


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